Slow Down

1.  Slow down; God is still in heaven.  You are not responsible for doing it all yourself, right now.
2.  Remember a happy, peaceful time in your past.  Rest there.
3.  Set your own pace.  When people rush you, it’s okay to tell them.
4.  Don’t take simple things for granted:  watch water flow, corn grow, leaves blow and your neighbor mow.
5.  Taste your food.  God gives it to delight as well as to nourish.
6.  Notice the sun and the moon as they rise and set.  They are remarkable for their steady pattern of movement, not their speed.
7.  Talk and play with children.  It will bring out the unhurried little person inside you.
8.  Create a place in your home…at your work…in your heart…where you can go for quiet and recollection.
9.  Allow yourself time to be unproductive.  Rest is a necessity too.
10.  Talk slower.  Talk less.  Don’t talk.  Communication isn’t necessarily measured by words.
11.  Give yourself permission to be late sometimes.  Life is for living, not scheduling.
12.  Listen to the song of a bird—the complete song.
13.  Learn to stand back and let others take their turn as leaders.  There will always be new opportunities for you to step out in front again.
14.  Divide big jobs into little jobs.  God took six days to create the universe.
15.  When you find yourself being anxious, stop and ask “Why?”  The best musician is one who plays with expression and meaning, not the one who finishes first.
16.  Take time to read the Bible.  Thoughtful reading is enriching reading.
17.  Take a day off alone; make a retreat.
18.  Pet a furry friend.  You will give and get the gift of now.
19.  Once in awhile, turn down the lights, the volume, the throttle, the invitations.  Sit in the dark.  It will teach you to see and hear, taste and smell.
20.  Take a walk—but don’t go anywhere.  Journey is often better than destination.
21.  Count your friends.  If you have one true friend, you are unusual.  If you have more, you are blessed.  Bless them in return.

I’ve read through this list several times to discover that there are three items I need to work on.  First is #5.  I always rush through my meals so I can move on to the next thing.  I’m sure my body would be happier if I slowed down!  Second is #7.  I think I can speak for a lot of parents—it’s super easy to allow a toy to occupy your child’s time so you can do dishes, laundry and cook.  I can save some of that stuff for after he goes to bed!  Third, I need to spend more time reading my Bible.  I have been tracking my reading the last few days and I have really dropped the ball on this one.  I can get excited about reading a magazine on fashion, a devotional or a cookbook, but that energy kind of dissipates when it’s time to dig into the word.  What are some areas that you could improve on?  Be sure to recognize, and be thankful for, items that you are already doing!

I’m Bringing Saturday Back!

I can’t lie. 2012 was a blur. I can’t remember how most of my weekends were spent. And that kind of freaks me out. I couldn’t tell you the last time that I had a normal Saturday. A day when I did laundry, exercised, went to the grocery store, relaxed, knocked out a few errands, cleaned the bathroom. My year last year was spent in a whirlwind. I did laundry when I ran out of clothes to wear, and admit that most of the time they were never stored away properly. I would just pull from the giant pile on TOP of the washer and dryer. I rarely visited friends. I didn’t set any real weekend agendas. And relax just wasn’t in my vocabulary.
The sad part? I didn’t even realize I was living that way!!

Until today.

I woke up at 6am, cooked breakfast and ate by 7am. Was out the door to meet a friend at 7:30, where I proceeded to walk/run a total of 2.5 miles. On the way home, I stopped by the curb market and picked up a box full of fresh, organic fruits and veggies. Then I stopped by my local service station to have the oil changed in my Focus. I even went by the ATM to get out some cash before I headed home. And do you know what? I was home by 10am. I felt like it should be 2pm. I had accomplished so much. So I showered, threw in a load of clothes… not because I needed to, but because I could. I wrote an article for On A Mission. I cooked an awesome lunch. I visited with my parents. I chatted with five friends (some on the phone, some via text). I took the cat outside and enjoyed the sunshine with her. I tried out my new camera lens, using Kitty as the model. I cleaned the bathroom, took all of my trash outside, read a chapter in a book, did my daily devotions, and put away my laundry! And here I sit, taking a break to blog again, and it’s only 4:30pm. I could get used to this. As a matter of fact, this is who I once was. I was a productive, efficient gal. I don’t know what happened or why my life ended up pure chaos… but I am here to reclaim the old me. Not the old, ignorant, immature me. But the me that could multitask and make the most of her time. I pray that I can spend every day, from here on out, like I have today. Knocking my To-Do list out early, spending time with family and friends, doing things I love, taking care of everything that I have been blessed with, and still having the time to sit here and write about it. 🙂

