Picture Makeover

A few weeks ago I had a chance to visit a few thrift stores.  I found a few new toys for my grandchildren, a cd, a journal and I found the picture I’ve been looking for to place on a wall above my desk at work.  There was a connection when I saw the picture.  It reminds me of one of Jeff’s and my favorite moments when we visit Oceanside.  We check the time for sunset, then head down to the beach and sit on a wall about 15 minutes beforehand watching the sun disappear slowly into the ocean.

I’m going to tell you the story of the picture and its makeover.  Please excuse my reflection in the pictures.

I purchased at a Goodwill.  Price $3.99.  It had a wood-colored frame that was peeling in a few places.  I came home and took all the pieces apart, carefully handling the glass.  I wet a soft towel and wiped down the frame and glass.  

I used Goo Gone to remove the sticker and glue residue and a glass cleaner on both sides .

I went through my paint supplies and held them up to the print deciding on a combination of two blues I had.  I laid down a shower curtain from the Dollar Store to protect my rug.  I mixed up the paint and begun to apply the blue letting it dry between coats which doesn’t take too long in Arizona.  I usually put a layer of saran wrap on the plate for easy cleanup but forgot this time.

I wanted the picture to be a constant reminder of one of my favorite verses “Be Still and Know that I am God.”  Mark 4:39, Psalm 46:10. I pulled my leftover stickers and fortunately had the letters to spell out “Be Still”  I had in mind to use one of the pieces of Oregon driftwood my friend and coworker Cindy had brought me back for her vacation last year.  

I had a little Mod Podge and placed a few layer over the self adhesive stickers.

I then took the painted frame and driftwood piece outside and gave it a good coating of sealer.

After the sealer had dried, I put the glass, print and cover back together.  Then glued the driftwood piece where I wanted it.

Here is the finished project which is now on my office wall.

 

 

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Gratitude

gratitude

This morning I am sitting outside in my backyard sipping organic Chocolate Roobus tea, with 3 drops of caramel stevia and a splash of almond-coconut milk.  The blue sky is waking up, birds are singing and I can hear my neighbors pool pump humming.  The greens that clothe the plants and trees around the perimeter of our yard are vibrant.  I notice the details.   It is easy in these quiet moments to find gratitude.  These are moments I practice to build into my life for this is where life becomes manageable and I can find perspective.  Truly I don’t know where this blog post is going but I feel a need to write about quiet, not missing the sweet details in life, and about growing a heart of gratitude and kindness.

 A month or so ago I was sitting outside on a deck in 63 degree weather.  Living in Phoenix, AZ, 63 degrees is a gift on an early October day but I wasn’t in Phoenix.   I was in Show Low, AZ., a three hour drive from home.  This is my writing from that day:

 I will do my best to describe the moment.  There are birds chirping, the sound of a distant road with occasional cars, the trees near me are fluttering from an unseen breath.  A wind chime dances and sings reminding me of whispering church bells.  The blue sky with fluffy marshmallow cream clouds peek through the trees.  There is something up here that can be hard to find in the valley – a quiet that invites me to be still, reflect  and enjoy the quiet.

Funny how only a few days before the opportunity came to come up to the mountains, I was reluctant – it seemed too much work to pack, so many things on my to do list and I was engaged in an internal wrestling match.  One of the nice things of being 58 is I have enough past experience to question these struggles to rest and I’ve learned to fight those thoughts.  How easily I can miss out on the gift God is trying to give me….rest, peace, time to slow down from all the chores at home, tasks at work, etc.

I recently finished a book about a king that was imprisioned in a dark cell for almost a year.  He went in prideful and came out seeing the free things we have been given in this world in a new and appreciative way.  Imagine seeing nothing but darkness day after day and then coming out and seeing the sky with clouds in varying colored of white, grays and lavenders, of all shapes that continually move and transform.  It’s better than any movie we could watch.  The greens of the trees, each leaf different, the shadows of birds flying in and out of the branches.  The sounds of quaking aspens that gently sing in the breeze.  Go outside, close your eyes – study the darkness before your eyes.  Then open your eyes as if for the first time – it’s pretty amazing and can easily drive a heart to thankfulness.

This will be one of the last times I sit on this deck and it is with gratitude I say goodbye.  We didn’t do anything to deserve having time here during the past decade.  The property isn’t ours but is owned by a friend of my husband’s, who had graciously extended hospitality to us but recently decided to sell.  This beautiful home has been a retreat to us, providing a quick getaway when we walked through challenging times (financial, health, losing loved ones).  It has been an unexpected act of kindness towards our family.

Some moments mold you into something better than you were.   Sometimes people come into your life that help you take the next step in your journey.  These people are going about their day and have no idea they are going to step into someone else’s lives and make a difference.  

When my daughter, Tamara, was in high school she was challenged with throwing up month after month – we would watch her crawl to the bathroom and most times her body would need an iv to replenish her fluids.  Back and forth we went to the dr but answers were slow in coming. Then one time her doctor was out and we saw someone who was filling in.  For some reason this dr couldn’t let go of what was happening to Tamara.  He called us at home asking for more information.  The next day he asked for her to be brought back into the office and soon we had an appointment for a CAT Scan at 11 a.m. in an area of town I wasn’t familiar with.  I was out of my comfort zone:   I wanted to fix this for my daughter, I wanted to remain calm – I wanted to know this would all be ok – I prayed.  On the outside, I was keeping it together.  But I don’t like not knowing where I’m going and when we finally found the imaging area, I pulled into a parking spot with 5 minutes to spare.  I noticed I parked crooked and backed up to straighten up only to bump into a car that was also backing up.  I got out of the car and noticed the woman was not happy.  What happened next is a memory I have held dear and still clouds my eyes with tears.  I began to explain I was sorry and that my daughter was ill and we had an 11 am appointment for a test.  My rambling sounded incoherent to my own ears.  But I watched a face that had been angry start to melt.  She then opened her arms to me (the mom who is supposed to be brave) and I didn’t hesitate to walk into this stranger’s embrace and cry.  She whispered in my ear “The car doesn’t matter.  It is only a bump to a fender.  Your job is to get to that appointment and take care of your child.  Be brave.  You can do this.”  She released me and I said thank you as I got my daughter out of the car and checked into the appointment.  After the test, we were asked to stay in the waiting room.  Ten minutes later, I was handed a large envelope with the test film and told to get Tamara to Banner where a bed was waiting and surgery was being scheduled for an appendectomy.  This doctor, that woman were a big part of journey.  

