Where We’ve Been…

Thursday, June 30, 2011 10 Comments A+ a-

The last few days I was pretty silent on the Twitter and Facebook.  Jon got this bright idea in his head that I needed to stop telling the internets that our house was empty and thus tempting the burglars to ransack our house.  So we I didn’t tell anyone that we were invited on an impromptu camping trip with some friends.CampingCollage1

It was great to get away, despite the fact that Mandy and I have decided that about 3 days is all we can handle in a campsite.  Despite the fact that there 6 Littles ages 6 and under… not counting the one that Mandy is currently baking.  Despite the fact that the mosquitos were the worst I’ve seen in a long time.  Despite the fact we were skunked while fishing.  Despite the fact that we ended the trip with a visit to Urgent Care to find out that Jon had a hairline fracture in his foot.  (Don’t ask…)  CampingCollage2

I kid, I kid.  (Except for that last part, that really happened.)  It was a great trip!   It involved fishing and riding bikes, walks and moose hunts (the Littles have a great imagination), flower picking and smores, camp fires and naps.  I’m so happy we got away for a few days and nights.  And it was especially wonderful to get away with such dear friends.CampingCollage3

I saw this on another blog the other day and HAD to steal it and share it here.  It made me chuckle because so much of it, is SO true!

I love the mountains. I love the cool nights. I love, I LOVE my Denver Broncos. I love the snow. I love the 360 days of sunshine a year. I love Colorado beer. I love the people...I love it all. Which is why I am never ever going to leave...MountainCollage1

I like:

  • That we put the heat and the A/C on all in one day.
  • That people here actually know what a '14 er' is (and I like you even more if you have climbed them, like yours truly).
  • That we are are able to drive 65 miles per hour through 13 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without even flinching.
  • That April Showers bring May Blizzards
  • That when we go to visist our friends at sea level, we can have a case of beer without even getting a buzz.
  • That we know where the real "South Park" is.
  • That most of us have gone skiing in June and golfing in January.

MountainCollage2

  • We have no recognizable accent.
  • We voted for higher taxes to fund Coors field, but voted down taxes for public transportation.
  • We have broken windshields.
  • We have people with business degrees who are frying burgers at a McDonald's in Vail.
  • We own big dogs named Aspen, Buck, Cheyenne or Dakota and they sleep in our beds.
  • We cast out our fishing line while white-water rafting.
  • We are meat eating vegetarians
  • We can use "checking for ticks" as an excuse to get someone naked.
  • We get a certain feeling of satisfaction from knowing that California and Texas are both downstream
  • We know the elevation of a town, but not its population.

I just love Colorado for a million reasons...

Ditto.

Just Fishing

Friday, June 24, 2011 5 Comments A+ a-

Jon and I were flipping through the channels and settled on CMT for a bit. We saw a preview of Big and Rich's movie debut in the Footloose remake. (Side note. Very sexy dancing. I told Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough to get a room.) Other music videos came on, we paid them little attention. They mostly provided background noise while Jon and I talked about our plans for the day.

Then Trace Adkins song, Just Fishin' came on and we both stopped. I watched as a little girl stood next to this big bulk of a man, on the side of a river, fishing together. As the lyrics brought a smile to my face, I exchanged a look with Jon. And I got it. I finally understood the point of all his fishing trips. Whether its by himself, with the brothers, his dad, Grandpa, and now his own Littles, its not about the fishing. And my heart was lost to him again. I know I got a good man.


JUST FISHIN'
Trace Adkins


I'm lost in her there holdin' that pink rod and reel
She's doin' almost everything but sittin' still
Talkin' 'bout her ballet shoes and training wheels
And her kittens
And she thinks we're just fishin'

I say, "Daddy loves you, baby" one more time
She says, "I know. I think I got a bite."
And all this laughin', cryin, smilin' dyin' here inside's
What I call, livin'

And she thinks we're just fishin' on the riverside
Throwin' back what we could fry
Drownin' worms and killin' time
Nothin' too ambitious
She ain't even thinkin' 'bout
What's really goin' on right now
But I guarantee this memory's a big'in
And she thinks we're just fishin'

She's already pretty, like her mama is
Gonna drive the boys all crazy
Give her daddy fits
And I better do this every chance I get'
Cause time is tickin'(Yeah it is)

And she thinks we're just fishin' on the riverside
Throwin' back what we could fry
Drownin' worms and killin' time
Nothin' too ambitious
She ain't even thinkin' 'bout
What's really goin' on right now
But I guarantee this memory's a big'in

And she thinks we're just fishin'
She ain't even thinkin' 'bout
What's really goin' on right now
But I guarantee this memory's a big'in

And she thinks we're just fishin'
Yeah, aww, she thinks we're just fishin'

We ain't only fishin'
(This ain't about fishin')

Chapter 2

Thursday, June 23, 2011 7 Comments A+ a-

You can read Chapter 1 by clicking here and here.

