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[Monday Randomness]

I don't know about you, but I'm a jumbled mess on Mondays. So here's some randomness for you. 

- Some of the most amazing people in the world are single parents. Whew. I just did four days without my better half and they were the busiest days we have had in a loooong time. Single parents, you are heroes! And I'm praying for extra strength and stamina and love to flood your life.  

 

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 - Has anyone else's kids found Full House on Netflix? Check out that Uncle Jessie hair and Elvis face ⤴️

- our job allows us a lot of flexibility. We office a ton at our local Starbucks. Somehow getting out of the house for emails, reports, and paperwork makes one more productive. Not to mention, we LOVE our Starbucks baristas. They are part of our family. Here's my view today: 

 

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- The oldest Christmas market in our country is right outside that window. Christmas time here is magical. 

- working with my love is hilarious and the amount of caffeine we consume is crazy!  

 

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- when my husband speaks to large crowds of people, he likes to take a group selfie. Never a dull moment with that one. 

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- waking up on Monday morning to deal with life in a foreign language is just rude. There I said it! But, now that I've had my coffee and have my cowgirl boots on, I'm dealing better.  

Go drink your coffee, put on your boots, and let's rock this jumbled mess Monday! 

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[not the same]

Morning school rush...give thanks.  

Sandwiches for lunch...give thanks.  

Family on the other side of the world...give thanks.  

Rushing to dance class, everyone in tow...give thanks.  

Every store open. People everywhere...give thanks.  

Frozen pizza for dinner...give thanks.  

Going bedtime alone...give thanks. 

I won't sugar coat it. Homesickness and loneliness are real feelings that flood my heart on holidays and threaten to steal any joy I could find. Maybe for you its heartbreak, or mourning.

Yes, I will miss you today, my sweet family!  I'll miss how loud you are, and how good the food smells and tastes, the dessert table, the hugs, the lingering at the table long after we could eat another bite. But, know that your love crosses the ocean, even when hearts ache and arms long to hold each other tight.

Today, here's what I'm thankful for: while my emotions will be all over the place, I'm glad that Jesus is in the business of making hearts whole, and I'm counting on Him to do that for me and you today. He's big enough to handle everything that we are feeling and wants to! So, give Him all the pieces of your heart and look for those gifts around you, straight from Him to you.

While my day will look NOTHING like yours, here's the better spin on my day:

Kids happily rushing out the door to school...give thanks.  

No dishes at lunch...give thanks.  

Feeling so much love from so far away...give thanks.  

Kids happily hopping on the tram to take sister to dance...give thanks.  

Being able to pop in the grocery store and buy something I forgot...give thanks.  

Quick, warm dinner on a cold night...give thanks.  

Sweet, slobbery goodnight kisses and giggles...give thanks.  

Happy Thanksgiving from our crew to yours!

 

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[not so "Hallmark" like...at all!]

This past weekend the hubs hosted and trained some believers with the help of a colleague = mommy and kids time. The kids have been begging to decorate for Christmas. It's getting darker and darker by the day. Days disappearing to only a few short hours of sunlight...or cloudiness a day. So twinkling lights and candles? Yes, kids! Let's decorate. 

I promised the kids we could while Daddy was gone and then have everything ready for him when he got home. My little worker bees got busy. 

I love to freeze a moment in my brain with my camera. I snapped this sweet little picture because I wanted to remember.  

 

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Later that night, when the kids had surprised their Daddy with Christmas coziness, and were all tucked in bed, a dear friend texted to check on me. Here's a snippet of our conversation... 

 

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Nothing about life is perfect. No one's life is always what it seems in pictures. Don't buy that lie. Our day was faaaaaaaaar from being "Hallmark" like, but I take pictures of these tiny gifts in life that I want seared into my memory. I want to remember: 

- her tiny chubby hand and the soft patient voice her big sister uses to teach her

- the twinkle of the lights in the glowing eyes of four kids

- the wows and ooohs and aaaaahs when we were done

But when I look at that picture above, I'll most likely also remember:

- the punches thrown between brothers and ornament hanging  

- the toddler yelling "habe" which means give it to me or I want it!! 

