Category Archives: Ramblings

We Will Never Forget

Yesterday, my oldest asked me if I remembered where I was when I heard about the attacks on the World Trade Center. She said a teacher had told her there are moments in history when most people can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news.
 
September 11, 2001, is one of those moments in history. Yes, honey. Yes. I remember. I will always remember.
 
Like most, I remember where I was, what I was doing and even what I was wearing. I remember the fear I felt and the overwhelming desire to get home to be with, and to hug, the people I loved. 
 
We didn’t have televisions in our office, but we had a radio playing. I remember standing by the filing cabinet when I heard the news that the first tower had been hit.
For a brief period of time, it seemed like it was an accident. It had to be an accident. Right?
And then the second tower was hit, and the reality this was no accident struck. Hard. It seemed we were at war.
I remember walking dazed and scared to the cafeteria and seeing the footage play on the television. It was so much worse than I had imagined. 
 
I remember the shock. The horror.
 
I remember watching in dread as people jumped to their death from the smoky buildings. I remember watching the footage and hearing the sound as bodies hit the ground. Tears rolled down my cheeks. These were  loved ones. Moms. Dads. Grandparents. Children. These people. These poor people.
I remember watching as the second plane hit. I remember the images of people covered in ash running. Some walking. It was chaos. It was horrible. But I couldn’t stop listening. And watching. And wondering. And waiting. What would be next? The Pentagon. The crash in Pennsylvania. It felt like it would never end. What else would be hit? I had never felt so unsafe in my country.

That night, my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and I drove to a local church. At that time in our lives we hadn’t been attending church regularly, but we knew we wanted to be with others who believed in God. We wanted to be in prayer. It was dark when we walked up to the church. The Priest was getting ready to leave when we walked up. Others were walking up, too. We weren’t alone in our need to be somewhere with others. We didn’t know what to do, but we knew we wanted to do something. Anything. In that moment, gathering with strangers in front of a church seemed like the only something we could do. In retrospect, when I don’t know what to do – gathering with others to pray is always a good start. 
The Priest stood with us outside, held our hands and prayed.
 
Over the next weeks, the images played over and over and over again. And people were scared. So scared. I will never forget the eery silence outdoors when all flights were canceled and the fear I felt when they resumed. I remember hearing a plane fly overhead, looking up and thinking – things will never be the same, again. 

Life did return to normal, but it was a post 9/11 normal. 
We each carry memories and stories from that day. Some watching and listening from a radio or television. Some seeing the tragedy unfold before their eyes from a distance. And others who were there. Those who survived.
Whatever your story, the memories from that day will always be with us.
The images of heroes rushing back into the flaming, smoking buildings – sacrificing their lives for the lives of complete strangers. The images of the heroes lifting the flag to the sky on a mound of rubble. The images of family members crying as they held up signs showing faces and names of missing loved ones. The images of the buildings going down. Knowing precious lives were lost.
Thank you to the men and women who gave their lives for the lives of others. Thank you for your bravery. Thank you for your incredible sacrifice. Thank you to the heroes then, and the heroes now.
You will never be forgotten.
 
September 11, 2001. We will never forget!
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When Your Nose Ring Goes Down the Drain (and Other Mishaps)

Last week was not the best week for me.

For starters, I dropped my nose ring down the drain. Not a super big deal. It was more of an inconvenience than anything. Thankfully, I had a backup hoop that did the trick for a couple of days (and made me look way more hardcore than my go-to itty bitty stud.)

Next up on the list of debacles, I spilled water on my MacBook. Ouch. The irony that I’m constantly reminding the kids to keep water away from electronics was not lost on me. I had to hang my head down low when they came home and asked why my computer was flipped upside down like a tent on the counter – my unsuccessful attempt to dry it out.

Thank goodness for AppleCare. Even though it was covered, I still had to pay $300 out of pocket. Although it could have been way worse (like over $1300 worse), that’s still a lot of money to pay for some spilled water.

What else went wrong? Let me tell you.

After taking in my MacBook and learning about the cost of the damage, I went to Macy’s to return an item. They asked for my license. I handed it over and, you guessed it, left it there.

When I realized I was licenseless, I was already 25 minutes away from the mall (which had already closed), and there was nothing I could do but wait until the next day. I was starting to get pretty frustrated with myself.

Come on. Get it together. All of these small mistakes were costing both time and money. Neither of which are in abundance right now.

At this point, I was thinking I must be at my mishap quota for the week. I mean how many mistakes can a girl make in 48 hours?

Turns out at least one more.

The next day, I was stripping the beds in preparation for our company who was set to arrive that afternoon. I threw the sheets in the washer, started it up and walked away. About 10 minutes later, I realized I had not seen my phone.

And then it hit me. My stomach flipped and flopped as I was I was hit with a sinking feeling. You know the one that leaves your insides churning because you have an idea of what might have happened (and desperately hope you are wrong.)

I walked to the washer, turned it off and waited for the water to drain. I lifted the sheets and looked down at the bottom of the machine. There it was. Still sitting in the remaining water that had yet to drain. My phone. Submerged.

I washed my phone.

My husband was on his way to pick up doughnuts with my daughter. I picked up the iPad (our only working device in the house because the computer is out of commission, too) and FaceTimed him.

“Hello,” he said.

“I washed my phone. In the washer. With the sheets.”

Silence. “You’re kidding. Right?”

“Nope.”

