I have had Emmie's first day of Kindergarten outfit picked out in my mind for weeks. Not sure if it's my active imagination or way of coping with the inevitable, but I could vividly picture her in it. She would be waving to me with her heart melting smile as she skipped into her class, her golden hair trailing behind her. All in slow motion, with a sweet soundtrack playing in the background, of course.
That did not happen. At all. None of it. And that's ok. Lately, more than ever, I've been much more aware of not placing expectations on the kids. We've heard it said, expectations breed resentment.. I am someone who is very aware of my wants and needs, likes and dislikes, hopes and fears. Emmie has all of those too, in her adorable pint size body. As it is becoming more and more apparent that she is my mini, several of those are similar, if not identical, to mine. I can relate when scraping noises bother her, because they bother me too. I can understand when she is shy and doesn't want to go up and start talking to someone by herself, because I have a hard time with that too. When she doesn't want anyone talking to her for the first 10 minutes she is awake, Its like looking into a mirror. Albeit, a much smaller one that cannot have coffee yet to help take the edge off. I am careful to not be dismissive just because it may be inconvenient. The saying "If you don't listen to the little things, they won't come to you with the big things" echos in my mind. This is not to say that we allow her to react however she wants. This just means that I have made a much more intentional effort to respect her feelings as well. She is shy, but when someone says "Hello" we are working on still being polite and making eye contact with some kind of response back. She prefers dresses, and while right now it is a challenge because most of her dresses are not "twirly" enough, we choose her clothes together. As school starts, we will pick out the whole weeks worth of clothes on Sunday night to minimize the clothing battles in the morning when we are all tired. She is allowed to be quiet and reflective, or angry and upset as long as she chooses to express herself respectfully.
So, this morning when she did not want anything at all to do with the outfit I wanted her to wear, I listened to her. She was not rude or dismissive, but instead held up the one she wanted explaining "I'd feel so pretty in this!". While it was not at all what I had envisioned and my selfish inner voice wanted to argue her into the other outfit, I understood. I know very well how feeling good in an outfit, or even as simple as loving the choice of underwear that day, can make all the difference in your confidence. And goodness knows we both needed all the confidence we could get for today. When I wanted to have her hair a certain way, she had a much different picture in mind. We compromised, because it is her head after all. And I do have to say, she did a pretty good job with her own style shining through.
We headed off to the school with our heads, and hopes, high. They stayed that way even after getting out of the car. (This little girl is so loved. Both her big brothers wanted to walk her to class with me. Especially since Daddy had to work.) She had a pep in her step and her gorgeous smile spread across her face while walking down the sidewalk. Entering the building, her pace slowed. We scooted over to the side of the hall and said a quick prayer for peace and courage. She perked up some, though still gripping my hand tightly. We were the second ones in classroom, right behind her new friend! (We met a sweet family at open house and exchanged numbers. A few days ago we met up at the park so that our girls would know someone in school when they started today!) While the parents sat down at the table filling out paperwork, Emmie and her new friend played and twirled on the carpet, showing off the skirts that they had both chosen. (They passed the twirl test.) After the paperwork was done and I stood up, pushing the chair in, Emmie was instantly glued to my side. We talked with the teacher some more, taking advantage that there would only be 5 children in class today with the staggered entry. When it was finally past the time we should have left, I knelt down for a hug. Pulling away from it, her sad face looked up at me and tears started to silently roll down her cheeks. I shifted into super Mama drive and I reassured her she would do great and have so much fun. To remember all the amazing things she did today because I could not wait to hear all about them. As she slid over to grab a tissue for her tears, I fought back my own. My sweet, strong girl was trying to hold it together. I hugged her again and didn't want to draw it out any longer, so we said our goodbyes and headed out the door. I peeked back one last time (never look back, ugh!) and she melted. I motioned for her to come give me one more hug in the doorway. We dried her eyes together, said another prayer, and after another big hug and affirmations her teacher took her hand and she headed into the class. When they say all the feels, they mean all the feels. I am so excited for this next chapter for her. She is going to do so well and make so many new friends. I can't wait to read bigger books with her and see her style come out in her projects. But, right now, I am anxiously looking at the clock, willing it to move faster to the time I can run out the door to go pick her up and hear all about her first day. I love the times when our kids are being challenged in a controlled environment and you can almost see their character growing. But, I hate them too. I wanted to scoop her up as she whispered into my ear "When will you pick me up? I want to be with you, Mama!" and run out the door with her in my arms. We don't really need school, do we? Letting go is hard. So tonight, when she gets home, I'm not going to. We are getting her choice of treat and I am snuggling up with my little girl and holding on tightly as she tells me about all of the new things in her life. And thanking God all the while that I have her to miss.
