I Sing Because I'm Free!

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these are the days

these are the days

of loud music blaring in cars

girls belting tunes

as if they were the stars

these are the days

of selfies and laughs

dabbling in makeup

and perfecting the craft

these are the days

when emotions run low… and high

these are the days

that too quickly will pass by


I can hardly believe that my oldest daughter just turned 16. How did that even happen?! I remember finding out I was pregnant with her and the overwhelming joy I experienced when I held her in my arms as a newborn. It seems like yesterday, and yet it was a lifetime ago.

Katie

I remember celebrating all their “firsts”… the first smile, laugh, their first bite of baby food, sitting up, crawling, walking… the list goes on and on. It seemed like those days of them being children would last forever!

My youngest just got braces last week and lost her last baby tooth (finally!!) the week before. And after only a week, I look at her and see the remnants of her sweet baby face fading away…

Sigh.

Sixteen is way way to close to eighteen…and way too close to technically being an adult. And I am so not ready for that.

Not at all.

But life keeps on marching whether I’m ready or not!

Sophie

So for today, I will savor every car ride with the girls and I’ll let them turn up the music. I’ll laugh along at their crazy stories and selfies. I’ll let them put makeup on me and style my hair, and I’ll let them invite their friends over often. And those moments when motherhood overwhelms and stresses me out- I will remind myself to soak up all the joy I can.

Because one day they will be out of the house and all will be quiet.

And that day is coming way, way too soon!

Train up a child in the way he should go,
[aAnd when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Me and my Soph
Me and my birthday girl- Katie
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glory gazin’

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we’re glory gazin’

chowing down on Chick-fil-a

the sky- our dessert! 

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Having two teenage daughters is… interesting.  I never quite know what to expect.  One minute they are screaming at each other, the next minute they are hysterically laughing together.  It is an adventure, for sure!

The other day, I picked the girls up early from school due to an orthodontist appointment.  Hubby was out of town for work, so I decided to stay in town and take the girls to Chick-fil-a for dinner after our appointment.  As we pulled through the drive thru, I noticed the sky was beginning to change colors.

 When you feed your teenagers Chick-Fil-a, they will smile and agree to anything!  They were in the best mood. Let’s watch the sunset, I suggest.  Since they were happily eating CFA , they naturally obliged.   As we drove around, my youngest daughter stuck her hand out of the window-

Look, Mom- even the sun is shining down on my Chick-Fil-A milkshake! 

lol. I had to chuckle at that one!

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His radiance is like the sunlight;
He has rays flashing from His hand- Habakkuk 3:4

We parked in the shopping center across the street and took in the beautiful evening.  The girls were hysterically laughing at each other, taking “selfies” because it was “glow time” (sunset lighting) and I thought my heart would burst.  Any strife that may have occurred earlier in the day paled in comparison to the joy we experienced in the car.  It was the perfect evening.

On the ride home, I literally cried from laughing so hard at the girls. They can be so funny sometimes.

It has been way too long since I have laughed like that.

I never realized how quickly their childhood would fly by.

I am savoring every moment-

and realizing how short life is!

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.  

Psalm 27:13

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Windows

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Separate 

inside from out 

behind curtains 

we peek out 

 illumination 

cannot hide

the life that carries on 

inside 

I have been thinking a lot about windows.

I have always loved glancing into windows of the homes we pass by when we drive through neighborhoods.

Shakespeare said it best- “Eyes are the windows to your soul”.

We had a family picture taken recently at church.  It’s nothing short of a minor miracle that both girls and hubby agreed to sit for a photo. As a mom of two teenage daughters, we have reached the stage where no pictures are taken without lots of preparation.  Of course, I tell my girls how beautiful they are all the time… how they don’t need makeup.  I tell them they could wear brown sacks and still be beautiful!

But I can sometimes be such a hypocrite.

Because the first thing I said when I saw the picture was how un-photogenic I am.  I always have some strange expression on my face, I’m not looking in the right direction, I have a weird, “fake” smile, or my eyes are half-way closed.  Any combination of those things is what I usually see when I look at a picture of myself.

And this photo brought out the same reaction in me.  I actually laughed out loud at what my husband said to me when I showed the picture to him.

I said, “Look babe- it’s such a great pic of you and the girls!  Not so great of me- I am always un-photogenic.”

Without skipping a beat, he says “what kind of super-model expectation do you have of yourself? It is a perfectly fine picture of you!” 

Good question.

Why can’t my eyes see the things that other people see in me?

I think social media is a huge culprit.  Instagram and snapchat have these lovely filters that make you look like a million bucks. And then when you see pictures of other people online, many times we are looking at these same filtered photos- masking what people really look like.

That, along with all of the anti-aging ads for women doesn’t help our self-worth.  There are literally hundreds of wrinkle creams- for your eyes, face, neck, lips… you name a body part,  and I’m sure you can find the perfect cream to improve it.  And hair- I have finally settled for the hair color with the least maintenance- highlights a few times a year.  Low maintenance appearance is my goal!

