entertainment, family, gratitude, journey, list, marriage, self care

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

I am in love, (of the head over heels variety) with the blossoms on our trees. It is like Michigan woke up one morning and realized it had forgotten to dress in its spring apparel. I know, by now, that there is no “this time of year” sentiment rooted in fact, here in the mitten state. The weather is never the same. Even here, in the just-over-half-way point of May, a huge snow storm could fall on us at any point in time. I know the drill.

Sadly the blossoms are blowing off as quickly as they came. I feel the need to stomp my foot and ask God if the beauty  really has to be so fleeting… Then this might be when God smiles lovingly and points out the huge pimple on my jaw line and I sigh. (imaginary conversations are my specialty)

This week I’ve been lucky to love quite a few things. Some old, some new, and I am super excited to share those things with you…

  • This website is really time-consuming, but super moving. I am a big “fan” (the word seems almost inappropriate) of things which stretch the boundaries of my empathy and ability to relate to others. This is very much one of those things. (Another was this book… And if you happen to be pretty conservative and fear it will be like the Netflix series, I assure you, it is not.)
  • I think the husband & I feel like we watch a fair amount of shows on TV, but in comparison to the national average, we watch a lot less. That being said, I have to be honest and say that I am really glad the few shows I enjoy on regular TV are wrapping up for the season. For the most part, each time I watch a season finale, I find myself grateful.
  • Yellow Box Flip Flops are my life, in the summer. Truth be told, I dream of living somewhere where I can be in them all year long. Their soles just offer so much support. BEST. SHOES. EVER…
  • This sort of thing either annoys you, or your entire day will be made and you just might love me forever. Either way, this is my special weekend gift for you. You’re welcome…
  • I get it, it looks weird. I also get it, Wes Anderson movies are quirky… But seriously, if you like dogs AT ALL, you need to see this film. I knew I would love it, the issue was finding someone to see it with me. And finally, my husband reluctantly went, and really enjoyed it.

I have a really big week, coming up. There are a lot of stressful things, and some really exciting ones… I could use (and will take) all of the positive thoughts/energy/prayers you’re willing to share!

I’m not going to lie though, i am really excited for this… I wish I cared about the actual event, but I just don’t. I enjoyed the last one. My daughters and I made a big party out of it, and it was really fun/special. This time around though, I just have to admit: Will Ferrell makes everything better.

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books, entertainment, gratitude, home, journey, list

A hodgepodge dabble…

From this Side of the Pond
I decided to dabble in a little something new, so today I am participating in a fun little Wednesday thing, over here… Basically, 6 questions are asked, and I’ll answer. Pretty easy, right?

1. What would you say is your biggest day to day challenge?

time management is easily my biggest day-to-day challenge. I have truly important (and sometimes admirable) to-do lists, where everything really matters, to some degree… But I struggle most often with managing the time and not losing myself in the tasks. Often what gets cut is my writing time…

2. May 16th is National Biographers Day. What’s a biography you really enjoyed reading? Is this a genre you read regularly?

While it isn’t actually a biography, anyone who reads here or listens to the podcast must be so sick of hearing about this, but I am full-on OBSESSED with Chrissy Metz autobiography/memoir. OBSESSED. (I have also enjoyed biographies written about Zelda Fitzgerald quite a bit!) I love memoirs, personal essay collections and really solid literary novels.

3. How important is keeping a clean house? Do you need to de-clutter your life?

I have a “lived in” home, but it stays pretty clean and organized, for the most part. I have a couple of seasons a year where I’ll do a big declutter, but do honestly try to stay on top of it because I firmly believe that only surround myself with things I either love or need is the best way to a quality and peace filled life.

4. You’re the 8th dwarf. What’s your name?

Ha! Snarky… (but only if I’m super close and comfortable with the 7 others.)

5. What’s surprised you the most about your life or life in general?

I think being able to look back and see direct trails (like connect-the-dots) leading from one bit to the next. Also, that, at 42, I still feel like that 22-year-old in my head. I don’t have it together, I’m not much wiser than then, I still have dreams and discover new passions. At 22, I always thought by now I’d be wise and stable, so mature in my brain, but I am just not…

This came about in a conversation with my husband, over the weekend. He, soft voiced and hesitant, confessed this very thing, and I had to laugh as reassuringly as possible. I wonder what it is that makes us believe we won’t still be us in 20-30 years? It gives me an all new perspective on my grandparents, before they passed, and on the elderly people I interact with regularly at my mother’s memory care facility.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Sometimes I watch the Great British Bake-off and I’m blown away by so many elements of it. I think about how it’s probably the wisest and best “entertainment” to help us become better people… Other times, I watch it and while I love it, I admit that I had NO CLUE what I was thinking…

You asked for random.

