The Post That Changed me

I’m driving along one morning and my kids and I begin talking about having chickens and goats and how fun that would be. My kids were pretty excited about the thought. So I post, “my kids are begging me to live on a farm”. That was the beginning of a big giant hug from God straight from heaven for my soul…and while I can often be a fan of the choice to exaggerate. I assure you this is not one of those times.

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I almost immediately get an instant message from a woman that I didn’t know except through an inquiry for a photo session with me. The timing had not worked out and we had exchanged a couple of emails regarding it, but that was about it. She let me know that she had a home, that her and her husband were looking for tenants. We could have chickens and goats there. We arranged to look at it in about three hours. I did what any normal person would do. I google earthed that sucker and then I did a drive by. I was giddy. G I D D Y.

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On the way over to see the home, I was praying that I would love this home. We have lived in a LOT of homes and I am grateful for them all, but let’s be honest, some I just want to pet the walls every time I go inside and some not so much. For the last 7 years we had been in a rental that was pretty void of any character. The neighborhood was rapidly declining. After my kids had to be brought inside because of a hostage situation two blocks over, we had witnessed the staging for a swat team raid through our bedroom window, they had shut down our neighborhood because there were several burglars on the loose (on a Tuesday morning), and my son had been offered drugs in front of my home, I was really ready to leave. {Might I add this was all within a couple of month period}. I know longer felt safe there. As I was praying about this new home, I think I ended my prayer with something so profound like and Lord let there be slate.

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* our home for seven years. great memories but we were happy to move on.

You know sometimes how you know you know and you know? I just knew this was going to be fabulous. Indeed when I pulled up I fell in love before walking in and every step of the way through the house got better and better. It is a gorgeous home… Then came the bathrooms. Two of them. Head to toe all dressed up in slate. Give. Me. A. Break.

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I asked if I could bring my husband back right after work and we let them know of course we would love to move in. Not a police helicopter or drug dealer in sight either. Imagine. An established neighborhood with long time homeowners….and our landlords live on the property, next door. AND they own an alarm company. Go ahead burglars, break into the home with all the alarm trucks in the driveway. Safety everywhere. Just what my heart needed.

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…and not just physically. To meet Ron and Joany is to love them…and fast and furiously we did. We had every comfort our hearts could want while living in this home. They provided repairs and upgrades for our comfort without a moment’s hesitation. They didn’t just rent a home to us. They invited us into their lives and their home and property. They shared with us and cared for us and it wasn’t long until my nine year old happily exclaimed that she had another grandma and papa. My heart smiled. Big. 

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*this house came with my own private photo studio in my backyard. Abandon railroad tracks and gorgeous fields.

Not too long after we moved in, a lot of things in our lives started turning upside-down and it became quickly apparent that God had provided a safe place in the midst of a storm. A beautiful home of peace, safety, refuge…and chickens. And the reassuring words of my now dear friend…”God has brought us into each other’s lives for such a time as this.”

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For these precious people were fighting their own battles as well as Joany is fighting stage 4 breast cancer. The level of dignity and grace this woman and her husband possesses is nothing short of heavenly. Her son recently posted this on Facebook, I hope he doesn’t mind that I steal it, but it couldn’t describe Joany better….

Reading Proverbs 31 today. Love what my sister in law said about my mom “You are a flesh and blood Proverbs 31 Woman”. 
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come… Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

We moved out shortly after Christmas as God called us to Missouri. It was ridiculously heartbreaking to leave that refuge. I shed so many tears over it, but I continually prayed that I would not hold too tightly and thank God so deeply for the gift He gave us in our time there.

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Today Joany’s care has turned from treatment to comfort and her spirit is not broken and if her’s is not, darn it mine will not be either. I have been so touched reading all the outpouring from her friends and family on her Facebook page. For while I feel like I have known this family for years, the reality is last year at this time I didn’t know who they were. It has been beautiful to hear how many people adore them and see just how deeply. How precious are the ways of God, truly. How God can intertwine paths and hearts.

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We only lived on our farm for a short 9 months. What I thought was a long term move was in deed something all together different. In my heart I wish that we had had many years there. I truly wanted to raise my kids in that home. With Ron and Joany, healthy, next door. That’s what I wanted. But the Lord gave us those nine months to heal and be safe and be loved in the best way possible because when it comes straight from Him it is just perfect and I doubt that Ron or Joany can fully understand how God used them, their love for us, and that home in our lives. It changed me.

