Monday, April 28, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5486-5512)

the view from camera three

a message on meaning (say it before the funeral)
and how it underscores to number days
Erica's hug
planning for the leadership summit

for cancelled plans
an open Sunday afternoon with my family
coconut cream pie bars in the fridge for dessert

for birthdays uncelebrated and life celebrated
a second wind

clean windows
a visit with Joel
sitting with thoughts on house and home
a smile and a wave and stepping right over the stone

a sale on azaleas for the patch in front
Erin's helpful hands to pot a plant
chalk art on the patio
Tuesday Bible study
the wrestle with application

a great homeschool review
three weeks left in co-op
a hug at Sandy's and her love
and Linda's love too
the Holy Spirit's changes to my heart and life

a renewal to live whole hearted
new shoes for Erin

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Just a house

I met him years ago when he ventured out into his back yard to see what my kids were screaming about during an evening showing. (Shane was pretending to be a bear, and the kids were having fun running around at dusk at the woods' perimeter.) I loved him immediately.

I sat next to him on the ground as he worked on his car a week later, a jar of homemade jam in hand as a thank you for letting us see his house that August night. (The house was all lit up. Music played. All appliances were running. It felt like home, and weren't our destinies twisting and crossing hard at that very moment.)

Joel has been back a few times, and whenever I see him in the yard, I walk out to greet him.

"I hope you don't get tired of me sticking my face in your business," I said to him the other day. He chuckled. We walked the woods together as he talked about future plans and pine trees.

"Do you ever think about this place?" I asked tentatively.

"All the time. Especially when I change my oil," he said. A smile. And my heart crumpled a little.

"Will (your wife and daughter) come by?" I asked.

"It's different for them," he said, and I understood. "But to me, it's just a house."

We walked around some more. I told him about plans to smooth the rough spots of a hill, about the fire pit we hope to build in the front space where he had wanted to build a gazebo.

"Aunt Stella is 102," he told me as we looked at her primrose in the garden.

Aunt Stella's primrose

"I want to plant some more," I said. "I want to fill this whole section with primrose."

"The tulips up at the house, I brought those back from Holland," he told me. Yellow and fiery red.

his tulips from Holland

Every plant has a story here; every Mother's Day gifted mum; every dogwood, and even every empty patch where a son learning how to drive a Dodge truck pulled a tree from the earth; every fire in the their family room wood stove and how it heated the house (our now school room and the heart of the home for me). It all matters, it all builds a story--theirs and ours.

He says it's just a house, and maybe so, but it's a home and a history. When he looks into my eyes, I know he knows that too.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


I found myself on a carousel earlier in the week. We are on spring break, and Erin needed shoes, so we went to the mall. She got a pair of shoes (the lace up kind because she ties shoes now). And afterward we went to the carousel.

When Lanie and Erin were little, I think we were at the mall almost weekly. We window shopped. We lunched. We would get treats at Godiva. And there was usually a carousel ride involved. Now our mall trips are nearly yearly. Those memories with my kids seem so long ago.

Both kids anticipated the ride, and we had it almost to ourselves when most of the rest of the state was back in school.

Lanie asked me, "Are you getting on too?"

I had a moment's wonder if she wanted me to or not.

"Yes, but not on a horse," I said.

"Ok," she replied. "I wasn't going to go on if you didn't." This is the hard place where you're not five anymore; fun knows no limit, but image does.

The kids were seated and the music started and the ride seemed to spurt and lurch more than I remembered.

I looked at Erin and smiled.

"Don't watch me," she said, bashful.

I turned back to Lanie and feigned terror as a bobbing horse was right behind me with open mouth. She looked horrified herself. This mom of hers, perhaps a bit too much. And I sensed her embarrassment. This is a hard place for a mom, when they're not five anymore ...

I looked out at the people in the mall and I held back tears over independence, struggle, metamorphosis and stretching wings. I found myself mourning a time that went by too fast--without warning so I could give it a proper goodbye. Now, just a memory, and me wondering when did this happen?

This ride, it goes too fast.

Monday, April 21, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5475-5485)

camera 2 on Easter services
chocolate bunnies
two-tone doorknobs underneath the nearly new
homemade eggrolls, gifted by a neighbor across the street
and their wishes to us for a happy Easter
amazing worship

sunny skies
brilliant sunsets
a nap on the couch
the sound of my kids playing outside

Nearly new

Our house was built in the early 70s. There are so many things I love about it--it reminds me of my childhood; it has its own character; the trees are grown and mature. I fell in love with the slate floors. I fell in love with the hobnail light fixtures. I even liked the two-tone doorknobs.

As we began to change things around here, I planned to replace the doorknobs, something along the lines of oil-rubbed bronze. I decided to get a can of spray paint and paint the existing main level doorknobs myself. (This is totally inspired by one of my favorite DIY blogs: young house love.)

Part of our Easter weekend was spent in a little makeover and lots of painting. Pizza boxes are awesome props for holding screws and doorknobs for 360 degree spraying.

Here's a shot of what the doorknobs looked like before:

And after:

I like the change. I liked that we used what was original to the house. I like that it was such a simple project with a good result. The laundry room is almost complete as I toggle between inside work and outside work. Cabinets painted, hardware painted, just a minor setback with a drill that died. Hopefully we'll get everything back in place this coming weekend. I absolutely love how bright white the doors are.

