Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Enjoyment

Who in their right mind has a blog called Thankful Kim and doesn't post on Thanksgiving day? That would be me. I was a little busy. Okay, actually there really was very little busyness on Thanksgiving day. I cleaned (mother-in-law was coming to dinner) and I cooked, but nothing too fancy.

We went with simple fare this year. The food was easy and plentiful. That's all my family really wanted. And for this I was thankful. The rolls are courtesy of my daughter, who is quite the baker. This was the first time I made cranberry sauce. I can guarantee it won't be the last. Everyone loved it.

My mother-in-law had been released from a 10-day hospital stay earlier in the week and was doing well. Accompanying her was my father-in-law who finds little in life to complain about. I like to have him over when I've been cooking. He'll always say the food is tasty. To him all food is good.

My husband is working--sometimes 3 jobs in a given week. This makes for an interesting schedule, but we are managing to survive, even thrive, and learning to appreciate together time more than ever.

My kids are healthy and thoughtful. Their lives are set out before them like a buffet. It's interesting to see the choices they are making and sometimes tough to keep the lips zipped when those choices don't make sense to me. But I'm learning to let go and trust that they learned a few things growing up in our household. They are inquisitive, carry on great conversations and they make me laugh. They enjoy life and I enjoy them.

Last Thursday was a day to bask in the good things that are part of my life. I had been looking forward to Thanksgiving weekend for months. It meant 4 days off work and a chance to relax. No Black Friday shopping for me, with the exception of a quick run to the fabric store. It was home time. Time to get down the Christmas boxes and pull out the old cherished decorations, break out the M&M's and deck the house for the holidays. And that's what I did.

Sometimes the anticipation of a holiday is more fun than the actual holiday. Not this time. I anticipated, I enjoyed and I was thankful. In fact, I still am.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Baking Buys Time

It's the end of the month and there is definitely more month than money. With about $10 to last until 10/31, this week is going to be a challenge. Thankfully, the house has some food it in already.

Oak Glen is an apple village a couple of hours away. Usually my family makes the trek and picks up some apples and cider, but not this year. However, my best friend Judy went with her family and brought home a couple of bags of apples. Yay! Three bananas rest in a bowl on the counter gaining brown speckles by the hour. A large can of pumpkin sits in the pantry along with the flour and sugar.

Friday night, may daughter and I made an apple pie with some of the Winesap apples from Oak Glen. The food processor helped the crust come together in no time. A crumb topping made it quick and delicious.

Sunday was a free day with no pressing commitments. The oven called. I started slowly with some pumpkin muffins. Cake mix made the the muffins quick and easy. Next it was banana chocolate chip bread. This is a family favorite. Dinner called for hamburger buns, but I didn't have any. I went to and found a recipe that was purfect and quickly washed the mixer bowl again so I could get the buns finished before dinner. It was a good thing I took a quick nap before all that baking.

Normally the kids eat a fair amount of granola bars. Not this week. There aren't any in the house, but with all the baked goods around I don't think they'll be missing those granola bars at all. An added plus is stretching these supplies and not having to spend that last $10 ... yet.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Simple Works For Me

I have come to the conclusion that I am a simple person. I don't understand conceptial thinking. Give me the concrete.

Recently I've been exposed to some teaching and writing that is very philosophical. Philisophical concepts require one to concentrate ... sometimes for a long period of time. With my short attention span this is a challenge.

But even when I focus on these teachings and writings I find it difficult to share the perspective of the writer or teacher. I want to take a side. Do I agree or disagree? It's difficult to take a side when you don't even understand what is being said.

For the most part my ignorance doesn't bother me. As they say, "ignorance is bliss" But there are those ocassional times when I realize that I'm lacking and I wish I were a more complex person.

I console myself with the fact that I'm more educated than most of those in my family tree. And I do love to learn. I find the challenge of solving certain problems stimulating, when others around me surrender to frustration. I appreciate the fact that I live in a time and place where I have the freedom to choose what areas of interest I will give my attention to ... whether fascinating and and multifaceted or staightforward and unfussy.

