Angels

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I first started thinking about angels when I became a mother.  There were several times throughout the years when I would be rocking a brand new baby and notice that they were staring at something above me, something that I couldn’t see.  Even though I couldn’t see it I knew there was something, someone, there.

Those angels that my babies were staring at, they were never strangers to me.  In the beginning when I thought who it could be I often thought of my Granny.  She was the first of my grandmothers to die and I live in her house.  The house she died in is the same house where I was rocking my babies.  It made sense that she would want to return.

When Briella was born and I thought of the angles that were attending us it was Chris’s Grandma Joyce that came to mind.  She died when Chris’s dad was only 15 so none of us were ever able to meet her.  My sister-in-law had a baby two months later and told me she felt Grandma Joyce around her too.

angels 16x20If God is going to send angels to help us I don’t think it’s going to be a random soul who doesn’t know us.  It’s going to be our family members, someone who loves us and cares for us more than we can know.  I also don’t think angels only come to us when have new babies.  I think they are always there, helping us, comforting us, guiding us.  I imagine we would be shocked by the invisible army that surrounds.

Chris grandma died this week.  She lived on the other side of the country and he didn’t know her well.  Because he didn’t have a close relationship with her the sting of death didn’t hit him too hard but I know there are several people who are hurting.  I’m grateful to know that even though she is gone from this world she isn’t gone from us, we’ve simply gained another angel.

bkangelsPaintings by Brian Kershisnik: Top one titled “She will find what is lost.”  Bottom one titled “Angels”.

Photo credit

Simplifying

Last week my sister-in-law was over at my house.  I had watched her little girl for her and when she came to pick her up she sat down and stayed for awhile.  I sat down and tried to visit with her but the whole time I was feeling so anxious about all that I had to do.  I got up several times to clean things up or do this and that.  I just couldn’t sit and enjoy visiting with her.

The worst part about it is that I know she could tell that I was feeling that way.  She was waiting for some information from someone else before she could leave so it led to a little bit of an awkward situation.

So much about this has bothered me for the last week.  What bothers me the most is that I put a “to do list” above a person.  I care so much more for the people in my life, especially those that I am close to, than I do about having a clean house or dishes washed. Yet, in this instance I didn’t show that.  I let things to do become more important to me than a person to be loved.

For awhile now I have been almost constantly overwhelmed by all there is on my plate.  The daily house chores, raising kids, a church calling, being a wife, etc.  All things that are good or necessary but all take time.

In reality my life is less busy than many other women.  I don’t work or do much volunteering.  I don’t have a new baby and all the demands that come with them.  While my church calling takes time, there are definitely more time consuming callings.  In realizing this it has helped me to see that there are changes I can make, things that I can do better to help things run smoother at home.

Whenever stuff like this comes up I always think that I need to just simplify my life.  I hear that from blogs and books and it sounds so easy but then I try to implement it and realize that I don’t exactly know how to simplify.  Sure you get rid of stuff because if you have less stuff than it’s less to worry about but sometimes getting rid of stuff isn’t an option.

I learned a little bit about this while reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.  She talks about how we approach the things that cause us stress or anxiety.  Do we just try to tackle it after it’s there and always be reacting or do we take action and try to cut it off or limit it?  The example she gives in the book is the way two different people handle their email.  One women has a set time where she just dives into her email and tries to get it all taken care of but it usually takes her longer than she plans for.  Then there is a man who is proactive and tells people upfront to only email him if it’s important.  He takes other steps to limit the amount of emails that he gets so that he doesn’t have to spend a lot of his time on emailing.

I think this is another way of simplifying, finding ways to do something different so that we get a better result.  I have so much work to do in this area, so much simplifying that needs to be done.  This is going to be my focus for the next few months, simplifying my life.   It will take some time and will be a learning experience for me.  I tend to be one who reacts to life instead of acting but I hope to share some of what I learn here so that others can benefit as well.  Maybe we can all simplify together.

Being Grateful

theif of joyPhoto Credit

About a year ago I went to a photo editing class taught by the owner of my favorite local photography studio.   Since we were going to be editing photos one of the requirements for the class was to bring your own computer.  We have a laptop but it is old and s-l-o-w and we almost never use it.  Honestly, I didn’t even know if it worked.  Plus, it didn’t have the programs on it that I needed.  There was an option to bring your desktop to the class but I really didn’t want to do that.  The thought of taking it all apart at home, hauling it all the way there, putting it together there, then doing it all over again at the end of it was just daunting.  I was actually quite anxious over what to do.  I had wanted to go to the class for quite a while and it had never worked out.  Now that I could go, I didn’t have a computer.

