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

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.

3231_73742913321_7347418_n

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…

2128_47275523321_1415_n

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.

IMG_0380

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

IMG_4677

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 

lean on me

img_2038

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.

FullSizeRender

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.

dsc_0281

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‚ÄĒfaith, hope, and love‚ÄĒand the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

If you love something, set it free…

IMG_1690

Sometimes as a mom, we have to let go of our own dreams for our kids so they can pursue their own passions. ¬†¬†I’m not ashamed to admit that I sometimes live vicariously through my girls. We want for them to experience the same joys we had as children, while at the same time- we want to make things better than we had it, too.

One of those things for me was being involved in chorus.  Although my girls love to sing, they have NO DESIRE to sing in chorus.  It broke my heart a little bit, but both of them have been playing in the band at school.

My youngest came home the other day and begged to take a different elective next year.

But you are so good at the clarinet! ¬†You will regret it if you don’t continue!¬†I told her. ¬†I secretly wanted to cry when she told me she didn’t want to do band anymore. ¬†She loves art and wanted to explore other things in school.

Honestly, I wanted to put my foot down and not give her the option of quitting. ¬†I think as parents we have to encourage our kids to do the things that they excel at- because if we don’t, who else will?¬†But my husband and I talked and he asked me if I wanted her to do band because it was something I wanted for her. ¬†He felt like we should give her the option to choose what she wanted to do. ¬†I thought my heart was going to break, but I told her that evening that it was her decision. I had to trust the Lord and let go of my own desire for her. ¬†She chose to not take band and I begrudgingly signed the form for her.

This past week was my daughters’ band concert. I was so sad that my daughter opted not to do band next year, I didn’t even want to go that night. ¬†I watched my youngest walk onto the stage and she found us instantly in the audience. ¬†She smiled the whole time she was up there. I was so proud. ¬†I watched all of them tapping their feet to the beat, bobbing their heads up and down to the tempo. They finished, and my youngest was brimming with pride. ¬†I held back tears, knowing it was the last time she would be sitting up there.

photo 1

It was a bittersweet evening. ¬†I can’t explain why, but every time I go to a band or a chorus concert, I get really emotional. If it weren’t for my involvement in music in school, I don’t know where I’d be today.

And then later that evening, my youngest daughter sat near me and began to cry.

Momma, I DO want to do band! ¬†And I want to play all through high school. ¬†Please, can I change my schedule? ¬† I don’t ever want to stop…

I hadn’t imagined it. She really does love to play.

If I had put my foot down and made her take band next year, she may have not had that epiphany. I was so thankful that she realized how much playing in band meant to her that night.

It was truly the greatest Mother’s Day gift I could have received this year.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;  Proverbs 3:5

photo

Standing Tall

IMG_1993

Standing tall- a radiant sunflower on a recent day trip

 Listen, stay alert, stand tall in the faith, be courageous, and be strong- 1 Corinthians 16:13

It’s the little things that make me smile. ¬†Sunflowers are one of those things. ¬†I can’t get enough of them. ¬†A daydreamer at heart- I could stare at them all day if I’d let myself! ¬†I remember seeing them when I was young, and wondering how on earth they could have such a huge, beautiful bloom and still stand so tall on such a thin stalk.

IMG_1991

God’s business is putting things right; he loves getting the lines straight, Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall, we can look him straight in the eye.  Psalm 11:7 (MSG)

I remember when I was in elementary school feeling self-conscious of how tall I was. Feeling like a giant, I often walked around with hunched shoulders, hoping it would allow me to fit in and not be noticed by others for my tallness. Standing tall meant that I would be standing out above the crowd- literally. It was during my adolescence that I took notice of sunflowers and how beautiful they are.  If they somehow had the strength to stand tall, certainly I could find it the strength to embrace my tallness and do the same.  I began to realize all the beautiful things I missed out on seeing by hunching and looking down all the time.

And one of the things I detested about myself as a child, I have grown to appreciate. I love being able to grab something off the top shelf for a friend, or a fellow shopper in the grocery store.  By His grace, I now stand tall for my faith in Christ. And I stand tall for my fast-growing daughters- who look up to me (literally and figuratively) and follow my example.

