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Name: A. Ann
Interests: God. My husband. Our children. Art and photography. Home decor, creativity. Sports. The great outdoors, camping. Fashion. The beach and warm weather. Music and writing. Simplicity.
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|My desire is that this blog not be about views, comments or advertisements. This is where I write now and then about my relationship with God and motherhood; and keep in touch with family, friends and meet new friends too. Sometimes I just post pictures, my choice of art right now, when there is no time to write. My hope is that people will feel encouraged to pursue relationship with Jesus Christ (not a list of religious rules/lifestyle), see purpose in the storms of life and live each day with less regrets. And if they are the creative/artistic type, enjoy the photos too. More info under "profile" at the top. Feel free to message me and I will try to write back ~ sometimes it's immediate, sometimes it's weeks later. Please ask for permission before using pictures or writing.
|"Everything about which we are tempted to complain may be the very instrument whereby the Potter intends to shape His clay into the image of His Son -- a headache, an insult, a longline at the check-out, someone's rudeness or failure, misunderstanding, disappointment, interruption. . . |
See it as a chance to die, meaning a chance to leave self behind and say "YES" to the will of God.
Not a morbid martyr complex but a peaceful and happy contentment in the assurance that goodness and mercy follow all the days of our lives. Wouldn't our children learn godliness if they saw the example of contentment instead of complaint? Acceptance instead of rebellion? Peace instead of frustration?"
Elizabeth Elliott - "Keep A Quiet Heart" page 91.
This past week I began to feel a little bit better in the afternoons. My mornings and nights remain very trying. I was so encouraged with this progress - I have wanted to get out with the children.
Truth is, I have missed them so bad. It's not like I haven't been with them. . . but yet, it's like I haven't!
I must say that the children have done amazing considering all that we've been walking through. I am astounded really.
But this week was kind of like waking up from a three/four month fog - months of mere physical survival - and finding out just where everyone was emotionally, and everything that has been set aside, ignored and not done for over three months.
The home here - wow, what a mess. The children's hearts - attitude issues that have been moved past or not dealt with because I just couldn't. It has been like waking up to disaster. I know it's not that bad, but I'm pregnant and it feels that bad.
The older children have been taking care of themselves in so many ways. I have had to rely on the older boys to do so much more than normal, that I should and would normally do. I am not a believer in older siblings raising younger ones. I am a believer that that is the Robert's and my job. Period.
I can't explain the frustration and agony of wanting to just be me and be the mom I love to be. It's humbling.
I am very grateful and excited about God's little surprise forming inside of me, but being unable to meet the emotional and discipleship needs of our children in order to have another has never been my belief, desire, nor would I ever encourage it. It has been such a mixed bag of emotions these last few months.
Being deeply relational with my children and desiring to know them not collectively, but individually, I so loathe being able to see and hear them struggling because of my inability to be their mom, and friend.
"...But godliness with contentment is great gain."
I have struggled greatly with contentment in my situation. Inwardly I have fought super-duper frustration - battling it out, often times alone, covers pulled over my head. . . or when bent over the toilet or sink in agony. I can't number how many times I have said to God, "I can't do this. God, the kids need more than a sick mama. This isn't right."
I've known God is bigger than all this and perfect in His ways, but it's almost like most of the time I didn't even have the mental, emotional, or physical energy to work out my issues with Him.
God hasn't hesitated to speak boldly back to my selfishness, wrapped in good sounding motherly pleas. Sometimes He speaks something just so simply like, "I am engineering the universe of unimaginable complexity. You're not lost in the shuffle."
Or, "I am the Potter, you are the clay."
Or, "My suffering was not for nothing, neither is yours."
And, "I am the Refiner."
Yesterday it was very tenderly, yet straight to the point, "I am Light, this is to expose the darkness in you so that I might fill you with light."
"...Be content with what you have: for He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you." – Hebrews 13:5
I am silenced for a time. . . until the next argument heard from the other room that I know I cannot help because I will throw up on the way out of bed, or when I hear cereal being scattered from the box over the kitchen floor and yell for Scott to save as much cereal as possible that Baby has poured out. Or. . .
Back to this past week.
In the afternoons when I began to physically feel somewhere near regulatory, I was anxious to try to resume normality in schedule and discipline. I soon realized I was going to have to move slowly into everything. Tasks are daunting and exhausting.
