September 22, 2016

hello fall...

I put out some fall decorations over the weekend, and when I sent Suz a quick picture, an absurd texting conversation ensued. We only wish that when a certain number of people hauled out their fall decorations that the temperatures would fall to reasonable. Today it is supposed to be two degrees above average. What is average? Apparently 90.

Most people will tell you that there is no fall in Florida, and I used to buy into that, but the past few years have changed my mind. We may not be treated to the colorful autumn display that our northern friends enjoy, but as I have walked the boardwalks and trails, I have seen the changing leaves cling to the branches, and when the sun sets, I have felt the occasional coolness set in. Last week, as we went over to watch the high school band practice, the air was downright heavenly. By November we should have daily beautiful air!

Camden is settled back into school in Iowa, and maybe he will send us some pictures of northern fall, but in the meantime, we will seek and enjoy the little bits of fall that Florida sends our way.

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August 24, 2016

life lately {and then there was july}...

If June was healing, July was busy.
Busy with life, and fully enjoy the days again...

1. We had a small Third of July dinner at our house, and we grilled 
romaine lettuce for the first time. It won't be the last! I loved it!

2. Our traditional before they go to Africa dinner... I'm sorry, Tina & Oakley, 
that you didn't fit in the frame! It was a fun night and they had a great trip!

3. With the arrival of this shirt, I could finally bundle up our shirts for the NYG and pack! 

4. A quick trip to Disney Springs and finally getting to try this little cake 
I had been dreaming of. It was almost as good as I wanted it to be...

5. Our first Wine Club Dinner at Cooper's Hawk was beyond fantastic!

6. I loved this thank you I got in the mail... one I will keep.

7. At the NYG and finding our girl at her volunteer job! 
We loved that she had the opportunity to be a YAV!

8. The four of us, together again!

9. Our great friends hosted a little Christmas in July party, complete with 
a great dollar store gift exchange. I loved seeing these two picking up right 
where they left off last summer...


I am enjoying catching up....

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August 23, 2016

winding down {but trying not to think about it}...


Last year at this time we were making the long, beautiful drive to Iowa...
It was mostly just corn fields, and while they were beautiful, I think more of the beauty was found inside the car, along the way. Laughter, chatter, and time. Those long days of driving and exploring that we had together before leaving him at college were a gift... one I wouldn't trade for the world.

Camden is still home... for two more weeks. I am trying not to count the days. And this year, he'll fly back to Iowa, retrieve his stuff from storage, and move himself in. Yes, part of me wants to be there. The other part? The other part of me hates moving and knows that this is a life skill that will serve him well over the years. He has already proven he can manage it with the summer moving in & out of the dorms, so this time I am not even going to worry.

Pretty soon we'll have to start pulling together everything he has strewn about our daily life, and zip it into his suitcase, but for right now, there is still time to be carefree. Cam & Laura have enjoyed his time home probably more than any of us. Their friendship goes beyond brother & sister, and I am thankful for yet another gift. Last night they cooked dinner together, and I will never tire of hearing their voices, just within earshot, bantering back and forth, and just being silly.

I am so thankful that we have taught them to be silly, and hopeful that they will hold onto it for their whole life...
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August 19, 2016

healing june...

Dear June,
Thank you. Thank you for being the start of healing me. You were my fresh start, my second (fourth?) chance, the window that let peace find its way in again. 

