Friday, December 9, 2011

Belated Review/Preview

If I could take pictures with my eyes and write posts with me head, you would hear a lot more from me... maybe too much! A lot is going on my head, as usual, but not a lot of time for blogging. As I wrote about recently, blogging is just lower on the priority list right now.

November was a good month. For the most part it was calm and normal, with a few birthday parties sprinkled in to add some fun. Of course, the almost last week of the month was spent traveling - lots of traveling. It was wonderful to see family, but exhausting for us all (we had a lot of driving!).

Goal-wise I was more slack. I didn't get all my Christmas gifts bought and made. As of now, I will go to a couple stores tonight (baby free!) and get some stocking-stuffer type gifts. We still have to draw a name on my side of the family (the siblings do this) and I will have to buy for that person. Other than that, I'm done with spending! But I have a lot of gifts to still make. Once I have everything made, I will post a picture of each thing. I'm pretty excited about the ones I've done already. (This might be after Christmas, since some people who read my blog are, or parents of, recipients.) So that is my sole goal for December - finish gifts!

Until then, don't expect to hear from me really. Maybe, but probably not. It's a busy, and wonderful, time of year.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Production vs. Consumption

I listened to a podcast recently of the author of Small Notebook chatting with her friend at Simple Mom. They talked about how both of them don't really read many blogs, since they upkeep their blogs so much. When you're producing, Rachel put it, then you don't really have time to consume.

I've been mulling that comment over in my head since then. Lately I've been feeling like a shallow, dry sponge. Unable to take anything in and unable to squeeze anything out. However, I think the truth is that I am a giant, full sponge... holding it all in and processing very slowly.

I've been consuming. A lot. Not just blogs, but books, music, ideas, Scripture... Sweet Girl's presence. And I've just been soaking it all in. Producing a little - a few journal entries and some blog posts. But the amount of production compared to consumption is small. And I feel weighted down in both good and bad ways. Good in that I'm excited about the things I'm learning and bad in that sometimes what I read on blogs makes me wishful that my life was different, when in actuality, I'm very content.

My life is full, chasing a one-year-old, taking care of a house, being a wife. It's full and can be busy, but it's not like I don't have time to think. It's just that the time I have to think is spread out in short intervals. I have to realize that it's going to take me longer to process anything of depth that I consume.

And producing takes time too, especially creative producing. Sometimes things just come, like this post, but other times they don't, like as of lately. A lot of things are simply stopped up in my brain, and that's okay.

I'm still going to consume. That's the mode I'm in; I have a lot I want to learn and a lot to prepare for in the future. After all, I'm raising a family and that's a serious job!

So if you don't hear from me for a while, I'm sorry. It means I'm busy learning and absorbing. Once I process things, you can be sure I'll share. Sharing might just mean a list of things I'm consuming, but that's sharing nonetheless!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November Projects: Recipes, jars and more

Although I feel behind and a tad overwhelmed at the moment, I have actually accomplished a lot this month so far. It being the 9th day and all. Here's a look:

I bought the big, half gallon jars and my mom gave me all the quart and smaller jars. It feels so organized and looks nice too! The top shelf has grains, second baking goods, and the bottom shelf has the gluten free flours, as well as whole wheat. I wish I had room in my kitchen, but it's better we keep them in the "mud room" because it's cooler. They say you should refrigerate gluten free flours, but I just don't have room in my fridge.

I cleaned out my recipe box leaving only those recipes I still want to try. I organized all my tried and true favorites into a book my mother-in-law gave me a few Christmases ago, and made a master menu planning list of all the dishes and side dishes we love. I have to say I was pretty giddy at the completion of my "Family Favs" book - all those wonderful food ideas in one place!

I made this cute pencil roll for my niece who turned six last week. Her party is tomorrow so hopefully she'll like it! I admit, it is far, far from perfect, but maybe she won't notice... being six and all. I complimented the gift with a notepad for her to doodle or write in. The party is ballerina themed so I have an excuse to put Sweet Girl in a super fun, ruffled skirt! Yay!

No pictures, but I'm happy to say I made gluten free yeast bread and gluten free noodles for the first time this week! AND they both turned out pretty good! Especially the noodles. (And they were easy-wow!)

Now I'm working on Christmas shopping and drowning, er, swimming in doubt about what is best, when to buy, etc., etc., etc. Good thing I have over a month still!

What are you working on?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

October Review... November Preview

I was able to accomplish most of my goals for October. Personally, I worked on reading a life of a saint and doing pilate abs each morning. Both are now habits although I still have to make myself do pilates.

Around the house I organized cluttered areas, made laundry soap, updated our important information sheets, and made a habit of sorting out pictures when I upload them (aka deleting the bad ones!).

With Sweet Girl, I worked on giving her more opportunites to go potty. When I needed to go, I simply asked her if she wanted to and usually she did. Sometimes she peed; most the time, nothing. I didn't do any "lessons" with her like I wanted to.

My project for the month was scrapbooking. I was able to get everything organized as well as get the book updated through our wedding. I wish I could have done more, but I am happy to have accomplished what I did.

I had goals for my blogs that I didn't meet but I was able to create a vision and an organized approach so I hope to stay focused and write more on them.

Here are my goals for November:


  • continue doing pilates each morning
  • read Spiritual Counsels: Select Passages from My Life In Christ (St. John of Kronstadt) each day
  • say an akathist once a week

Around the House

  • wipe down Sweet Girl's chair each night
  • clean in a "zone" each week
  • buy large canning jars and organize dry goods

Sweet Girl

  • buy tights and onesies
  • plan a lesson each Tuesday
  • do lesson on Wednesday
  • have "exercise time" a few times a week


  • Organize recipes
  • Start Christmas shopping

What are your plans for November?

