Monday, June 20, 2016

Life is FULL

Life has been FULL the last 4 days. So much to celebrate.  This beautiful life that I can't pause. This journey that I get to travel during this lifetime. The amazing people I get to share it with.  My heart is full.

We've had two swim meets.  I love this being a part of our summer.  I love watching how strong the girls have become through the last five years. Their strokes and techniques inspire me. {haven't got the photos off the good camera yet}

We've celebrated Mike, he's such an amazing dad!  The girls and I made him this giant Jenga game - Lowes, saws, power sanding - he's taught us a lot!
 

 We've celebrated our beautiful daughter turning 15.  She got a new sabre, rifle, and color guard bag. She loves being on guard! But boy oh boy, practice sure results in lots of bruises!

She got her first flowers from a boy.


We finally made it to the lake for the first time this summer! Thanks Mike for getting the boat fixed!! He described it as trying to get out of an escape room -- it was quite a puzzle to figure out and put back together! But I knew he could do it! Just took longer than we all hoped!

We bought a new car, as I like to say, with scrabble tiles (and a few shadow boxes thrown in!) --my etsy store has definitely gone way beyond anything I ever dreamed for it!  Also, we made sure our new car knew the way to Andy's.

Morgan passed her driving test and now has a permit to begin to learn how to drive. Her patient dad is in the front seat, and I'm practicing my breathing techniques from birth class in the back seat.  Especially when 3 deer cross in front of us! Luckily she was only going 25 mph.

Yes, all that, and more, in the past 4 days!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

And I'm writing again...

(This is just a draft, but I made it a priority to sit down and write this morning and I wanted to capture it here on my blog!) 

I knew the risk I was taking. I knew I might not make it back home. 9:59…9:58…9:57… But for me it was worth the risk. A chance to see the world in a whole new perspective. The chance to soar where no one has before. Really, this is the only way to live this one and only life. YOLO the younger generations say. 9:06…9:05…9:04… I’ve not merely existed on this journey around the sun, I’ve made the most of it. I have no regrets for choosing this trip.  Yet still, this isn’t how I thought my final moments of this voyage would end. Utterly alone. With only my thoughts. 8:34…8:33…8:32… Who knew I would be the one who would get to take these adventures. Who knew I would be on my own at the end, counting down the moments.  My mind is racing back through time, through the days of my life. Too many memories to sort through them all.  7:23…7:22…7:21… But here, floating among the stars, engulfed in the vastness of them all, watching earth from a distance, balanced in a galaxy of blackness, I am captivated by it all.  If we get glimpses of heaven, this must be it. And I’m closer than I’d like to think…to heaven, that is.  I thought I’d be going back to earth, but here I am suspended in space and time, watching my oxygen tank empty out faster than I want. Please, slow down time. Every breath counts right now.  These are my final moments. 5:42…5:41…5:40… I’m closer to heaven than to earth. And I have a strange peace about that. To know that soon this blackness of the galaxy will be replaced with brightness of the Lord himself. That the coldness of this environment will soon transform into an eternal warmth. Like that of a perfect spring day. 4:10…4:09…4:08… That those who have traveled before me, are ‘home’ waiting for me to walk beside the crystal sea with them.  On earth, I got glimpses of the crystal sea, when my children would say, “Look at the sprinkles on the water!” They loved how the sun reflected off the water, sparkling a million tiny sparkles for our enjoyment. What joy I will soon experience for all eternity. 3:17…3:16…3:15 Yet, at the same time, my heart grieves. It grieves for those left on earth. I wish I had a chance to say goodbye. That I could say ‘see you later’. I wish that tears and pain wouldn’t fill their upcoming days.  I pray now that they will have peace. That their memories will be their strength. May they be inspired to live their lives well. To finish strong the journey that lies ahead of them.  2:21…2:20…2:19… More time. I want more time.  But really, is there ever enough time to experience it all? Our days our numbered. For me, my minutes are numbered. And here, at the end, the only time that matters, is the time I already spent to love, and to live, and to give, on this journey.  Those are the moments that mattered. Those are the moments that mean something here at the end. 0:60…0:59…0:58… What does one think during the last minute he has oxygen?  I shall think of Jesus. Of his open arms waiting me. I’m grateful he became the bridge between me and God on that cross, that he gave himself as a gift for me to choose. I have followed him, and with faith and hope, I rest in knowing that these last breaths are not the end of the journey, but only the beginning. 0:03…0:02…0:01…

(I asked the girls to give me something to write about...inspiration...Morgan said, write about being an astronaut in space and you only have 10 minutes of oxygen left in your tank).

