Monday, January 19, 2015

Give Thanks.

Thank you iPhone for never having enough memory when I just want to get one lousy picture.

Thank you Mom for putting together the cutest shirts for a Grandpa photo shoot.......

Thank you Parker for ruining almost every single one of these pictures. I knew I should have given you that nap.

Thank you Uncle Josh for always knowing the exact moment of when we should just bail on the Christmas photo shoot.

Thank you to my sister Mikayla who made me realize why I never again want to go back to college.

Thank you to my best friend Krista who made me an honorary member of her family by sewing me a pair of their families Christmas jammies. I clearly fit right in.

Thank you to my best friend Kim for reminding me how crazy California people are. While most of us go looking to escape the snow, you enjoy looking for it to have a family picnic in. Awesome.

Thank you Bachelorette Jordan for reminding me of exactly how I landed my husband.

Thank you everyone who takes tropical vacations after Christmas while winter drags on for the rest of us. We hate you.

Thank you Katy Perry for being the one & only reason I will watch the Superbowl this year.

Thank you Martin Luther King Junior for giving me the extra day off work. You da man.

Thank you to my teeth whitening kits. For clearly making me more attractive.

Thank you Uncle Josh for trying to get my kids to laugh during family pictures. Too bad burping loudly causes more of these kinds of pictures than smiling ones.

Thank you Hannah for inviting me to the pool & giving me an actual reason to have to shave my legs this winter. My husband is very thankful to you.

Thank you kids for reminding me how you prefer to nap in dimly lit places.

Thank you to my best friend Heather for having full & complete conversations with me using only #hashtags.
#weareawesome #welovehashtags #stophatingonhashtags

Thank you fancy local boutique for selling me that headband I'd been lusting over since I first saw it on the Bachelor. I knew you'd somehow find your way to me.....

Thank you to everyone who posted up pictures of ice cream on social media while I was on my cleanse. You people clearly just don't don't understand me at all.

Happy MLK Day!

Sunday, January 18, 2015


If I had to describe to you what life this past month has been like, I would describe it using the following 2 words:

Finding Contentment.

That's all. I have been perfectly happy focusing on my marriage, my children, my health, my family, and a few close friends. And the Bachelor too of course. Duh. That goes without saying though.

The results speak for themselves. Life is good here in 2015. Especially when I am holding my baby niece Harper. [Insert happy laughing picture here.]

Here's some of where my mind has been this past month since we last chatted......

  • It's been a long time since I blogged. My brother always says I post way too much on social media. Maybe it's good I take breaks? Maybe my readers hate my breaks? Maybe I shouldn't care & just be thankful that I allow breaks for myself?
    I went through my list today of all the blogs I was following. Trying to digitally unclutter my life, I unsubscribed from every blog where the person hadn't written anything in over a year. This was over half of my blog list. I think people start blogs well intentioned & very inspired to put themselves out there. The toughest part about blogging is that inspirations don't last.  And you have to allow time for yourself to keep finding new inspirations.
    Today I am thankful for new inspirations. And people who keep at their passions. Even if others stop paying attention. And also for the people who haven't stopped paying attention. I cannot believe how many visits I get on this little website every day. Even if there isn't much to visit about. Thank you Readers.
    When you tell me about your life. And also when we see each other & you share with me that you are a reader. And of course in that moment I hug you & thank you for reading.
    Means the world to me. I love you. More than the Bachelor.
    Now that's saying something.

  • Christmas didn't bring much in the way of the miracle I was hoping for. But it did bring me closer to the jolly old man in red. 

Also. Can we talk about how awkward it is when Santa tells you to sit on his lap?!
I mean, is Santa gross? Or is he just a really funny old man with a weight problem?
You decide.
In the meantime, let's file this photo under "Most Awkward Photos Ever"......

Next to this one of me & besties last summer......

You're welcome Internet for that.

