There's just something about springtime that makes me want to fix things up around here. This is the time of year that I love to wash the windows and curtains, rake up all the left over debris that landed in our yard during the blizzard winds of winter, and clean out the garage. Not that I just love doing those things ;o) but having them done is well worth all the hard work that makes it all happen. But, since the weather is still not acting very spring-like, I decided to finish up an inside project that I had wanted to do this winter and just hadn't gotten around to yet.
Although the sun is shining out my living room window, and we have even planted our tomato and dahlia seeds for the girls' 4H projects, it is still just a bit too chilly out there to get me motivated to pull the rake out of the corner of the garage. So, this weekend we pulled all the furniture into the middle of the living room and started the process of preparing the walls for a new coat of paint. Now, if you read about my painting adventure last fall when we redecorated the dining room, you know that we live in a rather small house on a lake . . . but it is not a fancy "lakefront home." It is a cute little double-wide manufactured home (known as "Hoosier Huts" here in northern Indiana), that is set across the road from the lake with a charming wooded area in our back yard, a cornfield on one side and our really LARGE garage on the other side. So, I have a few challenges to work with, but these days I think we should all be grateful to have a house at all, so I'm not complaining!
Because this is a "Hoosier Hut" (if you know what I mean!), we have those strips along the walls where the edges of the wallboard come together - so I got out my little thingy that I can wedge in between the wall and the strip, and yanked all those yucky, ugly things out of there. Then, I got out a can of joint compound and slapped a bunch of it on all of those cracks in the wall and smoothed it all down as much as possible. Let it all dry overnight, and then took my sanding blocks and tackled those blotchy patches of gray. We had a respirator out in the garage, so my sweet hubby insisted that I wear it while I was sanding all that stuff off the wall. I looked like a martian (well, at least I looked like some depictions I've seen of martians), and there was gray dust flying all over the living room. Got it done, and then we vacuumed up all the dust with the shop vac.
Then it was finally time to start painting! I had chosen a shade of brownish gray that matches the border that I picked out, to complement the border that I put in the dining room. It is rather a dark shade for such a small house, but the other day when we were at Grandma and Grandpa's house, I saw their recent paint job using a dark green. It was beautiful! But they only put it on one wall, so I'm still not sure I want the whole room painted that darkish shade of brown / gray. It is really a pretty color but it just might be too much for the entire room. I'm thinking of just painting the bottom half of the walls in the darker color, and then getting a lighter shade of the same color for the top half, with the border in between. I think I need to be kind of creative to fix up this little house!
Once I get this project finished, and if the weather warms up in the next week or so, I am so ready to get going on some yard projects. One of the things that I want to try this spring is learning about rose bushes and planting a couple out here. We have great soil (we are right in the middle of farm country, with that corn field right on the west end of our house) so I just need to do a little research to see what else rose bushes need. We're also planning on a small vegetable garden, and I'm really looking forward to creating a few perennial garden areas around our house. I had perennial gardens all around our house in Michigan that I had worked on for almost 20 years, but now I'm starting all over with my gardening adventures. We have some shade and some sun, so that will be a new gardening experience for me. In our yard in Michigan, we had almost all shade so I got to be quite familiar with the plants that would do well in the shade.
But until then, I've definitely got plenty to keep me busy with painting the living room. If I can save up a little bit here and there, we might even be able to replace the carpeting later this summer. You know, I guess you don't have to live in a mansion to fix up your little corner of the world. And since this is where we live right now, I'm pretty sure that it's a good thing to bring some sunshine into our home. I just keep reminding myself when I think about everything that our girls don't have . . . . I grew up in a house smaller than this one, and I survived! I guess they will, too ;o)
Have a great Monday!
Applique Pattern and Tutorial
Here’s a sweet way to brighten up a spring day! Inspired by the gorgeous Ginger Blossom line of fabrics by Sandi Henderson, this appliqué pattern is just perfect with any of the Ginger Blossom fabrics. Or any fabrics at home in your stash! I’ve been working on creating little projects that you can do using scraps of fabric you already have on hand, and something that you could finish up in an afternoon while the kids are napping or off at school. So, if you are wanting to tackle a small project to get started sewing, or if you are just looking for a simple, fun, quick and easy project . . . . this is perfect for you!
