Sunday, May 31, 2015

So thankful...

After the wild and crazy month we've had, we knew we needed to get away for some rest once our daughter's wedding was over.    We were sad to find out that our friend's vacation home was already rented out for the week.  Then, whoever had been scheduled to rent the house had a change of plans and we were notified that it was available for us to use after all.  The time away was exactly what we needed and I'm so thankful to God for providing it for us.

The honeymooners are home from their honeymoon.  It was fun to see them for a few minutes and to see how happy they are.  In various areas of all three of our daughters' lives, there has been a long season of hope deferred before they finally saw the desire of their heart realized.  In my youngest daughter, she waited and prayed for God to bring His choice of a husband into her life for many years and wondered at times if it was ever going to happen.  I got a text from her when they were on their way home from their honeymoon saying how happy they both are and that she's so glad she waited for a great guy.  I'm glad too, and so thankful to God.

Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks
piling up gratitude day by day
in my little green journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

-the vacation home being available for us
-safe travels on a busy Memorial Day
-sunny skies
-flag lined streets
-a walk in God's beautiful creation with some worship music playing in my earbuds 

-a full refund of the deposit on the wedding venue
-fun photos of the honeymooners
-catching up on my Bible reading

-sleeping for ten hours!
-spending the morning in my pajamas writing
-driving to town and eating at our favorite Mexican restaurant

-hiking around Suttle Lake

-texts from our girl saying how happy her and her new husband are
-a sweet treat- cookies and ice cream

-no side effects from our grandson's immunizations
-a fun last day of vacation with my husband-dinner and a movie
-the smell of the air after a thunder shower

-a safe trip home
-beautiful weather to do some work on our yard
-seeing the newlyweds for a few minutes

-the sweet presence of God 
-an encouraging, fun time at lunch with friends
-helping my daughter hang some wall decor up in her house

gratefully yours,

Friday, May 29, 2015

Psalm 62:5

I don't think there's anything more difficult to cope with than hopelessness.
In my opinion, hope isn't something you can conjure up or produce by an act of your will,
yet hope is essential in order not to quit.
There are only two ways that I know to battle hopelessness,
bathing your mind and heart with a relentless input of the truth in God's Word 
and spending time in God's presence.
In Isaiah 42:3 God promises that a bruised reed He will not break
 and a faintly burning candle He won't quench.
There have been many times in my life when I thought I was going to break,
when I thought my flame was just about to be snuffed out.
Yet, here I am, still standing, still shining.
Just when I've been about to give up, God gives me hope,
not just once in my life, but over and over again.
I don't conjure it up, I don't will it into existence, I don't pull myself up by my own bootstraps,
He comes to me, just in time, with enough hope to keep going.
If you are feeling hopeless today, tell Him.
Pour out your heart to God, ask Him for a fresh touch of hope.

still following,

Scripture and Snapshot


Also happily linking up with the lovely Lisha Epperson 

Friday Faves....Tips for a Beautiful Wedding on a Budget

They say that the average cost for a wedding in the U.S. is $25,000!  I assume that if the average person is paying that much for a wedding, then either the bride and groom or the bride's parents are probably paying off wedding expenses accumulated on their credit cards for years after the wedding day.  

Our youngest daughter was married last Saturday. She is the last of our three daughters to get married.  Each one of our girls had a beautiful wedding. Each one was completely unique to them.  Each one of their weddings cost well under $5000, for our portion of the expenses.  I thought it would be fun to write a short series of posts on how to have a beautiful wedding on a budget.  Today is the introduction to that series.  Subsequent posts will be on the venue, decor, the wedding gown and clothes,  and the wedding reception and food.  Today let's talk about the budget.

Take a realistic look at what you can afford to spend.
Any budget starts with taking a realistic look at what you are able to spend.  Looking at our budget, we told our youngest daughter that she had $3000 to spend on her wedding.  We purposely gave her an amount lower than we knew we would spend because we knew that things always cost more than you expect them to and that there are always unexpected last minute expenses.  For each of our girls, I kept a file with the receipts for all of their wedding expenses, from the wedding gown to the spools of ribbon used for decor and bouquets.  That way we could keep tab on what we were actually spending and it's also a fun bit of history to look back on.  (I still remember that my wedding dress cost $17 for the fabric and lace that my Mama used to sew my homemade gown.)

