8.27.2014

The Fantastical Story of the Missing Quarter & The Golden Rule


I was in the drive through line at McDonald's today and I dropped a quarter.  Somehow, this quarter magically disappeared somewhere on the floorboard of my car.  So I started looking around, lifted the floor mat, scooted my seat back and had my head between my knees looking for the disappearing quarter.  When I looked up, the line had moved a few car lengths without me.  As I pulled forward I thought to myself, "That person behind me probably hates me right now".  But they shouldn't.  For all they know, I could be distracted by a family member's death, exhausted from being up all night with a sick or scared child, I could have a poisonous spider on me and need to kill it before pulling forward...

Then I got thinking of the times that I make up wild scenarios and feel good about what a gracious person I am.  How that lady with the coupon's husband lost his job and has been searching for a new one for 3 years.  How the guy who passed me doing 80 in a 50 zone is racing to the hospital after finding out one of his family members was in a horrible accident.  The customer who was rude to me on the phone is having a terrible day.  The person driving me crazy on Facebook is lonely or depressed.

But what if they're none of those things?  What if they're just your average mom, a dude who is speeding, an upset customer, has too much time on their hands...or me, just a lady looking for a quarter?

If their scenario is more everyday than elaborate, does that make them more deserving of my eye rolls or passive aggression?  Does it make them less worthy of my helping hand, patience or kindness?

See, I've been seeing a lot of videos and blog posts lately about how you never know what kind of battle people are fighting and you need to treat them with respect and kindness, grace and mercy because of that.  And that's true, I don't know what battles the people around me are fighting.  But that's not the reason to treat others with respect, kindness, grace and mercy.

Jesus gave us what has come to be known as "The Golden Rule", Matthew 7:12, "So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you."  It's not about fantasizing or romanticizing the other person's situation.  In the long run, that is self-serving.  Your made-up story about the other person only demotes them to be less than you and makes you into a hero in your own mind.

Back up a few verses before the Golden Rule (that's always a good thing to do).
The passage begins with the familiar analogy of the plank:
Matthew 7:1-5: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

Doing unto others starts with a look at yourself and then a look across at them--as an equal--not a look down at them.  How would I want to be treated if I were in their shoes?  Their missing quarter shoes, not their poisonous spider shoes.

So be kind today.  Because it's the right thing to do.

And by the way...I never did find that quarter.

8.22.2014

On Days Like Today...

Usually on a day like today I would say, "Whew!  I wish I could start this day over and try again!". Not today. Today I'm just glad it's (almost) over.

I could list all the things that went wrong today, but the long and short of it is this: today I was not in control of me.

I was unloving, ungracious, impatient and ungrateful with my husband and children. I acted selfishly, my thoughts were on many things other than grace. Many things other than kindness. Many things other than love.

Have you had a day like this before? A day where your heart feels like it is in turmoil. Where if you had to rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 in how "keyed up" you feel, it would be a 12. Where the literal noise of life has pushed you to the breaking point. A day when your inner voice is a liar, scripted by satan himself, all self-filled, all angry, all curses.

I literally thought to myself at one point today about my husband, "he has locked the van doors exactly one time ever and it's now, when I need into it". I would half smile at the ridiculousness of that thought now if I wasn't so embarrassed by it. Both because it is a lie that he never locks the doors and the absurdity of the insinuation that he locked them to spite me, to make my task harder. It just speaks to the condition of my heart.

We each took a kid to bed tonight and when I got mine laid down, I stole a few minutes outside. I needed some quiet, away from the noise of appliances, of voices and toys and the cricket in the basement. I sat down with my Bible and opened to the book of Joel.

I'll admit, I read the short book quickly without a lot of deep thought, but felt better after turning my focus toward God. I came inside and as I fixed a cup of tea, I thought, "God, what are you saying to me?" Suddenly, some words from Joel popped into my head:
"The Lord's voice will roar from Zion
and thunder from Jerusalem,
and the heavens and the earth will shake.
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people,
and strong fortress for the people of Israel." Joel 3:16-17

It made me think of chaos. That's the best way I can describe my day. Everything felt like chaos. But during that, through it, the Lord will be a refuge for his people. 

Now, I know this is out of context, and don't think that I'm telling you what the book of Joel is about. But this is what the Lord was speaking to me tonight.

When life is chaos, when things are out of your control, I am your refuge. I am your strong fortress. 

Even though, when it comes down to brass tacks, there's really not much other than yourself that you're in control of on ANY day, I am your refuge. I am your strong fortress.

When you're not even in control of yourself (especially when you're not in control of yourself), I am your refuge. I am your strong fortress.

There is still plenty of time and opportunity this evening for things to go wrong. But instead of letting my stress level climb, instead of listening to the liar, I'm going to make another cup of tea and settle into my refuge, my strong fortress.




8.19.2014

Judah's Nursery--An Almost-Neutral Nursery On A Shoestring Budget.

Seeing as Judah is now 13 months old, this post is a little (ahem) late, but I wanted to share it anyway. These are some pics from Judah's nursery!  When we put it together it was "Baby G2's Nursery" because we didn't know what we were having.  Over the past year we've added more boyish things and it's become boyish, but if he had been a girl we would have added more orange and some pink to make it more girly.
So here's our "Almost-Neutral Nursery".
We also did our nursery on a shoestring budget.  And this wasn't one of those shoestring budgets like some blogs or TV shows where they're like, "It was a tight budget--only $1000".  We thrifted, bought secondhand, and used what we already had to make this nursery happen.  I'll tell you about it as we go. How's that?  Good?  Good.  :)
These little guys were the inspiration for the whole nursery.  They are the hanging toys on our swing and mobile and match the print for the bouncer, pack n play and car seat.  I loved the colors, so we ran with it.

