it's the most.wonderful.time of the year!!

>> Thursday, July 31, 2008

Well, last weekend was, anyway.

Ahh, the rodeo ~ more excitement than Christmas around here, I tell ya! Aren't we lucky to live in an area where we have something this huge to look forward to halfway between Christmases?! Can I get a YEE-HAW to that?!

We've lived here for six and a half years and this is the first year we've been able to really take it all in. Up until now, we've basically just done the parade. This was the first year where we were at home and the girls are old enough for many of the rides and we don't need to worry about diaper changes and nap times. Or even getting them home in time for bedtime.

Bedtime, shmedtime.... IT'S RODEO TIME!!!!






And forget proper nutrition!! Cotton candy, anyone?


There are SO many stories to tell and so many pictures that I'd like to give an explanation for, but I don't think you want to sit and read through all that!!

I took 197 pictures between the parade on Friday morning and the 12 hours we spent at the rodeo grounds on Saturday and have managed to narrow them all down to a slideshow of 50 pictures. (approx. two and a half minutes) Click HERE if you're interested in watching that.

Or HERE to see what a horse sittin' on a cowboy looks like. You read right. Although actually the horse was more lying than sitting. Details, details.

But whatever you do, be sure to click below for more...

PhotoStory Friday

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the rodeo slideshow (because I know there are those dying to live vicariously through me...)

Oh, my goodness, there are SO many stories I could tell and numerous explanations for pictures, but then this post would be a mile long.

Suffice it to say, we had an absolutely awesome time and even though pretty much all I did was wander around the fair grounds while the girls went on ride after ride after ride (for TWELVE HOURS!!!!), I can hardly wait until next year! It was just so much fun!

Here are 50 of the 197 pictures I took at the parade last Friday and the time we spent at the rodeo grandstand and fair grounds on Saturday. It'll take you about 2-1/2 minutes to watch.


Enjoy!




Mechanical Bull

And no, it's not your imagination. Both Peanut and I were hiding our desperate need for new haircuts with headbands!!

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** Live Well Wednesday is here again! **

>> Tuesday, July 29, 2008

CWO's Live Well WednesdaysSo? Didja do it? Are y'all a little different this week? What did you decide to change? How did you do it?

I'll admit it, I kinda failed this week. I'd planned to be able to report that I'd started meticulously counting points again this week (July's been rather, um, relaxed in that department) and that I'd been rewarded with a loss of a couple of pounds, but I can't. The rodeo happened all day Saturday and then The Bushman made an awesome brunch on Sunday, and then we were invited to a barbecue with friends.... well, I'm sure you've heard all these excuses before! Maybe you've even used them on occasion.

As tough as it is to admit it, what it really boils down to is my own lack of self-discipline.

Last September, my bloggy friend Jules wrote (on the now-defunct "Bringing Healthy Back" blog):

"Most people think this is the secret to weight loss:

Less food + more exercise = weight loss

Sounds pretty rational, doesn’t it? And, for the most part, I agree that this will get you that weight loss you’ve been desiring.

But, after nearly three decades of “dieting,” I think I’ve discovered that the secret to permanent weight loss is really this:


More self-discipline + less excuses = weight loss

Self-discipline. Willpower. Self-control. Overweight people love to say they “don’t have any of this” and that is why they consistently fail - and they are probably right. If you look back at the formula I put at the beginning of this post, you’ll see that I think self-discipline is a big key to losing the weight and NOT putting it back on again.

So…if we don’t have any, the question then becomes: How do we get it?


And the answer is: We grow it.


Set one goal per day and follow through on it. It doesn’t even have to be weight-loss related. Decide you’re going to sweep the kitchen floor or take down the Christmas lights (don’t get me started!) or fold the clothes in the laundry basket. Something. Pick something each day and commit to doing it for the entire week. It could be one thing you do every day or it could be a different goal you set each day but make it and follow through with it."

And I would go one step further and say, just commit to doing it that day. Don't think about the weeks, months, and years ahead. Just promise to do that one thing today.

