Friday, January 3, 2020

Farmhouse, Cottage style

Wow, it has been a long time since I have shared a post. 
Truth is I am so much better at making elaborate plans than following them!! This year my planning is less, but I have some FOCUSED intentions!! More about that in another post. 

As I clean through my house, no noise except my own thoughts, and I have a lot of them!!

Some things have come to me.  I have let magazines, HGTV, and Pinterest define style for a long time!

I love Johanna Gaines, but I have come to realize that her style, while it is called farmhouse style does not fit with my memories of farmhouse style.  It's important to note here I am a farmers daughter, I grew up on farms in "farm houses."  We did not hang farm tools on our walls and we did not cut up barn wood to make signs.  I love the look and if Johanna Gaines offered to redo my house, I'd reply with a "Yes, Mame, please do." and if it is your style I would love to drink that special kind of family cozy in along with a fresh cup of hot coffee and lots of chatter and laughter.  Also, my idea of the perfect girl date.

My idea of farm house and cottage style goes back to a summer I stayed with my great aunt & uncle.  I think I stayed for a week, but it could have been just a weekend.  I haven't thought of that place or them in years.  But this morning as I cleaned my home the memories came flooding back.  Maybe it happened when I put on my apron, maybe when I rebooted the laundry, but it all came back the sights, the smells, the sunshine through the windows, everything.  I have to admit it took longer for the names of my aunt and uncle to come to mind.  For any family members who might read this blog I am talking about Aunt Midge and Uncle Gene.

Their house was cottage to me.  The downstairs was actually just two rooms, on one side a kitchen and dining area.  The other side, separated by the stairs on one end and a tiny bathroom on the other, was the living room/sitting room.  This home was a tiny little cottage, and it was also a farmhouse.  It had a true farmhouse sink, cast iron, double sink with attached drain boards.  It may have been the only cabinetry and counter space in that little kitchen.  I do remember a floor to ceiling cupboard unit spanning one end wall, built in wainscoting style.  And that was the first time I ever saw pegboard in use.  A large panel of it stood on one wall and held so many kitchen items, and my aunts apron.  My aunt also had a modern washer  :-) Every morning she pulled this portable contraption up to the sink and hooked it up to the faucet.  It was small probably meant to be used in apartments.  But there was only two of them most of the time.  I don't remember a dryer.

There were flowers in a mason jar or tall drinking glass, whichever fit the best and was handy.  They were fresh cut by uncle and lovingly place in their vase by my aunt.  They were like their home simple country folks.  Their home held more stuff than the minimalist movement would appreciate, but it didn't feel cluttered it felt homey.  Every piece held a memory for them.  They had endured hardship and loss and sunshine and rain.  I remember a table in the living room with a puzzle on it.  This was entertainment, never to be rushed to "finish" the puzzle, instead it was there to ponder, search and enjoy for a few minutes or even a long hour in the slow moments of the day. 

The order of the day served the needs and people of that house.  Seed time and harvest, cooking, cleaning, all of it had a purpose and no one seemed to question if what they did mattered.  They didn't spend hours arranging the perfect flower arrangement, that used what they had and it was perfect!
I don't remember them complaining about the work, and I didn't see them rushing to do, to go, to be, they just did the next necessary thing. 

So that is what my heart's desire is chasing this year, 2020.  To FOCUS on the slow, deliberate work of each day.  To listen for God's still small voice and obey.  With God's help I desire to create a home that is lovely in the truest sense of the word.  One like my Aunt and Uncle's that welcomed me into their space and their lives, even if only for a season. 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Enjoying My Life

Since this is the last day of January, I better get my January blog post up!!

photo of 2019 light art

I have decided to enjoy my life more in 2019.  Now before you think this is another one of those me first blog posts, let me explain.

I have been wrestling with this new year differently than past years. Some years the expectancy of the new year and all it brings is almost tangible.  Other years a word for the new year comes powerfully to mind, and is confirmed over and over again. This year, meh.  Do I want to choose a half hearted word?  Do I want to make any resolutions?  What am I actually expecting this new year to bring?  What do I want the new year to bring?

