The Front Nine

An open letter to my daughter –

Nine years ago – you broke into the world – quite literally. Nine months before that – when I found out I was going to have a little person – my life changed forever, and this blog was literally born.

Over the last nine years, you have brought joy to everyone you meet. Your capacity for loving others is so big, and my prayer for you is that you never loose that. You live out John 13:34 so beautifully each day. “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” You stick up for others on the playground when other people act like bullies, and aren’t afraid to [temporarily] loose friends when you see someone treating someone else bad.

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You are my sunshine every morning I wake up, and when I get home from work. You are the epitome of goofy, and I know… I know I’ve really instilled in you that you can act as goofy and silly as you want to, because you have your side kick mama right by your side to drive up the silliness. I pray that during the next nine years, you don’t loose that. Don’t let people shoot down your drive to have little kid silliness at all stages of life. After all, look at Uncle Rick… he’s in his 40s and still acts like we do. You’re never too old to act like a nine year old.

Thank you for trying kale, and venison… and butternut squash, and kohlrabi. So many delights that were never my staple growing up. Though you don’t like all of it, you’re still willing to try. You go hunting with dad in the fall, and aren’t afraid to split a worm and hook it.

I realize the back nine will be different. You’re already as sassy as can be. True “mothers revenge” I’m sure coming back to kick my a$$ for the way I spoke to my mother. Please be gentle to me. This is my first time.

I pray that you surround yourself over the next nine years with amazing girlfriends that will stick by you. Adults you can come to, and stay close to Christ who will guide you in all of your paths.

I’ve had you by my side for nine years, and have just nine years left with you before you fly. May the world you grow up in reveal its beauty to you. There may be people and circumstances that will try to knock you down, but keep your head up. Stay true to your roots, and remember these next nine years do not define your life.

You will have boyfriends (dad is groaning), and be forced to choose between what is popular, and what is right. Sometimes you will choose what is popular, and I hope you often choose what is right.

Know that me and your dad are here for you always. We love you – and are so proud of you already.

I heard this song this year by Tim McGraw and it is my wish for you as you embark on these tween and teen years – always stay humble and kind.

Happy Birthday little one.

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Countdown to Valentines Day

Valentines Day is just around the corner, and if I’m completely honest, I absolutely love this holiday! My husband and I rarely if ever go out for any kind of fancy dinner nor do we exchange gifts on this date. Maybe its the hearts or the sea of pink red and white, but this holiday stirs up in me all that is good.

With 10 days to go, I’ve been looking at what we are actually celebrating – Love.
Paul speaks a whole bunch to this in 1 Corinthians 13. We’ve all heard it at weddings, and truth be told, maybe glossed over what it all really means.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Of course we could be talking about a romantic love, but if you read through the book of Corinthians the reader isn’t even addressing a romantic love, but an attitude in general we can all embrace.

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Gift my daughter is giving her teacher

Lately when coming across this passage I substitute my own name for the word [love]. So – between now and Valentines Day I would like to take pause, and strive to dive deeper and unpack these verses like a little fortune cookie and list a few practical ways I could live them out.

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Valentine’s my daughter is passing out at class

1. Love is patient and kind. – Thursday February 4
Today I seek to not let the small stuff bother me, and speak with soft words. Now that my daughter eats breakfast at school our mornings are generally less hectic, but I still get impatient with her trying to get on her tights, or if the dogs are going bonkers crazy in the morning because they’ve been cooped up in the crate all night. I seek today – to have a better understanding of all needs, and speak with a more kind spirit.

2. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. – Friday February 5
Man do I love to share (verbally) and when someone shares something about themselves I usually am thinking of something similar that happened to me. And instinctively I usually share my similar circumstance… What I am doing is taking away the speakers glory and being boastful and proud of my own. Conversation is great, but interjecting more often then not is not always required. God gave me one mouth and two ears. On this day I seek to listen more, and speak less.

3. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking – Saturday February 6
I really like getting my own way. Pride overtakes me and convinces me that my way is better, or sometimes do things for my own benefit. On this day, I will look at ways to reach out to others with no agenda of my own.

4. It is not easily angered- Sunday February 7
Today is Super Bowl Sunday! I could let all kinds of things irritate me today. The fact that I plan to cook Venison Bourguignon, which takes all day to make, or the game itself may cause me irritation, or the piles of laundry, or anything. On this day – I will seek to find gratitude in everything I do.

