Happy Mother’s Day 2013

mothers_day

This is for all of you Moms out there and for all of us whose Moms have already left this world.

The Lord took my Mom home six years ago but this is how I often remember her:

geraniums-in-a-flower-box-laurel-talabere

When I was growing up, one of the houses we lived in had built-in brick planters that bordered the front porch. Every year Mom would plant bright red geraniums in those planters—just like the ones in this photo. They made the entrance to our home look so pretty! I wish I had a photo of her standing next to those gorgeous geraniums but I guess that doesn’t matter because I’ll always have the memories in my mind and in my heart.

Beloved, whether your Mom is still here with you or dancing in heaven, what memory is your favorite about her?

I love and miss you Mom!

AnnaSmile

Fireproof

Tidbit Tuesday

FireproofMovie

When the movie “Fireproof” first came out in 2008, I wanted to see it because my son is a firefighter. Simple, huh?

Actually, not so much. Seeing this movie greatly impacted Rick’s and my marriage and we decided to buy the DVD as well as the “Fireproof Your Marriage” Couple’s Kit Bible study. And I also bought the paperback Fireproof to read. If I like something a lot, I want to know as much as I can about it! That’s how I roll.

Our 10-year anniversary was in 2008 so we decided to have a private ceremony—just Rick and me—in which we renewed our covenant vows and exchanged new, matching wedding bands that have three etched crosses on them. Now, please understand that our marriage was not in peril but seeing this movie reinforced in both of us the need to tend to our relationship in a new, special way. Every. Single. Day.

It is so easy to let things slide in order to avoid conflict, but that just causes the little things to pile up into a huge mountain and then watch out! Here’s where a full-on blow-up can happen. One of the things we have learned is to let go of what doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things and yet make sure we talk over what does make a difference in our marriage. We make sure to be constantly and consistently vigilant to not let the embers of our love die out because of something we said or didn’t say. Or did or didn’t do.

I shared that I would be writing about “enough” this year, but let me clearly state that our marriages are not to be taken for granted. We need to nurture our marriages and our marriage partners every day. This is a case where “enough” is NOT enough!

Here’s a video trailer of “Fireproof” to whet your appetite in case you haven’t seen it. And if you have seen it, I’d like to challenge you to watch it again with a new frame of mind for how much more your marriage can be… even if—as was the case for Rick and me—you think your marriage is already the best it can be.

AnnaSmile

Tidbits…

One of my bloggy friends, Katie from Katherine’s Corner, has a “Tidbit Tuesday” tradition that I have enjoyed. On her Tidbit Tuesdays she shares a little about herself, and I think that’s a great idea. So I asked if she would mind my borrowing her idea for my blog, she graciously gave me the go-ahead. I love Katie’s site so please take the time to visit her there. You won’t be disappointed!

I don’t know if I’ll do Tidbit Tuesdays every week, but I’ll share tidbits about myself as often as I can!

Today’s tidbits about me:

  • I am a pink girl because I love everything about the color pink! But I think I’ve already told you that, so let’s move on {giggle}.

  • My favorite book of the Bible is Isaiah.

  • I have a pink teddy bear hat tree.

Care to share something about you with us?

Hello Autumn!

I am originally from upstate New York but have been living in the Southwest since 1994. This saturation of autumn color is what I miss most about living in the Northeast. I have always loved the change of color during the cool autumns in the Adirondack Mountains not too far from where I grew up.

I know many of you have already done this but I guess it’s time for this girl to dress up our home for fall!

Oh, and let’s not forget the kind of comfort cooking and eating that is just too heavy to enjoy in the summer heat. Hmm… what shall I make first? Apple or pumpkin pie? Crock pot chili or stew?

How about you? What do you do to celebrate autumn?

Recovery Mode

Reblogged from October 22, 2011: an ongoing issue for me in my new normal…

CRASH AND BURN

It has been a very busy week for me and I’m grateful I was able to do everything I did, but… now I’m going through the crash and burn phase—what I call my payback days. Living with multiple chronic illnesses is no picnic. It’s very discouraging to look around the house and see everything that needs doing but only being able to do the minimum to keep up. I try hard not to think back on how much I used to be able to do, seemingly simple things like cleaning my whole house in one morning.

Those days are long gone.

Now I can only do one thing, such as dusting one room, and then have to stop and rest for awhile before doing anything else. And quite often, dusting that one room is the only task I am able to accomplish that day.

Take something as enjoyable as having company. Rick and I have friends over for coffee on Thursday mornings, and I love my time with these close friends whom we call “family.” But when everyone leaves, I suddenly realize I am wiped out! If the migraine I woke up with hasn’t completely left me, then it feels horrible by that point because of all the talking and laughing during that sweet fellowship. I wonder if that’s what the phrase “hurts so good” means—well, maybe not.

