"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Monday, February 13, 2017

Choosing Gratitude. . .

For the last 31 days, I have made a conscious effort to choose gratitude AND record it daily.

For me, this has been so needed.  I was in a funk.  A bit depressed.  A bit anxious.  Fairly overwhelmed.

Where sometimes merely "counting my blessings" mentally can serve to refocus my nasty attitude, THIS time I needed to be much more intentional.  I needed to recognize the amazing gifts that the Lord sprinkles into each day and grab onto them.  Photography - even crummy cellphone snaps - solidify moments in my heart.  Writing resets my mind.  I made the choice to combine all three because I knew my heart needed me to be as thorough as possible.

31 days later, many of my life circumstances have not changed.  BUT my heart has.

I am calmer.

More centered.

More intentional.

Certainly more grateful and less anxious.

There are still nights that I wake up trying to solve problems that are not mine to solve, however when those racing thoughts wake me, I am able to pray through them - consciously giving each item to the Lord.  I am able to receive His comfort.  I am able to praise Him in the storm.

My one concern with this exercise is that it may appear that my life is perfectly perfect.  One thing I have always tried to be in this blog/journal is transparent.  By exclusively sharing gratitude, I fear I am not giving an accurate assessment of my heart and life.  My life is busy, noisy, and filled with hard choices and insecurities - just like yours.  I am worried about the safety and salvation of my children, just like you.  I am grieving the loss of dreams, just like you.  I am trying to untangle financial situations, just like you.  I am doubting parenting decisions, just like you.  I am trying to fit healthy meals, clean toilets, exercise and laundry into the cracks of life, just like you.  I am being stretched daily as God tries to shape me into a woman who looks just a tiny bit more like Him, just like you.  And for me, setting a side just a few moments to celebrate small gifts is part of that process.

Some days praise and gratitude flow from my fingertips.  Today, I dig deep.  But it is always there. . .

Today, gratitude comes in the form of a bag of dark chocolate carefully hidden where my children will never find it - in the cupboard with all the cleaning products.

Am I deeply grateful for thousands of much more important things?  Sure.  But after a crazy day of tantrums and tears, carpool lines and work deadlines - dark chocolate just feels the most honest.

Thank you God for all the big things.  Truly.  And thank You for hidden treasures, like dark chocolate and clean socks.  Those little things bring balance and simple joy.  Oh how You love me.  Thank You.  I humbly and ever so sincerely thank You.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Choosing Gratitude Over "Grumpitude" Days 28-31

Lumping four days together. . . how's that for efficient?!?

Sierra and I took off on our first "college road trip" early Thursday morning.

 Although Sierra is only a junior, she has watched the "choose your college" process a few times and she knows that she likes TIME to make choices, so we started college shopping early.  I LOVE visiting college campuses.  Each one has a heartbeat all its own.  I love the energy, the enthusiasm, and the excitement of a college campus.  So many dreams are being formed.  There is a freshness and an undaunted sense of purpose.  It is such a special season of life, and walking my kids through the process of finding the school that fits their dreams and personality brings me much joy.

We visited three college campuses.  We learned so much.  The school Sierra thought was her first choice ended up being one she did not like - AT ALL!  The one that she thought she was least interested in has gone on her maybe list.  And several new schools have been added to the list of colleges she would like to visit.

Going to visit these schools gave her added confidence.  Some of the mystery is gone, and she has more understanding of what she does and does not want in a college.  Although I do not know where she will end up, I am confident she will make a great decision.

In addition to viewing colleges, we ate some yummy food, used the hotel gyms, and caught an awesome high school show while in Minneapolis.  Simon - you were amazing!  It was such a fun night!

Spending one on one time with any one of my kids is such a gift.  These days spent with Sierra will be ones I treasure always.  I am so thankful that Chad was able to take a bit of time off so that it could happen.

My dad helped out with Mataya one morning while I was away - and our spunky, little peanut got to ride horse!  She has always wanted to try riding, however when she's gotten close to the horses she has frozen up in fear.  Not this time!  This time she did it!  She was SO proud.  When she told me about it on the phone she said, "MOM!! I RODE HORSE!  I sat with grandpa and held onto the horn.  MOM!  It was SO fun!! I am so happy!"

My awesome dad snapped a couple of selfies of the event because he knows me well.  I am one spoiled girl!

We got home on Saturday just in time to party with family!  My amazing husband had cleaned, cooked, and was prepared to host his family.  It was so nice to have them here.

My last thankful thought is perfectly captured in this a photo.  It is one that I suspect will always be one of my favorites.
I can not begin to explain how much Mataya has missed Jamison this semester.  She talks about him all the time.  She makes him art projects constantly.  She practices cheering for him.  She has even started pretending he is sleeping in his room, insisting that I must be quiet so I do not wake him up.  When I remind her that he is at college, she shakes her head NO and insists he is sleeping in upstairs.  It is both sweet and heartbreaking!

