A sigh of relief.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 10 Comments A+ a-

This was the day we’ve been waiting for since that fateful day in November.  After Dad’s surgery last month, the initial pathology reports were promising.  They truly believed that they had removed all of the cancer from Dad’s body. 

But I was waiting for today’s blood test results with bated breath.  And so very pleased to finally get the reassurance that Dad is now cancer free!

DaddyHe actually let me take a picture of him after the appointment.  This is something he rarely does, which goes to show just how relieved he is about the news. 

They’ll monitor him closely over the next few years.  But I can’t begin to explain the sigh of relief I gave after hearing the results.  Thankful doesn’t even come close to how I feel at the moment.  And as crazy as he’s made me the past six weeks he’s been home (the man NEEDS to work, what can I say), I’m so thrilled to have many, many, many more years with him.

rainhappinessThank you, Lord!

Lesson Learned

Friday, February 22, 2013 13 Comments A+ a-

This has been sitting in draft form for several days.  I’m scared to hit publish. I write this for me.  Not to judge you or anyone else.  I write this to remind myself, to keep me accountable.  A forewarning of what’s to come if I don’t stay the course.  I guarantee I’ll be revisiting this post many times in these months/years ahead.

I wasn't at all surprised to find the following devotional in Joshua, next to the verse telling me to “be strong and courageous.”  I couldn’t keep the tears from spilling over in church when I read these words two weeks ago.

…you feel gripped with fear because your situation is extreme.  Its time to get control of your finances.  Or break off that compromising relationship.  Or say yes to God’s clear leading. Or come to terms with your priorities…  You’ve thought it through and you’ve considered all the alternatives.  Your throat is sore from praying and your eyes burn from weeping.  You know it’s right but you’re scared.  Really scared.

Had Christ not taken a drastic step, sinners like us would’ve never survived the Fall.  We would never have been rescued.  We would be permanently lost.  The cross was God’s incredible response to our extreme dilemma.  Christ did something radical.  Now its your turn.  Get with it.

- Charles Swindoll, Come before Winter and Share My Hope

I’m one of those that must learn their lessons the hard way.  I’m not proud of it.  There’s been some lessons learned in painful ways, scars that have healed but still exist.  They’re good reminders of where I’ve been and how far God has brought me.  But I find that my strong will has followed me even into my thirties and God is still molding me, painfully so.

I’ve had several soft warnings.  Side comments from Jon and my mom, a missed moment, Ashlynn literally taking the phone out of my hand.  That last one should have been the only neon sign I needed.  But still I continued…  phone in hand, convinced I needed to maintain my online presence to stay relevant, to maintain my business.  And therein lies the crux of it all.

Pride.  A false sense of security.  Trust in myself, rather than where it needed to be. 

I have been convicted.  Convicted to the point that I’m grieved in spirit.  I’ve spent days in tears, a gnawing in the pit of my stomach.  I know false guilt, Satan uses it against me often.  But I also know true conviction when it happens. When I know that God has brought me to the edge of myself and lets me peek at what’s ahead if I don’t change something.  This is where I’m at… I caught a glimpse of that woman, and I don’t want anything to do with her.  Things need to change.  Now.

I have loved the women I’ve met through Twitter.  I have genuinely come to care for so many of them, and consider them true friends.  But… I have friends here; I have neighbors that I can invite into my home for coffee; I have children who need me.  Not the 20 minutes that I throw at them.  They need to know that I’m really available, not just when its convenient for me to take a break.  I’m tired that they’re used to seeing their mom throw up five fingers and beg for just a few more minutes.

I’ve suddenly become hyper-aware at how fast time is flying by me.  I have an 8, 6, 4, and 2-year-old.  These past eight years happened in a flash, and I’m already seeing my time with Devyn slipping through my fingers.  I have flesh and blood people who need me… now.  Not on the computer, not on the phone.  I need to be present in the present.

And so I bid adieu to Twitter for my personal outlet.  I’ll still be there for business purposes, to announce giveaways, discounts, and new designs.  But its time to realign my priorities.  After all, I quit my job for a reason, not to fill it up with more stuff. 

Please know, I don’t write this to cast judgment on anyone else or make anyone feel false guilt (be careful with this one, it’s a draining process).  Some women can multi-task beautifully, or balance their lives in such a way that not one area feels slighted.  I am just not that woman.  I’m usually an all or nothing personality.  I KNOW this about myself, and yet, I still didn’t place safe guards.  This is the right decision for ME.