- the way the biggest sister shook her head and rolled her eyes.   

- how the boys wrestled and almost took the tree out twice  

- how imperfect the tree is decorated. (I haven't moved one ornament. It's beautiful in their eyes and so it is in mine too) 

We were together with the people we love most. Not Hallmark. More like the cast of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" and I don't want anything else. I love my little Herdmans. 

I have learned to embrace my crazy. It's not always going to be like this. I won't always be at home alone with littles. I'm not always patient. I don't always speak in a calm, kind voice. I don't handle my crazy perfect. But I love my crazy and they love me back.  

So, next time you see a picture of mine, know that there is most likely always a crazy, wild, hilarious story behind it.

Embrace your crazy and go live a full, NOT "Hallmark" life!

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[words]

Lately, I've been asked why I'm not writing anymore. There have been many reasons, but  it all boils down to this: words.  

Words.

They undo me. I can be anywhere and be reading and can have my feelings flowing down my face as I'm swooped away to another world and can feel all the sadness or happiness of a character in a book. They get right to what my heart wants to say but couldn't figure out how.

They put me back together. There is nothing in the world like encouragement and kindness. When people use their words for good it causes ripples of change all around them. I love reading about other people's lives. Their self descriptions can be so movingly perfect for what I'm also walking through that the words wash over me and my souls begins to brighten. Yes! There's someone else out there that knows and feels like I do.

Then there are holy words that heal your soul, those dark, hurt corners in your heart that no one can see. Divine words that can only do what they do because of the power behind them and Who has spoken them. Timeless words that come alive to every reader.

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But, to write words...one must be able to follow a thought all the way to the end. To see it through. To complete it. To make it make sense. This can be a scary thing. Because let's face it, we don't always want to deal.

I'll never forget my high school English teacher saying that your thoughts are not clear unless you can write them out. so here I am. My thoughts a muddled mess, but realizing that writing these words is almost as necessary as breathing at times. My thoughts need to be clearer.

Words. They have power. They can rip someone apart in seconds. They can put them back together. They can lift someone up. I'm realizing the power of my words and my burning desire to be a change in the world.  

So, here I am back in my little space. Ignoring words no longer.  Making sense of my thoughts instead of avoiding them. Facing realities. Wanting to use my words for good.  

Welcome back. Go forth! Use your words for good. 

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[Jesus Wins]

I can't believe my last post was in Februray. Continuing the thought of being practical...it became practical not to keep writing. This blog fell down to the bottom of the list.  

I'm thankful that most of life comes in seasons. What I mean is - most likely what's happening in life right now is not going to last forever.  

It has been a season. I personally had a few months of sickness in the spring. And then a season of the heart came. It was hard. It was sad. It was hard. The easy thing about following God is that there are times it is so clear what He wants you to do with your life that it's so easy to follow. We are thankful that has been our case. We don't doubt His plan. But there are times in life when other voices do doubt and do not approve and are vocal. (Jesus said this would happen) 

Its been a season of tearing down. Its been a season of searching. It's been a season of learning to trust through the really hard. It's been a season with surprising new encouragement. It's been a season of refreshment. 

Most of all - it's been a season of healing. We have learned that, just like He promised, Jesus wins. Love covers a multitude of sins. He promises not to forget or forsake you and He won't! Jesus wins.  

So, if you are walking (or crawling) through a season like that. Don't for a second think you are alone. You're not. He knows and hasn't forgotten you! 

I believe everyone's heart has a song at certain times. Here has been mine. I hope you find it bursting full of God's promises to you and that you choose to believe He is for you.  