Monday, October 31, 2011

New Favs for October

As I said, I am hoping to start posting once a month some "New Favs" (favs is short for favorites...). This is where I share some things I have recently discovered or rediscovered and enjoyed during that month. Here we go...

1) Coconut Products - At the beginning of the month I bought a huge thing of coconut oil (very good for you!) and have been using it more, okay, a lot in my cooking. It's yummy on green beans and to cook scrambled eggs to mention a couple. Also, I bought unsweetened shredded coconut to make these awesome chicken tenders. I added it to my sister-in-law's granola recipe for the first time and it raised the bar for granola big time!

2) Joshua Bell's album Romance of the Violin. I checked it out from the library. It reminded me how much I love the violin. The album is so beautiful and relaxing. Perfect for listening to while sipping a cup of tea and reading with a candle flickering nearby.

3) Librovox - Thanks to that same sister-in-law, I now know about the amazing Librovox website. It has thousands of free audio books. Every book is in the public domain, which means they are not copyrighted. (I had no clue what that meant. I feel so educated now!) Volunteers record the book, you download and enjoy! So simple. I listened to A Little Princess on the way to and from my friends house last weekend - 8 hours worth of "reading" that would have been spent listening to music I know by heart. And Sweet Girl didn't seem to mind a bit!

4) Small Notebook blog - I already mentioned this blog, but it had to be apart of the list because it has had a big impact on me already. You will see. I have more to write about ideas I've gleaned from this site.

5) Acorns - I have never given a thought to acorns before. But as I was browsing blogs and looking for things I could put together for Mia to do, I saw acorns everywhere. I thought we just didn't have any oak trees in this area because I didn't remember seeing them as a child and I knew we didn't have any in our yard. But one afternoon we ventured out on a trail nearby (but you still have to drive to it) and found a bunch of acorns! Sweet Girl likes putting them, one by one into a jar. I like just looking at them. Whenever I see some outside, I have to restrain myself from gathering a whole handful to take home!

Blogging, Part 2

I've created some, hopefully, realistic goals for my two blogs. I have this blog and also a kind of generic family one with pictures and short updates, for family who care, but don't want to sift through my ramblings, ha ha.

I thought of an overall goal for this blog. It's sort of like a vision and something to help me keep focused and determine which random thoughts should be posted and those I should keep to myself. "A place for inspiration in homemaking, mothering, and spiritual growth." May God help me!

More concrete goals:
1) Write a review/preview each month on each blog.
2) Write monthly goals for each month on this blog.
3) Review goals at end of the month on this blog.
4) Write "New Favs" each month on this blog.
5) Write about any tips, things I learn, issues I go through, as appropriate, on this blog.
6) Write about Sweet Girl's developments each month around birth date (18th) on family blog.

So be looking for some new things! I started something new that is really helping already. I hand write my ideas for posts and even write first drafts in a notebook. I try to put this in my nightstand so when I get flashes of inspiration in the middle of the night, I can just jot it down instead of trying to remember it or having to get up. Also, I can write things down throughout the day instead of waiting for a program on the computer to load or using scraps of paper that get lost. I guess you could say I found a way to organize my thoughts! It feels good and I'm pumped up about blogging instead of feeling lost and overwhelmed. So please, stay tuned!

Do you have goals for your blog(s)? How do you stay focused? Organized? Motivated?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Blogging, Part 1

I've been reading some about blog improvement lately. I read just enough to know I am not ready or interested in reading more. I do not feel I have the time or creativity (or time to think creatively?) to follow the tips, although they are geared toward simplifying.

Doing this reading has, however, make me really think about why I blog. I mean, I don't particularly aspire, for now, to gain a huge following. The idea of authors of blogs I follow faithfully reading my blog makes me cringe. To be perfectly frank, even my best friends do not know about this blog, yet. Only a few friends who also blog and one or two others I told in a moment of boldness. And my husband. He's my biggest fan.

So if I'm not concerned with people reading my blog, why post? Why do I do it? That is a good question and and first I didn't really know. After thinking about it more, I found three reasons: 1) I like to, 2) it's a creative outlet for me and 3) it challenges me. It's a place for me to document my life and sort out my thoughts. To write for even an imagined audience is different than a journal and I enjoy trying to express myself in interesting ways.

I suppose I have a distant imagining that people will stumble upon it ad find me clever. But, that's highly unlikely since I don't put my name out there. And the clever part too.

I am still left with a desire to solidify my blog's focus and develop some consistency. I have ideas rolling around in my head, but they will have to be explored in a different post.

Why do you blog?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Under Construction

I blogged a while back about wanting to improve the look of the blog. Well, here is a new look. I like it. However, I'm not sure I will stick with it. So bear with me as I try out a few looks and let me know what you like or don't like! And if you have any tips, let me know those too!

The Road Ahead

Since we are in transition of careers and we are not sure exactly where we will be next year or in five (do any of us really?), I've been anxious about it lately. I want to know where we are meant to be and what we are meant to be doing. What is God's vision for us and our family?