What makes a house a home?  It’s the love of the family that lives inside.

What makes a person beautiful? It’s not how few gray hairs you have, not how smooth your skin is, not being the perfect size.  It’s not even about having the perfect smile, or outfit.

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

It’s what’s in your heart.

I want to see the world through His eyes.  I want to see YOU through His eyes.

And in order to do that, we have to begin with seeing ourself the way He sees us.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14

Let the light of Christ shine through your windows!

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May our “windows” reflect the Son!

The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light-  Matthew 6:22

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Happy Thanksgiving!!! 

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When the sun rises, so do I

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colors blaze

across the sky-

when the sun rises,

so do i

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a fresh new day 

another try

when the sun rises 

so do i

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ocean crashes

seagulls fly 

when the sun rises

so do i

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I climb the stairs

with a pensive sigh

when the sun rises

so do i

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This past weekend we had our annual women’s retreat with our church.  We went to one of my favorite places- the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

At home,  I am usually the first one to wake up, and the first thing I do is make a cup of coffee.  I like my quiet time in the mornings.

But one of the things I enjoyed most about this weekend was waking up early and finding fellowship with the other ladies who were also early risers.  I loved drinking coffee together, watching the sunrise, and sharing stories with one another…and then sometimes we sat in silence.

I told the ladies that I LOVE it when our clocks “fall back”- because I LOVE getting ready for bed early!  As soon as the sun comes up, I naturally wake up- no matter what time I go to bed, so the earlier to bed, the better!

When the sun rises- so do I! 

…weeping may stay for the night,
    but rejoicing comes in the morning- 

Psalm 30 

 

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enjoy every second

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shuffling feet- 

a serenade so sweet 

as they rustle 

the fallen leaves 

while golden glittered 

sunlight flitters 

and dances between

the trees 

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I love,

love,

love

the sound of crunching leaves when I take a walk during autumn. Taking in fall’s fantastic foliage is one of my greatest joys- but unfortunately it seems that the leaves have changed and fallen overnight.  Literally.

Maybe it’s because of all the rain we have had lately.  

Maybe it’s because we didn’t have enough cooler temps before fall came. 

Maybe I’m just making up excuses because, well-

 I honestly have no idea, lol. 

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But what I DO know is that all the lovely attributes of fall are fading pretty quickly.

So you-

yes!

YOU

better get outside

and enjoy every second!

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For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.  

Job 14:7

 

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Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.  

1 Chronicles 16:33

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hurry up and wait

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hurry up and 

wait- 

what’s the rush? 

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lay down a while 

and feel the lush 

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fresh dewy grass 

beneath my feet 

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a  morning’s walk 

nearly complete

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perched under a kelly-green

foliage canopy

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that’s where you’ll 

be finding me! 

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I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.  Psalm 27:13 

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Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.  Psalm 27:14

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born to fly

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You can’t

keep a butterfly 

down

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born to fly- 

won’t stay 

on the ground 

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flitting and floating 

you’d think it was gloating

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that her post-cocoon

freedom 

was found! 

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“Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest”-  Psalm 55:6

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My girls went back to school this past week.  It spiraled me into a mini- midlife crisis, realizing that BOTH of my daughters are now in high school!   I started thinking about how few years they have left before they will one day “fly”.

That morning, I went to sit up at the cross on the hill behind our church.  It was a beautiful day, despite the extreme heat and humidity.  As soon as I got to the top of the hill, I noticed there were an unusual amount of butterflies flying around me.  One in particular was HUGE!  Bigger than my hand!  It was bright blue and reminded me of a peacock.  Every time it landed, I tried to get a picture of it- and as soon as I took a step forward, off it went again.  It stayed right near me the whole time I was at the cross, never staying in one place long enough for me to get a picture.

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The funny thing is that my girls have become like that, too!  I asked to take a picture of them on the morning before they went off for their first day of school-   “Mommmm…. PLEASE don’t “post” a picture of us anywhere!”

Gone are the days of making them pose for sweet smiley school pictures and waiting with them for the bus at our bus stop… gone are the days of controlling their every move!

They are preparing for take off, shedding layers of their childhood cocoons one day at a time.  And as the days fly by- they are needing me less and less.

It is a juxtaposition of feelings-

both bittersweet and overflowing joy.

“You may outgrow my lap, but never my heart”

– author unknown 

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but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.  

Isaiah 40:31

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before the sun sets

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Before the sun sets 

waiting for the afterglow 

watching for nightfall 

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mountains like oceans 

undulating clouds like waves 

a twilight delight 

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playing hide and seek 

sunlight slips behind slivers 

of silver lined clouds 

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50 shades of blue 

the Blue Ridge Mountains aglow 

sun sings her swan song 

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not a single sound 

not a plane nor bird was heard 

just tranquillity 

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little did we know 

peacefulness would disappear 

panic would set in…

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We took these photos on our last evening of our mini-vacation.  My hubby surprised me and took me away for a belated anniversary/ birthday trip to Wintergreen and we had the most amazing weekend!  But our last evening almost didn’t go as planned.

