Monday, December 23, 2013

No "Grinch-ing" around here!

("Hey, Jack. Ho, ho, ho.")
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so?
It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.
And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore.
 Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
Dr. Seuss
("I like to look out the window...and count the weeds.")
The last month has been a dizzy madhouse of work and family... and work and fun... and work and work. I was preparing myself for this to be a difficult Christmas. With my daughter loving on her own little family, my son working two jobs, college and his beautiful lady...Steve and I were prepared to process this season with new eyes and open...if not lonely...hearts.

(Nothing says "Christmas Decor" like Star Wars.)
Little did I know that as I filled up the schedule with more patients and activities to distract myself, I would only make it worse. The hustle and bustle of trying to NOT do our regular traditions succeeded in simply making me "grinchy". That's the word we use around here for being less than enthusiastic for Christmas time. That's nearly an un-forgiveable sin in our house...and here I was, the "grinchy-est" of them all.
(Love this little family so much.)
The wonderful thing is that as much as I love all there is to love about this holiday season (Shhh! Don't tell my husband I said "HOLIDAY". That will set him off for sure. "It's about Christ, not HOLIDAYS, woman!") with the decorations and the activities, the music and movies that make it the "warmest time of the year", there isn't a thing about this season that doesn't bring me back to the basics.
("Candy, candy canes, candy corn and SYRUP.
Those are my four food groups!")
When I try to be crabby because it's too busy every where I go- God puts an old man with a big beard and a santa hat in my path...wearing the sweetest smile anyone ever had. All people matter.

("I am a future professional photographer.
 I like to help Nay Nay practice shoots by eating her equipment.")
When I feel lonely because I miss my house full of kid laughter- God sets me laughing with someone special. (One of my favorites- my dear 100 year old patient told me the other day, "People always ask me what my secret is...it's simple. I just forgot to die." ) We are never really alone.

(These two never stop giving me reasons to laugh out loud.
Love them so. )
When I am tempted to buy just "one more thing" for that stocking- just to fill the empty spot in my heart- God sends me a Christmas song that puts the bounce back in my step and reminds me his money is best used helping others, rather than pleasing those who already have more than enough. "Stuff" will never truly satisfy.

And when I am being particularly "grinchy" and overwhelmed with all of it- He puts the picture in my mind of God- incarnate in the body of a newborn. Helpless, defenseless...yet full of hope and light and love. Jesus is the Christ, the one who rescues us all.

What a God we have, who gives freely and abundantly, and never forsakes us.
 
 No matter how many times we need the reminder- Jesus came to seek us, to save us, and to love us unconditionally. Oh, Merry merry Christmas, indeed!

So if you are bubbling over with Christmas spirit that would rival Buddy the Elf, or you look a little more like The Grinch tonight...find hope and joy in these words, friend. God be with you, and bless you.

"...the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 

 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger."
(This pic had to be added..just because he's so cute. If his 4 lbs of fluff doesn't make you smile, get help. Teeheehee)

Friday, November 15, 2013

I definitely get Job's wife...

What is it about a good story that causes it to stick with us so well? Or a negative one?
 
I heard from a dear friend recently who told me she was losing her faith. That she had prayed and prayed about a broken marriage and the daily struggles, and God never once gave her what she prayed for. She wanted to quit on God, because He had not helped her...ever.

I tried to encourage her with all that I had seen Him do in her life. But she wouldn't hear it. When I told her I would keep praying for her anyways, she said "Good luck."

I get her.

I held the hand of a sweet little mother who had to say goodbye to a much longed for baby. The joy and excitement that came with being an expectant mother was stripped away by her God, in tears and pain. And as I sat with her and cried...she sighed and said "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be His name." Job 1:20

And I get her too. 

One story breaks my heart in it's despair. It is so sad to see someone quit when you know the finish line is just around the bend.

The other story breaks my heart in it's beauty. In the complete surrender of a faith that can be tested in suffering and come out with gratitude. 

How much I wish I could respond like the second woman all the time, but far too often I am the "doubter".
Most of us have heard of Job's wife- the Queen of Negativity. The ultimate "Debbie Downer", before SNL made THAT name popular. If you need a refresher, you can read about her here. The first couple of chapters are all you need to get the picture. Her husband was a righteous dude, she was rich, beautiful likely, with a gaggle of grown children who were the best.