5. It keeps no record of wrongs. – Monday February 8
Without being prideful, I would say I am generally pretty good about not keeping records. I do however let my daughters past mistakes or behaviors shape my attitude how she will be the next time.

6. It does not delight in wrongdoings, but rejoices with the truth.  – Tuesday February 9
As a Christian, I should never rejoice when an injustice has been done, or brush it aside, but conversely I should rejoice when virtues ring out, and when truth is spoken. I would like to look for the true truth in things, and not just go with what is always popular.

7. Love always protects – Wednesday February 10
Sometimes I just give up. After so many attempts its easy to become discouraged. Maybe I slip back into old habits, or my prayer life isn’t as dynamic as it once was. Maybe for you – you’ve been praying and praying for something every day and you have yet to see its completion. But God promises that, “He who began a good work in you WILL see it to completion”. So on this day – even when I feel like the odds are stacked against me – I won’t give up.

8. Never loses faith – Thursday February 11
Even after my father died so suddenly – I did not lose faith. That’s because my house of faith in God is build on a rock,a solid foundation, and not built in haste in the sand. Similarly, build relationships on solid rocks so that they too can stand the tests of time.

9. Love is always hopeful- Friday February 12
Sometimes in the world around me its easy to lose hope. Just take one look at the presidential campaign on either side, ISIS, growing tensions with Russia, and other countries, or just even in my every day walk. – Paul tells us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” – Philippians 4:6.

10. Endures through every circumstance. – Saturday February 13
If the time has not come for you when the proverbial crap has hit the proverbial fan… it will. And when that time comes, trust that God will be there right with you to the very end of it. He will not leave you or forsake you. If Paul didn’t write this down in his letter to the Romans, I may have come to the same conclusion myself, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

 

Lessons from a Girl Scout Cookie Mom

Several months ago I started reading a fantastic book by Lysa Terkurst called The Best Yes. The only problem is that although it is amazingly good – I got onto reading several other books instead. The problem is that I really should have kept reading this book – The Best Yes! In this book – The Best Yes, Lysa urges us in the days of multi-tasking, and plate filling (the busy kind not the food kind) that sometimes we need to set boundaries, so that we can say Yes to the things that really matter. The things that are most important to us, because surely we cannot say yes to everything right?

I am a boundary breaker [to myself]. I never know when to say no. If you guilt me into something – there is a 99% chance that I will say yes. Its just my personality. Maybe blame it on serving in the Navy with the Seabees… but if I see a need, and nobody else will step up to the plate – you can bet your house that I will grab a bat and start swinging for the team.

So this brings me to my post topic.

Several months ago – my daughter joined Girl Scouts. Our troop needed what is called, “a Cookie Mom”. A mom that is basically superhumanly organized, can order cookies for her troop, and keep a running inventory of everyones cookies and track progress etc while staying in excellent contact with the moms in your troop. So when our troop leader reached out to our troop to see who would be willing to be Cookie mom – we all heard crickets. I was busy – and just coming off a mental and emotional roller coaster – and I thought – I need a break. I cannot say yes… but then when they reached out again and we continued to hear crickets, I went online – read the Cookie Manager handbook and picked up the bat, and stepped up to the plate to swing for the team.

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I should have known better the instant I said yes. It’s not like they post the ACTUAL job description on the website – or anywhere public – because who would actually say yes to the real job description?

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I gathered the other moms around to place the initial order for our girls – and ever since I picked up our first batch of cookies I’ve felt like a bona-fide drug dealer. I mean- the whole operation is actually so organized – that it probably rivals an actual Columbian Cocaine operation.

I pulled up in my vehicle – all hush hush. I pulled up and asked if I was “Lindsey” and I said yes, and before I knew it they were schlepping cases and cases of cookies into my car. I couldn’t believe they had the right Lindsey, because they barely got any other information out of me – but in the end I had the right amount of cookies in my car. (read – $2500 dollars worth of fricken cookies) When I “checked out” with the lady at the end she gave me a sly smile – I couldn’t tell if she was silently saying “good luck” – or “haha sucker”!

I am very organized, which has been a blessing, because the the system that our beloved Girl Scouts uses – eBudde is not the most user friendly thing on the planet (IMHO). If only I could count the hours that I have spent to un cluster the F*** that is eBudde I might be up for a volunteer hours award or something. Too bad I wasn’t getting paid – because I’d be a millionaire by now.

