Thoughts for Tuesday, September 19th

Outside my windows… everything is halfway between summer and fall. The changing of the guard is upon us.

Inside my house… hot tea and fall scented candles can be found on my desk daily right now.

Counting 1000 gifts… reading my great-aunt’s old journals and getting a glimpse of family history.

Prayers of the heart… that our busy fall will go smoothly.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… a fall scavenger hunt was on the agenda for today, so now they’re making leaf rubbings with the treasures collected.

From my playlist… a track from Future World Music’s newest album titled “Look to the Stars”. No wonder it’s my favorite track from the album!

From my reading list… Finding Spiritual Whitespace and for fun, Aye Robot.

From my needlework basket… lace knitting with Christmas gifts in mind.

In the learning room… our first block of school weeks will be half over by the end of this week. The kids have really gotten back into the rhythm of school days a little easier than I have this year!

Random ramblings… Sometimes the things that you can do are not the things that you should do. Letting go of those things is a hard battle some days, and letting go of the guilt harder still.

Profound ponderings… “I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.” – Isaac Newton

Caught on film…

It may be in the 70s outside, but I'm embracing fall at my desk! #reasonstolovemaine #grovecollaborative

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Summer Goals

If you read my blog or follow me on social media, then you’ve probably heard me mention Powersheets a few times this year. It’s a goal-setting workbook that I’ve really enjoyed this year. I absolutely won’t get all the goals I set at the beginning of this year done, but as it’s printed in big letters in the workbook, “Progress, not perfection.”

In addition to my regular Powersheets goal-setting, I also made out a list of Summer Goals and included some ideas from the kids:

Summer planning! #fruitfulsummer

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  1. Order school books.
  2. Tear up living room carpet.
  3. Paint living room.
  4. Make s’mores with the kiddos.
  5. Plant something!
  6. Sort through books.
  7. Camp out in the back yard.
  8. Write a short story.
  9. Paint and re-cover the dining room chairs.
  10. Go out for ice cream.
  11. Visit a lighthouse.
  12. Replace the kitchen sink.

The lighthouse trip was added because Mr. Q requested that we visit a lighthouse for his birthday. Since we live in Maine, that’s a pretty doable idea. The biggest problem will be picking which lighthouse to go see!

Getting rid of the living room carpet is going to have to be put off due to some things that have come up. It might even be next year before I can tackle it, but I still may end up painting the room anyway. We’ll have to see. The dining room chair project is the last bit of my refresh of that room. I use laminated cotton to cover the seats of the chairs because it’s got to be something that’s easy to keep clean! The chairs are actually much older than I am, bought sometime in the 50s with green stamps I believe! I just use spray paint on the metal, and I like the color from my filing cabinet so much that I think I’ll use that. The kitchen sink replacement is a must before winter though. Drains can definitely freeze up here, and leaky faucets will make it happen that much faster.

Oh, I had grand plans for raised beds this summer… If nothing else, I want to put some pansies in a planter outside though. Mom always loved pansies and planted them just about every summer when I was a kid.

Writing a short story? I want to write something fun and short that’s a cool sci-fi adventure. Something that the kids will enjoy reading too. I’m going for a Tom Corbett: Space Cadet feel to it. (The books are out of print, but you can find them for Kindle. Completely dated science and a distinct lack of girls flying rocketships, but still great fun to read!)

The going for ice cream thing may happen more than once, but we’re definitely getting ice cream this weekend! I promised the kids a fun treat this week, and what’s better than ice cream?

So, have you set any goals for the summer? What are you doing while the weather’s nice?

Finding Your Own Way…

When I was 15, my mom was in a near-fatal car accident. For the first week, the doctors weren’t certain that she’d survive. She did survive, but recovery was long, hard, and never quite complete. The next two years were some of the most grueling for our family, and I suffered through months of depression as a result. I tried to confide in someone about it and was promptly told that if a Christian was depressed it was because they weren’t praying hard enough. The guilt that single comment heaped on me did nothing to help me get better, and discouraged me from seeking the counseling I desperately needed.

