Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dreading working is worse than actually working, who knew?

And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God.
Ecclesiastes 3:13

The other day, I dreaded cleaning the kitchen for (no joke) two hours.  Then I got up and did it. It took 15 minutes. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Almost weary~

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9

As you may recall, I decided that instead of another year of frustration with the Mr. for not being a yard guy, I was going to become a yard woman.  This after the Holy Spirit gently convicted me of choosing to be offended rather than to be reconciled to my situation.  So off I went to pick up some flowers and supplies, which the Mr. kindly loaded into and out of my truck for me.  I spent hours and hours working around the yard.  Making myself move slowly, which is something I don't generally do.  My own habit of trying to rush is most of what wears me out.  The Lord was showing me to enjoy my yard work, to let it soothe me and to let him work quietly in my heart while I worked quietly in my yard.  I took breaks to sit back with a glass of iced water and enjoy the birds and the sunshine and the breeze.  I played tennis ball with Donny, I arranged and rearranged my pots of flowers and herbs before planting them.  Roughly eight hours of this pace and multiple whispered "Slow down" reminders, and most of my work was done.  Of course, it's remarkable how much one can still see to be done, but I chose not to linger in those kind of discouraging thoughts.  This was for me, for my good as well as my enjoyment.  Jesus and me.
The Mr. is still the heavy lifter and general maintenance guy around here, so after my long day he came home to mow the lawn.  And here is where my attitude was tested.  He mowed and then used the blower and to my dismay, blew debris back into all of those beds I had painstakingly weeded and cleared.  A few spots I had actually cleared of grass to create a bed.  The little reading patio I had swept and cleaned and set a chair in?  Covered in lawn clippings right down to my reading chair.  Goodness, my heart quickly changed from content to anger.  And even, to tears.  I didn't really expect applause because part of the lesson I'm learning is that this is something I want, not Dean.  But to be sabotaged? Well, anyway, that's what it felt like ;)
I contained myself as much as I could and asked him to stop blowing, that he was blowing messes back into areas I had worked hard to clear.  If you're thinking that this is where he apologizes and cleans the mess?  It isn't.  Nope, his response was "I had to mow the lawn."  I felt completely devalued.  I stayed feeling that way over night.
The next morning I got up with my cup of coffee and went to my reading patio.  I brushed off my chair, swept up the clippings and sat down to sulk some more.  The beautiful herb garden and butterfly patch were no longer pristine and bright,  as you can see in yesterday's pictures.  I threw another log of resentment on my heart's fire as I sat there.  I thought of what to say and how to say it and even, how to insist that he clean up the mess he made of my hard work.  Then I figured, it's no use having this argument so I might as well just throw in the towel. The Holy Spirit, however, had other plans.
"This is between you and I, all of this.  It's none of Dean's."
So, I didn't realize the depth of this lesson of the yard work.  I thought it was to step up and work for what I wanted on my own.  But it's not, at least not all together, that simple.  It's also to be patient.  It's to move slowly and purposefully and to look beyond the grass clippings and still see the sweet little herbs pushing up between the stones.  It's to see what is temporary (the mess) and what is not (the plants.)  It's to forgive and to not make my own efforts more important than someone else's.  It's to become gracious of spirit and to work for something greater than bragging rights and pride.  It's to create a thing that is the Lord's and mine, and to realize that no one can really and truly tarnish it. 
It's even ok to sit on my reading patio and cry just a little, to let God soothe me and to move on. 
Just as I was breathing in comfort and forgiveness, I noticed Dean dragging an extension cord across my fairy garden and knocking it all over.
And God, it seems, is not quite finished with this lesson, she said with a smile instead of with tears.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Doing my own gardening~

Window box hanging on the back porch deck.

Lilies just about to burst into bloom!

Container garden of herbs.

Red, white & blue petunias in my Grampa's old cement planters.

My poor lilac bush!  It was just about to burst into huge lilacs but the cold nights sort of stopped it short.  Maybe next year.

Last year I threw one peppermint and one spearmint in the ground here because I had no where else to put them.  Now I have a mint field!  These babies are being transplanted this year before they take over.

Adding ground cover perennials to the berm.

The berm.

Old water pump the Mr. bought me at an antique shop Up North, my grandparents' old cement chickens from The Farm and petunias in an old camp coffee pot found in the basement.


Gazebo for gnome weddings and such.

'Shroom House.

Petunias at the bottom of the back porch steps.

Can't recall the name of this little guy but his twin didn't survive the winter on the berm so he was transplanted to this container. 

My very humble little reading patio on the "Farm side" of the yard, herb garden, butterfly garden and berry patch on the far side.

Looks like a mess but it's actually a berry patch; strawberries, blueberries and raspberries!

My grampa's old cement bird bath basin.  The base was knocked over and broken by the yard guy after my grampa passed.  It's so old, can't find a base to match so I settled it in the cracks of the patio bricks as a bird bath/butterfly bath.

Butterfly garden in progress!

Can anyone identify this species of butterfly?

The view from my reading patio on the "Farm side."  See the grape arbor behind the tree?

Looking to the left from my reading patio, my replacement cement birdbath in the distance where my grampa's used to stand.

"House side" of the yard, view from the back porch.

Weird butterfly again.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Fairy garden!

