Thursday, October 30, 2014

Waiting

Wow, it sure has been a while. As everyone does, I guess I've just had a lot going on! I'm here with a cup of coffee now, though, so won't you sit down and join me?

Over the summer, a friend of mine and I took my girls to a One Direction concert in Philadelphia. (No, we don't live in Philadelphia. My sister does, though, so we at least had a place to stay.) We left after work on a Wednesday (arriving very late), went to the concert on Thursday and then drove home on Friday. Then? I had a 40th birthday part for my husband on Saturday. That was a busy week.

Anyway, the concert. It seemed like it was going to be a nice night at this outdoor venue. Maybe cool, but nice. After the opening act, my older daughter went to the bathroom. The younger one mentioned she was a little cold, so I started to hand her my jacket - which is when the heavens opened up and gallons and gallons and gallons of water came down. Gallons. We were in the middle of a row, toward the the top of the section. There was no point in trying to get up and out; there were people everywhere! Finally, we were told we had to leave. We saw my older daughter near the concessions. She said that she saw people running and screaming as she came out of the bathroom and was terrified that something awful was happening. Poor thing.

Looking pretty before the rain

Drowned rats after the rain

(I'm really taking a long time to get to the point of this post. But, I feel like I had to tell you that it rained. And we got really wet. And that my friend drove all the way to Philadelphia with me to see a One Direction concert and got poured on. That's love.)

Then, just as quickly as it started, it stopped. The sky cleared and thousands of tweens and teens started screaming and getting ready. The adults seemed to be trying to figure out how to sit in wet jeans and still be comfortable. (Fun fact: my friend took her jeans off and road back to my sister's house pantless. I thought I should probably keep mine on in case we got pulled over, as I was driving. She's kind of smart, though, because wet jeans are. gross.  But then we stopped at a store for snacks and she couldn't come in because she couldn't get her wet jeans back on.)

The girls really did seem to enjoy the concert. There were some tears. There were lots of cell phone pictures. There was lots of dancing. At some point I had the brilliant idea to Google the set list so we knew how much longer we had to be there. It definitely made it easier to count down when we knew what to expect.

Note the rubber One Direction bracelets. Oh brother.
Just before the encore, I decided to text my sister to give her an idea of when to expect us back at the house. You know how your phone will give you suggested words because it thinks it knows what you're going to say? Well, I typed the word, "Waiting." Then, it suggested, "for" and I clicked on it. Then, it suggested, "the." See where this is going? I sure thought I did. I mean, I wanted to say that I we were, "Waiting for the encore." But, the next word my phone had in mind was, "Lord." Apparently my Galaxy S4 believes that, while at a One Direction concert, I was actively waiting for Jesus.

I have to say that we had a rather lengthy discussion as to how Jesus would've behaved if he had chosen that night to come back. Would he want them to finish their set? Does he like One Direction? It's so hard to say.

Shouldn't we all be actively waiting all of the time? Shouldn't we be living our lives as if it could be right now, at this minute? Shouldn't we be loving God and loving our neighbor NOW?  Maybe he'll come back during a concert. Or, while I'm doing dishes. (That would be good!) Or, when we're making cookies for a shut-in neighbor. But, let's all live intentionally and actively while we're waiting so we're ready when he does.

Be kind, everyone!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

How I Want to Be Remembered

Not too long ago I was thinking about how I want to be remembered. I'm not entirely sure how I got onto this subject in my head, but there it was. To be honest, I wasn't necessarily thinking about death. I mean, that was part of it, but I also wonder how my kids will remember me when they're older and have their own lives/homes/families. I'm definitely hoping that the times I lost my temper or was unnecessarily short will be overshadowed by thoughts of love. I suppose it's unrealistic to hope they won't remember the anger at all.

While I was mulling this over, I happened to receive an email with this blog entry at Chasing Blue Skies. It was like she knew what I was thinking! I really wanted to call her and talk to her and tell her my thoughts...except I don't know her and that would be strange. But, she really did get me thinking.

I initially thought I wanted to be remembered as funny and kind. (My husband often teases me and says that I'm the funniest person I know. I think I kind of am.) I like to joke around and I certainly like to be liked. One of the ways to ensure people like you is to be kind, right? Being kind makes me feel good and certainly makes the recipient of the kindness feel good. So, this can't be a bad thing. Except...I wonder if it is. Really, why am I being kind? Is it only to be liked? I don't think so. But...maybe.

The motto of the church my family attends is, "Love God, Love Your Neighbor, Nothing Else Matters." I like it. It reminds me that love is the most important thing, all of the time. Love everyone. (Note, that doesn't mean you won't ever be angry or hurt or anything like that. There are sermons and sermons and sermons about that.) If all of our actions are driven by love - love of God - then I believe we will be kind. But, if my kindness is driven by wanting to remembered as being kind...well then I've missed the mark. Being kind for the sake of being remembered as kind will also make me remembered as someone a little adrift. Nice, but no substance.

If I show love to my friend by making a dinner for her family while her father is sick, that's certainly kind. If I show kindness by holding the door for the man holding all of the grocery bags, that's a good deed. If I hold my daughter after her heart is broken or listen to my son talk, again, about the great play he made in a video game, I'm showing patience. Patience, love...and parts of kindness.

I think, ultimately, Kristen is right. I want to be remembered as someone who deposited Christ's love into someone else every day. Sometimes that is kindness. Sometimes it's structure and discipline. Sometimes it's laughter. (I think it's very often food.) If I'm relying on God to help me show kindness, then I can't go wrong. If I'm relying on myself to just be kind, then it may not work. I know that I can't rely only on myself to be patient; I was not blessed with much of that. I know, though, that I can show kindness via patience by relying on God.

I'll keep trying to be kind through love, knowing that it's always a work in progress.

How do you want to be remembered?




Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer time is done so here's a list of fall favorites

This is it! Labor Day has arrived and the kids go back to school tomorrow. I'm taking the girls shopping   for some last minute things today and then - that's it! I'm actually pretty glad that we're approaching school because that means cooler weather is finally around the corner. I don't love to be hot. I only like to sweat if I'm working out. I will say that I don't necessarily love letting go of the ease of summer and it's lack of schedule. But, we can't stop the passage of time! So, since I'm sure you're dying to know what I'm looking forward to this fall, here's a list:

1. Sunday School and Confirmation - I probably had the most enjoyable year ever teaching Sunday School last year and am lucky enough to have the same class again this year (with the addition of one more age). My younger daughter is in that class and I'm excited to have her again. I also lead my older daughter's Confirmation small group and had so much fun getting to know the girls last year. I think this coming year is going to be even better!

2. My birthday - I turn 40 this year! I'm a combination of excited and nostalgic about this. I can't believe time has gone so quickly, but I also know that I'm the best "me" I've ever been right now. I'm ready for another decade!

3. Jeans and sweatshirts - I don't think this needs any explanation

4. Turkey Trot - I don't love Thanksgiving (at least, I don't love the meal itself - I do love being thankful with family and friends), but I love getting together with 20,000 of my closest friends here in Buffalo and running 5 miles in the freezing cold. This year younger daughter is doing it with me and I can't wait!

