Thursday, April 23, 2015

Teach Your Children Well

There is nothing more humbling than re-learning something you should already know from your kids.        During the last few months I have been working on focusing my time and efforts on the things in life that really matter.  We are pulled in so many directions that if we aren't careful we will end up living by default rather than by design.  School, work, family, friends and church--all of these parts of our lives add joy and meaning but they also require something of us.

My son is in high school and we are in the midst of the frenzy that surrounds academics and extracurriculars and test scores--oh, my!  Everything they do is IMPORTANT FOR THE FUTURE.  It will absolutely drive you mad, if you let it, and I have to admit, I let it at times.  This week there was an officer election in one of the groups he belongs to at school.  He and I went to toe-to-toe over whether he would or wouldn't run for office.  For some reason I doubled down on this, because, you know, SCHOLARSHIPS.  And COLLEGE APPLICATIONS.

Finally, after our umpteenth discussion, he turned to me and said "Mom, I don't have time for this.  I have these goals for this upcoming year" and he listed them for me.  "I need  to focus on them and not all the little stuff.  I can do this other thing another year.  It will be alright."

Well.  Apparently he's getting more from the books I'm reading and the podcasts I'm listening to than I am!  (And through osmosis, apparently.  Which could be quite the time-saver if I could figure out how to do it). I agreed to let it go and I couldn't have been prouder of him for standing up for himself, even if it was to me.  Or maybe especially to me.  He's setting his own boundaries and setting his own goals and that's exactly what he needs to do.

I am so honored you took the time to visit my blog!  I would love it if you would like to subscribe to my posts via email.  The link is in the upper right hand side of the page.  Thank you!

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Have a beautiful Sunday, friends!

I am so honored you took the time to visit my blog!  I would love it if you would like to subscribe to my posts via email.  The link is in the upper right hand side of the page.  Thank you!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Take It To The Limit One More Time

Boundaries.  Fences.  Guideposts and playbooks for our lives.  They seem so solid and immovable and final.  But what if they're wrong?  What if--just what if?--they're not our limits but someone else's?

We had a survey done this week on some land we own.  It's been in the family a few decades and over the years fences have been built and corner posts poured in concrete based on the limits and boundaries handed down by previous owners.  But when the surveyor crew came out, we discovered that two of the corners weren't right.  I drove out and saw that small wooden stake standing outside the imposing iron and concrete post,  Just a step further and one foot over the line.

How many times have I not gone past my own (real or imagined) limits?  How many times have I thought I couldn't do something based on someone else's idea of who I should be or what I was capable of doing?  How many times have I imposed boundaries on someone else?  You know those words, meant to help us know our place.  Many times they're spoken in love, but sometimes they're spoken in fear and jealousy.  It's hard to dismiss limits that come from those we love and respect and they become part of the inner conversation in our hearts--you can't do that, that's not your talent, what if you fail?  

We get bogged down in those words and we set our lives in concrete, knowing our place based on someone else's idea of what our limits are.  The next time you hear those words in your heart or from someone else's lips, think hard about whose boundaries they are.  You could discover that your world  might be a little bigger than you thought.

I am so honored you took the time to visit my blog!  I would love it if you would like to subscribe to my posts via email.  The link is in the upper right hand side of the page.  Thank you!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Time We Have Wasted On The Way

I'm not sure I've been wasting time lately, but there sure doesn't seem to be enough of it.  So many things clamor for our attention--the urgent, the important, the must-do-this minute--that it's hard to even consider planning for the future or enjoying the present.  Part of it is the season of life we're in and part of it is my tendency to schedule too much because I'm pretty good at logistics and I can usually make it work.  This past week, though, my schedule (really, the kids' schedules) got the better of me.  There was no time for cooked meals, a presentably clean house, or down time with the family., and certainly no time for writing.  All of the events that took our time were good things and they were all activities we knew were coming.  But still, I had a nagging feeling that something had to give.

This past January, I participated in a phone coaching class with The 1 Thing coaching.  It's based on the book by Gary Keller, The One Thing.  I really enjoyed the book and the class, but I have not been very successful at integrating what I learned into my life, because it seems at times that I'm not in control of my life.  Anybody else every feel that way?  Changing that starts with me and it starts with priority.

Setting a priority (1 priority, hence the name of the book) each day for my business and scheduling time blocks to accomplish that priority are crucial to making our goals happen.  Gary Keller has some great ideas about focus and they apply not just to our business/career, but all aspects of our lives--health, relationships, finance, and spiritual.    Michael Hyatt has a short, free e-book available if you subscribe to his email newsletter.  It's called "Shave 10 Hours off your Work Week" and it echoed a lot of the same ideas in the Keller book and a lot of what Tim Ferris has to say.  In it, he mentioned an app that got my attention:

The 4 quadrants come from Steven Covey's First Things First.  Quadrant 1 (upper left) is important and urgent, which should be top priority.  Quadrant 2 (upper right) is important, but not urgent and is 2nd most important.  Quadrant 3 is urgent to someone else and here is where most people get bogged down.  It's hard to say no to someone who is asking for our help.  I think we should help if we can, but it needs to take a backseat to items in our Quadrant 1.  This old sign explains why, in most cases:

