Friday, August 30, 2013

Tips For A Successful Marriage

Before you were married did anyone tell you the elements for success in your relationship?
Did they tell you that God was the base, the never ending circle, the foundation for all of it?
  Did they emphasize the importance of being strongly committed to HIM?
And did they tell you would need the beauty of trust and respect right up front and center in order for your marriage to be strong?
And while they were talking to you, did they happen to mention that if selfishness should rear its ugly head, the beauty of your marriage would be distorted, possibly even destroyed?

Were they kind enough to insist that selfishness had no place in your relationship and you must pitch it out, throw it away and move on, never letting it take hold and destroy what you have worked tirelessly to build together?
Did they remind you that it takes two, both of you, unselfishly, giving 200%?
Did they tell you, when two become one, LOVE is around you, in you, placing a touch of beauty that can't be denied?
And did they say that LOVE is an action, a selfless action, even when it's not a feeling?
Did they remind you that romance doesn't come in the form of fancy cruises and expensive trips to Paris and lavish dinners? While all of that is wonderful and fun, romance, the sparkle and sizzle in your marriage, comes in small ways, in the everyday routine, remembering to do the little things that matter, kindness, thoughtfulness and saying, "I love you", first thing in the morning, and the last thing at night.
Did they remind you that "happily ever after" begins now?
  It IS NOW.
  It is THIS moment, this action, this kindness, this apology, this forgiveness, this hard time, this challenge to overcome...together.
Yes, "happily ever after" is NOW!
Whatever NOW is giving you,
THAT is "happily ever after".
Stephanie and Gage, thank you for the honor of sharing a devotional on marriage at your wedding shower.
As we previously discussed, I placed a few snippets of what was said that day, here, as a way for you to remember.
Congratulations for a wonderful life together.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Not So Great Photos~ And how to make pancake syrup

So, yeah, you're right!
These photos of a little sauce pan on my stove just aren't that incredible!
I know it!
Though now that I look at it more closely, the purplish ring around the burner is kinda neat, huh?
this pancake syrup is out of this world.
My kids LOVE it.
In fact, if I buy syrup at the store and "cheat" by warming it up and serving it with pancakes, they are disappointed.
I really try not to disappoint them, because I love 'em and all and I try to be nice like that.
Just thought I'd throw that in for what it's worth!
So here's how ya do it!
How to make pancake syrup:
Grab a little sauce pan.
Or get it if you prefer that rather than grabbing it.
Just get one, cuz ya gotta have it.
Pack a cup full of brown sugar in a measuring cup and put that in the pan.
Measure a cup full of white sugar and put that in the pan.
Then measure a cup full of water and put that in the pan.
Then put the pan with the sugar and the water on the stove on high and let it come to a rolling boil for 5 minutes.
Well, I mean the total time the pan is on the burner is 5 minutes and it should be a rolling boil when you take it off.
Just turn on the burner under the pan and set the timer for 5 minutes.
That's how you do that.
Just thought I'd through that info in
because you might wonder,
and I don't want you to wonder.
Yeah, because I'm nice like that.
Ok so back to the subject...
...only 5 minutes cook time.
Then take it off the burner and add a dash of salt,
(probably about an 1/8 of a tsp.)
and a blob of vanilla
(probably about 1 tsp.)
Stir it.
And then when your pancakes are ready, so is the syrup!
It is ever so yummy.
And it's hot and steamy and melts the butter on the pancakes.
Well you probably could have guessed that it melts the butter,
but I told you anyway.
Now go try it for yourself. 
how do you make your syrup?
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup water
cook 5 minutes
add 1/8 tsp salt
add 1 tsp vanilla
on pancakes of course!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Perfection ~ Roses In A Vase

Perhaps at times you have driven along country roads enjoying the summer breezes and the smells of summer wafting through the air. And if those summer country smells haven't been so pleasant maybe, just maybe, as you cruise the city streets you've seen gorgeous roses that you wanted to take home for your table and enjoy roses in a vase. 
Maybe you have longed for things to be way way way different than they really are.

