Saturday, May 26, 2012

50 reasons to sing

I woke up yesterday in a good mood with a heart full of gratitude.  All around me I found many reasons to sing.  Each new day that Brayden is well and healthy is a gift. Yesterday I decided to count how many days it had been since Brayden had his last CVS episode.  It had been 50!  When I told him this, he thought it a good idea to bake a cake to celebrate. So we did.  Instead of singing, he decided it was best to pray and thank God for this.  I couldn't have agreed more.  Many reasons to sing.  Yesterday was full of them. Here are a random 50:
  1. Jesus
  2. My husband and my marriage
  3. Brayden
  4. Brooke
  5. Berlyn
  6. Our health
  7. Our home
  8. Our family
  9. Our friends
  10. Our church
  11. Our neighbors (we happen to be sandwiched between two of the best)
  12. Our cute town
  13. The peonies in our front yard about to fully bloom
  14. Music
  15. Bible study
  16. Prayer
  17. The fact that my kids love Jesus...and Adele
  18. My ability to stay home with the kids
  19. Homeschooling
  20. Seasons
  21. Exercise
  22. Good food
  23. Being able to paint my toenails. Finally. (hadn't happened since Easter)
  24. The fact that all three of my kids ate lunch together happily watching Sesame Street (don't know if this will be the last time that'll ever happen as some are outgrowing Elmo and Big Bird)
  25. Our Magic Bullet and it's ability to transform kale,spinach and ground flaxseed into delicious shakes my kids love
  26. Finally being able to make it to Trader Joes (there and back) without getting lost
  27. My husband's job
  28. New nail polish that does not chip or come off after one day (thank you Em for introducing me to Sally Hansen's "Complete Salon Manicure")
  29. Antiques
  30. Blogging/writing
  31. Books, and my love for reading
  32. Salvation
  33. Eternity
  34. Our country (and the men and women and their families who selflessly and sacrificially serve to defend our freedom)
  35. iphones
  36. The gift of motherhood
  37. The gift of sisterhood (biological and spiritual)
  38. The beauty in creation
  39. His promises that never fail
  40. His provision that supplies for every need
  41. His grace that is sufficient
  42. His mercies that fall new and fresh every morning
  43. His forgiveness for my daily mistakes and stumbles
  44. His work in and around me
  45. His love that cannot be separated
  46. His goodness that abounds
  47. His peace that calms and covers
  48. Pinterest
  49. Clean sheets
  50. 50 days of being CVS episode free!

What are your reasons to sing today?

Friday, May 25, 2012

thank your teachers!

A couple of weeks ago I took Brayden and Brooke back to their old school to say goodbye to their teachers.  Both of their teachers have been wonderful, but I wasn't looking forward to this day because I knew it would be emotional.  (Although, the gap in time between them being pulled out of school and then going back to say goodbye did serve as a buffer).  Until then, I kinda felt like I was being pulled between the past and what was, and the present and what is...a bittersweet tension. 
I was ready to move forward.

The kids and I put together gifts for their teachers...
(stole this idea from pinterest)

 And since Brayden and Brooke never did get a chance to say goodbye to their classmates, (It was just one of those things we knew would be too emotional...too raw.  The adjustment was huge and we needed to plow forward.  I think any reminder of the past would have stalled the progress we were all trying to make in moving ahead and establishing a new normal.) We made little treat bags for their classmates and attached our address, email address, and phone # to each one so that everyone would have a chance to stay in touch with us.  Leaving things open-ended like this eased the kids hearts a bit too because they didn't have to feel like this was a final goodbye.
 I found a great blog eighteen25 that offered these free printables (the "you're so sharp" ones above and the ones on the teachers clipboards below.)
If you are looking for end of the year teacher gift ideas, and want these printables but don't want to go into the eighteen25 blog archive to find them, I would gladly email them to you.  
I bought these clipboards at Office Max, but I did recently see some at Debby's Dollar too.  I just used a spray adhesive to affix the printable to the clipboard. (and then I put the clipboard in a clear basket bag to protect it.)
(note* I did try to ModPodge over one of these and the ink ran and it rippled the paper.  Thankfully I had purchased 3 clipboards for just this reason. So be careful if you choose to do anything "extra" to it.)
(We made cards for the teachers too and tucked a giftcard inside each one.  The cards had their "first day" photos on the front and a personal hand written message on the inside.)