The internet is filled with people telling us how to do everything from mopping to moving the “right way.” Christians experts are eager to tell us how to do things the “Christian” way. There’s nothing wrong with seeking advice; but it’s easy, too easy, to get stuck in the idea that there’s just one way to do things. Very few things in life are truly one size fits all.

I don’t think any of us would argue that we each have a different combination of talents, personality, and interests. Why then, is it harder for us to accept that we also have different ways of making decisions and dealing with what life hands us?

Practical Things

I’ve been told that my grandmother kept an immaculate house and vacuumed her carpets daily. Balancing work, my husband’s travel schedule, homeschooling four kids, and general life means that my house is not quite as immaculate as Grandma’s. I have tried many methods that promised to be the best way to do things, and none of them really worked out. I finally settled on a compilation of ideas that fits our family. It’s not the way that everyone else does it, but it doesn’t have to be.

Whether you’re figuring out a solution for Mt. Washmore, or picking out a math curriculum, it’s okay for you to toss all of the “shoulds” nagging you and do what works for you and your family. Start from scratch and consider all of the options. Write out a pros and cons list if that helps you think through things. If what you pick isn’t quite right, tweak things until it is, or try something else. Go with what’s best for your family and let go of the guilt!

Faith-Related Things

I always envied the super-spiritual Christians – people who spent two hours a day in prayer, or read the entire Bible in a month. I knew that a daily quiet time was important, but no matter which reading plan, Bible on tape, devotional book, or study guide I tried, I couldn’t seem to figure out how to do it “right.” A year and a half ago, I stumbled upon a blog post about writing out Scripture passages in a journal each day. I enjoy writing things out by hand, and it helped me to connect with the Scriptures in a way that I’d struggled to do before! I’ve even started writing out some of my prayers.
There’s nothing wrong with any of the other things that I mentioned; it’s just a matter of each of us finding out what helps us to grow in our faith. There are foundations of faith that remain constant. We’re all sinners and can only be saved through Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. But, my spiritual growth won’t happen on the same timetable, or even through the same methods, as yours. What’s important is that we cultivate our relationship with God and keep growing!

Hard Things

Life isn’t always easy. As Christians, we have hope that can only be found through our faith in God. As powerful as that is, we can lose sight of it because we’re focused on putting up a good front. We think that Christians shouldn’t feel angry, scared, or depressed. We’re afraid admitting that we do will make people think less of us.

We all have to process and deal with things in our own way. Some need to do this quietly and on their own, some need the support of friends and loved ones who will listen and encourage, and some need the help of a professional. None of these options are any holier than the others. The important thing is to process what has happened and deal with how it’s affecting us. When we stuff all of this down deep instead of facing it, we deprive ourselves of seeing God’s grace in the situation as we work through it. There are things that I don’t think I’ll understand this side of heaven, but I can still see glimpses of God’s hand in my life. That alone is worth the pain of facing the hard things.

“For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” Philippians 2:13 (HCSB)

DIY Filing Cabinet Upgrade

Red Green might call duct tape the handyman’s secret weapon, but spray paint is definitely the DIY decorator’s secret weapon! A couple of cans of spray paint can transform just about anything. There’s not much that I haven’t tried spray painting, and I’m usually quite happy with the results.

My latest spray paint project was a 2-drawer filing cabinet. It all started when I came across the cute filing cabinets by Poppin. I love the combination of white and a bright pop of color for the drawers! But… I don’t need a new filing cabinet, and at $250 for the cute Poppin version…

Krylon to the rescue! I used spray primer leftover from a previous project. As you can see from the photo, this isn’t the first time that I’ve spray-painted this particular filing cabinet…

It looks pretty rough at this point, but don’t panic! Spray painting takes a lot of coats. Many light coats works better than trying to use just one or two heavy coats. My boys helped me decide which color to use for the drawer fronts, and I think they picked a good one…

I realized at this point that I should have bought an extra can of white because the coverage would have evened out a little better with another coat or two. (I should know by now that it always takes more paint than I think it will!) Even so, now that it’s inside and next to my desk, any unevenness in the white isn’t horribly noticeable. There is a drip on the bottom that I could have sanded out once dry and fixed. Since you’ll only see it if you’re on the floor looking right at the filing cabinet, I opted to let it go.