I am a lover of all things Autumn. The crisp air that makes me breathe in deep, the array of colors on the trees, the smell of smoke from the fires burning in the chimneys of my neighbors, Chai Tea lattes that warm my soul, hoodies, comfy jeans, the smell of fall candles. (Though, I may be the only female I know who does not like Pumpkin Spice lattes.) I have been waiting for Fall since the first 90 degree day we had in February. I would enjoy Spring a lot more if we had one for more than a few weeks, followed by 5 months of heat and humidity. My hair rebels and my skin misses the dry heat of the West Coast. I get through the summer months focusing on what is great about it instead of what I hate. I love summer thunderstorms, lightning bugs, the carnival we go to on the 4th of July, sundresses, watermelon, no homework or projects for the kids (can I get an AMEN?!), and not having to find matching socks for the kids are what first come to mind. But, while I am excited for the arrival of Autumn, this year is bittersweet.
Jordan started middle school on Monday. My sweet, energetic, talkative, smart, creative, silly boy with the best laugh you have ever heard is in 6th grade and I am having all the emotions. I am mourning the loss of who he used to be while completely loving who he is, and am so proud of who he is becoming. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. I've always daydreamed that we could freeze our children at two different ages throughout their life and get to keep those versions of them, while letting the authentic one continue to grow. Right now would for sure be one of the ages I would freeze Jordan at. The way his eyes light up when he is telling me about a new character he has made up for a book he wants to write. Or how he gives me a shy smirk as he pulls up the back of his shirt and lays his head on my lap, non-verbally asking me to scratch his back. The way his nose scrunches up when something is amusing to him. Or how he wants me to lay in his bed with him and just talk the night away, about anything and everything. I am constantly amazed by his intuition and complex thoughts for his compact 11 year old body. He is one of my most favorite people, and has taught me so much about myself as I parent him. And he is in middle school. Stop it. Slow down! He hugs me in front of his friends and waved sweetly to me as he headed into this next chapter of his story. I have not lost him yet.
Emmie Jane starts Kindergarten on Thursday, and those emotions are going haywire. I cannot believe my sweet angel face is old enough for school. Her backpack is so big on her, it goes down to the middle of her calves. Her smile is just as big with excitement. She is both shy and social. Energetic and laid back. Brave and timid. Girly and curious. Silly and sweet. A walking contradiction that has completely stolen my heart. She is her mama's mini in almost every way. I hear my words come out of her mouth daily, especially when telling the boys to do something I've already asked them to do. She loves Jesus, snuggles, holding my hand while we watch TV, making up her own songs (watch out Taylor Swift), dancing, asking a lot of questions, drawing, and has a the sweetest soul. I have put on a brave face for her while talking about school, and have talked about all of the good things because she is a little apprehensive. I know she will make many friends, because she comes home with some when we go to the grocery store. She sees the good in everyone, and has a brilliant imagination. She is going to change the world one day, but we have to start with going to school first.
If only you knew
The sunlight shines a little brighter,
The weight of the world’s a little lighter,
The stars lean in a little closer
All because of you.
I want to see
You lift your chin a little higher,
Open your eyes a little wider,
Speak your mind a little louder,
’cause you are royalty.
This is your kingdom,
This is your crown,
This is your story.
