July 29, 2011

My kind of morning

Coffee. With my favorite creamer.Sesame Street. With my favorite boy.
ALREADY playing in the tent.
I love my day off at the end of the week.

This is my kind of morning.

July 28, 2011

For Sale

When I met Todd almost six years ago now, he came with a huge truck, a giant trailer that housed camping gear and goose decoys, one big duck hunting boat and about seven hundred thousand varying items covered in hunter's camo. And guns. Lots of guns.

Fast forward six years later, the truck is gone and he drives a small family car because it's more economical and affordable. The trailer has been sold and the decoys and camping gear are now taking over the garage in the house that we bought two years ago. He still has about seven hundred thousand varying items covered in hunter's camo, including some of my very own things - like a visor and a jacket. And a nightgown if you must know. Because I wouldn't be the wife of a hunter if I didn't sport camo from time to time. And we still have the guns. Can't do much huntin' without a gun you know.

Last year when I quit my full time job and we decided to do this whole crazy "living by faith and God will will take care of us" thing, we sold off a few things so that we could continue to make ends meet. We sold his camper first - something he inherited and fixed up and I swore I would never sleep in because it was old and kind of gross. But then someone came and paid a whole $800 dollars for it and I could gave just given that camper a big old kiss because we really needed that $800 at the time.

When Todd quit the pizza gig in June, we decided we would sell the boat and use the money from it to pay off a couple of debts and it would alleviate how tight things were feeling financially. It was a great plan. If only things went according to plan. They never do though do they?

Selling this boat has been a much harder sell than we had anticipated. We know that in this economy, a lot of people are unloading similar kinds of assets because they are in the same position that we are in. So we didn't expect it to sell super fast, but we had hoped it would sell within a month at least. And duck season is almost here, and that's exactly what this boat is designed for.

Nearly two months in to this whole process, we've had about three serious buyers say they wanted it and then they walked away from the deal. We have even gone as far as buying two new tires for the boat trailer because the guy was coming to get it from Arkansas. And of course after we purchased the tires, he backed out. Again this week, another serious buyer wanted the boat. We even went as far as making plans for the weekend to meet up in the Dallas area. The thing was practically sold and I could feel myself calming down because everything was going to be okay.

And then he backed out too. *sigh*

In the process of this whole ordeal, we have also found out that the title for the boat is missing and obtaining a new title is quite an event considering the bank that it was financed through no longer exists. Texas Parks and Wildlife showed that the bank never transferred the title over to Todd anyway. FANTASTIC news. So even though we own it outright, there is no piece of paper that currently exists that states this to be true. Todd is now trying to get what he needs from the bank that bought out the other bank to prove he's paid it off and is the owner of this dang boat we are trying to sell.
The night our last buyer walked away, we received one more call from a man in Oklahoma who had been watching the boat online and saw the price drop and ask if it was still for sale. Another glimmer of hope.

So currently, the boat has a sale pending yet again, but it's hard to get excited when he is man #5 and we've gotten this far with others before. The plan is for Todd to meet up with him on Saturday, even if we are still working on the paperwork issue. Of course he too could back out, but we are hopeful that this guy is really the one.

It's amazing that God continues to give me some of the same kinds of places to trust Him with. Though he's done it before and time and again, when it gets down to the wire, I'm convinced that this will be the time that it doesn't work out. It feels evident that God wants to keep me in a place of dire need for Him. And in the process, instead of hating it, I am learning to love my neediness for Him. There are just certain things that only He can provide and only He can fill for me. And it is okay to be that needy. It's how I was created.

As I wrote this, I found out that Todd has worked out the sticky title mess. The bank is sending us and Texas Parks & Wildlife what we need paperwork wise. And the guy offered us only $200 less than what we asked for it. Todd is meeting him in Plano this weekend.

Smiling at how He always seems to work out the details.

July 27, 2011

The Wilderness

The last couple of months of life have felt celebratory for me. In describing it to other people the only way I knew how was to say that it has felt like all of my insides felt clean and brand new because the inside of my body feels so different.

Perhaps the only words accurate enough to describe what has happened for me are freedom and healing. I am free from some of the things in my past and have been set free to do things - like dance and write or just be myself and actually be okay with that. And I feel like the deepest parts of my soul have found much needed healing. Like I was allowed to finally drink water and come to life after years of being dry and parched and stuck in some horrible drought.

And I guess I thought I was going to get to stay in this place for a long time. It seems only fair. I've spent years where life just felt dark and sad and this magnitude of sorrow was always just sitting with me and on top of me. And those things are still there, but I guess I just deal with them differently than I used to and they are now only a part me and my life and not all of me. I don't feel consumed by past or my grief the way that I was and it's allowed me to breathe and just live my life the way I've always wanted to.

This is the first summer that I've actually enjoyed myself in more years than I can remember. I've played and swam and danced and laughed. I've worn a party dress and a bathing suit and sported a tan. Even though the heat can be literally oppressive here sometimes, it hasn't bothered me. I have welcomed the warmth and bright sunshine because my heart has felt bright and warm. The summer has reminded me that there is a time to play and rejoice and celebrate. And it has felt good to be in a season of life that has actually looked like that for once as an adult.