So, for the cost of a couple of cans of spray paint, I have a cute filing cabinet that matches our school/office/dining room’s new color scheme!

I used Krylon spray paint for this project, but I’ve use Rustoleum in the past as well with good results. Pick whichever one has the color and finish that you’re looking for. (If you buy the 99 cent cans of paint, keep in mind that you’re getting what you pay for in this case…) Here are a few tips to get you started with your own spray paint transformation!

  • Use several light coats as opposed to a heavy one.
  • Paint outside on a good day, preferably with little to no breeze.
  • If there is rust or a shiny finish, use some steel wool or sandpaper before priming.
  • You can skip the primer, but it’s helpful when covering a dark color with a lighter one, on unfinished wood, or when you have a surface that the paint needs a little extra help “gripping”. When in doubt, prime first.
  • Buy an extra can or two of paint because it always takes more than you expect…
  • Follow the directions for re-coating and then let the finished product sit for at least a day so that the paint really has a chance to harden before setting anything in/on it.

What cool projects have you used spray paint for?

Oh, check out what I found in said filing cabinet:

Cleaning out the file drawer and I realized that I’m a bit of a fangirl… #wellplannedgal

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January Goals Check-in

January didn’t go quite the way I planned it… Actually, that pretty much describes my life!

IMG_4827In any case, I had nice, lofty goals and plans for January. Some things came up that did require me taking a step back, but I also discovered that I didn’t break some of my goals down far enough. For example, I wanted to work on novel re-writes. I did work a little bit on that. However, since it was a monthly goal and not something I had listed to work on daily, it was too easy to keep pushing that back instead of making even a little progress. The same thing happened with my reading goals. This lead me to tweak my February goals by adding in 30 minutes of writing and 30 minutes of reading daily. Naturally, if I get into the writing groove then I’ll write longer than that, but the point is that I need to make working on writing daily a priority. NaNoWriMo showed me how powerful working every day on something can be!

I was most consistent with Write the Word in January. Write the Word are the guided journals that I use for my daily Scripture writing. I’ve found that copying scripture into a journal is the most effective way for me to slow down and ponder it. I stumbled across the idea last year and it’s been so helpful!

IMG_4828I wanted to establish “Morning Time” with my kids this year as well. That’s something else that needs so tweaking. Mornings just get busy for us. The kids are all jumping into their studies, I’m getting some work in, and on the list goes. Afternoon teatime work out better for our family. So, I’m working to get that into our routine. We’ve been memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism and using a great devotional book, Training Hearts, Teaching Minds, to go along with it. Each week covers one question, so it’s going to take us a couple of years to work through the whole book, but that’s OK. We also read a poem from Favorite Poems Old and New. I’ll add in a few more things as we get into more of a routine with this.

I really like the Powersheets workbook because instead of just setting yearly goals and stopping there, I set specific goals and action steps for each month. Then, at the end of the month, I can re-evaluate and change things as necessary. I work better with things broken down into more detailed plans than just a single big goal. Also, purposely re-evaluating each month makes me feel free to change my approach or even tweak my goals without guilt. Previously, I equated changing my goals/plans with failure. This tool is just one of the things that’s helped me to see that making adjustments is still positive progress.

So, what about you? How are your goals for the year shaping up?

Parenting Lessons from Mom: The Tween Years

When my daughter entered the tween years, I panicked a bit. I’d just barely started to feel more confident in my parenting and now we were entering uncharted waters. While praying for guidance, it struck me that I had a great example to follow in my own mother. So, I spent some time identifying some of the key things that she did to maintain our relationship though my angst-filled tween years.