5. CHRISTMAS MUSIC - Yes, I realize I'm talking about fall right now. But, I tend to listen to Christmas music all year long. It makes me happy. But, I bring it on full force in October and make my whole family listen starting November 1. (This is not my husband's favorite thing about me.)

6. Crockpot food - Fall food gets so thick and yummy. Chili and pasta and all kinds of hot stuff. I'm looking forward to the watermelon salad I'm having for lunch today, but I definitely can't wait for cold-weather food.

7. Blankets - Oh, how I love to curl up under a blanket and read a book with a cup of coffee in hand!

8. Crunchy leaves and crisp air - Taking walks and hearing the crunch of leaves under my feet is one of my favorite sounds. The colors are so pretty and the air smells so...crisp - like the earth is cleaning up before its long sleep.

9. Celebrations - My husband's birthday is in August, which starts months of celebration. My father is also in August, then my mom is September, me and the boy are October and then it's full-on holiday season in November and December.

10. Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin bread - So, so delicious. I'm not as big a fan of the all-things-pumpkin that seems to have taken over our country, but I do love me some salty pumpkin seeds. And, who doesn't love pumpkin bread with coffee?

I guess I'll have to keep thinking of this list as I try to stay as cool as possible. I hope you have great plans for Labor Day - tell me about them!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Oh the deicions I make

Several months ago, I did a half-marathon (my third) without training. It wasn't my brightest move and I finished in tears. My middle one met me right toward the end and told me she wanted me to run to the finish line and I tearfully told her that I couldn't. So, she told me I at least to run across the finish line. In hindsight, I think my inability to hold it together upon seeing her in the crowd may have freaked her out a little bit.

Fast forward to now and I have myself getting ready for a full marathon in less than a month. A MONTH, PEOPLE! Am I ready, you ask? No. I'm not close to being ready. But, it's on my list and I already have plans and my friend is coming all the way from Michigan to keep me company while I crawl my way through it. I will need to keep my mind focused on finishing so I can cross it off just before my 40th birthday.

While I'm pretty sure that I won't do a full marathon again after this, and I'm pretty sure that people will think I'm insane for doing it (without being ready) in the first place, I'm excited to be thinking about it at all. There are people all over the world who don't have this luxury, whether due to finances, physical ability, or any other myriad of reasons. I guess I don't necessarily have the finances to sign up for races, but I'm certainly in the top percent of wealth in the world.

I talked to a man at my office the other day and told him that he may need to meet me in the parking lot in the days following the race with a cart so he can wheel me to my desk. I imagine that I'm going to be pretty sore and uncomfortable - especially with my lack of proper training. But, I'm looking forward to telling him I did it!

It seems pretty selfish to pray for strength and courage and all of that to do something that I'm doing incorrectly to begin with. But, I'd certainly appreciate any prayers you have to spare, anyway. I'll need to pray and I'll need to rely on Philippians 4:13 and I'll need to think about the 26.2 sticker to put on the back of my car. I know I can dig deep and do this. We can do hard things - it's how we're made.

What hard and crazy thing are you putting off? Let's make a plan so you can just do it!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

There is a season

So it appears I took the summer off! Well, the summer in terms of time-my-kids-aren't-in-school. I believe summer proper goes through the better part of September. This little blog appeared in my head every now and then, but for the most part I didn't think about it. I thought about ball games, family meals, trips, concerts, birthday parties (husband turned 40!) and fun. Even though I've heard many-a-complaint about the "cooler" summer we've had, I have no complaints at all. Fun - and plenty of heat - has been had by all.

We're gearing up for school, though, and fall. I'm attending Sunday School teacher and Confirmation group leader meetings. There are school supply lists that won't supply themselves. I have two children attending new schools this year and they require some special attention. And? This blog. I can't get it out of my head.

I'm reading A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman. It talks about finding out what you're supposed to be doing with your life; something I struggle with. A lot. So, I've been making lists and thinking about what really makes me feel alive. Again and again I think about helping others. By sponsoring. By loving. By teaching. By listening. By writing. I don't think of myself as a writer, per se. But, I do think about the ability to reach other women. You know how I can do that? Keep writing here. Maybe only 2 people are reading it. Maybe 1. If that 1 person hears something she's been needing to hear? I've done my job.

The kids and I try to read 30 minutes each school night before bed. (It's a struggle for 2 of them, but a favorite for the other 1.) I love to read. I treasure that time with the kids, answering questions about words and listening to plot discussions. It seems as though I could probably add some time for this blog in there, too. Summer was my season for family and fun, but there is a season for all things. I think I'm heading to a season of love. Spreading love, that is.

So, let's get together here for coffee, shall we? Talk about how we can love and encourage one another. I'll be working out the frequency soon - probably as I go. I can't wait to be here, though!


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Prayer and pretzels

We picked the kids up from camp yesterday. They were full of laughter and stories and song and God's word. They talked about the 'affirmations' they received from their counselors and were all so happy. They also loved the food, which is always an interesting part of camp that many others don't remember from their childhood. All three told us their favorite meals (and their second and third favorites!), breaking down by meal-type in some cases. It was all pretty funny.

I had warned them before they left for camp that we were in a somewhat lean time. We had to buy a car a couple of months ago, which is always a big expense. Camp isn't cheap. And, of course, there are the other life things always that pop up. Anyway, they've arrived home to a particularly rough week and it makes me feel guilty. I know that they won't be talking about this week's meals with even close to the excitement over the camp food. I'm struggling with trusting Jesus with my worries. I'm struggling that provision won't come. I'm just...struggling.

Knowing that I was heading into dangerous territory, I made sure to make it to church today. I knew I'd need to hear the message. So, while the rest of the house caught up on lost sleep, I woke up and went to pray with anyone else who decided to get up and head to church, too. I laughed out loud when I saw the verse on the cover of the bulletin: Come to me, all you that are weary, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:38). Yep! This was a message I needed this morning.

I sat with some friends I don't see all that often and confided my worries. I felt better. The pastor talked about resting in Jesus and I felt better. I prayed the service prayers and some on my own and I felt better. My hear was considerably lighter on the way home.

It occurred to me that I had the stuff on hand to make hot pretzels, which my family loves. What a great snack for this afternoon between ball games! No, I may no be able to buy them something from the snack stand. No, we may not be going out for ice cream or eating anything even remotely fun for lunch. But, homemade pretzels? YES! I also have iced coffee in the fridge, which I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that my kids like. Iced coffee, pretzels and games. I'd say making do isn't so bad! 



I tired to shape them better, it just didn't work.


Those pretzels may not have started out looking like much more than a doughy mess. But, in the end, they're just what we needed.  Prayer and pretzels...they've made for a great Sunday!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

And when I worry

School is finally done! Here in WNY, we tend to go for too long. Elementary school had a half-day this morning and finally let them free. Middle school finished on Tuesday. You can barely tell we slowed down, though, with baseball/softball filling the time quite nicely. And there's that party I agreed to (5 extra soon-to-be-high-school-freshman overnight!) and out-of-town guests on Saturday and the kids leaving for camp on Sunday. I'm thinking it will be a little bit before I feel the relief of the summer schedule.

My kids are feeling better than me. They aren't feeling the pressure of our schedule the same way. I'm glad for that, of course, as they shouldn't worry. They shouldn't think of a party as something to stress over. Unfortunately they are feeling some pressure and sadness, though...and that makes me feel even worse.

