Friday, January 16, 2015

TALENT: GIFT FROM GOD {REPOST}

This was originally posted March 6, 2010, 28 months before the accident that took Nate's life.  



My eight-year-old grandson, Nate, drew this picture the other day to go with a report that he is doing on Dr. Seuss.  It is obvious to me that this is talent.  He has been drawing this well for years--with either hand.  We are all pretty impressed.  Amazing.  Talented.  Gifted.  And guess what?  He came that way--straight from God.


Nate's Dr. Seuss
Now talent is an interesting topic.  Most people--and I am one of them--are impressed with four main areas of talent:  art, music, sports, and academics.  Achievement in any of those categories means something to almost everybody.  If you don't believe me, just go re-read all of the Christmas letters you got which chronicled the accomplishments of your friends' children--you know, the ones that left you feeling like you were a failure as a parent because your children are so ordinary.  Have you ever received one that showcased obedience or compassion or brotherly love or my favorite:  common sense?

As a parent, I have tried to identify some talent or strength in each of my children in which to invest--so they could feel special.   I have studied them from infancy to find that spark to fan, hoping that in doing so, it would build confidence and give them a passion for something unique to them.  

I secretly--or not so secretly--have wanted to find a hint of one of the top four talents. Unfortunately for them, my children don't come from overachieving, talented stock.  My husband and I are just average folks, born to average parents.  We have average intelligence and average looks and average abilities.  We don't sing or dance or play an instrument or have a shelf of trophies for our athletic accomplishments.  We don't even hold college degrees.

Perhaps if a spark had been identified when we were younger, it may have been fanned into a campfire; but even with fanning, it would not have produced a forest fire. Average.  Straight-from-God average.

Regardless of our stock, I've enrolled my children in piano, drum, violin, and harp lessons.  I have signed them up for basketball, baseball, soccer, and dance.  I have even paid for art lessons.  And guess what?  Not a musician, athlete, or artist among them.  I have read the classics to them and paid for higher education and guess what?  They are not geniuses.  I  have  fanned--believe you me--and even threw in  some accelerant--and they still appear to be just like their parents:  straight-from-God average.

Or maybe not.

Perhaps God thinks things are special that the world does not.  I'd like to think that God has, in fact, gifted me and my family with talents--no matter how seemingly insignificant--to be used for His purpose.  And more importantly, I'd like to think that we are being faithful to Him with those talents.

I wonder if others have questioned God's sovereignty when it comes to His choice in gift giving.  I know that through my 33 years of parenting, there have been times when I--yes, I know it's horribly selfish--wanted more for my children than their heavenly Father has seen fit to give them.  I've wanted more for myself as well. 

Since writing this, I have seen some serious return on my dance lesson investment with my youngest daughter, Tessa.  That may or may not mean something.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

TO MAC AND BACK - REPOST

This post was written in 2009, and it remains one of my all-time favorites.  

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Everyone one of us will have that aha moment when we realize that no matter what we do or what we are willing to pay or how much we wish it, some things just ain't (yes, I have used the forbidden word) reversible. Like when you're 52, you're 52. A--HA! It doesn't matter that your mind lives in denial and you're willing to spend whatever it costs (well, excluding investing in surgical procedures and anything involving needles with puff-it-up or plump-it-out or freeze-in-place capabilities) or you've blown out a zillion wish candles--my point again. Time waits for no man--or woman.

lipstick

You would think that life experience coupled with two years of hot flashes peppered with a fair amount of hormonally-induced emotional outbursts at inopportune times would have prepared me for the changes that seemingly overnight have taken place to my face. But it hasn't. That occasional glimpse as I walk by a mirror in a public place reminding me that I ain't no spring chicken any more still surprises me.

I have arrived though.

Last night's experience of being stark naked--not literally--what a god-awful thought--but make-up free under bright lights in a public place surrounded by young people has finally done it. If acceptance is a twelve-step program, I am now on number 13. How lucky for me.

