Well, so much for consistent blogging, huh?  I ended up being out of state and away from my computer since the first of August, but I'm back now, and ready to jump in again.

August 19th's Challenge was "To-Do," and I am very, very excited about what I crossed off my to-do list yesterday! 

Jeremy's Uncle Tom and Aunt Donna gave us a container full of plants last week.  Now, I know nothing at all about plants, but my heart loves them.  So, I decided to do what I do with all plants: give them lots of sunshine and lots of water.  After all, if I were a plant, that's what I would want.  I placed the container in my front yard which gets about 12 hours of full sun every day, and I watered the container daily. 

Then I called my friend LaRene, who is The Plant Whisperer, and I described them to her hoping she would know what they were and how to care for them.  I intended to plant them after I found out what they needed.  When LaRene couldn't pinpoint them from my phone description, she offered to come over in a few days to get a visual and teach me how to care for them.

She came over yesterday, and much to my dismay, she declared them to be houseplants.  She also declared them to be dying from over-crowding, over-sunning, and over-watering.  Wet blanket.  Since there is no way on God's green earth that any type of plant will survive in my house (trust me, I've tried), I decided to treat them like an annual and plant them in a perpetually shady spot outside my back door.  LaRene and I worked together to create a triangular garden bed where grass used to grow, and I planted my five plants.  Well, actually, I planted four plants because one of them looks like it's going to be a trailing kind of plant, so I'm looking for a shepherd's hook and a hanging basket to plant it in.  Then it will hover over my garden along with a pretty garden flag that Liberty bought me.  I'm just looking for a hook and flag pole.  Did you know Walmart and Home Depot consider those two items to be seasonal?  How rude.

Here is my new little garden.  I've decided to name it my TomAndDonna Garden, and I love it.  (Be like me and ignore the pathetic-ness of the dying leaves.  They didn't like my front yard, but I'm expecting them to perk up after a few days in my back yard.)

(I hope.)

My friend, Liz, is an inspiring photographer who participates in a monthly photo challenge.  I once participated with her and had a blast finding unique ways to photograph the prompt for the day, but since I've yearned to blog again - and can't seem to figure out how to start back up on my own - I'm going to use that monthly photo challenge and turn it into a blogging challenge for the month. 

See?  Genius at work, folks.  Step back.

If you want to play along, let me know in the comments, and I'll make sure I come read your blog that day.  :-)  Here's the August List.

So.  Landscape.

We've been saving up for landscaping around our house for the past four years, now.  We thought we were going to have enough to be able to put it in this coming spring, but circumstances have conspired against us, and we had to use that cash on an emergency situation that came up this summer.  Apparently, my brain is still processing that loss because I dreamed about my landscaping last night.

I was lying in bed when Liberty and Mercy came running in with their arms full of unplanted greenery, spilling dirt all over my bright white bedspread.  "Mommy!  Mommy!  Come outside and see!" they shouted at me in my half-wakened state.  Only the threat of dirt everywhere forced me to open my eyes.  "No!  Take that outside!" I tried to command forcefully, but my voice wouldn't obey. 

I shakily, still mostly asleep, followed their dirt trail across the carpeting to the front door, and when I stepped outside, I found my neighbor and friend, Trina, just standing up from planting the last bush in front of my house.

"Hi!" she smiled.  "I brought over some clippings from my landscaping for you." 

I glanced around.  My yard was littered with odd pots and plastic buckets all filled with dirt and spindly stems cut from flowers and bushes.  I started to thank her, but then I noticed a small plow with fresh, beige, Indiana clay clinging to its blades.  That's been used recently, my brain realized.  I looked around for evidence of its disturbance and found that all of my areas set aside to become garden beds had been tilled up and mixed with rich black dirt, then covered with peat moss and, in most places, planted with flowers and bushes.  "Wow!"  Trina had done more than just bring over clippings.  She had done all the hard labor to get my landscaping put in as well!

"Thank you!" I told her.  "Would you like to come in for a drink?"

"Sure," she followed me to the kitchen sink for a glass of water, and as I looked around my house, I was suddenly embarrassed to have her there.  The rooms were devoid of furniture, I'm not sure why.  Paint was peeling in large strips off the walls.  The ceilings were made of those square tiles you see in old office buildings, but apparently, our roof leaked badly because there were terrible brown stains on every tile, and some were hanging from the ceiling by their corners.  Our carpet was old and thin, worn bare in spots, and smelled awful.  Every light bulb in our house had been burned out, so I kept flicking light switches with no results.  I looked around, horrified for Trina to see the state our family had been living in. 

Trina just hugged me.  "Looks like we need to work on the inside, next!" she said cheerfully.  "I have leftover paint from when we painted Cait's room."  She bent down, pulled a crowbar from her back pocket, and began pulling the carpet up at a seam.  "Help me out with this.  I'm sure everything will look and smell much better when this is gone." 

I bent next to her and began pulling, grateful for this wonderful friend.

When I woke up, the dream lingered with me.  My brain was having a hard time telling fantasy from reality, and I began doing math in my head, trying to figure out how much we could spare in the budget for paint and new flooring.  So I was pleasantly surprised when I entered my bedroom closet and noticed the walls and paint in good condition.  Whew!  One room that doesn't need to be included in the remodel.

I walked out to the kitchen to start breakfast for the girls, and the presence of furniture and beauty surprised me.  I took a good assessing look around.  "Wow!  My home is beautiful!" I said out loud.  The walls are in good condition.  The carpet is stain and odor free.  The ceilings are a perfect white, with no ugly squares to be found anywhere, and we have plenty of furniture.  It honestly shocked me, and I've been periodically stopping my activity all morning to look and admire what God has done for us materially.

I've been going through about a month of ungratefulness.  In fact, just yesterday I told my friend Denissa who I bumped into at Walmart, that I needed to copy her habit of updating her facebook statuses with thankfulness.  I hoped making a practice of that might encourage thankfulness in my heart and help change my attitude in general. 

Looks like God took care of that.  With one dream He changed the landscape of my heart.

(Like how I tied that in?  Landscape?)

(Uh-huh, I'm that good.)