Category Archives: Favorite Posts

The List.

I have been trying to blog for a few days now but my head is too full. You know, the “oh look a squirrel” thing…So, I resort to a list. A fancy name for a bunch of random thoughts, in no particular order.

1. This, written by my husband to our church family.

For eight years my family and I have had the honor of serving Impact and being part of this community. I have had the joy of being your Worship Pastor. I have always desired to be right in the center of God’s will for my life. Over the past year the Lord has been working in me, challenging me and, we believe, calling us to trust Him with our future. In light of this, we have come to the decision it is time to step out and  trust God for what is next. We are excited and anxious, but we are confident.  God is leading us this way and we ask for your prayers as we begin this journey. Thank you for allowing me the joy of leading you in worship of our God. It has been one of the most meaningful times of my life.

2. Where we are heading next.

I don’t know. It’s a scary place to be with four little ones. An end date to a salary without a firm date for your new one. Humanly, my brain doesn’t like this. But you know what? I have the raddest friends on the planet. Ever. They’ve offered me shoulders to cry on and their faith to borrow when mine isn’t strong enough. He is leading us on this path and our God is greater. He will take care of us. If we end up in a van down by the river, I shall get a disco ball for the interior.

3. Speaking of my friends.

Oh my word. I tell you my heart was on overload today. Four of my favorite-est girls all came to church this morning to sit by my side as my husband announced to our congregation our upcoming departure. It’s been years since I sat along side these girls all together at the same time and it made me happy me in a way I can’t explain. We group hugged like teenagers because that’s awesome. They are the best. Just. the. best. and I love them like sisters.

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4. My God.

He has orchestrated this week in a way that only He can. There are no words to really explain how He does it. He fills the gaps and raises me up and sends me friendly Trader Joe’s workers to tell me I have gorgeous eyes, right after I sat in the parking lot and cried them all out. He places the sales clerk at the curriculum store who tells me, “character training is the most important. Your kids are watching how you handle life. History and geography? That’s the easy stuff. The gravy.”

5. He stretches me.

I have wrestled with deep questions for the last couple of weeks like you do in a time of crisis. It is easy when you have been raised in the church to sing the songs, raise your hands, and nod an amen. But do I mean them?

Where You go, I’ll go. When You move, I’ll move.

Sure I meant that. Because before that meant…my gorgeous house, my comfortable life. I’ll do that. I’ll move when He moves {as long as it’s comfortable}.

Now, it means a lot more. A move out of state? Away from my family and friends? A new surrounding? What if no one likes me? What if my kids don’t connect? What if there are tornados? or no Hobby Lobbys? I mean seriously. A whole bunch of unknowns.

6. God’s got this.

I hear that A LOT these days and while I know that with my head, it is just a reality that- that doesn’t mean I will immediately like what His plan is. Surrender. Faith. Prayer. His will, be my desires. I pray they are one in the same. I pray that no matter what lies ahead in the next year that my faith stays unwavering. That He uses the junk and the fabulous for His glory. That His name be lifted higher.

7. Surrender.

The theme of my life lately. This period I am entering is certainly no different. I just moved to the most gorgeous home ever that felt like home the second I walked through the door. My landlords/friends live next door and my kids reference them as their other grandparents and we love them a lot. Seriously, we just settled.

“God, you couldn’t mean this was just a temporary thing, right”.

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*straight off my phone. can you even imagine the beauty of heaven.

8. Sadness.

The thought of leaving my people here in California makes me crazy sad. Like rip your heart out sad.

8. Excitement.

The thought of putting my family in a u haul and heading East {because West would require a boat} makes me giddy. A great big adventure awaiting. A whole big world out there.

9. Confusing.

How do you feel such intense overwhelming and conflicting emotions at the same time? It is so hard. Our house has suddenly turned into an emotional roller coaster. Five of us are on a different track and the baby is just mostly cute. While there is intense sadness in all of our hearts, there is a seed of excitement that I see in my children that only comes from God.

