Friday, November 30, 2012


So obviously I didn't make it through 30 days of thanks.  But I made it halfway and that counts for something, right?  I guess all I really wanted to do was to address the fact that I'm grateful for the life I have. Though it's sometimes upside down and sideways and far from perfect, I love my life.  Even when I'm exhausted and complaining, I can usually pull myself up by remembering that I am incredibly blessed.

I have a family that loves me and supports me.  They make me laugh and make me feel special.  They are my cheerleaders and the people who make me feel like I can actually achieve success on this crazy road I'm on. They are the people who listen when I'm sad.  They are the people who clap when I'm happy.  They are my family and I love them all dearly.

I have friends that never stop caring.  They watch my kids when I'm overbooked.  They bring me meals when I'm stressed.  They listen when I'm overwhelmed.  They carry me in prayer when I can't go on.  They are my support system when my family is away.  I need them more than they know.

I have three amazing kids.  They are beautiful and intelligent.  They take care of me even though I'm supposed to be the one taking care of them.  They are loving and compassionate.  My life is wrapped up in them.  Without them I don't know who I'd be.  They are my everything.  And everything I do is for them.  I was born to be their mother and it is my greatest privilege to watch them grow up.  With all I have in my life, it is them that I am most grateful for.  I love them more than I could ever express in words.  More than I ever thought humanly possible.

Thanksgiving.  It is necessary.  Because I have been given much.  And as I muddle through this life I've been given, it's important to stop and remember that.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Day

 Lazy pajama morning

Big kids participating in tradition

Little kids being entertained by big kids

Baby kisses

Southern feasting

Porch swing quiet and lots of laughter

Sibling bonding and mama hugs

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gifts Unexpected

Even though our family is not whole most of the year, I am thankful that we have managed to come together on holidays to celebrate as a family.  Even if it means celebrating Thanksgiving a few days early.  Or answering other people's "Isn't it awkward...?"  questions about being together on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  I'm thankful that we don't find it awkward.

I'm thankful that my childrens' father knows me well enough to know how much holiday time means to me.  He knows how much I need this holiday time with these three we made.  He knows I need it down deep in the very essence of me.  It's who I am.  I'm thankful that he acknowledges that part of me by letting me be with my children on those days, often sacrificing his own time with them. (He doesn't have to do that, but he does it anyway.)  I'm thankful for Skype and Facetime that allows us to be "together" even on those days.

I'm thankful that even through our hurt and loss, we can come together for our children to show love and kindness and grace. And after all isn't that what this time of year is about?

I'm thankful for a time of year that allows us to put aside all of the other life stuff and focus on what really matters.  Family.  And I'm thankful for the countless other times throughout the year when I realize that even though our situation is far from ideal, I know (from looking at others in similar situations) that it could be so much worse.  Despite our own weaknesses, we are trying our best to make sure that the kids are raised well.  And I'm thankful for God's grace to cover the rest.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Gifts Hard Eucharisteo

There are some things in life that seem too awful to be thankful for.  To really look at your life and be thankful for where you've come from can some times seem ridiculous.  It's much easier to look forward in the light of harsh life realities.  To be thankful for the moving on.  Why be thankful for hurtfulness?  Why give credit to the pain?  We're told to be thankful in everything, yes, but I think there is something deeper to being thankful for the hard times.  Looking at those times and seeing how it's made you who you are frees you from the baggage of it, in a way.  It's not that it won't always be with you, or that you won't feel the pain of it anymore.  But thankfulness frees you from the bitterness.  And so with that in mind I write this letter.  Some of you aren't going to like it.  But that's alright.  It's honest and its where I am.

To the one who couldn't love me,

I use to lie awake at night and listen to cars go by.  I would wait for one to pull into our driveway thinking you had changed your mind and come home.  

On those sleepless nights I would replay all of the things I would have done differently.  All of the ways I would have been better.  All of the things I would have said or done to be enough for you.  

I'd hold my breath and wish you back.  

I would have taken you back.  I shouldn't have, but I would have.

And for a time I cried, and sank, and was convinced that this was all my fault.  

Until I realized that it wasn't.    And then I got angry.  Angry with you for leaving.  Angry with myself for loving you, the one who couldn't love me.

Now, I'm not crying, but neither am I angry.  You're now just a part of my story.  A past part that I'm through writing.  Except to say this.  

I'm thankful that you left.  

In your leaving I was able to stop trying to be who I thought you needed me to be and to start discovering who I was meant to be.   In the years since you've left, I have become more confident in who I am than I ever was with you.  I have begun to open doors that I thought were forever closed to me, doors that I had convinced myself I was alright with never opening.  By leaving, you prompted growth in me.  Growth that I didn't even know that I needed.

I thought being your wife was enough.  And yet you made me feel like I was never enough.   

Without you, I have become a better mother, friend, and woman.  I'm thankful for who I'm becoming without you.  

Ironically, I think you would have liked this woman.  

We got married too young.  We both know that.  We were kids who didn't know who we would become as adults.  But I knew you were a work in progress that was far from perfect.  That our relationship was a work in progress.   You should have granted me the same. 