I don’t know how it happens, lets blame it on lack of sleep but inevitably numbers are skewed, and do not match up to inventory, and I am so paranoid that I am going to mess something up and we will owe hundreds, or  thousands of dollars from our troop  that I have to spend hours and hours and hours allocating cookies, or reevaluating cookie counts, and making sure I hit SAVE (which is not where you think it would be) – which I think is the real problem. Lets not even mention the fact that the business practices we use are horribly outdated and inefficient. I have always considered myself to be a supremely organized person, but you absolutely have to bring your “A” game – no B Squad organization skills in this game!

Then there is the constant cookie eating! I mean – seriously – I got a stand up desk at work to combat the cookie season. Forget the “Holiday Fifteen” – I’m terrified I’m going to gain 20lbs because I eat sleeves of Thin Mints in 5 minutes! – I somehow justify it however by telling myself I’m earning my daughter a cheap prize that was made in China, and helping her to go to summer camp! “Kid – we’re walking 15 miles at summer camp!” ” Why mom” “Because your camp cost me 15 miles of hiking – that’s why!”

Emails! Emails, phone calls, sketchy text messages, money, money, money  and constant communication. Nobody tells you that you will become a drug dealer that annoying telemarketer/ wall street banker trying to stay in constant contact with other moms to ensure that they have enough cookies- and find out how many cookies they’re sitting on, and how much money they’ve brought in! “Are you moving your cookies, because if you’re not, so-and-so can move them for you! – How much money do you currently have? Can you bring it over tonight at 8pm?” and then I get frantic texts and e-mails from troop moms… “Help! My husband’s co-workers are Samoas addicts – we need three cases immediately!”  Drug dealers I tell you. Drug dealers!  I feel like I’m moving product and the drug is pure delicious sugar!

We still have a solid three weeks of cookie selling left and I don’t know how I’m going to make it! I look forward to freedom like a teacher feels at the end of the school year, or a prisoner of war looking to go home.  For the love of Christ – if you have any kitchen cupboard room  – buy some more girl scout cookies! If a girl scout stops by your house  – and you’ve already purchased from Cub Foods or Walmart  – help a cookie mom out and buy another box! They freeze well! And if you absolutely cannot eat anymore – then offer to contribute cash – so that they can donate to the Cookies for the Community! Our troop is donating cookie boxes to the Coon Rapids Middle School Food Shelf where 50% of kids draw from it each week!!!

So… lessons learned and tips to share.

1.) If you have a young daughter and someone asks you to be a cookie mom… run…. far-far away!
2.) Cookie season is done in three weeks! Come May you’re going to regret that you didn’t buy from that cute girl scout who stopped by your door in March to purchase a case of thin mints to last you all summer!
3.) I have literally had a scenario where I have needed to jump in the shower – but didn’t know when certain moms were going to swing by… I was terrified they were going to ring the door bell and I would be half naked while trying to manage cookie sales and personal hygiene.
3.) Have fun! Though I’m kvetching about how hard this is – it is rewarding. I get to spend some precious hours with my daughter and help her with some social skills that she needs to develop!
4.) If you did happen to be suckered in to being a cookie mom – enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day! – enjoy a glass of wine at the end of each and every day!

Countdown to the BWCA ~ Part 3

I’m half way through this series and with every post the anticipation is pregnant with excitement that I can hardly contain. Wednesday January 28th was permit issuing opener beginning at 9:00 a.m. My co-worker [who is also scheduling a trip this year] and I logged into bwcaw.org respectively on our computers at 8:45 a.m. and waited like children on Christmas morn waiting for their sleepy parents to arise from their slumber so that we could open our presents!

As soon as 9:00 a.m. rolled around I clicked submit and just like magic we have a permit reserved!

Suddenly the trip became all too real – we are no longer collecting ridiculously fancy camping equipment from REI, but are going on a real life wilderness adventure.  We began going over the list this past week on what we still need, and tasks we need to complete.

After some research on an outfitter for a canoe of course (because who wants to hump an 80lb canoe in? ) and perhaps lodging for the night – we found both through Canadian Waters Inc. Dan Waters and his wife Cathy have been in business since 1964 – and have been going on trips to the BWCAW since the 40s. Clearly they are qualified to take care of a little family 3 pack (plus a Jack Russell).

