Finding the Lovely {Week 1}

Last year for the month of February I had fun with a weekly post called ‘Finding the Lovely’. You can check out last year’s Finding the Lovely posts here.

It was part of being intentional about finding and SEEING the loveliness each week and capturing it spontaneously….on my phone’s camera. To stop and SEE all the fun, lovely things that happen each week. It’s fun…why don’t you join me!? I lt was great at the end of the week to look back over what I’d quickly documented…..and have proof of all the wonderful, lovely blessings that have happened throughout the week. Even if I feel like it’s been a rough or ‘bad’ week…..when I look back over what I’ve documented, it’s proof that even rough weeks are full of loveliness.  And at the end of weeks that I think have been wonderful….I get to look back over and remember. There is always loveliness to be noticed…it’s everywhere.

I challenge you to try it. As you go through your day capture things on your phone’s camera….anything that makes you smile or that you think is lovely, fun, etc. At the end of the week go back and look through all those things. Focus on the lovely. The gifts. The blessings that find you each day.

For the next several Fridays I thought I would share my Finding the Lovely right here.

For this week…….

Finding the Lovely - Week 1

Art brushes….they make my heart sing!

Getting the first spoonful of peanut butter =)

A little spring on the table on a super cold day….

Words of comfort and encouragement

A gorgeous sky on my early morning run

Getting to do some mini art with my new art pencils for someone that needed encouraging

A wonderful gift of 48 vintage, wooden, folding chairs….have always wanted some of these!

A barn full of treasures…waiting to be loved again

A daughter’s beautiful music….it always ministers to me

Belgian waffles for dinner

A fun daughter….love spending time with her

Having a frappuccino girls’ afternoon date!

A fun game of Chinese checkers with the whole family

Ice crystals sparkling

Chinese delivery in front of the fire during an ice storm

Daffodils saved from the ice and sitting on the sill

May you have a weekend full of finding the lovely~

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Silent and Listen……

Over the past several weeks I’ve been working on listening better. Letting there be silence. It’s not my forte…..so I have to really work hard at it.

As Handsome and I have been working on regrouping….and getting excited about what that may bring……I’ve really tried to be silent. To hear God’s voice better. For things to be more clear…..and several days ago as I wrote in my journal I realized something:

Silent and Listen have the exact same letters.

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{source}

I’ve always enjoyed having solitude…getting away from all the hustle, bustle, demands, noise, etc. But if I’m not intentional….I can’t ever get away from the noise in my head—the ramblings, ideas, plans, what ifs…….even in solitude there can be distractions and noise. We may think it’s hard to get away from others….but it’s even harder to get away from ourselves……and be silent……and listen. Rest. Trust.

Trying to be silent and listen~

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Turning Toward the Light…..

I don’t know about you…but I sometimes focus on the things that aren’t really important. I can get caught up in circumstances and how things seem….and trying to do things through my own strength. On my own. Focusing on my abilities and weaknesses…and letting them determine the success or failures of my days or weeks.

I lose perspective.

I get off track.

And I wear myself out.

Those of you that have been with me for a while know how much I LOVE hydrangeas.  Our garden is full of all kinds…. and when they are in bloom our cottage is filled with them.

Several weeks ago I had them in every room …. and they were all so pretty.  Big, beautiful blooms standing tall and brightening every spot that they graced.

But there was this little one. It was a bit different. It was just as beautiful as all the others…but it didn’t seem to be trying to impress anyone or show off its beauty.

No matter where I put it, it turned toward the light. I would turn it around and by the end of the day it had craned its beautiful neck to turn back to wherever the strongest amount of light was.

After a week or so all the other hydrangeas around the house had dried or wilted…they were spent and needed to be replaced. They had been beautiful, and strived and toiled each day to appear so.

But this little one….that turned toward the light? Well, it stayed fresh and beautiful for over 6 weeks! It never wilted. When it did dry…..it kept its full color and was still standing tall.

I learned a lot from this little hydrangea. I need to be like this little hydrangea. I need to keep my focus on the Light {God} and not on what is going on around me. If I keep my focus on Him no matter what the circumstances……I won’t wilt. I won’t lose my color. I will keep the right perspective through all situations.