And since I’m being completely honest, I should probably admit that I’m terrified.  I have placed so much (too much) trust in the fact that a lot of business comes from Twitter.  I’m scared for the implications that this could place on Munchkin Land Designs.  But I move forward in obedience, with trust that God will be in charge of this area too.  After all, any success that my little designing shop has experienced HAS been at His providence.  Apparently, I needed a good swift kick to remind me.

So if you want to stay in touch with me, the personal me… not the business me, you can still find Munchkin Land Designs over there… I’ll be here, on Facebook, and Instagram.  But the majority of my time?  It will be with these four beautiful lives that I’ve been entrusted to nurture and grow and teach.  And just typing those words, this post, has brought more peace to my soul than I’ve felt in a couple of weeks. 

Lesson learned.


Some other convicting reads if you’re interested…  Unplugging | Finding Balance, Dear Mom on the iPhone, and for the small business owner, 5 Reasons to Focus Your Social Media.

Real Life Baking

Thursday, February 21, 2013 4 Comments A+ a-

Internet BakingI often look at these amazing pictures online. Pictures of moms smiling as they pour batter into muffin tins.  Pictures of children laughing as they sneak a bite.  Everything in its place, not a trace of flour anywhere.  Its beautiful, really.

And nothing like my reality. 

Real Life BakingHere’s a small sampling of what its like to bake with MY littles.  I wish I could say I over exaggerated some of this scenario, but alas, this is REALLY what it look like.

  • One of the Littles gets the bright idea to bake cookies and come running to ask when we can start this endeavor.  Outwardly, I’m smiling.  Inwardly, I’m groaning.

  • Excited chatter takes over as we decide on the type of cookie to bake.  At first its all fun and games.  Then the real fun begins.

  • Each Little decides they need to be as close to Mom and the mixer as humanly possible.  Elbows are thrown, fights break out, I once watched my innocent 2-year-old push her big sister off the chair with surprising ease.

  • Then once positions have been figured out (with much, MUCH mediation from yours truly), we start measuring out ingredients.  When a recipe asks for 2 teaspoons, I often have to break it into 1/2 teaspoons to make sure each Little gets a turn of throwing it in the mixer.

  • There is much protesting if I accidently skip a Little in the proper order.  And tears.  Usually a 5 minute break is needed to make sure that hurt feelings are resolved.

  • When I turn to grab the next ingredient, its not at all surprising to find that a Little has added even more of the previous ingredient.  Why not?  If a little is good, then a lot is going to be better.

  • Dump the previous batter and start over.  Reiterating the importance of sticking to the recipe, and how we need to make sure it’s the right ingredients to make the delicious cookies.

  • Sigh.

  • When it comes time to break the eggs, there is much debate that they get to help.  I’m then faced with a dilemma.  Let them break the eggs, at which point I’ll be fishing out eggshells for the next 10 minutes, or insist on doing it myself and listen to the cries of injustice.

  • Decide to break the eggs myself, then as I turn to throw away the eggs, listen in horror as I hear one of the Littles decide to turn on the mixer full force and send flour spraying throughout the kitchen.

  • Mutter under my breath as I grab the broom and start sweeping up the fine powder.  Listen as the Littles pass blame from the youngest to the oldest as the culprit.  I can’t take any one of them seriously as they all now look like the Abdominal Snowman.

  • Allow the Littles a sampling of their creation.  A sampling is quickly interpreted as handfuls. 

  • Finally get the cookies into the oven, and listen to cries “Are they ready yet?!” about once every other minute.

  • As the cookies are taken out of the oven and cooled, I can finally give each Littles a cookie and send them downstairs to play.  Because Mama is tired, in a way I didn’t know was possible while baking.

While this is a fair representation of baking with my Littles, and there’s a lot of sarcasm and begrudging attitude, I also relish it.  The noise, the messiness, the Littles underfoot.  The begging, the whining, the crying, the laughing, the teasing.  I’m going to miss it all. 

And its why I say yes to their requests. 

Even though I know its going to take 3x longer than if I’d done it by myself.  Because we’re creating memories, for them and for me.  I know that when they’re baking with their own children someday, they’ll look back and remember these times fondly.  And these same memories will keep me company when the house is quiet and I no longer have Littles in the house.

Real life baking is messy and exhausting and time-consuming.  But its so worth it too.

And then he turned six.

