Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Borrowed Faith

I stood in the corridor, still and mildly confident. The warehouse church had emptied aside from a few staff stragglers. Christmas season was a upon us. I was in a weird place all my own not quite knowing which way was up or which way was down, but my life felt down. 

I had graduated from college 6 months earlier and where I had imagined being was not where I was. With a degree taking me nowhere, a job donning an aloha shirt at a hotel front desk, living in my mother’s 2-sheets-as-walls dining room, I was sure twenty-two was a punishment. If it weren’t for Karen, I know I wouldn’t have been standing in church that night. 

I am the oldest of three children but quintessentially an only child. My parents divorced when I was five. Truth be told, I have no idea how they were ever together, but at thirty-two, I am beginning to understand people really ARE just people! Early on I became my mother’s best friend & at five, it emotionally matured me to thirteen. I carried her burdens, I cared for her in my heart as my own child, I sot to protect her from everything, not because she asked, but because it just came to be. I looked after my brother and sister (only a year and one week apart, they were like twins and I was too old to fit in), I championed for them in wars that were not mine to fight. At fourteen I internally became mother to my siblings, best friend to my mother, distanced from my father, and broken teenage girl. 

My first memories of religion were formed in pre-school and Sunday school. I remember the Sunday mornings my mom towed us 3 kids under 4 in a Jeep Wagoneer to Sunday school alone, “Daddy isn’t coming. He is sleeping.” It didn’t matter to me then, but the message was built on a thousand other actions & statements: Daddy is absent. 

Mom took us to church throughout our lives, but after the divorce and the move five hours north of Dad, Sunday school wasn’t a comfort, it was a tension, a cause of separation anxiety. So, I grew up in “big church,” listening to messages far above my head, bored to drawing on the church handouts, but eventually deciding I wanted to be baptized at 12. Perhaps because, that’s what good girls do. 

It was December 16, 1992, and my brother and I in our Arroyo Grande, California church, made our public statement of faith. I had invited a few friends and don’t remember much else except for plugging my nose, getting wet, & receiving a gold cross necklace, yet every December 16, I remember it. 

Life carried on in what I called my traveling circus but the further on the years went, the more I tried to lose myself in everyone else’s God. 

Catholic school presented the opportunities to perform and behave within the right groups yet break the right rules. I was Christian Ministry leader, a speaker at retreats, yet, so broken inside that boys were the hollow answer to feeling loved. No matter how many religious talks I could give, or chances I had to turn down drugs & alcohol, I always managed to find the ways to become the monocle of spiritual failure. At 19, standing outside of my college dorm building, freshly home from a month living in Italy, I made it clear to God, “I’m done with YOU to punish them. I’m never good enough so this dance I’ve done is over.”

I was angry. So, so angry. I was in an abyss years deep of isolation from my family. My platform in life existed to champion for one victim & hold contempt for one villain. I felt I had every excuse to have been a statistic of what goes wrong when parents suck, but I kept fighting to be the antithesis (and failed).

I wandered through Catholic college bouncing between the vision of devoted bible student and entertaining the party life. I found the wrong boyfriend & learned how good it felt to fight. All of my pent up frustration came out in the form of this one awful relationship. Truth is I was as bad for him as he was for me. Somehow, though, I left college without that engagement ring we had talked about and moving back to the land of the trapped yet free. 

I was 22. I was home and lost. I stood in a church my life-long friend had invited me into. I was tied up in a bondage of depression and I wanted more. I was ready for more. 

I stood in the corridor, still and mildly confident. The warehouse church had emptied aside from a few staff stragglers. Christmas season was a upon us. I was in a weird place all my own not quite knowing which way was up or which way was down, but my life felt down. I was ready for up. I was ready for Jesus. I realized, with two sets of hands on me,  answering yes to the question, “Do you believe that Jesus is your savior?” that all of these years of thinking I was a Christian, I was merely living on borrowed faith. 

A brush of wind pulled from my back as I was prayed over to be made new. I felt Jesus then. Jesus became mine, not my mother's, not the church’s, but mine. On December 21, 2004, I wasn’t just a Christian by title, I knew I was God’s daughter. That night I understood Jesus is REAL. He is safe, forgiving, ever-present, the one who works all my brokenness for His good. 