Now on to work on the 61 etsy items I've had ordered in the past 4 days! :) 


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Refresh

I have a dozen and one open boxes pouring thoughts into my brain right now. A jumbled mess really, and I lay here trying to sort them all out, trying to reorganize the boxes, and I realize I have no idea what this blog post will actually be about.These words forming on the computer screen are my attempts at organizing it all.

These past few months, I have been a part of a leadership team planning the first women's conference at our church. And it was this weekend. It was a beautiful masterpiece, a work of art, all the women bringing their gifts to the table, in order to create an amazing experience for 75 women!  The theme was refresh - a place for women to take a break from the routine and refresh! And I've got to tell you, while it physically wore me out, and even more mentally as I attempted time and time again to step out of my comfort zone and create small talk, and develop friendships, and be in the moment.  For an introvert, these things are exhausting.  But I also know I don't want to do life alone...the journey is better shared.  But the truth? I came away refreshed.  Through volunteering and being able to bring my desire to encourage women, and implement things to make this happen -- it refreshed me -- it was purposeful/meaningful/life-giving to my soul. Refreshing for me was seeing other women be refreshed! 

I've met some incredibly talented women working on this retreat -- real, authentic, caring, creative...I could go on. And while it has taken over 7 years since we've moved...I've finally found a community, a place to belong, a place to love and be loved. A place where I can use my gifts to encourage others, as well as, be encouraged with the gifts of other women. God has given me the friendships I've been longing for, and this weekend, through the hugs of other women, I felt God reaching down and giving me a giant hug from heaven! (Oh the tears I've cried these past 7 years longing for this...makes the joy of these friendships even more special!)

Additionally, a week ago, the message on Sunday was called "dancing with the scars of rejection" - I didn't think the message would apply much to me, but God 'shouted' at me during this message - I realized how fully I had withdrawn from writing and serving since the rejection I faced a couple of summers ago when I was trying to get back into social work and submitting my work to publishers -- all the while being told I wasn't 'the one' - I wasn't quite 'good enough' -- and my heart broke that summer.  And this past week, God said it was time to let him rebuild this broken part of my heart into a new mosaic masterpiece - and I don't know what my writing will look like, or who I will share it with, but I know I will be writing again.  It's how I process this beautiful, confusing, amazing, sometimes upside down life! And I still refuse to believe my SW degree was wasted - I am on the look out again to see in what capacity I might use this degree I worked so hard for! And I can't stop thinking of the message, and I'm looking for ways to 'renew my mind' and dance with the scars of rejection once again, and grateful I get to do it alongside some of these amazing friends...




Saturday, April 2, 2016

Integrity, a Detective, and my Momma Heart

In many ways this has been a very difficult week.  My heart has been aching and stretching.  Parenting is truly a journey of the heart. 

This week Morgan had to make a very difficult decision to report something to her coach.  She came home from practice overwhelmed by the circumstances.  A fellow teammate’s poor choices (and I feel they really are a great individual who made a stupid, stupid choice!) have resulted in the entire team needing to speak with a detective this week. This individual has a 10 day suspension and will not be competing at end of season championships today. Their presence and talent will truly be missed today.  And my heart breaks – what made them make such a foolish choice?!  I’m reminded how one choice has far reaching consequences to so many others – like the ongoing ripples from one pebble tossed in the pond. 

