On August: Smiles, Messes, and One Really Big Shark

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Somehow the calendar page turned today and I found myself staring at the month of September.

September is one of my favorite months. It’s that strange one that flips between summer and the promise of sweater weather, the one when the pool is still up and used even if there are acorn shells and crunchy leaves covering the ground. (It’s also the only time of year that I feel like I can reasonably pull off wearing shorts with long sleeves. That’s just weird and probably not very trendy, but I’m not sure I care too much.) πŸ˜‰

I could lament forever that I can’t believe August is over, but now that we’re staring at this month…I guess I’m good with it. We survived transition, we made it through some hard days–the kind when we cry while we remember, and now life is falling into a bit of a routine. A bit…we’re still finding normal somewhat, but it feels more settled.

I haven’t been very good at keeping track of my favorites the last few months…but I still felt the bloggy urge to write about August somehow. So here we go.

Random, to be sure…but here’s the good, the bad, and what just was. Is. I love my life and the blessings God has given us.

I’ve been working my way slowly through Wild in the Hollow. Everyone I know who’s read it has devoured it in mere hours. I’ve been wanting to devour it, but Amber’s words hit so close to home that there are times I need to close the pages and find a quiet corner for soul processing. It’s such a unique read, unlike anything I’ve ever opened. I recommend it so much. (And actually, one of you is going to get a copy of it if you make it to the end of my ramblings.) πŸ˜‰

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I think my daughter is completely adorable in her school uniform. Who knew that khaki, blue, white, and red (and the shades that fall into those categories) could create such cuteness? She’s just growing up and stealing my heart a little more each day. She also started soccer last week, had her cheerleading debut with some of her BFF’s on Friday night, AND there’s a LOOSE TOOTH in there, too. Hold me. T’was a full week and such a turning point in her life. I feel like she’s really a growing-up girl now…full of wonder and change. It’s fun watching her become.

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We saw War Room on Sunday night. I have to be honest and tell you that the weekend in our house was not full of peace and oozing with kindness. Hubby and I…well, we just had a few of those days. We didn’t so much like each other those days, and I know Satan was just dancing all over our hearts. It was horrible. How ironic that we’d made plans to see the movie with friends…and even up until the moment we walked into the theater, I could feel my marriage being attacked.

But we stayed and we watched (and I cried–more than once) and the movie was SO. GOOD. And I’m praying the truths from it will seep into our beings as we walk this road. Marriage…it’s no fairy tale. But it’s still beautiful, and I love him and I love my Father. We belong together forever, even on the messy, ugly days.

It’s been almost a year since we lost our sweet Andre. Sometimes I feel out of place and wrong for still grieving a dog. He was my sweet boy, and we still miss him so much. If you think of us on the 19th, will you whisper up a prayer? I think we’ll probably need to go away that day because I’m not entirely sure I’ll be able to handle being in the house where he spent his last hours. Golly, I miss my boy.

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I’m a mess. It’s just been a messy month. Do you ever have those? I’ve had ugly cries in the church balcony, angry words with my Father, and too many moments of bitterness. I’ve beaten myself up over it all…but then I come back to the promise that He can turn this mess into something beautiful. I’m waiting for the beauty He’s promised.

Oh, and I got a tattoo. Yeah, you read that right. I’ve actually had it for a month, but it wasn’t something that I knew how to write about, so I just didn’t. Instead, I just kind of let it be seen sometimes and if people wanted to ask I told them the short version: I wanted a tangible reminder that my Father makes everything beautiful. Someday I’ll tell you more of the story. :)

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I signed up to run a 15k. I have exactly 68 days to train for it, which is only slightly scary. My current distance sits at about a whopping 3 1/2 miles. Oh, boy…good thing I just bought a new pair of running shoes. πŸ˜‰

For about a month I have been telling my husband I need the beach. I just love it…I miss my surfing days and the sand between my toes and the sound of the crashing waves and the soul peace that comes from breathing deep and feeling small in the vast. We’ve been teetering back and forth on possibly taking a long weekend this fall and going, but we honestly haven’t been able to make a decision. So, wishing for the beach…I am. Completely. Not sure it will happen this year, but a girl can dream, right?

