Posts Tagged ‘A-to-Z-Challenge’

N is for New

An easy post for me… but an important one.  I love this song… and it is especially appropriate to post it this Easter weekend.

Lyrics:

Come broken and weary
Come battered and bruised
My Jesus makes all things new
All things new

Come lost and abandoned
Come blown by the wind
He’ll bring you back home again
Home again

Rise up, O you sleeper, awake
The light of the dawn is upon you
Rise up, O you sleeper, awake
He makes all things new
All things new

Come burning with shame
Come frozen with guilt
My Jesus, he loves you still
Loves you still

Rise up, O you sleeper, awake
The light of the dawn is upon you
Rise up, O you sleeper, awake
He makes all things new
He makes all things new

The world was good
The world is fallen
The world will be redeemed

So hold on to the promise
The stories are true
That Jesus makes all things new
(The dawn is upon you)

Words by Andrew Peterson

M is for Menu Planning

I started planning weekly menus just over a year ago, about when I started this blog.  It has been SUCH a good decision for our family.  I have managed to gather together a collection of recipes that we love and a few easy recipes for those tough days.  I rarely spend the afternoons wondering what is for dinner that night.  I save money by stocking up on items that we often use when they are on sale, and we (generally) eat more nutritiously.

You can find menu plans for most of last year on this blog… and menu plans from January on at my other blog — Melody’s Menus.  It hasn’t been updated in the past few weeks either… but it still has some recipes that we love on it.  I’ve been a little burned out on menu planning lately… but I am excited that May 1 marks the opening of the Farmer’s Market here.  I can’t wait for summer produce and meals where supper is just whatever meat we found at a good price and lots of fresh vegetables!  (And I am even happier that I can look back and see what recipes I used last summer and make them again!)

L is for the Little Things… #137-#150

I’ve spent too much time lately getting upset over the little things. I’m dealing with some big decisions and big stressors… but it is the little things piled on top of that that seem to cause my mood to spiral downward.

Here’s a song that speaks to that feeling. I did not like it when it first came out… now I love it! (Plus it is hilarious to hear my 5 year old belting out, “Call me please, ’cause I can’t find my phone!” from the backseat.

Fortunately… I have learned that it is the little things that can pick my mood back up just as quickly. That is one of the reasons I am so glad to have started writing down 1000 Gifts!


This week’s gifts include:

#137 Green after the rain… is it just me, or do the grass and trees look even more brilliantly green after a rainstorm?
#138 Clouds
#139 The tunnel of green on a road near my house… the trees almost completely cover the sky above and it is just gorgeous to drive through. So often I wish I could stop in the middle of the road and take a picture… but since it is on a winding two lane road that is probably not a good idea!
#140 Relaxing at the park for a few minutes ALONE… which went a long way towards disappating the horrible mood I was in at the time.
#141 Watching my little boy’s excitement the night before Easter — he was literally jumping up and down when we set out decorated eggs and a basket in anticipation of the Bunny’s arrival
#142 An unexpected invitation to a friend’s house for an Easter egg hunt… watching Andrew have a blast with some friends and getting some chat time with the adults
#143 Encouragement at a time I was discouraged over a lack of progress
#144 Getting treated to wonderful service by a waitress when we were eating out tonight… she was incredibly sweet (and I have to admit that bad customer service is usually one of those “little things” that really gets to me… and it is all too common here!)
#145 Yummy homemade pretzels
#146 Daisies and roses blooming in my back yard
#147 A floor swept clean
#148 Warm clothes fresh from the dryer
#149 Wireless internet access
#150 Being able to celebrate Easter and a risen Christ!

What little and not so little things are you thankful for this week?

K is for Kneel

Last night my little boy shocked my husband by announcing that Easter was more fun than Christmas.  🙂  (Christmas is a big deal at our house, and we love all of the traditions around it).   When asked why, he listed all of the “fun activities” about Easter.  The last few years we have spent Sunday morning attending a sunrise service near our house and watching that church’s teens put on a short play about Jesus’ death and resurrection.  Andrew loves it (and admittedly doesn’t have much experience with Nativity plays at Christmas).  For him, Easter means jellybeans (and one year an activity that incorporated jelly beans into Lent… which we didn’t do this year), egg hunts on beautiful spring days, and worship.

