The quiet of the dawn.

the promise of new mercies, fresh beginnings
realized;
the quiet whispers of potential;
anticipation.
regrets and guilt
silenced by dreams.
reflecting, planning
warm fire
burning away that which did not get done;
lighting the path to what can be.
embracing the calm
the still.
all is right
for a moment.
a choice to be made
will I choose the Light?
or will the darkness dog my steps this day?
who will I touch and leave my trace?
a smile?
a word left unspoken?
selfless?
to make a difference
family, friends
my love, my life.
chasing the Light
making It mine.
feeling It’s warmth
savoring
content.
giving back
arising.

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Seriously, random ramblings.

It is now December 22 at 9:26 a.m. and I have been goofing off procrastinating making a plan for several hours now. And reviewing what, if anything (nothing, apparently) I did all week, if the condition of my living room floor is any indication. I’ll spare you a photo but can tell you that it is covered with fur puffs, poinsettia droppings, gaming paraphernalia and cuttings from my Christmas gift projects. No buns have been made, no gifts have been wrapped and I still don’t like any photos for our Christmas New Year’s card.

So it stands to reason to ask this simple question…what in the heck have I been doing all week?

Here are a few things I came up with this morning during my Quiet Time:

…praying for friends, family and strangers. Losing a loved one never leaves your thoughts, but during the Christmas season our pain and grief explodes to steroid use proportions. I know it personally; I see it all around me.
…catching up on office stuff at church. Ordering supplies, updating the 2013 calendar, filing, etc.
…working on a handful of Christmas projects to give as gifts. I have loved making some things this year. Of course starting these projects was on my Outlook calendar back in September. I quote: “start making Christmas gifts.”
…also on my Outlook Calendar back in September: “begin making Cinnamon buns so you aren’t scrambling the weekend of Christmas.” And was a recurring calendar item every day to infinity. #eipcfail
…this is the weekend of Christmas and I have not baked a single bun.
…to scramble or not to scramble?
…the *insert a religious group that knocks on doors* people just came by. It’s 10:00 a.m., I’m still in my jammies and greeted them with my coffee mug in hand and they still dove right into it. I listened politely for 10 seconds and then told them to stay warm and have a Merry Christmas and shut the door. They, also, were polite in return. There’s no need to slam the door in people’s faces, y’all. The only time I get a tad short with door knockers and phone solicitors is during an election year and I have been known to tell them either “Russell doesn’t live here anymore” or “Russell is dead.” True story. Used it before the election. The phone solicitor didn’t even hesitate, “okay, we’ll try back later.” *apparently not as original as I thought or maybe they thought I said, “he’s only mostly dead.”* *name that movie*
…I just had to wrestle the package of “looks like real mice” mice out of Chloe’s clutches. Yesterday she dug through the open bag to pull them out and trot, proudly, around the house with them in her mouth. Today she tore open The Walmarts bag and ran around with them, taunting Tux. I put them in the critter stocking hanging on the mantel and we will see what happens next.
…No, I am not going to give them to her now…they are for Christmas morning.
…fyi, in typical This Girl fashion, this is actually post number 5 I have written over the last 3 days and I think I might actually post this one.
…I promise I will be funny again after the New Year. *pinkie swear*
…speaking of pinkie swear, y’all please pray for my sweet friend, Joanne. You can read about her here, if you don’t know her, but they are moving out of their house today and moving in with her in-laws. It’s hard, y’all. Hard. She and I have been texting daily and I was so ready to ditch my family for Christmas and go help, you just don’t know.
…and one last thing. Shout out to Diane at Living Proof Ministries. I ordered my Siesta Memorization Spiral notebook back on December 5 and hadn’t received it yet so I called to inquire. Diane asked me to wait a couple more days and call on Friday. But about 30 minutes later she called and left a message saying she was just going to send me out another one just to make sure it would arrive before January 1. Love this ministry and the wonderful people there.

Have I shared with y’all my love of buttons? This is just a tip of the iceberg, but I am using some of them for my Christmas project this year.

That’s it for now. Love you guys!

Quick Road Trip to Roanoke.

