Every which way I turn there seems to be poetry.  I'm not necessarily speaking metaphorically either.  In "A Million Little Ways" by Emily Freeman, a book I recently read, she calls us the "poiema" of Christ.  The word poiema is Greek and it is where our English word, poem takes it's origins. Poiema, is masterpiece, or workmanship when translated from the Biblical text as in Ephesians.  Paul's letter to the people in Ephesus states, "For we are God's masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago".  We are His creation, living, breathing, works of art.  Image bearer.  Powerful.  I've thought quite a lot about what exactly that means in my life.  This word has caused me to reevaluate what art actually is.  How my life is a work of art.  Constant.  In motion.  Ever changing.  The life I live gives words to my poem.  My offering. 
Then I stumbled upon a poem written in the foreword of another book I just started reading, "Jesus Feminist", by Sarah Bessey.  I'll share it here, it's lengthy but so worth the read. 
The poem is written by Idelette McVicker, titled
"Let us be Women Who Love"
Let us be women who love.  Let us be women willing to lay down our sword words, our sharp looks, our ignorant silence and towering stance and fill the earth with extravagant Love.  Let us be women who Love. Let us be women who make room.  Let us be women who open our arms and invite others into an honest, spacious, glorious embrace.
Let us be women who carry each other.  Let us be women who give from what we have.  Let us be women who leap to do the difficult things, the unexpected things and the necessary things.  Let us be women who live for Peace.  Let us be women who breathe Hope.  Let us be women who create beauty.  Let us be women who Love.
Let us be a sanctuary where God may dwell.  Let us be a garden for tender souls.  Let us be a table where others may feast on the goodness of God.  Let us be a womb for Life to grow.
  Let us be women who Love.
Let us rise to the questions of our time.  Let us speak to the injustices in our world.  Let us move mountains of fear and intimidation.  Let us shout down the walls that separate and divide.  Let us fill the earth with the fragrance of Love.  Let us be women who Love. 
Let us listen for those who have been silenced.  Let us honour those who have been devalued,  Let us say, Enough! with abuse, abandonment, diminishing and hiding.  Let us not rest until every person is free and equal.  Let us be women who Love. 
Let us be women who are savvy, smart and wise.  Let us be women who shine with the light of God in us,  Let us be women who take courage and sing the song in our hearts,  Let us be women who say, Yes to the beautiful, unique purpose seeded in our souls.  Let us be women who call out the song in another's heart.  Let us be women who teach our children to do the same. 
Let us be women who Love.
Let us be women who Love in spite of fear.  Let us be women who Love, in spite of our stories.  Let us be women who Love loudly, beautifully, Divinely.  Let us be women who Love.
Poetry surrounding.  When I read the words above they seeped in as encouragement.  Spurring me on.  Challenging me.  Infiltrating my senses.  And the word that plays on repeat, Love.  Not the lower case version of the word, the real deal.  Love.  I substituted a "let me be a woman" to personalize the poem when I read it a second and third time.  Much like I do with scripture.  So it penetrates to the depths of my heart.  And the part about us being "women who teach our children to do the same", well let's just say that about did me in.  Yes, let us.  With everything I say and do let me teach them that.  To love, and love well.  For real. 
As if that wasn't more than enough, a few nights ago, as Husband Jared and I were playing cards around the table, Thing 3 was baking some chocolate concoction in the kitchen, Thing 4 was sipping his hot chocolate and Thing 2 was reading, Thing 1 shared a poem she had written for her Humanities class.  Styled after William Blake.  I have permission to share her words here as well.  They moved me.  I believe they came from her soul.  Spilled on the page.  Vulnerable and real.  For her, like me, the written word is a medium to unlock the mysteries.  More poetry for you, by Thing 1.

How joyful can one be
When night soon approaches thee
With silence and beauty
The world slips blissfully
Lights go out, streets become calm
The city a quiet speck dreaming in earth’s palm
Beauty so dark has overcome
Only a soul awake in this solemn slum
She looks up to the stars for light and wisdom
She wonders when she will ever feel freedom
She sees the fluorescent colors begin to rise
What the day ahead holds is but a surprise
May these words bring inspiration to your day, a new thought to ponder, maybe a mystery unlocked or a passion ignited.  I'll choose to use them as a reminder that not only was I created as poem, but each and everyone that I encounter today was as well.  So with that in mind, "Let me be a woman who Loves". 

