Friday, December 31, 2010

2011...it's here. And it's gonna be good.


I don't know that I've ever entered into a new year with such a feeling of...expectation. Hopeful expectation...but with more of a knowledge that it is going to be good. 

For many of the past years I've entered into each new year with the hope that it would be better. But it was a pretty generic hope. An unsure hope. And as I hoped on the outside and looked pretty convincing...on the inside, I was more of a wince. I entered into each new year with shoulders shrugged and holding my arms over my head at the ready to fend off anything hurling it's way toward me.

That was then. This is now. And I honestly believe that 2011 is going to be good. And that the excitement that I feel...the expectancy...is real. It's from deep inside. It's like it's coming straight from God's heart to mine...a direct shot of goodness and hope...from the Father.

And you know what else is really cool about all of this? The expectancy...the goodness...the hope? Many of YOU are feeling it, too. It's like it's in the air...or the water. 2011 isn't about hoping with a wince. It's not about going in ducking and dodging, afraid of what's to come. It's about going in with chins up...shoulders back...and sleeves rolled up, ready to get in there and make things happen. It's about an unshakable hope...the gift of hope from God...and knowing that He is good. And that He has good things in store for us. And that we need to be open...and ready to receive from Him, in whatever form it may come to us, in 2011.

Happy New Year...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I went for a drive on Sunday afternoon...

 It was cold and rainy on Sunday...but I was really wanting to take my camera out and snap some photos. It'd been too long...my camera bag was dusty...I couldn't find my cable to upload photos...all signs that it had been far too long since I'd taken pictures just for the heck of it.

I loaded up my camera bag...grabbed my Starbuck's gift card...and hit the road. That's me over there to the right...at the Starbuck's drive-thru. Can you see me? Waiting ever so patiently for that non-fat latte? Oh yeah...and extra hot. It was delicious...the perfect accompaniment to my rainy day drive in the country. An Artist's Date if you will...

Coffee in hand, wipers going and radio on, I headed down the road. I drove out to a popular hiking spot just outside of town...but the inspiration just wasn't there. I wandered around and took a few shots...but ended up back in the car in search of something...else.

I decided to drive to one of my favorite country roads in my area. It's only a couple miles outside of town but it seems much further away. It's a bit steep...and quite narrow in several spots. And maybe a teensy bit dangerous to drive alone...on a rainy and slippery day. (Or any day, really) But...I have 4WD...and I called Chris to let him know where he could find me should I not be home in a reasonable amount of time. Just in case...


The views are incredible. Sitting here in my tiny little corner of the world I forget sometimes that there's a great big beautiful world around me. 


I'm a sucker for tree tunnels.


I was gone for a little over an hour. And took almost a hundred photos. Gotta love digital, eh?  I kept a few...and deleted quite a few more. And decided I needed to work on my exposure.

I also decided that an Artist's Date is in order a little more often...

Art is a collaboration between God and the artist,
and the less the artist does the better. ~André Gide

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wednesday in the Word


1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

Some of you may notice that this scripture has been in my sidebar for...ever. This scripture was given to me at a women's retreat about 3 years ago and has become one of my "life verses". It's the scripture that got me started in gardening more seriously and learning about food preservation. It's the verse that gave me the courage to get some chickens for the backyard and enlightened me to the idea of living a simpler life...one that is less dependent and a bit more self-sustaining.

With the New Year around the corner and my list of goals, both short and long term, swimming around in my head, this scripture came to mind. I was reminded to "lead a quiet life"...I was reminded "to mind your own business and to work with your hands". The words are a reminder to make my goals with God's will in mind...His will for my life and the life of my family.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

resolve.


In just a few short days we will leave 2010 and enter into 2011. Some of us are breathing huge sighs of relief at the thought. A new year...a new start...time for new resolutions and new opportunities. A clean slate. New, new, new.

But if you think about it...January 1 is just another day, really. On December 31 it will just be tomorrow...right? January 2...it will just be yesterday. But still...the New Year always brings with it hope.

I admit, I don't make resolutions. I stopped a while back. They always made me eat more...smoke more...or completely avoid whatever I resolved to DO. So I stopped.

But just recently I started to set small goals for myself. Like this winter for instance...I told myself I wanted to learn to bake bread and make a patchwork quilt over the winter. Two small goals that I have wanted to achieve for quite some time. So...I decided that this winter is the time. (And now that the holidays are over, I better get down to business, eh?)

I realized a while back that setting small goals for myself is what works best for me. This realization started with The Girls. I did a ton of research on chicken keeping...I stalked web sites, I borrowed books from the library...I read and read and read. And then one day, I realized I was ready to take on some backyard chickens.

The summer before that one I decided to teach myself how to can. I made jam and dilly beans and peaches and pickles. And it worked! And it all tasted great...except for the pickles. I've yet to find the recipe. But I will...I know it.

The summer before that one I decided that I was going to plant a garden. So I did. I planted cucumbers, tomatoes and zucchini. And it all grew beautifully. It was a success. And because of that I've had the courage to plant a garden each summer since.

What's the big deal, you ask? Well...it all boils down to perfection. For me anyway. I have a tendency to avoid things because I can't do them perfectly. There are so many things I want to do...but I have often talked myself out of one thing or another (quilting...) because I'm afraid it won't turn out right. Or more accurately, perfect. So...if I can't do it perfectly, I won't do it at all. If I can't plan and plant the perfect Victory Garden or Cottage Garden worthy of a photo shoot...then I won't plant anything at all. If I can't make a perfectly pieced and color coordinated quilt...then I won't make one at all. And so on and so forth...you name it, I'll give you the reason why I wasn't able to give it a shot.

Until recently....

