New Years, Christmas and Everything in the Middle

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It was here and now it’s gone!  Well, almost gone.  I am talking about 2015.

I mean it’s only December 31st, and for procrastinators like me, that is plenty of time!  Time to evaluate the past year, finish up on resolutions (it’s completely possible to finish those books I resolved to read in the next 10hrs), and work on goals for the next year.  I have plenty of time.  In fact, I think I am going to finish the laundry and write on my blog, before I check these things off my list!  Like I said, I have plenty of time

Let the cycle of procrastination begin!

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The older I get, the more conscience I am of the slippage of time.  I am sure everyone feels this way and I’m just late to the party, but I can’t help but feel this was the fastest year I have lived through.  And even though it’s exactly the same amount of time as the last year, it still seems faster than the year before.  Does this make me less of a procrastinator?  NO.  Does this make me feel like a sentimental, weepy fool?  YES.  One hundred times; YES!

I have written to death the fact that my kiddos are now pretty much teenagers, and about how much I miss them being babies/toddlers.   Really, I miss anything but teenagers (people say that someday I will miss this stage too…but, My Lord in Heaven, I KNOW it will not be anytime soon).

Some people are teen whisperers.  Teenagers are their jam!  They love this stage.  They are able to somehow communicate intelligently with these little hormonal monsters!  It’s like their soul purpose was to parent teenagers.  I am not this person!  I know I don’t have a choice in the matter because all babies turn into teenagers, but I feel like I am fumbling my way through these years.  Left wishing for the years when I felt like somewhat of an expert to be back.

The other day, my oldest was in the depths of despair because he was the only one without a specific XBOX game.  Now, please recall that Christmas was only a week ago and he received, what can only be described as a “crap load” of gifts!  Ranging from clothes, shoes, a portable speaker and a variety of many other things; he did all right when it came to receiving end of Christmas.

But, he didn’t get this particular game.

Now, I knew he was going to get it.  We had spoken to the grandparents and conveyed to them how much he wanted it.  He was getting the game.  He just had to wait until we were able to see them.

I could see the way this little disappointment was working it’s way through his teenage mind.  He really is s a good kid, so he was more than grateful for everything he had gotten. But, it was still in the back of his mind that he hadn’t gotten what he really wanted.  It was very interesting to watch this play out in his mind and actions.

It started with lots of thank-yous.  Then it went to wishfulness (you know, “thank you but I wish I would have gotten this game too” kinda thing).  Then maybe someone had gotten it for him and he just hadn’t received it yet.  It moved on to that maybe he could do some chores around the house to earn the money to buy the game.  Then there was regret for spending his last paycheck on something other than the game.  Then would I buy it for him and he would work it off.  Then it was, you know “I really deserved to get this game but, I didn’t and I got a lot of other things I like, so I guess it’s okay.”

Then, the ugly teenager hormones began to rear their ugly head and took over my sweet child’s mind and heart

He deserved the game.  Everyone else had it, he shouldn’t have to wait and see if he got it.  We should just buy it for him.  He would work it off; better yet, we should just buy it for him because he was a good kid.  Finally (the best one yet), IT WASN’T FAIR!  He was being left out and didn’t have the game.  Of course, I was in complete control of fixing this for him and making him happy and I wasn’t doing anything about it!!!

OH

MY

I swear to you sometimes you see yourself in your kids and it is so humbling you just want to run away and hide!  You just want to cry, pray, and plead with God that they don’t have to learn the same hard lessons you are still trying to learn…that they will be spared the same regrettable heartache you could have avoided if you would have just been still and silent…

You see, I have been dealing with this exact same scenario in my own life.

There is something I want.  Something I want really bad.  It’s a good thing.  It’s not a selfish thing.  And, it is entirely out of my control.  And, I want it so bad I can hardly stand it anymore.

And, I have watched myself go through that same thought process that he went through.

