Thankful Thursday #81

* rose from a long ago bouquet

753. completed paperwork
754. a new job
755. sunshine
756. warm toes in slippers
757. library books
758. silly iPod photos with Thing 2
759. Thing 1's yummy popcorn
760. Thing 3 asking me to "stay longer"
761. book club with Thing 4 at school
762. grace

Only A Moment

I was a little girl.  Years ago, second grade.  Still considered the new kid at school.  One that didn't really fit in.  My last name was "Stuck" so you can just imagine the taunting I heard.  My uniform was never just right when compared with the other girls.  I went to daycare because both my parents worked.  My size didn't help.  Always the shortest and always placed at the front of the line.  I wore red converse high tops.  Girls just didn't do that. 

I tried.  More like strived to please my parents, the teacher.  Oh how I loved every one of my teachers.  Really.  There was never one I couldn't impress with my politeness, willingness to do right or the lengths I would go to lend a helping hand.  To them at least all was well.  What they didn't see were the brief moments on the playground.  Or when they turned their back.  Someone mouthing "teacher's pet".  Blocking my seat so I couldn't sit down.  The name calling.  Shorty, Stuck in the mud, goody too-shoos.  I heard it all. 

Most days I would cry into my pillow.  Sometimes I would share my sorrows with my Dad.  Nearly every time I did he would say, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me".  While the adage attempts to be a band aid and belittle the words spoken, those of us that have lived through this know that isn't always the case.  My father's intent was pure and I am certain that he didn't want to see me hurt anymore than I wanted to hear those words.  There just wasn't anyway to make it better.  I was scarred.  It only took a moment.  An indifferent word spoken by a child who didn't know any better.  Who maybe didn't realize the impact their words would carry.  A memory that goes far beyond any schoolyard.  Moments carried into my adulthood. 
I have grown up and yet those moments are all part of my story.  They helped shape the person I am today.  Whether given great power or stuffed away and forgotten it all happened.  I heard every last syllable uttered.  And yes, those words along with countless other moments, both the positive and negative are forever.  I've learned and processed and  healed.  I have also been on the other side.  The one who spoke those words, decided rather indifferently not to and ignored the opportunity to build up in place of tearing down.  Not so proud of that. 

Yet here I sit again and the picture focuses clear in my mind, me, alone at recess or lunch time, reading a book and wanting nothing more than to be included in the game they're all playing.  Only this time it doesn't happen.  Just like it didn't then.  And then it disappears and I remember I am an adult now, a wife, a parent.  The responsibility has fallen on me.  My idle words are the ones I will be held accountable for, Matthew 12:42.  It only takes a moment for them to leave my lips and float into some one's heart, leaving an impression to last a lifetime.  Will I choose the words that make souls stronger?  Or the actions that have eternal impact?  I pray I do.  You can too.  It is our privilege to have the ability to make a difference in just a minute.  To be inspired I suggest you take a look at the video below by Dr. Wess Stafford, president of Compassion International and author of a new book entitled, "Just a Minute".  He highlights all the ways we can do the above in "Just a Minute".  It is mind boggling that in a mere 60 seconds we hold that sort of life altering empowerment.  Only through Christ. 

A While

It has been a while since my last post, ten days in fact.  My apologies.  Our Internet has been a bit spotty around here.  On and then off and then on again.  The technicians can not seem to figure it out.  Husband Jared either.  Anyhoo, I missed "Thankful Thursday" and some catching up so I will do my best to bring y'all up to speed. 

Since I last wrote I have received a letter from a friend in Honduras.  One in which she explained to us that the new school term begins in February and there are over four hundred children in the four education centers that Mission Lazarus runs and they are in desperate need of school supplies.  Without the proper uniform and supplies the Honduran children cannot attend school.  Did you read that?  Now digest it.  Education is FREE, if and a big if here, you can purchase your own school supplies and uniform.  Seems simple enough, right?  Wrong.  The typical wages earned do not allow for these sort of expenses.  Necessities are first.  And when families aren't able to feed all their children everyday how can they be expected to purchase such frivolities as notebooks and pencils?  Here is where you and I can help.  On the Mission Lazarus store website we have an opportunity to help.  When you click on the link above you will see "cards" for sale.  There is one card that reads, "school supplies" with a rather sweet photo of a school age child.  Click on that card and you will be making an eternal difference in the life of a Honduran child.  One in which they will be in an environment of learning.  Learning not only what the school books have to teach them but learning about the love of a man named Jesus.  Please prayerfully considering partnering with Mission Lazarus and sharing what has been given to you with these children.  Show them what the body of believers can do for the Kingdom. 

