Monday, August 3, 2015

Lessons in the Marigold

Mother's Day. The day of the year, the world over, where our children come home from school, bright eyed and full of love, and hand us a cup of dirt with a seed in it. They excitedly tell us about the life of a seed and how we need to take care of it, nurture it and help it to grow, just like mothers do for their little ones.(Nicely done, teachers...) 

Little do they know, they've just trusted the seed to the wrong mama...

That's right Mamas...shameful confession here. I don't have a green thumb...not even a jade or slightly chartruse thumb....Whatever the thumb color is that mercilessly murders plants without fail, that is my thumb. Oh, you laugh...but you didn't know Merv, the love fern I received from my husband for our first anniversary (who died before the second.) You haven't met BamBam, my office bamboo plant, (that my co-workers now hold joint custody over, just to make sure the poor guy gets water...) No friends, I am not good with plants...which is why you can picture my feigned happiness at receiving a sweet little Marigold plant, delicately planted into a little plastic cup, by my 6 year old son. 

On the outside, I exclaimed at what a treasure it was! How we HAD to put it in the bathroom window to watch it grow and give it sunshine...on the inside, my heart trembled at how I would have to, inevitably, tell my son about the untimely death of his marigold plant, due to my lack of gardening prowess.

As the days and weeks went on, this little marigold surprised me. I kept checking it daily, admiring its changes, celebrating each new pod and bloom with my husband and kids. We took turns watering it, my husband, son and times we may have overwatered it, but never knew drought. There were times when it's leaves looked a little droopy, like it was about to give up....NOT TODAY, MARIGOLD! Not on my watch! 
And as I watched my family become invested in this small little plant, that seemed so insignificant, I was reminded of a million significant things about the bond of family. 

My husband and I surrounded that plant and checked on it daily. We were invested in it. We nurtured it. Our son saw our example and did the same, even guiding his two year old sister to see the latest blooms. We celebrated it's success and discussed honestly when we were nervous for it's potential failures. 

I think, as moms, sometimes we count ourselves out too early in the game of family. We get so bogged down at the successful Facebook and Pinterest lives of others that we think, "I'll never be as successful at this whole mom thing as..." 

But then, as this little marigold taught me, I'll never be successful if I keep trying to go it alone. I need to include my husband. I need to engage my children. We need to lead by example. We need to celebrate each other's successes. We need to compliment and encourage new blooms. When leaves get dry and mistakes happen, we need to prune and correct, but all in the spirit of love and growth. We need to not allow the depression of messing up and the fear of failure keep us from engaging our family on all levels.

Scripturally, we believe the husband is the head of the home. I believe that wholeheartedly and cover my husband in prayer daily, as that has to be one of the toughest jobs in the world. But the mother, Mamas...the mother is the heart, the one who brings us all together, reminds us of our value, engages, encourages, inspires, and celebrates when our family experiences growth. It is our example that will lead our littles to become nurturers and guides to those around them. 

And through this little plant, I realized, we are only strong as a family when we are all engaged and invested in the success of it. When my husband and I demonstrate what a Godly life should be. When we acknowledge our mistakes and lovingly prune away the messy "branches." When my son takes the hand of his sister and shows her what he's learned. When we all "overwater" a bit, but never run so low as to experience spiritual drought, because one of us is always building into the others at any time. 

Now our little marigold plant has roots everywhere, so much that it's ready to burst out of it's cup. We're ready to plant it and watch it go further than it has before in it's tiny life. 

My family roots are ready to plant as well. I know that together, with each of us knowing our value and continuing to invest in one another, we will never stop blooming. We can only grow from here. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

More Than You Can Bear...

Allow me to begin with a disclaimer:

This is a post I've kept pretty close to home up until now, so if you are a close friend or family member of mine, my apologies if this is the first you are hearing of this... I just couldn't share this information, because frankly, I wasn't ready to, and I think there are just some things you aren't meant to obscurely post on social media and walk away from...

I wasn't ready to share it, because at that time, it was one of the scariest moments of my of the most trying...and one that we didn't, as of yet, have all the answers to all of the questions that those of you who love us would be exploding with...but, let me begin, and hopefully all will be answered and revealed by the end of the time it takes you to read this...

I am, admittedly, a control freak. I run the budget, I run the schedule, I manage the's often a family joke that my husband wears the pants, but I pick them out... thankfully, God planned for me to marry a guy that would be ok with that. (Love you, Babe). 

