I Broke My Blog

Well. I guess it was only a matter of time.

I updated one thing, deleted another, and next thing I knew…every custom change I had made on my blog was gone (and of course I never wrote down all the details so don’t know how to go back and fix it). Gasp! So I quickly picked another theme that I liked OK as-is and went with it.

I’m not going to pretend that this did not drive me batty. Batty I tell ya. But it’s just a blog, right? So for now, this is the new look. Sweet and simple.

Hope you all had a great weekend. It was fairly quiet in my neck of the woods. Enjoyed the gorgeous weather, slept in late, and finished a book. Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

Maybe I’ll find some words in the next few days. If the hour it took me to write this little post is any indication, I would say it’s highly unlikely. We’ll see! :)

Enjoy the start to a brand new week!

I Have No Words

Seriously. No words. At least no words that make up a coherent, purposeful thought.

I have started writing seven different posts since my last one. I sit down, I start to write, and then I just stop. Either the words come or they don’t. And right now they don’t.

Sometimes, though, I just need to sit down and write something. It may be random. It may not make much sense. It may be completely boring. But at least it’s something. It moves those creative juices from a slow drip to a slight trickle.

I think right now things are just busy. There are only four weeks left in this school year (FOUR WEEKS, people!) and I’m doing my best to help the kids finish well. We are all so ready to just be done, but it’s not time to check out yet. Soon. Soon the curriculum will be turned in, end of the year programs will be finished, and we can stop setting our alarms everyday. Glory!

Hopefully soon I’ll be able to string some words together. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to slowly finish some of those posts sitting quietly in the corner and to share some things I’m learning, struggling through, and thinking about. Because even though I may not have many words fleshing themselves out here, there are plenty of words rattling around in my head. I simply need to sort them out.

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{My friend, Kat (who writes at Inspired to Action and How They Blog) posted a vlog yesterday about why sometimes we need to blog badly. I think I may have hit the bullseye with this one!}

Of Baseballs, Dreams, and Cacti

arizona1{Cacti. I like that word.}

And just like that Spring Break is over. Oh, well. I knew it wouldn’t last forever. The good news is there are only eight weeks left until summer break! Crazy. This has been the fastest school year yet.

I started writing a big ol’ post this weekend about our trip to Arizona, but it was just getting way too rambly. I don’t think it’s necessary to give you a play by play of our entire trip. So here are the highlights.

We camped at Picacho Peak State Park while in Arizona. What I loved most about it was that it was filled with saguaro cacti. The park is located in the Sonora Desert, which is the only place where saguaro grow. They are fascinating to me and so much bigger than I would have thought. We didn’t end up spending a whole lot of time at the campground, but I sure enjoyed the time we were there.

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Sunday morning we drove into the Phoenix area to watch the Rangers play the Mariners in a Spring Training game. We have talked about doing this for several years, but it’s just never worked out before. I am so glad we went. It was a blast! The weather was gorgeous. I can totally see why so many people head to Arizona during the winter.

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The kids waited in line for about 45 minutes hoping to get some baseballs signed. The game was scheduled to begin at 1:05 pm and at 1:00 we were finally up to the front of the line. There were only a couple Rangers players still warming up on the field so I wasn’t sure we were going to have any luck, but when they started walking back to the dugout Abigail started waving her hands to get their attention and one came over. Yay! He signed Abigail’s baseball and then Isabel’s and then walked off just as Micah got to the railing. Crusher! I know the guy wasn’t trying to be rude. There were several others behind us and the game was about to start, but oh man! He was pretty disappointed. Around the 8th inning though, Micah went down to “autograph alley” and ended up getting four players to sign the baseball…two Mariners and two Rangers. Nice! (That’s Micah in the green shirt in the second and third pics.)

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It was such a fun day and I hope we make it over there again sometime!