I don’t need to try to figure everything out. I just need to stay focused on the One that already has it figured out.

As stubborn and hard-headed as I am……this little hydrangea got through to me. 😉

Refocusing~

One Year Ago Today…..

Today is our first day of school. I’m a bit more ready this year than last.  We are starting under much different circumstances than last year.  One year ago today Hurricane Irene came through our city and felled a 150 foot oak tree onto our cottage. It was quite a day. We were very blessed…none of us were hurt, and the cottage could be repaired. Nevertheless, it was very stressful. I shared this story last year about what I learned from

Irene and Billy Joe Bob……

August 27, 2011:

Well.  We made it through Hurricane Irene.  Our city looks like a war zone.  The damage is horrendous.  Had no idea.  The university here has shut down. {Universities usually don’t shut down–unless the chancellor can’t walk across the street from his house to his office.}

For us, personally:

a 150+ foot {I originally thought it was only 75!} oak tree fell onto our cottage

we lost numerous parts of our English cottage garden

various other damage throughout the yard and exterior

BUT, we are OK.  That’s what is most important.

We all worked like horses all day and into the evening trying to get things to where we could function and cleaned up.

{Best Boot Camp workout out there!  I was tired of my daily workout routine, anyway!}

BUT, before that……I sat in a corner of the dining room and cried.

And ate Pumpkin Cheesecake.

thought it helped.  Because, once I had finished it—I stood up, pulled my boot straps tied-together tie-dyed jumpsuit straps, with the big hole on my backside up……I was ready to get on with it. {At least I thought.}

Not long into our work….it appeared.

I was stressed.  I was worn out.  I was sad.  I was disappointed.

No one could do anything correctly.

I opened my mouth and acid spewed all over my family.

I cried again.

A bit later I confessed. I apologized. I hugged.

But I thought…..did I leave any scars?  Maybe if I had cried in the corner and chewed on God’s word and promises instead of Pumpkin Cheesecake–just maybe the acid would have been a bit more neutralized.

Flash forward many hours…..and Billy-Joe-Bob arrived to work on getting the tree off the house.

I’m not sure—but I think he had one tooth.

From the time he arrived acid spewed from his mouth in all directions.  In fact, acid spewed from his being—even when he didn’t even open his mouth.

He was the most angry/hateful/bitter-actng person I think I have ever been around.

He didn’t like me.

And, I didn’t really like him.

I offered to get him something to drink.  He cursed at me.

I offered to get him a cold rag when he knocked a hole in the top of his head.

He cursed at me.

I said ‘Thank you’.  He cursed at me.

As he worked—I watched and observed.

What in the world would make someone so full of acidic stench??

How does he live like that?

I kept observing…he already didn’t like me, so I flat out stared at times.  Intently.

I learned something from Billy-Joe-Bob yesterday.

I learned that I don’t want to be like that. But I was earlier in the day.

And I realized that a life filled with acid comes from running to Pumpkin Cheesecake, alcohol, tobacco, people, talents, gifts, shopping……. ANYTHING other than the God waiting to restore and fill us up with what we need to get through.

Yep.  I watched Billy-Joe-Bob. And I don’t want to be him.

{And I’m not just referring to the one tooth!?}

Next time I head for the corner of the dining room it won’t be with Pumpkin Cheesecake.

{I’ll save that for when I come out!}

Today….I’m very thankful for:

safety

help with all our needs

my family—-with me

Billy-Joe-Bob

the new vast amount of sunshine coming into my garden

large holes in the ground….maybe for a pond?

a fresh start

a fresh outlook

a new day

Blessings to your Monday~

“The Walk” {A Post by Handsome}

Handsome is a great writer…….and he wrote this special ‘allegory’ several years ago. I hope it blesses you as much as it has blessed the others that it has been shared with.