 

 

"Sovereign Over Us"

Michael W. Smith

There is strength within the sorrow

There is beauty in our tears

And You meet us in our mourning

With a love that casts out fear

You are working in our waiting

You're sanctifying us

When beyond our understanding

You're teaching us to trust

 

Your plans are still to prosper

You have not forgotten us

You're with us in the fire and the flood

You're faithful forever

Perfect in love

You are sovereign over us

 

You are wisdom unimagined

Who could understand Your ways

Reigning high above the Heavens

Reaching down in endless grace

You're the lifter of the lowly

Compassionate and kind

You surround and You uphold me

And Your promises are my delight

 

Even what the enemy means for evil

You turn it for our good

You turn it for our good and for Your glory

Even in the valley, You are faithful

You're working for our good

You're working for our good and for Your glory

 

Keep listening to HIS voice and no others. Trust Him for His plan for your life. Remember through it all that Jesus wins. He wins over broken hearts. He wins over plans and ideas of men. He wins and conquers sin. He fights for us and He wins.  

 

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[practical]

I know there are people that love to dwell in higher realms of theory and discuss how things could be if only people did X. I am NOT one of those people. At all.

In all honesty, if it doesn't affect how I live my life...I don't have time for it!

I just really don't have time for the what if's and the "in a perfect world" conversations. If it doesn't affect my every day life, I soon become bored and lose interest. I like cold hard facts. I like to see proof.

So, I love how to's. I love recipes with pictures and ratings. I love to read about solutions to problems.

I hate books about parenting theories. You know, the ones that provide ways "to think" and what "state of mind" you should be in when your child is melting in a puddle on the floor having a fit. I'm sorry for those of you that love that stuff, but it helps me zilch to know how I can best help my kid in that moment.

I guess what I'm saying is I'm a A+B=C kind of girl.

As a result...

...I love God's promises. They are always true! Sure, I don't always know how they are going to flesh out in my life, but I know He can never go back on his Word.

....My husband calls me his Tinker. If something is broken, I can't stand it. I will google, YouTube, or whatever necessary to figure out how to fix something, or see if it can be repaired. If its broken, it has no practical use.

...I try my best to help prepare my kids for what they could possibly face. Give them skills to work through problems. Help them think out responses to questions or situations. We practice scenarios.

...It sometimes backfires on me. If I can't see that the outcome is going to equal C, then I get nervous or drag my feet. Even wishing sometimes I could control the situation. All of the above = NOT good. God and I talk about this one a lot. He's always right. I can trust him. Every time!

...I like to cut right to the chase - to the meat of the matter. It doesn't take me long to speak of heart issues. Surface conversations, although sometimes necessary, can drive me crazy. Let's get it out on the table and talk about it and see how we can help each other or ask God to help us.

What's funny is that on the flip side, I love being creative. I love the process. I love wondering the outcome of a project. I make music. I rarely play the just the notes on the page. (Much to my college professors' chagrin). It feeds my soul.

I'm learning to be comfortable in my skin. To acknowledge how God has made me. To better my strengths. To grow in my weaknesses, but not let them crush me. I'm becoming ok with the fact that I am just not good at some things. But, I've also learned that just because I may have a label: i.e. practical... it can be sinful to find comfort and stay there. God has shown me time and time again to be willing to trust him and go on the journey with Him, is where the excitement is. Its where I am changed. I become better. I change.

Don't let your strengths hold you captive. Listen to that still, small voice, His voice. Be willing to grow and change. Is it scary? YES! Is it hard? YES! Is it worth it? YES! Trust Him.

 

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[a few of my favorite things no. 4]

Blurry pictures. Blurry week.

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Our week started off with a bang with this guy needing a trip to the ER. A list of meds later: Bronchitis. And he's breathing much easier. I'm not good when my babies can't breath! And his thoughts on his meds: "my medicine tastes like toots." There you have it.

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Sometimes snot just wakes you up and your hair is crazy from having a high pony all day. This girl is a great sleeper! So, I really enjoyed the middle of the night cuddle party.

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I got to spend my Friday with these handsomes. All day at home. Exactly what I needed after this week. Whew.

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And sometimes, you just need to do overhead squats.  No weights around? No problem. Just grab a kid.

Hope you have a relaxing weekend!

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[finding beauty no.1]

A while back, I invited you to come on  a journey with me. My journey of finding beauty. My journey of making house a home.

