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DANCE, AUNT FRANNIE PANTS

LASDI©

LASDI©

There is such a free feeling that dancing brings about.  It’s the closest thing to magic, really.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re a skilled ballerina or an “Elaine” from Seinfeld, there is something about dancing that makes the suppressed insecurities come out and fly away; it makes you gain a liberty and brings about a confidence you didn’t know you had.  It happens in an even stronger way when you look around the dance floor and see so many others riding that very same crazy dance train you’re on.

Maybe that’s why some people refuse to do it no matter what.  They are afraid people will see them unbutton their spirit and let go of their inhibitions, and that’s a very vulnerable place to be.

Aunt Frannie was a dancer.  I don’t mean she was some professional reality dance show contestant, or that she went around the house with her tap shoes on.  I mean she rode a crazy dance train in life that when she felt vulnerable or insecure about things, she would look around the floor and see the other dancers in her circle and make some pretty unique moves in order to feel stronger.

When we spin, we tend to get dizzy.  But there’s something about dancing so that when you twirl around and around, you’re living your truth.  Aunt Frannie could twirl like nobody’s business.  There was much twirl in that girl.

When we are furious about hard times, it can make us feel unglued or out of control.  Fury is an emotion that can make us shut down and give up.  Not Aunt Frannie.  Those things made her dance even harder until sweat was upon her brow.  You know why?  Because she knew that hard times require furious dancing.

“Wave your hands in the air, like you just don’t care.”  I love those lines of the song that seem to make everyone’s arms go up and their hands shimmy-and-shake.  You can almost see it in their eyes and smiles as their delight seems to increase while they do.  I’ve seen Aunt Frannie do it.  And it was extraordinary.

Trust me – that lady could do the Hokey Pokey and turn herself around, because to her, that’s what it was all about.

All of us know that life is unchoreographed.  It brings the unexpected.  That’s how Aunt Frannie danced, though each step she took gave the impression that they were carefully composed.  That’s because she was her own choreographer, and not one single wiggle was created without intention.

When we leap, we feel joy.  Aunt Frannie knew exactly where her heart leapt.  No bones about it, her family was her joy.  Her utterly devoted husband of 53 years; the children she raised with a truly organic love; the grandkids that had limitless affection from her; and the great grandchildren that made her dance leaps go as high as the stars.  Cousins, nieces, nephews and friends made her love leap outside the regular boundaries of  the dance floor.  She was very well aware of the joy siblings can bring about, though that never made her dance just like them.  Oh, no.  Aunt Frannie danced to her own tune. 

When she met The Hubster, Adrian, he asked what he should call her.  (The ‘Get Jiggy With It’ dance begins.)  She replied, “You can call me Aunt Frannie.” (a bit of a ‘Two-Step’ thrown in for fun)  After replying with a nodding understanding, (an old ‘Head Banger’ move from the way-back), Aunt Frannie looked up at Adrian and into his eyes (a deep expression of ‘The Tango’) and jokingly said, “Or call me whatever you want, as long as you know I wear the pants in this relationship.” (Dance Off Challenge!!), to which he answered, “Okay!  Aunt Frannie Pants it is!!” (Challenge. ACCEPTED!)

And then there was me.  I have always been honored to partner up with her in the dance of love and life, and ever-grateful that she made room on the dance floor for me when our song came on.  I learned quite a few moves from her, in fact.  Have you heard of Inspirational Dance?  She invented it just for me.

A real dancer has to fill their space with their own personality.  And that is just what Aunt Frannie did.  Much like music, she had the joy of movement and the heart of life.  So, make sure to dance and sing to the music in your own heart, and don’t let one note go without a little sway or one beat-of-the-drum go without dancing.  Let the rhythm help you find your joy, and leap!  Accept the challenge and DANCE.  Just like Aunt Frannie Pants.

Dance with the angels, Aunt Frannie Pants.  And one day, I hope to share the same dance floor again.

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……

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.

WHEN THE KUCHEN HITS THE FAN

SHE2016

SHE2016

I was thumbing through my favorite spice magazine.  Okay.  Let's get this out of the way - some people read gossip mags, some like the cerebral-sciency type of mags.  If you're like The Hubster, perhaps you like fishing magazines.  Personally, I find it extremely provocative to carefully peruse the free quarterly magazine sent to our home that houses all the gorgeous spices and seasonings, and all the published recipes sent in by "others" like me.  