This is your moment,
Don’t look down..
You’re ready, born ready.
And all you gotta do
Is put one foot in front of you.
Our ceiling is your floor,
And all you gotta do
Is put one foot in front of you,
If only you knew.
"Daughter" - Sleeping At Last
Good luck to all the kiddos starting school! And good luck to the Mamas (and Daddys)! Enjoy each and every season with your littles before they are not so little anymore. This is just another season, in life and the weather.
Emmie loves to bake with me. Most of the time, she doesn't know the difference between flour and sugar, and definitely cannot hand me the correct measuring cup. We usually end up with a huge mess and it takes me twice as long to make the cake. I don't need her help to bake that cake, but I want it. I love spending time with her. Her eyes light up when she sees the finished creation and I can see her confidence growing. It gives her the courage to try again knowing that she was a part of it. In the same way, God does not need our help, He wants it. He loves His children and wants them involved in advancing his Kingdom.
I am too familiar with thinking I am not good enough. Of doubting my worth. Believing that I am too far gone. That maybe, if I had a time machine to go back and fix all my wrongs, I could be better. If only they knew what I have done, or the things I have seen and been through. The church would not want me. There is no way that God could love me, let alone use me. And that is a lie. None of us deserve His love, but he gives it anyway. And thank you Jesus for that!
I have definitely screwed up in my life over and over, and will continue to do so. Hopefully less and less with God's grace and direction, and the accountability of amazing friends. But, I will never be perfect. The pastors in the local churches are not perfect. The disciples were not perfect. Christians are not perfect. But, God. But, God uses us anyway. We aren't asked to spread the Good News. We are commanded to because it's too important not to. It is actually a matter of life and death. I am not my mistakes, I am forgiven and covered in grace. 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come." And man, does that feel amazing. And, I can tell you that there is no way I would want to go back to doing life alone. Jesus is better.
Jacob was a cheater; Peter had a temper; David had an affair; Noah got drunk; Jonah ran from God; Paul was a murderer; Gideon was insecure; Miriam was a gossiper; Martha was a worrier; Thomas was a doubter; Sara was impatient; Elijah was moody; Moses stuttered; Zacchaeus was short; Abraham was old, and Lazarus was dead. But, God met them where they were, turned their lives around, and used them to show the world who He is. God loves you. Come as you are. We can never get our lives ready or be good enough. But, He loves us anyway and He is waiting.
How Can It Be by Lauren Daigle
I am guilty
Ashamed of what I've done, what I've become
These hands are dirty
I dare not lift them up to the Holy one
You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be
I've been hiding
Afraid I've let you down, inside I doubt
That You still love me
But in Your eyes there's only grace now
You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be
How can it be
Though I fall, You can make me new
From this death I will rise with You
Oh the grace reaching out for me
How can it be
“Love is taking a few steps backward, maybe even more…to give way to the happiness of the person you love.” - Winnie The Pooh
You spend their whole lives preparing for this without really understanding what this is. As any parent knows, there isn't a baby manual. But, if there was, on one of the first pages should be a reminder that they are not ours. We are chosen to guide them for a short while until they leave (not a fan of this word) us to go out on their own. Their whole lives we are teaching them to talk, to walk, to eat in a way that resembles a human, to be polite, to go to the bathroom where they are supposed to, to read, to pick out clothing that won't one day have them end up on a remake of What Not To Wear, to drive, and to be responsible. We have been preparing by letting go slowly so that it won't be a shock to either of us. Stepping back and letting them make small mistakes under our guidance, so when they leave they are ready. But, how do you prepare to not get the daily hugs, the "I love you, Mama"s, all the snuggles and talks, and for your baby to tower over you at almost 6'2".
His nursery was decorated in the Classic Winnie The Pooh theme. We still have this Winnie the Pooh that he can now grip with the palm of his hand. I see the glimpses of who he used to be less and less in the craziness of our life. But, a sideways smirk or the way he still bounces his leg when he's nervous will send me back in years to my little guy.
