Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Surprise Landing

I was standing on the porch the other day and looked down to admire my Simple shoes. There was this pretty butterfly on my jeans. It stayed there while I went into the house, got my camera, and snapped the pic.

I don't just randomly walk around looking at my cute shoes. I'm usually in flip flops. I was headed to town to look for some boyfriend jeans. I know you've seen them. They're kind of baggy with rolled up cuffs. I looked in several stores to no avail. I went to Goodwill and what did I find? This pair of Ralph Lauren jeans for $5.00. They are exactly what I was looking for. Can't beat that with a stick!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Autumn Equinox

I was just now sitting here reading a few blogs before going to bed, and realized through their writings that today is the first day of autumn. I can't believe I almost missed it!

Today didn't turn out at all like I expected. I spent two hours this morning Skypeing with my son in Iraq, so I didn't get any more work done on my upcoming photo exhibition. That's okay though. I haven't talked to him in ages, so it was good to hear AND see him. What a wonderful invention! I can't believe I waited until a week before he'll be home to get it.

Then early afternoon I got really tired and nauseated and rested the rest of the day. I watched Grey Gardens on the instant play feature on Netflix, another great invention.

I also started reading Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge, one of my all-time favorite authors. I've wanted to read it for a long time. I think there's a movie, too.

So before going to bed, I'll sit on the porch swing for a few minutes in the light of an almost full moon and pray that Garrett gets home quickly and safely. After we talked, he e-mailed me and said that there's been a big sandstorm there which has delayed all flights. That means they've all been pushed back a few days. I'll find out tomorrow when he'll get to leave.

And I'll thank God for all my blessings and hope I'm able to go to church in the morning.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Upcoming Photography Exhibit

I took this self-portrait with my camera mounted on a tripod and a timed shutter release. I would depress the button to take the photo, run and get into place, and wait to hear it click. I had it set for sixteen seconds; long enough for me to get into place.

It took about twenty tries before I finally got a good one. I had to make sure the railing wasn't reflecting in the glass. The grass was reflected, but I tilted the photo to where the grass's reflection was where the field was in the photo. In the real photo the foreground isn't green. Clever of me to work out the problem in this way, wasn't it?

The reason for the self-portrait is that I've been asked to be in the main gallery of our local art center for six weeks beginning October 8. The other photographer that was scheduled to do it backed out at the last minute. So they called me. I said, "Yes, of course!"

I'm very excited about being in the main gallery. I have to put together thirty works in two weeks. Fortunately, I have quite a stockpile, so I have half ready to go. The other half has to be enlarged, framed, or handtinted.

"What is handtinting?" you may ask. It's when I take a black and white photograph and paint over it with translucent oil paints. It's ethereal, old-fashioned looking, and very subtle. I'll have about three or four of them in the show. I'll show you one when I finish it.

I'm meeting with my personal photo enlarger dude in the morning to tell him what I want done to the images. And then it's off to Hobby Lobby to buy frames at 50% off. Good timing on their part!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Praying, Scheduling, and Thinking

"To do the work that I am given to do, I am going to need to do some homework. I am going to need to do some thinking and wondering and studying about my gifts and my talents. I am going to need to be sure that what I do with my hands actually comes from and nurtures my heart. I am going to have to examine its effects upon others and how it fits into the kingdom that has already come. And I am going to have to be clear about why I am doing it and my hopes and my dreams.

To have the rest--for my spirit and my mind and my body--that is needed to live a life that does not eat me alive, I am going to have to plan the ways in which I spend my days. I am going to have to make choices about time and attention, and about habits and diets and schedules and such. I am going to have to set aside days on my calendar to go away and be silent, and days to go and listen to those who can show me the Way. I am going to have to learn what Sabbath actually means and how to live it in my life.

To participate in the community of those to whom I have been given and who have been given to me, I am going to have to identify them, identify the ones that truly are the holy communities of which I am a part. I am going to need to be sure that my time and my resources are aimed in their direction. I am going to have to be clear about my role within them.

And if I think that all of this is going to happen without my making a list or two, I am kidding myself." Taken from Living Prayer by Robert Benson

This is why I've been planning and scheduling for about a month now. I love making lists and seeing how to get the optimum results from my day.

I also have a bad habit of not sticking completely to any schedule I've made; not because I've learned to be flexible, but because I'm a rebel at heart. I don't want anyone telling me what to do; even myself. How twisted is that?