I spent hours these last few days working in the yard.  Pictures of that will come along with future posts.  Today, however, is about something much more fun than hauling wheel barrows of dirt around.  Fairy gardens!
A few years ago, I ran across this sweet story.  I'm a sucker for whimsical storybook stuff.  Never outgrew the little girl laying in the top bunk reading her life away I suppose.  Closer to 50 than to 40, I still read children's books!  Someday when I have grandchildren, this will seem "normal."  In the meantime, I have a very imaginative inner child.  And so, fairy gardens.


This is Mac's girl Susan and I have taken advantage of her girly nature and the fact that she has a five year old little sister & talked her into planting a fairy garden with me.  Turns out, daboyz weren't interested.  So off we went to Joann's to hunt for fairy garden supplies and found everything we needed to start our project.  Oh my goodness, this is one of the most fun hobbies ever!  At least if you're inner seven year old is demanding attention *grin*.  Let me give a little disclaimer as I know some folks are a bit disturbed by the fairy part of fairy gardening because of the rise in the Wiccan religion.  This is not a reflection of an actual belief in fairies or worship of nature.  It's just a charming miniaturized garden that someday those aforementioned grandchildren will be enthralled with.  Sort of like dollhouses, which also call out to me (maybe a winter time project?)  From start to finish, we spent less than 30 minutes arranging and planting our tiny garden and if you ask me, it's adorable.
Cute, right?  The 'shroom house and gazebo are simply birdhouses we picked up at Joann's and removed the hanging ropes.  We glued moss to the roof of the gazebo.  The live plants are ground cover and the moss is packaged for indoor or outdoor projects (I want to pick up some live moss, Lowe's didn't have any.)  It's hard to see the detail but the shrubs are miniature fake bushes and the gnomes are resin.  The frogs are Susan's Inspirational Frogs, if you look closely their flower pots say faith, hope, love.  Oh, and here's a view that shows you the picket fence~

Fairy gardens are all over the Internet and Pinterest if you are truly interested.  They can be planted in beds, like we did, or in containers.  You can spend a lot of money on this little hobby, like all hobbies.  We started off with about a $40 investment but you could spend much less.  After we planted it, I went on Amazon and spent $10 more on a cement bird bath, bench for the gazebo (at my mom's request,) and a tiny red tin bucket.  Not only is this charming and whimsical for your inner child, or an actual child should you have one ;) but it's a way to garden without the physical work-out of human sized gardening.  You could even plant a little container garden inside your home! 
Some people are just not wired for the world of imaginary villages and fairy tales.  They'll think this is pretty silly.  Which is fine because silliness is a very important aspect of enjoying life if you ask me!  As for me, it's just fun. 
Don't be surprised if this little garden keeps growing into a village!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Saturday, May 25, 2013

How does my garden grow?

1. Lavender
2. Orange mint
3. German tyme
4. Phlox
5. Purple coneflower
6. Bee balm
7. Lemon verbena (which always reminds me of Laura Ingalls)
8. Lemon balm
9. Forsythia
10. Hosta

Plus a buncha other purty stuff!

Friday, May 24, 2013

At home~

Well-being is washing over me this morning.  It's crisp and cool here in the Mitten, although bright and sunny.  It's a kind of morning I think of as particularly "Michigan," although I'm sure people everywhere have the same.  All that's missing is the smell of a campfire, which I will remedy shortly when I go out to do a little bit of yard time. 
It's mornings like these that I'm especially glad that I live where I do, my house I mean.  There are moments when I'm trying to cram something into our too small closets, when there's no perfect place to house our computer or I long for a master bathroom.  All of these are issues that come along with a post war bungalow.  Newer homes certainly provide more amenities, no doubt about it.  But this morning, I wouldn't live anywhere else, unless it was The Farm.  There are certain days when somehow, this old house has even the smell of history and home.  Do you know what I mean?  A scent of my gramma's perfume, of the wooden structure beneath the plaster walls and even of my grampa's cigarettes.  Those are the moments, especially on crisp and bright mornings, when I feel at home in all the ways that at home is right and good.
This past week, a friend with whom we once attended church passed away.  She was 40, 4 kids ages 4-19 and married to her high school sweet heart.  She had breast cancer, and after years of fighting, the Lord's will was done and she moved from one home to another.  When I heard the news, I sat and cried.  And cried some more.  It seemed like such a deep sadness, loss and even waste of life.  I knew she didn't have long before being called to heaven and yet, when it happened, it was somehow shocking. 
I hope that this morning, her precious family is awakening to the embrace of being at home.  I hope they can find her scent on the air.  I pray that they feel every wonderful detail of the home she made for them before she went truly home.  Because after all, these glimpses of home sweet home are like appetizers for those born in Christ.  It's a taste, a peek, a prologue of being at home. 
This morning, a 40 year old mom is awake forever with her spirit at perfect rest.  Can you imagine the fragrance of heaven?  Can you envision the beauty she sees?
When I have these moments, of being at home, I need to remember that this isn't really home after all. That there is a place for me that is all at once, everything I need or want or desire.  It is filled with every scent that means at home to me, it is a soul so completely at peace that there is no more need for sleep.  It's an eternal awakening to a perfect morning.
It's home.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wisdoms from me~

