New for 2011

Happy belated new year.  My blog has a new home.  You can follow along over at the new http://www.vicki-arnold.com.

Blessings to you and yours,

Vicki

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Looking Back

I’m enjoying looking back in my gratitude journal to see the ways God blessed me through the year.

47.  Phone calls with my parents

48.  Cooking with Andrew

49.  Bedtime quiet

50.  Joy’s kittens!

51.  Taming Joy’s kittens

52.  Being tired at bedtime

53.  Seeing order in the chaos

54.  Childhood books randomly popping up

55.  No Facebook – electronic peace

56.  Breaking old habits

57.  Creating new habits

58.  Family meetings

59.  When God’s word seems written just for me

60.  Making the devil mad

61.  Getting confirmation that my prayers are being answered

62.  Holding composure during a confrontation

63.  Having courage to speak the truth

64.  Remembering to pray for guidance before an unnerving conversation

65.  Forgiveness

66.  The reminder to stay humble in spirit

67.  Progress of asking questions

68.  Remembering to keep my joy in the midst of chaos and accusations

69.  The privilege of praying for my family

70.  Encouragement for something personal

71.  Hearing Joyful practice the piano

72.  A renewal

73.  Answered prayers!!

74.  Finding a community of believers who share similar passions as our family

75.  Watching my children blossom

76.  Vacation Bible School

77.  Encouragement that I’ve been on target with aspects of our parenting

78.  Reminders that it is only through Christ that I can come close to getting it right

79.  Knowing that my children are making connections with what they are being taught

80.  The right encouragement with frustration hits

81.  Heart of Wisdom teaching approach!

82.  Feeling like all the research, praying, reading, praying, experimenting is finally paying off

83.  finding a way to fit all the pieces together to make our homeschool effective, efficient and fun

84.  Felling the presence of God through my days

85.  Conversations with my children

86.  Children stopping their play to help me fold the laundry simply because they saw me doing it

87.  Tie dying shirts with kids

88.  Watching their excitement and impatience as they dried

89.  Brothers and sisters playing together

90.  Brothers and sisters working together

91.  Watching my children read

92.  Watching Peanut get something right- joy radiates out of this child

93.  Watching the kids ride bikes

94.  A schedule that actually works – keeps me on track, but is flexible – who knew?!

95.  Having my work finished and time for my hobbies and projects

96.  Finally condensing my beads down

97.  Renewed vision for my creative self

98.  God-given passion

And that brings us current, the next batch of blessings will be my most recent writings.  After reading through that, I have some similar entries on my list, but I just take that as par for the course.  Sometimes God needs to point things out to me more than once before I get it.

Ann at The Holy Experience inspired this counting of my blessings and purposing to see the good in life.  You can learn more at her blog:

holy experience

Blessings to you, Vicki

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Still Thankful

I’ve been slowly plugging away in my gratitude journal.  I don’t know that I’ll make the 9 month goal, but we’ll see.  I still have about three months left.  These were from this summer, unfortunately it has been weeks since we were last fishing.

26.  Music that speaks to me

27.  Music that motivates me

28.  Music that brings me to worship

29.  Music that makes me cry

30.  Music that touches my heart

31.  Music that encourages me

I was going through a rough time and music is one of the biggest ways I hear God.  Music nourishes my spirit.

32.  Fishing with my BFF and our kids

33.  Experiencing new firsts with our kids

34.  Children who look forward to the next school year to start so they can “learn more stuff and read better”

35.  Summer break

36.  Planning my children’s next school year

37.  How God reveals more about my children’s personalities everyday

38.  Being present to watch them grow

39.  The way God teaches me to be a better person through my children

40.  Dads and Dad-figures

41.  A handy, get-the-job-done husband

42.  Making changes to better myself

43.  When those changes start to feel more “normal”

44.  Organization!

45.  Chicken shows

46.  Spending time with my family.

Life is beautiful if you take the time to see it.  May you take the time to count the blessings in your life.  ‘Tis the season, you know.

This 1000 blessings goal was originally inspired by the gratitude community over at a Holy Experience.

holy experience

Blessings to you,  Vicki

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Aimlessly Wandering No More

An online friend of mine wrote a post recently that got me thinking. I’m quoting very little of her post here, but you can read the whole thing on her blog.

“I have been treading water with my online thing for a bit. I needed to chill a bit and get some direction and have a clear plan of how to move forward, and be very specific in doing so.”