 What does God say about kindness?  

Proverbs 3:3 – Do not let kindness and truth leave you.  Bind them around your neck and write them on tablet of your heart.

Acts 14:17 (NIV):  He (God) has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your heart with joy.” 

Romans 11:22 (NIV):  “Consider therefore the kindness and sternest of God:  sternest to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness.”

Galatians 5:22 (NIV):  “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience,kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

Ephesians 2:7 (NIV):  “..in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

2 Peter 1:7 – 1:3-8 (NIV)”  His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to go godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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Coming Soon

The tea kettle just went off…so be patient with me while I get up to hunt for a tea bag to immerse into the hot water.  Okay – I’m back and my Caramel Chai Herbal Tea is seeping.  

9-27-14 Tea and Writing

It is early and the house is quiet.  I smell a rainy scent left over from Saturday’ storm and hear the hum of the refrigerator.  Crazy the amount of rain and wind we received.  Our lantana look like they have been beaten with a stick but it’s dark right now as I sit at my kitchen table and I can’t see if they are still slumped over or they have rested and are erect once again.  Sometimes we just need to wait and see.

I thought it would be fun to share a few snapshots of the past few weeks and what my hopes are to share with you in the future.

A few weeks ago my husband and I headed to Oceanside, CA  for vacation and we rode a train, took long walks on the beach, watched the sunset, went to a movie, and ate amazing  meals.  (More pictures to come) We didn’t get the weather we had hoped for – it was hot and our rental condo had no air-conditioning  but life is seldom perfect and we were thankful it worked out so we could go. 

One of salads I ate out was a Chopped Chicken Cashew Salad with a soy reduction and a miso vinaigrette which of course, I came home inspired and started trying to recreate.  I needed to learn how to may a soy reduction and a dressing which incorporates miso paste.  I’ve been successful and will be sharing how to make this soon.  First you’ll see a recipe for the soy reduction, then the miso vinaigrette and finally the salad.  The first two can be done ahead and this way the recipe won’t seem overwhelming.  

Chopped Cashew Chicken Salad - K. Strauss

The picture of the sky was taken while driving home – so pretty.

Oceanside 2014 - driving home (Maricopa)

I was asked this week how to make “homemade” iced tea.  Sometimes we are asked things that we’ve been doing so long we don’t even think about writing directions down for. So a short blog post will be coming soon.  

Green Tea3

Lastly I was asked to answer a few questions regarding my faith walk with Jesus over at Pouring Down Like Rain this past week.  Here is a bit of the post – the link to continue reading is listed at the bottom.

Was God always present in your life? Was it consistent?  Yes – I grew up in a Christian home and Jesus was introduced to me as a child. But I believe there is a time when your belief in God has to become personal and embraced as your own.

At what age did you really understand and start to have a personal relationship with Him?  I was 9 years old. My mom was very ill, my dad was working to provide for our family and I had 3 little brothers.  I spent a Friday night at my grandmother’s house.  This was great fun because she was an amazing cook and let me choose what was for dinner.  Pinto Beans and Cornbread – yum!  She then asked if I wanted to stay another night. I had to think about this because this meant going to church with grandma the next morning but choosing another dinner won out.  She surprised me when she said after dinner to go get cleaned up; we were going to church for a Saturday Special.   I thought “Church tonight too?”  Soon we were sitting in a church pew listening to a men’s quartet.  To this day – I don’t remember the name of their group; but I can tell you the words of a song they sang that changed me “Don’t try to tell me that God is dead.  I just talked to Him this morning.  Don’t try to tell me He’s not alive He lives within my heart.  His words are always by my side.  He brightens up my day.  Don’t try to tell me that God is dead.  I just talked to him today.”   I walked down the center aisle and accepted Jesus into my heart that night and knew I would never be alone.

Was God present in your parent’s life?  Yes

Do you attend church? Is this where you feel closest to God?  Yes – we float a bit between churches and sometimes when needed we are ministered to at home. But there are times when I am in the woods or sitting quietly by the ocean that my heart is quieted and I listen better.  I think being in His creation is a glimpse of His power.  I am awed by it.

Have you ever had a God moment or felt/seen the presence of God?  Yes – several times but this is the one making me smile as I write. Years ago I was a stay-at-home mom and my heart yearned to help make our house a home by doing some decorating.  Monetarily I didn’t have much to work with.  I took a piece of lined binder paper and drew 3 columns listing my heart desires, what I thought it would cost and then I left the 3rd column blank.  I gave this list to God – asked him to brainstorm and go shopping with me.  I would then place the actual cost in the column when the desire had been met.  One example:  New slip covers for outside furniture – Waverly fabric – I needed 10 yards (Regularly $26.00/yard – I received for $1.08/yard)  In a years time – everything on my list was complete with the monies I had to work with.

  To continue reading – please click HERE

Hoping you have a great week.  

 

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