Monday, March 24, 2014

At the Crossroads of Aging

So last month I turned 40, and as I write this, I will be going to my first mammogram this afternoon. Ugh. To say I’ve been contemplating life, aging, and all things related, is an understatement.

I find myself standing at a crossroads in the road, unable to turn back because the bridge behind me is washed out, but not sure which path to toward the future.  Both paths will get me there – is one better than the other?

The one path is marked “Grow Old Gracefully”.  The other path holds a sign, “Look Youthful Longer.” So here I stand, weighing in on options.

I’ll be honest, my heart is leaning towards “Grow Old Gracefully” path.  This path embraces a late summer landscape that is alive with beauty and life.   I’ve always believed in this saying, “Never regret growing older, it is a privilege denied to many.”

Aren’t these baby wrinkles signs that I’ve been able to live life fully? A souvenir to remind me that I’ve had the privilege of laughing often, of gaining wisdom through the trials? Aren’t they a reminder that my days here on earth are numbered and I should embrace each and every one?   A memento that I am lucky to have lived so many days already?  

So, should I try to hide, or erase, or eliminate these beautiful baby wrinkles, because our culture embraces ‘youth’ more than ‘aging’? 

I admit, I look in the mirror, and sometimes I frown when I see these baby wrinkles; I mean, how did they get there so fast on my face? I’m not sure I like them at times, but I do believe they hold a secret beauty, a contentment that is to be embraced. I’m trying to discover that, even as I’m researching anti-aging products from my laptop.

The other night, laying on the couch, I look up at my husband and ask, “Are you looking at my gray hair?” To which he responds, “NO, your gray hairs! (emphasizing the ‘s’!)   Ha,ha. Oh, the honesty.

Yes, I’ve been styling my hair differently lately, trying to pull the top hair over the gray hair underneath.  In my 40 years, I have never colored my hair.  My blond-ness does well to camouflage the changing color, but should I color my hair now? 

Will it make me feel younger, live happier, if I take the “Look Youthful Longer” path? The path that appears full of springtime flowers? But, if I walk that path and pause to sniff the flowers, will I discover their beauty is only on the surface? Are they just silk flowers planted in the soil to give the illusion of beauty? Should I pretend it’s spring, when really it’s the end of summer? Shouldn’t I embrace the beauty that the end of summer holds?  

Shouldn’t I just smile because yesterday when I walked out the house, my husband ‘revved’ the car motor when he saw me?  Then, when I opened the car door (everyone was waiting on me, and he totally should have been upset because I was making him late) simply smiles and says to our girls “mom revs my engine!”?!  Oh, the happiness -- he still calls me as ‘smokin’ hot,’ with my baby wrinkles and graying hair!  

Is there a third path I’m missing? Can I somehow have both? I mean when the end of summer comes, I try to hang onto it a little longer, I’ll cover my flowers to keep them from getting frostbite.  I take longer walks, and simply stop and lift my face heavenward letting my skin soak up the last of summer’s golden rays. 

I don’t know what this coming year looks like.  I imagine before the year is up, there is a good chance I will have bought some anti-aging creams and got my first highlights.  It’s not that I think those things are necessarily ‘bad’ – like I said, I’m just standing at the crossroads, contemplating.  Are you too? What is your take on this?

 Are you further down the path, how did you make the choice?

 Do you have a favorite quote on aging?

An increasing number of people, including gerontologists, biologists, engineers and futurists, believe ageing is a disease, and one that can be cured. One of those people is Oxford biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey, a leader of the anti-ageing movement, who believes we can rejuvenate the body by repairing cellular and molecular damage - and that a person has already been born who will live to 1,000.

Don't try to stretch a season into a lifetime! Know when to let go and move on.

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day

I must admit that this morning I was a tiny bit sad that my girls didn't care about leprechauns or leprechaun traps or green milk or green glitter.  They are growing up. Those days are gone.

I keep repeating the lyrics to Alan Jackson's song, Remember When, "We won't be sad, we'll be glad, for all the life we've had and we'll remember when."

Those days were fun, and I LOVED them.  But now we have to create new memories!

