Saturday, December 31, 2011

Lights! Camera! Action!

As 2011 leaves us…forever…I am reminded that each year I have on this earth is a gift. (This 4 minute, 20 second video is my favorite video from 2011, and maybe all time, which beautifully reminds me of the gift that life is.)  And as I travel home across 671 miles today, I find myself pondering the coming year. I keep coming back to this thought:  I want this coming year to be about putting action to my intentions.

Intentions like volunteering in the community again. Intentions like contacting a publisher or two about book idea. Intentions like spending more one on one time with my girls. And intentions like actually getting together for lunch with a friend. And writing some letters I’ve been ‘intending’ to write for awhile. And having the neighbors over to play cards. Intentions like buying more handmade gifts, or actually making my own.  Intentions like regular exercise and a healthier lifestyle. Intentions like reading my bible on a more regular basis, rather than sporadically. You see, the truth is, I can spend my whole life thinking about doing something…or I can actually do it. Action. That’s my word for 2012. What’s yours?! 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Week

First, the pictures of what I'm calling our "American Girl" Christmas...
Next, capturing into words, some of the memories of our Christmas week...

  • Two miles into our 671 mile car trip my sarcastic daughter (Morgan) asks, "Are we there yet?" Ha, ha! And at 5:15am, I didn't even break into my famous song of "we'll get there when we get there, and have a great time when we do, but half the fun of getting where we're going, is going there with you!" 
  • The girls participated in their first communion at Christmas Eve service with their grandma and grandpa. Sweet moment. 
  • Aunt Suzie 'capturing' Santa on her camera in the middle of the night. And how much it helped my skeptical 'believing in Santa girls' to still believe in the magic! 
  • How happy my girls were with their presents, even if they didn't get their big wish items! I never once heard a complaint. Just smiles. And joy. 
  • Making t-shirt scarves with my sister.
  • Still being able to beat my 15 year old nephew at  monopoly. And that he still wanted to play the game with me!
  • My fingers turning raw from winding up the penguin to swim in the water, again and again, so I could see the smile on my 3 year old nephew's face again and again. 
  • Listening to girls splash in the pool with their cousins in Chicago. And their giggles playing Headbanz with them. 
  • Three girls, all snuggled together in one (twin) bed, while giggles (and whispers) drifted out of the door. Awww, sweet cousin love! 
  • Seeing family and being reminded of how much we are loved!
But now I must go, for there are more memories yet to be made! 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Half Birthdays

I love pausing to remember half birthdays! The pausing helps me savor these precious years zooming on by! Today is Morgan's 10.5 birthday! I think it's cute how now when someone asks her age, she will no longer say, "I'm ten!" Rather she will say "I'm ten and a half!" That half is such a big deal. After all, you're so much bigger when you are ten and a half! 

I woke up this morning wondering, when is the 'half' no longer important? I certainly don't go around saying I'm 37 and a half! I don't know, but as long as it's important to them, I will celebrate every half year I can! And something tells me I may even be calling them up and wishing them a happy thirty and a half  birthday one day!

p.s. - And I'm LOVING our new GIANT wall scrabble game. Yesterday the words intersected to read, "Good Morning". Today they intersect with "Happy Half Birthday Fun"! And by the end of the day...the scrabble game is completed with all the letters used up!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Giant Scrabble Game!

This is the weekend before Christmas and other than two birthday parties and church, we have no commitments! So we are savoring the family time we have!

Mike's Gram (almost 94) loves the game scrabble. I have fond memories of playing it at her dining room table when we visited her in upstate NY. Well, she always sends us money for Christmas, and I knew that I wanted to take some of the money and buy the materials to make this - A GIANT scrabble game!! (although we'll play it more like banagrams, as there is no 'official' board.)

Mike made the frame for me today and I'm not sure if my smile was bigger or the girls when it got hung up! As you can see from the pictures, the girls had lots of fun creating a full board before bedtime tonight.

I have a feeling this will create hours of entertainment for our family, and any friends who stop by and want to add a word or two!! I also love it because it will be a reminder of the sweet lady we know and get to call "Gram"!

Today, we also made some Christmas candy, watched a Christmas movie, opened presents from the neighbor and the ones that came in the mail from distant cousins. Tomorrow, we plan to go look at Christmas lights. Oh, and today, we also got out our "Christmas Train." It's not really Christmasy, except we get it out only at Christmas time. It was Mike's dad's train, so it's over 60 years old. As you can see from the picture, the girls love getting out all their doll house and polly toys (that they rarely play with these days) and they create an entire village around the train. I love Christmastime!  And I love spending it unrushed with those I love the most!! 

