faith

MOMMY MEMORIES

LASDI©

LASDI©

They’re everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE. In a container under my bed. In a shoe box on a shelf in the closet. Hanging in various places all over the house. On the fridge. In the attic. In my jewelry box. In guestroom closets. In blanket boxes and hope chests all around the house. On my night stand. IN my night stand. In a basket NEXT to my night stand. And for the sake of this blog post and your sanity, I won’t name the many other places they are.

I know this makes me sound like a hoarder, no matter what it is I am talking about. But these particular things I have found are my pleasure to hoard – all the things The Kiddos have made for me, written for me, drawn for me, or given to me that have managed or stay intact.

Each one has efficacy in its own way; value and worth beyond all measure. They stem from the crayon kindergarten scribble to letters in their own adult penmanship. I have a wire cross that looks like lace that was purchased for me at Summer Church Camp. I have a red teddy bear with a heart on one foot and on the other foot is embroidered the year 2003, even though it was given to me in 2004. I have a heart-shaped ceramic box that was painted for me that I’ve dropped, broken, and super-glued back together four times. I have about a thousand construction paper cards and poems. Could be more.

I even have things I’ve saved from their childhood that weren’t given to me, but at some point belonged to them, like one baby shoe. Or their teeth. All their baby teeth. ALL OF THEM. They’re in a tooth-shaped box in the bottom drawer of my jewelry box. Don’t judge me.

I can’t say I was the best mom that ever was. I mean, at the end of each day – even in their adulthood – I ask myself before I pray for them if I’ve done the very best I could, even if I fell short. The answer has always emphatically been yes. Some days were a home run, and some days I should have stayed in the dugout. But I was always a team mom.

Somehow, I knew that part of my living legacy – and the one I leave behind – would have a more profound effect on both them and me by having these things to look upon. It could be the future: “I’m going to have these twenty years from now to look at and show them and we can smile and laugh about it together.” It could be the present: “Let’s take a selfie and post it to my social media scrapbook.” Or it could be the past: “I can’t believe you drew this for me when you were five!”

Oh I know they probably won’t keep all this stuff after I’m gone. But when they’re going through this landfill time capsule, they WILL smile. They WILL know how much they meant to me. They WILL know I was crazy kookamunga, but all in the name of love.

When they were small, I didn’t understand pursuing them. I just knew I loved them, and that their health and well-being depended on me. I knew I wanted them to be grounded, well-rounded, kind, successful humans. But looking back, I think keeping these things was a subconscious pursuit. As they are adulting so hard now, I know being a mom doesn’t ever stop, but it changes as they do. I mega-pursue them now and try to insert myself into their lives in such a way that isn’t obnoxious (I said I TRY) and that lets them know how much they mean to me, too.

I love waking up every morning and seeing the folded note on my night stand marked “mom” that The DAUGHTS gave me the day The GRAND Daughts was born. I love opening my jewelry box and seeing the tiny pink plastic ring Schmooly-Wooly found in the grass one day that he decided he would hand over to me to have as though he were little, even though he was grown and already a part of this family. I love walking by the lopsided hand-sewn pillow in my room that The Sonster made when he was small and away at camp. I love the delicate string tied around my master-bathroom closet door that The Daughts-In-Law tied a Christmas gift up with. I love the patch from The Kid’s Army uniform he gave to me one day at lunch. I love all of it – and I love all of THEM. And they are amazing humans that love me right back.

Yes, I know we can’t take “things” with us when we die. I know that items of value won’t go to the grave with us. But the things I’m talking about are daily PRICELESS reminders of how hard I work to find joy in the hard times life can bring us; pictures of the blessings that are directly in front of us; reminders of how hard I’ve worked to be the best mom I can be, even when I fall short.

I don’t get mad if I don’t get expensive gifts on Mother’s Day. I don’t get upset if every single thing doesn’t go just perfectly. I don’t even get sad if I have work I have to get done that day. I try to turn that day into a reminder to look for even better ways to show my gratefulness and adoration for the blessings that are The Kiddos; ways to ensure we stand united; ways to leave a legacy of faith, hope, and LOVE.

And I also look for more places to hoard all the Mommy Memories that will be coming my way……

SEASONS CHANGE

LASDI©

LASDI©

For the sake of this blog post, I did a quick (un-sanctioned, non-governmental) poll.  The poll consisted of fifty people.  Some I knew, some I did not.  Some lived in my region and some lived in other parts of the country.

