Category Archives: Life Lessons

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hello, monday


When we dropped our kids off at church last Monday morning for camp, I had a flashback to leaving them at school on their first day of kindergarten. I wasn’t expecting that. It was their first time away from home for a full week somewhere other than with grandparents or cousins. And I experienced those familiar momma feelings you get when your kids are out in the world for the first time and you just have to trust God to hold onto them.

The goal for our kid-free week was to renovate our bathroom. The bathtub and shower surround have been in horrible shape for a long time, and we knew we needed to gut that area and install a brand new one. So as soon as we dropped the kids off, we pretty much hit the ground running. Monday was spent purchasing the things we needed for the reno. Tuesday morning, we picked up a few more necessary items and spent the afternoon on demo. The rest of the week was installation.

We underestimated the amount of time it would take us to finish this project. We thought we’d have it all done by Friday and would go to dinner at Olive Garden to celebrate. Nope! A few hiccups along the way slowed our progress. Jake kept having to run out to Ace to get little things (tools, screws, caulk, etc.) that we needed or ran out of. And we didn’t take into account just how exhausting it would be for two forty year olds who are not very physically fit to complete this renovation. Our stairs were climbed dozens of times in the span of three days, and by Friday, we were big blobs of aching muscles. And that lovely celebration dinner at Olive Garden never happened. We did order Applebee’s take out, but it wasn’t the same.

The project still isn’t complete. The big stuff is done. We are just finishing up little things like installing the light switch plate, putting another coat of paint on the trim, waiting for caulk to cure, etc. I will share some photos once it’s finished.

Jake took the entire week off of work so we could do this and have a “vacation” week together. It was not what I would call a relaxing vacation, but one thing I realized throughout the week is that we worked well together (for the most part) and accomplished a lot when we put our minds to it. We don’t have the best history when it comes to working on projects together. I tend to micromanage, which drives him insane. But this time around, things went pretty smoothly. Maybe it’s the fact that the kids were away and I didn’t have to worry about coming up with meals or dividing my attention between them and the bathroom project. Whatever the case, I’m proud of what we accomplished together. It looks a thousand times better than before.

This week also reminded me of the pre-kid days when it was just the two of us and made me think ahead to the days when the kids will be grown and it will be just us again. I’m not in a hurry for that, but I know that when it happens, we will be OK. We still like each other after twenty years of marriage. We still want to spend time together. We still plan and hope and dream together. I’d say that’s a very good thing. :)

And as far as the kids, they had a great time at camp and came home with many wonderful stories and tender hearts full of love for God and all their new friends. It was a successful week for all.

how you live


Driving down a country road one fall evening after an engagement photography session in South Haven, this song – Turn Up The Music by Point of Grace (above) – was playing in my car. I can’t remember if it was on the radio or if I had the CD at the time, but it brought tears to my eyes and it filled me with such a peaceful and hopeful feeling.

I remember that feeling very vividly. It was at a time when Jake (my husband) had lost his job because the company he worked for closed its doors, and my little photography business was keeping us afloat. Barely. It was very stressful and I felt anything but peaceful at the time.

“Wake up to the sunlight with your windows open
Don’t hold in your anger or leave things unspoken
Wear your red dress, use your good dishes,
Make a big mess, and make lots of wishes …”

I longed for the peaceful, carefree feeling this song brought out in me. To focus on the little things, my children, my husband, the beauty of nature, letting go, dreaming, taking chances. No regrets! I wanted to feel like that – happy and hopeful.

“Turn up the music, Turn it up loud
Take a few chances, Let it all out
‘Cause you won’t regret it
Lookin’ back from where you have been
Cause it’s not who you knew
And it’s not what you did
It’s how you live.”

I wanted a sense of security again, and I prayed for God’s help. And He provided! Time and again. (HERE is an awesome example of that!)

And here was this song, encouraging me and calming me. It was just one of those moments that has stuck with me. I posted the above video back in September of 2007 with just a brief comment like “I’m loving this song right now.” I probably didn’t say more because of the stressful emotions I was dealing with, but I’m glad I threw it up there that day because it was there for me to find again, to remember that things did get better. The job situation worked out. God took care of us.

And I’ve had many days, enjoying the sun on my face, thanking the Lord for the life He’s given me, letting myself be truly happy where I’m at, taking chances, and feeling so hopeful for the future.

“Wherever you are and wherever you’ve been
Now is the time to begin …”

“Make peace with God and make peace with yourself
‘Cause in the end there’s nobody else.”

I hope you’ll give the song a listen. :)
Oh, and here are a few pictures from the engagement session that night.