Here is Brayden with his teacher, Mrs. Cairns, 
on his first day of third grade.
And here he is saying goodbye.
This is Brookie and Ms. Querro 
on her first day of first grade.
And here is Brookie saying goodbye.
I appreciated their teachers taking the time after school to meet with us and to allow the kids some closure and to say goodbye.  We were there for quite a while and had a really nice visit with them.  I'm also very appreciative of all of the help and support they offered throughout this entire journey for our family.  They visited Brayden in the hospital, texted or emailed me nearly every day to see how he was doing and to offer encouragement, and have even extended their help to me if I shall need it in this next journey of homeschooling.
They truly deserve to be recognized and celebrated.
I have a new respect and appreciation for teaching;
I only have 3 to teach daily and that requires a lot of patience!
I can't imagine having a roomful of 26+ students.
So, as the school year draws to a close,
don't forget to acknowledge the teachers in the life of your child(ren) who make a difference and invest their time into your precious one(s).

Thursday, May 17, 2012

of pride and 8 year old

let pride arise from this 8 year old boy's heart.
since beginning this homeschooling adventure,
brayden has read 5 "Diary of a Wimpy Kids" books.
(and to my delight has developed a love for reading. this is big.)
 and while his mind is getting stronger and healthier,
so is his little body.
this week he hit the "60" mark on the scale.
(i'm not sure which accomplishment he is more proud of :)
little victories.
celebrating as they come.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

draw near

Intimacy: closeness of observation, or knowledge of a subject; detailed, familiar with, involving very close connection; personal.

I've been craving intimacy with God lately.  It's one thing to chat with Him on and off throughout the course of the day, and it's another to give Him the firstfruits of your day, earnestly seeking Him first  (Matthew 6:33) before the demands of the day and life rush in.  There's a filling and a peace that happens in those intimate morning moments.
I've learned to love them.
Depend on them.
Cherish them.
Pursue them.
(and miss them).

"Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days."
Psalm 90:14

Prior to Brayden's hospitalizations and medical issues, 
and before pulling the kids out of public school to homeschool them,  
I was thick in the middle of a Bible study, 
and mornings like this with God were daily. 
That, and hitting the gym a few times a week.
There was a balance in the physical and spiritual.
Healthy life-giving habits.

With all of the sudden life changes that were thrown upon us,
I have been craving routine as well.
As we struggle to embrace these changes and wriggle ourselves into a new seat of normal, it's put many of my old habits and "taking care of me" things on the backburner a bit
(like exercise and my morning quiet time with the Lord).

And it is showing.

I've noticed I have been growing more and more impatient with the kids,
and my joy is being squelched a bit too quickly.
Last week I had to give myself timeouts 2 days in a row.
Yep. Locked myself in my bedroom and refused to answer any knocks by anyone whose age was still in the single-digits.
Just folded laundry for a few minutes while I regained my composure.
Don't get me wrong, things have been going well, but with the demands of this new lifestyle, I am finding less and less time for things regarding "me," and I know it's time to find a way to incorporate them back into my lifestyle, even if they'll "look" different than they did before.

Another adjustment has been with this new curriculum, there is much more individualized teaching, and since Brayden and Brooke are at different levels of learning, I am trying to spend a good portion of my time teaching one on one with a loud, distracting, needy toddler at my feet.  My expectations and visions of sitting at my corner desk with my pupils simultaneously on each side of me is quickly fading.  It wasn't much as I wanted it to.  In fact, completing school for the day before lunch time is also a reality that is not going to happen either.  Realistically, I need to teach the kids some of their lessons while Berlyn is napping and there is absolutely no 2 year old distractions.  So, we are adjusting our expectations and trying to find a routine with this all (still!)  

