Jackpot!

With the mega millions up to 540 million dollars, I find myself staggering and shaking my head at the prospect of it.  Talk about exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ask or think!  I certainly have not thought in terms that large.  With a take home of around 250 million, I still can’t really conceive what that means.  Of course I already have my plans of what to do for my family and friends, and I have a few ideas for business ventures I’ve always wanted to do: a clothing line, a spa, a gym.  But all in all, I think I would live modestly and shop a lot.  Perhaps opening a thrift store or several to arrange all of my treasures; vintage linens, distressed furniture, fancy antique mirrors, and fifties dishes; little figurines and funky junk.

I know, some would say, with that kind of money, you can buy the finest new housewares the world has to offer.  But some things just aren’t as sweet new.  So with crazy insane wealth, I will be able to do unbridled shopping and continue doing what I love: seeking out unique bargains from yesteryear.  Oh there will be plenty of places to keep my finds.  The spa will need to be furnished, as will my home, and if I buy a guesthouse for tourists to stay while they shop on Thrift Lane, I can fill it with antique beds, dressers, and benches.  And Main Street can have shop after shop of second-hand finds, vintage goodies, and Amish crafts.  After all, we will be in Amish country.

Recently I went to Tennessee to the Worlds Longest Yard Sale on Route 127. From Michigan to Alabama this weeklong event is a thrifter’s dream.  And now that I have been inspired, I can see an entire town devoted to thrift stores, antiques, and old treasures.  The businesses would pop up one after another all complimenting each other the way the wineries do.

People will come from all over to lodge in wine country, and shop second-hand, hitting the wineries and cafés for lunch, and in the shops, they will be served tea and offered a fun fancy hat to wear while they browse until dinner, when they can go over to the lake and enjoy the sunset on the porch of a seafood restaurant with an ice-cold beer. 

Yes.  Dreams are sweet, and dreaming is good.  And hey, you never know.

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Farewell to Fairport

A funny thing happened as I walked into downtown Fairport, with spring showing off all around me.  I saw the homes.  Not for the first time, but more for the last. We are leaving this town soon, to move to the country an hour or so away. And as I passed, I remembered why I liked Fairport so much to begin with.  The homes are darling. And suddenly I realized they are worthy of my camera as much as any of the old homes in Denmark. We have plent of charm and charecter right here in America. 

I just may have to plant some of these at the new place. Gorgeous!

Love the Italian Flag

Don’t you just want to sit in that chair and sip some iced tea?

Mother Nature is busy painting the town red! 

I love the color of this old barn! I’m afraid it may be too late for the repair job though. 

After a four mile walk, this bike was looking mighty tempting!

Gifts from my niece and a give away!

It’s so cool when the little kid nieces grow up and become women. One such greeted me  at my sister’s house with a huge hug, a beautiful smile and presents from Christmastime.  I was so moved that she thought of me, I just have to share her great taste and revel in her sweet thoughtfulness.  I keep this little gem in an old box I’ve had a while.

As if the worry dolls weren’t cool enough, she gave me this groovy scarf too.  How fun is that! I love unexpected presents! Now MY wheels are turning looking to give a perfect give to someone. Maybe a blog give-a-way contest is in order? 

OK faithful readers, after browsing around here, I don’t know what to give away.  A scarf (not my new one of course), or a dish, or mug or candle holder? Someone get the ball rolling with suggestions, and I will post something to give away! It will be a lottery, a drawing, a contest of some kind.  But it will be easy. Tell me what you want to win in the comment spot at the top of this post! Don’t be shy! I love comments!

Pondering the Beautiful

In a few weeks, we’ll be Denmark bound again.  I just spent some time being inspired by a blog http://shabbychicgirls.blogspot.it/ ————————–It got me wanting to share some of my favorites.  Pictures can be like travel, without the eight hour plane ride and airport security.  Hope you find some inspiration here. 

When you live in a charming little town as old as Roskilde, with cobblestone streets and Danes on foot or pedaling wherever they go,  you have reason to do your windows up  right. 

