Sometimes, something so ordinary becomes for a moment something exquisite and extraordinary. Like this water glass on my desk. Nothing special until suddenly, a ray of sun sent these amazing and unexpected reflections across the desk in front of me. Who knew that a simple clear water glass could produce such a myriad of pattern and light!
29 May 2008
What lovely weather we have been having! Temperatures in the upper 60's, sunny without a cloud in the sky and just the right touch of breeze to keep it comfortable! I'm really hoping that we have seen the last of the snow. Hoping, hoping hoping! After all, it IS the end of May and June is nearly upon us!
With the nice weather, I decided it was time to do the spring cleaning on the patio. I even broke down and purchased some petunias for one of the pots. It's still pretty cold at night, so I may need to bring them in at night. The white and purple pansies were planted at Easter. They have done well despite the occasional snow. In another week or two, I'll plant the rest of the pots.
The statuary all came with me from my Colorado garden. When I lived in Iowa for 2 years, they stayed inside with me as I didn't have any outdoor space there. The St. Francis statue is so serene and peaceful. I bought him after our fire and he has been bringing me peace ever since. The bunnies, well, what can I say, I just love bunnies! They make me smile!
I also checked another big item off my to-do list. Got the storage shed cleaned and organized. Put up the new shelves which should make a wonderful difference in that I won't have to move everything to get to something! What a dusty dirty job getting it cleaned out was! And to think I had cleaned it in the autumn before the weather turned. Both the patio and the storage shed seem to accumulate all the windblown bits of old leaves and dirt. Nice to have it all clean, though from the photo above, I can see that my next chore is to wash the windows! And see if I can scrub some of the stains off the concrete. The apartment complex is in the midst of painting our building, so I think I'll wait until they are done.
I also was able to put up my big platform bird feeder! The ground was soft enough from our recent rain and snow that I was finally able to dig the hole for the post! I'm excited to have it as some of the larger birds that won't come to my hanging feeders will enjoy this one! And since my sister has been getting hummingbirds at her feeders, I thought I'd better get my hummingbird feeder up too. So lovely to have everything looking so neat and clean!
27 May 2008
I love lists! It is so gratifying to be able to go down the list and see exactly what needs to be accomplished and then mark them off. I love seeing all those items crossed off! Such a satisfying feeling! Here is my list for this stretch of days off.
1) Go scrapbooking with my sister. Well the scrapbooking event we were going to attend was cancelled, so we scrapbooked at my house instead. Check!
2) Memorial Day BBQ at my sister's. Check! It was somewhat hampered by the fact that we had 7 inches of snow over the weekend! Not exactly what I wanted to see at this time of year but the moisture is lovely. We did have a nice time socializing inside and the hamburgers and hotdogs done on the grill outside were just as yummy as if it had been a gorgeous day.
3) Finish sewing new dress from thrifted pattern. Check! The pattern altered well to meet my needs and I was able to nearly complete a work apron to go with it! Hope to post pictures of it in a day or two along with a second one!
4) Go to the Post Office to mail this lovely little Flower Fairy Dotee to its new owner in Illinois. Check!
5a) Meet my sister at the storage locker to transfer all my garage sale stuff (3 full pickup truck loads!) to her garage and 5b) get it priced so she and my brother-in-law can sell it at their annual neighborhood garage sale next weekend. Check! Check! Thankfully by Monday, the snow was all melted and the temperatures warmed back up into the 50's, so this ended up being a somewhat pleasant task! I'm so blessed to have such a generous sister and brother-in-law to help me all this as I have to work and will likely not be able to be there to help.
Getting that done led to the next item being possible.
6a) Rent smaller storage locker, 6b) move stuff and 6c) clean out old storage locker. Check! Check! Check! The added bonus is that it is less than half the cost! More funds to use towards debt reduction!
7) Move exercise bike from storage locker to the apartment to assist me in my weight loss efforts. Check! Once again, thanks to my sister and BIL!
Still have a few things to do before I go back to work at the end of the week.
8) Clean and rearrange the storage shed at the apartment using the new shelves I purchased.
9) Exchange my old cell phone for a new one as I have reached my service "anniversary."
