Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Do the Next Thing

A poem quoted by Elisabeth Elliott:

“From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message for me,
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraaven,
Hath, as it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the hours the quiet words ring,
Like a low inspiration: DO THE NEXT THING.

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here. 
Moment my moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, DO THE NEXT THING.

Do it immediately; do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His Hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ’neath His wing,
Leave all resultings, DO THE NEXT THING.                                                               

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
(Working or suffering) be thy demeanor.
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm.
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing!
Then, as He beckons thee, DO THE NEXT THING."
                                                         --author unknown

It seems like every few months or so, I just have an off day in which I struggle to do what needs to be done.  It could be for a million reasons or no identifiable reason at all.  I don't think I'm alone here, either.  Anxiety, loneliness, fear, guilt, and uncertainty can all lead to days in which not only is it difficult to do the next thing but anything at all.  

I was reminded of this article yesterday, as I was kind of having one of these days, so overwhelmed by everything that I felt as if I could do nothing.  Nicole Whitacre over at the GirlTalk blog talks about this very thing.  

"Sometimes I struggle with feeling guilty that I don't feel like doing the next thing. Even though I have repented from fear and anxiety (and will keep repenting and talking to myself) the feelings of fear still linger. But aren't we supposed to do our work with joy and gladness as unto the Lord? How can I glorify God in my work if I still feel anxious? I wonder. So just as I pull one foot out of the ditch of fear, the other one falls into the pothole of condemnation.

But there is a firm and level path for us in God's Word, which John Piper points out in this meditation on Psalm 126:5-6 called "Talking to Your Tears." He's counseling people who are sad and suffering, but I think it also applies to those of us who feel anxious:

'So here’s the lesson: When there are simple, straightforward jobs to be done, and you are full of sadness, and tears are flowing easily, go ahead and do the jobs with tears. Be realistic. Say to your tears: ‘Tears, I feel you. You make me want to quit life. But there is a field to be sown (dishes to be washed, car to be fixed, sermon to be written). I know you will wet my face several times today, but I have work to do and you will just have to go with me. I intend to take the bag of seeds and sow. If you come along then you will just have to wet the rows.'

Even if we sow in tears (or fears) we will one day reap with joy. Read the entire meditation and then do the next thing--whether you feel like it or not."

~ Carrie ~

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ups, Downs, Giggles, and Tears

Finally getting to eat a bit once he was on the mend
This pretty much sums up my week.  Being fully recovered from a stomach bug that had him down last weekend, Jadon was all over the place this week.  Mornings seemed especially crabby, afternoons turned especially fun.  His sleeping hours were long and peaceful, while his waking hours consisted of eating everything in sight!  Growth spurt?  Who knows!  All I know is that by about 9:30 this morning (Friday) I'd had enough.  I had started to reach that breaking point where I just wanted to do was banish each of us to our rooms, go back to bed, wake up, and start the whole morning over again.  Yeah... that wasn't going to happen.  

Instead, after managing to settle Jadon down after yet another meltdown, he and I plopped into the recliner to chill-out for a few minutes and I hopped on my laptop to vent to my husband (via the internet).  His response: heartfelt concern for all that was going on and a link to an article that he'd just read.  So to all you moms out there, whether it was an up or down day for you, whether you thought about going back to bed or actually did, I'd encourage you to read this article.  It's not long (plus you'll probably be stuck inside waiting out the hurricane!).  My guess is that (like me) it will make you nod your head in agreement and reevaluate how you handle your own sinfulness in raising your children (a tough pill to swallow).  All of this to say, read this and you will be both challenged and encouraged.  Have a great weekend!  

Motherhood is Application by Rachel Jankovic

~ Carrie ~

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Home Pick

So, I'm in the process (finally) of redecorating Jadon's room to step it up from the nursery that it was an actual "big boy" room.  We've got most of the stuff... the bunks beds, the mattresses, the bedding, and a "new" nightstand.  What's holding us back are a few projects that I'm hoping will be completed (or mostly completed... I'm a realist) by the end of the weekend.  So hopefully I'll have picks of his room up next week!  

For now, this week's home pick is a sneak peek at a little wall art that will be hung in his new room.  It should give you an idea of what's to come!  

I bought the frame at Christmas Tree Shops for $10 (4-8x10s).  Then I ripped apart one of the bed skirts that came with Jadon's bedding (not needed for bunk beds), cut the fabric down, and mounted it on cardstock with mod podge.  After it dried, I used my stencils ($1 each at a dollar store) and some acrylic paint to create the above artwork.  I'm not incredibly artsy (especially when I don't have a set of directions to go by), but stencils are in my safe zone!  Hopefully there will be more creativity to come!