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I pray God can use me like that in someone’s life, for if so, it will be a life time very well spent. Here is a woman who didn’t know me from Adam and brought her best friends over to walk through and pray over the home before we moved in. I could go on and on…But I will tell you one of my very favorite things about Joany, she listens. She listens with a heart of gold and when you are talking she makes you feel like you are the most important person in the world. What a gift. The other favorite thing is her love for Jesus. It’s all over her.

I trust in God’s perfect timing and as it appears that Joany will be meeting our Savior before I will I think of my heartache, the heartache of her friends, family, and her husband and how great it will be. I am so very much comforted and happy in the thought that she will be in paradise. Truly. Free from any more pain and suffering and while she will no longer be a text away, she will be in my heart. For she has imprinted it for a lifetime.

I just needed to document this last year. It’s painful for all that it held. And the tears pour as I type, but they also pour because it is so stinkin’ beautiful how God works. To truly see the hands and feet of Jesus. I needed them, I needed that farm…I am so grateful.

Bless you dear friends.

and Joany…may you rest in perfect peace today, tomorrow, and always. I know you love words, and I search for the right ones, but you and your life have exceeded them in my book, my friend. You are so precious to me.

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The Other Side

This isn’t death, it’s glory. It isn’t dark, it’s light.

It isn’t stumbling, groping, Or even faith, it’s sight!

This isn’t grief, it’s having My last tear wiped away.

It’s sunrise, it’s the morning Of my eternal day!

This isn’t even praying, It’s speaking face to face.

It’s listening, and it’s glimpsing The wonders of His Grace.

This is the end of pleading  For strength to bear my pain

Not even pain’s dark memory Will ever live again.

How did I bear the earth life Before I came up higher,

Before my soul was granted It’s every deep desire.

Before I knew this rapture Of meeting face to face

That One who sought and saed me, And kept me by His Grace

Martha Snell Nicholson

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The Hose

It has been just a little over a month since we left the sunshine state. Let’s chat about the weather. Yeah, it’s cold and that’s cool with me. It’s been fun experiencing something new. Coming out to the car and finding your diet coke from yesterday frozen. Ruining packages of baby wipes because they froze. Putting on lipstick that is straight from a -30 degree car, oh and face powder. Waiting for snow to fall. Forgetting your jacket. Wondering if you should leave that jacket in the car and run in the store so you don’t have to carry the jacket once you are inside. Figuring out boots are not just cute, they are practical too. Using lotion multiple times a day. Realizing that if I left a bag of groceries in the car overnight, it isn’t a big deal. Weather is quite the topic these days, but it is not the differences of winter or summer or fall that will be challenging for me. Spring will be the hardest change. I do not love lightening, thunder, hail, or tornadoes. Call me crazy.

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My family is not usually sick, but this year we are on round two just this month. With six in our family if each one gets sick one at a time, that is a lot of days of sick in a row. Now, double that. We have had someone one not feeling great since Christmas afternoon when we lit the candles to sing to Jesus and Greyson threw up down my back. Merry Christmas.

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We have had ups and downs since moving, as expected. The other night in a particular down, all of a sudden one child begins throwing up. This child is fabulous, but not a champion thrower upper. Let’s just say she remained in her bed the whole incident. Shawn and I have a strict agreement with sickness that I take top end and he takes the bottom. So, I’m up. I stripped the sheets and put them in a ball in the tub while I tend to my patient. I ask Shawn if he has seen a hose outside of the house we are staying in. He says yes and so I throw the pile of blankets outside. Intending to rinse them with a hose before putting them in the washing machine.

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So you know the straw right? The one that did back injuries to that one camel???? I go outside to hose off the blankets and I see no hose connected to water. I question the man God gave me about it and He said, “well I saw a hose? I didn’t know you wanted it working”. Because clearly at midnight I want a non working hose. Maybe to gaze upon its beauty in the freezing temps? Look at it lovingly while sipping hot cocoa? Of course I wanted it working. So by the time we finish our ridiculous argument over the situation, I head outside to retrieve the blankets and now they are frozen. Let me remind you the reason they were out there in the first place. That is frozen too.

