Nails that bent

The days are warm for December. We have seen mid 60’s for days. There is almost a caution in the air. Are these lengthy fall temps a treat because Jack Frost will bring us another agonizing winter like last year? There is no reason to dread what is to come. We must just enjoy the day. Relish the moment.

And so I do.

I’ve been working on projects. I realize that my want to do things perfectly leaves me not finishing projects at all. And LORD knows that I am so.crazy.slow. I never rush at anything. When I rush, I make messes. When I move too fast, I fumble.

So, I prefer slow and steady.
And perfect.
I don’t want things done, I want them done well … done right … and with excellence.

Well, ya know what? That kind of pressure has become a standard I have slowly laid aside.
Improvement is better than perfection
and a little speed helps me move on to new things more quickly.
So, there I am on the screened porch with saw, hammer, nails and wood …
cutting and putting together.

I am bracing a line of five or six pieces of wood with a single piece of wood on the back.
The wood on the back is pallet wood which is hard and dry.
The nails move into the wood begrudgingly.
And the last nail … refuses to sink.

It bends. 

And so, I grab another.
And it bends.
And another. and another. and another.
I am almost ready to go find a drill to try another source of penetration.

I realize, I am not paying attention well.
I am quite near a knot.

As I become frustrated, God reminds me,

I’ve already learned this lesson.

Knots are hard, hard places. 


No wonder those nails can’t hold up to the argument of the rock hard wood.
A strong, fibrous, sappy knot is much more difficult to pierce
than the smooth, even grain of the rest of the tree’s wood.

Looking for parallels in the spiritual physical world ....

And I look at my discarded nails
and think of God.
How often does He
try to hold things together for me
with just the right nail …
not too long, not too short ….
just the right size head,
just the right point  …
and I’m so damned hard that
I won’t budge.
I won’t let Him in.
I fight. I squeeze tight. I firm up
and dig in
and REFUSE His carpentry.
He’s working on this wonderful project
bringing together hand-picked pieces  …
and I’m refusing to allow Him to use the pieces to make something lovely.

And sometimes, when things are nearing beautiful ….
there’s a tough spot  … and I walk out.
I abandon the scene.
I leave.

It is always about relationships.
For we are here for community.
We aren’t here to buy a bigger house,
buy a bigger vehicle
get that promotion or raise
or purchase a better phone, television or toy of choice.
We are here … to grow closer to God and love others.
We are here to be a part of relationships.


Honestly, there are so many ways for this to end.
Eventually, God may bring a new nail to the scene and try again.
Or He may bring a new way to pierce my hard-core.
He may even choose to use a screw rather than a nail for better joining.
Or He may … just give up. He may just put the project down and leave me alone.
Because where is the beauty in force?

Oh, how I want to be used.
I want to be supple and easy to pierce.
I want to be available to be used in His projects.
I want to be used to create beautiful … whatever it looks like.
Unconventional. Scrappy. Eclectic. Awkward. Balanced. Messy.
No matter what …. just use me, Lord.
I pray … that I continue to allow Him in.
I pray that I not refuse His choice of elements in the design,
His choice in ways to join together the pieces
or His choice in the final artwork.

And really … I don’t think this life is as much about the final project
as it is about being the being available to be a part of the design.

 

Makes Me Happy Monday: Steel Gray Walls

Joy’s room was the first to be painted when we moved into our home around ten years ago. The pink and orange were bright and cheerful like her bubbly personality. I edged the ceiling with words that fit her well.

But, a few years ago, she began asking to paint her room. The teenager needed to leave behind the gingham and primary colors.

Cutting out the wallsFinding the time to move or cover all of her furniture and clean her baseboards and walls before painting  seemed daunting on top of all of “regular life.”  This job would include painting a light blue ceiling (twice) and also painting the walls.

I told her she could wait until I had a full week to dedicate to it …
or I’d buy the paint and she could tackle it on her own.
I knew she is certainly meticulous enough to do the job well.

Edging the ceiling fan

She chose to take the challenge of doing the job by herself.
I bought her the paint this summer and showed her what to do .  From pink & orange to grayAlmost three days in, she admitted that this was taking a LOT longer than she had expected. But, she worked on it carefully and consistently.

oh the messI was insistent that being careful would pay off. Making messes like this would add work on the “clean up” at the rear. She made a few drippy messes,  but cleaned up behind herself well.

Today, the ceiling is a beautiful, crisp white. white ceiling

The edges of the room are well-defined. She did a great job on trimming out the ceiling, windows and doors.

