Day 31: Reflect

To me, some of the appeal of a vintage lifestyle is a bit of a slower pace. Life in the days of old was not necessarily easy, but it was simple. There was a sense of order. There was a rhythm of work and rest. And the rest was sweet, because the work was hard.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. Just taking a little bit of time at the end of the day to think about what went well, what I would do differently and where I’m headed.

And this is what it comes down to:  I’m not living the life I want to. I’m too busy. Our family is way too busy.

Take this past week. My birthday was Wednesday, but we didn’t get around to eating the birthday cake I made until Friday afternoon – yikes! It was all fun stuff, but it was just way too much. And I have one of those fancy-schmancy new cell phones that’s still in the box because I can’t find one hour to set it up. (We had to upgrade as the only place I could get a signal in our house on my old phone was near the coffee maker – and even that was spotty!)

This week is lighter, but not by much.

I need to take some of my own advice and learn how to slow down. To say no. To do less…so I can enjoy the life I’ve been given more.

This month marks one year of blogging. I started this blog as a way to journal my attempts to simplify and prioritize. Ironically, my very first post was on being overwhelmed. One year later, it feels like I’m still in the same place.

Something has to change…so I’m going to take a break from blogging for a while.

I may be back from time to time if I have a fabulous new recipe or a thrifty decorating idea that is too good not to pass along. And I do have some things to share from a women’s retreat I attended. It was about rest and what the Bible has to say about it. It was really good, but I need to find the time to apply what I learned.

I’m even going to take a break from reading blogs as well. The question I’ve been pondering for some time is this, “Do I want to live my life, or do I want to blog about it?”

And that is a question only I can answer after lots of reflection.

* * *

This is the last post in a month-long series entitled, “31 Days of Vintage Living in a Modern World.”

Published in: on October 31, 2011 at 9:48 am  Comments (2)  
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Happiness is…

I picked these from my tiny backyard garden the other day. There is something so satisfying about stepping outside your door and picking some fresh vegetables.

Lately, my go-to lunch has been a grilled tomato and cheese sandwich. As I was cutting into one of those big red beautiful tomatoes still warm from the sun, I couldn’t help tearing up because that slice of tomato reminded me of my papa.

He grew up as one of eleven children in a very rural, very poor farming family in the back hills of Virginia. His school burned to the ground when he was in fourth grade. The town was so poor that it was never rebuilt so he went to work on the family farm. He knew a lot about growing food.

I remember asking him one time to tell me a story from his childhood. He simply looked at me with a sly smile and a twinkle in his eye and said, “Kim, we growed everything we ate.”

He was a simple man who was very content and grateful for whatever he had. He encouraged me to start a garden. I won’t buy any other variety but “Big Boy” tomatoes because that’s what he always grew.  

Looking at that tomato made me miss him terribly.

Looking down at the tomato I grew, I felt a strange and wonderful connection to him. And all I could think of was, “my papa would be so proud.”

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Published in: on August 31, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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You know you’re a camping newbie when…

  • all of your gear is still in its original packaging when you get to the site
  • when you find your site, you have to call and ask the office where to put the tent (Tom gave me that job, what a guy!)
  • you get a wicked tricep workout pumping up a queen and two twin mattresses using only a hand pump
  • you have to read the directions to learn how to light the portable camp stove
  • you realize there’s a reason why they’re called “biting” flies

You see, earlier this week, we were city folk on an adventure to the primitive land known only as KOA.

We’d been camping before, but this time, it was just my husband and I and our two boys.

No extended family of veteran campers, no RV with air conditioning, a kitchen, a bathroom and satellite TV.

We were in a tent.

In July.

During an Excessive Heat Warning.

The “hottest July on record” is what the newscast said, I believe.

We’d been planning this vacation as a great way to start a new tradition and bond as a family. On Tuesday morning right before we were to leave, we seriously debated whether or not we should go.

But in the end we decided to tough it out.

Here is the good:

  • There was a Ms. Pac-Man machine in the game room.
  • The tent didn’t leak during the unexpected torrential downpour thunderstorm the first night.
  • Aside from the initial investment of the equipment, it was a pretty inexpensive vacation.

The bad:

  • It was HOT.
  • “Volcanic” might be a better way to describe it, actually.
  • We all were tired, grumpy, sweaty, stinky and sunburned.
  • Plenty of blood thirsty mosquitoes – and, oh yes, biting flies.