I fear I'm turning into one of those people.  Those People.  You know us, the ones who are always fussin'?  Fussin' about too much television, get outside, turn down that dadburn music, when I was a kid, how much does that cost? and a personal favorite, "I could make that at home!"
When other people are Those People, it's obnoxious  I'm glad to report that when I am one of Those People, I'm just imparting wisdom into the world.
Allow me to enlighten...
When the news is hitting its third loop of the same stories, turn it off.  As for the television in general, if there is not a show you want or need to see specifically, TURN IT OFF. Do not channel surf until you can find something tolerable. 
If you'd like to listen to music, please do!  I love music.  Here are some of my personal methods of enjoying music:  radio inside my house, in my car, Ipod or even in my yard played at such as volume so that I can hear it but the rest of the world doesn't.  Unacceptable?  Blasting your music in your backyard loudly enough so that you can hear it over your lawn mower.  Also unacceptable, having a party and blasting your music after 10 p.m.  Or before 10 p.m. for that matter. 
There is stuff outside worth experiencing.  Fresh air, birdsong, grass under your feet.  When you are hanging about inside and the weather is lovely, consider taking your current activity outside.  Many things can be done outside such as reading, praying, meditating, napping or even doing light yard work for a bit of exercise and to beautify your space.  Unacceptable outside activities including the loud enjoyment of music, drunken revelry or nudity in any form unless you have 4 legs and a lot of fur or 2 legs and many feathers.
Just because it is inexpensive, it doesn't need to be purchased and eaten.  This week we, in the Smith House, have resisted 31 cent iced coffee, $8 deep dish pizza, 39 cent White Castle Hamburgers and 2 for 1 Whopper Juniors. 
Well, that's about all I have to share at the moment.  I could go on but you shouldn't just sit at a computer trying to think of things to say when you could be sitting on your back porch admiring God's blue skies. 
Over & out.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Doing it myself~

The Lord didn't give me a man who likes yard work.  Or even really cares about having a yard.  This has been an aggravation to me for 27 out of the 27 years we've been married.  I'm starting to think that next year, the number might just be 27 out of 28 years.  Because this weekend as I was looking over and dreaming about yard ideas, I got the 'tude again.  But this year, the Holy Spirit checked it.  This is indeed, the man God gave me and God probably realized I'd want a yard guy and also, that the Mr. wasn't one.  Why would God mismatch us so?
I don't really know, frankly.  What I do know is the following.  I love my yard and could spend hours and thousands on it.  I am not a physically strong person, I'm just not.  Dean is not a yard guy.
So I talked to the Lord about it all.  Why do I have ideas and wishes that mean so much to my very heart?  And the Lord said, "Go do it yourself."
Remember that part about not being physically strong?  I imagine God knows that too.  I can be frustrated year after year or I can work on myself, which is basically the only person I can do anything about anyway.   
So I'm making a list of the things I can do and how to make it more likely that I will. 

  1. Do yard work in the early morning or evening when it's cool.
  2. Think long and hard about projects to be sure I'll be happy in the long run.
  3. Choose perennials and sustainable plants.
  4. Work around what I have and learn to let go of the larger construction type projects. 
  5. Don't try to convince the Mr. to join me or seek his approval.  It's just not his thing.

With these few guidelines in mind, I've made a to-do list for myself.

Plant a perennial herb garden on the south side of the garage.  There are old patio blocks there that are crumbly and a never ending frustration to me with the vegetation that grows in between.  So I've had a EUREKA! moment :) I'm going to pull out the very crumbly ones and plant herbs in the dirt there, leaving the intact ones.  It'll be kind of informal, cottagey.  I think it'll be sweet.  And it is the spot across from my berry patch which, a good idea for which has eluded me lo these many (5) years.  I'm excited!  That's an inexpensive and physically easy project with big pay-off that I can enjoy every year. Yay. I also planted two peonies at the far end of the area last year that came back, so I'm going to plant a few more to create a peonie patch bookend to the herb and berry garden.  In my head, it's utterly charming!  Which brings me to my next little project, the patio along the side of the garage.  Half of it is uncovered and that's my herb garden plot.  Half has an awning over it and it faces the prettiest section and biggest tree in the yard.  I've cleaned up those old patio blocks and weeded it and every year, I make myself a little shaded hide away there.  This year I am going to purchase inexpensive outdoor curtains to hang around the sides so that I can truly make a little room to myself out of it.  I'm going to treat myself to a chaise lounge or a few Adirondack chairs.  I am already imagining reading and catnaps and best of all, I can make it happen myself.  My. Own. Self.

I've asked for the area next to our back porch to be turned into a vegetable garden and I'm getting no help with that.  Year after year, it's not happening and I'm mad.  So I'm (trying to) letting that go.  That bare little expanse of grass that is an eyesore is getting a make over anyway.  I'm going to get a little ornamental tree and plant it right in the center of that spot and call it a day.  If I'm of a mind, I can plant veggies in a few containers. 

I've wanted a pond forever.  I've been promised one for even longer.  In fact, I've been promised one with a waterfall and possibly rapids suitable for rafting.  Hey, if it's never gonna happen, why not dream big?  LOL.  I'm going to buy a container and make a self contained pond on my patio.  I actually did this a few yeas ago and I loved it.  I filled that pot with dirt because we were going to build Smith Creek in the yard but that's ok.  I can get another container. 

