Thursday, February 26, 2015

It Doesn't Have to be Perfect to Be Beautiful

I don't spend a lot of time surfing the internet looking for blogs to read.  I don't have a lot of time to read blogs.  Which is sad, because I LOVE to read blogs.  I love reading about other people's lives, and lifestyles, and children, and cooking and faith.  I read blogs that make me laugh, blogs that make me cry, blogs that open up my eyes to a much bigger world than my life here in Central Missouri.  I try to focus my time reading YOUR blogs . .  the blogs of the friends who read my blogs!! 

But recently, I came across a blog written by The Nester.  Click HERE to check out her blog.  If you aren't reading this blog, you really should take a little time to visit.  It isn't your typical fix-up-your-house blog.  I mean, yes, there is a lot of fixing up a house, but the blog is more about the ATTITUDE toward your house and a little LESS on the actual do it yourself stuff.

Myquillyn (yes, that is her real name) and her husband, like me and my husband, have lived in a LOT of different houses.  When we bought the farm where we live now, it was the 13th place we had lived . . . and we had been married 12 years.  YIKES!!!!  Most of the houses we had lived in were purchased as investments.  Meaning, we didn't drive around and pick out the prettiest house in our price range.  We looked for houses we could buy, fix up, live in, and then sell for a nice profit.  Some of those 13 houses have been rentals, and we've lived in a couple of apartments.  One of those 13 houses was a brand new house we built, intending to stay there for a long time.  In reality, we lived there for only 5 months before putting it on the market and the day we sold that house was the happiest day of our lives (another story for another blog post!) but I can tell you that building that house was one of THE BIGGEST MISTAKES WE EVER MADE.

If you've read my blog for very long, you know that I live in a 1968 ranch style house in the middle of a real working farm.  Some of you may think that living on a farm is "romantic."  I hate to bust your bubble, but there is NOTHING romantic about it.  I drive down our driveway every morning and night going to and from work, and cow manure slings from the tires all over my car.  It is either MUDDY or DUSTY 99% of the time.  In the summertime the FLIES ARE ATROCIOUS.  We hardly EVER have our windows open because of the overwhelming aroma of turkey manure.  I'm not complaining (well, kinda) just giving you a glimpse of what living on our farm really means.  I guess if you lived in the "country" versus living on a "real farm" it could be romantic.  But I live on a real farm surrounded by cows and turkeys.

I did not pick the house we live in.  It just happened to be the house that went with the farm, and my husband wanted the farm, so we moved into the house.  Being totally honest, it is not a house I would ever have picked.  It is very plain, ugly brick, small closets with bi-fold louvered doors.  No master bathroom.  Small kitchen, no island.  Small bathrooms.  Small bedrooms.  Flat 8' ceilings.  Just not the kind of house that really has anything at all going for it architecturally.  In the past seventeen years we have done some work to it.  Some of the work has been posted here on the blog.  Click HERE to check out our bathroom remodel.  And HERE to take a peek at our fireplace remodel.  We put in new kitchen cabinets several years ago, before I started this little blog, and THAT has made the biggest difference.  Wish I could show you the "before" and "after" on that.  Those plywood cabinets were YUCK!!!  I hate to sound ungrateful, but I'm just keepin' it real here. 

I said all of that, to say this . . . I have spent a LOT of time not liking my house.  I'm not proud of that.  But it is true.  I've spent a lot of years just "biding my time" in this house, waiting until I can build a new house.  Yes, I want to build a new house.  I want to get AWAY from the flies, and the mud and the dust and the manure and the smell of turkeys. Sorry, but I do.  Will we ever build a new house?? I don't know.  I can talk myself into it, and out of it, in the very same conversation.  I guess time will tell.  But I have really been trying lately to appreciate the house I have, and trying to make the best of it for however long we live here.  And that brings me all the way back to the title of this blog post "It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful" which is actually the title of the book written by The Nester.

I ordered the book from Ebay last week and it was in my mailbox when I got home last night.  I read it last night.  I READ THE WHOLE DANG BOOK LAST NIGHT!!  Now, don't go crazy on me, the book has a LOT of pictures.  It is a very easy read.  AND MAN IS IT INSPIRING!!!  Myquillyn, like myself, had spent a lot of years waiting for THE PERFECT HOUSE.  I used to think "if my house just had tall ceilings THEN I could fix it up."  "If my house had walk-in closets THEN I could really be organized."  "If I just had an island in my kitchen, THEN I could enjoy doing more entertaining."