This morning I read this in Jesus Calling:
"As you become increasingly aware of My Presence, you find it easier to discern the way you should go. ... Instead of wondering about what is on the road ahead or worrying about what you should do if ___ or when ___, you can concentrate on staying in communion with Me. When you actually arrive at a choice-point, I will show you which direction to go.
Many people are so preoccupied with future plan and decisions that they fail to see choices they need to make today."
Isn't it clear? Focus on TODAY. Focus on CHRIST. CHRIST IS ALL!

So, I am done. I am done worrying. I will still plan, as necessary, but I will try to remember it is all a guideline. It is not a must. So if things change, then that is okay. That it means God is stepping in and saying, "This is My plan; My will for you." And I must remember that His will is always, always better than mine.

I don't know what God's grand plan is for us, only that there is one. But what must be done today, that is clear.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Getting organized... my life, that is

I'm continuing to have the struggle of too many good ideas coming my way and not enough time or capacity to do them or sort them out. Too much blog surfing I guess.

So lately I have been taking some steps to organize my interests, time, and, well, life. The most recent is that I now I have a "blog" night. This is where after the dinner clean up, Coach and Sweet Girl have a "date" out of the house, and I have a "date" with my blogs. Starting tonight. So I spent the first 40 minutes figuring out how to upload a video on YouTube and onto my family blog. Arrrg. Anyway, I was just not making time to blog because when I did blogging, took more time than I intended to spend. This way, ideally, it is structured. I'll have about an hour and I plan to have a few things I want to do or post about. Before it was haphazard and I'd plan to do something "quick" and end up spending the whole nap time on it, or doing other things.

Another thing I've added structure to is how I spend my time on my hobbies and interests. First, I wrote them all down. This list included things like sewing, quilting, scrapbooking, organizing my recipes differently, etc. Next, I decided I would work on ONE hobby or project a month. October is scrapbooking. So far I have sewn a paper organizer (got the idea here), organized my other supplies (stickers, tags, borders, etc) and have made 3 pages to add to my started scrapbook. I am working on pages from our wedding currently. So... only 4 more years to go! I don't think I'll be caught up by the end of the month, but I may just keep working on it slowly here and there. We'll see.

November will be Christmas shopping and projects as well as reorganizing my recipes. I will post about that when I come to it. I'm not planning too much more in advance because one thing I'm learning about myself is that if I plan too far ahead, I just re-plan it as it gets closer. So I am wasting my time by planning the first time.

I think this one-hobby/project-a-month will really help me. I have enough interests to take me through the next year! And trying to find time for a little of this and a little of that all the time was driving me crazy!

Another thing I've been doing is writing out goals for the month in different areas like home, spiritual, Sweet Girl and others. I hope to post a preview each month in the future. This has helped a lot with priortizing. When I plan my week, I look at my goals and decide what things to work on that week. It really has helped me use my time wisely and get things done!

So since we've started our "normal" life after baseball in July, I feel like I have organized my home, house duties, cooking, and now, my interests. I feel so much better when things are organized and for the most part they are. But there are still things like my "Control Journal" and menu planning folder getting out of hand... the six different gluten free flours sitting in their plastic bags needing containers and the list of random projects adding up. I enjoy the challenge and the feeling of completing something.

I've really enjoyed getting ideas from the Small Notebook blog. I just discovered it and  I could literally read her stuff all day! But then nothing would be organized or simplified, now would it?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Blogging as Me

Remember the post I wrote on the skirts I made? And how I said I'm a horrible photographer? Well, it's something that really bothers me. I follow a handful of wonderful blogs. These women I read about... in my eyes, they do it all! Their blog has a wonderful design, they always have fascinating photographs (taken by them!) woven into an insightful or simply charming post.

I fumble my way through, trying to design my blog just perfect. It never is what I want. I simply don't know how to create what I want. My pictures are always less then what I want and I don't know how to get a nice border around them. I feel like it takes forever to upload the pictures AND thoughtfully write. I enjoy blogging, but I have a standard in my head I simply cannot meet.

I do this to myself in my life. My house does not look the way I want it to. My clothes are not what I want them to be. I do not have the friends or talent or time I want. On and on and on... anyone else ride this downward spiral?

The point is: I have been feeling this way the past few days. I have felt this way before. Today, I was reading some of my favorite posts and God, I know it was Him, lead me to this post that hit me so close and brought me so much comfort. If you ever feel inadequate in any facet of your life - read this!

I hope it helps you as it has helped me to at least have a vision of how to approach blogging, and life in general. God has not appointed me to be owner of a popular, perfect, updated-every-day blog. At least not now. But I am a wife and mother, daughter and friend. I am me.

You will see me fumble around here more, trying to make it more of what I want. More me. I hope to create something I can let be so I am simply write and post as is comes to me, happy with the display it comes in. I don't think God wants me to stop, or to not try new things. But He wants me to do it joyfully, as myself, and not trying to be someone or something I am not.

I will try to be more ME and worry less about what my 2 or 3 readers think! Bear with me, love me, and pray for me! This is not somewhere fancy, but it is real.

Going Back In Time

Saturday night I was in high school again, and at the same time, the me I am now. I attended my 10 year high school reunion. During the day, as the time got closer, I wondered why I decided to go. I had originally decided not to go, but my best friend from high school (and college, and now) decided to go and her reasons, at the time, made sense to me. After thinking about it more, I had decided to go.

I don't know what other high schools were like, but my class was very cliquey. You had the preps, the middle people, and the "druggies" - for lack of better terms. The middle people (the group I was in) had it's own little groups, some people closer to some than others, but we all got along and there was a lot of crossover between our groups. For example, those in band were close as were those in choir. But I was in choir and I still had friends who were in band.

