Spilled Out

This year has been a challenge for everyone for so many different reasons. Covid, quarantine, masks, virtual school, changed routines... the list goes on and on… but I am super proud of our daughters and how they have not just “survived” this school year- they have THRIVED! My oldest is a senior and my youngest is a sophomore in high school. All my “senior” wanted to do this year was to go to Orlando Florida to Universal Studios to celebrate her graduation.

When we looked into packages, we realized it was way cheaper for us to go in the spring instead of the heat of summer, so we spent the last week in Florida- and it was AMAZING!

Our family, along with one of the girls’ closest friends, spent a full 7 days together. The schedule was not for the faint of heart- my senior had a list of must-do things at Universal- one of which was riding a new Harry Potter themed roller coaster- “Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Ride”. I found out that on the opening day of this ride, people actually waited in line for 10 HOURS to ride it! Did I say 10 HOURS?!?!? When I found that out, I wasn’t sure if we would actually make it on this ride or not! But all things worked out, and after only a couple of hours waiting, we were able to ride it 2 times! (and it was TOTALLY worth the wait!!!)

We walked over 8 miles a day when we were at Universal… and basically stood in line for hours every day. But something amazing happened- we actually ENJOYED being together! We were tired, but we had the best time!

One of the gift shops had this quirky “Thing 1 and Thing 2” Dr Seuss coffee cup that we fell in love with. The girls said that it was definitely a “need” for me, since I love coffee so much. It was my last purchase while we were at the park.

This morning, I pulled out that new mug and watched the Keurig fill it up with coffee to the tippy top. The funny thing is that the top is actually tilted- it looks like two coffee cups stacked on top of one another, so it’s quirky for sure! And wouldn’t you know it- as soon as I picked it up, the coffee spilled out. I guess it’s hard to hold an uneven topped coffee cup straight ūüôā

I am so thankful for the amazing week with my family- and their special friend who is very much like a part of our family. There wasn’t a single moment that entire week that I wished I was home, or that I could be alone, or go off by myself to “recharge”. That week reminded me of how much I love my family, how much I enjoy their company, and how blessed I am. I didn’t know how badly I needed that week with them! Isn’t it funny how this gift to our “senior” turned out being a gift for all of us ūüôā Who would have known that to “recharge”, I needed to spend MORE time with my family?!

As my coffee spilled out this morning, I felt joy spilling out of me.

It’s good to be home…but I will never forget the amazing week we had together.

Lord, You alone are my portion and my cup- Psalm 16:5

The best coffee cup EVER
me and my bff
Hogwarts Castle
My hubby and his favorite ride- Spiderman!
The dragon in Dragon Alley
All in the family
my “senior”
The sunset on the ride home

Available

One morning I woke up and I knew that the Lord was asking me to do something. When this happens, I am on a mission… obsessed with completing whatever the “thing” is the Lord wants me to do.

This “thing” was getting the Covid vaccine. I will admit to you that I was on the fence for a while about it. I am healthy, not high risk at all, but I knew that if the Lord wanted me to do it that I would know. And one morning my hubby called me while I was working and asked me about getting it. As soon as we finished our conversation, I knew that the Lord wanted me to do it.

So I checked numerous websites, and finally ended up waiting in an online list. I knew it might be a while, because it kept saying “wait time over one hour”. Now, this was just the site to sign up for a time for the vaccine. And so I kept waiting… and waiting… and waiting…

And nearly 5 HOURS LATER, I was sent to the home screen to sign up for a time. I entered my zip code, and it said no appointments available.

I really really wanted to throw the laptop across the room.

I had waited 5 hours…5 HOURS… only to end up right back at square one.

I knew if the Lord really did want me to do it, that He would make a way for it to happen, so I resigned myself to not thinking about it anymore this week.

And then something really cool happened.

I was supposed to teach some make-up music lessons this week, and then ended up not needing to do it. Guess how many hours these lessons equalled? Yep- 5 hours! Those hours I spent waiting for a non-existent appointment were given back to me in the form of rest.

And then another really cool thing happened.

My husband received an email this morning from a coworker asking if he wanted to receive a vaccine today, and that one of the clinics had vaccine appointments available and spouses were also welcome to receive one, too. I told him that was totally a God thing- and that we should definitely do it. We went, received our vaccines, and it could not have been easier.

I used to be fearful of stepping out of the “boat” to do the things I felt God telling me to do.

Not anymore.