Merry Xmas!

I know people will read this and disagree with me. That's okay, we don't have to agree, but I am going to get on my soapbox for a minute.  I use to care about the whole Xmas thing and/or Happy Holidays issue. I don't anymore. I choose to write and say Merry Christmas, and probably always will. But really, I truly don't care what other Christmas greetings people say.

You see, I've been discovering, in the bigger picture of life - THIS 'issue' is a minor issue. And honestly, I wonder if God really even cares what Christmas greetings people share. When I think of God's heart - His heart for those living in poverty (note from our pastor's message last week - did you know poverty is mentioned 2,100 in the bible - I think THIS is an issue God cares deeply about!), when I think of all the pain, brokenness, disease, and spiritual emptiness in this world - I think THESE are issues close to God's heart. And as a Christian, I believe I should be more concerned about these bigger issues and not waste my energy being concerned over minor issues, like how we say or don't say Merry Christmas!  Am I loving people? Am I doing what I can with my gifts, my time, my money, to be compassionate and giving in this world? These are the things I need to worry about.

Reality Check.

Am I wishing others a Merry Christmas while looking like the moms in this photo? I like to give the excuse that I don't shop Black Friday - that's not me in those photos - and yet I look under our Christmas tree right now, at all the presents ready to open - and I think about how little I've seemed to give to those hurting this season - and I'm silenced. Sure, this season, we've bought some toys and food for those living in poverty in our community - and I've picked up an application to fill out to begin volunteering again in our community after the first of the year - but within me lies this unsettled-ness. This awakening. I'm not sure where it will lead, but I'm trying to not ignore it. To love better, to care more, and to put actions to my intentions. Maybe that's what this next year needs to be about for me, putting actions to my intentions. (Oh, where did that come from? I like it!)

ps - Did you know the Greek symbol chi (X) means "Christ"? And according to Wikipedia, as early as 1634 you could find Christianity referred to as Xianity?

pss - Thanks to Tommy Sparger and North Point Church for causing me to pause and think about bigger issues of God's heart!

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Merriest Season of All

This blog entry is WAY slooowwwing down my productivity, but sometimes something within me just has to try and capture into words all that my heart is feeling.

Twinkling lights filling the living room, framing the collection of a lifetime of ornaments. Flames flickering out warmth into the room. Four unmatched, unique, childhood stockings hanging from the mantle. Wrapping paper scattered throughout the floor. Memories of this past year being scribbled down onto paper and formed into a "Christmas Letter". Boxes packaged up and ready to ship. Hot chocolate filling me from the inside out with joy. Dog curious about all this 'christmasy' stuff! (psst - she looks so cute in her new Christmas collar!) Centuries old Christmas carols filling the air with promises of hope, love, peace.  Awww, Christmas, I  love you, you are the merriest time of season of all! I'm so glad you come to visit once a year and remind me of all that is truly important in my life.

On a different did I get so lucky to be the mom of these sweet sisters?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Nephew IS HiLAriOuS!!

Noah in awe of the train. We got his big bro
 this train about 12 years ago! 
I seriously think I need to call my nephew every night. He is absolutely hilarious. He is the cutest two (almost three) year old ever!  So here is my attempt at  capturing a few snippets of tonight's phone call from him.

me: Noah, that is so cool! (he was telling me about his new lion hat)
Noah: No, not cool. It is awesome!
me: Awesome Noah!

me: Noah, Aunt Cathy loves you.
Noah: No, Mommy loves me.
me: Well mommy and Aunt Cathy loves you.
Noah: No, only mommy.
(30 secs later) me: Good night Noah, I love you.
Noah: Good night Aunt Cathy, love you too!

me: So Noah, is that okay?
Noah: No, it's not okay Aunt Cathy, it is fine!

me: Noah, is there snow outside?
Noah: No, it's just dark.
me: There is snow and dark.
Noah: No Aunt Cathy, just dark.
me: Is the snow hiding behind the dark?
Noah: (a bit frustrated)  No, just dark.

He apparently decided to tell everyone a knock knock joke at daycare. And he told me.  Here you go.
Knock Knock
Who's There?
Shelby who?
Shelby coming round the mountain when she comes!

I'm sure this is no way near as funny reading it, as the actual conversation was, but hopefully this will jog my memory one day of this sweet phone call I had with him.  And I must say, I just want to jump in the car now and drive up to see him! And play 'cars' with him! Soon, soon...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Good Stuff Guide

A year or so ago, I fell in love with this website, I love the articles she has on here. Just happy and fun, featuring great ideas, interesting products and toys. And the fun part is that she's been featuring some of my ideas on her site! :) I must admit, it is fun to see others LOVE my ideas and share them around! And she's even asked me if she can share my ideas on a more regular basis! Ummm, yay!! Thanks, Heidi!

