Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ 10.31.12

For my only non-gratitude-list post this month (good grief), a little  Simple Woman's Daybook...

Outside my window...
just a few yellow leaves stubbornly hanging on to the branches of a big old maple that has dumped most of the rest of its leaves all over our back patio, and the sky is the kind of crisp fall blue that's my favorite. 

I am thinking...
that I hate deckle-edged books. Does anyone really like them? Why do they make them that way? Annoying. 

I am thankful for...
opportunities to meet and connect with the moms of some of Elijah's preschool friends. 

From the kitchen...
I took Smitten Kitchen's brown butter brown sugar shorties to Elijah's preschool party this morning. Like Deb warned, they are a hard sell on a dessert table full of colorful cupcakes and frosted cookies, but those who tried them raved about them. Browned butter, sweet + salty, only four kind of can't go wrong. You can go wrong, however, with her chicken noodle soup recipe, if you use an old stew bird that takes hours and hours to get tender, rather than the 20 minutes the recipe prescribes. Thankfully I was able to pull something out of the freezer on Monday night and we ate the soup yesterday--and Jude, who usually isn't a soup fan, asked for fourths or fifths (I lost track). Pretty sure I could have put the broth in a cup and he would have happily chugged it. 

I am wearing...
an old favorite sweater--light blue cashmere 3/4 sleeve turtleneck. I would wear cashmere all winter if it weren't so stinking expensive; this one I scored off-season at an Ann Taylor outlet years and years ago for a ridiculously cheap price. And the only pair of jeans I own which fit me well and don't have any holes in them. Plus some brown suede sneakers that I've had for at least three years or so and are looking pretty worn out. Mama needs to go shopping. 

I am creating...
a plan for blogging every day next month. Stay tuned!

I am going...
to get my Christmas cards ordered this week. I think. 

I am reading...
Downtown: My Manhattan, a NYC book that's part-history, part-memoir, and much more interesting than the last NYC history book I read. I recently finished Grisham's The Associate, which started out promising but left me sticking to my belief that he lost his touch after his first four bestsellers (I loved The Client, A Time to Kill, The Pelican Brief and The Firm and haven't really found one of his novels satisfying since). I recently picked up Paul Miller's Love Walked Among Us: Learning to Love Like Jesus, and I'm almost finished with The White Umbrella: Walking with Survivors of Sex Trafficking. A dear friend and I are still slowly plodding through Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline, and next up once I finish one of these will probably be The Great Divorce and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

For my Bible reading, I'm in Luke and Psalms. My reading plan continues to be critical for keeping me on track. 

I am hoping...
that my pocket camera can be fixed :( The lens cover randomly stopped working last week, but I was still able to take photos with it, and then all of a sudden Saturday I couldn't take pictures anymore, either. 

I am hearing...
the Downton Abbey soundtrack on Spotify. So nice to be able to preview albums before you buy them!  (And I am dying for season three to come out!)

Around the house...
unpleasant things, including a you-know-what hiding somewhere upstairs. Apparently both Steve and Elijah actually spotted it over the weekend, but Steve spared me the knowledge until Monday afternoon. As of yesterday evening it was still on the loose, but we're not seeing any evidence in the kitchen or anywhere else. I am fervently hoping it either went away on its own, or it is in one of the traps and Steve will find it when he gets home tonight. *shiver*

One of my favorite things...
yellow gingko trees in the fall. Do they have those up north? I never noticed or knew about them until we moved down here. 

A few plans for the rest of the week...
nothing much going on; last week was our crazy-busy week (a visit from my parents, a trip to Warner Park, Elijah's last two soccer games, a playdate with a preschool friend, a trip to Cheekwood, a trip to Cowboy Town...WHEW!). I am very much looking forward to Saturday, though--two friends/fellow women's retreat planners and I are taking a day trip to Fall Creek Falls State Park to explore the location for February's retreat!

A picture thought I am sharing...
my boys were firefighters for Elijah's preschool party this morning, in honor of Uncle Josh :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Multitude Monday, Take 264

"...always looking for just one more in this unfolding of a chronicle of grace, our life story in freeze frames of thanks..." (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p. 82)

Thanking God this week for..