On a lighter note, it is snowing here.  I am sure all the Minnesotans are saying "finally", and in our house the Things are definitely excited to see some powdery white stuff blanketing the streets.  That means sledding and playing and snowball fights after school.  Wonder what they would do if I hid an arsenal of snow balls and just surprised them when they ran to the front door of our house from the bus stop.  Hmm.  Something to ponder.  I drove in the snow for the first time this morning.  I mean I drove on Friday too but it wasn't snowing it was just slushy everywhere.  This morning though, snow everywhere and snow falling.  I was a little nervy but I fared well.  Extremely cautious and slow.  Should be my new motto and maybe not just for driving.

The Things are well.  Thing 1 and 2 had busy friend filled weekends.  Thing 3 stayed close to home and me and  our books.  Thing 4 had lots of footie this weekend and we played many games of Spoons and Life and Sorry.  Husband Jared and I drove all over town on Saturday, much like chauffeurs for the eldest two Things.  It was fun.  We skyped with family and caught up on laundry and had family church at our house on Sunday.  Just the six of us.  It was special. 

Now I have a to do list that is calling for my attention and a dog that needs walking.  Here's to Monday and the week ahead and staying connected, I hope.

More Things I Love, Including A Word For The Year


Well it is finally snowing here, where we are living.  It has been sprinkling unique snowflakes all over this morning and I am enjoying watching them float to the ground.  I don't have an abundance of words, in fact I am feeling quite dry where they are concerned so forgive me if this post seems but a meandering list of incoherent thoughts.

I love being barefoot.  And yes in the kitchen too.  At one point with a baby or two on my hips or in the sling, their favorite place was next to me.  I loved every moment of that chaos. 

I love romantic ideas.  Not just love-romance, authentic romantic ideology.  Why, why do I love that so much?  Certainly not pragmatic. 

I love cottages and old houses.  My dream is to renovate or at least live in a home that is at the minimum 100 years old.  See, there's that romanticism rearing it's head again.

I love tulips and sunflowers and gerber daisies and wildflowers.  I loved last year in Turkey when our maintenance man picked the wild lavender in our yard and had the Things deliver it to me.  Sweet. 

I love traveling to far away places, whether in my mind or reality.  I love dreaming about living abroad again. 

I love the smell of my Tyler candle, "high maintenance" filling our home.  Divine.

I love quiet and yet I crave the noise of four Things and all their friends and busyness filling this space and my heart.  I love neighbors and friends that come in without calling first or open the refrigerator without asking and help themselves.  That's real. 

I love old photos.  Specifically I am loving one that was given to me this past Christmas of my grandparents.  And there's this great one of my Dad looking super sporty about 30 some years ago.  Love. 

I love words.  For this year I jumped on the bandwagon, one I read about, and decided to designate a word for the year.  One that would set the tone.  Guide my actions and decisions daily.  A theme.  A reminder if you will, of what I was to be intentional about.  The particular word I chose was one I begin hearing when I traveled to Honduras last September.  Listen.

 Six letters.  So powerful.  Such a challenge for me.  Whether it comes to the Things, sometimes even Husband Jared, the people around me, God.  I find my mind wandering.  Moving on to the next task, looking at what's ahead in place of listening to the here and now.  I can mimic a response, dish them out as though I heard every precious word of what was spoken.  But no, I really didn't.  Because sometimes I'm too worried about getting everything done.  Or making sure that the Things have done homework, read, journaled, studied, cleaned, etc., are prepared for the next day's schedule.  The list never ends.  Then neither does my worry or guilt over whether I really heard them or what they were trying to say without saying it.   So I choose to listen this year.  The year of 2012.  Listen to what's being said.  What isn't being said.  Not to listen to the world speak.  Listen to what is being chosen to be shared with me.  The gifts that are waiting to be heard.  That's what else I love.

Thankful Thursday #80

* don't you wish you could curl up like this and take a snooze?
lucky dog.

743. warm coffee cup in cold hands
744. books, books and more books
745. blank journal pages waiting to be filled
746. helping in Thing 4's classroom
747. new friends joining the Things on Wednesday nights
748. mom-daughter date night
749. asking to snuggle longer
750. challenging work out
751. sore muscles
752. snow flakes falling

Just Photos, Because I Love them!

Husband Jared was feeling sentimental yesterday and his feelings transferred to me and this is all the post I could muster after spending an hour looking through photos of our England trip in 2010.  Good times people, good times.

 Outside the gates, London

 Big Ben, but not really, do you know the actual name?

 Ryland's Library, Manchester

 Outside Old Trafford

Spanish tapas in Trafford Centre, during our shopping marathon


Handwritten

There is just something about opening up the mail box and finding a handwritten envelope inside.  Not an advertisement that's made to look authentic.  The real deal.  A familar return address.  Maybe a family member or a dear friend.  That is enough to make my soul do flips.  Even kart wheels and can I just say mine are fairly ugly, not for public viewing.  But I would do them if I found a letter waiting just for me. 

