Thursday, June 21, 2012

I Suck The Joy Right Out Of Everything

I suck the Joy right out of everything. I do. It's just that way with me.  I have even adopted the motto, "It's not about having fun....It's about making memories." I have got some lucky kids, huh?  People laugh when I say that, and I am not sure if it's because they're impressed that I am actually admitting something they already know and the awkwardness of the moment causes them to giggle or because they think I am kidding....but I'm not. I am so Type-A that I tend to take any fun/adventure/Joy out of most situations that stray from our normal schedule.  My poor husband, he asks me regularly where my self-destruct button is and he is only half kidding.  He challenges me. He stretches me. He invites me into the craziness of life with a smile and an amazing sense of adventure & humor. He is a much better teacher than I am a student.  With him as a dad, my kids really ARE lucky :)

Ok, back to my point. Joy-Sucking....This really is one area of my life that I am daily challenged in. I am not content to live a life void of Joy, I am just not very good at living one (yet).  I have tried different ways to counter act this in the past and I have found that living a life of actively Giving Thanks is the most effective way for me to do just that.  I do well with this for a while and then I settle back into routine and old (bad) habits creep back in. I forget to thank God daily and profess His goodness throughout my day and my Joy slowly fades away.  In January I started the Joy Dare with Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience and have failed miserably in keeping up with it, mostly because I do not log into my blog everyday to update it. I am taking that tab down today and doing some serious revamping. (I will post more about that tomorrow.)

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthymeditate on these things." ~ Philippians 4:8

I was challenged in a new way yesterday as I read through Lil Blue Boo's website. You remember the one I told you about the other day...the one with all the amazing tutorials?  Well, I sat down to scour her site for inspiration and that is EXACTLY what I found, but not just the crafty kind.  I opened her main page and saw this stunning picture of a woman that looked a lot like Ashley H. (The owner/editor/designer for Lil Blue Boo) with a shaved head and a headline that read The Cancer Chronicles. I was immediately intrigued and my first thought was, "How cool, she shaved her head in support of someone with cancer."  I decided to click on the first post only to find myself completely enthralled with the telling of her story and her battle with a rare form of cancer. 

I read through 11 months of blog posts in a day. I was amazed and inspired.  I laughed a lot, too which is odd to say when you are talking about reading the story of someone's battle with cancer, but it's true. My husband came home from work and I was glued to the computer, laughing out loud every so often and he finally said, "What are you doing?", I reply, "Oh just reading this blog about a woman that has cancer." *Silence* I know he thought I had lost it then, but I read out loud to him for a few minutes and he understood.  Yes, Ashley H. has cancer.  She has cancer and a GREAT sense of humor.....and a sweet family, a thriving business, tons of talent, looks uh-MAZ-ing without hair, has an incredible and undeniable faith in Christ and His plan for her life, awesome friends, and JOY.  In fact, her motto is "Choose Joy" (Way better than mine...poor kids! Lol.) 

Please remember to pray for her as her body heals from the ravages of cancer & chemo.  Pray for her family and business to thrive in every way. Pray that the cancer will never return and that God will bless them with more children whether by adoption or surrogacy.  Consider supporting her by visiting her Shop or Facebook page, and please-please-PLEASE do yourself a favor and read through The Cancer Chronicles. You will be blessed and challenged.  I feel renewed today and empowered to make the choice to count my blessings & Choose Joy. To choose it and share it and live it.  So, thanks Ashley for sharing your story.  I kinda wish we were neighbors, I'd bring you a donut....or 12 :)

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ah, The Sock Bunny

My Sock Bunnies :)

I saw these a while back at an arts & crafts show and my kids instantly fell in love with them. I was certain I could make them for less than the $15.00 price tag but I wasn't completely sure how.  Thanks to Pinterest, I found an amazing and FREE tutorial by Lil Blue Boo.  