So I was thumbing through my favorite spice magazine, and I came across a picture that stopped me in my tracks.  It was a warm photo showing layers of sliced apple, caramelized and formed into some sort of delicacy unlike any I had ever seen.  I did one of those things we do to get an even closer look - you know, like when you fold the magazine in half and then hold it right up to your face, or tilt it from side-to-side as if to see around the item in the picture?  I looked to the left of the photo and saw the title of the recipe: "Grandma's Apple Kuchen".  (pronounced koo-ken)

I knew this recipe was meant for me and I knew I had to conquer it.  I wasn't sure why, but I just knew.  I made my shopping list right away.  There were a few obstacles to overcome in order to make this happen.  Hey, nothing good comes easy, right?  It called for a very specific-sized glass pan I didn't have, nor had I ever heard of, and a few ingredients that were not easily found in a regular grocery store.

As fate would have it, I was in my local Goodwill spot and heard something calling my name.  "I'm over here, She!"  There, with what seemed to be a rainbow with confetti streaming down over it, was the odd-sized glass pan.  $2.99??  I think I can handle that.  Check.  I perused Amazon to find the specific ingredients needed and found them.  CHECK!!  Sunday Supper was looking like the perfect time to make Grandma's Kuchen.  In my mind, I could see the proud faces of my family and hear all the accolades I would be receiving.  Oh yea.  Meant to be.  This was going to be PERFECT.

I carefully did exactly as the recipe said.  I painstakingly sliced the apples so that they were uniform and lovely.  I whisked with fury, and stirred with passion.  I slowly placed each apple slice in layers to be ever-so-exact.  And into the oven it went.  And THE AROMA!!  The smell of the vanilla, the cinnamon, the apples!!  I cleaned the mess that is usually left on the path behind you when you work so hard to achieve greatness.  The kitchen.  But I wasn't bitter.  Oh, no.  Not with what was waiting on the other side of that oven door.

The timer went off.  The potholders came out.  The oven door was opened.  And there, Ladies and Gentlemen, was THE KUCHEN.

I took it out of the oven with tears in my eyes.  I breathed in the hard work I had seen come to fruition, and set it down on my granite counter.  I stepped to the doorway and proudly announced, "The kuchen ...... is cooling."  And the smiles of anticipation spread across the faces of The ManChild and The Hubster.  I was in the clear.  My artwork was complete.  Now all we need do was eat it.

I walked back over to it to rest on my laurels.  Of course I did.  I couldn't help but stare at this incredible beauty as it cooled and brought us all closer to being one with its tasty morsels.  And then, BOOM!

You may find what I'm about to say hard to believe.  But every word is true.  Out of nowhere, the kuchen exploded.  I mean EX.  PLO.  DED.  Glass hit my arms, my neck, my face, luckily missing my eyes.  Kuchen hit the walls, the floor, the ceiling.  The sound of it was deafening.  Cameron and Adrian came running into the kitchen, only to see me standing there, eyes wide with shock and arms out in the air to my sides, as if I were attempting to fly.  "WHAT HAPPENED?!?"  I just stared at them.  "WHAT HAPPENED, She?!?"  And the tears began to flow.  "Are you okay??  What happened?"  I looked up at them, giant tears streaming now, and screamed at the top of my lungs (get ready for it)" "MY KUCHEN EXPLODED!!"  

I wish you could have seen the pity-slash-comical-slash-confused looks on their faces.  The "awwwwwwww"s coming out of their mouths, rolling from deep inside their souls for me as they both put their arms around me to console my broken spirit were so sincere.  All that hard work.  All that mountain climbing to get to the top, only to slide back down.  Everything I had worked SO HARD FOR.  Ruined.

Or was it?  Those two went into action.  They cautiously cleaned me up, and led me to the couch with a tall glass of wine.  They cleaned up the kitchen.  They loved on me.  They offered me kuchen condolences all night.  And I was reminded that life was good, even and especially in the moments we think it isn't.

I changed that recipe to morph it into my own and chose simple ingredients and more practical tools to do so.  I make it often and think of that day every single time I do.  I know it grew me and helped me stretch and climb.  I know it taught me that there is almost always a mess left behind you when you work hard, not to rest on my laurels, and to understand that in all toil there is profit.  I know it helped me see what's really important.  All that because the kuchen hit the fan.

Sometimes the most beautiful things can explode in your face, even if you think you've conquered something after a long, arduous process, and it turns out incredible ...... you feel proud and think you're in the clear.  And then, BOOM.  What was once lovely artwork is in pieces everywhere, reminding you how truly delicate life can be.

Be careful and practical as you stretch and climb, but climb just the same.  Know that when something goes wrong  after you've worked so hard, it is only to show you what's really important so that you don't lose sight of it.  And NEVER put a hot kuchen in a glass pan on a granite counter. 

