Thursday, December 29, 2016

Valley of Vision ✽ I Don't do Bowling

"Preserve me from a false estimate of the whole or a part of my character;
May I pay regard to my principles as well as my conduct,
 my motives as well as my actions.
Help me never to mistake the excitement of my passions
 for the renewing of the Holy Spirit,
  never to judge my religion by occasional impressions and
 impulses, but by my constant and prevailing disposition.
May my heart be right with thee,
 and my life as becometh the gospel.
Give me a large abundance of the supply of the Spirit of Jesus,
 that I may be prepared for every duty,
   love thee in all thy mercies,
  submit to thee in every trial,
  trust thee when walking in darkness
  have peace in thee amidst life's changes.
Lord, I believe, help thou my unbelief and uncertainties."

-Excerpt from "The Valley of Vision; a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions", compiled by Author Bennett

This book is one of the best I could recommend, I think, y'all. Each prayer is full of encouragement, conviction, and they are short enough to fit into odd moments -I love it! Mama bought it used a while ago, and it came marked in, although it said "like new". She ordered a new one, because she had actually wanted to do a study through it and needed a clean copy, so she asked me if I wanted to take this one. I've slowly been working my way through it, and I think I'll just start it over when I'm done and make it a constant fixture on my bookshelf, haha :). It's really that good; I think that my top three books for the year have been "Choosing Gratitude", "Fervent", and this one :). I also kind of liked "Aunt Jo's Scrapbook", but only half of the stories would have made it high enough to count, and I liked "The Life and Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien", but I think I actually read half of that last year (I think? I can't remember for sure... maybe it was just before we moved. Either way, it feels like forever ago, and yet it's hard to believe that this year is almost over?!), so those ones were out, which made my choices a little easier to pick from... haha. But I really didn't read that much this year. That is something I definitely want to be making time for again!

At lunch this afternoon...
Tori, to the tune of "It's a Hard-Knock Life": "Don't it feel like the Bri is always bowling, don't it feel like she's never around."
Me: *blank stare* "I have been bowling in my life ONE TIME. And I wasn't good at it." (Not even recently, it was two years ago!)
Tori: "That's two times to many."
Me: "Nuhu-
...what? Two times?!"
Tori: "I saw you at that bowling alley. I mean bowling rink. Bowling alley.
...What is it?"

Oh, and Christmas posts will be coming full fury... after I brave going through all the pictures. Hahaha... it's kind of daunting, y'all, but I'll do it soon :).

Monday, December 26, 2016

Happy day after Christmas ✽ And merry rest of the year

I just finished prepping a very unigue canvas for a
custom order, listening to Peter Hollen's Christmas cd...
and matching the new cup I got for Christmas :D.

I hope your Christmas was as full of blessings and joy as ours was :)! We have had a wonderful, busy week, and I absolutely can't wait to share blog posts and pictures with fun bits of our month with you all. But right now, I'm not actually going to write a Christmas post, although the thoughts do kind of stem from my Christmas this year. Actually, I'm not sure this post is even being written for you all; I think I'm just posting it here because I feel like that will give some of the accountability that I probably need for the things I'm thinking of.

All of our Christmas activities were wonderful and something I'll always cherish; I think being back in SC after being gone for a few years, made being able to celebrate with family and the zoo's Lights Before Christmas even more special. The memories made in VA are precious, but so are the memories we are making here, in different ways. But I think there is one thing that I learned during this Christmas holiday. And that is that I waste too much time.

I've missed the way things used to be for a while now. I used to do so many things on a daily basis that I hardly ever get around to anymore. I thought that things had changed and there just wasn't time for it anymore. 

This year I started making my Christmas gifts at the end of November like I do every year. The thing I hadn't counted on was my Etsy shop actually having some sales (imagine that! Lol. I know I should have expected it, but since November 26th, I have almost doubled my all-time sales, so, no, I wasn't expecting it). While I started my gifts, I didn't get them done very fast while working on the shop orders I was putting together.

By the 17th, I only had two gifts almost finished. I spent that Saturday sick and making another shop order. And really freaking out at what I had left to do.