And if you want more, here’s their engagement post over on my biz blog, which I no longer update, but it remains online for all the lovely people I worked with.

On to today’s giveaway!

GIVEAWAY INFO: There are four ways to enter through the giveaway box below and each will get you five entries in the drawing.

• The first option is the only one you HAVE to do in order to be entered. I’ll ask one question in every day’s giveaway. You just have to enter your name and email address, give a brief response to the question, and you’re in the drawing.

If you want more chances to win, you can …
• Join my mailing list (if you already have, enter your email address so I can verify)
• Tweet about the giveaway and copy/paste the link from Twitter
• SHARE about the giveaway and the BLOG-IVERSARY on your own blog, Facebook*, Pinterest, etc. and link to that as well.

All giveaways will end on my actual BLOG-IVERSARY, next Thursday, February 26th, so the giveaways will all be OPEN until then.
The winners will be announced in a blog post on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27th!

* Note: If you share on a private Facebook account and we aren’t “friends”, make sure you change the audience of that one post to “public” so I can see it. ;)

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY

Last fall, I whipped up these little pocket calendars to match the ING Journals. I am using one every day to keep track of all our stuff. Here’s your chance to win one in the color of your choice. It’s a 2-year calendar with simple, blank calendar pages. No holidays or cycles of the moon or anything like that on any of the pages since I knew I would be writing all over it with appointments and gymnastics practices and such and I wanted every millimeter of space to do that. ;) They are about 4″x7″ in size.

Enter below. Tell a friend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

CLICK HERE to see all the GIVEAWAYS on one page!

TGIF! Hope you’ve enjoyed looking back with me this week. The fun’s not over yet! SEE YA’ BACK HERE ON MONDAY!

10 YEARS!

You’re here! I’m so excited! On February 26, 2005, I started this blog, and for the next two weeks, I will be looking back at the past TEN YEARS of blogging!

Ten years has gone by in the blink of an eye. At least, it seems so at times. I’ve been browsing back through old posts and, while the style of my photos (lots of borders and filters in the early days) has changed, the core of the posts has not. It started with a few posts about my kids and that’s pretty much the same today. I wrote about things we did, places we traveled, movies I loved, following my love of photography into a business, family, friends, parties, scrapbooking, memories, happy times, sad times, publishing my novel. So much of our life.

Ten years is a really long time.

So, for the next TEN DAYS, I will be looking back, sharing old photos and favorite posts, and there will be GIVEAWAYS!!!

GIVEAWAY INFO: There are four ways to enter through the giveaway box below and each will get you five entries in the drawing.

• The first option is the only one you HAVE to do in order to be entered. I’ll ask one question in every day’s giveaway. You just have to enter your name and email address, give a brief response to the question, and you’re in the drawing.

If you want more chances to win, you can …
• Join my mailing list (if you already have, enter your email address so I can verify)
• Tweet about the giveaway and copy/paste the link from Twitter
• SHARE about the giveaway and the BLOG-IVERSARY on your own blog, Facebook*, Pinterest, etc. and link to that as well.

All giveaways will end on my actual BLOG-IVERSARY, next Thursday, February 26th, so the giveaways will all be OPEN until then.
The winners will be announced in a blog post on FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 27th!

* Note: If you share on a private Facebook account and we aren’t “friends”, make sure you change the audience of that one post to “public” so I can see it. ;)

TODAY’S GIVEAWAY!

I’ve got a paperback copy of my first young adult novel ready to sign. The Truth About Drew was published last May.
It’s a sweet, uplifting, heart-warming story full of friendship and family with a journey to faith and a mystery surrounding a boy and his notebook.
Enter below. Tell a friend! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you have any questions at all about the giveaway, feel free to ask.

SEE YA BACK HERE TOMORROW!

gracious words


Yesterday, on Stephanie’s blog, she talked about things people say just to say something, not because they really have anything good to contribute to a real conversation, but just to connect. And sometimes the words people blurt out just to have something to say can be hurtful and insensitive and not positive or uplifting at all.

This verse was in my Bible reading this morning. I’m reading through the book of Proverbs, one chapter a day in the month of January, and it made me think about that post.

Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
Proverbs 16:24

I want to teach my kids how important it is to speak kindly to people, no matter what the circumstance, because words really can sting and the negative and thoughtless things we say stick with people and can cause damage.

I jotted this verse in my quotes+verses notebook today. I’ve been glancing through that little notebook every day just reading through the things I’ve written so far. Hopefully, these words will really stick with me and become a part of who I am and help me be a more positive, kind person as well.

