"25 Random Things"

I was tagged for the "25 Random Things" note on Facebook by 7 people, so I finally decided to post my list the other day. :)  My husband (who wants nothing to do with Facebook :)) has been "suggesting" that it's been way too long between posts on my blog lately, and that I really need to remedy that.  So...I decided that for anyone who may read my blog but not be my Facebook friend, I would copy and paste my list here for a "quick and easy" blog post. :)   (I promise I am going to get to some more substantive posts soon...I have updates to the  "Daily Touch of Beauty", "One Little Word~Authentic", and Contentment posts, as well as a LONG overdue Mega Memory Month update, and a few random posts that have been percolating.  Hopefully once co-op sign-ups are over this afternoon, I'll be able to get started on that list. :))

Here's my list:

1. I married the first guy I ever really dated. He spoiled me rotten from the day we met. In those days it was flowers, candy, and/or cards *every* day. (He was the talk of my office! ;-)) Now it is bringing me a Diet Coke or chocolate, sending me out for some "mom time" when he knows I really need it, or doing the dishes for me. The things he does now are even *better* than the flowers, candy, and cards (although he still does those sometimes, too :)). He is amazing (and in answer to the question I always get, no, he has no brothers :)). 

2. We met in court. Our first date ended in the ER.

3. I have played the grand piano that sits in the Supreme Court building...*before* it was there. :) I also played the white grand that was on the cover of one of Dino's albums. When Daddy worked at the Baldwin plant in Conway, all Baldwin grand pianos were manufactured in that plant, and I occasionally got to play the "special order" pianos before they were shipped. 

4. My first *real* job was in a Chinese restaurant. I was the only non-Asian person working there, and sometimes the only one who spoke English! Quite an experience for a 16-year-old. (My first boss there was Charlie Trie, who was in the National Media spotlight a bit during the Clinton scandals.)

5. I sleep on my side. I cannot sleep on the *same* side twice in a row. If I get up in the night, I have to sleep on the side opposite to the one I woke up on. I realized this several years ago and I think it's weird, but I can NOT change it. If I have to lie on the same side twice in a row, I can't sleep. 

6. I have a shoe signed by Robert Wagner. My grandmother saw him in Hawaii. She knew I was a fan of his at the time, and asked for his autograph, but neither of them had anything to write on. My grandmother stuck her shoe up and said, "Sign this!" I still have the shoe. :)

7. I whistle, hum, or sing almost all the time. Most of the time I don't realize I am doing it. It doesn't matter what my mood is. This is genetic. Those who knew my dad well know from whom I inherited it. :) My middle daughter is the same way. When you have to ask her to stop singing, she looks at you with complete surprise...because she had no idea she was singing. :) 

8. I have been singing in church choirs in some form or fashion for 37 years. Neva Havens and Shirley McCone were my first choir teachers at FBC when I was three. I learned to sing alto at 14, sitting between Myrtle Lee Selig and Wanda Landers in the FBC adult choir. I LOVE being an alto.

9. I still love singing in choir. Adult choir rehearsal is one of my favorite times of the week. I'm having to sit out for a while right now, and it is about to kill me. :) I am SO blessed to be in a church that still sings hymns from the hymnal and still has a traditional choir. I hope that NEVER changes. (I'm blessed all around with our church, btw. We have an incredible church family, and I am so thankful for both Bro. Kent and Lyndel. Who would have thought we could spend almost 4 years in the book of John on Sunday mornings?? But God speaks to me through Bro. Kent's expository preaching every week!) 

10. One of my favorite places when I was growing up was BMA camp in Ringgold, LA. I went from the time I was 9 until I was 18 or so. Heber and Steve McKissack got us involved in Bible Memory Association when we were all at FBC, Conway, and between the verses I learned and my experiences at camp, they were probably some of the most influential people in my Christian walk during my childhood and teen years (followed closely by Bro. Roy and Mrs. Jimmie and Gilbert and Susan, and then a host of others). I wish BMA Camp still existed for my kids, but OCBC Church Camp is a close runner-up. :)

11. I am extremely competitive at games. (That is genetic, too. :-D) I am NOT a sports person, but I LOVE board games, especially strategy games. Some of my favorites: Stratego/The Generals, King Oil, Arkansas Bluff, Pit, Scrabble, Nerts, and Axis and Allies. 

12. My first car was a 1973 Karmann Ghia, candy apple red, in mint condition. When I was a little girl, my grandparents had a Ghia that they had bought new for my aunt in 1959. Theirs was two-tone...green with a white hardtop. I loved riding around town it it with Papaw Brown, singing silly songs and hearing his wonderful stories. I had wanted one for as long as I could remember. 

13. Yet another thing I inherited from my dad...I have an incredibly weak stomach. I'm a total wuss. I don't do needles, blood, or anything else that could *remotely* be classified as *gross*. This is why God allowed me to marry a man who used to eat lunch while watching GI/abdominal surgeries!! He is my Knight in Shining Armor who handles all the icky stuff and holds my hand when I have to have blood drawn. :-)

14. I once nailed a board to my own foot. In deference to my friends who are as weak-stomached as I, I won't tell the story here. 

