All Aboard!!!

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My mother in law Barb, hosts Second Sunday at her house every month.  It is a time to spend with family sitting around the table.  Lately it resembles a circus, but we love our monkeys.    I love it because growing up I did not live by family and I love that my children get the opportunity to grow up with two of their cousins.  Every Second Sunday has been amazing.  My mother and father in law just get it when it comes to hosting.  The second you walk in you feel so welcome and when you leave you feel missed and in the time inbetween you just feel loved.  Hostessing is a gift and we are so thankful for Second Sundays when we get to embrace it.

Second Sunday this month actually took place on the first Sunday. We went to New Hope, PA and went on the Polar Express. I have been waiting to do this!  Most of us wore our Christmas jammies and hopped on board to sing Christmas carols, sip hot coco, and do what we do on Second Sundays…make memories with the people we are blessed to call family.

For those that know me well, you know I LOVE Christmas, and the Polar Express encompasses so much of what makes me love celebrating this holiday every.single.year.

My boys are almost 18 months old.  And although having two babies to care for has me spinning in circles most of the time, my boys have reminded me so much of what really matters in life and the importance of slowing down and being present in the moment.  There is not a moment in the last 18 months I could tell you Doug and I are all caught up with everything that needs to be done. That feeling is STRESSFUL.  I like things crossed off the list.  But there is no way we can be caught up.  It’s just our reality.  So I have had to change gears, and accept it and focus less on the doing and more on the being.  In all honesty, some days I do much better with this than others.  But I have found when I let go of the doing or let’s be honest when I let go of the frustration of the NOT doing, and have a day where I really focus on the being…it is more rewarding than anything I could cross off a to do list.

As the Christmas season approaches, the temptation to do do do comes about.  The hustle and the bustle often wraps itself up in a sparkly, big box with a ribbon perfectly tied around it.  But the reminder to focus on the being more than the doing comes to me as I am holding my sick son on my birthday this year and feel his heartbeat and admire his long eye lashes.  And there it is, that gentle reminder to not think about the overflowing laundry basket or the legos that somehow are procreating all over my house. Just be. Just comfort. Just love.

So as we approach closer to Christmas I think about the story of the Polar Express and how the boy who once celebrated Christmas with complete adoration no longer believed. A bell was ringing but he could no longer hear it.

How many of us aren’t hearing the bell?  Some of us are trying to create the magic ourselves.  We try to ring the bell all day everyday and some of us can for awhile… but eventually our hands get tired.  We think:

How much longer can I ring this bell?

Is anyone even listening to the bell?

Is anyone else going to offer to ring the bell?

Some of us are too busy and fill our lives with so much noise, we can’t possibly hear the bell.

 

Exhaustion, resentment, disappointment, and apathy take over and Christmas becomes something to do and another item to be crossed of the list.

But, it’s not your job to ring the bell.  And it’s not mine.  On Christmas, the day Jesus was born it became our gift to hear the bell.  Immanuel (which means God is with us) was here in the flesh to give us joy, hope and peace and bring us the Good News.

As I sit on the train with my sons and nieces and see the way their eyes light up and their bodies can’t help but dance to the music, I know they are hearing the bell.  And I hold them tight, and pray they never stop hearing the bell. I pray, just as the boys have helped me in the last 18 months, to hear the bell, I can do the same for them through out their life.

Friends, family, anyone reading I hope I can encourage you to be this season.  You read that right, to be, just be. Being must come before believing, so don’t try to take a shortcut. I hope you choose to silence all the noise that is creating the soundtrack of your life for a moment and give yourself a chance to hear the bell. This season and every season. And I would like to thank the friends and family that have encouraged me to do the same, especially my two sweet boys and adorable nieces.

So here is my hand extended out to you to get on the Polar Express with me and remember  “The bell still rings for one, as it does for all who truly believe.”

