March 31, 2009

on the edge

If you know me well... you know. You know that I have been dreading turning the page... from March to April. For the past nine years... April has been my least favorite month of the year... filled to the rim with sorrow and tears. But I want to grow... I want to reach for hope and for healing. I want not to feel the tremble in my heart as March begins its descent into April. But how? How can I feel the joy of spring when my heart is missing those people who left this earth in April? And how can I not feel the pain of those nails that pierced the most loving hands ever created... the darkness of Good Friday? My mind knows how the story ends... but my heart... it aches, even now. But I want to focus on the light... the promise of Heaven... the glorious Son-rise. And maybe this is my year. As I dip my toes into the puddles of tears... left by my April showers, I am stepping out in faith... with great hope. I am stepping out and letting go... not of my memories, but of the darkness. And just maybe... as I search, I will see how the sun glints off of the tears... and creates a thousand beams of light.

March 30, 2009

l is for...


Love story.

Back around Thanksgiving, I made mention of being thankful for a small green slush... and I've been saving the story for today. Our love story... it began with a small green slush.

I was working 90 hours a week at our ice cream shop. He was just out of Coast Guard boot camp, stationed in my hometown. I might not have noticed him... except for our cars. They were the same(but mine had pink pinstripes!), parked side by side in the parking lot. I am a girl who loves eyes... but I never saw his. They were always hidden by his dark aviator glasses. And I didn't know his name... so we referred to him as Goose, because he seemed to resemble a certain pilot from Top Gun. Cute? Yes. But I wasn't really looking. And so, day after day, I would sell him a 25 cent green slush.

One night, as the crowd was beginning to build outside our windows, he appeared in my line. And after I served him that green slush, he invited me out on a date. What was I to say? After I had accepted, the customers next to him asked my friend Does that happen often? She laughed... because it was not the first time it had happened to me that summer. The next day, he came back to the store to make a plan. It was raining....and I had gone to buy bananas for banana splits, and raced back through the puddles, laughing the entire way... soaked up past my knees. Perhaps it should have changed his mind... that this girl would purposely splash through rain that had puddled in the parking lot... or perhaps he watched me... and saw the joy it brought me. Our first date started with a beautiful pink rose, and was filled with laughter. Six months later... Eric proposed to me at the National Zoo... by the pandas.

But our love story does not end there... because our story is new every day. Life has brought us uphill and down... and with God's love, ours is sustained and refreshed. Our love story is what happens every day in our home... the obstacles we overcome together, and the joy we share. And somehow it all started... with that little green slush.

It is Flashback Friday: Love with Jo@Mylestones...



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March 25, 2009

it is well...

I have learned that writing puts my heart in perspective. Putting the words of my heart down on paper, so to speak, allows my mind to begin comprehending the emotions. It is a place to begin… a place that leads to me to my Father’s arms.
And so after writing my prior post...I sat… on the lanai with a cool breeze wafting over me, and a cup of warm chai… and poured my heart and soul out into the waiting arms of God.
And grace has come… or perhaps, has been poured lavishly about me. It has come in the steamy water of the shower… washing over me and refreshing me. It has come in Emily’s words… and reminder that each day we are renewed... and in the caring words of friends and strangers. Grace has come to me in my husband’s arms, wrapped around me and holding me up. It has come to me in my son’s persistence… not giving up, even if it is only opening the new jar of peanut butter. It has come in my mother’s tears… her heart, checking on mine. I am always amazed by His grace… that He is ready and waiting for me to just reach out and accept it… that He is already in the process of pulling me out of the muck and mire that I have stored around my heart. As my heart and mind is lifted to the sunshine, He has left me a message… one that was laying under the layers of the mud… His reminder that tomorrow is another day, and He has all of my worries in His mighty hands… and mostly importantly… Be still and know that I AM.

longing for rest

I feel like I am running to nowhere... taking step after step, and finding myself stuck in one place... never moving ahead. I am dry... and the tension in me is growing. The little squares on my calendar are filled with appointments, commitments and lessons... places to be, items that need to be checked off. When I peek ahead to April I see that there is no relief in sight. I am more than tired... exhaustion is setting in.
I long to rest.
To just be.
And there doesn't seem to be a blank square to schedule that in.
Perhaps I just need to put that eraser to work... and create a free day.
But a free day is only free if the chores are done...
For today... my only hope for rest comes in the form of prayer.
For a few moments, I will curl up in the palm of God's hand... and find refreshment. He will carry me through... He will lend me His strength... and if I stop long enough for a breath, I will feel His gentle touch brush the tears from my eyes...

