Friday, April 4, 2014

Dumb Chicken!


This is Pearl.
She's my dumbest hen.
I've learned a lot about chickens in my time as a chicken lady...
They're chicken...as in scared...not species.
They aren't terribly smart.
They are generally followers, except for the hen at the top of the pecking order.
They're fast.
They're twitchy.
They squawk a lot.
They can destroy a patch of lawn in no time flat!
And other various things, the most important being that they are hilarious!
Pearl is a special kind of dumb.
She is near the bottom, if not ON the bottom of the pecking order.
She is a poor follower.
She is chicken...the most chicken hen I have.
I enter the pen and she starts running to get away from me,
sometimes running TOWARDS me, realizing her mistake and changing directions abruptly, squawking a warning of my aggression to her coop-mates...all of whom understand that I will be throwing them scratch and flock around my feet in anticipation...
Pearl is always on the edge of the crowd...missing the bulk of the treats.
I sometimes throw some out to her...
She runs away, frightened.
Dumb hen.
Lately, I've been letting the ladies out of the pen to feast on bugs, worms, green leafys and other goodies.  They generally stick close to the house and close together.
Even Pearl knows the drill.
Until it's time to go back into the pen.
After a few hours of scratching and nibbling and bathing in soft, dry dirt, the ladies are ready for a handful of scratch and the comforts of home.
I grab a handful of grain and call them back into the pen...
They come running...
Into the coop they go where I've thrown a handful or two of their favorite treat!
All, that is, except for Pearl.
She ALWAYS get's "stuck" outside the fence.
She runs back and forth, back and forth, back and forth...
"Where's the door...I can't find the door!" she squawks
She's in full panic mode...
Running, running, running...
back and forth...back and forth...
I say "Oh my gosh, you're so dumb!"
And I sigh and grab a little handful of scratch to give her a trail to the door...
It doesn't work.
She's too dumb to figure it out.
"It's over here!" I say
I move away from the door to give her room to come in without feeling threatened by my presence...
Nope.
She continues to panic.
She's sure the door is on that side of the pen...but WHERE did it go??
I usually give up after about 5 minutes of coaxing...By then the other ladies have eaten most of the scratch.
I go into the house and let her panic alone...the other hens watch her, I imagine what they must be thinking...it's no wonder she's on the bottom of the pecking order!
After she paces on the outside for about 15 minutes, she is calmer, perhaps able to think clearly (if that's even possible for her to do) and I go back out, into the pen again, grab some more scratch and THEN she figures it out.
It's a dance we do every single time they are allowed out of the coop...
every. single. time.
And I wonder...
Am I like Pearl?
When God wants to give me something, do I rely on my own ideas or thoughts or wisdom to find it?
Am I listening when He opens a door and says "Go right in and feast?"
Do I say "NO, you don't understand!  The door is on this side of the situation...THIS is the right way!"
The door to my coop is around a corner from where Pearl runs back and forth...
It takes a good amount of trust for a chicken hen to go around a corner...especially if the hen is as chicken as Pearl.
It takes a good amount of trust for me to step out of my own knowledge of what the situation is...to trust God's plan for my life.
I have to believe that He knows more...seems like a "duh" moment...it should be a "duh" moment, but I always seem to question and hesitate or turn the other way...I can't see the door.  I can't see that it's open.
I rely on myself, rejecting God's wisdom.
I don't want to be a Pearl...I want to go through doors the second they're opened...to reap the bounty of God's goodness...to step out in faith and not be so "chicken".
Thankfully God doesn't stand by the door saying "OH my gosh, you're so dumb!"...He lovingly waits...patiently...for me to stop being so....Pearl-like!
I'm working on it...God is good...the opportunities to grow in faith are endless and daily and I pray that someday I won't relate to creatures like Pearl!  :)
Isaiah 55:8-9  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Importance of Faith...


Our state experienced a catastrophic landslide this week.
The numbers of dead and missing fluctuate from day to day.
I'm reminded how precious life is...how precious people are...how life can be snuffed out so quickly.
The images of the devastation are everywhere...the sorrow-filled faces of family members, friends, neighbors...tragedies like this one tend to bring people together...to ignite us deep inside to the compassion and love and tenderness that is always there...stuffed down in the mundane of our day to day activities.
I watched the local news this morning.
The anchors spoke to a pastor because they said:
"Faith is important at a time like this."
At a time like this.
Faith is important at a time like this.