I started a list of things I would like to accomplish in 2019.  Then I started a bucket list of sorts...a list of things I would hear the kids say they enjoyed.  Much of the list making leaned towards living more intentionally for the new year, "intentional" there's a word.

two white and beige pens on white paper

I have also been listening to podcasts and audible books on minimalism, and simple living.  Oh, "simplicity" there's a word.  What about, "growth" & "change"?  All good words, but somehow I just couldn't embrace them and run towards a year defined by one of those words.

Then while making homemade pizza it hit me.  I can enjoy everyday of my life!  The secret is doing things I enjoy everyday.  I'm not talking about pampering myself everyday.  But being true to my truest self.  True to the woman God created me to be.  What are the things I enjoy?  What are the things that make me feel good? What are the things that bring value to my life?  What is stopping me from doing more of them?

kitchen utensil lot on brown wooden floating shelf

I have been reflecting on this and will probably write more about it in future blogs.

Here's a partial list of the things that bring me joy...ordinary everyday...enjoyment and pleasure:

  • cooking and baking from scratch
  • sewing
  • reading to my children
  • snuggling with my husband
  • writing this blog
  • quiet time with God, reading my Bible and praying, listening for His still small voice. 
  • long baths 
  • lunches with friends
These are in no particular order and the list could be endless.  I didn't include things like the smell of my child's hair after playing outside or the feel of warm water on my hands when I wash dishes.

I am realizing that when we chase the perfect, the exciting, the extraordinary, we miss the everyday joys.  For me, I think my life will be more enjoyable if I take delight in the everyday, ordinary, life giving moments. When I embrace what brings a heart flutter to me, instead of chasing what I am supposed to be doing.  Instead of chasing the latest decorating trends, or lists of what the "ideal" woman should be doing, eating, wearing, etc.

I will be intentional about simplifying my life, but not with someone else's list.  I am going to ask God to show me what to let go of and what to embrace and enjoy, even if it doesn't look like what every other woman is keeping or doing.

white and red ceramic bowl

It has taken me years to realize that I cook from scratch, because I want to, I enjoy it.  Yes, it saves my family money, and is much healthier, but that is not my truest motivation.  You see I will splurge to eat at a restaurant, I will drive through a fast food restaurant, and even eat a hot dog, gasp.  I'm not a purist, I am looking more into health and weight loss, but my primary reason I cook from scratch is simple.  God created me to be creative, and cooking gives me a chance to be creative every single day.

I don't enjoy when I put a lot of myself into cooking a special meal and my child won't even taste it, but focusing on the process and the joy of cooking can overcome that if I choose to do it.

On the surface my life may not change much in 2019, or will it?  What I hope will change is how much I enjoy my everyday, ordinary, amazing life. 

bunch of white petaled flowers

And I pray each and everyone of you will do the same and join me in enjoying your life, everyday!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Re thinking the blog

Looking back on the last year or so I have realized that this blog is not quite what I want it to be, so I am going to be changing some things in the new year.

selective focus of red flowers

I posted some content last year, that was not fully "me."  All of it is part of our journey, but some of the blog posts were not specific to why I started this blog.  Most importantly, I feel like they weren't what God wanted me to be saying.  

There is content all over the internet for cleaning your home, creating daily schedules, meal planning, Trim Healthy Mama, etc. etc.  I will still share those things, because they are part of our journey.  I just feel like I started this blog to share the story of our wounded hearts.  I really don't know if there are other blogs focused on this specific topic and journey....I haven't found them.  

I want to tell our story.  The story of trauma, brokenness, gains and losses, bitter sweet moments, and crazy moments...I want to share above all else the healing, the abundant grace, the restored love, and resiliency of my people.  

This crazy story is hard to share.  You cannot understand the grace and healing without hearing about the broken places.  Making myself, my family, and those close to our story vulnerable to a world of on lookers is tough.  I want to tell their stories from the place where they meet mine, with enough details to give you, the reader, hope and encouragement, but still protect their stories and their still raw, still healing wounds.  

shadow of four people on wall

I don't know what shape these blog posts are going to take, but I know it is time to start telling the wonderful story of how a bunch of people brought together by God's divine hand are healing, are moving forward, and will continue to push through pain and disappointment to have the abundant life He has promised to give us.  