15. I narrowly missed a chance to fly from Fort Smith to Little Rock by helicopter. When my water broke at 30 weeks with Ammah Grace, the helicopters were grounded due to ice/snow, so I ended up being transported from St. Edward's in Fort Smith to UAMS in Little Rock by ambulance in the middle of the night in a snowstorm. I had a fabulous ambulance crew who were Christians and who prayed for me all the way there. They were a bit put out because the trip messed up their speed average from SEMMC to UAMS. Their average was just over an hour and a half; it took us like an hour and 50 minutes due to hitting ice at Russellville. Eek. I was so concerned about the premature labor that I never thought to be scared of the crazy ride.

16. I am gephyrophobic. I hate bridges. When I first started driving, I had a very hard time driving over bridges at all. Now I'm fine unless it is an unfamiliar bridge or one of those little country one-lane bridges...ugh! I'm pretty sure my phobia stems from watching news coverage of a barge hitting the Lake Pontchartrain bridge 1974, not long after we had been on the bridge while in New Orleans. 

17. I've mentioned several things I inherited from my dad; I guess I should mention some things I inherited from my mom, as well: My love of pens, paper, and notebooks. My fear of spiders. A love of little yellow wildflowers. :-) 

18. I got my first gray hair when I was 17. When I was 30 I had more gray than my then-87-year-old grandfather!

19. I am amazed and delighted by my children every day. How incredibly blessed I am to be able to be a homeschooling mom to them!

20. Speaking of homeschooling...no list about me would be complete without something about homeschooling! We started homeschooling when I was a junior in high school, and I LOVED it and knew then I wanted to homeschool my children someday. My first "homeschool field trip" was to the 1985 Special Legislative Session in Little Rock that *legalized* homeschooling in Arkansas. Little did I know then that Billy and I would spend four years as Activities Directors for our homeschool group, scheduling field trips! 

21. I have the most wonderful friends in the entire world. God has blessed me with wonderful friends ever from Susan O. and Julianne M. from the age of 3 :), to Jodie, Kathy, and Tauna now, and many others in between. I don't know how I would have made it through the past few years without friends who have helped bear our burdens in so many ways...and made me laugh until my sides hurt all the way through!

22. I am a published scrapbooker. :) I had a page titled "Most Thankful" published in the November 2002 Creating Keepsakes magazine. (I thought I had the story on my blog, but apparently I don't. It was a page about my dad losing his sight for a year and a half, and finally having his vision restored...maybe I'll blog about it soon.) I haven't submitted in years, but keep saying I'm going to start again. One of these days...:)

23. When I was in college, living at home, a man was shot in our front yard, a few feet away from my bedroom window. He had burglarized a convenience store (it was closed due to an ice storm), and was considered extremely dangerous...and he was trying to get into our house. :-O Kathy W. happened to be spending the night that night and got to share in the excitement. :)

24. I was a Razorback fan before I was born! My dad called the Hogs from the balcony of our apartment in downtown Birmingham the day I was born. (The Hogs were playing in a bowl game that weekend.) I care very little for sports *other* than the Hogs...except that I have become a Tim Tebow fan in recent years. :) It was a sign of my dad's great regard for Billy that he was thrilled for me to marry him *despite* the fact that he was/is a Tennessee Vol fan!

25. I have experienced my greatest fear in the world coming true. That was a horrible thing, but God has shown Himself...His goodness, His love, His faithfulness, His Sovereignty, Glory, and Holiness...in ways I could never have imagined through it. We serve an awesome God and I am thankful that He has held me in the palm of His hand throughout it all.

Ack! Had to edit because I left out one of the people who tagged me...I knew there was someone else! :) I guess I should add another random thing, too, so my "things" equal my "people". ;-) 

26. I love political science. I minored in Poli Sci, because I couldn't figure out what I would do with a *major* in Poli Sci...so I majored in Psychology instead, because Psych is such a *useful* and *marketable* degree. Ha!!

"Not-So-Basic Bookmaking" ~ Spring Co-Op

Just a few quick photos from last spring's "Not-So-Basic Bookmaking" class, for those who may be interested in taking the second round this spring.  We had a *great* time last year, and I'm looking forward to more creative adventures this time!   It is so cool to see the individual creativity of each child come out in their projects.  (Last spring's class was all girls, but I think we are going to have at least one boy this year. )

Accordian Book.   This was the class sample...some of the girls' work can be seen in the presentation night photo below.

Presentation Night.  These were a very few samples of the books the girls completed.  They did such a great job on *all* their books!

Class.  I think we used every inch of our little room!  There were girls and supplies everywhere. :)  We had a blast!   One of my goals for this class is for the children to learn to express their own creativity...to take the bookmaking skills we are learning and make the projects their own...not a copy of the instructor's sample.  The girls did such a great job...it's amazing how even at their young ages, their sense of their own style is beginning to develop.  By the end of co-op, I could look at several of their projects and tell who made them without being told. :)  

Details for this spring's class are on the loop.  Come join us!!


Simple Woman's Daybook--Update

I had planned to post an update to my Contentment post and last week's Daybook over the weekend.  I never got that far, so I'm going to try to incorporate that into today's Daybook post. We'll see if that works. :)

FOR TODAY...  January 19, 2009

Outside my window...  It's very dark!  I woke up at 4 a.m. again...I'm already thinking about a nap. :)  
I am thinking...  that it is time to pick up the pace and get with the program so that I have more progress to report next week!  It is the 19th of January, and I am behind!!  

