Fingerprints and Stains
It's about to get very real here. Instead of showing only the best images of my life, here's some pictures of my shower wall. And the stains left behind from the bath crayons and paints.
Oops? Yes. I guess you could say it was a bit of an oops to not check a small corner of the tub before letting the children go full-throttle with their bath art, just to make sure the colors wouldn't remain after washing them off. And yet ... this doesn't bother me.
Let me explain a bit more.
One, we're probably going to replace this tub eventually anyway.
But, more importantly, fingerprints and stains like these bring me a little joy. Because they mean I have children living in my house.
For those of you who haven't already heard my story, it took us six and a half years to be able to get pregnant with my daughter. That summer, we visited some friends who had also had fertility issues (and ended up adopting the son who was absolutely perfect for their family). She told me of when they were picking out a new fridge when they were still waiting for their boy. The sales clerk had warned her that if she bought the stainless steel one, it was more prone to having smudges and fingerprints leftover from little hands. She couldn't think of anything happier. Because those prints would mean that the biggest desire of her heart had come true.
So, when I see these leftover artistic endeavors, it doesn't make me cringe like it might some. Instead, it reminds me that God gave me a great big YES to my prayers all those years ago.
And I especially like this one.
So, next time you find a mess made by those toddlers and preschoolers (or older) running around your house, think about how boring and empty it would fill if they weren't around. And maybe send up a thank you for the fingerprints and stains.
Do you have any favorite marks left behind by your children? Anything you need to look at a little differently?
My garden is more of a jungle than anything right now. See?
The sunflower stalks are dead and ugly, standing tall above the few plants remaining. All that's left in my two plots are tomatoes, pumpkins, and marigolds. We can't mow very close to the pumpkin vines that have stretched out, into, and across the yard. So, the big green leaves and bright yellow flowers fight with the tall green stalks to gain their sunlight. The marigolds are flourishing. The tomatoes seem to have gained a second wind. And in the midst of everything, there are bright orange spots of hope.
I've already picked three. These beauties will probably be harvested in the next week. And there are at least three more still mostly green.
I'm so excited. We're already talking about pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cookies, mmmm.
My three-year-old says, "It's pumpkin season, Mommy!" Yes, it is. It's officially fall, and all the pumpkin decorations are coming out at our house to get ready for one of our favorite times of year.
What do you love most about this time of year? Are you a pumpkin lover or hater?
If you've followed me long at all, you know I love to read. And that I don't only read contemporary novels, either. I adore historicals, too. I just don't want to write them because it takes tons of research and I am terrified of getting something wrong. So, instead, I curl up with a book where someone else has done the research for me.
That being said, every now and then I'm reminded of how blessed we are to live in this day and age. After all, people haven't always had the ability to simply run to the store and pick up a can of vegetables from the shelf. Instead, they had to plant a garden, make sure it grew as well as possible, and then preserve the excess to enjoy during the winter months. I got a little taste of that this summer. My garden did better this year than the year before. I ended up reaping six pints of spaghetti sauce, five of salsa, twenty of green beans. And that's not including the veggies we ate as we picked them, including squash and one carrot. And the ones we gave away.
All I have left now is pumpkins and tomatoes. But I'm feeling very blessed indeed to be able to feed my family the harvest of our hard work over the next few months. I'm still enjoying the tomatoes for as long as my garden continues to produce. And I'm looking forward to all sorts of pumpkin goodies in the coming months.
I'm also glad I don't have to solely rely on my garden. We wouldn't have much in the way of variety. :-)
So, do you ever perform a task that makes you glad you don't live "way back when?" Or does doing such things simply give you a better appreciation for all you have access to today? Anyone have any gardening stories you want to share?
Real Life Romance: Refined by Fire
You are all in for a big treat today. Sandi Rog has been one of the biggest blessings in my path to being a published author. She was the first to see the potential in my story, and believed in it so much that she helped me polish it up and then published it herself. But she has a beautiful story of her own, and I LOVE how strongly you can see the real love in the relationship between her and her husband as she tells this heart-rending account of a very dark time in her life. Love isn't always the big gestures. A lot of time it's found in the little things. Read on to hear her story.
They say stress causes disease. And they’re right. My marriage was once infected with such a harmful virus, that this type of brokenness rarely found a cure. I was so damaged, I sincerely believed my husband didn’t love me.
Because of my broken and bruised heart, I was crushed in spirit, so I “knew” without a doubt my husband and children would be better off without me (I sincerely believed my mother-in-law, who is a beautiful woman inside and out, would do a much better job raising my kids than I ever could), and my husband could easily find someone to replace me. So, I’d begged God to let me be done with this life.
From all the stress, I got an autoimmune disease called M.S. (Multiple Sclerosis), which is a disease where one’s immune system attacks the myelin sheath in the brain that protects and insulates nerve fibers, basically causing a “short circuit” of the brain connections to different parts of the body. It had caused deafness in my right ear, severe vertigo, and also numbness on my entire left side. This was all due to the stress my disease-ridden marriage had caused.
To top it off, the M.S. medication and the huge amounts of prednisone I needed in order to fend off the symptoms triggered by this harrowing disease, lowered my immune system, causing Non-Hodgkins T-cell Lymphoma, a blood cancer. So, when they told me I had cancer, I was glad. That was my ticket out of here. I could finally go to heaven and get away from the spiritual warzone in my life.
