Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Re-Purposing an Old Family Pass Down

***Update 10/9/14 - Thank you  Liz Marie  for an awesome Link Party.  Please take the time to hop over to her  site  and view the other awesome ideas! My husband and I recently re purposed an old desk that has been passed down five generations on my side of the family.  It was like taking a stroll through my family history.  When my husband striped the paint, we found five different shades of paint!  With each shade, we called my mom and tried to figure out who painted which paint and why.  We also removed the seat cushion and found multiple layers of old fabric, it was so interesting! My husband treated the desk with love and care.  He was very careful as he striped away the paint, re-stained the old wood, added fresh paint and displayed the beautiful distress of almost 200 years.  We don't know the exact age of the desk, but we do know it came with my family when they left Scotland in 1827. Take a look.  :)
I did not want the inside of the desk painted.  Also, I lined each compartment with random pieces of scrapbook paper.  I did not glue the paper to the wood because it is so old.

I do not know the original use of the desk.  Although, I envision it to be a desk that held stationary and home management type things.  I am using the desk for jewelry, make up, perfume, all things girly. :)  It is such a great space for organization.

I love that my husband exposed the dark wood on the top of the writing area.  It has so many scratches and dents, so much family character.

On the top of the desk, I am displaying several of my favorite things.  

Both the vase and plate have been passed down.  I think they are beautiful.

The wooden heart shaped jewelry box was made by my grandfather, Warren Johnson, in high school shop class, 1946.

This compartment is so special to me.  I have a rolled up piece of fabric left over from one of my grandmother's skirts (Esther Johnson - read about herehere, or here).  I just love it.  A couple of years ago, my cousin had pictures of my grandparents framed and matted.  The matte was the fabric of the skirt, she gave us the leftover pieces.  So beautiful. :)

This is a poem that was left in my stocking when I was six years old.  My grandmother insisted my guardian angel (which she named Adora) left the poem.  :)  Now each of my children have the same poem in their rooms.

My next project is to recover the seat with just the right fabric.  :)

I have seen pieces like this in so many magazines.  I am so lucky to have something so interesting and with so much family love and history.  The refinish cost absolutely nothing since we already had the paint striper, stain, and new paint.  The scrapbook paper for the shelves were left over scraps from other projects.

If you are interested in more history of this desk please continue to read.  

How the Desk and My Family Came to the United States
In 1827, my great, great, great grandparents (John and Margaret Baird) left Scotland for a new life.  John, who made flour for a living, told his wife about a man who was taking a large boat to America.  The man could only take 50 people.  John and Margaret packed a small trunk, a few pieces of furniture, dishes, blankets, and the family Bible.  They left the rest of their family and boarded the boat with their three daughters.  

The boat left at the beginning of January 1827.  It was extremely cold and conditions were horrible.  The trip was only suppose to take 4-5 weeks, but due to the ice and fog the boat drifted near New Foundland for an extra six weeks.  After eleven weeks, the boat finally landed in Canada.  Everyone and their belongings got off the large boat and boarded smaller boats for a trip down a river.  The men rowed the boats with oars or pushed them with poles.  Night after night the boats would be pulled up to shore and the men would build a big camp fire.  The women would cook supper, and then the men would sleep in blankets on the shore while the women and children slept in the boats.  

Eventually, they arrived at the spot on the river where they planned to live.  All of the men built one large, long house.  Each family had its own bedroom and living room.  All of the families shared the same kitchen and dining room.  They also built a store where they could buy supplies from traders who passed through the area.  As one could imagine, over time the space became to small and the families began to bicker and argue.  

There was only one ox and three Indian ponies to help with the farming (no one had any real farming experience).  Also, the Indians were extremely unfriendly and dangerous.  John and Margaret, very kind and loving Christians, did not like the fighting.  When the next winter came, John and a few other men headed out.  They walked across the frozen river to get to Michigan in the United States.  They found jobs with American farmers and were able to go back and get their families.  The following year, John and Margaret were told that there was an Indian attack on many of the people who stayed in Canada, all of their belongings were burned.  

*** The desk started in Scotland, was moved to Canada, then Michigan.  It stayed  in Michigan for many, years, then was moved to Illinois.  When my mother and father moved to Texas in 1988, the desk also made the move.  Now it is in my home and brings us much joy in our master bedroom.

