Saturday, December 7, 2013

Keep the Journey Going

I went in, took off my coat and sat down. She asked, "How are you doing?" And so began the three hour appointment with a highly trained professional with whom I shared  my fears, hopes and dreams. It had been almost five months since I had been in and much had changed. I kept putting it off but it was pressing on me almost daily how badly I needed to get in to see her. I am so thankful for my hairdresser.

And my neighbor who has two young children.
And the young cashier at my local grocer who tells me of his plans for college.
And the mom at church who is struggling with her newest addition.
And the librarian who checks on us every visit.
And the countless faces and names I cannot even begin to list who cross my path and share a piece of themselves with me.

I am full. I have a bursting, bleeding heart if you will. I cannot pass a person and hear their story without a tear or two falling. Because yes, the stories are usually of hardship, difficulty, pain. Why? Because we ALL have a painful story of our own.


I am not one to want to sound heavy. I always try to see the good in people or situations. However, the honest truth cannot be ignored. We are a broken bunch. Not a one can deny the fact that life has hardships. Regardless your position in life, if you have lived at all, you have been broken. And if you are able to read this and say you haven't been, then you know someone who has. 

All it takes is walking through your daily life and having an ear open and heart available to see that precious people struggle.

I have been involved in ministry for many years. I got a degree in social work. I have always been a people person and for those reasons have possibly heard more than my share of heartache. But the fact is, if we have eyes and ears, we see the black sludge dripping off people's feet from the dark paths they have walked through. 

We are currently selling, building and buying a home. It's a process that has once again opened my eyes to the fallen nature of man. People do not naturally have integrity in the dark places that no one sees. If someone can get away with a job half way done, they typically will. An easy dollar seems to be a common thread. 

Thinking of a an entire nation and even world that has been bruised and battered and even has done the battering themselves causes strong emotions to rise. I am once again left with the realization that the sickness in our hearts is incurable. When we realize how blackened our own hearts are, we can call on the great Physician to come and heal us. Each healed heart can be a conduit for other hearts to call out to the only real Healer. ThisSavior created us to know Him and love Him but also to love others. When our hearts are healed we are able to do just that.

Oh God, help me know you more. Use me to change the world. I would rather be naive and full of hope than jaded and unwilling to make a difference. Let's all go forward with a hope that transcends difficulty and sees beyond what is in front of us to what can be. Let us explore the great love of Christ and become so full of Him that we are bumping, pouring and spilling out everywhere we go. Hand in hand with Him, we will see great things ahead.

Keep the Spirit of Christmas alive! What a perfect season to dwell on the truth that none of us are good~ but there is One who is! And He loves us!! Oh how He loves us!

God bless!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Timely Matter

There comes a time when you realize time itself is flying by. It is just out of your grasp and as soon as you have it within reach, it runs through your grip like a fist full of water. I don't know if it is because much has changed in our lives in the past six months or if that still small voice is just whispering those words in my heart lately, but I continue to hear, "It is fleeting." It is not a heavy ache or disappointing news. It just is. And it causes me to stop in the moment and realize the gift that is right in front of me. It helps me to see what is important and what is not.

I can more clearly see who I am in that moment.

And who I wish to be.

A perfect example was just this week. It was my husband and I's 7th anniversary. Unbeknownst to me, that is quite a feat. The young man at The Buckle all but sang and danced when I told him how long we had been married. It seemed like he had heard me wrong and thought I answered 60 years. The other sales associates were in equal awe at the length of time and joined in with amazement. 

We do not get out much for dates and such. Maybe once or twice a year? I do not believe I am exaggerating. But this year, I decided I was going to make it special even with the kiddos. It would be a night in. 

I made his favorite meal and the girls and I decorated the home with homemade drawings and paintings of our family. We made a scavenger hunt for Josh to begin the evening when he got home from work. The girls could not resist leading him to each post. 

After a candlelit dinner with the five of us, I turned on a piano CD we purchased on our honeymoon and we took turns slow dancing with one another. In the candlelight, my middle child told us to all hold hands and that we could dance as a family. She instructed us in our circle to move in and out, "everyone come together and love each back out..." This continued for quite some time. 

I was present in the dance moves and the nostalgic melodies that were playing, but in my mind I stepped back. I drank it all in. 

