Sunday, January 31, 2010

My New Favorite Toy

As you know already, I love anything book-related, so when I stumbled upon this site, I was in hog heaven. Don't you miss the good, old-fashioned card catalog? The computerized version is so...heartless, somehow. I loved flipping through the cards searching for the perfect book and often serendipitously discovering another favorite.
Alas, I do not own one of those lovely card-catalog cabinets, and if I did, my personal library is hardly large enough to warrant a cataloging system.
Instead, I'm using the card-catalog generator to create Scripture memory cards. (I was inspired by Lora's beautiful work here.)
Here are my first two verses for the month of January:

Don't you love the little "handwritten" scribbles?

If you haven't joined Leah over at The Point for Scripture Memory Challenge 2010, visit her on the 1st and 15th of each month to help us hold one another accountable in the Word.

Two more Mondays at my long-term sub job, then I'm back to being a SAHM for a while. My family is chompin' at the bit, waiting for my return. They like regular laundry, real breakfasts...and a mom who has had an uninterrupted time with the Lord. I'll share more later (when I actually know I've survived! :-) ) about what I've learned and am learning through this season.
Be blessed today!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hold My Heart

Thank you all so much for your encouraging words after my last post. Fatigue, weather, stress, and probably hormones are conspiring against me this week, but God is showing up in the sweetest of ways through it all. Your words blessed me!

This blessed me, too, so I want to share it with you today.

Big Red has prayed for me and with me a lot this week, standing in the gap for me in the midst of my blue mood. This afternoon, I opened my email at work and found this:

As most of you know, I've been doing the Beth Moore Psalms study, and what struck me most about this song was its similarity to a psalm. It is the passionate heart cry of one who can't seem to pierce the darkness but knows the Light. I love the honesty and intensity of it. The images in it draw me back to Psalm 123, my favorite so far in this study.

Psalm 123

A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to you,
to you whose throne is in heaven.

2 As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master,
as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress,
so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
till he shows us his mercy.

3 Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us,
for we have endured much contempt.

4 We have endured much ridicule from the proud,
much contempt from the arrogant.

I'm looking to You, LORD, until You show me I am Your treasure.

Be Blessed,


Monday, January 25, 2010

Putting the "Blah" in Blogging

I should be inspired today.

I'm not.

I've got a good old-fashioned case of the mulley-grubs, as my mother would call it (them? I'm guessing at the grammar and the spelling of this useful term.). Call them the January blues if a countrified word doesn't work for you.

Skies are gray, students are whiny, spouses are cranky.

I'm (*sigh*) sort of down.

A verse comes to mind:
" Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?

See? Even psalmists get the mulley-grubs.

"Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God."

Yet I will praise Him.

For an awesome husband and great kids.

For a Saturday visit with an old friend from college.

For a precious mentor who plans to meet me weekly for prayer and study.

For relief from back pain.

For dozens and dozens of people and circumstances that enrich my days.

Most of all, for Himself, the Savior King.

So, even though I'm feeling blah and this post is a little blah too, I don't escape the privilege and responsibility of praise, because, truthfully, God isn't having the mulley-grubs.
He's still being and doing all that is perfect, righteous, and holy.
Just like every day.
"By day the Lord directs His love (whether I feel it or not)
at night His song is with me (even if I choose not listen for it)--
a prayer to the God of my life." Psalm 42:5,8

" Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."
Hebrews 13:8

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sunshine...or a Day Winter Fooled Us

Today is one of those lovely days when the sun shines and the temperatures soar to something akin to early spring. A false spring day, a day designed to fool me into believing that spring is just around the corner, instead of months away.

My windows are open, letting in crisp air and bright light that is pushing out the stagnant gas-log, too-much-heat smell in my house.

I love days like today. In a southern summer, the air lays thick like a wet wool blanket, suffocating. Sometimes even before dawn, in those quiet hours when only I am awake, the heat refuses to release its hold.

In spite of my love/hate relationship with winter, the colder months win the day with me, precisely because of days like today. Just for a few hours, winter is willing to step back and let the hope of spring peep out.

Melting snow and days of rain have turned our driveway into a bog. Cold, wet mud covers the ground. Yet, I can turn my face to the sun, sit for a moment, imagine green.


My sweet friend Twinkle sent me to this post today. I hope you'll visit both and experience a breath of fresh air even if it's not sunny and warm enough to fool you where you are.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Little of This and A Little of That.