And the downright ugly:

  • The crystal clear pool (read:  our only chance of cooling refreshment and um, survival) was located right next to the ginormous dumpster full of smelly rotting garbage.

Yes, I tend to have a bit of a cynical sense of humor. Guilty as charged. I do also like to laugh and look on the bright side of things.

So, here goes.

We wanted to bond as a family and we did. Plus, our inaugural camping trip makes for a great story. And we can laugh about it now.

But the best part of all was when one of our kids said as we were leaving for home, “I had so much fun. This was the best camping trip EVVVVEEERRRR!”

Know what?

He’s right.

We can’t wait to go again.

When it’s like a full 30 degrees cooler, that is!

 

Published in: on July 22, 2011 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  

A Giant Dose of Perspective

We’ve been without hot water for almost two weeks.

TWO WEEKS!

Boiling water on the stove and dumping it into the bathtub Ma Ingalls style gets old really, really quick – especially, when there are four people in your family.

Luckily, it’s summer, so our boys were more than content to run through the sprinkler in between baths.

Oh, to be a kid again.

But I will say this…being without hot water has given us an appreciation for all of the modern conveniences we do have that many in the rest of the world never miss because they go without every day.

Essential needs like food, clothing, shelter and basic medical care.

Why do we in the United States have so much while others in the world have so little?

It’s a question I often wrestle with. The only answer that I can come up with is that God owns it all and He distributes it the way He pleases.

My Sears-repairman father graciously offered to fix our hot water heater for us for the cost of the part.

On his one and only day off a week.

Did I mention we live an hour away from him?

Thank you, dad, for sacrificing your time to fix it for us.

And thank you, my heavenly Father, for giving me a giant dose of perspective in the process.

Published in: on July 21, 2011 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  

Note to Moms…Punch Out!

Not as in…

  • punch out your husband when he asks, “What’s for dinner?” after you just walked in the door from work and he’s been home for two hours already.
  • punch out the person talking on the phone while driving who almost succeeds in killing both you and your children.

I mean “punch out” as in set a time to be done with your housework for the day and then be done with it. Simply treat your responsibilities at home just as you would your responsibilities working a job outside the home.

Go here with me for a second.

At a job outside the home, there is a definite start and end time. Even if you don’t punch a physical time clock, you still stop working at a preset time.

So it begs the question, “Why couldn’t you do the same for your housework?”

Please note I’m NOT suggesting that you refuse to feed your baby or read a story to your little one after 5 p.m. Parenting is a 24/7 job.

What I am suggesting is that you plan to be done with the cooking and cleaning responsibilities at a certain time and then walk away.

I recently began finishing up my home responsibilities by a certain time and I have to say I like it.

I like it “ah-lawt”. (Name that movie).

It gives me an incentive to work hard to finish what I need to for the day. After that, I am free to go and enjoy my family

No more thinking, “I’ll just start a quick load of laundry” or “I’ll just handwash these few dishes in the sink.”

Instead, I give myself permission to stop working at a given time and start spending some quality time with my husband and sons.

Let’s face it – there will always be more to do. Laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc., will unfortunately always be there.

But time with my precious family may not.

Hmmm…what do you know? I think it’s time for me to punch out:)

Published in: on July 6, 2011 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Wealth Defined

Image:  A Country Farmhouse

“Wealth consists not in having great possessions but in having few wants.” – Esther De Waal

I love.this.quote. To me, the truest contentment lies in wanting what you’ve already got. What a great reminder.

Published in: on June 17, 2011 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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“Your house is so _____”

A very stylish neighbor of mine stopped in unexpectedly the other day.

As soon as she walked in and looked around she said, “Your house is so…”

Cute? Nope.

Beautiful? Nope.

“…peaceful.”

That was one of the nicest compliments about our home I’ve ever received.

You see, that’s what I what our house to be. Warm. Comfortable. And yes, peaceful.

We don’t have to have the newest and best things, nor the most expensive things, to have a lovely home. In fact, I happen to prefer the stuff that has a history – things that beg to be rescued, made over and loved once more.

Perhaps one reason why is because that’s what God did for me.

He rescued a little girl, abandoned by her birth parents, and is slowly making her into something special in His eyes – a woman of the Word, of prayer and of character.

Though I fall so short every day, He is there to encourage me, guide me and give me His peace. His mercies truly are new every morning.

