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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Witnessed in Target....

A family scoping out the dollar section, both kids (aged about 11-13) trying on turkey hats.   ....all smiles and laughter.......I smiled right back at them.

A young, frustrated mom with a 2-3 year old.  Angry voiced and ordering...I heard the 1-2-3 loud and clear at least 4 times from the other side of the isle wall.  Empty threats were every location I saw them.   Angry voice and a near empty cart.   .....put him in the cart, your angry voice won't be needed and maybe he will see his mommy smile from there......I wanted to say.

A gentleman on a cell phone greets the person on the other end with "Hello, love of my life! I just found something....."  .....I smiled as I wandered away thinking of my own Mr.

Another young mom with a little one, closely supervising him inspect picture frames.  The language was gentle but firm.... "Be careful please, we must be gentle with things that can break."  ......careful, positive instruction warms my heart.   

Two separate women on an ear-bud type phone....talking loudly.   ......both make me chuckle.....I wonder if they realize how crazy they appear.

I wandered with a smile on my face.   Each person whose eye I met received a smile just for them.  Some seemed a bit befuddled and others lit up with their own.

A smile.  It is a free gift to the world that keeps on giving.

Blessings to you for miles of smiles that emanate from within and pass on the blessing to others.
the Mrs.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

organizing my thoughts...

...and my day.

Yesterday was one of those days where I wish there was some kind of Bean-O for the brain.   I couldn't seem to maintain any train of thought and caught myself just sitting there or wandering trying to figure out what on earth to do next.  I wanted to do none of it.  It was the brain fartiest of days.

So in an attempt to wake the sleeping hamster in the wheel I had two cups of coffee.  It didn't work.  Yes, I know, I "gave it up" but I'm not blindly cutting things out for all time so that I feel restricted.  I'm making choices.   Coffee is not a "can't" it's a "I don't want it daily".  Though, in the last week I've been hitting that slump that comes when sleep hasn't quite been as restful or long as it should be for too many days.  So I've been reaching for what is easy and tastes oh so yummy.   So yesterday, in a brief moment of coffee induced clarity, I realized that the coffee was probably part of the problem.  My water intake hasn't been where it usually is either.  I've not dropped to a point where I can push the precious save button on the scale in a couple of weeks and I've not been as organized in my work day as I'd like to be.

Time to get organized!

I use a planner and calendar.  But that really isn't enough.  I have my pre-made seasonal schedules that are a great guide but on a day to day basis - especially while so much is still shifting in this season of transition - I need something daily that I can modify.  There are scriptures I feel drawn to spend time in, blog posts I think I should write, people I should connect with and because it is basically just floating around in my skull it's not happening.  What I do know is that when I get really organized and get it out of my head and visually onto paper, I am much more efficient with managing my day, time and tasks.  The wonderful result is that my interactions with people become deeper and more intentional.

I need something daily.  Something to fill out and check off as I go.  Yep, I ended up on Pinterest.  I knew it.    I ended up at Simple Mom and found her free printable "Daily Docket".  It was oh so close to what I wanted but needed some modification to fit my goals.

Yep.....I'm a technological genius and have no idea why this came out sideways.  Nor how to change it.

But I'm guessing you can get the idea.  Basically this is my first try and I already have modifications I want to make.   Essentially what you see is: Top left - water intake.  I use 20oz bottles so I have 3 water glasses to check off.  The narrow bar on the top right is for the day or date.  Left column: "training ~ focus" is for a scripture or thought that I'm focusing on.  Right now that would be the verse of the day for the 30-day challenge. "Events" - meetings, tests, birthdays etc - highlight items to be aware of.  "Priority Items" - things that need to get done if nothing else does. "Daily's" - this would be where my seasonal schedule comes in.  Here is where I will put my regular daily household tasks.  These are to be done first before other tasks, I'll get to that one in a minute.  Right hand column: "meet Me here" - scripture, devotional, whatever I'm pulled to or working through.  "Whats for dinner" - I think that one is easy....but there is also a "prep" spot there so I know if I need to pull something out to thaw or the prep might take extra time.  "Connect with" - emails, phone calls etc.  "Organizing extras" - this is the project area.  The space where those random things creep into the day that I want to tackle but distract me from my "daily's".  Now, I can write it down and once the daily's are done, I can move on to this spot.  "Tomorrow" - things that didn't get done, extras I don't want to forget or just reminders.  The bottom has a "sometime this week" spot for random things.  