March 23, 2009

k is for...





Kiss.

A celebration of love.
It was a day of joy. With each clink of a glass, there was a kiss. A day we will never forget... a beautiful start to our life together.
A new beginning.
The anticipation of her arrival was great. And there is nothing as sweet as a new Daddy holding his daughter, who fits in the palm of his hand... unless he is suddenly drawn to leave a fluttering kiss upon her tiny brow.
A precious moment.
There were probably ten people right around us... but we were sharing a quiet moment... a silly kiss. I didn't even know we were being watched... but that this spontaneous and genuine sliver of time was caught on film means the world to me.

Kisses tell a story... a story of love.
But not just love... the story of love that is shared.

Is not a kiss the very autograph of love?
-Henry Fink


Enjoy more A to Z Mondays at Unglazed!

March 20, 2009

breathe


The air around me is laced with sweetness... the fragrance of orange blossoms dances in the air. I breathe in and savor the moment. It is part of why I love to live here... in Florida. The groves are miles away... but the scent has travelled on a breeze... come to me at my window... reassuring me that this dark season of lent will soon be covered in sweetness and light.

March 18, 2009

tied up in a ribbon

Until I received a Happy Birthday e-mail, I had forgotten... in the weeks (months?) between my birthday and the note, I had thought of it just a few times.... and then it completely left my mind. Until my Mom said Let's go for that birthday walk. Sickness had postponed our celebration, but so often, you find that things happen for a bigger reason.

We met at the beach... just as the sun was beginning its ascent into the day... and the world was starting to come alive. Coming together for our hug, I saw a gift in her hands... and it surprised me. It wasn't as if my birthday didn't happen way back in December... we just didn't get that walk in. I thought maybe she just wanted to be silly and give me a little gift... to make our walk more birthday-ish.

As I untied the ribbon... and began to tear off the brightly colored paper, I could tell it was a book... and I kept tearing. And then I was caught totally by surprise. I could see the look of anticipation waiting in her eyes... yes... she had done her job... she had given a gift that touched my heart and sent tears streaming down my face.

It was no ordinary book... not one that could be purchased at any store... not written by a famous author. It was just me... my heart... tied up in a ribbon.

My Mom has been saving my blog posts to her computer, just in case, I suppose. Just in case the internet disappeared... just in case I decided I was done writing... just in case she wanted me to write a book. I can see her, painstakingly printing out page after page... and creating a binding she knew would hold... just for me. She took my heart and my words and created a beautiful book... just for me.
As I looked at my book, I wondered Did I really write all of that? I must have spoken out loud... because Mom answered with a yes. There were certainly days I thought I might be done... that there was nothing driving me to write... or to feel inspired by. But I was wrong. Ask and you will receive... seek and you shall find. Even in this silly hobby, God continues to give me a gift of words. He provides a window to my soul... so that I might grow... just a little more. And I am so thankful... because I know there is so much more to learn... about myself... and about Him.

I have enjoyed poking through my book... reliving moments from the past year. Remembering the tough days, and realizing how far I have come. Celebrating the days that were full of heartfelt joy... and recalling lessons I learned along the way. And as I wander through... I can still feel the process of my heart... the heart that seeks... the heart that is so thankful for all of these moments that are... beyond grace.

March 16, 2009

j is for...


Jesus.

The light in my life...
My Savior.
He fills me up...
My all in all.

He started out so tiny and new... the King of Kings.

These weeks of lent are so difficult for me... by Good Friday, I will be a mess... even though I know the end of the story. Cam & I talked about it... this road to the cross... and how blessed we are to know how this unbearable, but necessary, event turns out. It doesn't stop the pain from constricting in my heart... and it doesn't stop the tears from rolling down my face.

Every day I am thankful... for Jesus. And for the life I have because of Him.

enjoy more a to z mondays at unglazed!!

March 15, 2009

guess hooo?


Yes... if you build it, he will come.

It was so thrilling to see this little guy peek out of his very yellow house. And he was quite gracious to let me get so very close to him... and he didn't even seem to mind the flash of the camera. We all stood around and stared with disbelief... and awe. I can surley see John's backyard a few weeks from now... with a bright yellow screech owl house dotting every tree!!