And Copenhagen..well we simply MUST….

Who Asked You?

Try changing the questions you ask yourself.   If you ask, “Why can’t I…?”  for example, the brain starts off to work finding answers to your question.  Instead, you ask, “How can I…?”  Instead of thinking, “What is wrong?”  Ask yourself,  “What is there to celebrate right now?”  The mind is a powerful thing.  It responds to your inquiries, and it doesn’t rest, even after you have stopped asking the question.  As you sleep the mind is still scanning all of your life experiences, all the information it has received  both consciously and unconsciously, looking for the answer to your question.  Do you really want the question to be, “What’s wrong with me?”  Do you want that highly efficient brain of yours to be tallying a list of answers while you sleep?  Be sure, it will!

Practice gratitude.  And practice good questions.  Instead of, “Why is she so difficult!” ask, “What do I love about her?”  See how it instantly changes your mood, your frustration.  Try asking some that maybe don’t feel quite true.  “Why do I feel so GOOD!?”  And see what the mind comes up with for your answers. 

A wonderful book on meditation likened the mind to an automobile, and the will to its driver.  If you got into a car and were headed for the grocery store and the car decided it would take you for a drive in the opposite direction,  you would not tolerate it.   Yet we allow our minds to wildly drive with no rhyme or reason, rarely interrupting and directing our thoughts to a more fruitful place.

                     What grace have you discovered today?  What questions are you asking?

Martha, Martha

Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things….

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Busy: running to and fro with things to do, places to go, people to see, frantic energy, motion, impatience, hurrying, rushing, tense, aggravated, tired, irritated, busy, busy, busy…hiding.

When we are not at rest, refreshed, calm, content, peaceful, blissful, and blessed, we are usually busy.  Busy has become the most righteous-looking way to avoid yourself and God.  I have always hated it when someone is busy.  If we are talking and they are answering the phone, yelling at the dog, trying to fix dinner, and generally displaying impatience, I tend to think it’s a bad time.  And I feel less than acknowledged and appreciated.  People who spout off how they don’t have TIME for anything are actually saying they have arranged their priorities in such a way that there is no room on the list; a little like no room at the inn.  Sorry Jesus, you will have to be born with the livestock. We have our priorities after all.

Oh, God can stop them from their busyness.  He can allow them to stir themselves into such frenzy that they snap, and then meet with them in the hospital with some Haldol.  Or that pesky back that gives out every so often can be tweaked just a bit landing a busy person on the couch for several days.  But it’s better if they would learn to hate busy as much as God does.  It is a sure sign of having priorities all mixed up, and I can prove it:  Give some thought to times in your life when you felt especially loved, when life was refreshing and precious, where time stopped and your heart melted. Was it a busy time?

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There is nowhere to hide from the secret self loathing.  We just keep piling on things to do and things to think about so we don’t have to face  our certainty that we are not good enough, not doing enough, that we are not enough.  We hide from our sins and run from our iniquities.  This is the brilliant scheme of Satan.  Keeping us forever on a treadmill of busyness all the while looking more and more righteous.  After all, look how busy we are!  Look at all we DO!  Look at all that is on our plate.

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But we know it’s a lie.  We know because we cannot sit still.  We cannot be alone;  we cannot enjoy peace,  because we can find no peace.  But let me lift the curtain on the liar and show you the fallacy of his bull.  When we finally get alone, and get with our Lord, we hear things like:

  “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered” or  “Money paid to workers isn’t a gift. It is something they earn by working. But you cannot make God accept you because of something you do. God accepts sinners only because they have faith in him.”  Romans 4:4

“The Gospel is not a call to repentance, or to amendment of our ways, to make restitution for past sins, or to promise to do better in the future. These things are proper in their place, but they do not constitute the Gospel; for the Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed, it is good news to be believed. Do not make the mistake then of thinking that the Gospel is a call to duty or a call to reformation, a call to better your condition, to behave yourself in a more perfect way than you have been doing in the past …

Nor is the Gospel a demand that you give up the world, that you give up your sins, that you break off bad habits, and try to cultivate good ones. You may do all these things, and yet never believe the Gospel and consequently never be saved at all.”

