Slow Goes It

“It”.  Such a non-specific, tiny word to mean such a tremendously significant thing.  The thing?  The it?  Well, of course I’m referring to the Little Red House Reno!!  We’ve been plugging away on this track for so long, I’m starting to wonder if this is just our life now.  We will live with my mom and have this perpetual renovation project that never seems to come together and the more progress we make, the more projects pop up, pushing us further and further away from our target.  It reminds me of getting swept away by an ocean current and the more you try to correct your path back to where you started, the more you are carried in the opposite direction.

And, like I said, some progress has been made, but not enough for me to feel like it’s all going to work out somehow.  I thought, from our recent estimated project timeline, we would be moving in now…this week!  But, it’s apparently the contractor code.  Whatever time frame they specify, you should double it, maybe even triple it!  I can’t understand why they don’t take a page from the restaurant industry.  If you come in and there is a 30 minute wait for a table, they’ll tell you 45, so when your name is called around 30 minutes later, you’re pleasantly surprised…pleased, even with how they managed to get you a table in 30 instead of 45 minutes.  It feels like you are being treated especially well…like a VIP guest.  Contractors on the other hand, want to please you up front, just to get you in the door, because once you’re there, you can’t leave…or at least its’ very difficult to.  You can’t just say, “This is taking too long, let’s just go someplace else.”  It’s frustrating.

And, we are not unhappy with the new contractor (PJC Remodeling).  We actually really like him.  He shows up, everyday and works…a full day.  Amazing!  In that aspect, our expectations were super low.  I mean, just show up and you’re winning already!  You know!?  He even did some tile work that Josh and I were not totally satisfied with and he took it all down, bought new tile and fixed it the next day!  That impressed me.

So, where are we now?  All walls are up and plastered (except the kitchen), the upstairs bedroom is completely done, except for some baseboard trim, new windows are in, new entry doors for the mudroom and the master bedroom, most electrical and plumbing is in, the floors have been refinished (except the living room which is serving as a storage room right now, and the 1st floor bathroom has been tiled.

Check out the pics:  (Please excuse the horrible quality…I gotta work on that) 😉

slowitgoes1slowitgoes6

This is a couple shots of our master bedroom with a door leading to the backyard and future deck.  (another project) 😉 …and our his and hers closets.  I’m thinking the space above the closets could be book cases with a sliding ladder??  I’m open to suggestions up there! 😉

slowitgoes3

These are the beautiful floors upstairs!! 🙂

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Master bathroom with a HUGE walk in rain shower!! 🙂

So, it’s getting there.  We’ll get there.  And when it’s done, it will be beautiful.  I told my step-mom the other day, “When we die in this house, I want whoever comes in to buy it say, ‘Eeewww, this kitchen has been redone since 2016 probably!  We have to replace everything!'”  Or, at least, that’s what I say right now. 😉

Til’ next time, be blessed!!
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A Poem: Tinkle in The Trash

(I’m pretty sure this is what went through my 7 year old’s head last week when he decided to forgo the toilet! …sans rhyming form though! 😉 )

Wouldn’t it be fun, and probably not so dumb to just…
Tinkle in the trash?

Then I could claim to be working on my aim if I just…
Tinkle in the trash!

It won’t be such a spectacle using a different receptacle if I just…
Tinkle in the trash!

I’m bored with the toilet, nothing could spoil it if I just…
Tinkle in the trash!

It will be a great feat, and I’ll think its’ so, so neat if I just…
Tinkle in the trash!

I’ll be happy and proud and will yell out loud that I just…
Tinkled in the trash!

😦

 Figuring out the brain of boys is one of my toughest challenges!  At times they are the sweetest, cuddliest, most thoughtful little squish faces…and other times…they tinkle in the trash.

Awesome

Til’ next time, be blessed!
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Why Don’t You Pray About It?

Have you ever lay awake at night worrying and thinking and weighing and what if-ing?  Wondering what the right choice is, the right path, the best decision, or ideal plan of action?  What to do?  What to think?  What to decide?

Welcome to my world! — The mental Olympic Games of WORRY


praying hands

Do you have a spiritual icon?  Apart from Jesus Himself, I mean.  Someone…human, that you look to in awe, amazed at the way they live like Jesus?  The person that Matthew 25:21 directly applies to?  Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”  I have one of those “good and faithful” servants in my life, that I get to witness, up close, what a life living through Him looks like.  