I have said the same things to God for what seems like forever.  I have tried to be thankful.  I have tried to bargain/earn it.  I have even allowed myself to follow that ugly little cycle all the way to self-entitlement; and I am not a teenager anymore…

I found myself on the stairs looking into my son’s blue eyes saying the words I am sure God has been trying to get me to understand for the at least 8 years now.

“Sometimes, you just have to trust that I have your best interest at heart.  Sometimes, it’s not the best thing for you to get exactly what you want the minute you think of it.  Sometimes, I know that waiting is the best thing you can do.”  

As, I  spoke those words to him I almost had an out of body experience.

You see, I knew he was getting the game, and I knew when he was getting it.  It was so silly for him to waste all of his time scheming ways to get it.  It was a waste of his emotional energy to dwell on all the reasons he deserved it, and to try to control how he got it.

And, all of the sudden I felt God’s heart when He sees mine.

I wish that was the end of it.  That he listened to me and moved on.  It wasn’t and he didn’t.

But, he settled down, did other things and, stopped whining about it.  Yesterday, he got his hearts desire (insert sarcasm here): Star Wars Battlefront.

I am going to choose happy on my way into this New Year because of what can only be described as the Lord’s divine patience with me.  God has a way of showing me my own teenage heart in what is usually gentle and patient way.  A way that I could do well to learn as I navigate through this pretty messy stage where I have no idea what I am doing and tend to lose my cool once in awhile (yeah, right).

Now, where did I put that list of resolutions…oh, look it’s snowing; I should definitely shovel the driveway first!  I have plenty of time 🙂

 

 

Quiet

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Sometimes, I sit down at the computer and words just pour out of me.  There is no struggle about what I should share because I have already gone through it about a thousand times in my head!  I write, and somehow my head is less cluttered and my heart feels more settled.

Other times, I sit down at my desk and tap on the keys but no words are formed.  My hands just hover lightly, as if they know they should be typing, but that there is some disconnect between my brain and the tips of my fingers.  I get a kind of antsy-ness.  I don’t want to force anything out that shouldn’t be shared just yet, but somehow I have this feeling that I need to say SOMETHING; if I could just figure out what exactly it is!

I’m pretty sure that this post is gonna be like that last thing I said up there!

Things seem to be a little quiet.  Which, has to be a theme or something I need to get comfortable with, because when I looked back at the last thing I wrote (about three weeks ago), I felt the same way.

Just, quiet.

Sure, I could tell you about my latest teenager drama.  I could write about the falling leaves, or the wind and rain.  I could probably even tell you some of the things I’ve discovered about my relationships/friendships/parenting philosophies, and how these things relate to how I see God.  But, I just can’t seem to get any of it to make sense in black and white.

So, I am going to choose happy this week because it’s okay to be quiet.  Sometimes we just need to listen.  To just sit quiet and let the words stay in our hearts a little longer.  It’s okay to be still.  To let Him make sense of what seems to make none.  Let Him be the one who perfects the timing.  Let Him be the one who speaks just the right words at just the right time.

God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks.  Its a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. 

Lamentations 3:25-26 (MSG)

This Blog has NO Title (so it was never actually written)

Today is the day! The last football game for the Freshman/JV team.  This is of importance to me because both of my guys have been up-to-their-eyeballs involved with football since the beginning of June.  And, this involvement has taken over any kind of life/schedule/family since that fateful day.  Of course, it’s probably not as bad as I am making it sound, but it will be nice to eat dinner as a family sometime before 7pm again!

I mean, I like watching my almost 15yr old son get knocked around by other almost 15yr old boys as much as the next mom, especially when that son is a messy/arguing/always-right teenager, but all good thing and such…

**disclaimer-No, I do not actually enjoy watching my son get hit during football.  No, it is not some weird form of punishment inflicted on him for his mouthy little mouth.  Yes, my heart is in my throat each time that ball is snapped.  Yes, you should realize I am simply trying to find some humor in this teenage maze that is my life right now**

It has been crazy over here.  Between coaching and work, it feels like Clint and I have been on different schedules since the beginning of summer.  Between school and practice, it feels like I haven’t said more than a few words to Jaden since classes started.  Also, I have had more one-on-one mommy/daughter time with my almost teenage girls than any one mom should be allowed without some kind of mental health monitor following their every move.