Looked at my children's faces.
Saw my husband's embraces.
Smelled the scents of the burning candles.

I believe the best moments can slip us by and before we know, time has past and much has changed. There is so much to be said of enjoying the here and now. The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence. The greatest and most beautiful moments are right in our living room.
Underneath our very noses. 

There is magic and beauty beyond comparison in the here and now and we can drink freely of it if we will see with our hearts and go beyond what is just in front of our eyes.

Love your life. Whatever is in your reach right now, take hold of it, for it will be gone in a passing moment. You have a beauty all your own~ enjoy the blessing that it is.

Here are just a few of our recent beautiful moments.

Until next time!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Livin' on a Prayer... and coffee... lots of coffee

It started out like any old normal day.

The batteries on the smoke detector near our room were going out. At 5 a.m. 
The baby woke needing to eat.
One child peed the bed.
The other woke crying because she needed medicine. Sore throat. Stuffy nose. 
Then the other woke because she also wanted medicine. Sympathy symptoms?
I wanted to do the night over. But before daylight even began to peek into our windows, we were rolling.

It continued like any old other day.

We recently got our home on the market and a realtor called to say they had scheduled a showing in one hour. 
One child was in the bath. 
The baby was needing to eat.
I needed to straighten things up. Pack bags. Make beds. You know, make it look as little as lived in as possible with three young children. 

We got everything done in a hurry and ran to the fast food joint.
The baby threw up on me.
One child dropped her burger on the nasty ground.
The other peed in the play place.
The baby needed to eat.

Well, in a nutshell, that has been a large portion of our day. Hopefully the people like the home. Hopefully they want to buy it. Hopefully we will be moving into our bigger home soon. Hopefully. 

It is so funny how I thought my life was so full before a husband and kids. I would go all day and all night and come home and crash, thinking I did not have a moment to spare. What was I thinking? All my moments were mine! My moments are no longer mine. They mostly belong to the awesome man I married and three youngins I'm rearing. Every now and then they all nap at once and I get to sip some coffee and reflect. I would not change any of it for the world. All the bumps, dips, spins and crashes- without downs there would be no ups. Life is funny that way. I am taking it in stride. Hopefully you are too! Enjoy the messes~ they change as the seasons in life do. I won't always have spit up and pee stains to clean up. Someday it will be relational challenges and more heart issues. Someday it will be children moving away and empty rooms. There will always be messes. Today, mine are all over the place. Literally. On my shirt. I better go change. 

Loving my mess!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What to DO?

These past few weeks have been busy. Fun. But busy. We are in the clear as far as sickness goes...or we were until Josh started to get a tickle in his throat on Monday. We have all been downing EmergenC and eating loads of fruits. I do not recommend one child eating almost an entire pineapple...regardless of how much they insist they love it. The after effects are not pleasant.

So, over my almost five years of being a stay-at-home-mom, I have received countless variations to the infamous question, "What do you DO all day?" I even recently read a rather enjoyable blog post by Matt Walsh about stay-at-home mommas.  My responses over the years have changed (as have my responsibilities) and they have ranged from highly annoyed to actually trying to justify myself and listing out details of cleaning up diaper explosions and handling emotional meltdowns all while trying to maintain some sense of overall peace and joy in the home. However, I have found that if you are a stay-at-home mom you KNOW how hard you work and how exhausting but rewarding it is. And if you are not a stay-at-home mom, you could not possibly understand even if I listed out my schedule from wake to sleep (well, I guess it is called sleep- whenever all the lights go out). So, instead of attempting to justify a life-style choice or trying to convince someone of my value to society, I thought I would share some of our activities we have enjoyed in the last week or so. Whether you're a mom who stays home or goes to a job at some point during the day, an aunt, a dad, a family friend, anyone really who likes to hang out with kids, this list may jump start your creativity of what to DO with them ;) 

  •  animal charades
  • making jello together and then playing with it when it's ready
  • nature walks and each time a different theme (ie~ find as many colors as possible, take a baggie and collect "treasures", how many living things do you see, etc)
  • Using our "roller dice" to help us when we are hard pressed to come up with something (I let the girls come up with their own ideas and I wrote them down)

  • Dress-up (I have one little one who lives in princess clothes and another who hates bows and makeup so we have a variety of "dress up" choices)
  • Craft time (we have an entire pantry I cleared out and filled with "goodies"- markers, every color and kind of paper you can imagine, modge podge, glue, paint, pom-poms, etc) Sometimes I have a specific craft in mind, other times I fill the table with supplies and let them loose!