I haven't read a single book from my 999 reading list...I am going to have to get *really* busy reading to even begin to catch up! 

Last week was almost a complete flop as far as my commitment to "one beautiful thing every day".  Part of that was due to a need to be flexible, which was a good thing...but part of it was allowing myself to be "derailed" when I shouldn't have.   Billy and I did hang new "window mistreatments" in the kitchen...which I love!  And I did completely clean out/clean the refrigerator one day (and if you had seen the "before" to that project, you would agree that my newly cleaned and organized fridge was definitely a thing of beauty! ;-))  I'm determined to get on top of my "Daily Touch of Beauty" this week.   There are still 346 days left in 2009.   "One beautiful thing every day" would be 346 new touches of beauty in our home.  Wow!  

We've also slowed way down on our Mega Memory Month progress.  Eek.  We are down to 11 days to finish memorizing the Beatitudes and "Grammar in a Nutshell".  I know that if we are diligent we can do it.   I am loving the ways I can almost *see* the "Mega" memorization stretching their minds. :-)  We are seeing improvement in areas other than just memorizing...in focus, in reading, in thinking skills...which I think is related a great deal to the memory work we are doing.  Neat aside from yesterday...we had a guest preacher yesterday while Bro. Kent is on vacation.  As much as I miss Bro. Kent when he is gone, I always love to hear Lyndel's brother, Craig, preach when he is here.   I thought it was interesting that in several conversations yesterday with various people, Bro. Craig's Scripture memorization was brought up...the fact that he doesn't open his Bible and "read" the Scripture passage...he quotes it.  No matter what he's preaching on, or how long the passage is.   Sure enough, not only did he do that yesterday morning, with a fairly short, familiar passage, but he did it last night with a longer passage thatI've never seen on a  list of "top Bible passages to memorize".  (Anybody happen to have 2 Kings 6:8-23 memorized?? :))   What a neat example for the kids as we work on our Mega Memory Month challenges!

I am thankful for...  God's blessings in this season of contentment.   I shared here what God had been doing in my life in the area of contentment.  I continue to be amazed at the ways He is giving me contentment in areas in which I have struggled for a long time.  And I am amazed at the blessings He is bringing along with that.  

In the Contentment post and in last week's Daybook, I mentioned our anniversary last week.   Despite the brief but intense bout of discontent over our current season of "datelessness" that I mentioned in the Contentment post, I was completely content over the prospect of spending our anniversary watching movies with the kids in our living room. :)   Our anniversary wasn't until Tuesday, but Billy was off work on Monday, so we were planning to celebrate then.  I had planned to cook a "big breakfast" brunch (one of Billy's favorite meals) on Monday while he was home "for our anniversary".  But...God's ways are not our ways, and He surprises us with showers of blessings sometimes when we least expect it...which in this case led to my not fixing that "big breakfast" meal until Thursday night!  

A few days before, I had mentioned a particular snack that I missed, from years ago when we used to have  game nights at our house once a week or so.  A friend used to bring the same thing every week, and because no one else in my family was particularly fond of it, I hadn't had it since those game nights died out several years ago.   I mentioned it during a random conversation with Billy and didn't give it another thought...but obviously he did, because he went out to run an errand Monday morning and came back with that very snack. :)  A small thing, but a huge part of what I love about my sweet husband...he pays attention to everything, and in his super-thoughtful way actually follows through with the little plans he cooks up.  :)  (I, unfortunately, am really bad to have great plans for thoughtful things to do, but never get around to actually *doing* them. :-(   I'm trying to work on that.)   Anyway...my thought Monday morning was that that little gesture was worth several dinners out. :)

But God wasn't finished with surprises on Monday.  My sweet and sneaky friend had called Sunday afternoon and said that she had something to drop by on Monday, and what were our plans for the day?  I don't even remember exactly what I told her...something about having no real plans but cooking brunch for Billy and the kids, I think.  I didn't think much about her "dropping something by", as she has been moving and sorting and purging, and "bringing by" all kinds of wonderful hand-me-downs in the process. :-)

However, when she arrived on Monday morning, she had a card.  An anniversary card.  An anniversary card with the gift of a "date" for Billy and I.  She had been planning and scheming to take the kids Monday night for a little "Wii party" so that Billy and I could go out.   

Billy and I figured it up that afternoon...it had been 18 months since we had been out together with no children.   What an incredible blessing that gift was!  Both because of the sacrifice I knew it was for my friend at this point, and because of the blessing of a couple of hours to go out and spend time together and talk like grown-ups, with no interruptions. :)  

So...I am thankful for 13 years with my wonderful husband, for the blessing of the best friends ever, for the fabulous time my children had at their "party", and for God's gentle goodness as He teaches me lessons in contentment every day.   God is so good to bless us above what we can ask or think!

From the learning rooms... We need to make major progress on our Mega Memory Month work this week, as well as just having another good, solid week of school after some bumps in the road last week.   And like many others, I'm planning to incorporate some "history in the making" into our school time this week with the Inauguration tomorrow.  I still remember as a very small child watching the Nixon/Ford transition unfold on TV with my dad...I can still remember some of his commentary about the situation, so many years later.  So despite my wish for a very different cast of characters tomorrow, we're going to make the best of it! :)

From the kitchen... Saloon beef sandwiches from the crock pot tonight...yumm!  