Maybe I will never overcome the first day jitters, but it was all joy once I arrived at my new job and was welcomed with arms wide open. It has been a great change for me, and an easy adjustment. I miss my friends at the old place, but once I realized that just walking in the door there filled me with an anger, the choice to leave was made. I could compile a whole list of why I love my new job, but the most important reason is the peace that it has brought to my soul. 
Peace also comes to me here... the gentle sound of the gulf, the laughter that bubbles up from me when I watch the coquinas dig their way back into the sand, and the way a walk along the shore clears my mind to make way for new blessings.
I knew in May that I would have to repeat the surgery from last October. I had two procedures in between, we scheduled the big surgery for August, then moved it up to June. That October ordeal was lingering in my head, but I was hopeful that it would not be repeated, and I prayed for an easier time. My parents decided that they would come across to Miami this time, and I was thankful for a kiss and an I love you from my Mom before I was rolled away. As always, Eric was by my side until they sent him to the waiting room. When I woke up in recovery I felt good, and was so thankful for a successful surgery. We even went home that night. Eric is such a good caretaker... I am ever thankful that he puts up with me. Will the surgery be a forever fix this time around? I just don't know, but it was worth a(nother) shot. 
And, June, when the end of you rolled around, I felt like I was enjoying the new beginning of me. I still had a lot on my plate, and a little more time to devote to healing, but you surrounded me with the people who love me... and you reminded me that laughter, friends, cheesecake, wine, and even salad, can sometimes be some of the very best medicine. 

Oh June, thank you... from the bottom of my heart.
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August 18, 2016

look...



Even
After 
All this time 
The sun never says to the Earth...

"You Owe Me."

Look
What happens
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky.

-anonymous

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August 17, 2016

twenty-four years...

We decided to celebrate a day early, because, why not? We started the day off at our favorite breakfast spot (we were in the area) then moved on to errands and groceries. It is the love wound through daily life that makes twenty-four years so beautiful.
After we whispered goodnight, I said I didn't get you a card, so don't get me one. He laughed back I didn't. So, is the romance gone after all these years? Not at all. It is found in the doors held open, taco Tuesdays, the key tumbling in the lock, the sharing I love yous in the mess of midweek... the being home to one another.

It was a beautiful anniversary celebrating this beautiful life.
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August 16, 2016

fitting it in...

It doesn't feel quite like summer without a little family vacation, but it has been almost impossible to schedule it with Cam spending most of this summer in Iowa. But... he's home now, and we decided to scoot away this past weekend, the four of us, and pick up where we left off at SeaWorld.

It doesn't really matter where we go as much the being together matters. I can definitely feel that the beginning of the end is in sight... that family trips will soon be the exception rather than the rule. Even more reason to cherish four.
The day was grand, and full of thrills. Seventeen roller coaster rides for them, about half of that for me, and a few less for Eric. For the most part, we trekked the park as a group, enjoying the shows and time together. We let them loose to ride the new roller coaster a few more times while we... rested.
There is nothing like walking ten miles under the Florida summer sun!  We did find a few places to cool off though... like the Arctic, and Antarctica! I think Camden would have also liked the front row at the Shamu show.... but the top row of the splash zone was as close as I was willing to get!

At the end of the day, we were still laughing, still enjoying just being together. There is no more success than that...
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August 11, 2016

life lately...the rest of may

I haven't quite decided if I want to look back, or move forward... but I had fun scrolling through the May memories...

1. Camden had to fly back to Iowa through Orlando, which was the perfect excuse to
spend the day at SeaWorld. The shark tunnel was empty, which never happens,
so I made them back up for a picture!

2. Instead of dinner at SeaWorld, we met up with Cam's friend Jason...
because what college kid couldn't benefit from a free meal?!

3. After the airport we zipped into Disney Springs! Aristocrepes was not open...

4. but the Sprinkles ATM was! Red Velvet.

5. Wine club night a Cooper's Hawk! Wine is good, but friends are even better.

6. This cat! This is her new favorite way to lounge...

7. Memorial Day service of American Friendship is one of my favorites...
maybe because of the flags!

8. And we topped it off with a beach sunset.

9. Planning, planning...for the NYG in July.
Once this chart is finalized I might be able to breathe!

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August 08, 2016

through the woods...

Yesterday had me content on the couch, in my pajamas, enjoying the Olympics. But I kept hearing a voice in my head saying win the weekend, it's not too late. With sleepy eyes, and not too much convincing in my voice, I suggested a walk to the swamp. I think it was met with the same unconvinced heart. But...
It was just what I needed, as it almost always is. The sky was overcast, holding off the heat, and as we made our way deeper into the swamp, we could feel the air cool just a little bit more. As we passed the trees with the red lichen, I took a few extra deep breaths, drinking that best air into my system.

