Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween & Happy Decorating!

Well I confronted my "decorating frustration" head-on ... Or perhaps more accurately, I was forced to do so! You see, I committed to having a Halloween party at my house for my children who are at a new school this year. It was supposed to be just my oldest daughter's classmates, their siblings and parents. My other two daughters were supposed to invite a few friends (about 4) each.

Well, my youngest went to school and couldn't contain her enthusiasm: "We're having a party!", she blabbed to all who would listen. And of course, I did not want to become the NEW parent who hurt the uninvited children's feelings -- or their parent's more importantly. So I wound up inviting all three classes: my oldest, middle and youngest daughter's class, for a total of 22 families per class, with grand a total of 66 families!  I wasn't too worried -- trying to remain calm. I told myself to expect about 20-30% turnout from each class. What I got instead was a 75% response and over 150 people, plus all of my extended family and close friends. Crazy right?!

In order to get ready for the party, I have spent the last 4 weeks sanding, painting, staining any and everything in my house ... outside too: the swing set, benches around the yard, and exterior of the house. I painted my formal entry w/2-story walls, upstairs hallways, 1/3 of my formal living, and all of my formal dining which is now a pool hall room. I will admit that I wound up hiring out for the exterior of the house. They did an awesome job at quite a reasonable price. I also let some things go, like replacing a fence and restaining my decks.

The amazing thing was for some reason the "decorating fog" that had been in my head seemed to clear under the pressure and I was able to choose colors and confront the horrific task of painting again. I even found a solution to my half painted kitchen table and chairs: KILLZ. You paint it on over the previous paint -- yes, even glossy -- and it works better than sanding. With KILLZ, a one-hour dry time, and 2 coats red paint per chair: I was able to finish my table & chairs half-done project in just days. And it really worked!

I also found that painting itself wasn't so bad with no kids running amuck underfoot -- they're all in school now, and I work from home -- and the right tools. I found a great tool called the "Paint Stick." It sucks up the paint in a big medicine-like syringe and disperses it evenly to your attachment of choice (i.e., roller, edger, foam pad). It was amazing: virtually no splatter! And if you actually read the book, you see that you can flush out unused paint right back into your can -- otherwise you waste quite a bit ... especially with the roller attachment. Another nice feature is that with the length of the stick you get added reach, so that in normal rooms you don't even need a ladder.

Having this Halloween Party dead-line FINALLY gave the excuse I needed to put something important to ME first for a change. It gave me focus too, so that I could make color decisions, etc. So my advice is: 1) force yourself to have a real dead-line; 2) have the right tools for the job (i.e, Paint Stick and KILLZ); 3) prioritize and decide which things can wait until a later date; and 4) know when to call in the pros.

We just had our party, this past Saturday, and the house looked great. Everyone seemed to have fun. Now I can sit back and enjoy my "new" home. At some point, I'll tackle the rest of my unfinished projects with my newfound decorating confidence. Happy Decorating!

P.S. Also found a good quick and inexpensive photo editing tool at CVS Pharmacy -- easy to use too ... no experience required. I scanned in all of my Italy trip (nearly 10 years ago when they didn't have photo CD's) church/architectural photos, adjusted brightness & contrast, cropped and printed enlarged versions (5 x 7) of 14 photos for only $26.00 in under an hour. Then, I choose my 12 favorite prints -- from my home PC photo CD -- from our recent trip to the ocean. I edited and printed those out in black and white as well -- my home photo printer does color great, but does black&white lousy ... so watch for that when you buy a printer, if black & white is important to you. My 5-year old is overjoyed when she looks at our black wall frame, in the den, and sees familiar faces smiling back at her. : )

Friday, October 13, 2006

Christ's TRUE PEACE!

Something about my entry on the Pope's September 12th speech has been bothering me, and I've finally figured it out. In that entry I said "I sincerely don't think He [God] prefers [one way of worshiping Him] one way to another."

What bothers me about that is how sad for those who don't know Jesus! I call upon Jesus daily in many conversations throughout the day. I give him my fears and worries. I ask His advice. I ask for His help and strength where I am weak. I thank Him for all that He does for me and my family in our daily lives. And I feel joy and comfort in His presence. I couldn't imagine a world without Jesus to turn to!

It says in the Bible that the only way into Heaven is through Jesus. And that may be true, but that is for God to decide and not me or any of us. So by my quote above: I do not judge others in their choice of way to worship God. There are many different Christian ways of worship as well.

I think that we need to stop judging and criticizing our different ways of worship. Let us just show others who Jesus is by the way we live our lives and by witnessing to the power He has in our lives to make us whole and to feel TRUE PEACE in a world that -- at times -- seem to have gone mad.

All we can do is share our knowledge of Jesus with others -- by our words and actions -- planting the seeds of faith, and then let Jesus touch their hearts. I think that's what we are here on Earth to do. And in these times of war, conflict, and terrorism: I don't think that just "being a good person" is enough anymore! We need to act daily with our whole being to witness to the power of God in our lives, to share Jesus with others, and to make the world a better place in little ways each and every day. There is a bigger war going on here: a spiritual war for our very souls and every little thing that we do DOES make a huge difference!

So think about that as you get angry at the person who just cut you off on the highway. Smile at the person who frowns at you as you walk down the street. Pray for the safety of our children and truly love and help one another!

Those that have been shown Christ and choose not to accept Him may have to answer to God, but that is for Him and not any of us to decide.

May Christ's TRUE PEACE be with each of you who reads this. May He inspire you to live more fully in His name and to share Him with those who you come into contact with on a daily basis. Amen.