Anyway, as I prepared to go to the reunion, I felt as if I had been invited to a prep party and that it would mostly be them and just a few of "us". I questioned why I was going. There were some people I was hoping would be there. Not being on Facebook, I'm not in the "know" about where people are and what they are doing, so I had lost touch with a few people I still liked.

In the end, I am glad I went, but I was right about feeling weird about it. It was still very cliquey and I didn't end up talking to too many people. I am glad I went for the sake of reconnecting with two girlfriends, one who's back in town too with a little girl just a few months younger than Sweet Girl. We had to leave just as the dinner was closing and the bonfire was started. If we had stayed longer, I'm sure I would have ended up talking to more people. As we drove away, I felt as if I had been a bit snobbish. But, I am shy and I didn't want to seem fake and talk to someone I didn't really talk to in high school. I wish I was more like Jesus and actually cared like He does for each and everyone one of them.

Everyone (and really only 20-30 people from our class were there) seemed to be pretty much the same as they were in high school, which was good and bad, depending on how they were of course. I'm sure everyone is more mature, but no one seemed to really move up or down in their "status", which really did make me sad for some people who I felt had great personalities and potential, but just were with the wrong crowd.

And now, two days later, I am still reliving that night, over and over. Sunday morning I felt as if I was trying to land on Earth again from a different planet. It felt so weird. How and why did high school have such a huge affect on me and why, after 10 years, am I reliving those days in my head and concerning myself with what those people (whom I haven't even given thought to in those 10 years) are doing and thinking?

Maybe it is because of those crazy teenage years and being with those people 8 hours a day, almost every day, for at least 4 years. It all didn't seem to matter a month ago. Now it's all I can think about. Pretty crazy and I can't seem to sort it out...

Sunday, October 9, 2011


I found myself greeting another new month, my head full of goals and plans. I am glad this month is not as busy as last month was. For one, Coach will be home in the evenings for dinner and home on the weekends, mostly. A lot of events happened in September too, one after another. October has it's fun things too, but more spread out.

The first few things happened this week already. Thursday I went to Amish land to a bulk store and a farm for fresh cheese (more on that on another post). Friday a friend came with her two children for the day and we had a lot of fun together. Saturday was my 10-year high school reunion (post coming on that too). This week is low key. Just a doctor appointment for Sweet Girl on Wednesday.

The 16th is the first day of a family reunion with my dad's siblings. It will be just a couple hours south of us and last until Wednesday morning. We will be staying in a cabin with my parents. It's a state park and the area is gorgeous, especially at this time of the year. I am really looking forward to it! Plus, they have an awesome indoor water park. I'm sure Sweet Girl will love splashing around!

The weekend after that, the 22nd, Sweet Girl and I will finally visit my friend and her new baby. We'll come home on Tuesday. Coach has things happening on campus so I thought it was a good opportunity to go.

Other than that, the days will be "ordinary" days! I'm glad to have some normalcy and hope to get some projects (and relaxing) done.

A Poem for my Second Child

"Are you in there, Little One?"
last night I thought,
before I closed my eyes to sleep.

But no, you weren't
this morning I discovered,
and sad thoughts, in my mind, began to creep.

The timing would have been perfect
lately, I had been thinking,
but, it must be so, that God has a different plan.

"I know You know best"
at prayers I told the Lord
"I will do my best to wait... and understand."

"But oh how I long for you, Little One."
at times I whisper in my mind,
when I hold your sister close - so big, soft and warm.

I'll wait until that time
whenever the Lord grants it,
and rejoice when I learn, inside you have been born.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sewing Projects

Disclaimer: I am NOT a photographer. I take horrible pictures and I apologize! I can never get the lighting right, etc, etc. Please overlook!


I made two skirts out of two dresses. The purple dress was a gift from my husband for Valentine's Day. Maybe my body wasn't back to normal shape yet, but it just fit funny. So for the longest time I planned on making it into a skirt. When I finally got around to it last week, I tried on the dress and actually liked it. I debated. Needing a pretty, plain skirt more than another dress plus a few other factors helped me decide to make it a skirt. I'm glad I did - I love it! It was crazy easy as I just had to cut the top off! 

The jean dress (that's me in early pregnancy with Sweet Girl) I have had for years. I bought a shirt jean dress recently and I have been in need of a jean skirt. I just can't find one I like. I love this dress and I've had it for years. The denim is very light in weight, but a classy dark in color. This was simple too. I cut the top off, folded the edge over and sewed, leaving a gap for elastic. Put elastic through and sewed it up. It's not perfect - a little wide around the hips, but it's good enough for now. If I get the nerve in the future, maybe I'll try taking it in. 


I made a curtain for one of Sweet Girl's windows. I love the fabric. I made a pillowcase out of it first (see bottom right). It's called "Hearty Flower", which I think could describe her. She is hearty and spunky, yet sweet and girly like a flower. Anyway, I love it and I hope to make the second Saturday. The fabric will be different, but I hope to incorporate the scrap from this one into it. Someday when we live somewhere else or have money to buy curtains, I hope to turn this into a blanket, or something more lovey than a curtain. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

This Morning

It was very hard to get up this morning. I laid in bed an extra fifteen minutes after my alarm before forcing myself out of bed. I've had Sweet Girl's cold since Thursday and though it's better, I still don't feel great. After a my morning reading, I curled up and closed my eyes on the chair. I saw Coach get up, but I couldn't bring myself to get up again. Later when he walked through the living room again, I opened my eyes to talk to him. Then I hopped in the shower before he headed off to work. 

