Saturday, May 10, 2014

Lessons from my Garden

I wanted to share with you my two favorite plants in my garden. I think they're spectacular! Here they are:
Aren't they beauties?  I'm pretty sure that you must be thinking that I've totally lost my mind.  Ok, so you may have thought that long before now :)  Yes, I understand that these little plants have absolutely no apparent beauty but oh! the lessons the Father taught me through them!

You see, two short weeks ago, I was ready to pull these plants up by their roots and throw them to the curbside for the trash men.  I just couldn't do it.  I can't explain why but I couldn't give up on them. As I knelt over the ground, picking weeds, I began to see a very important lesson unfold.  

Let me tell you about these plants.  The one on the left had a really harsh go of it this winter.  It got too cold and that cold damaged its limbs.  The one on the right was handled harshly, having its roots pulled out of the ground by someone carelessly running the hose across it. 

It occurred to me that these plants are a lot like people.  All too often I hear, "well, they certainly don't know the Lord. Just look at how they're "fill in the blank"."  "Look"....judge the outside...and determine that there's no life inside.  Maybe, just maybe, those people are like these plants.  Maybe they have experienced a cold spell spiritually.  Or maybe because of a traumatic experience, a deep hurt or some other unexpected experience that is totally out of their control,  they got cold and grew away from the Son... and it shows on the outside. 

Possibly they are like the plant on the right. That hose carried life sustaining water but placed in the hands of someone who handled it carelessly, it was misused and damage was done.  The Bible says that the Bible is a two-edged sword and all too often we wield that sword in a way that cuts and damages. Whether intentionally or not, the outcome is the same. 

Funny thing about both plants. If you look closely....real closely...you'll see signs of life and of hope.  
Do you see?? ..new green leaves!  There is a long way to go but there is life.  What both plants need is pruning, extra nutrients and a whole lot of patience.  And that is what most people need. Instead of our condemnation and assumptions, they need for us to take some time and really see them.  They may need extra fellowship or prayer, pruning from God's Word and time.
God cares about a fallen sparrow, numbers the hairs on our heads and instructs us to consider the lilies.  I absolutely believe He put this lesson in my  path to remind me...people are worth going the extra mile for!  Who has God placed in your path that you might minister to today?


Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Great Derailment

 Simple living...living simply...It sounds, well, simple. Right?  It is!  Unless of course you live this thing called "reality"....then, it gets a little more tricky!

In the past two weeks, we have had four sick children, one sick husband, a week long revival meeting and a pretty significant life upheaval.  Put simply, LIFE.  Living simply is pretty easy when you know the only thing on the agenda is caring for sick ones :)  Sometimes, everything else just has to go on the back burner.

Thankfully, the week ahead appears to only have patchy clouds and no rain on the horizon. 

The two areas which I've been able to focus most on my quest for simplicity has been in that of my quiet time with the Lord and my diet.  Spiritual and physical food. 

To briefly address the physical, I'll probably share progress as I make some but not method. Why?  Because what works for me may not work for you!  I've tried jumping on everyone else's wagon over the years and I have 25 different diet books on my ipad to prove it!  THAT is not simplicity.  Find what fits your lifestyle and suits your tastes and stick with it. You will see results! 

On the spiritual side of things, the Lord has blessed me with a dear friend who lives nearby. This is important because He's blessed me with other dear friends who are miles away!  She mentioned that she had found a wonderful book called Becoming a Vessel God Can Use by Donna Partow.  ~WOW~ That's all I can say.  We began going through it together and it has been life transforming!  In the coming weeks, I'll be sharing some of what the Lord is showing me through the book.

Why does this translate into simplicity for me?  Because for the longest time I would feel like if I didn't read X amount of my Bible a day, I was failure.  That's simply not true.  Did you hear me? NOT true.  I continue to read the Proverb for each day and then whatever Scripture is in the daily book study (I read from my own Bible as she does not use the KJV).   I have a Bible on my iPad, which allows me to read while nursing or while laying in bed with the baby.  It has been an invaluable help to me for this point in my life.  I can even answer the questions from the book (also on the iPad), within the application and have it all in one spot.  It's fantastic. 

See, in your quest to live life simply, it does not have to be all or nothing!!!  Baby steps ~ one day at a time ~ be kind to yourself and look for opportunities to remove the clutter...both physically and mentally.  Till next time.