This Christmas, I am taking a moment to hold closely what Karen invited me into ten years ago and celebrate His perfect love for my constant imperfection.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

O Come O Come Emmanuel

I'm wondering where Christmas is, because it doesn't quite feel like it's here.
It should be here, as in my heart, nestling in and rooting itself within me, but I'm detached, feeling it slip by, aching for a way to hold on.
The ornaments aren't hung, and I kind of like it like this.
The outside brought in.
The rearranging of furniture to make it fit.
Now...if only I could rearrange my mind and my soul to make it fit inside my heart.
The glory of Jesus' birth brought in.
I am going through the motions.
Staring at boxes nestled away 11 months of the year and the part of me that was eager to open them two weeks ago is tired now.
I'm tired of the "clean up your toys" battle.
It makes me feel like I'm failing at nurturing gratitude & is robbing me of the joy I find in giving.
It makes me feel like Christmas decorations are just another mess.
I want to embrace my Savior's birth.
I want to remember the Christmas I lost our second baby but gained a sliver of perspective on JUST what Mary gave.
She gave her son.
HER baby boy.
Born in a barn, far from home, fulfilling promise for mankind.
For ME!
I will come to the table and meet with Him.
Over and over each day
Laying down my heart churning with both gratitude & burden.
I'll let Him in to change the spirit of Christmas from adorned home to adored life.
And I will praise.
That is what I will do. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Gift of Experience

Christmas is coming.

I love this season for the magic it brings. Twinkling lights, Rosie Thomas Christmas music, the smell of a fresh turkish fur, chilly weather, decorations, & the spirit of intention; that's what I see in the still small anticipatory moments. I fear however, like every month, the time ushers past me too quickly and I'm caught up in the navigation of daily life with the added holiday agenda.

Already I am dreaming of Christmas morning and seeing the faces of some of those I love opening up presents. I have spent possibly too much time considering just what to wrap up for them before purchasing. Then there's the worry that my children will MISS the reason of the season: Jesus. That I will miss JESUS in the season!

Yesterday, in an epic toy explosion we call KK, we had the chance to examine every single toy we own strewn out around the living room. Wide eyed, my husband and I stared at each other: this is NOT what we want!

I shared, "Sweetie, I really WANT to ask people NOT to get our children toys for Christmas," and he acquiesced.

Now before you think I'm a horrible mother trying to strip the magic of Santa's delivery or rob grandparents of their ability to love long distance, it's NOT that I want to rob my children, it's quite the opposite, I want to GIVE to my children. I am not against the idea of gifting (after all, it's MY very own love language. I LOVE gift giving). What I want though for my children is the gift of experience.

I know, Skylanders are an experience (a technologically odd one but an experience none the less), blocks expand the mind, remote helicopters are fun (for dad), & nerf guns are fabulous but they all lose their magic. Each toy that was so highly coveted soon becomes a thing of the past and only remembered if in generations to come they are resurrected again, like Ninja Turtles or Strawberry Shortcake. What takes longer to dissipate, what builds bonds, what grows relationships is the gift of experience.

From my childhood, what I cherish most now is the gift my grandma gave of The Candy Cane Tree. Before she arrived at our house, she'd hang a barren tree with dozens of candy canes. All three of us would line up at the end of the street and at the word GO would race down and strip the tree of it's new peppermint leaves and see who won the "who got the most!" contest. I remember all of the clothes we would get and between cousins our eyes would meet and silently say, "I can't wait to return this with you on our after-Christmas shopping trip!" I LOVE the annual gift my Aunt and Uncle gave us of family bowling WITH team shirts. And of course, there is always the gift of Christmas Dinner at the castle. Gifts of love, time, & laughter that just STICK in my heart like cinnamon roll frosting on my fingers.

I don't want my children to relive my experience and the magic it brought me. I want them to have their own. I want them to be sown into with opportunity: college support, swimming lessons, a chance to go to the movie theater, an art class, a pottery painting hour, a date for a shake at Sonic, a trip to Dutch Brothers for a hot chocolate. Some of these experiences are less than $5 and give the gift of living life outside of our own financial ability to provide or sustain.

The humbling part is that I realize in writing this that my wish to dictate what is given to my children is selfish. I want to orchestrate the love that is sent to them, given to them, doted upon them to fit within my parenting dreams.

In this moment, I stare at the sea of legos, the ninja turtle figurines, and the endless supply of hot wheels and wonder, is this not relational experience too between brothers? Perhaps I am off base. The heart of this rant, however, is my acknowledgement that time is invaluable and what an amazing opportunity to gift others in our lives with small gifts to encourage relationship. At the very epicenter of my heart is the desire to spend less time frustrated at the chaos of cleaning & more time GIVING LIFE to my family in the art of making memories.