Looking over the past couple of years and the things that I've learned to do I've realized that even if it can't be done perfectly, it is still worth doing. And maybe the process is just as important, if not more, than the finished product. I have stopped trying to achieve perfection...in my self, in my home, in my endeavors. I strive for a job well done...yes. I do my best... But I don't expect it, whatever it is, to be perfect. I expect bumps along the way...I expect challenges...and in the end, I expect to have learned something in the process.

So if my pickles aren't perfectly spiced...or my quilt pieces aren't perfectly lined up at the corners...or if my bread falls flat and comes out of the oven looking more like a cracker...I will try again. I will learn from mistakes and what would appear to be a failure...and I will try again. I won't give up. I won't quit.

Not anymore, anyway.

Hmmm...sounds like maybe I just might have made a resolution...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas...


beautiful flickr favorites...
 Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Pretty exciting, isn't it? Although not as exciting as when I was a little girl. Oh my goodness...what great memories I have of Christmas Eves and Christmas mornings. Do you ever wonder if you're really remembering something...or if you are just saw a photo of it and only think you are remembering? Weird..

When I was little we always spent Christmas Eve with my dad's family and Christmas Day with my mom's. Two whole days of CHRISTMAS. It was great...

I remember...
peanut butter on celery...
Cheez Whiz...
the smell of onions and cigarette smoke...
Vodka Gimlets (for the grown ups, of course)...
new pj's on Christmas Eve...
waiting and waiting and waiting for Santa and watching for him in the sky on the way home from my grandparent's house. I think I saw him once!
a new blue bike with rainbow tape and a denim seat...the coolest...
passing out the wrong gifts to the grandmothers...
my first 8" plant on a groovy wood and tile stand from Santa...I felt so grown...
Bonne Bell lip smackers in my stocking...the big fat ones! in strawberry or bubble gum...
a wood and wool sheep given to me by my uncle...from a Neiman window display in San Francisco...

There's more...lots and lots more....for another time.

Christmas was always wonderful in our house when I was growing up. I'm thankful...

Merry Christmas...
xo

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wednesday in the Word

the church we attend...established over
100 years ago.

* * * * *
Revelation 22:6

[ John and the Angel ] The angel said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true.
The Lord, the God who inspires the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the
things that must soon take place.”

I have been thinking about inspiration lately. Mainly because I have none. I haven't taken pictures in months. Oh sure, I've taken a few here and there...but nothing to write home about. And I've realizeds lately that this blog...my writing...relies on my photos for inspiration. I take pictures...I find a few to share with you...and then a story evolves.

But...when there are no photos...it seems there are no words. No inspiration.

Last night I was looking through some favorites at flickr. (for hours it seemed...) And I began to feel inspired.

I realized how badly I've missed my camera...and words. How much I've missed finding the beauty in the everyday. I've been praying...asking for direction...for clarity...and for inspiration. But it's still quiet around here...in my heart...and in my soul. Quiet. And still. Still.

The theme, it seems, is wait. Wait. And be still.

I'm doing my best...my best to enjoy this time, this process. Patience is a virtue...one I don't feel that I have. But...according to God's word, if I have the Holy Spirit then I have His gifts. And one of those gifts is...patience. It's in me...I just need to exercise it. Dig it out from beneath the hustle and the bustle and the noise that is constantly clanging in my mind. The noise of the "shoulds"...the expectations of others...the opinions of others...what they think I should do with my life...noise.

In the meantime...I'm going to dust off my camera and see what I see. Maybe it will lead to something...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmastime is near...


I can't believe we are 5 days away from Christmas 2010. I also can't believe I am pretty much ready! I've got most of my shopping done...most of my wrapping done...and have all of the supplies to do some holiday baking and candy making!

The boys made sugar cookies this afternoon...good thing they like to bake! I am not a big fan of baking. I'm not sure why, really. Precise measurements? Big messes? I don't know. It's just not my preference. BUT, my boys like to bake...so there ya go! Sugar cookies are currently being iced in blue...and eaten!

We got our tree last Monday...finally! It's a beautiful little 4-foot tree that fits on the end table perfectly. It's just the right size for our little house. Not to mention it was so easy to put the lights on...bonus!

And for the next few days our house will be full of lovely messes...baking supplies and baked goods, wrapping paper, lists that I'm checking twice (and three times if they're not careful!)...and lots of pretty presents under the tree! Typically, Christmas makes me grumpy every year...it's usually over the financial aspect. But once I get going I really do enjoy it. I love the lights...and I love to give gifts...and I love being with family. Oh...and I love eating cookies!

I better go wrap a few more gifts...

Are you ready for Christmas? What's left on your to-do list?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wednesday in the Word


photo by shaun o'boyle

Proverbs 8:34
Blessed are those who listen to me,
watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.

* * *

Still waiting.
Sometimes not so patiently.
Sometimes with doubt.
Sometimes with frustration. And impatience.
Sometimes with tears.
But still waiting nonetheless.
And trusting.
Always trusting.

Friday, December 10, 2010

random.

This is a random photo of my sons book shelf that has absolutely nothing to do with what I'm about to ramble on about. Because today has turned into a random day. I had a meeting scheduled for this morning that got cancelled....and suddenly I didn't know what to do with myself. I was already showered and dressed...the dishwasher was loaded and ready to run while I was gone...email was caught up and dinner was planned. For whatever reason it threw me completely off!

So instead I baked a batch of muffins. I found a recipe, decided to double it, decided to lessen the sugar and add oil and applesauce rather than butter, made a streusel, lessened the sugar...and now I have double the amount of mediocre muffins. I should have left the sugar amount alone...  This is probably one of the main reasons I haven't baked much in my life. But...I'm trying to change that. And I figure the more I do it, the better my experiments will get and eventually I will land on a recipe that is a keeper!

Luckily for me...muffins, no matter the amount of sugar, will always get eaten in this house.

