Saturday, February 9, 2019

A DIFFERENT KIND OF ADVENTURE...

We recently tried to escape the cold by heading south to Texas!  Turned out it was only about 20 degrees warmer, but hey, 20 degrees is 20 degrees!  Didn't plan a whole lot to do, but we enjoyed eating at new restaurants, walking along the Lampasas River near our Air BnB, and exploring little towns nearby.

Our adventure this week wasn't biking somewhere new or hiking.  It was a WILD CAVE TOUR!  We went to Longhorn Cavern State Park and explored the cave with a small group.  It's no ordinary cave tour.  Helmets, headlamps, kneepads, and old clothes are required.  We didn't take our phones (cameras) down into the cave because we were told we would get wet.  I really enjoyed this state park because it was small and no crowds, that is, in January!  It has a great history - it was excavated and cleaned out by the CCC's in the 1930's.  Over 3000 dump truck loads of animal bones, dirt, rock and debris were carried out by wheelbarrow by these men.  Rock steps were built down to the mouth of the cave, along with an administration building and lookout tower.  After all this cleanup, formal dances were held in the cave!  Before it was cleaned out it has stories of the Sam Bass gang hiding out there, and even Indians using it.

(Beautiful architecture of the administration building built by the CCC's in the 1930's)

We were in the cave for 3 hours, exploring with our guide all the places the walking tour does not go (the walking tour is a mere 90 minutes).  We walked, climbed and scooted through tight spaces.  Many small spaces opened up into larger rooms.  We saw hibernating bats and lots of beautiful crystal formations.  Our guide was great - not forcing anyone to do anything they didn't want to do.  There were two places I opted out of, one was where you had to back in on your hands and knees, and the rock was like a saddle.  You were going uphill as well, then he said there was a 3 foot drop.  So think backwards on hands and knees for a few yards, then going down a ladder type rocky area.  Not for me....but The Hubs did it all!  There were 3 women in our group, and everyone else was in their 20-30's.  One other girl opted out of that one with me, so I didn't feel too bad about missing out on that.
At the end of the tour, by the cave entrance, sopping wet!

The last thing we did was pretty extreme, and he did tell us we would be in water up to our necks.  We were in a cave about 10 feet wide, but the ceiling was only 4 foot high.  So we walked, sloshing through water, hunched over for a good while, bumping our heads along the way.  Thank goodness for helmets!  Then the ceiling got lower, and we were on our hands and knees, sloshing through the muddy water.  We just kept moving and lots of talking and everyone looking out for each other, notifying when there was a drop off coming up or whatever.  The water was actually only up to my waist.  Anyway, we went through there a good 10-15 minutes or so, till we got to the end of it.  The Hubs thought it was about 200 yards long.  I don't know, but it was kind of scary and you wanted to keep moving.

All the walking tour groups were just staring at us, as we emerged sopping wet and muddy!  It was really a lot of fun, though.  They offer this tour every Saturday.  You also get a "finisher" t-shirt!

No lie, I did start second guessing what I had signed us up for several days in advance.  But I just kept telling myself, "If an 80 year old has done this, I can do it!"  At least that's what they had claimed.  If you ever want to take your spouse on a different kind of adventure, I would highly recommend this!  

This is after we cleaned up and put on our "finisher" t-shirts!  See that guy on our shirts?  That's what we did!

  

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

WAYS TO LEARN MORE SCRIPTURE...



So I'm into week 4 this year of memorizing one scripture a week!  Maybe it's NBD to you, but honestly, it's been a while for me since I've made an effort to memorize something.  It's been a good challenge and I'm definitely feeling that my mind has been focused on the good things found in Philippians 4:8!

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things.  Philippians 4:8

BOOM!  Did that from memory!  Sorry, but it's okay to boast in the Lord, right?  😃

I just wanted to share a few ways I'm trying to make this more a part of my everyday life:


  •   Writing the scripture of the week in my planner each day 
  •   Posting the scripture on the refrigerator (My refrigerator does not have anything else on it)
  •  Writing it on a sticky note and placing it in the car next to the radio
  •   Asking The Hubs at dinner time if he's learned the scripture, and reciting it
  •  Changing my computer desktop photo to one with the scripture on it  
  •  Writing additional thoughts on the scripture's meaning in my daily planner
  •  Doing some Bible Journaling about the scripture
  •  Sharing the scripture on Instagram


I'm still learning new ways to incorporate it into my life.  It's funny how I will catch a glimpse of the scripture on the fridge or in the car, then challenge myself to say it without looking.  Filling up my thoughts with God's Word is excellent!




Thursday, January 10, 2019

HOW NOT TO BECOME A LAZY EMPTY NESTER...