It has felt like we are just going through the motions, and checking off to-do’s, so we can get to the end of the day.  Because, at the end of the day we can find each other and commiserate about the last time we actually sat down and, just…well, the last time we sat down!

Please, tell me I am not the only one who feels this way.  That going through motions, and feeling like you are doing the work with no real sense of accomplishment is a common thing, right?

A friend of mine posted something on Facebook the other day about running and not using her Map My Run app; like if you didn’t turn the app on did it even really happen kind of thing?  I have to admit that’s how it feels to me; no app, no credit.  Like I never laced up the shoes or hit the pavement.  I know, I’m a little crazy like that.  It needs to be on the list at the end of week; it just has to!

Wow, does my life feel like this right now!  Like I am running around doing all of these good things, but I forgot to turn on the app that gives me credit!  It’s like it never happened.  We come to the end of the week, just to do it all over again and it’s the same stuff just a new week.  Even, my devotional/prayer time has felt kind of quiet.  But, I keep going through the motions and keep on keeping on…

Then, something happened and I had to stop and pay attention.  I woke up one morning, after a pretty crappy night of no sleep and fighting kids, to find my self thanking God, praying, and just feeling very grateful.  That’s right, I woke up with words of thanksgiving running through my head and my heart before I was even completely conscious!

Wait!  What?!!!

I write all this, not to make you look at me and think I have it all together.  Because, trust me…I don’t!  And, if you think I do, this is clearly your first time here.  Welcome!!!

I do write this to tell you that you ARE getting credit for all of those little things you do.  All of the items that get done without a second thought; the things that get done just because that’s what you do.  It may not seem like it now, but it all counts; even if we forgot to turn the app on.  Our hearts are paying attention even when our heads are in a million different places.  That’s why we keep on keeping on.  Even if it seems like we have no time to spare and it’s just another to-do.  We spend time with the One who stays in confusion and chaos, because even when it feels like no one is hearing us, or that no one is paying attention to our work we still get credit for it.

So, I am choosing happy this week because even when it seems quiet or feels like I am just going through the motions, and even when all I can seem to do is stand; my heart is still listening.  My heart gets it even when I don’t, and that is a very happy thing if you ask me.

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This? This is just hilarious and I thought you all should enjoy it too!

Groundhog Day

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The alarm goes off.  I hit snooze.  I get up.  I wake the kids.  I fight with the kids.  I make breakfast.  I fight with the kids.  The kids fight with the kids.  I drive them to school.  I fight with the kids.  I come home, do various tasks and work.  I pick kids up from school.  Clint and I fight with the kids.  Homework gets done.  Fighting.  Pack lunches.  Arguing.  Dinner.  Kids fighting.  Bedtime.  And repeat.

For the foreseeable future; repeat!

This is life lately.  That, up there, on repeat.  Especially, the fighting.  So much arguing, debate, and controversy about EVERYTHING.  I guess I should thank my lucky stars for the break that comes with school everyday, but it doesn’t seem like enough.  It just is NOT enough!  I actually overheard a meaningless debate turn into WWIII about an episode of Cake Boss.  Yes, you read that right…Cake Boss.

I know, I know, how do I dare share with you that my precious family isn’t the perfect example of sibling togetherness?!  I write an encouraging blog.  This just seems wrong.  What am I thinking, letting you in to see that behind the pretty little white porch is an actual war zone?  That includes a boy who hasn’t said a nice word to his sisters in weeks, and girls who share a room, but can’t speak to each other without tears and a good amount of yelling.  And, of course the hidden minefield.  My house is so full of teenage angst and hormonal outbursts that make no sense, anyone who comes in close contact leaves confused and with a mild case of PTSD. IMG_1869But, I did!  I let you in.  Now you can see this day.  This groundhog day.  This monotony that never ends and just keeps showing up the minute the alarm goes off.

