We'll start in the front yard. See that giant brush pile? That is one of my unexpected blessings.
My friend Gentle once told me that being newly single gives me the opportunity to learn new things. I don't remember if I said it out loud, but my initial response was that I had enough things to do already and didn't care to learn any more, thank you! But she was right. Learning new things does give me a sense of satisfaction and makes me feel more confident.
A couple of weeks back, we had a lovely Saturday, and I decided it was tree trimming day. One of my two neighbors named Steve brought over a tree trimming pole that was literally about 15 feet tall. On the end there was a curved saw and a scissor-like appendage that you could close by pulling a string.
I loved the scissor thing for the smaller branches, but it took a long time to get the hang of sawing a branch 10 feet over my head. I just couldn't keep the saw in the groove, and Steve had to take over several times, which hurt my pride. When he left, Mom came out to help me, and together we sawed down several of the crepe myrtle branches that the home inspector had said would ruin the shingles over my kitchen. As I sawed each branch, I looked up until my neck got stiff, and then I stared straight ahead while Mom guided me: "A little to the left. There, you've got it. The saw dust is coming down."
Oh the triumph of watching those big limbs fall! It was worth the blisters. But for the record, I have to admit that Steve probably cut three-fourths of the limbs in that big pile. And I'm very thankful that he was happy to help, wounded pride notwithstanding.
Okay, so come on in the front door. Here's the living room. That's my 12-year-old, perfectly serviceable couch, with two lovely new throw pillows that I found on clearance at Pier 1 after much searching and praying. They have both green to match the couch and three shades of blue which will tie into the blue walls that I will have some day. That console table under the mirror is where Fluffy used to live. I'm thankful that she's in a better place and not hurting any more.
Here is the fireplace I love, and the pretty mirror that Jackie left for me.
What I am most thankful for in my living room is memories of reading the Bible together in the evenings, sitting on the couch with Ethan on one side and Allyson on the other, trying to scratch both of their backs while simultaneously holding my page in the Bible. We're reading through Luke right now, and I think we will read the gospel of John next, which I love to read at Christmas time. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." How thrilling those verses are during the Christmas season, or any other time of the year.
Here is my dining room. I'm thankful that we listened to my sister Amy on moving day when she insisted we really could get that buffet and table into this space. I had resigned myself to storing the buffet in the garage, but see how beautiful it looks! A perfect fit. The mirror came from my bedroom, and the antique tea set from an antique shop in Nappanee, Indiana. The lamps I found, after much searching and praying, for 40% off at Hancock Fabrics when I was looking for something entirely different.
I've decorated the space above the cabinets with Ethan's and Allyson's art projects from school. I laminated them and put them each on a tiny easel that I found on sale at Hobby Lobby. I'm thankful for their amazing art teacher, who knows how to bring out their talents. And I'm thankful that they do have artistic talent, which they certainly did not get from me. Seeing their colorful paintings brightens my day.
I'm also thankful that we have tasty, nutritious meals on our table. I'm thankful for the amazing variety of fruits and vegetables I've been enjoying since starting my vegan diet last March. For example, last night I enjoyed butternut squash pasta sauce over brown rice noodles. Who would have dreamed you could make pasta sauce out of butternut squash?
Here is the freshly painted guest bath, which hopefully looks a bit less garish in person. The color combination and the shapes on the shower curtain and mirror were inspired by a hotel bathroom that I saw on our summer trip to Austin. I found both the shower curtain and the mirror on clearance at two different stores, after only a little searching and praying, on the most magical shopping day ever.
Dad painted the bathroom for me, and he did a meticulous job even with his over-80 eyes. I'm so thankful for all the hard work that Dad has done in my house, hanging pictures and weedeating and painting and wallpapering. But I'm getting ahead of myself....
What I'm most thankful for is to have Dad here with us after his battle with esophageal cancer and the horrific surgeries he endured.