The older girl got some bad news recently. She had interviewed for a spot on the executive committee of student council and wasn't given a spot. We're so proud of her for trying, as it's way out of her comfort zone to do something like that. I struggle to with the words to reassure her, though, and my heart breaks remembering the sting of rejection at that age.

Baseball is my son's greatest love. His tournament team can bring him stress, though, which he has trouble dealing with. I think I had a break through with him the other day; fingers crossed that he remembers our talk next time worry overcomes him. He puts so much pressure on himself, that is compounded by coaching expectations.

These are just a couple of examples. I'm sure they're similar to the kinds of things you encounter in your life or with your children. I certainly don't think our worries are unique. Money, jobs, house stuff - it's all overwhelming.

I'm reading The Book of Ruth with She Reads Truth. It's a short book, but it's a great reminder of God's plan for all of us. There will be sadness - sometimes overwhelming; there will be loss and heartache and stress and worry. But, there will also be redemption and hope - grace and mercy! He is always there, even when the going looks rough. This study has been lifesaver during a rough time here.  I can hold on to hope that even now, even in worry, there is hope for renewal.

I hope that in my journey to remembering these things that I'm conveying them to my kids, too. Do they know that I'm praying for the same types of things I remind them to pray for? Do they see that I'm leaning on Him to get through the tough times? Do they know that we don't have to worry when we have Him? I certainly hope so. I'd like all of us to remember this summer with the sounds of laughter, balls being hit, cheers in the stands, campfires, friends, family, prayers and grace. All of that beats worry every day of the week, right?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A calling

Last Christmas, my husband gave me a new bible. He actually spent a lot of time giving me a rather clever set of gifts each of the 12 days leading up to Christmas. While I enjoyed the entire gift, I really treasure the bible. Almost every morning since that December day, I sit down with my coffee and my dogs and pink bible (I do love me some pink) and read. It's one of my most favorite ways to spend quiet time.

At some point during the last 6 or 8 months, I started reading books by Kristen Welch, LisaJo Baker, Angie Smith, Ann VosKamp, Melanie Shankle and Beth Moore. (I think there were more, but you get the gist.) My daughter and I also went to Belize (see recap 1, 2 and 3). I started this blog. I interviewed for a job in a ministry position (don't worry coworkers - I was planning to do it part time along with my current job!). Something was definitely happening.

Now, you'd think that I could figure this out a little better, but I can be a bit slow sometimes. I've been doing bible studies from here and have really loved them. I have felt that I was waiting for something and was just kind of biding my time. I've talked to my friends and have just, you know...lived my life. Then, this morning, I was reading my latest bible study from the book of Ruth. I went back a week or so to read a blog entry from Kayla Aimee because I remembered her talking about Ruth and I wanted to read it again. And somehow, in this exchange, I heard the message loud and clear: use your blog; write about Jesus.

So, that's not what I was expecting. To be honest, I'm a little scared. A LOT scared. I know that people in my circle(s) don't necessarily want to read this. I know it will scare people away. I think it could make people not want to be my friend. (Although, really - that's foolish. I'm super fun.) But, I'm saying yes. Yes to coming here with a message of grace and love. Yes to putting myself out here. Yes to wherever this leads.

I'm not sure what this means. But, I'm hoping you'll join me sometimes! Pour some coffee, grab a quilt and let's chat!



Thursday, June 12, 2014

The stuff that matters

It's kind of like being content, right? Finding the stuff that matters? I try hard every single day to teach my kids that it's love that counts, not touch screens; kindness, not headphones. (Of course, I'm a bit of a gadget geek and that makes it hard to teach this lesson. But, I do try.)

I shared this picture of me and my grandmother on Instagram and Facebook. I really don't like to post the same things on all places, but maybe this is what really matters? Hanging out with your 89 year old grandmother?

Selfie with MomMom - what am I looking at?
I'm sitting here on the couch, listening to the rain come and go. The boy was supposed to have a baseball game, but it got called after the men finally acknowledged that it wasn't letting up. I got home and saw on Facebook that there is a man with a gun in a large wooded area the next town over - where we have friends and where we worship. It's frightening. There are fights erupting in the comments of the news story about guns and rights and laws and I just keep thinking there just isn't enough kindness.

My 12 year old is next to me and I asked if she has one of the ask.me sites (I'm a little lost on the actual name) where people can ask anonymous questions. (She doesn't.) I told her I don't like them because people can be mean on them. Her response was that people can be mean anywhere. Right.

School is ending and the kids are at the end of their ropes, too. They're tense and tired and maybe done with the deadlines and permission slips, too. They're testy with each other and roll their eyes at my suggestions of showing love to one another. (I may have threatened to make them sit in a row on the couch, holding hands and smiling for an hour.)

I sure hope that what we end up teaching our kids is that kindness matters. I want to be known as someone who was kind. (And funny. I do like to be funny.) I personally think that the stuff that matters always starts with kindness.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

These last two months

May and June are always hard. Fun, but hard. The kids have end - of - year concerts, parties,  field trips, etc. There are permission slips and requests for food and rides to coordinate. Throw in baseball, softball and art lessons (this year we also included a weekend of out - of - town guests and a weekend away) and I'm about done in. And oh, I decided to begin marathon training.

We can all feel how close we are to summer. The weather is warmer, the days are longer and the air smells sweet. (I'm actually allergic to that sweet and floral smell! Even in my itchiness, though, I recognize its goodness.) The kids enjoy every moment outside they can get. We crave time in that summer air.

We just have a few more weeks, which include exams, and the school year is over. House ball schedules end at the same time. Before I know it, the kids will be at camp for a week and I may actually have time to clean the house. But you know what? I bet I miss it.

For all of the stress. For all all of the worry over rides. For all of the needing to ask for help. For all of the unwashed dishes. For all of it...it's worth it. It's true that there is a season for everything. When our kids are tweens and teens and we are balancing our lives on a tightrope (or whatever season you're in), it all passes. There is an end and beginning to all.

July will bring less structure. We'll have tournament weekends, but lazy week days. The kids will be asking for friends and theme parks and ice cream. It will be a lovely in-between. (August has less ball, but some pretty fun celebrations this year!)

I just keep remembering that these days pass. The stress never stays. And my (current) favorite verse (mentioned the other day): In Him all things hold together.  He's got this, so we don't always have to.

How do you get through your busy seasons?

Monday, June 9, 2014

On being content

It's funny how things can be on our minds and then we'll notice a theme popping up all over the place...as if the universe is confirming our thoughts. Or, and this is where I land on things, it's how God sometimes tells me that I'm right. Or wrong. Lately? I've been rather discontent.

I will totally admit that May and June are insane months for us. (That's a post for another time.) I tend to get spread too thin, which is when doubting thoughts have a tendency to sneak in. It's hard to be positive and happy and, well, content! There is too much going on and I can't slow down and I want things in my life that will make everything easier.

You know what would make things easier right now? A working dryer. And? A working dishwasher. Many times in the last few weeks I've thought that if we only had those two additional things, life would be so. much. easier. There are literally stacks of dishes that need to get done. Every time I think we're getting close, we're rushing through two more meals and we're right back to where we've started. Laundry has to be hung the night before if there is any chance of requested items in time for work or school. (I don't really allow the kids to request certain clothes, so I totally admit this is all me.)