If you're interested, you can sign up, on the website, for email or RSS feed so you don't miss any of the inspiration and fun! You can also find The Good Stuff Guide on facebook.

Here are the articles of mine she has already posted! (Is it okay that I'm smiling as I type this?!)

Our Christmas Stocking Tradition

Our Thanksgiving Tradition

Our A to Z Summer Fun

Monday, November 28, 2011

Double Murder at the Lake House: 15 Years Later

Time is a mystery.  Some moments it feels like it was a lifetime ago, and then other times, it feels as raw as it did yesterday. The actual date is most likely December 2, but to me, I always feel it the deepest the Monday after Thanksgiving.  That was the day my world changed forever. I wouldn’t know about it until the wee hours of Wednesday, and you can read about it here if you want (this is the beginning of a memoir I wrote for the girls to read one day).

Double Murder at the Lake House. Sounds like the perfect plot for the next great bestseller. Or the latest story line on CSI. Until it is real life. Until it is my life. And my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Until it shatters my happily ever after life. Until I’m 22 and dealing with evil so horrific that my heart is shattered into a hundred or more unrecognizable pieces.

So here I am 15 years later, pondering some of the things my heart has discovered along my journey of healing.  (for those of you who do not know, this tragedy continued with a not-guilty verdict at trial, an equally difficult thing to deal with)
  • As much as my heart still wants justice, I’ve discovered that the one thing more powerful than justice is grace. Grace is forgiveness undeserved.  Along with that, you must forgive as often as you need to. Again and again.
  • Life does go on. And you can still live ‘happily ever after’. But it’s also okay to occasionally break down and cry, because sometimes the pain just needs to be released. They will always be missed. And that is okay.
  • Sometimes you get to choose your life path. Sometimes life chooses it for you. Just keep travelling, and enjoy the journey. Figure out what’s important and remember, you always have time for the things you put first.
  • Sometimes it takes the tragedy to see the goodness. I wish it didn’t have to be this way.
  • Yes, we live in a broken, messed up world. With pain and evil.  God gives us free will to choose him or not choose him. To choose goodness or choose evil. And some people choose evil.  And even those of us who choose goodness still must live with the suffering caused by those who don’t. It stinks. Yet, there is a God who is here, in our lives, carrying us, especially when we find ourselves hurting from a life that has indeed given us too much to bear. He never leaves us. Ever. Even when it may feel like it.
  • God is big enough for our toughest questions and our never ending ‘whys’. He embraces our transparency and authenticity.
  • Healing takes time. There are layers upon layers of healing. I’ve worked thru many of those layers and yet, if I’m completely honest, I’m still healing.  Still layers of pain and confusion my soul is wrestling with. 
  • You are never ever promised tomorrow. Enjoy this moment. Cherish the relationships that are a part of your life right now.  Love BIG. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dear Linda,

Just in case there really are windows in the floor of heaven, or better yet, they have access to the internet there, I’m writing this letter for my mother-in-law to read.

Dear Linda,

Sometimes I’m still amazed when the tears fall without warning, but they still do. This week it happened when I read this saying, “Thank you for raising your son to be the man of my dreams.” Oh how I wish I could tell you this in person – turn the saying into a cross-stitch or a painted plaque for your wall; then wrap it up with love and watch your hands unwrap it, and look into your eyes after you read it - my own eyes certain to be holding back the tears of gratitude as I look back into yours.  But I can’t. 15 years now and I still miss you.

I wish you were here to see what an amazing man your son is. A man who loves me, and your grandchildren, deeply and well. A man who has his priorities right, one who looks forward to getting home to us at the end of the day to simply enjoy ‘life’ with us. Yet a man who works hard, who helps make the world a little bit safer and better place, everyday in his career. He provides well for us. He is a man of integrity.  He is stable, trustworthy, and always calm under pressure. I’ve had more than one person whom he works with ask me, “Does he ever get mad?” to which I simply respond, ‘no, not really’. They simply find it amazing that someone can be so calm. I seriously can count on my fingers the number of times he’s gotten angry in the past 20 years. He is faithful and steadfast. His arms are a safe place for me to fall each night. He laughs easily. He makes sure we have fun. He makes wise decisions. He’s patient with me and all my mood swings.

