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Wow! I can't believe I have not blogged in such a long time! It seems impossible that 5 months have passed (well, technically, not 5 months yet, but close) since I last wrote something on here. What a bad blogger I am! But I haven't been without excuse. Here are the top reasons I have been silent:
1. My oldest daughter, now 28 decided it was time to go back to school and finish her degree that she started 10 years ago. She moved to Savannah in early September to go to the Art school there, and that was a huge adjustment as well as a busy time for the rest of us. And seems like she was home for the weekend for more time than she was at school!! (no school on Fridays made it easy!!)
2. Homeschooling happened. Even though we did not blog about it, we did it. And did guitar and piano lessons, and history, math, reading, spelling, and more. We took pictures. But they are still on my computer. I will share them soon.
3.Thanksgiving. Need I say more??? But I will. #1 daughter finished her first semester Nov. 17 and was home until Jan. 2. Wish I had that long of a break from hard stuff!! But that meant more things to do to add to the list. And food to cook. And laundry to do. Good, but busy time.
4. More travel. We went to Disney with my niece and her family from Ohio. Right after Thanksgiving. So much fun but busy. Pictures to follow....sometime.
5. Injury. Right after we got back from Disney on December 4, I was using the mandoline to slice some potatoes (you know where this is going, don't you??) and sliced a hunk of my middle finger off, as well as slicing my index finger and my thumb on my RIGHT hand. And I am right handed. It took 3 weeks to fully heal. I really lost some serious time there, because I couldn't type at all for 2 weeks. It is all better now, except it feels really funny....like the nerves are exposed or something. You can't tell by looking at it though. And every day it feels a little better.
6. Christmas parties. Several to host. MOPS here at my house December 12. And our annual Christmas breakfast for our neighbors on Christmas day. That was fun and huge. Thankfully my fingers were healed by then.
7. New Years and Alicia going back to school. She wanted us to accompany her back to Savannah, but we just couldn't. We didn't have the time that week, so....
8. More travel. We went to Savannah for MLK holiday. Left last Thursday. Back on Tuesday, late.
So here I am, finally, without excuse anymore. Except, the real excuse, the real reason is LIFE. It is just so daily. And this blog just seems to go by the wayside. So What I've decided to do is:
Join my friend Lain for her LOAD challenge. This is for scrapbooking, but I am going to use it for blogging my scrapbook pages. I hope that will help me with consistency and with digging into my memories because if I don't share them, who will?
One thing I learned while teaching literature to my kids is that one reason for reading good books is that the author is the only one with his perspective on the story he is telling. He is truly the only one who can tell that story in his way. And the same thing is true for me. And God has been showing me how he perfectly directed my life to lead me to where I am today. Sure, I've had hard things happen to me. But my perspective in hind sight is so much more than what it was when I was in the throws of the event. So I am the only one who can share that with my family, friends and with you.
So I hope you'll keep reading. I promise I will be a better blogger. It is my commitment to you, and to my family. And to my God. His story is worth telling. And reading.
If you want to join me for the Lay Out A Day challenge (LOAD), I would love it so much. Just click on the link.
Still standing Amazed,
I read a profound blog post on(in)courage, on of my favorite blogs that I read daily, and I think it will forever change my life....
It was called "Why Weren't You Moses?". In a nutshell, the author, Angie Smith was reading a book about St. Francis of Assisi called Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale by Ian Morgan Cron. In this post, she eloquently related something simple, yet something so profound: God made us the way we are, to minister to those he has put around us JUST AS WE ARE --- WHO WE ARE RIGHT NOW.
He doesn't need us to change to do the job we are called to do right now. He needs us to depend on Him.
Which means: My church, my friends, my family ---- they need me.
NOT someone I hope to be someday.
Not someone I compare myself to.
Not just anybody.
Not anybody else. JUST ME.
HE put me THERE, in that position I feel so inadequate to fulfill. In fact, if he would have wanted someone else to live in my shoes, they would be.