I don't really care how many times the young MAC artist told me differently. I probably should have been in the Clinique chair to begin with. Notice the close proximity behind Aunt Marie.

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Whatever was I thinking. And who's idea was it to go to my first ever makeover with 30-year-olds? Yes, Aunt Marie was there, but her skin is amazing and she wasn't having an identity crisis.

The whining must stop and the show must begin. Too bad for me.

Oh, and one more thing. I will offer very important advice throughout this post just because I am older and wiser. Those tidbits will be in red for obvious reasons.

Emily was just full of astute observations and sage advice after the fact. So, if you are inclined to go for a makeover with a young person with flawless skin--which I strongly discourage--please require them to share this information on the front end. Trust me on this one.

My makeup artist would not allow me to photograph her, only her necklace. so that leaves the description up to me. Two words: Tammy Faye. I know, Edie, you love it or you don't. I don't.


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While I was getting my face scrubbed would have been a good time for Emily to share her sage advice: Always choose a makeup artist that sports a look you would like to have.

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Hello! I didn't know that. I honestly would have chosen hers if she had told me in advance. She did not play fair, and that is all I'm going to say. And I will have to post the following photo out of order to make my point.

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The second bit of advice that Emily and everybody else seemed to have after the fact was to communicate clearly what you want. Hello again. Don't you go for a makeover because you don't have a clue what you want? I have watched countless episodes of What Not to Wear, and Carmindy always takes control. I was trusting the expert when I said, "You decide what will work."

Perhaps if she asked me what I did for a living or how many grandchildren I had or where I shop or what I do in my spare time, the barn may have been painted differently. But she didn't. I was assured though that she was a soccer mom and her son was a very good student. She must have been judged by her appearance in the past to share such information. I wasn't judging.

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Marie was really bonding with her artist, and Kelly was snapping photos and waiting patiently while hers waited on customers.

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It physically pains me to post this next photo. I realize that I wasn't quite finished yet, but the camera does not lie. And I'm too poor now to buy Photoshop.

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And my good friend, Emily, does not lie either. I believe her exact quote was "I like the top of your eyes." What are good friends for anyway?

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The artist suggested that I fluff my hair.

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No amount of fluffing was going to help.
I looked like Tammy Faye without the lashes. Lashes were out of the budget. I know that because I asked just to be polite and to make conversation with my artist who buys them by the case. She must get a discount.

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Really, I tried to like the new look, but when I got up to view the others' progress, something happened inside. It was not just the realization that I was older and more wrinkly than the rest, but nobody else had been made up to look like a pentecostal preacher's wife--even though one was at least the preacher's wife part.

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Although, at one point, Kelly did look like a battered wife. She learned that eye makeup is to be applied first so that you can clean up the overdusting. Yes, I made up that word, and she did not want me taking this picture.

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And the end results were pretty amazing for Tammy's friend and relatives. Some were more comfortable in front of a camera than others.

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Aren't those eyes amazing?

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We are just about at the climax of this story. It was about this time that something started to happen to me. It wasn't just the hot flash or the low blood sugar or the trauma of being naked in the department store. This uninvited and unwanted wave of utter disappointment in the finished product just came over me, and it made me cry--I mean literally. My makeup artist left to no doubt spend time with her well-adjusted soccer playing son, and I was left feeling abandoned and wishing that I was not going to be the one to prove that MAC was waterproof.

Not that I really wanted to be able to repeat the look at home, but I wanted to buy something. Confusion and a whole host of other feelings hit me like tomatoes being thrown at a performer. Only I wasn't performing. I just wanted to look my personal best, and I was certain that this was not it. Or was it.

It's pretty sad when the MAC makeup artist asks to hug you . . .

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and counsel you . . .

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. . . while your friend dances to cheer you up.
How sweet. How humiliating.
How so much a part of this hormonal time of life.