10. Peace.

Remember that song from a jillion years ago. I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river in my soul. {if you were a church goer in the eighties please remember that you would put your high top up in the air on that last line as to represent the word soul. See what we did there? Soul, sole? The eighties were cool.}

11. The practical.

I haven’t even finished my school room. Should I? School is being reevaluated. Is the higher priced, hands on curriculum, I just started really the right choice for right now? Should I switch? How do I get up and do school when I want to lay in bed and hug my pillow?

12. Integrity

I’ve been reminded just how very much my husband has.

13. The real.

I fed my kid ice cream and pancakes from McDonalds for breakfast. In. rain. boots. And if that wasn’t enough to impress you with my mothering skills, I picked dried cornflakes out of his hair this morning and put him in the car seat for church AND then dropped him off for three services without a diaper bag. And you know what I have learned after four children? Some days…that is enough.

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14. It’s fall.

Somehow this all just seems easier with a pumpkin spice candle burning and my fuzzy leopard slippers on my feet.

15. It’s on.

Mostly I am just inspired right now. Living in that profound state where you just realize how much everything matters. In the depth of my soul I am overwhelmingly grateful for the people we have had the pleasure to meet in this chapter of our life. In the last eight years I have been pushed to my limits on every emotion one possesses. It’s been a time of incredible joys, trials, and growth.

Life is like that.

And we press forward.

Reveal Your heart Lord Jesus, even now.

 

 

 

 

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Trust

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You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

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And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

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Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

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So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

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Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

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I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

This song stays with me. Listen to it here.

Oceans | Hillsong

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Room Eight Twenty Two

Confession.

I didn’t want to go away on the planned overnight adventure with my husband. Why? because the to do list was sucking me in. We finished school on Thursday. Scheduled to leave on Friday. #kindabadtiming

Laundry not done. House not clean. Sheets not washed for the company sleeping in my bed while I was away. Grades not done. Report cards not issued. House not clean. Car looks like a bomb went off inside. VBS meeting Sunday. House not clean. Husbands work party to make dessert for on Sunday. Need to finish my dad’s b day present. Out of toilet paper. House not clean.

Yet, it was just a 24 hour get away and my hubby really wanted to go. So, three hours before departure time, I sat on my bed to find a hotel. I found a gem.

It had me at my first glance. Love at first sight.

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Within a few minutes of leaving, I knew it was a grand idea. I am so glad my husband knows me better and pushed to go. We needed to.

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Homeschooling can be a dangerous little gig sometimes. It really, really can. It is all kids. All day. All the time. You absolutely have to carve out some time, for not only the adult world, but for your man. I’m telling you, what a difference 24 hours can make.

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Our swanky destination was roughly 15 minutes away in downtown Sacramento. We checked in, gave the valet our car and didn’t touch it again for 24 hours. Everything was walking distance. We sat and talked for about 4 hours over dinner. We laughed at each other and not the kids. We breathed.

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I may or may not have jumped on our bed on the 8th floor overlooking the nightlife of downtown out our window. {My hotel ritual.} We had a corner room and the views were incredible. The whole hotel was incredible. I wanted to pet everything, but I am trying to quit that. I honestly contemplated how to take that little black chair home with me and fell asleep incredibly content and dreaming gold stripey wallpaper.

Oh, we had so much fun. We talked about life, some about the kids. A lot about what God wants from us and our marriage. We talked about what we need to work on and confirmed what we need to keep doin’ that is right. We talked about how grateful we are for our family. We talked, without being interrupted.

It was kinda fish and loaves of bread like because those 24 hours stretched on and on…..

I am so thankful.

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…and guess what time I got up today?

10:30 am.

BAM!

 

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Making Memories

I was 16 or 17. We had a G R E A T youth group and a fantastic youth pastor. He was all about making memories. He was all about telling us, he was all about making memories.

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Every summer we went on a trip called Endless Summer. 1.5 weeks of non stop fun. Camping, amusement parks, beaches, and everything in between. It was A W E S O M E. Well, this one year, we took one of those accordian style busses. It was our transportation for the whole trip. Maybe 70 or 80 of us left for our Endless Summer Trip.

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For weeks prior to this particular year, our youth pastor had been telling us he had a special surprise that we would not want to miss. To say we were all excited would be a severe understatement. There was SUCH a buzz about our surprise. We could not figure it out.