The thing is, those things would probably make things easier. They were invented for a reason, right? But, I'm not sure they'd solve the actual problem: me. By focusing on the things that are all wrong (dirty dishes, difficult laundry, a messy house, not enough money), I'm completely ignoring the things that are right (a roof over our heads, food, family, friends, dogs, clothes, cars, jobs...). The more I think about the frustrating stuff, the more annoyed I get.

I read this today and I felt like I was getting a slap on the face. (It was not Kristen's intent to call me out on my issues, seeing as she doesn't even know me. But, as I said in the beginning, I'm pretty sure that God was sending me a message.) You know what? I have more than most people can dream about. To be honest, my DOGS have a better life than many. I'm annoyed that I'm hand-washing my dishes and some people I met in Belize don't have the water, soap or sponge that I'm using, let alone the dishes I'm washing.

This isn't meant to sound like a sermon; I'm in no position to preach to anyone. (Well, except for myself.) It's more of a reminder. I'd rather be thankful for what I have than be miserable about what I don't have. Being thankful breeds happiness - it's a fact!

Colossians 1:17 says 'In Him all things hold together.' I don't need to look anywhere else to be content. My life will be what it needs to be. I don't need a dishwasher to be happy or content. Would my life be easier? Sure. But He never promised easy...He just said He'd always be there. He'll hold it all together as look as I keep looking up. So, tonight I will be thankful as I try to get through all of the dishes. I'll be thankful as I fold the laundry that was hung in the basement. And, I'll remember to be thankful as I drive to work in the morning.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

National Running Day

So, I'm still alive. May and June are seriously the busiest months of the year. The amount of end-of-school activities, on top with ball schedules, is enough to make me crazy. I kept putting of writing because I didn't want to just have one post and then more waiting. Looking back, it would've made more sense to just post when I could and move on. I can be a slow learner.

At any rate, the big news for me right now is that I'm planning to run a full marathon in September. I've completed three half-marathons, but never a full. (Yes, I may be insane.) The possible issue with this is that I had fallen off the running bandwagon for a few months. Also? I've gained about 20 pounds. I won't let this deter me, though. Nope. I began training on Monday, while at the same time trying to build up my fitness level again.

Today was day 2. I went for a 4 mile run/walk on my lunch. I prefer to go in the early morning, but had something else to do. I thought about going to the gym to use a treadmill, but it didn't seem too hot so I gave it a shot. I struggled a bit during mile 4, but nothing terrible. (That's probably good, since Saturday I bump up to 5!)

When I got home, I saw on various social networks that today is National Running Day. I'm glad to know that I was able to celebrate such a wonderful occasion.

Any of you runners? Prefer another type of exercise?


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Scenes from the last few days

When I stole candy from my daughter

Mother's Day with a great-grandmother!

I don't think this actually needs words

We're not good at selfies

With a squirrel

The dogs attack the cousins

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Random, in list form

1. Mother's Day was wonderful and very busy. We went to Sunday School and church, visited my parents, had lunch, went to Brett's baseball game and then went to my in-law's for dinner. The kids got to bed late and we were all a little tired this morning. Our full schedule is also why I missed my post yesterday. Forgive me?

2. We are at a painful point of trying to decide if we're going to put money into our "old" van or get a new (to us) car. The whole process makes me hate money and cars very much.

3. This is breaking my heart every. single. day. I can't really say much more, as she is sharing it more eloquently than I every could. Please pray for this family and for Ben.

4. I had a rather rough day today for stupid reasons. It took me until I was making dinner to get it together. It was definitely the kind of day that I needed to remember that I have much to be thankful for and should probably not be miserable.

5. My kids are so ready for summer. I just forced them to come inside and you'd think I asked them to electrocute themselves. Believe me, I want school to be over just as much as they do, but I was just about at the end of my rope during this particular exchange. Oh, kids....

6. Our schedule this week is maddening. There are meetings and games and classes filling every evening. I'm tired just thinking about it.

7. It's finally warm here. (Sorry Colorado! Seriously, snow?) I have announced to my family that NO ONE is allowed to complain about the heat (although it hasn't stopped them), as every single one complained about the cold and snow. You can't complain about it all. (I reserve all rights to complain about the heat, as I never once complain in winter.)

What's new with you?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day

So, it's not actually Mother's Day...but it's coming. There's often a lot of scrambling to make sure the mothers and mothers-in-law are happy. I've read a couple of blog posts about Mother's Day (here and here), which help to process expectations and the like. Sometimes it's hard to balance between wanting things for me and wanting things for others. David did ask me what I want and I said that I'd just like to have a nice weekend. Maybe we'll head to the gluten free bakery if we can fit it in around baseball games. We'll definitely have dinner with his parents and find time to visit with mine. But, I think I'd really like to just spend some time with my kids. I'd like them to know how loved they are. To that end, here are some short letters that I'd like to share with them...and I guess you.

Dear Oldest Daughter,
Oh my goodness, I can't believe I have a young girl approaching her mid-teens. You are such a beautiful girl, inside and out. You leave me in awe with your kindness and tenderness toward the little kids you encounter and I'm always so proud when I hear how polite and respectful you are to adults. I know how hard you work in school and hope you know that I recognize it. I know that studying doesn't come easy to you and yet you keep going back - that's a sign of great character!

I hope you know, too, that all of the emotions get easier. I can't promise that life will get easier (in fact, I can promise it won't!), but you'll find your way through it despite the awkwardness you feel now. You'll find the group of friends that can lift you up and love you through; friends that mix in with your siblings and love you more than you thought possible. Please remember - don't compare yourselves to anyone else. No one else is you...and no one can do your life just like you can.

Right now, I encourage you to keep praying and keep loving. Like we learn at church, Love God, Love Your Neighbor...Nothing Else Matters.

I love you, my little girl!


Dear Younger Daughter,
Here you are, "Bun Bun The Middle One." You never fail to make me laugh; a girl who knows exactly what I will find funny. You love to play games and snuggle and just spend time with me. I can't tell you how happy that makes me! You also try hard to keep the peace and balance between you and your siblings - such the peacemaker. Your fun and sparking personality is always a joy to be around.

I know that you like to rise to challenges and I hope that you'll always work for what you want. A job well-done is always worth the work! It's fun to watch you practice to improve the on the softball field and get so excited when you have a great report card to show. Just remember, when you fail to meet the bar you set...don't give up! You have an inner strength that you can rely on.

Just like your sister, I remind you to keep praying and keep loving. Love God, Love Your Neighbor...Nothing Else Matters.

I love you, baby girl!

Dear Son,
Oh, the baby! With your two older sisters and me, you certainly get your share of "mothering." I hope we're not spoiling you too much! You are so loving, though, that I think it's worth it. I love that you still love to sit close and hug me. Even though you're getting older and like to hang out with the guys, you're still willing to hang out and watch cooking shows with me.

You love to play baseball and that is something that I will never cease to enjoy watching you do. You get so excited and take it so seriously - it's contagious! You're learning to control your temper and frustrations and it's so much fun to watch. You're polite and loving and are such a wonderful young man. I look forward to seeing you learning to be a man of God.

Keep praying, keep going to church. Keep learning how to treat those around you. Love God, Love Your Neighbor...Nothing Else Matters.