And you would think that a video like this might change my mind. Alas, no. I still heart the saltwater sea. I swear it calls my name. (Though I can’t get enough of the following 42 seconds. Seriously…cracking up.) πŸ˜€ AND potentially praying that I don’t get eaten by one of those ever…

And that…well, that’s life for us now. It’s good and full of blessings…and writing like this reminds me of just how blessed I am.

And I feel like giving away a copy of Wild in the Hollow because it’s just so beautiful. (And it’s going to find a spot on my bookshelf forever, I think.) To enter, leave me a comment…either here or on facebook…and share a blessing. That’s it. :) I’ll pick a winner on Friday and shoot you an email/Facebook message to let you know you’ve won.

Happy Tuesday, friends. Make it a beautiful one. :)

Sig

To My Daughter on Her First Day of Kindergarten

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To my sweet, five year-old, Maelie girl…the one who’s off to Kindergarten this morning,

This letter…it’s a hard one to write.

Whenever anyone has asked me how I feel about you going to kindergarten, my answer is always the same.

I can’t believe we’re here.

I stayed up late last night, staring at my computer screen, well aware that in ten hours I’d be walking you into your classroom for your first day. And there are a few things I know will happen…

I know I’ll cry. (I know you’ll tell me to stop, too.) πŸ˜‰

I know you’ll completely melt me in your stinkin’ cute little uniform.

I know you’ll hug me goodbye.

And I also know that today will mark a change of seasons for us.

There have been so many times in our five years together when I’ve wanted to freeze time, or at least slow it down to a crawl.

Yet, this morning, I want that more than ever.

Kindergarten…it feels so huge. It’s EVERY. DAY. It’s the last year before all day. It’s new milestones that range from words and reading to crossing the street to the big school. It’s uniforms and learning to tie shoes, it’s new teachers and new adventures.

It’s a little bit of letting go. And that little…well, it will continue to lead to more and more.

There are many many days when it takes my breath away, this letting-go-of-you thing. I’m not ready. I don’t suppose I ever really will be.

But as I pound out these words and you are still off in dreamland…I just want you to know a few things.

I have loved the last five years. LOVED them. Being a stay-at-home-mama wasn’t something I always wanted to be, but I’m so grateful that God changed my heart. The opportunity to be with you, every day, has been the greatest, most wonderful gift, better than anything I could have imagined. I have loved spending our days together.

I love who you are…and who you are becoming. You captured my heart before I held you in my arms. I knew I would completely love you, but I had no idea what that looked like. And from the first moments of holding you to this very morning, I have continued to fall in love with the girl you have grown to be. You are absolutely incredible and so, so beautiful.

You have so much to look forward to. New friends, new teachers, new games, new stories, SO many new things to learn. Embrace it all and HAVE FUN!

It won’t always be easy. And when it isn’t, remember that you are surrounded by people who love you. And God loves you most of all.

No matter what, I hope you will always run to Him. Maelie girl, He loves you so much and He has such amazing plans for you.

This morning I’m letting you go a little more. I’ll leave you in your classroom, and you’ll begin a new journey, one that will lead you to places more wonderful than you can even imagine.

Yes, I’ll cry a little…but I’ll also be cheering for you. :)

There’s so much out there waiting for you. Don’t be afraid to dream BIG.

Go find your wings and fly, my girl.

I love you to the moon and back. (Plus infinity.) πŸ˜‰

Love, Mommy

Sig

When Your Days Don’t Look Like Dreaming

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This is the morning, I tell myself, as I pour the coffee and head out to the picnic table.

It’s the morning I’m going to sit down and write those words, the ones that will be so profound, the ones that will inspire dreamers and push them to chase down whatever it is that’s burning in their hearts.

A smile creeps to my face as I take a seat at my little, yellow-and-turquoise-with-a-flower, table and begin to pound out the words.

And I’m not too far into it all before I feel the honest need to confess something.

I’m a writer at God-sized Dreams, and sometimes I feel like a big fake.

The truth? Is that, lately, I haven’t been doing much, if any, dreaming. Or writing.

Today I’m over at God-sized Dreams, sharing a little honesty.Β πŸ˜‰Β My dreams have definitely changed in the last years…and I’m learning to embrace that. Join me?

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Sig

The Random of July…

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I really have no clue how today is August. Did this catch anyone else by surprise?