And then God decides to prove a point, with her husband as the focus.

I remember the first few times reading that story and kind of scoffing at Job's wife. (Poor gal- no one even remembers her real name.)

I remember mocking her, as if she some how had acted unreasonably in the face of tragedy.

A decade or so later, I get her. Well, a decade and raising two teenagers helped me to "get her".

I think of her story...the wealth, the children, the LIFE that was stripped away. I think of her only recorded words, as she saw her husband sitting there- covered in nasty boils, with nothing but ashes on his head:
“Still holding on to your precious integrity, are you? Curse God and be done with it!” Job 2:9

Pretty harsh...but I get her. 

What's pathetic is I have absolutely nothing to truly complain about. My life is awesome. Yet, if I chip a nail AND get stopped at a red light in the same hour- I'm distraught for the rest of the day. 

We all have our "Job's wife" attitude at times. Thank God, that there are times we can have a "Job" attitude too. I just hope that I can respond more often as Job did. As that sweet little mother did.

When I break that darn nail, or when life is irrevocably altered..."Blessed be His name."

Friday, November 8, 2013

Would you know what to do for my grandygirl?



In light of my dear grand baby and the fact that you might be the difference between me seeing her grow up, this is now your daily Public Service Announcement:

I was reminded this week of why we need to stay educated when it comes to basic life support and knowing how to do CPR. Most of us have heard the basics, but it was concerning to me to hear how much the media pushes "Hands Only CPR", and completely failed to mention that DOES NOT apply to children. Not once do the training videos I looked at, the news broadcasts I saw, mention the fact that AHA newer guidelines on chest compressions as priority did they remind the viewer that this is NOT true for infant/child CPR.

It is likely that someday you will encounter a moment where you could make a difference for someone- you could save their life, just by knowing CPR. And especially for children. (American Heart Association defines child as anyone under 8 years old, or is the size of an average 8 year old) If you wait for someone else to show up, the paramedics to arrive, that little person could be lost.

Statistically, CPR is needed on adults because of cardiac arrest. So when their heart starts "misbehaving", they have about 4 minutes of oxygenated blood circulating in their bodies. So compressions alone, effective deep pumps, can make all the difference.

The concern is that for babies and children, over 90% of the time they need CPR because they are in "respiratory arrest". Either choking, allergic reaction, whatever- but it is rarely their young, healthy little heart that stops. So in reality, by the time that child goes down non-responsive- they have already lost 2 minutes of oxygenated blood, and now their heart is going to go into arrrest.

It is IMPERATIVE that the FIRST thing you do for a child is START CPR. Don't wait and run for the phone. Don't leave them to find help. Don't start crying and jump around screaming. (I am not trying to be heartless, I am dead serious.)

The FIRST THING you do for a child who is down and not breathing, is START CPR. Please. Educate yourself in what to do, and make a difference. In cardiac arrest, after CPR there is a long recovery needed at the hospital. People don't bounce back from the heart crumping out. But in respiratory arrest, which is what happens when someone drowns, chokes, etc- they literally get the CPR they need, and they get up and walk away. It really is just like that. And you can do it with a little education. You can save a life.

Here's a link that explains the difference between child and adult CPR.
 Why CPR matters for children
Thanks for listening to my soap box, now go do something about what your heart is saying before something distracts you. Do it.
I am giving the members of my family a CPR class for Christmas (won't they be excited. )

Links for local classes:
http://www.cprlifeline.com/
http://nwrtc.org/
 ( And remember, if you try to dislodge the choking item and it doesn't come out and the child goes unconscious- START CPR.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

"A little bird told me..."

(You turn your back for a minute...and she's off adventuring!)
November has come crashing in and I can't remember where the last two months have gone. With changes at work, new things to learn, family to love and life to live it's a miracle the animals are still alive and the house isn't totally trashed. Each day just keeps reminding me that every minute needs to be cherished. It all changes so fast.

I was at IHOP the other day...by myself... eating pancakes... and bacon. I don't like IHOP. I actually think it's pretty gross. But it's a place my kids really liked, and I was missing them and being sentimental. Having "grown up kids" is kind of lame sometimes. They have things like college and jobs and their own families which makes them less available to me. What's up with that?
(Bumble Bee B-B!)
Anyways...sitting at IHOP, eating my pancakes gave me a great opportunity to be random and let my mind wander. I heard a sermon that prompted to read Ecclesiastes 10. Great text, really cheerful and encouraging. It says things like "As dead flies give perfume a bad smell so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor."
 Or even more fun: "Even as fools walk along the road, they lack sense and show everyone how stupid they are."