And the Sharknado, Slash and The Ramones posters are all back up on the wall. Honestly, they look much better up against the dark gray background. Sharknado & Robert Downey JrI love her no-frills, minimalistic decorating style.  She has a closet that is sparsely full, by choice. She has a bookshelf with a turntable and a few guitars that sit out and are used often. Her bedside table is an antique wooden, child’s chair. I can’t seem to talk her into bringing her mattress and box springs up off the floor. Oh well! We choose the battles we fight, don’t we? This isn’t one I’m willing to wage a war over. light and shadow

Walking past her open door makes me miss her during the day. As always, My homeschooling-Mama’s heart will yearn for my kids to be at home learning, living and growing. But, even in her absence, the sight of her room … decorated and painted in a way that pleases her …. brings me comfort and joy.Guitars, skateboards & steel gray wallsNew paint on old walls
makes me very happy today and every day.

What makes YOU happy this Marvelous Monday Morning?

 

Makes Me Happy Monday: Salmon & White & Rose

I’ve seen Christmas cactus plants that are so full of blooms that they appear to have more blooms than greenery. I don’t know why, but my plant has never been like this.

Thanksgiving to Christmas Cactus

For years, it didn’t bloom at all … and when I say years … I mean five or ten or more? I shared my disappointment with my mom and even begged for help here on the blog (back in 2008). And each  year, I learn a little more about how to get my sweet little plant to bloom.

After asking for help, I actually had a few blooms in 2009. Here’s a photo I posted on Facebook that year. I was SO exciting to see blooms on my plant!!

Thanksgiving cactus

I’m proud to say that she blooms more and more beautifully each year.

Thanksgiving to Christmas Cactus

This plant was given to me by my mother. The pot must contain sprigs from several different cactus plants … because it blooms in several colors – a beautiful light pink, a yummy coral and even a few blooms that are white.

My first bloom usually appears around the week of Thanksgiving and continues to flower for several weeks into December.

Thanksgiving to Christmas Cactus

These sweet blooms remind me of my grandmothers and my sweet mother. They remind me of home and childhood and being with family for Christmas.

Lately, I’ve found myself sitting in the chair in the bay window, basking in the sun and just soaking in the beauty of those delicate petals, pistils and stamens.

Thanksgiving to Christmas Cactus

It’s a small thing and these fragile flower’s blooms are fleeting. But, I enjoy them so much.

My blooming Thanksgiving/Christmas cactus brings me such joy!
What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morning?

Practical Pins & Uncolorful Choices

My grandmother, Odessa, was an excellent seamstress. She could sew clothing “from scratch.” She could alter clothing to fit any body. She could identify fabric by touch. And she knew her sewing machine and notions like many people know their kitchen tools … because she used them so often.

I have been sewing forever and ever. I still remember a halter top that I made for myself when I was in 5th or 6th grade. It was made from white material. I embroidered a red heart right in the middle with a simple straight stitch. And I ran a metal choker necklace through the casing at the neck and a ribbon through the casing around my ribcage. I still remember how proud I was that I had created a piece of clothing … by myself! Thinking back, my grandmother lived in another city and we visited every few months … but I don’t know that I ever showed her my halter top. If anyone would have encouraged me in my new sewing adventure, it would have been her.

Though my Mama was a seamstress and I began sewing early, I am not well-trained. What I know about sewing, I have learned by accident or through books. You won’t find me creating clothing with a pattern, notions and fabric. I more enjoy altering and embellishing existing garments or creating things for the home like pillows or curtains.  I am all about zigzag and straight stitching.

About a year ago, I realized that I needed more straight pins. I choose the type that have the brightly colored-plastic balls on the end.  I like to join my work together with pins and pull out the pins shortly before the fabric guides under the sewing needle. I find the round ball heads easier to grasp and remove as I am sewing.Magnetic Pin Cushion Tutorial #DIY #Vintage #Repurposed

But, when pressing my fabric before sewing, those pretty little round balls melt under the heat and pressure of my hot iron. I end up with flattened balls … that sometimes have a rough edge that will catch on certain fabrics. And … sometimes, the plastic heads actually embed themselves into the weave of the fabric.

So, I recently decided to buy a small pack of straight pins that have no ball on the head. They just have a tiny little metal head.   What a difference!! I chose the thinner, longer dressmaker pins. They have a great thin shaft and a super nice point that moves through fabric so smoothly.

But … ya know what?  They don’t look like much sitting there cold and shiny on my magnetic plate pin cushion.

Straight pins

As I was sewing the other day, I thought about how similar this is to life.