His comment got me thinking… I didn’t really grow up celebrating the religious aspects of Christmas OR Easter.  I’ve grown to love that side of both of them.  Easter is my favorite as well.  The message of Christmas is hope and God entering the world… and that is amazing.  But the message of Easter is that what began on Christmas has been completed.  Sin has been defeated, creation is being renewed, God’s redeeming work is finished (and yet somehow still working today).  Easter is a time of praise and rejoicing and happiness.

Easter is even more special because it is preceded by days of waiting… by the celebration of Good Friday… by commemorating the silence that was Saturday.  Last night we attended a Good Friday service.  We reflected on what the cross meant.  We reflected on Jesus’ name and his work.  He honored his taking on of sins even yet to come.  We knelt down (admittedly, that was figuratively and not literally) in honor of his sacrifice… and can’t wait to stand up in praise as we celebrate his resurrection on Sunday.

H is for Homeschooling

If you had asked me 5 years ago if I would ever contemplate home schooling my kids, I would say it had never crossed my mind.  At the time, being able to stay at home at least part time was a wish I thought was likely to never come true… but even if it did, I assumed kindergarten would mean heading to the public schools wherever we were (which wasn’t planned as where we still are!)   Three years ago, I lost the job that I thought was necessary to our family income .  Somehow (and I’m really not sure how!) we’ve made life work since then with some part-time, sporadic work for me.  It comes with sacrifices… like having a car that hasn’t worked for too many months now… but we haven’t wanted for necessities.  Somewhere along the way, I realized how grateful I am that I’ve been the one around to catch all of the adorable-isms that have characterized the preschool years.  They make the times of feeling isolated (because I will apparently never be like the other SAHMs) or overwhelmed worth it all.

The other thing that I thought I would never say is that I am grateful that my son had the chance to be in an in-home daycare for a few years, with kids ranging in age from infants to 5 (though I still don’t think those babies got the best care — at that facility, not all daycares — and I am so glad he was 1 before he had to go there!) I love that he had the chance to be around other kids and older kids to get some introduction to sharing, playing together, letters and numbers.  Looking back, I prefer that to the typical kids of the same age preschool set-up.  When he was finally home full-time at age 3 1/2, preschool or even a PDO was not an option.  We started doing “life school” at home… nothing formal at ALL, but just showing that all of life is learning — pointing out letters on the highway, reading tons of books, getting toys that were fun but also allowed for creativity.  And I started to realize how much I love watching him learn and don’t want to see him lose the love he has for learning.

Add that to some doubts about our neighborhood school, some doubts about public school in general, and having a child who is very asynchronous in development so far — past the end of the year kindergarten curriculum in some areas, right on target in others, and probably behind on some gross motor skills — and that leads to being fairly sure we will be homeschooling in the fall… though I will admit that decision is changing frequently right now.  I guess I should say we will be officially homeschooling… because I have come to realize that I’ve been doing it all along without labeling it as such.  I’m sure in the fall we will get more formal about it, but for now he loves to “play school” on the days we do more formal learning and learns just as much on the days we play or visit the zoo or something similar.  The huge task at hand right now is finding some groups to get support and friends from, and trying to have faith that it will all work out somehow.

This morning we had fun testing out an online program I’m thinking about for reading/phonics, playing go fish with sight words and counting/graphing with jelly beans! 🙂  Taking a break for lunchtime… then headed to the store to pick up a few groceries and the library to pick up some books on hold.  I’m thinking about making pretzels this afternoon but it depends on whether we’ll have time for the dough to rise and bake before we have to head out to pick up my husband from work.  And *that* depends on the weather… because I’m fairly sure we’ll end up at the park unless it decides to rain this afternoon.  I love having the flexibility to plan schedules around *my* priorities…

G is for Gifts and Gratitude

I’ve spent a few months now following and sporadically blogging about the gifts in my life.  I’ve spent the last few weeks spending stolen moments of time reading the book that records the thoughts that inspired the blog that inspires my own list.  I’ve spent more time living than reflecting on life (which for me is not always a good thing)… but have loved the book so far and look forward to reading more of it.