  • Running around the outside of the house to get their "injury" out (that is what my oldest has called energy since she could speak) when we can't all get out for a walk.
  • Sidewalk chalk masterpieces
  • Giving them Windex and paper towels to "clean" my windows- a surprising favorite of theirs
  • Scrubbing coins with soapy water and a toothbrush
  • Looking through our online photo albums of all our adventures while I tell them memories and they tell me theirs
  • Building forts and hideouts with blankets and living room furniture
  • Obstacle courses (if they fall off and touch the ground alligators eat them)
  • Sorting coins (I have a set of plastic ones that look just like real ones only not as 'dirty' but you can use the real ones too!)

  • Using different hands-on activities we call "school" from My Father's World. This week we worked on patterns.

  • Listening to music and having a dance party. One of our favorite cd's is Hide 'Em in Your Heart because we get to dance plus we have memorized a ton of Scripture from it
  • Sorting socks by color
  • Write a letter to a family or friend who has done something nice for you or just to say hi
  • Come up with a topic and make up a song about it

Hopefully some of our week's activity will help you with an idea or two! Everyday can be an adventure when you have young children with you. Enjoy!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Life Overflowing

I consider myself blessed. Privileged even in many ways. I never question where my next meal will come from or if I will go home to sleep in a warm, cozy bed. This blessing extends to my children. While they might not have all the latest and greatest of technology or toys, they do not lack. They are loved and cared for in the deepest ways we, as their parents, know how. They wake every morning and know that it's going to be a good day, not worrying about much, except for the occasional lost toy. I ask them each morning what they dreamed and it is always about princesses, adventures, family and fluffy animals. Throughout the day they get lost in play and learning. Carefree. Able to fully enjoy the moment they are in because they know every moment after will be enjoyable as well. Their future is as secure as their present- carrying very little weight- as I believe it should be for children.

Reality hits me how uncommon this is for so many young children. We're not talking Africa, here.
America the Beautiful.

God shed His grace on me. 

The privileged country. 

How blind I can be to the need all around me. 

I am reminded of this when my sister comes to visit. She has taken on the intense responsibility and difficulty of foster care. The kids she has taken in have seen and experienced pain and suffering unimaginable and at such young ages. Over the years she has watched children come and go, each with their own stories of hurts and neglect.

This past weekend they came to visit. They burst through my door, like two tiny tornadoes. They shout about what they have seen and done, barely pausing enough to take a breath, much less receive a response. One of the children has a pint-sized stuffed puppy named Tuffy and I got to hear all about Tuffy's news while fixing BLT's for a late dinner. They have been with my sister almost three years now.


They were four and a half when they came to her and they acted a bit like wild animals. I've watched them transform after getting to taste of that blessing I spoke of my own children having~ being able to enjoy today because their tomorrow was certain. But not anymore. The state is working to reunite them with their mother and they do not want to go. Do they get a say? No. Voiceless. The older of the twins complains that no one will listen to him. He wants to tell the judge that he never wants to see his mother again and wishes to live with my sister for the rest of his life. 

The boy is seven. He has written letters begging to not have to see her. He will soon be living with her again. 

We went out for pizza. I sat across from the younger twin. Our eyes kept meeting and I would make silly faces, trying to get him to smile. He was in another world. He was distant. Quiet. Not typical at all for him. Eventually he asked my sister, "What are we doing next weekend?" "When are we going home?" These questions seemed so random. Finally he said, "I'm going to ask the judge when I am going back to live with her. I just want to know when." "Do you want to go back?" I asked. "No, I just want to know when", he replied.

OUCH! The weight is too much for me to bare and yet these little seven year olds walk around under it daily. Never knowing when everything they've grown to know and love will be snatched up from underneath them, returning to daily uncertainty. They are little fish being thrown back into the shark tank and they are begging to not have to go. They will soon go.

I do not know what is next for these little guys. I know right now they are struggling to grasp what is happening to them. I know my sister is doing everything she can to give them a voice. I know she is making a difference in their lives and the others she has welcomed in. I know she will continue to do the little things that make a big difference because she knows there is no act of love that is too small. Everything that grows starts out small.

