Friday, October 30, 2009

Morning Musings

This morning I've been re-reading in one of my journals some notes I took in 2000 when our ladies bible study was reading Treasures of Encouragement by Sharon Betters. From chapter V I wrote: "If we refuse to spend time getting to know God, our ability to encourage others will be severely diminished in that it will be based on our own limited understanding of ourselves rather than on our understanding of God and on His unlimited understanding of us." And this: "The less time one has, the more carefully it should be managed. If you wait for free, convenient seasons in which to fulfill real duties, you run the risk of waiting forever."

I've spent a great part of my life waiting for what comes next. I've thought, "I'll be able to do ......when THIS is over." I've tried to train myself to stop this kind of thinking. Tomorrow isn't guaranteed. All we have is this moment. Do we really want to waste it by looking to a future that may never come?

The reason I did this is because whatever was happening in the present was too hard or too painful. So to make it bearable I would momentarily daydream about a better day. I'm not saying that's always wrong, but for me it kept me from dealing eye-to-eye with the present.

I also spent too much time reading for escape and not enough time reading Scripture and praying. This goes back to the first quote. We HAVE to make time in our schedules for God and His Word. It is imperative that we have daily quiet times BEFORE the children get up to set the tone for the day. If we wake up with them it seems like the rest of the day is spent playing catch up or doing damage control. Life should be more than just keeping them alive moment to moment!

This takes much discipline to get to bed early enough so that you can get up earlier than the children. The temptation is great to stay up for those quiet hours at night after everyone's gone to bed. But if the children are in bed by 7:30 or 8:00, then you'll have about two hours of quiet before you have to go to bed. That's when I soak in the tub with a good book, straighten the house, and plan for the next day. It's my favorite time of the day!

Try an experiment for a week or even half a week. You know about how much sleep you need each night to be functionable. For me it's about 6 1/2 hours a night with an hour's rest time in the afternoon when I sleep about fifteen minutes and rest and read. So figure out what time you want to get up. Be sure and allow a time of worship. Even fifteen minutes is better than nothing. More is even more beneficial.

Last thing at night, take a few minutes to plan on paper what you want to accomplish the next day. This will greatly increase your productivity. I know it works, because I've tried it both ways. If it's not on paper, I spend most of the morning just spinning my wheels not getting anything good accomplished.

I believe these things are THE KEY to being good homeworkers and mothers; a daily time of worship alone with God (preferably in the early morning before anyone else is awake), a disciplined bedtime for children and yourself, and planning the next day the night before. Try it for a few days and see if it doesn't make a big difference in your life. I've been living this way for thirty years and have no plans to change. This plan is good for all stages of a woman's life but especially the years with young children. Let me know how it works for you!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day #4 is also my Birthday!

I only found one thing today to get rid of, a bottle of champagne. I took it over to Laurel's house tonight where she was feeding us supper for my birthday. We never did get around to opening it. Maybe we should have given the wild ones a drink to calm them down! Just kidding!

Oh well, Laurel, we'll just have to have a girls' night out, watch Practical Magic, and drink champagne. Want to set a date?

Day 3 of Get Rid of Fifty Things

Today's five things were easy as I had been mentally going through my house while on vacation and picking them out. I'm numbering them differently than I have been in the last two posts. I've already gotten rid of eleven things, so I'm starting today with #12 which is a pink sweater-consignment shop. #13-A colander-I came home from mama's house with my grandma's-See if DIL wants it. #14-Messenger bag-Goodwill. #15-Generic milkglass vase-Goodwill or DIL. #16-Five assorted dishes out of my dining room cupboard-Goodwill. #17-A handful of jewelry-Goodwill.

I decided to do six things today. This is easier than I thought. I think I'm at a new level of decluttering. I really want to see things leave the house, so it's not that hard. Maybe toward the end it'll get harder?

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Bookgroup's Book for November

We're reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society for November. I'm loving this book. I've already written down several quotes I want to remember. Here's one: Have you ever noticed that when your mind is awakened or drawn to someone new, that person's name suddenly pops up everywhere you go? My friend Sophie calls it coincidence, and Mr. Simpless, my parson friend, calls it Grace. He thinks that if one cares deeply about someone or something new, one throws a kind of energy out into the world, and "fruitfulness" is drawn in.

I've had that happen to me many times. I've stopped thinking of it as coincidence. I don't believe in coincidence anyway, good Calvinist that I am. I think it's more of an awareness.

I'll post more later from this wonderful book. I wasn't sure where this island was located. I knew it belonged to England and was somewhere around the British Isles. Well, it's in the English Channel between England and France. I'd like to visit Guernsey some day. I have seen the cows from there. That has to count for something!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Second Day

Today I got rid of: 1. A school reader-Homeschool group
2. Concrete stepping stone-Goodwill
3. Microwave (it died)-Recycling
4. Large stainless bowl-Into seasonal storage
5. Black sweater-Laurel?
6. Wall decoration-Goodwill

That's a total of eleven things; 39 more to go. I'm going to take a week long break. We're headin' for the hills tomorrow. Yee haw! I'll still post (probably) if I have access to DSL but won't be home to declutter. Maybe I'll help Mama declutter her house.

