Joyful


Tiny Moments of Joy That Got Me Through the Day Today {Five Favorites} 4

Today was…rough. Well, there were some very rough moments but now that it’s all over and the kids are fast asleep I guess the whole day wasn’t completley awful. Coincidentally, at the peak of the rough time today, a friend of mine posted this on Facebook (and I hope she doesn’t mind me quoting her) –

At the time, I was too infuriated with the situation I was dealing with to comment but I “liked it” and stifled a quick prayer asking God to help me do this…later. I didn’t get to write anything down, but I used my phone camera (a.k.a crappy camera) to remind me of some of the more joyful teeny tiny moments from the day. This proved very therapeutic and helped end the day on a better, more positive, note. I’m also incredibly thankful for my wise, level-headed, and patient husband and a friend who reached out and offered help when I needed it even though I was trying to pretend like I didn’t. 😉  (Thank you!!) So without ado, I’m linking up with Hallie’s Heather’s (Mama Knows, Honey Child) Five Favorites to share…

My Five Favorite Tiny Moments of Joy That Got Me Through the Day Today:

1.

Opening my book and finding this silly picture my 4-year-old drew for me and wants me to use as a bookmark. It makes me smile every time I see it. He drives me crazy but I love his goofiness.

2.

Listening to my eldest son read a whole book aloud to me. It made up for our rather terrible morning today.

We made it almost all the way through the book without any interruptions…almost.

3.

Evening Girls Only bike ride with my daughter. It’s hard to find time just for her and me so I’m relishing these solo bike rides with her.

I can’t believe how big she’s getting! Sigh.

4.

Yup, he’s still my baby. We had a bonding evening nursing session filled with milky giggles and stinky feet in my mouth.

5.

And we ended the day with a brisk evening stroll with my husband, our dog, and our baby with lightning bugs for the perfect mood lighting.

How about you? What little moments of joyful treasures can you find from your day today?


Getting Creative Around the House {Journal} 2

Today, Monday, April 7, 

Out my Window: Today was slightly warm, still cool especially with the wind and it sprinkled a little but nothing substantial by any means. I love the smell of rain in the air and seeing ours and all the pear trees blossoming! 

Feeling – Exhausted and accomplished after a long “Laundry day”. Mondays are my day I pretend like I’m superwoman and do all our clothing laundry and sometimes even some towels or sheets. I also do catch up work on the computer for bills and budgeting and emails, etc. It makes for a long day but I’m so glad I can enjoy the rest of week without the burden of laundry hanging over me. 

Joys: Family confessions followed by a game of tag on the church playground, snuggling under a cozy blanket with my daughter while watching a movie (Inkheart) together with just her and my husband, enjoying a dinner out with my husband and his parents and brother (I don’t remember the last time we’ve gone to dinner with them and no kids since before we had kids!), time for some painting and creativity, writing, blogging, reading alone and with kids, Holding 4 year old’s hand while walking on the walking track together, watching and hearing the kids giggle and squeal when I or daddy tickles them, my baby taking my hand to show me something he’s excited about it, his new-found vocabulary – “mama, dadda, doggie (sounds like doddie), up, cup, stop (or just “p) dat, hi, bye.” All said in the cutest most adorable sweetest baby voice ever of course, and lastly, watching my 4-year-old run around the backyard pretending to be Superman.

What was that? A bird? A plane? No! It’s…Superman!

This was where he came to change back to “Clark Kent” and keep an eye out for the bad guys.

They were “hunting” bad guys together.

Around the House: It’s been a little bit since I’ve done any house decorating.  I have such a hard time making decisions and hate nailing holes in the wall and then changing my mind. So I just don’t do anything for a loooonnnng time. But it had been too long so I decided it was time to cover some of our bare walls.

My artist aunt Cristi had a few paintings for sale when we all were together in Mexico so I brought a couple home with me. I happened to go to Michael’s last week and scored major with their buy one frame get the other FREE! I was overjoyed. The only problem was I came out with a lot more than I planned on going in for. But I definitely saved more in the long run since I would have spent double later. Here is one I got for our bedroom of one of her paintings –

It connected that empty space between the mirror/dresser area and the door. I like looking at it from my nursing chair and bed.

