Sunday, January 22, 2017

Between Yesterday and Tomorrow

I went to a funeral this past week.  It was for an 18 year old young man.  It was tender and sad and beautiful.  There was pain and rejoicing all at the same time.
You might think I'm kind of a weirdo, because I don't hate funerals.  I hate that they are the result of someone dying, and that people suffer due to the loss of life of someone they love.  I hate that someone might have suffered great physical or emotional pain before they died.  I hate that families are torn apart because of death.  I hate the emptiness that will remain, but I don't hate funerals. Every funeral I've been to has taught me something.  Some have been hard hard lessons, some have been gentle reminders. Sometimes it's learning more about the person that passed, but I always learn something.  It's the one time all my feelings overlap.  This particular funeral reminded me of this:  yesterday is gone, tomorrow hasn't happened; so concentrate on the in between.  So much can happen between yesterday and tomorrow.  I talk about this often in my writing, speaking, in common conversation....LIVE IN THE MOMENT.  I tend to find peace and clarity in the mundane and ordinary moments, oftentimes forcing myself to re-evaluate something I'm complaining about or unhappy with; or finding the utmost joy in the simplest of things like sitting outside in the sun with my dog.  Gratitude in every day, even the hard ones. Every single moment of life is a gift, and a life lost leaves a hole or a lot of holes somewhere.  But a very wise man once said, the pain you are experiencing is a result of the love that is felt.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How Do You Know?

How do you know when God is leading you towards something or away from something?  How do you know it's not just your thoughts?  How do you know it's not just someone else's thoughts?  How do you know?  There have been many times when God has led me to or away from something or someone, and I knew it without a doubt.  I just did.  But then there have been times....especially over the last couple of years....where I felt led, but I was not sure if it's God.  Years ago, one of my lifelong friends told me that she knows it's God when it's something uncomfortable.  I would have to agree with that as well.  But what if you feel pretty certain that it's God leading, because it's something uncomfortable, situations have arisen that clearly show you that it's Him, and you also have a huge sense of peace about it; BUT....the other people involved do not feel led?  Then what?  This is the situation I have found myself in over the last few years.  I use to pray that God would intervene on my behalf.  In other words, I would ask Him to show them my ways.  It was such a huge struggle in my head and heart when He wasn't doing that, and they weren't coming around to my way of thinking.  In the last few months, I have started praying differently.  And although I still feel the nudge and the struggle, I also feel peace when the answer is still WAIT!  How did my prayers change?  Instead of praying for God to change other people's minds and hearts, I asked Him to change mine.  I also asked Him to make sure that I am still acutely aware of this calling that I have felt, and that I do not dismiss it; but instead understand that it is a time of waiting.  I've asked God to allow all involved to feel this nudge if it was His will.  Honestly at first, there was no change at all.  But slowly I can see it, and slowly we are making our way towards it.  It's still a time of waiting, but the signs that this calling is from God is becoming more and more evident to all of us involved.  I know that He doesn't want me to embark on this journey alone, so I will continue to pray that we all feel it and are obedient...especially when it's hard and uncomfortable and while we wait. Thanks Be To God!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Grieving Someone I Don't Know

Is it odd to deeply grieve for someone you don't really know?  Is it odd to feel such a sadness for someone's family?  A family, that I've never formally met, is grieving the loss of their son.  He was 18, and he had been battling was a hard and painful battle.  It was one he fought hard against, so hard in fact, that his nickname became Warrior.  From all I know of him, through others including 2 of my daughters, he was a true warrior with one of the gentlest and purest hearts around.  I read his mother's comments this morning "As I told him he could go, my heart was screaming come back.  After always making sure he was with someone...there is nothing that prepares you to walk away from your child and leave him with strangers".  This resonated so deeply in my heart and head, and although I honestly have no idea what that pain is like; I grieve deeply for this boy whom I never met.  Praying for his family as they search for peace and comfort.  It's comforting to know that they are believers and know that their boy is with His King.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