Next on the agenda...the bank, the grocery store and a visit with my friend.

xo

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wednesday in the Word.


Psalm 84:10-11

10 Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.

I pray you are all living a blessed life this week.
xo

Thursday, December 2, 2010

happy chickens.


 For the past several weeks, I've been letting The Girls out to free-range more. It makes them so happy. Is that anthropomorphising? Maybe they're not necessarily happy...but maybe more like content? Whatever it is they're "feeling", it is evident to me when I watch them scratch around the yard digging for bugs and stretching their wings.

Yesterday I let them out in the morning. They don't cause any trouble, but I still like to check on them now and then and make sure they're OK. Yesterday when I peeked out the back door to check on them I found them all lying down on their sides in a little spot of sunshine. The were laying there with their wings spread out in an attempt to soak up some warmth...and Vitamin D! I don't think Vitamin D is on their mind...they just do this naturally. (I didn't get a photo...had I gone out there they'd have come running to see what treats I was bringing them and it would have ruined their "moment". So I just watched from afar..)

Chickens are really funny to watch...and calming. They're so slow and calm and methodical...it's relaxing to just sit and watch them do what they do. I watched them for a bit, sunning themselves, and it made me feel good that I am able to provide them a decent life. To see them "happy" made me happy. And the two eggs I harvested, in spite of this cold, cold weather, made me happy, too! (Still getting at least one egg a day...not bad!)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

home.


I've been spending a lot of time at home lately. And I love it. Really. I love it so much. A few weeks ago I was spending a lot of time at home in preparation for the boutique. Then the next week was Thanksgiving and the boys were home on vacation so we spent a lot of time around the house. Now this week...I'm sick! (Not the best way to be home, but I'm home nonetheless. So I'm staying warm and cozy and comfy and using this time to peruse blogs and do some meal planning and online window shopping for Christmas.)

I love being at home. Did I already say that? I do. I believe it allows me to be more myself. When I'm home I feel like I'm doing what I was created to do...take care of my home and my family. And that feels good.

Being home so much lately has allowed me to slow down. And in slowing down I've been able to do more, it seems. I am planning meals, keeping the house a little tidier, catching up on laundry (you know...those sweaters and dress shirts and blankets that get left at the bottom of the hamper because they aren't immediately needed? Yeah, I washed those yesterday. Uh-huh.) and, dare I admit, baking. This came out of necessity yesterday...I had no lunch snacks and wasn't feeling well and doing my best to avoid the grocery store. (You know I'm sick if I avoid the grocery store...I like to shop for groceries. I know...) I had some frozen shredded zucchini and some frozen pumpkin puree and decided to turn it into muffins. I found a good recipe...made a few changes such as less sugar, applesauce rather than oil...and whipped up some yummy muffins last night. Baked goods = happy family.

Home. It's a good place to be.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

So Sunday...

Pablo...such a cat.
This is us today...lazy. Chris has been sick the last couple of days...back and forth from the living room to the bed...headache, stuffy head, body aches. The boys spent lots of time with friends this weekend...video games, scooters, sleepovers. It was gray and rainy yesterday...a perfect day to make that turkey I'd had defrosting. And of course, all of the trimmings, too...potatoes, Noni's stuffing, gravy. And yes, even a pumpkin pie! Seth helped me...it was delicious. Matter of fact, I just had some for breakfast. With whipped cream. I make no apologies.

Today will be slow...just like the last two days. And that...makes me happy. I will do some reading...and some tidying...and some washing...and I will hunt around for recipes and make a menu plan for the week. But other than that...we're taking our cue from Pablo this beautiful autumn day.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Give thanks...

 Happy Thanksgiving


I'm thankful for you...have a blessed and safe day.
xo

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday in the Word


Psalm 84:3

Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young— a place near your altar, LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

* * *

I've been spending a lot of time at home lately.
I've been moving slow...and deliberate.
I've been taking care of my nest...
and my young...
and my self.

And yes...my nest is near His altar...
so close,
He is right there...
I feel Him,
I hear Him,
even if it is just a whisper...
I know He is near.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Boutique.


the main display table in the living room
  The Holiday Boutique was on Saturday...and it was so much fun! And it was also a success! My aunt's house was completely transformed into a true boutique...it was great.
There were about a dozen of us who participated and there was a wide variety of items for sale...vintage finds like thimble shaped shot glasses, beautiful floral dessert plates, silver salt and pepper shakers, beautiful dish sets...and more. Very cool stuff...it was hard not to buy, buy, buy!

We also had handmade items...ornaments, hand knit wash cloths, adorable appliqued onesies, homemade dog treats, lots and lots of yummy baked goods, handmade wreaths, adorable sock monkeys, quilts...and more! 

We had a steady stream of visitors from start to finish. We mulled some delicious apple cider...we had Christmas music playing in the background...there was lots of laughter...and lots of SHOPPING!

baked goods beautifully displayed on the island
 
ornaments, glitzy wreaths (made by my aunt), glassware and
 rustic snowmen (made by yours truly...)

vintage-like glitter ornaments...one of my offerings.
 
Mr. and Mrs. Come-a-Calling...my mom made
these adorable little Christmas mice...and my
friend Sue took them home as a pair!

My Aunt Lisa made this sweet little mouse sitting
in a snowball...isn't he darling?

You might recognize this young lady...it's a
Mimi Angel complete with wings and a halo!

Appliqued onesies and fancy tutus...so stinkin' cute.
My cousin made these sweet little numbers and
they are adorable.

And would you believe...it was pouring down rain! It rained like crazy when I arrived in the morning...just in time to unload my wares. And then...it POURED in the evening, complete with thunder and lightning, just in time to load our cars and go home!! But that was OK...what's a little water?

