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 🙂

“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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Livin’ the dream

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That expression makes me crack up.  

Because when I usually hear it- it is said sarcastically… you know- like when you are cleaning up after your baby’s diaper “blow-out”…. or when your kiddos forget their school projects at home and you’ve gotta change around your morning to come to their rescue.  

But I can honestly say that this weekend I was living the dream! 

Since I was in high school chorus, I have wanted to be a high school choral director. I still get to do lots of wonderful things in the music world, and for that I am thankful!  But this past weekend I chaperoned my daughters’ marching band competition and I had such a great time.  

Haven’t you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall and watch your kids at school?  See how they interact with their friends?  

My oldest daughter asked for me to sit with her on the 2 hour bus ride to the competition.  It felt like I was re-living my old high school chorus competition days.  Kids were laughing, cutting-up, doing each other’s make-up… I even had a little “highlighter” applied to my cheeks 🙂 

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And we eventually got to the first competition. Let me tell you- marching band competitions are NO JOKE!!   So much walking, standing, running to get all the pit equipment in place in time… and then the tear down.  I am amazed that these teens (and some of the parents, too) do this every single week!! 

The marching band played really well- but not enough to move on to the final competition. The finals were held at Liberty University and that was our last destination- to watch all of the top marching band’s final performance.

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It was getting pretty chilly- so everyone was wrapped in blankets and I even saw a few teens from other schools wearing their bath robes!  It that even a thing now!? Anyway, I watched my youngest daughter from afar laughing and enjoying being with her friends, and my oldest asked me to sit with her and her friends again.  

It was the best night.  

I got to see and experience all the things my girls love about high school-

including the 2am arrival back home!  

Unlike my husband and girls- I am NOT a night owl! In fact, most nights I am asleep by 10pm.  

But it was totally worth it 🙂

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You who are young, be happy while you are young,
    and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.  Ecclesiastes 11:9 

I “Press” On

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Over a year ago, I decided to share a blog post I had written on my Facebook page.  It was a story about me and my daughters that happened several years ago- one that was especially dear to me.  Within about 5 minutes, I had a notification from Facebook that my article had been reported because it violated their “community standards”.  My website had been blocked.  Not only was my website blocked, but every single post that I had ever written and shared on my personal page was also removed, and I got a notification for each one.

It didn’t make any sense.

What I had written contained nothing offensive, other than it was a heart-warming story about a mom and daughter.  I did everything I could to appeal it.  I spent hours googling and looking for anyone to talk to about it.  And if you’ve ever tried- you know that it is absolutely impossible to find anyone from Facebook to call, email, message, or talk to about getting your site “unblocked”.

So about 6 months later, I paid to “upgrade” my WordPress site- hoping that I would then be able to share my posts to Facebook again.  Unfortunately,  it didn’t work- my site was (and still is) blocked.

To be honest- that is a big reason I haven’t written on this blog as frequently.

What bothers me even more is how I used to be so apprehensive about sharing things on Facebook… and then once I let go and started not caring- well, it was too late.  

But who am I writing for?

The Audience of One.

I have allowed the Facebook blockage to also lead to writer’s block.  Do you know that I wrote a blog post every single week (sometimes more than one) for almost 6 years straight?  That is an amazing accomplishment for me!

It has been good to take a break.

But it’s good to be back 😉

I “press” on- Philippians 3:14 

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Recently, I was reminded that “youth” is all about perspective…

With teenage daughters, it’s easy for me to feel old and out of touch with the youth culture.  I often have to ask them what slang words and current sayings mean.

But as I walked through the grocery store the other day, I caught the twinkling blue eyes of a gray haired lady, leaning heavily on her shopping cart- squinting to make out my face.

“Are you Amy?” she called out to me.  She looked at me like she was trying to remember who I was.  I didn’t recall ever seeing her before.

“No, I’m sorry.  My name’s Julie.”

She said she thought she knew me from somewhere. Then, she began to tell me how she missed being able to do all the simple things I take for granted- like grocery shopping without getting out of breath,  standing up straight and walking without leaning on a cart, being able to see without straining…

She smiled as she began to move her cart past me and said this-

“You better enjoy your youth while you have it!”