But there has been this shift that has been brewing inside of my soul. It's like I've been able to observe something from the distance that was happening and it's completely out of my control. And it's different than some storm or trial that is headed my way. It's a new place I am being invited to live. And I'm scared only because I don't know if I can really live here the way that I have been these last few months. This is different. So much different.

My tendency as I've seen this celebration season of my life come to an end all too soon is to want to get angry at God. Yet, there has been something new that has developed there and I haven't been able to be angry with Him like I used to could have so easily. Instead my first inclination has been to cry out and ask for help. I'm wanting to remain close and remain near, because I can remember what this same place looked like years ago and I made the choice to have a go without Him.

To be honest, it's felt tempting to want to go back down a path I've already been. I know that it's at least survivable. I know what it offers, and the counterfeit for what I long for still seems like it's better than nothing. I know what will happen to me if I go that way. And evil keeps whispering that God will betray me like He has before. It's felt hard, very hard, to turn the other way.

I'm sure none of this makes sense. It's hard to describe what's going on without actually saying it. And of course, I don't want to. Those things are private and personal and a bit too transparent for this particular forum. So here I am writing something to document this huge shift that is occurring in my heart.

All this to say, I feel like I am entering the wilderness. I am being called to live, to hope, to dream, to love, to dance, to sing - to do all of the things I've been set free to do, but to do them in a different place. The wilderness -a lonely and desolate place, where finding life and living life comes with a great cost and much difficulty.

I don't know why exactly. I don't know for how long. I don't understand any of it really. It's just clear to me that this is where I am being called to live for now.

July 26, 2011

Tommy's 2nd Birthday

Well, the big party for Tommy happened over the weekend. I'm still kind of recovering as it was a lot of work to get it going and to tear it all down and clean up. But all of it was worth my time and effort as my son will always be one of my most favorite people in the world to celebrate and throw a party for.

I had seen these birthday banners over and over again in Pinterest and decided I could totally make one. After all, it's just scrapbook paper and ribbon. Which is true, yet it was incredibly time consuming. It turned out incredibly cute though. And I packed it away carefully as I'm kind of hoping that at some point in the next ten years or so, I can at least use it one more time!
I got the idea for the big #2 also from Pinterest. I took an old poster frame we had in the garage and covered it in wrapping paper. And then just used tissue paper to create the #2. It was a cheap and easy project and I loved how it turned out. I also found these cute beach ball cups to give out to the kids as the party favors. Though I unfortunately forgot to distribute most of them!
About 1:00 in the afternoon, three hours before the party was going to start, I began to panic about how on earth we were going to fit everyone in the house and where on earth people were going to eat. Especially all of the kids. I had to completely rearrange everything I was going to do and ended up making a birthday table for the kids (well at least six of them) to sit at and eat. My "centerpiece" was supposed to go somewhere else so it feels small for the table, but I think it turned out pretty cute. I just used gumballs and a few windmills I found at Hobby Lobby.
And balloons and streamers always make festive decor, not to mention, they are budget friendly! Originally, I had planned to suspend a bunch of beach balls from the ceiling. However, I didn't anticipate how heavy they would be and we couldn't find anything to keep them suspended without them coming down.
More fun in the sun decor.
It's quite convenient working for an advertising/printing company. They made a banner for Tommy's birthday last year, and so graciously made us another one this year as well. I love how it turned out!
My pride and joy of the party (other than my awesome two year old) were my cupcakes. I found the idea online and decided I could totally make them.
I used graham cracker crumbs for the "sand," dyed the frosting blue and used round peppermints for "beach balls." And the little umbrellas fit perfectly. I also found some fun cupcake wrappers at Hobby Lobby.
Yes, I was quite proud of my cupcake creations!
We set everything up outside for the little kids to go swimming in some portable pools. I set out sunscreen and towels in hopes to minimize some of the things the parents would need to bring for their kids to change from bathing suits to dry clothes after the swimming was done.
Tommy woke up from his nap right before the party started and was very excited to go "swimming in the bubbles" as he calls it.

Inside, we served up hot dogs and hamburgers. And amazingly enough, everyone ate and had a place to somehow eat their food.
I was half expecting Tommy to start crying when we all sang him Happy Birthday again. We had buckets of tears last year when the whole chorus broke out in song. But he cuddled up to his Oma and smiled while we all sang to him. I think it helped singing "Happy Birthday" to him for a week straight!