Every.  Single.  Day.

Now what?  Am I going to share a cute anecdote that makes it all better?  Am I going to tell you that I found the secret to teenage togetherness and homework harmony?

Nope.  Just Nope.

I am going to say that my heart knows it’s just a season.  That being a teen is hard especially with annoying sisters.  I feel pretty confident that they will eventually tolerate each other?  I mean this week, they did sit in the same room without complaining about how loud the other chews breakfast.  Thats progress, right?!  I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m just crossing my fingers that it doesn’t mean they finally succeeded in their master plan; to slowly kill me…IMG_1870I am hoping that you’ll read this and be encouraged that you are not alone.  Or, that you don’t have it so bad after all.  Maybe, I’ll give you a good laugh.  Or, maybe you read this and think I’m being a whiny baby.  That you have it much worse than I could ever imagine…you probably do!  But, now I’ve validated your position and you’re slightly encouraged; BOOM!  Drop the mic!  I found a way to encourage you by using discouragement!  My blog is a success!

I  will choose happy this week by thanking God for the strength SANITY that comes from strong coffee, a little sleep, and the moments that happen just before bed (that’s when all three of them are snuggled in their beds looking like angels sleeping).  Wait a minute, two of the three talk in their sleep…

 

Fear is a Liar

I love the water.  I love to look at it.  I love to sit on the shore and feel the breeze as it comes across Lake Michigan.  I love to walk along the beach, next to the ocean, and feel the warm, gorgeous blue hit my toes.  I love to take pictures of it.  I am captivated by the way the water is constantly moving and changing.  It’s beautiful.

Looking over the ocean, or even the greatness of Lake Michigan captures God’s glory in such a unique, and wonderful way.

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But, you know what?  Water is also kinda scary.

Think about standing on the shore of an ocean, and looking out over such a great body of water.  The unknowns.  The vastness.  The deep, blue with no bottom in sight.  And of course, the sharks!  

Seriously, who is NOT afraid of sharks!  I have sister (who will remain nameless) that was terrified to take a shower at one point in her life because…sharks.  I was afraid of Lake Michigan for awhile (it was a long time ago, okay) because…sharks.  I have a sweet, and sometimes naughty (that’s why I love him) little boy in my life that was truly terrified he was turning into a shark after he lost a tooth because…well, sharks!  Maybe we should all just stop watching things about sharks…who I am I kidding; we all love Shark Week!

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On a more serious note, water is quite scary.

Some of the worst dreams I have involve water.  To be more specific, they involve water and drowning.  It doesn’t matter who it is, me, my kids, a family member, friends; it’s a horrible nightmare!  One that recurs, and I’m just standing there on the shore watching.  Feeling helpless and afraid.  There is nothing I can do to help, and I know it.  Hopeless.  That’s how I feel when I wake up.

Hopeless and afraid.

So, I have been thinking about water.  Silly things like sharks, and more serious things like waves and storms.  And drowning.  And fear.  And you know what, I discovered?

Fear lies!  All the time!

Fear tells you there is no hope.  That hoping will lead to hurt.

Fear tells you that you will lose control if you have hope.  Fear says that hoping for what’s ahead is as scary as floating in the ocean and not being able to see the bottom.  You know it’s there but you can’t feel it; and you should fear anything you can’t see or touch.

Fear lies about what hope is.

Fear lies about who God is.

Do you think, Mary wasn’t terrified when the angel came to her?  Instead of letting her fear stop her, she used hope to grow into the woman who God had seen all along.  She took the hand of God as He called her into the unknown.  Hope made Mary brave.

Do you think Daniel was without fear when he was led into the lion’s den?  That Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego weren’t a little concerned when they felt the heat of that fire?  Instead of cowering, they held on to the One who had kept them safe and sound all those years in captivity.  They used hope to look into the eyes of their captors and declare the goodness of their God; even if He didn’t save them.  Hope made them brave.

He made them brave.