Aubrey was chopping peppers to add to her fajitas and singing along to the golden oldies playing in the background.  She had changed after church and was dancing around the kitchen in denim jeans and a soft, green fleece top.  Thomas leaned against the doorjamb as he made his way in from the garage.  He’d intended to go straight into the study and shoot off an email to his old college friend, Neil, but the sight of his wife’s wriggling hips was a view he didn’t want to pass up.  He raised an eyebrow when Aubrey tried hitting a high note with Gloria Estefan.  Not the best he’s heard but Aubrey loved singing, whether she was good at it or not.

Unable to resist the hips any longer, he stepped behind his wife and pulled her into his arms.  Aubrey showed just a hint of surprise and then laughingly joined him in some salsa dance moves.  They’d taken dance lessons for their 18th wedding anniversary and both agreed it had been a wise investment and had probably even saved their marriage.  They wowed family and friends at wedding receptions and occasionally snuck out to a local dance club on Salsa night to spend the night dancing and flirting.  It brought a flame back to a marriage that had grown mundane and tired.  Thomas was forever thankful that God had used such a simple thing to bring new energy to the most important relationship in his life, especially before he’d made a tragic misstep.

Gloria’s song ended and a commercial break began.  Laughing and a little breathless from the dancing, Aubrey threw her arms around his neck, careful not to knick him with the paring knife that was still in her right hand.  Thomas brought his head down and rested his forehead against hers; a familiar stirring started in his gut and he felt her heartbeat accelerate to match his.  She lifted her face just an inch higher and the two were soon caught up in a passionate kiss.  “This,” she thought, “is everything to me.  How did I get so lucky?”  As Thomas deepened the kiss, Aubrey was taken away by the depth of his passion for her.  32 years later and she knew that Thomas still desired her as he’d had when they first married.  Soon the kitchen faded into the background as Thomas and Aubrey focused on the moment.

Suddenly the back screen slammed against the house and Thomas groaned against Aubrey’s lips.  “I thought they’d all moved out,” he growled.  She gave a shaky laugh as the kitchen righted itself again. 

“Yes, Handsome, but its Sunday and you invited everyone over for dinner, remember?  Besides, our door has always been an open door.”  She pecked his lips and returned to her place at the counter.  He leaned over her shoulder and answered, “Yes, but now I’m going to have to hide in the study until my temperature has cooled.”  He grinned into her blue eyes, “Why do you have to be so sexy?”  And with that he bounded up the stairs and disappeared into the study.

Aubrey smiled to herself and selected another red pepper from the pile.  Brooke made her way into the kitchen and draped her long legs around a kitchen stool.  Aubrey looked at her youngest daughter and as always, was jolted at how her daughter had grown into such a beautiful woman; long and lanky, curly, long blond hair, and a dimple in the corner of her right cheek.  But the amazing part was that Brooke was just as beautiful on the inside too, and very unaware of her outside beauty.  Brooke leaned across the counter, gave her mom a quick squeeze around the neck, and then noticed the red tinge to her mom’s face.

“Mom, you’ve been making out with Dad again, haven’t you?” she teased.

“Pshaw, Brookie, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Aubrey responded.  It was a well-rehearsed bit, one that had been perfected over years of use.  It’d started when Brooke was in junior high and had walked in on Aubrey and Thomas locked in a passionate moment in the middle of their kitchen.  It wouldn’t have been so bad except that Brooke brought home a school friend with her and like all thirteen year old girls, was sure she was going to die of embarrassment on the spot.

“Yes, you do; check out the red on your cheeks!  It must have been some kiss!”  While Brooke had been embarrassed in that moment; it was later, in the privacy of her bedroom that her friend had told her she thought it was cool her parents still kissed like that.  “It must mean they actually like each other still,” the friend had said.  And then, in whispered tones, her friend confided that she wished her parents still acted like that, instead of the constant fighting she heard day-in and day-out.  At the moment, Brooke realized how lucky she was to have parents who still loved each other.  And maybe, just maybe, the kissing wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Aubrey cleared her throat, as if to rid herself of the embarrassment, and then decided to give Brooke a sly wink.  “The man can kiss, what can I say?” 

“Oh, Mom!  I don’t want to hear about it.”  Brooke pretended to be disgusted at the idea of her father being a good kisser, but secretly knew she wanted what her parents had… someday, maybe. 

“How was the drive down?” Aubrey asked.  The state university was over two hours away and while it killed her to have her baby that far away, she realized how lucky she was to have all three daughters within a two-hour driving radius.  A lot of her friends had children and grandchildren scattered all over the country.  The thought of her babies, both grown and young, being that far away made her sick.  But she wasn’t naïve enough to think it would always be that way; she realized that she might have to face that reality someday.

“It was good; the roads were pretty wet from the melting snow but it was a good day for a drive,” Brooke answered.  She’d inherited her mother’s desire for empty roads and a full tank of gas for her thinking times.  She leaned in and snitched a pepper from the cutting board, laughing as Aubrey shot her a disproving look.  “Mom, you should have been at the university yesterday.  Sean Pickler was amazing; I never thought I’d see a state campus so on fire for God.  I mean, when I look back at my freshman year…  It’s like it’s a completely different campus.”  She paused.  “Do you remember when you dropped me off on the first day?  I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so shocked.” 