Yesterday, The Big Boy (we are so over his graduation and he is now back to The Big Boy) and I headed out a bit after 7:00 a.m. for a quick trip to Roanoke. We hit the grocery store, Subway (bleck) and Starbucks and got on the road. At 7:00 p.m. we were on the parkway and just a few minutes from home.

Quick. Trip.

But oh, so worth it.

We took a truckload of furniture and accessories to a friend of my sister’s who has fled her home, state and region of the country to safety on this coast. With three children. I cannot even begin to imagine the type of physical abuse that would require doing that. I was able to meet her yesterday and she had such a beautiful smile and happy spirit…safety and love from complete strangers will do that to a person, apparently.

And there’s the lesson for this Christmas, I think. For me, in any case.

Somewhere north of Harrisonburg, on the way home, I had myself a royal breakdown cry fest for my own pain and hurt and sorry self and than I was done with it and moved on.

It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to cry.

*that was for me…I was never a cryer until one day I cried and cried and scared the holy heck out of my children and decided I had to let them know it was okay to cry when hurt. Before, you know, it all came out On The Couch during a therapy session where all of their problems in life are blamed on the Momma. Apparently I succeeded as we always know what My Girl is thinking and feeling*

As this month has moved on at a rapid rate, and I have run out of time to buy everything I wanted to buy and do everything I wanted to do, this day trip is just what the doctor ordered. I chose to live in the moment, enjoy the time with Shawn and with my family. I could have focused on all of my have nots…extra money, extra time, a clean and orderly house, Katie, Beth, Flo and Andy…and I am able to name all of that so quickly because I actually was focusing on all of that earlier this week…but I am choosing to get over myself and my pain and hurt and wants and focus on what I do have…a great husband, hilarious and healthy children, my parents and sister and her girls, friends, a warm home…I truly could go on for paragraphs.

My royal cry fest on the way home was a release…mourning my sister’s continued grief as well as my own…and that’s okay, I think. Some days are easier than others. Some days the tears last longer than other days.

Helping a complete stranger, however, truly made me feel good. I don’t mean that in an “all about me way” in the least. I mean in an “all about someone else, thank God” way. Able to take my eyes off myself and put them on someone who is in true need.

Our hurt and pain lingers; always will. So very thankful, though, to be able to help someone else and I hope God continues to choose to put people in need in my life…keeping my focus on Him and all that He has blessed us with.

But I sure do miss these four.

Love you guys!

Some things.

The house is decorated.

The party is over.

Today The Big Boy and I are driving a truck load full of things to Roanoke, picking up my baby sister and driving to a not-so-perfect part of town to deliver it all to a friend of hers in need. I believe we will also stop at The Wal-marts to pick up a gift card to give to them, as well. Paying it forward. Blessed to be able to do so.

Christmas shopping is not complete.

The only gifts I have wrapped are those that my sister and parents took home with them after the party.

I still have some Christmas gifts I am working on.

Not only have I not done my Christmas cards, I don’t even have a picture yet that I am happy with.

Cards may, or may not, happen this year.

And, it’s okay.

Maybe I will join in the tradition of my friend, Lori and send out Valentine’s cards instead.

Maybe not.

I freaked out this morning with all there was “to do” on my list. I got snippy; snappy and snarly. And then I picked up two sweet kindergartners from school so that their momma could attend a funeral and they asked if we could go to McDonald’s for lunch. And, we did. The Big Boy, two littles and I. Their momma ended up joining us. The chatter and giggles and fun we had. Put things into better perspective.

Tonight we are having dinner with six dear friends. I do not have to cook or even bring anything.

The rest of the week will take care of itself.

Today I am choosing to live in the moment.

Love you guys.

Just a random pic of My Girl and I at the Tree Farm last month.

A short list of thankfuls.