Then it was time to eat the fun beachy cupcakes. Tommy said to me, "I lubbs cu-cakes!" He didn't care for the frosting - I think mostly because he hates having things stick to his fingers.
But he ate them right up!
Took a few pictures with my family!
The "Dollie" pose....
Gift opening time was awesome. Though he wanted everything taken out of the box immediately so he could play with it right then. Tommy got a lot of really fun things for his birthday and I'm still trying to find a place to put everything! He is one very loved little boy.
This picture isn't the best of it, but he got a stuffed Clifford the Big Red Dog from my friend Mal, who is also his most favorite babysitter. He absolutely adores her and they have the best of times playing together. And instead of calling Clifford, Clifford, he has started calling him, "Red Mal." He knows she gave it to him and he calls him by her name - SO precious! He also insists on sleeping with the Red Mal now in addition to his bear.Tiffany came in for Tommy's party. He affectionately refers to her as "Tippy," which is kind of the most adorable thing in entire world. But she got him this massive playhut/tent/crazy-huge- wonderland-that-takes-up-my-entire-living-room-toy.
And he loves it! As you can tell by the look of utter JOY on his face.
I think Tippy wins for the best present ever. (By the way, it's super easy to put up and take down so it won't take up that much of our living room on a regular basis!
"I lubbs tents!" I love how he declares his love for so many things.

Oh, what a happy boy!
One of the other awesome things he got for his birthday, was a Mater Tow-Truck that my parents gave him. It actually drives and makes sounds, though he kind of starts freaking out when Mater starts talking or making truck noises. But he loves to drive around in his truck and it's so much fun to have one! So I now have a tow-truck parked in my living room. I think this is why people have playrooms.
So the party is over and done. Everything is packed away and Tommy's birthday is complete.
And I'm not kidding when I'm saying I already have a few ideas up my sleeve for next year's party theme. One can never start planning a party too early.

July 21, 2011

Tommy is TWO!!!

I can hardly believe it. My little boy's birthday is today and he is two already! I can't believe how quickly this year has flown by. It feels like it was just a few months ago I was in the middle of preparing for his first birthday!Some fun Tommy facts:

Height: We measured him the other day and he is exactly 36" inches tall.

Weight: He is somewhere between 35 and 37 pounds. He is a very big, strong and healthy boy!

Size: Right now he wears a variety of sizes from 24 months all the way to 3T. It depends on who makes it and if it's a shirt or a pair of shorts or pants. Because his head is so large we have to get larger shirts just to go over it.

Teeth: He has all of his chompers and I am pretty sure we are working on getting those two year molars in right now.

Favorite Sayings:
"I need, I need!" - Usually he says this when he's hungry and is standing by the refrigerator. "I like trucks!" - When we pass by a semi on the highway. "Ball in the sky!" - Whenever we leave our house and pass by a huge round water tower. Somehow it became the ball in the sky that he likes to talk to. "Boogers!" - This is how he lets us know he needs his nose wiped. "Dimming and bubbles." - He asks to go swimming ALL the time. "Omagoodness!" - he says this when he wants to make us laugh, because we will every time! There are a zillion other things I could put here because he talks so much, but those are just a few of my favorites.

Favorite Foods: Fishsticks, cottage cheese, broccoli, corn, strawberries, oatmeal, olives, eggs, macaroni and cheese, beans, bacon and of course anything SWEET. He loves his sweets so we have to be careful how much we let him have.
Favorite Toys: TRUCKS. The boy is into trucks. And he totally knows the difference between his toddler-friendly trucks and realistic looking trucks because he only plays with the newer trucks he has that look like the real thing. He also loves his Alphabet Train and his apple toy. Both of them make lots of obnoxious noise but they help teach him letters and the sounds the letters make.

Favorite Shows: Dora the Explorer, Wonder Pets, and Yo Gabba Gabba. Still his favorite three!

Favorite Books: Goodnight Moon, Dr. Suess' ABC's, Ten Wiggly Wriggly Caterpillars, and all of the books we have about trucks and tractors and construction vehicles. He loves books and reads them all day long.Other random facts:

Tommy loves the outdoors. He would play outside all day long, every single day if he could. Unfortunately, with the scorching hot summers we have here, we have to limit when he can go outside to play.

He loves the water. He loves to swim, play in the sprinkler, and take baths. The other day he poured a big cup of water on the front porch and proceeded to lay down in it so he could wet. The theme for his 2nd birthday is all about water since he loves it so much!

Tommy no longer thinks picking his nose is funny. He's moved on to trying to pick my nose now. And yours too. So watch out, he will totally come after you.

He kind of hates going to church. He screams NO! at us as soon as we make the exit off the highway.

I'm convinced he's a genius. He knows all of his ABC's - both upper and lower case. He knows his numbers 1 to 10 and he can count to 20. And he knows all of his shapes and colors. Right now we are working on what sounds each letter makes. He can also recognize his name when he sees it written out. He knows that T-O-M-M-Y spells Tommy!

He loves to make himself burp. Though thankfully he's caught on to saying "Excuse me" when he does.

Tommy is still very cautious around new people. He has to feel safe and comfortable in an environment before acting like himself. But when he does get to the point where he feels comfortable, he's a total ham and show-off and he loves to make people laugh.

We are not yet potty training, but we talk about it a lot. Our plan is to keep talking about it and reading books about the potty, so that when we are ready to begin, the subject is very familiar to him. And for the record - I am the one who isn't ready. I think he is ready to start. But, I'm kind of dreading it and I keep hoping that maybe he will just wake up and it will happen?

He is still in his crib for now. I know he could climb out of it if he wanted to, but he hasn't tried yet. As soon as we get a few things for his room, we will be making a transition to a big boy bed though. We are skipping a toddler bed and going to straight to a twin and putting a safety rail on it. We figured it would be one more transition we wouldn't have to make. In the next couple of months we will probably make that change.

