Tuesday, February 14, 2017

what I've learned about love and forgiveness...

If I wrote a post for Valentine's Day about what I've learned about love, it would be short and boring to most because the most important thing I've learned about love is that it is all about forgiveness.

If I wrote a post for Valentine's Day about what I've learned about marriage, you'd roll your eyes and smirk, thinking to yourself "what does she know about marriage? she's been divorced three times!"

So this is a post about love and forgiveness and marriage because without the first two you probably won't have a marriage that lasts or one that is happy. Everything I know about love came when I was able to forgive. Everything I know about being able to forgive came when I realized I was forgiven.

Love is much different as you get older than what you might think it is when you are in your teens and twenties (or thirties, and maybe even in your forties). Love when you are young is easily confused with that tingly sensation you get when your crush is around.

Here is a secret about love ... it won't start physically. Oh, you might get those butterflies in your stomach, and feel your face flush, maybe even get a faster pitter-patter in your heart.

But love, real love, grows over time.

It is a conscious decision to fall in love all over again day-after-day. It is a conscious decision to forgive ... and to be forgiven.

Love means making choices like forgiving someone you love even when you still feel hurt or angry. It can also mean making hard choices sometimes like walking away and not looking back, even if just for a little while. They don't call it tough love because it is easy.

It means standing by those decisions in the face of everything that others might say. It means sometimes getting out of God's way to let Him make the changes that you can't because the only person you will ever be able to change is yourself, and the sooner you realize that, the happier you and your marriage will be.

Here is a truth about marriage ... it isn't between you and "everyone else." It is between you, the one you love, and God. There may be someone else who has been through what you are going through, but there isn't anyone who has been through what you are feeling.

What I have learned about love and forgiveness and marriage, is that there will be mistakes made. Things said that weren't meant the way they were heard. Things that were done that shouldn't have been.

There will be times when you wonder what you are doing here ... or there ... now ... or then. And the truth is that there are no easy answers, no easy love, no easy forgiveness, and no easy marriages.

Marriages take work, commitment, communication, honesty, forgiveness, hugs, tears, dancing in the kitchen, late night hugs, reaching out in the dark and holding a hand.

They take faith, hope, desire, dreams, pain, sacrifice, compromise, road trips, laughter, messy hair, and smelly socks.

Marriages take patience, learning, growing, giving, taking, adventures, flowers, burnt cookies, and cleaning up after sick pets, children, or each other.

They aren't always pretty, they aren't always fun. They aren't the glamor of Hollywood or the ugliness of reality TV.

But when you find love and forgiveness, you figure out how to make it work. Because a marriage built with love and forgiveness ... is a marriage worth fighting for, working for, risking for, and giving it all for.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

January creative ...

January was a busy month. Going back to work tried to cramp my creative, but didn't. These are a few of the projects I worked on, and some of my creative cooking (no one died!). Learned some things from my projects, some were wins and others not so much.

Charlie wasn't really impressed with a collar I cut off an old shirt, but I loved how cute he looked.

My upcycled jeans memo board turned out fun. I may look for an old leather belt to add or may make a macrame one. The snowflake on the right is one that diffuses oils, and I love being able to write while feeling lifted by the scent of citrus.

I've been on a caramelized onion kick and have been adding them to almost everything (when I wasn't eating them just as they are!).  I made cabbage and sausage for the first time and it turned out delish! Next time I will cook the cabbage with a ham bone I saved from a spiral baked ham we bought.

Speaking of which ... my husband doesn't like the honey glaze that comes with some hams, so I didn't use it on the ham. However, I did save it, put it in an empty spice jar, added more white sugar and mixed it up. I use it in place of sugar and cinnamon on buttered toast and added it in place of just plain white sugar for a bread recipe I threw into the $6 breadmaker we found at the thrift store. Just enough spice to make it smell yummy, but not overwhelming in taste.


I finally got my crocheted coaster finished and loved how it came out. It is an easy enough project that I can do when watching a movie or just relaxing (as long as I hide the yarn and sequin thread from a tiny rotten kitten!).

