Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beauty and the Pig

I had to repost this because it seemed like a good thing to do! 
Beauty and the Pig
copyright 2006, lani wiens
a fresh flowers original

While my kids are playing with frogs in the back yard and the baby is sleeping I will quickly write!! My dear friend and fellow mommy of many, Krista, brought over the most delightful book in response to my last flower. The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. It is a farcical take off of the original Three Little Pigs. It is very funny, we had a good guffaw or two over that bad boy I must say.

The story begins much like the pigs except the wolves are out building themselves houses out of brick, concrete and armor plating. The big bad pig whips out his sledgehammer, pneumatic drill and a wee bit o' dynamite in order to take care of their dwelling places when huffing and puffing prove ineffective. As the little wolves run with teapot in hand from the antics of the pig they realize that they need to review their use of building materials. So they take an out-there approach and build a house of flowers! (yes I particularly liked that bit - though my allergies would never let me live in such a dwelling it sounded beautiful). When the pig comes along and takes his big huffy breath he catches the scent and his hard heart is melted by the beauty he takes in. He is so enthralled he begins to sing and dance the tarentella - his heart is truly transformed, transformed to the point that the pig and the wolves take up residency together and live happily ever after.

I'm only going to point out the obvious. The big bad pig's heart was changed by an encounter with beauty. I have also been reading the book, Captivating by John and Stasi Eldridge. This book looks at the secrets of a woman's soul, her inherent, unveiling beauty that captures the heart of those who see it and are profoundly changed.

One of the paths that God has led me on in the last 10 years is this pursuit and understanding of beauty. I love to bring beauty into my home, to gaze on it, to surround myself in it whenever I can. I love holding my new baby girl and see the beauty that rests in her, I love seeing my older daughter's delightful smile that lights up her eyes and sets them to sparkling. I gaze into my husband's heart and see the beauty of the Father's love overflow into everything he does. To listen to my little boys pray and thank the Father for what he is about to do brings joy to my heart. To watch my older boys have compassion on little frogs with broken legs. To bring fabrics together and see patterns emerge through the blending of things that may seem incongruous to the casual observer. To clean out the flower bed so that the plants can be seen and breathe on their own and then plan for pansies to add their little faces to the mix....ahh the things of beauty.

Beauty can soften the hardest of hearts. Why do you think God created flowers, birds, music, cats, and colors. I read somewhere that beauty exists to fill in the trenches created by pain.

Today I encourage you to enjoy beauty, create beauty, bring home something that has no other value than to simply be a feast for your senses. I think I will put on some classical music as I work this morning and stop once again to look at my baby girl. I will go and run my hands over that heavy silk/rayon Chinese bit of cloth I bought the other day - it has embroidered butterflies on a blood red background, I took some of that extravagant cloth and made it into a pincushion of all things - completely decadent! I may throw some shimmering purple organza onto the walls of my bedroom. Maybe I'll finish sewing my pretty pajamas that I started the other day or read something particularly delightful. I want my heart to stay soft and perhaps one day the beauty that God is creating in me and through me will soften some big bad pig's heart.

have a beauty-filled day

Lani, the flowerlady

ps I would love to hear about what beautiful thing you did or came across, it would greatly encourage me

Friday, July 15, 2011


If you haven't read the previous post stop and do so now.

Thank you.

Yesterday was the antithesis of Wednesday.  Wednesday was all shrouded in glory and grace and I came home with a heart so full and managed the little mini-meltdown that occurred when the rejection button got hit and I went to bed joy-filled and content.

Thursday couldn't have been more different.  The good news is that perhaps the severe attack means that we're on the right track and took a little ground on Wednesday that the enemy wanted back on Thursday.  My son, who was sweet and co-operative and enjoying the company of his brother on Wednesday decided it was time to torment, bully and beat his brother on Thursday.  By noon there had been no younger sibling that hadn't been bullied or hurt.  It was time for a break and so off he went to hang with grandma and let me put the shattered emotions back together.

This is the part of the thankful life that I really don't know how to do.  It says to give thanks in ALL circumstances but I honestly don't know how to be thankful for a kid running through the house with scissors with a maniacal grin on his face.  I don't know how to be thankful for a little boy crying because his mouth is bleeding where he got hit with a flying toy.