Thanks to Amy Petrilla for taking pictures so we can make memories.  If you are local to me, hire her!  She got FOUR kids to look AND smile at the camera.  Christmas Miracle!!!  https://amypetrilla.wordpress.com/

1,208,600 seconds…

2 weeks.  14 days. 336 hours.   That’s not too long.

Well did you know 14 days is 20,160 minutes.  Don’t bother grabbing a calculator.  I will just go ahead and tell you.  That means two weeks is made up of 1,209,600 seconds.

So after years of failed fertility treatments I tried invitro.  I have a couple of conditions that makes getting pregnant complicated and one that that can only be confirmed through surgery.  I thought about doing the surgery but my doctor told me Invitro trumps it, so I trusted her. I had given myself the shots daily (well I made Doug), drank some weird stuff to help the quality of my eggs, changed my diet a bit and then I was told to wait.  There was nothing left I could do.  I was either pregnant or I wasn’t.  It was completely out of my control, but completely consuming my thoughts.  1, 209,600 seconds made up those two weeks and I honestly wonder how many of those seconds were spent on thinking about the past and the unfair cards I felt God was dealing Doug and I.  And I wonder how many of those 1,209,600 seconds were spent on freaking out about if I was pregnant or not and how I was going to react to the results.  I spent so much time doing both those things, and none of it changed my past, present or future, nor provided any comfort.

But I do know that NOT all of those seconds were spent worrying and regretting. I would describe my emotional state in those two weeks as equivalent to being on autopilot.   I just was trying to not get emotionally invested in anything because I just didn’t want to feel.   Thanksgiving took place in those two weeks, and I was working at a college teaching students from other countries English.  Most of the students were going to experience their first Thanksgiving in the United States, but for many their first Thanksgiving ever.  There were a handful of students who did not live with host families and lived on campus.  The campus would be closed but they were allowed to stay there and told me they would be microwaving something for dinner as places wouldn’t be open and had they had no form of transportation.  As they were telling me this, my heart whispered (but a loud whisper) cancel your plans and invite them to your home.  I pictured us around my dining room table.  I felt happiness, I felt excitement, I felt emotion.  I felt alive.  I told my students you are not doing that.  You are coming to my house.  And then I was scared that I was going to be fired for inviting students to my house.  So I ran up to tell my boss and clear it with her, and as I entered her office a coworker of mine (Director of Activities) said she was just about to send an email out to me asking if there is any way I would be willing to host one student for Thanksgiving.  And she looked hesitant to say it, like she anticipated I was going to turn her down harshly.   I said yes, I just invited invited them all!  (It was six students).

As most things go, I called and let my husband know…last.  He heard the excitement in my voice and he gave me no hesitation.  We cancelled our plans with his family and prepared a feast for two South Korean girls, one man from China, and one man from Colombia.  The two Saudi Arabian men spent it with their friends.  In the preparation, the prayer before the meal, the meal, and the conversation around the table I felt so much gratitude.  That gratitude left no room for worry or regret, but room for genuine happiness.  I was just so thankful for what I had in that moment.  This man who chose to be my husband, this house we were making our home, this job I loved, these students who were now guests in my home and friends, and this opportunity to share a meal with them.  A feeling of no matter what happens it is going to be alright took over.  A reminder that God is good ALL the time.  Those seconds that were spent on being thankful is what made a difference and provided a comfort I so appreciated at that time.  I must have been on cloud nine because when my student I lovingly referred to as  Gustavo the Grouch asked if we could go to Walmart so he could get a Black Friday deal on a play station game I said yes.  Way out of character for me to partake in Black Friday and I made them all promise they would be super kind to all employees working.  But I digress…

I know I have brought up my infertility a lot, and I am sorry for those who are sick of hearing about it.  I write about it because it was a challenging time for me but also because some of the other struggles I have I don’t feel comfortable sharing in a public forum.  Not because I don’t want to be open, but because when they involve other people then it’s not just my story to tell.  So it gets tricky.

But this isn’t really another post about  infertility.  And it’s not really even about me.

It’s about two weeks.  14 days.  336 hours.  20,160 minutes.  1,209,600 seconds.

