These Tiny Feet

Just over 19 years ago, I met a precious little toddler. She smiled and brightened a room, and had a little pony tail that stuck up and fanned out in the cutest way. A few years later, I met the man I’d marry, and he’s such a sucker for little kids. He loved her right away too. She was one of our flower girls, helping make our day more special as she twirled around in her skirt, carrying a ball of pink flowers and holding our hands.

It’s not my place to tell you her story. It’s full of love, grace, pain, bad choices, trying again, and falling down. In the past few years, there’s a lot of falling down. But you know how God can make the brightest and most amazing things from these dark places? Yeah, he does it so often. Here’s a sweet and perfect one.

sophiafeet

Don’t you just want to eat those feet up?

We’re getting to. Right now, loving that little flower girl of ours looks like loving her little girl. Consequences are tough. Getting back up again after you’ve fallen is tough. But these little feet, and everyone who loves her is rooting for her. Even though she’s burned some bridges and has a tough road. But lucky us, we’re in a position to be able to help take care (for now) of what she loves most, her 8 week old baby girl.

We don’t know how long she’ll be with us, but we know that like her mom, she’ll be in our lives forever. She’s family.

Pray for these girls that we love, and that we know that God loves and has a plan for. Pray for us to be ready to do whatever is asked of us (we think we are). And if you see us with a sweet baby girl, just be glad you get to see a tiny part of what God is doing through her.

 

Christmas Gifts

The stockings are hung, the presents are wrapped, the goodies are baked.  We’ve rehearsed our Christmas Eve KidStuf show, decorated for the Christmas Eve candlelight service, watched the favorite Christmas classics, and even cleaned the house.  We’ve bought the last minute presents and should be sitting back relaxing and enjoying it.

But I’m on day two of migraines and getting enough relief to barely function but nothing more.  And Michael is on week three of an episode that hasn’t landed him in the hospital but has made me contemplate the need for it many times.  So just like usual, I’m feeling a bit sorry for us, and mostly for him.  He should be able to enjoy this season, but we’re here once again and he’s struggling with the emotional battlefield that creates.

But God keeps sending us these small surprises that help keep us going, and remind me that we’re not forgotten.

First, there was this gift.

As I dug through my wrapping paper supplies, which includes old Christmas cards that I use as tags, I saw handwriting that I hadn’t seen in years.  6 1/2 years actually.

Austin’s last Christmas with us we made quite a few sweet memories.  One of them was him helping me with Michael’s Christmas gift.  Austin was a computer whiz, and I asked him to set up and configure the new laptop that he’d helped me find.  He met me at Panera and we drank coffee while he worked on it, to make sure Michael didn’t see.  He then bought a warranty to go with it as Michael’s gift, and what I found was his handwritten note saying that he’d bought him a warranty.

It’s the kind of thing I’d normally throw away, and I’m not sure why I kept it.  I’m not sure how it sat in that box of supplies for so long without me seeing it either.  But as I sat wrapping presents this year, with Michael asleep near me, and me hoping for a miracle for him this year, I got a small one of my own.  A reminder of my brother and of the love he had for us.

Later that night, last night, another completely unexpected gift was given.

A small company, UnMarketing, who says to ‘Stop Marketing, Start Engaging’ did just that through granting items from wish lists for a fairly large group of people.  They asked you to send them Amazon wish lists, and they’d be selecting some people to pick an item off the list and send it.  No questions, no fuss, no contest.  They didn’t make you share it to win it, or like them on Facebook, or fill out an application.

Within 10 minutes, two items off of Michael’s Christmas list were ordered and a personal note sent about why the man behind this chose those- he didn’t just throw money (which was cool enough on it’s own) but he took time to connect.  They weren’t high ticket items, but they’re items that he’ll love.

And with those two gifts, I’m reminded….

We’re loved, we’re taken care of, we’re not forgotten.

I wish I didn’t have to write a post like this every year- that I didn’t struggle with balancing the great and true Joy of the God we’re celebrating and the kids who have my heart with the heartache of this illness and my brother being missing.  I often feel like I’ve said as much as I can say on these topics, and have nothing more to give.

But maybe, you’re like me and facing the same things year after year and needing the reminder that just because you are doesn’t mean you’re forgotten, or unloved.

He loves us more than we can know, which is after all why we have Christmas to celebrate.

Merry Christmas my friends.

 

Christmas 2009

Christmas 2009

 

The Help Experiment

A few weeks ago I learned about a leadership team being formed to start something BIG.  I wanted in.

The Help Experiment: We are a collective of individuals joining together to help others. We do it because we can, we do it because we should, and we do it because we think… you would too.  That was the vision of the man behind the project, Jon Levesque.  He is passionate about this, and assembled a team who is as well.

It’s the early days, but what has already happened?

People are offering help.  People are being helped.