...Since we've talked about houses this week, here's something just for fun. I saw this and it made me smile.

...Love, love, love it when God starts connecting dots around me. I got an email today from our worship leader which included a quote from John Wesley that fit perfectly with the verses I've been pondering this week (Eph. 3:14-19). He wrote the email to share that several of us had sent the same song suggestions to him. (Get it? That sentence is a bit like connecting the dots as well!) The Lord is speaking within our church body in "themes" lately; what shows up in Sunday School shows up in the worship and in the sermon and in Bible study. I love 'God-patterns', because I'm slow and I need repetition to get it sometimes! :-)

...Praising the Lord for HEALING my friend who had post-surgery complications. Turns out that her problem was not emphysema; it was a damaged vocal cord. This could have been a terrible second choice (she's a music teacher), but she woke one morning after weeks of suffering with her voice and breathing almost completely normal. Glory to God!

...Praising God that those connected with our church's Haiti outreach were unharmed in the quake. PRAYING for His mighty intervention and work there. Truly the earth groans until His return.

...I hurt my back last week. It bothers me if I sit too long; hence, it is signaling me that my time online is up.

...but not before I let you that I'm praying for you today; a few of you have shared specific needs on your blogs the last few days, and I am lifting you to the Father for healing, peace, and joy.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Snowless Snow Day and Other Good Stuff

We have very little snow left, but we are out of school because treacherous road conditions remain in the higher elevations around us. We call this phenomenon the "Snowless Snow Day". DD#2 is expressing tentative desires to go back to school.
Back to routine.
Back to...anywhere except our house, where we've been for days now.

Big Red is down for the count with a vicious sinus infection. No flu, but he's still not allowed to breath on us for 24 hours.

I'm watching another amazing sunrise. I gave up on sleeping in after the first couple of days out of school. It was just too weird.

Today is shaping up to be quasi-normal, but we are all a bit restless.

So... what do you do when your heart is restless?

Clean your closet? Bake something? Eat something?

Lately I've been studying the difference between the words "happy" and "joy" in the Bible. It's been eye-opening and fascinating.

The word most often translated "happy" means "to make level, to go, to lead, to relieve".

Doesn't that make sense? How often do we just want life to be level, always moving forward, to be relieved of our burdens or questions? Think of how we hear the word "happy" used:

" I want out of this marriage. I have a right to be happy." Level, going forward, relieved.
" I don't care what lifestyle choices my kids make. I just want them to be happy." Going forward, no pressure, everything level and easy for them.

On the other hand, joy means something profoundly different.

Are you ready for this?

It means joy.

As in gladness, cheer, delight, triumph, mirth (or as we would say in the South, "getting tickled".)

I wonder if we've over-complicated, over-spiritualized joy. We want it somehow to be so far above us that we have an excuse to not be joyful if we don't feel like it. Yet, it is really quite simple: a person with the Holy Spirit present and active in her will have joy.



Plain ole' laughter.

Even when the ground isn't level.

Even when we're stuck and not going forward.

Even when our fears and burdens haven't been relieved.

Know anybody who has the joy of the Lord? I do. I'm thinking of a friend who is quite a bit younger than I, but her family has traversed many seasons of pain. They have lived through a lot of junk.

But if I really want to laugh, if I really need somebody to get the joke with me, she's the woman.

I look for excuses to work with her because she's just so much fun.

She's sown a lot of tears, but she's reaped a lot of joy.

Maybe today, if you're feeling restless like I am, we need to ask the Father for a dose of joy. Today, maybe we just need to laugh more, take ourselves a little less seriously, thank God a little more often, and say yes to a smile or a joke or a kind word instead of letting the little stuff eat our lunch.

I'm not advocating a Pollyanna rendition of "Don't Worry, Be Happy." Life is hard. I know this.

I am convicted, though, about how many of my happy, level, normal days are not particularly joyful days. My home, health, and job are going fine, but I'm still grumpy, short-tempered, and dissatisfied.

The Proverbs 31 woman can "laugh at the days to come." Why? Because she really understands that the joy of the Lord is her strength. It's her secret weapon against fear, to remember Who is enthroned over not only her life, but also the whole earth.

That's something to be glad, triumphant, and downright mirthful about.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Homemade Lovin:Part 2--Not

This was supposed to be the post where I gave you the grand tour of our unfinished master bedroom and sought your decorating advice. Unfortunately, the master bedroom is occupied today by one very sick Big Red. We suspect flu.