This means I don't need to compare myself to someone else. Not my best friend, my pastor's wife, or even my husband. I don't need to worry about what I don't have, or feel I have been equipped for, or that someone else could do it better than I can. It also means I don't have to have the most verses memorized, work in children's choir or sing on the worship team if he didn't call me to do it. I don't have to know all the journeys of Paul, or all the Beatitudes in order to serve where I am called. That stuff fills me with pride anyway, and he has to smack me down when that happens. (I don't really have to worry about my pride in the memorization arena. My mind seems to have found the delete button and has started eliminating important information on a regular basis. However, I can still remember all the lyrics to every song from the Mary Poppins movie, as well as a host of other 60's and 70's hits. I guess my brain thinks that is priority information. I don't agree. Remembering where I laid my keys down would be much higher on the totem pole in my estimation. But apparently even though it is my brain, I don't get to choose what it remembers at this stage in life. My theory is that the hard drive space is all filled up, so it has to dump stuff in order to remember new information. Unfortunately, I don't control what it remembers and what it forgets. Where was I anyway??)
I have so much stuff. Coming home from a trip always brings that to the forefront. We have to unload into the house, and put everything away. Thats when I realize how much stuff we have. And I am not satisfied. I want the latest gadget, and everything I can afford to make my life easier. The trouble is, there is always something else I think I need. But I am realizing that nothing can give me the contentment that I have in Christ. And the more I have, the more I have to maintain.
We had a friend in Michigan who used to say: "the price of ownership is maintenance." And I am so bogged down right now with maintaining, that I never have time to do the 'fun stuff.' I don't want to make a mess doing something I like, because I will have to clean it up. And cleaning that up on top of all the other things I have to clean up and maintain adds more than I am willing to do. And I have so many things to choose from. Paper crafts, sewing, cooking, writing and other things, that my mind is too cluttered to think of what to do, much less make the mess it requires to do it.
And this is not even considering the time and energy it requires to maintain all this stuff. I don't want to have people over because I will have to shove all this excess somewhere, or actually find a spot for it and put it away. And I am so tired because I have to maintain so much that I cannot even imagine having new people in my house. And that is not right. We are created for relationships, and I feel I have a real gift for hospitality. But I can't use my gift when there is so much stuff that people can't get in the door.
So what can I do? Repent. Thats the only solution. What does it mean to repent? Literally it means to turn around. If you find yourself going in the wrong direction, just turn around, ask forgiveness, and begin going in the right direction.
I have been so convicted and convinced that this is right, that I think it is going to be easy.
First, I need to purge and donate.
God keeps providing me with places to donate that which I no longer wish to maintain. My clothes, shoes, purses and wearables are going to church. Things that I like the fabric but maybe not the style, if I can, I will repurpose, or recreate into something I like.
Pantry items that are shelf stable will also go to the food pantry at church. There are so many people who can't afford food right now, and I can afford extra. Why do I stockpile food when the Bible clearly states: "give us THIS DAY our daily bread?" A week's worth is what we need. We have 6 people living in our home, but enough food for an army. I need to share when I go to Costco and get 3-6-12 in a pack. I will never miss it, and those who need it will appreciate it.
Books are going to the hospital for their library. Homeschool stuff to the 'fire closet' for those who have had an emergency or cannot afford good books.
Kitchen and misc household items will probably go to Goodwill. Or wherever God leads. But I cannot continue like this. It is driving me crazy not to have room for things. Or time for reading, writing, or playing games with my kids without feeling like I am robbing from my 'free time' for myself.
Second, I need to discipline myself not to buy.
The key to this lies in being satisfied in Him. I have known for a long time that when I feel sad, I shop. I am like the girl in the movie "confessions of a shopaholic", except my need is not for designer stuff, its just for something pretty, something new to me, and something that fills the void. But it never works. It just creates something for me to have to clean around, clean up or put away. God has been so faithful in this. He has been clearly showing me what it is ok to buy, and what I need to leave behind in the store for someone else. Yes, I said leave behind for someone else. Thats what I am learning: if I buy it, the person who needs it cannot have it. Even if there are 19 of the items on the shelf. If it is not for me, I need to leave it there.
