A few weeks ago I took the best trip and I got to meet one of my newest favorite person in this world. Insert heart emoji here…
Guys, I am a mom of boys. I’m a grandma of…. boys. I know boys. I know their rough and tumble energy. I know their sweet spirits. Recently though, I became the grandma of a little GIRL! A Girl. And she is the sweetest little cuddle bug.
Just look at those eyes. I could get lost in them. I took this picture while face timing this little sweetie. I have always told my boys that they should follow their dreams and live where ever they want. That sounded great until the grandkids came along. I should have added the clause “until you have babies and then you have to live within driving distance from ME!”. I’m just kidding here, (sort of) but man it’s so hard being so far away from her.
I absolutely love snuggling tiny new little ones. The way they curl up in your arms. I just take it all in and this girl, oh guys- she KNOWS how to snuggle. Melt. My. Heart.
When I was in the middle of the early mom years, I was exhausted. Late night snuggles were a necessity and I needed sleep. Now they are such a blessing and I enjoyed every single minute. It’s funny how things really do come full circle.
As I look back at the pictures we took, I’m already planning my next trip. Leaving was the worst, going back will be the best. Isn’t that just life? Anyway, I just wanted to share this sweet moment with all of you. I treasure each and every one of the moments like these. My guess is you do too. Hope your life is sweet today as well.
This week I received the sweetest message. My little grandson was “practicing” singing a song that he and his mom often sing together. I’ve listened to it over and over again and every single time I do I can’t help but giggle, it’s just so darn cute!!!!
It’s not the song, although I absolutely love the song, it’s more the innocent seriousness of his voice. Move over Micheal Buble there is a new guy in town.
This kid was emulating his mom, he was looking at the music as if he knew exactly how to read it, then he played those piano keys like the expert he knew he was.
Oh to have the confidence of a child.
Not one right note was played but you wouldn’t know that by watching him.
And when he sings- that little speech impediment of his bellows out the words without shame or fear of what others think.
” I wase a ha-wae-u-ya… sing a yittle yowder…”
Yes buddy I will. I will sing a little louder today. I will raise that Hallelujah and let God know exactly what He means to me. Not because of what He has done, (and He has done so much) but because of the reminder from an innocent child.
I think that short 30 second video was the best definition of Jesus telling his disciples to let the little children come to him.
Because when they come…
As I watched the video I was reminded that God doesn’t care if we sing on key. He doesn’t care if we fall short by human standards, He just wants us to come with our whole hearts.
We may not all fit the social standards of this world, but we do all fit with God.
I sing loud and proud and totally off key. Let’s live the same way; loud, proud, and sold out to a God that loves us completely as we are.
Today let’s be kinder to ourselves and each other and let’s “wase a ha-wae-u-yaa yittle yowder”. We will all feel so much better if we do.
Christmas is a holiday that should remind us to take a step back, relax, and enjoy the moment. It’s a time of gathering together with those we love and watching the little ones find the magic of the holiday.
But for many it is an anxiety filled time of year that causes stress levels to rise and wallets to empty. It’s cookie baking and gift buying (which should be fun… right?) and long to-do lists that as you cross off one thing five more are added.
It’s a season that many need a month (or more) to recover from.
If this is you it may be time to reevaluate the season. I know I had to.
I admit that in the past I would bake cookies until late at night and find myself wrapping gifts on Christmas eve instead of watching a movie with the family or reading a story to the kids. I had so many things to do for those I love that I wasn’t really there for those I love…
This year there are not nearly as many cookies ready for Christmas. I cut down on my budget and I’ve already gotten most of my gifts wrapped. Now, I’m not saying this to brag or to make anyone feel bad about all that is still left to do- I’m saying it because man, I needed this. I needed to find peace in the season and I needed to stop the insanity of it all.
I love the lights, I love the gifts, I REALLY love the cookies (maybe I love them a little too much- but we can talk about that in the new year) Oy vey.