Sunday, February 17, 2013 3 Comments A+ a-

I swear I only blinked, just for a second.  I swear in one moment he was a baby, and the next we celebrated his sixth birthday.  I don’t remember all of the years between.  I know they happened, but its all a blur to me.  How did this happen?  And without my permission too?HudsonCollage1

He had a great birthday!  He couldn’t rationalize why we couldn’t do Chuck E. Cheese twice for his birthday, or that he had to wait two days for his party, but he lived and his party was without injury or tears.  And if determining the success of his party is drinking a beer after all is said and done, then yes, we were victorious!HudsonCollage2

Hudson has matured so much this year!  A lot of the maturity happening within the past few months.  Daily, I’m reminded how fast this time goes.  Every day I’m awed at who Hudson is turning into… I love his strong sense of right and wrong (I wouldn’t not be surprised if this turns into a law enforcement career someday), his spiritual insights, his protectiveness, his strong show of affection, and his desire to give 100% to everything.

  • Hudson has become quite concerned with the salvation of everyone he loves.  He even asked my dad if he knew and trusted Jesus before Dad’s surgery a few weeks ago.  But the kicker was when he told Reagan that “Mommy’s going to die someday”.  I about spit out my drink, but was touched when he asked Rea if she wanted to trust Jesus so she could go to heaven with us.  Hudson even insisted on praying the redemption prayer together.  I think Reagan might still be too young to grasp the gospel, but I love Hudson’s heart in making sure his sister is saved.

  • When we had communion several weeks ago, he started asking some in-depth questions about it.  I was surprised to see his interest piqued before Devyn’s, but we had several conversations about the Lord’s Supper and a few weeks ago, he participated in his first communion.  I may have teared up at the seriousness in which he approached the table.

  • He’s announced that when he grows up, he will be moving to a neighborhood near Jon’s job.  Next to a field of groundhogs, because he loves groundhogs.  And when he’s a dad, HIS kids will be allowed to have tvs in their rooms AND play video games.  Its always said with a touch of defiance and a “I’m a deprived and abused child because I can’t have these things” attitude.  Clearly, we don’t care about his well-being.

  • Hudson is trying so hard in school.  SO HARD.  And both the teacher and I can tell that his hard work is paying off.  I feel like he finally is understanding and recognizing letters.  In fact, whenever he asks me to spell out a word for him, I only need to say the letter’s sound and he can figure it out all by himself.  He is quite proud whenever he writes a note all by himself.  His Valentine’s Day cards were especially meaningful this year!

  • The relationship between Hudson and Ashlynn grows stronger each day.  It is obvious to Jon and I that those two have a special relationship, as he never teases her or antagonizes her, as he will the other two sisters.  But instead he is very protective and loving with Ashlynn.  And the feeling is mutual.  I’m fairly certain that Ashlynn believes her big brother walks on water.

  • When I refused to let Hudson play on my phone for the umpteenth time that day, he looked at me solemnly and said, “But Mama, the Bible says we need to share.” Oy vey.

Hudson Jonathan, I cannot believe that we’re already here, your 6th birthday.  It seems like just yesterday you jumped into the bathtub in brand-new, still tagged pants and shoes.  Six years, gone in a flash.  You are a joy to me, my son.  Your enthusiasm for playing, for sports, for fairness, for Jesus… its catching.  And makes my mama heart proud.  I know God has big plans for your life, Hudson, and I’m excited to see what’s in store.  But for now, this moment, this year, I pray that your love of life continues to grow big and strong.  Happy birthday, Little Man!  6 years old is just the beginning…

Marriage and Romance

Sunday, February 10, 2013 12 Comments A+ a-

When I hear of three long-term marriages ending in divorce over the span of a few days, it makes me pause.  And I mean REALLY pause.  The questions flood forth, and I wonder. 

Why them?  Why now?  What was the last straw?  When did they know they were really in trouble?  What were the red flags?  Did they try?  Did they want to try?  And the biggest question weighing on my mind… If it can happen to them, how do I keep it from happening to us?

It terrifies me, I’m not going to lie.  The idea that once happy couples, couples that once were ready to take on the world with just their love, have reached a point that they could no longer make it work.  It’s my deepest fear.  And in times like these, when I sit back and reassess my own marriage, I’m reminded of some good truths. 

  • Maintain the friendship.  There will be times when romance and passion are non-existent.  But the friendship will sustain those times.

  • In my experience, marriage gets better with each passing year.  I thought I’d miss the butterflies and the tingles of young, new love.  I had no idea that exchanging looks across a room and reading his thoughts with him saying a word would be just as euphoric.