Aubrey grimaced at the memory.  “I wanted to bundle you up, put you back in the car, and vow never to let you step foot on a campus again.  I was literally afraid to step foot in your room, who knew what stuff had seeped into that carpet!”  It was true, the state university was nationally known for its liberal and partying ways.  It was definitely not the ideal place for their precious, innocent baby, but any time she or Thomas tried to deter their youngest from attending, Brooke dug in her heels even more.  And in the end they realized that their time was done, it was now up to Brooke to stay the path they hoped she would.  Aubrey continued, “I can’t tell you how many times your father and I have been on our knees to pray for your time there.”

Brooke nodded; never did she doubt her parents’ faith to God and their promise to pray for their children.  She was certain their prayers had saved her more than once in her 22 years.  She leaned her elbows on the counter and tipped the stool onto two legs.  Before long, mother and daughter were engrossed in a conversation about the best-selling author and his view on the Christian life.  It was a conversation between two adult woman, each of who respected the other’s opinion, and colorful in explanations or rebuttals.  Each challenged the other and more often than not, the younger deferred to the older who was wiser from both age and experience.

Car doors slammed outside and moments later a little voice could be heard from the entryway. “Hey, where is everyone?” four-year-old Emily demanded of the house.  Thomas was already making his way downstairs, anxious to greet his young granddaughter.  He swept her off the floor and placed her on his shoulders.  “Hey, little one.  Remember me?” he asked.  She giggled and placed a kiss on the top of his head.

He turned toward the door as his oldest struggled to enter the house with the diaper bag, baby carrier, and coats, all on her arm.  He moved forward to help and grabbed the baby carrier from her hands.  Jessica flashed a thank-you in her smile and moved the rest of the way into the house. 

“Where’s Rob?” Thomas asked as he unbuckled Wyatt from his seat. 

Jessica sighed and placed everything in a heap on the chair in the living room.  There were a lot of emotions in that sigh and she exchanged a look with her father.  “Not now,” her eyes seemed to say and gestured at Emily sitting atop his shoulders.  “Daddy had to go to work, didn’t he, punkin?” she informed Thomas as she gathered Wyatt into her arms.  “He might stop by later.” 

Jessica kept her tone light to maintain a sense of normalcy for the sensitive Emily, but Thomas had been Jessica’s father for 30 years and knew there was more to the story than she was letting on.  Thomas gathered both daughter and baby into his arms for a hug.  Jessica snuggled into her father’s arms and placed her head on his shoulder.  No matter how old she got, nor how many responsibilities she had as a parent herself, there was something so strong and reassuring about her father’s arms.  Wyatt squirmed, not liking the close quarters of a three-way hug… four if you counted Emily.  

Jessica looked her father in the eye, still amazed how identical the shade of their eyes matched, “Thanks Daddy, I needed that.”  She jostled Wyatt on her hip and joined her mom and sister in the kitchen.  Thomas forced himself to relax, knowing Emily would pick up on the smallest stress, the slightest change in demeanor.  He heard Brooke coo over her baby nephew and Aubrey’s laugh as she coaxed Wyatt into her arms.  He swung Emily around until they were face-to-face, “Ok, little one, what’s the plan until dinner?” 

She gathered his face between her palms, leaned in until they were nose-to-nose, and in her pixie voice said, “Checkers.  I’m going to beat you at checkers.”  His heart melted into a puddle right there on the floor and before he could gather it back up, she was leading him up the stairs to the study. 

                                                -----------------------------------------------


Dinner was chaotic, as it always was when they all gathered together to share a meal.  Abby and Kyle had arrived moments after Jessica and the kids; Abby congregated in the kitchen and Kyle helped Emily strategize in beating Grandpa at checkers.  The two made a strong team and Thomas admitted defeat several times before dinner.  They waited as long as possible for Rob but when he didn’t arrive, they gathered around the table to enjoy the Mexican feast Aubrey and the girls had prepared.

Topics varied from political to religious to celebrity gossip and back again.  Emotions ran high and opinions were strong.  The Cooper family was a passionate bunch; Thomas and Aubrey had done their best to instill in their girls a strong sense of self and it had paid off, in spades.  All three women knew her heart, knew her passions and her opinions, and fought fervently to be heard.  When the girls were teenagers, there were countless times when Thomas and Aubrey stepped in as referee, and forced the girls to “take a break”.  They cried bitterly over hurt feelings and misunderstandings but always managed to come back for round two.  And all three were stronger for it in the end.  Every once in a while when a word was said strongly or there was a rise in voice, little Emily would glance up fearfully.  A comforting smile from Mom, Nana, or Grandpa was all she needed to relax again.  And surprisingly Wyatt always slept through the entire thing. 

As their girls discussed the need for a new governor or whether the current governor should be given a second term, Thomas and Aubrey exchanged a look over the heads of their family.  Both were amazed and awed at how far they’d come since their first date all those years ago.  This was theirs, their blessing from God, the legacy they were leaving to the rest of the world.  They vowed never to take this time, this family for granted; it had happened once before and both were determined to never let it happen again.