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Monday we drove back in to Phoenix to go to the zoo. The first half we walked through we were not impressed. At all. At one point Micah made a comment that it reminded him of a carnival. He was right. There weren’t rides or anything like that, but it just seemed like there were few animals and too many things you had to pay extra for. We went out to the truck to get some lunch and when we came back in we ended up enjoying the second half of the zoo better. We were just glad we only paid half price for admission. I wouldn’t say not to go to that zoo, but we have definitely been to better ones.

Tuesday we packed up bright and early and made the long drive home. Those few days went by so fast, but I’m grateful for any chance we have to get away for an adventure. I love seeing new places and experiencing new things.

I’ve thought a lot this past year about how I desire to give my children experiences. I don’t want to focus so much on giving them things, but providing them with opportunities to see beyond our corner of the world. Sometimes we will be doing things like camping or watching baseball games or going to fun places like Disneyland, but I’m hoping and praying that we can also provide them with opportunities to step far out of our little corner. To see and experience other cultures. To minister to the broken and lost in different contexts. To learn from others who live differently from us. These are things we can (and should) do right here in our city for sure, but it’s my dream that we can take them far beyond the borders of our city, our state, and our country.

Someday.

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If Road Trips Were a Love Language…

The kids are on Spring Break this week. I’m a fan of Spring Break.

Each spring at the kids’ school the 4th and 5th graders work on a big history project culminating with a festival the last school day before the break begins. They write a research paper. They put together an oral presentation, complete with a tri-fold poster. They dress up. They make (or buy…no shame in that!) something to sell at their marketplace. The moms decorate and bring food for a feast. It’s a big to-do and a lot of work and I’ll just admit it, I don’t always have the best attitude about it. I don’t like to make things and I don’t like coming up with costumes. By the time we hit the day before everything is due and we are STILL finishing things up I’m just ready to have it done already.

But then the big day arrives. The kids are dressed up and they dance and eat and sell their wares. And they have the biggest smiles and declare how much fun the day is and I realize it is all worth it. All the fuss and time and burned fingers from hot glue is worth the memories seared into their young minds. I can’t speak for all the kids, but mine sure love this event every year. History comes alive and they get a taste of what life was like way back when.

So that was last week. The festival was Thursday and I was glad when it was over, but also thankful for the day. Thankful for the school my kids are able to attend. For the teachers who pour so much of themselves into the lives of their students. Those hours I spent at the school that day reminded me of how blessed we are to be a part of such a school.

Thursday afternoon and Friday morning we threw some things together for our trip to Arizona. Because of all the busyness with the school projects and laundry and packing I had little time to get my house back in order before we left. I kept reminding myself that when we came home from our trip the house would be a mess and that was OK. It was what it was and just be thankful that we have the chance to get away for a few days. And as nice (and preferable) as it is to come home after a long day of driving to a clean and tidy house, it wasn’t worth being completely frazzled at the front end of our trip. So I left it.

We finally hit the road late Friday morning, stayed one night in El Paso, and arrived in Arizona Saturday where we camped for the remainder of our trip. I’ll write more about the details of the trip later this week (and share lots of pictures!), but can I just say that Arizona is a glorious state? It is beautiful and sunny and filled with so many lovely things. Everywhere we went we could see mountains. The state park we camped in was filled with saguaro cacti (the ones with the arms, that only grow in that part of Arizona and down into northern Mexico). And Phoenix. Oh, Phoenix! With your palm trees and blue skies and perfect weather. The Arizona desert sure is a lot different than the Texas desert. Marvelous!

It was the perfect beginning to our break. I’ve sung the praises of road trips before, of being out in nature and spending time with my family. If road trips were a love language, that would be mine.

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We’re home now. Yes, my house is a mess, but slowly I’ll get it back in order. The laundry will get done. The dining room table will soon be cleared of craft supplies and leftover school projects. I didn’t even mind coming home to the clutter last night. I was filled with thankfulness for a wonderful few days away, marveling at nature, laughing with my family, and watching some baseball in the Arizona sunshine.

Marvelous gifts I am so very thankful for.

