gratefulness, unselfishness, letting God, Uncategorized

A green velvet couch

All week I had been waiting for the weekend. No work, no school, we got our tax returns back and could finally buy a couch! I had it all planned out. I woke up that morning with a joy and excitement that I hadn’t had all week. I sat down on the our old broken down, “free” couch and began to write, sipping coffee, taking my sweet time, and basking in the slow morning where I would probably make a huge breakfast and enjoy it while listening to a podcast by Yoga Girl, versus my usual rush out the door with a piece of peanut butter toast and throwing together a dinner in the crockpot. Suddenly I get a call from my co-worker. She pulled her back out while working and needed me to cover for her today. I sat on the couch annoyed to the point of tears. It had been a week full of exams, work days full of trudging in the mud because it hadn’t stopped raining all week, and coming home slightly pissed off and dissatisfied. “Why did she have to pick today to pull her back out?” I asked myself reveling in my selfish annoyance. I slapped some toast together, got ready and headed to the farm to work. As I was driving I felt God say to me, “Are you grateful?” Those words hit like a knife sliding down my gut and getting caught in the tough places. I thought about it for a moment and then I begrudgingly texted my coworker saying, “let me work all weekend for you. A pulled muscle takes a long time to heal and I know you need rest.”

I didn’t want to send that text. But I did it. And immediately my heart calmed. It was pouring rain at work and I was knee deep in mud and manure but I felt happy as heck. My heart was light and I thought to myself, “Is this what it feels like to let go of my control and just let things be?”

After work my mom and I were on the hunt for a couch. I had been telling her that it was hard moving to a new place and not having a place where my husband and I could both just sit and be together. It somehow didn’t feel like home yet. It’s hard in general moving somewhere new and I just wanted a little bit of consistency and the idea that this was in fact my home. We went to four different used furniture places. I loved all the high end, expensive couches and Perrin had to keep reminding me that our budget was incredibly low and we couldn’t spend our entire tax return on a couch. I again, dug my heels in and pouted and decided that if I couldn’t get a nice couch that would last a long time, then I wasn’t going to find a couch today. It was pouring rain and I was just frustrated with the entire day and how it hadn’t gone according to my plans. But my mom had one more idea. Lot 25:40. A salvage building that collects donations of furniture and other nicknacks and all the proceeds go to homeless. I walked in and saw a bunch of couches that were in decent shape and had amazing prices, but they all had been sold and were on hold. Mom and I walked around and then I reached an antique little vendor in the building and there was a cute and funky looking Victorian/70’s couch. I loved it. It was not the high end I was looking for, it was not the generic couch I had imagined, but I was in love with it. I looked at the price and it was within our tiny budget. I asked the man if I could put it on hold so my husband could come by and see it. He walked over to the couch flipped the price tag and said, “ma’am you do realize it’s 40% off of the original price, right? You might want to make a decision today.”

As he said those words I noticed writing on the floor directly in front of the couch and it read: “And my God will meet all your needs according to his riches in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:19

I felt like someone had slapped me across the face. This life wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about my schedule or my agenda or what I thought was right. It was about God. It was about messiness and disorder and maybe things aren’t going to pan out the way we had hoped. Maybe instead of the neutral average couch, I’ll find a green velvet one. Maybe instead of staying home and not working all weekend, I’ll work and I’ll do it with joy. Maybe life is about giving. About others. About living each day as if it’s the weekend. Waking up with an excitement and a joy and an anticipation that this life is really the best ever. We don’t only live once, we live everyday. And I can promise you it feels so much better when you wake up with hands opened from their tight fist, teeth unclenched and eyes wide open. Accepting everything as it comes and everyone exactly as they come. It’s uncomfortable and it’s very unnerving because it means they’re is no more control. But I can honestly tell you…it is beautiful. So this week, live like it’s your day off. Wake up with anticipation for whatever God is going to give you and say thank you. You might find what you were looking for.

Cheers to today!

Blogpost by Nan Ketchum nanbystillwaters.wordpress.com

Family Life, Seasonal, Thanksgiving

11 Topics for your Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving meals can be both fun, joyeous and somewhat predictable. We all come prepared to answer the lovable questions of “what are you up to now? How is school? What are your plans?” These questions are sweet and asked out of politeness and curiosity and while some of us may jump at the opportunity to talk about our plans, some of us may not feel as enthusiastic about providing boring answers. I love family and the wonderful occasion of gathering together and catching up on life. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. We are reminded of what life is all about. What really matters. We get to eat and eat and eat wonderful delicious homemade food! And while Thanksgiving may look different for everybody, I think we all long for that sense of community and fellowship.