Some of my favorite passages are in Ecclesiastes simply because of how sarcastic it can be. Let's really take it out of context for a minute. Look what verse 19 says and run with it:
 "A feast is made for laughter,
    wine makes life merry,
    and money is the answer for everything."

Woohoo! Did the Bible just tell me to eat everything I want, drink like a sailor and all I have to do is have lots of money to be happy? YESSS.(No, it did NOT say that.)

Like I said, great lunchtime reading for you. In reality and read in CONTEXT, those chapters just kept bringing back the fact that- I have been a "fool" more times than I would like to remember. 
We all have I would say. 
I have made unwise choices (verses 2-3), I've said things I wanted to take back because of "foolish lips" (verse 12), and I have hurt people with those fool hardy choices. In verse 13 it says that our foolish words:
"At the beginning (are folly); at the end they are wicked madness..."
(Who knew Willie from Duck Dynasty would come visit Brielle for Halloween? She wasn't a fan of him. ;)
How tragic when I think about what "wicked madness" my foolishness has caused. Steve and I often say we spent the first half of our lives being ridiculous, we wonder what we will do with the second half. Terrifying thought.

The great thing about that lonely lunch date at IHOP was that after I got done laughing and crying over the sarcasm and my guilty conscious...it also reminded me that God never leaves us on the "down note" for long. It put into my day the grace God has for all of us. How good is He that he lets us feel the weight of our foolishness, so that it would move us to make live better. To seek and find wisdom through Him. To make amends and to say "I'm sorry". It challenges us to do something- to try, to learn, to grow, to make peace. 
  
Random wanderings...Ecclesiastes made me sorry for the people I have hurt with my foolishness, and sorry for the fact that being "sorry" sometimes isn't good enough. There are some relationships that just won't be fixed. Yet, Romans 12:18 straight up tells us that we are to:
"If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
(Love these faces!)
How do we live at peace, when we sin and hurt each other? The grief comes in when I see the foolish deeds I have done, and I can't find a way to make it right.
But even then, God provides a way to heal our hearts in the same verse that pushes us to be peacemakers. God finds a way to be gracious to us. He says "if it is possible, as far as it depends on you..."
That leads to the assumption that He knew there would be times that in spite of your best efforts to reconcile, they just aren't gonna have it. And that's ok.
One pastor explained it like this:
"That means there are times where you're going to have to own your part and the reciprocity won't be there."
And it doesn't really matter. How other respond, how it all turns out...doesn't matter as long as you tried "as far as it depends on you."

So random, but it was nice to have time to just be. To eat a pancake and think about whatever God brought to mind and how it all ties together in this crazy thing called life.

Thank you, Lord, that all we can do is our best. Thank you for your humor, and for telling it like it is. Forgive us for being foolish so often, and help us have soft hearts towards you. Show us if we have wronged someone and need to apologize, or if it's time we forgave that other person who hurt us. Turn us from silly fools into a people who are wise beyond our years because we have hidden your word in our hearts.

"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:1-2

Monday, October 14, 2013

Seasons...

One amazing thing about living in the Northwest...you have a guaranteed reminder every couple of months that life goes on.

Another month of birthdays and parties, of work and family. Times of joy and other times of feeling so toxic I am ashamed of myself.

As we all know, I love pictures. I don't even have to know the people in them, I just love looking at the still capture of a moment. That pause and the opportunity to imagine all the story around that one second of time. My dad still teases me on the fact that with all the video cameras out there, I still would rather spend hours looking at a photo. But I can't help it. I love the moment.

As I looked back on this last month, I realized my inward feelings were reflected in my outward life. Most of the photos I took were blurry, out of focus and full of too much action.

 But as I whined to myself, I realized I was missing the entire point. The whole reason I love pictures and take the insane number that I do...because they give me a glimpse into the lives of people. People made in God's image with his good plan in place for them. I LOVE my people, and I LOVE this life of mine. Blurs and all.