I can be thankful for the grace to NOT lose it in the midst of the fight.  I can be thankful that grandma was available to keep him for awhile.  I can be thankful that Kelly wasn't too far from home and could intervene quickly.  I can be thankful that the damage was minimal this time.  I can be thankful that he went without a fight this time.  and I can be thankful that he wanted to come home in the end even though we didn't let him.

I can be thankful for those things but that isn't the circumstance.  Is there a difference between being thankful IN the circumstance versus being thankful FOR the circumstance?  The bread of the now was so sweet and fresh on Wednesday, it was stale and moldy on Thursday and yet I must eat the bread and drink the cup that was bitter because this is the journey and the Word says it will ALL work together for good because I am His and I am called to THIS.  This mess, this glory, this circumstance for today.

I remember a friend writing me words of encouragement who knows a similar journey and she said, who knew that taking up that cross would hurt so much.  We expect only beauty and only easy and yet the Word says, "In this world you WILL have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world."  and "WHEN you encounter will produce character."  Character is being birthed in me, I pray it is good and godly, that my responses and reactions are ones that please the character creator.  I obviously need a lot of work on character *grin*. 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Being the Blessing is the Blessing

It is late, my eyelids droop, my rear is tired from driving for the last few days...but I must write because of the day it has been all glory and joy and blessings.

I got to be the blessing today and it felt amazing.  Allowing a little of the blanket to drop away and allow Him to walk and talk through refreshing, mesmerizing even.  Watching myself speak words of life to this beautiful girl in the lovely store 'The Paper Umbrella'.  She so full of questions and listening to answers and as we leave she tells us how we have blessed her this day.  I answered her questions, fully engaged in being right where I was, purchasing little notebooks to go with Ann's book to give away as the Lord leads me to give them.  As we left the store we reveled in pretty teapots and went in to the next store and delighted in the pretty pots and lovely teas.  We laughed with the storekeeper there, too.  As we walked back to where we began I felt the nudge to go back and give Teresa my Ann book, which I had along, nudge her to the cross, to the real source of answers and faith and how to bring up boys.  And we did!  I wrote a little note and tucked my card inside and we snuck back into the store later that day and gave it to her.  What joy to give!  What joy to start someone else on a road to thanksgiving.

My cell phone rings, my concerned husband tells me to take the long way home, the storm will hit the ferry at the same time I want to cross.  So we take the long way and I tour the boys around my old college stomping grounds and take them for a special drink at the same restaurant where I sipped tea and ate cinnamon buns as a student in another time.  Helen starts to chat with me.  She tells me how the struggle to adjust to our country from her beloved UK has been difficult, I see the loneliness there.  She talks to me of parenting her teenage boy and we connect hearts over the mixing of a chai latte.  I feel that nudge again, give her your card, let yourself be known, invite her in, you know the pain of being uprooted, of changing your whole life, be a friend if she'll have you.  And I do, I give her the card my husband made up for me for this reason, to let people know me...

As we drive through our familiar hills we see them shrouded in mist and I direct the boys to attention, to see the beauty around it, they gasp at the wonder and the toys fall from their fingers as they are mesmerized by cloud lying on land.  We drive through with a whoosh and watch the clouds, all beauty.  We talk about how lovely our day was and I hear the gentle contentment in his voice, this one who always says no and that nothing is good, at peace with himself for the moment.  What bliss to hear that, such a rare and precious gift that shatters the moment we get home.  Because I am so full of Him I can speak gently and we restore the peace, he steals one of the little notebooks and I tell him he can have it, there is no need to steal and he begins a list of 1000 things, he wants to fill up the first page and we sit on the floor and I help him spell the words that he wants to write, this almost boy who doesn't want to grow up but does so just a little as I watch.  And the other boy that was along today who helped give the gift takes his little notebook and begins, too, to say thanks for the gifts of grace today.  All is at peace in my home and I am so full it spills out in words and salty trails.

This has been a day of letting myself speak to strangers, of being interested in people, of stepping out among the people and letting them see me rather than passing by and not stopping.  A day of really choosing to see and hear and being all there.  Perhaps the winter is finally passing...when you do it to the least of these, you do it to me...give and it will be given to you, pressed down and running over...


how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity...