I knew time would fly this summer, but I didn’t expect it to go quite so quickly. But we’re coming to the end, and goodbye, July. :(

I usually close out each month with a list of favorite things. And when I started to make that list, I sort of started to feel guilty.

I haven’t read much of anything this month. (Though I have Wild in the Hollow sitting on the table next to me. Now I just need two or three, blissfully uninterrupted hours and a cup of coffee. I’m very much looking forward to it.) πŸ˜‰

I haven’t watched much, either. (Except season 7 of Little House on the Prairie. I’m watching them in order. It’s not my favorite one so far, but it’s good.)

Of course I have favorite things I wear because I’m a girl and I like clothes. And hubby bought me the uber cutest, most funky dress (it has POCKETS!) from my new favorite store as a late birthday surprise, and it will be making an appearance sometime over the weekend…either at church or on our anniversary on Monday. But, really, who wants to read about another dress?

Ok, ok, so maybe you do. I’ll share someday. πŸ˜‰

But I sort of feel like I fell off the favorite things bandwagon just a tad. So I’m going to sum up the month of July with the random of life. That’s good too, right? In this case, the random are also favorites. :)

Every July my sweet friend comes to visit from Texas for the month. Her parents live in our neighborhood, and so she brings her son with her, and they hang out here, visiting family while escaping the oppressive, summer-Texas heat. (I’m just guessing it’s oppressive…I’ve never actually experienced it.) πŸ˜‰ She and I have shared many coffees and long chats in the last weeks, our two kiddos have had a blast together, and we’ve so loved having them here. They’re leaving tomorrow to go home…and we’re really going to miss them. Like, the kind of missing where if I think about it too long, I’ll cry. Love you, sweet friend.

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I decided I needed a summer project so I built a picnic table. (Yes, you read that right.) πŸ˜‰ Other than minimal help from my hubby, this gorgeous, yellow-and-turquoise, work of art is mine. I love it…and I look forward to many, many coffees and talks happening here. It’s technically supposed to find a home in the side yard where anyone can sit down and enjoy it, but it’s been in our backyard since I finished it. It’s also become my sanctuary and my early morning happy place. And at least for now, I need it to be that way, and it’s right. (And, also, I pretty much finger painted that flower, and I think I love it.) πŸ˜‰

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I tacked on another year this past month, and I confessed to my husband that 37 feels so much older than 36. I know it’s really all mental, but wow. I’m three years away from 40. And also three years away from a celebration of epic proportions. Let the planning commence. πŸ˜‰

My sweet girlie heads to Kindergarten in exactly 18 days. I don’t know what to do with this, but I know the sight of her adorable little uniforms hanging in her closet about makes the dam burst. Good grief, how are we HERE? And she’s so excited so I’m cheering her on with all I have, but some days it’s not much. I just can’t believe it’s gone so fast.

And speaking of milestones, Tobin and I are celebrating 13 years on Monday. I know that in the grand scheme of life, 13 isn’t huge, but to me…to us…it feels like a place we weren’t always sure we’d see. This marriage thing is hard, and I’m pretty sure we’ve had more challenging days than easy ones. But I’m glad we stuck it out…and I’m truly looking forward to many more years with him. He’s smart, funny, an awesome daddy, takes care of us so well, and will do just about anything…however completely embarrassing and ridiculous…to make me smile. Blessed, we are. I think we’re kind of adorable, too. πŸ˜‰

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So here’s to celebrations and finding ways to squeeze out the last bits of summer. It’s been a good one…and I hope that for you, too. :)

Thanks for hanging around my space and for being here. Love and happy August all around!

Sig

Just Living

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This past Wednesday came and went.

All day, and for a few days before, I’d fought for words and thoughts and prayers, trying to find some way…any way…to put it all into something that made sense.

I felt obligated to mark the day with a blog post, and yet as the words didn’t come and didn’t come and didn’t come some more, I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

It bothered me all day long that, as a writer, I couldn’t find words.

You see, Wednesday was a year since July 22, 2014…the day we lost our sweet baby, Carly. And all I wanted her to know was that we think of her. We remember her. Every single day.

I’d only carried her for several, too-short weeks, and yet the loss was crushing. I remember lying on a bed in the ER, shivering under a blanket, wondering how we would ever go on, how there would ever be joy again.

