Sunday, October 31, 2010

Oh, The Places We Will Go!

This weekend, we had the pleasure of costumes, hot chili, and many friends in our home. It was the perfect blend of relaxed parents, happy children, and safe fellowship.

One of these dear friends came to my house for the first time from a long distance away. She repeated herself a few times when she said, "I'm not trying to be overly focused on appearances, but you really need to blog about your home." At first, I was a little confused by her words, not exactly sure what she was referring to. Fortunately for me, she is a woman of wisdom and eloquence. She poured genuine kindness on me as she explained that sharing tips on literal home-making here did not have to be arrogant brag-fests, as I was always afraid they might be. I hope you know that my only goal in sharing pictures of my home is to give you ideas - mostly cheap ones - that you might want to try somewhere in your own home. The outside of our home is a very standard subdivision home. I figure that anyone rich enough can design and build their own perfect home, but it's entirely another matter to take the home God has given you and work with it to tell your own story, welcome people with your own personality. I am not a wonderful decorator, I am not here to tell you how to place your furniture, that's for sure! But if you are looking for ways to store toys, organize kid stuff, and still make a room warm and welcoming, I just might have a few tricks up my sleeve.

So, without further ado and much thanks to Rachel for holding my clammy hand, here are some pictures of my favorite room in the house - my son's bedroom. It's a "transportation" room

When I moved here three years ago, I was pregnant with the Little Man and heaved my big belly all over town looking for one-of-a-kind treasures at garage-sale prices. It's still a work in progress - and I figure, when I finally finish with the room, he'll ask me to make it Star Wars and I"ll have to take it all down. But here's where our Ticking Time Bomb sleeps, plays, and wreaks general havoc.The map on the wall is an actual, old-school pull-down map I found on e-bay. It is old enough that many of the countries do not exist anymore, so if my son's geography facts are off when he's twenty, he can totally blame it on me.

Looking left, a hand-me-down bed of the best kind from the Little Man's very own grandpa. Snoopy was Real Gil's bedtime favorite and even has a missing nose to show for it.

This antique ice chest works as a storage bin for all of our son's trains, and it also doubles as a stool next to the bed so Little Man can climb up into bed (...or climb down, doggone it!). I scored it at a garage sale for $5!

At the bottom of the bed, I hung an antique clothespin storage receptacle and we keep all the Hot Wheels in the pockets. Also, there is a toolbox I found at a thrift store that keeps books and bouncy balls in place.

Cross stitch "transportation" pictures sewn by the Little Man's now-deceased great-grandmother. For years, these hung in my grandparents' home, and then, they lay unused under my mom's bed until she stumbled upon them this year and passed them to me.

Framing these was too expensive and after I tacked them to the wall just like they were, I realized I liked them without frames.

The desk below was handmade by my husband's grandfather. Most everything on the shelf are family hand-me-downs, toys from my husband or father-in-law's childhood.

Perhaps my favorite aspect to the room is this wall of old maps. After my little sister found an old Atlas at a garage sale (I'm not the only one in the family who likes to hunt for bargains!), I ripped out the pages and tacked them to the wall. I love the texture, the colors, and the blocks of pattern all over this wall.

So that's it. Our son's bedroom. My new favorite room in the house, probably because I finally painted it. If you come over to visit, my son will take you by the hand and show you how high he can jump on his bed. And you can ask him geography questions if you'd like to watch me squirm.

That's all. Tour's over. See you tomorrow.

Resting in Him,

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Thanks, twin sister, for this link, the ultimate sacrifice. Check it out if you have time, my friends.

Resting in His Ultimate Sacrifice,

Friday, October 29, 2010

Clocking Out

We've had a rough week. Nothing serious, just one little discouragement after another.

If it's okay with you, I'm going to clock out a little early this Friday and come back to this safe place on Monday.

So thankful that I can be honest with you about those running-on-empty days and the mound of costumes that need my attention. And I'm so thankful that I can be honest with God, the One who provides encouragement, energy, rest, and the courage to confront hard days.

Resting in His Safe Arms,

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Stumble-Upons

Sacred Sandwich has some funny stuff this week. I could hardly pick one...

Since I haven't done this in a while, I thought I'd share some of my favorite articles and blog posts that I have stumbled upon lately. If any of these topics interest you, happy reading.

