Today is the day! We celebrate 61 years of my dad's life.
He and I, we go way back. I can remember him teaching me how to ride my bike. It was the bike that he surprised me with Christmas morning. I slept on the couch and it was there when I opened my eyes. He held on to the back of my seat until I slowly got the hang of balance.
And then there were all the times we went out to eat together. It feels like I was 5 when he taught me to go to the counter and politely ask for what I need. Usually extra sweet and sour sauce for my fries.
We mowed the grass together for hours every week, me on the riding tractor and him trimming. He taught me that, "Whatever you do, do it well".
My dad spent his middle aged working years saving for me to go to college. He always told me how important that was, and after high school graduation, he did what he said he would do. He sent me to college, and I got out debt free. What a gift!
I remember microwaved dinners, nothing fancy, but we ate them together on TV trays. I remember beach trips every summer and of course, icecream each night. I remember him checking my homework at night and being proud after parent teacher conferences.
We were buddies. I still marvel at his sacrifices.
And the story I keep coming back to took place in the mornings. He worked the night shift and I would sleep over at grandma and grandpas. I knew what time to be ready for him to swing by on his way home from work, so he could take me to school. But, I just couldn't wait to see him.
We bought walkie-talkies.
I could talk with him from a couple miles away and know that Dad was going to be there soon to pick me up. Every morning. Dad and I talking on walkie-talkies in Grandma's living room.
Pondering the past points to the present. Watching Dad with my children reminds me of all the sweet times we shared. He has such a big heart. I have to remind him the kids need consequences sometimes! ;)
Happy birthday Dad! Your 61 years have taught me to love big. You are strong and steadfast, and I admire that in you.
About 2 years ago, the lord asked me to walk away from a friendship. At first, there was so much grace to obey. I knew I heard God's voice and I knew I wanted to obey. But within a few months, I started realizing the magnitude of my decision, and how this one choice was effecting every single day of my life.
It was a divorce for me and my obedience was being walked out daily.
In this new season of clarity, Jesus became something more to me than ever before. He was always the one who loved me. He was always my strength and my provider. He was always my savior and my redemption. But now, He was becoming my personal best friend.
I was driving in my car about a year after this loss and I let my mind race to what life may be like if I chose differently, had not obeyed, and went back to how things were. And then He spoke to me again.
"If you let go of the journey, you let go of the reward."
God was reminding me that through every season of obedience, there is a maturity that follows. It's the labor that precedes the birth. The contractions of growth.
I am here to encourage you in the journey you are on. Whether you've said yes to a relocation, a new job, a birth, or a new responsibility, God is faithful and the reward stands before you.
If you let go of the journey, you let go of the reward, and we know...that His rewards are worth it.
It's the Monday after my birthday. It feels almost embarrassing, all the celebrating we have done around here. I just pinch myself and slip up some thank yous for the husbandfamilyfriends who slobber me with love like they mean it.
This is it. The first day of the rest of my life. And tomorrow, the same thing. No fear. Just love.
Wanna hear a crazy story? A little snippet from our weekend? Saturday before leaving for King of Prussia, Brandon stopped at Starbucks for coffee. We tried the drive thru, but 10 cars in front of us caused us to back out of the line. Inside I went, noticing 3 semi-familiar faces in front of me. Possibly from church I "know" them, I smiled politely and waited for my turn. After the 3 chatted a minute, one of them offered to take my drink order and pay. I tried to refuse and told them I was buying drinks for 5 friends too (you can't road trip without coffee in hand), but Tim said 5 was the number of grace and proceeded to pay for my order. How kind. We chatted for a minute about how long I've been at Life Center and then the Starbucks employee interrupted and asked for my name for the cup.
Sam, I said.
And then the 3 of them laughed. They pulled out a white piece of paper on which my name, Sam, was written!
A little while before their starbucks trip they had talked with God about the day and who they could pray for and bless, and the only name they heard was, Sam. Although, when they walked in
to Starbucks and only saw women, they never thought they would meet a "Sam" in there.
But, alas, they did. Me.
I know this is long, but it was SO encouraging. I had to share. The lady, Joy, prayed for me. She prophesied things and prayed things that spoke right to my heart. God whispered pieces to her that I knew were right on target.
And then I thanked them and hopped back in the car. Just like that.
God loves you SO much that He will even talk to other people about you. He is everywhere you go, even when you aren't looking for Him. And His words over you and to you are ALWAYS good. Always.
The month we've all been waiting for. January, a great excuse to start over, clear out the old and bring on the new. Stop, I know what you're thinking. It's not the month you've been waiting for...I get it. I really do. But if you look hard enough, there are a few things to perk up your mood.
I joined the gym. Yup. That's right. Half-Marathon number 2, here I come. And also, going to the gym in the wee hours of the morning before my house awakes always sounds like a superb idea...I have yet to actually get there.
Purging. The kids closets. Old toys. Our drawers. The BASEMENT! Out with the old, gotta make room for the new.
What else? Oh, meal planning for the week. I dislike, very much, the thought of going to the grocery (more than once a week) when it's below 32 degrees. Welcome to where I live. The land of its-not-gonna-get-above-32-degrees. Meal planning for the week actually creates excitement in my little heart to cook. I mean, cook a good meal. Sure, it may be a "hardy comfort food" type of meal, but still, it's gonna be good.
Reading. Yes, lots of reading. Quiet times while the kids are sleeping and the fire is blazing. Yes, lots of that.
I don't want any readers to think that I am ignorant to the fact that January also brings in some negative attributes.
Cold. Toilet. Seats.
Terrible, I know. And yes, I am thankful that I can use a toilet and I don't have to wander outside to a hole in the ground, but still, I am entitled to my opinion, and that includes the dislike of ice cold toilet seats.
Layers. Getting the children ready to go anywhere takes approximately 10-15 minutes longer than it did in summer. And that's for my 2 children. I can't imagine the multiplication of 4 or more children.
Jackets (which they need help to zipper). Gloves (their fingers never line up). Socks (which of course are still upstairs in their dressers). Shoes (not the slip-on kind, the kind that make me sweat).
I choose to stop there.
January used to make me shiver. It made me sad. It made me nervous. But now, it's really no big thang. You want to know what we've really been up to around here...
SO MANY BIRTHDAYS, and it's so much fun to prep for Valentine's Day. Click on these links and check some of the projects that will make your cold wintery house feel warm and full of love.
I'm pretty sure in elementary school we joked about living in "2015".
Like, "Can you even imagine we will be alive and old in 2015?"
And now we are living in that joke, like a real life Back to the Future movie.
Did you set goals?
Did you look back?
Was it a year of highs?
A year of lows?
I suppose no one goes into a new year hoping for the "lows". It's usually a taken-by-surprise kind of thing.
And the highs, the years where babies are born, marriages begin or houses become homes. Those years stick out in comparison.
I'm not sure yet what this year holds for me, for us, for our family. We have high hopes and small-to-big dreams. The truth is, this is the first year in a while where I have been more focused on living in the "now", reveling in the present, than sketching out the future.
Both is necessary.
Both keep us alive. Very alive.
Cheers to 2015, the newness of a new year, and all the goodness and mercy it already holds. I'll leave you with this link, a song from an album Brandon bought me for Christmas. It's on repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
It all started with a guy and his gal in the garden. I'd like to think I'm like them, tending the fruit that's been given to me and learning to capture the beauty all around. It's in my husband. It's in my 2 kids. It's everywhere. These are the revelations I dig up while meeting with the gardener. I'm recording what is in this garden family and what He says to me. Come and join us! You're welcome here.