As the dinner ended, the girls started clearing the table and taking the dishes and conversation into the kitchen.  Kyle grabbed Emily and Wyatt and headed for the TV in the other room, whispering something about a movie and a nap.  Soon the sounds of Belle singing of her love of books filled the silence of the dining room and Aubrey knew that Kyle’s eyes were probably already closed while Emily sat transfixed in front of Beauty and The Beast.  Aubrey rose from her chair and crossed the room to Thomas.  She laid her hand on his head and bent to kiss his graying hair.  “God is good, isn’t He?” she whispered in his ear.

He nodded, and searched her eyes, knowing she’d see the concern there.  “Yes, He is, but I can’t help but wonder if Jessie and Rob feel the same way.  Did you notice the hurt in her eyes?” 

Aubrey nodded and tried swallowing the lump in her throat.  “She wants to stay later than the others to talk about it.  I told her it would be fine.”  She paused, afraid to ask.  “Do you know what’s going on?”

He shook his head, “No idea.  Rob has seemed distant and restless lately, but I just assumed he was overworked. ” Aubrey nodded in agreement and opened her mouth to respond when the sound of raised voices reached her ear.  She sighed, “I’d better get in there before they kill each other.  You’d think they would’ve outgrown this by now.”

Thomas laughed the deep laugh that meant he found something hysterically funny.  “If they weren’t snapping at each other, then we would have cause for concern.”  And as if on cue, all three girls started giggling, the previous argument obviously forgotten.  He pulled Aubrey into his lap and there she stayed for the duration of the kitchen cleaning.  The sound of magic characters coming from one room, the camaraderie of three sisters coming from the other, and in-between both, the quiet prayers of a couple turning to their God for answers.

Wordless Wednesday - Stop Growing Edition

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 2 Comments A+ a-

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

A Midsummer Night's Swap

Monday, June 20, 2011 4 Comments A+ a-

Sarah, Malisa, and I have put our heads together to come up with a fun summer pick-me-up. After some brainstorming and numerous email exchanges we have come up with A Midsummer Night’s Swap! We think it would be a lot of fun to swap things that we would use on a summer night among all of the fun bloggers out there.


HERE'S HOW IT WORKS:
1.  Become a follower of one of our blogs that you are not already a follower of (if you don’t already follow all of us):
2.  Fill out the form and submit!  You must submit the form by July 5.

3.  Leave a comment below to let everyone know you are participating.

4.  Grab our A Midsummer Night’s Swap button below, and tell your friends / fellow bloggers about this fun summer swap! Blog about it, tweet about it, put it on Facebook and even put the button on your side bar! The more the merrier!


AFTER JULY 5TH
1. By July 9th you will get an email from one of us giving you information on your swap partner. We will mix and match people from all of our blogs. Get to know your partner by going to their blog and emailing one another.

2.  Go shopping to find an item that you would use on a summer evening! We have come up with some examples to get you started:
  • Grilling sauces
  • Corn on the cob handle things
  • Citronella candles
  • Small tiki torches
  • Outdoor lights
  • Napkin rings
  • Fun plastic or disposable plates
  • Picnic blanket
  • Ice cream scoop
  • Ice cream bowls
  • Tablecloth/placemats
  • CDs with songs that remind you of summer
  • Kabob sticks
  • Marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers for s’mores
  • Scents that remind you of summer
Please, don’t spend more than $20 on your swap item.

3. Mail out your swap package by July 18th.

4. When you get your package, blog about it! Be sure to link back your partner and show us a picture of your fun gift.  Also - come back to our blogs on July 25th to link back up and show others what you got in the swap.

Yes, I have everything under control. Why do you ask?

Thursday, June 16, 2011 10 Comments A+ a-

This is my life.

Polaroid1It consists of herding 4 Littles through the grocery store, leaving as little damage as possible in our wake.  I consider it a successful trip if I make it through one grocery shopping trip without raising my voice more than five times.  Seriously.

Usually Reagan will be in the front part of the cart, Ashlynn in her sling or Beco carrier, and Devyn and Hudson walking beside me.  I even ran into a former coworker once with that very set-up and she looked at me with complete pity.  I’m here to tell you, I might look crazy and frazzled (and I probably am), but secretly I’m doing ok.  Probably even loving it.

Today I left the Beco at home, and we went to the new grocery store so OF COURSE we had to take the cart with the car in front.  And Devyn NEEDED to try out the mini-carts (genius idea, by the way!).  I was stopped numerous times by other patrons wanting to know if they were all mine, to tell me how busy I must be, to ask the kids if they were being good helpers, and was told that I have a beautiful family.  “Thank you,” I reply.  “I think so too!”

About 3/4 of the way through our shopping trip is when things started going downhill.  We were playing musical chairs from the car part of the cart, to sitting next to Ashlynn, to driving the mini-cart.  My eyes were wide as I whispered to the kids to stop running the cart into the backs of my legs, I jiggled the key chain to keep Ashlynn from full-fledged crying, and apparently I wasn’t paying to attention to Reagan in the car.

I smiled pleasantly as a group of about five Grocery Store Executives In Suits walked towards me.  It was my way of trying to fake as though I had everything under control.  A façade that came to a crashing halt when one of the suited men whispered, “You know she’s eating an opened package of hot dogs, right?” and pointed to the 2-year-old girl. 