10) Make Eye Dr. appointment. My eyes are getting old and I need new glasses both for distance and now also for working on sewing projects.
11) Make appointment with the Chiropractor. Last week while I was fixing my hair with my arms held overhead, I felt and heard a popping sound in my neck and shoulder and now my shoulder and arm are in pain all the time.
12) Make an appointment with the Dermatologist for a skin check up. I have such fair skin and am starting to get "spots". While I think they are just signs of me getting a little older, I need to get them checked out.
13) Call the antique dealer to come take a look and make me an offer on the last of the stuff I want to get rid of in my storage locker.
Don't you just love getting things done? I sure do!
22 May 2008
My mother writes, "Lisa should be here. The lilacs are all in bloom."
And so I should. Lilac season embodies all my dreams. Sadly, in the mountains of northern Arizona, the vageries of weather prevent most of the lilacs from blooming. This year, they were all frozen out by our late snows. The above picture was of a lovely bouquet of lilacs cut from my mother's yard a few years ago.
The scent of lilacs is by far my favorite scent and for years has been my signature scent above all others. Unfortunately my favorite one, French Garden Flowers ~ Lilac, is no longer in production so I hoard each drop and save it for extra special occasions or when my spirits need a lift. I've tried several other lilac scents, but none comes as close to the pure lilac scent as this one.
When I owned my own home, I planted many lilacs and studied and read up on them. "Lilacs, The Genus Syringa" by Fr. John L. Fiala is the lilac 'Bible'. For now, I'll have to satisfy my lilac cravings by perusing its lovely photographs.
20 May 2008
In my reading today, I came across this bit of writing by Robert Boyd Munger that I had read many years ago. As I've been going room to room in my physical home with similar thoughts at times, it was humbling to read this and realize I've been paying much more attention to my physical surroundings than to my inner landscape. I think my heart needs a little housecleaning and downsizing as well.
My Heart, Christ's Home
by Robert Boyd Munger
One evening I invited Jesus Christ into my heart. What an entrance He made! It was not a spectacular, emotional thing, but very real. Something happened at the very center of my life. He came into the darkness of my heart and turned on the light. He built a fire on the hearth and banished the chill. He started music where there had been silence, He filled the emptiness with His own loving, wonderful fellowship. I have never regretted opening the door to Christ and I never will.
In the joy of this new relationship I said to Jesus Christ, "Lord, I want this heart of mine to be Yours. I want to have You settle down here and be perfectly at home. Everything that I have belongs to You. Let me show you around."
The first room was the study--the library. In my home this room of the mind is a very small room with very thick walls. But it is a very important room. In a sense it is the control room of the house. He entered with me and looked around at the books on the bookcase, the magazines upon the table, the pictures on the walls. As I followed His gaze I became uncomfortable.
Strangely, I had not felt self-conscious about this before, but now that He was there looking at these things I was embarrassed. Some books were there that His eyes were too pure to behold. On the table were a few magazines that a Christian had no business reading. As for the pictures on the walls--the imaginations and thoughts of the mind--some of these were shameful.
Red-faced I turned to Him and said, "Master, I know that this room needs to be cleaned up and made over. Will You help me make it what it ought to be?"
"Certainly!" He said. "I'm glad to help you. First of all, take all the things that you are reading and looking at which are not helpful, pure, good and true, and throw them out! Now put on the empty shelves the books of the Bible. Fill the library with Scripture and meditate on it day and night. As for the pictures on the walls, you will have difficulty controlling these images, but I have something that will help." He gave me a full-size portrait of Himself. "Hang this centrally," He said, "on the wall of the mind."
THE DINING ROOM
From the study we went into the dining room, the room of appetites and desires. I spent a lot of time and hard work here trying to satisfy my wants. I said to Him, "This is a favorite room. I am quite sure you will be pleased with what we serve."
He seated Himself at the table with me and asked, "What is on the menu for dinner?" "Well," I said, "my favorite dishes: money, academic degrees and stocks, with newspaper articles of fame and fortune as side dishes." These were the things I liked--secular fare. When the food was placed before Him, He said nothing, but I observed that He did not eat it. I said to Him, "Master, don't You care for this food? What is the trouble?"