I am on a journey, as we all are. I told the Lord recently, either take away my compassion or show me what you want me to do. I know He will show me. I know my hands will be a little more dirty. My house a little more messy. My time a little less my own. I know there will be many more opportunities to look outside my own certainty and into the very eyes  of those who do not know what tomorrow will bring. I have a great deal of blessing to pour out. Do I have need? Sure. Do I have enough extra to give? Always. And if I dry up, I know Who to ask for more.

I will hug my kids extra tight today. I will pour out more thanks for everything I am blessed with. And I will also keep my eyes opened to others who are questioning their tomorrows. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Voice from the Past

    It laid on top the desk in her kitchen. Around it were empty envelopes, stamps, pens, letters she'd received. It was opened. She had been reading it that very day, possibly that very hour. What words did she see? What truth did she find? 
    I remember getting the call on December 4th that my Nana, 84 years old, had passed away from a massive heart attack. Grandy (who had been married to her for 56 years) tried to bring her back, but it was her time to go. It was weeks before Christmas and this year was going to be different. Difficult. The whole family gathered at her and Grandy's every year to celebrate. It was the one time we all still got together since life had taken us in different directions. Friends and other family were always stopping by, bringing cakes and homemade fudge. It's the south so you don't stop by without food. Festivities lasted an entire week and Nana was the main attraction. I still remember how she lit up when we came through her kitchen door after not seeing her for months. Her high pitched voice sounded out for every visitor and no one ever left having not been a little loved on by her. 
   She loved people. Her heart danced when she saw her family. I don't remember her sitting still for more than a few minutes at a time and if she did, it was to tickle your arm or "milk your mouse" (my little pinkie never lasted long). That woman gave until her fingers ached, her knees were sore and her voice was hoarse. Her eyes were always outward and only looked to herself when she put in her "ear bobs". 

  At her funeral hundreds and hundreds of people came, some we had never met or heard of, and each told a unique story of how she had touched them, impacted them, loved them. The grocery-bagger from the store, the mailman, the new pastor who was challenged by her faith, the missionary society members who felt at a loss without her leading them. For hours at the Wake I saw my Grandy meet and greet a never-ending line of people who wanted to tell their story, some he knew, many he'd never even met himself. But all had felt a love from her they would never forget.
  As I walked into her kitchen, it was quiet.

 No "yoo-hoo" with footsteps coming forward to hug me.

  I stood in her castle, the home-sweet-home that held decades of memories. And there on her kitchen desk, was her Bible. It was opened up to the Psalms that had undoubtedly given her a peace and strength just hours before she breathed her last. 

  Today, I pulled that same Bible that was given to me, off my bookshelf. I thumbed the pages, full of underlined texts, markings and notes. To Nana, it was more than a book. It carried pictures of loved ones and friends, newspaper articles of special events, quotes and sayings she had saved. And in this Bible is where she chose to keep all of that. This book held her life. Thumbing through the pages, I was once again embraced by her and impacted by that same love so many spoke of over a decade ago. It is a love that transcends time, space and even worlds. 

   I recognize this love is not human love that comes and goes. It is still here. Still impacting people.

 Impacting me. 

  It's the Father's love. The love of Jesus that had split open Nana's heart until she was busting at the seems to let it out. She did not have to try to be kind. She did not have to try to give her time and energy. Her love was His love. 

And oh what a love it is! 

  In my own kitchen, 12 years after her passing, I look into the pages that are torn and see something I long to know more and I desire to be full of ~ not full for my own sake, even though it is an amazing, healing touch. Full for the sake of others~ neighbors, friends, family, strangers~ that I can spill out onto them the same Love. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

You're Gonna Miss This

  Today I couldn't help but smile when my real life was almost word for word one of my favorite country songs. We've had two different sicknesses sweep through our house in the last two weeks which prevented me from ringing the plumber to fix our garbage disposal on it's last leg. I got tired of pushing the reset button and *hoping* it would work so I called them out to take a look. Here was the scene:

 As the plumber is pulling up, Alia drops the remote on her big toe, apparently causing 
enough pain to bring on the tears and cries (I'm sure it doesn't help that she is 
currently the one with the fever.) I pick her up to comfort her and go to open the door.
She's on my hip, crying in obvious agony, a tiny drop of blood forming above
the toenail, and I lead the plumber to the problem source. He's inspecting things under the sink and Alia's pain escalates enough to very loud wailing now. 
My phone starts ringing and I see it's Josh so I answer, trying to
hear him over Alia's sobs. I chuckle to myself remembering
 these words...