Thank you to my Aunt Lisa for opening up her home for this endeavor. And I'd like to extend a HUGE thank you to my uncle D...poor guy was misplaced for about three days while his house was torn up and transformed into the Holiday Boutique extravaganza. But, being the amazingly good sport that he is...he made the best of it! (Thanks, D!)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dear Santa...


Please bring us a new water heater that produces lots and lots of nice hot water. I've been a pretty good girl this year...well, most of the time...sort of...except for maybe that one time. But that was an accident...pretty much. Well, sort of. Oh...and there was that one other minor little incident...but nobody suffered any permanent injuries...so that doesn't count right? Right? I did make my bed every day and use my manners on a regular basis and eat all of my vegetables. Hopefully that will count for something! Oh, and I'll even leave you cookies! Thanks Santa...you're the best. Love, Michelle


Our water heater isn't working! We realized this last night when Chris went to take a shower and there wasn't any hot water. This morning Seth took a cold-ish shower...Ian washed his hair in cold water...and I'm patiently waiting for my handy hubby to come back home to fix it so I can take a shower and get going with my day!

Well, the Holiday Boutique is tomorrow! I have so much to do!! I have to finish my fence board snowmen (that turned out super cute, if I don't say so myself! and yes, I'll take lots of pictures so you can see!) I have to price everything still... I need to put together more note cards... And I need to load it ALL up into my car, as well as some large display pieces....an old table, an old folding screen made from shutters, several old wooden crates...and whatever else I think to bring along. Then I need to be at my aunt's house around 4:30 or so to set up. It's gonna be a long day. But it's going to be worth it...the boutique is going to be adorable. My aunt and I did a little bit of set-up last night and we got really excited...it already looks cute! Would you believe we dragged a big ol' tree branch indoors to display ornaments? Yes. We did. And it looks so cute!

In the meantime, I have no hot water. This is not a good day to not have hot water...NO day is a good day for no hot water. This is a nice little lesson in "things I take for granted"...yes, indeed. Hot water. Flip of a handle and voila...there it is. I can take long, hot, soothing showers...I can wash clothes...I can wash dishes...just like that. Yes, I take it for granted every single day. Running water, too, for that matter. We are such a blessed people...such a blessed nation...

Thank you God for that little wake-up call...that little reminder...that I am blessed.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chickens? What chickens?


Nellie...taken right before I left for Belgium.

I'm kidding! Yes, I still have chickens. Of course I do...I love those crazy little birds. They are healthy and happy and continuing to lay big, beautiful, brown eggs. They're still averaging 2-3 a day...not bad as the weather turns a bit colder.

I decided I needed to clean their coop this morning. It was a bit overdue...poor girls, and it's going to rain this weekend. So I needed to get it done. I have been having Seth toss the grass clippings into their coop each time he mows the lawn. They love to scratch around for bugs and nibble at the fresh cut grass. As I was shoveling out the bottom of the coop floor...grass clippings, wood shavings (nice that my hubby has a wood shop...that sawdust is good stuff!) and of course, chicken poop!...I realized that it was actually GOOD stuff I was tossing into the recycling bin. The grass and sawdust  had been decomposing, as well as some maple leaves that had blown in, and then of course all of that combined with the chicken droppings, I had the makings of some wonderful compost. I couldn't bring myself to just throw it away. Not with thoughts of next year's garden dancing around in my head! Fresh tomatoes, cool cucumbers, tons of zucchini, fresh green beans, fresh lettuce...oh my, nothing like a salad made with fresh lettuce grown right in your own backyard.  And it's so easy to grow...


Is it summer yet? (just kidding...)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday in the Word.


Psalm 63:1-8

1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
 in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.

2 I have seen you in the sanctuary
and beheld your power and your glory.

3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

6 On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.

7 Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.

8 I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me.

I forgot today was Wednesday. And I started a whole different post...about the boutique we're doing this Saturday. But then it dawned on me what today was...and I deleted the whole post...and started over. I had to think a bit about what I wanted to share today...and as I thought the word "dry" popped into my head.

That's how I'm feeling lately...dry. Not down. Or sad. Or depressed. Just...dry.

And...I know why. Because I haven't been having my time with God each morning. I haven't been reading my bible. I haven't been writing in my prayer journal. I haven't been listening to worship music. I haven't been doing a bible study. I haven't been doing much in the way of spending time with God. At least not quality time. I talk with Him in the shower...and I talk with Him throughout the day...but it's more of a one-sided conversation. I'm talking. He's listening. And probably waiting for me to hush so He can get a word in edge-wise!

Talking to God throughout the day isn't a bad thing. It's good to be in communication with God all day long...being open to Him and His guidance. If I'm at the grocery store, I want to be open to Him asking me to buy food for someone. Or as I'm driving along, I want to hear Him whisper someones name so I can pray for them, or give them a call. It's good to talk with Him during the day. But those times are more like friendly chats...not good, deep, heartfelt conversations. And that's what I'm missing...

There's something about those first moments in the morning that make those conversations possible. It's quiet, and dark...it's just me and Him...and it's then that I can actually hear Him...clearly.

I could give some excuses as to why I haven't been spending time with God first thing in the morning...but why? The simple fact is that I have been distracted...and I have gotten out of the "habit" of my morning time in God's word. That's it. So now it's just a matter of getting back into that "habit"...because I am very thirsty, dry and parched. And only the Living Water can quench this thirst...

Dear God....my whole being longs for you.
Help me find my way out of this desert.
It seems I've lost my way.

Amen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

be inspired.


these are not my photos. they are some of my Favorites on
flickr...such an incredible amount inspiration
to be found there...people's creativity is amazing!

My aunt is hosting a Holiday Boutique in her home this coming Saturday...and I am participating. I'll be selling framed photographs, photo note cards, handmade ornaments and some snowmen made from old weathered fence boards and rusty embellishments. I have 5 days until the boutique...and a lot of work left to do!

