Friday, July 30, 2010

11 years ago tonight

from our wedding:
The Servant Song

Brother let me be your servant.
Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might have the grace
to let you be my servant, too.

I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the night time of your fear.
I will hold my hand out to you,
Speak the peace you long to hear.

I will weep when you are weeping.
When you laugh I'll laugh with you.
I will share your joy and sorrow
till we've seen this journey through.

When we sing to God in heaven
we shall find such harmony.
Born of all we've known together
of Christ's love and agony.

Bobby, (Yeah, I changed the words at this part)let me be your servant.
Let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I might have the grace
to let you be my servant, too.

Happy Anniversary Babe!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

pleasant surprises

Seeing as I had a trunk load of things to drop off at Garner Area Ministries' thrift store, I left for my hair appointment 15 minutes early. I still arrived 10 minutes early, and noticed this little store three doors down from the hair salon.

The name was slightly ringing a bell, so I went inside to look around. After looking at the third painting, I realized this was the shop owned by one of my former teachers at Wake Tech, Sherry Mitchell. God brought her into my life the year Bobby had cancer, and I'll never forget walking into class feeling overwhelmed one day, and her stopping to pray with me before other students arrived. Turns out the other student in the class who was sitting behind me was a pastor's son, and his Dad was dying from cancer. Definitely a day when I can assuredly say, "God directs our paths." One of her paintings I really liked and kept thinking how much two of my friends who both like green would like it. As I turned the corner into the next row of items, I saw a painting that reminded me of one of those friends. I couldn't help but think "Sara has paintings like this!" And then the next painting on the wall had a business card underneath it, and I realized it WAS one of Sara's paintings!!! How cool is that?

Then, I get home, and find out the reason behind all our re-arranging and cleaning of rooms may not come to be after all! That certainly eases the pressure off today's to-do list. Even so, I'm thankful to have 3/4 of everything sorted and in a different location. Three garbage bags, two trips to the thrift store, one item on CraigsList and two more to post soon...I definitely feel progress! My goal is to have everything totally completed by the end of next week, though one room will hopefully be finished tonight.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

the definition of insanity

As if my husband needed yet another reason to jokingly (or not so jokingly) question my sanity, I gave him another thing to add to my list yesterday afternoon. For the second time in eleven years, I am re-arranging the house. The first time was simply a matter of moving his desk (which really wasn't that simple) or turning the dining room table. This time I have returned to my roots and am totally switching out furniture in two rooms and moving the contents of three rooms. And the kicker is that I need to be totally finished by this Saturday. :)
Here's the before pictures.

the guest bedroom, which also has ALL my sewing stuff


the "toy" room


and the craft/art/junk room that was going to be my "office"...haha

I may not post any more until later in the week, and I almost scared to think as I do things. I've already thought of another planned project that I "should" do this week to help facilitate the moving process. I won't mention it yet as it's still a thought in my head (which is scary in itself). So when you don't hear from me this week, you'll know I'm either cleaning, moving furniture, or have become a flat Stanley.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

bows

I like bows on things (not too much on clothes, but that's a different post entirely).
Packages, wreaths, hair barrettes, shoes, Christmas trees, wall decorations...they all have a little oomph when there's a nicely tied bow attached. And there's the rub. Nicely tied.
I think bows are an art form. Perhaps they can be taught, but my one five minute lesson didn't produce much results. (We won't discuss the fact that I got frustrated with future attempts and have not practiced the tedious art form.) My oldest cousin and my aunt can make bows without even so much as a bat of the eye, and can create unique and cool bow designs without much thought. I purse my lips, clinch my teeth, gnaw my lip, hold my breath...and my bow STILL looks like it was tied by a child. Perhaps that should be a ladies' activity at church - a bow making class.
Did I mention that I'm drawn to ribbon sales in the fabric store? I seldom buy it, but I look at it and dream of all the possibilities the roll could hold. But I already have several rolls of ribbon that I can't bring myself to ruin by attempting to make them into a bow. And I refuse to pay $25 for a not full barely fluffed bow at Michaels. I like fluffy, full bows (just not on my dresses Mom, in case you read this). Maybe I'll be a little adventurous in a few months and sit down with ribbon and pipe cleaners and Youtube and figure it all out this fall. Maybe.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