*** The family Bible (mentioned above) is also still in the family.  It too is almost 200 years old and lives with my mother's brother and my most favorite people, Uncle Dave. :)

I wonder what items of mine will be treasured by my great, great, great, grandchildren?

* On a totally different note, our DIY Coffee Bar has hit over 2,000 re-pins on Pinterest!!!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

DIY Planked Wall - Bedroom Makeover

Which part of your house has never been finished?  Is it your kitchen, living room, bedroom?  For us, one of the saddest areas of our home was our master bedroom.  This coming fall, we will have lived in our home for 8 years.  We have never really finished our master bedroom.  We have worked tirelessly on other areas of the house (Distressed Window SeatsKitchen UpdateLiving Room ShelvesLiving Room Credenza, School Organization CenterKitchen Coffee BarKitchen Burlap Curtain) but never made it to our own room.  Why?  My main guess is that no one else sees it so it doesn't top the priority list.  However, it had gotten so bad that I didn't even want to go in there.  We haven't quite finished the room but I do want to show you the main feature.  We call it, "The Wall".  This project took on a life of its own.  We love it so much, it makes the room feel completely different.

So, it doesn't get much more blah than this - awful!  Doesn't is just scream relaxing and romantic?!  The walls were beige, the carpet is beige, and our bedding was brown and taupe.

It was my husband's idea to plank the main focus wall (using interlocking pine planks).  He is very handy and I knew even though there were moments that it looked really bad, he would finish it in a spectacular way.  Also, notice the awful blue color on the walls...ummm, that was just one of those bad decisions.  We later covered it with a beautiful light grey.  Sorry I don't have any pictures adhering the planks to the wall.  It was definitely a two person job and required all hands on deck.

This was the scary moment.  We stained the planks a dark grey color.  I believe it was suppose to look like a weathered fence.  At this point, my stomach began to hurt and I started pacing the house.  

We hated the stained look.  So we decided just to paint it white.  Worst case scenario we would have a solid white planked wall.  I have seen that several times in high end magazines and on Pinterest.

Ok, stay with me.  :)  We decided we didn't like the solid white look so we began to distress it.  We did everything we could to that wall to get the distressed look.  We hit it with hammers, scrapped it, and (as shown above) torched it!  Yep, that's right - we torched it!!!  We even let the kids bang on it.  At first they looked at us like we were crazy.  That only lasted a few seconds, then they jumped right in!   

This is a really late night picture of my husband working on the wall.  Notice the three lumps sound asleep in our bed.  Do your home projects go late into the night?  Our  projects take over the house.  The kids fall asleep wherever, we eat fast food, listen to our favorite 80's and 90's music, and I think the kids get bathed... maybe.  :)

More torching.  I like this picture because you can see the blue from the torch.

And finally, the finished product.  Let me introduce you to, "The Wall"!!!!  We changed the bedding with a dark grey quilt and dark aqua pillows that I found at Target.  Don't forget to scroll back to the top to remind yourself how bad the room looked before. :)

Some day we will replace the carpet but it just isn't in the budget right now.

I would love to find something that adds a pop of color to the shelf.  I am still searching for that perfect item.

My husband built this shelf out of a 2X6 piece of wood.  He carved, burned, and stained it to make it look like an old piece of wood.  He also made the steel shelf holders.

Ok, so I know this is upside down for the camera.  He carved our initials and "I "heart" U" on the underside of the shelve.  Now when I lay in bed I can look up and see our initials, it was such a sweet touch.  

We found the lamps at Home Depot.  I love the texture and it added more of a masculine touch.

I wanted to show the framing around the wall.  The entire wall is framed in to give it a finished look and to hide any uneven edges from the planking.

We displayed black and white photos form our wedding.  I wanted the room to be centered around our marriage - not our kids and their toys! :)

Here is an up close look at the carving, burning, and splitting of the wood.  Remember this started as a plain 2X6 piece of wood.

Let's end with a reminder of the finished product.  I L.O.V.E it!!!!  