But let me speak from my momma heart about Morgan.
  • She chose integrity. She chose to the right thing. Even though it was gut-wrenching hard. She’s a teen and she made the right choice.  Will she always? Probably not, she’s a human, not a saint.  But I am so very proud of her.
  •  We’ve had powerful conversations. Like, “Mom, I know I can say “I forgive you” but how do you really forgive someone?! Like deep down in your heart? Because I want to forgive.”  So we talked about grace and how trust is different than forgiveness.  Maybe it’s time for her to read my memoir. For me, it was a 10 year journey, I hope I can help her figure it out sooner than I did!
  •  We’ve had great conversations about how situations like this reveal the character of others.  We’ve discussed how different people on the team have handled it and about the value of friendships. I’ve loved the depth of our conversations this week.


And while I will enjoy watching the strength of her spin and catch consistently today, it is the strength of her character that I am treasuring most in my heart today.  Lord, Thank you for letting me be this girl’s momma! 

Love both my girls! Easter...


Friday, March 18, 2016

Living with a cracked elbow

A quote Morgan read out loud from her book and Sarah promptly said it sounded like me falling! haha!
This past week I've been getting good at being one-handed. I am Improvising a lot using my teeth, my thighs, my chin to help get things open. There's a lot of things that are hard to do with just one hand. Opening my mascara. Stuffing an envelope. Putting on deodorant. Unscrewing caps. Tying my shoes. Folding laundry. I am thankful that I can speak into my phone and it types for me! 

As much as this week has sucked since I cracked my elbow, I have been reminded that there is much beauty in ashes. I just had to pause and capture a little bit of it...

  • I've been doing a book club/study at church since September and I've formed some amazing friendships!! They've checked in with me to make sure I'm OK this week. They've brought me meals every night this week. Yum! They have busy full lives and have a lot going on too. I felt loved that they've paused and supporting me in this way. Thanks Colette, Ruth, Lori, Claudia, Janet and Amber!
  • My friend Marian called to check in on me. I hadn't visited with her in a long time and it was good to catch up!
  • And my family?! They've been amazing! Willingly helping me every time I ask. With a good attitude. They've had to step up and help me more with my Etsy orders. I know it's not their favorite. 
  • The other night in the car I was in bad shape. Sarah continually got her hands cold on her water bottle and put them on my forehead to give me relief. As soon as we got home Morgan got me medicine without even asking. Their concern for me warms my heart. 
  • A mom of a girl in my Sunday school class told me that her sweet girl remembered me in her prayers this week. 
  • And countless well wishes on social media and texts has been sweet too!!

Friday, May 29, 2015

"All Mixed Up" A to Z Summer Fun

So for the summer of 2015, we are doing "all mixed up" A to Z summer fun.  We aren't going in order and just doing what we feel like on the days we have time.  Like today we are starting with G Day since it's a rainy inside kind of day! We also aren't taking a big trip this year, so this year's list includes some 'bigger' items for weekend-trips and stay-cation fun. Find more ideas here: A to Z Summer Fun

An afternoon with Mrs. Long
Baking Day
Cinema visit
Driving with Dad (take us to an empty parking lot and let us drive); Donuts
Edible Paper (make)
Finding Diamonds @ Diamond Crater State Park
Games! Games! Games!
Helping at Convoy of Hope (July)
Ice Cream (homemade)
Japanese Stroll Garden Relaxing Day
Kayaking @ Lake Springfield (or in Arkansas)
Library Program and/or visit
Movie Day
Neighbors Over
Outing with Henry
Pizza Picnic at the Park with Pop
Quick! Run from the water balloons!
Runway (buy new school clothes and show them off); Rainbow Making
Six Flags with Stolls
Treasure Hunt
Upcycle Craft Day
Venture to the Lake
Water Fun @ Republic Pool
Xmas Day – Celebrate Christmas in July
Yogurt (the frozen kind) and Yoga
Zone Visit (Sky Zone that is!)

Saturday, April 11, 2015

I like her growing up!

I often use hashtags like #yearsflyingby #growinguptoofast #timepleaseslowdown #nopausebutton -- I feel this. Every day. I love being a momma. I love these years. I don't want them to end.

And yet I do. Because I like watching my girls grow up. I like seeing them discover this world, to enjoy relationships, and be all who God created them to be.  If they never grew up, I wouldn't get the joy of experiencing all these bittersweet moments of motherhood. 

I just had to pause on this cloudy Saturday morning, while Mike and our girls are watching yet another episode of Star Trek Next Generation, and record one such incident.


