I AM TIRED OF DOING HARD THINGS!

So it’s been a hot minute since I have posted. I have been totally immersed in our high schools spring musical. I was hired to do the choreography by the new theater teacher. I have been loving every single minute of it. I have worked on multiple dance numbers, formations and stage directions. I started at the end of February and this week was tech week. Tonight our show was opening! It has been crazy, exhausting, and has filled my heart with so much joy. Joy that I didn’t know I was missing until these new (and some I have known and worked with before) teenagers came into my life. Joy that dancing has brought me since I was 3 but a pandemic took away. But it has also been filled with lots of hard things…

I’m tired of doing hard things. I’m tired of our kids continually getting things taken away, cancelled, or postponed. I am tired of life constantly hurling one bad thing after another. I’m tired of continually telling our kids that things will get better and then they get worse. I am tired for our dear teachers and administrators who are putting their hearts, souls and hard work into our children and then have to constantly be the ones that have to be bearers of bad news. Tonight should have been opening night of a fabulous show for an amazing cast of kids who have worked tirelessly to perfect their performances. Instead, we were all sent home. Storms coming into our area were too severe to warrant our having anyone in our school buildings. Even attempting to do so with the tornados warnings would have put our children, faculty, staff and audience members potentially at risk for a disaster. These storms have already proven deadly and have caused significant damage in Alabama. I completely understand the reasoning behind sending everyone home. But the timing of these storms could not have been any worse. This cast of kids has endured leads being contact traced and kept home for 2 weeks. We have had kids have to learn remotely for brief periods of time for various reasons. We have had injuries, costume catastrophes, missed cues, lighting disasters, sound debacles and tears. Understudies have stepped in and stepped up to make sure rehearsals ran consistently, not knowing if they were playing the part they were cast in or their understudy role. They never complained once. They had amazing attitudes throughout it all. These kids not only star on the stage, but have an entire crew that has built and painted sets, sewn, shopped and borrowed costumes, run sound and lights, and call and run the entire show! Opening night was sold out!! We weren’t even given approval to sell our in person tickets until Monday!!! And then we got cancelled! All this excitement, anticipation and hard work was suddenly replaced with disappointment, sadness, frustration and some anger.

Tonight our shows theater director and fearless leader held it together while she watched these children deflate as the school administrator shut us down and sent us home. She immediately went in to scramble mode to began to pick up the pieces. She never faltered. She continued to encourage them and did what she could to keep morale up. But inside I know she was hurting so much. She is so invested in these kids and in what she does, and it shows! She stayed behind to make sure everyone was out safely, and all students were picked up and headed to a safe place.

Tomorrow, good lord willing, we will have our opening night. I have to remember that God is in this. I don’t understand the reasoning behind any of this. There is so much that I don’t have answers too. I do know that God opened this door for me to be a part of this gloriously talented group of high schoolers. I know that they will be phenomenal when that curtain opens and the lights hit their happy faces. I want them to feel the energy of an audience. The thrill of the applause. The joy and exhilaration when the curtain closes after bows. The proud family members who come to see them and show their support and give kudos for their performance’s. I want them to experience every aspect of live theater. They deserve it. They have worked for it. They have earned it.

If I have learned anything during this pandemic, it is to enjoy the little things. To be in the moments. Because in an instant it can all be taken away from us. This life will continue to throw hard things at us. We will never be immune to that. I know it is hard to think like this when it feels like our lives are constantly being cancelled. Today, I came home with sagging shoulders and a heavy heart. I pouted for myself, for the kids and for the teachers and families. This life is stupid hard somedays. I am thankful that we are all safe at home. We can all rest and be fresh for a new opening night. Tomorrow I look forward to seeing all those shining faces (even when they are behind masks). I can’t wait to see them perform and do what they love. I can’t wait to hear the applause and roar of the audience. I can not wait for tomorrow to come.

God never promises us that life will be easy, in fact, he tells us it will be hard. I will not lose hope. I will not allow the troubles of this world to steal my joy!

