Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015 Rewind

Every year on January 1st, I make black-eyed peas.  And every single year, I'm the only one who eats them.  Some years I manage to get the family to choke down one fork full.  This year, I'm excited to try a new recipe.  

I've been rethinking our menu anyway, since our traditions need to be tweaked a tad.  Normally, on NYE we lounge around, eat appetizers, watch movies and ring in the new year.  This year, as both my men will be working, we'll have to celebrate the day after.  

So, I have decided to transform new year staples of black-eyed peas and cabbage into appetizers.  This morning, while watching GMA, Trisha Yearwood showed a yummy dip using the peas that she claims even the biggest critic will enjoy.  It's topped with cheese.  As my guys think cheese is a food group, I'm convinced it is a win.  And for the cabbage, I'm going to try my hand at homemade egg rolls.  I know they won't compare to my Aunt Sandy's, but I am up for the challenge.

While I'm already thinking of the first day of the year, I have also been reminiscing on the past twelve months.  2015 was filled with unexpected events, a year of great changes within our family.  Come along with me as I recap and look back on the past year.


January 2015 - the birthday month for both Noah and me.  This year, we surprised him and in the midst of it found a sweet hello from his big brother.  I set my word of the year as SOAR, though I'm not sure we took off as I envisioned.

February - This month would see changes in how I cared for my family's health forever, as I began using doTERRA essential oils.  Over this year, I've continually been amazed at their power and am so grateful to God for the gifts he provides to the earth - and for leading me this direction.  

March - I was especially grateful to see spring arrive, after the winter we had.  Sixteen years of being spoiled with snow days found me knee deep in reality - wet icky snow!  I had to learn to not just drive around on it but walk through it while doing home visits.  Coming home to a warm meal was a little easier though, due to a grandma contraption we purchased.  

April - We enjoyed a mini vacation in Nashville, let the kids experience the Grand Ole Opry, and Noah discovered a love for hot peppers.  Our home saw a big change as 15 year old, worn and ugly green carpet was replaced with plush and fluffy flooring.  

May - As school came to a close and summer began more changes occurred in our home.  Noah, at only 15 would secure a job.  It has become such a blessing for him, allowing him to be in the kitchen, (a passion he loves) and is shaping his character.  In the midst of turmoil within our family, God revealed an answered prayer I'd whispered for years.  

June - SOAR would come back to haunt me, as I flail off a set of steps.  Actually they disintegrated beneath me and flung me into the yard, breaking a rib.  Essential oils would once again come to the rescue, healing me in record time.  And an impromptu silly post would become a reader's favorite.  Who knew?!

July - Injuries would continue, as my hubby hurt his leg.  At first we were told he broke his fibula.  Thankfully it turned out to just be a bad tweak.  We hobbled and wobbled into our anniversary and created a staycation to celebrate at home.  Austin's 21st birthday  - a day filled with bittersweet tears and a beautiful remembrance from his brother.

August - A new roof and a prayer this one lasts longer than the one we put on just a few years prior.  God sends me just the needed message at 2 am.  And I had a goosebump hug from above from Tim's mom that was heaven-sent in timing.

September - After a stressful summer, I gladly welcomed fall with open arms, high up in the sky.  Our family participated in Operation Inasmuch with our church and I had the honor to see God's plan from start to finish.  And I learned that although I'm busy at work, with frequent up/downs, in/outs, I really don't take the necessary steps.  Something to work on for 2016!

October - Noah and I checked off a food bucket list by attending our first Nut Club Festival.  And the three of us enjoy our first vacation together in four years at a tiny schoolhouse.

November - a cloudy month for us, darkened even a bit more by watching someone we love struggle with deep depression.  But true to tradition, our acts of kindness to remember Austin would send just the needed help for our hearts.  On the cusp of Thanksgiving, I'm filled with gratitude for the blessing of two amazing sons.  

December - And here we are again.  A new job for Tim.  And a month of upside-down traditions, but a reminder that no matter how Christmas finds you, He is ever-present.

At times 2015 felt like more lows, than a year full of soaring.  Looking up the meaning of the word this morning though, I'm drawn to this one...

to fly without power

The year had dips, swings and unexpected paths, but throughout 2015 we most definitely were carried by His great power.  May I remember that wherever life's journey takes us we will always be soaring because we're beneath God's mighty wings.  

Prayers that JOY, peace and strength find you in the New Year!


Friday, December 25, 2015

Seasonal Sentiments

If you're bone-tired from a day filled with festivities this Christmas, count your blessings, momma.  If you're home is a wreck and wrapping paper still litters your floor, look at it lovingly and smile.  And if your babies are drifting off to dreamland after a day of joy, linger a bit in their doorway tonight.  Kiss them extra tonight and tuck this memory away.

Soak it up, for it so quickly fades.

From a momma who remembers those moments misty-eyed, Christmas changes as they grow.

Our little house has felt extra big the past few days.  Just the three of us, Noah on the heels of sixteen.  Holiday plans spread out through the course of several days so no big crowds to go and see today.

The magic of the season is somewhat harder to hold, when the mystery has gone.  No more platters of cookies left for Santa.  Early morning squeals replaced with sleeping in.

Even Noah has realized this.  Our past three holidays, he's commented how different things feel.

"It just doesn't seem like"....  he will say as each one falls on the calendar.

The other night in the car he shared, "I guess it's because I'm growing up."

And this momma had to work extra hard to choke back the tears that followed.

Change is inevitable.  You can't bottle the little and push pause on life.  Babies grow.  And some leave this world too soon.  Futures envisioned don't always arrive the way you imagined.

Being a mom big on tradition, the changes have been difficult to swallow this year.  As I write, alone in this big bed, it dawns on me I've never spent a Christmas night apart from my husband.  But jobs change and duty calls.

Today wasn't anything like usual.  Instead of a big country breakfast from years past, I had a donut stick from my stocking.  We visited Tim's side of the family, which was nice, but I still missed mine.  I imagined June smiling down, seeing all her boys together though.  Instead of lingering for a visit, we returned quickly home so Tim could sleep a bit before work.

It was a treat that our nephew came back with us and hung with Noah all evening.  They played pool and Xbox, as if they were little again.  He leaves for basic training Sunday, so I'm extra grateful for the time they shared.  The cousins then all went out for a movie, leaving me home alone.  I decided to clean and nap with my sleeping hubby.  We then shared leftover pizza for our Christmas dinner.

