Friday, August 31, 2012

Faithful Friday: Seasons

This weekend marks the celebratory close of summer.  Earth seems to know the calendar, as the signs of fall have been slowly appearing.  Leaves are beginning to change, gardens are fading, flowers and plants aren't as lush and bright as earlier in the season.

Seasons are inevitable.  Both in landscapes and in life, there is an ebb and flow. The only thing that stays the same is that everything changes.

 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”  - Genesis 8:22

I've reminded Tim he's in a season right now.  Just about time for winter, he should be healed.  His spring will just come early.  Now is his time to shed the pain, like falling leaves, retreat, and heal.  Just as a brittle tree braces through the winter winds, seemingly lifeless, green soon emerges.  My sturdy oak will survive this and come out stronger on the other side.  It's just a season.
One of my sweet volunteers uses the expression as well, while talking with women facing cancer.  As they share with her their concerns in losing their hair, she wraps them in a hug and reminds them that "this too shall pass."  And then she helps them embrace the change by finding just the perfect wig that helps that woman remember she's beautiful.

Grief has seasons too.  I remember all too well our cold, barren winter after losing Austin.  Fitting that the earth's season matched at the time, though its spring came much quicker than our own.  Healing from such a loss comes in slow steps.  Gradual.  There is no pretty timeline.  And even when you feel you've reached the end, a memory or moment can drag you back to the lonely and coldest season of the year.  You survive because you know spring will once again arrive, in time.

For everything there is a season...but God's promise is that no matter what season we may find ourselves in, He is always there.  That promise is a constant, regardless of the changes that may come our way.  Knowing this is how I can find joy, even in the longest of most difficult seasons of life.

For whatever season you are facing today, hold onto to the hope in knowing a new season will arrive. 
In time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday Tidbits

I'm sure Tim would adamantly disagree but time, when you're caring for someone, often rushes by.  Between caring for, keeping company, cleaning, cooking and keeping track of his medicine schedule, the hours in a day don't seem to stick around long.

Whenever I catch him napping, that's my opportunity to get household needs done.  It doesn't take much to scare me when it comes to infection, with our history, so I'm extra OCD in cleaning any area Tim may be.  And yes, I vacuum and sanitize his recliner regularly.  Today will be spent doing an extra scrub, as the dressing comes off tomorrow.  Knowing his wound will be "somewhat exposed" just adds to my anxiety.

I try to get my busy list done while he's at rest, so that when he's awake, we can spend time together.  Distraction conquers boredom. 

Yesterday his pain subsided long enough to set him up at the dining room table for a quick game of Sequence.  His restlessness and shifting reminded me of the 30 minute rule so we never got to break our tie.  Maybe today.

He felt well enough (or pretended at least) to allow us to get out and drop the kids off at church.   Thankfully the bus offered to deliver them to our door later that evening.  They enjoyed having a break to go watch back to back soccer games and stop for an Island Burger and shake.  I could tell Tim was pining for cheese balls but knew the drive would be way more than he could handle.  Future road trip tucked away.

Tim was worried about the drink machines at the station and I appeased him with a stop so that I could restock.  Lugging those cases and scrubbing the kitchen floor counted as my exercise for the day!  Though I'd hoped a firefighter would happen by while we were there, the parking lot remained empty.  I know he misses them.

Later that evening, the heat seemed to diminish and a painted sky called us from the house.  Walking is good for him, as his pain permits.  We shuffled softly, in pjs and house shoes, along the front of our driveway.  Hand in hand we lazily walked with the doggies, enjoying the close of the day.

Sequence and an afternoon stroll.  Simple.  Sweet.  Joyful.
And grateful to do it again today.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Be Still

Tim's surgery was a success.  We checked into the hospital a little after 6:00 am and were on our way home before noon.  Miracles of modern medicine...

The most difficult part of our healing journey now will be keeping Tim still and allowing his body to rest.  No work for at least a month.  Period.  Even though he gently argued and attempted to persuade the doctor and nurse.  No bending. twisting or lifting more than a gallon of milk.  No sitting in a chair for more than 30 minutes at a time.  Like a child, all Tim hears is, "No! No! No!"

My husband is not a man who stays still very long.  Just keeping him through a movie is an accomplishment and normally only happens at the end of a very long day or a torrential downpour.  He feels like he's being lazy if still for any length of time.  And he most certainly does not like to ask for help.  This is not a good mixture for someone who's basically been put on bed rest.