We can't all be Einsteins and Mozarts. We aren't all meant to achieve wonderful accomplishments or make fascinating discoveries. It takes the "normal" people of this world to make the geniuses stand out. So, I'll be satisfied to be normal, even simple, and allow others more complex than myself, to dabble in the esoteric.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thankful for the Rain

The first sign was the sound. It's not a sound that we hear a lot of in So Cal. But to those who live her and love the rain, it is a sweet sound. Just a light dripping sound. Not too heavy, not too light, but slow and steady.

Next was the slight dampness when peering outside early this dark morning. It's not a heavy rain. That's okay.

Then was the smell. It's tough to describe that smell. Wet concrete, wet grass...wet wetness. A terrific smell.

The rain continues to fall lightly this morning. And I am glad.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Strategizing a Menu Plan

After last weeks grocery shopping trip(s), I decided it was time to take a different approach. I sat down with my computer and my cookbooks and determined to create 8 weeks of dinner menu plans using recipes that are already tried and true with my family. My goal was to come up with 56 dinner ideas without repeating any single menu. I did it.

Now for the reality. My family loves spaghetti. They really aren't excited about having to wait 2 months between spaghetti dinners. So here's the plan--if I'm faced with a dinner on my menu that requires more time than I have or just doesn't sound appetizing, I'll just break out the Prego and Pasta. Voila! Problems solved. Spaghetti isn't the only food that falls into this category of things the family enjoys and actually want to eat often. Those will be the fall backs in the plan.

Now part of the problem with this plan is that I'm not working the sales. All I have to say is ... oh well. I've decided not to lament over this. I've also decided that I will shop the sales for other weeks. For example - London Broil is on sale. London Broil isn't in my menu plan for this week. Guess what? I'm still going to buy London Broil this weeek. Why wait? In fact, I'll get two while their on sale and then I won't need to buy them the week that I need them because I'll have them in the freezer. Yeah, Yeah--I know this isn't rocket science. But this is progress for me.

Now the next challenge is keeping my freezer organized and keeping track of what is in there so I don't overbuy. I don't have a separate freezer, it's just the left side of the fridge. That's not much space. There isn't a lot of room for extras. I think I have a plan for this. I'll report back in a bit about whether my plan worked.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Learning from Mistakes in Couponing

Once again I ventured into the realm of couponing. My plan was to go to 4 different stores so I could benefit from the maximum savings. And I did--sort of.

I definitely stretch the bucks further than if I'd just shopped at one store. After factoring in the time (two and a half hours) and the problems (having to return to one store to get the Catalina coupon that didn't materialize at checkout), I can honestly say that I'm not sure this approach works well for me.

There are many reasons that I don't consider my trips a success. First, there is the time involved. Shopping at places that I don't frequent often means I spend more time looking for stuff and getting familiar with the store than actually putting the specific items in my cart.

The price stickers on the shelf at one store were so confusing that I began to doubt if I was getting the price I had planned to get. The sticker showed the old price, the new price, the difference between the those two and the sale price. That's a lot of numbers.

The sales fliers are great at pointing out the sales prices, but not so good at pointing out what is required to get those prices. In order to get the price in the very large type, you have to read the fine print and purchase the 10 or 20 necessary items noted in the fine print. Figuring all this out while actually shopping just adds to the time involved. I never did make it to the fourth store.

As a result of this experience, I have resolved to develop a strategy for future shopping trips that will help me get the shopping done in less time and still save large amounts of money. Since I am currently working full time and have a family at home, I have minimal time for coupon clipping, shopping, coupon blog reading, menu planning and grocery list making. Something has to give.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Grocery Planning

After perusing the local grocery store ads, I've concluded that the bulk of our grocery shopping will take place at Ralphs this week. With $80 to spend for a week's allotment of groceries, this will be a challenging trip.