Tomorrow morning, make that promise again. Remind yourself that you did it yesterday, it was no big deal, and that you felt great afterwards.

Do the same thing the day after tomorrow and the next day and the next... you get the idea. Before you know it, it'll be automatic and then you can add another goal to your daily routine.

For someone like myself, who very quickly loses enthusiasm when it becomes apparent how much work will be involved, this kind of short-term goal setting is crucial to success.

I don't want to think about how I might still be counting points a year from now ~ that's just discouraging. But just for today? I can so totally do that!

How about you?

Scrawny 2

** Next week, Darlene will be back and we'll all be over at the official Live Well Wednesdays page again. Thank you all for participating and your kind comments while I guest-hosted!

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Mary Spirit Monday: week 3 "Spirit Check"

>> Monday, July 28, 2008

MSM Week 3 @ Truly Captivating4. What does the Bible say about the following kinds of wrong spirits?
Competitive (Ecc. 2:22) ~ Is foolish and meaningless and all it'll do is add more work and stress.
Controlling (1 Peter 4:15) ~ Is on the same "level of wrong-ness" as murdering, stealing, and all other criminal activity and Christians should avoid making this a reason to be persecuted. Hmmm, this puts a new perspective on some disagreements within the church, doesn't it?
Critical (Isa. 58:9) ~ Seriously detracts from our effectiveness as witnesses.
Contentious (2 Tim. 2:23) ~ Only produces quarrels, which again, detract form our effectiveness as witnesses.
Discontented (Philip. 4:12) ~ is to not have peace or reliance on God.

6. Read Psalm 139:23-24. Rewrite these verses in your own words and then pray them to the Lord. Look deep into my heart, God. Don't just move me from mountain top to mountain top; rather guide me through the valleys, too, so that I learn to rely on you to calm my fears and remove my worries. To strengthen my faith in you. God, show me where I've messed up, where I've failed you, and help me to right the wrongs. Give me the courage to face those I've offended and to apologize. Please heal those relationships. Help me want to really and truly thirst after you, to honestly and fully place my life in your hands. Amen.

8. What spoke most to you in this chapter? I LOVE the story about the author's encounter with the "sweet, southern belle" after a speaking engagement, who knew God loves everyone but still always felt this awesome specialness that made her feel like His very favourite. And then the author's response, the triggered memories of how special her grandmother had made her and her siblings feel. That feeling of being the one and only one who was extra-special.

Being an only child, I kind of know how this feels, but at the same time, how much more incredible would that feeling be, knowing you're NOT actually the only one to choose from!

This is the kind of feeling I want my children to know. Actually anyone close to me. To secretly feel like they must be my favourite. I know I've got a LOT of work to do before that will happen. It isn't enough to tell my Peanut that she's my favourite big girl and my Fidget that she's my favourite little girl. I have to SHOW it.

Like God shows me. Every time I go for a walk, specifically in the early morning when there's no traffic at all yet, and the early birds are twittering, the air is still fresh and light, and the dew on the grasses in the ditch gives my shadow a brilliant halo as I walk by or there's just enough fog to make the sunlight look like fairy dust through the trees... I find myself revelling in the feeling that this was made JUST FOR ME. That God made this day specifically with me in mind.

Sadly, that feeling quickly fades away when I walk back into the house and I see the mess my two favourite girls have made in the living room or that my favourite husband has left his dirty work clothes in the hallway and his empty Coke can on the end table.

I need to find a way to cling to that feeling and rest in it, despite my everyday life. To not just feel special when I'm enjoying my day MY WAY, but to feel special in the tediousness of homemaking as well. I mentioned in the first question of Week 1's study that I want homemaking and mothering to feel like I'm giving a gift of love and I think that will follow if I pursue this shift in my feeling about God's presence in my life.

Can you even imagine how much more effective I'd be as a wife, a mother, and a Believer?!








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and you thought you were having a bad day...