I am wearing...  Still in my PJs :)  It's early!

I am creating... I am hoping to actually get some "fun" creating done this week in the form of scrapbooking projects.  A friend and I are planning a scrapbook day on Saturday, for the first time in forever, and I'd really like to "warm up" my rusty fingers a bit before that.  Not to mention that I need to create some class samples for an upcoming "Not-So-Basic Bookmaking" class for our homeschool co-op.  

I am going... to post an update soon (I hope) on my "One Little Word" for the year...Authentic.  I started to post it with the other updates above, but decided it deserved its own post. :) God is teaching me much in this area, too!!

I am reading... Must get busy on my 999 reading list!!  

I am hoping...  that this week is more productive than last!  Somehow we got off track last week with Billy being off on Monday and our anniversary on Tuesday, and never got back "on".  It was a good week in many ways, despite some very rough patches, but not a very productive one. 

I am hearing...  Billy getting ready for his morning walk.  It is dark and cold and I can't imagine getting up this early to walk...but he is disciplined and determined.  He walks every day. For years he ran 6 miles a day, every day, rain or shine (or ice!)...even with the flu!   His ankle won't take the running anymore, but the dedication is still the same. 

Around the house...  Getting back on track from a bit of derailment last week.  I hope to make curtains for two more rooms this week and have much more progress to report next Monday. :)

One of my favorite things... Seeing God work in my life and in the lives of those around me, and being able to rest in His sovereignty and goodness no matter what the situation.   

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Church Wednesday, scrapbooking Saturday, a  quiet week with no birthdays/holidays/anniversaries (rare for us from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day:)).  

Here is picture thought I am sharing...  in honor of our 13th anniversary last week...:)

Thanks to Peggy for hosting the Daybook each week! 


My Faith Looks Up to Thee

My faith looks up to Thee,
Thou Lamb of Calvary, Savior divine!
Now hear me while I pray, take all my guilt away,
O let me from this day be wholly Thine!

May Thy rich grace impart
Strength to my fainting heart, my zeal inspire!
As Thou hast died for me, O may my love to Thee,
Pure warm, and changeless be, a living fire!

While life’s dark maze I tread,
And griefs around me spread, be Thou my Guide;
Bid darkness turn to day, wipe sorrow’s tears away,
Nor let me ever stray from Thee aside.

When ends life’s transient dream,
When death’s cold sullen stream over me roll;
Blest Savior, then in love, fear and distrust remove;
O bear me safe above, a ransomed soul!

~Ray Palmer

We sang this hymn this morning in church.  It was the second or third hymn I learned to play on the piano...34 years or so ago. :-)   It's not one I remember ever singing much.   The words really hit me this morning...especially the second and third verses.  I love it when an old hymn hits me in a whole new way! 


Simple Woman's Daybook~Vacation Day :)

FOR TODAY.. January 12, 2009

Outside my window..Inky black darkness, except for the security light across the street.  I am up much earlier than I had planned to be!

I am thinking... that  I really wish I was still in bed.  Billy is off today and I had hoped we could all sleep a bit late, but I awoke in the wee hours with a monster headache.  By the time it is gone, I'm afraid it will be time to get up. :) 

I am thankful for...  curtain fabric!!   My wonderful friend who is moving and purging brought me two bags of fabric yesterday...perfect for much-needed curtains.  

From the learning rooms...   a day off today!  Since our "principal" is off work and home today, I think we'll call it parent-teacher conference day. :)   Otherwise, we had a good solid week of school last week (yay!) with just the basics; hopefully we will do as well this week as we add in other subjects. 

From the kitchen...  I'm planning a big brunch today, since Billy is off...biscuits and gravy, eggs, bacon, and maybe hash browns.   Tonight we are having one of Peter's favorites...BBQ smokies in the crock pot, mashed potatoes, veggies, and some kind of homemade bread.  Yum. :)

I am wearing...  A black and green fuzzy Field and Stream sweatshirt...my second favorite cozy sweatshirt for really cold mornings. 

I am creating... curtains!  That is the plan, anyway. :)  Hopefully I'll have pictures later in the week.  
(And hopefully A Daily Touch of Beauty every day, with a report later in the week. :))

I am going...  not much of anywhere this week, I hope...a few very quick errands
 later today, and then the only things on the calendar this week are church Wednesday and Sunday and a big grocery trip on Friday. 

I am reading... creativity-inspiring blogs, such as A La Mode, The Inspired Room, Nesting Place, and Thrifty Decor Chick.   And working on my 999 Reading List (but getting a slow start! Ugh.)

I am hoping... for a great "day off" with Billy and the kids today.  

I am hearing...  the hum of the heater behind me.  Otherwise, the house is completely quiet 
other than my clicking on the keyboard.  
Around the house...  working on curtains for the Entry Hall, kitchen, and bathroom this week.  (Have I mentioned that already?  Can you tell I'm a tad excited at the prospect??)    

