Saturday, December 7, 2013

Treasures

So far this weekend has been an absolutely poetic representation of what Christmas is all about.  It began last night with two families from our church coming over and all of us eating pizza, watching our kids draw on the chalk board table, and telling stories of who we used to be compared to who we are now.  Oh, how Christ has changed us and made us more whole.
After that, despite a sparkly, slippery snow we drove over the river and through the woods to a Journey to Bethlehem. The church that put on the journey to Bethlehem did an amazing representation of what a marketplace would look like in the day of Jesus's birth.  We got to smell the stable smells, see Roman soldiers walking around, and even see little girls stomping grapes in their bare feet.  
After we left the site of the manger and the new born king, we walked back to our "metal camels" in a steady snow fall. 
Despite the slippery roads and the snow fall becoming a bit heavier, we decided we would go visit a few friends and family and share with them in song about the glory of what we just saw in Bethlehem!  The twelve of us Christmas caroling to country homes that would rarely ever get a caroler, spreading the beautiful news of Christ was so beautiful, so meaningful.  And the way our voices all wove together, in a rich way...well, I know it blessed my heart.  I hope that God was honored in it.
The thing I love about Christmas is it lends magic to everything.  Even a snowfall.  While finishing up at the Journey to Bethlehem, the rest of our group had walked ahead, and I was holding Lydia's hand as we walked.  The lanterns from Bethlehem were lighting Lydia's little face as she said, "Momma, the snowflakes are stars visiting us."
Oh, be still my beating Momma's heart.  Moments, so precious like that, are tucked away in my heart forever, being cherished.
Last weekend I read a lot about Mary and Elizabeth as they prepared for the births of their sons. (Elizabeth was John the Baptists mother...he was a very important part of the story of Jesus.)  It amazes me how much reflecting, pondering, and secluding of themselves they did.  They knew the moments they were experiencing were meant to be treasured.  
That's why I love the soft glow of a Christmas tree, or the gentle flickering of a Christmas candle with silent night being played softly on the piano.  They are reminders to slow down, to treasure, and to enjoy the promises of God in your life.  It also reminds me to reflect on the truths in God's word that are so easy to overlook, especially in what has become a hustle and bustle kind of season.  
I'm thankful for good, godly women that God has given me as friends.  They encourage me to slow down and take a break from Christmas "stuff" and instead enjoy Christmas reflections.  They help reinforce what God is teaching me.  That Christmas hope and magic is found in the most simple of blessings.  From the birth of a baby in a manger, to walking hand in hand with my little girl in the snow, to worshiping God with a heart of thanksgiving all season all year long.  They are all gifts, and I intend to make the most of treasuring them.  I pray you do the same.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Solitude




I honestly have no idea who Paul Tillich is, or what the man believes, or even if he is still alive, but I love how eloquently he penned that phrase above.  

Tonight, I'm claiming solitude as a little pre-Christmas gift to myself.

I love people.  I love being around people.  Sharing meals with them, visiting with them, dancing, laughing, and praying with them.  But sometimes, especially when I've had day after day of socializing with people, I just long to be alone.

Some nights, that plan includes instrumental music and my laptop waiting for new characters and plots to be written.

Some days I walk along a path, watching the way the leaves move in the breeze, or listening to a brook babble over rocks that stick out above the surface of the water. 

Some nights it just means laying in my bed, rubbing my feet against the soft, cool, red sheets that I use during winter time.

Often, I will escape to the library and read magazines for an hour or two.

Tonight, that plan of solitude includes a bubble bath and my Bible app reading Scripture to me while I soak.

No matter what the plan, the goal is just to relax.  To take care of me and my need for peace.  It gives me a chance to connect with God on a deeper level.

Solitude is a gift that we can only give ourselves.  If someone else gives it to us, it tends to feel more like loneliness.  I encourage you, sometime this holiday season, to seize an hour and give yourself the gift of solitude.  It's good for your soul.  It's wonderful for reflecting on the season we are in.  And best of all...when we take time for solitude, the time we spend surrounded by people feels more like a blessing.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

DECEMBER 3!!!!

December 3, 1991.  I remember writing that date in third grade.  I went to Mr. Holcomb's classroom for a special class, and we had our composition notebooks that were tan with the red fabric binding.  I had been getting really good at writing cursive, and I wrote the date.  It looked so pretty on the upper right hand side of my page. In fact, it looked so nice that I decided that day that December 3 would always be my favorite day of the year from there on out.  Yeah, I was an interesting kid.
December 3, 1996.  We had moved to a little farm out by Woodcock Dam.  We had lots of beef cows, a big pasture to play in.  And for some reason a college student came to our house from Allegheny wanting to study the organisms living in our back pond.  He was a nice looking guy and I remember Lisa and I giggled as we thought about the handsome college student playing back in the pond we always played in.  I remember that I thought he was the cutest man I had ever seen, and I was pretty sure that I was going to marry that man.  I remember thinking that December 3 must really be my lucky day.  
I was wrong about marrying the biology major from Allegheny, but I still love December 3.
December 3, 2004.  I was working in the Student Activities Office at Edinboro University.  I worked with the secretary, Bonnie.  David came into work early that day and asked Bonnie if he could steal me a little early.  She agreed, and David drove me home.  At that time, I lived with a family from my church in this big, red, farm house. I had my own little space there.  A little room, with my own bathroom, and they had lent me space in the living room to put up a Christmas tree.  I loved living there, and I loved that they let me be part of their family.  And, I really loved my Christmas tree.  I had spent two days making it just the way I had always wanted a Christmas tree to look.
When I walked into my room that day, David had already been there.  He had cleaned up the space and made it really pretty and tidy.  He had also bought me flowers, and put little post it notes around the room saying sweet things about me.  I walked into my living room with the tree and noticed that David had built a fire in the fireplace.  "Hey, Sarah, I bought you a new ornament," David said.  The tree was not a very tall tree, and because I was so young and lacking in cash, there were not a ton of ornaments on the it, but as I walked over the tree I didn't see anything.  At least not at first.  But, as my eyes scanned the tree, I saw a beautiful frosted glass treble clef.  Hanging from the tail of the clef was a ring.  I still can see my hands reaching for the ring.  I reached up with my left hand and touched the ring.  "Is that what I think it is?" I asked in disbelief.  
Nodding, David took the ring off the ornament and assumed the proposal position.  My heart was racing and I said yes.  After that, we kissed.  For the very first time.  It was sweet. And wonderful.  David then ran into my room and pulled out his guitar and sang a song he had wrote for me.  It's the only song David has ever written, and I'm pretty sure the only song that he could ever fully play on the guitar.  I then remember asking him if we could call people and tell them.  I called my sister.  She had been napping, and was quite annoyed at the interruption. But, she reminded me, as always.  "I like David. He's the most normal of all your friends."  I remember calling all kinds of people, celebrating and stealing a few more first kisses.  Then we went out to dinner with David's sister Cathi and her new husband Curtis.  On the way home, I realized all this amazingness happened on December 3.  There was no coincidence there. 
December 3, 2005  It had been one year since David proposed. We've been married for almost six months. We wake up early because I'm pregnant and I have to pee all the time.  We start talking about what a fun Saturday we are going to have.  But, the phone rings at 6:00am.  It's David's best buddy wanting him to go hunting.  I agree, but not with a good attitude.  David ends up shooting his first deer and I do not see him again until 8:00 p.m.  David's mom takes me out to Uncle Charlie's pizza to celebrate the year anniversary of our engagement while my husband is gutting a deer.  Not as romantic.  That was the day of our first fight.  Looking back now, it's funny.  That day, it was tragic.  
December 3, 2010  I had been in North Carolina, driving home in a snow storm.  David gets called to New Jersey for work.  I'm hurrying home to see him before he has to leave.  I get home just in time to kiss him before he leaves for a week.  Over the course of the next three days it snows 55 inches in our town.  I'm snowed in and do not travel anywhere while David is away.
December 3, 2013  I wake up to two kids fighting about toothpaste and snow pants. I'm exausted and could really use another hour of sleep.  It's cold.  I know the check book is nearing empty and the house has all kinds of cleaning that needs done.  But, I see David walk by in the hallway and I gently call out, "Hey, honey.  Come here please."  He comes in and stands next to me.  "Thanks for proposing."  He leans down and kisses me.  I smile.
I still love December 3.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Intense Joy

