Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Restoration Hardware

{Res.tor.a.tion} .n.

The act of restoring; renewal, revivial or reestablishment.
The state or fact of being restored.
A return of something to it's former, original or normal condition.
Restitution of something taken away or lost.
Something that is restored as by renovating.
A putting back to a former position, dignity, ect.
I've been thinking alot about that word lately.
In fact it seems to be invading my thoughts
with such force, that I am having a hard time
thinking about much else.
Usually when this happens,
it means that it's time for me to pay attention
to the word or concept if I want to get any peace at all.
Otherwise, it will keep hounding me in my sleep
and in my fully conscious mind until I do.

The above definitions are glorious.
I was so pleased when I read them because
they open up for me such extraordinarily rich pictures
of what this word means.

When I think of the word restoration,
my mind immediately jumps to an old house
that we once called home.
The dilapidated New England farm house was built
high on a hill in Portsmouth, Rhode Island
in the 1890s.
A long time admirer of old houses full of stories,
I couldn't wait to move in and set up house
within her walls.
From the moment I laid eyes on her
I knew what she was supposed to be.
In her early years,
she must have sat magestically on that hill
overlooking the Narraganset Bay;
her windows reflecting the evening sun as it
dropped into the water after one last
glistening nod to the day.
But many years had gone by.
Battles had been fought on her grounds
and harsh weather weakend her foundations
and battered her frame.
Some improvements and updates
had been made through the years
but her glory days seemed a distant memory.

I loved her though.
I filled her porch full of flowers and
ran my fingers over the antique wooden banister that
lined her narrow stair case.
She was beautiful to me.
I polished her worn floors and hung pictures
on her scarred walls.
I knew that she was probably well beyond
what it would take in this economy to
bring her back to her former glory,
but I still saw it.
I overlooked her drafty windows and her
cracked driveway,
and I lived in her as if she were
the most magnificent mansion I had ever seen.
Someday, a restoration specialist
will see in her what I saw.
He will know exactly what to do.
He will knock down walls and strip wood.
He will tear down and build up.
She will be made new from the inside out.
He will skillfully pour into her exactly what she needs
and she will shine again.
What a beautiful concept restoration is!
I'm sure many of us can think of at least a dozen things in our
lives that are as battered and beaten
as my beloved New England house and
we know that without restoration,
they will crumble.
It could be our relationship with our husband or wife,
our kids, a parent or a friend, or maybe
it is that we need God to restore something in us,
our hope, our joy or our faith.
Maybe we've experienced some pain in our lives
and we have followed that pain down
destructive roads so far that we feel like
we can never be brought back to the beginning
and live as though we had made a different choice.
Restoration is a core need in all of our lives.
It is a need that only a skilled restoration specialist can fill.
Trying to do the job without one is like
slapping a coat of paint
on a peeling wall.
In all of our good intentioned trying,
we will never be able to successfully restore
anything without the necessary tools or hardware
that is needed to do the job right.
All our efforts amount to polished floors
and flowers on the porch
but only the healing hand of a specialist
can tear out the old and rebuild the new
in such a way that the former glory is restored
in grandiose splendor!
I know a restoration specialist if you are looking for one.
Even if you've already tried to rebuild yourself and things aren't going well,
He'll know exactly what to do.
He'll take your project in any condition.
Nothing is too far gone or too messed up for him.
He is a master renovator.
His address is 2 Cor 5:17-21
and Isaiah 43:18-19.
And best of all,
He's totally free!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The fine line at the end of our driveway.

So we've had 7 year old attitude
up to our ears for the past
few weeks.
I'm not sure what has gotten into our
little princess, but she has
taken sass to the next level lately!