He answered, "I have food to eat that you do not know of. If you want food that really satisfies you, do the will of the Father. Stop seeking you own pleasures, desires, and satisfaction. Seek to please Him. That food will satisfy you."
There at the table He gave me a taste of the joy of doing God's will. What flavor! There is no food like it in the world. It alone satisfies.
THE LIVING ROOM
From the dinning room we walked into the living room. This room was intimate and comfortable. I liked it. It had a fireplace, overstuffed chairs, a sofa, and a quite atmosphere. He said, "This is indeed a delightful room. Let us come here often. It is secluded and quite, and we can fellowship together."
Well, as a young Christian I was thrilled. I couldn't think of anything I would rather do than have a few minutes with Christ in close companionship. He promised, "I will be here early every morning. Meet Me here, and we will start the day together."
So morning after morning, I would come downstairs to the living room. He would take a book of the Bible from the case. We would open it and read it together. He would unfold to me the wonder of God's saving truths. My heart sang as He shared the love and grace He had toward me. These were wonderful times.
However, little by little, under the pressure of many responsibilities, this time began to be shortened. Why, I'm not sure. I thought I was too busy to spend regular time with Christ. This was not intentional, you understand. It just happened that way. Finally, not only was the time shortened, but I began to miss days now and then. Urgent matters would crowd out the quite times of conversation with Jesus.
I remember one morning rushing downstairs, eager to be on my way. I passed the living room and noticed that the door was opened. Looking in, I saw a fire in the fireplace and Jesus was sitting there. Suddenly in dismay I thought to myself, "He is my guest. I invited Him into my heart! He has come as my Savior and Friend, and yet I am neglecting Him."
I stopped, turned and hesitantly went in. With downcast glance, I said, "Master, forgive me. Have You been here all these mornings?" "Yes," He said, "I told you I would be here every morning to meet with you. Remember, I love you. I have redeemed you at great cost. I value your friendship. Even if you cannot keep the quite time for your own sake, do it for mine."
The truth that Christ desires my companionship, that He wants me to be with Him and waits for me, has done more to transform my quiet time with God than any other single fact. Don't let Christ wait alone in the living room of your heart, but every day find time when, with your Bible and in prayer, you may be together with Him.
Before long, He asked, "Do you have a workroom in your home?" Out in the garage of the home of my heart I had a workbench and some equipment, but I was not doing much with it. Once in a while I would play around with a few little gadgets, but I wasn't producing anything substantial.
I led Him out there. He looked over the workbench and said, "Well, this is quite well furnished. What are you producing with your life for the Kingdom of God?" He looked at one or two little toys that I had thrown together on a bench and held one up to me. "Is this the sort of thing you are doing for others in your Christian life?" "Well," I said, "Lord, I know it isn't much, and I really want to do more, but after all, I don't seem to have strength or skill to do more."
"Would you like to do better?" He asked. "Certainly," I replied. "All right. Let me have your hands. Now relax in me and let my Spirit work through you. I know that you are unskilled, clumsy and awkward, but the Holy Spirit is the Master Workman, and if He controls your hands and you heart, He will work through you." Stepping around behind me and putting His strong hands under mine, He held the tools in His skilled fingers and began to work through me. The more I relaxed and trusted Him, the more He was able to do with my life.
THE REC ROOM
He asked me if I had a rec room where I went for fun and fellowship. I was hoping He would not ask about that, There were certain associations and activities that I wanted to keep for myself.
One evening when I was on my way out with some buddies, He stopped me with a glance and asked, "Are you going out?" I replied, "Yes." "Good," He said, " I would like to go with you." "Oh," I answered rather awkwardly." "I don't think, Lord Jesus, that you would really enjoy where we are going. Let's go out together tomorrow night. Tomorrow night we will go to a Bible class at church, but tonight I have another appointment."
"I am sorry," He said. "I thought that when I came into your home, we were going to do everything together, to be close companions. I just want you to know that I am willing to go with you." "Well," I mumbled, slipping out the door, "we will go someplace together tomorrow night."
That evening I spent some miserable hours. I felt rotten. What kind of friend was I to Jesus, deliberately leaving Him out of my life, doing things and going places that I knew very well He would not enjoy?
