Saturday, April 27, 2013

(in)RL Conference

There's this blog I follow called (in)courage.  It's a collection of amazing christian, women who share their hearts and their journey every day.  There is so much good stuff, I never have time to read all of it. But when I do have the time to sit and soak it in, it is so very replenishing! Good, good, stuff!

Well last year they had this conference, where they (in)couraged women around the globe to move from being online, to meeting up in real life (in)RL -- through this conference.  Well last year, no one hosted a meetup in my area, so I didn't attend. This year, I decided I would host a local meetup, if people were interested in meeting up in real life.

So, this morning, three brave women whom I never met, came to my house and we shared conversation  and laughter, and cinnamon rolls!  The online conference wasn't all that we thought it would be...but we were all glad for the opportunity for connection!

Here's a couple of photos....

Oh, and during this time, Mike took the girls out for donuts and some mother's day shopping.  All I can say about this picture is...Oh.My.Word. (Yes, that's a donut!)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tightrope Walking

Well it's Tuesday and I'm linking up with other God-Sized Dreamers over at Holley Gerth's place.  This week's challenge:
Take some time to play. Do something creative. Snap a picture. Build a Pinterest board. Make a craft. Read a book. Bake a treat. Wrestle with your kids. Whatever energizes you. It can be related to your God-sized Dream in some way or totally different. Sometimes along the way to our dreams we just need a little time to play. It helps us keep going and reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously.
Well Friday night, spur of the moment, we went to the Baldknobber's show in Branson with our girls. You can read all about it here, but let me just say, it's been a long time since I laughed that hard, and boy did it do my heart good to spend an evening laughing with Mike & the girls!

Then, we spent hours and hours this weekend playing on our new Gibbon Slackline (click link to read/watch more about it!).  Think tightrope merged with trampoline.  I am in the process of writing an entire article, with lots of pictures, about the fun we had with it, especially our girls and their friends, to be published Thursday @ The Good Stuff Guide. 

But since this post is about me taking time to play, I'm going to include a few of the snapshots Mike took of me on the slackline.  What you can't see in the pictures is me wobbling like a bowling pin that can't decide if it should fall over or not. What I do hope you see is laughter. It was fun to play with our new toy in our backyard this weekend. And let all the work wait.

And here's just one more picture of the girls, because I had a lot of fun just watching them play too! 

Come on over and join other dreamer's at Holley's Place...

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Real Hillbilly

FYI: Maybe you had to be there, but the funny part is below the photos!

Yesterday, we did something spontaneous. We normally aren't like that. But we had money in our 'fun envelope' still, and with tickets being only $5/each this weekend, we bought tickets to the Baldknobber's Show - The first show that started it all in Branson!

And we had a great time. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. And let me tell you, that laughter felt good.   Really good. My heart is still smiling this morning, and I still find a few chuckles slipping out this morning. 

I couldn't get real good pics of the stage with my camera phone, but here's the girls exposure to some culture... hillbilly style. Notice the guy playing the washboard on the end.

Here's my darling daughters hanging out at the Baldknobber's during intermission...

and my absolutely favorite picture....

But despite the great show...full of entertainment and laughter, I have a confession. I missed at least a third of the show. You see, this real hillbilly gal came and sat down in front of me.  Her skin too wrinkly and too dark, from waaay too much tanning, and her hair full of a can of hairspray to support her 80s style curling-iron look.  And let me tell you, she was obnoxious. Completely, totally, obnoxious. 

At her first stand up and whoop, I just looked at Mike and we burst into laughter. And it continued, on and on. I looked at my girls - and they look on their faces (priceless!) -- wide eyes looking at the lady, then looking at me with pure bewilderment, shaking their heads, and Morgan whispering to me "really?!" Yes, really, my daughter. Welcome to another culture. Welcome. Glad I could expose you to others. I told them they could join her (wink), to which they responded with even wider eyes and a firm NO! 

Then the missing-half-his-teeth guy she was sitting next too (it was a large group that came together) kept turning around to convince us that he did not come with her. Several in the group tried to encourage her to settle down, to which she'd respond with more inappropriate hollers.  FINALLY, the staff came and had a little talk with her, so she calmed down slightly. Her behavior was rude and disrespectful to others around her, but some reason, it just gave me the giggles. And I could not stop laughing at her.  

