Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life – – – Psalm 23:6
Theres a little sign attached to a low red brick wall that I pass each morning as I walk the few blocks from my car to work. Im almost at work when I pass it, breathing heavy from fast walking, a thousand things in my head yet this small sign all washed out and faded that shouldn’t even be noticeable any more always gets my attention. It marks the entrance to a car park and it simply says IN .
A lot of days I feel about as faded and washed out as that inconspicuous sign but every morning it prods me with the same question.
You IN ?
My answers the same as I make that last dash to get to work each day.
Im IN I feel it under my breath, in rhythm with my feet I’m IN, Im IN. Im all In
Both hands, both feet, whole heart.
I need that prod, I need to make that decision – – – because when life feels like its all a bit too darn much as it has done lately I have a tendency to look for the out.
Not physically but mentally
When I’m stretched out thinner than what I think I can handle, when I feel in over my head – – – I’ll start to tune it all out. Dial everything down, create a good arms length, hide from the kids, stop answering the phone and just generally ignore a whole lot of things.
Works for a bit – but avoidance is always, always counterproductive and creates more stress than it ever alleviates.
And theres a few people that need me In
The people at the end of the phone calls I take each day need me In – not distracted, not dismissive or disinterested – all IN
And My kids need me In – not distant, not put upon, not crabby, not slamming food down in front of them and not keeping a safe distance so the noise doesn’t deafen me. All IN because when the ground isn’t level and their heads are full of questions I know what they need from me are open arms and an easy smile and ears that are listening. They need me finding joy on the hard days and laughing at the crazy and trusting God against the odds because thats how they’ll learn to do it.
That little sign reminds me to pay attention,
To be all In the moment with the people He’s given me, to give the best I’ve got right then and there whether that moment brings warm breezes and sunshine or whether it brings a pile of clothes about as high as me in my back room, a great load of dishes in the sink and the kids fighting over the TV.
If I run, if I hide, if I tune out to avoid the hard – I might miss the good and the worthwhile and the lovely.
I might miss the magic of finding God right here with me.
So a different or a hard or a crazy busy totally in over my head season doesn’t mean its not a good season.
Change can throw us off bad, so can a lack of control – I can resent what the season requires, I can tune it all out – – – or I can recieve it all as from the hand of God.
So when I pay attention what I notice is the beautiful and the good pressed right up alongside the ordinary and the hard. They’re mixed right in together.
And when I pay attention what I notice is the abundant generosity of God in every area of my life.
“life is better when we let ourselves feel lucky” Shannan Martin
Lv Tracey xx
Now I realise no-one is likely to be losing sleep wondering about this one but I thought I’d let you know I haven’t forgotten my “What I Found In” end of month post for October. I decided I’d do a a double whammy that will cover October and November – lets call it Octember – and it’ll be coming your way soon.
So time to take a little bit of a gander at what I’ve found in the month just past.
Wondering why I do that ?? Well this post will fill you in a bit but really its because like most of you I love a good find – whether its a good book, a good basket, a burst of colour in my garden, the gift of a few minutes to write or think straight or a post thats grabbed me. Anything that helps me do home or life better – well it might just get a mention here.
So lots of little finds for sweet September.
At The Shops
Bit of a storage and organisation theme happening when it came to op shop and store finds. Maybe its spring that’s got me tidying up and throwing out and getting things all put away and clutter free – who knows but it was a month all about throwing stuff in things and I must say the house looks all the better for it. These two pots and my kids dropping the most amazing array of items on the kitchen bench every day got me started.
Pens & pencils, toys, hair ties, loose change, batteries, Nintendo’s, sunglasses, lollies, lip gloss – I could easy go on. My solution was to throw “all the things” into these two pots sitting close by on the end of my desk. Bought them with every intention of putting plants in them but this was a more pressing need. Worked a treat. Everything easy to find when they want it and a clean kitchen bench in a jiffy.