“Jennnn!!”

I know, right?! Ugh. He’s so sweet. He totally would have been justified in saying so much more than just “Jennnnn!”

With guests set to arrive and the house in need of cleaning, that meant my sweet hubby was now sent on the mission to retrieve my license and get me a new phone. With all four kids in tow, might I add. Not really how he wanted to spend his Saturday morning, I’m sure.

At this point, all of the “Get it together” and “What’s your problem?” thoughts I was having the day before were back in full effect. Like a siren wailing in my head.

At least I had AppleCare for my MacBook. What in the heck was the phone going to cost?

Why was I making all of these mistakes? What was going on with me?

Distraction with a capital ‘D.’ That’s what. Plain and simple.

Instead of being present and focused last week, my thoughts were drifting all over the place. I was definitely not living in the “now.”

The kids recently started school and this means there have lots of papers to sign, monies to hand over and a plethora of dates and deadlines to keep track of on the calendar. On top of it, all four of them have recently started activities which require more forms, more money, Sign-up Geniuses and lots more dates to keep track of on the calendar.

And, it seems that in a moment of my-baby-is-off-to-kindergarten weakness, I may have gotten a little overzealous with the sign-ups. Sure I will be Room Mom and Box Top Mom and join that committee and (wipe my tears) whatever other sign-up comes my way. Sure. I’ll do it.

Last week, after volunteering to help with an upcoming event, I received an email from the teacher asking if I was sure I wanted to help with this one? She had recently been notified that it may be good for the Room Moms to limit their involvement in some of the other activities because of the large commitment already made to helping in the classroom.

Wait. What? I signed up to be Room Mom for this class, too?

I’m pretty sure any self-help book I pick up on making healthy choices and minimizing stress would advise against putting your name on all sign-up sheets that make their way into your hands during Meet the Teacher Night – especially when you’re in a state of emotional distress.

All of the papers and what-nots had me distracted last week, but that’s not all. I think it was also learning how to operate within my new normal. I am used to having kids home with me, and now I don’t. And it’s different. I am learning how to make the best use of my time, and I am also quickly learning that just because they aren’t home with me – that doesn’t mean there are suddenly an extra 40 hours in the week. I need to pick and choose how to spend my days in the most beneficial way for both myself and my family. I’m learning.

I’m also learning it can feel lonely sometimes. And a bit isolating. But I know that will pass.

And to top it off, my mom and stepdad moved to our small town last Sunday. While this is very exciting, I haven’t lived by my mom and stepdad since college. The blessings will be many, but I do believe there will be a learning curve for all of us – including my sister and her family who live here as well.

And this is what had my head spinning. All of this change. While the change is all good, it’s still change. And it was taking up way too much space in my head.

This week has been better. I have put some systems into place that have helped me feel more organized and less spastic. I have made lists – lots and lots of lists. Instead of having all of those thoughts clogging my head, I have put them down on paper – which for me, is sometimes the best medicine. When I find myself drifting, I am trying to practice something a friend told me about last weekend. I am trying to practice being present in the “now.” Listening to the sounds, observing the sights – paying attention to my surroundings.

These things have helped. This week has been better for my electronics, and our bank account.

The big thing I learned is to not beat myself up. These things happen. Bad weeks happen. Sometimes water gets spilled and phones get washed. It’s all about moving forward and learning from mistakes, right?

This won’t be the last time I have a bad week, but hopefully the next time it happens – I will remember to stop and look before I throw my phone in the wash.

 

 

 

 

 

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When the Morning Turns F-Bomb – Disney Style

Have you ever had a moment when you are slightly (or fully) ashamed of how you reacted to something? A moment when you look back at the wellspring of reactions you could have chosen from and think, “Really? That was my choice response?”

I have had that happen. More times than I care to admit. In fact, it’s happening right now.

Something really got to me this morning and instead of deep breathing and putting things in perspective, I was slamming my hands on the counter and throwing F-bombs at my computer.

Yep. I totally was. Thank goodness everyone in the house was still asleep and didn’t have to witness mama going completely off the rails.

Anyone who knows me well, knows profanity doesn’t flow from these lips. Not that I am vehemently opposed to it. In fact, it seems cool to throw a little spice in my vocabulary every now and again (you know, for emotional emphasis), but it just doesn’t come naturally.  It’s not my thing.

Except for this morning. This morning, it was totally my thing.

So, what happened? What went so awry that I felt the need to slam hands and throw F-bombs? Must have been pretty bad, right?

Right? No. It wasn’t bad. Not at all. And that’s where the “Seriously?!” comes into play.

You see, I woke up this morning bright and early with a plan – and when things didn’t go my way, I reacted like a tantrum-throwing toddler. Except, hopefully, most toddlers aren’t throwing F-bombs. Unless that “F” happens to stand for “Fart” – then I could totally see that happening. At least with my kids.

So, what was this plan that went awry?

Well, it started with a spreadsheet. A beautiful spreadsheet carefully laying out all of our vacation plans for a week at the most magical, happiest place on earth. Where? You guessed it. Disney World.

Now here is where I may gain some supporters for my mama meltdown. Any of you who have planned a full-blown Disney vacation with meal plans and Fast Passes know this is no joke. It’s serious business.

And for those of you like myself, this is a far stretch from the typical vacation. Disney is in a league of it’s own.

