Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Just say Yes!

I write a lot of blog posts, but I publish very few. There seems to be this constant narrative in my heart. It's something I fight, probably daily. Finding the time to sit here and willingly tap away at these keys is hard for me. [Emphasis on willingly.] I've been blogging for a good six years, mostly just about my kids, and it's never been something I've thought twice about. My tone is usually lighthearted and dipped ever so slightly in sarcasm. It fits. It's easy. Our life is messy and funny and somehow still not at all interesting...so the sarcasm helps :) But slowly, God has been doing something with this blog and with me. I've been opening up about my heart and my walk with the Lord. And THAT has not been easy. 

A few years ago I felt a small nudge to take a chance and use these gifts I've been given. To write to encourage...to point people to Him. To be open and real about what God was really doing in this life and heart of mine. It was spotty...but here and there I ventured to share my faith on this blog. And then earlier this year when Derek got horribly sick, the flood gates opened so to say, and my heart spilled out. And the small voice I was hearing turned into a megaphone...and I could no longer keep my heart quiet and safe in the comfortable. You see, I have this icky part about me. People pleasing. It has something to do with wanting to be liked and pride. With people who know me - I have no problem sharing truth and challenging them and being true to who I really am. But in public, in work, on social media...I tend to be someone who doesn't like to step on toes or offend...who will gladly hold my tongue about my faith to be liked, to be cool, to blend in. [ew]. But God used those hard times and desperate moments when Derek was sick to tear me wide open and change that about me...hopefully forever. And so here I am, trying to listen to this strange calling and write and share and be uncool. There is a story here, one that I know the Lord is asking me to tell. And no, it's not earth shattering, not by any means. And I think, in part, that's what makes this so hard. I realize that I'm not a writer or a preacher or that person who comes up with those lists...you know...like 10 things you need to do this year or 5 things you should never say to your kids. Those are great, but those are not me. My story unfolds daily. I'm not polished, and I don't have intentions here for online greatness and fame and thousands of followers. I'm much more comfortable with the opposite. I'd rather be quiet, unwritten and unread. But God has other plans for this life of mine. This I know.

I've been reading Love Does by Bob Goff.  I bought two copies, then I got two more from some dear friends as gifts. I think it's fair to say God wants me reading this book! I don't believe in coincidences. I believe in a sovereign God, one who works in the every day, thru these things we're more comfortable calling "coincidences" than God working. So when four copies of a book end up on my doorstep, I know it's time to start reading it :) 

Bob's stories...oh they're good. Grab a copy if you can...or borrow one of mine...lol. Last night I finished the chapter JUST SAY YES. It's definitely inspiring me to say yes to what God is asking me to do..."to lean in toward what is unfolding and say yes". That's probably one of the reasons I'll take a chance and hit the publish button on this blog post today.  
"Am I the right guy? I don't know, but I'm the guy being asked, and the last thing I want to do is miss an opportunity or make God mad, so I just keep saying yes. Maybe God is doing some inexplicable things in your life. Each of us gets to decide every time whether to lean in or step back--to say yes, ignore it, or tell God why He has the wrong person."
Bob was referencing Moses before this little morsel. How God chose Moses to lead, but Moses didn't think he was the guy to do it because he's clearly not the best talker, he stutters even...there are obviously better guys for the job. But are there? Are there better people for the tasks God is asking you or me to do? Hmmmm. That hits this girl hard.

So why not take a chance and step into some unfamiliar territory if God is leading you there. [I'm telling myself this as I write this to you...but please, feel free to join in]. That's how we grow, right? Taking steps into the unknown and uncomfortable grows us and stretches us in the best ways.

This got me thinking about this year and where God has taken me. He's always doing something in us...always. Have you ever considered this? A lot of people are making resolutions right now about the year ahead. I'm sure I'll even throw a few around, it's not too hard after reading this post to guess what mine will be. But before I get to that, I'm challenging myself to look back at this year and where I've been...jotting a few notes down about what's been hard, what I've failed at, what God has taught me, how I've been blessed, how I've been humbled. Reflection. Sometimes we need a good dose of that before we go running ahead into new territory. So I'm opening books I've read and going thru the notes I've written and things I've highlighted to see what I've learned. 

