Learning To Love, FRIENDS (Week 2)

Valentine’s Day has come and gone! Naturally, I got behind on posting weekly about my Learning to Love Study. 😉 So…even though the holiday is officially over, I will still finish out the four weeks of the Learning to Love Bible Study.

Before I get into that, though, I have to tell you about our exciting Valentine’s weekend! Abe, Kali, and I had a beautiful weekend celebrating, and I got a very special present on Saturday. For years, I have been saying I will get my ears pierced. Like for the first time. Once I was finally old enough that my parents would let me get them done, I had lost all desire. I wasn’t big into earrings, and the thought of a needle stabbing my earlobe wasn’t worth it to me. By the time I got to college and was in a dorm full of ear-pierced girls, the idea was starting to grow on me. I kept thinking that one of these days I’ll just go get it done.

College came and went, and I still hadn’t found enough courage to do it yet. My sister, Tricia, also had never pierced her ears, and was begging me to go with her. (You would think by the time we’re in our twenties we could be independent of each other…but nope.) I told her we would both go get it done whenever the first one of us got engaged, so we could wear beautiful earrings at the wedding. Thenn…my wedding came and went. I just cannot find the desire to willingly get TWO needles. Now Kali (my step-daughter) is turning five and is also begging me to get hers pierced. Her father…my ABRAHAM…told her she can’t have her ears pierced unless Mom does. (He did that on purpose!) Honestly, I could probably go my whole life without pierced ears and not care too much. I think Abe and Tricia were both finally understanding that, because they came up with a secret “surprise” for me. Abe’s Valentine’s gift to Tricia, Kali, and me was to take us all to the mall and get our ears pierced. I think he knew if it was a romantic “gift” from him I wouldn’t be able to turn it down! 😉 So I now, FINALLY, have pierced ears. And believe me, I did not like those needles. Kali went first, and was amazingly brave. No tears, and only one grimace when the needles went in. Great, now I have to be brave. Then Tricia was second, because I was hyperventilating. (I’m serious.) She was SO calm and didn’t even blink her eyes! Finally it was my turn. If you could have only heard the battle going on in my mind. “You have to do this–No I don’t.  You want to do this–Yeah…not really. Abe just paid money for this–Ok I’ll do it. It won’t hurt–YES IT WILL. You’ll be able to wear earrings–So what. Kali said she’ll hold your hand…she is on cloud nine looking in the mirror–Ok I’ll do it.” 

Somehow I managed to sit still until they shot those little studs in my ears. It wasn’t too bad, and I can honestly say I am excited about the earrings I’ll be able to wear. I admitted to Abe I’m glad I did it, even glad that he cornered me into it! ❤

 

I’ve been continuing with my Learning to Love Bible Study by Darlene Schacht. (For a link to her study see my last post Learning to Love Week 1.) This week we studied the friendship type of love.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen or done any other study on love between friends. Somehow the other types of love seem more important. Love for your spouse, love for family, love for God and His Word/ministry seem to all overshadow any type of friendship love. But there are tons of stories about faithful friends throughout the Bible. Jesus called Himself our “friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Growing up next-door to a family with kids the same age as all of the kids in my family, I have always treasured the verse in Proverbs “Better is a neighbor that is near, than a brother that is far off.” Friends are important!

God valued friendships enough to teach about and give examples of them in His Word. This week I’ve enjoyed learning about some of the famous friendships in the Bible. Here’s what I learned about friendship love this week:

  1. Love speaks up, stands up, and shows up for its friends. (David and Jonathon)
  2. Love cares for friends even when they hurt you. (Job)
  3. Love is faithful to friends at their lowest points. (David and Ittai)
  4. Love generously thinks of the comfort of others. (David and Ittai)

I’ve added more prayer requests in my notebook this week. I can think of some friends right now that can relate to one or more of these points. I have a friend that I could speak up for right now; a friend that I can forgive and care for even though they have hurt me; a friend that is going through a hard time; and in general I can always think of the other person first and what might make them more comfortable.

Do you have friend situations in your mind right now that you need to be a faithful friend in? I’m inspired to love my friends more, and be the friend God wants me to be.

Hope you are enjoying this snowy February! Hard to believe March is right around the corner. Don’t forget to go stock up on Valentine’s Candy that’s on sale this week! 🙂

Love,

❤ Flossie

Miracles and Broken Vessels

I love this song at the end of her post. Read the words–the “child once crippled” who walks now: I always think of my Kali! From being told she would never be able to sit up, to running and walking in a normal school setting. God is powerful, and miracles do happen! 🙂 Happy Monday!

thepassionategirl

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Miracles and Broken Vessels

     For the year of 2016, I decided to focus on one word a month. In December of 2015, I wrote down multiple words that I want to study from the Bible and I chose 12: one for each month of the year. As a teacher, I glanced through the Bible curriculum that I will be teaching up until May, just to see if there were any words that could coincide with what I will be teaching. I found that at the end of January, I will be teaching about miracles and I immediately knew what word I was going to study in January. Miracles.

      As someone who sees the world through rose-colored glasses, I think that not only is my entire life a miracle, but also little events that happen throughout the days, I categorize as “Miracles.” For instance, I woke…

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Sunday Situations (True Stories from a Church Pianist)

Church music.

