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Archive for the ‘Thankful’ Category

Humble Offerings

I have come to a place where I feel that all of my offerings are humble.

I look around and see so many who are blessed with so much, so gifted, so able.  And I am.  I am gifted and able and blessed.  I am overflowing with grace, poured into me by a gracious heavenly father.

And yet, I so often look at what I have to offer clenched in my fist, lower my chin as it trembles, and look around hoping no one will notice what little I have to offer.

Then I read, “He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  ‘Truly I tell you,’ he said, ‘this poor widow has put in more than all the others.  All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’”  And I am encouraged that all I have to offer might just be enough.

It is with this thought in mind that I am guest posting over at A Bushel and a Peck, one of my long-time favorite blogs.

Verse from here.

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This Is My Father’s World

Sitting at the window, watching them play
Red and navy coats, running every direction
Bright fleece covering heads and scarves covering faces
Only eyes showing their smiles
Giant flakes of white falling, lilting
Snowflakes singing silently
My heart bursting wide open

Playing at the moment:
This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

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{And so I am taking the summer off.  I am thinking that I will still post some of the drafts that I have written, I will do some re-posts, and I may document some of this journey I am on; but for the most part consider this “summer vacation.”  -written June 18th, 2010}

Oh, what a wonderful week it has been – following another wonderful week!

Just a couple verbal snapshots to explain why it is such a wonderful week:

The high temperature today was 85, but most of the day the thermometer wavered between 79 and 80!

Sunshine – lots of it!

Dinner two nights ago = corn from the roadside stand, tomato, green beans from the garden grilled* with carrots {from the grocery store}, salad {the most tender lettuce from the garden – mmmm!}, and mashed potatoes.  We had the potatoes, not because they really fit with the meal, but because the kids asked for them!

Water balloons – and all of the laughter that goes with them.

The flower gardens have been weeded!  {finally!}

Friends who invited us to share their beautiful pool.

Neighbors who come over to share our back yard.

Front and back doors open; windows open in the car.

Summer skirts and sandals.

Waving to neighbors as we walk the neighborhood.

*Our favorite way to grill veggies in the summer is to drizzle a little olive oil over the top, sprinkle on some fresh garlic (minced), shake a little salt or pepper over the top; wrap it all loosely in a little foil packet – it’s magical!

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This weekend is a big one for us – a friend’s birthday party and a family birthday party and some other friends to hang out with; the area pools will open, and water features at local parks will flow.  Amidst all the planning and menus I almost forgot:

In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

I’m thinking that Monday morning we’ll spend some time on the couch reading and talking (and probably – me – crying).  We might also make some poppies with tissue paper.  And we will thank God for the freedoms we have and for those who still willingly give their time and their lives for the good of their country – whether or not we agree with the politics of it all.

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Resolutely Not Resolute

Been thinking about all the things I want to be this year.

I want to be in shape.

I want to be more sure of myself, less given to the whims of others.

I want to be a woman who is learning and growing, not just stagnating while I keep up with laundry and dishes and dusting.

I want to be caught up.  I want the kids’ scrapbooks to be up to date (a goal that I’ve been working on since the adoption, and I’m almost there).

I want to be organized. (closets and all)

I want to be creative.  For a long time I have set aside my creative side in favor of the practical side who could save money or time by doing things efficiently.  I think this year might just have a little room for creativity.

***

I am blessed to have this family, the one that makes the mountains of laundry and needs to be fed.  I am so blessed to have this husband who is my best friend and a huge distraction.  I have friends who are wonderful and fun and creative, and I want to please them.  I am blessed to live in a beautiful place with changing seasons and many parks/museums/fun places that need visiting.  I am blessed to have the opportunity and time to homeschool my children (and I’m fairly certain that I could be a lot more organized without homeschooling!).

With every “I want” comes an “I have.”  While I firmly believe that it is good to set goals and work toward them, sometimes I get so lost in the goal making that I forget to look around and see all that is good right in front of me.  Sometimes I loose perspective and start to see my blessings as hurdles, as stumbling blocks between me and whatever goal I have set.  “If only I didn’t have to plan for school next week, I could take some time to learn to use my camera better.”  “If I didn’t have all this laundry, I would have tons of time to make gourmet meals and clean out the closets.”  “If only I didn’t have four kids at home, I could take a class at the community college or work out more or. . . or. . . or”

But this year, even more than I want to be a better me, I want to get my thinking right.

Perhaps I should just resolve to be content this year.

(Oh, and come back tomorrow to see a fun little adventure in creativity; I’m doing something I’ve never done before!  Eek!)

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Today I . . .

. . . enjoyed refreshing worship and a very relevant sermon at church.

. . . enjoyed Ethiopian food at a restaurant where we are becoming familiar folk.  (At first my taste for Ethiopian food was lacking a bit – I’m not very adventurous in the food realm.  However now I look forward to eating injera, and I have a list of things that I call “my favorites.”)

