Gina G. Smith

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 46

November 17, 2014

Two great meals that weren’t just thrown together at the last minute and a completed sewing project made this week extra special!

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 45

November 17, 2014

Just a spot of beauty to share for this week. We’re on the home stretch with our fall semester of homeschooling, so there’s not a whole lot of time for observing and reflecting. Right now, we’re just getting it all done. But this little vignette was such a fun thing to assemble. I found this shell in our back yard with moss already growing in it. We added some bunnies and put it in a cozy, abandoned nest that the kids brought in. And we keep it watered so we’ll have a little bit of green to enjoy this winter.

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The ‘Adding Beauty Project’: Week 44

November 17, 2014

Fold some clothes. And make some soup. These things will leave you feeling accomplished and satisfied.

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 43

November 17, 2014

There was a morning/afternoon spent making food for the next few days and cleaning up the messes that occur when the mama is flurrying about. It felt endless and I was disheartened at the prospect of putting it all back together.

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But focusing in on one task at a time puts things in perspective.

And a thoughtful reminder from a friend on Facebook helped me remember the value and beauty in time spent this way.  

“Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” Proverbs 14:4 (Thanks, JR)

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This was one of the results. Sweet rewards indeed. It’s my favorite easy pastry to make and share.

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project : Week 42

November 17, 2014

Some busy, busy days resulted in that desperate need to feel free and happy. We ditched it all and went to the park just down the road from us. It was a beautiful, precious day.

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 41

November 14, 2014

Empty vases on a clean, clutter-free surface.

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Pumpkins: $1.79 and everyone has their own method of decorating…

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Fancy breakfasts mean we often eat popcorn for lunch!

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8 Years, Fears, and Follow Through

October 27, 2014

Eight years ago, my husband necessarily left an extremely toxic job situation. We were comfortable (well, except for the horrible job part) and cared for. There were benefits and a reasonable salary, but at the time, even the uncertainty of an immediate future without those things seemed better than what he was enduring.

So the decision was made and he spent the next year working a low-stress job at a coffee shop, using his extra time at home to write stories. I admit it was scary for me. I didn’t always trust that our needs would be met. I didn’t enjoy the times when he was in our presence, but inaccessible because of the focus that writing took. But guess what? We ate well, stayed warm and healthy, and enjoyed simplicity.  Even though the future was foggy, we both had the overwhelming feeling that everything was going to be ok. We spent quiet evenings together as a young family and Sam spent lots of time pouring stories into our children, feeding their imaginations and introducing them to characters that would someday come to life in the pages of a book, although we didn’t know it yet.

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The last eight years have been full. We’ve added two more babies to our family, moved to a new home and watched loved ones suffer with cancer and other life altering injuries and illnesses. We experienced the death of grandparents, and saw families break apart right in front of us. We’ve grown up, little by little, becoming  increasingly aware of the sadness and heartbreak that exists in the world. But we’ve also seen beauty emerge from the midst of the darkness. A whole lot of good can come from just a little bit of light, pushing back against all that black.

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I know my husband has doubted his decisions along the way. I haven’t always been a picture of support or trust, either.  Often I voiced my fears and probably made him feel like he wasn’t enough. I struggle at times with guilt over this. But he is always the first to say something like, “I really think you should keep dwelling on all the ways you have failed. That’s probably the most helpful thing you can do right now.” (Always with the jokes, I tell ya!) But in all seriousness, he is one of the most gracious people I know, quick to see my strengths and my heart, even though I have a lot of fear mixed in.

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This past month we have seen the fruit from several years of dreaming and working towards the goal of publishing a book. We took on the task of sharing a wonderful story with the world. (I can say it’s wonderful, because I’ve read the story, and I’ve also seen how it was born.) We were continuously reminded of how many people are in our corner. For weeks now, we’ve seen the names of people we know and people we don’t, pledging to buy the book before it is even in print.

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We planned a party and scheduled it for the day after the Kickstarter campaign began. What was intended as a way to encourage our friends and family to spread the word about the book ended up as a celebration of already having met our initial goal. Unbelievable. (Also, there were cookies.)

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When I think back on the day that he walked away from that awful job and how discouraging that time was for us, it is such a great reminder to me of how faithful God has been and how He had the bigger picture in view the whole time. Uncertainty is difficult, but He constantly brings to mind all the ways our needs are met or exceeded along the way.  It’s beautiful, and something I won’t forget in this lifetime.

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As of today, there are only 7 days left in this campaign. Although you will be able to purchase the book after it is over, this is the last chance to jump on board to be among the first to get your hands on this gem. Come be a part of this experience with us! We’re so grateful for all the encouragement we’ve received so far.

