Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Gratitude Project

Grateful: thankful, appreciative, indebted, obliged, obligated, in someone's debt, beholden.

On January 15, a Facebook friend posted an invitation to join her in the Gratitude Project. For 30 days participants were to post three things for which they were grateful. Gratitude would certainly be something I needed to increase in my life, as all too often I only notice the negative, grumbling about situations, and forgetting all that I have to be thankful for. Realizing this to be a true weakness in my character, I accepted the challenge and posted almost daily between January 16 and February 22. What I learned in those 35 days astounded me.

Because I was accountable for posting three items each day, I started looking for things I could be grateful for. Certainly I wanted to be thankful for some of the temporal "things" in my life or for praiseworthy situations, but more importantly, I wanted to be appreciative for the more meaningful aspects of my life: the people, the blessings God has given me as His child, the precious moments too often lost in the busyness of life. My perspective quickly changed from focusing on the negative to becoming aware of all the positive, from minute blessings to dramatic events. Even when presented with challenges and unpleasant circumstances, I chose to look for the good that could come of it. As the days passed, I realized that gratitude was becoming a habit.

I also delved into the Scriptures for what God has to say about the topic. The idea of "thankfulness" permeates the Bible. It's no wonder since the Almighty came up with the idea of gratitude!
Always give thanks to God the Father for everything,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20

Jesus modeled thankfulness for His disciples.
Then He took the seven loaves and the fish,
and when He had given thanks,
He broke them and gave them to the disciples,
and they in turn to the people.
Matthew 15:36
So they took away [Lazarus's] stone.
Then Jesus looked up and said,
"Father, I thank you that you have heard me."
John 11:41

My thanksgiving will be a testimony to others.
Give thanks to the Lord,
call on His name;
make known among the nations what He has done.
1 Chronicles 16:8

I should start and end my days expressing gratitude to God.
They were also to stand every morning
to thank and praise the Lord.
They were to do the same in the evening.
1 Chronicles 23:30

Appreciation for God's protection and goodness can only lead to giving thanks.
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to Him in song.
Psalm 28:7

My ungrateful heart leads to useless thoughts.
For although they knew God,
they neither glorified Him as God
nor gave thanks to Him,
but their thinking became futile
and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Romans 1:21

I'm to replace my worry with thanksgiving, and God will guard my heart with His peace.
Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God,
which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Regardless of what comes my way during the day, I am to offer thanks for it.
Give thanks in all circumstances,
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

The Gratitude Project turned out to be a huge blessing. How can that be, offering thanks to someone ending up blessing me? It's because that's how God works! Whenever we obey Him and offer Him the praise and worship He deserves, we end up being blessed over and above anything we could ask.

Reviewing what I posted that month reminded me of events and experiences I enjoyed during those 35 days. What an awesome testimony of God's goodness! I've decided to continue looking for ways to offer daily thanks to the Lord and to record them in a special section of my Quiet Time journal. I still have a lot to learn about thankfulness and opening my eyes to see the blessings that are usually right under my nose.
I will give thanks to the Lord
because of His righteousness
and will sing praise to the name
of the Lord Most High.
Psalm 7:17

(Remember to turn off the playlist at the bottom of this page to listen to this video.)

For the family,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

David in the News

A few weeks ago David had the opportunity of representing Wham-O, his employer for the past nine years, for a newspaper article. The new owners of Wham-O had just purchased another company called Sprig Toys, and the San Francisco Chronicle was interested in the new change of direction. Sprig Toys makes a line of 'Eco-friendly' products for toddlers that are made of recycled plastic with wood sawdust mixed in. This makes an interesting sturdy-feeling plastic that smells like wood.

Here are links to the article that went to print on March 8th and to a scanned image of the printed SF Chronicle article.

Here is the portion about David's role at the company: "David FitzGerald, senior product design manager at Wham-O, has the enviable job of 'coming up with crazy ideas and figuring out how to make them cool.' For instance, he took jai alai throwers and tweaked them to shoot out snowballs at the flick of a wrist. He recruits his three kids, plus children at his church youth group, for hands-on product testing." (You can see the "SnowTracBall" being described on this website.)