Continuing the gratitude list for this week…

#126  All of you A-Z bloggers who visit and comment on my blog even though I took way too long of a break!

#127 Having family in town last week

#128 Backyard games played with my 5 year old and my 3 year old niece last week.  He needs more playmates!

#129 The new HUGE playground we visited last week.  It was amazing!

#130 Having a blast at an Easter egg hunt…

#130 And getting back into our warm car after realizing that we did not dress so well for the unseasonably cold weather that day.

#131 Getting a letter from the child we sponsor for Compassion International (which we are not the greatest at writing letters back to… that is a huge goal of mine!) with a beautiful picture inside that she drew!

#132 Preschool artwork from my little guy too (which I’ll put up on this post soon… it would take another few hours to publish if I had to figure it out now!)

#133 Spending the entire day Sunday at church or at church activities… and slowly going from not wanting to be there at all (tough day for no reason) to being glad to be around positive people to help pull me out of a funk.

#134 Glee (okay, I feel guilty even posting this one!  I have gone from watching random snippets of the show and complaining about the immorality in the show — really, deciding you aren’t ready to have sex in high school makes you “repressed and frigid”? — to watching Season 1 on Netflix, deciding it still may not be appropriate but it is cute plus it has music!, and looking forward to catching up on the Season 2 episodes I’ve missed.  It still isn’t a show that I think is the best influence… but I am trying to live in the world and not totally separate from it and am fairly sure that if I had a teen we’d be watching and discussing the show.  Maybe I’m being completely naive there though… )

#135 Coloring.  My son doesn’t really like coloring (apparently that is typical for boys?) but I LOVE it and always try to get him to.   It doesn’t work.  But my 3 year old niece loves to color so I got to color with her over the past week. 🙂

F is for Family

… otherwise known as “the reason Melody hasn’t blogged for almost a week.”  We spent most of the past week visiting with family from out of town.  I loved getting to see my little boy play with his cousin who he doesn’t get to see anywhere near as often as he’d like, catching up with family face-to-face (which is somehow different from over e-mail or phone) and basically taking a week off from normal life.  I am glad for life to be somewhat back to normal too.  🙂  Now to catch up on the A to Z challenge!

D is for Direction

Decision making is not a strength of mine.  I excel at endlessly analyzing options and never reaching a decision (My husband will be quick to agree with that).  But… over the next few months I am going to have to make several huge decisions (even if they end up being decisions by default) about what the next few years will hold for my family.  My 5 year old is heading to kindergarten in the fall… or not… depending on a decision about homeschooling vs. our local public school.  I am headed back to work… of some form… or not… depending on the school decision and a number of factors I can’t control such as whether anyone will hire me to begin with (job interviews rank in the top 5 of my least favorite things to do).  Life is headed in a different direction… and right now I don’t have any idea what direction that is.  I feel like I am just beginning to find the map for how to manage being a stay at home mom and now it is time to switch maps (and I’m not sure I ever got to where I was trying to on the first one!).

It is very easy for me to feel like there is a right decision… and a wrong decision… for every choice.  The reality is that not every choice is black and white.  (Okay, practically no choice is black and white… but the ones I am facing seem to be a very medium shade of gray).  I am trying to remind myself that whichever path we choose… or have chosen for us… will have treasures along the way.  (That isn’t working right now, but I’m trying!).  I have spent much of the last few years begging for some blazing billboard to tell me a direction to go in life.  It hasn’t come.  I really don’t expect it to.

I don’t expect to ever get to this point:

… but I sometimes wonder if it would be easier just to get rid of the expectations and trying to plan (it doesn’t work anyway) and just live life as it comes.  (Except, that still calls for making decisions!)