Pipe & Jerm

My sister-in-law, Piper and her husband, Jeremy

I also get to pick her brain in important situations to get a better idea of what God would also probably advise…since I swear they must be pen pal’s!  That’s my sister-in-law and best-est friend, Piper. I always joke that when she reaches the pearly gates, they will roll out a literal red carpet and all the angels will line up on either side, giving her those low high fives (like at basketball games) as she runs down, slapping each one, to explode onto the Biggest game of all!  I don’t know if there will be some pumped up, high energy music blasting her onto the heavenly scene or not…but wouldn’t be surprised.   😉   

Recently, when Josh and I were deciding who we should hire amongst the selected candidates of new contractors  to take over our little red house reno project, we were stumped.  More like terrified to make the wrong choice again and be in an even bigger pickle than we are now!

Side note:In_a_Pickle

(That’s a funny saying…doesn’t sound so terrible, I like pickles.  But maybe if I was actually trapped in one, I would think differently.  I don’t want that at all!)

They all seemed like good options, they all had balancing pro and con lists, if we went about the decision in a systematic, organized way. I would lay awake at night, thinking of each option, wondering which one we should hire.  Josh and I would have lengthy conversations about the best option, expressing our fear of making the wrong decision again!  Josh even said, “I wish someone else could decide; that way, if it all went wrong, then it wouldn’t have been because of my choice!”  We were scared of making a mistake and it seemed like the more we thought about it, the more we talked about it, the more everything seemed so uncertain.   What to do?!

I know!  ~~~  Call my spiritual icon, Piper and see what she has to say!

Me: “We don’t know what to do; who to choose.  This guy has A,B, & C…but also has X, Y, & Z.  This other guy has his own set of A, B, & C…but also his own X, Y, & Z’s too!  I went through our systematic pro’s and con’s list for each candidate.

Piper: “Well, did you pray about it?”

Me: “Oh. Ah…no.”

Piper: “You should probably do that and see if you can get some clarity.”

Me: “Oh.  Ah…right!”

*******
Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

*******

How is that when it’s crunch time, I forget to enlist the help of basic biblical principles?  Pray about it!!!!! Duh!!!!!  How could I forget to do this?!  But I did and I do all the time!

You’re probably wondering if praying abut it helped at all.  And YES it did!  The choice became clear once I allowed the spirit to calm my spinning what if’s, giving me pause to see the best choice with the information we had.  Now, is this a fail safe?  Is our selected choice the absolute correct one, who will not let us down in any way, shape, or form?  I don’t know, honestly.  But, what praying did for me was chilled me out…calmed my fears of making the wrong choice.  Once I prayed about the whole thing, the choice that was best for us, became clear and “the peace of God” rested over us and our decision.  For real.

peaceful breeze

The peace of God swept over our hearts like a gentle breeze, making our decision seem more clear…lighter somehow.

Now…you try it!!

Til’ next time, be blessed!!
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Thank you so much for reading!
(Photo credits to Amaree Davis @ Picture Made Photography)

Check It Out!

Hey y’all!!  Would love for you to head on over to Living Little Rhody where my friend, Lauren Giammarco Silveira (Organized for Life) “captures stories from the smallest state with the biggest heart!”  Today there is a feature on Small Townology!!! 🙂

Living Little Rhody is at Home With Kate from Small Townology 

I’m Too Busy to Be Busy!!!

Once on Facebook my dear friend and sister-in-law, Amaree (Picture Made Photography) said something like, “This is what it’s like to talk to my sister-in-law, Kate on the phone who has three small boys, ‘Put that back in the refrigerator, that’s hot sauce…you cannot drink hot sauce.  What?  No, you cannot jump naked on the trampoline.  Hey!  Be careful!  That is definitely glass, put that down slowly.  What was that?  Where are you?!  Why are you in the trash?!…Oh, sorry, what were you saying?'”

IMG_1142And there it is.  That is exactly my life.  That’s the season right now.  My three crazy, lovable, ping pong ball boys are that busy from the time their beautiful blue eyes open, to the time they pass out from exhaustion at night.  And yes, I tend to dress like a homeless person, I have a permanent pile of laundry on my couch, my hair is never ‘done’, no matter how many times I bleach the bathroom it maintains the faint potpourri of little boy pee, the makeup I have on right now is left over from two days ago, and my nail polish I decided to add last minute for my birthday/Valentine’s day date with my husband is now chipping off every finger.  What’s left on each delicate nail is what looks like an inkblot test in pail pink.  Oh look, there’s Nebraska on that one, a butterfly on another…I now see chipping polish as a conversation starter!  Perfect for someone like me, who cowers in the presence of small talk.