Lets call it “casual” storage at its finest (and on a budget). Heres a rundown:
Cute as a button yellow and white pot $1.00 from Target good for loose change
Gold planter from the Reject Shop for $7 that as said I use as a hold all because it’s a really good handy size to throw odds and ends in.
Vintage yellow Tupperware in perfect condition at the kids school fete thrift stall for $2 each. Used for biscuits and Weetbix
Red basket tray /random paper file from the op shop for 50c .
White cane basket from Freedom Furniture that I’ve had for a while but only just found the right purpose and place for. Less sturdy than my usual basket finds but a whole lot pretty – its now corralling the towels in handy reach of the bathroom.
Wire basket from Kmart for $9 – a place for all the lounge cushions to go apart from the floor when not propping up someones head or back. I don’t get why they can’t stay on the lounge but they just never do.
Got any spring time/fall time organisation going on at your place?
So to other not so practical finds:
Found this little landscape at the school fete. I always seem to be on the look out for a pretty landscape – beautifully executed ones yes but I tend to like the ones that look a little bit “home done” too, a bit imperfect like someone was having a practice. Every now and then one will jump out and come home to live at my place for a bit. A way of me saying “I know your not a Rembrandt, not even close but your still lovely, your still inspiring, you still have something to say so just go ahead and be you”. I don’t say it out loud or directly to the painting so I think we’re OK there. So this is one of those – I like her soft colours and lines – sitting on my desk at the moment, giving me something peaceful to stare at while the words percolate.
” I have been terrified of hope. Because if hope disappoints, does that mean that God is also a disappointment? Christie reminds us that hope like dreams, is made of stronger stuff. She invites us into a year of her life lived in real time in an old Pennsylvanian farmhouse, choc full of hope and decay, promise and weeds, work and wonder”Lisa Jo Baker
Not too far in I found a paragraph that was a relief to read. Not so much inspirational words but real words that summed up entirely the frustration I felt for so long living in what felt like like a broken down, busted up house especially in the early years and no end in sight. The frustration too of feeling like everything – EVERYTHING – was working against me trying to make something lovely of this pile of bricks and mortar. A feeling that almost stopped me writing a blog about making home when my own home felt and still does at times like its limping, with too many frayed edges, with too much undone and worn out and a limited capacity to set it all to right. – – –
This was the paragraph.
We live so much of our lives with our hands tied behind our backs. With everything to do – more than we can possibly accomplish in one day – we are yet further hampered by illness, tiredness, a lack of money or time. This seems true even on good days. With twenty four hours in a day, how many must we devote to unproductive necessities like sleeping? Eating? Not to mention shopping for food or washing sheets or changing endless diapers. Some days we have more freedom than others but we are always, to some degree hemmed in by weakness, by need, by lack or by loss. We are hungry and needy as new born babies. we fool ourselves if we imagine anything else to be true. Roots and Sky Page 36
And then this:
This house is deteriorating. My body is dying. We are subject to the same terrible decay. But worth is not measured in such terms. Once upon a time, God called his creation good. And no curse of sin unwound those words. Gnarled maple trees. Plaster walls. An ordinary women’s ordinary body. All good. To care for these is to say to death, “You are not the end” Roots and Sky Page 54
Magic words. That’s right hope is made of stronger stuff. It remains, it flows relentless and regardless. It keeps me looking for the good and God breathed and lovely even on the grittiest most ordinary of days and even while the gutters hang rusty and with the back fence caving in.
Oh my, I love how this lady views life. Her photos are of such ordinary things – sidewalks and streetscapes and swing sets – the things she sees as she walks her kids to school. A fellow lover of derelict houses as well. If you feel like your life is a little left of centre too than you’ll find a kind companion in Shannan.
You can take a peek at her Instagram feed here and her blog here
Found out this too:
Screen Shots are my favourite
What I realised putting this post together is how much I love and use screen shots to capture info that I want to remember – things to read, podcasts to listen to, quotes I want to refer back to, recipes I want to try, rooms that I love. The reason it works for me – it’s incredibly simple – requires only a press of two fingers and its all nicely saved and stored. Anything more complicated and I’m a goner.
