Auntie Em's Guide to Life

A guide to all the important things in life- marriage, family, cooking, gardening, reading, travel, Christian living… And whatever else grabs my attention!

“Good Enough” is Good Enough

For many of us, school is about to start. If you are a teacher, you might start weeping and gnashing your teeth when you read that statement! No matter how much you enjoy it, teaching school has a way of sucking the life out of you — and I’m sure other jobs are the same way.

Sometimes my job gets out of control– I stay too late; bring work home; and even when I’m away it’s on my mind. But I’m better than I used to be! I’m always optimistic that I can manage my work time and tasks better so I won’t be a blob on the couch when I get home. How bout you? I’ve put together some ideas specifically aimed at perfectionists and overachievers– the Marthas of the world. In a job like mine (high school choir teacher), I get a salary and I have some expected outside activities, but I could find or make things to do at school every day till 6:00. But only if SCHOOL (or my program, or looking good in my region, or others’ admiration) were my first priority! I have to find the right balance.

1. Start with some quiet time to think. You’re going to brainstorm, so tell Martha to be quiet while Mary uses her imagination. Don’t let “It won’t work” or “How can I do that?” come in the picture.

2. List your priorities. Then put them in order. Don’t worry about what they SHOULD be– or what your schedule says they are– just what YOU think they are. Here are mine: God, husband, my children, church/service, job. (Don’t overanalyze. Just write down what your first thought is. You can change it later if you want!) If you have been frazzled, what areas do you feel like were neglected?

The next few steps are to be done in layers. First build the skeleton, then come back and add some muscle.

3. Now to the nitty gritty: What activities does your employer REQUIRE of you outside regular hours?

This might be vague, especially if you’ve been a Martha . Ask yourself if your boss would reprimand you if you didn’t do it. (Tell Martha to shut it; she is not welcome in this exercise!) These are the tasks that you MUST do if you want to keep your job. An example in my case is that  I prepare my students for All-Region Choir competitions , UIL Concert and Sight-Reading, a Christmas concert and Pop Show in May.

4. What is required for you to do your job during regular hours?

I have to teach our repertoire to performance or competition level. By doing this the students learn music theory, music history, and vocal and ensemble skills required by the state.

5. Now draw your “yellow lines” around your priorities. (I just read Body by God by Dr. Ben Lerner and he used that concept– You don’t cross yellow lines in traffic, and you don’t cross yellow lines in your schedule. If it’s family time, GO HOME from work!) If work infringes on your family time, I would recommend starting with family time. In a perfect world, I would leave work at ….? Don’t start listing reasons why it won’t work. Just say what time you need to leave in order to make your family time your priority. For me it’s 4:30, an hour after school gets out.

Now remember, Martha, you’re still not making any decisions, just brainstorming!

Now to flesh out your “skeleton.”

1. How can you make your outside expectations fit in your priorities? Remember my All-Region Choir requirement. That could take up all my waking hours if I let it. Here’s how I cut it down to size:

We work on the music in class; we bring in paid voice teachers one afternoon a week, and I offer morning sectional rehearsals. I cheer, encourage, and make online resources available, I’m also available for individual help upon request. What I DON’T do is require everybody to come in for sectionals, or set up times for private lessons for me to work with all of them after school. I would be at school all hours if I did, and my philosophy is it’s THEIR responsibility to practice and get help. If they can do it only with my pushing and holding their hand, they don’t need to do it. They are in high school. And besides, my kids are some of the busiest ones on campus- advanced classes, band, drama, church, sports, etc… They have lots of demands on their time too. I try to make my class time very productive so they will need little outside time.

Brainstorm options to lessen the demands of your requirements.

2. What about your work-hours expectations? I have to teach repertoire, including the theory, history, and technique needed to perform it.

I love making videos and powerpoints or slide shows. However, they are very time consuming. But they engage the kids more than plain old paper or projector do! Yes, but how much more is learned? My very wise mentor asked me one time early in my career (when I was practically living at school), “For the extra 2 hours you put in that project, how many kids honestly benefited more than if you had taught it another way?” And the answer was, “Maybe none.” It was just prettier, flashier, and more fun for me.

If you are a teacher who is trying to scale back work time, and have lesson plans that have worked well, use them again! For heaven’s sake why reinvent the wheel? My wise daughter Sis reminded one of our overachiever perfectionist students who was way too stressed for a high school student that “Good enough is good enough!”