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Heading southbound on Highway 5 toward Los Angeles, a famous stench exists. It is the familiar smell to all Californians and travelers of highway 5 known as Harris Ranch. I think it is home to about 5 gazillion cows, give or take.

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Remember that Endless Summer surprise? Yes, a tour. On the bus. Driving the roads in between said cows. In the middle of July. Hot. Flys. Groaning teenagers. AND a gleefully happy youth pastor walking the aisles of the bus yelling “you will never forget this”. He was right. I haven’t.

…and I love it.

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A few months ago I get a phone call from my husband in the middle of the day, asking if we could take May 16th off school. Of course. He informs me that there is a frog jumping gig at the Calaveras County fair. He wants to surprise the kids. I immediately thought of the cows. I was in.

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Anticipation built with my munchkins.

It was a total crack up and a total surprise until we arrived at our destination.

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You see, they didn’t even know that frog jumping existed. Neither did I.

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*this picture is titled, WHY WE USE A STROLLER.

It was an unusally wet rainy morning in CA, that we set out. It was cold, damp, and entirely entertaining.

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We had a great day.

Here’s to hoping the kids never forget it.

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Somehow, I don’t think they will. I can hear it now…”remember when dad took us to that frog jumping fair.”

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One of the highlights of the day was when we were walking through all the animals. One of the 4H kids started chatting with us. “Where y’all from?” he says. “Sacramento area”, my husband replies. Them the kid went there….

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“YOU CAME ALL THE WAY DOWN HERE, JUST FOR THIS?”

“Y U P”, my husband says proudly.

Making Memories.

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because frogs are cool.

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My Truth.

I am deeply excited about my health journey. Not because after 2.5 years I still have not reached my goal weight and stayed there. Rather, because I have been running to Jesus to ask Him for help, to learn to know Him better, to live with Him in the number one spot in my life. I have talked many times about Made to Crave. One sentence that stuck out to me in early 2011 when I started this path of being healthy is that ,”It is a spiritual journey, with great physical benefits”. Lysa TerKeurest is, in fact, quite right.

I have been super transparent with this journey and held nothing back. This has brought me support, connection with others, and criticism and while the criticism can be hard, that is o.k. The main thing that God has been reminding me lately, very loud and clear, is that He loves me. He has also been teaching me to keep my eyes upward and not on other people. What may be right for one, may not be right for another. Our struggles are all different.

I have prayed for God’s help for a long time in regards to my health. Then one article I read talked about processed food being created to actually cause us to crave it. Light bulb and a serious oh my gosh moment ensued. So, I am eating food that makes me crave more, overeating it, and then I pray to God for help to not eat it and be healthy. Anyone wanna stand in the freeway and ask God to save us with me? Seriously, it’s pretty much the same thing.

So, FOR ME, I feel like this journey has led me to a permanent change in my food. I was searching for a way to follow a nutrition plan to guide me into that change. I am a straight carb girl and I mean almost 100%. My foods have become more unprocessed and clean over the last year, but still remain a lot of carbs.

After I finished Insanity last year, I panicked. I was tripping out on how to have a plan and not make it my idol or my saving grace. This may sound like a hot mess of crazy, but this is honestly where I have been. I was in search of the thing that would click and make it all work. You know what I have realized in the last month? I have had it all along. It’s Jesus and utter dependence on Him. Whatever tool or plan or program He leads me to to follow, I still need Him to make it work long term. The plans are o.k. How I used them were not.

So, for some sheer honesty…I was getting kind of anxious because I had a fear that somewhere, sometime, someone would point out the amount of effort I have put forth and the lack of outward results that have come from it. The scale is not reflective of the work I have done, but my heart is and no one may be able to see that…yet. I am not going to be quiet about my health because too much good comes from bringing darkness to the light and there has been so much darkness in this area of my life.

I know my truth. I know my Jesus. I know my path.

I recently began a program of 121 days of crazy strict rules. A program designed at its core to teach healthy eating, reset your metabolism, and lose unhealthy weight. There is nothing like removing something from your life to realize its hold on you both emotionally and physically. This program is a perfect fit for me because it is addressing all of my personal vices. This program is a perfect fit because for the remainder of the 121 days I have given up control. That, my friends, is the core of my struggle. This program arrived in my life days after the morning conversation I had with God where I said, “You get it all. I’m all in. Whatever the cost.” It’s almost like He planned it.

