Birthdays and Boys That Steal My Heart

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I am struggling to put it into words what I felt last night, but that won’t stop me from trying.  When I was in my early 20’s, I quit my first job out of college to go back to school.  I knew I was on the hook for paying for this second degree and I was trying to find a job that would pay enough to support my living and tuition expenses and would work with my student schedule.

I applied to for a nannying position.  I was told many, many people applied for this job. The pay was posted and it was very good.  Fortunately, the mom was reading my email aloud and someone I went to college with was there and he heard her say my name. He recommended me and that got me the interview and the job was mine!  I remember feeling embarrassed that I was going to have to tell people that I was babysitting for a job. My friends were beginning their careers, utilizing their degrees, and getting paid way more than our jobs in college paid us and I was…babysitting.  I was a broke college student. (again)

The the job started.  I was taking care of four boys from after school to bed time.  I made them dinner, ran them around to sports, helped with homework, and read the youngest stories before bed.  The first day I babysat, after I left, the mom asked the boys what they thought of me.  These boys had had a few babysitters before me.  The mom told me the youngest exclaimed, “Finally mom, you got me a babysitter that understands me!”

John and I had a special bond from the first day we met.  This is a kid who has everything.  He goes to a nice school, has a nice house, goes on nice trips.  I was a college student (again) with little money, going to school full time and working full time, and I just did not have that much to give.  But what I had, I gladly gave to him.  That was my attention and love.  John and I could laugh for hours about things.  I find him hilarious and for some reason he finds me pretty funny too.  But beyond our humor, John has this ability to just say the perfect things to me in times that I needed to hear it.  I remember sometimes telling my sister that she wouldn’t believe what he said because it sounded like out of a movie.  He is always defensive of me.  I could tell a million different stories of the things he said or the ways he would defend me, but I will share my most favorite.  His brothers were making fun of my old car and my old flip phone.  I thought it was a good teaching opportunity so I was explaining (trying to at least) that material things were not that important to me.  I told them my phone and car do what I need them to do, and so I am OK with them being old.  I said “I just don’t really care about things like that”  John sensing that I was defending myself a little bit chimes in with a definitive tone and looks his brothers in their faces and says “Yeah, she cares about BEING TAN!!!”  I appreciated the back up, and also the really good laugh!

Bedtime was a special time because with three brothers he didn’t always get one on one time.  So it was a time to spend some quality time, just the two of of us.  He would pick a book or five for us to read together. 🙂  Although we had a special bond, sometimes as most kids would, he would wish it was his mom or dad tucking him in.  I would try to comfort him. I would rub his back and tell him that I loved him.

Yesterday John, the boy I used to refer to as my favorite seven year old, turned 14.  If we have been Facebook friends for awhile, you might remember weekly I would post hilarious quotes from my favorite 7, 8, 9 year old boy.  For his birthday,  he wanted to spend the night with my boys and I.  I never knew what present to get a kid who has everything, so again I gave him what I had, my attention and love.  We picked him up let him pick where we got dinner from and choose the activities of the night.  To no surprise he picked Wii and I gave him a fair warning that just because it was his birthday I wasn’t going to let him win.  I told John I would be back after I went upstairs to put my boys to bed.  He said he wanted to come with. I put each boy in their crib.  I put Luke in his crib first and as I was putting Lincoln in his crib, I see from the corner of my eye John rubbing Luke’s back and tell him that he loves him.  And then he walked over to Lincoln and did the same thing.

I had to fight the tears back hard.  Something about seeing  a boy I once would tuck in and say goodnight and I love you to, doing the same with my boys was almost too much for my heart.  Something about thinking back about taking a job that I was embarrassed about at first, and realizing now it was more than a “job.”  Something about recognizing I didn’t have that much to give, but what I had, I gave, and that was enough.  Something about reflecting reminds me that God knows what He is doing and encourages me to trust Him even in ambiguity.

Happiest of birthdays to my NOW favorite 14 year old boy!