I want you to think about your last two weeks.  How much time did you spend worrying, regretting, fearing?  How much time did you spend giving thanks?

“No amount of regret changes the past. No amount of anxiety changes the future. Any amount of gratitude changes the present.”–Ann Voscamp

There is no time travel machine to go back in time and no crystal ball to see the future. But there is always the choice to give thanks no matter your circumstance, and with that choice comes the power of changing the here and the now.

Don’t deprive yourself of that.

Not on Thanksgiving.

Not ever.

Let’s Carry Heavy Things

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It’s Orphan Sunday.
This excerpt from Stacey Jackson Gagnon‘s blog has not left my mind since I read it.
“So many days, I struggle with the knowledge of children that go to live out their days in institutions, babies that go without medical care and infants that learn not to cry, laugh or smile. Kids caged in cribs, banging their heads on the bars to self-soothe, biting fingers until they bleed, rocking endlessly, and fed a convenient, liquid diet. I shoulder this burden of knowledge and when I try to unpack it with friends, family and church, they smile and change the subject to something “not so heavy”.”
What might surprise is you is that it’s not the part about children living their life out in institutions or that babies go without medical care, or even that kids are caged in cribs that hasn’t left my mind.  Well that’s not entirely true.  It hasn’t left my mind (and I don’t believe it ever will) but it’s not what stuck with me the most.
What stuck with me and made my heart literally ache and also feel a twinge of anger was the last line.  “I shoulder this burden of knowledge and when I try to unpack it with friends, family and church, they smile and change the subject to something “not so heavy”.”
Friends, we are meant to carry heavy things.   And we are meant to carry heavy things together.
So maybe when someone brings up the orphan crisis and the harsh reality many are facing we shouldn’t smile.  Maybe we shouldn’t change the subject.  And maybe we shouldn’t turn away from heavy things.  Maybe we should listen, sit in the pain and discomfort some of the statistics/facts will make us feel (but don’t stay there), and then turn and face the heavy things.
It’s orphan Sunday.  And while there are children dying right now due to neglect and a lack of recognized value, there are also families waiting to adopt.  I recognize the first part and it is heavy.  So heavy that if I only thought about the first part, it would weigh me down and paralyze me.  So I choose to also recognize that there are families who want to adopt.  Those families are doing everything they can to prepare a home and a life for a child with special needs.  It’s not a an easy thing and there is nothing light about it.
Let’s stop praying that this load will lighten and instead pray for our arms to strengthen , and then let’s use that strength and carry this together.
Let’s unpack this.  Let’s see these children. Let’s heart these children.  Let’s value these children.  Let’s love these children.  Let’s carry these children together.  Some of you have been doing this for weeks, months and years, and maybe some of you will start today.
Why not?  It’s Orphan Sunday.
  James 1:27
27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
If you would like to help fundraise with me please let me know, or if you would like to shop and have 100 percent of the proceeds go to fundraising families adopting please check out my shop.  https://iamsavannahgrace.wordpress.com/my-shop/

Love over Fear

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PretendI wrote this not so much as just a personal struggle but a struggle I see a lot of people going through.  Lately in so many actions and behavior it is clear at the root of it all is fear.  We don’t like to recognize that or admit to it, and for some of us we have been living this way for so long we are not even away that it is fear that enslaves us.  We don’t realize it is fear that dictates our decisions and our actions.  And so I wrote this as  a plea to change this way of thinking and this way of living.  Because we all have another choice.

I am tired.

Tired of trying.
I am tired of trying to control things,
Avoid things,
Numb things,
Deceive things,
Hate things,
Judge things,
Insult things,
Hide from things,
Pretend things,
And overthink things.
At the heart of the trying  and the heart of the exhaustion is fear.
Fear has cheated me out of too much.
 You and I were not made with fear and we were certainly not made to fear.  And so like the illustration of the devil sitting on my right shoulder and an angel on the left, I find I have two ways I could live.  I could live a life of love or I could live a life of fear.  I cannot live both.
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline.”
This world has tempted, taught, and taunted us to fear.  Some of us find comfort in fear and all of our defense mechanisms and self protection.  When we fear we leave no room for love.   Our hearts were created to be loved and to love.  Our creator’s love is perfect and when we embrace that love we don’t kindly ask fear to go away, we give it no choice.
 
