hydrangeas

A beautiful reminder of my mom

Sometimes God visits us in a unique way, a sunset, a sunrise, a stranger’s words, a book, a flower.

We should never be surprised with how God “speaks”, and yet we always are.

It was last Sunday morning. I had gone to church (hubby was at the cabin as the electrician was coming) and heard a much-needed sermon based on Psalms 139. It soothed my aching heart as Sunday’s are particularly hard for me during this grieving process. My husband and I almost always stopped by my mom’s after church.

Last Sunday I did that again as I needed to drop off something for my brother. I knew he would be gone but he left the door open to her house. It was hard walking in as everything is the same. I’m hoping my brother buys some new furniture soon so things will look different.

Her Hydrangeas are in bloom so I debated, “Should I pick a bouquet or not? How hard would that be?”  I decided I would.

It was hard.

She grew the most beautiful and largest Hydrangeas I’ve ever seen. But here’s where the surprise came. Without a doubt, these are the largest Hydrangeas ever on her bush. I wanted to take them in the house and show them to her. I always did that;   I would cut a bouquet for her and me.

The one in front and to the right is just one hydrangea. Huge! If I were to place it on a cardboard pizza disc (the largest size), it would be that big.

hydrangeas

But she wasn’t there.

I came home and arranged them, tears flooding my eyes. Why were they so huge this year of all years.? Why not last year, when I could show them to her?

And, of course, that question we tell ourselves we will never ask but we always do.

“Did I do all I could? Were there things I should have done differently?”

So to be reminded that I am “wonderfully, and fearfully made”, brought me comfort. And the Hydrangea reminded me that I, too, can flourish. It’s OK to get on with things, to enjoy my life, to laugh, to enjoy her Hydrangeas. God knows us intimately. He sees our struggles. When it’s the darkest in our life, he is there.

Nothing we can do can interfere with God’s love for us and nowhere we run can keep us hidden from his loving care.  

 

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts Or How amazing are your thoughts concerning me God!
How vast is the sum of them
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.
If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

hydrangeas

God can comfort us in all kinds of ways with all kinds of “props”. For me, it was Hydrangeas.

God bless and have a good day.

thrift store purses

Some week-ends you just hit gold

OK. I’ve had some good garage sale finds in the past but wait till you see these purses.

There is a mission store near our cabin. They practically give things away. Every once in a while they have a twenty-five cents sale. This last week-end, that was the case.

Seriously, these purses were a quarter a piece. Three of them are Stone Mountain purses. They sell for a couple of hundred dollars. Just saw them at one of our department stores.  Honestly, when I checked out with these SEVEN, yes, I said SEVEN, purses, I felt like I was stealing. (I did make an extra donation.) And no, I’m not keeping all of them. I’ve already given away two of them and have a third one earmarked for a friend.

 

I love me a little “bling” so I’m keeping this one.

thrift store purses

 

This one went to someone else.thrift store purses

 

This is one of the Stone Mountain purses. It looked kind of dirty so I threw it in the washer and just a few minutes in the dryer. (Bet you didn’t know you could do that. I’ve done it numerous times. Doesn’t hurt a thing and let’s face it, what did I have to lose. Just a quarter.

thrift store purses

 

Keeping this blue one.  It is so cute.  Beautiful color, too. And don’t you just love the bow?thrift store purses

 

 

I just love this one. It’s a vintage purse and just adorable. It’s a little brighter yellow than appears here.

thrift store purses

 

what makes you happy

what makes you happy?

google images

google images

I wonder how many people have asked themselves that question. I know that I hadn’t until the last few years. I think we don’t ask ourselves that because we’re afraid it makes us sound selfish and self-centered. After all, it’s not always about us and our “happiness”, is it? And that is true.

To always be concerned only for ourselves and our own happiness would indeed make us self-centered. But to never ask that question is to invite self-pity and depression.

We are so much better for ourselves and others when we seek a healthy balance. But that’s not usually the case. Most people don’t even know what makes them happy. They’ve never asked it of themselves so how could they?

Now before I go any further with this, there have been many studies to document that there are “universal” activities that bring most people joy. The most important one is being of service to others. I think that’s true of everyone I’ve ever talked to. We almost always feel better when we give of ourselves, even if it isn’t well received or appreciated all the time. We also feel happy when we’re around the people we love. But beyond that, the activites that make us happy are as unique as each of us.