And then I wondered...

If we're in the midst of the pinnacle of happiness...does faith lose importance?

What if you were in the midst of the pinnacle of happiness...giving a new baby a bath, talking to an old friend on the phone, enjoying a latte...and the mud came down and ended it right there.

When is faith important?

We run to God when life gets too difficult for our spirits to bear alone.
When we receive a frightening diagnosis.
When we lose a loved one.
When we need a job
When the phone rings in the middle of the night.
When we feel all alone.

But what if we lived our lives in close fellowship with God
every... single... day...
and the difficulties came?
They're inevitable.
Life is not easy.
Death is sure.

To be close with God is not all about following a set of rules...
It is a relationship...
it is peace in the swirling chaos...
power in the face of fear...
love in the presence of hate...
and
joy in the midst of sorrow.

It is life eternal when death descends...

Jeremiah 17:7-8
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

DIY - A Treadmill Desk!!














In my quest for fitness, I've come to a realization...I'm 48.  I am at war with my body...more accurately, my body is at war with me...even more accurately, fat cells are clinging like a sea urchin to rock, like a magnet to a refrigerator...fleas to a dog...it's getting ridiculous folks...so yesterday, as I sat on my sofa, complaining about age and how I can hardly eat a banana without gaining a pound, it occurred to me.  I was just sitting on my sofa.  I had been writing, reading emails, commenting on friends' Facebook posts, looking for a mother-of-the-bride dress, perusing Pinterest and contemplating my evil fat cells all the while, sitting sedentary. I realized that my bum was starting to ache from all the sitting...so I suggested to my husband that we go for a walk, which we did.  That was better...until I came home and plopped down for a good long sit...again.  It was then that it struck me...I immediately shifted on my sofa and googled "treadmill desk".

And there, right before my very eyes was a hideous, room-hogging contraption that spanned several square feet of treasured space at the low, low cost of $500 (which was one of the cheaper models).  I didn't need an entire office at my treadmill, just a flat surface on which I could pin amazing things on Pinterest or check email or, most importantly, write, while walking at a leisurely pace.  The idea isn't to do a workout while writing, it's to NOT SIT while writing.  I googled "how to make a treadmill desk" and I found this gem:  It's a 3-minute how-to on building your own simple treadmill desk!


AMAZING!  I decided then and there that I would make my own!

I am writing this post from my new treadmill desk...while walking...not sitting on my bum!

If you don't want to watch the video, here's how I made mine...it is a little different from the video because my dad had a better idea...I prefer an easily removed desktop that can be lifted off and set aside. My dad, being the woodworker extraordinaire that he is, helped me make this but it is a simple design and that you can easily reproduce!
I started by measuring the width of my treadmill...both inside the side bars (30") and outside the bars (33").  I also measured the width of the actual bars (1 1/2").
I went to Lowe's and bought an inexpensive shelf board.  Mine measured 36" long and 10" wide.  It cost about $7.
We used scraps to make the fittings...we cut the scrap boards into 9 3/4" lengths, 1/4" shorter than the width of the shelf board.

 

Next, we made the brackets...glueing and then nailing - or pinning with a nail gun - the longer sides to the bottom which happened to measure  1  1/2" - the width of the bars.
Once we made the brackets, we measured twice...for insurance...the width of the inside span of the treadmill arms on the shelf then secured the brackets in place with clamps.  I had a funny feeling, and I've learned never to ignore a funny feeling, so I opted to bring the shelf home to check our placement before screwing it in permanently.  Good thing I did...we had the brackets situated on the wrong side of the line.  I moved them over, re-applied the clamps and screwed them into the shelf.  PERFECT!  The shelf fit securely over both sides of the rails...




I love my new treadmill desk!  It was very inexpensive...even if I hadn't had access to wood scraps I can't imagine it would have cost more than 15 bucks to make!


