Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Heaven

I've been thinking about Heaven a lot lately.  It's not because of all the movies about it because I haven't seen any of those.  I also haven't read any of the books about it. Well, I have read one book about it. :)

I'm not sure what I think about whether God allows people to see glimpses of Heaven.  How could we possibly know for sure He doesn't?  And if it entices people to read about it, that's good, right?

I've been thinking a lot about the people in Heaven.  Until recently, I've only been thinking about the people I miss.

Like my dad.



And my grandparents.


And I've thought about people who other people miss--their parents and grandparents, husbands and wives, beautiful daughters, little boys, brothers and sisters, beloved aunts and treasured uncles, precious preborns who were already cherished children. And all those millions who were not cherished.

Only recently, though, I have realized that Heaven will also be an opportunity to meet those who because of time or distance I didn't get to know on Earth.  With the advent of the internet, we learn so much more about our fellow travelers here. So, I'm looking forward to seeing Roscoe Wackerly, Ryan Cruz Saldana and Micah Brown, three little boys I met online who were called home.  I'll meet people who were just characters in my parents' stories.  There will be people I've read about in books there like CS Lewis and Corrie ten Boom.  And so many people with amazing stories of faith who few people knew and no one remembers now, people whose treasures were laid up in Heaven rather than on Earth.

Oh, won't it be wonderful there?!

<3 Lori

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Next Big Makeover

Now that #thegreatbackyardmakeover is complete, it's time to officially start on another makeover. Me.

See?  Here's the deal.  I like food.  I really really really really do, and I especially like sugary food.    Especially cake.

Allie Brosh:  Hyperbole and a Half


I had a birthday last week. I got up thinking I was 48 because 8 plus 6 is 14, then I realized I wasn't born in '66. I was born in '67, so I'm only 47 and I felt a lot better about that. Anyway, birthdays = cake, so I'm a big fan.  I'm an especially big fan of this cake (see what I did there?):


McKay's Bakery White Chocolate Cake. It has cream cheese icing.  Had..it had cream cheese icing.  I approach eating cake very much the same way I approach hard work.  The faster you do it, the sooner you can quit.  You'll be happy to know this cake has been neutralized, as they say in law enforcement. It can no longer cause anyone any harm. 

So, I'm one year closer to fifty, even with my bad math, and I need to get these extra pounds off.  There's a whole year between me and my next obligatory birthday cake, so what better time to start?  My Fitbit is plugged in.  The cake is gone.  I'm ready.  

It's blog official.  I can't turn back now.  Y'all all know.  You'll be wondering if I'm following through.  I'll need to report back and all that stuff.  This time it's going to work.

Details to follow.  As soon as I figure them out. So far I have:

1.  No more cake.

2.

In the meantime, hit me with your very best advice, tips, tricks, whatever keeps you on track and living healthy!

Thanks in advance!

<3 Lori



Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Great Backyard Makeover





May 27 was the last time I wrote a blog post. That was a few days before school let out for the summer.  My goodness!  So much has happened since then.  I'll have to cover all that later (and I will), but I wanted to show y'all the promised progress on our yard, which on Instagram I have hashtagged #thegreatbackyardmakeover.

I should preface this post.  We are in the midst of a very long drought. Very. Long.  In 2011, we had over 100 days of over 100 degree weather.  What little grass we had in the backyard burned up.  Completely.  Since then we have been fighting to try to keep the dirt off the porch, out of the pool, and out of the house. It was impossible. With nothing to hold the dirt down and our typical west Texas wind, we created our very own dust bowl.  The house was filthy.  The pool was a mudhole, and our allergies have been out of control.  We needed to do something, but it had to be something that would reduce the amount of water we would consume significantly because around the same time our rural water supplier increased the cost of water almost two fold.