God’s business is putting things right; he loves getting the lines straight, Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall, we can look him straight in the eye.  Psalm 11:7 (MSG)

The evolution of “Mom”

Image

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

I have had the pleasure of spending lots of time with my girls over the last couple of weeks.  Ok- honestly, some of these times were not pleasurable at all, and were in fact quite the opposite! They seem to be growing and maturing at a faster rate than I can keep up with!   My oldest is quickly moving past the days of wanting to play dolls with her younger sister-which leads to a lot of conflict in the house!

Not only do I see the relationship between my girls changing, I am recognizing the way we parent them must change as well. Change is hard.  And painful.

I took my oldest daughter with me recently to run an errand. ¬†When I saw her walking in front of me, I hardly recognized my baby. ¬†She is becoming a beautiful young lady before my eyes. ¬†I find myself staring at her and searching for that “baby face” I once kissed and snuggled with. ¬†As we were shopping, I told her that “mommy” needed to pick up this and that.¬†And then it happened…

She looked at me, rolled her eyes, and said –

“Mom, you don’t have to refer to yourself in the third person. ¬†I know who you are!”

I felt a pang inside of me.

I am no longer mommy.  I am mom.

So why have I referred to myself in the third person for the past (almost) 11 years? I have done it since they were babies out of habit, and not once until this particular outing has either of them mentioned it. It does seem like a silly thing to still do after all these years.  So, as I see my children maturing, I am learning to make some changes myself.

I pray that in their quest for independence, they will see how much we need to depend on our Savior. ¬†And that no matter what age they are- they will still need “Mommy” too.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. 

Proverbs 3:5-7

In one ac”cord”

Image 2

Not quickly broken, 

a cord of three…

eldest, youngest daughter

and me.

My oldest daughter received the nickname “Sweet Treat” from a special lady several years ago. ¬†I must say that she lives up to this lovely nickname in many ways. ¬†Earlier this week, as I tucked her into bed, she said, “Momma, I have something for you!” ¬†With her crystal blue eyes shining bright, she flashed me a smile as she hid her hands behind her back. ¬†

“What is it?” I curiously asked her. ¬†

“I made you something special!” ¬†She then held out a colorful, tightly braided bracelet. ¬†

“This is for you, Momma. ¬†Don’t EVER take it off!” ¬†

“Ok, I won’t!” I tied it to my wrist as securely as I could. All week I have pondered this verse from Ecclesiastes-

Though one may be overpowered,

two can defend themselves.

A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

 Ecclesiastes 4:12

Each time I look down at my wrist and see the braid, I am struck that these strands alone are simply just pieces of string… and even two of them would unravel if I tried to twist them into a bracelet. ¬†But three…. they weave over and under into the perfect chevron pattern- not quickly broken! ¬†Much like the relationship between my daughters and I. ¬†Not quickly broken. ¬†Because we love each other. ¬†Because iron sharpens iron. ¬†As I do my best to follow Proverbs 22 and train my girls in the way they should go, God also uses them in the most miraculous ways to teach me. I hold them accountable- and they also keep me accountable. ¬†You know kids- they are the first to point out something you should (or should not!) be doing! ¬†

Image 3And as I sit at the piano, with my cord of three strands around my wrist, I play a simple chord… three notes in perfect harmony. ¬†One note alone is hollow sounding, simple, lonely. ¬†Two are better than one, but still sounds empty… but the third note makes the chord! ¬†Turning something simple into something magnificent! ¬†Major to minor, adding color and emotion with a simple note. ¬†All equal parts. ¬†On their own they are ordinary- but together, they are extraordinary!

The keys of the chord are the keys to our cord-  we need harmony in our relationships!  What beautiful things we make when we weave our love for one another together!  When we encourage one another, and allow our best qualities to ring loud and clear.  My girls are as different as night and day,  but together- our family creates  beautiful harmony. When we work together to accomplish a goal, we are unstoppable!   Relationships are hard work, but when we are like-minded,  it is truly magnificent! And when the love of Christ flows freely through us, our cord is not quickly broken.  We are stronger together than we could ever be apart.  

Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.  Philippians 2:2

¬†Lord, thank you for using my daughter’s simple gift to remind me of the special bond we have! ¬†May you weave us together in perfect harmony! ¬†Help me embrace our differences so that we might create a symphony for You!