Thankful Thursday

A little strawberry cake ain't never hurt nobody!
5052.  6 more sleeps until our get away
5053. 3 more sleeps until my birthday
5054. conquering a fear of the unknown
5055. the Holy Spirit
5056. new books to read, love!
5057. before and after orthodontia photos of Thing 2
5058. dreams 
5059. new episodes of a favorite show
5060. sparkly snow
5061. poetry that inspires

Still Winter

Yet another post being typed at my desk looking out at the wintry white flakes falling diagonally from the sky this morning. As I write that I am already over it.  Really.  It's only February.  There is a lot of winter to come.  That I have learned.  I know not to be too hopeful that since it has been such a frigid few months to think that the season might be over soon.  No promise of Spring arriving and hanging around come late March.  Or better yet when I return from sunny California at the beginning of March.  I allowed myself to fall into that trap last year.  When the family headed South to the ocean I preemptively believed that we would return to warmer temps here in the North.  Not so much.  Old man winter does some damage here.  There are those that love the winter; Can't imagine life without this season of whiteness.  Me, I prefer a hearty no thank you.  Give me some sunshine that actually provides warmth and is not deceptively hanging above me, only proving to bring colder temperatures. 
I could rant and rave and complain, trust me I am quite capable of following that rabbit trail.  But today is not for that.  Today is for thinking on this passage from Psalm 136:1, "Live a grateful life".  So despite the fact that it is not "Thankful Thursday", I am making a choice to walk in gratitude.  To focus on the beauty that I see outside.  Each snowflake different and contributing to the soft blanket of white that covers the sidewalks and roads and rooftops.  Thankful for the white twinkly lights that shine a bit brighter when it is grey outside.  Grateful for my Love candle flickering and spreading it's sweet aroma throughout my space.  Grateful for the fresh flowers on my desk that are a reminder that Spring is around the corner.  Maybe a distant, city block corner, but nonetheless, it will arrive.  I'll count the sleeps for mine and Husband Jared's upcoming trip together.  And I will shift my heart to being full up with joy for all that I've been given. 
Back to the weather, what can I say?  That rabbit trail is ever so tempting.  There have been 40 plus days documented with below zero temperatures here in the great white North.  I am positive that is record breaking.  At least that is what I'm told.  For the three winters now that we have lived here it seems there is some weather related anomaly.  The summer we moved up here there were scorching temps hovering around 100 degrees.  A rare phenomenon.  That winter was short, hardly any snow and we were all in shorts by St. Patty's day.  Sounds swell.  Last winter was L-O-N-G.  I mean, seriously, we were having measurable snowfall into May. When the Things had their last day of school there might have been still been snow in the parking lots and we may or may not even had a day of shorts weather yet.  So this winter and all the snow and icy road conditions and polar vortex and wild patterns are really not all that surprising.  I suppose I should have expected this.  We do live North, as in right below Canada.  It snows here, always has.  We were warned about the cold.  Only I just don't think it's humanly possible to fathom what exactly 40 below feels like.  If I said it hurt to breathe, or even smile when walking from my car into the house, that may not do it justice. 
See how that happened?  A quick digression and I strayed from that gratitude piece.  I'll bring it back around and make the connection here.  I will be grateful for my warm Omni-heat coat, that covers my bum and insulates me.  Especially love my woolly mittens that protect my fingers when I am out walking the Polo in these arctic conditions.  I would be remiss not to mention my Sorel boots that cover my toes and keep them from frostbite, they crunch through the snow and ice and allow me to be outside despite the elements.  I'll be grateful for snow tires that allow us to navigate the roads and maintain our responsibilities such as the Things' taxi drivers and work commitments.  Ooh, and hot chocolate and whip cream and marshmallows and half and half swirling in my warm coffee mug.  All those warm delights to keep me toasty while persevering through this winter.  For board games that are played and memories made while the six of us are kept inside.  And of course for the days the six of us brave the cold and sled, or cross country ski or attempt some other hair brained adventure together.  That is high on the list.  Who knew the cold could be a moment maker's opportunity provider?  Well, I guess all the people that call this place home. 
That's what we do and how we do it.  One day at a time.  Counting it all joy.  Or at least giving it our all.  Most days.  Others I can honestly say it doesn't come easily.  In fact, it makes me want to flee.  Fast.  In the night, without looking back.  Please don't tell anyone.  Too late you say?  Well alright then.  Let's call that my confession.  As if it wasn't clear enough from the outset, I do not care for old man winter.  He can wrap it up anytime he pleases.  Bring on the flip flops and sundresses and carefree days with no schedules.  First Spring though.  Bulbs popping up through the earth, butterflies flitting around, grills being dusted off and rainy days every now and then.  I'll settle for that too.  Although it wouldn't really be settling.  I'd consider it a win.  A magnificent display of glory from above.  Just as is the weather we're experiencing in the present.  Let's unwrap it and search for the beauty within.  Gratitude and all. 