Let’s leave the filter off this time…

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Lately I have felt so thankful for the gift of friendship.  I am a pretty sensitive person, not in the sense that my feelings are often hurt but just that I am constantly feeling.   I like how one of my favorite authors responded when someone asked her why she cries so often.  She said this, “For the same reason I laugh so often.  Because I’m paying attention.” I’m paying attention, sometimes more than other times, but I am tuned in intentionally.  I’m not just paying attention to what’s going on out there in the big, scary world but I am paying attention to what’s going on right in front of me. And sometime’s if I am being honest, paying attention makes me feel a little crazy.

Around me there’s death and there is life.  I know people who are right now losing their battle with cancer, and last night I meet a friend’s newborn, adorable baby.  Around me there is a friend trying to process her last miscarriage and then there is a friend who was surprised to find out she will be welcoming baby 3 and 4 to her family this year.  I could go on and on, but you see where I am getting at right.  In a world where there is such joy but also such pain how does one live when we are paying attention?  Do we live in the joy?  Do we live in the pain?
I believe we live in both even though it can get messy, really messy.  But I truly believe that in the mess is where the good stuff happens.  I believe every season of life has fertile soil.
Every season of life has fertile soil.
Potential for growth,
potential for beauty,
potential for life.  
And so I don’t want to live my life on autopilot and just get through the days.  I want to pay attention in this season.
I was discussing vulnerability with a friend and she told me to blog about it.  I don’t normally take this particular friend’s advice but I thought I would take a walk on the wild side 😉 Love you Amy.
My friend and I were talking about how being completely vulnerable is the only way to truly make changes in your life.  I was explaining that at times I felt like I had some friends who would invite me over and they would clean their house a bit, but when I walk in they would still apologize for their house being a mess.  Almost playing it off and hiding that they did in fact clean.  It was like they were only OK with me seeing some of their mess, or that they wanted me to believe this was the extent of their mess..Now, I wasn’t really talking about physical houses and messes. And I had to wonder how many times I cleaned up my mess before letting friends in.
I am so grateful to have friends that I can open my doors to and not feel like I need to hide my mess or clean up my mess and then present my room with a few things out as my mess.  If we are paying attention, if we are living life operated out of love, if we are living authentically…It is going to get messy at times.  Some might argue that is proof you are really living.
I had a friend talk about how someone at her church offended some of her family during the elections this year and then they later apologized.   Her response was something that I didn’t expect and it was so wise.  She said “I was OK with it.  I would rather talk about these issues and be real and offend each other than to not talk about these things and just think bad thoughts in our heads.”  She preferred things to be real over being mess-free. 
My sister and and I once had dinner knowing we were going to have a tough conversation.  We ordered our food and then held hands and cried almost the whole time and didn’t touch our food once.  Our server was really confused as she would come by to ask us the obligatory question if we were doing alright…The conversation didn’t feel great, but we both felt comfortable to speak our truths.  Just like my friend, we  chose real over mess-free and in this case pain-free.  And we might all think that we all want real no matter the cost, but do we really?  Do I really?
Do I skirt the truth in order to avoid conflict?  Do I tell someone something is OK and then tell my spouse and friends something different?  Do I not say something or do something because I just don’t want to get involved in case it gets messy?  Do I hold things in because I don’t want to confront the truth?  Do I look the other way because I don’t want to feel?  Do I just turn the news off because I don’t want to know anymore? Do I filter my life so that people don’t see my flaws?
I am working on my doors being open and not feeling the need to hide or apologize for my mess.  And I am really hoping you will do the same.  The friendships I have in which we invite each other in, share our mess as is, are the friendships that remind me that every season of my life has fertile soil, a loving, purposeful Creator working behind the scenes, and people to help me carry burdens that I try  too often to carry by myself.  Those are the friendships that have loved me in my mess and those are the ones I am reflecting on and feeling most grateful for today.
This blog is messy.  I write about real feelings.  I write about a real faith.  And I write about my real life.  I’m not perfect, but who could relate to me if I was?  But everytime I hit post, I am beyond nervous…because I have always written but I used to never share in fear of things getting real/messy.  And I get that some people don’t understand the whole blog thing, just like I don’t understand running for enjoyment =)  To each their own.  My friend posted this quote and it really resonated with why I read other people’s words and started to share my own.
“It is not your job to convert people to your way of thinking.  It is your job to speak your truth so that other people may find theirs.”
 So thank you, truth tellers and messy friends for speaking your truth and welcoming mein your mess, and in turn making me comfortable to do the same.  Thank you for not making me feel like I have to be the best, but encouraging me to give my best.  Thank you for making my mess, your mess so that I never feel alone.  And as the saying in Spanish goes, Tu messo es mi messo…or something like that.  😉
What if pain – like love – is just a place brave people visit?”–Glennon Doyle Melton
 