Thank you for letting him ‘fix’ so many things in your home growing up. For letting him cut apart frogs and sew them back up (you may or may not have known about that one!), for letting him take apart radios and tvs and tinker with cars. For trusting him with home repair projects and believing in him when was trying to fix things. And for telling him thank you when he finished. He is so incredibly handy. There are very few things he can not fix. I’m constantly amazed at what a great problem solver he is!

He’s taught me that even though life can be hard, really hard, it still goes on and we can still live a happy and full life. He told me you taught him that. After you lost his dad, you found strength and courage to raise your family and make a happy, secure childhood for them. And you took him to church and told him about Jesus and he saw you believe in God throughout it all. Thank you for attending childhood concerts, and all his sporting events, and especially for all those drives you made to pick him up from college so he could come home and see me! I imagine you were weary at times, and shed a few tears of your own. Please know that it was worth it all. You raised an amazing son.

In fact, I’m sure my two sister-in-laws could say very similar things. You’ve actually raised three amazing sons. I wish you could be a part of all our families. I wish all eight of your grandkids could know the warmth of your hugs and the comfort of your handmade blankets.  And I really wish I could tell you this Thanksgiving how very thankful I am to you. I will continue to love your son deeply every day ‘until the day after forever’!

With love and gratitude, Cathy

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Autumn Gorgeousness

I absolutely LOVE pinterest these days. Even more than facebook, which is saying a lot. Pinterest just makes me smile. and feel happy. and inspires me. I've collected a few autumn photos on my pinterest boards.
Rainbow Woods
 I **wish** I could take beautiful photos like this.
 I **wish** I could visit these breathtakingly beautiful places in person.
Early Autumn, Bulgaria
I **wish** one of these photos could be the view off my back deck.
But for now, I'm **thankful** for the talent of others who do visit and live in these places, and pause to capture these sights on film. Because just looking at these pictures makes me smile. And breathe in deeply. And celebrate the One who painted all this gorgeous creation!  So as the last of autumn leaves us for another year, I just wanted to pause and celebrate the beauty these photos capture! Thank you to each of these 'unknown' photographers whose photos have added a simple joy to my life!

Somewhere 'Out West', America

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hope. It's a Beautiful Thing.

This week hope is alive. And hope makes me smile. BIG. And dream. And believe in my dreams. And feel alive. It makes a stressful day brighter. It renews passion. And I couldn't imagine a world without hope. And it's such a good feeling, it makes me want to pass it on. and on. and on.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

(in)courage (in)spired deals: Table Runner and Gratitude

Oh, I am loving these monthly giveaways from DaySpring/ incourage. You see, they send me an awesome product, for free, and then I get to leave a honest and fair review of the item on my blog (i.e., my own opinion). So here I am!

I was already smiling when I saw the box on my doorstep, but then I opened the box...and my smile grew! This absolutely beautiful tablerunner was in the box! The details are worth noting...The words are stitched on, the flower designs appliqued/stitched around the edges, ruffled pleats along the border.  And I LOVE the fall colors - not gaudy, but simply beautiful. I immediately put it on my table. Then a miracle happened (just kidding - kind of!) My husband even noticed I got a new table runner and commented how much he liked it when he got home!

And I love the subtle reminder that is stitched onto both ends of the runner.... Let there be thankfulness to God! Ephesians 5:4. Oh, I want that to be my life song...not just for the holiday. All the gifts He gives me every day...oh, let me pause and say thanks! That's what this past year, my year of counting 1000 gifts and more, has been about. A lifestyle of stopping to show thanks to the very One who gives them all to me.  During this season of thanksgiving, I am also pausing to show my daughters how thankful I am for them, by writing a new reason every day of the month on their bathroom mirror. You can read about it here. I am reminded of the saying, "We always have time for the things we put first." and stopping to show gratitude is something I try to be intentional about, something I try to put first. I.must.make.the.time. AND.take.the.time. It nourishes my soul!

And now I have this beautiful table runner to serve as reminder of life's simple pleasures... and all the thankfulness that is mine. And I'm glad I get to share the joy of it with all who stop by and share our table this holiday season. Thank you, Dayspring for your monthly (in)spired deals! You brighten my world! And I love the way your products give subtle, yet, beautiful reminders of truth.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gratitude. Thanksgiving. Passing it On.

Every November, since 2006, we've been doing the same activity. I have this old cornucopia that sits on our dining room table. Next to it are strips of blank paper and pens. Every night at dinner, we write one thing we are thankful for, share it, and put it in the cornucopia. Then on Thanksgiving Day, we read them all.

Then I saved them all. And when I finally had enough at the end of last year, I made place-mats with them.