What if we all did this even in the most simplest of ways...trying our best to hold on and put into practice the things we've already learned. Instead of reading more books or diving into more theology and ladder climbing to "grow"...what if we just tried doing some of things we already know about. Like even the little things, which always seem to be the big things at the end of the day anyway. Like loving the messed up people in our lives. Or maybe extending some undeserved grace. Hmmmm. Things I already know about, but don't always put into practice. All this reminds me of one of my favorites from this year...a quote from One Thousand Gifts...
"I used to think that God's gifts were on shelves one above the other, and that the taller we grew in Christian character the easier we should reach them. I find now that God's gifts are on shelves one beneath the other, and that it is not a question of growing taller but of stooping lower, and that we have to go down, always down, to get His best gifts."
See. This reflection thing is like magic. It's been taking me to the best places. Give it a try. It's way more inspiring than any resolution! 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

crazed kittens and the normal chaos

This morning at about 5am I got to drag this sick and flu aching body outside in my robe and rubber boots to watch my husband climb what appeared to be a 50 foot evergreen.  I stood there at the bottom holding two flashlights in awkward positions and praying. Asking God to keep those branches strong and his feet firm...that he wouldn't die trying to save this stupid, tree climbing cat. Climbing trees on pitch black, cold mornings is never a good idea [clearly]. I'm embarrassed to even say how high he got.

Did I mention all this fuss and life risking was to save a kitten? !!!  Derek fought so hard for life this year...to see it end for a fluffy black cat named Batman...now THAT would be something. Needless to say, my precious husband and our frisky furball are still with us.


We joke a lot around here that Derek has more than 9 lives. It's fair to say the angels God has surrounding this man are never bored. Just a few days ago he was sitting in his car unloading our overflowing mailbox when he looked up to to find a pair of headlights about to smash him to pieces. At the last second, the car made a miraculous swerve and demolished our mailbox. I have more stories...but I'm sure you get the point. We = drama.

Shortly after this chaos, I crawled back into my warm bed to finish sleeping away this sickness. Then I heard something hit our front bedroom window. I looked up...and THIS.

These windows are at least 3 feet above the ground. This cat has some serious jump. 

I think it's time we start picking better names around here. Instead of Batman, we should have named him DIRT. Just in case he's somehow personifying his name. Dirt doesn't leap from roof to roof (see below). I decided it was time to get up and go pet this crazed kitten, before she ruined any of our brand new window screens. Ugh. But by the time I got to our dining room, she was scaling those windows and ended up on the roof, jumping from one to the other. ? Well, I at least I didn't have to go far for the ladder. It was already out.

After all this madness, I decided I wasn't feeling sick anymore. The cold air had healed me. So I went out and gathered some of the branches that hit me in the face as Derek climbed his way to hero this morning. I'm using them as garland...why not? It's a fun reminder of the life we live and the creative ways God dishes out His grace. Even on flu filled Sundays when I'd rather be worshiping than climbing trees and dealing with the chaos of kids, and the flu, and crazy climbing kittens.

Nothing like some garland to adorn our deer rack. The two together just scream MAN HERO. 

I even stashed a few pieces into the top of our kitchen blinds. It's clearly not my best work, but it does make me chuckle. And it smells great :) 

So of course while I had my camera out I decided to snap a few more festive shots.

I finally hung my burlap wreath I made last year. Every little bit helps.

And this is something that's a work in progress. For the moment, this old frame is being used as photo collage for our Christmas cards (or mostly Christmas cards)...Rage's birth announcement found it's way up there too. Eventually it will be home to one of our family pictures from this year. 

Here is what is looked like before. And no I didn't scrap the artwork. This is totally my Dad, so it's now adorning his walls.

Who knows what else will be strung up around here by the time Christmas arrives. Oh what a day can bring. !

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

christmas and a CAMERA!

My hubby surprised me with a new camera for Christmas! ME...and a CAMERA. Need I say more? I almost feel bad for it. It's going to get wore out. Poor thing {ha}. So far I've started with the obvious subjects...my unsuspecting children. Needless to say, they allowed me only a few shots before putting their hands over their cute little faces and running in the other direction. Except for Rage. You'll be seeing a lot of him. His little monkey paws haven't figured out how to block Momma yet :)

Clearly this little guy is going to be my model of choice...

