Thursday, July 29, 2010

My God is So BIG...

"I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
Job 42:2-3

How many hopes can you dream fulfilled for the future? If you are like me, imaginative in spirit, you can probably come up with a dozen different scenarios of how life will play out. What is amazing to me is that God's plans are always better than our own. In the midst of trial and uncertainty, it is hard to remember how big our God is and that He is all knowing. He knows where we need to be and what we need better than we know.

I believe our lives are like paths. They all lead to certain places but there are different ways to get there. Sometimes we choose the long path, through the desert and over the mountain. Sometimes it's a leisurely, flat half mile stroll to the next destination. Sometimes we are hopelessly lost in the dark woods and cannot see the path at all. No matter where we are, we can hold up our hand and God will take it and lead us through. We have choices and all of them bare consequences. By grace, the road ends at the Pearly Gates.

I cannot see the path right now. I know that God is leading my family. I want it all to work out my way. I can see the many options and think I know what is best. The truth is, I still need to work on Letting Go and Letting God. I can stand and pitch a fit that I am not getting my way, which is what I want to do, or I can sit back and watch God's hand work a miracle. I pray that I can share this miracle in the coming weeks and months.

For dinner tonight...the salmon we didn't have last night in favor of whole wheat waffles smothered in homemade blackberry jam. I do love the Farmer's Markets!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

SWAP and Progress

The bathroom remodel continues to progress albeit slower than my girls anticipated. We are trying to get the rest of the drywall touched up along the ceiling so we can prime and paint ahead of the plumber who is coming Friday to return the toilet to it's rightful location. He is also hooking up the tub/shower so that we will once again have 2 showers in our house. Emma has marched through our room several nights after bedtime grumbling about how she can't wait to have her toilet back. Trust me, we cannot wait for her to have that toilet back either. Privacy is something we take for granted until it is gone. Below is the current state of things. By the end of the week, it should be much improved.

I am embarking on another Fall SWAP (Sewing With A Plan) for my oldest daughter. We really struggle with appropriate clothing for a proper young lady. I want her to look fashionable so no dowdy, dumpy, or frumpy at my house. However, I want her to maintain her modesty.

Originally, I had planned to do a SWAP for me but then realized that she needs clothes, again. If my kids didn't grow so fast, I would have a fabulous wardrobe. In light of our current financial situation, my goal is to make her a fall wardrobe from my existing stash of fabrics. There will be no planning and then buying the fabrics. There will be planning and then digging around in my sewing room to make it work.

Together we went through my pattern magazines (Ottobre, of course) and decided on some styles that she liked. She has asked for more skirts and tops rather than dresses this year. I am also planning some capri leggings to wear with skirts or tunics. They are comfortable and versatile for her active lifestyle. I try to keep current on fashion trends, even though my wardrobe betrays my interest. One trend I was amused to see this year is blouses buttoned all the way up. My girls have been on that trend for years. I have tried to get them to leave the top button open but they insist that those buttons are meant to be buttoned. What can I say...they are ahead of the fashion trends.

For dinner tonight...hamburgers (made with our favorite Hodge Ranch grass fed beef), potatoes, green beans, and maybe a salad if I get motivated.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Spare the Rod, Use a Board

"He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." Proverbs 13:24

This verse has come up numerous times in the last couple weeks and always in support of beating children. I remember being spanked as a child and I remember feeling humiliated and crushed in spirit. I do not think God wants us to beat our children. He wants us to discipline them.

So what is the definition of discipline? "Training expected to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental improvement." ( Notice the definition says training, not abuse. In contrast the definition of punishment is "A penalty imposed for wrongdoing" ( or my favorite definition "Rough handling; mistreatment" ( If we hit, are we training our children to be bullies? Are we training them that it is morally ok to hit other people that are smaller and not expect retaliation? What course of action would a parent take if their child smacked another child because that child did not do what they wanted? How do you tell them that hitting is only ok when I am hitting you? Surely all of this sends a mixed message. Not to mention, at what point does spanking become abusive. I heard a lady say that if it leaves a bruise, your hitting too hard! That's a very fine line indeed.

My children are very well behaved at 9 and 11. People always comment on their gentle nature and kind-hearted spirits. How did we get to that point? One word, discipline. Notice I did not say punishment. The goal of discipline is to teach. Our best teaching tool is our example. We teach others how we want to be treated. I treat my children with respect and dignity. I treat them how I want to be treated.

I told them from the time they could understand words that God wanted me to teach them how to behave so that others would take the time to get to know them. If they were poorly behaved, nobody would take the time to get to know the wonderful people that I know them to be. I have always been consistent in my discipline. No always means no. When I say that we are leaving, we actually leave. I don't announce we are leaving and then sit and chat for 20 minutes while they wait. I follow through with what I say. If I say we are not going to the beach unless your room is clean, they know that we will not go to the beach. I am fully prepared to follow through with the consequences even if it means inconvenience for me. If I am not prepared to follow through, I do not make the threat.

