Friday, August 29, 2008

Testing, Waiting, Contentment, and Gratitude

Have you ever been through a season of testing and waiting? Like, you know, waiting for gas prices to come back down so you can afford to take a little weekend getaway due to the restlessness you've felt all summer?

I have been tested many times in my life, but the past decade seems especially applicable and poignant.

There are so many goals and dreams that Jim Bob and I have for our future, one of the biggest ones being that we really want to own a decent plot of land and build a real log home (he even went to a log home class to learn how) on it.

We are both about to enter a brand new phase of life: our 40s. Jim Bob gets to try it on for size first as his birthday is this Sunday. Happy birthday, Sweetheart!

But this new phase brings with it an urgency and a desire to move forward and "get it done." Problem is, we don't have all our smaller goals met in order to reach this even bigger goal... at least not yet.

We have been working on meeting those goals. But lately, we have grown a bit impatient with all the steps that must take place in the interim. We are working on those steps, but the truth is that without the Lord's provision, none of it will happen.

So, we wait.

His Timing is Perfect

We wait upon His goodness, grace, and mercy in providing for us in His time and in His way. You'd think that by 40 years of age we'd have learned this lesson, but I think that we are still fighting some of the worldly influences we grew up with, the main one being that if you want something, you just do whatever it takes and get it... NOW!

But the Lord has more in mind for us and for our sanctification. He wants to teach us patience. He wants to test us. He wants to help us learn contentment. He wants us to be grateful; to be full of thanks for that which He has already provided.

So, let the great sloughing off begin, right? Well, the truth is, it's been going on all along. We are just now sleepily waking up to realize that He is working on us and teaching us to wait upon His goodness a little longer. But there's even more to it than that: He wants us to realize that He is good to us in the HERE and NOW. He wants us to live in praise, in prayer, in remembering that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-24), right were we are.

Many times, this is the ultimate test of our faith: staying where we are currently, even if it seems like the wilderness. Being still, knowing that He is God, and letting Him remove the dross, while we simply rest in Him, count our blessings, and remember all of His faithfulness to us: this—yes, this—is where true growth is found.

Calm My Anxious Heart

See, maybe gas prices staying so high that we can't travel anywhere has been good for me after all.

Now, repeat after me: "I will not look at travel brochures, I will not look at travel brochures."

But I will praise... so, if you happen to stop by or call me, don't be surprised if you hear praise music blaring in the background... I have it turned up to drown out everything else, and keep me focused.

"There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them." —Exodus 15:25b

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Happy Anniversary To My Hubby

This is a post I intended to place here last Friday, but we were in the throes of a stomach virus around here... yours truly being the one affected that day ;-/

On August 22, 1993, I became the happiest woman in the world. No, really, I did! No one else could compare their joy to mine that day because that was the day that Jim Bob proposed to me, and I accepted with an "absolutely, positively, definitely YES!!!!!" (I really knew what I wanted ;))

We've seen our share of struggles, joys, dreams come true, and some broken times, but here we are, four children, at least four homes, and four states later, just the same and yet completely different, and I love him more each day.

I bless that day, the day I became his bride! Little did I know then that it was just a simple foreshadowing of the joy I will feel when my Heavenly Bridegroom comes to take me as His own.

I am blessed. Truly, I am.

Father, I thank you for making me Jim Bob's bride that day fifteen years ago. You were so gracious to me then, as You always have been. Thank you for Jim Bob. Please bless him in all he does, and keep him strong in You. Thank You for preserving us to this point... please never stop. I ask, more than anything, that our love for each other will continue to grow strong in the years to come, and glorify You in the process.

You have been so gracious to us, Father. I bless Your holy Name. I ask that our marriage will always be a beacon of hope to our children and all who know us. In Jesus' Name I ask it.


Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” —Matthew 22:37-40

LORD, You will establish peace for us,
For You have also done all our works in us. —Isaiah 26:12

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Before and After...