I'm trying...


Because love is a verb.  An action word.  At least from my perspective.  It is also a choice.  And this wall shown above is filled with all sorts of love quotes, written by Things.  We love "Love" day around here and we celebrated yesterday altogether.  Special family dinner, presies, our love words to each other and cannolis for dessert.  Homemade I might add!  I've written almost the same post for the last two years on our love day festivities ( you can click on this link to read the one from last year) so this year I am re posting one of my favorites about the man I love. 
(From our anniversary last August 2012)
Here it is, enjoy!
Because fifteen years is a long time, because I am married to my best friend, because I believe in celebrating even the smallest things.  Even though fifteen years is not a small number, at least when it comes to marriages. 
Earlier this month Husband Jared and I had our fifteenth wedding anniversary. You have read about it on the blog recently with our trip to NOLA and the Things' anniversary dinner present.  We make the most of our special occasions and I tend to continue the celebrating for as long as possible.  So why not have one more post about the man I love. 
Our relationship, we often joke, has been quite the roller coaster.  Two undergraduate degrees, one MBA, various part time gigs, financial troubles (short version), deaths, serious vehicle collisions, countless moves, four Things in under five years, a bout with cancer (he was victorious), and not to mention all the growing up, both mentally and spiritually, together and apart,
thankfully mostly together. 
Countless other trials and victories, some small and others not so much.   All the in between.  Around the world or halfway and back again.  A few scattered states and many cities.  Here we stand, fifteen years in and I fall in love all over again.  Not just because I love him.  Because I find myself falling head over heels for him.  In new ways.  Because I choose to.  Because he continues to choose to. 

When the dishes are done after a meal cooked.  Vegetables being chopped without asking.  The late night pick ups because he knows I don't like to drive at night.  Father-son talks.  Father-daughter dates.  Fighting for time together.  Alone.  Making this relationship a priority.  Because he loves God first.  Random texts throughout the day.  Calling to see if I made it safely in the snow.  Shoveling the driveway.  Planning Amazing Race scavenger hunts for the Things.  Laughing until our sides hurt while watching the Cosby Show.  Sending me thank you text messages.  Telling me I serve our family well.  Accepting my apology and gracing me with forgiveness.  Again.  Waking early to help with lunches or make coffee just so I can have my quiet time.  Praying.  Together.  Reading his Bible to me.  Checking the oil in my vehicle.  Planning trips to the sunshine.  Because.  Love. 

So when I say I love him I do.  To the moon and back.  It is a privilege and one I don't take lightly that I fall in love with him over and over again.  In new ways and sometimes because of the old ways.  Sometimes just because I get lost in those blue eyes.  Other times because I have to choose to. 

Marriage ain't easy.  But because I was first loved I can love.  Because love letters and the fluttering in my heart mean something more than just romance.  Because holding hands in the dark and falling asleep together is real life.  Because compromising is part of it.  Because of grace.  Because of forgiveness.  Because he loves me.  Because we know how to make up.  Because we can laugh together and at each other and it's still funny.  Even after all these years.  Because we have inside jokes.  Because we have memories.  Because we have four Things.  Together.

Because WE choose to. 

Thankful Thursday

Building Big Ben on a recent "cold" day
5042. new studies from IF: Equip
5043. exciting adventures on the horizon
5044. tulips on my desk
5045. freesia on the dining room table
5046. impromptu dinner date with my man
5047. hugs from the Things when I was under the weather
5048. brightly colored coffee press 
5049. countdown to my birthday
5050. tomorrow is love day, celebration is tonight in this  house
5051. green juice, for reals!

