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Monday, November 28, 2011

Cry Out

Lately, it seems God is taking me on a journey.  A journey of learning empathy for others - to feel their pain as if it is my own.  It's a different journey as I've always thought of myself as a compassionate person - yet - I can't say in the past I've always been able to cry with people.  Crying - well - it's just not my thing.


Today I was talking to another lady at bible study - we're pretty much in the same stage in life.  Both of our girls went off to college.  Both of us have great relationships with our daughters.  Both of us are left with boy(s) at home, right around the same age.  The testosterone in our homes if flying - I don't see her and her daughter as any more "girly" than Elyse and I - there is - well - something missing about not having our girls in the home.

When Elyse came home this week, she came into my bedroom to find me crying.  It had been a long night and I was weepy.  As my friend and I said - having our oldest off to college has turned us into overly-sensitive crying nut jobs which really wasn't part of either of our personalities prior to this experience.  I happen to know one other lady who is equally in the same stage of life and Sunday morning all it took was mentioning the kids going back to college and her eyes filled with tears.

Aye.  WHY did NO ONE inform us this stage of life would suck stink so much??? 

Wow am I getting off track here.

Back to my point.  Having my oldest off to college and having some close family and friends going through some tough points in life is teaching me a few things.  In bible study today, Beth Moore drove it home.

She said when you stop having troubles, you cease to be effective in ministry.  She pointed out repeatedly how we all have troubles in life - even those whom you think have it all together.  She warned against pride when you think how glad you are to not be as bad off as someone else or you would "NEVER have their problems!"  (Yes, I'm guilty of thinking that!)

Never have I had so much trouble putting a post together before! Too many thoughts all cramming into a very small space called my brain!!
The point is this.  I've sat with some very dear people recently and listened to their hearts.  Sat and listened to prayer requests that would totally rock my world if it were my grief to bear.  Never before have I found tears running down my eyes and gut wrenching sobs pouring out of me when I get out of sight.  Never.  It's not me!  I honestly have wondered if I've hit some kind of depression or something because let me tell you - this woman is a ROCK.

But the rock is crumbling and I don't know that it's all so bad.  It hurts, it leaves me feeling vulnerable, it leaves me very much afraid of things going wrong in my own life - yet - yet in the midst of all of that - I realize God is softening me.  Slowly but surely chipping away at my wall  rock and allowing me to really turn to Him in prayer for others.  Not my typical "oh God, please help so and so as they deal with such and such" - just flying through, glad it ain't me, glad I didn't make those "stupid" choices to put me in that spot - prayers that were anything but heartfelt - but crying out to Jesus for others.  Literally.  No pride, no judgement, no condemnation - just calling out to the one who has all the answers that I don't.

Let me leave you with this song and an apology.  An apology because this post was rough, I know.  The song - because I love it and maybe you will too.  It's called Cry Out to Jesus and it's by Third Day

Tree ideas

So - this year my beautiful daughter wanted to pick up a little fake tree for her dorm room.  We went to Walmart and much to my surprise, she picked out a white tree with lights :)  She didn't realize how "in" she was I don't think because I came home and found THIS website and fell in love with several of the ideas.  Now I'm thinking I might have to add a white tree of my own to the front room.  I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

And another one bites the dust

And another one's gone, and another one's gone, and another one bites the dust.  That was for all my 80's friends out there.  Back when there was good music to listen to on the radio.  Just kidding, just kidding!!

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone.  This new phase in life is so strange.  Dropped off our oldest at the airport today along with a lot of other college parents - all looking like they stayed up too late and all wiping away the tears as they walked away.  The kids, who look like babies I might add, happily trotted off to their new lives without us :(  Sigh!!  I don't know what part of me thought I would find this stage in life new and exciting.  Somewhere along the line I got this mistaken belief that as the kids moved successfully on with their lives, I would stop worrying, I would suddenly find time for all the things I never got to do, never got to be because I dedicated my life to them.  To put it bluntly - that was stupid thinking.  I worry more now than ever, I don't have time to do anything because I'm working my butt off to pay for the college bill - totally not what I had in mind.  I was thinking more along the lines of cruises to the Caribbean, smoothies under palm trees - that sort of thing.  Okay, so maybe that was a bit unrealistic - but it truly is what I thought would happen when the kids began their lives without me lol!!