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I will spare you the rest of the story…but let’s just say that standing there at that sink in the middle of the night cleaning the blankets by hand I had a low point. The point where you question all that is well and not well in the world and cry and just want to go home. Where you question how you ended up in Missouri cleaning frozen barf in the middle of the night.

“Behold His glory- and your raging heart will be held” -Ann Voskamp

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There was time recently where life was really hard. I posted on Facebook “one foot in front of the other, that’s about all I’ve got right now.” A response came in…”a lot of great things were accomplished that way”. What a life changing time those days were. They taught me that no matter what was up in the day to day, you just have to do your best. That is when fantastic is born. Right there at midnight with chunks of frozen barf.

We have been welcomed here like no other, no joke. It is so awesome. We have been treated to meals, taken on city tours, checked on, loved on, given gifts, gift cards, and even had our juice poured in sugar rimmed chilled glasses {which I highly recommend}….and as I sat in church one Sunday morning, I cried. Tears of joy because we are home. It takes time to acclimate, but that will happen. I know in my heart that Jesus has us here and as difficult as some of this transition has been, it’s ok.

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…and as most arguments are, in fact, a waste of time. It was recently brought to my attention that even if there had been a “working hose” the temps were below zero. It wouldn’t have provided me running water anyway.

Go figure.

 

 

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Back To School, Again.

Tomorrow begins our first days of school in Missouri. Well, actually today was, but it was a holiday, so we had the day off. I am the best teacher…ever.

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3rd grade.

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Anyway. Four months after school has started I took their yearly school photos. I just didn’t get to it. I always have wanted to do pics in front of busses, which makes less than zero sense since my kids are home schooled. Not too many busses around in California. However, I found some in Missouri. We took these pictures in about 60 seconds, for real, because I felt like I was doing something wrong and might go to some sort of Missouri jail. So we were fast. Baby stayed strapped in car. It was really quite impressive, actually. I think the kids might have been slightly scared because they were extra cooperative, lol.

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8th grade.

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I need a picture for their school box each year…and by school box I mean you simply must click over and see the best idea I have seen on Pinterest, ever, that I did and am totally head over heels in love with. It is for any child in school. Not just home schooler types.

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9th grade

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Anyway. I said I would never homeschool. I am. I said I could never homeschool around a dining room table. I am starting tomorrow…and while we are on the topic of stupid things I say, I also said I would never live anywhere where there are tornados.

When will I learn?

 

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I Miss My Chickens

My morning

I sit here in McDonalds in Missouri. The picture of this would be more fabulous if I was in a cozy Starbucks or Panera, but I’m just not that cool, really I’m not. Confession: I love McDonalds breakfast. It’s so gross, yet true. I have been on a steady decline for a while with my nutrition and exercise. Beginning sometime around when my husband’s insides blew up this past year, but honestly it can hardly be an excuse, yet it is. Fell off the wagon? Yeah and the wagon kept going and is but a speck in the distance. Currently I am in the ever so fun stage of getting up and dusting myself off and taking the first step toward the wagon. I hate this spot. I’ve been here before. AND right after I finish these pancakes I am headed over to check out a gym. I promise. I am SO all or nothing. I have got. to. fix. that. I have reread these posts for inspiration.  Back to real food . So much better.

I was recently checking out top life stresses online and ran across a quiz that rated how likely your recent experiences were to make you physically ill. I took it. I also took a quiz that told you what city you should live in. I found out I was in danger of becoming physically ill and I should move to Barcelona. Big day for me.

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The weather

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*he kept yelling at the wind. “stop it guys, stop it.”

I actually am finding this change fun. I have lived in California my whole life and I am looking forward to the unpredictable crazy weather that everyone is telling me about. I like change and I like extremes. While my friends are jogging the streets in shorts and tanks today no doubt in California, I woke up to 19 degrees and a “feels like zero” on my weather app. Hmmmm. It is cold. Crazy cold. When I tried to get gas on that below zero day a couple weeks back I swear I would have cried if I wasn’t scared that the teardrops would freeze my face off. So, while some dream of sun, dare I say I dream of snow? A white Christmas. I am glad I get to experience it. The grocery clerk asked me the other day where I had moved from and I said California. I got the typical head tilt and, “oh wow, and how come you moved to missouri thing”. So, I said “alright..what am I missing, EVERYBODY responds like that”…he says, “MA’AM it’s probably because of the weather”.