>> Sunday, July 27, 2008


One 1000-lb horse with its woo-hoos cinched uncomfortably tight
+ one clanging gate grating the horse's nerves even more
+ one hoof caught in the fence rails
______________________________

= ONE SQUARSHED COWBOY!!

Yee-haw! Are we havin' fun yet?!
Cowboy


Oh relax, no horses were harmed in the shooting of this photograph.

And the cowboy was okay, too.

He was definitely slower getting up than the horse, but he had a re-ride a bit later.

The horse, sensibly, chose to rather relax for the remainder of the weekend and recuperate from its ordeal. There's always another rodeo in another town. Another chance to give some death-wishin' cowboy the ride of his life.

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photostory friday: o rodeo, rodeo, wherefore art thou, rodeo?

>> Friday, July 25, 2008

The trucks rolled into town sometime during the night on Monday...





And this morning I will be off to watch the parade for which the whole Valley shuts down. Being open for business on Parade Friday is borderline sacrilege. This is the weekend every year we all look forward to and anticipate with baited breath; where RV's, horses, and roadies descend upon our otherwise sleepy community and our Town becomes a sea of cowboy hats and road apples...

YEE-HAW!!!


Have a great weekend, y'all! I know I will!!

Mechanical Bull

(Click below for more...

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek)

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** Welcome "Live Well Wednesdays!!" **

>> Tuesday, July 22, 2008

CWO's Live Well WednesdaysLooking Back to Move Forward

Philippians 3:13b-14a ~ But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal..."

How many times have you seen this verse while struggling to change something in your life? Isn't it an awesome and encouraging verse? Up until now, I've kind of always thought Paul was telling us to completely forget the past, but I've kinda changed my mind. Today I want to look at "what is behind" and why we shouldn't necessarily forget all of it.

Recently, I read through some of my past Living Well posts as well as ones written while participating in Tales from the Scales (still online, but no longer operational), and saw something that I knew was there, but had chosen to ignore ~ the broken promises. Do you have those, too? Do you even remember making them? (PLEASE tell me I'm not the only who promises to change and then promptly forgets about it!)

Do you ever look back at your New Years resolutions or the plans for change you've publicly outlined here in the blogosphere? How many of you, like me, read through them (when you stumble on them after several months!), laugh at how unrealistic they were, and then promptly throw them out and/or dismiss them? Does reviewing them make you feel frustrated, discouraged, and embarrassed?

I just finished reading through the book of Deuteronomy and I thought it interesting that at the end of Moses' life, God taught him a song that he was to teach the Israelites, who were, in turn, to teach to all future generations.

And the song? Basically a summary of past failures, a prediction of future failures, and the resulting punishments. Fun stuff.

But God's song wasn't designed to make the Israelites feel good. It was to serve as a reminder of where they'd been, where they'd come from, in whom they were to place their hope and their trust ~ and the grace, mercy, and all-mighty power of their Heavenly Father. It was a warning of the consequences of heading in the wrong direction. God wanted them to look back and remember so they could learn from their mistakes and move forward, having corrected their course.

Past mistakes, broken promises ~ and even complete failures ~ don't need to be a discouragement. They can remind you instead of the person you once were. Looking back, I learn exactly where I failed. And quite often, I learn the why as well. And I can choose to let this discourage me, or I can choose to use this knowledge and understanding of my behaviours to fuel my resolve to change once again.

I challenge you to look back at your New Years resolutions, old blog posts, and old diary entries. Study them and determine where you went wrong. Then write out a new resolution. Don't promise to make huge changes or even necessarily give yourself a timetable. Simply resolve to be different and take one small step at a time toward your goal.

And most importantly, remind yourself of what you've written!! Put it on your fridge, on the wall beside your computer, or make it into a bookmark that you'll see every time you open your favourite book. Tell a friend and ask her to check up on you every now and again. Or join us for the second half of the year in the "8 in 2008" blog carnival hosted by Elisa @ Extravagant Grace.