In a world that temps us to operate out of fear, I choose to operate out of  love.  I choose love over fear this minute, this hour, this day.  I choose love over fear in my mind, in my actions, and in my heart.  I choose love and I would love for you to join me.
And can we all agree that nothing says love over fear like gold lettering?
This shirt will be up in the shop soon!
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We all need the friendship of Autumn

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My writing has been slacking.  The fall has been a busy season, but not one without much reflection. I used to be an all about summer person. I wanted to fast forward through all of the seasons (except for a pause on Christmas) to get to summer.  Give me that sunshine, give me that pool time, and give me those barbecues!  I still am in many ways like that, but fall has really grown on me.  It’s almost like summer is that friend you can always count on to have a good time with and fall is that friend that has a way of challenging you and your comfort zone and speaking the truth to you.

As my outside surroundings so obviously change around me, I am just reminded that change is a part of life.

It’s not optional.

It’s not just for some people.

And it’s not always easy.

But it’s a packaged deal with the gift of life.  Fall also incites and strengthens the spirit of gratitude in me. And so in combining the two, I am working on being thankful for change, both the easy and the not so easy.  I am working on looking for God and the good in each change which believe it or not are often found in the same place.  And as my heart begins to resist change a little less, I find myself feeling more comfortable with change and sometimes extending an invitation to it.  It’s an opportunity to learn what you are made of and what you are made for.

I don’t want to fast forward through fall anymore.  I want to press play with an open heart as to what’s to come, and I hope you do too.  Because the world could use more friends like autumn who challenge us and speak truth to us in a beautiful way that nudges us to live a life of love and gratitude instead of fear and resentment.

And on a side note if I fast forwarded fall this year I would have missed Luke being the cutest scarecrow there ever was.  =)fall2016-scarecrow.jpg

