Bountiful

Last weekend started off low key but with plenty of work to put our hands too. Rob and Sam worked really hard to dismantle the horse ring left by the previous owners. I literally climbed on the counter in my bathroom to get a good view of them because Sam was using power tools for the first time 🙂 Rob and I took the drone up for a few minutes before they got started because we want to document our progress as we work the land.

Dinner Saturday was delicious and right in the middle of it I looked up to see Emily and Hays pulling into our driveway. It was a lovely surprise for Mother’s Day! They also gifted me with some homemade vanilla that I cannot wait to use.

Sarah and Devon sent me the absolute best card along with a beautiful new addition to my Willow Tree figurine collection.

Rob and Abigail, Sam and Claire gave me the one thing I have wanted for literally years and years and we finally have the best place for it here…a swing to hang from one of our beautiful oak trees! I can hardly wait to sit in the mornings with Rob and drink our coffee together.

Speaking of coffee, my sweet friend and I went to a really lovely bakery in Lake Charles called The Bekery as a way to wrap up a book we’d been reading together. The food was scrumptious and I enjoyed a yummy lavender and honey latte. We are already planning our next read and decided this will be our tradition every time we finish a book.

Another favorite this week is this book.

We are looking for ways of using our property instead of selling parcels of it. Currently we are researching raising chickens and/or pigs and cultivating a flower farm. I am more excited about laying hens and their beautiful yard eggs rather than raising meat birds. And I like the idea of pigs more than meat birds for some reason. But I am positively delirious with joy at the idea of a flower farm! I almost always have fresh flowers in my house and if you pay any attention to my photography it’s easy to see how much I enjoy floral photography. I have a lot of reading to do to be able to really make things thrive in the ground here but I’m eager for the challenge.

Currently we have a huge blackberry bush growing and producing like gangbusters so I know the land can be fruitful. Trying to harvest ripe berries earlier in the week earned me and Emily some scratches but no pain no gain, right? Totally worth the yummy hand pies Claire baked yesterday. There are a ton of almost ready berries and I realize I am going to have to check it daily if I don’t want them going to waste. It’s already frustrating because of some of them are out of reach already but the bush is so beautiful.

Since we are talking about sweet treats I am going to wrap up this week’s Friday Favorites post with a link to a recipe I made a few weeks back for church. My mother shared it with me years ago and until recently I had forgotten all about it. For some reason the original recipe was called Italian Bakeless Cake which just doesn’t sit right with me. I have no idea what is Italian about it but the weirder thing to me was calling it “bakeless” which is just an odd sounding word to me. I promptly made it Italian No Bake Cake but no matter what you call it just make sure you get called to the table to enjoy it!

Have a great weekend, y’all!

That’s A Wrap

What. A. Week.

Seriously, y’all, Tuesday just about did me in.

We had breakfast for dinner on Monday night so I took my wedding rings off to make some buttermilk biscuits. I am happy to report that this batch turned out even better than my previous attempt last week. But the reason I mention Monday night in relation to my cray cray Tuesday is that I forgot to put my rings back on and when I realized it on Tuesday morning after I had left the house I felt like I had forgotten to get fully dressed.

I was heading to a photo shoot for the teachers and staff of our kids’ school and the weather was iffy and rainy off and on and I was praying that it wasn’t raining downtown where I was headed. A few minutes delay due to road construction and I was reminding myself to breathe and not get impatient. I wouldn’t be as early as I had wanted but I wasn’t going to be late.

And then the sky fell. Buckets and buckets of water were falling from the sky and even though I knew it was possible that it still wasn’t raining downtown I was getting skeptical of our chances. I passed not one, but two car accidents on my way.

I decided to make a call to one of the admin and see how things were looking weather wise.

No phone.

I had not only left my wedding rings at home I had also forgotten my phone as well. No choice but to keep going with fingers crossed that my people would be gathering under a nice overcast sky for pictures. We managed to get our pictures darting in and out of sprinkles right up to the very last five portraits. Thankfully we got them finished before the buckets upended again.

After the rain let up some I headed home passing yet a third accident.

Five minutes later I am sitting at a red light when the car behind me tried to stop and it’s brakes lock up. With more traffic to her right the other driver had no way to avoid hitting me so for the first time in my life I was in an accident.

Minus my phone. In this moment I learned a very important lesson. Write down and carry a list of people and their phone numbers because I basically know Rob’s by heart and when I couldn’t reach him at first it only added to the stress of the minute for me.

Thankfully it wasn’t very bad and I just woke up the next day stiff and sore…nothing that a few trips to the chiropractor isn’t taking care of. But man, Tuesday was just a dozy of a day.  It ended fine with Claire playing in her first volleyball game that afternoon and killing it with nine scoring serves in a row. Not bad for her first year.

Wednesday was fairly quiet and Thursday was okay as well if a little more hectic. This last week before school starts can keep a girl busy! Plus we tried our hand at homemade egg rolls to go with our fried rice for dinner. Also, some wontons that looked so very pitiful but actually tasted rather good.