Decide who will pay for what.
For each one of our girls we told them that they were responsible for the expenses for the wedding photography.  For each of our daughters' weddings,  the grooms' parents generously picked up the cost for the photographer. Wedding photography is expensive, but a good photographer knows how to capture the magic of that day without being intrusive.  

Tradition says that the groom's parents host the rehearsal dinner and pay for the bride's bouquet and the boutonniere's for the groomsmen.  So, the groom's family is also spending a sizable amount of money on this special day.  

The wedding party each paid for their own clothes for the wedding.  The considerate bride and groom take that in to account when they are choosing what they want their bridal party to wear.  Choosing something that they could/would want to wear again is always appreciated.  

You can see that with the expenses that the grooms parents paid, and the expenses that the bridal party paid, the total expenses for our youngest daughter's wedding were probably closer to $5000-$6000, then to the $3000-$4000 that we, the bride's parents, spent.  We could have trimmed that amount down some if we had been willing to do some of the following:
-reduce the size of the wedding (We already had a "smallish" wedding with approximately 170 in attendance. Our wedding venue size was limited to 150. About 120 people RSVP'd, but surprisingly about 170 people showed up.  We had people standing during the wedding and reception because we didn't have enough chairs!)
-pick a free wedding venue (Know someone with a beautiful back yard?  It never hurts to ask!)
-make the food yourself (I will write more about this in my post about the wedding reception and food. In our case, the groom's parents hosted the rehearsal dinner at a restaurant, but the wedding reception food was homemade by various family and friends.)
-find free flowers (If you get married in the right season, you may be able to gather all the flowers you need from your friends and family's backyards!)

I'm excited to share more of the fun, budget friendly ideas we implemented for our daughter's wedding.  I'll be back here next week with more!

still following,


TidyMomShabby Art Boutique

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Surprises in the midst of life happening...

Surrounded by other blogger/writers, I came home from Jumping Tandem full of inspiration to write.  But words take time to simmer, a slow and savory marriage of verbs and nouns, adverbs and adjectives, blended with thought and emotion and experience and, hopefully, prayerfully, some godly wisdom and insight sprinkled in at the right time, in the right amounts.  Writing is no instant microwavable frozen entree.  

Life happens, they say, and perhaps those two simple words say it all.  Life, and death, does indeed happen, and sometimes they happen all at once.  I didn't have time to let the words simmer for weeks after I got home, and I thought that, perhaps, I'd lost the inspiration and forgotten the recipe.

Last night I fell asleep at nine o'clock and slept until seven o'clock this morning.  I slept for ten hours.  My husband commented that I've run on adrenaline all month long, and my body finally shut down.  Perhaps he's right.  It took three full days after our daughter's wedding, three full days away from church and ministry and responsibility, for my body to relax enough to sleep deeply and soundly.  Here in the juniper scented air,  in the warmth of the sun,  maybe I'll relax, and rest, and remember how to write word pictures that capture the beauty found in the midst of the way life happened in this wild and crazy month of May 2015.

Our youngest daughter got married on Saturday.  She was thirty two.  She's been independent and away from home for well over a decade.  That's why it surprised me when it happened.  Sunday afternoon I felt it.  I felt her detach from us and attach to him.  When I say I felt it, I mean just that, I mean it literally.  As surely as I've felt the Spirit of God work in me and through me, I felt a detaching from us as her covering, her protection, her safe place, and attach to him.  When it happened, I teared up, not out of sorrow, but simply because of the knowing that, in a real sense, our job was done.  The emotion of it surprised me then and surprises me now as I type these words.  I'm both so genuinely and completely happy and at peace that she will be well loved, and, yet, a bit raw and tender in my mother's heart at the same time.