That way, you'll keep the promises fresh in your mind where you can actually do something about them. And the next time you look back to what you've written in the past, you'll know you learned something; that you SUCCEEDED IN CHANGING. It doesn't matter as much that you've reached the goal yet as that you've started to change. And THAT will put a smile on your face and a new spring in your step.

At the beginning of this post, I quoted Paul's words to the Philippians, but I like to put a little twist on them. I don't think he meant we should completely forget the past, but rather...

"Forgetting the mistakes I've made and the times I've failed, and remembering the promises I've made and the lessons I've learned, no matter how many times I have to re-start,
I press on toward the goal!!"

What about you? Will you look back today and decide you're a failure or will you decide to learn from your mistakes and move forward? I DARE YOU to change this week!


You Go Girl

(And remember, we're meeting here again next week, too!!)


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Mary Spirit Monday: week 2 "Twisted Sisters"

>> Monday, July 21, 2008

MSM Week 2 @ Truly CaptivatingOkay, this time I'm playing by the rules and just going with the questions that meant most to me instead of going through all of them!!

6. How does "Conviction versus Condemnation" work in your life? Which side do you want to live on and why? I think the answer for all of us should be, "we want to live on the side of conviction" but like so many things, the line between conviction and condemnation is a very fine line. So easy for the devil to blur our vision and help us cross it without realizing it. I like the warning Ms. Weaver gives at the end of that little section:

What starts as conviction by the Holy Spirit can quickly turn to condemnation from the enemy if we don't respond immediately with repentance. (emphasis mine)

I guess the key is learning to recognize the difference and learning to humbly accept and admit that we've been wrong. (Piece o'cake, right? HA.)

I can't say I've really paid much attention to how these work in my life, but judging from my personality and how I know I've handled some things in the past, I'd have to say I've been living on the condemnation side for quite some time now. Admitting I've been wrong is just something I don't do! But obviously, this keeps me from confessing my short-comings to God (and to those I may have wronged) so that He can wipe the slate clean, and so that I can return to my life rebuked, but refocused and refreshed... and most importantly, FORGIVEN.

7. Aren't you glad God looks at us through the blood of Christ? At the risk of sounding incredibly out of character....

Amen and Hallelujah, YES!!!

Read Romans 4:7-8, Romans 8:1-3, and 1 John 3:1-2 and meditate on the passage that speaks most to you, prayerfully thanking Jesus for what He has provided.

8. What spoke most to you in this chapter? This chapter didn't move me the way the first two did, but the difference between conviction and condemnation is something I've certainly never given a whole lot of thought. I reread the chapter, thinking maybe I'd missed something, and while I didn't miss this section the first time, it stuck with me more after reading it again:

"...I've come to realize that Satan is not nearly as disappointed at losing me from his kingdom as he is determined to keep me from being effective in God's kingdom. If Satan can't make me fall away from God's grace, he will do everything he can to keep me from fully embracing God's grace. Satan wants me - and he wants you! - to be so constantly preoccupied with what we're NOT that we never get around to realizing all that God is."

This perfectly describes why we know what we should be doing, how we should be living, but we just aren't. And is exactly the reason we have to keep on pressing on towards the goal, striving for godliness ~ why it's not automatic once we become Christians.



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photostory friday: because you're all dying to know...

>> Friday, July 18, 2008

...what I did with my kid- and hubby-free days last weekend, here's the recap:

*note: if you expect to hear tales of fabulous deals on new clothing and accessories or mani-pedi's, I beg you: don't read any further! You will be sorely disappointed.

Because I cleaned,
I sorted,
I organized,
I packed away,
I threw away,
I labelled,
I put away....

TOYS, TOYS, AND MORE TOYS!!

That's it. That's seriously what I did pretty much all day Thursday and Friday! DANG, our kids have a lot of stuff!! Man, you would not believe the blood, sweat and tears involved. Okay, there weren't any tears and only a little blood, but sweat? Oh.my.goodness. But it's done. Finally.



