Category Archives: gratitude

The first week…

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Today marks my first official week of sabbatical.

For the record, I am thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve worked on my house in big ways in the past week. Worked in the yard, felt sweat dripping down my face. I’m just crazy enough to enjoy that kind of thing. I’ve baked cookies and banana bread. I’ve run errands and thought of new ideas. I’ve made more DIY stuff at home… so far laundry detergent, homemade dish soap, hand soap (liquid style), and toothpaste. I have recipes to try ketchup and mustard and when my supplies are actually looking low I’ll give it a try 🙂 I’ve purchased books on how to make bar soap, a variety of it, anticipating that I would enjoy the process and also be able to make a supply this winter to sell at our local Farmer’s market next summer. I’ve cut back plants outside and right now have a huge bucket full of pieces off of my ivy plant which I hope will take root. I think I will be able to replant them in small pots and again sell them at my local Farmer’s market next summer if all goes well. If it doesn’t work, I haven’t lost a penny. I was going to trim them back anyway.

I’ve redirected my girls this week. So yesterday my youngest participated in my monthly bill writing and is now acutely aware of my budget and how much cash should be spent each week so that we don’t go over. She’s aware of my emergency fund and of what is in  savings. I had no clue of any of that when I was growing up, but she expressed an interest in learning how to budget and I couldn’t think of any reason for her not to, so she is. She actually gets excited when bills arrive in the mail box…crazy girl :).

I’ve signed up my girls for art class this fall down at our local art studio. So both will be taking knitting in September. (I’m secretly hoping they can teach me too 🙂 Lydia will take drawing in October. She really showed some talent in her general middle school art class so I am looking forward to seeing her develop in that area. Lauren is taking collage which will be right up her creative alley. Then in Nov/Dec. Lauren is taking intermediate pottery…I hope she loves it, I think she will. Lydia is taking a photography class. She’s hoping to learn how to use all of the buttons on the camera beyond the auto one 🙂

This week I will be purchasing a paper for Lauren to start clipping coupons, and an organizer. She wants to be more in on the grocery shopping/saving side of things and if she’s willing to give it a go, I’m in full support. She’s also cutting out her first pattern today in the process of learning to sew. Lydia is making her first recipe tonight, she’s going to make something every Tuesday and Thursday and already has recipes lined up for the next six weeks 🙂

All of this is the kind of stuff that wouldn’t be happening if I was working full time right now. There are only so many hours in a day and teaching is exhausting work.

We even got to throw in a field trip to the Botanical gardens this week which was good for my soul.

I’m preparing to preach this Sunday, and I feel like I’ve actually had adequate time to prepare.

I’ve been able to help others this week. I even started yoga on Mondays.

When I sit down and think through all that has happened in this past week I’m amazed. Just a week ago my oldest had just gotten her drivers license and I was nervous about the whole thing. In one weeks time I’m amazed at how much less nervous I feel. She’s driven several times now for small errands and has even driven completely on her own. She’s doing just fine 🙂

My continued theme for this time in my life is pure gratitude.  I’m finding that it’s an incredibly good place to be.

Not everything is perfect. I haven’t started nearly as many students as I would like in my private voice and piano business this fall, but I’m hoping and trusting that will grow as time goes on.

My girls have had to work through some interesting emotions this week with public school starting and learning how to be homeschooled and still have some friendships which has led to some interesting conversations. I know God will help us to work those things out. We just need to initiate relationships in a different way than we used to.

Overall…life is incredibly good. Today is Thursday and it’s going to be a lovely day. No countdowns, no dread, no wishing for other days…this day is good in itself.

On to week two…I hope to power wash my house, paint my bath tub and probably the walls in my bathroom this next week. And who knows what else might come across my path 🙂 I’m open.

Today’s thoughts

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Today I’m working hard on the next area of my house in my efforts to clear clutter and clean. So far my basement and shed are in pretty good shape. I’m hoping that those were probably the least fun areas and now it will be a little more manageable doing the living areas. Today I’m out in the great outdoors…redoing our front porch.