69 ~ a wonderful school for my kids

70 ~ fabulous teachers

71 ~ completed projects

72 ~ Spring Break

73 ~ road trips

74 ~ our pop-up

75 ~ camping

76 ~ campfires

77 ~ beautiful sunrises

78 ~ and sunsets

79 ~ saguaro cactus

80 ~ mountains

81 ~ sunshine

82 ~ blue, blue skies

83 ~ palm trees

84 ~ making memories

85 ~ laughing with my family

86 ~ an afternoon of baseball (Spring Training!)

87 ~ walking in the moonlight

88 ~ hiking

89 ~ watching my kids explore

90 ~ wildflowers

91 ~ sun-kissed noses

Shhh…

That’s me telling myself to be quiet. To be still. To rest.

I don’t know about you, but it’s just plain difficult for me to be still these days. And the ironic thing is, the more hectic things get and the more frazzled I become, the less I make it a priority to just sit and be still. Is that just me?

I crave quiet. And then I turn on the radio.

I lament the fact that I don’t have enough time to read books. And then I hop on Facebook. And read blogs. And check the weather. And sometimes I even play Candy Crush. (Please don’t tell anyone I admitted that.)

My body says, “Go to bed!” And then I sit on the couch after the kids are in bed and watch re-runs on TV until 11:00pm.

I will confess, I’m an avoider. When I get overwhelmed with tasks and to-do lists I avoid them all-together. Like the plague. As if they are just going to magically go away or some little fairy somewhere is going to show up and take care of it all for me. And we all know that never happens.

Last year I talked a lot about how I craved quiet and how all our camping trips helped my soul to breathe. Being out in nature is truly balm for my soul. Experiencing new places and seeing new displays of God’s creation is a delight for me.

We haven’t been out much since our last trip in November. Twice we’ve planned weekend camping trips and twice we’ve had to cancel last minute because of issues with our pop-up trailer. So disappointing!

But this weekend, finally, we are getting away (and praying desperately that the trailer is finally working properly). We are heading west to Arizona for a few days for Spring Training! Yes, I fully realize that is not a typical outdoorsy activity, but along the way we will be spending plenty of time in nature. We’ll be camping and hiking and breathing in the marvelous fresh air. There will be plenty of time for quiet and soul-rest, for reflection and taking in the beauty around us.

I love God’s creation and I am so thankful that He chose to make a world that we can enjoy.

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A Few Days Away

IMG_5445Just over a week ago I was able to sneak away for a long weekend to visit my family in Spokane. Just me. All by myself.

It’s been a few years since I have flown up there alone. I had my moments of feeling little twinges of guilt for leaving my family behind, but mostly I was excited for the time away to relax and refresh. It was so nice to spend a few days with my parents and my sister and her family.IMG_5447

We didn’t do much while I was there, which is exactly the way I wanted it. We ate lots of wonderful food, of course, and had our fair share of coffee, but mostly we just hung around and talked and laughed and stuffed our faces. I may need to go out and buy all new pants now after all that. Or go for a run. I’m still debating which.

Speaking of running. I haven’t been for a run in weeks. When we were going through that crazy cold snap here I finally just gave up. I used to love running in the colder weather, but apparently not anymore. I’m more of a fair weather runner. Literally.

And speaking of crazy cold snaps. I know that is all relative and I feel like a big baby complaining about the cold because compared to a lot of the country it has not been that bad here. But we live in Texas. In the desert. It’s not supposed to snow and be freezing, right?! I was reminded of what cold really feels like when I landed in Spokane and it is was like 9 degrees or something like that. How did I survive living in those conditions for 25+ years?

Anyway, moving on. I am so thankful that I had the chance to sneak away for a few days. I missed my husband and kids like crazy, but I think it’s good for all of us sometimes to mix things up a bit. It’s good for the kids to know that dad is more than capable of cooking, and doing laundry, and shuttling them to and fro. And even though he does all those things even when I am home, it sometimes goes unnoticed by the kids. They have such a wonderful father. I know they all had a great weekend together!