I've also been adding soups to a lot of meals.
  • Shepherd's Pie: added a can of condensed Golden Mushroom soup, but think next time I will use Cream of Celery soup and add mushrooms.
  • Stuffing: added Golden Mushroom soup and reduced some of the water needed for the stuffing.
  • Chicken & Rice: (hubby's favorite!) added Cream of Celery soup and mushrooms to the rice while it was cooking.
And I made Scotch Eggs for the first time (yum!)!

Mom mentioned that she liked a brooch I sent her her at Christmas, so I made her one to send for next Christmas. I'm going to make earrings to match, but need to find an old pair of clip-on ones that I can cannibalize for the clip. The gold berries are balls of glow-in-the-dark glitter glue on gold sequins.

I found also in my cooking creativity, that sometimes throwing an unexpected spice into a recipe can be all that it needs to take it over the top.  I added cinnamon to my chili this month, and it gave it a smokey edge that made it taste amazing!


I've been keeping little slivers of soap stashed in a scrubby mitt and finally decided to melt them all down into new bars of soap.  Threw in a little bit of olive and coconut oils to help with my winter skin.  I'll let them sit for a few days and then put them in muffin papers and a zip-lock bag.

As much as I hate living in this dungeon ... it seems to have given me a creative thought process that is running 1000mph 24/7/365.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Stress Free with Plan Be

It may be a Danish way of life in the winter, but it is becoming my new way of living day-to-day.

I've always tried to have a Plan B for most things, but I've realized that sometimes it is better to have a Plan Be. To let some things just "be."

That may mean to let go of things that take too much energy, especially those that are negative energy or to just be content with the way other things are. Unchanged. Unstressed. Uncomplicated.

It may mean being creative, especially in the kitchen when I've realized that I don't have all the ingredients for something I wanted to make for dinner, or creating something new with what is on hand.

It means choosing to be happy, as much as we possibly can, without letting the negative words, actions, and emotions of those who are outside of our lives here have an impact on that decision.

I'm choosing to not let things stress me out this year by having a plan "be." 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

creating love in a new year

I've given up on writing out a list of resolutions that will make me feel guilty before the end of February. Instead, I've been working on setting goals. Short. Achievable. Things to check off in my new bullet journal ~ another new habit & goal that I'm setting for myself this year ~ and I've chosen my word for 2017.
I think for most people, 2016 was a year that everyone was glad to see over and gone. So much anger and hatred over the elections. So many deaths by terrorist activities, whether they were claimed by ISIS or not, I view any action done to cause terror, injury, and death as being done by terrorists. So many senseless abuses to children or animals that I've stopped even looking at the news.

I started the year with a lot of hope that was quickly smashed and by the end of September was just a lot of discouragement and disappointment. Gratefully, the last three months of the year gave me hope again and we were blessed tremendously.

Create can mean so many things, and this year I want it to mean all of them. 
I want to be able to create (with love) a home for us here in Wisconsin or wherever God plants us next.
I want to work with a new craft medium each month (learning new things) to create (with love) gifts and cards for next Christmas or other special occasions.
I want to create in the kitchen, baking (with love) for the holidays again like I did many years ago, and using German Christmas cookie recipes my Grandmother passed down to me from her own mother.
I want to let my words create another book (Winter Bear), and also update my first book (My Best Friends Have Hairy Legs) for a look at the last ten years of lessons that life and marriage have thrown at me.
I want to create cards again with some of my photos from the past three+ years, and maybe even enlarge some of my photos and mount them on canvas or wood.

This month, I am absolutely in love with [felted brooches and earrings]. (thank you, Pinterest!). I had ideas for my Mom(s), sisters, friends, and was just scribbling all kinds of ideas on a list.  I was super excited to find a website for the Ashland Art Center that offered classes in felting, as well as ceramics, painting, and other fun artsy fartsy projects. I signed up for their email newsletters and class schedules ...

... and then I realized it was in Ashland, OREGON.

Fortunately, between Pinterest, YouTube, and other websites, I think I will be able to learn how to felt without having to fly across the country four times a month. 
In February, I want to use [polymer clay] and not something to be fired a kiln. My goal is to upcycle as much as possible with [old sweaters, jeans, fabrics, empty glass jars, etc.]. When I do need to buy, I want to shop at $ stores or Goodwill. 

