Thursday, October 31, 2013

Making Art

I looked over the email after the four hour drive in the rain, and there were Emily's posts - prodding me to be more. To make art.

we will make art

I've been reading them all month, nodding my head along to the words, being inspired to embrace my art. But when I read about linking up, I went blank. What do I have to show? A picture of my kids? I know my art, this home and these hearts, but it sounds so ordinary. Yet, full of potential for extraordinary.

And then Sweet Girl asked me, could I help build a house? One with chairs and pillows and blankets. And I thought, "This is one of those moments. To step out of the ordinary, and make extraordinary memories."

So we built one, and it took less than five minutes. Immediately Michael and their father joined in on the fun, and I was forgotten. That's okay. I took a moment out for her. I chose not to be selfish. That feels good.

Every day is filled with these opportunities. I pray I can make the right choice more than I don't. I pray it can get easier... to choose to do right, to give, to love, to make art, even if it doesn't look like it.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Why are we so busy?

This question has been running in my head and passing through my conversations for months now. Why do I not have time to clean the house, have a meaningful conversation, call my friends? Why do I not have time for the things we enjoy - a craft, a good book, a cup of tea?

Doubtless, I am not the first person to ask this question. And there are surely people who don’t feel this way - who do have the time they want for the things they want it for. But in my little world, it does not seem the case. And we live in a small town and mostly don’t watch television.

 Life is simply more complicated than is used to be. Families don’t live near each other anymore. We work away from family and friends for the majority of our time (usually doing something we don’t even like). There are a so many ways to “keep in touch” that’s it’s hard to keep up with it and so many people to keep up with that it rarely happens. Any decision involves an thousand options. Everything seems complicated.

We are a mobile society. Since our family has a car and can drive, then we take 7 hours to visit my husband’s family. And that’s time we’re not getting to simply relax at home. And while time there is important and great, it means that we very, very rarely have a “normal” weekend at home.
Which brings me to work. My husband’s job requires a lot of weekends, so when he is home on a weekend, something else is usually happening to keep it from being a lazy (or productive-around-the-house) kind of time. This factor for us, work, is something I’ll address in another post.

For me, it seems there are many factors. I feel busy because I put a lot on my plate. I want a clean home, homemade meals, homeschooled kids, to attend all church services, and time to read, write, sew, and exercise (to name a few). Well, I have two little ones who require a lot of time, energy, and attention. But part of this stress, I feel, is from the state of our society today. Running a home is not as simple as it used to be. And many of us were not taught how to manage a home like it was taught “back in the day”. I don’t run my house a certain way because that’s the way my mother did, because that’s the way her mother did, and her mother before her. I run it the way I do because I’m still trying to figure it out! Shortly after I got married, I read Sink Reflections by the Fly Lady and it was great! But once I had children, it didn't work anymore. So I’m still trying to figure it out. And I’m not just figuring that out, but just how to manage life in general.

Another thing for me is that it takes me a long time to make a decision. Lots and lots of choices are not good for a person like me! I want to know all my options. I want to weigh them, think about it for a while, and go back and forth for as long as possible. I just want to make a good decision, especially when it comes to spending money. So, for example, shopping online can really can eat up a lot of my “free” time. I am working on this.

In general, it feels like our life is disconnected. There’s work and the people at work, there’s church and the people at church, friends, and family. Some are connected, some are not. To be fully engaged with each section of our life is exhausting. We are getting exhausted. And as our family grows, we’ll need even more time together as a family that will put even more strain on these other factors of our lives. This has got to be addressed.

This question, these thoughts, they are stirring a movement within our home.

Do you feel busy too? If so, why? If not, what do you do to keep life balanced?

our bedroom

I had said way back in January that I was going to do a lot of home improvements to this temporary home. And I have. I already posted about the kitchen, and I have been waiting to do a "grand" post about all the other changes. Just as I was writing this, I realized that, really, the only room that's not "done" is the living room. And that might be another month.