Because this one's tooth "hurts" ?

And well...this one's just NOT having it.


SO I got busy practicing on my Christmas decorations. Talk about weird. I guess I didn't really realize our lack of decor until I started photographing it. We lost a few things in the move. The back of the moving truck actually flew open during transit and some boxes took a tumble. {booo}.

But that's okay. We've never had the money to really purchase anything fabulous anyway. I'm more about taking the odds and ends we have and just making them work. 

That's more my style...just winging it. 

Take this deer head for instance. Clearly it's high end, right? {ha} I think Derek was a little irritated that I fluffed up his "pride and joy" a bit with some ornaments. It's called making it work my dear. And this WORKS!

Then there's this cute little number. It's a soup can that I glued twigs around and then stuck a small cutting from our tree in it. {fancy, right?} A little burlap and some gold acorns stems, and voila!

I've actually been collecting twigs and cans for a fun little decor project at church...and I have to admit that I'm using more of them around here than I am saving! Seriously. I just can't help myself. I'm going to have to send the kids back out to the woods to gather some more. 

Another shot of my twig/can arrangement. Complete with dust bunnies and fingerprints -- this is my real, undusted life! You'll also see this green votive in a few pics. The kids move stuff around here on a daily basis...so there's no telling what will end up where.

The grouping in the pedestal vase keeps growing as well. It started off full of all silver ornaments, but it's been accumulating all the ones that fall off or get taken off the tree. It just keeps getting better and better, let me tell ya :)


Here's a shot of some berry stems that I stuck in a jar {why not}. And of course, a can full of twigs. And a few more twigs in the vase in the background. See...it's twig heaven around here. But seriously, go out to your yard and grab some. They're cheap...they'll fit in. Believe me!

There's the green votive again :)

The kids picked out these little trees at the dollar store so I couldn't say no. They like to contribute in the decorating process too :) The tree stems are a little wonky, but I can't win them all. Have you noticed all my stacks of books? It's sort of my latest obsession. Removing all the annoying dust covers and stacking up some beautimus book ends. {love}.

And here you go. One of my FAVORITES. Who doesn't decorate their tree with Hello Kitty sunglasses? Kids. They keep life interesting and full of the quirky best surprises.

Nothing like some garland to adorn our deer rack. The two together just scream MAN HERO. These next few photos have a story...

I even stashed a few pieces into the top of our kitchen blinds. It's clearly not my best work, but it does make me chuckle. And it smells great :) 

I finally hung my burlap wreath I made last year. Every little bit helps.

And this is something that's a work in progress. For the moment, this old frame is being used as photo collage for our Christmas cards (or mostly Christmas cards)...Rage's birth announcement found it's way up there too. Eventually it will be home to one of our family pictures from this year. 

Here is what is looked like before. And no I didn't scrap the artwork. This is totally my Dad, so it's now adorning his walls.

Here's our Santa Bell. Probably the one thing we have with meaning around here. It's a Gora tradition for the man of the house to ring this bell on Christmas morning. When the kiddies hear the bell, they can race out of their rooms to see what's under the tree. I think Derek's dad was still ringing this bell up until the day he passed it down to him. I remember that morning. It was a little teary. I guess it's sort of a rite of passage, this passing down of the Santa Bell. Years from now we'll have another one of those teary Christmas mornings when our last little one leaves the home. I guess Rigby will be the one to carry the torch.

Tradition. Don't you just love it? I do :)

And here's our tree. The star actually touches the ceiling! It's full of ornaments from our childhood and ones made by our kids and old cheesie beads and one string of burlap because I couldn't find the rest. But it sparkles and smells good and gets the job done. 

I guess my point is...embrace what you have. LOVE what you HAVE. Christmas isn't about having a perfectly decorated house or all the best things. So don't sweat it. The whole point is Jesus, right? He was perfection for us! What a relief! I'm doing my best to hold on to this truth, especially as I look around at all my Christmas decor [or lack thereof]. 