But sometimes, in those moments of obsessive control, when I manage everything, when I'm the one balancing all the cards, juggling the balls, spinning the plates...sometimes in those moment's I forget who really holds it all in His hand...and in THOSE moments, the house of cards crashes, only for me to realize I'm still being held in His hand, regardless of what I thought I had control of. 

A few months ago, I had been experiencing these headaches...and if you know me well, you know 2 things. 
1. I don't get headaches, and...
2. If I do get headaches, you won't know about it, because not only to I have an incredibly high pain tolerance (thanks, Grandma), I also am stubborn about pushing through illnesses to not be weak. (So, as you can tell, this is not the first time God has had to land me on my butt to get a message to me...) 

After about a month of pushing through these scary beyond all reason   slightly painful pressure headaches, I had decided, I'll see a doctor in a few more weeks. 

That was when God reminded me, I'm not in control. 

One night in particular, as I was driving 30 minutes to a business dinner, in my honor, no less, I began to have the worst night of my life. 

Leaving the office, the room began to tilt. In my infinite wisdom (insert sarcastic eye roll here) I didn't stop to consider how un-right that was, and kept walking to the car. 

Once in the car and driving on the highway, at 70 mph, I began to lose feeling in my hands, in my fingers, in my legs, in my feet...I looked at the car, could physically see my foot on the gas, but couldn't feel it to push it. I looked at my hands, gripping the steering wheel, but I could not touch it. I merged off of the exit to the restaurant in a residential area, and had my GPS on, but couldn't comprehend it. I couldn't understand what it was telling me...IN ENGLISH. 

Finally, I pulled over, tears flowing down my face. I opened my mouth to cry out for help, and I couldn't speak. For lack of better imagery, I sounded like a special needs patient. 

So, there i am, in downtown Nashville, surrounded by strangers, fully incapacitated, can't speak, can't feel, can't do a thing, except cry the word Help. 

A man and his wife found me and took me into their home. Complete strangers and yet, I don't think I will ever be more thankful for anyone in my life... Through my incapacities, we attempted to communicate my name, who I was, where I was going...and at this point, I began blacking out, the room spinning and my mind filling with thoughts that I couldn't control...

Was this going to stop? Would I be me again? Could I regain my speaking again? would I ever hold my babies or sing them to sleep again? 

An ambulance was called and the next thing I remember, I woke up alone and scared in the hallway triage hospital bed of some ER in the city. The next thing I knew, someone had found my husband and he rushed in. I just remember  holding on to him with everything in me and crying out every scared feeling I had experienced in that last hour (?) hours (?) into his shoulder while he held me, thanking God he had found me. 

The next few days were an emotional battle...was it a stroke? was it a cyst? was it... cancer? and if it was, how would I manage that? would this happen again?

Rounds of MRI's, CT scans and other frighteningly expensive testing later, and I received the most miraculous diagnosis... Complex Migraines. I suffer from the world's worst headaches, that, when unattended, create stroke-like symptoms. 

And in that diagnosis, I was reminded, and admonished, God never promises to keep us from more than we can bear...but sometimes, I wonder if he gives our bodies an emergency switch to say "Hey! You're getting close!!" I wonder if he allows us to experience moments like this to slow down, calm down, and allow ourselves to regroup, reprioritize and renew our perspective on who we need to be and what is important in life. I wonder if, in times that we need to pull the lever, if He does it for us? 

I'll admit it...complex migraines are no picnic. But, in a way, I'm kind of blessed to have them. Because they are a firm reminder to me who is in control of my life...and how it's ultimately not me. No amount of post it notes, calendars, project plans or budgets will change that. It's also a reminder to me to slow down, and take stock in what is truly important. That last hug and kiss of the day...a few extra moments of more bed time song... one more story... telling my husband about my day... walking on a beach with my family. Those are the moments that matter. 

So if you are feeling today, that you are carrying more than you can bear, take a moment and pull the lever for yourself. Spend some time, even if it's just a few moments, focusing on what really matters. 

With that renewed perspective, you can bear what matters...and what doesn't will resolve itself in the end.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Seeds Planted...Flowers Bloomed

This morning,  I woke up to probably one of the most incredible things in a lifetime...