I'd like to redistribute some of the space, the "daily's" box is larger than I need and a "Notes" area would be helpful so I don't have random notebooks all over with things written that I find a month later....  Keeping things in one place where I can address it and organize it in conjunction with my planner will stream line things and free up extra time that I would otherwise spend wandering about the house between chores.  Not to mention the amount of notebooks lying around.  I might even get more of those "52" things checked off! 

Today will be the test run, notes on how to modify it and such and see just how much it helps.  Granted today is not a day full of tasks.  I'll be pickling veggies at the request of a friend but today is officially "food processing/cooking day" so it works.  I don't always use it as such but today I will. 

Blessings for organized productivity to you, with dashes of inspiration.
the Mrs.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

30-day Husband Encouragement Challenge - day 5

It's been an odd kind of week.  The first week of the big totally would have been nice for it to start off on a relatively normal week.  On the plus side it's been a good opportunity for the kids to see how to encourage someone.  They have been around to watch me prepare cards and little treats and see his face when he sees all three of us come down the stairs with a card we all signed and a mason jar full of chex mix that Wonderteen made.  These are the moments they learn from.  Today they might be small but my hope is that they will stick and one day emerge in their own marriage, illuminated by a whole new perspective on what it meant.

Yesterday's verse: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." Eph. 4:29

(Note: As I share about this challenge I'll be speaking about the prior day...because, lets face it I'm not going to give away the days surprises.  I know that Mr reads this and there will be no spoiler alerts!)

This "Husband Challenge" feels more far reaching than I anticipated.  Its not just applicable to our husbands but to the world we encounter.  Family, friends, strangers....anyone who happens to be in front of us.  One of the effects I've noticed (but not been pleased with) is that where I've been disciplining myself to not bring down my husband, my words and tone have been a bit more negative with our kids.  I'm trying to be more aware of what that is, why that is and trying to be aware of it before it is spoken instead of after.  It could be due to the nature of this week......never truly alone, the sound of cartoons in my ear (like right now I have Spongebob yelling in my ear because the TV in the living room is literally 3 feet to the left of my desk), its not been a good week for sleep - Mr is restless and each night my sleep is filled with dream after intense dream that leaves me tired in the morning but without memory of what they were other than it was crazy intense.

The Lord is stirring something within me during this time that I can only describe as intense because I don't have direction for it.  My desire is to get into my bible to listen and search but the house is just not equipped to provide the quiet I need at this time.  Do you ever have those times where He just plants words, phrases and comments from all kinds of random sources that seem to be lit up in neon to pay attention to?  That's what He's up to in my life right now.   In that place where I know He is up to something because my spirit is so agitated that I can physically feel it....buzzing....vibrating with....I'm not even sure what yet.

There inlays an additional challenge.....pursue whatever this is that the Lord is pressing in with while maintaining an intentional focus on my husband without falling into a temptation to direct all my focus onto what the Lord is doing in my own life. Also....attempting to carve out moments to address these things with Him, seek out the scriptures He is presenting even though the timing is not convenient.... Maybe....these are part of the experience......testing my focus, working out those muscles of discipline and awareness.  The Lord is never singularly focused.  He is the multitasker of all mutitaskers. :)

Today, focus will be on my Mr.  It's his birthday today!  He has roughly a half day of studying but after that it will be a day of spoiling and fun!  I can't wait to give him his gifts and see his face.  He's been working so hard and has had focus I know that I couldn't pull off in his shoes, watching him makes me burst with pride and love and I may easily become the gushiest wife on the planet that makes people want to hurl.

But that's okay, I don't mind.

Blessings to you of edifying speech, a guard over your mouth that only allows passage to words filled with grace.
the Mrs.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

30-Day Challenge Day 2

What a week to start....filled with opportunity to encourage and test my self discipline.

