Feeling Pinteresty….

My friend Shawna sent me this link the other day and it inspired me to try something similar in the little girls’ room.  I am itching – ITCHING! – to get Ellie and Amania’s room done.  It may or may not have been part of my “mama-meltdown” last Friday.  I just hate unfinished projects; they make me nutty.  And as the Lord would have it, we just moved into a giant one.  See, He’s refining me.

Anyway, it feels like we have been working on their room for at least six months, even though when I look at a calendar I realize it’s only been, really, three or so.  And we’ve been a little busy with life and unpacking and other little things here and there, so, again with the showing myself grace.  But, we are soooo close to finished.  A ceiling fan, some paint on a few pieces of furniture and maybe hanging some of their artwork on the walls, and that room is done.  Woot!

So, back to the Pinterest project.  We had two different family photo sessions this year with wonderful, talented photographers.  But because of all the crazy the past few months, I’ve done nothing with the photos.  Until now.

I tried the engineer print as suggested in the post.  However, our local printing company couldn’t print that large and the quality of the Kinko’s engineer prints in black and white were very poor (as in, whole sections of the photo wouldn’t print).  I could have done them there in color, but they charge by the square foot, making a 24″x36″ print close to $45.  Mmmm….no.  So, back to planning my cheap enlargements.

Enter, Sam’s Club.   They offer very reasonable color enlargements and their print quality is usually good – certainly good enough for the girls’ bedroom walls.  The first print I tried was of the two girls together.  I didn’t want it quite as large, so I did their “poster board” print (I can’t remember the exact name and I’m not finding it online).  They print the photo directly on some sort of super-thick stock, so it was ready to hang when I got it.  The 16″x24″ print was less than $15.

Happy with the way the first one turned out, but wanting larger prints for the individual photos, I opted for “poster prints”.  They were about $9 each for 20″x30″ prints.  Then, I headed over to Hobby Lobby as directed in the original post, where I had them dry mounted while I waited, for about $15 each.  I then bought the 3M Command picture hanging adhesives, so as to not put holes in the prints or the walls.

I have to say, I love them!  They may not be the same quality as a canvas or more expensive prints that could be done, but for the price and the way they look on the wall, I will definitely be doing more of these.  (Our photographer may be cringing in the corner right now. 😉 )  And they look so fun on the girls’ wall.  The other thing I like about these over the engineer prints, is the fact that they are in color.  Black and white would have been lovely too, but I just love the color.

I also tweaked their bulletin boards, mounting them inside open frames to make them look a little more formal.  I’m not sure I love them, but it did help dress the room up a bit. Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

 This is the smaller poster board print I had done at Sam’s. The next two are the larger poster prints mounted on foam board. You can also see my “framed” bulletin boards above Amania’s bed.

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Next up – chevron stripes or marigold furniture?  The jury is still out, but hopefully I’ll be posting about that finished project soon!

For His Glory ~

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Weeks in Review: 2013 {Weeks 36, 37, 38, & 39}

The past few weeks have been filled with many wonderful memories and opportunities.

The month kicked off with any fall activities that hadn’t started yet, starting.  We began writing classes, ballet, and choir, in addition to our existing volleyball, soccer, and art schedule.  Those who think home schoolers aren’t socialized need to spend a week in the life of a home school mom.  The biggest challenge is being HOME to do the SCHOOL, especially in the years before you have a driving-age teen.  So, for now, we do this….

{This is where you’ll have to imagine a picture of Grace doing school in the back of my SUV.  That photo is currently sitting on my waterlogged iPhone, unable to be retrieved.  😦 }

We celebrated my birthday in early September by doing school, going to volleyball practice and a soccer scrimmage, and then enjoying Subway and brownies at home.  Since our oldest is thirteen and this is the first birthday that’s been spent doing kid activities, I figure we’ve done pretty well.  Matt and I did celebrate a couple of weeks later by going to one of our favorite places in Lawrence and discussing our budget and (more) kid’s activities.  Clearly, we’ve lost our touch when it comes to celebrating birthdays.  🙂

All kidding aside, I never fail to be blessed by my generous kiddos and husband who do sacrifice and go out of their way to make every birthday special – not only mine, but each other’s too.  We’ve got a pretty fantastic crew running around over here.

The first two weeks of September were defined by helping with a local obstacle race benefiting Amania’s orphanage.  This was our second year being part of that event, and while it’s a lot of work, it’s something everyone enjoys being part of and lots of great memories were made.

We were blessed to have friends from Minnesota drive down to do the race and stay with us.  What a great time we had – all fifteen of us(!) – that weekend.