A Birthday and a Dance, Not a Birthday Dance

Thing 1 has been seventeen for one week now.   And exactly a week ago we were gearing up to celebrate her birthday and help her and Thing 2 prepare for a winter formal dance at school.  So, if you wanted to get technical here we could say it was a "birthday dance".  The theme was roaring 20's and the girls dressed the part.  But of course.  I'm consolidating my two posts, the birthday one and the dance because it was a full day and it just seems appropriate. 
The birthday girl requested birthday breakfast since she would not be with us for a family dinner.  Chick Fil A was on the menu; infinite chicken minis were to be ordered along with hash browns and freshly squeezed orange juice.  Here are my peeps at the decorated birthday table, all waiting patiently, NOT, to devour the fried goodness before them.
Please excuse the look on Thing 4's face, I do not think he was awake just yet, maybe Thing 3 wasn't either.  Oops. 
When our plates were clean it was present time.  Husband Jared and I could hardly wait.  Thing 1 had a big surprise in the present pile.  
A new computer, not just any old lap top, a Mac Book pro air, or whatever it's called. 
Nonetheless she is not an easy one to surprise, she usually knows her presents for Christmas, birthdays and the like so the fact that we pulled this one off was the icing on the cake.  I love her expression in the photo above.  Sheer delight.  Maybe disbelief.  Either way, I'll take it.  Since we were all going different directions that night cake and ice cream were scheduled for the morning time.  Strawberry cake, cookies and cream ice cream.  Always.  She is the only one of the Things that does not change it up yearly.  I ask each year as we get closer to the big day but I know what the answer will be.  Wonder if it will stay the same when she gets older. 
Seventeen, how did that happen?
I don't know what it is but this frosting always runs right off the cake.  I just can't seem to figure out the consistency.  It was delicious, regardless of how it looks.  And those pearl candies, added by our resident baker, Thing 3.  A little bling for her sister. 
So, breakfast, presents, cake and ice cream.  Then the running began.  Thing 4 to training for footie, Thing 2 to a friend's house to have her hair done for the dance, Thing 3 left reading on the couch, in her jammies and Thing 1 and I were off for a birthday coffee, on Starbucks! 
Iced caramel macchiato, that's my girl! 
Feeling refreshed and ready to begin the process that is getting all gussied up we headed home.  There was music blaring downstairs and then without warning a beautified young lady emerged and I was speechless.  Hard to believe, maybe.  No little girl with pig tails and a skirted polo dress on, oh no, there was a young woman standing before us.  Just like that we were off once again to meet friends and Thing 2 for all the photo opps that accompany an event of this sort.  Thankfully Husband Jared and I were able to maintain our sense of humor and we stood laughing and making our girls pose for silly pictures.  It's all about the memories, right?! 

Call me what you will, the Things certainly did, but I forced them to pose like this with their imaginary dates.  They were each the only one in  their friend groups that didn't actually have a boy "date" for the dance.  I was trying to keep myself entertained as we were watching all the posed pictures for the night.  What's a Mama to do? 
This was our dance pose, what do you think? 
I know, I am one lucky woman, just look at that face!  We might have been goofy at this point, witnessing the spectacle around us. 

A Dad and his girls, well two of them at least.
Ooh la la! 
I can just hear my sweet friend Suzanne saying that in her lovely British accent. 
It sounds so much better that way. 

Quite possibly one of my favorites from the night.  Thing 1 was determined to photo bomb at least one picture of every couple that night.  See above.  Maybe she has a little bit of her Mama in her after all.  This was classic, open mouths, raised arms and two gorgeous couples, unaware. 
From here the Things allowed Husband Jared and I to accompany them to dinner.  Well, let's call it what it is, we were their meal ticket.  And we were perfectly alright with that.  I'll take any opportunity to celebrate with the birthday girl, and that we did.  No photos from dinner, all I can say is we laughed, enjoyed our meal and then watched as our two Things drove off together to dance the night away.  Bittersweet. 
Thing 1's birthday celebration continued with her and Thing 2 pirouetting across the dance floor and "partying" like it was 1999.  Oh wait, that was what I used to say.  Kids these days, they wouldn't say that.  I'm not really sure what they would say.  I do know that when Things 1 and 2 read this they will probably shake their heads and say, "Oh Mama", in a tone of pity.  Yep.  That's it.  That was the birthday and the dance recap.  Not together but kind of.  You know what I mean. 
Husband Jared and I came home and partied like it was 1999.  Except we really didn't because in 1999 we had a two year old and a one year old.  So if by partying you mean, eating dinner at 5pm, dancing to Raffi and then going to bed by 7:30pm then that is precisely what we did!  We made coffee and did our due diligence to stay awake until 11pm so that we could pick  up Thing 2 from the dance and then wait for the texts from Thing 1 so we would have confirmation that she arrived safely to her after dance destination.  Living a life of glamour and mystique over here people!  And I wouldn't trade it for the world.  I'll stop now before I cause any  more embarrassment.  Suffice to say it was a day filled with celebration and good times. 