You never know exactly how you will be portrayed and what will be quoted. David had given a more wordy response to the reporter that was truncated by necessity. He had described his job this way, "We come up with crazy ideas, figure out how to make them work, make them look cool, and then get them into production." We are happy with how the reporter simplified things and provided a generally positive image of David and of Wham-O.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Onion Science

While cleaning out the refrigerator this afternoon
to prepare for new groceries,
we found a bag of diced onions that had been in there way too long.
The "use by" date was 2/14/10--almost a month ago! Oops!
On top of that we accidentally left the bag on the counter
while we put all the new food away and made dinner.

As we cleaned up later,
we discovered the now-warm bag
of decomposing matter.
It was expanding so much
that the bag was about to explode.
Not to miss such a fun opportunity,
we took the bag out back to "do the deed."
We even filmed it for you...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Perfect Match

I stumbled across a give-away on the Doughmesstic blog today, and immediately decided that the pink give-away Kitchen Aid mixer would fit just perfectly in my kitchen which has a pink-peachy color tile with whitewashed and very "distressed" cabinets. Imagine with me the gingerbread I could make in that...or the cupcakes and with real buttercream frosting...or the from-scratch mashed potatoes my family loves for Thanksgiving. I've been wanting to try and start making homemade bread, and the Kitchen Aid would work perfectly for this.

Given the price tag of this solid beast, the give-away is pretty much the only way it's going to actually show up on my kitchen counter. Dreams are always so nice, don't you think? In mine there is even a nice soft filtered effect around the edges. Silly, I know, but I'll keep my photoshopped dreams even if it means appearing silly now and then.

By the way, thanks to Lynnette for pointing me in the direction of today's fun dream.

For the family,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Blog Party with Abigail Kraft

I've been having a lot of fun lately reading different blogs. There are some that really inspire me, some that make me laugh, many that leave me challenged. One family I particularly enjoy is the Krafts. They're the kind of people I wouldn't mind having as neighbors. I think it would be a blast to just sit down over a cup of Starbucks coffee with Lynnette and her daughter Abigail, and just spend an afternoon chatting. I believe my son Joshua and Jared Kraft would have a blast at the piano together, playing and composing together.

This week Abigail is having a blog party. Having never participated in a blog party before, or even knowing what it was, I had some homework to do. After perusing some of the partygoers' blogs, I got the idea. So without any further ado . . . here's my addition to the fun.

1. What's your favorite time of the day, and why?
For me it would have to be the moment my husband walks through the door after work! I love it when he comes home. He always hugs and kisses me and lets me know he's happy to be with me. My hubby brings sanity back into my life after a day of home schooling my children while also trying to work from home.

2. If health wasn't an issue, what food could you live off of?
Because of the idea that health isn't an issue, I naturally think of fun foods like cheesecake, brownies, chocolate chip raisin cookies, and decadent chocolate cake. But I'm very practical, and I know those sugary foods would get boring after just a few days--or even only one--if that's all I was able to eat. So I'm going to pick a salad since it can be varied every single time. New ingredients tossed in at each meal. I think fresh, green salad would be great, especially with avocados!

3. If you could have one wish granted (besides wishing for more wishes), what would it be?
A clutter-free, tidy, organized, beautifully decorated, and downright cute house with my very own craft room! When we moved into our home, we only had two little boys (1 & 3 yrs old). Within one year, my daughter was born. My guest/craft room was turned into a little girl's room. Now I have no place to put my scrapbooking materials! They get moved from corner to corner, further contributing to the clutter in my home.

Don't you just love this scrapbooking room?

4. What's one thing that you get teased about a lot?
I tell looooooooong stories! I cannot tell the abbreviated version without thinking I've neglected the most important part. The listener must have all the details and the background to fully understand. One time I told a friend about a two-hour movie; it took me almost three hours to tell her about it. Now don't get me wrong. I know how to tell the abridged version as well, but it's just not as fun. On the receiving end, however, I love a long story just as long as I know the bottom line first. I need to know where you're going with the story so I can put all the details into the right perspective. Fortunately, my husband understands this about me.

5. If you could choose one movie, book, or TV show to spend your life in, which would you pick? What type of character would you be?
I think it would have been wonderful to be Priscilla in the Book of Acts. She worked alongside her husband making tents, had a ministry from her home, helped train disciples, and lived during the explosion of the early Christian Church. She and her husband knew Paul and assisted in his ministry and helped train Apollos. Wow! Now she was a woman that God used mightily!

