Sunday, November 8, 2015

In His Arms

I will never forget our first date.

He nervously asked me to dance.  Neither of us had ever slow danced before and we stood there awkwardly looking at each other.  Our friend, John, yelled out across the room, "Hold her like Jesus would, Scottie!" and flashed his ornery smile.  I miss that smile. John is now among angels and that moment became one of my favorite memories of him.  I don't think he ever knew how much his words would mean to me all these years later.

As we danced, our friendship changed.  He held me in his arms for the first time and yet it felt so familiar.  In his innocent gentleness and quiet strength, I felt so safe and cherished.  It felt like...home.

4 years later in a white pine forest, he asked me to be his wife.  He slipped that ring on my finger, held my hands in his, and prayed over our new life together.  With tears in our eyes we thanked God for giving us this gift of each other. 

6 months passed and I became his bride.  We danced to that same song again on our wedding day.  Holding me in his arms...I was home.  In our 13 years of marriage he has never stopped holding me like Jesus would.  His unconditional love has carried me through the hardest moments.  He has loved me when I least deserved it.  He has loved me in spite of me.  He is my comfort through the tears, my strength through my doubts and fears.  My best friend when I have felt so alone.  My protector, defender, and my biggest supporter.

I have watched him hold each of our babies with the same gentleness and unconditional love.  It makes me fall in love with him all over again each time.  And now we are just weeks away from meeting our 8th child.  I know he will hold me through my labor pains and fears, speaking words of strength and peace. 

I am so humbled that God would bring this man into my life.  My first date, first love, first be each other's one and only is truly a gift.  This little love story of two high school sweethearts has grown into a family of 10.  I can only imagine what God has planned for our family, for our children and the generations to come...and it all started when he asked me to dance.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Tomorrow is a New Day

This week our little 3 year old learned a new phrase and has been repeating it multiple times a day, as 3 year olds tend to do.

"Tomorrow is a new day, Mommy!" and he smiles sweetly and runs off to play.

I wish I knew what his little mind was dwelling on so deeply; but I'm realizing that maybe I do need that reminder throughout the day.

When my to-do list goes unfinished.
When I've lost my patience and life feels overwhelming.
When I declare, "I just can't!"

Tomorrow is a new day. A fresh start, a new beginning.  I may not be able to take back those words I shouldn't have said, but it is never too late to say I'm sorry. Never too late to try harder. Never too late to change.

Because every new day is full of purpose.  It is when I forget that, that my days just blend together. A blur of chores that are never really done, children who are always hungry, or fighting, or just so bored. A marriage that so easily fades to the back of the list because life is just plain busy.

But tomorrow, I have a new day. A day to choose joy and to laugh and play with my kids. To kiss my husband like I mean it. To serve my family out of love, not obligation.  A day to write that letter, to call that old friend.  To allow myself to slow down and drink that cup of coffee while it is still hot.  To read that book or pick up my paintbrushes again.

Tomorrow is a new day to choose forgiveness. To let go. To hold onto hope when there is nothing else.

Because if we've been given tomorrow, our story isn't over yet.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Finding Beauty in the Gray Hairs

I have been hesitant to share this post for a while now because it is such a personal decision.  But New Year's is about a fresh start and embracing change, and I couldn't think of a better day to share it.

This is me, gray hairs and no makeup.

I found my first gray hair when I was in high school.  My best friend would sit behind me during biology class and pull them out because, after all, what are friends for?

In my 20's, the few gray strands became more than a few and the people in my life started to notice.  I heard comments from both men and women.  Maybe they were just trying to be helpful, but pointing out my gray hairs is not the same as telling me I have spinach in my teeth, and their words left me feeling embarrassed and insecure.

I spent many years staring into the mirror, running my fingers through my hair and asking myself, "Should I dye it or not?"

For some reason, I just couldn't bring myself to do it. And why not? Everyone else was dyeing their hair...

I guess I felt that once I started, there would be no turning back.  I am all about keeping life simple, and I watched my friends struggle with keeping up with their roots.  I was a busy mother with a full house, the last thing I needed was another thing on my to-do list.

But now in my 30's, my reasons for embracing my silver highlights have become much deeper.  

I asked my husband for his honest opinion of my hair, and his response really surprised me.

He smiled, "We are growing old together."

I looked at his scruffy gray whiskers and the few white hairs starting to show at his temples, and I had to smile too.  There it is, the promise.  The promise to grow old together, to love in the good and in the bad, and to share this journey through every stage of our lives.

And we are in a new stage.  Our older children are inching their way towards being teenagers and our baby is now a toddler running around the house.  

I am feeling older and maybe a little wiser, and I'm learning to be more content.  I want to accept and embrace this stage of my life for all its worth.  The babies that left their marks on my body, the laugh lines that are forming from years of joy, the gray hairs that remind me of the promise, it's all a part of my story.

I want to inspire my girls that they are beautiful at every age.  They don't have to grow up too fast or fit into someone else's mold.  True beauty is a gentle and quiet spirit.  It is a joyful heart and living out all that you were created to this moment.

I wish I could say that I am completely confident in this, but it is still a struggle for me.  This year I am learning to embrace the beauty in every moment, every stretch mark, every gray hair.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Laundry Room is My Prayer Closet

It is early. I am up before the sun but I've given up on sleep.  I slip into the kitchen to brew a cup of coffee.  The gentle clinking of my spoon swirled through the mug rings loudly in this quiet house.

I warm my hands around this mug as I walk to the laundry room.  Setting my coffee down on the dryer I get right to work.

I fold laundry when I'm stressed.  Or angry.  Or when my heart is heavy with the things that hurt.

This place is where I hide when I need to cry and vent and learn to breathe again.  The laundry room has become my prayer closet.

My hands are busy sorting and folding and my heart feels free to be real with God.  I have cried to Him so many times over the battles I'm fighting, the pain, the worries, the fear.

As I chip away at this mountain, the gentle humming of the dryer creates rings in my coffee like stones skipped across a pond.  It's a peaceful place for me.  A place where my dirty chaos is brought into beautiful order.  It's a place where I let God take the mess of my life and wash it all away, giving me a fresh start.

The hamper is empty (for the moment) and I've poured out all that needed to be said.  The sun is filling the sky and my children are filling the house with their noisy energy.  My heart is no longer carrying this heavy load but full of peace.
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