Today, for show-and-tell, I thought I would post some pics we have taken of our home projects:

Our entry was a bit sparse before.

Then we tried "making do" with and old bookshelf and sewing table. But this did not serve our needs as well as we had hoped, so we are now using a desk that my mother had along with some shelving.

Here is what our entry looks like now:

Adjacent to the entryway, is the living room. Likewise, it needed some help:

As you can see, we had too much chaotic color going on in our living room, and we had a few storage issues, similar to many homeschooling families. Basically, to us, the living room and entry areas needed to be unified into one very useful space as we use this area heavily for our everyday living and our schooling needs.

We decided the colors, sparseness, and disorganization, were causing too much chaos visually, so we opted for one of my favorite colors, Robin's Egg Blue, for the top quarter of the walls, and one of Jim Bob's favorites for the lower three quarters: the color of a nice, clean pair of khaki pants. I'm giggling inside, because if you know Jim Bob very well, you know that he is a very laid back kind of guy at home, and this suits him perfectly. He rarely gets decked-out in anything dressier than a fresh looking pair of khakis.

Remind me to tell you about this old church door
that Jim Bob turned into a corner cabinet

The blue was something we needed in our climate because winter gets rather dreary and depressing here. Everything stays grayish-brown and dead-looking outside for about five months. Coming here from Texas, where winter lasts for about two weeks, that can be a real downer for us, so we decided a cheery blue on the top of the walls so that it looked like a bright blue October sky, or the sky in April after a good rain (and things are beginning to come back to life again) would get us through the winter in a much more cheerful fashion!

We separated the two colors with a simple strip of moulding, painted bright white to match the rest of our trim.

Another reason for these colors: they are calming. With seven people (three grown-ups and four very active children) living in this space, we needed color that would soothe and add peace.

What do you think? Do you have any ideas to make the space more useful?

As you can see in the pictures, our couches are due to be slipcovered. Right now, until I've saved enough to buy the fabric that I need, they are covered with the backs of old quilts. The fabric I have chosen for slipcovers is very washable, and... WHITE! I know, it sounds crazy with four children to use white, but I can bleach white! They are slipcovers, after all.

Thankfully, my mother and I both sew, so this will be a winter project that we will tackle once it is too cold outside to do anymore painting projects. First things first ;).

In my next decor update, I will post pictures of the dining room before and after (including the $20 table that the Lord provided!). See you then!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Budgeting For Your Home Decor

In a recent post, I ended by telling you that I would discuss budgeting for the decor of our homes. If you interviewed your husband about his likes and dislikes, you are ready to move on to this step because he gave you such a handsome budget to work with, right?

"No," you say, your husband just hears the word "decor" and all he sees are dollar signs? Well, you have (hopefully) come to the right place!

The good news is that you do NOT need to spend a large amount of money in order to have a beautiful and God-glorifying home, not at all! No matter if your budget is $5.00 or $5,000 (more or less, in some cases), you can make your home a lovely and comfortable place to be with a little resourcefulness and creativity... and lots of prayer!

Redo, Repurpose, or... Replace

When I began the redo of our main living areas, I knew I didn't have much at all in the way of money with which to work. I knew that there would be precious little wiggle room in our budget, so I set myself a goal: Make do with what I have, or—if I need to buy something—sell something first to cover the expense. That way, I would not be taking money out of our already tight budget.

So, off to the used curriculum fair I went (I actually went to three over the course of a month and a half). I sold around $250.00 worth of old curriculum that I did not need/use and put that money to work to buy the paint and shelving that I needed. Then Jim Bob and I listed the leftovers from those sales on Amazon and covered the expense of decorations, artwork, and any odds and ends needed to finish the job.

I am also planning a late summer garage sale to cover the cost of a few more projects.

This also helps with decluttering, because old items are going out as new items are coming in. "Out with the old, in with the new!"

Ask and It Shall Be Given

But the biggest part of all of this was prayer. Lots of it. I simply asked the Lord to provide for the things I needed, then sat back and watched Him take care of the details. He is so faithful!