For me, I like getting on my elliptical. It makes me happy to know I’m doing what is right for my health. I feel happy when I don’t overindulge in wrong eating. (which isn’t very often, by the way).Other things that make me happy:

  • Painting——anything and everything, pictures, walls, furniture. etc. Being creative in any way makes me happy.
  • The first cup of coffee in the morning practically makes me giddy.
  • Snuggling in my warm bed in a very cold bedroom.
  • Sitting on the beach
  • Decorating my home and the homes of anyone else who will let me.
  • Butter pecan ice cream and pizza. (not necessarily at the same time)
  • Wandering aimlessly in a book store, especially a used book store
  • Traveling
  • Flying
  • Collecting seashells
  • Sitting in a coffee shop
  • Books
  • Sitting in a library
  • Digging in the dirt
  • Comfortable clothes
  • The color yellow
  • The color aqua. (I guess it’s really all colors. Be it in fabric, paper, paint, etc.)

It’s important to know what makes us happy because when we’re dealing with some “blue” days or depression itself, or when we’re stressed, it’s good to know what we can turn to that might spark some joy. Sometimes just thinking about what we enjoy brings relief.

You notice I didn’t list things like God, family, friends, etc. Those are a “given” for most of us.I wanted to list some totally frivolous activities so you can be encouraged to do the same and not feel guilty. I’m not.

By the way, it’s OK to know what makes you happy.

It’s not just OK. It’s highly recommended by many mental health professionals.

I would love to hear from you. What really makes you happy? Not what you think you should say. Not what you think is the right thing to say. In case you don’t know where to begin, consider this. What causes you to lose track of time? Anything that causes you to lose track of time (it’s called being in the “flow”) is probably an activity that makes you happy. Give it a go. Just the act of writing it down is therapeutic.

God bless and have a good day.

Humility-what it is, what it isn’t

We were in Bangkok.

Bangkok skyline

There was a quiet knock on the door. It almost sounded apologetic.

I opened the door in response .  A timid young Thai woman bowed her head and mumbled some words. “Why was she bowing?” I asked myself.

She had on a uniform with the name of the hotel embroidered on it, so I knew her to be one of the hotel staff.

I let her in and in her broken Thai/English vernacular, she said, “Housekeeping, Madam.”

I understood what she said but still couldn’t figure out the “bowing” part.  My first instinct was to tell her to straighten up, but I knew I couldn’t make her understand what I was saying.

My second instinct was to gently place my hands on her head and lift it but I know better than to touch a stranger in a foreign country.

Over the next two weeks, I was bowed to so many times, I felt like royalty. My husband laughingly explained it was protocol for the staff at this particular hotel. I grew to like it a little too much, I’m ashamed to admit.

Fast forward twelve years later.

I’m at a motel chain in Atlanta, Georgia, a far cry from the Bangkok Hilton. On the flight there, I was reading a book by John Ortberg, entitled, “The Life You’ve Always Wanted”.  It’s a book that focuses on spiritual growth and at the end of one chapter the author suggests we ask this question, “Am I becoming judgmental or exclusive or proud?”

That question is what prompted me to remember my experience in Thailand.

When my husband’s job transitioned to internal travel, we knew it was important that we handle what others would view as a “WOW” in the right way. We knew people can be impressed easily and we didn’t want that.  We knew we were the same people.

So we decided early on that we wouldn’t broadcast the bit about the international travel. I remembered the times I’d heard other women talk of international travel and how I felt I had nothing in common with them.  I always felt a little inferior. That was my fault, not theirs but I didn’t want others to feel that way about me. It’s too easy to get a big head. Besides, the glamor wore off after about the third trip.

Humility doesn’t mean we can’t feel good about our achievements. We all feel good when we’ve worked hard on a project and it turns out even better than we expected.  I feel a healthy pride when one of my paintings turns out good.

Unhealthy pride almost always leads us to think we’re more valuable than the next person.

 We can judge unhealthy pride in ourselves by how we treat others.  

We can enjoy the fruits of our labor without feeling we’ve abandoned humility. Physicians make the salary they do because they’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on an education, years of internship and often hold a patient’s life in their hands. Respecting someone’s expertise is very different from elevating them.  My husband earned every one of his frequent flyer miles the hard way: cancelled flights, long layovers, being away from his family and friends, being sick In a foreign country, having to rush every minute when he was home to see the people he needed to see, and never getting any time to enjoy his own pursuits.

When God blesses us with something we need never apologize for it. As long as we acknowledge that God is the ultimate source of every blessing and show our thankfulness in meaningful ways, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the fruits of our labor. Pride rears its head when we twist our thinking to convince ourselves we did it all on our own. That’s when we cease to be humble.

Many people confuse personality traits with humility.  Some of the most humble people I know are extroverts. Some of the least humble people I know are introverts.  Further, humility doesn’t mean we never confront or share our opinions either.  Christ was humble but he wasn’t meek or timid acting. Hardly.  He often harshly addressed the hypocrites around him.  Even during his trial, he never backed down from the truth.