Thankful Thursday

Bottling station at Summit Brewery

5033. birthday celebrations
5034. homemade jalapeno jelly
5035. political discussions with Thing 1
5036. watching Thing 4's decision making process
5037. art being  made
5038. friends' mamas that love the Things
5039. homemade soup for dinner
5040. book club
5041. sunny mornings
5042. reading something written by an author that puts to words what was inside my head all messy

Hello February

Hello February, welcome.  I'm offering a friendly greeting, squatting to be on your level, arms open and me shouting, run, come to me!  Yes, I'm ready for you.  You are like a warm blanket, a rush of hot air when you enter from the chilly outdoors, crossing the threshold.  The resolutions forgotten and the promises broken washed away come the first of February.  It's no longer a new beginning, we are knee deep in the year, yet you being only the second month there is hope.  A warm light beckoning.  Recognize me.  I'm not all hearts and love.  See, only twenty eight days in my month.  Shorter.  Almost like a whirlwind month.  Here today, gone tomorrow.  Enough time to redo, make nice, share some chocolate and create a new habit.  All contradictory with remembering presidents and important people and those mistreated and then bam!  Right in the middle a day for mush.  A day I celebrate.  Shortly thereafter my birthday and then before I can catch my breath the flag has been waved and the last card drawn.  Game over.  In all the best ways.

I lamented in January.  Brooded and riffed over the year before.  Planned, well attempted to at least.  Contemplated and mulled through many a memory.  Painful disappointments, roller coaster journeys and uphill battles from the year previous.  Rejoiced in serious victories and clapped my hands at the laundry list of accomplishments.  Perused titles read and reread journal entries that never quite made it to this space.  Learned many a lessons and was humbled infinite times.  To my knees mostly. So when I say bring it on to this new month, I mean it.  Sincerely.  I am ready, as I'll ever be.  You are full of promise for me and I kind of crush on you. You are my excuse to string hearts around these walls, post deep quotes about love and create special treats for my people.  Yeah, I'll take that.   

 Well,  February, I don't think you're given nearly enough credit for the promise you bring.  The tail end of winter, Hallelujah!  Pink and red and warm colors.  Cozied up and wrapped around my spirit.   Thank you for your efficiency.  For not needing thirty one days to make good.  For being sure enough in your six hundred seventy two hours.  Let's do this.

Seventeen Today

Everyone says it and I'm sure I do as well, but it seems as though we went from this
to this in the blink of an eye.
And we did.  My word, from the very moment I knew you were growing inside of me the world has not stopped spinning.  In the very best way and because of the miracle you are. 
So for you Thing 1 on this seventeenth birthday I'll share a few tidbits of life with you lately in order to celebrate you to the fullest. 
You are you.  Confident and strong.  Passionate about God and your relationship with Him.  His will in your life is being unfolded everyday and the privilege I have to watch that is one I am grateful for.  As I reflect on the last year I can not help but lift my hands in praise.  To hear you say on New Year's day a few short weeks ago that one of your words for 2013 was "knowledgeable" because of what you learned about yourself was nothing short of praise worthy for this Mama.  Your humor continues to bring a smile to my face and those around you.  Dry, brutally honest and matter of fact, your intent is not always easy to decipher.  Only because you say what you mean and mean what you say...Always.  And for some that is puzzling.  For me, I appreciate your no nonsense approach.  There isn't too much grey area for you. 
Let's see, you begin working at Dairy Queen and seeing you come home covered in ice-cream has been fun.  Life lessons have been learned.  Wink-wink. This school year brought many leadership opportunities as well.  You became a D-group leader at church for seventh grade girls, helped began a Bible study at school and have been participating in the 430 group at Church and the Barnabas ministry as well.  Colleges inundate our mailbox with literature daily and what's next is still unknown.  That is OK.  The camera is still hung around your neck on every family adventure and celebration and canvases have become a new medium for you.  Covering your walls and showing your artistic nature and desire to create.   
I am thankful for the daughter that you are.  The sister and friend you are to your siblings. The carpool driver, thank you for getting your license!  And mostly thankful that I was chosen to be your Mama.  What an honor.  The winding road of the mother daughter relationship is ever changing, please remember my love runs deep for you child.  And with each new turn we'll learn to navigate together the path before us.  I love you Thing 1. You are my sunshine!