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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The best day of the year!

March 20.  The best day of the year.  The first day of spring.  We woke up to dreary, cool weather this morning, but by mid-day, the sunshine was bright, and the chill was replaced with a warmth reminicient of spring and the promise of new birth ahead.  This winter has been one of the cooler ones I remember in south Louisiana.  Of course, northerners would scoff at such a comment.  I suppose I've become quite acclimated to the sultry summers down here so I don't have quite the tolerance for cooler weather like I once had.  And this winter has seemed very cold and rainy.  It's a welcome feeling after the harsh summertime heat, but I am ready for green grass and leaves on the trees and planting my garden and blooms in my flower pots.  It's time for spring!

I know I've been silent lately, and there are a lot of reasons for that.  I do hope to perhaps share some of those reasons in due time.  In January I participated in a time of fasting with our church, not really knowing what exactly was God's purpose for me in all of that.  But it unknowingly ushered in a time of barrenness, a time of testing, a time of winter (if you will) in my own life.  It has been hard.  It has been seemingly long.  But I do finally feel spring time a coming in my life, too.  And I sure am looking forward to it!

God asked me if I trusted Him.  Well, yes, of course I do, LORD!  And then He required of me to actually LIVE that trust.  Well.  Saying I trust and actually trusting are two entirely different things!  Saying I have faith and living that faith are not one and the same.  Not at all.  And even though God walked with me through that valley and whispered His promises all along the way, a fear gripped my soul like I'd never experienced before!  Fear.  It was scarry.  But it was necessary.  My flesh and my will and my plan needed to be stripped bare.  They were in the way.  In the way of what God wanted and needed to do in my heart and even in the life of my children.  And, let me tell you, barrenness is ugly.  It really is.  Or is it?  Because without the barrenness of winter, branches stripped free of their foilage, the spring wouldn't be near as green, near as beautiful!

I took this picture of the sunrise in my backyard on February 27.  The trees are bare.  But the sunrise?  It's one of the most beautiful I've ever seen! 
Even though my soul was laid bare before the Lord, His glory showed through the midst of it all, and He has done a mighty work that I may have missed otherwise.  Faith and trust and hope seem like such "simple" lessons, such "basics" in the life of a Christ follower.  For this child of the King though, they were gritty and painful.

At the beginning of the winter, the Lord gave me the following verses:

For You will light my lamp; The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness.  For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall.  As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.  For who is God, except the LORD?  And who is a rock, except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect.  ~Psalm 18:28-32

I clung to those verses night and day, many times as the only source of consolation and hope and strength I could find.  And as my faithful Lord brought me along this journey, He later gave me the following verses:

Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence.  If I say, "My foot slips," Your mercy, O LORD, will hold me up.  In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul."  ~Psalm 94:17-19

UNLESS THE LORD HAD BEEN MY HELP.  Unless the LORD.  If it were not for He, I have no idea where I would be.  How in the world do people go through this life without Him?  I can not fathom!

After a chilly, wet winter, spring is finally in the air.  Spring is coming!  Besides.  March 20 is always the best day of the year every year.  It's my birthday!  It's OUR birthday! 

Friday, March 01, 2013

Happy Heart Day Fun

It really is a crying shame that I am doing a Valentine's Day post on March 1 (Really?!? Is it March ALREADY?), especially when I've had these pictures uploaded for a week now but just haven't taken the time to come back and finish.  So here goes.

First of all, Valentine's Day has historically been one of my least favorite days of the year.  It all goes back to those haunting memories of Valentine's Day in middle and high school.  But I'm over all of that now, and I have many loves to celebrate now.  Here are three of them just before bedtime on Valentine's Day.
Although I have a love hate relationship with Pinterest, I did find an idea on there that I decided to do.  Beginning February 1, I cut a heart each day for Seth, Mason and Hannah Kate, wrote a note telling them something I loved about them and posted it where they would see it each morning when they woke up.  So by Valentine's Day, there were fourteen hearts each.  I put Seth's on his bathroom mirror.
I put Mason's and Hannah Kate's on the doors to their rooms.  They were always so excited to see their hearts and read what I wrote.  As a matter of fact, Mason tried each day to give me some ideas of what I should write on his hearts!  And Hannah Kate would read her heart each morning, only to ask me what I was going to write the next day!
I have to admit . . . I didn't do any hearts for Ellie.  And Hannah Kate didn't like that very much.  So one day she asked me to cut a heart for her.  I didn't know what she was going to do with it, but I later found this taped to the side of Ellie's changing table.  Hannah Kate made her a heart.  Yes. I know.  It really should've said, "I love my little sister," but who can argue with a 5-year old who has a heart as big as Texas and loves her little sister that much?!
And not only that, but it also bothered Hannah Kate that I didn't have any hearts to wake up to each morning.  So this appeared taped to the footboard of the bed on my side one morning:
Our Valentine's Day tradition is to eat a fancy schmancy meal at home using our wedding china and crystal.  Last year we had crab cakes, artichoke risotto and roasted asparagus.  The year before that we had shrimp and gouda cheese grits with a roasted pear salad.  But this year I just came up short.  First of all, Valentine's Day was on a Thursday.  Thursdays are the busiest days of the week for us, especially when Mason has his Cub Scouts meetings because Hannah Kate also has dance, and we have to be in two different places in two different towns at nearly the same time.  So not only did we have dance and Cub Scouts on Valentine's Day, but I'd also been asked to play the piano for a wedding that evening.  I had to be three places at once in three different towns.  It all worked out, but there was no time for a fancy schmancy supper on wedding china.  But, planning ahead, I decided to do that on the Wednesday night before.  I really wanted to do something with lobster this year, but I got cold feet at the last minute and didn't have a back-up plan.  So I just had to work with what was in my pantry and freezer.  It was, at least, a new recipe, and it was actually pretty good.  We had chicken with mustard tarragon sauce and spinach and orzo.
And then I saw another idea on Pinterest that I thought was really cute and fun.  I took pie crust sheets, cut heart shapes and made little pockets with cream cheese and strawberries.  Of course, just as I thought, the cream cheese came oozing out when I baked them, and they were really ugly by the time it was all said and done.  Ugly (hence the "hate" side of Pinterest) but yummy.  At least to me they were.  Mason wouldn't touch them.  I wasn't surprised.  But even Hannah Kate wouldn't each them, and she eats everything!  Seth didn't eat one either. 
My favorite part of Valentine's Day this year was my "gift" to my husband.  I found the best idea ever (or at least I thought it was), and, no, it didn't come from Pinterest, but I'm sure it's probably on there somewhere.  A few weeks prior to Valentine's Day, a friend asked me if I wanted to get together with her to "make" something for our husbands.  At first, the thought was overwhelming.  First of all, I wasn't sure if I had time.  And second of all, MAKE something?  I tend to do better with buying something already made!  But I agreed and then a few days later came across this idea on the Proverbs 31 website.

It took us two weeks and several hours to finish the project, but we each made a book for our husbands.  The book had a page for each letter of the alphabet, and each letter stood for something significant about our husband or our time together or our relationship.  I managed to write out our entire story spanning nearly 14 years.  I had a lot of fun putting it together.  And I was ever so excited to give it to Seth.
If you know my husband, you know he is a man of very few words.  It also takes A LOT to get him excited.  So I wasn't expecting much when I gave it to him.  His response after he read it?  He asked me how long it took me to do it!  And that was it.  But that was enough.  He really liked it.  I think.  The only problem is that I don't think I'll be able to come up with something that good next year.

And, as for me, well, he did real good for me, too.  There's actually a really funny story behind it.  Maybe I'll blog about that another day.