I love making things...I love paint on my fingers, wrestling with hot glue strings, bits of fabric and ribbon on the floor...love it. I have a big pile of a MESS at the end of my dining room table...circle cutter, paints, brushes, scissors, jingles bells, ric rac, Mod Podge, glitter, glue, buttons...and more! My table seats 6...but only three of us can fit at one time because of all the stuff....thank goodness Seth was at the movies at dinner time last night!

So for the next few days I'll be painting snowmen and Mod Podging old papers onto ornaments and snipping fabric and sprinkling glitter and...serving dinner buffet style.

What have you got going on this week? Anything fun and messy?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wednesday in the Word


Psalm 31:24

Be brave. Be strong. Don't give up.
Expect God to get here soon.

A few weeks after I returned from Belgium I had a revelation one day. I had decided to take it easy this particular day. I slowly sipped my tea, caught up on email, read a few blogs, got some laundry going and then thought to myself, "I'm going to go for a walk." I got dressed, put on my walking shoes, loaded up the iPod and off I went.

It was a beautiful morning. It was brisk and sunny...it was evident that autumn was officially here. It was a perfect morning in my book!

As I was walking I was listening to worship music, talking with God and thinking about my life and the direction I'm going. I was asking God questions like, "What next, God? What am I doing now? Why do I feel stagnant? Stuck?" As I continued to walk and watch the leaves fall from the trees wait for answers I realized that I was listening to the same old songs on my iPod...and that I need some new songs on my iPod...but I don't know how to do it. Then I thought, "I need to ask one of the boys to load some songs for me...or maybe Chris'll do it..."

Then, as if a light went on, I stood up a little straighter and walked with a little more authority and thought, "No. I will load my OWN songs. I will learn how to DO it myself. And if I don't know how, I will teach my SELF how to DO it." It was that simple of a thought. And it was about more than music on an iPod. It was about life in general. No more waiting around for someone else to do it. No more talking myself out of something before I've even given it a shot. No more being afraid of the unknown...whether it's loading an iPod, sewing a patchwork quilt or flying to Belgium. No more.

And no matter what the answers to my questions may be...I am ready.

It's time...to be BRAVE.

Monday, November 8, 2010

8:25.

 I love autumn. And I love "fall"ing back. Springing forward? It makes me mad. And I don't seem to ever get used to it. Ever. But falling back makes me feel good...and cozy...and safe. I like that it gets dark early...it reminds me to cook dinner. When it's light for so long I don't think to cook. Not to mention, it's stinkin' hot...and who wants to cook when it's so stifling hot?

Yeah...fall...I'm loving this.

I took this photo in Belgium. It's a random little vignette to the right of the sink in the kitchenette. It says it's 8:25am (I know it's am because that's the only time we went into the kitchen, in the mornings)...I wonder where we were headed the day I took this shot? I can't remember. And my camera battery died at one point early on in the trip and since we were sharing chargers and adapters and the power there was all weird, I wasn't able to recharge it right away. Then, I forgot to charge it...and before I knew it I'd missed some great photo opportunities. I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I thought I would. I think it's just because we were really busy...and in the car traveling from location to location much of the time that I got tired of blurred drive-by shots. (Word has it I'm going to be getting a CD of all the pictures everyone else took, too. I hope so!)

I was talking to my friend's Jess and Irvina yesterday (they were the ministry leaders I traveled with) and we realized that we didn't really take pictures during ministry events. We took lots while we were sightseeing...and while we were hanging around the hostel or walking through the town. But we didn't take many of the churches we visited or the events we attended. I mean, taking pictures at events like that isn't always appropriate...and you do have to be discreet. A few of us did take a few pictures. But it's almost like once we got ready and got in the vans and were headed to an event we were focused on what was ahead of us...even though we never knew what to expect. Plus, we were all so busy praying for people, or singing or speaking...we were too busy to think to take photos! On several occasions we had no idea what we were going to experience. We really went blindly into many of our visits. It was so great! And required TRUST. Major amounts of trust, I tell you. It was incredible...a totally incredible experience.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saturday is here...


bread shop in Belgium around the corner
from the hostel
Saturday...it's almost noon already. I woke up thinking it wasn't quite 6am yet...but as I set the flame on the teapot I noticed it was closer to 8! I got my tea ready and sat down to the computer for a bit. After checking email, eating some toast and reading a few blogs with a sleeping kitty on my lap it was suddenly 10. Wha...?

I decided to hop in the shower and get a move on. I had a lot I wanted to get done today, after all. But first...I had to do the things that needed to be done. Like sorting through the piles that continually multiply despite my attempts to purge the mail before even bringing it in. A few loads of laundry...just to stay caught up. Rearrange the little set of drawers I have here by the computer...purged three phone books and made a ton of  room for computer papers and such. And I'm about to go on a quick run for milk and a few other things.

When I get back, I will begin to do the things that I want to do today. Like making ornaments and dolls and rosettes for the boutique. Then write my 500 words for today's NaNoWriMo plus the 300 or so I am behind. Writing 500 words a day isn't that hard as it turns out. I should have known this wouldn't be a problem for me. I was referred to as a "social butterfly" in grade school on a few occasions after all. Being wordy isn't difficult for me. (Ahem) And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying those 500 or so words that find their way to the page are interesting by any means, or that they string together to form coherent thoughts or paint vivid pictures. But the words are there...and that is the point of NaNoWriMo. To get words to paper in the form of a novel. And I like that about it. I'm glad I stepped up to the challenge.

Speaking of "the novel"...I had a really cool idea while in the shower this morning about a possible way that I can string those words together to make some sort of sense. It just came to me. And I'm excited to see how it works! (I may need to keep a notebook in the shower...I get so many ideas while I'm in there!)