(1080 - 1095)
-the two who fight most, choosing to love each other today
-hills shrouded in mist
- passing by the storm rather than through it
- Helen at Caronport
- Teresa at the paper umbrella
-Teresa at the Caring Place
- little notebooks with the beginning of 1000 gifts begun
- sitting on the floor counting gifts
- watching repentance and forgiveness truly happen
- hearing him say he had a good day
- pretty tea pots
- new teas to try
- oldest and youngest brothers carrying out the plan they've had all week, inside rather than out, but together...and happy
- the middle two jealous at first, then forming their own plan to be together
- young man stopping to say hi in the mall, just because

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday evening thankfulness (1059-1079)

Today I took my oldest daughter and her friend to camp.  It was a very quiet ride as they read books most of the way.  A lovely time to be alone with my thoughts.  After I got them squared away I took off by myself for awhile to read, write and pray, stopped to take some pictures on the way home and refreshed my spirit.

Thankful for:
(1059 - 1079)
a camp director who blesses tired moms with prayer and a nice parking spot at the top of the hill
the camp administrator that got the friends into the right cabin after a mix up
my daughter committing to help her friends get to camp
quiet parks
words on pages
Beth Moore books
mosquito repellent
supper out with good friends - 12 kids at home between us, so sweet to go out

my wonderful husband, he had fun test-driving trucks and golfing, such a sweet gift for a hard-working guy

fun at the pool with the kids

my sweet miss, picking flowers for her mama

she's so happy to have finished this project, she did a good job, a sweet gift to share the love of sewing and fabric with my kids

the flowers little miss picked ended up in this little vase on my bedside table

girls settling into camp, such a gift for children everywhere

a quiet house, speaking volumes

the Mr. looking out over his domain

red barns

perfect reflections

stooked bales, don't see these very often anymore, speaks to me of simpler days

Join the community of Thankfulness

Saturday, July 09, 2011

the hardest person to forgive

I can hear the weight of it in his voice as he tells me they have to keep going because of his mistake...they can't stop for supper.

I see the weight of it sitting on my boy's shoulders, the guilt and shame of his exposed sin bending his shoulders over.

I feel it in my chest when the counselor says, "But can you forgive yourself?"

When she first told me how hard it would be to forgive myself I had a little chuckle inside.  How hard could that be after all.  It was hard to forgive the ones who wronged me.  Certainly forgiving myself couldn't be as hard as all that was, but the words stuck in my throat and didn't want to come out.  The hung on to my soul with clutching fingers, begging to stay where they were.  After a long time I finally got those words out, "I forgive myself, I own my part of this sin and I let it go...forgiven by the blood of the Lamb."

And the freedom that came was amazing, different than forgiving someone else this process of letting the sin go.  I can't be tied to it anymore once I forgive myself, it can't come back to haunt me anymore.  Neither can I hide behind guilt or shame when I have forgiven myself, sometimes that feels like a safe place, a good excuse to not do.

What do you need to forgive yourself for today?  Yelling at the kids? Lying? Cheating? Stealing?  Dropping the ball?  Letting information slip that was confidential?  An unkind word?  Whatever it is, how ever big it is, God is bigger and is more than willing to help you walk free.  Take a step today.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Marg's Cheesy Chicken

It's time to get the wheels of this blog rolling again and what better way than with an amazing chicken recipe from a dear lady!  The recipe is for the oven, however, since it was so hot this week, I stuck it in a crock pot on my deck (out of reach of the dogs) and it did pretty well - the only changes I made were that I didn't pre-cook the vegetables (I used both broccoli and asparagus because I didn't have enough of either one for the amount of people I was serving - it worked just fine) and it was juicier than the oven version, but that makes it into really nice gravy!

Saute chicken breasts in a little oil with some pepper.  (I added lemon pepper and some lemon-oregano grilling sauce to add to the lemony flavour)

steam 1 bunch of broccoli or asparagus

Mix together:
1 can cream of chicken soup (or mushroom)
1/2 cup mayo
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp lemon juice

Layer in casserole dish:

chicken, broccoli/asparagus, sauce and then sprinkle 1 cup of grated cheese on top (I like old for more zip)

Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes.

Enjoy with oven roast potatoes (you can do those on the BBQ) and a fresh green salad with oil and vinegar dressing, we threw some stuffing on the side as well and you've got a wonderful feast to impress the family!