Anything but normal.  Yet, it is where we are at this time in our lives.  Life finds you at various stages.  Some you expect, some come as a surprise.  And some surprise you even though they should be expected.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:19

Not our typical Christmas but thankful still.  We have each other, our health, a warm roof over our heads, and most importantly the joy of the Lord in our hearts!





Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Displaced Christmas

This has been the most disorganized-fly by the seat of my pants-wait until the last minute-procrastinating Christmas season I've ever experienced.

And that is so. not. me.

Normally, by this time I would have everything checked off, completed and under the tree.  Meals prepped, planned and done in batches.  Traditions accomplished in a beautiful timeline.  Decorations fully out in November.

Not so much this year.

It began with the decorations.  Though a nice gesture last year, my hubby surprising me one evening and letting the kids put everything away did not result in the happiest of endings.  My fears of chaos ensued when this year, even after multiple trips to the shed, there are items still missing.  When one has as many snowmen as I do (many years I don't even put them all out), you might question how I would I know that I am missing anything, but I can.  And I am.

I find myself looking to areas where said snowmen or decorations would and should be, sigh in despair, but chalk it up to the season of disarray.

My gift shopping for the past several years has been done on Cyber Monday.  Maybe I just wasn't in the mood, but nothing enticed me.  It didn't help that finances were tight, as hubby was the midst of losing/changing jobs.  So, I waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  Poor Noah has gifts scattered all over the house from the here and there shopping I've managed to do.  I'll be lucky if I get them wrapped in time and don't forget where I hid everything.  If I do, maybe I'll find them in time for his birthday next month!

We did a bulk grocery trip Sunday, after a long, full day of church, a farewell lunch for Tim's nephew who is joining the Air force, and a visit at the hospital to my niece (more on that below).  I went without a list and was already exhausted so you can bet I have forgotten at least one ingredient for every dish we have planned.

And traditions.  Well, this seems to be year of non-tradition so far.  Noah has a job and that has changed some of our annual outings.  Tim switched to third shift and we're still trying to teach his body bedtime is no longer dark-thirty!  Our calendar just doesn't seem to be cooperating and all the things I planned or looked forward to from years past isn't happening.

I could let it ruin my Christmas.  It would be easy to focus on all the things that haven't gone exactly as envisioned.  Or, I could sit in the messy beauty that is this year and be thankful.

The first Christmas, after all, was rather displaced and unexpected.  
But so very perfect, in every way.


In a way, it reminds me of what my niece and her husband are going through this season.  My chaotic Christmas seems a blessing in disguise.

Much like Mary and Joseph found themselves, they are expecting a child and have been sent on a journey away from home, in hopes of protecting their baby.

Haylea is only 24 weeks along but her pregnancy has been a whirlwind.  Diagnosed with hyper dynamic cervix, her body is fighting to keep sweet Isaiah in the womb and safe.  This past weekend she reached the milestone of viability and was able to get steroids for his lungs.  But the hospital she was in isn't able to care for NICU babies until week 27.  Given that she could deliver anytime, we prayed for a better option.

Thankfully, she's been sent two hours from home under the care of neonatal specialist in a hospital that provides for preemies on a daily basis.  We're still prayerful she will carry as long as possible, but we're grateful she is among seasoned professionals prepared for any outcome.

But it means she'll spend Christmas away from family.  Newly married, this most certainly isn't the Christmas I'm sure she imagined for their first year together.

Just as I'm sure Mary's journey was anything but expected and planned.

My prayer for them this season is that they are held by God's mighty power and strength, can put their trust in Him, and feel the peace which only He can provide.  For if He can bring His son into the most unlikely of circumstances, born in a manger, we are faithful and filled with hope, as little Isaiah is in the same caring hands.


If you would like to support this young family, struggling this season, and share a little hope, please consider giving at their link below.  Michael has been unable to work steadily, due to the lengthy and frequent hospital stay his wife has had - and is expected to continue.  May you be blessed for your gifts or prayers for them this Christmas.  

Help for Isaiah:
https://www.gofundme.com/j2fyzyj3


Saturday, December 12, 2015

A Moment with Majesty

In the hustle and bustle that can become Christmas, how many of you hope to slow things down and just soak up the goodness of the season?

I know that as my calendar begins to fill and time gets squeezed out, I begin to feel that way myself.  When we have to decline a function and feelings get hurt, it makes me question priorities and relationships.  As the date draws closer to the 25th, I'm mindful that the relationship which should be my priority is the very One whose birth we are celebrating.

Several nights ago, wise words reached into my soul and settled there.  My pastor's wife shared a from-the-heart, simple devotion that simply encouraged us that amidst the chaos of Christmas we seek a moment with Majesty.  To be still and know...  To let everything else go and just be in His very presence.


And so that is my Christmas wish...

To not compare the presents (or lack of) under my tree with those I see
and focus more on the presence of who is around it

To say no when there's no space to give and be ok in doing so

To pause whenever I feel the stress of the season and remember the reason we celebrate

To seek Him in every moment

To let it go when others hurt me and just share His love

To let His light shine through me everywhere I go

To be still...and know that He is God.
Above all else.



Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thankful-Eve

Feet up, a glowing moon out the back window, and the scents of Thanksgiving drifting from the kitchen.

Oh, what a grateful heart I have tonight.

Tomorrow will begin the first of many meals and house hopping this weekend.  While it will be wonderful seeing family, I can already feel the exhaustion that comes.  For now, I'm reflecting on the special moments of the day.

Life is all about which side you want to focus on...the good or the bad.

Today was filled with a mix of Busy and Bliss.  Anger and Joy.  Tired and Rested.  Frazzled and Humbled.

Our morning began tense, as Noah woke up more than a little grumpy.  He is so not a morning person, even though I let him sleep in until nearly 10:00.  An unexplained scowl appeared across his face and his answers were short and tight.

I tried asking him what was wrong but "Nothing" is all I received.  My shoulders stiffened and tears brimmed.  It would've been so easy to lash back, as his attitude was undeserved.  Instead, while slowly inhaling, I mentally forced myself to relax, pause, and hit reset.

Though I'd planned it for our last stop, I decided a trip to the food pantry was needed.  They were having a lunch fundraiser and filling our bellies before running errands seemed like a good plan.  As I prayed for our meal, the heavy emotions seemed to dissipate.  It's difficult to stay angry when you think about the families who will line up later tonight in need of food.

By the time our BBQ was gone, my boy's sparkle had returned.  We ran into the store, which I dreaded the day before a big holiday, to grab a few forgotten ingredients for new recipes we're trying.  I made it a point to smile at everyone I saw, because I know the my-feet-are-tired-and-I-still-have-so-much-to-do face.  Instead of it being a chore, the trip was pleasant and Noah and I shared lots of laughs.