The venue that gives a musician the most experience and the most inconvenience; the most encouragement, and the most anguish; and the most opportunities to mess up a whole service.

The church pianist and organist (in a traditional worship service at least) hold the power to turn a serious, worshipful service into a laughable circus act. I have seen it done before, and I have unfortunately contributed to it myself, too.

For example, have you ever stood up with your hymnbook ready to sing out a strong “I Sing The Mighty Power of God,” only to have the organist come in at a different key than the piano? The single notes in that beginning phrase is a nightmare to start out in different keys. At least other hymns have chords that blend in the wrong notes…

One time I used the offering prayer to put my big, bulky offertory notebook up on the piano rack. Unfortunately, as I was pulling the heavy thing up from the floor, I accidentally bumped it too hard on the music rack and the entire rack crashed down onto the soundboard. In the quietness of the prayer, the crash seemed to just echo through the entire building. More than one jumped at the noise, including the usher praying. From a startling crash to an usher’s voice cracking…there wasn’t much recovering from that. 😉

Another time I managed to sit (yes–SIT.) on the piano keys as I was heading back to my seat in the audience. It’s another whole blog post to explain how that happened…but just know that a lot more notes are played when you sit on the keys, than when you accidentally bump the keys with your fingers.

There was the time I forgot my choir music and the whole church waited five minutes while I ran back to the choir room to grab an extra copy. There was another time when I brought the wrong choir music and began the introduction, only to stop when the director stopped directing to stare at me in confusion. Five minutes later, I was back with the right music. 😀

Oh, and did I mention the time I forgot to come back to play for the choir all together? We have two morning services, and I play for both. I sit through the whole first morning service, then leave for my Sunday School Class after the choir sings in the second service. Except for that one Sunday–I just went to Sunday School right away and completely forgot about playing in the second service.  Halfway through Sunday School I had a heart attack and grabbed Abe’s arm with a death grip. I whispered in a panic, “I FORGOT TO GO BACK TO THE SECOND SERVICE AND PLAY FOR CHOIR!” His eyes got big for a minute and then he laughed and laughed. Ohh welll…. The pink slip’s coming! 😉

My final and most mortifying mistake regarding church music took place one summer at my grandparents’ church in Marcus Hook. The majority of members in their church are elderly, and the pianist had some type of health problem making her unable to play for a while. I was home on break from college, and my Mommom asked if I could come a couple Sundays to help out with the piano playing. Everything went great for the most part. Then one Sunday they had a special speaker—-an older, white-haired, distinguished-looking preacher. I played the hymns and offertory then sat with my grandparents. Then.. the preaching started. Maybe it was how late I stayed up the night before, or maybe it was the mono-syllable flow of his voice and lack of main points. (I have to admit…I am used to hand-outs with lots of fill-ins, exciting illustrations, and PowerPoint presentations that display the main points of a sermon…) Anyway, whatever the reason, I found myself slightly day-dreaming and spacey…my mind was everywhere except the service. I could tell it was going to be a long morning as the message seemed to go on and on. I was ready for him to say  a final “Let’s Pray” so I could go  play the invitation song softly in the background while he invited sinners to be saved. Then my job would be done and I could go get lunch. Finally, I heard those relieving words: “Let’s Pray.” I glanced at my phone and was shocked to see that only twenty minutes had passed. Wow! We lucked out today–a short message! I quickly headed up to the piano and began playing “Just As I Am” as beautifully and emotionally as I could.

Suddenly, I heard the special speaker ending his prayer without an invitation. I started playing even quieter than before, suspicion forming in my mind that maybe I missed something… I glanced at the schedule of the service on my right…Yes, this is the right song. There’s no special announcements at the end, so I think this is right… Maybe I should have went to bed earlier last night, why does my brain feel like it’s in such a fog? Then, the speaker said “Amen,” and turned to stare directly at me. I continued playing softer and then just awkwardly faded out and stopped playing. Why my brain could not grasp the situation, I do not know, but I was still sitting there confused when the preacher smiled and said, “Young lady, that sounded beautiful, but that was just my opening prayer after my introduction. I’ve still got a whole sermon to go before we sing that song.” Twitters of laughter spread throughout the congregation as my dreams of a short sermon and lunch receded and my utter mortification increased. I managed to make it back to my seat and somehow made it through another forty-minute sermon. By the time we made it to lunch I was able to enjoy a good long laugh with my parents and grandparents about it. But I will ALWAYS remember that humiliating moment of realization, that I-can’t-believe-I-just-did-that feeling, that deep wish to go back and erase that decision from history. But alas, since that is not possible, I will continue to always have a most-embarrassing moment to share without even having to stop and think about it. 🙂

Do you have a humorous church music story to share? I’ve heard many from my musician friends, and could probably make LOTS of posts out of the stories I’ve collected. From showing up to direct the choir wearing only a slip for a skirt, to accidentally pressing the demo button on the electric keyboard. I’d love to hear yours, too!