As I was ‘dressing’ my two year this morning, which is more accurately comparable to wrestling a wild boar into human clothing, I was wondering how those moms who seem like they have so much substance in their life manage it all.  I know, I know…DEADLY, FUTILE, and USELESS to compare yourself to someone else when you don’t really have any idea what their life or inner chaos is like.  But we still do it.  I still do it all the time.

Like, the person I’m most perplexed and fascinated by, Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper.  I’ve mentioned her before as an inspiration for giving me the guts to take on our version of a fixer upper.  From the outside, she seems to have it all…as a mind boggling talented designer, with a thriving business (including a store, home renovation for clients, a TV show, a blog, furniture line, paint line, an inn, a bakery, and a book), a loving husband, FOUR beautiful children, a farm (with a huge garden and livestock), gorgeous home they, of course, did themselves, a speaker, a passionate Christian who shares her testimony.  Blah, blah, blah…I know its’ sickening! 😉  How does she do it?!  It seriously blows my mind.  When I found out she and her husband have a book coming out, I threw my hands up in the air, ‘That’s it,’  I thought… ‘I give up!’  (Since I’ve been working on my own book for what seems like an eternity!)

*******

Our to-do lists, I feel, are very very different.  On my to-do list today:  finally pick up that sock that’s been hanging out in the hallway in the same spot for 9 days.  On her to-do list: design and launch her own line of family friendly cars and SUV’s.

*******

Theodore Roosevelt – “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

I can even do the comparing game with people and moms I know personally…amazed at what they are able to accomplish and how they seem to have it all together.  But, it’s so dangerous and pointless to go there.  I know it is.  For me, if I really focus on the things that I personally hold as most important to me…then, the answer gets clear as crystal…the joy in my life shines through.  Wrestling my two year old into his clothes that he is quickly growing out of is exactly where I want to be.  And I couldn’t trade the everyday I get with my little ones, before I lose them forever to the daily grind of school and after school activities and friends and their own lives separate from me.  Not a chance.  But I still wonder… could I do, could I be, should I give up, should I trade it in?    And I can’t possibly compare my life, comprised of the things I personally hold most important to me, to someone else’s who holds different things as most important to them.  Doing that can only create this unfair, unbalanced comparative in a false reality…painting myself as the one without or lacking…when, in truth, when I compare me to me, I am full and complete and accomplished in exactly who I want to be!

And what I’ve come to discover is, as mom’s…no matter who we are, we are always second guessing.  I met with a dear friend a couple weeks ago, who, from my perspective, has it all.  A fascinating career, loving husband, great house, and a super cute wee one. Talking with her helped me realize that us mom’s always wonder, is this the best way?  Am I doing it right?  Am I messing up and don’t even realize it?  Should I be doing something differently?  She told me she had recently read something that seemed to promote a style of parenting (of being a mom) that was the exact opposite of what she was doing and she was worried that her way was “wrong”.

But there’s that dangerous unbalanced comparative game again.  She was wondering if she’s doing it “wrong” because this other mom was making different choices than hers.  For my friend, when she really examined what was important to her, the answer became crystal clear also.  The choices she made for her own family and style of parenting perfectly suited the life she wanted to build and furthermore contributed to being the kind of mom she wanted to be for her lil one.  AWESOME.  Me too!  I know that if I added anything more to my busy life of boys right now…I would be tipping the scale into complete unmanageability and a tipped scalepossible extended stay at a mental care facility. 😉  I have all I want, all I can handle, all I want to balance….ALL of which is a great blessing to me and my life as a mom! (That, my friends, is knowing your right foot from you left!)

Galatians 6:4-5 Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others.  Assume your own responsibility.

I encourage you to ask yourself the same kinds of questions.  What is important to you, what kind of life do you want to build, what kind of mom do you want to be?  Once those are answered, the path to get there or the realization you’re already there, will become clear as crystal and the balancing act will seem less of an act…more of an action.

I am too busy to be any more busy than I already am!  So, I’m happy to hold off on the store, and the home renovating business, and the TV show, and the furniture line/paint line, and the bakery, and the inn, and the farm, and the garden, and the speaking engagements, and even the book for now. ;)…  I’ll keep the blog though!

Til’ next time, be blessed!
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Thank you so much for taking time to read!