{Looking for ideas on how to give non-toy gifts?? Check out this post!}

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Recovering from Recovery

We have come through to the other side of Kheler's post surgical recovery! 

We made it! 

It wasn't like we expected, yet we didn't actually know what to expect.

It was hard

You know how doctors give you those "there's a 10% chance x, y, & z could happen" statistics and you think, "Well, THOSE are great odds!"? 

Well, they ARE good odds, but we weren't the 90%, we were the 10%. 

I circled my emotional drain multiple times a day. 

Each morning I started my day on my 1/8' of the bed with the verbal proclamation, "I can't do this!" and I meant it. It wasn't a hypothetical statement, it was one I believed in my core. 

It turns out, we have a VERY strong willed, determined, and stubborn son. All three years of him convinced us that he will become a doesn't-take-dookie Navy Seal Commander. That kid had my husband and I, two people on the same team, convinced the other was an under cover spy working for the enemy. 

We had a son who had become a popsciletarian, anti-beverage, and could be a poster child for DARE...he WOULD NOT take the drugs! I mean, bravo to him, I hope it stays that way, but in this particular season, we were practically {no, we actually were} pinning him down, blowing air up his nostrils to get him to open his mouth long enough to super-soak his throat with hydrocodone only to watch him volcanically erupt it back in our direction. Did you get winded by the ridiculous length of that sentence? It was worse in real life.

In all of it's empty, ugly, exhausting, heart breaking misery though, there was life being planted for us. 

The only comparison I have now for what we went through and now being on the other side is that it was like depression. When you are depressed, truly, dark hole, desolate depressed, you can't even fathom what a smile feels like or remember what happiness FEELS like. People TELL you you will feel it again, but the numbness has spread too deep. 

This was like that. I KNEW it was temporary, but I COULD NOT see the light. I could NOT get on my knees and pray...I could only beg. My prayers became like tick marks on a prison wall, "Just make it stop. Make.It.Stop!" I KNEW there was an ending, but I didn't see how we were going to feel normal again. And in ALL of that, I felt greedy for taking up air space with God. 

Who was I to be praying for a fever, a bleeding throat, a child who was fighting me to get better when there are others with so much more persistent pain? 

I found myself void of the reality that this inconsequential moment in my life MATTERED to Him.

But that's where He worked. 

He climbed in the holes others were keeping Him FOR me. 

He lived in my neighbor who lovingly shared her empathy and was my guide through this. He used her as the echo reminding me, "You're not alone!"

He breathed through my best friend who sat on the other end of the phone letting me be angry and telling me, "I'm sorry," which was exactly what I needed...just to vent.

He lifted me up through my girl friends as we tri-talked via group chat in facebook. When I went silent, they said, "Get real with us!"

He hugged me & spread His covering over me through the servants heart of a friend who put together a meal train, made treat and present deliveries and showed up at the ER the second time Kheler had to go in.

He stared me in the face each time I opened my door and found a balloon, stuffed animal, gift, flowers or a note from a complete stranger wishing us well.

My friend Carin wrote the most beautiful blog & included a bit about our walk through this recovery. She wrote, "I felt like walking behind her that week with a sign pointing at her that read 'BE NICE! She hasn't slept in a week and her baby boy is really really sick. Buy her a coffee.'" And it made me CLING to the reality that we are LOVED, we are PROVIDED for, we MATTER. It makes me want to LOVE out harder, more compassionately, more sacrificially, more intentionally than ever.

It was dark. It is light again. We each have our seasons where we need someone behind us with a sign. Who are you holding the sign for right now? Who do you need to hold a sign for? Are you the one who needs the sign? 