THEN, I was horrified when she jumped up and started whooping again when they asked military to stand up and be honored when they heard their anthem play. So there she was with all these honorable veterans,  whooping!!  I think my eyes were wider than my girls.  THEN, the missing-half-his-teeth guy turns around and says to us "She said she's 'done' a vet, so that's close enough!" Oh good grief, and while completely inappropriate, I totally lost it in a fit of giggles! 

I'm glad we live in such a colorful world, with so many colorful people! It sure keeps life interesting! And I'm sure because of her, my girls will never forget THIS Baldknobber's show! 

Oh, and I have to brag, after the show, when we stood up to leave, a nice lady behind us stopped me and complimented how well mannered our girls were during the show! Awe. Proud momma moment there.  So, when they asked for ice cream at 10:30 at night, and Mike said, no, it's too late.  I responded nonchalantly with, "well the lady did compliment them on being so well mannered tonight." And he said, "What, you think we should reward that kind of behavior?" To which I responded with a 'yup!' as he was turning into McDonalds for a couple of sundaes!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Hug from God

To be honest, I've felt some guilt that I've been M.I.A. from Holley Gerth's Tuesday link-ups about God-Sized Dreams the past several weeks.  I made the commitment to do this, and then I haven't.  But I have to give myself grace. I have been struggling with depression. I have been trying to get to a healthier place. I've tried to sit down and write some Tuesday posts, but I just couldn't make them happen.

Well, I took her challenge this week, The most important part of any God-sized dream is the Giver of it. Set aside a particular time this week to be with Him–to pray, journal, take a walk or simply sit quietly and listen. Write a post sharing what your heart hears or receives.
So last night, I sat among the treetops, quietly on my deck. It was gray and a bit dreary out, but the air felt warm, and the birds were singing.

I read some more of Holley's book first, and had my notebook to jot in. And I read this, "so that His voice is louder than anything else"...and I prayed, "Lord, I want your voice to be louder than anything else right now. Louder than anything."

And then this song came to my mind, Remind Me Who I Am by Jason Gray. And so I prayed the words to the song, "Lord, remind me who I am. Who I am to you. If I'm your beloved, can you help me believe it?"

And my spirit remembered, He loves me. He gave me these dreams. The same power that raised Jesus from the grave is still alive and active in our world. And His Spirit resides inside of me.   I also read these words from Holley's book. "Truth reminds us who we are." Then she writes more (I changed her 'you are' to 'I am')  "I am loved. I have a purpose. I am not alone. I am stronger than I know."

And as I stared up at the Heavens, the sky above me became blue, and I couldn't help but smile. That blueness above me, while all around me was still grey, felt like a hug from God. And I smiled out-loud, while whispering up "thanks."

When Evil Rocks the World

When deep tragedy strikes, when evil rocks the world, when pain exists in the world -- I find that I begin searching for the good. It's my way of coping. Because there is good in the world. Lots of it.  I know this on a personal level and I see it in my community, and watch it unfold nationally and globally. Here's what I found just this morning...
<3 Mr Rogers
  • The news of marathon runners finishing the race, then going to the hospital to donate blood to those injured at the Boston Marathon bombing yesterday. 
  • Seeing a FB post my friend, Teri, posted, that linked to this beautiful story of a Missouri HS Football player who attends prom with a special needs HS girl. 
  • Like reading this blog from my online friend, Lisa, who truly lives out her faith, and in doing so, gave God an opportunity to show up in a big way. 
  • And this inspiration I read this morning from the pastor of our last church, Piet VanWaarde...
"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” ~William James
After the twin towers fell on 9/11, I was horrified (with the rest of the world at what happened). Two days later I got my first tattoo - it was my personal declaration and rededication to the only cause that can change the world: the gospel of Jesus Christ! What happened in Boston yesterday reminds me that our job is far from over... 
With our laments and prayers for those touched by the tragedy might I suggest that every sincere Christ-follower also re-double their efforts at being nothing less than the saltiest salt and the brightest light in their spheres of influence - for THAT alone is our only hope!
  • And listening to Holley Gerth's encouraging segment here. "If you have gone through hurts in this life and have kept your hearts open, then you are a remarkable person. If you are daring to still dream, then that is exactly what you have done." 
  • Of my ever creative, talented, and thoughtful daughter making this for her sister for MAP testing...