Tonight was the first night they were on our table. The girls smiles and enjoyment from reading them was simply precious. They were trying to get each other to guess who had wrote what! :) I also saved their fall artwork during these years and put it on the place-mats too.  Two sheets of paper, covered with contact paper. Simple. Easy. Here are a couple of pictures, sorry for the poor photo quality.

New this year, I decided to do something different during the month of November.  So, using my favorite EXPO marker idea, combined with my other favorite A to Z idea, I'm writing on the girl's bathroom mirror, one new thing every day this month. The top of the mirror says,
"My A to Z reasons I'm thankful 4 my girls!" So far...

A. Always try to do the right thing.
B. Big Brown Eyes (windows to their soul!)
C. Care about other's feelings.
(and for tomorrow) D. Dance and Sing

Gratitude. Doing my best to pass it along to my girls! 

Monday, October 31, 2011


They thought balancing baskets on their heads was 'indian like'!

One of the neighbors called the girl's 'twindians' tonight! We all thought it was cute, so it's what we kept calling them all night! We got to trick or treat with baby Henry tonight too! He was a deer, but you can't see his cute 'hooves' in the picture. Oh, I love these trick or treating years with the girls! Way too much sugar, but their giggles all day long just make my heart smile! These years are going to end waaay too soon! But I will have to remember to heed Dr. Suess' advice, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

Henry's First Trick or Treat! 
Our Dinner!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What to do with 'Hell' on Earth

Our church has an outreach, called ImpACT (I like how it has "I ACT" in it). It's a strategic outreach to make a dent in the four global giants of poverty, disease, illiteracy, and spiritual emptiness. It's a huge reason I LOVE our church so much.  I always find myself challenged by the annual "ImpACT" talk.

Here are a few random notes from today's talk.

  • There may be 'hell' on earth, but we can bring a little bit of heaven.
  • Don't ask, Where is God (when you see hurting and brokenness and injustice in the world)? But rather ask, where am I? What am I doing to bring a bit of heaven to earth? 
  • Proverbs 31: 8-9 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.  
  • Find where God's heart is. And join him there. And throughout scripture you see that his heart is with the poor and broken. 
  • I am in the center of God's will when I am in the midst of the poor and hurting. Matt 25: 35-40
  • And what if we get this thing right? What if we really are the hands and feet of Christ and love others well in our world? After I got home I read a beautiful example of this on a blog, and you can read about it here. One person, stepping out of her comfort zone, and loving those hurting and broken with the love of God. Beautiful. Inspiring. God can bring healing and hope to others when we choose to act.   
And I hope that which has been stirred in my heart today will lead to action. It's so easy to give excuses for inaction.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Day Off of School...

  • a quick trip to walmart for all stuff needed for our fun, and donuts to start the day.
  • a long walk with a friend and her sweet baby. Oops, forgot a picture!
  • an attempt at making our very first scarecrow.

  • carving our pumpkins. I tried drilling mine this year. Mike loves his Spartans. Sarah's has the biggest grin. And Morgan's has the cute tongue. 

  • and making some yummy new recipes. Homemade soft pretzel bites. Homemade mozzarella sticks. and our favorite, homemade chicken nuggets. 
  • and staying up late to cheer on the Cardinals!! We also made these fun baseball cookies to help us celebrate! Loved girls hilarious questions during the game, like: "Do they use pizza boxes for bases?" and "Why is the guy behind the batter wearing a tux?" 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Gift of an Ordinary Morning

Today was just an ordinary morning...the only thing making it un-ordinary was my choice to pause and notice all the joys the morning held.

Before the sun had crested the horizon, I crept into the girls room.  Kissing warm checks. Smoothing their crazy hair the fairies seemed to have danced in last night. Whispering into their ears 'good mornings' and 'I love yous'. Sleepy eyelids opening. Discussing weather and possible clothing choices.  Since I was not working today, I found a book I wanted to finish, flipped on the switch the fireplace, watched flames dance warmth into the room, fixed some hot chocolate, snuggled into my blanket.

Then, pausing to chat with girls during breakfast. Rice Krispies left spilled on counter tops. Listening to daughters make up songs in front of bathroom mirror. Daughter asking if she can wear said shoes. Not my first choice, but then I remember the quote I read "some girls are just born with glitter in their veins." "Sure, you can wear those shoes." Five minute reminder to finish up and head out the door to catch the school bus. No lunches to make this morning. They are happy to eat school pizza. School notebooks signed. School bags on shoulders, coats on. I make sure to make eye contact as I hug them goodbye. "Love you, Have a great day!" "You too, mom. Love you!" Kisses left to dry on foreheads.