I’m also wondering how one goes about getting a summer intern. I’m also unable to think about little beyond if I am going to be moving soon. I want to move. I totally DO NOT want to move. Adulthood is complicated, no?

(also… Don’t forget to read my CRAZY little story, and then enter to win a $50 Target gift card!)

entertainment, family, friendship, gratitude, journey

Beyond the Sun…

When I was young, I really enjoyed the element of the hidden adventure in every thing. As I grew older I figured that it must have been the only child, from a neglected home, in me. I sailed right on past the imaginary friend phase and found so many things to dream about and explore. While my second home seemed to be the large shed which sat behind my grandmother’s house- that building which magically morphed from flower shop, to dream house, from raging night club to five-star restaurant- the majority of the adventures found within that shed seemed to happen only in my imagination. My absolute favorite place, when I was a small girl, was forbidden. There was an abandoned lot about a block away from my house, covered from corner to corner with junk. There was an old plaid couch, a rusted out vintage stove, dressers, broken glass, wheel spokes, barbed-wire-wrapped posts, and so many things that i just can’t remember it all, these decades later. Whenever we’d pass by, in our car, I would stare longingly out my window. The potential adventure disguised as garbage called to me. Whenever I knew that I could ride my bike to that abandoned lot and play, without anyone noticing I was gone, that was what I would live for. Often unable to think of anything else, my every day-dream took place within the magical mess of that piece of land.

After months of making my way through the seemingly endless junk, I concluded that should things at home continue to not go well, I could always move onto the lot. No one else seemed to want it, and I felt inspired and alive there. I had found an old hard shell overnight bag, on my lot, and took it home. After cleaning it up, I began packing it with the things I both seemed to treasure, and felt would be practical choices, for the big move. As my timeline grew closer, I became more and more upbeat and excited. I had shifted bits of furniture around to make the area more liveable and made sure the old stove was cook ready (you know, top clear, oven emptied out of spider webs, etc,) even though I hadn’t ever really cooked anything on a stove before*. I had poured hours and hours of time into creating the perfect home where I could just do my thing, and I would not be my mom’s problem anymore… (*no, no the stove was not hooked up to any form of electricity, nor was there any way to do so, on this empty lot. I apparently was too young to realize this little hiccup to my plan.)

One Saturday my mother stumbled upon the hard-shell case which held all of my valuable possessions and she was pretty surprised to learn about my plan. She slowly unpacked each of my little plastic circus and farm animals, and my well-over twenty pairs of socks. I was not ashamed of my plan, so it didn’t require much effort on her part to get me to confess. For all of five minutes, after listening to me talk up this magical world which sat just over a block away, she even went over to the lot with me to look at my new home. This is the very first time that I ever remember my mother being absolutely honest with me. She wasn’t mean or manipulative- she simply told me the truth…

The truth was that, while she could see how fun it might all seem, our southern New Mexico location meant that it wasn’t safe to even set foot near all of that junk, for a lot of reasons. We walked home, me deflated and her on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Once we were safely inside she phoned our friend across the street to go over and inspect it a little bit better. Imagine my absolute horror when a small rattlesnake den was discovered underneath that (must have been so disgusting) couch, the one that I had sprawled out on, to test its sleepability for my new life. That very same couch I had jumped up and down on, in complete rebellion, because this was my place and I could do what I wanted. (What must the neighbors have thought, seeing me out there, like a fool? What must the snakes have thought? And how had that sun-bleached couch held the force of my jumping, without ripping, sending me straight down to the home of my skin-shedding neighbors below? So many questions…)

As a mom, I encouraged imaginative play and adventure. Even now, as an adult woman, I still value adventure. I did encourage caution with play and exploration, educating on common sense things to look out for. Empowerment and Education are everything…

And I am still super leery of what I now realize could be obvious snake abodes.

(As a mother, I also look back on that time with absolute horror. How I did not die there, in that desert, I am unsure.)

I am really excited to partner with Grace Hill Media to talk about the film Beyond the Sun! You can see the trailer here. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Beyond The Sun is a heartwarming family film  that is releasing this week.  Distributed by AMBI Distribution, BEYOND THE SUN, is a modern-day tale of hope, faith and courage based on stories from the Bible. This delightful family movie chronicles the adventures of four young friends in search of God.

