Tuesday, September 29, 2009

24-Forged in the Fire

Sometimes I stop and reflect on my life, especially my life since my baby girls. It has not been easy. I have endured trials I could have never imagined and I have found strength I didn't know I had. At twenty-four, I have lived a lot of life. But more than I look back and see struggle or pain, I feel blessed. I feel so very blessed! God has been so good to me and I am so grateful.

I don't have to look very hard to see the way that God loves me. My life, and my family, my friends, they are all evidence of how much God loves me. Twenties are hard no matter what, at least that is what I hear. But the bright smiles, the love, the people who are willing to walk beside you- they make all the difference. I feel like I have learned so much about myself in the last few years- some things I like, and some I don't. It refreshes my spirit to consider that this is merely the beginning of a life of refinement. God will be at work in me for all the days I am alive here on earth. Thank goodness this is so! Thank goodness no one stays the same from twenty-four to eighty-four! I am thankful for so much. I feel like I could burst!

I have learned so much, but there are a few things that really stand out to me. First, I have learned the family I am creating is nothing like my family of origin. I don't have to be afraid. I can know, from the start, that I will make mistakes. I will hurt my daughters. I will make wrong choices and that is okay. But I don't have to fear for my daughters what I experienced as a little girl. The great thing about being an adult with children, is that you get to make decisions about what is acceptable in their lives. Every single day, I get to create our lives. There is nothing to be afraid of. My daughters are happy, bright, vibrant, loving little girls. They know they are loved deeply. I'm doing what I am supposed to do. By the grace of God, I am a good mom. 

I have learned that I have so much potential! I am a strong, independent, intelligent, caring, God loving woman! I love that I am very loyal. I love that I can be silly. I love that I can go without make-up, hair in a pony tail and I don't feel insecure. I love that I can finish something. I love that I am a good listener. I love that I am a mother. I embrace my disorganization, my indecisiveness, my lack of punctuality, my self-discipline that ebbs and flows, my messy home, my mistakes, my imbalances. I want to change these things. I am working on them. Just accepting that I have lots to work on is an accomplishment. I am so flawed. God doesn't care.

I have learned that identity doesn't come from all the things that people sometimes want to believe. Who I am, or am not, does not reside in my accomplishments, my bank account, my marriage or lack thereof, my gender, my socioeconomic status, my education, my appearance or what I own. Lord knows I have so much more to offer the world than any of those things can hold! I am so glad I have realized, by twenty-four, that I don't have to buy into all the crap that makes us all feel like we can never measure up. I can be rid of those pressures. Just think of all the better uses for my energy! Now, this is a daily decision. Believe me, I have those moments where I compare or I feel inadequate based on the standard somebody else sets, then I just have to choose to be kind to myself. Apples and Oranges folks. God doesn't care about all those worldly measuring sticks or compartmental boxes. There is no one in the world like me, and I am far too extraordinary to fit in any box.

There is no one in the world like you, and you are far too extraordinary to fit in any box. How dare someone try to measure you!?!?

Most importantly, I have learned how to love. I mean real love. I have learned to love from a completely selfless place, a place that God fills so that you can love like Him. I have learned true compassion, when I should have been angry. I have learned forgiveness. I hope that each person has someone in their life that has hurt them to the core, that has wronged them, that has brought them to their knees. I hope that they have made the choice to love that person. I don't mean accept mistreatment. I mean love them. Pray for them. In the face of their choices against you, I hope you find a place to love them from. I hope you forgive them so that you can pray fiercely for them. To be able to love someone, when they have given you every reason to walk away from them in either anger or sadness, that is remarkable. To love as completely as you can, and get nothing in return, this is loving like God loves.  You could choose hate, but instead you choose love. The true beauty, is that it comes back to you. In one way or another, God blesses you tenfold...elevenfold. It may take time. You may have to endure a period of painful refinement. But it passes. And when it does, you are so much better for it. You love yourself more. You love life more. You love God more.

I am overwhelmed at how God loves me. His grace takes my breath away. In just over a month, I will be twenty-five. I know that it will be a lovely year. I know I will be amazed by what God has in store. I am amazed by what He has already started. 