I feel we are in the same boat. It’s been an interesting few years. When we live life the way we “should”, the drudgery of day-to-day action seems overwhelming. I’m finally in a place where I can see some of the talents and gifts God has placed in me and the REASONS for them. I’ve become aware of my flaws in a way that doesn’t leave me feeling worthless. Frustrated sometimes, but not worthless.

For a long time, I simply looked at my flaws and looked for various ways to fix them. I was so frustrated that while I seemed to be doing the right thing, I was getting no where. I was lacking balance though, balance between fixing my flaws and using my strengths. This still is a work in progress, as I’m sure I will always be.

As far as how that relates to blogging, I was wandering aimlessly in this vast internet sea, unsure of where I fit in. I rarely consulted with God on where I should be headed and thus spent a good amount of time spinning my wheels.

This seemed to be the running theme of my way of doing things. I would run in a hundred different directions, all without consulting the map God has laid out for me. I think this past year has finally put me in a spot where I was REALLY tired of this. To the point of desperately needing and wanting change, major change. I thought it would be quick, but that is rarely the case when there are important things and reasons to learn.

“Last month I went to my grandmothers funeral, and I realized there are 3-4 things I am knowledgeable about and can talk with a certain amount of understanding and authority on, anything else, I sit quietly and listen because I don’t know the first thing about it.”

I love this quote. I don’t know why, I can’t really expound upon it. Maybe it’s because I am realizing that I don’t have to be an expert on 400 different things. Also, knowing when to keep one’s mouth shut is priceless and any reminder of that is always timely.

So, where does this leave my blogging? In His hands. I have a lot of posts in this here head, most of which are about my faith, but I have other things that need attention before I can dive in. I can say I’m seeing a light at the end of my tunnel and the things that were drowning me are being removed or tamed. Goodwill, Once Upon a Child, Half Priced Books and the trash can have seen me fairly frequently lately.

I’d love to share more, but alas, I need to go make some smoothies, menu plan and grocery lists.

Happy Friday!

Vicki

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A Parenting First

In the almost eight years I’ve been a parent, I haven’t had a conversation like this one until this morning with Peanut, my sweet, spitfire of a four year old.

Peanut, looking through a book and naming the girls in the pictures – “Look at this girl.  I’m going to name her Ass and invite her to my party.”

Me – “Ass isn’t really a good name.”

Peanut – “Oh.  Sarah?”

Me – “Sarah’s nice.”

Peanut smiles.

Me – “Hey, Pea.”

Peanut looks at me with a sweet smile on her face.

Me – “Ass isn’t a word we use.”

Peanut, with an innocent smirk – “Oh.  Ok.”

This is our first experience with actual curse words.  Though I’m guessing it comes more from her general making words with random sounds than anything else.  Still, it caused me quite a chuckle this morning.  Out of the mouths of babes.

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Project Change Revisited

Probably one of the smartest choices I’ve made in a while has been my online silence these past few months.  When I chose Change as my word of the year, I had no idea just how true that would be.  I’ve since realized it’s like praying for patience.  When you pray for patience, more often than not, you are given the opportunity to practice patience, to choose to be patient.  God has a sense of humor like that.  And that’s all I’ll say about that because in ways it’s still an open wound that my God is still healing.

I thought it would be helpful for me to revisit my first post of 2010.  Seeing as I had big plans for this year I thought it would be funny to laugh now at how the things I thought I would change pale in contrast to the areas that God wanted to work on.  I realize now that I wanted to change my symptoms and God wants to heal the disease.

For a long time I’ve had a guilt-laden balloon hovering over my head that I didn’t spend enough time with God, I didn’t read my Bible enough, I didn’t get up early enough, I didn’t have enough patience with my children, I wasn’t a good enough wife, I didn’t speak up when I felt I should, I didn’t do this, I didn’t do that.  In every way possible, I measured up short.  I read everything I could trying to figure out systems to help me fix the mess that I was.  I’d get up early for a few mornings and get so much done and then crash for the next week, completely undoing any progress I’d made.

My organizational style has always revolved around piles of stuff, stuff I did, stuff I needed to do, stuff I wanted to do, stuff I thought I should do.  And these piles would grow until they took over a physical part of my life.

I bought things to fill a hole in me that I didn’t know existed.  I spent money on things that I was going to do, who I thought I should be– the seamstress, the jewelry designer, the eBay powerseller, the DIY project queen, phenomenal chef and baker.  I’ve dug deep holes for my family in my searching for something that would fill this ache in me that would creep up sometimes and I would find myself crying for no apparent reason.