We considered covering the whole thing with rocks, but if we ever decide to sell, we don't think that would be very appealing. We also researched fake grass.  We were concerned that although the current versions of "artificial turf" are far superior to what I remember for the 80's,  and it's probably great for small areas, we needed to cover a larger plot and it's not tested enough for us to invest that much money for what might be a shorter term investment.  The costs are significant and professionals have to do it. 

We decided the most cost effective thing we could do ourselves would be to lay sod. We opted for a type that is said to be both drought tolerant and works in shade, St. Augustin Palmetto.  We also opted to significantly reduce the amount of grass and water we'd need by creating large gravel and rock covered areas: a fire pit, plant beds along the edges, a drive way for the shop, and a little patio under the trees where it's shady.  These areas, as well as covering the entire side yard with gravel, allowed us to cap almost half our sprinkler heads. Additionally we used a product called Hydretain.  Once we get the grass watered in, it should reduce the amount we need to use to keep it healthy.  The website says it will reduce water usage by 50%.  We have to reapply every 3 months.

So without further adieu and in the interest of keeping it real, I'm going to show you some real, honest befores and afters. I know some folks keep the befores to a minimum because it will all look prettier on Pinterest, but you need to know how far we've come to really appreciate the work that went into this.  My family of four spent about 30 hours total on this project, with my mom supplying much needed support in some shoveling, grocery delivery, water and Gatorade provisions and pleas to "come in and take a break".  The project included a load of caliche, 2 loads of gravel, a load of top soil, three and a half pallets of sod, one flat tire complete with stranding on the side of the road for 4 hours, 2 amazingly generous friends who saved us in our hours of need (thanks Paige and Robert!), two other great friends who loaned us their trailer (thanks Jennifer and Lee!), one Bobcat rental, at least 6 trips to Lowe's, at least 4 trips to Home Depot, a concrete cutter rental, 4 bad backs, innumerable blisters, copious amounts of sweat, some tears and a lot of pride for a DIY that actually sort of worked.

Before:

There was literally NO GRASS AT ALL on this side. Nothing.  So no pesky weeding or anything over here. 



During:


After:


We reduced the size of the yard by adding a 2 ft border along the retaining wall and adding a fire pit on the back corner.  The chairs and red trellis are from Lowe's.  The fire pit is from Sam's Club.




Before:



The pool was greenish from recent rain and a part that needed replacing.  And it was full of dirt as well.


After:


It still looks a little dry on this side.  It's been a week of some of the hottest summer weather.  But it's coming a long nicely. 



Before:

During:


After:




This is my favorite.  This patio was a real challenge. We thought these formed concrete pavers from Lowe's were cool. Getting them in the right order was not cool at all.  We finally found this .pdf on line and got it to work.  Since there was no grass there, we weren't worried about grass coming through, so we just built the border, added gravel, then some sand, placed the pavers and swept in more sand. We had to rent a concrete saw for the edges, but I think it turned out great.

Before:

After:


 Before:


After:

If you're looking for me, I'll be hanging around here.

 


Thanks for reading and for following along on Instagram.  If you have any questions about anything we did or used, feel free to leave a comment and then follow for a response and I'll answer as best I can.

I'll be getting back to making art and fun stuff like that soon!  Some friends and I are cooking up a really fun project for the fall. Stay tuned!

<3 Lori

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Be Your Own Hero

It's probably ridiculous coming from someone my age, but it's true.  I've been waiting for someone to save me for a very long time.  Practically my whole life, really.  It had to be those fairy tales and the old Disney movies before Mulan and Brave.  Even Batman, Speed Racer, and Mighty Mouse followed the same general theme, right?  There's a damsel in distress of some sort.  Someone (perhaps a small rodent) swoops in at the last minute, cape flying, and saves the day?

I'm not a helpless person.  My parents raised us girls to be self-reliant.  I know how to change the oil in a car (a 1976 AMC Pacer, at least.  Don't test me on something made in this century).  I can start a lawn mower and use it the "right" way.  I can drive a manual transmission. With enough time and frustration, I can move a couch up the stairs and over the landing by myself. 

