Monday, December 30, 2013

When you need a soul remodel


Take out your soft-bristled scrub brushes and do an inner soul-cleaning today.

It's time to rearrange the furniture a bit.

Maybe move some of it from one room to another, or even out to the curb.

Until it's garage sale weather,
remove all the outdated soul-hold items that are no longer useful and are not a beautiful addition to my being.

--remove bitterness and move in forgiveness

--put impatience out and place kindness front and center

--put love by the window so those wandering souls who pass by can feel its            warmth and see the glow of it

--take the ugly sketches drawn by my frustration and disappointment and hang        up your colorful splashes of peace on the canvas of my mind


There are smudges of indifference on the walls of my heart.
Buff those out and put up a mural of your compassion and service.

Sweep up the crumbs of self-doubt
and roll out the crimson carpet of faith, peace and self-acceptance.

Sometimes the windows of my soul are fogged over with a haze of judgement.
Polish those with the cloth of your grace and acceptance.

I want the sofa facing the door, Lord,
so others will feel welcomed to come in and rest awhile.

Remove the splinters of hurt caused by the roughness of where I've walked,
and sand those surfaces smooth with Your healing touch so the hurts don't linger.


I trust you, Lord, with the clearing of soul clutter:

--inner chatter about imperfections
--worries about the future
--regrets of the past

In fact, Lord, don't just tidy up.

I want you to do a whole-house soul remodel.


Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:7

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Expectations for Christmas

For years of my life (maybe all of them) I've had pretty heavy expectations for Christmas. When I was growing up, I had a dad and step-mom and a mom and step-dad and to me that always meant more presents for Christmas. Is this what set me up as an adult? 

My expectations, especially at this present-y time of year that is also holy, have gotten me into so many pickles.

I want, I want, I want.


When my kids were small, I want them to look perfect in the Christmas card photo. I don't want my baby girl tipping over. I don't want my boys to be smirking funny, or their shirts to be wrinkled.

I want my family Christmas letter to be newsy, but funny and definitely clever. I want the people who receive my letter to remember it as being so clever that they want to pull it out in July just to review all the cleverness I said in December. (what??)

I want the tree to look perfect, so I don't really let the kids help me decorate it. I don't want all the ornaments bunched up in the same general area on the tree. I want them spaced just so. Magazine shoot worthy. Who am I kidding?

I don't really expect too much, do I?


I like new. I like change, if it's good change. So, I dream of new in the future. This can be good, but it can also be bad. It can be bad if my expectations are misplaced and if my current and future happiness depends on these supposed new things. I know this. At least I'm aware.


See, it can be really tricky. Read other blogs for creative inspiration, and end up swirling in a comparison sink hole of my own making. 

Compare my non-existent Christmas baking to others' bountiful culinary delights. 

What gifts are others giving and how much?

It is all too much to carry.

And the main ingredient for this is my misplaced expectation

The expectation that I should be a better decorator, my house should be cleaner and bigger. I should be more crafty and artistic. A perfect writer, a perfect creator. 

The expectation that my loved ones can meet every one of my needs perfectly.

And, it's not and I'm not. And, they can't.

So, what's a girl to do with all these expectations?

What will bring me true and lasting satisfaction and contentment?

Because, I believe my expectations are speaking to me of this.

What I believe is that I will only be satisfied with the goodness of God. 

A friend quoted this on Facebook:

"Christmas is not about fulfilling our holiday expectations. It's about celebrating Jesus' overwhelming accomplishment for us and following in His humble servant footsteps." ~~from Desiring God

This same person said,

"I have often said the key to happiness is to lower your expectations, but it is really about trusting and resting in His love, power, and goodness."


Yes, trusting.

In His goodness.

And, that the all-gracious King that I sing about is standing beside me with open arms waiting to lavish His love, power and goodness on me. 

Again, where do I turn?

In what do I place my trust, my expectation?

"My people will be satisfied with My goodness, says the Lord."
~Jeremiah 31:14b

"For He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with good."
~Ps. 107:9

Here is the truth that I long to live out.

Linking up today with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky for Tuesdays Unwrapped. 

My vintage-y Christmas Home Tour 2013

I'm usually dragging my feet at Thanksgiving to get out the boxes. Once I start, though, I get into decorating so much that I want to do a bunch of crafty projects in the two week time frame that I have left before Christmas. 

Does this happen to anyone else?

This year I made one pom pom. 