Do you ever feel judged by the way you parent?  Most of the time, I can say that I do not feel judgement regarding my parenting.  Of course this may be because I'm oblivious to it, or honestly just don't concern myself with it.  On the flip side, I truly hate to admit this....I really do, but I do care what people think about certain things.  I hate admitting that, and it's been a real struggle for me to learn to not overanalyze every little thing that people say, do, don't say, don't do.  Honestly most people could care less what I say or do unless it directly affects them.  I lived so much of my life wondering if I had offended that person, because they didn't wave to me in the hall.  Or what I did to upset that person, because they didn't reply to my email.  Or why that person never invites me to his/her get togethers.  I have gotten past so much of those feelings of insecurity and not being good enough, but it is something I have to work on constantly.  I think a lot of this progress in overcoming those feelings has come with age.   I have realized I am truly doing my best (most of the time), and if that's not good enough for people...then so be it.  I also know that the only opinion that matters is God's.  Although I know this, it is still difficult not to worry about others' opinions as well.  As I said, much of the change in me has come with age, experience and the lack of concern or obliviousness of people's opinions regarding my life and choices.  As long as I'm doing the best I can to live the way God is leading, then I have to just know that is good enough.  One area where I still get confused glances or an occasional snide comment is with my children and their extra curricular activities or lack thereof in most cases.  I am not a fan of busyness....yes you've heard this time and time again....and I will forever say it, because I'M NOT!  There are things that I strongly encourage force upon my kids, but only if I think it will benefit their body, mind, soul, spirit.  If they try it, and it truly is not a good fit; then that's that.  I don't believe in signing my kids up for every single available activity there is.  Honestly I would be in a horrible mood if all of our time was taken up with practices, rehearsals, performances, games, meetings, classes, etc.  It has been hard to find a balance in this area, because my people are so different.  I have a few, who would be happy in their rooms with a good book and good tunes, all day long.  I have one, who loves to go and go and go and go and go, and doesn't mind having something every single day.  I have a few, who are somewhere in between.  When I was a first time mommy, I remember thinking we needed to do all the "good" stuff; and there is a lot of "good" stuff.  My firstborn was one who easily acclimated to about anything and didn't mind going and going and going. It wasn't until the the 5th came along, and my 3rd child was about five; that she enlightened me that we didn't have to sign up for everything offered. When I asked my smack dab in the middle child what she wanted to sign up to do outside of school, she thought about it for a while and replied with...."I just wanna be a kid".  I remember the feeling of relief that came over me, because I was exhausted from being on the go. But also there was a tad bit of guilt, because most of her friends were involved in something outside of school.  She had no interest in doing anything "extra", because she wanted time to read, climb our tree, play outside, draw and rest.  Because she is exactly like I was as a child, I completely understood this desire; and we allowed her to "just be a kid".  However, I did find myself concerned with her not being involved in something that would help grow her passions.  Even still, I have done my best to be very intentional about what we sign up to do.  If they want to try it, and it's too expensive or too time consuming; we just explain this.  And you know what, they get it.  We made a decision a few years ago, that we would not sign up for anything that took up our entire weekends, so we could be spontaneous; and that has been a huge blessing.  We have been able to do road trips and adventuring and play games and just be together.  We have also been able to rest which is extremely important in our house.  We are a group that needs rest and most of us require quite a bit of downtime too.  Last year was the first time in a few years that we took something on on Saturdays.  We signed Cal up for baseball through the Miracle League.  Neil Payne read about the commitment involved, the opportunities, etc. beforehand.  Cal LOVES baseball, but he has never played due to his special needs.  This was an opportunity we could not pass up for him, so we let him try it.  His game is over by noon and lasts one hour max, and the whole family LOVES LOVES LOVES watching him.  It's one time, we don't have to battle the alarm for ourselves or the girls. We may slowly take on more activities on the weekends and weekdays, but for now; we are content.  The main thing I want to give my children and my husband is time devoted to just them. So when people ask me what my homeschooling child does for socialization, I say...she plays with her friends and spends time with her family; and that's good enough for us.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Live In The Moment

When I was little, I was painfully shy.  It's been a process through the years, but I have overcome the shyness.  I'm still pretty of those people that takes it all in.  Out of the 7 of us, I would say 5 are true introverts.  My youngest 2 girls are more outgoing than the rest of us...especially the 4th child.  Living with her for the last 13 years has definitely taught me a lot.  She pushes me outside my comfort zone often.  I've learned to embrace many things I would have not otherwise by her influence.
 I love music.  It is something I hope I never have to do without.  In my love for music, I've acknowledged the fact that I love to dance.  I guess deep down I've always known this, but I was too shy or reserved or whatever to dance much in private or in public.  However when my kids were very small, we started a tradition in our house called Saturday Night Disco.  We would put on disco music and dance until we couldn't dance anymore.  It might have been the first time I danced without inhibitions in my entire life, and I LOVED it.  NPayne is a fantastic dancer which I've learned through the years, however I would never initiate dancing with him in public when we were first married.  Living in my music loving house, with my music loving people; I've definitely taken a new stance on dancing.  I dance a lot and pretty much every day at some point.  I'm still not very good, but I've reached a point in my life when I just want to live in the moment and enjoy the moment as much as I can...without worrying if I'm good at it or not.  So....I do.  And what crazy person wouldn't dance with her good looking, good dancing husband any chance she got...certainly not me. ;)

Tuesday, January 3, 2017


I'm at work today and finished up with everything early, so I decided to clean out my work and personal emails.  With 5 children and my own personal emails, I get bombarded with thousands of emails.  Currently I have tens of thousands of emails in my inbox.  Honestly I'm not sure how to tell how many exactly, and I don't delete them; because there is no way to delete them all at's page by page by page by page, etc.  So why bother??  I do have folders for each child, along with many other things, that I need to keep organized.  I was glancing at all of those and contemplating which to start on when I came across the folder titled Mom, Sandy, Moo.  I haven't looked in that folder in a very long time, but today I did.  There were emails about flowers and headstones and lift chairs, and then I found the last one she sent us on 3/4/14.  It said what they always said....LOVE YOU ALL..MOM, SANDY, MOO!  It was exactly what I was hoping to find, because I miss her.  I did an email search and so many popped up.  I looked at them, and the tears started and would not stop.  If anyone had been in the office today, they would have surely thought I had lost my mind.  Thankfully I'm basically alone here today, so I just let the tears fall and ugly crying took over.  I felt better and worse, because although that pain does's never gone. 
 Every now and then, it even feels brand new.