  • This door was already painted with chalkboard paint when we moved into the house, so I searched "chalk lettering" on Pinterest to find a design I liked and just subbed in Judah's name and sketched it on the door in colors we used in the room.


  • I love these ABC wall clings! (above and below)  They were originally from Target (I think), but I found them brand new in an unopened box at Goodwill.  I just noticed the picture below makes them look crooked, but they're not in real life.  They've been up there for well over a year now and haven't budged.
  • The changing pad and cover is the one we had for Nora when she was a baby.  The pads run around $20 (I think ours was originally from Babies R Us or Wal-Mart) and the covers come in a wide variety of prices.  I think the cheapest I've seen them in store is about $12, but always check the clearance section at Babies R Us and I see these often brand new at Once Upon A Child.  A quick search on Amazon shows one just like this on sale for $8.74 and it's Prime eligible.
  • The dresser!  We rented a house the first year we lived here and our landlord told us we could keep/use/give away/sell anything that was in the garage while we lived there and that's where this came from.  This little dresser was a really, weird, ugly green color, but we chose this orange paint and gave it a little makeover.  The drawer pulls are just the wooden drawer pulls that were on it and I painted them the same color as the walls.
  • The hamper (in the shadow on the left) is one of our "boy" touches and is just a pop-up hamper from Wal-Mart.  I've seen similar ones at Family Dollar/Dollar General.
  • The curtains!  They were a lesson in resourcefulness!  We got the white curtains for free from a parent of a friend of Zach's parents (whew!) and Zach's Mom refashioned them to work in our living room.  These curtains were the ones left over from that project.  They happened to fit the window, so we went with it.  The valances were made by Zach's Mom to give it a bit more of a baby feel and cover the tab-tops of the curtains.


  •  We bought the crib, glider/ottoman (as well as a changing table that's in the bathroom and a dresser that's in Nora's room) from a friend for Nora's nursery.  We spent $300 on the whole set.  She was a trusted friend, so we knew we were getting clean, quality pieces.  Don't be afraid to buy secondhand as long as you trust the source!  By the time Judah came around, the chair and ottoman had seen better days, so my Mom recovered them in a nice, soft, neutral fabric (and it cleans well).
  • The green rug was purchased at a wonderful thrift store called R Kids.  I have gotten plenty of quality items there and the owner told me the consignor for this rug is a regular at the shop and always has great pieces.  The rug retails online at JCP.com for $100 and we paid $40.
  • The big basket next to the glider that you can see in several of these pictures was part of a purchase long ago from Menard's.  I think we got 13 baskets in that set and you can spot them all around our house.  It holds toys that the kids have grown out of or haven't yet grown into.


  •  The poster on the wall is a map of the zoo in the town where Zach grew up.  His grandparents bought it for him when he was a toddler and it has hung in both our kids' nurseries.  It's just in a 1 in poster frame.



  •  Books are on top of the basket, and the yellow fabric is a place mat from our dining room.  My Mom put it there so my glass wouldn't sweat onto the basket (the stain on the basket bleeds when it gets wet).  It was in the color scheme of the room and worked perfectly.
  • The sad little bunny is a toy that belonged to my husband as a baby.
  • The framed hand print is a kit that came from Pottery Barn Kids.  My aunt picked it up at a yard sale and gave it to us.  It came with 2 frames and the mats have ages printed on them--Newborn, 6 months, 1 year.  PB doesn't carry this same one anymore.  It could be easily replicated with frames from any store and some mat from a craft store.


  •  Judah loves his WubbaNub. That little paci creature has been awesome.  The paci doesn't bounce when it falls (so it doesn't disappear), it's easy for little hands to hold onto and when he was teeny tiny the weight of the animal helped the paci stay in his mouth while he slept.  You can find them in several stores and online.  They're worth the $13.
  • We have 3 crib sheets.  Two were from when Nora was a baby and the 3rd I bought at a resale shop.  I'm a little weird about secondhand bedding and trust me, I washed and dried the crap outta that 3rd sheet the second I brought it home.  If you're not into secondhand bedding, watch the sales.  Again, the clearance section at Babies R Us is sometimes great, Amazon, and my Aunt scored crib sheets on clearance for less than $2 at JCP a while back.  This is another product that Once Upon A Child ALWAYS has brand new, in the package.  That sheet is not going to make or break your nursery.  Please don't spend $30 on it.


  •  This cute little worm was also from Zach's childhood nursery/bedroom.  It would be a super easy DIY.

  So there you have it: an almost-neutral-nursery on a shoestring budget.  My biggest suggestion is to get an idea of what you want and start shopping early so you have time to shop around (especially if you don't thrift). Thrift, shop secondhand, accept hand-me-downs, repurpose what you already have, use some childhood mementos, DIY.

The nursery is a room that can quickly become like a wedding: having concrete plans for each item that you won't budge on is just going to cost you a bunch of money that you don't need to spend and often won't matter later.  Look for inspiration (or Pinspiration!), don't try to replicate someone else's room.  For some more ideas like these, here's a link to my Pinterest: check out the boards "Nora" (girl ideas), "Judah" (boy ideas), "Kids' Room Ideas" and "Nursery Ideas".