So very thankful…

…that I could hug my children, those of my womb and of my heart, all weekend long. Praying for those who no longer can
…for a feisty, funny, full-of-life neighbor who blessed our lives these last 18 years. We miss her so much already and our street seems so empty without her. We love you, Flo and will never forget you

…for my church family who, when I put out the call for help, came running saying, every single one of them, “I will do whatever you need me to do.” And they did, and beyond. To say I am humbled is such an understatement
…that I stuck with a man all of those years ago, instead of filing the signed divorce papers I held in my hand
…my extended family drove for hours for a short, twenty-four hour visit to help us celebrate The Big Boy’s college graduation. We laughed until we cried. And cried because we continue to grieve. And it was wonderful

Love you guys.

When everything seems to be going wrong.

It is wicked crazy over at Smith Abbey these days. Like Perfect Storm wicked crazy. My People are walking on egg shells thinking I am going to go over the edge at any moment.

I, however, am surprisingly calm. *which is also why they think I’m going to blow any second now*

No, really…I am like Zen calm.

This morning on top of everything else, I discovered the server is down at work (i.e., church) and my morning plan contained item #1: work from home on prayer list, bulletin for Sunday and Flo’s service program. After not sleeping at all for round two last night, this was a recipe for a major blow-up.

Didn’t happen. Not gonna.

It’s only taken me 51 a few years to figure out that I need to start living what I’m preaching. I preach all the time, to our children, My Man, friends, family, etc., that everything happens for a reason; that nothing that happens is a surprise to God, Who has each of our days numbered right down to the amount of hairs on our head.

Of course I would be sick this week. The Graduate Boy is home to live and, please God, work; the Wild Boy is up to his usual Wild Boy antics; I’m orchestrating our dear Flo’s service and reception at church with, thankfully, a ton of help from my family and friends; the Graduate Boy has about 50 of his peeps coming over on Saturday to help him celebrate his Summa Cum by the skin-of-his-teeth college graduation; and I am in the middle of making Christmas presents, wrapping Christmas presents, and Christmas is coming quickly.

But, it’s all good.

Being sick on top of all of this just confirmed what I’ve been preaching to the choir: focus on the important things; the things that are needed and not the things that are just wanted. In other words, be This Girl…not That Girl.

Easy. Peasy.

Love you guys. Chat soon.

Sort of a random all over the place post.

Random photo of my To Do list for today. In no particular order:

Apparently, I need the pressure of a writing challenge in order to write.

Because I’ve got nothing. I’ve got lots to say, I’m just pretty sure you don’t want to hear it.

For example, my allergies have been wicked for months now and finally kicked into high gear in the form of a sinus infection. My annual Christmas Sinus Infection, to be precise. Always happens at the most stressful time of the Christmas season, proving that stress really does weaken our immune system and blah blah medical jargon blah blah.

Also, The Big Boy is now home. With all of his stuff accumulated over 4.5 years at college. He doesn’t officially have a job. But he does have orientation tomorrow with the Fairfax County School System to begin substitute teaching and he has applied for an assistant JV baseball coaching position at a local high school. All of this points to the shocking realization that he really does not know what he wants to do with his life.

I still haven’t figured that out. In the meantime, I’m just doing it. You know what I mean? I never thought I would want children. And if I did have one I wouldn’t want to be a stay-home-momma. I never went back and finished college. Still don’t know what I would study, if I did. English and writing, I suppose. Quite a change from the pre-med I started college with, but isn’t that usually the way? My Man has undergrad degrees in Radio and Television Broadcasting and Speech and works for the government as a logistician. He runs a lot of meetings so I guess he does get to talk a lot and, for all of you who know him personally, My Man does love to talk. A lot. His graduate degree does have something to do with his current job, in a round about way, I suppose. But here we both are…doing life, completely different than what we thought life would be.

And that’s exactly what happens, isn’t it? We (and by we I mean me, myself and I) spend our day wishing it was something different; that we (me, myself and I) were something, someone, different. The babies are little and we can’t wait until they are walking and talking and boy, didn’t that turn out to be quite a shock when it finally happened! You know what I am talking about..and then suddenly, here we are, kids all grown up and going their own way and, if we are lucky, we still have the husband of our youth sitting next to us on the sofa and it’s just the two of us.