~ Carrie ~

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Doing vs. Serving

I’m a doer.  I’m quite certain both of my parents are to blame responsible for this, although this quality is not necessarily something that is entirely negative.  In fact, being a doer is a positive thing in many ways.  But, like many other attributes, it also has it’s downfalls. 

As Christians we are called to serve.  We serve Christ, first and foremost, and in the name of Christ we serve others – our church, our friends, our families, our neighbors, perfect strangers even. 

Serving does not come easy to everyone, including me.  It may seem strange that a self-proclaimed doer struggles to serve Christ and others, but doing is not the same as serving. 

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people…”
                                                                 Ephesians 6:6-8

Serving should be more about Christ than anything else.  I’m a list maker.  In fact, when making lists I often write things down that I’ve already done, just so I can cross them off and feel good about what I’ve accomplished so far.  (Bigger confession… when I get marking up-coming things on the calendar, I’ll even go back and fill in things that have already happened – that meeting last week, nursery duty 2 days ago, playdate 2 weeks ago.  There’s no need for this… I just get some sort of satisfaction out of it…)  Serving has little do with lists, and much to do with the heart.  It’s not so much of the “to do” but more about the “who”. 

“…The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”                                                                            Matthew 20:28

Serving involves sacrifice.  Christ is the ultimate example of this.  Isaiah prophesied that “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet did not open his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7)  How many of us as we serve in the name of Christ utter complaints about how things are done or who we are serving or serving alongside?  Or maybe we serve begrudgingly because there is no one else to do it or we want it done right.  Serving Christ is not an opportunity to feed our own egos and pat ourselves on the back.  It should always be seen as an opportunity to sacrifice in the name of Christ and with the same attitude as Christ. 

“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.  And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
                                                                        John 12:3

Serving Christ and others is a means of worshiping God.  Mary anointing the feet of Jesus is just one of many beautiful examples found throughout Scripture of worship through service.  Worship God as you serve.  Make your serving as much about Christ as possible. 

It’s hard to believe that fall is just around the corner.  I know for my family, we’re getting ready for lots of upcoming church events, and many ministries that stop during the summer months will begin again in the coming weeks.  Many of you may be anticipating similar things.  Pray for the ministries that you will be in and the ministries that God is leading you to start for the first time. Serve God in each ministry you find yourself involved in; don’t allow sacrifice to become a barrier to serve; and take time as you serve to worship God. 

“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be.  My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
                                                                                                 John 12:26
~ Carrie ~

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fresh Fridays

Dictionary definition of empathy

empathy [em-puh-thee]

  1. the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. 
  2. the imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself

Jadon's definition of empathy

empathy [em-puh-thee]
  1. inflicting one's self to the point of having the same, if not close to, the same experience as another
  2. the act of maintaining all attention on one's self, despite what others individuals may be experiencing

Empathy is a difficult concept to grasp, especially for a 2 year old.  Although Jadon has shown some signs of being able to empathize with others... he has clearly not arrived at a solid understanding.  

The funniest example so far happened earlier this week when Andy bumped his head (very hard) on the edge of the bathroom sink.  Jadon was also in the bathroom and heard Andy's grimmacing and saw him holding his head in pain.  Did Jadon ask if Daddy was okay?  Nope.  Instead he thought it best to walk over to the sink and purposely bang his head into it.  Of course this was followed with forced moans and groans and rubbing his head saying, "That hurt."  

So, if you didn't quite understand Jadon's definitions of empathy, go back and read them again.  We're still trying to figure out he is portraying the innocence of the first of his definitions, or the self-centeredness of the second.  Either way, it's hard not to chuckle a little when your mimicking two year old is willing to bring slight harm to himself as a means of empathizing with another.  Don't worry.  We keep all knives, scissors, and power tools far from these little hands.  Hopefully this kind of empathizing goes no further than this!  

~ Carrie ~

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Home Pick

photo credit
My home pick for this week is... 


I've always enjoyed taking pictures, ever since I got my first camera for Christmas when I was probably around 10.  (By the way, I still have some of the pictures I took with that camera, most of them being pictures of my cousins who were around the same age as me... ah, the 90s...)  Anyway, it hasn't been until the last year or so that I've actually tried to get better at my photography skills - and I'm still not very good.  I don't have a great camera because I figured once I'm good enough where this camera is holding me back (I'm chuckling at my thinking that could ever be a possibility), then it would be worth my while to get a better one.  For now, I'll just do my best at mastering the camera I have.  

