Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dirt-Covered, Yet Beautiful

A quick drive or cursory glance down the streets of our neighborhood would give you the image of unkempt lawns, overgrown weeds, garish & badly done paint jobs, broken sidewalks, discarded trash, and bars on windows. Not the kind of place that says "Beauty" or "Grace" to a passerby.

But that would only be part of the picture, for it takes a slower pace to see the beauty. As Annie Dillard wrote:

"As I walked along...I got better and better at seeing frogs both in and out of the water. I learned to recognize, slowing down, the difference in texture of the light reflected from mud bank, water, grass, or frog."

A slower, closer look at our neighborhood affords visual treasures, things like:

the startled butterfly who flew on ahead;

the nearly hidden, but well tended rose garden;

neatly potted plants along a porch;

the earthy green front door which perfectly compliments the stone house;

the elderly gentleman who waters and weeds his wildflower garden nearly every day;

a well placed decorative wheelbarrow filled with dark, rich soil and crisp, white petunias;

large, shady trees lining the street;

the way the morning sunlight flickers through the trees, creating soft shadows;

a pair of cream rocking chairs inviting company;

sweet smelling honeysuckle climbing over a fence;

a vine-covered wall.

It has taken awhile, but I am learning to find the beauty in the broken & dirty things of life. I am broken, dirty, needy, sinful but God is making me sweet smelling, full of His beauty and grace.

There is so much that is unattractive in this world - Lord help me to view it all through your eyes of grace.

What's in your cupboard?

RealSimple magazine has a neat section called "New uses for old things." Partially inspired by their creativity and partially by Ainsley's need for challenge & discovery, I started my own list of ways to use common household items as toys. It is in no way exhaustive nor do I claim to be the first to have thought of these things. Each day I think of something else, but I have not used all of these ideas yet. Feel free to both use my ideas and suggest your own!

  • Plastic kitchen serving/stirring spoon
  • Empty & clean individual size plastic juice bottle filled with pennies (or beads)
  • Empty, clear plastic hand soap dispenser filled with water (bath toy)
  • Nesting Tupperware containers
  • Tupperware container with a lid filled with pennies (or anything that makes noise)
  • Sponge & container to squeeze water into (bath toy)
  • Empty, clean diaper wipe container with a top that opens by pushing a button

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sparkling Names

I laughed out loud this morning on the way to work. As I passed a car dealership, the sign on the building caught my eye. It read, "Pre-Loved." I love it - I'm still laughing. Normally, I wouldn't think twice about any car in a lot, especially if we're not in the market for a new car. But today my interest was peaked by who might have previously loved each car in that lot.

The sign reminds me of the tendency of Amy Carmichael & Anne Shirley to give ordinary and plain places more imaginative names. Instead of "the bathroom or restroom", Amy called it The Place, creating mystery & politeness around something unremarkable. Barry's Pond became The Lake of Shining Waters to Anne, allowing the simple pond to take on a romantic and magical element.

It's the art of naming, a skill I don't possess - as illustrated by my scarecrow name poll!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Bit of Fall Nostalgia

Cooler temperatures have awakened my senses to the approaching fall. Somehow the light seems different - warmer and softer, rather than the harsh, beating sun of the summer. It's long-sleeve t-shirt and jeans weather - my absolute favorite! My nose is just tingling, waiting for those autumn smells - spiced apple cider, pumpkin bread, dew covered grass, warm apple pie, a wood burning fireplace.

Fall decor has been on my "to-do" and my shopping lists this past week. I found a very cheap small pumpkin the other day which made its home on the bookshelf in our entryway. Two other very cute miniature pumpkins nestled on my kitchen counter, but they needed one more friend. I decided a scarecrow would be perfect, and since I was planning on going out yesterday, thought it would be a good time to look for one. But then I remembered making rag dolls and rag rugs out of strips of leftover material when I was a kid. It's been many years since then; even so, my hands had an itching to try it again. So out came the big sewing tub and I began to dig through it, searching for pieces of fabric that would be long enough. Ainsley was playing on the floor with the toys I brought downstairs for her, but she wasn't really interested in them. Instead she discovered (again) the fabric that used to be my living room curtains which is now tossed under my sewing table. I don't usually let her play with it, but yesterday was different - it was crafting day. And she needed a "craft" as well. While I cut strips of cloth, Ainsley rolled around with that fabric, pulled it this way and that, and even caught her leg in it a couple times.

"Together" we created a rag doll scarecrow with a little set of overalls, patches included; a shirt; a handkerchief; and a straw hat. He took his rightful place by the two pumpkins on my kitchen counter. The only thing left to do is to give him a name. I'm terrible at giving names - really terrible. I think it took me at least a week to name my kitty once I brought him home and then I called him "Bashful", the complete opposite of what his personality turned out to be. So, I need some help - please vote in the poll to the left and help me name this little guy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Four Things - Belated

I was tagged by Emily a long while ago and forgot to post my Four Things. Here we go...