It's Mr's birthday this coming weekend.  Monday started his first day of his new job - which is basically to study his brains out so he can pass his series 7 and 66 exams before Christmas.  It also happens to be MEA week here and the Dude is off school Wednesday through Friday and Wonderteen will be here tonight for a bit, then off to a church group sleepover and then back here during the day tomorrow.  During all this Mr needs to be studying downstairs in his new home office.  

He has a rigorous schedule to keep up with.  Daily quizzes and tests need to be accomplished and the schedule is 6 days a week.  This was an opportunity to set up a nice space for him downstairs.  I purchased black shelves and frames for the wall, ordered some prints from Shutterfly so he can have some nice pictures on the wall and set up a buffet surface with some healthy snacks, tissues, paper plates and such just like he had in his work office.  Uncluttering was maybe the biggest job as that particular area had become a catchall for the random things removed from other areas of the house.  Now he has a nice chair and coffee table along with his desk area so he can have a change of pace.

His birthday Saturday offers opportunities to bless him.  I decided to have fun with it and give him little gifts each day leading up to it.  Yesterday was flowers and a hilarious card that talks - "the pocket hot dog", it made us both laugh.  

The kids being home this week will present unique challenges.  Extra traffic to the basement shower, extra volume and footsteps....boredom and bodies upstairs in my space.  The practice of editing my words has been something I've been working on for many years now.  My mother was very negative and berating of my father.  Early in our marriage we both recognized those patterns coming through in my speech and it made neither of us happy.  In the beginning it was as if I had no control of it or clue as to how to choose different words.  My mind saw the down side, the 'poor me', finger pointing perspective all too easily.  If I couldn't edit my thoughts how would I ever edit what came out of my mouth?

My journey began there to change my view of the world, my circumstances and fully embrace the fact that all things are a choice.  My free will goes beyond just my ability to choose the Lord or reject Him.  I have the choice to train my mind.  I can choose how I see a situation, how I receive and react to words spoken to me, I can choose what I say and how I feel and what I think.  It is ALL a choice and to believe anything less is a lie, an excuse to not put in the work it takes.  

"out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" 
Matt 12:34b

What is the abundance of your heart?  Listen to your words and you'll find out.   If you think it isn't an accurate reflection.......look closer.  Either you are lying to yourself that your heart is filled with something other than it is, you are in denial about the tone of your words or you need to seriously ask yourself why your heart and your mouth don't match.  

It is a change that takes a lot of work.  I think when Mr told me that I had a joyful spirit I finally felt like I had purged out that person I thought I was genetically doomed to be.  I know there is a whole nature vs nurture theory but beyond my physical looks I choose to believe that what is in me, who I am, is not and will never be beyond my control to choose.  

So in this challenge I am encouraging my husband but I am also gifting him with an improved wife in the process.  A wife whose attitude is improved by the training of her mind.  

Things are in a big transition in our home and family.  This challenge couldn't come at a better time...time to train up my mind and make sure my attitude stays in check.  This is a time to not allow my circumstances to give me permission to be sour but to hold my mind and my tongue captive to obey Christ. (2 Cor. 10:5)  It is not my job to measure myself against another but to do and be what He asks of me.

Blessings to you for the discipline to hold your mind captive and discover the abundance of your heart, 
the Mrs.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A 30 Day Challenge.

Okay so maybe I didn't make it back yesterday...

A new challenge has presented itself.  One entirely different from the last.  Not about food, weight or exercise...or is it?  

The food would be His Word.
The weight would be the responsibility.
The exercise would be discipline...of the mind and the tongue.

While meandering through Pinterest last week I ran across a pin with a sweet looking picture of what appears to be a bride and groom sitting in the back of a truck bed at sunset.  The comment under it simply said "30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge".  Intrigued, I followed the links.

What I found was something scriptural, focused genuinely on building up the man, daily entries were short and to the point, convicting without being condemning and gave a daily challenge that was entirely doable but also stretching.  My first reaction was to simply pin it to my "for our marriage" board and check it out later.  The Lord seemed to have other plans.  It didn't just sit quietly at the back of my brain.  It jumped full force to the front of my brain with full out jazz hands that could not be ignored.  A list of wives slowly came to mind....some who would simply enjoy the beauty that it existed and others who would love the guide and encouragement to the season in life they are in.  Share it.  So I did.