 The film features a very rare special appearance by Pope Francis.  In support of the film, AMBI Media Group is holding a special contest where one lucky winner will win an Exclusive Private Tour of the Vatican and Front Row Tickets to an Audience with The Pope For Four! 

For anyone who has ever wanted to visit Italy and The Vatican, this is your chance!  For additional details about the contest and to enter, please go to:

www.freetriptorome.com.

 BEYOND THE SUN will be available for purchase across multiple platforms including iTunes, Amazon, and TUGG on May 15th.

In addition to the contest, I am giving away a $50 gift card to Target, for one lucky reader! To enter, simply leave a comment telling of a childhood adventure you once had. Deadline for entry is 11:59p.m. 5/16/18

Good luck!

books, entertainment, family, food, friendship, gratitude, journey, list, marriage

It’s Friday, I’m in love…

This was one of those weeks where the good things were really good, and the less than great things were pretty low. As I’m typing this I am on a post recording high, from an episode very near and dear to me. Every single time I sit down to do an episode, it feels like the world opens up a bit wider and it somehow makes a little more sense. It is almost as though there are these full circle moments coming into clear focus, and leaving me in awe. In and of itself, the show is a very technically flawed free app. Beneath that though, where the gooey, glorious heart of it lives, there is something so much bigger than anything I could orchestrate and I am so grateful to be a part of it. This show is a humble little blip in the deep and ravenous sea of podcasters, sponsors and expense sheets. We are an every growing community of women, filled with a fire to make something better simply by being real and supporting one another. It is so odd to think, but that really does make the world better for someone.

If I am never a part of anything else, I think this podcast will never stop being my favorite.

Beyond that, it was a week which included cupcakes, coffee & sharing with women, family dinners, sunshine, pulling the summer clothes out of storage, packing the winter ones away, so much criticism, breaking pointes/boundaries, changes, possibilities, acceptance, so much tension dissipating into true peace and some of the most raw and transparent conversations i’ve had in ages… This blissful Thursday night/Friday morning finds me filled with gratitude and trust.

Beyond that:

  • Boise Boys. If you haven’t watched this, you should. It likely won’t evoke longings for home, like it does for us, but it is honestly just so fascinating. We don’t know either one of them, but we have about a thousand personal/real-life connections to Luke Caldwell, so we practically know him. Right?!?!
  • Goat Milk lotion. Have you used it? I am a constant hand cream user, and the problem isn’t the cream but it’s my skin. Super thirsty, I guess. Anyway, we were out of town on Sunday and I found a sample bottle of this soft scented goat milk lotion on a shop counter. I put a small dab on my hands and probably didn’t use lotion again until Monday. It was amazing and now, now I must acquire some. (note: adding to list of reasons why I need goats in my life.)
  • On Saturday I made Blackberry Cobbler. I totally want to claim that I made it for my cousin, and I really want to claim it is because I am so thoughtful and remembered that it was her favorite and that my grandmother always used to make it for her. Truth is, I didn’t remember that… (At least not consciously) also, I have never made blackberry cobbler before. My grandmother’s peach cobbler has been a stable in our summers, forever, but blackberry has never crossed my mind. Then I made it, and it was heaven. This summer we will not have cobbler- this summer will become the Summer of Cobbler. You’ll see…
  • The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society Trailer. It appears that Netflix will have it in August and honestly, I cannot wait. I loved this book and am loving the trailer so much. (PLUS it’s like a Downton reunion!)
  • I have developed this odd little bad habit of setting beverages on the back of my couch. Where we are currently living happens to be the very first living room where my couch is flush against a wall. I eventually began to utilize the very convenient “shelf” that is the its back. It’s not a big deal really, no spills… But, my swell bottle and coffee cups sometimes scuff the paint on the wall. There have been times my husband has come home from a business trip to a few forgotten (empty) coke zero cans planted there. My husband found a few pieces of reclaimed wood and he put together a humble little “sofa table”. We didn’t need much, basically just a holder for Misty’s pluthera of beverages. (#drymouth) It was the sweetest thing and I LOVE it. As if the gesture wasn’t sweet enough, he also built an outlet, complete with USB plugs, right into it. Seriously, this guy is the coolest…
adoption, entertainment, family, gratitude, infertility, journey, marriage

When two young, married kids learned the hard way that starting a family wasn’t an automatic given, life turned harder than either of them had imagined possible. Through miscarriage, bouts of infertility and a traumatically failed foster care adoption, hope became this certain thing they each believed did not belong to them…

Anyone who knows me, or us, knows that this is our story. This is also the story of so many other couples. Maybe a few details would be different but the key elements- the vital heartbreak and hopelessness- that is the same… It was that journey, the one which felt the length of centuries, but was really only the length of seven years, which set the stage for our actual parenthood. When the foster babies we’d believed were the answer to so many Please, God, give us a family prayers were taken, my husband emphatically and protectively decided that enough was enough. He was done, we were done. No more hopes mutilated, no more trying to have faith that my achingly empty arms would soon be full… No more.