I’m so thankful for my family–those that live under my roof and those that live far away. I love them so.

Counting gifts from my gracious God…

53 ~ my husband, my greatest earthly gift

54 ~ a wonderful, kind, and loving father for my children

55 ~ parents who love me

56 ~ a sister who is a best friend

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57 ~ my nephews (I just love being an aunt!)

58 ~ spending time in one of my favorite cities

59 ~ coffee on every corner (seriously, Spokane. thank you!)

60 ~ safe flights that were fairly uneventful…flying is not my favorite

61 ~ a wonderful book to keep me occupied on aforementioned flights

62 ~ uninterrupted time to think

63 ~ beauty out the airplane window

64 ~ coming home

65 ~ seeing my husband’s face after so many days away

66 ~ 2/3 of my kids rushing down the stairs to greet me when I arrived home, even though it was late and they should have been fast asleep :)

67 ~ the third kid wrapping her arms around me the next morning–she couldn’t quite stay awake the night before

68 ~ back to reality…refreshed and ready to go

I Was Born…And Then I Turned 40

I turned 40 last week.

Generally, growing older doesn’t bother me, and for the most part I think I can honestly say it doesn’t bother me, but it is kind of weird realizing I’ve lived for 40 years. There’s no denying it. I am middle-aged.

These 40 years have flown by. Truly it seems like I was a kid just yesterday and now here I am raising three kids of my own. Crazy.

One thing about hitting Mile Marker 40, at least for me, is that I have become way more reflective during these past several months. My always on, contemplative, over-thinking mind has been in over-drive recently. My tendency is to focus on what I haven’t done and become discouraged, but I’m trying my darnedest to look back over the years at all that God has done in and through me. I’m trying to focus on the blessings.

My life has been full of good and precious things. So in honor of these first 40 years of my life, I decided to continue my gratitude list (which I started last week) with 40 things I’m grateful for–people, memories, places, events…gifts throughout the years. Some are big, some small, but all are things I am so very thankful for.

13 ~ being born into a loving family

14 ~ my parents

15 ~ and their commitment to their marriage (41 years next month!)

16 ~ my sweet sister

17 ~ childhood friends that have stuck around through the years…the best kind!

18 ~ the church I grew up in

19 ~ Awana

20 ~ Sunday School teachers

21 ~ fabulous youth leaders during jr. high and high school

22 ~ pastors who preach the Word

23 ~ my first flute teacher

24 ~ my fifth grade teacher, who sparked my interest to write

25 ~ Spokane – a wonderful place to grow up

26 ~ family vacations

27 ~ the first time I saw the ocean

28 ~ camping in the mountains as a kid

29 ~ my new life in Christ

30 ~ being baptized

31 ~ meeting my husband

32 ~ getting married!

33 ~ traveling to Europe

34 ~ building our first home–literally building it with our own hands (and lots of other hands, of course!)

35 ~ becoming a mother for the first time

36 ~ and for the second time

37 ~ and the third time

38 ~ being an auntie

39 ~ our years at seminary

40 ~ Swiss Tower (where we lived during seminary) and all the relationships built there

41 ~ struggles that draw me closer to Jesus

42 ~ God’s precious Word

43 ~ visiting the Grand Canyon

44 ~ friends met in unexpected places

45 ~ those few friends who truly know me…and love me anyway

46 ~ camping trips with my family

47 ~ road trips–this is my therapy

48 ~ watching my kids grow in Christ

49 ~ singing worship songs

50 ~ 40 years of breath

51 ~ God’s mercy

52 ~ and His unfailing grace–it never ceases to amaze me

As long as I have breath I will praise You
As long as my heart beats I will sing
As long as life flows in my veins
I will bless Your name

{From the song “As Long As I Have Breath” by Mark Altrogge}

Counting Again

Several years back, even before she wrote the book, I was joining Ann Voskamp almost every Monday to count God’s gifts–1,000 and beyond. Endless gifts and blessings from my Heavenly Father.