Yesterday he did not have an indoor meet so he had time to come home for a bit.  Although she typically plays hard-to-get when he arrives, she missed him so much that she forgot all about that silliness.  Instead, she raced outside and met him at his truck. She climbed all over him and hugged him BIG.  When he finally got the chance to sit down, Chad captured her glee in this photo. They played chase, and catch, and hide and seek.  He loved her well, and she did the same.

Few things fill my momma heart the way my kids loving each other well does.

Without a doubt, it is relationship that makes life more beautiful.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Choosing Gratitude Over "Grumpitude" Day 27

I am so very thankful for the flexible office job that I have.

Bringing Mataya to work is such a blessing. I adore all the time I have with her.  And the guys we employ adore her.  She makes us laugh every day.  

She delights in drinking gatorade from a coffee cup, trying to fool everyone into thinking she drinks coffee.  

She hooks her bare toes (she never wears shoes) on the floor trim outside of Glenn's office and plays peaks at him while he works, giggling like crazy when he catches her.

She colors for hours at her desk, which is attached to mine.

She sneaks way too much candy out of the candy jar on my counter and rarely throws the wrappers in the trash.

She makes a zoo with her Little People animals and takes her "Elsa" dolls to visit the zoo, pretending quietly on the rug behind my desk.

She loves to open the mail.

She thinks watching PBS on the chair in Daddy's office is the greatest.

She pretends to be scared of several of our employees, refusing to talk to them when they stop to say hello.

She loves cleaning toilets.

She drags her infamous pink blankey all over the dusty floors like Linus on Charlie Brown.

She yells, "DADDY!!!!!!!" and runs to hug him whenever he walks into the room.

Today I got involved in a task and worked a bit later than planned, and my little peanut curled up in a chair in Daddy's office (which connects to mine) and took a nap.

While there are moments of chaos and distraction, I will always treasure these days of officing with Mataya.  Always.  They are such a gift.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Choosing Gratitude Over "Grumpitude" Day 26

Today, I am thankful for snow.

Snow has sustained us this winter.

This fall we had several large projects that were going to keep us busy through the winter.  Both were delayed through no fault of our own.  We were very uncertain of how the Lord would provide for us and our guys this winter - but we have learned that He always does.

I would be lying if I told you I never had a moment of doubt or fear.  I have confessed my lack of belief and begged God to understand my prayer of, "I believe.  Help my unbelief."

I have tossed and turned and paced throughout many nights rather than resting in the assurance that He is the Provider.  I have often failed.  He has never failed me.

Today, once again, He sent snow.

In our "business plan," snow is filler work.  On an average winter, it keeps our equipment somewhat active in the winter.  Some winters we only move snow a handfull of times.

This winter, the winter we did not know how we would keep our guys busy, the massive amounts of snow that God has sent our area has caused our employees to have some of their largest paychecks ever because of extreme amounts of overtime.

It is unbelievable, really.

Just this morning, I was able to thank God for this time of uncertainty.  This time of Him providing us our daily bread.  While I much prefer the times when we have several projects running and I feel "financially secure" this time of daily dependency has refined me.  It has highlighted just how much I love feeling in control.  Having a plan.  How often I depend on my strength rather than His.  The truth?  He is my Provider.  His plan is much better than my plan.  He is faithful.  He gives good gifts in His time as He wills.

More than likely, I will always have days when I confess, "I believe.  Help my unbelief."  Days when I long for things to be done MY way.  Days when I long for earthly security and a safe, stable plan.

But for today I say, "Thank you God for miraculous provision.  For using something I hate, snow, to provide for my family and the families of the men we employ.  You are a good, good Father."

"I believe; help my unbelief." Mark 9:24

Monday, February 6, 2017

Choosing Gratitude Over "Grumpitude" Day 25

Today I introduced Mataya to glitter.

Could anything be as wonderful and amazing as glitter to a peanut that loves projects?

Glitter spreads and sticks very much like LOVE!  Remember that if you are one of the lucky ones that receives a glittery, gluey Valentine in the mail from Mataya!

Fortunately for me, she loves cleaning up as much as "projecting."  When I ask if she wants to wash dishes she responds with utter delight, "Yes Mommy!  That would make me happy! I LOVE washing things!"

Oh if we ALL expressed the JOY that she does in the ordinary, it would be a much better world!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Choosing Gratitude Over "Grumpitude" Day 24

Superbowl supper ended up being leftover appetizers we had in the freezer from New Year's Eve, AND I am declaring is a MOM SUCCESS!

You see, rather than stressing about buying groceries and cooking fun food, I enjoyed my big kids yesterday and my littlest today.

I chose presence over perfection.

And I did not feel ANYTHING but GOOD about it.

That is HUGE, people.

(PS - Does Mataya not have the longest, thickest lashes ever?!?)

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Choosing Gratitude Over "Grumpitude" Day 23

Though I have no pics to prove it, it was a precious day.

My dad and I road tripped by ourselves.  I don't get much time with my dad, and I never get one on one time with him.  Several hours alone in the car was a gift.

The first item on our agenda was watching Jamison race.