Here is my bedroom, which I plan to paint a very pale lavender. Even without the paint, it's shaping up nicely. I found the down alternative comforter after LOTS of searching and praying, when I definitely wasn't looking for it. I was grocery shopping at my favorite grocery store in the world, Aldi, when I spotted that comforter for only $25!! And the purple sheets I found when I was grocery shopping at Sam's Wholesale Club. They were less than half the price I'd seen for similar sheets at Bed Bath and Beyond. I found the throw pillows on sale for half off at Bed Bath and Beyond, and I couldn't pass them up even though I was afraid they might not match the sheets. But I was wrong. They were made for each other!
There is the chair I found on the side of the road. I love to sit in it at the end of the evening and talk to God about my day.
Here's the amazing desk I found at Salvation Army for just $65. I spent almost a hundred more on American Paint Company chalk paint in Dawn's Early Light plus a shiny topcoat. This was another thing I learned to do; it was my first time to paint anything, let alone furniture. What made the experience extra special was that I did this project with my mom. It was fun learning something new together. It is very imperfect, but it's supposed to be. That's the beauty of chalk painting--that, and the fact that you don't have to sand before painting.
On top of the desk, I used the plaque that Gentle made me to hide the ugly Internet router. This plaque makes me thankful for two reasons: It reminds me of Gentle's friendship and of the growth I've experienced through Celebrate Recovery. Even today I am learning to accept what I cannot change and to focus on what I can change: my attitude.
Here is one of my favorite things about my bedroom, which I discovered on the very first day I woke up in it. Every morning, sunlight streams in that crescent window, and as my squinty eyes adjust to the light, I'm greeted with the most spectacular view of golden light dappling the green leaves. In recent weeks, I've enjoyed watching the fall colors coming in. Soon the graceful branches will be bare against the gray sky.
And now for the room you've all been waiting for....
Allyson's Ocean-Themed Room!
Gentle made the window seat cushion. She had just enough foam left over from her children's own reading nook plus the perfect piece of plywood. So all we had to do was buy the fabric, which we got for 50% off (of course!). Allyson and her friends love to sit and read here.
The sea shell mobile hanging to Allyson's left was a find from her Vancouver trip in the summer. The dolphin painting is a print from a painting by my sister Melody, an award-winning artist. Can you see how perfect the colors are for Allyson's room? You'd think she had painted it specifically for Allyson.
Allyson picked out the beach umbrella online for $16. I tried to talk her out of it because I thought the print was too busy, but it's perfect! The purple ties in with the window seat and the fish painting on the other wall.
I had bought the comforter and sheets on sale at Target for $20 each, and Allyson hated them until she saw the whole room come together. We also argued over the paint colors, but we prayed about it together and were able to come to an agreement at last.
Allyson picked out the orca whale wallpaper border online, and Mom and Dad put it up one day while I was working. They did an excellent job, and every time we look at it we are reminded of their love.
Here is Allyson's amazing dresser, hand painted with love by my dear friend Jenny. The starfish drawer pulls I found on sale for 50% off at multiple Hobby Lobbies. It was worth all the running around to hear her squeals of delight when we unveiled the dresser.
Do you remember how the dresser looked before? Here, this will refresh your memory:
It was a hand-me-down from my sister Emily's daughters, who received it as a hand-me-down from my brother's daughter Mindy. I think Rick and Diane got their money's worth out of that dresser!
And remember this desk that I found on the side of the road after making two wrong turns on the way to drop Ethan off at the school one morning?
Well, here's how it looks now! And that lovely original oil painting was another Salvation Army find. When Allyson spotted it, I told her we might not be able to afford it. And then I saw the price tag: six dollars!
This is a project Allyson and Daddy made for her new room. It has pictures of all of us on the beach.
I'm so thankful for how this room turned out, and for all the help from family and friends. Allyson and I still marvel over how we managed to pick out so many things online and in so many stores, all before we found the perfect paint combination, and yet everything blends perfectly. We both know that was God. I'm so thankful that he cares about the little things that matter to us.
Well, now you've seen most of my house. I will show you Ethan's room when we get around to decorating it. But here is the futon that we got for free from Jackie. He says it is very comfortable.
Who's that in the picture with the futon? That's sweet Arwen, who is such a joy. Next to her is the dorm fridge that Ethan got from his dad. I'm sure he's very thankful for that.
I hope you've enjoyed your visit. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.