It doesn't move as I walk because I'm not walking quickly.  It's quite easy to type and walk...it gives a whole new meaning to multitasking!  I did need to elevate my computer a bit...on a book...my hand started to ache a little.  Once it was elevated, it was fine...so...something to tweak in the design...or perhaps I just need to keep a book handy.
One thing I should mention...I had worried about the desk slipping off of the handles...since they are both smooth surfaces and there is some vibration as I walk.  Mine doesn't slip, it's snug enough, but I had a plan if it was looser and that is to add some of that rubberized material that keeps rugs from slipping on the floor...or that you put in your cupboards to keep dishes secure...that would keep the two smooth surfaces from sliding against each other.  Just fyi.  :)

As I've written this post, I've walked over 2 miles and have burned 295 calories!!!

THAT.  JUST.  HAPPENED!!!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Beadboard Flag Project!

I've been wanting to make one of these for years...why haven't I?  I don't know...short attention span...other projects on top of the list...the stars didn't align until now...(pun intended)
Here's the real reason why I finally decided to make my flag.  I was in my master woodworker dad's shop the other day,...admiring a couple of projects he was working on.  Out of the corner of my eye, I spied some beadboard leaning against some other wood.
"Whatcha doin' with that beadboard?" I asked, imagining a flag painted on it.
"Nothing, you want it?" he ventured
"YES!" I answered, jumping up and down with delight, "THANK YOU!"
"No, thank YOU!" he said, quickly handing it to my husband to load into the car, before I changed my mind.
My husband sighed...he was probably thinking about the vintage door I bought at a yard sale that sat in our garage for 5 YEARS before I FINALLY turned it into a very cool headboard for our bed.
I'm happy to report that the beadboard sat in the garage for a total of 2 days before I made the flag.  That's a personal record, folks.  I've never moved on a project so quickly!  :)

The first thing I had to do was cut the beadboard to the right size.  I love beadboard for this project because it has built-in guidelines!  I counted 13 stripes for the width and doubled that measurement for the length of the flag.  Then I cut it to size! 
                                               

I spray painted it an off-white...and not perfectly.  There were little areas where some wood showed through.  I'm going for a vintage look...a weathered old flag!  I taped off a square in the upper left corner for the blue part...and painted it...not perfectly.  
I was doing this on the back porch and kept running to the front porch to look at the flag hanging there for reference!  I measured with my eyes...not with a ruler!  I love projects like this because I'm not a perfectionist...I always make mistakes and hate to measure and re-measure and do perfect detail work.  Maybe that's why I'm such a fan of folk art!!  


After the blue part was dry, I taped off the stripes.  I used barn red for the stripes...and once again, I had to run to the front porch to peek at the flag...the stripes start and end with red...fyi.  
                                                                                                                      

Once the stripes were dry, I peeled off the tape and sanded down the whole flag a bit.  I liked it much better after the sanding.  It looked a little beat up, like it had seen some weather and action!


Then it was time for stars...I'll admit, I was a little nervous about the stars.  I am not a perfectionist, but I do want the starts to look somewhat star-like and I don't want them randomly plopped onto the flag.  I decided to use a star shaped sponge to make my stars.  Finding a compressed sponge in my stash, I drew a star shape on it with a pencil and cut it out.  It was lopsided and a little sad, but so what!
I ran to the front porch to examine the stars.  Horizontally, there were 5 rows of 6 stars and 4 rows of 5 stars...starting and ending with rows of 6.  I placed all of the rows of 6 first, then filled in with the rows of 5.  I did my best to make the rows somewhat straight and spaced evenly.  They turned out perfectly imperfect!


Since I'm not one to leave well enough alone, I had to antique it.  And since I didn't have any stain available, I watered down some brown craft paint.  That had an unintended consequence which I will point out in a moment.  I painted the brown wash over small sections and wiped it off...just like stain. It collected in the grooves which I liked!  The unintended consequence was that some of the blue paint and stars rubbed away with the brown wash.  At first I was horrified, then I decided that I liked it...it's quite weathered and wonderful!


A coat of sealer and hangers on the back and I'm all done!  I'm super happy with it and it feels good to check this project off of my mental list of projects I've always wanted to make!


