I’ve been thinking a lot about busyness and slowing and all those big things that impact my everyday life. I’ve been thinking about contentment and rest and time and how hard that is to cultivate. I’ve been thinking about sorrow and pain and tears, because grief comes in waves. And I’ve been thinking about how quickly life passes by. The days, the hours, the minutes–they add up. And they are gone in an instant.
Maybe I’ll get the chance to write some of those thoughts down, to process, to try to understand. For now though, I want to take a step away from the turmoil to remind myself to be thankful for the many blessings in my life…
Home, temporary though it may be
Ginger, Chappy and my suggies
Family, near and far
Hot apple cider
Bright colored leaves
And last, but never least: God’s grace. It abounds.
Perspective is so important, especially when life is hectic and hard.
Even amid such great loss as we have experienced, even as we continue to grieve, we will be thankful.
Because God is good.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name
1 Chronicles 29:11-13
Thank you, Lord, for the blessings in our life–blessings among the heartache. We will never fully comprehend your ways, Lord, but we thank you for your love and care for us. We thank you for the saving grace of your Son. We thank you for those you have surrounded us with. We thank you for the richness you have bestowed upon our lives. For we are rich in blessings indeed.
I recently received an email advertising a new product–one email of the many, many I get every day. But this one caught my attention.
Hot apple dumplings at our local ice cream shop. And the picture…oh it was beautiful. A lovely baked apple inside a flaky crust with the perfect amount of ice cream on the side. I immediately wanted to head there with Husband at the next possible moment.
But then I realized something. Husband makes them for me. And why would I go buy something when Husband makes it even better?
And it’s not just once in a while, Husband and I have been enjoying hot apple dumplings at least once a week all fall…
So instead of yearning for something I don’t have, I think it’s time I just sit back and be grateful for the things that I am already blessed with.
Not sure exactly what you’d call it, but we’re celebrating! Today marks one whole year from the moment I decided to turn someday into today and take a stab at this blog. I started with a list of things I was thankful for in that moment, and in the spirit of tradition I think I’ll do it again (along with sharing a few of my fav photos from the year).
I started this little space as a place for my thoughts, both creative and introspective. I began this ritual because I needed a way to reflect, to recognize and celebrate the good and to process through the difficult. I have learned some valuable lessons–lessons on contentment, life, beauty and joy. I have learned to be where I am, in the moment I am in. To love that moment.
Family is something special…something to be held onto for all your worth, something to be treasured and cherished, something to be grateful for and never take for granted.
Ohio holds so many special memories for me–starting when my brother Peter moved there when I was just 16. I took my first solo road trip to Ohio for a long weekend visit. My sis-in-law and I spent days chatting, laughing, loving, watching movies in bed all afternoon and picking blueberries at a nearby farm. We discovered a great little coffee shop and the best pizza in town.
Over the years, my sweet memories of Ohio have grown. I helped Peter and Kelly move into their first house. I was there just two weeks after the twins were born to help with middle-of-the-night feedings. I helped my parents move to a nearby town and set up their new home. I lived there for a summer enjoying family time and taking the twins to their first ever Twinsfest in Twinsburg, OH.
I helped Peter and Kelly move to their second house. I slept all night with a very (very) sick 3-year-old in my bed when my sister-in-law went into early labor. I was there to visit little Sarah when she was mere hours old.
Ohio is where I got my first full-time, real career job as a newspaper reporter.
Ohio is where I rented my first apartment all by myself. And where I made life-long friendships, like my future maid of honor.
It’s incredible to think that all of the time I spent there doesn’t even add up to two years.
I love living in Virginia, but when I visit Ohio, there is something special waiting to greet me–family.
This time, I went to visit my newest little nephew, Peter James Jr. At two weeks old, he is the sweetest, most adorable and cuddly little thing. I spent hours just holding him…feeding him, burping him, changing him… I hardly let anyone else have a chance =).
I also spent precious hours entertaining my nieces, they grow so quickly when I’m not there! Little Sarah is talking in complete (or near complete) sentences now, instead of toddler gibberish that only parents understand. Abby and Julia are reading and writing on their own.
Next time I visit, little Peter will have changed so, so much. It makes my heart ache to realize how much I will miss. There are so many wonderful things about my life in Virginia that it’s easy to forget how much it’s lacking. Baby Peter won’t be a baby for long, and I dread missing that wonderful stage.
But for now, I carry with me the feel of his tiny body in my arms, the smell of his newborn skin, and the memories of a simply delightful visit with family.
