Friday, December 31, 2010

December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) (Author: Jenny Blake)

Five years from now...2016...#1 will be 12 and in sixth grade. #2 will be almost 10 and in fourth grade. #3 will be 8 and in second grade. I will be 38 (almost 39-wow that seems old). My main squeeze and I will be married for 16 years. What a crazy thought.

Dear self,
I'm not sure where to begin. When you look at your main squeeze, do you remember all the reasons you fell in love with him? Are you cherishing him and respecting him? Are you making time for each other? Do you still melt when you kiss? If not, figure out why, and fight to get it back.

#1 is halfway through his first year of middle school. Show him love. Slow down and take time with him. Make your home a place where he wants to be and wants to bring his friends. Encourage him to be kind and tenderhearted. As he moves forward from inheriting his faith to owning his faith, help him. Give him spiritual wings.

#2 is probably struggling with wanting to be grown up and wanting to still be a kid. Spend time with her. Help her realize how special she is regardless of what others say or think. Teach her how to be nice and avoid drama. Model to her that she can find her value in her relationship with Jesus.

#3 will be just a year older than #1 is now. Remember how rambunctious and active #1 was at this age, and give him grace and space. Encourage him to be a good friend. Teach him love and respect. Take time to help him as he grows in his walk with Jesus. Let him have fun as you teach him.

As for yourself, do you still dream dreams? Your family has always supported and cheered you on. If there's something you want to accomplish, think it through, talk to your main squeeze about it, and go for it. You mean a lot to a lot of people. Show them love and live the best you can, giving God the glory for what he does through you.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Reverb 10 - Trying

December 18 – Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it? (Author: Kaileen Elise)

I want to learn to play the guitar this year. My parents bought me my guitar for my birthday my junior year of college ( I think ). I played it that summer at the camp where I was a counselor. I could play 5 chords - D, G, A, Em, and C. If you can play those 5, you can play most camp songs. I've played the guitar on and off, but never really got past those 5 chords. I hated having finger calluses. I don't strum strongly, and basically, the guitar can be hard if you don't practice.

Really, though, there's no reason I shouldn't be able to play the guitar. I was a music major for pete's sake! I understand the theory behind it. I know the notation. I know notes, rhythms, and chords. I can tune the thing without a tuner.

There's 2 reasons I want to pick up the guitar - maybe 3....First, I want to enjoy music this year. I don't really get to do anything with music that isn't work. I teach lessons; I teach music classes; I direct a choir. And while I enjoy all of my music related jobs, I don't really just get to enjoy making music to make music.

Second, I would like to be able to play guitar for myself while I sing. I've always enjoyed the "singer-songwriter" sound, and I'd like to be able to pull that off. The crazy thing is, I can almost see myself sitting on a stool, in a church, talking to other women from the heart, and then singing from the heart while I play for myself. Maybe that's a little unrealistic, but it's a dream.

Third....the guitar is just cool....amen.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reverb 10

December 16 – Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)

It all started with a question on Facebook: Would you attend a homosexual wedding/ceremony?

I took a double take when I read my friend's questions, but I knew there were some members of her family that were homosexual, and I thought she was talking about them.

Feeling firm in my beliefs, I replied, "If it was someone near and dear to me, I would express that I love them dearly, but I would not attend. Chances are if they are near to me, they would know my personal beliefs."

A few weeks later, I saw this friend. We spent the evening chatting it up with another friend, and talking about everything in the universe. I asked her about her Facebook question, and then she dropped the bomb. She was engaged to another woman. My heart sank. My head spun. My face was flushed. I didn't even see it coming.

The hardest thing for me to hear was when she said, "I know you can quote me a thousand verses of Scripture about why you think this is wrong. I don't want to hear it."

So I listened.

She told me about her relationship. There were a lot of things that weren't healthy in this relationship, but she was blind to them. The lump in my throat was so big, I couldn't voice them. Fortunately, our other friend who was there did.

Later, when I pulled out of the driveway headed home, I cried and prayed. I didn't know what to do next. I asked God to help me be a friend to her. I grew up hearing the phrase, "You can hate the sin and love the sinner," meaning you can be against the actions and still love the person. I had even said that same phrase to other people when advising them, but I had really never had to deal with it in such a personal way. I had no idea how to show her love.

I asked God to help, and He did. He gave me chances to show her love in tangible ways without having to compromise my beliefs.