To be honest, in the days and weeks that followed, there wasn’t a lot of much. I remember the moments of forcing myself to just do what came next, even if it was the most necessary thing like getting a drink of water for my daughter or taking a shower or making ourselves walk outside.

Trying to just live…it was harder than I’d ever expected it to be. But I kept doing the next thing. We all did because we had to.

And all of those next-things somehow added up…and we found ourselves at a year later. My hubby and I were talking about how it’s hard to pinpoint any particular event that happened this past year…it all feels like a crazy, sad blur and tangle of emotions and life.

It wasn’t where we wanted to be, and in many ways, I feel like it was a wasted year. But it wasn’t.

Life still went on.

Our sweet Mae went to PK4. She made new friends, had new experiences, learned so much, made some wonderful memories…and thrived.

As a couple and a family, we managed to walk grief...and even if there were some hard, hard days, we grew closer together instead of letting it tear us apart.

We said a hard goodbye to our sweet doggie boy, and we found ways to keep going after that, too.

We kept following Him, and though it was tempting to walk away sometimes, we chose to trust God and the plan He has for us even if we don’t see or understand any of it.

We found strength in community…in those who loved us well and were willing to laugh, cry, and sometimes…just be…with us.

We found ways to love and laugh and grieve and hope…and to let all of those happen at the same time because sometimes life just has to look like that. And we also decided that it’s ok when life does look like that.

And at the end of Wednesday, I looked back at my day and realized something.

I’d fought for words all day. In between the early morning Bible reading and trying-to-write at my picnic table, the coffee at that same table with a friend, lunch and a long, heart-chat (yep, at the table!) with another dear friend, in a meeting, in a stop at the store, in painting a huge flower on that table (more on that later…) in letting go of Carly’s birthday balloons at the river, in eating cupcakes and singing a sweet, sad, Happy Birthday

I’d been trying to write.

And, instead, I realized I’d been living. We’d been living.

Despite the pain, God is giving us the strength to live our lives…and live them well.

Maybe it sounds small, but I think just living…it might be the best way we can honor her. Remember her. And let her know that she’s still a part of us.

Happy first birthday in heaven, sweet Carly Kristine. We love you and we miss you so much.

Sig

Five Years Old!

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My Maelie,

I sat down to write this letter last night, and I couldn’t help but feel a little sad that it was your last night of being four. I gave you one more kiss on your forehead as you drifted to sleep, and I felt that pinch in my heart.

It’s going so, so fast and I guess I just wish I could hold you a little longer.Β 

Oh, you’ve been counting down to the big five years old for months, and I know you’re so excited. More than anything, we want to celebrate your big day with you.

Because YOU’RE FIVE!!! πŸ˜€

I see more glimpses each day of you growing up, becoming more independent and a little less needy for your mommy, but you still melt my heart when you climb into my lap for a cuddle and tell me you love me. I hope those moments never end.

I love you so much. So, so much. And I tell you that often and multiple times a day because I want you to know that it’s true. Every single day, more each day than the one before.

We’ve had a year. It’s hard to say it was a good year, but I don’t want to say it was a bad year, either.

It was still a precious year because I got to spend it with you, my beautiful daughter.

Our family has walked some hard days and weeks and months…and you walked it right along with us. You saw the tears and you cried some of your own, too. Your little heart and mind took time to process losing your little sister and knowing you would have to wait for heaven to play with her. The tears flowed the day you hugged Andre goodbye and we came home without him.

You’ve seen some hard days, and I wish those hadn’t been part of your four year-old life. They’re so much for a little one to handle, but you showed us just how strong you could be.

Your daddy and I…we found strength in the joy you brought to us. And we found lots of reasons to smile and laugh, too.

There were adventures and car trips and new places to explore. You loved riding the train and subway in New York and a visit to, possibly, the most famous toy store in the world. :) (Mommy liked that trip, too!)

We made new friends and played new games, and you flew through your second and final year of Preschool.

And…you came out a READER!

Goodness, my girl, you blow me away with how far you’ve come…and we’re just beginning the journey.

You’ve kept us laughing (and still do!) with your witty, intelligent, hilarious take on life. You never miss an opportunity to tell a good story which makes us think you might just be a writer someday like your mama. Or, who knows? You’re a lot like your daddy, too. It will be fun to see what God does and continues to do with you. Remember to always keep your heart open to Him…you are His child, and He has great plans for you!