As many of us do, when I woke up this morning, and the house was still quiet, I rolled over and looked at my phone, scrolling through updates and posts to talk my eyes and mind into waking up (it's a pretty dramatic guys can guess who usually wins...*snooze*) This morning, as the sun shined through my window, I came across the most amazing post.

A young lady, whom I had the pleasure of working with during my time as a Student Pastor, had found a letter I had written her 3 or 4 years ago. She shared about her journey since high school, how she had fallen, and how she had come running back into the loving arms of her heavenly Father. She then shared how much that letter I had written to her those years ago had meant to her, and posted a pic of it online and tagged me in it.

I remember that letter...I remember that time...I remember how exhausted I was, but how much I knew it would mean to this girl, who was about to go on a very important weekend away, and needed some encouragement. I remember taking a pause from my job, getting away and praying for the right words...I remember writing the words and then praying over them again...prayers that this young lady would have the weekend God needed her to feel the love and support this sweet girl truly was searching for in her heart. And my letter was only the one in a series of letters by our student leadership team, written to encourage her this weekend.

I say all this to give a very specific message, laid on my heart...This is for you, Student Pastor...for you, Youth Group Leader...this is for you, Mentors and Friends...for you, Exhausted Parent...

Be Intentional. Be Impactful. Make Your Investment.

I had the privilege to serve as a Student Pastor for several years with my former church. But my amazing girls had no idea what it took to get me there...they had no idea I had just had the crappiest day ever at my job and came straight there to discuss their own troubles. They had no idea the rush it took to feed the kids, drop them off and get to them on time..There were times they never knew the doubts and pain and battles I was having with God, while I guided them to their own relationship with him. (and then there were times that they did know...which led to the most amazing conversations...but I digress...)

But let me tell you, Youth Leader.... ...ALL.

I know you're exhausted. I know, sometimes what these kids deal with is trivial, compared to mortgages, marriages, bills, work and every "grown up" problem you have...but guess what?

Someday, they're going to have grown up problems...and we can only hope and pray they have the right answers in those moments.

There is no pay in being a youth leader...there is no glory in it...But when you get that call from one of your girls, in college, saying " I just needed to talk...", when you get that Baby Shower invitation, and when a young lady, now a grown woman herself said " I returned to Jesus, and your words made a difference..." That is the truest of all rewards. That makes all those battles to get there and be a part of those girls lives so worth it.

So, exhausted Youth Leader...wiped out Student Pastor...discouraged Parent... Don't Give Up...

The words you are saying right this moment....the prayers you are lifting up, on this very day, may be the blessing and the moment God chooses to bring back to these amazing kids in the moment they need it most.


And to all of my amazing girls...know that I still love each of you with all my heart, I think of you often, and I pray for each step you take.

 Remember who YOU are, remember where you've COME from...Remember WHO you belong to...

Friday, July 11, 2014

When Daddy Says No...

It had to happen eventually...

One afternoon, we realized our sweet (almost) 1 year old daughter was growing up when she decided to test her limits with her daddy. Our little brown eyed beauty, who holds her daddy's heart in her hand, was up to no good...and she knew it. 

Mackenzie was getting into many things that she shouldn't...most of which we can give a "no-no" and move on...but this day...oh, this day, she had her sights set on the one thing her daddy couldn't ignore...his XBOX One (sometimes known as his 3rd baby). 

Kenzie crawled her way over to it and began to play with it. Daddy gave a valiant effort at telling her no, to only be met with a dimpled giggle and sweet smile. Daddy become more forceful and stood up by her...still nothing...this is a girl, who at 11 months, pretty much gets what she wants...Finally, Daddy had to take her little hand and give it a (light...don't freak out here, people) smack.

Oh the horror!

Tears welled up in those big brown eyes...pouty lips emerged...and all of a sudden, all hell broke loose. 

As Kenzie becomes more "person" and less "baby",  being told "NO" is a big thing for her and Daddy right now..."No, you may not climb the stairs" (You'll get hurt)..."No you may not kiss the kitty multiple times" (You'll really get hurt!)..."No, bubby's legos are not for eating" (You'll choke!)..."No, you may not play with your diaper (Just...eww....) 

Now, did Daddy tell her no to be awful, mean, spiteful, angry? No...he told her no to prevent a possible event that there would be no coming back from...he told her no to protect her...Because as Daddy, he know more about those moments than Kenzie could possibly know or see...