It's hard for me sometimes to watch her make choices in her life. For me, most of my life's choices are black and white because I believe the Bible cover to cover, and God is the ultimate authority in my life. There are a lot of gray areas in her life. I'm not sure if it's because she doesn't know the Scripture or if she doesn't want to believe it. I sense in her life that there's a power struggle about who's really in charge. So I pray for her. We don't see each other often, unfortunately, so I facebook stalk. We call on occasion, and I listen. I pray that what comes out of my mouth will lead her to a deeper walk with Christ. I know my friendship with her has encouraged me to walk closer to Him.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reverb 10 - 5 minutes until memory loss....

December 15 – 5 Minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. (Author: Patti Digh)

My kids have fabulous imaginations - they play and play. Sometimes they fight and fight. I spent a lot of time teaching them how to talk and work things out. It's worth it.

My kids are incredibly beautiful....I can't say it enough

I was disappointed in a friend's choice, but I tried not to let it affect my love for her. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

#1 and #2 played sports this year - basketball and football. They are passionate about it.

#1 is really starting to understand football. He's so much like his dad

#2 won 2nd place in the Awana Grand Prix this year for car design. She was thrilled.

I started having eye issues relating to my A.S. Still dealing with them, but have a strategy that works.

A dear friend battled breast cancer and won!

Our dear friends and neighbors moved away....

God provided our youth group a ministry truck and transformed it into the Mean Green Jesus machine. We used it all summer. We had the inaugural Summer Love Squad. It changed my life.

#3 expressed his love for puppets.

#1 started losing teeth

#2 started preschool

#3 is potty trained

I love not carrying a diaper bag or having to worry about sippy cups when we travel

Choir Tour was amazing...I don't know how we're going to top it.

I have great voice students.

I got to sing the national anthem at a baseball game.

I saw the Blue Man Group on JR/SR weekend

I love my husband like crazy

My grandpa turned 90.

My sister had a baby, and I was there for it

We took the kids to Disney for the first time...they loved it...we did too

#1 got straight A's, and we were so proud.

Reverb 10 - Appreciate

December 14 – Appreciate. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein)

The thing that I've come to appreciate the most is not a thing - it's a person - my Main Squeeze. There are a hundred reasons I appreciate and love the mess outta him. He knows when I need help, and when I need to be left alone to do it myself. He has a great way of identifying when I need a few hours at Starbucks. He works his tail off. He always takes care of things around our house to make it look and feel nice. He is passionate about what he does. He's a big kid at heart. He loves God, his family and his church. He is fearless. He loves me unconditionally. He always wants to bring the best out in people.

Have I mentioned that he's incredibly handsome too???

But those things aren't what I appreciate the most about him....

The thing that I've come to appreciate the most about him this year is that he loves lavishly. If he's going to show love, it's gonna be big. He's a great gift giver. He'll listen to you and pick out something for you that you'll love. Last year for my birthday, he took me out to buy a new dress (we ended up buying 3), then to a fancy dinner, then to a broadway show at a local theater, then a night at a hotel. I didn't ask for that, but I loved every second of it.

It's not just about lavish gifts. He can tell when someone needs more of his time. Like tonight, he let #1 stay up late, and they put a lego set together. Sometimes, he'll just sit down at his mom's desk at church, just to talk to her. For Christmas, he took his mama to the Rockette's Christmas show. He remembered that when his mom was little she wanted to be a Rockette. She loved the show, but what she loved even more was getting to spend time with her son.

I realized just a few weeks ago, I want to be more like him in this area. It's not that I don't know when people need my attention and affection, I know. It's not that I can't come up with great gift ideas, because I can. I just tend to love stingily. I spend time when it's convenient for me. I try to spend as little money as possible on a gift. I do the smallest that I can, and then I convince myself it's good enough - better than nothing. It's stupid.

I feel it especially in December. We have 2 birthdays in December - my Main Squeeze's and #1's. They are quite close to Christmas day. I always find myself trying just to give one of the things I got for my Main Squeeze for Christmas for his birthday, and sometimes cringing when I do. Well, I didn't do it this year. I gave to him for his birthday the way he gives to me year round. It was big. I did the same thing for him for his Christmas stocking. Instead of getting little cheap things just to fill his stocking because I felt like I had to fill his stocking, I put something in it that I knew he'd love. I also tried to spend time helping him take care of things in "his world." He normally takes care of everything outside our house. This week, our Christmas lights were falling off our house because we had a wind storm. I knew he wasn't really ready to take them down, but they did look ridiculous. Normally, I'd just leave them and let him take care of them when he felt like it, but since I knew it was bothering him, I just started taking them down while he was working on some things in the garage. He joined in, and the whole job was done in a little more than an hour (did I mention our house won the neighborhood decorating contest?)

