Monday, February 28, 2011

Clinging for (New) Life


I took a brief, unexpected vacation last week to spend some time with family.  We had lots of fun, which I'm sure I'll share a little about later in the week.  But for now, I'm back with another Monday Meditation that I hope you'll be encouraged by at the start of this new week.  

I’m going to go out on a limb here and ask whether you ever sit and contemplate words or phrases.  Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Wow… She must be really bored,” or, “I’m so busy, I don’t have time to contemplate anything!”  Please, don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t something I often do, but I confess to analyzing my perspective on particular words or phrases from time to time.  If you have no idea what I’m referring to then please hang with me here and you will hopefully understand. 

The word that I was recently contemplating was “cling”.  I don’t know about you, but when I think about the word “cling,” not only do many words come to mind, but also many visuals.  I see a rock climber hanging for dear life, uncertain where the next foothold is or if he can find the strength to pull himself to the top.  Or, on an entirely different note, a woman with an incredibly staticky skirt, or a child who’s hair is standing on end after rubbing a balloon all over her head. 
Very different, very strange perspectives on the word “cling”.  What do you think of? 

My mind clung (hehe) to this word “cling” this morning as my husband used the word several times in his sermon this morning.  (Yes, I can blame him for all of this.)  Over the past several months I’ve wrestled with a particular “God-concept” (I can’t think of any other way to describe it).  He is good.  He is all-knowing.  He is loving.  Praise be to Him.  Where would I be were it not for his goodness, knowledge, and love?  My struggle, however, concerns how we are to handle when God says no to what we believe are good things. 

A 30-year old woman has never been married and desires a godly husband.  God chooses not to provide. 

A married couple prays that God will provide them with a baby, and He doesn’t. 

A recent Bible school graduate surrenders himself to God as a missionary to a foreign country, and the finances never come through.  A closed door. 

It’s easy to see how each of these situations is distressing, each in its own way.  What do you do when God says no, not now.  Unfortunately, the desire does not vanish into thin air not to be given another thought.  It stays with us.  So, what do we do with it? 

I trust God in his timing and believe that He is still all that He says He is, even when the answer is no.  But why can’t I let it go?  Enter in Sunday morning and the words that God gave to my husband, “What are you clinging to?”  Am I clinging to a husband, a baby, a mission?  Or am I clinging to the cross?  It’s time to let go of all these “good things” and cling to the Great Savior who died for me because of my sinfulness.  What greater thing could I desire?  Paul says, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”  (1 Cor. 2:2)  No matter the circumstances in my life, I can still say that God is still God and I will praise him for that.  I will cling to the beautiful, terrible cross.  What are you clinging to? 

     I cling to the cross and everything it means
     I know it's the only hope there is for saving me
     For without Your great mercy
     I would be forever lost
     With a thankful heart I come and cling to the cross
                                             Paul Baloche – I Cling to the Cross


~ Carrie ~

Thursday, February 17, 2011

2 Thumbs Up

Probably could have benefited from owning one of these this morning...






Notice it does still have a snooze button... if you can catch it!

 At least I'd be getting up and exercising at the same time!  Hopefully the extra half hour did me well this morning and tomorrow I can be back to my 5:50 am schedule.  

~ Carrie ~

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Primitive Pick

My primitive pick for this week is...

Sconces!

I'm a big fan of sconces.  I don't have very many, but I do love them.  I will share with you the sconces I have in my home, as well as some others that I've found in various places online that I also love!  So, for those of you who are still unsure what a wall sconce actually is... please check out the pictures

First off, my own personal sconces... 

Our mantle at Christmas this past year. 


A wooden wall sconce that my hubby made me for Christmas this past year!  I'd been wanting one for so long, but could never justify paying the money for such a simple construction.  I think he did a great job! 

 Now for some wall sconces I've admired online...



  




 Hope you enjoyed them and maybe got a little inspiration from these pics!  

