Thursday, May 30, 2013

Support Team

Yesterday Leah had to have some dental work done. Remember when I told you about the abscess on her tooth? Well, she finished her antibiotic and it was time for the tooth to come out. Even though it was a baby tooth, it was a molar and required a bit of tugging and twisting to get it out. Leah was nervous. We prayed together in the car before we went in, and to my heart's delight her sister and brother provided a great support system. They were both concerned for her and offered to hold her hand. Lucas kept patting Leah's leg saying. "You're doing good, Sister!"

The bad news is that she has to have two more teeth out next week. The poor girl has inherited my teeny-tiny mouth. We already have an appointment with an orthodontist this summer. I think we are in for a long ride with her! 

How do you comfort your kids when they are scared? Especially when they are scared about something that will cause a bit of discomfort, but you know it has to be done. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Recital to Remember

 Hannah posing for a pic after the recital

Hannah's first piano recital was held a little over a week ago, on May 19th. There were storms brewing the in atmosphere outside. It was hot, muggy and ripe for severe weather. Everyone was on alert, but when we arrived at the church where the recital was held, it was bright and sunny out. No worries.

Hannah was excited to play her piece that she had worked so hard on all year. She knew the students were placed in random order and she was 24th of 26 students to play. Soon everyone was in their seats, surrounded by parents and grandparents and friends. Our piano teacher said a few words of welcome, and the first student came up to play. Things continued along without a hitch, but somewhere around the 15th student, the skylights at the top of the building let us know that clouds had moved in. Soon we heard the soft plink, plink of rainfall. A few more students played and then the thunder began to rumble, louder and louder it got. The rain picked up significantly, but the recital marched on. One of the dads in the audience was keeping tabs on the weather on his phone, so I knew we were okay.

Finally, the high school aged girl right before Hannah on the program list was playing her song when the tornado sirens started blaring. Our piano teacher calmly stood up and stopped the young lady in the middle of her song and announced that we would all need to head to safety. Quickly the entire audience moved into the interior hallway of the church. A few younger kids looked near tears, but most everyone was checking their phones to see where the bad weather was headed. A funnel cloud was forming a few miles west of us. Lots of people were talking, the mood in the hallway was amped up, electric.

The only thing predictable about the weather here in Oklahoma is its unpredictability. And as soon as the funnel cloud formed, it fizzled out, the wind jumping and moving over us and further north and east into Edmond. Sadly, many neighborhoods there received significant damage. Eventually the storm continued east to the town of Shawnee (a quaint college town 45 minutes east of OKC-- it's where Mike and I lived and attended Oklahoma Baptist University). There, a tornado touched down and caused massive damage to many properties, displacing families and animals and leaving a wake of destruction. 

Breathing a sigh of relief that the storm had moved over us at the recital, we filed back into the auditorium and all returned to our seats. The high school girl who had been stopped mid-song was allowed to come back up and play her song through to the end. Next up was our Hannah. She had endured waiting through 23 other students, plus the chaos of a possible tornado, and now had to sit down and think straight enough to play her song. And she did! She was cool under pressure and played her song just fine. 

Two more students played after Hannah and then a few awards were handed out. As we left the church building heading out to our van in the parking lot, the sun came back out. The sky returned to beautiful bright blue and we headed off to reward our girl (and her patient and supportive sister and brother) with some ice cream.

It was definitely a recital to remember.

 A relieved Hannah holding up some of her awards
A sweet little brother tired of sitting still!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Nap Time

Before I get into today's post, I just want to acknowledge what all has been going on down here in my neck of the woods. I live in the northwest section of Oklahoma City-- right on the border of Edmond (a northern suburb). The tornado that ripped apart miles of homes and buildings on Monday swept through the south side of OKC, mainly hitting the southern suburb of Moore. Moore is about 20 miles from my house and I have been there often. To see such devastation so very close to home is simply heartbreaking. I am planning some posts about this subject for later in the week, after I have had a little more time to process it. In the meantime, my heart is aching for so many, and I am praying for continued peace and comfort for my beloved state. 

Just look at this sweet sleeping face

Today is Hannah and Leah's last day of second grade. Which means it is my last day to enjoy a quiet afternoon. I have been so thankful that Lucas has continued taking rock star naps every day.  He will turn four years old in July and my girls were sooooo over nap time at that age. In fact, I believe their naps were given up right about the time they turned three. Maybe it was the way they were wired (my mom told me I gave up naps at a young age) or maybe it had more to do with getting two three year olds to be still (impossible, I say!).  At any rate, this summer there will be fewer quiet moments around 1:00 to 3:00 each day.