Well, you get the idea.  The actual work of it, despite my delicate disposition, will be good for me.  I'll have to be purposeful and take my time but I can do it.  The herb garden and patio reading room will be my first project, shouldn't take more than a few hours since the "bones" are there and I'll have the space to enjoy all summer long. 

Will I never be frustrated again?  Well, I probably will be, and possibly this week.  But I am going to work on making the yard a place to strengthen my body and soothe my mind and not to let the enemy (who is a jerk) steal that potential joy year after year.  With the Lord's help, I might just let the Mr. off the hook.  That is a goal worth pursuing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

For freedom, not freedom from.  Do you find that as interesting as I do?  I've been thinking about different aspects of my life by which I feel encumbered.  Actually, I've only just started recognizing the feeling as encumbered.  Areas of life that I want to be relieved of, delivered from.
When I started thinking about it, I wondered, what exactly is on that list?  What do I feel trapped by?
My job.  My weight.  My finances.  My body.  My bad habits.  My emotions.
The list grew pretty quickly.  There are quite a few things about which that my spirit cries, "God, get me outta this!"
Even in consideration of spiritual truths, we filter so much through carnal understanding.  I thought and meditated and thought some more and realized, I am already free.  There.  Isn't that a breakthrough? 
Just keep reminding yourself, I am free.  It is for the sake of being, or at least becoming, something far better than I am now, that Christ set me free.  Everything that seems to press in on me and wrap chains around my life only takes hold because I forget.
I'm free.
I am free of the burden of it all.  The burden is condemnation, frustration, weariness, anxiety, anger, impatience.  All of those nasty experiences belong to the person who has no future.  I have a future.  Even the things that will follow me to heaven will follow me no further.  It's all just for a moment. 
For freedom, I was set free.  For the fences ripped away and open pastures unfolding eternally before me. 
I am free in the midst of the fences.
I am not burdened.

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's time!

It's almost here!  Memorial Day!  Am I thinking of barbecues, picnics, a day off work?  Nope.
Memorial Day means it's safe to plant in The Mitten!  Yay. 
I'm making my list, drawing my drawings, daydreaming of annuals and perennials.  This years additions and the someday when it's all exactly as I imagine it will be. 
I planted ornamental grass around our telephone pole but they didn't survive the winter so now I have a decision to make.  I love ornamental grass and may just go ahead and try another hardier kind.  OR, I am thinking very seriously about this idea...
Red, white and blue hydrangeas!  My friend at work was telling me about her red, white and blue hydrangeas and I now realize, this is exactly what I need!  The only problem, as my friend informed me, was that her red one died and her patriotic theme is now not so patriotic. Unless you're Israeli :)
That got me thinking, I believe I shall go with the all American idea and plant petunias in red white and blue along the front edge of my berm.

I suppose technically, it's red, white and purple but you get the idea.  Pretty, huh?
Then of course, there is the traditional Boston ferns that hang around my back porch every year.  I'm sticking with tradition on that one, they not only look lush and green but they provide a little shade and make the porch nice and cool in the mornings and evenings.

Well, those are just a few of my ideas.  I have planted perennials on the berm and I'm more or less going for an informal and unstructured sort of look.  Cottage?  Farm?  I don't know.  I just know that I wait all year for these sunny warm days and I'm going to enjoy every single one!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Every back yard needs~

1.  Hyacinths
2.  Poppies
3.  Forsythia.
4.  Lilacs.
5.  Hydrangea
6.  Peonies
7.  Sunflowers
8.  Geraniums
9.  Petunias.
10. Lily of the Valley

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I don't like making mistakes.  Does anyone?  I suppose there are people who don't particularly care.  I, however, do care.  I don't like just basic innocent mess ups like burning dinner and I especially don't like moments when my attitude or words are unChristlike and offensive.  I become embarrassed, humiliated, defensive and sometimes ridiculously focused on something small making it into something huge.  That's why I've learned to appreciate being around apologizers.
I have always sought to live in a way that didn't require apology.  And that, frankly, was more motivated by pride than by holiness.  
In the last few years, I've paid special attention to the apologizers in my life.  They've taught me a lot. 
I've noticed that I don't think less of the apologizer for making a mistake.  Their ownership not only takes responsibility for the situation but it rights the wrong.  It neutralizes it.  When someone apologizes for something, I have noticed that I have greater respect for them than I did before they offended me in the first place. 
There is a more important lesson in apologizing. 
When someone apologizes to me, and that forgiveness is expressed from me to them, it gives me a glimpse of Jesus.  The more easily I extend forgiveness, the closer I feel to him, the Great Forgiver.  Perhaps more importantly, it teaches me that sin  is ugly but mercy and grace are beautiful. Repentance makes situations lovely and sweet no matter how bitter we feel at the start.  I've learned to apologize quickly.  To model sacred repentance in the world, it's like an opportunity to sneak in a Sunday School lesson in everyday life. 
Every "I'm sorry," is a picture of repentance.
Every "No problem," is a picture of redemption.
I think making mistakes is not so bad after all.  It's necessary to continually turn our spirits back toward the life that only happens through the exchange of repentance and redemption.  Instead of being ashamed when I make an error, I want to be eager to ask forgiveness, and sow one more seed of redemption.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Hey now, I'm an all star...