Sweet Girl slept in while I did some cleaning for the day, a little bit of Internet surfing, and debated about waking her up... twice. I walked in her room, pulled open the curtain... but when I went to lean down and rub her back, I just couldn't. There was no reason except that I don't want her up late. I just thought, "Well, maybe she needs this rest. I know she's a lot better from the cold, but maybe she just needs more." So I waited. However, I did leave her door open and turned on some classical music while I cleaned. It did rouse her eventually I think and at 10:30, my sleepyhead was awake. 

We dressed, prayed and nursed. I fixed scrambled eggs and she ate a whole egg's-worth. Then we shared the last muffin of a batch from last week - warm with a generous pat of butter. Just the way we like it. Inside, I felt a warm joy, spending my morning with my Sweet Girl.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Whatever is Pure

"... whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things." Philippians 4:8b

We were eating our oatmeal together, Sweet Girl and me. There was newspaper crumpled on the table from a package recently opened. I thought I'd take a look at it. It was from Colorado and it's interesting to see what's going on somewhere else. So a picture caught my eye and I started reading. And when I finished, I was disgusted. I did not need to know about that. I wish I hadn't picked it up. That verse popped in my head and I realized what I should have been looking at and paying attention to all the while was right in front of me, and always is - my sweet, pure, innocent daughter... who is always teaching and reminding me of important things. Whether she knows it or not.


The plan was to leave Monday to visit my best friend who recently had her second child. But when Sweet Girl had a fever on Sunday, Plan B was to leave Tuesday. The fever was still there Monday night, so there was a dilemma of whether to leave Wednesday, or just leave next Monday since I had plans for the weekend. 

All day yesterday I fretted. Which was the better plan? Lord, make it clear to me, I prayed. Nothing, nothing until the evening; I felt we should just leave today. I let my friend know, I packed up the rest of our things and went to bed early. Sweet Girl hadn't had a fever all day. It was a great, normal day. We were set. 

But when she woke up over and over, 5, 10, 20 minutes apart. And felt very warm again, I knew we weren't going to go. And when she threw up all over me, there was no way I'd be able talk myself into it no matter how great she seemed to feel when she woke up. No, it just wasn't going to happen. 

I really don't like my plans getting changed and things not happening how I see them. I'm a planner by nature and when I have something in mind, it takes a while for me to reprogram my brain to accept a different plan. When we were living the baseball life, this was quite a problem until I just planned on not knowing. As long as I knew I wouldn't know I was okay... for the most part. Now that my life is much more predictable, I am back to liking it that way and not being as flexible. 

In my devotional book, Jesus Calling, it recently talked about not planning. I took it half seriously knowing that I had also read that for every minute you plan, you save ten minutes of the future. "Yes, planning is good." I thought. And that is true... to a degree. But when planning becomes my security, and I get frustrated when my plans get changed, then it is not good. Planning is important, but it must be flexible. And it must not become an idle. I must have faith in Christ that if my plans change, then that is okay. It may even be better than what I had planned. I need to remember to ask God to bless me when I make plans, and to guide me as I make decisions about the future. I am always being reminded of how I need to make God a part of every aspect of my life. Every part.


Sweet Girl and I went to the park yesterday. It was a beautiful day and I'd been meaning to take her for a while. Every time we would pass the church playground by the library, full of children laughing and playing, she's point longingly, and guilt would fill me for not taking her to the park each and every day. So finally we were going. Thoughts of her running across the green grass toward the stairs she would quickly climb filled my head. They must have been based on my little sister's first visit to a park in China when she was just a little older than my daughter. I was excited for Sweet Girl; she was going to have so much fun!

But instead of running, she held my hand and we slowly walked toward the playground. Instead of getting excited about the stairs, she climbed slowly after my prompting. She warmed up after a bit, but there was still no squeal as she ran to the next exciting thing. I was puzzled. Sometimes she is so outgoing and bold. Other times she acts just like I remember being as a little girl: timid and cautious. As I watched her and pondered all of this, it brought back memories of my childhood.

I've always wished I was more of the enthusiastic type. Someone who gets others pumped up, always more than ready for the next thing. Sadly, when I think of prominent memories from my childhood, they are filled with disappointment, usually after I had been excited about something. Like the time we visited a pig farm. I was so excited and I ran toward the pigs, just to slide in a big puddle of mud. It ruined the day. Another time in school, I was excited about a worksheet we were doing - some sort of word game - and I said, "Yippee!" or some other enthusiastic phrase. The teacher turned around and sharply asked, "Who said that?!" Of course, I did not tell her it was me. Maybe she thought I was being sarcastic, but at the time I did not think of that. I did not even know what it meant to be sarcastic at that innocent age.

Are these moments in my life the reason why I'm shy and cautious to get involved... afraid to say hi to an old acquaintance or a new face? Sometimes, I feel I am afraid of life. Unwilling to try new things, to break out of my routine and comfort zone. But there have been times in my life where I have done a number of new things in a remarkably small amount of time. When I started college, I met people left and right, and was excited about it. When I started my first job out of college, I was extremely personable, meeting people both within my job and socially. When we traveled around playing baseball, I continually put myself out there to meet all the girlfriends and other wives. In all these instances, I surprised myself. It wasn't like me. And now, I am back in my hometown, yet feeling like the "new girl at school." I don't have a solid circle of friends, but I am in a comfort zone enough that I don't need to seek out adventure. However, there is a craving. Yet I walk around the community in fear of coming in contact with someone who will actually talk to me. I freeze when I see someone I know and I don't know what to say. When I'm prepared, I'm okay. But if not, I'm like a turtle who retreats into my shell each time I see someone.