When the New Year rolls around I always have a resolution in mind.  In my last post I shared with you my plan to memorize 52 scriptures this year.  I'm doing great so far!  😀

I have some other goals that I've been thinking about for a while.  Since I'm now a true empty nester, I don't want to get lazy with my new-found time.  I want to finish some things that I've started the last few years and enrich some areas I feel I've neglected.  I have to confess that I kind of overwhelmed myself reading and listening to podcasts lately.  All of these people are rock stars with goal setting and just generally being awesome.  I've discovered Rachel Hollis, the author of Girl, Wash Your Face and the "Let's Rise" podcast.  Alison on "The Alison Show" cracks me up and inspires me, and I downloaded her Best Year Yet worksheets.  Then there's a new book by Grace Valentine, Am I Enough? that I'm into as well.  Holley Gerth just started a new podcast too, so I've got to check that out.  Of course all of these are on social media and filling up my feed.   I felt like I was getting so much good advice and ideas I was on overload!!!

I realized I need to do the KISS* method and only occasionally listen and read from these talented ladies.  God's Word is the most important book of life and I need to exercise some discipline in this area or I will go crazy! As I was walking today, I came up with the three things that matter most to me.  Here's my personal goals for 2019:
💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮💮

 HOW NOT TO BECOME A LAZY EMPTY NESTER:


CARE

DE-CLUTTER

CREATE

CARE For me this means to nurture more relationships outside my family.  I've had this feeling for a while that I need to get outside my comfort zone (my home) and take walks, go for coffee, make a phone call or go to lunch with others to encourage them.  I prefer to do more passive things like send notes or email, so this is definitely the most challenging goal I have.

DECLUTTER This is still a biggie for me even though I've been trying for a few years!  Now that the last child is married, all the wedding gifts are out of the house, and no more junk coming in, I should really be able to go through each room thoroughly.  I'm really interested in a simpler life but this has been dragging me down and this change in life has me ready for action!  The attic, storage closet, and scrapbooking rooms will be a big challenge.  I'm leaving the garage to The Hubs.

CREATE Crafting is something I love to do, whether it's a scrapbook page, working on a women's ministry project, or making the home-made Christmas gifts we exchange with the family. Researching online for women's ministry is another way I get ideas and feel creative.   I love it all and sometimes feel bad about doing this when there's chores to be done.  I am giving myself permission to enjoy this time without guilt. Everybody needs a little down-time, right?

I've looked at my current activities and decided to spend an hour each week on each thing.  I'm writing the words CARE, DECLUTTER, CREATE daily in my planner to keep them fresh in mind.  I'm hoping once I get into it, the time will grow and I will be able to spend more than that, but for now, incorporating 3 hours a week caring, decluttering, and creating are what I'm striving for.   

So, if you're an empty nester, what advice do you have? 
 Have you tried to get some things done like this?



*Keep it simple, stupid 




Friday, January 4, 2019

WORD FOR THE YEAR...

My WORD for the year is not really one word this time.  It's a scripture.  Last fall I came across a verse that I have loved since I was a teenager.  I have a memory of a workshop at church where we color-coded our Bible with colored markers, and the instructors taught us a song from Psalm 19.  The song is called, "More to be desired are they than gold," and I found this version on youtube (a little slower than I remember).  I have always remembered the verse just because of that song!  I kept thinking about it and how it expressed something that would be a good goal for me to work on for the new year.

LET THE WORDS OF MY MOUTH AND THE MEDITATION OF MY HEART BE ACCEPTABLE IN THY SIGHT,O LORD,MY ROCK AND MY REDEEMER.PSALM 19:14

My focus is primarily on the meditation of my heart, although my mouth can use some work, too!  Thank God for his AMAZING GRACE!  One way I plan to focus on this scripture this year is to meditate on His Word by memorizing 52 scriptures, one for each week.  I'm writing the chosen verse each day in my planner.  I asked The Hubs to join me in this! I got prepared by writing 52 verses on index cards.   Also, I may blog more about the scriptures and do some artwork.  Regarding the "words of my mouth," I plan to read a book that has proven to be a popular Bible study for the women of our church this last year, called Keep It Shut.  I'm cutting down my Facebook time to 10 minutes each morning and evening, although I will say it's hard when you are out in public, waiting for something and you have nothing to do.  It seems harmless to go there on your phone.  So I'm trying to figure out exactly what my resolution looks like in different circumstances.  Maybe I can use that time to look at the Bible app on my phone?



Let me know if you have any great ideas!  Do you have a WORD or a goal you are planning to pursue this year?




Wednesday, December 19, 2018

THE DAY YOU ALWAYS HOPE FOR...