When I returned that evening, there was a light in His room, and I went up to talk it over with Him. I said "Lord, I have learned my lesson. I know now that I can't have a good time without You. From now on, we will do everything together." Then we went down into the rec room of the house. He transformed it. He brought new friends, new excitement, new joys. Laughter and music have been ringing through the house ever since.
THE HALL CLOSET
One day I found Him waiting for me at the door. An arresting look was in His eye. As I entered, He said to me, "There is a peculiar odor on the house. Something must be dead around here. It's upstairs. I think it is in the hall closet."
As soon as He said this, I knew what He was talking about. There was a small closet up there on the hall landing, just a few feet square. In that closet, behind lock and key, I had one or two little personal things that I didn't not want anyone to know about. Certainly, I did not want Christ to see them. I knew they were dead and rotting things left over from the old life. I wanted them so for myself that I was afraid to admit they were there.
Reluctantly, I went up with Him, and as we mounted the stairs the odor became stronger and stronger. He pointed to the door. I was angry. That's the only way I can put it. I had given Him access to the library, the dining room, the living room, the workroom, and now He was asking me about a little two-by-four closet. I said to myself, "This is too much. I am not going to give Him the key."
"Well," he said, reading my thoughts, "if you think I'm going to stay up here on the second floor with this smell, you are mistaken. I will go out on the porch." Then I saw Him start down the stairs.
When one comes to know and love Christ, the worst thing that can happen is to sense Him withdrawing His fellowship. I had to give in. "I'll give you the key," I said sadly, but You will have to open the closet and clean it out. I haven't got the strength to do it."
"Just give me the key," He said. "Authorize me to take care of that closet and I will." With trembling fingers I passed the key to Him. He took it, walked over to the door, opened it, entered, took out all the putrefying stuff that was rotting in there, and threw it away. Then He cleaned the closet and painted it. It was all done in a moment's time. Oh, what victory and release to have that dead thing out of my life!
TRANSFERRING THE TITLE
A thought came to me. "Lord, is there any chance that You would take over the management of the whole house and operate it for me as You did that closet? Would You take the responsibility to keep my life what it ought to be?"
His face lit up as He replied, "I'd love to! That is what I want to do. You cannot be a victorious Christian in you own strength. Let me do it through you and for you. That is the way. But, "He added slowly, "I am just a guest. I have no authority to proceed, since the property is not mine."
Dropping to my knees, I said, "Lord, You have been a guest and I have been the host. From now on I am going to be the servant. You are going to be the owner and Master." Running as fast as I could to the strongbox, I took out the title deed to the house describing its assets and liabilities, location and situation. I eagerly signed the house over to Him alone for time and eternity. "Here," I said. "Here it is, all that I am and all that I have, forever. Now You run the house. I'll just remain with You as a servant and friend."
Things are different since Jesus Christ has settled down and has made His home in my heart.
16 May 2008
Once upon a time there was a young girl who loved tea parties. One summer, all her friends came over with their dolls and everyone dressed up in fancy dresses and bonnets and they had a splendid tea party.
Shortly after this event, a lovely elderly lady who took delight in these events decided to give her childhood tea set to the young girl. The girl remembers that day as a bright and shining day in her childhood. She remembers climbing the steps to the large veranda of the Victorian house with her mother. Inside the home, there were ornate chairs. Lace and velvet draperies hung at the windows. Gone-with-the-wind lamps graced the tables. For the young girl it was a lovely glimpse into a lifestyle grace and elegance.
The tea set was brought out. It was so beautiful. Delicate white porcelain painted with roses in shades of pink and gold. The edges were trimmed in gilt. The young girl was beyond herself with delight! It was a magical gift!
All through her childhood, on special occasions, the tea set, which was usually carefully stored away in a purple box, was brought out and used. When the girl grew up she lovingly displayed it in her china cabinet. And on special occasions, the grown girl delighted in making tiny treats to serve with cambric tea to her own children. And so the tea set became a part of her children’s memories too.