Leaving the store, a lady on a mobile cart was stuck in the road.  Without hesitation, Noah curved toward her and bent down gently, "Can I help you ma'am."

Be still my momma-heart.  This boy.

He can put on a tough act but he is such a gentle giant.  When I see him willingly care for someone in need, just because, it is all I can do but squish kiss him right in the moment.

I contained myself and didn't gush over him but instead tucked it away.  My plan was to tell him later how proud I was.  However, it wasn't five minutes later he was amazing me again.

As we left the parking lot, my eye caught a man sitting on the curb, cardboard sign sharing his soul.  Noah rubbernecked as I drove past.

"Mom, he was sitting on a gas can.  He needs help."

God was already tugging at me so it took no effort to turn around.  And I barely pulled into park before he was out of the car, shaking the man's hand, sharing that beautiful smile, the love of Jesus pouring off of him.  With his own money, he filled the man's can and listened to his story.

Only 15 but such a servant's heart.

May I cling to those little nuggets in the days ahead. Thanksgiving is bittersweet for our family, as while we are thankful to be together, we're ever-mindful of the one who left us seven years ago this very weekend.

What a blessing it has been - and is - to have two sons with such sweet and giving spirits.

One who is smiling down on us and one who continues to fill me with joy each and every day.



Monday, November 23, 2015

The D-word

I hate depression.  

I've watched it cloud, choke, and transform people into shells of the person they once were.  It isn't just an emotion or shifting of mood but for many, a disease that invades and destroys.

When someone you love has depression, you feel trapped on the other side of the mirror.  You can see them but not reach them.  Touch them but not bring them over.  And some days it seems they get deeper inside.  Another layer away.

Unlike a terminal diagnosis, there is little understanding or empathy for someone battling depression. Most people assume you can just "shake it off" and look on the bright side.  Yet for those trapped within the clutches, there is no bright side to see.

I've been depressed and have endured great darkness in losing my son, but I can't say I've suffered from chronic depression.  For that I am grateful because I know the pain of depression, and how it hurts both the one suffering and those that love them.

There is a difference in grief and depression, though often they go hand in hand.  Grief just adds to the weight of the already sinking.  Like throwing bowling balls to someone drowning.

Then you add the holidays, which for many are a time of rejoicing, but for others are impossible expectations.  And of course, the changing of seasons, where sunshine is harder to find and days turn frigid, gloomy and cold.  It is no surprise why the most wonderful time of the year is also the most difficult for the depressed.


Tim and I handled the grief of losing Austin in very different ways and it taught me, firsthand, how unique grieving is.  Though he was never diagnosed, there were periods I would say that Tim fought depression.  The weight was tangible, as if he carried a heavy coat on his body that wouldn't come off.  It wasn't just triggers, anniversaries, or memories that resulted in his sadness but a heaviness that clung to him.

And I prayed fervently for it to be released from him. It's with extreme gratitude to God that I see a change, knowing the weights have been lifted.  Of course, we will both always carry sadness in the loss of our son, but the clouds of depression are no longer in view.

This is one of the most difficult posts I've written because I find myself tiptoeing around what I want to say and worrying someone will take it the wrong way.  And also because even though this was my experience, it doesn't mean it to be so for everyone.

But I know that the only reason I have survived the loss of my son is because of God.  He gave me strength when I didn't have it.  Helped me find hope where there was none.  Gave peace in moments that surpassed understanding.  And brought joy back into my life.

When you fill your empty spaces with light, there is less room for darkness.

The closer I've seen my husband grow in his relationship with God, the more I've seen the darkness fade.  I know Satan uses whatever tools he can to hurt us and pull us away from God.  He hisses in our ears and clouds our thinking.  He hides the silver lining of every day.  He revels in depression because where it is, joy cannot enter.

If you're facing depression, there are so many options for help for you.  You are worthy of help.
You matter!

Seek support.  Exercise.  Eat well.  See your doctor.  Take care of yourself!  
Pray.  God will walk this journey with you - and carry you when you can't walk.
Practice the power of positive thinking.  Light cancels dark!  One day, one step at a time.

Reach out if you need help.  You are never alone in this.  Someone cares for you.
1-800-273-TALK is just one of many resources available.

Know I am praying for you.  If you need specific prayer, comment below or message me.

My prayer for all is that you'll find the hope, peace, and joy that can only come from One source, this season, and always.








Saturday, November 14, 2015

Grateful & Kind

Maybe it is because I'm getting older but time seems be passing so quickly lately.  I can sit and almost watch it slip away.  And no matter how much you will it to slow, there is no stopping the ticking of the clock or ending of another day.

It's already the middle of November.  

The busyness of the holidays will be among us and, before you know it, another year gone.  

Pausing to be thankful is how I spend this month.  Not just on Thanksgiving but every day of the month.  I started practicing this the year after losing my son.  It was impossible to imagine the holidays without him so this exercise helped me focus on the good that still remained.  I've continued doing it because truly it's how I try to live every single day.

Gratitude = Joy.  This I have learned.

This November has me standing on my head at times searching for joy.  In what is the most difficult of months for us, we've endured some extra heartache.  Watching those you love suffering is one of the deepest pains, especially when there's nothing you can do to fix it.

In the midst of it, I'm aware that Satan would love nothing more than for this girl to stop.  Cease sharing.  To end the finding of joy.  But that just makes me want to do it more.

Since I was a child, if you told me I couldn't achieve something, it just fueled me to prove you wrong.  Of course, in this case, I know there's a bigger power on my side.  And through Him, I can do all things...most especially find JOY!

Yesterday I hear it was World Kindness Day and then I see devastating news for Paris.  In a much bigger scale, it magnifies that sometimes there is nothing you can do in the chaos and pain, except keep moving forward.  PRAY.

And not stop.

Our annual RAK project is approaching.  I prefer focusing on the day of my son's death with a positive, because how else can you celebrate such an anniversary.  Instead of dwelling on something we can't change, we remember our son and the way he lived his life - helping others.  Doing random acts of kindness is a small way to keep his sweet spirit with us on the day we miss him most.


Sunday, November 29, if you'd like to join us.  Although I encourage you to do a RAK whenever it feels right, whether in November, December - or even July!

Here are some of my favorite RAK moments from the past, if you'd like to read...