It occurred to me just how often we take a turn at this dance with our Heavenly Father...

Recently in my life, I had a really nice opportunity come my I wasnt looking for...One I didn't expect, but one that could be a life change for my family in the most epic way possible...I wanted it. I dreamed of it...My husband and I would stay up late, just talking about the what if...We had discussed the possibility so much in our own lives that we had unintentionally talked it into least I felt that way. Everything had happened so fast that there was no way we could foresee this NOT happening. 

But then, we came to a brakes screeching - force of gravity pulling - heart stopping realization. We had talked to each other...we had talked to friends...we hadn't stopped to talk to the Father. So, one night, we wrapped ourselves in each others arms, grabbed hands, and opened our hearts and dreams to Him. We prayed fervently for clarity, for discernment,... for Daddy to say No...

It didn't take long...the next day, I got the call that the opportunity was no longer available. And to my suprise...I was mad. I was furious...I thought Daddy was going to say yes! There's no reason in this Child's mind why the Father could not say yes!!! And as I walked through my disappointment, I began to think of Kenzie and my husband and his ultimate desire to protect her, because he knew the rest of the story...he knew the harm that would befall her as she continued down each path, even if her intentions were merely curious...

I realized, my Daddy told me No, because He knows the rest of my story. He is a careful and meticulous editor to my narrative. As I propose ideas, He gives them pause, because He knows what could happen if I try to shove them into the overall storyline He has for me. When we stop and give Him creative license to what we try to write for ourselves, He takes the pen, and with a flourish, begins to edit our story and share the ending of a chapter in a way we could have never have imagined...

We just had to decide to give Him the pen. 

Sometimes in life, Daddy is going to say No...but instead of being Children, we need to look at His no with the loving foresight with which we protect our own little loves. 

I heard my No for now...and I'm OK with it...I know my story's not done. 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Thousand Nights of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

Im not sure what your bedtime routine is for your children, but for ours, since we're a pretty musical family, our kids have a Mom and Dad playlist. For my daughter, its the girly tune of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and for my son, it's "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". It occurred to me, the other night, as I was tucking my son in, and singing (for what felt like the thousandth time) Twinkle Twinkle, this has been every night of his life, give or take a few nights at the grandparents (and Im pretty sure he gets them to sing it too)...and I was reminded how fleeting the moment of childhood is.
A thousand nights seems like forever, especially when you are singing the same song over and over again (and sometimes different versions, for added giggles)... But for how many more nights? How many more nights will my sweet, dimpled, brown eyed boy snuggle down in his bed, with his favorite bedtime "guys" around him and ask for Mommy to sing his special song? How many more nights will I be able to wrap my sweet girl up, hold her close and sing her special rainbow song to her? As parents, sometimes we are exhausted by the routine, simply because we are exhausted. We put in long hours and stressful days, and our sweet littles fail to realize that, by the time we finish feeding, bathing, reading, singing, tickling, praying and tucking, we are ready to fall in bed ourselves. For myself, sometimes I battle the desire to forget a skip the story or the song, simply because Im tired, or its late. And on those nights, I hear my little guy asking, "What about song, Mommy?" "What about story?" and I have to wonder, how much longer will he want to ask me that? How much longer will this be special to him? and so I push through, I make the memories, I read the story (with the voices), because I know that in his heart, this is what makes his safe place. This is what makes his house a home. My husband and I always tell our son (and someday our daughter) that he can talk to us about anything. Specifically, my husband has always told my son that they can have special "Man to Man" chats (without Mommy!) whenever he needs. And so, on those rare occasions, when my son requests a Man to Man chat, I pout, but I dutifully stroll out of the room, hearing my little boy giggle with his dad about farts or legos or xbox, or some other "manly" thing, with the knowledge and the hope that someday, because of all those special chats now, when my son really needs a Man to Man chat, his dad will be the first person he turns to. As parents, we are asked to go above and beyond, work long hours, put in effort tirelessly, for demanding, little, peanut butter and jelly covered, runs around with no pants, wrestles and rides the cat, type of "bosses", but this job, even as the most demanding one in the world, is worth every moment. Our family is experiencing a season of change this summer. A preschooler about to be a big kindergardener and a baby about to be a toddler, with each precarious step she attempts to take. Im not sure how many of these special moments we have left. So parents, I encourage you, put on the costumes, build the legos, read the stories (with the voices!), participate in the bedtime prayers, join in the silly every moment of childhood with your littles, because you never know when they'll stop asking for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but you'll always know that is the memory of family, home and love they will keep in their heart. As for me? I'll be singing Twinkle Twinkle every night, maybe for a thousand nights more, as long as he'll let me.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Beautiful Things

Have you ever sat back and watched your life complete what feels like a full circle? I truly believe this is one of God’s greatest Moments of Selah with us…when he gives us the perspective to sit back and rewind with him to see that he had it in his hand the whole time.