I gasped and moved to the front of cart, looked down into a pair of blue eyes round with innocence, just as she stuffed another bite of hot dog in her mouth.  I turned red.  Bright red.  And began to apologize profusely.  Just then one of the executives moved to stand next me, camera in hand, and bent down to encourage Reagan (demolished bag of hot dogs in hand) to smile for her close-up.

One thing I learned today… Its nearly impossible to discipline a child for bad behavior with five grown men in suits cooing and laughing at how adorable she is. 

Sigh.  I have no doubt this is just a taste of things to come with our Reagan.

Polaroid2

Chapter 1 (continued)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 7 Comments A+ a-

You can click here to read the 1st part of Chapter 1.  In the future, I’m just going to post whole chapters, even if it does make for a LONG read.

Thomas walked into the kitchen to find his wife, Aubrey, seated in the breakfast nook. In their 35 years of marriage, he known that he’d find her with a bible propped open on the table before her, a cup of steaming coffee at her elbow, and her eyes closed as she was lost in prayer. He absently brushed a hand over her rich, mahogany hair before going to the counter to pour his own mug of coffee. He leaned against the counter and watched his wife over the top of his mug; it never ceased to amaze him that Aubrey had agreed to spend her life with him. Oh, he knew she wasn’t without faults, but watching her in this way, knowing that she was bringing her concerns to their Lord morning after morning, well, it was a huge motivation for him to do the same. She was an amazing woman.

As if sensing his thoughts, Aubrey lifted her face and her striking blue eyes met his gray ones. She smiled contentedly, raised her arms in a stretch, and rose from the table. Thomas watched as she closed her bible, her journal, and then placed them on the top shelf of the pantry. Aubrey was a creature of habit, something she’d adamantly deny. Every morning was the same, like clockwork. Just like Thomas knew that her next move was to stand beside him at the counter to discuss their plans for the day. She leaned in and settled into the crook of his arm, the place that he always felt had been designed just for her. He brushed his lips against her forehead and he gave her a squeeze. He remained silent, knowing that something was on her mind.

She turned to the sink and rinsed out her empty mug. The view of the bright blue sky above her kitchen sink drew her attention. There was still a good seven inches of snow on the ground but the forecasters were calling for temps in the mid-fifties. In the middle of February, those numbers were unheard of and it was predicted that records would be broken today. She knew she’d wander outside some time today; maybe for a walk to enjoy the conflicting sensations of cold under her feet and the warm air on her face.

She turned back to her husband and the problem that was clouding her mind. “I’m worried about Abby,” she said. Thomas nodded, willing her to continue.

“Something’s wrong with her, Tommy. I just know it; I feel it. I was praying this morning, and God laid her so heavily on my heart. I don’t know what I’m praying for; I just know that she’s not doing well.” She sighed. She knew that God had given her a gift of prophecy; a gift that she’d honed and mastered at God’s hands. She was never able to predict the future, she just experienced feelings and time had taught her to pay attention to them. While she knew that she could count on God to bring her middle daughter through whatever valley she was traveling, she worried nonetheless. Such was the plight of a mother.

Thomas reached for Aubrey and pulled her into a close hug. “Aubrey, I know. I see the haunted look in her eyes, as you do. I feel like she’s barely treading water right now.” When Aubrey started to pull back, Thomas pulled her even closer. “Abigail was always our private one, the one who held things close to her chest. Let’s trust that she’ll turn to God and Kyle for whatever she needs and in the mean time, you and I can be on our knees for her.” He paused. “Do you want to pray now?” he asked.

When Aubrey nodded her head against her chest, Thomas led them into communion with God. Aubrey felt the weight lift from her heart; never did she feel closest to Thomas than when they went to God together. She listened to the soothing cadence of his words, nodding in agreement with him on trusting the Lord with their daughter. At the end of it, they both whispered “Amen” and ended it with a squeeze, as though offering one another strength.

Turning back to the day at hand and with a twinkle in her eyes, Aubrey teased Thomas, “Come on old man, take me for a drive.” It was a past time that they’d often enjoyed together; driving on a clear day, allowing themselves to get lost on the back country roads. She gave a sassy smile, one that transformed her into the young girl he’d fallen in love with, and with swaying hips, she left the kitchen; the keys to the convertible in her hands.

He looked after her, chuckling to himself. She was a riot, that woman of his, and so much fun. The smile fell from his face as a troubled feeling settled in his stomach. This feeling had been around for days, weeks if he were to be completely honest with himself. He knew God was preparing him for something, of what, he didn’t know. He pulled back his shoulders, as if to brace himself from whatever may come his way. It was no use dwelling or guessing what it might be, whatever it was, he would handle it with God’s help and with Aubrey by his side. They’d been through trying times in the past, and they’d gotten through them together. Why should the future be any different?

“I’m waiting,” she called to him from the garage.

He moved from the counter, grabbed his driving cap, and knew he’d have to fight Aubrey for driving rights. It was going to be a gorgeous day.

