Action, Instead of Words

Sunday, July 29, 2012 0 Comments A+ a-

Since I have no words, I thought I’d let someone else do the talking. 

So very thankful for a community that believes in the mantra, “Don’t Go to Church, BE the Church.”  Hope you’ll join us on Saturday, August 25th.  Its going to be an incredible opportunity to meet tangible needs of hurting people.  Sometimes life is just messy and a helping hand is needed.

US Outreach Promo from Convoy of Hope on Vimeo.

And a Time to be Quiet

Sunday, July 29, 2012 7 Comments A+ a-

I have been staring at a blinking cursor for well over a week now.  I swear its mocking me, the blinking cursor; daring me to type out the words that refuse to come.  If it had the ability to stick out its tongue at me, I’m sure it would have.

Don’t get me wrong, I have much I want to say.  But every time I pull up the screen to write, the words escape me.  I have a list of topics but I just can’t make the words jump from my mind to the screen.  Here’s just a small sampling of things that are perfectly worded and written.  In my head.

  • That 98.9% of the time, I am perfectly at peace and happy with our decision to be done having kids.  However, the other 1.1% of the time there’s a yearning, an ache, knowing that we’re done with that part of our lives.  This ache is especially painful around cute babies.  Note to self, avoid any place where I will be subjected to the squishy faces of infants.
  • The difference between religion and faith, and how too often the two words are used interchangeably. The fact of the matter is, they are two very different things.  And I prefer one over the other.
  • How much the Olympic Games remind me of The Hunger Games.  As someone said on Twitter the other night, I keep expecting someone to utter the words, “May the odds be ever in your favor.”
  • Friendships.  Especially how this season has changed such an important part of my life.  How I miss friends, old and new, dearly!  But in this season of life, time and energy is being poured into the lives of my Littles and husband.  There’s precious little leftover to give to friends in the way that I used to and desire to still.  Someday, I’ll have that back, but in the meantime, know I love you all and think of you often!
  • How grace and mercy and love are beautiful pieces to the puzzle.  Those words and actions have saved me more than once during my 32 years.  But it seems to me that the other parts, righteousness and absolute truths and holiness, are sadly missing from the equation.  The two sides must be equally balanced.  It’s a tension that God commanded, and one that is hard to maintain, but it shouldn’t be for lack of trying.
  • Remember the time when Hudson and Reagan were wrestling on the floor and suddenly Hudson started screaming in pain?!  I forgot to mention it?  Nothing, I repeat nothing, prepared me for the words that were uttered next.  “Reagan! Don’t bite my pen!s.”  Sigh.  Poor guy.  And totally a story that will be repeated often in the years to come.
  • Marriage and newlyweds.  Oh thank goodness for the newlywed stage, when everything is going just as it should and the future is bright and rosy and pink.  Because one day, you’ll look across the room, in the midst of a fight, and wonder why you thought this marriage thing was a good idea.  Its true.  But there’s beauty in the years after too.  And the knowledge that at the end of every valley, another mountain appears.  It gives us a reason to keep going, waiting for the next summit.

See?  I’m not without things to write about.  Just that the words don’t come.  And I’m learning to be ok with that.  Because often times, when the words don’t come, its because I’m being told to be quiet, to listen, to learn.  Apparently there’s a lot to teach me right now. 

The Summer of Grief

Friday, July 20, 2012 7 Comments A+ a-

sidebarquote3This summer will hereby be known as The Summer of Grief from here on out. A brutal summer.  In fact, I currently feel black and blue, emotions assaulted over and over again.  I can't make sense of any of it.

Its the summer our beloved mountains burned... the summer our grandmother was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, after suffering from a stroke and heart attack... and most recently, a movie massacre taking place in a town just 45 minutes from us, a place numerous family and friends call home.  I almost added the word finally to that sentence, but my fear is that there is still six weeks of summer left and who knows where that'll take us.