My expectation was at zero.  I thought I'd share it and if I got any response back it would be a "Thanks, that's neat!"  and nothing else.  What I got.....was much more.  Inbox messages of thanks and confession of struggling in the area.  Requests to do this as a group and support each other.   Surprise was about all I could muster at first.....then I had to chuckle at the Lord a bit.  He knows my passions, He knows my buttons and where to get me.  This would be it.  Being a godly wife by the Book is one of my greatest passions, held second only to my passion at being as consistently Christ-like as I can be - which I am significantly less successful at.  But the two connect and stretch each other....and encouraging another wife in this area is exciting.  Four, is even more!

Yesterday was our first official start date.  On day One the two challenges are set up:

  1. You can't say anything negative about your your husband...or to anyone else about your husband.
  2. Say something that you admire or appreciate about your your husband and to someone else about your husband.
What came to my mind was "hold your mind captive to the obedience of Christ" the verse in 2 Corinthians 10.  So When I went to look it up I found that all of Chapter 10 was just pure goodness on this subject.  Not specifically for wives but on the discipline of the mind and how that is so important.  A mind run loose is a dangerous thing and it can trample anyone, yourself included.  

Sound interesting?  Want to join in?

Blessings for a disciplined mind and tongue and encouragement that flows easily from and to you.
the Mrs.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mission Accomplished.

Welcome to my garage....the party went beautifully and we had SO much food!  I did manage to take pictures before everything got started but as per usual, we forgot to take any pictures of anything during the gathering.  We are awful about pictures!  And the quality of mine are not so good as I'm using my old ipod touch. 

But here's how I set things up:
<-  This is the view from the side door, what you'd see as you entered.  Mr hung my garden sheets along the back wall so it would look nicer than staring at shelving and lawn equipment.

Two tables were put together in the middle - I wanted to make sure that conversation could flow and no one's back was to anyone during dinner.  On the other side is a seating area I set up so if people got tired of sitting at the table there were more comfortable chairs.

The "Rescue Center".  Tums, mints and tissues.  This was just as you entered the door.  There were also folded 3x5 cards and a sharpie for people to record what their dish was.

The start of the feast.  My Garden Bench converted to buffet.   An old burgundy flat sheet covered everything perfectly. At the right, is the start - silverware, large disposable plates and napkins.
 The end before all the desserts got there. Smaller plates, more napkins and a sharpie. I covered the tool bench with brown craft paper and on this area people wrote on the craft paper what the dish was!  It was slick!  I also put out a bowl of apples...granted that was more for me than others because I couldn't eat much but I wasn't the only one who had one. :)

Here is a shot of the two tables put together.  Those are not table cloths....they are curtains!!  I found them on clearance and bought a coordinating kitchen towel to go down the center.  Cheap and a perfect fit!  Now I can reuse them next year and for other parties too! 

Here is what the center of the tables looked like.  Extra napkins under the pumpkins, candles floating in mason jars with cranberries and two sets of salt and pepper so no one needs to reach or pass.

The bar area.  A few things for mixing, a recycle bin, alcoholic drinks in the white cooler and non in the red.  There were some napkins, stir sticks and more mini pumpkins and candles.  This is actually an old sewing machine cabinet that I bought a few years ago from Goodwill but my machine never made it in there so....I'm giving it up to the fire pit.  It made a nice cocktail table though!

The final shot - warmth.  The silver cylinder you see is a borrowed propane heater.  It worked SO wonderfully that people didn't need coats!  We even opened the side door a few times.  It was wonderful.  The two laundry baskets you see are filled with blankets and extra sweatshirts - just in case.  Didn't need any of them.

It was so much fun and I laughed so hard that my voice got all gravely like I was an old smoker.  My face hurt and so did my abs.  Best work out there ever was! :)  

The list of food, you ask???  Okay, here it is.... Stuff made with beer:  Thai Chili, Corn bread, Fruit Salsa, Pulled BBQ Chicken, Pork sliders, Garlic basil mashed potatoes, Mac and Cheese, Peanut Brittle, Vanilla pudding Bunt Cake, Chocolate cupcakes, jello shooters.  Non - beer foods: Vegan sloppy joes, apple slab pie.     Honestly I think I'm forgetting things.....there was that much food!