Know this, the sun always shines again.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

50 Shades Past Exhausted

The days have all run in together making me lose track of time, thoughts, and even peace.
I have been watching my son slowly (SO slowly) try to heal from a seemingly minor, "everyone does it" surgery and I am weary. Even with hoards of love, prayer, and concern cast forth upon us, I am weary. 
It was the other night that I found myself battling it out with Jesus. 
50 shades past exhausted, I held my son in newly changed sheets sans bile, as he breathed deeply drifting into rest.
"Jesus, I KNOW you can heal. I KNOW you DO heal. But I can't ask you to heal this because I feel selfish. There are families dealing with cancer, death, terminal illness, and I am desperate after four long days; four long days that I know have an imminent end. HOW is this ok? HOW are children being sick ok?"
I grappled in perhaps the most real I have ever let myself get with Jesus. I was angry & it seemed trite. I was too tired to scoot my chair back and excuse myself from the table with Him. 
I processed this with two of my girl friends. One of them so astutely asked, "Have you 'heard' anything placed into your heart from Him during these days?" And I had. I had been reminded in love, "Don't put human limits on me" but I shuffled past that dealt card and kept on moaning. Angry that I couldn't take my son's pain for him, doubting my motherly instinct to proceed with the surgery, fearing that my son would be traumatized by this. I couldn't lay my thoughts down and turn the battle off. I couldn't rest in the truth in my delirium. 
My husband is my best friend and teammate and here we are, at opposite ends of our son, pinning him down, forcing another syringe ever so gently against his grinding teeth and fitful body thrashing, forgetting to speak to each other in love. Sheer desperation for this to be OVER we find it easier to grumble, grunt, and toss out the "I wish you had's". 
In ALL of this, I have been just crushed inside that parents deal with this over much more severe illnesses and I felt the weight of their heavy shoulders bearing down on my lungs squeezing all of my remaining breath from my soul.  My body & bed have been paired magnets disabling my ability to move. 
"Jesus, I don't understand this world and it's hurts. I KNOW you took on all sin so I could have everlasting life. I KNOW you understand human pain, hunger, thirst, need for you were once here, too. I love you, even when I am angry and fighting you with my toddler fists demanding answers. I KNOW you love me, you love my son more than I do. I KNOW. And I'm so sorry I find myself so ungracious right now. Please help me. Protect my marriage, my sons, my self from the battlefield of my own heart and mind in this moment of earthly aching. Amen."

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Tricks of the Save

Ok so saving money tricks is one of my favorite topics! I talk a lot about it lately with other women and of course with my husband as we have now celebrated the accomplishment of 8 years of HARD and focused work!

8 years ago, my husband & I took financial counseling at Saddleback in Orange County when we were first married. We started our marriage with over a combined $80k in debt from from both college & business loans that we were locked in to but that we wanted to be free of to achieve our goals. 

Our family goals included 
1. Buying a home
2. Traveling
3. When we had kids, that I could be a stay at home mom

In the early years, my husband made about $15 and hour and I made $13. We were living on the pennies left over from car payments, student loan payments, and business credit card debt. In our first apartment, we had all hand-me-down furniture that included a lovely set of christmas colored chairs & an ornate glass dining table. We didn't have a couch or living room furniture aside from a television that didn't even have cable and an ikea coffee table. But in it's own right, it was the magic of starting off.

So, we pursued change!

Between the financial tools that Saddleback gave us together & the classes Christan took with the Dave Ramsey plan, we kicked out all debt about four years ago. That makes it sound easy, but it wasn't. It included
PAYING a car dealership to take back one of our cars, carpooling, doubling up credit card payments, doubling up student loan payments, knocking out debt one debt at a time until 1 year ago we were entirely debt free. It included other sacrifices like not having cable {which we still don't have}.

If we HADN'T done this, two years ago when we BOTH lost our jobs we would have lost our home. As it was, we had no car payments and no pending debt we owed on. We had an emergency savings account we had poured into at Dave Ramsey's teaching and it "paid" for one of the hardest years of our life where we DID have to sell our home and move out of state to find work. However, today, after just celebrating a year of employment we have accomplished remaining DEBT FREE, buying a new home, and owning two new cars. It's HUGE for us. 

How do we do it now?

-We are on a cash only system. With each pay period I pull out our cash for things like Groceries, Gas, Clothes, Dates, Babysitting & Gifts. I have all of our cash organized in a coupon filer. When the cash is gone, we don't spend. 

-We have an amazing budgeting tool we were gifted from Saddleback that we use to help us figure out where the money goes and how much we have for the necessities as well as the fun. 

-We have a spreadsheet that shows which bills fall into which pay period so I know exactly what goes out and when it goes out by week. 

Other Savings Tricks

Every morning I do 3 things:
1. Load coupons to my Freddy's card. The coupons I load to my grocery shopping rewards card are automatically deducted at check out + they let me print my coupon/shopping list to help.

