Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The lost art of letter writing

Today the mailman brought me a letter. 

A real, honest to goodness letter. 

I can't even tell y'all how happy it made my heart! It was just a few words offered in encouragement, but they meant more than a 500 word e-mail or a barrage of texts. I think it was because I knew it cost her something. Not just in the stamp, but in time. Time is a commodity in short supply for most of us, but she made it a priority to pull out paper and pen, putting her thoughts into handwritten words.  It made me feel warm and fuzzy, like a sweet long-distance hug. When was the last time reading a text made you feel warm and fuzzy inside? 

Use to be that letter writing was our main form of communication. I remember going off to college as a freshman and leaving my boyfriend (now hubby) behind. Back then long distance phone calls were still charged by the minute so those tended to be few and far between. There was no texting, Facebook, Skype or Facetime. Letter writing was all we had. And boy did we write...sometimes daily. I still have every single one of those letters saved in my hope chest. Not that I read them often, but they represent the love we had for each other in those early days. They are a tangible representation of the growth of our relationship. While I love it when my hubby shoots me a text saying he loves me, it can't compare with a handwritten expression of that love.

Don't get me wrong, technology is a blessing when it comes to keeping in touch with people, especially those far away, but it's just not the same. I say we start a letter writing revolution! What if just once a week we put down our phones and sent a hand written note to someone instead of a text? Think of the joy when it arrives in their mailbox. The smile on their face as they read your words of love and encouragement. It will be worth the time it takes you...I promise. 

So who's with me?

Friday, August 7, 2015

No words...

I've always loved to write. As long as I can remember I've been filling notebooks with thoughts, prayers and dreams. There has never been a shortage of words. It's free therapy really. For some reason things seem to make more sense when I can get them out of my head and onto paper. There's a semblance of order that begins to happen as the words a painting taking shape at the hands of an artist.

But then there are times when the pain is so real that there are no words. There is simply no way to make order out of chaos. Things just need to sit for awhile; to settle. Thankfully, time has a way of helping us regain a bit of perspective; perspective that's important for putting things into words once again.

Our family is walking a hard road right now. A road that I am not ready to put into words. I know at some point the Lord is going to use our story for His glory as He brings beauty from the ashes, but the words aren't ready just yet. They're in there, tumbling around and being refined, but they're not ready...I'm not ready. And that's OK. 

It's more than OK, because it's our story. You can't tell an artist what to paint or a writer what to write anymore than you call tell someone what their story SHOULD look like.

One thing I know to be true - God is faithful. He sees our journey from beginning to end and He has a plan in it all. Of that I am certain...and every so thankful.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Light in the darkness

We've had weird spring weather this year. More clouds and rain than usual have made for some pretty amazing sunrises. I never tire of is evidenced by the number of photos on my camera. My favorite place to steal away for my quiet time is the back patio. Coffee in hand, the view of the sun coming up over the mountains is the perfect backdrop for my chats with the Lord.

This morning the weather seemed to mirror my thoughts. Dark menacing clouds boiled behind me as I poured out my heart to the Lord. Tough stuff. Life stuff. Stuff that takes your breath away and leaves you clinging to Him. Over the mountains the clouds lingered, but as I prayed the sun suddenly burst from behind a cloud almost blinding me. What joy! There, in the midst of the darkness, was hope. As the darkness threatened to overtake, the light came flooding in. My prayers were turned to praise and I realized the Light is always at work in the darkness. This morning He painted me a sunrise as a powerful reminder.

There are reminders all around us. We just need to slow down long enough to take them in. To let them wash over us, reminding us that the trials we're facing are but a momentary blip on heaven's radar. All this will one day give way to an eternity with Jesus...where the Light will shine brightly and He will wipe all our tears. All the tough stuff will be nothing more than a memory. What a sweet promise that is my friends! 

Until then, enjoy the sunrise.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The thing about parenting when it's HARD

Life has sort of knocked me on my butt these last few months. Just being real. I'll sum it all up by saying parenting is hard. Not potty training hard...I mean raising teenagers hard. If you have teens I bet you're shaking your head right now. See, I use to say my least favorite part of parenting was potty training. It was the first thing those wiggly little humans really had complete control over and they would do it when they were darn well ready. Yeah, that was kinda hard.

Then they grew up and decided they would make their own decisions. Oy vey! Sometimes those decisions make me stand up and cheer, sometimes they make me cringe and sometimes they make me just want to curl up in a ball and cry. Yep, I've done all three. Good, bad or indifferent, they're learning all decisions have consequences and those consequences never affect just one person. They're learning how to live with consequences and make the best of them.

Me? I'm learning to pray. Oh, I knew how to pray before, or at least I thought I did. The whole "pray without ceasing" thing? It takes on a whole new meaning when your kids decide to find their own way. You wake up praying, pray in the shower, the car, while making dinner and then you fall asleep praying. Repeat daily for the REST OF THEIR LIVES. Yep, it's a whole new dimension of prayer.

Through it all here's what I know to be TRUE: God has a plan for each of our kids. We've known that from the start, but my little Pollyanna outlook had me believing those "plans" would be all rainbows and unicorns. It honestly never occurred to me that in order to fulfill the plans my kids might have to go through a whole lot of junk. Junk that will refine them to do exactly what He has called them to. Oh how that junk hurts my momma heart! We want to protect our kids from pain, but the pain is the sandpaper (or in some cases the sledgehammer) God uses to polish out the imperfections so they will shine for Him.