We're only Day 2 Post Op and I can already see the anxiety settling in.  He doesn't say much, except that "this is the hardest part" and every now and again I'll catch him sigh.  He's allowed to walk, and I'd take him out to enjoy the weather, but most of the time his pain doesn't ease long enough to allow it.  About the only time he finds peace is when he is still.

So I find myself being his cheerleader.  His motivator.  Coach.  And I realize we've come full circle.

Back several years ago, after our motorcycle wreck, this was his role for me.  Out of ICU but still in a hospital bed, the nurse had wheeled him into my room for a visit.  Though I'd kept a brave face for over a week, having the comfort of my husband at my side allowed me to release.  I thought about the weeks and months ahead and didn't know if I'd have the strength, the faith, or the ability to get through it all.  But he pulled me right back into focus.  He allowed me to cry but reminded me I had to keep going and he pushed me gently.  Then other days he pushed me hard. 

Though I had many by my side in the beginning, eventually everyone had to go back to their own lives and jobs.  Tim went back to work.  I was left with lots and lots of time.  Alone.  At least 8-9 hours every day, until the kids were home from school.  Hours creep by when you're alone and restrained to a bed.  Television can only pass so much time.  Your body aches from being still, yet moving hurts more.

But solitary is good for the soul, if you welcome it.  For me, it was a chance for one on one time with God.  My relationship with Him grew closer and stronger than ever before.  I read my Bible more in that time period than sadly I'd done my entire life.  And although it was a difficult journey, I look back on it now as a blessing.  That time strengthened me, it solidified my faith, and built character I would need later in life. 

I'm not saying that's the reason for what Tim is enduring now.  We've both, without a doubt, climbed our share of mountains and crawled through the valleys.  I would say he deserves mostly plateaus for the rest of his life!  Sometimes pause buttons in this life are just that.  Just a time to Be Still.  (Psalm 46:10)

Going through my journal from that time I came across this and plan to share it with Tim.  Maybe you need a dose "stillness" in life right now too....and maybe this will bless you as it did when I reflected on it then, as much as it does for me now.

Don't let God give you a speeding ticket. Slow down.
Make the most out of life.
Look at more sunrises.
Find joy in every day.
Never go to bed angry. You might not get a second chance to make up.
Trust God. He always gives you the strength you think you don't have.
Laugh. A Lot. It makes any bad day seem a little better.
Answer every question when your child asks, "Why."
Try something new every time you go out to eat. Order dessert first.
Don't take the little things for granted.
Write what you want to say to someone when you are mad.
Then throw it away.
Send cards to people who don't expect them.
A crisis brings out the best – and worst – in people.

That one line above just got to me. 

I wrote the passage in September 2008, taking bits and pieces of "lessons learned" and inspirations I had read.  They meant something to me because of what I'd been through.  Never would I have imagined I'd need to pull on that strength and lessons just two short months later. 

And thinking back now to that little whisper of "finding joy in every day" that came to me with the start of this blog.  Wow. God. Moment.

Sometimes we don't know the reasons for the pause.  Sometimes we realize them years later.  Either way, whatever trials we face in this life can be survived when you know who holds your hand along the journey.  ...And when you know what's waiting at the end.

Praying for peace, healing and stillness for my sweet hubby.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Joy in the Sky

It was an easy choice to set up my space by the large, three panel window in the hotel.  The cushy lounge chair was much more appealing than a stuffy, boring brown desk.  Besides, I prefer a pillow to hold my laptop any day over wood. 

And who could resist sunshine, airplanes, and a free fish to keep me company?

Having traveled to Nashville a day earlier than planned, it meant I would spend extra time alone in the hotel.  Tim's work conference "magically" worked out to be the same week as his surgery consult.  One might think it a nice coincidence that the day before our early am doctor appointment, he was needed in Nashville for work, which allowed us to stay the night.  I tend to believe in a higher power though and know that it's just another sign of God's continual watch care over us.

...Like the happy little check that appeared in our mailbox days before this unexpected trip, a payment from an accident policy that had happened months before.  Who knew Noah's broken finger would end up being a blessing?  We've joked with him that we didn't realize what assets his digits would be, but he's not too willing to repeat the process just to help our pocketbook!

The downtime had perks and low points.  It gave me quiet to get a few things accomplished, yet it also was an open invitation to sit and worry about Tim's appointment.  Whenever worry would peek it's ugly head in, I'd counter it with prayers and a glance out the window. 

