Monday, March 17, 2014

23rd birthday

Thank you, thank you, all you sweet people who wished me a happy birthday! I feel so ashamed that I don't do a better job of that myself. It's been a lovely day, inside & out, here & there. My feet want to dance:).
 I got some mysterious packages in the mail last week & blatantly expecting them to be birthday gifts, I made myself wait to open them til *cough cough* yesterday. They were, in fact, birthday gifts (good thing, huh?). My sister sent a crafty little package via Connecticut. I have been following this set of sisters' blogs for years now & I'm very excited to have some of their latest product! The yarn is beautiful & I'm planning to knit a sweet little something for any (or all!) of the THREE (SQUEAL OF EXCITEMENT!) babies coming this summer.
 This book from my dear mother is joining my ever-growing collection of photo-filled cookbooks. I confess: I totally choose cookbooks by their cover. The sweet little jars below are curtesy of another sister. Her son wasn't sure they were a good birthday gift. Boys, sigh. They just don't get the cute-little thing.
And last, but not least, here is my sweet husband's contribution to the festivities. I've told him that I'd rather have an arrangement he picked himself than a purchased one. He listened:). This morning he made me go back to bed & ordered me to sleep in...then I found coffee & a note waiting for me (when I did finally stir my stumps), that I was not to make lunch today. We had Thai Dish instead. Yum!

 In all seriousness, I do feel so unworthy of all the fine friends & dear family I have. I pray that you will all be blessed for being so wonderful & kind! And thank you for making my 23rd birthday something special.

Monday, March 10, 2014

largeness of heart

I don't think I would describe myself as being big-hearted. I'd like to be. But I don't think I can claim that attribute yet. It's so easy for me to be selfish. My time is usually spent on me, doing things I like to do. I like to be comfortable. And contentment is an everyday battle. To someone looking in from the outside, I'm sure I oughta be slapped for my ungratefulness. I have it all: a lovely home, a sweet, handsome husband, a closely-knit, AWESOME family, no worries about where our next meal's coming from, a stable church, a promised home in heaven, I could go on & on & on.
In a sermon recently, I was struck by something I'd never heard before. And I've been exposed to the Bible my whole life. In I Kings 4:29, besides gaining wisdom & much understanding from God, Solomon was also granted largeness of heart, even as the sands of the sea. Being wise sounds nice, but having largeness of heart appeals to me even more.
I'm not sure what having largeness of heart is exactly. And is it one of those spiritual gifts that God just gives us & we are obligated to exercise it or is it one of those goals to work towards by making effort & dipping into God's supply of grace? I do not claim to be good at it. And my latest attempts at having largeness of heart are puny & I hope I'm not coming across self-righteously. But here they are anyway.

Dar's cousin's family moved into a fixer-upper last summer & it's been a long process of rennovating, shifting things from one room to another, living in a few rooms til everything's completed. In the middle of all this, they had a baby six weeks early & dealt with major health concerns & a long recovery time for mom. I've babysat a few times to try & help out (and honestly, I need something to do besides selfish crafts & baking). I had two of their girls over to my house a couple times now & it's been entertaining both times. We have tea parties--I drink tea, they drink hot chocolate, paint, color, bake, change outfits frequently, model my embarrassingly large scarf collection, play "sunday school" (this game is my favorite. It's hilarious to see what 5-year olds pick up. And what they think the verses to songs really are), & read books. To have them over doesn't really feel like I'm doing all that much; I enjoy it, & I've been so welcomed by their family, I feel it's a small way to repay them. But I suspect that's probably how God intends largeness of heart to feel. Not like a chore at all.

(Notice the variety of outfits: these were all taken the same day.)

