A baker’s dozen

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My oldest just turned 13.  I can hardly STAND it! A teenager *gasp*!!

I remember turning 13 like it was yesterday.

I was painfully shy and tall.  I wanted more than anything to hide from everyone and fade into the background.  But as I navigated those awkward years, I learned to stand tall.

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My oldest- hiding from me a she tries out her new bike. 

I see so much of myself in my oldest daughter. As soon as she sees a camera- she runs, turns her head, and does anything she can to hide her lovely face.

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Like her last band concert…I chuckled as I watched her slowly move the music stand with her foot until it blocked me from seeing her face as I sat in the audience.

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I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I eventually found my “voice” and I stopped hiding. Singing in chorus was the one thing that gave me the confidence to be myself.  It was a place where I found community, friendship, and a group of peers that finally accepted me.  It was the first place where I wasn’t afraid to shine.

No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.
  Matthew 5:15

As a mom, it’s my job to stand tall and to help my girls find the things that they are good at!  It’s my job to encourage them and to help them be more self-confident- so they can find their unique “voice” and shine bright in this world.

And on those days when I am feeling less than confident, I know I can run straight into the arms of my Heavenly Father, for in my weakness He is strong!

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My oldest… resting on her Daddy’s shoulders 🙂 

And when my girls need a little pep-talk,  I pray that God will equip me and give me the right words to point them to the Son-the ultimate source of my strength and light!

Keep me as the apple of the eye;

Hide me in the shadow of Your wings – Psalm 17:8

I’m not a pirate, but I do wear a patch

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My girls and I… 7 years ago 

I dreamed the other night that I had another baby. It was one of those dreams that seemed so real. I was sitting in a nursery rocking a baby girl. The colors were muted gray- like I was in a still-frame picture. In the dream, I knew this was my third baby- a surprise.  I felt a flood of emotions- exactly how I felt all those years ago when I held my first baby.  A hormonal mess… and yet everything was perfect.

When I woke up, it hit me that I am no longer that same woman I was then.  I had a hysterectomy 2 years ago. After struggling for years with pain, unexplained bleeding, and extreme PMS- I tried everything I could to alleviate my growing list of symptoms.  What was once a week of misery slowly turned into non-stop discomfort.   After exhausting all other options, the only thing left was a hysterectomy.

We had decided years ago that we were finished having children.  Both of my pregnancies were difficult- both emotionally and physically.  I had unexplained bleeding throughout both pregnancies- leaving me in a state of constant worry and fear.  Pregnancy- the thing I dreamed of for so long- was not at all the joyful experience I had hoped for.  After being blessed with two healthy girls, we knew that our family was complete.

As strong as my desire was to have a baby all those years ago-I prayed for God to take away my desire to ever have a third one.  I knew I didn’t want to go through the stress of being pregnant again, and we felt that our family was complete.

So when my doctor approached me about having a hysterectomy, I prayed about it.  And one morning, I heard Him tell me “it’s time”…it was time for a fresh start.  It had gotten so bad that I had a hard time getting out of bed most days.  Pain, PMS, and an onslaught of other symptoms continued to snowball out of control.

The surgery was a success.  I was in some mild pain for a few weeks, but nothing I couldn’t manage. I also had my ovaries removed due to severe PMS, so I wear an estrogen patch.

The patch definitely has it’s downfalls. I am supposed to change it every 3rd and 4th day, wreaking havoc on my (already) forgetful brain.  If I am a day late changing my patch, I experience the same hormonal shifts that I did pre-surgery.  I have also noticed a difference between generic and name brand patches.  I have had to try a few in order to find one that worked for me.

I am 100%  happy with my decision to have had the surgery- even though I have some minimal challenges with using a patch.  It was definitely the best decision for me.

But for some reason, after having that dream the other night- it hit me that I will never again feel those flutters in my belly… that I will never again nurse a baby… and after mourning the loss of something I had long ago made final in my heart and mind- I finally felt closure on that chapter in my life.

A simple dream awakened within me all the lovely things I had forgotten about my babies, allowing me to finally come to terms with a new stage in my momma journey-

the TEEN years!

My oldest will be 13 in a couple of weeks, and I’m buckling up for this bumpy new ride!

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my soon-to-be teenager!

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and my youngest 🙂 

Children are a gift from the Lord;
    they are a reward from him.  

Psalm 127:3

 

the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light

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And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.  