(Remembering my promise to myself to keep my blog “real” and to be authentic I share this personal bit.) There are days, when during my quiet time, I say to God, “God, I think I made you smile today and that makes me feel good.” I want to know I’ve made God smile. Why would I want anything less? I don’t feel the least bit prideful about saying that. Maybe that’s because on other days I have to say, “God, today, I think I made you sad and that makes me feel awful.”

If you can look in the mirror and once you look away forget about yourself, you are well on your way to humility.  If you can pick up someone else’s mess without complaining, you are well on your way. If you can graciously offer your place in line to someone behind you, you are well on your way.  If you can visit someone who needs a visit even though they’re not the most pleasant person, you are on your way.  I believe as with most aspects of life we have to be intentional or we simply will let things slide

Deliberately put yourselves in situations that keep you humble.

I want to tell you a true story. Your first thought may be that this woman I’m going to tell you about was less than humble by sharing her story. That’s not true. She’s one of the most genuine people I know. It happened in a Bible class I was teaching and the subject was relationships. Her demeanor in telling her story was gentle and sweet and I could tell she struggled with sharing it for fear she would bring too much attention to herself.

It happened in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  She has four children. She and her husband were struggling financially. This particular day everyone was getting on everyone’s nerves. Her husband was becoming frustrated with the children and with her. This was very much unlike him. This kept up for the afternoon and she was to the point of tears.  She was also getting irritated herself with her husband’s lack of understanding about a few issues that were transpiring that day. She went into a room and prayed.

She knew what she had to do.

Everyone was gathered in the family room sulking, no one talking to one another. She went into the kitchen, filled a large round bowl with water, and gathered some soap and a washcloth. She entered the room, and without saying a word she knelt in front of her husband. She said that everyone immediately became still and quiet as they watched what she was doing. Her husband was so taken aback, he just sat there. Without one word, she took off his shoes and socks and gently and lovingly washed his feet.  Her family was so struck by what she was doing, tears came to their eyes. (Mine, too, as I listened.)

She never said what happened next. She ended her story very quietly and none of us spoke, even the never-at-a-loss-for words teacher. As I recall, the silence in our room continued for quite a while as we took in what she’d done. I will never forget it. It is to this day the most graphic example of true humility I’ve ever heard about.

She would have been justified in nursing her wounded feelings but she knew her husband was upset with himself and rather than chastise him, she took the opportunity to humble herself before him.

Those of the Christian faith are beginning to celebrate Holy Week, the interval between when Jesus entered Jerusalem till the day he rose from the dead on Easter. During that time there were a few trials, many betrayals, and finally a crucifixion. In Philippians (a book in the Christians bible), it says that Jesus humbled himself.  Christians believe Jesus, being God’s son, had all the same power his father did. He could have stopped his own crucifixion but instead, he humbled himself and fulfilled prophecy. No one had to humble Jesus. He did it himself.

 Humility isn’t an intrinsic quality. Humility is an action. Humility isn’t something we claim’ it’s something we give away.

Christ was our example.

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

 

bedroom 1

Yea! The foundation is done.

Here we go. The foundation has been laid.

Here’s the truck delivering the first load of materials.

bedroom addition

 

Here are the holes being dug for the cement and the posts for the foundation.

But I’m still perplexed as to where to put the windows and which wall the bed is going to be on. My thinking is this:

Place the windows higher than the posts of the bed so the bed can be placed on at least two walls. I have so many windows now, it’s hard to place furniture anywhere because they are long windows. But the upside is there is lots of light. And I do like lots of light.

Here are some more bedroom pictures I’ve found for inspiration. (These pictures are from Houzz. Wanted to make sure I gave credit where credit is due.) See the shiplap in this one? Think I am going to go ahead and at least do one wall in shiplap. The bedroom will not be big, 12 x 16. Most of you probably have bedrooms bigger than that. I would’ve gone bigger but then the bedroom would be bigger than the cabin!

You will notice in this picture that the window on the vaulted wall is high enough to accommodate the bed frame. I’m pretty sure this is where I’m heading except the window will be a slider. And I think I will settle on my favorite white, Cottage White by Behr. My dining room is that color as is all my trim downstairs. It’s a soft creamy white. Very warm.

bedroom 2

 

I have noticed that many of the bedrooms with vaulted ceiling do not have the bed up against the vaulted wall. I think I know why. Because if the bed is against that wall, you don’t get to see it when you’re in bed.

bedroom ideas

Hope you are enjoying the process with me. I’ll be posting more pictures next week.

God bless and have a good day.

ps. Somehow a post I thought was a draft published yesterday. If you received it, it really wasn’t finished. It was ok as it was but I needed to add a little more. I’ve since deleted it. Will republish at a future date.

 

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