Monday, January 13, 2014

contentment

As I sit here, tears rolling down my cheeks, I realize how blessed I am. I am on a comfy couch, with a cup of yummy coffee, little lights surround me on the walls and the ceiling from the sunlight that is pouring into the living room and dancing off of the little mirrored Christmas ornaments that I just couldn't put away. I am in a beautiful and cozy home that I have molded and shaped into a little nest for my family and me, and I am awestruck at God's goodness towards undeserving me. I say undeserving because we are all undeserving of His love, but He graciously lavishes it on us every second of every day. Sure, I have rough days, but I never question why. I know that God is molding me and shaping me, as I do my home, into the person He designed me to be before I was even born. Wow! He knew me even then and loved me. He loved me before I even knew Him or even cared for Him. He called me to Him and has given me a life that I don't even deserve. I am grateful…and working on being content. I say working on it because it has been a process.
Contentment is hard (especially when we live in a society that constantly tells us that we need bigger and better because "we deserve it"). It isn't something that has come easily for me. I have a tendency to always be looking forward instead of enjoying the present. "I can't wait until the kids are older and more self-reliant." "I can't wait until we move to our dream home." "I can't wait until I have lost all of the weight I want to lose." "I can't wait until fill-in-the-blank." Why can't I wait? The answer is simple: I can. In the waiting is where we get glimpses of God through our children…in their laugh, and in their hugs, and even in through their tears. In the waiting is where we love our home and make it a safe and comfortable place for our family and friends, and that is the dream home. In the waiting we learn perseverance and discipline to lose that extra weight. In the waiting is where we see that we are not worthy, yet God sent His one and only Son to die for me. For me? The me that doesn't have my quiet time everyday? The me that might not even crack open my Bible between church services? The me that gets angry and yells at my kids? The me that dreads cooking dinner every night even though there are people all over the world that are starving? Yes, for me. I still feel like I won the lottery when I meditate on the thought that He chose me. Of course, I had to chose Him too, but that part was easy.
So, as I go about my day, I chose to see things for the present. I'll scrub my children's hair and cook dinner with a sense of thankfulness. I will fluff the pillows on my couch in my little living room, grateful for the coziness of it. I will continue to get up before the sun and sweat, thankful that I am able to do it.

This is what I strive for:

"I have learned to be content no matter the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Phillipians 4:11-13

Have a blessed day!
Jenn

Monday, October 7, 2013

when you are at the end of your rope...

Quarterly posts...it.has.come.to.this.

Well, you know it has to be important if it makes it on this page.

So, the last month or so has been, how should I put it....rough. Yes, the word "rough" is about the nicest and most ladylike way I can say it, although it doesn't even come close to the profanity-laced description that went through my mind (Lord forgive my thoughts). The kids began their new UMS (university model school), I began a part-time job a month or so before that, and we are full throttle into sports, piano, church activities, homeschooling and every other thing you could throw at this mom that can't say no. I'm one of those people that can juggle lots of things...until you throw in that one last responsibility and holymotherofabrahamlincoln, I have lost the will to live. I CAN NOT EVEN. I battle with a little OCD, a lot of perfectionism, throw in a small dose of no sleep and I'm a full on, double batch of crazy. Also, add in a battle with the "L" word...the nasty little hair critter "L" word that shall not be named and I went from crazy to "hide the car keys, mama's about to bolt" in about a nanosecond. After a frantic text to the hubby,  he quickly sent in a team of amazing friends/fellow homeschool moms/sidekicks to get me through the day.from.the.pits.of.hell. They brought me Chick-Fil-A, soup and homemade bread for dinner, some Starbucks, and delousing products. Do I have the best friends or what? I do, so no need to answer. Bless them, bless them all.
So, now that all of that is out there, let me tell you what wonderful revelation I had just the other day. I got through Crazytown, took a detour in Pityparty, USA, and had arrived in WhatdoIdonow-ville. Something had to give. I was living on a pot o'coffee a day and about 3 hours of sleep. I was, dare I say, unpleasant. Oh yes I was.
So, I found myself sitting on the couch one day (the kids must of have been outside or something because it was quiet.. and can I get an "Amen"), and probably feeling just a bit overwhelmed and anxious that I was actually SITTING DOWN between the hours of 7 AM & 11 PM, when God gave me a revelation. He typically speaks to me when I actually take the time to stop and spend time with Him...strange concept, I know. I can't do it myself. CAN NOT. He allowed me to get overwhelmed, and anxious, and strung the heck out because He needed me to be at my wit's end to hear His voice and draw me to Him. Hardheaded people need to be strung out sometimes, I guess. I mean, I wouldn't know about being hardheaded or anything, but I've heard about those types of people, bless 'em. Anywho, it was like he was shaking me and saying, "Ask me for help. I created you. I can make your life run so much more efficiently that you can imagine. I can give you rest. I can give you peace." I think I needed to get desperate for God and admit to my perfectionist, I-can-do-it-all-by-myself, don't need no help from nobody self to realize that I can't. Wow. Talk about humbling. I'm still trying to get over it.
Sometimes we need to just stop. Stop talking and listen. Stop running and sit and breathe. Stop trying to do it all yourself and ask for help (or husbands, ask her friends for you). Put the pride aside. Whoa, I feel like I should break out in a limerick here or something...
Spend time with The Lord. Know that even just a quick nod, holy fist-bump, a "We got this! You and me" shout out will do in the midst of "the crazy". God just wants YOU. He wants ME. He wants our love, our conversation, our dependence. He want to know He's The Man. Because He is. Sometimes He just needs to give us a gentle nudge. Sometimes it's in the form of a mental breakdown, but whatev.... It's all good y'all.