I simply asked them what their favorite time of year (or season) was.  Out of fifty people, they all had the same answer: Autumn!  So, fifty-out-of-fifty people all prefer this time of year! That’s some reputation for a season!

I am among those people.  This is the time of year for The Fam when we have our Annual Fall Family Day (NOT Family Fall Day, which means something different entirely!), my birthday, and two of The Kiddo’s birthdays are celebrated, and of course, the holy grail of holidays for my family comes into the Autumnal category: THANKSGIVING!

Some people like it because the leaves turn jewel-tone colors; others simply love the cooler weather.  The pumpkin spice smells, and the chili cooking in everyone’s biggest pot in the kitchen doesn’t hurt, either!  Is it the overcast, melancholy days that make us want to curl up in the quiet with a good book?  There is something special about the energy in the air, regardless of the reason so many people choose it as their favorite.

So why did I want to know in the first place, you ask?  Well, it seems that the energy in people changes a bit as well.  Though it starts to be a very busy season for all, people somehow seem more nostalgic and even a bit more subdued to me.  I notice more grace; more ‘warm fuzzies’.  What is it about a season that can make this change in us?

When I think about that question, I think about seasons in our life.  Not the kind that comes with a solstice, but rather the seasons that come with growth.  I think I can explain it better by sharing an excerpt out of my eBook, ‘Extra Ingredients to A Life of Flavor’:

 **********

The seasons of people that have affected me negatively have engrained in me to be positive.

The seasons of people that have affected me positively have instilled a sense of community and love within me.

We have all had the relationship or relationships that have placed fear or mistrust in us at least once. We have seen seasons of loss and of life. Such is this broken-but-beautiful world.

But the main point from all of it that I have learned and desire to pass on is that every single one of them are valuable and crucial to who we allow ourselves to become.

There are many different circumstances that cause season changes – some of them good and tasty; some of them not-so-good that leave a sour taste in our mouth. Either way, seasons come and go, and they consistently change us.

I have had so many seasonings sprinkled throughout my time here that have shaped me and helped create both my living legacy and the one I leave behind. I can tell you that not all of those seasonings have been ones that I care to recall, though it’s important to my heart and as part of my faith that I do, so that they don’t steal my joy.

Is there a friendship you used to count on daily that has fizzled out and you’re not sure why?

Or perhaps there is a family member you confided in that shared your vulnerability with someone else. Maybe it’s just as simple as someone you love and admire moving to a different place.

And then there’s the accountability factor: what if you are the person that doesn’t feel the same toward a friend, or who abandoned a trust somehow – whether knowingly or not – or had to move away from a loved-one? These seasonings of life happen to all of us – no one is immune.

What do we do with that? We cannot allow these times to make us bitter, but rather to make us better. Making our tiny life mighty depends on that.

Whenever I refer to certain people or times or memories from my own past, I almost always call those seasons ‘seasonings’ because they craft the life of flavor we choose to live. Whether it’s salty or sweet, they’re important to the recipe that creates you.

 **********

So, whether you’re one of the fifty-out-of-fifty people that loves Autumn as your favorite season, or you happen to be a beach lover in the hottest months of the year, know that what you do with the seasons of life that come your way is the most important way to grow.  Make your tiny life mighty – with every single season.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill {defend}, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; ...” ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-22

“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” ~Genesis 8:22

“At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cézanne

BEAUTIFUL GUTS

BeautifulGuts

As All Hallow’s Eve draws nigh, it seems that ghouls, goblins, and grossy guts are everywhere.  I get it.  I get that we have this one day for us to gather in unity to celebrate and glamorize our fears and dark sides.  But for the last few years, I think of Halloween much differently.

To start, I think of a young, gangly girl walking into my home for a midnight premier party I threw for The Hunger Games.  I think of her skinny legs on the highest heels I’ve ever seen – and they were paired up with a mini-skirt and croppy toppy.  Our eldest son had invited her as his date, so she was on the arm of someone I love very dearly, and it put me on the defense instantaneously.  Now I’m a fairly reasonable woman, but when said defense kicks in, I tend to go all “Sheila From The Block” - and that can be quite scary to a youngster like the one I’m describing.  It takes real guts to get through a night like that.

I think of a little sprite who came to a Thanksgiving evening without warning, and started asking for a “sliver” of this and a “sliver” of that, and licking her chops at all the food fare without care.  She was a tiny little thing, and I couldn’t believe the amount of food she ingested.  It reminded me a bit of Gollum referring to his “precious” when anyone came within the vicinity of her eating arena.  It was alarming and charming all at the same time, as she filled her guts with the glorious food feast.