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My Heart Will Choose to Say

The past couple of years, I have had some friends go through some really tough things.  In the friendship I have learned how limited I am as a human to help someone. I just read a book where the author said friendship really is just two people recognizing they are both not God and I thought how true, how annoyingly true.  I can’t change a situation, I can’t heal a situation, I can’t take back a situation. And no matter how much I want to, I can’t fix a situation.
To the friends who have invited me into their heartbreak knowing I couldn’t fix it, thank you.  I honestly feel like you have invited me into your home after it was set on fire, but yet you still ask me what I want to drink and serve me.  I was not happy to see your pain but have been inspired by your faith.
There was a song Doug and I chose to sing on our wedding day titled Blessed be Your Name.  Those words illustrate the journey that we call life and I have yet to find a phrase less scary, heartbreaking, and beautiful all at the same time as “My heart will choose to say/ Blessed be your name.”
I was one month into teaching at a new school when I was told a new teacher was starting.  I popped my head in to introduce myself and tell her that if she had any questions to please feel free to ask me.  She later came into my classroom and we talked about the craziness of our jobs and I gave her some tips, cuz you know I had been there for a whole month =). We laughed a little and I felt like there was a potential for friendship.  The next day I came to work and I was excited to check in with her to see how she was doing.  She wasn’t there.  I ran into my boss and she said Kristen’s mom had died and that she would be out for the week.  I couldn’t believe it.  I replayed our last carefree conversation in my head and pictured her smiling face as she said her mom had overcome cancer.  I thought to myself I will never see that girl again.  I wanted to reach out, but didn’t have her email or phone number.
A week later Kristen was to return but I didn’t believe she would come back.  I had a pit in my stomach just thinking about it.  I remember taking a deep breath and opening her door to her classroom when we had the same fifteen minute break.  I opened the door and she was there…Sitting behind a computer.  The second our eyes met, we started crying. I just remember repeating I am so sorry, and Kristen saying she didn’t know what to do.  Kristen was shaking and I remember hugging her and feeling her incredible sadness but also her incredible strength.
I don’t remember the exact words of that conversation and even though I am a huge word person, that moment wasn’t about words.  Later I would find out the details of her mom’s passing and the bond that Kristen shared with her mom.  It was heartbreaking.  On a foundation of tears and raw emotion, together we started a friendship.
In the next two years that friendship turned into a sisterhood and I got a front row seat in watching Kristen live out the words from the song we sang at our wedding.
Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name
God you give and take away
Oh you give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name
Through deep sadness, anger, confusion Kristen worked through it with her heavenly father and CHOSE to believe His plan.  CHOSE to trust Him.  CHOSE to praise Him.
And I believe although those choices didn’t make things easier, they made her stronger.  Her mom is still gone, and that absence still causes Kristen great amount of pain. The situation hasn’t changed, but her heart has.
Kristen’s strength reminded me of Jesus walking with his cross on his back after being beaten so badly you could hardly recognize him.  Walking towards his death with the cross that he would be crucified on.  I get choked up every time with that picture in my head. Jesus, a man of love, walking towards the pain.  Not ignoring, avoiding or self medicating, but walking towards the pain, and ultimately walking towards his public and horrific death.
But Jesus chose to say Blessed be your name.
Jesus knew.
Kristen knew.
And I know, but find myself needing to be reminded.
“The pain that you are feeling now  can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.” Romans 8:18
So maybe we can’t change, take back, heal, or fix someone’s problems or heartbreak.
 Maybe friendship is just two people recognizing they are not God.  But maybe we can remind each other what God has done.  What God has said.  And what God has promised.  Maybe that’s all we can do.  And just maybe that’s enough.
Today I am thankful for the gift of friendship and for Kristen.
Because of these things, today I can say with a little more ease
“My heart will choose to say blessed be your name.”

Just breathe

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As some of you know when Doug and I went in for our ultrasound to find out the genders of our fraternal twins we were told Baby A was a girl and Baby B was a boy.  In fact when the ultrasound tech zoomed in on Baby A her words were, “Yep, that is 100 percent a girl.  Well long story short, we have two boys which we did find out before their birth day (fortunately.)

For about five weeks I thought I was carrying a girl and boy.  In all honesty I thought a lot more about my girl in those weeks.  Partly because I really thought I was carrying two boys so it was a surprise, and partly because I really liked imagining what a wonderful girl/woman I could be a part of raising.  I thought about my flaws and mistakes and how I could help steer her away from those so she could be a better person than me.  Her name was going to be Savannah Grace and in my hopes and prayers she was going to be a sassy Proverbs woman.  And I couldn’t wait to meet her and introduce her to the world she would change.

When it was confirmed that I was not having a girl but in fact having two boys, it was a weird feeling.  I don’t feel right about saying the word disappointed because I wanted healthy babies, and especially all that we had gone through to get pregnant I was hitting the jackpot with twins.  But it was weird to all the sudden accept there was no girl, no Savannah Grace, no sassy Proverbs woman I would be giving birth to.  Although the ultrasound tech was 100 percent wrong, I believe there was a 100 percent reason why she said that to me.

The more I thought about the hopes and dreams I had for my daughter Savannah Grace the more I realized those hopes and dreams were still there for a woman and that woman was me.  My heart is beating, my lungs are breathing, and God is still actively working in me. This blog has been one way I have given this woman God created me to be life.  I don’t believe I am becoming but uncovering the sassy Proverbs I am.  What do I mean by a sassy Proverbs woman?

I mean a woman who is described in Proverbs so I will share what I believe is the pulse of that chapter.  Proverbs 31:25  “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” She is confident in the present and for the future not because of what she has done or can do, but because of what her Creator has done and will do.  Where does the sassy part come in?  Many believe a Proverbs woman to be submissive, timid, and weak.  I believe all Proverbs woman to be sassy meaning they sometimes do what is countercultural and rebellious to this world.  Woman who live out God’s word when life is good, bad, and messy.  That is what I wanted more than anything for my daughter, and that is what I want for myself and for every woman.

