carrot cake, family and other good things

Yesterday was my 35th birthday. (sigh) Something about the 5’s for me… little mini-life crises. I had one at 25. It was the oh-my-gosh-what-the-heck-how-am-I-25-already-and-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-with-my-life-yet kind of breakdown. Now I’m in the midst of whoa-how-am-I-35-and-thought-I-knew-what-I-was-doing-but-now-I’m-questioning kind of deal. It’s cool, it will all work out, God’s got me and there’s nothing to worry about. I’ve never been happier. My husband is incredible– full of integrity, generosity, and muscles (hey, gimme a break, I’m only a woman!) My son is healthy and starting life again…slowly, but he’s starting. My family is just amazing. Not so much my blood-family. Unfortunately it has been blown apart and everyone seems to have gone down their own path.

But my family, my peeps, the real people I do life with, those people are incredible. Blood or no blood, they are my family. They are the ones I call when I need something. They are the ones who share my special moments, my tears, and my triumphs. They are the ones who remember the little things that connect my heart to theirs. They are the good in my life. I’m so thankful to have each one of them. Yesterday some of my people conspired to turn a rained-out party into a little birthday gathering for me. We were getting together anyway, there was no doubt. But they went a little extra step and added something special just for me. It was by far the best birthday ever.

Every year on my birthday, I used to call my mom and sing “Happy Birthday” to her. She would always laugh and ask me why the heck I did that when it was my birthday. I always used to tell her it was because she was the one who gave birth! It only seemed right. That was a fun little tradition of ours, and that tradition is gone now, along with my momma. This is the first year I couldn’t call to sing the reverse happy birthday song to her. It hit hard. Another thing she used to do, up until the past few years before she died, when she just didn’t really cook at all or do much of anything, was to make me a special birthday cake.  Something unusual, special, just for me…a homemade carrot cake. It had been years since I’d had the special cake on my birthday. Another little tradition, gone.

But yesterday, my beautiful friend Jessica, one of the most thoughtful people I have ever known, teamed up with my husband to insert something extra-special for me into the party— you guessed it—a carrot cake. Something so simple, packed with such memory, unleashed a few tears. Happy and sad ones. So, celebrating my birthday, a great night with my friend-family, and the end of traditions, I thought about all the good in my 35 years of life, and I couldn’t help but be so very thankful. Looking forward to 35 more years (at least, right Amanda!?)

 

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For My Sista-Wives…

Every 4th Thursday, a group of my girl friends and I get together for dinner. It might be out at a local restaurant or just bringing a dish to share with each other at one of our homes. No kids, no dudes, just us girls.

There are about 8 of us (for now) and we don’t all necessarily make it every time, since we’re all juggling the normal home/work/husband/kids/and/or bazillion other various responsibilities on our to-do list at any given time. But about once a month, these gals and I (known within our group as simply The Divas) carve out a little bit of girl time. And even though it’s difficult to fit the date in sometimes, I know that I am so much better for it. I love these girls.

No, wait… you’re not hearing me… I said I LOVE them.

Like seriously love them to pieces.

Like I-can’t-believe-I’m-even-lucky-enough-to-have-even-one-of-these-amazing-women-in-my-life-let-alone-all-of-them kind of love.

I been thinking that since I’ve pretty much gone off the blogging grid for the past few months, (sorry people!) I should probably write my “comeback post” about something incredible. Something super awesome that will captivate every reader. Something flippity-darn superb.

So that’s what I’m doing. I’m going to tell you a bit about these everyday, magnificent superwomen and pray they don’t ask me for that big of a cut of the royalties when this little description of their awesomeness inspires a Lifetime movie. (Seriously girls… Would I even allow Lifetime to exploit your awesomeness like that!?)

Anywhooo…I want to take a moment to share just a few reasons why these women are so important to me. The things you’ll read below are just a few drops in the bucket. Without them I’d be less of a person than I am today. Learn from these beauties. Fo’ real.