I have to add that there are plenty of inspiring and rewarding moments involved in being a church musician, too. I love playing for my church, even with all the possibilities for mixing up the order of the service. 😉

Within the next few weeks I’m hoping to post some more church music helps–PDF’s of hymn arrangements I’ve made, as well as hymn-playing tips. Stay tuned!

Happy Sunday!

~Flossie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Life, 2015

Recently I clicked on that “Most Used Words on Facebook” link that I noticed most of my friends sharing. It showed the words used most in your status posts in a neat little word cloud. I’ll show you mine, because it goes perfectly with my 2015 post. I think you can see from the large letters what my life was like this past year! 🙂

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As I close out this crazy year of life changes and firsts, I realize how much Kali and I have grown and changed together. Abe and I have grown as a married couple (hey, we made it through the first year!!) but the differences for Kali and me are more noticeable. So this New Year’s Eve post is dedicated to my special little girl and the bond we made this year. (And sorry, Abe–but Kali’s name is just bigger than yours on my Most Used Words cloud! 😉 ) 

Life with Kali

#1 thing I learned this year: Kids grow SOOO fast!! It is hard to believe that this time last year Kali was a little toddler who needed me to carry her up the stairs, lift her onto couches and her bed, and kind of basically do EVERYTHING for her. Now she is a tall-for-her-age beauty who walks on her own, is fully potty trained, and has a better sense of style than I do! Her confidence has sky-rocketed this year. And so has mine.

She is more confident in my love for her. She doesn’t ask Grammy any more if her mommy will “love her forever, or just for a little bit.” (And break my heart!)

I am more confident in her love for me too. No matter how many times it happens, it touches my heart every time when she wants me over all else. I love when she runs past her dad so he doesn’t grab her (it’s a morning ritual haha) to get to my side of the bed so I can pull her up and cuddle before we have to wake up. I love when we’re at church and she tells everyone around her that that’s her mommy playing the piano up front.

I’ve seen my confidence grow in the area of parenting. And trust me–I’m no expert!! But I’ve noticed that a key, at least for me, is knowing Kali. I’ve read a lot of books trying to get a handle on the whole instant-mom deal, have gone to parenting classes at our church, and watched other parents. But only Abe and I really know Kali, and sometimes all that stuff just doesn’t work. Kali and I went through a lot of rough patches this past year. It wasn’t easy going from “best-friend/sleepovers-every-week” during the engagement phase to just mom.

I remember one day she was being pretty difficult–nothing too crazy, just a lot of whining… and crying… and acting like I was the most terrible person on earth. 😉 I went into her room to tell her she had to put her night braces on, and she burst out crying yet again. “You ALWAYS make me wear my braces! I don’t WANT to wear them!!” At that point, after the whole rough day, I was ready to cry myself. I couldn’t handle our repeated conversation with her about why she needed to wear them, and definitely couldn’t handle a battle where I just made her wear them. Just from lack of knowing what else to do, I picked her up, sat on her bed, and just rocked her in my lap for a little while. I was tired of trying to have all the answers like “real moms” do (in my opinion at the time).

I was a little shocked when just a little later she stopped crying and hugged my neck and told me she loved me. She seemed calmer and easier to deal with, we got her night braces on with no problem, and she was even laughing and begging me to read her a book. It was a miracle from God and I thanked Him for getting me through!

#2 thing I learned: Kids pick up on and copy actions that you might not even know you’re doing!

I can’t tell you how many times Kali will say something and I wonder where she heard that, only to find out I had said it! I didn’t realize I said this one certain phrase a lot–“If I said it’s time for bed, it’s time for bed!” and “If I said it’s not, it’s not!”  Then we got in the car one day and Kali said it’s sunny out. Abe and I looked at each other, and Abe said, “Actually it’s pretty cloudy, Kali.” Kali replied without blinking an eye: “Daddy, if I said it’s sunny, it’s sunny!” Ahhh!!! Abe definitely knew where that one came from. 😉

But then there are the times when I didn’t know it was possible to feel so proud of someone. Like when she picks up on my teaching habits, and teaches her dolls how to play the piano–with lots of praise for how well they do! Or when I realize that what I’m saying might actually be getting through to her–like when she uses please and thank you without being told.

I’ll end with one of the most rewarding moments of my year.

(BESIDES when she went a week with no accidents and finally was potty trained–I HONESTLY was more excited on that day than I was at my highschool graduation!) 

We were at a family gathering, and all the cousins were eating at a smaller table in a different room from the adults table. At our house, Abe and I always pray before meals with Kali, and she loves to beg us to let her pray for the meal. She and I also pray before lunch at school. In the busyness of getting all the kids their food and drinks and being all together, I didn’t even think about praying before the meal. Suddenly I heard Kali’s high, loud voice above all the commotion–“MOMMM!! We didn’t pray!!” Apart from being a little embarrassed as all the eyes in the room turned to me, I felt an enormous sense of satisfaction that my girl remembered and wanted to make sure we prayed before we ate. I quietly told her she can pray for herself and her cousins, then the whole room got quiet as my little Kali prayed in her cute little way.

