Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall bucket list

Fall is here, so at our family meeting on Monday we filled out our bucket list. We had so much fun with our summer one that we decided to keep going!  As you know, I love me a good to-do list.  Is there anything better than checking off completed items?

Some clarification on our list: Tanner's and Boggio's are apple orchards nearby.  Greg and Jane are family friends that have lived out of state for several years and are coming into town for a visit soon. And we're planning an open house for both our churches to come and see the parsonage and have some fun Fall fellowship.

If you want to make your own bucket list:

Click here for a bucket list already filled out with fun activities:

Click here for blank bucket list to create with your family:

Happy Fall!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hope is the thing with feathers

Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live;
do not let my hopes be dashed. (Psalm 119:116 NIV)

What a difference a weekend makes. I had not one but two opportunities for fellowship with some good Christian women in the past few days. My Ministry Wives meeting Saturday morning, while small, was very encouraging. There were women from different seasons of life who came together to talk and support each other as we support our husbands in ministry. It was a beautiful thing. My feelings of loneliness and isolation slowly began to diminish. I began to feel hopeful again. There was a flutter in my soul, which of late had been still and silent.

I was invited by a church member to join a MOPS Bible study yesterday morning. After making several excuses in my head about why I couldn't possibly fit this into my schedule, I said a quick prayer and pointed the minivan in the direction of the church in Princeton. I came in late because Ava had some anxiety about the new place and new people in the nursery. Once I got her settled, I found an open chair and sat down. I hadn't read the book or done the homework, something that would typically set me on edge--the feeling of being unprepared ranks with extreme hunger or social embarrassment for me.

I simply listened as the women discussed their homework. Anyone who knows me knows that this is not normal. I'm a talker. But I was just so interested in what everyone else had to say I didn't even think to share my stories. Perhaps next week. I am hopeful.

These past few months I feel like I've been on a long walk in a strange place. A walk, I'll admit, that I felt I was on by myself. God has given me great responsibilities and blessings, but He never expected me to endure them alone.

My mind is racing with all the possibilities for fellowship, friendship, and service to others with these wonderful women. I am hopeful.

I will tell that voice inside my head that says, "You are all alone" to be quiet. I will be firm and direct. It is not the voice of God. It is God's nature to draw us to Him, not away from Him.

I can do just about anything when I have hope--hope that what I'm doing makes a difference; hope that things will get better; hope that there might be rest or reward at the end of the trial. No day is perfect, but hope makes each day an opportunity instead of a burden.

My favorite quote about hope:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.
― Emily Dickinson

What are you hopeful about today?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Part of the vine

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. (John 15:4 NLT)

Country life can be isolating. Geographically, Tiskilwa is separated from the "big city" of Princeton by about 7 miles, a big hill, and a whole lot of open farmland. I drive the kids in and out of school each day. The drive to and from town is lovely, especially now in the fall, but is a reminder of how separate the towns are.

I'm also socially isolated. I'll admit, some of it is self-imposed. I don't feel like I've made many friends here yet, and I've not gotten to know any of the other parents at drop off and pick up at school. Most kids ride the bus.

Todd's schedule is incredibly busy, and my role has been to "hold down the fort" here at home. That often means being tied to the house, doing nothing more than cooking, cleaning, laundry, and taxiing kids back and forth. I'm trying REALLY HARD to find beauty and joy in these very important but mundane tasks. Some days are better than others. I'm used to feeling like what I do is important, but lately I just feel like nothing I say or do makes any difference. Isn't motherhood an awesome ride?

I'm feeling severed from the vine. And as John says in the verse above, we cannot be fruitful unless we are close to God and a community of His faithful. I am in love with our churches and the people here. They are good, smart, loving, hardworking people. My faith has been strengthened here. And I know with time I'll start to feel more a part of the community. I will find more opportunities for fellowship. And hopefully, my work here will produce fruit that will enrich our churches and the surrounding communities.

To help alleviate my feelings of isolation I'm joining some groups : Ministry Wives of Bureau County and MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers). My first Ministry Wives meeting is tomorrow morning, and MOPS meets the first Tuesday in October. I cannot wait to meet these women and hopefully start to feel like part of a vine again.

How do you battle isolation, self-imposed or otherwise? What makes you feel like part of the vine? In what ways have you been fruitful lately? I'd love to read your comments!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How hard could it be?

"How hard could it be?"  This phrase gets me in a lot of trouble.  Ask anyone--I can't back down from a challenge.  So when I see something cool--be it a yummy dish from Food Network, a craft on Pinterest, or a DIY design idea from one of the blogs I follow--I resolve to try it myself.

I blame my parents and teachers.  They always told me I could do anything I set my mind to, so after a while I began to believe it.

Since I'm not working outside of the home this year, I have lots of free time.  Just kidding!  But I have set aside some time to complete some projects for my home.

This little beauty was made with a broken frame, chicken wire, and a staple gun.  I saw it on Pinterest and realized that it would be a perfect project to repurpose a frame we'd broken in the move.  I used some tiny clothespins that I had from another project and dug out some postcards I'd collected from my honeymoon 10 years ago. I intend to collect and display more postcards as our family travels to cool places in the future.

I'm also planning on reupholstering a cool chair Todd and I found in a resale store, making a "pouf" for my bedroom, creating art from my ever-growing paint chip collection, and decorating the awkward space above my TV in the family room.  And watch out friends and family: I intend to make many of your Christmas gifts this year...

Have you done any cool DIY projects lately?  Please share in the comments! You can follow me on Pinterest by clicking the pink-ish "P" button at the top of the sidebar if you want a peek at my future projects.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


Instead of complaining about the 8 round trips I took to and from Princeton on Wednesday...
I should be thankful that my girls are lucky enough to participate in dance classes and have other extracurricular opportunities available to them. That I have a reliable enough car to take my kids to and from school. That I get to spend some special time with each child on the way to school each day.

Instead of wanting to poke out my own eyeballs from the girls' constant whining/bickering/mess-making...
I should be humbled that I've been chosen to be their mother. Thankful that they're alive and healthy enough to complain. Know that the lessons I teach them are as much for me as for them.

Instead of grumbling about the fact that I can't vacuum my whole house from the same outlet anymore...
I will be a proud steward of the spacious parsonage I've been given. Remember that this small act has a huge impact on my family's calm and well-being. Use my daily cleaning time to clean out my heart and mind as well.

Instead of dreading the 36 straight hours each week of parenting without Todd around because he's far, far away at school...
I will focus on doing everything I can to keep the house running smoothly so he doesn't have to worry while he's away. Be thankful that God has provided enough for us to allow Todd to go away to school and for me to be at home full time this year. Look forward to hearing what Todd's been learning about and how God is shaping him into an instrument for His purposes.

Instead of fretting about how to be in two places at once...
I will embrace that I have not one but two awesome church families. I will accept that I am doing what I can at each church, even if it doesn't seem that I'm giving them equal attention. I will learn the value of serving though prayer, not always through action.

Instead of feeling completely overqualified to be a taxi-driver, short-order cook, secretary, laundress, and dog walker, I will take a deep breath and know that my skills as a teacher aren't being wasted on being "just a mom", they're being recycled.

Instead of hating the bad days, I will claim the peace of knowing that this is exactly where God needs me to be right now, faithfully following.