How are ya?
I'm ok, only want a baked potato for dinner.  Weird. So, I had a baked potato for dinner.
Tomorrow I have a vacation day for a doctor's appointment and then I'm gettin' my hairs did.
It's also supposed to be 80 F tomorrow!  I might wear flip flops.  Or may not, we'll see.
Speaking of shoes, daboyz gave me navy blue Chucks for Mother's Day, so I will probably wear those because they're so groovy.
So here's something weird.  We had the family over for Mother's Day.  The party plates and such (you know, stuff you only use when you have large crowds?) it's all on my kitchen table.  I've asked Mac to put it away.  He doesn't know where any of it belongs.  I've asked the Mr. to put it away.  He doesn't know where any of it belongs.  I'm staring at it and I'm thinking, where does all of this stuff belong?  Maybe tomorrow it'll come to me.
I think I'll get an inch or so off my hair.  I can't decide whether to grow my bangs out. 
I'm gonna drink my coffee on the back porch tomorrow.  You should come by.
My sister gave me a forsythia for Mother's Day!
Yay forsythia!
Mac is seriously considering working at Children's Hospital when he graduates.  Shew, that is amazing to me. 
Well, I don't really have anything else to say. Just thought I'd drop in and let you know what's going on around here. 
What's going on around there?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A consideration of Mother's Day

Mother's Day, it always makes me uncomfortable.  Not the celebrating my mom part, the being celebrated part.  Once your kids are old enough to actually buy their own Mother's Day gifts for you, you've been a mom long enough to know all of the things you could've done better.  It almost makes a person understand ladies who have another "set" of children when their kids are teenagers.  Almost. Grin.
I'm happy to say, discomfort aside, that God has also taught me to understand that the chance to be a good mother never ends.  By never, I mean never.  Not even after you've gone on to glory.  So maybe Mother's Day is a time to celebrate that truth, not the accomplishments of motherhood but the opportunities and someday...the legacy.
Legacies, you know, are there whether we like to admit it or not.  They either wonderful or they are terrible, but we all leave them.
I'm thankful for the legacies I inherited from my great grandmothers, grandmothers and mother. 
If there was a single word to the entirety of it, it would be standards.  I was immersed in and bombarded by standards.  As Little Edie would say S-T-A-U-N-C-H!  I was born in the shadow of women who lived uncompromisingly. 
There was no debate about the function of the mother in the home.  These women took complete responsibility for their families.  This was a time prior to spa days and me time.  My memories are of my mom and grandmas giving one another perms at the kitchen sink while I entertained myself as best I could.  They didn't arrange a play date or a schedule of activities.  This was where I learned that families exist together, in the same space.  That we are a unit and no one needs to be catered to.  I was happy to be with the women in my life and I knew how to pass the hours just being.  There were no 3 hour trips to the hair stylist every 2 months, the way I now live my life.  Those 3 or more hours every two months were spent together.
There was the continuous example of housekeeping, of cooking and cleaning.  But that, frankly, wasn't what imprinted itself on me.  It was the time, the comfort of one another's presence.  It was the sureness of who I was reflected in my confidence that I knew who they were.  And my place in it.  My place wasn't at the top of the food chain, by the way.  My place was in the midst. 
I recall no boredom in those days.  I don't remember frustration at leaving my neighborhood friends to spend days with the women in my family.  I don't remember anyone dropping what they were doing upon my arrival.  If my grandmother was cleaning beans when I hit the door, I was given a bowl of beans to clean.  Not a chore, an invitation in to her life.
If my grandmother was floating in the pool, it seemed her great pleasure to have me join her.  No, not to scream and splash.  To float along side quietly or to be a bit silly.  To join her and be with her, entirely comfortable that this was my place in the world.  Not hers or mine, our world.
Standards, uncompromising and excellent.
Family first.  One another not tolerated but a part of our very souls, DNA in the truest sense of linking us together.  Standards that life is maintained, stewardship of one's belongings is an expression of Christianity, that the needs of one another will always be the priority.
I'm thankful that my mother kept me in the midst of this when the times were changing and many women were entering the workplace.  She sacrificed things like 3 hour spa days, there was no money for such luxury.  No, she accepted perms in the kitchen in exchange for presence.  She taught me to live with less when my kids were little and to know that the value I had to offer was to be there, as she had been.  Because of the sweetness of my own childhood, I wanted nothing more than to give the same to my boys.  So they, too, had the hours of entertaining themselves while three generations of women sat at the kitchen table together.  They learned the quietness and beauty of being in the midst.
I know the feeling of a hand on my forehead and the sound of prayer spoken aloud over my life. 
I know the scent of my grandma's talcum powder on an afghan.
I know the lilt of my grandma singing to me in a silly voice.
I know how to pray aloud over my children, they know the scent of campfires and I still sing to them (not that they particularly enjoy it!)
Isn't it true of all of life, that what we truly celebrate is not our own accomplishments, but the blessings.  That God has been good enough to give me the legacies of Patricia Trent, Eleanor Gerhardstein and Diana Trent.  That my children live, not in the wake of this legacy, but immersed in an ocean of it.  That I stand in the middle of it all. 