I am trying to come up with a game plan for my summer days. I always go through this phase at the end of the school year. A psych-myself-up/ this-is-going-to-be-awesome-summer phase. I will be organized! I will plan fun activities! I will include education in our days! I will be more consistent with discipline! I will make healthy meals! I think it is the teacher in me that wants to make a lesson plan for the next 100 days to ensure a well rounded summer. By mid-July the plan is usually out the window and we just melt in the super hot, over 100 degree heat. It doesn't hurt to try though!

My summer nap time goals are as follows:

* Realize that not every day will be a nap day. I am going to be flexible so we can include other fun activities like swimming and playing at the park and bowling and going to the zoo.

* When we are home for the afternoon, the girls will spend at least 30 minutes in their room, reading on their beds while Lucas takes a nap. 

* Enjoy a little "me-time" while they are all (hopefully) quiet. I will read a book, drink a glass of lemonade or just sit zombie-like on the couch for a few minutes to let my brain rest a bit.

There. Those aren't impossible goals, right!?

Speaking of nap time, I better go enjoy the last half hour of today's nap right now!

Sunday, May 19, 2013


We had quite a crazy weather day here in Oklahoma. Living here most of my life, I have grown accustomed to spring storms, tornado sirens and ominous clouds. But I am still not accustomed to seeing all the damage these storms leave in their wake. Several tornadoes touched down across our state with Shawnee, our beloved college town, getting the brunt of it. There were many homes destroyed, a few semi-trucks flipped over on the highway, several people hospitalized and one fatality. I just wanted to let you know my family is safe. I will fill you in on our weekend tomorrow, but tonight I am grateful we had no damage. Keep the town of Shawnee in your prayers.

Here is a photo that my friend Jan took tonight at our old church. This was about 15 miles from our home. I think it is breathtaking.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Grapefruit Debate and Other Random Things

Happy Friday, Everyone! I love Fridays. Family Movie Night, pizza for dinner, and going to bed knowing there is no "rush out the door routine" in the morning! Yahoo! In honor of this lovely day of the week, here are my random thoughts on a few things in no particular order. Here we go!

* Grapefruit. Love it or hate it? I have found that people have strong opinions about this fruit. I am in the "Love it" camp. I pretty much love all citrus, but I went through a serious grapefruit phase my freshman year in college. While most freshmen were stocking their dorm room mini-fridges with beer, mine was full of grapefruit juice. I was one wild and crazy girl, I tell ya! I think my craving for the stuff had something to do with a vitamin deficiency in my diet. That year I was pretty much surviving off the cereal bar in the cafeteria. Fruit Loops and Cap'n Crunch do not a well-rounded diet make. Anyway, the best way to eat a grapefruit, however, is the way my mom used to make them for me. I still eat these for breakfast several times a week along with my daily whole wheat toast smeared with heavenly Nutella. Simply cut a grapefruit in half, then run a knife around each segment to loosen them up. Sprinkle with a little brown sugar (or a lot if you are feeling naughty). Place it in a bowl, then pop it in a microwave and nuke for 45 seconds. My method of attack is to spoon out each segment, then squeeze the warm juice into the bowl and drink it up. Yum. If you don't like grapefruit, I am sorry you just spend three minutes of your life reading this paragraph.

This picture makes me laugh. It is a picture of my grapefruit from breakfast this morning. I was trying to be all cool by using my Hipstamatic app on my phone. I realize now that I left the sticker on the darn thing! Haha! So much for being cool!

* Television. Let's discuss a few things here. I don't get to watch much TV around here unless it is My Little Pony or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. However, I recently got hooked on a fabulous BBC series on Netflix. The BBC gave me Downton Abbey, and I didn't think anything could top that. And it still hasn't, but this show I'm about to mention is a close second to Downton for me. It's called Call the Midwife. The series is based off of the real life memoirs of Jennifer Worth, a nurse and midwife in the East End of London in the late 1950's and early 1960's. This show obviously features many birthing stories, but more than that it captures a beautiful era in history so perfectly. The characters are strong and the little bits of their back stories featured each episode keep you watching for more. I am totally smitten with the show, but Mike just cannot tolerate all the birthing scenes. All the groaning and moaning a little too much for him. Season One is on Netflix, so check it out! There are only six one-hour episodes, so it won't take you too long to finish it.