 

Being A New Creation in An Old World

Have you ever had to go through the growing pains of establishing a new you in an old you place?  Its’ definitely a process of growth and adjustment, on your part as well as the people around you.  That’s where I find myself these days…

Good news!  One of my dearest and oldest friends just opened a restaurant in the town I grew up in, and has hired me as a server a few nights a week!  I told someone recently that, “its employment by friendship default…which is fine by me!” I first met Gina about 15 years ago at another restaurant here in RI where we both waited tables.  We became fast friends and when I got married in 2005, she was one of my bridesmaids.

Josh and I had been living in NC for just a year before we got married.  We moved back to RI for the summer before our October 1st wedding, using that time to work at  seasonal restaurants to help pay for the big day. Right after our honeymoon, we moved back to NC and stayed there for 9 more years.  We accomplished a ton while living down south.  We had 3 beautiful boys, we bought a house, Josh got a degree in mechanical engineering at NC State, we both experienced tremendous personal growth, and I became I Christ follower.File_000 (4)

Making the decision to follow Christ, naturally also came with some fundamental changes that altered and even replaced certain characteristics associated with the ‘old me’.  The way I think changed, my views on significant issues changed, the way I speak changed, the things I care about most changed, my activities changed…pretty much, every aspect of consequence in my life changed in one way or another.

So, moving back to RI has, in a way, placed me smack dab in front of the old me.  I get comments like, “Kate, what happened to you?  You used to, ______(fill in the blank).”  Or “Where’s the old Kate?”  Or “You seem so different.”  Sometimes I take it as a compliment and other times I know that I’m set apart from the crowd I used to belong to.

At times, I can see that ‘old Kate’.  She pops up in my brain and the thoughts she would have had are there and I could say the thing she would have said just to elicit laughs, or for attention, or to make someone else seem ‘less than’ while making myself seem better somehow.  I imagine it would be so easy to fall right back to the ‘old Kate’ and it wouldn’t feel weird, but sort of comfortable.   But, like I told Gina when she commented on how different I am now, “I’ve lived life both ways, and for me, this way is better.”

I’m not worried about reverting to the past,  but I am trying to figure out how to manage this ‘new Kate’ in an ‘old Kate’ world.  It doesn’t feel as easy as it did down south.  In NC, most of my friends were Christians; churches down there are like Dunkin’ Donuts up here…one on every corner! 😉 Its’ apparent there will be a process of allowing people a chance to get to know me as a new creation.

Maybe you can relate on some level?  Making a decision that sets you apart from a group you operate in is challenging.  It could be a decision to stop drinking when it seems everyone around you does.  Maybe the decision to get your finances under control, prohibits you from carrying on in the old budget frame of mind, while your inner circle makes it routine to meet out for meals or shopping together.  Or, are you the only Christian in your workplace and you’re trying to balance your faith in a place where no one else shares your beliefs? Or, have you decided to follow Christ, while family or friends don’t ?  Perhaps the ones closest to you have challenged your new way or even poked fun at it?  (I’ve been there!) It takes some decided effort and dedication to establish a new standard of living that’s drastically different than what you’re accustomed to.

In my case, deciding to walk with Christ is not just a Sunday, Easter, Christmas thing.  Most of my life I believed you get a little dose of God on Sunday and then go about your week and the two have nothing to do with one another.  How wrong I was! Choosing to follow Him, means every day, every minute, everywhere.  Right?  And Sunday is great for praise and worship but if you leave Him at the alter and don’t carry the principles and precepts with you as you operate daily life through the rest of the week, then you’re missing the point.  Those “be like Jesus” guidelines are not there to utilize on Sunday alone or to let hang in the ether, attached to the greater power without connecting it to your every day.  Those things can help you mange a ‘new you’ in an ‘old you’ world!

C.S. Lewis explained that, “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”  Reading some of what C.S. Lewis said about his relationship with God and his choice to become a Christian, helped me see that it isn’t always easy.  You’re not a Christian because you want an easy road…because you’re looking for a quick fix on happiness.  It is often times uncomfortable, unpopular, and unaccommodating…and falling short of the ultimate goal is a commonality.  We are Christian because we believe Jesus sacrificed his own life so that we can be closer to God, so that we can be one with Him, and that we will know Him in every moment of our life journey.

I have to let go of the notion that if I keep pressing on in my ‘new me’ fashion, the Christian road in the ‘old me’ world will be easier at some point.  It won’t.  But that’s a good thing.  I want to be noticed for being different than I was!

2 Corinthians 3:18

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit..”