This past week I saw all the ground I've lost with with children spiritually and emotionally. Suddenly all the home catching up seemed unimportant in comparison. How could I concentrate my better feeling afternoons on chores, errands, and undone-long-over-due cleaning when my their eyes and attitudes were pleading for the parenting they have needed these months of my all day and night sickness?
This past week of afternoons I didn't get bathrooms cleaned, laundry caught up on. Nothing really. Everything is still over three months behind. My energy is still ultra low even when I'm feeling better and my emotions are shot from months of fighting to just survive my circumstances. But. . .
But I began the journey once more of moving back into the hearts and lives of my children. One afternoon at a time, one talk at a time, one disagreement worked through at a time - grateful for each time I can help the little ones and not have to call for the others to stand in as mom instead. The weather permitted getting outside into the beautiful sunshine -- lavishing the little energy I had and better feeling moments into enjoying each child and making the afternoons special for them.
I am asking, praying for another week of afternoons where I will have the strength to be with them and a part of their lives from some place other than the bedside. I think I might have moved past the worst 16 weeks and into the middle part now, and for this I am thankful. Each time this past week that I was able to do just regular mom things, the seemingly mundane, I was so happy.
I feel I have failed the test I was given the past three/four months as I lay in bed. I didn't soar through with grace, or contentment. I fought it. There were times of resign, times of acceptance or peace. . . but for the most part, I have felt I have been wrestling God as Jacob wrestled with the angel.
I don't think I've ever told God "I can't do this!" so many times in such a short period of time. Although I've walked through this same exact trial seven times before, even in worse surrounding circumstances - the grace seemed to be lacking this time around more than ever. . . or maybe I've just blocked out the other seven times!
Whatever the case, my heart has been exposed.
This morning I've been tempted to feel shame and guilt over my lack of trust and love of God during my suffering. Why couldn't I have been more content? Why did the constant, intense physical stress break me and emotionally leave me so wanting? Wasn't I stronger? Have I only grown weaker the older I get, instead of more mature in Him?
I'd like to believe that as I've gotten older, I am actually more in tune with my lack of being like Him than ever before.
Maybe I am more open to my weaknesses, less blind. Maybe I no longer see purpose behind hiding my lack of contentment, but rather, being more honest with myself and God - and others. Maybe I know now that it's okay to say, "I can't" because the truth is, I can't.
But in acknowledging that I can't, did I look to Him to give Him glory in that He can through me?
Sometimes. Some days. Some nights. Some moments.
And other times not at all.
This morning I sit here and I wonder what it is that God wants to show me through all this. I know it's not shame and guilt. . . or self-pity or to pull up those boot straps and try harder from here on out.
I know I have a place of repentance with Him - and actually this is an exciting thing to me because it means that He is working in me and has revealed His holiness and my lack there of. That alone is revealed by Him and I thank Him for it.
I think life is full of class rooms and truth is, I've never been an "A" student. But that doesn't mean that the class wasn't for my good or that I didn't learn anything. In fact, I get the feeling if I were an "A" student that might kind of be like the Pharisees in the Bible, always pulling off the good grades, but possibly never really learning anything.
I want to learn, even if it means I just barely pull through the class He has me in. I want to learn about Him and who He is - which I have through these past sick months - and I want to learn about me and who I really am. And I have, I hope.
This is good. This is worth it. This is life. This is His love. This is all a part of His refining that draws me upward to Him, and exposes what a burden and misery it is to love and live for self. . . ~
It reminds me of some conversations with Christian this past week.
In my afternoons of being out of bed, I realized Christian had slacked off from being part of the team around here and was leaving his share of the chores to his brothers. It's not entirely his fault - after all, nine year old boys need moms to guide, direct and disciple them daily and I've been absent in that way so much during this pregnancy.
A few days ago I asked him to step back up to the plate and start swinging again with the rest of us. He didn't want to. It was evident.
Over the course of several days I watched him become more stubborn to my authority and instructions. He was discontent with what I was asking of him. He did it, but with sulking. He reminded me of me and how I was towards God with this pregnancy all these months in bed.
Yesterday it came to a head when I asked him to take the boys clean clothes, fold them, and put them away. He and I ended up sitting back behind the house against the fence, sun beating down on our faces, his head in his hands - a place away from all the other children and where he had run to.
