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One More Time

If you asked me what day of the last year I would like to live over, it would be April 21, 2015. Why? Why would I want to live over a random Tuesday? Why not a big, life-changing, memorable day? Because the memories are enough. I’d want to remember those days the way I experienced them the first time around.

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Just another day out our place, April 2015

 

The things I don’t remember well are the everyday things. I’d like to go back a few months and live over a regular day in a past season of my life. On Tuesday, April 21, 2015, I woke up to the sound of Ben’s alarm at 5:30 am. I dragged myself out of bed and made breakfast– probably eggs– while Ben made coffee. We did morning devotions and ate together, and a bit before seven he drove me to work. I opened up the preschool, played with my sweet babies, and then worked as a teacher’s aide in their class. Then I went home and cleaned the house, ate lunch, read my Bible. Maybe I called my mom. Maybe I saw my sister while walking home from work through her college campus. Maybe I walked the long way home and enjoyed the sounds of the city. At 2:30, I went back to work and watched elementary school kids. I probably brought my ukulele and let them play it, I probably played tag with them. I talked casually with the friends I worked with. After work, I walked home and made dinner for Ben. He came home, and after dinner we got ready for Bible study. I made tea, everyone came, and Ben led study group. We read the Bible, prayed, talked, and laughed together. Then everyone said goodnight and went home. I made Ben’s lunch for the next day and we went to sleep.

Not a very exciting day, but a good day. A normal day.

If I could live a day over, I’d want to live again in a day in the life of the former version of me. I’d remember what my life was like. I’d see the changes that have happened over the months, and I’d be grateful for how I’ve grown. I’d be thankful for the time I had with those friends, those kids, that home, that place.

Today, I am thankful to the Lord that I lived today and that I get to live tomorrow. I’d love to live a day in my life over again, but we’re only given one chance to live each day. Let’s be thankful for today and make the most of it.

Inspired by WordPress writing prompts.

Love Where You Live

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Love where you live. No matter where you live, learn to love it. When I was a kid, we moved from Flagstaff to Phoenix, and I spent a lot of time wishing we were back in Flagstaff, in the country, in the mountains. It took me a long time to learn to love where I lived. Too long. When I finally decided to stop looking North and start looking around me, do you know what I learned? Glendale is considered the best US city for taking walks. Greenbelts, winding paths to duck ponds and play grounds– that is hard to beat. I learned that Phoenix is one of the most diverse cities in the States with a great number of different people groups, many refugee communities, and immigrants from around the world. This means wonderful opportunities to meet people with interesting stories, valuable insights, and the smorgasbord of worldviews and experiences. You can attend a church in any language. You can shop at a supermarket specially designed to reflect the tastes of any continent. You can take classes in any language. You can eat at a restaurant with authentic food from any country in the world. Every subculture lives here; every opportunity for learning, entertainment, or community service exists here. And let us not forget to mention the mountains! You have not experienced Phoenix until you have climbed our mountains. I read yesterday that Phoenix has the best urban hiking anywhere in the country. In the western Valley, you can hike Deem Hills, Thunderbird Mountain Park, or, if you don’t mind the drive, the White Tanks. In the East, the Superstition Mountains offer endless trails and hide the gem that is the Salt River. In the South, South Mountain rises high above the horizon. And central Phoenix, of course contains my personal favorites– Camelback, Piestewa, Shadow Mountain, Dreamy Draw, North Mountain, and the beautiful Phoenix Mountain Preserve trails. “Mount Wasabi” is a Phoenix Mountain Preserve peak that was just three-quarters of a mile from ACU and from our apartment. We spent a lot of time running and hiking there. Phoenix has a lot of indoor points of interest, too. The Science Center, the Musical Instrument Museum, the pro sports facilities, the art galleries, and so much more. And our sunsets! But I digress.

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I loved living in the country. I loved living in the suburbs, once I learned to. And when I moved to central Phoenix, I loved living there, too. And wherever we go from here, I’ll learn to love it there. No matter where you go, there is something wonderful about where you live. I encourage you, don’t let your location get you down. You’ll never be happy if you can’t learn to love where you live. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” He wasn’t taking about superpowers. He was talking about contentment. “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am in to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Vs. 11-14). What is the secret of being content in whatever situation you are in? Allowing God to give you the strength to be OK with wherever you are. Spend time with Him daily in prayer and in your Bible. So if you’re struggling with where you live, don’t look behind you to where you used to be or pine for some future place. Instead, look around and find the beauty in your hometown and look above you to find your strength and contentment in the Lord.