2. Check couponpro 

​3. Check groupon & living social for family activities & restaurant deals  (the reality is we WILL use them at some point and we LOVE adventure so we budget for it and pre-plan for it. My motto is without a plan both time and money are wasted)

I also....
1. Do a lot of online shopping in order to save! I use ebates to shop because they give me quarterly cash back kick backs for just linking my shopping through them & retailmenot to always check from promo codes before I check out.

2. Use my YELP app wherever I go! There are often check in incentives like a free drink, 10% off, etc.

3. Use Target's Cartwheel App + the Shopkick app when I'm at Target because I save a lot

4. I always plan ahead - if something is one sale and I know we use it, I buy it {clothes, gift cards through Freddys, cleaning supplies}. I keep a back stock so nothing is ever an urgent purchase.

5. I recycle. We often have soda cans and water bottles in stock so as we drink I save them and I take them to Costco or the local grocery store to recycle. It's worth the couple dollars I get back from that for me me to put towards my groceries.

6. I Christmas shop & Birthday shop all year long. I keep the gifts in my closet so it spreads out the financial "burden" of gifting {which I love to give gifts}

In the end
Saving is a way of life for me. 
I value it & it IS my job. 
My husband has asked me to track how much I save and when I save so we can truly understand the income I currently make with the hard work that goes into PLANNING, RESEARCH, & SAVING.

I am tremendously GRATEFUL that we have taken the lessons we learned early on seriously. There were times we felt desolate and utterly discouraged as we looked at other people and what they had. What we have experienced in the last year as a result of YEARS working to better our financial situation, however, is irreplaceable. I don't see what we don't have. I see what we DO.
We live on one income, I am home with my kids, we LIVE life & I LOVE that! It's worth all my time learning and saving.

What are some of your tricks??

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Heat, Heat, Go Away

I spent another evening, night, and now this morning deep in thought.
I've been chastising my self for how I was made; that I was made to love cool, calm climates & detest the heat.
I get that this must sound ridiculous, but I feel this ache in me today that I quite seriously wilt in personality & capability to function when the temperature is above 80.

My best friend loves when it's 75 degrees at a minimum.
I LOVE when it's 65 degrees at a maximum.
We have always made jokes about it.

Yes, I am a California girl
I'm a California Coast girl which means that 75 is often breezy but mostly, the weather is cool, calm, and collected 365 days a year.

When we moved to Oregon, I worshiped the rain.
I was vocal about my love of the grey skies and surprised to find that "the overwhelming amount of rain" was really all hype because it's not that bad.... for ME.

Last night we went to family camp at church.
It's not a spend-the-night camp, but just an evening to interact and be intentional with the kids.

For weeks I have been anticipating this event.
Not like, "oh yay I'm so excited!" but like, "oh my gosh! I just don't know if I can DO this!"

It's ok if you're rolling your eyes
I read that and I think, "Duh-RAMA!"
But here's the thing,
I know my self.

Ever since I was young, the heat evaporates who I am.

And last night, I felt truly ashamed by that truth.

Internally I was telling myself how ridiculous I was & I walked away feeling like the worst mom, wife, and church member.  No one said anything to make me feel that way! I just DID.

I found myself wanting to apologize for who I was that evening and explain, God just didn't make me for heat.

But is that real?

Did God not make me for the heat?

I don't know if I buy that.

I just know that the Allegra you get if we're in a coffee shop is ME and who I am if we're outside and I'm sweating is like meeting three-year old me (at BEST).

So if God made us uniquely with gifts or passions for varying things like communicating, art, hiking, gardening, writing, or public speaking, could He also make us uniquely made for climates that bring out the best or worst in our human spirits?

I'm feeling silly for feeling crummy about who I am today....


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

high dives and puddle jumps

This is one of those posts where I feel like it could rub people the wrong way. One that puts my heart out there to potentially be cracked, but I feel it churning and when that happens, it has to come out with all of it's truth & good intention.

My son is turning three.
It's the age old tale for me of making sure everyone is included, no one is left out, and most of all my children only know love.
The tale is a twisted one with bumps and bruises from falls {high dives and puddle jumps} but it all comes down to divorce.

My parents couldn't be more opposite people, both amazing in their own right of being, but oil and vinegar always separate even IF you shake them up for a bit.

I remember when my first son was coming into the world - I worried not only about my in laws but my two sets of parents. Managing expectations and taking personal responsibility for the emotion management of others is something I can't seem to grow out of. I wear it like the five extra pounds I want to shed but can't quite commit to working off. So the burden sits there, like a noose.