I could not be more proud of who he has become. Such a great partnership from a whole lot of Jesus and a little bit of us. He's so much more than Valedictorian, National Honor Society member, French Club President, NAF Diploma Recipient, or that he secured a 5.194 GPA. I am incredibly proud of those things. But, WHO he is makes me so much more proud. He still hugs me in front of his friends, has gone on multiple missions trips to spread God's love, will collect everyone's dishes when they are finished without being asked, will literally give you the shirt off of his back if you need it, will wait to hold the door for someone approaching, is funny and kind, helpful and respectful, and has quickly become one of my favorite people. It's such a great feeling to realize you not only love your kids to the ends of this earth, but genuinely like them too.
Although we are still close, he doesn't talk to me as much as he used to. And while my mama heart longs for those conversations I am thankful. He doesn't share as much because he has such an amazing group of friends to talk to. And in this season he is in, that is so much more important. He knows I am always here, and I will wait for the moments he plops down on the edge of my bed to talk. (No matter if I'm ready for bed or not.)
I am luckier than most this year. He has chosen a great University that happens to be 1 1/2 miles from our home. He is staying in his own bed this first year after some thought. This milestone (that feels like a mountain) is easing both of us into this new chapter of our lives, and I am thankful. For the mamas that have hugged their kids goodbye this week, you are in my prayers.
Next week I will be sending off one to start middle school and one to start Kindergarten. I am oddly more terrified about both of those because as hard as mothering an adult is, he is ready. Prayers all around. Sprinkle them all over the place in these next few weeks. We all need them.
To the boy who made me a mom, I love you to the moon and back. I (can't) promise I won't show up at your college, driving up slowly next to you as you walk to your class and wave "Make good choices!". You may be what they are calling an adult now, but I am always your Mama. My lap is always here. Go get em, Bud!
"You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." --Winnie the Pooh
A song was released just before his graduation and has quickly been dubbed "Carson's song" when my daughter, Emmie, asks me to play it over and over. And I don't mind. The words are so fitting for this season and to him. Click the photo below to hear it on YouTube.
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” - Winnie The Pooh
May you have auspiciousness and causes of success
May you have the confidence to always do your best
May you take no effort in your being generous
Sharing what you can, nothing more nothing less
May you know the meaning of the word happiness
May you always lead from the beating in your chest
May you be treated like an esteemed guest
May you get to rest, may you catch your breath
And may the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows
And may the road less paved be the road that you follow
Well here's to the hearts that you're gonna break
Here's to the lives that you're gonna change
Here's to the infinite possible ways to love you
I want you to have it
Here's to the good times we're gonna have
You don’t need money, you got a free pass
Here's to the fact that I'll be sad without you
I want you to have it all
- Jason Mraz
Some moments shine brighter in my mind than others. As a dreamer, I often scroll through the library of memories and replay my favorites over and over. A smell, a sound, or a phrase will always surprise me with what starts to play in my mind.
My daughter followed me out to my car a few days ago. I'm loving this stage where Mommy is everything and I cannot even run to the car without her wanting to come too. With Emmie being my youngest, I know this won't last very long and I am soaking it up. After retrieving the item from my car, we headed back inside hand in hand.
"Look Mama! It's Nana!" I followed Emmie's pointed finger to the grass in front of us where a beautiful yellow butterfly sat staring back, trusting and radiant. My heart fluttered along with it's wings. Butterflies were my Nana's favorite, and Emmie must've remembered that. I took a snapshot with my memory polaroid. This moment was too perfect to forget. I know for years to come I will remember the warmth of the sun on my head, the touch of Emmie's hand in mine, the sound of the birds melody, and even my neighbor mowing his lawn sending over the smell of freshly cut grass.
My Nana passed away in May 3 years ago, and still I reach for my phone to call her with a great story or exciting news. She's still in my phone contacts, and will most likely always be. She was one of the few people in life I held closely, instead of at an introverted arms length. Some people, no matter how different they may be from you, just get you. Just accept you fully as you are with all of your flaws. That was my Nana for me. That was my Nana for so many people. She loved people.
