Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Starts


I'm glad for the journey.
Glad for fresh starts, new beginnings,
another chance to get back up again.
Living moment to moment.
Strength to strength.

Glad for new mercies
each day.
Each day has good and bad.
And that's ok.
Each year has good and bad.
Triumphs and tumbles.

There is a time for everything.
Time for every purpose.
And everything
is made

Happy New Year 2012.

You crown the year with Your goodness,
and Your paths drip with
Psalm 65:11

Thursday, December 29, 2011

With My Girls

Christmas vacation.

Overeating much richness, feasting, celebrating.

Rambunctious kids.

Time for exercise, fresh air, time together, photographs.

Honestly,  I was planning to walk alone,
have some quiet,
listen to some Francesca, TobyMac, 10th Avenue North,
get a brisk, quick workout.

But my girls had other plans.
And that was best anyway.
Because we got all that we needed and more.

Can you tell by the looks on those faces
that they had sat next to a pile of deer poop?
And we were avoiding piles the entire time.

Erin had decided to draw a map of our trip.
Syd and I had repeatedly reminded her
that she would have to carry her notebook and pen
the entire way.

Which just made her more determined in her purpose
to use the notebook.

So as she drew up our plans,
I tried to take photos of my camera-shy girl.
This is why I have so few photos to share of my sweet Syd:

She said today that her friend Emily
has helped her to be more confident
and to laugh
and not worry about
other people looking at you
especially for programs and singing.
What a great friend for Emily to be!

We hunted for nests . . .

and good spots for
ice skating on
White Owl Creek.

piggy-back rides

stomping on mole-hills,


and sister-laughs.

Erin's map showed the most important
part of her destination:

Can you see the distinct spot?

Here is a clue that we made it:

no lack of happiness, posing, or cuteness here.

Oh what fun to be four-and-a-half
and make it to your goal!
To jump and play on the haystacks.
She planned it out,
wrote it down,
talked about it all the way,
and took one step at a time toward it,
until she made it.
And then
she reveled in it,
had a blast!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sigh of Christmas Relief

of relief.
School is done.
Programs are done.
{My birthday is done}.

Ready for a

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Remembering Mr. Monahan

Sad.  Simply sad

to lose my high school art and photography teacher

Mr. Tom Monahan.

I've been reading post after post on facebook

from so many of his former students.


That's what comes to mind.

Here's the legacy he left in my life . . .

When I was a senior in high school,

I signed up for the Junior Miss Pageant

because, well, it was on my "ought-to" list.

But I was SO worried and anxious the whole time
because I didn't think I had a "talent" to perform.
Whining and lamenting about this problem
{that I voluntarily signed up for}
Mr. Monahan gave me this idea.
Using black lights and neon pastel chalks,
draw and dance to music.
He gathered up the black lights and the black felt for me to paint and draw on.
Approximately 4x6 foot piece of felt/velvety material and mounted it on wood.
Then I used his airbrush to paint the picture.
I also airbrushed a t-shirt for part of my costume.
Each week I would go to practice and the other girls would practice their talent,
and I would say, "I'm working on it."
I practiced a bit at home, but really only did the real thing the night of the performance.
I won the creative and performing arts portion of the competition.
And if I remember correctly, I was a teachers aid for Mr. Monahan and Mr. LaRue that year.
I think I worked on that project when I was supposed to be helping them.

Yes, that was cool then to win an award.
But the legacy is now.
For the past 5 years, I have been teaching Bible school to middle schoolers.
Each year we have a program,
and the older kids seem to lose their enthusiasm for Bible school programs.
So we take the "fear" out of standing up in front of people
by turning out the lights and doing a skit with black lights
and use my old box of neon pastels from that high school pageant.
The kids and I love it.
I have received such notes of kindness about those skits.
And these skits that glorify God go back to my pageant project
that Mr. Monahan inspired.
I never would have thought of that on my own.

In addition, I was part of Art Club.
Mr. Monahan was an advisor and we were able to see first-hand
into what it takes to be an entrepreneur
with Tom's T's and that beginning of T&M Studios.