Canadian Waters not only rents/sells canoes, but also has a bunkhouse and will allow our JRT to bunk with us since we plan to take her on our adventure. After talking it over with my husband – we are planning to flat out purchase one of their 2013 models providing there aren’t too many patches on it, and that the gunwales are still in great condition.

After crunching the numbers – and because we plan to take possibly a summer trip and almost assuredly a fall trip – it would be foolish to us to rent, because in just this year the canoe would be basically paid for through rentals.

We’ve settled on the Boundary Waters We-Noh-nah canoe for its stability factor (since we are avid fisherman (and woman). Further our 1984 beast mode fiberglass canoe weighing in at 80lbs borrowed to us by our good friends has the exact same dimensions as the Boundary Waters model – and we’ve been in that several times with 3 adults and had an amazing time.

We’ve purchased some more food, and I plan to actually pack them in the bag to make sure that I don’t need to upgrade to the Granite Gear Quetico – over my current pack. (Mine is purple) (The difference of 20L).

Other than that – we’ve relented to the fact that we would be better off with individual sleeping bags (as opposed to humping our queen sleeping bag) and purchasing Thermarests with foam to keep us warm (and cozy) as well. Going over our list I realize we still need to purchase a few things over the next few months.

Here’s what we still need to purchase:
-2 Sleeping Bags (Miss K has one – so as long as its R rating is good – we only need 2)
-3 Thermarests
Thermarest pillows for whoever wants one. (I do – I do)
-1 Boundary Waters Canoe from Canadian Waters, Inc
– 2 Paddles (I prefer the bent shaft)
Lifeproof Case for my iPhone so I don’t have to carry in my “good camera” since i’m shooting a wedding 2 weeks after our trip and hello the iPhone 6 takes awesome photos
Dog Lifejacket for Sadie our JRT – yes she can swim – but water temps will probably be in the 50s.
Dog bowl travel system
More Paracord (can you even have “too much”?
– SAT phone which we will rent from Canadian Waters. (For emergencies)
– New Fishing Poles (because who doesn’t want and excuse to buy new fishing gear?)

Now checking just today at the available permits – I’m so glad that I was on the ball as there are only 3 permits left for the time that we were planning to go (There were originally 8).

So – lots to do this next month. We need to reserve our bunkhouse, purchase the canoe (or at least put a deposit down on it) and finish packing to determine if I need to upgrade my pack since I am carrying the majority of our gear since Jason will be carrying the canoe – and we don’t expect our 7 year old to carry too much beyond her sleeping bag and thermarest.

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Nights are filled with gear lists, timelines, unrelenting research on the area we are going to, the general Ely area, and reading trip reports of others who’ve gone on the same route, and watching video podcasts and you tube videos for inspiration. To say I am obsessed may or may not be an understatement! I have no idea how I am supposed to wait another three months, but I’m up to a challenge, and would like to apologize to everyone around me for my boundless excitement lest I annoy you that is not my intention.

Cheers!

Happy Birthday Niko!

Happy 1st Birthday Niko!

You are beautiful – and loving, and deep down you still are fierce. Though you can no longer see my face, and your body fails you time and time again I see you. I see your beautiful face, and the love in your eyes – though vacant – oh they are so full of love.

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I could look back on these past six months as a time of struggle – but I really don’t. I do however take it as a time of learning, and a journey on a continuum that i had started several months – years before.

But really what is a struggle? After all – I am not where Job was – he literally lost everything. Bless the Lord above I am not Job.

We’ve always had a “tough” dog. Dad travels a lot, and we feel rest assured to have a protection dog to alert us when danger is near. After Tyler our beloved Rottweiler died we had adopted your brother Eli. You two shared the same mom, but had a different dad. We spent a glorious 3 months with him, but at his age of 5 months – he passed tragically away.

He had the same love of eating EVERYTHING that you do Niko –  except he wasn’t able to pass things as easily as you.

After your brother died we were absolutely devastated and broken. We had lost two of our dogs within three months, and had a little 15 pound Jack Russell protecting our house! She may be little, but she does a great job.

We went out to the farm where your mom and dad live to spend some time with other Corso’s just like you! Your breed has near magical powers that make people feel so loved in an indescribable way. When we were there we learned that your mama was going into heat and would have another litter soon.