small town advantage

I didn't have a youth group growing up. For some reason they all decided to graduate from high school and move on with their lives instead of hanging around for another five-ten years waiting for me to get there.
Church activities meant helping Mom in the kitchen, playing with little kids, or listening to old people talk. It also meant I got to help with a lot of cool and fun things, such as craft preparations for the annual bazaar sale at the mall, VBS set up and clean-up, folding bulletins for Dad, bulletin board set-up, and the list goes on....
I think that's why it puzzles me when people say I'm crafty or talented. When I think of talented I think of Michelle Sappington who takes an empty piece of paper and makes it into a beautiful card with scissors and more paper. Her designs are snazzy and mine...well, they're just a bunch of lines.
I think of Dave Mincy, who can look at one note and a letter on a piece of paper and string all the right notes together in a beautiful way. Or else, he'll stop and say, "That's not the chord I want. Let's change it to this." My piano playing will forever sound "Bong, bomp, bomp. Bong, bomp, bomp." in the old fashioned octave-chord-chord method my teachers taught.
I was exposed/required/forced to do a lot of things growing up. I watched ladies who had money to buy whatever they wanted at the grocery store and never use coupons slowly scan the aisles of the Alabama Thrift Store in search of both clothes and knick-knacks to use in projects. A bag of buttons from the Arrow Shirt Factory for 25 cents? Done. That lacy angel given as a gift from someone in their travel group? A pattern. Our first job that ladies night? Wire buttons together to create an angel, a star, or wreath for ornaments to sell. I quickly learned some ladies have unique ideas and inspirations, and the rest of us can simply do by mimicking.
Being the preacher's kid meant staying until EVERYONE left church after every service. I watched old ladies arrange, clean and re-arrange flower arrangements at the front. I'll never have the knack for color they had, and my sense of style will not match everyone else's, but I did learn a few basics in between all my exasperated sighing and whining about being hungry and asking if we could go. Along the way I've also learned there's not much you can't read up on at the library, and now there's a whole world of virtual instruction on youtube. Not everything I attempt is going to turn out right, or pretty, or presentable. But if I don't try I'll never know.
Growing up in a small town with a bunch of old people who grew up during the depression taught me some of that...doing things isn't always a matter of talent. It's more often than not a matter of necessity and the stupidity/willingness to try.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

project updates

Here's a reminder photo from this spring of a project in its beginning stages:
And here's what I've finally finished:

This is the only grapevine I actually completed by decorating. The vine is replacing a clock my grandmother gave me as a wedding present. I've left it up for several years, even though we quit replacing the batteries in it (it was taking two double A batteries every three weeks just for the time...the chime in it required one a week!). It's one of the few things she gave me that she actually bought and didn't give me her leftovers or something she made. So it's a treasure, even if it's not really working. The irony is that she would be the first person to tell me to get rid of it if she were here.

AND...our three day old biddie:No sounds from the other eggs yet. They have until Saturday to make a peep or hatch. I'm hoping our little fuzzball gets at least one playmate.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

colors in creation

Sitting at the kitchen table paying bills, I observed the birds doing their bomb runs around the porch and ramp. (You know, when the birds take off, swoop toward another of their species, then double back.) One of the birds I had never noticed before. From the front it looked a little like the barn swallows that make such a mess on our back porch, but from the side its back was covered in little white dots, much like a fawn. I love it when I find repetition in God's creation. It's as if God is saying, "Yep, I really, REALLY like this pattern so I'll use it again." I know that's probably sacrilegious, but I do think we get our creative juices from God. It makes sense that we would repetitively use patterns we like if our Creator does the same thing. And flying in and out of the wind currents were two of the prettiest blue birds I think I've ever seen. From the green of the grass and the different hued trees, the pale white clouds, the light brown deer, the variations of birds and my dogs with dark spots, Creation has quite the color palette.
Which leads me to another crazy train of thought: is our desire to replicate the beautiful colors around us a desire to be as God (like Lucifer), or is it simply the sincerest form of praise like a child trying to emulate his parent? Personally, I lean toward the latter, as there's nothing more pleasant than seeing beauty, whether it be of God's direct touch or his indirect design via us.