Let’s live bravely friends, mess and all…And let’s leave off a filter this time…(Even though that chrome filter makes you look so much better and you might get more likes)

A craft, for the non-crafters

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Alright soooo I am not crafty.  Let’s just get that out on the table.  It’s not open for discussion.  It’s just the cold hard facts.

I am creative, and I do love to make and cherish memories.  This is why I love Facebook and often why I am guilty of overposting, but I love to look back on pictures and commentary of wonderful moments and relive them over and over again.  And hey all I did was click and tap on the keyboard.  I didn’t have to cut, glue, decorate, and create a whole scrapbook.

If crafts have over five steps, I will surely mess it up, or honestly pin it and then NEVER do it.  So if you want easy crafts that will help you cherish this crazy journey we call life, then maybe, hopefully you will want to craft with me.

Full disclosure I thought I saw this idea on Pinterest once but when I searched for it, nothing came up.  So I’m not sure if I made this up.

So many people buy their kids an ornament each year for Christmas.  The ornament usually represents a milestone or something special about that year.  And when the child grows up (because unfortunately that’s what kids do) you give your kids their ornaments to put on their Christmas tree.

I wanted to take it a step further.  My boys are 18 months and it’s been a whirlwind.  I want to remember moments, cherish moments, and share those moments with my boys and their future families.  So I started Ornament Books for them where I take a picture of the ornament and write a little note to them explaining why that ornament was chosen for them.

So here is what I did.

  1.  Bought scrapbook materials and got the hot glue gun warmed up…KIDDING.  I was just seeing if you were paying attention.  I ordered a personalized notebook for Luke and Lincoln with a couple of clicks and the good ole credit card.
  2. Had my friend take pictures of the ornaments with her fancy camera.  You could easily do this yourself but why not involve your photographer friend
  3. Developed the pictures
  4. Taped pictures and wrote a little note to my boys for each ornament bought each year.

That’s it.  Four whopping steps.  The hardest part of this “craft” was to pick out a picture of the boys that I wanted to put in the front of their Ornament book.  If you’re like me…a completely biased mom that truly believes you have the cutest kids who are are the cutest in every picture, picking a picture can be challenging.  After much deliberation and a realization that I really wanted to eat a snack, I picked a picture for each boy.

I loved writing the notes to my boys and taking the opportunity to tell them things that I may just assume they know.  It warmed my heart imagining them putting these ornaments up on their own trees knowing the memories and love behind each one.  I know my boys are only 18 months and there is some time before they are adults decorating their adult trees, but if the last year is any indication….life flies when you have kids!

Also don’t feel like you have to spend money on ornaments every year.  My non-crafty self made the boys their ornaments this year.  We had such a great time on the Polar Express where Santa gave them bells, so I used those bells and found Polar Express tickets on Pinterest.  Printed, laminated and put some twine on it.  BOOM! Under five steps again so it is Molly-proo I mean fool proof.

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Here are some pics!  I didn’t share all the pages, but just wanted to give you an idea.

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I realize there are no artistic skills here that are going to wow you.  I debated on even sharing this. This isn’t to impress you, but to give you an idea of a way to let moments become memories that will make your Christmas that much more special.

This is for my non-crafters that are intimidated by the world of scrapbooking like me, but jump at the chance to tell their kids how special the moments you have with them.

Let me know if you try this, or if you already do something like this =)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

fall2016pumpkinfamily

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

yoga

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.