SHE'S CONDOLENCE KUCHEN

Kuchen:
1 1/4 cups  flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 stick butter, cold and cut up
2 egg yolks
2 tsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 medium-sized green apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
 
Streusel:
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbs flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbs butter, cold and cut
 
Combine all streusel ingredients into small mixing bowl and blend with your fingers until the mixture resembles small crumbs. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and butter. Use your fingers to blend all the kuchen ingredients to large-crumb consistency. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks then add the vanilla extract and milk. Pour milk mixture into the crumbled dry ingredients and mix until it is just blended. Press this dough into the bottom and up the sides of a prepared baking dish.

Arrange the apple slices in three lengthwise rows on top of the crust. Sprinkle the streusel mixture over the apples. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the apples look glazed and caramelized.

EAT SLOWLY.

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1 LIFE 1 MISSION - A GUEST BLOG

Links International - All Rights Reserved  ©

Links International - All Rights Reserved ©

What a special day for Life As She Does It!!  Not only do I have my first male Guest Blogger, he is someone I largely admire and consider a hero of sorts.  In a world that is so profoundly broken as a whole, it can sometimes feel discouraging to even try to help where we are called or needed.  Not this guy.  Jason Bollinger, along with his wife, Holly, are saving the world one trip, one person, one step at a time,  And that's how it's done, isn't it?  One foot in front of the other??  You can find more of Jason's moving words, adventures, and mission stories over at 1Life1Mission.com, or any of 1L1M's social media.  Read on to find out more about the ways Jason is doing it and how we can do it, too - CHANGE THE WORLD!!  Take it away, J-Bo!!

I’m so honored to be the first “HE” on the LASDI blog. My wife, Holly, and I are big fans of SHE, and we are blessed to have a front row seat into all the different ways SHE makes the world a better place. She is the real deal, and our lives are fuller because of SHE and Adrian (HE). 

We work with a mission organization called Links International. A lot of our time is spent traveling to the developing world bringing Good News to the poor. We also spend time working with churches, businesses, and families who are interested in connecting with mission opportunities. Our network provides Gospel-based solutions and resources for poverty’s most devastating affects. 

SHE wears us out all the time telling us we are changing the world. The encouragement is actually awesome, but the reality is that we’re just scratching the surface doing what we can. We go to the needs. We work hard on solutions. We empower people to break free from poverty. We get a front row seat to lives being changed by Good News. 

Our hope is that changed lives become transformed communities and transformed communities become transformed regions and transformed regions...well you get the idea. Big impact usually happens from something small. 

We haven’t always worked in International mission. For 18 years we were in full-time church ministry, but we experienced a turning point in 2010 surrounding the adoption of our girls. We went for what we thought was one daughter under 2 years old and came home with two daughters aged 6 and 8. In a traumatic experience of everything going wrong...almost...God miraculously delivered our girls into our family. We ended up spending just shy of three months in Ukraine. A month of that time included spending time in the orphanage every day.

HollyBollingerPhoto.com ©

That was our first time in a foreign country other than England. It was our first time to spend an extended time with what the Bible calls “the least of these.” It was our first time to get to know missionaries who were sacrificing a comfortable life at home to serve those in need. We didn’t realize it at the time, but we were deeply impacted by those things. While we were there, it was just life. We were focused on our adoption. We weren’t planning a radical transformation of how we would live the rest of our lives. 

I heard Bono say after his first trip to Africa that he wouldn’t be able to unsee what he had seen. Not only that, he would have to do something about it. After we got home, we experienced that to be true. We still loved the church and serving the church, but we couldn’t unsee what we had seen. Not only that, we started to see it in places we had never seen it before. 

The first step was just seeing it. Mission trips are great for this. Before we saw it, we overlooked severe needs and fatherless kids in our own community. They were there all along, but we missed it. We didn’t see it. Or maybe the truth is we didn’t want to see it. 

It was definitely easier and more convenient to not see it, but not seeing it is the barrier to mission. We can’t change a world that we pretend doesn’t exist. When we travel to places that suffer from extreme poverty, “need” suddenly has a name, a face, a sweet hug and a beautiful smile. I don’t think we’re motivated toward Mission until we experience that reality.  

Links International - All Rights Reserved  ©

Links International - All Rights Reserved ©

I like the idea of changing the world, don’t you? I plan on continuing to do all I can to work toward that end. However, I know many think they can’t or don’t have time. Many think they’re not qualified or gifted enough. Some are just overwhelmed thinking about where to start. 

