July 30, 2013


It seems as though walking with Jesus isn't always this big, wild adventure.  It isn't always huge stories with a big show-offy miraculous turn of events like our North Dakota saga from this year.  More often than not, it's like any other relationship.  A series of quiet events and conversations and the everyday regularness. 

I am finding myself in familiar places.  Feeling tired, weary and discouraged and seeing myself back in the places where I'm trying to control and manage and figure things out because it's what I do and how I make my life work.  It's in these moments I wonder why He's just not done with me.  Why He doesn't shake His head in frustration wondering why I haven't gotten it and shame me for still not trusting His heart fully and completely.

Perhaps I will always be a fighter and I love that He lets me fight Him.  He lets me wrestle and toil and spin even though He knows His way is best and eventually I will be in agreement with that.  I wonder if maybe I will always be the kind of person who has to try everything my own way before going His.  Maybe I will always be pushing back until the point of exhaustion and I finally surrender to what He has for me. 

And I thought I was trusting.  Maybe even resting in something.

But it hit me like a ton of bricks today that trust is far from my heart.  And the trusting Him - the things He wants me to trust Him with - they get bigger and bigger every single time.  I guess I'm left wondering what will come from all of this stretching.  I'm always afraid of what I could lose in the process rather than what could be expanded in my heart.

Here I am.  Different day, different year, different set of circumstances - same invitation.

Will you trust me?  And can you trust me if you don't see?

July 28, 2013


It's usually when I'm washing dishes or trying out a new recipe or putting away the seventh load of laundry that I feel it.  Gratitude mixed in with a healthy helping of joy.  That stirring in my heart of how wonderful life feels in that moment.  Which is maybe somewhat odd because I think of many other things more fulfilling (and fun) than dishes or laundry. 

My Friday morning snapshot of fingers and toes, coupons, laundry and July's summer morning light pouring in through the windows captures joy and life - and the mess too.  I've been purposing to notice the sweetness in the midst of chaos and the parts of my life that just need getting done.

Even in the work, the never-ending chores, the baby who keeps barfing all over my cute tops, I feel this joy underneath it all.  It's like a deep, warm harmony to a lovely song I can't stop singing.

Life has felt complicated and full.  And I'm overwhelmed, emotional, torn, confused.  I've complained about my kids and my work and my schedule and our bills.  My lack of me-time and girls nights and real, grown-up adult conversations.  But even with all my complaints, I notice and see.  The eucharisteo.  Pieces and fragments of moments that make up the life I've been given and set free to live. 

Chasing my four year old around in the house.  Enjoying precious moments of Jacob's laughter.  Feeling Todd's soft kisses on my neck while I'm making dinner.  That feeling of rest that comes when everything is done, put away, and ready for the next week ahead.  Watching Todd play with Tommy when I know he would rather spend his Sunday afternoon napping.

I've been learning that not everything in life is always going to feel all good all of the time.  That it's okay if there are pieces of it that are messy or disappointing or just plain rotten.  I can feel the bad parts and move forward.  I guess I've been trudging through the rough spots and purposing to revel in the good.  Saying no to things and no to people even at the risk of disappointing someone.  Saying yes to more quiet, more family time, more of Him.

This face - the one solely responsible for spit-up stains on my clothes...there is much to delight in. I love that he smiles even with his eyes.  The fullness he brings to our lives, our home and hearts. 
There's a little bit of rotten, a bunch of lousy, and a mountain of disappointment.  

But after all of that, in all of that, before all of that - there's an overflowing abundance of joy.

July 22, 2013

The Spideriest Spiderman Party - EVER

I'll be the first to admit that I have a little problem when throwing parties.  Almost always, or basically just always, I go a little over the top.  But what can I say?  I love to party and I love me some parties.