Mommy thoughts:

I think what I've been struck by most recently is the fact that we are influencing him spiritually. We pray at night and sing Jesus loves me all of the time. But it hit me a couple of weeks ago that we are the first people that he will hear about Jesus from. It's something I think I am taking more seriously than I was before. As children, the first people that have the opportunity to influence our beliefs are our parents and families. And my heart's greatest desire is that Tommy will know God in his own unique way just as I have. I don't want him just go to church or know the ten commandments and participate in Bible scripture groups and attend VBS. All of those things are great, but I want him to know and experience God in a way that is personal for him and his own story. As I have thought of the weight of what that really means, it's felt heavy to think about and it's a place that I will have to trust God with. Tommy will have his own faith. Todd and I are merely here to teach and influence and help and guide and I guess it feels scary to think that we can't force him into anything. And I wouldn't want to force God on him anyway. I want him to know why he believes what he believes and not just believe it because of what we have said. I guess I'm hoping that he will see through the marriage Todd and I share and how we do things as a family, that God is at the center of it and he will want that for himself too.

Since we are unsure if we will ever have any other kids, I really purpose to enjoy everything that I can with him. I don't want to miss out on anything. I try to play and read and be present for him, especially when I get off work and my body just wants to rest. He is so energetic and full of life and I am so grateful for the places he invites me to be active and get outside. His precious little life is a constant reminder of God's heart for me. Tommy impacts our own stories as much as we are shaping his.

Of course some days are harder than others. As we are getting our feet wet with discipline and teaching him some good behaviors (like not screaming at us or others), it definitely comes with its share of challenges and there are moments when I just need a moment to cry or breathe or regather myself. Those moments definitely happen from time to time!

It's still hard to believe that two years ago today he made his entrance into the world. Our lives were forever changed on July 21, 2009 at 5:58pm. I heard his first cries and looked at his little face for the very first time. And now, that little bundle-wrapped miracle is two years old today. He will forever be an answer to one of my biggest prayers.
This weekend is his 2nd birthday party and I can't wait to celebrate! Stay tuned for pictures of the best birthday ever next week!

July 20, 2011

The Juggle

At the end of the day when I see dirty dishes in the sink and toys all over the floor, and a messy bedroom and laundry piling up that needs to be attended to, and a ring around the toilet....that's when I tend to want to fall apart and feel like I'm failing at this whole working mom thing.

Last night was such a night. I didn't wash a single dish. I didn't do any laundry. I left the toys strewn about the living room (because my son kind of refuses to get this whole picking up his stuff thing we've been trying to teach him). And Todd cooked his own food when he got home from work last night because I hadn't made a real dinner and he was left to fend for himself.

Juggling it all can be overwhelming. Working, cooking, cleaning, laundry, Tommy, playtime, reading, taking time for myself, getting exercise, date nights with Todd, making conversation, connection, maintaining friendships and having time for others, worship team, ministry....it feels like more to juggle when I type it all out like that.

I guess somewhere I decided that a successful working mom has her house clean, her and her family fed with well planned meals, and time left over to get the necessary work out in. And is of course the best wife ever on top of that. It's been hard to feel like I'm not dropping the ball these days. The transition from working two and a half days to four full days has been a little bit harder than I thought it would be I guess.

And it's really not the working thing I mind. I guess I just wish there were more hours in a day and more time to complete every task that I would hope to every single day. And I suppose I could stay on top of my chores on a daily basis. But that would mean no play-time with Tommy after work or unwinding and conversation with Todd. And those things are much too valuable to me than having some impeccable house. And sometimes, a woman just has to have time for herself. Even if it means reading or watching a TV show or having a cup of coffee in the quiet of the morning.

Last night, Tommy and I chased his ball around the living room and the kitchen. Chasing it back and forth and running and kicking it here and there. It was kind of like soccer, but kind of nothing like it at all. But you know, there was running. And a ball. We played for a while before it was time to settle down and do our bedtime routine. I loved hearing his laughter. He invites me to laugh and play with him and that seems to never get old.

Getting Tommy ready for bed is one of my favorite parts of every day. We sit down and read books. We always read four and almost always he chooses Goodnight Moon and Dr. Suess' ABC's as two of those four every single night. We sing our songs, which is so much fun now because he sings along with me and it's adorably precious. We say our prayers and thank Jesus for our fun day and for all the people that love us and ask Him to give us a good night's rest with sweet dreams. Then we brush his teeth, and it's off to bed. He likes to be tucked in now. The last thing I usually hear before closing his door is, "Hi! Mama, I loves you!"

At the end of the day though, my husband has food (even if I haven't prepared it) and time spent with me. Tommy feels enjoyed and loved and cared for. And I've taken a few moments for myself to just regather my thoughts and emotions so that I can get up in the morning and live it all again the next day.

So I guess it's not failing. It's not even getting by. My house and my housework might be suffering a little bit, but I'm not. And using the cleanliness of my home to gauge how "successful" I am at being a working mom is probably the wrong place to look.