Last year was the first year we received messages after our reverse shopping spree.  
Six years may have passed but I was having an especially rough weekend remembering.
These came at just the needed moments.  Hugs from above...


If you do a RAK in memory of Austin, we love hearing about them.  
Just add to the comments below.





Friday, October 30, 2015

Trick-or-Treat Traditions

Traditions.

Just the word makes me smile.  Takes me back to fond memories of the past.
From my childhood and early years with the boys.  It reminds me of comfort, of HOME.

With a growing teenager, we're at a crossroads of change.  And as such, a tweaking of our traditions. Gone are the days of creating fun costumes and trick-or-treating with my little guy.

Noah was always such a good sport, letting me be creative and make homemade costumes.

 These were two of my faves.  
He chuckled remembering them this afternoon, 
naming some I had forgotten about like the "Cereal" Killer and mummy.

Things have changed so much, we aren't even able to participate in Trunk or Treat at church this year, which has at least allowed Noah to still dress up and hand out candy.


Because, this year, my little guy is so big he has to work the holiday.  He was a tad disappointed, although I think he was uncertain what he would even do, if he were off.  It's tough growing up.  I see the realization in his face as childhood traditions start to slip away.

Our children are forced to grow up so quickly.  So often we wish our childhood away and then spend decades wishing it back.  While I'm proud that Noah's responsible and mature, I also love seeing him enjoy just being a kid.

Noah was going to walk my sister's kiddos around the park today to collect candy from local businesses, until we noticed the massive line and the time.  Instead, he ended up hugging them goodbye and walking to work.  (Big momma heart tug moment!)

My sweetheart niece, Bryanna, thought of her cousin and carried a bag around for him too.  Not everyone gave her candy for both, but I'd watch her peek in her bag, dip in her little hand and drop some over in his bag.  Hopefully it'll put a smile on his face when he gets home tonight.  It sure did mine.

Instead of what we've grown used to for this holiday, we find ourselves rearranging and adjusting, figuring out new traditions along the way.  I'm sure it is the beginning of many more to come, as our boy grows older.

Since he doesn't clock in until the afternoon, we've decided to spend the day cooking and watching spooky movies.  We've not yet had a pot of Noah's award-winning chili so it seems fitting to start a memory of making it on Halloween.  It was difficult for him to give me his "secret ingredient" list to shop today but I promised to never share!

With the crazy schedule our family has, our pumpkins haven't even been carved yet so that will also be new for us.  At least our creations won't be soggy and caving in!

And for the first time maybe.....ever? Tim and I will be home on Halloween.  I realized this morning we better get some candy, if kiddos even come to our neighborhood.  If not, I'm sure my guys will have no problem putting it away.


What are your Halloween traditions?
...And what do you sneak out of the candy bowl?


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Still Standing: October

Life sure has a way of knocking you down, while you're down.  At least that's how it feels around here sometimes.

Before we've even had a chance to catch our breath from a bumpy summer and unexpected change in our family, we receive more unsettling news this week.

We're really not at a place where we can share just yet, but prayers are appreciated, especially for my husband.

Though the future is uncertain we're holding on to the One who holds our future.

October is among my most favorite of months, but I'm realizing a trend that makes it difficult to love it fully as I used to.  It's very much a month of before...

I captured what I called the "Calm Before the Storm" in my first post as a contributing author for Still Standing Magazine.

Thanks to Timehop, I was reminded that I've had the honor of writing for this beautiful place of support for those facing child loss exactly two years ago.

My latest post with them has received a response I wasn't expecting.  Often it is those pieces I pour out quickly, which seem to resonate the most.  While the loss of a child is as unique as the person grieving, whatever my heart shared a few days ago met and matched many.

If you've faced such a loss, perhaps you'll find comfort that however you're feeling, you're not alone.


All that to say, sometimes I have to look back to see how far we've come.  No matter what temporary trial we are enduring, we've already faced the unimaginable.  And yet...


we're Still Standing.


Saturday, October 17, 2015

Schoolhouse Rocks

Talking with someone recently, I realized we've not been on a vacation since 2013.

Twenty.  Thirteen.

There are many reasons why, but given the stressful summer we've had, it became necessary to shift things around and take an impromptu retreat.

Fall break gave us the perfect opportunity to get away for a few days.  Now that our baby is a working man, it isn't as easy to plan outings.  An added snafu was two doggies with no sitter on such short notice.  So this momma set to googling for a much needed dog-friendly vacay spot.

I found three or four contenders, sent inquiries, and set to packing.  In the end, the top choice became a one room schoolhouse built in the 1920s on the tail end of Kentucky Lake, in Buchanan, Tennessee.

1927 Fort Henry Schoolhouse

The guys were a little hesitant staying in one room all together for several days.  They didn't say much, but I could tell there was doubt.  That all changed though the moment they opened the door.

This is where they spent a good chunk of our trip....


And here...



Of course, I did my did share of R&R too, snuggled with my buddy,who spent most of the trip with a stomach bug.  



He was such a trooper, never once complaining about spending lots of time in the boys room.  Lucky for me there were two restrooms in the schoolhouse.


As such, we didn't venture out much but I was content soaking up the views from here.

                                        

The one "good day" he had we took the boat to spend some time on the lake.  It was beautiful exploring the God's patchwork quilt from the waters.



When at the schoolhouse, I loved browsing through the photos and newspaper clippings about the history.  Growing up, Little House on the Prairie was among my favorite stories so I imagined what life must have been like in a one room school.  We even managed to find an episode to watch on TV one afternoon.  

Though a brief trip, it was nice to stop and soak up some much needed family time.  My boy is growing so fast, this momma often wants to push on the breaks and slow things down.  This retreat gave us that chance.


We received lots and lots of Austin hugs on the trip as well.  

The first we noticed was at our lunch stop.  Noah glanced down and commented it was 2:32 about the same time we noticed the phone number on the restaurant.  The town where we were staying had 232 as the prefix.  On the way to the house, we crossed an intersection for Hwy 232.  And while browsing an online map, I realize the main road beside was Austin Memorial Hwy.  Hanging on one wall were enrollment cards for all the former classmates.  I noticed that each frame contained 23 students.  
So many signs he was smiling down and with us each mile.

Friday, October 9, 2015

We're Nutty For Food

On my fall bucket list every single year is attending the West Side Nut Club Fall Festival.  Yet every single year, life seems to get in the way of us going.  Whether it is crazy schedules, sickness, budget, or what have you, no matter much I hope or plan, it never happens.