Last year, and at the beginning of this year, Morgan use to dread, I mean absolutely dread, going to school on pep assembly days.  She had this paralyzing fear that she would be called to the front of the school and have to participate in the assembly in front of everyone.  (All of us true introverts just said amen!) But for her, it was intense. She would actually beg me to let her stay home from school on pep assembly days.  And I had to remind her how she had begged me in kindergarten to stay home from school on field day because of these same fears, and yet she came home saying it was her best day ever.  Then  I'd send her off with a prayer whispered upward.

Well yesterday, she performed with her color guard team at the pep assembly!! Yes.She.Did. And then, after school she tried out for the high school color guard team which means she will be performing in front of large audiences this coming year if she makes the team!

This 'growing up' of hers makes my heart sing and dance in a hundred shades of happiness. 

I will also add, that a couple of weeks ago the youth had a march madness night - and even on the way to church she was like "I am NOT going to be on a team for games" -- and after she got home... "Guess what mom, our team WON and I actually participated in a relay in front of everyone - it was awesome!!" Growth. It's a beautiful thing.

Spring is here. She is blossoming. Life is beautiful. I love this season we are in.

And if I couldn't be proud enough already...



Saturday, February 7, 2015

Everyday Life & The Moon

Mike has taken the girls to an all day boater safety class - which leaves me a glorious day to myself! :) Well this is my 2nd day, since I had yesterday off too. But yesterday I had to make 9 orders in my etsy shop and do laundry, and pay bills.  And today I'm spending a chunk of the day doing taxes. But still it's 'my day'! :) And I'm trying NOT to think about the fact the girls will actually be driving the boat this summer!! gulp.

Yesterday, Morgan was so excited when she came home from school -- she got all the info to choose her classes for HS next year!!  I enjoyed sitting on the couch with her for 45 minutes reviewing it all, listening to her dreams and desires about her future. I am still in denial that she is this old already, but doing my best to embrace it and enjoy the moments it holds. BTW, she's definitely interested in a science field right now and is super excited she gets to take two honors classes next year - she already had her teacher's signatures of approval! She is on the ball!

Sarah is turning 12 in 4 more days. She thinks it's funny to remind me. Because I make a big deal of it - 12?! 12! How is this possible? You can't be 12 yet! :) Seriously, she can't be! She recently finished the Harry Potter Series - she read all 6 books in like 6 weeks. She averaged 80 pages a day (I made her do the math - I think she may have rolled her eyes at me - but I like dorky facts like that!) And for her birthday she can think of nothing she wants.  She still has Christmas money she hasn't spent.  I love how she is just content, happy in the moment, happy with what she has. After two weeks of asking what she wants, she finally came in this morning and told me -- Mom, I finally know what I want, a new hairbrush!! She makes me think extra hard to find a great gift for her! :)

photo source: unknown

And lastly, I've been wanting to write about the moon, ever since it took my breath away earlier this week -- and several other times this week -- it's been beautiful! (And I can appreciate a full moon even more now that I'm no longer subbing! ;) )

I turned the corner, and I gasped, was that the moon rising over the tree tops? How could it possibly look so enormous? Did it really have a pink hue too it, as the equally breathtaking winter sunset was reflecting off it? I wanted to chase it down, I didn't want to go down the hill and watch it disappear.  After I finally emerged on the other side of the valley and the trees, it was still beautiful, but it had risen more, and there it was now - a brilliant white shinning down on this earth, reflecting light for all to see.

In that moment, I had this thought. The moon doesn't make it's own light. It simply relfects the sun's light.  As Christians, isn't this true for us? We don't make our own light, but the more we turn towards the Son, the more we are able to reflect His light (and love and hope) onto this earth. And I was reminded that is what I want, for others to see Him when they look at my life. That is my prayer. My #discovery for this week.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Dear Sleep, I miss you!

Dear Sleep, Why have you left me? Where have you gone? I LOVE YOU and I really really wish you'd return to me.  I'm not too fond of my friend Mr. Insomnia.  Hey, I tell you what, it's the weekend, let's get reconnected! What do you say? You in?! Love, me

Seriously, it's been quite a week. Some long days and even longer sleepless nights.  But in the midst of it all, there is this...