The one on the mantel.

I also rewrapped the little brown paper bag covered gifts in Santa's Tonka. 

That's it, folks, and if I hope to get out the Christmas cards before Christmas, my dreams of having a finished pom pom wreath might have to wait till January. 

My Christmas decor is made up from years of thrifting and antiquing. 

Sorry, I wanted to make some of these pictures larger to show details and they kind of spill out of the space. 

Here is my Vintage-y Christmas Tour 2013!

Santa's Tonka Express

A favorite Christmas angel

Bird cage lighted forest

Our family room

The five minute Christmas Tree

Primitive hutch

BE Merry!

Mr. Horse is from the barn at my childhood home--dressed up for Christmas

I made the book page wreath last year and it stayed up all year! The white leaves on the branches are duct tape leaves I learned from The Nester last year!

Vintage and new Swedish Christmas cards

Santa Hangout includes a vintage Swedish Jultomten 

Merry Merry Christmas to all of you! Thanks for stopping by!



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thoughts on day and night and Light

Why is it that during the night, the issues that were molehills during the day instantly turn into mountains?

If I'm anxious about something during the day, well, I can call a friend, talk to my hubby, or do something to distract myself and get on with my day. And, it's daylight which makes everything seem better.

But at night.

That's a different story. The darkness seems like it's closing in. I feel alone even though I have a husband sleeping peacefully beside me. (that's even enough to get me aggravated!! What!? Someone is sleeping at my house and I'm not?)

There are words that I keep repeating to myself in the long nighttime hours when I'm glaring at the back of my eyelids instead of sleeping. 

 You are not alone.

This, for some reason, is huge for me. 

Today I'm reminding myself of the truth during the daytime hours that 

God is still God at night. 
God is God of the night.
And the day.

Night time is not night to God. God is Light. To Him there is no darkness at all! 

When I feel alone, that's all it is. A feeling

I am not alone. 

God is right beside me. He hears my cries for help and grace and sleep. 

I will yet praise Him for the help of His presence.

I will believe that I am not alone.

I will believe that He is always and forever with me.

I will believe that I am loved with an everlasting love.

I praise Jesus that He is Light! 

and, I am not alone.


For He Himself has said, Never will I desert you. Nor will I ever forsake you!
~Hebrews 13:5b

Do not fear, for I am with you. Do not anxiously look about you for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Surely, I will help you. Surely, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
~Isaiah 41:10

So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.

~Luke 12:32

I'm linking up today with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky for Tuesdays Unwrapped. Stop by over there and see how folks are pausing to celebrate the lovely, messy and unexpected.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What happens on an ordinary Tuesday

He offered a friendly greeting and a smile while I was waiting in line at Wendy's. He had gray hair, suit, tie and an overcoat. He definitely looked like retirement age, but was certainly dressed for business. 

I wonder, why so dressed up on an ordinary Tuesday if you are retired?

Most of all, I noticed his smile with teeth showing that were showing their age. 

"Are you from around here?"

His words jolted me out of meal decision-making mode and into, what...did this stranger actually just ask me a question?

"I'm from Ankeny", I said with surprise that I'd been spoken to. 

He'd broken into my inner world of a small chili, side salad and a value fries. (yes, I did get the fries this time.)

"That's kind of far", he said.

So, I proceeded to tell this kind man why I was in this neck of the woods.

"We come here often, he said with a smile. Senior drinks."

I can only assume he was referring to his wife, who wasn't with him this time.

Then it was our turn, each of us getting our own cashier up at the counter. 

Out of no where. A friendly, welcome surprise on an ordinary Tuesday.

It took me by surprise, his words, his kind offering of conversation, his smile.

Why don't I strike up friendly conversations in line, with people I don't know, more often?

Sometimes I'll compliment the cashier at the grocery store on her earrings, but that's about how far I'll dare to take it. With a stranger.

Why don't I open myself up? Why don't I risk embarrassment if they look at me funny? Or say something rude? Or ignore me?

I need to get over myself and my fear of the unknown. I can have compassion on myself, yes. 

But, I can continue to urge myself to dare to speak a kind word to a stranger. To share in our common humanity. To lift someone's spirits. To risk.

I'm so glad that this man dared to greet a stranger in line.

His simple kindness changed the course of my ordinary Tuesday.