So instead of one big house tour post, I will do it room by room, each weekend. (Although, I didn't have time to finish this yesterday, so it may come on Monday, or get skipped. You know how it goes.) Maybe I'll be "done" with the living room after I've posted about all the other rooms. And I keep writing "done" like that because, to me, no room is ever done. It means it's just "good enough for now until I change my mind/think of something better/get sick of it." It's just always evolving. However, it's usually minor changes and all the big changes have happened for the most part.

So... let's get on with it shall we? I've mentioned our bedroom a couple times, so here are some pictures and I'll tell the story.

Where our room was before...
We switched rooms with Sweet Girl in June, and put her and Michael together. Best idea ever! So thankful for that!

After the move, but before the recent change

And now...

Straight-ahead, closet to the right. Replanted basil plants in the southern light. Make-shift curtain. :) 

So I pulled out this blanket from between the wall and my daughter's bed about a month ago and I thought, "This is really cute!" I never really cared for it before, but it must have been the influence of Pintrest and fall. I'm really digging blue, yellow, and chevron. So, I put it on the bed, changed the pictures on the magnet board (our "head board"), the curtains, and added a few touches. It's very fall, so we'll see how long it lasts...

Some of my favorite things are on this dresser (okay, it's originally a changing table, but must we get technical?). In the frame is a card given to me from my grandparents when I was a baby. At the top it says "Everything wonderful" and, as you can see, the picture is a mother (with red hair!) with a daughter, son, and baby. So basically me - well not quite yet. But someday, and I love it. The dried petals are from my wedding bouquet.

As I decorated, I tried to keep in mind that this is a special place for me and my husband. It needs to be about and for US. So I tried to make it as lovey as possible. He'd probably add some baseball pictures, but where's the romance in that? He is happy about the blanket since the colors are the same as where he went to college. And, for now, I'm happy with it too. Not perfect, but pretty.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

all these things :: october 24

Just an overview of what is current in my life. A snapshot of how I'm trying to give "all these things" to Him and truly seek first His kingdom in my life. 

"And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches  in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong." ~ 2 Cor. 12:9-10

heart & soul :: I read that verse this morning, and thought, "That's just what happened to me yesterday." If only I could keep that perspective at all time. I also have been rereading this verse I wrote out, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory..." ~ 2 Cor. 4:17. So, trying to give thanks for struggles around here.

mothering :: Being inspired again by Raising Godly Tomatoes to look at the heart of my children and think through what I say before disciplining. ~ Having a one year old is trying at times, but also hilarious and exciting with all the new things happening around here. And just yesterday I looked at my daughter and realized just how quickly she is changing.

home & kitchen :: I "finished" our bedroom - for now. I'm pleased with it. It's not perfect, but I'm not striving for that. Just pretty and practical. I hope to post this weekend when I can take some pictures, with good lighting.

rhythm :: Although things have been "busy," it doesn't feel busy. Each day holds it's own tasks and all is well in the evening. Even when we had the busy weekend with the bishop (which was wonderful), Monday morning just felt normal. And we left that following Wednesday for Pennsyvania to visit my sister-in-law and her family for the rest of the week (which was also wonderful). We got back Saturday evening, unpacked and had a normal bedtime, and everything felt normal come Sunday morning. I'm really enjoying having my husband home each evening (and the weekends, for the most part). We do little family things like take a walk or go to the library. I know I'm getting spoiled because come March, I'll be all on my own most evenings. But for now, I'm really enjoying the rhythm. Oh, and I've only gotten five things done on my list of 25... but it's progress.

learning & growing :: I planted bulbs Tuesday. I got them on freecycle, so I don't know what they are. Some of them had sprouted in the bucket they were in. I hope that's not a problem... Never done this before, so we'll see! My lettuce never got past sprouting here and there. Hubby and I dug up basil plants from my mom's garden and I potted them up. We'll see how they do. If they don't make it, I'll sprout some seeds and try that route. ~ And I've been learning a lot about living environmentally friendly and self-sustainable. I'll share more at the end of the month (and even more later on).