Coffee with Mom

Every morning found Mom at the kitchen table with her coffee and her Bible. She kept the coffee that I preferred on hand, and invited me to join her at the kitchen table after waking up in the morning. Sometimes we had deep, serious conversations, and sometimes we just chatted over the latest copy of a recipe magazine. If she had come across a particular scripture in her morning devotions, then she’d show it to me, but she resisted the temptation to turn our morning coffee time into just another series of sermons. Life has gotten busy for me, but this is something that I want to practice more with my own daughter.

Talk, but Listen Too

As much as I’m described as a quiet person, I can go on and on about a topic of interest to me. It is so much harder for me to listen to someone talk about something that I find incredibly boring. I’m positive that there were plenty of times when my topic of choice was the last thing in the world that Mom was interested in, but she bit her tongue and listened. She didn’t tell me that my ideas were stupid, or act disinterested. I have to actively work at this, but it is so important for me to listen to my kids and not monopolize our conversation time. Even if it means biting my own tongue now and again!

Along for the Ride

Moms run lots of errands, and mine was no exception. Just about every time she got in the car though, she took at least one of us with her. I know that it sounds ridiculously simple, but it was a great way for us to spend time together. Car rides seem to be made for conversation, and we had a lot of good ones over the years. At times, we turned on the radio instead. Neither of us could sing on key, but we still had fun singing together! As nice as a quiet car ride sounds, it’s worth exchanging the quiet for some quality time.

Offer Hugs, but Don’t Push

I went through a phase where I would barely tolerate Mom’s hugs. I certainly was not about to hug her back! Now I realize how much that must have hurt her, but she never let on or made me feel guilty. She still hugged me, still told me that she loved me, but never forced the issue when I didn’t reciprocate. I don’t know if this is something I’ll encounter with one or all of my kids. If I do, I’ll take my cue from Mom and patiently let them know that they are loved, while waiting for them to respond in their own time.

Pray Without Ceasing

Ultimately, we don’t have as much control over how our kids’ lives turn out as we’d like to think we do. After we’ve done everything that we can, we can keep praying! I know that Mom prayed for me daily, and I had no idea as a young person how much I’d come to appreciate that later.

I know that I didn’t always make it easy for Mom, but I’m so grateful that she put so much time and effort into our relationship. Now, it’s up to me to do the same with my kids.

Thoughts for Tuesday… but on Wednesday, March 9th

Outside my windows… spring is trying to arrive, but it’s not sure if it’s staying or not. The only certainty about our weather right now, is that it will change!

Inside my house… I’m waiting anxiously to be able to throw the windows wide open for an entire day and air out all the winter stuffiness and germs. For now, I’ll content myself with cracking a window open for a few minutes.

Counting 1000 gifts… When I look at how I was feeling a year ago, there is such a difference. For that, I am deeply thankful.

Prayers of the heart… praying for the people I care about who are sick or facing surgery this week. Trying hard to pray and not worry!

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… some are outside playing, others stop by my desk for a hug.

From my playlist… “Testimony” from the Amazing Grace Broadway Musical. They just released a cast recording and I have fallen in love with this music!

From my reading list… reading… I should be reading something. Life has kept me so busy that I haven’t read much. This is very unusual for me! Time to figure out how to fit this back into my regular days…

From my needlework basket… my socks are languishing too. I should be knitting socks…

In the learning room… we are chugging away at this year’s studying, and I’m rounding up book for this fall already. The kiddos now ask when books arrive whether they are for next year, or if they can read them now. I’ve been letting them have a preview so long as they put them back in the tub of books when they are done!

Random ramblings… There’s such a jumble of things rattling around my brain today that I’m not sure what to ramble about! This year will be a roller coaster, I know that much! So many things to think about and decisions to make… For now? More tea!

Profound ponderings… “Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least.” – Goethe

Caught on film… Pretty sure that’s some kind of LEGO piece that he’s got on his thumb. I didn’t ask why…

A Place to Write

Back in the days of the wild, wild internet, I had a website. If I remember correctly, it had a bright purple background. I posted some of my bad poetry there. I honestly don’t know if anyone but me ever saw the website, but teenage Teish thought that it was very cutting-edge to have one.