He ran his first college mile.  He went out hard and fast.  His stride was a thing of beauty.  He has been training for shorter races, which showed at about the 800 M mark when his stride tightened up considerably.  However, he relaxed back into the race and finished in 4:41.  Since his fastest high school 1600 time was 4:40 ran outside, and a 1600 is about 9 M shorter than a mile, so I am calling this a PR.

While it is always fun to watch him race, the real highlight of the event was getting to talk to him for an hour or so after the race.  We have only texted and had very brief conversations since he returned to school, so catching up with him was so good for this momma's heart.

As a bonus, my aunt and uncle came to watch him race.  Catching up with my aunt was soooo good.  Watching the lives of my cousins and their families unfold on social media keeps us a bit connected - but there is nothing like face to face conversation!

After watching Jamison race, we had the pleasure of listening to Brenna in concert.  She was a part of the ACDA choir festival.  700 students auditioned for this festival 190 of which were chosen to attend, so being there was quite an accomplishment.  The choir she was a part of performed 5 songs under the direction of a collegiate director from SD.  They were phenomenal!

After the concert we had supper at Brenna's restaurant of choice, Noodles and Co, before road tripping back home.

I feel so lucky that I was able to be at these events. Though my "Saturday work" remained untouched, it will be there tomorrow.  Today was precious time spent enjoying precious people.  I am so very lucky to have been present.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Choosing Gratitude Over "Grumpitude" Day 22

Krissy did my hair today!

Fresh highlights always make me happy - but when they include several hours of one on one time with my talented daughter, it is a GOOD day!

One more month and Krissy is DONE with school.  I am so proud of her.  Schooling is always a challenge, but she conquered school while nursing, then pregnant, and now nursing and parenting two tiny ones.

You amaze me Krissy!  You truly amaze me.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Choosing Gratitude Over "Grumpitude" Day 21

Today, I am thankful that my children make me laugh.

I was once again solving the world's problems overnight - AKA not sleeping because my brain was too busy to rest - so today I am totally overtired.

I am also fairly overstimulated.  With the guys working at the house, it has been noisy and dirty.  They need me to make small choices frequently and quickly.  Work has been a flood of mini, yet important, details as well.  When my brain is this full, I have a hard time concentrating on Mataya's constant chatter.

Today, she had enough of me being distracted!

After trying to tell me something and being interrupted several times, she became frustrated.  She finally broke through my busy brain by saying, "Old lady! Listen to me please!" in the sweetest, most energetic way.

Oh my goodness, it totally cracked me up. Totally.

I often call Mataya "little lady."  I do not use it when she's in trouble, but in a playful way to get her attention.  The fact that she copied my technique, while changing the adjective to be more appropriate, blew me away.  She had no idea that "old lady" could be an insult, she just wanted me to listen to her.  The irony that I really am an "old lady" toddler mom has made me laugh out loud every time I think of it.

In addition to insulting my age, Mataya had many precious things to tell me today.
"You are the best."
"We are best friends."
"We are a team."
"I love you sooooo much mommy."

You are such a gift, Hopie girl.  God was soooo good to send you to me.  You make my heart happy.

My other giggle came today when I found this series of selfies-by-Brenna on my phone!

Brenna is my joy.  My biggest helper.  She sees what needs to be done and does it.  She has a sweet, selfless servant's heart.  She faithfully asks how she can help clean up after supper.  She steps in to help with Mataya when I am running behind.  She is the only one who knows just how I like the counters wiped off.  She bakes and cooks and joyfully helps me in all sorts of very practical ways.  

And yesterday, when she came home from school and discovered a filthy, sheetrock dust covered house and supper not yet complete, she dove right in to help.  As I scrubbed, she peeled potatoes while entertaining Mataya.  And while I scrubbed some more, she figured how to set up my new phone. . . which is how and why I found these pictures.  

Silly, cute, smart and helpful?!?  What more could I ask for?

Brenna Joy-Joy, I appreciate you more than you know.  Thank you so very much for all that you do.  I am in awe of your quiet, servant's heart.  What a blessing you are!  What an amazing blessing you are!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Choosing Gratitude Over "Grumpitude" Day 20

A wall came down at our house today!

For over a year, I have been hoping to partially tear down the wall between out family room and the rest of the house.  Although we entertain large groups 6-10 times a year, this house did not function as well as I wished for crowds.  I needed additional serving space, and to get the crowd out of the kitchen where traffic flow is less than ideal.  I was positively giddy when they cut this big old hole in!

Before all is said and done, cabinets will be built.  Counter top will be added. . . along with the entire house needing to be scrubbed.  (UGH!  The dust that remodeling creates!) But I love it already.  The light from the family room floods the heart of our home, and the entire house feels more airy.

I am thankful today for this opportunity to make our home more functional.

Even more, I am thankful for the men who are here doing the work.  We have amazing employees, right now.  They are kind, highly skilled, and enthusiastic.  They work  hard and take great pride in their work.  They are also quality individuals.  I never worry about what Mataya might hear or see around our current group of employees.  It is an honor and privilege to employ them.