My first focus is finding the best values on meat. I already have frozen chicken tenders and sirloin patties, so I'm looking to round things out with some pork. Ralphs has pork roast on sale for $1.99 per pound and smoked sausage for $2.00 each. The next focus is on produce. The following deals on produce will round out the essentials:
  • Green grapes - $.49
  • personal watermelon - $1.47 each
  • peeled carrots - $.79
  • peaches/nectarines - $.79
  • Mushrooms - $1.79
  • Russet Potatoes - 2 lbs/$1.00
  • Broccoli - $.99
I'll add in some dairy, bread products and paper goods, plus crackers, flour, lunch meat and jello paired with coupons that will double and I think I may have a few bucks leftover to bargain hunt for some extras like chips, granola bars and other miscellaneous goodies.

Eighty bucks should be plenty.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Not Forgotten

I haven't forgotten about my blog. I've just been a little too busy to write. Well, actually I've been pretty darn distracted with the life circumstances I find myself in right now. My husband's job loss has caused a lot of changes in our household. There have been shifts in responsibilities and roles. Laundry is no longer a concern of mine - yay! But menus, grocery shopping, meal prep and clean up still mine to manage. House cleaning is up for grabs, which means it usually doesn't happen - ugh! Taxi Dad has replaced Taxi Mom. Plus, there is the slow drain of energy that comes from pondering all the what-ifs of the unemployed life.

Add to that the increase of hours in my work schedule and I'm finding myself struggling to stay awake much past 8:00 some evenings. Our company website will soon launch and hopefully the stress associated with that project will diminish significantly. At least I can hope.

In the last week there was an ending of a long-standing commitment that will allow me to attend services regularly at my church, which I haven't done in many years. I'm so looking forward to that and hoping that the release from that commitment will allow me more time to blog.

It is my desire to establish more of a routine with Thankful Kim. As things settle down this fall I would like to think that I will regain focus. For now, my primary objective is making it through the next week with groceries in the house and a happy spirit. I'm hopeful that the coming week will bring more blessings than frustrations. I'm prayerful that an upcoming job interview for my husband will bring employment. I'm a feeling a tiny bit melancholy because my baby girl is going to start her senior year at high school. I'm encouraged because my son's first weeks at college have been full of good experiences. Life is so full. There is so much for which to be thankful. It's funny how easy it is to forget that.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Still Thankful One Year Later

It's been a while since I've blogged. Mostly I've been pretty busy. My husband had a huge change in his job situation which recently culminated in his being laid off. I've added additional hours to my work week. Add to that some extreme couponing and church commitments and it makes for a pretty busy life. Finally, it seems that things are calming down a bit.

I'm reluctant to make commitments or promises about my blog, but I'm not ready to give it up completely. I started to blog in hopes of having a ministry or career that would involve speaking to moms. I wanted to encourage other women to find the bright side of life. Since I have very few readers, I think it's safe to say that this may not be the course I'm destined to take.

One of the challenges I've run into is that I struggle to find the bright side of life. I knew this about myself and thought perhaps this would add a sense of realness to the blog. I think it has, but it has also proven to be a stumbling block to consistency in blogging because sometimes I just don't feel very thankful.

Another challenge is that I'm coming to the conclusion that I may not be the public speaking type. Since there haven't been any opportunities to hone that skill it's difficult to tell at this time. I'm still open to the idea, but don't have the energy or inclination to pursue public speaking like I thought I might a year ago.

As I move forward with the blog I'm not sure exactly where I plan to go. I still hope to focus on being thankful, but there may be various other themes, like family, couponing, dealing with unemployment and assorted other topics.

Right now I'm thankful for fans because it's picken' hot. I'm thankful for our savings account which is allowing us the flexibility we need to deal with this uncertain time. I'm thankful for my computer because it allows me to stay connected to friends and family. I'm thankful for those people in our lives who have reached out to us and shown us love by offering of themselves in ways that were genuine and caring.