I've also found that it is easier to have one of the kids play with and watch Berlyn (out of the classroom completely) while I work with the other, and then we do a "switch."  So, the only time I actually have them in the classroom with me together is when she is napping.  These were not my initial wishes, and fell short of my original expectations for homeschooling.  Things also aren't as structured as I had imagined, but we are finding a way to make this work considering all of the circumstances.  I'm learning to like it, and I think a routine is on the horizon.  In addition, the kids (and myself) are getting more and more acquainted with this curriculum and what is expected each day.  With that, things are going much more smoothly.

Routine is getting ready to bloom here...finally.

And because of this, I'm finding that my old healthy habits of regular exercise and intentional, isolated time alone with God need to become priority again.
These things are life-giving to me...
deprived for too long and I grow weary and unhappy.   
Now that the dust has settled a bit on this new lifestyle,
I'm looking to do just this. Carving them out and making them once again a priority. It makes me a much better (and more centered) wife and mother.

So, yesterday morning I woke up early to satisfy my hunger for God...
desiring His presence and the filling that only He can give.
I thought of that verse:
"Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you." 
James 4:8
So, I decided I would do just that.
And it was just what I needed.

I haven't been able to take the classes I've grown to love at the gym, and my exercising habits have suffered, so I'm trying to incorporate this back into my life from a different angle.
So, after my quiet time with the Lord, I put on my running gear, grabbed my ipod, and headed outside for a short 25 minute jog (before Darcy had to leave for work).  This was such a great way to start my day, and I felt refreshed and renewed in body and spirit.

When I arrived home after my jog, I trotted up the path to our front door and couldn't believe what laid before me.  My all-time favorite flower is the peony.  I grew up with white peony bushes framing the back porch of our old farm house.  Each home Darcy and I have owned, we have planted peony bushes (but unfortunately, have had to move before enjoying them in full bloom).  We moved into this house last September.  I hadn't a clue what plants and flowers were in store to bloom around us.  My heart was clapping when I took notice of these peony bushes right off of our front porch.  Not planted by myself or my husband, yet we will be here to reap their full and fragrant bloom.  

The fact that they are here to enjoy is a blessing, but the discovery of them yesterday was not coincidence.  I've been outside every day with my kids and hadn't noticed them until after my morning jog yesterday.  They were overlooked because I was yet to draw near to them.  It wasn't until after giving Him my firstfruits of the day and intentionally drawing near to Him that I took notice.  It felt like a little gift.  Isn't that just the way He works too?  Blessing us in personal tangible ways when we do seek Him first and draw near?  Intimacy.  Closeness. Familiarity. To be noticed and known. Favored with things (such as peony) that bring personal meaning and beauty and reminder to our spirit.  He has such knowledge of each of us, and is in all the details of our lives.  There's nothing unfamiliar to Him that we bring (or hide from Him).  He understands our hearts and what makes them beat.  Yesterday's peony (that is yet to bloom) is so symbolic to me.  I'm certain of one thing...I don't want to miss out on finding Him, discovering Him, beholding the beauty He is yet to blossom and unfold in my life.
Yes, much is yet to bloom.
I don't want to overlook or  miss Him.
I'm drawing near.
Being a follower of Christ does not exempt us from bad things happening.  The weeds of life will spring up regardless of who we follow.  But, as I've mentioned several times before,

He works all things out for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose Romans 8:28

This isn't my opinion or my philosophy on life.  This is truth based on the inspired Word of God. This is a promise.  A life-giving one.  So, as lovers and followers of Jesus, we have this to sink our teeth into, this promise that can satisfy and sustain, this hope that in seasons of pain and hardship, when things don't make sense and we ask over and over again, "but, why?"...even in seasons of waiting, stillness, and the mundane, we can anticipate that in some holy way, in a way that matters eternally, things are yet to bloom.

"Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you." 
James 4:8
I should note that this verse so happened to be in my daily devotional after I wrote this post.  Ironic? Coincidence? I think not... but rather a reminder that  He is at work in creation and in my own heart, and in all that is around us (including you).
And He's inviting us to draw near and be a part of it.

What is it you are facing and consumed with now?
Perhaps it's a reflection of what you are drawing near to.
Why not make it Him?

He is the Gardener of heart and life in all forms.
From the peony to the soul,
a blossom awaits.
All artwork points to its creator.
He can't help but be found.
And He's even more visible when we draw close with intention.

Not all before us is quite yet in bloom,
so we wait with expectancy.
Embracing what is,
and searching for Him in the midst... 
for His joy and unsurpassable peace
in the moments in between.
For life and beauty (and routine) to unfold.
Petal by petal.
It can be found.
And we trust in His promises
that He is at work in everything.
In us.
And in the world around us...
even in the blooming of something as simple as a flower. 
Praise Him that He may be found when we
draw near.

Friday, May 11, 2012


don't have time to say much,
but after 11 years of marriage
there's not much to say besides,
i am very blessed.
to have this man by my side 
for the past 4,015 days.
through storm and sunshine
drought and rain.
his character and integrity
leave much to be admired.
his wit and humor
has carried me through many a dark time.
his gentleness and sensitivity
has calmed a raging sea.
his drive and ambition
inspire me daily.
he leads
and i follow.
and will continue
as long as the good Lord allows.
thank you darc
for the best 11 years of my life.

and since it's our 11th year of marriage,
on the 11th day of May,
does that make this a "golden" anniversary?
either way,
i'm golden with you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sensationally "7"

My little girl has been counting down the days until it was her birthday for months.  Literally, months!  Well, this past Sunday, her day finally arrived,
and Brooke Ryan turned sensationally "7"
(I almost added sensationally "sassy" too...
but we'll play nice today since we're in a celebratory mood!)

This year we did not have a big themed party.  I even sent out her birthday invitations via text message (and joked...well, half-joked, to my friends that hitting the "send" button on that text was going against every creative bone in my body!)  But, tis the season in life!
Every year Brookie begs to have her birthday party somewhere else besides home, and this year, her wish came true.  The day before her actual birthday, we had a party for her at Olympia Gymnastics.
It was kinda nice not having to clean my house that day.
Actually, I really didn't do much of anything besides bake a few cupcakes and put together a few treat/favor boxes.
In fact, my sister was in town over the weekend and frosted the cupcakes for me.  
My mother-in-law made and brought snacks and goodies for the party too.
This party was a cinch.

A couple of girls weren't able to make it, and one even went home early with a tummy ache,
but it didn't stop any of these girls from having a good time.

On Sunday morning, the birthday girl awoke with eager anticipation to rip into her birthday gifts from her family.  
We managed to fit that in, and a little "pogo" sticking, all before church.
and finished the day with more family time, laughter, 
tickles, cupcakes, and smiles...

and reminders that our little girl is growing up right before our eyes.
Sensationally "7"
full of life,
a lover of it.
full of joy,
in exuberance.
fiercely independent,
yet unabashedly "daddy's girl",
(and Mama's fellow "Godgirl"...thank you Jamie Grace for this mother-daughter bonding song you've bestowed to "us.")
and gifted she is
with a laugh contagious,
a generous gift giver and lover of people.
fun spirited,
creatively bent,
lover of fake nails,
and the outdoors,
and Barbie dolls,
and jump roping.
she waltzes through this world
barefoot and fancy free
and dances on our hearts
with a beat of beauty
that is one of a kind.
Just as she is.
Beautifully and wonderfully made.
for the next 362 more days,
she shall remain
sensationally "7."