That’s what I want to show, what I want people to see in me!  That with every passing minute, my desire to be more like Him is made real through the spirit that works within me… as one degree of glory is traded for another and another and another. Noticeably different…noticeably exemplifying the principles Jesus modeled.

So, being a new creation in an old world (for me as a Christian), may not always be easy or comfortable but its’ value is made clearer when I continually trade one level of grace for another as I grow and evolve.  When you come to the realization that life, for you, is better in this new way, there’s no turning back!

“For the spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Til’ next time, be blessed!
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I’m Starting To Take This Personally…

Ok.  Enough is enough.  “I’m starting to take this personally,” is what I said to my sister when she called to see if Josh and I decided where to celebrate my upcoming birthday (on Valentine’s Day).   “What?” She asked confused.  “What are you starting to take personally?”

“THAT I CAN’T SEEM TO MANAGE GETTING HIRED AS A SERVER ANYWHERE!”
This is probably the most embarrassing…most frustrating sentence I’ve ever had to say or to write and especially to post for the world to see! … and, I shouldn’t say “anywhere”, but at least all the places I’m choosing to apply.

I’ve been waiting tables for close to 20 years.  Never, ever, never have I had a problem finding a job.  The scenario goes like this:  I pick a restaurant I want to work at (preferably one that is busy with higher check averages), I walk into the chosen restaurant, I ask for an application, I sit down and fill out said application, I ask to speak to a manager when I’m finished, they usually interview me right then and there, and then hire me.  Easy peasy.  So, you can imagine my dismay and confusion when time after time, restaurant after restaurant, it doesn’t pan out!

“We’ll keep your application on file and give you a call when something comes up, “.  Translation: “We will stick this in a drawer or a file folder or the trash and never call you, ever.”

“Our hiring manager isn’t in right now, you should call back on ____ day and ask to speak with them.”  Translation: “You should call back, but when you do, the manager in question will be too busy to take your call and never call you back; regardless of how many times you call.”

“We’ll give you a call at the end of the week to set something up or to tell you if you got the job.”  Translation: “We will not being calling you at all, and we really hope you don’t call us or show up here again.”

What is happening??  I feel like I’m in the Twilight Zone!  I have experience, I’m well spoken, I can spiff up when I want to and peel out of my yoga pants ;),  I have a college education, I have fantastic references…what is the deal?!?!!?!

The only thing I can do at this point is keep trying and hopefully, something will come through eventually.  I have been extremely blessed that I’ve been able to stay home with the wee ones for the past year, getting us all settled in to our new life up north.  I had hoped on being settled in the red house before I started looking for a job, BUT, life doesn’t always go as planned.  The good thing is that while living with my mom, I have a pretty ready available sitter when need be!

So, life, you temperamental companion, you’ve thrown another curve ball!  Now my task is to see how I can use this to my benefit and also try to consider how God might be seeing the predicament as a means to bring me closer to Him.

We are, in this journey, all thrown curve balls from time to time.  The severity of the curve varies, for sure, but I believe it is essential to personal growth and success that we approach the wierd, heartbreaking, frustrating, hurtful, or confusing turns with the knowledge that each one has the capacity to turn broken into beautiful.  I try not to look at these obstacles as a force bringing me down or pushing me further from where I imagined I would be.  But it’s so easy to do this, isn’t it?  Because you feel the push, you feel the slide, you see your goal slipping further into the horizon.

The disappointment of my recent job search “failings” have definitely come with feelings of embarrassment, confidence loss, uncertainty, and inadequacies.  And because those are the natural thoughts and feelings that come from experiencing disappointment, it seems so right to hang on to them; making them a defining part of who I am.  UNTIL, I check those feelings and thoughts against the kind of life that God has planned for me.

Psalm 138:3 says, “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.”  He gives us a way to grow confident and gain strength, even when we thought those things were an impossibility!  When the drowning thoughts and feelings come washing in like the tide, threatening to pull me out to an endless sea of doubt, my prayers to God remind me that I am so loved and there is always a way to shore with Him.

And, of course, our family’s favorite verse…we’ve taken this verse as our personal marching orders.  Josh has this tattooed on his arm, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).  When things are down, stacked against me, and I feel like my strength is gone, I have to remind myself that there is an endless pouring out of strength I can rely on through Christ!  It is His wish for me that I push through the disappointment, pain, or struggle leading the a way to regaining a full life of purpose.

reserved

I am reserved for so much more!