kitty

Don’t get me wrong. There is even more work to finish this weekend, including grocery shopping later tonight. And I have to clean up other messes that I have made (metaphorically and physically), which will take a few weeks of “todays” to do. But I really feel good about the day. It’s an answered prayer. I needed this!

What are some ways that you multitask? Do you divide your chores throughout the week? Or knock them all out on the weekend? I would love to hear how you handle your busy life.

Auld Lang Syne

I still can’t believe that another year is coming to an end. It seems to have gone by so quickly that I barely remember anything happening. But when I scroll through my blog posts over the past 12 months, I am reminded that a lot happened. I giggle because I still haven’t figured out what to really do with this blog yet. There were some about healthy eating posts, quite a few photos of fingernail polish, and a lot of randomness. I hope soon, I get things figured out. 🙂

Some of the cool things that happened in 2012 include:
Participating in The Daniel Fast
Meeting Big Daddy Weave, Kerrie Roberts, Brandon Heath, Joe Moralez, Chris August, Britt Nicole, and Group 1 Crew
Attending Women of Joy and ICOM conferences
Traveling to West Virginia and Indiana – two places I had never visited before
Applying for my passport

With the new year a mere 36 hours away, I am starting to set goals for 2013. I would really love for this blog to come together, I want the word ‘aspiring’ removed from my bio… making me a full-fledged runner, I plan to attend several new conferences this year, I’d like to make time to read a lot more than I do now, and I hope that I can finally travel to Haiti.

What are some goals that you are setting for yourself in the coming year? Please comment and share ways that you plan to accomplish them.

‘Tis the Season

Normally, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is spent decorating my parents’ home for Christmas. I’ve had the pleasure of doing this for the past 13 years, since my mother’s disability prevents her from doing it herself. I say pleasure lightly. Her old artifical tree (a massive, unlit 7.5″ limb-by-limb construction) used to push me to cursing. There was nothing joyous about unboxing that beast. Three years ago, we gifted that tree to a friend — hey, she knew I loathed it but decided to take it anyway — and I purchased a 6.5′ prelit tree. I can’t say that I regret getting rid of the giant, mean tree… but I also can’t say I’m pleased with the new one. Although prelit trees come in three sections, and are so much easier to assemble, this particular one is not as full. Okay, it isn’t full at all. So I have to fill it with one million ornaments, three dozen candy canes, and an undisclosed number of red bows. It tries my patience to decorate, but it is a gorgeous tree when I’m finished. This year, I decorated for my parents and myself today. It’s a week later… but you’ll soon see why I couldn’t do it all after Thanksgiving.

Mom likes the feel of a traditional (or old-timey, as she would say) Christmas tree. Her tree is topped with an angel that she purchased from a general store just outside Asheville, NC. I found artificial popcorn strands and wooden cranberry strands for garland. The ornaments are primarily hand-painted, wooden ones… although there are some paper, salt dough, and glass ones. The candy canes are edible, and the red bows were hand-tied by my mom, grandma, and myself a loooooong time ago. 🙂

Remember the skinny trees, popular circa 2006. I think that was the only year they seemed to be used. Well, I still use mine. haha It works well in my apartment. It’s 6′ tall, and prelit with white lights. It has been the only tree that I’ve used for years, so typically there are more ornaments on it. Most of the ornaments that I have were gifted to me. I love to collect ornaments for any occasion! This year, I decided to use a blue ribbon as garland, and only placed a limited amount of ornaments on the tree. I also added small pine cone ornaments. I topped the tree with a Moravian beeswax candle that I received at last year’s Lovefeast. Weird, I know… but I needed a topper since I had plans for the star that usually adorns this tree.

