Saturday, May 28, 2011

Looking for Beauty

"The earth if full of God's unfailing love." (Psalm 119:64)
I went on a hunt in my backyard to find God's unfailing love.
I brought my camera with me to capture what I found.
As I looked closely at what God has made, I saw so much to be amazed by.  
When I paused to admire the delicate shades of purple and pink in the clematis, 
I realized God painted it that way because he loves me.  
The red tipped leaves of my favorite Japanese Maple,
and the blushing buds of the blueberry bush also whispered to me:
"He made these because He loves you!"  
Each leaf and blossom has its own intricate design and beauty.  
This hunt for God's "love notes" to us is changing me bit by bit:
more content, slower to anger, more patient and easy going, grateful.  

As I finished this post, I watched the sun set out the west facing windows.  
The sun almost blinded me with its fiery glow, both orange and magenta.
Awestruck, I watched it slip behind the mountains.  
Now the sky is left with shades of pink, orange, and purple.
Another message- this one painted large in the sky:
"I made this because I love you!"  
God is the author of romance.  
The earth is full of his unfailing love.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

Like no other book I've read.  It's definitely worth reading.
Recently I realized that I have been spending way too much of my time in a bad mood.  Often I'd find myself exhausted at the end of the day, and then awake to a feeling of, "I don't want to do another day of what I did yesterday."  But how do I change?  What can I do differently so that I can enjoy my life and the sometimes chaotic season (two kids, you know what I mean) that I'm in?  

My neighbor recommended One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and just by her brief summation I knew that I needed to get a copy and dive in.  Eagerly I waited for it to arrive from Amazon.  The first chapter had me in tears - this was not helping me have a better perspective on my life.  However, I kept on, knowing that the author was setting the stage for why she was on her own journey to find joy in the moment.  Her writing is unique and requires time and thought.  I find that I cannot rush through a chapter, but must stop after a page or so and mentally chew on the ideas she shares.  

What's the whole point of the book?  Thanksgiving is the key to having joy in our lives.  Simple, but so profound.  It's changing my life when I choose to tune my thoughts to ones of gratefulness.  At the end of grateful days, I'm not so worn out.  Come to find out, being mad all the time is exhausting.  Thankfulness is refreshing.  I'm slowing down as I seek out things to be amazed by.  There are so many things -gifts- God has given us that we can be thankful for.  Really, I'm sorry that I haven't been more observant. I'm learning that regardless of our circumstances, we can find things to be thankful for---if we look for them.  For example, recently I noticed how beautiful strawberries are as I sliced the tops off.   I stopped to look at each one and admire the unique starburst pattern hidden inside.  As I paused to admire the beauty in each berry, my son was having a fit about something.  I think it was related to potty training, and him not wanting to be told to stop his play to use the bathroom.  Instead of getting swept up in the fit, I just calmly sniffed a strawberry, and savored the sweet smell.  Ah, that sniff enticed me to take a bite.  So while my son had a melt down, I thanked God for strawberries.  Ridiculous, maybe.  But I know that this fresh perspective is making me a more peaceful person, a better mom, and a more pleasant wife.   This is something I'm going to have to work at, as my normal mode of thinking is to find fault with things.  It's not easy, but I know God will give me the grace to change.    

I'm on a journey to learn how to enjoy the every day moments in life...perhaps you'd like to join me?  Get a copy of the book, or read the author's daily blog.  I've added a link (look for the black button with a tree that says, "a holy experience")  that leads to Ann Voskamp's blog.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Illustrator spotlight: Christopher Denise

We've all heard the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover," but honestly we all judge books by their covers.  When I'm at the library- especially if I have my kids with me- I grab whatever looks good.  When we get home, we find out whether it's a good story or not.  One book I saw on display this week was: Oliver Finds His Way.  The little bear on the front was so adorable that I quickly added the book to my growing stack to check out.  Once I sat down to read it later that day, I was enchanted.  The story was sweet and easy to read, but the pictures made the tale come to life.  So, I looked up the illustrator and checked out a bunch of books that he's illustrated.  Here are my three favorite stories he's illustrated...