You can find the complete tutorial, including directions and instructional photos, on the "Flutter Flower" Applique Tutorial page.
“I would define ‘hidden art’ as the art found in the ordinary areas of everyday life. Each person has, I believe, some talent which is unfulfilled in some hidden area of his being – a talent which could be expressed and developed.”
By Edith Schaeffer
“The Hidden Art of Homemaking”
One morning, as I was sweeping my kitchen floor, I was wondering why I was wasting my time cleaning up messes that would just be recreated again within mere minutes. This was "back in the day" when the loudest women's voices all around me were claiming that if I didn't have a "career" where I would be recognized for all of my accomplishments, I would die a completely "unfulfilled" woman. That, really, I could do anything a man could do, and probably even better, if I just had the chance. And it was my responsibility to seize that opportunity, search for it and demand it, if I was ever to be a valued member of the human race.
But what about sweeping the kitchen floor? And what about washing the laundry for all of these people in my family who depended on me to take care of such "unimportant" matters as cooking and cleaning? So, of course I carried on, and I finished sweeping the floor, and doing the dishes, and changing the diapers, and rocking the sick babies, and going to the library, and reading with the toddlers, and going to the park with the pre-schoolers, and taking the older children to music lessons and sports practices. How in the world was I EVER going to do something "important" if all of my time was invested in this "home maker" business?
Then, another day, I happened to come across the writing of Edith Schaeffer, and it completely changed my perspective on life. I had read some of the books by her husband, Francis Schaeffer, including "How Should We Then Live," in which Dr. Schaeffer gives historical examples of how our choices, as a people and as a nation, have presented us with the ultimate question for every human being: how should we live, in light of the cultural and historical realities of our times? And in the midst of such philosophical ponderings, I still had to face MY reality of diapers, screaming babies, and naughty toddlers. How to bridge the gap between what seemed to be a message about what I "ought" to be doing, and what, in reality, I actually "was" doing.
Mrs. Schaeffer, in her own practical and yet deeply philosophical approach, enabled me to see that I was doing exactly what God wanted me to be doing for that day, for that time in my life. That my choices in my home everyday, would make a difference for eternity. And the most significant aspect of this revelation, to me, was the truth that I can, and I do, use all of my creativity, all of my energy, all of my God-given gifts within the context of caring for my home and family.
Even in the seemingly "ordinary" moments of life, my choices to focus my ministry first, but not necessarily exclusively, on my home and family DOES make a difference in the history of humanity. Because if, within the setting of my home, God can use me to touch one life . . . one child . . . . one friend . . . . one neighbor, that is truly His work. I am honored to have received the ministry of "home making," and just like your ministry may not be what someone else has been called to do, I do not need to compare my ministry to someone else's. So wherever you are, whatever you are doing, God wants us all to pursue that "hidden art" that resides within each of our hearts, and create our "art" to His honor and glory.
"The Hidden Art of Homemaking" by Edith Schaeffer was first published in 1972, but it is still available through Amazon.
Thank you for stopping by today! Please leave a link to your In Other Words blog post so we can visit you, and then take a minute to visit the other participants to read their perspective on this quote about the "hidden art" that is in the heart and life of every woman, including you!
This truth gives me hope. We frequently see images of the "Christian Celebrities" who have been gifted with amazing abilities as speakers, teachers, musicians, authors . . . . and then there are the rest of us. I celebrate the gifts of those who have been blessed with talents that bring God's grace to the hearts of "ordinary Christians." But I've also wondered why some of us have those opportunities, while most of us walk through life in the shadows, quietly doing what God has put before us to do. What makes the difference? But, really, there is no difference.
