Monday, February 28, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

This is not the power of positive thinking.

This is taking each thought captive and making it obediently thankful.

Fear redirected toward grateful.

Worry turned to thankful.

Frustration calmed to reflection on the gift in its midst.

Preoccupation with mistakes changed to awe at the presence of a generous God who knows my heart and beckons me to notice His grace in every moment, even the most difficult.

This is eucharisteo. A triplet of words, really. Grace. Thanksgiving. Joy.

Hasn't this been my pursuit? My middle name, Joy. My first, Kristina, meaning follower of Christ. Finding joy in following Christ has been my life-long quest.

Could counting gifts really change me?

I'm doing this for real now, understanding the significance, the Biblical foundation for living a life of faithful gratitude. I'm tired of living tired, missing the joy meant for me. So I count.

"We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks... Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace." ~Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts
  • piles and piles of laundry done by my 10 year old
  • a smile at more snow, seriously
  • daughter's hair, curled up nice
  • morning sunrise illuminating hoarfrost on the window in front of my elliptical machine, what a view!


  • teaching Megan something new - making instant pudding
  • Robb working from home on a Friday
  • thumbing through new cookbook, mouth watering
  • plans to wear a swimsuit
  • pretty things I've made
  • moonbeams on the ceiling, illuminating the dark fears of the night
  • glorious morning fog and frost clinging


  •  borrowed perfume
  •  rearranged decor - bringing new life to each item
  • causing someone to laugh
  • calming music
  • clearance valentine candy
  • wake up kisses
  • long embraces
  • fog frosted world, the heavy presence of God evidenced


  • Opera on radio in van, and kids singing it, laughing
  • new coffee mug
  • dim morning light, the world waking, and me too, with joy!
  • the accidental mirrored art of light and shadow

  • Hard discussions, leading to clarity, growth.

Oh, so much goodness today, as always, on Ann's blog, on eucharisteo, joy, comfort zones (did I not just talk to my husband last night about just this thing?! But of course, God reinforces his teaching in my heart with words on my screen.) So I have one more to count:


    • God-given themes in my life

    Saturday, February 26, 2011

    Weekend Links - Homeschool Books

    We just finished reading these enjoyable books as part of our home school curriculum:

    My kids loved these science lessons told in stories about "Uncle Paul" as he instructs his nephews. 
    Written by French entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre (1823-1915):
    ~
    ~
    Fun, short book, a cat's view of life from his own perspective:


    ~
    Mitchell and Megan especially enjoyed the above selections, so when we were finished, I wanted to find something similar to continue reading with them. I didn't want to invest much money so I spent a couple minutes finding and loading a Kindle app. to my HTC EVO phone. I don't have a Kindle or reading device, but my phone screen is large enough to comfortably read from, so I did a short search for similar books based on a homeschool catalog I had been perusing, and shortly joined the modern world of digital books.*smile*


    Jane Fielding wrote (or revised from the works of H. P. Robinson,) six animal autobiographies, and Fabre wrote three great science story books for children, but some are difficult to track down.  They are available from QueenHomeschool.com but I was able to find a couple inexpensive downloads.



      ~
    Animal Autobiography: 
    Bear Brownie, The Life of a Bear
    $1.29 for Kindle
    ~
     
    $4.99 for Kindle
    ~
     
    The last book I found is written by the daughter of author Margaret Gatty whose Parables from Nature   I own, but have not read yet. The below book is said to be full of great information on gardening, woven into story form. I plan on reading it as our family begins thinking about spring and planting our garden. And it's free for Kindle!



    But until the ground thaws, we are all set to cozy up with blankets while the snow still falls and read and read and read!

    Friday, February 25, 2011

    FB Friday

    Welcome to FB Friday! The day that I review my week based on my FB status{es!}

    Real bloggers have their FB pages as fan pages and this would be a duplication of information, but as I am lazy and confused and still haven't decided whether I ever want my real name freely available on this here blog, I have not given blog readers I don't know in real life full access to my personal FB page. Also, as interesting as craft projects and spiritual musings about fog are, they don't really tell you, or record for me, a lot about what we are up to in our daily goings about.

    Commence weekly review, in all its wonderful sarcasm.

    Sunday:
    We preempted the snowstorm and had an impromptu birthday party for Megan yesterday after church. Not bad for not planned.



    We had planned to visit a friend after church anyway and let our kids play while Robb and Linda did some paperwork, and since a huge snowstorm was forecast for the next day when the planned American Girl Doll themed birthday party was to take place, we invited one more friend to come along, picked up some things at the grocery and viola! a birthday party/work meeting/playdate/movie day!