I'm not going in there.

Nope. Nada.

In my defense, I have been a good nurse this morning, but we don't want to have any family bonding over this, know what I mean?

So, let's talk style for a moment. Today is not a deep day.

(I'm promise I'm going somewhere with this. Maybe.)

After reading this post, I thought about the house journey that Big Red and I have taken over the past 16 years. During our first year of marriage, we lived in a three-room rental with a sloping floor and a major termite infestation.

I liked that little house. It was a happy house.

Slowly rotting away, but happy.

With the first big career move, we bought a tacky 70's ranch house, our foray into the fixer-upper -with -no -budget world. That house is really where we cut our teeth (and gnashed our teeth) over matters of style. (Eventually, it became a special, happy house, too.)

Most of our friends were building/buying houses like this:

Image from Donald A. Gardner

We thought we wanted that, too, at least sometime in the future. One of our truly impulse purchases was a beautiful bedroom suite--cherry, four-poster, very traditional--that would have been perfect in our friends' homes. Yet, something wasn't quite right. Our friends' homes were beautiful and warm and inviting...but not us, somehow. As we drove around our town and county, both of us would point out the window at different farm houses or bungalows in the old part of town and say, " I love that house!" Eventually we had a duh moment and figured out that our style was more like this:

Image from Architectural House Plans

or this:

We are cottage-bungalow-old farmhouse-shabby-chic-in-a-not-girly way people. (We finally sold that bedroom suite this year. Hence the master bedroom re-do.)

Or as DD#1 calls it, "Old-used-thrift-store".

Over the years, we've been refining what's "us", getting rid of unfortunate purchases that reflected what others had or what we thought we wanted for a while. Now we're filling our home with things that have meaning (like corn stick pans) and beauty to us.

I still love reading decorating blogs and changing things up and repainting and asking for second opinions. Fresh perspective is good! Only now I'm more focused because I know what I like.

So, what's been your best discovery about your style? Or your worst mistake? Let's gab on this last snow day!


Monday, January 11, 2010

Homemade Lovin' : Part 1

Update*** In my effort to "shop my house" for decorating solutions, I remembered an old cast iron corn stick pan that (surprise) was my mother's. With DD#2's help, I hung it in the nagging blank spot over the library-turned-dish cabinet. Love it! (By the way, the walls in our kitchen/living room/dining room are not weird greenish-gray. They are a fresh light green shade called "Apple 3" from the Laura Ashley paints at Lowe's.)

All this winter nesting has got me thinking a lot about the art of homemaking. I got my love of all things house-related from my mother. She has absolutely no interest in computers, but if she were homemaking today, I have no doubt that she would be searching the blogging world regularly for cute decorating ideas. She was a talented seamstress and floral designer, she threw lovely bridal and baby showers and dinner parties, and she always had some new goody she had crafted for a forgotten corner of the house. My mother is a lover of beauty, and that is a gift from God.

I am not naturally organized, and I am more a crafter of words than fabric. I can barely thread a needle, much less sew a pillow or slipcover. Hand me a glue gun or some baking ingredients, and I'm much more comfortable. I love beautiful gardens but have a black thumb. (Fortunately for me, I married a man who discovered a latent green thumb in his gene pool.) I am an idea thief, not an idea developer.

All that to say this: though I'm letting go of any notion of being a perfect homemaker--or even one as good as my mom--I am embracing what it means to create a lovely, orderly space for my family. (Some days are more successful than others.)

Our house was a major fixer-upper. After the first "ick!" response, we saw the windows, the wide,long front porch, and the open floor plan ...and the main-floor level laundry, a rarity when most are located in the basement. The yard and the basement are a long way from finished. A lo-o-n-n-g way, but that's okay, because imperfect is okay. Plotting and planning the next project has become part of the fun. Most days.

Here's some things I love about our house (besides the occupants):
*Lots and lots of natural light from lots and lots of windows;
*Lots and lots of books;
*A cozy fireplace insert (imperfection at its finest--it took four years for us to finish that);
*A nap-worthy, squishy-cushioned couch.

See what I mean?
This post is getting long, so I'll close with a question: what do you love about your home? What do you wish you could change? Does homemaking fill you with pleasure or make you break out in hives?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What I Did Instead of Lesson Plans

Since the snow here remains a icy hazard, Big Red and I have used our unexpected time at home to do some much-needed decluttering. There is just something about winter that brings out my nesting instincts; I want to fluff, clean, and arrange. Call it "winter cleaning" as opposed to "spring cleaning".