I think I've done enough scheduling and thinking. I now need to implement the schedule and cover it with prayer every day. All day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Morning

Give us grace, we pray,
Joyfully to do the things You have given us to do
Knowing that nothing is menial or common
That is done for Your sake.

from THE PROPER for February 27

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Grandma's Letters

If our house was burning and I could rescue three things, this stack of letters would definitely be one of the three.

They were written to me by my maternal grandmother after I left home in 1973. They cover my college years, my marriage and move to California, our move to Georgia, and go through the birth of our second child in 1983.

Grandma was a letter writer. She kept in contact with all of her siblings, her daughter-in-law, her children who lived away, and her grandchildren. She also wrote a few friends, too.

My favorite memory of her is when I would walk into her house and see her sitting in her chair listening to the local radio station with pen and pad in hand writing to some lucky someone. She would smile sweetly, say hello, gaze out the window, and continue writing. It was enough for me to just be with her.

She was the most influential person in my life growing up. She showed me what a godly woman looked like. Her life was simple. She took care of her home and family. She took in strangers and helped out the sick and needy. That's why her letters are so precious to me. I want to be just like her.

Friday, September 17, 2010

And the Winner is....

Pom Pom! Since you love old books so much, I'm sending you this 1903 embroidery book. I hope you enjoy it. Be sure and send pics of anything you make from it.

I'll get it in the mail within a week. Thanks for your interest, and congratulations!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Panning for Gold

One of the fun things we did in Colorado was panning for gold. It wasn't REAL gold panning, but it was still fun. We did learn the correct technique for panning which will come in handy when we do it in Tennessee or North Georgia for real.

My daddy has all the necessary equipment. He's played around with gold panning for years. He even bought a motorized dredge. He's cool like that.

Gold was discovered in Dahlonega, Georgia before California's goldrush in 1849. The gold on the dome of our capitol building in Atlanta came from Dahlonega. Maybe this fall we can try our hand in one of the many creeks on my parents' farm.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Conquering Fear

I just finished So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore. It has dovetailed nicely with the other book I'm reading called When People Are Big and God Is Small by Edward T. Welch.

I wouldn't say that I'm a fearful person overall. But after reading both these books, I've recognized fears in my life I didn't know I had.

Here is a list of scripture from Beth Moore's book to do away with fear.

God will:
perfect everything that concerns you (Psalm 138:8)
work all things together for your good (Romans 8:28)
contend with those who contend with you (Isaiah 49:25)
fight this battle for you (2 Chronicles 20:15)
equip you with divine power (2 Corinthians 10:4)
delight to show you mercy (Micah 7:18)
meet all your needs according to My glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)
give you grace that is perfectly sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9)
be your power in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)
do immeasurably more than all you could ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within you (Ephesians 3:20)

With all these promises from God, there's NO reason to ever fear anything. I believe the problem, at least it is with me, is that we don't truly, deep down, 100 per cent, trust God enough to do what he says he will.

For that kind of faith and trust, scripture reading MUST be accompanied by fervent prayer. Is it God's will for you to trust him? Absolutely! This is one prayer you can count on him answering; in his own time, of course.

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." II Timothy 1:7.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My New Boots

I just ordered these boots from ShoeMall. That was on my list, 5 before 55, that I posted a few weeks ago. Click on the link below to see the list. http://artfulaspirations.blogspot.com/2010/08/5-by-55.html

I also made the Victoria Sponge Cake but am going to try one more time. I have Samuel Pepys Diary on my stack and ready to read.

I think I'll be able to finish all five. I still have a month and a half.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Learning to Lean

My soldier boy, Lord willing, will be home in about nineteen days. It's been a long year. I've learned a lot about trust and faith this year.

When my children were small, I prayed that they would make a difference in the world when they grew up. Now that four of them are grown and are making their marks on the world, I'm afraid that God will use them by taking them far away from our family center. Or worse, be martyred for their faith.

Having one in Iraq has definitely helped me to let go and be willing for God to use them in his service any way he sees fit.

I'm even more convinced that whatever happens to them will be for his own glory; even though I may not understand it.

Letting go of my adult children into God's total care has been one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Does it seem fair to invest twenty plus years of your life into another person's life only to have them go away from you?

Such is the lot of mothers.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Prayerful Awareness

From Robert Benson's book Living Prayer:

A man once asked a monk what it is that monks actually do.
"We walk and we sit and we eat," was the reply.

"Is that all?"

"Yes. But when we walk, we know we are walking, and when we sit, we know we are sitting, and when we eat, we know we are eating."