Hope doesn’t mean you have no fear, it means you don’t let fear keep you from moving forward.  But fear wants us to forget that.  It wants us to forget about hope.

Fear lies and says you can’t go on.  Fear says you must stay where you are until the storm passes.  Don’t move until the waves calm and you see the horizon again.  Fear longs for us to forget.  But hope looks fear in eyes and says one word: Jesus.

He takes our hand and we move forward together.  Into the unknown.  Through the storm.  Facing crashing waves, He makes us brave.

Not helpless and afraid.

Brave.

I will choose happy this week because I am not alone.  I may have fear, but I also have hope.  And hope sees me standing on the shore feeling helpless and walks with me into the water; sharks and all!

He makes ME brave.

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P. S.

Take a listen to this song; it’s so completely worth your time.  Trust me!

 

Two Things

Sharing this little post again, because…well, it’s my blog and I can if I want to 😂  Plus, with it being the last Friday of summer vacation I think we’ve all been here a few times and could use a friendly little reminder about the joy of coffee! 

 

I woke up this morning and the first thing that entered my congested, hurting head was “great, I’m getting sick!”  So, I laid in bed a little longer, made myself get up, and stumbled downstairs.

Ignoring the girls, who were in their bedroom on the iPad.  Which is quite a thing; I usually don’t show such restraint, and how in the world can the Shaytards be that entertaining?

I did not check on the boys, who were in the basement.  Also a thing, because I am sure they stayed up all night playing video games, and needed food and water, and someone to make sure their eyes had not in fact burned up in the sockets.

I finally made my way to the kitchen.

It seemed like it took forever!  Like every step was a mile and every noise I heard made my head explode. But, I had survived the journey and my reward was the sweet smell of those delightfully roasted beans as hot water poured over them.

I stood there taking in the beautiful smell, and thought to myself how can I be getting sick the day before we leave for vacation?

Of course, my thoughts were disturbed by yet another fight about whether one girl spitting at the other was on purpose or by accident (you read that right; ANOTHER fight about spit), only to be reminded that I really didn’t feel well or have the patience for THIS day…AGAIN.

I poured that sweet smelling goodness into my mug and inhaled.

Let it cool for a second and took a sip.

Then, I took another and looked out the window.  It was in fact a really beautiful morning.

How had I missed this?

I took a few more sips and smiled.  I thought of how nice it was that the girls had each other; even though they have been fighting like stray dogs in an alley.  I was also grateful for the boys, and the fact they have been friend for the last 5 years.

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As I stood on the porch, the noise of the continuous arguing faded, and the world felt like it was at peace around me.

Birds chirping in the background, sunlight beaming through the windows, and a cool breeze hitting my face, I realized my headache had also faded into the background.  I could also breathe a little better.  My congestion had melted away as I stood here sipping this dark wonderfulness (it’s a word; trust me).

Coffee had healed me.  This dark nectar of God had stepped in and transformed me into a person.  It had grabbed me by the shoulders, looked straight into my eyes and told me I was fine.  I was going to make it through the day.

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I.  Could.  Do.  This.  

I was doing this…and I was happy doing it!  I felt like a new person.  Awake and ready to tackle another day!

 

I am going to choose happy this week (and probably for the rest of the summer at the very least) because I have coffee…and Jesus…and Jesus made coffee.  I am starting to realize these two things are the only way I am going to make through summer.

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I mean, through parenting.

Okay, life.  I meant to say; the only way I am going to make it through life!

 

LOUD NOISES!!!!

Sitting here in my room with the sound of nothing in the background.  You would never know that it was a summer morning.  The house is unbelievably quiet; almost like no one is here.  The smell of my cinnamon coffee is in the air, and  the temperature outside is currently 54degrees…on August 21st.  That is still summer right?!