One of the local people told us about this little overlook where there was a perfect view of the sunset.  The last evening, we were prepared to sit and watch until the last glimmer of light was gone.

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The sun had set and after we lingered a while, we decided to head back to our car. The lookout was back away from the road, and the trail was rugged- thick with trees and undergrowth. As we walked off of the trail and onto the street, I held up my keyring in utter disbelief. My car key was gone!  I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I called ahead to my husband and told him that my key was missing.

I knew I had it when we parked, because I remembered locking the door and then hooking the carabiner onto my camera bag.  We just traded in my mini van for a new car, and I had put the new key on a simple ring and looped it through the carabiner.  Somehow the key had come loose and fallen off.

We were several miles away from where we were staying, it was getting dark fast, and I was beginning to panic.  We decided to walk back out to the overlook and I prayed the whole way.  I glanced from side to side as we walked the trail, and once we got onto the deck of the overlook, I frantically looked for the key.  The slats between the boards of the deck were large enough that the key could have easily fallen through and down onto the jagged rocks below us.  If that had happened, there was no way we’d ever see that key again.  We searched, but didn’t see the key anywhere.

Amazingly, my husband remained calm, cool, and collected… but I felt like I was going to hurl.  Of all the times I have lost my car keys, this was definitely the worst time for this to happen. I kept praying and took out my cell phone to shine some light on our path.  Soon we wouldn’t be able to see a thing! We stepped off of the wooden deck, and I frantically looked at the ground, shining the light from my phone from side to side as I shuffled my feet.

“Oh, God… please, PLEASE help us find this key!!” I repeated this same phrase over and over.

And then a miracle happened.  About halfway down the trail, the light from my phone reflected off of something shiny under a patch of grass. I bent down and couldn’t believe my eyes- I found my key!

I jumped up and down and thanked God!  Man was that a close call! And it was a an important lesson for me to NEVER hook my keys on the outside of my purse, camera bag, or ANYTHING else EVER again!

I will give You thanks, O LORD, with all my heart. I will tell about all the miracles you have done.  

Psalm 9:1

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stayin’ alive

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I basked in their peak today

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rose petals unfurled

all the way

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oh how I wish

I could make them stay

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alive

for even just

one

more

day

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My hubby brought home these lovely peaches roses for me last week to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.  They were the same color as the roses I held on our wedding day.  They were so lovely, and I wanted to take a few pics of them before they wilted…

ah, ha, ha, ha stayin’ alive!

I bet you’re singing that song now 😉

Which reminded me of something my youngest daughter showed me recently…

She came running in the room, snickering, to show me what she had pinned on Pinterest-

“Mom- this is TOTALLY you!”

Now, I could have been TOTALLY offended, but instead I laughed.  Both of my girls crack me up.  They are becoming more teenager-ish by the hour.

I actually did LOL at that one…because I do LOVE taking pictures!  Of practically everything!  

So, maybe I’m not a “professional” photographer- but while I may not make a single cent,  I am paid in full in the joy it brings me to capture beautiful things and moments on camera!  Just the other day I was looking at pictures on my phone and happened to scroll through over a year’s worth of pictures, and I was so grateful for every single moment I was reminded of.  Even my youngest daughter’s numerous crazy selfies brought a smile to my face!

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And you know what is so special about looking back at all the pictures we take?  It’s not about how we looked in them, or where they were… it’s about who we were with and how we felt during those moments.

And these flowers, well they are going in the trash soon…but when I see these rose pics I will remember the love I felt for my hubby as he ran up the stairs to surprise me that morning last week.  Priceless! 

So whatever hobbies bring you joy- even if you aren’t the greatest at it- keep on doing what you love!

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Colossians 3:17

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You’ve captured my heart

 

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It’s a wonderful delight

in the absence of sunlight 

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to sit and gaze upon 

a yellow bloom 

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A flower big and bright

I smile at the sight

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a little bit of happy

fills the room

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We sang one of my favorite worship songs this past Sunday- Beautiful One.   I love how you can sing a song a hundred times, but God still makes it new in your heart!  I heard this line-

You’ve opened my eyes to Your wonders anew, You’ve captured my heart with this Love...

As we sang this song, I began to think of all the ways He has “captured” my heart over the past week… little things– like a random phone call, or a simple text message from a friend.  A compliment from a stranger, the perfect song on the radio at just the right time…

And yesterday He captured my heart again!

Last week, I had planned on going to pick sunflowers, but I ended up unable to go.  There’s just something special about sunflowers- I can’t stop smiling when I see them!  I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to go, but didn’t think much about it afterwards.

Well, just yesterday someone out of the blue brought me a bouquet of the longest, most beautiful sunflowers!  She knew how badly I wanted to go pick them last week, and wanted to brighten my day.  Such a simple gesture- but He captured my heart once again!

“You’ve opened my eyes to Your wonders anew, 

You’ve captured my heart with this Love, 

’cause nothing on earth is as beautiful 

as You”

…that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.  Psalm 30:12

 

 

 

 

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