Benson continues:

Which is more than most of us can say we know most of the time. Most of the time, we are somewhere in the past or the future. The past echoes and the future beckons; the present just seems to be sitting on the edge of the bed leering at us when we wake up in the morning. It does not always seem like much, so we do not often pay it much mind. When we do visit the present from time to time, we are likely to wonder why it is not what it seems like it used to be or not what we had hoped it might be. We rarely are content to live in it just the way it is.

"There is only now," wrote Thomas Merton.
The call to the monastery is given only to a few. The call to prayer is given to all.

I hope this day to live an intentional life encircled by prayer.

Friday, September 10, 2010

More Colorado Photos

I have a fascination with ghost towns. We visited three different ones on our trip. One was full of furry, little chipmunks and ground squirrels that weren't afraid to crawl all over you in search of something to eat. Darcie had a great time letting them explore her newly acquired straw Stetson. She also bought the moose earrings in Idaho Springs where the gold rush started in Colorado.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Recent Trip and a New Friend

Our family recently spent a week in the beautiful state of Colorado. One of the highlights was getting to meet Karen of Pom Pom's Ponderings blog. She is a delightful lady and a new friend. We met for supper and talked and talked. An hour and a half quickly flew by, and it was time to say goodbye. It was over much too soon.

Isn't the blog world wonderful? I've met so many like-minded women I would never have known otherwise.

My header photo came from our trip. I'll be posting more about it in the coming days.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

It's a Giveaway!

Every increased possession loads us with new weariness. John Ruskin

In that spirit, I'm giving away this 1912 Embroidery Lessons with Colored Studies book. All you have to do is tell me why my blog is your absolute favorite blog of all time. Just kidding!

What I do want to know is why you want it. Just leave a comment. I'll pick the one that delights me the most. No random generator here!

I'll announce the winner over the weekend; probably Sunday night. Happy providence!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Knocking Out the Bucket List

I posted on Friday, August 27, about five things I wanted to accomplish before my 55th birthday on October 27th. One of the five was to make a Victoria Sponge Cake.

Well, I made one for my bookgroup last Friday. I'll have to say that it was pretty delicious. But it wasn't perfection. I'm looking for the perfect Victoria Sponge Cake and won't stop until I've made one.

This recipe called for 3 cups of flour. I think I should have made thinner layers. The top layer kept trying to slide off. I ended up holding it together with toothpicks.

I used strawberry jam in the filling. I think raspberry would have been better.

I did nail the icing, though. I used a recipe for petite fours only substituting almond extract for vanilla. It was delicious.

So all I have to do is make thinner layers and add raspberry jam, and I'll have it; the perfect Victoria Sponge Cake!

That book you see in the photo is what we're reading for our next meeting. It's Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry. I've wanted to read something by him for a long time.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Last Messy Place

Well, I've done it. I've gotten rid of ALL superfluous papers in the house. All that's left to organize is my writing desk. And that'll be fun.

I feel like such a weight has been lifted off me. I hate paper clutter with a vengeance. We get so much junk mail. It seems that I'm on everybody's mailing list for catalogs and religious fundraising. I'm thinking about not opening the letters and marking RETURN TO SENDER on the outside of the envelopes. Would that take care of the problem, do you think?

Now I can start on some of my big projects, but first I had to get through the slog of paper. I've spent the last two weeks making schedules and planning Darcie's schoolwork. I'm almost finished with that, and then I can begin painting the kitchen.

Every ten years I repaint the kitchen. When we built the house the kitchen walls were white with green trim. After ten years, I painted the trim blue. Another ten years have gone by, and I've decided to paint the walls yellow and the trim white. I painted one wall and have been living with it for about two months. I don't like it. I don't know what I'm going to do now. I'm thinking about going back to white walls and paint the trim white, too; or maybe light blue.

My kitchen is a combination 1920's-1940's kitchen. I think I need to go to the library and look at books with vintage kitchens. I need inspiration. When I see it, I'll know it.

Expressing My Heart Through Another's Writings

Even though I consider myself a writer, there are plenty of times when I can't put into words what I'm feeling in my heart.

I'm reading Living Prayer by Robert Benson. This man can definitely write down in words what's in my heart. This is what I read this morning: "We look for saints and for mystics whose words speak to us. We seek out the poets and preachers and pilgrims whose language seems somehow our own, in the hope they will explain what we know we have heard in the depths of our hearts."

When I read something that's in my heart that's written by another person, I have an 'Ah ha!' moment. This was one of those times.

Thank God for the written word and for people who have the gift of expression.