When I travel with my family, we prefer to wing it. We arrive at our destination with a few ideas of where we may eat and some attractions to check out, but very little other than arrival and departure are solidified. We like to go with the flow. Planning out every detail of a vacation is absolutely NOT our style.

Unless that is – we are traveling to Disney.

Sure, it is possible to go to the most magical place on earth and fly by the seat of your pants, but I just can’t do it. For the amount of money we’re spending, I want to be sure we squeeze out every last bit of magic.

And that was my goal when I woke up this morning – coffee in hand, computer open, phone on the counter ticking off the seconds until the Fast Passes would be mine. I was eager and ready. Come on Disney – Do your magic.

I chose the first date. The little circle spun around and around. YES. This was happening.

Or was it?

Nope. It sure wasn’t.

In the place where my park selections were supposed to be was a single sentence notifying me that there were no available passes at any of the parks for that day. What the?!

I tried again. And again. Each time with the same results.

I will spare you the details, but for the next couple hours I spent a lot of time hitting refresh, trying to get my app to work (to no avail) and an hour listening to Disney park advertisements while I sat on hold waiting to talk to someone – only to find out when they finally did answer that they are not able to help with Fast Pass selections. Who knew?

Finally, it worked. I was able to get my reservations, but it wasn’t without a lot of under the breath muttering, rubbing hands through my hair and various other indicators that I was less than happy with my current circumstance.

What was that circumstance again?

Oh yeah. I wasn’t able to get my Fast Passes when I wanted them. And there, my friend, is where the reality check comes into play. After the Fast Passes were secure and all was again right with the world, I was left with the sad reality of my attitude and behavior. And sad it was.

I mean, come on. Seriously?

This is the definition of a First World problem. And for a couple of hours this morning, this First World problem of the Walt Disney network being down consumed me.

The aftermath? I have my Fast Passes, and if I said I wasn’t happy about that – I would be telling a full blown lie. I’m super stoked about that.  What I’m not happy about is the sorry attitude I had when things didn’t go as planned. Instead of putting things in perspective, I became engulfed in my personal desire to secure these passes for our vacation. Instead of having a heart of gratitude for all that I have, including the ability to go on this incredible vacation, my sole focus was on what I didn’t have.

And this is not how I want to live. This is not where I want my heart to go in those moments. It’s okay to feel frustrated. It was a frustrating situation. But I got lost in my frustration.

My reaction this morning reminds me of the importance of starting my day in prayer and meditation. When I do this, the focus shifts from myself and all of my wants and desires to God and what He may want for my day. When I do this, I am much more apt to say, “Thy will be done.” If I start my day with quiet time, instead of jumping right into my plans –  I am much more apt to roll with the punches.

My reaction this morning reminds me of the importance of keeping a heart of gratitude – regardless of my circumstances. It reminds me  to be grateful for my many blessings and not get so lost in my wants and desires that I lose perspective.

I lost perspective a little bit this morning when things didn’t go my way.

Thankfully, I have it back.

And I hope not to lose it again. Especially not in the “My Disney plans aren’t working out so I’m going to drop F-bombs and throw my hands in the air repeatedly” kind of way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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When Fear Takes Hold

Some people are afraid of bees. Others, of sharks. Some, of flying.

Abandonment. Rejection. Loneliness.

Growing old.

Failure. Change. Heights.

Losing a loved one.

Sickness.

Death.

The list is long, exhausting – and varies from person to person.

For some, the fear is like a siren that stops them in their tracks. It’s debilitating. It’s life-altering. It demands their course be corrected before they reach impending doom.  It keeps them locked in their home, afraid to step outside. It keeps them from getting on an airplane. It keeps them from trying something new.

For others, it’s a small whisper in their ear, warning them of potential danger. It comes and then it goes, like a gust of wind on a blustery day.

“Don’t swim too far out in the ocean. You’ve seen Jaws. You know what’s out there.”

“Don’t attempt that. You’ll never succeed.”

“Why would you want to change? Stay nice and comfortable where you are. You don’t know what exists on the other side.”

And for some, it is like a thorn in the side. A constant, gnawing feeling that some type of danger is lurking around the corner – waiting patiently for the right moment to strike. It’s a feeling in the pit that is carried around from day to day and just won’t go away.

There are many ways to describe it and many people who struggle with it.

Anxiety.And I am one of those people.

Photo credit: PracticalCures.co

I have always been a slightly anxious person. I have learned over the years how to deal with my anxiety. Usually, I realize I am being irrational and am able to work it out until the fear is gone. I have learned how to take many of my anxious thoughts captive and replace them with something fruitful.

Usually.

But not so much lately.

Since moving, I have found my anxiety bubbling to the surface more often usual.

In fact, in October, I had my second-ever panic attack.

I was at a lovely restaurant enjoying a delectable meal with family before heading to a concert. We had a sitter for the evening. My dad was in town. I had been looking forward to this night for a long time.

My food arrived. I began to eat. And as I was eating, an uncomfortable feeling started to well up inside of me. I found it more and more difficult to concentrate on the conversation (and it was a good one.) I felt sick to my stomach and itchy and was certain I must be allergic to something I was eating. In my mind, it was only a matter of minutes before my throat would close. I told everyone I thought I was having an allergic reaction (and I was convinced that I was.) The food was rushed away and off people went in search of some Benadryl.

I felt awful. And embarrassed.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized what had happened was not an allergic reaction at all, but was indeed a panic attack.