The last time I wrote anything about that here was almost three years ago, and as much as I’d like to say I continued to record my gratitude elsewhere, I simply cannot. Because I didn’t. There were a few times in which I jotted  a couple things down in my journal, but somewhere along the way I lost my way.

Keeping a written account of my gratitude is one of those things I know is helpful for me, but I get lazy and tell myself that tomorrow, tomorrow I’ll write it all down. I won’t forget. Then tomorrow comes and I do forget, and before I know it it’s three years later and I’ve hardly written a thing.

I know there’s no magic in Mondays. There’s no magic in the number 1,000 either, but sometimes it’s good to have something to shoot for, even in gratitude. Sometimes it is necessary to set aside intentional time to stop and consider the things God has done and is doing. It’s easy to get distracted in the crazy and mundane things of life and in the midst of that gratitude can often take a backseat. At least that’s true for me.

That verse there at the top of my blog? The one this space gets it’s name from? It is a constant reminder to me to slow down and consider God’s wonders. I’ve said that many times over the years and I’ll continue to say it because sometimes I’m slow to learn. And maybe if I keep reminding myself to slow down more often and consider the wonders of my gracious God I’ll become more gracious myself.

As I think more about how to become a woman of grace, I realize that one of the obstacles I have to living a gracious life is ingratitude. Because when I’m ungrateful I am focused on me. And when I’m focused on me it is difficult to focus on others.

As I go about my days, I want to see through the ordinary and discover all the gifts given me by an extraordinary God.

Not just on Mondays but every day of every year.

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

{Psalm 9:1-2}

 

1 ~ fresh beginnings

2 ~ family outings

3 ~ quiet early mornings

4 ~ running errands with my husband

5 ~ warm January days

6 ~ warm coat, hat, gloves, and scarf on not-so-warm January days

7 ~ phone chats with my sister

8 ~ worship music

9 ~ two giggly girls

10 ~ one lively and inquisitive boy

11 ~ one fabulous husband

12 ~ marvelous grace

My UnWord of the Year

On Christmas night, after the dinner was complete and the events of the day were winding down, my husband’s cousin broke out a game for us to play as we sat around the living room. I can’t remember what it was called, but it was a sort of ice-breaker game. We each took turns choosing a card, reading the question, and learning a little more about each other as we listened to the answers.

One of the questions that was asked was something like, “What is your greatest pet peeve?” When it came time for me to answer I spouted off a couple things that drive me nuts, and then I added how it’s hard to pick just one thing because I’m so easily annoyed. There are a LOT of things that bug me.

I’ve thought about that comment quite a bit over the past month. We all got a good chuckle out of that declaration, but really it’s not all that funny. It reveals a serious flaw within my heart. Something I need to work on for sure.

Last week I shared my One Word for this year (grace) and then a couple of days later I read about choosing an UNword for the year. What is something I want to undo in the year ahead? What thing am I rejecting and saying, “No more! I’m done with this.”

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This year I’m rejecting annoyance, irritation, whatever you’d like to call it. I’m striving to be UNannoyed. (And yes it’s true, that is not a real word.)

I’m tired of being annoyed much of the time. I allow so many little things to bother me. It’s difficult to be joyous and gracious when I’m uptight and annoyed. And let’s face it, it’s not always pleasant to be around someone who is irritated all the time, especially one who has perfected the exaggerated eye roll and heavy sigh. Not that I know anything about that, of course. {ahem}

If I truly desire to be a woman of grace, I must strive to be unannoyed. Until I learn to not let the little things bug me I won’t be able to truly show grace to those around me.

To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how to combat annoyance. It’s become such a habit, an automatic reaction. By God’s grace and the power of His Spirit I’ll learn and change. I certainly won’t be able to change on my own.

I’m praying that as I pursue grace and put off annoyance that I will become more grateful, more loving, and more gracious. Ultimately, more like Jesus.

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What could your UNword be this year? Learn more at the Nesting Place where you can also find links to other UNwords for the year.