John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

A Final Love

The final day of February brings the final day of my self love blog. That doesn’t mean I won’t continue blogging. I am just going to focus on a weekly blog. No one really wants to read my thoughts everyday. I do however, really try and share what God has placed on my heart. This is a platform for me to help anyone who needs it. Sometimes the ideas come through my quiet time or reflection. Other times it is directed by something we are dealing with or going through in the moment. Things are constantly changing around here. One moment we are smooth sailing. The next we are in total chaos. We just try and live minute to minute. Our lives have been filled with many blessings. It has also been filled with many challenges, heart ache, and tears. We have watched our children grow into teenagers together. Become referees to fights, and hurts between them. We have sought counseling for those that have needed it. We have loved them through some very hard moments. We have celebrated some wonderful victories and accomplishments. We have challenged them, encouraged them, and loved them through a lot. We will not stop doing that as they grow. We know their needs from us will change and evolve through the years. We will never stop being their parents, no matter where they are in age, location, or sin. The moment I became a parent I understood God’s unconditional love for us immediately. It was a love that I had not yet known. I had experienced it from my own parents, but understanding it from that parent side, brought a whole new meaning to it. Raising children into teenagers, I understand how God sometimes just has to sit and wait for us to wake up and realize that we need His help. We often think we can do it ourselves, much like our children, and even when we are striving to be independent, asking for help does not make us less of a person. It does not make us weak or incapable. It makes us human. We all need help. Plus, doing life total alone would be a very sad existence in my opinion.

This final entry on self love will not mean an end to me doing things that make me feel better about myself. I will continue to try and be more intentional in my days and in my actions. I will keep pushing and fighting to be a healthier version of me. I will continue to build myself up and not believe the lies of this world, that I am not enough. I will refuse to accept that I am not worthy of the best life has to offer. We are all enough. We are all worthy of the best. Whether it’s in your job, your marriage, your relationships, your health, or your life in general. You deserve it all. God wants nothing but the best for us. Our downfall often times is our own free will. But just because we have made bad choices, doesn’t mean God walks away from us. It doesn’t mean our life is over and that we cannot get back on track. We can survive our bad decisions and come out even better on the other side of them if we do it correctly. Our choices don’t define us, but what we learn and become from those choices does. Make the change. Be the change. Learn from the change. Your path is directed by your choices. Chose that path based on what outcomes you desire. Overcome your mistakes and bad decisions. Chose the path God wants for you. Follow His desire for you by asking Him to show you the way. He wants you to just ask. He will open doors, close doors and bring people into your life to help you become who and what He wants you to be. Just be open and willing to heed His call and follow His will.

We finished off this day with a glorious with some charcuterie and wine outside on the back patio. Followed by an evening of grilling out. No, I did not do the fancy dinner on the fancy dishes. I could not bring myself (or Matt), to have to come in from this gorgeous afternoon to be inside cooking. So instead we did a family favorite and Matt grilled his famous burgers. It was a perfect afternoon and evening. Tomorrow the rain will arrive and we will be in the midst of another school and work week. I have a plan in place for my dishes this week. If I have learned nothing else at being a mom of 5, it’s that I have to be flexible. We had an extra for dinner tonight, which we love. So burgers and Mac and cheese for the win! Happy teens, happy parents, yard work done, choreography worked on, bedrooms cleaned, kitchen cleaned and we are ready for a new week. Hopeful in all that lies ahead.

I hope you all have enjoyed this journey of self love with me this month. I pray you find hope, and joy in the midst of this crazy life we are all living. Please subscribe to my blog so that you can become a part of this journey with me. I am honored that you are reading this and thus becoming part of my inner circle. God has truly opened my heart to this and I want nothing more than to honor Him in my living, loving and writing. Thank you all for being in this with me.

1 John 4:12 "No one has ever seen God: but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us."

A Fancy Love

We have been super spoiled this week with here in Georgia with a taste of spring time. The sun has been shining, the birds are singing, flowers are beginning to bud. It is my favorite season. Spring awakens me in a way like no other season. I see the newness of life bursting forth from the earth. The colors of springtime are bright and vibrant and beautiful. After the gray days of winter, with the short days, naked trees and dead flora all around, the new birth of spring brings me much joy! Spring is a fancy season in my opinion. All the blooming flowers make the world feel fancier to me

Matt and the twins began to prep our yard for spring. (Joe was working, otherwise her would have been out there too!) Matt trimmed our rose bushes and shrubs. We got all the trimmings cleaned and a burn pile ready when the weather is right for it. We saw birds trying to find nesting spots, two tried and got stuck on the back porch, we had to rescue them. I am ready to get my hummingbird feeders set out. They will be returning soon. We have several days of rain ahead, but February is almost over and the days are getting longer. The sun is getting warmer, I can feel and hear the awakening of all the life surrounding us. We live in the south, so spring comes early for us. However, I am more than aware that we always get a nice tease of spring and then we always seem to get one more bitter blast of winter before it finally goes away completely.