Tonight I am making traditional Irish Soda Bread.  I mean my friend MaryKate O'Malley shared her grandma's authentic recipe - so I definitely MUST try it, right? I'm not sure if my girls will eat it or not - it does have raisins.  Maybe this will make them love raisins again! :)

Here's the recipe if you want to try it too: 

I am also going to make Shepherd's Pie for the first time tonight! :) We'll see how this goes! :)

I decided to do some research about Saint Patrick, because honestly, I know nothing about him!  Here's a few things I discovered (which I'm sure most of my catholic friends already know!)...

  • March 17th is his date of death
  • He is credited for bringing Christianity to Ireland
  • His color was blue, not green
  • St. Patrick was English, not Irish
  • St. Patrick was sold into Slavery 
  • He used the shamrock to teach about the trinity - father, son, holy spirit
  • There are no snakes in Ireland (although he was not the one to drive them out).
  • More Irish descendants in America than in Ireland. 
  • Irish immigrants were once treated as poorly as African Americans, and organized St. Patrick's Day as a time of unified political support 
  • Ireland is an island (how did I NOT know this?! #embarrassing) Been a few years since I've studied geography or looked at a map of Europe! 
I'm planning to share these facts at dinner tonight, thought it would make a fun conversation.  

I'll probably buy some green juice for dinner (why, oh why, don't they make ecto-cooler Hi-C anymore -- I LOVED that stuff!) and some mint ice-cream -- because I think my girls will still LOVE those green things! :) 

One day I'd love to explore the Ireland countryside...maybe I'd even kiss the Blarney Stone (although it kinda sounds gross!)! :) 

Kylemore Abbey - 10 Places to visit in Ireland:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sometimes a Mom must be Brave

The news this past week has been horrific.  A well-liked, seemingly normal, junior high football coach physically grabs a 10 year old stranger walking to her friends house off the street, throws her in his truck (with witnesses nearby), drives 5 minutes away to his house, shoots her in the back of the head and stuffs her in a plastic tub, cleans up the mess and leaves -- and then returns to find police waiting for him. No fight from him.  All within a matter of 3 hours.  Bizzare. Horrific. Tragic. Terrifying.

Oh and did I mention this is just 15 minutes from our house?

This has invaded my deepest fears, wrecking me. I've lost sleep this week. I've been waking up from nightmares. One night I was actually laying on the cold bathroom floor with that horrible taste of 'being about ready to vomit' in my mouth, moaning. My fears have been intense.  And ugly.

As a mom of a 11 and 12 year old who frequently walk 1-2 blocks between two friends' houses (who are also 10 and 11) - My momma heart has held so much.

Obviously, I have told my girls about this -- not the details, we've kept the news off -- I feel a need to 'protect' them from too much info. We've reviewed safety and emphasized more than once why we insist they always walk with someone else when they are walking somewhere.

But the hardest thing I did this week -- was to let them go again.  We let them walk over to their friends houses still.  We've let them enjoy these springlike days playing in our backyard.  We've let the wait outside for the bus still.

Because here's the thing I know.  I can NOT let fear and evil rule our lives. We fight fear with bravery.  I must show them, teach them, that trust, and beauty, and love, and goodness are more powerful in this world.  Yes, we take precautions, -- but we don't let evil win.

On a side note, I've thought again about the Hunger Games series this week, and I think that's why I LOVE the end of The Hunger Games series so much.  Shes chooses bravery over fear. She choose to find goodness in the world instead of focusing on the evil. So much wisdom there. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Gifts from the Heart

Just wanted to capture a few of the sweet moments from yesterday. The girls had the day off school and I enjoyed spending my 40th birthday with them. Donuts with dad. Shopping at Michaels and Hobby Lobby. Dinner at home (because eating out on Valentines Day is crazy!). Game of Scrabble.  I also asked them for gifts from the heart, not from the store this year.  Simply precious.

Morgan made me this made-from-scratch Hershey's chocolate cake.
She even put a surprise inside - it had a cookie layer too!
I'm glad she likes being a 'Baker'! ;) 

Sarah painted me this picture.
Her first attempt with her new 'fancy' water colors.
She also gave me coupons to make 40 dinners!!
And then she told me "I hope you are ready to eat 40 spaghetti dinners!"
Think we'll be expanding her cooking experiences. ;)
I'd say the first page of this new decade makes me excited to keep reading!