~ Carrie ~

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Life24/7

 Share the Love


Breakfast with Love


Candlelight Dinner for Three

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!


Have you taken up my challenge to redeem Valentine’s Day?  I have to say that this is a first true attempt for our family, and we almost started out on the wrong foot.  Andy and I were able to go out for supper last night, thanks to a wonderful couple from our church who watched Jadon for us.  Jadon did his best to help us cherish every moment we had  out by misbehaving and throughing quite the tantrum about a half hour before we were to leave.  He, of course, behaved fine for the sitters and went to bed okay as well.  I went to bed last night with a hope and a prayer that he would sleep in this morning and be a pleasant child throughout the day.  Yeah, right…

5:15 am.  Jadon is crying in his room.  What does he want? – to be sung to!  Okay… we sing a little song, I tuck him in, and all is quiet… for about 30 minutes.  My alarm goes off, as usual, at 5:50 am and (as if on cue) Jadon starts fussing.  We get him and he’s still not happy.  So, our day immediately starts off in a very frustrating way.  Andy (who is up and ready for the day) takes Jadon downstairs so that I can get myself showered and ready for the day.  What a wonderful guy I’m married to!

A little bit later, I arrive downstairs to relieve Andy and am surprised with a special Valentine’s Day breakfast prepared by my two favorite men.  As we sit down to eat together, Andy grabs his Bible and opens it up.  He looks at both Jadon and I and shared that it was a bit of a frustrating morning trying to prepare all that he wanted to do for me.  Thankfully, God brought his mind to this passage, which he shared before we ate our breakfast. 

“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 

What a wonderful reminder of how to show real love, God’s love, in how we treat those that we care about – our children, spouse, parents, siblings, friends, etc.  How have you done redeeming Valentine’s Day so far?  I know for me, it’s already proven to be more of a challenge than I originally anticipated, but we are working hard at it.  I’ve got some more things up my sleeve, so stay tuned later this week as I’ll be sharing what the rest of our day included!  It’s sure to be fun! 

~ Carrie ~

“One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating.  Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment great than these.’”

Mark 12:28-31

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Series of Unfortunate (and Fortunate) Events


Parenting requires lots of teaching.  Fortunately, I was a teacher for 3 years.  Unfortunately, I taught middle school – and we’re not quite there yet.  Fortunately, for the past couple weeks Jadon has been acting very similar to many of my middle school students.  Wait… fortunately?  What am I saying? 

The past two weeks have full of high highs and low lows for my boy – mostly due to teething, but we don’t let that excuse all his poor behavior.  This past Sunday marked his first major meltdown in a church service.  We’re hoping not to repeat that this Sunday!  There’s nothing quite like the pastor’s son flipping out in the third row from the front.  Spotlight, please?! 

How about hitting?  I think a lot of toddlers go through the hitting phase.  Thankfully so far it’s just been Mom, and it hasn’t been real hard.  Even still, the hitting is a direct act of defiance.  How do I know?  The hitting is usually random, and he usually just stands and looks at me after, as if to say “Are you going to say anything about this?”  We do not hesitate to rise to this challenge. 

My boy who, of his own free will, says please and thank-you to perfect strangers, has several times outright refused to say thank-you to either Mom or Dad and will simply walk away.  When posed with the question, “Jadon, what do you say?”  He will simply stop and look back over his shoulder as if to say, “Yeah, I don’t feel like it,” and then keep walking away. 

It all comes down to respect and submission to authority.  I recognize that although this phase will (hopefully) soon pass, it will return.  These are not just issues that toddlers, young children, pre-teens, and teenagers struggle with, but even adults!  I have great respect and admiration or my parents and how they raised me (I’d like to think they did a pretty good job).  So, this fight over power and authority is not with them, but with God. 

