Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beth Moore's Hair Brush Story

In honor of the "28 Days of Love" I would like to share with you a clip of Beth Moore sharing her "Hair Brush" story.  A friend of mine posted this on facebook this morning and it was just what I needed.

I hope you enjoy it...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"28 Days of Love" Week 2

Ok. Ok.  I know.  I was supposed to post this on Sunday, but it didn't happen.  Sunday was just a lazy day around the house.  We went to church, had small group, ate lunch, and then we crashed on the couch.  And I could have posted this yesterday, but the kiddos were out of school, and we just had to go sledding.  You understand, right?!

So here we are...Tuesday...and I'm just getting this posted.  If you are reading this for the first time, please read my original post on the "28 Days of Love".  The pastor at my church has challenged us to learn what it truly means to love people the way Jesus does.  If you have been following along, please share with us the ways you have been able to love on others and what God is teaching you through the process of self-sacrificing love.

Here's your assignment for Week 2:

Day 8:  Meet Someone New.  Take the initiative to meet someone you don't already church, in the neighborhood, at a store.  Push through awkwardness, introduce yourself and find out two or three things about them.  Write their name(s) down and pray for them later.

Day 9:  Cross a barrier.  Seek out someone who seems different from you in background, status, race, ethnicity, or religion, and engage them in conversation.   Seek to understand them better.  Listen more than talking.

Day 10:  Love your neighbor.  Call a neighbor, see how they are doing.

Day 11:  Offer to watch a friend's children.  Many people would feel loved if a trusted friend offered to watch their children for an evening so they could go out, run errands, decompress, or whatever their heart desired.  Try it!

Day 12:  Pray with someone.  Ask the Spirit of God to lay someone on your heart whom He knows needs your prayers.  Call them up or visit them, ask how you might pray for them, and do it...right then!

Day 13:  Love your church family.  If you haven't yet made your 2011 financial pledge to support God's work at your church, delay no longer!  Love through giving!

Day 14:  Bake it!  Make an extra meal or bake a batch of cookies and surprise someone with it.  Bless someone with food!  If you can't cook worth a darn, take someone out for a meal or coffee and offer to buy.

There you have it!  Now go out there and share God's love!!


Friday, January 14, 2011

(Refer to the Quote)

So like most people, I have a Father-in-Law who can be kinda quirky at times.  Like the year he wore felt antlers at Christmas, stuck a flashlight up his nose, and sang "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."  You get the idea. 

Anyways, Mike has given us a laundry list of quotes that range from, "Oh Golly!"  to "The older I get...the higher price I place on familiarity."  Huh??

Well lately, one of his more profound quotes has been bouncing around in my little brain.  It always seems to pop up whenever I start to become discontent or whenever I start to blame other people for my problems.  Here it goes....  Fasten your seat belts....

"If you always do what you've always done, then you'll always get what you've always got."

Brilliant!!  This lil' nugget covers a multitude of problems!  Do you have problems with your finances?  (Refer to the quote)  Do you have problems with your kids?  (Refer to the quote)  Do you have problems with your relationships with other people?  (Refer to the quote)  Do you have problems at work?  (Refer to the quote)  Do you have health problems, but can't seem to find the time to get off of the couch?  (Refer to the quote)  Are you discontent with your life?  (Refer to the quote)  Are you getting the picture yet?

Here's what this simply boils down to... We have to Take Responsibility!!!

Please don't misunderstand what I'm saying.  I understand that sometimes, things happen to us that are completely out of our control.  But the way we react to those situations are completely up to us. 

Seriously people, I'm thinking about making this my motto for 2011.  Maybe I'll get it tattooed across my forehead.  That way I can remind myself every time I look in the mirror.  Or when people around me start to complain, I can just smile and point to the forehead.

Like I said before, this quote has been bouncing all around my head lately.  Meanwhile it has been Week 1 of "28 Days of Love".  Here's how the two relate to each other.  The Lord is showing me this week not only how to see people through His eyes, but He's also showing me what true love is all about.  People are hard to love sometimes.  Obviously its easier to love people who are lovable.  Often we confuse love with enabling...they're so not the same thing!

