Challenge #7, The Best Party Ever

It was a turning point year, the year I turned forty. My husband, kids, and I were celebrating my special day with my mom and my sister and her family. I’ve always enjoyed birthdays with family. My growing up years, as far back as I can remember, was always celebrating birthdays with family. The traditional birthday cake, ice cream, and presents. Is there really any other way to commemorate the completion of another year?

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This particular year, the year I turned forty, was not so unusual, and yet it was. Turning forty was a mile marker, a special birthday, but I wasn’t sure I was ready to be a forty-something.  My husband acted a little anxious, and seemed to be rushing the party along. I was enjoying myself, why make it go any faster? Suddenly everyone was tired, so we said our good-byes and started home. As soon as we got home, my husband suggested me go out for coffee (which was a normal “date” for us). I thought it a little odd that we just got home and he wanted to go back out, but I was clueless. It wasn’t until we were several miles down the interstate that I started to wonder what was going on. He said we are just going for a drive. I questioned, where? He responded “a birthday surprise”. My husband had “kidnapped” me and was whisking me off for a weekend get-away to Asheville, N.C. to start my 40’s off right.

We had so much fun, and it was made even more special because of the effort my husband had made to have the kids taken care of, suitcases already packed and sneakily put into the trunk of the car, and having reserved a beautiful room in a gorgeous location.

That day turned out to be one of my most memorable birthdays….the best party ever.

Challenge #5, Before And After…

Yesterday’s challenge was my take on “Before and After”……

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Before I became a follower of Christ, I thought I was “good enough”. After, I understood I was a sinner in need of a Savior. I found love and I found redemption. I realized that while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me. My life changed…for all eternity.

Before I was married, I thought I understood what it meant to share, to compromise, to trust, to love. After, I knew what it was to create a life together, to put aside my pride and say “I’m sorry”, to show forgiveness, and to remain committed through both good and bad times…..because life has a fair share of both.

Before I was a mom, I thought I knew how to be a good parent. After, I understood love in a way I never understood it before. I laughed, I cried, my heart changed, and I happily gave my time, day in and day out, for this little one. Each year brings surprises, and each stage is a new adventure.

Before I was a teacher, I thought I knew what it was to run a classroom and be an excellent instructor. I would be planning assignments, and checking papers. After, I found out that teaching is more than students in a classroom, but young lives that looked to me for some answers in an otherwise confusing world. I learn as much from my students as they do from me. That is just the truth.

Before the deaths of my grandparents, husband, and father, I thought I understood how to grieve. After, I realized that grieving is different for everyone. Grief comes in waves like the ocean, and one must face those waves and move through them. There are good days, and there are bad days, and on some days all I could do was breathe.

Life is full of before’s and after’s. The older I get the more I realize that when I am standing in “the before” I rarely understand. Oh, it is easy to think I do, but life has a way of teaching lessons in the midst of “the after”. Valuable, cherished moments. Lessons learned.

 

 

 

 

 

There Is Much To Be Thankful For

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I’m sitting on the couch, watching House episodes on Netflix with my husband. I’m wrapped up in my oversized Christmas sweater, and am enjoying sipping a coffee, as I contemplate. Itty Bitty, one of the long haired cats, is napping behind me, on the sofa table, as warm light pools on the living room floor. I can see the boxes that are filled with the decorations I took down this afternoon. The dishwasher is humming, the clothes dryer is going, and the dogs toys are scattered all over the floor. This is life at my house.

Today is also my anniversary. My husband and I will go out for a special dinner, leaving our adult children to forage for themselves on this night.  My husband and I have been married ten years already. That is hard to believe. Both of us had been widowed in our thirties, losing our first spouses at a young age. It was ten years ago on this very day, that I was reminded that God loves me….and that He is the extravagant Giver of second chances.

As the New Year approached in 2000, I didn’t know what the future would hold. Now, here I am 15 years later. A new life. A new purpose. A brand new year that I get to experience. I am blessed, and one of the greatest joys for me, and the most humbling, is understanding how blessed I am….not taking anything for granted. Things could be different for me. I know that. I try to remember to say thank you to God…..every single day. There really is so much to be thankful for.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Sometimes The Sound Is Deafening

The morning is gray and still and it feels like rain is in the air, but who knows, that can change in a second around here. A Monday in mid-July, that is the beginning of a cool spell that is to arrive in the area. Not to offend all my summer, heat loving, friends but, the thought occurred to me this morning that October is less than three months away. My favorite time of the year. Not too hot, and not too cold, as Goldilocks would say, “just right”.

Weeks passing and months passing and I mull that over on the way back from the barn.

Time doesn’t stop. The moments speed along whether I’m “in” the moment or not. Although I love Fall, I am not ready for it to get here yet. This Fall brings changes to my life, and to those that I love. My son starts his freshman year of college in late August. He will be roughly four hours away in the land of frozen tundra (Michigan to those who don’t know). I am thrilled for him, and he has earned this chapter of his life…but, things will change. I’m not sure yet how I feel about that. Sigh.

