Today was the absolute hardest day of my teaching career. I didn’t want to come to work today. I didn’t really want to get out of bed.
For those of you who will read this from outside our precious community I’ll explain briefly. We lost a dear friend to a tragic car accident over the weekend. A friend who truly cared about those around her. A friend who loved deeply and meant what she said. A friend who supported, fought for, and stayed true to her beliefs. A fellow teacher who made those around her feel cared about every single day.
I did get out of bed and I did walk into that building.
I watched as people struggled to breathe, struggled to take a step forward, and fought for every single minute.
I watched as people hugged. I watched as students cried. I watched as community members dropped off coffee and hot chocolate and flowers while staff members took care of each other.
I watched as broken hearts broke even more and the shock wore off and the reality began to sink in. I watched as people tried to navigate the unthinkable all while handling the fragile hearts of the most precious little ones who came in hurt and confused.
In my profession there are days when we come in to work and we are given the name of a student and told to “handle with care”. This means we are not to ask any questions, we are just to know that that particular little one is going through something serious and we are to take a bit more time and have heaps more patience and love.
Today we all needed to be handled with care. I think we will need it again tomorrow and a month from now out of the blue we will need it again.
Life is unpredictable, it is downright unfair at times, and cruel to the core.
But it is a few other things as well. It is a hug that shares grief in the darkest of times. It is a cup of coffee you enjoy with tears running down your face. It is the text message from your son that just wants you to know that you are loved and appreciated because they know how hard today will be. It is watching life rush past you while every part of your being wants it to slow down and let you catch your breath.
It is hope.
It is love.
It is uncertain, unkind, beautiful, and blessed. It is all those things and so much more.
I’m thankful for all of it. I’m thankful that I got the chance to love even if it means heartache gets mixed in.
I don’t want to miss a chance to tell you too- I love you. Today and forever.
She used to read this blog. She encouraged me to write and let me know how much she was touched by my words. So dear friend, this one’s for you. The world was a better place with you in it.
Psalm 34:18- The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
A few weeks ago I took the best trip and I got to meet one of my newest favorite people 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”.
Hey everyone, I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve written. Honestly, I’ve missed it. But life happens and you know how that is. And to be real, I just needed a break from a lot of things. I needed to step back and reevaluate where I was and where I’m going.
I love the picture below. I took it the other day while I was taking a walk. The sky was beautiful, the day was warm with a light breeze and I felt the weight of the world sitting pretty squarely on my shoulders. I think the problem lies with the way I was looking at the many issues I was facing. I didn’t see a clear way out and I felt like I had to fix everything.
I can’t fix everything. I can’t fix much of anything.
Shocker, right? Why do I do that every single time? Why do I look at the situations and pray about them and give them to God and then pick them right back up and tell Him what I need from Him? As if the God of the universe can’t handle things without my not-so-subtle suggestions.
If you are like me then today you are facing some challenges. Some of those challenges may just be simple changes that are taking place in your life and you’re struggling with the adjustment. Others may be devastating and you are struggling to even breath.
I want to encourage you today. I also want to encourage me today. I want us both to look outside the chains that lock us in and look to Jesus. He is the only one who can walk us through this crazy world. He is the one who will walk us beside the still waters even though we walk through the valley of death.
I love that. I receive that today. I hope you do 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.
I got this little succulent at the start of all the chaos this year. Isn’t it just the cutest? I had no idea what it would become, what it was supposed to look like, or even how to take care of it.
When the weather started to change in the spring and it became warm enough to put the little guy outside I did. What happened next surprised me. That cute little plant took over. It grew and grew until I had to remove it from the pot it was in. Tiny new plants grew on it’s leaves and one good gust of wind sent them everywhere. I suddenly found myself pulling these tiny babies out of all my other plants.
I have since done some research. This succulent is nicknamed “The Mother of Many Daughters” & “The Mother of Thousands”. How cool is that? From a tiny adorable little plant to one that can’t be stopped and certainly one that makes an impression on anyone who gets close to it.
Every single time I bump the table it sits on, every time even a wisp of the wind blows, every time I look at that plant- it sends its tiny little ones on a journey to find new soil and new life grows. I have even found this plant growing in places it shouldn’t be able to.
I believe that’s what God sees in each of us.