Today I was on my way home from my very first Senior Center art class(!!), & I drove past a man with a beat-up van & "need gas money for Bend" sign. Dar & I have talked about how we should handle these situations. I always feel so guilty driving past, but I don't know if giving money is the best way to help either. Then I think, "Who am I to judge what they do with their money? God is only requiring that I am loving & kind & give a cup of cold water in His name." But then, I've been advised by people at the local homeless shelters that the best thing I can do is to send them on the homeless shelter to get some long-term help. So Dar & I decided we'd give money Bible. (Which is still kind of just a way to relieve our guilt...) Anyway, I'd driven past the man with his sign, & started feeling guilty. I remembered largeness of heart, even as the sands of the sea. So I turned around & asked if I could fill his gas tank. He told me I could, so I did. And I gave him a Bible & clumsily tried to explain that I didn't do it because I was a good person: I did it because Christ is living in me. This man said he believed. He said we all had to be created by something. I wondered the rest of the way home if I'd really done anything at all. It wasn't much. He might've gotten to Bend on the gas I bought him, but then what?

And then, I remembered a thought that had been lingering in my mind from a few Monday musings ago: "Do what you can, where you are. Just do what you can."

I hope I did. And I hope this man knew I didn't do it because I want people to think I'm good. But because God's given me largeness of heart.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

signs of spring & other news

In the Midwest, spring usually starts in late March & by late May, summer is ready to take off. Here in Oregon, to my amazement & sheer delight, the crocuses & daffodils were poking their heads up in February.  I had fresh flowers gracing my windowsills weeks ago (to the chagrin of my sisters). My in-laws are talking garden. The farmers are gearing up again. The natives gently cautioned my exuberance at this by saying, "Spring might come earlier here, but it lasts forever." They get a little tired of the rain & soppy ground after months of it. By June, spring can still be taking it's sweet time to relinquish its wet & blooming hold over to summer. (I have been told this anyway.) I'm trying to temper my spirit & not get too excited too fast & burn out on this lovely little gift of flowers & warmth & sunshine so much earlier than I'm used to...
But then I think, "Why should I?" I'll waste my excitement now. And summer will come someday. I will most likely have moments where I tire of hearing the ground slurp at my pink rainboots (it does! I had no idea how saturated a land can be for so long!), & I want just a day of pure sunshine instead of this moody, shifting dance of sun & clouds, & the daffodils start drooping & I don't even notice, & I forget what winter was like, but until then, I'll bask in a Pacific Northwest spring. 

 Dar asked if we could have a picnic lunch the other day. Um, yeah! Reason #54 why I love this man. (Isn't my picnic basket sweet! Goodwill find.)

Other news & updates:

My aunt Shelly & uncle Ray were out here this past weekend. That was lovely to have some faces from Illinois. We had them & some other relatives over for dinner Sunday, then spent more time with them at Uncle Lynn & Aunt Marilyn's last night. Keep the visitors coming!

I am in a waiting period for a job:/. I have very mixed feelings about jobs.
        #1: I don't really want one because I love my flexible schedule & free time.
        #2: I really want one because I'm starting to feel a little worthless at home all the time.
I get very frustrated at times because after 2 months of applying & looking, absolutely nothing has worked out. Actually, that's not true. I am going to be teaching a drawing class at a Senior Center nearby once a week starting this Thursday. (Yay! I am excited about this, but it's very part-time & very temporary. I'll be right back to square one come Aprtil.) Dar has been very patient with me & listened to all my harebrained creative schemes (sell macarons! design/sell my own cards! be a photographer! take floral design classes! sew aprons & sell them!). I've slowly & somewhat grudgingly accepted that I probably won't be able to jump right into something of that nature, but will maybe have to take a desk job for a while & phase into something like that. Sigh. Sometimes I hate being practical & realistic. But, I know God has a big, beautiful plan for my life, & so I've taken some action forward in the *shudder* desk job department, & now feel as though He's just asking me to wait.

I have started painting a mural for my brother & sister-in-law's nursery. It's the first time I've ever tackled a painting this large & it's been fun & time-consuming so far. I can't wait for this little baby--it will be my first nibling out here! Between this one & two of my sisters in Illinois, I'll be an aunt three times over in the course of a month! Woot!

A lady from church, who is also an artist, asked me to come & help her out at an art class she hosts for the high-schoolers from church. I enjoyed that (& they claim they did, too!) so hopefully I'll be able to repeat that class as well.