Though, if you had, maybe we'd still be where we are.  Maybe I'm not who you ever wanted.  Maybe who I would never have been enough.  We can't know these things.  We're left with the choices that were made.  In light of those choices, I know that  I needed this time.  Time to cry.  Time to be angry.  Time to grow.  Without you.

The End.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Three Gifts Silent

Silence in the voice of God.

Silence in the rainfall.

Silence in a late autumn fire surrounded by quiet, as we all stare into the dancing flames.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Three Gifts Behind A Door

I turn off the car and wait for a minute before I get out.  I'm tired and stressed, and my bag is heavy with books and too much to do.  I carry this weight to the mailbox where I find bills that I can't pay.  Then I make my way to the door, unlock it, and step inside.  Some days I look around at the chaos and want to walk right back out of the door.  But most days I close the door and lean heavy against it as I take in the warmth that is home.  Yes, there are back packs on the floor and dishes in the sink.  And three crazy sprites usually attack me, who always want to talk all at once.   They have papers to sign and homework to do and they're always, always, hungry.  I breathe in the mom chaos as it greets me.  It's what I  live for. So I drop my bags and begin to sort through the beautiful mess that I find behind the door.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gifts of Remembrance

I'm the kind of girl who leaves little things around the house to purposefully remind myself of the people I love.  I purposefully leave small tokens in dishes and on shelves, in boxes and in books.  Like the little beaded elephant in my vanity drawer that my sister brought back for me from India.  Or my dad's Bible sitting beside my desk.  My other sister sent me owl earrings once when I was feeling blue.  I lost one of them, but I keep the other one in my jewelry box.  When I see it I think of her.  I keep a blue rock beside my bed that Analiese gave me.  I have a chain link on my key ring that I got from a small group leader in high school that reminds me that I'm linked to God.  I have a note from my mom in Psalms, a note from a friend in Matthews, and a picture that Chris drew when he was very little can be found in Genesis.  Fragments of Sicily are all over the house in the small treasures that she brings me on a weekly basis.  And I never remove old pictures of my kids when I put new ones in the frames.  That way I watch them grow each time I add a current picture.  

I am a collector of remembrance.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Three Gifts Found in the Bible


"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."
-Ephesians 2:8


"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."  -Jeremiah 29:11


"Faith is being sure of what we hope for, and certain of what we do not see." -Hebrews 11:1

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Three Gifts From My Window

Cold, late autumn rain falling beside red and yellow leaves in the big, backyard where the carefree play of childhood is spilled out in fairy stories and football tosses.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Three Gifts Government

I am thankful for the right to walk along paved paths that wind through small city parks and the freedom to throw my head back to curse loudly at the sky before I fall to my knees in prayer.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Three Gifts Acorn Small

Acorns fall in bunches, so instead of three I give you thirty.  Thirty acorn small baby toes on three beautiful baby girls who happen to be my lovely little nieces.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Gift Gathered, A Gift Given, A Gift Good

strawberries, blueberries, apples, and pumpkins,
 all gathered with the givers of
small blue rocks, a giant red leaf, and notes scrawled with hearts;
 with dirt under their fingernails and marker stains on their shirt sleeves, 
they are leaf pile jumpers and big mess makers
and sprites, the whole lot;
and good, oh so good, with lovely hearts that show big love.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Three Gifts That Start With N

Nautical dreams with ships that sail calm seas, swaying peacefully under

Night skies lit by a full, luminous moon and stars upon which a

 Namesake boy makes wishes, looking so much like my father

Friday, November 2, 2012

Three Gifts Worn

Most of my wardrobe comes from my sisters.  Pieces that they don't want, I like to pick up.   Something a little worn doesn't bother me because I love layering.  It's one of the reasons I love cooler months.  An old green dress that used to belong to my sister layered with a brown cardigan that I got from a friend and an over-sized brown scarf that my mom brought back for me from a trip to Europe.  Add my ridiculously cheap tall brown boots and voila, a lovely autumn outfit.  This really is my absolute favorite outfit right now.  Or some take on it that also involves a gifted dress, cardigan, and scarf.

I hope you noted the theme there.  I don't buy clothes.  Not often anyway.  If I do buy clothes it's from the super marked down clearance aisle.  (Jeans are my exception to this rule.  I do pay a little more for a good pair of jeans that fit really well.  But I justify it by wearing the life out of them.)  It's not that I don't like shopping for new clothes.  What girl doesn't?  It's just that I can't.  We live on a strict budget that doesn't allow for a lot of new clothes.  We live on thrift finds and hand me downs.  I'm alright with that.  We aren't running around with holes in our clothes or summer clothes in the winter.  (Unless of course we choose to wear holes in our clothes or summer clothes in winter.  Some days we like to go Abercrombie.)  My children have warm coats and shoes that fit. Our wardrobes are full of nice clothes that fit current styles.  The clothes threaten to spill from the chest of drawers some days.   All of this means even more as we start to move into the winter months because I know that there are other children, who live in the same financial situation that we do, who don't have warm coats or shoes that fit.   We are blessed.  Like the food yesterday, we are well provided for.  We always have been.  That's not something that I take for granted.