Those 3 things were inspired by him - 3 choices to show lavish love. It didn't really take much, but I knew they meant a lot. It made me feel good. I need to do it more.....thanks sweetie.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A couple of Reverb10 catch up posts December happened...reverb10 went on the back burner. But I still like the project, so I'm going to do the posts that I've connected with and not the others. I'll probably do a couple per post, so hang on.

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

Hmmm, different....I don't consider myself all that different. Probably the thing about me that is the most unique, and that people like (or possibly hate) about me is that I don't hide things. What you see is what you get. If I'm having a rough, stressed out kinda day, you'll know it. If I'm excited, you'll know it. If I'm disappointed, you'll know it. If I'm amazed at something you'll know it.

I show it in the way I talk, the lessons I teach, and how I interact with people. It's my goal to show it when I sing. I want people to see that I'm connected to the emotions in my music and that the words mean something to me. I try to be an open book. It can be a great thing, and it can be a bad thing too. When I try to be guarded, it doesn't work out so open book it is. Love it or hate it, it works for me.

December 11 – 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

1 - clothes that I hope will fit one day
2 - sweating the small stuff
3 - keeping things in my house I don't love
4 - overloading my schedule
5 - excessive calories
6 - doing things that I enjoy as hobbies as work. I need to just do the things I enjoy for enjoyment.
7 - doing work after 9
8 - more sedentary activities
9 - eating colorless processed foods
10 - excuses
11 - putting off inevitable hard jobs....just get 'em done and move on.

December 13 – Action. When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)

It's funny that I chose this one after the last one. It's almost New Years, and I've been struggling with the idea of writing a resolution or not. I have 100 ideas of things I'd like to change and experience in the New Year. Having to write out the 11 things that I want out of my life made me realize the next thing I need to do is eliminate some things that are holding me down so I can do some things I'd love. I think the first thing is getting up at the same time (a little earlier) each morning, going to bed at the same time each night, and making sure I get some down time to rest.

I also need to do things that I enjoy just for enjoyment, not for work. For instance, I love music. But I work at music - I teach a choir, I teach voice and piano lessons, I teach Kindermusik classes. I enjoy all of those jobs, but I rarely get to just make music for pure enjoyment. I'm going to learn to play guitar this year, just because I enjoy it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reverb10 - Day 6 - Making stuff!

Prompt: Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? Author: Gretchen Rubin

I love this one. I make stuff all the time!!! It's what I love to do!!! Most of the time I just make a mess. Here are a couple things I've made recently.

Our Christmas Card....I love making Christmas Cards. I love making anything on my computer. I used a great picture by Jen Dinkins, some digi scrap supplies, a couple of fonts, and the Photoshop Elements computer program, and BAM, you have a Christmas card. I normally make them 4x6 size. I got ours printed at Ritz camera and they should be in my mailbox tomorrow. :o)

I also made this....

It's all the words from Luke Chapter 2 in a word cloud. You can make one free at It's easy. You type in the words. Wordle generates a word cloud. You change the font and colors until it looks good. Then you save it as a pdf or take a screen shot for it to be a .jpg. I tossed the word cloud into photoshop and put a red border. Then I uploaded it to an online printing service, and I'm having it blown up poster size for a Christmas decoration.

I etched candles as gifts for our friends. I used jar candle sets from walmart, sticker and stencil sets, painters tape and etching cream. It was a really fun project. I'll post pix and a tutorial later.

I also made fotobooks on Facebook of our vacation for our kids to put in their stockings. I took screenshots as I went along. I'll post them later too.

All in all - I like making stuff!

Reverb10 day 5 - Letting Go

Author: Alice Bradley

Prompt: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I let go of a prejudice this year. It's strange to think in 2010 that people still hold onto prejudice. It's something that I think people had to deal with in the '60's with the Civil Rights movement. Occasionally I still hear an older person use a "racial slur" in their conversation, but I never think of prejudice as something I needed to deal with.

