A Reason to Hope and Other Random Thoughts

We were sitting at our kitchen table with some sweet friends we haven’t seen in literally years; just talking about the world and life and how crazy things seem. And Rob said something so profound I wish I had been able to record it so that I wouldn’t muck up repeating it. Basically the setup for his remark was this…the crazier the world seems, the more ridiculous and outlandish their agenda, the more illogical the realities they push are, the more reason we believers have to rejoice. We don’t need to feel overwhelmed by their anxiety inducing judgements, press conferences or theatrics. Do you know why?

Psalm 1

Particularly the very end ~ the way of the wicked will perish.

Not that the wicked will perish, although we know eventually they will be cast out into utter darkness, but that their way will perish. All of the shenanigans will be fruitless and they cannot be sustained. Ultimately it will collapse. If that alone is not enough reason to hope I don’t know what is. As someone I know is fond of saying, “Lord have mercy. Church have courage.”

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On Monday I handed my love his morning cup of coffee and apologized for practically coming completely undone the night before when some chopped tomatoes I was trying to clean up missed the bag and fell all over the floor. I was just so tired and it felt as if I had been in the kitchen either cooking or cleaning it, for days. Obviously the next morning after a good night’s sleep I could see how silly my reaction was but in the moment I felt utterly defeated by a fruit that disguises itself as veggie.

Later that morning I was reading something a friend had written about the times she is asked to thrive in what she considers not enough environments and it just resonated. Sometimes we may feel like we just can’t catch a break or the busy season seems to have sat down and made itself at home and things will never slow down. There aren’t enough hours in the day…we need some time alone…we need peace and quiet…we whatever it is we think we need to feel refreshed or restored.

The truth she shared is a truth we must all grapple with. Sometimes there is no relief in the dessert or immediate way out of a desolate place. But God still calls us to thrive, to turn to Him, to trust and keep on keeping on with whatever He has given our hand to do. She ended her post by saying, “…I can taste and see that the Good Life to which we are called, and that we are given, is not the same as “living our best life now.” The Good Life in and with Jesus always takes a cruciform shape. You before me, down before up, them before us. But it always leads to real and lasting life.”

I was so encouraged by that.

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We may still be noodling on a name for the farm but we are busy working already! Seeds have been ordered and delivered and we have started building the two flower beds we will begin with. One is completely finished as of today and the lumber is ready for the second.

Rob is doing the majority of the heavy lifting as far as planning out and cutting the landscape timbers for the beds but we are all working to do our share in assembling them. Sam and Claire are part of the work crew and doing a fine job.

These pictures can give you an idea of the scale of our beds. They look huge but I can’t wait to fill them up with flowers! One will have three varieties of sunflowers and the other will have an assortment of cut flower favorites like zinnias, cosmos, and strawflowers, etc. We are planting a little later than is the norm but our growing zone has a fairly long growing season and according to my research and frostdate.com we are still within an acceptable planting time frame.

I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m a little nervous about our endeavor. I have a nightmare where for some reason nothing I plant actually grows and all of the work and money and effort is for naught. But Rob reminds of the wisdom of our friend Ron who says the seed goes into the ground, you give it some water and light and it is going to grow. It’s how God designed it to work so trust that it will.

I also came across a few quotes this week that speak well to our situation:
In creating, the only hard thing is to begin; a grass-blade is no easier than an oak. –James Russell Lowell

“The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain common work as it comes certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things of life.” Robert Louis Stevenson

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I took a drone shot the other day after we started laying out for the first bed. The picture is cool but kinda unreal looking in a sort of funky way.

I plan to chronicle our efforts as we go along and invite you to follow along and join us as we exercise some dominion over our little green square here in Louisiana! I’m thinking as we add in animals it’s going to be a mashup of Green Acres and The Beverly Hillbillies in reverse 😉

Friday Favorites ~ My Week

It started on Sunday, really. I felt a bit spoiled. A dear friend at church blessed me with my second Willow Tree figurine.

Isn’t she lovely? I now have two pieces so I can officially say I have a collection.

Right after that lovely gift another sweet woman in our church gifted me with one of her beautiful hand made necklaces. She gets her glass mostly from Italy I believe and uses a blowtorch to shape and create her beads. I now have my very own bluebird of happiness. If you want to see more of Ms Helen’s delicate work you can visit her etsy shop. Such beautiful craftsmanship!