I am still not sure what brought it on, but I do know it was awful.

I know God gave us fear for a reason and that the fight-or-flight response in the proper situation is actually a good thing. Recognizing and avoiding potential harm is what keeps us and those we care for alive. If I see my toddler who can’t swim walking toward a pool without a life jacket on, I should be scared. This fear motivates me to jump out of my seat and save my child from jumping in. This fear saves my child from death. This is proper fear.

But sometimes, this fear – this anxiety – shows up at inappropriate times (like when you are at dinner with your family.) Sometimes, it revs up and gets stuck in overdrive. Sometimes, the fight-or-flight response has been turned on and just won’t turn off. And this can lead to all sorts of problems. Cortisol levels skyrocket. Sleep diminishes. Weight gain. Heart disease. Diabetes. Thyroid problems. Depression. Digestive problems. The list goes on…..

But that list isn’t what I have been worried about. Nope.

I’m not afraid of bees or sharks or flying or the effects of anxiety on my body.

What I am afraid of is a pandemic.

This is why I don’t like anything that has to do with zombies. It’s not so much that they are creepy dead guys who make horrible sounds and try to eat people (although I don’t like that either) – it’s the virus component of the fictional walking dead that scares me most and keeps me from tuning in to the movies, shows and books that so many love.

This is why I have never watched the movie ‘Contagion’, nor do I have any desire to. That plot line terrifies me.

And this fear of mine is what has been plaguing me for the past few weeks. The move increased my anxiety and the flu has kicked it into overdrive. This widespread influenza virus has awoken the anxiety-beast within.

It is a constant battle in my brain. With three out of our four children suffering from asthma and other lung issues, influenza is normally a rival of mine – but this year, it’s my arch enemy.

I keep attempting to turn it over to God. To let it go. I don’t want to be afraid. I want to trust. I need to trust.

But it just keeps popping up.

The only thing that seems to give me peace in these moments of fear and anxiety is if I remind myself that this is not our home. That in this world we are promised pain and suffering, but not in heaven. If I change my perspective from the here and now to the eternal, my anxiety diminishes. If I remember that we all have a time when we will die (this is inevitable) and if I remember that I do not know this time, but God does. If I remember that my children are actually HIS children and that He loves them so much more than even I do. If I remember that same thing about my husband – then my anxiety diminishes.

 

I don’t want to be afraid. I don’t want to worry about influenza.

I don’t want to be anxious.

I am trying not to watch the news, or read articles as much as possible. We are taking our elderberry extract and Oscillococcinum and a cocktail of other vitamins. When the kids come home from school, they change their clothes and hand washing is our new favorite past-time.

I am praying. Lots.

This is all I can do. The rest is out of my hands.

I trust in the goodness of God. I know He does not want me to be anxious. And I don’t want to be either.

And the crazy thing is that one of our daughters already tested positive for influenza this year. We all were put on Tamiflu  prophylactically and nobody else caught it. If someone else gets the flu, we would do the same thing again. God answered our prayers and Amelia was fine. My rational mind goes back to that and remembers there is nothing to be afraid of. And then I see something scroll across my newsfeed, or hear someone cough and the anxiety creeps back in.

If you get a chance, will you say a little prayer that my anxiety will dissipate? And if this year’s influenza virus has you all topsy-turvy and what-iffy, let me know and I will say a little prayer for you and your family, too.

I’m not afraid of bees or sharks or flying. And I’m hoping to add influenza to that list too.

 

 

 

 

 

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Imperfection and Half-Eaten Birthday Cake

Sometimes it feels like too much.

There is a constant list of to-dos running through my head. Items that need checked off.

One. By. One.

For example:

The girls need new eyeglasses. That prescription has been in my wallet for a couple of months. I hope it’s still there. I’m sure it’s still good. Those things have a year before they expire, right?

My daughter needs to visit the orthodontist. I’ve had to call and cancel three times already because of sickness. Why do people always seem to get sick when someone needs to be at the orthodontist? Now I’m embarrassed to call again. Do I pick a new one? Or make the call of shame? Is it three strikes and you’re out?

I think we’re almost out of milk. I hope they have organic. The last time they were running low. And they need to drink organic, right? Aren’t the hormones causing all of this early-puberty nightmare? We have three girls and a boy. Three girls. We don’t need anybody entering puberty early. Not if we can help it.

 

My daughter’s Birthday party is tomorrow. At our house. And I haven’t cleaned a thing. Or set up anything. In fact, I am serving half a frozen Birthday cake that is leftover from when we celebrated her Birthday a few days ago. How embarrassing. What mom serves half a cake? And it doesn’t even say her full name anymore. It just says “lah.”

I hope everyone drops off so nobody has to witness this, but honestly why would I let all of that cake go to waste? It’s good cake. And it was expensive. I’m not throwing it away and I’m not taking the time to make a new one. That’s just crazy. Definitely not a Pinterest party AT ALL. The shame.

My daughter needs new basketball shorts. I’m so glad she made the team. Oh yea – I need to write down that schedule. We have to be at all of the games. Have to. All of them. And sometimes we should bring signs. But maybe that will embarrass her….we’ll see about the signs.

Thanksgiving is next week. Time to think about what to prepare. Remember what happened to the last turkey? Total National Lampoons Christmas vacation. Can’t do that again. Must. Not. Overcook. I should YouTube how to make a turkey. Or Pinterest. Or something.