 One by one I hope to introduce you to the wounded hearts.  I won't share names, although if you are a close friend or family member you will know them.  I want their permission when I write about them, so their story can safely continue to be written.  Maybe a book would be more anonymous, but a book has a beginning, middle and end.   Our stories often start somewhere in the middle and are not finished yet.  That last part is where the hope comes boldly into our stories.  Our stories are not finished yet!!  There is still breath and still healing to be done in our wounded hearts!!

gray framed eyeglasses on open book

If you want to share our journey as we bump along this path called life, hit the subscribe button.  I have no clear vision for the future of this blog.  Next week we have a week dedicated to prayer, and seeking God's vision.  I will use some of that time to seek God's vision for my family and this blog.  I may in the future have a facebook page for this blog, but for now this is the only place to follow our story.  I hope you join our journey, but I will love and understand if you don't.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline (some versions, say sound mind) 
2 Timothy 1:7 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Is Christmas Broken? Are We?

This post is written for all the people who just can't feel Christmas this year.  For the ones who are saying things like, "I just can't get into the Spirit this year"  Or the person who is doing their very, very best to keep Christmas for the first time without a special loved one there.  For everyone thinking if only                I would be more excited about Christmas.  It is written for me, a reminder to myself that Christmas was never in the snow, the lights, the decorated tree, the gifts, etc.... and if you are one with limited funds to spend on Christmas this year and it is always tugging on your generous heart.... trust me when I tell you, "you are the gift your love ones want most.  You with your engaging smile, and welcoming spirit.  You with your infectious laughter and warmest of hugs."  Long after the taste of the cookies is gone from your little one's mouth, the memory of making them with you will remain.  

This Christmas may be raw for you.  It may be more painful than joyous. I know there is so much brokenness in our home this year.  While I look with anticipation at getting our tree and decorating it, I am also dreading it, too.   This year when we pull out the stockings with everyone's personal ornaments tucked in....two of my boys will not be here to put their ornaments on the tree.  (The story behind that will be in another post when the time is right.)  I will be giving one boy his ornaments to place on a different tree this year or keep for his own first tree.  The other little boy, may get to place his ornaments on our tree, but not as part of our family, and at this point he will not be able to be here with us Christmas morning to enjoy the stockings, the gifts under the tree, the feasting.... His Christmas and ours will be very different this year. 

Image may contain: night and indoor

A fallen, broken world does not make a broken Christmas.   Our souls ache from wounds that cannot be shared and felt by anyone else.  Wounded people hurt other people....until their wounds are fully healed!!

That is where we need Christmas most.  Right in the middle of our wounds, the healing miracle of a savior, and God's amazing gift!!  I am fairly certain that first Christmas did not look anything like Mary or Joseph imagined when the angel announced to them the great gift God was giving them.  I have no idea what they were expecting, but if I was told I was giving birth to a king, to the King of Kings!  I would dream of promotion and a palace with many midwives, and hand maids attending to me.  I would never dream of a barn stall surrounded by animals, and the first visitors to see me after my body was ripped and torn...a group of smelly men, shepherds.  No, no, no...that is not the birth I would have dreamed.  And yet, that is exactly the way the greatest gift the world has ever been given came into the world.  

Maybe your Christmas doesn't match your dreams this year.  Maybe your heart is torn and aching, as Mary's body was ripped and aching.  Maybe the people around you, who should be caring for you, are not doing things the way you picture them doing them.  Maybe instead of handmaids bringing oils and perfumes, you are surrounded by smelly diapers, and dirty dishes, and late nights and no one to help you.  I don't know your hurts, but I know that Christmas is not broken.  God did not get it wrong on that first messy, dirty, dark Christmas and He will come right into the middle of your messy, dirty, dark Christmas and be the light your soul needs.  

Image may contain: table and indoor

When all the pretty lights just hide all the hurting places, I pray you will let the light of Jesus into your heart and soul and know Christmas.  

Here are a couple quotes that have  ministered to my soul this Christmas:

           "Worry is always belief gone wrong.  Because you don't believe that God will get it right." 