To this “get it all done now” turned “maybe tomorrow” person, it has been a slow process. From denial to frustration to understanding and finally to acceptance, this journey has not been easy. However, I’ve learned some things that work for me:

  1. Accept what you can do and don’t worry about the rest — it will eventually get done.
  2. Make yourself rest often, even if you don’t think you need it at the time. If you’re like me, your mind wants you to keep on going (like that Energizer bunny) even when your body tells you to stop.
  3. Enlist help from your spouse and children for tasks that are too difficult or time-consuming for your energy levels.
  4. Find things to do that you enjoy but won’t add to your pain burden. I can still write, something that fills me with joy, but I’ve learned I have to pace myself  because I could easily go on for hours! I have also discovered how much I enjoy crocheting, especially for others. This keeps me busy, makes me feel productive, and moves the focus from me and my pain to whomever I’m crocheting for at the time. And I have always loved to read and lose myself in a good book.
  5. Be thankful for what you are still able to do, even if it is something as simple as making coffee.

Every so often when I do get out with Rick for coffee or a meal out or to get together with friends, someone will ask how I’m doing that day. My response? “I’m here!” I think that short and sweet statement says it all.

Happy 8 Years!

Jeremiah 29:11

This is the verse that God gave Rick and me when we were praying about moving from California. Today we’re celebrating eight years in our home in northern Arizona. The story behind our move is an amazing testament to God’s leading in our lives.

The year was 2002 and we were living in central California when we got serious about moving. We analyzed our budget and then realized it wasn’t the right time. We still had a small mortgage to finish paying off and wanted to pay cash for our next home. So we agreed to wait and pray about it, separately and together.

The plan was that if one of us felt God telling us it was time to move, we would let the other know.

Fast forward two years. One day as we were driving home from church, I turned to Rick and told him I had been feeling as if it was time for us to move. Rick’s astonishment made me laugh as he replied, “I’ve been thinking the same thing.”

Now, understand that Rick and I had not been idle during the two years we prayed about this move. After deciding that we wanted a place with cooler summertime temps but not a lot of winter snow, we visited several areas in New Mexico and Arizona. As we checked out each location, we prayed for God’s will. Where did He want us to move?

Once we felt that we were supposed to relocate to northern Arizona, we continued to pray as we began to look at different towns to see where we could comfortably afford to live. We found a wonderful real estate agent who took us to several properties in our price range so we could get a feel for the cost of living there. We told her we weren’t ready to move yet, so once we were home again, she sent us emails with new properties we could afford.

Within the next year, two things happened that showed us it was the right time to move: we were able to finish paying off our mortgage, and the housing market situation changed to our advantage. We immediately put our house for sale and contacted our real estate agent in Arizona to tell her we were ready to choose a new home.

During this time, we made a point of letting both of our real estate agents know of our firm belief that God was orchestrating this whole move.

The first offer on our house fell through very quickly and our local agent (who also happened to be our next-door neighbor) was devastated as she delivered the news to us with tears in her eyes. We assured her that it was not her fault, and that God was still in control and would lead just the right buyer to us.

On the second offer, we had just finished signing the agreement to accept the offer when our agent received a call from the buyers to say they had to pull out of the deal. There had been an accident in front of their house that morning and someone had driven right into their living room. They had no choice but to back out.

Once again we assured our agent that we were not concerned because God would bring the right buyer to us soon. Our agent was almost confused at our calmness over this whole thing.

Throughout this, we had also made another trip to pick out a home in Arizona. We found exactly the right one for us and began the extensive purchase process with a decent down payment. Each time we lost an offer on our California house, we let our Arizona agent know. To say she was worried would be to state the obvious: she did not want to lose our business!

The third offer—of more than our asking price—amazed us even though we were completely trusting that God had wonderful plans for us as promised in Jeremiah 29:11—the verse He gave us. This offer not only overwhelmed us but caused our agent to be awestruck. All we could say was that we knew God had great plans for us!

I love how God uses us for His glory! He used this situation as an encouragement not only for us but for both of our real estate agents. Rick and I don’t know how this impacted their lives, but we believe that He somehow used our faith and trust in Him to speak to these two people.

By the way, we do get snow here in the winter but it generally stays on the ground for only a day or two. I grew up in snow country (the Northeast), so I do appreciate the serene beauty of snow but love that it doesn’t stay around here for long!

Here are some photos of our home and the high desert area where we live:

Our Arizona home

Yes, the sky is that blue most of the year. During monsoon season (which is happening right now) we still wake up almost every day to this gorgeous blue sky but by mid-morning the storm clouds start to roll in.