. . . wore my new beads – love them! (Seriously, go check those beads out. . . even if it means leaving here in the middle of this post!  I’m okay with that; they are beautiful beads for a great cause!

. . . went to the laundry room to wash my new jeans (can I hear a shout out for new jeans!) and to sneak bites of cheesecake.  (Had some left over from our hot date last night, and I totally didn’t want to share; please tell me that this doesn’t make me a terrible mother!)

. . . got a few more scrapbook pages done, and am even closer to having Gus’ scrapbook caught up!  That is HUGE in my book!

. . . kissed my husband (I found that as one of the items on my iPod to-do list; I think someone has been playing with MY iPod.)

. . . realized that not only did I get to have a date last night with my wonderful husband, but I get to have another one next weekend!  (Two dates in one month!  It’s usually a big deal, if we get one date in two months!)

. . . ate popcorn for dinner.  (Mmmm. . . and easy!)

. . . enjoyed the day!  (Just like saving a penny here and a nickel there eventually fills the piggy bank, some days have lots of little events that add up to a full heart.  Today was one of those days!)

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The End Result

If you checked in here this fall, you were pretty bored.  There wasn’t a lot of posting going on.

This is why:

the play area

the tv area – haha!  can you even find our teeny-tiny tv?

The couch folds down into a bed, and the shelves store games and school supplies.

There is a television, but I don’t think it’s been turned on since it’s been down there.

this is where we do our pencil-to-paper school…and art!

Usually the table top here is buried under a huge pile of paper and projects and pencils and markers and notes and books and. . .

the kitchen (area) – no appliances, just a place to put a fridge and a sink to wash out paintbrushes

Maybe we’ll get the fridge someday.

All of that is one huge room that used to be an unfinished basement.  We wanted the space to be an area where we could homeschool and not have to pick up every night before dinner.  The kids can leave projects out, and I can leave my planning stuff out.  So far, so good.  I wanted it to be bright and sunny, hence the warm, yellow walls.  The color on the walls is “Butter” from Restoration Hardware, mixed at Sherwin Williams.  We had extra heating ducts put in, so it really does stay warm down there during the cold winter days – no more cold, icky basement.

I also wanted the room to be durable.  The countertop is laminate, because laminate is functional and durable…and easy to replace, if we stain it with paints or a science project goes awry.  The floor is stained concrete; that was quite a risky venture, but that is the thing that gets the most compliments when people visit.  I told the man that I wanted the floor to look like worn leather, and that’s exactly what everyone says when they enter!  The big, beautiful table is indeed beautiful, but it is also a damaged piece from the store.  It already has its share of scratches, so when the kids slide their scissors across it, I don’t wince in pain.  We were so blessed as we did this project; it seemed that the Lord provided everything just as we needed it.  I was able to buy all of the rugs, the tables (big and little), and quite a few other bits at a sale of store “seconds.”  The items were all damaged in one way or another, but like I mentioned with the table, that was perfect for our purposes!  We were also blessed to have a great builder who honored his Christian witness by being gracious and generous and honest – noteworthy indeed!  His wife was also a great help to me, as she was gracious with her time and talents; she helped me pick colors and encouraged me to be bold in my decision making.  There were so many other ways that the whole project (though time-consuming and a bit overwhelming) came together; indeed I feel SO blessed every time I go downstairs!

the bathroom

I think I could live in this bathroom.  It turned out so, so much better than I thought it would (if I do say so myself.)  I felt fairly clueless about what to do in there, and every step of the way I felt unsure of my decisions.  I changed my mind about the tile approximately 346 times.  I settled for white stock subway tile with a beaded decorative piece below the bullnose – love it.  The paint is a Restoration Hardware color mixed at Sherwin Williams, but sadly I can’t tell you the color name…because I don’t remember, and my builder took my paint chip.  (Really, I handed it to him and never asked for it back.  Oops!)

And so there you have it:  Besides starting school with another child home and a new curriculum and soccer season and a new job for Handsome, this is my excuse for not blogging!

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There’s a group of moms that I hang out with quite a bit…or as often as I can.  Last year on a “field trip” with these women and their children someone stopped us in the restroom – where we had all crowded in – and asked, “Are you a summer camp or a day care?”

We moms laughed, gathered our children, and answered, “Oh, we are just a bunch of moms out for the day!”

As the long line of us trailed out the door, I again laughed as I thought about the fact that we are certainly a mixed bunch of folks.  As you know, two of my children are fair-skinned and blonde-headed, and two of my children are the color of dark chocolate with tight, dark curls pouring out of their African-born selves.  Another mom in the group is married to a man who is of Eastern-Indian descent, so their children are dark-skinned with dark straight hair.  Another one of our group is an adoptive mom to twins of Hispanic genetics.  And there were at least a handful of other kids running around that belonged to us.