6. If you could have one talent that you don't already have, what would it be?
I wish I had never stopped taking piano lessons. I can plink out the melody line from sheet music, but I cannot really play. All three of my children are learning, and we've got some beautiful music in our home as a result. Music is truly an expression of the soul, and sometimes my soul just wants to express itself.

7. If money were no object, where would you go on vacation?
Europe, especially to Germany, the Czech Republic, and the British Isles. My mother-in-law has taught English in the Czech Republic off and on for the past 16 years, and we have yet to see the places that she fell in love with over there. I traveled in Europe for five weeks in 1988, and my husband and I dream about going there together some day.

8. If you were an awesome singer, which genre would you sing?
Country-gospel . . . it's the style I veer toward when I'm singing. My choir director has had to remind me about that on more than one occasion.

9. If you could have a $10,000 shopping spree to one store, what would it be?
I really liked the idea of since we can buy just about anything there.
If it had to be a brick-and-mortar store, then it would be Home Depot so we could do some work toward #3 above.

10. If you could live in any point in time, when would it be?
The not-so-distant future. The exact moment when we hear the trumpet call:

"For the Lord Himself
will come down from heaven,
with a loud command,
with the voice of the archangel
and with the trumpet call of God,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
After that, we who are still alive
and are left will be caught up together
with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
And so we will be with the Lord forever."
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

11. If every outfit in your wardrobe had to be one color, what would it be?

All shades of BLUE . . . from teal to violet,

and everything in between.

12. If you were one of the seven dwarves, which one would you be?
(Doc, Grumpy, Sneezy, Sleepy, Bashful, Happy, or Dopey)
This is a hard one because I can identify with almost all of them. I could see myself as Doc because he was a take charge kind of guy, an organizer; that's me! I tend to be Grumpy way too often, and lately I have been very Sneezy due to a cold. Oh, yes! And yet Sleepy is my name because I love to sleep in, and when my thyroid plummeted following my daughter's birth, all I did was sleep! Even though my hair has gotten darker with age, I am a true blonde at heart, and so I can be extremely Dopey in that I look at things very literally and am absentminded now and then. (I love blonde jokes, by the way!) When I get to spend time with my friends, alone with my husband, or with my children teaching, I am definitely Happy! I guess that leaves Bashful, which is just not me!

13. What's the last album you listened to?

14. What's something we'd be surprised to know about you?
I used to drive a motorcycle in my single days. It only cost me $350 at the time used and was a very economical way to get around in the late 70's when there was a gas crisis going on.

Well, that's me! Head on over to Abigail's blog for more party fun, and find a blog you just might connect with.

For the family,

Road Rage

On our way home from piano lessons yesterday afternoon, we came across an instance of what appeared to be road rage in our neighborhood. The children and I witnessed the final scenes between two young women. I was able to get a picture on my cell phone camera of one of the cars before the young lady fled away. Because I had to get the boys home quickly for a school webinar, I promised I would quickly return. When I returned to the scene, the police were pleased with the printouts I had brought with me of the cell phone pictures. It turns out the witnesses had made a mistake in one of the numbers on the plate. They asked if I would come down to the station to make a written statement after taking care of the family's dinner and dealing with the school class that was going on at home.

While I was preparing dinner, I had the children type out their testimonies of what they had personally seen of the incident. The focus was to be on actual observations, not interpretations or assumptions of people's characters or intentions. This turned out to be a marvelous activity for them. Both of the boys are participating in a novel writing class this year, and John was especially interested in adding embellishments and expressive vocabulary. We had to edit out the inferences. In the end, the police had enough information from my pictures, and the other witnesses and our testimonies were not necessary.

What did we learn from this incident?

* A home school mom will turn just about anything into a learning experience.

* We need to work more in our science labs on making observations and less on inferences.

* The situation was an excellent object lesson for not controlling anger and irritation with others.

* Four people can observe the exact same situation and yet notice very different details.

An angry man stirs up dissension,
and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.
Proverbs 29:22

In your anger, do not sin.
Ephesians 4:26a

My dear brothers, take note of this:
Everyone should be quick to listen,
slow to speak and slow to become angry.
James 1:19

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret--it leads only to evil.
Psalm 37:8

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