Anywho - we enjoyed our time with our oldest and the only thing keeping me together is the fact that my favorite holiday is fast approaching and it's only 18 days until I see said child again!  Plus I'm counting on Publisher's to come through as a Christmas present to me so I can pay that college bill and enjoy the palm trees like I said.  Yep - about as realistic as my expectations for when the kids jogged off to their new lives :)

I'll get some pics up for you soon.  I didn't take many. WHAT was I THINKING??  We ate a whole lot of turkey starting with a Thanksgiving with my family, followed by our Thanksgiving and the kiddos got to enjoy Thanksgiving feast at church as well.  I do love turkey - but admittedly - I'm sick of it.  Today I think I'm going to make ziti with some of the venison we just picked up from the butcher from Jon's first hunting season success.  Shhh, don't tell anyone - curious if anyone notices.  Never had it myself so I'm curious if I notice!

I trust you had a great Thanksgiving celebrating with family and friends.  It seems to have come and gone so quickly this year.  Now on to decorating the house for CHRISTmas - can't wait!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Why is peace so hard to find?

I'm not sure how to title this post, so let's just get started and see where this takes us.

In the past couple of months, I've found a lot of friends who are really struggling in life.  Not little struggles - but big struggles.  Facing big issues, finding little hope.  I'm an answer kind of girl - wish I had all of them.  I like to "fix" things - make them better for people.  I don't like to see people suffering.

I listen, sometimes I try to offer the best advice I know.  I try, all the time, to point them to the one who does have all the answers.  Yet, sometimes, the "Christianise" seems to fall so far short.  All the right answers don't seem like enough.  I know - I've been there.

I know someone who has suffered a horrible loss in her life in the past year or so.  I've watched her from a distance as she has handled something I just don't think I could face - the loss of a spouse.  What I find most "intriguing" - if you could call it that - is her peace. I honestly don't know how she does it.  Every time I read her posts on Facebook, I find myself crying.  I often find myself thinking of her, praying for her, at odd moments of the day.  I'm so impressed by how she has walked what I know has been a difficult road.  Her pain is so clear - but her peace shouts above the pain.

I don't understand God sometimes.  Right now, I can think of 4 specific people who need a touch from God.  Not a small touch but a blow me over, fall on my face, overwhelming kind of touch. I know most of them have been crying out to God, asking for that touch - yet God - seems silent.

I have questions for God when I get to heaven.  Things I don't understand.  Why do people have to suffer?  Why do children get hurt?  Why do people get cancer?  I know all the "answers" of course - the sinful nature, the fall of man, Jesus suffered - I know.  But that offers so little hope - so little peace - to people who don't really know Him or who have forgotten what the touch of the Master feels like.

I struggle with this.  Struggle with the pain of others - struggle with my own pain.  There are times I feel the weight of this world resting quite heavily on my shoulders.  Times I forget what it means to truly be happy.  I'll be honest in that - it's an off and on struggle in my life - to find joy despite circumstances.

My friend I spoke of above - she seems to be finding those moments.  Those moments that despite her pain, she sees the smile of God.  Those moments where the peace that truly does pass all understanding finds her.  She's an example to me even though she doesn't know I'm watching.  I want to find that faith somehow - not just for me - but for those who come to me and cry on my shoulder.  I want to send them directly to the man who, although I don't understand His ways - I know He hears their cries.  I know He has all the answers if only they would bend their knee to Him.  But that doesn't mean there are easy answers either.  Just because we trust in Him doesn't mean people won't die, children won't suffer, pain won't be in our lives - but I want them to find the peace I see in my friend despite their circumstances.  And - to be honest - I want to find it too - in the small moments in my life when I find myself overwhelmed.

So - I guess this was a little bit of a depressing post.  Pray for those people I am speaking of in this post.  They need the peace a touch from God.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!

So I know I fell far short on the Giving Thanks posts.  I apologize - I was out of town so much and unable to post that I just fell off the bandwagon!

Anyway - it's Thanksgiving, my baby is home from college, we've had lots of family time and we had some really yummy food!  I'll have to post some pics later but at this point, I'm too lazy (and too full) to go find my camera and plug to put the pics up!