I don't edit photos.  Except for the basic black and white or sepia, red eye fixing, or cropping, I have zero abilities to edit pictures.  (Although I'd really love to learn, if I could ever find the time to figure it out!)  Anything more complex than these few things and I hand it off to my hubby.  

So, after all of that... why are photographs my home pick for this week?  It's simple.  They are a great way to make your home more... (are you ready for this?) homey.  It's an earth-shattering thought, really (not).   

Simply put, pictures tell more about your life and family than any other single decorative element in your home ever could.  Have you ever looked at those pictures of homes in magazines and said, "Now really, does someone actually live in that house?"  So many of these "ideally decorated homes" tend to have a bit of a cold feeling to them because it doesn't seem like there's a lot of living happening in the space.  Solution: pictures.  

So, how do you do it.  However you want!  (Really, it takes such genius to blog about all these wonderful things... haha)  But if you really want a few guidelines, here you go.

Posed pictures are good (and typical), but candids are even better.  Frame pictures of your family being a family... at the beach, playing wiffle ball in the backyard, building a snowman, eating cookie dough, having an American Gladiator themed wrestling tournament (don't ask :).  Don't just showcase the school pictures and family portraits.  Display your family being uniquely you.  

Edit pictures to create variety.  I know, I already said that I don't edit pictures, but anyone can get a pictures changed to black and white, or fix the red eye.  If you don't have a program on your computer, use one online.  If you don't know what to do online, ask someone to do it for you.  So many people are into photo editing now, it's not hard to find someone who could show you how to do a few basic edits.  

Rotate pictures seasonally.  Something I've been trying to do more of lately is keeping the same few frames in my living room, but switching out the photos throughout the year - particularly with the seasons.  For instance, my mantle right now has a variety of pictures from last summer (see pictures below).  Once fall is here, I'll switch these pictures out and insert some from last fall, such as when we went apple-picking and when we carved our pumpkin.  Doing this at the beginning of each season makes me even more excited for all the fun things the next few months will bring!  Another idea for rotating pictures is to get a digital picture frame.  One frame, tons of pictures.  Just like that! - as long as you remember to update it every few months and don't leave the same pictures on your frame for over a year... :/ (guilty).

This has been my summer mantle decor.

Pictures mostly from Summer 2010 (left to right): Jadon playing on the beach, Andy & I on a vacation day-trip, Andy & Jadon with a sparkler on the 4th of July, and (not from last year) Andy & I walking on the beach while on our honeymoon.

Photo walls are nice, but not necessary.  In our old apartment I had a portion of a wall covered in a variety of pictures of family and friends from throughout the years.  That was nice, but a lot of work (lots of frames, lots of nails in the wall, and seldom changed).  A less committed "photo wall" of sorts is a memo board.  These can be purchased practically anywhere (Wal-mart, Target, Christmas Tree Shops, Kohl's, AC Moore, etc.).  They are also really easy to make (stay tuned for a home pick in the near future).  If you want to keep it simple, get a memo board and every few months switch up your pictures.  (See photo below.)

A memo board from Jadon's room.  I took a bunch of scrapbooking scissors and cropped all the pictures, just to make it a little more fun.

All in all, pictures are fun, interesting, and inviting.  Let people know you have a life outside of cooking, cleaning, decorating, and entertaining!  Say cheese!!  

~ Carrie ~

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Here's an article that is both a breath of fresh air and a humbling reminder of all that God has called me to be.  I hope you can be encouraged by it today!

Motherhood is a Calling by Rachel Jankovic

~ Carrie ~

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Light at the End of the Tunnel: Patience & Grace

There are a lot of things that I've learned since becoming a parent (approximately 2 years, 4 months, and 10 days ago). Here are a few of them.

  • If you pick it up for them, they will throw it again.
  • Just when they get into a routine, they change it.
  • Even though they liked it once doesn't mean they'll like it again.
  • When you want them to listen, they don't.  When you don't want them to listen, they do.  
  • If you tell them not to, they will.  

And that's just off the top of my head!  Well, I guess another thing that I've learned is patience - and boy have my husband and I had our patience tested, especially starting at the end of February when our precious little almost two year old decided (after 3 successful weeks of sleeping in a toddler bed) that he no longer wanted to sleep in his bed anymore.  He, in fact, wanted to sleep on the floor - so long as he was being forced to stay in his room because if either my husband or I left his room, he would be out in an instant.  So we went from a happy toddler who transitioned perfectly into a bed, to a miserable bed-time boy who refused to stay in his room, let alone sleep in his own bed.  
Jadon sleeping in his toddler bed for the first time.  This lastest for 3 weeks before he went on his "bed strike".