I love you, baby!

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Draft

Father, son and a dog...watching the draft. I promise their eyes don't always glow
I met my husband 20 years ago this summer. He has watched the NFL draft ever year that I can remember.  I remember when it switched from an entire weekend affair to the extended thing it is now. I remember how disappointed he was that he couldn't spend a whole weekend watching men make team decisions. 

One year,  I decided to try and watch with him. He loved it so much that I couldn't help but try to learn about it. That year, they did a human interest story on one of the young men that was supposed to be among the first picks. This is how I ended up really liking Payton Manning. He was so impressive on that show - not only a great football player, but volunteered and showed wonderful character. I was hooked and have loved him ever since!

We're watching the draft again this year. My son asked if he could skip his normal 30 minutes of reading time to see as much of it as he can. He and his father (and a friend, who we're watching for a little bit) are so into it - it's hysterical. They're discussing who they think will be next and why it wouldn't or wouldn't be a good choice. I have zero idea how boys know all of this stuff, but forget how I like the dishwasher loaded.

Our back room just erupted because a player from the University at Buffalo got drafted 5th. They all watched him play and can't wait to watch him the NFL. There is apparently some disappointment that it's with Oakland, but I suppose we can't have everything. It's really fun to have our hometown represented in the big leagues!

I have to say that I've always enjoyed college sports more than professional, with the possible exception of baseball. However, with a husband and son who love football this much, it's hard not to get into it just a little bit.

Do you watch any sports on TV? (I grew up watching baseball, football and golf. After getting married, it was more of the same.)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

I'm not running anywhere

In February 2013, I completed my first half marathon. I was in Disney with my sisters and my mother. My sisters waited for me in the parking lot, sleeping, while I hobbled through 13.1 miles. I cried at the end, hugging them, telling them it was the hardest thing I had ever done. Then, the next day...I decided I should really do another one because I knew I could do better.

I really didn't train well for that. I did some stuff, but it was half-hearted at best. In the summer of 2013, I trained with a friend and really worked hard. (It needs to be mentioned that I'm slow. And, when I say slow, I mean S.L.O.W. I finished the Princess Half in 3:30 or so.) She and I did our long runs and trained like the best of them. It was pouring rain on the September day I tackled my next half - and we beat my previous time my over 30 minutes! 

So. A friend had come in from Michigan to do that second race with me. She convinced me to sign up for an April 2014 half in her hometown. I agreed. I ran pretty consistently until Thanksgiving, when I did the Turkey Trot (5 mile race). Then? I ATE AND ATE AND ATE. I ate all of the things. I think I ate Christmas. (I'm up about 15 - 20 pounds!)

Guess what? April came. I did the half...and I think I nearly collapsed. 13.1 miles is far when you don't train. I mean, it's far when you DO train. I finished in about 3:30 again, this time just 20 or so people from the end.  Then, two days later? I SIGNED UP FOR ANOTHER RACE ON MAY 25! I'm not entirely sure what is wrong with me.

I'm not training as well as I should. I'm definitely doing a run/walk thing, as there's no way I could just run the whole thing. Oh dear. I think know I have issues. Even funnier? The Michigan friend is lobbying for me to do my first (only?) full marathon in September. The time cut off is 7 hours.  I think I could do that. And, it would be right before my 40th birthday. And then...I will probably fall over and lose all of my toenails. 

Do you ever want to do things even though you don't do them properly? Do you think I'm insane?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Happiness in pictures

fun snack
scripture on my phone

flowers from the husband - and playing with effects on my phone

new bracelet - and way too close pic of my arm hair

sparkly toes

sparkly cupcakes

morning coffee



Tuesday, May 6, 2014

In Belize - part 5

Our overall experience in Belize was unbelievable. I knew it would be...awesome, I guess...but I didn't really understand how or why. Our group had some issues with the organization that handled the trip for our church, but even that didn't stop us from witnessing such wonderful works of our Christian faith.

We noticed that we didn't see many men at all. We're not sure if that's because they are out all night? Are they working all of the time? We saw many mothers. We also saw so many children who just showed up at church, with no parent at all. They would hang outside the gate for a long time, just waiting for the chance to be let in.

There was one boy that we saw in the early morning, after a group of us went for a walk. He is 15 and was carrying a machete. We asked what he was going and he said he was just returning home from work, which was assumed was in the sugar cane fields. 15 with a machete! Oh how I wanted him to be holding a baseball bat, instead, on his way to a before-school practice.

One particular young lady stole many of our heart's. She came to our VBS program with her new-born son (only a few weeks old) and her two toddler's, in addition to her several siblings. Her mother was ill, we learned, so she was caring for everyone. And...she turned 20 while we were there. 20! What responsibility she had. We never did see the father of her children or her father.

We heard so many stories like these. We did our best, in the short time we were there, to spread love and acceptance to all. I took the address of one particular boy the same age as my son. I'm writing to him, in hopes that he will know that he does matter and his choices matter. We can't save everyone all at once, but maybe we can save one at a time.

There were certainly funny times, too. We all complained about the rooster who started every morning around 2...until 11:30. I think he had his hours mixed up. There was the visiting woman's cell phone that went off forever while she just napped away. There were pranks and teenagers and all other manner of fun. This was a way for us to deal with the poverty was saw all around us, knowing it was only temporary for us.

I had a hard time going back to work. It just seemed like I should be doing something more important than digital marketing. There are times that I still wonder if there is something else I could be doing. But, God is good and is with me. I know I'm just where I should be right now.

Monday, May 5, 2014

About being yourself

I apologize in advance, as many of you may have already seen this picture of my daughter on other social media platforms. (I really do believe in having different content on each platform, but sometimes things are just too good to pass up.)



This picture is of my daughter, Meghan. (She is named for the lead character in this series, one of my favorites in middle and high school.) She has such a fun personality. She's very confident (most of the time) and loves to have fun. She asked if she could do this for her brother's baseball game, knowing that she'd have to shower after her own softball practice later in the day. How could I say no?

(I totally wish I could've figured out how to spray her hair like this and do a french braid. But, I'm not sure the colors would've looked right in the braid itself?)




This is my older daughter, Amelia. (She is named for her great-grandmother.) She was beyond thrilled to have found this flower-crown while shopping last night. She is so into fashion and loves creating her own style. She sketches and cuts and puts things together in ways that continue to amaze me.

These pictures make me beyond happy. They show a uniqueness and happiness that we should all possess. When was the last time we wore an outfit that we loved, even if we weren't sure what others would think? Are you willing to do your hair in a way that you'd like, even if your close friends don't?

Oh, how I wish I had the confidence of my girls. I pray that they keep it. It's one thing to want other's opinions, but it's great to not worry about what they are!  I will encourage my daughters to keep up this wonderful self-confidence. Let them know that they are pre-approved (affiliate link) and don't need anyone else's ok to live how they want to live and look how they want to look.

How about you? Do you struggle with the need for validation from others?



Saturday, May 3, 2014

In Belize - part 4

Sunday morning started with a great breakfast of beans, eggs, fresh goat cheese and fresh tortillas. (I purposely ate gluten on this trip. I wasn't sure if it would be a good decision or not, but I didn't want to make any part of this experience about me.) Oh my goodness breakfast was so good! I seriously could do a post about the food by itself! I'm pretty sure that everyone I traveled with was sick of hearing how much I loved everything.

