Tag Archives: joy

Facing Forty-Five

It’s the day after my birthday. I just finished reading and replying to all of the thoughtful facebook messages left on my wall. Yes, I realize that facebook suggests and reminds and encourages, but that is all it does. It invites. It is up to each person to choose to respond or not. There is total freedom.

A friend texts to ask, How is day number 2 of a new number treating you? For the first time in a long time, maybe ever, I feel really, really hopeful about entering a new year. I really do. And I say this to those who are 42 or 36 or 29 or 24 and unsure of where they are and how they feel about life right now. I get that. So very much. Don’t give up hope!

There were many slogging along years and disappointing birthdays. There were times I didn’t think I would make it to another birthday. There were years of hard work and dry days where another birthday felt like checking another box off of the list of my life.

This birthday was different. Even my husband noticed that I seemed different. I think I was.

I worked really hard to be present and not borrow stress from the upcoming days and all that we have to do. I really tried to just enjoy the now. Having a little birthday buddy helped somewhat, but it also made for an exhausting day.

I woke early to excitement and pastries and cherries. There were gifts to open for both me and Mae and children to drive to school. My husband snapped a picture of us for facebook. My morning face isn’t getting any younger, for sure!

coffee and pastries

There was an awards ceremony for a fifth-grader, a shopping trip with my little birthday buddy, and a quick nap grabbed before lunch with my mom.

Little Mae

I was so proud of myself for knowing that I needed, and allowing myself to take, a nap!

Lunch was enjoyed at a downtown restaurant all the way to cake before heading back to pick up my girl and gear up for the afternoon car routine.

The fifth-grader and I looked at her yearbook together over a milkshake after dropping the other siblings at home. It was fun one-on-one time. When we got home, later than usual, there were flowers and a box on the porch and cards in the mailbox. My phone rang with a call from my adult son.

birthday booty

Daddy brought home dinner, so I didn’t have to cook. When Little Mae asked, What about the cake? we exchanged glances. There was no cake. There was a cake on the last day of school. There will be cake at her birthday party tomorrow. It’s okay that there was no cake. Facetime popped up on my phone with a beautiful girl on the other side. Child 3.

After we ate, the girls rode bikes outside with their dad watching, and I snuck away to my room for exactly five minutes before another wave of well-wishers arrived. That’s how the day went. Lots of exhausting celebration.

Once the children were all in bed, Steve and I walked the dog and settled onto the porch swing for a bit to catch up. All became quiet, and the day wound down, and I found myself not wanting it to end. But I also found myself eager to wake in the morning to begin another year and to embrace the new season that is coming as I face forty-five.

Thank you all for making my day so special! I felt the love.


PS Steve and I ended the day by coloring the first page of my new book together with my new pencils. Can you guess who the architect was?

Friendship Friday ~ Siblings and Sticky Nuggs

If there is no picture to document the event, no social media post about it, did it really happen?

This is the question I ask myself while thinking back to last Friday’s fun.

Firstborn and her husband drove from Richmond to take the four youngest to see Zootopia, leaving an open date night for the luvvvah and me. Excitement mounted for all, but maybe for me the most as everyone drove off in the minivan at 4:00 to get to the movie on time.

A quiet, though uneventful, late afternoon resulted in helping with the cleaning and the pizza-making before heading out to meet up with friends for a double date night starting at the new Ruby’s Arcade and ending up at Billy Jack’s.

I intentionally left my phone at home, tired of feeling tethered to it. Steve brought his along for the emergency factor, because aren’t we all living in a low-level constant state of urgent emergency?

I mean, KIDS! Who KNOWS what could happen that we might need to handle INSTANTLY. Oh yeah, and social media.

We walked downtown for a quick wine-tasting before heading over to Ruby’s. Once there, we claimed a table and began the wait for our friends and much-overdue time together. While waiting, we ran into many MORE friends, which is a 23 years in a small town perk. We were not the only ones excited about a new downtown venue.