In small ways and big.  People who thought they had nothing to offer have realized that their skills and talents are valuable and needed.  There have been offers of logo design, health and fitness coaching, baked goods, meals delivered, Christmas cards designed, Christmas gifts for kids in need, and many more.  We have seen people who needed encouragement and to believe that people care find that.  We’ve seen people who needed to realize that they have an important gift to give find those who are so grateful.

I truly believe we’ll start to see lives changed.

If you’ve read much of mine, you already know I can get on a soapbox about ‘DO SOMETHING!’ when there is a need, vs. something that makes you feel good but truly helps no one.  This is my chance to be more action than words, to not just fill a need, but to help give you, my friends, the opportunity to do something meaningful, however big or small.

Check it out- the website including stories of lives impacted will be launching soon- but amazing things are already happening on the Facebook page.  Click over, join, and look for yourself.  There’s no risk, no commitment, just come see…. I think you’ll stick around.

This month we’re reminded of how much we have to be thankful for and how much we have.  Now, it’s time to give.

help

To The Class of 2013

As the Class of 2013 prepares to take the next steps on their journey, moving from high school or college, I begin to step back and reminisce about the years since my last graduation.  I think my younger self would be overwhelmed to know the future, but I think I’d be proud of where I am.

There are some things I’d tell myself though, and since I can’t, let me share them with you, the class of 2013.

– You are ready.  Every experiencehome_love in your life has built to this moment, to equip you to step forward into your future.  Being ready doesn’t mean your steps will be easy, your choices will be faultless, or your dreams will come true right away.  But it does mean that you have the tools and support to keep growing on your own.

– Work hard.  No matter if you’re going on to college or work, you are going to have to work harder than you ever have.  But the rewards will be bigger than they’ve ever been before.

– Keep learning.  I don’t mean book learning (though there’s a place for that too), but by listening to those around you, soaking up the knowledge they share.  Learn what not to do from some people- those lessons will be as valuable as any.

– Prepare for bumps.  There will be bumps, as small as ant hills to as large as mountains.  You will sometimes feel like giving up.  You will sometimes feel there is no way you can get past it.  But you can. 

– Hold on to your real friends, forget the others.  Ten or twenty years from now, some of those real friends will still be real friends.  You may lose touch, you may go separate ways, but you may find your way back.  Don’t dismiss them because you’ve moved on to new adventures.  But those that weren’t real friends, or those that hurt you along the way?  It’s okay to let them go.  It’s growing to know what is real and what can be left in the past. 

– Be flexible.  The path to where you’ll be years from now will wind and twist, and you won’t land exactly where you thought you would.  But where you land may be better than you’d ever believed.  And the twists will be what you reflect on all your life. 

– Go.  The world is so much bigger than the slice you’ve lived.  Go experience some of it.  We’ll be here waiting at home to welcome you back, always being your safe place. 

– Do good.  There is so much darkness in the world, but there is so much more power in the good that can come from those who choose to shine it.  You have that power, to show God’s love to a hurting world.  To be His hands and His feet. 

– Love.

For the graduates in our life, we look forward to seeing you pursue your dreams and build a future.  We love you.

Colton&Boys_2013

One of our favorite 2013 grads and our boys who love him

 

Four More Years

I am so fortunate to have had parents who worked to instill in me the very virtues that Martin Luther King, Jr. preached, and to teach me to dream big and lead with love.  As our country honors him today, I thought back to my very first public speaking ‘gig’ where the topic was ‘I Have a Dream’.  I believe I placed second in the competition (I know for sure I didn’t win!) but the messages that I learned in preparation for that stuck with me.

I truly believe that one of our great challenges as a nation lies in our difficulty in seeing past our own beliefs and our own views to understand where others are.  Or to meet them there.

My heart has had to grow a bit tougher over the past six months or so as I read things from many on social media sites that burn a bit.  I don’t agree with the majority of my circle of friends on quite a lot, namely politics and social issues.  And that’s okay.  I like being challenged to consider the different angles and examine my heart and mind for why I believe what I do.  I hope that from time to time I push them to do the same.

But I do hope that as we face the future (and the next four years), we can take a moment to look at things from the other side.  I’ll admit, that I haven’t been very good at this myself.  At all.

But we have to.  We have to realize that someone wanting tighter restrictions on guns may not be because they are {insert whatever name you want to call them} – that maybe, their life was altered in some way by a gun and they wish they could spare that pain from others.  Alternatively, we have to see that someone’s desire to have few limits may come from their belief in being able to protect those they love the best way they can, and maybe there was a day they weren’t protected.  We have to realize that someone’s belief in a social program, may be from their experience as a kid who didn’t have enough food and who’s mom worked hard but it was never enough.

The thing about sides is that they only divide.  I’m not asking you to change your beliefs.  But I am asking you (and I’m asking myself) to consider your words and your actions and your thoughts about people based on beliefs that you really don’t understand.  I’m simply asking you to first assume that the beliefs are based on desires of good, both for their family and for our nation.  And then, accept that we all may think that good will come best in different ways.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.  – Martin Luther King, Jr.