Also, What I have is enough. Too much, even. I cannot play with my kids, make cards for other people, and even enjoy life when it is this cluttered.
God is preparing me for something. I have no idea what it is, but maybe we will be able to travel spend more time on the road when we do not have all this junk in our lives. Maybe that's not it at all. Maybe it is just to have time to let myself have fun instead of feeling like I need to work all the time. I don't know. But I do know I am excited to do this.
Today is Fatterday. This is the one day of the week that Alicia, our oldest daughter, who on every other day carefully watches what she eats, eats whatever she likes. So Saturday, in our family has become Fatterday. Usually we go out to breakfast on Fatterday, but since Faith and I are now gluten-free, it limits our menu selection, and we cannot enjoy pancakes out anymore. So I found this recipe and tried it out on the 'fam' and everyone liked them as well as the whole wheat ones I used to make, so this has become our Fatterday staple. This is basically the same recipe as the other one, just used all oat flour and veggie oil instead. AND, there are pictures this time!! Here is the recipe again:
We think they are just about perfect. Only bad thing is that I have to cook them instead of getting to go out to breakfast. But I think it is a fair trade. We have been to the Original Pancake House since they have gluten-free pancakes, but honestly, these are much better. And we don't have to spend the big bucks they charge for their food if I make them at home. If you have a vitamix, even better, since you can just use regular oatmeal and grind it into a fine flour yourself. YUM!
We are now in Ohio, but I thought I would share some of what we did while we were visiting our northern neighbors.
If you've never been north of the border, you should go. Canada is beautiful, although I must confess that it does look an awful lot like the northern part of our country. Of course, to judge all of the beautiful land that is Canada by the postage stamp sized portion that we saw would not be right. But we did enjoy our visit, and recon that if the rest of Canada is anything like the part that we saw, we could happily live there.
It is said that 90% of the population of Canada live within 100 miles of the border. I think that must be true, since the Niagara area employs many people due to the tourism of the area. It was a good thing many Canadians call that area home and work there, because there were plenty of tourists there to keep them busy. We really enjoyed meeting and interacting with so many kind, helpful people, and would like to say a huge "thank you" to everyone who helped make our time up north such fun.
We had 4 great days there, and here are some of the highlights.
Day 1 started out with a great bike ride from our campground, the beautiful Windmill Point, to the Peace Bridge. Windmill Point was not the closest campground to Niagara, but it was so beautiful, that we were very happy to be there. It was an easy 7 mile ride, and then we turned around and did the 7 miles back. Most of that is right up next to the Niagara River, and it is a gorgeous ride. No commercial buildings, just lovely private homes with a trail practically in their back yards. The trail was paved and mostly flat, going through several parks and a beach area as well as a cute neighborhood that was on road (no trail) but we didn't see any cars so I think it must be very lightly traveled. I didn't take any photos, and I am really sad about that, but I have my memories, and they are most important to me anyway, so there you go. Then we went to the lake at the campground and dinked around there for the rest of the day and enjoyed a campfire that evening. A perfect day.
Day 2 we went to Fort Erie.
It was a short distance from the campground, and it was so cool. This location was a pivotal point in the War of 1812, and they have rebuilt the fort much as it would have been then. They had costumed guides as docents, and they told us the history and background of the importance of the Fort in Canadian as well as American history.
It was the perfect homeschool field trip: we all learned so much that it made us want to learn more, AND we had fun at the same time. Who could ask for anything more?
We ate dinner at a local diner, called "Greenacres". The food wasn't great, but it was an adventure, and it wasn't bad either. We found our way back to the campground and turned in early so we could rest up for the next day.
Tomorrow (or whenever I get around to it), I will tell you about the rest of our time in the great country to our north: the great country of C-eh?-N-eh?-D-eh? Did you get that? C-A-N-A-D-A!