           "Some days, when you feel brave, it's almost like you can reach through the pieces where your heart feels torn and touch the gentle peace of God." 

from  Ann Voskamp's Unwrapping the Greatest Gift There are so many more....every night I grow in wonder at how amazing the Gift of Christmas, Jesus, is to the world. 

Dear One, in that hard place,  Christmas is not broken, you are not broken.  Christmas can be both messy, hard, dark, dirty, and beautiful, amazing, light filled, and glorious!!  Because the same Savior who came into the dirty, dark, smelly manger will come into your messy, imperfect, not pinterest worthy life, and His very presence will sooth the torn and aching places in your heart.  Please, let Him in to heal the wounded places, let Him comfort the aches, and let Him be your constant companion, who will never leave you or forsake you.  

We don't have our tree up yet (gasp) and very little of my house is decorated!!  I know!!  So I think I'm behind.  Then I remember we don't get our tree until around the 15th of the month that gives us 17 days or so to really enjoy it, and then we are done.  I remember I like to decorate a little each day and have my children "find" the decorations when they come home from school.  My Christmas doesn't look like other people's and that's wonderful!!  We all come in my shapes and sizes, so do our Christmas trees and so does our Christmas. I pray your Christmas includes Jesus, because if it doesn't it will always be missing the most amazing peace.  


Monday, November 12, 2018

Nothing Works Unless You Do

I had a great plan,  I got off plan, again....
But guess what?  I can start again!  I can get back to the plan and work it! 

So I am back....

I have made progress, and with that progress I can share some more before and after pictures. 

I also have some more things going out of my house, so I have taken pictures of my free stuff for this post. 

Letter file/ inbox out box.  Three removable shelves.

Beautiful glass bowl with lid.  I just never use it, but it is very nice.

A couple of serving trays.  Both are plastic, white one is hard like melmac, the gold one is softer. 

My baby is five.  I don't think I need these anymore :-)  

These are actually a dark purple. Since they are plastic you can't use them in the oven, so  they really don't work for us.

This is one of those things I always keep when I am de-cluttering.  It is Pampered Chef.  The egg thing goes in your freezer and keeps things cold, it flips over to a smooth side too.  I just don't use it.  I am pretty sure I have the dividers to also use it as a chilled veggie tray.  

So all of the above items are free if you want them, comment or send me a message.  I have them in a box in the back of my vehicle.  The box goes to the second hand shop on November 18th.

I also have a menu plan for this week:
MONDAY:  Crispy Lickin' Chicken (S) w/ sweet potatoes (XO) 
TUESDAY:  Mama's Famous Meatloaf (made with three kinds of meat) (S); mashed potatoes for kids, mashed cauliflower for me 
WEDNESDAY:  Wipe Your Mouth BBQ (E) with brown rice
THURSDAY:  Parmesan crusted Tilapia (S)
FRIDAY:  Pizza (S)
SATURDAY:  Spaghetti Squash with meat sauce(S)
SUNDAY:  Lemon Herb Drummies (S)
** all meals are served with toss salad or a steamed veggie, kiddos can have bread and butter or fruit. 

I am going to share a couple of things that are working, and remind you why I need you to hold me accountable. :-) 

Last week I did a little freezer cooking, in preparation for the busy holiday season coming up, and to better keep myself on track with my Trim Healthy Mama eating plan. Actually, I followed this exact plan   I am so happy with the results, and we have a bunch of healthy meals in our freezer in fact three of the meals we are eating this week came from this little cooking adventure.  It did take me two sessions, because I didn't have a full 90 minutes to complete the tasks. 

For motivation I have been following: on youtube.  Her videos are short and to the point.  They also help wash the fog from brain about "stuff". 

I have crashed in several if not all the areas of my life in the last two weeks.  I hate when I get into survival mode, and plunge to self destruct mode.  You know how it looks....first my schedule is overloaded so I grab some coffee and a breakfast sandwich from a fast food place, and then go straight to may-as-well-have-the-donut-too, mode.  I think being aware that I can stay on plan even when my schedule or life gets hard, in fact that is when I need it most.  I can promise you that the low blood sugar and coffee crash in the afternoon of an already full day, did not help at all.