I remember days when my older children were small and I found myself feeling worthless, as if my daily tasks were making no difference in the world. In the midst of hearing sermons preached about the amazing experiences of those who were called to the mission field, listening to eloquent speakers and teachers at seminars and conferences, and reading the words of brilliant writers . . . . how could I contribute anything? After all, most of my days were taken up with changing diapers, cuddling and reading with toddlers, helping with homework, losing sleep watching over the bed of a feverish child, driving one, two, three, four of them to music lessons, sports practices and games, running the PTA and Friends of the Library . . . . absolutely nothing compared to all of the "famous" voices and faces all around me.
But I've never been called to the mission field in a foreign country. I've never been able to contribute any musical talents to our local congregation. I've not yet written a book that has made me famous. I have done a bit of public speaking and teaching, but certainly nothing that would qualify me for "celebrity" status. And so for several years I felt as if I had nothing to offer. But here I am, now. Still not famous, still just an ordinary mama, making my way through every day. Still helping with homework, attending soccer practice and games, rushing my daughter to the ER to have the gash over her eyebrow stitched up (and still losing sleep watching over her all night long while she slept soundly beside me), still trying to figure out how to help a 9 year old understand multiplication and a teach a 7 year old how to read "Green Eggs and Ham." I still find myself wondering what it all means.
Isn't there SOMETHING that I can do that will make a difference in the world? But then I remember, as God's gentle voice reminds me that He DID bless us with the opportunity to travel to China, twice, to bring our daughters home. He has honored this mother's prayers for her children, as they have grown-up and they are still alive ;o) and they are all successful in their own lives. No, not all my prayers were answered. My marriage of 25 years was not healed; the brokenness of that tragedy will remain to my last days of life on this earth. No, not all of my children understand (even after almost 15 years), and no, I have never been able to give back to my church and community any of the more "visible" gifts.
But I remain hopeful that God's Word is true . . . . that if I just offer Him all that I am and all that I have (even if it isn't very much!), that He is pleased and will use my life to bring glory to Himself. Really . . . . what more can I ask for? And if that is all that ever comes of my life, then that is enough.Please visit Jennifer at "Scraps and Snippets" to read her thoughts on this quote and you will also find links to the other IOW participants for this week. Share your thoughts on your blog and leave your link there so we can come and visit you. And remember . . . . if YOU are just an ordinary mama, it's OK! ;o) God is using you in ways you may never know.
After I bought the recipe book, Sweet and Sugar-Free by Karen Barkey, I was suddenly inspired to start being more creative in my kitchen! So, this morning, I baked up a loaf of old-fashioned banana bread using the recipe from Karen's book. There is no sugar in this recipe, the sweetening comes from the ripe bananas, and then a liberal addition of cinnamon and nutmeg and lots of chopped walnuts. Now we're getting ready for the holiday weekend, and in addition to celebrating our American heroes, here at our house we are also celebrating three birthdays! We have three grandbabies with birthdays on Memorial Day weekend . . . . one is six years old, one is five years old, and one is four years old ;o) The five year old lives in Colorado, but the other two are here with us this weekend, so we will celebrate all three birthdays even though one is probably going to be via Skype! While searching for healthy alternative recipes for all kinds of things, I found this super simple pasta salad recipe that I'm going to make for our birthday lunch tomorrow:
This pasta salad is easy to make and so delicious!
Tips: Variations of this salad are endless. Try it with any number of vegetables, or even add tuna or chicken or chopped hard boiled eggs. You can even make it lower in fat with a nonfat dressing.
Calories: 147 Fat: 5g Carbs: 21g Protein: 4g Cholesterol: 1mg Fiber: 2g Sodium: 367mg
Based on a recipe from Quick Meals for Healthy Kids and Busy Parents. Copyright © 1995 by Sandra K. Nissenberg, Margaret L. Bogle, and Audrey C. Wright. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
To order this book visit www.wiley.com.