I remember hearing stories from her many different jobs over the years. She loved to tell stories of her time as a pre-school teacher where she would often repeat the one of a boy with anger issues and she would tell him "I can't let you hit that other boy, but I can let you hit this pillow." She would smile and hold up a pillow. This sentence would be repeated to me when asking for advice about my children. It can be applied to so many different things, she would say. She also worked at a women's shelter. I remember going with her a few times and running my hands along the racks of clothing there, available to women in need. I would watch my Nana talking to the women and beam with how lucky I was that she was mine.
I loved when it was my turn to go spend the night at Nana's house. We would walk down to her pool where she would let me play until I was tired, never forcing me to go in before I was ready. We would watch Shirley Temple movies or, as I got older, watch Columbo and Murder She Wrote. That may be where my love for True Crime started. Nana loved crossword puzzles and over breakfast would even let me try to solve them with her. Since I was young, my phone calls with her have ended the same way. With Nana saying "I love you a bushel and a peck" and me responding with "and a hug around your neck." The Doris Day song plays as the soundtrack to most of my memories with Nana, though I'm sure it was not really there at the time. It's a funny thing, how memories can morph to our feelings.
Nana's love for God showed through in how she lived her life. In so many of my cards that I have saved over the years from her they are closed with "God loves you, and so do I." I now use this phrase myself with the teen girls small group I teach and with my own children. Is there a more perfect sentiment to tell someone? Small, but mighty.
She spoke her mind, often. (This may be where I get this from.) You knew where she stood. I can still hear her voice replying "Interesting" as she listened to something she may not have approved of. Processing it before responding. But, She stood by me and up for me in times of my life when I felt I didn't have many. And I am so very thankful that she knew and loved Jesus, because I know I will see her again someday. She was "tickled" when I told her Emmie's middle name would be Jane, the same as hers. I hope everyone is so lucky to have a Nana in their life. Grandmother or not, someone who is so unfailingly in your corner. I strive to be that for people because of what I have seen in her. Carol Jane, you are loved and I'll see you soon.
I get up early. Like, early. During the school year, my alarm goes off at 4AM. This summer, I have been able to sleep in until 4:30, or even 5 some days. My saving grace is that no one else is up when I am until after I have showered and had my coffee. Thank you, Jesus. I have about 20 blissfully sleepy minutes in the morning all to myself. I have showered and washed the previous day away. I sit on my spot on the couch (usually fighting Lucy, our beagador for it) and let my hot coffee and bible soothe my soul before the chaos ensues.
Coffee in my tummy and joy in my heart still does not make me a morning person. I do not wake up at that ridiculous hour by choice, but because I have a full time job and kids who are so far apart there is no chance of them riding the bus or being dropped off at the same time. (To everything there is a season.) I still need a full two hours or so to become human.
After putting out the fires of the morning, putting in ponytails and slicking down cowlicks, packing whatever food needs to go to the multiple locations, letting the dogs in and out and in and out, and changing shoes to fit my mood I slip away into the van. Podcast started and seatbelt on, I drive down the same road in roughly the same 5 minute window every day. As a spontaneous person with self diagnosed OCD, I equally love and hate the monotonous.
A few months ago while mindlessly driving my morning route, a few older (than me) ladies were out in the road. Let me set this scene - There is a sidewalk. (Which I wanted to inform them of out my window not very gracefully.) Why are they in the road? Fix it, Jesus. I continue down the road, believing that they will move. They didn't. So, rather than start my morning off with vehicular assault, I drive a wide berth around them. This continues for the next week or so. Them walking, talking, enjoying their morning with their walking sticks and high hopes and me swerving around them with the nerve to drive my car on the road. Maybe I should take the sidewalk? Each time I would think things I probably shouldn't be, and then immediately feel guilty. But, obviously not guilty enough because I would go about my day and forget all about it until the next morning when history would repeat itself.