But that's not the person I believe God wants me to be.  I believe He wants me to be the kind of spouse that lovingly supports my husband even when its not convenient or easy for me.  He wants me to be the kind of parent that not only showers my children with hugs and kisses, but can also lovingly teach them how to submit to God's authority in their lives.  He wants me to be the kind of friend that I need to be, not the kind of friend that person wants me to be.  Jesus is the perfect balance of Grace & Truth.  I am not.  My good friend, Tonya, pointed out to me this week that God's love is so unlike anything else, that we really have nothing else to compare it to.  The only way to find out what true love is, is to find out more about God.

So here's the deal.  If I want to stay the kind of person I have been, then I will continue to do what I've always done.  But if I want to look more like Jesus, than I have to take responsibility and change.

(Katie steps off of soapbox and exits stage left)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Take a look at my Mantel

If you have peeked at my blog before, you know that I love family heirlooms and antiques.  I blogged about how I decorated my Christmas tree with old family letters and photos, here.  Also, I recently share with you pictures of my 170 year old church pews and the pre-Civil war mirror in my entry way, here.

Well today I am linking up with linking up with The Stories of A2Z's Winter Mantel Party. 

This is what my mantel looks like right now.  I really like the pieces that I have on the mantel, but one of the things on my "To Do" list this year is to paint the brick and install a new mantel.  So let's just ignore the things I don't like about my mantel right now and let's focus on the things I do love about it....

If you feel like you are experiencing deja vu with that bird cage, you're right!  I have the same cage and same bird in my kitchen on top of my cabinets.  Hey!  When you find a good thing, more is better, right?!  Anyways, I have many pieces of family history in my house and I love displaying them.  The framed letter behind the bird cage is one of my great-great-great-grandfather's discharge paper from the Civil War.

Next I have a generic response card from the White House thanking Americans for supporting Richard Nixon after the Watergate situation.  I find this one very ironic.  I actually have a copy of the original letter that my great-grandfather wrote to Nixon voicing his support of him at the time. 

The large, framed document is the original land grant deed given to my family in 1833.  It is signed by Andrew Jackson, but unfortunately someone has removed the Presidential seal from the lower left hand corner.  The deer antler is from our backyard.  My oldest son, Garrett, and I found it last spring while playing catch.  I love mixing natural items in with old stuff.  By the way, after we found the antler, an one antlered deer kept showing up in our backyard.  It was pretty funny.

This letter on the right is really cool.  It was written in 1884 by a minister in Chautauqua, New York to my great-great-great-grandfather. (different than the one with Civil War discharge paper)  My grandfather was not a Christian and had been struggling with his health.  I appreciate the way this minister loving challenged my grandfather to give his life to the Lord.  Here's what it says:

"My dear Mr. Smith,
    It is a week this afternoon since I saw you.  I take comfort in the thought that you are probably about recovered today.  I confess to you it is a hard thing for a pastor to speak to a man who is very, very sick about his soul, lest in so doing some harm be done in exciting useless fears.  But no such danger is in the way now that you are so nearly yourself again.  I suggest my friend that now is a most proper time for you to give your heart to God as a Thankoffering.  'It is a good thing to give Thanks.' Ask yourself the question, 'What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward "me"'.  Now is the time.  Will you make that offering now?"

He makes a compelling argument.  I think about that letter often as it challenges me to share Christ with others because we do not know when it will be our last opportunity to do so. 

Finally, these guys are not technically on the mantel, but I still love them.  I bought them a few years ago for under $5 each.  They're not old, but they look like they are.

Thanks for visiting my mantel.  I hope you enjoyed it!


Monday, January 10, 2011

My Favorite Pencils

Two weekends ago my family made a run to Ikea.  And by "run" I mean we drove 2 hours to the nearest Ikea store. 

We didn't have much that we needed to buy.  We just enjoy going about twice a year and seeing what's new in the store.

This trip we bought a couple lamps for the basement.  A side table and some throw pillows as well.  But my favorite thing we bought were these colored pencils for the boys.

They are absolutely GREAT!  They are thicker than the Crayola pencils and they look so cool and natural. 