We’ve put together some table topics for you to enjoy using at your own Thanksgiving gathering this year. Table topics can be a fun way to encourage everyone to share and to share about things that everyone can be interested in. They help us to remember why we celebrate Thanksgiving. Simply copy and paste these on note cards that you can tuck under everyone’s plate at the table. When everyone has eaten enough to start carrying on conversation, interrupt to explain you’ve hidden a card under each plate and you’d like each person to take a turn answering the question. Then allow everyone else to briefly chime in and share their own answer to your question.

1. What has happened to you this year that makes you thankful?

2. What makes Thanksgiving special to you?

3. If you had to eat one Thanksgiving dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

4. What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory?

5. What’s the most unusual food you’ve eaten on Thanksgiving?

6. Name any movie where they celebrate Thanksgiving.

7. Describe your perfect Thanksgiving.

8. Who are you most thankful for? Who has had the greatest impact on your life?

9. What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? And why?

10. What hard thing that has happened to you this year, that you have learned and grown from , are you thankful for?

11. What are some of God’s promises that make you thankful?

Happy Thanksgiving from Iris+Hart, in particular Cate, Nancy and Lauren. We hope each of you have a fun and memorable time with family and friends. We are thankful for each of you.

Enjoy your conversations with each other and let’s us know how it went. We love hearing from each of you.

**Possible answers for number 6: The Blind Side, Home for the Holidays, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving etc.

Homeschool, Motherhood, The Creative Home, Uncategorized

Your Home, the Imagination Station

I walked into the family room and there-toga and all-stood a Greek goddess. Her subjects were in an elaborate setting in sheet draped tents. They too had raided the linen closet as was apparent with their Greek costumes, and they were clearly her servants as they bowed to her every command. Our living room was almost daily transformed into some imaginative setting. Often their American Girl dolls had homes and stores and tea rooms on the sofa and ottoman as they pretended they were living in the early 1900’s with Samantha and her cohorts. Summertime meant that they were orphans in the tree house with only bread that they managed to take from the house as their sustenance. They led very impoverished and heroic lives out there in the yard. Such were the different imaginations of my five daughters growing up. How did they come to have such vivid imaginations I sometimes wonder?

Perhaps one factor that made it possible is that when my husband and I got married we decided not to put a TV in our home. We wanted to spend quality time together with each other, our friends and our one day family. The kids weren’t totally deprived as we did get a small TV for the purpose of watching videos (on a VCR back then) which we did on Friday nights. We made pizza and spread a big blanket on the floor. We all ate pizza and watched a movie together in the family room.

Maybe because I was their homeschool teacher who had the privilege of teaching each of them to read. Read we did, a lot of it and that helped grow their imaginations. I usually had a book that I read aloud to them. They loved to listen to classical books on tape we went on trips. Rest time was mandatory at our house as well and that meant reading time for the older ones. I chose curriculum that was heavy on literature, especially historical literature. Each of my girls developed a love for reading. Each of them still enjoy reading and some even love to write.

Our summers were spent in a far away place with no outside interferences like TV, telephones, gadgets and at first even any electricity. We got up when it was light and went to bed by lantern light. The girls would spend their days in the lake pretending they were mermaids or shipwrecked. They hiked and spent the majority of time outside collecting pine cones and leaves for crafts or for making mud-pies. It was the perfect place to grow one’s imagination.

Today technology has changed the way we do things. My young grandkids have iPads and all the many channels TV has to offer. They are involved in many sports and activities at such a young age. Is there room for their imaginations to grow and develop like their mother’s did? Yet when I visit they are playing with their American girls, one of which was their mother’s, and they have set up elaborate homes for them. The staircase is often filled with their many Barbies and make believe scenarios that they play. They love to create crafts and draw and paint. I enjoy watching them play with their cousins and the way they make up fun and creative things to do. Everyone knows that the toddler at Christmas time loves the box the gift came in more than the gift itself! My two year old granddaughter has spent many happy minutes playing in an empty box.

Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

“The ability to imagine things pervades our entire existence. It influences everything we do, think about and create. It leads to elaborate theories, dreams and inventions in any profession from the realms of academia to engineering and the arts.” (Aboutmybrain.com)

An article from Bright Horizons states this:

“Trying new ways of doing things and experimenting help develop critical thinking in children and foster creative problem solving. Furthermore, imagination builds social-emotional development by allowing children to contemplate different resolutions, thus boosting children’s confidence, which can be used in interactions with others. Imagination and creativity are also skills that our children will need when they join the workforce of the future.”

Even at a young age children have vivid imaginations that are ready to be developed given the time. Time. I think that’s really all that is necessary for that creative spark to ignite. Time alone with a few resources and few outside distractions. Time to think and fill their space with make believe. To just play. I loved watching my children play and my grandchildren now. It is amazing what the mind can think of when not inhibited or weighted down with distractions. The next time your living room is transformed into a scene out of your children’s creative juices be awed by them and even join in….if your imagination allows you to!