February 28, 2014

One Year

Exactly one year ago today, a little bundle of baby boy beautifulness came in to the world.  Though it’s been a challenging year and at times he has enough personality for ten babies, Jacob has brought so much joy and fullness to our lives and our home. 

Tomorrow we celebrate accordingly and I have high hopes that he will come through with an entertaining cake smashing session.

Happy Birthday sweet boy.  You are so, so very loved.

February 22, 2014


February is almost gone?  It's nearly Jacob's birthday and I have monster decorations that still need making.  The big 33 is coming up for me in a few weeks.  Spring is basically here and time is flying by as it has a tendency of doing.

Winter is starting to disappear in my neck of the woods.  Glory. 

This means I get to wear my fun clothes and sandals and we can have the windows and not feel like we're going to die when we step outside anymore.  One day this week, we even needed the AC.  The warm-up also means it's time to play in the water again.  Tommy's favorite.
Valentine's Day rocked this year.  Mostly, because I was spoiled.  Rotten.  Initially when Todd didn't walk in the door with flowers that evening, my heart sank a little bit with disappointment.  But he said he had other things in mind and I should maybe trust him.  He had made reservations at our favorite Italian restaurant so we got to walk right in and sit down. And after dinner, he took me shopping.  A charm for my bracelet, shoes, and a couple of new tops.  Also, who needs flowers, when you can have SHOES? 
PS - My feet are now ready for spring, says my coral flats and fabulous Gianni Bini sandals that will go with everything.

I asked Tommy to get all of his toys off the floor the other night.  And well.....he did.
I know our kids won't be young forever and there may actually come a day that I wish for a sight of toy trucks lining the top of my sofa.

The horrifying, terrifying, disgusting stomach bug of 2014 found Todd and I a couple of nights ago.  Wednesday evening we both got sick almost at the exact same time - literally out of nowhere.  I have not been that violently ill in years, and neither has Todd who called in sick to work.  In all of the years I have known him, that was the first time he has EVER called in sick.  Thankfully, Todd's mom came to get the boys so we could try to keep germs and such contained so that they wouldn't catch it.  Also, why is it that plain toast only ever tastes good when you are recovering from something like that?
He hasn't caught the tummy bug, but my poor baby is teething so bad and is so incredibly miserable.  And sometimes he falls asleep in my arms and I can't bear to lay him down.  He will be a year old in six days.  Oh my heart.
 Enjoy the rest of your February folks.  Hope it's as warm as mine and stomach-bug free!

February 14, 2014


One of my most vivid memories of Valentine's Day goes all the way back to the 5th grade and this horribly wicked thing I did to a little boy named Robert.  He had filled my red and white tissue paper covered box with valentines asking me to be his girlfriend.  He gave me the mushiest variety that said "Be Mine" and "I love you" and not just the generic ones you are forced to give your classmates like "You're Super!"  It was clear he was into me, and he had gone above and beyond to make his 11 year-old affections known. 

When I saw him in the hallway, I winked and gave him a thumbs up, which is apparently the sign of defining the relationship in the 5th grade.  In doing so, I agreed to be his girlfriend.

The day after Valentine's Day, I saw him walking a girl named Janelle, who was only the most beautiful girl in the whole school.  I was both humiliated and infuriated that he had already moved on from his adoration of me.  (I later found out he was told to walk with her somewhere by his teacher, but details schmetails).

I proceeded to rip up every single valentine he had given to me and when I found him I asked him to open his hands because I had something to give him.  In dramatic fashion, I poured the torn up remnants of valentines into his tiny boyish hands and declared that "it was over" tossing my pony-tail violently behind me.  I can still remember the look of shock and sadness that filled his face.

I've been haunted by that memory my entire life.  Seriously, what a bitchy thing to do.  I've always been sorry and wished I could find him to apologize for being so rotten.  Hopefully, Robert has recovered from the trauma I unleashed on him and doesn't equate a day like today with his heart being ripped into shreds.  Clearly, I have spent sufficient time feeling badly for it.

Since this scene in the 5th grade, Valentine's Day has been a mixed emotion of hope and disappointment.