© Adorning Grace 2014

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Keeping Life Simple: Online Clutter

Sometime this past fall, our church had a guest preacher in, and he said something that stuck in my mind:

"KEEP LIFE SIMPLE"

It has become my motto for 2014. I have rolled that phrase around and around in my head for months, pondering how to simplify life and what benefits could be reaped by doing so.  In this new year, I'd like to take you on my journey towards simplifying in four specific areas:

*head clutter
*house clutter
*heart clutter
*health clutter

Now, for some, living simply may conjure up visions of primitive houses with only the bare necessities.  That is not what I'm implying, but if that rocks your world, please go for it :)  To me, living simply means removing those things that are unnecessary,  clearing out the excess and making use of what is readily available in all areas of life. It's about good stewardship.

This is one reason I've already abandoned my  newly purchased blog domain.  I realized that it was just adding "more" to my already full life.  I was running from a problem instead of finding a solution.  So, in an effort to remove both head clutter and heart clutter, I addressed the problem head on and in doing so, found another way to simplify life.

Online Clutter:

There are many changes already taking place in my life and our home but for today, I'll address online clutter. Maybe it's OCD but I do not function well if things aren't organized online. lol  Crazy, right?  Seriously, who needs five email addresses, a hundred and fifty usernames and passwords and three different social media outlets.  Can I encourage you to do a few simple tasks to simplify your online life?
  • Keep only two email addresses.  Yes, keep two. One for spam and other online offers and the second for personal mail.  One can be checked daily and the other, once a week.  Oh, and keep your inbox clean!
  • Pick only one social media outlet and stick with it.  Personally, I use FB and just deleted my twitter account.  FB allows me to share with family and friends pictures of the kids and our lives without getting too bogged down. While you're in your chosen social media site, simplify it.  Do you really have 1,283 close friends? Really? lol Ok, maybe you do, but I don't. 
  • Create a time limit for online activities and stick with it.  Really - you can do it!!!  The universe will not stop spinning if you don't stay in constant contact with the online world. How many times have you read something online and followed one link after another, only to realize you've lost track of an hour or more? Set a timer!  Use a desktop and not your phone! Stay accountable to someone.  
Those are just a few of my suggestions for online clutter.  I'd love to hear yours.  Keep life simple and you'll have more time for the important things!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Broken Pieces

Broken pieces Shards of glass are everywhere. You sweep and you vacuum and you think you have them all but eventually, the littlest piece always finds its way into your unsuspecting foot. It could be months or even years later. Life is like that. People are broken. They try to clean up the mess of their brokenness, sweeping it all up into a nice, neat pile. Compartmentalize it. They think it’s all nice and clean but one day, there is the littlest shard that finds its way to the surface, causing pain - bringing back the memory of what broke them in the first place. 


 I think most Christians believe themselves to be beyond being broken. They may look at their past hurts and claim they have moved on but in reality, there’s still something there, festering. I know because I’ve been there. I’ve played the “smile, everything is ok” game. 

This past year, I decided I was done playing. Truth is, there have been people who have hurt me greatly. What I’ve learned is that you can’t just sweep that hurt up and toss it away, pretending it never happened. It did. And even in the last two months, the Lord has brought things to mind that still needed addressing. Wrongs that I thought I had made right that had strings left untied, pieces left lying around. When something breaks physically, we have the option of throwing it away or of trying to fix it. Sometimes we look at the object and think that it is too far gone, but that is really never true. The broken pieces can always be put back together again, even though the cracks and scars will always be visible. 

The same holds true for people. In one instance, I realized that a wrong hadn’t been completely made right on my part and I had to take care of it. Oh! One more piece glued back into the vessel. In another instance, I realized that the only way to make the situation right was to be wrong. It takes two to argue and even though the balance of “wrong” may tip vastly in the other direction, it’s still ok to give in, humble yourself and just say “I’m sorry”. There’s another piece to the broken puzzle. 

And then probably the most difficult to face is that some people are so broken that there is nothing you can do to fix them. Sometimes, we are merely the focus of their anger because they cannot face being angry with the people or situations that have really caused them hurt. In order to mend this piece, you have to realize that the situation is beyond your control and isn’t really about you at all. When you do that, you have the ability to forgive the other person and pick up that broken piece, carefully positioning it back where it belongs. 