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Deep thoughts~

1.  Remember when our bed frame cracked?  And I wanted to buy an iron bed for $250 and the Mr. refused?   Yeah, he just paid $200 to have the one cracked bed rail replaced. 
2.  I am occasionally posting clean eating thoughts on my second blog, Better Things, link at right.
3.  What happens when you spend a year and a half growing your hair out?  You become obsessed with...cutting your hair off!
4.  Can I tell you how lovely it is to order a sundress online and know it will fit?
5.  My friend at work planted red, white and blue hydrangeas in her yard.  Now I'm obsessed with planting red, white and blue hydrangeas in my yard and cannot find red hydrangeas.
6.  I feel a deep need to make peach milk shakes and serve them in mason jars.
7.  My eyes have been so allergy-y that I can't even read at night!
8.  Who wants to see The Great Gatsby?  Me too!
9.  We are in a season specific to the Mitten, it's called-Pack your sweaters into a tote but leave them in your bedroom 'cause you're still gonna need 'em.
10.  Fast food restaurant workers in Detroit are striking and picketing demanding their wages increase to $15/hour-seriously?

Friday, May 10, 2013

He is

And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you.  Exodus 3:14

Several years ago, I was studying and God revealed something remarkable to me.  It was this...

He is.

Being a student of the scripture and a lover of history and knowledge of the Word of God, this became the simplest and yet most difficult to grasp of everything I had ever learned.  The debates about the time elapsed during creation, the history of Israel, the function of the law and then of grace and the mysteries of the fall and the end of time.  None of it, since that moment, has held the fascination of those two words...

He is.

I understood in a heartbeat something I have never since been able to express much less to teach. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1

Before everything, in the perfect eternity of time without beginning or end, is God.  Perfect intelligence, wisdom, power and love is God.  Forever, never having been born and not having been created is God.  In my finite mind, my spirit has a sense of this eternity and it is stillness and peace.  It is entirely uncomplicated and entirely complete.  My spirit catches wisps of this God in, above, beneath and around...He is. 

It isn't even power that my heart imagines.  It's not so simply defined.  God, the one in whom all life dwells and from whose lips all life is spoken.  Perfectly whole and unblemished.  From this, from him I was spoken.  I think I will spend the rest of my days chasing after this understanding of my creator and the sweetness of feeling myself within him.

He is.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Kicking against the goads~

We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' Acts 26:14

In case you wonder what this verse means, goads are sort of a pointed stick used to prod cattle forward.  Sometimes the cattle decide they don't like submitting to the direction of the guy holding the goad so they kick at it, often causing themselves injury.  I picture it like someone holding up a sword to direct another person and the second person grabbing the blade end of the sword in defiance. Ouch.

Mac was talking about healthy eating (with our clean-eating theme of late,)  and he said something that brought this scripture to mind.  "You can't cheat food.  You can't eat a certain way and trick your body into not reacting to the way you're eating."  Isn't this true of life?  Of holiness?  Of godliness?  You can't cheat.  You can't defy the direction of God, you can't cheat on the requirements and still enjoy the benefits.  If we could simply throw up our hands in surrender and stopping kicking against the goads, how much more sense would life make? 

Perhaps you don't like being compared to cattle?  Perhaps you're even thinking about the fact that those cows are going to be slaughtered if they submit.  I wondered at what point the analogy fails.  Then I came to understand, it doesn't fail.  Truly following Jesus doesn't stop at the point of slaughter.  One can consider literal martyrdom but most of us won't face that choice.  Still, there is a slaughter of the self in the pursuit of holiness.  More poignantly, it isn't really we who do the slaughtering.  Like cattle, we submit to being sacrificed.  To use uglier terms, we don't fight against the death of Christianity.  We celebrate the songs of life in Christ but like him, there is death first.  There is walking to an altar and laying ourselves before God to die in him so that we can rise in him.  No man who has been chased kicking and screaming in defiance to the Lord has actually found salvation.  When the struggle is finally over, it is the peaceful submission that brings us to him.

In the passage of hundreds of years, I think we have become fools.  Even Christians are ignorant, considering themselves totally submitted.  For myself, every time I have knowingly eaten what I shouldn't, I have kicked against God.  When I've been lazy, unkind, gossipy...kicking against God.  Oh, how we love grace and mercy but oh! God help us we've embraced forgiveness and freedom so completely we kick against everything that makes us uncomfortable.  After all, does God not want all of us, not the religious self only?  He wants the steward of our finances, the keeper of our homes, the spouses of our husbands and wives and the parents of our children in submission.  He wants the worker, the son and daughter and friend and neighbor moving in his will.  No, not just the self who posts "hit like if you love Jesus" on their Facebook page.  Not just the person who listens only to gospel music.  He wants the person whose body needs to get up and take a walk around the block to do his bidding as well.  Or the one who thinks about what they are owed by others instead of finding their satisfaction in Christ.  He wants us entirely or he has us not at all. 

