Jan 30, 2015

The Guestroom of sorts

So I had this craft room.  At least 3/4ths of the room was a craft room and the rest office with the computer and printers.  This craft room was mine. The only space in the house truly all mine, baby. All mine in it's messy, clutter-y, crafty goodness self.  And last week I got rid of it my craft space for a guest room.  Which had most people who knew me scratching their heads.
Because to quote myself, "I could never have a guest room.  I have my craft area."  or something like that.  I should probably never say things in statements anymore.

So now I have this guest room.  It was the oddest thing.  There I was, doing my daily Bible reading and BAM!  This sense comes to me that I have to have a guest room.  And it couldn't be a little space where I could throw down a blowup or squeeze in a twin.  Nope.  I had to have a real, honest to goodness full sized bed. Even the size of the bed was dictated to me.  DICTATED. Though I must admit, I spent some time in the office afterwards with a tape measure trying to get around it. I was calculating how much I would have to toss to get it in.  And whether the craft table was a deal breaker (it went).

I was reading about Elijah.  The part after the "still quiet voice" that everyone talks about.  The part where he states that he thinks he is alone.  That he is acting for God alone.  Then God tells him that he is not.  That there are a few thousand other people who follow God and that he'll give him a helper named Elisha.  Anyhow, I was struck by the way God works sometimes.  Sometimes He gives you the instructions, and doesn't tell you why or who is with you.  That part comes later.  And then BAM, I got some instructions and it was so clear, I almost could have sworn it was audible.

I clearly am not being asked to do anything crazy like Elijah.  I was just asked to give up the space in my home with "mine" stamped all over it.  There were no instructions as to WHO exactly was coming to this space.  Just instructions to make a space and see what happens.  Specifically, a space big enough for a couple.  Perhaps just our parents will ever use it when they come, but I sure hope God has a lot of people in mind who need a place.  So, not feeling even a little bit ridiculous, I loaded my craft stuff onto the brand new shelves my in-laws made in my laundry room and threw extra craft stuff away and made a space.  For absolutely NO ONE specific in mind.  If you knew how much the "craft blood" runs through my veins, you would scratch your head if you didn't know this little back story.

Here it is.  I put out a facebook post about asking for a full sized bed and my girl friend was just going to post her's on craigslist. For $50 I scored the whole thing.  And I knew that I would be using my wedding quilt on it and this bed just fits a quilt so well.  Right?  This bed just says "put a quilt on me."  I had a small table and the one thing I couldn't figure out where to store was my sewing machine.  The little table fit between the door and the bed with a half inch to spare so I got to keep my sewing machine up.  It's the little graces people.  Bless you forever and ever amen, you little half inch.

Also, I left my Narnia and Middle Earth map up. This book nerd will not remove them.  So there. You get my bed AND the shared enjoyment of my love of maps. How could this not be a win for the guest?  I also have a California print that's super cute and a St. Thomas island treasure map.  The cork board was my old inspiration board filled with odds and ends above my desk.  I threw something up there for now that would work above the headboard while I mull over what to do with it.
What is it currently?
Guys, I don't know!
It seemed good at the time and I'm not going to dissect it.
Forgo the closeup.
My girls have moved in.  They found the new charge strip I put next to the bed and have decided to charge their tablet there. Hey, that's for guests! Sharesies I guess. 
Sidenote: They are currently fighting over who gets to take turns sleeping in said new massive bed each night.  Hunter for the win tonight.  They'll shove out again for guests.
 I had a lot of vintage fabric with which I made some triangle banners and covered some throw pillows. That ampersand pillow I made a while ago. I also covered up the bland lamp shade.  The quilts I had were red and blue so that kind of dictated the colors of the room.  As in, the quilt was already mine and the only option suitable, so blue and red it is.

