I Sing Because I'm Free

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adulting

My girls went back to school yesterday.

It brings me JOY.. and it also makes me a little bit sad.  I remember all those years I dreamed of having a baby, and in my own naiveté, I thought those toddler years would last forever.  But I blinked, and my girls have grown up overnight.

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We celebrated so many firsts when they were little… their first giggle, their first bite of real food, their first steps… then came their first days of school… losing their first teeth…

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And now those “firsts” are becoming fewer and farther between. With one in 7th grade, and the other in 9th grade, I had to literally beg them for a first-day-of-school picture.  Gone are the days of them running to give me hugs when they get off the school bus, or them wanting to tell me all about their day.  I feel them trying to pull away from me and it is hard.

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But this time at our back-to-school night, I witnessed another first… 

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My oldest, who normally hides behind me- afraid to speak to anyone;  she actually introduced herself to all of her teachers-  on her own! And then she even asked them important questions- like about testing and whether they accepted late work.  And for the first time, I watched her beam with confidence as she walked down the hallways, waving and smiling at her friends.

My oldest was adulting… and it was one of my proudest “mom” moments yet!  Those little girl days may be a fading memory, but growing up is a good thing!IMG_4676

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.

1 Corinthians 13:11 

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pardon me, dude-

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Pardon me, dude-

I don’t mean to be

rude,

but I’m not

in the mood

for your

‘tude!

We had the most aMAZing week earlier this summer! The girls and I took a trip with our friends to Florida.  We went to Universal Studios Theme Park and it was absolutely fabulous!

If you know anything about my girls, you know that they are huge Harry Potter fanatics. So to say that their dreams came true is a slight understatement.  Harry Potter World at Universal did not disappoint- and even I was amazed!

But what I didn’t expect was how much fun we had in the Dr Seuss park! The lines were incredibly short and even I found my inner child as we rode the whimsical rides and listened to the wild rhymes of Dr Seuss.

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One night we were so tired that we couldn’t stop giggling.  You know how when you get overly tired how everything seems funny?  Well all of us girls were snuggled into the hotel beds, and I came up with that poem and I laughed so hard that I couldn’t even get it out.  I was trying to be serious, trying to get them to settle down and go to sleep, but even I couldn’t stop myself from laughing!

I am so thankful for that special week with my girls, and also for the reminder that you’re never too old to be a kid!fullsizeoutput_21f0

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10

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Oh my, oh golly-

how long it’s been

since I have seen

that number “10”

I’ll shout it from the roof tops,

I’ll say it again-

It’s the number 10

for the big WIN!

Remember my new year’s resolution to get  Lean in ’17?   I am happy to report that I’m still going strong!  In fact, I had the joyous experience of wearing a pair of size 10 jeans today!  I haven’t worn a size 10 in over 10 years!  Praise the Lord!  And more importantly- I’m feeling groovy!

I bet you’re humming that old classic Simon and Garfunkel song now, aren’t you 😉

As I got ready to leave the house yesterday, I went tell my hubby my good news-

“Babe!  Guess what?!  I am wearing a SIZE 10!  Can you believe it?!”

He lovingly smiled and said-

“You’ve always been a perfect 10 to me!”

Husbands, love your wives, 

just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her- Ephesians 5:25

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remember the “green lights”

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I began dating my husband when I was 17 years old.  We worked together at a movie rental place inside of a grocery store for about a year before he asked me out on our first date.

My parents had recently separated and I was a little bit jaded about the whole idea of  marriage, and what a happy family should looked like.  I met my husband’s parents early on in our relationship and I remember wondering why they were so happy all the time!

I spent lots of time at my husband’s family’s house that first year we dated.  So much time, that it was pretty much assumed that I was going to be there for dinner every night.  My  (future) in-laws frequently brought home a Wendy’s frosty for me- knowing how much I loved ice cream.