This is one of those instant gratification projects that moves quickly with the majority of the effort going into waiting for things to dry...think of it as a chance to practice patience!  
Happy Creating!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Running In Spite of Me...


My friend and I have been slacking...
It's been very rainy and I think we've been under the impression that running in the rain would cause us to melt into a puddle.
Not true.
So today, when we cancelled AGAIN due to rain (let's all say it together..."wimpy"), we decided to run in the afternoon...after all, it's light much later these days!
Then my daughter called.
She'd be coming by after work....OH how fun, would you like to join us on our run?
Of course she would.
She's cool like that.
So we met at the trail...where there's a loop that makes a perfect 5K...
Did I mention that we'd been slacking?
Yeah.
It's been a while since we'd run a full 3.1 miles...quite. a. while.
While we stretched, my daughter talked about the 10K training she wanted to do with us...
Have I mentioned that I've been snookered into running a 10K?
No, I haven't, because I'm not ready to talk about it yet.
It scares me.
Did you know that 10K is 6.2 miles.  SIX POINT TWO MILES!
More on that later.
We reminded her that we'd been slacking and that today may be a little rough for the old ladies.
We took off running...and by running, I mean jogging and by jogging I mean slowly.
I ran out of breath very quickly.
I bowed out of the conversation.
"Yeah" and "Ha!" and "Wow!" and "Really?" were all that I could muster.
Once again, I practiced listening...it's good for me.
About a mile in, I was done.
Fini.
BUT...I kept going because the other two kept going...peer pressure in it's most divine form.
We were approaching the half-way point and I was dying.  No, really, I think I was literally dying.
I began to hatch a plan.
I felt like I could burst into tears at any moment.  It wouldn't take much to put me over the edge. (That's happened to me once before - the burst into tears feeling.  It's a strange phenomenon and I was feeling it.)
If I burst into tears near the little road that led to our cars, I could say "I'm sorry, I just can't make it, you two go ahead!", all the while, sobbing at my inability to complete the full 3.1 miles.  They'd say "Oh, Heather, it's okay, go back to the car and we'll meet you there"...or..."We'll just go halfway today, next time you'll be able to do it!  Don't worry!"
I saw it all clearly.  My plan could work.
As we approached the road, my friend even asked if I wanted to continue on or just do half...maybe she was hatching a plan of her own...
We came to the little road and we kept on going.  I didn't shed a tear or say a word.  I shut my weenie-a$$ self down, letting the plan die.  I've done this run dozens of times...easy peasy, right?  Well, no, not easy peasy this time, but I KNEW I could do it!!
I told myself to go to the railroad tracks....then I told myself to go to the end of the gravel road...then I told myself to go to the cross-street and then I told myself to go to the car!
And I did.
I did it because I didn't want to disappoint my running buddies.  I did it because I wanted to make my daughter proud.  I did it because I wanted to make myself proud.  I did it because I had something to prove...to me...and I did!
If you're struggling with your own negative inner chatter...shut that down!  You're stronger than you think!  I wish I could record the things I say to myself when I'm running...at the beginning I'm very negative.  "I can't do that"..."I'm so tired"..."I'll just stop when I get to ___"
Each time I chase one of those lies with some truth "I can do it"..."I won't die"...when I keep going in spite of me, or TO spite me, I am always surprised what this middle-aged body will do for me.  We don't give ourselves enough credit...probably because we don't push ourselves to see what we can accomplish...which brings me to the pesky subject of that 10K...

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Texting and Trusting...



I have this daughter that goes to foreign lands to serve the Lord...and she has a mother that trusts God BUT wants to know details so she can be SURE everything is in order...that God's got all His ducks in a row...wait...that is a bit contradictory...

Here's how it went down...