God’s words were not just life giving and true for my “daughter”, and they are not just life giving and true for me.  They are for you too.  Could it be that I have some sassy Proverbs women reading this post right now?  I hope so.  I hung out with a few this week and it was amazing.

This weekend I hosted a happy hour yoga party in my backyard.  A friend wanted to support the Savannah Grace Shop cause to help support adoptions of orphans with special needs.  I never gave yoga much of a chance, but I thought I would give it another one since I was touched that my friend would offer her time and talent for a cause I am passionate about.  Yoga was never my thing before because  I could not quite settle my mind to relax (should have been a sign that Yoga could benefit me).  Yesterday my friend and yoga instructor kept reminding us to breathe.  It may seem silly at first of why someone would have to remind someone to breathe since it is something we have to do to live.  But I noticed that almost every time Stacey reminded us to breathe I wasn’t breathing.  I was holding my breath while holding a pose.  Stacey also at one point encouraged us to let go of any negative thoughts.

Now I had a pretty frustrating situation the day before which left me feeling disrespected and taken advantage of.  As Stacey for about the fourth time reminded us to breathe and I am hearing and seeing God’s creation all around me, my inner voice almost cut her off and said “Be still and know that I am God.”  I was hearing that over and over.  The situation that happened was not in my control and the more I tried to take control the more frustrating it became.  I realized I had never taken the time to just breathe yesterday and be still and know that He is God.  I do have choices and abilities, but I will never be able to control others.

If the ultrasound tech had been right and I had a daughter who was all worked up from a situation that left her feeling disrespected, lied to or lied about, taken advantage of, or heartbroken I would have wanted to tell her what Stacey reminded me of yesterday.

Just breathe.

Let go of negative thoughts.

I would want to tell her “Babygirl breathe, inhale the love and grace of your Heavenly Father and exhale with the power of His words and promises.  Let go of all that negativity.  Do what is in your control and give the rest to God.  And then breathe again.”  It is what I did yesterday, and it was a game changer.  Maybe if I explained the situation people would think I should rant about the situation or tell this person off otherwise I am being weak and letting them look like they are right.  Well this is where that sass comes from.=)   People can think what they want.  I am good.  More than good actually.  I am at peace.

Today as I reflect on yesterday I am so thankful for the reminders to:

Just Breathe

Be still and know that He is God

And to never underestimate a Proverbs Woman, especially a sassy one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s do dinner

In the last 7 days, I have shared five dinners with many people I love in addition to my usual three dinner dates!  The people I love include family, new friends,  long time friends from college and a former co worker and boss who have become like family.  Since being home with my almost 14 month old twins on these very hot days, I feel like I have really made an effort to make dinner plans so I can feel connected to the outside world and people who can say words and go to the bathroom in the toilet =).   I don’t want friends to become strangers or face book friends that I just talk about getting together with just because this season of life often resembles a circus…A circus in which I am trying to find out if I am the ringmaster or the clown.    Many times this week and in life it’s not even that I have to make the effort so much as I just need to accept or extend the invitation.  I am beyond thankful for the friendships and families that have accepted me and my family in the way that they have and one way I have really felt that love this week is around the table.  No expectations, no agenda, no need to be anybody but ourselves.  Phones are put away and we are looking into each other’s eyes, hearing each other’s voices and genuine tones through out good conversation, feeling physical touch as we hug or pat each other’s legs as we laugh together (often at Doug’s expense =).