One afternoon I was riding with my (future) mother-in-law to get ice cream.  I clearly remember the light turning green and hearing her say Thank you, Lord.

In my mind I remember thinking that was a little bit over-the-top.  Really?!  Who thanks the Lord for the light changing to green?  But in reality, I wasn’t thankful for much of anything  during that time in my life.  I felt sorry for myself for lots of reasons and I was completely oblivious to all of the many blessings I had to be thankful for.

But praise the Lord- years later, somewhere in my misery, God’s grace found me.  He opened my eyes and He came into my heart.  I am so thankful for how my husband’s parents have selflessly loved me with a Christ-like love all these years.  And over the years, I realized the source for their happiness- it’s simply the JOY of the Lord!

I once was lost, but now I’m found

was blind but now I see 

Whenever I feel myself begin to slip into that bottomless pit of self-pity, I think of my mother-in-law and how she praised the Lord for something as simple as the green light that day.

When we begin to thanking Him for the little things- we realize just how much we have to be thankful for! 

And just as my wise father-in-law says- “give God all the glory- even when you think He doesn’t deserve it…  because He does!” 

Be thankful in all circumstances-  1 Thessalonians 5:18

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crayons and markers

 

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like crayons and markers 

I watched as she drew 

outlined and shadowed 

but before she was through- 

she’d say look this way- 

and with special care 

she’d dab a little here 

and she’d dab a little there- 

transforming me into 

a queen for a day 

how I loved it when

Grandmother 

came to play! 

Today I was thinking about my Grandmother and remembering all the times she used to travel to visit us.  We didn’t see her often- maybe a couple of times a year, but she was a true southern belle and I loved her dearly!  She passed away just a few years after I got married.  As I was putting on my moisturizer this morning, I remembered something special she used to do with us…

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Grandmother kept her make-up in something like this

 

 

 

 

One of the things I loved most when Grandmother came to visit is when she would put her make-up on in the morning.  She would sit on the couch and lay out all of her makeup on the coffee table. And if my sister and I were sitting with her, she would include us in her beauty ritual.  We would carefully watch her apply her blue eye-shadow, and then it was our turn!

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I kept my make-up in one of these! 

She’d lean over and swipe the blue shadows on our lids.  And then she’d dab a little bit of mascara on our lashes, and then we’d pick a shade of lipstick.  A little puff of nude powder dusted on our faces, and we were all dolled up!  I remember thinking- oh just wait till my friends see me like this! 

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Her favorite powder…White Shoulders 

And then I’d go outside to see our friends who lived next door, and I’d wait for them to notice something different about me.  Inside, I felt like a beauty queen, but the funny thing was that to them- I didn’t look any different!

It is amazing how a little extra attention from someone you love can transform your own thoughts about yourself.

 I am so thankful for those memories-

and for how special and loved my Grandmother always made me feel!

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment such as braided hair or gold jewelry or fine clothes, but from the inner disposition of your heart, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in God’s sight. 

1 Peter 3:4

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a home-cooked meal

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Cooking is something I have never really enjoyed, but eating– that’s a whole different ball game! I love food! And I have gotten much better at meal planning and cooking lately.  But these summer days seem to be even busier for me than the school year.

After running around all day, my youngest daughter asked me what we were going to have for dinner-

“Come here”, I told her.  “I have something really important to tell you…”

Actually, I was in the middle of practicing one of the saddest songs I have ever heard, trying to learn it to sing at an upcoming funeral- and I was choking back tears as she called to me from the other room.

I wanted to have this super sappy conversation with her.  I wanted to hug her tight and tell her how much I loved her and that I didn’t ever want her to get big and leave home- but I didn’t.

“I have been meaning to tell you this,” I said in my most serious voice.   “Dinner is cancelled.  We won’t be having dinner tonight.” I said with a deadpan expression on my face.

“Mom!” she smiled at me and rolled her eyes.