A great reminder of staying close to our Father…and how patient He is with us. Something to ponder for you weekend………

fathers and sons

{source}

The Walk

copyright 2004, Keith Pitman

I can remember early in life when I went for a walk with my Dad.  We walked and talked, sang and laughed, and played—and had lots of fun.  My Dad was bigger than anybody and could do anything.
My Dad was never in a hurry, he walked at my pace.  When I slowed down, so did he.  When I went fast, there he was beside me. I remember times when I would turn circles on our walk.
Sometimes I would do so many I would fall down.  But whenever I did, if I lost site of my Dad, he would be right there beside me; and in his still soft voice say “Here I am”.  Smiling, he would help me up and we would continue our walk.
It was on this walk that all of a sudden I stepped right into a puddle.  Now this was something new. Water splashed up, my feet got wet.  It was a strange feeling—frightening and exciting at the same time.  Whatever the feeling was…I decided I liked it.
I remember looking up and seeing puddles everywhere.  Some big, some small, some clear, some muddy.  It was at this moment that I knew this was going to be fun.  As we continued walking I would step into these puddles on purpose.  Then, the next thing I knew I found myself walking aimlessly along that path being sure not to miss a puddle.
 I shuffled my feet through them, stomped in them, marched in them, baby stepped, ran, hopping, jumping… and any other way I could to pass through them.
AND THEN. There it was…the biggest and muddiest puddle yet seen on that walk.  And without hesitation I jumped right in, sat down, and had a good time.  I splashed and threw mud then I laid down and rolled around.
After a while I remembered that I was on a walk with my Dad.  I stood up and looked the way we had come and didn’t see him.  I guess my Dad knew I was looking for him and in his still soft voice said, “Here I am.” There he was on the other side of that puddle waiting to continue our walk.
I jumped out of the puddle and remember looking in his eyes and seeing disappointment.  Suddenly I was ashamed at what I had done, and could not look at him.  But I remember him wiping me off and cleaning me up.  And when I looked at his face again, there was that smile.
We started walking again and before I knew it I was on the ground.  I had stepped into a hole.  This was something new.  I remember holding my Dad’s hand and jumping over these holes.  Some little, some bigger, some shallow, and some deep.  I jumped over and over these holes.
I had, at sometime during this jump fest, let go of my Dad’s hand.  Not bothered by this I continued jumping over these holes…but now they seemed to get harder to jump over.  I wasn’t sure if Dad had been helping me or was I just getting tired and couldn’t jump as hard.  But whatever the case I had just gotten into a GIANT hole.
I was determined to jump it on my own.  I’d jump and miss, so went back and jumped again.  And I missed again.  Over and over I tried to jump that hole…but could never manage.  I was going to try one more time—and get a running start.  I jumped higher and farther and harder than before; and when I came down I landed flat on my face…not any closer to the other side than any other time.  It was then that I realized that it was my Dad who had been helping jump these holes.  Then I heard it! “Here I am..”  I looked up and there was my Dad ready to help me up, and waiting to continue our walk.
As we started walking again I looked around and saw the most interesting things on both sides of the path.  Beautiful things…natural things like flowers and trees and rocks and animals.  Things I had never, or thought I had never, seen before.  I became distracted and wanted to get a closer look at these things; I went from one side of the path to the other to get a better look.
They were so beautiful that I wondered what I had missed along the way; so I thought I’d go back to make sure I hadn’t missed anything really interesting.  After a while, I remembered that I was on a walk with Dad.  How selfish of me to go back to see the things I didn’t see before…and leave my Dad while I did this.  It was at that moment that I heard these still soft words,  “Here I am”.  I turned around and there was my Dad right there beside me—still ready to walk.
After I turned around, and we started to walk again, I looked around me and saw all the obstacles—the puddles, the potholes, and the distractions.  They all had been there all along…the whole time on the whole walk.  And then I realized that at the beginning of my walk, when all my attention had been on my Dad…the talking, laughing, singing, and playing…all my focus on him, I missed every one of them.  More importantly, I recognized that as long as I’m paying attention to my Dad we seem to miss all the obstacles.
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Enjoy your walk~

Through the Storms…..

For your weekend I wanted to share an amazing picture with you. I just love it.  It was sent to me and I don’t know who the photographer is or how to credit it. {If it is you or you know who to credit..please let me know.}

Psalm 91:4

It reminds me of Psalm 91:4…..

“He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.”

We don’t need to fear about tomorrow…because God is already there. Storms may be raging, but we are tucked up under His wing.