  • It is not the easy times, the happy times, the mountain tops that make a marriage strong.  It’s the valleys.  It’s the hard times that make a marriage stronger.  The times when its painful to breathe, when you wonder if the hurt is too much, the times that you hang on to the promise it’ll get better with the tips of your fingernails, its those times that make a marriage stronger.  Because when you come out the other side, see the person still there, you smile in relief that you made it.

  • Its easy to compare.  And a dangerous game to play too.  It’d be easy to look around at what the movies, books, and society tries to sell us as love and romance.  I can look at any given magazine in the checkout line and wonder why Jon doesn’t do x, y, and z for me.  Never does my dissatisfaction grow faster than when I start comparing him to everyone else.

  • Romance looks different for everyone.  We refer to my brother-in-law, Caleb, as the romantic one.  And he IS romantic, my sister is a lucky girl.  But Jon’s romantic too… in different ways.  He’ll draw me a bubble bath when I least expect it, he’ll show up during the work day with a Starbucks in hand, he’ll come home with sushi and a bottle of wine, he fixes most anything that has a motor.  Jon’s romantic, I just have to look for it.  And recognize it for what it is.

  • Every husband has different weaknesses and strengths.  This could easily be tied in with the comparison point above.  Of course we all have things we’d love to change in our spouse.  But instead of focusing on the negatives, why not focus on the positives?  I guarantee it’ll not only change your own attitude, but you’ll see a huge lift in theirs as well.

  • Be affectionate.  Wait.  Scratch that.  Be passionate!  My Littles are used to seeing us kiss it up in front of them.  They’ve reached an age where its now gross and disgusting, which means its all the more reason for us to do it.  But seriously.  Grab him, kiss him until the air around you sizzles, and just wait for the kids bedtimes.  And yes, even when you don’t feel like kissing, do it anyway.  I’ve discovered the feelings sometimes come after the action.

  • Surround yourself with other happy, content, dedicated couples.  Its true what they say, you become who you hang out with.  If your best friends are unhappy and miserable in their marriages, its only a matter of time before you start finding yourself discontent in your own.  I’m not saying abandon these friendships, chances are they need you now more than ever.  But be sure you’re spending equal time with friends who are happy and thriving in their own marriages too.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  When push comes to shove, don’t let pride keep you from doing whatever it takes to save your marriage.  Counseling is not a stigma, its not a sign of weakness.  It says quite the opposite.  It says that your relationship means something to you, that you want to make it work.  That the person matters to you.

  • Celebrate the highs.  When you’ve made it through a valley and find yourself loving your spouse even more than you thought possible, CELEBRATE it.  Shout it from the rooftops, be obnoxious with it, with each other.  Cherish it.  Another valley is around the corner, of that I promise you.  Let the memories of the mountaintops sustain you through the lows.

I am in no way am passing judgment on those who tried and couldn’t make it work.  Not at all.  I have family and friends hurting right now, and I’d give anything to take away that pain.  But I certainly won’t turn down the opportunity to reevaluate my marriage and look for the cracks in the walls, to see the areas where I’ve grown complacent and where I can improve.

My marriage is the most important relationship in my life. I love my babies, more than I ever knew it was possible. But without my marriage, there is no them. And once the Littles have grown, creating lives of their own, I face a future as only Mr. and Mrs. again. This relationship that started over fifteen years ago has sustained me through many experiences, good and bad.  And I will fight for our marriage with everything that I have.

In My Head

Tuesday, February 05, 2013 4 Comments A+ a-

This is going to be a whole slew of randomness.  My apologies in advance.

  • It was a banner weekend.  For every positive, there was a negative.  Positive.  Thanks to my sister, Alli, for taking the older three for a sleepover and to Courtney for taking Ashlynn, Jon and I got to go to a movie for the first time in months.  Negative.  The next morning, I left Ashlynn alone for minutes (mere minutes) and she managed to pour coffee all over my laptop.  She shorted the keyboard.  And now I’m waiting for parts to arrive.  Positive.  We watched the Super Bowl with my parents, Courtney and Jeremy, our friend, Drew, and my uncle and his kids.  It was a really fun afternoon.  Negative.  It was about this time that I realized my purse was missing and haven’t seen it since Saturday.  I called every place we visited over the weekend and no one has seen it, nor turned it in.  So guess who get to do the exhausting job of replacing everything in her purse?  This girl. 