Today I set my dining room table for spring with dishes from Matt’s parents. Dishes that were a fine treasure to them. They never used them, that I know of. We found them tucked up high on a top shelf in the cabinets so no one would be able to reach them for daily use. They were special dishes. They were very proud to own such fancy china. They are beautiful! They have a gold band around the edge and a dogwood pattern on them. These particular dishes were made in Occupied Japan, which makes them a bit more rare and exotic. I was very honored to have gotten these dishes, I know what they meant to Matt’s mom. We now have several sets of “fancy” dishes. I enjoy setting up our dining room for each season and holiday. We rarely use our dining room, but I love having it ready for whatever reason. I always wanted a formal dining room with a china cabinet to display our fine wares! When I married Matt I got one.

These dishes made me think of the things we often don’t use and save for a special occasion. Why is that? I understand the concept of not wanting to break things, or ruin them but let’t be honest. What is the point in having nice or special things if we never actually use or enjoy them? So I have decided that tomorrow I will serve Sunday dinner on those fancy dishes in our dining room. I will take great care and hand wash them after and return them to make my table beautiful again, but I want to enjoy the use of these. I want to sit around the table with my family and create a memory. Once upon a time Sunday dinners were a normal occurrence for a lot of families. I think we should bring that back. Yes, we have eaten a lot of family meals during quarantine and the pandemic, but tomorrow I want to use her dishes. I want to make it special. I want to remind our kids of the special meaning of these dishes, but even more, remind them of the grandparents that we have been unable to see because of the pandemic. They are in an assisted living home now and our visitations are very limited and have been shut down more than once. We don’t want the kids around them since they are around people at school. It is just one more thing that Corona has taken away from us. They are in the winter of life. Our kids still have many years ahead of them, as do we. (We hope!) We are never promised tomorrow, so make the most of today. I hope they too will hold onto this memory. I am trying so hard to create memories for our kids that they will take with them into adulthood. Moments that they can return to down the road that will bring them joy.

My self love today was setting my spring table. It may seem odd to some. But I really enjoy it and it is something that is all my own. I loved thinking of Matt’s mom while I set my table with her dishes. Remembering how she loved her things. How she loved a beautiful table and delicious food. How she loved, loved, loved her grandchildren, and actually all children. Dementia may have taken her memory and her mind, but it cannot take away our memories.

Those of you who are still in the yuck of winter and cold, add some spring to your home to brighten things up! It will help your lighten heart and bring you some joy. Find something to put out in your house that makes you happy. Use something that you have been saving for a special day, because you can make any day a special day. Use it. Don’t hide it away up on a shelf or in a closet. Enjoy it!

A Grieving Love

This whole blog journey began many years ago. I first started using Caring Bridge in 2010 to keep family and friends across the country updated with the cancer journey that Adam and I were traveling. After losing him in 2011, I began this blog in January 2012. I was watching marriages dissolve and families being torn apart by divorce. It angered me to my core! I didn’t get to fight for my marriage. I didn’t have a choice in my loss. Cancer took it! How could these people just walk away from their commitments to one another? I just could not understand the why’s. I began to think of all the regrets I had in my own marriage. Moments I could never get back. Silly little things like, greeting him with a hug after he returned from work. Laughing more together. Not being so serious all the time. Not trying to make everything a perfect memorable moment But instead just be in that moment. Taking more time to “date” one another after we married and had kids. Appreciating the moments we had together even if it was just snuggling up on the couch watching movies. To remember the importance of just saying I love you. I didn’t get the chance to try and rekindle things if they got really hard. To not let the little things become big things. To remind myself that just because it wasn’t being done my way, didn’t mean it was the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, we had our own marital issues, as all couples do. But cancer put so many aspects of marriage and relationships into a whole new perspective for me. It was something valuable, beautiful and absolutely worth fighting for every single day! I was really struggling with my grief and was so lost when I began blogging. I needed a way to connect with anyone who was wiling to read what I had to say about love. I had 3 small children, my faith and my close family. I didn’t know where to go to find any kind of healing beyond God and my family. I didn’t want to do counseling at that time, or a grief group for widows and widowers. I was 36, what did I possibly have in common with anyone older than me going through losing their spouse. No one could walked the same journey I had. Mine was harder. (At least in my mind that was all the truth). Truth is, no one understands losing a spouse unless they have lost one. All that I did know was that my faith and my kids were the only things that kept me going. I truly felt that others needed to be reminded how to love each other. Because once you lose the love of your life, you realize how precious and fleeting life and love actually are. So I began this blog to help the healing process of my own heart. Hopefully I was going to encourage others to remember how to show love to those they had in their lives.