Photos copyright Breana Johnson

Handiwork in the Home

I like handmade things in my home. Someday, I hope to paint murals on my wall and make quirky furniture of my own design. I think of myself as creative. My friend Mariah, however, is the crafty queen! She is one of those people who can take any space and, with a little paint, glue, and pixie dust, turn it into something straight from Pinterest. She really does paint her walls with murals, and she and her husband really do make their own furniture. She just finished painting all the counters in their home silver to look like stainless steel. It looks amazing, as you can see on her blog here: https://swigartabcs.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/painting-countertops-just-go-for-it/

While we’re renting, I’ve managed to make our home uniquely ours with some of my own creations on a small scale. Here are some of my favorites:

The one on the left was actually inspired by Mariah. She uses jars to hold her dish soap instead of the plastic Ajax bottle. I don’t like the bottle on my counter and while my great-grandma’s crocheted soap bottle aprons are cute, they don’t match my kitchen. A jar is the perfect solution! Goodwill has a wonderful variety for a dollar apiece, but I already had this cute little round bottle.

I found the jar soap dispenser idea on Pinterest, and since it matched my dish soap jar, I decided to go for it and add my own twist.

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HOW TO MAKE A MASON JAR SOAP DISPENSER:

1. You will need a mason jar, a plastic soap dispenser with pump, super glue, and soap.

2. Create a hole in the lid of the jar. it only needs to be big enough for the stem of the pump to go through. I used a screwdriver and a hammer. I’m sure there is a much better way to do this. Make sure any sharp edges are pointing up through the top of the lid.

3. Place the pump from the plastic dispenser into the hole. Test to make sure that the stem is not too long. If it is, cut it.

4. Lift the pump and apply glue to the jar lid. Press pump firmly and hold.

5. When the glue is dry, fill the jar with soap.

6. I like to fill my soap jars an inch or two deep with river rocks, shells, glass beads, etc. It adds interest!

After making my kitchen brighter with my soap jars, I decided that the bathroom needed a little extra charm, too.

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HOW TO MAKE A SEASHELL SOAP BOTTLE

1. You will need small shells, hemp, glass beads, a bottle, and a soap pump that can screw into the bottle

2. Fill the bottom of the jar with shells. Ours have a special memory to go with them. We gathered them by Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania, where we were engaged.

3. Fill the jar with soap. Choose a clear of blue soap.

4. Screw on the lid.

5. String glass beads onto the hemp. Wrap it around the neck of the bottle and secure. Arrange beads to your liking.

My sister-in-law gave us some organic hand soap for Christmas, so I made a matching soap dish from half a clam shell (also from Lake Tanganyika).

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HOW TO MAKE A SHELL SOAP DISH:

1. You will need half a large clam shell, two small stones, and super glue

2. Set the shell face down. Glue the two stones an inch and half or two apart on the outside edge (away from the location of the hinge) of the shell. When upright, it should be stable.

3. Let it dry well.

4. If needed, trim your soap to fit.

Painted jars are pretty! I made a jar soap dispenser for my mom and painted it with sunflowers. Most craft stores sell special paint for glass. One of my friends collect water bottle caps– she gives them to an organization that recycles them into medical supplies for African hospitals! We’ve been collecting them, and I needed somewhere convenient to let them gather. I painted this jar with One Stroke technique.

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     I’m excited to start redesigning a home on St. Maarten! Since we’re not taking much, I have the opportunity to practically start over on décor. I’ve decided on a beach house theme. I should find plenty of inspiration and craft supplies right there on the beach! I can’t wait to show you pictures of what I come up with.

A New Home

We’re about a month from our move to St. Maarten! We already have an apartment ready for us to move into when we land. We’ll be living in Rising Sun Apartments, a two minute walk from Ben’s medical school and a five minute walk from the beach. It is a one-bedroom and is 490 square feet, bigger than our current apartment, which is nice! It’s also almost twice as expensive, which you have to expect from a touristy island where nearly all the area’s apartments are owned by one single company. I’m planning to fix it up like a beach cottage and get crafty with shells and rocks that I find on the beach. Our place is close to the airport and also conveniently near to two or three shopping centers. We don’t plan to have a car– shipping our Kia would not be worth it, so we’re selling it to my sister. Public transport on the island is supposed to be pretty good, anyway. We don’t use public transport in Phoenix– the city is so spread out that the bus system is not as effective as it is in other big cities. Getting used to using buses will be a new adventure! We liked using buses when we were in the Bahamas last summer. I wonder if it will be similar.

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Here is a video that shows the sights of St. Maarten. You can get a feel for where we’ll be living if you watch this. We will NOT, however, be sandblasted by jets landing and taking off near Maho Beach! Not our idea of fun… we’ll be surfing.