Monday, October 19, 2009

First day of new project

Wow! I've decluttered to the point that I'm having a really hard time getting rid of anything else. Today is Day #1 of my new project Get Rid of Fifty Things. I'm aiming for five things a day. Here is what I've finally managed to come up with today and who I'll be giving it to. 1. Southern Living Magazine-recycling
2. Another magazine-send to Garrett
3. Computer Math game-Homeschool group
4. Book-Library or Goodwill
5. Handpainted glass pitcher-Sell on e-bay

I hope every day won't be this hard! Either I don't have much stuff left to get rid of or I still have too much and don't want to let it go. I'm leaning toward the latter. Uh oh! I'm in big trouble. Help me Laurel!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Fifty Things Project

I have a new dejunking project. It's called The Fifty Things Project. It's very simple; you get rid of fifty things. You can throw them away, donate to a worthy cause, or give them away. I'm starting in the morning. Anyone want to join me?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A New Bucket List

In the book Slow Time by Waverly Fitzgerald, one of the exercises is to make a "Life List". I prefer the name "Bucket List". Things you want to do before you kick the bucket; as in die.

Here's the beginning of my new list.
1. Go to Ireland
2. Be a published writer
3. Live for an extended time in Scotland
4. Own a vintage truck
5. Become a good watercolorist
6. Make a killer Victoria Sponge Cake
7. Make a Bakewell Tart
8. Make Cornish Pasties
9. Read Samuel Pepys Diary
10. Read the Life of Samuel Johnson by Boswell
11. Grind all my own grain-no more white flour
12. Bake bread consistently
13. Add gingerbread to the outside of our house
14. Go to Tuscany
15. Wear the cutest clothes ever

I could add --To save the homeless and find a cure for cancer, but I don't think that'll happen. Some of my things are quite small, but they're things I really want to do. And isn't that the point of a bucket list? What would be on your list?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

An Afternoon in my Life

Here's how I'm spending a rainy afternoon in Georgia.

Avoiding the housecleaner by hanging out in my studio

Listening to the rain on the tin roof of the studio

Reading new blogs

Drinking a mixture of sweet tea and Monavie

Packing a bag for my watercolors to use in the mountains next week

Wanting to go eat another delicious eggroll made by Laurel

Feeling the breeze made by the ceiling fan

Admiring the new curtain just hung on the door of the studio I made out of an old, white sheet

Looking forward to curling up under a flannel quilt on the couch with the 7th Outlander book

Dreading going out in the rain to take my car in for repairs

Anticipating nodding off over said Outlander book and taking a snooze

So I'd better go in the house and eat that eggroll, read that book, and take that nap. Toodles!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wisdom from an Eleven Year Old

This is fair week in our town. Tonight I took Darcie and a younger friend. I overheard Darcie giving her a piece of advice; something she has learned after many years as a fairgoer. She said, "When you go into the house of mirrors, DON'T RUN." And there you have it folks.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Encouraging Words

"Don't let life discourage you. Everyone who got where he is had to start where he was." Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Even though I don't agree with Emerson's theology (he was a Unitarian), he did say wise things from time to time.

I took this photo inside an Amish farmer's market looking out the window at two children on a wagon filled with boxes of produce. The market is in East Tennessee close to my parents' house. I had to sneak around and take pictures since the Amish are camera shy. That was fun!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Thoughts in Solitude

I'm back! I didn't realize it had been so long since my last post. Lots of things have happened since then, but I'll save them for another day.

Today I wanted to share a quote from Thomas Merton from his book Thoughts in Solitude. He says, "If you want to have a spiritual life you must unify your life. A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire."

I've been thinking a lot lately about the reasons why I do what I do. Why do I want to pursue photography? Why would I want a website showcasing my art? Why am I so weepy about Garrett leaving? God has really been shining a spotlight on my heart motives. I'm finding that motives have all kinds of things wrapped around them. It's like peeling an artichoke to find the center. The difference between my heart motives and an artichoke is that the artichoke is just an artichoke. You know what you'll find when you pull away the leaves. The leaves are pretty much all the same. Simple.

The heart though is wrapped up with pride, sin, lust, self-serving, anger, envy, etc. Thankfully, God peels back these wretched layers gently and slowly. Who could stand it otherwise? Our sin would overwhelm us.

I've gotten frustrated in the past about not being able to figure out my sense of unease over the art I try to produce. Other people seem to just be able to turn out piece after piece with nary an angstful thought. God's definitely trying to teach me something.

So I try to do those things I KNOW he's called me to do; take care of my home, love my husband and children, teach Darcie, be with my grandchildren, encourage my friends, be kind and patient to all, feed the hungry, etc. Then if there's any time left over, I try to do art. It's important but not as essential as the above listed things.

Lord, help me to be content with what you've called me to do. Forgive me when I envy others who seem to produce so effortlessly. Help my eyes focus on you, and if it be your will, provide me with opportunities to make beauty. May my motives be pure and my heart desire only what brings glory to You. Amen