Monday, November 23, 2015

Thankful for Teachers

I'm the "party mom" for my son's first grade class and on Friday we had our Thanksgiving feast!
I had one game planned before the feast.
One game.
A little balance the pumpkin on your head relay race.
There are 15 kids.

I couldn't get those kids to listen to me to save my life!!!
I was so exhausted by the end of the feast, I came home and laid on the couch
 until it was time to go back and pick up my kiddos!
I then proceeded to go to bed at 8:30pm!

Teachers are magical and amazing!
I marvel at their patience and creativity.
I am in awe at their grace and organization.
I'm so thankful for brilliant teachers that love my children and
teach them with energy and enthusiasm.

I'm always a little against doing anything "Christmas" before Thanksgiving,
 but this time I can't resist!
Another great teacher and lover of children is my dear friend Kristie Christie
(yes, how cool is that, she married a man with the last name "Christie!!!)
She has worked in children's ministry for over 15 years and is one of those magical people like Mr. Rogers who simply captivates children with her sweet spirit and authentic love for Jesus.
She has developed an incredible children's ministry curriculum, but has also created a wonderful family advent for this Christmas season.
Click the beautiful graphic below to go to her site and make your holiday meaningful by gathering as a family and preparing your heart for the coming of the King of King.
A 25 day family advent devotional!

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Halloween Candy For Christmas

Do you still have piles like these around your house?


Lord have mercy!
Notice you don't see too many Twix, they're my downfall!
My children go to bed and Moma has a field day of indulgence!

Every family deals with Halloween candy differently and that's cool.
Some send it all to the troops.
Some do the "Switch Witch,"
(my kids were terrified at the thought of a witch
coming into their rooms to take their candy!)
Some turn it into their Dentist.
And some, like us, let their kids eat it!
Not all of it (obviously, it's November 16th and we still have all of this!).
I kinda do what my mom did with the candy - you keep it out in the old school plastic orange pumpkin buckets for a few days and let them have it whenever they want it.
 Then after a few days it goes into a cupboard.
Out of sight, out of mind!
And then, every so often, they ask, "hey, where is my Halloween candy?"
 And I reply, it's in the cupboard, go pick a piece.
They days between them asking for the out of sight candy get farther and farther apart until I hit the
"Expiration Date."
Once we get to Thanksgiving, the candy expires in our house!  And usually I throw it all away.

But this year, I have a brilliant idea.....
Make GINGERBREAD HOUSES with all the candy!
I wanted to make an example to share, but I don't want to waste our candy!!
And it goes against everything I believe in to do anything "Christmasy" until after Thanksgiving!
Every year I go buy a ton of candy to use to make our Gingerbread Houses, but not this year!
Tootsie Rolls become chimneys or stacked for a log cabin effect or stacked outside the Gingerbread House like a pile of fire wood.
Lolly pops become street lamps.
MnMs and Skittles become Christmas lights on the Gingerbread House.
Smarties line the walkway up to the house.
Nerds become tiny Christmas lights on the house or used to make designs on the house.
The possibilities are endless!

So Happy Halloween turns into Merry Christmas!!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Mom's 70th

I just returned from a fabulous adventure with my Mom to celebrate her 70th birthday.
Her destination of choice:  Cape Cod
We flew into Rhode Island and spent a day in Newport, touring the mansions, 
before we drove out to the Cape.

If you know my mother and her dramatic imagination - hats were a must at the mansions in her book!

The extravagance, the opulence, the wealth, it was all too much.
Yet I'm confident I was made to live in one of these mansions!

We had the most fabulous food.
Lobster Rolls to die for and the decadent 3 course breakfasts at our Inn.

We chased sunsets, sun rises and lighthouses.

We did a little shopping and a lot of walking.

 She made her art...

And I made mine.

It was such a treasured time away, celebrating my fabulous mother.

I'm blessed everyday to have my Mom as my best friend.  Some people spend their whole life searching for their best friend, their soul mate, kindred spirit.  I was lucky enough to be born to mine!
All that I am and all that I hope to be is her.
Love you Moma
Happy 70th

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Like Cookies In The Orthodontist's Office...

I had another Mommy Fail this morning.
The kids were all dressed up for "Tacky Tourist" day and I wanted to snap a picture.
As they gathered together, one little sister grabbed a little brother and pulled him next to her in a less than nice way.
Start the arguing and end with me putting the camera down.
"When are you going to stop this?  When is it going to end?" I asked them all, knowing there wouldn't be an appropriate answer.
"When we get to heaven I guess," the grabber answered with a snarky tone.
Hmmm, not sure if I can wait for heaven for the bickering to stop!
Then we got into the car to head to school and another round fired up.
This time it was over a lunch bag that was "touching" a child that it didn't belong to.
Start the arguing and end with me loosing it and crossing a line!