One of my favorite things...  a freshly cleaned/organized refrigerator!  (One of my projects over the weekend, and I'm having to stop myself from just standing there with the door open
 enjoying the view. :) )

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Celebrating our anniversary...13 years!...tomorrow (at home, with the kids, contentedly :-)  Otherwise, hopefully a  quiet, productive week.  

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

All four kids worked together for *hours* last week building this Lego tower.  I wish I had gotten pictures of all four sides...there were some incredible details I missed in this photo (like "climbing ivy" on the back! :))  It was so much fun to watch them pooling their creative skills to get it "just right". 

For more Daybook entries, visit Peggy at The Simple Woman's Daybook

(I apologize for the spacing issues on this post.  For some reason, when I add photos to a post, the spacing and type size goes bananas, and *sometimes* Blogger will let me fix it, and *sometimes* it won't.   Does anyone know *why* that is, or *what* I can do about it?  It's making me *nuts*!! :))


On Contentment, Christmas, and the Beauty of Imperfection...

It's funny the things God uses to get our attention.

Even a Facebook status.

Back before Christmas, an old friend in another state posted a brief comment about looking forward to going out to dinner with her husband.

I suddenly found myself turning a rather ugly shade of green. I was overwhelmed with envy. Never mind that this friend is over a decade younger than I am, a "young married" with no children...in a completely different season of life. I can't remember the last time Billy and I had a dinner out with no children. I know it has been over a year...because we laughed about having Taco Bell (from the drive thru) with four children for our 12th anniversary...a year ago next week. Usually I am fine with the fact that life circumstances right now don't lend themselves to "dates" for Billy and I. I know that in another season, we'll have those opportunities again, and I'm okay with that. On this particular day, though, I found myself jealous. And then mad. And then fighting tears. I suddenly craved a couple of hours of grown-up food and grown-up conversation in a restaurant with my husband. And maybe even...gasp... a movie afterward. Like "normal people". :-)

And then God zapped me. From out of nowhere. Reminded me how blessed I am to have been married to my wonderful-husband-who-spoils-me-so-much for almost 13 years. Reminded me how blessed we are to have four precious children. Reminded me that He is in complete control of the fact that "normal" disappeared a few years ago and hasn't made it all the way back yet. Reminded me of all the other blessings He has given us that make a few missed dinners out pale in comparison. Would an occasional date be nice? Sure. But definitely not worth wallowing in discontent because that isn't part of God's plan for this season of our lives.

What seemed like a minor incident at the time stuck in my mind and wouldn't go away. I thought about how quickly the discontent enveloped me, and how strong its pull was. I thought about larger ways I have struggled with discontentment over the past few years. Discontentment over "the holidays", and how different our holidays have become over the past few years, compared to the *huge* holidays of my younger years, filled with extended family and multiple extravagant holiday feasts. Discontentment over our house as we've fallen further and further behind in the "master plan" created 11 years, four children, and a number of unexpected and all-consuming family crises ago, compounded by uninsured storm damage. Discontentment over annoying health issues that I never expected to be dealing with at this point in my life.

And God began to work in my life in this area of contentment. He began to bring verses to mind, and put things in my path to read, and remind me of how wonderfully He has blessed and provided for us in so many ways.

As we moved into the heart of the Christmas season, and as I made a conscious effort to be more obedient in being content "whatever my circumstances" (with lots of failures along the way, for sure), I began to realize that God was doing something else. He was giving me contentment, and joy, in the holiday season, for the first time in four years. I realized that although I still look forward to having "big family holidays" again someday when our children grow up and have families of their own, I actually enjoyed our quiet little family Christmas this year. I enjoyed not getting up at 4 a.m. to put a turkey on and then running at a breakneck pace all Christmas day. I'm actually looking forward to Christmas next year already, and planning some new traditions for our simpler, smaller holidays.

As we've transitioned into the new year, I've continued to ponder and pursue contentment. I need to be content in the circumstances in which God has placed me, and not become bitter or anxious over things that I can't change. On the other hand, I need to be diligent to do my part to change areas in which change is needed, and possible.

One area in which I need to diligently pursue change this year is my home. At the same time that I must learn to be content with its defects and blemishes, there are many things that can and must be done to make it more of a Haven for my family.

As I was updating the blogs in my sidebar yesterday, I came across a couple of blogs that have been hugely motivational. Since my "Big Rocks First" post, my mantra has been "Make the most of the minutes." I've done better this week in that area, although I still have a long way to go in changing those habits. I've found a couple of other sayings that I need to frame and hang on my wall along with that one. I ran across the first one at "a la mode", a new blog on my list...

"Done is better than perfect."

Oh, how I need to learn and live that! I'm the queen of unfinished projects and unfulfilled plans. A friend and I were discussing just a few days ago something she had read (and we had talked about) several years ago...that procrastinators are often perfectionists who don't start or finish projects because of a fear of imperfection. Ouch. As we used to say when we were kids, "I resemble that remark!"

Our little old ramshackle house is never going to be perfect...at least not while we live here! The frustration of "losing ground" over the last few years, after all the work we had put into it before, has been somewhat overwhelming and paralyzing in more recent months, since things have begun to calm down a bit and the time has come to hit the ground running on it again. Perfection isn't possible; "done" must become the goal. And my family will be blessed by the changes (and more than likely never notice the lack of perfection. :))

The second quote I came across was at The Nester's wonderfully inspiring blog, Nesting Place...