I mentioned in an earlier post about a group from our church reading the book "Guerrilla Lovers" by Vince Antonucci over the summer. Each week this group - we called ourselves the "Love Squad" - would read a chapter together, talk about it, then spend the morning going out and sending "love bombs" into the community. That sounds violent - it really wasn't. We would go out in the vans with big coolers of lemonade and whenever we saw a person working outside, we'd run up to them with a cup of lemonade, and offer it to them. You'd be surprised at how many people look at you like you're crazy because you offer them a cup of cold lemonade on a sweltering hot day.

The first question they ask is "Why?" The answer was, "Because we want to show you God's love." Then the conversation continued.....

I could tell you 100 stories about lemonade blessings....probably a story for another day...

The missions got harder for me when we went to minister to the homeless. We have a significant homeless population in our city. So we went equipped with bags of bread and bottles of water and other non-perishables, and we spent the day finding homeless people, talking to them, giving, praying, listening.

As I walked through the day I felt myself fighting feelings of uneasiness and resistance. I saw how easily the people I was with (many of whom were younger than me) sat and talked with the homeless just like they were anyone from their school or work. I winced inside as they passed out bag after bag of food. One bag? Sure. But bag after bag? I listened as I heard one girl say, "We can give you so much because God gives big blessings." I knew my feelings were wrong, and I was fighting them.

I had read John 13:34-35 where Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know you follow me, if you love one another."

How will people know I'm a follower of God if I don't love like God? God loves lavishly. God loves bountifully. God loves when we don't deserve it. God loves the mighty and important, and the meek and seemingly insignificant exactly the same. I knew I needed to love that way. I had to let go of my prejudice.

I remembered back 6 months before that. I was riding in the car with #1, and we drove to an intersection where a homeless man held a sign "Homeless and hungry. Anything will help." #1 asked me what the sign said. I told him, then I locked the door. He said, "We could get him something." I drove off. And as I did, I went into this long explanation of how this man was on the side of the road because he most likely made poor choices in his life that led to other poor choices, and I told him that giving him a meal wouldn't help him make right choices, and that's why we ignore people on the side of the road. I remember feeling self-righteous as I spoke. #1 listened and understood. I had just taught him my prejudice.

As I continued through my summer day, I felt my heart melting and my hands opening as I let the truth of God's word help me release my prejudice and condemning spirit. I know handing out bread and water and groceries is not going to solve the homeless problem in my community. The Bible even says in Matt 26:11 that you will always have the poor with you. But I know for me, a big step in becoming more like Jesus was to see people like He does - not one any better than the other - and loving them the way God wants me to.

The other great thing about the day was that all three of my kids were there. They saw love in action. They learned that love breaks down walls. I actually talked to #1 about our car conversation 6 months earlier. He remembered it, amazingly. I apologized to him, and told him I was wrong. He said, "it's ok mom." He's the first one to jump in the Green Truck - the Green Mean Jesus Machine. He loves to serve already. He'll pray with people at our church food bank. I'm glad this is one prejudice that won't be passed down to the next generation. Hopefully, only unconditional love will be passed on.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Reverb10 day 4

I'm a little late on this (4days...), but I really am enjoying the writing process....bear with me.

Prompt: Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? Author: Jeff Davis

I don't think I did anything specific to cultivate a sense of wonder this year, but there was a moment of wonder that took my breath away...I have a photo of it....

This is #1 and #2 loving each other...

We were blessed to be able to spend 4 days at the Magic Kingdom this year for a vacation. Normally, I feel stress going into a vacation because I know it doesn't take much variation in the schedule or surroundings of my kids to get them in a minor funk. I don't look forward to public meltdowns. I'm not sure there's a mom out there who does! I've been spending the majority of my efforts with the kids in getting along - how to talk instead of shout, how to show grace when wronged, how to share, how to deal with disappointment, etc. It's exhausting many times, and I don't always see the fruit of my efforts. I was not looking forward to continue teaching while we're on vacation at Disney. I wanted a vacation from character development....

We were in day 2 of our vacation. Everyone had Mickey ears. We were going and seeing and doing and giggling. Then we got in line for Dumbo, and I looked up, and #1 reached over and put his arm around #2 and said, "I love you, and I'm glad you're my sister."

Normally #2 would push him away, but she put her arm around him and said, "Thanks, I love you too." And they stood in line together.

It was working. They like being together. They love each other. They are talking to each other - kindly. YEAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

I know it's not all about me feeling accomplished, but BOY did I feel like super mom!!!