Today will be full of this and that and running around. Another volleyball game this afternoon with a tailgate party and soccer game to finish off the evening. Super excited about our ladies brunch and book discussion on Saturday morning. I mentioned the Book You Who by Rachel Jankovic in yesterday’s post. I loved it and I am looking forward to some robust discussion about finding our identity in Christ and what that means.

Okay, one last thing to wrap up this week’s postings.

Curcuma.

This is the second year in a row that I have had them in our yard and man, I just love them. The colors vary and I think last year I had a creamy almost tan and brown one. This year I found this glorious fuchsia, almost purple one.

It’s a lovely tropical plant with gorgeous and dramatic blooms. I love them because they almost have a small iris growing out of their blooms. And interestingly enough, they are cousins to the ginger and turmeric plants although they are not safe to ingest.

I think I might try my hand at keeping the plant through winter because from what I read they will rebloom if they do not get too cold. Their season is about to come to an end so last week I spent some time photographing them. The little portrait session went so well that there is a post up on Just A Glimpse and I hope you take a moment and just bask in the beauty of one of God’s most interesting flowers.

And then go and have a wonderful weekend full of much joy and rest. See y’all next week!

IMG_0008

 

 

Christian Contentment

I have a friend that for ten years, had been the embodiment of all that a godly friend should be. She was not just the hands and feet of Christ to me, but the heart and mind of Christ. She was, and continues to be, Truth to me and for me.

A few years ago her husband’s job moved her away. When she told me they were moving to another state I immediately cried. For three days my heart just ached. I was sort of praying and sort of bemoaning her move when I realized I sounded like I was mourning her death. Like she was gone forever and never again would I be able to see her.

God granted some insight into that moment for me and showed me how foolish, indeed how ungrateful I was behaving. Was it a sad thing that my friend would not be here close by? Yes. But my goodness, I have face timed with another friend that was living in Japan! Susan would only be five hours away…we have phones, and we can text, email and even slap a stamp on an envelop and as old fashioned as it may be, mail letters to each other.

Is it sad that I do not see her everyday as we drop off and pick up our children from school or have the occasional breakfast together? Yes. But not only have I been given the gift of her friendship but I live in a time of great technology that will allow us to continue our friendship almost undisturbed.

The whole situation with my friend showed me how spoiled I am to some very simple and convenient aspects of my life.

It’s like complaining about what a pain doing laundry is when I am doing it in the comfort of my cooled or heated home and basically tossing clothes from one machine into another. I’m not outside washing them by hand and hanging them on the line to dry. And I have so much laundry because God has been abundant in His provision for my family. Of course I have a lot of laundry…He has granted me five children!

Later today I will do my grocery shopping. Normally I can begrudge the process of picking food up off the shelf, placing it into the buggy, going to a register, unloading all the groceries, picking up bags of groceries and putting them back into the buggy so I can go out to my car and unload them from the buggy just so that I can get home and unload them from the car and carry them into my house and take everything out of the bags and put it all away.

But to complain would seem to despise the gift of having not only plenty of food to eat but the ability to go to a store and get a buggy full of groceries so my family can eat in the first place.

It would show a heart that is ungrateful. It is the same with my laundry and my friend moving away and any number of ways I could so easily find to complain. It’s easy to find things to complain about.  I love this quote from Nancy Wilson’s book Learning Contentment,  “Discontent requires no learning, no teaching, and no practice because we are born wanting things, and we are born knowing how to grumble, murmur, and complain.”

It takes work and effort to fight against complaining and being ungrateful. But the more we practice being grateful the easier it becomes. And the really great thing about it? It’s hard for others to stay grumpy and whiny when faced with a person who genuinely practices contentment and being grateful. We are drawn to happy people and we enjoy being around them.

Going into a new week with these thoughts fresh in my mind I am reminded of the old hymn This Is My Father’s World.

This is my father’s world.

Why should my heart be sad?

The Lord is king, let the heavens ring.

God reigns, let the earth be glad.

The writer of that hymn, Presbyterian minister Maltbie Davenport Babcock, also wrote this gem of wisdom:

We are not here to play, to dream, to drift,

We have hard work to do, and loads to lift, 

Shun not the struggle; face it;

Tis God’s gift.

So whatever hard work you have to face this day or the next be encouraged to look for the good of God’s providence in it. Even in the muck and mire He is King.

6029313361_ab323f2efb_o (1)

On The Book Shelf

When I was around eleven years old I discovered the public library. It coincided with my family’s move in the middle of the school year to a new neighborhood where there were not a lot of kids on my street. I became a voracious reader. However, there wasn’t a lot of direction or guidelines and at that age I had zero discernment on what was good literature. Needless to say, I didn’t develop a love for the classics. One of the first books I ever checked out was called In Times Like These by Emilie Loring and thus began my journey into the world of romance novels. I wouldn’t call her work the sort of twinkie fiction you find on most shelves today, her stories are more along the lines of Grandma’s pound cake. The occasional slice is a treat but a steady diet will probably make you fat.(Through the years I have read all of her books and collected, gotten rid of, recollected, and lost almost all of her stories. Usually set anywhere from the 1920’s to the 1960’s her heroines were unfailingly cheerful in disposition, the girl always gets the guy, the bad guy always looses, some sort of mystery gets solved and to this day I find them to be endearing and would reread them. I am fascinated by her in general in that she didn’t write her first novel until she was fifty years old.)