John 1:5

We wanted to do something as a “family” this past weekend- just the four of us. I admit, I wanted to do the “mom” thing and go see some holiday lights- while the rest of the family wanted to go to the movies.

So imagine how happy I was when they decided to do what I wanted to do!

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You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

  Matthew 5:14

We went to see the Holiday Lights at the Richmond Botanical Gardens and it was truly magical! We had such a wonderful time laughing, posing for pictures, and just being together.  We held hands, skipped down the walkways, and took in the beautiful lights all around us!

It was good to feel like a giddy kid again, and to be making memories with the ones I love the most!

And it made even more special to know that they wanted to go because they knew it would bring me much joy!

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Then Jesus said to them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come on you: for he that walks in darkness knows not where he goes.  John 12:35

As we walked, the darker the night sky got- the more brilliantly the lights did shine!

May the beautiful sights and holiday lights of this season remind you of the greatest gift of all-

the Light of the World- Jesus!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  

Isaiah 9:6

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I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  

John 8:12

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But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light 

1 Peter 2:9

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Why he said, Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.  

Ephesians 5:14

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Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105

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When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.

 Psalm 94:19

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I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  

John 8:12

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 Merry Christmas!

One size fits all

Photo on 8-30-13 at 12.14 PMThere once was a mom from the ‘ville 

She was so cool, she was “chill” 

too fly to keep junk

in her mini-van’s trunk 

She finally took those bags to Goodwill!

I had a little “aha” moment today…  It’s not all that life changing- but it was for me!

I sat in my youngest daughter’s room and folded clothes with her.  Her room is an absolute pigsty.  Her biggest hurdle is that her bigger sister passes down all her clothes to her, so she has lots of things in her room that will eventually fit.. that almost fit… along with the many things that she is able to wear.  Then she is also given a few things by friends which she refuses to get rid of- because in her mind, those clothes are pieces of her friends… they remind her of them.  And so I told her this morning-

“We are getting rid of EVERYTHING that you do not wear TODAY.  EVERYTHING!!”

It was completely a God thing, because she shrugged her shoulders and just simply said “ok”. Let me just simply say- that NEVER happens…

I continued to tell her all this “stuff” in her room was getting in the way of all the things that she actually could wear RIGHT NOW…that look great TODAY.

And one by one, she folded and gave away many pieces that she loved, but that did not fit her.

Seeing how easy this (usually) daunting task was for us today inspired me to practice what I was preaching to my daughter.

I pulled out a dress I wore when I first found out I was pregnant with my first daughter – after I had lost 100 lbs and was in the best shape of my life. I loved that dress… but not as much as I love my daughter.  And why do I want to keep a reminder of the body that I will never have again?  I folded the dress and put it in the bag.

I pulled on a pair of pants that were a little snug.  I loved this pair of pants… the soft cotton felt like velvet on my skin…but once again, they were not flattering. I folded them and put them in a bag.

Do you watch survivor?  You know that final walk where the remaining contestants walk and remember all the other contestants that left before them?  That is sort of what I did today.  I took a walk down memory lane… and it’s not the actual pieces of clothing that I love… it’s the memories I made while I was in them.  And no one can take those away from me.

And I realized- again– that I need stop longing for how I used to look, for the size that I am not…and love me for me.

Today I’m thankful that love comes in “one size fits all”!!

Above all, clothe yourselves with love-  Colossians 3:14

be a trend-setter

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It’s ok to be a trend-setter 

a goldenrod go-getter 

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Show your true colors

let your dead leaves fall 

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It’s ok to be a trail-blazer

a “shoot for the stars”-gazer

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come on, light up the world 

and give Him your all

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As I went on a walk on this loverly fall evening, I noticed the leaves are FINALLY starting to change. One tree at a time is bursting forth in heavenly color- paving the way for the rest of them …which made me think about my daughters.

Each girl has their own unique style. My youngest is “sporty” and loves to wear mix-matched socks- the crazier the better.  My oldest daughter is a “girly-girl” and likes to accessorize every outfit- fancy or casual- with a scarf. I am trying to encourage them to be themselves- to not get so caught up in what their friends are wearing and doing…for them to know that it’s ok to be different.

One day we were walking through the mall and my girls were talking to me about recent fashion trends.

“I just heard someone say that “fringe” is in. I think fringe is disgusting!” one daughter says to the other.

“Umm… especially armpit fringe.  That’s just the worst!” says my youngest, as she pointed at a shirt in the store’s window display as we were leaving- all decked out in fringe.  The fringe started right at the armpit and went all the way down the sides of the shirt.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity of armpit fringe.  It seems these girls already recognize that following a “trend” isn’t always the thing to do.