Heres a sample.
So thats my finds for September. Any finds your way? Would love to hear
We’ve been keeping company now for ever so long – possibly longer that any other item of furniture I own apart from this bookshelf my Dad made. Not all furniture is created equal and not all designed to last the distance but in my books this one, she’s a keeper.
Can’t remember where I found her. Most likely the op shop because that’s where I find most things. Maybe a road side throw out ? I do remember I was living in Sydney at the time in my ancient flat that hadn’t a whole lot going for it except a magnificent view of Bondi Beach. I was doing an upholstery workshop just down the road and I needed a smallish item of furniture that was portable and could be made over in a couple of weekends. This chair was the perfect candidate with good solid bones – I loved the curve of the arms and the little rounded turned out legs, still do – but her springs were all saggy and needed replacing. So during the course of the workshop I gave her new springs and webbing and fresh fabric and well she hasn’t looked back since. A little worse for wear in places now because its been quite a while but still going strong.
A random meeting that I can’t recall and here we are still together all these years later. Some pieces of furniture just seem to suit your house and life down to the ground and this chairs one. Versatile – she fits in anywhere with anyone, not precious – she doesn’t need a lot of attention or looking after which is a good thing around here, she’s light enough to be picked up and moved easily and her small proportions work perfectly for my tiny house. “Style wise” she dresses up easy – looks best with something soft and fluffy thrown over her and with a few cushions thrown on.
So far she’s lived in every room of the house bar the bathroom and including the front and back veranda. She spent a long time in Olivia’s room. A perfect chair for story reading and for putting dressed up dolly’s on. In my room there was more clothes being thrown on than sitting on but out front of the house she gave us a lovely place to enjoy the winter sun. Then for a while she was in the entrance near the front door but again more throwing on than sitting in.
Right now though – – –
She’s doing me a personal favour which is the reason she gets her very own post here today. I currently have her moved her into the lounge room so I actually have a comfortable place to sit down.
See what I’ve noticed of late is that two children and one husband manage to take up all the available space on the two leather lounges we have, leaving me nowhere comfortable to sit. And forgive me but when I sit down to relax a little I don’t want to be squeezed in between and romped upon by an often less than fragrant 13 year old boy and the SQUIRMIEST 9 year old girl I have EVER come across.
So this seat has become MY seat and mine alone for now.
I read this earlier in the year on one of my favourite blogs and it’s somehow stayed with me.
I felt a little lost in my own home. I can see my mama in my memory sitting on “her” end of the couch every single night with whatever book or cross stitch she was working on tucked into the end table beside her. I decided it wasn’t wrong in the least bit to stake my claim on my own spot complete with all my favorite books stuffed down beside me in a $2 yard sale ammo crate.Heather, Recollected Design
Well I’m with Heather and her mama – we all need a sweet spot to call our own in our own homes , where our favourite book is in easy reach and theres a place to put our cup of tea or something stronger. A place no one else is allowed to sit on or put their feet on or leave half of their sandwich or their school bag on.
I’ve been missing that for a bit. Maybe I’ve just noticed it more since I have been working and don’t have time at home on my own during the day. Organising myself a comfy relaxing place to sit for a while in the evening, its such a basic thing that’s felt like such a luxury. I read more, I relax more, I enjoy Netflix more (which can definitely be a good thing at times) and the real bonus I hang out with that odd smelling boy and that squirmy girl more. I think the squeezing in and having my cuppa tea bumped about put me off doing that for a good while. My two just love it when I stop all the rushing around and just be with them – – – – the rushing around a necessary part of life I know , but the sitting down just as much too. So while its been a small change, its made a big difference and they’re my favourite kind. So if someone could just pass me my cup of tea please we’ll be all good.
Got a favourite piece of furniture ? Need to get yourself a sweet spot. Would love to hear.