Anyhow, after tackling the impossibly cluttered laundry room and making plans that involve trips to Lowe's when things thaw, Big Red moved this old library cabinet up from the basement to our kitchen. I arranged our semi-matching dishes inside but left the top empty until inspiration struck.

I shopped our basement and turned up this:

The rooster oil and vinegar jar and salt and pepper shakers were my mom's, and the coffee pot is our back-up in case the power goes out. Inspired by the Nester's framed fork idea, I hot-glued my mother's vintage sugar scoop to paper from my scrapbook stash and stuck it in an old frame. Ta-da!
The wall above still looks a little blank; I plan to scope thrift stores for some toile-patterned saucers or old recipe book covers to frame or some other vintagey, cottagey goodness. (Forget that I'm a English teacher when you read that last line.) Any ideas?

Speaking of ideas, our master bedroom needs some help. Put on your decorating thinking caps and be ready to help me make my vision a reality--on zero budget. Ya'll are smart; you can handle it! ;-0 Pictures forthcoming later in the week, especially if the snow/slush freezes and we have another day out of school.

Be blessed,

Friday, January 8, 2010

I Heart Snow Days

"Winter Snow"
by Audrey Assad

Could've come like a mighty storm
With all the strength of a hurricane
You could've come like a forest fire
With the power of Heaven in Your flame

But You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the Earth below

Could've swept in like a tidal wave
Or an ocean to ravish our hearts
You could have come through like a roaring flood
To wipe away the things we've scarred

No, Your voice wasn't in a bush burning
No, Your voice wasn't in a rushing wind
It was still, it was small, it was hidden

You came like a winter snow
Quiet and soft and slow
Falling from the sky in the night
To the Earth below.

Be blessed,

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I Heart Sunrises

View from our bedroom window.
(Please ignore chair overturned by wind.)

Normally I take these photos from the porch, but the temperature outside was about 13 degrees. I'll admire God's handiwork from inside, thanks so much. A lifelong morning person, I take the sunrise as a daily reminder that Jesus loves me and delights to bless me. After all, He could have made the day begin in some boring, bland sort of way, and I would have never known the difference.

The best part of my job is the morning drive; I'm traveling toward the east. Each day, He puts on a show for me. Some days the colors are quiet; other days, riotous..but every day, a present for me. "How about this one, Ginger? " He seems to ask each morning, " I made it just for you, because I knew you'd like it."

I love that about Him.

" In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice;
In the morning I lay my requests before You

and wait in expectation."
Psalm 5:3

" Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed;
His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, " The Lord is my Portion;
therefore I will wait for Him."
Lamentations 3:22-24

Monday, January 4, 2010


When I was in college, I joked that I could never throw a party and invite all my friends, because a few actively disliked one another! My friends represented the worlds in which I walked; I was the one unifying factor among them. Geeky Brit Lit friends, Bible study friends, artsy friends, future accountant friends.

Bloggy friends are a lot like college friends, I've decided. You represent my intersecting worlds-- Bible study, frugal mom, speaker, teacher, would-be photographer, cook. I'll assume you don't dislike each other ;-), but perhaps you haven't met.

If you are a commenter on this blog, then I read your blog regularly. I hope you'll click on each other's sites if you haven't already; this blog has collected a mighty fine group of readers in the past few months, I must say. Ya'll run the gamut; you're challenging, creative, and clever. Without you, this blog would be little more than a glorified typewriter.

Just for fun, today I've decided to introduce you to some of my favorite spots on the web besides your blogs. Imagine we've all got a mug of hot cocoa in one hand and a chocolate chip cookie in the other, and I'm doing the introductions. Of course, most of these folks have 40 gazillion followers already, so you probably will tell me that you are all old friends and that I'm the one who showed up late for the festivities.

This site entertained me most of New Year's Day; her house and her heart blow me away. Go visit and drool over her style.

I love to go here because I love amazing photography. And weddings. And imagining how great our wedding would have looked if she had photographed it. I think she was maybe four years old at the time.

I want to be like this amazing lady when I grow up.

This gal isn't in the same life place that I am, but when she isn't making me laugh, she's making me cry. That's a good mix.

A kinder, gentler take on the Flylady routines can be found here.

But I do love me some shiny sinks. (We recovering perfectionists need all the help we can get.)