  • Make 1 or 2 projects/units each summer.
  • Collaborate with colleagues. Dropbox or other online resources make this so easy!
  • Google something before you make it! Chances are, somebody else has done it already.
  • Delegate! For me, the obvious thing would be to have students make the videos. More learning for them, less time for me.

If you have an activity you love that is not required, balance the time it takes and the benefits gained. We always sing at our Veterans’ Day programs, For me, the benefits gained are easily worth the time involved: giving my kids the opportunity to learn about the sacrifices made for our country, honoring the Vets, and serving in our community. Easy win, well worth the time involved. But we have sung the National Anthem at events in Houston that end up taking 8-10 hours out of a Saturday. It’s fun for the kids, and a cool experience, but that’s about all. Way too “expensive.” Maybe we could do that every other year, and alternate with singing at a sporting event at our local university.

Be creative and play devil’s advocate. If you have only a certain number of hours– and you do– how can you adapt this activity to make it fit? If you can’t, ditch it.

Let me address the elephant in the room now.

If you have been running and doing and giving much more than is required, and you decide to make your actions match what you say your priorities are, some people will not be happy with you. Anticipate this. You might want to give them a heads-up if you are not going to do some things you’ve been doing. You might want to phase out some activities gradually. But they probably will still be unhappy. You ultimately have to ask yourself who is higher on your priority list, those people or your family? (or whatever other priority you are moving up on your list) The apostle Paul said, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18)

Once you’ve brainstormed, leave your list a while. Pray. Think. Get counsel from one of your Board of Directors. Then go back to it and see how you can change your world.

"Good enough" is good enough

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A Merry Heart– June 16 (Fathers’ Day Edition)

A merry heart is good medicine…

Proverbs 17:22

Happy Fathers’ Day! I’m so thankful for all our wonderful dads!

I love this picture of Mr X and our kids!

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Time: The Elusive Necessity in Marriage

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

24 hour clock courtesy of digitalmama824 via Flickr

Have you accepted the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day? And that even though you can borrow money (bad idea), you can’t get any more time? If your too-busy schedule is causing stress in your marriage, it’s time to take an honest look at it, assess it, and make some changes. In “No Vacuum,” I talked about 2 extremely important things in a successful marriage: knowing what we need as well as what our spouses need; and once we figure that out, having realistic expectations of ourselves and our spouses. Today I’m looking at where these 2 ideas intersect: TIME.

“Free” Time

Do you feel like you’re running from can to can’t? (That’s one of my favorite old-time Southern sayings.) Or in the words of the country singer, “always running, but always running behind”? If you’re not sure where your time flies away to, keep a time diary for a few days– in 15-30 minute increments, see where your minutes go. OUCH… It might show what I call the “Starbucks effect” (spending a small amount of money very often– it adds up!) But instead of being shocked at how much money you spent, you might realize that you’ve wasted a lot of time in small chunks, on things that aren’t really that important in the grand scheme of your life, like Facebook, playing games on your phone, watching TV reruns, etc. Don’t get me wrong; you do need recreation and leisure activities. But you need to CHOOSE what you do, not just fritter away your time on meaningless activities, then wonder why your marriage is suffering. How we spend our time should reflect what we say our priorities are.

Work

And He said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15

 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

Is your career killing your marriage? In his sermon series “Breathing Room,” Andy Stanley shares a story from a book written by a hospice nurse who spends much of her time with people in the last few weeks of their lives. She began asking them, “What do you regret most in your life?” She said, without exception, every. single. man. wished he hadn’t spent so much time and energy on work.

“This came from every male patient that I had nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.” Bronnie Ware, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

(Thanks to Joel at Friendly Thoughts for documenting what I only listened to!)

Mr X and I both have salaried jobs, and we probably could both work another 4 hours every day and still find things to do. In our cut-to-the-bone economy, many employers expect more than any one person to do, and sometimes we are our own slave-drivers. But you’ve got to be honest– if you consistently work many hours beyond what you signed up for, is it worth it? That salary that looked great when you divided it by 40 hours a week might not look so good spread out over 60-80 hours. And is it worth it to you? Only you can decide. But again– be honest. Count the whole cost (not just in terms of money) to your marriage, children, your health, etc.  How much money does your family need? It’s a sad thing when a parent realizes he’s lost his window of opportunity to build a close relationship with his children while he was working to provide THINGS that were not as  important as a relationship with him.