My week

By Monday at about 10 am it was clear that my goals were not going to happen. Chore charts, meal plans, school in session, etc. I had to dumb them down quite a bit. I spent the week, sick in bed, crying my guts out {not fun, but totally necessary in this process}, and finding things in this city. I have spent time exploring areas, trying to figure things out, and finding where my places are. You know the bank, the dry cleaners, blah blah blah…because one thing for sure everywhere you live things are different and I decided this time to try and figure some of this stuff out now, so I can make adjustments. Car washes like we have in California don’t seem to exist here and grocery stores are crazy different. The little things. The little things in the life of a mom. Just changes the way you do things.

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One thing I have discovered is there is SO MUCH TO DO around here. Honestly, I am so excited about that. I could go on and on and I am sure you will see in my posts in months to come. I never really spent time thinking about what the midwest was like, but I guess I would have said fields and a red barn with a windmill. But nope, there are just tons of cool areas I can’t wait to check out. Lots of museums, shopping, dining, artsy things, and on and on. I have an ever growing list of places I want to take the kids.

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My days

We are super comfortable in the temporary housing we are in but I can not tell you how excited I am to get into our own home and unpack. I feel all out of sorts. Which is probably good for me. We all need to be disrupted at times and I am trying to make the most of it. For I recognize without a home to maintain I do have more time to play, rest, and BE with my kids. All good things. All good things are happening with our new home as well. We are on track to close escrow somewhere around Valentines Day…

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*performing for the local mall. kinda rad to be in a town where you know like 7 people. The likelihood of running into them at somewhat embarrassing moments is very slim.

My chickens

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I miss them. Kinda weird, but I do. In our new house we aren’t allowed to have them. It seems like most places to live around here are subdivisions with rules. No chickens seems to be the normal. So I will go back to buying eggs.

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I will miss their chubby cluckiness in my yard. A lot. We sold the hens to friends of ours from church. He is a chef. He swore he wouldn’t eat them. I only half believe him, although he promised.

We were about to get a goat in California before we left. Ironic we left our wanna be farm in California to move to the midwest and we can’t have one here. We are going to live right near a lake. Maybe I can have a duck or something? ya think?

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You know what is fabulous?

My husband has worked a six day work week for the past 5 years and now he works a five day work week. There are no words for the level of joy this brings me for our family. One day off just is not enough to unwind. We are enjoying this change a LOT, because we kinda like him.

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*also fabulous, the local thrift shop. Vest for the wee one and a Isaac Mizrahi mug for me. $3.00 bill for the win.

 

 

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Home

Our house hunting began in November.

House Hunters, ironically one of my favorite shows. Three homes, a perfect 4.2 minute conversation in a restaurant {with no disagreements}, and bam you are a homeowner. Love reality tv. Not so much our experience. We put an offer on a 3 acre country home that was just insanely charming, but needed more work than our budget allowed and so we left that one. Next, fell in love with a colonial fixer upper that had an insanely cute address, Wellington Court. It had been on the market for 9 months, yet sold before we could write up the offer.

Next up, a real live dollhouse. On a lake, no less.

Third time is a charm. We offered on a home Saturday about 6 pm and by 9 pm we had an answer. A simple yes. No counters. No weirdness. Just Yes.

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It’s just a few miles from where we are staying right now, so I go buy it at least once a day just to see what’s up in the hood, ya know? and today I drove up and saw the sale pending sign. My heart dropped out of my body….are you kidding me???? What NOW???? I think I even said it aloud. Then I realized….

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WE ARE THE SALE PENDING…

sometimes I can be a bit slow.

Home inspections tomorrow, appraisals to follow, and hopefully a move in mid Feb.

Cute, right? I have always wanted to live in a dollhouse…

I am almost jumping out of my tree excited, reserving that for move in day. I have bought and sold only a couple of times, but enough to know that it’s not over, just quite yet.  BUT…so far, so fabulous, so grateful.

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I Don’t Know When To Turn

I sit there dumbfounded. Realizing the honking is at me. There are 53,466 traffic signal circle things, or maybe just 5, and something about yielding. I don’t know when it is my turn and just when I figure it out the next signal is different. Sometimes it’s green, sometimes yellow. Sometimes blinking sometimes not. I need a PHD to drive here. Where are the arrows? In California you get your own arrow, your own turn. Here I think I just better go straight forever. I am never quite sure when I can actually turn. I need Missouri plates STAT. I am sure people are like. Hmmph….California Driver. I smile and wave. I’ll own it.