Sometimes saying I'm thankful seems so trite and yet it really does convey the sense that I have of wanting to express my feelings of gratitude to a God who loves me and takes wonderful care of me every day.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Seventeen Years Ago Today...

I was in the hospital birthing my second child. They say that you forget the pain. And they're right. I just remember being so happy to have a daughter. And I still am.

Now that she is almost a grown up we have great conversations, fun times shopping and lots of laughs. I can't image not having her in my life. She is smart, pretty and full of character. I wonder what her future holds. She has so many opportunities open to her. I want her to be willing to take risks and not doubt herself. She needs to be open all sorts of options, even if they are outside of her comfort zone.

It's amazing to me that this pretty cool human being came from my gene pool and was
influenced by my ideals, values and lifestyle. Of course, I know that there have been other influences - among them are godly people from our church, caring teachers and loving family members. I realize too that God has chosen to bless our lives with a fairly easy-going temperament in a mostly rule-following personality. This does make our job quite a bit easier. Thank you God!

So for today...I'm thankful for my seventeen year old daughter.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Simple Pleasures

A nice cup of hot tea, Harney and Son's Paris to be exact. In my favorite teacup, the one my son gave me for Christmas last year. A couple of Mother's macaroons. This is bliss. Especially after sweating through hand washing the dinner dishes. And preparing Enchilada Casserole and Spanish Rice for dinner. I've been in the kitchen for about 3 hours. Before that I had make a quick run to the store for a couple of ingredients.

I'm pooped, but I'm not complaining. Actually I'm pretty darn content at the moment. And the funny thing is that there really isn't any special reason for this contentment. It's just a little pause in life's busyness. There's just enough time for a quick read of an article in a quilting magazine. It's a quiet moment - well relatively quiet given the ballgame being watched by my hubby in the other room - with a cool breeze gently blowing the curtains. I can see the green summer leaves on the trees swaying gently when I peek out the window.

Maybe it's the joy that comes from serving my family a good, home cooked meal. Or maybe it's the clean counter tops that I wiped at least a dozen times today, but have managed to stay uncluttered for 15 minutes this time. Or maybe it's the peace that comes when I remember that I am God's child and he will take care of me. Sweet!

Saturday, May 9, 2009


My local JoAnn's was recently remodeled and the ownership decided to have a 3 day special celebration. Since that store is only about 3 blocks from my house I had planned to attend. I had ready on a flier that they were giving $5 gift cards and free cloth shopping bags to the first 50 customers for those 3 days.

I was sure that I'd read the opening time as 10:00 a.m. I figured I'd swing by and see if there was long line and then determine if it was worth it try to be in that group. Sitting in a line for an indefinite amount of time on a Saturday morning didn't sound like a fun thing to do.

At 9:07, when I pulled out the flier to see if there was a coupon attached, I noticed that the opening time for the day was 9:00. Dang! I was sure I'd missed my chance. And I still hadn't fixed my hair or put on make-up. Oh well, I decided it was worth a try so I rushed to the car and bipped up the road.

As I walked in the door the opened was crowded with people filling in the drawing entry form. The employee at the door smiled at me. I asked, rather skeptically (based on the full parking lot) if I was one of the first 50. Sure enough - I was! She handed me my gift card and my bag. Woohoo!

Now I know it isn't much. But these days, with the husband working 0 hours (and getting paid commensurately) every little bit helps. So I'm glad I was able to eschew vanity for a few minutes and take a risk. It paid off and that's a great way to start a Saturday.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Lesson Learned

I'm learning how to do the coupon thing in a whole new way. I've been clipping and organizing coupons like a crazy woman. There's a group in the blogosphere who seems to have things down pat. When they can go to CVS, Walgreens and Rite-Aid, they make a killing. Yes, that's right - they make money. It doesn't seem too difficult when you read their scenarios. I gotta hand it to these gals (yes, all gals). They know their stuff. Or do they.