I may be knocked on my butt, but I don't doubt that God is still in control and working all things together for good. He's like that...faithful when we're faithless, sovereign when we fail and able to see the bigger picture when our eyes are so blurred by tears we can't see what's right in front of us. He'll pick us up, wipe our tears, dust us off and send us right back out there to keep fighting for these amazing kids he's loaned us to raise. 

And he gave us coffee...just one more proof he loves us dearly.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

God - the ultimate hacker

We recently got a nasty virus on our computer. We didn't know it at the time, but woke up one morning to find our computer had completely reset. Wiped clean. Eight years of photos...our kids entire childhood...gone. The documents, while disappointing to lose, can be recreated. The photos cannot.

Desperate, we took it to a friend in our homeschool group who we are affectionately now calling our very own "computer genius". Yes he is. Turns out we had the same virus that took out all the East Coast banks last year. It's a savage beast that wipes your hard drive clean. While the virus had reset everything, the Lord sovereignly protected our data and photos and our resident "computer genius" was able to save it all! Yipee! He cleaned up the virus and restored what was to dear to our hearts. Now our kids won't grow up and accuse us of having no photos of them.

Lately I've seen the Lord working in similar ways. A virus invades our lives. It wreaks havoc on our systems - emotional, physical, spiritual and leaves devastation in its wake. Dreams are erased, Hopes altered. Much is lost. Maybe the virus lays dormant for awhile. We don't even know it's there until one morning we wake up to its destruction. Or maybe the damage is done a little at a time, but with the same devastating effects.

However it works, it has but one source and purpose. The purpose of this computer virus was to wipe out information. It was created by evil people, with an evil intent. Satan is the creator of the viruses that threaten our lives. His purpose? To steal, kill and destroy God's people. But thankfully God is the ultimate computer genius! He is able to hack the hacker, saving what was meant for evil and restoring it for good. The virus, engineered to destroy, doesn't have to be life altering. Instead it can remind us of what's important and of who is really in control. 

We're so grateful that our photos were saved and the virus removed. Even more grateful knowing God is able to restore our lives when things get hacked.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Four reasons Elf will never sit on my shelf

This whole elf on the shelf thing...I'm not a big fan. Not that he's not cute and all. His funny antics can be seen on social media posts throughout the holiday season. People are so clever! He's certainly a naughty little thing, but I can see how his mischievous escapades would delight children and parents alike. Me? I'm not so delighted.

Four reasons Elf will never sit on my shelf:

1. Failure people...failure. 

Every single day of December this whole elf thing would set me up to fail. Coming up with something cute and comical for him to do on a daily basis would leave me completely stressed out. I'm the mom who who rushes in all ninja like seconds before my kids wake up to replace the tooth with the money because I forgot...again. Four kids and Lord knows how many teeth and I STILL forget. After a few days of forgetting to move the little thing I would probably just have to tell the kids that he met with an unfortunate accident and was no longer with us. 

2. He makes a mess! 

I already spend the majority of my life cleaning up after five other people and a dog. Why would I knowingly add another member whose sole job is to make messes and get into trouble? Nope. Not gonna do it.

3. Expectations. 

When our kids were little I came up with this great idea for hiding their Easter baskets. We tied a piece of string to their bedposts and had them follow their colored string to find the hidden surprise. Sounds like fun doesn't it? Well, apparently it was a little too much fun because now they are teens and it is their FAVORITE tradition of the year! Heaven forbid we should miss it. We skipped the year Dad had knee surgery and they've never forgiven us. Do you know how much time it takes to intertwine four skeins of yarn all over the inside AND outside of the house? Trust's a long time. Traditions are great, but just make sure it's one you're willing to continue until the cherubs move out.

4. It doesn't make sense. 

The premise is that Elf is checking up on kids to see if they're being naughty or nice so he can report back to Santa. But from what I can tell most of his antics would certainly fall into the naughty category. So the elf is going with the "do as I say, not as I do" theory of parenting? Nope. It doesn't make sense.

Now don't get me wrong. If you are a parent who has welcomed Elf into your home with open arms then great...kuddos to you. I'm just glad he's busy making messes at your house and not mine because I'm pretty sure if Elf were on my shelf he just might send me over the edge of Christmas sanity. Just bein' real people...just bein' real.

So, is Elf hanging out on your shelf this year?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pioneer Woman U-mazing mashed potatoes

As I write today the doors and windows are flung open and the sun is shining.

It's November. The day before Thanksgiving.

We live in Idaho...where it's cold.

Do you see the significance of this for my Texas lovin' heart? Yes, it's a big deal.

My fridge is stuffed to the brim with all my Southern Thanksgiving favorites just waiting to be popped into the oven tomorrow. It's all I can do to keep my fingers out of the cornbread dressing and chocolate chess pie. Oh my!

I've been at it all morning, but just had to stop and tell y'all about the Pioneer Woman's mashed potatoes. I seriously think they have changed my life. They are U-MAZING!! Of course they are made with copious amounts of butter, a whole brick of cream cheese AND half & half. Yep, they're that good. The best part is you make them ahead, add more butter to the top and bake them on Thanksgiving. No more last minute stress trying to get the potatoes finished, make the gravy and carve the turkey all at once. Yah for me!

Since the Pioneer Woman takes such great pics of every step of the cooking process, here's a link to her's. I promise you will thank me. You may even stop in the middle of your Thanksgiving dinner to drop me a note of gratitude for such an amazing recipe.

You're welcome and happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. May your turkey be moist, your gravy without lumps and the desserts plentiful.

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