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Speaking of signs. I have never seen these ever. Someone want to enlighten me? Please help a west coast girl out.

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Last night my baby girl had a total melt down and in turn it sparked one in me. She sobbed and begged to go back home. Having her look me in my eye and beg me to undo a decision that her father and I have made and could undo as well is super difficult. She doesn’t understand all this. As an adult, I also know that she will not remember much of this, as she just turned nine. The years of her growing up that will be in her memory are ahead of her and they will be great, but the right now…it hurts. It hurts to watch. It’s hard to be strong for them when I feel like crying and going fetal at times myself. It’s hard to realize that most of her memories of California will be ones that she sees in pictures or are told to her.

“…and I am reminded again that trudging through the difficult bears the most fruit.” ~joy prouty 

The pain of homesickness is far from over, I know this. It comes fast and furious. It comes without warning. It comes at random times in very random ways.

One year ago, I had the chance to meet two pretty incredibly people. Ron and Joany. Joany is battling cancer and also is one of the most fabulous women I have had the pleasure of knowing. In a time when the unfamiliarity of moving states and leaving family pale in comparison to my sweet friend’s fight, I think if this is her attitude??? I will rock mine as well. This is her Facebook status. Please pray for her and please trust like her.

“All of you, my family and friends, are being so kind and caring in your prayers for me. I feel comforted as a result – thank you!! So I saw my Doc yesterday and “the plan” is to have a liver biopsy, brain MRI and then radiation to my femurs and sacrum. The radiation is targeted to the painful areas and helps. He tweaked my pain Meds a bit, so that should help also. The liver biopsy is being sent to a special lab that checks it against various chemos to discern which one(s) would be more effective. I’ve learned that in metastic breast cancer, the make up of tumors can morph and therefore do better when matched with a chemo designed to kill that particular type of beast. The main things I’m experiencing right now are pain, nausea, weight loss, lack of appetite, dizziness and weakness. God’s love is greater however than my circumstance. We all have tough stuff in our journeys through this life. Who knows, maybe this is what I need to pry my fingers off love of this world and open my hands wide to grasping on to my Father and then Heaven to come some day. I’m trusting in Him within this battle. I’m loving Psalms and how so many times David thought it was curtains and then God got him through it  That’s my prayer, but I trust my Jesus and his perfect plan.”

Such beauty. I hope you, dear Joany, have some large scale sense of the amount of people you inspire to take one step closer to Jesus. You have done that for me. You have imprinted MY heart for my whole life, sweet friend and I adore you.

Joy comes in the morning.

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After a horrible last night, joy came as we joined our church family for the second week here. Last week was freezing and snowing and this week was 7 degrees warmer than California. My heart is so very full here. We have been welcomed in a way that is hard to explain. It means so very much to a family who is aching for home and familiarity and on the path to find it here.

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* I received a care package complete with fuzz a licious socks from a sweet lady today. Seriously fantastic and so appreciated.

I said in a recent blog post that this church speaks our heart and boy is that the case. People keep saying words like culture shock and how different things must be here in the midwest, but I tell you when you are united and family with Jesus sometimes those things just fade to the background. I have zero doubt whatsoever that this is exactly where we are supposed to be. I feel blessed to be here. Honored to be a part of this ministry and excited to get to know the people that make up this family. Has it been hard to get here? Absolutely!  and I am so blessed that it has because that just is an indication of how many fabulous people we have in our life that are in California. We are very blessed.

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We had one box of our stuff arrive at our temporary housing. Magical, I tell you. I am back in my own bed. My three year old shares my opinion, as he saw his mattress he started screaming and jumping, “my bed is back, my bed is back….”

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* my favorite new game. It’s entitled, “trap dad in the bathroom with a mattress”. It’s easy. When the dad in the house goes to the bathroom slide a mattress in front of the door and position a cute child in front of it to hold it up. hours of fun. 