My dad had a common response when I said I couldn't do something.  He said, "Can't never could."  On the surface, that might not make much sense.  But to me it meant, "work harder", "stop complaining",  "just do it".  Henry Ford may have said it just as well, if less succinctly, when he said, "The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can't are both right. Which one are you?"

I bought this awesome tooled leather cuff from Becky at FarmGirlPaints.  I've been wearing it pretty much non-stop since it arrived in the mail.  It helps me remember.



Starting a handmade business is not for sissies.  Feeling called to do something different that what you are currently doing and feeling periodically that it's really never going to happen can be defeating and exhausting.  Yesterday was one of those days.  I was flinging myself around about being a damsel in distress.  This is the result:

The original is viewable and available for purchase in my Etsy shop here.

Shortly after that, God spoke to me through Facebook (Ha!! I know!  It's crazy. It happens more times than I care to admit) when I saw a scripture scroll by on my newsfeed.  

"Say to those with anxious hearts, 'Be strong, do not be afraid! Here is your God— he will bring vengeance, he will bring divine retribution, and he will save you."  Isaiah 35:4

I might have disputed that statement yesterday.  I might have said out loud, "THAT'S NOT TRUE!!"...a couple of times, actually.  I'm pretty sure He'll forgive me for that.  It was a momentary weakness.  If you have issues even bigger than the ones I wrestle with, He'll save you too (just maybe not in the way you have in mind or might prefer).  Ask Him.  Through Him, all things are possible.  

But we both have to forget about waiting around for some human with a cape to make things right.  

Pray about it.  Decide it can be done. Then do it. 

Be your own hero.

<3 Lori

Monday, May 19, 2014

Bigger Things

Saturday was little Micah Andrew Brown's funeral.  He was five years old.  I didn't know him or his family or anyone who knew him, his family or any of his friends.  Someone I follow on Instagram (and now I'm not even sure how I ran across her) posted about the accident that his family was involved in...the one that took his life.  I clicked over to the link she provided and something clicked over in me.

I looked at the family's photos....a mom and a dad and four little light skinned kids and two little dark skinned kids.  Then I found the mom's (Ryann's) blog. There hasn't been an entry since last October. That was shortly after they brought the little dark skinned kids home from the Dominican Republic.  Her blog is all about the history of their international adoption and how they became the parents of six kids under the age of eight.  I'm sure they've been a little busy since then.

 Source: GoFundMe.com

This past Monday afternoon, their world changed.  Little Micah was lost and his older sisters were critically injured.  Rebekah and Sarah remain in different hospitals 100 miles apart in Alabama both having sustained traumatic brain injuries.  Friends of the family have established this GoFundMe site. There's also a Caringbridge page for the family. 

As I was reading the family's blog "becauseofhisgreatlove" about their call to adopt, their decision making process regarding from what country to adopt, and the struggles they faced in the waiting (which I've come to learn is the hardest part about any kind of adoption, domestic or international) a scripture Ryann quoted caught my attention.  She was talking about being far from home waiting for the process to run its course in Dominican Republic.  They were missing their friends and family and their church family.  She wrote, "We were thirsty for community. We were experiencing fatigue, persecution, hardship. But God did not intend for us to go through this alone. He sent good news from a far country. This came in many forms through visits from friends and family, through care packages, through encouraging notes and prayers."  She said they were thirsty for community.

As cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. Prov. 25:25

God has called us all to hep orphans (James 1:27).  This call has been weighing on my heart for a while.  Ryann's post was just another tap on my shoulder.  I've been able to contribute to an adoption fundraiser that was hosted by Hannah of Hello Grace Blog, who I also ran across on Instagram. She does them regularly, and I look forward to participating again. But I want to do more.  Ryann's post inspired me to make this art, which is just the beginning of an art ministry for adoption support.