At some point, spanking becomes ridiculous. You cannot spank a 16 year old boy and expect to get results. At that point, you have to figure out how to make them behave without abuse. If they have no respect for you or what you say, you have already lost the battle. Discipline is hard work and often inconvenient but the work done early in life, makes life easier in the long run. Spanking may be a convenient source of discipline in the near term, but respect is much more powerful.

I personally like this verse for discipline versus the latter.
"Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6

Monday, July 19, 2010

Living on Faith

In a strange turn of events, my husband resigned from his job today. It had become obvious over the last few months that he was not a good fit for this company for a number of reasons. Things came to a head on Friday with him and the CEO. We discussed his options over the weekend and both decided that he needed to move on.

So here we are with our mostly finished bathroom, no closets in my bedroom, and an unemployed husband. I have faith that God is in control. I have faith that he will not let us be homeless and hungry. God has provided for our family in abundance over the years. We have let Him direct my husband's career path and He will continue to do so. We just have to be still and wait on God.

I would rather be in the future looking back to see how it worked out rather than sitting here wondering how it will work out. Notice that I did not say "if" it will work out. Our God is a loving, compassionate, God and somehow this will work out. He can bring beauty from the ashes. He can turn those terrible situations into blessings. He can do all things if we allow Him the chance.

Today I praise God for his providence. I praise him for the sun shining in my window. I praise him for the beautiful daughters I have the privilege of raising. I praise him for my health, a place to live, and food to eat. I praise him for a better tomorrow, whenever that day will arise. And until that day, we will live with the hope that it is coming.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Integrity by definition means steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code ( So it means to live with integrity you must maintain a strict moral code. In our family, we believe that moral code comes from God. The Holy Spirit will direct your heart and give you an internal moral compass. So what does it look like to live with integrity?

A friend was offered a job with an outrageous salary, excellent benefits, and a sizeable bonus. The position itself was also desirable. Head of the department reporting directly to the CIO. He would have two directors reporting into him both in charge of 40 person teams. Seems like a dream job if you just look at the financial package and the position. He turned it down on integrity. The company made it's money in the title loan business. True the company does serve a purpose, but at what cost? Are they making money by praying on the financially unstable or the financially ignorant? If you google the list of complaints, it becomes obvious that the company is making money on the less fortunate and quite possibly, knowingly pushing them into more desperate circumstances. Living with integrity definitely involves being able to sleep at night with a clear conscience.

The bathroom remodeling continues in full swing. The tile guys were here today putting up greenboard on the walls and backer board on the floor. It looks so different with the shiny new tub and solid walls. They said they would be finished by the end of the week. If only the sink cabinet wasn't going to take 3 more weeks.

I also had a visit from Juan the Painter. I could tell that he was the painter by the paint splattered all across his face like so many white freckles. I don't believe he understand very many words that I said, but he was very pleasant and agreeable. I kept telling him that the walls would be different and there would be another room off the back but I don't think he understood. He just kept moving and asking questions..."you want ceiling paint? I paint trim? Deez cabinets too? Ok, I go outside now". Juan the Painter will be very surprised when he returns to paint the house.

What was for dinner tonight? Cantonese grilled pork (Cooking Light), green beans, ciabatta, and a salad with honey lemon vinaigrette. For dessert...Crispy Creme...every now and again it's ok:-)

Our Favorite Sauteed Green Beans
Steam fresh green beans (we get ours from the local farmer's market)
Saute garlic and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a nonstick pan. Add steamed green beans, Italian Seasoning, pinch of salt, and a sprinkle of black pepper. Stir to coat and serve. You can add steamed red potatoes or yellow squash to the mix and it's good too.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bang, Crash, BOOOOOM!

My world today was full of crashing and booming. The guys came to remove the old cast iron tub this morning. Who knew that it could be broken up with a sledge hammer and carried out in fourths. Even my pugs, who are afraid of nothing, ducked and covered with each crashing blow of the sledge. My girls retreated to the front yard to trace themselves on the road with chalk. They said it was clearly audible outside.

When the tile guys left, Jose the Framer showed up to have a look at the demolition and remodel of the kitchen, sunroom, family room, powder room, and master bath...ok the rest of the house. He was a great guy and very sweet. He asked all sorts of questions to which my reply was "I don't know. Make it pretty." I've learned too many construction words in the last few weeks...flange, footers, framing, headers, diverter valve, and a few more I can't remember at the moment. I would rather deal with the pretty words...valance, couch, chaise, stacked get my drift. Needless to say, I am way out of my comfort zone. A general contractor I am not, but I am functioning as one for this bath remodel. I am more than ready to hand over the reins to the professionals.

Jose the Framer hung out for a little while talking about roof lines and then plants, which is something I do know. He left and the plumber called to tell me he would not be coming today. He had gotten held up at the morning job and couldn't get to us until tomorrow. So I called the tile guy and he said well there is no point in me coming until Wednesday. I think he was happy to have a day of golf. I got off the phone with the plumber and our fabulous interior designer, Kristy, called to say "WHAT?" about the e-mail I had sent her updating her on everything going on in my house. She had done the plans for us and it has been about 3 years in the works. Job changes, condemned furnaces, flooded basements, and all that life can throw at you in the middle of a great plan had come to bear in the midst of our interior redesign.