Instead of being fast and efficicient like many of us have been programmed to be all day, we change the pace.
We sit.
And we slow down.
We don’t reach over people for food.  We ask people to pass things and then we wait.  We come together at the table with different experiences, opinions, and perspectives, but with the same physical need to be to be fed and nourished.  And every meal I shared with my friends this week did just that and so much more.  It fed and nourished my soul.  The needs of our soul is often neglected in today’s society.  How many of us often go a day without eating?  I never do.  But there are days I live that I do not feed and nourish my soul.  I am working on it.
I think back on a time in my life when my days were filled with commuting, working, coming home throwing something quick for dinner, snarfing it down and working on lesson plans from home or vegging out in front of the tv until bedtime.  Dinner plans seemed too stressful because I was tired, didn’t feel like being in transit any longer than I had to, and just didn’t want to have to impress anybody by wearing anything other than my sweats.  I was fed.  I was nourished.  But my soul was rumbling from hunger and I often ignored it or drowned it out with work or television.  It was just easier to turn invites down and not extend them myself.  It’s not like I was doing bad things, but I wasn’t living life to it’s potential.    Every now and then I did have dinner with family and friends and I would think how amazing it was.  It was like having a bowl of perfectly warm chicken noodle soup when you are sick, but you didn’t realize you were under the weather until you ate it.  How many of us ignore the rumbling of our souls telling us it is hungry for more?
But my life has and is changing and so is the lense in which I see it.  I have two little boys and with that is a family, a home, a neighborhood, a community I want to be a part of so that my boys grow up feeling invested in the world and most importantly the people around them.
 
Luke 10:25 tells about a time when a man asks Jesus how to inherit eternal life.
 ” And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Matthew 22:36 says

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.39 And the second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Love God with everything you have and your neighbor as yourself.  It’s as simple and as complicated as that.  The simple part is understanding I can’t love God with all my heart or love others as myself if my body and soul are not fed.  The complicated part is doing that everyday, but I am finding a great start is to share life around the table at meals.  It is an opportunity to say grace, show grace, and taste grace and grace is a powerful thing.  A game changer in the best way possible.
My dinners this week included take out, meals I prepared, homemade meals my friends cooked, and a catered meal cooked by a family’s private chef.  Last night’s meal I can’t say we ate together but we drank together.  My friend had surgery on her mouth and is on a liquid diet only so I made a pureed black bean soup for dinner which I highly recommend!  Although the food is at the center of the table, it was the people around it that filled me up this week.
I feel well fed this week in more ways than one.  So I encourage anyone who is reading to either accept or extend an invitation to dinner this week with friends and or family and I am willing to bet a homemade meal at my house that you will feed fed in more ways than one!
Let’s do dinner.

Cheers to six years, Cheers to Both the Happiness and the Tears

I wasn’t going to post this because I never want to seem braggy or assume people care to hear about Doug and my marriage.  I started this blog to be real about life and reflect, and well sometimes life happens to be about happy things.  And with all the yucky stuff in this world, happy things are worth being talked about and celebrated!  So grab your barf bag and enjoy the post!

Doug and I have never been the romantic type, romantic in the Hollywood sense that is.  I mean do you all remember how the proposal went?  I was looking for change to throw in a water fountain and Doug handed me the ring and said why don’t you throw this in there.   Hey now, give him a pass.  This was before Doug  had the privilege of being introduced to the Bachelor where a proposal is not a proposal without helicopters, clothes suited for royalty, and a diamond ring that I believe can and will blind someone someday.

I remember one of our first dates we went and got Frostys from Wendy’s on a summer night and he opened the hatch of the car for us to sit in and talk and turned on sports radio pretty loudly so that we could hear the Phillies game.  I remember laughing so hard that this was his vision of an awesome date.  Although I don’t remember one play from that game, I remember the conversation and the feeling of falling for him as we made fun of each other.  It was in fact an awesome date, but don’t tell Doug that…