I realized that day that investing in the life of another person is worth it. Whether you are a step-parent, biological parent, teacher, mentor, friend–any time you make a difference in someone’s life, all the struggle is worth it. I’ll go through a thousand more nights waking up to Kali’s cries at 2am and rubbing her legs for 15 minutes until she falls back asleep because the night braces hurt her so much. I’ll take the extra 10…15…20 minutes it takes to get out the door each day with her in tow. LOVE does that to you somehow, you know??

I wouldn’t trade a single day with you this year, Kal-Pal, and can’t wait to see how much you grow in 2016. I love you so much. ❤ Mom

 kali an me

P.S. Goals for 2016??

Abe and I are cutting Facebook out of our life this year, just for one year. We’re focusing on our family and limiting distractions. I’m committing to wake up earlier and exercise…yeah, yeah, that’ll last about a month. 😉 We’re saving to go to Disney…if that dream will ever come true, for Kali AND for me! And we’re praying about decisions for the best option for Kali’s schooling. We are so thankful for all that God has brought us through this year, and all that He has in store for 2016.

Happy New Year!!

 

 

The Closing of A Chapter

A great memoir of college student-teaching, so proud of all this girl has overcome to touch the next generation. Excellent definition of a balanced teacher and classroom! 🙂 Love her! ❤

thepassionategirl

            “A good teacher is like a candle- it consumes itself to light the way for others.”

           Today I ended a long, wonderful journey of seeing God’s redemptive plan on a daily basis. The experience was phenomenal. In my opinion, clinical practice as an education major at Bob Jones University is worth the $65,000 dollar education. Walking across the stage in two days seems so minute compared to the life-to-life connections and relationship experiences that I have encountered over the past four years, but more specifically in the last four months. Teaching in a public school in Greer, South Carolina has taught me a plethora of lessons, which I will try to abbreviate. 🙂

      To get everything out on the table, I know that there is controversy of teaching in a Christian school or teaching in a public…

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Heart to Heart

Happy February!

Since I’ve started keeping up with my blog, I have a whole folder on my computer of started blog posts, ideas for future posts, lists, etc. that I want to post at some point. I was actually feeling like I had too many ideas to keep up with! Now it’s been a little over a week since I last posted, and I just wasn’t feeling any of my topics or previously started posts. So I thought I would post something random about February–my favorite month of the year–and maybe that will boost my inspiration again!

January seems like a “cold” winter month to me, while February seems to be a “warm/cozy” winter month. I don’t know why that is–maybe it’s just me! But seeing all of the Valentines decorations and crafts out in the stores, looking forward to President’s Day off school, and knowing it’s my birthday month have always made me love February. Yup–I’m going to be 25 in 5 days! That is really hard to believe. (I just got an inspiration for a birthday post! That’ll keep me going for another week 🙂 ) So today I am going to share a story that has to do with my husband Abe and my birthday, and then I’ll post some Valentines inspiration. Hope you enjoy this post!

When Abe and I were just beginning to talk, but weren’t officially dating yet, we went out to eat with a group of friends, and the conversation came up about what age is the perfect age to get married. Some friends said early twenties, late twenties, etc. (I’m thinking in my head, the earlier the better! At age 23 at the time, I had already noticed that my Grandmother had been married three years by that time, my mom was about to have her first baby when she was 23, and my sister-in-law was married and pregnant at that age. And I, on the other hand, was sitting there with my other single friends who all lived at home and worked during the week and went out on the weekends to talk about the perfect age to get married!)

ANYWAY, one particular friend of ours mentioned that he thought 30 was the perfect time to marry and settle down. I hadn’t been saying much in the conversation, but I couldn’t help making a comment there…I told the table that if I wasn’t married by the time I was 25, then I didn’t want to get married at all. Abe was sitting next to me and started laughing when I said that, and I immediately felt a little embarrassed. I didn’t want to scare him off! I just stubbornly wanted to be like all the other females in my family and be a young mom and young grandmother, and if I couldn’t be a young bride than I didn’t want to be a bride at all. (So I might definitely have some of my Poppop Koechig’s blood in me…)

Shortly after that conversation, I went on a missions trip to Vanuatu. While I was there, I saw and did and experienced tons of crazy, life-changing things. I remember one particular day, early in the morning (you have not experienced a beautiful, warm, listen-to-the-birds early morning until you have been to Vanuatu!) that God was working on my heart in the area of giving over every desire to Him. My wish to be married before I was 25 kept coming to my mind–I did NOT want to give that over to Him. I did NOT  want to be married as an older lady! But I finally surrendered to Him, and told Him that I give my life to Him– If I’m supposed to get married later, than that is the best way my life could go. Now, I had to pray that again several times when the anxious thoughts and worries came back, but I never struggled with the heartache nearly as much as I had before that trip.

Now fast-forward to July, 2014. One of these days I will share our full engagement story, but for now just know that after the thrilling jump and parachutes were up and the sign was seen and the ring was on my finger, one of the first conversations we had was about when we wanted to get married. We had two options–do a 6-month engagement and have a winter wedding, or wait almost a year until spring. Being the slow decision-maker that I am, I wanted to weigh all the options and pros and cons of each. To Abe, the decision was simple. I remember him smiling at me and saying, “I don’t care what date you want as long as it’s before February 10, 2015.” Do I have an awesome guy or what?? And I have an awesome God too…who wants to give us the desires of our hearts! We joked about how if we don’t get married before then, we won’t be able to get married because I vowed that I wouldn’t get married after 25. I’ve always wanted a Christmas wedding anyway, so our December 19th date was finally set, and I was married at the medium-old age of 24. As I’m so close to turning 25 now, I can’t help but continually thinking of that story and how God worked out my life for me in His perfect way and timing, and how giving over all my stubborn desires is definitely the best way to go. Even if He doesn’t work it all out exactly how I want it…His way is still best!

