Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Happy ThanksDAVEing...

We have had a fabulous holiday weekend! All the kids were here, along with my parents, Vince's sister Donna, her daughter Rose, and her amazing husband DAVE.

I was happy to see everyone of course, but the highlight of my life day was (and always is) this man...

Soon after he arrived, Dave began crying and lamenting the fact mentioned that he has not been getting enough attention in my blog. So, because of my great love and devotion to my wonderful brother-in-law DAVE...

I have devoted my life this post to him. Although he deserves so much more. Dave told me that although he gets a shout out here and there on my blog, he is still whining pining for his 15 minutes of fame. Well Dave, because my blog is read by thousands tens of people every day, this is far more than 15 minutes of fame, my friend. But you deserves nothing less!

On this day of giving thanks, I wanted Dave to know just how thankful we are for him, so Vince and I spared no expense with the luxurious accomodations we provided for our most special guest...

He was ever so grateful, and quite comfy I might add!

Even though just having Dave at our house was celebration enough, we also had some fabulous food, including the most delicous turkey I've ever had, prepared by my husband, which I neglected to photograph because I was too focused on Dave these homemade apple and pumpkin pecan pies made by my Mr. Wonderful himself...

They were just as delish as they look! We spent the day dining on the traditional thanksgiving fare, including mashed potatoes & gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, scalloped corn, and of course the pies. Everything was yum! We relaxed the rest of the day, while perusing the ads to develop our game plan for the black Friday shopping. Donna, Brittany and I went out for a few hours of shopping - however not at the insanely early hours that many others did, and consequently most of the things that we set out to get were already sold out. That's ok, I didn't have high expectations of finding anything anyway, it was just fun girl time - which of course included a stop at Starbucks!

The rest of Friday was spent taking the whole fam to the movie "Christmas Carol" (graphics were amazing, story was a little dark and scary), having a birthday party for Rose and Hope, who both turn 9 soon, playing "Guesstures" (very fun!) and partaking in what will now and forevermore be a holiday tradition...

Yes, that's a chocolate fountain, and may I say it was a dripping, delicious slice of heaven!

So in addition to all the eating, we also did alot of laughing, hugging, baby holding, not-nearly-enough picture taking, and memory making. And of course, gazing at this man...

Sure, the picture is a little out of focus, but for those of us who know Dave, it kind of fits doesn't it? It's ok, he know's I love him.....right, Dave?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

In all things...

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I've had a friend and a pastor's wife both talk about this very verse to me in the past week...ok, our pastor's wife wasn't talking to just me, she was talking to the whole congregation, but she did mention me during her message and it got my attention. Both her message and my friend's ministered to me deeply.

In this scripture, we are told to be thankful in all circumstances...not for all circumstances, but in all circumstances. I have always read this wrong, thinking that I should be thankful "for" all circumstances, and I always struggled with it. Especially during the really dark times. Really? I'm supposed to be thankful about my divorce? (I know some people are, but I wasn't). Am I really supposed to be thankful in my singleness and times of intense loneliness and hopelessness? Either God was nuts or I just didn't have the faith to be thankful they way His Word said I should be. And since I knew that God was not nuts, then the latter must have been true. I didn't have the faith to see things the way I thought I should.

But now I get it...thanks to these two people and the message that God strategically gave me through them, I get it. I get the "in". Even during the bad times, especially during the bad times, I can be thankful for who God is, thankful that He loves me enough to walk through it with me, thankful for His compassion during my suffering, and thankful for His promise that He will work all things out for good. Because of this, I can be thankful in all circumstances.

In all circumstances.
In all circumstances.

One of the ways that defines circumstance is this: an unessential or secondary accompaniment of any fact or event; minor detail: "The author dwells on circumstances rather than essentials."