Well I am well and truly late off of the block this month putting together my “What I Found ” post for July so I thought I would do a two for one at this stage and include some lovely things I found in August and who knows I might just find myself slightly ahead.
Now if your wondering why I’m telling you what I found in July and August ? Well its a way of tricking myself into paying more attention to what I might be learning along the way. So I’m taking notice of what I’m doing and enjoying and finding because that has a way of telling us things too.
“When we begin to see the ordinary as worthy of a closer look, everything changes” Shannan Martin
And who doesn’t love a good find.
So let’s just get to the big one straight up – – –
I found a job
I’ll fill you in real quick.
At the start of this year I knew in that way you just know things that there were going to be some changes. Exactly what that looked like I didn’t know but I had this idea that it might involve me getting a job. Early 2016 things “felt” different even before they were. It “felt” like Ken was now home even while he was still flying back and forward to Western Australia for work and me – – – I had this odd feeling of being at a bit of a loose end, like I was just marking time – weirdly unsettling for a homebody like me – normally so totally content pottering around fixing up my house, writing, DIYing etc. The job search had begun but despite many a job application there were no employers falling over each other trying to get to me. Deafening silence in fact. Very encouraging and confidence boosting.
Its a strange feeling when you sense a change but nothing has really changed. Like living in limbo – – – applying for all types of jobs, waiting, scared stiff I might actually get one and have to start living this different life. I’ve never done the real life working mum gig before and I wasn’t at all convinced I had what it takes.The thought of change – particularly if its out of my nice cozy area of “expertise” — well it has a way of truly rattling me. Anyone else?
Any hoo we hit crisis point in June and as it goes it often takes a good crisis to get me moving. So with a fire freshly lit under me, I went at it with a bit more gusto and in the space of a few weeks I had two jobs on offer. Still scared, still wondering if I could really do this but in with both feet.
Sometimes we are waiting for all our questions to be answered before we move forward but really we just need to move. What we need for the journey doesn’t turn up until we are on our way, until we get started.
I wrote this Women Connect post about the starting.
On Leaning into the Curve ~ 20th July, 2016
Today I start a new job. Its officially only a part time job but I have to turn up there on time, five days a week for six – eight hours in presentable clothes, with my hair done and probably some make up on. I haven’t had to do that for a very long time. I’ve had the luxury of staying home with my kids —- probably for longer than I should have.
Its exciting because new things bring new possibilities but to tell you the truth – I’m freaking out just a little bit.
I’m concerned about a few things.
that I might I hate it
that I might not be able to keep up
that my house will look like a tip after a week
that my life will be a blur of work at work and work at home and not much else
that I’ll miss out on time and activities with the kids
that I’ll shrivel up for lack of time to do the things that make me come alive on the inside
Now I know that there are those that thrive on routine and being super organised and running a tight ship and right about now I wish I was one of them. See I thrive on making things look nice and stringing words together and lots of quiet and wafting around planting things in my garden and taking photos and doing projects and I’ve got used to generally having a whole lot of unscheduled time. Can you see why I’m a bit worried?
Talk is cheap until your in at the deep end.
Change, weather its welcome or unwelcome or a weird combination of both brings challenges and uncertainty and moments of sheer panic and all sorts of adjustments and working things out all over again.
But heres what I know.
That this is the right thing for right now.
That this is what the grace of God is for – to help us do what we are scared we can’t do. To help us do what we haven’t a chance of doing on our own.
Grace to negotiate the curve, when your leaned way over and your ear feels awfully close to the ground. Thats where the grace is – between your soft side and the ground.
I’m counting on it.
Grace like an oil that makes a new wheel thats sticking a bit (or an old one! ) begin to turn and move with ease. Like an ointment that softens and heals – you can feel it doing you good. A buffer between us and the sharp edges of a new season. Its room to breath when air seems short.
While I’m yet to find out how this new season will play out what I can encourage you and myself with is, whatever the season you are currently in, whatever the curve your negotiating – lean into it, He’s got you, your not hurtling out of control, your in the process of getting somewhere new. God is there with you and there is plentiful grace.