The other aunt Crisit artwork was a unicorn ‘stamp’ that I got for my daughter and will eventually hang in her room – 

I also worked with my daughter to create some door hanging picture display boards. She wanted to display pictures of our family on her door but I didn’t really want her taping pictures all over it so I came up with these:

I just pasted some pretty scrapbook paper onto some poster board, glued on the ribbons and clips and voila! Instant picture board door hanger. It was fun working on something together with her without being interrupted too much by “the boys”. 

This weekend we worked on the guest bathroom that I painted last year. I was very hesitant to mark up my beautiful painted walls but I couldn’t leave them bare forever. I put my “Grace” art deco on the wall by the sink instead of just sitting in the corner getting knocked over by little hands all the time. –

“Grace is when God gives us what we don’t deserve, Mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we do deserve.”

Then I found this nice frame to match with the browns of the oil-rubbed bronze sink and light fixtures. – 

I have a plan for what I’ll put in there. For now, the rocks look pretty. I’ll be like my friend, Mary, and just leave the store-display picture in there for months. Oh well, at least the frames are up now.

I also found this pretty picture frame with the bird theme – perfect for what I envisioned for a little “bird garden” bathroom.

I should definitely keep the dress-making iron form in there just to make people wonder what it is.

Next, I really love the “distressed cottage” look but wasn’t sure if I could mix and match with the other darker frame. I found the one here and put it on the opposite wall and like how it turned out. It’s kind of funny, my husband doesn’t share my love for “distressed cottage”, it makes him think of haunted houses. I’m sure it’s the same thinking of not understanding why one would pay lots of money for tattered jeans. 

I think the frame I found isn’t too “haunted” looking though, right?

Again, I don’t mind the picture in it but I’ll probably put my own in there…eventually. I might try and paint something like this that I saw at an art display – 

I’m not sure I could pull it off as well but I have no idea who painted this or how to contact the artist so I’ll have to give it my own go.

To add to the bird theme, I transferred a few of my bird stuff I’d been keeping upstairs and brought them down here instead. Here’s the bird house I painted for my daughter’s first bedroom when she was about 2. I’m still trying to decide if I like it here. Maybe it’s a little strange knowing there’s a bird perched over the toilet?

And I finally put up the pretty bird cage my family got for my birthday a few years ago! Along with another artwork of Cristi’s that had also once been in my daughter’s “garden” room. –

My daughter helped put the birds on the cage. She was so proud.

Lastly, to even out my “buy one get one free” deal I bought this lovely leaf hook. I wasn’t sure what to do with it. 

Thankfully, my husband is a genius.

Now I’ll always be able to brush my hair right before he comes home through the door next to where this hangs. 😉

I’ll update when and if I ever add my own photos to those frames. For now, I consider it a great success that I bought the frames and hung them on the wall in less than week’s time!

Crafting – Yes!! Speaking of doing my own painting – guess what I did last weekend? I painted! By myself! I received some water color colored pencils for a birthday not long ago and haven’t given much time to use them so after bedtime one evening I got them out and played around to see how they work. I like how they give the look of both colored pencil and a little watercolor but I think I prefer the regular water color paints still.

I must have been daydreaming of Spring!

 I also painted this for my sister’s confirmation while the two little guys came up with their own painted finger creations:

It’s my favorite Holy Spirit prayer. O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your Will.

It was so wonderful and exhilarating and energizing painting and creating again! I’m going to try to give more time to rekindling my love for art – somehow in between naps and evenings. I might sign up for a painting class sometime too.

A “mess” that brings me joy knowing I gave time to paint and create with my kids and myself!

I also had some fun making a simple display for our parish Respect Life Group my friend Monica asked for help with. I thought and thought and looked for an idea and finally decided to look for something that would tie in the “from conception to natural death” aspect of Respect Life and came up with this –

The image isn’t mine, I only added the banner text. I was so excited when I found that picture – it conveys the message perfectly!

Well I think that’ll be enough “Crafting” and “Around the House” updates to make up for my lack of those in the past and for many to come! 

