Sunday, January 1, 2006

Makes Me Do a Happy Dance

Things that make me want to break out the jazz hands -- if only in my mind.

Traveling, family and friends:

This poem:

October's Bright Blue Weather

O SUNS and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October's bright blue weather;

When loud the bumble-bee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And Golden-Rod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When Gentians roll their fringes tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields, still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October's bright blue weather.

O suns and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October's bright blue weather.

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)

Flower pins.

People who can make a left or right hand turn without hitting the breaks 85 million times.
Mini coffee travel mugs that hold just the right amount of joe.

Sweet Baby Jacob!

The artist, Blaine Watson. Here is a link to her Web site. Next time I have extra dinero -- I know how to spend it!

Blessed Beyond Measure

Finding the extraordinary in the every day. Musings of a Christ-inspired life.

How grateful I am to serve a loving God, who I believe provides joy in the ordinary and a reason to laugh when we want to cry!

A Mis-Understanding of Sorts!
To be honest, it was his idea. When we started some three years ago, I was in the midst of wedding planning. And...that can unfortunately be an all-consuming task. Sunday evenings were a "to do" on my list. God opened my heart. Now, spending time with the youth is a part of the week I crave. Time with those I love. Renewal for my soul in the form of loud, funny, worshipful fellowship.

Dan and I were supposed to lead our seventh grade group in a discussion of Jacob. Somewhere around Genesis 33. Dan read the 33 in the lesson plan as a 38. And promptly asked one of our seventh graders to start reading aloud at around verse 15. The reading was to be followed by discussion.

I'm giving Dan the "cut" gesture. Searching frantically for the lesson plan. Certainly we're not going to have a discussion with seventh graders about this!?

After the reading, silence. Blank faces. We clear our throats and Dan launches into reading Chapter 33. And, discussing Jacob.

And, if this doesn't prepare us for having our own children one day, I can't imagine what will.

Just Breathe

I'm linking this with Tuesday's Unwrapped over at Chatting at the Sky.

It sometimes feels like there is a heavy weight on my chest. Do you know this feeling?
There is an urgency in the day to day living -- the day to day needing...I need laundry, clean the house, pay the bills, find ways to save money in our budget, blog, plan a baby shower, call a friend, do well at my job, touch base with my family, grocery shop, cook a healthy dinner, volunteer, walk the dog, work out, spend time in devotion, talk to Dan, decorate the house...and it all needs to be done now. And, perfectly.

Don't get me wrong -- there are plenty of days for feet up relaxing -- but these needs are just a bit much. Sleep-robbing and anxiety-producing.

And I wonder when desire turns to need. And what needs are really necessary.

Sometimes it takes just making a list to discover priorities.

And, I think the laundry may wait another day. The house might be a little dusty. And the pantry might have three flavors of Cheezits, but there is no real cheese in the house.

But I am going to spend more time here:

And with special friends:

And with him:

Because when the day is done, I can rest easy knowing: "...He who began a good work in you will carry it out to completion." Phil 1:6

Training for an upcoming marathon has certainly been interesting. Running provides opportunity for reflection and the most beautiful place I have run so far was just off the Blue Ridge Parkway during a New Year's getaway to Boone with friends. Dan and I found a quiet lake at sunset with a trail that goes around the edge of the water. Lately I have been struggling through long runs with pain in my left shin and calf. It's so frustrating to train for something and not be able to control your body! These pictures, along with inspiration from Isaiah 40: 29-31, keep me going. I don't know if I'll see the finish line of 26.2 miles -- but so far the journey continues to be amazing!

"He gives power to the tired and worn out, and strength to the weak. Even the youths shall be exhausted, and the young men will all give up. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40: 29-31

Mission Possible
Dan and I went as counselors on a college mission trip to Camp Glisson last week. Here's a sample of the fun we had. I can't tell you how much I LOVE these guys. We painted parking lots, cleared trails for a zip line and split wood for camp fires -- all to get the camp ready for the hundreds of kids who will worship God and have fun there this summer. It was an amazing way to enjoy a few days away from my job...even if it was stil HARD work!

Finding Jesus in the Dirt

How often do you clean your windows? Is it sad I had to "Google" "how to clean windows"? We've lived in our house for almost three years now and the urge to wash the windows came on full force over the past few months. That's strange, isn't it? Who has an urge to clean windows? I think I have a problem!

It was a gradual build-up. I mentioned to that cute guy I live with that we should clean the windows. I think he mumbled something to Munson about me being crazy and continued whatever he was doing, probably playing Mafia Wars on Facebook.

But, I was determined. I went to Target and spent forty-five minutes determining what supplies to buy. Should I go with brand name cleaners, hard-core bleach or home-spun, organic, so-safe-you-can eat-it cleaner? I researched "cleaning" recipes -- like mix ammonia with water and a drop of dish soap (but don't add bleach -- did you know that mixing ammonia and bleach makes toxic fumes??...good thing I did my research!). I settled on a Swiffer 360 to dust the blinds. And, in the end, I went home-spun for the cleaning solution. Ammonia and hot water. Spray on, wipe off. And, I used a newspaper to wipe the actual window panes. Because newspaper won't leave streaks like paper towels do. How crazy is that??