 Like watching our favorite movies, we smile with him in the sweet parts, laugh until tears roll down our faces at our stupid mistakes, and cry fresh tears anew when we remember the pain and heartache that season of our lives held for us. We also begin to blot away those tears, or maybe even release new ones of joy, when we see where the circle landed.

I was talking with my husband the other day and half laughing, half feeling the old stings of pain when I think back to where life had us around a year ago. We were about to embark on one of the darkest seasons in our life together as a family and had no idea what was in store for us. A year ago, October 1st, I was blindsided and let go from probably the most destructive company and manager I had ever worked for…and as Satan On Stilettos walked me to my desk and allowed me to gather my belongings, I remember this great heaviness on my heart, as though I had let the world down. I had no control…I, the great list maker, plan writer, sticky note liver by-er, had no idea what life held for my family in the next weeks and months…
If you had told me then that my family would pick up and move to Nashville, that we would leave behind some of the greatest friends we had ever known, that we would also encounter some of the new incredible friends, and experience such a peace in life and a healing in our marriage and family that really passed our understanding, I might have called you crazy and walked away…

…If you had told me I would be pregnant, I would have smacked you first for being so cruel, and then walked away…(this one takes some explanation…stick with me…)

For the last two years, my husband and I, but mostly I, have been struggling with not being able to have another baby…It went from being something we kind of wanted to, something we really wanted, to something I began to hate myself for not being able to accomplish…I took numerous tests every time I was just a couple days late, in the hopes that maybe this time, it wasn’t just a screwed up thyroid gland restricting my cycle from happening…maybe this time, it might actually be a baby…

And this is where we come full circle…almost a year to the day of all that uncertainty, my family has celebrated one of the greatest seasons of peace we have ever known and…we will be celebrating the 2 month birthday of our daughter, Mackenzie Kate Serenity. Some people laugh when they hear this big name for such a little girl, but for our family, it holds so much meaning. Mackenzie Kate is her foundation of strength and a new start…Serenity is for the complete peace we feel as a family, seeing where God has taken us from where we have been. Its almost as if she herself is a celebration for us, in the culmination of the last year. The joy we never expected, but the blessing God chose to give us…

At this time last year, we went to the Catalyst conference on the grace of some very good friends. It was there we saw and fell head over heels with the music of Gungor. Their song, Beautiful Things, has been resonating with us the last year and as we celebrate the birth of Mackenzie, it really rings true as her anthem for life…
"Beautiful Things"

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us…

As we celebrate this October 1st, we’ll know that beautiful things have been made out of our dust…He has made beautiful things out of us…

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Husband's Shoulders

If you've been comfortably married for a few years, like my husband and I have been, you begin to have your own routines. He is a super late night owl with his xbox and guy time and I pretty much turn into a pumpkin if Im not in bed by 11 with my Kindle and a book. So, you can imagine my suprise one evening as we not only made it to bed at the same time, but also, my husband crashed before I did. For some reason, I found myself wide awake and, like every good wife, given some free time to check out my (still adorable) husband while he slept. (I know this may sound creepy, but stick with me...)

For some reason, I was drawn to my husband's shoulders...I have loved those shoulders since we started dating.(See above old school photo!!) He's always had this broad, baseball player build and, Im not gonna lie, they still give me the girly giggles...but tonight, I felt God speaking to me about my husband's shoulders...

I stopped and thought for a moment, what weight is beared on those shoulders...what responsibility as my husband and the father of my child(ren!) I was amazed by the heaviness he must feel sometimes as he works to lead our family spiritually and emotionally throughout our day to day lives. How one or all of us may end up leaning on those shoulders and he is expected to hold us up. How those shoulders have wrestled with our son and sat him upon them, making Gavin feel like the king of the world and his daddy's best buddy. I was completely overwhelmed  by how much our family puts on his shoulders...and so, I began to pray.