How often do I dwell on circumstances rather than essentials?! Circumstances...the temporary seasons of my life that truly are secondary to the real reason that I am glorify God and fulfill His purpose in my life. My circumstances are minor details to God in view of eternity. Not that He doesn't care about what I go through, He does. Very much. Sometimes much more than I do. But they are not the essentials and are not to be focused on. They are mere threads in the tapestry that God is weaving in my life. He's weaving one in yours too. And if we focus on the threads on the back, they look like a jumbled mess. We think to ourselves, there is no way that something beautiful can come out of this! But when we turn it over and see it from God's perspective, we see something quite extraordinary. We see how each of the threads - every experience, every trial - was used by the Master to create something amazing. Something that will draw us to Himself...beginning with me. And you.

And for that I am very, very thankful!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Can I take my mask off, please?

Before you answer that, be prepared...I'm not wearing any make up. There's nothing to hide my imperfections under this mask, so if I take it off I will be completely exposed. It could be frightening, maybe even ugly sometimes. But at the expense of (I'm not sure what word to use here) I'm choosing to be real.

There have been many times when I've sat down at the computer, wanting to write about something I am struggling with or something the kids are struggling with, and then I stop myself. I can't write about that...what will people think of me? Of us? I don't want anyone thinking that I am not happy or that I'm not a good mom, or worse yet...that I don't have the faith that I profess to.

I'm just asking...can I stop pretending that everyday in our family is one blissful, Kodak Canon moment after another? Those who know me well know that isn't true...not all the time anyway. You know what I struggle with. But on my blog I think I tend to forego sharing the not-so-pretty stuff in exchange for painting a picture of a beautiful, harmonious melting pot that is our blending family. Oh, I know I have been kind of real about the not-so-pretty stuff. I haven't put on a complete fascade...ocassionally I will mention some eye rolling, or some pouting and complaining. But it's usually all wrapped up in some loving humor that would imply that I never really get riled up or depressed or discouraged much.

Truth is, I do. More often than I care to admit to myself, to God, and especially to others.

Please don't misunderstand...I LOVE my husband and all of our children with every part of my soul. I would not trade my life with anyone's. I am abundantly blessed, I am happy, and I am a daughter of the King! In my life, and in our family there are many mountain top experiences and I love to share those. But if I'm going to be honest....really honest, then I need to be able to be just as candid about the valleys as I am about the mountain tops.

Vulnerability. That's the word I was trying to think of at the beginning of this post, and it's something that I fear. Exposing my struggles leaves me feeling vulnerable and most of the time I'd much rather hold onto them and keep them safely hidden in my shell, thank-you-very-much. But there is not much freedom in that, is there? It doesn't bring God any glory at all. And it is counterproductive to the things that I value most: intimacy, authenticity, and ministering to those whom God places in our lives...which so often happens when we share our struggles with others and give them permission to do the same.

So, I'm making a decision...a declaration if you will, that I am going to be more real, a little more honest, and sometimes painfully transparent. Don't worry, I'm not going to get all Jerry Springer here. All of our kids are ours, no one is having an affair, nor is anyone throwing chairs around our house. And 99% of the time there is no cursing either (that 1% of the time when there is, it is coming out of my mouth...see? I've started already.) But there is plenty of talk show fodder here, I'll tell you that.

Oh, and one more thing. If I see you in real life and you ask how I am, I might not give you the smile and the "I'm great" line anymore. I might just be honest. Not "oh-my-gosh-fifteen-minutes-later-and-you're-so-sorry-you-asked" honest. But I might just fess up to having a bad day, or a bad week, and ask you to pray for me. And know what? I'd love it if you'd do the same.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Healing balm

About 15 years ago, I broke my ankle. I was just messing around on the ice, sliding and goofing off, and I hit a dry patch. My body twisted around, but unfortunately my foot did not. It was kind of a bad break and required surgery to repair it. I had three surgeries actually - one for the initial repair and two additional ones to remove the hardware that was used to put all the pieces of my shattered ankle bones back together. As a result of the surgeries, I have a scar about 4 inches long, and even after all these years it is still sensitive to touch. I can't have anything tight around my ankles, and even touching it at all makes it tingle and hurt. Not only has the scar always bothered me, but because of the nerves that were unavoidably damaged during surgery, the entire side of my foot from my ankle to my pinky toe has always been sensitive and I've had to be very careful with it.

