My garden’s summer, in photos.

It was a kind of ‘off’ summer here for us in Germany. Not really a lot of sunshine, plenty of rain, and off and on hot spells followed by chilly days for this time of year. We’ll find out if this is normal. So I’m kind of closing up shop on our garden early; it was a good experience, and we enjoyed it. Looking forward to doing a better job with it next year. Enjoy the photo story:

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The second lesson learned, ha ha

Or – what NOT to do when you are going to have a birthday party…in your back yard.

I told you all I’d fill you in on the mess story. Well here it is:

telephone conversation, Friday at noon:

Me: “Love, I’m going to mow the lawn, but I want it a little shorter than you did it last week.”

My husband: “Okay, if you just do it how I did though, you don’t have to put the catcher on. But if you go shorter, you’ll have to attach the bag and catch the grass.”

Lawn mowed. Decision? shorter. Method? bagless. Result?

GRASS EVERYWHERE….

later that day….

My husband: “What happened? I thought I told you if you did it shorter, you’ll have to use the bag.”

Me: “oops…well, I used the bag the last 3 rows, does that count?”

30 minutes later – I’m raking up grass. 24 hours later – there is grass in the yard, grass on the kids, grass on my floor, grass in the kitchen…. you get the picture 🙂

But the cool part about this, remember how I said in the birthday story that I asked God to help me not be upset with the mess? Well, I didn’t get upset at all. But I did learn a valuable lesson.

If you’re going to cut your yard-y, don’t do it the day before a party.

Or….details in directions can be life saving….

😉

Or…actually listen to your husband (I didn’t want to admit that one)

A Backyard Birthday Party Camp Out – and a lesson

We just celebrated my daughter’s 10th birthday! Can’t believe she’s growing so much. And I am growing still too. Even having a birthday party for her was a life lesson, and here’s my story about that.

DSCN0768So I have to admit first of all, I was not excited to throw a birthday party for her. My heart was completely in the wrong place. I didn’t want to do a bunch of work, any decorating, and especially didn’t want to make a cake or clean up from what ‘birthday party’ entails. So friday, on my way to the store, I called a friend to pray with me about my bad attitude in general, over all the ‘disappointments’ I was currently (mentally) facing. Now, I want you to know, I can honestly admit that my ‘problems’ are much more like slight irritations – life is good right now. No major bumps, losses, or tragedies. Instead, I’m just bummed I probably don’t get to travel to Italy this next month, I have to consider letting go of some of my ‘expectations’ for the school year, and I have a daughter who wants an awesome birthday party (understandable, 10 is a big year).

After shopping though, I prayed again for God to make my attitude correct about this party – that it wouldn’t be to spoil my daughter, but show her how much God loves and cares about her. That I wouldn’t be doing things to ‘show off’ what cool parents we are, but that our activities, food, games, etc would just also be an extension of how Jesus wants to share and bless people. And that I wouldn’t flip out about messes, but be gracious and laid back. (funny story about that – oh, I’ll get into it later)

So Saturday morning came, with no other preparations taken care of on my part than buying food and borrowing the neighbor’s fire pit (and by his offer, not my request, some paper lamps I could use to decorate if I wanted. But you remember, I had no intention of decorating, I was just barely coming around to going the extra mile for this party). And I decided to go jog with my neighbor before I did anything else; but on our run, I shared with her the chorus to a song I’m working on –

I will praise You, even when the sun won’t shine

And I’m kinda tired of tryin’

But You’re always by my side

So I will praise You, even when I cannot feel

The happiness that says You’re real

‘Cause Who You are is more than all the ups and downs of life…

And when I got home, God started turning my day around. The ‘outside of me’ better attitude that started to begin the day before began to pour into my actions. (now, I just wish it had filtered out to what I was wearing…until further notice, for the reader’s understanding, know that I was in my stinky jogging sweats; and I never go out in my stinky work out clothes…except that day…for some reason…okay I’ll let you get back to the story).