At home we're used to Sunday School and church happening on Sunday mornings, which a church service option on Saturday evening, as well. At this church, they played music in the sanctuary for about 30 minutes, which let area families know that it was time for Sunday School. Children arrived from what seemed like thin air! Once the music was done, we all split up into age groups for class. (There were a small amount of adults, as well.) About an hour later we all met back in the sanctuary so the different classes could show what they learned.  Afterward, the people slowly filed out and went home. Church would happen in the evening, after dinner.

I would say the biggest difference between a church service at our church versus what we encountered there was the music. (This is other than the language, of course.) The service was about 2 hours and about 90 minutes of it was just singing. There was a woman who who led the congregation. She was very involved in the service, but she didn't necessarily have a great voice. I feel like that wouldn't fly here at home, but no one seemed to care that night. They really just worshipped.

There was a bible study on Wednesday evening, which was the next church activity we participated in. This felt more like a sermon to me than what we would call bible study. Their pastor, Pastor Joe, stood at the pulpit and read from the bible and provided interpretation. We had an interpreter for this evening, which was very helpful. Pastor Joe definitely got excited and into it! This whole study lasted an hour and a half!

On Thursday evening, the church did a going-away service for us. It seemed very similar to the Sunday evening service, although they did say a special thank you for us. It was a lovely send off and remains ingrained in my brain. I think some of that may be because a little girl waved me to the front of the church and hopped into my lap. A few minutes later she was asleep on my chest! It had been years since I had felt that :-) Her older sister sat close to me and counted little lizards for me that were crawling across the back wall of the church. It was beautiful.

(I tried to make this post mostly about the church. I will make a sincere attempt to have my last installment be the last one. I make no promises, though!)

Have you ever been to a drastically different religious service than you're used to?

Friday, May 2, 2014

Insecurity and the Gym

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine convinced me to take a class at the gym. It was some sort of strengthening class that lasted for 60 minutes. I can't remember the name of it, but I think it should've been called, "75 creative ways to do squats and lunges for an hour." It was incredibly difficult and I felt very uncoordinated. We had an exercise ball, a stand for the ball, a mat and weights. It was recommended to have two different kinds of weights, but I figured I would start with one since I was a beginner.

I am sure that the two girls in the front corner, who looked like they were in their mid-twenties and were thinner than I was even back in 2nd grade, never noticed me. I'm sure the women behind me, who I never saw, weren't actually laughing at me the whole time. But you know what? I totally felt like they were. I saw myself in that mirror, about 20 pounds heavier than I was last summer, and I felt inadequate.

Between that class and today, I finished a half-marathon that I didn't train for. It was hard and I struggled. I finished, though, and felt strong. (I don't recommend dong a half-marathon without training. This was by far one of the most ridiculous things I have ever done.)

Tonight I went to a pilates class and suffered through the same insecurities as I did a few weeks ago. The whole time I felt convinced that everyone else was watching and knew I couldn't do it. On some level I certainly know that everyone else was more concerned about their own form than mine, but it's hard to remember that in the moment.

What I find sad and frustrating about my issues at the gym is that they represent a larger problem. I can't seem to stop comparing myself to everyone around me. I can't stop thinking I'd be worth more if I had smaller arms or a flat stomach...or a cleaner house or better clothes. You know - if I just had everything together and perfect.

Now, I know that everyone will say, "but you're so _______!" It's not even that I don't believe the things they're saying. You know what, though? It shouldn't matter. It shouldn't matter what anyone thinks - including myself!

I'm just starting a book that I think will help this. I'm really excited to read it and would love it if you read it, too. We could talk about it! What do you think? It's Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee. (She blogs here. For Lent? She covered every mirror in her house. She didn't look at herself in a mirror - even when getting ready for things - for 40 days. She did it to crush her need for outside validation. I don't think I could do it!)

Somehow, we've got to stop worrying. We're already accepted and loved by Jesus. Isn't that all that matters? We just need to remember that and stop that nagging "but" that follows right after...

Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Blog Reading

I'm into several different blogs. I don't necessarily stick to one topic or anything. It's hard to say what I require from a blog to keep me coming back, but I think humor is a good part of it...although it's certainly not required. I think that reading a blog is much like being friends with someone. You can probably identify characteristics that you like in your friends and I'll bet that they don't all share the same (although there may be a theme).

Here is a list of blogs I read, in no particular order, with a little explanation of why I read it:

Hungry Runner Girl: This was the first running blog I came across. I believe I've been reading her for a couple of years, at least. She runs way farther and faster than I could dream of and eats more candy than I could ever dream of. Her daughter is pretty cute, too.

Meals and Miles: Another running blog. It has been at least a couple of years for this one, too. I was initially into it because of her running and because she managed to maintain many contract jobs to support herself. About a year ago she started a full time position, but I still enjoy reading about her life.

The Big Mama Blog: I only found this one a few months ago. To be honest, I'm not sure what her "topic" is. She writes about her life, her daughter, fashion, faith...all kinds of things. She's funny and entertaining.

It's Jenny Time: This is actual friend of mine and I love reading about her life. She takes great pictures and goes on fabulous trips. She has a pretty cool family, too!

KaylaAimee: Several years ago I came across this blog from my friend above. KaylaAimee had just given birth to their extremely premature baby girl. I spent many months praying for the family and am now so excited to read about the lovely little girl who survived under extraordinary circumstances.

The Pioneer Woman: My sister introduced Ree to me. (via the internet! I don't actually know her.) I can't explain it, but I just love reading about her farm and her family and her recipes. I have seen every episode of her show on Food Network and made many of her recipes.

Gluten Free on a Shoestring: I have all three of her cookbooks (affiliate link), too, and I can't tell you how she has saved my life. I need to be gluten free for my health and it can be difficult. There are certainly many more products on the market, even compared to a few years ago, but they are often pricey. I have pizza again in my house that my whole family eats. It's a miracle!

Runner Girl Eats: I have no idea how I found this one, but I think I've been reading her for about a year. I envy her workouts - and often the meals her husband makes! They were just recently married and I had fun reading about their wedding.

There are a few more blogs I read here and there, but these are the blogs I check pretty much every day.  Maybe I'll get some followers if I keep at it!

What blogs do you read every day?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Service

Cornbread muffins and pizza dough rising (left); menu for the week (right)


My church's motto is, "Love God, Love Your Neighbor...Nothing Else Matters." This motto is one of the reasons I love our church. I'm not always good at loving my neighbor (regardless of who my "neighbor" happens to be at that particular time), but I know it's important that I try.

The last year or so, my mind has gone from just "loving" to "serving." Isn't service a form of love? Can't I show my neighbors how much I care by helping and doing things for them? I recognize that this can become a slippery slope. I mean, do we have to do be doing something all of the time to show our love? Does this mean we shouldn't take care of ourselves?

Please know that I'm no expert in this subject. I'm just like everyone else and stumble and fall over my intentions and my actions. It has been on my mind, though, and I'm really trying to sort out how I can best serve and how I can serve more.