Unbeknownst to me Matt was reading this very blog! He was one of those people going through a divorce that broke my already broken heart. He was my friend. He too had small children. He too was alone unexpectedly becoming a single father who was having to balance it all. He too was grieving a loss. It was a different kind of loss, but losing a marriage is also something to grieve. He was hurting, his children were hurting. We were all hurting! I knew hurt. He says that my show love challenge was what made him fall in love with me! Who knew!!! Well God did.

I needed people to appreciate what they had, or who they had. I needed them to fight for marriages and children and families. I had to see love prevail. I know that God is love, yet I saw love failing all around me. I was struggling with just making sure my kids felt loved, but I really needed to know that I was still worthy of love too. I was painting a picture of what I wanted love to be for me if I ever found it again, outside of God. I wanted to share how I felt loved, showed love, gave love and accepted love. I wanted to remind myself to love my children in all those ways too. It was also a reminder of God’s love for us. Writing this blog helped me to find a love that I never expected. One that I never saw coming. I had resigned to do this life alone and be content in that. I had God, my babies, and my family. I didn’t want to settle for anything or anyone that wasn’t from God. I had a specific list of requirements for falling in love and getting married again. I never expected God to fulfill that list with every single item checked off! Why I ever doubt what God can do I will never know. I guess it’s my human nature. I can assure you though, that He gave me more than I could have ever imagined. He healed my heart, and my children’s hearts. He healed Matt’s heart and his children’s hearts too. We were all broken when we came into this marriage and newly blended family. Little did we know how we would heal one another. God brought us together as a family and even through our trials and struggles as a family, He has remained faithful. Matt and I have a different appreciation for love, marriage and faith after what we each went through.We feel like our children do too. We have loved and lost. We have grieved and rejoiced. We have found beauty from ashes. We have sown many tears and are now reaping so much joy. Joy ordained by God.

Today I am praying for those that are grieving. Grief comes in all shapes and sizes. It comes in ebbs and flows. It is hard, heavy and sometimes all consuming. Loss comes in many ways too. It can be from death, the end of a marriage or relationship. It can be from losing a loved one to dementia or mental health diseases that steal them away. It can be from loss of a job or something else important to you. Loss is loss. There are no definitions or rules to loss and grief. We all have to deal with it in our own way. No one way is right or wrong. We all have to move forward in our grief though. Do not become stuck in one phase of it. You must keep going. If you can only accomplish one thing each day that helps you, do it. Keep it up. Grief will never go away completely. It is always with us like our shadow. Some days it is easier to see than others, but it is always there. We can hold onto hope though because we know that one day we will all be restored wholly and completely with Jesus. Those we have lost through death and disease will be waiting to greet us in heaven. Hold on to that hope as you walk your personal journey through grief. God is walking it with you and so am I.

Find some laughter in your day. Laugh often. It is the best remedy I have come across for me. Matt makes me laugh every single day. It is one of his goals. And he rarely if ever fails at it. We usually laugh multiple times in a day. Our kids make us laugh often as well. We laugh at our pets, funny videos, movies or books. We find laughter to be a regular occurrence in this house. Our family in general is full of laughter. Don’t ever mess up around us, we will never let you forget it! HA! Especially wedding vow slip ups. Roll down a hill in a tire swing, or dive bomb on a trampoline. Fling a flaming marshmallow onto your flip flopped foot. If minced meat is stacked up at Harry’s for $2.99. Or you begin to sing along with a soloist A cappella, loudly and off key. We have been known to giggle uncontrollably at funerals, gravesides and other inappropriate places. We have laughed until tears stream down our faces and our stomachs hurt. You can’t be too serious around here. you are it never lasts too long. Todays self love comes in the form of laughter. The weather may be gray and rainy here, but inside I have already laughed many times today! Go find something funny in your life. If you need suggestions I will gladly give you some! Be happy today! Live, laugh, and love! Laughter truly is the best medicine.

*This photo is probably one of my all time most favorite pictures of my sisters and I. Photo credits to my mom, and who know what we were laughing about.

Proverbs 17:22 "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. 

Job 8:21 "He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy."