***Update 10/9/14 - Thank you Liz Marie for an awesome Link Party.  Please take the time to hop over to her site and view the other awesome ideas!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pockets of Joy

This  moment definitely went into my pocket of joy. :)

Do you have a pocket for joy?  Wouldn't it be great if we each had a physical pocket for storing joyful moments?  It would be especially nice on a hard day to sit down and go through that pocket and all of those wonderful memories and moments. "Pocket of joy" is something my husband and I started using because we were having such a hard time staying focused on the positive and falling down the slippery slope of the negative.  Parenting is hard, add a child who struggles in various areas and it just adds to the mess parenting can so often be.  It is so easy to fall victim to the enemy and his plan to pull you down and keep you as low as possible. Each time we witness something special (small or large) we look at each other and whisper "pocket".  It may be realizing that all three kids are playing together as if they really love each other. :)  It may be a larger moment like a Cub Scout Crossover, scoring a goal at a soccer game, or a dance recital.   Some days have lots of "pocket" moments and other days...well, lets just say, not so much.  Those "not so much days" are the times we try to remind one another of earlier moments we already stored away.  I often reference the verse, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."  Psalm 139:14.  I trade out "I" and replace it with the name of which ever dear, sweet child needs a little extra prayer and compassion.  If I am being100% honest, I better tell you that I am usually reciting that verse and gritting my teeth at the same time.  :) When parenting begins to feel like a job, when you feel like you just don't have anything left to give, try coming up with a small gesture or word to share with your loved one.  It will help both of you gain perspective and remember your blessings.
As much as I love the picture above, this is a more accurate family portrait! :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tried and True Time Savers (by moms who really know)

If only the laundry, groceries, and home management could do its self, I could sit on this peer and take a nap. :)

Wow!  I got such a great response from friends on Facebook when I asked for favorite time savers.  It was such a great turnout that I am breaking the post into two categories:  Tried and True Time Savers and Tried and True Home Management Tips (coming soon). I think I have a pretty good handle on time management tips (because I am definitely a planner) but it is a topic that I love to discuss.  How dorky does that sound?  Please don't answer that! :)  But seriously, I do love to discuss this topic with other moms.  I enjoy hearing their ideas and what works and doesn't work for their families. Since we are talking about time savers, I will try to keep this short.  :) Groceries (This was one of the largest subjects commented on by other mothers).
  • It seems the number one rule was to make a weekly menu and only shop for groceries once a week.
  • Another favorite was to shop only once a month.  This is a great method if you have deep freeze and your monthly budget allows for a really large grocery bill all at once.
  • Note busy nights on your menu and plan croc pot or slow cooker meals for those evenings.
Prepare the Night Before (Another huge topic of agreement)
  • Almost every mom who participated stated that she prepares as much as possible the night before.  Here are some of the main items that can easily be prepared at night.
    • coffee pot and cup ready to go (this one made me smile, obviously coffee is really important to a lot my mommy friends, myself included)
    • lunches
    • cut up fruit or prepare breakfast casserole for the next morning
    • family members lay out or organize the next day's clothing
    • load and start dishwasher (unload in morning)
    • when baking a casserole, double your recipe and then divide into freezer safe containers (family or individual size), write the temp and time for baking on the top of the container and store until needed
Laundry (I was relieved to hear it is the never ending chore at most homes)
  • Here are a couple of different laundry ideas.  Pick one that works for you or use one to slightly alter your current laundry routine.
    • no laundry baskets upstairs - kids must bring down their laundry every night and sort into baskets in the laundry room (this is from my list of time savers - I LOVE IT)
    • have one day specifically designated to laundry - nothing else is on the list for that day 
    • purge your closets - there is no reason to have more clothes than the amount of laundry you are willing to keep up with
    • teach your children to do their own laundry (wash, fold, put away), playing is not allowed until laundry is finished
    • start each morning by throwing in one load of laundry
    • complete 1-2 loads of laundry per day
    • If you have a timer on your washer, load it the night before and set it to begin one hour before you get up.  By the time you wake up, you already have one load ready to go into the dryer.
    • fold and put away immediately
    • storage cubicles for each kiddo's clothing - organize clothing for the entire week on Sunday afternoons
Extra Topics
  • Save one day out of the week to complete your to-do list.  Prioritize the most important items on your list and get the entire list done.
  • If you are having a hard time fitting in exercise, wake up before everyone else and workout at that time (ugh....note prepare the coffee the night before)
  • I always clean out the trash in my car while pumping gas.
  • If you would like to read more, click here to view a post I wrote on similar time savers this past July.
Thank you to my great friends for sharing so many great favorite tips.
(Kristi, Jessica, Tarah D., Stephanie, Mom, Libbie, Leslie, Stacy, Amy H., Audra, Kelly, Amy W., Tara S., Bethanie, Alyssa) * Sorry it wasn't very short, so many good ideas!!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Simple Spelling Word Practice