  •  I gave up pop this new year. And if you've ever given up something you love for noble reasons [example: it's causing you to gain weight, you intake way too much sugar, you are trying to get healthy, your teeth will soon rot out] then you can understand my pain. The longer I have gone without soda, the better I have felt. Even when I have drank it because we were out & about, and I had easy, free access to it - I literally felt like dog poo after I drank it. Immediately I regretted it.
    What did you give up this New Year? Have you stuck with it? 18 days in. I'm a work in progress. But my husband & I have done really well so far. I think we will stick with it.

  • I have a hair cut tomorrow morning. I'm not even sure what I want to do with it. You know that when you have this many bad hair days in a row though, it's time for a trim.

  •  Let's wrap up some current events: I am really excited about the 2016 election. It looks like it will be a strong showing for president. I'm a Mike Huckabee fan. Always have been. Always will be. Can Mitt Romney please oh please just accept his fate & stay out of it this go around?  I'm loving pro-police walks. I despise cop haters. I'm sad for Paris. I am still undecided about Cuba. And I think everyone needs to see the movie "Unbroken" if you have the stomach for heartache. I'm amazed at the profound, lasting perspective this book/movie has left on my life.

  • In a book I have been reading lately called "Fight Back With Joy" author Margaret Feinberg says "One of the strategies to declare "JOYFUL ARE WE,", has been to find areas to reclaim in our own lives. Places, events, relationships, and joy the Enemy has stolen from us. Today, I’m challenging you to do the same:

    Reclaim What Was Lost

    Here are a few examples of friends who are in the process of reclaiming:

    “I lost both my parents within five months of each other. Three years later, I’ve reclaimed not feeling ashamed to have fun and smile again. They would be happy for me.” —Tara

    “I’ve reclaimed my Christmas tree. Twice I got a cancer diagnosis at Christmas. So I made a holiday tree and decorated it for two years for Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Fourth of July, and even a Red Sox tree when they were in the finals.” —Maura

    “I have not celebrated my birthday in years. This year I turn 40, and I plan to celebrate it.” —Jennifer

    What have the locust eaten in your life? What has been taken away?"
    In my own life, I knew what I had to reclaim. And I know it isn't going to be easy. I hope one day I get to fully share this journey I have had with you. Until then reader, I'm encouraged that life doesn't have to be all about loss. Sometimes it's about where we choose to let life begin again

  • Speaking of new life & joy, I cannot begin to tell you what it has meant to me to be an Aunt to my 3 nephews & 4 nieces. Especially when one of them gets baptized:) Oh heavens.

  •  The past few days it's been 30 degrees in Minnesota. Which basically means we all put on shorts & flip flops. What a warm treat! Mostly because this winter has had it's COLD moments, despite this year's lack of snow. Addison is still praying for a snow day with enough sticky snow to make Olaf. I'm praying for an early warm spring:)

  • After Christmas, we had a toy explosion that we still have not fully recovered from. I can only describe it as a mixture of Frozen & dinosaur toys scattered everywhere they shouldn't be. I'd love to take a few days off this spring & just do a complete home clean out. I fully believe in the concept "Less Is More." Unless we're talking about shoes.

    Here's a few ton of pics of all the Christmas hoopla, where the obvious theme this year was lumberjack:


  • Addison had her first full day of preschool this month. This will hopefully allow for her to start getting used to attending a full day of school one day per week. Hard to believe she will soon be 5 and attending school full time next fall! When I asked her what her favorite part of the day was, she simply replied -
    "Carrying my Hello Kitty lunch box."
  •  My husband was just yelling at the television. Apparently he believes strongly in the Vikings mantra: Anyone who beats the Packers is worth cheering for. Go Seahawks!
  • When my best friend Krista was running through her New Year's resolutions with me a few weeks ago, we both stopped when we had the same basic idea to eat better. This led us to a whole huge cleanse that basically consumed my life for the past week.

[Ignore the M Dew in the corner. This was the day before the cleanse. I told you I wasn't perfect. Stop judging.]