I'm struggling to find words today.  Not sure if this is a hormonal thing (sorry, but true!), the fact that everyone is home and that's not our normal status or not or what - but today I've spent a lot of time reflecting.

It's been a very. difficult. fall.  I'm still trying to figure out who I am with my oldest off to college.  The "shock" of it all has worn off and it's not "difficult" like it was for the first month - but yet - I find myself feeling a bit lost.  She is doing well which has helped me to adjust but it's still just weird.  Weird last night when she was out with her friends and for the first time - she's 18.  We didn't set a curfew, we didn't bug her about where she was going, we didn't ask for details.  Please hear that this is a trustworthy kid and has never given us reason to doubt - but it was a sad night for me.  Another part of letting go.

The changes have been big.  Little man is doing well at his new school but it has not been an easy transition in every way.  I'm not going to go into detail here because my little man is far more private than most and wouldn't appreciate me putting everything here so let's just leave it at this.  It has been a big adjustment for all of us. 

I've been working as close to full time as I can get.  I don't mean to be a complainer, but I feel like most nights I get home, make dinner and fall into bed.  I feel like there has been a lot of tears, a lot of time on my knees but not a lot of fun or laughter.  Nothing major wrong - but yet a thick heaviness  has hung over our family for a couple of months now.

Today I find myself thankful for just the simple things.  Two healthy children.  A man who loves me.  Food on the table.  Dogs fighting over the turkey bones.  A warm house and a comfy bed.  Just thankful to make it through another day on my feet if that makes any sense at all.

Like I said - maybe this is a hormonal Thanksgiving post and next week I'll be feeling a little bit more chipper :)  Honestly I just need a happy touch from Jesus.  Something more than the dreariness of the next day.

Okay, enough.  I hope you are all having a terrific Thanksgiving, despite the sad loss by the Detroit Lions :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Give Thanks, Day 14

Today I am thankful for my country.  I am thankful for the men and women who serve so faithfully.  I'm thankful for their families who sacrifice so that my family can be safe.  I'm thankful that we live in a country where we can all have our opinions and express them freely. I'm thankful for a country in which I can worship my God without fear.  I am thankful that here I can find work to provide for my family.  I am thankful for so many things this great country represents.  Sometimes we may appear divided - but as 9/11 proved - push - and we push back harder - together.  United we do stand even though we don't always agree.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Give Thanks - Day 13

This is getting tougher as we go along.  Not tough to pick out things I'm thankful for - but tough to be original, not cliche, and to think outside of the box!

So yesterday we got to head back to Grand Rapids to watch a soccer game.  Marty's college coach is still coaching (at a different college) and put out a general invite to all his former players, friends and family to come watch his team in the WHAC conference finals.  I think the last time we connected in person with coach was a good 10 years ago.  So, back to our old stomping grounds we went.

Which leads me to this.  I am thankful for Grand Rapids.  I'm thankful for the college, for the hospitals that I birthed my children in, I'm thankful for lasting friendships.  I'm thankful for the men and women who influenced my life and my husbands life (like Coach Veal and his family).  I'm thankful for the beauty of the city and no matter where we live - nothing has ever compared to the west side of the state.  I'm thankful for happy memories, for the laughter that so encompassed my life at that time.  I'm thankful for Negasi and Emily and although we didn't get to see them this time around - I will forever be grateful for the day Marty found Negasi sitting at the soccer field at Union High School.  I'm thankful for that time in my life where everything was fresh and new.  So many good memories there, too many to count.  I'm thankful for the fact that although many things in life change - the relationships with friends (like Keith and Sarah, Donnie and Sarah W and others!) we made there only grow stronger in the Lord.

Grand Rapids always feels like home when I go back.  Yes, it has changed, it has grown and many places look nothing like they did when we were there - but there is something almost magical in my mind about the place we once called home.  It is a place I could pick up and move back to at any moment in my life and be able to settle right back in where we left off.  I miss it and I think I always will.
Cornerstone Goose Pond behind my dorm :)  FULL of goose poop - and Marty got thrown in as part of a tradition called candlelight the night we were engaged :)


 Downtown GR - beautiful city

 Marty's college Coach Joe Veal and his beautiful wife Sylvia

College buddies Keith and Sarah Knapp - love these guys!