My son does not enjoy spelling words, spelling work, and especially spelling tests.  They drive him crazy.  He knows how to spell the words but often forget letters.  I really think it has something to do with his ADHD.  I can tell him to go back and look at his words and he always notices that he forgot a letter here or there, which frustrates him beyond belief.  Neither one of us look forward to his daily spelling time because it tends to be a bit stressful; bringing out a lot of his anxiety which leads to my frustration and then his frustration and then my anxiety....oh you get the picture.  It is not fun! I have been racking my brain to come up with other ways for him to show me that he can spell his weekly list of words.  I can't even count the number of times I have looked up fun ways for spelling on Pinterest, Google, etc.  After feeling like we have tried every trick in the book I decided to give up and just keep beating my head against the wall with our normal weekly spelling routine.  Until today... I listed each word twice (one version spelled correctly and the other slightly off).  I told him to circle the correctly spelled word and then underline the letters that made him recognize it was spelled correctly. It worked!!!  He loved it AND he got a 100.  I even told him he could use his spelling book if he wasn't sure of a word (since this was not a test) but he didn't even need to do that.  Success in spelling!!! Hallelujah! Praise God!!! Here are two pictures showing the front and back of the assignment.  I guess I could have typed the list in a really cute font and on fun paper but I wasn't sure this assignment was going to be a success, so little effort went into it.  :)

Page 1

Page 2

This was a fantastic switch up for spelling.  He enjoyed having something new and different and I really got a good feel for his ability with this list of words.

If you have a kiddo who struggles with spelling give this idea a try.  Hopefully you will find success with it like we did!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

God Gave Me You and You to Me (loving YOUR family, right where it is)