Last night I went to CVS with my plan in hand. I knew what I was getting. I'd seem some blog posts about the wonderful deals to be had there, so my itinerary included an involved trip to the local CVS as well as a quick stop at Target. I had my spreadsheet and I was on a mission. I got my items, pulled my coupons and got in line. It wasn't a long line...until I got in it. They stacked up behind me like dominoes. The cashier was a patient older man. When everything was said and done I'd paid seventeen dollars and change for over $60 worth of merchandise. A pretty sweet deal. I left with a sense of satisfaction.

It was after the Target run that I realized that I hadn't received the Extra Care Bucks I was owed at CVS. I checked and double checked my receipt. Nope. They weren't there. Then I called to find out if there might be a legitimate reason they had been excluded. Perhaps there was some rule in this wonderful coupon game I'd not yet learned. The gal on the other end of the phone informed me that I could bring my receipt and the items I should have received the Bucks for and they could force the register to produce them for me. Off I went, items in hand a little after nine o'clock.

Upon arriving to the nearly empty store (note to self 9:30 in the evening is good time to shop) I explained my situation to 2 cashiers and was finally deemed worthy of the night manager's attention. I liked her right away. She was warm and friendly and seemed to genuinely want to help me and make sure I got what I deserved. She looked at the receipt and matched the purchased to images in the weekly sales flier. Not a single item was supposed to produce the sought-after Extra Care Bucks (worth about $14 dollars). She was so gracious as she informed me that CVS didn't owe me anything and I was so confused. What on earth had happened?

I left the store a little sheepishly, but vowing to figure out what the heck had happened. Then it dawned on my that when I had prepared my spreadsheet I had relied solely on the information in a blog post. I hadn't even opened the ad to validate the information I would be acting on. I had just wasted time and money on the words of a complete stranger who probably had different information than me.

One of the lessons I take away from is something I've heard in from Horatio Caine on CSI Miami a time or two - trust, but verify. Uh-huh...The ad is the ultimate authority in couponing. Blogs can educate and inspire well enough, but I must do the work to make the deals my own. I suppose the money wasn't really wasted. I did buy things I'll use and I did get a $10 off a $50 purchase coupon. I also realized that gathering $50 dollars worth of stuff isn't really too much of a challenge. Neither is bringing that total down to a reasonable number with coupons.

The learning curve is pretty steep in the drug store coupon genre, but I'll get the hang of it...eventually.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Making the Best of It

It's been an stressful week. Life in my world is a little upside down right now. While so much is still the same - my job, great kids, wonderful husband, same address, same cars, same clothes (you get the idea)... so much has changed.

The recession has hit our house in a big way. My husband, the main bread-winner in the house, has been asked to take a leave of absence from work. This is good and bad. Good because we still have benefits. Bad because we don't have his income. This is when an emergency fund comes in handy. And thankfully, we have one. I'm not sure how long we'll have to tap into it, but I'm fairly certain that we can get by fairly well for a while with the right lifestyle changes.

It's going to be an interesting journey. I've already been deluged with a wide range of emotions - anger, fear, encouragement, hope, thankfulness, uncertainty, bewilderment and sadness, just to name a few. But I keep reminding myself that God is in control and he wants me to turn to him. He desires to show me his love, kindness, goodness and caring. He is my heavenly Father and he will take care of me.

It's not going to be easy, but neither is it overwhelming. I have so much to be thankful for and I need to constantly keep reminding myself of that. Yes - sometimes it's difficult to keep the focus positive, especially when I'm in a state of mild panic. But my thoughts are within my control and they may need to be whipped into shape occasionally. That's doable. Not easy nor fun, but doable...and necessary. Here's to making the best of it. Life that is.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Change of Focus

Okay, so I dropped the ball with 28 days of being thankful. It's not that I haven't been thinking about it. That project just sort of dropped down on my list when it got more difficult. I plan to revisit the idea in the near future. I'm going to read the book in it's entirety first and then come back to the implementation phase later.