It just kept getting better. We all worked together to pick the next ride/show/whatever we were going to do. No fighting. Lots of compromising, talking kindly and problem solving. I was beginning to believe that the Magic Kingdom was truly magical.

Then it came time to leave the park - no fits, no meltdowns. We walked out of the park hand in hand in hand in hand in hand singing "You got a Friend in Me" at the top of our lungs - all 5 of us. We got weird stares from the foreigners who were wearing their socks pulled up to their knees and sandals, and it didn't matter. We were having fun as a family. We were enjoying each other.......aaaaahhhh

Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. A different author each day delivers a prompt to help you complete the mission of Reverb 10.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Reverb10 Dec3 - The moment this year I felt most alive

December 3 Prompt: Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author - Ali Edwards)

I spent a lot of time thinking on this one. I thought a lot on what it really meant to me to be "most alive." For me being most alive meant connecting with the things that mean the most to my life. That made it easy for me to narrow it down.

It was the middle of the summer - hot and humid. I had been challenged reading the book Guerrilla Lovers by Vince Antonucci. There were a million thoughts running through my head - doing something bigger than myself for God, being dissatisfied with the status quo of my faith, and delivering surprise attacks of God's love to change the course of someone's life. At the end of the chapter I had just read, I was handed a challenge - Do something. Do something for someone out of love and kindness, just to show them God's love. The worse thing about it was I couldn't just read it and let it go. I had to do it. A small group of people from our church was reading the chapter together, and we were all going to do the challenge on our own through the week and then report back the next week. I couldn't just let it go, but how could I do it?

Then it hit me - Starbucks. I was going to Starbucks to get some grading done. I was going alone, and staying for a while. I would buy someone their coffee, and tell them God loves them. That was the plan. Standing in the bathroom at my house, my heart pounded at the thought of it. Why is it so hard to love a stranger enough to buy them coffee and talk to them? I prayed. It was one of those prayers like "God, are you sure this is what You want me to do?" The butterflies left momentarily, but they returned during my 5 mile ride to the Starbucks. I prayed again. I prayed for my unsuspecting coffee victim - that they would see my gesture as love from God and not insanity....

I got out of the car and walked toward the store. It was unusually quiet - not many cars around. As I walked toward the door, I could see in the window that there was no one in line to order coffee. "WHAT!?!?" I thought. "There's always someone ordering coffee!" Then I continued my prayer to God, "Not Funny!" I told Him. "How can I get someone coffee if they're not in line?" By this time I was opening the door to Starbucks, and I heard God talk to me. He said, "Go to the bathroom." I know that sounds crazy, but God told me to go to the bathroom, so I went.

When I got out of the restroom, there was still no one in line. I was thoroughly confused with God. I reasoned in my head that I'd score a little table near the line, and when someone came up, I'd run up to the order line and buy the person's coffee. Awkward? yes, but the plan had potential. I walked up and ordered my venti skinny cinnamon dolce latte - my favorite. As I was standing there talking with the barista about how to spell my name ("Sarah with an h at the end - my parents paid extra for the h at the end"), he walked up. He didn't look like the person I had in my head during my car prayer. In fact, I had actually prayed for a girl, not a shorter, graying, mid 40's guy wearing shorts, a polo, vintage looking Birkenstocks, and John Lennon style glasses.

"Can I get you anything else," asked the barista.
"Yeah, I want to get this guy's coffee," I said, motioning to the unsuspecting man.
"Yeah. I want to get your coffee."
"But I was going to get a breakfast sandwich too."
"That's ok," I gulped. "I'd love to buy your meal." The barista took his order.
"Wow," he said, "In all my life, I've never had anyone do anything like this for me." (my heart was beating so hard, and I felt so happy - so centered - I thought that he was going to get it. I couldn't wait to tell him about Jesus.) Then he said, "I get it, this is like your good deed for the day, right? Don't worry. I'll pay it forward."

My heart sank. He didn't get it. This wasn't about me! This wasn't about me being a "do-gooder." Then the words fell out of my mouth, "This is more than just a good deed or random act of kindness. God has given me so many good things in my life, and he offers them to everyone through his Son Jesus, and I just wanted to do something tangible to show you God's love."

His jaw hit the floor. The barista who had been fidgeting behind the counter froze and stared at us. I didn't know how this was going over.

Then he said to me, "That's great. What church do you go to?" We spent the next few minute talking about a disabled friend of his who was looking for a church. We got our coffee and went our separate ways.