I'm pretty sure that if you searched far and wide, it would be pretty hard to find someone as excited about Thanksgiving as I am right now.
Right now, life feels completely blissful.
I do not get to say that very often, but right now, in this moment, the joy was so overwhelming that I had to stop, think, and write about how I feel.
I'm gazing out my dining room windows, just amazed by the beauty of the falling snow.  I know that I do not have to exit my house for days if I do not want to, and that produces a great sense of security and comfort.  I love how the view reminds me of a snow globe I remember seeing when I was a little girl.  It was oval, with a plastic dome.  Inside were several children building snowmen under frosty pine trees.  I can't remember exactly where I saw the snow globe, but I think it may have been my Aunt Winnie's house.  She had so many fun trinkets that I loved to play with.
And I love the thought about filling our house up with family member tomorrow.  Maybe one of my nieces or nephews will look back and have fond memories of my house like I do when I think about Aunt Winnie.  Maybe they will reminisce  about Thanksgiving Bingo played at Aunt Sarah's and it will make them smile as they fondly remember time spent with family.  I hope so.
I'm filled with gratitude for the little family that lives underneath our roof, and I'm thankful for the extended family that will be filing in tomorrow.
I'm just really happy---so joyful that I can physically feel the joy in my body.  That's a pretty amazing feeling.  I hope that at some point this Thanksgiving celebration you will feel the same exact way.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Beyond Thankful

Oh yeah!
The countdown is on baby!  IT. IS. ON.
Only three more days to my most favorite day of the year!
THANKSGIVING.
The turkey is brining.  The menu is set.  The guest have been invited, even though I only have a rough idea of who is coming.  The groceries have been purchased.  
I love the whole hustle and bustle.  I love chopping,mixing, baking, stirring and roasting.
I love the praying, the hugging, the sharing and caring, and of course the praising of God the Father for the great things He has done.
Once the twenty some guests at our Thanksgiving table have finished their turkey and mashed potatoes, we will make Skype connections to David's brother and his beautiful family in Georgia, and then to our wonderful Maria in Spain.  
After that, pies, cookies, and BINGO!

So, while all this fun and craziness is going on, I also need to make sure that I'm prepping my home AND finishing a novel, plus making sure to squeeze some extra exercise in this week.  It's quite exciting.  And I'm beyond thankful for each and every thing that is going on right now!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Girl and Her Story

Today, I'm going to tell you a story.
It's about a girl, a grown up girl, but inside, she still feels like a little girl.  This little girl loves to watch people.  She loves sitting in the car, watching other people drive by.  She likes to pretend she knows them.  She likes to think she knows what music they are singing to, or why they look so grumpy.  She likes to pretend they all are her friends.  She even prays for them, making up pretend names for her new friends.
The girl creates scenarios in her mind about alternate realities.  She likes to pretend about a world where people love Jesus and strive to live for him.  She likes making up futures that are tied neatly up with the ribbons that read happily ever after or with labels where the lesson is clearly marked.  The weaving of the stories of the people she sees or dreams up with lessons and happy endings are what complete her.
So, one day, the girl gets brave enough to share a story, her characters, her alternate reality with some special friends.  Brave seems like a silly way to describe the girl, but when she started reading her words off the page to her friends, it was truly one of the bravest, scariest, terrifying things of her life.
Her pretend-reality was no longer just in her mind.  It was out-loud.  And realizing how real her story felt when spoken out-loud shook her to the core.  The girl did not realize how much of her true life was wrapped up in her alternate reality.  It spooked her.  She read, carefully, all 3,439 words of her first chapter to her comrades.  Instead of growing more confident while she was reading, each word was harder to choke out.
Her palms began to shake as the chapter felt like it would never end.  Then, the girl's heart began to race.  Each paragraph added a new pattern to the rhythm of her scared little heart.  When the last word was spoken, instead of relief, a new terror overcame her.  Tears began to well into her eyes.  Her head hung low, and then little sobs, followed by bigger ones came.  Her story was out.  Her made up world was now real to more people.  She had just taken a big leap off the deep end of the pool, and she's really not a good swimmer.
And now, that girl is scared.  Scared of continuing the story.
The girl reminds herself that stories are in people's hearts for a reason.
And that maybe someone, somewhere needs to hear this story.
So, the girl sits at her pretty pink computer, praying that God will help her run from fear, and be brave and face the scary side of weaving reality with make-believe.  And, she prays that someway, God will use her weaknesses to draw others to Him.  Even if it is through a silly little story that consumes more of her soul than she could ever imagine.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Rebellion

So, my brain hurts.
And not just because I've written 53,000 words in the last 19 days.  I've been attacked by my sinuses.

As a general rule, I can pretty much count on my sinuses being absolutely rude to me from October to April.  Despite a variety of allergy medications, a steady diet of Tylenol, and the tedious task of Neti-potting twice a day (What's Neti-potting you may ask?  Here's a link...it's gross...but essential to my survival)my upper respiratory system has decided to rebel against my existence.

Despite all my best defenses against sinusitis, it has attacked me full force.  The worst symptom of all has to be the headache that will not go away.  Actually, I lied.  While the headache is bad, the worst symptom is a direct result of the headache.  

My creativity done and left me. That's right.  My source of thought and energy for my writing abandoned me right in the middle of National Novel Writing Month.  The nerve.

So, I'm struggling, to say the least.

The great news is that even though the creativity left, I have a strong willed nature and perseverance still standing strong.  Nothing can make them go away.  Not a drippy nose.  Not a low grade never ending fever.  Not even a headache that would make a boxer cry. No, despite my body's defiant rebellion, I'm sticking it out.  I may be slower.  I may be weaker.  I may be grumpy and I may lack inspiration, but I'm finishing this book in November. 