 Dr. Harry Ironside

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Over and over we have to reacquaint ourselves with Christ, his work on the cross, and our complete renewal and justification.  We are saved by faith.  And even that is a gift that we did not earn. How beautiful to be able to live and move and have our being;  knowing and believing that we are a friend of God, his very own beautiful creation.  If you have loved a child of yours and gazed on them until your heart ached with the fullness of that love,  you have felt one tiny drop in the ocean of love that God has for you.  And you are complete in Him, perfectly and exactly the way you are found this very day or on your worst day or any day.
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 So slow down. Stop. Rest and receive what you need, Martha.  Mary has chosen the one thing that is needful, and it will not be taken from her.  You would do well to do the same.

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Kari Jobe Fever (The Beauty of Heartbreak)

“Steady My Heart”

Wish it could be easy
Why is life so messy
Why is pain a part of us
There are days I feel like
Nothing ever goes right
Sometimes it just hurts so much
But You’re here
You’re real
I know I can trust You
Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart [x2]

I’m not gonna worry
I know that You got me
Right inside the palm of your hand
Each and every moment
What’s good and what gets broken
Happens just the way that You plan

And I will run to You
You’re my refuge in Your arms
And I will sing to You
Cause of everything You are

You steady my heart [x2]

This sweet little song has a story. A friend was praying and fasting and this song was her mantra for four days.  So she posted it to Facebook, where my daughter played it, loved it, and began playing it over and over as well.  I listened to it, but found her voice a bit too er..desperate? Whiney?  But I still thought it was sweet.  
Then it happened: the buildup of feeling “off” for a few days culminating in a time of prayer.  For me, this means a hot bath and some worship music.  I felt the guarded stance vanishing  almost immediately.   Refreshed,  I felt I should hear that little Kari Jobe song once more.   And this time the tears burst forth. Wow. What a beautiful song (see link “Kari Jobe”).
I spend a lot of time trying to celebrate the good in my life. I try to keep my heart focused on happy thoughts, and never give in to despair, or discouragement.  But the most beautiful revelation came to me as I listened to this song,  blubbering  all the while.  It is the pain as well as the joy that we are to rejoice in!   At times I fear that the pain will overwhelm and cause me to doubt myself and my God, and certainly my ability to hear and follow God!  But once again I was reminded that the stuff that hurts is not all bad.  In fact, sometimes it is a sign that things are moving along just right, as with childbirth. 
Once again, the contrast that is life.  Events of the past year and a half have been so completely wonderful and utterly painful that I have had a death grip on the handle of the roller coaster.  But when has following your heart been easy?  I think back to joining the military, basic training, choosing to work on the cancer ward when I could have picked any ward in the hospital,  jumping out of an airplane,  giving birth again and again, unschooling, and all sorts of life lived, half of which is painful.  So cry your tears, and feel your pain, and let it do you good to know that …
“Each and every moment
       What’s good and what gets broken 
           Happens just the way that you plan”
     

Documenting Life

 Feeling compelled to grab the camera and record events as nasty as this one has me wondering: why do we want to take pictures?  Why do we need a record of everything?   Is it due to the transient nature of life? The fast moving planet we are on?

 

 Life is a roller coaster we did not ask to ride.  It is all at once terrifying and exhilarating; painful and hysterical.  Only one thing is certain; there is no getting off until it is over, and no one knows just when it will stop. With time flying by like a comet, is it any wonder we frail humans want to record and capture bits of our lives?  We try to freeze moments, and stop the passage of time.  We sit and browse images pretending to suspend time, hoping to savor and keep that which we love. 