He looks at us and he sees this minuscule person (my words not God’s) who has no idea what the right soil and a little “son” time will do. He sees how our lives can effect everything and everyone around us even when we are not consious of it. We may bump into people by chance, the wind may blow us to and fro and what we see as life’s crazy journey, God may be using to move us right where we are needed.
Today, trust that though you may feel tiny and insignificant, God can make you like this plant. Strong and mighty, powerful and effective, full of life that changes everything around you even when you aren’t aware of it.
Times have been crazy, the storms have been extreme and the soil may seem pretty rocky, but remember who is raising you up. Remember who loves you more than you can imagine. Remember Jesus today and what He did for you on that old rugged cross then remember that he didn’t stop there. He rose to raise you up too. He gave his life so you could thrive in yours. No matter what you are facing today, no matter what Covid has stolen, or what the political climate brings, remember who is walking you through it all. You can live today, you can grow, you can change, and you can make a difference.
Maybe, just maybe, you were created for such a time as this.
Oh, I have got to tell you guys- there have been so many ups and downs in this journey. I don’t even know where to start. It was about a year ago that we began taking our health more seriously and we really made so much progress.
I’m not going to pull any punches here, instead I’m going to state the obvious and say that this is hard. Like really hard.
Our lives got incredibly busy over the summer and I found that I was compromising probably more than I should have.
We also traveled more than we usually do, and, in the spring, we found ourselves in San Antonio Texas visiting our son. I don’t know about you but one of my favorite things to do while traveling is to eat. I absolutely love to try different restaurants and this short vacation was no different. Let me tell you- we had some of the very best Mexican food we have ever had on this trip.
Actually, we had it twice and in large quantities.
I rolled myself out of that place.
My mouth is salivating just thinking about it.
Then, as summer began, we went on a cruise to celebrate our 25th (closer to the 26th) anniversary. We had planned this trip with friends and were looking forward to just relaxing, celebrating, and eating… and eating… and eating.
Oh, that cruise food.
I tried to eat in moderation on that trip.
I really tried, but by the third day I had completely thrown moderation out the window and I was fully trying all the food.
And I do mean ALL.THE.FOOD.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again- when this girl does something, she does it right. Good and bad.
We got back from that big old boat and felt like big old boats ourselves.
We did manage to get back on track when we disembarked but oh it was so much harder. My husband kept going to the kitchen and threatening bad reviews on yelp. (He is seriously funny and usually in trouble…)
Thankfully we quickly got back on track (for the most part) and continued to maintain our progress.
I got an opportunity to visit my son again- this time we would meet in Dallas TX.
Guys, there is only so much resolve that I have and mine was melting away by the minute.
Texas is known for its BBQ and we found ourselves experiencing not only mouth-watering barbecue, but great little unique restaurants, some of the most amazing food trucks and family’s home cooking that fit every single bill.
My pants however did not fit anymore. (Okay- so they still fit, but not comfortably)
I guess the best part of this journey is that it doesn’t end. When I make the best choices, (tonight for example while I am writing this- I’m craving sweets and junk food, but instead I ate some amazing mango chicken and veggies) I see progress in myself.
And when I make the not so good choices… well the truth is that doesn’t mean that I’ve failed or that I’m not going to make the goals I’ve set.
Our minds tell us all sorts of things and when I got on the scale recently, I realized that all those months of good healthy decisions were not lost. Some of the pounds may have come back, but many of them haven’t. That means that where I’m starting today is much farther along than when we began this journey many months ago.
And what has happened inside of me is so different than where I was in my yo yo diet, you are not good enough, you will never succeed years.
Now, the scale is an object, but I am not. The scale is just a number, my pants are just a size, and my heart is no longer tied to any of them.
Do I get discouraged? Yep, but I also get motivated and hopeful. I get to see where I’ve been and where I’m going.
I get to try and fail and try and win. I get to pick myself up and next year as I write an update to this- I’ll probably have a few more wins and a few more losses to report but all of it will be a story of this amazing life that I’ve been gifted with.
I have been so blessed to have been able to visit my son and celebrate our anniversary in such an amazing way this year. When I put all of that into perspective, I wouldn’t change a thing. All those memories were worth a few numbers on the scale.
Soooooo completely worth it.
You are worth it too.
Start writing your story today. Quit worrying about perfection and just appreciate the progress.
You will win some and you will lose some but, in the end, it really is the journey that matters most. Take the leap today and enjoy the trip.