"It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful."

Another result of years of back-to-back family crisis is that I have allowed myself to go into permanent "survival mode". For so long I was forced to focus on "what had to be done" and ignore everything else, that that became a way of life. I had always been very aesthetically inclined, but after years of just being thankful that there was food on the table, it has been a struggle to get back in the mode of making that table an attractive place to eat. "Making things beautiful" was an overwhelming concept.

I'm craving beauty again. More importantly, I'm realizing that my *family* is craving beauty. And I want my children to remember beauty in their childhoods. Beauty is part of that "haven" that I want to create.

The Nesting Place has been such an inspiration in that regard. First, it is just full of eye candy for the home. Her creativity is amazing. Second, she makes beauty *possible*. She is so "real" about her complete lack of concern for perfection. I feel a bit of a kindred spirit with her...I think if we were ever to scrapbook together, she probably wouldn't measure things, either. :D

I've had an idea in the back of my mind for a while now, and I have decided that now is the time to translate that idea to action...and give myself a bit of motivation and accountability to follow through with it via the blog. :)

I'm starting a new project..."A Daily Touch of Beauty". I'm going to make a specific effort to do "one beautiful thing every day." It may be something small...pulling out the nice dishes for dinner or adding a centerpiece to the table, or something big...refinishing a piece of furniture, or creating a photo art piece for the wall. I'm not going to post every day, but I am going to try to update every week with a report on how I did, and a photo of at least one project from the week.

Stay tuned for next week's update as I continue to pursue contentment, work toward getting things "done, not perfect", and look for ways to add beauty in the process. . :) I'd love to hear your thoughts on contentment, or see links to "creatively imperfect" ways you've added beauty to your home.


One Little Word for 2009: Authentic

Last year, Heidi at Mt. Hope Chronicles inspired me with her "One Little Word" post. My word for 2008 was "Haven". In some ways, I made progress on my "Haven-related" goals; in others, I failed miserably. I'm going to continue to work on those goals in 2009.

2009's "One Little Word" was easy. I've been thinking about it for weeks. Actually, months ago I had several conversations in a row with various friends about the importance of "authenticity". The conversations started out about the importance of authenticity in raising our children, but God began to quickly convict me of its importance for *myself* in my relationship with Him.

So...my "One Little Word" for 2009 is


I want to be authentic in my relationship with God. To be authentic in my relationships with my husband and children. To be authentic in my parenting. To be authentic in my friendships. I want to lead my children to be authentic. I want them to have authentic relationships with God. I want them to make right decisions and do the right thing because they are walking with the Lord and want to please Him...not because of what "people" will see or think. I want to make progress in making our home an "authentic haven" both as a refuge for our family, and as an opportunity to practice hospitality to others.

It is so easy to fall into the habit of living in "what will people think?" mode. It is so easy to train our children so that others will be impressed with their obedience, or so that they won't embarrass us in public. We have seen "up close and personal" the dangers of allowing oneself to live behind a mask...looking good to others, and yet allowing evil a stronger and stronger foothold on the inside until it finally explodes into a firestorm that singes everyone in its vicinity. And yet, even with that object lesson indelibly imprinted on my heart...I struggle with being authentic myself. It's uncomfortable. It's hard. It's painful. It requires me to give up control of myself *completely* to the Holy Spirit...because I cannot truly live authentically in the flesh. And I don't give up control easily.

This post actually started out to simply be a list of links to blog posts I'd come across recently that I found worth sharing. As I compiled the list, I realized that almost all of the links I had planned to post related to the topic of authenticity. So although I hadn't planned to post my "One Little Word" post quite yet...here it is. :)

I Don't Want to Be a Witch Next Year: I'm not even sure how I happened upon this post, but Wow! was it convicting. How often do I tell my children that partial obedience is not obedience at all? How many sermons have I preached them on "To obey is better than sacrifice"? And yet how often do I try to "manipulate people or circumstances to get my way"...which the author convincingly points out is like practicing witchcraft??

I'm not sure how I arrived at the Ordinary Mother blog, either, but I'm so glad I did! I found some excellent food for thought on authenticity there:

Not Being But Becoming: What a great and thought-provoking quote from Martin Luther.

Being Not Seeming: I realized as I read this post how God has used the difficult circumstances of the past few years to "expose where I am lacking" and to give me a heart-desire for authenticity in my life. Excellent post on being *genuinely* about His glory...not just seeming like we are.

A Convicting Little Rhyme: I'm thinking that the original rhyme as well as Ordinary Mother's rewrite would be excellent candidates for our *next* Mega Memory project.

Humbling Holidays: Authenticity and humility go hand in hand. I have more thoughts on this post; hopefully before the end of January I'll get my "Christmas Reflections" posted. :)

"Authentic" is defined as "not false or copied; genuine; real: an authentic antique."

While that is the definition I had in mind when I selected it as my "One Little Word" for 2009, I was interested to find this definition as well:

"having the origin supported by unquestionable evidence; authenticated; verified: an authentic document of the Middle Ages; an authentic work of the old master. "

We are an "authentic work" of The Master; the Holy Spirit verifies (seals) us. The question I need to ask myself daily is "Is there 'unquestionable evidence' in my life of my origin?" Unfortunately, most days, I wouldn't like the answer to that question.

