Beyond Blessed

Today I am feeling overwhelmed with joy…and I wanted to pass some along in your direction.

I have a place to sleep, and it’s filled with people I love.


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My kiddos don’t notice if I cut my hair, much less if I “do” it or put on any make-up. They don’t want me airbrushed in photos. They love me for who I am.


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My husband is one of the most patient men on the planet. I’m convinced. Don’t try to dissuade me. We’ve stood together, ready to tackle the ups and downs of life for many years–and I’m looking forward to an eternity of more.

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I have a cupboard full of food, cabinets overflowing with pans, and a recipe box stuffed with the roadmaps to create our favorite foods. Plus, if I don’t feel like cooking, I have frozen pizza in my freezer or a car with gas to grab take-out.


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I have amazing friends. Need I say more?

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I can listen to favorite songs on demand. Wow. That is so cool.

(See the Spotify Playlist in the sidebar.)

Clean running water, warm showers, and painting my toe nails rock my day. 🙂

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I can smile…anytime. Anywhere.

Karin

What are your favorite blessings right now? How do you celebrate gratitude in your everyday living?

50 Days of Thanks

Will you join me?

As I have contemplated how much better I feel living in an attitude of gratitude, I have been seeking ways to further cultivate this virtue. Here are some steps and background that have led me to this place in my life:
1. A few years ago on my birthday, I decided to write and send a message of gratitude to a handful of friends I might have neglected to say how much their lives have blessed mine.
2. As our family experienced several life transitions which have brought many wonderful people in and out of our lives, I felt a great desire and need to thank them.
3. I LOVE receiving mail…and I think many people might feel much like I do. 🙂
4. Bringing happiness to people is one of my greatest joys in life.
5. I have been inspired repeatedly by the sharing of individuals such as Hannah Brencher, who sends messages of love to people she doesn’t even know.
Read more of her message here on her TED talk:

As you contemplate joining me, please consider:
1. How would you feel to be a recipient of a letter of gratitude this season?
2. Would your time be well spent sending messages of thanks to those you love?
3. Could you spare a few moments to write, spend a few pennies on a stamp, and open your heart?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of those questions, I pose yet one more: Will you join me?

I will be, over the course of the next few months, sending out messages of thanks to those in my life who have touched me. I bought a “value pack” of fifty Thank You cards at Hallmark a few weeks ago, followed by several sheets of FOREVER stamps at my local US Post Office. I am working to write, address, and mail each one of these cards before Thursday, November 28, 2013–Thanksgiving Day in the US.

(Yes, I realize that the calendar shows more than fifty days until November 28th–it’s more like 71 from today–but some of you may want to create your own cards or may need to schedule a trip to buy stamps–or you may take a day off every now and then on those super-busy days–and I wanted this to be possible for all of us. And, since the mail doesn’t run on Sundays, we need a few extra days anyway!) 🙂

And I would love to share the joy with you!  So, will you join me? (Even if you write one more Thank You note than you would’ve done, you will spread love and light into the world which will come back to you…I promise!)

Commit to join me on Facebook or in the comments here. I hope to be posting support and gratitude messages for the next several Thursdays….

The Truth About Happily Ever After

I would love to be profound for a moment…but I just don’t have it in me today.  Let me just share a few thoughts….

“Happily Ever After” doesn’t just happen. You make it happen. And, everyday you wake up and choose to stay in love, you choose to work out issues, you choose to forgive and forget, and you choose to stay with the person you committed to “Once Upon a Time.”


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Remember that?  How your story together began?  And, in the true nature of princesses and fairy tales, your goal was/is:

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Right?  And everything between the ellipses was just witches and goblins and icky bad guys that you would conquer together, right?

Nope.

Sorry.

It’s not really that simple (and yet, in some ways, it is rather simple after all).

After a decade and a half in the same relationship, I have learned a few things that I would like to share with you now in a spirit of love and light and wanting to preserve and support relationships.

First of all, there are lots of moments and even days when I feel like this:

And sometimes I am so irritated, stressed out, exhausted, and who-knows-what-else that hearing a sweet love song like makes me want to spit.