I don’t know about you…but I need to be reminded of that. Often.

I have times of feeling like I’ve fallen off the branch, and I’m flailing toward the ground.

But I’m not…it’s just the wind blowing around me. I just need to sit tight.

Anyone else need to be reminded of this?

In the feathers~

Briars {In the Garden and Life}

I don’t like to wear gloves when I garden.

But we have these pesky briars that grow in many places throughout our garden.

I tried and tried to figure out how to pull them up without having to put on my gloves and I was pricked every time.

Then I starting thinking….I wonder if the briars go all the way down to the roots???? So, I dug a little around the root and realized that there were none once you reached down under all the soil….all the way to the root. But you had to get dirty.

God has always used nature, gardening, art….to speak to me and teach me lessons. As I was pulling several briars up a while ago I realized that there is such a wonderful parallel in life…something that I need to be reminded of often.

People can have briars just like these pesky weeds. You know, they are the ones you don’t enjoy being around, that get on your nerves, that are always grumpy……

You feel like you have to ‘put on your gloves’ to deal with them….or stay far away.

It seems as if they are weeds in the garden of life.

But the truth is…..way down by the root, there are no briars….usually just some soft wounds.  The briars are their protection…or what they THINK is their protection.

If we are willing to get dirty….and get below the briars we can see a whole different ‘plant’.

One that was very different when it started growing.

This perspective has helped me a lot when dealing with the ‘briars’ that cross my path….in life and in the garden.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend~

Just Like Air….God is There.

I do not know why…but lately I have really been struggling with anxiety.

It’s strange…because it is not normal for me. You know, Miss Independent, strong-willed, conquerer, stubborn, take the bull by the horns, not afraid of anything {except clowns and formerly pumpkins}, hard-headed, *ahem* motivated trail blazer me. I’ve just never really been anxious. It’s new territory for me.

Today has really been a horribly anxious day….feeling overwhelmed with so many things!

So I sat my little self down in the porch swing…..and worked on quieting myself. You know..the many voices in my head *ahem* the many thoughts running through my mind.

This is what I saw straight ahead….

….the flag gently blowing in the breeze down at the other end of the porch.

I longed to be like that flag….moving gently with the tossing of winds…riding the very thing that topples and destroys others.

Watching the flag move gently with each breeze I noticed that even when the wind whipped up….it didn’t get all tied or knotted up….it continued to keep its rhythm and grace. It used the wind to contribute to its beauty.

It also reminded me that ‘Just Like Air…God is There…’ Even when I can’t feel Him or see Him…..He is there for me.  When the winds blow and I’m being tossed about…if I will rest in Him I, too, can be as graceful as the flag on my porch even in the biggest of winds.

I’ll keep working on this anxiety that has come upon me lately…..and when I need to I’ll go out to the porch and let the flag remind me that

the winds are for riding…not succumbing to.

I hope your weekend is full of relaxing moments on the porch..with a big glass of lemonade or Sweet Tea {we capitalize that here in the South…it’s a proper noun}.

In the porch swing~

The Worst Four-Letter Word Ever…..

As I looked around our cottage the other day

I saw these things:

Garden stakes waiting to be used or packaged…..

 Napkins waiting to be shipped out….

 Vintage chalkboards waiting to be put together…..

 Waiting for these inanimate objects is no big deal.  They would do it forever…doesn’t bother them a bit.  They would stay right there until they rot.

But me? The worst four-letter word in the world is:

WAIT

Arrrrrrrrgggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

I’m just not of the encampment variety…..I like to move ahead, blaze trails, hit the road.

But definitely not wait.

We’ve always told our children that there are three answers to a question:

1. Yes

2. No

3. Not right now {a.k.a. wait}

It’s their least favorite, too.

For some reason our human skin feels like acid has been poured on it when we hear that word……so why is it so important? What purpose does waiting serve? When God has put me in a waiting spot…waiting for my prayers to be answered, etc…..why is that?

I tried to think of it on the flip side….when I am the one saying ‘wait’ as a parent.

 As hard as it is..waiting serves an important purpose.  Maybe we are being prepared…we’re not quite ready for what we are asking for or waiting on.