At 10 am, I ran out with my husband to return a friend’s car and pick up tikki torches. We raced back home to straighten up and get out tents, and I went to work (with some helpers very excited for the day’s events) on making cupcakes for 30 people, baking potatoes to go with the sausages and brats, and….yes, decorating (the ‘help’ needed a bit of help every 2 minutes to re-open the paper lanterns; tricky little things, the next step was my idea – two birds with one stone….if you’re a mom, you get the point). My daughter and her two neighbor friends made a “Happy Birthday” banner, and then the friends went home to get ready for the party. Continue reading

Silence

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 Ludwisburg palace garden, fall 2013

 

 

Silence. Not to be confused with Emptiness. Although when you search the world wide web, the differences in opinion on this subject are so varied; and unfortunately, so much of what I read when I did such a search mixed these two ideas in a mentality that seemed to say: The most benefit you get from silence is when you allow your mind and soul to be empty, without thought, and just let the silence wash over you. Well, I have to tell you, the more I thought about it and read and contemplated these two, I actually find them to not mix so well. And I’ll tell you why.

Lately, I’ve been really seeking out some silence and solitude. It’s been a busy couple of weeks. A lot is going on, and I find myself just searching for places to be quiet and alone, no background noise, no people talking, not even music to add to the stillness I am looking for. And I am very much about the meaning of words – so when I found myself needing silence, I wanted to know what it means.

Silence is: the absence of sound. Stillness (which is free from sound, free from disturbance, or free from commotion). A period of time without speech or noise.

So as a wife, mom of 2, homeschool mother/teacher, volunteer, and all the other smaller hats I tend to wear, I understood now why my mind and soul were needing this time of still, undisturbed down-time. You can probably relate – and possibly are more busy and it need of it than I am! The old adage, “Silence is golden” can really ring true for many people. And this ‘gold’ can be hard to come by 🙂 As I’m typing this, I happen to be at the Romantischer Winkel Hotel with a beautiful relaxing time of stillness as I look out on the lake below and my children are off playing at their amazing kids play room. But I have found that there are people who avoid silence without even realizing it sometimes. The tv is always on in the background, or music is constantly playing from the computer or radio, or their smart phone never leaves their side with it’s constant interruptions of emails, facebook notices, and twitter nudges (kind of like a kid who pulls at your sleeve every 2 minutes to tell you something). Why do people do this? Maybe because the silence brings to their attention a different kind of quiet, which is more like emptiness.

Emptiness is: a void, nothing, vacant. Lacking purpose or substance. Meaningless.

I don’t know about you, but I see a large opposition here between these often associated words. Silence instead can have a purpose. Now, silence can be good or bad. If we turn to silence when we are supposed to speak out – either on behalf of ourselves or injustice done to others. But equally wrong are times we speak when we should keep silent. But when we find and use silence properly, we gain rest and sometimes direction. A biblical example of this is when Elijah was running for his life, and God shows him the power of silence. Read for yourself the entire story in 1 Kings 19. When I read about God revealing Himself through a still small voice, it makes me realize the value of silence in my life. How can I hear Divine direction if I am always busy with noise and activity? It’s hard to hear when there is so much commotion going on around me. I need silence for this.

I mentioned that often silence is connected with emptiness. I must say, most of what I read connected these two in an eastern religion type of way – and recommend to people to ’empty your mind’ in the silence. But I have a different suggestion. What if we were to ‘fill the silence’ with quiet waiting and meditation? Purpose and reason, and not mindless emptying that is so hard to achieve?

Here are some practical things you can do to get comfortable with silence, seek it out, and make it meaningful:

1) turn off the…everything. Go to a park. the woods. somewhere alone.

2) don’t talk; reflect and wait. What can you reflect on?

God – Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God.”

Reflect on what He has said: Psalm 119:15-16 says “I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word.”

Also, repose when you are angry and upset (Psalm 4:4): “Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.”

Lastly, in silence, fill it with these thoughts (Philippians 4:8): “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy – meditate on these things.”

And no matter what kind of time you are having, whether it’s with others and loud and fun, or getting alone and soaking in the silence, make Psalm 19:14 your prayer:

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”