So there’s my heartwarming story for this week before Valentines. Have you ever had a desire that you gave over to God, and He gave it back to you better than you could have imagined? I hope so! I’ve also had experiences when He gave back something entirely different, but that was still just right. I hope you recognize and look for those times, and thank God for all that He does in your life. I know I have so much to thank Him for!

Enjoy your Valentines Day!

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Just love this! Here’s the link: http://moneysavingmom.com/2011/01/24-valentines-cards-for-2-49-shipped.html but looks like you could DIY it too!

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This is cute and looks easy!

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Creative Ways to Stay In Touch (When Your Friends Live Far Away)

62c049e82db4c40674b934e7a9a00443One of my favorite shows to watch is the old show “I Love Lucy.” In fact, occasionally I love to have a date night with Abe and stay home, order food, and watch I Love Lucy. Besides the hilarious Lucy/Ricky disputes, I think the adventurous best-friend relationship between Lucy and Ethel is one of my favorite parts of the show. I’ve told Abe before that there’s a part of me that wishes I lived in the 50s when milk was delivered to your door and your neighbor was your best friend. But today our world is so different from Lucy and Ethel’s…now, our neighbors are strangers and our closest friends are sometimes miles away! Maybe because very few people marry their highschool sweetheart and live their whole life in the same place these days? Or it could be that so many go off to college in a different state, different town, and make close friends from all over the world. Whatever the reason, lots of us are finding ourselves with contacts all over the country and it can be hard to stay in touch. I’ve kept in contact with several of my college friends, as well as some of my parents’ old friends, and thought I would give a few ideas of what helps to keep in touch.

Let’s start with the obvious, Facebook. I have one friend in particular from college who, after graduation, moved to Vienna, Austria. I can’t remember exactly how it started, but I believe I messaged her on Facebook the summer after we graduated, prior to her wedding, to wish her congratulations and say I’m sorry I couldn’t be there. We then started up a thread of messages that have lasted for three years! We still message quite often, and I feel as if we are very close and up-to-date on each other’s lives, even though we didn’t see each other in person for over two years.

When communicating over Facebook, I’ve found a few tricks to make it more meaningful.

  • Be Open –if you’re in a busy season of life, and your friend sent pages of messages filling you in on life, don’t be afraid to send a short note back saying your life is hectic at the moment, but can’t wait to “reply more later” (Alayna and I used that phrase all the time!) and then give a time frame when you think you’ll be able to reply.
  • Include stories –if you’re really trying to keep a close friendship thousands of miles apart, take the time to be specific or tell a story. For instance, Alayna and I both are piano teachers, and we often would trade funny teaching stories or mistakes, etc. It kept us excited and looking forward to the next message!
  • Allow for enough time –occasionally, I found myself reading her messages at a good time for me to reply right away. Don’t do that to your friend!! Read it, and make a mental note to reply in a few days, or weeks. When they need a week or two or three to reply, and you continually send back long messages an hour or two after they wrote, it can get tiring and create pressure. Take a step back and let some time pass, then go back and write what’s been going on recently.

Secondly, let’s look at Snail Mail. Do you know how many creative ways you can stay in touch using the old-fashioned postal system?? I had two particular close girlfriends my senior year of college. They were both graduate students who would be graduating the same year as I graduated with my bachelors. We hit it off in so many ways, but one of our favorite things to do was gather in Emily’s room late at night, do puzzles, and watch, of course…I Love Lucy! Since all three of us loved puzzles so much, and were heading three different directions after spending an entire year doing everything together, we came up with a plan. We each bought puzzles from the dollar store. Then we split up the pieces in our puzzle evenly into two plastic bags. So for my puzzle (a cat in a wheelbarrow in a garden), I gave Emily a bag with half of the pieces in it, and Maria a bag with the other half. Then we parted our ways, taking each other’s puzzle pieces with us. Over the course of two and a half years, we wrote back and forth to each other, and included a puzzle piece in each letter. We slowly began building our puzzles…I kept mine on my dresser, and I cannot tell you how exciting it was to continuously get letters in the mailbox and rush back to see if it matched any of my other pieces! I have to admit, it was easier to stay in touch with my Facebook friend. It was MUCH harder to find time to hand-write a letter, but it was SO worth it. For those of you who are puzzle lovers, this is a terrific, fun, and special way to keep in touch.

Here are some more fun, cheap ways to use snail mail:

  • Use a special code—either a made-up language (pig-latin, the “Ob” Language, etc.), pictures, or numbers indicating certain pages and words in a book you both have. The options are endless if you use your imagination!
  • Start a newsletter. This works best for kids—if your far-away friends have children the same age as yours, make up your own wacky newsletter/paper and send it out to them. It could include birthday dates and wish-lists, highlights of certain members of either family, funny stories, or upcoming events. Cute pictures and bold fonts will capture their attention and keep the kids looking for the next one!
  • Send a care package. This is more familiar to most everyone—loads of ideas on Pinterest! Pick one you like and customize it to your recipient!
  • Don’t forget to decorate the envelopes, and include postcards from anywhere fun you’ve been.

Have more snail mail ideas? Let me know! The puzzle pieces idea gets my imagination running to think of other things that could work like that, but let me know if you think of anything else!

Lastly, I’m grouping together Email, Phone Calls, and Visits. If you’re not into Facebook, emails can be used pretty much the same way as messages so look back up to the first point. However, I did want to just say that if you’re not really into emailing back and forth or used to writing long emails, you can use this to network and keep connections open. I would never Facebook message my college professor with my most recent embarrassing moment, but I have sent out a brief, kind email to thank them for their time with me at school and let them know how I’m doing professionally. I always tried to include a memory that I missed from their classes or involvement in my life, and have always received a kind, positive response back. Teachers especially like to hear back from old students and know that their teaching has made a difference! And it helps to keep your name out there too. Email or hand-written letters are best for that type of keeping in contact.

I have a friend who has friends literally all over the country and world. And on top of just having friends all over the world, she actually calls them and will spend hours talking to all of her friends! I’ve seen her hang up her phone after telling a particular friend all the recent developments in her life, then dial a new number and repeat the story again! I could never do that. I despise talking on the phone. I used to be worse than I am now—I used to literally not be able to answer the phone, and let everything go to voicemail. If it was important I called or texted back, and if not…oh well! Now that I’m older, I’m much better than I used to be. But I still don’t like it! My sister and I are best friends, and we only once in a blue moon have phone conversations. When I was dating Abe, I have to admit we did talk on the phone occasionally but neither of us are that into it either. We did like to hear each other’s voices though, especially if we hadn’t seen each other in a while. So if you are one of those people who like to talk for hours on the phone, I’m sure this is a great way to stay in touch. Here are a few ideas, from my limited phone-talking experience, that you could try:

  • Watch a movie together. This is for super close friends, or dating relationships. Super close friends are the ones who you probably talked to for hours yesterday getting caught up, and there’s not much new today. Abe and I hadn’t seen each other for a couple days (horrific, I know) and we watched Aladdin “together” on the phone. We pressed play at the same time, and listened to it all together while holding the phone.
  • Play games—like I Spy (it’s possible! Just modify J Tell them what room of the house you are in if they are familiar with your house, and then let them blind guess. If they don’t know your house…don’t play this game 🙂 ) or a rhyming game.
  • Ask questions—make a list ahead of time.
  • Call when you have plenty of time and a quiet space to talk.
  • Make sure your phone battery is charged!

Finally, I hope you make time to visit your friends! It’s a great way to get some travelling in and experience that face-to-face friendship again. My family has friends that live in Tennessee, but vacation in our Eastern PA area every summer. So once a year, after liking each other’s pictures on Facebook and loosely keeping up on their lives, we have desserts and conversations that normally keep us up way into the night hours. And surprisingly, we feel very close to their family. We don’t send regular messages on Facebook, have long phone calls or even send post cards, but just a yearly visit with lots of laughter and animated stories keeps our hearts knitted close.

In summary, the key to staying close is to make them a priority. To some it can be a matter of insecurity—you go from being best friends or roommates or whatever the case, to “out of sight, out of mind.” I know that there were some that I would have liked to keep in contact with, but had no reason to message or email and felt insecure just reaching out. Don’t be afraid to start the conversations—most of the time the other person is thrilled and excited to have a chance to keep a lifelong friend!

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Any experience having close friends who live far away? Would love any more ideas!

~Flossie

Let It Snow

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I don’t know about you, but there’s something about snow that gives me this energy and excitement, and a generally good outlook on life. Maybe it’s from a deep-rooted remembrance of waking up to snow and hearing that school has been cancelled, and then having the most wonderful day with family and neighbors sledding, drinking hot chocolate, and watching movies in front of a fireplace. Snow days were just such happy days! J I thought I would share some encouraging blessings, websites, and verses that came my way yesterday and lifted my spirits. Hopefully they will lift yours too, if you are in need of a renewing “snow day” too!

So yesterday, when I got the news that our school was closing at 12:30 due to snow and icy roads, I was more uplifted than usual by a snow day. It always amazes me how God knows exactly what we need, and has control over the whole UNIVERSE and can make things work for our good.

My grandmom told me a story once when I was younger that I’ve always remembered—she said when she was a girl and lived in a poor county in South Carolina, she would have to work out in the cotton fields with her brothers all day in the hot summer sun. She said she used to just pray that God would give her one tiny bit of shade. She told me, in her aged faith-steeped tone of voice, that “He always did”—He always sent a little cloud for a little while or some other form of shade to give her some relief.