Last week, I finished the two gifts, made seven others from start to finish, went shopping and ordered a couple other gifts. How I did it, I'm not entirely sure. I know it was partially with the help of Christmas music. I have a really short attention span if my hands but only my hands are busy. Somehow, I can sit on my bed and stare at the shapes on the popcorn ceiling for forever (as long as I don't feel watched, haha), but I can not crochet for more than 12 minutes without going insane or getting up to do something in the middle of it, or obsessively checking how much more I have to do if I'm not listening to something -a book, music, a movie. Also, pure necessity. That had a lot to do with the fact that I finished on time ;P. And I very purposefully didn't have coffee after Monday, so I could work faster (caffeine doesn't give me more energy or speed. Yes, it keeps me awake longer if I drink it too late, but not awake doing things. Either awake laughing over nothing even though I know it's not funny, if I'm able to just sit down and enjoy myself, or, and this is more likely, if I have any least bit of responsibility or stress going on after having the caffeine, it just makes me curl up and cry. Lol.)

But, in all honestly, I don't know how I finished- earlier than I have the past few years. I finished Christmas eve, but right before lunch, instead of right after supper like the past couple years. I was so stressed out I was nauseous on the 23rd, with 4 gifts to finish and one that I had ordered not being guaranteed on time. Like, really, if I had worked that hard to finish on time and then the one that I had no control over was late, I would have broken down and cried even without coffee, haha. I was praying so much that it would get here in time! (It got here 5:00 on Christmas Eve, along with three of Mama's packages that Toys'r'Us made such a mess of that she had to re-order from Amazon, praise the Lord, and I was giddy excited -I might have been more excited to get it than Mama was the next day, hahaha!) 

Mama kept asking me how much more I had so she could schedule my work into the day, and I was kind of just avoiding the question with a "hehehe, too much". I knew that under the circumstances I couldn't handle someone else knowing how much I was failing. I finally admitted to Mama last night that I hadn't had a single gift done the week before, and she was like, "Wow, really? I didn't even notice that you were that uninvolved with what we were doing." And it's true. I helped with Christmas cards, Christmas baking (I didn't want to miss out on that!) and house cleaning and gift wrapping; I didn't take any work with me when we went to look at Christmas lights, and I watched a couple movies without any crochet, and I slept longer than I thought was safe a few mornings. I did skimp on some things. I never did get our room decorated (which I am still sad about. But I compiled all kinds of cute ideas and supplies for next Christmas! So maybe that makes it better?), and I didn't get to read to the little ones or my favorite Christmas books that I typically read, and I fell a few days behind in a bible study I'm doing with a friend, and I didn't help with the Christmas grocery list or shopping like I usually do. But for the most part, I tried to stayed as much a part of things as I normally would, because I wanted this time to be about Christ's sacrifice for our salvation and family time, even if I was naturally tugged in the direction of stress and perfectionism.

And I think, if there is anything that I learned this Christmas, it is 
1. I will be taking Etsy orders into my plans next year.
And, more importantly, 2., in part because of how much I realized I actually did have time for this month, and maybe in part because of how many times I listened to Peter Hollen's Christmas cd the past two weeks...
I want this coming year to count. 
I want to stay busy all year long.
Because I have had the time all this time. I just haven't made it. Or used it. Comparatively, I didn't toss that much out of my schedule this past week, but I probably did four times what I usually do. And I am appalled to think of how much time over the past four years I have wasted.
"So this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
A new one just begun"

"But why
Does it change with the seasons, 
And why can't we just hold on?"
(Actually about the Christmas spirit, not my productivity, but every time I hear that chorus, I think it fits very well with my thoughts that I want this worth-while busyness to be a part of life again, and not just a little blip on the screen for Christmas time. Haha...)

I don't really want to make my life as full as this past week has been. It was okay for a week, but I need more balance for life. But I also don't want to continue wasting as much time as I know that I must have been for so long now. I mean, I knew I could do more. But I think I was in denial at how much more I truly had time for. I think that if I had had two weeks to do all that I did in one, and had also done the things I passed on, it would have been perfect. But I also think that the lesson wouldn't have hit as close to home. And so I'm praising God, definitely that I finished with a great reminder. And I'm looking forward to a new start.