Truly.

And I’m not good at spitting.

But, guess what?!?!?!?!?!

I stick around this relationship. Not because I want to feel crummy…but because I know that we are building something together. We are building a life, a family, our faith, and a future. You see, I don’t believe that relationships end at death.  I believe that we will be able to carry on our family and marriage relationships in the life after this if we will keep working through our issues and pulling together.

I know that media and maybe even the experiences of others might say that the grass could be greener in some other relationship. But, I made a commitment to this guy several years ago. More than that, I made a commitment (and covenant) with God years ago that I would stick with this guy. So, I’m not leaving. Even though hard things may come our way, I can do hard things. And I can do them even better when I have the help of heaven and this really cute guy I married.

So what if we are getting old? We are getting old together. So what if our hair is turning grey (me) or disappearing (him)? We make adjustments. So what if some mornings we irritate each other so much that we are happy to say goodbye? We usually make up during the day and are so anxious to be back in each other’s arms at the conclusion of the day.

Here’s my bottom line. Marriage is hard. It takes work. But it is sooooooo worth it.

On a more personal note, I used to hear lots of people say with regard to marriage that they loved their wife or husband more today than they did when they were married. For the first several years of our marriage, I didn’t understand those statements. I vacillated back and forth between super-in-love-happy to I-can’t-stand-you-right-now-and-I-need-to-go-run-before-I-say-something-else-hurtful-I-will-regret-later. I didn’t know if I would ever get past that point. But, eventually I did. And now I recognize that the need-to-go-running moments are less frequent and the in-love moments are more frequent (maybe that’s what those old married couples meant?)…and I’ve learned to weather and wait out the crazy times knowing that the bliss will return again at some point.

And I’m willing to wait for it and to work for it…’cause marriage is worth it.

And bliss is really sweet.

And I want to be with this guy for a lot longer than the rest of my life.

Cold, Cold, Go Away!

I have a nasty cold.  I don’t know how I could get a cold, with all the sunshine and warmth around me, but I have a cold.  I didn’t ask for it, I promise.  In fact, I didn’t kiss my handsome husband for over a week in pursuit of NOT getting a cold.  What a loss.  😦

Anyway, one of the blessings that comes with having a cold is the need (but not always the ability) to rest while recouping.  Well, I haven’t had that luxury too much over the past few weeks, but one day not too long ago I did take a few minutes to catch up on some cuddling with my (gasp–almost school-age) little guy while watching some Pride and Prejudice (2005).  I was struck this go-round with the scene when Elizabeth is pleading with her father for permission to marry Mr. Darcy.  She talks about how she was wrong and how she really does love him (touching, right?).  What I loved about this moment was not her tribute to his character or her admission of her own pride but the fact that nothing went as Lizzie planned, yet she still got all she wanted–marriage to a man she loved while maintaining her own identity–with even “more fine carriages than Jane [would have marrying Mr. Bingley].”

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I think that’s where I am.

In my life, with all the plans I could make (though I do continue to set goals and achieve them at times), I’m not prepared for all the twists and turns that have come my way.  Still, I am happy.  I have more than enough and to spare for myself and my family (& I can say that even while suffering through this heinous cold that woke me up before 5 a.m. in search of cold medicine and VapoRub more than once last week).  So, hooray for a crazy cold!  Hooray for being able to think for ourselves and choose what we want out of life!  Hooray for counting blessings and maintaining positive attitudes!  Hooray for being me, today, in a place I could’ve never imagined, but where I have all I need and most everything I could want.

Hooray!

🙂

Home

This new video/song from The Piano Guys touched my spirit this morning.


Watching it brought to mind many phrases which talk about home.  Among some of the more familiar are sayings such as, “home is where the heart is” or “be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” Even the precious Dorothy had power to click her ruby-slippered heels while saying, “There’s no place like home” to be transported back to her beloved Kansas.


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Through these thoughts, I began to question what the idea of home really means to me. Is home a physical place? Is it a feeling? Is it an entity all in itself that defies but embodies place, time, or feeling?