Because Mr. Monahan was my teacher,
I had the privilege of watching him start this business with Mr. LaRue, and see it grow.
Take something they loved and were interested in and build it.
Create a business.
Create jobs.
Do what he loved.

That was an inspiration to me.
Today, Mr. Monahan is one of many
that has inspired me to take risks
and do what I love.

A few weeks ago,
I was able to give Mr. Monahan a big hug
and proudly show him the work in art and photography
that I am doing today.
I felt like a school-kid again
showing my teacher,
"Look what I did."
I had no idea that would be the last time
I would see him.

But his legacy is carried on in my life.


I know others have their own legacy story . . .
of Mr. Monahan or of a beloved teacher.
I'd love to hear . . .

Monday, December 5, 2011

Simple Real Memories

There were several years in my life

when I really lost the joy of the Christmas season.

It became a time laden with guilt and shame

about not being all that I thought I ought to be, should be, thought I wanted to be.

From the Christmas letter that seemed

to be mentally badgering me about unfulfilled dreams & goals

to self-imposed pressures of

perfection in career goals, balance as a wife and mom, holiday food, and financial success.

Christmas just seemed to tell me that I was coming up short in all these areas.

I put on a mask to hide all of this.  But it was very much a battle within me.

When deep down in my heart,

I just wanted simple, stay-at-home, memories.

Not the grand, impressive successes that taunted me.

But really, truely, I wanted simplicity.

Yet I feared that wanting the different dream,

meant I was giving up, "playing the family first card",

meant I was making excuses for not being where I had set goals to be.

I feared it might just mean that I was a quitter.
But, about five years ago,

I began to let go of the dreams I thought I ought to have and pursue

and embrace the true desires within me.

The truth is

I love things that I was afraid were

dorky, cheesy, nerdy, corny.

I'd rather be a home-body

and make peanut-butter-pinecone birdfeeders

with Time-life classic Christmas music in the background

than be the top-seller of anything for the Christmas season.

I love putting planning and effort into

these lives

in my messy little kitchen.

I love making memories here.

I love that I let go of guilt and pressure.

I love that I let go of shaming myself.

And I love that I had so much fun with my kids

that I have thanked each of them

over and over again

this week

for doing this little

project with me.

I love that we had so much fun.

I love that it was so easy.

I love that I made

a silly production of putting the first pinecone on the tree

to show them what we were doing.

I love that they embraced

my silliness

and did their own little dramatic

hanging of each pine cone.

Complete with chasing each other,

Erin doing the chicken dance

and skipping with her

while Tom took pictures.

Erin always skips. 

And do you know how hard it is to skip without smiling??

On this day,

I even loved the clutter of my kitchen

and that my apron made me look 20 pounds heavier than I think I am

{or maybe I really am 20 pounds heavier,
but the apron is a good excuse
--either way, I didn't and don't care}.

Because it just mattered

that I embraced the true me,

the true dreams,

the simplicity,

the imperfect beauty of my kids, myself, my place . . .

and made great memories.

Oddly, those years of lost joy,

seem to magnify my joy now.

So, I am grateful for those years too . . . for what they taught me for today.

Restored joy.

That's what it feels like.

I remember the year that the joy started to come back.

I watched It's A Wonderful Life for the first time.

I cried and cried and cried.  Not just a little.  But a LOT.

I saw myself COMPLETELY in that story.

That same year, the SAME THING happened

Charlie Brown cries out in his frustration,
 "Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"

And Linus says, "Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.

And there were in the same country, shepherds abiding in the fields,
keeping watch over their flocks by night.
And, lo, the Angel of the Lord came upon them
and the glory of the Lord shone round about them
and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them,
'Fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings
of great joy
which shall be to all people.
For unto you
is born this day
in the city of David,
a Savior,
which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you,
ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger.'
And suddenly there was there with the angel
a multitude of heavenly hosts
praising God and saying,
'Glory to God in the highest and on earth,
peace, goodwill toward men.'

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

I love, love, love that that's what Christmas is all about.
Christ the Lord.
God with us.

Totally rescued by Him
from my own thoughts
meeting my heart
through an old Christmas movie and cartoon.
And bringing me back
to simple joy with my kids.

Making these birdfeeders is one of my best Christmas memories yet.

Finding Heaven
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