The best example that comes to mind about His provision is our new dining room table:

Nine feet long by four feet four inches!

Anyone know the best way to remove 50+ year-old rubber?
In an asbestos suit, maybe?

This table is in pretty rough condition, but with a little elbow grease, it will become a beauty!

Here's the situation: We have a very small 3 foot by 5 foot table that has served us well over the last five years, but with my mother having moved in with us and our youngest becoming a "big girl," we have outgrown this little table. We needed another one to seat our family as well as any guests that we entertain. So, I began asking the Lord to provide a dining room table that would cover these needs. I prayed for about a month, and then one afternoon on the way home from the grocery store with my oldest son, we saw a sign for a garage sale.

It was very late in the afternoon, and if you have ever been to garage sales, you know that is not usually the time to expect very many good finds. They are almost always taken by that point.

So, we pulled up to this lady's house and sitting right in front of her garage was a nine foot long table. The table was solid wood, very heavy, and had a rubber mat inset on top. The owner said that it was a table found at an auction from one of the old schoolhouses in our county. I looked it over thoroughly and asked her how much she was asking for it. I was thinking I would take it if she said anywhere between $25.00 to $40.00. She replied, "$20.00" With my heart racing, I said, "I'll take it!" Truth is, I probably could have talked her down on the price because it was so late in the day but, truth be known, I was so excited, bargaining didn't really come to mind at that moment!

I now have a very large table that I'm going to do something beautiful and purposeful with, and all for a small amount of money and a little work.

My point here is that it can be done! Pray, be patient, and watch the Lord do His thing! He is always faithful to provide.

Setting Goals and Steady Plodding

The reason I tell you this long story during a post on budgeting, if it is not yet obvious, is to show you that you can do this! It can be done very easily on the cheap, without looking so.

Set a goal for yourself and stick to it. Ask your husband to help you think outside the box. You might be amazed at what you'll come up with. And your family can all get in on the redos involved. We are making it a family project for the beginning of this school year (since we homeschool we can easily incorporate this into our days).

Later I'll post more pictures of projects that took us "out of the box," and how we did them. Also, I'll give you a more detailed breakdown of our budget and how we did it all for less.

Stay tuned, it will be an exciting ride!

In the meantime, pray for the Lord to give you guidance in your decorating adventures, trust Him and commit your way to Him, He will provide and show you how!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Waiting Game

So, I got a call from my best friend in Texas last night telling me that she was on her way to the hospital to have her baby. We were all excited because it means that this baby will be born on my mother's birthday, which is today. Happy birthday, Mom!

I still haven't heard anything from my friend. She said she would call me as soon as she could, but we are going on twelve hours now, and I'm getting a little anxious for her.

This is her eighth baby, fourth boy. Her children are precious and I love them dearly.

Please be in prayer for my friend and her new baby. I was with her for the birth of her sixth baby, a precious little girl who is just like her mama! I wish I could be there with her right now also.

I'll leave an update as soon as I hear something. Thank you for praying!

EDIT: My dear friend in Texas has FINALLY had her baby!!!! After a very long 24 hours (maybe more) of labor, she ended up with a C-section this evening. Both mommy and baby are doing well and in recovery as I write this! Praise Jesus!!!!

Thank you for joining me in prayer for my sweet friend and her new baby boy!


P.S. My next post will be on budgeting for the decor of your home, stay tuned...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Lovingkindness and Faithfulness

"It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
And Your faithfulness every night."

—Psalm 92: 1-2

Mental note to self:

  1. Give thanks to Him right away every morning

    This will get me off to thinking in the right direction first thing. No room for negative or ugly thoughts when I'm thanking Him for everything I can think of as soon as I awake.

  2. Declare His lovingkindness every morning

    If I'm alive and breathing, He has been gracious to me and has shown me great lovingkindness to allow me to see the faces of those I love once again.