I learned, apparently, you should dust your blinds more than once every three years. You would not believe how gleaming the windows, sills and blinds are! Or, maybe you would because maybe you clean your blinds a little more often. The view out of the windows is so crystal clear. I think the dirt must have come a little at a time over the past few years and I didn't realize how it was obstructing the light.

I'm pacing myself to clean all 27 windows in our house. It's a monotonous chore. I wonder to myself if it would be any easier a task had I stayed on top of cleaning the windows.

And, I can see the parallels this chore has to my life right now. How often do we let the dust settle so subtly in our lives that we don't realize how it's obstructing our view of His plans for us? How wonderful would it be to Swiffer away all the unimportant in the everyday so His light could come shining through? What if I did something every day to "stay on top of it" -- so that I don't wake up one day feeling like I am in darkness?

So, I pray. I spend time in devotion. I have Bible verses e-mailed to me so that His word will be written on my heart. And, when I find myself feeling in the dark, I remember to keep searching for the light.

What little thing do you do to keep clean the window of your soul?

And...p.s. -- what other chores literally...not figuratively...beyond the basic...dust, vacuum, etc. should I be doing more than once every couple of years?! Yikes!

I am linking this post over at "Chatting at the Sky" where the always-inspiring Emily is hosting "Tuesdays Unwrapped".


Here's a sample of projects to inspire. Some turned out decent, most are done on a dime, all are done on a whim.

Anyone can make custom curtains -- and using bold fabric is an easy way to jazz up an entire room, while unifying awkward spaces. My dining room/office was completely undefined until we created these easy, peesy panels.

I should have taken before pics...but that would have required a lot of forethought.

It's easy...just buy cheap 84" panels -- keep it under $10 a panel.

Find coordinating fabric at your local fabric store. I added a yard to each panel because I hung them at the ceiling and really wanted them to still puddle at the floor.

Hot glue the coordinating fabric ( glue!) to the panels, starting at the hemline of the panel.

Cover the seam with coordinating trim.

Find cheap drawer pulls. I found them for 50 cents and spray painted them black.

Screw drawer pulls into the wall. Hang curtains with drapery hooks.

Now...for some dining room furniture...



Think you can't handle tile work? Major renovation not in the budget? There are little things you can do to make a space your own. Here's how we conquered the kitchen.

Here's our kitchen when we first bought the house. Check out the fab light fixtures above the table and island! Whew!
And, the after...with task lighting courtesy of paint, new fixtures and the backsplash. We did everything ourselves. The new fixture over the dining table is courtesy of Craigslist. Troll the site and I know you can find something fabulous to fit your space at half price or less! The backsplash was done on whim...the actual work, that is. But, since the day we bought our house -- really even before we signed the final papers, we knew we wanted to put in a backsplash. What we didn't want was to pay a premium for the builder to put it in -- and then pay that premium over 30 years in a mortgage! So...we saved, we researched and we did the work ourselves. For about $300. That's not super cheap, but the research we did estimated the project as a $2,000 upgrade to the home value. If that's true, that's some serious ROI. If not, well, at least it looks pretty!That kitchen table? Free. From my amazing in-laws. A little TLC, a lot of sanding and repainting -- and it's perfect for us! I don't know if you can see it, but there's a metal trash can down there. You know, the kind that's like a $100 at Bed, Bath and Beyond. We paid $2. At a ritzy neighborhood's garage sale! I'm not above purchasing a used trash can! I'm not suggesting you lower your standards -- but if you're working with a limited budget, there's no reason your home can't still be fabulous. Get creative!


Paint changes a room...that is, if you use the right color.

Many of you read about my paint debaucle HERE.The long story short version is -- even after painting the room three times over, the whole process was worth it. So, don't be afraid to color your world.

Check out the progress on making our bedroom a haven. It's taken a couple of years -- and we're still tweaking. Hopefully, you'll find inspiration to create the space you deserve!

We recently revamped our bedroom...which is still a work in progress...but I thought I would share some pics of the new paint and curtains. We started and finished the paint in one day...and making the stripe was easy using a laser level as the guide. Only the big wall behind our bed has the stripe...the rest are plain. I am totally not loving the curtain rod...but it was something I already until I find something better...this is what it looks like!


When you see something you like at a price that fits your budget, don't be afraid to take your treasure home -- even if it's not the right color or you don't know exactly where you'll use it. If you love something, there is always a place it work in your home, regardless of size, shape or style. Your home should be a representation of you. Which might mean I'm a bit cliche, given the popularity of barn stars and the amount I have on display in my home. But -- I love barn stars. I picked these up even though they were all hideous colors that wouldn't match a thing in my house. Then I repainted them with inspiration from The Nester - and found just the place for a constellation of sorts. All for about $10.


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