A Laid Back Love

The twins got their drivers permits a couple of weeks ago and they are chomping at the bit to learn how to drive. The kids and I have all agreed that Matt teaching the kids how to drive is not a good idea for any of us. He gets stresses out, he is a tad impatient, may be a bit of a worrier, and it just freaks him out! I am a bit more laid back and don’t freak out when they don’t turn soon enough or turn into oncoming traffic! Our first outing was the day they received their permits. I have already done this with the 2 older ones, so I have a pretty good system down now. Our church has an amazing parking lot that is large, spread out and has minimal traffic during the day. After begging for several days since I returned from our trip I promised them that if I didn’t take them today, I would give them both twenty bucks! Haha! I just didn’t have it in me. I had been so busy and let’s be real when I say, you need to be in a certain mindset to get behind the wheel with not one, but two new drivers. Thankfully I prepped myself all day and after picking up the middle schooler, we went driving for round two. I didn’t have to fork over forty dollars either! Back to the church we went. We are not ready for the real road yet! I got a little bit of a kick out of how I realized that all 4 of our drivers drive similar to their personalities. One is super independent, doesn’t like messing up, likes to figure things out on her own, and doesn’t like being told what to do. But she is cautious and not a huge risk taker. She hated being “taught” how to drive. One is super logical, takes things for what they are, is a rule follower, never thinks he is at fault, and is a bit of a goofball. He listened to all my instructions and took everything seriously. Now the twins, our calm, laid back, super competitive, risk averse, slow moving, rational, always cautious, but often unaware of their surroundings children. They drive just like that, slow, precise, and a bit of over thinking! The funniest part about today was how serious they both are behind the wheel. One accelerates a bit too hard and the other breaks too hard. No one hit a curb today, and they both got in-between the lines in the parking spots. They both want to be good at it and neither wants to mess up. They both need some serious parking practice, or they will take out 3-5 vehicles on pulling in and out of the parking lots! As soon as we are done with their lesson, they immediately want to know who was better. They crack me up. And I love them! We are making progress with their driving skills and their confidence levels behind the wheel. I’m not sure when exactly I will let them on an actual road yet, but maybe another parking lot! Haha! I will say that I quietly stress out when they drive. I hate it still when the oldest two are out driving. It is a worry like no other. It is super hard to let them go out on their own. I am learning. By the time the youngest is driving I guess I’ll be a professional driving instructor. I am also certain that I will have lots more gray hair to cover!

Today made me love the way the twins are so laid back in their love for others. It reminded me how God loves us in a very laid back and calm kind of way. He never pushes us or demands anything from us. He is never loud and bossy. He lets us come to Him in our own time. Some of us sooner than others. But He just sits and patiently waits on us. Some of us run to Him with open arms and welcome Him into our lives without questions or doubt. Some of us are a bit more independent and don’t want to be forced into faith. Some of us run in the opposite direction because we don’t think we deserve that kind of love. It takes all different time frames for all kinds of people. I urge you to run to Him with open arms. Allow Him to love you completely without doubt. If you are struggling to let Him in, I encourage you to take that step. It is not a life filled with rules of can and cannot. It is a beautiful life filled with blessings, peace, hope and joy. If you don’t think you deserve His love, I am here to tell you that none of us deserve it. But He doesn’t give it because we deserve it. He gives it because we don’t! His love is unfailing. His love is full of grace and mercy. His love is perfect! Let Him love you and love Him in return. You will never regret that choice. He is waiting for you. Just call to Him and He will be there!

Ephesians 3:18-19 "And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."

Love Gone Amuck

Well it happened! Life got the best of me and I haven’t kept up with my daily blogs for the last several days. After our amazing trip looking at colleges, and having a grand time, we drove home Sunday and I was utterly exhausted! Knowing I had to be up and working on choreography to teach Monday and Tuesday afternoon and catching up on normal every day household tasks, I have not stopped. This morning we spent several hours at urgent care with the youngest who has sprained her ankle and is currently on crutches! (Not on either of our agenda’s, but very thankful it was not worse.) I still have a suitcase half full of items from our trip. My desk is cluttered with all sorts of things I need to go through or put away. My laundry is close to overflowing. I need to go to the grocery store because everything I have made this week has been a compilation of whatever I can find in our pantry and freezer to create a meal. My front room has been converted into a temporary dance studio for creative purposes. I haven’t done my morning quiet time in several days. And after missing lunch due to the wait at urgent care, we drove through for fast food! I have yet to shower, and I didn’t put on one bit of make up!