Fast forward a few years past a wedding and the births of my three oldest kids, and I decided to start my own blog. At the time, knitting blogs were in their heyday, and I read a lot of them. I had visions of joining their ranks and becoming a knitting blogger. So I picked a free blog service, included “teishknits” in the web address, and named my blog… Tea and Conversation. I rarely wrote about knitting.

A little while later, my IT staff said to me, “You know, we could get you your own domain.” That’s when teishknits.com was born.

IMG_3167[1]Teish Knits has been through a few theme changes over the years, including an unfortunate phase where I crammed way too many things into the sidebar! As much as I loved showcasing some of my IT staff’s gorgeous photography in my blog header, it was time for a change.

I’ve gone for a cleaner, pared down look overall. I had to keep just a little pop of color though! It’s the perfect look for a writer.

That’s what Teish Knits has always been about for me, a place to be a writer.

Honey or Vinegar?

“You’ll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

I heard this often from my mom and grandmother. It may be one of those little sayings that it seems everyone’s grandmother knows, but there’s truth in it! You’re more likely to have pleasant interactions with others when you are kind to them.

As Christians, we have another, even more compelling reason to treat others with particular kindness and deference.

“Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” – Phillipians 2:3-4 HCSB

Admittedly, this attitude is counter-cultural, and in direct opposition to our own human tendency towards selfishness. Putting others first is certainly not my natural response, particularly if I feel that someone is being “difficult”. There are times when I show kindness more out of a sense of obligation than because I want to!

Consider this though, you have no idea what is going on behind the scenes in someone’s life. Perhaps the person who is irritable when placing their coffee order has been up most of the night in the emergency room with a loved one. The person who is angry about the mistake on their store receipt may have just lost their job. Maybe they are dealing with a chronic illness, or this is the time of year when someone they were close to passed away. It could be that they are just having a no good, very bad day!

I came across a quote attributed to Rev. John Watson that sums this up nicely.

“Be kind, for every one is fighting a hard battle.”

Remembering that everyone is dealing with something in their own lives can help us to be a little more patient and compassionate with others. We may not be able to do anything about the struggles in someone’s life, but perhaps their day will be just a bit better because someone made it a point to be kind to them.

Putting others first does not have to be merely an obligation though. Believe it or not, you can find joy and satisfaction in it. God may use your behavior to encourage someone who desperately needs it. What could be better than that?

There will, of course, be times when you have to deal with someone who just doesn’t seem to be happy with anything. As you practice being gracious to everyone, you’ll find that this is the exception rather than the rule. Most people will react positively to a gentle manner, even if things get off on the wrong foot!

“A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” – Proverbs 15:1 HCSB

The next time that you’re interacting with people, whether it’s at school, work, church, or just out and about, pause for a moment and think of how you can show kindness to them. Even better, begin with your family. You may be surprised to find a change in your social interactions as you do, and you never know who God may bless through your small acts of kindness!

Word for 2016: Story

It’s been hard for me to pick a word for 2016. I even printed off a worksheet to help me try and narrow it down to just one…

2016 is the year to tell more of my story. I don’t know exactly when, how, where, or to whom. I do know that I’ll be watching for God to show me that.

We all have a story, and it’s the stories that stay with us. Some people have big, dramatic stories. I’ve found inspiration and encouragement in many of those! Yet just because some of us have smaller, more ordinary stories, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t tell them.

My story may be one of the small ones, but God has still worked in big ways in my life.

“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comfort us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” – II Corinthians 1:3-4 HCSB

That’s what happens when we tell our stories. We share a piece of our life, and we let people see how much God has done for us. In telling our own stories, we are reminded anew, and perhaps even realize for the first time, just how much God has done for us. How much He has saved us from. How amazing that His grace really is.

Some chapters of our stories are harder to tell than others. I’ve got a few of those myself. Ironically, those are the ones where God’s grace shines through the brightest. That’s why telling our stories is important.

Have you picked “one word” for 2016? If so, I’d love to hear about it!