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I was born into a home on the east coast of the United States. When I was less than ten years old, our family changed houses (but not cities). I was concerned that I was leaving the familiarity of all I knew up to that point and all I connected with home. Though I was taking my loved ones and toys, my clothing and other belongings with me, I was leaving Pepto-Bismol pink walls of a room where I had slept since I could remember. I worried that my life would change. (And it did.) But I still had a “home.”


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Years later, our family relocated to another state. The culture was different; the surroundings were surreal. Still, I came to call that place home.


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As I have moved many more times throughout my life–both as a child and as an adult, I have developed a new definition of the word home. Home doesn’t mean toys or a blanket or pink walls or even a particular city or state to me anymore. I have learned that home is acceptance, friendship, faith, connection, comfort, peace, and love…wherever this path of life may lead.

Connected

I have twins. They are NOT identical. They are not even the same gender. One is brunette and olive-toned; one is blonde and pink-toned. They are both beautiful. But they DO NOT get along all that often.

In fact, they haven’t gotten along super-well since womb and birth. Think Jacob and Esau, if you read the Bible. But, occasionally, I feel the privilege of noticing what I have come to term a “twin moment.” These moments are sweetly connecting moments, where they seem like more than friends and more than siblings…like two people who inherently need each other and have been inseparable since before birth. I love these moments. 🙂

One happened this weekend, as we were studying scriptures together as a family. The twins were sitting side-by-side with their backs to the arm of the couch and their feet under a blanket together across the cushions. They shared a large-print copy of inspired words, and the one who is more proficient at reading helped the less-proficient one with tough words as we all took turns reading.

I felt like one happy mama.

Then, I began to reflect on those moments when I bask in the connected feelings with my husband, children, sisters, brothers, parents, and friends. I live for those moments when, just being myself, I can CONNECT with another individual. Connecting with others is one of my happiest purposes in life. I’m not sure I can adequately describe the innate desire and need through words…
…so I’ll share with you one of my favorite songs from (brace yourself) my favorite Barbie movie, Barbie and the Diamond Castle. This film celebrates the power of friendship and music, and I LOVE IT. 🙂 Here you go:

And, just for the record, this is post #99….
#100 is up-and-coming…and a celebration! Thanks for sharing this journey with me! I love to feel connected to you!

Another poem…

Loneliness

I can’t remember which toothbrush is mine
So I grab one from the drawer, one I think is mine, and start to scrub.
I’m calling your number as the bristles scour off layers of plaque and the Caesar salad dressing
Ring
from lunch while I waited for you at the table
Ring
And the bristles tug at the sugar swirls from the Skittles
Ring
I had in the car on the way home from oblivion
Ring
And I finally feel a click and I expect to hear your voice again but it’s not you…only a computerized invitation and I’m waiting through the words to leave a message at the tone for
You

But your voicemail is full.

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You Gotta Work

So, with a little music bopping around in my head, I have a tiny piece of wisdom to share this fine morning.

I thought I was being nice.

I thought I was being helpful.

You see, up until the last week or so, I have been doing a bunch for my kiddos. I was never one of those women who thought that kiddos should be without responsibility…our kiddos have their share of chores and babysitting and tidying…but I was definitely doing more than I needed to for them. Like, if they didn’t put the cereal away in the morning, and they were rushing out the door to meet the bus, I would put it away for them. Or, if I was having company and one of them didn’t put clothing (that I lovingly washed, sorted, and sorta folded for them) away, I would do it.

Yes, as I write this I am feeling a little slushy inside…like I’ve known for a while that they are old enough to pull more weight around here.

Well, this morning, in no uncertain terms, I (lovingly) explained that I have done much for them…and that I enjoy doing fun things for and with them (like baking goodies or making treats or playing games and hanging out together)…and that they needed to show more respect to me in return.

