Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Smile Award



Thank you to my friend in AUSTRALIA at A Bite of Country Cupcakes, Ramblings of an Honest Mum, for sharing this new award with me and my blog! It's so much fun to read of life across the oceans and continents in a world where kangaroos just hop over for a visit! I've really enjoyed reading of her life as a Mum. She also creates beautiful faux cupcakes and other crafts.


Characteristics for the Smile Award:

Must display a cheerful attitude. (not necessarily at all times--we are all human).
Must love one another.
Must make mistakes.
Must learn from others.
Must be a positive contributor to blog world
Must love life.

All of my wonderful blog friends deserve and qualify for this award. These characteristics are what you give so generously in your posts and in your comments to me on mine. Encouragement, love for one another, sharing our mistakes, sometimes very humorously, learning from each other, love for life and love for our kids. So I'm going to take the easy way out and award this to all of my blog friends who stop by to visit. Your visits mean so much and if you are half as busy as I've been this week you may not have time to pass it on either. All of your blogs are places I go to be cheered up, encouraged and inspired and your faithful comments keep me going. So, please, if you would like, post this award and pass it on!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tagged!

My friend at Homesteader in Training tagged me to list 7 things about myself. I'll just share some things that are happening in my life right now since I've shared more in depth in earlier posts.

  • My kids first day of school was yesterday!
  • My first day of a new part time job was yesterday too! I really enjoyed it. I'm working in the custom framing department at a Christian owned arts and crafts type store. There's more math involved than I thought, numbers, but I think I'll get the hang of it. You get to see a lot of beautiful art!
  • I get to go observe this weekend with a wedding photographer in hopes I'll get to assist with other jobs in the near future.
  • I'm studying today for the state content test in Special Education I take on Thursday. I'm told that will really increase my chances for finding a full time teaching position. I've discovered that I'm also interested in researching the connection between art and encouraging learning disabled kids, or perfectly normal kids who don't excel in other academic subjects (I should say).
  • There is a local magazine that is distributed to all of the residents in a nearby town and I had the opportunity to photograph a couple of things for them. No pay, but great experience and photos for a portfolio as well.
  • I'm so thankful God has given me the opportunity to have this time to reach out and explore so many other options.
  • At church, I've applied for helping out with the children's ministry in some way and I'm looking forward to that. I used to spend a lot of time doing that kind of thing but it's been several years. I've been inspired lately by a blog friend to give of my time at a local ministry. There is a joy in allowing God's life and love to flow through us and this time off has opened my heart to many new possibilities!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sweets Photo Challenge




As you can see, this is one of my favorite recipes and I just happened to have a whole bunch of over ripe bananas so I baked two loaves, one with nuts and one without. Then, low and behold, I discover the new Brenda Photo Challenge is "Sweets"! (I've been a little out of the loop I guess.) I've been baking this for my family for about 27 years I would guess, and the recipe has the stains to prove it. It always turns out great every time. Just the kind of recipe I need, the kind where you just pour everything into a bowl, stir and voila!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Forget-Me-Nots






I planted these in my front flowerbed from seed packages I had saved over the years. I kept watering and waiting. While pulling weeds I spotted some green plants that I didn't think looked like any weeds I had ever seen so I left them alone. Sure enough, much, much, later, they bloomed with these tiny, delicate blue flowers.

Evening Rays























I wanted to share these photos I snapped this evening with you. I couldn't believe the beauty of the sun's rays as they shone behind the clouds. I found myself watching expectantly through my camera and I was fairly amazed at the beauty of it all. Sometimes the real wonders of creation far surpass even our imaginations.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hold On

My friend Nita at Red Tin Heart shared this video on her blog and it blessed me by it's beautiful images and words. It's amazing how God wraps Himself around us and gives us the same messages everywhere we go so we'll hear Him. I love you Jesus

(To listen, scroll down and pause my music playlist)

The Shack


I've just finished reading this book. It challenged my perception of God, and increased my trust in Him and in who He is. It really is a beautiful book.

"Reading The Shack during a very difficult transition in my life, this story has blown the door wide open to my soul."
Wynonna Judd
"This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress did for his. It's that good."
Eugene Peterson

Monday, August 18, 2008

Blue Jays and Cardinals


The most beautiful blue jays and cardinals have been keeping me company this summer. They land on the branches of a tree just outside my window. My computer and desk sit facing this window so I'm able to enjoy their company. The tree died a couple of years ago and I just haven't taken it down yet. My son was sad about the tree dying since it was one he could climb in when he was little.