A New Perspective

Monday, June 13, 2011 7 Comments A+ a-

Several weeks ago Jon went to the store to buy some milk and cereal because we’d run out.  He came home with a pained look on his face, and sat down on the couch with a heavy sigh.  The grocery bags at his feet.  I was about to berate him for not taking the bags into the kitchen, but the look on his face stopped me.  It was the look of a man who’d been given a wake-up call.  And before I could ask him if everything was ok, he proceeded to tell me about his shopping trip.

He’d gone in, put the things we needed into the cart, even adding a few items we didn’t need.  He made his way to the front and got into a checkout line behind one other woman.  As he loaded the conveyer belt with our groceries, he couldn’t help but notice the few items the woman had.  A 1/2 gallon of milk, some bread, some other very basic items.  As the checker rang up her groceries, the woman was counting out change.  It soon became apparent to Jon that the woman was using every last penny to pay for the groceries.  He even overheard the woman tell the cashier how bad she felt about raiding her children’s piggy banks that morning.

The total came up on the display and the woman’s face fell.  It was more than what she had with her, and as she started making the decision about which items to take out of the bag, Jon leaned forward and gave her the rest of what she needed.  She thanked him profusely, telling him that it would come back around, that he’d be blessed for that small gesture.  She even went so far as to apologize for the circumstances that got her into this situation.  None of which Jon wanted to hear, even telling her none of it mattered to him.  She thanked him once more and out the door she went.

After he finished his story, he reached over and gave me a huge hug.  “Jenn,” he said, “I forget how rich we really are…”

I don’t tell you this story to toot Jon’s horn or brag about something Jon did, because quite simply I have no doubt that many of us would have done the same in that situation.  I share it because I have not stopped thinking about this story since it happened. 

I can’t tell you how many times I resent the fact that our bank account balance isn’t higher… Or how anxious I get every time a new doctor’s bill shows up in our mailbox…  Or how much easier our lives would be if we could just buy x, y, or z.  There was one day in particular where I’d paid a hefty medical bill that resulted in draining most of our savings account.  The anxiety washed over me and I can’t begin to describe the feelings of defeat that I felt.  But then Jon’s story came to mind and in an instant a peace came over me. 

I could continue focusing on the things we didn’t have and I will always end up feeling like I can’t measure up.  Or I could focus on the things we have been blessed with and feel like one of the richest women in the world.  And you know what?  I am.  We have full cupboards and fridge, we have a roof over our heads and place to lay our heads at night, we have running water and heat and room to run.  We are so very rich.

Its amazing what a difference in perspective can do for the soul.

A Little of This and That

Sunday, June 12, 2011 0 Comments A+ a-

It’s been a long while since I’ve written an actual post, and since this is my journal of sorts, I have a lot to catch up on.  Please bear with me as I inundate you with a ton of nonsensical updates.

WashingtonCollageI can’t believe I’m the last to write about our trip to Washington, but I am.  Kudos to Courtney and Kelsey for getting it up the week after we got back.  I also need to confess that I borrowed pictures since I didn’t even take my camera.

It was an incredible trip.  I really don’t think I can do our girls weekend justice with words.  I will say that it was one of the best weekends of my life!  A weekend in which we were able to be as open, vulnerable, and transparent with someone that you’ve usually known a lifetime.  But truth be told, I have always felt like I’ve known Amy my entire life.  It was crazy to see how much alike Kelsey and Courtney were; Kelsey would say something and it was déjà vu since Courtney had likely said the exact same thing in previous conversations.

The night before we left for our trip, Courtney’s husband, Jeremy, prayed that God would bless our weekend away as sisters and He truly did.  Courtney and I have come a long in a way in our relationship and we have never been closer than we are right now.  Courtney, thank you for the wonderful Christmas gift (and birthday gift… for the next 10 years) of our weekend away.  It was such a blessing!  PS  Thank you for the beautiful pictures, Andi!

NewDesignsCollage2I have updated the Munchkin Land Designs Gallery with 15 new designs.  I’m currently working on 4 designs, and have another 6 designs coming up this week.  I am humbled at how God has blessed me with this business.  Its been a wonderful creative outlet for me, while allowing me to bring home some extra income for our family.

But truth be told, I’m no longer a stay-at-home-mom and would be more aptly described as a working-at-home-mom.  And while I’m grateful for the opportunity, it brings with it a whole new set of struggles such as balancing time with the kids and corresponding with clients or figuring out the best times to work on designs and still get stuff around the house finished.  Currently I work on designs during nap time and after kids go to bed.  So far its working for us, but there are times I fail miserably on either side of the spectrum.

WeddingCollageDevyn and Hudson were in a wedding this past weekend.  It was the wedding of Jon’s cousin, Tim to a beautiful woman named Amy.  I met Amy at the family cabin a few years ago and fell instantly in love with her.  She is so beautiful, warm, and genuine.  As I called it when Brock brought Holly home, I knew Amy was Tim’s “one” by the time we left that weekend.  They are so beautifully matched, similar in so many ways.  They’re both artists; Tim is a musical artist (you can check out articles here and here and here, a truly talented man) and Amy is currently in art school.  And they are both middle children.  So suffice it to say, laidback and easy-going is an understatement when describing these two.