Once The Bushman was home, it was just a blur of movies and meals I didn't have to cook before we returned to The Big City in the semi on Sunday afternoon to retrieve our kids.

Monday was spent enjoying civilization running to Wal-M*rt and then the 6-hr return trip home. I wish I could say, "the 6-hr return trip home to a freshly cleaned and immaculate home," but at least the girls' room and the toyroom fit the bill!

And I had the best five days I've had in a long time in the process.



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PhotoStory Friday

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your prayers have been answered!

>> Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The other day when I was bored and didn't feel like accomplishing anything, I was reading through some of my old posts and realized I'd never shared an answer to prayer.

At the end of March, I requested prayer for my husband, The Bushman. He'd just come home from his job on the ice roads way up north, but he didn't have a job lined up for the rest of the year. The strength of the Canadian dollar and the weakness of the American housing market had caused closures and lay-offs all over The Valley and it was just the wrong time for him to also need a job.

But God provides.

He was hired by a local farmer just in time for seeding and was assured there would be work until the winter. He hauled fertilizer to the fields and ran errands between trips, often working 14, 15, even 16-hr days. Seeding, of course, is only a short period of time though, and he looked forward to being able to haul grain once seeding was over. A couple of trips a day from the farm to the local grain elevator is only a few hours of work. Perfect for summer.

But then something changed and it became cheaper for the farmer to have the grain picked up than to pay a driver to haul it, and with harvest still 3 months away, we wondered again how we'd make ends meet.

But God provides.

Out of the blue, a few weeks ago, a complete stranger phoned The Bushman and asked if he'd be willing to drive truck just for the summer. The owner of the truck is a chuck wagon racer and wanted to be able to devote his time to the rodeo circuit. He said it was fairly laid-back, usually no more than 2 or 3 days on the road a week. The Bushman said he'd have to quit by the middle of August so he'd be available for harvest and the trucker said he was fine with that.

So The Bushman's on the road again, but this week is the first one where he'll be gone more than three days. For the most part, it's been a very relaxed pace as far as trucking is concerned. Heck, he's still been able to keep up with the lawn mowing and to lovingly tend his garden ~ which looks absolutely incredible, I might add. It's never been this weed-free and prosperous looking!

Anyway, all this to say thank you to those of you who prayed for us in early spring. Your prayers were heard and answered. Once harvest is over, we may be without an income again, but one thing is certain ~ and looking back on this year will remind us....

God provides.

Flower

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Mary Spirit Monday: week 1 "Change me, Lord"

>> Monday, July 14, 2008

MSM Week 1 @ Truly Captivating1. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Oh my goodness. Just ONE thing? I think right now it would have to be my attitude towards mothering and homemaking. So many times it all just feels like WORK and I would like it to feel like a gift of love.

2. How do you tend to view God? This depends so much on my mood, my current life circumstances, and how my prayer and devotional life is going. Today, after reading the second chapter of the book and spending a good 15 minutes in deep conversation with God, He feels very much like my closest friend or a parent. There to listen to my every complaint and petition, to fix my mistakes and heal my wounds with a gentle kiss. And then there are days and weeks when He feels just like an optimistic idea. Way up in the clouds, watching the chaos down here, but not really involving Himself at all.

3. To which of the types of Pharisees do you most relate and why? Like the author, I think there are times when I've been able to identify with all of them, but most predominantly, I'd have to say I'm like the "Wait-a-Little Pharisee" ~ always able to give an excuse for putting off doing a good deed and often talking the talk, but not WALKING THE WALK.

4. What realities do the following scriptures say humans tend to whitewash, and what is the actual truth?
Matthew 23:25 ~
We tend to allow our outward appearances become more important than our spiritual lives. We all SAY, "it's what's on the inside that counts," but so many of us don't actually live that way ourselves. We're much more concerned with putting on a good, convincing show. And quickly judging others when their outward appearances aren't what we think they should be.
1 John 1:8 ~ We're fooling no one and only lying to ourselves if we think we've fulfilled God's plans for us and reached perfection.
Revelation 3:17 ~ Outward appearances, social status, and wealth are NOT an indication of how well we've served God. Despite all that we possess and have achieved during our physical lives, none of it equals righteousness. We simply cannot attain forgiveness, grace, mercy ~ and ultimately, salvation ~ through our own efforts.