Once I got the cancer diagnosis, my husband told me he’d not leave me and would be by my side every step of the way. The fact that he voiced those words helped. But still I doubted. I doubted if he truly loved me because his actions during the recent years of our marriage said otherwise. I just assumed he was “doing good” out of guilt and did what he knew was “right” because he didn’t want to lose his soul. It had nothing to do with truly loving me. It was simply about saving himself from God’s wrath. That’s what I believed, anyway.
After the first month of battling cancer, God showed me a truth. My mother-in-law came all the way from Holland to help our family through this ordeal. It was as if God said, “You think your mother-in-law would do a much better job raising your kids than you, then sit down on this couch and watch her raise your kids for an entire year.” That’s exactly what happened. I watched my poor mother-in-law raise my kids, working herself to exhaustion. It wasn’t that she did a bad job. Not at all! But what God showed me is that only a mother can deeply understand the needs of her children. And that was me! All of a sudden, I saw my value as a mother. God used cancer to reveal that to me. This knowledge terrified me because I no longer wanted to die, and I desperately wanted to live! My children needed me! So at this point, I asked God to keep me alive.
The second thing that God revealed through all of this was my husband’s love. Nearly every evening I’d be too weak to undress myself for bed. My husband was always at hand to help me. I’d cry because I was so exhausted, and he’d literally wipe away my tears. You know the song “I Won’t Let Go” by Rascal Flatts? That’s now “our” song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BW9zMSwKIdU This song completely describes my husband. He was desperate to find God’s way for me to be cured. As I received my first round of chemo, he’d said between clenched teeth, “I know God has provided a natural remedy for this!” Well, he was right! He even defied doctor’s orders to give me what I needed to save my life (2 Chronicles 16:12-13). He’s my hero. After a two-year fight, God led him to my cure, but that’s another story (you can read about it here: www.beatcancerwithb17.weebly.com). In the end, it was a simple act of kindness that finally opened my eyes to the fact that he truly does love me. Keep in mind, my husband plans out everything, and is rarely spontaneous. I was sitting on a chair in the bathroom as he was shaving my head for the umpteenth time. I looked at myself in the mirror and saw this strange-looking, pale, fat woman with no hair staring back at me. How grotesque! How can anyone love this? But when my husband was done, on impulse, he bent over and kissed my bald head. In that one moment, I knew that he truly loved me. I mean, who would do that? Who would bend over and kiss their fat wife on her bald head if he didn’t love her? I cried tears of joy because God caused my husband to do this right at a moment I believed I was unlovable.
The final thing that God showed me in all of this was just how much He loves me. He disciplines those He loves, and He used this horrific circumstance to not only show me my value, the love of my husband, but He showed me that He was paying attention to me. He knew my pain. He knew my doubts. And He wiped them all away. God used cancer to repair our marriage and my self-worth and reignited a fire within me to experience the deep and everlasting love of my Lord and Savior.
Sandi Rog is an international and award-winning author of The Master’s Wall, Yahshua’s Bridge, and Walks Alone. Her latest novel, Out of the Ashes, won First Place in the 2016 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award. Also a mother of four, she lived in Holland for thirteen years and now lives in Colorado with her husband, children, a cat, and too many spiders.
Nathaniel Ward, wealthy entrepreneur, needs a wife. But he’s not interested in the preening, high-society women who are offered to him on a silver platter. He wants one woman, and one woman alone: a girl who gave him all the money in her reticule when the Great Chicago Fire left him destitute. He sets out to find this woman and discovers she’s unattached. There’s only one problem, a shotgun wedding may be able to bind them, but will he ever be able to win her heart?
Amelia E. Taylor blows a kiss to a street rat. Little did she know, years later that kiss would follow her to Green Pines, Colorado. When a handsome stranger arrives in her hometown, she guards her heart from the stirrings this man ignites. Despite society’s disapproval of spinsterhood, she is determined not to marry, having witnessed first-hand the lack of love and horrors that accompany marriage. But will a shotgun wedding reveal blessings that arise out of the ashes?
Interested? Buy it here.
I would like to think I am a consistent person. That I am dependable, if not sometimes predictable. However, I am noticing that I am not always as consistent as I mean to be. At least, we haven't been very consistent in trying to potty train our son. Part of it is him still not really wanting to be potty-trained yet. That definitely lowers the incentive on our parts to continue working at it. However, I know it works better if we are regular in our attempts instead of sporadic like we have been mostly since vacation. When we only remember to make him try every now and then instead of every thirty minutes to an hour, we almost always have to change several diapers a day. He's not ready to tell us he needs to go yet, and he needs that clockwork to be able to be accident-free.
It seems like I read somewhere that you have to do something thirty times to make it a habit. In other words, making your bed in the morning, or reading your Bible every day, etc. Doing it only a few days won't make it something that you remember to do consistently from then on. Instead, you must continue to remind yourself to do it for that first month. After that, it should come more naturally. And yes, both of those things have become habits in my life. As well as emptying and loading the dishwasher each day. And praying first thing in the morning before I get up, as well as in the shower at night. Or during times when I'm writing/editing, making sure I do at least a chapter or two a day. Good habits. But if I miss a day or two for one reason or another, it's harder the next day to remember to do those things. All the more reason for me to make sure I do it every day.
Do you have things you wish to be consistent about? What's something you find the hardest to be regular about? What's something you wish wasn't a habit?
This is a place for me to share thoughts and ideas not just related to writing. Thoughts about what's going on in my life, about an idea I got that I thought shareworthy, or just a funny anecdote.