I can’t say that I was looking forward to your arrival, but with the new leather bag Husband bought me to carry all my work “stuff” in, I am pleasantly surprised by my delight in packing my things to leave for work this morning. Amazing how an over-sized handbag can turn a day around.
Oh, what a wonderful ride we had! Let’s hope it stops raining sometime soon so we can do it again…
Thank you for holding off on Saturday so I could line dry my laundry, and thank you for arriving on Sunday. There’s really nothing like rainy day to make you stop all the craziness and just enjoy. Even if we did get seriously wet running in and out of stores yesterday. But at the same time, I’m not sure I really love the weather report…another week of you might be more than I can handle.
Thanks for Sunday. I know that I have to share you with the rest of the world Monday through Saturday, but I’m so glad that we set aside Sunday for us.
How swiftly you appear! Be gentle with me today, despite the joys of the weekend, life has a way of running me down.
Dear Oak Grove Lake Park,
Thank you for existing. I forget how much Ginger and I miss you when we neglect our walks. You were a delightful distraction on a lovely Sunday afternoon.
Thank you to all of you who spent precious moments and hours with us this weekend, new friends and now-better friends. I forget how much fulfillment friends bring to life. When I get so wrapped up in day-to-day life, activities, errands, and to-do lists, it escapes me how much we need community. But this weekend, several of you gave me a taste of what I have been missing lately. So thank you, for reminding me of the beauty of interpersonal interactions–the joy of just being in community with one another.
I truly hope you are having fun on your boys-only surf trip. But I think I’m ready for you to come home. Ginger is too.
Wasn’t the weekend lovely? Time spent sipping tea on the porch swing in the early morning hours. Waking to the lovely scent of honeysuckle wafting in through the open windows. Hard work put into the garden and flower beds to bring about beauty and simple joy.
Husband and I haven’t even revamped our budget for 2012 yet (I’ll let you know how it goes…), but one thing we know–we need to spend less. Oh, it’s not like we spend a lot. We don’t, actually. But we spend a little, here and there. We go clearance rack shopping on Sunday afternoons (Husband affectionately calls it “hopscotching”). We can always think of just one more thing we need for the house.
But it’s time to stop. It’s time to get serious about not spending. And, really, that means it’s time to get serious about “things.”
Husband likes to point out all of the “stuff” we have in our house. And as I have already stated, I am on a mission to purge this month…year…or however long it takes. But really? Much of our “stuff” is what makes our home, home. It’s the furniture, the cooking supplies, the little knickknacks, the dishes and vases and things we use to host and make our home a welcoming, restful place for others.
And the blankets, movies, slippers, books, and things that make our home a welcoming, restful place for us.
None of that is bad.
But God has taught me a valuable lesson over the past few years as I have collected these things, moved several times and built several nests. I can’t hold on to any of it too tightly.
I can’t grip MY things for all I am worth. The Lord has blessed me (and Husband) with more than we need to set up our home and open it to others. And really, it all still belongs to Him. So, in the end, it really isn’t mine to hold onto anyway–I’m just the steward, taking care of it while it is in my home.
If God says give, I want to give. And I want to do it with a cheerful heart. So as Husband and I move into a new phase (a not spending phase), I pray that the Lord will keep me humble and accountable to that.
A headline struck me today, it was an article from USA Today titled “Why do we spend money on happiness we can’t afford?”. Do you see something wrong with this question? Because I do.
(Disclaimer: My comments about this have nothing to do with the content of the article, merely the headline…)
Can we ever “afford” happiness; is it really possible to buy happiness? I don’t think so. But this is the trap that Americans (and I admit, I myself) fall into over and over again. The black and white truth is that we cannot buy happiness! It’s not a commodity. And things, material items, can’t make us truly happy.
I believe that happiness is a feeling, the truth behind it is joy. And joy is something that we get from knowing that we are loved by God and redeemed through the blood of Christ.
So why do I and so many others think that buying just one more thing will bring us happiness?
Sure, we get an emotional high when we make a purchase, but why can’t we also get an emotional high from knowing that we are being responsible, frugal, self-disciplined when we choose NOT to make a purchase?
Husband and I have tried to mesh our desire for a comfortable, hospitable home and our slim budget by shopping clearance shelves for the little things and saving for the big purchases (like the leather loveseat and ottoman we recently bought at a liquidation sale for $300 or the antique trunk we found at an antique store in Ohio for $98 (which I just have to say, was actually under our budget)).
I find that the more I focus on the things in life that truly bring me happiness, joy and contentment, the less I feel the desire to spend, spend, spend.
So here are some of the things that are making me happy these days: