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Where’s Your Happy Place?

June 9, 2017

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I made it down the gravel drive, onto the highway, and past three houses before the car completely died. It’s still there, dead. So, the girls and I had a pleasant morning stroll back to the house. Boy, am I glad the car died. It is such a glorious morning, and to think I might have missed that lovely walk if the car had not died. (I may not sound as happy when we have to pay the towing bill.)

I may sound like Pollyanna, and her “glad game,” but, who could be upset on a morning like this. This morning is the reason I stay in Indiana. When the snow is piled high, and the sky is cloudy for months, it is remembering mornings like this that keep me from high-tailing it south. The bluest sky ever, and 68 degrees is near perfect! This morning, I am in my happy place.

I’ve been thinking about “happy places,” ever since my trip to Kansas City for my son’s college graduation. I was feeling a touch overwhelmed that weekend, as I dealt with emotions both high, and not so high. I was so very happy and proud of my son, but I was struggling with being sad for the end of this part of his journey. Then early the morning following the graduation my father had a TIA. As I understand it, that is a temporary stroke. He is fine now, and after two days in the hospital, he was able to head home to Arkansas.

My girls and I stayed in KC a few days longer to visit with my son. We decided to visit Missouri Town, a historical village from the 1800’s, nestled in the lush countryside. We were the only ones there, and as I walked down the gravel road in this picturesque town, I felt my peace returning.

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I have lived in Las Vegas, Nevada, El Paso, Lubbock, Houston, and Dallas Texas, but I am a country girl at heart. I crave the green country side. That is where I find my, ahhhh.

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It is important to find, and spend time in your own happy place. Life can be so crazy, and our emotions just function on auto-pilot. We must make time to visit and even linger in our own happy place. First you must decide where that is at. Each of us re-charges differently, and we each find peace in various places. Mine just happens to be wherever it is green, add a beach, and OMG!

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Anna’s happy place was by an original Monet at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

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My home, my happy place.

I am not going to miss one second of this beautiful day. I’m writing this blog on my front porch, listening to my little waterfall. I’m getting giddy!

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Our creek where we sit and read stories, happy, happy place!

I encourage you to spend some time in your own happy place. There’s no better place.

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Blue sky, blue water, ahhhh!

 

 

Reining in the Crazy Lady

June 2, 2017

     “Smile, or I’ll spank you!” These are my own words, desperately uttered at three little boys as we were nearing the end of a very cold, autumn photo shoot. Fast forward 18 years, and today was photo shoot day once again. “Where are the clothes pins? You must have thrown them away! They didn’t walk out of the drawer by themselves!” In the process of trying to create something beautiful, the scenes behind the camera can be quite different.

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     I’m still in the process of creating my FREE EBook. I’ve decided to add photography to it and create a visually stunning (hopefully) book for you. I’m testing out Anna, my budding photographer to see how she does. She has a great eye for photos, but she’s just learning how to use her fancy new camera. So today, I had two photos in mind that I wanted to take. Here comes crazy Mama. 

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     The irony is not lost on me that I became slightly stressed as I tried to set up the photos for a book about “Simple Pleasures.” Even after writing this blog about slowing down for six years, and encouraging others to stop and enjoy the moment, I can still turn into a crazy lady. This happens when I take my eyes off my purpose and begin to focus on what others are doing.

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     In the past, I have been driven, and it can still sneak out at times. I am so very thankful that my girls know that they can be honest with me and point out to me when the crazy lady has surfaced. I want to create a beautiful book, and I want my blog to be successful, but most of all I want to enjoy each moment of my life. I want to have fun when we take photos. I want my life to be an honest picture of what I share on this blog.

     So, my journey continues. I will proceed gently as I pursue my writing. I will take time to work in my garden with my kids, even though I’m a bit behind on my on-line writing courses. I will be sure to sit on the screen porch with my family, and watch a DVD by candle light, even though I’ve seen it before, and I know I need to write, and I will have fun taking photos, and they will be a true representation of the joy that we are living.

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(That sky!!!)

 

     May 28th was not only my 34th wedding anniversary, it was also my blog’s 6th anniversary. To celebrate, and say thank you, I have a special gift to give away. I will randomly choose a name from each person who is a subscriber and comments on this blog. So please leave me a short comment or suggestion to be entered in the drawing for this gift.

Rural Block Party

May 28, 2017

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Your local farmers market is akin to a rural block party. It is not only an opportunity to shop for locally grown produce, it is an event. In small town USA, a stroll through the market, is reunion time with family and friends, an opportunity to socialize, and enjoy your community. Your favorite vendors know just what you like, and they always have time to chat.

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      On Saturday mornings, you will find me picking up my weekly supply of farm fresh bacon and eggs. Farm fresh, means yummy! It also means helping your neighbor, and local farms. However, if you think the farmers market only offers produce, it is time you headed to the farmers market nearest you. I think you will be surprised at what you find.

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Can you say, “YUM!” These delicious looking treats are also gluten and dairy free.

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Plants to help you get started with your own garden.

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Local honey, the very best sweetener.

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Fresh juice!!

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Flavored syrup is heaven for your pancakes, made from locally tapped tress.

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Sweets from trees

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Local chefs, temping your taste buds.

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Cooking demonstrations with locally grown, in-season, produce.

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Education

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Arts and Crafts

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Entertainment

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Friends out for a stroll

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The Humane Society (They even had a pig seeking adoption)

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French desserts!!!

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Meeting up with your favorite people! My granddaughter Elliana

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And of course veggies…

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and more veggies

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Don’t forget your fresh bacon. (this may be a little too fresh)

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And absolutely, take your time, enjoy yourself, and don’t forget to smell the flowers!

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Elliana has learned early that the best food is grown locally.

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http://kokomofarmersmarket.com/

http://www.farmersmarketonline.com/fm/Indiana.htm

     If you enjoy a touch of the good ole days, delicious food, neighborly fellowship, and being involved in your community, then a trip to your famers market is a must. Google the market nearest you.

photos by Debbie and Anna Spence

Joshua, My Amazing Arrow

May 15, 2017

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     His statement broke my heart. “I’m sorry I’m not number 1.” I was sorry too. I was sorry that I had conveyed the message that he had to be number 1.

     Next Saturday is graduation day for my middle son, our family’s first college graduate. For the past four years, Joshua has been a student at The International House of Prayer University in Kansas City.

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     To be honest, over-achieving is in my blood. It is a trait that at times I fight to overcome. #1 has always sounded like a suitable number to me. In high school and college, I was the “Rocky” underdog. I rose from the ranks of floundering swimmer to collegiate All-American. I worked hard, I liked winning, and I loved my name on the record board.

     For years, I brought my over-achieving tendencies into motherhood. Home schooling was an ideal platform to mold my little tribe of world changers. As we started out, I wanted to have fun as my kids explored the world around them, but lurking below my low-key exterior was some other person who was triggered when she saw other home schoolers excelling. I had to compete.

     To say that we were highly involved in extracurricular activities is an understatement. Our lives at times were crazy! I didn’t know how to do it differently. It was who I was. I can’t recall when things began to change, but thank God, they did. When I look back at my journals, I was crying out for change for a long time before I began to find it. Eventually I began to see the value of slowing down. Self-worth had nothing to do with winning, our abilities, or our outside involvement.

     I began this blog six years ago to encourage others to slow down. My blog, in a way, saved my life. I listened to my message, and my life changed. Do I still like to win, sometimes, but for the most part I have found joy, peace, and satisfaction in life alone. My life is now full of free time. I enjoy wonderful time with my daughters (my final children living at home) doing what we enjoy most, just being together.

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     There was a good chance that Joshua was going to graduate valedictorian. Was I excited and proud? I’ll be honest, yes. But then I began to think about what really made me pleased with my son, and what truly made him a success.

·       Josh loves Jesus. There is nothing greater!

·       Josh is incredibly talented in many areas and he uses his gifts to serve God.

·       He worked hard to support himself through school. At one time he had three jobs, a barista, a farm hand, and the one that shows his humility, a manure scooper at a horse stable.

·       He served on student government for three years as events coordinator. He worked so hard on behalf of the students, often without assistance.

·       He traveled to Israel and Turkey gaining a love for the people of the middle east.

·       He served as a leader and mentor for underclassmen in the academic lab, teaching students how to write a paper correctly.

·       He became involved with ministry on the University of Missouri KC campus, leading people to Christ and spending time discipling them.

·       He traveled with classmates on ministry trips to Dallas, Pasadena, The Twin Cities, and New York City.

·       He was part of worship teams in the Global, and student led prayer rooms.

·       He brought students from six different nations to our home on holidays.

·       And he spent hundreds of hours in the prayer room.

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     Joshua is a joy to my heart, and a delight to my life. He has helped me to see that our greatest accomplishment is falling completely in love with Jesus. He once told me if that was all he ended up with when he was finished with school, then the purpose for school had been successful. His achievement of graduating third in his class is an excellent accomplishment, he worked hard and always gave his very best.

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Today I was reminded that being first is not the goal! I was also reminded that I still can send the message to my kids that being #1 will make me happy. I’m thankful for the adjustment in my thinking. I want to continue down the path of finding more peace, and knowing that intimate relationships with God and people are truly the goal.

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     Congratulations Joshua Ross Spence! You are an inspiration to me. You are the greatest, because you have always sought to be the least. You are always teaching, and encouraging me. You walk in humility, love, and wisdom, always putting God and others first. My child has become a man that I look up to. You are more than #1. I love you!

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Psalm 127:4

“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are the children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man (and mother) whose quiver is full of them!”

 

She’s Worth it!

May 10, 2017

A lack of time, can translate into a lack of gift giving creativity. We are on the verge of Mother’s Day, and although good ole Mom will be thankful for any gift, she deserves more than a last minute present. Give your mom a gift that shows you took time to think about her and what would bring her joy.

Today’s post is just a few ideas to prime your thinker. What does the mom in your life like to do? How does she like to relax? What are her interests, dreams, and desires? Give gifts that make her feel special, something that shows her that you know her heart.

Start with the gift of time. Spend time with Mom doing what she will enjoy.

Take her to a farmer’s market. Buy her yummy Amish pies and freshly baked bread. Pick up a tomato start or some herbs, and don’t forget some farm fresh bacon.

Here is the link to Kokomo’s Farmer’s Market.  http://kokomofarmersmarket.com/

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Here is the link for the state of Indiana.  http://www.farmersmarketonline.com/fm/Indiana.htm

Mom spends a great deal of time watching movies that were not necessarily her first choice. Choose a movie or two that you know she’ll love, make the pop-corn, and get the snacks. Sit and watch the choice that will entertain her, with no thought to your own tastes. She does it all the time.

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A picnic is a perfect Mother’s Day meal. Unless she loves going out to eat at a restaurant, surprise her with a picnic basket full of her favorites. Head to her favorite park and be sure to take along comfortable chairs, a quilt and pillows.

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Plant the tomato plant and herbs that you picked up at the farmer’s market for her. Do any other gardening that’s been on her to-do list too.

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When choosing gifts, think of what she loves to do, or ways she would love to spend her time.

A basket full of art supplies for the artist, or art dabbler.

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A stack of her favorite magazines, journals or stationery are also thoughtful gifts.

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A literary favorite with some music to match. Be sure to give her time to sit and read.

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find a gift to add to her collection. My collections include red and white dishes, roosters (of the French variety) and French inspired décor. What does she like to accumulate?

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Something to make her summer a bit more yummy.

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A journal like this lets each of you share your thoughts for each other.

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Most of all, just let her know how very much she means to you. Share with her how she has influenced you, and formed your life. Give her your full attention, and your devotion.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

 

Sneak Peek

May 4, 2017

Currently Kokomo is wallowing in water. Our placid little creek has turned into a raging torrent, filling our entire yard. Our favorite reading spot is in danger of floating down stream.

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In the midst of all this rain, I think it is time to share one of the simple pleasures that I have been writing about. Just as authors of cookbooks must test their recipes, I feel that it is important to field test each of my simple pleasures too. That is what I did on May 1st.

May first is May Day. It is an ancient spring festival that has been adapted and altered by past generations, and nations. In early America, baskets were filled with flowers and left on someone’s doorstep. The secret giver would ring the bell and run, leaving behind a bouquet and joy. One of the easiest ways to find pleasure is by giving it away. So I decided to have some fun, and find some pleasure.

The wildflowers that were available around my house were all of the miniature variety. I knew I couldn’t form a proper bouquet, so I got creative. I decided to make miniature flower arrangements with my miniature flowers.

A trip to Treasure Mart Mall was in order, where I searched through glass antiques for inexpensive miniature vases. I fell in love with these tiny vases. IMAG2780

I was thrilled when I found miniature, glass baskets. I would be able to deliver baskets of wild flowers after all, but with my own unique twist.

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Each vase was so darling.

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The tiny flowers were precious in my miniature vases.