This week has been no exception, as storms have certainly come through full force, but I decided to put on my rubber boots this time and play in the rain!  I'm speaking figuratively of course; however, as we started on the trek raindrops did threaten.

I sent up a little prayer for cooperative weather and safe travels, with Noah beside me playing hooky from school.  We really needed a Mom & Me day.  And God did not disappoint.

What a wonderful time we had!

Mom: Let's take a Selfie!
Noah: Let's NOT!  ;)

My baby shares a love of food with his mom.  Like me, he'll try anything once.  So imagine blocks of booths offering crazy fares like brain sandwiches, bologna balls, pickle slushies, and fried kool-aid.

Normally, I'm a planning type of gal.  My intentions were to scope out the best booths, research tips, find great parking options, etc.  Instead, we just hit the road and hoped for the best.  I wasn't even sure where exactly I was going.  As my mom said though, just look for the rides, you'll find it!

We arrived a little early and snagged a sweet parking spot at the start of the festival, in a church parking lot.  Throughout our day we were blessed to have contact with smiling faces and great attitudes.  Well, except for the filthy-mouth carny Noah and I exchanged "she needs Jesus" glances over.  Maybe the interactions were pleasant because of my sweet boy.  I was touched by how genuinely polite and friendly he was.  Every booth we stopped at he'd leave them with a kind goodbye.  It was a proud mom moment for sure.

kraut balls - minus what Noah already ate!
Though we'd browsed a "Munchie Map" prior to arriving, we decided to just start at the beginning and make our way around.  Our first purchase was kraut balls.  Noah's had a sparked interest in all things German lately, as he's recently made friends with an exchange student and part of our lineage is there.  He was snapchatting some of our finds and she jealously replied from school.

From there it's hard to remember everything but here's what I can recall...

buckeyes -you can never go wrong with peanut butter
fried mac & cheese - see above
A sampler fried ball platter.  - I loved the bologna bomb and the Popeye ball (spinach), Noah agreed on Popeye but preferred the mashed potato and ham/cheese over bologna.
Gator Bites.  Jerk Chicken.  -Noah never had gator and loved it.  Jerk chicken took me back to Jamaica.
BBQ soak - we were curious at the name.  It's a white bread sandwich of bbq.  Yummy.
Hog jowl - would've been better without the sauce.  Kinda like a country ham bacon.

hog jowl
brain teasers



Brain teasers - the brain sandwich is a trademark to the festival but by the time we found it we were stuffed.  We opted for the teasers, which was a hushpuppy.  It was just ok.  Next time we're going for the sandwich.
And a giant turkey leg - think Fred Flintstone
                                                                  


We brought home the turkey leg because we were stuffed.  It smelled amazing driving home.  Also in the bag I was smart enough to carry, we returned with puppy chow, Grippos popcorn, kangaroo and alligator jerky, a cricket sucker, and a caramel apple kuchen.

All the proceeds go to charities so it was worth the near C-note we dropped on the day.  And the rain hit just as we were leaving.

Thankful for the day and what I hope to be the start of an annual tradition with my son.

Bellies full.  Pockets empty.  Memories made.
that's my "Yikes! I'm about to eat a brain" face

You still have one day to enjoy to enjoy the festival.  Get out there and enJOY!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sweet, Sweet September

My favorite season arrived this week!  I'm giddy with anticipation for all things fall.  Truly, I can barely contain my excitement for mums, pumpkins, leaves, bonfires, and caramel apples.

The scenery must be eager to begin too, as it seems to have come bursting forth.


The end of September is such a glorious month to be outdoors.


I've had to pull over more times than I can count and received a few strange looks,
 as I'm breaking out my phone to capture God's beauty.


The other day I was in a scenery competition with my sister on who had the better view to work.  
I'm not giving you hers to compare, but let's just face it, these are pretty sweet scenes...




While it's been a busy week, stopping to soak up the golden sunshine has been so joyful.  
Much has happened in the past seven days 
and I haven't even had time to update my bloggy pals!

Last weekend I saw my baby all grown up in handsome suit,
 as he took his girl to the Homecoming dance.


And I celebrated the start of the season waaaaay up in the sky on a chair lift.  



I was hesitant to go and it took me waiting until almost the last moment.
But it was so worth it in the end and I'm glad I made the leap!


I was even brave enough to pose for a selfie.
(Although I chickened out on the alpine slide with the rest of the fam.)

Get out there an ENJOY the season!








Friday, September 18, 2015

Step It Up

Most days in my job, it is a constant go-go-go.  I work with babies and toddlers and visit homes within two counties.  I'm in and out and up and down and back and forth throughout the day.  And like most moms, the busyness doesn't stop once home.  Then it's time for dinner and laundry, taxi service for kiddos, and all the odds and ends that most parents try to keep tied together.

Shew, I'm tired just thinking about it.  (And glad it is Friday!)

Because I feel forever busy and am exhausted by day's end, I assumed that my step count would be pretty high.  Facing the dreaded big 4-0, having my eye on a Fitbit, and due to a walking campaign at work, it's something top of mind right now.

I'm a few points away from the Fitbit I want, but this week we were given Fitbug pedometers at work to track our steps.  Our team's goal is that magic 10,000 steps a day.  Each.  Falling in line with goals I already had for myself, and certain all the in and out of my job would add up help, I joined without hesitation.

The first day was a big disappointment and truly, a wake-up call.


Though I clocked nearly 10 hours on the job, I was barely reaching 1,000 steps.  Was there a zero missing?  Maybe I was wearing it wrong.  Did I hit a button and clear steps by accident?  Seriously?!

I know I'm slow when I walk and hobble now a then, thanks to old wreck injuries and genetics, but I thought slower might actually mean more steps.  After all, it feels like it takes me twice as long to get somewhere when walking next to someone.

Thinking back through my day, rather typical for me, I realized that my feet really don't get as much action as I thought.  Yes, I'm constant and busy, but a large majority of my day is spent behind the windshield and in the floor with families.

But I'm so tired when I make it home.  The last thing on my mind is exercise.  Wah Wah Wah!

That evening we were at my niece's birthday party and gathered around the grill awaiting dinner.  Kiddos were running everywhere, full of energy and spunk.  And although I was enjoying the adult conversation, I decided to get up and join them.

All the littles are under eight, so when I bolted up and started walking down the hill, I quickly gained a curious line.

"What's that thing on your shirt, Aunt Heather?"

"It counts my steps," I told them.  "Want to walk with me and see?"