So a journey isn't really a journey unless you know where you began, right? Let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we?

I've lived in 8 different homes in my 8.5 years of marriage. ONE of those homes was our very own. The others have ranged from furnished housing, to once again owning our own things. It has been a wild ride! Just for fun, I thought I would show you a glimpse of the beginning of my beauty journey in our current home.

When we moved here, we had a completely EMPTY apartment. Empty as in no light fixtures, sleeping on the floor empty. We did have a kitchen already in the apartment (which isn't very normal for where we live), and we were excited about that! We took many trips to ikea on a tram, then bus, then reverse and repeat but add our purchases, that we could carry, and three kids! We had to wait on our shipping crate with some of our things to come before we could get the ball rolling on furnishing our home. Talk about a blank slate.

Blank - it has been overwhelming and freeing. After a million different colored rooms, a camouflage rose couch (Use your imagination. It is as bad as it sounds), a bright yellow pleather couch against peach walls, and 90's plaid - white is so refreshing. I love white. I loved the emptiness of it all. I loved the possibilities it brought. Whew, but man, its been overwhelming at the same time.

It was time to find out on my own what I thought was beautiful. What we as a family thought was beautiful. To create beauty together.  This is our beginning of our journey in our current home and its not even close to being over.

Thanks for joining!

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[a few of my favorite things no.3]

Some weeks I just have no extra words. No creativity. Nothing to write about. Those weeks are usually the busy ones, like this past week.  

Its been fun sharing my favorite things from my week on Fridays, but ah, alas, here is the Saturday edition.  

 

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Got to spend some extra time with my baby boy this week. Here he is with his first coffee from "the coffe shop." It was such a great moment. He absolutely loved it and kept the cup as proof for his big brother and sister. Ha! 

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The littles and how they love each other melts my heart. His was the first sibling name that she said. They are going to be great friends.  

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My husband loves a good workout...me too, ummm but not as much as he does! Our kids love to work out with us. And so it begins: working in their form already.  

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A slow breakfast with collegues (and friends!), lots and lots of coffee, catching up, planning ahead, and watching the snow fall.  

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I used to be a teacher. And I remember Fridays. I'm a firm believer they should be celebrated. So we made huge chocolate chocolate chip cookies for the kids' teachers. It was so fun to watch their faces as the kids gave them their cookies.  

A busy week with lots of action and not so many words. Life is just like that sometimes. Hope you found some gifts from the Father around your world this week! 

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[give yourself a break]

That's what I've been up to this week.

Standards are great. Goals to achieve are wonderful. To do lists can help keep you focused. But sometimes we are just too hard on ourselves. So what if you didn't get to cross everything off your list today? Did the world stop? Sometimes we don't stop to listen to our bodies when they are screaming for relief. Maybe that nap you thought about today would have served everyone around you a lot better than forcing yourself awake to answer the piled up emails? Slangry (sleepy + angry) is not good for anyone. Does everything really need to be done to absolute perfection? Are there something's you can just let go? Are some things just simply out of your control?

Stress induced shingles. They were my signal to STOP this week. So that to do list? I erased it. I gave myself a break. I'm talking pajamas, couch, pinterest and Netflix. I let my husband take over. I also let him buy me espresso chocolate and Dr. Pepper - my favorites. I've had the cutest little nurses whose kisses have a healing touch. I had time to think about my priorities. I revamped my goals. I scratched the non essentials off my list. 

My point: what's in your head and heart will somehow make it to the surface. If there's nothing but stress inside, the results are never going to be good. Trust me. 

Give yourself a break. I'm giving you permission to make it a priority.  Don't be so hard on yourself. 

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[a few of my favorite things no. 2]

While I actually had quite a few NOT favorite things of the week, here are a few of my favorites:

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Beardless kisses. It's been almost two years. Need I say more?

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A street musician with...flair? Not sure, but made me laugh. 

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Candlelight dinners with my family, for any reason or no reason at all. Sandwiches? Light the candles! Special dinner? Light the candles! It's how we celebrate being together. I love it. 