These ladies are givers. They pray for me (and for each other) anytime we need it, and especially when one of us thinks we don’t. They cook meals for people who aren’t well, or for other women who just had babies. They willingly give out even more of their already stretched-thin time to help someone else who is in need. They are each connected in unique ways to amazing causes that better the lives of children, empower women and families, fight cancer, bring clean water to people who don’t have it, etc.. etc.. And I am sure my tired, foggy brain is leaving something very cool off that list. Seeing these women, who are in many ways more busy than I am, give of themselves in all of their various ways and never ask for anything in return…I’m so inspired. I’m a more generous person because of these women.

These women are devoted wives. They regularly praise their husbands. Vehemently. Loudly. Publicly. Often. They constantly pray for their men, who they know fight everyday battles both on the outside and the inside. When everything around them says: don’t even bother relying on a man; fight for what you deserve; you better get busy with controlling everything because Laaawwwd knows there ain’t no man who can do anything right these days… Even with all that nonsense floating around them, they are the first to speak up to encourage their husbands and let them know they are loved, appreciated, and respected. With their words and with their actions, they encourage the rest of us to do the same. I’m a better wife because of these women.

These girls are some amazing mommas. They have all kinds of wild adventures raising their wildly different children! They parent with very healthy boundaries and loving temperaments, but never, ever by taking themselves too seriously. They respect their kids as individuals, wanting what is best for them and knowing that it naturally lines up with what God says is best, not whatever is on TV that night. They understand that the upbringing of their children has earthly impact and eternal value. These women have blessed me by recognizing that motherhood comes in all shapes and sizes and colors. They’ve allowed me to share my heart as a mother, no matter how unconventional. I am a better mother (and teacher-momma!) because of these women.

These women are just the right mix of freakin’ hilarious and reflective. There are few people on earth that can get me to nearly squirt soda out of my nose or almost pee my pants because of the crazy stuff they say…Unless you count these ladies! They all know how to laugh at the right time and cry at the right time and tell you to get a grip at the right time. We laugh together on a regular basis. We’ve wept together when we’ve needed to. We’ve questioned and doubted and been confused together at times. We’ve thought about the what if’s and the why’s and the how’s of all the things we see in front of us that we just know God’s got, hands-down, even when they don’t make sense to us. Then 5 seconds later we’re cracking up about the legendary antics of a certain infamous clerk (who works at a certain store whose name I shall not disclose here. I will only say that its name rhymes with “Tall-Fart.”) That’s what life is really like…different from every moment to the next. I am a more real person because of these women.

So, my Divas…if you’re reading this, I want you to know how thankful I am to have each of you in my life. I have no idea how I have become so utterly blessed. I need you to know that I wouldn’t be the same without the influence you have on my life. I am so inspired by the way you love Jesus and how He shows up through you all the time, even when you think you’re not so hot. I have come to realize that you are all part of the repayment that God promised me years ago, and you were worth the wait.

Thank you so much for being my friends and sisters (aka sista-wives! HA!!) I love you. Now get outta here and get back to being awesome.

Moments, Day 22: Cool Convergence

Just a SUPER quick post to mention how insanely cool I think God is! He takes such  tiny little things and makes them converge in a way that SO tells me He wants to show me something and have me really get it. I love when He does that stuff. CA-Razy. Here’s what I’m talkin about:

Happy Report: The blog that I mentioned in yesterday’s post about the whole Board-of-Directors thing has been found!! Now I can properly link to the post I was talking about so you can read this writer’s brilliance for yourself. Here’s the original post, over at Simple Mom. I feel much better being able to give credit where credit is due! It was driving me crazy not to be able to link you back there. Thanks to Simple Mom for the amazing idea of the Board of Directors. That was ALL her… I love it!