A vibrant yes exploded from them and we were off.  1, 2, 3, 4.....they began chanting in a sing-song tone.  Every now and then I'd stop and show them how the number grew.  This excited them and they'd push me to go more.  Around the house, up and down the hill, and through a secret path they wanted to explore.

My niece joined us on her pretty pink new bicycle.  At least until it was time to go up the big hill and then it was "Help me, Aunt Heather!"

I'm not sure how much time passed, but by the time I made it back to the party my number had doubled.  Still nowhere close to what other coworkers are doing, but I'll take it.  My number may be small but the rewards were great.

The next morning, when random insomnia pushed me out of bed earlier than planned, I decided to dust off a walking dvd.  Fifteen minutes later, thanks to a peppy and inspiring Leslie Sansone, I had my first mile logged.  By day's end, I'd doubled the steps from the day before.

Yesterday, I logged an additional 1,000.  Slow and steady wins the race?  At this rate, I'll be lucky to reach 10,000 by the end of the challenge! While I'm not going to be a leader on my team, I still feel like a winner.

Here's hoping I can walk lighter and healthier into my 40s by the first of the year.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Saturday of Service

What an amazing gift to be a part of God's plan and see it through from the first seed to fruition!

Our church conducted our first Operation Inasmuch this past weekend, a local feet-on-the-ground mission trip.  We literally served in the backyard and surrounding neighborhoods from our campus.

Here's a quick video that gives a snapshot of what the day was like.  So good!




When a small group from our church sent a mission team to a similar project in Nashville last summer, we had no idea what God would have in store for us.  Looking back, I can see this past weekend was His plan all along!

Our family was deeply impacted in Nashville, having our eyes opened to the refugees that live two short hours from us.  Coming home, we realized that we could duplicate a mission of service here.

I began praying for direction of exactly how our church would be on mission in our own backyard.  A few weeks later a small postcard showed up in my mailbox.  It was a call to action to learn more about Operation Inasmuch.  And from that God's plan was born.

It was an honor to watch the progress from prayerful planning stages to final details.

Saturday, sitting in the circle of an army of volunteers I had to choke back tears.  I flitted about to various projects, taking photos, but mostly soaking up the view of watching His hands and feet in action.  From prayer walks, to lunch preparations, to nursing home visits, to chats with individuals awaiting free oil changes, they were all precious sights to see.  And even better was watching our teens roll up their sleeves and take part.  Both were eager and excited to serve.

Over 100 volunteers, countless lives touched, and a church on fire for missions.  What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday!

If you would like to learn more about Operation Inasmuch just click the link!  





Linked with #DancewithJesus

Friday, August 28, 2015

Rosy Memories

We lost Tim's mom a year and a half after losing our son.  In the midst of deep sorrow, facing her cancer diagnosis was difficult to say the least.  I worried so much for him, fearing it would just be too much too soon.

There would be times I'd think of her but would rarely mention it to my husband, afraid the sadness would cloud a rare good day he might be having.

Over time, we came to speak of Mamaw June again, especially around the holidays and whenever the topic of fried chicken would come up.

My goodness, that woman could cook.  And fried chicken with dumplings was her speciality.

Yesterday a reminder popped on my phone of a memory from exactly six years ago.  On that day she came over and taught me her secret.  We had such a great time that evening in my kitchen.  Watching her frail hands, I imagined how many batches she'd cooked over the years.

Seeing the love pour out of her with each motion, I realized, there truly wasn't a secret to it.  No exotic ingredient she used, just her special touch.

The memories of that day were so precious though, even more so now that she is gone.

Because of that reminder, she was on my mind throughout the day.  I would've never guessed that by the afternoon I'd end up in the apartment complex where she used to live.  Pulling into the parking lot and walking to the breezeway just next to hers, passing her favorite bench, I was flooded with pictures from the past.

One of the sweetest transitions from grief and loss is when a memory brings 
a smile instead of a tear.  

What happened next though gave me me goosebumps.

Talking with the kind lady I was meeting about her flower beds, she mentioned a rose garden in the back of the complex.  She had recently moved there and was happy to have a place to tinker in the yard.  The manager had mentioned to her there was an overgrown rose garden at the back nobody had taken care of for several years.  So she gladly did.  This season was spent digging out the weeds and leaves and pruning all the plants.  Next year she hopes the blooms will return.


That rose garden was June's.  

Aside from being a great cook, June had a green thumb like no other.  She could take a stick, plant it in the ground and something beautiful would grow.  Her favorite flower was the rose so every holiday imaginable, at least one of her boys would buy her a plant.  And thus, the rose garden began.  

It was planted on a hill alongside the "chocolate river," as her grandbabies called it.  We spent many an afternoon swinging or picnicking in her favorite space.

I shared some of those memories with this new friend and her eyes sparkled, as mine became misty.  Upon leaving her house, I opted for the back route, which led me around to the garden mentioned.  

June would've been so pleased with the progress.  

A lot has changed in the past five years.  Time passes on.  Yet I was grateful for the walk down memory lane and the fragrant scent of roses, if only in my mind.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Weekend Reflections

My hope is that all women think their husband is a rock star.  I know mine is and I'm thankful every single day for all he does for us.  Seriously.  I love this man.

He's been on a roll lately of being especially handy.  While it cost his time, he's certainly saved us lots of money.  Tim's fixed the fence, the boat and my car.  The last two projects took a chunk of this past weekend.  I'm happy to report the boat was repaired in time for not one but three fishing outings.  But that was mostly because he took Friday off to do it.  For me!  He knew I'd really been wanting to go fishing and spend time together.  The weather was forecast to be amazing.  And being the wonderful hubby he is, he didn't want me to miss out being on water this weekend.

And I sooooo needed this.

where troubles just melt away....

And this...
mighty fine date night, if you ask me

Bonus being even more the next day....

Sunrise and sunset are my two favorite times to be on the river.  

There's a stillness to the water, a peace that settles in the evening.  When twilight comes and the river sighs.  Crickets and cicadas increase their singing.  And you just can't help but relax.  In the morning, before the sun comes up, a fog dances across and the reflections are beautiful.  I love watching the world wake up, especially from a spot nice as above!

My soul needed this time away, to pour out everything and replace it with goodness.  Nature, my husband, and time with God.  

Sometimes we sat in silence, a sign of a content couple.  Others we'd chat about anything or everything.  Most of the time he ribbed me for not catching any fish.  