5. What does James 2:10 say about our inability to achieve self-induced holiness? It's impossible. Sinning in the teeniest, tiniest way ~ even if it's an internal failure that no one else will ever notice or be affected by ~ is still sin. There are no "degrees" of sin with God. All of it requires confession and repentance, neither of which can be earned.

6. How would your life be different if, after confessing your sin to God, you gave yourself "no further uneasiness about it"? Does it really work that way? Sometimes yes, and then the feeling of a burden being lifted, of sweet relief, is quite tangible. But what about the areas of our lives that require participation on our part, a conscientious effort to change? Areas where we know we're bound to stumble again and again? I know God forgives me for these when I ask Him to, but if I don't remind myself of past failures periodically, how can I avoid making the same mistakes in the future?

I guess maybe there's a difference between uneasiness (which could possibly be translated worry) and reminding. One observes and seeks to learn from the past and one anticipates failure in the future. Which is a pretty huge difference! Man, if I could live without ever worrying I'd screw up, just resting in the knowledge that God would forgive me yet again, help me make it right, and still be an effective example of Christ.... yeah, I don't think I can imagine how that would feel!!

Now wouldja look at that. I've just come full circle here in this week's study. Because after re-reading the previous two paragraphs, the thought that immediately popped into my head was this:

I'd be a whole heck of a lot less concerned about my "outward appearance."

Huh, this Joanna Weaver is a clever woman.

7. Read Philippians 3:12-14; what are the key words? What is really being said? Our past mistakes do affect who we are, but they DO NOT DEFINE US and don't have to affect our futures in a negative way. Great progress can still be made, despite our lack of perfection, if we keep humbly allowing God to teach us and shape us through our failures.

8. What spoke most to you in these chapters? I think the part that stands out most was this Oswald Chambers quote:

As long as our eyes are upon our own "personal whiteness," we shall never get near the reality of redemption. The continual grubbing on the inside to see whether we are what we ought to be generates a self-centered, morbid type of Christianity, not the ROBUST, SIMPLE LIFE OF A CHILD OF GOD. (emphasis mine)

The image that this quote brought to mind is my two girls playing outside. Peanut is cautious and hates bugs and is sometimes more concerned about protecting herself from the creepy-crawlies than she is about having a good time. Her face is down, vigilant, always on the look-out for mosquitoes, ants, flies, spiders, and the dreaded woodticks.

Fidget doesn't really like bugs either, but is virtually oblivious to them while playing. (Until her big sister points them out, that is!) While Peanut is on bug watch, Fidget has her face in the sun, her arms outstretched to embrace the day ~ whole-heartedly throwing herself into enjoying her play.

I want to live like that.



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exciting new developments!

>> Friday, July 11, 2008

Now my parents will get a couple of days with my kids AS WELL.

As in, IN ADDITION to the two days they're already spending with The Bushman's parents.

Didja catch that?

A COUPLE OF EXTRA DAYS!!!!!!!


The Bushman just phoned to say he was going to be SUPER late coming home tonight, but that he has to be back in The Big City Sunday night to off-load and re-load on Monday.

So he was wondering if I'd like a couple more kid-free days, to have him all to myself at home for those days, and then to come back to The Big City with him Sunday afternoon.


Like he had to ask!


Floor

Is it wrong for me to be this giddy about it?

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photostory friday: the compromise

>> Thursday, July 10, 2008

Well, IT hasn't been taken to the garbage dump like I wanted.

But it's been moved and I don't have to mow around it anymore.

And you don't see it when you're walking up to the house.

And thankfully, it didn't end up in my FRONT FLOWER BED as originally promised either...



So it's all good.


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PhotoStory Friday

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