As the class drew closer I decided to see if I could get the laptop to work.  I charged it up and over the next few days I was able to get it running and get the programs that I needed installed on it.  It seemed to be working.

The night before the class I prayed that the laptop would work.  It sounds kind of trivial now but it felt like a big deal at the time.  I believe that God loves us and is concerned about the little details of our lives.  I had wanted to learn more about editing for a long time and this was my chance.  So, I prayed that he would help me, that the laptop would work and that I would be able to participate in the class.

When I got to the class the next morning, I plugged the laptop in, turned it on and it worked perfectly.  It didn’t seem as slow and it was performing in every way I needed it to.  I was so glad.

After being in the class awhile I started looking around at the others and their computers.  There were mostly newer computers, several with a certain glowing fruit on top which mine doesn’t have.  Almost all were much thinner and sleeker than mine and I started to feel self conscious.  I was embarrassed about my old, fat, slow computer.

After feeling embarrassed for awhile I realized how crazy that was.  Minutes earlier I had been praying that the computer would just work, that I would be able to learn what I wanted to learn and participate in the class.  Now that I had those things it wasn’t enough.  I was no longer grateful for the answer to my prayer and that my desire for so long was being fulfilled, instead I was comparing myself to those around me and feeling inferior because I conceived what they had to be greater than what I had.

It was a great learning moment for me and I’ve reflected on it many times over the last year.  When I focused on what I had and how my situation was better than I had expected, I was grateful.  As soon as I started comparing my situation to others, I felt inferior and I lost the gratitude I was feeling.  It confirms the quote above by Theodore Roosevelt, comparison really is the thief of joy.

There will always be someone better than me, smarter than me, richer than me.  I’ll never have the latest and greatest technology.  {I currently use an iphone 3 for goodness sake.}  I will always be able to find some way that I am less than someone else if that is what I’m looking for. But none of that brings joy.

If instead, I focus on my own situation; how far I’ve come, how much I have, etc, that is where the gratefulness and joy will come in.  It’s not easy to do and I fail more than I succeed but I’m going to keep trying because I want to have a life filled with joy.

Legos and Hair Bows

DSC_7872colorWe brought the kids to Toys R Us on Saturday.  One of them got a toy for Christmas that needed to be exchanged and a few others had some money burning a hole in their pockets.  It took us much longer than I preferred to get out the door.  I don’t think it should take us 20 minutes to get ready to go but this time it did.  It didn’t help that when we were 5 minutes into our trip we discovered that the toy we needed to exchange was left at home so we had to go back and get it.

I was frustrated and upset.  I had a plan and now it was delayed.

This isn’t anything new for me.  Lately I feel like I live most of my life upset or annoyed.  I let the small annoyances in life linger and fester inside of me.

As I was driving to the toy store I was thinking about my attitude and the fact that it really wasn’t helping the situation.  Is it really worth being so angry about something so meaningless?  The fact that we were a half hour later than I hoped didn’t make any earth shattering ripples in our day but the way I treated my kids because of it definitely could.  We were going to the toy store whether I liked it or not.  I could either get over myself and let the kids have their fun and maybe enjoy myself too, or I could be ornery, frustrated and snippy at them the whole time which wouldn’t be fun for anyone.

I chose to get over myself.  I let the boys look at Lego sets for as long as they wanted.  I even got crazy and let Baby Girl stay out of the cart.  She wandered around the store, pulled everything off the shelf, showed it to me, then said, “I buy it.”  All with her hair in bows that she did herself.

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How can that not make you happy?

In the end, it was a successful trip. It wasn’t some grand memory that the kids will remember when they’re old.  It was simply a trip to the store where toys and candy were acquired.  One tiny step on the ladder of building a happy childhood for these kids I love so much and want the best for.  But it was definitely a success for me.  I showed myself that I can let go of those annoyances and let myself enjoy the moment even if everything hasn’t gone as planned.

And that is a something I will definitely use again because really, how often does life go as planned?