Be yourself.  And who knows- you just might start your own trend!

He has made every thing beautiful in his time- Ecclesiastes 3:11

late fees…facing the shame of my overdue library books

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This is how I will remember what we’ve checked out from the library… taking a photo of my fabulous finds 🙂

My fears

of what “might be”

are far worse than

reality

Only realized in 

retrospection

so I’m striving to do

better

and not be such a 

“fretter”

as I take the time for  

reflection

I have a little confession to make: I am a procrastinator…and a little forgetful.  So once I have procrastinated- even just a little bit– it’s quite possible that I have completely forgotten to do whatever that thing was in the first place.

Like returning library books.

We went to the library several times last summer, and once the girls were back in school- I simply forgot to return our books.  So, a few weeks past the due date, I dropped our late books off at the library. They were not open at the time, so I put them into the outside book drop.  I felt shame over how late these books were.

The thought crossed my mind that maybe I could get through their childhood without ever returning to the library again.

And then summer came once again…

“Let’s go to the library!” one of my girls suggested.

I admit that I came up with every excuse in the book to NOT go to the library.  Only because I didn’t want to face the shame of once again having extremely late books.  After a ridiculous amount of begging to go, I finally gave in and chose to act like a responsible adult. Surely my late fee wouldn’t be more than like $200?

As I climbed into the car, my other daughter reminded me that we still had one of the books from last summer.  I ran in the house, and sure enough- I found yet another book we had had for MONTHS.

The 5 minute drive to the library felt like 5 years.  I had a lump in my throat and felt like I was going to have a panic attack. We pulled up to the building and I slowly began my walk of shame, with the late book in hand. I approached the counter and began to fess up.

“Please forgive me.  I am ashamed, ” I earnestly confessed to the librarian- in those exact words. The lady behind the counter gave me a puzzled look. Clearly she had no idea how embarrassed I was.  She took my book, scanned it and told me the damage. She wasn’t phased in the slightest.

“That will be $40”

“That’s it?”

I couldn’t believe it!  And I was even more embarrassed that I had waited so long to face the music.

My fears of what might happen are always far worse than reality. How silly I felt for holding onto that guilt for all those months.

You know what is even better though?  That we can come to Jesus- no matter what our sins are, no matter what we have done or how much time has passed…and there is never any “late fee” to be paid.

How many of us don’t feel worthy of His forgiveness?  The sad thing is that we punish ourselves when we choose to feel guilty and ashamed of things we have done.  We all fall short- but His grace is sufficient, and He is there to catch us. In Christ, we are freely forgiven!  When we go to Him to ask for forgiveness and to make things right- He tells us our “late fees” have already been paid in full!

The lesson I learned that day was  priceless- far more valuable than that $40 late fee!

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  -Romans 6:23

 

Nothing is wasted

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A shoe box transformed into a perfect refrigerator

I went to the playroom one day

I looked at the junk in dismay

what’s up with this trash

that my children have stashed?

Calgon, please take me away! 

I went into my girls’ playroom the other day and I was completely disgusted.  There was not a single square foot that wasn’t covered in junk.  Barbies, clothes, furniture, scraps of material, papers, newspapers, cardboard… the list of junk went on and on.  I took the trash can and began to fill it. My youngest daughter immediately heard what I was doing and threw herself onto the heaps of trash.

She cried and pleaded with me not to throw the stuff away.

When I looked around, I saw nothing but bits of trash and junk, but my daughter saw endless possibilities.  She saw unmade furniture, scraps of fabric that she was going to make into dresses… and boxes- lots of boxes- to be transformed into the most magnificent Barbie appliances and bunk beds!

I glanced over at my girls’ hand-made doll house (out of boxes) and really looked at the contents inside. I have to be honest- I was pretty impressed with their creativity.  It’s not that they don’t have store-bought things to play with…they just prefer to create things.

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perfectly crafted Barbie bunk-beds

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A bathroom… complete with a satin shower curtain, commode, and decorative sink

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dining room table with table cloth…and a few pets

I sat there and really took in their creations.  Isn’t that what God does with us?  He takes us and our limited resources and He turns them into something extraordinary!  When I see a shoe box, I wonder how fast I can put it into the trash- my girls see a shoe box and they think of how they can transform it.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55:8-9

We can’t even fathom the good things God can create with the “junk” in our own lives…when we commit every part of ourselves and every circumstance into His hands- He has a way of creating something beautiful out of us.