And then one of the sweet kids gave me a lovely coloring page. I told you I felt spoiled with all that love being shown to me!

This week I finally got my fat quarters unwrapped and washed. (Remember them? I shared them in a post at the end of February.) I’m not going to lie, looking at that pile of fabric makes me a little nervous but I figure since this is a just because quilt I can take my time and do it little steps at a time. The plan at the moment is to get them ironed and then cut into smaller squares. I will keep you posted on my progress with this particular favorite thing.

One favorite thing I did this week was spend some time with my camera and these really really cool flowers I got at the grocery store. I don’t know what kind they are but how cool are they?

Emily and Hays got back from their honeymoon on Monday. I already got a text asking for a recipe and that made this mama’s heart glad. It also makes me glad that they will come visit us next weekend. And my heart gets downright joyous thinking about Easter when they will come again and so will Sarah and Devon. All my people will be home!

Hays shared some of the pictures he took on their honeymoon and I am going to wrap us this week’s Friday favorites post with a couple that I really loved. Glacier National Park sure is a beautiful place, isn’t it?

How cute is Em in this picture?

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Come On Over

Sometimes I visit this space with a plethora of words and ideas that tumble over themselves as they escape my brain. Sometimes I sit down here to work through a knotty problem out loud. I talk to myself in real life too but there is something about being able to see my words and rearrange them, moving them to their proper place and finding the right order for my thoughts that satisfies.

Sometimes people read what I’ve written and agree or enjoy them and a conversation blooms. Other times a post I am particularly happy with does not get much traction. But the same thing happens with pictures so I don’t sweat it much. I realize I am not writing anything new or taking pictures of things that no one else has ever seen or taken a picture of before. There is a lack of pressure in that knowledge which allows me to slip in here as if we’re grabbing a cup of coffee and just visiting. Or maybe a better description in sitting down with a cup of coffee to read a letter from a friend.

The weather here this morning is pretty blah with a significant storm system moving through later. We took down my hanging plants and moved all my recently potted flowers onto the porch last night in preparation.

Did I tell you about my first experience with planting flowers here in my new lovely home state of Louisiana? About a month ago Rob and I took advantage of a local hardware store’s no tax weekend and bought lots of plants for me to put in the ground. Since my success with flowers and such last year I have been chomping at the bit for spring to arrive. Well, let me tell you…the ground here is nothing like the ground in Florida!

I dug and dug for about twenty minutes and barely scratched out three inches of earth. The ground is so hard here, especially it seems in the area of Carlyss where we live. I decided it would be messy to use the hose but I have rain boots so I could soften the ground with water and dig my holes.

😳

The ground is a dark hard clay that doesn’t absorb water the way the sandy soil in my old yard did. I ended up with a nice ol’ mud puddle for my trouble. Hence I now have about sixteen potted plants and Rob is going to have to get cracking on building me some raised beds.

The people we bought our home from are finally moving to Nashville and slowly but surely getting their stuff out of our pasture. Which means I am spending a lot of time day dreaming about the garden space Rob is letting me design and we are trying to figure out where to put the vegetable garden and a chicken house.

So many projects and plans! My beloved has to keep me reigned in because I can go shooting off in a dozen different directions at a time. My mind hops from flowers to looking at chicken coop plans to knocking down walls to reconfigure the apartment space for Sam now that Emily lives in Monroe. (That was a weird minute for me. Realizing that when she got back from her honeymoon she would not be coming here again. She doesn’t live with us anymore. I mean I was at the wedding. I knew this already. But it just sort of hit me.)

It’s been great having a space for friends to use when they’ve come to visit. I enjoy getting it ready and stocking the little mini fridge and having a tray of snacks ready.

We haven’t started renovating the space yet though so you can come for a visit if you like. We can sit down and have a cup of coffee and conversation in real life.

Of course my Louisiana people are welcome to stop by for a visit anytime. The door is open and the coffee is ready! Y’all can teach me how to grow things around here 😊

Friday Favorites ~ Emily & Hays

15 days to go!