 I sat in my Bible Study and griped to the sweet ladies who put up with me, and as I listened to myself, I realized how selfish I can be. Looking for all the things that should be done great FOR me, I was missing out on being the "great" in someone else's moment. God gives us so much in this life, and a short window of time that we can impact this world for His glory. Sitting around thinking He can't use me because I mess things up is such a waste. Because the truth is, He isn't handicapped by my inadequacy. Really and truly. My weakness is not the "straw that broke the camel's back" for the Creator of the Universe. Bahahaha! What a relief that is!
 
In my Bible Study we are focusing on God's goodness, and I can't stop equating that repeatedly to God's GRACE. If His grace truly is enough for me...why do I want so many other things? Things I can't control or change anyways?

Our study keeps bringing me back to Psalm 36. The beginning of that passage is crazy harsh...but truly shows the root of my dissatisfaction. SIN. I can't bring myself to post the first 4 verses because it can be me far too often. Selfishness, pride, failing to "do good" when I could. So sad. You can read it for yourself here, but in verse 5, REDEMPTION.

It reminds us that "Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,your justice like the great deep." 
We can probably all sing that along with Third Day, but it goes on to say:
"People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house; 
 you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
    in your light we see light." Psalm 36:7a-9 

Wow. If we all really believed that. How different would today look?

God's grace and goodness is more than enough for me. Everything necessary is right there...in Him.  Sure, I am going to still have days where I stay buried in bed all day and play Candy Crush until my eyes cross. But Lord, please make those days fewer and farther in between the AMAZING ones where the things of this life dim a bit, and your GRACE grows bigger before our eyes...so that we can shine that light and love to everyone we meet. 
 
"You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house." Matthew 5:14

Go shine bright (and not like a diamond, Rihanna) for the peeps in your "house", friend.











"Don't begrudge the difficult days...


"I know they're hard- don't hate them. God is at work in the mess."

Justification, adoption, sanctification...big terms for one simple thing. God is enough for me.

 James 1:2-4
 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Wouldn't ya know...

(Pics are some sneak peeks of a photo session of two of my favorite people! I will post more later, have to get the editing done for CDs for Jasmine and Spencer's family first, but they are just too adorable to not share!)
Having a house all to yourself is a glorious thing...but only for a little while. My men are on a retreat, smoking cigars, playing mexican train dominoes and worshiping God together. I am sure they smell like fish from too much bait, don't bother to shower, are only eating meat, and are having a wonderful time.

I can't wait to see them again. Don't get me wrong. Four days of reading and sleeping and reading and sleeping does a body good. No messes to clean up, no dinners to make...but I miss taking care of some bodies. I love my men.
(Jazz and Spence wanted to take pics at some of the places that gave them the best memories. Here is one from Frenchman's Bar.)

It has been nearly a month since our house got a little "bigger", and as much as I can find contentment in having things clean and tidy...I have needed an attitude adjustment more days than I would like to count. I seem to crave feeling sorry for myself lately, and it is humiliating. I just keep telling myself to shape up. And then I do. For about a minute. 

Someone posted something awhile ago that has continued to comfort me in the more bleak moments. It took me back to Genesis, and as I finished the book this morning I still just kept hearing the main lesson that I heard this month:
God is here. He is near, and not one thing in my life surprises Him. It is such a warm thought, and makes the long and lonely days not so lonely. Turn to Genesis 28 with me and just think about Jacob's words.

(And of course, she needed photos on the horse trails around Whipple Creek. Great times!)
He has just been shoo'ed out of the nest by his father and told to go and find a wife from their tribe. "Pick a good one, bud- not like the trashy ladies in our neighborhood." No questions, good ol' Jake hops to it and hits the dusty road.

As he walks along the highway, he cops a squat wherever he is when the sun goes down. He has this crazy, vivid dream (and no he did NOT pick any 'shrooms along the way) of God blessing him and promising "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go...".

When he wakes up, he is shaken by fear at the greatness of God, and realizes how REAL and PRESENT God is. Look at his words in the Message version:
"God is in this place- truly. And I didn't even know it...Incredible. Wonderful. Holy. This is God's house..." Genesis 28:16-17a

How often am I blind to the fact that God is "in this place?" That with His Holy Spirit, I am never far from my wonderful Savior. Oh, beautiful thought. Listen to Jesus:
" And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Sounds nicely familiar, doesn't it? God's words of promise aren't just for Jacob and his Promised Land. Jesus said to us- He would be with us always. 