Seriously though, how many of you are struggling this holiday? How many of you are watching the news and losing hope? How many are fighting an internal fight that no one knows about and it’s killing you? I’m not being dramatic here- I wish I was.
If that’s you please know that there is hope.
The gift I want to give you this Christmas is the gift that I paid nothing for. But instead, it’s the gift that Jesus paid for with His whole life. If you need hope and you need help and you need a fresh start and a new life- then please take this gift. You can’t find it in a store, you can’t earn it, you can never do anything too bad or too good for it- it’s not about you and I. (Thank goodness cuz this girl doesn’t deserve it at…all…) No more excuses, no more putting it off. This is the time to change your life.
So, let’s just get rid of all the normal arguments and just really be honest here:
Are you good enough? Probably not.
Are you going to “do better first”? Straighten some things out first? Stop thinking bad thoughts, stop swearing, stop…. (you can fill in the blank here) Probably not and neither am I. Jesus doesn’t want you as you think you need to be- He wants you exactly as you are right now and that may seem unbelievable but I promise you it’s 100% true.
What we need to stop is making excuses. We don’t need to change anything; He came as He was to accept us as WE ARE. Right now, in the midst of the mess, in all our ridiculous, crazy, and sinful ways. Don’t wait any longer. Life is short and unpredictable, but our eternity doesn’t have to be.
This isn’t a temporary fix. This is an eternal solution.
If you need Jesus and some hope in this crazy world, then pray this prayer today. It’s that simple. All you have to do is tell Him and mean it. He does the rest. I love you all and my prayer today is that you find the hope that I have found and that we will spend eternity celebrating the most precious gift of Jesus together. Let’s put the insanity of the season aside and take hold of the one gift that can literally change everything.
The prayer is simple, just like receiving a perfectly wrapped package from a friend, and the contents will literally change your life forever.
Jesus, I need you. I believe you died on a cross for me and I want you to be my savior. I want you to come into my life today and give me hope. I know that I’ve made mistakes, I know that I’ve sinned and I ask you to forgive me for all of them. I pray that you will come into my heart right now and save me. In Jesus name I pray- Amen.
Jesus is a gift I can never repay and a gift that I can’t live without, but He is also a gift that I can give to you and I truly hope you will receive this gift today.
What a long week. I have to be honest, guys I’m exhausted. As I sit here writing tonight, I admit that at one point this week I got on social media to get away from it all. You know how it is. I just wanted some mindless scrolling. I wanted to look at people’s family pictures and see what they had for dinner. I was planning to ignore the political posts and opinion pieces; I just wanted a break. As I scrolled though, the opposite happened. I found that a really kind hearted soul had passed away. I saw that some terrible tragedies had occurred, and some dear friends were struggling. I searched for hope, I searched for some positivity but the heaviness of the world just wouldn’t budge.
I immediately texted my husband and told him that I really needed to hear his voice. I just needed one minute of him telling me all the things I already knew; that God is still in control, that someday all our tears will be wiped away and that today it’s ok to feel the pain and stand in faith, even if we don’t understand.
And I did not understand.
I guess we all get too that place don’t we?
I was reminded that when life hits like this we have two choices to make- we can either run to God or away from Him. We can either get bitter or get better. Faith was never meant to be easy, but man is it powerful.
As Friday finally arrived, I finished my work day and called home. My husband answered right away. (He had a vacation day to shop with his mom which is one of his favorite Christmas traditions) He said “Listen, I want you to hurry home. I have a hotel room ready to book and a bag packed, we are going to a Christmas concert tonight.” I argued that we shouldn’t stay over, that it was only an hour and a half away and although it would be great to go, maybe we should drive home late that night. I’m so glad he stopped me and said Nicole this is going to be amazing and I want a night away with you. (I always know when he’s serious because nicknames are thrown out the window.)
I threw cloths in a bag, and got in the car.
Guys, I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. I hesitate to even open up my email right now, but I do know who holds my tomorrow, and if there is anything I’ve learned it’s that when your husband says get in the car I want to spend time with you… you get in the car. Tomorrow isn’t promised and today- well, we have to make the best of it and love on those we care so deeply about.