It has been a tough weekend, with a traffic incident that has shaken me (everyone is okay) and wreaked havoc on my heart. Today it seemed just right to surround myself with God's beauty, a reminder that no matter what, He is everything... and has created everything I need.

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August 05, 2016

the last five steps...

It was the last five steps that were my undoing. 
I made it through the last week with only joy... no undercurrent of any emotion but joy.

When I spotted him coming around the corner, I waved, but Cam's head was down. When he looked up, he saw me instantly and returned the wave. His pace did not increase. He is the laid back one. I held the railing as an anchor, holding me back from rushing the security barrier, and he smiled. In his never ending quest to make me laugh, he began to walk in exaggerated slow motion... and the tears spilled down from out of nowhere. The next moment had his arms around me, muffling the sobs. And I whispered... everyday you come home to me is the best day ever.

**This was written at the beginning of May... he was home for ten days. Our boy is finally home again after this very short trip! He spent the summer back in Iowa researching Monarch butterflies. It was a great opportunity for him... but we are so glad to have him home for a month this time!**


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August 03, 2016

life lately...

When I'm feeling on top of my life, I snap away at the moments, soaking them in, each seeming too sacred to miss. In the midst of my mess, I find fewer and fewer memories recorded... just when I should be seeking His gifts relentlessly. 
1. Taking time out for a beach walk... heavenly. It was even better to catch up
with a friend for six miles, and then another hours rest. 

2. A little spring cleaning... making our doorstep say welcome! I loved that I found something in the house that would make a great shade for the outdoor light... just add zip ties.

3. When Cam & John went to college this fall, we decided we {with Jenn & John}
needed a hobby. Jenn suggested bowling... but wine won when Cooper's Hawk opened.
Monthly wine tastings are better than bowling. 

4. After months and months of our cordless phone dying on pick-up,
we broke down and bought a battery. It seemed like a huge milestone. 

5. Crème brûlée by Eric. Delicious

6. Spring walks at Bird Rookery Swamp are a sure way to my heart... and a clear mind.

7. I call it beach litter... and I adore all of the little bits that are tossed up, so artfully, by the sea. 


8. When it is just-about-time for your son to come home, there is shopping to do!


9. I laughed and laughed about how now that "I" am out of school, I still have
school projects... like these little thank yous to the teachers at Eric's schools. They have
made him feel so welcome during his first year as a Youth Relations Deputy.



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August 02, 2016

i realize the why...


I've been writing, off and on, for over eight years.
I have wondered if the words will cease, and joy blooms when I can hear them in my heart again. My words are for me, but I have enjoyed sharing along the way. Sometimes I go back and read... to see where I have been, to gauge where I am. To acknowledge my voice, to make sure I am still me. 

There are lessons, there are things that make me smile, and there are words that bring back the tears as if transported back to that moment in time. I write to remember, to celebrate, and... it occurs to me now, I write to worship.

When I go back and read, I see it.
I see the worshiping... the singing thanks for the gifts that He has lavished upon me. The sunsets, the sea, the love, and the mess of me.

I am nothing without God, the author of my life. He has me on a journey... one that will begin again in His arms. But in the now, He nudges me to notice, to give thanks, to revel in the beauty He has created.

The words are coming around again...

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August 01, 2016

the re-start of me...


Deep breath in...exhale.
It is hard to start, harder to keep going. And the re-start? It might be the hardest of all. But I must begin. For me.

I have been marking time for too many months, in too many, if not all, aspects of my life. Maybe I cannot change the way my body & soul react to an interrupt, but at forty-four, I know that I need not stay there. That I can't, because there is too much life and living to do.

In the interrupt, the limbo {which I am so not good at}, I have captured the daily gifts in small ways, let them bring me joy for the moment, and then... forgotten to celebrate them the way that makes me whole. Forgotten? Perhaps I've been incapable. Or maybe it is a mix of both, with some stress, fear, and sadness mixed in.

What I know is this... I am not fully me, not living my best life, without the celebrating. 