Until the morning my prayer included joy and a change of perspective for someone else. Prayers are apparently contagious, because as I drove by them that morning and we got close enough to make eye contact, I smiled and waved. They both smiled and waved back. What just happened? I felt a little strange and a little lighter as my morning thorn had been removed. The next day I tried it again, slowing down just enough to be able to be intentional with it. They met my smile and wave with their own!
Now a few months later, I start to smile as I turn onto that road in the morning. We smile and wave the same every day, and it hasn't stopped making my heart light. I keep meaning to bring them a bottled water, but as my brain is not awake yet I forget. (It's the thought that counts? I'll get my stuff together someday soon and bring one.) Changing my perspective has turned an annoyance into something I look forward to. We had a thunderstorm a few weeks ago, and I noticed their absence. I have started wondering how they know each other and what made them start walking this way. I look forward to brightening their day just as they brighten mine. With one small act and attitude change, one of the things I dreaded quickly became the opposite. I humanized them, which is something I feel is so lacking these days.
The world needs more smiles. I hope you find yours!
"If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." - Wayne Dyer
My favorite book growing up was The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. A great book, but an early sign that even as a child I had a love for the bittersweet. It taught things like go barefoot, focus more on what you need than what you want, and to just be in the moment. I was usually found outside in trees when I was younger. Just daydreaming, or reading a book. The silhouette of a tree against a twilight sky is one of my favorite sights.
We had a beautiful willow oak tree in our backyard for the last 14 years we've lived in our home. It is one of the biggest trees I have ever seen, California Redwoods aside. It has cast shade over our backyard in the scorching summers. It looks majestic covered in snow in the winter. It was the backdrop for so many photos of my children growing up. I would pull up the driveway and stare at it and how it towered protectively over our house. This tree was probably one of my illogical reasons for loving this house so much.
Until about a month and a half ago, when this happened. That is not the tree. That is one of the smallest branches on the tree. It missed our neighbors house by a foot and damaged the entire corner of our handmade fence. Our family felt the house shake when this branch fell to the ground after a rainstorm. We went running to find this. We didn't understand what was going on. The tree was healthy! It had bright green summer leaves all over it, with no damage in sight other than this limb that decided to jump ship. The rain immediately started again and my husband and oldest son spent the rest of the afternoon trying to clean up and at least get it off of the neighbor's property. The sound of the chainsaw rang out through the rest of the afternoon as they worked through the rain, dumbfounded by what just happened. Within the next few days we brought an Arborist out who confirmed our fear - the tree would have to come down. It was rotting from the inside, which is why we could not see any damage. But, we loved this tree! And, it would cost how much?? All of the memories we had in front of and under the tree danced around in my head. We had buried our sweet cat, Daisy, under the tree. Our sheltie, Jack, who had passed away just last December loved barking up the tree at whatever squirrel or bird was occupying it at that moment.
After figuring out a way to come up with the cost of a family vacation to Disney we have been dreaming about, we instead paid a group of men to take down one of my very favorite things yesterday. My heart is heavy over a tree. (and also the small fortune it cost to have it taken down) Does anyone else understand me on this? But, the fact is that every storm we had in between when the limb fell and yesterday had my imagination going wild with what could happen if that giant beauty decided to fall over. Our house (and everyone in it) would have been flattened. The insurance companies said they would not pay for any damage since it was now a known issue. It had to go.
So, we are choosing joy and making the best of it instead. Our backyard is large but with very little places that are level. Now that the tree is down, we have a place to put a fire-pit and a trampoline. Two things our family has wanted for a very long time, but could not have. After the tree was gone, we stared up at the sky for the first time from that spot in our backyard. So much light comes in, and as you look around there are several trees with no branches on one side because this tree took up all the living space. My heart is heavy for the loss of the tree, but I am now excited for the possibilities and the memories that our family will make where it used to sit. Talks around the fire-pit and camp outs on the trampoline. The sky is the limit. (And we can see it now too!)
Here's to our new view. On life, and our backyard.