The original can be found in my Etsy shop here.  I'm also offering 11 x 14 prints here, which are $20. Ten dollars of every print sold will be donated to help fundraising efforts of adoptive parents. I'm not sure yet exactly how that will work, but one way I will start is by searching the #adoptionfundraiser hashtag on Instagram.  Along with Hannah (who I talked about above), my friend Kate from The Adopt Shoppe is also experienced both as an adoptive parent and as someone who donates for fundraisers. I know they'll help me.

Did you know it's estimated there are 153 MILLION orphans worldwide?  I can't help them all, but I can do something.  I've known from the beginning this art business is not just about me. It's about bigger things.  It's time to get to it.

Please pray for the Brown family in Alabama.  Check out their Caringbridge and GoFundMe pages using the links above.  They've gotten a lot of support and prayers already, but they will be needing them for a very long time to come, I'm afraid.  So please add them to your lists.

Is there a quote or scripture that speaks to your heart about adoption?  If so, I'd love for you to share it in the comments.  It might inspire the next installment in this ministry.

Until next time, may the good Lord speak your calling to your heart, too.

<3 Lori

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Inspiration

I haven't been here in a very long time.  I didn't realize it had been this long, though.  I hit a dry patch in my inspiration after the holidays. It's strange really.  I've noticed in the last few years the change of seasons between winter and spring is especially turbulent for me.    There are always end of school activities, schedule transitions, the busy season at the real job, the spider webs and dust that become more visible after a long gray season. A few years ago, I realized I had an urge to run away every spring.  Oddly, there is some comfort in knowing the restlessness is cyclical and would eventually yield to a more peaceful summertime ease.  Maybe a creative pause will also be part of that.

During my creative lull, I bought a bunch of books and began to read them all at one time.  I don't know why I do that.


I ditched all bready, sugary, yummy stuff from my diet (full disclosure: except one or two Lindt Sea Salt dark chocolate squares a day.  I believe in the sanctity of life, which would possibly not be preserved without chocolate...so..there's that.)  Then I gassed up my fitbit and dusted off my treadmill. 



I saw my artwork on national television.  That was pretty cool.  I cannot for the life of me find the Youtube video in Blogger's Youtube search function, so here's a photo and a link to the video which (thank goodness) I saved to my art board on Pinterest.




I also spent some time on the porch.





And started to feel some rumblings of inspiration.




Both these pieces and the other small things I've made in the last week since my inspiration came back are being added to my Etsy shop this week.

It's nice to be back.  Thanks for being here.

<3 Lori



Friday, March 7, 2014

Google Hangout

I said I was going to do a blog post every day for 30 days, and by golly, I'm gonna finish one thing that I say I'm going to do.  After this, maybe I'll get that Bible read all the way through, not just the high points (Numbers, here I come) and maybe I'll actually be able to make it past day three of a workout regimen.  

So today, nine of my online friends and I hung out together.  I know I'm not technologically advanced at all.  I Skyped for the first time just about a month ago.  We don't have Netflix. I don't Vine.  I do have Amazon Prime but just for the free shipping, and I use my phone mostly for a phone.  This stuff is almost like science fiction for me.

The fact that I can sit in my sitting area in my bedroom in little bitty podunk Texas and chat with nine other  people representing six other states is just AMAZING to me.  It was really fun!  This is the absolutely adorable Georgia girl Renee Burke of  Mind, Body, and Spirit Yoga.  Look her up! She does online one-on-one yoga classes!  All my other friends are across the bottom of the screen.  The person who is talking pops up on the big screen.  Of course, when we are all yakking at one time and laughing our heads off everyone is popping up all over the place and making us all dizzy.




Hangout would be cool to use for mini family reunions, business meetings, book clubs, Bible studies...all kinds of things!  You should gather some friends or distant relatives and DO it!

That's the big thing that happened for me today.  I'll be back tomorrow with some other tidbit I haven't discovered yet!  Have you used Google Hangout or some other video technology dohicky thing for something cool?  If so, I'd love to hear about it!

<3 Lori