"These have come so that your faith
—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—
may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor
when Jesus Christ is revealed."
1 Peter 1:7 (New International Version)
"The purpose of these troubles is to test your faith as fire tests how genuine gold is. Your faith is more precious than gold, and by passing the test, it gives praise, glory, and honor to God. This will happen when Jesus Christ appears again."
1 Peter 1:7 (God's Word Translation)
"Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good."
Romans 12:9 (New American Standard Bible)


FOR TODAY.. January 5, 2009

Outside my window... Gray and cold.

I am thinking... about plans for the new year.

I am thankful for... my sweet family and wonderful friends, a kitchen full of food, rest and fun last week, a new year.

From the learning rooms... getting "back in the swing of things" this week after the break.

From the kitchen... leftover brisket for lunch, tacos for supper, and hopefully some bulk baking this week for breakfasts and snacks.

I am wearing... Dark green sweats...it's cold in here!

I am creating... lists, lists, lists! :) All kinds of plans for the new year for home, school, schedule, projects.

I am going... to run errands earlier than expected today...hoping to beat the icy rain that appears to be headed this way. Ugh! :)

I am reading... finishing the third book in Karen Kingsbury's 9/11 series, and then starting on my 999 reading list.

I am hoping... for a peaceful, productive week.

I am hearing... children working on their chores.

Around the house... New Year cleaning, straightening, purging, organizing.

One of my favorite things... paper and pens (I know, that's two, but I'm obsessed with both. :))

A few plans for the rest of the week: A solid week of school. Noticeable progress on the house. Food planned and prepared in a timely manner. Back to our normal Wednesday schedule at church.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...So *many* possibilities here...but I must restrain myself to keep from getting into trouble. :) So, I'll limit it to this picture of Bayley playing the Wii at a friend's birthday/slumber party this weekend. I'm not sure who ended up having more fun, the girls or the chaperones. :)

Thanks to Peggy at The Simple Woman for hosting the Daybook each week!!


999 Challenge Book List

Last year I had planned to participate in the 888 Challenge...8 books in 8 categories in 2008. It didn't happen. This year, LibraryThing is hosting the 999 Challenge...9 books in 9 categories in 2009. I'm not sure if I will *officially* sign up for the challenge, but I decided to use the challenge as the basis for a reading list for 2009. (I'm planning to do a similar list for reading I want to do with the kids this year...hopefully I'll get it posted later this week.)

My list still has a few gaps, but it's a start:

Spiritual Growth
Man of Faith (Stedman)
Our Covenant God (Arthur)
The Holiness of God (Sproul)
Pursuit of Holiness (Bridges)
When All Hell Breaks Loose (Lawson)
Dangerous Duty of Delight (Piper)
Loving God with All Your Mind (George)
A Heart Like His (Moore)
When Heaven is Silent (Dunn)

Christian Women
As Unto the Lord (Forster)
My Heart's At Home (Savage)
Professionalizing Motherhood (Savage)
Seasons of a Mother's Heart (Clarkson)
With My Whole Heart (Mains)

Heart of Anger (Priolo)
Parenting of Champions (Lucas)
Keeping Our Children's Hearts (Maxwell)
Failure to Connect (Healy)
Faith Training (White)
Raising a Modern-Day Knight (Lewis)
Ten Things Parents Must Teach Their Children (Schaeffer) ###

Homeschooling With a Meek and Quiet Spirit (Maxwell)
Heart of Wisdom (Sampson)
Educating the Whole-Hearted Child (Clarkson)
Teaching the Trivium (Bluedorn)
Preparing Sons (Maxwell)
Life Skills for Kids (Field) ###

Hidden Art (Schaeffer)
Raising Musical Kids (Kavanaugh)
Keeping House (Peterson) ###
Life Organizer (Louden) ###
The Creative Call (Elsheimer) ###
The Creative Life (Bass) ###
Designing Your Home on a Budget (Barnes) ###
Line By Line (Cook)
Frugal Luxuries By the Seasons (McBride) ###

Dearest Friend (Lynne)
Memoirs of Robert E. Lee
Slander (Coulter)
Letters of Samuel Rutherford ###
Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Beecher Preachers (Fritz)
Slouching Toward Gomorrah (Bork)
A Country I Do Not Recognize (Bork) ###
A Court Divided (Tushnet)

Encouraging Words
Treasures of Heaven in the Stuff of Earth (Mason)
Faithlift (Mason)
The Beautiful Ache (McLeroy)
The Sacred Ordinary (McLeroy)
The Consolations of Imperfection (McCollough) ###

Books From Other People's Reading Lists
Mentoring Mom (Kendall) ###
Church History in Plain Language (Shelley) ###
Treasuring God in Our Traditions (N. Piper) ###
Don't Waste Your Life (J. Piper) ###
Organizing for the Creative Person (Lemhkuhl) ###
How to Study Your Bible (Arthur) ###
Holiness By Grace (Chapell) ###

Why We Aren't Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be (DeYoung, Kluck) ###
Keeping the Sabbath Wholly (Dawn) ###
A New Kind of Normal (Kent) ###

### = Books not currently in my library; I plan to read these if I can find at the library or purchase.

Big Rocks First...