Thoughts take me back to a more mature young lady, filled with quiet countenance as my family embarked upon our Annual Family Festivus at Christmas.  Family picture time came about, and she willingly became the photographer instead of assuming she was to be in the photo itself.  She was content to have been asked to be part of Family Night at all, it seemed, and wrapped arms with me and slid her hand into mine as we crossed the street for dinner.  She then quietly and authentically whispered, “Thank you for having me” in my ear.  And my guts did a butterfly flip.

I think of a quirky young woman, daring enough to be different and wear knee-high socks with the character Jack Skellington from the movie ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’  on them all year long (to go with her Jack Skellington earrings and hair bow, of course), no matter what holiday it is.  Now that takes guts!

I think of someone with so much talent it baffles people.  I see in my mind’s eye all the colorful and creative ways she paints, draws, and pieces things together to make the most incredible art.  I think of the upright work ethic in her gift of artistry, and really anything she does for that matter, and I know how very rare a quality that is.  I see her work her guts out.

I think of a strong female, coming into a family of strong females, somehow knowing just how to graciously fall right in line with them without having to gnarl her teeth in order to prove something.  Gutsy move.

When I think of Halloween, I even think of a hot, breezy day in August near the beach.  I know that one does not necessarily coincide with the other for most people, but for me the two are harmonious.    That was the day a beautiful and blushing bride who looked like an angelic woodland fairy got married.  To my son.  And with all her guts pledged her undying and forever love to him.

Why do I think of Halloween when I think of all of these things?  Because my whimsical and wonderful Daughts-In-Law, Kiren, was born on that day, and we celebrate the holiday much differently from most people.  We don’t celebrate our fears or dark sides.  But we do celebrate in unity.  We celebrate how beautiful she is.  We celebrate how unique and exceptional she is.  We celebrate her ferocious-yet-gentle love for her husband.  We celebrate her fierce loyalty to a family she fits so perfectly into.  We celebrate her beautiful guts.

HOT-BLOODED

LASDI2016 ©

LASDI2016©

Boiling.  Face.On.FIRE.  Five-second-long daydreams of punching someone square in the face.  Screaming like a wild banshee within my mind with no sound coming out of my mouth.  Chest pains.  Real chest pains.

These - and more - are all emotions I have felt within the last few days.  Some would say I have anger issues after reading that.  I would say I am human.  Granted, being of Italian descent means people assume a few things about me:  that I talk with my hands, I am a good cook, and I am hot-blooded.  I am not one to subscribe to stereo-types, but all of those things happen to be true, by the way!

But I am not hot-blooded in the way you know it to be - at least not anymore.  I am hot-blooded in a way that makes me take those moments that make my blood boil, reflect on them, and use them to set fire to my very soul whenever I can.

Let me explain.  

One of the incidents this week was just from standing in the grocery store check out line, which, by the way, is where I seem to spend most of my life.  I was behind someone that needed a price check, of course, and who also decided they didn't want a particular product but sent the bagger to snag the same product with a different brand name - all while we all waited behind her.  After me in line there were about four more people.  The cashier was a young girl, and though smiling through the entire thing, at first seemed a bit incompetent from my perspective.  "Bless her heart", I thought, in my condescending and sympathetic way.  After several minutes had passed and one or two people behind me had been cattled to a different register (not me, of course, because I was in the worst position in the game of grocery check out chess), I noticed some grumbling behind me.  I heard a person speak (rather loudly) to themselves,  but in the cashier's direction, "Maybe they should get someone in here that knows what they're doing."  There it was.  I started to feel that little sizzle around the edge of the pot; not toward the cashier, but rather toward the person I heard behind me in line.  As I was nonchalantly minding my own business, and showing off how people in this world SHOULD behave (insert self-deprecating sarcasm here), I overheard the cashier thank the (annoying) patron in front of me for her patience, and that she had just received the news that her mother was in the emergency room with a fever and she was waiting to hear if she would be all right.

"How RUDE of the person behind me", I found myself thinking.  "If only they would put themselves in HER position and ask themselves what could possibly be going on in someone's life in certain situations, like I'm doing now, all the world's problems could be solved!!"

Immediately after that thought, I heard the same voice behind me say, "Good LORD.  Can we get moving here?!?"  Could she not see and hear for herself that this poor cashier was doing the best she COULD??  The sizzle came to a slow-rolling boil.  But I hung in, still not looking behind me and still thinking this person should watch me at work and behave in a similar manner.  How uncivilized.