I love what Jacob does after all that- when he wakes up in the morning, he sets up a memorial spot and names it "Bethel", or Holy Place. He chooses to worship the Lord as His God right then and commits to giving God a tenth of everything God ever gives to Him. 


(Raspberry fields where she decided Spencer was the one- because he was the only person who could keep up with her racing bareback. ;)
No need to be lonely. No need to doubt. Choosing to trust Him, I can be sure that the path I and my dear ones are on is just right. Great comfort tonight. God bless you, friend. May you notice Him in your "place" right now. May you be filled with fear and wonder at the Awesomeness of your God. And may you take time to thank Him, and worship Him for it.

(Never let go, Dear One.)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Family Traditions...


I have had Gloria Gaynor's song rolling through my head for too many days. "I will survive!" seems to be the motto of this summer. It is amazing how quickly we can settle into a new normal. The house has a new look, a new feel, and fewer inhabitants; and we have survived. We have continued on and surprisingly- enjoyed the changes.

We had the opportunity to go to the beach last weekend, and it was so funny to hear my kids reminiscing over all the things they loved about their childhood...and all the things their parents didn't do so well on. As I watched my daughter with her little family wanting to mimic all our habits and traditions, saw the look of "You are crazy" cross her husband's face, I said a little prayer for them as they figure out what is going to be their special places, their special little habits. I can only imagine how hard it is for her as she realizes that her new family isn't going to look like, ANYTHING like, the only crazy one she's ever know.

And that it's OK. She doesn't have to chop down her own Christmas tree every year. The first meal she eats in a new home doesn't have to be an Egg McMuffin the first morning. Splashing in the freezing Pacific Ocean isn't a yearly tradition for everyone and going to every Christmas production in a 50 mile radius isn't a requirement.

I realized that maybe we put too much stock in "traditions", or the making of them, over the years. I love scrapbooking and taking pictures and editing and REMEMBERING every moment. So that brought a lot of memorable activities that literally were just for the sake of my imagination. Quarterly zoo trips, pottery making, homemade pizza nights. Nothing wrong with any of it, but I hope the traditions didn't overshadow the heart. I hope that her memory of all that isn't just the activities, it's the essence of being a family- of living together, loving each other, keeping Christ as the center of it all.

I read something that grabbed me and put into one sentence what my number one goal has always been, and I pray it will someday be understood by my dear ones. The author was writing about her son leaving for college, and as she was being nostalgic, she said:

"We could make "living loved" our family tradition."

Oh, how I want to know my children have always felt that. That in our home and our hearts, the only tradition that matters is that "You are LOVED." Dearly and greatly loved. I want them to see that it's more important that their own families, as well as any person who comes into their home, walks away knowing they are loved by them, and by the One who created it all.

Watching my grown up kids meander through life, I have been reminded how different they are. My daughter has always wanted me to video and photograph every moment of her life. My son would rather I just sit alongside him quietly. When I think about all the "things" we normally do as summer winds down and fall begins, I hope I can be sensitive to them and let them find the traditions that they want to do, and let the others fade to the background.

Because more than anything, I want them to see that "living loved" was the only tradition that matters in our family.

I hope my daughter can see that more than the pictures or places she and her husband remember, living LOVED is the one thing that matters.

I hope my son can see that more than any of the activities he participates in, living LOVED is the one thing that matters.

I hope my son-in-love can see that more than "being right" or being comfortable as he leads his family along their course, living LOVED is the one thing that matters.

And I so truly hope my grandbaby, my Darling Precious, can see that more than all the people, places and adventures her family fills her world with, living LOVED is the one thing that matters.

In light of all that God has blessed us with, how could we live any other way?

"Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
    your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains...
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings." 
Psalm 36:5-7

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The best "Dear Daughter" letter I have read in a long time.

Read this blog post at Kim Keller's site and had to pass it along. I didn't "see" what Miley Cyrus did at the VMA's, but it must have been a doozy.

More striking to me is how much this mother's heart resounds with me. I still wish we had locked our daughter in a basement for about 6 years, but hind sight is 20/20, right? ;)If only I had know "twerking" might have solved all her issues! Bahahaha!
Honestly, I feel that I have the best daughter in the world. She amazes me every day with who she is. As she starts a new job, prepares for college and cares for her husband and child, I am soooo proud of all that she is, and all that God is doing in her life.