I remember wanting that same story of faith—to be able to say, “He always did.”  So when I went into school overwhelmed, barely able to pray but quoting over and over in my mind Ps. 62:1 “Lead me to that rock that is higher than I,” I was intensely relieved and awed to think that He sent beautiful snow to remind me how much He loves me. I surprised myself by how positive I was feeling as I drove home, knowing that I would have the rest of the day with Kali, the house, Abe (when he got home), and beautiful snow. My car radio was on 107.5, and I happened to hear James MacDonald’s “Trusting God in Crisis” message. It was exactly what I needed! I was so thankful that God cared enough to allow some of the pressure in my heart to ease by giving me some time to get stuff done. He also knew that I needed to hear His truth that afternoon, and wouldn’t have heard it if I were teaching piano lessons. God is so good!

I picked up Kali, and spent my snow day putting the house in order. J By the time we got home, it was time for Kali’s nap—she went right to sleep and slept four hours!! I set up the ipad on my kitchen counter and found James MacDonald’s website, and listened to that same sermon three times in a row while I washed and dried dishes, emptied some trash, cleaned the kitchen, and swept the floors then used the Swiffer. Then when I moved into the dining room and piano room to sweep the floors and straighten up stuff, I found other sermon series on the site that were interesting to listen to. (BTW—I’m not sure I agree with all of MacDonald’s views—this was the first I had ever heard of him, but he is an excellent speaker and you should check out his “Always True” series on walkintheword.com, under broadcasts. If you want to be encouraged by God’s promises and faithfulness, it will definitely bless your heart.) Anyway, by the time I made it upstairs to tackle our overflowing spare room, Kali was waking up. By now it was snowing heavy and gorgeous outside, so we looked out the window a little while before going downstairs to do wash together (she LOVES helping me do laundry) and then watch a movie.

Through all of these little normal happenings, I realized I have so much to be thankful for. I have a house to clean! I have an ipad to listen to sermons on while I clean—my grandmother never had that! I have a daughter who is adorable all the time, but especially when she’s still sleepy from a nap and just wants me to hold her. And I know that I won’t always be able to have quiet afternoons at home while kids are napping and snow is falling, but I’m thankful that I’m in that stage of life right now and can enjoy it while I have it. And maybe in a few years when no one takes naps anymore and the schedule is just as busy and the snow never comes…I will still be able to trust my God, because I know that He loves me and His love never changes, no matter what happens in my life.

Psalm 116:1-2 “I love the Lord, because He hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because He hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live.”

Maybe we all could use a spiritual snow day…I know I need those times where I can listen to messages, read my Bible, or just enjoy the beautiful scenery around me. Our church’s theme this year is “Renew”—I hope you can take the time to renew your heart and find God in the midst of whatever you’re going through right now!

Eat It or Starve!

“Today’s Menu: Eat It or Starve!” I need to get this hanging in my kitchen somewhere! I am not, and never have been, an extraordinary cook. In fact, not much in the kitchen is familiar to me. Growing up, I was always the one that had music lessons, piano competitions, cheerleading practice, or other busy activities that kept me out of the kitchen. My younger sister, however, got enough kitchen time for both of us! She became very good at both cooking and baking. To this day, at family gatherings Tricia brings home-made cheesecake, delicious strawberry pretzel jello, or perfectly soft cookies. Me on the other hand? I feel accomplished when I bring brownies that I added chocolate chips to!

So last Friday night, with a fire going in the fireplace and snow outside, I decided to actually do what I’ve pinned a million times—Meal Plan! I read lots of blogs and got ideas from Pinterest, but I ended up combining some of their ideas and making my own plan that works for me. One blogger plans food for the whole month, takes a couple of hours on Saturday morning and buys ALL the ingredients that she’ll need, and then spends a few hours sorting and putting food away and storing it in her basement. Another blogger writes meal names (ex. Spaghetti) on decorative cards, then puts the recipe and ingredients on the back of the cards, and hangs them on a pretty calendar board on her fridge. Then, each week, she takes a card and clips it to each day of the week, and does her planning week-by-week.

I printed out some healthy recipes from Pinterest (we’re trying to eat healthy in 2015), and started my planning. I used my January calendar and planned for the next two weeks in January. Then the next day, Saturday, Abe and Kali and I went to Home Depot and Aldi’s (we love doing family trips to those two stores that are right next to each other—almost every weekend!) and we bought a long list of ingredients that I had made after going through my meal plan recipes on Friday. So yesterday was my first day on the meal plan—chicken avocado burritos. We loved them, and they were actually really easy!! I’ll share the recipe below, but it is SOO nice and freeing to have a schedule of meals. I like doing it on a two-week basis, too, instead of a month, because I have a better idea of our schedule and can plan the meals accordingly. (For instance, I knew that tonight we have a meeting at 4:00, then going to King of Prussia to pick up some furniture, so a big lasagna dinner wouldn’t work. Also, 7 AM-7 PM is a little long for a crockpot, so I found a quick recipe for “French Bread Pizza.” It’s healthier than store-bought or frozen pizzas, and I can add whatever I want on top. Again, I love the freedom of knowing ahead of time and then being able to adjust it to whatever you want!)