After almost a week of this pattern we figured out that this was probably going to be the way it was for a while.  The question we had was, "How are we going to fix this?"  I mean seriously, a two year old who only wants to sleep with his pillow and blanket on the floor.  That's not good.  We tried to get him to sleep on a sleeping bag on the floor, but he would have none of that.  Ugh.  

In despair, my husband and I sat down to formulate a "plan of attack".  Ultimately we decided that we had two problems: sleeping on the floor and not falling asleep on his own.  Instead of tackling both problems at the same time (which was obviously not working), we decided to first work on how he was sleeping, not where.  He wasn't going to sleep on the floor for the rest of his life, so that seemed like the less major issue for the moment. 

After a month of progressively working ourselves out of his room, we finally had a little boy who would fall asleep on his own.  Now to get him to sleep in a bed!  That actually proved to be the harder thing, believe it or not.  We eventually got him to sleep on a sleeping bag on the floor (which actually proved helpful in a few overnight stays away from home).  So from approximately the beginning of May until the end of June, Jadon continued to sleep on the floor, but at least on a sleeping bag.  We continued to try to convince him to go back to his toddler bed, but he wanted nothing to do with it.  Finally at the end of June we were going away for almost two weeks and were going to be staying in a room that had a twin bed in it for Jadon.  Positive thinking took hold of me and I bought a bed rail to bring with us.  We arrived and I showed Jadon his bed and installed the bed rail.  He loved it, and a few hours later (when it was nap time) he went soundly asleep without so much as a peep out of him.  Ever since that day he has slept in his own bed, including when we came home to the same toddler bed that had been in his room for 5 months!  

It was a long wait, but I'm so thankful for the patience that God granted my husband and I during this time.  Whenever family members or friends asked us if Jadon was "still sleeping on the floor," it was so disappointing to say yes.  I think every parent has those moments from time to time when you think to yourself, "Yeah, guess I'm not winning parent of the year this year!"  Yet, God still grants patience and grace.  

I'm trying to remind myself of this as we began potty training this week.  Hopefully this will not be a 5 month long ordeal, but I know that God will provide the extra dose of patience I need to make it through all of the big messes and extra loads of laundry I've been doing no matter how long this continues!

~ Carrie ~

Thursday, August 11, 2011

2 Thumbs Up

 The truth hurts sometimes... 
pattisprimitives on Etsy
This is still cute though!

~ Carrie ~

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Home Pick

This week's home pick is...

Yard Sales

... or whatever you happen to call them (garage sales, tag sales, etc.).  You know what I mean.  Besides the budding trees and green grass, as sure sign that spring has arrived are the countless yard sale signs that line the streets and major intersections.  Living outside of Boston has showed me that people go nuts for yard sales around here!  The newest rage is to advertise your yard sale on popular forums, such as craigslist.  If you aren't big on driving around from yard sale to yard sale, look for signs/advertisements for "community" or "multi-family" yard sales.  You'll be sure find a lot of stuff in a relatively small area.  

Although it can be somewhat addictive, yard sale-ing can be very practical, in addition to thrifty.  The thing that you must remind yourself of as you go is to only get what you need or know you will use.  Otherwise, in six months you'll just be adding to your own stash of eventual yard sale stuff.  So, if you don't know what you'd do with it or where you'd put it, then it's probably best to just say no.  (This statement can probably be applied to more than just yard sale shopping, but I don't think I'll go there... :P)

I haven't done a ton of yard sale-ing this year, but I have hit up the occasional huge yard sales with tons of good-looking stuff, as well as the yard sales the neighbors are having.  

To date, this is my biggest yard sale find this summer (although there is still time!).  I got the purple chair (which I'm planning on sanding and painting black) for $3, the books on the chair were given to Jadon by the lady running the yard sale :), the old wood-framed windows were $1 each (there are 4 total - some craftiness coming down the road with there...), and the old-fashioned kid's all wood rocking chair was $2!  This chair is in our living room and Jadon uses it all the time!  Yup, that's $9 for everything!  (I only had a $10 bill and told the lady I didn't want any change because this was such a steal and because she was so incredibly helpful carrying and loading all this stuff into my husband's car, since he had my van that day - figures...)   

Other items from yard sales this year include a few toys (mostly for our church nursery), kids' DVDs (VeggieTales, Sesame Street, etc), and a very cute winter-themed stationary set that was still in the original packaging.  