This is tough, I know. You’ve got to find the balance. To help you think, I have to throw in this classic song from the late Harry Chapin. There is a bit of commentary from his wife and son that I think are quite relevant.

Caring for Yourself

… vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases.  But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer. Luke 5:15-16

Have you ever had “vast crowds” clamoring for you? Like at the bathroom door? We women are notorious for taking care of everything and everybody else before we take care of ourselves. But you know what? You’ve got to take care of yourself or you’ll either be sick or be a grouch who has nothing left for your poor spouse. I learned the hard way that my job could move on just fine without me, and it reminded me that I’m the only wife my husband has and the only mom my kids have. Consider these things when you’re looking at your weekly schedule:

  • How much margin do you need for mental peace? I need lots, and when I forget to figure it into my schedule, my nerves frazzle. Rushing from one activity to the next drives me crazy!
  • How much sleep and rest does your body need? If you cheat, it will catch up with you.
  • What rejuvenates you? This is different for everyone.

Jesus modeled taking time away for re-creation. (I rather doubt He needed it– but He knew we would!) And remember that in Exodus 20, God Himself suggested commanded that we should rest. How prideful are we when we think the world will fall apart without us?

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God…

How are you using your time today? Do you need to make any changes?

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A Fruitful Marriage– Goodness

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”  Galatians 5:22 NIV

A Fruitful Marriage-- Goodness

I’m continuing my “Fruitful Marriage” series at A Biblical Marriage, and this month I looked at GOODNESS. ( To see the earlier posts in this series, see Kindness, Patience, Joy, and Love.)

Goodness sounds a lot like patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control… so what’s the difference?

In the context of marriage, the other fruits are ones that we practice toward each other. As I’ve prayed for direction on this, I’ve gotten the idea that GOODNESS faces OUTWARD.

Join me at A Biblical Marriage to read more about having a Fruitful Marriage.

Keep Up the Good Work! Steven Depolo via Flickr

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What Do We Need?

Question Marks by Dan Moyer via Flickr

In “No Vacuum!” I mentioned that our marriage (and probably many others) would have been healthier if we had compromised between realistic expectations and what we needed from one another. This is a big kettle of fish that whole books could be written about, and probably have! But I’ll just put in my 2 little cents, and pray that it will give you some new insight.

What do you need? What does your spouse need?

Those 2 little questions look deceptively simple. In the first place, it’s sometimes difficult to articulate what you need; you just know that something is missing. Then if you DO figure it out, it’s often difficult to communicate that need to your spouse. Sometimes you think it might hurt their feelings, and you don’t want to do that. You might be hurt or angry that they aren’t doing something you need, and resentful that you would have to say anything about it. (Have you ever said to yourself, “If he loved me, he would just know to do it!”) You might be afraid to say anything, for fear of what your spouse might think. (“She’s so NEEDY!” or “He’s a sex maniac!” come to mind.)

Here’s some of our story:

I felt like I lived many years mostly underwater, barely able to catch a breath. A “full-time” job, especially when you are just beginning it, is exhausting. And being a homemaker and mom is another full-time job. Consequently, I never felt like I did that well at either one. This guilt and perceived failure took up lots of brain space. Remember, to a perfectionist, what she DOESN’T do is much weightier than what she DOES do. What I didn’t/couldn’t do was always  heavy on my mind. Were my kids neglected? No. Did I do a good enough job as a teacher? Yes. Does reality matter to a perfectionist? NO! Guilt and condemnation make themselves right at home anyway.

Mr X was not one to talk about his feelings, even if he could have figured them out, and there was no internet or even books (that I was aware of) teaching about sex in marriage from a Christian perspective. I just knew that he wanted more than I felt I had to give; I thought that he should be satisfied with all the other stuff I did (work full time, mother 3 young children, and run a household). Then I’d feel guilty because, in yet another area, I wasn’t good enough, then resentful that he wanted more from me. I had absolutely no clue how important lovemaking is to a man; the emotional part of it and how it affects his feelings about himself and for his wife. (Once more, I refer you to Sheila Gregoire’s very insightful post here.)