  3. Every night, review His faithfulness to me and mine

    If we made it through the day intact, and we had everything we needed along the way, He has been most faithful to us, and I should declare it to Him in a prayer of thanks, and teach my children the same.

That's pretty straightforward, I think. I'll spend some time praising Him now. How about you?

There is always, always, always something to be thankful for....

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Wife Adorns Her Husband

From a very young age, I often dreamed of designing and decorating my own home. Now that I am a wife and mother, my dream has come true.

Problem is, however, that it is not only my home. I share this home with others, most noteably, my husband.

Many times in the past, as we were about to move into a new home, I would find myself falling asleep dreaming about all of the decor changes I would make, or how I would paint, or how I would use a piece of furniture in a way that is a bit “out of the box,” so to speak.

Too often, however, I would forget to ask my husband what he wanted in all of the design, except for making sure that we had the budget to make the changes I wanted. But, since it was what I wanted and not what he wanted, when it came time to do the parts that required his help… well, let’s just say a lot of my projects were left unfinished.

Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s much easier to get my husband’s help if he likes what I’m doing, if he feels that I recognize that it’s his home, too. It is in honoring my husband that we were finally able to figure out our style.

In light of this, I thought a post on determining what your husband desires in the decor of your home would be essential to blessing my readers with the ability to create a home that adorns your husband’s vision.

Interviewing Your Husband

Any good interior designer will sit down with her client and have a lengthy discussion about what the client’s desires are for their space—be it the whole house, or an individual room. The purpose of this conversation is to make sure that the designer is equipped to make the dreams of the client—not the designer—come true. This would include such topics as budget, overall look, color scheme, style preference, likes/dislikes, lifestyle, traffic patterns in the home, and overall vision for the space.

Since your husband is the vision setter for your home, it would be appropriate to sit down and discuss these things with him.

Your questions might include:

  • What is your vision for this space?

  • What type of lifestyle do you want us to have?

  • What are some of your favorite things you would like to see incorporated into this space?

  • What colors would you enjoy living with on a day to day basis?

  • What are some of your favorite types of artwork?

  • What things can you not stand to see in your home?

  • How would you like our family to use this space?

  • What makes you feel “at home?”

  • What type of budget can we realistically afford to make this space “ours?”

Looking through some decorating magazines might help with this discussion, especially if either you or your husband need ideas to get the conversation rolling. Have fun with this! Make it a date-night for the two of you, complete with a little dessert and soft music, maybe even a little candlelight!

Discuss openly what you both like, but be sure to really listen to your husband when he speaks. Bite your tongue if necessary… don’t cut him off mid-sentence to talk about your ideas, just listen out of love for that wonderful man the Lord placed in your life. Don’t cheat yourself out of the opportunity to get to know your husband on a whole new level! He might very well surprise you.

You can even take this time to begin cutting out some of the ideas and pictures from magazine articles and placing them into a three ring binder to keep all of your ideas together in one place. Sheet protectors and tab dividers are a wonderful help in keeping this organized.

It probably won’t surprise you to find that you both have many different preferences. Don’t worry about that, just pull out what speaks to either one or both of you. This is simply time to get a conversation going regarding what you both like.

Remember that you are two individuals with many different tastes. He may really like the rustic or minimalist design, and you may really enjoy shabby chic or the posh glamour hotel look. It’s likely that neither of you would like these looks all the time. The idea is to get the ideas flowing so that you have a place to start. Don’t worry if your ideas and your husband’s ideas don’t match up, just be open to each other’s ideas and start talking. Be sure to include laughter about how different your ideas are! And rejoice in the journey you about to take to discover how to combine the things each of you enjoy.

Two Great Tastes… Making Them Taste Great Together

It may take a while to figure out what you both can live with on a regular basis, and that is OK. The most warm and lovely homes I have been in took years to collect all of the things that give it a cohesive look. They took their time and discovered a look that suits the couple to a tee!