There was the carnation torture of my middle school years where friends or "secret admirers" could send you carnations.  And let's just say, I never received many.  And one from a "secret admirer" turned out to be a very cruel joke.  Oh middle school, I do not miss thee.

There was a "Kiss Me" conversation heart given to me from a boy at church I was convinced I was in love with.  I never really knew if he did or didn't like me, and though there was eventually a kiss, it was just the one.  The only thing I have to show for that whole non-relationship is a 20 year old conversation candy heart and 15 love letters that I never had the guts to give him.

High school was the place where I watched everyone else receive flowers and chocolates and balloons as I stood on the sidelines watching and feeling sorry for myself.  But at least, I wasn't receiving carnations from non-existent admirers.

My dad and Robin were married on Valentine's Day my senior year of high school, and I remember feeling the weight of what that meant for me.  It was the official ending and beginning of something and at the time, I didn't know how to name my ambivalence.  Today they are celebrating 15 years of marriage and celebrating accordingly in the Bahamas.  I love them both and I have fought hard for the kind of love that I love them with - I think they know that.

My boyfriend-thing in college (we had a hard time defining what exactly we were or were not) got me yellow daisies while all of my friends got red roses from their appropriately defined and labeled boyfriends.  Granted, he was looking for sunflowers, which are my most favorite flower on the planet, and yellow daisies were close I suppose.  But I felt like I was second rate, and the color and the very flower was a reminder of that.  Valentine's night, my friends and their boyfriends danced in the parking lot to Martina McBride's "Valentine" song (while so incredibly cheesy, was still quite sweet and romantic).  I so badly wanted to be dancing with my guy, but there we sat, my boyfriend-thing and I, at a picnic table not dancing.

My heart broke because I knew he didn't love me enough to want to dance with me in the parking lot.  Deep down, I knew even then that I was worth a cheesy, cliche dance in the parking lot to a cheesy, cliche song.  Every girl is.  Every single one.

I did find my Valentine eventually in the form of a tall, rugged, quiet man that won my heart many years ago now.  While we haven't danced in the parking lot to a love song yet, I know that he would if I wanted him to, because he does love me that much.

Over the years I've learned that love, the really real kind, is so much more than carnations or daisies or even the reddest of roses.  It's even more than that longed-for romantic dance in a parking lot to a cheesy love song.  And love, especially on the days that is is hard to do, is more gut-wrenching than a pile of torn up valentines.  Oh, it is so, so much more.

As I'm sure with many, this particular day of celebrating love and creating romance, is both loved and hated.  Valentine's Day has a way of putting a spotlight on our hearts of the places we are craving for more of love.  Whether it be a relationship we are hoping for, a desire for more in the one we are in, the want for children we don't have, the strain of family relationships, or disappointment in friendships, Valentine's Day seems to remind us of where we were created to love and to be loved.

Today, my simple hope is that you remember you are loved.  Fiercely, wildly, tenderly, fully, deeply and completely by the One who made you and breathed life into your soul.  He doesn't show up with roses, but He is the greatest lover my heart has ever known.  May you know that too, especially today.

Happy Valentine's Day friends.

February 11, 2014

The Silent God

For years now, I have questioned God's silence towards me in a specific place of pain.  Wondering why it has felt like He isn't there or that He doesn't care.  This personal thorn in my own flesh has been the root of much anger directed at Him.  And anger, as in any relationship, causes a rift.  I want to love God with my whole heart, but I won't give it all to Him.  I have withheld the very part from Him that He seems to withhold His presence. 

My attitude has been:  Why love you in this place, if you're not in it with me?

All of my life it seems, I have heard God's voice.  I hear His leading, His convicting, His prompting.  He is there when I pray or read His word or reach out to Him when I'm in need of comfort or peace.  He has wooed me to His heart and in turn has won my own.  But this place of hurt feels as though it has been untouched by His hands.  So naturally, I've accused Him of being careless and unloving.

I have concluded that if God doesn't fix me here it must mean something.  It must mean that I'm doing something wrong, or maybe He is working on another part of me that has to be fixed before we can move on to this thing.  It's been hard not to wonder if it is because I'm not enough.  Not Godly enough, not serving enough, not seeking enough.  Or maybe I've just missed something entirely about my faith.  Perhaps I haven't tried the right thing or prayed the right prayer or talked to the right therapist.