The time with God is always welcome and needed too.  Part of it was spent in prayer, reading a devotion and catching up on my studies, and worshipping from the bow of the boat singing one of my favorites that the scenery inspired.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Saturday night, I surprised my mom and took her out to eat at the pizza place where Noah works.  She'd not watched him in action yet and I knew they both would enjoy seeing the other.  He was able to take a short break and snack with us.  Mamaw, of course, left him a sweet tip.  It was a special impromptu date with mom and I loved the time together.  Life is busy and although I talk to her almost daily, and see her every Sunday at church, we don't get a lot of one on one time anymore.

Sunday after church I was fighting a sinus headache and went to sneak in a mini nap.  I felt guilty for lounging when my hubby was hard at work repairing my car.  But Noah soon eased those feelings, when he hopped in beside me just to be close and play a game.  Although my eyes were mostly shut, we had a great conversation about nothing and I absolutely loved the unexpected snuggle time.

All of this was precious in the moment but after reflecting back, I am even more grateful today.  Within the past twenty four hours I've heard of the sudden passing of so many - both young and old. 

 Three children, siblings, I did not know.  My child-loss momma heart swells for that family and they've been in my thoughts and prayers since learning of the tragedy.  And two charismatic and unique individuals, one expected but painful for the family none the less, and one very much a surprise.  Though adults, both were still young by my standards and both the victims of terrible diseases. 

We know all too well how quickly life can change.  How fleeting life is.  It makes us appreciate the little things more and soak up time with those we love.  But even those of us who've survived tragic loss, still let life get in the way and busy dictate our schedule.  Sometimes it can't be helped.  Sometimes priorities need adjusting.  Sometimes we just have to grab hold of unexpected carvings and relish them for what they are.

So very glad I got to make memories with some important ones the past few days.  Because we truly never know when that moment may be our last with them...


Monday, August 17, 2015

Manic Monday...

I've been rained on.  Stood up.  Ignored.  And made two trips to work this morning back to back.  Yep, that'd be my Monday, folks.

Worst part, I've had this Monday all weekend. As in a nothing-is-happening-like-I've-planned-it day.  On repeat.

Now, I could get really grumpy, stomp around, and have every right to be upset.  But that's just not how I roll.  Well... most days at least!

As my shoes were squishing down the hall, the results from a rainy day of home visits, I had to chuckle.  The song "Manic Monday" was literally streaming in my head and I realized this has been life for the past few days.

Friday was a rare full day off for me, a result of working many late nights.  Though I daydreamed about what I'd do, being woke up at 5:30 from the sound of hammers on the roof wasn't what I envisioned.  This was my alarm clock all weekend.  But with each clang, peck, and knock, I did lift up thankfulness that it was being fixed.  And considering the rain we've had today, the timing was perfect!

Saturday my hubby was up bright and early, not just due to the roofers, but because he'd planned a fishing day with a friend.  I had him packed, fed, and waiting at the table when he got the text.  Cancellation.  Deflated, he made a few attempts at some stand-in buddies but had no luck.  Since my plans for the day had also been altered, I decided it was just meant for us to go together.

We haven't had hardly any fishing time this season since it's been more monsoon than our normal humid Kentucky summer.  And because it was just the two of us, we decided it would be a good time to see if your newest dog would enjoy traveling by boat.  He loves to go "bye-bye" but he was a little unsure of our rocky departure.  Tim had to pick him up and hoist him onto the bow.


After a few minutes of settling into a spot, I glanced down and noticed more water than usual in our well.  Questioning Tim, he turns on the bilge pump but nothing happens.  At this point, the theme song for JAWS is entering my brain and I'm on full blown survival mode, wishing we were on the other side of the river, since that's the side we're parked on, and wondering how many laps it'll take to get all the way back to the truck should we sink.  But on the outside I'm calm and cool as a cucumber, both for my hubby's benefit and for our dog.  I don't want him traumatized on his first voyage!

Long story short, we end our fishing trip and head home, as Tim ventures out for boat supplies to correct the problem.  He said later he was glad I went though because he doubted that two guys would've even realized it, until their ankles were wet and they were going under.

And Sunday continued, in less exciting changes to our plans.  From the boat to last night, I sat in awe of Tim's attitude through it all.  Several years ago, even one of these would've sent us spiraling into a bad mood.  There might've been cussing, or stomping, or throwing.  (I'll be kind and not share which would do what.)

Today, dripping wet from being caught in a downpour, I was grateful my instinct was to sing a happy little tune and find the humor in the moment rather than let it drown my day.

Happiness is dependent on our circumstances, 

JOY is not.




Friday, August 14, 2015

Beautiful Mess

The other night I went to bed exhausted a bit early for our household, especially for a Wednesday. With church, we never seem to eat dinner until after we arrive home, which is around "universal bedtime" for little ones.

That alone could send me tossing and turning, but for whatever reason I had a slew of issues that kept me from sleeping.  Restless legs, eyes wide open, even if tired, a random allergy attack, and tummy troubles shot me out of bed after midnight.

Normally, the minute I realize that sleep isn't going to come, I'll get up.  That night I wrestled with it for hours.  Sometimes the alone time is welcomed, a rare treat as a Mom.  Yet because I was already tired, this gal wasn't very grateful as I stumbled in dark to find my spot.

Not sure if I wanted to watch tv or read, I browsed online for a few minutes and realized it was prime viewing time for the meteor shower.  A few of my friends were already commenting about how beautiful and amazing it was on Facebook.

Stepping outside on my back deck, I expected to see a brilliant display.  Instead what was received was dizziness from having my head up and spinning in a circle in the dark.  Hmmm...

Back inside, I googled for the best direction to view the show.  Northeast.  Out in the dark I go, internal GPS positioned best I could gauge and - nothing.

Huffing this time, I stomp around, grumbling about being up at this hour and still not benefiting from it, I ask my sleeping husband for directions.  Of course in his slumber, he sends me the exact opposite direction.  Though I may not be keen on compass skills, I knew without a doubt he was sending me the wrong way.

Grabbing my phone and a blanket I trod out determined to catch a glimpse of something.  Anything.  To be fair, my other trips had been very impatient and short-lived.  I wanted results without doing any work to get there.  Lord, help me...

Turning on some inspirational music, blanket snuggled, I was ready.  While waiting, I decided that a good use of my time would be spend it in prayer.

Sometimes the best conversations I have with God are at 2:00 in the morning.

What I learned a long time ago, is that you don't always have to be knees-bent to pray.  He tells us to do so continually, without ceasing, so that means anywhere and everywhere.  So with worship music going in the background, under a canvas of twinkling stars, I lift my prayers up to One responsible for my view.