I was surprised to experience another wave of grief over my mother's death as my daughter's wedding day drew near.  She was the first of our girls to not have any grandparents at her wedding.  On  a recent day, on my way to run yet another in a myriad of wedding errands, I drove by Mama's house.  It's always there, on the way to the bank, or the store,  and almost five years after her death, there is something inside of  me that always says, "Hi, Mama", when I drive by.  I know she's not there in that house with the big dogwood tree in the front, that she's not in that coffin in the ground at the cemetery, I know that she is enjoying eternal life with her Lord, I know all this, and yet, on that day running wedding errands, I had a whole conversation with her.  Let me assure you, it was totally one sided.  I'm not one to believe we should be conversing with the dead.  But, I told her what was on my heart, hoping Jesus would somehow get the message through to her.  I told her our girl was getting married.  I told her that the man she is marrying is good and kind and loves Jesus.  I told Mama that she would like him.  I told her about our baby grandson and youngest granddaughter that she never got to see in this life.  I told her I love her and miss her.

When she came to from the coma I was surprised.  She was forty years old.  Too young to be having her second heart mitral valve replacement.  The surgery was more complicated than expected.  She was in a coma and the doctors were pretty sure that there had been brain damage from a stroke that occurred during surgery.  We were all surprised when tests revealed no new brain damage.  Yet, the coma persisted for way too long.  Then, one day she woke up.  It was a miracle.  She began to talk, to eat, to walk.  The day before she was to be released from the hospital, she began to have shortness of breath.  Tests showed that there were leaks around the new mitral valve.  They were irreparable, inoperable.  Doctors told her,  bluntly, not mincing their words, that she was dying.  If there was anyone determined to live, it was her.  If there was anyone who had hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people praying for her, it was her.  Yet, she died.  It was a heart wrenching loss for her parents,  her husband, her daughters, her twin sister and other siblings, her loved ones, and her church family and to us, her pastors.  I believe God still heals today.  I want to see it happen with my own eyes,  in a case like this, when doctors say there is no hope.  I want to see God raise up someone off of their death bed, and for no one but God to get the glory for it.  One week before my daughter's wedding, we had her memorial service.  The service ended with a surprise to all of us.  Her sister had video taped her parting words to her husband, children, parents and siblings.  It was brave and amazing and profound and fearless.  She was, surprisingly, undaunted in the face of death.  

If you came to our daughter's wedding, you wouldn't have known that just a couple hours earlier I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off asking this person to put the linens on the tables, that person to put the tulips in the milk glass vases, this one to slice the pretzel buns for the bbq pork sliders, that one to make the lemonade. You wouldn't have known that the sound system didn't work until just before the ceremony was about to begin. When you saw our youngest grandson coming down the aisle, the cutest little ringbearer ever, perhaps you didn't know he'd just been released the evening before from the hospital, where he'd spent the previous two days, due to a respiratory virus.  I was surprised that, in spite of everything,  it all came together so beautifully, and that it was everything we had hoped it would be.

After the wedding, my siblings came over to our house, and we sat around eating leftover wedding cake and sipping coffee and visiting.  When they left, I was tired, but too wound up from all of the excitement to go to sleep.  So, I tidied up the kitchen and put away wedding decor that we had carted home with us.  When I did go to bed, I was surprised that I slept fitfully, my mind still on my girl.  It's because I knew that it wasn't the wedding that had been her heart's desire, it was the being married.  She had waited, waited in the way that is a rare and beautiful thing in today's culture.  Waited even when other Christians had told her, "God will understand if you don't wait, you're over thirty, you've waited long enough".  I lay there in bed and prayed for her, prayed for them, that God would bless them on this first night as man and wife, that He would make it special and sweet.  I was surprised to get a text from her in the wee hours of the morning telling me that they were up and getting ready to leave for their honeymoon trip and telling me that everything was perfect, with a smiley face emoticon following that short, simple sentence.

Life happens.  Death happens,  It's a wild and crazy ride full of surprises.  Sometimes it helps to try to put it in words.

still following,


Darling Downs Diaries

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Monday, May 25, 2015

A little R and R...