I've racked my brain.  I've tried to figure it out.  I've literally made lists and timelines and categorized my wounds on paper.  I've dug furiously.  I've sought help.  I've desperately searched for a missing piece to my life-story puzzle wondering what exactly needs to click into place before I am able to find some kind of complete healing that will make me whole again.  And in doing all of this, I have exhausted myself.  The looking, the searching, the finding and trying and doing.  Only becoming more frustrated with God and more tired and worn out in my anger.

Doesn't He heal and repair and restore?  Isn't God's specialty making things new?  Redeeming, restoring, re-doing the things in our lives that have been broken by our wounds?

Last week, I began to journal a familiar entry.  God, where are you?  Don't you hear me?  Do you care?  Why don't you speak to me here?  Give me some answers!  Do something!  I wrote about His silence and what it felt like.  I found myself curious.

What if His silence is my answer?  What if He is silent on purpose?  If I believe that God is good, and I do believe that He is, could I also believe that His silence is good and for my good?  Could I believe that He has a purpose in it?  What would happen if I trusted that His silence had a purpose?  Is  He really silent, or is He simply not speaking what I want Him to?

Sunday morning at church, we sang a familiar hymn.

Jesus paid it all.  All to Him I owe, I sang.

I've sung these words a hundred times before, yet I was suddenly aware of where I believe and live out the belief that the God of the universe owes me something.  The creator of the world, the Savior of my heart, Jesus who died for me, saved me and promised me eternal life - He owes me something.  He owes me healing.  He owes me His words.  He owes me an explanation.  He owes it to me to make things easier.  He owes me the desires of my heart.  He owes me and He should most definitely fix me.

Yet I sing, All to Him I owe....

If anyone is in debt, it appears to be me.  Yet, He has never made me feel that way.  Jesus tells us to ask and we shall receive.  He says to seek and we will find, to knock and we will see the opened door.  This Jesus that gave His life, that was the sacrifice for me and my sins and those committed against me - He gives and provides and does exceedingly above all that I can think or imagine.  He didn't just save me.  He is here.  He is with me.  He hasn't left me.  Even when it feels like He is absent - He can't be.  He promised He would never leave or forsake me.  He may be silent, He may not give me the answers I'm hoping for, but He is in it.

If I live my life believing that God owes me nothing and has already given me everything - maybe I might not be so angry all the time.  Maybe what's true is that He speaks different in places of pain and struggle.  Maybe what's true is that if He is silent, He has a reason.  Maybe I can make peace with God there.

Today, my heart is alive with sorrow and repentance, with tenderness and gratitude.  After months and months of struggle and feeling winter's grip on my heart, I'm beginning to feel things thaw and crack.

Spring is coming for me.  It's coming.

February 7, 2014

When the writing has to wait

And just as the laundry is put away and the dishes are humming away in the washer, and after I've showered and paid the bills and sat down and breathed in a big sigh because it's Friday and I am desperately trying to do all the things, I put my fingers to the keyboard to write the things my heart has exploded with this week....and I hear his voice.  The eleven month old who doesn't know how to talk yet, but talks at me all the time because he has so much to say.

He wakes.  Nap time ends.  And the writing waits.
Jacob....well, Jacob thinks writing is silly and doesn't understand how I could want to do anything other than enjoy his smile and chattiness and eleven month old attitude.

I suppose he has a point.  (o:

February 4, 2014

A Cup of Kindness

It's rare that I have extra time in the morning.  I usually can get ready, pack my lunch and head off to work all in the nick of time.  This morning though, I had a few extra minutes and decided to treat myself to some Starbucks seeing as I still had some money on a gift card.

When I got to the window, I was handed my coffee and the barista informed me that the woman in front of me had paid for my order.  

I've heard of this happening before, especially lately.  It seems to be the latest trend in random acts of kindness and paying it forward as these events at Starbucks have even made the news.