looking forward to... having a dance lesson with my hubby tonight (as in, leaving any minute!). It was his anniversary gift to me. Free lesson plus sales pitch. Should be interesting! And then visiting my friend Carrie in Ohio next week. She had her third little boy at the beginning of the month and I'm hoping to help her out some while I'm there. Even if it's just watching all the kids. And I'm looking forward to not traveling/spending the night anywhere until Thanksgiving! I'm sure I'll be ready for a trip by then, bur for now, I'm ready to be done.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

how God used bing, xbox, and a treadmill to soothe my soul

I went to bed with a heavy heart and woke with it just as heavy. The to-do list so long, but so many things preventing progress with things of the future weighing on my mind. And I didn't want to go run. I just wanted to sleep.

But I trudged on, trying to give thanks for the the trials.

I turned on the tablet, plugged in the head phones, and started the treadmill. On went xBox music, faster went my feet. But I needed something to look at. "Pretty landscapes" entered into Bing. With the flip of my finger... lakes, mountains, clouds.

As I looked at the pictures, I was awed by God's amazing creation. I realized that if He can create that, then he can fix my petty problems, or at least soothe my soul and give me peace. How little my faith is.
And a song played words:
Cause I know I could love you the most
If I were the one you chose
You wouldn't ever have to walk alone
And there is not a thing I wouldn't do
If I lived my life for you
We could have everything because I know you…
Never know what you have 'til it's gone
No, you never know what you have  
(Jon McLaughlin - You Never Know)

 And I heard:
Cause you know I can love you the most
If I were the one you chose
You wouldn't ever have to walk alone
And there is not a thing I wouldn't do
If you lived your life for Me
You could have everything... (peace, joy, salvation)

And I almost cried. And nodded my head. "Yes, Lord. Yes. You make this wonderful creation. You can do all things. You touch my heart. I want to live for you. Help me..."

Monday, October 21, 2013

the beginning of a journey

I have been hinting for a while that I have some thoughts I want to share with you all. I've been preparing, writing, and thinking. I still don't feel "ready," but that's okay. There's no real end to the thoughts; I can't just be "done."

There will be many posts connected with a similar theme, but I am not calling this a series because I don't see the end to them. Instead it's the beginning of a journey. A journey my husband and I have talked, thought, and prayed about for over a year now. My hope is to share this journey with you here, in a semi-organized way.

This journey of ours is toward a simpler life. I'll explore questions like:

       Why are we so busy?
       How can we spend less money?
       How do we use our resources wisely?
       How does one do less, yet be more?
       What is community, and how do we grow it?

I certainly don't have all the answers, but I will share my thoughts and the conclusions we have come to for ourselves. I will share steps I've already taken to save money, live more naturally, and how I manage our home. I'll share our vision, the values guiding us, and our hopes for the future.

Each Monday, I will post about this journey. My hope is to inspire and encourage, and be inspired and encouraged as well. There's a lot going on in our hearts right now. This is a place for me to organize these thoughts and dreams, as well as share them with all of you.

Monday, October 14, 2013

i am a collector

This morning I made a discovery about myself, through a creative personality quiz. I've been learning a little about creativity through this series at Pure & Simple.

I've never really thought of myself as all that creative, and certainly not an artist. But that is all changing thanks to this site, and Emily at Chatting at the Sky. It's liberating, fun, and exciting.

My discovery? I'm a "collector," which does not mean I collect a bunch of trinkets and organize them creatively (that's what I first thought of...). It means I collect ideas. Here's their definition:

Collectors gain inspiration from different sources and then compile them to create something completely their own. Their creative style is best described as a collage – a melded blend of ideas they have gathered over the years, from many different sources. (from Pure & Simple)

This is me very much so. I never would have been able to word it, but after reading it, I went "AHA!" And we all love those moments. I understand myself better, and therefore am able to embrace myself more, being thankful to God for this part of me.