(Kim's elevate texture, hardlight, 30% opacity)

We are in central Oregon staying at our mentor's vacation home for some much needed rest and relaxation
 after a wild and crazy month.
 The month began with a trip to Nebraska for Jumping Tandem: the retreat, which was fabulous.
 The following weekend was our church's leadership retreat, also a wonderful time.
Following that we celebrated three family birthdays and Mother's Day.
Then came the very sad and difficult death of a young mama in our church 
and the preparation involved, as her pastors, for her memorial service.  
The memorial service was exactly one week before our youngest daughter's wedding, which was Saturday.
Mid-week before the wedding our youngest grandson was hospitalized for a respiratory virus.
Thank God, he is doing well and was released from the hospital the evening before the wedding
and was even able to be the ringbearer as planned.
The wedding went beautifully and was every bit the blessed and beautiful and happy event
 that I hoped it would be.
However, even the happiest of life changing events can be exhausting!
Thus our need for some R and R.

(Kim's 2303 texture, difference, 20% opacity)

After we unpacked the car today, I thought that maybe I would take a nice long nap.
Instead I decided to go outside with my camera and take a walk.
I put my earphones in and as I walked I listened to a playlist 
put together by one of the worship leaders from our church.

(desat 40%, Kim's Monday texture, hardlight, 30% opacity)

The music and the beauty ministered to my spirit and soul while the walking was refreshing to my body.
It was just the sort of rest I needed.

 (Kim's carmel texture, lighten, 20% opacity)

 (Kim's rainy day texture, hard light, 50% opacity)

 (Kim's benjamin texture, screen mode, 30% opacity)

(desat 50%)

(Kim's 1412 texture, lighten, 40% opacity)

(desat 15%, Kim's everday, lighten, 50% opacity)

still following,

Kim Klassen {dot com}

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Wedding Week thanks...

What a whirlwind of a week we've had, but it ended happily ever after with the wedding of our youngest daughter going beautifully!  

The week began with a great forecast for an outdoor wedding, but as the week went on the forecast got more and more bleak.  The week began with our youngest grandson, the little ringbearer, having the sniffles, but as the week went on he was hospitalized with a respiratory virus.  The night before the wedding,  our grandson was discharged from the hospital.  The morning of the wedding it rained,  and though the skies were gray, the afternoon was dry with temperatures that were cool, but not cold.Even a glitch in the sound system was resolved in time for the ceremony.  I don't think anyone coming to the wedding had a clue that we had faced so many challenges, because the wedding and reception went so wonderfully well.  I'm so thankful!  Above all, I'm thankful for the evidence of God's presence during the ceremony, for the reassurance that my daughter married the man God has for her, and for the happy texts from her today as they left for their honeymoon.

Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks
piling up gratitude day by day
in my little green journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

-God's provision
-our son-in-law making the wooden arrow for the entrance to the wedding venue
-all of the help we've been getting
-praying simple prayers

-our middle daughter's birthday
-finding plastic pie carriers for all of the homemade pies for the wedding at the Dollar Tree
-peonies covered in raindrops
-I.V. fluids, breathing medication and oxygen-help for our grandson who has a respiratory virus
-groceries needed for the wedding reception costing less than expected
-God's got us in His hands

-my husband going up to the hospital and telling me to keep doing what I need to do for the wedding
-so many people praying for our grandson
-his mama reassuring us that the things she needs to get done for the wedding are done
-our youngest daughter, the bride to be, staying calm in the midst of all of this
-my girl buying her and I a massage
-going to the hospital to see my grandson
-getting the last of the wedding errands done
-mani-pedis with the bride
-our grandson was released from the hospital! He gets to be in the wedding!
-a wonderful rehearsal dinner provided by the groom's parents

-the weather clearing up enough to have the wedding outside as planned
-our daughter hiring a bagpiper to surprise her Scottish daddy
-all of those who helped to set up and decorate, prepare and serve food, and clean up afterwards
-my brothers and sisters coming from out of town to be here
-all of our daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren having a part in the wedding

-the sound system working in time for the ceremony
-a full house, more people than chairs!
-God's evident presence in the ceremony
-this happy, happy day

-a great memorial weekend Sunday
-an all church dinner after the morning service
-happy texts from our girl before they left for their honeymoon

gratefully yours,