Our friends arrived, and it was catch-up time over glasses of beer and wine. There was much laughter and good conversation. It was 9:30 when we finally walked over to Billy Jack’s, my first time inside after walking or driving past daily.

It was also my first adventure with sticky nuggs, which is my son’s favorite food group. I admit, they were tasty, and I enjoyed the frenetic dining experience. More laughter and not a few awkward moments later, we realized it was time to be heading home. Steve and I excused ourselves and began what I love about where I live ~ the walk home.

It is great to be able to have an entire date night out on foot!

Returning home, we spent time with our adult daughter catching up on life over a glass of wine before heading to bed. It was such a great time, leaving me eagerly anticipating my friend coffee date the next morning!

Friendship Friday’s are the best!

Even when you don’t have pictures to prove that they happened.

This Cup

She arrives home from school with a sunny face. I accept her offer of tea brought to my room where I have been holed-up sick today. Lemongrass green tea has just enough caffeine to take the edge off of a headache and just enough lemongrass to soothe angry intestines.

She is growing up. Tonight is her first middle school musical, and she is on stage crew. I am proud of her initiative and drive. She grasped this opportunity on her own. Her wings are growing at breakneck speed, and she eagerly strains to try them out at every opportunity.

I’m grateful for big brothers to send to the opening performance for support. I am grateful that Roo got to see the show on Tuesday as part of a school trip. I am grateful that her dad can go tomorrow night, and I can go on Saturday.

I am grateful that her face lit up when I mentioned going along for pizza afterwards with the cast for Saturday’s cast party. Her face doesn’t always light up at the idea of having me close, but sometimes it does.

I am grateful for the cute outfits her dad helped her to find earlier this week. She looks grown-up in the best of ways as she changes into dark patterned leggings and a black shirt and comes to hug me goodbye.

I love her. Today I can actually feel the love. It’s big. I am grateful.

I’m grateful for the words and music of Sara Groves and Ellie Holcomb from the song This Cup on Sara’s latest album, Floodplain.

What if my whole world falls apart?
What if my life could be different?
What if I sat right here and took you in without the fear
and loved you whole
without the flight and didn’t try to pass
this cup?

I often struggle with my cup. Struggle to take it and embrace it and delight in it. Struggle to love and be present in the hard. That’s no secret. But in this moment with tea at the right temperature and a heart full of gratefulness for a girl growing up, I lift this chipped, imperfect, coffee cup filled with tea and love.


Working it Out

The Lord will work out His plans for my life-

For your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.

Do not abandon me, for you made me.

Psalm 138:8

Powerful confidence – The Lord working out His plans for my life. He made me! He gave me a job to do. He will not abandon me.

Can I thank Him for the job He has given me? Quit wrestling, questioningdemanding to know why? Turn what feels like drudgery into thankful acceptance? Even joy?

In this moment I feel hope! It seems possible that, yes, I can learn to be content. I might even feel a hint of joy.

Do I have confidence that Christ through His suffering is able to help me through mine?

Do you?

Jesus, help me to never forget.

Friendship Friday ~ Sister Love

I have been looking forward to this post for weeks. Ever since I knew that I would get a weekend with my sister around the time of the birthday that she shares so close to Grammy, I couldn’t wait to write about our time together.

It was wonderful. We laughed and cried and laughed a lot more. I LOVE being with my sister. Time together is never enough.

We had girls’ night with Mom and Grammy.544918_10152404786648483_8394842046929499919_nWe slept over, sharing secrets and dreaming of the charms to wishlist for our Pandora bracelets.10423267_738567129546657_8644179348919524612_n She was at church for a special time, as her little namesake took membership vows to join. My friend, Kathleen, will appreciate that someone came up to me Sunday and said, Don’t tell me this is one of your children, too?! IMG_2437Um, no, this is my sister.1016931_10152510985273235_7636329918823508929_n Little Roo has a tender heart just like her auntie.IMG_2303I often find her reading her Bible in the morning. So precious. It was her idea to talk to the elders and join the church. It was so special to have Dave and Burress be the elders who came to talk with her. She was a newborn when we came to Covenant.