There are many things I love about Christian and here is one of them: he is who he is and he doesn't try to be anything but that. I always know where his heart is. He tells me. He doesn't beat around the bush. He doesn't put on a show of goodness. He either is, or he is not. I prefer this over a child who acts good, but inside is nothing but wormwood. I have such great hope for Christian because he will be a black or white person, nothing in between.
"Mom," he said, head hung down, knees pulled up, "Mom, I've been miserable for days now. I've been discouraged for four days in a row and it all started because I don't like to do things that I don't want to do."
I pushed his hair away from his face and watched the tears roll off his long black eye lashes and down.
I let my hand rest on his knee and stayed silent so he continued, "I don't want to be this way but I can't seem to change myself. I want to love hard work like the other boys do, but I just can't."
"It's hard isn't it?" I said quietly, "It's hard to carry that burden and emptiness of selfishness. I know because I've done it. It's miserable when we live life that way. . ."
We sat quietly for awhile, I tilted my face towards the hot sun and I could feel my own burden of selfishness.
"Christian," I continued, "We will always have to do things that feel too hard for us. We will always have to do things that we don't want to. That's life. That is this world down here. If you spend your life fighting that and think the pursuit of happiness is just doing what you want to do and what you like to do, you will be miserable. . ."
"Mom, that's how I feel right now. Miserable." Christian said between little sobs.
We sat against the fence, away from the world and the loudness of the house. He's not into lectures, 'cause who is and so I said something like, "Christian, I know you need time alone. You're right, you can't change yourself but you are still responsible before God for your actions and attitudes. You need to think it through by yourself. You need to cry out to God, and hear from Him not just me. You've spent several days carrying a heavy burden of self - give your load to Jesus. He's waiting for you. He loves you even more than I do and wants you to know freedom from your misery."
I prayed with him and I left my son there against the fence in God's care.
Ya know, that's one of the hardest things to do in parenting I think - just leading them to Christ in simple truth with quietness and love and then letting God alone with them to work as He wishes and when He wishes. I can't change him and it's not my job to. It's my job to love him and lead him to the Father. That's not easy.
As I walked back inside, I looked back at him, sitting there against the fence head between legs. I saw myself. I saw my last three/four months of wrestling with God - "God I can't do this!" screaming from my mind and heart.
My mind replayed Christian, telling me as I loaded his arms with boys' clothes, "Mom, I can't do this." And I knew of course that it wasn't that he couldn't, but that he didn't WANT to.
That has been me. I was telling Him I can't.
I had thought I was being honest with God, but really I wasn't. It wasn't that I couldn't do it because He was there all along to aid, assist, and strengthen my inner being and would see me through. It was that I didn't WANT to.
Those words I don't really like to hear. But oh, they are true and I find deliverance in them this day. God is good to refine and enroll us in the classes of life that we don't want to be in, or go through.
I don't think He's expecting or even looking for us to ace our life classes, I think His intention for them is for us to learn of Him, and ourselves. There is a difference in getting A's, and actually learning.
Here is a slice of life with the children this past week. . . what awesomeness to see them enjoy life. All the little things show me the bigness of God.
Song for my week.
Psalm 62:8 "Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Selah."
Full Saturday tomorrow . . . ready-or-not here it comes. The five older children have their first soccer games.
(go to bottom of page and turn off blog music first. Sorry for the inconvenience.)
My sister sent me this song. Then a few others suggested this song to me as well. My boys - hey heard it on the radio and said, "Mom, Laura Story has this new song and it's good. Real good. It's for you. . ."
It is for me - but it's not just for me - so I just had to share it here too.
Robert put this rock by my bed sometime beginning of last month. He set it upright, giving it the appearance of a heart. Some weeks later, it remained by my bed. It still remains - but with some added words, "Just Live The Next Moment."
Sunday afternoon the children wanted to head out to the property. I really wasn't up for it - I was having hot and cold flashes - going from jacket, scarf, and hat to short sleeve shirt over and over again. I couldn't stand to think of them all out there having fun though without me there to watch.
I watched from my perch on a log for a bit, then moved to my regular picnic table "bed" - and then to the barn where Itty was investigating bugs. Once out of the wind, I got hot again - and I hung up my scarf and jacket on Itty. She looked much cuter then I did in them.