I already emptied it entirely last night. Which is always kind of shocking to remove everything and see how much dirt we were really living in. Well it is a porch so I guess that’s to be expected…but it’s an enclosed porch hooked to our house.

It had a swing, two chairs, camping stuff out the wazoo, shoes…seriously, every shoe we own which is a whole lot, a variety of yard tools, my hope chest (I know that makes no sense but it’s one of those things where it didn’t fit into the rest of the house so it ended on up on the porch.), holiday decorations, lawn chairs, balls and racquets, rain gear, snow sleds and stuff related with cars and winter…a crazy amount of stuff for one porch.

Our porch runs along the front of our house, so it’s a good sized enclosed porch, but still…too much.

So…I started by taking all of the yard stuff out to the shed. That helped. I then took all of the random tools and snow sleds down to the basement. I also took the holiday stuff down to the basement and was able to easily put it away since I had already organized that space. I’m giving away a chair to a friend so that will clear out some space. I’m getting rid of a big piece of wood today, hopefully…I’m putting a free sign on it out at the road and probably making a trip to a dumpster to throw away the old blinds which had long sense lost any color. I’m also throwing away a rug that was on the floor.

I have a stack of stuff sitting in my front room right now that I will go through before putting my porch back together. I definitely want to get rid of more. I’m hoping that when I’m done my porch will be really open and breezy, have one chair and our swing and a few other things…but very few. The space right now feels wonderful.

Today I’m cleaning it up and scraping the old paint. I’ve never painted parts of the porch before so I have no idea how old the paint is…but it’s peeling in places and will need to have some attention before I can just apply a new coat of paint. I purchased exterior paint for the walls and floor paint that’s supposed to be really resilient for the floors (Hope it works) The girls helped me pick out some colors, nothing bold. In fact the colors are very understated. Just slight hints of color, mostly just light and breezy. We’re going for a more beachy feel around here. Lightening things up.

I hope to get the ceiling and trim done either today or tomorrow and then the walls and floor on another day. Once I get going I know it won’t take long. Probably longer to scrape and clean it up to get ready to paint.

It’s a little inconvenient having to live with the mess right now in our front room but I’m trying to keep perspective that this is how it always is when you try and improve things. You have to sit with the mess for a little while to see improvement.

Our front porch is our first impression…I have to admit, I’m glad we’re redoing it…it wasn’t the greatest first impression.

I’m reorganizing some stuff, trashing some stuff, giving away some stuff and keeping some. This decluttering is a continual process.

I’m always amazed at the stuff I spent money on thinking we would use it more often…yesterday when I threw away some pool floaty things I realized we probably only used them a couple of times. It challenges me to think more before any further purchasing. Honestly…unless I’m going to use something fairly regularly it just isn’t worth the purchase.

Yesterday I also looked over my budget again as I approach very quickly my last teacher pay check for a year or more. I’ve tightened everything down as much as I possibly can. We should be ok. There are always unexpected things that come up…but we should be alright. I’m hoping to eventually have 20 students in my private voice and piano business. I have no idea if that will happen or not…but hope so. Thankfully right now we are not dependent on that goal. Although it would definitely make life a little easier.

The good news is…while I see people commenting and lamenting about summer being almost over…I feel no dread. I enjoyed my summer and am still enjoying it and absolutely am ok with this fall season coming on. I am in no hurry. I am not counting down to anything. I am enjoying each day as it comes for probably the first time in my life. I am at peace. Content. Not living in the lap of luxury by any means…but perfectly content and grateful.

My girls are too. They are ahead in their schooling and so yesterday we took a day off when my daughter got her driver’s license. We went out to lunch with a friend and enjoyed the day at home. No stress. Today they’re back at school…but we just had the freedom to eat a good chocolate chip pancake breakfast together and a cup of coffee. And they will still be done  most likely by early afternoon.  My youngest daughter is really enjoying her Latin class. I never dreamed that she would so get into it, but I’m glad she is. She even told me she’s enjoying reading The Scarlet Letter right now, which I consider a small miracle. My oldest daughter is doing well also.