Back to sister time . . .

It was good for my heart to have someone who hears it so clearly, who understands shopping angst and is willing to enter the dressing room and body image chaos with me, who knows me and all of my shortcomings from wayback and chooses to love me anyway.

I love my sister. I am so grateful for the fleeting moments we had together last weekend.

It’s never enough. Time together is never enough and always a gift. It was an exercise in being able to embrace the moments that we did have.

I love you, D!!!!! Can’t wait until Christmas.

Throwback to the Pumpkin Patch

Standing on the landing with your back to Fall Blessings, you face this display. It is full and cluttered, but each object is special. Meaningful.

The sister picture lives there year-round under the star, because we are super-stars. I love my kindred spirits and how they keep me grounded.

Underneath is a bowl selected at Soup Night last spring. I love the tree etched into the pottery. I wish the artist had scratched a name in the back, but it remains anonymous.

To the left is the annual family picture. I love to see it every day many times a day. Close-by lies an interesting rock, just because it fits.

To the right is a ceramic mother sheep with her babies, a gift from long ago. This captures my love for sheep and for the Good Shepherd who gently leads those who are with young, who gently led me for so many years, who continues to lead me as I grow older.

Underneath it all lies a scarf, a gift from Africa. I use this as a runner. It reminds me of the gift of community and friendship.

Propped up for the season is the pumpkin patch picture that brought on tears when I got it out.


There is always a story.

Ever so many years ago, before Aunt Bear and Uncle P were married, they took three littles to the pumpkin patch one fall. I honestly can’t remember many details from that season of life, so I am grateful for pictures.

The top picture is daughter one. The middle is son one joining her. The bottom adds precious babygirl two. Such sweetness.

I am grateful for younger siblings who have loved my children well and captured memories for me and made memories for my children when I was in a fog. These pictures are so, so precious. I love these little people who have grown into adults who continue to bless my heart.

Throwing it back! Enjoy your day.

Risk and Reward

In April, 2014, I took a risk.

I risked writing and submitting my thoughts to a blog written by women I admire, following their guest post submission guidelines.

The seed of this desire was planted last summer, when I first discovered the blog Red Tent Living. Each month I thought, next month I will try to get something submitted by the first, but each very full month came and went with no post.

It was an exercise in kindness and grace for my heart, since I was the only one who knew this desire and the only one allowing the voice of contempt and failure in when I fell short.

I spent much time this year, over these months, learning to quiet that voice.

One April Saturday, working in the yard with my husband, our quiet space in the bigness of life, it came to me that now is the time. I needed to just do it and go to my room and write about the strawberries.

I did it.

I sat in my Pinterest Corner and wrote and figured out how to submit the words.

Then I waited.

I knew that the post may or may not be accepted. I knew that taking the risk of putting myself out there might mean rejection. I knew that rejection of a post does not equal rejection of a person.

I’m telling you, there was a lot I had to learn in life to get to the place of even trying!

Having set a goal and now trying for it, all I could do was wait. The waiting process was a challenge in itself to one who has many voices to settle in her head.

Then it came.

The email thanked me for my submission and said that while May’s schedule was full, my post would fit June’s themes, as well. It would be published the first week of June.

All along, I had told myself, and come to terms with, whatever happened was the right thing and time. Even rejection would be right. To find out that my first real published work would take place the week of my birthday was a huge hug for my heart.

Those strawberry pots? They looked like this last Friday. . .

strawberry pots

And like this on Saturday. . .

empty space

. . .when my girl and boy returned from their honeymoon and took them to their new home.




And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Matthew 6:28-29

A big part of planning a wedding is deciding what everyone will wear. In this family that meant not only the bride but seven other siblings, a mother, and father.