We are so excited for Em and Hays’ big day but it seems a bit surreal to be staring down the barrel of barely two weeks until the wedding. I have people asking me frequently how I am handling everything and if it’s all crazy stressful. Honestly, that stressed me out more because I wasn’t and it made me wonder if I was supposed to only I wasn’t because I wasn’t doing something I was supposed to be doing.

I’m sure the next two weeks will get a bit chaotic as we finish up some last minute little things but it has been a fairly easy process. Partly due to Emily not being anything other than a laid back low maintenance bride and partly because of our wonderful friend who is the creative talent behind Soiree by AJ who is our wedding planner and coordinator. I just know that everything is going to be beautiful.

Sweet Em is a bit exhausted from all of the running back and forth and she is completely over wedding planning. We laughed because when they got engaged we thought 6 months was so quick but goodness, people who take longer are either completely crazy or something. Enough already, let’s have a wedding instead of just endless conversations and decisions!

We were originally going to do Emily’s bridal portraits this weekend while I am in Monroe for a bridal shower given by Hays’ church but the weather has not cooperated and there was a snafu with her bridal veil not arriving. But talking about it did remind me that I shared very few of the engagement pictures I did for them back in November. So today’s Friday favorites are a few of my faves from that day. In no particular order…

I love getting shots like this when a couple is really laughing. Add to it being black and white and I am in love with the final result.

If I had had any doubt about the beauty of the state of Louisiana it was put to rest the afternoon we did their pictures. The bayous are simply gorgeous and Hays & his mama knew exactly where the best spots were for pictures. Especially that time of year with the gorgeous colors.

My girl seems to have a wee bit of sass going…

And thank you to whomever lives on the other side of the bayou and thought it was a good idea to put those little lights along your decking. It was and I love this picture the most I think.

We are so excited for Emily and Hays and we are looking forward to celebrating God’s kindness in leading them to each other with the ones we love. See y’all in a couple of weeks!

Think On These Things

Blessings for Obedience

And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.

And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God.

Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.

Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock.

Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.

The LORD will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

The LORD will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in his ways.

And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you.

And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.

The LORD will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.

And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them. 

~Deuteronomy 28:1–14

Happy birthday to the one whom my soul loves. May the Lord continue to bless you with obedience and faithfulness.

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A Sam Funny

Sam is a planner. He likes to get a plan in place and then not deviate from it at all. (Routine is a big deal to people on the spectrum.) We keep that in mind but we also push him a little on that front because he doesn’t live in a bubble. He lives in a community with other people whose thoughts and preferences have to be considered as well. Last night was one such instance.

I had an engagement shoot and all the kids were home. Sam and I had talked earlier in the day about watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, his latest obsessions favorite past time. I had told him it would be fine but what I didn’t realize was that a movie marathon of some sort was starting at the same time and the girls wanted to watch it.

During a phone conversation I reminded him that we were working on being considerate of other people and no that just because he let his sisters watch something instead of the game shows did not make him a lifetime loser. (Please note that whenever he mention the phrase lifetime loser he does indeed hold his fingers into the shape of an “L” on his forehead.) I tried to talk him through understanding that his shows could be watched another time and they came on every day but the movies didn’t. He was pretty convinced I had been brainwashed by his sisters.

“But, Mooooom! We were agreed on this. You are spoiling them!”

Without missing a beat,

“Wait, is this some kind of feminist march?”

I think he is feeling slightly out numbered with his father out of town.

Poor kid.

A Few Things I Would Like To See in 2017

Every year at the beginning of that year my beloved bemoans the fact that he still doesn’t have the jet pack society was basically promised in his childhood.

Me? Not too concerned.

But you know what would be neat?

An ink pen that would let you set a radius of usage and gave off a little jolt of electricity to anyone trying to leave the usage area with your pen. Like a shock collar only made for writing instruments.

You know what else would be seriously neat? And incredibly helpful?

A peanut butter container made in a box shape so that when you get down to the very last bit of peanut butter your hand doesn’t get smeared with the creamy goodness as you try to scrape the jar clean.

Oooh, you know what else would be pretty neat?

A bumbrella. A clip of some sort that connects your umbrella to your car that allows both hands to be free as you load children or groceries into your vehicle so that your bum doesn’t get soaking wet in the process.