March 13, 2009

watching and waiting

We are calling it Owl Watch 2009. Hoping that we have the right equipment to spot our owl, take a quick photo... and perhaps celebrate. Because it has been a long time coming...

You know there is a story, right? Although this is the first time our "owl watch" has an official name, we have been watching and waiting for two years. After a trip to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa, our friend John, with plans in hand, decided to build a screech owl house. Okay... he decided that the boys in our Cub Scout den would each build a screech owl house. He carefully cut the wood, and instructed the boys. With some extra house paint, the houses were looking sunny and sturdy. John hung his house in the backyard, before the paint was even dry. And he waited. After a few weeks, the light-hearted teasing began, because he was sure that a screech owl would have seen this brand new house and moved right in... what was taking so long? A few more weeks passed, and my friend Jenn (John's wife) came home with bad news. She had been to the zoo with the kids... and through talking to one of the keepers, found out that the paint on the house was mostly likely keeping the owls away. And that is when the light-hearted teasing stopped, and the fun really began. During our visits to their home, there would inevitably be fake screech owl calls, shout of I think I saw one!, and even owl sightings on the house itself... of course those owls were filled with fluff instead of covered with feathers. John has always been a good sport... and has even gotten in on the fun, himself. Last year they actually had birds in the house... but certainly not owls.

Last Tuesday night though... they think they really and truly spotted a screech owl. In the yellow house. They saw the eyes. They heard the screech. And now we are waiting. We have the chairs lined up across the deck, and we sit silently and wait. Never have our visits been so restrained.

As of today, two days after the initial sighting, John is getting impatient. He took the ladder out back and carefully peered into the house. Yep... there is something there. Perhaps tonight will be the night we see the screech owl... and the teasing will come to an end.

my chai

She warned me it would happen... and she was right. I am addicted to Chai tea. Carie started me drinking it, and now I cannot stop. And just this week, I learned that I really like it cold, as well as hot! Today, on our day off together, my hubby took me to Panera... and eyeing my tea, he asked me what it tasted like. Like coffee? No... but before I could tell him about the spicy flavors mixed with honey and vanilla, he was sipping from my straw. He looked me straight in the eye and said You are drinking potpourri. I smiled and he started with the gagging sounds... then he gulped his Pepsi(yes, Jenn, PEPSI!) and swished it around in his mouth... to get the potpourri flavor out from between his teeth? The expressions on his face made me laugh out loud... and I am assured that he will never sip my chai tea again!

March 11, 2009

a sweet little story

One of my biggest childhood regrets was cutting Skipper's hair. She was brand new, and I don't know what possessed me... I guess I thought she just needed a little trim. But... I didn't trim it straight... the left was longer than the right... then the right longer than the left. Before I knew it, Skipper was sporting a very short bob. I was heart sick... and felt guilty for ruining a toy... especially a new one. Probably out of guilt, I made sure she never got left behind... she always got to ride in the car with Barbie... shop at the boutique for a new outfit... I even got her a horse. I certainly learned my lesson and never ever cut another doll's hair.

I have been a lucky Mom. Neither of my children have ever taken scissors to a prized toy... or their own hair. Well, at least not in a way that was obvious. Because there was one summer that I found a beautiful picture, drawn by my daughter... with little bits of her beautiful blond hair glued on here and there. She must have trimmed her hair from underneath... I just couldn't tell that she even did it. I didn't stay mad long.... but I figured she would never do it again. I was so furious that I threw the picture away... but oh, how I wish I had saved it. How I would love to post it right here for all to admire...

School was starting up... Laura headed off to kindergarten... and I was lending my hands at the pre-school... preparing for the new little ones. Reliving summer memories, I mentioned to Miss Julie what Laura had done... and expressed that I couldn't imagine where she would have gotten the idea to cut her hair. The look on Miss Julie's face was priceless... and clearly, she was wavering between remorse and laughter. So I waited... and then she said I'm sorry. It is my fault. My look of disbelief caused her to elaborate... and soon we were both smiling, with a tear or two escaping down our cheeks. You see... there is a story.

In the last days of pre-school, Miss Julie had shared a story with her little ones... a story about a little girl named Lucy... who was making a beautiful picture for her Grandfather... who was blind. Lucy used scraps of fabric and paper to create a story her Grandfather could see... with his hands. Lucy made sure to include a golden retriever... and covered the dog with her golden hair...