Six years of grandchildren's' birthdays later, I still become achingly aware of the crevice of pain that IS my family. Not my husband's or my children's', but my past that always comes knocking. While I have learned to navigate through it, there is still a five year old girl in me who never gets used to watching her mommy & daddy hate each other.

Most of my life, I've lived near with or near my mom.
31 years of it actually.
For one year, I've lived near my dad.
Growing our friendship, sharing the ins and outs of the little things vs. one week a year relational saturation.
Now my mom is the visitor, the the home field belongs to my dad.
I am the field manager.
I am acutely aware of the precautions that need to be established, the traffic signs that need to be put up to avoid any encounter pre-game.
This year, there isn't a pre-game...no party, no birth for anyone to be forced to co-mingle at the center of the field for; there's just a one sided coin toss:
mom wins one week.
see you in a bit, dad.

The pink elephant in the room LOOMS there.
We all pretend fifteen miles away is one thousand, that every day grandparent roles haven't switched, and a state line doesn't divide us.

I am five on the inside, thirty-two on the outside.
I am a mom who desperately wants my children to be protected from the bad relationships that DO exist in their extended family.
I am the mom who struggles to answer their questions: 
"Who's your mommy & who's your Daddy, mommy?"
I am the daughter who probably won't ever reconcile the pain it causes me but I will continually unload the burden on Jesus to show me how to love like a grown woman, not a hurt child.

My son is turning three.
Separate celebrations will happen because it's best for everyone involved;
But wouldn't it be amazing IF we could all lay the burden down and BE love for that little boy in one place, at one time, all together?

It would.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Managing Summer

 I feel like Summer just SNUCK up on me & I can't quite wrap my head around all my hopes, dreams, plans & goals.

Last night I just had to sit down, write it out, and get it on paper.

My personal reality is I have an etsy store that I want & need to succeed. I'm also a mom of a 2.5 year old & 6 year old with night & day personalities {one extrovert who wants all day attention & one introvert who wants quiet time}. Of course then there's also my short resume that includes home accountant, maid, entertainment manager, personal shopper & saver, behavior & character development manager, wife, friend, short order chef, & self.

To wrap my head around all of this succeeding, I had to lay it out not for a strict sense of following a timeline, but to have some structure and order to our every day routine.

At the heart of our family mantra is COLLECT MOMENTS & MAKE MEMORIES so my husband and I really love to live actively with our kids. It includes taking pictures and things as simple as a picnic at the park or last minute pizza dinner at a playground. We love adventure, newness & exploring. I figured with limited brain space for the months ahead, I should do some advance thinking & made a short list for us on those, "I can't think of what to do" moments

So, I'm starting my 1st official Summer Morning following the schedule.
The kids are playing with the legos with PBS Kids on & I'm managing my 2 hour morning work allotment with some instagram marketing, some blogging, & some order processing. 

It's really easy for me to get overwhelmed.
My brain is often a firing ground for chaotic thoughts of lists ranging from the dreams to the do's.
I am HOPING some of this can start to feel natural as I have the grateful gift of being with my boys every day this summer!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Conquering THANK YOU Anxiety

I grew up writing THANK YOU's
It's just what we did...and what we should do!
NO ONE wants to send a gift & question, "did they get it?"
And everyone loves mail!

So, here are a few tips to take the anxiety (& WORK) out of your THANK YOU writing!

Update your address book...without doing any work!

  • Sign up for Postable.com & you will get your own private link to your address book
  • Post the link on FaceBook or in a mass Email then your friends and family will input their own information 
  • Your address book remains private to only you! The link just allows them to get their information in your address book!


Pick an assortment of Cards YOU love!

Take the "work" out of your thank you writing!
  • Invest in a Return Address Stamp {Self Inking makes it even easier!!} 
  • Pick out Stamps from the Post Office that you actually like! {my FAVORITE is the "Vintage Seed Packet" Collection}

  • Start with The Thanks: "I cannot thank you enough for my beautiful candle"
  • Make it genuine: "Once again I find myself in awe of your ability to give just the right thing...."
  • How will you use it: "I cannot wait to burn my candle this summer when I'm relaxing with my books."
  • Talk about them: "Whenever I burn my candle, I will think of you & how we laugh together."
True appreciation doesn't have to be long or labored, it just has to be genuine!
Reference your gift & their importance to you and that's what matters!