But as parents, I think we all have struggled with the "what do I do now?" moments. This post made me laugh... as well as pray harder for my girl as she raises her beautiful daughter, and my boys as they navigate this crazy world. May they be "shrewd as vipers, yet innocent as doves".

"Dear Daughter,
Let Miley Cyrus be a lesson to you.

Yes, this is what happens when you constantly hear everything you do is awesome. This is what happens when people fawn over your every Tweet and Instagram photo. This is what happens when no responsible adult has ever said the word “no,” made you change your clothes before leaving the house, or never spanked your butt for deliberate defiance.

If you ever even consider doing something like that, I promise you that I will run up and twerk so you will see how ridiculous twerking looks. I will duct tape your mouth shut so your tongue doesn’t hangout like an overheated hound dog. I will smack any male whom you decide to smash against his pelvis – after I first knock you on your butt for forgetting how a lady acts in public.

Why would I do that? Because I love you and I want you to respect yourself. Miley Cyrus is not edgy or cool or sexy. She’s a desperate girl screaming for attention: Notice me. Tell me I’m pretty. See how hot I am. I know all the guys want me. All the girls want to be me.

 You probably know girls who will emulate this behavior at the next school dance. Don’t do it with them. You are far too valuable to sell yourself so cheaply. Walk away. Let the boys gawk and know in your heart that they see only a body that can be used for their pleasure and then forgotten.

I’m sorry if you’ve ever felt sad because I haven’t gushed over everything you’ve done. My role is to praise when praise is due, but also to offer constructive criticism and correction when it is needed as well. I’m sorry if you’ve ever felt demoralized because your Instagram following isn’t in the thousands, and I’m sorry those “selfies” can never capture how amazingly beautiful you truly are.

I’m sorry if you’ve ever wished you had a friend instead of a mom, and I promise you that I will probably get worse when you hit high school.

 Dear daughter, I am going to fight or die trying to keep you from becoming like the Miley Cyruses of the world.

You can thank me later."
(Excerpt taking from http://roadkillgoldfish.com/ with all rights to Kimberly Keller)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Why Baby Bee has the moves she does...

Enough said.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

So THIS is what I have been missing...

(Best moving crew ever- and they accept their payment in Blind Onion Pizza!)
One week later, and I think I more fully understand why the Lord said "and that is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife.." I have spent this week rearranging my entire house, decorating my bird room, setting up a game room, and realizing that there are benefits to having your children grow up and move away.
(But don't leave the movers alone with the baby!!!)
Now, I have to admit I still spend at least a couple hours a day laying on my bed, staring at the ceiling and wondering what to do with my day. But it is a wonderful thing that my darling daughter and her husband's daily dramas and concerns are no longer rolling through my home. It is pretty peaceful to not have the hustle and bustle of newlyweds and babies right in the midst of dinner ever night.
(Bee was a great helper to her mother...sort of.)
I miss the spontaneous conversations and jokes that were part of being a family. I miss hearing my daughter laugh down the hall and walking into a room to my grandbaby's happy smile all the time. But there's so much more to be thankful for. Pushing them to move out all these months couldn't have brought more blessings. Because of family dynamics, Jasmine was never able to entertain her in-laws in our house no matter how much we wanted to, now she has had the opportunity to open up her own home and have Brielle's grandparents and even great-grands over to make wonderful memories. Spencer can come home from work and just relax, not having to share his girls with 3 other adults. I truly am so happy for my kiddos, and thankful for the way the Lord has abundantly met their needs.
(Big brother had to check out the new digs.)
I was talking with a friend the other day and it really helped me put all that has happened into perspective. She inspires me every time we meet, because she challenges me not to just stay comfortable in my little Christian bubble, but to really mean and know why I say the things I say. She's a new Christian, and as we talked about the natural hedonistic character of people, and how hard some days it is to be motivated to DO anything, much less be "joyful" about it; I commented that on the hardest days, I just remind myself that "God loves me, so that is enough". I absolutely loved her response. She said, "I don't mean to be rude, but so what? That doesn't motivate me at all on days when life just feels monotonous."
(I don't think I will ever be able to keep Jo from sneaking into Jazz's room to tell her stories! He started doing that before she could even talk, and obviously, some things never change.)
I love that she won't let me give her a pat little Sunday School answer! She wants to really KNOW why we choose to live and act the way we do. I explained that for me, thinking about God's love makes the day worth living. When I don't want to get out of bed because the tears have been streaming for hours and I can't think of one truly important thing I need to do, or when I am so lonely I can hardly stand it and just want to scream out loud- the knowledge that the Lord and Creator of the Universe specifically loves and cares about me gives me the courage to face the day. With all that He has done, all that God IS...my little issues and bad attitude suddenly become very small.