Then tragedy struck in the form of a house fire. As in the rest of the house, nearly everything in the china cabinet was destroyed but by chance, most of the tea set survived though it was crusted in tough black soot and the painted decorations stained. The grown girl was heartbroken that the tea set was so damaged. But she packed it away, soot and all to save for when she had more heart to salvage it.
Sometime later, the box with the tea set was brought out and the pieces set to soak. The beautiful painted decorations dissolved into nothingness and what little gilt remained was heavily impregnated by soot. But the woman lovingly and carefully scrubbed away at each tiny piece until the porcelain shown bright and clean and tiny areas of gilt emerged.
The girl, as you may have guessed, is myself. I received the set around 1962 from the lovely Mrs. Pike who was in her 80’s at the time so the tea set likely dates to the 1880’s or 1890’s. The set had been Mrs. Pike's as a young girl.
Today the tea set still gives me delight and is one of my cherished possessions! The original set had 6 teacups and saucers, 4 plates, a teapot, creamer and sugar bowl. Before I received the set, one cup was lost. In our fire, the creamer was damaged beyond repair and one of the remaining teacups cracked. I suspect that the 4 plates were not part of the original set as the pattern and quality does not match that of the tea set. Since the fire, I have added small butter pat plates to the set. They are the perfect size to compliment it!
If anything, the tea set is more beautiful than ever to me. The pristine white allows the embossed designs to shine. A history of the tea set’s cherished use through the years of use is evident in the small scratches and worn places that are now permanently stained by soot. And once again, the tea set graces my china cabinet.
15 May 2008
While in Colorado, I picked up some lovely crushed velvet vanilla colored ribbon. My mother let me go through her sewing stuff and take what I liked from her stash and one of the lovely things I came up with was a whole bags of lovely pearls in a luscious rosy ecru color. Just the thing to begin a little embellishing with!
I also pulled out the stash of silk ribbons and embroidered this little spray of flowers freehand.
Such fun to watch this block grow and evolve! It's definitely the most creative thing I've ever done with embroidery and quilting! At the rate I'm going, I figure it will be July or later before it's actually done. If you think I'm ambitious, you must go take a look at the amazing spring crazy quilt that Allie is doing! She works so fast and does such amazing work! Inspiring!
13 May 2008
If April showers bring May flowers, what does snow in May bring? The forcast was for rain but snow is what we received instead! The moisture is always good to have in this dry country in northern Arizona, but I must admit that I would have prefered rain to snow!
Standing outside to take this picture in the post-dawn light, everything was silent except for the echoing sound of a Lewis Woodpecker hammering on a nearby dead tree trunk in a search for food or to build a home. During the winter, he came to visit the suet feeder on a daily basis . The Lewis Woodpecker is a stunning bird, very large, and from a distance, black and white. During the winter he had a bright pink belly but now it has turned a brilliant raspberry red. I keep the binoculars handy to watch him in the trees. I haven't been able to take a picture myself, but you can see pictures here at the "Field Guide: Birds of the World pool on Flickr.
08 May 2008
At the beginning of the year, I set 5 goals that I hoped to achieve. Now that the year is one third completed, it seems a good time to revisit those goals and evaluate how I’m doing. I must admit that I had hoped by this point to be making good progress towards all of them, but instead I find that only two of the five are actually being met and the other three, well, let’s just say that I’m dismally behind from where I thought I'd be.
Here are the goals and where I’m at currently and my plans to get back on track.
- To pay off my credit card and student loans.
~ I’ve been making monthly payments, but not putting aside the extra towards these that is needed in order to reach this goal.
~ I need to return to frugal living, buying NOTHING that isn’t absolutely necessary.
~ The remaining amount to pay off is more than I can do in 7 months. I need to extend this goal until May 1, 2009. I need to commit more each month to debt relief in order to make this happen. Doable, but it will be “snug”.
- To lose 20 or more pounds (I'm setting a small goal here that should be more reachable ~ if I can lose more ~ what a bonus and blessing that will be!)
~ I GAINED 5 pounds ~ yikes! Dismal failure! I try to eat well, but when alone, have a tendency not to fix regular meals and binge on stuff I shouldn’t. And I definitely don’t get enough exercise.