In that picture above I can focus on that one brown petal on that one pink rose and freak out and think you don't want to see my imperfect photo of roses in a vase.
Or I can choose to share the joy of  the roses in a vase, with one brown petal.
Sometimes our own ideas, preferences or opinions, hold us back from pure joy, from sensing a measure of success and satisfaction.
The "ideal of perfection" distracts from good.
The joy of a good life can be hindered by my perception of an "ideal life".
The joy of good children can be hindered by my perception of "ideal children".
The joy of a good house can be hindered by my perception of an "ideal house".
The joy of a good job can be hindered by my perception of an "ideal job".
The joy of a good husband can be hindered by my perception of an "ideal husband".
The joy of a good marriage can be hindered by my perception of an "ideal marriage".
Who defines perfection anyway?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How To Catch A Groundhog

I honestly don't know how to catch a groundhog. 
My really smart brother figured that out.
I just showed up at the perfect time to be appropriately amazed.
This guy got a tad too close to my brother's chicken house.
I think we were all surprised to see that his trap was "catching a groundhog"!
Mr. Groundhog had to be deported to another neck of the woods after posing for the necessary photos.
I don't know if  he found some other chickens to chase,
or maybe he just settled for munching a tree root.
I was fascinated with his teeth.
I am easily fascinated!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

This Is The Cute Life!

Who loves a wild baby bunny, quickly named Cinnamon,
and  who builds a little wild bunny house, completely decorated with flowers,
and who enjoys bottle feeding a wild baby bunny,
before releasing the wild baby bunny in the grass?
Apparently she does!
AND I do too!
There's cuteness all around.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Indianapolis Power and Light Building (along the journey)

After leaving our son at the University in Illinois, for his Junior year, on the return trip home we needed to take some measurements on a job downtown Indianapolis. 
The sun was setting and dusk was all around.
Once the job was squared away, we circled around beautiful Monument Circle.
Indianapolis Power and Light had their office building all lit up!
It was breathtaking with the full moon overhead and the flowers and fountains surrounding the monument.
The weather was perfect.
People were walking and chatting and riding the horse drawn carriages.
Cars were slowly weaving in and out around the activity of the circle.
A group of motorcycles lined the sidewalk and some of the riders were simply sitting on their bikes looking around, taking in the sight.
We circled the monument two or three times and I managed to hastily snap this photo.
It will always be etched in my memory.
I have pondered God's faithfulness for many years.
He is faithful when we can't see.
He is faithful when we can't feel.
He is faithful when the path is different that we choose.
So I  ponder this, do I really believe?
It's easy to flippantly spout off the cliche that He's faithful.
Can I say this from the depths of my being?
Do I truly believe?
Do I live like I believe?
When times are tough,
when I face the fears of uncertainty,
when I realize that I don't know my future path,
the journey I will walk?
Yes, HE is faithful.
I have to rely on my past experiences where HE has been faithful to me.

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Recipe For Sweet Tea, of course!

 I found out recently, quite by accident, that some people use a recipe to make  Sweet Tea!
Of course, why hadn't I thought to do that? 
Use a recipe? 
That makes perfect sense.
People often ask me how I make my Sweet Tea.
Well, now I will be happy to tell you since you ask so polite like and all, my precious darlin'.
I buy Great Value Decaffeinated Black Tea from Walmart with family size  tea bags, 
nothing fancy smancy.
Then I put an inch of cold water in the bottom of a little stainless steel sauce pan.
Only I don't measure it with a ruler or anything.
I just eyeball it.
No, I don't use a measuring cup either.
I'm so sorry to let you down like that.
After I get all the important stuff done,
then I put it on a burner on the stove,
and set the dial to HI.
 Then I watch it real close,
like a hawk,
eyeballing it every few minutes.
Because I always say that if you let the water come to a full boil,
well then the Sweet Tea will be bitter!
No one wants bitter Sweet Tea.
And I've actually forgotten about my boiling tea, because I was making Alfredo Sauce, or washing dishes, or texting my kids, or returning quotes to customers, or sitting on the sofa eating chocolate bonbons...haha...and you know what, the tea came to a full on rolling boil, but I just ignored it and  pretended that I was all in control and on top of everything culinary, and that the tea didn't boil...yes, I pretended that, absolutely, and tried to restrain my perfectionism from throwing it away and starting over...and you know what the tea was perfect!!! Nope not bitter at all.
But still I don't let my tea come to a full on rolling boil, if I can help it.
So as soon as I see those first little bitty boiling bubbles start,
I yank it off the burner!
Fast, I tell ya'.
And I let it steep in the boiling water for 39 seconds.
No I don't time it. 
I just guessed at that too, because I'm hurrying to pour the hot tea water into the pitcher to melt the sugar.
I think that's about how long it takes me to get it from the stove to the pitcher of waiting WHITE SUGAR.
I know...don't go hatin' me.
I use a cup...ssshhhh...and a half of white sugar.
I know this because I measured it with an actual measuring cup the other night.
See I've always just thrown two scoops of sugar into the pitcher.
But the other night when I was making tea, I decided to be all prim and proper and fancy.
So I measured it!
Yes, I actually measured with a measuring cup the amount of the two scoops that I typically just throw into the pitcher.
I mean I kinda throw the sugar in there, not the scoop!
Oh my!
I was aghast that it was actually a CUP AND A HALF...
so I only used one cup of sugar. :(
Then I heard it.
"MOM? Why is the tea not sweet enough?"
"Well, because you don't actually think that I can reveal to the world wide web that I use
A CUP AND A HALF  of white sugar in a gallon of tea do you?"
But yeah, I do.
Ok so I  got side tracked... after the hot tea has melted the sugar,
 I fill the little sauce pan up with cold water to get more yummy black tea goodness from the tea bags that I have left in the pan.
I swish that around real good like until the tea bags don't make brown water anymore.
And I pour that left over brown water from the tea bags into the pitcher too.
Now that sounded gross.
Then I fill my pitcher up with cold water.
And my pitcher will hold one gallon of cold water.
I know because I measured it!
Only, it's a gallon minus one inch.
Yes, I measured.
I filled a gallon jug with water.
Well, I actually used a gallon of distilled water, just to measure.
And it filled the pitcher and there was an inch of distilled water left in the bottom of the jug.
No I didn't measure with  a ruler or anything.
Yep, I just eyeballed it.
So THAT my darling is how I make SWEET TEA,
with all its sugary Southern goodness.
Funny thing!
Growing up, we NEVER had Sweet Tea.
And just in case NEVER would be too strong of a word, I will digress and say, I don't remember drinking Sweet Tea when I was growing up.
Now though, I think I could probably down that gallon between 9 a.m. and noon.
But, alas, I only allow myself an occasional 4 inches in a glass.
No, I don't measure it.
I just eyeball that too!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pondering the Blue Winged Butterfly...(not sure of the fancy proper like name)