A brief, but meaningful conversation- and a great reminder for me to appreciate all the little things I am able to effortlessly do at my youthful age of 42 🙂

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A gray head is a crown of glory.  

It is found in the way of righteousness- Proverbs 16:21

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the best is yet to come

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Time keeps ticking away, and some days I wanna hit the “pause” button.

In a few short weeks, we will have been in our home for 15 years.  I can’t even wrap my mind around that!  When we first moved here, my oldest was a baby, and we didn’t have my youngest until the next summer.  I had my life all planned out- I’d teach lessons for a few years and then we would move back to our hometown…

and then that didn’t happen.

I always felt like I was waiting for the next move, or the next big thing.  Little did I know- that big thing for me was God calling me into ministry- right here! And what a blessing it has been to follow Him and serve Him- even when “following Him” means staying put.

But I keep thinking about how quickly these 15 years have gone… and how quickly my girls will be grown.  This mom can’t bear the thought of all the changes that will happen in the next few years!

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I have found myself CONSTANTLY saying “I can’t believe how fast these years are going by…”  I recently joked with my husband that this is how I begin all of my conversations with him.

And then the other day- I leashed the dogs up to take them outside, and as I stepped off of each stair of our front porch- I heard the creaking of weathered wood and saw the rusty nails.  Again, I began to think of all the years I carried my babies up those stairs- and how even the front porch has aged!

And in a split second, I felt the Lord nudge me and He whispered-

Stop looking behind you- there’s SO MUCH for you to look forward to.  

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It was a brief moment, but one that has shifted this nostalgic mindset of mine!

He is always doing something NEW…

and if this momma is so busy lamenting and thinking about the past-

I might miss it 🙂

But as it is written:

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,  Nor have entered into the heart of man

The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9 

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He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. — Psalm 40:3

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June Walk

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Softly stepping

sunlight blazing

umbrella trees

perfectly shading

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rustling leaves

deer are feeding

toddlers shuffling

songbirds tweeting

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couples hand-holding

walking slow

enjoying the view

down below

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sounds of nature

creation in tune

a blessed summer

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Let everything that has breath praise the Lord- Psalm 150:6

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Sun- shining bright like a diamond 

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Where’s Waldo?!  Can you spot the deer? 

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A little songbird feasts on some twigs 

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This gorgeous butterfly led me down the trail 

21 x 2

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Navigating “mom life” with two teenage daughters ain’t easy.

Lately I feel the tug of give and take– of holding on and letting go-  at the same time.  Giving the girls room to be who they are while also giving them necessary guard rails for protection.

Like what happened two summers ago…

The girls had just begun to listen to different kinds of music.  For most of their childhood, I only allowed them to listen to Christian music or music that was “clean”.  I always had control of the radio in the car, and it was always on the Christian radio station.

But two summers ago, the girls started asking me to change the radio station to listen to other kinds of music.  At first I resisted. What if they heard something in these lyrics that changed them, or caused them to *gasp” not be a Christian any more?!  I slowly realized the irrational fear I had, and that I needed to let them be kids and enjoy the music they liked.  After all, I did grow up listening to hair metal bands and grunge music… and I think I turned out ok 🙂

So, little by little, I let them occasionally choose to listen to their choice of music in the car.  One of those groups happened to be 21 Pilots.  As I listened to the girls sing every word to the Blurry Face CD, I realized that their music was actually really good.  That summer we drove to Universal Studios in Florida, and we listened to nothing but 21 Pilots, One Direction, and various other favorites of my girls for the 10+ hour car ride there and back.

It was a coming of age time for them, and a time when I realized that my girls were growing up- that they were enjoying new things and searching for their identities.  And it made me realize that we have raised them right and pointed them to Jesus… and that it’s ok to give them a little room to explore.  In fact, I have grown to love some of their favorite songs!

So for my birthday this past Sunday, my awesome hubby got tickets for the girls and I to go to the 21 Pilots concert.  They just happened to be here on my birthday- and the show was absolutely amazing!  The girls and I sang every word of every song and I loved every second of it.  Most of all, I loved being with them- not just because I’m their mom, but because I love the people they are becoming!