Celebrating four years old for our big guy was of course a special occasion.  I mean, he will never be four again!  Saturday night, Todd and I took Tommy out for a special birthday celebration just the three of us.  We went to see Monster's University in the theater and went to the restaurant of his choosing - Chilis. 
  Sunday was the big party day.  And I was sort of up until 1:00 in the morning decorating and getting as much done beforehand as I could.  Like streamer nonsense on the windows. 
The decor aspect of the party is where I get a little out of control.  I asked my talented mom-in-law to paint be a city backdrop on cardboard, but instead she made a 3D version of buildings - which was of course way more awesome.
For the party, we had a few games and activities set up for the kiddoes.  I had all of them make a mask like spiderman using markers and pieces of construction paper.
 I had some homemade Spiderman cookies made by my incredibly talented cookie-making friend Renea.
 Aren't they awesome?!
 I snagged a few decorating ideas from Pinterest too and made a few of these buckets with tissue paper and comic-book words.  I thought my cuss word was clever, well because - it is. 
 Another total Pinterest steal - it's just lime-green koolaid.
 I made cupcakes this year and drew spiderwebs with this awesome black gel.  The kids LOVED them.
 For one of the games, we had all of the kids bounce on balloons - I drew bad guy faces on all of them and told them that they're mission was to eliminate the bad guys as fast as possible.  The balloon popping was a little noisy, but they had a blast!
 A friend of mine drew up a pin-the-web-on-the-bad-guy kind of game also.  We blind-folded the kiddoes, spun them around and let them put webs on to the picture using their "Spidey-senses."
 The best game of all was this.....and probably because it involved silly string.
 Two of our friends were nominated to be our Green Goblin bad guys.  The kids chased them around with silly string until it was all gone. 
 It was a hilarious, messy time!
 Before he went to bed last night, Tommy said, "That was the best birthday party ever mom." 
Which only means I will probably have to out-do myself this time next year when he turns five.

So, see ya next year folks.

July 17, 2013

Chasking sky

A few weeks ago, I saw the most spectacular sunset as I was headed home.  I caught myself speeding a little, wanting to make it to a certain part of the road that is more on a hill before it was completely gone, taking all of it's amber and violet with it.  In my head I was imagining what a conversation with a police officer might sound like if I told him I was chasing the sky because I wanted to watch the sun go down.

It was captivating though.  I felt my heart quicken, wanting to pull over and watch, not to miss a moment of it.

There isn't much time to sit and watch sunsets these days it seems.  With all of the busy and the doing and going, there seems to be fewer moments to soak in beauty.  And to let it soak in to me.

Tommy was enamored with my fascination about this whole sunset business.  He got excited right along with me declaring how beautiful it was.  When I finally got to my neighborhood, I pulled off to the side of the road, got out of my car and took a picture.  The sun had already dipped below the horizon and my heart literally ached when I realized I had missed it's final moments.

I am missing everything!!! - my heart said.  And in that moment I realized how much a sunset could draw out of me.  Where guilt and shame, obligation and responsibility, longing and dreams are all colliding for me at the moment.

"Let's go play in it!"  Tommy suggested.  As if it there were muddy puddles or snow on the ground. 

But, play in the last light of the sun - I would have never thought of it.  It made me smile.  Had Jacob not been in the back seat blowing spit bubbles and needing to be put down for the night, I would have accepted his invitation to play.  I told him we would be on the lookout for another sunset soon and we could play in that one together.

Even though the sun was gone, the sky still glowed from its presence.  One last glimmer of light before the darkness, before rest and quiet night.

Days later, an ordinary blue-sky afternoon, Tommy declared that the sky was amazing and asked me if I thought it was beautiful.  He went on and on about the blue sky and suggested I needed to get a picture of it also.  And I suppose it was lovely, but it was obvious that I wasn't as in to an ordinary blue summer sky at 2:00 in the afternoon as I would be to see it rise or set. 

But there was my son in the backseat, remembering our sky-chasing adventure.  Looking up, looking for beauty, taking notice, seeing not just a blue sky, but something more. 

And there in that moment, in all that my heart is holding about work and busy schedules and the guilt following me around - there was that still small voice.  The Lover of my heart.

"See.....you are not missing everything."

July 12, 2013


At work the other day, I captured this photo.  Mostly because as items began to spill out of my purse, I realized it looked like my current life in a nutshell.

A planner, a paci and polish.  That about sums it up.  

July 8, 2013

A picture worth more than a thousand words....

If a picture is worth a thousand words, than this picture is worth two thousand....
My heart both throbs with joy and aches all at the same time - so much story to be told with each face, each person.  So much life lived and shared.   

These people have a lot to do with the woman I am today - and to have all of them in one photo, in the here and the now.....

Last night we told told tales and gave testimony to the wild ride that God has seemed to have all of us on individually.  A battle with cancer.  A change in careers.  The birth of a new ministry.  A move across the country back to Texas home.  Raising families.  My own North Dakota saga.  It was sweet and it was good to see where God is just as big and wild with others and their own story, and how walking with Him is both heart-wrenching and fulfilling for others as it has been for me.

What is special about this particular group of people is that God brought each and every one of them in to my life when I needed them most.  Each and every one of them has filled holes in my heart, brought me encouragement, provided for a need, and has been a shoulder or a listening ear.