These days, I fear NOT doing the thing the Lord asks me to do- because He is ALWAYS faithful. His ways and thoughts are so much higher and wiser than mine, so when I hear that still, small voice- I answer “yes” every time!

I want to always be available for Him. When I do whatever the “thing” is that God asks me to do, I am immediately filled with peace.

So my 5 hours didn’t end up in an appointment- but God made another way.

After all, He is the WAYMAKER ūüôā

The Greatest present

My first baby turned 18 this past Monday.

All she wanted was to go to IKEA to get a desk (and a few other ‚Äúmust haves‚ÄĚ). ¬† She asked me a few weeks ago if I would take her. I said “Hmm…. let me think about it…”,

but I already knew the answer ūüôā

That was an easy “yes” for me. The fact that my 18 year old WANTED to spend the day with me was the GREATEST present I could have asked for ‚̧ԳŹ

Here’s the funny thing- I have always said I hated going to IKEA. Honestly, I can’t even remember when I went- I was probably just a kid. But I could distinctly remember NOT enjoying the experience! So much so, that I have avoided going as an adult at all cost- until this week!

And let’s just say that I now have fallen in love with IKEA, and I have my own “wish list” for my next visit ūüôā

The desk my daughter got for her birthday. She built it as soon as we got home!
My beautiful birthday girl ‚̧ԳŹ

Presents

the greatest gift

is your

presence

Last week was my husband’s birthday. I admit that I am not a good “gift giver”. It’s not that I don’t enjoy giving gifts, or purchasing things for others- it’s the pressure of looking for that perfect thing- the one that will make someone feel like the king (or queen) of the world, as Leonardo DiCaprio says in the movie Titanic. And let’s face it- as adults, most of us have what we need– and if we don’t, then we just buy it!

The girls and I got him a few things that we knew he would like, but we knew the best present to give him was the gift of being with friends. He is an extroverted “people person” and loves being social- and he also enjoys playing games. So the girls and I planned a small murder mystery game party with a few of our closest friends (who are like our family).

And I think I was the one who received the greatest gift that night…

As an introvert, I love watching people and taking in the scene. I watched the joy and excitement on my hubby’s face that evening and it was such a blessing to me. It was a blessing to be with our close friends, and to see the girls’ and my “gift” played out (pun intended ūüôā all evening long!

The greatest gift YOU can ever give is yourself

your time, your talents, your attention…

your PRESENCE.

In YOUR presence there is fullness of JOY- Psalm 16:11

If only I’d known

As we sat down to dinner at the dining room table, I couldn’t wait to eat. Any meal I don’t have to cook is a good one, and I had picked up Chinese take out for all of us. I got one of my favorite meals- chicken with cashew nuts. Honestly, the only thing I love about it is the cashews- I LOVE roasted cashews! That is absolutely the best part of the meal.

As I ate, I dug around and picked out each cashew. It’s kind of like saving dessert for last- who’s got time for that?! I wanted to eat the good stuff first! And then the saddest moment happened. I searched and searched… and low and behold- I had already eaten the last cashew.

Well, if I had known it was my last one, I would have enjoyed it even more!

All day I’ve been thinking about those little things that “…if only I’d know were the last..” , I would have appreciated it so much more.

-Like the last time I ran a bath for the girls and helped them wash their hair. Oh, the splashing and giggling I would hear!

-or the last time I nursed them as babies

-Or the last time I read my girls a bedtime story and tucked them in

-or tied their shoes

-or kissed them on the cheek

-walked them to the bus stop

-held their hand

If I had known back then that those moments would be the last time I would “get to” do all those little things-

I certainly would have taken the time to remember and enjoy!

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My house


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It’s hard to believe it’s been 16 years since my husband and I packed up and moved to Charlottesville with our 1 year old daughter. I never imagined we would move away from our hometown, but literally everything fell into place and it just felt like that was where God wanted us to be.

I had been thinking about that date for a while- July 10th. For the last few months, I have noticed how not only have my girls have grown up, but so has everything around my house! The trees in front of our dining room window tower over the house now. I sat on our front porch steps recently and saw all the little markings in the wood- remembering the days when the girls were little and I would sit outside with a watchful eye on them.

And it all seems to have happened overnight.

The funny thing was- that date came and went and I completely forgot! But the next day, the four of us were driving into town to get Chick-fil-A, and one of my daughters remembered and mentioned it.

“Hey- wasn’t yesterday the day y’all moved here? It’s been the best 16 years of your life, hasn’t it?” one of my daughters said to me with a cheshire grin.

Yes it has.

Want to know why?