Sometimes, what looks cold and uncolorful, is actually very practical and helpful.
And sometimes, what looks colorful and fun … does a very poor job of handling heat and pressure.DSC00253

As that fabric slowly moved between the pressure foot and feed dog,
I began to think about how we will often choose what looks better
over choosing what IS better.

For example, I have a beautiful friend who is dating a man who has skin that does not match hers. In today’s world, biracial dating isn’t shocking …. to many. But, to some people, it is still taboo. It’s true; mixing cultures can be tricky. But, so can mixing families, languages, lifestyles, attitudes or even college loyalties. It depends on the couple as to how tricky the melding may be. They may l.o.o.k  like they don’t fit to some people, but they may actually be an excellent team when paired together. 

Sometimes we choose to live in a house or drive car that represents a monetary worth … that we can’t back. Living that life, brings a financial burden and an emotional struggle that will eventually implode upon itself. So, maintaining the l.o.o.k that the car or home offer may actually cause so much damage to us emotionally or financially that we find yourselves exhausted and drained.

Life is full of messy and change.
Every day brings new decisions about how we will live our life.
The question is: will we live according to our own values and desires …..
or will we let others’ likes and dislikes direct our decisions.
Will we choose what looks better … or what IS better
for ourselves and those in our lives? 

Like Danielle LaPorte’s Truthbomb #623 states….

It helps to be clear on exactly what you’re leaving behind.

If you need, ditch those colorful, bright shiny stick pins
and go with some plain metal straight pins.
Push aside what looks better to others  … for what truly IS better … for you. DSC00255

Makes Me Happy Monday: Cattails

Just before we dipped below freezing, I snipped the last hydrangea blooms from the bush in the front yard. That dear bush came from shoots that sprung up under the huge bush at my parent’s home on Lake Seminole. lake2

And the bush at my parent’s home came from sprigs that they harvested from under my grandma Odessa’s plant.  Every year, my hydrangea offers a few more blooms that it had the year before. And every year, it brings me more and more joy.

The other day, I pulled those crinkly blossoms down from their drying spot and worked them into a little vintage vase. The green in the vase brings out the green in those blooms. Green. The color of summer.

As the light filters through my bedroom window in the afternoon, it reminds me of summer and warmth and my sweet Mama, Odessa. My Grandmother, Odessa's Hydrangea blooms

Last night, I found myself at Kroger… buying groceries to tip my fuel points on over by another hundred dollars so I can earn another .10 off my gas next month. I have a friend who really works the Kroger fuel points gift and I’m learning to do the same. Saving .40-.50 cents per gallon for up to 35 gallons sounds like a wonderful thing to me! I only have one vehicle so I pump my vehicle full and then fill my plastic gas tanks with the rest of the 35 gallons (the savings is only good for a single purchase).  Benjamin Franklin was right. A penny saved is a penny earned.

As I’m making my way to the checkout, I passed a discounted floral buggy and saw there were cattails waiting to be taken home by my lucky soul. The sight of them almost made me swoon. So many emotions are attached to cattails …. the calmness of water, serenity found when camping beside a lake and a strong mooring and balance that I feel when I’m at my parent’s peaceful home by the water. “Please come with me,” I thought as I reached for a few bunches.

For $2.97, I took home three little bouquets of fall beauty that will make me happy for ages.  Cattails

I was going to hang them upside down and let them dry out slowly in a dark corner, but decided I’d arrange a few so I could watch their autumn goodness turn. These partially green stems will soon drift to brown.

Cattails in vintage pitcher

Left untouched, they will molt their downy stalk, but sprayed with hair spray and kept in low humidity, the flower will stay tight for ages.

Cattails

So, I tucked a few into some florist foam stuffed down inside a vintage pitcher and sat it upon a cubby-hole sideboard that I created for my dining room.

Cattails - a gift

Bringing remnants of autumn into the house makes me so happy. Days are fleeting. Time continues to pass. Every chance I find to bring the outdoors in, the more peace I feel inside my home.

Bringing the outdoors in …. extending the season of autumn …. soothing life’s bumpy edges with nature …. these are good and wonderful and beautiful things to me. They make me so happy.

What about you? What makes you happy this marvelous Monday morning?

Magpie Jacket

I have had this denim jacket for several years. I’m pretty sure I picked it up at Goodwill … so … it probably cost me around $5.00.  As much as I like the upholstery-styled edge, it seemed to lack pizzazz. The other day, I thought how nice it would be if I added a little more pattern to it (like my kleenex box cover,  bird cage jacket  and sewing machine cover). So, I pulled out my bits-and-pieces box of fabric and began cutting out squares and rectangles.