So, why don't you take the quiz?! It's about 5 questions. Is it right or wrong?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

all these things : : october 10

Just an overview of what is current in my life. A snapshot of how I'm trying to give "all these things" to Him and truly seek first His kingdom in my life. 

heart & soul :: I had a few big ideas pop into my head recently, at different moments. So I'm praying about those. Hoping to share one of them with you all in the coming months... Also been thinking about community a lot, and it's been a hot topic in this house (in a good way). More thoughts on that to come.

mothering :: You know what? We are okay this week. My daughter is in the "Why?" stage. And when I tell her to do something (without a reason - something I've been working on), she says, "Why?" And instead of explaining, like I am inclined to do, I am working on saying, "You don't say 'Why?', you say 'Yes mama' and do it." And the little guy is doing okay too... still getting into things, but for the most part, is content. He is working on words. Yesterday he said, "Toilet." (We were by a toilet while I was changing his diaper, and I was saying it to him.) I have a witness! No surprise coming from a boy who first pulled himself up on a toilet! True story.

home & kitchen :: Monday I was thinking about how excited I was about the food I was preparing that night and the next. And I thought, "We should invite some friends over to share it with." And we did, and it was great! I really want to do that kind of thing more often. I usually let things get in the way. But this was a good start.

rhythm ::  I've been trying to change my personal rhythms during Quiet Time and in the evening. Less computer, more sewing, reading, writing, and thinking. It's hard changing habits, but I'm working on it.

learning & growing :: Monday I started listening to "The Day Boy and the Night Girl" by George MacDonald while I run. So far, it's very interesting - and it helps the time pass! ~ We put together our "compost cage" Tuesday night. (That's what I'm going to call it.) I had noticed the perfect sliver of the moon, and at some point, mentioned it to Sweet Girl before she went to bed. So I carried her out to look at it, and all the splendid stars. Even being in town, it was a pretty sight. She talked about how God hung the moon and I talked about how far the stars are and how amazing God is. As we walked in the house she said, "That was fun." I look forward to many nights of stargazing, hopefully in the country one day. ~ I downloaded my first ebook Saturday, and then another, and another, and another last night! I don't want this to become a big trend, but two were free, one was $0.99, and only one was a real purchase at all. I still prefer paper, but it works.

looking forward to...  an evening with my husband with him in a suit and me in a dress (and heels that I just found today!) on Friday, even if it is a work event. It's still a nice dinner without kids. And of course, our bishop's visit the two following days.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, October 7, 2013

how to determine the difference between a need and a want

Last month, my girlfriends and I met like we do every month. That particular night we asked some big questions:

                "What is a need?"
                "What is a want?"
                "What is the difference?"

I thought we were opening up a big box of big, unanswerable questions that we would have to take home and still have few answers. I thought it would be very complicated. Unsortable.

But it wasn't. 

The answer was actually very simple. Think you have a need? Is there something you want?

Bring it to Christ. Pray about it. 

When we offer a concern to Christ then the responsibility of deciding if it is a need, a reasonable want, or an unnecessary want, is lifted from us. If we pray, and wait, and listen, He'll make it clear to us. Maybe it will be a great sale (or thrift store find) at a time when we have the money. Maybe it will be that someone we know is giving it away. And even sometimes, after praying and waiting, we go ahead and buy it at full price - buying something quality but affordable. Sometimes though, the desire for the prayed for object simply goes away.

It still takes discernment. There's still a lot of navigating. But we have a guide in Christ. There are no rules you can follow. No list of needs and okay wants and what to avoid. It's case by case. Prayer by prayer.

Living within our means, in a modest way (in America) is tough. Society is telling us to have more. It can feel like the Church tells us to have nothing. But, really, I think most of us are called to be ordinary. To live a simple, humble, ordinary, moderate life - always looking to Christ for guidance on what that means for us personally. And always seeking His kingdom, where we will someday have all we need and want for nothing.