Now, I did leave some days empty. Saturdays and Sunday I left open—either for leftovers, for going out, for visiting our parents, or for trying a new meal if I have lots of time. I also left some days like tomorrow, Wednesday, open—because I’ll be on the rotation of teen visitation and won’t be home until 5:15, and also because we want to have one night a week for pizza night and we just might pick Wednesdays. J I love meal-planning because it gives you a general structure and schedule, but is soo flexible and can be changed when needed. If we go out unexpectedly, I can save a meal for the next night or save it for an open night.

Do you meal plan? Do you have a method that you love and that works for your family? Abe and I are excited (especially after the success the first day) to eat healthy and not be stressed about dinner. Kali is still in the chicken nuggets/macaroni stage, but we are working on introducing more foods to her taste buds. 🙂  She still enjoyed helping me meal plan though!

~Flossie


Burrito Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • Half jalapeno pepper, diced (Can use the whole thing if you like spicy!)
  • 2 cups Mexican mix cheese (Can use mozzerella, chedder, taco cheese, whatever you like!)
  • Four large tortillas
  • 1 Tbs olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat.
  2. Mix chicken, pepper, and cheese in a bowl together.
  3. Spread out one tortilla, and put 1/4 of the mix in the tortilla.
  4. Fold up the tortilla like a burrito (I’m not that talented at stuff like that, mine were falling all over the place but still tasted good. :)) and place in the skillet.
  5. Heat on one side for about 2-3 minutes, then flip and heat the other side.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 for each tortilla, until the mix is gone.

It’s so easy! Hope you enjoy them! 🙂

My kitchen table set-up: Pinterest, lists, recipes, schedules!

My kitchen table set-up: Pinterest, lists, recipes, schedules!

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My meal-planning helper, eating her snacks and watching Strawberry Shortcake episodes 🙂

Be that one person

Lately I’ve been realizing that I really need to get organized! (I probably should have realized that a lot sooner, I know..) But when I think about everything that I’ve just recently added new to my schedule and life in general, it can just overwhelm my mind sometimes! It hasn’t happened to me that often yet, but last night it’s like I physically felt all of my responsibilities weighing on top of me. My husband, of almost a month, came down the steps to the kitchen where I was putting dishes away (another endless responsibility) and asked, “Have you done wash in a while? I have no jeans upstairs.” My mind instantly remembered that I had put a load in about an hour before we went to church and in the busyness of getting ready to go to church and clean up from dinner and get Kali ready, I must have not heard it beep and forgotten to put it in the dryer!

So that’s not a huge deal, and I went and put them in the dryer and Abe got his jeans this morning before going to work. (Poor guy!) But for some reason it just dawned on me that now I understand what it means to be “mom” and “wife” and the lady of a house. In the space of a month, I have gone from:

-Having just a little room at my parents house, to owning a whole house with Abe.

-Doing dishes on Sunday afternoons, to doing dishes a minimum of 4x a day or else watching them sit there because no one else will do them. (Abe will occasionally though.)

-Throwing my clothes in a hamper and magically seeing them appear folded on my bed, to doing mine, Abe’s, and Kali’s wash all the time.

-Living with no one under 18, to stopping what I’m doing every 5 minutes to either take Kali to go potty (she’s in the process of being potty trained, so we are CONSTANTLY trying to go so that she doesn’t have an   accident) or answer endless questions, or fix endless toys.

-Seeing a messy floor or no towels in the bathroom and thinking “Mom will get it,” to knowing that it’s up to me if I want it fixed.

-Casually wondering what’s for dinner tonight, to intensely concentrating on figuring something out to make for dinner.

I could probably go on and on! And add to that, having a full time job, extra outside piano students, being the church and choir pianist, and our house being a fixer-upper! It’s a lot. J It makes me so thankful for my mom. She homeschooled five kids, kept the house going and food on the table and clothes in our drawers. It seems so basic, but I’m now wondering, how did she do that?? And she STILL finds ways to take care of us, on a different level now. I came home from my honeymoon to find beautiful curtains hung in both mine and Abe’s and Kali’s bedrooms. I wouldn’t have a clue how to do that, and she took care of it! Our bed was made and our house was clean, with even some added cute touches—the table set beautifully with a candle in the middle! Another way she still is there for me: I had told my mom that I was trying to potty-train Kali but don’t know what I’m doing, and when we came over to mom’s house, she had bought cute Dora underwear for Kali to start wearing….all the motivation she needed! It’s been going basically pretty smooth!

There’s tons of other ways that my mom has helped me in this transition to being the mom of my own family. She listens, she sympathizes, and she laughs with me. She tells me her own stories and little by little I have been seeing the quiet faith that she had to have to raise our family. It amazes and inspires me! We have plenty of crazy stories about mom, but I’m beginning to think…how could she not be crazy with five kids like us?? I love the quote from Abraham Lincoln, “Everything I am, I owe to my angel mother.” I can definitely relate! She was my #1 supporter when I was dating and then engaged to Abe. She is the one who makes me able to face life’s problems and difficulties. Because she believes in me, I know I can make it. And THAT is what I want to be for MY kids, too. I want to pass down to Kali the godly heritage that I have in my own mom!

So…if your life is pressing in on you too and you don’t think you can do it, find that person in your life that gives you courage, and keep going! And then make sure that you are that person in someone else’s life too, to encourage them to never give up!

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