And that is all I have to say about that.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Today, Tomorrow and Eternity

I'm very thankful that optimism comes easy to me, in most situations anyways.  To be quite honest, my mind baffles me.  How can I be such an optimist but still struggle with fear and anxiety the way I do?  While I do not have an exact answer for that, I believe that it has something to do with my sin nature pushing worry against my new mind in Christ who wants to hope in his Word and the truth that is there.  It's complicated.  I'm complicated.  But, God still loves me and that gives me hope and optimism!

This morning, on the radio, I caught two minutes of an interview with a man who was working with foreign people groups.  I did not hear where he was at, or what work he was doing.  But, I heard something that I will keep tucked away whenever ministry needs arise.  He said, "People just need hope.  Hope for today.  Hope for tomorrow.  And hope for eternity."

Since it is really cold out, and my house is nice and warm, I abandoned my car radio and headed inside without listening to whatever else the wise man had to say.  But, I've been rolling that sentence over in my head and in my heart for the last hour.

I never realized there was a distinct difference.  Oh, but there is!  Hope for today is that someone hears you, someone is with you, and someone cares about how you are today.  Right now.
Hope for tomorrow...I think about that when I ponder about how hard we are working to pay off our debt.  Will we ever not struggle the way we do?  We want to know that financial freedom can be attained.  We want to know that tomorrow we will have enough to eat.  It would be hard to get past today if you are worried about your needs being met tomorrow.  Trust me.  I've been there so many times in my life.
And hope for eternity.  It never really hit me until this morning that people who do not have hope for today or tomorrow really can not even think about eternity.  How can you think about God and Heaven if you don't know where your next meal is coming from?  No wonder the Erie City Mission has such a great influence on people spiritually   They meet the first two needs so that the third need of hope can be realized.  

As I continued to think about it, it made me think about my friend Erin.  (Here's her blog!)  Erin and her husband are adopting two children from Eastern Europe.  They are providing hope for today and hope for tomorrow in hopes to provide hope for eternity for these two little angels.  
I think about my friends Will and Erin who volunteer overnight at a homeless shelter, sharing life with people who have no where else to go.  They are providing hope for today and hope for tomorrow in hopes to provide hope for eternity for countless men and women during the cold winter months.
How about us?  Not everyone can adopt a baby.  Here at the Humes' household, we are working out that whole "Hope for tomorrow thing" with our finances first.  And not everyone lives in the same town as a homeless shelter, or can leave their families overnight.
But, there are very specific things we can do.
Look around you.  There are families struggling everywhere.  What is one skill or talent you can offer them?  Or maybe you can even offer financial assistance.  Can you bake your neighbors some cookies and visit with them?  Maybe they haven't had someone listen to them in a very long time.
Perhaps you can help shovel snow?  Give an elderly person or a mom at home with a small baby some hope that just for today they don't have to figure out how to shovel all that snow.
Maybe you can offer someone a ride and carpool to help them save money on their gas budget?  Or pick a family you know is struggling and purchase a grocery gift card for them?
Or even offering a smile to stranger.  There's encouragement, edification and promise in smiles friends.  Let's not forget that.
There are so many ways to offer hope.  
As the Christmas season draws near, what should be a season of hope and amazement often ends up being a bleak reminder of how hopeless one can feel.  Reach out.  Offer hope.  For today.  For tomorrow.  For eternity.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

"13"

Ah, Wednesday!  My Wednesday Attitude of Gratitude.
While sometimes I forget to post a blog on Wednesday, I always love how Wednesday make me smile as they are a natural reminder to be grateful.
What do you use a reminder to give thanks to God?
Do you remember when you sit down to thank the Lord for your food?  Or maybe you remember on church on Sunday as you pray for others around you who are hurting?  Perhaps you send a letters to your friends thanking them for being who they are.
Or, maybe, you forget to thank God and others at all.  If that's you, never fear.  Today's a great day to start giving thanks where it's due!
Today, while I write a few praises down here to share with you, I encourage you to get a marker, a pen, a piece of chalk, or a keyboard in your hands and write some things you are thankful for!  Today is November 13th, so I will list 13 things today.
1.  I'm thankful for the calling God has placed on my life to write this book.
2.  I'm thankful that I have at least one person praying for me each day of the month of November while I embark on my writing journey.
3.  I love my Bible study that I go to on Wednesdays.  It was hard paring down my three Bible studies to one, but I know God has me at this one for a specific reason.
4.  I love every time the phone rings and my parents on are the line.  I adore my parents and they are such a blessing to me.
5.  I enjoy listening to instrumental worship music while I write, so I'm thankful that God gifted people with that talent.
6.  As I was driving to Bible study this morning, I passed through all kinds of "snow tunnels."  I love it when the trees are all covered with thick snow and you can pretend you are entering Narnia as you go underneath the trees.
7.  Lately, my kids have been cuddling with me more.  I love every second of it.
8.  I'm thankful for a husband who is growing in the Lord and I'm so proud of his commitment to overcoming sin and temptation and how he leads our family by example.
9.  I'm grateful for God's word and how it has carried me through seasons that no person could ever carry me.
10.  I'm thankful for many long time friends I've had.The relationships mold into different looking friendships over the years but they are special to me.  All my friendships are special, but the oldest ones are a special, treasured gift.
11.  I'm so thankful to hear that the weather will be perfect for hanging Christmas lights this Saturday.
12.  I love my writing group and how it inspires me to push towards what God created me for.
13.  I love serving God with my MOPS positions.  The two MOPS groups I belong to are very different from each other, but the vision is the same (Better Moms make a Better World), and the women are all near and dear to my heart.

So, I hope you enjoyed reading what I'm grateful for today!  And I hope you enjoy making a list of your own!

Monday, November 11, 2013

50 lbs!!!

I started this blog almost two years ago.  My very first blog post was about hitting 25 pounds.  I've been chasing after 50 pounds since then.  And today, about 19 months later, I finally did it.  Weight loss has been very up and down, back and forth for me.  It has not been easy.  There have been challenges that have just about sidelined me along the way.  My dad's stroke, changes in employment, working third shift, medical issues, marital issues, and just motivation issues.
Yesterday I had someone say something to me about me starting things and not finishing them.  While that may be occasionally true of me (and anyone else) I think that is not exactly a true representation of who I am.  When I set my mind to something that I really feel God has put as a passion (or an obstacle) in my life to teach me, I stick with it and I fight for victory, even if it takes me 2 years to lose 25 measly pounds.  
I would love nothing more than to shed the last 9.4 pounds to get below 300 pounds before Christmas.  What a great Christmas present that would be.  Judging by the time it has taken me to get to 50, it maybe even be my birthday in May before that happens.  But, the thing is, I'm still setting goals.  I'm still checking in.  And I'm still dreaming about hitting those milestones.
I am even more excited that I hit 50 pounds while writing my book.  I actually have been putting just little bits of exercise in my days since I had become a little more sedentary with the colder weather and my writing.  I will write 1000 words, then play Just Dance Kids with my kiddos.  I will finish a paragraph and then do some stretches.  I sometimes hop on my bike and ride before I even go downstairs.   I'm glad that I had the prompting to do those little exercises throughout my day, because I think they are the key to my success at my Monday morning weigh in this morning. 
I'm tough.  I'm persistent.  I don't give up.  I need to remember that even though this battle makes me feel incredibly weak sometimes, that I'm actually incredibly strong.  I'm accomplishing this.  With the help of family, friends, several accountability partners, my blog readers and all those who offer me random words of encouragement.  How exciting this all is!  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The God Bracelet

"I CAN'T WEAR THIS COAT.  IT'S BLACK.  All the kids will laugh at me.  It's not pink or purple.  I only wear girl colors.  I'm calling my mom and I'm never coming back to school again."