I have gotten lots of hugs and attention from the kids I left home with their dad. I have had some great moments of great resourcefulness using what is in our pantry and freezer to feed our family and not leaving it to go bad. I enjoyed last nights dinner on the back porch, in February, with friends who have a kitchen that is currently not accessible due to a home improvement project. I have kids and a husband who have been doing their own laundry so there isn’t an empty washer or dryer for mine. I have choreographed and taught not one but two numbers for the show Curtains that I am very proud of. I have gotten a decent amount of exercise thanks to said teaching, and my body feels every bit of that today. I have insurance that paid for an urgent care visit, x-rays and the crutches. I have gotten to enjoy the glorious Georgia weather this afternoon on my back patio while currently writing this blog post. I am soaking in all the Vitamin D I can before the sun goes down. And most importantly I have done my evening devotional each night at bedtime, even if it is shorter and not as in depth, I have spent some time reading His word. Hats are perfect for dirty hair days, thankful I have a collection of them.

Life often makes us feel like everything has run amuck! I am choosing to find the joy that is surrounding all the things I have not accomplished. One of my fabulous sister-in-loves sent our family girls text a beautiful post written by Lysa TerKeurst today. She is one of my favorite authors. It was to remind us that no matter how much or how little we accomplish in a day, it does not define our worth. We are more than our accomplishments and check lists. We are loved, chosen, worthy and cherished by God regardless of our activities, plans, tasks, and production levels. He gives all of us His love and our worth in Him freely. There is not a task list or plan we must follow and accomplish. We are worthy of His love if we succeed at it all, or fail at it all. There are no strings or conditions that are attached to His unconditional love.

Today I hope you checked off everything on your to do list. I hope you feel loved. I hope you feel worthy. I made my list this morning and got some items checked off. I will admit there are more empty boxes than checked ones. But I am not going to beat myself up over what is not done. I will gladly check off in big bright colorful check marks what is done, because those make me happy. I can get to the other items later. They will still be there to work on tomorrow. I was thankful for the reminder that those check marks or empty boxes do not determine my worth. Lists make me happy and completing lists feels amazing. Even when life throws us curve balls that we don’t plan for, we can still find the joy. It’s there. Look for it. Find it. Sit in it. You will begin to feel Gods love!

Ephesians 2:8-9 "For it is my grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast."

*Thanks Grammy for the verse for today! 

A Season of Love

This mornings college tour took us to Florida Southern in Lakeland. This is where my college roommate grew up. I have spent time there in years past. I was excited to show the beautiful lake front college. It was a smaller campus and several buildings were built by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Write. Very modern lines and amazing facilities on their campus. New construction is ongoing which always says good things to me regarding growth and their future incoming students. They have some really neat programs and ways to get involved.

We had a good time, very informational and I am enjoying seeing her get excited about college. It is good to see her decide what she likes and doesn’t like. Getting a feel for campus life and size. What is important to her and what is not. I forgot what this was like when I was going through this process at her age. Okay, let’s be honest, I didn’t want to go to college, I wanted to be a Rockette! Thank the sweet Lord my mother prayed me into college! That college is where I met my life long best friend. She no longer lives in that area, but her parents do. I was so happy to see her mom today. We were able to meet up for lunch. It was like going back in time! I felt like I did at 18 being with her again! She is the sweetest lady and we were so glad our meet up worked out. In todays covid times, we weren’t sure we would be able to get together. But it all worked out. We got to catch up and share stories. I love more than anything that these people have been in my life (though not as much as I would like) for nearly 30 years. My roommate and I were placed together by God! He knew we would need each other both at college and after. We were in one anothers weddings. She came to be there for me when Adam died. She has always been just a phone call away. No matter how much time passes between seeing each other, or phone calls, it is like no time has passed. We pick right back up where we left off! Her friendship has been such a blessing to me.

People come in our lives for a season sometimes. Some people remain life long friends who regardless of how much time passes between visits or phone calls, we pick right back up where we left off. It is like we have never been apart. Some people we have to say goodbye to and let them go forever. Sometimes it is hard, other times it is easy. Some are by choice and some are not. Seasons come and go, so do friendships, relationships, and children.

I know that this trip with the one who first made me a mom has been filled with beautiful moments. We have had some much needed time together. I know she is only with me for a season and that this season is quickly coming to an end. My job as her mom is to raise her up in the way she should go and send her out into the world to become the person God has planned for her to become. We only have a short time to parent our children. It is crucial that we invest in them and in their future. The days are long but the years are short. We have toured, tanned, giggled, danced, sung, eaten pizza and cheesecake in our beds while watching Americas Next Top Model. We have found adventure, gotten lost, found fun new places, and discussed a multitude of things. I will be sad to see this trip come to an end. I will cherish the memories we have made during this time together. She is not only my daughter, but also my friend.

Proverbs 29:7 "A good friend refreshes the soul."