I have always been better at writing things down than verbalizing them. As embarrassing as it is to admit, I will even text my husband thoughts I am having so I can talk to him in person about them later. That is the only way I know to have them come out as I mean them to. Super healthy, right? Probably not. But, he loves me anyway. Quirks and all. (And there are plenty of them!)
A few weeks back I had a conversation with my 11 year old son, Jordan. For the sake of his pride and privacy, I will not say all of the details. But, he admitted to some wrongdoings. Out of that, we had one of the most heartfelt conversations we have had and I loved every minute of it. It was a growing moment for both of us. With our conversation front and center in my mind the next day, I began to write down a story. I have never aimed my writing toward a younger audience, but this one flowed out of me with ease. I completed it in less than one day. I. Had. Finished. A. Book. I'm not sure if this is just me, but I used to write with the intention of finishing a book and never got past 3 chapters before I'd come to a stop. Life got busy and my focus was on other things. This time, I was writing with the intention of helping someone while telling a story that was close to my heart. I was excited with the idea of getting this book out there, as the topic is one that I feel could help a lot of children under the disguise of having fun! I reached out to an author that I know and asked for advice on where to start. She did not have any for the children's book world, but did tell me of a conference that was going on next week in my area - WORDS, a Conference for Communicators. I was immediately intrigued, but my introvert heart was also thrilled about having a Saturday with no plans. I closed the website without looking into it. The next day, I felt compelled to at least give it a look. I clicked the link and up pop the faces of Jamie Ivey, Jackie Hill Perry, and Lisa Whittle! I geeked out for a bit since I have read their books, follow them on social media, and avidly listen to their podcasts! Scrolling down I also saw the familiar name of Dar Draper, who is a close family friend of one of my husband's family members. She has written Children's books that our kids have loved. I was now so excited, but hesitated looking at the price as we have really had to buckle down financially. But, wouldn't you know it - there was the flash sale! Today only! What?! I fan-girled a little harder as I checked if it was okay with my husband before purchasing. I got the go ahead (Love me some him) and allowed the excitement to roll over me now that it was reality! I did not know at all what to expect, it sounded like a fun day that was now only a week away!
A few days beforehand I started to go full introvert and wonder if I made the right choice. I probably shouldn't show up in my favorite pajama pants and keep to myself. BUT - I was going to go. I felt like the pages were turning on my life and all the doors were opening for this opportunity. This is supposed to be my year of YES. I woke up early and had a few cups of coffee while reading my bible. Doors opened at 8, so I made sure I was there at 7:45. (Eternally early ladies, you get me) I was the first to check in and wandered around looking at the tables of books until the coffee in the cafe was ready. I could smell the joy. Or maybe it was just the coffee. (Same thing) As I was walking over to buy a shirt, a couple walked in. I admired her gorgeous top right away, wondering where it was from. They got to the table before me and I stood in line. She was talking with her husband and I just had to tell her "Your shirt is so pretty! I watched you walk in!" Spewing out my thoughts before entirely thinking them through, as usual. My mom's prayer for me when I was younger was rightfully "Lord, keep your arm around her shoulder and your hand over her mouth." Bless. But, as if she needed that compliment she turned around and said "Thank you!" And her face broke into a beautiful smile - and in a blur that I cannot describe we started talking up a storm. If you know me at all, small talk makes me go cross-eyed. But, we spoke with the ease of an old friend. Within 5 minutes it was as if we had known each other for years. Her sweet husband joined in as well. They invited me to join them for coffee at their table and we continued to get to know each other. She is my people, guys! She is so wonderful and full of the joy of the Lord! AND - She has a blog, FOLLOW HER! BEHOLD HER LIFE Big things are coming for Melanie. Needless to say, we sat next to each other once we found our seats and I was thrilled to find out we had chosen most of the same Breakouts all day! I have a new lifelong friend from Texas, you guys!
