Sunday, May 30, 2010

Remembering Hallie (part two)

My adorable mom, Hallie was born into quite the dysfunctional family, although I don't think they used that word in her generation:

She never knew her father who was in prison when she was born. When she was a young girl, while attending a relatives funeral, someone pointed to a man and said, "That is your father." She never saw him again.

Mom's family was deeply into alcohol, including her own mom and various stepdads.

Mom and her three sisters basically raised themselves. Each night as dinner time rolled around, the girls would stand outside the local tavern and call in for their mom. Eventually, someone would bring the girls some quarters and they would go buy hamburgers and milkshakes (which remained mom's favorite meal.)

Once the four little girls were so scared and lonely, they broke their back window, used their step dad's shoes to make footprints in the snow. Then they called the police to say someone had tried to break into their home. After that, the police often drove by to check up on them.

Another unbelievable tragedy for my sweet mom was when she was just 10 years old. She was taking her youngest sister to a friends house. As they approached a busy street, her sister got away from my mom's hand. As she ran into the street, her sister was hit by a car and was killed instantly.

One of the stable people in Hallie's life was her grandpa. He made sure the girls got fun presents on their birthday, took them to the library to get a library card and took them to the circus. When mom was a teenager, her grandpa committed suicide, when he found out his new wife had gambled away his life savings and their home.

So much pain and suffering for my sweet mom, Hallie. And no mom around to help her process and contain all of these real life problems. My mom became painfully shy. She also grew up fast (not much of a childhood for her.) By age 16, she was marrying the cute neighbor next door (my dad) and was off, determined to create a perfect life . . . one that was the opposite of hers growing up.

(Stay tuned for part three.)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Remembering Hallie (part one)

My adorable Mom was named Hallie. When she was growing up, no one had heard of the name, people often thought it was a boys name and she constantly was asked, "what is your real name?"

My adorable mom, Hallie, was a gem ~ the real deal. She was one of the most amazing gifts God ever gave me.

My adorable mom, Hallie, had an amazing story . . .
                                  . . . stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Digging in the Dirt

Growing up, I was a book worm. My dad was always telling me that it was great that I loved books, but he thought I should get outside more often. So . . . he "made me" weed our massive garden, every time I finished a book. To this day, digging in the dirt is one of my favorite activities. (Last time I was home, I was joking with my dad about this, and he had no recollection of making me weed the garden.)

Saturday was a beautiful and sunny day, but not too hot ~ perfect digging-in-the-dirt weather. I was outside for six hours having a great time.

love the cement bird

petunias are my favorite flower

the path leading to the lake

love the new wave petunias which will be massive by summers end

my view at the end of a long days work ~ think I'll go read a book now, dad.

"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof." Psalm 24:1

Friday, May 14, 2010

Those are some mighty big shoes to fill

Our church is privileged to have a hard working, creative, thrifty, organized, friendly woman who puts on lots of big dinners. As this year's celebration dinner (to honor all those that work with kids and students) was scheduled, she realized she would be out of town at a conference the night of the dinner. She invited me to take her place . . .yup, those are some mighty big shoes to fill.

But the night went well. She left me with everything so organized and a good crew.

Ever wonder what it takes to put on a dinner for 325 people . . .

350 bread bowls

11 huge roasters of soup

120 heads of romaine lettuce

42 apple pies

and a great hardworking crew.

Thanks everyone for all your helping hands.

PS. To my friend, D. I happily return your kitchen back to you! :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ii is for inch toward organization

Why does organization often feel like an all or nothing proposition. We often think that if we can't be 100% spot on organized, we might as well just throw our clothes on the floor. Have you ever felt like this?


In my many years of observing people, I think there are basically four styles of organization/disorganization. See if you can find yourself in one of these:

l. Enter my friend A. You can drop by A.'s house most any time and things will be tidy . . . both on the outside (rooms picked up, dishes done, beds made) and on the inside (drawers, files etc.) A. is naturally organized and feels most content with a super organized home.

2. Enter G, that is me. My home is basically organized on the outside. I have some good systems in place so you could USUALLY surprise me with a drop by visit and find a mostly tidy home. But the internal systems in my home can be quite disorderly. I can't find the receipt for the capris I want to return, am not completely sure where my passport is and my drawers are messy. I grew up in a very organized home and really feel happy when things are organized, but I have to work at it.

3. Enter my friend H. H.'s home is pretty consistently at some level of disarray both externally and internally. But she can spend a long day cleaning and have things ready for company. It doesn't take long for those piles of stuff to come back though. H. would say, "if you want to see my house, call ahead, if you want to see me, just drop by." 

4. Enter my friend L. L. spends a lot of time loving people and doesn't enjoy caring for her home at all. There is a level of chaos there that is external and internal. When she can't find something she is looking for, she just buys more. She has trouble getting into rooms, because so much stuff is on the floor. 

So, which style are you? And does that style work for you? Are you finding a desire for a little more organization in your life?

My suggestion to you today is to INCH TOWARD ORGANIZATION. Choose one area of your home that you want to work on. Put into place just one new system. Get use to that and then choose another area. Take small steps moving in the direction you want to go. Rome wasn't built in a day, you know.

It reminds me of a favorite quote by Mother Theresa, "Small things with great love." And the Bible reminds us not to despise small beginnings.

Start small . . . start today . . . and have fun.

I want to start by organizing my once again messy pantry. What small start would you like to tackle?

Monday, May 10, 2010

But it's Messy in the Middle

We all love a good beginning. . . 

     "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."


     "I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."


     "Happy families are all alike, every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."


     "In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines lived twelve little girls in two straight lines."


     "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."