This hotel literally sat at the end of the airport runway, so plane gazing was an easy and free activity.  I found myself daydreaming about the passengers in the giant vessels as they flew overhead.  Was it someone's first flight?  Honeymooners?  What exotic location was that plane's destination? 

Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a smaller figure soaring down the runway.  It was playing with the planes, following the same path, wings spread wide.  Flying the length of road with strong and graceful movements, it would break at the end to loop and dive, almost as if showing off to the planes.  I found myself laughing at the sight of this eagle; as much for the playful spirit that it seemed to have, but also because of what (and who) it symbolized. 

this photo doesn't do it justice, as it couldn't zoom, but the wing span was enormous was the joy it brought me

Arriving at just the needed moment to remind me that God has Tim in His hands and - as he always does - He's caring for us. 

Anytime I get a "hello" from Austin, I'm instantly settled, peace-filled.  In this instance, I had to believe it was Austin's way of letting us know all would be ok.  And it was.  Yesterday was God-sent.  From the moment we walked into the office, my burdens seemed lifted.  The kind and gentle face of the doctor immediately put me at ease.  He took his time with us, answered our questions, and best of all, said he could help.  To our great surprise, we learned that help would arrive much quicker than either of us expected. 

"How's this Friday?" the nurse asked at the close of our visit.

As in two days?! I head reeling, hand on my Iphone to see what our schedules said.  Tim answered before I even had a chance to pull up the calendar with an enthusiastic, "Sounds great!"  At that point, it didn't matter what our To-Do lists contained, my hubby needed relief and yet another gift from above sent us an opening.  A patient had cancelled that same morning, giving us an immediate spot, instead of waiting weeks.  I smiled, thinking of my special eagle. 

While we still have a ways into this journey, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Tomorrow is sure to be a long day, but we're going in prayerful and hopeful that the end of this season of pain is drawing near. 

Knowing how early we'll depart and the hours on the road, it's doubtful a Faithful Friday post will come your way.  I'll leave you with a scripture that's been comforting to my heart during this time. 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  - Romans 8:28

...Thank you all for your sweet and loving comments and prayers!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Holding onto Hope

There was the smallest of gestures in our pew today that almost brought me to tears.  Noah grabbed my hand, then his dad's, and connected our three hands on his lap.  In an instant I was brought back nearly four years, to the beginning of our grief journey, shortly after losing Austin.

It was something Noah did often then; grab both his parents hands and force us to lock, placing his between and around.  Solidity.  Strength.  A Family Bond.

Tim and I didn't necessarily drift apart in the loss, and in many ways it brought us closer, but there were walls, rawness, tangible pain.  In the beginning all of us walked on an endless road of eggshells, never quite knowing where to land, wondering if a misstep would cause us all to fall.  Though we tried to put on a good front, even a child of eight could sense the weakness.

In every opportunity he could, Noah pushed us together.  Silently, but the unspoken need shouted to us.  STAY TOGETHER.  BE STRONG.  LOVE ONE ANOTHER.  Once easily grossed out at signs of affection, he worked then to cause them.  Looking back now, I can see he was just trying to hold on to what was left of our family.

There's a statistic I read more than once while pouring over books on grief and spiritual help.  The divorce rate for parents of child loss is staggeringly high.  It scared me because I could see how easily one could just throw it in, give up, walk away.  When life as you knew and loved it ceased to exist and crumble around you, would you be strong enough to piece it back together?  Crazily it's something I recall even as far back as the night Austin passed.

Tim and I were at his side in the ER, chaos swirling, my heart pleading for time to just stop.  It was over and the room was cleared except for us.  Our sweet boy, hair of jet black, seemingly sleeping beside us. Our firstborn was gone and pieces of me would forever go with him.  My world was slipping, beyond my control.  I grabbed Tim up, placing my hands on his either side of his face, locking eyes.  We were close enough to kiss - and I'm not sure why I needed him in that position - but I needed our eyes to connect, our souls to listen. 

"This cannot break us."

Silence was deafening.  I will never forget that deep, sorrowful pain in my husband's eyes. 

"Tim, this cannot break us.  Promise me," I repeated, knowing the simple word of promise would speak volumes to him.  He nodded.  We sobbed into each other, time no longer a concern.  Letting go and holding on. 

The past three and a half years have been a rollercoaster, filled with days of uncertaintity, tears, prayers, and hope.  The constant has been that the three of us have never given up.  Even on days we maybe wanted to. We've held on to each other - and to God.