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I wish I could have kept it. It looked so cute here.

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But it was time to deliver them.

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My neighbor was so surprised. She told me that she had just mentioned May Day to her husband. God’s timing is perfect. I didn’t leave the flowers on the doorstep and run for two reasons: 1. I can’t run. 2. The vase was so small I was afraid  if left unattended, no one would see it.

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I had so much fun! May 1st turned out to a blustery day, so one basket delivery was enough for me. I did deliver two more on May 2nd. I’ll just call it May Day – the sequel.

I’m now on the hunt for miniature vases and baskets for next year. I’ll be ready this time when May 2018 rolls around. You should give it a try. Most people do not even know what May Day is, so there is no need to wait until next year. Surprise someone with a bouquet for no reason at all. It will bless you both.

Just a Little Peek

April 25, 2017

I do so hope that the sun is shining wherever you are! Wow, what a difference a sunny, warm day makes on a mood! Mine has shifted from, spring time – waiting for warmer weather hover mode, to downright giddiness.

Each day, the green pops a bit more, and more flowers reveal their blooms. The lilac bushes are blooming, and that alone gives life purpose. That darling flower puts me into olfactory overload, in the best way.

I have already seen, and enjoyed all that spring has to offer, and now I’m half way into summer. How does she do that, you may ask. I am on a quest. Writing is my delight, and I have been indulging in that delight non-stop, and I’m doing it all for you. Well, I’m getting a great deal of enjoyment from it too, so I can’t claim complete selflessness.

I am deep into 365 simple pleasures that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, and I am having such fun. It won’t be too long and I will be offering my free EBook with at least 24 simple pleasures that will delight you, and give you an entirely new perspective on how to enjoy life. There is no need for extravagant activities to boost your mood, or have a little fun. Simple pleasures surround us, we only need new eyes to see them.

I recently shared with a group of women about ways to create a different perspective. I believe that a shift in our perspectives can greatly improve the quality of our every day lives. So today, I just wanted to share 5 simple springtime pleasures with you since spring is all around us.

A pleasure qualifies as simple when it is something that we can do on a regular basis. What makes it a pleasure, is the new way in which we view that activity. We increase the richness of our lives just by seeing something simple, with new eyes.

So, take these ideas and see if a little peace, joy, or just ahhhh, follows.

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  1. Blow dandelions – Dandelions are not weeds, they are wishes. With just a puff of your breath, the white feathery seeds dance, and spin on the breeze, and send your wishes twirling into the atmosphere. Fun fact: They can travel as far as five miles away. Dandelions are the bouquets of childhood, a cheerful, buttery bloom that says, “I love you Mommy!” Put the weed killer away, and enjoy the pleasure of a little flower that is always cheery, and always accessible.

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  1. Mysteriously deliver natural flower bouquets to your neighbors on May Day – May first is May Day. It is an ancient spring festival that has been adapted and altered by past generations and nations. In early America, baskets were filled with flowers and left on someone’s doorstep. The secret giver would ring the bell and run, leaving behind a bouquet and joy. One of the easiest ways to find pleasure is by giving it away. Bless someone with a May Day bouquet and you both will find delight.

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  1. Peer inside a nest with baby birds – Spring is a season bursting with new life. One very simple way to view this wonder is by peering into a nest. You will either be treated with the sight of precious eggs nestled safely among the knitted twigs, or of featherless, gaping mouths hoping for a worm. Not only is it a pleasure to witness these tiny hatchlings, but you may just fall in love. There is something endearing about nestlings, and they soon steal our hearts. Perhaps, it’s just the Mama in us.

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  1. Pick a bouquet of wild flowers – You can tip toe through the tulips, dance among the Dutchmen’s breeches, or cavort between the crocuses, but be sure to gather them as you go. Spring wildflowers are a reward for surviving another winter. Their beauty quickly makes us forget the long, drab, grey days that preceded their arrival. Pleasure will overflow as you pick your bloomy bouquet, and bring it indoors to brighten any living space.

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  1. Watch a lightning storm from a dark room – Thunder and lightning storms can be fearsome tempests to behold, but they are also exhilarating, and thrilling when we are safe indoors. The thunder’s explosion may rattle your walls, and the lighting may scorch through the sky, but inside your dark chamber, you are safe from harm, and able to experience nature’s fury with benign fright. It is a pleasure to be reminded that storms will come, but we are safe in the shelter of God’s wings.

Happy spring!