And maybe trying to succeed at this isn't even the point. Maybe the point is to just be really living in it all and enjoying where I am at, and not beating myself up when it's evident that I can't do it all perfectly.

July 19, 2011

The time I couldn't eat more pizza

I'm not gonna lie. I had kind of a rough day yesterday. Mostly stuff that I really don't want to talk about in this particular forum. But it was rough.

I posted on my Facebook status yesterday that margaritas should come complimentary with the routine OBGYN appointment. And my friends wholeheartedly agreed by the masses. And it's not because it's painful or something, it's because it's uncomfortable and awkward and I would seriously rather be scrubbing my dirty shower floor than be there.

But the OBGYN appointment was merely the icing on the cake of an already funky day. And when I came home, the last thing I wanted to do was stand in front of the stove and try out the new recipe I talked about. The thawed out chicken went into the refrigerator for another day and we used our hook-ups at the pizza place Todd worked for to get a cheap pizza for dinner instead. I kind of demanded that pizza be for dinner actually.

Pizza has always been my go-to food for when I'm feeling especially lousy. It's my "feel-better" food though it never really made me feel better. It just allowed me to numb out or forget what was going on so that I didn't have to feel anything other than the fullness of my stomach. I would eat pizza until I couldn't put another bite in my mouth. That often times meant an entire large pizza, all by myself. And last night, I had plans for eating a lot of pizza.

Except the strangest thing happened. The pizza didn't taste super awesome and I couldn't eat more than two pieces. I ate until I was full and I really didn't want anymore. It was in that moment I thought I was going crazy and was about to lose my mind. The only way I can describe what I was feeling is that perhaps it's like someone addicted to to drugs and what they usually use to go to for a fix doesn't work anymore. It was pretty unnerving and I didn't know what to do with myself.

I ended up doing some writing and breathing (and yes, I actually did sit there and focus on my breathing in and out) and then Todd and I had a long conversation about all of the things that were making my day rough. And by the end of it all, I felt calm and normal again instead of frantically searching for something to soothe the fix that I felt like I was needing. All if it felt like a bizarre experience.

And for the record, this same thing happened about a month and a half ago, but I didn't give as much thought to it then.

I guess for so long, I've used food as my "fix." It's been my addiction and drug of choice and consuming it in mass quantities did something for me. It allowed me to escape from life or my emotions and disappointments. But now, things have changed, and what used to work for me, simply doesn't anymore. I was actually kind of pissed off that food didn't work. I was angry that I couldn't even will myself to eat another bite. Not only did my body say no, but I said no. I just didn't want more.

Anyway, all this to say, it was a bit alarming to realize that my coping mechanisms have just changed. New habits have really been formed and my body has been trained to do things differently. It feels like both a miracle and a pay-off for the hard work I've put in to make these changes.

The weight is still coming off slowly, but it's these things that remind me of the healing and change I've experienced. And that it's real and that 20 years of some really bad habits and ways of eating don't have to be like that forever. There is hope for me yet. And the lack of pizza I consumed is proof of it.

July 18, 2011

Monday, Schmonday

I'm in a weird mood. Probably just because it's Monday. I guarantee this post will be all over the place.

I could also be PMSing because everything is making me want to cry. And I had to put gas in my car this morning and that's one of my least favorite things to do. I'm also feeling a bit jilted/irritated/saddened at the fact that that ZERO people left a comment on my last post. And usually I don't care about the number of comments I do or don't get, but I cared about them on that one I guess.

Today is also a scheduled doctor's appointment and it's my least favorite kind of appointment to go to in the world so I have that to look forward to all day long....

In other news, we are trying to sell Todd's hunting boat. And we expected it to take a while, but not as long as it's taken. We had several people interested over the weekend since we listed it in a few different areas and not just locally. And we almost thought we had it sold and then the guy walked away. And I'm stressing a little bit, because financially, we kind of NEED this boat to sell.
While Todd was off buying tires for the trailer that comes with the boat we thought we had sold, I worked on a birthday banner for Tommy's party. I have seen them everywhere and knew I could make one. I just had no idea how much work they were. And this birthday banner might be used for every birthday from now until he's 27. This was right before I added the ribbon to the back. It's pretty cute - even if it took me FOUR hours to do it.
And I seriously can't believe my little boy is turning two this week. He is so smart and so much fun and so incredibly adorable - it just amazes me how quickly he has grown up this year and how much he has learned. I'm convinced he is a genius.
Oh and yesterday, I was asked to be a part of a worship/rock band that is being put together and I'm kind of excited about singing with a band. Though I'm still not sure if my voice is the best fit for a rock band, even if we are doing worship songs. But I'm feeling kinda "cool" that I was even asked. Either way, it sounds like fun and we'll see how it goes.

On a side note, I've been all about trying new recipes out lately. Tonight I'm channeling my inner Pioneer Woman and making Grilled Chicken with Lemon-Basil Pasta. Looks good right? I'm actually all about recipes that use lemon. It could be my favorite ingredient. When life hands me lemons, I make my Grammy's lemon cake!