I smiled and gave him my card and paid for the order behind me.  Feeling giddy as I did and hoping the woman behind me would feel just as delighted when she was handed her prepaid latte. As I drove to work I smiled, and pondered how else we could think of showing kindness to one another outside of a Starbucks drive-thru.

Later in the afternoon, I spoke with an angry customer on the phone.  She accused me of lying about not having previously called her about a balance due on an order and proceeded to jab me with rude and condescending words.  She hung up on me and I slammed the phone down and began to cry.  I know people tell you not to take things like that personally or not to let them get to you, but I do.  It wouldn't be in my nature to react any other way.  I'm sensitive and tender-hearted, and when my integrity is challenged, I get emotional because I want to be heard and understood.  I tried my hardest to be both kind and professional on the phone even after her rudeness to me, I was still undone when the conversation had ended.

Moments after I let the tears come and pass, I thought about the kind gesture given to me this morning.  Perhaps the woman I spoke to was in need of some kindness.  Maybe she needed a cup of coffee or a kind word or a smile or an embrace because this world can be so cold and cruel and warmth and kindness are almost rare to stumble upon.  I began to wonder what she had going on that could make her angry enough to speak to me the way that she did.  I know at the times I've been that kind of bristly or ugly towards perfect strangers, there is a reason behind it.  And the reason is usually hurt.

Maybe it sounds cheesy or cliche, but I prayed for her.  I asked God that she could experience some comfort today.  That if she doesn't know Him that she might come to, and if she does that He would meet her in her hurt and anger and give her peace.

We have a responsibility, an obligation, and calling to care for others.  To remember that we are all fighting fierce battles - sometimes just against ourselves.  Today I was reminded to look away from myself.  To look up.  To look around and remember that a little kindness goes a very long way.

That a spoken word, a warm smile, a sincere "How are you?", or a cup of coffee could have an impact on someones day.  Even more so, it could have an impact on their life.

February 2, 2014

Here's to winter's end

It's February now, which means I survived January.  I've come to realize that I hate winter and all of it's gray deadness, so the countdown for March and the hopeful end to the wave of bitter cold fronts has begun.  Though we may not be snowed under like the rest of the country down here, it's still too cold for my liking.  I mean, I barely own any socks.  Also, I absolutely love me some south Texas sunshine and I have realized that I feel most like me when it is not winter.

We watched The Superbowl tonight.  And I had to laugh at the irony of it all.  I have never in my life sat down to purposefully watch it, and the one year I do, the commercials are lame and the winners win by a landslide.  Though the highlight of the night was a dart gun war with my friend Megan and the dance party in my living room hosted by Bruno Mars.  

My husband gave me some beautiful words on Friday night.  Overwhelmingly glorious words about who I was and how he saw me.  And maybe when you're husband tells you something, with tears streaming down his face, you believe him.  I've been wondering all weekend what it would mean if I really believed that what he said was true about me.

It's been a year ago that Todd left for North Dakota.  It's been a year since we embarked on that whole adventure, which we thought was a job that would result in our moving away.  Yet, here we are, back in the same old routine of life, yet it's all been different too.  The whole experience changed me, hurt me, and grew me.  But it was painful, and the aftermath has been painful.  In some ways, last year's risks and decisions feels like they were but a breath ago, and in others, it feels like a lifetime ago too.

My baby boy turns one at the end of the month.  I keep telling people it's been the longest year that ever flew by.  What a challenge it's been.  I still don't feel like I have this two kids thing down yet AT ALL.  And at the same time, Jacob has brought so much joy into our home that it makes the challenge worth it.

Naturally, I'm planning a party and the "theme" I selected fits him well.  Wait and see.

Cleaning my home this weekend, I found more chili crusted to my dining room chair.  It really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Another cold front blew in today.  Another comes in later this week with more talks of icy rain mixed with snow and sleet.  Which translates to the city shutting down and having to use my heater.  Have I mentioned that I'm not a fan of winter?

It's late and I'm tired.  Yet I've wanted to fill up some kind of space in my little cranny in the blogworld.  Looking back, I wrote all of three times in January.  I've decided winter sucks the life out of me.  And the creativity and writing and my general sparkle.

Here's to winter's end.  Here's to hoping I find more words in February.  And here's to finding more of me.