You were tough. You were a hard season of refinement, and still there is so much left to be done! As you come to a close, I am excited for the end of the chapter and grateful for what I have from it. You showed myself to me, my God to me, in ways I had never seen before.  Because of you, I truly appreciate my strength- which always has and always will be in Christ Jesus.

Friday, September 25, 2009

my crazy home

{source unknown}

The girls and I are home today, and I thought I would take a minute to write before I tackled some more cleaning/projects. Sometimes when I need to clean but don't want to, I look at some inspirational pictures to get motivated. I like this one above. This is the color palette that I am going for in my entryway and kitchen. Somehow I keep acquiring vintage mirrors. I am not sure how I will use them, but I think some sort of grouping would be pretty.

I think entryways are important. I think porches and entryways are the first impression. The country blue and rose in my entryway are driving me bonkers. I so badly want to go to work... but I have a whole messy house to clean. You know that saying, "if you're not careful the things you own will start owning you"- well, that is how I am starting to feel. It can really become so overwhelming. Especially with two little ones who make messes faster than I can clean them. 

I want to know what the secret is... How do some moms keep such a clean house? How do they get their kids to keep their rooms clean? How do they stay on top of laundry?

I have a PLAN. First, I am going to continue going through clothes and bag some up for a garage sale. (Which may be next spring.) I already have four trash bags of girls clothes. The rest I will be washing and drying throughout the weekend. I am going to have a box in every room, just to fill up with items for goodwill or garage sale. From there, it will just be one room at a time. I'm on a time frame here, because I would love to have a big Christmas get together this year. I always want things to be perfect... but I know I have to be okay with less than perfect. 

I'm hoping I get a lot accomplished this weekend...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

porch projects

I should be working indoors. I should be working on my entryway or doing laundry or cleaning. But lately I have been focused on the exterior of my home. I bought this cross at hobby lobby. It is rather large, and was originally priced $9.99. I waited for iron/metal decor to go half off. I needed something for a bare space on my front porch.
It got lost in the sea of brown, so I spray painted it a creamy white. The porch is still a work in progress, so excuse the mess. I bought the two chairs pictured below for $3.98 a piece at the chichiDAV. I have one primed, not sure on the final color. In the far right corner you can see the candelier I bought a while back. I am moving it around and finding a happy place for it. It will get spray painted too...

I bought that piece of a dresser at a garage sale for $3. The lady said she was going to make a cat bed out of it but never got around to it. I think it is a cute little porch table.

You can kinda see the pretty blue. Those glass doors have a tint film on them, which I may have to use amonia to remove. And a razor blade scraper. This is conjuring up bad memories of wall paper removal- which I will be tackling again soon.

I will have to get some better pictures up here soon!

Tomorrow our monthly flea market starts back up again! Charlie and I will be up with the sun looking for treasures. It will be so much fun!

Friday, September 18, 2009

blue, buttons, baubles, and ring boxes

Front door before:


and After!!! 

blue door!

The blue looks lighter here than it does in person. It is a very pretty blue and I will try and photograph it again this afternoon to see if it does it justice. I found a polystain in walnut at the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for $2.99. I dipped just the ends of my brush in the stain and then lightly painted it on, applying a bit more in cracks and crevices. I wiped it off with a rag for just a slight stain. I will get better pictures later. These blue doors look pretty on my darkly painted home. Now I just have to figure out how to take the tint off my glass doors. Let me know what you think! Just don't tell me that you liked the glossy red way better. :o)


Yesterday my mom and I went on a road trip. She had to drive to a business meeting and I followed her part way. We drove through my hometown, and then on through several small towns, and then finally reached Fort Scott, KS. It is such a cute town! Weekends are the best time to visit, as several antique places were only open on Saturday and Sunday. That didn't stop us though! I have some funny/sentimental stories to share about our trip, but for now I will just tell you bout the treasures!

We stopped at one of the small towns along the way. We sifted through a "treasure chest" that was 75% crapyadon'twant and 25% vintage/antique goodness. This tin was laying on the floor, and I noticed it because it matched this tin. I bent down to pick it up and it was surprisingly heavy...
what? a matching tin?