One final insult flung was the last straw.  "Helllooooooo.  You should go back to training and learn to check people out faster."  That was all she wrote.  My blood was BOILING.  I snapped my head around and without a thought, but with a certain je ne sais quoi and in a most-pretentious manner, I offered: "WHY DON'T YOU GO ON AHEAD OF ME SINCE YOU SEEM TO BE IN SUCH A HURRY!!  THERE IS NO NEED TO BE RUDE!!"  All in the name of defending this poor, poor cashier with a sick mother, of course.  

And then I looked at the person throwing the insults.  And I saw it: the tear-stained face; the red, swollen eyes; the puffy, shiny nose.  And I shrank.  What had HER day been like so far?  She moved right past me and went ahead as I had suggested, and I found myself watching and staring at her.  She put her items on the belt, and I noticed the ratty, used tissue she wouldn't let go of still in her hand as she did.  She took out her wallet and as she counted out all the coins, penny-by-penny, almost to the last of what she owed, she began to cry.  She apologized to the cashier firmly, and said a quick thank you to me for letting her go ahead.  She was exasperated and in a changed manner said, "I am SO SORRY.  It has been a day of great loss for me.  It has actually been a YEAR of great loss for me.  And I'm sorry to say I have to go out to the car to get the rest of the money.  Would you mind suspending the order and I'll be right back?  I am really very sorry."  

I'm an idiot.  I was SO READY to pounce on this person in the name of considering what others are going through, only to become a hypocrite while doing so.  As she walked out, I saw her head to her car in the parking lot where there was an elderly lady sitting in the heat with the window down on the passenger side.  I saw her say something as she walked up, and the woman in the car offered up her purse through the window.  Though I still had no idea what the loss was she had spoken of, and could only make thousands of assumptions, my heart began to ACHE.  My boiling blood turned on me, and I found myself ashamed.

I moved quickly.  I told the cashier to un-suspend the order and add it to my groceries.  She said, "Are you sure??"  There are few times I am so sure of anything.  I told her to say nothing when the woman came back and waited back in line to pay and to wait to tell her until I was out the door.  I told her I'd be praying for her mom, and walked right past the (former) rude lady as she walked back in to pay.  

I couldn't help myself - I glanced out of my peripheral just in time to see her look out my way, confused, and then slowly begin to walk her groceries out.

When adversity comes, I am not always the most graceful or gracious; in fact, in that particular moment when I found myself thinking I was so shiny and did a great service, I had to remind myself of why I was led to do it in the first place.  I wasn't so great.  I was hot-blooded and thoughtless.  When I look back, there are definitely times in my life where I wish I would have behaved differently or responded better, as with this opportunity of redemption I had been given.

In these times of great and growing stress, what makes you hot-blooded?  Do you let it destroy you and take over, or do you find a moment of redemption that heals you and sets fire to your soul to do better, and BE better?  Only you, in those moments, can decide.

 

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YOUR MOUNTAIN IS WAITING - A GUEST BLOG

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CARISSA VANN MUSIC 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CARISSA VANN MUSIC 

I absolutely LOVE having Guest Bloggers on the [Life] As She Does It Blog.  There are so many voices that should be heard, and so many gifts and talents I want to lift up, edify, and share with my She-Peeps!  Carissa Vann is among those ridiculously talented humans I have asked to help me do that.  This woman is one of the kindest, truest-and-genuinely-authentic, and loveliest people you would ever hope to meet or have in your life somehow.  She is working two-fold by following her dream of being a singer / songwriter, and also helping the community at the very same time.  I gave her full carte blanche on what to write about, and boy, did she pull through!!  You can find more of Carissa at Carissa Vann Music.  Look for some other ways to learn more about what she's doing after her post.  Thank you for being you, Girl.  And thank you for sharing this piece of encouragement.  Take it away, Carissa!!

I’m beyond honored to guest write for Life As She Does It. Thank you, Sheila, for allowing me to pour out my heart here on your blog. God has used Sheila as an instrumental person in my spiritual journey; one who has seen me in some weak moments and loved and supported me through them and for that I am forever thankful. She’s a servant, loves people fiercely and is incredibly talented and I’m so excited to watch God use her as she takes steps of obedience for Him. I love you, dearly, She-She!

I’ve got a sign in my house above my piano that says:

“Your Mountain Is Waiting, So Get On Your Way.”