I prayed that God would strengthen those shoulders, build them up, make them powerful for the days and challenges to come. I prayed that God would make them comforting, as we held each other through battles and struggles...I prayed that they would be my sanctuary of peace after my long days and a place of love, where our family could lean on them no matter what...

I then began to think further...what about his mind, and the darkness and temptations he faces on a daily basis? What about the thoughts that cross that space every day?

Or what about his mouth, and the things he speaks, that our children will hear. Will they see it as inspiration, love, and building up? Or a fleeting moment of temper that can destroy and tear down. What also about how he engages and speaks to me, using words to deepen our bond and relationship?

What about his hands? How they build and work...His feet? Where they lead and go....His eyes? (Oh Lord, protect his eyes!!)

...In that moment I suddenly felt consumed with praying for each part of my husband and how God uses this man in our lives and in our family's development.

I've always believed there's a special gift in the experience as a wife and mother who prays over her husband and children, but I never stopped to think about how much my husband deals with in his own life, bearing in his own way, so we feel supported and loved...and how he feels as a man when he lets us down. We may feel it for a moment, but how long does he consider those things in his mind and heart? I never stopped to consider each struggle he may face and focusing my prayer in such a way that I truly seek out the full force of God's strength, covering his entire being in protection and love.

It was a powerful experience for me, and, to be honest,  one Im probably not going to do all the time, but when Im feeling the need to pray and dont know where to begin, I think I'll start at my favorite part...

My Husband's Shoulders.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Love Beyond Words, Joy Beyond Understanding

Its no secret to many of our close friends that this little family of ours has had the craziest beginning of  a year job, new house, new town, new baby, new life...and during this transition, God keeps reminding me of an experience with our sweet 4 year old that is one of those moments I will hold forever.

I had just started my new job here in Tennesee...My husband and I made the choicefor him to join me for a week, to help me adjust to my new area and to partner with me in looking for our new home. (Some choices just can't be made alone!) This was big, however, because this was the first time either of us had left our little man for more than 3 days...this was 10 days away...hearts hurt on both sides, for sure...

We made the phone calls, had the face time, sent messages and pictures of our new home options...did everything we could to make our son feel connected to us during the move...He's still convinced he picked the house...(Dont tell him otherwise, we'd like to let him have that thought for a while..=) But it was still the hardest thing not having those sweet hugs and snuggles every day. Nothing makes me smile more than a (usually pantless, but rocking some form of superhero undies) 4 year old running to greet me every time I came home, exploding with details about his day.

Before we left, we read this book, "I love you more..." We began having a little family game of "I love you more than..." It started out sweetly, like, " I love you more than all the stars in the sky". (but because we are a sarcastic family, it became more like, I love you more than all the farts in Papa's butt...Yeah, that always makes us giggle...sorry, Papa.) Our family, no matter what, cant seem to pass the day without telling each other randomly that we love each other. Its something my husband and I have always done since we were dating, and its something we've tried to build into the character of our never know a day where he is not loved.

Well, rewind back to us being was a Friday night and I had to make my first company appearance at a party. We had hoped to get home to our little guy sooner, but, we drove all through the night to get home to him. Arriving to my parents place around 2 am, we couldnt resist...we had to sneak in for some hugs and kisses.

Our sleepyheaded sweetheart rolled over, and through the dreams, realized that Mommy and Daddy were FINALLY home!! He gushed out what were the most adorable giggles and happy laughs. His little arms kept hugging us both and he jumped from lap to lap...It was almost like he was so overjoyed to see us that he couldnt formulate the words fast enough to keep up with the joy in his heart.

This "Love Beyond Words" experience was so beautiful for me as a mother...the joy we felt in being reunited as a family...I could physically feel it growing in my heart.

...and it's a feeling and mentality I never want to forget...

Being a career mommy, I have to work and travel a lot. Sometimes it sucks. But Im never so excited as I am running home to have those sweet hugs and greetings from my (often pantsless) superhero. It makes the work and struggles more worthwhile, knowing I have that kind of love waiting for me at home.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

We Wish You a Merry ChristMESS...

It's that time of year...

Commercials start rolling, offering sales at the speed of light. Every year the length of Thanksgiving getting shorter by the hour, meanwhile Black Friday has practically turned into the first 36 hour day in history. The ads actually have the courage to say "One for You and One for Me" this year...You know who you are, Target...