I know my problem is fear. Fear of rejection or embarrassment. Yet I need to find my confidence in Christ, not what a stranger thinks of me. I need to find my joy in Him, not being approved of by others. But how do I do that? I have started praying each morning that God would prepare me for whatever encounters I may have that day with others. And He has! When I am mindful of drawing my strength in Him, I can and He does strengthen me. But I'm weak and things get busy and I forget. And I get lazy and I don't want to put in the effort. It's a continual struggle. But over time, I pray I can keep Him ever closer and closer to my heart so I can boldly share Him with others by being warm and welcoming, enthusiastic and joyful, all without fear.

"But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.'" Matthew 14:27

Friday, September 16, 2011

Four years ago...

... I married the man of my dreams.

And I am so happy I did, and grateful to God for blessing me with such a perfect match to help me grow into the woman I am meant to be. It's not always easy, but it's always good. And it just gets better.

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Happy September 1st!

September may be my favorite month. To me it is the beginning of fall, my favorite season. It includes many birthday days: my youngest brother, my youngest brother-in-law, two of my best friends (same day one year apart!), my mother, and as of 12:07 am today, the second son of my best friend (one of the mentioned above)! And let's not forget the ever important wedding anniversary on the 16th, which I share with an aunt. Whew!

If that's not enough, it's a big month in the Orthodox Church. Today is the beginning of the Church year. The 8th is the Nativity (Birthday) of Mary, the mother of God. The 14th is the Elevation of the Cross (close to my heart because it's near our wedding anniversary). Also, the 16th is Sweet Girl's Name's Day (which, traditionally, can be celebrated similar to a birthday) and the 26th is Coach's Name's Day. So, yes, it's a busy, celebration-type month. I'm excited!

I set various goals for September to help me be focused with my time and energy. They include things such as blogging, reading, things with Sweet Girl, homemaking, crafting, and spiritual. We'll see how I do! I tried to keep it to only a few things per category, but my mind is brimming with things I want to do, so it was hard. More about all those later! Hope your September is blessed!

Monday, August 22, 2011

"From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed; 
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
   ~ Psalm 61:2 ~

Dear God,
Blogs are a blessing and a curse. So is all information, I guess. Sometimes I am inspired by other blogs, sometimes I get discouraged, bogged down and my vision and focus get blurred. So many beautiful blogs by so many talented women. I feel I have nothing to offer, yet I want to offer. I want to be an eloquent writer, with beautiful photographs, a great blog design, and have lots of crafty ideas to share. Or at least something unique. I read recently that each woman has a beauty distinctly theirs. I've asked You to show me mine. I still don't see it. Yes, I can think of lots of things I'm interested in, but I feel a lack of resources from all angles: money, time, space, energy... talent and ability. I know that I am doing important work, just by being Coach's wife and Sweet Girls' mother. And I love being these things and serving them. But I want a creative outlet for me and a I crave to be exceptional, recognized. Is that bad? Is it an ungrateful spirit trying to make me feel discontent? Or is it a longing to be more - who you made me to be? I know I can glorify You in all that I am doing now... and I guess my desires for more are selfish, worldly. So can You please take them? Give me a content heart with who I am, where I am. I guess I should ask you to do this each time I enter the blog world... that I can stay focused and be inspired... not compare or judge. Thank You Lord for helping me feel better already. I feel a huge weight off and I am being reminded of your little gifts today... like the hummingbird. Thank You for being such a personal, loving Father to a distracted, ungrateful, wandering daughter. May You always lead me back and may I always follow. I love You Lord. Help me learn to serve You more and more... as myself in the way only I can.
Love Always, Your Daughter Hannah

Saturday, August 20, 2011

An Unselfish Act Reaps Unexpected Return

I was disappointed. "Why would he even think of going somewhere this evening??? I mean, he'll be gone all weekend. Doesn't he want to spend time with us? Doesn't he know I don't want to be stuck at home, again, with her? Doesn't he know evenings are the hardest? Why doesn't he want to spend time with us?" These are the unformed thoughts I was feeling when Coach asked how I felt about him going to a local high school football game. He'd be back in time for the bedtime routine, he said. "He's always later than he says. Why does he always do this?" The thoughts rolled. But, for once, I did not say them. Not one. Instead I muttered, "Let me think about it." Fortunately, we were running errands. I had time to think as we drove from one to the other... or rather, pray.

I told God that I was disappointed. Yes, I looked it straight in the face. And God must have been working on my heart because instead of dwelling on it, I just accepted it. "Yes, we are fallen people... we disappoint each other. He is not perfect... and (what?)... that's okay." I actually felt that! And God comforted me, reminding that He never disappoints and He is always with me. Yes, for the first time, I could rest in God when I was disappointed and be okay with Coach not meeting my every need or want. It was liberating! I was still not looking forward to another hour on my own with a stir crazy toddler, but I trusted God would give me the strength. "I'm okay with you going." I said simply. And for the rest of the errands, I thought about it no more.

As we pulled up to our house, Coach said, "Why don't I take her with me to the football game? You can get some things done or relax."

"That would be wonderful!" I explained. And I marveled how I was so blessed. Blessed with a thoughtful husband, blessed with a break... blessed by a caring, loving God.