Tuesdays Unwrapped 2013

I'm linking up with Emily at Chatting at the Sky for Tuesdays Unwrapped. We're sharing what makes us pause and celebrate the moment. Discovering the gifts in the midst of the ordinary. On Tuesdays in December. Come on over and share in the celebration!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

10 Things I learned in November

It's so easy to get into the habit of not writing regularly after writing for a whole month straight in October. So, I'm thankful for Emily Freeman's link up for sharing the things we learned during the month of November! 

Here are a few things I've learned in the past month in random order. I invite you to hop on over to Emily's blog, Chatting at the Sky, to read what other people learned in November!


1.  Frozen might be rivaling Tangled and Wall-e for my favorite animated film. Even though my kids are now adults, we all still love animated movies, so our whole family went to see Frozen for our annual Thanksgiving movie tradition. This movie is over-the-top cute. You should go see it, whether you are two or ninety two.

2. As one of the lead characters in Frozen, Kristen Bell has a great singing voice! I loved her in You, Again, but I didn't know she could sing. Which isn't saying a lot because I don't really keep up with which celebrities can and cannot sing. 

3. I read an article last week while on the elliptical about weight loss tips from a gal who lost 100 lbs. (is this ironic, or just coincidental that I was reading about weight loss while on an elliptical? I'll have to ask my daughter.) Anyway.....the tip that stood out to me was to focus on my strengths while on my fitness journey.

I decided that I'd rather lift weights mostly on machines in a different part of the gym instead of with dumbbells right near all the Arnold Schwartzeneggers. I was much more comfortable doing the machines. A small change, really, but the impact was huge for my mood while lifting.

4. Gratitude is best when practiced. What I mean is that often I think about being grateful when something good is happening. Brene Brown and Oprah reminded me in last week's online class that gratitude is a practice that we learn by doing

We learn by being grateful even when we don't feel like being grateful. 

Oprah says, Gratitude leads to joy. Brene says, Joy is additive. When we practice gratitude we fill our joy reserves. This is not huge information, but it felt like a mental shift happened in my brain. I dragged out the gratitude journal that I started in 2012 and began adding to it again at about #436. I felt so much better about my life after practicing gratitude in this way. 

5. There was a day about two weeks ago, that I felt absolutely stuck with an issue in my life. Prayer wasn't cutting it. Journaling didn't really help all that much. What I needed to do was to phone a friend. So, I did. (sometimes I'm reluctant) I called a friend and basically said "help." She did. She listened and she understood because she'd been in my shoes. Never under estimate the power of phoning a friend when you need help! I'm still learning this.

6. Through this Brene Brown online class I've been given assignments to work on an art journal. I've journaled prayers and thoughts and feelings for years. What I've never done until November was to work on an art journal. I'm kind of intimidated by it. Meaning that I suffer from a huge case of perfectionism

But, I'm realizing that being perfect is overrated, not to mention impossible! Actually getting my hands in there and being creative is the idea. And, I've noticed that when I work on my art journal (simple water color painting and drawing) my mood always elevates. Bonus!

7. I had been feeling especially bad about myself and my weight because of the category the trainer at the gym put me in after he weighed me. But, when I went to Maurice's to try on jeans, Taylor the jeans specialist was there. She was truly a jeans artist (and an angel). She said she had read and studied up on their jeans and which styles fit which body types. 

She brought me a pair of sparkly pocket jeans in the dressing room and said,

"Have you seen the traveling pants movie? Well, these jeans are just like that. Everyone who tries them on loves them! They are my go-to jeans!" 

I left with those jeans. And, I left feeling so uplifted by Taylor's care and encouragement in helping me find jeans that made me feel like a new woman! Jeans faeries really do exist! This one's name is Taylor.

8. On the same jeans shopping trip, I asked my college daughter if I was too old for sparkly pocket jeans. She said, "Not if you like them!" So, I guess fifty is not too old for sparkly pocket jeans because that's exactly what I got.

9.  I've discovered that I can get into a creative flow in my art journal or writing while listening to Jim Brickman radio station on Pandora. I've also discovered Anthony Burger so I added Anthony's piano loveliness as variety to this station. Today, I appropriately switched over to Jim Brickman Holiday station, which is working just as well. I love lovely piano music. Without lyrics. And, apparently it likes me.

10. Favorite quotes written in my journal this month. 

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there." ~Rumi

"When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings."~Dean Jackson

Each of these quotes deserve their own blog post, so you never know what might be coming up.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you are having a great start to December!


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