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On Friday this past week, I had a mini-Mama-meltdown.  In spite of oils and supplements and whatever I tried, I could not get my stress and anxiety under control.  Too many balls in the air and never enough time to deal with them all was making me crazy.  And as I ranted to my mama that afternoon, she flat out told me what I needed to hear – I expect too much of myself.  With five kids and their schedules and home schooling and the house and a husband who works more than average and all the feeding and errands and laundry and life, it’s no wonder I sometimes feel like it’s a matter of just keeping everyone fed and some semblance of order going in our home day after day after day.  And while I didn’t want to hear what she said, and while the never getting ahead gets old, she was right.  As I give grace to others when life throws them a curve ball and they can’t meet some expectation, I must also give grace to myself – because this life God has blessed me with is still a giant curve ball compared to what I envisioned and the process of becoming who He is making me into is always stretching, always growing, always being refined.  But the person I am now compared to the person I once was is worth the sacrifice.  And I know that by His grace, He will continue to make me more like Jesus through all of this every day crazy.

So that about sums up our September.  More words are in the works as I continue to find my voice again.

For His Glory ~

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One Hundred Days

Yesterday, our pastor, he notes that there we were, sitting on day 265 on the calendar.  One hundred days remain in 2013.  One hundred days to make the most of this year.  In a year that’s been marked by major life changes and emotional upheaval and absolutely nothing normal, I am challenged to end the year well.  To be intentional and purposeful with my time and our time.  To return to some old habits and routines that fell by the wayside in the midst of the crazy.  To focus on making this house our home and making it a place of welcome for others.

And it begins with saying thanks to the Giver of these gifts and all gifts.  Speaking gratitude for the hard and the heavenly, the broken and the beautiful.  All these things, gifts from His hand:


2663.  thin places where our heart is revealed

2664.  bits of time

2665.  days when the sun breaks through

2666.  days when the clouds roll in heavy

2667.  a God who is faithful and steady

2668.  a really good day

2669.  a clean basement

2670.  cool days and rain showers

2671.  early morning words that encourage

2672.  rainy day bike rides

2673.  gigantic blanket forts

2674.  Haitian girl so excited for her very own back pack

2675.  a distance that seems uncrossable

2676.  late night tears and talking

2677.  a God who can be trusted

2678.  our first-born – 13 today!

2679.  a good weekend

2680.  the first day of a new school year

2681.  rain – endless rain – earth watered by Heaven

2682.  a time of quiet to think, pray, clean

2683.  sweet friends who stop by while passing through

2684.  a birthday party for the third born

2685.  realizing I actually feel better, happier

2686.  time away with my favorite

2687.  rain that followed us and learning more about flexibility

2688.  being home

2689.  praying for more grace

2690.  mouths full of healthy teeth

2691.  sweet notes left by children

2692.  laughter – soul medicine

2693.  geniune fun with  the youngest

2694.  a good weekend

2695.  Haiti girl thankful for family

2696.  cicadas humming in early morning dark

2697.  two more Lifeline children home

2698.  seeing Shela and Amania happy together on US soil – praying for a long friendship that blesses them both

2699.  Thursdays

2700.  and Fridays

2701.  first born’s first volleyball game

2702.  date night

2703.  long weekend

2704.  cool mornings

2705.  details coming together

2706.  the smell of oils diffusing

2707.  allergies and the coming of fall

2708.  littlest one declaring she has the “best family”

2709.  turning another year older

2710.  phones calls, texts, and Facebook blessings

2711.  Starbucks, chips and salsa, and surprise visits

2712.  generous girls who love to give

2713.  time with my favorite

2714.  race bags packed; race day almost here

2715.  rain falling on leaves; crickets singing

2716.  girls’ indispensible help

2717.  chatter and laughter that help the time pass

2718.  a wonderful race weekend

2719.  connecting with old friends

2720.  slow Monday

2721.  rain, open windows, and soup in the crock pot

2722.  little projects getting completed; big projects getting started

2723.  an unexpectedly good response to openness

2724.  lovely weekend ended

May your week be full of beautiful things.

For His Glory ~

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How I Cope with the Clouds

So a couple of weeks ago I posted about my on-going battle with depression.  Over the years I’ve tried a variety of methods for treating this shadowy illness.  I’ve tried a variety of prescription anti-depressants.  I’ve tried light therapy (in the form of tanning beds).  I’ve used St. John’s Wort as recommended by my physician.  And I’ve tried just waiting for winter to pass (as that is when I struggle most).