So I will write when I am doing well, and when I am not doing well.  I will begin again and again and again until I crawl to the finish line if necessary.  I will try to write about this journey and continue to write about the Wounded Hearts and the journeys we are sharing. 

Until next time, God Bless.  And don't forget to let me know if you see something in my out box that would bless you!!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

All the Feels behind the blog

This is the nitty grit part of why I didn't write an update for over a month. 
This is transparency...
This is the part of writing the blog that may one day replace my therapist ;-)

Progress over Perfect

That's become my motto in the work on my home and my body, but my mind???
My mind still tells me terrible things, things like, "you failed, again," "you can't post now it's late, and you aren't even following your plan!" "you hypocrite." "you can't write a blog." "no one is reading it anyway..."  "Yeah, myself, is telling me ugly things, myself is telling me people will reject me, I am not good enough, my house is not like the other blog writers, I am not writing popular content, I am not .....   You get the idea.

So, this blog has to be more than just popular house cleaning content, or meal planning, or organization, or Godly womanhood, adoption, etc.  (It will likely contain all of that and more).

First, and foremost it started as a journey of the wounded hearts, including this wounded heart.

The wounded heart that was too paralyzed to write an update the moment it became 'late.'  The moment my pictures weren't taken.  What was holding me back, like shackles around my ankles and wrists? Fear!!  Mainly fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough, fear of failing.  Let that just sit with you a minute.

Image result for free images shackles & chains

I want to write and share this journey with you, but the enemy of my soul has held me captive by this fear of rejection for so is my go to response.

It is what has stopped me from stepping up to a more consistent role in women's ministry in my church, even though I long to empower every woman there....some might disagree with me, some might talk behind my back, some might not like me, some might not come to an event I plan.....on and on.... I know when I step out into ministry of any kind I put a target on my back, so I shrink back and only do the things I feel so passionate and so driven by God to do.

It is what has stopped me from writing about the darkest, hardest parts of our struggles in foster care and adoption (also, respect for the privacy of my family and their part of the stories).  While I know deep down in the depths of my soul that we are all wounded and we desire transparency and truth, more than beautiful houses, and meal plans.... I struggle to be vulnerable.  Truth is I thought I could be more vulnerable with people I hardly know, and one day maybe even strangers reading a blog post, than with those under my own roof, and even the one sharing my bed, because.....well...the rejection couldn't hurt as much, right?  That's why a therapist is easier to talk to .... they can't reject you, (Oh, and that degree, and years of school, that helps you sort through all your stinking thinking, so you can get to the other side and be the best version of you....that's pretty important too.)  Trust me it took me a few years to figure that out.  I was afraid even in that setting to be real, and vulnerable, because I wanted my therapist to like me.

The point is I recognize that this fear is a lie and it has kept me in bondage long enough, and I must push past it, become vulnerable, and believe that God has a good plan for my life, so I can live the life He has designed me to live, so I can write the content that I am supposed to write.

Image result for free images shackles & chains

You see another lie I have told myself is "there are so many blogs out there already, why would anyone one read mine? "  The answer: they don't need to, if I'm writing about the same things everyone else is...this is my story and that's the only reason to write it.  The good days, the hard days, the grace days, all of it is my story, and I am the only one who can tell it.

This story is imperfect and flawed, sometimes beautiful and sometimes messy, but it is worth documenting, worth sharing, and well worth living.  It is the abundant grace gift of an amazing Savior and Redeemer.

I hope you will continue to join me for the journey.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Done Something

"A done something is better than a perfect nothing."
Katherine at Do It on A Dime

"Enthusiasm without knowledge is no good; 
haste makes mistakes."
Proverbs 19:2

So I posted my plan....  It was a  beautiful plan and the blog looked so good....

Then I missed my first deadline and then another week went by and so on and so forth...

I plan to write about all that in another blog post, "soon," but for this post I will give a quick update with before and after pictures, and a few give-a-ways.

