Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Lessons from Samuel

Today I was fed at church and while I was there I couldn't wait to come home and write a bit about what I kept chewing over in my mind...

My daughter, Shasta, was the one who got me involved in a Tuesday morning group at church. This next couple of years the women are reading through the Bible, Genesis to Revelation with a weekly guest teacher who shares on the previous week's reading. We've had some great teachers and wonderful handouts and I've been very impressed with how stories that I grew up learning... stories of Joseph... stories of Abraham... stories of Moses... have so many lessons to offer to us! I've really enjoyed hearing from the different speakers who have brought fresh insight. I think one thing I have valued is that I hear what they've dug into in the chapters and I know I've read it myself many times and I hear such new insight and connections that make me eager to get home and read the next week's chapters to see if I can come up with my own fresh insights!

After that first hour of listening, we break into smaller groups and share with each other... and it's so neat to meet lots of women who really truly care about living for God. They care about their personal growth and being genuine and becoming the best daughters of a living God that they can be. When my own mind wanders... when I feel led astray by some desire that isn't what God has for me... and I join up with these other women, I once again feel that tug in my heart and I commit once more to letting go of my self-centered wishes and take hold of the joy that comes when you know God has called you and you are following Him. When you know God has a plan for your life. When you pray with others and are filled with a fresh spirit.

Well, that's a long introduction to what I wanted to say... which is today's Bible lesson was on the first book of Samuel. I cannot overuse the word inspired here, trust me. Today's guest teacher did an amazing job with presenting the themes of this book and how they apply to each of the main characters... Hannah, Eli, Samuel, Saul and David. We took a close look at Hannah, the barren wife who longed for a baby and made a vow to God that if she was to bear a son that she would give him to the priests for a life's service. The "close look" was at how if Hannah had not spent all that time being barren... had she not hurt and longed for a child... had she conceived easily... she would not have made that vow. God's plans are simply amazing. One mom said that she could see herself making the vow, and not being able to give her child up later... I appreciate that honesty. I know how much I adored each child of mine and how crazy I am over my grandchildren... if I put myself in Hannah's place, I imagine how bitter-sweet seeing the baby's first tooth was... watching a baby learn to stand and take steps... my heart would be breaking with every monumental step. What Hannah gave was such a gift to us. Samuel was an incredible man. But what stood out to me was, if Hannah hadn't experienced such pain, she wouldn't have made the vow and she wouldn't have given us Samuel. The entire teaching was wonderful, but I am just sharing about that bit on Hannah because oftentimes I wonder why I have to experience such pain in life. And it does help to know that a Sovereign God has a plan for every heart break... every moment that hurt... I can trust my Sovereign God.

Then there was that other moment at the Bible study... that reached deep into my soul... a list of similarities between the lives of David and Jesus Christ. At first I glanced over the hand-out, remembering that we also had a list of similarities between the lives of Joseph and Jesus Christ. Then I wondered. What would the list look like... if it was my life being compared to Jesus Christ? Now, no, I realize I am not an amazing prophet or chosen one of Israel... but... seriously... go there a moment. When my life is finished, if someone who knew all about me... all the details of the years of my life... what would they write down in a list of similarities between me and my Savior, Jesus Christ? Well... of course I wasn't born in Bethlehem, am not of the line of Jesse or any other tribe of Israel... I am not a literal shepherd, priest or king, I have not had a King try to kill me, never entered Jerusalem, seen the Ark of the Covenant.... but, have I been chosen? Filled with God's Spirit? Ridiculed by my brothers? Have I gathered followers? Been tested? Humbled myself before God? And these things rushed through my head and I wanted more. I want more. I want to let go of self-centeredness and become a better follower.

When I was a little girl, my mom would say, "I'm not going to be here forever!" I don't know what prompted that phrase... if it was her wishing for grateful children or her desire to see us become more independent. I actually have imagined what my own children could write or say of me some day... and I've always hoped it would go something like, "When I was young my mom would say, "Some day I wont be here and I hope that you will look back and say of me 'My mom... no matter what happened, she kept going back to the Bible... she kept turning to God.'" I want a little more now, though. Yes, I want to be known as someone who kept turning to God, no matter what happened... but I don't want to just survive this life, I want to live it... fully... for God.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Weekends were made for this!!