Have a wonderful weekend!

hello, monday


Welcome to 2015! It’s been a nice couple weeks off with Jake and the kids, but I’m excited to be back, to get back into our routine, and set some goals for the year. So many of the blogs I read are sharing their plans/goals/resolutions for the new year and I love that. I’m inspired by those posts. And it makes me want to share more here.

A week or two before the year ended, I was trying to decide what I could do daily that would be in line with my One Little Word – learn. It would be awesome to just spend every day learning a new kind of craft or hobby, but that’s not really doable. One of my goals this year is to spend more time in the Bible and I’ve started off great. I’m using the She Reads Truth app’s “The Bible In A Year” plan to finally read through the entire Bible. (I started it a couple years ago, trying to read it straight through, but got stuck in Jeremiah and never finished!) I’m also studying the book of John along with the She Reads Truth girls (Can you tell I love them?) and reading a Proverb a day prompted by my friend Anita this month. A very good way to start out 2015.

Many months ago, I bought this notebook (above) at Target, but it’s so cute that I just hated to use it. It’s been sitting on my desk, begging to be written in. As I’m reading through these Bible passages and reading my favorite blogs daily, I always come across verses or quotes that I love. So my little notebook now has a purpose. It will be the home for one favorite verse or quote per day. Writing things down always helps the mind remember them better, so this will be a perfect way for me to take these special passages and let them sink in.

I’m thinking I might want to do something with them, like print some out for my Project Life album or have a hard bound book made with my favorites or something. Just mulling that over for now.

Since I haven’t been around here yet this year, I haven’t shared any of the verses/quotes yet. I may end up sharing them daily on Instagram instead of an entire post for a quote, unless I have something more I want to say. But for today, here are the first five.

January 1
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
– Proverbs 1:7

January 2
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
– John 1:1

January 3 – I love this one!
The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
– John 3:8

January 4 – This is one of my favorite verses and I cling to it a lot in my life.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.
– Proverbs 3:5-6

January 5
Better to write for yourself and have no public,
then to write for the public and have no self.
– Cyril Connolly

Read this quote today on Emily Freeman’s wonderful blog post and really liked it, then Googled Cyril Connolly because I had never heard of him before. As part of my year of learning, I thought I should at least know a little bit about him. (He was a literary critic, writer and editor.) :)

one little word 2015

When I think back on my one little word for 2014 – OPEN, I feel like it has been a good word for me this year. I’ve been (tried to be) open to what God wanted to show me this year. I’ve been studying the Bible more (the She Reads Truth site has helped so much with that) and really taking everything to heart. I opened up and got over my fears and insecurities enough to share my book with family, then published it and shared it with the world, which was terrifying. I’ve been a little more open-minded (a teeny tiny bit … this needs work), opened up my heart some more for healing, and been open to new things, new ideas, new people.

At the same time, there were not so happy things about my word as well. When you open yourself up, sometimes it hurts or can bring pain if you allow it to. And I did at times. I let old ways, old feelings, and old pain affect me and my mood and the way I functioned as a wife and mother and writer. I wouldn’t say that it was really a bad thing, though. I did learn more about myself as the months went along. But some days I was just in awe of how God still loves me even when I have to be taught the same lessons over and over and over again. It’s got to be so frustrating for Him to deal with me sometimes. ;)

Overall, I’m happy I chose “open” and I want to continue to let that word be a part of who I am.

I’ve had my word for 2015 stuck in my head for months now. Seriously since the fall.

Project Life® card from the digital Dazzle mini kit

learn
definitions: to gain knowledge or understanding of or skill in something by study, experience, or instruction. to hear or be told something. to find out.

synonyms: get, master, pick up, get the hang of. ;)

Back in September or October, I made a long list of things I want to learn. Quilting. Calligraphy. Sewing. Book binding. Letterpress. Watercolor painting. A bunch of fun crafty things. And lots of people and topics I’d like to learn more about. Former presidents. More history of Biblical times. Fascinating people. Books I’d like to read. Movies I’d like to see. As I get older, more and more things interest me and that thirst for knowledge that just wasn’t there in my younger years is alive and well now that I’m in my early 40’s.

So what I hope to accomplish with my word this year is to learn at least three things from my list of crafty skills and to read a few biographies (not sure of who yet) and older classic books I’ve never read. I’m not going to make a list a mile long of things I want to learn because I know that’s just setting myself up for failure, but I think just a few is totally doable. We shall see. I’ll be posting about them here on the BLOG under the category in the archives – one little word.