Friday, July 5, 2013

women under attack

We are under attack. Not by WMDs or biological warfare, but our media. Our media has us (or is trying to have us) convinced that women are supposed to do and have it all. That it is our God-given right. That it is our responsibility. That it is our duty. If we cannot do or be all of these things, then we are a failure to ourselves, our spouse, our children, our friends, our family, our church and our employer. We are to have bodies that are taut, toned, tanned, free from blemish, varicose veins, cellulite, scars, fat, and excess skin. We are to wake up early to get in our quiet time, work out, shower and get ready for the day before we make our children and husbands a delicious homemade breakfast. No Pop Tarts or frozen waffles allowed! We are to go about our day full of enthusiasm and energy, with smiles on our faces. Lunches are homemade and nutritious, our homes are clean and well-decorated, and our dinners are a work of art. We are to do all of these things and still have the time and energy to "wow" our husbands any time they desire...but we don't mind. We enjoy it. We have no self-esteem issues. No body issues. No issues with anything because we are the "perfect" women. There is nothing we CANNOT do. There is nothing we CANNOT be. That's what we are told, so if we CAN'T, then it is our fault. Right? Wrong. Dead wrong. We cannot be all things to all people. We are not all 5'10" and naturally have the metabolism of a teenage boy. (Some of us are 5'2" and have the metabolism of a slug AND our thighs touch...yes, some of our thighs actually touch.) We are not all super moms like "everyone else" (newsflash: they aren't either). We do not throw the best parties (we get cupcakes from Walmart and are frazzled after a sleepover with seven little girls). We do not have the cleanest houses (and can barely keep the laundry from looking like Mt. Kilimanjaro and smelling like death). We do not wear designer clothes (we shop the sale rack at Old Navy). Our kids are not perfect (we can barely keep them from climbing to the top shelf at the grocery store to get the Pop Tarts that we may, or may not, feed them for breakfast the next morning). We do not have the perfect husbands (sometimes they don't buy us flowers or they might not be able to rewire the house). We are not hyper-sexed women who woo our husbands to bed each night in sexy lingerie for "movie worthy" husband/wife time (we are freaking exhausted, and have been NEEDED all day long by our non-perfect children, and just want to watch t.v. and not be needed for a half second, and not want to have to "perform", and even though it is very kind that you insist that we don't have to, we feel like the "good wife" should, and we feel unattractive because we are noticing those "laugh lines" aren't so funny when they are on OUR face, and our tummy has a nice little pooch thanks to three C-sections and the inability to get to the gym the recommended hour a day, five days a week, and our boobs sag from breastfeeding those three C-sections babies, and our roots are showing, and we haven't shaved in three days). We can't be the President of the PTO, and room mom, and team mom, and lead a Bible study, and be a Sunday School teacher, and be at all of their games. Oh, and don't forget date night. Aren't we supposed to do that once a week so we have time to "keep the flame burning" with our husbands? 
We are to look to the Lord for our sense of significance. We are to see ourselves as God sees us. As perfectly imperfect reflections of Him. We are to be Proverbs 31 women. Let me let you in on a little secret: I am so intimidated by her. Have you ever read it? It is a biblical version of what we see and hear by our media. Please know, I am not saying that God, in his infinite wisdom, has set us up for failure. Actually, I think it is his way of making us depend on Him. He has set the standard very high, as it should be. We just have to figure out what the Proverbs 31 woman looks like today...
I think she is confident in herself. Confident in her Godly husband. Confident in the way she raises her imperfect children. She gives them, and herself grace. She loves people. She loves all people. She is prayerful throughout her day, not just in her quiet time (that she may or may not get that day). She isn't perfect, but she is perfectly made. God created us to always be "becoming". We are to strive to "become" the Proverbs 31 woman. We are to lean on Him to be Jesus to others. It is a tall order, but we can do it. Let me let you in on another little secret: nobody is perfect. Models are airbrushed. Husbands lose their temper. Children break stuff. Most women have cellulite (even models). In time, all of our boobs will sag (unless we get them lifted) and we will have wrinkles (unless we botox them out) and we will put on a few pounds (unless you don't, then you are a liar). 
Folks, I struggle. My self-esteem gets flattened countless times. I don't have it figured out yet, and I definitely don't see myself the way Our Creator does. All we can do is pray. Pray for each other. Pray for ourselves. Pray for our children. Pray that our boys look at the beauty within when the time comes for him to meet his wife. Pray that our girls really embrace that beauty is the Holy Spirit radiating from within and not the color of your skin or the curve in your body. Pray that our husbands can be strong in their faith and conviction when they are bombarded by the imagery and the lies that are fed to them by movies, billboards, commercials, etc. They, more than anyone, need our prayers to be faithful. And we must rise up to our calling as wives and be that Proverbs 31 woman. One last little secret: she wasn't perfect either ;)