In addition to choosing a word for the year, my motto is going to be "making more with less."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

overlooking the cracks

Dysfunctional family movies were always my favorites during the holidays once I became an adult. They were the ones I could relate the most, especially after my parents divorced. 

Every family has faults. It's part of what makes us all human. You might joke that they are the black sheep of the family. Loose nut. Bad apple. Rotten egg. Eccentric. 

Unique.  
Unfortunately, some of the faults become fault lines. Lines in the sand. Fences. Walls. Estranged. Call them what you will, they all mean the same thing.

Distance.

Holidays are harder when you know something is broken in a relationship with someone. Right or wrong, it will either make us long for the relationship that was, or the relationship that it could have been.
Sometimes those relationships have become so fractured that there isn't any going back, there won't be any clean slates or do-overs. For whatever reason the relationship broke in the first place, that isn't always a bad thing.
But one of the reasons that we, as Christians, celebrate the birth of Jesus is because we did get a do-over. We did get a clean slate. We were forgiven, and that is a powerful thing to realize. Especially on our darkest days.

The forgiveness that we were given was for us. The forgiveness that we can give others is because we were forgiven. It may not make a difference in your relationship with them. But it will make a difference in your relationship with Him.

it's the little things...

The holidays can sometimes implode on us as we rush to make them perfect memories for everyone at the dinner table or around the tree. Because we are so focused on the big things, it is so easy to overlook all the little things that can make them the memories we hold closest to our heart.
The reverse is also true. When we let one little mistake like a burnt pie, forgotten gift, or lost directions become blown out of proportion, it is the larger meltdown that remains in memories the longest.
The memories that continue to make us smile years after the holiday has passed won't be the perfect ham or pie. They won't be the perfect gift wrap or the ornaments and lights that matched your decor. They won't remember the cost, or name brand, or upscale store you shopped at.
The memories will be of the love that was felt, the laughter shared, and often the simplest, handmade, or thought out gifts that show how well you know them. It will be the second-hand book that you remembered they loved reading when they were younger but hadn't read in ages. The candy their great-grandmother made with a recipe passed down from mother to daughter for generations.
Make these holidays worth remembering.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

things i learned in ...

i have been slacking on my posts, and have not shared my lessons learned since August. that isn't to say that i haven't learned anything. quite the contrary.
September ... mostly sucked
yeah. that was harsh. but so was September. my husband was in Florida most of the month spending time with family and seeing his father whose health is not good. the other part of the month i came face-to-face with some of the devil's minions. it was a month of the self-inflicted reopening of old wounds.
there were some uncomfortable lessons in all that. i thought i had a grip on trust and faith. i learned that i didn't. i thought i had forgiven some things and let them go. i learned that i hadn't. i thought that i had control over my emotions, especially my anger and resentment. i learned that i had no control over anything and that the only way i would ever be happy would be to let go and let God be in control. i had to go back to square one for some of the things that i thought i had dealt with and hold myself to some humble accountability.
~ * ~
October ... a month of miracles
the miracle of life. simply amazing. unbelievable. and beautiful. the lesson? gently rubbing mama cat's belly while she is having contractions can be very relaxing and stress-relieving for her. but you better get your hands, arms, and face away from her when she actually starts to pop one of those babies out. i helped my pug have puppies back in the early 90's and it was at the opposite end of the danger scale from a mama cat having kittens. i was misled into believing that all animal pregnancies would be so laid back and chill. if ever a next time? renting a hockey goalie's uniform!
it was also a month of some really big, God-sized miracles. from the moment we set foot in Ashland, God was opening doors, making way, and moving some of what felt like mountains in our path. this is without a doubt where we are meant to be. i was talking yesterday about the journey we've been on to get here, and how sometimes we have to wonder why things are so hard.
this is what i have learned: most of the time things are hard because we are reluctant to really let go and trust that God knows best. we want to run from where He leads us because we think we know ourselves better. to that, i can only say, really? do you know the number of hairs on your head? He does. we sometimes try to take the easy way, and all it ever does is just take us longer to get where we were meant to be. part of the journey, especially when we are trusting the path that He has chosen for us, is to make us ready for what we will need to do when we get there.
consider this... (and forgive me if it seriously dates me) if you were down one run in the first game of the World Series, bottom of the ninth inning, two outs, and the tying run on 1st base, who are you gonna send up to bat? me? or Kirk Gibson? (and just to be totally transparent in your decision making, i flunked p.e. in jr. high. more than once.)
God already knows the outcome of the game. He already knows who wins. but he is still going to want to put the player with the most experience and with a better chance of hitting a home run. even if that player already has two injured legs. Kirk didn't become the better player because he took the easy way. he became the better player because he had faith when times were hard.
~ * ~
November ... had some prickly times
November started with lots of exciting news, including a job offer for a bright, shiny, dream job. that i turned down later in the month. sometimes bright and shiny is just a distraction from what you are really supposed to be doing.
it was our six year anniversary. and it was a month where i stepped away from a job ghostwriting for someone else because i wanted to write under my own name. it was also a month of spiritual attacks and amazing blessings.
what did i learn? i learned that integrity is more important than money. i learned that dreams can come true any time and anywhere. and i learned that sometimes what may feel like a sacrifice for what someone else wants, can be a blessing in disguise.