Enjoy your weeks everyone!


The case FOR a Consumer Christmas 5

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m thankful for YOU.

I know, I know, that was so yesterday. If it weren’t for our bulging stomachs, we’d hardly remember just yesterday it was Thanksgiving and not Christmas already. 😉 Now that it’s all over and done with and we’ve stuffed ourselves with enough food to last a year, everyone can now turn their attentions to a different kind of stuffing – of the gift-giving kind. 

Earlier this week on Monday, I mentioned that I already felt overwhelmed by Christmas before it’s even begun. I go through this every year. I get mad about all the focus on the buying and the ‘stuff’. All the activities and expectations that go into this season overwhelm me and take away from what is supposed to be a calmer and quieter reflection on the most important birthday in ALL HUMAN HISTORY. 

After whining about it, I sat down and organized my lists and feel much better about it. Organization really is the key. 

{Oh and CheckedTwice – if you haven’t heard of this or use it yet, I can’t recommend it enough for family or group gift-giving organization.}

I’m still thinking and praying in preparation for Advent (starting Sunday!). Next week, I’ll share a guest post about Advent and preparing for Christ by my new blogging friend, Rachel from Efficient Momma.

For today, I’m thinking about gift buying and gift giving. I read a story in the local paper about a family who has decided to boycott the consumerist Christmas by not giving or receiving traditional gifts. Instead, they’ll apply their Christmas budget toward helping others in need through Angel Trees and adopt-a-child programs, etc. 

I like the idea. It’s on a good track.

But…

It’s missing something. I think there is a way to participate in the gift-giving and gift-receiving and still focus on the “true”meaning of Christmas. 

If the “true meaning of Christmas” is to celebrate the birth and life of Christ it doesn’t mean all we should do is stay home, close up our doors, and hide from the rest of the world until Santa and his reindeer fly back to the North Pole and the last Christmas tree is taken down.

It also doesn’t mean we have to say no to any and all presents. 

What it means, is that we have to keep our focus where it belongs – on Christ. If our focus is on Him, as it should be all year-long, then our gift-giving and our activities will be guided by this focus. 

Instead of trying to get the “best” or the “coolest” or the most popular wanted new toy or gadget, our gift-giving can be about what the gift tells the receiver. 

Sometimes, it really IS the “thought that counts“.

For example, one year I received a trash can for a Christmas gift.

Yes. But you know what? It is a beautiful trash can. It makes kitchen clean-up easier and thus, makes me life just that much easier. The person who gave me this gift knew I didn’t want it in the same way I’d want a pair of fashion boots or a cool new shirt or an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bahamas. He knew I wanted it because it would be a valuable item in our kitchen. This person also knows me well enough to know I wouldn’t go out and spend money on it on my own and I’d continue using our small trash can under the sink until it killed my back, and still even then. So, for me, this was a really great gift because it showed me that this person paid attention to me and went out of his way to get me something he knew would be useful. And I love him all the more because of it.

That might seem like a silly example but that’s what came to my head so take it or leave it. The point I’m trying to make as the Black Friday moon rises on us is that:

IT’S OK TO GIVE PEOPLE PRESENTS!

And, 

IT’S OK TO LET PEOPLE GIVE YOU PRESENTS!

In fact, letting someone give you a gift with a truly grateful heart is like giving them a gift as well. When we open ourselves up to others’ generosity, it not only fills our hearts with love but theirs as well. 

Giving gifts is about bringing joy to another person. 

Admittedly, true joy does not come in a box and every kiss doesn’t really begin with Kay Jewelers…just because it’s spelled with a “K”. Sheesh. Silly clever advertisers.

True Joy transcends this material world. Yet, here we are, in this material world. We have physical bodies, we eat real food (as opposed to the virtual kind), we walk on solid ground (as opposed to floating around in the air.) And while we are here, the material “natural” world – the things we can see, touch, hear, feel, smell and taste – is our connection to the Supernatural. 

God knew this. Hence, the Eucharist – even Jesus chose to come to us through food. He knows us well. But it’s not about the bread. It’s about the Sacrifice that He offers us. It’s about WHO we receive through that material ‘substance.’ If all we focused on was the ‘bread’, we’d totally miss the point.