One day, when Vince and I were dating, he offered to give me a foot massage. Ummmmm, yes! Hello! Who would turn that down? So off came my socks and out came the Bath & Body lotion....warm vanilla sugar to be exact. I use nothing else. It's yummy!! Anyway, as he began rubbing the lotion into my feet I told him to be careful around my scar and the sensitive areas of my foot. He was, but I remember even the thought of him getting close to those areas would make me jerk my foot away.

Foot massages soon became a regular thing...he was always gentle and very careful , so much so that I didn't even notice that despite my fear and warnings, he did not avoid those sensitive areas completely. He started out barely touching them at all, and over time he increased pressure until something miraculous didn't hurt anymore. Those sensitive areas that I protected and avoided all those years, were healed by his touch.

Do you have sensitive areas that you protect? That you avoid, and even fear anyone getting close to? Even God?

I do.

And God reminded me of this yesterday in church...He wants to heal. Every hurt, every sensitive area, every scar. He wants us to trust Him and expose those areas of our hearts that we have kept hidden, that we have protected, that we have not allowed Him to that He can bring healing. Dont' jerk your foot away. Let Him get out his healing balm and do what only He can do. He will be gentle, He knows it hurts. There may still be a scar, but His desire is not for our scars to continue to hurt. If it still hurts, it's not a scar. It's a wound. And because of His wounds, we are healed. He doesn't want us to be wounded, He wants us to be healed - to grow us and bring us to a new place where we are not afraid.

Because He's there. I'm not afraid.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Addendum to the "crap" post

Just so you know, my previous post was unfortunately not the first time I have blogged about fecal matters. This was, and probably still is the grossest experience of my life.

Just thought I'd share, since recently I've been up to my elbows in - well, you know...

crap, Crap CRAP!

As if last night's poopy water episode wasn't fun enough, my wonderful husband - after shampooing the heck out of the carpet outside our bathroom - decided that it would be ok to dump the dirty poopy water out of the shampooer into the kitchen sink.

You know, the kitchen sink.

Where we wash our dishes.

And prepare food.

And such.

E coli, anyone?

And then he looked at me like I was crazy when I cleaned the sink with a bleach water solution. He actually said I was being a little obsessive.

Seriously? My head is gonna 'splode here.

But, today is a new day! God's mercies are new every morning, right?! And this morning, lawn work sounded like a good idea, so we rallied the kids, got out the rake and the leaf blower and got to work. The kids were having fun raking, blowing, scooping and bagging leaves...very Norman Rockwell like, except for one thing...


Dog crap, that is.....all over our front yard. Not dried up and easy to pooper scoop, as it should was a mess and consequently so were the kids who had been on their knees scooping big armfuls of leaves up to be bagged.

CRAP! On their hands...jeans...jackets...

And then there was me, standing in the middle of the lawn in my good tennis shoes that I should not have been wearing in the yard...covered in doo-doo.


Vince came to my rescue and redeemed himself very nicely from last night's poopy water fopaux by cleaning my shoes up like new. I love that man, but I do not want to know how he did it. I got the kids inside, stripped them naked, and into the showers. Poopy clothes in the washer. It's all good now.

I just have one question...


I believe in spiritual attacks. The bible talks about evil spirits attacking people - like the spirit of fear, the spirit of despair ... is there a spirit of crap? There must be. I'm going to have to check my bible. It's prolly in Habakuk or something. I can think of no other explanation for the events of the past (not even) 24 hours.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Please tell me...

Please tell me that I did not come home today to find one of our boys trying to clean up an overflowed toilet by mopping pushing poopy water around on our bathroom floor with a mop...water that had already soaked into the carpet in the hallway because he didn't put any towels down.

Please tell me that did not happen.

And please tell me that our carpet shampooer will work to get the poopy water out of our carpet.