To my delight, I opened it and discovered it was full of buttons and baubles and jewels! I was thrilled to see that it was under $10! Brooklyn and I will sort these together. (After Charlotte has gone to bed. :o)
full of  vintage buttons, baubles and jewels

I picked a few of my favorites off the top. There are some really great vintage buttons in here, and some I believe are victorian. I'm fairly certain the black fabric button at the bottom is... 

Sorting buttons is therapeutic. I plan to use these in all sorts of ways, but I can't wait to make some jewelry with them! One of my favorite blogs to read is the flower patch farmgirl blog. Click here to see her creative way with vintage buttons!
vintage buttons

Do you remember when I mentioned vintage ring boxes? I love them to pieces. The two in the background I already had. My mom and I were talking about what things we would like to find on our trip, and I said I would like to find a ring box. I mean, I needed three to be official right?

The first place we stopped in Fort Scott my mom found one. Just one in a quiet place that you  wouldn't really notice. The sticker on the bottom said NFS. Flea queens loathe the NFS sign. If it isn't for sale, why put it with a bunch of things that are for sale? The girl saw me looking at it and asked her mom if she would sell it. She obliged, and one song later the little white ring box in front was coming home with me! It has plum colored velvety fabric inside. I'm loving plum this fall...
vintage ring boxes!

I got back and went to pick up the girls. I was sharing my delight over my ring box and buttons with my grandma. She made her way back to her room and brought out the black one! It originally held a wedding set! I was surprised that she had one that she and grandpa used. This is a treasure that means a lot to me, and I feel so honored to have it.
vintage ring boxes!

I have one more treasure to show you, but she's not ready for her close up yet.

The best treasure of the day was the time with my mom. I love spending days with my mom, laughing and sharing, eating too much, searching for treasures. And boy did we laugh! It looks like we will be making a trip to California next month! 

Yesterday was my BFather's birthday. Happy Birthday! I hope there is a big party for you in heaven...

Now there is a baby with a blinky and a blanky laying down by me. It must be time to rockabye.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Caramel Apple Crunch Pie

I think Fall might be my favorite season. I think Spring is magical too. But there is just something special about Fall. I love scarves and boots. I love pumpkins. I love the changing leaves and fall colored mums. I love the crispness in the air. More than anything, I LOVE FALL FOOD. As soon as the air turns a bit cooler, I am thinking of pies... warm fall pies... with icecream... and hot coffee... on my porch swing... pie is joy that you can eat. 
For our girls night, I made my own version of caramel apple crumble pie. It was divine! I thought I would share the recipe with ya'll.

2/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. salt 
5 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, sliced
9-inch pie crust
cinnamon & sugar mixed for sprinkling

Pre-heat oven to 425. Set your store bought pie crust on the counter to bring to room temperature. (I used Pillsbury brand and it was yummy. You can find these crusts in the refrigerated cookie dough section.)
Mix sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl. (A whisk works well for mixing dry ingredients.) Stir in your apples. Mix together until the apples are all coated and look a little gooey. Note: I don't know the official rule on this, but because this pie is baked at 425, I cooked it in a store bought foil pie pan. I have heard that you aren't supposed to bake anything in glass at temperatures higher than 350. I don't know if glass pie dishes are an exception, so to be safe I used the foil pan. You can get two, with plastic travel container for around $3 at the grocery store. Easy travel. One less dish to wash. Unroll your crust over your pie pan/dish. Crimp the edges however you like. Spoon the apple mixture into crust. Top with the crumb topping; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. (the sprinkling is important. It gives the pie that golden brown glow...the fall glow.) Bake at 425 degrees for 45-50 minutes. At about twenty minutes, I loosely wrapped foil around the edges so they wouldn't burn. And I baked my pie on a cookie sheet. Those foil pans aren't firm, and sometimes the pie will bubble over. PLEASE don't forget the cookie sheet. :o)

crumb topping:
1 c. all-purpose flour 1/2 a stick of butter, chilled
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed

Mix ingredients together until crumbly. And for Julia's sake, USE REAL BUTTER. 