Every time I feel like I've exhausted my supply of tears, a new event unfolds.  I cried watching flames come over ridges. I cried watching a neighborhood in Colorado Springs be destroyed. I cried at the news of Grandma's cancer, then again as I realized there's a new normal where she's concerned. And this morning I cried as the anchor shared a story of a husband and wife at one hospital, while their 7-year-old daughter was taken to another hospital. All victims of gunshot wounds, at the hands of a mad man.

Some of these situations have affected me directly, some indirectly.  I'm not sure it matters.  Feeling helpless as a fire rages through mountains and homes is no different than feeling helpless to stop cancer's growth.  A night at the movies turned nightmare feels no more senseless than knowing some in the community watched their homes burn on the newscasts.  A loss of innocence has been felt across the nation.  I'm not sure I'll ever feel completely safe stepping into a movie theater again. I know for sure that I'll be looking for exit signs the minute we sit down.

I am officially over this summer. It has given us a beating that no one should have to endure. Its horrifying to see such devastating news associated with this state of ours.  I honestly feel like a battle is being waged and though I'm sure we'll all come out stronger in the end, we need a break.  I'm ready for this summer of grief to end.

A Strong Contender

Thursday, July 19, 2012 5 Comments A+ a-

IMG_20120719_151412Even though I’d just finished explaining to Reagan that “a little bit of sass is a good thing, a lot of sass will get her in trouble” (to which she now repeats back to me), I know that we have another strong contender closing ranks on the lead for “Most Strong Willed".  Her introduction would probably go something like this…
 
Hi.  My name is Ashlynn.  I’m the youngest of 4 kids and thought I might look petite and adorable, I assure you that looks can be deceiving.  If my older siblings can do it, I can do it better.  I may be small in size, but I have a will that more than makes up for it.  If anyone thinks they’re going to leave me behind, they’d better think again.
 
I wish I were kidding.
 
Just tonight, as I was tucking Hudson into bed, during the whole bedtime prayer, Ashlynn was kicking her legs against the side of the crib and against the window blinds.  After Hudson has finished, I leaned down into her face and told her no.  If she did it again, I was going to swat her hand.
 
She smiled innocently, so I turned back to Hudson to finish our bedtime routine.  Then I heard a strong kick.  I turned around and there she stood, all innocence and sweetness. She smiled at me and kept smiling until I swatted her hand.  Then she looked at me in horror, while big, crocodile tears trailed down her cheek.
 
I turned my back, and she kicked again.  Then I swatted her hand.  Big, crocodile tears.  Three more times of this. 
 
I finally leaned back down, and sternly said, “Ashlynn Rose. Enough! Do not kick the blinds again.”  Without taking her eyes from mine, she lifted those cute, toddler legs and kicked.
 
Y’all. I thought parenting was supposed to get easier as time goes on.  Me thinks that our most trying times are coming at the end, in the form of two sisters, just 23 months apart. 
 
 



But I leave you with a recording of Reagan’s bed time prayer.  I adore this girl, as sassy and strong willed as she is, she is also sweet.  And perfectly Reagan.  Enjoy!

Conversations With Hudson

Monday, July 16, 2012 5 Comments A+ a-

I wasn’t quite sure what he’d said.  Something about tic-tac-toe, so I asked him to repeat himself.

“Boys eat tic-tac-toes so they smell good and girls like them.”

Hmmmmm. No clue.  Then a light went off.

“Oh, Bud, do you mean tic tacs?” I asked.

“Yeah!  I’m eating tic tacs so I smell good, then a girl will like me and we’ll get married.”

It took everything in me to not smile, I had to bite the inside of my cheek very hard.  “Are you trying to get married already?”

“Yeah, I wanna get married.”

“Oh, ok.  Do you know who you’re going to marry?” I couldn’t believe this conversation was happening.  But then again, this was the same kid who yelled at his sister to move so he could watch the kissing scene in Night at the Museum, Battle of the Smithsonian.  I kid you not.

“Mama!  I don’t know who!”