Unfortunately, my book reading never really matured or grew. I read what was on the shelves at the store or I what I could easily get my hands on. I read for enjoyment, pure and simple. I wasn’t looking to learn or grow, just to be entertained in the way that most people enjoy movies. I became a fast reader and I always score high on vocabulary and comprehension tests so there’s that 🙂

Fast forward to life with a husband who was also voracious reader but a thinking one who read to be informed and enriched. He’d roll his eyes at ‘my stories’ but gave up trying to encourage me to broaden my reading horizons after meeting, much to my shame, resistance. We were in the early years of the child raising life phase and I read to relax and to a certain extent, escape the world of diapers. I didn’t want to work at reading. I didn’t want to engage my brain. I wanted respite.

Fast forward some more years and now those diaper clad children are in a classical christian school where reading good literature is encouraged and a regular part of life. They track how many minutes a month they read, they have a list of books full of things I have either never read or haven’t looked at since high school English Comp class, and they talk regularly about what they’re reading. The books are shaping and forming their thinking and, at times, entertaining them.

So I’m trying. I made a goal this year of reading a certain number of books. I’m expanding fiction to include more than the contemporary off the Walmart shelf repertoire (I do have a favored author coming out with a new book next month and I plan to read it) and I have discovered some fiction by old guys that I really enjoy. I’ve never been a huge Mark Twain fan but read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and it is in my top five all time favorite books ever.*

IMG_0299I just finished reading Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury and oh, my goodness, what a delightful and charming book! It was a nostalgic read. The kind that made you sigh when you finished it because you were so happy to have read it and sad that it was done.

 

I’m also trying to read more non fiction. The ladies in my church read The Gospel Comes With a House Key by Rosario Butterfield and it was challenging in all the right ways and sparked a lot of conversation.

IMG-7373 (1)

Right now I am reading Learning Contentment by Nancy Wilson and it is hitting closer to home more than I expected. One of the most startling things that came out of it was realizing that Jesus was not just obedient in going to the cross but that He was content in the Father’s will to do so. Not just take-a-deep-breath-gotta-do-what-He-says submissive but a satisfied contented determination to do His Father’s will. That kind of contentment seems next level, doesn’t it?

I want to read more biographies and I would like to learn how to read poetry. I still enjoy a good whodunit and other mysteries. Next on my list is Wind in The Willows which I long considered a children’s book that I missed out on but I’m learning that I need to go back and read some of those stories, fables, and fairy tales. They’re rich and deeper than one might expect. I feel a little old coming to these stories and basically in trying to learn how to read correctly (not just consuming and forgetting) but if Emilie Loring can wait until she is fifty before penning her first novel, and since I am surrounded by a community of readers all giving robust support to my endeavor, here I am.

So what are you reading these days? Anything you’d recommend?

*Technically I didn’t read A Connecticut Yankee, I listened to it being read by Nick Offerman and honestly I think that is why I enjoyed it so much. But the great debate surrounds the idea of what exactly do you call it when you listen to a book as opposed to reading a book? Some people believe you can say either one and others are adamantly against using the two words interchangeably. What say ye?

DPP ~ Day 14

Y’all, it has been one of those days.

Not a bad day but a day where you can’t find your phone absolutely anywhere and your phone line is down for some unknown reason so you facebook your beloved hoping that he will get the message to call you and he does and the phone you couldn’t locate and looked all over the house for is actually on the counter of the bathroom you have been cleaning right in front of you face even though it was under a bag but it was a clear bag kind of day.

The kind of day where you look high and low for your glasses and they are, again, right there in front of your face in their case kind of day.

The kind of day where you go to Walmart to use one of those quick print kiosk machines only it isn’t quick because there is a line so you wait and it’s finally your turn and because you are printing an 8×10 you have to go to the counter to pick it up only to be told they have no idea when it will actually be ready since they are backed up and you still spend forty dollars only to get home and realize that you forgot the shower curtain liner that you went there for in the first place kind of day.  

Yup, it’s been that kind of day. But we will be decorating our tree tonight and despite the brief thirty minute interlude spent looking for my phone I got quite a bit of cleaning done. So, like I said, not a bad day at all.

And maybe, just maybe, I can find some time to start this book. Some of you may need to sit down for this but I am not a huge Jane Austen fan. Shocking I know, considering the reformed Christian classical education circles I move it. But there you have it. I find her a bit wordy. (Oh, irony, thou art my friend.)

However, I have a dear friend who has persuaded (Ha, see what I did there?) to read this with her in the hopes of enlightening my poor misguided self. I’m really looking forward to it.

Especially after the day I had today.