I guess perhaps it is fitting that I start a post on order and priorities with a confession: I still have a Christmas post brewing...one that I started weeks before Christmas, that has been rattling around in my brain and adding layers like a snowball ever since. I *will* eventually post it, but the list of "New Year" posts to be posted is growing, so I'm going to go ahead and jump in to it and come back to the Christmas post later. My blog will match my scrapbooks...unabashedly non-chronological. :)

I love the week between Christmas and New Year's...well, actually the time between Christmas and "whenever people go back to school and/or work." When I was younger, that was always an exciting week because it was my birthday week. :) That excitement has become decidedly less over the past few years. ;-) The other reason I've always loved that time is that for us, it has always been a "breather week"...a time when the crazy pace of the holidays slows to a crawl and thoughts turn to planning for the new year.

This year we ended up with a few more things on the agenda during that time than usual...albeit many of them last-minute additions, and most of them just fun. :) I've done a lot of planning in my head in the last couple of weeks, while washing dishes, driving the car, or drying my hair. I'm a little behind at transferring some of that planning to paper...something I hope to remedy this afternoon. (Those who know me know I *must* have my lists. :))

I've been pondering priorities, scheduling, and planned projects, trying to figure out the best plan for "fitting things in" in the upcoming months. I am convicted about changes that need to be made in my quiet time. Our school schedule needs a bit of an overhaul. Our grocery budget *must* be reined in; I've relied waaay too much on convenience foods over recent months. I *must* get back to making and sticking to a plan in this area, from budgeting to making menus to actually *cooking* what I plan. Home-improvement projects, creative pursuits, getting aggressive about dealing with my health issues...and the list goes on and on. All good, all necessary. All rather overwhelming, if approached in *my* strength.

I'll be posting more about plans, prayers, and ponderings in the area of "getting it together in the new year", but for this morning, I thought I would share another encouraging and convicting blog post from Ann Voskamp. I've read and heard and seen and even taught the illustration she uses. And yet...I am continually tossing small rocks in one after another, and then at the end of the day, fighting frustration over the fact that "I never have time" for the big ones. It's one of those areas in which I can almost *hear* my friend Kecia's dad saying, "Remember What You Know". How easily we forget.

This post is such an excellent reminder. I need to make it my home page and read it every morning! I am *so* bad about wasting the "15 minutes" of time here and there that could add up to progress in so many areas. I need to be reminded every day of the value of those small pockets of time. And I love the fact that she considers "creative pursuits" to be a "big rock". Creativity is such a high priority for me on the *inside* (which is another blog post of it's very own :)); why do I feel guilty about making it an actual priority on our schedule?? I also love her prayer at the end...my heart's cry for the year ahead.


Mega Memory Month: January Edition!!

Last October, the children and I participated in Ann Kroeker's first "Mega Memory Month" challenge.   We learned Psalm 1 and Robert Louis Stevenson's "My Shadow".  It was a great experience for us, and just the motivation we needed to tackle some longer pieces by memory.  (More on our Mega Memory Month experiences can be found here.) 

I was so excited when Ann announced that she would be hosting a new challenge this month.  December has been a crazy month, and the motivation and accountability of this challenge should be a great help in getting back on track with the new year.  

We started working on the Beatitudes before Christmas, but then got sidetracked with another "Mega" memory project...Peter and Bayley learning their rather *long* parts for the children's choir Christmas musical.  

So..we are going to get back to the Beatitudes...Matthew 5:3-12.  It's been so long, and we had learned so little to begin with, it will be like starting from scratch, I'm afraid. 

3"Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 
 4Blessed are those who mourn, 
      for they will be comforted. 
 5Blessed are the meek, 
      for they will inherit the earth. 
 6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, 
      for they will be filled. 
 7Blessed are the merciful, 
      for they will be shown mercy. 
 8Blessed are the pure in heart, 
      for they will see God. 
 9Blessed are the peacemakers, 
      for they will be called sons of God. 
 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, 
      for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

~Matthew 5:3-12

We are also going to try another poem.  Even though we didn't *officially* finish "My Shadow" in October, we enjoyed working on it, and I was amazed that they learned quite a bit of it independently...Emlyn actually ended up learning the entire poem!   So...our January poem will be "Grammar in a Nutshell".   I found it in a poetry book my aunt gave me for Christmas when I was about 7, The Home Book of Verse for Young Folks, by B.E. Stevenson.  It has been much used and well-loved. :)

Grammar in a Nutshell

Three little words you often see  
Are articles - an, a, and the.

A noun is the name of anything  
As school, or garden, hoop, or swing.

Adjectives tell the kind of noun,  As great, small, pretty, white, or brown.

Instead of nouns the pronouns stand -  
Her head, his face, your arm, my hand.

Verbs tell of something being done -  
To read, count, laugh, sing, jump, or run.

How things are done the adverbs tell,  As slowly, quickly, ill, or well.

Conjunctions join the words together  
As men and women, wind or weather.

The prepositions stand before  
A noun, as in or through the door.

The interjections show surprise  As Oh! How pretty!  Ah! How wise!

The whole are called the nine parts of speech,  
Which reading, writing, speaking teach.


We are excited about starting our MMM work on Monday!  Many thanks to Ann for hosting again!!