Yes, continue to BElieve THEre is GOOD in the World! Never forget there is HOPE.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Weekend Recap

Great friends spent weekend with us (minus being gone all day Saturday). I miss my friend Lori, and although I'm thankful we still talk on the phone most every week, there's nothing like being together in person.  And our four friends for 8 years now...ages 8,10,10,11.  It literally took them 2 minutes to begin giggling together again.  We only live 3 hours away, but when you have every day life, it's hard to connect in person!  We played cards late Friday night and had a campfire late Saturday night and explored Wilson's Creek on Sunday.

The girls also added some springtime color to our yard, while we are waiting for things to bloom. Meanwhile Mike & I spent the day fixing leak in pond (mike), pulling weeds, putting down 15 bags of mulch, and filling sinkholes. What a productive day! 

The girls also had a funeral for their beloved ladybug, Phil.  So many flowers. He was a loved lady-bug. And they decided it was warm enough to soak themselves in water.  And I felt like a hillbilly telling them, "Use walmart bags for water balloons." But really, I'm just resourceful, right?! Recycling. It's a good thing. :) 

Oh I also got in a nap, a few walks, got a few projects finished (like making cards and finally finishing Morgan's Pi border in her room.) She's up to memorizing 50 digits. There are 160 digits on her wall, so we'll see if she makes it to 160! :) 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Rewind: April Fool's Day

Yes, I'm catching up on blogging today. At least a little bit.

Here are the 3 jokes I played on my girls this year for April Fool's Day.

1. They had the day off, so I gave them these lists on top and told them they had to complete these things before they could play today.  Morgan took off to her room to begin cleaning. Sarah looked at me and said, "Really, mom?!" And then I said, wait, Morgan come back, that's only page one, here's page two of your list. They both looked at me a bit crazy at this point.  And then they smiled big when they read, "April Fool's!"

2. I put a raisin in their toothpaste.  And I heard them talking about it some, but they never came to me about it. Until this morning, Sarah says, "Mom, we need new toothpaste." I ask why.  She says, 'because a mouse pooped in our toothpaste!' To which I said, I was waiting for you to tell me about that, April Fools - it was only a raisin.  Sarah replied with, I knew it was a raisin, but Morgan said no, it was mouse poop! Maybe I should have let them think mouse poop to encourage them actually putting the lid back on the toothpaste perhaps. I blew that one! 

So Mike asks, what have they been using to brush their teeth the past 4 days?!

Their travel sized toothpaste. Phew.

3. I made some special brownies for dessert. Get it, Brown-E's.  They didn't get it at first, but after a minute it soaked in and I got a, "ha,ha, mom!" Then they made up a real batch for dessert, since they love baking so much.

Oh, and I love that Morgan got in on it too this year, she put a rubberband on the hose nozzle of the kitchen sink.  I'm so glad I asked Mike to fill up the dog's water, good timing on my part! :) 

Rewind: Easter

I'm a bit behind on getting my Easter Pics up, but I did want to capture a few of the sweet moments of these ever fleeting years.

The girls and I tried a few 'pin'spired ideas from pinterest. I love the age they are at and the fun things we can do together!

1. Ressurrection Rolls.  They kinda worked. They were still yummy, even if they didn't look quite right. :) Whoops - no pics.

2. Egg Decorating.  We used glue dots and glitter to make polka-dot eggs. We used rubber cement to make swirls.  And I found this yellow duck fuzz that I've had in my craft stuff for like 18 years that we used too.

3. We made Rice Krispy Treat Eggs -- with Jelly Beans in the middle.

Tonight's fun in the kitchen with my girls. #instacollage

4. We made Deviled Eggs that looked like Chicks.

To celebrate Easter, we...

1. Saturday night, we had a fun Easter Dinner at Darian and Beau's House. It's been awhile since we shared an Easter Dinner with anyone and it was really nice to share the table with others and enjoy some delicious food, that we didn't have to even prepare! And of course, Henry added lots of smiles to our day. Whoops - forgot to take pictures.