 It’s too bad it took me most of my adult life this far to realize this. I’m done being broken over the past - over things I cannot control - over hurts. They do not have any power unless I allow it! 

Are you broken this holiday season? It seems that these are the times that dredge up the most hurt. Memories come flooding back and steal our joy. I would encourage you to face whatever it is head on! If apologizing for something is what it takes to mend your broken vessel, do it! It really doesn’t matter if your “fault” meter is only at .5%. You’ll reap the benefits 100%! Let go of the past. You can’t change it and it does not have to define who you are today. Embrace life! Love your family. Savor the moments. You only get one chance! 

 
 




© Adorning Grace 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The difference a year makes....

One year ago today, I faced both the greatest sorrow of my life as well as great joy...death and life...loss and gain. One precious heart stopped beating only to discover a new one had started. Not a day goes by that I do not think of my grandmother - the one who was always there to lend an ear or make me laugh. And each day I look into the face of her namesake and remember that God truly does turn our mourning into dancing. 

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: 
thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; 
Psa 30:11

One year ago today I said good-bye to my grandmother, who was dearer to me than any amount of words that I might write.  I'd like to share snips of some things that I wrote last year, in her memory:

10/27/12: This past Tuesday, I said "Good-bye" to a very special lady....my grandmother. She passed on with a final days testimony of knowing the Lord and being at peace, but there is a hole in my heart as big as the Grand Canyon. I'd like to repost something I wrote for her birthday five years ago. Then continue reading to see the amazing things that God did in those final days!

 ---originally written 2/6/08---
My grandmother... I love her so much that my heart aches when I think of the day I will no longer have her. Her 80th birthday is Friday and the girls and I have put together a big box of goodies to mail. We're also having flowers delivered. As I sat, thinking about why she's so special to me, a sort of tribute came about. Here is what I've written her and why she's so very special.

An 80th birthday is certainly a time to celebrate! In planning for your special day, it has also been a time for me to reflect on all that you mean to me. I have so many wonderful memories stored away that I couldn’t just pick one, so here are some of my favorites!

I remember….
Looking out your kitchen window, into the darkness while you spun tails of the Easter Bunny's helpers watching me from afar. I was absolutely convinced they were out there!

The box of toys, kept especially for me, in the corner of your kitchen. It reminded me that I was loved and wanted around.

Hiding under your kitchen table to ‘surprise’ you (every day!) when you came home from work and the fact that you acted surprised every time!

Taking walks in the woods to look for bunny and squirrel tracks, and how you’d walk slow enough for my little legs, never growing impatient because you had something better to do.

Walking in the fields to the strawberry patch.

Waking up on the morning of my brother’s birth, to find you in my parents bed, waiting for me to wake up. 

Our first morning in Manchester, looking out the big windows at the unfamiliar streets and wanting to go see Grammy.

Summer visits and walks to the beaver dam, playing dress-up; laying in front of the fans together to cool off.

Winter visits of sledding on wooded paths.

Having early Christmases before you left for AZ and missing you the entire winter. I waited eagerly for your letters!

All the help you gave me through my teenage years. Being my lifeline, always listening and never judging, your concern for my safety. You helped me through some rocky roads.

How you always invested in my interests, like when I wanted to be an exchange student to Russia. You were the first to pitch in and help.

I remember….all of your love, your patience, your kindness. I remember how you’ve always been my biggest cheerleader and my strongest supporter. When we had to say goodbye after Christmas, I whispered “I don’t want to go!” and though your heart hurt as much as mine, you didn’t tell me not to leave, you simply said “I know”. Instead of guilt for leaving, you gave me strength to do what I had to do.

For all these things and more, I love you! Happy 80th birthday Grammy!

Little did I know that God was looking down, arranging every aspect of the day in such a way that would bring Him glory and me peace. Please read on....:
 ---
Monday, October 22, 2012, my grandmother just didn't seem herself and by Tuesday morning, she was bed-ridden.  My heart hurt so much, knowing that I couldn't be there with her.  God would not give me peace to make the trip from NC to NH.  I didn't know why but maybe it was because of the events that he had planned. God does know what is best for us.