Do you ever think about your mama's voice? We all have images of what that might mean . . . .for some of us the memory of Mama's Voice brings back visions of our childhood. It might bring memories of Mama fixing supper and calling us in from our backyard adventures. For others the suggestion of Mama's Voice perhaps recalls times of singing lullabies in a rocking chair, or being on the receiving end of a willow switch pulled hastily from the nearest tree. In those moments of Mama's Terror, she probably said some things that sounded pretty dramatic: "Don't you EVER go by the lake again, young lady, or I'll . . . . . " whatever the rest of the threat might have been. Hard to remember, because all the while the ranting and raving of Terrified Mama was resounding off the trees and houses in the neighborhood, that willow switch was stinging one little girl's tiny hiney all the way home. Guess I remember Mama's Voice THAT day.
Or maybe your Mama's Voice still invades your daily routine, with voice messages on your phone reminding you to take Maddie to the dr. because she has a runny nose, and be sure to check Hunter's shoes because they seemed a bit too small on Tuesday. For some of us, Mama's Voice is a distant memory, haunting our moments of silence, as we realize that we never really even knew our Mama. I'll bet that happens to lots of us. And then, when we are the Mama, do we ever wonder what our children remember about our voice, our words, our presence in their lives?
Of course, most mamas try their best to be a Good Mama . . . . and most of us are. But then, there are those times when we stumble and fall somewhere along the way. Then what? Then there is God's grace. Of course, if you have never, ever lost your patience with your children, or ever uttered a single word in fear, anxiety, exhaustion, or anger, then none of this matters. But Mama's Voice is a powerful presence in everyone's life, and if we can reflect back on how we responded to our Mama's Voice, it might help us to redeem the time that we have with our own children. Our Drama Diva frequently says, "Mama, I like your Happy Voice." Well, that's a good thing, but sometimes this lil' darlin' needs to hear Mama's Stern Voice . . . especially when she is being a bit bossy with her sister.
As I think of my Mama's Voice, and how I no longer have the opportunity hear her speaking to me, I wonder if I listened to what she was REALLY saying or if I just let her words kind of fall unceremoniously to the ground. And she knew it, I'm sure. And as I think of my voice as the Mama, I know that my words have not always been what my children needed to hear, but that's one of the good things about Mama's Voice . . . . we can speak words of forgiveness, and we can ask forgiveness, and we should do it before it is too late. Mama's Voice won't be around forever.
"A sentence from Psalm 101 has been both challenging and convicting for me: 'I will walk in my house with blameless heart' (Psalm 101:2, NIV). When God speaks to me about being more loving, this verse reminds me to make application in my family first -- and then to others. It forces me to ask, 'Am I more spiritual, more loving, or more fun somewhere else? Who gets my best -- my family or others?"
~Jean Fleming from "A Mother's Heart: A Look at Values, Vision and Character for the Christian Mother"
This is a question that I have pondered over the years, and quite honestly, I have agonized over this idea of whether or not I am "fun" with my family. It is not uncommon in my weekly IOW posts to take a bit different approach to the given quote for our consideration. And this week I guess will be no different. But before I share my thoughts on this particular quote, let me explain some of the reasons that I don't always see things the way many regular Christian girls do. ;o) I trust you will understand why I sometimes seem to come to our weekly task from "around the corner," or from a different slant than you will probably hear in your average Christian conversation.
Some of you know that I spent many, many years trying to figure out why MY home, MY family, MY marriage just didn't quite "measure up" to what I was observing around me in my church family. And so, when life in my little world was topsy-turvy and completely confusing, I assumed that it was because I was doing something I shouldn't be doing . . . . or not doing something that I should have been doing . . . . or I wasn't "nice" enough to my children, or I wasn't "fun" enough to keep up with the incessant demand in our home for "excitement," "adventure," and an every-increasing expectation that life should be "fun."
So I prayed, and prayed, and prayed . . . . for many, many years . . . . asking God to change me, to make me a "good" mommy, a better wife, a happier Christian. But no matter how much I prayed, or how much I determined to be "more spiritual, more loving, or more fun," I just never could quite reach that elusive goal. Every day, every week, every month, every year I struggled to understand how I could be so incapable of "getting it right." And every time I would hear one more sermon about how the mother is responsible for setting the "tone" in the home; she (apparently alone) is responsible to create a loving, nurturing, spiritual, happy home where her family is cheerfully growing in God's grace . . . . I would sink into an even deeper abyss of hopelessness.