And we kick against the goads.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Bigger isn't better~

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. 
Psalm 16:11

We like big, don't we?  Not big butts necessarily, but big pay-off.  Big bang for your buck.  That's one of the stumbling blocks we face when we turn from the world's offerings to seek God's face.  Until heaven, God's pay-offs are more subtle and often the price we pay doesn't seem to compare to the benefits we receive.
Mankind, buying the counterfeit of the enemy, thinks he can create.  So he puts his hand to the process and brings forth loud, bright and big things that tempt our eyes, ears and even our stomachs.  Somehow, a large flat screen HD television has become more beautiful than fluffy clouds against a summer's blue sky.  A recliner is more comfortable than a hammock under an ancient oak tree.  Being served a meal in a restaurant is more satisfying than pulling vegetables from the earth.  Blaring music is sweeter than birdsong.
I see it everywhere, the grasping for more more more.  And the more we seek, we also want delivered without effort to our doorsteps.  We want to be stimulated from without instead of from within.  With every generation, there seems to be less wonder in God's majesty.  I see the way we push nature back, back and farther back to replace it with something we consider better.  Dirt roads are dusty, let us pave.  Large new homes are better, let us build more and abandon the old neighborhoods. 
I pray that God will make me sensitive and able, for the rest of my life, to be able to sit for hours watching squirrels play in my yard.  I pray that I will always love the subtle taste of dirt brushed from strawberries warmed in the sun and eaten from the vine brushed "clean" with my fingers.  Let me always love silence.

“I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.” ― Louis CK

Don't allow yourself to become hardened to the quiet miracles of God, don't seek after the bigger and the louder and the brighter.  Don't you dare get bored.  There are endless delights to the one who lives at God's right hand.

Monday, May 06, 2013

The weekend

Last year
What a glorious weekend we had here in The Mitten!  Our weather is rarely perfect, but on Saturday and Sunday, heaven smiled down and we got a taste of warm but not hot sunshiney crisp Spring time.  It was so amazing, even I went out to do yard work!  Actually, I always do yard work but I didn't complain! 
Saturday was spent doing housework and meal prep for the week but with all of the windows thrown open it's a pleasure to shine and polish room by room.  After months of being closed up you could almost hear the house breathe in the breezes.
The Mr. did our grocery shopping including stopping at the farmer's market for fresh veggies and produce.  AND, hang on to your hats, he did not purchase any pop!  Well, that might not be so earth shattering to you but for daboyz and me, it was downright remarkable.  In fact, while he was gone, we talked about whether he'd bring home more of the diet pop we're begging him to quit.  Last week he didn't restock but still had quite a bit left in the house so this week he was completely out of not only pop but the bottled artificially sweetened tea he likes.  We were shocked when he brought in his bags and lo and behold, no cases of prepackaged drinks!  I have fruit infused water and agave sweetened iced tea in pitchers but the poor guy, he just can't make the switch yet.  Before long, he had found some powdered lemonade mix (artificially sweetened) so he made a pitcher of that.  Now we're in another countdown, when the lemonade mix is gone...then what?  We don't have a lot of excitement around here. 
Just as interesting as the prior paragraph, there is so much more room in the fridge without the entire bottom shelf being reserved for pop and iced tea!  Which was wonderful since we had so much more produce to put away.  Also, evidence we need more excitement.
Sunday was Cinco de Mayo so after being up early for devotional and prayer, it was time to take those black beans that had been soaking all day Saturday and turn them into black bean soup for lunch.  The Mr. & daboyz went to a movie and then to pick up a freezer from my mom and dad so I spent some time cleaning up the "house side" of our yard (in my mind, our yard is divided into the house side and farm side-don't ask.)  I cleaned up around the patio, raked out the corners, pulled some weeds and cleared out the dried branches of perennials so the fresh green leaves can push through.  I planted ornamental grass on our berm and I thought I thought I thought it was perennial but it doesn't look like it's coming back.  I read that you should trim it back and it will fill in again, so I did.  We'll see.  I even stalked around the neighborhood to see what people did with their ornamental grass :)  If it isn't greening up in a few weeks, we'll yank it out and try again.  I did the back porch clean up as well, which I wait for every year.  Now my bistro table is cleaned and set up and the perfect place for morning coffee and evening iced tea.  In the next few weeks it'll be time to pick up some annuals and a few more perennials to continue building our beds.  Our berry patch isn't producing anything yet, seems like the strawberries should be starting. 
We wrapped up Sunday evening, after our taco dinner, with a fire on the patio and homemade blueberry milkshakes (served in wine glasses for smaller portions.)  I was fast asleep before 10 and the Mr. joined me shortly after.  Around midnight, we heard howling from the back porch.  Apparently, Donny had fallen asleep outside and we'd forgotten to bring him in!  He did not appreciate waking up in the dead of night with the doors locked and no one inviting him to bed properly. 
In case you're wondering (now that you know about our beverage stock, refrigerator space and dog,)  it is amazing to me how much easier things like yard work are since my surgery.  My goodness!  My back didn't ache while I was working, I wasn't sweating below my bra, I was stronger and had more stamina.  Something as simple as raking would've been very difficult for me but it was a joy to be able to work around the yard without being winded, sweaty and aching between my shoulder blades.  I cannot say enough about how wonderful this surgery is.
So, how as your weekend?

Sunday, May 05, 2013

And the food journey continues...