My baby graduated college!  It's a bit surreal to think that all three of my children are now graduated and married!  Even though I'm not sure I thought it would all happen, for so many years we have prayed for our children to make good decisions, do well in school, and choose a Christian mate.  I know there will most definitely come challenges, but at the moment I'm enjoying this blessing from God.


I'd like to share his story to give hope to those whose kids might have some difficulties.  Our youngest had challenges growing up, as he ended up having 7 surgeries, 5 on his arm (he has a shorter, smaller arm due to an amniotic band in the womb).  He wasn't really into reading or academics, but we learned in middle school that he had the gumption to work for people in our neighborhood.  We helped him start his "Odd Jobs" business, which led to the purchase of a Snow-cone stand during his senior year.  He is comfortable talking to most anyone and trying anything!  We've always felt like he would be successful despite not loving school.  We are very proud of him.

College wasn't easy and he didn't really want to be there the first two years, although he did enjoy the social aspects of it.  We continually prayed and thought about alternatives if he decided to quit, but he hung in there and by his junior year he could see the benefits of having a degree.  He got into a singing group that recruits in the summer for the university and enjoyed that.  That's where he met his wife.  So that was another delightful benefit.

Parenting him has been a joy (most of the time), and definitely showed us that God is in charge!  Graduation day was wonderful.  He received his Bachelor's degree in Business Marketing and I got to participate in the program.  They asked me to lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and that meant I would be on the stage for the entire graduation (being under those lights the whole time was what was tough!).  They told me when I arrived that I could also walk in front of him as he crossed the stage and hand him his diploma as well.  It was pretty sweet!


 Afterwards we took pictures in an area where there is a wall honoring OC's Master Teachers.  My Dad, who passed away in 2001, spent his whole career, 35 years, teaching there, and his picture is on the wall.  We took pictures with our family and Dad.  I know how proud he would have been to know that two of his grandchildren graduated from there.  We celebrated at a nearby restaurant, Firebirds, and since I had just read the book, The Power of Moments, I asked everyone to say something they appreciated about him, or just any advice they wanted to give to him.  It was great listening to everyone give words of encouragement to him.  He received a few gift cards, tools from us, and we also presented him with the savings bonds his grandparents had given him the first seven birthdays of his life.  They totaled almost $800 and had doubled in value.  Definitely a sweet day for him!

One of my most memorable days as a parent as well.  :)


I made his favorite cake in mini-bundts!
One of several tools from Mom and Dad! 

A beautiful tree of lights outside the restaurant!

So thankful and now I feel another transition coming on...



Wednesday, December 12, 2018

HOW TO FIT 20 YEARS OF PHOTOS INTO 1 ALBUM...


For many years I enjoyed scrapbooking.  My Mother made both my sister and me a simple one that I added to as I was growing up.  I loved pictures and mementos!  One of my favorite things to do when I would go to my Grandmommie's house was to get her photo album from Hawaii and look through it.  It was like a different world to me.  Seeing her in a muu-muu, getting a kiss from Don Ho, seeing hula girls - it was all very eye opening.  She brought all her grandchildren many gifts when she came home from the trip as well.  My mother started both my sister and me a scrapbook with our school class pictures and I added to that.  As a teen I made my own scrapbook out of wallpaper. Later in high school, I was on the yearbook staff.  I learned more about layouts and editing and throughly enjoyed it.  It reenforced my love of scrapbooking.

When I became a mother in 1989, of course portaits and photos were important to me.  I took as many as I could afford with my little Kodak Instamatic.  Then came DOUBLE PRINTS.  Hallelujah!  You could pay just $1 more and get two of every print. Thus began our problem with storage.

Long story short, I got double prints of every roll of film for about 20 years!  My justification was that Grandmas wanted some of the pictures and I would also make albums for the kids after making my own.  God forbid my kids ever forget any moment of any experience we provided for them!!!
So here I am, years later, with all my kids in their 20's.  I've never made them that album.  I quit making myself albums around 2008.  (I actually did make each child a special themed album for their 16th birthday) Everything was going digital and it didn't seem practical to get prints anymore.

With all the decluttering I've been doing the last three years, I kept avoiding the "SCRAPBOOKING ROOM."  Why?  You know why.  It means I have to get all those double prints out and make the books or give them to the kids in a big mess or toss them (which I could never do).  As life got busier, all those precious memories had become a burden to me, and so I determined I would get those memories in albums.  This year, 2018 was going to be the YEAR TO GET IT DONE.

When I first started back in January, I had no idea how I would go about it, but after fumbling around for a while, I developed a system.  I have three children, so the goal was to make three albums.  I came up with some rules:

1.  Use only the BEST photos.  Throw away any blurry or bad ones.

2.  MAKE JUST ONE ALBUM.  Do we really want to burden our children with a library of albums?  I had a 50 page album for each child.  That means, there will be a few pages of baby days, a few of school days, a few of family, a few of holidays, sports, performances, and vacations.  You can see how this will help you choose only the best photos.

