Practicing Gratitude

>> Thursday, September 26, 2013

TT hosted in September by Laurie @ omen Living Well
Happy first Thursday of Fall!

Of course, around here it's been feeling fall-ish for a few weeks already...  I can't complain though; the weather has been beautiful for the most part.  I'm so thankful there's only been a couple of days of drizzle since September began.  Mostly, they've been warm and sunny, and we've had only two or three nights with very light frost.

I'm thankful for 15 three-cup containers of homemade salsa in my freezer... and two more wheelbarrows-full of tomatoes ripening and waiting in the shed!

I'm grateful The Man enjoys working in the garden.  I don't.  He basically cleaned it out the other day and put all the spaghetti squashes, zucchinis, pumpkins, and tomatoes into the shed to protect them from the frost.  It won't be long and they will have to get moved into the house though, and I'm not sure where we're going to put all those tomatoes while we wait for them to ripen!!  I'm thankful our garden did so well this year.

I'm thankful I have the kind of husband who doesn't mind being woken up an hour earlier than normal if it means a chance to shoot something!  There was a skunk wandering around on the front yard the other day, but unfortunately, as soon as the back door opened, it disappeared into the bush behind the garage.

I'm thankful my piano key repair turned out to be a factory recall issue ~ even though my piano is 10 years old already.  My entire keyboard is being replaced for only the cost of an hour of labour!  It's an inexpensive digital piano and I was a little worried that maybe 10 years was about all I could expect to get out of it; that the cost of the repair would make it tough to decide if it was worth the hassle or if we should just spring for a new one.  I'm so grateful we didn't have to make that decision.  Instead of possibly spending hundreds on repairs or even thousands on a replacement, it'll only cost $80 and will hopefully serve me well for another good many years!!

I'm thankful for decluttering.  It's always a bit of a battle ~ The Man HATES getting rid of stuff ~ but even he had to admit the giant bookshelf by the front door being cleaned out does make a difference in how the room feels!!  (now if only we could get the toy end of the room under control!!)  I'm grateful we live in abundance and really, this is a good problem to have, but it IS hard to give away boxes and bags of things we thought were important enough for ourselves to purchase.  I'm not going all minimalist or anything (my husband is a little concerned about that!), but I just find that I'm so much more thankful for our things when they all have proper places of their own and can be put back in those places when we're done with them!!

What are YOU thankful for this week??

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5-Minute Friday

>> Friday, September 20, 2013

5 Minute Friday is "sort of a writing flashmob" hosted weekly by blogger Lisa-Jo Baker.  Each Friday she selects a subject and your job is to write about it for 5 minutes ~ no editing, just raw and free ~ and link to her post.  Just write.  For 5 minutes.  And there's only one rule:  After you've linked your post, you MUST visit the person who linked up before you and leave a comment.

Okay, ready?  Today's topic is: She...

GO

She.  The first thing that pops into my mind when I think of this word is the verse behind my blog name:  Proverbs 31:25 ~ She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

She doesn't fear the future; she smiles in confidence at what's unknown because she knows Who DOES know what's coming and is in control of it all.  Sure, that doesn't stop her from being nervous sometimes or even being afraid every now and then, but she doesn't let her emotions get the best of her.  She chooses faith over fear, worship over worry.

I used to hate that last section in Proverbs.  I felt it was such an unrealistic standard, but as I studied it and learned more about it over the years, I came to realize it's really a beautiful picture of the woman whose faith is strong and unshakable.  I don't hate her anymore.  I quite like reading about her and trying to emulate her, though of course, I fall short.  I guess it's because she's God's standard!

I think I'm most grateful for the realization, though, that her accomplishments don't reflect her daily "to do" list.  (can you imagine??)  They're characteristic; an overall picture of her life.

Which comes as great relief to me because I can't work at all those things at once!!  I'm trying, but I'm guessing I'll need a few years yet before these are generalizations people will be able to make about ME.

STOP

Whew!  How did YOU do??






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Practicing Gratitude

>> Thursday, September 19, 2013

TT hosted in September by Laurie @ omen Living Well
Man, I can't believe it's been three weeks since I did a Thankful Thursday post!!  I've certainly had many things to be grateful for, but I guess I haven't taken the time to post them here.  But, so that you can "rejoice with them who rejoice" today...

I'm grateful there is a youth group in town specifically for middle schoolers and that Mack had a great first time there this past Monday.  I'm thankful that, somewhat contrary to her quiet, reserved nature, she is very out-going and loves meeting new people.

I'm so thankful for the awesome weather we've been having!  Other than a couple of nights that dipped down to the freezing point, the days still feel like summer.  The girls actually went swimming in our unheated, outdoor pool twice last weekend!  That's pretty unusual for mid-September.  These are my favourite days.  Hot, sunny afternoons with clear, deep blue skies ~ no haze or humidity to distort the view (just stubble-burning smoke or harvest-related dust!) ~ and crisp, cool nights where the breeze coming in through the windows makes you thankful for fleece sheets...  Ahhhhh, perfect!  I love summer, but these late summer days are the best.

I'm thankful the harvest has worked out as well as it has for most farmers in the area, considering the cool, damp summer we had until a month ago.  And though we did actually have a soaking rain all day yesterday that our land didn't really need (and harvest not being completed for most, it was probably not wanted either!), I'm grateful for its refreshing, cleansing effect.  Harvest means excessive dust, from both the fields and the roads, and now everything has been washed clean and the dust tamed for a time.  And there's no better way to enjoy early dismissal and fresh ginger snaps with hot chocolate than a cool, drizzly day!