I have been a mother for a little over 9 years; 9 years, six months, and 1 day (but who is counting?).  :)  I heard on a morning talk show last week that you are not finished raising your children until they reach about 25 years old.  The woman stated this is the age when you truly begin to see the payoff, in other words, they finally start displaying the characteristics and values you drilled into them.  I reported this little tid bit to my husband and he said, "Oh good, we still have plenty of time!"  :)  I think this is probably pretty accurate.  I remember it wasn't until I was in college that I started really appreciating my parents.  Our oldest is 9 (as stated above), our second child is 6, and our youngest is 4.  I can't even imagine how tired I will be when the youngest reaches 25.  Just thinking about it makes me want to take a nap! I am sure I have many, many more lessons to learn as a mother between now and let's see....oh, 2035 (that is when the youngest will turn 25).  BUT there is a huge lesson that I have just recently learned.  It may seem like an obvious lesson to most but hey, some of us our slow learners! :) My lesson:  What works for my family may not work for yours.  What works for your family may not work for mine AND I am totally fine with that.  The last part is the most important, to truly be comfortable with your family and where you are in life. Question:  Why was this such a hard lesson for me to learn?
Answer:  For years, I was caught up in the slippery slope of "Keeping up with the Jones".  It is a horrible place to me.  The constant comparison game between my family and other families is exhausting. This lesson started to sink in the year I quit my job as a teacher to home school our oldest son.  We went from a two income family to a single income family in about 48 hours.  You can't really compare or keep up with the latest and greatest when you take a hit like that.  Plus, a lot of people just did not support or understand our decision.  You find out really quick who your true friends are when you make a move they may or may not support. I remember how wrapped up I use to get in the details of other mothers.  Rewind five years ago, our oldest son was perfectly happy at his pre-school.  He had been there since he was about 18 months old.  This school offered a great Pre-K program BUT we decided to move him to a very expensive private school.  Why?  Because it was "the best" according to many other moms.  I can remember the looks of judgement when I would try to discuss the pros and cons with other moms.  I actually sat in the parking lot of this prestigious school before the sun came up so I could be one of the first in line for our registration number.  Then there was this ridiculous interview process and on and on.  We were thrilled when he got accepted.  Months later we realized it was a horrible decision.  The school's "instant obedience" policy did not fit well with our son's ADHD and anxiety (which had not been diagnosed yet).  He was constantly in trouble.  He really would have been better off staying at the original school with the teachers and staff that he was use to. Another example I remember was when a fellow mom told me I had signed my son up for the wrong sport for that particular season.  I was so excited that he had reached the age to play soccer.  We signed up for the spring season (because of his fall birthday).  I remember the look on her face when she said, "You do realize tee-ball is in the spring and soccer is in the fall."  I was crushed, I DID IT WRONG!  Ugh...the worry that little comment brought me was such a waste of my time (I realize that now).  Seriously, I know now soccer isn't in my son's future any way, and who cares, when the "appropriate" season is. My list of examples could go on and on.  Many times I went against my gut feeling as a parent because I allowed another mom to convince me of her views and opinions.  Unfortunately, it has taken me 9 years to get the idea that I really do know what is best for my children.  My mom has probably repeated that to me 1,000 times over the years, but like I said, some of us our slow learners. :) I think as mothers we should support one another.  Help each other up and feel good about ourselves.  Who cares if we aren't following the exact same path.  We should celebrate the differences in each others children.  We should honor one another by appreciating the different parenting strategies. We happen to have a very unusual situation in our family right now.  My oldest is home schooled, my middle child attends public school, and my youngest attends mothers day out.  Could my kids be any more different?  It is just our little spin on differentiated instruction! :)  My husband and I have taken a stand.  We will support our children with the ways that will help them grow into the individuals God intended them to be; which may or may not match what their peers are doing.  After all, He is our creator and part of his beautiful masterpiece is that each one of us is different with a different path. If I could give any piece of advice to a new mother it would be this, "God specifically gave your child to you and you to your child.  It was His amazing plan that the two of you be together.  You know your child and what is best for that tiny human better than any one else.  Ignore the judgemental comments and keep your eyes focused on those who support you and most important your Creator."  It really is ridiculous how people become so opinionated about breast feeding, potty training, pre-school, sports, and the list goes on. Here are a few verses from Chapter 31 in Proverbs.  It serves as such a great reminder for moms of all ages. "She is up before dawn, preparing breakfast for her family and organizing her day."  Proverbs 31:15
Only you know what is the best way to organize your family. "She senses the worth of her work, is in no hurry to call it quits for the day."  Proverbs 31:18
Okay, so most days I am definitely ready to end my day but I think the main point here is to constantly remind yourself and fellow moms how valuable we are to our families.  So many times we just feel tired and worn out, but we are loved and valued, even if our kiddos don't show it yet. "...she always faces tomorrow with a smile."  Proverbs 31:25
Even if you are not exactly bounding out of bed with a smile, have the confidence in yourself that your type of care is exactly what your family needs. "Her children respect her and bless her."  Proverbs 31:28
Just keep telling yourself, "They will turn 25, they will turn 25, they will turn 25!"  :) "Many women have done wonderful things, but you've outclassed them all!" Proverbs 31:29
God loves you and He is proud of you - ALWAYS. I love and support all of my fellow moms.  I think you are doing a fantastic job - even on your not so good days! :) "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."  Psalm 139:14