Negasi and Emily and their son - miss these guys so very much :(

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Give Thanks - Day 12

Day 12 of giving thanks!  Up until yesterday, this was easy.  Now I can think of things I'm thankful for - yet they sound shallow and materialistic.  I'm thankful for my house, for my food, for my camera, for a warm bed, Yankee candles - you know - stuff like that.

But I wanted this to be about more - not just the simple or easy things to be thankful for.  I wanted to dig deeper and figure out what is in my life that is worth more than all the surfacy stuff.  The deep blessings Jesus gives. 

So - what will it be today?  What am I thankful for today?

Today - I'm thankful for difficult times.  The bible says to give thanks - in everything - right?  Everything?  Everything. 

It's those tough times that drive me to my knees.  It is when I am at the end of myself that I remember I need Jesus.  I don't think I would be half the person today if not for the times when life threw me on my face.

I'm thankful for the tough people - those who I have had to restrain myself, quite literally, at times, from smacking their faces off.  (lol - yes, I did just say that!!).  Thankful that those people made me work on my patience, made me turn to God for justice instead of taking matters into my own hands.  Those people helped chisel off some rough edges.  Remind me I said this next time I'm dealing with a tough person :)

I'm thankful for tough choices.  I'm thankful for financial hardships because I have seen the hand of God in them.  I'm thankful for the times I've wanted for something materialistic I just could not have because they showed me what was truly important in life.  I'm thankful that I am still growing in this area - it's a battle and it will always be a battle - but I am thankful that in the battle, I am growing, bit by bit, piece by piece.

I'm thankful that the hand of God always wipes away my tears.  I'm thankful that His loves is big enough to cover all my sin.  I'm thankful that even when tough times drive me to my knees and I am angry at Him for them - I'm thankful that He is big enough to handle my anger.  I'm thankful when I cry out to him and the answer is not what I want to hear - He still walks me through the darkness.

What about you - what difficult things are you thankful for?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Shout Out!

Yep, this is post numero three today!  Sick and sitting at the computer, can you tell??

Anywho - quick shout out here to another amazing blogger - my daughter :)  If you don't follow her, you should.  She's a good writer and she's beautiful and amazing and smart and talented and loves Jesus and.. and a lot of things.  She makes us so very proud.  If you'd like to hop over and check out her blog, I know you will be blessed by it.  Here you go:

MI to MN:  A journey of watching dreams come true

I'm running to your arms

This song has been running through my head all day.  I've "sang" (as best as one can sing with a white throat from strep!) this today, proclaiming it over my house, over my child, over my life.  It's so easy to lose focus when the devil throws crap your way.  It's so easy to forget whom we serve, to forget His love, to forget His power.  It's so easy to get sidetracked.  So easy to let the devil smack you around and remember you should be the one doing the smacking.  I'm not there yet, but I'm determined to be there by the time the boys get home from school.  Here's the lyrics, and then the You Tube video.  I hope it speaks to you the way it's speaking to me today.

You are good, You are good
When there's nothing good in me.

You are love, You are love,
on display for all to see.

You are light, You are light,
When the darkness closes in.

You are hope, You are hope,
You have covered all my sin.

You are peace, You are peace,
When my fear is crippling.

You are true, You are true,
Even in my wandering.

You are joy, You are joy,
You're the reason I sing.

You are life, You are life,
In you death has lost it's sting.

Oh, I'm running to your arms,
I'm running to your arms.
The riches of your love,
Will always be enough
Nothing compares to your embrace
Light of the world, Forever Reign

You are more, You are more
Than my words will ever say

You are Lord, You are Lord,
All creation will proclaim.

You are here, You are here,
In your presence I'm made whole

You are God, You are God
Of all else I'm letting go

Give Thanks - Day 11

Can I be honest?

Today is a day - I don't feel like giving thanks.  It has been a very long week.  We have had some big time struggles in our family.  I'm sick, Jon's sick.  Not much to be thankful for this week. 