It seems as though this might be a lost art.  I for one desire to not let it slip away into those forgotten times where no one remembers what snail mail is or was. 

Not too long ago I received a letter in the mail from a friend whom I correspond with typically via Face book or email.  Her daughter and mine are bestest friends and have been and we have shared many memories together along the way.  First their family moved away from our "hood" as we affectionately call it, and then ours moved and then ours moved again, this time abroad.  We still managed to stay in touch.  Then we moved back to the states and our girls began writing letters back and forth.  The excitement I saw in Thing 2's face when she had an envelope waiting for her was priceless.  And then one day there was one  for me.  So special.  I squealed with glee and ran around the house waving my letter.  Silly, I know.  The Things didn't think twice, they know their Mama.  The handwritten letter that came just for me was a gift.  Far beyond the words that were on the paper.  It conveyed that my friend had thought about me.  She shared with me not only her thoughts but her time as well; Which in this day with our jam packed schedules and obligations and commitments really spoke volumes to my heart.

Now receiving handwritten notes is but one part to this equation.  The actual writing and sending of such is the other.  I love a blank card waiting for me to fill it with love.  It has been noted, pun totally intended, that I have a like for paper, or greeting cards, invitations, card stock, you name it, I like it! I see possibility.  I envision words flowing, making the recipient smile, or remember or be encouraged.  I recently was browsing the DaySpring website and stumbled upon their sweet thank you cards.  You really must take a look at their card collection.  It is so sweet.  There are countless options and all waiting with possibility.  I am sure there is someone you can think of that needs their day brightened.  Go, peruse their site, find some inspiration. 

My inspiration just arrived via the brown delivery truck this morning and I couldn't be more excited.  The doorbell rang and Polo barked and tried to no avail to be a scary guard dog.  I'm sure the man on the other side of the door was just laughing on the inside.  Anyhow, this was waiting for me.

* both from DaySpring,
the card organizer here, and the So True boxed thank you cards here

All this to say, write that card, or letter.  The one you've been meaning to.  To the friend, sister, brother, child, you've been thinking about. It is a gift as much for them as it is you. 

Encourage one another and build each other up.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

Brother

Today is my little brother's birthday.  I still call him little brother despite the fact that he is almost 6 feet tall, is married and now has a daughter of his own.  He will always be younger than me and in my eyes my baby brother. 

This being his special day and all caused me to think on our sibling relationship and how grateful I am for it.  He is my brother.  In my cell phone contacts I don't have his name, simply "brother".  The Things think that is funny.  I don't remember the last time I used his given name, he is either Uncle J or brother. 

Growing up the relationship was a bit rocky.  There was this time I almost broke his nose.  The numerous yelling matches we had over Nintendo or whose turn it was to feed the dogs.  Even all out fisticuffs which I'm sure were initiated over meaningless battles.  Then there were all the softball games he had to go to when he would have much rather been with his buddies.  Or the shadow he walked in of a sister who was teacher's pet and quite rebellious on the home front.  Who knew that when we grew up he would be one of my best friends?

He is the guy I can call when I just don't think I've got it right.  Or when I don't have words to explain.  The one who will laugh with me about our childhood and remember all "those times".  A brother who forgave this sister, more than once.  The one who was and still is effortlessly great at everything his hands touch.  Favored by the Creator.  Charming and authentic.  A man of commitment and dedication.  A brother whom is now a father.  And if that's not the sweetest thing to watch.  Genuine. Yet still the one that can make me scream with frustration but also one who makes my heart burst out of my chest.


I love you brother and I do hope that this year of 31 is filled with unexpected blessings and life's sweetest joy.  Happy birthday!

Prompted by a Quote

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing".
Helen Keller
True?  I think so.  Especially as of late.  When our family received news that we were moving abroad I viewed it as an adventure.  And then when our time ended abruptly overseas I simply said that we were on to the next adventure.  And when plans changed once again and we up and moved to Minnesota I said repeatedly it would be a new adventure.  And now that we have been here for almost six months I don't think it has been quite the adventure I was anticipating. 

Don't misunderstand, it most certainly has been something of an adventure.  Just not the one I really wanted.  Nor do I want it now.  Yet it is everything it is supposed to be.  Only because of a plan much greater than my fleshly eyes can see.  If it were all revealed to me I wouldn't feel the necessity of continuing.  There lies the purpose.  Eternity. 

Each day holds the potential for adventure.  Creating.  Sharing.  Community.  Relationship.  Opportunity.  It is when we set our eyes beyond the tunnel vision in which we have limited ourselves to and truly allow ourselves to be present in the moment gifted to us that we can engage the adventure.  A lofty statement for sure.  A subject on which I am no expert.  What I do know is that if my perspective shifts and I can see each moment as an adventure daring me to participate than the joy is limitless.  It is a choice.  To live and live fully.  Find the joy.  See the adventure.  

