Wednesday, September 17, 2014

holding on to a bit of summer

I planted my zinnias late in the season. I didn't intentionally do this. I just didn't have room until I had pulled up all the garlic. And then I waited until mid-July to throw in the seeds.

I love zinnias. They are pretty much the only annual flower that I plant in the summer on a consistent basis. They are great for cutting which is exactly the reason I plant them. One day I'd love to have a big flower garden, but for now I just have a small space in one of our raised beds.

Upon our return from vacation this past Sunday, I noticed how the zinnias had all blossomed during our absence. Perfect timing.

And now I get to enjoy several vases of them in our home. I'm hoping that the unopened buds will get the chance to bloom before the frost hits hard. But for now, we'll enjoy this last little bit of summer.

Monday, September 15, 2014

when inspiration is found in rest...

What I always appreciate about vacations are how invigorated and inspired they always make me feel. The humdrum of life is so nicely broken up by a break away, be it a short or long break. Even just a day away holds the potential to refresh me and inspire me to view life through a different frame.

Vacations, days of rest, days away from our home do not usually make me want to stay away longer. Instead, I always find myself inspired and motivated to tackle my calling, my tasks, my home with more vigor and definitely more appreciation for the life I've been blessed with, reconfirming to me just how important it is to schedule in these moments of rest. Whether it be a day, a week, or maybe even just fifteen minutes, rest is so important to us as created beings. Why else would God give us the example of rest? Did God need to rest? Was he exhausted after creating the universe? Of course not. He rested to be an example to us. Our Creator knows the importance of rest and quiet in our lives.

While away on vacation, Ian turned eleven. Which got me thinking. In ten years, my dad and mom will be seventy. Ian will be twenty-one. Lily eighteen. And Brad and I will be forty-five. Ten years is a year short of the number of years we've had with Ian and those have gone by so fast. Just a reminder that life is but a vapor. And this reminder has encouraged me to really relish the moments. Each moment counts for something. Each moment makes a difference. Each moment has an impact on what is to come.

These short moments really do matter.

And to take these little short moments and gather them all up in a basket, we have our lives. Our lives are made up of all the short fragments. These little moments are the building blocks. Piece by piece, they are stacked and joined. So wouldn't it be wise for us to consider how we spend each one of these precious moments?

These are some thoughts I've been challenged with as of late.

I want to make each moment of my time here on this planet count for something. Even the dull moments can be life-changing when viewed, not through rosy-colored glasses, but through the lens of gratitude and thankfulness. The hard moments too, the ones that press and threaten to consume, even those can be approached with new meaning when looked at through a providential lens.

I'm learning how much my view and my attitude impact these moments, my children, my relationship with my husband, my relationship with those around me, my relationship with my Heavenly Father.

I want to see life through the eyes of Providence. I want to see life as a gift. I want to see life as good, although hard and challenging, but good because there is indeed still good left in this world. Even amidst the sin and the evil, there is still good in this world. Why? Because Jesus still lives and will live forevermore.

And that, my friends, is our source of hope. That is why we can walk confidently through this life. Not because of our talents or our ability to face the hard times, but because we walk through life with the Creator right next to us.

So I pray that I will continue to hold these moments of life in my hand just as my daughter lovingly and carefully holds her gems. As treasures. As little things to be cherished. As gifts sometimes wrapped up in beauty yet sometimes wrapped up in the messiness of life.

I want to make each one meaningful.  

{Cinnamon roll recipe here.}

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

getting in the swing of things...

I spent the ENTIRE day in the kitchen yesterday. ENTIRE day. Cleaning, boiling, peeling, cutting, and canning tomatoes. By the time I finished up around 6:30 p.m., my hands were wrinkled, rough, and burning. But stepping back to admire the 22 quarts of garlic tomatoes and the 24 pints of salsa felt pretty darn good. I decided that this was going to be my last big preserving week. My focus this week is to get as much of the canning/freezing done as possible. I made dilly beans a few weeks back so I'm planning on making at least one more run of those. Good grief, were they yummy. And then I definitely have more herbs to dehydrate for the winter. I am so thankful for my dried organic herbs come winter-time.

We recently had the opportunity to visit the Creation Museum in Kentucky. We spent three days there two weekends ago. Children are free this entire year with each paying adult ticket. We've been interested in going, and the free tickets were certainly reason enough to make us squeeze this trip into our busy schedule.

We had an amazing time, and we all learned so much. I came away with a much better understanding of how dinosaurs, dragons, the Ice Age, and many other things fit into the young-earth equation. We listened to a most interesting and informational speaker who explained how the six days of creation are supported by the Hebrew language to be six literal 24-hour days. This was something I didn't have much knowledge about prior to this visit. We attended a workshop on the Ice Age with Buddy Davis, and the kids got to sculpt their own sabertooth tiger head.

We came home refreshed, educated, and with a bunch of resources, books, and DVD's that I plan on using to supplement our science curriculum this year.

And while upon the subject of homeschooling, we started our studies several weeks back. We've kept a loose, more relaxed summer schedule the whole summer through, but have been more intentional the last three weeks.  The photos above are of the kids doing a taxonomy project last week. I was admittedly dreading this activity because I thought it might overwhelm them (and me.) Lily was a bit overwhelmed, but Ian enjoyed it way more than I ever thought he would. He organized and classified his Legos, and I was very impressed with how he chose to organize them. His mind is very tidy in this aspect.

Over this past winter, I had joined Audible's monthly plan which means I get one credit per month to use towards audiobooks. Most of the audiobooks are worth a credit so I'm basically getting one audiobook a month. This has proven to be a treasure in our home. I found some old desktop speakers in the basement that I plugged into my Kindle. We've been listening to audiobooks while we do chores, while we relax, and while the kids play quietly. I just purchased a kit that will enable me to plug my Kindle into my car and play the audiobooks while we're driving. We recently finished up reading Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time . I was going to order the next book in the series but, instead, decided to download the audiobook. I just have to say that I really love audiobooks. And my Kindle. I listened to The Hobbit yesterday while knee-deep in tomatoes. It really feels like I'm multi-tasking! Haha!