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Much Bigger Crossover

Last night was a very important and exciting night for our oldest son.  He was crossing over from Bear Scout to WEBELOS.  This is a big deal.  He has waited three years to make it through the ranks of Tiger, Wolf, and Bear.  He has talked a lot of becoming a WEBELOS.  We talked about the event for a couple of days, hoping to help any anxiety that may pop up.  He has always had such a difficult time with big events (especially when there is a lot of excitement and build up).  He genuinely wants to enjoy the event but it is just so hard for him.  His anxiety will begin to take over, then he gets frustrated with himself, which leads to more anxiety and disappointment.  What is a fun evening for most families is almost the setting for the perfect storm for our son.  The hardest part is watching him regret his behavior after the anxiety (and the event) have passed.  It is truly heart breaking.  He even expressed to me that he was really nervous about keeping his behavior under control. All week I have prayed and prayed and prayed for this evening.  I prayed that his anxiety would be manageable or nonexistent.  I prayed that I would not feel nervous in hopes that he wouldn't feed off my energy.  I prayed that I would not notice the stares, eye rolling, and comments from other parents.  I even prayed that one adult in particular wouldn't be there.  This person seems to have a real problem with my son, which causes the "momma bear" in me to come out. :) The night went how we expected it to go.  He had some serious anxiety and was unable to participate.  My husband worked with him at the back of the sanctuary.  They were literally on an emotional roller coaster and had to step out more than once.  Since I am a den leader, I tried to focus on the rest of the boys and the events of the night.  Two parents of a fellow scout helped entertain our other two children.  They are just the best people and have been so supportive and loving of our family.  I kept glancing to the back of the sanctuary, trying to communicate with my husband by thumbs up and raising of the eye brows (praying we wouldn't misinterpret each other's signals).  Seriously, we could be in the major leagues with our hand signals and communications skills across long distances! We were ending our portion of the evening and I could tell my son really wanted to come up and accept his new rank.  However now he was all the way at the back.  There was about a 30 second moment when the entire room was silent and watching our family as my husband and I tried to coax him down the isle.  It felt like watching a 1 year old take his first steps between two parents, except with way more stress and a much bigger audience.  In the end, he just couldn't get past the anxiety. In that moment, I realized that God answered my prayers in a much different way than I had hoped.  All along I had been praying that the "issues" would not happen, that I would not see the looks or hear the comments, that the anxiety would disappear, but what God did was so much bigger.  This was the first time that I realized I didn't care what anyone else thought.  In that moment, when my son was trying so hard to walk down the isle but just couldn't, I DID NOT CARE ABOUT ANYTHING OR ANYONE OTHER THAN MY SON AND MY FAMILY. When I got to the car, I realized how free I felt.  I no longer felt tied down by those feeling of what everyone else may have been thinking.  This has been such a handicap of mine.  In the past, when we've had an "episode" I stress, over analyze, and dissect what everyone may be thinking.  That feeling is gone - I have never experienced this before.  God answered my prayers in a way I never considered.    Why? He knows my heart. :)  He knows what I need most as a mom.  Was the night disappointing?  Yes, the first part was very disappointing.  Now let me tell you about the second part. When we got home, my son was very upset with himself.  In his mind, all of his hard work towards earning WEBELOS was out the window.  I quickly reminded him that nothing had changed, he still earned the rank.  I also told him that since I was a den leader, I could award the new rank at any moment (not sure if that is true or not but we went with it).  Through his tears and trying to catch his breath, he agreed to have our own private crossover ceremony.  We grabbed the other kids and the camera and had our very own crossover ceremony in our front yard.  His siblings were so sweet and supportive.  His brother grabbed a folding chair from the garage so he could sit and be the audience.  We even used the rock walkway in our flower bed as the crossover bridge.  After I placed the new neckerchief under the collar of his shirt, I announced him by rank and name.  He beamed with happiness.  It was pure joy and the stress from earlier in the night disappeared from his face. So, to most it probably did not look like a great night for our family.  To be honest, it probably looked like a three ring circus.  But for our family, it was a beautiful ceremony (in our front yard). :)  The success - we got him through the anxiety and helped him feel better just by being his family.

God is so good!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Egg Printable for Teacher Gift

Two of my kiddos have Easter egg hunts at school tomorrow.  Each child is responsible for providing one dozen stuffed eggs.  Along with the eggs, I wanted to send something small for each teacher.  I didn't want anything fancy and definitely something that was easy on the budget. I found little milk cartons containing Whoppers shaped like robin eggs.  I grabbed one for each teacher. They are perfect, something small and inexpensive.  Just a small way to say thank you and Happy Easter. I made small oval shaped tags that read, ________________ (insert teacher name)
I think you're EGG-celent!!!
Happy Easter! After cutting out each oval tag, I hole punched the carton and tag.  Then I tied the tag to the carton with white curling ribbon. SIMPLE, CUTE, AND INEXPENSIVE! Since, I was making the printable for my kids, I thought I would pass it along to you.  Feel free to print! * After clicking (click here to print...), you will be sent to a Google Doc page.  It may look different.  You must  select "file", then select "download".  The image will download to your computer (should appear normal) and then you can print from there.