The Home
I am not fully following the Organized 365 plan.   Honestly, it has me cleaning out cupboards and drawers, etc.  But my whole house is a big fat mess!! 
So I am starting by cleaning the surface clutter.  I am working every day at least a little bit on surface clutter.  Everyone in my family is a surface abusers.  If there is a flat surface anywhere it is a prime target for something to be put there "temporarily."  Things don't stay there temporarily, they breed and more things are set down and the pile spreads, until there isn't a flat surface to be found anymore.  
I personally grew up this way and I think when your vision becomes accustomed to the clutter you don't even notice it anymore.  Well, until you have guests coming and you look at your house with the eyes of a visitor and freak out!
My kiddos have grown accustom to this way of living and it is going to take much training to create the clean surfaces and lovely environment I crave. 

This is before an after pictures in my tiny kitchen.  I work really hard everyday to keep these counters clear.  I would say at least 85% of the time they look this way.

My Body
I have done well with my health and fitness goals.  
I wish I could stick to a plan for a couple weeks and lose 10 or 15 lbs, but the truth is it took years to pile it on and it may take years to get to my goal fitness weight/size.  I am hoping no more than two years.  
I have kept up with my workouts 3x each week.  I missed one, but I consider it still a success.  
I can see the progress in the following ways:  increased weights on several machines, increased speed and endurance as well as distance  on the exercise bike.  
Eating on plan about 98%  
I lost 5.2 pounds the first month and since my basic goal is 5 pounds/month...that's a success.  I will say the scale lies and I hate it, so my real goals are a clothing size and to find my knees :-)

The Give Aways
So here are the things leaving my home.  The truly sad part is with all of my decluttering efforts most of our stuff is just garbage or junk.  So I plug along and maybe there will be a few treasures along the way.
All of these are in good working order, but they are taking up too much space in my tiny broom closet.  I have switched almost completely to Norwex cleaning tools, including the mop.  I also have a full size rug shampooer now, so I no longer need the steam mop.  In order from left to right:  a steam mop with all the attachments and tools, including the ring so it can be used on rugs as well as solid floors; a spray mop with refillable canister, no need to buy a specific cleaner and two pads: two microfiber pads that slip over a mop I no longer have the mop; the red small mop is like a swiffer, add your own clothes and it works great (my kids love it for getting toys and dog bones from under the furniture); last is an o'cedar flip mop.  Again, these are all fine, but I use my Norwex and e-mop now. 

Yep, that's baby goodies.... the top two are for the carseat.  It is a very soft insert with detachable head piece. 
The bottom one is a cute duckie hooded towel that my daughter does not want to give up, sigh. 

Two pair of little girls size 10 shoes.  The sneakers are very nice New Balance, and the slip on canvas ones are still very nice play shoes, probably from Walmart.

One of our all time favorite books! We have several copies and this is the board book version in almost new condition.

Finally two really random items, I almost didn't even post, but there is nothing wrong with them, so...
The first is hard to see, but it is a macrame plant hanger in a burnt orange with a metal hanging ring;  the sunglasses are a sparkly silver over navy blue they were my extra car pair, and I just don't need them anymore

So these items are available absolutely FREE until October 26th.  Message, call, comment, let me know if you want any of these things. 
Hopefully as I get better at getting rid of things, I will have some more exciting treasures. 

The Meal Plan 

If you want to know what we are eating, here are our dinners for this week:

Monday - Cowboy Grub (E) - turkey; skillet
Tuesday - BLT Frittata (S) - bacon, eggs; skillet/oven
Wednesday - Slow Fajitas (E) - chicken; crockpot (I used my fast pot)
Thursday - Super Salmon Burgers (S) - canned pink salmon; stove top/grill
Friday - Pizza (S) - pepperoni, cheese, sausage; oven
Saturday - Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup (E) - chicken; stovetop
Sunday - Rich & Tender Stew (S) - beef; crockpot
               Dessert - Trimtastic Chocolate Zucchini Cake (S) - oven 

All the recipes for these meals come from the Trim Healthy Mama Cookbook.  Again, I am not receiving any commissions or gifts for the things I share...this is just what I am doing. 

What's working and what's not
To be continued in another post...
God bless thanks for reading, and don't forget to follow if you don't want to miss future posts.

"You can make plans, but the Lord's purpose will prevail."
Proverbs 19:21