Learning Curve

Week #2 of my commitment to blog once a week and I’ve already learned a few things about myself:

  1. I procrastinate work much better with a deadline.  I’ve had all week to write a post to put up today and here I am on Wednesday afternoon, finally doing it.  You might think, “Hey, at least it isn’t Wednesday night.”  which is what I would be telling myself if I didn’t know what my afternoon/evening entailed and knew that this was the last possible moment I could write a post without staying up until all hours of the night.
  2. I tend to have a hard time focusing.  I sat down to write and all of the sudden I HAD to empty the garbage.  I’ve stuffed stuff into the full garbage can all morning but it wasn’t until that second that I simply couldn’t do anything else until the garbage was emptied.  Now that the garbage is emptied there is a messy desk calling my name.
  3. Sometimes I feel like I don’t have anything to say.  Even when I have a lot of thoughts on my mind, it’s hard for me to feel like anyone cares.  I kind of suck at social media for that reason too.  I look at Facebook and instagram all the time but rarely post anything on there.  I’m interested in what others are doing but I feel like people aren’t that interested in me.  Not in a “no one likes me, I have no friends” way but just in a “my life isn’t that interesting” way.
  4. I could clean my house all day everyday and it still would never be clean.  Yes, I know this has nothing to do with blogging but it’s just something I realized again today.  So, I’ve almost given up cleaning it at all.  If it’s never going to be clean than what’s the point right?
  5. I’m glad that only 2 people read this blog and they’re both my sisters.  Now I can post boring posts like this and not worry.

Committing

Back in October I went to a piano concert.  Some good friends of mine play and they invited me to a concert they were having so I went to support them.  I went alone and didn’t really think anything of it.  I thought it was just another event but it ended up being an amazing night for me.  The music was wonderful but even more wonderful was the inspiration that I gained.

While there I learned two important lessons, one of which I’d like to share with you today.  (Don’t worry, I plan on sharing the second lesson eventually.)  They had a story on the concert program about how the concert came about.  These 4 women all like to play the piano so they decided to get together and play with each other.  One of them has a room with 2 pianos in it so they set aside one night a week, meet at her house and play 2 piano duets together.  It’s late at night, after kids are asleep, homework is done and husbands are occupied but they make it happen.  They take the time for themselves to do something they enjoy and to use and build their talents.

I was also really inspired to see them up there on the stage.  They were up there doing something just because they enjoy it.  This concert wasn’t for any other reason.  They weren’t there for their husbands or kids although most of them were there supporting them.  They weren’t there as part of their church responsibilities or school volunteering or because they were getting paid.  They were simply there because they decided they would put on a concert to show the talent they have and the work that they’ve put into it.

The whole way home I thought about how I could take the example of my friends and use it to better myself.  I finally thought about writing/blogging.  It’s something that I enjoy and have wanted to get back into but just haven’t made the time for.  I’m in the same stage of life as most of these women so I know we face the same kinds of things on a daily and weekly basis but they make time once a week to do something that they love.

The last year or so I have actually been thinking and dreaming of what I want to be when I grow up.  I’ve never longed for a career.  I always wanted to stay home with my children and I am blessed that it is happening for me.  So, a career was never really in the plan but now I have dreams that I hope to fulfill and I think blogging can help me get there.  So 3 months after the piano concert experience, I’m finally committing to coming back to blogging.  I’m starting small and only committing to one post a week but considering it’s been almost a year since my last post that is big for me.

I hope you will join me for the ride.

 

Recipes

For awhile now I’ve been trying to cut processed sugar out of my diet.  It was really eye opening when I started looking for sugar and found it in places I never would have thought of.  Things like canned tomatoes, canned chick peas, chicken broth, taco seasoning, etc.  I realized quickly that if I still wanted to enjoy certain foods I was going to have to make them at home.  I have come up with a few recipes that I like and use often and I am frequently trying to come up with refined sugar free substitutes for some of our favorite foods.  The only problem is that most of my recipes look like this…

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My chicken scratch on scratch paper that Baby B wrote on with a pencil.  So, I decided I needed a better place to keep them and I might as well share them with you.  Today the lucky winner is Taco seasoning.  I used to buy the big jar of McCormick from Costco but alas, it has sugar in it.  I’ve tried several recipes that I found online but none of them tasted like what we were used to.  So, I made up my own using the list of ingredients on the McCormick bottle.  I think it tastes pretty similar and will most likely be the only thing I use now.

DSC_1420colorTaco Seasoning

1 Tbl chili powder

1 teas cumin

1 teas onion powder

1 teas garlic salt

3/4 teas paprika

1/2 teas oregano

Mix it all together and use it how you use any other taco seasoning.  I actually kept my empty McCormick jar and tripled this recipe then mixed it all up in the jar.  It is so easy and almost as quick as buying taco seasoning from the store.