Between November and December we anxiously awaited your arrival and were so excited to learn at the winter cabin that you were born! I’m sure outsiders thought we were adopting a human baby because of our excitement level. Our hearts leapt, and came out to see you and your litter-mates as soon as we were able.  We chose you! You were so calm and sweet and a tough little man.

We had a countdown calendar to the day we could take you home, and officially call you ours.

The night we took you home we cradled you in our arms, and sometimes even now I can still see that expression on your face when you lay across my lap desperately trying to be that 15 pound puppy we once knew.

Oh how we had high hopes for you!

We immediately put you in obedience training – both puppy kindergarten and obedience. You had a strong willingness to learn, and caught on very easily.

Unfortunately – mid December when you were just 11 months old we learned that you went mysteriously blind, and suffer from Ataxia. You have trouble walking at times, and fall down a lot. We built a ramp for you out our back door, and see how much you try to map out our backyard. You are incredibly determined, and I think you will overcome this obstacle.

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We chose your breed to take care of us, but it seems that we are taking care of you. We’ve learned so much from you in just one year Niko. We’ve learned patience like no other and complete trust. You have to trust fully in us to see for you and those times when your legs give out you trust us to bring you to a safe spot.

We will protect you and love you Niko- like you would have protected us. We hope dearly to celebrate many more birthday’s with you, but are truly blessed for each moment we have with you now!!

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~ Love Mom & Dad 

The Night Before Christmas

Merry Christmas readers! I am so unbelievably excited to unveil FULLY my new blog tonight with a squeaky clean custom design! This is another reason why I combined Not Quite Hinterland, and Where Feet May Fail together. Thank you to my mom who got this for me for Christmas! I hope you love it as much as I do. Across the top you will see categories. If you come to my blog to read about Faith stories – click on Faith and you will see everything I have posted about Faith etc- Feel free to grab a glass of Egg Nog or some wine and look around!  But enough digressing. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Merry season of all when God so loved this world. This world. That He GAVE his only Son. Himself in human form. For us. Oh what a gift. Among all of the presents we’re given, this gift – that God gives – is the greatest gift.

This song has always been one of my favorites, but listening to it this year held an extra special meaning for me. I am so thankful that God came to this world – so that we could be reconciled with him. What gives me greatest comfort with my dad is knowing that I will see him again. On this night He literally changed history forever. We changed how we count time and years from this moment.

We are still so lost though as a people. If anything just turn on CNN, open your twitter feed or log on to Facebook. “Into darkness, sadness, desperate madness, creation so torn, We were, so lost on earth, no peace, no worth, no way to escape. In fear, no faith, no hope, no grace, and no light, But that was the night before Christmas.

My daughter is acting in a major play this upcoming weekend, and of course we have several family members and friends who want to come and see her. I purchased 19 tickets to the tune of over $220 and they were being safely kept in our daughters dance bag.

When my mom asked this evening for the tickets, I ran out to the car to retrieve the tickets and to my horror the envelope was gone. I searched through the car in haste, under the seats, and in the back seat pockets, glove compartments, center council and completely emptied my purse. No luck.

I must have left the tickets at home.

I went on enjoying the evening under the full assumption that the tickets were safe at home on our front counter which would be the most logical place, so when we got home, and my husband asked if I had found the tickets I immediately went to look on the front counter. Looking under presents, and books and purses I couldn’t find them. I immediately went to the kitchen and searched the kitchen counter and table.

No.

* Re-Emptied my purse. No
* Emptied another purse. NO
* Began to panic. Yes
* Searched bookshelf. No
* Searched Car. No

Then I had a horrifying thought. We had just gone to the MN Wild Hockey game and I had cleaned out my car. What if I had thrown the tickets away? I was in luck the trash man hadn’t come yet. So I went to the trash bin, tipped it over on its side, climbed half in, and disgustingly and painstakingly went through each piece by piece. I kept thinking to myself, what if I don’t find the tickets. I will have to answer to everyone who is so excited to see her and tell them they can’t go. Then I thought about the money – and how I’d owe everyone back their ticket fee. Devastatingly I didn’t find the tickets.

I got back in the house, washed my hands, and e-mailed the dance and theater director to see if there was any way to re-issue the tickets. I went back and looked in my purses, the counter tops, the bookshelf the cupboards, the car (three times) and her room and ours. All turned up no.