Oh... how I wish I had saved that picture....

March 09, 2009

i is for...




ice cream.

Yes... ice cream. Really, what else could it be for me? Even though our family sold our ice cream shop almost fifteen years ago... our love for all things ice cream has never ended. Having our shop was one of the best things in my life. It was... my summer job... my social life. It made me proud... and it made me work hard. It was a far-fetched dream we all made come true... with a special make-believe friend at the center of it all. It was sticky summer nights, with no end in sight... as my Mom & I danced around each other serving up a storm. It was a learning experience like no other. It was where I met my husband. Do I miss it? There are lots of things I miss about Wilbur's Ice Cream Store... that is why I have ice cream treasures tucked here and there around my house. Maybe one day, there will be a Wilbur's Way South... maybe.


Happy A to Z Monday!

March 06, 2009

she did it!

I didn't think I was going to get emotional... but I did. Cried right there in the Department of Motor Vehicles. Why? Because my daughter passed the eye exam. Oh... and she got her Learner's Permit.

When she was six weeks old the doctor told us that she would never be able to drive a car... and once again, Laura has proved her wrong. I prayed about it all day... asking God for her to pass the eye test... but knowing that I didn't want her to pass if it wouldn't be safe for her... or for others. But she did pass... and I am filled with thanksgiving from my head right down to my toes.

(In case you are new, here are a few other posts about my daughter's striking eyes...She's Growing Up... Angel Eyes )

So... let the driving begin!! And God? Now that You have accomplished greatness with her eye exam... could You possibly direct an extra ounce or two of patience my way? Thank you... I'm going to need it!

today i am thankful...

A new day has begun... and the sun is shining just a little brighter. Yesterday Eric was the talk of the town... fifteen minutes of fame he could've lived without... and today he is old news. I suppose we are hopeful that the paper might print a retraction, of sorts... but the reality is that if there is a more truthful story, it will most likely appear on page 57, whereas the sensationalized story was the front page headliner. But today... I am thankful. I am thankful for the truth, as it is recorded second by second on film. I am thankful for an agency that continues to embrace a man serving his community... and a family that stands beside us- but would be willing to stand in front of us, if the need arise. I am thankful for the friends who have rallied around us through phone calls, letters to the editor, prayers and hugs... whether they live around the corner or states away, including all of the well-wishers who have touched my heart here, on my blog. I am thankful... that God has placed all of these people in our life... and even for the experience itself... as it brings along lessons to learn and hold tightly to. Yes, today, I am thankful.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phil 4:6

March 05, 2009

when the world reaches in.

our home is our haven. our little corner, where all is as it should be. safe. loving. honest. when our kids were smaller, and they would argue with each other, we would remind them… these four walls are where you are safe from the world… and sometimes family is all you have… so take care to remember their feelings. and somehow, life just slipped back into peace… and all was well, once again. home. where your heart lives.

but, last night the world came ‘round.

i locked the doors… latched the windows, and pulled the shades… trying to keep the ugliness out… and maintain the peace that resides within. we should have shut off the television… and pulled the plug on the computer. but we didn’t. because we needed to know. we needed to know what people were saying… about my husband… and the incident at work. the small story that has been embellished and sensationalized. but we needed to know. not just to satisfy our curiosity… but so that we could prepare. prepare our hearts for battle… prepare our children for what might come along. because it is our job… to keep them safe… even if it is just safe from other people’s words and thoughts. is it fair that they might be asked to defend a moment that doesn’t even belong to them? no. but they would do it willingly if called up. it hurts… when the world reaches into your home and stirs up ugliness. why would people lie? why would someone do that? why?

our home is our haven. our little corner of the world, where we can crawl under the covers and hide… where we can come together with conversations about truth and the media… where we can simply hold on until the tidal wave has passed. because tomorrow there will be another story… about something equally unimportant… and our little life will be waiting… right where we left it.

March 04, 2009

falling short, second guessing and the learning curve

How many days are there... that I look back and see… that I have missed the mark? Or maybe… how many times a day do I realize, try as I might… that once again I have fallen short? Fallen short of my goal… fallen short of my own expectations… fallen short of God’s plan for me?