What's amazing to me is the role Noah has intentionally played.  So many days I pulled myself up and on - for him.  Never would I have imagined though the work he would do, like the soft gesture of placing our hands together all those days ago in the pew.

That symbol today, of a family united, was a breathtaking moment, an unplanned trip through tortured memories, and a sign of how far we've come.  While we'll forever have a hole from Austin's leaving, the gap is continually filled with our family's and our Father's love.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Faithful Friday: Big Lil Sis

My little sister is all grown up.

It's not like this just dawned on me; I mean she has a child of her own in kindergarten now, but lately I've just realized it more.  Probably because I've needed her more than usual lately.  Each time she steps in to help me, juggling three babies, a new marriage and going back to school, I'm amazed and thankful she's in my life.

She's been there several times through our latest medical ordeal with Tim.  Whether it's been to take care of my kiddos, run an errand, or even babysit my hubby, she never hesitates to come to my aid.  In coming weeks, as we visit potential surgeons, she'll be there big time to watch over our home, kids and doggies.  All this plus taking care of her own household. 

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:2

I texted her the other day "you're a lifesaver" and she quickly responded, "No, I'm a sister and it's what we do!"  Today she asked me for a small favor and I wish I'd remembered this response, as she shoved money in my hand for gas.  Perhaps I'll tuck it on a post-it note with the cash when I sneak it back to her?!

Truly, it is a joy to know that you have family to count on.  Those who are always there, no matter the hour or the request.  And while I'm blessed beyond measure to have my little sister, who's taken care of me more than I am her these days, I'm also grateful for other "sisters" who never hesitate to share my burdens. 

You know who you are and I'm sending much love to each of you this Faithful Friday...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Joy Fed

You know you're  a true member of the church, when you cook more for them than your own family.  When your pantry is stuffed with aluminum pans and potluck go-to staples.  When you search Pinterest specifically with the next church meal in mind.

My husband jokes the only time he gets a good meal is when company comes over.  Now he's just as excited when he sees I'm cooking for a potluck.  And I kid him that one of the main reasons he wanted to join our church is because of all the yummy food they have. 

Last week I added to my culinary to-do list by signing my name to the church bulletin board.  With so many families experiencing illness and loss, they've started a group that is willing to cook whenever a need arises.  Recalling how helpful that's been to us in the past, and given how much I enjoy cooking, it was a natural fit.

From experience, I've learned to make double batches though.  If I'm cooking and my family can't try it, they get a little upset.  And I must admit, it's hard to smell something baking and know you can't eat it when it's done.  Plus, it's just as easy to make two dishes as it is one.

Cooking for others is my love language.  It's how I show I care.  When I want to make my family feel special, I cook a meal or dessert I know they'll like.  Holidays and get-togethers are frequently at our home because planning and cooking for a crowd brings me joy.  If I hear of someone not feeling well or suffering a loss, bringing them a meal is something I can do to offer comfort.  And if I know of a certain recipe that brings someone else joy, I'm excited to make it for them as a gift, a surprise, or just because.

I've done a lot of cooking this past week.  Some due to loss, some for togetherness.  In every dish, as I scoop, stir and bake, I'm sprinkling in love.  My hope is that it relieves stress, brings comfort, or lets them know someone cares. 
I was amazed this morning that the sermon was about "feeding the flock." Our pastor gave many examples of how we need to feed our family and neighbors with the love of Jesus.  He shared how we should feed our children with life, with love, and with learning.  And to then lead them to feed others.  It was a sweet ending to a week of feeding others and it reminded me of the other ways I can nourish them. 

How can you feed someone this week?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Faithful Friday: Rest for the Weary

My husband is stubbornly stubborn.  At least when it comes to sitting still.  My most difficult task in being his nurse is keeping him at rest. Though we're only a few weeks into what I know will be a lengthy healing process, I'm at the point of seeking prayers for myself more than him!  Joking....but it really is a stressful job to keep an active, easily bored, injured hubby at bay. 

I'm realizing now it was easiest when he was in the hospital.  Perhaps I need to borrow an IV pole and strap him down?  I know he's frustrated.  Tired of hurting but more than anything feeling guilty about everything he can't do.  One of the reasons I love Tim (and what sometimes frustrates me most) is that he is a giver.  He likes to help others and enjoys staying busy.  Explains why he has such a love for firefighting.

He has at least put down the pager and is not responding.  I think he knows himself too well and that he wouldn't be able to NOT help if he saw someone in need.  For this I am thankful, even though I know it is driving him crazy.