"You're really going to argue about a lunch bag that fell over and touched you?  Really?  This is nonsense.  There are real problems in the world, things worth getting upset over, but a lunch bag, really?"  And then I proceeded to list off some of the awful things happening in the world, both appropriate for small children to hear and one that was not so appropriate.
Great job Mom!
One little child said, "why did you tell us that?  now we're going to have nightmares."
Grabbing, bickering, now nightmares!

I pulled into the school, told them I was sorry and I that I loved them, and as I pulled away I felt awful.  I let my frustrations get the best of me and I crossed a line.
The whole drive home I was thinking how I need to be different.
I need to be an example to them, with great self control, who gently guides them in the right way, not scares them into it.  My time is drawing to a close with these littles - not to be dramatic, but my girls will be in middle school in a moment and then it's all down hill!  I really need to change and be the mom I want to be for them.

I got to the orthodontist office for my morning appointment and as I sat in the chair, the assistant in scrubs came over to me and said, 
"Are you ready to change over?"
I just stared at her blankly.
Did she know what I did this morning?
Did she know the line I crossed and scared my children?
Did she know that I desperately want to change over to being a more self controlled mom?
Again she asked, 
"Are you ready to change over?"
"What do you mean?" I replied.
"Your Invisalign, are you ready to change over to the new set?"
Phew!  She had no idea that I majorly failed with my kids!

But I left with that question on my heart,
"Are you ready to change over?"
I'm so ready but I don't know how.
I want to change, but where do I begin?
I'm embarrassed.
I feel unworthy.
I am just about as disgusted with myself as I am with my children's bickering!

Then I turned on my way out of the Orthodontist's office and saw this tray by the coffee maker

Why in the world are there cookies in the Orthodontist's office?
Seems like an oxymoron no?
Then I thought of God's grace.
Getting something that isn't deserved.
Kind of like cookies in a place where they work on your teeth, God's grace doesn't really make sense!
But today I'm receiving that undeserved gift of grace because I desperately need it.
And I think I kinda need a cookie after my ortho appointment too!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Little Problems Lead To Big Problems

Do you ever think, 
"It's no big deal, it will go away."
"This is a minor issue, I can live with this."
"Just once more, I'll stop tomorrow."
Whether it be a bad habit, a small pain in your leg, or the need to eat better and exercise - little problems eventually lead to big problems!
Right now I'm in the midst of reaping the benefits of little problems gone big!
Over 12 years ago I had a dentist tell me I should get a bite guard for my teeth that I grind at night.
My bottom teeth were barely starting to move and become unnoticeably crooked.
That was just it, it was pretty much unnoticeable!, so why should I spend the money to fix something that really didn't need fixing at the moment?!
Well, here I am, 12 years later, doing Invisalign!

(I'm sure you totally wanted to see my retainers!  I'm visual.)

A small problem that was hardly noticeable to anyone grew into a big problem where my bottom teeth became so crooked they changed my bite and I started fracturing my teeth with my hard, unaligned bite!
Now I get to relive jr. high and wear retainers 22 hours a day! 
(insert *high kick* and side ponytail)

Then a few months back my hip started to hurt and when it became almost unbearable I went to the doctor and now am in physical therapy 3 days a week.
Atrophy in a tiny muscle, one that "working out" doesn't really get to, is causing my hip to push out in a way that over time has become rather painful.
They say my butt is weak!
(insert another *high kick* but not so high, I'll pull my groin!)

 (I'm sure you totally want to see my legs.  Again, I'm visual)

3 days a week I get to go have nice men put my legs in awkward positions and tell me to "hold it there for 1 minute," while I sweat and shake.  Then I get to put on my most favorite Dolphin running shorts (no, I don't run unless being chased) and have the physical therapist rub my hip / butt and my thigh.  Luckily my PT is a female friend and I only sweat a little with awkward discomfort.
After the not-so-luxurious massage, I get to have those nice men (or young men rather - now that I'm over 40 I can say that of twenty-somethings!) put their hands down my pants and hook me up to some wires that send electrical currents through my hip / butt and wrap me in ice.
(forget about the *high kick* I'm too sore)
A little problem - lack of exercise and strength training - has grown into a big problem that now allows me to be embarrassed 3 times a week.

Such a great life lesson:
Problems, if not taken care of when they are little, will grow into BIG problems.
And the list goes on of areas in life, that if they go unchecked and little problems creep up, before we know it, we are in deep trouble with big problems.