We are in a three bedroom house right now. We are in close quarters with each other and I think it is absolutely perfect. The girls share a room, the teen boy has a room, my toddler sleeps in “Greyson’s room” which is actually a large walk in closet. It is just perfect size for this period of time. Emotions have been high and intense and have inspired some knock down drag out discussions and forced growth in all of us. Growth that is good and needed. Growth that has made us stronger as a family and as individuals. It’s do or die time. …and we choose do.

We. Choose. Do.

p.s. this week school will resume, menu plans will return, chore charts will reappear, a gym membership will be purchased, and I will find a car wash. I will also blow the dust of my “real” camera. Real life. The day to day. Bring it on. I might even do something so totally fantastic like go to Costco and buy toilet paper. The sky’s the limit and I’m on it.

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She Is Thirteen

 

 

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Remember when I struggled with THIS???? It doesn’t get easier watching them grow…

I am glad I got to sneak in a few shots for her 13th birthday in between client sessions before we left California. We were several months after her 13th birthday, but we got some.

I wanted to completely embarrass her by posting some adorable newborn photos of her, but alas my photo albums are in California and I am in Missouri, so she will escape for now.

A beautiful little lady, with a giant heart of gold…..

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What’s Up, Straws?

The straw that broke the camels back.

Isn’t it true how in life when you are already amped up, the tiniest things become big ones? Shawn started back to work this week and so I am flying solo over here with negative 30 degree temps. I have spent the first three days of his working in three different locations. Moving my entire crew from one to another, in sub zero temps. Learning to drive in snow, finding our way in this new city, you know…life as a mom, but post cross country move life as a mom. Nothing I am doing or going through is really particularly a big deal, but when you add it on top of the the emotions of moving and managing the emotions of my four littles, all the while trying to support my husband and adjust to our temporary gypsy lifestyle in Missouri, well then we have another story. There has been a lot of straws. Some of them no big deal, just funny. Some of them making me burst into sobs.

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First the cold. If I had a dollar for every one of my California friends who texted or emailed and said, “What does that actually feel like?”. Really the best way I can describe it’s general suckiness is the feeling of being in labor. And really they don’t feel anything the same, but they both suck equally. Labor is way better because at the end you get a baby, but we aren’t talking about that. I had to fill up my car the with gas at -28 wind chill and it took me two tries. Literally. I would like to hope that my general helplessness is partly due to the fact that I have spent four decades in California and I am not acclimated to this kind of cold, although really who is? Bottom line. It’s awful.

You know how you hear about places, but have never been to them? Des Moines, Iowa. Definitely heard of it, but have never been there. Tonight my boys and I set out in search of Trader Joes and while en route I saw a sign to Des Moines. It caught me SO off guard that I live somewhere that there is a sign to direct you to Des Moines that I momentarily spazzed and missed my turn off. Thank you technology and the instant rerouting.

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My clock in my car was on Cali time and I thought I’ll just leave it so I don’t have to change it when we go back home. Then I remembered, we are not on vacation. Ooops. {this is the one that got me. grab the kleenex}. I just keep doing that with different things. Not sure when this will sink in truly.

We were driving through Chick Fil A and I paid the drive through dude and in the transfer of money from my hand to his, a coin hit the ground. That’s happened before and most of the time they go, “no worries”. Right? Because A, it is just change. B, they can get it later and C, whose fault is it really anyway? The drive thru dude looks down and says, “oh, that was a dime, could you pay me another one please?”. I repay.

…and oh the dry skin. really? someone point me to the nearest vat of body lotion. Please and thank you.

Speaking of the cold, the “really” cold day? My window decided to stay like this for awhile, while I was already out and about. My daughters hair was still wet from her morning shower and it had little icicles in it within minutes.

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…and further more, one should not wear converse in this weather because well, it’s just dumb. Your feet get cold. Really cold and they never warm up. Ever. And going out with wet hair? There are no words for allowing that behavior.

We moved our hearts from the country property and into the fixer upper colonial. My husband and I were chatting on the phone and decide to make an offer as our realtor beeps in to tell us it was sold. I think I went to the deep end of the pool for about an hour. Ultimately I packed up my bags and moved my heart out of that one too. Still looking….