Blessings to you!
Jenn

Thursday, April 11, 2013

mac down. mac down.

My Mac almost died...let me 'splain.
I was sitting across from my precious middle child on my Mac and she knocked over a full cup of water onto the table. She didn't say anything...my computer got the fuzzies. Then it died. Then I heard, "I am SOOOOO sorry!!!" What did you do child? Oh no you di'in't. Oh Sweet Mother of Abraham Lincoln you did. So, I did the only thing I knew to do. I googled it. I texted my friend. I freaked out a little. Then I freaked out a lot. I did not yell at my daughter. I prayed a little. I stuck it in a bag of rice and sucked all the air out. I left it for 3 days. Lo and behold, she was resuscitated. I say "she" because she is strong, virulent, and doesn't give up. You can't keep her down. She's a fighter. The only "scar" she has is that she has a piece of rice up her earhole. Yeah, a piece of rice is stuck in the headphone hole. But beggars can't be choosers. It works and I am thankful...and I have a plan to jam a needle in there to pry it out. I mean, I am like my computer. I won't give up...like Jason Mraz (iTunes it).
So, all that to say that I have been busy and haven't been able to blog about it.
Project magnetic blackboard is still rockin'. It takes forever. The magnetic paint was a little rough to work with and the blackboard paint had to cure. Sheesh. Ain't nobody got time fo' dat! So, here is what I started with. It was an 8' x 4' sheet of some kind of cheap board from Lowe's. Sorry, don't have the name, but it was less than $9 for the whole shebang. I had them cut 2' off so it would fit. I wanted this mamma jamma big. I like 'em round and big...wait, those lyrics don't quite fit (and a tad inappropriate..name that song). So, I just used my handy dandy stud finder and screwed it to the studs. I think there are 10 screws holding it up. It ain't goin' nowhere. (Does it terrify you that I homeschool my children?)

(um, why is this picture cattywhompus?)

After my magnetic paint (3 coats to be exact), it looked like this...



 And after 2 more coats of chalkboard paint, it looks like this... and no, it isn't the same picture.

So, lemme just say a few things.

  1. Magnetic paint gets blobby. You can shake and stir to your hearts desire, but there will be a few globs, or blobs, or whatever you wanna call it when you paint. I used a foam roller and when a blog would appear, I would take the end of my roller and rub the blob out and roll back over it. Seemed to work okay. I put 3 coats on, and it will still barely hold a paper with a medium strength magnet. I am going to go get the kind that you can magnetize a small child to just to be sure.
  2. Magnetic paint is MESSY. I had drips on me, my baseboard, my wall, the dogs outside, and the neighbor across the street. Oh, and you have to get it off with paint thinner. Drat.
  3. Chalkboard paint is a dream. Coats perfectly, dries without the streaks that you see above, and is water soluble! 
  4. It has taken me a while to finish because I made a little boo boo (not of the Honey Boo Boo variety...that is terrifying and much worse). In my haste, while trying to maneuver my ginormous piece of wood around Lowe's with 3 impatient children in tow, I had them cut it down 2 feet in length to an even 6'. I bought some cedar fence boards that are 6' to make the frame thinking I would just miter cut the corners and not have any additional cuts to make. Well, fence boards have a "dog-ear" on each corner. Sheesh. So, I have to either rip down one side of the fence boards, then miter them, or just rip a good 2 inches off my length, screw it back in, and make my frame. That is what I will do since I want the frame as thick as possible. Make sense? Probably not...and if I was a good picture-taker, you would see what I mean. Either way, it will end up being amazing. I'll finish it off and show you. And you will be jealous of my skills. You know, like nunchuck skills, bowstaff skills, etc. 
So, in closing, my Mac is 100% AOK, my magnetic chalkboard is almost complete, and magnetic paint is a little (a lot) annoying. Oh, and I love Napoleon Dynamite...and Jason Mraz...and chalkboard paint.