Hey, you know what I just thought of? Hair brushes! I have three sisters and when we were kids we were always loosing the hairbrush. So one day my poor long suffering father drilled a small hole into the end of the brush and attached a really long stretchy rubber band that he then hooked to the ceiling. Our hair brush was effectively on a leash.

My girls are constantly losing their hairbrushes. We’ve tried everything short of my Dad’s trick. But maybe if the little shock collar-esque thing worked on a pen it could work on a hair brush too, no?

DPP ~ Day 12

Last week we had freezing temperatures. Saturday we lit a fire and we snuggled up in sweaters, boots, and scarves. It was glorious. I am a beach baby at heart by winter is my favorite season. 

Today we woke to a dense heavy fog and gray skies. It took much of the morning to burn off and when it did we had some crystal clear blue skies.
And almost 80 degree weather. 
I was so disappointed. And hot. I have grown up in FL and I realize winter here is different than say, winter in Minnesota but I still dislike being hot in December. 
The fog did make for a good moody photo opportunity though.

Catching Up

Well, it has certainly been a while, hasn’t it? Blogging always seems to slack off during the summer when the kids are home though so I guess I am not really surprised.

We’ve had a lovely summer and probably one of the most low key breaks we’ve ever had. It has been filled with just the right amount of fun and busyness without feeling like it has been a desperate headlong flight from June to August with everything in  between a breathless blur.

We took time to indulge in the guilty pleasure of watching America’s Got Talent and American Ninja Warrior. The kids started watching it and I found that I was stopping what I was doing to just catch a glimpse and then before I knew it I was just sitting down to watch it with them. One day it led to a few hours of us youtubing 80’s music and it was just so much fun.

Although we only made it out to the lake once we made plenty of trips to the beach. There was much paddle board fun and good times with friends. We even went to a baseball game.

The kids and I made a trip to Oklahoma and got to spend some wonderful time with my little sister and her family. The kids hardly ever get to spend time with their Okie cousin and there were trips to their lake, paddle boating and card games and lots of good food.  While we were gone my beloved took down the wretched wall paper in our kitchen and I cannot tell you how happy I am about that! He also repainted much of the inside of the house a brighter, more creamier color than the tan we had before. (This was a major feat for us. We have a difficult time, my beloved and I, when it comes to things like paint color and decorating in general. But I guess after almost eighteen years of living together we’ve figured out how to mesh our likes.) I hope to share some pictures soon but we are currently still in the process of hanging stuff back up.

The kids have orientation on Friday…a wonderful half day to ease us back into early mornings. Hopefully that means that I will be able to set aside some time on a regular basis again to be here more often. I’ve got some delicious recipes to share and who knows what else.

I’m looking forward to it.

Sam’s White Board Drawing

The oldest is about to turn twenty-one and the youngest is forever reminding me that she will soon be my last child to hit double digits for the first time. (We don’t do huge birthday celebrations every year but going double digits is a milestone we usually mark with some extra hoopla. Is anyone surprised that Claire is working her status as the baby and the “last one” to get a little extra something something for her celebration in November?)

What I am really coming to terms with is that my babies are babies no more. This year in particular seems to have been a tipping point when that reality is just so sharp. Because of the eleven years that stretch between the first and the last it’s not like we’re on the home stretch of parenting obviously. But we do seem to have moved into the late summer and early autumn season of child rearing. There’s weeding and pruning still to do as there always will be but it’s different than before when they were little.

It’s an interesting season of life. Having them home for the summer is putting their various stages of maturity into relief and it’s so easy to see how they’ve grown and matured. Oh, they still have moments where they are the best of friends or the worst of enemies but it’s just different somehow. They are growing up. They have grown up.

And oddly enough I feel like I have too. I was talking with a friend recently and we were sharing how humbling it is to be a parent of older children. When they’re little you have it all figured out…you’re the grown up and they are learning from you. At some point though they should be entering the battle with you, along side of you, fighting the same fight that you are as brothers and sisters in Christ. They begin more and more to join you in the labor rather than being so much a part of the labor.

Honestly, I didn’t mean to get all philosophical and meandering. I really just wanted to share one of Sam’s drawings with you and it just got me to thinking how much they’ve changed and that’s how we ended up on the stroll down that rabbit trail.

Anyway, this tickled me and I thought y’all might enjoy it as well.

The boy has insight, wouldn’t you say?