“The strength of patience hangs on our capacity to believe that God is up to something good for us in all our delays and detours.” John Piper {Thank you to my sweet friend Louanne for this reminder!}

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I spent an afternoon at a chuck e cheese this week. I went to order a large cheese pizza which cost 11.99. I had a $2 off coupon. My total was still 11.99. I noticed she had charged me for extra cheese. I told her that I didn’t need the extra cheese. She told me that if I didn’t order the extra cheese then I would only get a crust. I said, “but the menu says cheese pizza is 11.99. So it really is 13.99?” “Yes”, she says. I’m entirely confused at this point and just to make life dangerous, I forgo the extra cheese and get “the crust”. The pizza arrived 15 minutes later…with cheese. I’m still confused.

I love getting older for only one reason so far, but that reason is a big one. When I moved to Elk Grove, Ca from San Jose, Ca 8 years ago, I seriously thought my life was basically over. It was so difficult for me. We had so many stinkin’ things go wrong it was not even funny. A small fire in the kitchen, our car was stolen out of our driveway, and my dad had a life threatening experience with diverticulitis just to name the highlights. It was rough. It is rough if you let life circumstances dictate your emotions. The more experience you have living you just flat realize that you get through it all and you can get through it thriving.

I am trying the best I can to fill up each day with Jesus. Fill up myself and fill up my kids. I just don’t want to be in a place where an exchange over pizza, a dropped coin, or a house deal gone wrong gets the best of me. I will spend the next weeks getting lost, being confused, learning and learning, and a whole bunch of other things and I can do it all with peace in my heart.

This first week here with our new church family has ultimately been awesome. We have experienced lots of new things already and have been welcomed so fantastically here, my heart is full. We have moved into our short term furnished rental and I am excited to have spent the day putting things in drawers and putting suitcases away, for now, in the closet.

missionshouse

I have been carrying all the cards I received in my last days in California in my purse for emergency reading. Tonight I lined them up on my dresser. My girls back home are the wind beneath my wings and I love them for it. Eight years ago when I was at a huge low after our move, I met them all and they have been there ever since and always will be. A reminder that God takes care of us. He loves us. His plan and purposes are not to hurt us. He cares.

I am excited to be here. Excited to get settled. Excited to meet people.

Excited.

Homesickness comes in weird strange waves. Fast and Furious. I seriously try to feel them and work through them. They will come less and less.

…and I am thankful for God’s big fat gift of peace. Just an overwhelming sense that everything is ok. This is right. This is good. He sends continuous confirmations my way. Our first Sunday at church, I was reminded that God wants us to live a life with a vision so big it requires divine intervention. A life that keeps us desperate for Him. I agree.

All these little funny things that happen in life can be triggers or they can just be life. The bigger things in life like my kids getting sick, car accidents, cross country moves, etc. start to have more pull on my emotions and my thoughts. My focus must remain, Jesus.

…and so I am centered, no really. Jesus does that. He makes all the straws be, just straws. Just things. Just experiences. Not really capable of breaking any back, camel or otherwise.

Praise Him.

“Whatever you focus on, you always move toward.” ~Rick Warren

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We’re From California

It’s a strange thing this moving cross country. I am kinda chatty and through small talk with various people, such as those who sell jackets…it has come up that “we just moved here from California”. I can’t tell you the amount of times that has brought a tilted head and a “huh?”. My kids are beginning to question the sanity of their parents while listening to all of this. I am beginning to wonder if there is something we are missing, lol. Yet, ironically, in California, I can’t tell you how many people said in those final days…”you are so lucky, you are getting out.” This baffles me as well because I didn’t realize I was in jail. Really in the end…it’s where God wants ya. Grass seems to always be greener somewhere other than you are sometimes, I suppose.

welcome

I am sure we stick out here in Missouri. We are the freezing people with the wild child three year old and brand new jackets. Last night we came up from the indoor pool in the hotel for some dinner and while we were eating, it started to snow. We bundled new jackets over bathing suits and headed down through the lobby and went outside. People can hate on snow all they want, but I tell you it’s magical. We loved it. This is the third night at our current hotel and I am quite certain after this wet bathing suit, puffy jacket extravaganza…the night desk clerk, thinks we are officially insane. So, I helped his exploding head by informing him we are from California and just moved here. First time for snow for us and we are kinda excited. “Why did you move here?” He says. Yes, with his head tilted.…..oy vey.

emma

Snow may be annoying, but there is something annoying everywhere. You know what is kinda California annoying? Tank tops on Christmas day. Fires on tv, because it is too hot to burn one. Hoping already for a white 2014 Christmas.

