Tuesday, December 30, 2014

There was an ugly cry at one point.

I'll be honest- I'm a little tired.  I sat in a coffee shop across from one of my besties yesterday and told her that I don't even really care about the New Year.  I didn't say it in that "tone" like I'm loathing what's to come.  I said it in a sort of softly accepted peace, and a not over thinking it kind of tone.  I don't have a word or a goal or a deep thought about 2015.  What's going to come is fine with me.  I'm going to take it one day at a time.  I might change a few things, and I might not. I'll turn 40 this year and I'll celebrate 20 years of marriage. Some big changes are on the horizon for us and I'm pretty sure I'm coping by laying it all down since I can't control any of it. That's a good place to be in.  

 I'm tired mostly, because of the fullness of our December.  It had a few unexpected moments... some challenges and bumps of course.  But at the same time it's included amazing opportunities for my son, some gift purchases for loved ones that made us tingle with joy, some funny moments where we clutched our sides laughing harder than we thought possible.  It's packed in some deeply intense heart to hearts.  Some honest moments in coffee shops with hearts laid bare and stories open.  This month has included day trips, old movies, fudge baking, girls nights, manicures with my mama and cute dresses.  It's been filled with pretty instagrams, memory making, tradition enjoying, picture taking, dance recitals and whispered conversations long into the night.  It's been filled with dreams, anticipation and sweet and salty popcorn.  It's been a month of good hair days having finally hit that certain length which requires little effort.  It's been a December for serving one another, showing love in new and unique ways, staying up late, drinking lattes and running in the rain.  We packed in work, vacation days off and that one precious day where we stayed in bed until 11 am.  We made time for naps, Jesus and family.  We did everything we wanted to do and more.  We did things we didn't want to do because they were important when weighed in the balance. We said no. We said yes. We stayed up late, and went to bed early. We set out to be intentional and we succeeded in almost every area.  We were imperfect yet persistent.  We kept the main thing, the main thing and it mattered.

Then there was the gift.  Adrain and I married young and we struggled hard to make it work being young, broke and lacking any and all life experience.  One could say some of those struggles clouded our entire future, another might say that they colored it.  I tend to lean toward the latter.  I wouldn't change them.  But... being the girly type girl that I am, I did always long to see that quintessential little aqua box with the famous fall-apart white bow someday, and I knew I would cherish that moment more than about anyone I could possibly imagine, in light of my past with this man I love and the places we've traveled together from.  I would have been thrilled with a key chain!  Christmas morning came and suddenly there it was and I had no clue so the surprise shocked me deeply!  My fingers shook, I felt the tears welling up and before I knew it, I was holding this little teal box crying my eyes out.  The kids were trying to get me to open it but I couldn't do it... not yet.  I knew it would be something lovely and simple but it was such a precious moment and I wanted to savor it as long as possible.  In the printed card, my man called me his "lovely archer"... I carefully opened the box without messing up the bow because I didn't want to ruin it. (A girl can be emotional and practical at the same time.)  Inside was the prettiest little arrow necklace... but his words... it was all in his words.  He said, with his chocolately brown eyes smiling at me, "This gift is to encourage you as your raise up our children in this second half of parenthood."  Ugly cry, full on at this point people!!  It was the most precious gift he has given me yet.

I love Christmas seasons like that. As a family, we loved hard, and in the end that's what made this month different than most other Decembers I can remember. January is my least favorite month so we'll be having a quiet little 4 person gathering to ring it in, complete with a disco ball from Party City and glitter-covered sparkling drinks in bottles, and we'll make it fun because our kids like that. What a nice way to end 2014 and welcome 2015.

Happy New Year!! 