Friday, February 14, 2014

A New Decade

I'm still not sure how 40 got here so fast. I always thought 40 was old, but I don't feel old! :)

Part of me wants to reminisce about the past - to celebrate all the joy, tears, adventures, love, goofiness, disappointments, and happiness my life has held up to this point.

Part of me wants to grieve what the next decade will bring - more wrinkles, more gray hair, a metabolism that continues to slow down, my sweet girls becoming adults and spreading their wings (that one is bittersweet).

But I am reminded to cherish this day. To celebrate the now.  Today is the gift we must unwrap and fully live. Some days I live more fully than other days. Some days I am more giving and less selfish. Some days I love more deeply than others.

I hope with each day of life I am blessed to breathe that I remember to pause and celebrate Him who gives me life; and, that my heart breaks for the things that break His heart; and, that I love extravagantly the way He does.

This past week has been a beautiful week of celebrating.  Here's pausing to capture some of it...

  • A sister who spent 4 days celebrating with me -- relaxing, spa time, Lady Antebellum
  • An (early) birthday dinner with my parents and sister
  • The girls (and Mike) filling our home with black balloons and streamers when I returned
  • Neighbor across the street throwing us a little birthday party
  • Friend mailing me a handmade / heartmade gift (a knit cowl)
  • Sweet heartfelt birthday cards
  • A precious, hand written note from my mom to start my day
  • Early morning snuggles with Sarah
  • Listening to Morgan busy in kitchen at 6:30am working on my masterpiece of a birthday cake. (Darn, I have to stay in bed til she finishes!) 
  • Mike making me laugh before he left for work this morning 
And it's only 7am! So much happiness in this day. Thankful for this first day of a new decade! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Coffee for Your Heart (or should I say Hot Cocoa!?)

Today I'm linking up with Holley Gerth - it's a new year and she has a new linkup for this year called, "Coffee for Your Heart" - and she's simply asking we pour out a little love with our words each Wednesday. Will you join us? Will you offer encouraging words to someone today? Today's prompt: What encouraging words do you want the people you care about to hear as they begin a new year?”

God cares. God sees. God heals. 

I read in Joshua 1  today: "Strength! Courage! Don't be timid; don't get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take!" (msg)

Just take the next step in your journey. Just keep moving forward. Don't give up. God is with you and he has amazing plans for the life he breathed into you! 

And you can listen to Holley talk about this saying on her linkup post, but I wanted to put it here, because it's a great reminder...

In God's Hands photo by Holley Gerth

Now to go make myself a cup of hot cocoa as we begin day 19 of the longest winter break ever. Crazy, crazy winter here in Missouri! 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

OneWord365: Engage

I love the concept of this! No resolutions. Just one word for 365 days to focus on.  Last year my word was dream.  This year I've chosen Engage to be my word for 2014. If you want to join along, you can get lots of encouragement and inspiration over at One Word 365

You see, I want to fully engage in my one life. I want to live it well. 
  • I want to engage in relationships -- in real life and online. 
  • I want to engage in projects and opportunities that I'm passionate about. 
  • I want to engage my abs more. ;) 

Because the honest truth is that in many ways, I've become lazy. And I've let social media distract me and waste my hours. And yes, I do have regrets from 2013 where I could have engaged more fully and did not.

I don't have a big to do list, and not sure what this fully looks like, but I am ready to engage in all that life offers in 2014!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Look Back at My God Sized Dream

I began 2013 filled with excitement over being part of Holley Gerth's God Sized Dream Team (GSDT)! I had dreams (and still do!) that are deep in my heart!

But the reality is, this past year, this year of dreaming, has been met with a lot of rejection and a lot of dead ends.

  • Not getting the job I really wanted which would have allowed me to inspire families and young moms. 
  • My story not getting accepted to be part of a book. 
  • My pursuit of three various avenues for making and publishing apps all ended with dead ends. 
  • The volunteer opportunity I wanted to pursue not working out. 

And it would be easy for me to quit at this point and say, what's the point of dreaming? Nothing ever works out. (Sometimes I can be a bit pessimistic!)

But honestly, I'm still dreaming!

Because here's what I've discovered about dreams this past year -- they take me closer to the heart of God! Because in rejection, I am reminded that He has plans for me -- and this door is not working out because He has something better in store for me.