The space directly across from the bed and door is still our office area.  I redid the curtains in red and blue and put up some artwork posters.  The wifi password is displayed in the window in case they need to use it.
At the end of the bed is still a shelf with all of my fabrics and sewing notions in it.  I'd be lying if I said I dumped everything.  I mean I did dump stuff, but shoot, I kept a heck of a lot too.  It was open and cluttered so I just covered it with fabric for now.  This room is still, for most of the time, an office and creative space.  However, I never thought I would fit in a bed and make it work and behold, here we are.
Below is a picture of the whole room.  The closet is to the left and I am taking the picture from the doorway.  This picture was taken with poor lighting, but you get the idea.  It's an office too and there's no way to get around that.
I mean, the mismatched shelves and desk all work so well together.  What? It's a strain on the eyes?  Oh, well lets just drape some fabric, pretend it's not clipped up and call it pretty.  Maybe even cozy.  I've heard the current trend is mismatched furniture and not sets.
I know.
Go ahead.
Call me, HGTV!
 I covered my little table with a large piece of vintage fabric so you couldn't see the bin I have stored underneath.  Again, diversion and the "fabric draped" tactic.   It's probably an overused decor style over here. Then I topped that with an embroidered tablecloth.  
Drape all the things in layers!
My sewing machine is covered with fabric from the 70's. I just love it and it's so cute it's worth displaying.
Next to the bed I put a little tray with toiletries from all of Tone's travels.  We have TONS and this is a fun way to get to use a few of them.  I had an old alarm clock and I put out a box of kleenex. I put a double over-the-door hook and put a couple of thick blue towels on them so guests won't have to wonder which towel is there's or where to hang it up.  The bathroom is just next door.  I'm calling this fabric layer draped room done.
So where did my craft table go?  Well here is a quick phone pic snap.  We now have an honest to goodness school room complete with a full table for spreading out school books and crafts.  This is actually working out great since the kids no longer need a large floor space for playing but they do need a large table space for all of their interests, drawing, crafts and school work.  Which they clearly have utilized in this pic, and have every single day since I set it up. Which also means, this room will never have a clean pretty picture snapped of it either.  Blog worthy pics: overrated.  So for now, it's a win all the way around.
So now I'm just waiting to see who will show up.  Who's going to use this guest room?

Jan 8, 2015

Oh Happy Day

This little boy of ours was baptized last week.  Daddy was the proud one to get the honors of baptizing him.  Hunter has been asking about baptism and we have been having discussions about the gospel since the summer when he chose to follow Jesus.  For life.  
He takes it all so seriously, and soaks it all in with wide eyes and questions.  Truly the faith of a child is so uncomplicated, pure and simplistic.  Hunter has the whole rest of his life to unravel this marvelous calling and gift we call the gospel.  He grows internally and silently, with occasional clarifying questions and then informs me later of his decisions and opinions after he has sorted them out in his head.  
This is how his desire to follow God went down:
After camp this summer I asked him what he learned about God.  I received some "ahhhs" and "ummms" in response.  Great.  Well, that spiritual part of camp was certainly a wash.  At least he had fun to to the tune of $400 where all he could talk about was who was champion in some frisbee game.  That was an expensive frisbee game, kid.  
Then I sent him to a Vacation Bible School where he declared it boring.  Super.  This summer seemed a strikeout along spiritual lines.  I kept shipping him off all five days anyways.
Much to my surprise in October when someone (I don't even remember who because that's not the point of this story) asked a group of kids at our co-op if they had ever made a decision to follow Jesus.  Hunter casually and assuredly raised his hand. 

Hello, what?  

When I prodded, because hello, this is momentous, he replied, "Oh yeah, I learned all about the gospel at camp, and then prayed at Vacation Bible School."  
Mom talk took over. "How? Why? Can you explain what you mean?  Details!"
And it all came tumbling out in his simple language.  And I guess that around here, the gospel is so entrenched and discussed in everything we do, he just assumed that I assumed it was a done deal for him and is an obvious thing to do.

Except that I know something he will grow to know.  The gospel is personal.  It is not a done deal because you grew up in a family that discusses it all the time and stakes their every bit of breath on it.  Once you make it your own, you have to hang on for a ride. This gospel of new life from former death will wreck your life in all the best of ways and take you down to the depths to reach the highest of heights.

Hunter read his testimony before he was baptized.  It was simple, sweet and ernest.  There was much joy as both grandparents watched and cheered.  This ernest search for God will take him places one can only guess at.  We all know it.  We all cheer as he begins this journey.  This faith walk with God.  It's the best one ever and the only one worth anything.  

I often pray a prayer for my children that they will choose wisely their Master, mate and mission in life. Hunter has chosen his master who will in turn set him on a mission designed just for him.  I pray for their future spouse who join on this journey if God wills it.