Monday, April 14, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5450-5477)

warm days
campfire smells
spring cleaning
gifted flowers and herbs
dinner with Linda
pizza delivery

painting projects
Mary's hug
Pamela's call

Your protection
flip flops
Erin bike riding everywhere
and neighbors noticing her

this community
a fire pit
iced tea, sweetened
an open house

our school room
Fridays with Julie
Bible study
a visit from my dad
Julie's encouragement

his 78 years
this life, wholehearted

Friday, April 11, 2014


I don't know if it's truly a copycat, but it's pretty tasty regardless. Found the original on Pinterest, and made a few tweaks and additions to my own.

A loose translation of a chipotle-style chicken marinade:

a splash or two of oil (veggie or olive depending on what you have on hand)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 fair drizzle of honey
a few good squeezes of lime

Marinate for 4+ hours.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Taking the day off

We used today as a day off. It was beautiful outside. I opened up windows and aired out the house. The dog stayed outside all day, tongue lolling and tail wagging. I found a ball in the yard--a remnant from a former family. I threw the ball, and our girl went running after it. A year ago, she didn't know what to do with it. A year ago, she barely knew how to play. Now she's a full-fledged dog ... this is what freedom looks like--the ability to be what you were created to be, and be it without apology.

I threw the ball again and she ran. The kids and I clapped and cheered, and she did extra laps around us for sport.

I walked out front with Erin and we looked at the hyacinth poking up, and the daffodils all sun-soaked yellow. We went into the big garden and uncovered the primrose from fall leaves. I have a lot of outside work to do, but today was a day off. Erin sat in my arms on the rocking bench and we chatted. I looked into her eyes and noticed the freckles across her nose. Seven seems so big and so little at the same time.

Lanie ran out later to join us. I grabbed a few pictures of the girls before they went off adventuring: Erin in a skirt and bare feet; Lanie long and lean.

her hair smelled like sunshine


Soon all the trees will be lush with leaves and my kids' laughter will bounce and echo playfully through the woods.

Monday, April 7, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (5425-5449)

for fifteen years married
Shane for my husband
burnin' love burgers
dinner out with the kids
a busy week
a good talk with Jennifer in the parking lot

homeschool skate with the kids
a limbo winner: Erin!
extra kids in the car for a ride home
their sweet mama's hug thanks
a Friday-night movie with some moms

and coffee
breakfast bakes for church
a two-party weekend of fun
a friend in Teena

a waggy dog
the running into with Greg at church
exercise with Karen and Sandy
good friends for Lanie
brown paper packages tied up with strings

words of life
Erin on 2 wheels
the difference here makes

Sunday, April 6, 2014

At all times

We've been gogogo for the past few days. I have a friend whose life is a steady stream of stuff to do and I always thought I could never be like that. It sounds exhausting. And here I was. I had lists of things timed down to the minute on some days. And, now that I'm home and it's all finished, I don't feel the least bit exhausted. Everything got done.

One of the things scheduled today was helping Lanie's best friend's mom host a birthday party. She did most of the stuff, honestly. I was just an extra set of hands and the person behind the lens so that mama could enjoy her kids.

I loved every minute of it. And not only that, I had some great time getting to know her. I left loving her even more.

We made decoupage picture frames with scrapbook paper. And we also did friendship bracelets, inspired by this Pinterest find using leather, ribbon and fabric. I added bracelet closures. We tied each girl's name onto the bracelet she made, but then mixed bracelets up in goody bags as a sign of friendship for one another. Jiliann's mother suggested the girls could pray for one another.

A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17. 

I'm thankful for the very good friends I have in my life.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Speak life

21 Words kill, words give life;
    they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. Proverbs 18:21, The Message

I know any time I get something in the mail from Marshall's Mom, it's going to be love. Gifts are her love language. The kids were so excited when I told them who it was from, because this woman has a reputation for awesome in our household.

"Bows!" one said, trying to get a peek under the brown paper wrapping. 

I picked up the card and read the words ... "a few of my favorite things ... about Courtney."

I caught my breath. This box was for me.

The next words made me cry.

The sweet gifts attached to each set of life-giving words were thoughtfully selected. But her words, oh the words, they spoke into me. They spoke about the time and experiences we've shared as friends, as women, as wives and moms. 

Marshall's Mom sat at my table week after week while our kids played years ago. We learned so much from each other and enjoyed even more--meals, baking, crafting, sewing. Friendship. Life.

I'm thankful that even long-distance, we still keep in touch. 

I had phoned her recently about issues that left me frustrated and confused and down. And in this loving gesture, she gets right to my heart, like light that bursts from the inside out.

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

Thankful for you, (((friend))). You've touched my life so deeply, and positively, and influenced my kids and me in ways that go forward. I am so thankful we met. Thank you for using these words to build me up.


(Going back to crying again. You. Amaze. Me.)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Burnin' love

Fifteen years married to a Good Guy, celebrating together Red Robin-style: two burnin' love burgers and bottomless fries.

If I had it all to do over again: I'd still pick him, only I'd have married him sooner and had more babies.

He is my best friend.

Before I had ever heard of a selfie or photo bomb
because he knows I blog this

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


The kids are outside right now in shorts and bare feet. It's probably not even 70 degrees, but we are all so desperate for warmer temperatures. I guess the want of that makes it easy for them to imagine it's hot.

We got the season's first snowballs at a nearby stand, and some behind-the-scenes shots too.

I scheduled way too much into our day, and I have no business being home right now except that it would have made the kids insane to do one more errand. I will have to do that after a class tonight.

Yes always sounds good in my head.