I bought it not only because it was from the Magnolia Market in Waco, TX, but because the Lord literally spoke to me while I stood in the store staring at those words; surrounded by people scurrying around shoulder to shoulder and my kids touching everything in sight (despite our discussion beforehand to “keep your hands to yourself”).

I felt like the only one in the room. It was like a movie scene. You know the one where the noises stop, the surrounding images become a blur and it’s suddenly quiet?  Yeah, that’s the one.

As silly as that image is, for a moment I felt empowered by the Lord. What I heard was the Lord saying:

“Carissa, I’ve equipped you – now go.”

 So to be honest, I also questioned the Lord in that moment, because at that time I was stuck in the valley; a dark place of struggle and trials that to my frail mind, seemingly had no purpose or end.

I bought the sign anyway and it’s been gracing my walls with it’s loveliness ever since.  

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CARISSA VANN MUSIC

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CARISSA VANN MUSIC

Fast forward a few months and I’m holding hands with a dear friend as I’m distraught, terrified, frustrated, and confused and while tears are streaming down my face…she prays over me. I was fighting an age-old battle of defeat.  I felt defeated by the circumstances surrounding me and the pain from the past. I didn’t believe God had good stored up for me.

Ever since high school, I have felt a calling and desire to point others to His throne through worship and music and in that moment I wanted to quit. I wanted to throw in the towel and pursue something else in life because surely that would be easier than this, right? Let’s just leave that stuff to the professionals, OK? …Wrong.

God doesn’t magically set us on top of mountains where the view is clear. To get to the top, He takes us through the valley, up the steep climb and through the thick brush where He restores us, cleans us up, strengthens us, reminds us we are nothing without Him and makes us more like Him. It’s where we are sanctified. It’s where our legs and bodies begin to fail us and we have no other choice but to trust and depend on Him. Will it be hard? Heck yes. Will we fall? If you’re brave enough, you will fall. Will we lose some things in the process? Possibly.

The way up can be treacherous and daunting, but the view from the top is so beautiful.

The first thing I learned I had to do was to take off my backpack full of “securities” and… let go. Let go of the fear, control, shame, guilt and sin that weighed me down and live life remembering that… I. am. free.

Matthew 11:28-30

“ Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I am free because…

He bore my sin

And carried my shame

He won my peace at Calvary

And I am justified by His blood

I’m saved by the life of Jesus Christ

(lyrics copyright: Carissa Vann)

 Don’t miss His redemption story. It’s your story.

I am changed because of this truth. But the word changed is past tense. Yes, I am changed, but that’s not the end. That knowledge doesn’t let me off the hook, either. I am free and out of excellence and reverence to Him - I have to live it out.

Jesus died to save us but He also rose from the grave and gave us the Holy Spirit to work in us and keep pushing us to be more like Him. He’s alive and He’s still working. Because of that, I’m continuing to change and be refined – I’m changing still.

If we ever get to a point where we feel like we’ve “arrived” – we’ve missed something. Until that glorious day when we see Jesus face to face and He restores all that’s been broken by sin, we’ll keep walking through the peaks and valleys of this life. Once we reach the top of one mountain, the only way to the next peak is to go back through the valley. Embrace the messy middle ground and let God work. Trust Him. Seek Him. This valley is equipping you for the next one.

Romans 5:3-5

“…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

As I sat time after time in front of my piano literally opening the pages of my journal and personal time with the Lord and giving those words melodies - I feared sharing it with anyone other than my husband and had no plans to put myself out there for the world to see like I have.

Sometimes in our lives, God gives us these moments of undeserved grace where our eyes get opened, the veil that clouds our view of Him gets removed, and we get this glimpse of Him that is indescribable. I looked up one day while playing my piano and I saw the words:

“Your Mountain Is Waiting, So Get On Your Way”

and I read

“Carissa, I’ve equipped you – now go.”

I realized in that moment that these songs weren’t mine. These words weren’t mine. These melodies weren’t mine. They are His. This voice isn’t mine – it’s His. So basically this album is me with my hands open and empty. Whatever you want with this, Lord, it’s all yours.

Sometimes we just have to be willing and submissive to His plan - not ours or what we think we can do and accomplish.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (The Message)

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;

    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;

    he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Don’t assume that you know it all.

    Run to God! Run from evil!

Your body will glow with health,

    your very bones will vibrate with life!

Honor God with everything you own;

    give him the first and the best.”