This morning we were waiting for the school bus
and the sass monster bit again.
Brendell's timing is impecable because
her bus was rumbling
down the street
just as the defiant words were
coming out of her mouth.
As the bus groaned to a stop and
the doors squeeked open,
I was still sizzling from
frustration and ok, I'll admit it, anger
at the little thing bounding up the school bus steps.
How dare she talk to me that way!
She knows better!
I bet other little girls don't sass their moms as
much as she sasses me!
What the heck am I doing wrong?!
Each thought seared through my brain
and sucked out my joy
and a good bit of my ability to reason
by the time she was seated.
I looked up at the window and saw
the familiar round cheeked smile
come across her face as she raised her hand to wave.
Stunned and seething I reluctantly put my hand in the air
but my smile was slow to appear.
She frowned and slowly took her hand down
only to bring it up again when I finally let my
smile swallow up my raw emotions
and waved more energetically.
All morning the shocked saddness in her eyes
when she didn't see me
joyfully bidding her goodbye as I usually do
haunted me and pricked at my heart.
I felt guilty because I hadn't wanted to smile back.
I hadn't wanted to wave.
I wanted to teach her a lesson and
stomp off and deny her
my acceptance.
How selfish and immature of me!
What right did I have to deny my deviant child
the pleasure of my complete and utter delight
at who she is and the gift I have in her?
It is her actions that I do not accept,
not her as a person.
She would have gotten the opposite
message this morning
had I not pushed my anger down.
Today at the end of our driveway, I walked that fine line
between righteous admonition
and selfish manipulation
and for a few seconds I had my
foot firmly planted in ugly indignation.

I am so thankful that my creator
doesn't do that to me when
I sass Him.
He has never kept his affection from me.
His thoughts toward me are
always good.
He sees me as redeemed and clean.
He loves me wildly with a perfect
love that I don't deserve,
but it is so freely lavished on me
not because of who I am
but because of who He is!
I can't do anything to make Him love me less
and I can't do anything to make Him love me more.
He's always there waving enthusiastically
with a great big smile and a heart
full of love for me
no matter how I have behaved.
Oh how I want to portray that image
to my children!
I know that the disciplinary style of a parent
can greatly affect the child's view of God.
I don't want them to think that if they
do something wrong
that God withdrawls from them.
I want them to know that
no matter how many rules they break
or how many times they disobey,
I will always accept them for who they are
and I will not withhold my love and
affection for them.
This certainly doesn't mean that there are no consequences
for doing something wrong.
But it does mean that the way I see my kids
and what I think about them
in my heart
is not what is at stake
when they disobey.
They are loved totally and completely
by me and most importantly
by their creator
no matter how many times they
break the rules.
As for the sass monster?
I'm working on an extermination plan
as I type this!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Normal, everyday, routine.

Happy New Year!!

For Christmas this year,
I did something for myself that I have
been wanting to do for a while now.
I made a book out of my blog.
I built it in blurb.com and it came out beautifully!
Because of page number restrictions,
I could only include from April 2008 until November 2010
(which strangely indicates that I am a bit wordy).
It begins on the day we left Rhode Island
and chronicles the travels, stories
and photos of our daily lives
from then until now.

Reading through it has brought me to tears and doubled me over with laughter many times. What I love the most is the many entries of nothing special.

Just the recounting of average days.

In recent months, I've been more drawn to writing inspiring or comical stories and anecdotes instead of just telling the happenings of an average day in our house.

I'm going to try to include more of our daily life this year.

When my kids are grown, I want my blog to usher in vivid memories of our family and the love, laughter and tears we shared over the years. Many years from now, I want them to catch a glimpse of us sitting in our living room on a regular day with homework being done, dinner being cooked, and the sights and sounds of our lives filling the air.

And to do that, I need to blend in more normal with the nostalgic, more everyday with the extraordinary and more routine with the refreshing. There will still be stories and my (obviously elaborate)thoughts on life, but they will be nestled in between a regular Tuesday and a regular Wednesday at the Cleary home.

Because of facebook (the blog killer) and my constant posting of life by status updates, there are several events missing in my blog so I feel like I need to fill in the past few months with a few highlights.

First of all, Michael had a very successful season playing for Old Mill High School. We loved watching him play and I especially enjoyed photographing every game and then getting multiple requests from sweaty, heavily padded boys after each game for photographs of them in action.