I think, "Life seriously sucks rotten eggs. There is not one good thing I can feel thankful for right now, Lord. But YOU love me, so there MUST be some reason I am still here. There is some good thing You are going to show me today that will make today, or tomorrow, or this week worth living for." And He has never failed. I get up, I do the routine of living, sometimes I just exist...and He still makes me smile, He shows me how to laugh and why today is a day to be thankful.
(Brielle loved showing Grampy her new home! <3>
I spent the rest of the week just reading through and remembering Psalm 78. Read it with me. It is such a testimony to the unfaithful brats we are, but what a mighty God we serve. With all the hard things we go through, whether because of our own mistakes or those of others, He never forgets us or forsakes us. We just need to pay attention. For today, "God loves me" is absolutely perfect.
(Oh, how I love these people. Lord, show them how to love like you do.)
"...we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done...so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands." Psalm 78:4b-7
(Another thing to be thankful for- more time in the garden! Seeing my passion flowers finally blooming was the only thing that got me to smile some mornings. Praise the Lord for creating things that take our breath away with their uniqueness.)

Friday, August 9, 2013

It feels like D- Day...and it shouldn't.

Today is the day. Ready or not, my daughter is moving into her first home without me. It shouldn't be so tragic.
(County Fair time!)
I walked around this evening looking at the weeds that haven't been pulled because I have been busy cuddling babies, the clutter that is all over as a result of 5 adults and an infant living in too small of quarters. I stared at my roses that need pruning and the inside of my fridge that will never be cluttered up with too many left overs again. I mulled over all the things I grumbled about over the last year because of my OCD tendencies, and realized how foolish I am.

(Gotta love these guys. Never a dull moment.)
From the minute my daughter got married, we have been pushing her out of the proverbial nest. And here it is, the official moving day...and my mother's heart can barely stand it. I kissed her good night tonight and promptly went to my bathroom to wash the floor with my tears. Never again will I tuck her into bed, kiss her goodnight regularly or be able to run to her aid when I hear her sick or hurting in the middle of the night. Oh, my heart.

 I don't have the words for how good this move is, or how hard. But my Heavenly Father does.

(Could this baby BE any cuter?)
As I have worked overtime for the last 6 months to make ends meet, been distracted with babies and birds and friends and activities, nothing truly could satisfy the longing in my heart. When I was to see 4 patients in a day and ended up with 8, it still wasn't busy enough. When the baby was crying, my girl was tired and the birds were calling for attention, it still wasn't enough.

Nothing has been able to fully bring peace to my heart like the words of David:
"Unless the Lord had given me help,
 I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, “My foot is slipping,”
 your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
 your consolation brought me joy." Psalm 94:17-19

 The other day, as I was so worried and tired at living, my daughter brought me her Bible and said, "Look at this. I just love this." And she showed me this exact passage. I read it and the peace I was hungry for washed over me.
 Little did my beautiful, amazing grown up little girl know that I have been praying this passage for years.
 Little does she know the way her own personal journey with God blessed me so much that night. Little does she know that God used her desire to share what she was learning to remind her silly Mama that God is on His throne, and He is more than big enough to take care of it all.

(Watching the barrel racers fly around the arena! That's my girls!)
 I hope when you are weary and slipping, you allow God to "console" you with His words. There is truly nothing better.

So I am going to go lay down for a few hours before the dawn comes and I hit the ground running. As I hurry off to see a patient, pick up a U-Haul truck and say good bye to my dear baby girl, I am going to say in my heart, "Thank you, Lord, that when I feel like I am going to fall, your UNFAILING LOVE supported me."

 I am going to picture how tidy my garden will be, how free my evenings will feel, and I am going to imagine how clean and lovely my house will finally be again. There are truly benefits to seeing your children grow up. ;) 


Here's a short link my husband sent me the other day when I was feeling particularly low. No matter what, it is wonderful to remember WHO is working for you. God be with you, friend!