I could go on and on about how wonderful my daughters are and how super proud I am of them for so many things. Or I could say it’s because of my husband and what a great dad he is and how thankful I am for all he does for us. Or all my sweet fur-babies… two dogs and two bunnies (which belong to my oldest daughter)…

But of all the wonderful things I have to be thankful for, there is only one that is worthy of all my praise and that is Jesus.

These have absolutely been the best years of my life and it’s all because I surrendered all of my desires and plans to His. He has been so faithful and I have seen Him work not only in my life, but in the lives of so many others, including my family.

Do you know how awesome it is that my 17 and 15 year old daughters WANT to come to church early with me on Sundays?

I am blessed.

But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15

 

this much

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How much does God love you?

One of my fondest childhood memories is of my dad asking me and my sister if we knew how much he loved us.

This much? Рhe would say as he open his arms a little bit.

Thiiis much?  He would open his arms a little bit wider.

Thiiiiiiiiiis  much!  And then he would stretch his arms out as wide as they could reach.

It is hard to quantify love and our capacity to love in tangible ways, but yesterday I saw a glimpse of how much God loves me.

I tweaked my back yesterday morning- simply bending over to give my dogs a treat of all things.  The pain was so severe- I felt sick to my stomach all day from it.

And since both my oldest daughter and my hubby are working all day, ¬†my youngest daughter and I were supposed to spend the day together doing whatever she wanted to do. ¬†Shopping- of course ūüėČ

If you have a teen, you know that shopping days aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. ¬†Shopping with her brings back a flood of emotions from my own childhood. ¬†Nothing ever fit me- and anything that I liked, or that actually fit- was waaaay out of my price range. ¬†Shopping always sounded like a better idea than it actually was.

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So after trying on lots of clothes and not finding anything, my daughter picked out a pair of earrings.  Earrings ALWAYS fit-  and she really needed another pair.

We went to another store and after trying several things on, we left empty handed.  Again.  

As we sat in the car, I began to tear up remembering what it felt like to go clothes shopping at her age.  The earrings she was wearing were hurting her ears, so she took out the new pair to put them on.  As soon as she got the first one out of the box, it slipped out of her hand and lodged itself in between the car seat and the middle console.

 Now we were both crying!

My back was hurting so bad, but not as badly as I wanted to find that earring for her!

I hobbled around to the back seat and could see the earring laying on the floorboard- but it was on the crease of two pieces of carpet.  As soon as I reached for it, it slipped between the crease and then it was out of reach.  I tried everything I could to get it and then out of the blue a man and his daughter came over to the car.

Is everything ok?  He asked me.

Yeah- my daughter just lost her new earring….

Let me see if I can get it.  

And like that- he was on his knees, pulling the carpet back, pushing the car seat to and fro. At one point, he was trying so hard to reach it, he cut his hand on something under the seat.

It’s ok- we will look for it later-¬†I said, knowing this earring was probably not going to be found.

Let me keep trying- I might be able to get it! 

He looked for at least 15 minutes for that earring. ¬†He could feel it, but was unable to grab it. ¬†It meant so much that this stranger and his daughter cared enough to try to help us. ¬†Even though he wasn’t able to get the earring for us- it was like he felt my momma heart breaking.

He asked me how much the earrings cost.

I said several times that they were cheap, it wasn’t a big deal. ¬†And then without a second thought, he pulled out his wallet and handed me money.

I can’t take this, I told him. ¬†The earrings didn’t even cost that much. ¬†Really- it’s ok! I’m just thankful you tried to help us!¬†

And then he said something I won’t forget-

“I love making people happy. ¬†I don’t want your daughter to be sad. ¬†It makes me happy to make others happy. ¬†I want her to be happy today.”

I began to cry tears of joy.

My daughter and I both hugged this man and his daughter. ¬†I told him he was an angel and that he had really blessed me today. ¬†Not only did he go through all that to try to get the earring- but then he actually gave her money to replace it?! ¬†It didn’t make sense! I tried to give the money back to him but he wouldn’t take it.

He and his daughter disappeared into the store and as I got into the car with my daughter, I was overwhelmed by God’s love. ¬†That random act of kindness came at the exact moment we needed it.

Do you know how much God loves you?

Thiiissss much- 

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Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 63:7

rainy days and Mondays always get me up!

I’m a little weird, I guess.

Because I absolutely LOVE rainy days… and Mondays, too!