However :)

Today, I am thankful for Godly friends who lift up my arms and hold me up when I am too weak to do that on my own.  This week, especially, I am thankful for two friends who have been an encouragement to me - who have kept my eyes focused on Jesus and not on my problems.  Two friends who love our family and love my kids.  Two friends who I can always be honest with and who don't look at us any differently - in fact - who do nothing but tell us what a great job we are doing.  I am oh so grateful for their friendships - especially in this week.  I know both of them would do anything within their power for our family and both have done so at different points in our lives and in different ways.

So - today - I'd like to send a shout out to my friends Lois and Aaron.  You guys have kept me going this week.  I don't admit my weaknesses, talk about my struggles, share my heartaches with just anyone.  In fact, I'm a pretty private person and today I want to publicly thank you both for allowing me to be - me.  You don't judge me, you don't judge our family - you just love on us, pray for us, lift us up.  Thank you so much.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me through this tough week!  What would I do without both of you??

Proverbs 17:7 - A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Proverbs 27:9  - The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.

A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.

Friends are God's way of taking care of us.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Give Thanks - Day 10

Today I am thankful for Christian Universities.  I'm thankful for Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, MI where I met the 2 most important men in my life.  Yes - 2 :)  Jesus AND my husband.  Now THAT is a terrific college!!  Funnest years of my life.  Great times!  Still have some amazing Godly friends from Cornerstone.  I had no idea the friends I made there would be friends forever - and I am so thankful for them.  I'm thinking today of Sarah and Keith Knapp, of Don Leach, of Sarah Wright.  Jeanna, Amy - too many to count!  So thankful for all of you.  I wish we all lived close enough to hang out, play soccer, climb the rooftops of any building, go to our kids games, pray together, serve Jesus together.  Thankful for all of you today!

Equally thankful for the newest Christian University in our lives - North Central in Minneapolis, MN.  Yes, much like Cornerstone, North Central may just break the bank - HOWEVER - it's worth EVERY penny spent.  To see my daughter grow in the Lord every single time I speak with her - well there is no price tag on that.  I'm thankful for the professors, for the dorm people, for the other students - for everyone who is now involved in her life from North Central that are helping her along on her journey.  Thank you North Central University for being committed to teaching young people how to be passionate in their walk with Jesus, for pouring the word of God in and over their lives, for praying, for seeking, for challenging.  We are so grateful to all of you.

Christian Universities - the place to be!!

Pickett Hall - my dorm for my sophomore and junior year.  The place where I had my worst RA who was always trying to bust me.  The place where all the girls ran to the windows to check out the dark Brazilian hot guy walking past the dorm after soccer practice (my husband - who is Mexican and not Brazilian and, much like my daughter, when all the girls would run to the window, I would roll my eyes and say WHATEVER! - But, secretly, I was watching him walk past the window as well and NOW I would DEFINITELY run to the window to watch him walk by :) ).  The place where above mentioned Sarah W. and I snuck in and out of her first floor window on several occasions (okay, so MAYBE the RA was right in always trying to bust me - but she never succeeded!) - The place where I had my candlelight when Marty proposed.  Such good times and good memories!!

E's college experience!  It seems like such a short time ago when it was us - and now it's her.  I pray she has an even better time than we did.  She's already making wiser and more Godly choices than we ever did.  So proud of her :)

Touch my heart

This past fall, we began coaching a Special Olympics team.  I've shared with you some of the funnies and some of the things that have touched my heart.  I can't believe we did this - but last night was the team pizza party - and Marty and I TOTALLY forgot about it and never showed up.  There are 2 other coaches thankfully but I just can't believe we did this.

Special Olympics has lead me to do something else new in my life and that was to switch from being a general ed substitute to a special ed substitute.  I've been very busy, getting several calls a day which is a good, good thing.  Today I woke up sick and ended up at the Dr. - I have strep throat so I'll be off for the rest of this week.

Anyway - teaching in a special education classroom is an entirely different animal than teaching in the regular ed classroom. I'm not going to share with you names here, nor districts, nor schools, nor any identifying information as that would totally break all confidentiality laws as well as just being stupid on my part.

It requires patience.  A lot of patience.  You will be argued with, you will most likely get hit to some degree at some point, your hair will be pulled, you will be defied, screamed at.  This observation has been made in a week from what I've already witnessed and from stories other teachers have shared with me.  You must keep in mind these children can not help it - and that's obvious the moment you meet them.  It's as if some of them are locked somewhere far away in their minds and reality is just not the place they want to be.