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{P.S. for you longtime readers- my kids really don't like me saying too much about them here anymore.  There are several kids, parents of classmates, and even teachers at their school who have found my blog and instagram... which I totally love, but my kids... not so much. {Some of those people found me in social media because my kids told them about me. Guess they didn't think too far ahead on that one. Ha!} That ties my hands a bit as I want to be honoring to Joe and Ava's request for privacy, yet they are part of my life and I do blog on that!  I haven't figured it all out and sometimes they care more than other times... I try to check in with them before I hit publish but I just wanted to mention this in case you've seen a decrease in photos of them and stories that involve them.  Life is funny.  I didn't have to worry about this back in 2008 when I started blogging! And any moms of kids this age who have advice, ideas of tips on how to move forward, feel free to share!}

Monday, December 22, 2014

His gifts... always what we need in advance.

The house is peaceful with the quietest strains of Christmas music filtering through the house, and the kiddos are out playing with neighbor friends. I've had a message on my heart to share and whenever I feel that press, I try my hardest to sit down and let the words flow, as it's for a reason- an often timely blessing to my own heart, as I process out loud, exactly what God is speaking to me.  If that blessing carries over to you, it's all Him and to Him be praised. {I snapped a few shots around the house with the hint of sunlight teasing me through the windows and around here we do little happy dances when it peeks it's golden head out.  It's fleeting but appreciated.}

{yes I am ignoring that laundry}

Each season, I ask the Lord to reveal something of the old familiar Christmas story to my heart that is new or fresh.  I tend to yawn my way through the angel Gabriel, his glad tidings, his "do not fear speech"... I "yada-yada-yada" my way past the wise men, the star, the shepherds and desperately try to envision the manger scene, cling to the messy, the smells we tidy up in our manger scenes, and not settle in on ridiculous focus shifters like "why is Mary always dressed in blue," that distract and unfocus me this time of year.  Some years I succeed and it's fresh and I weep.  Some years I try and try but can't capture the emotional attachment to this story and then I beat myself up like if I had shopped earlier or baked less, or hosted in a more peaceful fashion... perhaps that emotional moment wouldn't have eluded me.  Some years it simply is... simple.  A baby.  A sacrifice.  God's gift. 

This year I focused on finding Peace.  Chaos reigns in many extensions of my life right now, and though none were caused by me, they have touched me and shifted me.  I needed, thirsted, and drove myself hard toward peace at all cost this season.  Focusing on intentionality like there was a prize at the end, and one quiet moment it finally came to me.  That fresh chunk, hitting me hard in the chest and burning my eyes with emotion so deep and hot it couldn't be ignored.

The gifts.  It was the gifts. 

Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh.  Brought reverently by the Magi, and worth fortunes back then.  If you're familiar with the story, and most people are, you'll remember that after baby Jesus had been born, King Herod set forth an awful plan to kill all the baby boys in the land, hoping to eliminate this threat to his throne.  The angel appeared to Joseph and warned him to escape to Egypt.  Of course Joseph unquestioningly got up and fled, taking his new bride and baby.

It occurred to me that a lifestyle change such as that, fleeing into a different country, leaving family and property and possibly a good many possessions behind can't have been an inexpensive venture.  If they were to begin anew, it would have cost them something.  They would have had needs that oh, I don't know... a little gold, frankincense and myrrh might have come in handy for.  There were many significant reasons for the exact gifts, and tons of symbolism for the choices the Magi made, but that wasn't what spoke to me.  What spoke to me was the very practical fact that God knew what Mary and Joseph would be facing, packing up Joseph's carpentry business and moving countries suddenly like that.  And one can't really load a ton of that up on a donkey in the middle of the night.  However, God knew and He provided... ahead of time.  He knew exactly where they were headed in life. 

This was the exact fresh thing I needed to grasp today.  God knows and He provides.  He sees our futures and He knows the needs we are going to have once we get there, or are sent there or even while we wait for "whatever it is."  I don't know if anyone else is looking into an unknown future and unsure what will come. Maybe you're hoping for something that hasn't come to pass, or grieving over a "might-have-been" or waiting... and waiting... and waiting some more.  Perhaps you're even wondering if God will ever come through and move in your story. I don't know your story, but I sure needed the reminder that God's gifts often provide for what is to come.  Sometimes His gifts are of the heart, shaping and changing us so that our plan lines up with the plan He has had for us all along.  Sometimes His gifts are financial, or material, allowing us to do certain things or go certain places in life that we hadn't planned on.  But make no mistake, He knows what we need in advance, and He loves to provide in ways that always, always, always bring Him glory. This Christmas, let the peace of that knowledge flood your heart like the precious gift it is. 