I'm looking forward, now that I'm home, to getting out to a few other yard sales between now and Labor Day weekend (FYI, in my experience, the number of yard sales dwindle considerably after Labor Day).  So stay alert!  You never know what "treasures" you may be able to find at a yard sale!  

~ Carrie ~ 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lessons Learned

We’re home.  After 9 weeks of bouncing around between home, camp, and grandparents’ homes, our little family is (to my knowledge) staying put for the rest of the summer.  As much fun as we’ve had this summer travelling around New England, throughout the rest of the summer I’m looking forward to having some times with just my boys doing cheap local stuff.  Although, I can’t lie… a huge highlight since we returned has been completely emptying our suitcases and putting them away! 

In the midst of applying sunscreen, shopping at thrift stores, walks to the park, and an intense family volleyball game, God has taught me some huge lessons this summer that have not always been easy to learn, but I’m grateful to have been taught them. 

Lesson #1: God’s plans are greater than mine

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

Being native New Englanders, my husband and I (who am I kidding?- mostly me…) start planning our summer while we still have snow on the ground.  We want to make the most of each sunny 60 degree or higher day we have!  We had many plans for our summer – many of them have become traditions and some are things we’ve always wanted to do.  Either way, they all seem to revolve around spending time as a family and with other family members.  This summer was no different, except that in June God added a few other events on my calendar (and they weren’t exactly in the category of “summer fun”).  In June I made an unplanned trip to my parents’ house (well, I didn’t plan for it).  In June, my dad unexpectedly had some medical tests – that were initially planned for later that month and in July – rescheduled for the same week that I would be visiting.  Also in June, the day before I left to head home from my parents’ house, my dad announced to me and my siblings that he had bladder cancer.  I didn’t plan for this, but God orchestrated each of these events perfectly.  Cancer and perfect aren’t exactly words that go hand in hand, but even in the midst of hearing this terrible news I couldn’t help but see the perfection of God’s timing immediately and praise Him for it. 

Lesson #2: God can make my plans His

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
Proverbs 16:9

I can’t say that I was completely free from worry and anxiety as I awaited my dad’s surgery, but God tremendously blessed me during this time of waiting with peace that I could never have imagined having given the circumstances.  Unfortunately I couldn’t be there for my dad’s surgery, but I know God had me where He wanted me.  I’m a need-meeter, and I’m a firstborn.  Both of these qualities created in me a huge desire to be there for my dad, mom, and siblings.  How could I possibly go about my day as usual?  I had to find contentment in praying while changing a diaper, texting my sisters while making a grilled cheese, and talking to my dad during nap time.  I’m thankful that during this time God could set this need-meeting, controlling firstborn aside and use my younger, very capable siblings to support both of my parents during a very long, stressful day (that turned into days). 

Plans had been made (prior to dad’s diagnosis) to head north to my parents’ house around the time of a couple of family weddings.  God made my plans His once again when it worked out for me to get up there even earlier.  I arrived at my parents’ a week after my dad’s surgery and was able to spend 2 weeks with them (instead of the initially planned 10 days).

Lesson #3: Stop tracing, keep trusting

The day before we were leaving for home was a memorable day for a number of reasons.  I got to spend some quality time with a lot of family I don’t see very often.  We had one of those afternoons that kept bringing me back to when I was about 10 years old with all of these same family members (goofy cousins, crazy aunts, and a grandfather who was reveling in his overflowing “quiver”).  Then we had a cookout and campfire with a smaller group at my parents – intimate family time together.  But the part of this day that stood out to me the most was how it all started because it was a Sunday in my home church.  It’s always wonderful to be with my church family (and they truly are family), but this Sunday in my home church was different because my husband was speaking in place of my dad.  Unfortunately, I was not able to give my full attention to the sermon (due to a certain 2-year old who messed his pants and then refused to stay in the nursery because he wanted to “go upstairs and be quiet”).  Even in the midst of snacks, crayons, and shushing, one thing from his sermon has stuck with me and that is a quote he referenced. 

“We cannot always trace God’s hand, but we can always trust God’s heart.”
Charles Spurgeon

God’s been teaching me to stop always trying to figure things out and just day by day, moment by moment, keep trusting God’s heart.  I can no less anticipate God’s plans then I can predict the weather in New England (blink and it will change!).  God is faithful, righteous, just, and loving in both the anticipated and unexpected moments in life.  And so, even now…

“We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
My your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.”
Psalm 33:20-22