When Mr X began school full-time, after several years of going to night classes 2 or 3 nights a week– a very difficult period for this stay-at-home mom of 3– he scheduled his classes on 2 or 3 days and his work on the other days. He drove the kids to school and was able to be “Room Dad” and chaperone often. He did the grocery shopping. Once he began to take up some of the slack with the kids and at home, it helped me feel lots better. I don’t think he realized how much of a load those few things took off my MIND, but it really did make a huge difference.

Then at some point a friend recommended The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura Schlesinger. It opened my eyes! In a nutshell, she said when we say NO to our husbands’ sexual advances, they perceive us as saying NO to THEM, as men. It’s like their saying NO to our conversations with them.

These 2 things– neither of which we can really take credit for– helped us get a little further down the road to a good, healthy marriage.

What does your spouse need? Do you know? I challenge you to have that conversation!

Up next: setting realistic expections of ourselves and our spouses.

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A Merry Heart– March 17

A merry heart is good medicine…

Proverbs 17:22

Good morning! Get your tissues ready– this is one of the best videos I’ve ever seen.

A shout-out to Modern Mrs. Darcy for highlighting this video. Please read her article The Peculiar Sadness of Somebody Else’s Happy Video if there are sad tears. But the good news is, even if you didn’t come from a “happily-ever-after” kind of family, you can make your own. My parents weren’t; nor were either sets of my grandparents (whom I didn’t know). But I knew a lot of what NOT to do, and had a very good friend who became a counselor (Teekay), and I gave her plenty of practice!

Isaac did a proposal video before this one, which is also a feel-good fest. I have a feeling this couple does indeed have the best ahead of them.

 

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Why Unity?

why unity? Auntie Ems' Guide to LifeOur church has been without a pastor since last May. We elected a search committee quickly and they have been busily and faithfully going through dozens of resumes, listening to sermons, contacting references, etc… all the things involved in that huge task. We’ve had a “long-term supply” pastor for several months, the one that has inspired many of my posts, but we are ready for a shepherd! Our committee has found the man they feel that God wants for our church; he is coming to our church next month “in view of a call” (if you are not familiar with that term, it means he will meet us, preach for us, and spend time with us so we can all make our final decisions as we listen and seek God’s will.)

Well anyway, on Sunday the preacher preached his “church looking for a pastor” sermon, as he called it. It was all about unity. Many of the reasons a church needs unity are also applicable to a marriage between believers.

An interesting insight: He said unity was one of the disciplines of Christian discipleship. That was a new thought for me, but think about it: a discipline is something that does not come naturally; you have to do it consciously, and many times it’s hard; and the purpose is to mold our behavior and characters. Unity definitely does NOT come naturally, because it involves laying down and subduing our selfish egos.

There must have been a lack of unity among Christ’s disciples, because in His prayer in John 17, He talks about it at length. He asks for God’s protection “so that they may be one as we are one” (v 11) and asks “May they be brought to complete unity…” (v 23) There are several instances of disunity and competition among Jesus’s followers throughout the New Testament– In Mark 10 where James and John ask to be given places of honor– In Acts 6 where the Greeks felt that the Hebrews were overlooking their widows– Euodia and Syntyche had some sort of conflict in Philippians 4, and Paul pleads with them to “agree in the Lord.” The fact that he pleaded with them instead of just suggesting or asking indicates how important it was.

What’s the big deal? Why unity?

POWER

There is POWER in unity. One of the biggest miracles in the New Testament happened in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit entered the people and 3,000 were saved. Have you noticed what preceded the event? The King James Bible says the believers were “of one accord, ” gathered together.

Have you seen or experienced times when you are your spouse were not unified? Maybe on financial decisions? Child-rearing philosophies? Where to go or how to vacation? Of course you have; we’ve all been there! And if one of us doesn’t lay down our preference, and decide that the unity of our marriage is more important than winning, a small disagreement can lead to a big problem.

MATURITY

Ephesians 4 says that being able to overlook people’s faults, being patient, humble, and gentle (v 2) is the mark of  MATURITY in a Christian (v 13) Verses 15-16 further explain how the members of the Body of Christ need to be able to work together like parts of our physical bodies so we will not be led astray, but become more like Christ.

A mature marriage (I don’t mean one that has just been in existence a long time; I mean a truly God-grown, mature marriage) can withstand a lot of blows. The roots are strong and the love tanks are full. God has brought you through many crises so it’s easier to believe that He will bring you through this next one.