Merry Christmas my friends.  I sure adore you.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

I'm just going to walk around very slowly...

Friday, our kids were out of school for the day and Adrain took the day off so we headed to Port Gamble, Washington, which happens to be one of my very favorite cute spots on this whole earth.  Not a ton to "do" there but sometimes that's a really good idea- Go someplace there isn't a whole lot to "do."  The general store there, is a darling old building full of goodness and huge jars of candy.  It was fully decked out for Christmas with big glittering trees as you first walk through the front doors.  Ava was walking in front of me and in a sweetly appreciative, breathless voice whispered, "Oh I am just going to walk around very slowly."

The second those words were out of her mouth, I felt like they were just for me.  A perfectly worded reminder to slow down... walk slowly... savor the sights, the moments and the memories.  And I did.  It was so needed.  (I'll share those pictures in just a moment)
Which brings me to this quote- "You always have time for the things you put first." I put this on Instagram last night and said that "I have been really reflecting on this quote all week.  This busy season has a way of squeezing plans and people "out" because there simply isn't time or room for everything and everyone.  I tend to be very sensitive to this when I am on the receiving end of cancelled plans and I am working at being gracious and understanding... along with being careful to try and make time for everyone that is my priority so that they know they are loved an appreciated and valued.  Our time is such a gift & we can love WELL even in the chaos.  Put people first... you'll never be sorry!"  

I love this quote.  It's a balance between the reality of often being inadvertently pushed out of others hectic schedules (being gracious when your feelings are hurt- especially when you feel like people who are one of your priorities aren't able to also make you one of their priorities) and making sure to make others feel special to you amidst the very chaotic schedules we're all keeping this month.  Isn't life always a lesson in loving others well?

The holiday season sure puts that one to the test.  I just wanted to encourage you and say... "Let's treat others as we want to be treated no matter what!" Amen? 
 Speaking of treating others... we made a sweet little on the fly birthday party for a family member and it was so fun.  Just simple touches and store-bought cupcakes.  It doesn't have to be crazy or over the top to make people feel loved.  Just slowing down to be there with them is the main thing. 

I was sitting on the sofa and Ava was standing in front of the tree holding her blanket like this.  It was so picture perfect I made her freeze until I could snap the moment. 

 Alright now here are a few of our Port Gamble day out pictures. (And yes Ava is standing on her tip toes.  Everyone wants to be the tallest.)

 I love when you have to get on a ferry to leave town.  It makes it feel like you're really getting away.  And it's so relaxing.

 I love this little house... it was a sea captain's home and instead of facing the street, it faces the harbor.  That was so he could see the home fires burning in greeting as he sailed into port.  I absolutely love that story.
 Ava always has to get a charm for her bracelet here.
 Adrain took this photo of me taking a photo.  Ha!

 Such tender moments in the little cemetery.  It holds such stories... too many infants... and young men who were mill workers, not even aged 30 yet. Sad to think of the accidents that probably took lives back then that we wouldn't think twice about now.  It feels like a holy place.

 {If I had put together a Christmas card... this would have been a perfect image.  Love that they are actually both smiling. whoohoo!}

 I love that so many homes have little history signs talking about the people who first lived there.  Makes me sad I can't go back in time and get to know them all.
 Thankful for... jingle-belling with my kiddos and hubby...My very first date at a place that makes latte art... cute polka dotted plates at Marshalls... A fun ferry ride... being in a favorite place with my favorite guy... a daughter that makes me laugh with her ballet poses... all gifts wrapped and DONE... a sparkly store that reminded me to walk slowly and savor... and a gravesite that reminded me the only thing we can really take with us is the way we made people feel when we were with them.   

So here I go into this week- gonna do my best to make those loved ones feel LOVED. Want to join me in that venture?!  Make room in your chaos for those you love- once time goes by, you can't get it back!

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