I know, I know, you where hoping to have this all done by the time the holidays rolled around so that you could show off your new look to the your holiday guests, right? Remember, our culture is steeped in the “me-first”, and “I have to have it right now” philosophies. You cannot have a home that truly reflects who you are as a family as quickly as you can go through a drive through window and order a burger! It takes time and patience…especially if your budget is limited. But don’t let that dissuade you from making tracks in the right direction. Study what will work for you both and for the needs of your family, and you are already working in the right direction.

And you don’t have to break the bank, and live in debt just to get a “look.” You don’t want a designer showroom, you want a home.

This is a home for both of you. I know we women can come up with all sorts of creative ways to decorate our homes, but we cannot decorate solely based on our likes/dislikes alone. Remember, this man is your best friend, your leader, your soul-mate. Make sure that however you design/decorate your home reflects the love you share that makes you a family.

Your husband will feel honored if you ask him these questions and he will more than likely have some input you didn’t think of. Some of these ideas may even give you a glimpse that you have never had before into the soul of that great man you married!

Take notes (literally write them down so you won’t forget what he said and you can refer to them when you begin to lose your vision).

Here is a lady who has kept her husband in mind as she decorated her home: Mrs. Catherine

Here is a picture of another wife adorning her husband:

The teacups are hers, the antler chandelier is his.
Together, they’re a blissful union.

Next time I will discuss the importance of decorating on a budget. Until then, I hope you have a blessed day and enjoy getting to know your husband on a new level through this interview process! You will both be blessed!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Best friends

Have you ever had a really rough time over a very long haul, and then the fog clears long enough to help you realize that the Lord was allowing the hard times to grow you in certain ways?

Growing up, I never considered my immediate family to be the ones I should confide in, or the ones with whom I should rest my weary heart during long trials. I think this is commonplace for so many these days. But is it biblical? I think not.

While driving home from an exhausting day, I was thinking on how lonely and rough things have been for far too long, and suddenly I realized, that in mourning all of my losses, the one place that I felt safe and protected, loved and understood, was in my own home. What blessing, what joy overwhelmed me at that moment!

Until now all I've been able to focus on are all my failures as a parent, spouse, and friend. But at that very moment I focused in on the fact that I am exceedingly rich, for I have the heaven on earth that so many desire: I have the love and loyalty of my husband and children. I can truly be me with them.

For one who finds it hard to relate to many (I'm not a very extroverted person, I just play one on T.V.), I find it hard to make new friends everywhere I go. Really. I want to trust people, but experience, and the Bible, tell me otherwise. I also am the kind of person who takes a long time to feel that I can take others into my confidence, and even when I do, it's not a bunch of folks who will fit my criteria of a trustworthy person. I'm content with just a handful.

I have one very close friend outside of my family whom I miss very dearly because we are 1200 miles apart, but other than that, I don't let too many get to know the real me - the true heartfelt and emotional side of me. Maybe I'm strange, but that's all that I can handle.

All at once, as if the heaviness over my soul was lifted, the Lord opened my eyes to see how blessed I am. My family are the few people in this world that I can really be me around... and who I am is o.k. with them! They love me for who I am, and the feeling is mutual. We have every personality type under the sun in our home, but together we are one in Christ.

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (psalm 133:1)

Now that's something for which to praise the Lord! I am blessed! I want to shout it from the mountain tops! O.K., maybe that's a bit much for someone as introverted as I am, but inside that is how I feel (and I do live in the mountains, after all!). And that exuberant joy is just fine with my family.

I can't wait to see their shining faces this morning.....

Monday, August 11, 2008

A little of this and a little of that

Today, I spent most of the day painting as I am hoping to finish up the home redecorating project in our main livng/dining areas before my in-laws come for a visit in a few weeks.

A dining room vignette

Today's project was the hallway which I am painting the same as the other areas because it is right off of the living room. I only completed the cut-ins, but that was plenty considering I only got to it during naptime and after the littles were in bed for the evening.