Mondays are my favorites because I am usually at home alone- which means I can get so much done! ¬†The rest of the week is go-go for all of us. ¬†Between work, school, church, teaching music lessons, running the girls here and there, doing errands…the weeks sometimes feel like a rat race! And for me, the the weekends are spent preparing for Sunday’s church service. ¬† I end up putting off a lot of things I need to do until Monday, because I know that will be a quiet day when I can get a TON done, because I’m usually home alone. ¬†Monday is my “home base” day- ¬†and, did I mention- I love Mondays?!

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And when it rains, too? ¬†Well that’s just an extra blessing for me. ¬†I have always loved rainy days! ¬†I think it’s so strange how people dislike the rain. ¬†There’s something so real about it- it’s not like we melt in the rain! ¬†Sure- it might make your hair a little flat, ¬†and it might make you change your plans to stay inside- but sometimes that’s a good thing!

When I feel the rain on my skin, it makes me feel alive!

It makes my car all shiny again! (who needs a carwash when you get a good rain shower?!)

The rain reminds me that I have showers of blessings to be thankful for.

Oh- and it reminds me that I really¬†need to go water that poinsettia my husband brought home from work the other day ūüôā

“You heavens above, rain down my righteousness;
    let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide,
    let salvation spring up,
let righteousness flourish with it;
    I, the Lord, have created it.  Isaiah 45:8-10 

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expectations

in my head 

I plan ahead 

and hope that 

all works out 

until the dread 

when those best laid

plans just don’t

 pan out 

It’s no secret that I get excited easily- and it doesn’t take much! ¬† But I am finding that being excited takes a great deal of energy. ¬†And if whatever I’m excited about falls through, or doesn’t happen the way I expect- it is a huge emotional drain for me.

But I’m learning how to better manage this.

Because my expectations are actually limitations… because maybe the¬†thing I was expecting is not what God is directing to happen!¬†

Like Thanksgiving…

I think holidays can be a huge let-down. We have this expectation of how we are supposed to celebrate- all our extended family gathered around a table. ¬†Singing carols, sharing stories. ¬†Happy and full of joy. ¬†It doesn’t help that we have all of our acquaintances and friends on social media posting all of their camera worthy moments (me included!)- which just puts even more pressure on everyone to have the perfect day!

But my hubby woke up under the weather on Thanksgiving. We were supposed to travel to see both of our families, but he called his family and made the decision to stay home. ¬†I knew it would be a huge let down for us all to stay home, so I drove with the girls to see his family and then to have dinner with my family. ¬†It’s about a 3 hour drive each way.

After a fabulous dinner at my sister’s house, we started the drive home. ¬†Those 3 hours took forever.

All day I felt like I was missing something, and I couldn’t wait to be home.

As the girls and I pulled into the driveway, I saw the happiest sight. ¬†My hubby’s face was pressed against the window, waiting for us.

I was so happy to be home!  And even better was how happy my hubby was to see all of us!

If he hadn’t stayed home, I wouldn’t have had that sweet homecoming- and I wouldn’t have experienced the feeling of missing my hubby all day.

In the words of an old hair-spray band song by Cinderella-

“You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.”

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Home

the place where I can wear 

my hair 

up in a messy bun 

the place where doggies blissfully 

¬†“happy dance” under the sun¬†

the place where I can look around 

and see love in a frame

family pictures scattered ’round

showing just how far we came 

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I sort of feel like Dorthy in Oz- “there’s no place like home!” ¬†¬†I have a always been a “homebody” and enjoy having the house to myself. ¬†I can play piano, sing at the top of my lungs… snuggle with my dogs (and pet my daughter’s bunny- but don’t tell her!). ¬†But I’ll say this- being a “homemaker” is not something that comes natural to me. ¬†I don’t really have an eye for decorating, I’ve never been fond of cooking (except for baking- I LOVE making desserts!), and anyone who knows me well will tell you my home is “lived in”.

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But today I am finding joy in making my house a “home”. ¬†I am praising the Lord that I have this day to sweep up all the pine needles and the little bits of trash on our hardwood floors, and for a new steam mop that makes those floors shine! ¬†I’m praising the Lord for a brand new dishwasher- one that’s quiet and cleans and dries all my dishes to perfection!

And I’m praising the Lord for my two doggies- who always follow me and lay at my feet- no matter where I am in the house!

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And I’m praising the Lord for my two daughters who will be home soon and will help me put up our Christmas tree today!

‚ÄúIt‚Äôs been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.‚ÄĚ- Anne of Green Gables¬†

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As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord-  Joshua 24:15