So I got some things done, and they both had a great time! I hadn't hoped for such a great outcome when I chose to sacrifice. It was gift alone to be able to do so, and I got another gift in return. I know it will not always feel this good or have such benefits, but I pray I will be able to sacrifice again when the opportunity arises.

Monday, August 15, 2011

We traveled this weekend to see my in-laws. I was looking forward to it for many reasons. One was that I had planned a morning out for myself. The activity: shopping! Where we live, Wal-Mart is the main store, so to go where there are countless stores and several malls, usually there are a few errands to run. Now, I wasn't going to go crazy - an hour or two of shopping is my limit before getting tired. I was simply going to pick up something for Sweet Girl at Babies R Us, return, buy diapers and browse at Target, and then to the mall to hit some favorite stores to look for bargains.

Whenever I go to a mall, I am always reminded of what our culture is really about. I guess I'm a bit sheltered since I don't watch tv, my family and friends have the same values, and I don't go many places outside of the library and grocery store. By the time I'm done, I have a bit of a culture shock and feel the need to debrief in silence. The music, the people... all the stuff.

I surely saw plenty that I wanted. I was happy to purchase a few things I had on my list (to keep me on track) and that they were great prices. Of course, I could have pined about what I couldn't buy, but I didn't let myself go down that road. Still, I remembered what that felt like, and I remembered how easy it is to be jealous of those who seem to have everything they want, buy whatever they want. On my drive home, I noticed it was so close to Sweet Girls nap time, and I was sad I had taken up so much of the morning. I missed her yet I would need to put her down shortly after I got home.

And as I did, holding her in my arms, nursing her to sleep, I was so very thankful that although I couldn't come home with all that I "wanted", I did come home to all that I needed and that which truly makes one happy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I was looking online for salt and pepper grinders. Then we began our evening prayers. I remembered. I remembered how I had read about those in the Horn of Africa, living in a drought. Starving. I wrestled again. "What can I do?" We who struggle month to month. Who are living in poverty - technically - in our own country. But yet we are so rich...

What to do? I thought of different pockets of money we have left for the month... a little food money, a little personal money, a little money in case a birthday or some unexpected need comes up. All of this not adding up to much; all of this hard to let go.

It's not that we don't have plenty of food; we do. Or that I am not willing to eat less or not exactly what I want so that others may eat; I am. But I want to provide balanced meals for my family. The last little bit of money is for fruit for the rest of the month, our upcoming open house, and maybe cheese for Sweet Girl. How do I find the balance between giving to others and providing for my family?

And then the personal money. Money I have been hanging on to in order to make my wardrobe more modest, compatible, and more of my new sense of style. Do I give this up when it's an answer to a month long prayer... an answer to agonizing about clothes that no longer fit, are stained or simply OLD? I remember one fall when things were very tight, we had no money to buy a coat for me (not just a new one - I had none). My mother-in-law gave me $10 when we went to a thrift store together. I didn't find anything there, and that Sunday I put it in the collection for the homeless, feeling that they needed it more than me. Yet I still had no coat and I was cold! And I wasn't okay with that; I resented that I gave that money away. Where is the balance in giving? I know of saints who would continually give away money and items. Those things were given to them to provide for themselves, yet they gave it to the poor. But I am no saint, and I know God does not compare us or hold us to the standards others meet. What is His standard for me?

Which brings me to more questions. Why are we so blessed to have meat and cheese, when others don't even have water and grain? To have a home that is comfortable, roomy, clean, and safe... when so many don't? In this society of "more is better", it is easy for me to look around and see all that I don't have, but if I look at the rest of the world, I see how much I do have. Enter: guilt. Guilt because of my blessings. Guilt because I can't help. Guilt because I am too weak to give up more. How much does God ask to give? I believe it is different for everyone. So how do you know what that is for you as an individual?

In Ann Voskamp's book, One Thousand Gifts, it really helped me when she wrote about this topic. She had wise words considering it: "I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks... Why would the world need more anger, more outrage? How does it save the world to reject unabashed joy when it is joy that saves us? Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn't rescue the suffering." This has helped me many times. There is righteous guilt for our sins, but there is also guilt that Satan uses, especially on women. When I feel guilty for things I can't control, I give up trust in God. I put the responsibility on myself which is an act of control. Control belongs to God. It does not help or change anything when I feel guilty for the blessings God chooses to give me. Yet when I give thanks for these blessings, no matter how outrageous they are compared to the suffering others are going through, I give glory to God, live in Christ and therefore benefit the world. If I can do this, I can brings some peace into the world, which, in some great mystery, affects everyone in the world. It does not help to question God in His choices about who gets what. Only He knows and He knows best.

I am reminded of a parable Christ told about a poor man named Lazarus and the rich man. How, after they had both died, they received the opposite of what they had experienced on Earth. Lazarus - peace and comfort in heaven. The rich man - torment in hell. When I think of those suffering in Africa, I can't help but believe that they will be rewarded one day for their suffering. And I, who am without need, must desperately pray for the salvation of my soul.

I still don't know what I should do as far as my giving for this cause... what Got wants from me. I plan to strive to rejoice in all that I have, and give the glory to God. I plan to continue to pray for guidance and strength to obey, and to pray for those suffering. How do you respond when you hear of others' suffering?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Five Current Kitchen Loves

Homey, albeit make-shift, centerpiece.

SOS pads! I feel like a domestic dummy, but I did not know about these amazing things until this spring. Now my stainless steel pots and pans look brand new again! No elbow grease required!