I keep reminding myself…this is probably not the life for a lot of people, but it surely is for us. As a family it feels really good to be in sync with all of our needs at the same time.

I’ve been in more contact lately with friends and family…I’ve just had more time to realize that I want to contact them or get together. Usually, that would’ve just got pushed behind the duties of life. I’m even thinking that I might do Bible Study Fellowship this year (a ladies bible study done during the day). It’s always been something I’ve heard other ladies doing and wished that I could. I think I might.

This is a really good season in my life. I don’t share this to make you envious if you’re not in a good season. I share this because I’ve been the envious one…for years…and now that I’m here I just can’t help but be grateful. Seasons come and go. I have no idea what the future holds…but this season is rich in everything that matters to me. Time with God, time with my girls, making a home, contact with friends and family, writing, creating, healthy living, frugal living…and probably some other things that I haven’t thought of 🙂

Is this a good season in your life? If not…I can understand. I’ve been there. I know that life all to well. What is one or two things you might be able to do today to head in a direction that might make it a better season for you? I’m talking small stuff. Maybe a change of schedule or of healthy habit, maybe a change of your budget or change in time spent with God, maybe a change of diet or a change of career…maybe a change of where you live or what you drive…who knows, but I believe that small changes do add up to big change over time.

If you are in a good season…I celebrate with you. Share your gratitude…the world will be richer for it.

This is where I am today…

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Monday morning…

Went to wash dishes…

For some reason, no hot water. Sigh…

Our hot water heater is ancient. We’ve known that it would need to be replaced for awhile now. In fact it was included in on the bid I got to replace my air conditioner and duct work. I was just hoping that I had a little more time.

It’s not life or death. Just an inconvenience and a set back that I didn’t plan on today. Life.

My mind wants to go down pathways where normally this would be a man’s job to deal with this kind of stuff. At my house all jobs regardless of whether they’re man’s jobs or woman’s jobs are done by me. Let me just stuff down a little self pity I guess. I’m used to the feeling so it’s easy to recognize it and nip it in the bud. It doesn’t get the job done or put any of my energy to good use so no point in going there.

I thought I would be headed out on a bike ride this morning…might still go, but now am waiting til 8 to start the week off with a call to a water heater company.

It could always be worse. Always.

I’m thankful that I’m able to be home right now. This type of stuff is really hard to deal with when you’re working and yet need to be at your house for a repair person to come.

I’m thankful that we hadn’t headed out on vacation yet. This would’ve been really frustrating to come home to. And in the mean time who knows how much water I would’ve paid for that is just steadily dripping away at the bottom of the heater. At least I can get it dealt with before we go.

I’m thankful that we still have water. I just boiled some up to wash dishes. It was survivable. Lots of people in the world don’t even have access to cold clean water, let alone hot.

I’m thankful that upon looking in the mirror I think I can survive a day without a shower today if necessary, my hair seems to be laying down unusually well. Even the small stuff matters after all.

I live in an old house. This is bound to be how it goes. Lots of people live in old houses and deal with the same kinds of stuff. Already a friend has given me a recommendation of a company to call.

I’m not alone. Sometimes I think I am. It’s an easy little self pity party for me to join. But I’m never really alone.

Not as if this surprised God this morning.

So…I find myself saying…ok, I guess for whatever reason this seemed like a good time for this happen and so now I will deal.

Little fragments of panic want to rise when I realize again the risk I’m taking in getting off the ride. When life breaks down and unexpected bills come…a choice to give up security as insecure as it might be is still like being out in a boat without oars. I have to count on God and His provision, His faithfulness to me. I don’t want to be a person who panics at every unexpected event and expense.

This is where I am on this Monday morning. How about you?