(Big thanks to my wonderful group of friends who formed these thoughts! I only put them in order.)

Friday, October 4, 2013

all these things :: october 4

Just an overview of what is current in my life. A snapshot of how I'm trying to give "all these things" to Him and truly seek first His kingdom in my life.

No special event today, but on the 2nd, my best friend had her third child (a boy)! Thank God everything went fine and all are well. (And that I got a great convo in with her the evening before he came!)

heart & soul :: Yesterday I was spurred by this post to think about how God chose to make me, and to give more grace to myself - and everyone. And to hug my kids tighter. I especially like this line "You are not machine or robot or list, you are human – warm, tender,living." (Emily P. Freeman) The whole post reminds me of this line: "Glory to Thee for calling me into being." (Glory to God for All Things Akathist) I'm really enjoying her whole 31 days series. Is anyone else seeing these everywhere!? I thought about doing it, but I'm just not ready. Time-wise or as a writer. Which reminds me, I've been thinking about this blog of mine more - what kind of direction I want to take it (try to grow or not bother? monetize or not?). For now, I am just really enjoying sharing, and having a few extra visitors (according to the stats). 

mothering :: Yesterday I started working on the "infant tantrums" that are going on around here. I just read about them in Raising Godly Tomatoes. I've got my work cut out for me. ~ Lately I've really been enjoying Sweet Girl, which is so nice since we butt heads often. At least we have in the past... hopefully it won't always be that way! This morning she got one of her "babies" up and said prayers with her. Made my heart melt. 

home & kitchen :: I forgot to mention this before, but we've been using a new appliance - a counter oven. Think huge toaster oven, although it's technically not that. I've been baking all kinds of things in it lately (yesterday: fresh butternut squash from friends) and warming up everything. Sooo much better than the oven (and no, we don't use a microwave). Big thanks to my brother and sister-in-law for giving it to us! ~ We'll be getting a couple pieces of furniture from friends on Sunday, so I will be rearranging again. (And I'm so exited about it!) God is so good in how he provides for us! ~ Hoping to get a new (okay, real) compost system set up this week or next. ~ Things are coming together in the bedroom so I'm excited to share that with you soon!

rhythm :: The past few days since we got back from our trip have been very nice. I love getting back into routine. ~ I have 25 "projects/to dos" for the rest of the year. I'm not letting myself add anything, so, inevitably, I have started a list for 2014. :) This is me. I always think if I get x, y, and z done, then I'll be "done" and I can "relax" and just read books or watch a movie. But that never happens. Hence the rhythm aspect: I am toying with how to slow down my growing "to do" list. I know this is just how I am, but at the same time, I need to manage it so that I'm not feeling overwhelmed with all these things I want to do. I guess praying over a list and asking for discernment would be a place to start.

learning & growing :: Two other 31 days series that are connected are titled "Less & More." (two separate links) I'm really excited about these series. So far it's got me thinking about what I'm afraid of, and what I need courage for. And though there are probably lots of things that would fit that answer, the only thing that came to mind was more fully giving myself to my kids. I think this is more of a selfish issue than fear, but I still think it needs courage. So I'm hoping to grow in my sacrifices for my children. Like telling a story to Sweet Girl, when I really don't like doing it. Or just stopping what I'm doing to hold Bubba for a bit. To get past myself and my big agenda and just slow down for them a bit. I think I'm afraid of getting "behind" or not getting enough time for me and then, then... I don't know, being grouchy or feeling like I need a break. But usually, if I do just enter into them, all I feel is joy and peace because I am truly seeing them. 

Looking forward to... tomorrow - waffles for breakfast! Okay, seriously... weekend of the 12th our (new) bishop is coming to visit for the first time! Which means I'll be super busy next week, but I'll have a lot off my plate when it's over. (And maybe that's what I'm really looking forward to...)

Hope you all have had a great week - and will have a great weekend!