My blog dress and header has changed! As a newlywed, I am excited to present a whole new theme.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Spiritual Sundays/An eDevotion -- China

I am going to venture out into something completely different for me and am going to be participating in Spiritual Sundays this week, and maybe every Sunday that I manage to get around to it.

You see, this is a really new thing dating a man of the cloth. I never, EVER pictured myself dating a minister! I mean, I haven't even been a church-goer for well over 10 years. Though I have always been a very spiritual woman, and have told people that I am a Christian, I described myself as a "disillusioned, disenchanted Christian." I have encountered a lot of weirdness in the body of Christ. Sad to say, some of the biggest hurts I have ever received in my life were at the hands of those who called themselves Christians. People have said some of the stupidest things to me, feeling that they were sharing through Christ.

It was enough to make me feel like I never wanted to go back to a mainstream church ever again. Still, I longed to be part of a church again. I have longed for that fellowship. But I just didn't know if I could do it.

One of the things I really like about my sweetheart is that he writes eDevotions. He recently even had one published in the Upper Room daily devotional! When I received the following one in my email, at first I wondered if he was purposely stepping on my toes. Read on: and by the way, these are copyright per Pastor Mike, but if you want to use it or share it, I would be thrilled to pass on a message to him so that you can get his eDevotions in your inbox too!

This one is titled "China."

"Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world." 1 Peter 2:12

I’ve never been to China, but I bet it isn’t anything like Chinese restaurants.

For one thing, eating at Chinese restaurants you’d think that a nation of a billion people had only managed to come up with three kinds of soup. Also, fortune cookies aren’t Chinese. (True story – when fortune cookies were first marketed in China they were advertised as "Authentic – just like in America!") And they probably don’t really number all their food like that over there. And anyway, most "Chinese" dishes we see have been mutated into more American-type vittles. I bet when folks from China come here to visit they go to McDonalds, where at least they’ll have some idea what the heck they’re ordering.

What I’m trying to say is, you’d be nuts to make any judgments about the country of China based on your local neighborhood noodle house.

It’s no less crazy to draw conclusions about the Kingdom of God from your experiences with some church. But people do that all the time. Because they have found some congregations to be narrow, bigoted, insensitive, judgmental (you know this list as well as I do) they deduce that they are better off without the whole shebang. They can be "spiritual but not religious." OR, equally erroneous, because some churches have rubbed them that way at a particular time and place they conclude that they all must be that way. Listen, there are many, many churches where the love command is still on the books – where people who are different are welcomed, generosity is practiced, the sick and poor are treated with dignity, and folks are encouraged to use their brains. They just don’t show that kind on TV very much.

And while we’re at it some of those eggroll joints aren’t bad either. At least they’ll get you by until you finally get to make your big trip to China.

Like I said, at first this eDevotion kind of rubbed me the wrong way. I thought, "well, I'm not going to like them all." I also wondered if he was quoting me with the "spiritual but not religious" part, since I say that a lot. Turns out that he wasn't.

It still got me to thinking. Maybe it's time I put aside some of the hurts. As a counselor, I had a whole lesson on Forgiveness. Though I thought I had forgiven all the hurts, I was still letting them affect my life today.

Time to put it all in the past. Time to move forward. Time to stop letting what stupid things other Christians have done to keep me from getting with others and worshipping and praising my Lord again in a church family.

So I am not yet going to my boyfriend's church. For him, it will be a Really Big Deal for me to hear him preach. I'm happy that he so highly values my opinion of his work, and that he wants to be impressive. I've decided to start attending my son's church in the meantime. It still feels a little awkward, and I feel like a little bit of a fake after being out of the loop for over a decade, but the people are warm and welcoming. I feel fed. I feel accepted.

And I feel pretty darn good about it. Hallelujah!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tablescape Thursday/Everyday Tablescape

Welcome to another Tablescape Thursday! I haven't participated in quite a while, but I felt it was about time that I shared my every day tablescape with you. For the last few months, this is what my table has looked like. Nothing fancy this time, just giving you a glimpse into how I like my table looking all the least for now.

But before I start, how many of you have thought about the most basic element of tablescaping...the table on which your pretties all sit? I have a table that looks very similar to this table, except my chairs are different.

In fact, my chairs don't even all match, though they did when I first bought them. I found many more beautiful kitchen tables, at Dining Rooms Direct,a division of CSN. Yes, this is a teaser for an upcoming product review that I will be doing! Anyhow, please do check out that site for all the gorgeous dining sets they have there.

It's true though. The table on which you set your beautiful things is important to setting the mood in your dining room or kitchen. I LOVE my table, and have had it for years now.

My current tablescape all started with this pretty placemat. I found four of these at Walmart on sale for $1.50 each. I love the warm reds and golden yellows. It went really well with the table runner that I had purchased online a few years back on eBay.

I had purchased the goldent yellow tablecloth for $5 at Wally World last fall and used it at Thanksgiving. To this, I added my white Gibson dishes, and dark red salad plates, also from Walmart for about $1.50 each. I used my everyday eating utensils.

I have used my grandmother's milk glass glasses for many tablescapes.