I am enjoying the AC on tonight. . . I'm sure that sounds strange with so many still coming out of winter in other places. It's late but Scott is up working on a research paper that is due tomorrow for his English class. He's been writing on the Persian War. I'm up to assist him, if he so needs.
I have been thinking about a different "war" though here tonight. It's the war for my soul - our souls as women in general I guess. How easily we can believe lies, thinking we are fighting the right war on the right side when we're not.
Maybe I will just speak for myself - I know I have been there. Thinking I am fighting the enemy of my soul, the enemy of my marriage and family. . . but in reality, I've sided with him because I have believed lies that have turned my eyes off of Jesus.
"A lie has to look a lot like the truth in order to fool people. . ."
This is quoted from something I over heard this evening on a Focus on the Family radio drama the kids were listening to. When I heard this tonight I said, "Stop, guys, can you go back? I want to hear that again!" It was just so profound, yet simple.
People twist the truth to suit their purposes, ideas, standards, agendas - sometimes merely for control over their lives, the lives of others, their reputation, and children. Sometimes they twist the truth just so and attach God's name to it because it brings in more money. Sometimes the truth is twisted unknowingly, maybe even sincerely. . . but still, it is not real truth and leads people to take their eyes off of God and onto external, performance based religion.
Yet when the people of God know what the truth is - it becomes easier to see the lies. When we have a firm foundation in God's Word we aren't as easily fooled.
This is why it is so important that we are grounded in the foundational truths of the gospel. So often we don't take time or have hearts to search out the Bible ourselves, or the context of Scriptures used by others to promote a "spiritual issue," standard, or "biblical lifestyle."
Some people say a lot of high minded and "beautiful" talk about certain issues, or "biblical mandates," -- God reaches into the lies and pulls us back to the truth when we set aside all that others are telling us and focus back on HIM - and HIM alone.
Don't be quick to jump on the band wagon of the most popular speaker, preacher, or homeschooling trend. Don't just take what others tell you to be true, as true! Jump instead into the Word of God. Get in communion with Christ. Life is about Him - not all the other little things we sit around and judge others for because they aren't living their lives like we've been told we should live ours.
When we are in a real relationship with Christ - being led by the Holy Spirit - He opens our eyes to the lies that people very high mindedly mix with a bit of truth. . . the lies that have led and are leading many "sheeple" astray. ("Sheeple" = those looking for something or someone other than God to fill the void, emptiness, and desire they have to control their circumstances, families, and futures.)
Instead of living their lives out of love for Christ and others, "sheeple" live their lives according to other people's teachings and interpretations of God's Word, never truly digging into God's Word and asking the Holy Spirit to guide them. They are easily misled by the appearances of others who seem to have it all together.
It is twisted, complicated really. . . lies made to look like truth, maybe even mixed with a little truth - lifestyles promising righteous outcomes - fooling those who are not grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Fooling them to think that their beliefs, external lifestyle choices IS the gospel, and is relationship with God.
But it is not. It is merely religion, dead religious behavior.
I hear from many who unknowingly have stumbled into lies that have been paraded as truth. Women who have followed blindly, thinking they are walking righteously, often times out of sincere desire to want to do what is right for their family - yet all the while carrying burdens they can't explain, fear they can't deny, control they can't relinquish, and great difficulty loving other fellow believers who do not live or believe as they have chosen to live and believe.
My heart aches for these. I hear the spiritual unrest. I hear the lack of grace, love. I see the lack of mercy. I feel the pride. I can because I've been there. I ache because I know the consequences. I weep because I know what it's like to lose sight of God's unconditional love for me and others, and be completely blinded to knowing that I've lost it, thinking I've actually gained spirituality.
My heart yearns for you to know truth from lies. . .
To know God more than you know the list of dos and don't. To know holiness is something that comes out of relationship with God, and not out of things that you do in order to gain His favor. . . or worse, merely man's approval and to keep man made consciences silenced.
I long for a day that my message box is filled with messages from women who long to tell me about how God has met with them, instead of how God could not be meeting with me due to my lack of abiding by what their list of holiness looks like.
Oh, to hear women speak of their love for God! Love for the lost souls and to make Christ known! Love for others not like them! Instead of telling me so fervently why they believe Mary Pride or Nancy Cambell's take on "children are a blessing!" is the creed they live their lives by and where they blindly think they have found fulfillment.