Okay, so I was the last person to discover this. I'm including this link just. in. case.

Shall I refill your cocoa? Another cookie?

It's back to school for me tomorrow, so visit these folks--and pray for snow ;-)--on my behalf today!
Be blessed,

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Winter, How I Love/Hate Thee

Greyley the Grey Cat soaking up some January sunshine.

Now that I live in a somewhat four-seasons climate, I am discovering the joys and trials of real winter. Real winter in the South, that is. I know all you Yankees among us are laughing at me.

Today, there are flurries and a wind-chill of zero. ZERO, people. That's COLD, even if that's a veritable heat wave where you live. Your heat wave is not really heat, that's all there is to it.

What I like most about winter is getting warm. I love watching the snow from my cozy spot on the couch, under my great-grandmother's quilt, reading a juicy novel, and drinking decaf with lots of cream. I love snuggling next to Big Red, who thinks my feet are freezing and the rest of me is roasting under a pile of comforters. I love a big pot of beans or vegetable soup served with a steaming pan of cornbread.

Unlike summer, and believe me, this South Georgia girl knows about summer, winter offers one the lovely opportunity to rectify its wrongs. In other words, it is possible to get warm in winter. Pile on a few extra blankets and another sweater, and you can get comfortable. It is not possible to truly get cool in summer if the air conditioner goes out. Strip down to the last socially-acceptable point and you will still be sweating. And sticky. And depending on where you live, breathing gnats up your nose.

It's true; I love/hate summer as well.

Here's what I don't like about winter:

Like summer, it's a bully. It wants to crowd out its delicate cousin spring, just like summer threatens to encroach on fall way past its welcome.

By March, I will have had enough of quilts and hot cocoa and the same sweaters in my wardrobe.

I'll be ready for a few daffodils and a little time on my porch swing--with a juicy novel and cup of decaf with lots of cream. Some things transcend seasons.

By March, I'll be ready for some extra sunshine in my soul.

All things considered, though, I love that God designed a season where the bitter wind outside sometimes mirrors the bitter wind inside my heart. He understands that life is often cold and harsh. Winter tells me that my loving Father wants me to take a season for resting and nesting, wrapping my mind in the warmth of His Word, thawing my frozen heart by the flame of His Holy Spirit.

Days will come again to bloom and grow and bear sweet fruit and flower, but before then, there will a time of rest, of waiting, while He does His thing under the surface, while His Spirit lives and moves and has its Being even when I cannot feel Him.

To everything there is a season. In every season, there is a very present Savior.
"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel who summons you by name."
Isaiah 45:3

Friday, January 1, 2010

Looking Ahead

I'm not a big one for New Year's Resolutions. As a teacher, I've always been inclined to think of August as the "new year". Maybe that just means I have two chances for a fresh perspective.

In honor of 2010, here are 10 goals I have for the new year:

1. Continue the "face-down" praying that Beth Moore encourages in Stepping Up. Wow. That's all I can say. Just wow.

2. Memorize two scriptures a month, without getting sidetracked sometime in July.

3. Word of the Year: Grateful. Grateful for the presence of Holy Spirit, grateful for my husband, my children, my church, my health, and the thousands upon thousands of little things that show me my loving Father in action.

4. Get back on the Flylady bandwagon. My bathrooms (and Big Red) really loved me when I "swished and swiped" every day. Now they don't. (Okay, Big Red still does, but he still wants cleaner sinks.)

5. Continue to get up insanely early to exercise. Notice I said "continue"; I started this habit when I begin my long-term subbing. That way, if I lapse, I haven't failed at my New Year's resolution. Crafty of me, I know.

6. Speaking of crafty, I'd like to actually do some of the amazing crafts I see floating around in bloggyland.

7. Send a letter or card every month with, like, you know, a stamp on it and everything.

8. Maybe I should do less than ten. It's getting hard to think of things, much less live up to them.

9.In 08, I was ready for Christmas by Thanksgiving. No stress, on budget. In '09, not so much. I'd like to shop for Christmas all year long so that I don't make last-minute, pressured decisions.

10. Never, ever wear a white shirt at Taco Bell. (Otherwise known as my real goal: laugh at myself more, or how about just laugh more period.)

No visible sunrise here on the first day of 2010, just cold and gray. So this morning, I'm praying for Sonshine in my spirit today, and in yours. Happy New Year! (Insert party horn noise here!)

Be blessed,