But...first...the grocery store!!

Be blessed this beautiful autumn day...the air is cool and the leaves are falling. This makes me happy...

xo

Thursday, November 4, 2010

what to do...


the kitchenette at the hostel in Belgium
 I'm enjoying my second cup of Earl Grey this morning. Everyone is gone to their respective places...school, work...  I'm still in my jammies, trying to figure out what I'm going to do today. My aunt is hosting a holiday boutique in her home...so I could work on some of the items I'm making for that. I could wash the new fabric I bought last night...muslin, linen, ticking. I could drop things off at the donation station at the thrift shop. I could mop floors. (eh..) I could write my 500 words per day, plus 500 I missed for yesterday, for the NaNoWriMo project I signed up for in a moment of insanity. I could go pay a bill. Or two.

And...chances are...I will do ALL of these things.

But not right now...in a little bit.

Because first I want to share a couple of cool things with you this morning...

My sweet friend TH over at Thy Hand Hath Provided has started a new series called, Giving of Ourselves. TH has such a heart for missions...and for giving...and for living on less so that she can give more. She has decided to use her blog for God's glory and in doing that she will post occasional interviews with women who are giving of themselves to serve God the best they can no matter where they're at in life. Her hope and her desire is that women will be inspired to do what they can, be it big or small, to make a difference in the lives of others. And I am humbled that she chose me for her first interview.

Another sweet friend, Camilla over at bloom has just opened up her new online business, Magnolia Handspun. Camilla spins the most beautiful yarns and out of fibers she's dyed herself and they are unbelievably gorgeous.

Good stuff...I'm surrounded by amazing, beautiful and creative people...how cool is that?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wednesday in the Word


Psalm 5:3

3 In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.

Good morning, friends...have you layed your requests at His feet today? It's not too late...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Breakfast in Belgium.

When I went to Belgium we stayed in a place called Operation Mobilization, basically a hostel. Every morning I'd get up, grab a cup of strong coffee or tea and check email and visit with whoever else was up for a bit. Eventually we'd make our way into the dining room for some food before we got going for the day. Each morning the "inn-keeper" would set out a buffet of breakfast foods for the guests. It consisted of your choice of about 8 different cereals, 5 different breads, salami, turkey, ham, cheese, fresh fruit, yogurt, orange juice and apple juice and a variety of "spreads and pastes"...otherwise known as peanut butter and jelly! It was a nice way to get the days started!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Meet Pablo.

This is Pablo. He is the latest addition to our family...and he is so dang CUTE. Not to mention a LOVE. Well...when he's not running around toying with rodents or knocking things off of dressers or harassing Rosie, our 17 year old cat, or harassing Reggie, our 80 pound dog, or clawing furniture or....well...you get the idea.

Pablo was born on April 11...my birthday. It was destiny.

Pablo left the house yesterday around 10am. At 6pm we were worried. At 8pm we were sad. At 10pm we went to bed. At 2am Pablo made his way through the cat door. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wednesday in the Word



Psalm 91

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. [a]

2 I will say [b] of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

3 Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,

6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.

9 If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-

10 then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;

12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

14 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.

15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.

16 With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation."



I don't know about you...but I really needed this today. xo

Monday, October 25, 2010

home improvements.

This past weekend was productive. We finally painted Seth's bedroom! Oh my goodness...it's been an awful "Big Bird" yellow (or so I called it) for THIRTEEN years...and I finally had enough!! So when I was at our local hardware store a few weeks ago and happened to check the Oops paint and found three gallons of Tobacco Leaf  I snatched them up! At $5 a can how could I not?

Knowing that we didn't have anything going last Saturday...and knowing that it was going to rain...and being on a home improvement roll that started with some projects for Ian's room...I asked Chris if he'd be willing to help me paint Seth's room over the weekend. He quickly agreed!! (Yes!) So Saturday morning we put on our grubbies, emptied the room and commenced painting. Less than 4 hours later Seth had a newly painted room...and it looks so good. I love how it turned out. What a relief to walk past his room and not have to see that hideous yellow anymore. You have no idea how sick of it I was!

So...today we'll finish up Ian's room as soon as Chris gets home with his refinished nightstand. We'll move some pictures around...rearrange book shelves. And then I think tomorrow I'm going to work on his duvet cover. I happened to have two flat sheets left from two separate sheet sets that will go perfectly as a duvet. I had originally set them aside for quilt backs...but a duvet is more likely to actually get done (ahem) so that's what I'll use them for. He needs one. His comforter, while still warm and cozy, has seen better days. So a duvet will be a nice change. Plus it'll add some needed color in his room. After that all we need to do is replace his blinds with woven blinds (that I'll watch to come on sale...or check Craigslist) and we'll be done with their rooms for a good while.

We've been in this house for 13 years...and have done a few things here and there to make improvements like updating the bathroom and the kitchen. But that's about it. So this has been a long time coming. Next on the list? Our room and a bid on new carpet and flooring. Talk about overdue...yikes!

(I haven't taken any photos yet...but I will! And I will share soon. I finally got a photo editing program on this computer...so pictures are soon to come. Finally!)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Have you heard of Andy Goldsworthy?


leaves woven together with thorns.
 I learned about Andy Goldsworthy while taking my first online college course. He's an amazing artist. He creates every work out of all natural materials...leaves, sticks, rocks, snow, ice, sand, moss, trees, flowers...incredible sculptures. And for the most part, every one of them is temporary. He builds them in nature...in the elements...sometimes even racing tides to complete the work before the sea comes to wash it away.

Beautiful. Unbelievably beautiful.