It's sad.  Incredibly sad.  In all honesty - I have left the building crying every single day this past week.  Asking God why.  Why do children have to suffer?  I have prayed over every one of them silently, asking for complete healing and for strength on their journey.  I have prayed for their parents because I can not imagine how difficult it must be for them - in so many ways.  It must be exhausted - physically, emotionally.

There is so much to learn and the teachers are overwhelmed. So many needs to be meet.  One of the classrooms I was in had 13, another 9 - 3 teachers in each of the classrooms.  You would think that would be enough,  Reality is, it doesn't touch the surface.  Not even close.  Their learning issues vary greatly - some with very minor issues, some unable to communicate - as I said - locked away somewhere in their own minds.  One of the young people I met this past week has just begun to communicate.  He's 10 years old.

Every day when I get in the car and drive home, crying - I think to myself  "you don't have to do this."  But, I do.  I do because I believe in keeping things real.  I believe in reaching where it hurts.  I believe putting ourselves in uncomfortable and difficult situations shows us the heart of God.  I'm no one special - trust me - but I believe doing things like this is what God would do.  I want to touch the world the way He does - and in the process, keep my heart broken for this world.  If it's hard - that's good.  In the hard places, we see the greatest moves of God.

Touch my heart oh God so I can touch others for You.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Give Thanks - Day 9

Day 9 of give thanks!  We're cruising right along, aren't we??

Today - I want to give a shout out to my Mom.  This past fall, I got to go spend a few days alone with her.  We haven't had that opportunity in years.  I was able to take some beautiful pictures of her.  Pray for my Mom, will you - she needs your prayers!  Anywho - let me share with you those pics and you can see for yourself what a beautiful Mom I have :)  Thanks Mom for everything over the years - for being an incredible Grandma to my kids, for being my Mom, for just being who you are.  I love you :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Give Thanks - Day 8

Today's thanks might sound a little strange to some of you.  I am thankful for my past, which you can read about here.  I know it might seem odd to be thankful for something like that - but I am - because that shaped who I am today.  Recently I had the privilege and honor along with my husband to share with a group of college students pursuing their Bachelor's Degree in social work about The Daughter Project.  We began by telling them the reason we decided to sign up for it in the first place.  First we shared about a book we read, and then we shared why our hearts are geared in that direction - and I got to share a little bit of my testimony.  It's the first time in, oh, 15 years at least, that I have shared publicly in a group setting, any of my testimony.  The opportunity doesn't come up much - but when it does - I am happy to do it.  I'll have another chance to share with high school students at the end of this school year, Lord willing, and I am excited about that as well.  Anyway - after the presentation, a woman came up and shared with me her story and for the first time, I got to see in person how telling others helps them as well. 

If the stats are correct, 1 in ever 3 women are sexually violated in some way in their lifetime - which means in a class that size - this woman and myself were not alone.  Most of us don't talk about it - we shove it in the deep dark recesses of our minds where we feel it belongs - where it can't hurt us.  We feel shame, we feel guilt, heck, we don't know what we feel but we feel the need to keep silent.  I choose to bring to the light the dark hidden places so that others can find the healing power of Jesus Christ in my story. 

What about you? What's your story?  What about your past has shaped you today - even the difficult stuff - that you are thankful for?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Give Thanks - Day 7

Today I am thankful for a job.  No, it hasn't been much this year and I've barely worked - but I am still thankful for it.  Without a college degree, substitute teaching is something I can do, get paid well, and still have a flexible schedule for my children.  I am praying the jobs increase and I can start working at least 3 days a week.  God knows what we need financially and I'm counting on His faithfulness.  I'm also thankful that my husband has a steady job.  Yes, we've taken some huge hits in the past two years with pay cuts, pay freezes, having to pay for insurance - but it is still a steady job, it's reliable, and he gets to take lots of time off to be with his family over the summer and holidays.  I'm thankful for the various jobs God has provided along the way as "fillers" - coaching, summer school, etc.  I'm thankful for the "filler" jobs that are still to come to keep moving us along financially.  I'm thankful for healthy bodies that allow us to work these jobs and for creative minds to keep us good at them :)  Anyone else today thankful for a job??