I have to admit, I love it.  I am over the humidity that hovered over us like wet blanket these past couple of weeks.   I am over it being so ridiculously hot and humid that it is in fact better to stay inside.  Days like this in the summer are just like the cold, snowy ones in the winter and I don’t like it at all.  Stay tuned for another post about 6mo from now talking about how I miss the heat…

The stillness this morning is as odd as the cool temp.  Sometimes our house is so loud and noisy it’s all I can do to make it to bedtime.  The TV is on, music is playing, someone is watching a youtube video about Minecraft, and no one takes into account who is speaking or listens to all the noise; they just talk over everything else.  Gaining my attention is a battle.  And, who ever is the loudest gets to be the victor.

I like to think I love the quiet.  That silence is my favorite and no noise is the best noise.  But, then it happens and all I can do is miss the sound.   The slam of cupboard door because someone is making coffee.  The squeaky pantry door opening as someone looks for breakfast.  The water running for a morning shower.  And of course, the voices that are always asking what we are going to do today or if I will make pancakes (my kids would eat pancakes for every meal if I would make them).

Keeping this in mind, I cannot help but think how I listen.  Do I turn my attention to the loudest and most in your face voice?  Do I only respond to what is screaming in my head or my heart?  Or, do I take a minute, evaluate what is going on around me and seek out who was there first?  The one who is sitting quietly waiting for the chaos in the house to suspend for a moment so they can be clearly heard?

Why is it so hard to be still, and then listen?

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I think we get so accustomed to the chaos and the noise we look for our answers in it.  We expect the loudest voice to be rightest voice (yes, it’s word; trust me right now I’m the loudest…).  And, then we totally forget about quiet.  We neglect the stillness, and look to the noise for our peace.  We get confused when there is no noise; like we have no direction when there is nothing fighting for our attention.

There IS good in the noise.  Sometimes, it’s the only way to gain our full attention.  But, how often do we miss Him in the stillness because we are looking for a display of His might?  How many times do we ignore the small voice in hearts because the good things are louder?

 

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Today, I am going to choose happy because He is God in the quiet and the chaos.  He is there for me in stillness and the storm.  I only have to take the time to listen.  

 

 

Just Keep Hiking, Just Keep Hiking, Just Keep Hiking

IMG_0754.JPGHave any of you ever been hiking?  There is something beautiful about being in the woods, on a mountain, or even in the middle of a sand dune with no distractions.  It’s quiet.  It puts God’s creation on display.  It lets you focus on the world around you in the most simple and breathtaking way.  If you’ve never tried it, do it!  Seriously, just go to your closest state park, find a trail, and go; you won’t regret it!

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We stumbled upon this new hobby by accident!  One day, we all decided to tag along with Clint when he went up to Ludington for work.  Northern Michigan is beautiful any time of year.  And, in the summer it’s a little cooler and the lakeshore is just perfect for a day trip.  So the plan was to let him get his work done and then head up to Glen Arbor and Sleeping Bear Dunes.  We were going to climb the big dune with the kids and take in the pretty view.  Simple enough, right?!

We drove around town and then headed for the first big dune we laid our eyes on!  It was huge! But, when we got to the top…the view was just another sand dune.  And when you got to the top of the next one there still was no lake at the bottom of it.  And when you got to the top of that one, you only saw another, and another, and another…IMG_0054

Being the committed family that we are (more like I was too stubborn to turn around), we continued on.  We kept climbing.  We kept running down the side of one sand mountain only to crawl up another.  Each time hoping to see Lake Michigan as we reached the top.  However, we were only seeing more sand.

It was becoming quite obvious that we had chosen the wrong dune.  People were turning around and telling us that there were more obstacles ahead; that they were turning back.  There was another family, just like us, who told us just to give up as they headed back for the car disappointed and tired.  We considered it.  But, there was something about that feeling we got every time we reached the top.  The feeling that this was going to be it!  That this was the last one!  IMG_0052

Finally, after what seemed like forever we saw the end!  Not in the form of water, endless blue skies, or forever reaching lakeshore.  It was in the form of a sign that said that Lake Michigan was still 1/2mi in front of us.  That we had a 1/2mi more of sand, more sun, and more climbing.  What?!!!