I got the iron stars at a home party years ago. I don't know where I would get them any more these days. They are designed to be candle holders, but were originally architectural in purpose. I love stars, which are a big theme in my decorating.

I didn't get elaborate with the tablescape, but felt that I needed a little something extra. I added a red candle with an apple scent, and this little yellow duck that I found at Goodwill. It was originally part of a set that was sold through Home Interiors. I found it for much cheaper at GW!

He makes me feel that this tablescape is just "ducky!"

Ok, I'll stop with that for now!

Please do check out other tablescapes, hosted by Susan at Between Naps on the Porch. This is such a fun weekly event!

Perhaps one day soon I'll get a little bored with this table setting and do something new. Until then, see you!

Monday, September 20, 2010

What I've Been Up to This Summer, Part 2

Here I am three weeks after my last post. Since it is the last partial day of summer, I suppose I better update you on the rest of my summer activities!

Before I start though, I would like to note the absence of two of my favorite bloggers, Dot from "Picket Fences" and Heather (Rue) of "Rue's Peanut Butter and Jelly Life" who have apparently left the blogging world during the last week or two. Though I don't know if they will ever see this, I would like to tell them both that they touched my heart when they shared their lives with me and the world, and that they shall be sorely missed. I hope they both come back sometime. Since I can no longer access their blogs, I didn't get to see why they decided to stop blogging, but I want to say that I do understand if they felt that this was best for them. There is NOTHING more important out there than our families, and I feel that this is why they left.

On a happier note, my sweetheart Mike has let me post his pictures on Facebook, so I am sharing a few here now too. We have been dating for just over 4 months now. I really don't like this first picture of us, but its what I have.

Here are a couple pictures I took of him on one of our boat trips. Isn't he cute?

One of the places I got to go this summer was to Jellystone Park at Barton Lake, Indiana, near Fremont. This was a working vacation (as an aide), but so much fun! This is where I got to stay, in one of their deluxe cabins. This picture is from the website.

I took this pic of the lake.

The ceilings were so high! I love pine, so I really liked the cabin interior.

Each cabin was decorated a little differently. I would have loved to "borrow" these curtains for my own home. Of course, I didn't.

One of the camp activities was a luau, so I got some Hawaiian shirts, which I hung with my jacket in the living room.

There was a picture hanging on the wall which I loved because it reminded me of summers spent at Clear Lake nearby during my childhood. More on that in a bit!

The rest of these cabin pictures are from the campground's site, linked above. This is how the cabin where I stayed looked too.

I would love to go back there again someday, but with my own family! It was a lot of fun.

Here I am helping out at one activity.

This was a part of another activity, which was great fun! There were also three pools, and of course, I spent time in one of them!

After three days at camp, I drove home, passing Clear Lake, Indiana, where I spent every summer until after I was 12. My grandparents had owned a cottage here, which my father later inherited. Eventually, they sold the cottage, which broke my heart, but now that I have been a parent struggling to make ends meet, I understand why they did it.

Anyhow, our cottage was just 6 lots down from the public beach. Here is a view from the bluff overlooking the beach.

Then views to the left, and right.

Here is the to the public. I remember it looking bigger when I was young!

Oh, how I miss that lake and the old cottage, now long gone. My visit sure tugged at my heart and brought a few tears to my eyes.

I made another stop on the way home to visit my sweetie and his children. We decided to take a little trip to George Bible Park near Montpelier, Ohio. There is such a pretty pond there. It's so peaceful.

We took a walk around the pond. Her is Mike in the woods, looking like he is none too pleased that I have poked a camera in his face. Can't help it...he's so cute! Actually, it was about 97 degrees that day and we were sweltering.

Here is his pretty daughter in the park.

And his son standing on a log.

Another pic of his daughter while in the woods.

His son peers into the pond, maybe looking for frogs and minnows.

As Mike and I sat and rested, his son decided to pretend he was airbending/breakdancing at the edge of the pond.

I also took some scenic pics. Pretty yellow flowers!

View from the pond's edge.

A closeup of a green walnut.

Despite the heat, it was a fun day!

Toward the end of August, my sweetie Mike and I and his children took off for a day at Pokagon State Park near Angola, Indiana. This is a lovely place. They have a beach for swimming, picnic areas, and hiking trails. In the winter, they have tobogganing. In case you wonder where my boys are during all these activities, mostly at work, or declining to come along.

We decided to hike trail number three. I was really uspet that I forgot my camera because there were so many beautiful things on the way! This is picture is from this website. These are wetlands near a small lake that we passed on the trail.

Our destination was an overlook called Hell's Point. I found this picture here. It was worth the almost 2 1/2 mile hike!

Following our hike and a picnic lunch, we cooled off in beautiful Lake James and relaxed on the pretty sand beach. I found this pic here. I would love to go back next summer, even if just to spend the day on the beach. The water felt great!

I'm so glad that I had such a wonderful summer, and that for the first time in over a decade, I had a summer filled with love!

But now summer is hours from being officially over, and I am so thrilled to be moving on to autumn, my favorite season!

Until later, enjoy these (hopefully) cooler days! In this part of Ohio though, our first full day of fall is supposed to get to 88 degrees.