For now my focus has shifted to couponing - in a big way. I've been reading blogs, clipping coupons, filing coupons, watching YouTube videos on how to make a coupon notebook, filling out rebate forms, matching coupons with sales and shopping for the best deals out there. Whew! It makes my tired just writing all that down. Imagine how exhausted I am when I actually do all that. It's all for a good cause - to stretch the grocery dollars a little further. You see, since my husband took a pay cut and the industry he's in is struggling to get work it seems wise to brush up on the skills needed to pinch those pennies. So I'm back at it.

Couponing is no longer optional. But I don't want to spend more time doing it than I need to, so I'm on a quest for the most time efficient way to get the job done. More to come in the days ahead.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thankful - Day 18

I'm thankful for a wide variety of fabrics that allow me to make unique quilts. There are many great quilters whose blogs, classes, friendship and sharing I have learning from. For this I'm grateful. I have wonderful tools, such as a cool sewing machine, a spiffy bright light, cutters, rulers, fancy pins, special feet that keep me accurate and tons of books, magazines and websites to help inspire me with their creative pictures of wonderful quilts.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thankful - Day 16 (the missing day)

I'm thankful for...
  1. Misty - the cat
  2. the Carnival is gone (it was in the field behind our house - very noisy, stinky and just plain icky)
  3. my new bluetooth dongle (if you don't know, don't ask)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thankful - Days 14 & 15 (or something like that)

I'm thankful for...
  1. the realization that all blessings come from God
  2. the hope of eternal life because of the debt paid on my behalf by Jesus when He died on the cross.
  3. the Holy Spirit who prompts, guides, helps and comforts me.
  4. that my husband is alive and well in this week when I've learned about the husbands of others I know who have died or been diagnosed with cancer.
  5. my old bible...the one I got on my 16th birthday.
  6. memories of loved ones that I seldom or never see any longer.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Thankful - Day 13

I'm thankful for...
  1. Dish TV - a great distraction while folding laundry
  2. Saturdays - time to catch up
  3. Strawberry shortcake - not the doll, but the tasty stuff with the cute little round sweet spongy cakes and cool whip.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thankful - Day 11

I'm thankful...
  1. Corn beef and cabbage a few days early -yum!
  2. quilt guild
  3. my co-worker who shared her chocolate - another yum!
It's starting to look like it's all about the tummy and the taste buds. I need to focus on things other than food.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Thankful - Days 9 & 10

It's probably not ideal, but I'm going two day's of thankfulness on one post :O).

I'm thankful for...
  1. my health. Though I'm a little heavier than I'd like to be I am basically healthy.
  2. my dishwasher. Nuf said.
  3. precious things that belonged to my mom, who's no longer with us.
  4. the library. They great stuff including books, cd's, videos, magazines, helpful people, etc.
  5. considerate neighbors who leave the spot in front of the house open for our vehicle.
  6. encouraging words from those around me most.
My time is really being sapped these days by my efforts to learn/streamline coupon use in order to reap the most benefits from the least time. The learning curve is steep, but there are many sites that I go to regularly to help me out. My goal is to actually keep within our grocery budget this month - what a concept! I think I just might do it.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Thankful - Day 8

I'm thankful for...
  1. my husband still has a job
  2. CVS Extra Bucks - I'm just starting to learn how to take advantage of this.
  3. Dancing with the Stars - good, clean fun (usually).
Number 1 is a big yeah.