I stopped wishing for the next thing a few year’s ago when I realized how quickly the years were flying by and how old My Man was getting. *ahem* For all that I speak of change here at This Girl, I wish time could stand still, or at least slow down a bit. I suppose that is a popular wish, unless you are smack-dab in the middle of crying babies at night and lots of diapers to change. Trust me, those long nights will turn into even longer nights when the first kid backs out of your driveway, behind the wheel and alone, for the very first time and every time after that…times three for us now.

Just a little something to look forward to.

Glad I had nothing to say today. Maybe I’ll have nothing to say again tomorrow.

Love you guys. Chat soon.

No Excuses Twenty-thirteen.

That’s my motto for 2013. I don’t really do “resolutions.” More like a “bucket list.” It always comes down to a list with me, doesn’t it? This list is not exhaustive; it is subject to change; it will be added to; most likely subtracted from. So, here we go at the first run:

1. Scripture memorization. I really struggle with memorizing scripture. Why should we memorize scripture? Several reasons, for me, actually. To think about things we are called to think about. “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8). One of my bff’s, Michele Miner, just had a book published on the power of memorizing scripture. I am looking forward to it arriving in my mail box. And, for hints and accountability, Living Proof Ministry, Beth Moore’s ministry, is a great place to begin. But not only am I called to memorize scripture, I love the Word of God and was horrified to realize I could quote a whole lot more from NCIS episodes than I can the Bible.

2. Getting a grip on my NCIS addiction. Not just NCIS, but my tv viewing habits, in general. We regularly imposed tv viewing restrictions on our children in order for them to focus more on the things (school) they needed to, so why not impose them on myself? I think it is actually going to be liberating.

3. Workouts. No brainer here, since I just joined the fitness center. I struggle with fibromyalgia so this one is doubly difficult, but I am determined to make it a regular part of my week and overall, most days. All of the cliches apply here: I feel better mentally; have more physical energy; less stress; toned muscles; burned fat; you get the idea. I only need look to My Girl to see the proof of it all. She is the one we would send for regular jogs around the block to work off some steam…hers and mine! The last six months she has really kicked her workouts into high gear and, while she didn’t need to lose weight, she has slimmed down, toned up and her stress level and mental happiness have improved. Dedicated workouts are just good for us, y’all.

4. Healthy/clean eating. Also a no brainer, but really, since I’m back to working out I realize just how crappy my eating has become. I spend an hour plus at the gym and then come home and eat junk? Just does not make sense. My personal chef comes home today and he and I have already discussed this. We all need to eat more healthy and be more aware of eating more cleanly.

5. Organizing/reorganizing/purging. Stuff. It’s everywhere. I am determined to really scale it back. Especially after helping my folks and in-laws move these last few years. I am going to stick with the basic questions regarding my stuff: do I have an emotional tie to it? do I love it? do I use it? can I replace it if I need to? Even answering yes doesn’t necessarily mean I should keep it.

6. Finding me. More like reconnecting with me. We all wear many hats during the different seasons of our lives. One thing I have really suppressed these last 20+ years is my creativity. I needed to do that in order to get done everything else. I’m not complaining. It was consciously done. But my creative genes are bustin’ at the seams to be let out again and I’m going for it. Blogging has helped feed the need to write. I always had a sketch book going and a supply of paints and canvas. I like making things and have fed that need with crocheting over the last few years, and this year I’m making some Christmas presents, which is something I always did and haven’t done in years. My very first big purchase with money from my first summer job was a camera. I carried that Pentex with me wherever I went and still have it, by the way, but have moved onto a Nikon digital. I do need to take Charlene’s suggestion and get back to photography. And lastly, I do have some basic musical talents that I need to unwrap and will after the new year when I begin practicing with our Worship Team again. That is, if I can find my 12-string, remember how to restring it and spend some time toughing up those finger tip callouses. Nails and manicures are heading to the back burner. All of these thing are a part of who I am; who God created me to be and, while stepping out and opening myself up to an audience is often scary, it is also obedience. Repressing who I am and what I am able to do is just not healthy. *this paragraph is all about me trying to convince me, not me trying to convince you, by the way*

7. Family. After all is said and done, my family is still my priority. And who is my family? (Good Samaritan parable reference from Luke 10, by the way.) My family is my husband and children and parents and siblings, but also my church family, friends and neighbors.