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By some miracle, I was able to dry my tears and allow her to do her magic. She wiped and swiped and concealed, and in the end restored my spirit and emptied my pocketbook.

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Our department store visit ended with a visit to the Chanel counter where we met Jeffrey who allowed us to take his photo. We promised to go back for another makeover with him in a few weeks. He shared a few of his tricks with us and promised to have even more after his conference next week. We think he used to smoke something funny, but that is another story for another day. He even allowed us to take some final shots under his lighted umbrella. We felt like models as Kelly kept reminding us to smile with our eyes!

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Surely, this post will get the Edie award.
That's all I can hope for.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

DEODORANT AND FOAMING FACE WASH RECIPES

post contains an affiliate link to Amazon
I have been making these two products for quite a while now, and can honestly say that I love them both!  The deodorant takes a little time to get used to because your body has to adjust to not having chemicals applied.  Winter is a great season to make the switch.  One of the things I worried about in the beginning was the possibility of the coconut oil staining my clothing.  It has not.  This deodorant has even seen me through an outdoor wedding in south Florida in May!  It is good stuff!  I recently made the little batch in a glass measuring cup in the microwave.  The important thing is to mix it up several times during the cooling process and before you put it in the container.



I am including links to the hard-to-find products that I buy from Amazon: 




I typically buy my coconut oil from Trader Joe's.  To sign up to purchase Young Living essential oils wholesale as a distributor, click here.

Monday, January 05, 2015

HOMESCHOOLING EXPECTATIONS

post contains an affiliate link
This year I committed to unofficially homeschooling  my granddaughter and her friend a few days a week.  Mostly, we read great literature together, write a lot, learn a ton of new vocabulary words, memorize all kinds of things, and touch on history and geography. Science and math are their mothers' problems responsibilities.  
Kenzie working with Bennett . . . doing what Bennett does
After homeschooling my own kiddos for 14 years, I went to work at a classical Christian school for 7; and if there is one thing I took away that has changed the way I now homeschool my granddaughter, it is a better understanding of children's capabilities. Again and again, I witnessed the unbelievable ability children have to memorize.  On my first go-around, my expectations were in direct proportion to my ability--or I should say, my inability--to memorize or assimilate new knowledge.  

I often said during school tours, that if I had to do it again, I would expect so much more from my children.

Kenzie and Anna have given me that chance, and I have likewise challenged them quite a bit.  And they have cheerfully accepted that challenge.  Why?  Because it is not difficult for them to memorize or learn new things.  Their ten-year-old brains are designed to do so.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

SNEAKY - MEMORY PROJECT DAY 18

(adjective)
furtive, sly

I have a very vivid memory of being sneaky when I was very young, definitely pre-school age.  My dad was not flexible at all.  If he said something, he was not inclined to back down.  This particular night, he decided that I would not be allowed up from the table until I finished everything on my plate.  I was not in the mood for mashed potatoes that particular night, so I was stuck sitting there for a very long time.  So long that everyone finally left the room, which gave me the perfect opportunity to scrape them back into the serving dish and announce that I had finished.  

I can't believe that my mother did not figure that out.  Maybe she didn't think I should have to eat the potatoes either.

Easter morning with the family who apparently did not own a lawnmower.  We had a cool bird bath though.  




Saturday, December 27, 2014

YOUNG LIVING INFORMATION

If you are interested in joining the Young Living family and being a part of a group that is committed to educating and encouraging others on the use of essential oils, you can do so by clicking here and/or contacting me personally.

Our family of Young Life distributors has a private Facebook page with over 18,000 contributors.  It contains a search feature to help in finding the answers to any question one may have about an ailment or an oil.  While it is not meant to take the place of a medical professional, it is very helpful for those interested in taking a more proactive approach to health and well being.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me through the tab above.  