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[a few of my favorite things]

Some things in life make you happy...just because. I think the "just because," is just because God knew they would make you happy. A good father does that, right? Knows His child so well that even His gift giving is tailored to what His child likes, even in the small things. (Like my Dad who knows my love for puffy Cheetos and how if I'm carsick, they always do the trick!) Life is full of gifts. Look around you. I'm sure you can find a few.

Here are a few of my happies this week, pictures snapped with my phone. A few of my favorite things. 

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Let's face it - having four kids, you go through lots of paper products. They might as well be cute, right? Napkins waaaayyyy on clearance! Now wiping up spills and cleaning hands and faces will be cuter in our household...for about a week. 

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It's dark and blurry from bedtime. Big discussions with this little guy about everything to do with his princess that he will marry one day. After being disappointed at finding out his grandmothers were already taken, he decided that this is how he will smile at his princess one day. Melt. My. Heart. 

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Sometimes you just feel like a culinary genius. Ha!! Not! But this week it dawned on me that if I cut up the frozen garlic butter bread I had bought, cranked up the heat one the oven, and stirred a few times as the butter melted--- ouila!! Croutons. No hassle croutons. They went great with our ceasar salad kick this week. (In other news....when in Europe and you buy Dijon mustard, it comes straight from France. It will burn your face off. Spicy! Resulting in spicy ceasar dressing. See? Culinary genius. Yikes!)

 

Happy Friday! You made it through the week. That was fun. Shall we do it again next Friday? Ok! See you then.  

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[thoughts on the new year]

While everyone is thinking about the new year, I thought I'd throw my two cents in too.

Many people have a word, a phrase, a list of resolutions and goal. It seems that's all anyone is talking about this time of year and IT STRESSES ME OUT! Anybody with me?

To concentrate on so many things that need to be fixed, makes me feel like quitting before I begin.

One theme I see over and over again in all the New Year talk is: Take Risks!

risk: to put yourself out there; to try something new; to do something without knowing the outcome; to face your fears (my definition) 

This makes me laugh, really. When you become an expat, you have two choices. One - make everything around you just like it was at "home" and never enjoy reality and life that is actually happening around you. Two - dive in, throw open you heart, change, live where you are planted. If you choose the second way of expat living, then your life is full of risks. I laughed at this goal, because it was more of a description of my life, than a goal.

You see, everything in my life is taking a risk. Trying your best to speak a foreign language, sending your kids to national schools, learning new traditions, trying new foods, building relationships, even sometimes just simply grocery shopping. All of these things have an aspect of risk in them.

Would I trade my life for another one? NO WAY! So while I too have a list of things I want to improve on, my heart needs stilling even more. A refuge from all the risks. A place to breathe.

I guess I do have a word after all:

THANKFUL

That's my goal for this year. When I let my heart see, there's much to be thankful for. When I open my eyes to God's gifts around me, in the middle of each risk I take, I'll be able to feel Him with me.

Happy New Year. Hope its your best so far!

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[ode to December]

Dear December,

You just about killed me. That is all.

Sincerely,

Amy

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December was exhausting. We had a million and one parties to go to.  With four kids, the parties add up quick. It seems we had more than one event every day. By the time school was out, I wanted nothing more than pajamas, and cuddles, and movies.

It wasn't just our schedule that wore me out. It seems that December just has the ability to do that. There is so much wrapped up in that last month of the year. So much of the heart: there's much to celebrate, lots to grieve, so much yummy, feelings of loneliness, lots of laughter, followed by tears, good, hard, ugly, and beautiful. I remember asking my mom on the phone one day, "why can't Christmas just be fun?" There's so much fun, and we had it, but in my heart this year there was much more.

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I read a blog post about how life as an expat is like always having a low grade fever that sometimes spikes. December spikes my fever. December brings lots of memories...family we are not with, fun Christmases with just our little family, that one Christmas before our first international move, wonderful childhood Christmases, listening to the funeral of my grandfather on the phone because I couldn't be there, wonderful gifts given from hearts full of love, traditions - old and new, magic in the eyes of my kids, visitors at Christmastime, special sweet time with my man. It brings so many emotions...grief, glee, happiness, sadness, love, loneliness, closeness, excitement. Its just a roller coaster ride!!