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This is actually from a hike in Ludington State Park, but it gives you a good idea of how we felt.

Hope is a tricky thing.  It can spur us on to accomplish great things.  It can keep us going when we just want to give up.  The feeling that what lies ahead is greater than what lies behind defines hope.  But, what happens when what your hoping for seems constantly out of reach?  When hope is deferred, and every time you get to the top of a mountain you only see another one?

I wish I had the perfect response to lift the discouragement that seems to fall every time life happens.  When we fail to get the job promotion; again. When we fight with our spouse or kids,over the same thing; again.  When it feels like our dreams are just too far to grasp; again…

I do know that we have a choice.  That just like love, hope is a choice.  The choice that pushes us forward.  I am talking about the cling-to-hope-even-when-all-is-lost choice.  I am talking about the decision to get-up-and-face-another-day-and-climb-the-next-mountain. The choice we make to decide that what lies over the top of the next sand dune has to be better than the sand dune we just climbed if only because it’s not the same sand dune we just climbed!

That every step forward takes you further from what is behind you.

This is hope.

Well, we did it!  We continued for another 1/2 mi and were rewarded with one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen.  Pictures don’t do it justice.  We were hooked; hiking has become something we love.  Even Livi (who is opposed to most physical activity), can occasionally be convinced to join.

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I am going to choose happy this week because HOPE.  Because we would have missed that gorgeous view if we had just focused on what was right in front of us.  We would be missing out on a ton of other great views too if we hadn’t seen it through to the end.

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P.S.  

That hike in the dunes ended up being 7mi total!  How we missed the other signs, I am not sure.

 Oh, and don’t ask my kids if they have the same great memories I do…you won’t get the same response!

 

 

10 Things I HATE about You

Well, maybe more like 5 things I hate about you…and actually, I don’t hate you.  It’s more like 5 things I hate.  Yep, just 5 things I hate.  Not about you, or anyone else.  Just 5 things I hate.  But what kind of title would that be?  This way I have your attention, right?!!!

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It’s not that there are so many things that bug me that I needed to compose a list (please don’t ask my husband if that’s true).  It’s just that life seems a little complicated lately, and the world around me seems so sad, and angry, and overwhelmed.  It got me thinking…..

1).  Love.  I hate this world’s new definition of love.  I hate that marriage isn’t taken seriously.  I can’t stand it when people say that they just aren’t “in love” anymore.  I really don’t like that love has turned into a selfish word.  That love is defined as whatever makes me the happiest.  We have been sold the lie that love is easy.  That love is always happy and will cost you nothing.  The truth is that love is work and whole lot harder to live out than hate or indifference.

2).  Belief.  I hate that when one believes in something or someone they feel the need to stuff it down the throats of anyone who feels differently.  I hate that the word “belief” has turned into some sort of license to say whatever you want, and that no one can dare argue or offer a different “belief”.  I hate that there are no more discussions.  That everything  is an “issue” and we all need to hold the same values.  I really don’t like that there is no room for interpretation anymore.  I’m pretty sure God is more concerned with the way we are treating each other, than He is about whether we are all on the same page about the latest political candidate, or supreme court ruling.  Wow, there is that love word again…..

3).  Church.  This may cause some to raise their eyebrows and shake their heads at me, but please hear me out.  I hate that many churches are no longer communities.  I hate that church has become synonymous with that building we all go to on Sunday for 1 1/2hrs in order to feel better about ourselves for the next week.  I really don’t like that we have forgotten how to do church.  The first churches were not about what made you feel good.  The first church, the one in Acts, was all about sacrifice.  They focused on how they could give the most of their time, money, and effort to their community.  Not just the community of believers…the COMMUNITY.  Oh my, that word is coming to mind again….