Arthritis Hurts

The last few years I have had many health challenges, and thankfully most of those are being managed.  The one issue that I can't seem to get under control is pain.  I've tried many natural remedies, supplements, diet, etc...but nothing has really helped.  When I visited the arthritis doctor this past summer, she did a full work up (with a gazillion xrays and blood tests).  The result was....yes you have it, how about Cymbalta for pain management?  I thought about that for a while and decided against it.  I'm not a fan of taking medication (and I already take plenty), but especially not addictive medication; so I declined.  Lately the pain has gotten to unbearable stages, and I've wondered if I made a mistake.  Yes I could go back and say I wanted to try it, but I've lived with pain for so long already; so I'm just not ready to take something I'm not comfortable taking.  I am a pretty laid back gal, but I'm also easily overwhelmed and stressed out by busyness and chaos.  November and December proved to be both.  We've lived in a chaotic state for quite a while now, and although I'm grateful for home improvements; it takes its toll.  I crave organization and tidy, but that is not the current state of our living situation.  I tend to internalize stress which I believe makes it even worse.  It manifests itself in pain and sleeplessness for me.  First world problems I know.  If you happen to be reading this post and have any suggestions for pain management that don't involve medication, please reach out to me.  I would greatly appreciate it. :)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year!


2016 was a year of healing and growth, redemption and grace, a year of re-discovering passions and re-inventing some of those along with embracing ourselves and all of our quirks. It was a year of togetherness and simplicity, and a year of so much happiness. We had a lot to celebrate: an official Uncle Matt when he and Melinda tied the knot in October. Spending time with many of our extended family and meeting some of them for the first time. Bryna Mae becoming a teenager, and Elliot Ann making it to double digits. I made it to half of a hundred, and let me tell you how grateful I am to have lived 50 years!! Lots of adventures and exploring. 2016 did have negatives, but after a very hard 2015...singing, dancing and laughing have become the norm. 2017 brings much to look forward to: Addi Jo turning the big 20! What in the world? Drew Michelle turning 16 and eventually driving (although she's in no hurry...she is my daughter after all). Callahan Leigh becoming an adult when he turns 18 in May and walking the stage for graduation shortly after. Time flies people....I know most of you have realized this, but seriously I blinked; and here I am!! Neil and I celebrating 25 years of marriage in June...over half of our lives together! I will share my witness when I say God's plan is always better than mine...considering I "never wanted to get married". Life is precious and so in the moment as often as you can...even the mundane and especially the hard; because that is oftentimes when you find and appreciate the little things. Those little things are where I find peace and clarity. Remember when you meet someone, that we are called to LOVE every single living being...we don't get to pick and choose. Sure there are people who we have to let go of for our own well being, but HATE is such a debilitating emotion. The world is so full of it, but the world is so full of kindness too...I am doing my best to focus on the good. I am not sure where I would be if I didn't have faith. I have fallen to my knees many times over the last few years in desperation and said..."God, you can take this from me and do what you will"...and you know what? HE DID! 
So hug your people and hug other people too. If you're not a hugger, then smile a lot. Say please and thank you, reply to emails and remember tone is often misunderstood if not face to face. If someone is unpleasant, give them some grace...maybe you don't know what they are living. Take care of yourself and your parents (I wish I had done that better). Listen to good music. Try something new. Don't dwell on things you need to let go. Find something you really enjoy and make time to do it often. Look people in the eye and be sincere. Put away your cell phones and engage with people (hang up and hang out is what we call it). Try not to complain (this is a hard one for me), not all days are good ones but there is something to be grateful for every day...think about that when you wake up and before you go to sleep. Spend time with people who bring out the best in you. Create beauty with your hands, heart and actions. When you're down, serve. When you're not down, serve.
Share your gifts. Remember that not everyone is your friend, but we really only need a few good ones. Once you find those people, hold on to them for dear life!! They will be the ones who love you when you're hard to love and walk with you through the really hard stuff.
I don't do resolutions, but I do hopes and a lot of dreams...
My hope for 2017 for us all is:
"Do Everything In Love 1 Corinthians." 16:14
"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the spirit." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
My dream is peace on earth!!
My lovely, creative sister friend, Joy, captured these images for me for my 50th birthday. She is an amazing person and artist, and I am so thankful for these photos. Take more photos and be in more day your family will be grateful. To all my photog are my people, and I so love seeing your art!
Images credited to Wildflowers Photography!