I'm thinking I may have to make another Ikea "run" very soon and get some of these guys for myself.  Ooo!...and that giant blank and white photo of Paris.  It would look PERFECT above the couch in the basement.  Ooo!...and another side table.  (I have no clue why we didn't just get 2 when we were there the last time)  Ooo!...and I want 2 of those new gray/white rugs that they sell for just $19.99 for the upcoming dining room makeover.   And my husband wonders why I can't just go to the store and buy colored pencils...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

28 days of Love- Linky party!!

The holidays are over.  The Christmas decorations are down. (or as least should be down by now)   The New Year has come and gone.   New Year's Resolutions have been made.  (and for some, already broken.)   

What were those resolutions?  To lose weight?  To give more to the needy?  To save more in our spending?  To get out of debt?  Maybe we promised to spend more time with our families or finally take that dream vacation.  But what about love?

There are many prayers that are hard to pray.  You know what they are.  We know we need patience but we have all dreaded asking God to give it to us because we know He will give us the opportunity to grow in patience by placing us in very stressful situations.  We know we struggle with pride and we ask God for humility, but we would like for Him to do it privately and not where anyone can see us being humbled.  But what about love?

Today at church my pastor preached on I Corthinthians 13, "the love chapter."  We have all heard it at weddings at some point in our lives, but have we ever stopped to think about what TRUE LOVE really is? 

The love chapter gives us a list of what love looks like:
 It says, "Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Loves does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails..."

But the question still begs to be answered...What is love?

I John 3:16 says, "This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 

How do we get to that place?  The place where we are willing to lay down our life for someone else.  We would all love to think that we would be so self-sacrificing, but in the day to day we seldom feel that way.  Thankfully according to I John 4:19 we are able to truly love because He first truly loved us.

Therefore I would like to ask you to join me in "28 days of Love".  For 4 weeks we will learn what it is like to truly love people.  My pastor has challenged us to show love in the following ways for the next 7 days:

Week 1

Day 1:  Meet a Need.  Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to someone's need you can meet today.  When the need presents itself, act.  Meet the need without expecting anything in return.  Thank the Lord for using you to bless someone else.

Day 2:  Don't react.  When wronged, offended, or slighted today, resolve by the Spirit's power to allow Him to produce a "longsuffering" spirit in you that doesn't react or strike back.  Let it go.  Overcome evil with good.

Day 3:  Give something away.  Loving always involves giving.  Bless someone by giving them something of value-some money, an item, some time, your attention (just don't give them a piece of your mind)  "Its is more blessed to give than to receive."

Day 4:  Pray for an enemy.  Instead of stirring up your anger by replaying that person's wrong against you, pray for him or her.  Ask God for the grace to love your enemies by praying His blessings upon them.

Day 5:  Write a note.  Let someone know how much you value their friendship or appreciate their contribution by writing, texting, or emailing a note.  Make the effort to communicate what is in your heart.  Take some time and write more than a sentence or two.

Day 6:  Spread some joy today.  Do a random act of kindness for an unsuspecting person.

Day 7:  Initiate something.  Take a small risk.  Go out of your way to talk with someone you don't really know.  Engage them in a conversation about something that interests them.  Show genuine interest, learn what you can about them, and review it later in your mind.

For the next 3 weeks I will add our new "assignments" as Pastor Steve gives them to us. 

Until then here's what I want you to do...obviously stick to the list.  Also, I would like for you to link up with me in my FIRST-ever linky party and share with all of us your Random Acts of Love.  We are doing something similar at our church where we can post up notes of the ways we have been blessed or how we have been able to bless others during these 28 days. 

Let's Pass on God's Love!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Are we there yet???

Nope.  Not even close...

Our house has been a money pit.  I mean that in the nicest way possible.  And please don't get me wrong, I love my house.  I didn't use to. 

Our house was built in 1973. ( Back when they actually knew how to build a house.)  And throughout the years several different families have lived in this house and all the while never, I mean NEVER updating this house. 

We bought the house almost 6 years ago and since then we have done almost everything ourselves.  We have knocked out walls.  Put in slate and wood floors.  Revamped the landscaping in the front.  Finished the basement.  Renovated the kitchen.  Redone the bathrooms.  The list goes on and on and on...