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The trip out here is history. A memory for sure. Didn’t quite go as I imagined. We traveled a bit Clark Griswald style with sick kids and a dog. The weather for the most part was brilliant. The car was not packed like we were going on a road trip, but rather it was packed like “hey, you forgot to pack the espresso machine? put it here by my right arm and let it balance on the big wheel.” I really wish I was kidding.

road trip

We are on our third night of the same hotel now and it has been incredible to unwind a bit. A front row seat in the hot tub viewing the snow, a bedtime buffet, jungle gym’s in the hall. Hotel life has it all and a maid.

hotel

dinner

We are looking forward to finding our permanent home. It has been a challenge for me to chill with everything all over the place. Stretching me for sure.

monkey

 Today was the first day at our new church. In theory it should seem really strange that I attended church in MISSOURI, but it didn’t at all. We were welcomed so emphatically. I am smitten already.

bulletin

It felt normal, snow and all. It was cold. Like …well really nothing like it I can think of. Even now typing this it is 3 degrees outside with a “feels like” -13. You have got to be kidding me. Tomorrow Shawn goes back to work after having him home for six weeks. I have a viewing of a property, have to pick up the dog from the doggie boarders, and move all of our stuff into another location for the next two nights. Alone. Big girl panties on…let’s do this. On the upside by the time I have to be out and about, it should have warmed up to zero degrees.

Wish me luck…

 

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I’m Kinda A Mess, But Not

I sit here at the blank screen tonight in the same place I have been repeatedly for the last several months. So much swirling in my heart and my head it gets stuck. So, I start reading my old blog posts from the last several months and I find myself in awe of our Lord. Just in awe. As I read posts of where I was and the path I was on.

Lessons learned on saying goodbyes, on faith, and seeing God answer the prayers of my heart.

“Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,

To venture on wider seas

Where storms will show your mastery;

Where losing sight of land,

We shall find the stars.”

I think I have lost sight of land. lol. My land. My home. My people. As I sit here in a hotel room in Lincoln, Nebraska (a sentence I thought I’d never say), I recall my day today. I was sold a Subway sandwich by a young man who was chewing tobacco, after which I was informed that refills on soda were no longer allowed by the NE department of health. I might be out of my element. It is three degrees here. Three. The only use I have for that number is the size I wish my pants were, not to define the temperature of the air outside.

sign

The state of my unknown early October was so massive to my trembling heart, to the heart of my family. Here I sit just a short three months later completely in awe of 2013. The whole thing.

mypeople

The last few weeks have been so unbelievably difficult saying goodbye to our people. We left home on Tuesday. It was an ok day. New Years Eve Day. Wednesday I quite literally cried on and off most of the day. Today was much better. I know a ton of people have moved and at times I admit I feel downright lame for how difficult this is for me. However, it is what it is and what it is is a huge leap of faith. One that I have taken on with pointed toes. I’m ready.

newyears

A couple of years ago I heard a sermon where the pastor was talking about trust in God and jumping. I wondered how you could practically jump and what that would look like. I think this qualifies. I have never been more unsure and certain, terrified and at peace…in my entire life. Forty Two years of my life lay 1770 miles away from me. It’s unsettling.

My skin is cracking dry already with this cold, my eyes are puffy like a post fight boxer, and my heart is full as I read “we’ll miss you’s along side sweet welcomes” on my timeline.

And despite the -7 degree forecast for Lees Summit this Sunday morning, I can’t wait to sit and worship with my new church family. {right after I go jacket shopping and perhaps watch an instructional video on how to drive in below freezing temps;)} Worship this Jesus of ours who works all things together for our good…I am thankful.

Happy New Year! Hope 2014 rocks for ya!

xo.

 

p.s.

* I saw an Instagram Collage poster recently and thought it would be so cool to have one made up of something. So the last couple months I have been taking shots of objects and places that are special to my family and I in one way or another. I can’t wait to get it all together and order our poster of Elk Grove memories. When we finally find our new home, it will be hanging up on the wall. It will always make me smile.

collage

*where my husband’s iPad lept from the roof of our car to it’s untimely death.

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* the giraffe dude from one of our favorite Elk Grove Parks.

See what I mean? Imagine 50 random images such as these side by side in cute little squares. Fun, right?

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