Four Things...

Four jobs I've had:
1. Babysitter
2. PretzelMaker worker
3. Church Youth Intern
4. Barista

Four movies I've seen more than once:
1. You've Got Mail
2. While You Were Sleeping
3. Aladdin
4. Pride and Prejudice (the long BBC version)

Four TV shows I watch:
1. The Office
2. CSI
3. Monk
4. Chuck

Four places I've been:
1. Thailand
2. Maine
3. Niagara Falls
4. Monaco

Four people who email me regularly:
1. My Mom
2. Brandi
3. Rosa
4. ??

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Cheese
2. Strawberries
3. Chicken
4. Dark Chocolate

Four things I'm looking forward to in the next year:
1. My 25th Birthday!
2. Ainsley's 1st Christmas
3. Fall
4. Christmas in Iowa

And now I'll tag Steph.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Weathermen were 100%

WRONG!!! (I know, I know...imagine that?!) Not only did we not get major storms or wind yesterday, but Ike didn't even pass over Dallas. It went to the East of us, leaving us with just a couple mild rain showers.

There are still plenty of people who were affected and could use your prayers for safety, quick cleanup & restoration of their property. Two of my cousins are in South Texas with my aunt & uncle waiting out the storm, and friends of ours have families' in the Houston area. Our prayers are with you!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hurricane Ike

Probably all of you know that there is a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico ravaging the coast of Texas. But did you know that experts anticipate North Texas being affected as well? Okay, you might think it would be obvious that we'd see the effects in some thunderstorms and windy days. What they are anticipating, though, seems to be a little worse than what Heath & I are accustomed to. When we first heard the news report a couple nights ago we were skeptical at best. The news report showed a lady with an emergency backpack. She explained what we would need if our electricity was out for several days.

Say, what?!!

That's right - a few days.

I still might have ignored the newscaster's advice had there not been something else that confirmed their story. Yesterday morning, I had emailed some girlfriends to see if anyone was up for hanging out today since Heath would be at class all day. At first, they were all gung-ho about doing something fun, but as the day wore on, emails trickled in...

"...I saw the weather report, and well, uh, maybe we should hold off on making plans."

"Yeah, it looks like it's going to hit around noon, so maybe this isn't such a good idea."

"Let's play it by ear."

Skepticism meets Worry. All of these girls are seasoned Texans and know much, much more about hurricanes than I do. Since the storm is supposed to hit us around noon or 1pm with the strength of a tropical storm, I decided it would be better to be safe than sorry. I made an "emergency" run to Walmart at 6:30 this morning. My goal - non perishable things to eat. Not my forte. I try to stay far away from packaged foods 1) because generally they aren't extremely healthy and 2) because if it's in the house I will eat all of it! I wandered the aisles of Walmart and here's what I left with:

Besides the food, I picked up a couple more candles and topped off my tank of gas. Of course, if the anticipated deluge of rain hits us, our street will be flooded, and my full tank of gas rendered useless. Heath filled up our giant camping water jug. Now we just wait. Mostly I hope we don't have to go without electricity for too long. Which reminds me, I better do some laundry, take a shower, and make coffee now, just in case.

All this fades in comparison to what the people of Houston & Galveston and all the cities in between are facing. Many of them had to evacuate their homes, leaving precious things behind and taking only a few essentials. And now they get to wait out the storm in some warehouse or gym with 300 other people. When I think of that and of what they might have left (or not have left) when they return to their homes, I'm ashamed of my worries, humbled, and ready to get on my knees for them.

"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
measured heaven with a span
and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?"

"Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us."

Isaiah 40:12; Psalm 62:8

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fabric, Fabric

Before Ainsley was born, I got a hankering to make her a baby quilt. You've probably seen it in the background of pictures we've posted, but here's a better look at it. Well, sort of a better look. As I was getting ready to take the picture, Ainsley decided I was having way too much fun without her.

I made another one for a friend at church who had a baby girl this summer, but it was more of the typical girl blanket. I didn't think to take a picture of it, but I think it turned out very pretty. Then last week, I made a third - this time for a friend in Iowa who is due mid-October to have a baby girl. This one was especially fun because I took Ainsley to the fabric store with me to pick out fabric. She sat so big in her stroller and enjoyed looking at all the brightly colored fabric. Anyway, here's the finished product. (And a note: their theme is more green & yellow and animals than pink & purple, so that's the direction I went with their blanket.)

I tend to have creative spurts, mostly because it costs money (not a lot, but still money). So whenever I get an excuse to make something new, I run with it! After I thought of making the most recent quilt, it was finished in 2 days and in the mail within a week. The downside of that is I'm back to not having a project to work on! Actually, that's not true - I have some photos of Ainsley that need to be scrapbooked...perhaps I'll work on that tonight!