In a totally different genre, I have discovered a channel that plays reruns of The King of Queens every night from ten to midnight. I think that show is so hilarious, and I have been known to turn it on and get sucked in until I stay up too late. It's my dirty little secret. 

* More Piano News! This morning Hannah played in the Oklahoma State Piano Auditions. I took her out of school to drive her down to Oklahoma City University where she played her song in front of a judge once again. She received a score of I (scores range from III to I+). She was so proud of herself and earned a very nice medal to add to her growing collection. Her piano recital is this coming Sunday afternoon which will officially conclude her first year of lessons. 
Hannah Banana showing off her medal

* Chicago. Mike and I are heading off on a vacation to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary in a few weeks. Did I mention that it will be a vacation ALONE!?!? No children will be flying with us. I can't wait. Our last vacation all by ourselves was in 2007, so we are due. We are just flying in on a Friday and returning on a Monday. Other than gorging ourselves with food, what else should we do while we are there? Anyone want to offer a "must do" suggestion? Mike has been there once and I've never been there. I can't wait!! (I think I've said this twice now).

OK, this now concludes my random Friday post. Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Potty Training Advice

Warning: this post discusses bodily fluids. My apologies in advance.

Ok, I need some potty training advice. In March, we finally made a big advancement in Lucas' potty training--he started wearing big boy undies. As if a switch went off in his head, overnight he started peeing in the potty like a champ. He even stays dry at naptime and overnight. He is Mr. Super Reliable when it comes to #1.

Not so much when it comes to #2. He basically refuses to poop on the potty. At first he would ask me for a pull up to do his business in, but I refused thinking it would only take one or two times of him pooping in his underwear to realize how yucky that feels. That message has yet to sink in. He is perfectly happy to go in his undies, and I am tired of cleaning out stinky britches!

I don't feel like punishing him is the right way to go here, but we have offered lots of incentives for him with no success. New toy? Sure! New superhero costume? Okay! Still waiting for him to give it a try.

What do you moms out there think? Any advice? My girls did not struggle with this. It's a good thing the boy is so cute!

So I don't end this post on a stinky note, here's a sweet picture of Lucas from our trip to the library today.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

An Afternoon at the Dentist

This afternoon I spent a total of four hours at two different dentists. Not exactly how I had envisioned my day, but we survived. Thank goodness for books, hangman, train tables and the good old iPod.

A few weeks ago Leah showed me a small red bump on her lower right gums. It wasn't hurting her, so I went with the old "let's wait and see if it goes away" response. Good enough. Today however she woke up to find the bump had doubled in size, turned a nice shade of dark purple and was sore to the touch. I called her pediatric dentist and they had no open appointments, but felt certain that if we showed up at 1:15 they could work us in pretty quick. I checked Leah out of school at 12:45 with Lucas in tow and off we went. We settled in to the kid friendly waiting area and after TWO HOURS I was nearly out of my mind. I had a bored and nervous 8 year old singing an aria of "When is it my turn???" and a grumpy nap-less 3 year old who got tired of the train table sixty minutes ago. I went to ask when we could be seen and they could not give me an answer.

I am a patient person, but at that moment I was done. So I called my dentist and explained the situation. He doesn't normally see children, but he said to bring her right in. After a 30 minute drive clear across town we arrived and they took us right back to get X-rays. Soon my dentist was in the room explaining that the bump was an infected abscess. The root of the tooth is a goner and the tooth will need to be either removed or capped. This is of course after she takes a course of antibiotics to get rid of the infection first.

Up until this point we have avoided any major dental work on our children. Just twice a year cleanings and one cavity filled (on Leah's current infected tooth). Can anyone say Dental Bills?! Oh my!

Now we are finally home. The kids really did behave well today even though they had to do a lot of waiting. And that fancy dinner I had planned to prepare tonight? Um, not happening. It's leftovers or PB&J instead! Oh well, some days just don't go as planned and you have to roll with it.

How was your day?

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Mother's Day this year was best described as mellow. That's a good thing. I like mellow. The kids were mellow, the weather was mellow. Yep, it was a good day. Here's the run down.

