Friday, May 12, 2017

Braking for Butterflies

Self-care has been the topic of conversation in the homes I visited this week.  As Mother's Day approaches, I felt it was timely to remind these new and young mommas to put themselves first - at least once a day.

That's not easy for most moms.  It's natural for us to want to help and care for others and put ourselves last.  But, if we are running on empty, we aren't offering anyone our best.  Practicing self-care is the one time in our day it is ok to be selfish.  Mommas, you need this time.  

It doesn't have to take long or even cost money.  In digging online to find nuggets of inspo for my visits, I found two great resources that I'll share with you too:  31 Quick Self-Care Tips and a Self-Care calendar.

I also found a list of Affirmations I'll challenge each of you to print and read to yourself as you begin or end every day.

In my final visit of the week, as we were painting butterflies with tiny baby footprints, a mom made a suggestion that changed my day.  She mentioned that if I drove a different direction home, I'd come across a spot where butterflies liked to play.  Little did she know how special those tiny flying creatures are to me.

Butterflies, specifically yellow ones, have been a sign from Austin since we lost him in 2008.  He's sent them at times there can be no other explanation than to know it was heaven-sent.  For instance, we've been visited by butterflies in the middle of winter, upon freshly fallen snow.

As I headed out her driveway, I began to make excuses as to why I didn't have the five extra minutes it would take to go another direction.  But a persistent little butterfly cut in my path and demanded my attention.  It danced in front of the car as if to say, follow me!

I'm so thankful I listened.

What a difference one turn or choice makes in our day.  Within moments, it felt as if I was on Butterfly Drive because I had to slow down, just to prevent hitting them from fluttering across the road.  Easily finding the spot she'd recommended, I pulled over to take in the scenery.

They were very camera shy so I didn't capture any to share.  Honestly, I was so mesmerized and at peace, I didn't think to take any until almost ready to leave.

I did pause to take a photo of a nearby creek because it was also breathtaking and stilled my soul.

Though I stayed only a few moments, it was sustenance I didn't even realize I needed.

Upon leaving, I broke down in tears and found myself in prayer the remainder of my drive.  Mother's Day weekend will always be bittersweet.  When you have lost a child, it changes the holiday forever.  And although I am beyond blessed to have a towering gentle giant still at home, I will never forget the one who made me Mom first.

Though I prayed for peace and strength as I face the weekend, what I found is that most of my prayer was gratitude.  For the 14 years we had with Austin...for the way God has healed us through this journey...and for the sneak peaks of Heaven he allows when Austin sends us whispers of love.

If you are facing this holiday with loss, whether from a baby you never got to meet, a child gone too soon, or even your own mother's passing, my heart goes out to you.  Be extra gentle on yourself this weekend.  Allow tears to fall.  Embrace the memories.  And if one dances by, brake for butterflies.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Fancy Dance

My baby attended his junior prom this past weekend.  It's hard to believe he is old enough for such a thing.  I'm still getting used to the fact he can drive.  Goodness, how quickly kids grow...

Seems like just yesterday he was preparing for his first grade school dance.  In fact, while attempting to search for a photo from long ago, I stumbled on a funny story.

(Gotta love Facebook for a history log of memories!)

I asked Noah what he wanted to wear to his
 Valentine's Dance tonight. 
He said, "Mom, it is just a 4th grade dance, 
not the Jr Prom...who cares?!" ...such a boy!

After reading it, I remembered the occasion, and thought it was timely to find, since he just went to his actual Jr. prom.

Being one of his first dances and on Valentine's, I expected he would want to go all out.  Noah was quite the romantic in grade school.  In first grade, he actually had five "girlfriends" - one for every day of the week!

And even though he commented he didn't care what he wore, pictures don't lie.  He was stylin and profiling.