Guess what? They were up to the task! I was surprised and elated to see that, as they went about their work and responsibilities with little guidance from me, they stood a little taller. By helping them get to work, they felt the value each of us feels when we ACCOMPLISH. And, I have to say, accomplishment is a great feeling. 🙂 I’m guessing that when they feel accomplishment and begin to understand their value in our family, in society, and in the world, that their self-esteem will grow, as well.

If you have kiddos, and they could be stretched a little more…to do more…to be more…then I say boldly, “GO FOR IT!!!!” You might have to use your words.  You might have to get a little tougher skin.  You will absolutely have to do more than just “teach by example.”  But it will be worth it.  Teaching them the value of work will stay with them throughout their lives…and, I dare say that the value of work is lacking in this world.

So get to work!

Do We Eat Words?

While chatting with the preschooler today over markers and paper, I noted the letters my little one was drawing in rainbow colors across the tablet of white.  I remarked, “I like your letters.”

Preschooler:  “I LIKE letters.”

“Me, too,” I responded.

“I like words.”  Then, looking up from the markers and papers, these words spouted from little lips:  “What do we do with words?  Do we eat words?”

I smiled at the innocent question. “We don’t eat words.  Sometimes we spit words.  Sometimes we say words….”

I know that sometimes people talk of “eating their words” when discussing having to take back words or admit they were wrong…but try explaining that to a preschooler.  🙂  The question has given me pause, though.

In current parenting circles and educational venues, children are encouraged to “use [their] words” instead of acting out with their bodies in frustration or other emotions.  Sometimes the phrase “use your words” is used to promote verbal communication.  I have used it many times myself with my own children and with other little ones.  I find words intriguing, marvelous, powerful tools!  I love to use them to describe, to console, to communicate, to empower, to compliment, and to strengthen.  And so I leave you with this same question today as you consider life, liberty, and your personal pursuit of happiness:

What do you do with words?  🙂

(And, because every post is better with music…here’s “One Word” from Elliott Yamin that I found on Spotify to share with you…because we all know I love a good, upbeat, positive love song….)

Parenting is Hard.

After an experience with one of my precious children this morning, and after some weekend reflection, I’ve come to this conclusion:

PARENTING IS HARD.

Maybe that isn’t news to you. If I stopped parenting long enough to think about it (which only happens in tiny little moments), I might have figured this out sooner. Maybe? 🙂

Anyway, these recent moments of reflection have shown me similar traits in my children to my own personality flaws (which are actually quite difficult to view). For example, remember when you have read a novel or watched a film and you find yourself identifying with the feelings or habits or personalities of a certain character? Those connections have been happening abundantly lately for me…only my children are not mere characters in a book or movie. They are my children.  And they are flawed (which I knew) like me (which is what is so difficult currently to view).

Maybe some of the difficulty is knowing the path they have ahead of them…and my desire to help them wake up to a realization that certain behaviors that I have wasted years of my life practicing can lead them to heartache and sadness.  I find myself defensively saying (in my mind) to them, “I’m getting over [that behavior].  Why can’t you?”

But, some lessons need to be learned from the inside out, not vice versa.

I guess what I’m saying is, after this weekend and this morning, I’ve got some work to do…both for myself and also with my children. And I’m wondering what I can do to change today….

Each of my children (and yours) is a gift, a life, an opportunity for love and learning and greatness. My children don’t need the fame of a Super Bowl ring, a Julliard degree, or a name in figurative lights to be valued and precious and productive in society. They are each amazing in their own spheres of influence as they develop and share their own talents and gifts with those around them.

I wish I had learned that earlier. I still find myself fighting feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness daily. But, at least I am fighting them (most days) instead of giving into negativity.

On the way back from taking one of our children to school (the one having a rough morning), my husband gently said my name, followed by the words, “You are a good woman.”

My immediate thought was, “If I was a good woman, I could cure more ills and take away more pain.”

As I fought tears in the thought, I saw something else, though…a smattering of light…of truth.

Pain is part of life and a tool to help us grow, just like a flower fights the adversities of gravity and wind to grow and stand straight and bloom.

So bloom. As a person. As a parent. As YOU. We can make a beautiful bouquet together.