It's a quiet confidence that He loves me and wants the desires of my heart to become a reality. I'm not sure what that looks like, I can't see the big picture, but He can.

It's Faith -- it's knowing without seeing that the dreams in my heart will one day become reality. The dreams He placed in my heart, are for me, but they are also for others -- for others to also be drawn towards the heart of a father that loves them deeply.

So you see, anything that draws me (and others) closer to the heart of God is worth pursing...and is worth dreaming about!

Blossom Bunkhouse Today I'm linking up with a new website: -- if you are dreaming dreams, this is definitely the place you need to 'hang out' at during this coming year! You will be inspired and encouraged! I 'met' the women who are writing for this website from Holley's GSDT this past year and they are some of the most amazing encouragers I've ever met! They've given me the courage to once again believe and seek out real-life relationships.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter Wonderland

Big giant snowflakes, swirling, twirling, pouring down to earth right now. Transforming, quieting, changing the landscape out my bedroom window. You.are.a.GIFT.

I'm so thankful for the success of my etsy shop these past 6 weeks -- the income has been a blessing. And I LOVE making all these personalized, special Christmas gifts for others - it makes me smile thinking of them giving them to loved ones on Christmas morning.  But honestly, I'm no longer having fun. This hobby has become a full time job and it's taking away from my family, especially when I'm also still subbing so much.  I mean just yesterday I received orders for 24 more items I need to make!

But last night, this snow caused me to pause.  It gave me an excuse for some family time. I mean with school already cancelled last night for today, and with the special Live Sound of Music on TV, and a giant Christmas present from aunt and uncle sitting there ready to open -- well, how could I not?! The present was a new popcorn machine for the snack bar -- the girls were/are so excited! There is much talk of devouring several more batches of popcorn today! After sledding of course!

The truth is,  my house is not yet decorated for Christmas. I put the tree up this week, while my fall decorations were still filling our home. Nothing else is up. I still don't have the girl's annual stockings hung up yet.  They have been asking. It is a priority for today.  I love filling them with family activities and volunteer activities each day -- a reminder to pause during this busy season and focus on what it's all really about.

My heart has wanted to blog about so much -- about not getting the job I REALLY wanted and how I'm okay with that, of the joy in travelling this Thanksgiving and watching my nephew play at the state championship football game at Ford Field, of meeting up with family in Chicago, about Mel nominating me for leibster award, and so much more. But blogging (and writing for GSG), have not been happening lately with all these orders!

And what I grieve the most - is this, my heart has not yet quieted enough to remember that He is the reason for the season.  But the snow this morning, has begun a shift in my focus. And for this alone, I'm thankful. 

I may or may not get out Christmas cards this year, and I probably won't get up all my decorations this year, but I will celebrate the One who came to earth so long ago and continues to give us the gift of his unconditional love year after year. Jesus. I'm thankful He sent a snowfall my way this morning to remind me of His love for me.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sarah's (A to Z) Christmas List

I have no idea where Sarah got the idea to do an A to Z Christmas list (he,he!), but I thought it was kinda a cute idea she had!  I just had to laugh at some of her ideas though...she really stretched her imagination to come up with some of these, and I just had to share them! (misspellings left as is)

H - Homemade Purse (I don't think she'd use it if I actually tried sewing her a purse!)
J - Jumpy Pogo Stick (as opposed to the kind that don't jump?)
M - Magenta colored gloves
Q - Quick Electric Scotter (I thought about getting her the slow scooter, I'm glad she clarified!)
T - Tight Skirt (okay, this one made me laugh out loud!) 
U - Unmanated picture of all the family (how in the world does she know what an un-matted picture is?)

How about these 'animals'?
D - Dog (at the top of her list, a real one!)
D - Dolphin Blanket
F - Fish with fish bowl
K - Kangaroo stuffed animal
O - Octipuss stuffed animal
R - Rabbit stuffed animal

Here's the food ones:
A - Andy's Gift Card (big surprise there!)
B - Bubble Gum
L - Lollypop

Then there's her sister who wants:

  • A Real Camera you can add lenses too
  • A Coach Purse
  • Tom's Shoes

(obviously, my frugal shopping skills have not rubbed off on her yet!)