I don’t know how I always manage to forget this life saving stuff!  Especially in the moment where it could do most good.  I think that’s why prayer is most helpful.  It encourages my mind to slow, and my heart to open, leading me to something better.  This blog has actually been an outlet, like prayer, where God has revealed so much to me through the words I write.

After a few attempts of gaining employment I said to Josh, “Don’t you think its’ because I’m getting old?  I walk in, try to get a job, and they’re like, ‘We can’t hire this aging, mom server!  We want someone young and spritely and free!'”  Then my loving husband said, “Well, you are pretty old.  But I doubt they say ‘spritely’.”  Then  my head whips around, with accusing lasers shooting from my eyes; quickly disarmed by that look he gives me when I’m talking crazy.  At least I can always count on him to let me know when I’m being irrational.

The point of this tale of woe, is to take the woe from the tale and replace with possibility! Tale of wonder, tale of promise, tale of potential!  When you believe the trying times are a means to an end of something better, of making you stronger, bringing you closer to Him, or preparing you for something yet to come, the sharp, unexpected turns in the road seem to straighten out some way or another.

Til’ next time, be blessed!
#D-Strong
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Valentine’s Day ~ You Can Buy Into It, Without Buying Into It $$$

It’s getting close!  Valentine’s Day!!  What to do?  What to buy?  How do I show the special someone in my life how much I care?  And you have to do it, everyone does! Its’ Valentine’s Day and even some who insist Valentine’s Day was invented by Hallmark, have to suck it up and participate because chances are, their spouse or significant other does not agree.  And, I don’t either, for the record.  But I do believe you can spend $0 in showing your love how much you love!  That’s right, you heard me, ZERO DOLLARS…or maybe just a few. 😉 (Sorry retail industry…but not sorry!)

Now, what is the deal with Valentine’s Day?  Why do we separate a day dedicated to love that gives Hallmark, and Walmart, and Target, and every other retail and hospitality giant the perfect opportunity to exploit one of the most basic of human needs; love and companionship?

I’m sure you know that Valentine’s Day was named in honor of St. Valentine who was martyred around A.D. 270.  There is some mystery wrapped around his story however.  One tale says,  that sometime during the third century in Rome, the Emperor outlawed marriage for young men since it was his opinion that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families.  St. Valentine, seeing this decree as unjust and a violation of a God given right, married young couples in secret.  Eventually, St. Valentine’s priestly duties were discovered by the Emperor and thus executed for his treason.  (That one is my favorite!)

The other story tells of Valentine working to help Christians escape the inhumane conditions of Roman prisons, where they were beaten and tortured for their faith. He was eventually imprisoned and put to death for his efforts.  However, while in prison,  it is said that he fell in love; possibly with the prison guard’s daughter.  Shortly before his death he wrote his sweetheart a farewell poem and signed the note, “From your Valentine.” (I actually like this one too!)

Both accounts are incredibly heroic and romantic, so it’s easy to see how the day loveycouplededicated to him is also dedicated to celebrating love.  In the 5th century, Pope Gelasius officially declared February 14th, St. Valentine’s Day in honor of his sacrifice.  It is believed that hand written notes or cards for Valentine’s Day started in the 1400’s, as the oldest Valentine’s Day love poem ever found is dated 1415.  From that time until the early 1900’s, Valentine’s Day was expressed with “small tokens” and hand written notes or letters.  In the 1900’s the advancements in printing gave way to printed and mass produced Valentine’s Day cards.

It seems pretty impossible…however true, that in a mere 100-ish years, Valentine’s Day has morphed from a day representing tenderness and care, expressed with a “small token” or “hand written card,” to a day drenched in consumerism and pressure and big money!  Those BIG retailers tell you through bombarding advertisements and commercials and store displays that in order to impress  or adequately show the depth of your love, you need to go to an unusual financial depth as well.  Financial depth = depth of love.  True?  Not a chance!  So I beg you, turn away from the trend of spending big bucks in an effort to show your love on Valentine’s Day!

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Photo by Amaree Davis (Picture Made Photography)

God says in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  This world tells us we need more, we want more stuff to be happy.  On Valentine’s Day, the world then tells us we need and want to give more stuff to make our loved ones happy!  If I’m asked to sit and really take inventory of the ways in which my husband can “make” me happy, its all about time and effort and consideration.  Nothing puts in me in a better mood than when Josh, without me asking, does the laundry or empties the dishwasher or decides to take the kids out for a boys outing!  For me, when Josh expresses his love through acts of service or spending quality time with me, that is where the the giving is perfect and good.