Today, I have given my health completely to the Lord and what I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that He made our earthly bodies for His purposes and we are to maintain them for His glory. I have had too many problems over the years with eating disorders, control, yo yo dieting and the like, to think that I can remain divided. These dietary changes I am currently learning through this plan are permanent for me. That is the first time I can say that. They must be. For me.

The change is to eat a diet primarily of things God straight up created all on His own without our help.

He’s a pretty fantastic creator. He did it right. He thought of everything.

He knows what He is doing a million times over.

I. will. trust. Him.

Happy Monday, my lovelies! Have an awesome day!

 

P.S. the book that my family and I were in a small part of about our food changes has been released! It’s super good :) You can get your copy here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Day of Christmas Merriment

I declared a day of Christmas merriment. I made the decision last Thursday at about 9:43 am.

*Sorry my little man. With two older sisters, zebra print and hot pink fur lined santa hat it is.

It was a day focusing on their hearts, not their brain. Truth is, I think I needed it more than they.

It began with a trip to Trader Joes. I had been promising the kids to let them try those Candy Cane Joe Joes that have been the topic of many a Facebook post over the last couple of weeks. They are ridiculous. Best cookie out of a box ever. Eat them.

I also decided to entertain myself with letting my 2 year old push his own cart. He pretty much entertained the store as well, while he was doing his shopping.

I had no list and no plan. We bought a few things for a favorite lunch around here of quesadillas and Trader Joes Corn Chips and salsa. We tried a new fruit. I don’t even remember the name. I believe it was something with a “p” involved.

We wandered back and forth up and down aisles, repeating rows frequently. It was completely an inefficient shopping trip and completely perfect and yes my baby is wandering somewhat unsupervised in the wine section.

*when did he grow up? and how cute are his ringlets?

We ate cookies in the parking lot in the morning and then headed for home.

On the way, I made up a game of how many Christmas decorations can you spot? (including, please yell it out as you see it). It gave me a 20 minute ride of Christmasness. Ho, ho, ho.

Mid way home, I impulsively pull over to check on “our house”. You know how you have a home of your dreams (the one you’ve created on Pinterest boards where unless you win the lottery, there is no way it will happen) and then a realistic home of your dreams (the one where it’s slightly out of reach, but not impossible)? This home is the latter. A couple of years ago, we almost purchased a house and had looked at this one. It was slightly out of our price range, so some other blessed family is now living in it. However, when I crossed the threshold, my heart stopped. It’s a small home, perfectly cozy, but with plenty of space to raise our family. It has more character in those walls then I can ever explain with words. A master suite with cement floors, open tub in the room, dark hardwood floors, arches, chandeliers, huge yard, outdoor fireplace, round towers, oh I could go on and on. It is a bit of a fixer upper, but the house had my heart. It wants me to live there, I am sure of it. We check on it from time to time. Someday, maybe….For now, it’s our “castle house”.

Our return home held another impulsive stop of a in the street dance party (on a back road, no worries). A little Taylor Swift anyone? Street dance parties are the best. I highly recommend them.

Then we were home and on to more Day of Christmas Merriment.

Lunch, coloring, naps, Just Dance, candlelight spaghetti dinner, Candy Land, and sugar cookies from scratch (try these-best recipe ever).

It all made a day that my heart needed and their’s did too. I committed to no raised voices, no work, all play. All Day.

Be nice, talk nice, feel warm and fuzzy, celebrate. Be a Hallmark card in real life.

It was an all day Christmas school party. Impromptu. Unplanned. Perfect.

School is officially on break.

Bring on some more celebrating.

Classes will resume on January 7th.

Can I get an Amen?

 

 

 

 

 

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Marvin Ward Christian Academy

I embarked on a one year homeschooling career. Here we are four years later. That first year, through tears I told my husband, “when it looks like I have figured this out and I am enjoying it, because I will figure this out….just know that I still won’t be enjoying it.” Not one of my prouder moments. I entered homeschooling kicking and screaming. I wanted a Christian education in a private school. The. End. God had made other arrangements. He knows best. I am know longer kicking, nor screaming, nor pretending, I enjoy it. I really enjoy it and so does my family.