And He longs to do the same for you, if you will let Him.

Matthew 11:28-29 says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Published in: on June 16, 2011 at 5:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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I did it!

I just finished my first year of homeschooling.

And I didn’t even pull out all of my hair!

I’ve learned so very much this past year…about each of my sons, about myself and, most of all, about the Lord.

Not to mention that I can also rattle off the names of the original thirteen colonies. Aren’t you impressed?

You see, I didn’t want to homeschool. In fact, I’m the last person anyone thought would ever homeschool. (I know because I’ve been told so on more than one occasion)!

But my husband was convinced God was leading our family in that direction.

Me? I didn’t get that message, if you know what I’m saying!

I came up with a list of reasons why it wouldn’t work and I proceeded to tell my husband and the Lord all of them. Multiple times.

So then what happened?

God changed my heart.

I didn’t think I could do it. And honestly, I didn’t think I’d want to.

But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by all of the unexpected blessings our family has received. Not so much because we decided to homeschool, but because we were obedient to the Lord and we trusted Him to figure out all of the details. 

Once I yielded my will to His, the idea became more appealing. And things started to fall into place.

Even though I still didn’t think I could do it, I made myself try – and God provided.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9)

I still mess up and I still have so much more to learn. But guess what…I actually like homeschooling. And when I’m tempted to give up, I remember that I’m only the vessel that God is using. He is doing the real work. I just have to be willing.

And that is the biggest blessing of all.

* * * * *

End note:  Please don’t misunderstand…my purpose in writing this post isn’t to convince you that you have to homeschool. Or to make you feel guilty if you can’t or don’t.

I just want to encourage you to make yourself available to the Lord and to decide once and for all that you will follow Him no matter what. When you do that, He is able to do “exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20) and He gets the glory only He deserves.

Published in: on May 18, 2011 at 9:26 am  Comments (1)  
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Grace Defined

What is grace? And what does it mean to grow in grace?

I’ve always heard “grace” defined as “unmerited favor” and I thought that was a good definition.

Then I happened upon a quote from The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith, a book that was first published in 1888.

She writes, “It is difficult to answer this question, because so few people have any conception of what the grace of God really is. To say that it is free unmerited favor, only expresses a little of its meaning. It is the unhindered, wondrous, boundless love of God, poured out upon us in an infinite variety of ways, without stint or measure, not according to our deserving, but according to His measureless heart of love, which passeth knowledge, so unfathomable are its heights and depths”.

Wow. I read that over and over again.

I want to know the grace of God like that. But wait, I already do  know His grace and love, I just have to accept it.

Father God in Heaven, thank you so much for lavishing your unhindered, wondrous, boundless love upon us. Please never let us think for one moment that we have done or could do anything to deserve your measureless love toward those you call your own. Help me to humbly accept your beautiful gift. May I always remember that your grace is sufficient for my every need. Amen.

From Moody Publishers:  HANNAH WHITALL SMITH (1832-1911) was born in Philadelphia to a Quaker family. Her life expressed the joy that is found in complete surrender to the Lord. The secret to a happy life, according to Whitall Smith, is to trust implicitly in the promises of the Bible. Her goal was not to impress the scholar, but to elevate the simple man or woman who longed for a more consecrated way of living. Deeply practical, her writings deal directly with the day-to-day struggles of ordinary people. She is author of The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life and The God of All Comfort.

Published in: on May 15, 2011 at 5:00 am  Comments (3)  
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To You, Mom, On Mother’s Day

I missed you today, mom.

I thought about you a lot.

I wish I could see you. Hear you laugh. Feel your hugs. Listen to your stories.

And tell you about my latest adventures.

I wish you could see the boys and how much they’ve grown.

You wouldn’t recognize them, they’re so big!

Oh wait –  of course you would.

They made me cards for Mother’s Day.

Just like I used to make for you.

I made them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – just like you used to make for me. 

I kissed some boo boos today and gave lots of hugs.

I played a game with them and giggled along.

And I made sure to look each child in the eye and tell him how much I love him.

Just like you used to do for me.

I thanked God for the wonderful gift that children are…

and the wonderful example I had in you.

All I can say is thank you. For everything.

I want you to know how very much I loved you.

And still do.

Bonnie Jean Viers

1932-2004

Published in: on May 8, 2011 at 9:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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