This weekend, I have a free day.  Some activities we previously planned fell through, so, I'm going to take advantage of it and do some short and long term priority planning.  I hope these tools I've shared will help those of you who need a nudge to make better use of this beautiful gift that God has given you.  Because that's what your time really is--a gift.  Use it well.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Be Brave

I love podcasts.  I listen to all kinds--they inspire me, educate me, entertain me and open my eyes to the world in new ways every day.  I recently discovered Michael Hyatt's podcast and have been listening to some older episodes.  This one, called Avoid the Drift, stopped me in my tracks.  The first two questions he suggested every leader should answer weren't anything I haven't heard before.  The 3rd one, though---what brave thing will you do TODAY?  Today?  I think we usually think of bravery as something soldiers do or missionaries or teachers in inner city schools.  But me?  A brave thing today?

And as I listened to his two examples, one a really big, possibly career changing decision and one do-the-right-thing decision, I thought about my friends and family--my people--who do brave things every day.  Serving in the military, working with convicts transistioning to the outside, teaching, fighting cancer, raising our kids in the crazy culture we live in:  all of these are BRAVE things they do every day.  Little and big, these decisions impact us, our families and the world around us.  Our leadership matters and our decisions matter, sometimes more than we think.  

So, friends, what brave thing will you do TODAY?

Friday, April 10, 2015


...or "What an insomniac with a cell phone, credit card and an ebay app can do after midnight"

One night (or morning, depending on how you look at it) recently, having exhausted my blog feed on feedly, emails waiting to be read and facebook (not too many new updates after midnight), I began searching for "vintage turquoise" on auctions ending soon on ebay.  These beauties were reasonably priced and ending by early morning, so I bid on all of them, thinking I would get one.  Lucky me, I won all 4 auctions!  (Anybody else ever do that?  Anybody?)

The  pretty silver belt buckle has a walnut and turquoise inlay, and vaguely reminds me of Smokey and the Bandit for some reason.  

I also won 2 sweet little rings that will need to be resized--1 for me and 1 for my daughter-and a great turquoise cuff.

While in the midst of my nocturnal ebay foray, I began to realize that vintage turquoise and silver has its own language and history and that I knew absolutely nothing about it except I knew what I thought was pretty and was in my price range.  There were details of silver purity, which mines the turquoise came from, names of artists stamped on pieces, Mexican vs. Native American made and all kinds of other details.  It was quite the rabbit hole to go down at that time in the morning.  

After wining all 4 auctions, I felt like I might want to know a little bit more about what I was bidding on next time.  I found these resources  and will be doing some research before the next time the siren song of night-time auctions comes calling.


What treasures do you look for on ebay and etsy?  If you're interested in turquoise, here are a couple pieces for sale right now on ebay that I thought were just lovely.

and this higher-end green turquoise necklace.

Hope you have a fabulous day.  Happy Treasure Hunting!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Smoothing out a quiet edge

Noise.  Inescapable, encroaching noise that demands attention and turns our focus to the rough world around us.  The diesel engine revving in the street, the stereo blaring in the car next to me in traffic, the lady on her cell phone in the grocery store regaling her fellow shoppers with a one-sided conversation that only makes sense to her--these are more than mere distractions.  They hijack our thoughts and threaten to steal our peace, if we let them.

It's in the margins of my life that I find rest.  The few minutes in the car when I turn off the radio and mute the cell phone.  The spare minutes at night when my family sleeps and I am awake, alone with my thoughts.  These cherished moments bring clarity to what has gone on before and focus to what is to come.  Without them, I become muddled and direction-less.  And in my hurry to organize my day within a minute of its life, I lose the quiet edges and lose myself in the process.

And if I know that I need those white spaces, how much more do my children?  How much more do they need time to distill the flow of happenings and thoughts and emotions that come from a young person finding out who they are and who they want to be? Time to pray, time to think, time to listen to nothing and hear everything that your soul wants to say to you.

As a mother, I help my children weave together the fabric of their being.  Love and faith and hope and all the beautiful things they are learning and experiencing as they grow, come together in a tapestry.  And as our lives become busier and faster and full to overflowing, that tapestry gets bunched and wrinkled until it becomes hard to almost impossible to weave the things that matter together.  But as we find a little room, a little space, we can begin to press the wrinkles and smooth out a quiet edge to our life so that we can see the whole and not just the bits.  And the pattern, unfolded and unwrinkled, becomes visible to our hearts and the path forward becomes just a little bit clearer.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Pinterest Projects That I Actually Completed #3: chalk paint coffee table

We have had this large coffee table for several years now and the finish was becoming a little worn.  In our last house, we had a large living room with vaulted ceilings and we purchased a black coffee table to go with the black entertainment center and black bookcase set.  (I had read somewhere on some decorating blogs that black would ground a room.  I'm WAY over the black, grounded or not.)