    I’ll leave you with this positive though.  We didn’t lose our debit card (yay!) and we haven’t seen any unauthorized charges on our checking account.

  • I’m currently doing two Beth Moore bible studies.  Two.  I can barely keep up the homework on one study, let alone two of them.  The first is David and I’m excited to learn more about the man who was called “a man after God’s own heart”.  This promises to be a great study and I’m doing it with my regular study of women including friends, my mom, and sisters.

    The second is Daniel.  I’ve already done this study once before, but I’m thrilled to be doing it again.  This one is with a group of women from our (newish) church.  Let me tell you though.  Its incredibly nerve-racking to walk into a group of women that you don’t know.  As in, I knew ONE woman of the eight that were there.  Inhale.  Exhale.  But the first session went well, I’m excited to get to know more women from our church.  This is going to be good for me.

  • I’m living in a state of denial right now.  Last night was Devyn’s first volleyball game.  And take a look at these pictures.  Let’s talk about Devyn first. 

    1c44e22e6f5e11e2ad5622000a1f98e5_7Can someone tell me when she morphed into a tween-looking child?!  Seriously.  I’m just floored at how old she’s looking lately.  66e7bb186f5d11e282fd22000a9d0df2_7And it’s a heartache kind of wonderment.  As in, my heart literally hurts as I watch her grow into such an amazing girl.

    Then we have the cheering squad on the right.  These three really are trouble.  Jon and I often joke that the sassy level rises with each new child.  So Reagan is sassier than Hudson, but Ashlynn is sassier than Rea.  I’m not sure how that’s possible.  Ha!  But three kids in four years.  They are such a hoot and as hard as this parenting gig is, I’m truly loving it.

  • Grandma Nancy.  I haven’t written much about her lately. I suppose the healing process is doing its job, in that life goes on and I find myself focusing on it less and less.  But when I do stop to think of her, or something reminds me of her, the pain builds in intensity.  No longer is the pain as sharp as it once was, but its now a dull and heavy ache.  I just miss her… her wit, her humor, her laugh.  I miss her being at bible study.  I just miss her.

    When Grandma Rose was here for Dad’s surgery, she wanted to reminisce about Grandma Nancy.  I’ve never met two mothers-in-law that enjoyed each other more.  They were hysterical together, and if I ever wonder where my Littles get their sass and strong-wills, I need not look any further than these two ladies.  Watching them together was inspiring. And fun!

    But as I listened to Grandma Rose talk about memories, it was just too much.  Thankfully we were in a dark car and she couldn’t see my tears, or the lump that I kept trying to swallow.  I let her talk and talk, and didn’t stop her.  But it was too soon.  I’m not ready to reminisce and laugh over memories yet.

  • The painting is… well… I currently have five different colors on my wall.  But do you know how hard it is to paint with Little underfoot.  When I first painted eons ago, I only had the two to worry about and I could paint during naptimes.  But now, I have four little ones and they aren’t quite as obedient this time around.  Soooooo, I figure I should get this house painted some time in the next three to four years. 

  • I often wonder if I’m presenting my true self to the internets.  You know… the woman who loses her patience and yells at her kids… the woman who can be insecure and feels incapable… the woman who worries and frets instead of handing it to God… the woman who gets righteous and judgmental, until I’m handed a mirror…  the woman who feels like she’s failing… the woman who house is constantly cluttered, no matter how many times I clean, who lets dishes sit on the counter for longer than a day… 

    Listen, internet, and please hear me on this.  Yes, I post endearing and lovely pictures of my family.  Yes, I post glowing statuses about my husband and marriage.  But what you don’t see is the daily grind.  The constant whining and tantrum throwing.  The daily nagging.  The day-to-day annoyances, my ugly attitudes and selfishness.  Its there, trust me.  Or ask Jon, he can tell you. 

    BUT… I choose to celebrate the good.  And in the grand scheme of it all, my life is GOOD.  And because I’m aware of it, that is what I choose to celebrate.  The good.  There are times you’ll see my snark, or the days where I’ve had more than enough.  But life is good and I’m thankful for it.  Please don’t mistake my thankfulness for pride or perfectionism.  Just one unworthy girl grateful for all she’s been given.

So there you have it, what its currently like to live in my head at the moment.  There’s so much more, but I figure you can only handle this.  But I must leave with you my favorite quote from The Hobbit.  Of course it includes the word Courage.  Because I’m hearing about courage every which way I turn right now.

I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.