Yet, even in the state my dead tree is in, it provides a place for blue jays and cardinals to sit and sing and bring color to my day! Isn't that like God? He can take something that we think is dried up, useless, has no life left or hope and fill it with color and beauty and life and song!




Sunday, August 17, 2008


"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. " Revelation 3:20

There is Hope

Tucked away in a pocket, in a place where I haven't looked for quite some time, is an issue that I want to write about today. In the midst of my joy, of floating through my days as if I haven't a care in the world, I was awakened to the hurt of someone very dear to me. And in listening to her God reminded me that there are so many other women who face the same struggle. Women to whom it's not an issue of the past, healed over by God's grace and restoration, but a living, painful struggle. It's an issue that forces us to make hard decisions, to find courage to ask for help, to think about our safety and the safety of our children.

A lot of us may know someone living with abuse or violence in their home. It can be invisible, just below the surface. Only rarely does it show itself, preferring to stay hidden. It can take many forms. Emotional abuse can be difficult to describe or talk about. The important thing is to find someone to talk to. We can't control the other person, we can only control ourselves, just as we have to take responsibility for ourselves, so the other person is responsible for doing what they have to do to get help and change their destructive behavior. Sometimes the best thing we can do is let the authorities God has put in place, step in and do their job. There needs to be accountability for change to occur.

While searching for wisdom to know how to help my friend, I found a great post written by Mary DeMuth on her Relevant Blog. I also found websites I have added to my list of Important Places. They are Focus Ministries and National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Hope's Door.

You are not alone
"Maybe you have known the fear and despair of living in an abusive relationship; the anxiety of never knowing when something you say or do will trigger the violence. You are afraid to confide in anyone else because he has warned you not to tell anyone what goes on inside the four walls of your home.
You are afraid that even if you did go to your pastor or a counselor, they would not believe you because your husband is a smooth talker who can make you sound like a fool, or he may be a respected leader in the church.
You wish you had wings so you could fly away to a safe place where you would be free from hurt. Take heart--there is help available to you, and there is hope. People care, and most of all, God cares. You are important! You are valuable." Focus Ministries


"Seldom does the abuse just go away; it gets worse. And there is nothing you can do to change your partner's behavior." Hope's Door

Dear Lord,

I pray that you will give us your wisdom, whether we are the one in a violent relationship or the one trying to help. I pray that you will bring comfort and strength to my friend and anyone reading this who is in this situation. Please give the discernment to know when to ask for help and provide a safe person to talk to. Thank you for walking with us through these days. I praise you God for your power to restore and rebuild lives.

(As for my friend, I just held her, cried with her and held her hand. I told her I knew she was strong and I trusted her to make the right decision. My prayers go with her.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sunrise


His glory covered the heavens and His praise filled the earth.
His splendor was like the sunrise, rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden.
Habakkuk 3:3-4

family time





family time. . .

painting ceramic pots
a rare time together. . .













Until . . ."Hey Mom! No more pictures!"

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Play!


My daughter made me this pancake the first morning I was at home this week!
Blueberry yogurt eyes and a red icing mouth!
This is my old piano that first belonged to my Grandma, then my Mom and now me.
(Don't look too closely at the missing ivories) Along with my favorite old sheet music.


Friday, August 8, 2008

A Morning Walk

This morning I took a walk. I didn't take the dog with me this time. It was cooler than it has been with an overcast sky. I could feel an occasional light sprinkle of rain on my face. My legs began to stretch out and use muscles they haven't used for a long time. As my arms began swinging to step up my pace, I began to feel stronger, and more confident. I breathed in deeply and felt free.

I thought about the verse in the bible that talks about not looking back, but keeping our eyes straight ahead. For the first time in a long time I feel that I'm able to do that. To look forward with hope and peace in my heart and the anticipation of wondering what God is going to lead me to.

I know these days are a gift. I even unplugged my alarm clock so when I'm in my room I have no idea what time it is. I can read as long as I want to before I go to sleep and I can sleep as long as I want to before I get up. After setting the alarm for 4:25 AM every workday for two years, it sure is nice. (Actually I do have a job fair tomorrow morning so I guess I'd better set it tonight). I'm enjoying my home so much more. My time with my kids isn't rushed. We're just enjoying being together.