I received a text message at 3am this morning...as my daughter boarded a plane in Miami, bound for Haiti...
Love you mom!!!  Talk to you in two weeks :-):-):-)
The text message chime woke me up...I read it and my heart started beating a little bit harder.
I texted her back.
Love you too!  Praying for the team and everyone you'll meet!  Have a save trip!
Love, Love, Love!
I prayed for her...I prayed for the team and for the people she would be meeting and for the children she'd fall in love with...thanking the Lord for the opportunity He'd given to her, I laid back down...closed my eyes...and...
Did she take her malaria meds?  She should have started taking them already.  She never mentioned them to me.  We went over everything she packed and she never mentioned the medicines the travel clinic gave her.  She must have.  Surely the team talked about that in their meetings.  What if she forgot them?  What if she doesn't have the medicine and she GETS malaria?  What if I get a call saying that she's deathly ill in a hospital in Haiti?  What if?  She MUST have taken it....it's probably in her backpack.  
I prayed, asking God to protect her from malaria.
Amid my swirling worry, she texted:
Love Love Love
Oh good, she's still got her phone on!  I should ask.  No, that would be silly.  What if she DID forget it and now she's going to worry too!  But I could trust God and not ask and just trust that He'll protect her.....hmmmm.....
:)
I shouldn't ask...that would be very faithless of me....but...
You're taking your malaria meds right?
Just checking!! (when you put 'just' in front of a word, it minimizes the next word...just sayin'...just checking...."I know you did, I'm just saying it out loud, I don't really need to ask...just checking.")
Love you!  Wrap it up with a little love and she'll never know I was worrying...it's hidden...she'll never know I've been stewing for the last 10 minutes...
Yes in a minute. :-)
love you don't worry
I'm in God's hands :-) 
:-)
Tears sprang to my eyes.
I won't worry!!!!  I know you are!
Schooled by my own daughter.
If I can't rest in the knowledge that she's in God's hands, I will not know rest.
God has called her to be His hands and feet.
To step in as His ambassador.
If He called her to do His work, He's not going to leave to her helpless.  
I know that in my head.
That truth sometimes gets stuck in worry on its way to my heart.
Today I'm thankful that God is with Emily and all of the people around the world sharing the Gospel with every nation.  
They're in His hands.
In His very trustworthy hands.

Philippians 4:19
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Weddings...


The wedding planning is in full swing now!
Have I mentioned that my daughter is getting married?
She is!
OH happy day!
Interestingly enough, she is getting married on our 29th Anniversary.
It was a funny coincidence...not planned...just happened that the venue she chose was only available on that particular day during the time they wanted.
There are so many details involved in wedding planning today.
So many choices to make!
I've been thinking about when I planned my wedding...29 years ago...
I only had a handful of choices to make and the number of things to choose from in each category were very limited!
For instance.
I did not go to a bridal salon and try on lots of dresses.
I went to a fabric store and looked through pattern books.
I chose my bridesmaid dresses the exact same way.
I did not have cake tastings with lists of flavors and fillings.
I chose white cake with white frosting (a wedding cake, duh!) and then I chose the color of the frosting roses on top!
I went to Hallmark and chose my invitations from a pool of about 25 styles.
I had to choose the kind of punch to be served at the cake and punch reception at the church.
No alcohol.  No choice.  Period.
Did I want mints and nuts at the reception?  Yes.  Done.
I chose two soloists and the songs they would sing.
The flowers were pretty standard...we chose colors and the florist recommended types of flowers.
We went with the thriftier choices.
I loved my wedding!
I got married before reality TV and Pinterest.  I was blissfully unaware that my wedding could have been a statement of my style and a representation of our personalities.
I was 19-years-old.
I don't think I even knew what my style was at that age...
To me, our wedding was a ceremony...a celebration of having found the one that my soul loves!
It was a reason to eat cake.
Then we got the heck outta there and started our life together!

I'm enjoying the modern process of wedding planning.
It's fun to do some of the steps ourselves...to be creative...
I'm enjoying helping my daughter express their style in the invitations and decor.
It's SO FUN to pin wedding ideas on Pinterest!
It will be a lovely wedding.
It will be a lovely wedding because the people getting married are loved.  They are made for each other.  They are chosen for each other by God.
In the end, it doesn't matter what decor is on the tables or how the invitations look or how beautiful her dress is (and it is very beautiful!).
What matters is that two people will be starting their life together, speaking vows before God and their family...they will carry on the legacies of each family and begin their own legacy for their children and grandchildren.
That is the stuff of life.
Flowers will die...lace will yellow...cake gets stale...
Love lives on for generations...