Last night, after a quick run to church to deliver a meal, we came home to find him in the garden.  Actually my first clue was that the front flower bed was wet.  It didn't take me long to trace the water hose to hubby.  Tina was bouncing ahead of me, finger swaying, "Timmy! You know better than to be out here," as if scolding a child.  Instantly the kids were at his side, gently pushing him back up the deck and asking for assignments.  They weeded (as well as teens will) and staked up our sagging tomatoes, fed the birds and watered the rest of the plants.  I could see Tim chomping at the bit though to get back out there.  I know he never does anything halfway though and his back didn't need him to be twisting, pulling, bending or weeding!

I tried to distract him with the amazing weather and sunset.  It really was a beautiful summer night.  We've had so few gentle summer nights to enjoy this year.  And I reminded him that in every trial we face, there's always a message or lesson to learn.  As someone who never rests, even on vacation, perhaps this is God's way of getting him to slow down.  Weeds have their place in this world too.  Flowers will eventually fade and tomato plants will die.  It will be ok if some things just don't get done right now. 
...Now, if only I can convince him of this.

While researching for this post, I was surprised to learn that "no rest for the weary" stems from the Bible (Matthew 11:28-30).   So, next time hubby sighs and uses this phrase as his excuse for why he won't sit still, I'll read the above scripture and the one below to him (and myself)!

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you,
and I will give you rest.”  - Exodus 33:14

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

School Spirit

The first day of school has come and gone.  My plan to ease the kiddos into early mornings seemed to work, as wake-up call was a success.

Even though they spent the summer sleeping until noon, they both perked up and out of bed with ease.  The best surprise was that they both got up on the right side of bed, as attitudes were pleasant. 

This is a rare treat with teenagers. 

As we headed out to the front tree for our annual first day photo, I thought to myself, "this year may be easy-peasy"...

Well, not so much.  But it was funny.

Instead of the "please no more pictures!" and "are we done yets"
I got a full on fashion show. 
It was rather difficult to keep my camera steady for laughing so hard.
At least I managed to get one good pose.

Tina doesn't really take a bad picture but I did capture a few funnies.

My favorite part though was then they got together and posed.

They were giggly.
They were loving.
They were down right silly.

Maybe they were excited for school to begin.
Yet, in the afternoon (ahem, evening) when they finaly made it home on the bus,
the love fest continued. Even though they'd suffered a hot and hungry two hour ride to make it home, in a downtown neighborhood a mere miles from school, 
joy was present. 

They whispered, laughed, and helped each other with chores.
They wanted to tell each other about their day more than tell us.
Tim and I kept pinching ourselves.

Will this continue?
Who can really say.
But I soaked it up just in case it doesn't.
And...I have pictures to prove it did.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Q Crazy

Have you seen the extreme coupon shows on TV?  Well, once a upon a time, that was me.  Sorta.  I never was excessive, like most of the people featured on those shows, but I did stockpile.  Even had a nifty binder to prove it.  Still do, it's just empty.  For now.

I was always a kind Q-er, never depleting the shelves, just so I could have 50 bottles of shampoo.  I spent the time deal-scouring and coupon clipping to save my family money.  And I helped people in need.  Being married to a firefighter, there were so many times we'd see a family lose everything.  Having a stockpile allowed me to put together care packages for them.  Or to let other family members "shop" at my house for free.

Over time I just phased out of it.  I still enjoyed a good deal when I found it but I no longer spent hours cutting and sorting coupons.  For a long time, we just lived off the bulk I had stored under all of our beds.  Then, bit by bit, I found myself adding deodorant, or razors, or toothpaste to my shopping list.  At first it bothered me, knowing if I spent a little time I could get it for free.  But the busyness of life trumped spending the hours it took to coupon.  Instead, I occasionally pricematched and picked the lowest prices on the shelves.  And we saved in other ways to make up for it.

Sometimes it takes a a kick in the pants to change things.  Tim's upcoming surgery has been my kick. 

This weekend, being one of the biggest shopping trips of the year for us because of school, sparked my savvy skills to go into full blown savings mode.  And save I did!  If it wasn't on sale, it didn't go in my cart.  I even passed up finishing off the kid's supply list because I knew paper would go cheaper.  Sunday I was happy to see .25 cent packs.  Supply list done - under $25 total - check.

Yesterday I spent nearly two hours comparing sales ads and writing out a best price list to match at Wal-Mart.  With my binder empty and the Qs on low supply in the paper this week, that was my only choice to save at the grocery.  But, free coffee, shampoo, yogurt, and $3 frozen pizzas later, I was very joyful with what I shaved off my price tag.  Sorry to the friend who got stuck behind me in line though!