Maybe it was because I didn't spend enough time in my daily devotions. Maybe it was because I had gained a few pounds from giving birth to four beautiful babies. Maybe it was because I believed that we should do things together as a family, and that idea was really annoying to those people who were my family at the time. Maybe it was because I worked so hard to be there for my children when they got home from school, to sit down and read with them, and then help them with their homework. My biggest failure in those days, however, was that I was continually pleading with my family to have dinner together, all at the same time, all at the same table. And I even expected that we should try to eat healthy foods, and treat each other with respect.
After years of being humiliated and criticized for trying to incorporate into our lives many of the principles that were being taught from the pulpit, from women's seminars, from Christian books, and from Christian radio programs . . . . . I just gave up. I quit. Because I couldn't understand why, in this family, all of those things that were being taught as "good" where condemned as preventing my family from having "fun." And of course, I failed. Miserably. Because after years of this, I really wasn't fun, or loving, or spiritual. I was broken and angry.
I recall one day, standing in my kitchen with a broom in hand (as I attempted to clean my house, which was also deemed "not fun" so I guess I had better just do it myself, and not EVER dare to ask for help), I was listening to a well-known Christian radio broadcast on the little radio I kept on the kitchen counter. When I heard the woman who was being interviewed claim that "a woman who does not create an atmosphere of joy, happiness, spirituality, and loving kindness in her home, really does not love her family and she does not love the Lord." I was done. The end. I collapsed in the middle of the kitchen and wept, begging God to tell me how I had failed so miserably. How could one woman, who so desperately wanted to honor God and raise her children to love the Lord, could be such a worthless example of Christian womanhood? What? What? What do you want me to do? I begged God to just show me what ELSE I could do. And the answer was silence.
Because, I discovered later, there was no way that I could overcome the powerful influence that had convinced my children that mommies are supposed to be "nice" and "fun" and NEVER, EVER address their children's behavior. A good mommy is just supposed to smile and say "Isn't that nice" ;o) no matter what her children or husband say or do to her. I learned that lesson very well! And for years, the silent smiles of pretense hid the growing rage that burned within my heart. Until, one day, it was just over. It was just over.
Now I know that not only must a mother be spiritual, loving, and kind, it is simply not possible for a mother to be "fun" at all cost. I am not my children's best friend, I am their mother. And sometimes that means being the boss, making decisions that may not be popular, and teaching my children to do the right thing. Even when they don't want to. That is the life lesson that all of this taught me: just do the right thing. Even if no one around you recognizes it, appreciates it, or even if they try to destroy you because of it. Do the right thing.
Now, when I am seeking God's guidance, I know that He will lead me if I just do the next thing in front of me. Step by step He will show me the path, and in the absence of a dysfunctional environment I have discovered that it is not that difficult to be spiritual, loving, and yes, even "fun." Because I am now free to be what a truly "good" mommy ought to be . . . . the mother of my children, not the convenient place to dump the guilt and blame for everything that isn't "perfect" in the world. I have learned that all the "junk" in the world is not because I wasn't "fun" enough. It is a result of sin, and every one of us needs to deal with the sin in our lives through the grace of God and by seeking His forgiveness.
So . . . . I've revealed a great deal about my own life in this post. That is because of another lesson I've learned while stumbling through the fires of failure: Talking about the problem is NOT the problem - THE PROBLEM is the problem. And if we never talk about it, we can never sort it out and solve it. But now you perhaps have a better idea of why my posts tend to push the edges a bit. I hope you do not take offense, and I apologize if you do, but trust me on this one . . . . pretense and silence never fix anything. In my life now, I am safe and loved, and free to be the kind of mommy that I always wanted to be. God is truly good!
Please visit our hostess this week, Loni at Writing Canvas, where you will find links to the other IOW participants for this week. Then, leave your link so we can visit you!