All of these methods have been successful to varying degrees and with varying long-term effects.  Prescription meds work, I won’t argue with that.  But they come with a multitude of side effects and a variety of long-term consequences that are just beginning to be understood.  I am thankful for modern medicine and pharmaceuticals and believe God has given us this knowledge to be used for our benefit and His glory.  I have no issues with someone who uses prescription anti-depressants or with using them myself if necessary.  However, I believe God has given us in the created world what we need to treat and care for our bodies in times of sickness or health and we all know we are beginning to see how the overuse of man-created compounds and chemicals is causing a plethora of unintended consequences (cancers, antibiotic resistant bacteria, etc).  Therefore, as much as possible, I would prefer to find more natural ways to treat myself and my family.

Enter my current treatment plan, and a little backstory…..

In July, as I think I mentioned, I was desperate, drowning, and hanging on by merely a thread of hope.  I cried out to the Lord for some kind of relief because I knew I couldn’t go into the new school year, much less the winter, already so far behind emotionally.  And through completely “random” circumstances (a phone call from my husband to a friend about something completely unrelated), I was told about essential oils.  I’ll be honest, on a normal day I would have politely written the idea off as “not for me”.  But this came at the end of a day of dedicated prayer for help, so I listened and started reading and asking questions.  I ordered two oils and expected absolutely nothing.  I kept praying and hoping and committed to trying the oils (and St. John’s Wort – more on that momentarily) for  the month of August.  It was decided that if I was not feeling noticeably better by the end of the month, I would go back on prescription meds for the first time in 13 years.

Sidenote – I added in the SJW because, as I said, I was desperate for relief.  I have used SJW many times for seasonal depression and have found it helpful, enough to get me through the winter months, but not life changing.  I thought, if nothing else, it might provide a boost to my fragile mental state.  🙂

And so I faithfully used my oils and my SJW for a couple of weeks and really didn’t think much of it.  We had a birthday in the family and there was no mama-meltdown (a miracle in itself).  Then we had a birthday party complete with sleepover friends and I actually had fun.  We started school and I felt peaceful instead of overwhelmed.  Our schedule picked up pace and I did not panic.  And that’s when I realized it, I felt better.  I felt more free, whole, and human than I had felt in months, maybe longer.  It took about two weeks, but the change was amazing.  I don’t know if it was “just” the oils or “just” the SJW or the combination of the two , but I’m not eliminating one right now to find out.  I have found something that is working incredibly well, and I’m sticking with it.  I may try to taper off of the SJW in the spring, but for the next several months, I am staying the course, Lord willing.

So here’s my treatment plan:

Lots and lots of this…..

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Combined with daily doses of these…..

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I take the SJW according to the directions on the bottle (in this case, 1 capsule, 3 times daily).  I put a drop or two of the citrus oil in every glass of water I drink.  And I put a few drops of Valor in the palm of my hands, rub together, and inhale deeply three or four times a day (more if needed).

I was impressed enough with the oils that I signed up with Young Living to be a “distributor”.  Now let me say this – I am not a fan of MLM.  I don’t like home parties and tend to find MLM products over-priced and not significantly better than their locally found competitors. That said, there is a wide variance in qualities of essential oils, these are shown to be good, quality oils,  and, as I said earlier, I have something that is working.  I’m not interested in rocking the boat.  If I can sign up and get it at a discount – woot!  If God chooses to do something else with this and grow something out of it, then that is His prerogative.

Since signing up and ordering my oils, I have been trying all the ones that came in my kit and have had great success with many of them.  One daughter has used Purification for blemishes.  I diffuse Peace and Calming at breakfast, lunch, and dinner to help keep our gaggle of girls under control as we transition to different parts of the day.  We have used Lavender for a multitude of things – rubbing on feet and pillows at night, soothing burns or scrapes on skin, helping our very distractible child to focus during school (night and day difference when we use it and when we don’t), and even alleviating one of the most severe allergy episodes I’ve had in years.

So, to say I’m a fan is probably an understatement.  I’m still very overwhelmed by the abundance of information and possibilities with these oils, as well as the sheer number of them, but I am learning as I go and am excited to learn more.

For His Glory ~

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****If you are interested in placing an order with Young Living (www.youngliving.com), my distributor number is: 1484727. As I said in my post, I am not actively trying to grow any sort of a business; I’m just completely amazed at how beneficial these oils are and I love that the only “side effects” are good ones, so I am happy to share that with anyone who wants to know more.  It’s always all for God’s glory.

When Hope Gives Wings

For nearly twenty years the clouds have followed me.  For nearly two decades I have wrestled with doubt, fear, overwhelming sadness, and despair.  For nearly twenty years, I have struggled with depression.  Like the clouds, it comes and it goes and often it is seasonal.  But when it hits, it is heavy.  And lonely.  And dark.