Now for the special part...

Buy a jar of caramel/butterscotch topping from the icecream topping section. Put a couple spoon fulls in a piping bag or a ziplock with the corner cut, just a tiny hole.  When the pie is warm out of the oven, drizzle the caramel all over in a crazy fashion. This is important.

Serve with warm vanilla icecream.

This pie is so yummy. It is definitely joy you can eat!

Happy Fall!

Monday, September 14, 2009

soccer and recent goodies!

Brooklyn started soccer this last Saturday. Her school has a little mini-league, and she is on the yellow team. Her being anything but aggressive, I was blown away when she was getting right in there after the ball. The teams are K- 3rd grade, and I was a little worried that maybe she might be intimidated. Not this girl. She held her own. Those boys better watch out.
She seemed to have so much fun, which was the most important part. She doesn't want shin guards. But I think I am going to try and talk into wearing them. Just in case. I am glad that she is starting to be more aggressive and less daisy picker. I love the daisies too. But it is good to see this side of her. 


Here she is with her dad. He doesn't always look like this. In fact, I think he changed his smile to this stern face. He's a good dad. Terrible partner. Bless his heart... :o) To his credit, we were just kids when she was born...

Charlie had fun eating playing with sand.

All that soccer made her thirsty. These hello kitty water bottles are in the dollar bin at Target right now and they come with a snack container! 

Now, on to my most recent finds:


Look at that millinery!!! I will be plucking these hats. I don't even want to tell you how cheap they were... and the baby bonnet too. Hard backs are 3 for $1.05 at the closest Salvation Army. I love old books. I'm most excited about The Flapper Wife. I have been after a vintage hat stand, but they are always priced so high at my local antique stops. Like, $20- $40. I found this pink one for $6. It will probably find a home in Brooklyn's room.


I have been drawn to any type of vintage container. I especially love vintage ring boxes, but those are hard to find and go for too much on ebay. The Marie Atoinette pearl box was a happy find, although I have no idea what I will keep in it. Maybe loose stones or beads or something. I was excited about the tin with handles. I usually shy away from too much floral goodness, but the subdued colors and cheap price were too good to pass up. You could consider these containers the inspiration for my soon to be office/craft space.


At the monthly flea I found this Jesus print in a large size. I wanted it badly. For $20 I could have had it, but I was out of cash. I had to leave it behind. I thought about it often. When I was on my solo road trip I found this smaller version, and I knew it was meant to be! I don't know what I will do with it yet. 


Emily found this silver dresser set for me and the platter underneath! Aren't these lovelies beautiful? I love the patina... and I am a sucker for platters. Especially white platters! 


This little lady currently resides in my China Hutch. I don't know much about these girls, except that they are usually priced $40 and up. This one was so inexpensive I couldn't leave her behind. She even had left over pins in her tushion.

My doors are blue, and I have one last step before I can show them. Then I will work on the entryway, and then my creative studio. (Where the hours of photo editing, sewing, jewelry making, etc. will be spent... more on that later!)

I'm off to make some fresh salsa for girls night tonight... and fold laundry... and finish some doors... and sweep and mop... it never ends, does it?

Happy Monday!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

solo road trip

Gas. Country on the radio. Diet Pepsi...

First stop: Blackwell, Oklahoma. There were neat little antique places. I bought a few things. (I will share those soon! :o)

Final Destination: Oklahoma City. I nearly caused a crash when I saw they had a dunkin' donuts! We used to have one in my big town when I was little. My dad would take me and let me pick out any donut I wanted. He always got the fritter, I got the powdered sugar creme filled.

The display still looks the same! It made me so happy to find a dunkin' donuts. I ordered the usual, and an iced coffee with cream and sugar. The donut was better when I was a kid. But the iced coffee... holy smokes it was yummy!

I got a manicure because I could, and all my nails were long at the same time. I then made my way to Bricktown.  I ate dinner by myself at this crab place. The waiter was crabby. The food was pretty good. It was a late dinner, but not late enough to be this dead... I'm going to chalk it up to labor day weekend, and not some story about the place having rats or something that I didn't know about...