I decided yesterday was the day to whip out a few of these as Max is going on a trip soon to visit family and wants to bring gifts for some of the kids. I had all the supplies needed to make these and thought they would be great for the younger girls, so away I went. The bunny in the middle was the last one I made and it is by far the best. I am still trying to finish the nose on the green-eyed bunny, but I am using thread instead of embroidery floss so it has been a bit a challenge. Oh well, that keeps life interesting, right?

I am very pleased with how well these turned out and I plan to make more as soon as I gather up some more knee-highs. I have lots of nieces with birthdays this summer :) And to be honest, my boys are a little jealous ;)

Want to make some of these yourself ? Be sure to check out the Sock Bunny Tutorial  (or any of her other amazing projects) at Lil Blue Boo. You will be so glad you did!

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Friday, June 1, 2012

For Ryan

My Childhood Best Friend, Melis & I
Graduation Day June 9, 2002
10 years ago on a sunny day in June, I stood before my family & friends and proudly accepted my High School Diploma.  I have lived a lot of life in those 10 years, and for the last 6 I have had the pleasure honor of being your Aunt.  Tonight, we will gather together to celebrate your accomplishments and usher you into life as an official all-grown-up-ready-take-on-the-world adult as you accept your own hard-earned Diploma.  I have thought a lot about this day all year, and although I am one of the newest additions to your amazing family, I know it will be an emotional roller coaster for us all. 

There seems like so much to say, and I know that this Summer leading up to College is going to be a blur, so I thought I would get it all out here.  A few months ago, I wrote here about living life as a Champion, and let me assure you that this day qualifies.  We are so proud of you and will be here cheering you on through every new accomplishment and trial.  I don't sit here today claiming to know everything, but I have learned a few lessons in my life and I think they are worth sharing.

#1.  Life doesn't turn on you overnight.  The slippery slope of life very rarely gives way all at once.  It starts with one small compromise at a time. Just as a road slowly washes away after each hard rain and eventually erodes away to nothing, the path of our lives can diminish the very same way.  Compromise is a dangerous and slow process.  You must be diligent in your Faith and careful of your steps to avoid the snare that compromise can bring.  My first (and seemingly insignificant) step on the path of compromise was dating a non-Christian at 17. Within a year, I was a frightened 18 year old with a newborn in my arms and trapped in a volatile relationship.  I never dreamed that this was the way my life would turn out. I was too strong, too smart for that.  I couldn't see the danger that lay ahead and the drastic change that small compromises can make if given enough time. Only by the Grace of God, was I able to get help and start the process of restoring my life.

#2.  God's Grace is Incalculable.  This is one I am still learning.  God's promises never expire. He is patient and His timing is perfect.  Eric is the fulfillment of a promise from God made to me as a little girl.  The promise that someday I would be a Dancer. I was made to be a Dancer.  I never understood what this promise meant, and frustration set in over the years as I tried to make this dream come true on my own. I had planned to attend TCU and enroll in their dance program when I got pregnant with Max.  I was devastated and certain that God had forgotten me, or that I had heard Him wrong.  I gave up, but He never did. His plan for my life never changed and I am so thankful. God's will for our lives is always for the best, even when it doesn't look that way.

#3.  This is only the beginning.  Your parents have done an amazing job raising you & Brad. (I pray our kids turn out half as good as you 2!)  I am so thankful that my boys have you as a role model. You are dedicated, hard working and genuine. You inspire those around you to be better.  Today, we recognize your accomplishment of finishing High School and in essence, an ending to childhood.  But, mostly we celebrate the beginning of your life as an adult. The chance to go out and conquer life and all it has to offer.  Don't lose sight of what is important in life and know that we will always be here for you.  Don't worry too much about the details, just cling to Christ and enjoy the ride!

"Heavenly Father,
I pray a blessing today over Ryan and his fellow graduates. I pray that you would give each of them clear direction and the courage to live a life that glorifies You.  Thank you for your goodness and faithfulness in my own life and for all the ways I know you will show Yourself to these young men and women. Draw each one to you and give them people in their lives to keep them accountable and edified.  Lord, please guard their hearts against compromise and the wooing of this world. Amen."

We love you, Ryan and we couldn't be more proud! Love, Ashley