I was thrilled and disappointed all at the same time. I did what God told me to do, and I showed God's love to a stranger. I was able to speak clearly and not stumble over words. I was a good testimony to the barista - thrilled. I was disappointed because instead of really soaking in and asking follow up questions about God for himself, he immediately deflected the love onto his friend. After thinking about it for a while though, the disappointment turned to satisfaction because he was touched enough by my gesture to realize that what I was showing him was what a friend was looking for.

Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. A different author each day delivers a prompt to help you complete the mission of Reverb 10.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Reverb10 day 2

December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)

Hmmmm....I don't really consider myself a writer. I enjoy writing, but not just for the sound of well-crafted, put-together words. My purpose in writing, in general, is teaching. That's my thing. It's the gift God's given me. One of my most popular blog entries is a post on how to use iPhoto to organize digital scrapbooking elements. The second most popular one is how to use iPhoto and iDVD to make a photo slideshow that you can watch on your TV. I really enjoyed writing them. I like most of the "how-to" entries I write. I guess what keeps me from writing them is that they take a significant amount of time to put together. I like to anticipate the questions the reader will ask and beat them to the punch.

So what prevents me from taking the time to write great tutorials? Life.

I'm not sure I want to change it.

the 2010 to do list re-visited

Did anyone remind you that there are only 4 weeks left in 2010? Oh snap.....

A few weeks ago, I made a list of 10 things that I wanted to accomplish in the 10 weeks we have left, and here's an update of how I'm coming on it.

1) Organize the boys closet. DONE! Well, it's as done as it's going to be. I went through the boys' clothes and got rid of the things that don't fit, and everything is neatly put back. It's still not "impressive" when you look in it, but it's not the disastrous mess it once was.

2) Organize our closet....ummmm, no. And it's worse than ever.

3) Have a yard sale - No, because my main squeeze vetoed the idea because our schedules are too busy. It will happen in the spring. AAAaaaaahhhhhhhhh (that's me breathing a sigh of relief).

4) Finish the kids 2008 scrapbooks - not quite, but making progress. I actually have made about 20 pages for the kids 2010 scrapbooks, so I'm feeling quite accomplished in the scrapbooking category.

5) Make a chore chart system for the kids that works. Almost done. I have all the pieces put into place. I've even prepped the kids about it. Hopefully will start Monday. Details forthcoming...

6) Record the kids singing and talking - No, and I'm not sure why. That's like the easiest one on my list. I even found chirbit so I can share these kinda things online....maybe this weekend.

7) Disney Fotobooks for the kids - DONE!!!! And so easy. I took screenshots as I went so I can do a tutorial here on the blog. If you have any photos on Facebook, you must try Fotobooks.

8) Lose 15 lbs - um....I think I'm only down a pound and a half. At least I'm not up a pound and a half....

9) Painting a quote on the front hall - still trying to decide on the design.

10) Meaningful Christmas gifts - Making progress. I'm happy with the gifts we've gotten thus far. Still have a couple to think up.

So 2 out of 10 are done; 5 more are in progress; 2 haven't even been started, and one is not going to happen. I'll feel better when the in progress projects are completed. The funny thing is that since I've made this list, I've actually gotten more projects completed that weren't even on the list. It actually makes me feel pretty accomplished. Thanks, my little blog, for enhancing my self-esteem. ;o)

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I think I'm going to try to participate in Reverb10 this year. Basically, the idea behind it is to write every day about what your 2010 was like and envision what you want 2011 to look like through a series of writing prompts. I dig that. So here's the first prompt....I'm a day late....the story of my life....

December 1 One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
(Author: Gwen Bell)

I chose one word for this year. It was "Streamlined." I wanted our life to stay mainly the same, and the details to be come easier, more streamlined. What I wanted was not exactly what I got. Some of my life stayed the same, and I tried to make some of the details easier, but our life changed a lot this year. The funniest thing was, we didn't have any major, life-altering events that you would expect would come with a year of changes - no moving, no babies, no illnesses, no career changes. I guess that was what was the most frustrating thing for me. On the outside, life looked the same, but on the inside, there were changes that were - for a lack of a better term - kicking my butt.

I guess if I have to pick a word for this year, it would be adjustment, although that sounds like a chiropractor. I just opened up my online thesaurus and some of the other words that came up were much more appealing - fine-tuning, modification, improvement, enhancement. Enhancement, I like that last one. I think that's in the middle of what we're experiencing. If you've ever done a home improvement, or any kind of improvement project for that matter, you know that sometimes it gets worse before it gets better, and I think that describes where we are.