 Then there are the lost loves who have moved on ahead of us, whom we never see or hold again except in our memory; photos of them take us to another time, when they were here, and we could see and touch and smell them.  Now we rely on our minds to quiet down and be still enough to remember their voice, their laugh, and their expressions.

 

Life seems like it is always taking something away from you.  But that doesn’t last either.  There are always reunions, reconciliations, and restoration.  What you lose, you get back, and then some.  Like the rhythm of breathing: emptying and filling, inhaling and exhaling, expanding and contracting; so is our time here with our loved ones.  May we let go and accept that all is well, everything is in tact, and we are one.

Easter is coming.  What better time to celebrate the perfect order of all things than the triumphant resurrection of a human being, not unlike us, who was beaten to a pulp, and crucified and mocked, torn from all who loved him, and buried in the ground in what seemed like utter defeat and failure, devastating the hearts of all who hoped in him.

But the man arose! And lived, and still lives, saying, “Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world.” 

It’s as if he showed us that the rollercoaster we ride without our consent; the one we are strapped into and trapped on from the moment we take our first breath, is perfectly harmless.  We will be fine.  And we are fine. 

Soap Bandits – Cold Processing

   This past weekend I joined my sister  and a couple of her  friends for a new twist on a very old method of making soap.   We have created several batches of soap using the stove top method of melting oils and allowing them to cool  while waiting for the lye water to cool also until both the fats and the lye water are 100 degrees and then combining them.  This method requires lots and lots of stirring with a wooden spoon and waiting for the mysterious “tracings” to occur.  It is an excellent method for the beginner, as you do learn lots of tricks and gain experience from this slower process.  However, we were getting antsy to try some bulk soap and found instructions for cold processing: combine fats and oils together in a big bucket, and add your very hot lye water to melt the fats.  Blend with an electric mixer and  va voom!  Done.  Her friends had never made soap before, so we two were the experienced  of the bunch. We found a lye calculator online (see link) and plugged in the ingredients we had: lard, coconut oil, olive oil, castor oil, tea tree oil, cocoa butter, beeswax, and various other things.  We played around with recipes, and got to work measuring all the fats and oils.

Next up:  Mixing the lye and water.  This is the scary dangerous part. That’s why I get to do it!  It can burn your eyes and nose and of course your skin (anyone seen Fight Club?).  Use caution.  This lye is labeled as a household drain opener.  Don’t go out and buy drain opener for soap making unless it’s 100 percent LYE.  Not all drain openers are the same.  This is the first time we have used a power drill and a mixing attachment to blend the soap.  We discovered the deeper five gallon buckets work best.  Sometimes tracings were seen very quickly.   In one batch we saw them even before all the solids were melted.  In another, we blended and blended and wondered if we saw any!   Just before pouring into molds, we scented our soaps with essential oils, added herbs, coloring, sand, or whatever else we wanted to try. This particular batch is colored with paprika and scented with myrrh and other oils that gave it a earthy cologne smell.  We called it Mansoap.  This batch had great tracings.  If you look carefully, you can see them on the big block mold.   Brother-in-Law was kind enough to make a few wooden molds for us.  These make beautiful big bars like you see at craft fairs. This was our first time  with the large molds. The anticipation was killing us!  But it only takes 24 hours for the soap to set up enough to cut it into bars for curing.  My sister and I did this the night before so our newbys could see what the finished product would be.  They came the next day, and we worked on several batches and combinations until we had poured about 40 pounds of soap into molds. By the end of it all, we were very excited to see what the block from the previous night looked like.   We had a bit of trouble getting our block soap out.  But after lots of pulling and fussing, we finally loosened the sides with a screwdriver, and it popped right out.   Cutting the soap was like cutting into a gorgeous wedding cake.  We were ooing and ahhing and so impressed with the finished product!   These soaps will sit for 3 weeks or so to harden more and cure.  They are ready when you take a bar and wash your hands and feel no bit of stinging. They are still a little caustic for the cutting, so gloves should be worn (even though we didn’t).  And here are some highlights from the afternoon. 

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