C is for Catching Up! (Multitude Mondays #111-125)

Catching up on many things.  I wrote yesterday (okay, really today) about balancing blogging with the rest of life.  I’ve had several big decisions and other dilemmas dominating my thoughts for the last few months.  I’m fairly sure some of those will come out for the D post tomorrow.  In the midst of all of that, I have not kept up with this blog as much as I’d like to.  The one part of the blog that I do want to keep up with… which has been in place in various ways since this blog started… is a gratitude journal.  It is a way for me to consider blessings when it seems life is in chaos… and to be connected with others who are doing the same.

I’ll talk some more about the practice of gratitude and my experience of it in a few days… but for today I’m just continuing counting gifts with Ann and the Gratitude Community

#111 – a sweet note I received from a friend with much potential to be a much better friend… which is something I could use right now!
#112 – my 5 year old’s enthusiasm for reading his new Bible (his prayer tonight — Dear God, thank you for making Mommy read me the Bible every night. Theology of viewing God as being his wish-granter aside, I thought that was pretty great!)
#113 – finally getting meds for my cat (who had a huge health scare last fall and was finally diagnosed with an enlarged heart which is very treatable)
#114 – being offered the opportunity to serve at a fundraising event last weekend… and realizing how much I miss it (though I have to admit it is much more fun when the “service opportunity” is not a mandantory add-on to already overwhelming responsibilities associated with working full time)
#115 – flowers everywhere!  I have pink azaleas blooming, yellow buttercups and dandelions in the yard, and random purple wildflowers.  They are all even better when presented from my favorite 5 year old.
#116- no cavities at the dentist for the 5 year old *and* me a few weeks ago!  Having dental insurance that covers routine checkups and access to good dental care is a blessing that I don’t take for granted.
#117 – hope
#118 – 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16, New International Version, ©2011) — the verse which has been in my head for the last few weeks — and what a blessing is the ability to approach God… with confidence that he is good and merciful and understanding of our frailties and fears.
#119 – An afternoon spent with a good friend and her little boy making pretzels (yum!)
#120 – Rain percussion (and a storm that thankfully just provided us with some outdoor music and a lot of rain… lots of damage a few miles away from my house but all is okay here)
#121 – A working dishwasher 🙂 It has been not working for a while… finally called a repairman and it worked for him! Glad he just charged us the fee to come out and wishing the same thing would happen when we get around to getting the car fixed…
#122 – Birds chirping outside
#123 – Free dinner @ Chipotle in honor of their Grand Opening tomorrow — nice not to cook *and* to get free food!
#124 – Storytimes, complete with books and activities, presented by my 5 year old librarian-in-residence at my house for his stuffed animals and any grownups who care to participate
#125 – The realization today… when I finally cleaned house a little after a few weeks of not feeling well (ironically, from asthma/allergies triggered by cleaning house!)… that there really can be pleasure in slowly turning a house into a home… (even when it seems it will never get there)… and that it is okay if it is a process (even when I feel like everyone else has long ago reached the finish line!).

Interested in counting the everyday and not-so-everyday gifts in your life? Feel free to join in!

 

B is for Blogging and Balance

So… I never got my other post up for A, and I am letting it slide.  Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day… and after a backslide into winter weather, i was ready to get out and enjoy some sunshine.  So… late on the B post too.  *But* the lateness ties right in to my belated blog post!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about blogging… and the purpose of this blog… and how that fits into everything else that is important to me. I’ve spent the past year trying to figure out how to ration my blogging time and make it beneficial for both my readers and myself.

Basically, that is one of the areas I will be addressing this month. Yesterday I was working on a post about being an ambassador… and how I communicate my beliefs and priorities. This blog is one vehicle for that communication.  I am planning on spending the month expounding some on what is important to me and what I am musing on at the moment… and you are invited to join in, offer comments, and see if you want to stick around after the challenge!

I would also love to know how you balance your blogging with the rest of your life.  For me… it is all so tied in with other issues… trust, disclosure, making good use of my time, taking time for me (and what the best way to do that is).  I don’t feel like I have a great balance of any of that… and I’d love to hear your thoughts on balancing blogging with everything else you juggle in life!