In case this all sounds misleading, I think I'm working harder at finding a job than I ever did at my job. I'm exploring all kinds of ideas and I'm excited to see where God leads. I pray that I will listen carefully and hear Him.

"I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye"Psalm 32:8"

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left."Isaiah 30:21

"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."Proverbs 3:6

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

He Makes Me Lie Down in Green Pastures

Psalm 23

God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word, you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.

Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I'm not afraid when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.
I'm back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.
The Message

The LORD, the Psalmist's Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
New American Standard

What wonderful words. The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul. True to His word, He lets me catch my breath and sends me in the right direction.

I praise you God, most holy and merciful, faithful and trustworthy, my provider, my shield, my protector, my all. You have prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies and you revive my drooping head. My cup overflows with blessing. Your beauty and love, your goodness and lovingkindness follow me, chase after me every day of my life. You are my home and will be forever.

Last week when I posted the verses from Psalms about how God is our help, I was seeking strength from God's word for a situation I was facing at work. It seemed the only option was to resign from a job I've been at for almost 8 years. I felt it was the only way to preserve my dignity. As I've shared before, I've been seriously searching for a teaching job for a while now. I'm sure alot of us feel this way at times, but I had felt like a caged bird for a long time, believing that God's purpose for me was far away from where I was spending the majority of my time.

So, being the brave soul that I am, I called work, after I knew everyone had gone home, and left messages for my bosses telling them I was quitting. I had prayed and felt God's peace about my decision. I knew He would provide, believing He had led me to this decision. However. . . after tossing and turning for a few hours, remembering things like insurance, what does the employee handbook say about not giving notice, what would my family's reaction be? Was I being irresponsible?

So, I dragged my tail in after me the next morning, asked if they would accept a two weeks notice from me instead. Yesterday, I was told that they would give me an extra two weeks pay to give me more time to devote to finding a new job and that I could make yesterday my last day. Now, shouldn't I be happy about this turn of events? I feel like the bird who has been dreaming and singing of freedom, staring at the open door in the cage, realizing I really am free. Free to follow my dreams and let God lead me in the right direction. He has given me this time to catch my breath.

Last week, my post was going to be about pride, how sometimes in attempting self preservation we become the one who is proud. Attempting to protect ourselves from those around us who seem haughty and rude, we ourselves become prideful. In setting down my pride, I realized it had become a wall behind which I had been hiding for a long time. Now, it seems, God has provided the only protection I ever needed all along.

This morning instead of chasing after planes, pilots and coffee pots, I'm at home making scrambled eggs and pancakes for my kids, looking out at my green pastures.

Dear Precious Lord,

I lay my days at your feet. I lay the work of my hands and my ambitions and dreams at your feet. May each thought and effort be for you and from you. I know all that I am and have is from you. Your beauty and love, your goodness and lovingkindess, follow me all the days of my life. My home is with you.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Today was like one big hug. We soaked up all of the beauty and colors we could. Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Gaguin . . . Their very brush strokes, such brilliant color, sun reflected from Mediterranean villages. . . our favorite. The quietness as rooms full of people gazed in wonder and awe at these works of art. Of course, I was basking in my daughter's company and her beautiful smile. Traveling to the museum and back home again, we talked and laughed. We talked of hopes and dreams ...
It was a day filled with magic.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Treasures

One day when my oldest daughter was 10, I checked her out of school early and we went to see the Monet exhibit at the Kimbell Museum. It was such a special day for us both. Mother- daughter time, strolling along, gazing at these beautiful works of art, the amazing colors...I still have my prints that I bought. She picked out a book with a painting by Monet as the cover.


I've thought of that day over the years and wished we could have had more like it. You know the longing in our hearts that we, as mothers, get sometimes. My wish is coming true!




There is a new Impressionist Exhibit with work by Monet, Van Gogh, and many more wonderful artists. My daughter celebrates her 22nd birthday on Monday so tomorrow we get to relive our special day and create a new one.


After a dusty search through closets and boxes, I found our treasures safely hidden away!

My real treasure is my daughter and time spent with her, my little princess, my butterfly girl, now a beautiful, young woman.