I read or heard somewhere that everyday we should go outside and look up into the sky for one minute, don't say a word, but simply think about how wonderful life is.
I thought that sounded like a good idea.
I went outside.
I got distracted by this beautiful butterfly.
I was DEFINITELY NOT looking up into the sky.
I think the butterfly was drinking water from the mulch.
It fanned its wings in a rhythmic pattern.
Open. Close. Open. Close.
The flowers had been freshly watered.
The butterfly wouldn't tell me why it preferred to sit on the mulch as opposed to the flowers.
That did seem a bit strange to me.
I didn't say a word though.
There is beauty all around.
Miracles happen constantly.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Novels or Not?

 A few weeks ago a friend and I was having a conversation about books.  I told her I couldn't remember the last time I read a novel, though I read voraciously.  It's not the genre to which I am drawn.
She said a well written novel can produce change in the reader.
I've thought about her comment a lot.
It seems that I have so many rough edges and areas that need improvement. 
I generally gravitate toward books for self-improvement.
It's most common that I have several books that I'm reading at the same time.
Well not AT THE SAME all at once, but yeah, at the same time, or all mixed up at the same time. Or something like that.
You know what I mean right?
I skip from one book to the other and back again. 
I rarely sit and read a book straight through.
Generally I read on the the a traffic light...waiting on something...trying to restrain myself from reading the good ones as I drive!
...and at bed...on the back porch...during a break
I'm curious?
Do you read a book straight through start to finish before you start another?
What is your favorite genre?
Do you sit and read straight through,
or on the go?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Deck Flowers

School started last week.
That's right, last Wednesday.
July 31, 2013, to be exact.
Who starts school on July 31st?
Well, apparently we do!
Yes, US, WE, Weeuns, Youuns!
 (or however you spell those words)
Aren't the splotches of sunlight beautiful sprinkled across our neighbor's fence?
This past Saturday evening I walked out on the porch.
I thought of all the things I still needed to accomplish that day.
I thought of the week behind.
Sunlight was glinting on the fern and the fence.
I saw the deck flowers from a different perspective.
I pondered our summer.
I pondered our quickly passing year!
What more can I do to be more effective
as a wife, a mom, a sister, a brother, a friend?
Wait! What? A brother?
No I can't be a more effective brother, ever!
Whew!  I'm off the hook there!
Oh yeah, I'm busy alright.
But am I effective?
Have you heard of, "working smarter, not harder"?
That applies here.
I mean seriously, did I make a difference in someone's life this week?
I hope I did.
I saw people hurting.
As I stood on the porch,
 the bells from the church down the street, 
started their evening chime.
I hummed along as they rang out;
 "Oh love that will not let me go. 
 I rest my weary soul in Thee."
I sighed.
The bells chimed on...
seeming to say, "All is well.  All is well."
 I strive to gain a new perspective.