Being too stingy to spend $100 on a room, I drove back to Guthrie, Oklahoma. I got a clean little hotel room for $50. I laid in bed and watched several episodes of Roseanne on TV land, because I could. I felt happy. 
The next morning I had breakfast at Katie's. It was such a good breakfast! If you are ever in Guthrie, eat breakfast here! Their coffee was soooo good. 


This place was next to Katie's. Isn't it lovely? I like that 'Blessings' sign. It is for sale...


Downtown Guthrie is so quaint. It is a bit like stepping back in time. There are several Antique places on Oklahoma Ave. I didn't get to look, but I want to go back with my mom anyhow! It was our kind of place...

Don't you just love the turret on this antique store? I must go back to this place...


This is the current project. My front doors. I have two. They both have the lovely amber glass picture below. I can't decide if I like it or not. Many people love red doors. I have wanted blue ones for a long time now. I am going to try a treatment I have never done before... We will see what happens!


Every woman should go on a road trip all by herself at least once in her life. And when she gets home, she should paint her front door(s) any color she likes. Because she can.

Monday, September 7, 2009

on pain and peace

This has been a strange weekend. I have become so restless, and so Saturday I decided to go on a road trip by myself. I wanted it to be life changing. I wanted to spend time with God. I wanted to be alone and feel free for a while. I suppose I did. But like they say, no matter where you go, there you are.

Recently I have started meeting with three best friends on Monday nights. It has been such a God thing. We really all three need each other and I am feeling so thankful for their friendships. I have been surprised at the way these women have challenged me. I have been thinking differently. I have been asking myself some tough questions. They give me every right to be human and broken, and I do the same for them. But at the same time, they hold up a mirror. That is tough. I have noticed myself describing people as "sick" when they are emotionally unhealthy. One of the girls asked me why I use that word. In doing that, I suppose I take away some of the responsibility they have in getting healthy. Really, it is self-serving. If I can say someone is "sick" than I can believe that they would never choose to hurt me the way they did. It wasn't my fault nor was it theirs, there was some external thing, like a virus you catch, that caused what happened. This is perhaps my number one coping mechanism. This is what allows me to love, and keep the relationships that have been so crucial to me throughout my life. The thing is, it's not working anymore. 

When you take away the responsibility that a person has in decisions, or worse, you blame yourself for their choices, you become incapable of true forgiveness. Your heart holds true to the sick theory, your head knows better. Your head gets angry. And angrier. And right below the very calm surface is this tormenting pain. It mostly stays in it's place. Nobody else seems to know it is there, but it becomes impossible to ignore. No amount of pretending does the trick. No geographical change alleviates the pain. You can go on a road trip all by yourself, it will still be there. You can stuff your face, buy a car, clean your house, get promoted, have sex, buy new clothes, contemplate suicide, have an affair, earn a degree, win the lottery, get drunk, get married, leave your wife/husband, get a boob job, get high, go to Europe, loose weight, pop pills, build your dream home, take a bath, and it will not go away. God created us to need Him. And this, I believe, is part of the plan. It is the human sickness that only God can cure. It kills us, if left untreated. It just kills the spirit, and leaves the body- a shell where there once was a vibrant spirit. 

The good thing is, as long as we are alive, God can heal. He can, with our willingness, make beauty from ashes, strength from fear, gladness from mourning, peace from despair. The tough part is that it almost always requires sacrifice or change. Give up on the temporary pain relievers that get so many of us by- sex, drugs, pills, spending, status, appearance, money, etc. and cling to a God that requires complete trust and faith, that asks us to live according to His will, study scripture that often doesn't make sense, strive to be what we can't possibly be, and then watch our spirits soar. Watch and they will come alive. Others will be drawn to us. Wait, and before you know it, the pain will subside completely. With enough time, God will have us bubbling over with a joy that only He gives. It will spill out all over the people we see and the lives we touch. God will make us new. He heals. I know it. I am just not feeling it. (head/heart thing again...)