This week feels like it will be a flurry of activity before Tommy's party on Saturday. I still have a couple of projects to finish up in preparation for it. I just found out this morning that a couple of the invitations that I sent out didn't make it to my friends. And I would like to ask the post office how my bills always make it to where they need to go, but fun things like cards or letters or very cute invitations, don't always make it to their destination.

Oh and Tiffany will be here on Saturday!

PMS. Doctors. Boats. Banners. Rock bands. Cooking. Lemons. Post-office issues. I told you this post was gonna be all over the place. Glad I could follow through with that. Hope your Monday a bit more put together than mine!

July 14, 2011

To write. There is no question.

I first began writing when I was about ten years old. I actually still have some of my first writings that I keep in my box of keepsakes. One of my favorites is about a girl who's mean younger brother replaces her shampoo with dog shampoo and she grows dog ears. It was very silly and rather creative for the age of ten - at least, that's what I think. What a fun children's book that could make.

As I grew, I was inspired by The Babysitter's Club and the Sweet Valley Twins. I would always write stories about a group of girlfriends who had everything they wanted - like huge closets full of clothes and how they lived in the master bedrooms of their houses because their parents were just cool and accommodating like that. And they threw fun parties and had boys that liked them all of the time. I wish I would have held on to those - I threw them away when I realized that they were childish and unrealistic. I became disenchanted with life and was no longer interested in stories where everything always went like you hoped it would.

Throughout the course of my life I kept a journal religiously. I have stacks of old journals from the age of 9 to 18. And I occasionally go back to re-read them. I held on to them so that I would have proof to show my kids that I too had once been a teenager. Because I remember thinking my parents could have NEVER been my age, nor did they have that kind of proof. Little did I know though, that those old journals would end up being more of a gift to me.

Over the years, I've written many things. Essays, poetry, and short stories. I've won a handful of little contests and I suppose I could say I'm a published author, but it was one of those contests where almost everyone who entered was published, so it never felt like an accomplishment. I've started many novels and fictional stories too, and a few chapters in, I decide my characters are weak and my story lines don't seem to go anywhere, and my plot sucks and anyone who read would probably be bored. I have a list that contains dozens of ideas on things I think I might like to write a book about. It varies from things like memoirs to different fictional stories or how-to's (ie. "throw awesome parties on a budget") and children's books. Since I've never completed a project, I'm not sure which I would even feel the most passionate about. Maybe I would write all of them. Who knows?

Today, I keep this little blog. I actually keep another, much more personal and oh SO very necessarily private blog, for the days I need to get something out and I don't feel like handwriting in my journal.

And here I am. Twenty years later, I am still writing.

Writing a book has been something I've only romanticized about. I've thought how great it would be to start a story and actually finish it. I've thought how lovely it would feel to see a book I wrote on the shelves of a bookstore and know that others were actually paying to read the words that you have written. And I've talked myself out of allowing myself to not only get started, but to finish once I've begun.

I read so many other blogs/books/articles of others who I think have so much more talent that I could ever possess and talk myself out of it. I have no business writing a book, I tell myself. Just within my own circle of friends, there are some amazingly talented men and women who write with such depth and beauty and I feel like what I would have to write would pale in comparison. And then there's the whole getting a publisher thing which I know is the hardest part of all.

But I've been thinking about those same things more recently:

Yes, it will feel like hard work some of the time. But I know that it's possible to finish something that I've started.

Yes, my writing could improve. But if I don't start writing what I'm really wanting to and just do it, then I will never really know exactly what I need to improve on.

Yes, getting a publisher is hard. But it's much harder if you don't even have a book written.

Yes, other people may be more talented. And yes some of my friends are amazing writers - and what a GIFT that is. But that doesn't mean I'm not just as capable or talented nor does it mean that I have no business writing.

Those things feel much more true and accurate. And I am all about believing and living truth rather than living out of and believing lies. Too much of my life has been spent living that way, and I'm kind of over that. I'm sick and tired of thinking I have to be small, that I have to walk around feeling defeated, and that I'm not worth going for the things I really desire.

I'm kind of feeling like my little girl again. The one who would sit at her desk with a pencil and college-ruled notebook paper and write out stories about all of the wonderful things she imagined life could be like and hold. And in between sentences and carefully composed paragraphs, she would stare out her window at the world outside and feel like just maybe, she had found her place in it.

July 13, 2011

Vanity Glasses

It's safe to say that when the black rimmed glasses come out, I'm feeling kinda sassy. I first sported "vanity glasses" back in college. I thought they gave me a little edge or something and still to this day, when I'm wearing just the right outfit or I'm just in a certain kind of mood, you get this version of Jenn:
And please don't tell me how non-edgy I look, because you might just break my heart. I probably looked edgier in college because I was sporting dog collar-type bracelets and belts and steel toed Doc Martin boots and fire engine red, spikey hair with glasses that looked like this. But nevermind about that....

So, combine my ever-so-edgy black rimmed glasses with some capris that actually fit again and a new pair of Converse All-Stars?
It's like double the sassy. 'Cause girlfriend is feeling pretty damn good. (Damn just felt way more accurate than darn, FYI. Felt completely necessary to use some mild language in this case).