I went nearly 5 days with no SUGAR or animal proteins. Drinking A TON of water. I'm pretty sure I got a stomach bug from my kiddos mid-way through which caused me to really, REALLY want to give up. So happy I pushed through because not only do I feel amazing. I also lost 10 pounds. [Again. I'm attributing this to the bug and the cleanse. And truly it wasn't about the number on the scale. It was more about healthy eating.] I'm reintroducing foods again to my diet carefully. And since the cleanse left me very lethargic halfway through, I'm happy to be working out again. This whole past week my eyes were really opened to just how much unnecessary sugar & processed foods I was eating. And how many excuses I would give myself for not eating how I knew I was capable of eating. I don't know that this is for everyone. But again, I hope it's the start of better health for me & my family. Here's to what a little willpower & what a good accountability partner will do for your life! 

  • Things I Think I Need Right Now:
    [But really I probably don't]

    1. Netflix.
    2. Highlights.
    3. A vacation someplace warm.
    4. Dancing With The Stars Live Tour tickets.
    5. The Backstreet Boys Greatest Hits album on iTunes - only $5.99!
    6. A trip to Iowa so I can meet the new Bachelor - Farmer Chris.
    7. A reason to finally end this blog so you all can get back to your normal lives.

Happy New Year Internet!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas At WalMart.

*Disclaimer*  Forgive me if this blog is all over the place. But I have a little boy wrestling in the living room in front of me with his father. I have a little girl beside me begging me to play Barbies with her for the fifth time this weekend. And a dog who keeps ringing his bell hoping to be let outside to enjoy all of the melting snow puddles in the yard. Suffice to say, I am a lot a little distracted right now. Distraction is my life. But I think you'll love this post. Because it's written mostly by a friend of mine. So forgive all the distractions:) And overlook my brokenness. You are a saint reader. Blessings. *

It was the first time I had ever said it out loud.

"The truth is, Christmas just hasn't been the same since my sister died."

I texted that to my best friend as I complained about having a case of the Christmas Ho Hums.
Too much to do. No time to do it.
Stretching & pushing myself in the ways that only a working mother will understand.
Most days if I pause for even a moment to think about how tired I am, I start to sob.
Is it possible to be this tired?!
I'm not even sure I knew what this tired looked like.
Until I started working full time again.
Until I was a Mom & responsible for the upbringing of 2 precious little people.
I've been running on fumes for so long, I don't remember what it's like to feel full.

So I keep going. Refusing to pause.
Because pausing leads to break downs.
And I'll be damned if I'm going to break now.
My family is counting on me.
It's up to me.
And truthfully, how completely terrifying that can be.
Mostly because this means failure is not an option.
 And when you cannot fail, it almost feels like you cannot be human.
And this I am finding out, this resistance to all things human, is the most wearing of all.

It's no wonder I had the Christmas Ho Hums.
"Peace on Earth - Goodwill Towards Men."
Sounds more like a Disney movie than real life these days......
I just miss the way that Christmas used to be.
And I miss my family. And my best friends.
Strangely Christmas this year felt lonely & awkward.

I wondered if everyone I know was really feeling all "Joy To The World!"
Or if maybe they were just faking it like I was?
What if Christmas was still alive somewhere?
Whether I was choosing to be an active participant or not?
What if there were actually things like Christmas miracles?
And people giving of themselves towards the betterment of others?
What if I was missing it?

Enter Heather.

I met Heather at my job.
She works along side me in the trenches of finance:)
And I'm pretty sure she was made to be manna from heaven.
I could say a million good things about Heather.
Most of all how she cares for others.
And how she is able to have fun in ways that completely terrify me.

I decided I needed to share a little story she shared with me here on my blog.
Because since Heather wrote this, I've lost my ho hums.
And really truly, in the least corny way I know how to say - Hope has broken through.
I've been seeing Christmas in different ways & different places.
It doesn't ever look like the stereotypical Christmas.
It doesn't look like how Christmas looked when my sister was alive.
It doesn't look how Christmas looked before I was a mother...... where I had time to dress my dog in cute Christmas sweaters, make sure my tree was perfectly asymmetrical, and donate my time towards worthy causes like shoebox presents for poor children in poverty nations.
It's not wrapped up very pretty & there are no angels singing over managers.
But when I look at it, it looks a lot like Hope & Love.
And to me - that's always been the very point of Christmas.

May this story bless you, the way it did me.
Take it away Heather.....