I have wanted a white tree for a couple of years now. I didn’t want to spend a fortune on a full-size tree yet, so I found this 3.5′ prelit for $17. I did a terrible job of fluffing it because I put it up so quickly. I took some of the ornaments off of my skinny tree (all of the polymer ones) and used them on this one. I also used red ribbon and topped the tree with a tiny Santa hat. The tree was still missing a little something, so I purchased the green bows at Dollar Tree. This tree makes my office at the hospital perfectly festive, and quite the talk of the hall. 🙂

When I went to buy my white tree, I fell in love with this beautiful blue one too. Made of a aqua colored tinsel, it is 3.5′ prelit with blue lights. I knew immediately that I wanted it to be my beach tree. I normally use the starfish and hang my beach ornaments on my main tree (the skinny one) but I love the beach so much, I decided these things deserved their own spotlight. I had the beaded garland from a few years ago, and felt like the white “pearls” and gold “sand” were a great addition to the tree. Since I don’t have enough beach ornaments to fill the tree, I took some shells from my collection and displayed them on a few branches. I finished the tree off by using a beach towel as a tree skirt.

As I was taking Christmas decorations out of storage, I found a tree underneath some boxes. To my surprise, it was the old tabletop tree that my grandma had given me years ago. It is such a full, pretty tree that I knew I had to use it too. My goal was to decorate it for little-to-no cost. The tree isn’t prelit, and I didn’t have any lights in my decorations stash, so I knew I could use the tree anywhere. I first considered putting the tree outside and decorating it with food for birds. (Pine cones with peanut butter and birdseed, dried fruit, popcorn…) However, I didn’t want the tree to be damaged, and I knew other animals would be attracted to it too. That’s when it hit me – I would use the tree in my kitchen, and decorate it with cookie cutters! So I did. I had gingham ribbon that I tied at the top of the tree. Then I used snowflakes (that were also purchased at Dollar Tree), measuring spoons, and “brown bag” ornaments from Second Harvest Food Bank to help fill out the tree. I used a colorful kitchen towel as a table skirt.

And with that, my Christmas decorations are complete. haha And a friend has already called me the ‘Crazy Christmas Lady’. I guess that title isn’t too far fetched. 🙂 Now I should probably focus on buying presents. I have all of these trees and nothing to go under them!!!

Hello, again.

Remember me? haha

I never intended to take an entire month off. I really thought my hiatus would only be two weeks, tops. But apparently I needed a little extra time to get things in order. You know? …I like to think I’m a good multi-tasker. But juggling two blog sites is a little more challenging than I expected. Especially with everything else I have going on!

So, I really only have two exciting things to report:

1. I went to Indianapolis, IN (Nov 15-18) for a four-day convention called the International Conference on Missions. I was honored to be there representing Invest Hope for our first official exhibit booth. [And it is always good to spend time with out-of-state friends.] I think we may have been a little over-prepared for the convention, but all-in-all I considered the weekend a success. It was a learning experience, for sure. I met a lot of people and made a few new friends. What little I saw of Indianapolis was beautiful. I really would love to go back to the city as a tourist. And as a photographer. I fell in love with some of the architecture there.

Since we’re on the subject of photography… 🙂

2. I have the bug to get back into it. I go through phases. Most days, I believe photography is a lost art. There are so many people with decent digital cameras now, that everyone thinks they’re a professional. I saw something a few weeks ago, I think on Pinterest, that said something like “The camera doesn’t make the photographer, the person behind it does.” So true! I wish people would understand that. I wouldn’t mind if the field was oversaturated with folk who were skillfully trained in photography and digital darkrooms… but to be oversaturated with just people who are “self-taught” photo editors, it breaks my heart. Call me a photo snob if you wish, but pouring my time, money, and soul to obtain a degree in it made me that way. 😉

So I try to remain a true artist… using photography as the medium that it is. I like using the knowledge and skill that I gained in college to capture nuances that most would overlook. And I try very hard to stay away from commercial photography, although I have worked as a professional commercial photographer on many occasions.