Laying out fabric squares/rectangles

I layered these pieces of varying fabric patterns over the muted paisley pattern of the existing fabric and added some buttons and a few tiny doilies.
Magpie jacket

Along the shoulder line, I added a line of fabric, as well. I picked this fabric up at a yard sale and it has been SO MUCH FUN!

Back view of my magpie jacket It unravels in a beautiful way. So, I ran a 1/4″ piece of upholstery fabric along the middle with a nice zig-zag stripe. This should keep it from unraveling completely, but allows it to fray deep.
My fray-stop techniqueI added a merpy little face at the back left just for fun. She looks quirky and fun. She’ll be at eye-level for small children. I’m sure they’ll probably notice her silly face … which makes me giggle. We all need to see silly faces a little more often!

A merpy little face on the back of the jacket. <3

And this may very well be my favorite square. I adore this little button. It’s rough and tumble with a little texture and a little curve. I just think it’s completely fun, nestled there in that fabric hole.

Maybe my favorite square on the whole jacket? Love that little button.

The cuffs are trimmed just like the base of the jacket … with lots of different fabric patterns.  These fabric pieces are all edged to allow some fraying but not TOO much. I want them to age well and settle into a comfortable, tattered look.

My magpie jacket

I think it took me about two to three hours to choose, cut, place and sew this embellishment project. But, it was so much fun to create … the time just flew by.

A full row of texture and pattern. *swoon

Which of course, brings me to my hope for you. What makes time fly for you? What do you LOVE to do? What is that thing that makes your spirit soar and your face light up? What brings you great joy and satisfaction? I hope you’re able to find time to do THAT a little bit this weekend. And if you can, find a way to gift that for the holidays. Use your talent … your gift … to bless others! It will increase the value of your gift and the joy you will find in giving it.

Have a beautiful weekend, friends.

 

Magpie Scarf

I enjoy scarves, but haven’t found many that I really, truly love.
Since I have such a fascination with mixed fabrics,
I decided to make myself a scarf that I would adore. Recycled Strip Magpie Scarf
In the same fashion as my magpie-styled curtains (here), I pulled out lots of black, white and gray fabrics from my fabric repository and cut them into strips. Then I joined them together with lots of ragged stitching … straight and zig-zag with strings left long on each end of stitching.

These fabrics are full of memories. The white and gray floral is a remnant from a gorgeous blanket that Glory made for Nina not so long ago.  That pretty plaid is an old shirt that belonged to James. And the tiny white flowers on a dark gray background is the fabric used to create the bow ties that James wore in his best friend’s wedding. I’m pretty sure that Stacia (here) made those ties for Michael’s men. (Stacia is such an incredible girl!! If you’re looking for a wedding planner, she’s uber-talented and so wonderful! Consider hiring her or recommending her. And click over to see the fabulous photos of her personal wedding ceremony by Sarah Becker Photography here. I still can’t look at those photos without crying. The day was magic, I tell you … pure magic with pixie dust, swirling stars and hidden fairies. It had God all over. I felt like I was on the set of a Disney movie being filmed.) 

I think my favorite part about piecing together clothing and curtains is looking at all the history that weaves together into something new and special. Each item is like an antique quilt that tells a story. It just moves me.

Magpie Scarf

Then I wove them through a fantastic wide-weave scarf that I picked up at Target about a year ago.

Magpie Scarf
To make it softer and more snuggly, I ran a string of wonderful fuzzy yarn between each strip of fabric.

There are large and tiny antique buttons hidden along the scarf for extra interest.
And the strips are left raw so they’ll fray with wear. Isn’t it pretty? I just love it!

I love the way it feels, too! It is so soft …. like cashmere!

IMG_7538

I know it will be warm and comfy throughout the winter and will work well with so many different jackets and outfits.

I use Fridays to share the latest creation that I am delving into
with the idea in mind to encourage you to find the thing that gives you energy.
Creating takes me to a place where time stands still. I could sew or paint or create
for h.o.u.r.s
and find that the time has passed like minutes.
What activity does that for you? Where do you find yourself lost in enjoyment?
I hope you’ll give that some thought
and pour yourself into that activity for a bit this weekend.
Find time to nourish yourself.
And if you won’t have time this weekend, make time during the week.
It’s hard to do sometimes … especially for those of us that are mamas.
I know it’s even more difficult for those of us that wear the Single Mom cape.
But, it’s so very, very important to make time to nourish yourself.
Get enough sleep. Submit to the slowing down of winter. Rest.
Eat foods that are good for your body. Hydrate. Nourish.
Spend time with people that feed your spirit. Set boundaries from others.
Figure out what activities make you happy.
And do them.

Have a lovely weekend, friends.

 

 

 

 

 

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