And that concert. It was REALLY awesome. We sang Christmas carols, listened to incredible music, and were encouraged by who God is and what He has done for us.
I needed the reminder.
Now I’d like to say that when I got home things just felt better, that everything fell into place, but the truth is our hurts and hard times don’t just go away and getting home brought a whole new series of gut punches.
What I can say is this- I don’t regret our little spur of the moment get-away, and I don’t regret the few moments of peace I had in the midst of a very stressful week.
Guys, I don’t know what is happening in your life today. I don’t know if you’ve had an awesome week with your family or if you’ve been blindsided by life like I have. What I do know is this, life is unpredictable and when we have a chance to love- we better do it with all our hearts. We need to appreciate the little things and learn to brush off the dust. We need to fight for what matters and put life in perspective.
I really don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that each and every day is a gift and we should hold tight to the people and moments that really matter.
Last night I got to spend some time with the cutest little sweeties I know. We went bear hunting in the kitchen, climbed mountains and crossed rivers. We imagined that the living room rug was a pond and we jumped in and swam.
We used cookie cutters and playdough to create some pretty cool sculptures, none of which I got a picture of because sometimes you just have to put your phone down and enjoy the moment.
There was one moment I enjoyed the most though. One simple tiny moment in time that wrapped my heart up and melted me right there on the spot.
My oldest grandson (3) came up and stood in front of me as I was sitting on the couch. He continued building with his playdough as he snuggled back into me and I rested my head on his shoulder. I said “Ryan, I think I’ll just rest here a minute”. He didn’t miss a beat and replied- “It otay, I wuv you”.
Yes, he can have anything he wants for Christmas this year.
That simple moment in time, seconds really, made all the difference in my whole day.
Simple, needed, loved.
There are so many worries in this world, so many challenges and uncertainties and the day had been long. But this moment refreshed me. This moment made my heart melt. Such a simple phrase from an innocent child who means what he says.
As I melted inside, I felt the Lord’s gentile nudge. I felt the Lord say that this is what He wants for us too. He wants us to come to him. To lay our heads on His shoulder and give Him our burdens. He wants to comfort, protect, and heal. He wants us to get refreshed from all the worries of this world and to know that in Him we can have peace.
He wants us to have simple moments in His presence where He can say “I love you”.
I pray that you will receive His love today and have a much-needed rest from your burdens. Remember His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
I pray today that you wrap your arms around Jesus and let Him whisper in your ear. “My child, I LOVE YOU”.
People cope with their hard times in all sorts of different ways. The way I deal with mine I’m sure looks a lot different than the way you deal with yours. There’s no one right way to deal with them. You just keep pushing and moving forward. I’ve never really been comfortable sharing my personal life but I feel like I have a story to tell. Let me start by telling you how hard life can be.
Hard is when your mom passes away from a tragic accident and you’re only 15.
Hard is seeing your family fall apart because of this loss.
Hard is moving forward in life when all you want is one more hug from her.
Hard is living without my mom.
Hard is receiving a special needs diagnosis when you thought everything was okay.
Hard is watching your husband cry because of the unknowns.
Hard is watching your baby be flown off to another hospital, hoping he will still be alive by the time you get there.
Hard is being taken back to the ICU and looking at your child’s chest with so many tubes and wires hooked to him and feeling so helpless.
Hard is wanting to have another baby but being hesitant because of the “what if’s”.
Hard is moving forward when all you want is a breather.
Through all of these hard times there has also been so much beauty. My grandparents are my saviors, they’ve been by my side through everything. My oldest sister graduated from graduate school this year and my middle sister runs her own successful boutique. I’ve recently rekindled a relationship with my brother. I have an incredible and supportive husband who always rescues me. My mother and father in-law love me like their own and my two babies are even better than I could have imagined.