cheepy morning

While jumping through our hoops this morning, we heard the loudest chirping sound. My first thought was the birds' nest on the back porch was the scene of a chirp out, but then I remembered this morning marks the first "no turn day" for the chicken eggs in the incubator. Sure enough, we have a biddie!
It's not the best picture, but I didn't want to open the incubator until it dries. I'll have a little extra work today getting its new space set up and we'll have some future decisions to make about where it's going to live, but for now, I'm just a little excited!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

mhhmmmm

10 Reasons Why I've Only Lost an Inch in Certain Places After a Year of Exercising
  1. Peanut M&Ms
  2. Dr. Pepper
  3. Bread
  4. Reeses Cups
  5. Sweet Tea
  6. Macaroni & Cheese
  7. Rolos
  8. Honey Flavored Peanut Butter
  9. fried foods
  10. STARCHES!!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

clothesline

One of my childhood memories is helping Mom with laundry. On spring days that meant handing her items as she pinned things to the clotheslines. It also meant everyone making a mad dash outside when the unexpected thunderstorm came up to snatch things off the line as quickly as you could, and the next day re-positioning springs in the clothespins. And of course, when the dryer was used, our job was to fold the clothes.

Someone sent me an article link today about the pros and cons of line-drying. They discussed bacteria (the heat from clothes dryers will kill quite a bit whereas line drying does not), wrinkles, environmental issues, and spatial issues. But here's things they didn't mention that I found to be a problem as a child:

  1. Bird poop - There's nothing more disgusting than taking down a "clean" item only to find it marred with bird manure. Or even worse, having it splattered on you as a bird arrives/departs from the tree holding the line.
  2. Pets - Dogs and cats LOVE clotheslines. Cats will shred, bat, roll up in, and otherwise demolish clothes blowing in the breeze. Dogs just bite them and leave holes or tear marks. Granted, they don't like clean clothes as much as dirty ones, but it's still a toy in their minds.
  3. Stiffness - Towels and blue jeans from a clothesline have a stiff feel to them. Being a comfort girl, I adore the extra softness that comes with clothes from a dryer. I never noticed a difference with cotton sheets, but it does make a difference in towels and wash cloths.
  4. Time - Sometimes clothes don't dry quickly. If you have a big family and a lot of clothes to do, the clothesline isn't always the best option in busy weeks.
On the opposite side, here's some advantages they forgot to mention:
  1. Games - Sheets and towels hanging on either side make a great place to hide during games or for pretending.
  2. Funny songs in church - your sister, who is young and hasn't learned to read yet, will think they are singing "Bringing in the sheets" (instead of sheaves), making the old hymn quite funny
  3. Clothespins - Do you know how many hours children can occupy themselves playing with such an item? Of course, today you probably can't buy the wooden ones for fear of splinters and the springs might pinch a finger or two. Who from my generation hasn't used a wooden clothespin in an arts craft?
I don't remember what tv show it was, but there was some lady who moved somewhere uppity where they didn't allow clotheslines. It was supposed to be classless. When the male neighborhood committee came to complain, she started hanging up her unmentionables. We found that quite funny. I find it interesting that something so simple and practical is now "avant garde" and making a comeback. I won't be having one put up anytime soon thanks to our pooches, but I'm certainly not opposed to them!

Monday, July 12, 2010

the balancing act

Next to ironing, the chore I dislike the most is balancing the checkbook. It aggravates me to no end to spend all that time and still only be off. Sometimes the amount is massive; other times it's only a few cents. But either way, it's not balanced. And I don't like that.

Steve Amerson's recent promotional e-mail also included a devotion with the promotion. He started off talking about balancing a checkbook. He ended with reconciliation.

The following sentences really struck me:
The act of reconciliation not only acknowledges mistakes, but corrects them. Reconciliation cannot happen as long as the mistake is not acknowledged. The means of correction (or forgiveness) can be available or already accomplished, but if it is not accepted, reconciliation will not be experienced.

It's an interesting parallel. We never balance our checkbook until we find the problem and correct it; we never have reconciliation with a brother and sister until we find the problem and correct it. Bobby and I used to somewhat laugh about two young children who loved rules...as long as they applied to everyone else. They never wanted the rules to be enforced on them, though. And I sadly often find that to be the case with me. I want the rules to apply, until the correction applies to me. Then I want only mercy. How childlike is that? And like the quote above, until I admit my mistakes, reconciliation will never happen. There will never be a balance.

I hate it when something I intensely dislike doing becomes a spiritual application.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

one little herron

We commonly have blue (or grey) herons at the pond. Every strange once in a while we'll see a white one. But yesterday evening as Bobby was preparing to feed the animals before church, he called me to the window.

