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Showing posts from January, 2013

Thrift Store Thursday: Comfort Edition

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Today let's talk comfort. Through the years, different things have meant comfort to me. Lately it's things that soothe my senses. Some of my favorites are my incense burner, pictured below, and my moose coffee mug, both thrift store finds. The scent of coffee wakes me up, while enjoying a quiet moment or two with a mug of coffee soothes my soul. Incense permeating the air calms and centers me as I move through my day.


My kids know enough that, if they're folding the laundry and my Figment night shirt is in the load, it makes its way to my bed right away so I know it's available for me to wear to bed. It won't be long until this particular piece of comfort disintegrates, but until then, I will relish the instant relaxation that comes from slipping into such a comfy garment. 

And then there's the ultimate in comfort. Choosing from a super-soft fabric sleeping bag-turned-comforter and the beautiful comforter cover that covers a comforter that's older than I am i…

Most Excellent Harmonies

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Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.Philippians 4:8MSG
Ah, how things seem to enter my life at just the right time. Take this Bible passage, for instance. There it was, on my screen, when I was looking for something different. It spoke to me, saying what my heart was screaming, but couldn't put into words.

Now that there has been a significant ending in my life - the dissolution of something I held dear but can no longer contribute my energy to - I need to consciously reach out and embrace God's most excellent harmonies in my life. Perhaps endings that bring peace and change are part of this.…

Shadow

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She stands still, tries to be patient until the light goes off. Once it does, she runs a few steps forward and to the side, spinning around to see the shadow she's left behind. "I wish she could come with me and play with me and teach me to see what she sees," she dreams. "Oh, yes!" she exclaims, "shadows can get bigger or smaller or disappear or fly or just be." She wishes her image farewell before it has time to fade away, and we're of to explore more exciting things the Children's Museum has to offer. On the way home, she's quiet, contemplative. "You know what? Shadows are dark, but they're made because of light. That's just too good!"

This past week, I've needed a shadow friend. Someone to remind me that there would be no light without the darkness, no joy without sadness. A reminder that no matter how dark my life gets, I'm surrounded by Light. Light that knows my darkest places and loves me. Light that guides…

Mail Call

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Retrieving the mail from the mailbox, three colorful envelopes peeked out from amongst the usual ads and bills - an unusual sight, for sure. Taking a moment out of my already hectic and stressful day, I sat, a smile creeping across my face as I spied the return address on each envelope. Each card provided just what my heart needed that day, and serve as a reminder that I'm cared for, valued, and loved. How easily I've lost sight of that over the past week, anxiety clouding my outlook and encouraging self-doubt. Dawn brought light into my day, reminding me to take in the warmth of friendship, focus on finding balance, and concentrate on getting through life's trials with grace. I am forever thankful to her for being such a kind, thoughtful friend, and to God for weaving her into the tapestry of my life.

Thrift Store Thursday: Footwear Edition

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In just one trip to the thrift store, you can travel through time just by perusing the footwear aisles. I had one such thrift store experience.
The first were a tiny pair of toddler crocodile crocs. They were truly adorable. I was transported back to the days Coren had a pair like this. Somehow I don't remember his being this tiny!

Then I stumbled upon this totally rad pair of sneakers. They were shiny. And a big. And reminded me quite a bit of clown shoes. 


Then, there they were. A wonder of teal faux-suede and poly/cotton knit. Like, totally eighties dude!

Not to be outdone by children's or women's shoes, the men's shoe rack came up with these gargantuan, shiny blue loafers. Unfortunately the pointy toes of these beauties got cut off in the picture and my phone battery died before I could take a better photo. Besides, people were starting to look at me a little strangely. 

My personal best, when it comes to thrift store shoe purchases, has to be my brand new Uggs, bought …

Unhinged

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Drama entered my life a few days ago. The ferocity of words aimed at me when I was simply trying to help caught me off guard. The commotion that followed left me completely unhinged. Angry words and others' opinions about my actions and me as a person flew at me at light speed, cutting to the core. What hurt most is that their anger blinded them from seeing my heart - and perhaps mine, theirs. For a while I lost my self, my way, my heart. I am falling apart, and that is not ok.

Tumultuous days like these leave me drained, feeling deeply empty, yet overflowing with grief. There is no space, no time, for me to process what has happened, and herein lies the danger - there is only reaction, explanation, and groping for common ground. I need time to process, to focus, to open myself to what really matters and leave the rest behind. I need stillness of heart and mind to listen after I pray before I can find my way.

So today I take a deep breath and move on. Today I start to pick up the pi…

All I Wanted

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All I wanted when I was four years old was to grow up and have five kids. 