"Five years later there's a plumber workin' on the water heater
Dog's barkin', phone's ringin'
One kid's cryin', one kid's screamin'
She keeps apologizin'
He says They don't bother me. 
I've got 2 babies of my own. 
One's 36, one's 23.
Huh, it's hard to believe, but ...

You're gonna miss this
You're gonna want this back
You're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast
These Are Some Good Times
So take a good look around 
You may not know it now 
But you're gonna miss this
You're gonna miss this
Yeah, you're gonna miss this"

   Yep, that's right, my own life almost word for word Trace Adkins' "You're gonna miss this". If that doesn't wake you up, I don't know what will. I purposely decided to grin and accept that I am living "that life". You know, the one that's overwhelming. Exhausting. Dirty. The one that keeps me from showering most days. The one who's work day doesn't end at 5pm.  Some may call it mundane. Unfulfilled. I've heard many people tell me, "Oh I could never do that." And maybe they couldn't. There are days I think I can't. And yet...
   I could not imagine my life any other way. I have three beautiful girls who have crazy hair in the mornings and bad breath. They come and cuddle with me at night when they are afraid or sick. They come running to me when they've been hurt (ie-big toe getting smashed by remote) seeking comfort. They laugh when they hear a strange noise. They love taking showers because it makes them feel "big". I have a life I never dreamed of and little miniature people who depend on me each and every day to lead them in more than just games and play, but in learning to make life decisions. I am raising up the next generation. I am a leader. I am a teacher. I have a whole world depending on the decisions I make today. 
   Does that sound a bit grandiose and extreme?  We must realize that the little daily tasks, bandaging the owwies, cutting up the grapes, listening to the stories, wiping the tears, encouraging and loving when we feel we have anything but that left to give, the day-in-day-out repetition that builds our children into who they will be for tomorrow, is an important job. I will even say a great calling. I accept. I willingly and gratefully take on that challenge and realize that it's only for a short season of my life that I get to have such a daily impact on those around me and that some day my decisions of today will not only affect those at my dinner table but those across the globe. And I know I will once again remember those words to my favorite country song and realize it's true.

If you want to hear the song, here it is.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Relishing Today

  We have had a fun day of creativity and exploration. My mom, a teacher for like 4 decades now (yeah, she's kind of an expert), has given me so many ideas for helping young ones use their imaginations while learning. She is an invaluable resource.
  We started with what she calls "stations" and I had five set up today. They ranged from building blocks to hole punching. They get to practice hand-eye coordination while creating a new display for their artwork rope. I sat an hour glass timer in the middle of the table so they could see how much longer they had until it was time to switch stations. (The hour glass was actually a mistake-buy because I thought it would actually be an hour and I could set it in Cailee's room during nap time so she knew when she could get up without setting a beeping timer that would wake her in the rare case she actually fell asleep-however, it only lasts about 10 minutes)

The stations set up...

  I had the stations numbered but Alia had to do the station with princesses first :)

   The hands-on activities are great for days I have a bit more to get done. The girls stay focused and I can get a job or two done. However, some days, like today, I just enjoy the activities with them. Seeing them keep trying until they get it right and then shouting, "MOMMY! LOOK! I did it!!" is pretty cool indeed.

  We are joining in a shoe drive next week. They collect gently used shoes and ship them to places like Kenya, Haiti and South America. They also help communities around the world receive clean water. The girls are excited to go through their old shoes and give them away. Follow the link above if you are interested in joining in.
   I had a conversation with a friend just a couple weeks ago about how to help our children have an "others" mindset from a young age. I thought of volunteering at a soup kitchen with the little ones but she suggested this age is too young to begin something like that and recommended going to visit the elderly at nursing homes. When I was young my Nana used to take all us grandchildren to do just that every time we went to visit her. I think in addition to that we will take our artwork for them to display. Maybe bake some cookies together to take as well?
    What volunteering have you done or ideas do you have to help your children begin thinking of others now? I would love to hear your feedback. Just comment below :)
    I leave you with these words my sister sent to me today and oh how it blessed me. Have a wonderful day with those you love as well!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Hope