I'll also share with you a secret that some don't understand.  I really don't pray for much else than they follow the Lord all their days and live their life as a servant of His love to the world, which I call their "mission" which is manifested slightly different for each person God designs.  
I know, I know. 
 There are such things as health, money, jobs, safety, and community which I also pray for, but only as God sees fit to bring him into a life lived with love.  I would see it as a tragedy if my children find themselves living all their days in a white, middle-class, protected, untouched by hardships, first world life. Full of comforts, impacting no one, bubbled from the hurting world around them.

 I want my kids to rub shoulders with all peoples and find the beauty in all humanity. 
To know hardships that make you cling to the Lord, 
To have their faith tested by fire and find that it is true, 
To not be fettered with judgement of others, but find grace for all.  
To know what it is to be in need and see the Lord walk with them.  
To see them put some skin in the game when it comes to living sacrificially, and be blessed by others in turn just as richly.  
To find that when there are times of surplus, it is a time to give and in a thousand ways find that you need as much in return. 

This to me is a full life.  This is a life worth living and can be found anywhere in any circumstance.  This is the life I pray that God unleashes as He teaches my kids love and service to the world around them. But I also know something: often the Lord has to break us in hardships to get us to this life.  My son is not really mine, but God's and if he must be broken, then may the Lord do anything to bring him here.
Sometimes life has to leave you flat out gasping as you climb DOWN the rung so God can show you the depth and breath and true joy of His love for me and for the world from the bottom up.

Oh Happy Day.  This life would not be possible without the happy day when Jesus washed my sins away and set me free to live a life worth living full of love and without fear.  This is the prayer I pray as I watch my son declare his first baby step into this wonderful joy we call life with God.

Oh Happy Day!

Jan 7, 2015

Polar opposites

We just celebrated New Years with both grandparents, and my husband's nephew and twin nieces who are all in high school.  Let this be known as the year I brought the cracker back.
By crackers I mean the unedible kind that are like a little popping firecracker that snaps and then has paper crowns, a junky prize and a groan-worthy joke inside.  The description here just made you all so jealous you wish you did this before your New Years dinner.  We used to do them every Christmas Eve growing up and since the grands were both going to be here for New Years, I bought them.

Actually, I forced it on the "newbies" (i.e. my husband's family).  The high schoolers didn't even roll their eyes which makes them rockstars.

 Also, let it be known that it's kind of a thing that you have to wear the paper crowns all night.  Never mind the flat hair, this is the thing that is done.  It's just done.  All the newbies fell in line.

Deep down in their soul, I know they found the tradition an excellent one, I'm sure of it.
A firecracker expression of love.

Anyhow, it was a yummy dinner and delightful family time.  My mother-in-law's cheesy potato casserole was top notch. It was sorta the overlap of weeks and families since I had just spent a week with my parents and siblings up at our family cabin over Christmas and the hubby's side came after that week and was staying until after New Years.

While our families have strikingly similar values and Tone and I were raised comfortably compatible, there is also quite a dichotomy as there always is when two people marry and then observe that my family is not quite like your family.

It can be quite a hybrid that develops as we learn both familiar and unfamiliar rhythms and make a new one.  Our kids make a new one too as we send those little beings off into the world to create their own paper crown cracker tradition things with their own newbie spouses. Best of luck, kiddos (eye rolls not permitted).

I was just talking to a friend over tea this morning about the dichotomy as we were discussing family values. While talking the two values laid themselves out as love languages, and I hadn't really seen it that way before.  The Stover tribe has a love language that is quite different from the Plumb tribe.
 And I realized that our love languages are complete polar opposites as they are expressed in our families and unfortunately, quite misunderstood in our first years of marriage (now happily reconciled though at twelve years in).  Let's look at how the two weeks contrasted shall we?  I felt so wrapped up in family love both weeks but it was expressed oh so differently.

My family's love language is quality time so that's what a vacation is all about.  So that means we wake up leisurely, drink copious amounts of coffee, have long and deep, and silly and irreverent discussions, and leave lots of time for play - be it sledding or board games. Just maybe, ok we do, us three sisters always take time for taking the weirdest photos and videos together that we possibly can and then blow up our various media feeds with them as if other people really cared about our sick addiction to dumb sister selfies.  We are all around the mature age of 30 give or take. Discussions run along such serious topics from church work, spiritual growth (my parents are pastors), the latest episode of The Walking Dead, and why my ham one Easter took three hours to cook.
Sidenote: That was freaking six years ago but if we have ham the point is always raised that I'm still the one who can't cook the ham.
Fine, I'll just stuff myself with someone else's ham cooking.
I like ham.

