Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Sanctuary

I take no credit for this concept- I'm 100% borrowing it from Rachel Anne over at Home Sanctuary.

This is our little townhome.

(Sadly, I just realized that this picture is two years old- because both my sister's car (the white jeep) and my car (the red Saturn) have been totaled since then.)

It's pretty cute.... they're not new, but we like the brick and we have the ONLY tree on our row. I love decorating it- we have simple fall decorations outside, as you can see, and put up a wreath and a simple lighted garland for winter. This past summer, I planted some perennial flowers under the tree and put potted plants everywhere- it was definitely the cutest house on the row.

Inside I've tried to create a homey little place, even with all our mis-matched hand-me-down furniture. (Alas, I can't find the camera anywhere, or I'd show you a picture... when I find it, I'll add one.) I have some cute fall and winter decorations I place about, and I think Husband and I like it and a are glad it's home.

But often, it's quite messy. Somehow the laundry never gets put away, and we're always digging through the laundry baskets to find our clothes for the day. The dresser and any other flat surface gets loaded with piles of goodness knows what. The kitchen seems to always be dirty, whether it's the stove or the floor or the counters or the sink.... and I often lament how cleaning and tidying and laundry NEVER end.

And I have a very bad attitude about it.

See, I inherited the direct correlation between cleanliness/order and my personal functionality from my mom, but still, I've realized I have a bad attitude about having to put things away, clean things up, etc. etc. etc. (and I do mean three etceteras, because it really feels like the minute I finish, I have to start again.) And I get crabby, because I have a full-time job as a teacher and, until recently, have been in grad school, and I don't want to spend my evenings tidying and cleaning and putting laundry away.

But here's where the idea-borrowing comes into play. A few months ago I stumbled onto Rachel Anne's blog, Home Sanctuary. Each day she posts a "small thing" that can make a difference in the idea of making your home a sanctuary. I never really got into them, because I was cranky and crabby about doing more work, even if they were "small things." But, because, I love being a Company girl, I kept reading, often thinking, "I wish I had time to do that."

Anyway, the other day, Rachel Anne was reflecting on how Small Things Matter. In it, she wrote something that really stuck with me.

"My reality is that I'm a tired mom, living on a shoestring.
I'm haphazard in my organization and quite a few of my ideas are half baked, at best.
But I've got this unshakable belief that a home can be wonderful,
even if you don't have it all together.
I believe that God takes the little bit that you have,
and He can make much of it.
I've seen what can happen when I give just a little extra effort into making my home feel nice."

Here's what really got me.
She goes on:

"I've noticed a change in the atmosphere when I approach things with a "sanctuary" mindset instead of a begrudging one. I've even seen beauty in the chaos of family life. Those aren't just "small things." Those are BIG things. AMAZING things!"

Oh, okay, I get it. I have a crabby attitude. I am VERY bregrudging of the fact that I need to clean and tidy and order.

But perhaps, if I chance my mindset, if I choose my attitude, desiring that my home be a sanctuary for myself, for Husband, for our basement rent-ing friend, and for anyone else who might stop in, well, then perhaps I won't mind so much.

In fact, I believe it's NOT just a perhaps. I believe I will NOT mind as much. I believe I'll be able to take joy in the things I do to make our home a sanctuary.

If I were going to have a New Year's Resolution, this would be it. I want to have a different attitude. I want to find joy in cleaning and tidying and doing small things.

I want to make my home a sanctuary.

Thanks, Rachel Anne. (And God.)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Transition, Please

So the radio stations around here started playing 100% Christmas December 1st (one even started after Thanksgiving). I LOVED it. I mean, sometimes I got tired of hearing the same songs over and over, but mostly, I enjoy Christmas music. But what drives me crazy is that they give us nearly a month to prepare for Christmas, but come December 26th, bye bye Christmas music!

I decided I needed a transition period. A few days to wean myself off of the Christmas music. I can't just go cold turkey.

So I've found my new favorite "Christmas" song(s), and I'd like to share it here for those of you who need a transition period, along with me. Stick it out to the end- that's my favorite part.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

1...2...3... Jump!

Obviously this isn't us (we don't live near water, it's currently snowy and cold at our house, and we look nothing like that), but this is how Husband and I feel because...