Blessings for a wonderful week to you!
the Mrs.

I may be back later today for another post on a whole other surprise challenge that came up!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Challenge accepted.

Sometime early this year.....or perhaps late last year but at some point in the past I cannot exactly pinpoint...we gathered a few friends to a challenge.  My Mr and a guy friend started to chat about beer and somehow ended up on cooking and the two fell together into a vote I wasn't there for.

We had our first Beer Dinner challenge - the Beta test.  I know, the name is entirely too creative.  Not entirely sure how well it would go, we moved forward and everyone was asked to come up with a dish, dessert or whatever they could think of, that they could infuse beer into.  The Beta Test was a Surly challenge.   It was all about one brand of beer and using any of the flavors they make.  The results were outrageously, ridiculously amazing.  People drooled and raved and broke out in the meat sweats and fell into swollen belly comas while laughing way too hard.  A second event was demanded.

You're curious aren't want to know what on earth was so good we needed to do it a second time.   Here's a list to the best of my memory:  Bender beef stew, Coffee Bender chili (I think), beer bread, Chocolate cake with bender frosting, Coffee Bender Chocolate Cheesecake, Furious Glazed Salmon Puffs (Profiteroles were also made with Furious), Bender Bacon Mushroom Meatloaf (pretzels instead of bread crumbs), Coffee Bender marinated steaks rubbed with a coffee brown sugar dry rub, Abrasive Jello Jigglers,   salad with....a dressing made with beer I can't remember and I know there's more I'm forgetting.  But you get the point.

This weekend will be Beer Dinner 2.0.  Any beer is fair game and the guest list doubled.  The Mr and I get a tad carried away....our list has topped out at 8.   So far I have Hell Fire Pickles and Furious Peanut Brittle.  The Toffee kinda went all wrong so attempt #2 will be today along with the much demanded Bender Bacon meatloaf I made last year, the sober-Vegan Sloppy Joes and Amazeballs.  I'll be in the kitchen if you need me....for the rest of the week.  Tomorrow I clean the house, make the jigglers and any last minute cooking things I can think of.  Then Saturday will be the Rogue Doughnut pork sliders, the 21+ Mac n Cheese and decorating the garage for the event.

Here's the funny part.....ya know all those food issues I have? I can't eat any of the food with beer in it.  Thus...the "sober" vegan sloppy joes and Amazeballs.  I'm actually thinking I'll be doing a gluten free Apple Slab pie too since one of our friends is gluten free and I'm not sure how much she will be able to eat either.  So the challenge for me is to cook things I can't eat or taste and have them actually turn out not only edible but tasting of awesome.....because, lets face it, I do have a reputation to uphold.

On other challenge notes......what do you do when you don't really own table cloths (I know, I know, my membership to womanhood should be revoked, but I'm okay with that) but are trying to make a party in your garage not look like.....a party in your garage....   You opt for creative solutions.  Knowing that this party will most likely become an annual event I made the executive decision that I need to get supplies that will be reused so I am not spending a fortune on disposable table stuff every year.  I was on a mission to find some nice table cloths I could use over and over in fall-ish colors.   Much to my dismay I found that all table cloths of any decent size were at least $16 and I need at least 3.   Time to employ creativity.  I found 3 clearance curtain panels in chocolate and eggplant for less than $10 a piece, a clearance set of napkins (to use under candle centerpieces) for $5, 3 different kitchen towels for $4 and a few candles from the dollar store will get things looking a bit nicer and smelling a bit less "garage".  A bag of cranberries, some tea-light candles freed from there little metal containers, some raffia and mason jars will be the center pieces along with the tiny little pumpkins I got last week.

I will do my best to take pictures......but we know I suck at doing that.

I'm excited to see if we can pull this off......well.....okay I know we can easily pull it off but I'm actually excited to see if I can pull off making a garage look nice for a party and not have everyone freeze to death.

Challenge accepted.

Blessings of fall fun to each of you,
the Mrs.