GOD’S BLESSING

GOD BLESSES unity: Psalm 133: 1-3 How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony… there the Lord has pronounced His blessing, even life everlasting.

When a husband and wife are united–not necessarily share the same opinions on everything, but their life philosophies are in line with one another (both with God’s), marriage is a sweet place. You know what to expect. You’ve learned to read one another and pick up on needs and moods and can respond accordingly. How peaceful!

WITNESS

I believe the most important benefit of unity is back in John 17: so that the world may believe that you have sent me (v 22) and to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (v 23). Believe me, the world knows how Christians are supposed to behave. When we bicker and are ugly and rude to people, that’s not Christ they are seeing.

The news media love to throw around that statistic about Christian marriages ending in divorce as often as non-Christian. (FYI, at our Weekend to Remember conference, one of our speakers said that when the qualifications of regular church attendance and prayer were added to “being a Christian” the number of divorces dropped sharply. I don’t know where he got his figures, but that makes sense.) Remember that the enemy hates marriage, and he especially hates a marriage that honors God and represents His love for His children.

Our world today is more anti-Christian than I’ve ever seen. We must remember that our God is greater than any power on earth, and we are His children, His Body, His representatives. I pray we will be united in showing His love to unbelievers, in ways that will woo them to Him. Please God, don’t let us be ones that push people away.

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Lessons on Marriage from Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey
Are you hooked on Downton Abbey? Like many, I’m smitten! I’ve always loved costume dramas, especially ones where the actors speak with British accents. I’m a lifelong Anglophile and this series feeds my love for England, beautiful homes, and history all in a moving family saga. Well you know Auntie Em– of course I had to look and find examples I could apply to marriage, and find them I did!
(Disclaimer regarding plot spoilers and details– I’ve watched all of Season 1; 3 episodes of Season 2 on DVD; and all 5 episodes of Season 3. I don’t have them recorded so I might misquote something but I’ll get the general idea. ALSO– I do realize it’s only a TV show!)
Downton Abbey Cora and Robert

1. Fight for your marriage.

When we attended the Weekend to Remember marriage conference, the presenter urged the men not to give in to their tendency to be passive at home. Many husbands will fight all kinds of battles at work; identify and solve problems proactively and face issues head on; but at home they withdraw when faced with problems they don’t know the immediate solution for. I used to see this in my marriage. My armchair diagnosis (corroborated by Mr X) says that many men don’t have the relational skill to figure out a solution on their own, and that makes them feel inadequate– and that’s the worst thing a man can feel. There is also the feeling that, bad as things might be now, if you confront them, they might get worse.

FAIL: After Sybil dies, Cora blames Robert. He gives in to her request that he move out of their bedroom and when he tells Mary how much he misses Sybil, she begs him to “tell Mama.” He says, “She doesn’t want to hear it.” Don’t give up without a fight, Robert! In the end, it’s his mother that fights for his marriage. (In Robert’s defense, he has also lost his beloved child. Sometimes you just don’t have the strength to fight!)
PASS: Anna searches tirelessly for evidence that will exonerate Mr. Bates. She moves way outside her comfort zone, involving “the master” and a lawyer, as well as spending some amount of her money to pay the unsavory witness for speaking to her. Her efforts pay off, finally! Lesson to learn: It might take a long time; it might stretch you; it might seem hopeless, but hold out and keep fighting. Your marriage is worth it.
Downton Abbey Matthew and Mary
2. Your primary loyalty is for your spouse, not your parent.
 This is nothing new for regular Auntie Em readers. (Leave and Cleave was one of the most-read posts.) Mary’s love and loyalty to her father are undisputed and a recurring theme.
PASS: As Matthew tries to budge Robert on new ideas about operating the Estate, he needs Mary’s support. “I love my father,” she counters. “Of course you do. But cheer for me.” And later he feels sure he can make his plans work, “Now that you are on my team.”
3. Encourage your spouse to be their best, what God would have them to be.
PASS with an A PLUS: Anna told Mr. Bates she would leave everything and “live in sin” with him if his estranged, conniving wife wouldn’t agree to divorce him. He gently told her, “That’s not the path for you.” I loved him for that!
Downton Abbey Anna and Bates
4. Be honest– Don’t keep secrets.
FAIL: Back in season 1, Robert and Carson got proof that Thomas was a thief. He resigned and so they didn’t have to face the unpleasantness of firing him. But they decided it would be better if Cora didn’t know– so later on, when she arranges for Thomas to return in a position of some authority, it’s rather too late for them to object.