Door closes. I snuggle back into couch and continue reading.  Two pages left to go on my book and the phone rings at 8:22. Can I work today? School begins in 8 minutes.  "Sure! I'll be there shortly!" And so my 'to do list' for the morning had to wait, and yet, I am thankful for the extra few moments I had to pause and remember what a gift the everyday ordinary-ness of my life is!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Getting Dunked

We've been talking with the girls this past year about baptism. Obviously, we wanted to make sure they understood what it was before they got baptized. Well tonight, at our church, was "Fall Splash" and they decided they did want to get baptized. I asked them to write down why they were getting baptized. 

Sarah wrote,  "I'm getting baptized because I want to show people I made God my forever friend." So I asked her how she knows he's her forever friend, to which she responded "I did my ABCs. A - [admit] tell God you are a sinner. B - Believe Jesus is the son of God. C- Confess Jesus is your savior."

Morgan wrote, "I'm getting baptized because I want to show everybody that I chose Jesus as my forever friend. I want to show that I believe in Jesus and he died for me and the world." And again, how did she know he was her forever friend? "A - I admitted to God that I sinned so I have to turn away from my sin. B - I have to believe that Jesus is my forever friend and my savior and my lord. C- I confessed that he is my savior and he is my friend forever."

God wants relationship with us. And that's what I want them to understand. Yes, the God of the universe, cares deeply about us, and desires to be in relationship with us. He has made a way (Jesus) for this to be possible. He will always be there for them. I hope this is a day they remember for always, and when 'life happens' and gets rough - I hope they remember that God is there, walking with them, desiring relationship with them. He has purposes and plans for their lives. Baptism isn't salvation. They make that choice in their hearts. But it is a beautiful act, of faith, showing others the choice their heart made. 

Our church has baptized over 1,000 people this past year!! I'm not sure how many will get baptized this weekend, at least a couple hundred, I'm sure. I love the excitement and celebration of baptism (as you will see in the video)! So, without further ado, here is the video from tonight. "I baptize you in the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit..."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

True Beauty

My beautiful daughters. 
Each passing year I get to be these girls' mom, I am more and more aware of how deeply I want them to understand true beauty. To know that even more important than how beautiful they are on the outside, it is what's inside of them that will carry them well through life. To have positive self-esteem. In a world that seems to insist little girls grow up too quickly and 'sexy' seems to be encouraged at a younger and younger age (do you hear my sigh?) - I want them to know that being modest is beautiful too. That's why I love, because they exist to help instill the value of true beauty into tween girls.  Secret Keeper Girls has a national 'pajama party tour' for tweens and their moms - and I had a fun night with the girls at the event earlier this week!

We ate dinner at Andy's before the Secret Keeper Event! & of course I let them get hot fudge jackhammered into the middle of their concretes!
Lucky us - we have wonderful neighbors!
The girls (and their moms) came with us! 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Sky is Falling!!

This time of year, I find myself saying "the sky is falling, the sky is falling!" quite often.  You see, before there were houses in our neighborhood, there was a walnut farm here. So needless to say, the walnuts are sure falling everywhere around us this time of year! Think, pool balls falling from trees, okay maybe not that heavy, but certainly that large!

Additionally, the school book fair is this week and the girls wanted extra money to buy books.  So, I challenged them last week to begin picking up walnuts. The trailer was full today, so we took them to the huller.  Side note: The majority of black walnuts sold in the united states come from Missouri! And for all their hard work...they got $27.72! Of course they had divide it among their friends who helped them out this past week, but they still ended up with $8/each. So, they are filling the trailer again! :) The walnuts have to be picked up anyways, and the neighbors appreciate the help, and they are outside enjoying the fall weather! It's a great thing!  I guess money really does grow on trees!

Update: 10.7.11 - Sold another load for $31.20!!
Update: 10.11.11 - Sold another load for $34.20!!
Total: almost 800 lbs of hulled walnuts!! $12/per 100 lbs. 
Updated: 10.27.11 - Sold another load for $49.10 (491 lbs of hulled walnuts! $10/lb now)

Waiting our turn at the Huller. That's a lot of walnuts!!
Putting our walnuts into the huller. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Worms (by Sarah)

Everything you ever needed to know about worms, according to Sarah, age 8. (Sarah wrote the following paper at school.)
This is a worm. My sister thinks worms are grows {gross}. I don't think they are. Worms are nice they make your flowers grow by pooping. My mom likes worms because she likes seeing her pretty flowers. A worm is slimey. They can brake in half and still be alive. Worms are pink but they look a little brown because of the brown dirt. 