With exception of replacing the carpet in the last 2 bedrooms, we have remodeled EVERY room in this house.  And this is the point where I'm supposed to relax, right?  Well my problem is that I have a hard time with the finishing details in decorating a room.  I've said before that I have no problem picking out paint colors or flooring, but when it comes to the details....I go crazy.

So that is my goal for this year.  The big projects are over.  Now its time for the details.  And I'm beginning 2 areas that have a similar furniture in them.  My entryway and my bedroom.  Strange, huh?!

You see, about 3 years ago my husband and I went to a flea market and found a man selling church pews.  They were very pretty and old (which is what I loved most about them) and I thought they would be the perfect thing to go in our entryway.  We had just put in the slate floors and had taken out a big boxy guest closet that took up most of the space in the entryway.  The guy wanted $250 for the 4' long pew and I thought at the time that was a pretty decent price, however, he had sold all that he had at the flea market. 

After the flea market, I was lamenting to my mom about the pews and how I really wanted one.  She mentioned to me that my grandparent's church had just sold their building to the local KFC (depressing, I know) and that they were selling all of the furniture, stain glass windows, and leaded glass doors since KFC was planning to tear the building down.  I immediately called my grandma and scheduled a time to meet with their pastor and to check out the pews. 

Let me pause for a second and just answer what you are probably already wondering... I did not get any of the windows or doors from the building.  They had HUGE, 10' tall windows of Biblical scenes and 10 or 12 matching smaller windows throughout the building that they sold to an antique dealer for $100/each.  (Its like a punch in the gut, huh??) 

Anyways, when we got there, they were still selling some of the church pews.  And these suckers were GINORMOUS!  Each of them were 18 feet long, divided in half by a support piece.  They are made out of solid red oak and are approximately 170 years old.  I was in heaven...almost.  The pastor told us that he would sell them for $75 for the whole 18' pew or $50 for a 9'section, and that he would give us the end pieces instead of having the middle support on one end. 

Well the wheels started turning in Josh's mind.  He decided that we should buy (1) 18' section and (1) 9' section.  The 9' section we cut in half to make (2) 4.5' benches.  (The pastor had given us an extra set of end caps.)  We put one bench in our entryway and gave the other bench to my mom.  Then Josh took the other (2) 9' sections and made a bed for us.  (I'm telling you the man is talented.)

He took the seat out of one pew, shortened the length, raised it up, and that became our headboard.  Then he took the second pew and shortened the length of it to make the foot board. 

And I love they way they turned out.  They are not attached to the frame so I can just move them when I need to make the bed or flip the mattress.

But here's my dilemma.  I feel like the rest of the bedroom and the entry way are kinda blah.   I like the paint color in my bedroom but I am willing to change it.  I like the curtains, but I don't like the bamboo roman shades.  (I really hate how the shades look from the front of the house) 

I need something on the walls and I need better lamps.  And it drives me BANANAS that the window isn't centered in the room.  Therefore the bed isn't centered in the room. 

And lets revisit the entryway again. 

My husband made the vinyl silhouettes of our family a couple years ago.  I love them.  They are one of my favorite things in our house.  And the mirror was given to me by my grandparents when we were first married.  Its very old. (pre-Civil war)  I think I want to move the mirror, but I'm not sure what to replace it with just yet.  I still like having the bench in the entryway.  It makes the perfect "time out" bench.  

Soon I will show you what Josh did when we took out our coat closet.  (It involves an old kitchen pantry and wainscoting...very cool) 

But until then, I would love any ideas or suggestions on these two areas.   Thanks a bunch!!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Some of the Things I Love

Some of the Things I Love:

The sound of my children playing together, nicely.

The sound of a pure belly laugh.

A pot of hot tea and lemon cookies.

Reading something in Scripture that I didn't know was there and it just knocking my socks off.

Watching my husband spend time with his boys.

The excitement my kids have while picking out what movie to watch on "Friday Family Movie Night".

Waking up on Saturday morning to a bed full of kids in flannel jammies watching cartoons.

The sound of my children singing along to praise & worship music.