Happy Easter!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Our 45 Minutes Without Power

We had an earth shattering experience this afternoon... Our power went out. Our power went out for 45 MINUTES!!!! Ok, so I realize it is not earth shattering.  But in those forty-five minutes I did the following: Opened the pantry door and turned on the light switch to find a snack.  Only to stand there and remind myself the light bulb burned out last week.  It didn't even dawn on me until after that thought that the power was out. Then I thought about getting something to drink.  When I opened the fridge it startled me that the inside light was off - duh, no power! Well, I decided a cup of coffee sounded good...AGAIN, NO POWER - The Keurig doesn't work without power.  They really need to make a battery back up for that thing. Tried to check Facebook, email, and use my house phone.....  I was experiencing a serious learning curve with this issue! I finally decided to grab this sweet opportunity and spend some quiet time with the kiddos.  We enjoyed a nice long session of play dough.  It was great!  It was quiet!  It was uninterrupted time with my children. This lasted until I decided the house was getting hot and I needed the windows opened.  The moment my brain knows the power is out and the AC isn't on I immediately get hot.  Does anyone else do that? What a nice, unexpected time this afternoon.  I think I will go make a cup of coffee, use creamer from the fridge, make a snack, and replace the light bulb in my pantry. :)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Laying it At God's Feet (and keeping it there)

Have you ever handed something over to God? I mean truly took your hands off a situation and laid it at God's feet. Have you ever given 100% of your control over to God with the purpose of relying on His plan and timing? I came across this quote on Pinterest the other day.
"Forgive me for picking up what I have already laid at your feet."

I was casually scrolling through the mile long Pinterest page and stopped dead in my tracks when I came across this pin.  WOW!  What an amazing thought.  How many times have I handed something over to God only to take control again within 1 week, 1 day, or even minutes.  To anyone else this would be so offensive.  When I do this I am telling God, "Sorry God, I don't trust you.  I don't trust your plan, time, mercy, grace, or love.  I will just handle this one my own."

Can you imagine if you did this to your husband or close friend?  You ask for their help in a situation only to turn around and say never mind...I don't trust you with my worries and situations.  Or what if they did it to you?  How would you feel?  Anyone other than God would be overly offended.  But not God.  Even though we treat Him this way He continues to love us unconditionally and without judgement.  He patiently waits until we are ready to put our trust into Him - 100%.

This pin was such a great reminder for me.  If I lay something at His feet, I need to do it with my whole heart.  I need to remind myself that He is my perfect God.  He knows my deepest thoughts and the depths of my heart.  He wants me to be happy and He is waiting for me to hand my problems over to Him.

Well, I guess I could continue things "my way", but I have been doing that for years.  My way seems to cause stress, worry, and exhaustion.  My way also makes me feel as though God is not listening to me.   Something tells me, God's way may just be easier.  Would you like to join me? :)

Dear Lord,
Please forgive me for not trusting your plan and timing.  Even though I cannot see each tiny detail of your perfect plan, I will place my complete trust in You.  Thank you Lord, for loving me unconditionally.  Thank you Lord, for the promise that all things work for the good of those who trust and love You.   Amen

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:22 NIV

"Its in Christ that we find out who we really are and what we are living for.  Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone."  Ehpesians 1:11-12 MSG

"Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"  Matthew 6:27 NIV

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him."  Romans 8:28 NIV

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I Passed the Test

I think we have all experienced the great feeling of passing a hard test.  You feel a wave of relief rush over you.  You feel like you are standing a few inches taller.  You feel your shoulders drop and settle back into a normal position from the release of the tension.  Everything in the world seems right.

Today, I passed my test!

It was not a written, oral, or standardized test.  It was not a test over anything I could learn from a textbook or lecture hall.  

Nope, this test required studying THE BOOK, my Bible.  

If you are a frequent reader of this blog, then you know that patience is not my strong side.  Is it my need for control, my perfectionist tendencies, the will to want to fix things...immediately?  I am sure it is all of that which made passing this particular test seem like an uphill battle that I have been fighting for months.  