Lisa Whittle spoke first and she is so stinkin precious. I was hanging on her every word, while also wondering where she got her super cute dress. Go listen to her podcast right now. It's called 5 minute prayers, and you definitely have 5 minutes! She kicks your butt with so much love, it's a beautiful thing.
"Words matter because THE Word matters." - Lisa Whittle
Writers, write that down. Scratch that, everyone right that down. Find a craft you can nail on Pinterest and hang that quote in your home. It's good stuff. Lisa was so charming and such a breath of fresh air. She is definitely gifted in her words having impact. I was scribbling on my notepad like crazy. So many insightful tips into writing, but all the while pointing straight back to the SOURCE.
Jamie Ivey was next and I was fangirling hard. (Please excuse the poor quality of the photos. Not sure if it was excitement, or the fact that I had to use Snapchat to take photos because my phone was too full. Give me grace.) I have listened to her podcast for awhile now and if you do not, STOP what you are doing and go subscribe. She has a new guest on each week and even the conversations with people I have nothing in common with leave me pointed to Jesus and filled with hope. It is called the Happy Hour because you feel like you are sitting down and talking with a couple of girlfriends. (Seriously - Go, now.) Jamie spoke on Ephesians 2 (Here are verses 2-5) "in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But, God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved." But, God. I once lived a life of sadness and struggle - But, God. Tell it, girl! If you haven't read her book If You Only Knew, go get that too. The audiobook is awesome because she reads it to you and it felt like her podcast. She quoted Anne Lamott from her book Bird by Bird “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Shine. Whatever season you are in, shine where God is telling you to. If you try to go shine on someone else's beach, you will miss saving the boats that will be coming to yours. Bloom where you are planted. Are you not inspired?! I feel like I could just go accomplish all the dreams.
Jackie Hill Perry spoke the TRUTH. I could not write notes fast enough to keep up. I wanted to have it ALL. She is also an amazing poet and rapper. Follow her on Instagram. You will be convicted daily. (Plus, she has the cutest little girl.) Jackie talked about how God could have made the world in any way he wanted. He could have blinked. He could have just willed it into existence. But he SPOKE, and it was. Words are powerful. To those that have the gift of words, use them wisely. "You are a tool to be used that will lead them to the one who will heal them." - Lisa Whittle "I am not the light, and neither are you." - Jackie Hill Perry If we are not careful with whatever platform we have, people will inevitably be let down by us because we are not God. I wish you all could have been there to hear her speak such amazing truths.
ar Draper for sure has a fan in me, both personally and professionally. Dar gave so much insight in her breakout session on where to go and how to go about getting published. If you are an aspiring author, I'd be happy to share that information! But, I won't bore the rest of you with it. She is so charming and full of God's love that it's infectious. We were lucky to have her double as the hostess with the mostess for the conference. "We don't need a lot of words. We need annointed words." - Dar Draper I had her book, The Potty Train, from years ago. I purchased her book What Is Love (which is her first book) and she autographed it for my daughter, Emmie. We have now read the book so many times that Emmie is starting to recite several of the pages with me. It is such a great children's book! Gift this to the children in your life. Emmie and I filled out the questions in the back of the book, and it will be a family keepsake for years.
I didn't get to speak to everyone since during the breakouts we had to choose where to go. During the panel of Dar Draper, Caleb Peavy, Timothy Willard, and Robert Whitlow I received a bunch of encouragement, laughs, and great advice. I'm definitely fans of all of theirs now! Caleb took the time to speak with me a little afterward encouraging me in my pursuit. I could not place him at the time, but I know if I would have I would've geeked out over even more over him. I am now listening to his podcast, Be Creative, as well! So far I've listened to him interview Ryan who is Sleeping At Last and had a small freak out. I love Sleeping At Last and was not sure why I had not heard he did songs about Enneagrams! I immediately looked up the songs and am hooked. If you have not taken the Enneagram test, go do it! And have your spouse do it! I'll talk more on that another time.
It was such a beautiful day that I will remember forever. I am so inspired, not only to write, but to let God's joy and hope shine in me in all times.