August 8th of this year will be our sixth year of marriage.  I don’t really know how that is possible considering I am turning 21 on my next birthday =).  Although I haven’t put much thought into how we will celebrate, I have put much thought into what we are celebrating because isn’t that what it is all about.
Since it is our sixth year of marriage, I wanted to recognize six things I love about Doug and if you know me the best way I express this is by poking a little fun at him!  I decided to share three on the blog.
1.  I love how when I was pregnant Doug was so excited to wish me my first Happy Mother’s Day that as soon as I walked down the stairs he hugged me and said “Happy Birthday!” (It is the thought that counts, and he knew special that day was)
2.  I love that when I didn’t get a job I really wanted and was fighting back tears, he got more upset than me and his rant about it made me laugh. (Doug doesn’t swear, so his alternative words are quite entertaining.  I love that he believes in me)  So sir who didn’t hire me, please know my husband thinks you are a big stinkbomb!
3.  I love how when I say sorry, he forgives instantly and it’s truly like it never happened.  (Must have learned that from me, nottttttt)
As we celebrate this year, our struggle to stay awake past nine and to not look at our phones to scroll through pics of the boys when we are not with them will remind us of how life six years later is very different. But we will also be reminded of how it all began and how the things that drew us to each other are still there through the happiness,the tears, and this year the exhaustion!
So while we may not celebrate like many couples do on their anniversaries, WE WILL celebrate us.  And I am more than OK with that.
marriage

The Big is Found in the Little

I am an ideas person.  In my head ideas are almost always going on and I often play them out in my head.  Sometimes my husband, my bank account or my fear tells  my ideas to get out of town.  Sometimes it’s for the best, I have had some crazy ideas =).  But what I am learning is sometimes it’s not the idea that needs to change it’s the lense in which I look through.

As a teacher, I have an idea for an interactive lesson for my classroom and I get discouraged because not every student is super excited and I see one student anxiously looking at the clock.

I get discouraged because I think of an idea for a fundraiser to help support a great cause and not a lot of people participate or at least not the thousands I was envisioning.

Or if I am being really honest (and vulnerable), I start a blog and have this idea that I am going to hit post on my first ever blog post and it will go viral and many women all over the world would read and contribute their stories to the blog.  A hashtag #IamSavannahGrace will be trending within 24 hours and it will be a place where women will encourage either other through their stories. Well if you are reading, first of all I love you, thanks for reading, but we all know this blog didn’t go viral.  And I have yet to see that hashtag once!

So would I take back these ideas that I brought to life even though they didn’t play out exactly as they did in my head?

 

Well…

 

Ummm.

 

You see….

 

Absolutely not!

At first I told myself “Molly, you need to stop with your BIG ideas and your  BIG expectations to avoid the BIG disappointments.”  But the more I reflected the more I realized I just needed to look for the BIG in the little.  And isn’t that often how life works?  Isn’t that how God designed this thing called life?

Look at our days. They are not filled with one major event. Days are made up of

seconds,

minutes

hours

and those segments of time are made of moments, and lots of them.

And I am learning life is often BIG in the little and you can find the BIG, if you just open your heart.

     While a change in action has the ability to change the outcome, a change in perspective has the ability to change your outlook.  The lense in which we look through and the way we see this one life we have been given by our Creator is everything.  So today if you are feeling discouraged or disappointed maybe you need to make some changes, but maybe those changes are not needed in how you do things but how you look at things.

Have you looked for the big in the little?

Think about that one smile you gave to a person, that one conversation you had with a coworker, that one prayer you prayed, that one favor you did for a stranger, that one meal you made for a neighbor, that one apology you gave to your friend, that one sacrifice you made for your family,that one invite you extended, that one donation you made, that one time you chose to forgive someone, I believe these are the little things that fill our hours, days, weeks, months, and years…That one thing here and that one thing there make this ONE life.

 

     Maybe it doesn’t change life on the scale that you had hoped for or anticipated, but what you do makes a difference.  I needed that reminder.   As I walk in this truth and look for the big in the little it not only changes how I look at my past ideas and expectations, but it changes how I look at the future. It  encourages me to be more open and present right here and right now.  It challenges me to be intentional in all that I do.

 

What you do matters, even in the little things…In fact I am willing to bet that is often where the big stuff happens.

 

“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5).

“He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace” (2 Timothy 1:9).