And also please tell me that he did not walk through the house with wet socks...wet with poopy water from the he carried two wet bath towels (wet with poopy water) down to the laundry room, to throw on top of a basket of clothing that we put on our bodies, as water (poopy water) dripped on the carpetting that he was already walking on with poopy water soaked socks all the way down to the laundry room.

And please tell me that he washed his hands before he touched anything.

And please tell me that whatever he did touch, was safely disinfected by my obsessive clorox wiping of door knobs, railings, faucet handles and keyboards and any other surfaces that I thought he could have potentially touched with poopy water hands.

Please tell me that I am not going to obsess about this forever.

And that I am not going completely crazy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I miss...

when my kids were younger

and they didn't yet know that I am human

I was "Mommy"

and I could fix most things with a hug and kiss

or something yummy

a tickle and some giggles

a snuggle and a movie

or legos

...when they didn't yet know that I make mistakes

and they hadn't yet figured out how to roll their eyes

or shake their heads at something I told them to do

...I much preferred the hand holding

the snuggling

when "it will be ok" was enough

and they felt secure in my arms

when they didn't yet know

that moms can die

and dads can leave

that sometimes their parents will miss the mark

and not be there for them


and that it would break both our hearts.

I remember when Nick was born,

and he would cry...

and I would cry

and I wanted to put him back in my womb

where he would be safe

from the hurts of this world.

I miss the time when I always knew

what to do

and what to say

to make their hurt go away

well not always,

but usually...

For as much as I have tried to shelter them

and love on them

and protect them

and nurture them...

there is just no way to keep them

from every hurt

it's hard for a mother's heart to take

to realize that I can't love everything away

that I am flawed

and I fail.

Thank God

who redeems

who loves where I cannot love

who reaches out His hands

and His heart

to the lost

even me...

Thank God

for becoming a Savior

for hearing the prayers of a mother's heart

to heal

to protect

to love on my children

in the places where my love cannot reach.

And thank God

that sometimes

a hug and kiss

or something yummy

a tickle and some giggles

a snuggle and a movie

or even legos...

still work.

"All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children's peace." Isaiah 54:13

"For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants." Isaiah 44:3

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I'd Need A Savior

I posted a different video of this song yesterday, but this one is live and I LOVE live, acoustic music.

This song is amazing.

Vince and I want to do this song with our worship team sometime. We need to practice it alot tho, because I have yet to be able to sing through the whole song without crying!

I'd Need A Savior - Among The Thirsty

How many names can I use to explain
The love of my Jesus, the life that He gave?
And so many times will I praise you today
I lift up my life ‘cause You’re always the same
And my offering to You I bring...

Your name is Jesus. Your name is Jesus.
You’re the Wonderful, Counselor, my Friend.
You’re what I hold on to;
I know that You brought me through all the days of loss, to the cross,
You knew that I’d need a Savior.

How many songs can I sing to proclaim
Your wondrous love and beauty so great?
What would I say if You brought down the rain?
And everyday I walk through the pain, my heart would still say…

Your name is Jesus. Your name is Jesus.
You’re the Wonderful, Counselor, my Friend.
You’re what I hold on to;
I know that you brought me through all the days of loss, to the cross,
You knew that I’d need a Savior.
Oh, I need a Savior...

You’re what I hold on to;
I know that You brought me through all the days of loss, to the cross,
You knew that I’d need a Savior...
I need a Savior...
I need You, Savior.

Monday, November 09, 2009


As I was driving into work this morning, in my Monday morning slump - wondering how I will contrive the energy needed to give my best to the children I work with after a fragmented night's sleep - God reminded me of this...

Today is a new day!

Everyday is a new beginning!

And because of Jesus, everything I do has meaning and purpose and value. Everything.

As the sun shown down on me and on the bluffs along the Mississippi, I was reminded that I can be a light and a blessing in the lives of the people God puts in my path today. I can be a blessing because I am blessed. And it doesn't depend on whether I had a good night's sleep or not...whether I feel competent and confident or not...HE will give me the energy and the insight to do it!