And then He responds.

In a brilliant streak across the sky, I finally see what I've been waiting for!  They happen so quickly that if I were not looking, the opportunity would've been missed.  Tears streaming I wonder how often that happens in my life.


How impatient I am to want things on my time, my way.  How many times have I overlooked what God had in store for me in the moment because I was wishing it away on something ahead?

An hour and a half later, I force myself inside, realizing some sleep might be appropriate given the work day I'm facing.  Obviously it was a lengthy day, given it's taken me two days to finish this post.

Today, He hits me when another morsel when I confirmed what a meteor specifically was.  The definition made the night's viewing have even more of impact.

It's just trash.  

Debris in the sky.  Dust and rocks.  Something we'd normally discard or pay no attention to, yet God makes it amazing.

Oh, how I love His whispers to my soul.

Quit worrying.  
Give it to me.  
I'll take your mess and create something beautiful.  
Just wait....you'll see.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Ready to ROAR: Eyes of a Lion

Even though I'm a child loss mom and write about the experience often, picking up a book about that topic isn't something I regularly do.

In the beginning, I sought those stories out and needed to read about others' experiences.  Then it just became too painful.  For awhile there was enough grief in my own home, I didn't want to see or hear about anyone else.

As I began blogging more and connecting with others, I found that my stories sometimes helped even those who've never faced child loss.  Survivorship from any traumatic event connects us to hope, inspires us, and lets us see how others have faced life events with grace, love and joy, despite the pain.

Several weeks back a random email appeared in my inbox with the invitation to receive an advanced copy of the new book, "Through the Eyes of a Lion" by Levi Lusko.  Of course, I welcomed the opportunity.  What I found was anything but random.  God had a message for me in the print and I know He has one for you as well.

Though the book opens to the heartbreak of loss, 
you close it ignited with mission and purpose. 

As a child loss mom, there were many points I connected with but the lens through which Lusko writes is beautiful and powerful.  Just as this blog isn't only about child loss, but rather life after, #EyesofaLion takes you on a journey and leaves you filled with a desire to stop what you're doing and run toward the roar.


I easily could've read the book in one setting but I purposefully paused to soak up the message and highlight sections which spoke to me.  The once pristine copy is now dogeared and colored, telltale sings of a good read.  It isn't a book to put on a shelf but rather one that can be turned to time and again for inspiration.

"The more passionate you are about setting your soul to Heaven's time zone, 
the more progress you will make in your calling here on earth." -Lusko

In losing Austin, we often yearn for Heaven and the chance to be reunited.  Having him there set our family's course to stay on the right path but Lusko reminds us how it shouldn't be just about waiting to get there.  Our reason for being is about what we do while here!

My life has been somewhat in limbo lately.  Torn between where exactly God wants to use me next, I've let fear slow and alter my decisions.  But as Levi shouts, "God isn't scared of what you're scared of!"

I'm grateful God sent me this book.  His timing is always perfect.  My prayer is that you'll also connect with the message He has for you inside.

photo taken in front of Austin's memorial tree



Friday, August 7, 2015

Fenced Up

We're in the midst of some unexpected summer maintenance to our fence and roof.  It seems the wind prefers to come full mach 10 force at the front of our house.  And blow straight through to the backyard, which now has our fence leaning forward.

This would explain why we've already had to replace the windows and roof on a house that is only about 17 years old.  The fence is less than ten.  But, after reviewing our latest damage and general wear and tear, fixing them both is inevitable.

Why is it they don't make things like they used to?

My grandma had her appliances, even furniture all of my life.  She only recently replaced her couch, just because she finally decided she was ready for a change.  And she gave her antique stove away because she didn't even realize it might be worth something.  Today we live in a disposable age, where everything is just tossed away when it is no longer useful.  Or a better model comes along.

But that's a story for another day.

As I've ben watching Tim take down our back fence, it's brought back many memories of when the boys were little.  It's hard to remember a time when we didn't have the fence but for the first few years we lived in the house, it was just a giant back yard of green.  At the time, there wasn't even a house behind us.

We're the first house you see in neighborhood so there was no hiding the day we bought our pool.  It was just a large inflatable oval but to little boys, ages two and seven, I'm sure it seemed Olympic size.  As it did to every other child in the area.

For many years our backyard was the playground for our cul-de-sac.  Kids would swim, play hide and seek, camp out, make smores, and gather in a "clubhouse" that was really Tim's shed.  They didn't have to ask to come over, kids just ventured behind our house for an adventure.

But I worried the pool was a liability and feared a child would jump in when we weren't home to watch them.  I was nervous enough watching them ride their bikes up the hills from the dirt mounds awaiting new construction.

As much I enjoyed interacting with the neighbors, with more houses being built we saw a need for a bit more privacy.  Actually, it was the house that would share a backyard with us that led to a final decision of building a fence.

Since the fence, the neighbors behind us have come and gone a couple times.  The current family is one I've written about before.  It inspired the story found in the book, 360 degrees of Grief.

We know them but not well.  Tim and the man of the house know each other better, mostly because they are outside more and they chat about yard work, hunting, or whatever guys do.  For myself, I'm more of an observer.  I smile at the family, wave when we pass on the road, and they've been included in my prayers for their own losses and joys.

Hoping to have sunshine and the length of extra time this weekend, Tim's been taking the back section down when he arrives home each night. As each piece is removed, more of our neighbor's home can be seen.

Our dogs are not fans of this situation. Knowing they get in trouble when leaving the fenced in area, they'll hover on the deck and softly growl or stare at their dogs.

But I've enjoyed seeing a glimpse of their life.

With toddlers running around, it lets me reminisce about our own early days.  One night, I sat on the deck, listening to their little boy talk about our dog to his mom.

"Momma, come see Roscoe!" he said, bouncing to her.  "He sits pretty, Momma. Come see!"

It was a sweet interaction I would've missed, had our fence not been down.  And I wondered, how often do I put my own personal fences up to guard myself - and miss the reward?

I've been described as an onion, from friends that took the time to peel the layers.  A defense mechanism I created years ago as a child, I keep my distance, only sharing bits and pieces based on trust.  If I'm hurt, I'm quick to re-patch the fence and step back, protecting my heart.

But I know that isn't what Jesus wants me to do.

Not that he wants to see me hurt, but if always guarded, protected by the fence or walls I put up, how can I really see with His eyes?  Help with His hands and feet?  Love with His heart?


Help me, Lord, to take down the fences that stand in Your way.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
 
 photo design by_zpsv1mvteci.png