Well, duh, I should’ve known that. “Well, is she nice?” I wondered. “Does she love Jesus?”

“I hope her does,” was Hudson’s response.  Then he continued, “But I don’t wanna kiss her.”

Well, this was a nice surprise.  Considering.  “Really, Bud?  But married people kiss.”

He paused.  “Well, I’ll just cover my eyes when it comes to the kissing part at the wedding.”  Then just like that the conversation turned to back to baseball and bad guys. 

Oh, I’m in trouble, my friends.  Big trouble.

No More Talk of Shoes

Monday, July 09, 2012 7 Comments A+ a-

"If you're waiting for the other shoe to drop, might as well let it sparkle." -- Wanda S. Horton pic via etsy

"If you're waiting for the other shoe to drop, might as well let it sparkle."   -- Wanda S. Horton

 
I remember the conversation well. 
 
A friend and I had met for coffee the week after Jon and I had returned from our idyllic weekend anniversary trip.  It had been an incredible getaway, one that allowed Jon and I to return to the days of dating.  In fact, the whole weekend felt like one, big, long date.  It had been perfect.  Really.
 
So perfect, in fact, that I told my friend (and I quote), “Life is so good right now.  Our marriage is stronger than ever and life just feels right.  In fact,” I whispered to her, “I keep wondering when the other shoe is going to drop.”
 
Yep, I said it.  And even as the words flew out of my mouth, I looked around the coffee shop for some wood to knock on.  Because we all know that just thinking those words is tempting fate.*
 
Well.  About 10 days later, with much humility and chargrin, I told that same friend, “The shoe dropped.  And it dropped hard.”  Little did I know, even then, that a full month later, the shoe would still be dropping.  It must have been dropped from The Burj Khalifa** because I really don’t think its hit the ground yet.
 
Some things I’ve written about, and some I have not.  Which is hard for an open book like myself.  I’m not one to pretend like my life is perfect when its not.  I feel like I’m missing the gene that can pretend everything’s a-ok, but personally, I find life is much easier when I can just be real.  And while some in my life think I’m too real, I can’t help it.  Its just who I am, and right now, while keeping some of these things private, I feel like I’m living in someone else’s skin.  Its an entirely uncomfortable feeling.
 
But I digress.
 
It started with the flooding of our bathroom.  Its been about a month and we still haven’t seen a check from the insurance company.  I guess the claim was just finalized this past Friday.  It’ll more than cover the repairs, especially when I have a handy husband who can do the work himself.  But I miss my master bath and am ready to stop sharing a bathroom with the Littles.
 
The marriage high from our weekend away?  It hit a few speed bumps and came to a screeching halt.  Even now, Jon and I can look back and laugh (a little) that perhaps we got a little too cocky about our relationship.  Perhaps.  Or perhaps we’re being refined through our current fire.  Who knows why.  The point is, as marriage goes, it ebbs and flows.  There’s up and downs, hills and valleys.  We’ve just come off a pretty high mountain and though we might be walking through our valley, I know (with 100% certainty) that’ll we come out stronger on the other side.  I’m already looking forward to our next hill and the view from the top.
 
Then Colorado became engulfed in fire.  Literally.  It felt like every time I turned on the news, a new fire had erupted in this gorgeous state.  We sat there, mouths agape, as the fire crept closer and closer to our town and loved ones.  We were on pins and needles as friends waited on word about their homes.  It was one of those times where you feel completely helpless, wanting to help but not knowing where to start.  It was a bone-deep sadness for those around us.
 
This past weekend brought the biggest blow of all.
 
My grandmother, Grandma Nancy to those that know us in real life, was rushed to the hospital on Friday.  About 2:00am, as she was making her way back to bed, she felt herself starting to fall, reached for the dresser with her left hand but it wasn’t working and she wedged herself between the bed and dresser, unable to move.  Long story short, after much maneuvering and needed daylight to see the numbers on her cell, she was finally able to call my aunt and uncle for help.
 