Or maybe we simply need to rest…God knows it, but we don’t. We’re weary and He knows that it’s not time to forge ahead and move on; but time to just rest and be renewed.

Maybe we are healing….and that takes time.

Maybe it’s simply that it’s not time yet for whatever it is we think we want or need.

Maybe it’s for protection…..there could be a storm ahead…

True musicians know that the real music is found in the pauses {the waits}; without them it wouldn’t be music at all.  Your waits are creating your lifesong….without them it would just be noise.

How do you feel about waiting…is it easy or hard for you?

Several years ago one of our Christmas cards was about waiting…..you can read it here, if you’d like. 🙂

Trying to be patient~

How Does Your Bible Garden Grow…..{Part 1}

When we moved into Oak Cottage one of the first things we did was to begin work on the yard…..and to start our garden.  Even after 16 years it is still not complete and is in process…but it has come a long way.

When our little ones were toddlers and preschoolers we liked to come up with neat ways to teach them God’s Word, about their world, and create fun ways to remember scriptures and Bible truths and stories.  We wanted to paint pictures for them….

We did this in many ways….but our favorite has been our Bible Garden.

All throughout our English cottage garden we have peppered plants, herbs, flowers, trees, etc. that are referenced in scripture, and that grow in the Holy Land.

I thought I would share them with you in two posts.

We have several Scotch Broom in our garden.  We have the yellow variety, pink, and orange. These bushes are referenced in 1 Kings 19:4, Job 30:4, and Psalm 120:4.

Some translations have mistakenly translated the Hebrew word ‘rothem’ into ‘juniper’. But upon further study this is incorrect. ‘Rothem’ was actually the Arab’s translation of ‘rotem’…closer to ‘broom’. When visiting the Holy Land you find that the true translation is ‘broomtree’ and that Scotch Broom grows abundantly in many places. It casts little shadow and would only be used for shade in dire circumstances, but it is used for making charcoal, brooms, and for burning. {It also smells heavenly!}

The Flowering Almond {sorry, it had already finished blooming when I took the pic!} is reference in Ecclesiastes 121:5:

“…the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails; because all must go to their eternal home…..”

Bay Laurel is the Bible’s ‘oil tree’

Cedar is referenced MANY times in the Bible…here is just a few places: Amos 2:9, 2 Kings 19:23, 2 Kings 14:9, Song of Solomon 5:15, Ezekiel 31:3-5, Psalm 104:16, Psalms 92:12…..

Fig…well, we all know that these great big leaves were used by Adam and Eve..but the Fig Tree is mentioned many times in the Bible….Genesis 3:7, Deuteronomy 8:8, Numbers 13:23, Numbers 20:5, Psalms 105:33……

It only takes a quick ride among the mountain villages of Palestine to see the extensive fig gardens….and realize how devastating it would be for these slow growing trees to be destroyed. It takes several years of nurturing before they bear fruit.

Garlic was known to the ancient Egyptians…and was probably one of the delights in which the Israelites longed for in Numbers 11:5. It was/is used for stews.

Grape Hyacinths are small bulb flowers that are referred to as ‘lilies’ in the Holy Land. Song 6:2-3

Purple Iris is also referred to as a ‘lily’ in the Holy Land….Hosea 14:5

Roman Chamomile…one of the Holy Lands ‘flowers of the field’…..Isaiah 40:6 “All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field.”

Dill grows in lands bordering the Mediterranean…it is mentioned that this plant {Hebrew ‘shabhath’} is subject to tithe…it’s stems, leaves, and seed.

I’ll share the others in another post…don’t want to bog you down with a super long post.

This has been such a neat way to teach our children so many truths over the years. They’ve SEEN how the lily fades….here today, gone tomorrow. They’ve SEEN how strong the cedar is…when the other trees bend and break in the hurricanes. They’ve TASTED the strong dill and other herbs…and realized how important they are to our dinners; and we’ve cut 10% of them away to see what a tithe looks like; they’ve helped NURTURE a fig tree for years before seeing any fruit for their labor….and then cherished it and reaped the benefits. It’s been a neat journey that we are still on…..

{You can read Part 2 here}

Do you or someone you know have a Bible Garden?

Blessings~

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