    It's a new day! New possibilities. New opportunities. A chance to re-write yesterday's mistakes. Failures. As much as I want to sleep in most mornings, I have to admit, the beauty of the sunrise brings a hope. It's the closest thing to erasing whatever you would rather not remember from yesterday. And there are a few "yesterdays" in my life I have needed that hope.
   This morning, my two older girls have been doing their "make-up" and prancing around like ballerinas...and monsters. They pose for pictures after their masterpieces are completed, their little lips and eyes smeared with blue. They are beautiful. They want to be beautiful. Cailee's first words are, "Let's send the picture to Daddy." Alia chimes right in, "Daddy will think we are sooooooooo (twirling around the table) beautiful." I agree and take more pictures, most blurry from their excited movements not being able to be caught on camera.
  I sit on the floor, an audience of one, as they perform various songs, dances and poses. Their confidence soars as I applaud them and I see little smiles tug at the corner of their mouths. Proud that mommy sees their beauty. Confident that I recognize how wonderful they are. I make a point to tell them that they are beautiful with or without their makeup. They don't know that in fact their makeup makes them look a little silly. Colors where there shouldn't be, globs that didn't get rubbed in. But they tried and to mommy, they couldn't look more beautiful.
   As I watched them move in and out of the room, I began to see myself in their poses and hear myself in their words. "I am soooo beautiful!" How many of us want to see ourselves as beautiful and to know that others appreciate our beauty? How many of us try and yet end up with a mess on our hands?
   I know there are days where I fail. Moments each and every day actually. Like yesterday. My two older girls went to Mamaw's house so I could get some rest (and my hopes were to atleast get the laundry put away) However, the baby had different plans in mind. She let me know those plans all day long and I ended up on the couch just holding her and trying to ignore the growing pile in front of me.

  Often times, we try our hardest to cover all our bases, get everything done, and yet we just can't. The laundry pile grows. There are attitudes in our toddler. The baby isn't sleeping. The dinner isn't ready. Whatever it is you are trying to do just isn't happening. You are keeping a lot of plates spinning but some just can't stay up and even end up breaking on the floor.
  What are we looking for? Approval in spite of our flaws. Someone seeing the beauty in us and what we are doing. Applaud and encouragement that causes us to move forward, even dance, and smile in confidence. We all may have more years in us than my 3 and 4 year old but inside, we want to be seen as beautiful. And there is someone who does.
   Just like my little girls wanted their Daddy to see their made up faces and call them beautiful, we have a Father in Heaven who sees our attempts at whatever it is we are trying to do. Even when we are successful at checking off the "to-do-list", our attempts at beauty probably look something like my daughters' blue smeared makeup. But what is amazing is that even with our smeared eyes and lips, even with our mistakes, failures, He lovingly looks down and says, "You are beautiful." I get a little tug on my lips just knowing that ;)

Monday, September 23, 2013

What's that sound?

   It's happening again...more sickness. Really? Yes, really. This time my 4 year old awoke last night from a bad dream (someone was bouncing balls in her bed) and burning up...temperature almost 104. Her little body was shivering under all the sweat but she let me place a cool damp cloth over her head with little complaining. I think she was too exhausted to protest much. Josh ran out to grab yet another bottle of children's tylenol and the baby woke up screaming to be held. I hadn't slept well the previous night due to my own cold kicking back in full force and all day Sunday consisted of trying to bring some comfort to the sick little ones. Am I complaining? Maybe.
  Today, Micaiah has been restless and in the middle of her fussiness (okay, more like screaming) Alia asked me to read her a book. After a morning of cries and baths and messes and sibling rivalry, I jumped at the opportunity to sit down on the comfy couch and cuddle the girls. After Alia's favorite cat book, Cailee brought one over that we had checked out from the library (and yes, it's long overdue). It was called "Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge"... quite a mouthful.
   The story is of a little boy who lives next to an "old people's home" and he got to know all the people who lived there from visiting them daily. One old lady in particular had lost her memory~ Miss Nancy Alison Delacourt.  The young boy, Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge helps her get her memories back. It is a beautiful story and brought tears to my eyes.