It was at the hospital that we were told she’d suffered both a stroke and heart attack.  But the doctor felt that something still wasn’t quite right and continued to run more tests.  It later that day that the doctor told Grandma, my mom, and her siblings, that Grandma also had cancer in her spine.  And since its rare for cancer to start in the bone at her age, chances are there is a primary cancer elsewhere in her body.  Talk about a 1, 2, 3 punch. 
 
The rest of the tests and scans were completed today, in what the doctor called “a cancer hunt.”  We don’t have the results from the tests yet, and I’ve decided the hardest part of this whole process is the waiting.  Living in this in-between, of hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.  Depending on tomorrow’s news, Grandma is probably being discharged to the same hospital that Mom was in for her Guillian-Barre syndrome three and a half years ago.  We know the place well.
 
And while Jon’s wife was dealing with the crisis of Grandma, Jon’s road was being overtaken by mudslides.  Yes, dear friends, the fire that swept through these mountains, taking so many trees and much vegetation, has created a perfect storm for mud and rock slides throughout the canyon.  It was one of the first times that Jon had to decide between the crisis at home or the crisis at work.  I know it was incredibly hard for him to hand over control to someone else, but I couldn’t have survived this weekend without him.  He always knew the right thing to say or do, to know when I needed a hug or shoulder, or when I need to not be touched.  But he has a mess to deal with come tomorrow morning.
 
Yes, life is hard right now.  It feels like every time we wrap our minds around one situation, another is thrown at us.  And we’re staying afloat (sometimes barely) but there’s hope.  Hope that at the end of it, we’ll be stronger.  Hope that no matter how hard this is, we’re not alone in it.  We have each other, we have Him.  In fact, this song is carrying both Jon and I through a lot of the hard moments right now.  I’m not sure how people live this life without that eternal hope, I know I couldn’t do it.  Life is hard right now, painful in fact.  But this isn’t forever, this too shall pass.
 
And as I told my friend in a text today, “Don’t let me talk about shoes anymore.”  I’ve learned my lesson.
 
* No, I don’t really believe in fates.
** No, I am not that smart.  I actually had to find out what the tallest building in the world was from Google.

4th of July via Instagram

Thursday, July 05, 2012 3 Comments A+ a-

IMG_20120704_095719Reagan says, “Happy 4th of July!”

 IMG_20120704_121225
And then there’s Ashlynn, who can barely contain her Independence Day excitement.

IMG_20120704_140010Deviling the eggs while waiting for the cheese potatoes to finish cooking.  Not shown.  The disaster that is my kitchen.

IMG_20120704_151408Hudson loves babies as much as his daddy does.

IMG_20120704_170707I think Lewis (actual spelling Louis) might be the most popular kid at this party.

IMG_20120704_170933We’ve reached this awkward stage of deciding whether to play with the other younger (horror!) kids or hang with the adults.

IMG_20120704_171223Jello shots another neighbor made.  They’re actually limes.  Too cute not to share.

IMG_20120704_191507This is what neighborhood parties are all about… wading pools, water fights, BBQs, bike riding, and doing life together. Blessed to live on such an amazing block.

IMG_20120704_195311Father-Son Washers yard game.

PicsArt_1341548724729Some of the amazing food we ate. It was a good, good day.

Revisiting a Good Reminder

Tuesday, July 03, 2012 2 Comments A+ a-

I originally posted this in May of 2011 and as I’ve been dealing with some stuff lately, I need this reminder.  Hoping it speaks to you too.

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One reason we struggle with insecurity: We’re comparing our behind-the-scenes to everyone else’s highlight reel.” Steven Furtick

I saw this quoted on Twitter today and wow, it resonated with me.  I often look around me and there are so many mommies and women that just seem to have their act together.  They have everything scheduled and organized, they know what’s due when and have meals planned out weeks in advance.  I look at them and feel like I missed that class somehow. 