I think many of us, if we’re really honest, feel the same.  Would I want a new, shiny, fancy watch or would I want Josh to plan for us to get a coffee and go for a walk, just the two of us, and get some time alone to talk and to focus of each other? Personally, I would 100% prefer the second option!  No contest!  Now, full disclosure, I do love flowers and dark chocolate…which do cost some, and Josh could never go wrong with a heartfelt card, dark chocolate, and flowers!!  I really truly feel that spending any more than a modest amount of money on Valentine’s Day, almost cheapens the sentiment.  I would rather Josh put a tremendous amount of thought and effort in thinking and planning something that would really speak to me, as his wife.  Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.”  No day is more appropriate to take the good doctors vital advice than on Valentine’s Day.  Avoid focusing on the things and focus fully on your person!  What would speak to them in a meaningful way?

Here are some little to no cost ideas you can use on Valentine’s Day!

  • Leave a trail of Hershey kisses to _____. (you, flowers, candlelit dinner, music, etc.)
  • Heart shaped sticky notes on the mirror in the morning, each expressing a specific thing you love about your love. (I did this one for Josh a couple years ago!)
  • A handmade coupon book, filled with coupons your partner would for real use and appreciate!  (Josh did this for me a couple years ago and they included coupons like, a device/media free day, clean the kitchen, a 15 minute massage)
  • Time together, alone, to talk and to listen.  Even for a long walk.  (This one is HUGE if you have small children together!)
  • Some kind of lingering to-do list thing that your love would be blown away by getting done.  (For instance, Josh knew I wanted a kitchen banquet in our NC house…so he got it done for one Valentine’s gift.  I was floored and amazed and totally in love!! 😉  )
  • A love letter detailing your road together and the aspects and qualities you love most about your sweetheart.

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Anyway, I think you get the picture.  Be careful of the messages being sent from the world around us; the ones trying to convince you that you need to do more, give more, spend more to convince your significant other of your love for them.  Focus on the person, not the thing and it will be good and perfect.  Let me know how it goes!!

Til’ next time, be blessed! #DStrong
(Re-post this!!  I truly appreciate you reading!)

Killing Time vs. Spending Time

After I dropped Jaxon, my oldest, at school a couple days ago I had a dentist appointment.  (I know…we all spend more time at the dentist than anyone in the world I think!)  The appointment was scheduled for about an hour after Jax got to school.  What to do with that time?  I decided to go to a local coffee shop, Junk & Java in Westerly, to work on my book (that I’ve been writing for 597 years) and get a latte.   My mom kept the little two with her so I was completely alone…which doesn’t happen too often with three wee ones!

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As I approached this vacant hour, I saw it initially as an hour I had to waste.  Later on, I told my sister, I had an hour to “kill”.  This is an ongoing problem with me; the way in which I look at every precious moment we get here.  I consistently see time as something to pass until some other thing arrives that I’ve been waiting for…even  the dentist apparently!!  I routinely miss the opportunities in the present moment, since I’m too busy waiting for the next one.

I had a whole hour!  All to myself!!  How was I not seeing this as a complete gift and a perfect time to slow down, relax, and focus on…anything or nothing at all! It was an opportunity to actually live out, in practice that “small town vibe” I talk about so much.  I had some time to spend in exploration of our town a bit, check out a local establishment and mingle amongst people who live where I live…or will live, hopefully, eventually, someday. 😉 (Check out the little red house reno)  Retrospectively I did enjoy it.  It was calm and peaceful and relaxing.  The trick is to recognize these things as they arise, so I can see the magnitude in the moment.  Some might say, “So, you said you had an hour to ‘kill’, big deal, its just a word.”  But I couldn’t disagree more.  Words have weight.  They can strengthen or weaken any point of view, position, or intention.   And it is the specific words I use that reflect my specific emotions or focus.  If instead I said, I had an hour to ‘enjoy’ or even to ‘spend’, this would have indicated an entirely different frame of mind.  Enjoying or spending an hour assigns worth to that irreplaceable, invaluable time, as well as the activity, or even inactivity; which can be equally as important sometimes. 😉

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I’d like to start seeing the immeasurable value in every minute I have, as well as the substance held in each moment.  I think that starts with language.  “I have an hour to spend.”  Changing the words I use, changes my approach to life…which is really just a big accumulation of each precious tick of the clock.  It sounds like simple semantics, but its all about a changing heart; an adjustment in approach.  Matthew 12:37 says, “…for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  Also, Proverbs 18:21 says, “From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.”  These two passages exemplify the power in language.  The words we choose are the main, and sometimes only instrument we have in communicating the direct intention of our hearts.  They have the ability to convey or reveal (sometimes to ourselves) our outlook or perspective on all things; even something seemingly minor or so easily taken advantage of like our time.