So, this morning, Sarah brings me this picture from her room. On the back I had simply scribbled "Sisters Forever, March 2006". And I am reminded how fleeting each season of my life truly is.  It seems like yesterday we were at playgroup, at the mall, when a photographer from Sears asked if we'd be willing to get a free picture taken, as part of a new gal's training. Well, sure! This isn't the best picture of the girls during that season of our lives, but for me, it captures the everyday sweetness of my life then.  Oh, this season of my life is quite sweet too...last weekend we collected leaves on our walk, and took the girls to their first high school football game. So here are a few pictures to capture this ever fleeting, amazingly wonderful thing called my life! :)
Sister's Forever, March 2006, ages 3 & 4

Friday Night Lights, Sept 2011, ages 8 & 10

First Signs of Autumn, September 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011


So, I've heard about Pinterest for some time now, I knew I'd love, but I've resisted, because I was afraid I'd love it too much and spend waaaay tooo much time on it! Well since it's been raining NON-STOP all weekend (and we desperatly needed rain, so I'm not complaining!) I decided to hop onto Pinterest today and play around! What a really fun website!   
It's basically an online cork board to put all your favorite ideas you find while searching the internet... which meets facebook.  See, not only do I have cork boards, but my friends, and others, can also post ideas they find on the internet on their cork boards, then if I like their ideas, or they like mine, we can just 'repin' the idea onto our cork board. You can add comments too.  I've already found several neat ideas. And I don't have to search through my long list of bookmarks or try to remember where it was I saw it - I simply go to pinterest and click on the picture of it on my cork board...and viola! Organized Ideas!! LOVE IT!! 
Love this!
One Craft I found on Pinterest Today.
Real Leaves Dipped in Wax.
And you can make as many cork boards as you'd like... a few of my cork boards include: Love this idea! Projects to try with my girls (btw - showed them the projects I found...they are excited to try them out!), Camping Sweet Camping, Collecting Quotes, Glimpses of Heaven, and Yummy! 

If you've never heard of Pinterest or tried it out - what are you waiting for?! Can't wait to see what cork boards you make! 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

(in)courage (in)spired deals: Beautiful Journal, Beautiful Truth

(in)courage has these monthly giveaways - they have a monthly theme and will send you a free product, and in return, ask  for an honest and fair review of the product on your blog. (Click here to go to their website to find out more.) So, I thought, why not?  I like this month's theme, based on a book titled, God's Heart for You: Embracing Your True Worth as a Woman by Holley Gerth.

My face broke into a smile when my free gift actually arrived in the mail! I recieved the journal companion to her book, the cover alone speaking truth, "In God's heart you are...delightful, free, loved, valued, strong, wonderfully made, chosen, accepted, blessed, irreplaceable." Oh, sweet truths that I need reminded of every day! The journal itself is beautifully made - sturdy, modern, fun . The pages inside are colorful, with inspiring photos, quotes and encouragement from her book. The journal still leaves lots of room to write your own thoughts on the pages themselves.  Have you ever journaled before? I don't always keep one, but I love looking back on the ones I have and 'remembering when'. They are becoming treasures as the years go by. If you're looking to start journaling or if you'd like to give a gift to a sweet friend, I'd highly recommend purchasing this journal, through Blessings Unlimited.

Monday, September 12, 2011


Make new friends, but keep the old, 
one is silver and the other is gold. 

The last few weeks, we've enjoyed spending times with friends we haven't seen in awhile. My very dearest friend is Lori, and our girls share a special friendship, as well, meet...Morgan, Sarah, Madi and Morgan.  Despite the 3 years since we've moved and the new friendships we've made, they still take about 3.3 seconds to reconnect and dive into friendship. Lori and I still talk every week on the phone, but it is sure good to spend time together in person too! We still miss them dearly...and as Lori said, in many ways they feel more like cousins than family!  Here's a few pics from our day at Silver Dollar City!

Lonnie & Jennifer were friends long before any of us had kids. They are the kind of friends who will be there for you no matter what! Their beautiful hearts were deep enough to adopt three beautiful children! We had fun camping with them...the last time we had gone was 10 years ago, Morgan's first camping trip, just shy of 3 months old! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Memories

Glad my parents made it down for Labor Day weekend...we enjoyed bowling, canoeing, playing games, the girls biked and flew kites with grandpa, painted with grandma (aren't their paintings adorable!?), mom and I went to garage sales, and we ate WAY too much ice cream, frozen custard and frozen yogurt, but it was oh so yummy!! So thankful for the memories, for me, and for the girls with their grandparents. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

1000 Gifts. Counted.

Well seven months and 13 days after I began my 'counting' - I did it! I've paused and counted 1000 gifts in my life. Oh, I've probably duplicated a couple here and there, but that's okay, I'll keep counting, and some are worth counting more than once anyway, right? Below is a list of some of the gifts I've included at the end of my list.