There is an excellent documentary about him, Rivers and Tides, that I was able to borrow from my local library (so I imagine you can, too!). If you like art...and nature...and quiet ideas...and deep thoughts...then I think you'd like Goldsworthy and his art as much as I do.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

trying to figure things out...

Can I just say I'm not sure what the heck I'm doing? Can I just say that I'm totally unsure of my future right now? I feel like I'm spinning in circles...like that game where you put your head on the end of a baseball bat, spin around and around and then try to walk a straight line. That's me. I'm trying to walk a straight line right now but can't seem to get my focus.

All last year I had a goal: get to Belgium. In the meantime I was also taking college courses and working part-time at the book store. I was pretty busy last year. I had a goal. I was (pretty much) focused. (I'm never totally focused...I tend to be a bit flighty....distracted by shiny objects...but I try!)

So...lo and behold...I got to Belgium (thanks to many of you I might add). And God was good in all of it. And I fulfilled what God sent me to do. I was obedient. And I came home changed. But now what? All of that momentum and now I'm suddenly just sort of...coasting. And...it's OK, I guess. I know God is doing something...I know He's preparing me for the next phase of my walk with Him. And I know that I gathered up so many tools for future ministry while in Belgium . And I know that now I'm in the "wait" stage. But I am so bad at waiting.

Waiting is hard. But it's necessary. Waiting can also be referred to as "trusting". Trusting God is necessary because it builds relationship with Him. Trusting Him keeps me close to Him, tethered to Him, pressing into Him.

Do I trust God enough to wait on Him? Do I trust God enough to realize that His timing is perfect and mine is not...ever? Do I trust God enough to continue forward, even if I'm a bit dizzy and out of sorts, knowing that He is guiding my every step and that He is leading me to something good?

Yes. I do. I trust Him completely. Because He is trustworthy...period.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday in the Word

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 
 
Isaiah 43:1b
 
* * * * * * * * * *
 
This last weekend was the First Annual Women of Victory Women's Retreat at my new church. Our theme was He Knows My Name and Isaiah 43:1b was our scripture. I have to be honest, when we first left our old church and moved to the new one I had every intention of sitting in the back row and resting for a while. I'd been very involved in the women's ministry at my old church and felt like I just needed some time to sit. And be. But, as is usually the case with God, He had another plan. And that plan was for me to coordinate the women's retreat.
 
When I first got to Victory Christian Life Center (the new church), I met a sweet young woman, Tiffany. She has a heart for God and a heart for women. We knew God wanted us to work as a team and He allowed us to form a special friendship. Over the course of time, our little retreat (we have a small church) became a reality and before we knew it we were headed to the mountaintop to meet with Him along with 15 of our sisters in Christ.
 
Our guest speaker, Deanna, was amazing. She put together her message based on our theme, He Knows My Name. She created work sheets for us to use in break-out sessions. She talked about our names...what they mean...what they mean to us. She made us bookmarks with our names on them and on the back she wrote down its meaning. She also talked about our names in Christ. Who we are in Him...and how it's His name we take when we accept Him as Savior. Not only did we learn what our names do mean, God also showed us throughout the weekend what our names do NOT mean.
 
My name is not: fear, depression, anxiety, worthless, mistake...you fill in the blank.
 
My name is Michelle. And this is what it means in Hebrew, "Close to God. Feminine form of Michael: Who is like God? Gift from God."
 
* * * * * * * * *
 
What is your name? And what is it not? I want to encourage you to make a list. Go to this site and find the meaning of your name. Type in your name in the Search for faster results as the site is quite extensive. Find out what your name means...and write it down. Pray and think about what that means to you.

Then...write down what your name is not. What name, what "label" do you live under? What do you deal with? Eating disorders? That is not your name. Alcoholic? That is not your name. Addict? That is not your name. Abused? That is not your name. Victim? Fear? Low self-esteem? Depression? Anxiety? Bi-polar? Manic? No. None of them are your name. Why is it we grab a hold of these labels, these "names", as if they are truth? They are not truth. The truth is you are a child of God...fearfully and wonderfully made. He knit you together in your mother's womb. Your name is "perfect in His eyes".

God is calling us by name...we are His. Don't you think it's time to start living like it?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I want to...

Bake my own bread.
Plant a fall garden.
Learn how to make cheese.
Make my own beauty aides.
Learn to make yogurt.
Find something fabulous at the thrift shop.
Watch Anne of Green Gables.
Take a walk with my camera.
Can something delicious.
Learn to use my dehydrator.
Make money doing something creative.
Write.
Learn about natural healing.
Learn more about nutrition.
Learn to bake scones...blueberry/chocolate/lavender scones to be exact.
Get back into my bible.
Make a scrap quilt.
And a pathwork quilt.
And a rag rug.
And a penny rug.
Keep bees.
And maybe a few goats.
Live in the mountains.

There's more...but that's all I can think of at the moment.

What do you want to do? Do tell...I'll be reading your comments while in bed as I seem to have caught myself the flu!

xo

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday in the Word

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As you trust in Him. As you trust in Him. As you TRUST in Him. Are you getting that? Maybe I should say it again...as you TRUST in Him.

God is trustworthy. He can be trusted. He knows what is best for us...even if we don't agree with Him. He knows what we need and He knows the best way to get us to that point. We might not always agree with His tactics...but if we're honest, when we look back on tough situations that God has brought us through, we know that His way was the best way.

So as you trust in Him, He will fill you with joy and peace. Oh...wait a minute. That's not what it says. It says He will fill you with ALL joy and peace. Not just joy and peace but ALL joy and peace. And who doesn't want that? Who doesn't want joy and peace...and all of it, to boot?! Well...actually...I can think of some people who might not want it. There was a time that I didn't want it. I was comfortable in my selfish little world throwing pity parties on a daily basis wondering why everyone else was so hard to deal with. Because, didn't everyone get the memo? It is all about me. It's about my mood and my feelings and my emotional health. It's about my troubles and my desires and my struggles.