First, let me talk about the kids. They are growing like weeds, physically, spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. (does that sound like Luke 2:52) With this growth comes adjustments in how I love on and teach the kids. They are all learning so much in school and from each other. #1 is reading and #2 and #3 know all their letters and are working on sounds. For me, that means I've had to carve out time for them - to read to them and to do projects with them to take advantage of this new curiosity. They also want to do more things and have more independence. Some of those things are easier than others. For instance, #1 and #2 both wanted to play flag football at church. Dad was their coach, and they were very able to get their things together for practice and games and run to their practice spots. Easy. Another easy thing was that they want to help clean (sometimes), so whenever they want to help with something I'm doing, I let them, and I don't obsess too much about the details. ("You want to clean the toilet? Go for it!") The only time I really get on them is when they say they're going to do something and then they don't do it. That's not ok. Probably the hardest thing is that they all have a little bossy streak in them. It most likely comes from the fact that both my main squeeze and I have pretty strong personalities, and we are both leaders in our own right. We're trying to teach the kids to talk to each other with respect, and to recognize when they are in a leadership role and when they are not. We practice a lot. It's getting better. It's not there yet.

Now, let's look at me personally. It's hard to do that without talking about my main squeeze. He's still in the same position at the same church we've been serving in for - gosh - almost 7 years. His job description is the same, but what his daily job entails is changing - the ministry is always growing, the students ebb and flow, the people who work alongside of us come and go. Some transitions are easier than others. Because we work together so closely in ministry, I feel those changes. Working closely with my husband is a blessing and a curse. When things go well, we rejoice together. When he experiences a setback, it can devastate me. People tell me that I can't take it that personally, but I do. I can't not. How can I feel the unending, compassionate love of Christ for people, and not feel it when they experience a spiritual setback? I know there's gotta be another preacher's wife out there who's felt this, right?

A big change for us this year is that we have taken on a part time job. Since my main squeeze completed his master's degree, he's been looking for a way to teach online college classes. We finally found a fit. He loves interacting with the students in the discussion forums and challenging them about their faith. Whenever I can, I help him with the grading. It is a bit taxing on our already short amount of time, and for a while I wondered if it was worth the time we were putting into it. But slowly, I can see the benefit a little extra cash has had in our personal economy. This year is the first we will have less debt after Christmas than we did before (if all goes as planned.) For me, this is the glimmer I'm holding onto. Remember the reference to the home improvement project that is worse before it looks amazing? I'm starting to see glimpses of what our future will look like as a result of this change - this enhancement. I'm confident I'll see results in other areas too.

As far as next year goes, I'm toying with a few ideas for a word to describe the year. Health is one - I'd love to lose some weight and add some other healthy habits. I want to see the results of the work I'm doing personally and with the kids - some completion or closure. I hate the word closure. I'm in the mood to redecorate - not just for the sake of making my house look different, but when I look at my house there are things I love, and things I tolerate. I want to love it, to savor and relish being at home. Savor, that's a good word.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving project follow up

So, the grateful frame was a BIG SUCCESS! (Here's a link to the original post about it.) Everyone who could write participated, and it's a great keepsake. Here's what it looked like finished...

I know it's really too small for you to see any of the things that are written, so I'm going to highlight some of them.

My sister hosted the event. The back of her house has an amazing porch that goes basically the length of the house, so we were able to enjoy the Southern sunshine and eat our lunch on the porch. My sister sounded like she was listening to space aliens because she was carrying around the baby monitor turned on HIGH!! because the baby (2 months old) was napping on and off during the festivities. Fortunately she slept pretty well through the upheaval of having company around, which is why my sister wrote what she did..."When Eiley sleeps through the night."

Number 1 is almost 7 and wants to do everything by himself. Here is his contribution.

It says, "I am thankful for cars." My main squeeze asked him, "What do you mean? Toy cars? Go Kart cars?" Number 1 replied, "No, just cars, like our car." That's a pretty good explanation.

Number 2 also wanted to get in the action....Here's hers...."Thankful for Mom & Dad."

She sat with her great aunt (my dad's oldest sister visiting from GA) and practiced writing it small and neat on a scrap piece of paper until she could do it nice and neat and small. Apparently, she also taught her how to write an ampersand, because I know I've never showed her how to do this! This aunt is a teacher - middle school science. I was amazed at her patience with #2. I guess if you teach science to middle schoolers with any amount of patience, you can be patient with anyone.