I did grow up (mostly) and I did have five children. Five wonderful kids. Five unique, yet all a special kind of crazy, kids. 

All I wanted today was to take a picture of my children. All five of them. All at the same time. I know, I know - that's asking a lot. I ended up taking a grand total of twenty-four pictures of them. Alex, my resident aspie teen who hates having his picture taken was visible enough for it to count in fourteen of them. Of those fourteen, his eyes were open in seven. 
All I wanted was a nice picture. Of the twenty-four photos, one should be usable, right? Well, ok, one came out fairly nicely, and you can see a good percentage of Alex's face in it:

After that one good shot, approximately seventeen pics in, things rapidly started going downhill. The first glimpse of what was to come is right there in the background with looking-at-his-nose boy:



Then the silliness started:


OK...hang on - w…

Short Term

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The top ten things that make short term memory problems fabulous:

1. Re-watching an entire tv series from beginning to the present and not remembering much of it at all - and still enjoying it.
2. The amusement of one's children when once again you can't remember why you walked into a room, what you were in the middle of doing when they interrupted you, or why you picked up a certain item. 3. The wonderment of thinking that you really should make dinner soon, only to discover that it's already in the oven/crockpot. 
4. How fabulously organized one gets with lists and post-it-notes - that is, if you actually remember to reference said lists and post-its.
5. Rediscovering young adult fiction because you don't have a memory capable of keeping up with most adult fiction books. There's some really great young adult fiction out there!
6. You get surprised by the little things in life, like your significant other bringing something you asked for, even though you don't remem…

To See the Face of God

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At church Sunday morning, I had a difficult time paying attention to the sermon. A certain little girl had important things to say. 
"Mama, do you see God's face? I see it when I see the faces of all these people at church. I see God's face even when I close my eyes really tight. I see God's face in everyone I meet. Do you want to know why? Because I love every single person!" (Alia, age 4)
At the movies Sunday night, one line of a song jumped out at me like never before. 
"To love another person is to see the face of God." (Les Miserables)The world hasn't been quite the same to me, since. How can it be, when I see God everywhere, in every face? How can it be, when I look through the eyes of love? How can it be, when my heart has been reawakened? 

When did I become blind to God in others? Until Sunday, I hadn't realized how closed off my heart had become, how difficult it has been to genuinely care about every human being with whom I come in contact…

Thrift Store Thursday: Epic Edition

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During the past few weeks, my husband and I have been thrift shopping together a couple of times. Once was on our anniversary. We've found some truly epic things. Some of them we brought home ... some were just too awesome - or should that be awful? - to make the cut.
We start out with items for the home. 
First we have this lovely little pièce de résistance:
Who can pass up a limited edition collectible McDonalds "Ronald's Picnic" sericel? We can, that's who!
And then there's this slightly creepy, ever-winking doll complete with faded, yellowed, and slightly "scented" hand-crocheted outfit. A fabulous addition to any decor. Well, maybe not any decor. Definitely not our decor.

Decorative items just didn't work out for us, so we moved on to music. 
Here's the first gem we came across:

Who can resist Jimmy Buffet - especially the greatest hits cd with such legendary songs as Cheeseburger in Paradise, Volcano, Margaritaville, and my all-time non-child…

Love Expects Tomorrow

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At age twenty, planning our wedding, we chose 1 Corinthians 13 as one of our readings:
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. 
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.We had been through a lot together and had some sense of the depth and breadth of our love. Protects - check! Trusts - check! Hopes , perseveres - check and check! Kind? Of course! Patient ... well, mostly. Our love was solid. Unshakable. 
Enter children, lifestyle choices, work, financial issues, and all the stresses of adulthood. Add in mental health issues and physical health issues, which sent our seemingly vibrant family on a downward spiral. 
Faith, hope, and love were …

Unconventional Teacher

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Lola is a wonderful teacher, although she teaches in odd ways. Not one for conversation, she lets her actions speak for her.

For example, every time I sit down, she sits next to me, encouraging me not to just sit down for a moment's rest, but to really take time to relax, to enjoy the moment.

Sometimes, out of the blue, she'll give me a massage. Oh, how relaxing and wonderful! I return the favor, as we're both in a much better state.

Lola lives in the moment. She finds amusement in the little things. She looks forward to seeing and spending time with the people she loves. She teaches me to relax, to enjoy the moment, to soak in the sunlight, and to appreciate the presence of those around me. 