It’s true that sometimes you and I, we have hard days.

But I also know that this has been the best five years of my life, these years of being your mommy. I wouldn’t trade a single moment of it for anything.

You are loved, you are beautiful, and the world is waiting for five year-old YOU!

Get out there and change it.

But, first, eat some cake and CELEBRATE! πŸ˜‰

I love you more than you will ever know…and God loves you EVEN MORE.

Happy 5th Birthday, my Maelie girl!

Love you forever,
Mommy

Sig

May Friday Favorites (+ a Giveaway!)

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Oh, goodness…is it really that time?

I mean, I love writing this post, but I’m also feeling slightly guilty that I’ve barely written anything in the last two months. Tell me to quit feeling all the guilt, k? And also, I’m sure I’ll make up for it with the word count.

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So we’re getting into summer around here, and it’s good. Parks, playing outside, ice cream, friends, making a summer bucket list. I love spending my days with this girl…the one who said tonight,Β Mommy, let’s take a selfie and make our glamorous faces! (At least one of us has it…) πŸ˜‰

I love her so much. Pinch me because I don’t know how I’m blessed enough to be her mama. But I am…and it’s a gift.

And with that little, cute tangent…here are the faves. A bit random this month and not quite as exciting, but keep reading. I feel like giving away one of my favorites today, so make sure you enter!

But read first. πŸ˜‰ So, let’s get to it.

Read

Well, I made up for my lack of reading in the past few months with this month.

I *think* I read five books and am reading two more right now, which might be a record for me. (As in, five GROWN-UP books. I may or may not read a lot of children’s books too.) πŸ˜‰

A few favorites:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Though it’s a classic, I’d read mixed reviews on it. There’s no real plot twist, and in a book of that length, that can start to feel mundane. I found myself caught up in Francie’s story, though, and the more I read, the more I wanted the story to just keep going. And when it ended, I was sad.

Miracle on Voodoo Mountain. I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy at Allume last fall, and I sat down to read it this week. Friends, I burned through this book in less than a day. I couldn’t believe how gripping Megan’s story (and, really, God’s story) is…and once I opened it, I couldn’t put it down. I recommend this one. It reminded me a lot of Kisses From Katie, which is another of my all-time favorites.

Northanger Abbey. I decided to work on my brain power and read some Jane Austen. πŸ˜‰ It’s been a Long. Time. since I’ve read anything like it…and I feel like this story took a bit to get going, but I’m liking it. Enough that I might actually read another of her books in the near future. :) (If you’re a Jane fan, please leave me your recommendations in the comments?)

Watch

Hands down, When Calls the Heart has been the winner this month. Jessica Turner recommended it on her blog one day about a month ago, and she didn’t have to twist my arm too much. I love dramas that take place in that time period, and as usual, this one sucked me in immediately. I’m slightly embarrassed at just how quickly I managed to get through the first season. (Psst…it’s available on Netflix streaming. For some of you, I think this might be the best news of your day.) πŸ˜‰ Golly, I love this show.

And that’s about it in the watching department, at least this month. Obviously, when I read more, I watch less.

Novel idea, huh? (Pun totally intended.) πŸ˜‰

Wear

Well, I finally jumped on the Fitbit bandwagon. I’m not necessarily the girl who wants the latest and greatest with everything, and I thought it over for a good, long, four months before ordering this one. I like that it makes me intentional about things like Getting. Off. My. Bum. and walking around more. It’s also very motivating for me to get up early, go for a run, and see my step total skyrocket.Β What can I say? I’m a slight dork.

Also, I tend to drink more water when I get the satisfaction of logging it. I don’t so much enjoy admitting to my dashboard that I ate too much cake when I have to log those calories, too, but hey. Baby steps, right? πŸ˜‰

Also, I’m pretty much addicted to all-things-maxi-dresses-and-skirts. I found this one, super-clearanced, at Maurices, and it’s one of my new favorites. I wore it on Mother’s Day, and aaahhh…it just makes me happy. :)

Also, still loving the earrings, but no new pairs to share that I can think of. I’m just having fun wearing the same ones over and over. Though I did let hubby know that I’m in love with these, and if he wants to buy them for my birthday, I’ll totally let him. πŸ˜‰

Listen

This whole album. Seriously. I’ve had it downloaded for several months and have even listened to it here and there, but just recently, it’s found its way to repeat on my playlist.