A Perspective of Love

Today was fabulous! We spent the morning touring the beautiful campus of The University of Tampa. We fell in love with the campus, but not the price tag! Y’all college is crazy expensive! We have 5 planning on going to college. I think I need a new career just to help pay for it! But back to the point here…This amazing campus is smack in the downtown area of Tampa. It backs up to the River Walk on the Hillsborough River. But you do not feel like you are in the middle of a city at all. The campus is so intimate and green, with huge old Spanish moss dripping trees. I didn’t take nearly enough photos of the campus, but we were busy listening, looking, and just being in the moment.

Being there made me start to think about perspective in our lives. Especially with social media being in our faces all the time. We spend so much time trying to create these perfect life moments. When in reality, everything around us is a gigantic disaster. The girl with the most perfect photos, may have the lowest self esteem. The mom with the perfect instagram account, may be in a horrible or abusive marriage. We never will know what is the reality of those perfect photos. We do all know that no one on this planet is perfect, nor do they have a perfect life. We all have issues, faults, we all have failures and messes. Why do we allow others to make us feel inferior or insignificant? Why do we let that make us try to create some false impression of who we are and how we are perceived? Life is too short to be phony!

This morning we were on a college campus in the middle of a city that felt like a story book that went back in time. This afternoon we sat on our private beach at our hotel on the Tampa Bay working on our tans. We literally are right beside a busy highway with pretty abundant and loud traffic. I went on a walk on a gorgeous water side pathway across from our hotel this evening. On one side there was ocean water, amazing birds, trees, and boats. On the other side, was the highway. Some areas smelled really bad, there was tons of trash that had washed onto the rocks and hung off the low hanging branches. This whole day was about what perspective I chose to look at and take in. I opted not to focus on the large city buildings and traffic all around us (but not through, no through streets are on the gorgeous bricked paved streets of UT). I focused on the astounding architecture from the 1800’s, the oldest building in Tampa. Hand carved doors and curved ceilings, hand painted murals astounding statues. The ancient trees draped in moss, colorful blooming trees in vibrant greens, yellows, reds and purples. I focused on the excitement of my daughter seeing the potential future she may chose. I looked at and took in all the beauty around me. I saw all the not so pretty things, but they were not what I wanted to focus on.

Today, I hope you chose your perspective based on your reality, not the phony reality you want everyone else to see, but the beautiful reality that is around you. Your life is beautiful, worth living, worth love and an important part of our world! You are significant! Your perspective is important to show. Chose the beauty, or chose the ugly but be real. I am posting pictures of my actual moments, view from our room, and views from my walk. Each one of these one is looking to the left and one is looking to the right. And one of our beautiful girl, just because! Pick your perspective, look right, look left, or look forward, but never look back!

Galatians 1:10 "Am I trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people. I would not be a servant of Christ."  

A Missed Love

I DIDN’T BLOG YESTERDAY!!!! Not because I didn’t think about it, but because I was running around like a crazy woman getting everything ready to go out of town for a few days with our oldest daughter to tour colleges, in Florida! We ran, well drove 7 hours south into sunshine and warmer temperatures. We have 3 colleges to tour while we are here, and a little visit with the boyfriend to see him play lacrosse. They haven’t seen one another since he left for college after Christmas break. Young love, it is such a sweet thing. The eagerness and anticipation of them seeing one another brought me joy to see them reunite tonight. That is something that we all forget as we age and are together for long periods of time, we forget to get excited to see one another. Especially during Covid times. We are all together a lot. Matt typically travels for work but he has been officially grounded for almost a whole year, with no future travel in site, work wise. He is getting antsy. He thrives in his job when he is going on trips and visiting clients. I have a love/hate relationship of his work travel. I hate to see him leave, I love having him return. But over the duration of our marriage it kept that spark of that new or young love feeling that you got in high school and college. Whenever you were away for any amount of time, it made coming back to one another so much sweeter. Remember that spark, be happy to see them just come back into the room!