Is this all easy? Not always.  Am I scared to do this? You bet! Do I still struggle with doubt? Yep, everyday!

One thing the valley’s in my life thus far have taught me is that I’m not alone. God didn’t leave us here on this earth to walk it alone. He sent Jesus to step into this mess with us. He knows the pain, suffering, and struggles of this life because He personally walked it and experienced it himself and to a degree we will never know. I’m not alone and that’s where I find confidence to keep going.

 Who knows what the Lord will do with all of this, but for now I just have to keep taking steps of obedience. 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CARISSA VANN MUSIC (make up by a partner of LIfe As She Does It, Beauty by Chelsea)

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED BY CARISSA VANN MUSIC
(make up by a partner of LIfe As She Does It, Beauty by Chelsea)

I’m currently working on my first EP to be released later this year. They are songs and hymns from some of my valley’s; a corridor into my soul and how the Lord has been working in me and through the people around me. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share these songs with you and support and encourage our community in the process. Find out more by following me on Facebook at Carissa Vann Music for updates on this project and more.

 

PRICELESS

SHE2016©

SHE2016©

Have you ever thought about the birth process, and how priceless it is?  A lot of people think of the blood, sweat, and tears as gory and the thought may even make them nauseous, and I totally get that.  But the process itself – gory or not – well, it’s what got us all here, right?
 

I am, of course, writing this because very recently I became (dare I say it?) a GRANDMOTHER.  It’s not the precious little bundle of joy that makes me cringe when I hear that name.  It’s the name itself.  I have always pictured a sweet little old blue-haired lady with a cane and thick glasses who says things like, “Wait for Granny, Dears!  You know my dentures fall out when I try to keep up with you whipper-snappers!”  And let me tell you, Folks, if you don’t know already:  That is NOT me.  Well, sometimes I have blue hair, but it is often in streaks and under some kind of turbi, hat, or ‘do-rag, and accompanied by a new Jesus tattoo and cute-but-crazy-accessories.  GRANNY SHE IS NOT FOR ME.  Nope.  My name is She.  So The Daughts decided SheShe would be appropriate and quite suiting.  And I agree with her. 
 

But I digress.  Back to birthing.  I sat in a different place altogether when Sage Ellie was born a little under a month ago as opposed to when my own children were born: not only a place where I could see the brilliance of a baby being born, but a different perspective.  My baby was having a baby.  And she had fought a long, hard battle of the game called life to get where she landed, and I knew she was going to make a wonderful mommy.  
 

But what about me as a mommy; as a parent to my own children?  Had I done enough?  Did I show enough love?  Did I discipline enough?  Was there a balance?  Had I given it my best shot?  I knew I had made my fair share of mistakes, but were they mistakes that could not be undone or even forgiven?  Would they scar my children enough to sully the joy of being a parent themselves?  Believe it or not, as she labored, I saw my life with them flash before my eyes and was truly pondering those thoughts and at least a thousand more.
 

And then came a different moment.  The moment The Daughts handed me comfort and hope that I had done well thus far: she gave me a hand-written letter from-her-to-me.  The nurse had asked us all to step out – “all” meaning The Son-In-Law, The Hubster (now referred to as PoPo by The Grand Daughts), and me.  Just before piling out of the room for a few minutes, she handed one to each of us.  It helped me to muster up an ounce of faith even before I looked at it. We sat in silence in the waiting area, privately reading the words she had thoughtfully penned.  
 

As I read through my tears, in the back of my memory bank, thoughts of hand-made helicopter-sized hair bows in her fine, wavy locks as a two-year-old came to mind.  I thought of laying her little head down in my lap when she was five after her bath to floss her teeth for her and how absolutely sweet and lavender-like she smelled.  I thought of the time she had chicken pox and I put mittens on her hands so she wouldn’t scratch.  The thoughts of singing together each and every Thanksgiving in front of friends and family and hearing her sweet, natural harmonies pierced my heart with joy.  Standing outside the kindergarten door the entire day where she couldn’t see me but I could see her to make sure she was all right on the first day of school reached out to me.  I remembered her telling me she wanted Jesus in her heart.
 

But coupled with those thoughts were the times I cried myself to sleep because we had screamed at each other for an entire afternoon.  I felt a strong hurt at remembering the time I lost my temper to a sincere breaking point, and thought if I could go back how differently I would handle that moment.  I was brought back to a time of desperation because I could not connect with my teenage daughter, no matter how hard I tried, and thinking what a failure I was as a parent.  It shattered me, as I was almost positive it had her, as well.
 