He certainly changed his tune for this event, as he had definite ideas for how he wanted to dress for the occasion.  Purple became the main color because it is his favorite but each piece, even the suit, had stylish details.  He chose a pop of orange, despite the frown of the clerk measuring him, just because he wanted to.  I loved the end result.  And of course, as you'll see below, he had to include funky socks from his ever-growing collection.

Seven or eight years may have dramatically changed his height, maturity and looks but he still has lots of spunk and character.  We were rolling in laughter Friday night, while trying to take photos.


Oh, how I love his spirit.
This boy sure brings me joy!

Not having a current girlfriend, he contemplated even attending this year.  Momma talked him into it though, as I didn't go to prom and always regretted it.

Going with friends made for a unique experience.  They met up for sushi and went bowling afterward but neither were really planned.  I'm sure there were lots of laughs and stories he didn't choose to share through the night.  The only thing he didn't do a lot of was dance.  Mr. Social, he said he spent most of the night just making rounds and talking.

However, I'm sure there was a girl or two there that wished he had asked them to dance.  This mom may be biased but he is a cutie pie.

I asked him later what he thought about prom.  He said he was glad I nudged him to go but that in the end he decided it was just an expensive homecoming.  Aka - a Fancy Dance.

That's my boy...

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Panoramic View

Phones are so advanced now they can take a panoramic picture that moves 360-degrees, to let you view any direction from a single position.

I've been around long enough to move from Polaroids (to back again), to inserting film and having it developed, to disposable cameras, to digital, to ones we carry with us everywhere we go.

I remember when panoramic options came out on cameras and how cool that seemed.  That is, until I realized they were too big to fit in my acid free photo album.

Lately, I feel like my life is in a bit of a panoramic view.  As a 40-something, I consider myself somewhat middle aged.  (Yikes, that was hard to type!) But, I'm truly at a point where I can look back over the first half of my life and see ahead to the last.

Sitting in the middle has its ups and downs.

Looking back, I can see lessons learned and share that advice with my nearly adult teen.  The trials I thought were insurmountable, I've now gleaned wisdom from the experience.  And I can see big picture, full circle moments from God.

Thinking ahead though sometimes wears me out.  I wonder, if I'm this tired and achy at my age, what in the world will become of me in 40 more years!  Sometimes I find myself staring at the elderly, or even those just 10-15 years older, and imagining what life might be like at that stage.  Often I compare their physical abilities to mine.  Sadly, there are quite a few senior citizens who can run circles around me.

This past Sunday, our sermon was on how we're to press forward, not focused on the past.  For a girl big on memories and childhood nostalgia, that can be hard.  But I get the point, especially if we're letting the past weigh us down.

What I know, from experience, is that the future can sometimes seem just as daunting.  We can let fears of what is to come overwhelm us. So aside from knowing and clinging to what my ultimate prize is, I'm choosing to focus my view on today.

With the beautiful weather we've been having, my husband and I enjoy spending time on our deck.  Whether for early morning coffee or evening skyscapes, we've been amused at bird watching lately.  There's a nest of robin eggs above our security light, right over our back door.  The parents of this nest aren't too happy with our new seating arrangements and momma bird will often squawk her objections.

We have tried to stay quiet and I've resorted to holding a pillow so I won't talk with my hands.  This weekend she eventually braved up and hopped onto her nest while were out there.  I whispered under my breath for Tim to notice and the silly man tried to take a picture!  Of course, she flew off and then went into an argumentative rebuttal that had us both chuckling.

I tried to reason with momma bird and explain that sometimes we just can't control our men.  She cocked her head as if to say, "Girl, don't I know it."  My hope is that she'll forget his mistake and earn our trust again.

Aside from me fussing at Tim to be nicer to our extended family, we did have a good conversation about God all because of the birds.  If He can take the time to create so many different types, who each sing a different tune, and knows all the feathers in their wings, plus provides for their every need, won't He do the same (or more) for his children?

And looking back over the view of lessons from the weekend, I think He was trying to tell me just that.  Do not worry about tomorrow (or what has happened in the past), simply enJOY today!

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