From time to time, I get an itch to use people as subjects in my photos. And the quickest, easiest, and least expensive way to get models is to offer family portrait packages to folks. Recently, I took senior portraits for a friend’s daughter, Casey. It was a fun experience. Casey is a natural. She was easy to direct, easy to shoot, and easy to edit. She wanted more photos done, at a different location, so I scheduled another shoot with her. Now… I have four more sessions lined up for Christmas photos with other families.

Perhaps I cave, one more time. 😉 Maybe it is time to sell out and schedule even more photo shoots to appease my photography cravings and make a little extra cash too. Don’t be surprised if this blog turns into a digital portfolio to showcase some of my work in the near future. I doubt it will stay that way for long, but hopefully you guys will enjoy the posts while you can get them!

Moonshadow’s Final Sunrise

May 5, 1996 – October 31, 2012

I guess it’s only fitting that Shad’s last day here be Halloween.
There’s a lot of memories made in 16 years. I’m going to miss my Sissy Girl.

Shad’s name came from a song by Cat Stevens. Click here to listen.

Sixteen Candles

In a few days my husband and I will celebrate our 16th anniversary.  That seems like a really long time.  I feel like we are in a minority.  It’s hard to find anyone in today’s society that hasn’t been divorced at least once.

There are so many circumstances that warrant divorce and I certainly could not sit here and oppose it.  That is a decision made by the people involved.  Ultimately, whatever that decision is, it is between those families/spouses and God, not the rest of humankind.

I don’t want to appear as an advocate for or against divorce, I just really want to share from my personal experience about marriage.

At the heart of any comment I could make would be that marriage is the hardest thing I have ever done.

There are days when I don’t even want to be married.  I would be lying if I said otherwise—pick your jaw up; you know you have thought the same thing too.  I don’t always say the right thing.  Sometimes I don’t say anything which is worse than talking.  There are instances that I yell in anger.  I make bad choices and then blame the consequences I experience on someone else.  I pout; I whine and make those comments that grate Tim’s nerves.  I have bad habits, I embarrass him in public and I say I am reminding him of things so he doesn’t forget, but it is really just a disguise for nagging.

I huff and puff when he asks me to help him with something.  I mumble behind his back when he doesn’t do what I want him to do.  What I am doing is always more important that what he is doing.

I probably sound like a very difficult person to live with!  So, what is the secret to our marriage?  I am not perfect, but neither is Tim.  We are two people with different:   perspectives, tastes in furniture, music, clothes and sometimes even parenting skills.  Recognizing our differences and respecting them goes a long way in keeping us on the same page.  Is it easy? No!!  There are days I want to pinch his head off, but I know the same goes for his feelings toward me!

As young girls, we play with Barbie and watch princess movies.  We read fairy tales and dress like Cinderella for Halloween.  We start planning our weddings at age 5.  We are trained to think that our Prince Charming swoops us off our feet and we then live happily ever after.  Could this be a reason the divorce rate is so high?  Maybe, maybe not, but either way it is unfair for us to place those types of expectations on any man.  I should never look to Tim to complete me.  I am whole and complete because of God.  He is the only one who can fill the empty places and help me live to my full potential.

I am the total opposite of a Proverbs 31 woman, but I try every day to be a better person than I was the day before.  I’m not always successful, but that’s not an excuse for me to quit trying.

Tim and I have our ups and downs, like everyone, but as long as neither of us place unfair expectations on the other, we make a pretty good team.  We have certainly experienced the “worse” part of “for better or worse” from our vows.

Marriage is a full time job in addition to all the other things going on in our lives.  So why do it?  When your heart tells you that you don’t want to spend a minute without that person in your life … when your brain tells you that there is no other alternative than making this commitment… the butterflies in your tummy won’t go away… when you smile just thinking about them…when you know that you don’t expect him to be perfect and you know you aren’t either.