Of course she was on the phone when the "big crew" from Cobb County showed up for a drive by and to tell us they would be digging a giant hole in our front yard tomorrow and that we might lose some plants. I called them twice to tell them we had a water leak. My neighbor has made it his summer job to get them out here to fix the leak before it kills his Irises. Unfortunately, I think the "big crew" might just kill them for him. The poor irises won't stand a chance against the giant back hoe they paraded by the house this afternoon. I do think the guy that came to the door looked oddly like that guy from that silly show a couple years ago, Average Joe.

I'm curious who will leave us without water longer tomorrow, the plumber or the "big crew"? I suppose I should go fill some buckets so we can flush.

What was for dinner tonight? Ha, ha, Chinese take out. After all, even the best cooks need a night off every now and again.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New Skirt and More Demolition

Nothing quite like a new skirt to make you feel fresh and fabulous. This is quite possibly the simplest skirt ever. It is 2 pattern pieces, no zippers, no buttons, elastic waist, and made of a soft jersey. Feels like pajamas, looks like Ann Taylor Loft.

Strangely, I think it had been overlooked in the last Ottobre Woman pattern magazine. I'm sure it ran right under everyone's radar, overshadowed by the showier, more complicated patterns. In fact, my initial reaction was "eh". I was looking for something to make the other day before I had to get started on dinner and as an excuse to just sit and watch tv for an hour. I didn't have loads of time or energy to tackle something big. I thought about making a tote, but alas, I have lots of those. Maybe a little quilt? Oh that's right, I only like to think about quilting, not actually quilt. I perused my stash of Ottobre magazines searching for inspiration and that's when this little skirt jumped out at me.

I figured if it didn't look good, I could just wear it around the house or to the pool. I think it turned out quite cute and I foresee several more in different colors. This skirt might just replace my current khaki capri and t-shirt uniform.

Warning: do not try this at home. Open windows may cause death by falling. Our renovations continued with the removal of the bathroom window. We ordered one from the big orange box store and it came in on Friday a full 1-2 weeks ahead of schedule.

It would have been a quick pull out the old, stick in the new had we ordered the right size. We now know the definition of "rough opening" and "window dimensions". FYI, they are not the same thing. I had to snap a picture of my children leaning out the window just to torment their granny a bit.

I'm sure the neighbors think we are nuts. What with all the changes in our yard and house in the last 6 years. Plus we're homeschoolers living in a "great school district" which automatically puts us in the "odd" category. Add to that the strange things we've been known to do as a family...standing in the pouring rain with an umbrella just for fun, hunting toads in the dark, experimenting with various ways to ignite fireworks in the driveway, my kids chalk traced outlines in the road (think murder scene investigation), and so many other things that I've probably already shrugged off as normal.

For dinner tonight...Good old ground beef tacos, grilled corn, black beans, and chips. Following is my taco seasoning recipe (so much yummier than the packaged kind).

Taco Seasoning
1 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1//2 tsp paprika (we like hot paprika)
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Mix it all together and add to browned, drained ground beef (about a pound). Add 1/3 C water and simmer while you get everything else on the table. Somehow ours turns out different every time...either more or less spicy.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Faith and Renovations

I'll be honest, I like to tick things off my to-do list. It gives me a visual of my accomplishments. I actually do better when there are lots of things on my list rather than a lot of free time. I have lots of things on my list for "when I am free" but they seldom get done because they have not actually been put on my to do right now list. I suppose that is why I don't often sew for myself unless there is an actual occasion. My girls' clothes are on my to do list because they continue to grow even after my threats to put bricks on their heads and stop feeding them. If I don't sew for them, they will eventually be naked and with an 11 year old daughter, that would be traumatic.

Now there are some things that get put on my to do list that I just choose to ignore and pretend they will go away. This would be the case with needing to call the plumber. He has already been out once and much to my dismay, I failed to explain exactly where the hot and cold water lines need to come out of the wall. He split the lines so I could have the much anticipated double sink for the girls but the stubs would come out in the middle of the vanity cabinet shelf. Not exactly the look I was after. I also could not seem to wrap my head around how to schedule him and the tile guy and how they would possibly work around each other. I need the tile guy to remove the tub. I need the plumber to replace the diverter valve before the tile guy puts up the walls. The plumber said he wouldn't replace it until the tub was out because he didn't want the new ones to get broken. With all this uncertainty, I chose to do nothing and pray it would all sort out.

The tile guy called this morning and said he was having a time getting his plumber to find time to put the new tub in and he couldn't do anything until it was installed. Happily, I suggested that if he could still remove the old tub, my plumber could put in the new tub. The new tub will be exiting Monday morning and the new tub will be placed in it's new residence Monday afternoon. I am hopeful that we will have the tub and toilet back by the end of next week. The sink is definitely a few weeks out but the extra toilet upstairs is a really big deal, especially in the middle of the night.

I am convinced that often God wants us to be still and wait. He can do all things and He will if we only give him the chance . Sometimes having faith is the hard choice when all we want to do is tick things off our list.

For dinner tonight...sandwiches on homemade honey whole wheat bread with fresh tomatoes from the Farmer's Market at the Avenues.