Monday, November 28, 2016

one who dreams, or one who creates

events these past two months have left me a little amazed. i can understand political passion. i understand religious passion. something i am having difficulty grasping, however, is the extreme passions associated with our recent elections. i don't understand it.

i watched the majority of all the debates, at least until the presidential debates began to resemble 3rd graders name calling in the cafeteria just before slinging mashed potatoes at each other. the debate i was most impressed with was the vice presidential debate where someone finally spoke with a voice of reason.

i don't entirely blame the presidential candidates for their immature behavior because i know most of it was created and fed by the media. some of the trash they pulled up on Trump was from the 80's and early 90's and i have to wonder ... was everything the naysayers did 20-30-40 years ago completely faultless? are there videos, pictures, or comments they are glad no one has found?

apart from the Kennedys ~ a family groomed for political office from the time they were conceived (and even they had their black sheep and skeleton in the sunken automobile) ~ not many people grow up knowing they were going to be president one day.

the country voted. one side prevailed.

yet this country has been torn apart for reasons i'm not sure i understand. people act as if Trump is the Antichrist, and i look back eight years and remember when some said the same exact thing about Obama. i read about people who are so emotionally distraught about the election results that they can barely function without bursting into tears.

we needed a change, which as i recall, was once Obama's rally cry. i believe that Trump is the change this country needs. someone who doesn't have lobbyists riding on their coattails, or sitting on the wallet in their back pocket. we need someone who can look at the budget without rose colored glasses, or without the (financial) influence of someone else's agenda.

eight years ago, one ethnic group celebrated while another complained. yet four years later, nothing changed. again we have an election with one ethnic group doing most of the complaining, and i have to wonder what the concensus will be four years from now.

a blog i read today included the following quote that in 22 words contained more wisdom and truth than any media report i've read in the past eight years.

"The person who loves their dream of community will destroy community,
but the person who loves those around them will create community."
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer ~

which one are you? 

one who dreams, or one who creates?


Friday, November 25, 2016

in 5: surrender

surrender
a word that makes me feel i'm
giving up
but i'm not
i'm letting go of the things that
hold me back,
or hurt me.
i surrender and let go
to move forward
i surrender control
i surrender hurt
i surrender anger
when i surrender to God
i find peace and love again.

[Join Us Here]

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

forgiving

i've been reading a small devotional. the one year book of hope by nancy guthrie. i won't go into detail about her life and why she wrote, except to say that she suffered two back-to-back tragic losses in her life.

her week 46 is on forgiveness, and she had some powerful words that hit me in several areas of my life. even before readying the week's devotionals, i had already sent an email to my brother in the hope of peace between us.

"You can continue to play the waiting game with the person who has hurt you - waiting for him or her to apologize, to make things righ. If so, you're allowing that person to hold you hostage."

"I realized I needed to stop tending my hurt and begin to get rid of the bitterness in my life if I ever wanted to more forward with God."

"Hurt people hurt people."

"The bitterness takes root inside you, coming out in the form of distrust, insecurity, criticism, guilt, anger, suspicion, and fear."

biblical in nature, with scripture references. but even without scripture or the Bible, the devotional is great for anyone struggling with hope and forgiveness.