     Slowing down for that little bit to read, I began realizing that at every stage in this life, we are going to have some kind of noise. There's no getting away from it and I don't know that any of us would really want to permanently (although for brief increments, absolutely!) In the story, the nursing home has different characters and each has a unique personality. One man has a voice like a giant. Another lady plays the organ. Each one bringing some sound to the story.
  This weekend, well, actually just Saturday, everyone was healthy for a brief window. We got to get out and enjoy a local festival with all kinds of cool sights and sounds! We hung out with friends and family as the girls made candles.

   And had newspaper hats made for them...

   And even milked some "cows"...
   Luckily, the cows weren't very stinky. And we even found time to paint our nails with some of my new "chalkboard nail polish". Can't say it looked gorgeous but we all match and that's what matters, right?

   It was gorgeous day and everyone had a memorable time. These little nuggets are going in the memory bank and some day I will pull them back out and cherish them all over again, just like Miss Nancy. Right now I have some less melodious sounds and moments happening, like seeing my little girl struggle with fever. I can't pretend I wouldn't like to fast forward these "moments" to the good sounds and memory-making times. However, I can't and neither can you. We have so much in life to be thankful for. The less-than-favorable times may help me recognize that. And if nothing else, I can be thankful that in the darkness of sick days, sleepless nights, laundry piling high, I have these nuggets stashed away...maybe for that very reason.
  Whatever season you're in, cherish the sounds and scenes around you. And if right now is an especially difficult time, pull out the memories of good times and know there are more to come.

Friday, September 20, 2013

What does it really mean anyway?

    Whew! What a whirlwind of a day and it's only mid-afternoon! You know those days that you look down and see dropped lettuce on your shirt from lunch but never bothered to check before you ran into countless people and yet no one said ANYTHING to you about it? The kind of days that you are running in and out at countless stops (with three darling and well-behaved kids in tow...well, in tow at least) and half the time wondering if you're leaving your wallet or possibly a child behind? Well, today has been one of those days. We accomplished a lot and enjoyed getting out after being cooped up for awhile but the moments ran together like a soupy mess. I had one thought that kept entering and leaving my mind while I lugged around the purchases and children... "I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." It was posted on Instagram a few days ago and I have continually been finding myself remembering those simple words (which in and of itself is a feat because I have never been gifted in the memory department). How often do we wonder what someone else is thinking about what we said or what we do? How many of our decisions are based on what other people will think or say?
   We live in a very socially active world...we are plugged into ideas and thoughts from all over~facebook, instagram, twitter (I haven't joined that world yet) and just about anyone with a computer and some typing skills can open their own BLOG (heehee). People are sharing their thoughts and opinions, once again, like a soupy mess. How much do we let what others say affect who we are and what we do. How confident are we to step out and do something we've dreamed of?  I have found that when I base my decisions off of what someone else would want me to do, I end up failing miserably at it or I get genuinely disinterested very quickly. I am actually doing no one any favors by trying to please them when my heart is somewhere else. It typically all comes out in the end that it was bogus on my part and is a bigger let down than if I'd just been honest from the onset.
   I want my girls to grow up with confidence. I want them to know who they are, who loves them and that they are full of their very own gifts and talents, ideas and creativity that should be explored and shared with others. Better to try and fail and get back up to try again than to have never stepped out, right? We know that. We've heard that our whole lives but how completely do we live it? Think of all those big name people we've all learned about~ Babe Ruth, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison ~ that failed miserably but then soared so high we still see them to this day.
   I think we can all soar. Our names don't have to go down in history books or up in big lights to have been successful. Success is the banker being honest with his customer even if it doesn't get him the sale right then and there. It's the student noticing another who is being bullied and hurt and reaching out to them with an open hand and heart. It's the mom listening for hours to the cries of her fussy baby and yet tenderly caressing and caring for him. It's not taking the easy way out or worrying what others will think or say. We can be an absolute astonishing success each and every day in the little and big decisions we make. But we must base them on what's in our heart and what is right rather than what the next guy is advocating.
   I encourage you to search your heart. See what's inside and what really tugs at you. Is it working with kids? Is it being a good friend? Is it writing? Advocating an important cause? Getting involved in your community? Then begin taking steps in that direction! Take a meal to an elderly couple and visit with them for a while to hear their stories. Volunteer at a local charity and meet some of the recipients. Ask your church family if there is a need you can fill. Whatever the direction is, move that way and before you know it, it will be who you are...and that my friends, I call a SUCCESS!
    Enjoy your weekend, my friends!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Feeling better yet???