I'm thankful for our own garden harvest, even though I don't enjoy gardening OR preserving.  I put 28 two-cup and 5 three-cup packages of corn into the freezer, and made the first batch of salsa this year, which yielded seven 750mL (25oz) containers.  In a few days, I will probably have enough ripe tomatoes to do that again and once all the green ones I picked are ripe, well... I may need to branch out into a few other tomato-based things!!  This is by far the best tomato crop we've ever had, so it's the first time I've ever really had to think of anything other than salsa to make with them!

I'm thankful for a return to routine, and grateful the girls have both had a great first couple of weeks back at school.  All of AJ's teachers are new to the school and all but one of Mack's are new as well.  (it's a small school and we had quite a staff shake-up over the summer!)  I'm grateful the new staff members ~ including the principal ~ seem so far to be a positive change for our school.

I love this time of year.  I'm so grateful for seasons and the many ways God shows His goodness and faithfulness through all of them.

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A True Work of Art

>> Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I can't help but love it when artwork like this appears on the wall of the girls' room, in the little space between their headboards.

 
I especially love that it's not just a nice sentiment they heard somewhere, but that it's actually lived out in their lives every day.
 
Someone once said, "It takes a long time to grow an old friend."

They will have many old friends someday.
But no friendship will ever be older than this one.





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The Ancient Paths

>> Wednesday, September 4, 2013

My girls go back to school today.  Like many parents seem to, I always feel like this is more the REAL beginning of the year, as opposed to January 1st.

It's always a bittersweet day for me.  I like getting back into a "normal" routine in fall after two months of chaotic free-for-all, but I LOVE the freedom of summer and not needing a routine.  (and let's face it, the "normal" routine is only fun for a few months and then I want summer back!  That may or may not have something to do with our climate though...)

As we grow older, we tend to dread these "endings," but exuberance marks these experiences for the young.  The world is their oyster.  And even though time changes our attitudes towards big changes, our general tendency is still to believe new = better.  Our TVs have preached that to us for as long as most of us can remember and most of us are thoroughly indoctrinated already long before we reach adulthood.

Sometimes, new really IS better, but there is one key area where we need to keep reminding ourselves and teaching our children ~ no matter which stage of life they happen to be in ~ that old is better.  In fact, the original is better than any new thing that's come out since.

This is what the Lord says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
Jeremiah 6:16

Knowing GOD'S Word is of utmost importance.  BILLIONS of words have been issued since His ~ even many in efforts to help us understand His better ~ but by far the majority are sub-par in achieving their claimed goal, and many have even been been contrary to what God sought to teach His people about Himself and His ways.


I want to nurture in my girls a hunger for His Word, a humble deference to His authority.  I want them to not just hear those things are vital to their spiritual life, I want them to see those things are vital to mine; that no matter what new ideas and philosophies they're exposed to throughout the course of our lives, there is only ONE WAY ~ the same old one way that's always been ~ we can trust to safely lead us to God.

Our TVs, popular philosophy, and secular academia will always try to convince us old is bad, backwards, insufficient. May we see and KNOW ~ with that deep, intimate, experiential understanding ~ the true value of the Ancient Paths so that our children will be drawn to them, too, even amidst their excitement and enthusiasm for each new experience and beginning.




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Summer Recap

>> Monday, September 2, 2013

I really can't believe it's over.  I can't believe September is here already.  I mean, you KNOW it comes every year, but somehow, it always comes a little too soon.  For me, anyway.  I'm sure glad I didn't make up a summer goal list this year like I have some years in the past (2010, 2011) ~ there is NO way we would've stuck to it!!  The girls biked to town to play with friends at the schoolyard only once, and going to the library ~ an almost-weekly tradition for the last three summers ~ didn't happen a SINGLE time! Here's how our summer looked:

June 13-17 ~ Fathers Day/AJ's birthday weekend celebration in The Big City
June 21-23 ~ camping with friends
June 26 ~ last day of school
July 1-6 ~ The Man and I FINISHED AND PAINTED THE KITCHEN!
July 9-14 ~ camping with The Man's family
July 17-21 ~ girls at Bible Camp (I painted the dining room)
July 23-25 ~ camping with some other friends
Aug 3-5 ~ in a cabin for The Man's extended family gathering
Aug 5-8 ~ visiting my parents in The Big City
Aug 16-19 ~ camping at my extended family gathering at one of the lakes nearby
Aug 19-21 ~ father/daughter camping trip (I painted the stairwell)
Aug 23-25 ~ The Man helped a friend re-shingle his roof (I painted the hallway)
Aug 26-29 ~ The Man's parents camped on our yard for a visit
Aug 30 ~ day trip to a small city two hours away to finish school shopping and get in a swim at their indoor waterpark

Whew!  It was a bit busier than I would have liked, even though really, I've been home for most of the last month.  It's just felt a little too much like I was always either getting ready to go away, or unpacking and cleaning up from being gone.  I am hoping to streamline our camping prep in the future so it doesn't seem like quite such a hassle to get ready to go.

We thought having a 5th wheel would resolve our prep time woes, but it hasn't worked that way yet.  It has definitely improved our camping experience and packing is certainly easier than with the "pop-up" (which took an hour to set up and HAD to be fully erected in order to pack), but it still seemed to take us an inordinate amount of time to actually be ready to drive off the yard.  I think as we accumulate things that will stay in the camper and as we continue to "practice" camping, that time will continue to decrease.  It really isn't something we've done more than once or twice a summer, at most, in the past, so there are still kinks we need to work out and little things we need to learn to do ahead of time.  You know, things that should probably get done as soon as we get home so that we don't need to try and remember them at the last minute next time!

All in all, I think our summer was good for the girls ~ little chance for boredom! ~ but I am hoping next summer will feel a little more leisurely, either because camping is more organized and requires less effort, or because there are simply fewer days away scheduled on the calendar. I think even The Man would have preferred a little less activity this summer.

Ah well, we have ten months now to figure out how we'd like next year to go!


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