On Tuesday morning, my aunt called me. She just "felt" like she should. She told me how Grammy wasn't talking but she could hear them, as evidenced by the half smiles she'd give on occasion.  My aunt offered to put the phone to her ear so I could talk to her.  I took that opportunity to tell her how much I love her and thank her for everything she's always meant to me.  Then I got back on the phone. Literally, within minutes, my aunt whispered, "Karen, she's gone."  I could hear other family in the background saying, "she was waiting for Karen to call."  and I believe she was.  My grandmother and I have always had a special bond. She used to say that we shared the same heart.

After hanging up with my aunt, I looked at my phone and we had not even been on the phone a full ten minutes!  I would never have called Grammy's room at 8am!   GOD did that - He knew how badly I wanted to be with her and in that small window of time, He saw fit to put it on my aunt's heart to call.  I am amazed.   I don't know how many hours I spent on the floor with my children, grieving her passing.  

At some point, I began thinking of my life verse:

Isa 61:3  To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified

I began wondering how God was going to take this situation and bring any beauty out of it or add any joy to it.  To make a much more detailed story shorter, about 8 hours after Grammy's death, I received this beautiful gift:





Coincidence? No! That's GOD.   I don't know why He chose to unfold His plan this way - why my grandmother was never to know that she'd be a great-grandmother once again, but I do know that He orders each and every one of our steps.  She'd have loved her newest great grandaughter.  How I miss her!  I love you Grammy - forever and ever - to the moon and back.

Christmas 2010
 










 
© Adorning Grace 2013

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ramblings from the new (again) mom

It has been six weeks since our little miracle entered the world and what a six weeks it has been! This "advanced" age mom has learned and had to relearn many things along the way. It's surprising to me just how much I've forgotten! One thing I didn't have to relearn is that babies are awesome :-) How can you not just adore them?

But in practical matters, a few random thoughts.  Who knew that a baby could be so finicky with regards to carriers?  I am currently the owner of a Moby, Wrapsody and Infantino and she hates every one of them! My inner hippie adores the Wrapsody  but she will have none of it! and in the back of my mind, I think of all the diapers I could have bought with that money! lol

Pampers still beat Luvs without question, no matter what the Luvs commercial would like you to believe! (and diapers.com has an amazing deal going on for first time customers. Check it out!)

Sleep deprivation never did kill anyone and it doesn't look like it will any time soon.

Where did this worry come from?  After three other kids, you'd think I wouldn't obsess over ever snort, grunt, moan and cry but think again.

Speaking of grunting, I never knew a baby could make so much noise and still be asleep!  She does not cry at all at night.  She grunts! And in her sleep no less...loudly!  When she does wake up, it's more grunting, squirming and kicking off her blanket.  No cries. Weird, huh?

Babies have a way of making you really prioritize things. Shower or sleep?  Brush your teeth or go to the bathroom?  I mean, you have to decide what is really important and roll with the rest!

There's always enough love to go around and seeing the older girls dote on the baby only makes treasure them all the more!

There have been lots of "firsts" in the past month and a half.  We've experienced our first:
  • bath 
  • smile
  • trip to the doctor 
  • out of town visitor (miss you Grammy O)
  • ...and five hour stretch of sleep (thank you Jesus!)
Of course, there are many other things I could list but you get the picture.  I absolutely love being a new (again) mom.  There's  a woman that that likes to remind me just how o-l-d I'll be when baby M is a teenager.  She says it like she feel sorry for me but I kinda feel sorry for HER :)  She doesn't know what she's missing out on!  lol  I'm having so much fun!

If I had to spill my one anxiety, it is that school needs to start up again for our other three children.  I do a lot of mental preparation but not a lot of physical.  I'm just having to trust that once again, the Lord knows what He's doing and will make a way for it to all work out in the end!

6w1d

There's so much more but hey, there's that "prioritizing" thing!  Until next time...









© Adorning Grace 2013

Saturday, July 6, 2013

~~~~ BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT ~~~~

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly
 above all that we ask or think... 
Unto him be glory..." 

 Ephesians 3:20-21 

ANNOUNCING:
(for blogging purposes)
*baby M*

~~~
July 6, 2013
@1:09pm
7lb  15oz

What's in a name?

            *** is a Hebrew name that means "one who is like Jehovah God."  It is certainly our prayer as parents that each one of our children would grow to resemble Jesus Christ and be more like Him each day of their lives.  

               Phillips is in loving memory of my grandmother.  She passed away a few short hours before we found out that we were expecting M and she is  greatly missed. 

 

© Adorning Grace 2013