I told Jason, “Honey – if you have them please tell me. I won’t even be mad if you were trying to teach me a lesson, but he didn’t have them.

Then I had a thought that maybe they were in my desk at work. I’m not really sure why they would be there, but I asked Jason how crazy it would be to drive 20 miles to work at 9pm on Christmas Eve. I felt like I was going to throw up so I poured myself a glass of Chardonnay and began to type the blog post for tonight.

While typing my husband began looking in the drawers I had already and then was going to look in the cupboard above the computer that I had also already looked in. I told him – yeah – look in there, pull out the desk organizer and search through. I already looked, but its not going to hurt to look again. Right behind the three hole punch like a Christmas miracle there they were.

I squealed with delight, exhaled, and nearly threw up again out of relief.

Now I tell you this story – not to show you how irresponsible I am, and the slight chance I’m getting early Alzheimers, but to give a parallel to Luke chapter 15.

How much more does God love us? How much more would he search for us? Certainly we are worth more than play tickets!
Luke 15 tells the story in verses 4-10
“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

“Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.”

I threw my arms around Jason and was overcome with Joy when those tickets were found.
Without the light of Christ, there is fear, and no hope, and no grace. We are lost. God had a plan though to come down on a rescue mission to find all those who were lost and hurting and in despair.

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. ~ John 3:16-17.

What are you looking for this season? I know that when I look into myself I feel so lost and have no peace, no worth, no way to escape. I am consumed with the thoughts of, “Why did MY dad have to die so young, so tragically… Why did MY young dog have to go blind? Its so easy to get caught up into Me Me ME that I start treating God like he is some magical genie that only exists to make my life happy… but when I look to the cross… I realize that “Salvation wrote the song – the night before Christmas”.

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I can put my entire trust in the Lord. Over the past year it has been made so crystal clear that God is sovereign, and that God is in control. I am completely comfortable not knowing all of the answers, and quite honestly, I’m not sure if I would even understand on this side of heaven.

What is lost to you? Dare you look to the star shining above tonight? Dare you follow it like the Sheppard’s did? The star that light up the night… The Night Before Christmas.

Happy Birthday

Happy birthday Dad!

For as long as I can remember you were the first person I would call on our birthday. We would both wish each other a happy birthday and often sang the traditional birthday tune in an off key rendition that only we [and our family] could appreciate. So happy 66th birthday! The age that you could officially retire (even though you had been for years now) you went off to the ultimate retirement home! Please give Jesus a hug for me.

I think about you often Dad. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about you, but those moments in the day when I don’t something still feels amiss or off. Its like something is missing, and I have the physical feeling that I did something terribly wrong. You know when you feel guilty and your insides feel tight, and there is that quiet pressure near your sternum waiting to bubble up. Though I didn’t do anything wrong, something did go terribly wrong. That’s what grief physically feels like. You would know having lost your mother when you were 11 and your dad in your 40s.

I am so blessed to have so many amazing memories to hold on to. Like little birthday presents I unwrap these memories and remember. Sometimes its remembering a look you gave me, they way you danced, an experience that we shared, or a quiet embrace. You were such a gentle soul.

Mom, Missy, and I (and later some others) are off to tour the local Vineyards today!  The idea of having dinner at home and only singing happy birthday once was too raw – but because of my love of wine, and yours too – we will be going ’round to the wineries and raising a glass today and lighting your candle along the way. (Check out the photos on Instagram by searching #vineyardbday, and #partingGlass)

Our family holds deep Irish traditions, so I raise a glass high to you dad! You were the best. Your entire life from what I could see was built on making others feel loved and welcome. Truly you were a man after Gods heart, and an imitator of Christ. I miss you every single day dad. Oh how I wish you were not handed the parting glass! I wish I could take it back and have another year with you, another moment, another breath. But come fell to you – the parting glass. You’re never forgotten, and always treasured so deep in my heart.
I raise my glass to you with this song. An old Irish hymn that cries out from the grave.

Happy Birthday Dad. Today I spread my wings and fly out of the nest – all on my own. Thirty-Four years and I am soaring Dad. I can’t wait to see you again. May it be just a breath between now and then when we sing in merriment again!

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Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Everything remains as it was.
The old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no sorrow in your tone.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effort
Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting, when we meet again.