3.  SORT by child first.  This part went relatively fast!  Look through pictures, noticing which child was prominent in each photo.  So, for instance, vacation photos from 2005 involved an epic road trip to California.  After sorting through them, I had four piles: Vacation pics for Child #1, Child #2, Child #3, Extras.  Store the pictures for Child #2 and #3 in other boxes for their albums to be done later.

4.  SORT by events and seasons second.  For example, I got all of Child #1 pictures sorted into the following categories:  Toddler, Family, Birthdays, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, School days, Sports, Music, Performances, Friends, and Vacations.  (The seasons included holidays)

5.  THINK AHEAD.  I looked at what I had and determined about how many pages to dedicate to each category to make it work for a 50 page album.

6.  FORGET DATES.  I think one reason I avoided this so long is because I thought I had to write dates on each page.  I basically did a book based on the seasons, starting with spring.  Spring had 4 pages of Easter time through the years.  Plus a page about LTC.  Then came summer.  I did a big collage of misc. summer pictures, then had 2 pages of swimming pool times, 2 of lake times, 2 of Fourth of July celebrations.  When you do this, you find that most of the pictures you took were pretty meaningless and it helps you choose the best photos.

7. DECORATE (a little).  How you do each page is entirely up to you but my system was to do basic pages with a little cropping of photos to try to get more on the page, maybe some colored paper, and sometimes a sticker or die cut to add some embellishment.  Occasionally I did a more intricate layout if the pictures lend themselves to it. But in the words of my friend Delise, a CM Consultant, just "get it done!"  A done album is better than no album.

8.  BE PREPARED for some emotional fatigue!  Going through these reenforced the fact that I'm getting older and my babies are grown up!  I had to take breaks - it was hard to choose between all the Kodak moments. In some cases it was easy, though.  I realized that year my child played baseball that it didn't turn out to be his thing and so 1 or 2 pictures of that was plenty.  It was a bittersweet process!

9.  FINAL TOUCHES.  After getting the album basically done, I went back through, page by page and noticed where I might add some embellishment.  I also put titles on many of the pages, some with letter stickers and some in my own handwriting.  I was torn on whether to journal for them or let them fill it in with their memories.  You can decide.

10.  GET OVER THE IMPERFECTION.  I realized I didn't have as many pictures of a certain child on this or that and I couldn't find hardly any graduation pictures of one!  Also, as I moved on to do albums for Child #2 and #3, I didn't realize it, but my style changed.  I did more collage type pages and that is just fine. Anyway, I didn't worry about it.  Remember, just get it on the page!

Maybe they won't appreciate it, but my mind is feeling good and a burden is lifted.  I'm glad I was able to put them together, and the rest of the pictures?  They will go in a box for each child.  I just can't throw them away!  But there's not nearly as many anymore and they are sorted.

Now I'm wondering if I could be a Scrapbooker for hire!

:)



Wednesday, December 5, 2018

GOAL SETTING TIP...

TIME....MONEY....ENERGY...

Mentioned in the sermon Sunday, it's most unlikely that we will ever have all three at once!  When you're young you have lots of time and energy, but no money.  When you're in mid-life with jobs and kids and aging parents and activities there's a lack of enough time.  In your final years you've got time on your hands and money but not enough energy to get out of bed in the morning!

So what do you do with the two that you have?  Do you use what you've been given to the glory of God?  Balance is something I have been reading about and striving for most of my adult life.  Now, I find myself in the lacking energy category.  Fatigue is a common part of an auto-immune condition I have.  Most of the time I dismiss it and try not to think about it.  But other times I have to give in and rest.  It's annoying!  But I see it as the way that God is continuing to shape and mold my life.  I am choosy about what projects I take on and push myself a little sometimes to get other things done.  After a day of pushing I need a day of rest.  And, as a recovering perfectionist, I've learned to stress less about the details.  It's amazing how things still happen and those tiny details didn't really matter all that much.

I hope that as the year ends you have a chance to breathe and reflect and think about the coming year. I love setting goals and figuring out how to make them happen.  I've heard a new tip on a podcast recently that I want to try.  I  had heard of writing your goals down and making them visible, but this tip (from Rachel Hollis) says to write your goals down every day! That is a way to keep your goals in mind, for sure.  She also says to write your goals as if they've already happened, i.e., I have a fantastic body.  Not, I will exercise every day.

Whatever your thoughts are about the new year and setting goals, life balance to me is one of the keys to happiness on this Earth.  I eagerly await the time when our work here on Earth is over and our Savior Jesus Christ returns to take us home!  Leaving you with this thought from Colossians 3:17:

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."