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At the concert, I leaned over to both girls and said this- “Isn’t it neat that we’re here at a 21 Pilots concert on my birthday… celebrating with thousands of other people… and isn’t it cool that I am 21×2 today (42)?  And I get to celebrate with my 2 favorite girls!”

Isn’t it something to know that while our kids are growing up-

we’re still growing up, too! 

“There are two things we should give our children; one is roots and the other is wings.”- author unknown 

 

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.

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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!

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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

nothing is ever really lost…

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My hubby and I had an impromptu date yesterday,  and we decided to walk one of the local trails.  Instead of wearing crocs with no socks (that rhymes, lol),   I took the time to put on socks and shoes-  a rare occasion it was!

We got into the car, and marveled over the crystal clear blue sky and the smell of autumn in the air.  You can just feel change coming- and we are anticipating the leaves changing any day now.

Anywho, we got out of the car, I reached for my phone in my purse, you know- the one I am addicted to?  and wouldn’t you know it-   I couldn’t find it! Hubby could not BELIEVE that I actually left home without it.

Neither could I.

Ughh… how am I going to document this beautiful day?

Hubs handed over his phone so I could take a few pictures.

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But only a few, he said.  We need to enjoy the moment.  

And we did.

We exchanged jolly, banter back and forth- memories of years gone by, and we dreamed about our future.

I looked around as we walked, and I saw the evidence of the heavy downpours we experienced over the last few weeks- sandbags, a rushing waterfall, trenches dug for drainage.

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I saw weary mommas walking with toddlers, dog-moms walking their fur babies.

I remembered all the times I walked that trail with my own babies.  One in a backpack and the other in a stroller. Those sleepless days were sweet, but seemed like they were light years ago.

Seasons come and go so quickly!

The hubs and I  had lunch together, and afterwards I scoured the house looking for my cell phone.  I couldn’t find it anywhere!  I wasn’t desperate to use it- just desperate to find it- because once I forget where I’ve put something, the chances are slimmer and slimmer that I will ever see it again.

On a whim, I went back to the car to check for it… and there it was in the backseat.  Plain as day.

So I had my phone with me all along.  I can’t remember a walk I have taken without it.  And you know something-

I didn’t miss is at all! 

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”

-L.M. Montgomery 

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I realized today…

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I realized today that I am completely addicted to my smart phone- and I don’t like it.

Not one little bit.

When my girls were little, I intentionally only used it when I needed to.  Same with the laptop.  I didn’t want them to have to compete with electronics for my attention.

Fast forward 13 years or so…now both daughters have them.  At first, they only used their phone when necessary.  And then little by little, whenever one of us was watching something on tv that the other did not like-  it was super easy for the other person to whip out their cell phone and surf the internet.  When a commercial came on- same deal.  The cell phones would come out.

Must. Be. Entertained.

And I have fallen into the same trap.  I do not care for sports and my hubby is a huge sports lover.  So, I sit with him and hold my phone in one hand, mindlessly thumbing through Amazon, Pinterest, Facebook…and a whole host of shopping sites that I frequently visit.

I checked my phone usage a few weeks ago, and I thought well- that’s not so bad!  And then I realized the usage was per DAY not for the whole week!! No lie.

I use it ALL the time- it is my “watch” because I hate wearing one.  It is my computer in my pocket when I need to email, text, or look up something important.  It is how I keep in touch with my family, with my daughters and husband during the day.  I use it for ministry.

But I also use it to numb my mind and to distract myself.

I can literally feel my attention span shortening every time I pick it up.

I decided to put my phone down and then thought about what else I would do instead of browsing Pinterest.

Naturally, the one first thing I thought of  was to play piano!

Then I had this thought- if I’d had a cell phone as a teen, I wonder if I would have ever learned to play piano at all?

Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions.  Proverbs 4:25

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I am making a vow today to cut back on my phone usage.  I’m going to turn it completely off in the evenings.

If the family is watching tv, I will sit with them and read a book.  I will make conversations with them during commercials.

I might even sit in silence and twiddle my thumbs for a minute.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll do some writing.

There are far too many productive things I could be doing to be wasting so much time holding a phone!

Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness…. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.- Ephesians 5:16-17