So often we take off on these things. Often times it can be a little truth mixed with some false interpretation, separated from the rest of Scripture, combined with a few lies that lead to false teachings. Add a few people who have the appearance that all turned out grand by following these "truths," and followers flock.
This leads to beliefs/and or lifestyles that are not in line with God's Word or a heart of love for Him or others - all the while, making one believe they are doing it for God and His holiness. Sometimes all this develops into nearly cultic looking and acting groups that are not winning others to Christ, but attracting those within the already churched community who don't realize they are looking for something besides Jesus to fix their marriage, family, or personal dilemmas.
Sadly, it's easy to just swallow, gulp down, live out, and judge others who don't swallow what we did.
I've been there. I've swallowed like that before. I did it to be accepted by certain people. I'm sure others swallow for different reasons, but that was mine.
At first it felt so true, so righteous. . . like I was doing the "right thing." Like I had seen the "light!" Like I had heard my "call." It felt good to be accepted and all I had to do was look, act and talk a certain way. I gulped down - drank the lemonade, seeds and all. Never did I wonder if it was fresh lemonade (God's Word to me), or just, ya know, the counterfeit stuff - the lemonade mix that is like one percent lemon and the rest, well, who knows what.
Sometimes we're so out of touch with God and who He is that we can't tell the difference between truth and lies. Like the quote from the drama series, lies can be wrapped so well and sound so right that we are fooled. A lot of people can be fooled.
If we have been drinking fresh squeezed lemonade, we can tell when we get that cheap artificial stuff handed to us instead. If you have a living relationship with Christ and are in His Word, you can tell the difference between lies mixed with a little truth -- and just real truth.
You know what I found to be the result the times in my life where I was a "sheeple" instead of being a "Berean?"
(Acts chapter 18:11 Paul refers to the Bereans as being ones who "searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so" - meaning they didn't just take what they heard - or other people's studies, they studied themselves! Women, we are to be "Bereans." We are to be lovers of His Word in such a way that we do not just take what we hear. We are to question, we are to search and seek the truth.)
I found my heart lacking love - all the while thinking I was loving others to tell them of their weakness.
There was self-righteousness, pride. Which God hates.
I was becoming self-absorbed in performing my great acts of holiness before God and man. . .
I cut myself off from those who needed to hear the gospel, segregating myself away from those who didn't share my point of view. I unknowingly became fixated on others weaknesses. In time, I lacked desire to read God's Word - instead reading all types of other "good" books to further "my walk with God."
I found emptiness. Blindness to my own weaknesses. Depression. Comparison.
And a forgetfulness of GOD'S GREAT AND UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. I forgot the cross - for me, and for others.
God got a hold of me, in His mercy. I thought I was grounded in the gospel, but I let the fear of those who made themselves out to be godly, become my guide instead of Christ.
Because of my experience, I want to lift my eyes off of the "down here" and encourage others to do the same. I want to put my eyes on God - first, foremost, and lastly. What is on my heart tonight may not apply to your life at all. Maybe it does. I really don't know.
All I know is that as I sat here tonight, post open, hands on keyboard - asking God to reveal to me what it was He wanted me to write. . . this is what came.
Maybe you have walked where I have walked. Or maybe you are being tempted even now to get caught up in lies that look like truth because you aren't really sure what the truth is - and someone else sounds oh so sure they do know what the truth is!
Maybe you have fallen from giving grace to others as you unknowingly have taken a course that is performance based and self-righteous. Maybe you have lost sight of God's great grace in the gospel as you have headed down a path, following like a sheep - after another shepherd other than Jesus Christ. . .
Let me encourage you! Let me tell you that there is LIFE in Christ alone! Go back to your first love. . . or maybe discover His amazing love for the first time.
Set aside all the other charismatic voices, blogs, hype that get your eyes off of God and onto the issues, dos and don't, ALL TYPES OF THINGS - that may seem good, but are just the enemy's ploy to get you off track from keeping your relationship with Him first and center.
You can love again. You can love those who don't think, live, look like you. There is a world outside of us that needs Jesus. Stop the segregation, and reach out as we've been told to do. We are to be salt and light. Not salting others with our standards and belief systems, but with the gospel.
We are His hands, His feet. We are to proclaim the gospel!
But do we really know the gospel? Or do we only have a lifestyle to offer the world?