This book really helps me to see that my house, like my life, is WHAT I MAKE IT RIGHT NOW!!!  I've spent years not buying new clothes, waiting to get down to that perfect size.  The result of that attitude is that my closet is pretty much BARE because I am not down to that perfect size yet (although I'm really proud to say I've lost 21 pounds since last fall . . . 10 more pounds to go!).  And I've NOT done things to my house because I kept telling myself "just wait until you build a new house and THEN you can have everything beautiful."   Really??  Is that how we're supposed to live our lives . . . waiting until everything is PERFECT?  Because truly I don't think ANYBODY's life is perfect.  Yes, I read blogs where it LOOKS like everything is perfect.  But I'm pretty sure that if I could be a little "fly on the wall" (as my mother used to say) that those folks don't have a perfect life either.  Yes, their house may be bigger than mine, or have taller ceilings than mine, or have newer furniture than mine, but it ain't perfect, no matter how many beautiful pictures they post.

This is NOT a paid advertisement.  Myquillyn, The Nester, has NEVER HEARD OF ME.  I ordered the book from Ebay ($12.04, free shipping).  I'm just sharing this with you because the book has really inspired me, and I'm hoping it inspires you.  Maybe you don't need inspiration.  Maybe you haven't spent years waiting for _________________ ("insert your excuse") to happen before you make your house the best it can be.  But I can tell you that I sure have.  And this book is NOT all about spending a fortune decorating your house.  Quite the opposite.  It encourages re-purposing things you already have, shopping flea markets and antique shops.  But it encouraged me to be BOLD about decorating and making my house a priority.  It's NOT about creating a show place.  It's about making a beautiful, comfortable, inviting home that you and your family enjoy being in, and that others enjoy being in too.  And doing it frugally.

Do yourself a favor . . . ORDER THE BOOK!!!!  

And I do want to thank each of you for your prayers for our family.  Yes, we miss Gram Nell terribly, but we are at peace knowing she is in heaven.  Thank you thank you thank you for praying! 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Gram Nell (1913-2015)

Yesterday I attended the visitation and funeral of my Grandmother.  She passed away on Saturday.  She was 101 years old.

My Gram Nell was an amazing woman.  She had an 8th grade education, and married my Grandpa in January of 1935 at the age of 21.  She had three children.  My Grandpa passed away in 1958 at the age of 47.  My dad was still in high school.  She never remarried.  She worked in the deli of a local supermarket until she retired.

My Gram Nell was never a touchy-feely kind of grandma.  She was very plain spoken.  She loved her children and her 10 grandchildren and her 19 great- grandchildren and 3 great-great grandchildren.  I could tell stories about my Gram Nell for hours.

I spent a lot of time with my Gram Nell when I was a kid, and into adulthood.  I have spent a lot of time with her these last few weeks at the nursing home.  She hasn't know me for nearly two years.  But that's O.K.  I still knew her.

This past Thursday evening and Friday evening I went to the nursing home after work and spent an hour or so with her each night.  She never acknowledged that I was there.  She was very restless.  And by Friday evening when I was there, her breathing was very shallow, very rapid.  I knew her time was short.  She passed away just after midnight Friday evening.

My heart is broken.  You are never ready to let go of someone that you love the way I loved Gram Nell.  I loved her so very much and I know she loved me.  

My Gram Nell is in heaven.  Not because she was a good person.  Not because she attended church faithfully.  My Gram Nell is in heaven because she confessed her sins to Jesus and asked Him to be the Lord of her life many, many years ago.  Back a couple of years ago, before her mind left her, she talked frequently about the "better home on the other side" she had waiting for her, and praying and asking Jesus to "take her home."  I told her many times that I guessed God just wasn't ready for her yet, and He wasn't ready for her then.

He was ready for her early Saturday morning, and He took her home.

She lived a wonderful, wonderful life.  The funeral home was full on a bitterly cold Monday morning for a 101 year old woman who had outlived both of her parents, her husband, and all 10 of her siblings.  A testament to a life well lived.  A testament to all those she loved, and who loved her.

I will miss her.  I will never forget her.  And one day, when Jesus is ready for me, I know that I know that I know, that I will see her again.  What a day that will be.

I took this picture of my hand and her hand just a couple of weeks ago.  Today, that hand is raised high before the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords in heaven.  She has heard the angels sing Holy Holy Holy.  

I am so thankful that my Gram Nell knew Jesus.  I am thankful that today there is no more suffering for her.  I am thankful that she is with Jesus.  I am thankful that she is waiting there for me. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

We Deceive Ourselves

Last night on my way home I was listening to a sermon on the radio. The Pastor spoke these words and I can't get them off of my mind:

"It seems these days that we are CHALLENGED but not CHANGED.  We are CONVICTED but not CONVERTED.  We are HEARERS of the Word and not DOERS, and we DECEIVE OURSELVES."