Home made, customized (gluten-free) pizza. Coach's: little sauce, lots of toppings, Mine: lots of sauce, sparse toppings. Of course, both got lots of cheese!

And thanks to Cooking for Isaiah by Silvana Nardone, which allows me to make baked goods for Coach (and me!). Plus some other super delicious things!

The window above the sink. My little nook.

Friday, August 5, 2011

I have been trying to keep God a part of my day, throughout my day. This is a challenge for me when I have so much else going on... and so many thoughts clouding my brain. It's not that I forget Him completely. I (finally!) remember to bless my food, and I'll have other moments where I stop and thank Him for something or say a quick prayer for strength. But these can be hours apart and sometimes after much complaining, wandering or just dwelling in discontent.

Before we left for Spring Training this February, a friend gave me a wonderful book called One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I read it slowly, soaking in each nourishing chapter. It was life changing, and it's still changing me. Slow, slow changing. Because of this book I started a list of "gifts" from God... little things that make me smile or let me know He is with me, big things that I had prayed about or am so very thankful for. I neglect it more than I'd like, adding only a few here and there. But mentally the list is longer... my physical list is not always at hand. This helps me remember God through the day, but not so much as I should. My thanks and thoughts are half-hearted, half felt. I'm too busy going on to the next thing.

I just started a devotional book titled Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. The baseball chaplain gave it to me as a gift before we left Maine. I was a little skeptical at first. Us Orthodox don't really use devotionals and this one is written like Jesus speaking to you, which seemed a little weird to me. BUT, I tried it and I have to say I love it. It has a simple, comforting idea that I can remember throughout the day. At least, my goal is to do so. Here are a few that have touched me:

  • Come to Me continually.
  • Trust Me in the depths of your being.
  • Nothing can separate you from My love.
  • Watch your words diligently.
These are the first lines. It expounds about that and there are three Bible verses that correlate to the message. For example, "Come to Me continually." talks about God being the anchor of our soul, the fact that our mind will wander, but how far will we let it? It urges to keep the rope short so we are continually coming back to Him. This was great imagery for me, and probably the one I remember most and think about the most. That day I prayed God would help me remember him more, to gently tug me back to Him. And He did. In little ways that only I would understand. How wonderful that we have a loving and personal (and patient!) God! It's hard to comprehend, and, really, accept, knowing the fact that He is also the awesome, all powerful Creator of the universe. Thank you Lord, for loving little, insignificant me. Help me to remember you more and more each day so that I am always living in You and for You.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

In the Home

We've been in our house only two weeks, but it feels a lot longer for some reason. We hung the pictures and set out decorative accessories yesterday. Ahh.... now it feels like home! I love coming into a room and seeing the pictures or icons. It puts a smile on my face. I need to update a lot of the pictures, so that's a new project to add to the list! 

Also on the list is to iron a sheet. Why? Because it covers up this outrageously large TV in the living room. The house is furnished for us and this huge TV came with it. Now, we aren't totally against TV, but we don't watch a lot of it and we don't want it to be the focal point of our living room. Someday, we hope to have a computer/game/TV room and a TV will be prominent there, but it won't be our main living room or where we entertain guests. Anyway, I agonized about what we would do with this TV! It's too big to put in the basement. It's stuck. Strong Man mentioned covering it with a cloth, which lead me to think of a sheet - off white so it blends in with the wall somewhat. In front of it we put a short TV stand with our icons. The top of the TV holds our prayers and various books where Sweet Girl can't reach. There is about two feet of blank between our icons and the top of the TV, so I plan to make a "garland" with icon cards - like a clothes line with icons paper-clipped to it. The living room also needs an update on curtains...

Another thing on the list is to really clean the sink. It's porcelain and I hope to find a good article on how to clean it to make it pretty and white. After that, most of the moving in housework will be done. Then I would like to move onto other projects like scrap booking and sewing (Sweet Girl needs real curtains in her room!). For sure, I love having a little home to take care of!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Writing Again

It's been almost a year, but I'm back for good. We have high speed internet connection, and I have lots to say! I get lots of ideas for posts throughout the day, but they seem to, of course, escape me when I try to recall them. Therefore, I will resume my "schedule" and post random things as I am able as well.

So what's going on with us? We moved two week ago, to the day, into a little house in town that my husband's work is providing. He's working as the assistant baseball coach at the local all men's college. I have enjoyed setting up the house and getting into good routines and cleaning habits (thanks to FlyLady - I recommend her book Sink Reflections). There are still things to do (especially before our open house in two weeks!), but daily life prevents too much of it getting done quickly. Bit by bit though...

Sweet E is such a little toddler now - no longer a baby! She is quite expressive and has her own ideas about everything! This is both good and challenging at times (like getting dressed). Also, there are times we both get frustrated because she is trying to tell me something by saying "da, da" (her word for just about everything) and I am looking at her clueless. However, she has started to sign some, which I had given up on! My favorite is that she can sign banana. She also is pointing, so that is helpful.

Today is thrift store day, and I'm very excited! I haven't been to them (there are 2 great ones plus a Goodwill here in town) in quite a while, and I actually have some money and things on a list to hunt for! W is not working this morning so he'll have E. I like shopping with her because she's good and fun, but it's also easier without her. I have a lot of little errands to do also.

I sigh when I think that this blog is not and never will be as eloquent or well written as other blogs I love and read. But this is me. This is my life. It helps me to share and maybe it'll help someone else too. Or at least be entertaining and enjoyable. No matter, I hope it blesses. I know it blesses me. Have a wonderful Wednesday!