Do we offer the world quiverfull doctrines, lists of dos and don't, homeschool shout outs, look-at-us conservative lifestyles with outwardly great performing children, and out of context verses to convince them of our rightness. . . mere empty religion?
Or do we have the gospel to give? A HOPE because we know we are hopeless without HIM? A peace that is beyond any religion and focuses on relationship with Jesus Christ?
What is it we are "selling" by our lives and talk? Are we offering the love of Christ and the hope of the gospel? Or are we just a commercial or a realty show of a whole lot of outward christianize bling?
Let's become "Bereans." Let me encourage you to put down the books, the speakers, the conferences, the seminars, the catalogs and get with Jesus Christ and His Word. Go and find rest for your soul. Go broken, expect healing! Go needy, find all your deepest heart needs met in Him.
Go with no fear. For she who seeks Him, will find Him.
When He is found, all else will fade. The burdens fall. Control is relinquished. Peace overcomes. Have you been striving? Striving ceases at the foot of the cross!
Our righteousness is finally seen as filthy rags, His righteousness covers.
"...for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. . ."
I love how this verse clearly tells us what the kingdom of God is: righteousness, peace, joy IN THE HOLY SPIRIT.
Can we have righteousness, peace and joy apart from the Holy Spirit? No. Can we have the Holy Spirit without a real and breathing, relationship with Jesus? No.
We have a great reason for going to Him. Without Him we will not know what a lie looks like and we will be fooled because it will seem like truth to us. We are very needy for Him. I am very needy for Him!
Awesomely, He is there waiting to heal us from the lies and restore us to truth. Amazingly, His love has never changed. He is the same today and forever and it has nothing to do with how you perform. Astoundingly, His arms are open wide and by His great mercy He changes hearts, He changes lives.
He is God - He alone saves us from ourselves. To have Him as your all is to no longer feel need for anything else.
A much less important part of this post ~ but here is my bed of little afternoon projects from today. . .
We made these little crosses and hearts to hang from our "Easter tree" we plan to have at our party:
I had a torn old white pillow case that gave beautiful fabric for the crosses.
We began to make pinwheels out of old book pages - hoping to make a garland of pinwheels. These are so quick and easy to make. Morgan could make them on her own.
We made fabric flowers out of scrap fabrics and trims - all you need is a needle, white thread - gather the fabric tight on one side of the fabric and then tie off in a circle.
I plan on putting them on one of the tables, just lying about randomly. . .
And also using them for garlands and such. . .
Until the party, I will hang one right here in the bedroom ~ it is so happy looking.
Morgan and I made bunches of flowers from the old book pages and white tissue paper. Layer six pieces of tissue paper/or paper and cut in the size of about a shoe box. Then fold back and forth in fan like shape. When it is all folded up, cut each end rounded like. Then fold it in half and tie a string around the middle. Unfold from the middle and then slowly bring up each layer of tissue towards the middle, molding it in the direction you desire. After all six layers are brought up on each side, from the bottom of the flower, scrunch in the middle.
The girls and I were enjoying the latest issue of the Southern Lady and came across an article about a painter with these lovely copies of her dress paintings. We couldn't help but cut them out, hoping to do something special with them. . .
We took the cut outs and pasted them to old book pages that were pasted to cream colored poster board. Then we took string and made little hangers for them. We added our own touches to the dresses with fabric bows and frills. They will look lovely hanging in the girls' room somewhere - and hanging at our party as well.
All of these little items are simple and nothing elaborate - but I love simplicity. I'm sure you can find links to make some of these things somewhere online.
I thought I'd chronicle our party making decor here as we go so the kids will remember someday, and for those who like to view little simplicity like I do. Morgan has had such a big part in helping me and enjoying each little thing we've done. Some of the others mosey in and out, trying their hand at this or that. I know we're making memories.
|A few weeks ago I was sitting in bed one afternoon feeling feverish after having eaten something so very simple. . .|
In case you are wondering what I am talking about, I have something with a nice scientific name: hyperemesis gravidarium. I have had this in all my pregnancies, combined with gall bladder complications that are hereditary. This means that what food does happen to stay down, causes digestive pain that is nearly more intense than the hyperemesis gravidarium.
I'm not here tonight to talk about health issues and why I have chosen, and sometimes not chosen to do what I've done. . .Though bad sick, I haven't been nearly as bad as I've been in past pregnancies (I think?).
I've got a much happier topic to write about - and I am so excited!