4392. a visit from my parents last week
4393. a gorgeous afternoon at Edwin Warner Park with them and the boys
4394. Elijah eating his entire dinner, including four kinds of veggies, without any whining or coercion whatsoever!
4395. Jude's fuzzy-soft new sweatshirt that has buses AND fire trucks on it
4396. missionary friends' getting the necessary work permit to stay in Ethiopia

4397. a phone conversation with Danielle
4398. firefighter boots 
4399. Elijah doing SO well at his [last] soccer game, actually getting in there and kicking the ball!

4400. Steve's humility
4401. much-needed decluttering accomplished

4402. bringing Steve and me together young, without having to endure lots of heartbreak and failed relationships first
4403. pumpkin snickerdoodles a friend brought to share
4404. a playdate with a preschool friend
4405. the quality of low-slanted fall sunlight
4406. the smell of caramelizing onions

4407. a day at Cheekwood with dear friends
4408. thousands of mums in bright colors
4409. answering our prayer to make the rain go away
4410. bright yellow gingko trees
4411. Jude asking for more soup

4412. Jude's delighted giggles over being given a "koo-kwee"
4413. Elijah getting to ride a horse at Cowboy Town
4414. Steve's canoeing skills keeping us dry
4415. a preschool birthday party, another connection with a mom
4416. another fantastic sermon from Acts

4417. the intricate and varied shapes of leaves
4418. a quiet afternoon to plan for NaBloPoMo while everyone else napped
4419. multiple translations of His Word

Monday, October 15, 2012

Multitude Monday, Take 263

"Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant--a seed--this plants the giant miracle. The miracle of eucharisteo, like the Last Supper, is in the eating of crumbs, the swallowing down one mouthful. Do not disdain the small. The whole of the life--even the hard--is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. ...There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up." (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p. 57)

Thanking God this week for...

4365. Elijah practicing writing his letters for the sheer enjoyment of it
4366. soft fleece sweatshirts
4367. grace to remain calm
4368. grace when I don't remain calm
4369. the relieved, grateful grin on Jude's face when you successfully guess or translate what he's trying to say

4370. Elijah curled up in the rocking chair with an afghan and a Thomas the Train anthology, gently snoring
4371. friends appreciating my nerdy propensity to over-research everything
4372. a picnic at the park with a dear friend who moved away
4373. her adorable baby belly
4374. Elijah's excitement to wear "PJ feet" again

4375. missing bathrobe, found
4376. a long, tight, sad hug from Steve when he came home on the day I found out that a young husband and father from our hometown was killed in a car accident
4377. the way small towns, for all their faults, rally around their own in times of crisis
4378. the reminder not to take anyone or anything for granted, that tomorrow is not guaranteed
4379. a LONG-overdue phone conversation with the other dear, dear woman who mentored me when I was in college (see what I mean about how God provided so ridiculously abundantly back then?!)

4380. the way He put Lyn in my life back in 2001
4381. her words of wisdom and affection; her trust and her prayers
4382. opportunities to serve friends
4383. cash for old, unwanted gold jewelry
4384. gorgeous fall colors

4385. Elijah reciting Psalm 23
4386. unsolicited snuggles from both boys
4387. fresh, warm strawberry rhubarb jam
4388. Jude licking jam off his face
4389. fifteen jars sealed and preserved for the year

4390. His Holy Spirit sealing and preserving me for eternity
4391. the sweetness of His mercy, even when I do not taste and see it

Monday, October 08, 2012

Multitude Monday, Take 262: Gifts at Homecoming

When I started college twelve(!) years ago, the adjustment was much, much harder than I expected. Never have I felt more alone. I had a hard time establishing deep friendships, and I remember the desolation of weeks and weeks going by without a real hug. I spent hours in the prayer chapel on the top floor of our dorm, scribbling in my journal, crying out to the Lord because I didn't have anyone else to lean on. I specifically remember begging Him to bring me just one close friend!

Today I look back on that prayer and can only shake my head in amazement. Thinking about that desperate prayer, and then reflecting on how lavishly He overwhelms. Honestly, I feel almost embarrassed at the roster of women He placed in my life during those next four years. They are beautiful. And my life is so much richer for having known each one.

All this is fresh on my mind because this past weekend was homecoming at Indiana Wesleyan University, and I had the immeasurable gift of being able to go back and spend time with a few of those dear, dear friends. (And then there are all the professors who profoundly impacted my life while I was there--next time I hope to go on a weekday to be able to visit their offices and say hello!)