And then this (don’t worry, Readers.  I checked with her first to make sure she didn’t mind if I share):
 

“Mom, you have always been there for me and through the years have become my best friend.  I’m so excited to make you a SheShe today!  
 

You have taught me to love without ceasing and without fear.  My whole life you have been preparing me for motherhood by the example you have set for my life.  I just didn’t know it until I started thinking about the mom I wanted to be to Sage.  
 

Thank you for loving me like you do.  I cannot wait to watch your relationship with Sage grow through the years.  I am so thankful to know that I will lean on you as I set my own examples for Sage.  <3
 

I love you, Mom, and I’m so thankful for you.
 

XOXO – Chelsea”
 

That, to me……was PRICELESS.
 

So perhaps at the end of the day, you are second-guessing if your best is even good enough.  Or maybe you feel like a failure at something and that shatters you.  In this one life we have been given, nestled amongst the good will always be the bad.  Without those times, we will not grow; we will not learn to love without ceasing and without fear.  So we MUST value those times as well and know that life is good, even when it isn’t.  If we have truly given it our best and have had even an ounce of faith, the reward will be the way you see it returned to you…..and that – IS PRICELESS.  

 

I AM FLAWED. NOW PASS THE BUTTER.

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

This image is © 2015 by Life As She Does It. Please link back or credit if any content or images are used.

I am flawed.  On the inside and on-the-out.  And not just for me - but for women everywhere since the dawn of time - weight loss has been one of those flaws.  Well, I'm not sure weight LOSS is the struggle so much as weight GAIN. And loss.  And gain.

This is something I have struggled with my entire life.  Even when I was in high school and built like a brick poop-house and had the tiniest little waist, I had those thunder thighs.  And believe me, I know I did because those 'helpful peers' in school would tell me so.  "Hey, Thunder Thighs!  Where'd ya get those thunder thighs??"  Clever.  Very clever.

When I got pregnant with Chelsea, the time bomb kept ticking.  I gained 120 pounds.  I literally gained an entire person in nine months.  And I don't mean the 7-pound little person I was carrying.  And I had 'those' family members that liked to have fun at my expense and thought nothing of bestowing upon me my new nickname, Eclipse.  Nine months later, I got pregnant with Cameron and the weight gain continued, as did the new (and oh-so-funny) nicknames.

And let us not forget the people that dubbed me the Butter Body.  What's that, you ask?  Well you've heard of a butter face?  Where they say everything looks good on her but-her-face?  I was the opposite.  The people (I know you meant well, Y'all) who said, "You have such a pretty FACE!"  Which meant everything else was either not note-worthy, or it would be a shame to mention.  But-her-body.  Get it?

I am in the present.  I have since lost the weight, and it took hard work.  And it continues to be a struggle on a daily basis.  But so much of it (besides the eating right and exercise, obviously!) is about the heart of the story.  It is about living healthy in mind, body, and spirit. Those people that called me names, whether it was all in good fun, out of mean-ness, or their own insecurities; those people had no idea that no one is exempt from allowing that to define a person, and it indeed worked on me and made me unhealthy - on the inside and on-the-out - for a very long time.

I am in my 40s.  And I LOVE IT.  There is abundant power in the age that allows you to feel your sexiest, even though your body is not the same; or feel your best, even though you're so much older.  But it is not all about the age of wisdom and experience that has helped me learn to love and respect who I was, who I am and who I have become.  

I am a woman of faith.  There is a quiet and serene humbling that happens as you grow and develop in the life of having the Creator lead you that allows you to understand all are created, and a very large respect happens for all bodies that house the souls that are people - no matter what they look like.  You have more of a respect for the wrinkles and lines in a person's face that are proof that none of us are immune to life-and-death.  You have more of a respect for scars on a person that are proof of the battles they have fought.  You have more of a respect for every body-type that are proof that we are all different, yet created equal.  But it is not all about the strong foundation of faith I have that has helped me to learn to love and respect who I was, who I am,  and who I have become.

I have a husband.  He is also my friend.  And he is also at that age of wisdom and experience, and is also a person of faith, and continues to grow and develop in that.  And he loves me.  For who I've been, who I am, and who I have YET to become.  On the inside and on-the-out.

Example:  I am washing dishes.  The Hubster comes up behind me and grabs me around my mid-section playfully.  I, being coy (and a bit embarrassed about my mid-section, if we're being honest), say, "Hey!  Don't grab my rolls!"  And his retort?  He closes his eyes like he is picturing a smooth whiskey with a nice cigar, or a juicy steak wrapped in bacon, and says, "Mmmmmm.  Get me some BUTTER for dem rolls!"  I guess that makes me a Butter Body FOR REAL. 