When I ran out of money, I ate and ate.  I wouldn’t eat just one monstrous cinnamon roll, I would have two.  I ate until I was stuffed.  About two years ago I literally became addicted to Lifesaver wintergreen mints.  I ate them like crackers.  And it almost killed me (not an exaggeration, my mother-in-law sat by my side overnight while I puked on her couch with hands so swollen I couldn’t bend my fingers).  It has been since December and I still have days that I find myself longing for them, the only thing keeping me from running up to the convenience store to buy a roll was that my husband would be able to smell them on my breath.  I don’t know how to describe it other than to say that my tongue tingles on the sides and I can almost taste them.

When I was full, I zoned.  I escaped in any way I could, music my teenage years, tv during my first years of motherhood, online forums, Facebook, Farmville, blogs since then.  I was desperate for a distraction, from what I didn’t know.

I wanted to be a good wife.  I wanted to be a good mother.  I knew how vitally important my interactions with my children were to their well-being, would affect them for the rest of their lives.  But how could I pour into my children when I felt so empty?  How could I expect them to live the way God wants when I was such a mess?  How could I be a good wife/mother/person when all I wanted to do is to curl up in a hole and live a life in my head?  A life without pain or complications.

Sure, I had my good days.  I have many memories that I cherish.  I can see the good.  I remember the day I married the man who became my very best friend.  I fully remember how incredible it was to welcome each of my children into this world, the joy of carrying them in my body.  My precious babies.

And still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off.  I couldn’t shake the voices in my head, voices of my past, voices of my failures.  I couldn’t shake the bad habits that I found such comfort in.

I’ve heard people talk of how they can’t get enough of God, how the Bible just seems to come alive and speak to them.  I heard and I tried, but I couldn’t find the same thing.  I found myself going through the motions and dragging myself through the Bible when I eventually got it off the shelf.  It became something else that just filled that balloon.

The one thing that I did have was prayer.  I am a prayer addict, if you will.  I pray for random people that cross my path, things that pop into my head and fervently for my family.  I believe in prayer, I believe in my Savior, I believe in my God.  I cling to and have clung to prayer to get me through everything, good and bad.

And then, last December I noticed something and I wrote this.  It was then I made a conscious decision for change.  I figured it would be the usual things, finally losing that weight, getting on a good sleep schedule, typical change-y things.  What I didn’t realize was that these things went deeper than I thought.  God was leading me to dig deep, look at the way I was, who I was, to look at the junk I piled into my life, the wounds I’d buried deep under the guise of moving on.

At times this year I have felt frustrated, with myself and others.  I have been angry, oh so angry.  I have been embarrassed, scared and exhausted.  I have cried more and had more hypothetical conversations in my head (I’m an introvert and tend to work things out in my head, it feels safer that way) than I have in a very long time.  I’ve grieved some things that had been just too painful to deal with until now.

And with each tear, each hypothetical word, God was stitching up the broken places in my heart.  I’ve been challenged to forgive, to respond differently and change some habits.  I’ve missed the mark at times, but found myself still walking forward for the first time in a long time.

God brought resources in my life that met needs that had long felt abandoned.  A new curriculum.  A new church family.  A new friend.  He’s brought old friends back into my life.  He’s strengthened our marriage.  He’s renewed my commitment to my children.

Sometimes the hardest things we go through in life are what brings the greatest rewards, the greatest healing, the greatest joy.  The greatest faith.

This is my heart.  This is my journey.

I can’t believe the short post I started to write ended up being over 1200 words.  If you would like someone to pray for you, please email me.  I would be honored to pray for you.  I have been blessed with people in my life willing to pray for me and would love to pay it forward.

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Not Quite Summer

The weather here can’t seem to make up it’s mind. A storm today brought in cooler air, after a few days of dog-days-of-summer heat. However, blessings still abound. Here are a few things I found myself feeling thankful for recently.

14.  Weeded flower beds.

15.  Freshly planted flowers.

16.  Squeals through the sprinkler.

17.  One on one time with my child.

18.  Cool breezes.

19.  Ceiling fans.

20.  Beach towels drying in the breeze.

21.  My favorite food for lunch (broccoli and bowties, though I now make it with rotini because I can get it in whole wheat).

22.  Encouraging music.

23.  Pretty journals.

Gratitude

and the back

24.  Checking things off lists.

25.  Sibling squabbles followed by immediate forgiveness and moving on.

Blessings to you,

Vicki

holy experience

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