Hard times don’t have to control you, instead they have the potential to shape you. I would be a completely different person and have a completely different life if I had let these hard times control me. I am so grateful for the people in my life that helped me move forward. I have hope in spite of the hard times. Like I said in the beginning – I didn’t stop pushing through and moving forward. You can too.
I’ll never forget the first night back at our new apartment after our honeymoon. We went to bed and as I laid my head down I felt something under my husband’s pillow. It was a picture of his dad. A picture that he had been sleeping with for years.
Now, I don’t mean to jump right into a deep conversation about tragedy but the ugly truth is life can be cruel. Sometimes we get hit so hard that our hearts feel like they will never recover.
I also want to preface this by saying that I have my husband’s full permission to write this today. He has read this blog and placed his stamp of approval on it. I would never share it otherwise.
My husband is my hero. He is a true general in the army of God, a walking testimony of a life that won’t give up.
But sometimes he hurts so desperately.
Sometimes he wants to quit and run and hide and not come out for a very long time and to be quite honest I don’t blame him. I have been there and I’m sure you have too.
So with all that said- let’s talk about the reality of life, the situations that we didn’t see coming and the path to healing that seems so far away.
I’ll start by telling you a piece of his story.
When my husband was just 15 years old he received a call that no one would ever want to receive. His biological father had just attempted suicide. My husband’s world spun out of control.
I don’t think there is anything worse than sitting by a hospital bed wondering why and searching for answers as you hold the hand of someone who is slipping away.
The answers will never come.
As my husband reeled from the loss, questioned his own worth, wondered if there was anything that he could have done, his little teenage heart filled with regret for not being enough to make his dad want to live.
As adults we know in our heads that it wasn’t about Ryan at all. We know that there were other things that plagued his dad, that he had lost hope and couldn’t see a road out of the troubles that overwhelmed him.
Our hearts don’t always get the memo from our heads though. Our hearts just plain break.
To be at such an integral age, barely a teen, no longer a child, definitely not an adult, but dealing with a situation beyond all imagination- Ryan began to withdraw inside.
He learned to cut off his emotions.
Trama often causes our bodies to go into a protective mode. He didn’t talk about what happened, he acted like he was fine, went along with his life like all was good in the world, but that picture remained hidden under his pillow. A desperate attempt at holding on to a life that was no longer.
The night that I discovered that picture under the pillow (I knew nothing about it before that). He tentatively took it from my hands and set it on the dresser. He told me that he guessed it could stay there for now. I tried to press for more information but it was clear that there would be no conversation to follow. In fact, it would be many years before any real conversation would occur.
Ryan turned away from God during that time. (understatement of the century)
He told me that he couldn’t believe that a God (any God) could exist in the midst of all the chaos and tragedy in the world because any real God would not allow all this.
Have you ever felt that way?
Before I married my husband I didn’t know any of this. I didn’t know about his dad, I didn’t know about his pain, I had no idea what was hidden behind all those closed doors because I didn’t know the doors existed.
I prayed. I didn’t know what else to do.
I want to tell you that God just healed every hurt, that he took all the pain away and that Ryan never has to feel all of that again but the truth is he still deals with that loss and will for the rest of his life. I’d be lying if I said otherwise and you would know it.
What I can tell you is this- God helped Ryan to recover. He came in and opened Ryan’s heart. He allowed the grieving and in the process he caused Ryan to have a compassion for others that I’ve never seen before. He showed Ryan how much he is truly loved, how it wasn’t his fault and how incredibly good Jesus is- even in the midst of the worst. He showed Ryan that a loving God does exist and although terrible things do happen, God has a plan for it all.
Ryan has a new perspective these days. He has come full circle.
So how do you deal with your deepest hurts? How did he?
One single second at a time and one simple prayer- “Jesus I don’t understand this, I can’t breath, I can’t do this, I need help, I need hope, I need something to hang on to, I think I need you.”
Ryan says that he has learned that God does not ever bring these things into our lives, instead he is the one that walks us through them. He tells me that God sees a big picture that we can’t even begin to comprehend and that God will not for even a second leave us or forsake us.