Then there are times when I mention a grocery trip with the Littles, or days with picnics or swimming or snowball fights, and I’m told that I’m Super Mom or someone’s hero.  It makes me cringe inside because I feel like I’ve led them to believe that I have it all together, that I’m someone I’m not.  If only they knew the real stuff, my day-to-day, my behind the scenes.  So without further ado, my-behind-the-scenes for your enjoyment.  Or to at least make you feel better about your own mothering and/or housekeeping.

  • I’m great at washing/cleaning laundry.  It’s the folding and putting away that I struggle with.  On any given day, you will find 4-5 loads of clean clothes sitting on my laundry room floor.
  • Dinner is often a last-minute decision, where I then scramble to come up with something, anything.  And often rely on one of four fall-back meals.
  • My children are babysat by the TV more often than I care to admit.
  • The beds in the Littles’ room are rarely made, and if they are made, we’re probably having company over.
  • Timeouts can very well be a discipline tactic, but there are times I’m sure its more for their safety than discipline.  Those are the times I have to step away, take a few deep breaths, and calm myself.
  • Should you decide to stop by and say hi, you will more than likely find a half-dressed child with unkempt hair, two or more children squabbling, a crying baby, floors that beg to be vacuumed or swept (despite the fact that I’d already done it twice before that day), and a mama with dwindling patience.
  • I’m often asking for forgiveness after I’ve yelled at the Littles, or punished one for something that was done by another, for being grouchy, too hard, too impatient, too busy, too… whatever.
  • For every time that I praise Jon in public, there are three or four times I’ve nagged him into completing an item off my “honey do” list.  There are times I’m just plain mean to him, and vice versa.
  • The Littles have worn clothes for two days in a row.
  • Bills are often paid late.
  • I still have moments that I want to climb in my car, roll the windows down, crank the music, and just drive.  By myself. For hours.

I didn’t write this to be hard on myself, because there is plenty I do right too.  But I have a behind-the-scenes, just as you do, and I wanted you to get a glimpse of mine.  I think a little reality check now and then is good for the soul.

Beauty From Ashes

Tuesday, July 03, 2012 2 Comments A+ a-

I couldn’t have picked a better place to spend my weekend than in Colorado Springs for a Beth Moore conference.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again, she is truly an inspiring teacher.  I came home motivated and encouraged in ways I haven’t felt in a while.  I needed this weekend.  More than even I knew.

The compassion that she and her team had for the victims of Colorado’s fires were palpable.  It was evident in her words and actions that their hearts were heavy for this state.  Beauty will rise from these ashes, as she repeated often during the conference.  I’m clinging to this hope and truth.  And not just because of our burning state; there are other areas in my life to which this applies. 

I wanted to give y’all a quick update on the quick the mini-fundraiser we had here this past week.

First of all, wow.  Thank you for the kind thoughts and emails.  Thank you for the prayers and warm words.  Thank you to those who reached out.  Thank you to those who donated money and thank you for thinking of the firefighters and victims.

So overall, $175 was raised.  And while I was intending to shop for the victims directly, an opportunity arose that was too good to ignore.  Living Proof Ministries pledged to match every dollar donated to Samaritan’s Purse at the Beth Moore conference.  Money that is already being used to help victims rebuild their lives.  After a quick text/message to the donors, they all agreed to let me donate the money here.  And I’m so happy to report that $85,000 was raised.  And Living Proof will be matching that dollar for dollar.  Praise God!

I know that someone else is sending another $100 in Walmart gift cards for victims and I’ll get those into the right hands for disbursement to victims.

And last, but certainly not least, thank you to those who sent cards and letters thanking the firefighters for a job well done!  I’ve had two different teachers send cards that their kids created and a few families sent cards as well.  The Littles and I are planning to deliver those later this week.

Thank you again, from the bottom of my heart!  It was heartwarming to see people reach out and definitely restored my faith in humanity!

The High Park Fire is now 100% contained, which means that while the fire still burns, the firefighters have created a strong perimeter and are confident that now it’s just a matter of mopping up and waiting for the fire to burn itself out. 

Hallelujah and Amen.