Now, please don't get me wrong.  We had a wonderful Christmas time with our family. Our house was full every Sunday with wonderful friends, celebrating the Advent season with us. We had yummy treats, went on dates with each of my kids, and went to the oldest Christmas market in our country. Two of my kids really got it this year - what Christmas is all about. It really was magical.

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But that's the thing about the heart. It can feel so much at once, and you don't know when it will hit you.

So, as I sat there on Christmas morning, watching the magic in the eyes of my family it hit me. I don't have to keep it all together because Jesus came -- right into the midst of the pieces of my heart and He holds them all together, because He loves me and wants to. That's what Jesus came to do -- heal our broken hearts, and hold them together with his love when they break again. I decided that its only right to feel the way I did this December. Its an appropriate month to feel torn apart, because that's when we celebrate being put back together and finding our way back to Him!

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As I'm coming out of my pajama coma (Yes, I'm back to wearing real clothes again), my body feels more rested, the calendar is filling up, and the world is fresh with the wonder of a new year. I feel deep down in my soul a love that fills every crack in my heart and holds the pieces together. I feel it begin to rise up...HOPE. Hope has come and lives inside of me. See you next year, December.

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[Jesus touched sick people]

I have a story teller in my crowd. He commands attention with a loud "hey guys!!" And they all turn to listen. 

Huge hand gestures. Bright eyes. Faces that match the emotions. Scenes acted out. And laughter ensues. There's nothing like a good story. Stories make memories. Stories move hearts.  

Sometimes when I'm cuddling my babes, I whisper big things in their ears. I tell them what I'm praying for them. I call out God in their little lives, in hopes they too can see that He loves them and has a plan for them. I whisper in the story teller's ear that I just know one day he will be a God story teller. He smiles big and nods his head.  

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This morning I asked the kids what they wanted to thank God for. It's time to put leaves on our thankful tree. His little scratchy morning voice said "I want to thank God that Jesus touched sick people." His eyes sparkled. He wanted to learn a God story, so he's been practicing. He's so excited to tell about when Jesus healed a lady that had been sick for years on his way to raise a little girl from the dead. 

"Jesus touched sick people." I think his little heart gets it. Oh! I pray one day he fully understands.  

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Jesus was never scared of the sick, the broken, the cheaters, the liars, the scared, the crippled, the prideful. Those were his companions. He wasn't scared of them. He didn't think they weren't good enough for him. He didn't snub them and say he didn't have time. 

Jesus clearly didn't keep company with the perfect. So why do we sometimes think that's the case now? He hasn't changed. 

I'm so glad he still touches sick people. I don't have to have my act together before I can come to him. I'm glad he reaches down and heals my broken heart. He heals my sickness. He cares when I'm broken. He knows when I cry. This floods my heart with hope. 

Jesus touches sick people. I'm glad too, little buddy.  

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[warm and cozy]

The temperature has begun to drop here. It's been a lovely fall. Beautiful, perfect weather and not too cold yet. But it's coming. 

As the days grow shorter, we get cuddlier and it's time to get cozier inside. While I dream of a warm fire, my new woodsy pillow will just have to do. 

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I think it's sometimes hilarious that God would have this cold natured girl from Texas live in such a cold place, but I wouldn't trade long, dark evenings, candles, and cuddles with the people I love. Tiny arms around your neck, fun and laughter with friends, warm, delicious foods, life shared together. These are gifts, warm and cozy. 

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[finishing strong]

I'm a Texas girl that really never experienced true Fall until I moved to Europe

and ...

I'm in love.

Boots. Scarves. Jackets. Sweaters. Warm Coffee. And beautiful colors of leaves all around.

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I was a little sad that I was walking through these leaves. The trees have been beautiful. Soon there will be no leaves and no color.