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Especially the song, You Make Me Brave. I could listen to it and sing it all day long. (Ahem. Sometimes I do?)

Anyway, I’m giving away a free download of the album.Β :)

To enter, just leave me a comment. Share some sunshine from your week or a current favorite. Or, really, just say hello. I’m not picky. :) (I’ll choose a winner on Monday morning and send an email with the details.)

And while you wait to see if you’ve won, have a listen. Love this song. :)

Happy weekend, friends!

(And I’m borrowing this idea from my sweet friend, Crystal. Make sure you hop over to her space to catch up on her favorites, too. She always has such a great list!) :)

Sig

Just Life on a Friday

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I know myself well enough to realize that when the blog has been quiet for too long, I just need to write.

Something.

Anything.

Well, not exactly anything…but at least sentences that tell a story or two.

The truth is that the last few weeks have been full of writing for myself…but not for anyone else. I think I intended to share more than I actually did (which would be No.Thing.) but life just got in the way, I guess.

But words felt necessary today…and so here are some. They’re random, but it’s been a random week, so I’m just gonna roll with it.

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My girl finished PK this week, and I honestly have no idea what to even do with it all.

I cried because who doesn’t cry when their sweet kiddo reaches a milestone? Plus, Kindergarten? How is she old enough for this???

And then the two of us went out for frappuccino minis, which really translated to I-needed-to-go-to-Target-for-shampoo; how-convenient-that-Starbucks-is-here-too. That kind of thing, you know?

And we smiled and laughed as we walked through the store, and I thought about how awesome it is to have such an amazing little girl to share my days with. (I just wish those days didn’t fly by quite so quickly.)

A few days ago, it was a gorgeous, sunny day. It was also 46 degrees, according to my iPhone. I didn’t really believe my phone because Mae and I were both outside in tank tops and we weren’t cold AT ALL. And also, my shoulders turned a shade of red that I don’t usually see until that day mid-July when I forget to reapply the sunblock.

Yeah, I got fried in May. IN. MAY.

And also I’m pretty sure the weather app was broken because No. One. Burns. In. 46. Degree. Weather. (Just let me be right here, ok?) πŸ˜‰

I am more than ready for warm weather to make an appearance for longer than a few days at a time.

And if that randomness doesn’t scare you off… πŸ˜‰

I spent three days eating red meat for every meal this week. (As in, to the point that it was becoming gross.) Before you start thinking that I have weird eating habits, let’s just say I wanted, in the worst way, to get my iron levels up so I could donate blood. Because, yeah, they stink, no matter how much steak I eat. You know it’s bad when I walk into the room and tell them to do the finger prick part before I sit through all the paperwork.

And also, I failed again. (My husband asked me if I was ready to give up yet. Never.)

And after my last few end-of-the-month blog posts…you know, the ones when I share all my favorites? Yeah, I decided I needed to read more books. So I’ve been reading a lot.

I laughed my way through Sophie Hudson’s A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet. I cracked open A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for the second time…I didn’t finish it the first, and I’m actually almost done with it. And then a few days ago, I finally opened Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up, and an hour later I looked up, and I was almost on page 100.

So I think it’s safe to say I’m doing just fine in the reading books department. And also, yay for expanding my reading horizons. I feel proud of myself. :)

And I’m also really looking forward to summer with my girl.Β 

We’ve got a whole summer, friends! It’s been fun to hear her talk about the things she wants to do. Parks, picnics, play dates, swimming, froyo, birthday celebrations…she’s an easy (and fun!) kid to please.

She’s not asking for the moon, though if she did, I’d probably try to find a way. πŸ˜‰

So I’m praying that God will give us an extra wonderful few months together…and also that He’ll redeem last summer.

It feels like we’ve lived a lifetime since last July. And, maybe in some ways, we have.

We’ve seen loss and walked grief. We’ve found joy on the other side of it…and days that still hurt and pinch in painful ways.

I suppose it might be how this life looks from here on out.

We’ve found ways to surrender dreams and keep walking with Him. And Trust.

That’s been the hardest part of it.