I haven’t purchased any Christmas gifts yet. Oh no.

When I was scrolling through Facebook, I saw how my friend reads lengthy wonderful enriching classic novels to her daughter at night. I’ve always wanted to do that. But I am so tired at bedtime. I fall asleep during the snuggles. But it would be so good for them if we read together more. I will work on that next week. It needs to be a priority.

 

And it’s time to have “the talk” with my daughter. Ugh. What if someone else beat me to it already? What if she learned about it on the bus? The horror. Need to Google some good books and come up with a plan. Definitely a priority. As long as the plan isn’t for me to read with her at night – because then I will fall asleep. Better come up with a different plan.

But what about the laundry and the cleaning and the doctors appointments and when someone is sick and just needs snuggles? What about making meals? What about the errands that need run? And helping at the school? And working out? I can’t forget to take care of myself.

What about?

What about?

Time for deep breaths.

Breathe.

 

Let’s try again.

What about just trying my best?

What about knowing that I will not get everything done today that needs done?

What about understanding, expecting and coming to peace with the fact that the list will always be there?

It’s part of living.

It’s part of raising a family.

It’s about priorities.

It’s about balance.

It’s about knowing when to work your tail off – and knowing when you need to spend time playing a board game or snuggling on the couch with your little one.

It’s not about perfection.

Nobody is perfect. As parents, we WILL mess up. It’s inevitable. It’s okay.

To all of you parents who could relate to this post in one way or another – keep up the tremendous work. Some days may be harder than others. Some days are Pinterest days and others are serve half-eaten Birthday cake kind of days – and that’s okay.

The more half-eaten Birthday cakes that are served, the more it takes the pressure off the other parents.

I will look at this cake I am serving as a contribution to other parents. Now they can say, “Well at least my cake was a whole cake.”

And do you know what? In the long run, our kids aren’t going to remember every small detail anyways.

What our kids will remember is we were there. We tried. And we weren’t perfect.

It’s time to embrace imperfection.

We all have our strengths and things that come naturally to us and we all have our weaknesses.

And when the time comes for our children to raise their own families – they will hopefully find peace in knowing we messed up. We weren’t perfect and they aren’t perfect either.

And they don’t have to be.

Nobody is.

And that’s okay.

In fact it’s more than okay – it’s liberating.

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I would love to hear from you. Tell me about your half-eaten cake moment. Post pictures. Let’s encourage one another to embrace our beautiful imperfection.

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In the Face of Tragedy

I had a plan. My plan was to share a fantastic cookie recipe on my page today. I sat down to write and couldn’t find the words.

One of the ways I process and deal with things is through writing. Before the days of internet and blogging and typing out thoughts on the computer, I would take my pen to paper and fill pages of journals with words.

Sometimes it felt like my hand wouldn’t move fast enough.

My deepest thoughts and feelings would materialize on the lined pages and then be tucked away in a secret place with hopes that nobody would find them.

 

It’s funny how I went from hiding journals to publicly sharing my thoughts.

The computer has become my journal and because of this – I couldn’t share my cookie recipe.

Not today.

My heart is too heavy.

Another shooting. More innocent lives lost.

Again.

It feels like the world is it’s own special brand of crazy right now.

Charlottesville. Las Vegas. Antioch. New York City. Sutherland Springs.

Violence. Tragedy. Loss.

 

Horrific.

Senseless.

Over the years we have seen violence unfold in places that inherently seem safe.

These are the places I imagine people going when they are in need of help. Places where Safe House stickers would rest on the window – letting people know this is where they can flee for protection in the face of harm.

These safe havens – these places of warmth and safety and comfort don’t seem as safe as they once did.

When I kiss my children and wave goodbye in the morning as they head out the door to school – it does not seem that I should fear their lives be taken.

When I arrive to church on Sunday morning and stand to worship the Lord in song – it does not seem that I should fear our lives be taken.

When we go to the movies or to the mall – it does not seem that I should fear our lives be taken.

When we are walking the streets or playing at a park – it does not seem that I should fear our lives be taken.

But that fear is slowly starting to creep in. As I watch the news unfold, I can feel it bubbling slowly in my pit.

What if?

Photo credit: BBC

Yes, what if?

And then I realize – if I live my life with this ‘what if’ ruling my thoughts then I will become paralyzed. This fear will rob me of joy. This fear will keep me from living the life God intends me to live.

This fear has the potential to seep into my children’s lives if I am not careful.

The reality is, we all have a moment when we will take our final breath. It is inevitable. I don’t know when or how that moment will arrive for myself, for my family, for my friends. I don’t know. Only God knows and I cannot be afraid of the ‘what if.’

If I am letting fear control my thoughts and my actions, then these few people who have committed these horrendous acts have won.

I will not let them win.

I will not let the enemy win.

I know the battle is so much bigger than what we see.

I believe the words of the Bible to be true and I believe that every battle that takes place is really a battle in the spiritual realm.

Ephesians 6:12 states, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

I believe in good and I believe in evil.

Even in the midst of these tragedies, God is at work and I will not lose faith. I will not lose faith in God’s goodness.

I will not be afraid.

My heart breaks for all of the people who have lost loved ones to these senseless, horrible, cowardice acts.

I pray for the families and friends of the victims whose lives have been forever impacted.

I pray for the lawmakers – that in the face of these tragedies they will see where change needs to be enacted and that they will be brave enough to make the necessary changes.