“I think I’m going to make quesadillas… or maybe spaghetti?”  Dinner of champions! Those are my easy go-to meals when I don’t wanna think about meal prep.

“But Mom- you NEVER make us a home-cooked meal anymore! Never!  All I want is to order pizza!  Please?  Pretty please?!”

I burst out laughing.

Because ordering pizza is definitely not a home-cooked meal!

But that night pizza seemed perfect.

And in that moment I realized how incredibly blessed I am.

I have two awesome daughters- who definitely do NOT expect perfectly home-cooked meals from me,

a hubby who loves me just as I am- and was equally in favor of pizza,

and a God who loves me infinitely more than I could ever comprehend.

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dream a little dream

 

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I woke up the other morning with JOY just flowing through my veins!  I mean, I was so excited, I couldn’t contain it!  I had the most amazing dream- it was one of those dreams that was so real, it was being in a movie!  I literally sat up in my bed and cheered- “Woohooo!!!”

The hubs was already awake, so I went into the living room to share the excitement with him, lol.

“Oh.My.GOODNESS!  I had the BEST dream EVER”, I tell my husband.

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Now, mind you, he’s not a morning person… so he smiled and said not now.  Go write it down and tell me all about it later.  He handed me a few pieces of paper from the printer and a pen and I sat down and tried to write fast enough to capture all the juicy details.

About 10 minutes later, he turned around to me and said are you STILL writing?!

Yep!  Almost done!

I won’t bore you with all the nitty-gritty details of my dream, but the main focus was that I had found something special that belonged to a stranger.  I tracked down the stranger and was about to give them this item, and then I lost it while I was in the mall.  I prayed and prayed that I would find it, and I had all sorts of shoppers and salespeople looking for it.

I remember the feeling of expectation I had in the dream- I just KNEW I was going to find this thing!  And sure enough, I did!  I was so overjoyed that I jumped up and down and raised both arms in the air and shouted “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord!”

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And that’s how I woke up that morning!  I was on cloud nine!  I wanted to jump up and down and tell the whole world how much I loved the Lord.

But the coolest thing happened to me that day-  I had that feeling of joy inside me ALL DAY LONG! I started thinking about how awesome it would be to wake up praising the Lord like that EVERY DAY- simply because we have another day to enjoy life!

Life’s all about perspective.

How different our lives would be if we saw every moment as an opportunity to praise the Lord!

I will praise the Lord at all times.
    I will constantly speak his praises.  Psalm 34

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lean on me

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The heavens unleashed a downpour around us as the girls and I sat waiting in the drive-thru line.  We were at Chick-fil-a, where everything is their pleasure!  I just love that place!  Not only are they uber pleasant, but their food is always awesome.

Anyway, back to my story…

We were sitting there and a tan sedan was trying to pull in between myself and the car in front of me to park in the handicap spot on the other side of my van.  I watched the car slowly pull into the space and park.  The gentleman took his time getting out of the car.

In the pouring rain, he opened the car door and tried to steady his wobbly feet.  My best guess was that he must have been in his late ’70’s or early ’80’s.  He slowly shuffled down the side of his car to the trunk.  The girls and I were quite curious as to what he was doing.  He was taking his time and the rain was really coming down hard at this point!  As we continued to pull forward in line, we turned to see what he was up to.

We watched him carefully take out a walker as he slowly shut the trunk of his car.  He pushed it to the other side and that’s when we saw him open the passenger side. There sat a beautiful lady, all dolled-up for a day out with her husband.  He took her hand and she turned and placed her own wobbly feet on the ground.  He helped her stand and handed her the walker.

I had tears as I watched this man stand in the pouring rain, holding the door for this lady and helping her to her feet.

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That’s what love is all about! I said to my girls through my tears.  Always putting your spouse first, because that’s what honors the Lord.  

We watched her maneuver the walker so that she could slide up the handicap ramp, and I watched as he rested his arm around her.

I thought to myself- doesn’t he need his own walker? And then I started to cry as I realized

he was leaning on her.