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my daughters’ perfectly crafted, home-made Barbie house

 With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort. 1 Corinthians 15:58

My not-so-Martha Stewart “silk tie-dyed” eggs…

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Our bird’s nest from last year!

I am definitely not the most creative mom on the planet.

But, I do try to do fun things with the girls.

Around Easter time, we do little things like bake bunny cakes and we have mini Easter egg hunts.  It’s those fun little traditions that will make great memories for them when they are adults.

This year, I took a stab at dying eggs with silk ties.  Yes, it sounds a little strange, but it was also another great opportunity to go thrift-store shopping to find some super awesome ties to use for our little project!

So we tugged and pulled the ties apart…

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while my youngest patiently (not) waited for the scissors to cut her ties…

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and then we wrapped them with tender loving care…

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Oh no…I forgot the twist ties to secure the material around the egg! So I used mini rubber bands instead…

Epic fail

I ended up fishing for broken rubber bands in the boiling water…

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And burned my fingers replacing the broken mini rubber bands with clamps and fabric coated rubber bands. We let them boil for 20 minutes and then allowed them to cool for a bit.

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I must say that the colors were slightly disappointing, but it could have been because I didn’t secure the fabric as well as I should have, and it would have been better if the silk ties we purchased had been darker, more vibrantly colored…

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But my oldest daughter said it all with this comment-

“Momma- they didn’t really come out that good.  But I think we had a lot of fun anyway!”

That’s my girl!

There is much JOY to be found in the JOurneY!!

 Just because someone else can do it better doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try it yourself!

What a relief to know my girls didn’t want “picture perfect” eggs… they just wanted to spend quality time with their momma!

Pi Day

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How could I ever deny 

a day that’s devoted to pi?

I partake without care

blissfully unaware

that it finds a new home on my thigh! 

My oldest daughter celebrated “pi” day at school yesterday. She asked me to come for a special activity her class was doing to celebrate- including eating pie, of course!  Anytime my 12 year old asks me to be a part of her day- I am there with bells on!  Due to the busy-ness of our week, I had not purchased any pies ahead of time. I decided to go to the store first thing in the morning, and much to my surprise- there were no pre-baked pies.  I guess people really do plan ahead, lol!  The entire bakery shelf was bare. I am thankful I minded His “nudge” to get out early to buy the frozen ones that I had to bake.  

On a side note- my daughter added before she left to get on the bus- 

“Momma- don’t forget to wear your “skinny jeans!”  

False advertising at it’s finest!

I smiled…just maybe one day those jeans will do what they say! 

No more regrets

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it’s the quality

not the quantity of time

that yields no regrets

I can’t get the word “temporary” off my mind today.  It is hard to wrap my mind around the fact that every detail of this day (and every day) is temporary- the snow…the beautiful way it shines like diamonds in the sun…the girl’s excitement over getting to stay home another day-  tomorrow it will all be gone. Our circumstances, those “hiccups” in our daily plans?  All temporary.

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Even my “little girls” are temporary- and who am I kidding? They aren’t so little anymore. My oldest is so big, she’s wearing my coat!  How in the world did she grow up so fast?!  

These snow days have left me feeling a little melancholy.  Sometimes I feel like I missed out on so much when they were little. I was blessed to have taught piano and voice lessons in my home when they were young, but I wish I could go back and do it all over…  

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and clean a little less…play a little more…prioritize my time better

pray more and worry less…and not feel so guilty about everything little thing I did or didn’t do…

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I regret not savoring those special snow days when the girls were little. I used to feel so guilty for having to cancel my music lessons and for not working, that I didn’t allow myself to enjoy those days.

I had a lot of quantity time with the girls- but not much of it was quality time. I rushed them around with me every morning- teaching aerobics, doing errands, make lunch, and pray they napped so I could clean my “office” – which was my entire house.  Every day.

Those “little girl” days were temporary.

Thankfully, those days of rushing here and there are far enough behind me that the girls don’t even remember them- but there are days like today that I do.  I am thankful for His grace, and thankful that He knows how to remind me to slow down and appreciate more of these “moments” now.  Because every one of them are temporary, and we never get them back.

So, now I ask myself this often-

When tomorrow comes, what would I regret not doing today? 

and then I do it.

No more guilt- no more regrets.

Teach us to number our days,

    that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12