I was horrified to hear about Lydia's preschool tyrade when I picked her up from preschool the other day.  She had stuffed her coat from the morning in her cubby and had forgotten where she had put it.  So, when recess time came, her teacher had to pull an extra coat from the closet.  Obviously, Lydia had not been pleased.  And she carried on for quite some time.  As you can see from that scene alone, when it comes to getting to wear what she wants, or having her own way about anything, Lydia can be quite verbally manipulative.  (Don't worry, she was faced with consequences both at school and home and knows that it's unacceptable for something like that to ever happen again.)

It's my job, as Lydia's mom, to figure out what her motives are in moments like this, and help her redirect them properly.  This morning, as I was frantically trying to get out the door, she demanded to wear her "God bracelet."  Lydia and I have matching "God bracelets."  They are homemade gifts from my dear friend Marty. Each charm on the bracelet stands for something relating to Jesus and how he loved us, came to earth for us, died for us, and rose again.  I wear mine almost every single day.  Because Lydia is four and loses thing (not to mention eats things), and this is quite literally a priceless gift, I only let Lydia wear hers when she is supervised by David and I.

She was absolutely adamant about wearing that bracelet this morning.  And I was frustrated by her stubborness.  "Lydia, why today?  Why do you need to wear it so bad today?"  It was a heat of the moment kind of response that I'm not particularly proud of, especially when I consider the annoyance that resonated in my voice.  But, she gave me the most sincere answer I've ever heard from her.

"Momma, I just need sumfing to rememba me about God.  Sometimes I have trouble remembewing about him."

Wow.  She just need a tangible reminder about God and His love for us.
Now, to be honest, I still didn't let her wear the bracelet.  I'm serious when I say I worry about her eating the beads.  But, I did go and open her hair barrette tin and I picked out a pretty barette that had a bright pink flower and feathers on it.  I knelt down and said, "Lydia who made flowers?"
"God did Momma."
"That's right.  So, Momma's gonna put this in your hair to remind you that God made the flowers and you.  He loves you Lydia and so do I."
She touched her barrette, satisfied with the tangible proof of God that was now mounted on her noggin.


I learned a big lesson from my little girl today.  Sometimes, the people around us just need to see evidence of God in their lives, and He can use us to show it to them.




CONTEST ALERT:  Make sure to take time to comment below.  On Saturday morning a drawing will take place from everyone who commented and what I think is a super cool prize will be given away!  :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Where Is My Hairbrush?

I keep forgetting to brush my hair.
It's only four days into National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or Nano) and I have to keep actively reminding myself to do normal daily things things like eat and sleep and do my family's laundry, and, yes, brushing my hair.
I was not anticipating enjoying this challenge so much.  
I also was not anticipating being so humbled.

God is using the message of this book (based on Romans 12) to change my heart.  And God is also using the people who committed to pray for me each day to keep me moving along at a speed faster than I had anticipated.  It's so humbling to know that I could not accomplish what I'm doing without God leading me step by step.

Sometimes I let myself dream about what it may be like to actually have a publisher want to publish my book.  To have a book that I could sign for people at bookstores.  I think it would be awesome to be interviewed on Chris Fabry or Janet Parshall.  But, mostly I think about how amazing it would be to have something that started in my heart, flowed through my finger tips, and out on a blank screen possibly change someone's life someday.

I know those are big dreams.  But, I serve a big God.  And right now I feel like I'm right in the middle of something big.  Even if it's happening in my own little world.

Now, for some lighthearted fun Nano-facts:
  • Thanks to Nano, I now have wear glasses again.  The first day I wrote over 6,000 words.  I have a lazy eye and it could no longer focus, so I dug deep into our one closet and got my old pair of glasses on.  David also signed up for vision insurance that day.  I think we will need it!

  • Since Nano began, just a mere four days ago, I've accumulated about five backed up loads of laundry.  I did three this morning.  The rest will have to wait.

  • Writing makes me crave candy.  This must end.

  • I love chatting with all the other Pennsylvania writers that are doing Nano.  What a fun group of people, who have great ideas, and awesome tips to share.

  • My favorite way to write is in a sprint.  My average for a 10 minute sprint is about 400 words.  My personal record is 584. 

Now, to end with a challenge.  Get your timers out and open your word processor.  Type for 10 minutes about something that makes you happy!  Add some smiles to your Monday morning!    And, don't forget to share it with me, if you want to!  I love hearing what others are writing too!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!


I love November 2.

Well, I really love November, the whole month.  I mean, Halloween and all its creepiness and extra calories are in the past now, and Thanksgiving, which is my favorite holiday, is on the horizon!  But, November 2 is awesome because one of my favorite people was born on November 2.  And, I'm not talking about David Schwimmer, either.

No, November 2 is the day that my dear friend Lareina was born.
Making punch for Amanda's baby shower! :)

As time and distance and motherhood have pulled us both in different directions, we have still been able to maintain a wonderful friendship.  Sometimes on a rare Saturday, we can both find the same half an hour to catch up on the phone.  Sure, one of us is baking and the other is cleaning, or we are both trying to control our children, but it's always nice to talk, no matter how distracted we are.

Lareina has been one of my best encouragers, both in weight loss and in writing.  It's ironic because while I'm the biggest person I know, Lareina is one of the thinnest.  However, we are bonded by the knowledge of what it is like to have people criticize us or treat us different because of our size.  And, without Lareina's influence in my life, I would have missed out on some really great books, books that have given me the courage to write my own stories!  Oh, and because of her, I'm a better cook than I could have ever hoped to be!  The girl knows her way around a kitchen, that's for sure!

She appreciates my strengths, while having knowledge to my many weaknesses.  Yet, she never would call my weakness a weakness, but puts a fun spin on it by claiming it an uniqueness or a quirk!  What an encourager she is.
Ah, yes.  One of my "quirks."  I think a fly scared me here...I can't really remember.   But, oh, how I remember all of us laughing so hard when we realized how hilarious I looked in this picture! hahaha!!!!

I love this picture of Lareina and Eleanor

I love reading about her adventures with her little one.  I smile because little Eleanor is so blessed to have such a great mommy.  She get's it all...a mom who is loving, but firm.  A well educated mommy, whose is very well read, and sharing that love of books with Nell at an early age.  She's  teaching Eleanor what it is to be a loving wife, a great cook, and an adventurous risk taker (Swallow Falls comes to mind!).  I am so proud of Lareina, and I know that Eleanor will be proud of her mom when she's old enough to understand how amazing her Mama is!







I love how when I'm with Lareina, I try new things that I've never tried before..like hiking near waterfalls!!!!  On the right is our Maria, from Spain.  Lareina and her hit it off so well!