It's all about me.

Or at least that's how I acted. And it's how I treated others. But it wasn't what was wrong with everyone else. What was the common denominator? ME. So the truth is, it's not all about me. Or you for that matter. It's all about Jesus. And it's all about Love. It's all about receiving the joy and peace of Christ so that we can pass it on to others. But how can we do that when all we can see is ourselves?

Hmmm.This isn't the direction I was planning on going with today's Wednesday in the Word. I wanted to talk about trust and all that God has done for me in this last year. But this is what came to the surface, so I'm going to leave it. Because I think God had a different message planned for today. I'll share my lesson in trust with you tomorrow.

And may you allow the God of hope to fill you with ALL joy and peace...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Belgium...on a personal note.

Yesterday I shared with you the day to day movement of the New Beginnings Ministry. I shared with you where we went...what we did...even what we ate. I shared with you the outer layer of my trip to Belgium. What you would have seen had you been a fly on the wall watching us buzz all over Belgium doing our best to obey God. But today I want to share with you about the inner layer...what happened behind the scenes in my mind and in my heart during the trip as well as the days and days and days leading up to it. God is not one-dimensional. He is a multi-tasker to the fullest. What may seem like a trip to Europe...a visit to a church...or a simple sharing of a testimony...becomes much, much more when placed in the hands of God.

This whole Belgium thing became a reality about a year ago. I had almost a whole year to prepare...mentally, spiritually, financially. Our team met regularly, making plans, working on fund-raising, reminding about Passports and airline tickets, talking about what to pack and what to wear and what to expect. We even met for a french lesson that turned out to be quite humorous! We met regularly to touch base with one another and to make sure we were all on the same page. And we were. We were all on the same mission...each of us bringing something unique to the table. We were a team. But we were also individuals. I was an individual. And God had big things in store for me, too. And as I look back over this last year I can see those things...clearly. And I am amazed...and grateful...and blown away by His goodness.

Fear. Most of my life I have operated on fear. I was a nervous little girl. My stomach always hurt whenever there was a situation I was uncomfortable with. And I was uncomfortable with a lot of situations. This fear carried on through to my adult years. And it got worse after I had kids. I was afraid of everything. You know, things like flying...and speaking in front of people..two of the main things God was calling me to do on this trip to Belgium. He was pulling me completely out of my comfort zone. Left to my own devices I would never leave my little house. I'd garden and craft and write and cook and take care of my family...I'd be perfectly content to live my little life under my little roof and call it good. I'm serious. But...God had other plans. He didn't allow me to walk through the battle of depression for nothing. He allowed me to walk through it...with Him right by my side even when I didn't even know He was there...so that I could learn from it, grow from it and then share it with others.

When this whole Belgium thing started and I came to the realization that I was going to have to fly and speak in front of people...two of my biggest fears...I was terrified. And every time I talked about it or thought about it I would feel sick. The nerves would flare up...the stomach would hurt...the jitters would settle in...fear. There it was, rearing its ugly head. And with that came anxiety...horrible bouts of anxiety. Heart pounding...ears ringing...hands shaking...sick...anxiety. Fear. Doubt. I was trying to be brave on the outside...but on the inside I was a mess. But over the course of this past year God did a work in me. A BIG work. HUGE in my book. By the time I got on that plane I was nervous...but not afraid. And when I stood up to tell my story on that Wednesday night in Belgium...into a microphone...with an interpreter!...I was calm. I was ready. I was prepared. I was one with God and following His lead. What was there to fear? Right? If God is for me, who can be against me? He sent me to Belgium for a purpose. And it was time to do what He'd called me to do. So I did it...confidently...with Him right by my side.

At first I thought something must be wrong with me...like pride had welled up or something because I wasn't nervous. But through prayer and asking God to take away any pride I might be feeling, I realized that I had been being prepared for such a time as this. It wasn't pride. It was preparation. It was God. I was completely in His will...and there was no room for fear. Fear is not of God. And at that time I was walking so closely beside Him that fear didn't stand a chance.

Fast forward...and I am home...and I am going to church. My pastor called me up to tell a bit about what God had done while Belgium. And when I got up to speak I didn't have an ounce of fear in me. I thought about being afraid...the devil tried to plant fear within me...but I refused it. I didn't play into the fear. I didn't agree with the fear. I thought about it....refused it...and moved on.

I make it sound really simple to just deny fear don't I? Well I have to say that at this point, it actually was. Thanks to Jesus. But learning to deny fear has been a process. A HUGE process...a hard process...a long process...years. A battle. It's not ever been easy for me to deny fear and anxiety. Caving in to it has always been my M.O. I caved because I didn't take hold of my power in Jesus to overcome it. We have such power in the name of Jesus. We have strength and peace and self-control. In Jesus we have grace and mercy and love. When we accept Jesus into our hearts we receive ALL of His goodness. It's in us. We just need to learn to tap into it. We need to learn to live in it...to live in Him.

Fear. It no longer controls me. Yes...I get fearful. And anxious. Terrified even. But these feelings no longer overtake me. They no longer control me or my actions or my thoughts. Fear tempts me...but I am aware of it now. And when this happens I tap into Jesus...I draw on the power and the gifts He's given me...and I conquer the fear. I conquer the enemy of my soul. And when I do this...I am victorious...in the name of Jesus. And the best part of all of this? YOU can be victorious, too! If you have Jesus in your heart, you have every bit of power that I have to overcome anything...fear, anxiety, depression, addiction, eating disorders...you name it, you can conquer it with the help of Jesus.

On the other hand, if you do NOT have Jesus in your heart, maybe it's time to invite Him in. He's freedom and love and goodness. He's got good things in store for you, too.