We were honored when they asked Devyn and Hudson to be in the wedding, especially since Tim was a musician in our wedding and his younger brother was one of our own ring bearers. 

Armed with the requirements of a gray tie and yellow sundress, they were ready to do their jobs.  This is the 3rd wedding they’ve been flower girl and ring bearer in two years, and they finally got the hang of it.  At Courtney and Jeremy’s wedding, Hudson spiked the pillow at the end of the aisle.  At Brock and Holly’s wedding, Hudson didn’t even make it down the aisle.  But at Tim and Amy’s wedding, they did a magnificent job.  And I’m sure it had NOTHING to do with the goodie bags waiting for them at the end of their walk.  Pure genius, Miss Amy, pure genius.

There’s so much more to catch up on, but Miss Ashlynn has fallen asleep next to me, while sitting up no less.  If that’s not a clear call for bed time, I don’t know what is…

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, June 08, 2011 11 Comments A+ a-

Devyn2Reagan1Ashlynn2

Chapter 1

Monday, June 06, 2011 18 Comments A+ a-

To read the why behind posting this (very) rough draft, click here.

She could hear the squawks from the baby monitor. They were invading her dreams, a very sweet dream which involved a beach, the blue of a calm ocean, and her own little servant. Juan, her servant boy, brought her a new drink whenever the cup carrying the mango-concoction emptied. It was warm, relaxing, and, in a word, divine. Suddenly the crying was calling her from her tropical haven and she opened a bleary eye, trying to decide between chucking a pillow at the monitor or just snapping it off. Before she could choose, an arm snaked around her middle and drew her close.

“Jessie,” came her husband’s sleepy sigh. “Do you think Wyatt would notice if we went back to sleep for a couple of hours?” he asked.

Jessica smiled to herself, a bit humored at the idea of 10-month-old Wyatt having to fend for himself. Surely Emily would be up soon and could take over the care of her brother. Doubtful at the ripe age of four, but she could dream, right? Rob’s arms pulled her closer and she could feel his body begin to relax as he started to doze off again. This was nice, this place between sleep and awake. She treasured their Saturday mornings when Rob got to sleep in and they could rest awhile in bed together.

Just then Wyatt’s whimpers turned into actual cries and she knew it was just a matter of time before those turned into actual screams. She poked Rob with her elbow, “1-2-3… not it!” She loved the idea of returning to slumber and letting Rob handle the little guy. Rob snorted, “You cheat! I wasn’t even fully awake.” She gave a saucy smile and turned back on her side, having every intention of returning to her tropical slumber. Suddenly she was flipped onto her back; she found herself nose-to-nose with her husband and staring into intense green eyes. He lovingly flicked her nose, “Cheaters never prosper.” And with a bounce of the mattress she watched her long-legged husband head out to answer Wyatt’s cries.

She listened to her husband murmur comfort to Wyatt and Wyatt’s answering giggles through the baby monitor. He was such a good dad. He never took their children for granted and always wanted to help in any way he could. She was blessed, of that she was certain. Soon Wyatt and Rob were making car noises together; crisis averted now that Wyatt’s diaper was dry and he had his dad’s attention. Jess breathed a quick prayer of thanks.

She heard the patter of little feet coming down the stairs and knew Emily was up for the day too. She listened as Emily settled herself in the nursery, and bombarded her daddy with question after question. They’d hit the “why” stage again and rarely did an answer pacify Emily’s curiosity. Yet Rob answered each question patiently, all while playing with Wyatt and keeping him occupied. Jessica sighed, knowing that the morning had started whether she was ready for it or not. She threw back the covers, grabbed her robe off the hook, and tied the belt as she made her way to the nursery to join her family.

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Abigail, Abby to family and friends, fumbled in the dark for the little stick that she knew was resting on her nightstand. Her mind barely registered the movement; it had become so routine to stick that little thermometer in her mouth before she stirred from bed. And as habits go, it mattered not that it was a Saturday morning. Rain or shine, weekday, weekend, or holiday, it was the first thing she did every day.

She waited for the little beep, indicating that her temperature had registered. She sighed, careful not to wake her sleeping husband. It was such an irony; this was the time in her cycle she hated, yet she couldn’t stop taking her temperature each morning. She analyzed each rise and dip of the temps; read into every twinge or pain; wondered whether or not this cycle might be the “magic” cycle for her and Kyle. She heard the beep and squinted in the early morning light, barely making out the digits. Her heart fall as her mind registered the drastic dip in temperature.

Her positive, optimistic side wanted to continue to hope. “Maybe it’s an implantation dip,” she thought. The other side, her cynical side, sneered. “Of course not, you twit! You know what that temp drop means; this cycle is over, and you now it!” Abby let the two sides battle it out while she swung her legs over the side of the bed. She now knew that the cramps she’d been feeling the other day were not signs of an impending baby, as she wished every month, but those of her monthly cycle. She double-checked to see that Kyle was still sleeping. She didn’t want to waken him just yet; ignorance was bliss, especially in moments like these.