  • A fascinating story of genuine foot-washing. Learning to be a servant of all can't get any more authentic than this.
  • A funny girl, this Rachel Held Evans, who is taking the Old Testament biblical "womanhood" challenge literally for the next year. She has even pitched a tent in the backyard for when she is on her period and is considered "unclean" by ancient Hebrew standards. I can't help my curiosity!
  • I love these custom-made tiles. There is nowhere in my house for them, but perhaps you want my help in picking some for your house. [stage whisper: call me!]
  • Every once in a while, I spend a few minutes here...reading, praying, and thanking. You can click on the year and month to read specific stories...
  • Hillary had a great table on her blog comparing Authoritarian Parenting versus Authoritative Parenting. I encourage you to read it not so you feel more pressure to parent in a certain way or to try harder, but to see that the only way to really parent perfectly is to let Christ do it through you. Evidence that you are abiding in His strength will be seen in authoritative parenting, I believe. I trust in this - that I can allow Him who gives us victory in each day do what He does best - living His life of victory in our parenting.
  • A wonderful friend of mine is a missionary in Japan. She inspires me in so many ways. In this blog post, she ponders not who, but whose we are...
  • This girl defines DIY. Check out her painter's ladder shelf.
  • Love is actually good for our health! And perfect love casts out fear. I'm going with it.
  • The hands and feet of God at work. The pictures say it all.
Resting in His Grace,

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Journals Without a Back-Space Key

"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry," said James (1:19).

Definitely not a verse I choose to quote often.

It's one of the most valuable qualities in my husband - this ability to listen before speaking.

Because I am deficient in listening skills and overly efficient in speaking skills, I tend to commit an overabundance of verbal crimes.

That's one of the reasons I write.

Do you know that my BACK SPACE button actually has the most smudges and scratches of all the keys on my keyboard? Perhaps that's a sign that even on paper, I tend to be overly quick to speak!

With my children, the words that flow from my lips do not come with a built-in back-space key. So many times, I have gone to a little heart and apologized for words - critical, angry, impatient, patronizing.

One place that I find to be safe for words is here:

I know it's not much - just college-ruled sheets of paper thrown together in colorful notebooks intended for math or physics notes. But in each of these notebooks, there are pages of handwritten letters. Most of them are just the ramblings of a wordy mother - humorous stories, funny memories, and lots of love-words to my kids, maybe things that they might not want strewn across a public blog. There's something so intentional about parenting with a pen and paper. I cherish the one place where I still get to do this.

My rules for the journals are few:
  • I write when I can, but I do not stress about getting to it in a routine manner.
  • Others are welcome to write if they want, but they are not free to read other entries. One time, after a particularly trying afternoon of bickering, I let the girls look at their journals and after flipping to an empty page, they drew pictures in each other's books. On their birthdays, I leave the journal out on an empty page and let family members sign if they want to. One time, Punkin weaved a story to her faithful scribe named Grandpa, who wrote meticulous letters on the nearest napkin, and even that made it into the journal.
  • I have no long-term goal for the journals. Someday, probably when they are around sixteen, I will hand it to them and go cower in the corner while I wait to see if they roll their eyes at me and Gil.
  • I try to write an entry for each child while we are on any long car rides, or on any vacation.
  • Anything goes in the journal! I'm not neat and there are many scribbled notes that I wrote, carried home, and glued into the books.
  • I try to be honest. If the kids are going through a difficult phase, I try not to gloss over it. If they are excelling at something, I try not to overly highlight it. I figure, someday they are going to be parents, and I don't want them to think all we did was sit around and play family BINGO and drink hot chocolate. Sometimes, we argued or had a flat tire on the side of the road or did math begrudgingly.
  • I speak often of stuff we have done. I used to think that facts were boring, but those have been fun to reread as well.
  • I include Real Gil whenever possible. He is welcome to write at anytime, and often will help me think of stories to include.
  • I always hand write the letters. This takes a bit more time - and it runs the risk of having no BACK SPACE key - but I want them to have as much of my voice as I can give them. Exclamations points, run-on sentences, hearts over the i's, and scribbled-out words are all included.

This has worked for me, a scrapbook-challenged mother of three. If you find your spoken words inadequate for little ears, perhaps you too will find value in saving some of those words for later.

Resting in His Always-Love,

Monday, October 25, 2010

I have studied this parenting thing long enough to know that my parents were great. Kind but not enabling, loving but not smothering, stern but not overly strict. I think I figured this out in college, when everyone lives together and starts comparing notes. Suddenly, I realized how blessed I was to have the stable, loving home with my parents.