Over the last three years we have come to find our groove, our philosophy, our swag, our way. That’s one of the beautiful opportunities that homeschooling provides. One thing that has become increasingly clear as my children are growing older is the importance of placing importance on their education- through their eyes. That first year when filling out the name of our school on our affidavit, I really had no idea. I jotted down Homeroom Christian School. It filled a blank on my form. It’s kind of lame and absent of any meaning.

A friend of mine mentioned to me recently that she had named her homeschool after her sweet father who had recently passed away. Immediately my husband’s grandfather came to mind. Oh, how we loved that man. With no living grandparents of my own, this man was such a special great grandpa to my children and to our family. He was an incredible man with an incredible legacy. He loved His Savior. He loved His family. He loved Eagles. He loved ice cream.

He told me once that He was proud of the education I was giving our children. He told me if he could afford it he would send everyone of his great grandchildren to school for a Christian education. The Lord has worked it out and my kids are receiving a Christian education. Not the one that I had planned. He had something better in mind for my family.

Our school will be called

Marvin Ward Christian Academy

We have a mascot…THE EAGLES.

We will eat ice cream, first thing, the first day of school, every year.

We will pray and remember great grandpa.

Life should hold great meaning.

In. every. little. de-tail.

It’s just grand to have this man be honored in our lives and our home this way. It makes my heart smile.

It makes school just that much better.

We love you grandpa.

This photo was taken in 2005 shortly before sweet great grandma went to be with Jesus.

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Thoughts From Six Flags

Thanks to the Read to Succeed Program including home schoolers AND their teacher…we had ourselves an almost entirely free day at Six Flags, WHICH if you are from the bay area you would call Marine World and if you were formal about you just might call it Marine World Africa U.S.A.

I had a ridiculously bad headache ALL the live long day, but despite it, I enjoyed myself beyond words.

My random thoughts and random pictures….

This ride was really really high.

Could these animals be ANY more magnificent? I love whales. I confess, I get a bit teary at the whale show. Watching my kids in awe of these animals chokes me up a little…like a Hallmark commercial. I don’t know what it is exactly.

Doesn’t she have the most amazing eyes? Ugh, I love this girl.

People sit in the splash zone. They know it’s coming. We all do. YET, it’s hilarious. Never gets old.

Isn’t he blessed, he got a pair of those eyes too! There is a lot going on in that cute little brain. I can not WAIT to hear all the things he’s going to tell me. Today he started saying “a daba daba daba”, then covers his mouth and belly laughs.

How fun is it to try and convince a 1.5 year old to go night night in the middle of a park? Um, very.

Have you ever watched an elephant get a bath? Up close and personal? I recommend it.

Dear Jesus, don’t let the fence break.

Can I have one as a pet? please? Oh. My. Word. This lady was adorable. Her name is Lucy.

I want a blue fence.

 One of the kiddie rides became the day’s favorite. Well, not for the little boy next to my daughter.

Stingrays are part of the shark family. Did. not. know. that.

Seeing this look makes me smile..and smile BIG.

Upon entering the line for this ride, my 12 year old was nervous as can be. It’s a fairly calm roller coaster with no upside downs whatsoever. My daughter was pestering me quite literally about wether the ride went upside down. The child would not believe me and was begging me to ask the line attendant dude. I told her she could. She would not. So, I did what any good mom would do and when I saw the line attendant I calmly said, “this ride only goes upside-down 6 times right?” Calm voice with intent eyes begging him silently to play along with my game. He replies, “well yeah, but that’s after the under water tunnel and the ring of fire.” My daughter nearly passed out. I have nothing but love for that young man. He was brilliant.

We all survived.

Shark encounters behind thick walls of glass are magical.

Speaking of magical. Multiple times on the water ride at closing of the park make for a perfect ending to a perfect day.

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All Kinds of Fantasticness

1. I went to an antique store recently and found my new best friend in an old blue mason jar. It had a rusty lid and begged me to take him home. Fortunately, I had recently seen this and so I made this. Yes, it does make doing dishes a whole lot more fun.