But in the midst, there’s been so much good. And He has been good.

The other day my girl was picking “all the pretty yellow flowers” in our yard, giving them to me one by one. And I thought about how God has been so good about giving us those pieces of tangible beauty despite the pain of the journey…a verse, a text, a prayer, a flower, a surprise coffee from a friend, sweet time with my hubby and girl, friends who have loved us so well.

We’re really blessed…even if there are days when it’s hard to see purpose.

And I hope this Friday morning finds you counting your blessings, too. Thanks for being here, even when I take huge, bloggy vacations. πŸ˜‰

Sig

Thinking of Her Today

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I’ve sort of been pounding this post out, over and over, in my head for quite some time. Except it’s changed every single time, and I’ve struggled to find the perfect words for it all.

So I’m just going to let go of the perfect and write.

I know that none of this is going to be wrapped up in a pretty package with a sparkly bow. Sometimes life just doesn’t look like that, even with a sparkle-lovin’ four year-old in the house.

But I’ll try.

Today is our due date for her.Β March 14, 2015. And while I know that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, I know it’s a date that is forever etched on the heart of this mama who carried her little one for much too short of a time.

Today, tomorrow…this weekend, this month, even this past year. It’s all been a hard sort of grief…the what-would-have-been kind that creates an aching hole and takes my breath away. It comes and goes and it usually comes at the most inconvenient times. (Like when I’m walking through a store or when I’m putting on my eye makeup or when I’m sitting in church with no tissues. Especially then and holy snot. Seriously. This should be a lesson learned.) πŸ˜‰

I don’t suppose I really expected these days to be easy. I mean, if things had gone the way I wanted, I’d be cuddling our sweet newborn right now instead of writing about how much I wish I was.

But today my jeans fit (well, mostly) and my sleep is less-interrupted and my arms are empty.

And there are many days when I fall into my Father’s arms and tell him what I’ve said (or tried to say) since it all happened…that it’s ok and that I’ll trust Him. But there are also days when it’s really hard to do that, and I still wonder. A lot.

Because this wasn’t my plan, and the longer and harder I think about an entire lifetime without our sweet Carly, the more painful the ache becomes.

I’ve tried to fill up life as much as possible lately. We went away last weekend and I’ve tried to stay busy this week. I’ve got plans with a friend and some time with my hubby and Mae today, friends coming over for dinner tomorrow night, and more friends visiting next week.

Life is still full and it’s still beautiful, but there are also days when the hole is so present…like today.

I’ve told myself that if I get through the weekend, I will have survived one of the hardest weeks of my life. I’m not a dummy…I know I won’t magically feel better the moment the sun is up on Monday morning, but there’s a piece of me that says I might find a little more hope.

I might. I even think I will.

But right now…well, my family is walking a hard, grief path. We’re breathing through it and finding smiles and even laughs…knowing that she’s in heaven smiling and laughing and probably chasing Andre. (Or, being chased by him.) πŸ˜‰

And I’ve been trying to find ways to honor her because that’s what we should do. The fact that we never held her on earth doesn’t mean she’s any less our daughter.

We hung a special print in our house, and I’ll tell you about it another day because I want to, but that story needs to wait.

I framed a quote to sit next to the stuffed lamb we bought for her, the one Maelie hugs every day and Oh. My. Heart. It breaks and it melts.

I bought some paper lanterns to let go, but I’m scared we’re going to set something on fire…so we’ll see if that one actually happens. πŸ˜‰

And we pray about her and ask God to hold her for us since we can’t be there to cuddle her and cover her with the millions of kisses she would have had.

And none of it feels perfect, but it feels right.

We’re honoring her the best we know how.

Today is my due date. Would you lift us up? This grief stuff…it’s hard.

But we also know our Father is holding us. And holding her, too.

And there’s peace in that…and the promise that one day we’ll hold her, too.

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Sig

February Friday Favorites

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The longer I write the more I realize how much I love random.

Often, my favorite posts come out when I plan absolutely nothing. I just sit down and dash off words…because that’s the best way for me to be me, exactly as I am. And that’s where I am today.

As I’ve started to write a few more words this year…and we’re getting there…I’m realizing how at home I am with my keyboard and my thoughts. And, of course, my coffee.