And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. Romans 8:28 Amplified
So no more driving the kids to school in my nightie and now that I’m more than a month in here’s what I’ve found:
It didn’t take a week – the house looked like a tip about three days in – – – – but we’ve bounced back – — – sort of.
You know that old saying about the less time you have the more you get done. Well its kinda true. I still seem to be getting the basics done even with far less time to do it. I’ve just started doing a couple of things each night when I get home in addition to the normal round of feeding and lunch packing and uniform washing. I clean one thing, fold one basket of clothes, hang out one load of washing, write one paragraph. The iPhone time is just set permanently to twenty minutes. Ethan and Olivia are now doing a couple of chores of there own – which is nothing short of miraculous in itself.
It’s not pristine, its not all done, it never was.
We haven’t starved – turns out there is a Woolworths supermarket about three feet up the street from my work and in the direction that I walk. Small mercies that make a whole world of difference.
And it seems I’ve turned into one of those mums. You know the ones that use slow cookers and actually think about what there having for dinner before the clock hits five. I read on one of my favourite blogs a year or more ago “If I have an onion sautéing by 9 am, good things are bound to happen!”Life in Grace. Now that was a dialect I just didn’t comprehend at the time. A cup of coffee by 9am yes. An onion sautéing – ah no. Well things have a way of changing and in the last month I had said onion on the go at 7am. Here’s proof.
This all got put into the slow cooker with stock, Italian soup mix, pasta sauce and a few other random ingredients. Slow cookers are magical things. You can throw just about anything in them and it tastes good by the end of the day. I wont start with handing out recipes because I tend to just use whatever I have on hand but there are some amazing soup and slow cooker recipes right here on Edie’s blog. I’ve tried a few. You won’t be sorry. She is known as the soup whisperer for a reason. And these two posts of hers are a great read if you need a bit of inspiration in the kitchen.
I don’t hate it – in fact this job feels like it was kinda made for me. I’m sitting down (ha), I work on my own but there are people around, I’m learning something new and interesting, its a supportive and friendly work place, I’m helping people – LOVE DOING THAT – I’m all good. The only down side is getting my head around a very complex computer system, remembering all the details and making sure I’m ticking all the boxes but I’m up for the challenge.
Yes it’s tiring – I’m sure you know all about it. The everyday push to be up and organised and have the kids to school on time and me to work on time is a challenge and exhausting but all in all we are not too much worse for wear. I know that my tiredness has me sitting down enjoying things with the kids a little more than I once did so there is an upside there.
I haven’t shrivelled up for lack of time to do things I love – theres less time for it and in shorter spurts but I’m appreciating the little pockets of time that I do have to write, take photos, do projects etc. And what I hadn’t thought about before I started was this lovely thing called a lunch break where I can sit on my own and read or write or go for a walk undisturbed without the pressure of thinking I should be doing something else. Heaven
So if I have learnt anything I think its that seasons change and if we give ourselves half a chance we go on and change with them and the changes often suit us better than we ever imagine they will. Amazing
So to a few other finds
In the Op Shop
Another travel book for the handsome sum of $1 which of course is not so much about the places this lady travelled but about the personal journey she was on.
There are years that ask questions and years that answer” Zora Neale Hurston
It was a lesson I hoped to learn in the months ahead: how to stop rushing from place to place always looking ahead to the next thing while the moment in front of me slipped away unnoticed.
Need I say more except that I was very happy to join in on the journey. In each destination Alice writes herself a postcard and posts it home to herself. The postcards become a kind of travel memoir, preserving and recapturing the feelings of certain moments during the trip, a missal of the moment rather than a remembered observation of a past event.