"Beware of turning to evil,
   which you seem to prefer to affliction.
God is exalted in his power.
   Who is a teacher like him?
Who has prescribed his ways for him,
   or said to him, ‘You have done wrong’?
Remember to extol his work,
   which people have praised in song.
All humanity has seen it;
   mortals gaze on it from afar.
How great is God—beyond our understanding!
   The number of his years is past finding out."   
(Job 36:21-26)

How often do we too “melt-down” when God says no or things just don’t happen the way that we planned or hoped?  How often do we wrongfully strike back or lash out at God because of our own poor choices?  Or how often do we accept what we think is due to us and not give thanks to the Giver?

Unfortunately, the bottom step has been a frequented area by a certain little bottom these past two weeks, but thankfully I know God is using me to teach this little one great things.  Fortunately, we don’t need a time-out on the bottom step to correct our own rebellious ways – a time-out on our knees is all that is necessary.  God is the master teacher in every way.  His justice and grace and patience are immeasurable.  How much more should this challenge us as parents to show justice and grace and patience to our children as we teach them to behave in ways that please Mom and Dad and, ultimately, God?

It would have been easy in these last two weeks to get angry and overwhelmed (and I’ve come close), but what I have to do is force myself to contemplate all of the positive or praise-worthy things from the past two weeks.  Here’s what I came up with:
  • I’ve been consistently getting into God’s Word each morning.
  • I’ve been consistently rising at 5:50 each weekday.
  • Jadon’s been playing very well both with me and on his own.
  • Jadon’s been learning to help more around the house with things like meal preparations, setting the table, cleaning up after himself, etc.
  • Transitioning Jadon to a toddler bed has gone extrememly well!  He hasn’t even left his room on his own!  
  • After a couple weeks of some frustrating outings to the grocery store and Target, Jadon is cooperating and obeying boundaries better when out in public places (although this is still very much a work in progress). 
Frustrations take a back burner when you count your blessings.  Challenge yourself, as I have been trying to do, to simply deal with the bumps in the road – not dwell on them.  

~ Carrie ~

“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—  to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

2 Thumbs Up

Francesca Battistelli - Someday Soon

Listen to Francesca tell the story behind the song by going to her site (click here).  
Then listen to the song in the following video.

 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Primitive Pick

I thought long and hard about what this week's primitive pick would be and it was right under my nose the whole time!   

Baskets

Yes, baskets.  It may not seem very primitive to some people, but they don't have to be.  Baskets are a great way to organize when you are short on space.  What will blend in better with your decor - a plastic tote or a basket?  I don't know if I can think of a better multi-purpose decorative item.  I'm going to share some ideas and pictures with you (some from my home and some from the professionals) that will hopefully spark some ideas of your own.  

Closet Solutions
My linen closet
When we moved into our house, one major goal I had was to organize the nice-sized linen closet that we now had.  These baskets were the perfect size for all our extra personal items.  


Clutter Baskets
Better Homes & Gardens

My house (also notice in the background the wire basket for all the cars and trucks)

Better Homes & Gardens

My house (A basket used for bills and/or mail and documents to be filed away)
Let's face it - we all have clutter in some way, shape, or form.  Baskets are a great way to disguise it a little.  Whether it's mail, toys, craft supplies, or magazines, put those things that tend to pile up in a basket to keep in out of sight, but not far away.  


Stow & Go
Better Homes & Gardens

Front hall bench at my house
There is about a 6 sq. ft. area just inside my front door where everything tends to land when we come in the door.  Anyone else have this problem?  Oh, and we have a coat closet immediately to the left when you walk in the house.  Yet somehow there are always those odds and ends that are always kicking around but you never want far.  This storage bench solves this problem for us.  One basket has Jadon's shoes, another has extra winter hats and gloves, and the third has some church odds and ends.  The best part is, Jadon knows exactly where to find his shoes and where to put them away - they are in his reach!


Kitchen Organization
Better Homes & Gardens (I have no baskets in my pantry... It's definitely an area in my house that could use some love!)