But, God, He is the God of light and life and promise and through every season He has carried me and shown me grace and mercy and tenderness.  But most of all it has been His hope that has carried me through the dark seasons.  And it’s the hope found in His word that gives the most comfort…

  • Though he slay me, I will hope in him.  (Job 13:15)
  • Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love. (Psalm 33:18)
  • And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. (Psalm 39:7)
  • Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation.  (Psalm 42:5)
  • For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. (Psalm 62:5)
  • For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. (Jeremiah 29:11-14a)
  • But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:  The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him. (Lamentations 3:21-24)
  • Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope.  I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles. (Zechariah 9:12)
  • In hope he believed against hope… (Romans 4:18a)
  • Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)
  • Let your hope make you glad.  Never stop praying.  Be joyful always. (Romans 12:12 paraphrase)
  • So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. (Hebrews 6:17-20)

And that’s just a few of them.  And when a word comes to define what God is doing in your life, when a word from His word is what you cling to and your forgetful heart needs it ever present before your eyes a constant reminder, you write it all over the house but it’s still not enough, and sometimes you just want to write it on your skin where you can never stop seeing it.  So finally one day, you do….

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Hope – that anchor for the soul that gives wings to the heart.

And the battle isn’t over, but we will continue to fight, because God gives hope.

For His Glory ~

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Week(s) in Review 2013 {Weeks 31, 32, 33, 34, and 35}

Again, yikes.  Another month has slipped by with little to no posting.  Let’s see if I can hit the highlights on August….

We celebrated the beginning of a new era in our home – the teenage years.  Grace turned 13 earlier this month (a longer post on that in the near future).  She and Chandler (turned 10 in June) both had birthday parties this month also.  It was fun to have their friends over to hang out and celebrate.  It’s also nice to be at a stage where sleepovers / parties are actually fun, and not just a ton of work for mom.

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^ Chandler’s birthday sleepover. She and her friends had a lot of fun tie-dying shirts.

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^ Grace’s birthday. Our “1” candle was in a pretty sad state, so we came up with a different way to count to 13.

We went Back to School on the 5th.  I normally don’t ever start on a Monday, always a Tuesday (Monday’s are hard enough, and it makes the first week shorter 🙂 ), but we were all so ready we went ahead and started on a Monday this year.  It’s always a transition getting back into the groove, but this first month has been really good overall.  Here’s a quick overview of what we’re using this year (in case anyone is curious):

    • Grace, Emma, and Chandler are using Sonlight for Bible, history, and literature.
    • Grace, Emma, Chandler, and Ellie are all using Teaching Textbooks for math.  We loooove Teaching Textbooks!
    • Grace is taking science (Apologia Physical science), writing (IEW), another literature class, art, and worldview (Apologia Who Is God) outside the home.
    • Emma and Chandler are taking science (Apologia Astronomy, writing (IEW), another literature class, and art outside the home.  They are also supplementing their language arts with Daily Grams for their grade level.
    • Ellie is using A Beka streaming for most of her subjects, along with Sonlight history and reading.  Since we are using Teaching Textbooks and I prefer it over the A Beka math, we fast forward through that portion of each day.  Shhh!  Don’t tell!  She is taking science (Apologia Astronomy), art, and “histography” (history and geography in one) outside the home.
    • Amania is also using A Beka streaming for kindergarten.  God bless the people at A Beka Academy for providing this service and my husband for being willing to pay for it.  Kindergarten makes me want to bang my head on a wall.  (God also bless kindergarten teachers. They are amazing, saintly people.)

Last year when we finally decided to take the plunge and try A Beka streaming, I nearly choked on the price tag.  But pulling me out of the teaching position and allowing me to do what I do well (administrate and facilitate and keep up on laundry) has brought us all so much more happiness in our schooling.  It’s not something I want to do forever, but it is a definite sanity-saver in these early years when the teaching is so critical and can be so time consuming.

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August also brought the beginning of volleyball for Grace and soccer for Amania.  Sports involvement is new for our family of ballerinas, pianists, artists, and the occasional gymnast.  Amania’s first soccer game was last week and Grace’s first game was this week.  It should be a fun (and busy) fall!

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I think that pretty well sums up the past month.  I have a lot of words rolling around in my head. I miss writing and photography, but this just has not been the season for either.  I’m fairly convinced that when we look back on photo albums in ten years 2012 and 2013 will be “the lost years” for family photo memories.  I’m hopeful that September will provide more opportunity to collect words and photos and share them here as life continues to settle into our “new normal”.  Until then, have a blessed week, friends!

For His Glory~

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