I'm D.O.N.E. with Grad school!

I just sumbitted my portfolio of everything important I've done for the program for the last year and a half and now ...

Now I can really take a day off and finish Christmas presents that I'm making and just breathe.

(Just thought I'd share.)

Friday, December 18, 2009

LOTS of Coffee Company Today

Good morning, girls! Hope you’re enjoying your coffee, tea, hot chocolate, Diet Coke, or whatever beverage is your personal Friday favorite. I’m currently sipping on a Starbucks Gingerbread Latte. (You can read about my obsession with them here.)

Anyway, I have a confession to make. This morning when I went to Starbucks, I bought two Gingerbread lattes. I thought I might need them, and here’s why.

If you don’t know, I’m a high school Spanish teacher, and its finals week. I’m the teacher that gives her students a 7 page exam (total, including front to back, not that bad) that asks them to do a lot of writing to show what they know. I have about 150 students total, which means 150 finals and the accompanying review packets.

I’m also finishing my Masters degree (D.O.N.E. next week!), and had a big project that took over 90 hours to complete (I feel like that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it was pretty challenging to get done on time and get my “real” job done, too) to turn in on Wednesday night. By yesterday afternoon, I’d given all 150 finals but not graded a single one. Last night I got through about 30 before crashing, which leaves the other 120 for today. I don’t have any classes, which means I’ll be sitting at my desk grading the whole day….

I wish I had the ability to upload pictures from work so I could show you, but I'll just leave you to imagine what a stack of 120 7-page exams and review packets looks like. Do you see why I thought it might be a two- Gingerbread Latte kind of a day? :)

The fun part is that our staff decided to wear Christmas PJs to school today, so although I'm sitting at my desk in my classroom, I'm wearing comfy PJs and drinking my favorite holiday beverage. Just need to get to work! (Cuz once I'm done with this, then I have to figure out how to get/make the family and in-laws inexpensive Christmas presents done before next week.... any suggestions????)

Hope YOUR Friday is full of something joyful (or that you can take joy in, like I do in my coffee company)!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Bend in the Road

Today I'm looking at the bend in the road.

I see the path, but I can't quite see what's beyond it.

Around that bend,

there might be something beautiful.



Or, there could be more road.
But there's a bend in the road.

And the anticipation of what might come is


What might be around your bend in the road?

Let's unwrap the possibilities!
Join Emily and others over at Chatting at the Sky for Tuesdays Unwrapped.

(P.S. - that particular bend in the road pictures is from a park in Seoul.... snagged it off their site)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

501 Days Ago

Yesterday Husband's Facebook wedding counter told us we've been married for 500 days! (Since that was yesterday, today it's 501.... and by the time anyone reads this.... it'll be more lik 502 or more!)

July 26, 2008- after several hours of getting ready, laughing and crying our way through the ceremony, eating a delicious dinner, dancing and talking with friends and family, John and I took a quick breather on the porch before making some more rounds. We were tired.... :)

Perhaps one of my favorite things to do with Husband is walk and talk.... and often that involves quite a bit of laughing. On this particular walk (our engagement shoot), I had definitely worn the wrong shoes, which is why they're in my hand.

Bonded by our mutual dislike for CU, I became a Huskers fan. Husband grew up in Lincoln, so last year when we were in town for Thanksgiving we were super excited to get tickets to the monumental Nebraska-Colorado game, where Nebraska totally kicked CU's rear!

Our first Charlie Brown Christmas tree (last year- this year we are pretty excited to have a nicer one!) This involved lots of laughter, a bit of frustration (I hate hate hate putting the lights on), and, of course, hot chocolate. This year we had lots of laughter, no frustration (at least I didn't!), and, of course, hot chocolate.... but we forgot to a take a picture of us with the tree.

On our one-year anniversary weekend trip to Estes Park, where we hiked, ate, laughed, window-shopped, and enjoyed each other's company away from the hustle and bustle of life.

I know it's a little silly to celebrate 500 days of marriage, but hey, I think it's super cool!

Love you, Husband!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Worthy to be Praised

I always have trouble thinking of what to "unwrap" on Tuesdays.

It's not that I'm not thankful, I am!