I always feel hesitant about posting things about diets or clean-eating because I don't want to bore you to tears or leave the impression that I've got it all mastered.  At best I have a philosophy that I believe in and am on a lifelong journey of applying knowledge to wisdom to self-discipline.
If you've been with me for a while, you know that at one point I lost over 100 pounds on Weight Watchers.  I've, sadly, gained back almost 60.  Still, I learned lessons that remain with me and although I am obviously not sticking to the WW plan, I'm not as heavy as I once was.  I have returned to WW a few times since my weight started increasing but somehow, it just didn't speak to me as it did the first time.  And I suppose, that's what I'm thinking about today.
The weight loss I am speaking of happened over about 3 years and with strict almost obsessive adherence to the WW points plus plan.  I lived, breathed, spoke and ate only numbers and points.  I didn't wiggle for holidays.  I don't know how people could stand to be around me!  They must just have loved me enough to tolerate my craziness and knew it was ultimately good for my health.  To maintain my goal weight, I had to maintain a daily caloric intake of about 1,000 calories.  Frankly, I was hungry all of the time.  Hungry enough that after maintaining that weight for a few years, when the pounds started creeping back I was almost relieved and willing to deal with the larger size on my jeans.  Of course, I am not criticizing Weight Watchers.  It's a wonderful program and if you need help with weight, you should go there right now because they will hold your hand every step.  I'm also not claiming that 60 extra pounds is ok.  It's not pretty, it's not healthy and it's not ok.
My weight loss method was a formula of low calories and high intake.  In other words, I depended heavily (pun alert!) on those 50 calorie snacks, sugar free jello cups, low fat/low sugar and substitute items like Sweet & Low and non-butter butter.  Those are some of the methods that I have come to realize aren't good for me in the long-term.  The positives?  I increased my water intake and have maintained it ever since-a permanent change.  I don't do as well as I should with fruits/veggies but I'm aware and make an effort to do better-permanent change.  I learned the calorie counts of most items and I know the impact on my daily intake-permanent change. 
A few years ago, I felt the Lord (yes, the Lord,) impressing on me that I needed to consider the WW methods a part of my journey but not my destination and so to walk away from that plan instead of rejoining and starting /stopping constantly.  I took up baking (of all things when a person needs to lose weight!) and we eliminated baked goods from the grocery store.  When we want a sweet treat, I make it at home.  I learned to make bread and love that as well but with working more than 40 hours a week, right now, it's not feasible.  Why bake at home?  Just pick up a package of Chips Ahoy and read the ingredients.  That's why. 
A year go, again the Holy Spirit spoke wisdom into my life by bringing my attention to my chronic headaches.  I assumed I was a head achy person and that was just my cross to bear.  But what if it wasn't true?  Almost immediately I realized I needed to eliminate artificial sweeteners from my life.  I didn't really use them that often.  Diet soda occasionally and in iced tea once in a while.  Still, I knew that this was the Lord trying to get my attention and so I obeyed.  My chronic headaches disappeared.  By chronic, I mean every single day and all day long.  I took 800 mg of Motrin in four doses almost every day.  Now?  I still need that Motrin 2 days a month during my cycle but that's it.  On the rare occasion that I cheat I will notice my headache returns after less than half a glass of artificially sweetened drinks. 
As the "clean-eating" movement gained popularity, I realized immediately that this was the true wisdom needed for health.  I never doubted it, it was one of those "Aha!" moments Oprah talks about.  So why have I not immediately changed my foolish ways?  Lazy.  Undisciplined.  Path of least resistance.
Finally three weeks ago, enough of my heart was submitted and opened to the Holy Spirit's wisdom that I make an official declaration that I needed to eat clean and to commit myself to providing this kind of diet to my family.  Will I hang in there for the rest of my life?  I'd like to hope so.  If I don't, it will be a matter of flesh overwhelming spirit; the same reason I make any self-destructive decisions.
Today I begin my week four of eating clean,  and there are some changes which keep me motivated.  My ulcer is significantly better.  I've been able to re-introduce tomatoes and bell peppers to my diet.  My (brace yourself) chronic constipation is resolved.  I am not experiencing the mid-day energy lag at work I used to.  And something that I find really interesting, on my birthday the Mr. brought home pizza and antipasto salad as well as a birthday cake from a bakery.  I indulged because life is a matter of balance and not the obsession I mentioned earlier.  P.S., it was delicious!
The next morning, however, I could feel the difference from the mornings I had been enjoying.  I felt puffy and dehydrated and guess what?  Yup, my ulcer was grumbling.  I don't say this in remorse, I appreciate the awareness of the difference.  What I found very encouraging was that  instead of craving another piece of birthday cake with my coffee, I craved the infused water I had in the fridge and a cup of Greek yogurt.  Notice, I craved differently.  In my WW days, my cravings never changed.  I just figured out ways to satisfy them with unhealthy options.  I was completely satisfied with my pizza and birthday cake dinner and didn't desire more.  I ate my yogurt with flax seed sprinkled on top and drank a glass of melon/cucumber/ginger infused water. 
And within an hour of awakening, I was feeling a return of energy and wellness.  The bloated feeling quickly resolved and just one cup of coffee was enough.
I find this exciting and encouraging.  I feel not prettier but stronger.  At my goal weight, I felt much prettier but not stronger.  In fact, I felt in battle and not winning a battle. 
This is a pretty lengthy post for someone who doesn't want to shout from her soapbox.  But it's truth for me and it's where I am today.
Most importantly, it's a very good day.