So, I hope you will all join me in wishing Lareina a Happy Birthday!!!  










Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo




Well, I did it.

Last night at 10:00pm, I logged into a chat room.  For two hours, about 40 other Nanowrimo writers and myself chattered on and on about ridiculous nonsense, while worrying about the remaining time left until midnight, when November 1st and National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo) would officially begin.  "Oh no! There's only 46.72 minutes left until the clock turns to midnight!"  We updated each other way too often about the time, and had a large amount of fun giving ideas for character names, learning where we were from (all of them in this chat room were from the odd parts of PA that do no belong to Philly or Pittsburgh, called "Elsewhere, PA), and sharing our first lines from our novels.  I gained many bits and pieces of valuable insight from the chat room experience...not that I can remember any of them this morning though!  I had planned on going to bed at 12:01, but then they started doing these things called "Writing Sprints."  OH MY GRACIOUS! They are so fun and addictive.  You have 5 or 10 or 15 minutes to write as many words as you can.  I wrote 500 words in one ten minute period!  That was pretty awesome!  Exhilarating!  So, to make a long story short, I stayed up really late and woke up really tired, but I had accomplished a fair amount on my book by 2:00am!

I feel like I'm adapting well to the role of being a writer, at least a stereotypical NaNoWriMo writer.  I'm currently unshowered, dressed in a tank top and shorts, despite it being windy and cold outside, and my housework is currently being neglected.  I'm also trying to remember that while my novel is a priority this month, that my health needs to be a priority too.  Eating sour skittles and cheese puffs (which may or may not have happened around 1:00am this morning!) is not appropriate for every day living, not to mention that exercise still needs to be a priority.

I've set some great exercise goals, just to keep me moving forward.  I will be pedaling for at least 30 miles a week, not to mention doing my strength training circuit four times a week.  It will be great to be doing two awesome goals at one time, although I will admit, with my schedule in front of me, it's a pretty daunting task.

But, daunting or not, this month is going to be a life changer!  I've got an awesome team of prayer support, an idea in my heart for a book that I feel is important enough to write, and a determination I haven't felt before!  Time to go, write, and see what happens!


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Throw Back Thursday?!?

So, to be truthful the whole "Throw Back Thursday" phenomenon that has crept its way into social media kind of baffles me.  However, I decided to give it a shot and it was worth it!  Look at this gem I found!
October 2009

I look at this picture and I praise God for his faithfulness.  Lydia had just been released from Pittsburgh Children's Hospital when we had this picture taken.  Now, she's all healthy, and both kids have grown so much.

I praise God even more because, while I loved my hair cut, I'm guessing I weighed about 350 pounds in this picture.  How faithful is God!  He's carried me this far!  I need to remember His faithfulness no matter what! 

The kids are so much bigger now.  And I'm so much smaller!  And, David---well I'm pretty sure he's gotten even dreamier! 

Just for good measure I thought I would throw in a couple more "back in the day" pictures.  I hope they make you smile.  They sure made me smile!!!

This is Finney's Pumpkin Farm. I LOVED hanging out with Fred and Barney every year!

A precious family portrait.  Oh, how I miss my sweet sissy.  I think I look a lot like both of my parents.  What do you think?

An old Polaroid picture.  I LOVED this scooter.  I still remember riding it around.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Cinderella

Our task for writing group this week was to rewrite a fairy tale in a modern setting.  While not following the assignment exactly, this is what I came up with.  P.S.  It's a few days later and I'm actually still pretty upset with Cinderella...


I know you are a scapegoat here, but I’m blaming you anyways.  Why did you teach us all that with one bippity boppity boo a pumpkin could be turned into a viable means of transportation and that mice and birds would make us beautiful ball gowns?  Why have you become our example of midnight kisses and princes that search high and low for us?  Men who love us no matter what we are wearing the day after, no matter our social class or our awful family.  Why do you put a magic seed in our girly hearts promising us that all dreams come true?  And don’t get me started on that darn set of shoes you wore!
      Cindy, let’s take a look at reality here.  I have 4 pumpkins setting on my porch right now.  And no matter how many times I shake a stick at them, all they do is sit there and rot.  The car I do have, I paid too much money for, and I pray incessantly that it will not break down and make me look like an even bigger fool for buying it. 
And, let’s talk about the birds and rodents, shall we?  I remember that the mice at my old house did not make me a new ball gown, instead they chewed on my beautiful wedding dress, you know, the one I spent five hundred dollars on---and destroyed it, not to mention ruining some of my son’s cutest baby clothes.  And the last time a bird got into my house was when I was on vacation.  It was trapped in my house for several days and it pooped everywhere, making me feel like you in your early years of scrubbing and washing every square inch of the house down. 
Now, let’s discuss the prince.  Yes, I know I married one.  But, let’s be honest here.  Cinderella, why must you share your story in a way that portrays love happening in an instant?  It took David and I two years to even decide to date.  As blessed as I am with the man, marriage is hard.  Very rarely can we even hold our eyes open until midnight, let alone steal a moment for a tender kiss.    Girl, I don’t know how you found a powerful man who would run all over the countryside for you, when most women feel it is a bonafide miracle if their husband helps clean up after dinner.  It’s just not fair for you to rub all that perfectness in our face.
      Nor is it fair that you promise for dreams to come true.  I look around and I see widows and widowers, with tears falling as their heart aches for their true love, mourning for the one who they argued with about leaving the toilet seat up or spending too much money.  I see couples who have a mortgage on a little house that is falling down around them, and not a royal couple living in a pristine castle, debt free.  I see fights over laundry, tears over hurtful comments, and besetting sins that seek to steal the joy right out of a marriage.  Sometimes, if you look hard enough, you’ll even seen loveless marriages.  
   Tell me, Cinderella, why did your fairy tale have to come along and make us all feel like our own little love stories are inadequate?
   I know tomorrow I’ll probably wake up feeling bad for all the things I said to you, Cinderella.  Even now I regret the bitter tone I’m using with you.  But, girl, you have to realize that life isn’t a fairy tale.  It’s not fair to keep pretending it is. And by the way, we all know you are pretending.  Because no woman I know could ever run in glass heels.

            I’m sorry for ruining your reality, but you keep ruining ours. 
                          Sarah

Monday, October 28, 2013

Too much...

I don't mean to be too much.
I know I'm too loud, and I get too excited, and I love too many people.
But, I never mean to be too much.

This morning, during my prayer time, while I'm trying to focus on God, all I can hear are voices from my past telling me I'm too much.  My passion for life has always been a loud passion.  I've always desired to be quieter, but the harder I try to fight against my natural inclination, the louder I get.  The more "too much" I get.  I've heard this message from many people in my life, from people who I love, who I trust, whose message to me has sunk in deeper than I realized.

Feeling like I'm too much, really makes me wonder if I'm enough.

I'm three days out from embarking on this journey of writing my book.  (Well, I've already started, but the month of November is devoted to this book).  Maybe my dreams are too big, and I will fail?