I was fallen from the first…

I suppose I am thankful that He expects it… for He knows that I cannot even come close to perfection. Maybe it is not what He wants from me anyway. Perhaps, it is where He expects me to grow.

I am not a stranger to the darkness…

I am not a worrier, but I am a second guesser. I step out with a plan, be it mine, or His… and there I am looking over my shoulder. Was this the right path? Should I have taken a left where I had thought Certainly right? Sometimes I simply walk… with no thought at all… just moving forward to my destination… without considering the consequences at all. And when I finally take that glance back behind me… I realize that I have messed up. Again. I have not asked all of the questions. I have not left my ducks neatly in their row.

From the ashes and the dirt…

I am thankful… that so far… the only one to suffer has been me. I am the one who feels that sting behind my eyes… that will soon lead to tears. I am the one who clutches her stomach, due to the pit that has settled there as a reminder. Why did I not ask for help? Why did I not listen to that soft tap that surely must have been God’s hand on my shoulder?

You fashion beauty from the wounds I’ve carried…

Because I am still learning. And apparently, there is quite a learning curve. And it seems I must live my mistakes… own them… and adjust. I will learn to ask the right questions when my daughter is planning an outing. I am new at this… and I want to be that Mom who sends her children off confidently into their teen years. But I need to remember to ask more than who is going… and where. And although I don't feel justified in this, I am pretty new at being a cop’s wife, too. But I should have thought beyond myself… and realized it might be hours before he was able to come home… to our son. Yes, he was taken care of… but who should have been the caretaker? Me. His Mom.

Nothing lost, and all redeemed in You.

I am so thankful for forgiveness… I know I need only ask it of my Creator, and it is mine. It should erase the need for me to forgive myself… since He has already erased it from existence. But here I am… still in need. If I listen closely though… I can hear His voice… calling. And His hand is surely resting there… on my shoulder.

Beautifully broken in Your eyes
You see the man my sins disguise
You took my place
You saved my life
Miraculouse love, sweet sacrifice
Beautifully broken.

lyrics from Beautifully Broken by Beautiful Republic

March 02, 2009

h is for...


...hat.
Here is a better view of the HAT in question... even though it did not scan in with any sort of quality!! Now... on with my story...

I love this hat. Camden loves this hat... still. Even though it is finally too small for him (eight years later!) This hat has probably gotten more wear than any other Disney hat purchased... or should I say... hats. Maybe. Because it is really two hats.
This was our first trip to Disney World with the kids... a wonderful gift from my parents... and we had so much fun seeing it all, and seeing it through little eyes. We knew that these kiddos needed their first Mickey Ears... and Laura spotted hers right away- attached to a shimmering, sparkling princess-y hat. Not your traditional Mickey Ears... but she loved the hat, and it was really sweet on her. And so on to Cam. The Sorcerer's hat was cool- but no ears... and that was really our only requirement. Of course, thinking back, this really shows what a go-with-the-flow kid Camden has always been! Here he was, five years old, and he didn't insist on any other hat, or even say boo at our "requirements!" (The require-ers being Mom & Gramma!)
It was the second to last day at Disney... and still no hat for the most patient boy in all the kingdom. Until we went to Animal Kingdom. They had wonderful safari hats with ears... but no kids sizes... and Cam was quite a small five year old! While we were looking, Cam asserted his independence and found his own hat. Just his size. Safari-ish. Fuzzy Mickey on the front. No ears. But he wanted it... I think he was tired of hat shopping, and he really just wanted this one. A mother's disappointment spun around in my head... until I spotted the traditional Mickey Ears on the black cap. I looked them over... then went to the register. Do you have a stapler? The salesman looked at me strangely, and finally said yes. Could I please borrow it? When he said yes, we bought the two hats- traditional Mickey Ears, and the beloved fuzzy Mickey hat, and I began crafting. Yes- right there in the store. It probably killed that man to watch me deface those plastic ears, but I went on. One ear off. Two ears off. One ear on... staple, staple, staple. Second ear on... staple, staple, staple. Ta-Da!! And everyone was happy. Cam got the hat he wanted... and my Mom & I got our ears.
Cam has gotten compliments for years... in fact, on a trip back to Disney a couple of years later, one of the cast members recognized his hat. And I am certainly sure that Disney has seen the error of their ways and my creation is probably selling for $29.95. Sure... it would've been nice to receive a commission... but the smile on this boy's little face is worth the world to me.