Mike and the kids made me breakfast in bed again. Yes, you heard that-- breakfast in bed two days in a row. Shazam! After breakfast, we went to church and then got ready to have our third annual Mother's Day Brunch with our good friends, the Reutlingers, Bellamys and Rosses. The deal is, the husbands plan a menu and then along with the kids serve the moms lunch in our friends' beautiful backyard. The menu yesterday included: french toast, a tomato-pesto tart, spinach/strawberry/pecan salad, sausage, fresh pineapple& cantaloupe, chocolate dipped strawberries and citrus iced tea. The men were totally in charge of all the cooking and they once again pulled off a fabulous meal. The ladies sat in the shade and chatted while the kids got to play waiter/waitress for us. It was fabulous.  So fabulous that I didn't even think to take any pictures. Oh well.

Later, we came home and Lucas took a nap while the girls played outside for awhile. When Lucas woke up I tried to get the three of them to sit still long enough for me to take a picture. As usual, that is about as easy as trying to catch running water in your hands. Here's what I ended up with:

 My three hoodlums
Leah is kissing Lucas' cheek so hard his right eye is all wonky.

Leah was having hysterical giggle fits 

Of course the day would not be complete without me pausing to remember my own beautiful mom. I wish I could hug her and tell her for the one millionth time what an amazing mother she was to me. I wish I could honor her by serving her lunch at my house and having the kids present her with homemade cards. I had my "sit on the back porch by myself and cry" moment, but then I decided to spend the rest of the day focusing not on what I don't have, but what I do have.

What I do have is three beautiful, awesome, healthy kids whom I am privileged enough to get to raise. And I have the legacy of my own mother's love to pass down to them. I honor my mom every time I listen to my kids, read with them, laugh with them and hug them. I am so grateful for 34 years with her.  What a true gift.
My mom and me

So I hope all you moms out there had a great Mother's Day. I hope you felt honored and blessed and loved, because you deserve it! You rock!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Life is Just a Bowl of Strawberries

This morning I opened my eyes, stretched, and heard the sounds of dishes clanging in the kitchen. I glanced over to see if Mike was up, but he was still sleeping. Turns out Hannah and Leah had hatched a plan to make me breakfast in bed. Soon I saw their smiling faces come around the corner into my room. Between them they were balancing a bright red tray. My breakfast included a bowl of Fiber One cereal, a bowl of vanilla yogurt topped with more cereal and sliced strawberries, another bowl of plain sliced strawberries, a tall glass of orange juice and a jar with a few flowers and leaves from our garden. Apparently they are concerned about my strawberry intake! Of course I made a big deal about how wonderful and thoughtful it was, and they beamed with pride. Then they ran off to go jump on the trampoline. It was also very thoughtful of them to leave their mess in the kitchen for me to clean up. Not. But I think I will let it go this time. I sure love my sweet little girls.

Friday, May 10, 2013

I Did It!

Ruth Ann, Me and Rachel celebrating my official first day as an instructor

A little over three years ago, I started working out at a gym called Body and Soul Fitness.  You can read about this fitness program's philosophy here. I chose to begin working out with a cardio and strength training class simply because I have a little background doing aerobics and thought it might be the best fit for me. The class also worked with my schedule and offered free childcare, so I signed up. My motivation? I gained forty pounds during my pregnancy with Lucas and the pounds were simply not coming off. Four years earlier, I had gained seventy pound with my twins, but found that within a year, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight. A year after Lucas, and not only had I not lost the weight, but I was feeling tired and just not at all like myself.

The day of my first class, the music started and I did my best to try to keep up. A few minutes in and I was huffing and puffing. Surely I wasn't that out of shape, right? The first thirty minutes flew by, then I grabbed my weights. I picked out the lightest looking ones and did my best to keep up. I am so glad I did not give up that first day. I kept coming back and with the incredible encouragement from my instructors, I started working out not because I had to, but because I wanted to. The music was upbeat and positive and the choreography changed often enough to keep me on my toes (and to keep me from getting bored!). And best of all, I started to see results. I was able to lose that pesky post-baby weight, and as a bonus I started to tone my muscles and build my endurance as well.

Fun workout + seeing results = WIN-WIN!

About a year after I began exercising at Body and Soul, my mom ended up in the hospital. And if you know my story, you know that she stayed there for six months before she passed away. From November of 2010 to May of 2011, my life was being turned upside down. I was torn between spending time with my mom at the hospital and time at home being a wife and mom to my husband and kids. I was tempted to let everything else fall by the wayside. I am sure glad I didn't. I decided to continue my three mornings a week workout routine and it turned out to be such an incredible stress reliever. Not only was it good for me physically, but emotionally I could praise God through the songs, cry out to him as I pushed my muscles to work harder, and find the prayer support (and plenty of hugs) from the many women who worked out with me. The support didn't stop after my mom passed away either. The women in my class are amazing. I am very grateful for them.