2. Some birthday money brought me to Nordstrom to buy some little girl sandals for ME. Saltwaters for adults can be found in the kids department. They make me happy and when I wear them I feel like I’m eight again. Nothin’ wrong with that!!!!

3. My transmission was going out on my van with 160,000 miles on it. I am not a mechanic and my musician husband sings so well that there is a chance that if he broke it into some musical ballad the transmission might decide to fix itself. However, the Lord chose to spare us that route and my parents texted me on a Wednesday at approximately 3:04 and said, “Would you trust us to gift you with a new car?”. I believe I said something like “what???????????????????????”. At approximately 6:48 that night, they roll up in my driveway with this…. Yeah I’m not kidding. We have been working so hard at our finances for the last 29 months. We cut up all credit and deal on a cash only, debt free system. It’s tough and makes no sense in this world. God answers with unbelievable abundance and blessing. Every time I get in my new ride I feel like I am driving down the street in a big giant wrapped up hug from God Himself. Sometimes words do a poor job of expressing gratitude.

4. Do you remember latch hooks? My girls have recently become latch hook junkies. Rainbows and unicorns. They make me smile.

5. I had been saving Trader Joe’s Salsa jars for quite a while to make into candles for the Fourth. That plan crashed and burned, but thankfully I found these condiment caddies (and really a condiment caddy? Who names this stuff?) at Target on a clearance row. The jars were the perfect addition for our red spinny things, formerly known as condiment caddies, that now adorn our school table.

6. Yummy new paint, a trash can from the dollar tree turned light fixture, and the beginnings of a wall of functional items for our school days are the beginnings of our new and improved classroom, coming soon.

7. ‎“Don’t let fear stop you. You just may be on the very brink of incredible.”

A timely quote that I read late last night. The Lord has been opening all kinds of doors for me lately and choosing which ones to walk through can be at times daunting. My human nature is to pick up my skirt and run my little girl sandals as fast as I can through each and every single one of them. That doesn’t work. Ask me how I know?  So, now I am learning and relearning the art of slowing down and prayerfully considering which way my feet should carry me and trust the God of my life who has the bigger picture and my best interest at heart.

8. I am having the best time being involved over at Hip Homeschool Mom’s. Such a fantastic group of women that are literally spread all over the world. I have the awesome privilege of regular postings and product reviews. It is a great resource if you are homeschooling your little monsters.

9. I was recently interviewed for a book regarding eating unprocessed food in America. The author is a former journalist for the New York Times who is now freelance writer. My littlest Emma has now decided we are famous. In reality, it was just a ton of fun.

10. School is out for the summer, but a teacher’s job is never done. I have been working hard at wrapping my head around the million things that we will be learning this year. Second grade, seventh grade, and eighth grade it is….A friend of mine and I have a standing 7pm on Tuesday date at whatever place with house us with free internet and a comfy chair. We frequently also attend the after party at one of our houses. We plan, and plan, and read, and discuss plans, and plan some more. We discover deep things and not so deep things. Most recently, we have discovered that Better Binders really have their name for a reason. Staples, my friends. In all colors and patterns. Get some.

11. Green Jeans Photography….I recently wrapped up all of the editing my whirlwind five session weekend in San Jose. It was a fabulous weekend! AND NOW, I am working with a designer and will have a logo, business card, and all of that fun stuff within the next 2-3 weeks. I also am the new proud owner of my space on the internet….greenjeansphotography.com. A website will be coming in the future.

I hope your Sunday is fabulous, my friends!!!!

Go hug somebody…life is precious. Don’t forget to live it.

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Live Big

My boy went to camp today. Hume Lake. Four hours away. I told Facebbok that I was 90% happy for him and 10% jealous. My long time friend suggested that that number probably wasn’t accurate. He was right. It’s probably about 70-30. I was trying not to sound like too big of a dirt bag. Maybe even 60-40, if truth be told.

I stood in the parking lot with a bunch of other mamas. We made jokes about things we could do to embarrass our children. Running down the street after the caravan screaming goodbye like a wild maniac, anyone?. Oh, the mere thought was enough to bring me joy for at least a year.