Now go gather yourself some twigs! 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

chalkboard paint pantry doors

I've been working on lots of little projects over the last few months, more like the last year to be quite honest. I haven't been doing the best job of documenting them either. Time is precious and our days are FULL around here. Plus, I have dreams of a fancy camera. You know, something expensive and heavy that will capture my little creations in all their beauty. But let's be honest here...that may never happen. So, this morning I got out my cell phone and started snapping some photos to clear my mind a little. Here we go!


This little project happened on a whim one morning. I couldn't find the grocery list I had started and was racking my brain staring into the pantry. I decided it would be nice to have a spot near our pantry for notes and lists...for myself and my hubby. But it had to be something I couldn't lose...and notebooks and papers get strung all over this place by my kids. So I got out the ol' chalkboard paint and let Rigby have at it! And I'm so loving this. It's the little things in life :) And I find myself standing in front of my pantry regularly, just staring at it...lol...and thinking of everything I'm missing. Now my space out sessions are productive!

We're using one side for our grocery list and one for our menu...and the rest gives the kids a spot to doodle. So fun! I just snap a picture on my phone of the list before I head to the store. 

{Easy peasey}

It's actually working out pretty well. Except for the time or two that I forgot to take a pic before I left. But I just called home and asked someone else to text it to me. Yep...no more lost lists around here! 

I will say that the chalkboard markers have proved to be a challenge. They're hard to erase completely on chalkboard "painted" surfaces. I've found that using an antibacterial wipe and a little elbow grease gets the job done. It's no bother really...especially since I'm only doing it once a week.

before...a blank canvas :)
my little picaso
our weekly menu board
grocery list

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

R.I.P. Cole

We're having one of those days today. The kind that just makes you want to crawl back in bed and never get out. I'm not sure if there's one thing that has gone as planned on this random Tuesday in November. There was a meeting I didn't get to, tears over being late for school, tears for our sick kitty, a play date for an excited four year old that we also couldn't get to...you know, because of the car that wouldn't start, not to mention the husband that drove to Chicago for a doctor appt in a car without heat (and blowing freezing cold air that wouldn't turn off, I might add) all on this fabulous 10° morning. No thank you "random Tuesday in November". This wasn't in our plans for today.

Another heavy part of this day is that in about an hour we're going to be putting our cat down. Precious Cole. The cat who makes us a family of 6 according to the kids, not 5. The cat who was proud and snobby and not much for company, but came alive when we had kids. He's been pulled on and chased and picked up and stuffed in baby strollers and forts and boxes and on certain days has even allowed necklaces to be placed around his neck. He's the cat who follows the kids around outside like a babysitter, who sits on the swingset when they swing and comes to the house with them when they're done. The cat who used to go on walks with us. Who would race to catch up with us if we left without him. He's THAT cat. And he's dying today...on this random, messy Tuesday in November. We're sure going to miss him. Like CRAZY miss him.

The goodbye photos we took this morning
Fighting for smiles.
I told them to think about their favorite times with Cole
So this morning I had to get down on my muddy floor [from the boots my six year old was stomping around and crying in] and act like the mud wasn't there. I plopped down beside her, wiped her tears away and brushed those sweet little locks behind the smallest, cutest ears ever made by God. I told her we make our own plans for each day, but sometimes things just don't go the way we would like. But no matter what, this is still the day God's given us, let's look for the good in it. I sort of feel like we're going to have to pry our eyes open with crow bars today to find it, but I know it's there. HERE. In this messy, sad day.

Here's to searching for joy on a day when there just doesn't seem like there's joy to be had. R.I.P. Cole. 
You've been a fabulous cat and the source of much JOY.

so handsome. so much attitude in those kitty eyes of his.
But so much LOVE too.
This is when Rowan was just born.
Cole...always the babysitter.
He put up with anything.
Rowan broke him down slow. 
He learned to love the attention.
On Halloween one year we dressed him up as a witch
...against Derek's wishes of course!
He's begging for attention here.
Someone, anyone...
just bother me. 
Bin Cat
Ni-Night Cat
Tent Cat
Movie Cat
Little People Cat
Basket Cat
Tree Cat
Princess Cat
Beautiful Snobby Cat
Hunted Cat
Sack of Potatoes Cat