I'm nearly three years into a devoted weight loss effort.  I've lost fifty pounds, but I'm still too much when it comes to what I weigh.  Maybe my dreams are too big, and I will fail?

I'm thirty years in to a life that I hope reflects Christ, and my dream of serving him wholeheartedly my entire life.  However, I still sin daily, and some sins have too much of a hold on my heart for me to move forward it seems.  Maybe my dreams are too big, and I will fail?

But, what if the reason some people see me as too much is because my dreams are not too big?  What if God's words is true in Joshua 1:9 "Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."  What if God has called me to be brave and do these great things I keep hoping for?  And what if, only through the power of Christ, I can accomplish the dreams God has set in my heart?  What if my dreams are exactly what God has planted in my heart and He can lead them to fruition.

I'm making a very specific effort to focus in on what God has to say about me today.  Because those other voices telling me I'm not enough or I'm too much are very loud right now.  Instead, I need to listen to the Holy Spirit's whisper and trust that God made me just right, just enough, just perfect for the plan He has set before me.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

What I think...




Poetry isn't my best thing---but tonight, I just felt led to write this.
I find myself going back and forth between two thought patterns in my mommy moments.  One side of me is soaking in every little thing that they say and do, and how they look, just in this moment.  The other side of me is screaming inside as another glass of (expensive Lactaid!) milk gets spilled.  I think this is a struggle most moms face.  And I'm realizing I have complete control over my reactions.  I'm teaching my mind to tune into my thoughts before they become words...and this poem is sort of about that.


But, before I share the poem, I couldn't help but share some of my favorite memories from my kiddos!  I love being their mom, and I love watching them grow in to the people God has created them to be!

















WHAT I THINK--to Micah and Lydia

I need to put away the thoughts I think
When my kiddos are full of messes they create
When chaos is prevalent, the house is a wreck
And I can’t even think a thought straight

Tears, fights, discipline and strife
Chores, sighing and yet another time out
Spilling, wiping, the never ending list
I’m not sure if I can handle another bout

I need to focus on the way I think
When my kiddos are tucked in fast asleep
When messes don’t matter, the house is quiet
And I don’t even hear a single peep

Snuggles, devotions, hugs and kisses
Prayers, giggles, and bedtime wishes
Painting, baking, making messes galore
Little one, there’s no way, I could love you more.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Seeking HELP!

Suddenly, my life is vastly different that I ever imagined it could be.
I belong to a writer's group.  I'm doing writing assignments.  I've committed myself to writing a book in the month of November.
It's *almost* like I'm a writer.

Whoa.

The reality of that fact is blowing me away.

Especially when I tie that into the fact that I feel this ability to write is a gift from the Lord.  He cleared my schedule and gave me a passion and crafted inside of me an idea for a book that I really think could make a difference in peoples lives.

That's big.

I'm humbled.

Truthfully, it's a little bit scary.

Which leads me to this---I'm looking for prayer warriors.  Infact, I'm looking for a team of prayer warriors that would adopt a day in the month of November to pray for me.  To ask God that I will write the words He wants me to write.  I desire to use  this book as a form of worship for the Lord.  Will you help me stay committed to that?  Will you pray me through writers block and frustration and time constraints and a messy house?  Maybe even you could give me a phone call on that day and pray with me?  Or better yet, stop by and we'll have tea and maybe we can even pray together!

Big steps of faith can only be effective if backed with big motions of prayer.  

So, if you are interested, please leave a comment below or email me with what day you would like to take to be the prayer day.  I'm hoping to have all 30 days covered, and I'm thrilled if there is more than one person praying on a specific day! :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

JOY

START HERE WHEN SEEKING JOY


My Bible almost automatically opens to these pages.  Psalm 51.  When i'm in need of joy, I come here.

One of the first verses I ever remember hearing, long before I asked the Lord to cleanse my soul, was from verse seven...wash me and I'll be whiter than snow.

Is it any reason I love the symbolic first snow fall?  The beauty.  The magic.  The cleansing.  And, for all of us sinus suffers, sometimes even a big of relief from the fall allergens.

As I was watching the snow fall from my kitchen window this morning, I had instrumental music playing in the other room.  The song, "Open the Eyes of My Heart" came on.  I realized how many of us "grown ups" automatically shut down the eyes of our heart when that snow falls.  The moods become grumpy, full of complaints.  Our childlike wonder goes away, just because God is doing something new.

In NW PA, I know the excuses are most likely validated.  Yes, we usually endure anywhere from 5 to 7 months of snow, cold, miserable weather.  Yes, traveling will be slow.  There will be water main breaks from here on out.  Pipes will freeze.  People will fall.  Propane and natural gas prices will rise, and it will take twenty extra minutes to even get out the door with the children.

I'll be the first to admit that by March, sometimes even February, I'm ready for the snow to be gone.  But, I'm committing myself this year to finding wonder in this season, hope in the newly fallen snow, and an excuse to stay inside, clean, read, relax, and of course write.  Embrace this season.  Let God open the eyes of your heart to the beauty and truth in what is happening all around you.

So, if you have found yourself grumbling in your heart about the snow, or even outloud, open your Bible to Psalm 51.  (If you don't have a Bible, let me know, and I'll get you one!).  Let God sink some joy into that heart of yours.  Then, put on a pot of soup, and invite a friend over for dinner.  God is good.  Even when it's snowing.  Let me rephrase that.  God is good...ESPECIALLY when it's snowing. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Here's to Sam! (A tribute to my FB Share Winner!)

A few days ago, I asked my Facebook Friends to share my blog address and to make sure they let me do it so they could be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a prize.
My friend and neighbor Sam was the lucky winner, if you count winning a plate of my cookies and a mini spot light on my blog lucky. :)
I really appreciated each and every share.  It helped me gain 3 more faithful follows on my blog (Thank you all who subscribe!) and I hit my 9,000 mark on blog views.  Those are pretty big milestones for a girl just starting out in the writing world.

Anyways, let me get back to my winner...Sam.

Sam is an incredible woman.  She's a wife and a mom, a mom of four to be exact.  We met, like many of my current friends, outside of our school entrance.  Many of us drop our kids off and pick our children up everyday.  As the years have continued, the faces become more and more familiar.  Eventually, we find ourselves talking about random things, and then suddenly, you realize you've made a new friend!

I love this phenomenon. I think everyone should try it.

Sam's friendship snuck up on me, just like that.  One day we were Facebook friends, then another day after Dad had his stroke, she delivered the most amazing meal.  Then, somehow I would end up at her house for a visit here and there over the summer.  Or she'd invite my kids and I over for dinner after school.  Before you know it, she rescuing me from the worst migraine I've ever had...but I'll write more about that later!  As time has gone on, I crave time with Sam.   I want all my other friends to meet her! She encourages people naturally.  It's even more fun, because chances are, if I'm with Sam, so is Jackie (p.s.  You can read Jackie's blog here!).  I enjoy the way our friendship triad works.