I pray for God’s protection over our country.

I pray that fear will not take root in our hearts.

I pray that this senseless killing will stop.

I pray it will stop now.

I sat down to write a cookie recipe and I couldn’t do it, so I typed this instead. It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t what I intended to write, but it’s from my heart.

And really, if I think about it – that’s the best way for me to write anyways.

 

 

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Summer’s End: A Season of Change

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when I look at the calendar and realize summer is dwindling down to the final days.

The countdown to back-to-school has begun and with it comes the inevitable question, “Where has the summer gone?”

The start of summer is filled with optimism and promise as the schedule clears and makes room for long days of lounging by the pool side, gathering with friends, family vacations and late nights roasting marshmallows by the fire (in an idyllic Norman Rockwell meets Pleasantville type summer, of course.)

In the beginning, there is excitement in the air and the feeling that summer will last forever.

And then, BAM! It pulls a Kaiser Soze and disappears. Just like that. Poof. It’s gone.

And I’m bummed.

Even though it can be chaotic, even though the kids fight, even though we are without a daily schedule, even though the days can be a little crazy with people sleeping in and breakfast being served at 10am, even though it’s far from the picture perfect Norman Rockwell world – I love it. I love the crazy.

I love the sounds of their voices and their feet pounding upstairs. I love the music they play and the dances they make up. I love the sound of my children playing with the neighborhood kids and the constant stream of people coming and going, in and out of the house like a never-ending parade, but instead of throwing candy – the parade scatters sand and other outdoor debris leaving a trail in their wake.

Ok, I don’t always love the fighting. I take that part back. That part can be annoying. And the screeching of “MOM!” followed by the inevitable asking for something – that part can also be annoying. And the trail of sand throughout the house from the sandbox that makes me feel like I must be living on an exotic beach somewhere (without any of the benefits of living on an exotic beach other than the trail of sand) that part can be pretty annoying, too.

The more I think about it, maybe the reason I love summer so much is because it’s a concentrated time when we’re all together, but it does have an end. Maybe the chaos is great because I know a schedule is on the horizon. Maybe summer wouldn’t be so awesome if it really did stretch on forever.

Maybe instead of being bummed, I should just be grateful.

Grateful that we have had these fun lazy days of summer and thankful that we are about to return to some semblance of normal as the daily routine makes its way back into our lives.

To everything there is a season and maybe what makes summer so amazing is that it is a season (literally.) It can be anticipated, enjoyed and then let go – with the understanding that it will be back again in all of it’s glory.

This year, summer’s end feels a little different for me and my family. The end of summer is more than just the end of a season we love. It also marks the end of our time in Indiana – the state where we have lived our entire lives.

As we are about to pack up our home and move five hours away, I really have no idea what our new normal will be.

Usually at this point in the summer, I have received the School Pak (I refused to shop for supplies after our oldest child’s kindergarten year, but that’s a whole other story).

Usually at this point in the summer, we have opened the boxes and labeled everything in anticipation for the upcoming year.

Usually at this point in the summer, the back-to-school clothes shopping has begun.

Usually at this point in the summer, the dates for the ice cream socials and meet-the-teacher nights are on the calendar.

Usually at this point in the summer, there is a buzz and excitement in the house as the kids eagerly await their postcards notifying them of who their teachers will be.

I know how the end of summer goes here. I know what to expect. I know what’s coming next.

But the end of this summer isn’t usual.

To everything there is a season. I am learning to appreciate and thank God for the gifts each season brings. I am learning that life is a constant ebb and flow. Things are always changing. I am learning how to not hold on too tightly. I am learning how to let go and embrace this change.

Sometimes things can’t be buttoned up and put together. Some seasons won’t allow it.

I may not know what it looks like to live in Tennessee, but I have to trust it will be good.

Back-to-school is a little different for us this year and that’s okay. We will figure it out when we get there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Was I Thinking?

A few weeks ago, I signed up to help tend the courtyard at my daughter’s school. Through an inspiring class project called fluvoxamine 50 mg reviews Seeds of Change, my daughter’s triad transformed a sad looking courtyard into something beautiful and magnificient.

With the guidance and encouragement of their teachers, the children saw something that needed fixed, came up with a plan and then took the necessary steps to turn their vision into a reality.

They raised money. They met with school officials. They met with landscapers. They put their hands in the ground and helped plant flowers. They got dirty.

And they did it. The transformation was remarkable.

In order for it to remain this way and flourish over the hot, summer weeks – families were encouraged to sign up for one week to help tend the courtyard.

This was our week.

Last week, as I was looking at my calendar, I thought – “What in the world was I thinking?”

I couldn’t believe I had signed up for this week.

What. Was. I. Thinking?

I obviously was having a major brain malfunction when I signed up for this week.

This week is the last week before our house goes on the market. This week my husband is out of town all week. This week is the week I need to finish decluttering and painting and organizing.

And we are preparing to go out of town.

I know you aren’t supposed to say that in a public forum for fear that someone is going to come into your house, but I’m saying it regardless. We are going out of town. And I need to pack. And packing for an entire family takes a lot of time.

Did I mention our house goes on the market next week? Did I mention my husband is out of town ALL WEEK?

What. Was. I. Thinking?

Regardless of what I was thinking – we were doing this.

We arrived on Monday and I told the kids this would take around 20 minutes. Water. Pull a couple of weeds. Finished.

In and out.