Its also the time of year when, as a wife and a mother, a panic attack sets make the cookies or not to make the cookies...

Does that present have a big enough bow? Does that bow have a big enough flourish? and does my Secret Santa at work get the nice paper or the cheap paper?

Do I have all the lists of what everyone wants prepared? Can I decorate my house with a flair that would make Martha Stewart turn as green as the Grinch and then some?

White Elephant...Ugly Sweater...Traditional Caroling...Have I accepted  every invitation possible?

Have I sentenced my husband to the purgatory of untangling and stringing up the lights, setting out the lawn Santa and every other decoration I could find, thereby beating Stan from across the street with a National Lampoon Christmas Vacation style?

Is this really Christmas? And why have we allowed it to become such a...Mess?

You know, the first Christmas was messy too. But there weren't lawn Santas, White Elephants, or Snowmen that talked. There wasnt even a single late night sale...But there was an event that you wouldnt want to miss...

Late one night, a husband travelled with his pregnant wife on a donkey, his heart filled with the stress of being new father...coupled with a terrifying journey across mountains and out of the eyes of bandits. You arrive in a town, crowded to capacity, when your nervous bride, wide-eyed, tells you "it's time".

Did I mention, she was a virgin and this child wasnt even really his? He was told by an angel to accept this woman and so, he did...Now, that's messy.

Even messier still, you hunt for a room for your beloved, and all you can find is a stable...and not like the sweet Nativity you fight your sister over putting up every year. This one had real animals with smells and noises and...stuff... all their own.

In this Mess, the message of Grace was born. In this chaos, the Savior of Love and Peace entered into the world. Through one sweet child, millions of sinful men will be saved.

The message of Christmas is messy enough. So why do we add our own mess to it?

Traditions are beautiful and should be treasured.The giving and receiving of gifts is wonderful. But these things should never take the place of the of celebration the gift that was given to save the world.

What are you celebrating first in your heart this holiday season? Will your family have a Merry CHRISTmas or a ChristMESS?

Start a new tradition this year. Put in a little more Christ and don't worry so much about the Mess.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Power of a Praying Mimi

In our family, faith has been a cornerstone. It wasnt something that we randomly picked up. It was something that was embedded in our lives from the very beginning....and my Mimi, my grandmother, made sure of that.

Throughout my life, Mimi has been an unshakeable spiritual foundation, a go getter, a lover, a fighter, a leader, a true example of a lady and one of the most special people in my life. There's a popular cliche that states "I want to be the kind of woman that when my feet hit the ground in the morning, Satan says, oh crap, she's up"...My Mimi makes Satan drop the f-bomb and go into hiding.

As one of 7 granddaughters, Mimi told us early on that each of us got our own day of the week that she would bathe us in prayer. Mine was Tuesdays, and for some reason, I never forgot it. I always knew that, at any given point on a Tuesday, my grandmother was lifting me up in prayer to the Almighty God. It's a powerful thing.

I can remember on one particular Tuesday, before the job loss and the current crazyness of my life, I was feeling completely burdened. My husband had a job offer he wasn't sure he should take, we had this great house in front of us that I was crazy for, but weren't 100% sure we should move into, my job was completely taxing and draining to my family and spiritual life, and I just remembered, it's my, I called my Mimi. I poured out my whirlwind story to her about where we are in life, what hurts and what I had expressed to the Lord so many times in my own personal prayers...but I needed to call in reinforcements...I needed the prayers of my Mimi.

I can remember her, in her wisdom, saying that she would pray as I asked, but would also ask that God give us clarity as we allowed him to direct our path. She sent me emails with scriptures specifically for those who wait...and now as I look back on that moment, Im floored...

Since that time, I've lost the job that sucked the joy out of life, but I've been offered one that circles exactly my career dream. We didnt get the house I really wanted, but now we have the chance to get a really great one in Nashville, where my new job is. My husband turned down the job offer, even though we didnt know what would happen, and now, my new salary provides him the chance to chase the passions God has placed in his heart. Who knew, when I asked my Mimi to pray alongside me, that the Lord would answer prayers so powerfully...I never could have seen this coming, but Im raising my arms in praise the whole way....

When I grow up, I hope I'm half the woman my Mimi is. I hope someday my children and my grandchildren will come to me and look to me for counsel the way we look to her. Her legacy is cherished now and for many years to come.