"Josh [my husband] and Ellis [my daughter] met me at Walmart this evening.
We rang up our items using the self check out kiosks.
As you know, there's typically an attendant there to assist the customers as needed.
All the computers were full.
The area was crowded as people made their way through.
 As my husband was bagging up items, he accidentally backed into the attendant - Caleb was his name.

"Oh, excuse me sir." He said.

I can't say why it was in that moment my heart grew tender for Caleb.
He is a tall boy. Very skinny. Glasses, braces...a little awkward, maybe quirky.
But very polite and sweet.
Maybe that's what struck me about Caleb.
Something as simple as encountering a young man with manners.
A rarity these days.

The Holy Spirit spoke to me and said to give him a tip.
 I reached into my wallet and grabbed a measly $5 bill and as we finished, I sent Josh ahead with the baby and I waited for Caleb to come back to his post.

"I want to give this little tip to you. I see what a great job you're doing and how hard you're working and Jesus sees, here..I'd really like you to have this."

In a very proper and professional military-like disposition he replied "Ma'am, I cannot accept your tip. I can donate it, but I cannot take it. It's very much against company policy and is a very sure and quick way to get myself fired."

"Aw, really? What if I ran into you when you weren't working and gave it to you?"
(I hate stupid rules like this and wanted to make demands to his manager that he be allowed to keep it! Besides...I'm trying to obey God here and no dumb company policy was about to get in my way!)

"I suppose that would be fine." He replied after thoughtful consideration.

I calmed down a bit and realized it was best that this momma didn't make a scene with management and took it for what it was.

"Well, I'm going to give this to you. You can do with it as you wish so if that means you have to donate it, that's ok."

I patted his thin, lanky arm, gave him a smile, got behind my cart and headed to the doors on the other side of the store.

The thought passed my mind...that hadn't went as planned.
I really felt God wanted to bless this kid and he couldn't even keep the money.
I was a little bummed, but I still knew I was in obedience. I kept walking.

"Excuse me...miss? Can I talk to you for a moment?"

A very handsome mid 40s man had kept pace beside me as he got my attention.
(He looked soo much like Steven Curtis Chapman!)
I had noticed him briefly back where we were checking out.
He stood facing the kiosks as if he was waiting for his party to finish checking out to leave...

"Yes" I replied as I slowed down to engage in what he had to say.
Then, this man began to pour out the very depths of his heart.

"Miss...that boy back there? That's my son.
This is his first job...he's only 16...he's been struggling. ..I'm not sure...he's only been here about a month. The woman before you, I don't know if you noticed but...she gave him a real hard time. It's nothing he did, you know, it's these computers.
I've been here watching and observing him in the background.
I've been in retail a long time...I came to watch him...just to see if I could help...give him a few pointers. But what you did back there for my son?"
(tears began to fill his eyes)
"What you just did just made the biggest impact on my boy's life. You can't even imagine how much he needed this. This is....I just don't know what you did to that boy tonight with that small gesture.
I want to thank you.
I can't wait to go home and tell my wife.

Miss...what you just did there... (holds his heart).....made my Christmas.
(His voice trembles) You made my Christmas."

I saw the heart of a father.
I saw a father who was tired and weary.
I saw a father who was heartbroken.
I saw a daddy who maybe just needed to see his boy be encouraged.
I had seen the immediate blessing of obeying that still small voice of the Holy Spirit..."tip him".

We exchanged a few more words and a hug.
And if anyone's heart was the most encouraged, it was mine.
I won't soon forget Caleb and his precious dad.
This, my friends, made MY Christmas.
In all things, thank you, Jesus. ♡"

 [I knew these Heather selfies on my phone would be good to keep for something one day....]

However you wrap it, I hope these next few weeks meet you with all the love & hope of Jesus.

And if you're feeling a bit Ho Hum mixed with a small streak of rebellious, tip your Wal-Mart cashier. Tell a young person you are proud of them. Thank a bell ringer at a red kettle. Buy a candy bar for the person behind you in the long line of Christmas shopping. Or stop & pause for a minute, and allow yourself to be human.
This is Christmas. Emmanuel - With us.

Much Love Reader.