    The snow did come, fast and furious, and we just barely made in home in the pickup that evening.
    Monday: 
    Megan's planned party was canceled due to half of the two guests being snowed in, so we braved the new snow and took Megan on a birthday shopping trip to Target and out for Chinese.
    I celebrated Megan's birthday today and the new snow by buying myself two new swimsuits. Mexico vacation cannot come soon enough. But really, the snow is fun. Especially Robb getting his truck stuck in our driveway. That was more than fun. That was hilarious. 
    I was nice enough to not take a picture, though I now regret it. :)
    Our appliances are on strike. Washer part came today, water cooler leaks & dishwasher handle broke for the third time. When it rains it pours. Or blizzards.
    Wednesday: 
    Joined the digital reading world by adding a Kindle app to my phone and loading two home school read aloud books. Saved at least $30.00. Gotta love that! :)
    Let me say it again: I love technology!

    Stuck. On our way to the Orthodontist. We didn't get very far.


    There was only drift in our driveway and this was it. I was able to call the ortho, and postpone Megan's appt. Wouldn't want to miss her important date with the braces remover! Robb came to the rescue and switched vehicles, I dashed off with kids in tow and he stayed to dig my poor van out. What a nice guy!
    Well the good news is the Sears guy came and fixed our dishwasher and clothes washer. The bad news is, he replaced a white handle with a black one and the flange on the clothes washer is the wrong part. The water goes in to the bleach cup, but this one has no outlet, so the water still goes on my floor.
    So, in other words, there was no good news. Megan has nothing to wear, and I can't do laundry. Cue wailing and gnashing of teeth. The Sears guy comes on Monday. But I haven't heard if a new part was ordered, so the laundry situation may not be resolved any time soon. Again: wailing and gnashing.
    Wednesday was a day from H E double hockey sticks, at least on an American scale of all things considered reasonably normal.... 
    Thursday:
    decorating in my head. Otherwise known as cheap therapy.


    Thinking about chalkboard paint. What do you think? {Pardon my lazy Photoshopping skills}


    Friday:
     As I type my children are baptizing the cat in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But first, they made sure he had Jesus in his heart.


    Poor cat.

    Uffda! What a week!

     

    Thursday, February 24, 2011

    Two Telephone Pole Kind of Day


    It was a cloudy, foggy Thursday, the kind in which I measure visibility by telephone poles. While driving to appointments, I could only see two at a time.  The air was damp, and though the temperature was the warmest it's been since the middle of November, the moisture could be felt deep to the bone.

    I had woken up with my own fog. It seemed the world and I both had a head-cold.

    We soldiered on, through damp and mess and gunk of melting winter, my head full of gunk too. We drove slow on the sloppy thawing driveway that's been hidden since November 13.

    And I think about fog.

    Sometimes the path of life is shrouded by fogs in which we must slow and learn to listen.

    God made his presence visible in the form of a cloud for a time, and I wonder about that. About days and seasons when our path is not certain, yet His presence envelopes and all there is to see is Him. Faith is being certain of what we do not see, certain that He has a plan. Those are the two telephone pole kinds of days.


    In fog, we find our way because we know the road, the landmarks well.

    In life we can do the same.

    The fog is there, obscuring distractions, however good and beautiful they are, letting us only see what is immediately in front, His presence a canopy. He wants us to see only Him in the cloud.

    He says, "I am the way."

    In him all our landmarks are found and known, and when we know Him, acknowledge Him, he guides our path. Sometimes only one or two telephone poles at a time.


    On our way home, the Dayquil finally kicked in and my head cleared. The sun came out and the fields seemed to steam as the fog burned away.



    I took in the sight, I saw where I'd been, and His light revealed a beautiful journey.

    You have made known to me the path of life, you will fill me with joy in your presence. Psalm 16:11

    Linking with Bigger Picture Blogs today. It's been a while... Hi ladies! *waves*

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    Double Chocolate Malt-O-Meal Cereal

    I grew up eating Malt-O-Meal hot cereal for breakfast. The plain kind.

    But mom let us add a predetermined amount of brown sugar. She made the Malt-O-Meal and the sugar was served on the side in a little Tupperware cup so we could add it as we pleased and eat the top layer, scraping off the sugar as we ate.We generally ran out of sugar before cereal, but if we were lucky, Mom would give us another scoop. I don't remember how often that actually happened.

    I've recently discovered a new favorite: Chocolate Malt-O-Meal. With a generous tablespoon of chocolate chips stirred in. MMMmmm.