So that afternoon feeling feverish and sickly, the thought came:
"You need motivation, you need to work with your hands, something exciting to get your mind off of what is going on right now. You can prop yourself up in bed and get your hands busy. You can sit at the desk or sit on the floor for short periods of time and just work slow with the girls on something creative. Do something you love again - get vision in the pain!"
I admit that has been hard the last few months. Writing our love story has been helpful, but I've missed the pieces of my life like baking, crafting, nature exploring, etc. that I always love to do with my children.
Not long after that afternoon I got an email from a friend. In the email she talked about how she wanted to do a tea party for her girls, did I have any ideas? she sent some links. One was a link to my own blog here and our traditional Easter Party I do with the children. . .
The Easter Party! I'd forgotten how soon Easter will be here! (you can go to "April 15th 2010" for a view at last year's party if you'd like.)
I was discouraged - "Man, how am I going to do our party this year if I'm too sick? It's something the kids so look forward to."
Then it was like, "That's it. Start now, little bit by little bit, one thing at a time. Get a theme and let your creative imagination run wild, take about an hour or so a day and work with the children. Then by the time Easter comes, you will be able to do it. . ."
I called the children into the room and said, "Hey guys, you know our Easter Party this year? Well, I don't want to miss it just because I've been sick and so I was thinking if we start working towards it now, we can have the best party yet. What do you think?"
Their faces just shone. Cheers! Everyone had ideas. One son said, "I was so sure we wouldn't be able to this year since you're sick. . ." Which made me all the more determined to press forward!
I sensed the Lord giving me a different theme this year then the last two years. The words kept coming through my mind, "White as snow. He has washed you white as snow. Through His death you have life and are seen as spotless. Redeemed!"
Yes! That has been the theme this year! White, clean, made new, the past seen no longer darkened but purposeful and covered by the cross.
God began to put all these things in my mind, creative ideas. I began to see things around the house, in my office, in my baskets full of scraps and savings that went with the theme of being made WHITE, new, clean. I put a pen and paper on my night stand so that when ideas would come to me for the party, I could write them down. My list kept getting longer and longer. . .
It KEEPS getting longer still.
Anyway - that weekend all this started coming to me I didn't quite ever feel well enough to do much about it. I was tempted to get down, but I prayed that God would let me turn a corner in my sickness and even if I could just have a few hours of better-out-of-bed feeling times in the afternoon, I could begin to work on our celebration for next month.
The beginning of this week didn't start out so great, but by Tuesday afternoon, I felt a tad bit better - so I went for it. I went to the local grocery store (first time in forever!) and bought five bags of cotton balls for a $1. each. . .
I bought two bags of white balloons for $1.50 each.
Two boxes of small white candles for $.89.
Wood clothes pins for $1.29.
Two things of string for a total of $2.68.
Several packages of different size doilies for a total of about $10.
I went into the Goodwill and bought a couple white bed sheets at $1.99 each, found about six yards of white fabric for $1.99, several white curtain panels for the same price, and bought an old book, one I'd never care to read - for $1.99.
I had Scott throw the whites in the wash and bleach them real good, dry them and fold them. We've got great plans for them for the celebration. Shelton got my sewing machine out and set up. Morgan began to collect white things from her own collections in her craft desk.
This week I determined that no matter how I felt, I would devote some time each afternoon to creating our Easter Party. As I began, the inspiration increased -- and I have found it to be like therapy . I spent some time one afternoon stringing doilies and other such things, sitting up in bed. Another afternoon I made it into my office area and the children helped me as I created, distracting me mentally from how I felt physically. Another day, I had a few better hours and sat on the kitchen floor and created with the girls.
Here are the main tools and simple items we used to create a few of the Easter Party preparations:
An old blouse. Amazing all that you can make from an old blouse.
Always good to save old scraps of fabric, sheets, curtains, or clothing that can be made into something.
Before I get rid of a clothing item, I will often cut off of it buttons, lace, etc.
I have done this since I was probably five or six ~
collecting scraps and trimmings and such a putting them in a special drawer or basket.
String and cotton ball garlands. . .
kid easy, quick, and look so cool!
Sewing machine, old canvas and left over chair trimming work nice for this decor. . .
we made several neutral banners with various scraps, stings, and trimmings.
Doilies make awesome garlands:
We made chair garlands with
doilies, string, cotton balls, and old book pages
tying them off with canvas scrap bows.