And so, this coming day will be spent working on my bible study, filling two shop orders, and reading lots of new children's books with my favorite little people :). And you'll probably see me back here, because, though I know I thought I'd be writing a ton during Christmas because of all I had to do, actually, I didn't have time for that either, and haven't written more than three times this month unless you count 3 letters and Christmas cards, but that's a different type of writing, and I'm aching to get back to my rambling, mindless word spilling. That thing about balance? Yeah, writing is one of those things I need time for. Haha :).

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens."
-Ecclesiastes 3:1

*clicks publish and hopes I don't regret it later* 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cinnamon Sticks ✽ Merry Christmas


I went out to the garage to put a few things away this evening and decided to go ahead and look for the greenery. Our room still isn't decorated, and it's sad. But anyway, since the greenery was found easily, I thought, why not look for the box that we keep the stuff we usually put up in our room in? I couldn't remember what all was in there, but I was pretty sure it held a pretty bucket I like to use, and I knew it held cinnamon sticks. We had pulled them out just the night before. I knew right where they were.

I spend 25.43 minutes out there (give or take-it was somewhere close, I had the timer going for lasagna while I was out there, hahaha...). About 20 of those were spent looking for the cinnamon sticks. Mainly because I'm a dork, but also partly because, um, cinnamon sticks. I almost gave up several times. I mean, really, I wasn't sure it was worth the time. I didn't think I had anything to put in the bucket anyway, no matter how much I love it. And I'm not sure where I'll be able to fit the tea set I know is in there. I don't even know what else is included, and it's pretty hard to justify looking for something when you don't remember what it is.

But cinnamon sticks.

I have a thing for cinnamon sticks, y'all. Bordering on a strange obsession, during Christmas time.

So I persevered. I found them (they had been moved to the other end of the garage after I left the garage the night before). I breathed a sigh of relief, set them inside, and went to the craft closet to find something Mama had asked me to paint.

And just sitting there, right under the "W" I was supposed to paint.

I found cinnamon sticks.

I stared in disbelief, growled "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?!", went to tell Mama what had happened... and about the time I hit "I spent 25 minutes looking for cinnamon sticks"... she just eyed the wooden "W" and started laughing. Lol...

So, I missed 3/4ths of the Christmas cd I put in for no reason, but I found some Christmas goodies I wouldn't have thought to pull out otherwise, so I guess everything evens out in the end?...

In other news, I got this canvas mailed off this afternoon, and this was SUCH a fun order, y'all :)!!! I got to make a completely custom "family mission statement" canvas for someone, and I just thinks that's neat- getting to make items like these are what really makes my shop feel meaningful and worthwhile :).

And I'm kind of stressing out because I've hit that point of I have no choice but full steam ahead to get done with everything before Christmas, which results in me writing a lot (?). I always enjoy every Christmas activity -the decorating, the gift making and buying, the visiting family, the candy making, the baking, the books we read, movies we watch, the extra little bible studies we do, advent, hot chocolate, music... but whenever it's over I realize what is still left afterwards, and the closer to Christmas we get the more I freak out, and we have nine days til Christmas, and I really want to be done by Christmas Eve if at all possible this year, because I'm just really tired just thinking of how much I usually try to fit in on Christmas Eve most years (so technically I have 8 days...) And, forgetting how many pictures and fun times I end up with to share with y'all, writing is just how I.... cope? procrastinate? maybe just feel a false sense of control, which isn't a good thing? so if there are more posts than usually here over the next couple weeks... consider it a Christmas gift. Hahaha!

Oh, and IS ANYBODY ELSE HAVING ISSUES GETTING TO MY BLOG??!?!?! Or is it just ME?!?!?!? I am not liking blogger's new update. It's harder to navigate, more cluttered, and I can NOT pull up my blog without going to specific posts since it happened. I should probably backup my blog... But I'm not sure how anymore, I'll have to re-find all the pages...