4).  Life.  I hate that looking around this world makes life overwhelming.  Friends who have lost their precious babies to cancer.  Families who mourn the lose of life taken too soon.  EVERY life matters.  ALL lives matter.  The end of July marks 28 years since my brother, Adam, was killed by a drunk driver.  He was only four.  He and his friend, Kris (also four) were on their way to a birthday party.  It’s been 28 years since our families lost their sons and brothers.  And you know what? It’s not long enough to forget.  I hate that life can feel so unbearable at times that the only option is lashing out at each other.  That instead of looking at it like it’s us against the world, we view it as it’s the world against me.  I wish there was some concept that could help us get through this….

5).  Hate.  I hate HATE.  I cannot stand the hate that flows out of everyone lately.  Christian vs. non-christian, conservative vs. liberal, young vs. old, mommy vs. mommy, vegan vs. vegetarian…okay, I threw that last one in to lighten the mood a little.  But, seriously?!!! Why can’t we all just get along?  I want to say, that I know it’s more complicated than that, but is it really?! Is the concept of treating each other the way we would want to be treated that foreign?  Is it possible we have just overcomplicated the simplest concept of all?  Oops, I’m back to love again…

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I’m just a wife.  I’m just a mom.  I’m just a woman.  I’m only one person.  But a few thousand years ago it was just one man with His message of love.  Love is not about me.  Love means life is going to hurt sometimes.  Love means that contrary to the way I feel, and what the world tells me, I should be putting the needs of others in front of what I want.  I am going to choose happy this week by choosing love.  By not letting the things I hate overwhelm me, and instead turn to the one, true example of unfailing love.  He loved the right way, and with His help, maybe I can make a go of it too.

 

Oxymorons in Michigan

I love Michigan.  I love that we have seasons.  I love a good crisp fall day, and wonderfully warm spring morning.  I love torrential downpours and summer thunderstorms as much as I love snow days and windy, winter blizzards.  Living here allows us to have the unexpected right around the corner.  I have to admit, it’s what I like the most about this place.  The fact that there can also be warm fall nights, and 60 degree December days makes it worth the spring freezes and 45 degree July nights.   Michigan’s forecast tries to be “accurately predicted” but that seems like an oxymoron doesn’t it?

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So often I try to accurately predict what the day, week, or year is going to look like.  I have a schedule.  I make plans.  I do my best to make things happen in the way, and in the time that I want.  And, it makes me happy when the plan is kept.

Laundry gets done on Monday, groceries on Tuesday, floors done on Wednesday, etc.  No one is sick, not one homework assignment is late, and all the work appointments are kept; that is a perfectly perfect week.

No.  Nope.  Never.  It seems like there is not one week that turns out like that well laid plan up there.

But, we get through it.  We press on to another week.  With the same plans and the same schedule, we wake up Sunday and cross our fingers that this week is gonna be perfectly perfect.  Of course, it’s not!  And suddenly, the week isn’t planned anymore; you just hope it’s “accurately predicted” like the Michigan seasons!

Illness rears it’s ugly head.  Infertility keeps you from moving forward.  Unemployment halts you in your tracks.  Even good things, like a dream job offer with questionable timing or a surprise pregnancy that changes everything, throw us off our carefully plotted course.

I am pretty sure this is where the choice is ours.  Where we get to make a decision.

We can continue with our plans.  We can force our way and keep the schedule.  We can complain and feel out of control when it doesn’t happen in our way, or in our time.  We can put a stop to everything, draw a line in the sand, and say that until that perfectly perfect schedule is kept we will not move forward.

Or…

We can choose to trust.  We can choose joy.  We can make the choice, that no matter what comes our way our only option is to love.  To love the life we have been given.  To love the people in our path.  To embrace what lies before us, and love the unplanned interruptions.

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I want to chose what keeps me moving forward.  The one that puts me in the middle of God’s plan for my life, and has me wrapped up in His grace and safe in His arms.  I am pretty sure that means I have to go the love route.  That I have to trust.  I am pretty sure that means giving up my way and losing control.  I am pretty sure that means embracing the the oxymorons of this life and going forward in love and with His timing.

Wow, that is going to be hard!!!  This week choosing happy means letting go of the plans and the schedules; even if that means sitting outside in a sweatshirt in the middle of July.