I'm so thankful for the opportunity to have so many people encouraging me on this writing journey.  And I'm even more thankful that so many of those people are true, amazing friends.  A girl can not get more blessed than I am when it comes to incredible people and wonderful support.  So, here's to Sam!  And here's to all the rest of you.  Each one of  you is so important to me in my writing journey! :)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Moody Monday

Nine.  I made nine stops on my errand run today.  That's a lot of errands for a Monday.  
Since I'm really starting to take this writing gig seriously nowadays, I have honed in even more on on of my favorite pass-times...people watching.  If there is one thing that is evident during my Monday morning errands it's this---joy is missing everywhere.  Nearly everyone looks miserable.
The Lord has made it clear to me that when I'm out and about, my face needs to be radiating the joy that He's given me.  People everywhere need to see it, and be refreshed with something different.
Well, the true story is that this morning, as I started out with my to do list, I really didn't feel like radiating a whole bunch of joy.  See, our already tight grocery budget was trimmed down even more this paycheck, our gas tank needed filling, and I had to pay a ridiculous fee at the pediatricians office to pick up a form for Lydia's school.  I had already paid for the doctors appointment, yet I had to shell over MORE money just for them to take 3 minutes to check a couple boxes.  Yeah, I was in a mood.  Sometimes I hate sharing these bad attitudes with those of your who read my blog, but really, most of the time, my bad attitude is where God gets ahold of me...then He teaches me.
So, at my first appointment this morning, the office was running behind.  I used that time to hone down my grocery list.  I took the list of meals David had made as a wish list and figured out what ones would be the most affordable.  When I finished that task, I realized that I really had a decent list that could actually be purchased with our very meager grocery budget this week.  It made me smile.  I thanked God for the ability I had to meal plan and how because of that gift our family would be just fine over the next several meals.  As I was smiling, praising God, my gaze caught a woman who looked just miserable.  Sad.  Maybe even desperate.  She looked into my eyes, and though she didn't smile back, I think I saw her face soften just a bit.
My day continued and I did each of my check list items.  I found myself more joyful as the day went on.  I could see how God was showing His care for me.  I saw three different friends throughout my errands today.  One of them gave me the biggest smile and a huge hug. How encouraging!  My grocery budget provided everything we needed for the next two weeks, and even a special little treat of a cappuchino mix for when I'm writing.  And, did I mention that I had found two left over gas cards in a wallet of mine.  Yes, I had to make two stops to two different gas stations, but they were right next to one another, and it was just another reminder of God's provision.  They didn't cover all of my gas, but they shaved $15.00 off my gas bill!
Even now, as I look ahead, I automatically switch to worry about the next paycheck.  How the next tank of gas will be filled.  How the cupboards will look in two weeks.  I remind myself that we are faithfully climbing out of a debt pit that we dug ourselves.  We are determined to learn to live better and enjoy what we have.  My smile that was beaming by the end of the trip, was only from the Lord, His Spirit and His blessings. I'm thankful for humbling lessons that God shares, and how he proves time and time again, that if we just get over ourselves and submit to Him, he can use you, even if it's just for your smile. 
I hate that my past decisions keep me from giving financially as much I would like to others.  I would think of nothing I would rather do than walk up to a woman who looks forlorn and worried and hand her a hundred dollar bill.  Sadly, because of the mistakes I made in my past, I can't right now.  I look forward to doing that someday. But, for now, I don't have much of little of anything to financially to offer, but I can offer little glimpses of hope.  The smile God stirs up in me.  The one that comes straight from His joy.  And I just pray as I made my nine stops today that the smile was enough.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Cleaning House

The cleaner my house is, the cleaner my eating tends to be.
And let's just say that the past four days my house has been a mess.  
But enough about that.

My house is getting cleaner.

Infact, I just surprised myself by spontaneously cleaning a small closet that has been bothering me.  It is opened once or twice a day to get napkins for the table or dusting rags for the furniture, and usually I'm the only one who goes in there, the sole person to see the mess.  To say it annoys me would be an understatement.  I have been wanting to clean this closet since August.  Every day, each week, other things would be deemed more important and it would stay sloppy, unorganized, and even behind the closed door the cloth napkins and table cloths and flower vases would mock me.

But today, I conquered it.  In 15 minutes or less.  David and I brain stormed.   We selected a few items to sell online, we discovered a few new storage solutions, and now I can open that door and smile.

I tell anyone who is on a wellness journey that the small victories are the biggest.  This little closet proves my point.  Your house is only as clean as your messiest closet.  Your diet is only as clean as your most processed, sugar and calorie laden meal.  I'm making a conscientious effort to improve both.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Power Box

Weigh in day.  I suck a bunch of air in, in an effort to relax my racing heart.  Then, I blow that air and more out of my body, praying that any extra ounce will leave my body with it.  I step on the scale, clenching my jaw, shutting my eyes, saying a final prayer that I will see benefits of the hard work I put in all week show up on the scale.  Or, depending on the week, begging for a miracle, and that punishment will somehow pass over me.  I peek at the number display, only to see the scale is still calculating.  I shut my eyes tight again, another quick prayer, one  more hope, and I look down again...never knowing truly if the scale will reward me, punish me, or make me want to quit.

This week, much to my relief, I see my body let go of weight brought on from a series of mistakes the week before.  Down 4.2, a total of 48.2 all together.  I have not lost that much in a long time.  Relief fills me, knowing that the little choices I'm making matter.  The success of the scale is motivation.  The hope of seeing a smaller number can motivate me more than it should.

I step off the scale, thankful for a fresh number in my mind.  More hope filling me.  I feel the bounce in my step knowing that my body is lighter.  And I praise God for loving me despite all my short comings in this area, because there are days when stepping off the scaled is not so bouncy.

Those days I step off, tears in my eyes, my heart downcast.  Whether it's from shame of my bad choices or disbelief that my hard work didn't pay off, sometimes the scale can be a reminder of all my short comings, not just my weight.  It reminds me of my lack of discipline, my desire for immediate results, how I feel like every one else in the world is prettier, smarter, more worthy of love than me.

One metal box. A few little digits.  A lot of power.  Too much power.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Little Life Updates and One Big Annoucement

Lots of little life updates today...and one big announcement.

LLU #1---I'm 1.8 pounds away from hitting 50 pounds.  Still.  My body will not give up pound #50....
LLU#2---I'm struggling with goal setting for my weight loss without getting overwhelmed again.  Sometimes I fear that I had a groove and it's lost now.  I remind myself that I can't really lose a groove, and I recommit myself, sometimes seventeen times daily to finding it.
LLU#3---I've been participating in a writing group that I love.  It challenges me.  It gets me out of my box and I love that.
LLU#4---Because of that writing group, I just finished reading a book called Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg.  I do not have adequate praise for the writing style of the book.  It was simply incredible.  I have a new book by Elizabeth Berg that I signed out of the Library entitled The Day I Ate Anything I Wanted---and other small acts of liberation.  If you frequent my blog, I think you will understand why I signed that one out.
LLU#5---I've spent the weekend refreshing.  David took a 4 day weekend from work, I went away overnight on Friday night, we've had a lot of fun as a family, and I feel rekindled in my love for my husband, family and home.
LLU#6---Our upstairs bathroom is finished...except for trim. But, who cares?!  My toilet flushes and I can shower, not to mention I now have a door on that bathroom again.  That was a long three weeks!
LLU#7---My new favorite activity is taking a bubble bath while watching Netflix on my Kindle.
LLU #8---I wrote a poem about a tomato.  I don't know much about poetic rhythm, but I had fun.
LLU #9---I finally saw Despicable Me 2.  I enjoyed it.  However, I do wonder what it is like to go to the movies and not hold a 42 pound child the entire time.
LLU #10---I'm super excited about November.  I love Thanksgiving.  I have a great head start on Christmas shopping...but the biggest reason I'm excited for November is wrapped up in my ONE BIG ANNOUNCEMENT.....