Talk about coming full circle.
As Ryan has walked through this life he has learned that what he goes through today someone may need to hear about tomorrow and that his own personal tragedies can be the very thing that saves someone else’s life.
None of us would ever choose to go through these situations but we don’t have to get stuck in them either. We can overcome. Jesus can heal, your life can have meaning, you can recover, you can be whole again, and your life most definitely has purpose.
Ryan has healed because of Jesus and in spite of the situation. If you are desperate for hope today, trust a very loving God who can help you through the very unloving world we live in. My husband is living proof that you can make it.
If you want to overcome the heartbreak and the pain there is only one place that you will find the healing you need. The Bible says to ask and you shall receive… so ask Jesus today. The road may be long but if he can walk my husband down that dusty old path of recovery then I believe with my whole heart that he can walk you down it too.
You don’t have to do anything by yourself. You have Jesus, you have us, and you can have hope- receive it today.
“You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” (Margaret Thatcher) Isn’t that the truth? How many times have I decided that I was going to conquer the mountain before me only to be beat down by the first peak?
This is my year for…
I’m going to take that big leap into…
To be honest I think my internal GPS is on a permanent script of “recalculating”.
As I was sitting here today thinking about it all I realized that I have never accomplished any goal the way I thought I would.
I have taken backroads, off ramps, and shortcuts that always seemed to lead me the long way around.
I have taken the successes and failures of others to heart and compared my own life to theirs.
Through it all I have learned a few things and they’ve stuck with me:
No battle worth fighting is easy and in my experience once it is won (whatever the battle may be- health and nutrition, weight loss, addiction…)
We have to continue the fight to keep it in the winners bracket.
The minute I let my guard down is the minute I begin to slip back into my old ways. Now I don’t mean that the battle is always difficult, but it is always before me. Things I have thought I conquered years ago suddenly rear their ugly heads and I find myself having to make a conscious effort to put them back in their place.
I used to think that I was a failure because of those times. Now I realize that it’s just part of the process.
Do you want to win for good?
Then quit beating yourself up when you have to fight a battle over and over. It’s the battle that makes us strong, it gives us the ability to persevere, and ultimately be changed.
I love gold, but until you heat it up it contains all kinds of impurities. It’s the heat that allows those impurities to be removed and the beauty of the gold can then shine through.
You and I- we are like gold being refined. The fire that we hate, the battle that is long and tiresome- all of it is bringing us to a place where we can look back and see the beauty in it all.
The beauty in ourselves.
The kind of beauty that is so much deeper than what the mirror portrays.
We may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.
We may have to fight for months or years, but in the end I’ve never regretted the fight. I’ve always been glad I took on the challenge. Win or lose each and every battle has brought something out of me that I didn’t know existed. I’ve learned, I’ve grown, I’ve lost and I’ve won, and looking back I’m glad for all of it.
I’m not excited for the battle today (are we ever really?) but I am ready to fight. There is so much more to be accomplished than just a single goal and I am surrendering the battle before me to God. With him all things are possible and I know that I don’t have to fight alone. It’s a win win. I make progress and he changes me. So, here I am welcoming so many battles I really don’t want to fight and I’m completely confident that it will be worth it.
How about joining me today? Pick your battle, lace up your gloves and let’s fight together. Gold takes time to be perfectly refined and so do you and I and ya know what? Both are beautifully worth it.
Last year I put a sign on my fridge at work that says- “Do something that scares you every day”. I needed the reminder to get out of the box I’d created for myself, to reach for new stars, and try new things.
The old saying that “if you want something new you have to stop doing something old” is such a solid truth. If we want something to change in our lives we have to change something in our lives.
It’s a simple concept that both my body and mind fight tooth and nail.
I love staying right inside the box. I like my warm house, my comfort food and my baggy jeans. I’m a fan of surrounding myself with people who build me up and tell me that I’m perfect just the way I am. I need those people in my life. They are like a soft blanket that makes me feel safe and secure.