We had a very taxing day with homeschooling.  This is the typical day that would cause me to lose my patience, explode, and then spend the rest of the day feeling like the world's worst mom.  BUT NOT TODAY.  From the second I woke up this morning, I told my self, "I am going to pass the test."  In a way it is my own personal test and in a way I think it is a test given to me by God.  Our pastor reminded us this weekend that our weakest areas are where God wants to meet us most.  These are definitely my weak areas.  They are also the areas where I constantly doubt myself.  Certain days I am able to focus on God and keep myself cool, however, too many days I give into the behavior and feelings; allowing them to take over my attitude and outlook.  Those days are just plain awful. As the day moved on I continued to tell myself not to fail the test, resist the urge of a bad attitude, and focus on God.  At one point, I decided to work on my Bible study while homeschooling.  You are probably thinking, why would you add something to your already stressful day?  However, focusing on the Word while my son worked next to me (not so quietly might I add), helped to keep me calm and focused on my goal for the day... to pass the test. Well, it is late afternoon and homeschooling is over for the day.  Even though it was a rough day, I passed my test and stayed calm.  Were things challenging, ABSOLUTELY, but now I don't have to feel the guilt from my actions.  God got me through today - one test question at a time. This is how I feel on a day when I allow the emotions and frustration to overcome and win.
"I have used my strength but accomplished nothing."  Isaiah 49:4
The verse speaks so loud and clear.  When you force your way through your day you are tired and feel defeated but have you really accomplished anything? This is a verse I focused on today.
"Live life with a due sense of responsibility, not as ones who do not know the meaning of life, but as those who do.  Make the best use of your time..."  Ephesians 5:15-16 Let's hope I learned my lesson today. :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I Am A Mom and That is More Than Enough

Do you ever feel like you aren't doing enough?  I mean in God's kingdom.  Do you ever feel like you aren't reaching enough people with His amazing message or you aren't making a big enough difference volunteering? A few months ago, I began to feel like I wasn't "doing enough".  I was having a difficult time figuring out what God's purpose was for my life.  Even though my day to day life felt crazy and hectic, I began to wonder if God was satisfied with the way I was living the precious life he gave me. I am a talker, I have to talk issues out with someone.  Even after praying about a situation, I still need to talk it out.  :)  To help me with this particular nagging feeling, I called my oldest cousin, Kristi.  She is the one I call when I need some tough love and a little kick in the pants.  She has also been a pastor's wife for almost 16 years.  She is just the person to give me guidance in areas like this.  As I began to explain my feelings to her she actually became very firm with me.  She said this is a concern she hears from women all the time; the concern that we are not "doing enough".  She quickly reminded me that the raising of my children and the keeping of my home is more than enough in God's eyes.  I guess I had just never thought of it that way.  I felt like I was just breaking up sibling arguments and scrubbing toilets.  I neglected to give myself credit for the endless hours of love and care that I put into my husband, children, our home, the dogs, cat, and turtle! :) It is hard when the kids are screaming, the house is a mess (even though you really thought it was clean not five minutes ago), dinner is on the stove, homework needs to be done, laundry is the never ending mountain on defeat, and when you catch a certain unpleasant smell you wonder, "Did my shower ever happen today?"  But remember, you are not alone.  God is watching all of those mundane tasks of your day.  He sees how hard you are working, rather it is the work and love you are putting towards a child or the kitchen floor.  AND, I like to believe that He doesn't smell me (when the shower was missed) and if He does, He doesn't mind. :) HE SEES YOU AND ALL THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH.  BUT INSTEAD OF DEFEAT AND FRUSTRATION, HE SEE A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN WORKING AS HARD AS SHE CAN TO TAKE CARE OF THE GIFTS HE HAS GIVE HER.   Please do not ever tell yourself you are not doing enough.  You do not have to keep up with the "other moms".  Trust me, volunteering for one activity after another does not make you more valuable in God's eyes.  I have tried it, it just makes you crazy, crabby, and unable to focus on the really important things in life. You were made into a MOM by God, He gave you that gift.  If you work outside of the home or stay at home, He sees you and He is proud of you.  He knows you are exhausted, call out to Him and He will make sure you get through your day. Lord,
Help me to remember that being a mom is a gift, not a sentence.  Help me to lean on you throughout my day when I feel depleted and worn out.  Remind me that being a mom is more than enough in your kingdom.  Thank you for the gift of my life and the trust you have placed in me to take care of my family.  I ask you for your strength and I thank you for your never ending grace.  Amen