The boys were easy. They got measured for tuxedos.

The bride went shopping last fall with her sister, maid of honor. They found a beautiful dress that I didn’t see on my girl until the fitting in March. It was stunning and part of the wedding budget, so it didn’t count towards our family out-of-pocket expense.

The bridesmaids wore gray dresses and yellow Toms chosen online, so daughter two had her own one size fits all adventure. She looked beautiful. She also covered her own cost being an adult and everything.

The three little sisters were junior bridesmaids and flower girl. This is where I had to become more involved, shopping and choosing clothes that would fit in our family budget as opposed to our wedding one.

Coco’s turquoise sparkly dress was an after Easter find at Belk for under $20. The shoes were a measure of grace from Target, because she has hard-to-fit feet.

Roo’s yellow dress was found, surprisingly enough, at Costco for under $30. Her shoes were a Target find.

Little Mae’s flower girl dress was discovered after Easter at Kohl’s. It was a bargain at $25. Such mercy. I had tried a dress for her from Costco, but after seeing the bride’s gown, I realized it was too bright of a white. It became Mae’s Easter dress. Her sparkly shoes were on sale at Target. 

I think we clothed our three little maids for under $120. Not bad for wedding attire.

Which leaves the Mother of the Bride. I’m sure you are just on the edge of your seat wondering where I found such a perfect dress.

Of course there is a story.

I’m recognizing this tendency in myself to put big things off in denial fashion. This happened with dress shopping for my MOB dress.

I didn’t even begin looking for one until late spring when I poked around some online stores, narrowing options and studying styles. I don’t exactly live in a fashionable city. At least that’s what I told myself. It hasn’t really stopped me from clothes shopping before.

Originally I wanted a purple gown, but my slowness and hesitancy caused me to miss the boat when the groom’s mom chose her own lovely purple dress. Time for plan B.

An over the mountain shopping day was planned with my big girls, and it was to be the day that I found the dress. This was late April, and I became so, so sick, that we had to cancel. Things were not looking good. The mother of the bride is expected to have a dress.

One day an email came from my sister across the country who had come out to visit for the shower but was unable to attend the wedding. In it were links to three different dresses.

The first link has 3 different shades of purple!
wish we could shop for a weekend!!!
i miss you and sorry to miss this precious time with you.
hugs, D

The dress in the first link was perfect. Instead of purple, I chose it in reef, and a few days later a dress arrived in the mail.

The denial thing was still going on, as it hung on the back of my bedroom door, still encased in a plastic bag, not tried on for several days. Finally, I worked up the nerve to unwrap it and pull it over my head, and it fit perfectly! The only thing needed were high heeled shoes, it was that long.

I never wear heels; my sister has amazing style with them, so I channeled her during a special shoe shopping trip with my daughter. We picked a pair of sparkly sandals.

After the purchase, Katie asked if I was okay. You just got really quiet.

I think it was the finality of it all. I had my dress, shoes, and a passable necklace (I ended up purchasing a different one the day before the wedding). It was really time for this wedding to happen.

It was even more special to me that my sister had been part of the dress and shoe selection process from afar. And for inquiring minds, the MOB was outfitted for under $250. I think she was worth it.

Jump Rope, Anyone?

Anybody need some new jump rope rhymes? Here are some composed by the clever students in my class.


Chipmunk, Chipmunk in a tree
How many acorns do you see?
One, two, three…

Jaguar, Jaguar in the zoo
How many meals do they feed you?
One, two, three…

One, two…blue chippoo
Three, four…The-o-dore
Five, six…chocolate sticks
Seven, eight…tummyache
Nine, ten…do it again.

Cheddar cheese, cheddar cheese in a dish
How many chipmunks will eat the dish?
One, two, three…

(Child’s name, child’s name) took a sprocket
And with it he built a rocket
How long did the countdown take?
One, two, three…

Did you have a favorite jump rope rhyme as a child? Do share!