For someone who is not great at finishing things, it surprises me that I feel I need to finish one stage of my life to move on with the next. After the graduation party, after we get him settled at school, after the surgery, after the recovery, after... And life goes on, happening day by day, month by month, while I wait to get through the next big thing. Maybe I had to many big things happening all at once.

And then the unexpected... my job imploded. My boss resigned the week before Christmas, leaving us truly heartbroken. It was her only choice, the circumstances ugly, and as a team of three, we could hardly go on. It only got worse in the limbo... additional work, added stress, an uncomfortable replacement, and the hope for something better seemed unrealistic when we had already had the best. But hope, we did... until there wasn't any left.

I started a new job in June, and I am finally resurfacing from the dark. In the meantime, I repeated the October surgery (it went much easier this time) and am hopeful that this time will be the last. Two weeks ago we took our youth group back to New Orleans for the NYG, and finally, I feel like time might be on my side.

Time. We all have the same 24 hours in each day... but it is up to us to figure out how to dole out the hours, where to spend the energy, who we can please and who we can't. I am so thankful that all of this is covered in Grace... that God renews us each and every day.

Today I am choosing to accept that renewing... and return to the practice of beauty seeking, celebrating, and being me.

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March 28, 2016

easter reflection...

The journey to Easter breaks me. Always. It doesn't matter if I have trudged through Lent or skipped through it. I arrive at the tomb crushed with the weight of sin and sadness - even though I know how the story ends! It makes me realize, though, that the only way to fully receive the gift of the Resurrection is to have your soul open wide. The trumpeting lilies and the golden alleluias sing a song of victory that heals the broken in me.
Then sings my soul...
And if you can't all be together for Easter, at least there is SnapChat...
It does my heart so much good that Cam has found a church home in Iowa. Thank you, God

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March 24, 2016

that sweet, sweet scent

I was three steps down my front walk when I noticed it, at last. I can smell the orange blossoms. I stopped and just breathed it in for a few moments, savoring that heady, rich scent. I was beginning to think that I might have missed it... or that with all of the building going on in our area that there were no longer any fruit trees close enough. But no, this morning, as I breathed in my fill of Jesus air, a peace that I have been craving washed over my heart.
: :
There are some years I am so in tune with the journey to Easter, intentionally taking every step from Ash Wednesday to Easter. And there are other years, like this one, where I find myself on the fringe, letting it happen without me. I let the Sunday sermons carry me to Easter, knowing full well that my heart needs more. I was so thankful, this past Sunday, to sit alert in my seat, and hear the whole story, word for very word.

Sunday night, we watched the live Passion event from New Orleans. It is the very place I associate with the journey, as it is the place I have grown the most in my faith, seeing the story played out in so many ways {here and here.} As that illuminated cross traveled the dark city streets, it felt so familiar, so personal. The music was divine... and as Trisha Yearwood sang her goodbye, my soul was shaking, tears were streaming down my face.

And so here I find myself, in the midst of Holy Week, needing to be filled and overwhelmed by Easter... and knowing that sweet scent was sent to do it.
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March 21, 2016

a fair day... sunflowers and boots

Our weekend started on Thursday night... it has been a while since that happened.
We have spent seven months adjusting to Eric's Monday through Friday schedule, and while I cherished our every-other-three-day-weekend, we are making due just fine. {And now I am laughing at myself, because not only did he work this Saturday, he took me along to work, too!}

We had a quick preview of the county fair on Thursday night. Just a stroll through, and a snack here and there. The real fun was Saturday, when the whole fourth grade in the whole county is invited to spend the morning at the fair and have it all to themselves {with many, many sheriff's deputies!} We arrived at Eric's school just after 7am, and in the next hour we checked in and loaded his fourth grade Jr. Deputies onto two buses, and headed for the fair. They were so excited. For a lot of these kids, from this school, this is probably their first and only chance...

As we walked the fair loop a few times, I smiled as Eric would shoot out his hand for a fist bump, or be surrounded by kids, excited to see him. He was made for this, working in the schools... even his really tough school. If these kids can have a few friendly encounters with the law, perhaps it will do them more good than we can know in the long run. Planting seeds...