So, deductively, I must ask myself that question. What am I still holding on to? What is filling the space meant for God?

I know what it is. I have been fighting God on this for such a long time. It feels impossible to let go of, because it is a key piece to what I have always believed would make me happy. That's not the way this works. The silly part is, if I could just let go, give it up to God, and let Him work, I know He would bless me beyond what I can imagine. He would take what is and give me so much more. He would make me new in a way that no earthly man could shake. I would be healed from what ails me, and be the best I could be for my girls. And ultimately, I will know a true and lasting peace that wherever I am, there I will be...at peace... in a crowded room or on a road trip all by myself. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

letting go

Something miraculous happens the first time you hold your child in your arms. The whole world seems to come to a standstill. Suddenly the pain of just giving birth dissipates. The people in the room seem to blur and then disappear. There is nothing but you and baby. There is more love than one human spirit can contain. It floods over you and leaves you breathless. You can't hold your baby tight enough, long enough, close enough. You feel the goodness of God.

How quickly they grow. I find myself wishing I could capture entire moments and revisit them later. I wish I could remember more about Brooklyn's baby days. Why do they feel so far away?

I recently chatted on facebook with my high school English teacher. She was a petite little thing, with a big bright smile, a blonde bob, and red lipstick. She wore tapered jeans and finely pressed shirts, and a gigantic diamond on her left hand. There wasn't a kid who didn't like her. She just had this way with us. She knew how to keep those rowdy boys in line, and she made english fun. She gave out a coveted Chivalry award each year, the class voted. I liked that she found a way to make chivalry cool. I actually don't remember much about English. But I remembered three things very well, and tonight I shared them with her.

1. She always smiled. Every day. She made it seem possible that one can be in a good mood each and every day. I remember appreciating her cheerful demeanor, and reminding myself that if I became a teacher, I wanted to be like that. With her, I realized how powerful smiling is.

2. How to give a proper handshake. She taught the whole class the proper way to give a handshake. The way to hold your hand, the firmness of grip, the eye contact, the actual shake, all those details. She said it was an important thing to know, that it would serve us well. She wanted us to be confident. She believed a good interview started with a good handshake. Tonight I told her that I have received so many wimpy handshakes from women, and I just want to teach them right then and there! When you shake someone's hand, you are presenting them with all that you are, be confident for crying out loud!

3. She didn't know how to pump gas. Her husband always filled up her car for her every week. This might have been the most important lesson. I remember being baffled by a grown woman who didn't know how to pump gas, and never had to. Moreover, I was baffled by the idea that a husband would do that. The idea of a man going out of his way and taking care of things for his wife, that was like nothing I had ever seen before. I remember, as the boys were poking fun at her gas pump ignorance, I was quietly telling myself I wanted someone who would do that for me. Even now, I stand hard and true by the idea that any man who wants to marry me must always take care of the cars. I know full well how to change a tire, and the oil. I just don't want to. Inevitably, I have had to take care of car stuff myself. I don't mind pumping my own gas. I would even change my own tire if I needed to. But I know for a fact there are men out there who take good care of their wives cars, and I want one like that. More importantly, there are men out there who take good care of their wives, and that is what I really want.

Our conversation was somewhat coincidental. Her father-in-law had just passed away this evening, in her home. She couldn't sleep. We had a good visit and I could tell I blessed her heart with sharing the lessons she taught me. Her quiet example raised the bar a little higher- for how I present myself, how I encounter and meet people, and the kind of man I choose for my life. She has blessed me too. It's funny what we learn from our teachers.

When we were through talking, I remembered that she never had any children of her own. I felt sad for a moment. Then I realized she has had hundreds of kids. While she may have never had any herself, she has helped raise hundreds. She has poured her love out all over the kids that walk through her classroom door. She taught important lessons when she probably didn't know she was teaching. 

With that, I feel a bit better about letting my baby girl out into this world. I feel a bit more optimistic about entrusting her to teachers for the next 13 years. But you better believe that I am going to hang on tight to the memory of the first time I held her in my arms. She will always be my baby.