Additionally, I was reminded in a phone call with a friend this morning, that every breath, every moment we have on this journey is a gift. This pausing helps me to not take it for granted and to fully live in this amazing, wonderful, sometimes painful and confusing, journey we call life!  

  • Fresh vegetables, especially free ones from neighbors
  • Mike’s ‘sure’ when I ask him to stop by the store on the way home from work for me!
  • Mike sitting down and looking at the girl’s projects when they ask him to.
  • Ibuprofen
  • Weekends
  • Rainbows
  • Daughters dancing in the rain
  • Morgan noticing the sunset tonight & wanting me to pause & see it
  • Walks after rain drenched the earth
  • The gift of calmness I had dealing with daughter’s attitude
  • Joy I find in ‘organizing’
  • Half price sonic drinks
  • All the tools mike owns
  • All the projects he tackles for me!
  • Games
  • Laughter with friends
  • People in my past (youth) who were there for me and made a difference in my life!
  • New friendship
  • Unexpected days of employment
  • Pizza back on school lunch menu
  • A calm and patient husband
  • Sun kissing treetops
  • Wave reflections dancing on boat’s side
  • Mike changing the rhythms of dancing reflections
  • Adoption
  • Mosquito spray
  • Squeals, smiles & laughter of kids bouncing on tube behind boat
  • Longtime friendships
  • Worn out feeling from playing hard
  • Luxury of ice and simple happiness it brings me
  • Smell of aloe nourishing sun kissed skin
  • Slowed down pace of camping
  • Chocolate pudding on children’s faces
  • Smells of campfire cooking
  • Ooey gooey messy fun of s'mores
  • Honesty of kids
  • Red veins on green leaves
  • A husband to hug
  • “Goodnight” moments with the girls
  • Long walks that seem short when accompanied by good conversation
  • God loving me in each of these gifts. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

First Day of School, Day 3

Well it's day three of the school year and Sarah was so ecstatically happy this morning -- finally she gets to begin her 3rd grade year today!! She was bouncing out of bed an hour early today with a grin a mile wide! So glad she is finally fever free, and thankful her 'sickness' never amounted to more than that!

Click on picture to read the letter.
And as much as I was ready for school to begin, I did enjoy my couple of days with just her. She made me 'mail' and put in our mailbox while she was home (see picture) to surprise me! We read two entire Junie B. Jones book - and I loved snuggling with her and listening to her giggle out loud at the funny parts. (And I wondered, did I ever laugh out loud when I read books like that?!) We also picnicked outside, played perfection, finished her summer scrapbook, and worked on a sewing project she had started six months ago.

This girl is sweetness itself and it just oozes out through her smile and laughter. She's gonna have a 'grate' year, I'm sure!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

First Day of School

My beautiful daughter, Morgan, begins 5th Grade today! And let me tell you how beautiful she is, the first thing she says when she wakes up this morning? "I'm going to make Sarah a special breakfast this morning when she wakes up!" You see, Sarah has had a fever the last two days, so Morgan knew her sister wasn't going to be able to go to school on the first day of school and she wanted her sister to have a special morning too! (See, I told you she was beautiful!)  Well the good news is that Sarah woke up bubbly and with no fever, so hopefully she can have her 'first day' of school tomorrow! :) Crossing my fingers! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Unsettled and The Impact Effect

I'm kinda excited about two new books coming out next month.  First...unsettled: life beyond the yellow ragged couch...
For ten years, we attended this church in Columbia, MO (and then later in Jeff City, MO when they opened a campus there) called Woodcrest. I got to hear Piet Van Warde speak every week, and I never tired of listening to his messages. I appreciated his authenticity, because God often spoke through him to my heart about what I needed to hear. Something tells me that God may just once again speak to me again through Piet's words, in his newest book, unsettled, so I am looking forward to getting a copy of it soon! Here's the facebook page for unsettled.

Next...The Impact Effect: A revolutionary vision for compassion in your community and the world...
I really didn't want to leave 'woodcrest' - it was one of the hardest part of our move. And yet, God led us to another amazing church, led by Tommy Sparger, called North Point Church (NPC).  What I love about NPC is how hands on they are about living out the christian life in the community and around the world.  Their love for others here in our town and across the globe is real and authentic and inspiring. It's not about talking or's about action...and making a difference...and loving others with the love that God has placed in our hearts. He explains it all in this book.  Here's more info on Tommy's blog about The Impact Effect.