This stack of chippy old plates. But not just any old chippy plates – they are Wedgwood “Queens Plain” – part of the set we received as a wedding present. Yes the “good set” that we used everyday for everyday use because I’m not one to put things away to gather dust when they could be gracing my dinner table. And when you use things the way we do they chip, Wedgwood and all. We still use the huge soup bowls which somehow survived our rough treatment but most of the dinner plates and smaller bowls were relegated to the garage. I couldn’t throw them out though, I knew I’d want them at some stage for some reason. So after reading this post I’m thinking they need a little Kintsugi love.
Not sure it will be at all easy because of the decorative edges and the obvious curve but I’ll let you know how it goes.
In amongst my sons reptile paraphernalia
This light cage was doing nothing useful and looked to me like it needed a plant in it.
So take one light cage, add fibre from palm in the front yard, potting mix and a sweet little slightly worse for wear “FlapJack” succulent that needed a new home. Took about fifteen minutes.
Hasn’t died yet – most succulents don’t which is why I love them so much. Any little projects happening at your place??
In my Inbox
This post that caught me heart soul and spirit. about “receiving your life”. Not summer here in Aus but applies the same to any season of life. Too good.
My new favourite IG feed. The Jungalow. It’s colourful, vintagy, mismatched, with oodles of green leafy things and just enough white space to make me want to move into some of these spaces. Heres a few of my favourite images.
Oh those green subway tiles !!! Find The Jungalow on Instagram hereand the blog here
In my back yard
A few pot plants that the chooks haven’t eaten and that are loving the spot I have put them in. Sometimes its a bit of trial and error and moving things around to find just the right spot light and shade wise to suit a particular plant. These ones are all smiles.
And remember this fence paling planter I made. Well everything I put in for ever so long died a quick death. I tried numerous places and plants and everywhere was either too hot (or too shady) or who knows but I think it finally likes its current position because I found that the last lot of tiny cuttings I put in there are actually growing. Yay!!
So that’s my finds for July and August. Found anything interesting your way? Would love to here.
Perfect spaces, perfect people, perfect things – they are not real to me. Add a little wonkiness to a house, some mess to the waves of someone’s hair or a few tell-tale signs of age on items and they become more interesting to me. And usually more beautiful. Recently I read about Kintsugi – a Japanese art form that sees damaged items repaired with gold (or silver). Rather than throw away broken crockery or smooth over cracks in rendered walls, the imperfections are highlighted with gold leaf and sealed with lacquer, creating an interesting feature of a home or allowing a favourite plate to continue dishing out your meals – with a little bling on the side. The method humanises things – giving them some attention, patching them up and letting them continue on their merry way rather than just giving up on them at the first sign of a breakdown. It’s giving even the most ho-hum items a history, a story and a chance to shine. The Happy Home
How beautiful is that. Now that’s a language I understand.
A language of reclamation and second chances and never too broken.
For the least of, the worn out, the flawed, the done in.
I think maybe God knows a thing about Kintsugi – all of us a bit dinged up, with our chippy edges and bits worn thin. Even cracked right through in places
And of course we think it puts us out of the game, one of the ones to be kept for sentiment but of no real use, too damaged, not worth it, the fault lines too deep.
Except that they make room for gold.
And leave room for redemption.
They make space for the beautiful and transformative to happen, right there where the damage is. In the ravine a reworking of our hearts, a different story – a richer one, increase in the place we feel empty, filled – not thrown out.
I know – we want to show our smooth undamaged side to each other but I’m not sure I’ve got one anymore and maybe that’s OK. We think that’s the best bit of us or maybe the acceptable bit, but truly the best bit is our own unique shape of imperfection and redemption and coming back from the brink all bumpy with scar lines but woven in with gold. That’s a story I want to hear, that’s the bit that shines, that has the power to reach others. Lets not hide ourselves away for want of perfection.
The real us, the real story ——- that’s where there’s gold.
I’ll leave you with this:
“I am struck by how sharing our weakness and difficulties is more nourishing to others than sharing our qualities and successes.” ― Jean Vanier, Community And Growth
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Matthew 5:6
Love to you all today
Got a minute? You can read Belinda’sfull post on her Kintsugi experience here.Inspiring!!