Can I just confess right now that we have exactly enough Indonesian coffee to make ONE MORE POT, and I’m heartbroken. I literally can’t bring myself to use it up. And so I sit here, drinking my random, donut shop blend. And it’s still ok, but it’s definitely no Aroma Kopi, which is the best there is. Ever. (Can we just go to Indonesia? Seriously, I’m headed back next year for a visit…I’d love to take a friend along!) :)

So I love Crystal‘s Friday Favorites linkup at the end of every month…just a chance to share some favorites. It’s fun, it’s one of my favorite ways to write and share, and so I’m jumping in and hanging out at her space today. I love it. :)

And now, I bring you some of the current faves.

And I’m sorry there’s no giveaway this month, but I AM giving away something completely awesome on God-sized Dreams in a few weeks, so keep your eyes open for that one. (You WON’T want to miss it!)

Read

I haven’t done much reading lately. I’ve bounced around several of my favorite blogs and caught up with some dear sisters. That’s probably been my favorite reading for the month. Here are two that spoke to me so deeply.

My friend, Gindi, was featured at Kristin Schell‘s blog this week. I completely adore her story of community and how God is weaving that into her heart and life. I’m also completely jealous that it is warm enough in Texas to have a turquoise table in her front yard, year-round. I have to wait until spring, but I’m hoping there will be one in my front yard soon, too! Gindi is one of my dear friends, and I hope you will stop by to read her beautiful words.

This post really got me. Hard. God has been working on a lot in my heart lately…I haven’t really talked about it here because there are times when there just isn’t a way to process it all. (I did just try to process it and just ended up with a tangle of words. So we’ll talk later.) :) But you should read it.

And maybe the most reading I’ve been doing lately has to do with my Bible. I’m really trying to be in the Word more. Oh, I fail sometimes. But the times I do spend there are so sweet. So precious. So needed.

Watch

I pulled out an old favorite series and shared it with Mae a week or so ago. I was completely impressed that she sat through two episodes and laughed at the funny parts. (And she also continues to talk about the time that Sara smeared a cherry pie in Felicity’s face. Ahem. I don’t think that was exactly the takeaway.) πŸ˜‰ I’m a bit of a goof, but I love older tv, the good stuff, when I know I don’t need to worry about what my daughter will see.

Also, anything remotely related to Anne of Green Gables always. wins. Always.

You can watch the first episode free here…which is all kinds of awesome. :)

Wear

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My favorite thing to wear right now, hands down, is my heart necklace. Since last summer, I’ve been looking for the perfect necklace…a sweet way to remember the babies we’ve lost and to honor our precious daughter. I looked everywhere and finally settled on this one from Etsy. It has Always Love stamped on the outside and Maelie’s name with the initials of our two little ones in heaven,Β I.M.Β andΒ C.K., on the inside along with a stamped dandelion and their three birthstones. The dandelion was part of the original design, and I thought it was the perfect hug from God since a dandelion was the image that came to my mind just days after we lost our sweet Carly.

I wear it every day, and I honestly can’t imagine a day when I won’t.

I’ve also been wearing more workout clothes. Two weeks ago, I just decided it was time. Time to eat better and work out more, and it’s good. It’s amazing how drastically reducing sugar (it helps that I gave up dessert for Lent) has also made meΒ want healthy food. Case in point? It’s 8:30 a.m. and I want grilled chicken and avocados. (No lie.)

Ok, that was random. πŸ˜‰

I also vowed that this month I would wear a pair of earrings. Um…I bought a pair and then chickened out of wearing them in public. I promise I will wear them this weekend. And, of course, I’ll document it for next month, too.

Listen

One of my favorite things is to have coffee with a friend…just to chat and listen and be. Not kidding, if I were given a choice of anything, that’s what I would choose to do with a free hour or two. (If I were given a day full of coffee dates for my birthday, I would completely be in heaven. Just fyi.) πŸ˜‰

I love this song, too…I’ve basically decided it’s the soundtrack of my season. I’m working on it in voice lessons…not sure I’ll ever do anything with it, but it’s beautiful. And a reminder I need every day. So have a listen and then download it at iTunes if you so want. (I may or may not play it on repeat often.) :)

And that brings us to the end of the favorites, at least for today.

What are some of your current faves?

Happy weekend to you all. Hugs. :)

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