This concerns me greatly.  You can be challenged by anything.  You can be challenged to jump into cold water as part of a fundraiser (hello, I've done this).  But a CHALLENGE to our Spirit without a CHANGE is useless.  We can be challenged to lose weight.  But if we don't do the day to day things that are necessary to lose weight (eat less, exercise, etc), then nothing happens.  No weight is lost.  If we are challenged to read our Bible more, but by the third day we can't remember where we put our Bible, there's been no change.  We can wear a big cross necklace, and have a "Jesus Saves" bumper sticker on our car, and greet everybody with "Praise the Lord" but if we aren't living lives that line up with Scripture, then we are phonies and are no good at all to the Kingdom of God. 
God desires our faithfulness.

We can be convicted, but if the conviction isn't followed by conversion, well, that's called GUILT.  We can feel guilty about an awful lot of things, but if we don't correct the behavior, we have accomplished nothing.  God calls us to REPENT, not just "feel bad" about our behavior.  Disobedience to God is sin.  God won't forgive our guilty feelings if we don't repent.  Repent means to turn away.  So repeatedly sinning, and feeling really bad about it, but continuing to sin is not conversion.  God forgives ONLY when we repent.  Not when we feel guilty.

And when we just feel challenged, but don't change, when we feel convicted, but we aren't converted, WE ARE DECEIVING OURSELVES.

The Bible says in Matthew 7:22-23:

Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

I don't know about you, but that is a scary statement.

Today I am praying for God to change me.  To bring my Spirit into complete obedience to His plan for my life.  I am asking Him to convict me of anything in my life that isn't of Him, and I am asking him to forgive me.  I want my life to bring glory and honor to Him.  I want my eyes to be opened to His perfect will.  And I want to follow Him.  I don't want to disappoint Him.

I want to be a Soul On Fire.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Something in White

This weekend I bought a dress.

The dress is white.

It is not in my size.

It is in my daughter's size.

This weekend I bought a wedding dress for my daughter.
I wish I could show you a picture of it . . . but, I'm sure you understand, no pictures of the dress before the wedding!!

Have you done that yet?  Have you bought a wedding dress for your daughter?

If you haven't, I can tell you that it is amazing.  

The pride and love you feel in seeing your daughter in a beautiful white wedding dress . . . let me tell you what.  It is a gift from God.

Our beautiful daughter, Alex, is engaged  to a handsome young man who is serving our country as a United States Marine.

They will be married this summer and she will move to Norfolk, Virginia, where he is stationed. He will have about two years of service left when they get married.

She has already applied to two colleges in Norfolk, and will begin college classes there in August.

I must admit that the thought of her moving away from me is hard.  Very. Hard.  

But I have prayed over my children daily since before they were born, and I am trusting God's plan for both their lives.

Please pray for both of my children as they will both be married this year.

And please pray for ME as our children are getting married 7 weeks apart.  Wow.

My cup runneth over.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Prayers For My Grandma Nellie

My Gram Nell was 101 years old on December 11th.  She has been in the nursing home for a few years now and hasn't known me for about a year and a half.

This is a picture I took of her and I this past December on her 101st birthday.  Isn't she is beautiful.

I still go see her, but as the time has gone by there's really not much conversation that goes on between us.  She is very confused.  Doesn't know who I am.  Always asks me if my parents are alive.  And trying to explain to her that my dad is her son, well, she doesn't understand.  She doesn't know me, but I know her.  And so I keep going to visit her.  Maybe more for me than for her. 

Physically she has deteriorated rapidly these last few weeks.  And this morning the nursing home has called in hospice.

I would ask for your prayers today.  Prayers for my Gram Nell, and prayers for our family.  Because even at 101 years old, you are never ready to say goodbye to your mother or your grandmother.

My Grandma Nell is a Christian.  And by that I don't just mean she believes in God.  She loves Jesus.  The very last conversation I had with her while she still knew me she talked about the "better home" she had waiting for her.  And wanting to "go see Jesus."  

That my friends is blessed assurance.  Today I am praying for whatever time she has left on this earth to be filled with peace.  I am asking Jesus to take her home in His loving arms at His appointed time.  And I am trusting Him to keep her until we all meet again in heaven.  What a day that will be.


Monday, February 2, 2015

A Dusting

Winter returned yesterday afternoon.  We had rain most of the day, then the temperature dropped, the wind picked up, and we had a dusting of snow.

This is what it looked like at my house this morning.


The sunrise was beautiful.  Long shadows across the field.

Even though it is wintertime, and cold, there is still beauty.

God is so good.