This is my 3rd trip during Covid. My first trip back in August was for total self love! Matt sent me off to recharge my batteries, 4 days of alone time, at the beach for this introvert was pure bliss! My trip last month was to Orlando to help entertain my 91 year old grandfather who went to Disney with my cousins, aunt and uncle. He just needed someone to hang out with during the day while they were in the parks. I volunteered as tribute to go swap places with my mom who needed to come back sooner than originally planned. Now we are in Tampa and tomorrow after our morning college tour, we are going to be soaking up some 80 degree weather and some serious sunshine! I cannot wait!!! (Sorry for those of you in freezing temps and snow and ice! Be safe and stay warm!) Self love is a real need. I will be experiencing lots of it in the sun while we are in Florida. I will also be focusing some much needed and long overdue 1 on 1 time with the eldest daughter. I know her time at home is fleeting and she will soon be off into the world on her own. I’m not sure I am really ready for that, but ready or not it’s coming. God has reminded me a lot lately that they are only mine for a season. This season is hard, beautiful, sweet and salty! The teenage years are a challenge in many ways. But my prayer is that each one of our 5 teens grow into outstanding men and women, who love Jesus, and can take care of themselves! It is what I have spent their entire lives preparing them for. Just ask them about the chore chart, they will gladly tell you all the life skills we work on at home!

I am very thankful that Matt see’s these moments of self love and time away with just 1 child as important. I am also very thankful for his hotel points and rewards! They are very useful in my little run aways. They are also extra fun when we get to run away together. I am looking forward to full on travel mode again one day, hopefully sooner rather than later. Family vacations and time with Matt are my favorite memories. It’s time to create some more before they all grow up and move away!

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

A Love of Self…A Selfish Love

Here is what I have been pondering today…Is self love a selfish love? Spent a lot of time today thinking about people I know and have met throughout my life. They all have come in many different packages. I have known some of the most kind, selfless people! I have also known the most selfish people. I tend not to keep super selfish people in my life if I can avoid them. There is a toxicity in some relationships that are not healthy to be a part of. I have had to learn to set boundaries with people like that. Some more extreme than others. I have seen people literally be the hands and feet of Jesus, expecting nothing in return. I have seen the heart of Christ through friends and family members. These people were the ones who rallied around Adam, the kids and I in the midst of his cancer diagnosis, treatment, and after his death. They showed up with food, gift cards, sent cards and hand written letters, made us a beautiful wreath, put together goodie baskets for the kids, lawn care, HVAC repairs, car repairs, home repairs, taking care of the kids, transporting the kids and a huge fund raiser that saved us financially. I know there was so much more, but these were huge blessings to us during this difficult time in our lives. These people served us, loved on us, prayed for us and showed us the beautiful love of Christ in doing so. These same people held me up after we lost Adam. They continued to love us through that storm. They continued to pray and encourage me. These same people prayed for Matt and I to find one another after his divorce. They celebrated our new love and life together with us. They have continued to encourage us, pray for us and held us up as we blended our families and created a new life together. These people were true examples of Jesus in the flesh!

I have also known people who are the total opposite of selfless. I have seen the most selfish acts. I have seen lives and families destroyed through addiction, abuse, abandonment, mental health disorders, extramarital affairs and divorce. I have seen people hurt and broken as a result of these actions done to them during their lives. I have been one of those people hurt by someone very selfish. I have also seen people overcome the destruction and hurt from others and rely on God to heal them in their most broken places. The people who chose themselves constantly over those they love do not know or understand the true love of Christ. They do not understand the sacrifice that Jesus made for us all. He showed us the ultimate act of selfless love. He died so we could live. I know we are all sinners. I know none of us are perfect or without fault. But I know that the blood of Christ covers all of our sins. I know that God sent His one and only son to die on that cross so that we would be forgiven. Do not be selfish in love, but selfless.

I have talked a lot about loving ourself this month. It has been the focus of my blog during all of February. I know not everyone reading this knows our whole story, but it will come over time. I am hoping to remind all of us that loving ourself is also an important aspect of our faith. It is how we refill our tanks so that love can overflow into others. If you keep pouring into a vessel, that vessel will fill and overflow. If you keep pouring out of that vessel it will eventually become empty. What are you doing to keep that vessel full? What are you doing to pour into others? Today my self love task was to spend some time focused on bettering my blog. I want this blog to be a vessel. A vessel of love, hope, faith and encouragement. But more importantly I want this blog to reflect what God wants me to share with each of my readers. I am praying for each of you. I am hoping you feel encouraged, loved and are happy. If you are not happy, I pray that you would seek that joy. Find it and hold onto it. If you cannot find joy, I pray you seek and ask for help. There are so many different resources out there that can help you. God is on your side. He is in your corner. He is holding you up. He loves you regardless of your past. He can overcome every sin and every hurt and heartbreak. He can overcome addiction, abuse, mental health, affairs, and abandonment. Nothing is too big or horrible for God. Trust Him. Let Him love you with an everlasting love.

Jeremiah 31:3 Long ago the Lord said to Israel:"I have loved you, my people, with and everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself."

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