What’s your ONE LITTLE WORD this year? Leave a comment below! :)

the first snow day


Today is the first snow day of this school year. Last winter, we had so many snow days that the kids’ school year was extended into the middle of June. I’m praying that doesn’t happen again this year because that was not fun at all. Not that I mind a snow day now and then. To keep a positive attitude about this, I made a list of some good things about our snow day:

SLEEPING IN. Yes! I didn’t roll out of bed until 10 this morning and that was a blessing for sure. The kids got up a little later than me even. ;)

WORKING FROM HOME. It’s already a blessing for me to be able to work from home, but Jake was able to stay off the roads today and work from home, too. Technology is wonderful and he’s able to hook up to the office and still attend his conference call meetings from the safety of our house.

PJ’s and NO MAKEUP. I’m actually not in my PJ’s. I’m in jeans and a sweatshirt and cozy slippers today. It’s nice to not have to put on makeup or do my hair to go out. Chloe, however, is all dressed with her hair done. She also applied eyeshadow, mascara and lipgloss just for fun ’cause she’s not allowed to wear makeup yet.

BEING INSIDE. I am so thankful I don’t have to go out in the cold today. Temps are in the teens and it’s so nice to be able to stay in our cozy house and not have to go anywhere. Jake and Zach are going out in a little while to snow blow the driveway. Have fun, boys!

NO PLANS. Tuesday is already our family night, when everyone is home, no practices or youth group or library study sessions or other after school activities. It’s one of my favorite nights of the week. The night I don’t have to run the kids all over the place. So to have a snow day on a Tuesday … AWESOME!!!

It seems so weird to have half a foot of snow on the ground already. It’s not even Thanksgiving or officially winter yet. Last winter was a hard time for a lot of reasons, but I think I also get a little touch of the “winter blues” and I thought it would never end last year.

Several times this past week, I heard or read someone say, “Happiness is a choice we make.” You can choose to be happy in every circumstance and dwell on the positives or you can think about the bad side of things and be miserable.

Trying to start off the season with good, happy thoughts this year. I know it will help.

keep running


Image ©She Reads Truth

Great post by Amanda over at She Reads Truth today!

She said FAITH is a long distance race. Not a 5k. I like that. Whenever I face my day and say, “OK, God, what do you want to show me today?”, he gives me something like this. I’m thinking about the race today. The road is long and stretched out before us. It goes on for miles and miles and miles. It’s a journey, not a sprint. And it can be rough. Some days I’m on the edge of the road bent over with a cramp in my side. I tried to run too fast, racing to quickly get where I wanted to go, but I should have slowed down. Slow and steady. I missed so much in that sprint toward my own plans and desires. I tried to get there on my own. Jesus was holding out a cup of water for me and I ran right past him. And I ended up in pain.

Fixing our eyes on Jesus. Yes! I like the King James Version of these verses, too. Looking unto Jesus. Focusing on Him to help us through the race. The best running coach ever. ;)

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
Hebrews 12:1-2

Just keep running.

writing is healing


I downloaded an ebook this morning called “Writing to Find Yourself” by Allison Vesterfelt. It is available for FREE over at Noisetrade right now. It’s all about finding yourself, your voice, through writing.

It’s been a few weeks since I touched my latest work in progress. I’ve barely stopped long enough to write out what’s been happening in our days let alone to write anything “deep”. Maybe it’s because July was a busy month. Maybe it’s because I was sick and didn’t feel up to it. Or maybe it’s because the last chapter I worked on was an emotional one. It dredged things up that hurt, and I was sick and tired of remembering.

Writing helps to heal old wounds. I know that. It is cheap therapy, as Allison says in her book.

Maybe I’m just afraid. Because I will learn things about myself that I would rather not. I’ll face all the things I never dealt with and I’d much rather they stay locked away.

But I know to find my real voice and tell my stories, God wants me to open up. There is no growth if you don’t.

So I will write.

To heal.

To grow.

For me.

just be you


I was all ready to post some pictures of my weekend for my “Hello, Monday” post, but I stopped by She Reads Truth this morning and read this:

“You can come to Him as your full self today — not your half self, your filtered and edited self, not the cleaned up version you want the outside world to see. You may think you have to be someone else for them, but with Jesus you only have to be you.”
Amanda at She Reads Truth

I needed that. To remember that Jesus knows me. He knows all my weaknesses and what’s deep down in my heart. He knows my thoughts and feelings. And he understands, because He knows what a human existence is like. He lived it.

So I don’t have to be afraid to spill it all with Him. All my doubts and insecurities, my hurts, my wrongs. Because He loves me no matter what. I don’t have to hold anything back or filter my words for fear of hurting feelings or trying to be someone I think I’m supposed to be.

He knows me. The real me. And I don’t have to be anyone else.

That’s so comforting. And humbling at the same time.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grade with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:15-16

AJAXed with AWP