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Well a man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home
They shall travel on to where the two shall be as one
As it was in the beginning, is now until the end
Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again
And there’s love
“There is love”- Noel Paul Stookey

 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

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seasons in between

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I walked to the beat 

of falling leaves 

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beneath my feet 

leaves thick as thieves

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I watched the foliage 

drift and sway 

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on this breezy, balmy

autumn day 

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I wanted to hit the pause button again this morning. This is my favorite time of year… that time when we are still full with Thanksgiving JOY and yet we anticipate all the excitement the Christmas Season brings!!   And secretly, I wish I could hoard pumpkin spice EVERYTHING so that I could savor it a bit longer…

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Speaking of this in-between season, I’ve got a ‘tween at home…  She marches to her own beat, and I honestly don’t know what’s going to come out of her mouth from moment to moment.  A strong willed child, she’s also a delightful mix of sarcasm, humor and wit.  Her name is “Sophia” which actually means wisdom.

I was out running errands with both girls the other day, and my oldest commented that I’m getting old.  My jaw dropped as I turned to her with a look of disbelief that she would say such a horrid thing!

Well, I guess there’s a little bit of truth to that- I will hit the big 4-0 in June….ugghh….

Without skipping a beat, my youngest chimes in with her words of wisdom- “Mom, I like that you’re getting older- it means your more experienced!”

My heart warmed just a little bit as I turned to look at her lovingly.  “Soph, that’s so sweet!”

“Well, I just said it to make you feel better.  You ARE old!”

Sigh.   

But then, just a few days later, she surprised me again…

I went to my favorite grocery store the other day- Trader Joe’s.  If you’ve never been- you are missing out.  I love everything about this place!  The employees treat me like a long, lost friend- always eager to chit-chat and offer suggestions of new things to try.  I was desperate, I mean DESPERATE for more Pumpkin Spice k-cups, but, alas, they were all out.

At check out, the cashier asked me if I found everything I was looking for.  I told him how I wanted more Pumpkin Spice coffee.  We both commiserated over the ending of the “pumpkin season”,  and he shed an imaginary tear with me.

Then my  daughter piped up-

“But Mom, it wouldn’t be as special if you had it all the time!” 

So true.

Which reminds me to treasure those special days with these girls… because just like pumpkin spice- they are only young for a “season”!

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.” – L.M. Montgomery 

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Now I See

 

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Clouds swirled in, I heard them call-

“come see us up the mountaintop!” 

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breezes swished in the apple-crisp air 

leaves swirled ’round without a care 

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the wind- it whirled and howled about

orchestrating a most glorious shout!  

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I felt the marvelous presence of Grace 

and His glory surrounded this heavenly place 

I awoke one recent morning to the most beautiful sight- streams of sunlight  were peeking through my mini-blinds in my bedroom, shedding light on blankets and girls and dogs strewn about our bedroom floor.  We had an adventurous evening the day before, and our girls decided to sleep on our bedroom floor, along with the dogs that night.

I was the first one awake the next morning, and I saw that moment as a gift from the Lord.  The girls looked like burritos- rolled up in blankets, and the dogs were curled up beside them.  My husband slept soundly beside me, and I was completely overwhelmed with God’s love.  In that moment, I realized everything that mattered to me was in that one room- and it was more than enough.  I had to fight back tears as I thought of the girls getting older, and how things will someday change.  I can’t bear to think of the day when they leave home…so I savored this rare moment when ALL of us were together, slumbering in the same room.

That overwhelming feeling of love was with me the entire day.  The girls and I went to the movies, and as we came out of the theater, we noticed the temperature had dropped significantly and the clouds were swirling in the sky.  On the way home, we went up to Carter’s Mountain to get some apples and cider donuts.  The view was just spectacular.

I have so much to be thankful for.

“…There is one thing I do know: I was blind, but now I see!”- John 9:25

 

 

 

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