Just like a word, this change is small, but can mean something big in my life. We’ll see!  I’m just going to try.  Maybe the act of speaking value into each moment will be the thing that helps me capture more of the beauty.  (As I catch a glimpse of my 2 year old, Braedon playing peek-a-boo with me from behind a table.  There it is.  True beauty in the moment.)peek-a-boo

Til’ next time, be blessed!

I Blame Joanna Gaines ;0)

It’s official!  I blame Joanna Gaines. (Insert sarcasm here) 😉

If y’all are a fan of Joanna and Chip Gaines’ show, Fixer Upper, like I am, then you know the magic that happens when they get their hands on a junky old mess of a house.  They basically turn every home they renovate into my dream home.  In the opening credits she says, “Do you have the guts to take on a fixer upper?”  And before the red house, I did, for sure.  It was an actual bucket list dream of mine; to get my hands on a neglected and forgotten old farmhouse and transform it into my own personal fixer upper dream home.

So, we did it.  We had the guts to take on our little red house fixer upper! Now the question is, “Do you have the guts to continue on with a fixer upper?”  We are 6 months into the project and there is STILL no end in sight!  All five of us have been crib crashing at my mom’s for just about a year now!!!  I know!  It’s mind boggling.  Josh and I were talking the other day about how hard it was to move the kids away from the only home they’ve ever known in Rolesville, NC and now we are looking at the same challenge; in the sense that we, at some point will have to move the kids, again, from this new home they’ve known for the past year!  We’re not sure what new emotional difficulties this will stir up in the kids, but we’ve recognized that they will be there in some form, so I think we’ll be more prepared for them when they show up.

The current financial/project payout deadline we have with buildPros and our lender is January 22nd.  Our estimated project deadline given to us by buildPros was in early October!  Although, it took our contractor that long just to apply for permits!  Josh and I have come to a point of complete desperation and disappointment.  We are ready to move on!  This probably means pushing back our move in date even further; but we can’t give this guy any more time, money, or benefit of the doubt.   Although, we’ve seen some work happening  since contacting our advocates, it is moving along at a snails pace.  They’ve never even put in one full day or full week of work!  After I drop Jaxon at school, I usually stop by the house, pick up our mail and hang around until 9:15 or so, to see if anyone shows up.  Never.  Not once, has anyone been working at our house before 9:30 (maybe later) or after 4 pm.  Also, some the recent work they’ve completed is not up to code and has to  be redone or adjusted.

The biggest visual change so far is thanks to Josh and my step-brother Justin!  Last weekend they took down the wall and chimney dividing the dining room and the kitchen.  It looks awesome and awful all at once!  The possibilities beam through the openness and at the same time, its got a looooong way to go.  Excitement and terror fight for attention when you see it in person!  There’s no turning back now.

Check it out!

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With every challenge life throws my way, I try to look at it through biblical eyes…try being the optimum word there.  I’m having trouble seeing God’s plan in all this, and trusting He’ll have a way to see us through.  I have to remind myself that even though God is there, it doesn’t mean mistakes can’t be made.  Wrong turns can be taken, but I can lean on Him for strength during and after the wrong turns and mistakes.  And, if we allow it, every mishap or misfortune in life can be used to make us stronger, wiser,  and equipped with more and more fortitude.  It’s the oh so familiar, “God, how, why, did you let this happen?”  Our money is running out, our time has run out long ago, and our family is displaced and frustrated.

 Yes, I know, this is not the absolute worst thing that can happen.  No one is sick or dying, we are not homeless or in a refugee camp.  I realize this is small potatoes on the scale of things that could happen or go wrong in a drastic, life changing way. I also realize we are incredibly blessed in every corner of this life we’ve built together. This acknowledgement, however, does not detract from the helplessness we are feeling.

So, back to the drawing board!  We are interviewing a new slew of contractors…hopefully honest, trustworthy, reliable, and competent people who care about their business, reputation, and the families they work for.   Is that asking too much?  If only I could get Chip and Joanna Gaines to take over!!  Is that asking too much?…probably on that one it is. 😉

Til’ next time, be blessed!