  I left the nest last night. Stretched my wings and the local beauty store. It may seem small but to walk up and down the isle of any store without interruption of snotty noses or children screaming is my kind of relaxing. And these isles weren't your typical milk and eggs kind of views. These were overflowing with powders, primers, lipsticks, bronzers, and all things lovely really. I get a little (okay, A LOT) excited when talking about makeup and even more so when I'm surrounded by it and get to buy some!
    It was exceptionally special that I got to get out this week considering we've all been passing around some kind of cold and struggling to breathe. My three-year-old actually came crawling into my bed around 3am this morning coughing profusely and innocently whispering, "I think I'm sick, Mommy." So, with medicine flowing and tissues piling we've been home bound this week.
  However, I wanted to share my go-to beauty items. These aren't my I'm-getting-all-dolled-up-to-go-on-a-hot-date-with-my-huzzybug kind of items but they do make me feel bright eyed and bushy tailed before heading out the door. And let's face it, who doesn't like a great concealer?

    I'd love to do a haul of the fun goodies I got last night but two of my three kiddos are feeling better and they are showing me by the music band "parade" that is noisily making it's round through my living room. These drums, violin and a "flute" (aka- recorder) for some reason don't sound quite like I remember the marching bands in the parades I've visited. Thank goodness to Pinterest ideas that have kept them a little quieter on other days. This one was a personal favorite b/c I got to display it and I must admit, it was pretty cool looking. It's just neon food coloring added to bubbles but it kept us all busy for quite a while. My back porch shows some colorful markings of the fun we had. Surely rain water will wash it off?

      A note to self and a reminder to all, get out and enjoy the weather if at all possible. These sunny warm days won't be here for too much longer. I think the pool is calling our names in the very near future :)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dear {insert your name}

I was like, "What?? Why!!" I'd created this blog and was trying to figure out if it was a coffee induced coma or if I was actually looking forward to sharing my days, thoughts and impressions with others... publicly. Sure I've read a few blogs in my day but I am no pro as to the do's and don'ts of blog etiquette or the acceptable parameters of honesty in these entries. I'm an amateur! However, just as quickly as I questioned myself, I had my own encouragement right in hand. There's few things better than a timely word and this was mine: I'm a letter writer. I have been my whole life. Thank my mother who had me writing thank-you notes after Christmas every year from the time I could write my name. Or the fact that I was penpals with my one and only cousin just because I wanted to be able to send a letter of what was going on in my world. To this day, I love sitting down with new stationary and sending out a hello to a family member or friend. I'm one of those old-fashioned weirdos who loves to send snail mail still. But it is this very weirdness that encouraged me...I will write a letter...and you can read it. It's your very own personal letter from me to you. I hope you enjoy them as much as I like writing them. And maybe you will start to look forward to getting my "letter" in the "mail".

My same love of letter writing I'm instilling in my girls. Cailee already draws pictures and then purposely sets it aside noting who it is for. I love this. Thinking of someone else, what they are doing, how you would like to tell them something special about your day. Well, as I sit on my comfy couch (with a pile of laundry adorning the chair in front of least it's clean laundry, right?) and all the household still slumbers (except for Josh who is apparently out on his own adventure at I can only guess biking or the rock quarry) I can't help but hope that it is a letter-writing kind of a day for us. Something we do will be special, beautiful, worthy of sharing with those we love. And I hope the same for you.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Welcome to my mess!

I have a beautiful mess on my hands. It's often more than I (think I) can handle. It's chaotic. Mundane. Lively. Sticky. It's my messy life that I am seeing more and more is absolutely beautiful in every detail. From the food coloring dumped on my three year old's new dress to the scrambling to pull a (somewhat) well-balanced dinner for everyone to sit around and share our days together. All the stuffed up noses, the wet spots on the carpet where we are still working on potty training, the wild dancing parties (that are much different from those I visited when I was younger), the cuddles, the stories, the laughs and cries...I have a mess on my hands. And so do you. Whether you have slowed down enough to know it or not, it's worth noticing. And I invite you to come along with me to share in this messy life that is