And so, fast forward about five years. We had very hesitantly signed with an adoption agency. It was all an awkward and cautious dance, really… Within ourselves, with those around us, with dreams and ideas, prayers, and especially with each other. It is often talked about how the loss of a child is seldom something a marriage survives and I am here to say that infertility treats a marriage the very same way. There are just genetic ways that women tend to process, cope and grieve which often seem foreign to a man. This is also true from men to women.Those times when a couple need to draw together, often leads to them pulling far apart. Immersing ourselves back into the family journey, no matter how delicately we tiptoed, was a terrifying attempt. We were each so jaded and scarred from the time before. Just as we were both settling in to that same-page way of things, and trying to move towards whatever path this adoptive journey led us- a call comes asking us to consider taking a four-year old little girl. She’s unsafe for other young children to be around. She’s been hurt. She’s aggressive and reactive. She’s coming from every imaginable trauma. Please, please take her. Now.

The past bites us viciously when we least expect it. Carnal instincts are there, within us, no matter how hard we suppress them. When you unite a mother with a child who is a viciously shattered, wounded little bird- something happens. I never knew how protective I could be. Would be…

Our adoption of that little girl took far too long. With every investment of thousands of dollars, the path would only lead to an unscalable brick wall, closed-door and the urgings of another avenue followed by double the dollar signs. She was four when she came home to us, and thirteen when a judge finally made us a legal family. For nine years we were bled dry, gave birth to debt and lived in a constant state of fear. Hope sometimes speckled our lifelines, but mostly we waited for the big-bad-whatever to ruin everything we were fighting for. With each closed-door, we would have the talk…

What if it doesn’t work out. What if someone takes her. What if we never get to adopt her. What if? What if? What if? The seeds which had been planted when those twin foster babies were taken, as I lay a mangled mess of salty tears and agony on the floor bloomed, and they bloomed vibrantly. We’d flee. We’d run. We would protect her at all cost, no matter what came her way. We’d face prison. We’d find the money and hire someone to make sure no one from those who had hurt her would ever have the chance again.

There were a lot of frustrations. There were season upon season of sleepless nights. There were a lot of Oh gosh, it’s happening- this is it, type scares. I grew far too familiar with the feeling of blood running cold. I grew far too comfortable with the idea of doing what I “had to”, even if what I had to might be wrong. My ethical compass, typically solid, grew blurred when it came to our little girl.

Thankfully, I never actually had to make the decision. Even now, years later, when I look back I realize I have absolutely no idea if I really could have gone to such extents… What I am certain of is that I gave up everything and devoted my life to give her love and keep her safe. I also know that there is no way I could have made it through even a month of that journey, much less nearly a decade, without a solid faith. God has never promised me that he’d hand over anything and everything I asked for, but what He has given me is a peace when peace seems impossible, and a quiet security and strength when the world around me raged in uncontrollable stormy chaos.

I shared this story as an experience about a relevant time, in my life, when I struggled with my moral boundaries and what I knew was right or wrong, for me. This post is in partnership with the film Wraith from writer-director Michael O. Sajbel (One Night With the King).

Wraith (rāth) noun: a ghost or ghostlike image of someone, especially one seen
after, or shortly before, their death
Something’s very wrong in the Lukens’ house. After living uneventfully for years in their historic home, the Lukens family have
somehow awakened a ghostly presence. Who is this frightening spirit and why won’t leave their 14 year-old daughter, Lucy, alone? Everything changed when Dennis and Katie Lukens discovered they were pregnant
again. Expecting in your 40’s is always high-risk and dangerous, so when the Lukens
decide all options are on the table – including termination – the unexpected starts to
happen. Sinister forces are now conspiring against the family. But is this eerie,
wraith-like spirit actually trying to haunt them…or help them?
Wraith is available on all VOD platforms and Blu-ray/DVD May 8