I find it amazing that God decided that right before leaves fall to their death, they explode into beautiful vibrant colors that stop everyone in their tracks. Show stoppers. Giving everyone that can see true delight. They finish strong!

I've been doing some self evaluating lately and I have come to realize that I have more ideas in my head than actually ever get accomplished. Today as I was kicking my way through leaves everywhere I went (which today seemed like a few miles, which means there were a ton of leaves), "finish strong, finish strong," kept coursing through my mind.

Just looking around, those leaves gave it all they had and were done.

But I think the beauty in finishing strong is just like the leaves. They accomplished what they were created for and when Spring comes, they get another chance. A new job - to thrill us with green after months of drab, dark Winter.

Finishing strong makes room for starting again. For new and different. For hard. For exciting. For fun. For the chance to keep doing what I was created for.

So, whatever you are facing. Give it all you've got. Explode with all the colors God gave you. Finish strong! There's new and different waiting for us on the other side and there's a chance to walk with our Creator through it all.

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[boogers on my couch]

I had made it. If you didn't know, the race between after supper and bedtime can be a marathon. This night I was not crossing the finish line in a sprint. I crawled across...right to the couch. I needed to be horizontal.

This is the time of day I lay there thinking of all the things I should probably be doing to get ready for the next day. Keying in on the word should. But I can't move. I just finished a marathon.

Until I felt something scratchy against my arm. I turned my head to see what in the world....?

It was one of those moments that either make you want to scream from the "I can't believe this is my life-ness," or die laughing from the "I can't believe this is my life-ness" of it all.

Boogers. On my couch. Boogers. I repeat. Stuck to my couch. In a perfectly, not perfect pattern. Scattered all around. Scratching my arm. In my post marathon state.

As I remained horizontal, looking at this scratchy booger art, I'm not gonna lie. I cried a little.

Then I began to laugh and ponder life without boogers.

Life without the smells that those sweet little booger artists bring. And the squeals those smells bring.

Life without the "I'm hungry's," the balls flying at me head (my reflexes have greatly improved), without the boy explosions, without the kisses, and tiny strong arms around my neck.

You see, that wouldn't be my life at all. Life without boogers on my couch wouldn't be life at all.

There is nothing in the world like being a mom to boys. It's wild. It's loud. It's hard. It's fun.

I. Love. It.

And don't worry, I routinely check the couch and keep it clean...

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[unexpected mountains]

Good intentions. That's what I had to get back to this little space of mine. But sometimes life throws you some unexpected mountains to climb.

Here's my mountain this week: Mt. Laundry

Half the family was taken out by a nasty stomach bug this week, while the smallest of our crowd is teething and fighting an ear infection.

Despite the lack of sleep (and intended blogging), I have really enjoyed the sweet cuddles this week has brought. I'm thankful that all of this hit during a school break. So, we hunkered down, cuddled hard, watched some movies, and did lots of laundry.

I find unexpected mountains easier to climb when I look around and see the good things that come with them.

Do you look for the good things around you?

Sometimes it can take a lot of searching. But, Look! They are there. Little gifts from God, waiting for you to find.

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[i'm back]

Our last days have been filled with so much love our hearts could burst! To say we loved the last 14 days would be an understatement. We soaked up every hug, touch, laugh, and ounce of fun.

My parents were here for two great weeks. We see each other one time a year - max. This is the third time they have visited us abroad and the first time that I was not hugely pregnant and waiting on a sweet baby. So, this time, we got to DO STUFF! Lots of fun stuff and really show them our city. We were on GO! (and I think we are all feeling it now). It was so worth all the late nights and full days. Because our time together is so few and far between, it is very special to us. We try to squeeze in as much as we can, talk about everything we can think of, and get and give as many hugs and kisses as possible.

So, I hope you'll excuse my absence. I'm back. Back at it. Thanks for hanging in there.

Thanks Pappa and Gram for visiting, loving us, and all the laundry, dishes, and bedtime duty you did. You are brave adventurers. Thank you for trusting God with us. We are proud to be yours! (now, get some rest!)

Do you get to spend much time with your family? What is your favorite thing to do together?

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