It will take some time but finding a great deal and knowing it's helping my family's bottom line, is worth it.  When the space under our beds is filled with more than dust bunnies, I'll feel a sense of success.  And when hubby is bored from the doctor-ordered rest, I'll hand him a pair of scissors to help.

What are ways you save your family money?  Are you crazy over coupons...or scared of how to start saving? 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Faithful Friday: School Days

Summer may not officially end until September but schedules and routines are quickly approaching.  This is our last long weekend before the school bell rings.  Although I took a vacation day, it's not been to relax; it's operation back to school in this house!

As of Tuesday, alarms will be set an hour earlier and the big yellow bus will once again be seen in the neighborhood.  We've been knee deep in pencils, notebooks, and binders, (after I scoured the best deals online of course!).  It's seriously amusing how happy it makes me to find packs of mechanical pencils for .29 cents.  And how giddy I get sorting it all out, Sharpie in hand, to organize everything.

Today was spent shopping with my baby boy, who is unbelievably a big 7th grader this year.  Actually he could easily pass for a high schooler but it's hard to let him grow.  Last night we went on a tour at the middle school so he could meet his new teachers.  He's pretty excited about many of teachers and most of his classes, especially pre-algebra and science.  Well, that and the sea of new girls he gets to swim through in between those classes!

I enjoyed my last Mom & Noah day of the summer.  It was filled with sushi and shopping, music and laughter.  Two of the highlights of the day were the giant smile on his face, after finding the most awesome pair of shoes, and the even giant-er hug I got at the end, thanking me.  I love that he still enjoys hanging out with mom and that made hours of fighting crowds, long lines and deal finding all worth it.

There are so many wishes and dreams I have for Noah, as he begins this new chapter in his young life.  May he be challenged and excel academically.  May he have many friends but also be a friend to many.  May he find comfort in his ever-growing and changing self.  Most of all, may his character improve more than his GPA. 

While I want Noah to do well in school, the lessons he learns for life are far more important to me than if he memorizes and aces a test.  My wish is that he'll give as much time learning about God as he does studying the periodic table or algebraic equations.  May he spend as many moments in prayer as he does texting.  May one of the many books on his night stand continue to be the Bible.  More than anything, my dream for him is that the foundation of faith we've instilled remain in tact during these tumultuous teenage years. And may he have a blessed school year filled with JOY!

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  - Deuteronomy 6:7

Thursday, August 2, 2012

There's Always Joy...

My head has been a jumbled mess of random thoughts, worries, lists, schedules and planning.  To say it's affecting my mood and sleep schedule is an understatement.  Every time I find myself at a loss, scared, or uncertain, I try to stop and give it to God.  I reflect on friends who are going through much more difficult trials right now.  I think back to nearly four years ago and remember how we survived the worst moments and months of our life.  What we're going through now is a season, this I know.  This too shall pass.

And I find myself gravitating to anything joyful.  Soaking up each sunshiney morsel, as if my soul were a sponge.  Making the most of everyday, simple joys.

When I can't sleep, I wrap my arms around my resting husband, thankful he's beside me.

I recall sweet surprises from this week...

A visit from the littles.  My niece and nephew.  It's impossible not to smile around them.

Yellow candy.  My second office stockpiled them for me.  Just because.

Giant cupcakes from Barb's my hubby bought as a thank you to me,
on a day when the proceeds went to a lady in need.

Flowers delivered to my hubby.
Just the idea of a delivery
 (because they called to make sure he was home) was special.
He was like a little kid waiting for a knock on the door.
...another blessing from our church family!

My spiffy new seasoning rack, thanks to my mom and stepdad.
Timely for all the home-cooked meals I'm pampering Tim with.

Random texts from friends, seemingly at the exact moment I need a lift.
"Just checking on you..."
"We need to do lunch!"
"I'm praying for you..."

I revel in summer wonders that can only be seen at certain hours...

Like late at night -
The beautiful first full moon of August.
                                                    Shared on Facebook by
Laura Daugherty

And early in the day -

Morning glories that have snaked their way from the front of the house,
all the way around to the back.
And the added surprise of a bird's nest inside!

I'm hugged at the sight of Austin's tree in full bloom.

And how just being in the presence of God's creations brings an immediate sense of peace.

Soaking it joyful morsel at a time.

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