Here I am starting the project this afternoon.

Starting the cut-ins above the picture rail

This evening was a good time with our traditional "Monday is Mexican" night. I made chicken and cheese enchiladas with refried beans, brown rice, and salad. Jim Bob made sure that we had Salsa music to listen to courtesy of Pandora Radio. Everything turned out very yummy!

We try to have a few "themed nights" throughout each week to give us the feel of eating out even though we are at home. Monday is Mexican, Wednesday is sandwich and picnic at the park night, Friday is Italian night, complete with Mambo Italiano radio, also courtesy of Pandora Radio. We find that this is a great way to introduce the children to other cultures through the taste of their yummy foods and wonderful music, in addition to talking about that place and interesting facts or trivia about that land. We change it up every so often and always try to keep it interesting by trying new recipes.

Afterward, our youngest decided she was big enough to do the dishes herself, so we let her.

Joyfully serving her family

Pausing to smile at Daddy!

As you can see, she had to stand way up on her tippy toes to reach the sink, but she did a great job with Mimi's help!


P.S. More pictures of the entire living/dining room redo coming soon.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

A little quiet time alone

How is it that I have the best husband in the whole world?

When I am running completely on empty he is so sweet to me. Right now he is with my mother and the children getting a bunch of things out of our garage and into storage. Before he left with everyone to go to the storage unit, he came to me and said, "Enjoy a little peace and quiet."

I asked him if he was taking everyone with him. He said that yes, he was. I was so blessed!

I'm not one for taking a large amount of "me time," in fact, I think the whole notion to be silly because, really, we are selfish creatures, and when is it ever truly enough to satiate our internal desire to have more for ourselves? It simply feeds that "me-monster."

Instead, I have learned that I must trust the Lord for the needed down-time necessary to the proper functioning of a busy wife and mother.

And the Lord was gracious enough to provide for my needs as He saw fit. That was through my husband's generosity and kindness. Never mind the fact that Jim Bob has a headache and is tired today from staying up late with me last night so that my food would digest properly. Acid Reflux is such a fun disease ;0)

I praise the Lord today for my husband. We've had our ups and downs in life, but we are truly here for one another. There is a bunch of giving from the heart going on between us both. We both give 100%, as much as we are able, with God's grace. It's never perfect.... never, but it is beautiful.

Whoever decided that 50/50 and equal giving is a good philosophy in marriage never faced the fact of reality. There isn't ever an equal amount of giving all the time. In this mindset, there is no room for true love, for true love puts others before self, and sees to the other's good first, trusting that the Lord Jesus, Who always put others first, will provide for our needs in His time.

And His timing is always perfect. Always.

Thank You, Father, for always providing the down time when You know I need it most. Thank You for providing this wonderful man as my husband. I am humbled and truly grateful.

Have you thanked your husband lately? Have you thanked the Lord for your husband?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes

So, it was one of those days....

I had corrected, reproved, and rebuked too many things too many times.

Finally, after correcting my youngest dear daughter shortly before naptime, I had a long talk with her about what it means to be forgiven.

I said, "Did you know that when you disobey Mommy that you are sinning?" She said, "Oh."

I said, "Did you know that Jesus died on the cross so you can be forgiven for your sins?"

She said, "Him did?"

I said, "Yes, sweetie, Him did!"

She replied with, "Oh, I wuv Him toe much! I blow Him a tiss, and div Him a hud!"

At which point she proceeded to do just that.

With her chubby little hand pressed against her ruby red lips, she blew Him a "tiss," and then wrapped her soft pudgy little arms around the air and made the sweetest hugging groan I've ever heard! It was a good one too... I know because she's wrapped those soft little arms around my neck so many times and made that exact same sound.

I believe with all my heart that Jesus smiled down on her at that moment. I certainly couldn't help it... along with a few tears of joy.

I love being home with my children!

Do you receive forgiveness, like a little child, with all your heart? It's yours for the asking...