"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD." - Lamentations 3:21-26

Sunday, November 08, 2009

A journey

I have been blogging for three years now....well, not constantly for three years. That would be a very long ramble and I would have had to pee really bad by now. Oh come on, it's funny.

I was introduced to the "real" world of blogging by Mr. Wonderful, who helped me create this blog back in August of 2007. Prior to Vince, I did not even know about Blogger or that there were all these blogs out there. Honestly. The only blogging I knew of was on Myspace. Yes, I had a Myspace account. Don't judge me. I know that Myspace was very teeny-bopperish of me, but honestly my only purpose in having a Myspace was to spy on my nieces and nephews. They all had one and it was a way for me to keep in touch with them, and of course see what they were into and up to. My niece set me up with a Myspace account and I wrote in the blog part of it now and again for about a year before I met Vince and he made me a "real" blog. This, by the way, was my very first "real" blog post, in which I wrote about meeting and falling in love with Mr. W. I think I'll go read it again now, just for fun love.

Aaaah. I love that man.

Anyhoo...before I deleted my Myspace account, I printed out all of my blog entries and kept them in a binder with my journals. I love to write (which is why I have a blog and journals in the first place). A while ago, I decided that I would type out each entry from my old blog and add them to this one. I wanted to preserve them, and the memories that they reflect. Although when I printed them, I wasn't able to print out any of the comments from my nieces and nephews, so those were lost which makes me really sad!

Tonight I finished typing out all of my "pre-Vince" blog posts (from October 2006 to August 2007) and added them to my archives. It was fun reliving some of those moments of my life, which seem like a lifetime ago now! I think it was a bit therapeutic for me as well, as I was reminded of all the healing that God brought to me during a very long and sometimes difficult season as a single parent. This post in particular from January 7, 2007 brought tears to my eyes. I wrote it before I ever knew who Vince Howard was...months before I ever laid eyes on the man who would later that year become my Mr. Wonderful. I, I know that God had things all planned out for Vince and I when I wrote that post. I just didn't know it yet. I had to get to a place in my heart where I trusted God with my future, and was at peace with His plans for me. This was a step in that journey...a journey that I still travel.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Coughing, peeing myself, and other exciting adventures of my day

I am home from work today....coughing, drinking tea, breathing through my mouth, raiding the kids' halloween candy (sorry kids, the Milkyways are mine). I'm not on my deathbed, but my throat is killing me, I really don't have a voice, and I am coughing every 8.2 seconds. Which reminds me of childbirth. Not so much the birthing process itself, but the lack of bladder control and subsequent peeing on myself that apparantly happens when coughing alot after one has birthed children.

Or maybe it's just me.

Nevertheless, I thought it best not to cough and pee all over everyone, so I decided to stay home today.

I'm not going to go back to bed yet (a nap is on my agenda later) and I don't have the energy to do anything like laundry (thank goodness!) so I thought I'd venture into something far more my blog a makeover.

I'm not sure why I'm doing this because change usually stresses me out, and I really like my blog design as is. But it might be fun and I'm bored so we'll see what happens.

At some point today, if you hear someone say "oh no" followed by a thud, that will be my husband's head hitting his desk at work when he reads this and finds out that I am going to try and change my blog by myself.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A legacy

A young woman died in our community last week. I didn't know her personally, but knew her and her family in the way that small town people all "know" eachother. She was 41, a wife, a mother of three - two of whom are in our kids' classes. She was a preschool teacher, a beloved friend, a woman of God. She was involved in her church - not just an attender, but she went to bible studies and womens' retreats. And she had a beautiful voice.

Last I heard was that they didn't know the reason for sure, and maybe never will. It may have been a heart attack, but they don't know. She didn't have any health problems that anyone was aware of. One thing they do know is that it was sudden and unexpected and heartbreaking.

As you can imagine, this has me thinking. A lot. The description of her life is so similar to mine, it's scary. I'm not so much scared for myself and wondering if this could or would happen to me. It's just scary that there are no guarantees. I used to think that faith in God was a type of guarantee that nothing really bad would happen in my life. Sure, bad things happen to everyone. Even believers. But a tragedy of this magnitude couldn't possibly slip through God's loving, protective hands.....could it?