Thanks to my writing group and the encouragement of the ladies there, I've decided I will use the NaNoWriMo website to write a book in November! I've never anticipated writing fiction, but I'm so excited about creating characters, plots, problems, solutions, conflicts, resolutions, and maybe even a lesson or two in there!  Even if my book is awful (which it will be, it's only a first draft) it will be a growing experience.  And I'm all about growing.  Well, except when I'm about shrinking.  But, you know what I mean.

The real challenge is how will I find time to exercise and write a book?  I'll let you know in November.  Since that thought kind of freak me out, I'm going to do something fun.  I'll share my tomato poem!


Dicing me up
Then cooking me down
Putting me on fries
That makes me frown.

Making me into soup
Canning me into sauce
When will people learn
To do this is a loss

All the kids dislike me
In my natural state
They only eat me as ketchup
Or as sauce with pasta on their plate

So few accept me
In my round, red form
They want me processed, seasoned, unnatural
Sadly, that's the norm

I want to be loved
To be accepted for what I am
I am a tomato
I do not belong in a jar, bottle or can

So walk to your garden
Pick me off the green vine
Let my sun warmed juice run down your chin

I’ll taste divine


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Missing Micah

          I hopped out of bed quickly that morning, and hurried myself downstairs to use the bathroom.  I wiggled down the stairs, trying to get to there in time, rushed because I woke up late, and my bladder was keenly aware of that fact.  Mental and physical relief flooded my body as I finished the task at hand with no mishaps.  I scrubbed my hands at the sink, and then I returned upstairs to wake my beautiful children.  Lydia, had already got up and she met me in the hallway.  I hugged her and then I ducked into Micah’s room to awaken him.  I glanced into the top bunk where he normally sleeps and noticed the flat appearance of the bed.  I rubbed my eyes, knowing my sleepy eyes must be playing tricks on me.  Stealing a second look, I confirmed that Micah's pillow remained empty.
          Realizing that I must have dashed right past Micah on my potty run, I limped my tired body back down the stairs, calling his name.  I threw large pillows off the couch, expecting him to be hiding underneath with an impish grin.  I moved the throw blanket off the loveseat.  My heart began pounding in my chest as I realized he was not in the living room as I expected.  Frantically, I threw open the closet door and scanned the small space as quickly as I could. Out of good measure, I ran to the bathroom where I just had been, only to find it empty.
          Sweat began dripping down my brow.  My hands were trembling.  My voice cracked as I screamed in pure terror up the stairs, “David, David, Micah’s missing.  He’s gone!”  The thump of my husband’s feet hitting the floor both comforted me and added panic to my racing mind.
          As David began searching the upstairs in the same haphazard manner, I repeated my downstairs scan, this time threatening Micah out loud as I pulled furniture from walls and peeked behind chairs.  “Micah, if you think this is funny, you are mistaken!  If you are hiding, please come out,” I begged in a loud voice that was demanding, but somehow still filled with motherly love.  Hearing no answer to my demands, I ran to the front door.  Scanning both locks I confirmed that the knob and chain locks were still intact.  Fearful of the idea that someone may have come into our home, or worse, may have left our home, I shuffled to the back door and checked both locks there too.  I heard David’s muffled voice as I yanked on the door to confirm the dead bolt remained secure.

          Desperate to hear David’s message, I dashed to the staircase and heard David’s announcement that Micah was found.  Relief replaced panic as I climbed the stairs, quicker than my round body usually allows.  I pushed past David and Lydia in the narrow hallway, only to find Micah, confused about the yelling, but safe none the less, in his bed.  David confirmed that Micah had been there the whole time. As I nod, I see the obvious point that I had overlooked just moments earlier---Micah had simply slept upside down in his bed.  

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Devotion Gone Bad---Almost

The clock reads 8:03p.m.  Combining the drizzling rain with the rare high humidity of this October day and my children's intense physical play has created an aroma of salty, moistness.  As a mom, I debate whether I enjoy that scent or loathe it.  Tonight, I decide I was grateful for it, even if I was a little nauseated.  I snuggle up with my two children on the couch to read our Bible.  We've been reading through the gospel of Mark for the last month.   Tonight, we are are nearing the end of the book, reading a somber account of Jesus' arrest and betrayal.
As we settle in, we hear my husband's truck finally back into its parking spot.  We've been apart since 4:00a.m. this morning.  Sixteen hours of working, serving, living life---connected, yet apart.  Relieved to hear the sound of another grown up is now present in our home, I look down at the Children's Adventure Bible that's on my lap.  
I read the words.  The way Jesus was betrayed grieves me.  It made me anxious.  Despite my best "patient mommy efforts" the kids are quite restless. I snip a quick reprimand at Lydia who is pulling my hair out of it's pony tail holder.  As I turn to address her, Micah who was sitting snuggled on my opposite side, felt compelled to do the same thing. As he pulled on the holder, one of the tiny little hairs at the base of my neck was pulled.   
Frustration bubbled up, hot and ready.  No snipping about it.  This time I yelled.  Micah and I stared right into each others' eyes for thirty solid seconds.  As the stare-down continued, snippets of frustrating words are flying through my mind.  "Why can't they just listen to me?  We are reading the Bible.  This time is sacred."  I find myself wishing they understood how sad the words were---how heart wrenching the betrayal of Jesus by one from his inner circle is.  
Just as soon as the thought passed, I realized that for this time in their lives, I'm so glad they do not realize the gravity of the words I read.  I'm glad they do not know how people lie, cheat, steal, and sin against other people for a few extra coins in their pocket or a few moments of fame or just simply because it feels good to them.  I'm so thankful that my kids are growing up in a safe home where we protect them, love them, pray for them, and read them the Word---whether they actively listen every night or not.  Yes, sometimes their silly mommy gets annoyed and yells---but then their mommy apologizes and we pray together.
My heart aches for the children who do not get apologies.  I cry for the babies going to bed with hollow tummies and empty hearts.  I can't help but wonder if there is a child sitting next to one of my kids in school who would love to hear someone encourage them or pray for them...or simply have someone not scream at them.  What about those precious little ones caught in slavery or the sex trades around the world?
And so in keeping with the goal of my Wednesday Attitude of Gratitude, I am making a decision here and now to let go of the last sixteen hours and the frustrations that I've held on to through the day.  I choose thankfulness for what we have here in our home.  I choose hopefulness that someday maybe God will still allow us the chance of adoption where we can share the safety of our home with another child.  And I choose faithfulness to keep doing the things with my children that I'm supposed to be doing, no matter how long and tiresome my days may be.