I spent many, many years living far, far away from family. I knew several years back that one of the best things about moving closer to family would be weekends like this! My niece and her family arrived Friday mid-day. I am thankful that we have a trailer for them to feel comfy in... spent a bit of time freshening it up, washing bedding and pillows... and it was rewarding to hear them say, "Neat! We need a trailer!" and "Oh, cool! I get the top bunk!"

The young boys?? Wow! How I love their little childish voices!!! I just want to hug and squeeze and kiss them! Shasta, Chris and Jayden spent a lot of time over here with all of us because we are all family, you know! It was great. Family. I pause and let the feeling sink in and ponder what that means to me. It means acceptance... kindness... love... forgiveness... patience... and safety. Because the world is a tough place. The world is about competition and survival, but when you get "home" you arrive at a place where you are safe... you walk through the door and know that you can take in a deep breath and let it out and just be you...

Here are some of the scenes from around here:

Hope you are all having wonderful weekends! Blessings,

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The crafts never end...

I recently read someone's opinion on people doing crafts just to blog about something... It stopped me in my tracks for just a moment, but I had to laugh it off because I have been doing crafts since I was 6 (probably even a little younger). Over the years I have made many, many things. But, blogging just began in my life a couple of years ago... I like to blog because it helps me focus on what I have and it helps me appreciate the blessings in my life. Like this one:

messer 004

Now, besides blogging, I really do enjoy crafts. A couple of days ago I took some leftover material from making things for Jayden's nursery and made a wall hanging/bulletin board. I rarely (I mean it... rarely...) take pictures of things that I do in steps, but this day I did. I did that because I know how easy this is if you have a few things on hand and by sharing this others might make one up for someone, too. And it's way cheaper than what they are sold for in the stores.

I took two matching pieces of cardboard (you can make this any size!).

Then I hot glued down some leftover batting. I used minimal hot glue.

I flipped this over on top of the wrong side of a piece of material that was cut to be a couple inches larger on each side than the cardboard. I tried keeping the lines of my material straight and folded the material over to the back, hot gluing in place.

Next I took the second piece of cardboard and covered it with coordinating fabric, without batting.

Then I got excited about the next step and didn't take photos! I had a pattern for laying out the ribbon on top of the padded side of cardboard. I pinned the ribbon according to the lines on the pattern, then flipped it over and hot glued the ends on the opposite side. I think I could have eye-balled it myself, but I liked using the pattern since I had one...

I found a lonely key ring and hand stitched it to the top middle of the right side of the "back" (the other piece of cardboard covered in coordinating material).

Then I matched up the front and back with their wrong sides together and carefully hot glued them together...

The next time I am out and about, I might look for some jungle buttons to hot glue where the ribbon criss-crosses. Since this will hang on one of Jayden's walls without something under it where he can climb up to get to this, it should be safe... And I will put a couple of Jayden's jungle photos in it, too... like these...

Jungle2 100

Jungle2 092

Jungle2 064a

... even though he is older now...


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Nursery is Done!

When Shasta was pregnant and bored I picked up letters for her to paint and decorate for the nursery. We knew she was having a boy, so we picked up letters for "Jayden". I thought she might have fun doing this over the course of one week. She called me the next night, excited as can be, "I'm done! His name looks so cute! It turned out great!" And I said that I could not buy her a craft activity per day to keep away the boredom!!!

Shasta had her eye on giraffes for the baby, so we went with a jungle theme way back then.

Since he's been born we've brought on more monkeys than giraffes...

Jayden loves walking around his room with the ride on/stand up and push toy. He does stand all alone for long periods of time and has taken a couple of steps a few times, but, not real steady and that's okay because, well, he's only turning 9 months old! He should still be a baby!

I really enjoyed making the curtains for the room. The sewing instructions were not my favorite... it was a Butterick nursery pattern and I had to read the instructions over and over. But, you know what the problem was? Have you ever just known how to do something and tried to tell someone and break it down into simple steps? The curtains were totally easy to make. I could make them any time for any window now. It's just that writing down what you do gets complicated! I think I could have written easier instructions. Let me point out that the bottom has a small opening and a dowel rod slides in to hold the rectangular shape and you roll up the curtain towards the window to the length you want the curtain to hang down and then tie the ribbons. The dowel does a fantastic job! I do want to do another couple of things for the room... Most of the wall and decorative items came from Target's dollar section, so this was not an expensive nursery. While it's not on the level of "celebrity baby" nurseries and wasn't costly, I am SO excited for Jayden's room.

Now I am off to start my month of November... it's going to be quite a month!