Thankful Thursday #79

* photo from underground cities in Cappadocia

733. sparkly snow shining on a winter's morning
734. fresh starts, new beginnings
735. chilly run with Polo
736. Things helping without being asked
737. electric in the air
738. hugs, don't let go kind of hugs
739. accomplished to do list
740. dinner in the crock pot
741. new recipe to try
742. happy text messages

Old and New

I do love a New Year.  The start of the school year in September.  A Monday rolling around to begin a new week.  The first day of summer break.  Even a new month.  Now that I have established my love for all things new I thought it only fitting to do a post on resolutions.  Only in our house we do goal setting.  And it really isn't so much goal setting as it is evaluating the past year.  Looking backwards first.  Then setting our eyes on what's ahead.  The unknown. 

Typically we have a New Year's dinner with the Things where we have this discussion.  I have questions and I ask them to reflect on the past year.  No, this isn't done willingly.  Some cohersion is involved.  Although once the convo has been initiated they are active participants.  Sharing, shouting and being real. 

One of my favorite questions this year wasn't really a question.  We all were asked to describe 2011 in three words.  Time was needed.  The six of us sat contemplating.  For our sky is always blue boy, his words came quickly.  Thing 1 really thought, deeply.  Her words made known the challenges that the past year brought, especially for a girl who doesn't necessarily like change.  Thing 3 had two words on the tip of her tongue and one that was telling of her thought process.  As for Thing 2, she had a larger focus, a wider lens if you will and her words told of that.  It was interesting to hear them speak these words.  They were accurate and for a brief moment I was catapulted back to the beginning of 2011 and placed on the rollercoaster that was that year.  We spent the rest of the night answering more questions and talking about our favorite books we read, a most memorable moment and even the most difficult thing we experienced.  It was good.  More than that it was reflective.  Our gratitude increased in depth sitting around the table recalling all that was 2011. 


Now that we reflected and remembered and relived we are moving on.  Tonight's discussion will revolve around new beginnings.  Accomplishments, goals, books to read, places to see, hobbies to try and gifts to share.  Maybe a bit of planning and coordinating so that these dreams are made a reality this year in 2012.  A new year.  One I will relish. 

Thing 4

Here's to you my little man on your tenth birthday.  A birthday in which I have realized you are growing up.  Independent, strong willed, assertive and full of energy.  Your favorite word to say is "literally".  For some reason you like the way the letters roll off your tongue.


This past year I have watched  you go out on a limb to be a friend, be a companion for the underdog, treat those younger than you with such sweetness and find greater purpose in all you do. 

For being 10 years old you have a gift for understanding situations that are much larger than you.  You have little tolerance when there is no compromise or a predicament turns sour.  Your feelings are worn on your sleeve.  Whether on the pitch or at home around the table playing board games.  You are fiercely competitive and are learning to lose better.  That is a tough lesson. 

Comics and Diary of A Wimpy Kid are your favorite things to read right now.  And of course Match Magazine or Four Four Two.  Anything football related. You still enjoy building forts out of cardboard boxes and using your creative imagination when building with Legos. 

I am seeing your servants heart.  That is pure joy.  As is your humor.  Dry and edgy, just like your Daddy's.  Your sweet smile makes my soul fly away.  This Mama is so very grateful that God chose me to be your caretaker here.  What a gift.  May you grow in  your walk with Him, closer every day.  And continue to shine brightly, year after year.

A Belated Birthday Post

Here we are 2012 and I am just now writing a birthday post for the youngest Thing.  He is a decade old.  Really?  My baby is 10 years old.  When I look at him I still see a little butterball staring back at me with the biggest blue eyes imaginable.  Is it cliche to ask where the time has gone?  I assume so. 

Well Thing 4's birthday came with all the excitement that usually accompanies birthdays, especially the entrance into double digits.  Our football team had a match early in the morning and since Thing 4 does share his birthday with Boxing Day the family went to Britt's Pub in Minneapolis.  We had an English breakfast, met some football friends from Thing 4's team and watched United win, big!  The entire family sported United gear and Poppi even had a jersey on. 

 Father and Son, proud supporters

Poppi, wearing a football jersey for the first time

We strolled through downtown Minneapolis and took in the city sights and headed home to play and enjoy the birthday boy's new toys.  His dinner menu had been decided on, chocolate donuts, chocolate chip cookies (store bought only), rootbeer, real cheeseburgers, french fries and homemade onion strings.  Thing 4 invited one of his buddies to share in the festivities for the evening. 

 Thing 4 and Friend

 Birthday Cake, vanilla cake, chocolate buttercream frosting

Playing GOLF

Thing 4 opened presents, enjoyed his dinner, played Wii, played cards, blewout candles and had a fantastic 10th birthday!