The same thought can be applied with gifts we give/receive. It’s not really about the iPad or the cool watch or the super awesome new gadget that will be totally obsolete by this time next year, or even about any super crafty hand-made specialties. It’s also not about the extra donation in the Christmas collection, the bag of donated groceries or home-baked muffins, or volunteering your time at the local soup kitchen. (Though, those are really great things to do.) It’s about the JOY that is hidden within the fancy packaging or the self-less giving of your time and treasure. It’s about the fact that you stopped and thought about someone that is NOT you. 

So go ahead, be a CONSUMER this Christmas. Consume Christ so that you can GIVE JOY to others. After all, Christmas IS about gifts; it’s a celebration of THE GREATEST GIFT TO HUMANKIND – EVER. 


A “Good” Day 2

After reading Jennifer Fulwiler’s post, The mental neat freak, I thought a little about what a good day would be like for me and our family. 
At first, this is what I thought of: 
  • Quiet time to myself in the morning before everyone else wakes up, time for exercise, maybe a trip to the store by myself…or a pedicure…might as well throw in a scalp massage and new hair-do and date with my husband while I’m at it
  • No fighting, screaming, arguing, talking back, snatching, hitting, tongue sticking out, whining.
  • Nice talking, playing together nicely, sharing, taking turns patiently.
  • Listening, following directions right away, no distractions.
  • Helpful without asking, Clean up messes, or better yet, no messes!
  • Making delicious, easy-to-make and clean-up meals that everyone likes.
  • Time to read or write or work on a craft/house project uninterrupted.
But then I thought…
 
That’s all nice but it’s an unrealistic and unfair fantasy.
 

In reality…

 

A good day starts with me…

  • Not yelling (in an out-of-control fire-breathing dragon way).
  • Not whining about what I have to do vs. what I want to do.
  • Not replying sarcastically or rudely to innocent (or even not so innocent) questions or comments.
  • Not screaming back at them (even if they started it). 
  • Praying WITH my family and FOR my family.
  • Taking time to play, read, learn, create, build, explore, discover WITH my family and FOR my family.
  • Exercising WITH my family and FOR my family.
  • Sharing my talents with others in service to God WITH my family and FOR my family.
Yes, the kids will probably still cry, whine, and scream at me and each other all day,
I might not get anything done or get enough sleep (or any at all),
dinner might get ruined (or never made at all), the dishes might not get cleaned or the laundry put away (or washed or dried), and the house may end up covered with toys, shoes, mismatched socks, and stuff.
 
I might not get any “me” time, or even a shower (let alone brush my grimy teeth), or eat anything other than a few crackers (and cheese if I’m lucky). 
 
But it can still be a GOOD day…
if I decide to see it and live it that way.
 
A good day starts and runs with my decision to ask for and accept God’s Grace to help me see the good and be the good. 
A good day ends when I can gather my thoughts, for a second or two, and look back at the day,
– past the stress and the mess, the yelling and the whining, and see the parts that were good and are good, 
– acknowledge the parts that were not-so good, then ask God for forgiveness and the strength and grace to do better tomorrow.
 
Have the day you have“, and it will be GOOD.
 


Journal Monday August 19, {Birth, Birthdays, Back to School, What now?}

Today, I’m thinking about: Funny Birth stories and birthdays, kids growing up and going back to school, and what I’m going to do with my days now…

The Baby: Turned ONE over the weekend! His birthday was Friday – the first day of school again! We enjoyed a relaxing and quiet day together with his 3 year-old brother, hung out with some friends, and enjoyed a nice family dinner together with some frozen yogurt as a treat later. Sunday, we celebrated his birthday with the grandparents, aunt and uncle/godfather and his godmother (and kids). It was a peaceful and joy-filled celebration – thanks to all the great help!! My sister and mom and daughter helped make his cake (thank you!), his grandmas helped with the food, I made a BBQ Beef Brisket, and his crafty godmother made a cool birthday bunting (pics below). It was nice enjoying his birthday party and not just doing his party. Today, now that the party is all done, I carved out some time to re-read his birth story. Ahh, what a funny birth that was! It’s much more enjoyable reading it now! And I’m completely at peace with how it all turned out. This part might be my favorite: (Did I really do that?!) 