Pretty ambitious, I think. Maybe a little scary and overwhelming. I will cut myself some slack, but I also feel these are all things I am supposed to get going on. I’m actually excited (in a horrified, what-was-I-thinking way!)

Love you guys. Chat soon.

Pinterest (and NCIS) will be the death of me.

Confession: I had this post completely written yesterday. This morning I came here to post it and decided to dump everything but the first paragraph and turn it into a luscious list. 

1. Seriously, y’all. I have no willpower. Zip. Zero. None. I can not stay away from Pinterest during the day and Gibbs’ siren song calls to me nightly on USA Network. I start out being able to multitask and then I’m hit with The Double Time Suck Whammy…watching NCIS with my laptop on my, er, lap whilst scanning Pinterest, at the same time. Why can’t I just say no?!? But, more importantly, do I really want to?

2. Came downstairs this morning to discover this:

The tree skirt is completely pulled away from under the tree. What you don’t see are the chunks of tree branches and needles all over the place. Apparently, the kitties had quite the par-tay last night while we were asleep. Thankfully, we don’t tie the tree skirt together under the tree or, I imagine, the entire tree would have come down. One of the joys of living with cats.

3. I realized this morning that if I make my morning coffee any stronger I will be spooning the beans straight from the container into my mouth. I do like me some strong java to wake me up.

4. I turned the fireplace on this morning, left it on for five minutes and turned it back off again. Either the heat in the house is set too high or I’m having hot flashes. Since I am still so young, oh, who am I kidding? It’s the hot flashes. Stink. Can’t even enjoy my fireplace.

5. So last night we went to Medieval Madness with My Man’s office group. It was cheesy and kind of bawdy (always a fun word to use), but the food was pretty tasty and we had a good time. I especially enjoyed walking the two blocks from our parking spot to the venue. Old Town Alexandria at night is beautiful during the Christmas season. I realized that I haven’t been down there to shop in ages. Literally not in the last 25 years. Might have to do that this winter. I’m sure I can convince someone to go with. Just to wander in and out of the shops and eat lunch…sounds lovely.

Horrible pic of us, but it’s all I have and I realize that we, as bloggers and facebookers and all things social media, only show the good stuff so here’s the ugly side.

The Wild Boy was intrigued by the whole experience and, since we couldn’t bring him home a broadsword, (although they did sell them there) he wanted one of these mugs. They were $20 each (!). Notice there are no eating utensils on the table? Yep…we ate with our hands. And it was yucky. Have I ever mentioned that I could very easily become a germaphobe? I could, in a heart beat.

6. In my usual OCDness, I am ready to gut the house completely between now and Christmas. Part of that, I think, is because there is just so much stuff involved with Christmas. The living room is 1/4 taken over by the tree; all of the decorations; bags and packages and cards and wrapping stuff…all send my OCD tendencies into over. drive. I am really, really, having to fight it this year, in particular. I am painting the bathroom off the kitchen, however, which has been in it’s current sorry state for about five years now. I know that I will feel better after the New Year when everything is packed up and put away, but between now and then…it’s going to be a rough ride. I actually feel sorry for my people, in a you-have-no-idea-how-much-worse-it-could-be sort of way.

7. Does anyone else stand at the coffee mug cabinet each morning and decide which coffee mug best suits your mood before reaching for one? No? Um, oh, well then, me neither…

8. I only made it to the gym two times this week. I really want to get there 4-5 times a week, but I just can’t seem to swing it right now (see #6 above). I can’t stress about it, I can just do the best I can and will get back on serious track after the 25th this month.

Nothing too deep to discuss here today. Well, that’s a lie…I confessed already that I dumped an entire blog post and I did it because it was pretty deep and I just didn’t want to go there today. Maybe tomorrow…or not. Also, I was able to use luscious, bawdy, germaphobe and lovely in the same post. Score!

Love you guys. Chat soon!