So, on that note, I thought, why not take you to Grandma and Grandpa's house? Good news for us, it does not require going over the river or through the woods. And lucky for you, I drove the fifteen miles and snapped a few amateur photos so all you have to do is scroll down.

That front window next to the flagpole was my bedroom window growing up. How many hours did I spend staring out that window, pining for Real Gil?!!

Come on in!

Is there anything better than a Grandma-hug? My mom holds nothing back, two arms wrapped tight and a kiss on the head.

On this visit, she was showing us her new farmhouse doors, newly hung after 25 years of hollow, fake wood doors. Aren't they fun?!

Sometime soon after coming in the front door, you'll probably run into this little lady, Grandma GG. (The G.G. used to stand for Great-Grandma when I was a kid and now, it stands for Great-Great, as she is a great-great grandma to our kids.) After us kids moved out, my mother took down the high school mascot signs and invited G.G. - my father's grandmother - to live in our old bedroom.

Now, on to the kitchen, where I caught this picture of Grandma charming my kids with fresh, homemade cookies.

When my parents were away on a recent vacation, my twin sister and I decided to re-do Mom's laundry room. We ordered wallpaper to cover the old brown closet-pantry doors, painted all of the old trim and molding, and added some chalkboard paint and a few details to the mix.

Now, if you plan on staying for the night, you will be staying in the guest bedroom.

(My mom's collection of old purses, mostly from her grandmother.)

My mom inherited this rocking chair from her mother. She recently decided to reupholster this so she bought a $20 curtain that did the trick perfectly. Cozy, comfortable, and sentimental.

Now, I've shown you where you stay, where you do your laundry, where the food is prepared, and how you'll be greeted. But I would be remiss if I didn't tell you who will keep you busy.

Dad. Or Grandpa. (Here he is, comforting Sugs who fell off the jungle gym during a soccer game. It would be a little awkward if you tried to curl up on his lap, just a warning.)

He will probably take you for his daily hike with the dog. And then, you can talk to him about anything. He knows a little bit about everything - with the exception of words like menstrual, menopause, or mammogram.

Oh, and I should probably mention that he's a genius. He's way too humble to care about getting the actual genius test, but he is. Just try to be a teenager under the roof of the most huggable mother and the smartest father. No wonder I came out fairly unscathed.

Dad's mind is always processing. Just the other day at our house, he was explaining his newest invention. Before long, we had fetched playdough and a cork and a glue stick for him to build us a model.

I love sending my children to their grandparents' house with no fears of what we need to "fix" on the return home. Thankful for healthy, independent parents, and the gift of hospitality they share with both young and old.

Hope you enjoyed the little tour. And thanks Mom for the cookies.

Resting in Him Who Never Closes His Doors,

Friday, October 22, 2010

Michelangelo's Mistakes

Just this week, there was an article published in the New York Post, telling the story of an old painting stuck behind the couch. For years, it hung above the couch, but rowdy children prompted some responsible parent to remove it from the wall and wedge it behind the furniture. For years, the home's inhabitants wondered if the family lore about the piece being a genuine Michelangelo painting could be true. Finally, upon the father's retirement and a life with fewer demands, research began with startling realizations that this very well could be authentic. My favorite part of this story is that the most indicative evidence suggesting that the painting is a real Michelangelo is its mistakes.

God's grace says two things to me tonight:

1. I am treasured. Accepted. Chosen. Adopted. Forgiven. An heir. (Eph. 1) Like a painting long lost and now found, the very flaws make it more authentic. (In Jesus' words,
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Luke 5:31) I used to wonder if God really treasured me, or was it I that needed to treasure Him. Now, I know that it's both!!! [For example, the exact translation of Paul's Ephesians 1:11 is not completely known; it seems to say both "we were made to be His inheritance" and "we have obtained an inheritance." He treasures us, and we treasure Him.] We ourselves are HIS inheritance, His treasure, His Michelangelo!!!

2. I can take this gift of grace and let it bloom, accept the gift accordingly. Like a long-lost son, like a hidden treasure in a field, like a pearl of great value, like the one sheep missing from a flock of 100.
And if I might take the liberty to apply modern-day parables, like a painting which I treasure, hang in a place of honor. I have an inheritance that can never be taken away, can never be broken by flying tennis balls and sin, never comes with conditions like good behavior or better sacrifices...

Simple, I know. Now, to convince myself to live this way.

Resting Here,