She padded into the bathroom, determined to face the day with as much optimism as she could muster. This was going to be a hard day, and she should know, she’d been facing this kind of day for two years now. When she wiped, she saw the faintest tinge of pink, marking the official end of the twenty-fifth cycle of trying to conceive a child. Abby closed her eyes and leaned her head against the side of the counter; her heart broke for a second time that morning and she felt it as physically as she felt the edge of the counter digging into her forehead. The tears sprang hotly to her eyes and she did nothing to stop them from coming. She needed this time to mourn another lost opportunity of becoming a mother.

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Unaware of the turmoil her sister was facing, Brooke was making her way across campus with her roommate, Holly. The two friends were anxious to get to the conference that their local Campus Crusade was putting on for the day. The conference was featuring a young author whose book had recently reached the best seller list, surprising since it was a book focused on igniting a new generation of Christians. Both Brooke and Holly had read the book, studied it in their small groups, and both felt challenged in their Christian walks as they had not been for years. It was exciting to see what God was going to do on their campus this morning, and in the months to come.

Holly was not one for waking before 10:00 and felt that 8:30 in the morning was an inhumane way to spend a Saturday morning. Heck, she often didn’t wake until 15 minutes before she had to be in class. She yawned her way through their conversation. “What do you mean he wants to “take a break”?” she asked of Brooke.

Brooke shrugged her slim shoulders and burrowed her hands deeper into her coat pocket. “I knew things had been off for a while, I just assumed he was stressed out with applications for graduate school. I had no idea that he was thinking about breaking up.”

Holly arched a perfect, auburn-colored eyebrow and answered with a slight, “Hmmmmm.” She never did care for the guy that Brooke started seeing at the beginning of the fall semester. By all accounts, Jason Reed seemed like the perfect catch; a pastor’s son from a thriving church on the east coast; the very definition of tall, dark, and handsome; he led a bible study in his off-campus apartment; and had pursued Brooke for a whole year before she gave in and started dating him. Holly’s perception of Jason was that he seemed a little too smooth, a little too full of himself for the likes of Brooke, but she’d kept her opinions to herself. Holly hooked her arm through Brooke’s, “Oh well, Brookie, it’s his loss, you know.”

A shadow slipped into Brooke’s eyes, Jason’s rejection was hurting more than she cared to admit. There seemed to be more to the story than Jason was wiling to let on but Brooke’s trustful nature wanted to take his words at face value. “Brooke, its not you, the timing just stinks right now. I’m up to my eyeballs in school work and if I want to get into the graduate program back home, I have to concentrate. You’re too much of a distraction.” All of this was said with regret on his face and a kiss on her hand. She’d smiled at him, assured him that she wasn’t upset, and left his apartment. She’d planned on going back to her place but decided that a movie was just what the doctor ordered. And there in the dark theater, sitting by herself, Brooke allowed herself to shed some tears about a lost relationship, one she wasn’t even sure she’d wanted in the first place.

Brooke and Holly walked the rest of the way in companionable silence, each lost in their own thoughts and opinions of Jason Reed. When they reached the steps of the campus’ auditorium, their thoughts turned back to the day’s agenda. There was an excitement in the air, coeds were chattering among themselves and calling out to friends that were joining them for the day. Holly dashed off to visit with a friend from her anatomy class and Brooke shook away the memories of the night before. She’d been looking forward to this conference for months and nothing, not even Jason, was going to ruin her time today. She had a feeling that God was about to do some amazing things in her life.

…to be continued…

Putting It Out There

Sunday, June 05, 2011 6 Comments A+ a-

A couple of weeks ago our pastor gave a sermon on whether or not we were being obedient to God's calling on our life. As often is the case with babies, Ashlynn was particularly fussy this Sunday morning, and I was relegated to the area outside the sanctuary. My attention ping-ponged between Pastor Jim's words and entertaining Ashlynn. But let me tell you, the words and message that I was able to grasp were a sucker-punch to my gut.

I'm fairly certain I know what God's calling on my life is and I also know that fear keeps me from obeying it. Fear of failing, fear of rejection, fear of being wrong. And its this fear that keeps me from even trying.

I've been sitting on this sermon for weeks. The words rolling around and around in my head as I grappled with myself and with God. And I feel it might be time to take some baby steps with what I feel is God's calling on my life.

Tomorrow I'm going to start posting sections of a book I started writing a couple of years ago. I'm doing this for a couple of reasons. One, I'd love your feedback on my writing. Seriously. I need it. I'm not intending to publish this story, but I think the experience will be good for me. And two, I need accountability. I can't tell you how many books and stories I've started, never to finish. Putting this out on the world wide web is going to give me the motivation I need to finish it.

Truth be told, I'm a little sick to my stomach as I get ready to share this part of my life. Its probably one of the most vulnerable parts of me and this will be the biggest audience to date I've shared my writing with. Up until now, only family and trusted friends have read my stuff. So I ask you to be kind. Please be honest, but kind as you do so.

*Gulp* Here goes nothing...

Summer Nights

Saturday, June 04, 2011 7 Comments A+ a-

Summer nights consist of…

PorchSwingingCollage…swinging on the porch…

BikeCollage…riding bikes…

HulahoopCollage…hula hooping and twirling…

WalkingCollage…cold beers and family walks…