July 12, 2011

Potential and Possibility

I can remember at the start of every school year that life felt like it was full of potential and possibility. With a new semester beginning, I had crispy new school supplies, a fresh closet of trendy new things to wear, new teachers that made me feel inspired to come to class, and the opportunity to really apply myself and get some kick-ass grades. I could forget about everything I felt at home and focus on something else.

Every school year began that way, and it didn't take long for the potential and possibility of what I had hoped things could look like to dwindle away through circumstance and disappointment.

Inevitably, the friends I had hoped to make didn't come along, my "cool" clothes weren't enough to usher me in to the popular crowd, my classes became boring and stale, and my grades were average. I often feel sad at all that I missed out on during my school years because of how I felt about myself and just my outlook on life in general. Sometimes I wish I could just go hug my teenage self, take her out for some coffee and tell her that in the end, everything was really going to be okay. I think I maybe needed to hear that then.

But I digress.

I think for most of my life I've spent it believing that I had no real potential to amount to anything and that my possibilities were limited. I've lived small here. I've put myself in to this tiny box and surrendered to how things were and accepted defeat for anything that felt big to dream or hope for. I think maybe I didn't even know how to find potential or possibility within myself much less in life.

And now, this way of thinking doesn't feel like me anymore. I have found certain things around me to feel unnatural almost. Like the Texas flag in my dining room - it feels tired and blah and I'm ready to move on to something different. I have a major decorating itch, partially because of Pinterest, and partially because I'm just ready to breathe some new life into my home because it needs it. I've also found myself thinking about my singing and writing and what would happen if I believed I had real potential and real possibility at both of those things.

My friend Jenni announced this morning that she was going to start selling her photos on Etsy. She's learned that she has a passion for photography - she saw her potential for what she could do and the possibilities are endless. Reading about her ventures this morning left me absolutely inspired.

I suppose one of my biggest frustrations at the moment is with my body. I feel as though I'm waiting for it to catch up to what has been metamorphosed in my heart and it feels like it's taking light years for my body to show noticeable results. I think I fear that people won't take me seriously or won't really believe that some great, unnameable change has happened inside of me if it's not manifested in some great amount of weight loss. And then I get irritated that I'm still seeking validation from other people in order to believe that what I feel inside is really real. I guess I'm afraid that others will stop believing in my potential and possibility and I will once again allow that to define me. I'm still learning how to NOT give others that kind of power...

There are other things though, outside of my mind and body and heart that have potential and possibility.

Last year, we made over our dining room table and buffet. We stripped them down and painted them a pretty reddish brown. It looks crisp, clean and more modern than the natural oak. It felt more "me."
I've been (quite literally) making notes about some other little improvements and make-overs I'd like to do around the house when we have the money to do them of course. Which includes retiring the Texas flag. I'm also looking at what I already have and am curious how things could be rearranged or repurposed. I'm even contemplating what it would be like to paint our kitchen cabinets....I guess I'm starting to see the potential and possibility not only in myself, but in my surroundings.

Potential and possibility are what drives us to try new things. Like a new recipe I tried out last week. Chicken and cheese lasagna roll-ups. Which I put my own spin on of course....
Potential and possibility are one of the driving forces behind the changes I've made for myself too. My pile of clothes reminds me that it is quite possible for me to keep going and that this pile will eventually get even bigger.
Potential and possibility inspire Todd and I to keep hoping and dreaming for what our life together will look like. Another baby, our dream home, more sex, running a bed and breakfast, taking a vacation....
Life feels a little more fuller, a little richer and much more exciting when looking through the lens of potential and possibility.

July 10, 2011

Welcome Rain

There has been a major drought in our part of Texas this year. We haven't had any substantial rain since December. And any shower or passing storm we've received in the last six months has been a BIG DEAL as there hasn't been much rain to put a dent in our aquifer levels or to feed our thirsty lands.

Today is such a day though. It is a BIG DEAL.
Clearly, it's a big deal since I went outside to document a picture of it happening.

The rain is often inconvenient. It can often put a damper on fun summer plans, or make driving more difficult, or pose a threat of flood or power outages. But, the rain brings life. The rain brings relief. The rain brings with it hopes that things will grow and become green again. It allows things to soften and break loose. It brings clouds that shield us from the hot July sun. The rain is life-giving.

Today I am aware of what "the rain" has looked like in my life. I've seen God use things that have allowed me to grow and become alive. I've seen him use some of the hard things I've had to go through to soften my callous heart. I have become broken, many times, because of the rain. It's been the rain that has brought me to life.There is a precious song by Laura Story called "Blessings," that feels fitting for me and my story. I have experienced blessings through raindrops, healing through tears, and sleepless nights where I have felt God ever so close to me. I have never understood or even liked what God has used in order to bring His purposes for me about. But instead of hating the rain, I've come to a place where I can praise God for it instead. Because it has been the rain in my life that drew me to His heart, set me free and made me alive.

As the rain falls and I hear it's quiet pitter-patter on the windows, I am reminded of my blessings that have come through raindrops. And thankful to the One who knows what to use to breathe life into us again.