In our current house, the room is much smaller and the ceilings are much lower and the black is just much too much.  It overpowers the other furniture and makes the space seem small.  I had always wanted to try chalk paint,but I wasn't sure about the finish.  I'm so used to a more glossy look on painted furniture, that I wasn't sure a matte finish would work for me.  However, the promise of not having to prime or sand won me over.  

Here's what I started with:

I used Americana Decor paint that I bought at Home Depot and my trusty Purdy brush and went to town.  They only had the small jars, so I had to buy 2.  The paint covered really well and two coats were really all it needed, if you were okay with a more rustic finish.

After the two coats of paint, I used a clear wax on it to protect the finish.  It was easy to apply with the special brush and gave it a bit more gloss. 

I could have stopped there, but I was still concerned about the wear and tear on the top, so, I used some leftover paint from when we painted the paneling in the living room.  The color White Dove matched the chalk paint perfectly and that last coat was exactly what it needed.

This probably took a total of 2 hours painting time with the 3 coats and I think that is a little on the high side.  It was easy and made a big difference.  

Have you painted anything with chalk paint?  How did that work out for you?

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!


Up from the grave He arose!
With a mighty triumph o'er his foes.
He arose a victor from the dark domain;
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose!  He arose!  Hallelujah!  Christ arose!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Jesus Paid It All

  1. I hear the Savior say,
    “Thy strength indeed is small;
    Child of weakness, watch and pray,
    Find in Me thine all in all.”

    • Jesus paid it all,
      All to Him I owe;
      Sin had left a crimson stain,
      He washed it white as snow.

  2. For nothing good have I
    Whereby Thy grace to claim;
    I’ll wash my garments white
    In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.
  3. And now complete in Him,
    My robe, His righteousness,
    Close sheltered ’neath His side,
    I am divinely blest.
  4. Lord, now indeed I find
    Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
    Can change the leper’s spots
    And melt the heart of stone.
  5. When from my dying bed
    My ransomed soul shall rise,
    “Jesus died my soul to save,”
    Shall rend the vaulted skies.
  6. And when before the throne
    I stand in Him complete,
    I’ll lay my trophies down,
    All down at Jesus’ feet.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Preparing the Table

"Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed.  And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.”
 So they said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare?”
And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. Then you shall say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’  Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.”
 So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover."  Luke 22:7-13
I went early to orchestra rehearsal, hoping for a moment to myself.  I love the quiet space of the empty sanctuary.  It had been a busy day, full of phone calls and customers and appointments and traffic.  I wanted a few minutes to compose myself before the small ensemble began practicing for the Easter service.  I don't play regularly but the director wanted someone for the orchestral bells (xylophone for the uninitiated) and all the usual suspects were busy in other ways in the service.  I agreed, but I am sure Handel himself will be shouting Hallelujah when the piece is over and I am done muddling my way through his Chorus.  There are so many talented people who do so much behind the scenes to prepare for the worship service each Sunday.  I am always humbled when I am asked to help out in a small way.
A table had been laid at the front of the church.  The pottery cups and plates, wax fruit and tablecloth for the tableau of the Last Supper took center stage.  I thought again of the invisible hands that do so much around our church.  And I thought of the disciples sent ahead by Jesus to prepare the table.  They still did not understand what was to come, but they prepared for the part they did understand.  Isn't that what we are still called to do today?  We don't know what's to come.  We don't understand everything that happens.  We can only prepare for what we do know and trust in the Lord with all our hearts and do not lean on our own understanding
As we journey toward the cross and the empty tomb, I am reminded of the need to be continually preparing my heart through prayer and study in anticipation of the One who is and who is to come.  I fall so short of that, but thank God we serve a risen Savior who is in the world today and willing to pick me up and dust me off and set me on the path again.  And again.
Blessings to you, friends.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Easter Dinner Plans

It is finally warm here and the trees are budding!  With the sunshine, I'm ready to work in our small raised vegetable garden, freshen up the flower beds and do a little spring cleaning.  This Easter our daughter will be confirmed in our church and we'll have Easter dinner at our house.
Here's what's on the menu:

I've never heard of this and I've lived in the south most all my life.  It has lots of food I love:  cornbread, beans, bell peppers, corn, cheese, ranch dressing and bacon.  It's got to be AWESOME.

Another salad we'll be having is Pioneer Woman's Pea Salad:  

This dish reminds me of church potluck dinners, family Thanksgivings and just says love to me.  Can't wait.

And of course, there will be ham.  I usually cook mine in the crockpot while we're at church and it's ready to go when we get home.  This brown sugar & mustard glaze is wonderful and the coca-cola gives it a bit of sweet while keeping the meat moist in the pot.  There will be a plate of fresh raw veggies and maybe this dip.

All of these recipes are make ahead which makes Easter lunch a lot less stressful.  I still haven't worked out dessert, yet.  I made this last year:

I still have dreams about it.  I cannot explain how delicious it is.  However, we are celebrating my daughter's confirmation AND her birthday, and since she is an avowed chocaholic, I believe that's the direction dessert will have to go in.  I'm still working on that and when I choose, I'll post pics and the recipe here.  

So, what are you having for Easter dinner?