A basket in my kitchen to hold wet wipes and some of Jadon's table activities, like Play-Doh.
We are blessed with having a fairly new kitchen.  Unfortunately there isn't a ton of cabinet space.  Getting creative with some baskets on the counters or in the cabinets can help to maximize the limited space you have and keep things looking tidy.   

Gift Baskets
 
Gift baskets are a wonderful idea for any gift-giving occasion - Christmas, baby shower, Mother's Day, even Valentine's Day.  One word of advice... give a quality basket.  So often the baskets given with gift baskets are cheap and useless (believe me... I've thrown out plenty!).  The basket is part of the gift, so give one that will last.  

Decorative

I'm proud to say this is my house!  This grungy basket was an $8 thrift store find, and the faux foliage was found at a primitive store. 
Even though baskets are such a great way to organize your house, you don't always need them to serve two purposes.  Sometimes a basket can be there just to look nice! 

Is it no surprise that my 22-month old toddler has been saying "basket for about two months now?  I love them!  Hopefully you've been inspired to tackle some of those unloveable areas of your home and make them cared for and organized! 

~ Carrie ~ 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

What to do with Valentine's Day...


It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the stars, garland, and snowflakes come off the store shelves to make way for hearts, cupids, and flowers.  Valentine’s Day is almost here, and I am – once again – approaching the “holiday” with the same reservations as I normally do.  Now, of course, what girl doesn’t like to be especially showered with love in the form of chocolate, dinner out, flowers, heartfelt messages in a card, the list goes on…

My battle is, I think, a very common one in that it is against the commercialism of this particular holiday.  A huge part of me wants to defy the holiday in its entirety and make the claim that for my husband and I Valentine’s Day is every day!  Do you believe that?  Okay, so maybe not every day, but my point is that we try to have special times just for us regularly throughout the year – yes, even with a toddler.  If you can manage to find a babysitter (especially a family member who will babysit for free), take a few hours and do some shopping together, dinner out, a movie, a cup of coffee, dessert, or just a drive.  If you can’t find or pay for a sitter, get creative and have a date night in.  Feed your children, put them to bed and order take in or send the hubby out for curbside.  Or, just plan to do dessert together – homemade chocolate cream pie, chocolate chip cookies, or just a bag of your favorite candy.  Then start a movie you’ve wanted to watch that you DVR’d three weeks ago, or something on demand or pay-per-view.  Very cheap, and yet meaningful time spent together.  Suddenly, you and your spouse are “celebrating Valentine’s Day” a few times and year, once a month, or maybe even once a week.  That’s a whole lot more special than one commercialized day out of the year. 

As ideal as this all sounds, sometimes a woman feels guilty for leaving her children with a sitter (even if it is a family member) or not eating a meal with them so that Mommy and Daddy can have a special meal later.  Let me share something that I read just recently that will hopefully divulge any feelings of guilt that you may have.  Sharon Jaynes writes in Becoming the Woman of His Dreams,

“A mother should never feel guilty for putting her husband before her children.  Giving them the security of knowing that their parents love each other is one of the best gifts she can give them in the long run… The more intertwined the lives, the stronger the cord will be.”


I say all this, and yet, a part of me still has a desire to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my husband… and even my son!  How do you do it without making it just another holiday to exchange gifts and eat lots of food that we shouldn’t?  Give it a gospel-centered meaning.  God’s Word speaks so much of love, why not take a day to study, talk about, and celebrate God’s great love in fun, creative ways?  This is a great time of year to reflect on and remind ourselves of what we celebrated at Christmas time and what we will reflect on and celebrate in the coming Easter season.  One thought I had was to read and study, as a family, 1 John 4:7-21.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.  Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”  (1 John 4:7-12)

Valentine’s Day is worth redeeming.  It’s too great of an opportunity to not talk about love with our children and give them a real understanding of the greatest love of all.  This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t exchange valentines, do cute little crafts, have a fun valentine-themed meal together, or eat a little bit of chocolate; just do it all with a redeeming, gospel-centered purpose.