We moms all sort of laughed about it all, and we have all discussed it since.  We love that our group is varied; we enjoy our children and their many colors.

——-

Recently, I was at a park with my children, a friend, and her children.  We were there savoring the cool(er) morning air, so there was only another man and his child there with us.  He watched us all playing for a while.  I could tell he was watching.  When I walked over to help my youngest child, he asked.

“Are you daycare…I mean childcare?”

What he really meant is, “What is going on here…and why do you have all of these children who do not look like you?”

You see my friends children, all four of them, were adopted from Guatemala, and as you well know we are an Ethiopian-American family.

I made a point to smile warmly at the man, laugh casually, and answer carefully, “No, sir, these children are all ours.  We are both blessed with four amazing children.”

I must confess that on the inside I was a bit sad.  I was sad that if one of my children had heard that question it might have unsettled what we have worked so hard to instill over the last 20 months- that they are ours – they are wholly ours, and we are theirs.

Yet later I realized that a huge prayer of mine had been answered.  When we were adopting one of my biggest fears was that I could not provide an environment suitable for my children of color.  I want to; we try to.  When we look at the people in our life, they are all so very different; we hang out with people who are different colors, different sizes, and some who see the world differently than us.  Yet this fear lingered month after month.

When that man asked that question, it occurred to me that my prayer had been answered.  This wasn’t the first time I had been asked.  I’m sure it won’t be the last.  I wish that people were a bit more sensitive and a lot more open, yet I understand that we aren’t the “normal” family and that others sometimes need to ask questions to learn the lesson.  I try to show grace and answer nicely while all the while considering the needs of my children before the needs of the stranger.  It is sometimes a tough balance…but since that day the balance seems a little easier by the reminder that God often answers prayers in the most bountiful ways!  God had answered my prayer months and months ago; it wasn’t until recently that I realized it.

Oh, God, thank you for the many, many ways that you answer my prayers.  You so often give so much more than I could ever think to ask for.  And I am so prone to forget – to forget that I asked, to forget to watch for your answer, and to forget to say thank you.  I praise you for being generous and for working all things for good, and Lord, please forgive me for forgetting to say thank you.

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Today:

  • My Little Man was awarded the “Headband of Awesomeness” at his mixed martial arts class, one of his homeschool classes.  He apparently has good technique.
  • Y danced her dance with her ballet class for all the parents.  She did just as she was told, and she did it all as well as any six year old with ten weeks of ballet under her belt could do.  The thing that brought me to tears was watching her beautiful form; she is graceful in all she does.  She manages to spill things and drop things and knock things over more regularly than all of my other children put together, yet she has a grace about her that is breathtaking.  I don’t quite understand it, yet others see it too (and comment to me about it all the time.)
  • Dimples was happy to stay in the toddler room during our homeschool co-op, and yet he was happy to see me when I arrived at the end of the hour.  He ran to me and firmly held my hand as we walked to our next room.  This is a balance for which we have diligently searched; attachment is hard fought and not easily won…but today the taste of victory was very sweet.
  • Bubba corrected me, as I was reading the bedtime stories – twice.

Today is one of those days that I just feel completely filled up to the brim.

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I was giggling to myself today about how my youngest likes to wear his undies backwards; he likes to see the characters.  Then I started thinking about how it is that my littlest one has come to wear undies…and no diapers.  How on earth did he get to be so big!

So then I started thinking about how I got to the end of this season of mothering babies and toddlers.

I had no idea that the days would seem so long, sometimes with hours tumbling into never-ending cycles of making messes and cleaning them up.

I had no idea that it would be so messy, that I would spent hours sweeping the floor and cleaning various sticky things off of the bottom half of the windows.

I had no idea that it would be exhausting, that there would be days when all I had to do to fall asleep was stand still for 1.5 seconds…or even think about standing still.

I had no idea that it would be so loud, so loud.  I had no idea that nap time would my favorite part of the day, not because the kids were ridiculously cute while sleeping but simply because no one was talking non-stop into my ear.  No one was asking telling me to watch their every move.  “Look mom, I’m standing on one foot!”  “Look, mom!  I can jump!”  “Look, mom!  I am walking backward.”  “Look, mom!  I am breathing!”

I had no idea that it would be complicated – cloth diapers or disposable…nursing or formula…organic vegetables or the affordable stuff…the cute shoes or the mom’s-taking-the-kids-to-the-zoo shoes…double stroller or make one child walk…and on and on.

I had no idea it would be so emotional – a roller coaster, first filled with pregnancy hormones later succumbing to the excruciating pain of not being able to make all the boo-boos go away with just a kiss and the delight of giggles that fill my entire soul with laughter.

I had no idea that I would look back and be overwhelmed with the feeling that this season had been so short.

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