One way I know that I serve often and consistently is by working for (and with) my family. By cooking and cleaning and homework and shuttling and taking them to church and on and on and on, I'm serving them. Sometimes we feel like our lives aren't that important and that we're not doing anything big. But, you need to know, we are. Our lives are filled with opportunity to lift others up and serve them in every day little things.

I definitely enjoy serving by cooking and baking for my family. In fact, it's the way I most enjoy loving them. Today I got chili going in the crockpot before we left for church. (Incidentally, I made my own chili powder today. I have no idea why I never did that before. So easy and quick!) When we got home, I made lunch for the kids (Ramen noodles!) and then made gluten free corn bread muffins to have with dinner and prepared some pizza dough to have later in the week. I know that would seem like a lot to some people, but to me...it's awesome. I love to be in my kitchen.

My kids are getting older, though, so I'm thinking that it's time for me to serve in ways outside of my family. Well, to be fair, I do teach Sunday School and stuff. But, I'm talking more far-reaching. I'd like to do another mission trip. Or, maybe volunteer in a capacity outside of my normal "neighborhood." I definitely need to think it through, though, because my desire may not meet my availability. Maybe I should cook and bake or people? I mean, I made 12 cornbread muffins...I could've just as easily made 24!

Hmmmm. I guess I have lots to consider with this! Summer will be the perfect time to do mull things over, as schedules tend to be a little easier then, you know?

How do you volunteer?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Just Tired

I don't always find Mondays to be difficult. (In fairness, I guess you could say that I often do.) At any rate, today I'm very tired. Work seemed to take a lot out of me and I'm not sure where I've landed.

After I made dinner (pork chops and homemade garlic/parmesan mashed potatoes - so good!), we all sat around for a bit. Then, the girls thought we should go for frozen yogurt and I agreed. We walked to the local place at the plaza around the corner from our house and had a lovely treat.

The kids are taking turns getting cleaned up and I'm on the coach with our dogs. Dave left for a meeting, so it's just us. For a while I seriously did nothing. I just...sat. Eventually I thought I should at least get my laptop and check in here.

I tell you all this not to totally bore you, although I'm sure that's part of the result. I'm telling you because I think we should all feel ok with this kind of night (or day) every now and then. I could get the clothes out of the washer or finish cleaning up from dinner or pick up the thirty-one delivery that came today (free stuff!), but I simply don't want to. And that's ok. All of it will still be there for me to accomplish tomorrow.

Me on the couch with my quilt, computer and dogs
The kids will sit down to read at about 8:30. I typically read with them, but I'm not sure I'll be able to. I may not stay awake! Tonight I will just have to accept that my body and brain are tired. I think we sometimes push ourselves to get it all done and then snap one day. We just can't do it all of the time. I will be a better wife, mother, employee, etc. if I take care of myself and right now that means total rest.

Do you ever need to just take a break? What does that look like for you?

Monday, April 28, 2014

In no particular order


Since I didn't really give too much away in my first post, I thought I'd list some of my bucket list here. Now, it's definitely incomplete. There are things I'm sure I'm forgetting. And, there is a thing or two that I'm just not ready to share. But, there's certainly enough to list. (Posting it also gives me some accountability to actually trying to attain them!)

Here's the list (in no particular order):

- run a full marathon
- go on a mission trip with my second daughter (older daughter and I went earlier this year)
- complete 3 half marathons this year (1 down, 2 to go)
- full marathon
- travel to Greece
- take a family cruise
- become debt free
- sponsor another child through Compassion (we already sponsor a little boy in Uganda)
- go to a blogging conference (I should probably actively blog first)
- become successful enough in thirty-one that my family has more financial freedom 
- buy a Mac (my two computers are provided by work)
- family vacation to Washington DC

There should be more on this list. I'm sure there will be. In fact, I'm sure I'll remember some as soon as I post this! 

I think it's important to have seemingly unattainable dreams along with things you know you can do (with some work). I did my first half marathon in February 2013. That had been on list for so long and it took a lot of prayers, sweat and tears. I did it, though! I ended up doing another one in September 2013 and just completed one a little over a week ago. Crazy!

What are some of your dreams?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

In Belize - part 3

Our bus ride from the orphanage to the church was about 2 hours. We were still not a tight group or anything, so the bus ride was somewhat quiet. There were pockets of people talking, but there was also a lot of looking out the window at our new surroundings. The roads are incredibly narrow and we went very fast. (It was a little too fast for my liking!)

We were in a very populated area at first. There were houses that clearly belonged to very wealthy people. Then, right next store to these gated homes/complexes, were houses that looked like sheds for lawn equipment here at home. In fact, the sheds here are in better shape! Some of the houses were rather open. It was definitely our first glimpse of the poverty we were going to encounter. We also so huge fields of sugar cane.

There were a lot of dogs. Some looked incredibly sick and hungry, while others looked like they at least ate somewhat regularly. It seemed like people must have kept them for protection. But, they obviously didn't have health care - or worry about reproduction!

We arrived at church and were shown where we would be staying. The men stayed in the church sanctuary, while the women were sleeping in an attached building. We got to work pretty quickly inflating our mattresses and organizing our things. Some of the women encountered some rather large bugs in our bathroom, which didn't make me super happy!

Our meals were prepared by some of the women of the church. Dinner that first night was homemade chicken tamales. They were heavenly!

****

I've started to realize that I can't do a day-by-day report for you; it will take forever! I will try to do more condensed version in 1 or 2 more entries, ok?

Have you ever gone a trip that pushed your comfort zone?

Friday, April 25, 2014

In Belize - part 2

Once we had finished our lunch (prepared by the wife of our bus drive for the week), we headed to the orphanage. This was the part of the trip that I was most worried about. I had joked many times in the weeks leading up to our departure that I was concerned I would accidentally adopt one or two without my husband's knowledge. It turns out that Belizian law would have made that difficult even if I had wanted to.


We weren't allowed to take any pictures within the orphanage gates. They didn't want to risk any kids accidentally ending up on the internet or something. (Possibly on a blog like this?)

Oh my goodness, what fun we had with those children. They were thrilled to receive the gifts we brought, like toys and games. But, even more, they wanted to play with us. We ran, sang, did crafts, carried kids and just had fun.

There was a woman who arrived and sat with some of the children. I heard later that she was a mother visiting her children. She had left them there because she couldn't provide for them.

A few of us spent some time with the employee in charge that day. She told us that she rides her bicycle almost two hours in the morning to arrive for her 10 hour shift. Most days she rides back home at the end, although she sometimes will spend the night. She talked about her love for the children, which is what keeps her there. She talked about her dream of being able to teach the kids some skills, like sewing, so when they leave they have a shot and making themselves into something. We learned that even though they get donations - like chickens and gardens - they don't have the time or personnel to manage everything. So, the chickens died and the gardens wither. She said that although they always appreciate the donations, they really just need more hands.

We were at the orphanage for about 2 hours, I believe. My daughter really enjoyed this part of our trip. While it broke my heart that the kids were there, I did see many smiles. I left there in better shape than I anticipated.

Next up: heading to our home for the week.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Sanity Check

It has been a long week already...and it's only Wednesday. We've all had those weeks. I know I'm not the first. I also know this won't be the last time it happens to me! But, today was just stupid.