The hugs my boys give me when they come home from school.

Their excitement for snow and sledding when all I can think about is the cold.

Making a fire in the fireplace and preparing Hot Cocoa for them to warm up when they are done sledding.

Getting dressed up and going on a "hot date" with my man.


Playing "Who Saw Daddy First" with the boys while waiting for Josh to come home from work.

Watching my children sleep and know that they are truly at peace.

Being married to the love of my life and knowing that means...forever.

Not only teaching my children about God, but also knowing that they know Him.

Hearing the excitement in their voices as they tell me about sharing Jesus with one of their friends.

My house.  Its not the biggest or the prettiest, but its what God has given us, so its perfect for us.

Forever Friends.  The type of people you will have in your life no matter the distance.

The smell of Spring.
Laying in the hammock on a summer night looking at the stars and thinking about the awesomeness of God.

Seeing my husband and my children smile.


Roller coasters.

Fuzzy Socks.

and Old movies.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

$59 tickets to Europe.

I love Europe

There I said it. 

Period.  End of story.
(not really)

I am that dorky tourist leaning on the Eiffel Tower.  And I completely
plan on taking a picture of me "holding up" the Tower of Pisa.

My first experience in Europe was in 1997 when I was on a summer missions trip to Russia.  Although that was a great, life changing trip, it left something to be desired.  A lot to be desired.

In 2009, my husband and I went to Paris for our 10th wedding anniversary.  It was BEAUTIFUL.  Yes the Metro was dirty.  (and smelled like pee in places)  Yes. It was crowded.  Yes.  It was expensive considering the devaluing Dollar.  But it was Paris.

I remember the morning we arrived.  We took the train into the city, checked into our hotel, and immediately jumped on the Metro to Isle de la Cite.  We came up out of the Metro and I stood there looking at Notre Dame thinking,  "I can't believe I'm really here!"  All the months of planning and saving came down to that very moment.  And I was in love.

This weekend I mentioned that my husband and I are planning a trip to Europe this summer.  Woo-Hoo!  Before our trip to Paris, I began planning our 2nd trip to Europe
I'm sick.  I know. 

Here's why:

During the winter of '08-'09 I began planning our trip to Paris.  I knew where we wanted to go and I knew the approximate dates. (mid-late June)  It all came down airfare.  And anyone who has travelled to Europe knows that airfare is the biggest cost of your trip.  I finally decided that Delta had the best rates at the time so I opened up a Visa/Skymiles account through US Bank.  They were running a promotional 25,000 skymiles award with a new account. 

I DO NOT LIKE CREDIT CARDS.  I don't believe paying for your vacation on credit is really taking a vacation.  I like to pay CASH for vacations.  When I opened the Visa accounts, I had cash in the bank for the vacation.  I paid for my airfare with the Visa and IMMEDIATELY paid it off. 

So back to the story...  At that time we had a total of 25,000 skymiles.  But within a month of having the Visa I received a letter from US Bank stating that they were no longer partnering with Delta and that if I wanted a Delta Skymiles Credit Card, I would have to sign up for an American Express card.  Great.  So I cancelled the Visa and checked into the American Express card.  They were running a similar promotion of 25,000 skymiles for new accounts.  So this time I opened two.  One for me.  One for the husband.  By now we had a total of 75,000 miles. 

By now it was getting close to our trip to Paris.  We were reserving our hotel rooms with the card and earning double miles.  We purchased train tickets to Loire Valley and to London with the card, meanwhile paying it off every month.  During this time, Delta ran another promotion.  If you were travelling to Paris through Minneapolis/St.Paul airport, you could earn an extra 2000 miles each way.  Hello!  We each earned just under 10,000 miles with the trip itself, plus the extra 4,000 a piece.  By the time we came back from Paris we had over 100,000 skymiles!  Add onto that total the amount that we had earned from making all of our reservations, we almost had enough skymiles for 2 "low" rate tickets to Europe.  I paid $75 to transfer miles from my skymiles account to my husbands, which Delta doubled giving us a total of 122,000 miles.

Its important to note that once we reached our goal, we have cancelled the credit cards.  We still have our skymiles accounts, but are paying for our new trip with cash. 