Having been out of town a LOT in the last month, and asking a lot of my husband, I made this as short and quick a trip as possible. But when I found out that IWU was putting together an alumni chorale again, I didn't want to miss it this time (two years ago, I was 38 weeks pregnant with Jude and therefore couldn't go). I drove up to Marion early Saturday morning, packed in as many visits as possible, and came home last night feeling full and blessed. The gifts of the weekend are innumerable, but include...

4334. the fact that I remembered at KY mile 8, not later, that I'd left my black and white outfit for the concert hanging on my bedroom door
4335. Steve dragging the boys to our interstate exit, saving me 30 minutes
4336. being able to laugh, hard, about the irony: forgetting your dress is the quintessential chorale nightmare, and here I'd done it, for an alumni chorale event!
4337. the fact that I'd allowed so much extra time, I was still able to meet my dear friend Mollie for lunch
4338. Mollie's sweet, genuine spirit, hearing about her life, hugging her for the first time in eight years

4339. shrieks and hugs at seeing Schmamanda for the first time since her 2005 wedding
4340. Prof Guy, who hasn't changed one bit
4341. his speech and his getting all choked up over the alumni and throwing a classic Profism in to boot
4342. "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"--the reality, and the privilege of singing the song with the chorale again
4343. being allowed to use our music for our songs with the Gaithers (whew!)

4344. chorale members sharing a table in Baldwin Dining Center again, and laughing until I cried
4345. the surprise of seeing my parents, who decided the concert sounded so fun, they wanted to come
4346. the gorgeous voices of the men in the Gaither Vocal Band (and the fact that David Phelps is back with them, which I hadn't realized!)
4347. singing two powerful, beautiful songs with them
4348. coffee at McConn with the lovely Professor(!) Dottie Hutcherson, my classmate and newspaper staff comrade

4349. my roommate, Lindsay, and her husband, Justin, not minding my arriving at their apartment at 12:30AM
4350. hours of catching up with Lindsay on Sunday morning
4351. the privilege of knowing and loving the girl Lindsay was eight years ago *and* the woman she is now
4352. lunch with the wonderful Andrews family
4353. the healing God has brought to their precious kiddos and their family

4354. curling up on the couch with Sandra for the afternoon while Kevin kept the kids occupied
4355. Sandra's sensitive, caring heart
4356. her passion and example as a mom
4357. realizing we've been friends for 17 years--the gift of knowing and being known/loving and being loved for that long
4358. safety on the drive home, not getting sleepy as I feared

4359. Elijah's joy in seeing Mama
4360. home sweet home
4361. the ability to sing
4362. anticipation of singing together with these dear friends in Heaven, with no one missing and no goodbyes
4363. getting to hear countless stories of how God is at work in my friends' lives

4364. realizing that if God never gave me another friend after college, He would still be unbelievably, extravagantly generous

Monday, October 01, 2012

Multitude Monday, Take 261

“ this counting gifts, to one thousand, more, I discover that slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life. A lifetime of sermons on ‘thanks in all things’ and the shelves sagging with books on these things and I testify: life-changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p. 57)

Thanking God this week, one-by-one, for...

4309. the beautiful women and girls I had the privilege of speaking to last week (more on that soon, I hope)
4310. a rich and fun visit with my dear mentor and her wonderful family
4311. Elijah getting dressed and ready for preschool without dawdling
4312. opportunities and grace to help Steve instead of pursuing my own agenda
4313. GoodReads, to finally keep track of what I want to read all in one place

4314. red magnolia seeds
4315. sunshine after rain
4316. the edges of trees just beginning to turn orange
4317. an electric skillet on which to cook eight pancakes at once
4318. Jude reading Blue Hat, Green Hat to himself ("bwoo. weh. lello. upps!")

4319. Elijah telling me I look pretty
4320. a new red Klean Kanteen for Elijah
4321. post-nap snuggles with Jude
4322. a friend's willingness to babysit while I hit my favorite used book sale
4323. awesome deals on two enormous bags of books (mostly gifts!)

4324. pumpkin spice lattes
4325. said friend's adorable baby belly, an answer to prayer
4326. my little cowboy bravely handling it better than could be expected when we didn't get to stay at Cowboy Town (long story...with a giant GRR)
4327. a picnic lunch at the park and a walk around the lake instead
4328. the way Jude's hips and legs twist back and forth comically inefficiently when he runs

4329. Steve staying home with our sick little guy while Elijah and I went to church
4330. moving stories
4331. Bible reading plans
4332. His incredible patience
4333. His jealous love