     "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."


     "Where's Papa going with that axe," said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast."


And who doesn't love a good ending . . . "and they all lived happily ever after."

But it is all those middles that can do us in. It is what Andree Seu calls the "messy middles." Life is all about the messy middles. . . working through broken trust, loss of loved ones, dreams not realized, infertility, depression, fears for our kids, financial struggles, tired of being single, chronic illness . . . fill in the blank with your own current messy middle.

We can learn here from David. He certainly had some messy middles. One of my favorite Psalms (and top three messages I ever heard my dad preach) is from Psalm 119:57-64. 

David was in one of his many seasons of midnight (another great name for the messy middles.) Midnights are dark, and scary and long. We can do what David did:

1. Call out to God for help. David did this in Psalm 142:1-2. "With my voice I cry out to the Lord, with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord. I pour out my complaint before Him. I tell my troubles before Him." Beth Moore says one of her favorite prayers is the two simple words, "HELP ME."

2. Hang on to God's Word (the Bible). In Psalm 119:57 - 61 David promised to keep God's words, turned his feet to God's testimonies, hastened to keep God's commandments and did not forget the Law. My friend Shelly says, "Never doubt in darkness, what God has shown you in the light."

3.  Ask for God's favor. David entreated God with all his heart for God's favor. This is one of my favorite things to pray for people - that God would grant them favor. At midnight, I need God's favor.

4.  Praise by faith. In Psalm 119:62 David says, "At midnight, I rise to praise You." It takes faith to get out of bed and praise at midnight, because it is so dark.

5.  Cling to godly friends. In Psalm 119:63 this is what David does. "I am a companion to all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts." I am so blessed to have friends that love God and love me.

6. Ask God to teach you in the darkness. In the midst of midnight, David asks God to "teach me Your statutes." (Psalm 119:64) I can sometimes be more open to hearing from God at these times when distractions and my usual comforts don't get in the way.

Are you in a midnight season right now? It can be so hard to sense God's presence in these messy middles. When Job was in the middle of a devastating season of loss this is what he wrote: (Job 23:8-10)

"But if I go to the east, He is not there; if I go to the west, I do not find Him. When He is at work in the north, I do not see him; when He turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of Him. BUT HE KNOWS THE WAY I TAKE; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold."

Be encouraged, my friends, in your messy middles. God knows right where YOU are. And while it is hard at midnight, we can follow the example of King David.

I am linking this to Jen's on 2/22/2011. Check out what other sisters have written.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

IDEAS ~ number two

Last year, I began a very small house cleaning business. All the families that I work for are so wonderful. It has been fun, too, to be in homes  with children. I loved all different stages of parenting and being in these homes brings back great memories. I smile when I see darling little table and chair sets (love love those) and kitchen sets (love love those) and piles of childrens' books (love love those). As a mom and as a former teacher, I also look at all the art and projects that kids bring home from school, day care, Sunday School and Awana (love love those). And this long ramble brings me to todays idea.


This clever parent, took multiple drawings and paintings and shrunk them on the computer or copy machine to be the same size. I love the clean crisp look of this, instead of projects all over the place. I think it would look great in a black frame as well.

You can adapt this same idea to photos of your last vacation, your kids school pictures from elementary through high school, all the logos your business has had etc.

Here is another way to display your kids "Picassos." This would take even less work. Frame your favorites and  make a collage of them on the family room wall.

And finally, I have a friend who photographs her favorites and throws all the originals away.

I would love your vote on ideas in the sidebar of this blog. So far 25 people have voted.

What do you do with the piles of art work that comes home with your kids?

photo credit - These two photographs are from one of my favorite decorating blogs. Jenny told me about decor8 and I have become a big fan.

Friday, May 7, 2010

IDEAS ~ number one

Ideas are what we have been talking about. I hope you read that post and voted in the poll. I wanted this post to have "lots and lots of ideas," but it took me so long to prepare and photograph the fun idea I want to share today, that I ran out of time.

Enter ~ PLAN B ~ Periodically, along with my regular postings, I will share ideas. I will number them like I did here. So stay tuned for more.


Step one: find a box and put your present in it.

Step two: choose the colors for your wrapping. Today I chose lime green, yellow, orange, and tan. At Christmas, I would choose red and green. Or you can choose the favorite color of the person you are sending the gift to. . . you get the idea.

Step three: choose a theme and find a magazine or catalog that matches it. Today, to match what is inside the box, I choose the theme of summer patio goodies. So a Crate and Barrel catalog was just the ticket.


Step four: Cut out pictures that you like that match your theme and colors and begin to glue them to the box. I use a glue stick. You can use just enough glue to hold it in place. I love to cover all six sides of the box.


Step five: Add an address and return address label. Cover the entire box with clear packing tape. This holds all the pictures on and give the package a very shiny finished look.


Sorry, I photographed the back side of the box, which didn't have as many cool colors. If you follow my blog, you know I am a big Target fan, but tonight I bought Target packing tape and it was crummy - the tape broke often and went on with lots of air bubbles.

Step six: Take your package to the post office to mail. This is very fun, because the postal worker always loves the package and oohs and aahs. This project works well, also with packets and even decorating envelopes. Here is another version I did for my friend, Kate. I used the cover of a Martha Stewart Living magazine on cupcakes.


Who wouldn't love a fun colorful surprise package to come in the mail. Enjoy this simple and inexpensive idea.

This idea came many years ago, when we were travelling with Royal Servants in Europe. One of our staff gals, Gwen, got a package from her sister that was decorated like this. Since then, the Childers woman have used this idea many many times. Thanks, to Gwen's sister.                  

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