Oliver Finds His Way by Phyllis Root- Illustrated by Christopher Denise
Oliver gets lost in the woods and figures out how to find his
way back to Mama & Papa.  Sweet story, adorable pictures.
Pigs Love Potatoes by Anika Denise- Illustrated by Christopher Denise
Husband & wife collaborate to create a funny story about a hungry
family.  More & more pigs show up all hoping for a tasty meal.
It's a counting book, but so much more interesting than one to ten.
If I Could: A Mother's Promise by Susan Milord- Illustrated by Christopher Denise
Pull out the Kleenex!  This book gets me every time.  The text
is actually brief, more like a poem.  The little raccoon in his
pjs clutching his blanket & bunny will melt your heart!
Do you have a favorite illustrator?  Share yours in the comments section.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Books Galore!

It's time to share some of the books we've been enjoying lately.  I go to the library often and this last visit we discovered some great reads.  Hope you will enjoy them also.  I have three more books to share with you in my next post.  :)

 Piggy Pie Po by Audrey & Don Wood
It's three short stories in one book.  They all rhyme and are ridiculous, but that's what is so fun about the stories.  Our son wants to hear it over and over, but it's a pleasure to read it and not one that I've been bored with after a few reads.  I hope they create more stories about this mischievous piggy.

Suppertime for Frieda Fuzzypaws by Cyndy Szekeres
This book was actually one we purchased at Costco.  I had to have it because it is the story of our son at dinner time.  He's not a great eater, and would rather go straight to dessert.  Frieda Fuzzypaws has the same problem.  The story is hilarious and has a good lesson.  The illustrations are so cute also.  This has become a favorite with our family.

Toot Toot Zoom! by Phyllis Root - Illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Our three year old son is a big fan of this story.  Probably because there's a car, silly sound effects, and a crash.  It's not my favorite to read, but I enjoy listening to it when my husband reads it aloud.  He's much better at creating all the right voices for the characters so they seem to come to life.  This book is very repetitive, but kids like that sort of thing.  It's a simple story of a little creature who looks for friends and finds them where he least expects them.  

Into the A, B, Sea by Deborah Lee Rose- Pictures by Steve Jenkins
I chose this book because of the pictures.   The artwork is paper collage and quite captivating.  We've also been enjoying this book because of the interesting sea life that it introduces.  There's a creature for each letter of the alphabet; some that I've never heard of before.  At the end, there is a glossary of sorts that gives more information about each animal.  I love books that teach!

If you have found a children's book that you think others would enjoy, please share it with us in the comments.  I always love to hear from my blogging friends.  Thanks!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

This Is What Mother's Day Is All About...

It's not about the flowers, the chocolates, the jewelry, or the restaurant dinners.  Without my two children, I wouldn't have any reason to celebrate Mother's Day.  This year I really didn't want any gifts.  I just wanted to enjoy my kids and delight in the gifts that they are to me.  

They are tiny people who teach me how to love...

and laugh.

Because of them, I am learning to slow down and enjoy life more.
What a gift God gave me when He entrusted these two little ones to me.

Happy Mother's Day!  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Product Review: Scribble & Write

I have ideas all the time that I'd like to post about, but so little time to actually sit down and blog about them.  Since I have a few moments, I'll share a quick thought...for Christmas we got our son a LeapFrog Scribble and Write.  It has been a really cool toy.  He's learning how to write letters, draw shapes, and follow directions.  It also reinforces the sounds the letters make so it's sort of a learning to read tool also. I tend to put it out of reach and then pull it out when I need K to keep himself busy for a bit.  He's always glad to play with it.  We recently went on a car trip and the Scribble & Write kept him entertained for a long time.  Then his sister got a hold of it and doodled all over it for a long time.  She's only 14 months, but likes to do whatever big brother is doing.  Anyway, wanted to share with all my mom friends that this is definitely a toy worth buying, and runs just under $20 at Wal-mart or on Amazon.