Then, I’m not sure what happened but after one hard contraction I decided I couldn’t do it anymore. I just could not do this. It just wasn’t going to happen. I tried explaining this to them but they didn’t seem to pay much notice. I heard my midwife whisper something to my husband but couldn’t tell what it was. He told me later she said, “Transition”, as it was clear to them that’s where I was. Somewhere, deep down wherever my logical/reasonable self was hiding out, I knew this was true but I couldn’t seem to get a handle on it. I’m still slightly embarrassed with how I behaved after this. I continued down the negative/wimpy downward spiral of transition, more and more convinced that I wasn’t able to do this anymore. I knew I needed to get out of there but how would I get around my husband and midwife? I had to get away…to the hospital. There, they would listen to me. They would take pity on me and knock me out while they pushed for me and delivered the baby for me. So I decided I had to run away. With an unexpected strength, I quickly stood up and started trying to get out of the tub. They asked where I was going? “Nowhere,” I lied, “I just need to…walk around a little that’s all.” Little did they know my secret plans to somehow run past them, down the stairs to the garage where I would get into the car and drive myself to the hospital and somehow my contractions would magically stop during this covert escape.

and this part…(which I maintain were punches and slaps!)

They laughed.

This made me mad so I punched my husband in his chest very hard. (He’ll tell you it was more like a tap).

He laughed more at this.

So I slapped him in the face. (He’ll tell you it was just a swat.)

Fun times…

Anyway, what else…

The Kiddos: The first day of school this year was a success! As I commented on FB, it’s much easier and more enjoyable when not also in labor like I was last year! I felt calm and relaxed. Although I was so relaxed about it I accidentally went through the drop-off lane instead of parking so I could walk them in but they didn’t seem to mind and by the time I would have gotten everyone out of the car they would have been late on the first day of school so it was probably better that way. I went in after I parked and took a couple pics – though they are blurry since it was another dark and rainy morning. I’ll do the required “stand in front of the school building and smile” picture another morning this week and pretend like it was the first day. 😉 I think this second day – together with it being “Monday”, was harder than the first. I better get my self in gear of we’ll be looking at some tardies…which would be my fault and not the kids. I really dislike the morning rush. And the after-school time when everyone is tired and starving with a load of homework to go along while I attempt to prepare dinner. Sigh. Anyway. The 4th grader and the 1st grader (I can’t believe I typed that!) are super excited about school, I hope their excitement continues until at least Christmas break. 🙂 The 3 yr-old also keeps talking about his “preschool”, which for now will consist of library story-time, maybe some art classes at the art museum, nature walks, reading and learning time at home, and hopefully fun play groups with friends. We’ll probably enroll him in a ‘formal’ preschool next year. We’ll see. I’m looking forward to enjoying our time together (hopefully). 

I’m Praying and Thinking about: A baby named Sophia. She is one of our neighbors’ granddaughters (still in utero) who apparently has very little chance of survival in utero and after (if she makes it that far) due to an issue with her brain.. not sure of the details or how old she is. Either way, please keep her and her mom and family in your prayers – for a miracle – even if the miracle is only having enough grace to accept whatever comes with total trust in God. And if you could also keep a couple of engaged couples in your prayers as they embark on their journeys toward matrimony! 

I am Reading: I didn’t have much time for reading – by myself – while all the kids were home this summer so I decided I’m going to take some more time to just sit and read a good book or two. I finally picked up a couple Wendell Berry books at the library –  Hannah Coulter and Jayber Crow. I’m only into the 3rd chapter of Hannah and already understand just why Mr. Berry is so loved. The writing is beautiful and rich. 

Outside My Window: It’s finally NOT raining! It’s a looking to be a bright and sunny week! 

Pictures to Share:

The cute birthday boy!

The cute high-chair bunting.

The cute fireplace mantle birthday bunting.

 

The cool (and yummy!) birthday cake!
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