Like I said before, getting to Europe is not cheap.  However, once you are there how much you spend is really up to you.  You can stay at 4-5 star hotels, eat at swanky restaurants and easily spend $10,000 in a week.  Or you can stay at hostels, eat from street vendors and spend significantly less.  I'm not rich enough to stay at the Ritz and I'm too scared to stay at a hostel, so I guess that puts me somewhere in the middle. 

Now comes the fun part...I knew that if I could just get to Europe for under 122,000 skymiles, I could get practically anywhere I wanted to go for pretty cheap.  And keep in mind that airfare for under 122,000 skymiles during the summer months is nearly impossible.  After checking out the fares to the most popular cities, (Paris, London, Rome) I began looking at smaller cities (Zurich, Berlin, Brussels).  Finally I found it!  "Low" rate tickets from Ohio to Brussels, Belgium for 60,000/pp/round trip +$59 tax, in June!  I can get anywhere from Brussels.  Hop on the Eurostar to London or Paris.  Take a cruise to Scandinavia.  Drive to Germany.  Or just fly to another destination. 

And we have chosen to fly to Italy.  We are not leaving the airport in Brussels.  We are getting on a 2 hour flight to Rome.  I just checked on Orbitz while writing this and they offer roundtrip airfare from Brussels (BRU) to Rome(FCO) for $8!  Granted, you have to pay $66 in taxes for a total of $74, but that is much cheaper and much faster than going by train.  So far my total out of pocket costs for this trip is $341.  Woo-Hoo! 

Here's where I need your help.  Our vacation is 2 weeks long.  We have already decided that we want to spend the first week in Italy (Rome, Amalfi Coast, Florence/Pisa and possibly Venice).  We have to decide what to do for the 2nd week.  Here are the options we are considering:

1) Stay in Italy.  I'm sure there is plenty to do...

2)  Take a cruise to Greece and Turkey.  Expensive, but we don't have to worry about getting to each destination.

3)  Go back to France.  Maybe see the French Riviera and make our way back to Paris before heading back to Brussels. 

4) From Rome just start heading north through Italy into Austria and through Germany on our way to Brussels.

Decisions, Decisions....

Please help me decide!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Top 5 Plans for 2011.

Happy New Year!!

I am so excited that 2011 is finally here!  2010 wasn't a bad year for my family, but I always look forward to what the new year is going to bring.  I want to share with you what our plans are for the next year.  Here's the top 5 so far...

5)  I blogged a couple weeks ago about the "Chore Chart for Grown-Ups" here.  Well today is Day 1.  I love it!  I have actually been doing this chart since I shared it with you by skipping to the end of 2011 and following by date.  It is so easy and it has really helped me feel less overwhelmed by my daily chores. 

4)  I am planning to run the Capital City Half Marathon on May 7th.  I wanted to run this marathon last year, but a leg injury prevented it from happening.  I will be blogging more about my progress in this area very soon.  Stay tuned.

3)  I want to learn more about photography.  I started this blog less than a month ago to share with you my life and my photos.  However, in the process, I have realized there is so much more that I need to learn. 

2)  I want to decorate my family room.  Actually what I want to do is switch out my dining room and my family room.  Long story (will write about it very soon), but basically we finished our basement and we now use that as our family room.  I want to move the dining room table into the family room so that we will have the fireplace with our table.  I realize its hard to understand what I'm talking about so I will start snapping some pictures to share with you.

1)  Number 3 must take place very soon because Josh and I are going to ITALY in June!!  There is so much to share with you about this trip that I will have to write a whole other post about it later this week.  (Sneak Peek:  It involves $59 airfare to Europe from the US!)  I will be looking for all of your travelling advice on what to do and where to go and what to see, but wait until I write about it so you have a better idea of our time frame.

By the way, Thank you so much for all of the encouragement that you all have given me during my first few weeks of blogging.  I am enjoying meeting new people and I look forward to getting to know you better during the next year. Happy New Year and God Bless!

And in case you are wondering.... these are 100 year old postcards that were given to my great-great-Grandfather.  See!  My family really does keep EVERYTHING!
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