That was the plan. Until we actually saw the courtyard. The beautiful courtyard was in a sad state of dehydration and was slowly being overtaken by a colony of weeds.

20 minutes was a pipe dream and I was feeling annoyed. Very annoyed.

But what was I going to do? Complain about it? Be a whiny baby? No. Not an option. I was trying to teach my kids the importance of volunteering with a joyful heart. My grumpster, harried, undesirable attitude could not surface.

I forced a smile and got to work.

And as my hands repeatedly went into the dirt pulling up weed after weed and as I looked around and saw my children tending to the plants and the flowers and running through the sprinkler, something in my heart began to change.

A feeling of joy began to bubble up. I was removed from my problems and my stress and my long list of this weeks to-dos.

With my hands in the dirt, my heart changed and the smile I had plastered on in an attempt to mask my true emotions changed into a genuine smile of gratitude.

For the rest of the week, the highlight of my day became tending the courtyard with my children. It was a reprieve from the daily grind. It felt good to be caring for nature and to take part in this beautiful project the kids had worked so hard on all year long.

It was a wonderful reminder that oftentimes the best medicine for my soul is to remove the focus from me and my issues and my problems and to turn it to something bigger, something better.

Serving with my children this week brought my family joy. Hopefully, as this courtyard flourishes, it will continue to bring joy to all who stop in to enjoy the flowers, have a meal at the picnic tables, or read a book under the shade of a tree.

It was medicine for my soul. I don’t know what I was thinking when I signed up for this week, but it worked out in the end. Better than I ever could have imagined.

God’s timing is amazing. It is perfect. He is good. This was just what I needed.

My soul, my heart, my mind really, really needed this. This was a rough week. I needed this – way more than that courtyard needed me.

I thought I was going to serve and instead – with each weed that was pulled, with each flower that was deadheaded, with each plant and flower that was watered and each time I looked up and saw my children participating in the care of this courtyard – my spirit was ministered to.

Isn’t it funny how that happens?

Thank you God that when I’m not thinking, when I don’t know what is best – You are and You do. Thank you that oftentimes medicine for the soul comes from the most unlikely places. In the most unlikely times. 

 

*click on this link to view the Seeds of Change Courtyard Dedication video and see all that went into creating this lovely courtyard – courtesy of the Crist, Franz and Robison triad (the best triad ever!)

 

 

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Life Lessons from House Staging

Part of getting ready to put our house on the market is staging it for buyers. We were told to remove anything personal, make rooms and closets look spacious and take away any reminder of work.

In other words – hide the trash cans, remove the paper towels from the countertop, move the laundry detergent out of sight and on and on.

This is what they do in model homes. They want people to feel like the house is a place where you kick off your shoes and put your feet up. A place where work is minimal, at best.

Our closets are very small, so we were told to remove about half of the stuff. This would give the illusion that they are bigger.

It feels a little like I’m selling a lie. We do have small closets! Of course we work here! There are dishes to do, clothes to wash and carpets to vacuum. We are a family of six and we live here – and living gets messy and those messes need picked up. Just because I hide stuff doesn’t make that go away.

But it works. They do this in model homes because, on some subconscious level, it works.

But here is reality – you can remove the items and make people feel like the house comes with less work and less stress, but that doesn’t make it true.

You will still bring your stuff and your work and your life and your stress with you from your old space into your new space – even if you don’t see a single trash can in the house when you walk through. It still exists.

I am learning some valuable lessons from the house staging process.

Lesson #1 – Like I said before…..Just because I hide stuff doesn’t make that go away.

Like with the move.

Maybe if I don’t talk about the move…..maybe if I don’t think about the move…..maybe if I avoid it all together……maybe if I do everything physically necessary for the move without really dealing with the emotion of it……maybe if I just have a glass of wine tonight to turn off my mind…..

I have been trying really hard to focus on the positives of the move and not be sad about leaving yet. I will have time to be sad about being gone once I am actually there. Why be sad now? I’m still here after all.

But sometimes, I wonder if I am just stuffing it down somewhere deep?

Yesterday, I looked at my calendar and realized how little time I really have left in our home, in our community, with our friends who have become like family. I thought of all of the people I want to hang out with and all the things I still want to do here in Indy and realized I have run out of time to do all of those things.

In an attempt to be positive, I reminded myself I can always come back and visit. Which is true, but it isn’t the same.

I really can’t imagine being gone. It all feels so surreal. I try not to think about it. I’m getting my house ready to put on the market, but it still doesn’t feel real.

But it is real. Even if I don’t talk about it. Even if I don’t think about it. Even if I avoid it.

Just because I hide stuff doesn’t make that go away. 

But, I need to continue to think of the positives. For my children, for my husband and for myself. I know God has a plan in this and I trust in that plan. I may not be able to imagine my future there, but just 8 years ago before I moved from our home that I loved in Irvington into my home I love so much now – I couldn’t imagine my future here either.

I’m not sure if it’s healthy to try not to be sad right now? I’m not sure if that’s just avoidance?Maybe it’s just like me putting the paper towels under the counter so that it all seems less complicated than it is. Maybe it’s less work to focus on the physical aspect of moving and not the emotional.

I really don’t know how to deal with all of this. I don’t know how to say goodbye. Is there some type of protocol?

I need a manual on how to do this.