I share all of this to give you an idea of why I am so committed to Body and Soul Fitness. So committed in fact, that this past February I became an official instructor. Well, right now I am only an Emergency Sub Instructor, filling in as full time instructors need me. But one day, I do plan on becoming a full time fitness instructor-- probably when all three of my kids are in school all day. It was nerve-wracking to get up on stage and lead a class, but after the first time, I felt in my element.

So, thanks for letting me toot my own horn for a bit. Now, if you live nearby, come check out a class! :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Perfect (in my humble opinion) Chocolate Chip Cookie

There is nothing quite like a warm, fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookie. Alongside a cool glass of milk, it is near dessert perfection. I have been on the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe ever since Mike and I got married. I prefer a soft, chewy cookie over a crispy cookie, so I started off with a basic recipe given to me by my friend (who I think got it from her neighbor) and began tweaking it to make the cookies turn out exactly how I like them. Now I have this recipe memorized and make them for my family at least once or twice a week. Because the cookies do not have any preservatives, their shelf-life is rather short, two or three days max if kept in an airtight container. This also means I usually make half a batch for my family of five, doubling the recipe when I am serving a larger crowd. They don't last long, though, so it really isn't a problem in the long run.

Also, I feel compelled to give a few tips before you get started:

1. Consider your elevation. I live in Oklahoma City which is about as flat as a pancake. However, if you are in Colorado or New England or Alaska or anywhere with a higher elevation, consider that in your baking time. Don't be afraid to play with the time and oven temp until you get the desired result.

2. Be a name-brand snob. Normally, this is not me. I am all about Great Value and Target brand items. However, in my fourteen years of making this recipe, I have discovered that the store brand products do not produce cookies up to my high cookie standards. So spring for the Crisco and Nestle and Gold Medal. And for heaven's sake, NO imitation vanilla. Get the real thing!

3. Butter vs. Shortening. I have tried both and my opinion is that shortening is better. I buy Crisco vegetable shortening, the original flavorless variety (stay away from the butter flavored shortening!). Butter makes the cookies spread out and cook up a little thinner and crispier than I like. The Crisco makes a fluffier, softer texture. Case closed.

OK, let's get started! I'm sharing with you my half-recipe which yields about 18 cookies, but feel free to double up the recipe for a larger crowd. I do this at Christmas and deliver them to my grateful neighbors. :)

First preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Next, mix together the following:

1/2 cup Crisco vegetable shortening
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla

I use my stand mixer, but a hand mixer will do just fine too. Here's my secret on this step. Mix until there are NO clumps of Crisco left. I put mine on medium speed for a good minute or two. The mixture should be smooth and creamy.

To the creamy mixture, add:

1 cup all purpose flour
1/8 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Here is where my years of tweaking has paid off. I am totally sold on the combination of all purpose and whole wheat flour. I have tried different combinations and I have found that using only all purpose makes the cookies too sweet (if that is possible), where using all whole wheat makes them too grainy. I have found this strange combo of "1 cup plus 1/8 cup" to be just right. Trust me. Plus you can consider them sort of "healthy" since you are using whole wheat flour.

Once you have added the flours, soda and salt, mix on low just until combined. Finally add 1 heaping cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and use a spoon to hand mix them in.

You are ready to bake these beauties now. I drop the cookies onto a cookie sheet using a scoop and bake them for 11 minutes. I let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing them to a wire cooling rack.

That's it! You can now produce delicious, homemade cookies for your friends and family. I promise they will start asking you for the recipe!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Awards Season

I know what you are thinking. Weren't the Oscars held back in February? Why yes, they were. But I am talking about a much different awards season. Around here the month of May is prime-time for end of the year awards and activities. We are still at the beginning of it all, but I thought you might allow me a total parental bragging moment while I update you on all the cool things my kids have been doing.

* District Piano Auditions and the COMTA Piano Solo Festival: Hannah participated in both of these for the first time and did very well! At District she earned a score which qualified her for the State Auditions which will be held next Friday. At the Solo Festival she earned a 99 out of 100 points! She was awarded a medal and a ribbon. Her piano recital is coming up as well. She has really enjoyed taking lessons and has a real natural talent for playing. I am very proud of her!

