Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Love

I just watched this male cardinal pluck a sunflower seed from a feeder and shell it. He then fluttered to another nearby feeder, where his mate was perched, and handed her the shelled seed. I took this shot of him a couple days ago, but I really wish I'd had my camera in hand today.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Decluttering Life (A Book Review of Sorts)

I've recently purchased a book that is slowly changing my life.

It stared with the truckload of things I inherited from my grandmother a few years ago and which have taken over our home. Platinum ringed china. Silverplate goblets. Leaded crystal. A random, mismatched china teapot. Silverplate serving dishes and spoons. A partial set of silver flatware. Brass ornamental pieces. Some depression glass (I'm keeping that). And furniture. Heaven help me, the furniture.

Add all that to our already cluttered home, and we have a suffocating mess. I've been avoiding it for a year or so, not wanting to take the time out of our already busy schedules to go through all this...stuff. But clutter can literally sap you of your energy. I literally felt trapped by this inherited albatross.

Then I happened across The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, by Francine Jay. Don't be misled or turned off by the title. You won't be channeling Thoreau, building a cabin in Emerson's woods to escape society—though would that be so bad? It's simply a guide to altering your attitude about things, and, through that, experiencing freedom from clutter.

I added the book to my order. I got it a few days later and couldn't put it down. Its clean white covers contained an epiphany that, in turn, provided a great paradigm shift. To put it simply, I no longer feel an obligation to keep Granny's stuff or my own useless accumulations. These are just things. Things that are in the way.

I first tackled my kitchen, then took some pictures of Granny's china—which take up much less space on my hard drive than 10 seven-piece place settings complete with serving dishes, did in my dining room—and boxed them up for the donation pile. Maybe someone else will find joy in them.

I'm champing at the bit to go through the rest of this house. I can't get the stuff out fast enough. I'm determined that our home will become an oasis of space to live, where a body can stretch out and play, with plenty of room to do the things we truly enjoy. We should not have to work, walk, and live around useless stuff.

I have a long way to go, but I'm enjoying the sweet victory of empty space. I never thought I'd be a minimalist, but I do believe, after a little application, I could live comfortably on the simple side of life.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Your Experience or His Word?

After years of observation, I have come to the conclusion that Christians approach God one of two ways. We either interpret Scripture in a way that makes it line up with our own personal experiences, or we let Scripture speak for itself and question why our experiences don't line up with Scripture.

I see this often regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but it crops up in less obvious and much more insidious ways as well.

For example, most of us define God according to our relationships and experiences with our earthly fathers, rather than what the Bible says. If you had a distant or absent father, you'll be more inclined to see God as distant. If your dad was a strict disciplinarian, chances are your view of God is much the same.

If we've experienced a major loss or defeat in our lives, those statements in Scripture that offer victory and blessing can be hard to swallow. And we may find ourselves doubting those passages of Scripture altogether.

These are just two examples of the plethora I could give you, and I'm quite sure you could come up with many more of your own. The question is, which is correct: our personal experiences, or the Word of God?

The ultimate challenge for believers, it seems, is to set aside our preconceived notions built on past experiences and old wounds--to surrender them, if you will--and take God at His word. To let God's Word redefine our lives, and not the other way around.

I'll be the first to confess that I struggle with this. As we come to the time of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection, to the celebration of the moment when He defeated death and hell and set the captives free, I believe it's good to examine our hearts and find these subtle areas we have not surrendered or experienced freedom.

I'm praying today as David did, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way."

I don't know about you, but I want my life to line up with His Word and cease trying to force the Word to line up with my life.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Snow White Cake

Here's a Snow White cake I made for my mom's birthday.

The cake was lemon with lemon buttercream. The doll's clothing and headband are all fondant.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Red and White Cake

This cake was a gift for our homeschool co-op director at her retirement.

The roses are sugarpaste. The cake is french vanilla with buttercream icing, covered in fondant. The lettering and red damask on the white layers are royal icing. The red layer in the middle is quilted and adorned with sugar pearls.