What I do know is this – I don’t want to spend my last weeks here sad, so I think I will just enjoy each day as it comes. I will take each good bye as it comes. I will try not to dwell on what’s on the horizon and not get lost in the thought of moving, but at the same time not pretend like it isn’t happening – because that’s not healthy either.

But how do I do that? Will someone please write a manual.

Some moments will be sad. Some moments will be happy. Some days will feel like a regular day in our home and others will feel like a sad reminder of our departure.

I think I just need to take each day, each moment as it arrives. That has been the nudge I have been getting from God time and time again for the past few years. Be in the moment. Take each moment as it arrives. Tomorrow is not promised. What you have is today.

I need to keep breathing that thought in and breathing it out. Daily.

Lesson #2 – Less stuff really does bring more peace

Hiding trash cans and removing all signs of work isn’t realistic in a house that is actually being lived in, but I have come to appreciate the peace that comes with simplifying.

A year and a half ago I embarked on a 52 Donations project where I donated something (time, money or material objects) every week for a year. It was a wonderful, life-changing project.

During that time, I simplified our home and got rid of a lot of clutter (or so I thought.) Getting the house ready to move has taken that to a whole new level. I have had to get rid of so much more and it feels good. Really. Really. Good.

I don’t think we were meant to live with so much.

When I walk into a room and there is more open space, I seem to breathe a little better. When drawers and closets and cupboards aren’t overflowing – it just feels good. It feels right.

Honestly, why in the world do I need multiple can openers? Or 20 coffee mugs?

I don’t. I don’t need that much.

Somebody else could probably really use some of my excess and getting rid of the clutter has felt wonderful and necessary and freeing.

I do hope when we move we can continue to keep things decluttered and organized, but…..

Lesson #3 – As it has been said before, “No matter where you go, there you are.” 

When I think of moving, I do get excited about the idea of simplifying our lives. Not just the clutter, but also our schedules. I do look forward to the idea of more time together as a family. I know there are things to look forward intertwined with the sadness of leaving.

But to keep our home and our schedules decluttered will take intentionality. If we aren’t intentional about making changes, we will slowly end up exactly where we are now.

We will still take our habits with us. A new house in a new place doesn’t make us new people. We are still us, in a new location.

If we want to make life changes, we will need to work to make those changes – just like we would have to work to make those changes here and now.

 Lesson #4 – Take nothing for granted.

We have limited time left in the home we love, with our friends and neighbors we love and I don’t want to take a second of the time we have left here for granted.

We have been blessed beyond measure to live in such a wonderful, loving community. I am grateful for every second we have had here. For every memory we have made. For every friendship formed.

I may not know how to deal with the move, but I do know that I am blessed. Very blessed to have experienced all of the kindness, love and depth of relationships my family and I have experienced during our time here in Indianapolis.

I do not take that for granted.

Thank you, God. Thank you.

 

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My Near Death Sandwich: The Final Chapter

On our way to Hawaii, I had moments when I honestly wasn’t sure what would happen. I knew there was such a thing as too hot and I knew we did not have air. I did not know how hot our plane would become and I also knew we were over the ocean with nowhere safe to land. All I could do was pray.

In the hours leading up to our flight home from Hawaii, I honestly wasn’t sure what would happen. I knew I was very sick and was becoming dehydrated. I was not in the comfort of my home and I didn’t know if I would be able to tolerate the plane ride. All I could do was pray.

As you know, because I am sitting here typing this, I made it home safely from Hawaii. I drank a ton of (yes, you guessed it) Gatorade and I slept a lot. Eventually the pain subsided. Patrick finished my packing because he is a wonderful, sweet man and I rested until just moments before we had to leave for the airport.

Thankfully, because we were taking the red-eye home, I had time to start feeling better before take-off. It’s funny how that happens. When we initially booked our flight, I wasn’t sure about taking a red-eye. Now, I was incredibly grateful we were.

I didn’t feel the best on the flight, but I made it. Thanks to lots of prayers and more Gatorade than I had ever consumed before, I made it.

I had the most remarkable time with my husband in Maui –

and this remarkable time was sandwiched between two of the more nerve-racking days in my life.

Two nerve-racking, scary, bunch my stomach in knots and cover me in sweat days. These days both had the same end result – gratitude. 

Immense gratitude. The kind of gratitude that blankets your insides and makes you stop and breathe deep breaths and just be present with all of the thankfulness. That kind of all-consuming gratitude.

Gratitude to be on vacation.

Gratitude to have made it to my next destination.

Gratitude to have my feet on the ground.

Gratitude to be feeling well.

Gratitude to be home with my children.

Gratitude to be alive.

Gratitude.

Deep.

Deep.

Gratitude.

Sometimes, to fully experience gratitude you have to be taken to a place of discomfort. A place of unknown. A place of pain.

People wonder why bad things happen to good people. I know they aren’t talking about scary plane rides and food poisoning, but maybe sometimes you have to experience the bad to recognize all of the beauty in the good.

Maybe those moments that aren’t so great, those moments that drop us to our knees, those moments that have us crying out “why?!” as tears stream down our faces, those moments when we can’t imagine taking another breath because we are so tired and weighed down by the heaviness of life, those moments when we feel alone or scared or weary, those moments when we aren’t sure what our future holds, maybe those moments are the moments that draw us closer to God. Maybe they don’t always feel that way in the moment, but maybe that is the end result.

I know that was my end result.

Gratitude. 

Deep. 

Deep. 

Gratitude.

 

 

 

 

 

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