I started a new job this Fall.
I am a freelance journalist for Patch.com. I write a column called Mommy Made Easy for Broadneck Patch and a Military Monday column for Odenton Patch. I also contribute the photo of the week for Historic Annapolis Patch and then fill in for all three patches when they have events or stories that I can cover. Click here to read my articles.
I am enjoying it immensely!
I was able to get a press pass for some of Michael's games so that I could shoot right from the sideline.
Oh just ask my family, you couldn't touch me that day.
I had a PRESS PASS and I flashed it to everyone who looked my way!
Embarrassing but true.

We had a visit from my brother Jason and his girlfriend Jill in November.
It was such a pleasure to have them here and we can't wait for our next visit!

It was fun to revisit some of our favorite childhood places together.
Here Madison and Jason are standing on the pier of a marina that we spent alot of time at.
I did a recent post about Jason and I revisiting some of the tree forts we built as kids.

For Thanksgiving we had my brother Jeremy, his wife Ashley and their two boys Zane and Easton.
It was so fun to fill the house with the pitter patter of little feet again.

Like all visits with far away family, their's was too short
and we are already wanting to see them again.

Zach also came home for 10 days in November.
He is doing well, growing, learning and working hard in Washington.
It was so good to see him and hug his neck again.
It did my heart good to watch him interact with his brother
and sisters again.
We all miss him so much and
we hope to see him again very soon.

Michael tunred 17 in December and got his first car!
Unfortunately before we could get it titled in Florida,
he wrecked David's car,
so now he has to wait on tags until we get the deductible paid for repairs.
He'll be on the roads soon though.

We got a puppy this Summer!
His name is Journey and he is a blue merle australian shepherd.
We did alot of research on the right breed for us and our lifestyle
and an aussie fits us well.
We got him from a breeder in Pennsylvania and picked him from a litter of 16.
Having tried our hand at dog ownership and failed when the kids were younger,
we are happy to say that he has quickly become a part of the family.
He is so smart and funny and very well behaved for his age.

And to bring you up to the current date,
I took this photo this morning.
We got about 4 inches of snow last night
in our first official storm of the season.
The kids are thrilled!
I'm thankful that we live so close to the firehouse
so that our roads get salted and plowed
almost immediately
because I am a chicken on ice!
My cousin teased me about wanting to put chains
on my tires at the first snow flake....
He's not so far off from the truth.
So, there ya go...
you're caught up on the highlights.
See you soon for some
with a twist, I'm sure!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The right fit

Sometimes you fit.
sometimes you don't.

When we first moved in,
my mom gave us her kitchen table and chairs
because she wanted a new one.
A few months later
she had her new set delivered
and it just didn't belong in her condo.
It was beautiful in the showroom,
but when she got it home,
it just didn't shine.
While we really appreciated the set she gave us,
it didn't look amazing in our kitchen either.
So we switched sets
and it was like the missing puzzle piece!
This table is made for my house!
It fits our decor perfectly and
compliments my style.
I absolutely love it!
Mom's table looks much better
in her condo too.

Sometimes you fit and sometimes you don't.
I've been in places, churches,
peer groups, jobs and clubs
where I just didn't quite fit.
I've taken on projects and
taught classes and worked in various ministries
and got involved in certain activities
where I just wasn't amazing or amazed.
What a difference there is when you
find what you were made for.
I've heard it said that you should find what you love
and do it.
We were all gifted for specific things
and you know it when you are doing what you
are made for.
My favorite illustration of this concept
involves a volkswagon bug and
a land rover.
Imagine that life is a bumpy road
with treacherous terrain.
When you are not doing what you
were made for
you are a volkswagon bug
navigating terribly over
the bumps and obstacles.
You are moving along,
but not very well.
You'll most likely wear out before
your time.
Now switch to a land rover and travel that
same road.
You were born for this.
You have all the necessary equipment
already installed!
You actually find joy in the bumps and
pot holes because you were
made to navigate them.
In my life
writing and photography
bring me a certain joy
that I just can't get anywhere else.
For my mom,
it is being a hair stylist.
For my brothers
it is working in the fishing industry.
What's yours?
Are you a volkswagon bug
or a land rover right now?
Find what you love and do it!