The garlands made from doilies and cotton balls are easy for children to make as well. . .
I think my favorite ones though were from the old book pages and smaller doilies.
We just folded the book pages in half. . .
crumpled them up, uncrumpled,
then bunched them up on the middle
and strung them over the string, using just a bit of hot clue to keep them in place.
Yes, just a bit of tape, fingers to twist and go round, a little hot glue - and roses that look vintage!
Another fun decoration from doilies is birds -
We plan to hang these all around for party decoration.
One small round doily, plus half a sheet of book page, plus two little fabric pieces cut to look like tail feathers.
I plan on hanging a clothes line as decoration at the party -
But hanging black and white pictures of the local missions and crosses that I have taken.
For this project Morgan made lovely clothes pins to hang the pictures.
She used stamps, clothes pins, and glued on little scraps of black rose trim all on her own.
I thought it would be beautiful to hang "lanterns" from the carport roof.
I had at first thought we might buy those cheap white round paper lanterns,
but as we were creating, the thought came to make our own individualized custom "lanterns."
Old lamps I was going to get rid of on Craigslist! Yes - just the thing.
I took the lamp shades and started my first hanging lantern with those. . .
From the collar of my old blouse. . . perfect for trimmings.
We so enjoyed the way the "tutu-slash-skirt-lantern" turned out -
that I pictured more lanterns all hanging about in groups. . .
there on the table was the card board that the doily packages came with for support -
perfect for making our other lantern shells with.
Using the tape, I stiffened the sides and then hot glued canvas on top to give it a nice firm feeling to decorate.
First a few square ones like this:
Then prettied up with the "tape roses," book page flowers, blouse trimmings and such sitting around. . .
Then we took the card board from the large doily packages and formed round lantern shells to decorate.
We trimmed them with canvas first. . .
then parts of an old sweater, lace from an old skirt, tape roses and four round medium doilies.
Sleeves of old sweater. . .
Here are a few other lantern ideas we made - quick and easy.
Just need some sort of "shell" to decorate,
string to hang (old string or tool string looks vintage and cool), doilies, cotton balls, and a few strap pieces. . .
I think the kids like the cotton ball lanterns the best!
All the left over scraps I set to the side as we worked.
After the kids went to bed one night last week, and I was feeling especially sick-y,
I decided to try to get my mind off how I was feeling by focusing on making the children
special party favors out of the scrapings.
I will show these in more detail at the party~
I hope to have Bible verses hanging about for decorations as well ~
some of these are still in the making and so I'll show those later.
I took two old frames and decorated them with old book page flowers and string.
Then I took some black paper with texture that I'd saved from something
and used chalk to write Easter messages in the openings.
It was fun to spice these frames up a bit.
I've had them for about ten years and wasn't planning on using them
and so put them in the laundry room trying to figure out if I should give them away.
With the new look now, they are like new frames again!
Amazing how just a little add can make something old seem fun again.
The doily garlands are of all different shapes and ways.
There are some much prettier ways to make them I'm sure,
but this one in particular seemed to be quick to do and still looks really neat when hung.
So many more ideas and decorations still up my sleeve for the Easter celebration!
I look forward to sharing them as I prepare little by little this next month for our big day.
If you've never just prepared a party for just your kids and you, try it. Let them know it's just
for them, just because - or maybe God will give you a special thing to celebrate together.
There are no more special little people to go all out for. And don't let lack of $ keep you from trying. . .
Using what you already have, or picking up a few simple things like tape, string,
and such on the local grocery store can do the trick. Let them help and be in the middle
of everything you do. I know - you think I'm kidding. But I promise, their joy will be amazing.
Thrift stores and Goodwill stores work great for those of us on a budget.
I find budgets can be fun (yep, I'm serious) - of course this isn't for everyone, or needful for everyone -
But for me personally, instead of looking at a budget as restraining,
I find it forces creativity, motivates me to think outside the box, and gets my children involved!
Thanks, friend (you know who you are ) who emailed - sending inspiration to not give up and reminding me of past Easter times with the children. I hope to "invite" you all to view our celebration after it's over next month. We have grand plans to transform our carport into a lovely party place to celebrate just about the best thing ever I can think to celebrate: New life given to us through Jesus Christ and His sacrificial love that has made us white and spotless in His eyes.