I'm thankful for a lot of things. But my friend Dawn always writes these totally incredible posts for Tuesdays Unwrapped, posts that make me really think and posts that make me laugh, and so I feel like my bar is set pretty high. So I get to Tuesdays and try to think of what I could really write about that is an unexpected joy-maker.

Well, the other morning I woke up and decided to have quiet time. I know, that's something to be thankful for in and of itself. How many mornings do we wake up and not have quiet time? For me, a whole lot of them! So I woke up, decided to have quiet time, and actually had it. Something more to be thankful about- followthrough! (Maybe I should quit my post here?? :)

Anyway, as I was writing in my journal (that's the way I keep myself focused on God), I was thinking about how the previous Sunday I'd subbed for teaching the high school Sunday school class and we'd been talking about how David shamelessly worshipped God and what that would like for us. As I was reflecting on this, I wrote, "Recently Mom told me she thinks I'm being a bit discontent, and while I hate to think that's true, it probably is." I decided that, for that morning, I would focus my prayers on why God is worthy to be praised.

So here's the list I came up with:

1. You are worthy because, even though I'm still trying to learn what Lord means, You ARE LORD over all.

2. You are more than worthy, because you humbled yourself and became a baby who had to grow up and live just like the rest of us.

3. You are worthy because you did that so we might be free and truly live.

4. You are worthy because all nature proclaims you. The mountains show your splendor, the oceans tell of your vastness, the flowers speak of your beauty, the animals tell of your care.

5. I praise You because, though we all fail, You love us yet.

6. I praise You because, though you told King David that there will be consequeneces when he fell, that You would never withdraw your love. I praise You for the consequences just as much as I praise You for the love.

7. You are worthy because You alone can bring people through dark times.

8. I praise You for bringing Michelle home to You and for relieving her of all her pain. I praise you for loving her and bringing her to you.

9. I praise you for the creation of new life growing inside another friend, and for the joy and hope this brings. I priase for the ways this will teach family and friends to rely on you more.

10. You are worthy to be praised because not only do you take care of the big things, but you also give us simple things to tak joy from, because you love us so much. You gift me with Christmas lights, Gingerbread lattes, time spent with family, books to read, laughter, sunrises and sunsets, cloudy days, the ability to laugh at myself, and more.

You, God, are beyond worthy to be praised. May I continue to remember these and other ways that you work, and may I take the time to show you my worship, to be thankful and come before you with an attitude of praise.

I know that this heart, this attitude, will bless me as much as it blesses you, which is another reason that

You are worthy to be praised.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Come Home, Come Home

Today, I'm linking up with the Coffee Company girls to share what's going on in our lives. I've been so busy recently with the end of the school semester for both my graduate program and the high school classes I teach that I've barely had the chance to blog or read others' blogs, but I look forward to a few stolen minutes to catch up.

Thursday, I had the hymn "Softly and Tenderly" in my head. I'm not terribly familiar with it, but about a month ago I heard my husband sing it in a way I had never heard him sing before. It was incredible.

At about 6 am Thursday morning, Husband's Dad called to tell us that Michelle, a close family friend, had lost her battle to cancer early in the morning. Michelle and her husband have two little boys, one of whom probably cannot remember a time where his mommy wasn't sick. Still, Michelle put up quite a fight over the last two years, and was an incredible wife and mom. About a month ago she was told her organs were failing, and the family decided to set up a home-hospice care situation for her. On Thanksgiving, things were so bad, Michelle and her husband decided she should go to the actual hospice so they boys wouldn't have to see her that way. Through it all, friends who visited her noted her warmth and love and character shining through everything.

Michelle and her family just a few weekends ago with a John Denver-impersonator. While I wasn't able to attend this party, I heard it was incredible. Michelle and her husband had John Denver played at their wedding and wanted to have another special moment together as a family and with friends.

I've spent the day thinking about how I'm not really sad for Michelle. I'm ecstatic that she is in Heaven, pain-free, cancer-free, most likely having a huge party with other loved ones. I think we all are as joyful as we can be about that. I think that's why the hymn has been in my head all day. What's more perfect?

Softly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
calling for you and for me.
See, on the portals he's waiting and watching,
watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home.
ye who are weary come home.
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
calling, O sinner, come home.

Welcome home, Michelle. You'll be incredibly missed, but welcome home.
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