Six years ago, I would have said no way. Three years ago Vince may have said no way as well. But life experience tells us differently now. And so does the bible. But for most of my life I just preferred to ignore those parts that talked about suffering. They wouldn't apply to me in my lifetime - not on that level anyway. And I have a confession to make...I also used to think that if something so tragic happened to someone, there was an underlying reason for it. They weren't a christian? Well, that's a no-brainer. But if they were? That's a little more difficult to understand and accept. But there still must have been a reason. Somehow they were not fully committed to God, their faith was not where it should be, and that is how this tragedy was able to slip into their lives.

I know that sounds judgemental of me, and to some extent it was. But thinking this way was not so much me standing there pointing fingers, rather it was me curling up under a blanket. Insulating myself from the possibility that it could happen to me. Other people's children die, not mine. People with less faith have spouses that leave them, either by choice or by death, but not me. If I do everything right in God's eyes, if I believe enough, pray enough, and love enough, then God will protect me from that type of suffering and loss.

I know different now. And this song says it more perfectly than I ever could. God doesn't promise us a life protected from suffering, He promises to be there. How could He be our Healer if there was nothing to heal? How could He be our Redeemer, if there was nothing to redeem? How could He be our Prince of Peace, if we never experienced chaos? And how could He be our Comforter if we did not endure suffering?

And how can we be there...truly be there for others if we have not been there ourselves?

Perhaps there is a purpose in all things. Perhaps not. But I have learned this...God brings purpose to all situations. He takes what the enemy means for evil, and draws good from it. Not just good...but life. I have found that through suffering I have grown in ways that I otherwise would not.

There. Now that I've written all that, I can wrap it up with Romans 8:28 and click "publish".

Except, that's not what I sat down to write about.

What really drew me here was fear. I'm scared. Not scared of dying, but scared of failing. Failing my kids, failing my family and friends, failing God with my life. You should hear all the things everyone is saying about this woman who died...what a wonderful mother she was, a devoted wife, a woman of God. She touched so many lives and made such an incredible impact.

And it makes me I making the impact that I so desperately long to? Am I a blessing to my kids? Do I care enough about others? Am I the loving wife that I long to be? Do I truly have a spirit of love and grace that blesses others? Do you see Jesus in me?

What will people say about me when I am gone? Are they true about me now?

Legacy by Nichole Nordman

I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery
Of all who's who and so-n-so's that used to be the best
At such'n'such ... it wouldn't matter much

I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights
We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy

I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthly list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy

Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, "Well Done" good and faithful one...

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Pumpkins and apples, frogs and hearts

We had such a great weekend. Vince's sister Donna and her family were here and we had a wonderful time with them! Even Dave. (It's ok, he knows I love him :)

It has taken me over two hours to decide what pictures to post, as I was snapping away hundreds of pictures all weekend. I'm seriously addicted! Soooo here's what I chose to represent the festivities.

It all started with pumpkin pizza...

 The littlest pumpkin....our grandson Jaden

And then, the carmeling of the apples commensed...

Of course, sampling the carmel was a necessary step, right Donna?

And by the grace of God, no one was impaled by any of our kids carving pumpkins with sharp objects...

Didn't they turn out awesome? From left to right, Nick's was a white pumpkin - he did the face all himself! Next was Kyle's, then cousin Rose's, Vinny made an "L" in his (you'll see why in the next pic) and Hope made a paw print on one side and an "H" on the other.....see the reflection on the house?!

Then Mario & Luigi got ready to go out on the town!

Dorothy was ready for her trip to Oz

And the Viking was ready for some football, or to conquer new worlds, or whatever would be needed

Trevor was ready to fight Batman as the Joker, and Whitney was ready to be Trevor in his stead :)

And then there was a punkin head in a froggy costume...

...who has stolen our hearts.