Back when I was still bottle feeding Morgan, I still remember what one of the moms in my bible study shared - I don't remember her name, but I remember her words. They went something like this: when my kids get home, I try to take a little bit of the harshness and realities of the world away. I've also heard it said something like this: home should be a safe place to land.  And that is what I've tried to do within the four walls of our house...to make it a home, a place where my girls feel safe, loved unconditionally, and want to be!

Well you know what I've discovered this week? That this home has been a safe place for me to land this week.  At the end of a very long day Wednesday - I dropped girls off at school at 7am and didn't return from work til 6pm - I came home to Mike having made me my Chicken and Wild Rice Soup (since we finally got some more wild rice after Duke decided to steal the last delivery of rice off the front porch and scatter it in the yard!) and Morgan had made her frosted brownies from scratch.

Then last night, I came home to dinner coming out of the oven again, followed by an evening filled with pure silliness and tons of laughter pouring through the rooms of our home. I mostly laid on the couch and did complete a few etsy orders (speaking of which - I got my DBA, tax ID and checking account set up finally this past week for my etsy store - since this has become more than just a hobby and the orders keep coming in! yay!)  I paused in my exhaustion and cherished that which is "home". 

Also, in the message last Sunday, we were challenged to ask others "what's it like on the other side of me?" You know, how do others really see me -- how do I make them feel?  I still want to ask a few friends who I know will be honest with me, but I asked Mike and the girls this week.

Mike informed me that he likes both sides of me! ;) (And I'll keep the rest of his insight private.)  

Morgan said that she likes how I  always look for the positive in things and how even though it's annoying, she likes how I don't let them rot their brain watching TV and make them do other things, and that I give them 'jobs' so that they will be responsible when they grow up! Even though she did say I was 'cheap' and not paying them enough for jobs around the house!  Umm, I confess, it's true.

Sarah said she likes how I care about other people, that I'm loving and she thinks I do a good job providing the right kind of discipline when they need it. (Mike says that means I'm too easy on them -- but we all know he's the softy!)

I don't know how I got these amazing kids, but I'm so glad to be their momma and share this journey with their amazing dad! 

I know they won't always see things so positively, being that we have several teenage years ahead, but for this week, I'll treasure their responses and use them as a confirmation that despite all the times I yell and feel like I screw up as a mom, and find myself crying because I don't know what to do, that maybe, just maybe, I'm doing something right!

And lastly, there are these two who melt my heart...



Friday, January 2, 2015

Discover: My One Word for 2015

My word for 2015 is DISCOVER. Here's some of the random thoughts about this word going through my head after a sleepless night of pondering it last night.  I'm sure it will look different as the year plays out, but here's my starting point.

  • Most importantly I want to discover, or better, REdiscover God.  I want to be awed by the God of the universe - by His majesty, His greatness, His love. I don't want to take my relationship with Him for granted. I want to rediscover this amazing God!
  • I want to discover new ways to connect with my growing girls.  Morgan will be entering HS this year (do you know how hard it is to type those words?!) and Sarah is in MS -- I need to keep my eyes open for ways to stay connected to them while at the same time inspiring their independence. A fine balance to discover. 
  • Mike and I started this last month, but we want to continue to discover new restaurants in Downtown Springfield with a weekly lunch date now that we are both working downtown.
  • I'd like to discover just how strong my body really is and push myself to better health, flexibility and strength. To discover that my body is stronger than I realize. (This may be the hardest!) 
  • I want to discover my position in my new job - it's a position that is being created and evolving and I know it will look a lot different by the end of this year than it looks now. 
  • Here's another REdiscover... I want to rediscover my love for writing. I have barely wrote anything, private or public this past year. 
  • I want to discover a new 'look' for me... to reinvent my wardrobe over the coming year. (Maybe this is the beginning of my mid-life crisis?! ha!) But seriously, do you know how many clothes in my drawers are ones I had 15 years ago?! It's time to discover something new. 
  • Discover new trails, maybe even a new place, new places to replenish my soul. 
"When it comes time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived." Henry David Thoreau #quote #thoreau