We survived the fair... with the help a barn roof over our head in the downpour, four baby bunnies. and sunflowers galore. Life is good.

And... it got a little better.
After a solid nap, we dressed up in our boots for an Upscale Hoedown. Good friends, great food, more sunflowers, and a whole lot of laughter. It was so much fun {that I almost forgot we "worked" the morning away!} and I even managed to get my husband to dance. That's what happens when he tells me he is ready to go, but still has a drink in his hand.
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March 17, 2016

happy st. patrick's day

Tonight we'll celebrate with friends... corned beef sandwiches and Baileys in the shamrock glasses.
 It is tradition. Just like Friday night pizza and camping together.
May love & laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours wherever you may roam...
-Irish Proverb

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March 16, 2016

life lately... catching up

Hello there...
I am still here... but it seems that I have had these big happenings that stop me in my tracks. The anticipation, the enjoyment of the event, and then the recovery. I need to be better at scheduling my time so that I make the most of it all. Story of our lives, right? But here, in the every day, life has been happening.
1. I love early mornings when he says let's go to the farmer's market.
These apple roses were as delicious as they are beautiful!

2. This project has been going on for years... but I am finished at last.
I love watching my friend's children grow almost as much as I love to watch my own!

3. A little beach walk is never a bad idea.

4. And a walk on the boardwalk? The same. And it turns out the beach
is not the only place he can find heart shaped rocks.

5. Yes, we are taking one more group to the National LCMS Youth Gathering.
I told Eric I am retiring after this one.

6. Mardi Gras = King Cake

7. We tried something new this year... the Greek Festival!

8. We took a detour off the highway and found... strawberries.

9. Our Valentine treat was seeing Rend Collective in concert.
They are so much fun and it was nice to have the day away from the world.
1. Date night in the police car! It was my first time ever sitting in it!
Our destination was an awards dinner that the Sheriff was hosting.

2. The breakfast of road-trippers! Empanadas from the Farmers Market.

3. The destination of the road trip... meeting up with a dear friend and
watching her daughter ride her way to a blue ribbon. Last time we saw her ride she
was wearing braids & bows, but now she is all grown up!

4. A beautiful way to start any morning.

5. We had to take Camden's friends to see the Swamp Buggy Races.
Can't see them anywhere else!

6. We had to skip the championship game because of our 3am surgery wake-up call,
but we watched it on TV and cheered FGCU on to their win.

7. Cam & One-Eyed-Ida. 

8. Flowers sent from my office after {yet another} surgery.
I am fine, all is well... just another chapter in the series.

9. Honeycomb granny squares, crocheted with prayer.
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March 15, 2016

three days that meant the world...

At Christmas, when I asked him what he thought about coming home for Spring Break, I was surprised that he already had an answer. It was a no, and a yes. He and his friends had already started planning a road trip... and the destination just happened to be our house. Other than the worrying about four college kids on the road from Iowa to Florida, I loved the plan.

He arrived late Saturday night with his three friends. I heard them pull into the driveway and couldn't help but run outside {and maybe jump up & down... a little.} He let me fold him into my arms, and I loved that he held on as much as I did. That alone was worth the miles.

They played in the sun for three days. The house was full, Laura was thrilled to spend time with her brother, and we really got to know Cam's new people. I knew he would choose good ones, but to actually meet them and see their friendship in action was a joy.

On their last morning here, everyone wanted to sleep in. Maybe Cam, too... but after a sleepy goodbye from Eric, and a second from Laura a couple hours later, he was awake when I wandered by his door. We slipped out of the house quietly, and headed for the safari road and a walk along the trail.
Our walk was short and slow... and maybe the best hour I have spent with him since the last time we took this walk. He had so much to tell me, and I just listened. As the details spilled out of him, his set in stone plans and his maybes, I held them close and savored each one. It reminded me of what I have always known... he is going places. In his own time, making his own way. I can't help but join in his excitement.

And then it was time to say goodbye once again. My face was smiling, my heart was aching.
But this is what I was made for. Raise him up, and let him go.
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