Blessings!
Jenn

Monday, April 1, 2013

little projects

I have some projects to do. Some are fun...



Some are not...
like changing out door hardware.
But they all help me to love my home more. 
So, I'll be busy the next few days. 
I mean...busier than normal. 
Can't wait to show you the results!

Blessings,
Jenn

Friday, March 22, 2013

simple

Do you ever dream of a really simple life? I do. I sometimes wish we could sell our house and move into a tiny little country cottage on a piece of land big enough to do what we wish, but not too big to tend to. I want fewer things to take care of. Fewer things to break. Fewer things to clean. I wish my day involved painting, crafting, and tending to chickens and a garden. I wish everything was within a bike ride. I wish my favorite coffee shop was just around the corner and that a library was down the street. 
I often dream of what that would be like. I often wonder why we don't just do it. Sell most of our things, keep only what we truly need and love, and just go. Go where there is less stuff and more us. More time being together. More time to bake and sew and play. Less stress, less time wasted and more time doing what makes us happy. More time in the Word instead of in the car. More time reading and less time cleaning. 
My kids asked me the other day why Dad was the one who always played with them while I cleaned and did stuff inside. I hate to say it, but before I even gave it a thought, I muttered, "If I had some help, I might be able to play more and clean less." Just thinking about the words that came out of my mouth makes me cry all over again...and I replay it often.
Since then, my house has been a little more messy. Dishes have begun to stack up regularly. Clothes are always in piles with one load in the washer, and one in the dryer. Countertops are rarely clean...but, I play with my kids more. I'll admit, it is hard. It is very hard to overlook the mess and pretend to be carefree. I know it will get better. Every time I see their faces light up when they ask me to play, and I stop what I'm doing and say "okay", it gets easier. They just want me. They don't care about the dishes, or made beds, or the lack of socks in their drawer. They just want their mom to play with them.
Would living more simply be the answer? Maybe. One thing I do know is that no matter where you are, not matter what your situation, you can be what your kid needs. Sometimes it just means being the bouncer on the trampoline. :)

Blessings,
Jenn


Monday, March 11, 2013

linen & grey

As a young girl, I remember frequenting fabric stores with my Memom. I remember looking at and feeling the fabric between my fingers. I remember being overwhelmed by the rows and rows of fabrics, ribbons, and trims. I would leave with eyes burning from the dyes, as my mom did when she shopped with her many years before me. I don't remember being particularly excited about going, but I endured it, and grew to love it over the years. Every time I go to a fabric store, I remember those days with my Memom.
Memom suffered a heart attack this past week, and these memories have never been as important to me as they are now. She is 85. She is still one of my best friends. She is the one who taught me how to sew. She would let me pick out my own pattern and fabrics at Hancock Fabrics (or "Hancockylockies", as she would call it), and would turn me loose. 
Sometimes I would just watch her work. Lips pursed, head tilted back so she could see through her glasses, and a frequent head scratch, she would create. 
I remember how much she appreciated beautiful fabrics. She still does. I do as well. And I really love linen.
I also remember being very interested in decorating from a young age. I guess I really never realized that people actually did it for living. If I had, I would have known from the first time I picked a paint color for my room (which was a hideous deep turquoise with a sponge painted finish...yikes!), that being an interior designer was exactly what I wanted to be. I still dream of it. I dabble in paint colors, fabrics, crafts, and sewing in between schooling my children, cooking dinner and making sure everyone has clean socks. Being in front of a wall of paint swatches is pure bliss. There is no other transformation equal to that of paint on a wall. My favorite color is grey.
That is how I came to the name "Linen & Grey". Two of my favorite things in my own little fantasy world of pretty things. 
I look forward to many more trips to the fabric store with my Memom. Maybe I can even convince her to do a little sewing with her favorite granddaughter (inside joke here...). 

Blessings from my home to yours,
Jenn