Along that same line…we had home group the other night and my hunky husband decided to share one of his devos from this week… it was about Exodus 17 where Israel is battling the Amalekites. Moses stood on a hill and held out the staff of God,  which showed God’s presence among His people. As long as Moses did this, they were victorious. But after a while Moses’s arms got tired, and they began to lower. So what happened??

  12 Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. 13 As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.

How awesome that Moses had such good friends/family that he could count on them to hold up his arms when he got weak! Much more on this another time…but for now I just want to reiterate that we are made for relationships…Moses  had his peeps, and we certainly need ours to hold up our arms when we need a boost. Victory will be the result.

Lastly, I read a verse of the day that I read as a regular part of my bible time, and guess what it was??

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. -Galatians 6:2

AWE-SOME. Definitely more to come on this and maybe even the whole book of Galatians…we’ll see how that all lines up.

Much love to you!

PS: 60 days until India!

Moments, Day 21: Board of Directors.

I am just kicking myself for not paying better attention to where I’m going when I read a blog that I linked through from a blog I found, by clicking through some other blog I love to read. Usually it’s no biggie, because eventually I’ll find it again. Unless of course I’m looking for it specifically so I can link back to it when I refer to it in one of my posts. Such is the case today.

So I read this awesome post yesterday, which I believe was titled “Board of Directors” (I already googled it, didn’t find what I was looking for.) A writer/speaker was talking about how she met for lunch with a group of lady friends who, along with her, would be speaking at an upcoming women’s conference. During their lunch conversation they got to talking about how their lives were super busy with all the writing, speaking, traveling, and general living (you know, like raising kids and being married and cooking and cleaning and worshiping God and stuff) they had to fit into that same 24 hours that we all get. One of them (I think it was the author) said how she was kind of starting to get the feeling that all the opportunities that her writing had brought her (traveling to speak, etc..) was actually starting to hinder those other important areas of her life. She seemed to give off the feeling that she was needing to say “no” to some stuff in order to keep her priorities in check.

So the group of ladies started talking about how they needed a personal board of directors to help them making important decisions like which book deals to take and which speaking engagements to accept or decline. Some folks who knew enough and cared enough about each of them to say the hardest word that many of us ever have to say…no. That way, those good-but-just-short-of-the-best items never make their way onto their calendars or to-do lists for them to fret over. Yep, it sure would be nice to have a Board of Directors that you could take that stuff to in order to help you make important decisions.

Then, the author shared, the ladies realized that they didn’t have to be the CEO of some multi-gazillion-dollar corporation…they could have a board of directors, right there in the middle of their crazy, everyday lives. In fact, they realized that in being close friends who cared about one another and shared some of the same life aspects, they could be each other’s board of directors. What a cool thought!

I was thinking that I certainly do have a wonderful group of close friends that I could call on to be my Board of Directors. As a  matter of fact, they kind of already are and they may not even know it. I suppose they were chosen for the task just by being so important to me. I naturally run decisions by them and talk about my fears and screw-ups and share the cool parts of my day-to-day operation. They give opinions, share stories, and give feedback (without ever even getting paid for it!) It was cool to think that I already have that Board of Directors in place in my life.

I bet if we all thought about it for a moment, most of us probably already have a Board. Maybe you have a dozen members on yours. Maybe it’s only one member for the time being. Think. Really think about it. If you cannot even think of one person that you have this type of relationship with, then may I lovingly challenge you to ask yourself…why not? Is there something keeping you from making these friendships? Or do you have several friends but something has just kept you from growing close enough to anyone to feel comfortable sharing your life’s details with? Whatever the situation, ask God to reveal to you the reason behind your lack of friend-relationships. He made you for relationship, which is the primary way that we give and receive His love. In relationships with friends, we give and receive phileo  love, which is the Greek word for the fondness that we feel toward someone who we simply enjoy being around, someone we are kindred spirits with, and who energizes us with their presence.  Think of Philadelphia…the city of brotherly love.

Who are you getting your phileo from these days? Who is helping you make the big decisions? Who is syncing your calendar and keeping it prioritized in the right way?