We work really hard, but it's just to get it out of the way so we can play or spend more time talking.  Summer vacations are no different than winter.  We just swap a boat at the lake for the sled run down the driveway, but we're just as slow getting out there on the lake as we are to the front driveway ten feet away. Usually, someone will casually make the remark, "You all ready to get out on the lake?" Then we load up like an ant hill that just got stepped on and scurry around like crazy people just so we can get out on the beach and the boat and lay around talking some more and laugh at the poor souls get launched off the boat tube.  Quality.
The one exception is my step-dad who clearly shares acts of service with the Plumb tribe.  Except he exists on the Stover side.  The poor man is the only one jumping up immediately in a bunch of exuberant talkers who will get to it in about 10 to 15 more minutes.  Bummer.
Glory be, these times nourish my soul like no other.  Somebody listens, laughs, and helps unravels my tangled web of thoughts with wise wisdom served up with a fresh dose of humor.

My husband's family would think we were a pack of time wasters if they went with us.  I mean, I assume.  They've politely never said that.  They operate on a love language of acts of service.  When I go to their house or they come to mine, they serve our family like crazy.  Let's just describe how their last visit went down.
They came and immediately went grocery shopping so that they could make us breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Every. Day.
What? What?
I had died and gone to heaven.  Heaven exists where I am not required to cook and it came to me last week.
It surely came to me.
I used to grocery shop before they came.  I have learned that they'd rather go with me once they arrive so they can help plan the menu.  And of course, this is strategic since their menu is usually awesome.

Let me break this down for you: my kids and hot breakfasts are practically strangers.  Breakfast is on them and I only fix lunch and dinner.  Cereal, toast, Eggo waffles, and oatmeal are our staples unless it's a holiday or a birthday or something worthy of the actual waffle maker we own, or even better, Daddy does it.  When the grandparents arrive there was waffles, bacon, ham and eggs.
I hit the jackpot in in-laws.

But wait, it gets better.
They tackle projects we just can't seem to get around to doing.  While they were here:
A car was fixed.  Theirs, but nonetheless...it took an afternoon.
Christmas was packed up and put in the attic.
The game closet was cleaned out.
The garage was rearranged and cleaned out.
Floor to ceiling shelves were installed in my laundry room and filled with things of mine piled in the garage I didn't have a place for.  This also involved repacking bins.
My chandelier I bought for the school room three months ago at a flea market was installed in all it's chippy glory.
My laundry was done.
Meals were all cooked and were delicious.  I mean I helped and all, but I didn't do the brunt of it.
Dishes were done.
But they are just so supportive of our space and needs.  My mother-in-law over the span of our marriage has probably helped me organize and think through every single space in my home.

Specifically to the maternal support in my life: My Momma for sorting out my emotional life, his Momma for helping me sort out my physical life. Though my momma can work hard too and his momma can listen and give smart advice too.


Here's the chippy flea market find for $25 up in the school room.  I dig it.
I'm going to add even more to this jackpot of parental love.  My Dad and his girlfriend spent Christmas Eve with us.  His love language has always been gifts.  Not always expensive, but gifts.  Gifts such as dinners out,  homemade wood working projects, little things he's picked up.  This year did not disappoint.  As they got in their truck to go, they were still flinging little things in my car.  I told him I wanted to pick up crocheting this year, and it juuuust so magically happens that his new hobby is making crochet hooks with carved handles.  A skein of yarn, some patterns and a new hook were still being flung in my car even as they drove away.
I already made myself some new slippers.  Gift utilized.  Love received.

I guess the great temptation would be to compare.  Can they not work hard, can they not relax, can they not give more time?  Of course they all can and do.  But they all shine in what they do best.
That comparison game would be just plain silly. 
Pish posh.
It would cheapen the gift.
Both are just so lovely and come from the heart.
I feel treasured and loved and lavished by all.  Lord help me, may I love my grown up children just as well.  This family blesses by loving lavishly in the best of all ways.  Lord help me, may I not compare and find fault with lavish gifts but love just as extravagantly in the best way I know how with such wonderful examples that have been given to me.

Cha. Ching.