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Give Thanks - Day 6

I know this one is going to be a bit strange - well - maybe to some of you - my kids especially - but there is something I am thankful for that I never ever thought I would be thankful for.  My dog - lol!!  I really love this ugly mutt.  She truly does have a face that only a mother could love! She's the best dog we have ever had.  If I had realized I was a small dog person - I would not have wasted years getting bigger dogs that always proved to be too much for me.  So - enjoy some pics of my adorable Kiwi - love this little thing ;)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

This is for you Dad

Not my Dad - but Dad's out there - and especially my husband - who is the best dad in the entire world to our kids.

Found on my daughter's tumblr page:

I wanna go back to the generation where "going out" was going on a date, not immediately being "BF/GF". I wanna go back to the generation when a guy had to get permission from the girl's Dad to ask her out. I wanna go back to the generation where a guy would physically call her and talk to her, not text. I wanna go back to the generation where your first kiss would be with someone you've been dating for months, not hookup with a guy you meet in a club. I wanna go back to the generation where a guy would give you his varsity jacket. I wanna go back to the generation where a girl can get any guy just by wearing a t-shirt, jeans and a pair of sneakers. I wanna go back to the generation where couples slow danced, not grind. I wanna go back to the generation where love actually makes sense....

And on the bottom - a note from my daughter which says:
Any guy that wants to date me needs to know this is exactly what our relationship is going to look like. ESPECIALLY the asking Dad part. I mean it.

Do a good job - love your daughter - teach her what a real man looks like by loving her Mom, loving her and being a good Daddy - and these are the types of things your daughter will say when she is 18.

Give Thanks - Day Five

Day Five has arrived of our 30 day challenge.  This is about the point I give up on the challenges - run out of things to say or whatnot.  However - giving thanks - I believe is scriptural.  Let's go over some verses on being thankful, shall we??

I Chronicles 16:8 - Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done.

Psalm 7:17 - I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness; I will sing praises of the name of the God most high.

I love these verses.  Give Praise!  Proclaim!  Make known to the NATIONS!  Sing praise!  AWESOME!  We really should give thanks no matter what time of year it is - but since we have a holiday specifically geared to giving thanks - it gives us a good reason to shout His praise.

So - on this day - Day 5 of our Being Thankful Challenge - I would like to give praise to the God most high.  To thank Him for the many blessings He has given me in my life.  For His rescue, for His salvation, for His sacrifice, for His great love, for His continued protection in my life and in the lives of my family, for all of the things He has given me that I just don't deserve.  He truly is an amazing God!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Give Thanks - Day Four

Now that I've told you about the three most important people in my life - let's switch gears a little bit.  I'm thankful for scripture - for the word of God.  I'm thankful that I have something physical to read, to soak in, to turn to in times of trouble.  So much of faith is just that - faith - nothing you can see with your physical eyes or touch with your physical hands - but the word - we always have the word.  God wrote it for us - for you - for me.  For instruction, for guidance, for comfort, for encouragement, for discipline, for correction.  The word sustains, breathes life, holds us up in difficult times.  I am so thankful for the word of God.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Burlap Thanksgiving Tablecloth

I almost titled this post "Success and Failure" with the emphasis on "Failure" but decided I would use this as a learning opportunity - for those of you who attempt this project.  Maybe in my failures - you will find YOUR success!!  I'm not much of a crafter honestly.  I should probably be happy it turned out the way it did because although it was a disaster, it was not a total disaster!

So - I thought it would be fun to make this:

It's so elegant - I love the words, the corn - the simplicity - of this.

I went to Hobby Lobby and got myself some burlap - but decided I liked the darker color better.  That, my friends, was my first mistake.  My second mistake was the costly one.  I didn't think I could write as elegantly as the person above.  I DO like my handwriting but I thought what this person did looked trickier than what I could do.  I spent a while browsing Hobby Lobby trying to think of alternatives.  Stencils and paint?  (Would have been a better option if I could have found stencils I liked)  Time consuming.  What I settled on was iron on transfers.  Then I could download pretty handwriting, print it onto the transfers and wa-la - right?  Wrong.

So lets go step by step here.