My middle one was diagnosed with mono last week. Luckily she was on spring break, so she didn't miss any school. I'm also luck to have a job/boss that allows me to work from home when necessary. So, I was able to be home with her while she rested. But, she got bored. And we had Easter. She felt particularly lousy at church that morning, but flat-out refused to leave because it was Easter Sunday and it's important. I'm glad it was important to her, but was frustrated that she wouldn't go home to rest. She and I left our family and went the very back to sit on some couches for a bit, then went back up to the pews for communion. (We're not annoying at all!) I ended up asking a doctor from our congregation, as I was walking back from communion, about ruptured spleen symptoms. I'm not crazy or anything.

This week she seemed to be getting worse instead of better. She had severe pain in her left side. Her throat felt raw. In fact, my normally happy and smiley girl was downright miserable. Add to this a big to-do list for work, other children with needs and a husband also working...and you get an unhappy me.

Yesterday was the low point. She felt awful. I looked at her abdomen and, with the expert opinion of my English degree weighing in, it looked swollen. I talked to the doctor's office and we ended up in the ER...who questioned the mono diagnosis. Really? We left with less answers than we had.

Our primary called this morning and said we needed to follow up in the office in the late afternoon. When I told my daughter to get dressed, she was annoyed. But? I was also annoyed. I had several work calls today, deadlines that had to be met, a look at my other daughter's grades. You know - the stuff that an annoying day is made of.

We had to go to the office several towns over, which is less convenient that the one 10 minutes away. The upshot is that we saw a PA that we really like. Even better - we got answers! Yes, she has mono. Also, the pain she's feeling is a pulled muscle from coughing. FROM COUGHING! She doesn't have a ruptured spleen. She's out of school this week, but we're at the end of the sick road. She's back on Monday.

We got back home and saw that the gas company was using our driveway. Seriously. Just had equipment all over. They didn't seem to mind when I got home, although felt like talking to my husband when he arrived. (Hmmm. I need to get over this bitterness.)

I made dinner. I got people ready for practice. I did all the mom things. I got through the whole day! And, I know you can, too. We can get through the bad news, the difficult conversations, the deadlines. We can get through it all with Him. I prayed my butt off today...pretty much all day. And now it's quiet in my house. I have hair color on my hair. (I wonder what it will look like?) I have a drink in my plastic cup. (Our dishwasher is broken. Of course.)

All is right with the world.

How do you get through "those" days?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In Belize - part 1--




My oldest daughter and I went on a mission trip to Belize in February with a group from our church. We spent over a year preparing and praying. There was a lot of agonizing over flying. (I'm not a happy flyer. At all.) We had to get passports, which took way longer than it should have. We took bottle return donations (and financial donations) from friends. We worked and fundraisers at church. We talked and laughed our way through our nervousness. Then? We went to Belize.

(I will tell this story over time. It's way too much for one post and I desperately want to get it all in. I have no idea how long it will take me to tell. I'm sure it will seem too long at some points and short on details in others. Thank you for your patience as I sort it all out!)

I had no idea what to expect on this trip. Volunteering at home is one thing. We do good works and then we feel better about ourselves. It's wonderful. This time, though, we'd be far away. We'd be eating different food, sleeping in a church, working with people we really didn't know very well. Plus, I wasn't sure what we'd see! I knew there would be poverty - that's why we were going! It was better and more moving and crazier than anything I could've imagined.

Our group was comprised of 24 people, not quite half of which were teens. We left very early on a Saturday morning. (My son insisted on coming to the airport to say good bye, at 4am, and cried as he hugged me on the sidewalk. It didn't make for an easy separation!) We were a sleepy group, heading to unknown territory, with cautious adults and incredibly excited teenagers.

The flights went better than I could've hoped. My daughter laughed at me when I got nervous and held my hand as we landed. I got yelled at for taking a picture while waiting to be admitted to the country. All in all, the travel couldn't have been better. 

We were greeted by the organization we'd be spending the week with as soon as we walked outside. I was the first one through the doors at customs and was recognized immediately by the t-shirt I was wearing. (We all wore the same one, which made me feel a little strange. I'm not a big fan of matching the people I'm with!) 



Our first order of business was a group picture and then a bus trip to lunch. We ate BBQ chicken outside a church in the beautiful sunshine. (WNY had a pretty snowy winter, so we were all thrilled to be outside in the sunshine!) This was also when I learned that you don't flush toilet paper in Belize. At least, not in the places we'd be going. (You also don't drink the water. Or brush your teeth with it.)

NEXT STOP: Visit with some kids for a few hours at an orphanage. 


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Books

I have always loved to read. In first grade, I won the reading contest (based on number of books read) and got to take some new books home at the end of the year. I'll never forget that! One was a hardcover Pinocchio chapter book. Oh, how I loved that book!

When the 6th Harry Potter book came out, I read it in a day. My husband got home from work and asked me how the day had gone. I realized I had NO idea what my kids had done all day. They were around 6, 4 and 2; I'm lucky they made it through that day alive.

My time for reading ebbs and flows. There are seasons of my life that I do nothing but read. Then, months could pass and I'll realize I haven't done much. I like the feel and smell of books, but do have a Nook. Reading that way has made it easier to read library books that I'm not sure I'll want to read again.   It's also a lot easier to take my Nook on car trips.

My favorite genre is definitely young adult. This is a bit odd, as I'm approaching 40. But, there is it. It's easier now that I have a pre-teen daughter who shares my love of reading and likes to discuss the books she has read. Her love of the Huger Games and Divergent series sparked my interest to read them. Our favorite series to read together is the Percy Jackson (and following) series. The next one comes out in October and we're both very excited.

In addition to young adult, I've read a number of Christian life books recently. I'm currently reading Rhinestone Jesus (affiliate link) and am loving it. This book was the catalyst in my decision to start this blog and seriously move forward with my dreams and plans. (I know I haven't told you yet. I promise, when the time is right - you'll be the first to know!)

Other recent titles include (all affiliate links):
Sparkly Green Earrings
The Antelope in the Living Room
Surprised by Motherhood
Chasing God
Grace for the Good Girl
1000 Gifts

We try very hard to have the kids read for 30 minutes each night before bed. We all sit together and read our individual books. This is one of my favorite parts of the day! (I can tell you that I'm typing this around 7:45pm on the last evening of spring break. I'm pretty sure there will be some meltdowns when I announce that it's time for everyone to come inside, shower and settle down. So, please don't think we're believing ourselves to be fabulous with our reading time!)

What books are you reading right now?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dreams

I'm not sure what I'm doing. I had a blog many years ago - and I was pretty faithful to it! But, life got in the way and I stopped writing. Other blogs were started and stopped. I couldn't find my will to write anymore. Will this be any different? Only time will tell.

What I can tell you is that I have some dreams. My dreams are big and will require a lot of prayer and work. I'm not ready to come out with them in public. Yet. But, a blog seemed like a good place to start. This is where I can feel things out; a place where I can sort through my thoughts and get all of your feedback! I know I'm not alone on this journey. I have Jesus. I have you. I have my family. And also? I know I'm not the only one with dreams. We all do. Let's work on them together!

Have you ever started something fun and exciting? A new project? Then, at some point in, you stop? Yeah, I have, too. I'm scared it will happen again. But, I'll never make it at all if I don't take the first step.

This is a pretty vague first post. I haven't really told you anything. I promise I will, though. Stick with me!