Thankful - Day 8 ( a day late)

I'm thankful for...
  1. my home church, where I can study God's word and fellowship with like-minded people.
  2. a clean garage and other handy man jobs completed around the house.
  3. my crock pot that works so diligently to allow me to get other things in my life.
Yesterday was a non-stop, exhausting kind of day or maybe I'm just getting older. By the time 7:30 rolled around I was wiped out. But then it was time change day. Yes, that's it. I'll blame it on the time change and hope that it was a fluke. I suppose I just have a full life and need to chalk it up to that as well.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Thankful - Day 7

Today I'm thankful for...
  1. a little time to sew and figure out how I'm going to machine quilt my current project.
  2. tea time with my daughter (she made the scones).
  3. that my husband's honey-do list for today is done!
Today was a day of random tasks and time with the family. It's those little moments that go unappreciated if you aren't focusing on them.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Thankful - Day 6

I'm thankful...
  1. a walk in the park with my husband.
  2. Chili's dinner thanks to a Verizon rebate card
  3. that the laundry and ironing is all caught up for now.
It was a semi productive day. It seems that there is always too much to do, but in the big scheme of things life is good and I have few complaints.

Thankful - Day 5 (posted a day late)

I'm thankful for...
  1. peanut butter fudge made by my daugher
  2. the ability to pay bills when they come due
  3. Girl Scout cookies looks like food is heavy on my mind. Yummy, sweet food.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Thankful - Day 4

Today I am thankful for...
  1. coupon websites (there are so many)
  2. rain
  3. my new rotating self-healing rotary mat, purchased with a 40% off coupon at Michaels.
It has rained off and on all day. We really need the rain. It would be great if we got more.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Thankful - Day 3

I'm Thankful for...

  1. the treadmill that welcomes me each morning.
  2. my best friend, whom I've known for many years.
  3. the humongous variety of books that I have access to free of cost. I could read for the rest of my life without having to purchase another book.
Life is good and it's a good idea to focus on what you got rather than what is not.

Thankful - Day 2

I'm thankful for...
  1. my laptop - a lifeline, sort of.
  2. my home - not too big, not too small. Just right.
  3. my job - I got one. It's nice. There are good people. The pay is good. What more could I ask for?!
Now it's time to hit the hay! Yeah sleep.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I'm thankful for...
  1. My husband...for more reasons than I can say.
  2. My kids who keep me humble and learning. They are smart, healthy, fun and a blessing in so many ways. I can't imagine my life without them.
  3. Freesias from my yard - red and fragrant on my kitchen counter.
And so begins my exercise of being thankful for 28 days. I'm currently digesting a booked called The Joy of Appreciative Living.

One of the exercises is to create a Daily Appreciation List. What better place to do that than a blog about being thankful. I need to remember that there are no right answers and no correct order. I'm not being graded.

This is my list - unique to me. I'm not out to impress anyone. I'm just doing what the book tells me to do. Part of the fun/challenge of this exercise will be the idea of not having duplicates. It ought to be a good experience.

We have habitual ways of seeing the world, and we are culturally conditioned to pay attention to what's wrong and broken. It takes regular practice to shift this perspective and begin noticing what's right, and doing this simple exercise is an incredibly powerful way to make that happen.
The Joy of Appreciative Living by Jacqueline Kelm

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Learning from Life

I like to read. It's not always easy to find the time. Since my computer is a central part of my life, I find that most of my reading these days is done on the internet - blogs, websites, email. While interesting and thought provoking this type of reading isn't the most thought provoking. For that I turn to books. My books of choice are the autobiographical.

On my bedside table are 3 books that have interested me since I first heard of them. They are The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard and How Starbucks Saved My Life by Michael Gates Gill. These are all books by men who have chosen to focus on what can be learned from life. The choices we make directly affect how we live, whether our dreams are fulfilled and what kind of people we become.
Recently I finished reading The Last Lecture. In case you haven't heard it is the story of a man who finds out that he is terminally ill with cancer. He has time to prepare his family and himself for his impending death. And he is invited to give a final lecture at one of the places where he was a college professor. It was the perfect opportunity for him to think of his legacy. The lesson I took away from this book is that enjoying life involves making conscious choices. For Randy, childhood dreams were central to his life. In that respect I can't relate. My most prominent childhood dream was to become a barmaid. Thankfully, things have changed since then.