1.  Purchase Burlap.  I purchased 2 yards. It was 3.99 a yard at Hobby Lobby. In hindsight - that wasn't enough.  Not enough to do a big drappy hangover like the one above.  I can't sew - don't even have a thread and needle so I needed to make this work WITHOUT any sewing involved.  Either I need a smaller table or more fabric - but it'll do for this year.  Here's what my burlap looked like on my table before I began messing with it (should have just left it like this!!):

2.  Purchase Iron on transfer paper like this.  Note - you can get it for light background (8.99 for 8 sheets) or dark background (8.99 for 5 sheets - Hobby Lobby).  Now - I didn't know what to go with so I went with the light background kind.  You will see why this was a problem in a moment.  Then again - the dark may have been an issue as well.

3.  Go to your computer.  Choose your favorite font, and type your saying/quote/verse/words into Word.  Now - let's note something here.  You have to be able to mirror the image (text) for an iron on transfer.  My Word version does not do that, nor does my printer options.  So - my next thing was to type it into Word and then copy and paste them into Photoshop Elements.  In Photoshop Elements, I clicked on "image" and then "rotate" and then "flip horizontally".  Then I printed them onto the transfer paper - checking to make sure the setting was on landscape and not on portrait and that the paper was in correctly.  Here's what I ended up with:  (Note my computer was, of course, running out of ink.  However - it ended up creating a cool color effect.)

4.  Next - I placed them around the table to get an idea of where I wanted them.  So far, so good, right?  Just wait - things are about to fall apart....

5.  Now - they say to trim them down.  They say within 1/4 inch.  Obviously, I have no clue what a 1/4 inch is - or I just wasn't paying attention.  There is REALLY good reason for this rule.  But - wait - I'm jumping ahead of myself sorta.  The next thing I did was cut them down and "pin" them to the tablecloth - again - to check spacing, get a feel for what I was doing.  It looked like this: (please note the lack of trimming - it's uber important)

6.  I did do a tiny bit of really lax measuring just to try to get them semi positioned correctly.  Next - took the iron, set on 4, flipped these over so the letters were facing down (and in the correct direction) and ended up with this - where you will note the problem:  (when they say trim - they mean trim)

7.  Of course, I failed to remember to trim the words on both ends of the table - but - hey, at least I trimmed on the side words., and the ends of the table "match" even though not in a good way!!  Here's how much I trimmed the side words:

8.  Now - the iron on thing - did not work so great everywhere.  In fact - I had a really difficult time peeling it all off and have several spots where letters are messed up.  Killing my perfectionist personality.  I have told the family if anyone even THINKS of putting anything on this tablecloth and getting it dirty - someone is going to be maimed :)  The reason for that is - the lettering is not secure and I highly doubt this sucker will survive a wash - meaning it has to last 'till the big turkey day OR ELSE!!  Here's the final result:

 See how the "P" of Pumpkin is already coming up and the "e" in pie is messed up?  Grrrrr....
 Note the dog and the mess in the middle of it all...
Forgot to fringe this side - will get to that later.... 

9.  That last picture looks nothing like the very first.  Not what I had in mind - but it will do.  The corn thing is not quite finished yet - need to trim the top, fluff it, and straighten it - but it gives you a general idea.  It's 9 cobs of corn (??) tied together with rubber bands, then string, and finally the gold ribbon.  If you remember in a previous post, I mentioned I wanted to do the candles.  I have since nixed the idea - too much money and work and after this didn't work out - I have run out of oomph to do anything else.  My alternative, which you will have to wait 'till Thanksgiving to see, is that I bought 10 tiny pumpkins (for 1.00 I might add from my neighborhood pumpkin farm! - 10/1.00!!) and 10 votives.  I'm going to carve a little spot in the pumpkins to put the votives and that will be my candles.  Also have some gourds and fake leaves to spread around the table - but all that will wait 'till turkey day.  If I do it now, the pumpkins will rot before the big day.

So my friends - that's it.  It does not look like the original - but it's something.  I spent more than I wanted to but still ended up under 20.00.  Hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and your tablecloth will look just like you dream!  If you end up making one - let me know and I'll link you into this post so others can see you creative works!  (and I would like to see what you do for the future!!)
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