San Francisco Peaks

I found this photo of the San Francisco Peaks to the northeast of us online. It is a good—but closer representation—of what we can see from our back patio.

View from our patio: beautiful sunrises (and the sunsets are gorgeous too!)

I can’t end this story without sharing something very special that happened right after we made the down payment on our new Arizona home and then found out that the second offer on our California home fell through. One of my writer friends (who is now home with the Lord) asked me to read Isaiah 40:31 again with this precious insight in mind:

~Waiting~

Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. —Isaiah 40:31

The root word for wait in Hebrew means to twist, to stretch. The original meaning was twisting and stretching fiber to make a strong rope. The idea in the Hebrew language is that waiting strengthens us by this twisting and stretching process, and that waiting is never considered a passive posture.

As the Lord loves to do, He used my writer friend to speak clearly to Rick and me with words of encouragement. That’s just the kind of awesome and amazing God He is!

Beloved, if you’re in the middle of what seems like an unending waiting period, be assured that God is indeed at work even if you don’t feel that He is. Maybe God is working out the details of the situation or honing some of the rough edges in your life as you learn to trust Him more every day.

Or perhaps He is simply stretching your faith in Him.

Let us continue to stay strong and continue to trust in Him!

Faith and Trust

I hope you’ve enjoyed all the colorfully illustrated Scripture passage images I’ve shared here for the past couple of weeks while I have enjoyed a self-imposed and much-needed break from my blog. It is really nice to be able to write posts ahead of time and schedule them for a future date.

While I was resting from all the blogging activity, I prayerfully realized I have been devoting too much time to my blog which translates to tons of time on my computer. I have learned not to take it lightly when God is trying to teach me something through several different means. In this case, God showed me in various ways that although I am sharing from my heart for the Lord’s purposes, all this computer time means sacrificing time in other areas: my quiet time with the Lord spent in prayer, meditation, Bible reading and devotions; time with my sweet and understanding hubby Rick; taking care of the home God has blessed and entrusted to Rick and me;  fulfilling other writing obligations; and finally … just plain rest, which I sorely need because of ongoing chronic illnesses.

In other words, I have been so much into the work of the Lord that I have been neglecting the Lord of the work.

Not to worry, though. I’m not deserting my blog, just praying about how to reduce my computer time. I have a few ideas I want to mull over and pray about and I’ll share these with you a bit at a time.

For now, I won’t be writing every day but only as the Lord leads me. From past experience, I have learned that God always has a better plan than anything I could ever think up on my own, so I can’t wait to see what He has planned for the future of this blog.

Beloved, God’s love and faithfulness never changes. Because I know He wants the best for me, I also trust and know He will lead me to that best as long as I first and foremost truly seek to know Him better. And that will lead to my understanding His perfect will for my writing and bloggy life.

Leaning hard on the Lord with faith and trust,

Sweet William

SWEET SATURDAY

Aren’t these gorgeous? On this Sweet Saturday, I’d like to introduce to you Sweet Willliam if you don’t know “him” already.

Sweet William (aka “Dianthus Barbatus”) is a perennial, sweet-smelling flower that is usually planted as an annual. I remember buying these as Dianthus, where I included them in one of my flower beds way back when. They do enjoy some shade so if you live in a particularly hot and sunny climate—like I do in the southwest—plant these babies in areas where there is at least partial shade for a good portion of the day and keep them well watered.

I just thought I’d share this sweet flower with you seeing as it is Sweet Saturday!

Frugal Jar and Bottle Decorating

Today’s Frugal Friday is brought to you via Katherine’s Corner, one of my favorite blogs. One of her recent blog posts was called “That’s Jarring,” and really got my attention.

You see, Rick recently surprised me with a blue glass bottle he found at a yard sale. I decided to use it for olive oil and display it next to my stove so I immediately put it in the dishwasher to clean it out properly. Sadly, the dishwasher destroyed the shiny finish but I didn’t want to trash it. I’ve been looking for a frugal way to fix it up so I can still use it and I found the perfect way when I read “That’s Jarring.”

Here’s the before of my sad blue bottle:

As you can hopefully see, the stopper was not affected because I did not put it in the dishwasher too. Here’s a glimpse from Katie’s blog post that gave me the idea of how to make this bottle look much better:

Now all I need to do is buy some twine, which is on my shopping list. When I finish this project, I’ll update this post with my “after” pics. Here is another sweet and frugal idea from Katie’s post:

So, please stop by Katherine’s Corner to see and read more of her “Jarring” post, including great pics and links to other sites with ideas about repurposing jars and bottles. Oh, stick around there awhile and you’ll also find other craft projects, recipes, giveaways and lots more.

Thanks, Katie, for the great idea!