My daughter begins her senior year in high school. The year will consist of finishing classes, ACT testing, senior pictures, filling out applications, and making a decision about a college or career. The culmination of years of work will be graduation. When she walks across the stage it will be both the beginning of a new chapter for her, and the end of mine and my husband’s days as parents of school age kids.

Everyone is an adult now. Being independent, making their own decisions. Our oldest son, is already out on his own, making his way in the world, and living with his own choices.

Time ticks off the minutes and sometimes the sound is deafening.

One of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp, says that in order to slow down time one needs to see the moments and be thankful. When we are thankful we enjoy the time more, we see things more clearly, and are grateful to God who gave us this life.

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Today I am thankful for: 

*beautiful glowing super moon that lit up the yard with its light last night

*giving belly rubs to the dogs

*a cat in the lap

*a new way of eating that makes me feel so much better and healthier

*ripe summertime tomatoes

*fresh blueberries

*HGTV marathons:)

*inside jokes with my husband

*my husband, who loves me….even when I am feeling unloveable

*kids that are no longer kids….my children, all grown up

*gray morning sky

*turning back toward the house after getting the mail, and being awestruck by the azure sky and white clouds

*stopping in the driveway and raising my arms in the air, so overwhelmed with the beauty of nature, and yelling “THANK YOU, GOD” at the top of my lungs…. my voice echoing back to me off the side of the metal barn. I believe God has a sense of humor and no one can convince me otherwise. I think after that outburst God gave me a fist bump. 🙂

 

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One Hot Mama Mess

On this first Friday in May, are you ready – give us five minutes on the word MESS?!

 

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It is May, less than a month before my son’s graduation from high school. Who knew how much had to be done, get done, come undone? I’ve got stuff piled on top of stuff…announcements and pictures and lists of things to do for his graduation party….and my daughter is homeschooling and that brings with it a whole other mess of “to do’s”. I’m also a teacher and it is the end of the school year and there is paperwork, and testing, and assignments to finish and progress reports to fill out and it makes me tired thinking about it all! My husband tells me to relax. I tell him I don’t know how.

I’ve scheduled a couple of “girls day out” things in the midst of it all. I will need that time to recuperate, for sure…..either that or just pass out…..which now that I think about it, might not be such a bad thing. I would at least get a few moments of rest, but I digress…..back to my mess!

 

 

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As I sit here typing, I’ve noticed dog fur tumbleweeds on the floor, and fingerprints, a carpet that needs vacuumed and a table that needs wiped. Dishes that are in the sink and a half drank glass of tea. I try to keep things neat around this joint, but Better Homes and Gardens will probably not be knocking on my door anytime soon.

The yard needs mowed, the chicken coop needs cleaned and we must get the deck power washed and the furniture brought out of storage.

 

 

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Yep…..I’ll be either be completely bald, or have a head full of gray hair by the end of this month. Now, won’t that look great for those graduation pictures?! By the way, that reminds me I need to get a hair cut. I need to pencil that in on the calendar. Um……right there between the appointment for the dogs vaccinations and my birthday.

 

 

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When Did The Days Become Years?

Twenty-four hours, never seems like enough.

Don’t we all feel the way the moments of sand slip through the hour glass of time?

When did the days become years?

And why wasn’t I truly awake to see them?

Oh, my eyes work, but often times I miss what is right in front of me.

 

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Capture the pictures with eyes wide open.

Heart moments.

The moments that really matter.

The ones that will be remembered for all the times to come.

 

“But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand.” – Psalm 31:14-15, ESV

 

I Can’t Do This Alone

I received the call from my son yesterday afternoon.Rusted-apya-007

The van wouldn’t start. It was setting dead in the school parking lot. My son said he could catch a ride home, but the van remained.

Sigh.

Husband and I trekked over to the parking lot. The van was still there, setting forlornly in the waning light of day. A valiant road trip warrior that was just plain tired.

I could relate.

Somedays it seems I just can’t take ONE… MORE… THING.

When the days bring things that are broken, schedules crunched, tension mounting, work to finish, money tight, everything feels like it is about to implode.

And I want to scream, or cry…or both.

I long for life to be easier. I wait for the day that everything will make sense.

No worries, no stress, no heartache.

Can you relate? Do your days seem long, also? Ever feel like your good just isn’t good enough?

For now, I hold my head in my hands and attempt to breathe deeply. A whisper of prayer escapes my lips, nothing lofty or well spoken.

In the midst, I find myself crying out to God. So tired, Lord. I need Your peace. I need Your counsel. I need You. Oh, God! I need You. When life sucks all the oxygen out of the day to day and I feel I can’t catch my breath or catch a break….. I need You. Every day I need You.

Let’s face it, sometimes life is hard. It is a struggle to walk the walk when all I want to do is run. The burdens of life weigh heavy and I fear I will be buried in the avalanche. I need the One who is stronger than I am.

And so on days that are dim, I search for the Light, because I realize that I can’t do this alone.

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”   John 8:12  ESV

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5: 7-9  NIV

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 ESV