"why are you anxious about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these...Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'what shall we eat?' or 'what shall we drink?' or 'what shall we wear?'...your heavenly Father knows that you need them all."  - Matthew 6:28-32

We have everything we need.  Even in times when the bank account is in the negative, we always have food, shelter, and clothing.  Every time I say that I'm reminded on this one time, right after the middle sprite was born, when Steven was looking for a job but couldn't find one.  We had a three year old, a newborn, and no income.  It was a desperate time.  But then the gift cards started coming in.  We started getting late baby gifts in the mail containing Wal-Mart gift cards.  It was always enough to buy groceries and diapers for a couple of weeks.  And just as one card ran out, another would come in the mail.  This continued until Steven got a job.  Then the gift cards stopped.  The other day I got a gift card in the mail.  It came right after I had paid bills and realized we were going to finish the month close to zero.  Like I said, we are well provided for.

 We may not have much but we have enough.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thirty Days of Thankful

Every year all of my favorite bloggers and websites issue challenges to list thankfulness.  You've seen them.  They're usually called something like "thirty days of thanks".  It is, after all, the month of Thanksgiving.  So it seems appropriate that we should get into the spirit of things.   (Which, by the way, is to be thankful and not to just stuff our face with turkey and cranberry sauce, in case you were wondering.)  Yes, each year I see these challenges and I think to myself, what a wonderful idea, but it's just one more thing to commit to and what if I fail at it in some way?  What if I forget a day?  What if I can't think of something one day and I realize just how shallow and discontent I am?  What if you realize how shallow and discontent I am?  Well, so what if all of those things happen?  Isn't that the point; to realize that we are ungrateful for our very blessed lives and grow in a spirit of gratitude?

I think I'm at a place in my life where I need to do this.  I need to record just how lucky I am to live the life that I do.  I'm in this place somewhere between where I was and where I want to be.  This place is rife with discontentment and frustration.  Not to mention, it's exhausting to travel from point A to point B.  I'm working  as hard as I can, but some days I feel like a hamster on wheel, going nowhere fast.  I have to stop and remind myself that what I'm doing is good work.  It has a purpose.  I'm where I need to be for this moment.  And here in this place is a whole lot to be thankful for.

So here I am.  Committing to thirty days of thanks.  Actually I've decided to participate in The Joy Dare from A Holy Experience.   Ann makes it easy for those of us who are new to making lists of thanks.  She refers to the blessings in our lives as gifts.  I like that.  Life is a gift and all that fills our lives are gifts.  We aren't guaranteed any of it.   I believe it's transforming to think in those terms.  A gift is something to be cherished.  For that reason, that of transforming my mind (and heart), each day I will list three gifts that I'm thankful for, according to the Joy Dare categories.  Seems easy enough.  Of course, I say that now, on day one.  You'll have to forgive me if I miss a day or two or three.  I'm trying.  It's not about perfection but rather process.

On this first day of November we are to list three gifts eaten.   This was hard.  Not because I couldn't think of anything but because  I could think of far too much.  But here is what I've narrowed it down to.

  • Bechamel Sauce.  I made a lovely bechamel tonight.   This is no small thing.  I have been trying, and failing, to make a decent bechamel for years.  I know, it's suppose to be easy, but I mess it up in some way every single time.  Tonight, though, it turned out just right.   I needed that success today.  I also needed the family dinner time that followed.  I sat at the table listening to my children share stories of their day and knew that there was no other place I'd rather be.  Just me, my sprites, and a warm pasta in a lovely bechamel sauce.  As busy as our lives are, family dinners are still a priority.  It centers us and brings us together, if only for twenty minutes.  I need that time and so do they. 
  • Steak, potatoes, and eggs.  I have this dear friend who was recently given over 90 eggs from a local farmer friend.  That's a lot of eggs.  So she shared.  This same friend also happens to be from Idaho.  On a recent trip home, she dug up bags and bags of potatoes.  So she shared.  My mama was in town recently and stocked my freezer with steak (and my fridge and pantry with treats as well).  Can you say steak and eggs, steak and potatoes,  eggs and hash browns...I can keep going, but I think you get the idea.  I'm thankful for friends and family who take care of us by feeding us well.
  • Jelly and Jam.  In my pantry I have jars of my grandma's grape jelly.  The boy won't eat any other kind.  Every year she says that it's her last year to make jelly.  "It's too much work," she says.  But each year she makes more.  We're very glad she does.  The same friend mentioned above gave me some of her mama's jelly.  It's raspberry and blackberry jelly.  It's delicious.  In my pantry I have blueberry jam that I made and canned with a friend.  Just looking at the jar reminds me of a good time full of laughter and sharing.  I also have strawberry jam made from strawberries that my children helped me pick.  All of these jars represent the tradition of women who preserve the harvest and pour themselves into making good things to eat for their family and friends.  I love everything about that.  I'm thankful for all of these women, for tradition, for homemaking, nurturing, and delicious jars of sweet jams and jellies that represent all of these things.