She does get bossy and demanding at times, though. If she wants me to stay and spend time with her, she gets pretty adamant about it and her claws come out, sometimes holding me hostage until she decides she's ready for me to go.
Mostly she keeps my feet warm at night, and my heart war…

Diagonal Tetris

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I can picture it now ... We're going to pick up our kids from their sleepover at Gramma and Papa's house and someone is going to ask us, "What did you do last night?" Whomever it is will not be content with the answer "Daddy and I went on a date to celebrate our anniversary." They'll want details. So I think about the wonderful evening we had ...

We had a very early dinner at a nice restaurant. We talked about diagonal tetris, dead people, and my husband's boss checking him out. We discovered that even after seventeen years of marriage to someone who knows tons of actors and what movies they're in, tons of bands and the songs that they sing, I know one out of every five or six actors that he mentions and continue to be horrible at associating bands with their songs. 

Our free gluten-free chocolate dome with raspberry sauce and fresh berries anniversary dessert was gorgeous - but also too utterly tempting and delicious to stop and take a picture. A…

Walking Together

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Walking together in a field near our Sunbury, PA apartment, suddenly you were on your knee saying those four life-changing words. We were twenty years old, our lives stretched out before us.

Walking down the church aisle toward your handsome, beaming face, my heart fluttered, not with anxiety, but with joy and anticipation of good things to come. We were barely twenty-one, more sure of the love we shared than anything else in life. 


Walking out of the emergency room in your arms, devastated, empty, longing for the baby that was not meant to be. We were twenty-three, just beginning to understand, "in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health."


Walking into my parents' house on Christmas Eve, I held our most precious Christmas gift in my arms. I was ever so thankful to be in this place - in every sense of the word - and not just because I thought we'd never arrive due to you driving 15 mph in a 45 because there was a baby in the car. In my childhood home, during th…

Dancing in the Rain

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If there's one thing I'm good at, it's taking care of people. 


If there's one thing I'm horrible at, it's letting people take care of me. Ok, well, I was horrible at it, but I've spent the past two years practicing. A lot.

A diagnosis of a chronic  illness or an injury or surgery can be life-changing. Perhaps the biggest change for some is going from the caretaker role to being the recipient of care. Asking for an accepting help can be nearly impossible for some. The concept not being able to do for oneself can be devastating. 

After I got my psoriatic arthritis diagnosis, it took me a long time to learn that it's A Matter of Perspective

One of the biggest changes in perspective I’ve had recently has centered on my need to slow down and learn how to live with my psoriatic arthritis, rather than fight my body to maintain an unreasonable level of activity. It’s been difficult to go from doing to being. Finding joy in stillness and slowness has had its chall…

Favorite Things

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I love it when my favorite things conspire to make my day amazing.

Today started with an early morning snuggle with a very special almost-five-year-old. Then, coffee in my favorite mug, which reminds me with every cup of life-giving elixir to Pray Without Ceasing. Saying a prayer with every sip is a wonderful way to welcome a new day and center myself in what really matters. 

As if that wasn't good enough, I got to hop in the Ziggymobile (our 12 passenger van) with six of my most cherished people (aka my family). Singing, laughter and storytelling abounded as we made our way to the first day of Winter semester at Epoch Arts. Homeschool co-op is a most beloved place for every member of our family. A great deal is learned here - not just knowledge shared, but community, friendship, and so much more. Such a wonderful place to move prayerfully through my day. 

Soon we will be journeying home for good food and family time. And maybe another round of coffee and prayer. 



Thrift Store Thursday: Fashion Edition

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The thrift store can be a very fashion-forward place. Or an incredibly fashion-peculiar place. Most of what we find is fabulous ... in one way, shape or form.

For example, I got two pairs of Birkenstocks last year for $8 and $12 per pair. Fabulous. 


This t-shirt, however, seems a bit questionable to me ...

And then there's this quite obviously spectacular pair of spectacles which came home with us without question.

And this mind-blowing tie dye. 



Alia got this stunning pair of shoes. And another one just like it, only opposite, come to think of it. 
Finally, I leave you with these words of wisdom...

Happy Thrifting, Amanda




A Different Way of Life

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I don't want to get my hopes up. It's still too early to tell. I mean, maybe it's just the amount of rest I've been getting lately that I usually don't get.

But I think I may just be feeling better.

Why is this such a difficult thing to admit, especially to myself? Why is there a tightness in my chest when I consider the possibility of my health improving? Why is it so scary to feel better? Perhaps it's the possible disappointment, or even devastation that awaits should things prove not to be improving as I think they are. Perhaps it's because whenever this roller-coaster ride we call life starts going up, I can be assured that at some point ahead it will go down again. Maybe it will be just a small dip, nothing too concerning. But the chance that not only will the downward spiral arrive, but that it will take me to depths of physical pain and swelling more akin to a house of horrors than an amusement park ride still scares me. 


It's not that I think I can…