* Gymnastics: Leah and Lucas both chose to take gymnastics this year. Lucas had a lot of fun. It helped him with his coordination and strength, and provided a fun outlet for running off some energy. Leah also blossomed this year. She found that she is pretty good at gymnastics and is proud of herself for learning new things. Both Leah and Lucas had their medals presentation this past Monday night. They also got to show off their skills in front of us. Leah was also officially invited to be a part of a gymnastics team, so she will start practicing with her new class this summer. She is really excited.

*School Plays: All three of my kids love acting/singing/performing on stage. The girls both tried out and got speaking parts in their recent 2nd grade musical entitled "Lemonade." We were very proud watching them sing and dance when they presented their play to parents the last Tuesday in April. This past Monday (immediately following the gymnastics medal presentation--it was a crazy night!) Lucas performed in his school's Spring Program. His class sang and danced to the classic "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed". Lucas was one of the few kids who actually sang and did the hand motions. They all three enjoy performing!

That's where we are at for now. We still have the second grade awards ceremony and a few more piano events to go. I sure am proud of these kids of mine!

Holding her medal and critique sheet after District Auditions
Her Ribbon and coupons after the Solo Festival

Leah (in the orange leotard and pink shorts)

Lucas doing his best to keep up!
Leah (front, center) along with her teacher and classmates

Leah and her friend Parker

Daddy and Lucas after the Spring Program (note: he is still wearing his medal).

Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel after their 2nd grade play

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Do This Today

I am about to issue you a challenge today. Are you ready? Ok, here goes....

Sometime today, before your head hits your pillow tonight, WRITE YOUR CHILDREN A LETTER. Don't tell me you are not a good writer. Don't say you are too busy. It doesn't need to be long or win a Pulitzer. It just needs to include how much you love them. How special and unique and amazing they are. Tell them how wanted they are, and how much joy they bring you each day. Share a funny story if you want. Tell them what they are doing these days. Write about how they were hand-picked just for you and you wouldn't trade them for anyone or anything in the whole world. When you are finished, put the letter(s) in a safe place. I can guarantee that one day, when you are gone, this letter will be worth more than all the diamonds and gold in the world. It will be priceless. Just trust me on this one.

PS-do this for your grandchildren too!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Cinco de Mayo at Red Rock

We are always on the lookout for a good reason to have a party or do something special. And while Cinco de Mayo is not exactly a top holiday for us, we decided to get out and do something fun anyway! The weather was perfect--sunny and mid-60's, so our little home church group headed out to Red Rock Canyon for a day spent enjoying God's creation together.

After arriving and "staking our claim" at a nice picnic area, we started off on our first hike. We explored the western ridge of the canyon and worked up a good appetite. While the coals were getting hot on the grill, the guys played soccer with the kids while the ladies set out our lunch spread.

The day ended with a longer hike through Rough Horsetail Trail which winds up and down the eastern canyon ridge. By the time we were done, Lucas had dirt all over his face and under every one of his fingernails. A sign of an afternoon well spent if you ask me.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Year Two: Joy

My mom and me on Easter morning, 1981

Two years ago today, my mom stepped out of this world and into the glory of heaven.  I can't believe it has been two years since I heard her voice. The last time I actually heard her was on the morning of May 3rd. I called my dad to check on her and he said she wasn't feeling well. In the background, I heard her call out my dad's name; an hour later she was gone. I believe that at the exact moment she closed her eyes here on earth, she opened them to see the face of Jesus. Paul says in 2 Corinthians that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. I imagine her walking through fields of grace with her Savior, free of pain, sorrow and heartache. And I cling to the hope that Isaiah wrote about when he said in chapter 25 verse 8, "He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces." These are just a few of the things that help me grive with hope.

Year One of my grief journey was about learning to breath again. Year Two has been about finding joy, even in sorrow. Joy to me is more than a momentary feeling of happiness. It is an abiding sense of assurance that bubbles up from deep within. Joy can co-exist with grief, where happiness comes and goes. Joy says even in the tears I can lift my head up and know that things are going to be okay. It will be okay because I trust my life to an all-knowing, all-powerful, sovereign God. Psalm 30:5 says, "Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning." I have found this to be true. Joy has found me and continues to find me. When I look at my children's faces, or laugh with my husband, or listen to my Dad's stories, or read my Bible, or look at the beauty of a sunset, or enjoy a quiet moment to myself, joy finds me again and again and again.