2. We spent the morning at church....3 services, attending and helping. Sarah even got to go on stage and participate in a blindfolded taste test in kidpoint services.

3. And after six hours at church, we decided we deserved to eat Andy's for lunch on Easter.

4. Of course, we had our annual treasure hunt to find anticipated Easter Baskets.  Not sure how this happened, but my girls never did believe in the Easter Bunny.  Santa - yes. Toothfairy - yes. Bunny - no.  We celebrated Jesus, had egg hunts and baskets - and they always thanked us, not the Bunny. It worked.

We hide chocolate eggs in house night before
and they find them when they wake up.
A tradition my own mom started. 

5. We spent the afternoon geocaching (not much luck) and soaking up a bit of Spring Weather at the park. The girls still love playing pooh sticks, which I think is adorable. (It's a game Winnie the Pooh plays, where you put a stick on one side of the bridge and watch it come out the other side.) They also still love the flying on the mushroom. And they even posed for pics for dad and I - I'll let you guess who encouraged posing for which pictures!

6. We also went to our town's egg hunt Friday night. 

And a parting shot...this is what happens when I try and get pretty pictures...

I texted Mike yesterday, 2,871 days til these sweet girls are both adults. This reminds us  to make the most of these years... a collection of moments woven together to make a lifetime.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Parallel Train Tracks

This afternoon I just finished reading Kay Warner's book, Choose Joy.

In the book she says often, "Life is like a set of parallel train tracks, with joy and sorrow running throughout our days."  I love this word picture of what I believe is truth.  Near the end of the book, she says it this way, "it means looking at the messes of our lives, and finding the places where joy is hiding."

Here's the truth. My depression has been overwhelming me lately. These past several months have been some of the hardest in many years.  In fact, I've even been to the doctor several times trying to find the right medicine to help me get through whatever this is. The meds don't even seem to be touching it.  Honestly, I've spent a lot of time just lying on the couch. I haven't felt like reading or writing, or doing much that usually brings me joy.  On days I have to work, I work. I get the girls to school. Mike often helps with dinner. I look at my life, and I think there is no reason I should be feeling this way. I have a beautiful life.  And yet, the mystery of why and the depression remains. I'm not proud of this, but it's just where I am at.

Sometimes I've felt like I'm not being truthful on facebook or my blog, because I usually post a lot of the happier moments.  But after reading this book, I think it's okay.  Yes, I have this 'unknown sorrow' in my life - but despite that, I still choose to look for the places where the joy is hiding -- I still choose to believe in a God who loves me just as I am, in my mess, and who has placed me here on this Earth for a purpose.

And yes, there have been many places where joy has been 'hiding' -- and I have chosen to see it.  In my husband's patience with me through this difficult time, in my daughter's hugs, in my girl's laughter, in the sunshine of warmer days (inbetween the snow days), in the text from a friend, and a card in the mail from another, in my dog's unconditional love and snuggles, the promise of hope.

I still hope to get up some of these 'joy moments' from Easter and April Fool's Day. And maybe now that I finally have my computer back after a month of being gone I will get around to it. Just need to get my icloud set up still, so I can get some pics off my phone to my computer!  (I will spare you the details, but I will say I will never buy Samsung again, terrible customer service! - and yes, I'm still grieving photos and writings I lost!) 

choose joyOn a side note, In her book, she used a lot of Henri Nouwen quotes that really spoke to me. I think I might have to look up some of his work and read some more of ponderings.

She also wrote this, which I liked, because it's kinda the 'heart' behind my blog... and a great reminder for me.

Make the most of this moment. The problem is we're greedy. We don't want just moments. We want weeks and days and months and years. We want a lifetime. And if we can't have huge blocks of time that are wonderful and stress-free, we decide we can't be joyful. 

Yet sometimes moments are all we have. You and I can decide we have this moment, and we will choose to love it. We're not denying we have problems. We're not saying our lives are wrapped perfectly with a bow on top and we have everything figured out. It just means that this moment is a gift from God, and we will cherish it. 

That's why I write Moments on the Journey, because I don't have it all figured out, but I'm choosing to see these moments, these gifts from God. I cherish the joy they bring, side-by-side the sorrow, in the everyday journey of my life.