July 8, 2011


I've seen this on a few other blogs before, and thought I'd try it too...

I am....deep, thoughtful, real, tender, hopeful, beautiful, and ever-changing by the grace of God.

I have....a husband, a son, a house, a dog, a new car - and I'm still wanting more.

I want....a baby girl.

I fear....my sister and I never having the kind of close relationship I have always hoped to share with her.

I would....love to go back to Israel for another trip.

I don't....journal as often as I probably should.

I did....fall in love - twice.

I didn't....finish college.

I will....go skydiving someday.

I won't....eat anything with onions in it.

I can....sing opera. Though my voice is slightly out of shape.

I can't....allow myself to dream about what it might be like to sing opera again somewhere. Even for a small show or local theater.

I could....be an event planner. Or a personal shopper. Or an interior decorator. I could be a great many things other than just a bookkeeper.

I couldn't....be a stay-at-home mom full time. I've tried and it's not for me.

I always....have my toenails painted.

I never....thought I would marry someone like Todd. But I did - and I so LOVE our life together.

I hate....doing the dishes!

I believe....that we all heal differently. And it has taken me 15 years to find the kind of healing I have needed in order to be able to really live.

I imagine....that my mom looks down from heaven and smiles when she sees me. Imagining that bring some sense of comfort to my constant grief of not having her here.

I regret....not having my own wedding dress when I got married. It was borrowed and it was just okay.

I speak....the truth. And I will continue speaking it, bringing things to light and naming what is true. Because it's who I am and who I was called to be.

I sing....in the shower, at church, in my car, to Tommy and with my family. I sing everywhere.

I write....because I love to. It's a passion of mine and has been since I was young.

I enjoy....autumn. It's my favorite time of year.

I eat....until I'm full. It's a new concept, but I think I've caught on.

I drink....water. The only soda I have anymore these days is Sprite. I've kind of lost the taste for sodas I guess.

I like....big earrings, chocolate, tattoos and shoes.

I wish....we could win the lottery and never have to worry about money ever again.

I hope....in Jesus. My life is covered by the hope of the cross.

I remember....what it felt like to see a positive sign on a pregnancy test.

I enjoy....swimming, laughing, entertaining, and shopping.

I miss....my mom.

I feel....alive, full, and energized.

I work....all day long and then go home and cook dinner and do laundry and pick up toys. I work a lot.

I dream....of one day owning a bed and breakfast with my husband.

I see....a few gray hairs popping up here and there.

I hear....my son's laughter and it fills me up with a certain measure of joy that I can't even begin to describe.

I know....that God is good (SO good) even in the times it has felt like He wasn't.

I love....the beach, sunrises, quiet mornings, conversation with good friends, having a place to call home, and music.

I am....me.

July 7, 2011


Having kept a blog for a few years now, it's fun to take a look back and see where I was two and three and four years ago. It's interesting to be able to rewind and see where my heart and mind were at and what life looked like.

I have seen myself, my writing, my heart, and my life evolve as I've started keeping a blog to write about the anythings and everythings. And though I selfishly keep it for myself, I'd be lying if I didn't say that I hoped it mattered to someone else too. I guess I hope that maybe someone could feel encouraged, or maybe even relate to something I'm feeling or going through and feel less alone because of it. I hope to come across real and genuine, and though I don't have some huge following, I guess I hope that the people who come here, like what they're reading.

I decided to take a look back to see what was up in July over the last few years.

In July of 2007, I was still trying to find my blogging style and wrote about lots of nothing. Like Bridezillas and bizarre happenings at work. I occasionally wrote with more depth, like this post about wishing to be a mother. And there was this fateful day that kept me from swimming in a public pool again - until this year actually.

In July of 2008, I wrote about summer and wishing I could enjoy the season I was in and not knowing how to. I also took a vacation up to Montana with my husband. And we can't forget about the many awful nights at our apartment where screaming teenagers kept us up all night long swimming after hours. Oh, I don't miss that AT ALL!!!

In July of 2009, I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of my little boy. I revealed his awesome forest themed nursery and bragged about how awesome my husband was. I seriously don't think I could have made it through that pregnancy without him! And then of course my sweet Tommyboy arrived and changed our lives forever.

And July of last year was quiet. I was working two days a week and I was home with Tommy quite a bit. It felt odd to have more rest. The summer didn't feel very enjoyable and I remember staying home and staying inside a lot. I went to a wedding and dealt with some insecurities about wearing a skirt. I threw Tommy his first birthday party on a tight budget. And I said goodbye to my Auntie Laura was who was heading off to Africa not knowing that I would see her again in less than a year.

Things have changed quite a bit over the last few years. Taking a little look back to some older Julys of life has left me smiling today at the thought of how God continues to knit intricate details of my life together for something really great.

July 6, 2011

Pile of clothes

Dear Fellow Bloggers,

I just wanted to post this picture today.
They are in a "if-I-get-pregnant-again-anytime-soon-these-plus-sized-tops-could-cover-my-belly-because-they-are-way-too-big-to-wear-over-the-size-of-my-current-belly" pile. Yep, they're too big, or I'm too small - whichever.

Shrinkingly yours,