But what if I surround myself with another layer of people too? What if I begin to surround myself with people who challenge me? Who don’t let me stay in the box or on the couch? My daughter -in -law is one of these people. She is all the kindness of the soft blanket but often manages to kick me in the fanny just when I need it. (She can remind me that this is a good thing someday) She will often ask- have you written “this” yet? Have you started that challenging project yet?
To be honest, I need the push. If given to my own devices I might choose the couch over the project. I might choose comfort over the uncertainty of a new goal.
My son and daughter -in -law are not afraid to take on a challenge. They are what I call “get out of the boat” kind of people. Where I often want to tiptoe in until the water feels nice, they jump straight out of the boat into the turbulence and they swim. Do they hit every goal the way they thought they would? Do they have to make changes and re-directions often? The answer to both is yes. BUT the point is they live their lives outside of their comfort zones and their lives tell a story that challenges me to rewrite mine.
I am a believer that we should never stop learning, never stop putting ourselves out there- even and especially if we are unsure of ourselves. I recently told my son Zach that when we go through hard times in our lives we should pray that God changes us the way he knows we need it. I told him that we never really change or grow when things are easy and good. I gave him the unsolicited advice that he should embrace the tough times and just trust the process.
I felt like mom of the year when I sent the message- until God pressed upon my own heart that I need to do this as well. Giving that advice was great, but am I living it?
So as this next decade begins my goal is to do just that. It’s time I turn up the heat, launch the boat, and dip my feet into the water. (notice that I did not say jump right in… I am still a work in progress here.)(I am thinking “outside the box” though so that’s good right?) I hope and pray that by the end of the decade I will have jumped right into that ocean of possibilities- but for now I’ve decided to just step out of my little box and look for new opportunities and challenges. I’m uncomfortable, I don’t like the uncertainty one bit, but there is something inside that is loving this.
I’m fully planning to surround myself with more people who will kick my fanny just when I need it and I can’t wait to write to you all in the next 10 years and see who God has made me to be at the end of it.Want to get out of the boat with me? Come on in the water is- freezing and scary and crazy and I don’t know exactly what it means… but this is going to be a ton of fun.
I remember a number of years ago, I had been asked to be in a wedding. My hair was done, I had put the bridesmaid dress on and Ryan walked into the room. He took one look at me and his eyes lit up and he said “Wow, you look amazing”.
I can’t tell you how great that moment made me feel.
My day to day routine doesn’t usually lend itself to him
noticing me the way he did that day. My ripped up sweat pants, t-shirts, and
pony tail certainly don’t match a really cute dress and a great hair stylist
but I still think there are opportunities to show our spouse how much we like
Seriously LIKE them.
By finding opportunities to really build each other up, we also begin to build confidence in our spouse and our relationship. When you see your spouse doing something you appreciate, tell them. It seems that the longer couples are together the less they feel the need to express those little moments to each other.
But notice the scripture reference for this one. “How
handsome you are, my beloved! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant.”
A few good compliments and then a description of their bed
being “verdant”. I couldn’t resist- so I looked up the meaning and found that
it means- green, fresh, and flourishing. (and people say the bible is boring…)
Doesn’t sound too bad now does it? Listen, we all need to feel wanted, desired, and appreciated. We want to know that we matter and are not taken for granted. After we get married we get into a routine and routines often lead to complacency. It’s not intentional, sometimes it’s just survival. Today let’s start to build each other up and hopefully we can have that green, fresh, and flourishing relationship that deep down we all wish for.
Song of Songs 1:16 “How handsome you are, my beloved! Oh, how charming! And our bed is verdant.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving me a spouse that is unique and wonderful. Help us both to see and appreciate all that they do and to remember not to take any of these things for granted. Let us look with new eyes today and always remember how important it is to express our appreciation for the many things that they do for us. Open our hearts to each other and renew our love to the point that it spills out into our words. In Jesus name, Amen.