 

(All the party pics and my featured image at the top were all taken by my awesome brother/sister-in-law, Josiah and Jessi)

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Weeks 35-40

September 29, 2014

The past six weeks have been all about maintaining. Call it what you will: towing the line, holding down the fort, keeping the home fires burning…or adding beauty. It hasn’t been all fun and games, but it has been, most definitely, fulfilling. Recognizing beauty in the craziness has taken a lot more effort. Simply having a clean kitchen for an hour or so in between meals has had to be enough at times.

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As a family, we’ve been working toward a certain goal for months. No, actually years. And here in the last stretch, there’s been no rest for the weary. I’ve had some bad parenting moments, followed by healing tears and hugs. My house has been messy. I’ve forgotten to do things, and been late for appointments. However, there have been a lot of sweet moments, too. And, bonus: no one has missed a meal and everyone has had clean clothes to wear and gotten all their schoolwork done and assignments turned in, and we’ve made it to nearly every soccer practice and game! Here are a few more highlights…

A cute little art project that took about 10 minutes.

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An easy meal enjoyed together with my mom, who was visiting for the day.

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A new, favorite, “European style” breakfast.

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A two year old who imitates life.

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20 minutes a day, several times a week, for a run and some quiet time to get my bearings.

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Some freshness to add to my freezer for some warmth during the colder weather.

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Sweet moments, and genuine gratefulness voiced to my children and hopefully burned into their memories.

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Nighttime clean-up.

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Cozy touches, added to our porch in preparation for a celebration.

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Afternoon games of Memory and cups of tea,

organizing my laundry room and covering ugly walls with pretty shower curtains,

more party decor.

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Week 34

August 25, 2014

My 5 year old son has been recovering from a bout with Strep  (in March!) and a subsequent kidney issue all summer long. He’s been poked and prodded and endured numerous blood tests to monitor his improvement. We had what was sure to be the last blood test this past week. (Alas, still more to come in a few months…boo.) Surely someone so brave deserved a special lunch and a visit to the fountain in the middle of town to toss in some pennies and make secret wishes.

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You can imagine how a mama’s heart tends to worry about issues like this when they arise. So when this print arrived, it was such a timely reminder about where I should let those worries rest. You should definitely check out the beautiful artwork over at Be Small Studios.

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And, in preparation for some video footage for a little project we are working on in the coming months, I’ve been doing a little sprucing in just a few rooms of the house. This book page poster was something I’d been wanting to do for a long time. We narrowed the passage down to a couple of poems by Emily Dickinson.

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XXVI

The props assist the house

Until the house is built,

And then the props withdraw–

And adequate, erect,

The house supports itself;

Ceasing to recollect

The auger and the carpenter.

Just such a retrospect

Hath the perfected life,

A past of plan and nail,

And slowness,–then the scaffolds drop–

Affirming it a soul.

 

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The gleam of an heroic act,

Such strange illumination–

The Possible’s slow fuse is lit

By the Imagination

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The ‘Adding Beauty’ Project: Summer Edition (Weeks 29-33)

August 18, 2014

Goodness, how summers can turn into a restless busy-ness, I just don’t know. You can go from week to week, feel as if you have not nearly enough time in the day, and still wonder, “What did we actually DO all week?” I’ve experienced a little of that over the last month or so, but am so glad this project continues on. Looking back over my pictures (And yours, too…thanks for participating, friends!) has served as a huge encouragement as I contemplate the coming school year and look back at our summer.

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It would be so easy to consider all the things I didn’t do…all the projects that I didn’t complete, (hello, stairway and orange goo), or activities with the kids that didn’t happen. How quickly a mother can look at all her menial tasks and accomplishments and label herself as inadequate to the task.

But there was a lot of beauty to be found in small victories, like cleaning out the school room and making forlorn corners of the house new and cozy again.

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There were stolen moments of tenderness with the kids that I will treasure for years to come…little games of Uno, quiet walks in the woods, splashy pool days, and messy treat baking.

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There is a lawn that stayed mowed all summer, and there are weeds that got pulled. There was a child baptized, who experienced the Lord’s Supper for the first time.

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Bikes that were ridden, trips that were taken, friendships that blossomed, and books that were read are all evidences of a full and happy summer.IMG_5747.JPG

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I challenge you to look back on your summer and consider it as well. If you’re feeling down about walls and doors that didn’t get painted, rooms that aren’t yet organized and beautified, veggies that didn’t get eaten and were replaced with corn dogs, exercise routines that didn’t get established, or shelves that haven’t been dusted, consider instead what actually happened in place of all those things. You might be surprised at how beautifully your valuable time was spent.

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