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Love Letter to My Home

Dear "Red House"

I have wanted to write this letter to you for a long time, but I just couldn't wrap my heart around the concept of it; the concept of really saying goodbye. I knew that leaving you wasn't an "I'll see you again soon," but a, "thank you for the time we shared" and it burned my eyes and choked my throat.

I wanted to tuck a handwritten note into your eves for only you to know, but I was raw & sore with goodbyes I could barely say. I wanted you to keep a piece of truth in your foundation so that no matter where time took you, you would know, that you ARE loved and always will be.

When I met you, you were so broken. You were abandoned and unloved, forgotten and cast aside. When I saw you, I knew, I knew I wanted to share my life with you. I wanted you to shape me and change me in all the ways that I would do the same for you. I wanted to love you whole as I knew you would do for me.

People might think I'm crazy for loving you so, but it's something I can't explain. You were home. You were the first time I had hope that I could plant roots. Where people saw dust and broken bones, I saw scabs that would heal & scars that would mend. You were my vision, dream home, and you became my reality.

Our first night with you was spent as a family of three on a mattress in your living room. We cuddled there nursing our first born through a high fever on memorial day weekend. You sheltered us then. 
We brought our second born home to you. You let me shape a nursery and dream a room up that I missed with my first. You answered this quiet little dream of mine that lived loudly in my soul.

You hosted our friends and families. You stayed up with me during the sleepless nights. We gave you your white kitchen and you gave it back to us. You shared laughter, arguments, and sorrows with us. 
If your walls could talk....

You let Christan protect you & give me my dream with his hand made white picket fence. You kept my babies safe while they laughed and played in your yard. You entertained us on the lawn for afternoon wine picnics with the neighbors. You were our office & our nest.
Dreams became REAL with you, within you.

So, my dear sweet "Red House" as our boy named you, I love you.
I will always love you.
You could not have inherited a better new family to love and to love you back. You are sheltering them as you sheltered us. They are shaping you as you are shaping them. 
You are no longer a house, you are a home.

With love, 
The family who will always know you as home

Friday, May 23, 2014


I use to think I was the most honest woman out there when it came to motherhood.  And to clarify, it's not because I wanted to be, I just didn't know how to be anything else.

I entered motherhood with so many questions, doubts, fears, and un-met expectations.  I was so fatigued form a near 28 hour labor that I have very few memories of my first son's birth. I remember seeing his face & feeling the sweeping relief that, "it was over." When I brought our son home, for the first time in my life I was over taken by the fear of being alone. I was in need of people to be with me at all times. I went in to motherhood with my walls down and completely raw. I had no qualms saying that it was hard, that I was tired, and I wasn't sure I ever wanted to do it again. Those first months shaped me and that was the honesty I took to the streets. 

Birth wasn't magical. Breastfeeding wasn't miraculous. My relationship to my baby wasn't this serene snow globe of perfection. 

Birth was brutal (& nothing I wanted to see). Breastfeeding was exhausting, isolating, and immensely overwhelming. I loved my baby in a way I couldn't describe, but I was also afraid I wasn't enough for him. 

So I talked about it. I wrote about it. This blog was birthed from it. My Lips In Stitches...a lifelong need to write because my journals were all I had & the reality of becoming a mother melded into this one place, one title with two meanings.

I stepped away from this place after I lost my second baby. 

That was a season that bore a hole into the core of my self-understanding. I berated my ambition & I could not embrace the loss that came on Christmas Eve. It was a dark & long season all while being blessed & good in it's own right. 

My fingers have been idle. My words have been mute. My desire to pour out dried up.

Time has passed. A LOT of time. I've woven in and out of this place but I always end up back here. I'm addicted. I'm addicted to the need to lay it down and walk away new. I toyed with the idea of another new blog. My husband asked, WHY? 

Good point.

I thought on it. 


Because I didn't want to re-share this old place. I didn't want to relive these old words. I was embarrassed. I was afraid that I could be judged for this place. I wanted to remain hidden to those who could reach me but be known to those I'd probably never meet. And I've been thinking on this...thinking on it the way you kneed bread...mundane, repetitive thought that eventually molds itself into a final product, or in this case a decision: I will write here again. I won't change the name or hide from the years that brought me here. I'll own this. I'll let the past and present mingle here and dance showing me what can unfold from my vintage thoughts renewed. 

I'll be honest here as I always have been & I will share. I will unleash the trappings of my heart and be free because of it. 

So, cheers. Cheers to the second volume of a place beginning to be unstitched!