FAIL: Also, when Mary must have a “small operation” to correct a female problem, she doesn’t tell Matthew until it’s over and healed. “That’s why I was putting you off.” Matthew’s response, “I thought you’d gone off me,” is probably what most men think when their wives stop being intimate with them. This could have led to much more serious problems.
I’m sure you can find more examples of passing and failing. If you haven’t watched the series, season 1 is on Netflix instant viewing and Season 2 is on Netflix DVD. They are also all available for purchase. Pour yourself a cup of tea and enjoy!
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These are a Few of My Favorite Things

And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20

Over the Christmas holidays I caught up on LOTS of blog reading– I saw several who were taking part in Ann Voscamp’s 1000 Gifts Joy Dare and thought what a good idea that would be. I ultimately decided that I could so easily become obsessed with “keeping up” that it might do me more harm than good, so instead of counting, I’m working hard on keeping a thankful heart all the time. One evening I looked around my kitchen and took some pictures of some of the things I’m really thankful for, so many gifts that I could spin around and see without taking a step. I am blessed beyond measure.

If you’d like to get in the mood, listen to Julie Andrews sing “My Favorite Things” while you read! From when my kids were tiny, I’d sing this when something bad was happening– shots, sickness, broken hearts, pets dying…

I love dishes and kitchenware! Sis got me this new bowl for Christmas.
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And the amazing thing was how well it went with my Fiestaware (which I also love) that I already had!

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I love a hot cup of Constant Comment tea when I get home from school in the afternoon.

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I love my KitchenAid stand mixer. Mr X got it for me for Christmas about 20 years ago. (Some women don’t like kitchen tools as gifts– not me!)

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I love this dipper. Granny just gave it to us over the holidays. It belonged to Mr X’s great-grandmother and she kept it on a nail by her sink, and everyone who needed a drink of water used it. (People were tougher back then, and viruses were weaker!) He drinks out of it now.

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I love my pantry. After Hurricane Rita we replaced out cabinets and put this in. Thank you Home Depot!

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We also added a built-in buffet and this display cabinet. I have lots of glassware that belonged to my grandmother.

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I love my Lenox Holiday china. For several Christmases Mr X had gotten me a serving piece, then after Christmas in 2007, he bought several dinner and salad plates, plus a platter and vegetable dish, to give me the next year. (on the sly, and at half-price!) In September of 2008 Hurricane Ike hit, and as I was preparing to evacuate (he has to stay since he works for the electric company) and was sinking fast, thinking it was going to be like Rita again, he brought out my Christmas present early to cheer me up. Sis and her husband spent the night with us so we could leave together the next morning, and we ate on it in case our house got smashed.

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I love my Wusthof knives. Another Christmas gift.

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I love coffee in the morning. Mr X fixes it the night before, and sets out my cup and Splenda for me.

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I love our refrigerator memory gallery. That’s my (and the girls’) piano teacher in the upper left with Sis and me, and my mother on the lower left. We get magnets from places we visit.

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I love our little stray cat that adopted us. We call him “Bullet” because he runs around like crazy. He is marked a lot like our black and white cat, Max. I love the way Mr X is such a cat person! Knowing him, you wouldn’t expect it, but he’s a big softie about those cats.

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I love the fact that my girls are crafty. Sunshine made this cake for a baby shower.

sunshine's cake

Sis made these cupcakes for the  birthday party of a friend’s little girl.

And my friends, I love the fact that YOU are reading my blog! I pray for you. I pray that God will give me words to speak, to meet needs.

Look around. See what you love. We have been extravagantly gifted. What are you thankful for today?

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Beauty for Ashes

When Sunshine was in first grade, her school nurse gave her a vision screening and she failed it. We followed up with a professional exam. When it was over, the doctor sent all the kids out into the waiting room, looked me in the eyes and said, “There is a problem…Blah blah… Amblyopia….blah blah… Strabismus… Legally blind in that eye…”

If you are a mother you can understand that I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach and had all the air let out of me.

Visit me at Deep and Wonderful Thoughts to hear “the rest of the story”! It’s part of Lisa’s “Beauty for Ashes” series.

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