This was my contribution...

I got to spend time with both of my grandpa's which is a rare occurrence for me as neither of them live nearby. It was nice to spend time talking with them and listening to them. Not a lot of people my age get to do that. So I appreciated the opportunity. (BTW - the guy in the picture is not my grandpa. It's my dad.)

Here's what Grandpa Puckett had to contribute to the poster. "I thankful for my salvation in Christ & United States of America & Family."

That's so my Grandpa Puckett...Those are the 3 most important things to him. He Loves Jesus with all his heart. He loves the USA. He's a Korean War Vet and still regularly meets with the men he served with over breakfast. And he loves his family. I know he thinks of us and prays for us. He's not sleeping in this picture...he's blessing the food before we ate.

My mom's contribution also talks about prayer.

It says, "I'm thankful for a Dad and Mom who taught me to pray." She's having to pray a lot these days. Many of them revolve around her dad - my other grandpa. He's turned 90 years old this summer and his health - well, let's just say, it's not what it used to be. He's been in and out of the emergency room and the ICU. Now he's in a step-down room, and during this visit we were able to take our whole family to see him. He brightened up when he saw us and the 3 kids. They sang "Jesus loves me" to him, and all got to hug him. My mom, along with her brothers and sisters, are having to make decisions about Grandpa's health that are not always clear cut. At one point in the journey recently, they were faced with a choice about Grandpa's course of treatment that they felt uneasy about. My mom prayed that God would change the one level they were looking at. In the morning, that number was changed, and it made the decision about the course of treatment very clear. So if you think about it, say a quick prayer for peace and health for Grandpa Steele, and wisdom and peace for those who have to take care of him.

Monday, November 22, 2010

super easy Thanksgiving project

Ok, remember the post about easy and aaahhhhmazing a few weeks ago? I said that there was no such thing as a craft that's easy and aaaahhhhmazing. Well, I was wrong. This one is totally easy and totally amazing. I saw this on Becky Higgins blog in 2 different posts (read them HERE and HERE), and I thought, "This could be COOOL!" It's a gratitude poster. Here's Becky's....

Hers is HUGE. She has let her family work on filling it up over the space of a few weeks.

Here's mine....

It's much smaller because we're only going to be filling it up on Thanksgiving day.

I did this project this afternoon while my lunch was in the oven heating up...really. Here's the list of what you'll need. You probably won't even have to buy anything, because there's a good chance you'll have it all in your craft stash already!!!

First a frame. Becky's was 20X30. Mine's 8x10, and it was the only thing I had to buy. I splurged on the $3.99 frame at Target. Call me "moneybags."

Next, you'll need a piece of poster board or cardstock cut to size.

Then, you'll need letter stickers. Becky used some large chipboard letters. I used some called "Thickers." They are about an eighth of an inch thick and are made of vinyl.

Once you've cut your cardstock to size. you need to place your word in the middle. Here's my tip to get your letters to line up. I put the bottom half of the stickers on the edge of a piece of plastic. I'm using an old stencil, but you could use anything. In the past I've used the shiny plastic piece that came in some product packaging. The idea is just to get your letters lined up using the straight edge.

I also have an old Creative Memories cutting mat that has a grid on it that I use to help me keep things straight because I can see the lines through the plastic. I would highly recommend getting a work mat like this.

After you have all your stickers lined up on the plastic, center the stickers on the cardstock. Hold down the top half of the stickers and slide the plastic off the bottom of the stickers, one at a time. They stay in place!!! Do it slow, and you can do minor adjustments along the way!

You can put a final touch on it by adding the date and occasion in your own gorgeous handwriting. I put it on the left side like this because I didn't quite center my letters right, and there was a bit more space on that side than the other. I didn't start over...I'm embracing imperfection!

When you put the frame together, Put the glass in under the cardstock to give everyone something solid to write on.

I'm going to have this standing up next to the food buffet on Thanksgiving day with an instruction card and some pens. I'll probably give it to my sister as a thank you gift for hosting the big meal at her house, even though she has a 2 month old baby! Love you Becky! Although she'll probably read this post and realize I only spent $3.99 on this gift....hmmmm.....

I'll post an "after" pic next week. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
2 Corinthians 9:15 "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"
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