There was one white heron, sitting on the pier...

calling to the second which was in the water near.

Then there was third one, flapping wings so white and wide,

Followed by a fourth bird who struts so full of pride.

Then came the FIFTH one, searching for some fish,

or perhaps a resting place, for soon there were SIX!

SEVEN white herons, preening on the pier,

Then EIGHT on the pier with a neighbor somewhat near!

Before camera batteries finally died, we had TEN white herons on our pond side!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

shocking

If I entered over 50 countries in this world today and lived life as I know it, I would be a criminal.
That's a very sobering thought.
The newspaper had an article about Christians in Indonesia this past week, and how they are being slaughtered in certain cities because of the mass baptisms they had. Almost every year, a few months after the Family Fun Fest, our church has a baptism service celebrating the new believers. Can you imagine if one week after that baptism service took place, over half of the people who attended were dead, and the other half severely injured?
During our Patriotic Service Sunday, our pastor prayed for the leaders of our country, for God to be with them, and for them to have their eyes opened to who God truly is. Can you imagine the horror if this week we had the police behind the pulpit, Pastor Mike in prison with visitation rights from family and lawyer denied, his family kicked out of their home and suddenly without income?
Such things sound absolutely crazy, and yet they happen weekly all over the world.

I implore you to pray for such believers today, specifically for one certain pastor and his family:
  • that the government officials would miraculously release him from prison soon
  • that his wife and lawyer would be able to see him
  • that God would give him favor with prison officials
  • that his faith would remain strong
  • that his 15 year old son would not remain bitter and would come to find the "Peace that passes understanding"
  • that God would miraculously provide for the family's needs
  • that God would not cause this family to lose favor in society
  • that the shining light this family has maintained will draw even more believers to the Light of the World
I don't understand. I live in the land of plenty, the land of freedom, and the land of opportunity. And folks who do the exact same things I do, with half the resources and time, go to jail for it.

Oh, Lord, please forgive me for my complaining, when so many of brothers and sisters around the world are suffering so badly.

www.persecutedchurch.org

Sunday, July 4, 2010

4th of July weekend celebrations

Friday evening we stopped by one of my many favorite stores, Michaels, to search for flowers and decorations for church. We ended up not getting any flowers. My "pardner" informed me that every shade of blue I picked out was actually purple, and my contemplations of just red and white flowers was turning out to be entirely way too expensive. So we left with one item.

Saturday morning found us at the Cleveland Parade, supporting the hard-working CBC float crew.





And like all good southern parades, there were tractors, antique cars, fire trucks, a marching band, and politicians. I couldn't help but laugh at some of the people behind me who decided whom they wouldn't vote for come November based on the "no candy" factor or the "skimpy on the candy" factor. I guess there's more than one way to educate an electorate!
After getting my cheeks and shoulders burned at the afternoon family reunion, we returned to the Cleveland area to help canvas and watch the fireworks. The teens were hard at work with the Gospel bracelets (MANY questions from young children, several intently listening adults, and one profession of faith!) and the free face painting line extended quite a ways out. The teens were present en masse, so there really wasn't any canvassing left to do. As a matter of fact, our teens did such a great job that people were getting aggravated for being an offered a flyer by so many yellow shirt people! The weather was nice, the fireworks were pretty, and someone whose name I won't mention got their face painted for the first time ever.Sunday was church, full of a very convicting sermon, followed by lunch with visiting family and the afternoon/evening of playing games with nieces and nephews that we don't get to see very often. They'll be visiting for this whole week, so we'll be getting in a whole lot of "Aunt Monica" time.
Crazy me was thinking after this weekend, July was going to be a somewhat calm month, but my calendar is filling up faster than I ever dreamed it would. Guess that's appropriate for a month known for firecrackers.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

produce and time

The tomatoes have started coming in, which is exciting, and also a little draining. That means every 2-3 days I'll have a job for a couple of hours cutting, packing, and canning tomatoes. I've found that canning, like housework and fishing and animal care and monopoly, has a certain set of rules, and for every person that set is slightly different. So I read the "official" canning book, then modified it to suit my set-up. And I'm breaking from the quart-sized tradition that our families have always done to pint-sized jars since there's only two of us in the house. No point in making a pot of soup or chili that lasts for a week and a half when I can downsize. I don't know why I've gotten on this "simplify and downsize" kick the last week, but it seems that is frequently on the brain these days.
So what's filling your summer days?