PRODUCTS TO COMPLEMENT MY ESSENTIAL OIL USAGE

post contains Amazon affiliate links
I may be new to essential oils, but I've been exploring and experimenting with healthier alternative treatments for common and not-so-common ailments for many years.  I am so excited to see that a lot more folks are coming around to the logic of this way of thinking. The state of healthcare in the United States is declining quickly, and the less people can be dependent upon the system and the drugs said system promotes, the better off they will be.  Yes, that is my very strong opinion.

I am not discounting modern medicine.  My husband just had a pacemaker inserted for goodness sakes.  I am saying that many, many illnesses can and should be treated in a more natural way.  

I am not an expert and probably never will be, but what I am is willing to try a natural remedy when possible.  So far I have been very pleased with my whole Young Living essential oil experience.  Even though I am not quite ready to write a testimony of a miracle cure to anything--mainly because I have not used them long enough or for anything major--I am ready to say that I am addicted to diffusing and certain scents and am on a mission to try them all!
I have always been a smell person.  I love candles and fabric softeners and perfume.  I now feel so much better knowing that my smell addiction is being fed by something that is also good for me and my health in general.  And I will go as far as to say that the oils I have applied and diffused over the holidays--along with the prayers of many--did, in fact, help keep the depression at bay.  I know they helped because I began to crave them before I plummeted.

I am not much of a resolution maker, but I do like to start each new year by taking some positive steps.  I usually commit to a more disciplined schedule, organize a bunch, plan a renovation project, and decide on something new to try or to learn.  Last year it was soap making.  I am pretty sure that this will be the year of essential oils.  Just the little I've learned so far is fascinating.

If you are considering exploring a healthier lifestyle and the use of essential oils, you may be interested in the list of products that I have personally purchased and used that complement my oil usage.

SKOY CLEANING CLOTHS ($7.19 for four)
I love, love, love these cleaning cloths.  The product info states that one cloth will take the place of 15 rolls of paper towels, but I think it may be more!   They are super absorbent and great to wipe down countertops.  Because they are 70% wood and 30% cotton, they are completely biodegradable; but that does not mean that they are not strong!  I know that because I recently turned the garbage disposal on with one in it.  There was not even a slice in the cloth when I pulled it out.  I've washed them many times and throw them in the dishwasher as well.  I read that you can sterilize them in the microwave, but I have not done that.

Pair these with a Thieves cleaning solution--which I plan on making as soon as my order comes in--and I know it will be a win-win!  I may even enjoy cleaning the kitchen! 

Friday, December 19, 2014

GIFT FROM GOD

In October of 2011, my family, my daughter's family, and two other families decided to start a new tradition for fall break and camp at Beartree in southwest Virginia. We had camped a lot together--but this time would be a bit different.  Camping at Beartree is real camping with no hook-ups or cell phone service.  There are, however, bears and raccoons and other critters.  It is a beautiful state park--in the wilderness. 

The weather that weekend was perfect, and the fall foliage was at its peak.  Kids and adults settled in, playing games, building fires, riding bikes, and engaging with one another.  In other words, we got busy making the kind of memories that last a lifetime. Looking back, even three years later, I still consider that weekend to be one of the best of my life.

On Saturday, the majority of our group was shuttled to the top of the mountain to bike the Virginia Creeper Trail.  It was the first time for my youngest daughter and three of my grandchildren.  They loved the scenic, downhill ride through the state forest and back country so much that they returned the next day to do it again!  You might say that my family's love affair with the trail and the area started that weekend.  For me, it was to be the beginning of something much bigger than I could have imagined at the time.  A small seed had been planted that was destined to grow a journey.
my family, my daughter's family, and our friends
Just nine months later, my world would be shaken so violently that hope would have to be hunted down with an  intensity of new dimension for my very survival.  The sudden, accidental deaths of my eleven-year-old grandson, Nate, and his friend, Noah, on July 4, 2012, would cement the nagging need I had to discern the purpose of God for what remained of my life.  I could no longer live life hoping there was a purpose.