So, what to do with Valentine’s Day?  Glorify God by making it all about Him, thanking Him for His love, the sacrificial love of our Savior, and – out of gratitude – expressing our love toward others.  

Have a happy Monday!
~ Carrie ~

Friday, February 4, 2011

Fresh Fridays

Memories of Love


I was thinking about Valentine’s Day a little this week. How could I not with all the stores decked out in red and pink and all the flower and chocolate commercials on TV? I was thinking in particular about some of my Valentine’s Day memories. As a child, Valentine’s Day was that time of year when we exchanged valentines, made heart-shaped crafts at school, had a party, and ate lots of candy. Although there was that one year when I was elected “Princess” of my 4th grade class… but I won’t go there. Then in high school, you knew it was Valentine’s Day when one of the school clubs was selling carnations that would be specially delivered to each recipient during a certain period of the day on Valentine’s Day (or, if Valentine’s Day was on a weekend, a designated day of the week). If I remember correctly, there were three color choices with meanings attached: white = friendship, pink = like, and red = love… or something like that. This event led to many “secret crushes” being revealed, and, unfortunately, some broken hearts. Thankfully, for me this day only resulted in a couple of awkward moments with some not-so “anonymous” flower-senders… but, I won’t go there either.

I have two very, fond and vivid Valentine’s Day memories that I’ll share because they are so close to my heart (no pun intended).

The first story was from when I was about 8 years old (I think). My dad, being the romantic that he is and having three daughters (as my brother was not yet born), arranged for an evening with all his girls in which we were showered with his love and appreciation for us. All that we were told was to dress up and be ready to go out the door by a certain time. My dad was not at home, so my mom, sisters, and I were left wondering what was going on, but were ready nonetheless. At the prescribed time we were ready to go, jackets on and all (not sure where were to go or how we were to get there) when a limousine pulled into the snow-packed driveway of our parsonage home. Although all of us were stunned, I believe us girls were excitedly heading out the door (no doubt talking a mile-a-minute) while my mom tried to pick her jaw up off the floor, still in shock.
This picture was taken at the end of our very special Valentine's Day with Dad.  (Please no laughing... It was the 90s!)
 The rest of the evening is not quite as vivid, although I do remember meeting Dad at a nice restaurant that my sisters and I had never been to before. He gave each of us flowers (the largest corsage being for my mom). If memory serves me correct she tried to argue with him over all he had done (especially renting the limo), but it was no use. He would have none of it. He gave her a kiss and then helped seat each one of his girls. A true gentleman.

It was an exciting evening of feeling loved and grown-up. The limo ride back was also fun. We used the phone inside to call my grandparents while we were riding! It’s amazing to think how far technology has come since then. That was such a treat to take turns telling our grandparents where we were and what we had done that night. It was definitely a moment I have never forgotten, and stuck with me as I pursued my own romantic interest later in life.

Flash forward approximately 11 years. Andy and I were in our first year of college and had been dating for about four months. It was Friday, February 14th (our first Valentine’s Day together) and we were driving north to spend a long weekend with my family. We decided to celebrate our first Valentine’s Day together by making a stop along the way at a nice restaurant for dinner. There are lots of other details that I could include regarding a speeding ticket (not saying who, but I will say that I’ve got a perfect driving record), running into a friend in an unexpected place, and not going to my parent’s house until hours after we were in the area, but those aren’t really necessary. The bottom line is that this Valentine’s Day was most memorable because it was the day that Andy first told me that he loves me – and I told him I loved him, too! For both of us, those words weren’t something to be thrown around. We wanted to be sure we both truly meant it before saying it. It was an important part of our relationship and one that I will never forget.
This isn't from our first Valentine's Day, but shortly before.  Wow, we were so young!
I find it pretty fitting that my two fondest Valentine’s Day memories involve two of the most important men in my life: my dad and my husband.

~ Carrie ~