    It tastes like molten chocolate heaven.

    I promise.


    Prepare Chocolate Malt-O-Meal as directed on box, (but I only sprinkle a smidge of sugar, and a dash of salt). Add chocolate chips.

    This even works for me and my Flat Belly Diet because the chocolate chips are a MUFA (healthy fat) and the calorie count is low!

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    Healthy Scones. Yes, there is such a thing.

    These are my new favorite breakfast...or snack. 


    2 c whole wheat pastry flour
    1 c pecans, chopped
    2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 and 1/4 c low-fat vanilla yogurt
    2 Tbsp canola oil
    1 tsp freshly grated orange zest
    2/3 c dried sweetened cranberries 
    400°F for 20-25min.

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011

    Valentine Yo-Yo Table Runner

    Remember these? 


    When I was a teen, crafty people were making vests, place-mats and who know what else from them, but in my blog perusing recently, I came across a table runner that inspired me to make a Valentine version that I showed on yesterday's post.

    My phone showed a missed call and voice-mail tonight, and when I touched the screen to see who had called, I was surprised and pleased to see the picture of a friend whose voice I haven't heard in years. We were neighbors on our college's married housing campus, graduated with growing pregnant bellies under our gowns, and found excuses to hang out as our babies grew to toddlers and we added more babes to our families. She moved home to Maine a number of years ago and was breaking our phone silence wanting to know how I made the table runner that was in my post yesterday.

    (I called them pinwheels, but they are yo-yos, which is probably why she couldn't find a tutorial when she googled it...and that just shows you how my brain works. I'm the creative mind, not the detailed, precise sort of mind. And I make mistakes. All the time.)

    It's a good thing I had this post nearly ready to publish! So here you are Ruth!


    Start with a pile of fabric scraps cut into circles 4 inches in diameter. I've been thinking I would really like one of these in plain white fabric or a white on white pattern.


    Stitch around the edge of the circle, about 1/4 of an inch from the edge. On the first stitch, the needle should be inserted from the right side (the patterned, printed side) of the fabric to the back like Megan is pictured stitching above. The loose threads will then be on the right side of the fabric, making the next step easier.


    Now I just realized this is the tricky part and you might want pictures...so I quick took a couple. (I couldn't hack the evening interior lighting so I've changed the color saturation....)

    Loose threads on right side of fabric:


    Pull on threads till the circle looks like so:


    Continue until the gathers are tight in the middle:

     
     Notice my nails? I don't need a hand model anymore! 

    (Robb quit biting his nails soon after he lost the first 25 pounds. 
    I guess one discipline leads to another. Not to be outdone, I have also quit biting. Again.
    Hopefully for the last time. )

    You can play with the gathers a bit so they are evenly distributed, 
    but I don't put that much effort into the process. 
    Tie the first half of your knot.

    At this point you may want an extra set of hands. 


    Stick one finger on the gathers, continually poking at the middle and keeping the rough ends down as you pull the thread tight with the other hand. 

    I like my manicured nails, yes I do.

    Tie it tight, making sure the ends are all tucked in.


    Thread a needle with the extra thread ends, insert needle into center of circle and exit the edge of the circle. 
    Cut off thread ends, iron flat, and viola....

    Before you know it you'll have a pile of these:


    With just a few more stitches attaching the circles together, you should have something like this:


    Picture taken with Retro Cam on my Evo. What is your favorite phone camera app?
    And what do you remember being made from yo-yos?



    Monday, February 14, 2011

    I love us.


    I visit him at the office on Friday, to pick up a check, and there they sit on his desk, waiting for me. Roses. A bit of heather and seeded eucalyptus.

    He likes to give me my Valentine early so I won't worry that he'll forget.

    I think that's funny. But I love it.

      Valentine pinwheel table runner Megan and I are working on. 
    We may be finished by next Valentine's Day.



    He gives me two cards, one with his words, and one that's good for an hour massage. By a professional.

    He's not the professional, but I don't mind.

     Heart strings how-to at Family Fun



    His card reads, "I've recently learned to love this day. I now realize this is our day...." and I think of the commercial that says Valentine's Day is not about I love you, but about I love us.
     

    And I think it's ironic that when we are particularly pleased with ourselves, we actually say something similar:

    "Go us!"


    My card reads, "I'm so happy and it's all your fault." A bit of humor, but oh, so honest. I have a tendency to blame-shift, and even on Valentine's Day, I stay consistent.

    He laughs. He thinks I'm funny too.

    I love us.