I am grateful.  I am blessed to have that kind of love and friendship, and I allow it to have power over me and give me confidence.  He calls me beautiful every day, whether I've got my eyebrows and lips on, or if my hair is in a knot and I'm bra-less and in my loungy pants for the second day in a row.  And he knows I'm flawed on the inside and on-the-out.  And he doesn't care.  He loves me.  He lifts me up, edifies me, and encourages me.  He celebrates me.  

So who are you surrounding yourself with and what kind of power do you allow them to have over you?  Who do you allow to be relevant in your life?  Are you judging people for their outsides, yet never wanting to be judged for your own outsides?  Or do you allow yourself to see people as beautiful; flaws and all?  

Lift up, edify, and encourage people.  Celebrate them.  Celebrate you.  On the inside and on-the-out.  Do your best to live healthy in mind, body, and spirit - and pass that around.

And do me a favor:  PASS THE BUTTER.

If You Build It, They Will Come

*Photo credit  HERE

*Photo credit HERE

Lord knows (as do I) - I haven't always made good decisions.  Or right decisions.  Or righteous decisions.  In fact, looking back I would venture to say a lot of the decisions I've made were quite the opposite.  I would venture to say it took me a long time to understand what learning from my mistakes meant.  I say that because perhaps I made the same mistake more than once.  Or twice.  Or more than twice.

Don't get me wrong.  I mean, I've definitely done some good things in my life.  Take a look at my children and you will know that's true.  (I do good work, Y'all.)  But the lovely and well-grounded human beings they have become came through trial-and-error, not through making all the right decisions.

What I have learned over the course of my life - whether good or bad decisions were made - is the power of the legacy you build.  The very children I speak of are positive proof of that.  And so are their spouses.  

"What do you mean by that, She?"  "How could you possibly have had anything to do with the people your children married?"  I'm glad you asked those questions!

When my children were small, I never knew the power of a praying parent.  I did all the things to take care of them physically: I brushed their teeth, helped them with their homework, bathed them, fed them, put giant helicopter bows in their hair.  (Well, not the boys.  Well, sometimes the boys.  But just for fun - perhaps that can go into the bad decision pile.)

Thinking about how fantastic my son-in-law and daughter-in-law are obviously makes me grateful for their parents - because just like me, right or wrong they did their best - and it happened to work!  But for me, personally, I now know it's about building your legacy; building an example, building tradition.  Children THRIVE on it.  They watch you.  Ohhhhh BOY, do they watch you!  And they remember EVERYTHING.  And they carry on traditions.  And they really don't want to disappoint you as parents.  (Even if you're not a parent, you're someone's child, and you know exactly what I mean.  And even if you are not close with your parents, you STILL know what I mean through that loss.)

By the time I learned the value of building these things and building my children up in prayer, I thought it may be too late.  But it wasn't.  I got started immediately after I came to realize that something like praying for your child's spouse, even when they are young and long before their True Loves come along, is valuable to the legacy they themselves build as they grow - and also who they choose to do life with.

I learned that if you build it, they will come.

I know, I know.  There are some of you that just can't believe that building prayer up for your children in their lives is truth; that it's worth the effort.  There are some of you that are believers but still don't understand you can be building your legacy and that of your child's through every decision you make and the consequences that stem from them.  There are also some of you that simply think I stole this idea from an old (but classic and awesome) baseball (and legacy!) movie and I'm just crazy.  But I have proof.  I believed it.  I built it.  AND THEY CAME.  And they have been beautifully built into our family and our traditions and our prayers as well!

Do I want to choke my kids out sometimes to this day?  YOU BET.  Do I know they sometimes imagine doing the same to Adrian and me?  Uhhhhh, YES.  Is life easier now?  No.  Can I go back and undo the poor decisions?  Nope.  But I can find joy in just about anything now.  And I can look upon my children and their (hand-picked, prayed-for) spouses with a grateful heart.  And I know that life is good, even when it isn't.  

And I know that if you build it, they WILL come.  It's never too late to get started.  

So?  BUILD IT.

“The past is a pebble in my shoe.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe  (Past failures remind us of the importance of the choices we make today.)

"Outlive your life!" ~ Max Lucado

"The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance" ~Proverbs 1:1-33