Life can happen to you or you can be a participant and be cognitively aware of the good things going on around you. Sure there is sin and ugliness and we need to know about those things, but they don't need to consume us. Determining to recognize and focus on the blessings of life is worth the energy. God has brought many things into our life to show his love for us. Not acknowledging them is akin to turning your back to God. Not good.

As I read these books and share in their stories I can't help but internalize their conclusions and ask myself some tough questions. What can I do to help myself be a better person? What choices do I need to evaluate and rethink? Are there some changes that I need to make? What skills do I want to learn? What are my dreams? What motivates me? Where do my standards and ethics come from? How do I treat people? What attitudes need to be diminished/expanded? And always...what am I thankful for?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Simple Things

I supposed I'm not quite as prolific a blogger as I should/could be. It's been a few weeks and I have no good reason for not posting. Life has not been any busier than normal.

On this rainy morning in So Cal I decided to listen to make some cranberry muffins, do some ironing and listen to a sermon online.

Here are the muffins -

The sermon was from my church, First Baptist Lakewood. It was the sermon that was preached last week by a guest speaker.

The focus was on Entitlement. That's a timely topic in these tough economic times. But it was even more timely for me since I've been feeling pretty entitled lately. I've had no qualms about my daily trips for convenience food to places like Starbucks, It's a Grind, Dairy Barn, get the idea. Just the term convenience store reeks of entitlement.It's so easy to fall into the habit of indulging "just this once." (I think this could be a contributing factor to my upward weight creep - but I digress.)

Life seems hectic and crazy and the words, "I deserve," inch their way slowing into my thinking until I can justify just about anything I want. Not good. This sermon was a reminder that all I have is a gift and the most precious gift that has been given to me is salvation. I don't deserve it. I didn't earn it. I was simple chosen to receive it. As much as I'd like to understand all the theology in that statement, it just seems to allude me. But, by faith, I believe it. And I'm thankful for it.

I'm also thankful for this rainy morning when I can make muffins, do some ironing and enjoy the quiet of my home.

What r u thankful 4?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Time Flies

As I embrace the new year I am excited with all the potential it holds. There are so many quilts to be made, so many laughs to share, and so many opportunities for change. What will make this year different? Hopefully a priority shift. Yes, a clean house is nice, but so is a soul that's been nurtured. Which one of those things will get most of my time? We'll see. Change doesn't come easily. But with awareness of the need comes the beginning of change.

As I look back on 2008 I am thankful for the times I shared with friends. It became important to me to take control of my relationship destiny. Instead of waiting for time to open up to spend with friends I scheduled it. It wasn't much, but it was enough to stay connected. I'm hopeful that 2009 will have more friend time.

I'm also thankful for the changes that have taken place at my church. It seems that we have turned a corner and are headed down a path that is more in line with the way I'm bent theologically. I've been highly involved in a particular ministry and have learned a lot from that involvement. As I face the new year, I'm hopeful that I will be able to spend a little less time in that endeavor and a little more time in the worship service. Again, it's up to me to make sure that happens. The situation won't change without prayer, effort and ingenuity.

I have grown to appreciate my kids in new ways. They are changing into adults and are coming to their own conclusions about a variety of things. As we have conversations I find that I'm listening more and talking less. I'm getting to know them more intimately and allowing them the freedom to make their own choices. Sometimes (heck - most of the time!) it's difficult to not intervene, but mistakes and missteps are great teachers. And besides that, I'm really not an authority on e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. And they are quick to remind me of that.

I have come to the conclusion that I need to not hold so tightly to some things. I need to not care so much. My caring is sometimes out of proportion to that of others involved or that task at hand. I find that I often get more deeply involved than necessary in hopes of making a difference, but perhaps that's not my role in every endeavor. Perhaps it's not my place to make a difference, but to get the job done and check out. What a concept! The idea of putting more energy into my passions and less into the tasks of life is really new to me. This will be where I plan to make changes - not hope, but plan.

As I watch 2008 growing small in the distance I greet 2009 with the knowledge that time flies and I want to make the best of that time.

What r u thankful 4?