~ I joined a 10,000 steps program with my sister. I regularly reach about 5,000 steps when working, but I need to do that at a minimum on days I don’t work. I need to start walking to work again. I’m also planning to start shopping at a grocery store that is within walking distance. Should help increase my exercise level and keep me from buying extras I don’t need.
~ I need to plan my meals and not buy unhealthy items. I need to stick to the meal plan!
- To visit the family in Colorado.
ACCOMPLISHED! And it is possible that I’ll be able to make another trip at the end of the summer.
- To visit with my Posie friends.
Nearly accomplished! Plane ticket has been purchased for the end of June! Can’t wait to see my dear friends!
- To maintain a routine of daily prayer and scripture reading
~ Not as good as I would like. At the moment, it’s only happening about once or twice a week. I need to make more effort here. When I do it, I am more at peace in my life and I see the fruits of it in my children and those around me.
Most of these issues have to do with self-discipline, something I often have difficulty with. I’d much rather play with arts and crafts than do the things needed to make life run smoothly on a daily basis. I can see that I need to re-evaluate a little more often, so am planning to do this at the end of June again. I also can see that I need to add a couple of additional goals.
- Purchase a new lap-top computer.
My current laptop is nearly 9 years old and showing signs of aging and imminent demise. I'm hoping it will hang on until I can replace it!
- Continue with Downsizing efforts.
I did lots of work getting things sorted and separated, but still haven't actually gotten rid of most of it. I'm also ready for phase two, downsizing what I have in my apartment. The eventual goal is to have NO need for a storage locker. While close, I can't yet do that with what I have at the moment, so I need to keep working towards having less stuff. Mostly I need to get rid of craft stuff and fabric (and a loom), seasonal decorations I no longer use, books and DVDs.
~ I purged my closet today of clothes I haven't worn for a while. Next is downsizing my overly large collection of DVDs.
- Return to oil and watercolor painting.
I've been spending huge amounts of time on crafts for swaps. I've had a lot of fun with it and enjoyed trying some new things. I'd like to continue a few swaps here and there, mostly private ones, and devote more time instead to painting.
Achieving goals takes time. Along the way, I am forging a new way of living for myself. The journey has ups and downs, but overall, I can see that I am making slow but steady progress.
07 May 2008
Each year I wait expectantly for the apple trees to bloom. When the breeze wafts their scent far and wide and the trees wear lovely gowns of white and pink, I know that spring has truely come. To look up and see the bright green leaves and perfect petals against a clear blue sky and feel the sun on my face brings me a light heart filled with joy that is matched by few other things. Imagine my delight then to be in Colorado at the height of bloom!
My parents live on the side of a mesa overlooking Boulder Valley . Each day, the landscape became more green and the flowering trees filled it with bits of color. It was a lovely time to be there!
All around my parents yard, things were blooming in abundance! What fun to wake early in the morning before the household was awake and the first rays of sun were streaking across the hillside lighting up the grass and trees. I spent many early mornings outside enjoying the sights and sounds of spring!
The apple blossoms were my favorites, but there were other beauties too, like these beautiful blue forget-me-not like flowers.
And the flowering quince with it's intense coral orange color.
03 May 2008
Having the opportunity to visit with my family and have all the kids together at one time is such a joy! Allow my to introduce my children! From left to right is my oldest son the Cowboy and his partner the Horse Trainer, my son the Marine and his wife, the Vet Tech, my daughter , the Seamstress, my foster son the Youth Pastor, and my youngest son the Artist.
While enjoying time with my family occupies most of my time, I rise early enough in the morning to have a few hours to myself before everyone else is awake. It makes for lovely crafting time and so I've been working on my art journal. I love it when everything comes together and turns out even better than I had hoped! A while back I did a page on my least favorite color ~ orange. Yesterday I completed a two page spread on one of my favorite colors ~ shades of white/cream/ivory. I'm so happy with it! What makes it even more fun for me is having the opportunity to include things from my Mom like the pressed flowers she made and buttons from her button box, the lace trim from a close friend, bits of wallpaper and scrapbook paper from a swap, silk ribbon from my embroidery basket, ephemera from my sister and charms from my scrapbooking supplies. I almost wish I had done this on something different so I could hang it on the wall!