I saw ukuleles, red sequined cowboy hats, miniature rocking horses, and the cutest black and white polka dot suitcase. It all seemed perfectly normal. After the packing up of luggage, the physicals, the check in, the potty reminder, and the circle of prayer, there was a mad dash for the caravan of vehicles by 40 ish teens. Each car was appropriately labeled with the use of window paint, in numerical order. My favorite was car number two which said DOS. All the other cars had regular numerical numbers. This car was apparently special. It was bilingual.

There was a bit more waiting after the cars were filled up. To say there was energy would be an understatement. I was almost teary, not because my first born would be leaving the nest for the very first time. Not because he would not be sleeping under our roof for six whole nights. No. It was for a very different reason.

While last minute details were being wrapped up, the car in front of me was giving a Carly Rae Jepsen concert. Multiple limbs were flying out of windows while notes that have never been heard by the human ear were being sung, no wait, shouted with no regard for quality control. The car was shaking on its axels and it closely resembled a bobble head. Then is where the tears fought to make their debut.

When do we as adults stop dancing? More importantly, why? Part of me so desperately wanted to be in that car yelling out the window in plastic devices to amplify my already insanely loud voice. Excited because I was going to get Sonic and not even care that it was in Fresno. To spend a week playing, and shouting, and learning, and dancing. Why do we ever stop that? Because the truth is that I think most of us do.

Should it matter if our day to day grows up a bit? The fact is that I can bust out Call Me Maybe like no other and it may not be as cute as those teens but I can promise you that I will have just as much fun.

I turned to my friend and asked, “Why don’t women’s retreats look like this?”

I was met with shrugged shoulders and another chimed in, “I wanna ride in your car.”

Exactly.

“Moments, this is all we have.

How many moments have I been sleeping right through?

Someone wake me up.

You have got to figure out a way to stay fully awake.

Time is blurring by.

How do we stop living like life is an emergency?

How do we start believing that life can only be carried in the hands of the unhurried?”

~Ann Voskamp

Such memories of my own youth enveloped me as I stood there. I can barely grasp that some 20 plus years have passed. I waited in my own caravan one day long ago, while my own youth pastor through his hands to the air and exclaimed as he often did, “makin memories”. He was right. They are memories. Some of the best.

I watched my son go and in very even though it would be fun I don’t really want to permanently scar you through this experience like fashion I subtly waved goodbye as car number eight made its way amongst the cheering and yelling and honking…out onto the road and out of view.

My heart surprisingly was not one bit sad for him leaving. Because I know what opportunity awaits him and the prayer in my heart is that he takes every advantage of this mountain top experience that he has been blessed with. My heart smiles at the circle of life that I watch happen before my eyes. He has zero idea that he is about to make memories that will last him a lifetime, but I know and I cherish them for him before they even are made. I pray that they are abundant.

My head and heart are spinning and I take my one year old baby to leave. As I am backing out, I see the stroller that I absentmindedly left in the parking lot. I throw the car into park and get out to collect my belongings and hopefully my brain.

I am so resolved to live big. Whether my days entail caravans of camp going teens, or mountains full of filthy clothes. May I always remember.

Smile.

Twirl.

Abandon.

Be grateful.

See Jesus.

See good.

Show mercy.

Show grace.

Dance.

Shout.

and love with a healthy dose of Call Me Maybe thrown right in.

This mamas heart does miss my man child, a whole lot. But more than missing him, I am so happy for him. I am not going to spend this week staying busy to hurry his return. No. I am going to spend this week living to the fullest. Just like he will be doing, atop a mountain with hundreds of others.

“So count the ways He loves a thousand more and never stop, so that when you wake in the morning you can’t help but raise your hands to the heavens.” ~Ann Voskamp

I have a toddler to chase, a husband to love, some of my best girls to have a patio dinner with, lockers to give a fresh coat of spray paint, chore charts to make, client shoots to wrap up, a closet to organize, mommy daughter dates, soccer camp, night swims, Bible reading, Pinterest drooling, running, dishes, and plenty of upcoming dirty diapers.

“This is how you spend your one life well. Receiving each moment for what it really is. Holy. Ordinary. Amazing Grace. A Gift.” ~Ann Voskamp

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