During high school when it felt like my family was falling apart, my youth pastor, and his wife, Bill and Molly, loved on me and cared for me.  Youth group, youth events, youth anything at church was a bright and shining part in the years that were full of sadness and loss for me.

Bill and Sandy basically adopted me as one of their own during that time too - I nearly lived there in high school and in my early twenties I did actually call their home my own for a a few months while I recovered from some awful financial blunders.

Arlie was a teacher and mentor to me, especially as a young adult, and taught me how to study the Scriptures and helped me solidify my faith and why I believe what I believe.

And Sarah....my oldest, dearest and best of friends.  She has seen me at my worst and loved me the same.  She has been the hands and feet of Jesus to me in all of the 17 years I have known her.  She is and always will be my foreverest friend as our hearts are knit together in the Anne-and-Diana-bosom-friend kind of way.

Last night, at a little reunion to visit Bill and Sandy who had traveled from Montana for a visit, we shared laughter, tears, food, prayer, singing and reminiscing over the goodness of the past.  Where God has been rich in love and mercy and abundant in grace and has showered all of us with these forever friendships that have spanned the course of 20 years.

And hopefully many, many more to come.

There aren't enough words in the world to speak of my joy and gratitude and thankfulness for how God cast these men and women into my life-story. Oh my heart.....my cup runneth over.

July 5, 2013

The fourth of fourths

Our family is still young and in the formative years.  Putting thought into how we spend our time together as a family, how we can deepen and enrich even the ordinary days, and what traditions we will build on over time are conversations we have often, especially when a holiday is around the corner.  
 When it comes to special times of the year, and especially birthdays and holidays, those are the memories I hope our boys can look back on and remember with fondness and what we did to make it special for them.  Our desire is that they will be able to look back and see where we wrote lavish celebration and meaningful times together into their childhood stories.
 July is a season of celebration for us.  It starts out with a bang as we celebrate Independence Day with all of it's patriotic glory and firework amazingness.  And Tommy's birthday is shortly behind it on 21st and there has always been excitement buzzing in the house as the day approaches - especially now that he's older and looks forward to his birthday with eager anticipation.

 Our holiday yesterday was one for the memory books.  We spent most of our day poolside with friends.  
 We grilled out, held each other's babies, gave piggy back rides in the pool and we helped ourselves to a kitchen full of patriotic-themed goodies.  


We laughed and played and then ended the night with a trip out to Lake McQueeney to join some other friends for a big fireworks extravaganza.  They shoot off fireworks right from the lake and you have the most incredible view in their own backyard.  We couldn't have had a better seat.
  It was quite possibly the most amazing display of fireworks I have literally ever seen in my entire life.  They were so close, so big, so awe-inspiring. It was absolutely extravagant.  Words or pictures simply cannot capture how my heart was stirred in last night's glorious display.
 On the ride home, Todd and I looked at each other and said - oh, we're doing that again next year!

It was a sweet day for us - full of fellowship and friendship and sweet community. 

 It was indeed the fourth of fourths.

July 4, 2013


Today we celebrate freedom as a nation and country and people.  We celebrate the rights and privileges that we have as citizens of the United States of America.  We honor those who have fought for those freedoms, we reflect on our nation's history and where we have come from.  We party, we barbecue, we watch magnificent displays of fireworks, we get decked out in red, white and blue.  It's all a fabulous jubilee.

We will be celebrating in like fashion today as I am currently packing our bags with swimwear, sunscreen, and potato chips and making sure that all of us are dressed appropriately in patriotic colors. 

This morning, I also celebrate the freedom I have in Jesus - the true and real freedom-giver.  Remembering a very special time where a little over two years ago, I walked away from the chains and bondage that had a choke-hold on me for nearly a lifetime. 

I partied my ass off.  I danced (for the first time) until the music stopped.  I will always remember that day, that moment, that night of celebration.  It will forever be a moment in time I will always remember where I accepted the freedom that Jesus had for me.  And two years later, though it can be often temping to pick up those chains and try them on for size, I am still walking in that same freedom.  I am still celebrating.

If the Son has set us free - we are free indeed.  

We are free! 

May you be walking in the freedom Jesus has for you.

Happy Independence Day!

July 1, 2013


 Friends.  Sweet, precious, real, hilarious friends.

My FOUR month old baby boy.  Smiles, giggles, spit-bubbles.

My biggest boy - learning to write.

Family selfies.  Family memories.
Spiderman themed party-planning.

Oldest and dearest of friends.  And lots of little boy chaos!

 Texas skies.  Sunsets.  Eucharisteo.  Joy.  Contentment.