If there is a small, nagging area in your life today that needs some attention - do it!
Don't allow a little problem to grow into a BIG problem!
(and spare yourself the humiliation of wearing retainers while being rubbed down in Dolphin shorts and allowing strangers to hook wires up to your butt!)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

My Cardboard Sign

Yesterday I sat at a stoplight after I dropped the children off at school.
There was a  man on the sidewalk with his back to me.    
He had on nice camo pants, a shirt and a ball cap.
He was bent over the bushes, looking for something.
His head was cocked to his shoulder, holding his cell phone.
For some reason, he caught my attention and I continued to watch him, hoping I'd see what he discovered in the bushes!
Then he got off the phone, slipped it into his pocket and turned around to reveal a cardboard sign that read,
"Anything will help."
My light turned green and I left.

The whole scene confused me as though I'd fallen down the rabbit hole
after eating the forbidden cake.
I was a little stunned.
"Is he homeless?"  I thought.
"How does he pay for his cell phone?"
"Where does the bill get sent to?"

Obviously I don't know this man's story.
Perhaps he has a home where he receives his cell phone bills, but he just can't make ends meet.
I have no idea, I just know that the contrast of the scene on the sidewalk puzzled me.
I thought I knew who he was by his clothes, cell phone and his intent on finding the hidden treasure in the bushes.  But then his cardboard sign totally changed what I thought I knew about this man.

When I got home I kept thinking about that man.
Things often are not as they appear.
Our cardboard sign can either reveal our truth, or perpetuate a lie.
We might behave like we have it all together, only to turn around to reveal our cardboard sign that says, "I'm dying inside, help me."
Or we might daily complain, constantly live in "if only...," feel purposeless, insignificant, only to turn around and reveal our cardboard sign that says,
"I have abundant life in Christ because I put my trust in Him."

Such sharp contrasts.
Confusing, puzzling contrasts.

I confess that I'm more like the latter sign holder.
Since the children went back to school I've been a little down and discouraged.  I thought I'd get some clear vision of my purpose now that I have some extra time, but it hasn't come yet. I've been a little bored (dare I say it) and just feeling insignificant.
But all the while, I'm holding a cardboard sign, my reality if you will, that says,


Kind of like that man on the sidewalk, my sign has been hidden to passers-by.  Hidden to me.  My reality and my truth has been face down on the street while I behave in a manner that is completely contrary to my truth.

Today I'm letting go of the lie and holding fast to my cardboard sign.

I have abundant life in Christ because I put my trust in Him and He promised it to me.
I am significant.
I have purpose.

All of that because of Jesus.

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Dream Life

My Aunt came into town for one quick day and brought with her piles of my Grandmother's recipes!
But she also brought something that I hardly have the words to describe.
It is a notebook that my Grandmother filled every page, in detail, 
with all of her dreams for a perfect life. 

House, furniture, dishes, clothing for every season, food, table linens, baby clothes, nursery plans...
everything is spelled out in vivid detail, including precisely cut out pictures from magazines.
Not one of the pictures has a frayed edge.
There are no ripples from the glue she used!
Her cursive writing with a liquid ink pen is beautiful and without mistake.
The whole book is remarkable.

We read through this book, shocked at the painstaking detail, "2 red bracelets on one arm," to be worn with the blue dot dress.
We're guessing she wrote this book sometime in the late 1930's, before she was married or had children because who would have time for such a thing with a new baby!!!
The pages tell of a young girl's dream for an ideal life.
They allow for a peek into one girl's hopes and wishes of exactly what her life should look like.
The pages intrigued me.
They caused me to laugh at the once esteemed fashions.
And they made me cry.
My Grandmother's life was not at all this dreamy.
I've learned things of her life that are far too personal to share, but I know with confidence they were never part of her "Perfect Honeymoon" or life.

Last Friday, my husband and I celebrated our 11th anniversary.
I posted a picture of us going out with the caption:
"This is what 20 years looks like.  9 years of dreaming, wishing, hoping... 11 years of living the dream! (And digging our heels in!)

For 9 years, since the day I saw this man, I dreamed of him.
We dated off an on (mostly off!), but no matter what our status, I dreamed of him.
And in my dreams, I only saw the good things, the great things, the perfect things.
I romanticised his faults and to me, he was my ideal.
After our final break-up, and when I finally dreamed of him no more, that was when he crept back into my life and wooed me and pursued me. 
 This time I saw his faults, and chose to marry him anyway.
It's been 11 years.
There have been many moments that I would have never eloquently written about in a book with perfectly pasted pictures.  There have been many season that were dreadful and more like nightmares than dreams.
But in these 11 years I've slowly thrown out the pages of my book that held impossible dreams, unattainable perfections, and unrealistic hopes.
I've settled into the truth of forgiveness and redemption and how, only by God's grace and mercy, I can say that I love this man with all of my heart and come what may, I'm going to dig my heels in and fight to keep my vows.
True love is about seeing someone, with all their faults and flaws, and choosing to love them anyway.
It's a choice.
I'm grateful that he still chooses me!


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