The truth is changing the world may actually be easier than you think. You can be good news to bad news around you. You can bring light to something dark. You can bring hope to something hopeless. Maybe even today. You can change someone’s world. You probably don’t even have to go somewhere you don’t already go. You can make a difference. A meal. An encouraging word. A prayer. A listening ear. A hug. An invitation. Don’t underestimate the significance of what you can do.

Once you see it, you’ll see more. You will even crave more. You might start to set your sights on other needs, bigger needs. You might find yourself rescuing orphans. You might find yourself creating jobs in Africa. You might find yourself doing healthcare training in Nicaragua. You never know. I think we can do it. I think we can change the world. I think you can change the world.

Blessings,
Jason Bollinger

We are available to help you connect with your missional potential. We would love to talk to you about things you’re interested in and places you can plug in. You can contact us at office@linksintlusa.org.

BollingerLove

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.  

 

To She or Not to She (looking for a Valentine?)

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

To know me is to love me…is NOT what most people say if they know me.  Don’t get me wrong.  I know people who know me do, indeed, love me.  Keeping it real, though:  if they KNOW me, AND they love me – it’s a dangerous cocktail.

I am not your average, uhhhh, (rephrase) NORMAL person.

I am a Jesus freak, a control freak…a freak of nature.  I have extreme obsessive compulsive disorder about having order, am obsessed with my husband, and compulsive about just about anything.  I love wine, hate whining, and whine about whiners.  I am extremely organized in some ways, extremely messy in others, and just plain extreme.  I am eccentric, but old-fashioned.  I am a good cooker, bad with numbers, and mediocre in almost everything else.  I want my kids to be independent, as long as they depend on me.  I'm very serious, and I'm very silly.  And I'm very serious about being silly.  I have a collection of unconventional hats, which I wear to conventional places.  I sing with every song on the radio, and with every song in my heart.  I am obnoxious, but long-suffering.  I am patient, but not for long.  I want to serve, and I find it hard to receive being served.  I’m always tired, but hate to sleep.  I make presents way more than I buy presents, and I love being present.  I love being on-stage and putting it all out there, yet I’m one of the most private people I know.  My living legacy is important to me, and the legacy I leave behind is, too.  I’m a tad narcissistic, and a tad self-loathing.  I’m a tough nut to crack.  I’m a nut.

I’m not the easiest person to love – ESPECIALLY if you know me.

I am sure, though, if I know YOU, I love you.  In some way, and by some show – albeit nominal or intense - I absolutely love you.  It could be the bread I made you from scratch, the prayer I say for you, or the hug I make linger for a long (and sometimes awkward) time with you……or just by telling you so.  But you can bet - I love you.

So, if you're looking for a Valentine:  To She or not to She.  THAT is the question.  Good luck to you, WHICHEVER you choose.

Hard-Working Valentine

Photo Source: http://moonstarsandpaper.blogspot.com/2007_02_01_archive.html

Photo Source: http://moonstarsandpaper.blogspot.com/2007_02_01_archive.html

One Valentine’s Day years ago, my husband asked me on a date.  Now, as married people trying to keep our marriage fresh, we go on date night quite often.  Sometimes it’s a romantic dinner out; sometimes it’s a romantic dinner in.  Sometimes it costs money, sometimes it doesn't.  A successful marriage is hard work and well worth it in the long run.

This particular time he took me out to dinner.  It was very nice.  I thought to myself how sweet my husband was as we were on our way home.  As we pulled in the driveway, I noticed he looked a little nervous.  Knowing my darling husband’s affinity for gas, I assumed the meal wasn't sitting right.

“I know this sounds weird, but I need you to stay in the truck for a few minutes.”  I had no idea what the heck he was talking about.  This particular Valentine’s was a little chilly outside and I had no intention of sitting in the truck to wait for the beautiful heat I knew was calling my name from inside the house.

“I don’t have a choice, She.  Please just trust me and stay out here for a few minutes.  I’ll come get you.”  He must have read my face.  But I’m no fool.  It was obvious at that point he had something romantically diabolical going on, and I wasn't ABOUT to ruin it.

Sure enough, a few minutes later my husband came to retrieve his chilly wife.  He came around to the door, opened it, took my hand, and looked like he was about to cry.  I realized that I, too, started getting a little nervous.

As I got to the walkway and was looking down in an attempt to watch where I was going in the dark in very high shoes, I noticed rose petals.  Lots and lots of them.  And they went right under the front door.  I stopped and looked up at Adrian, who REALLY looked anxious and weepy-eyed now.  He got in front of me, still holding my hand, and he opened the door.

Now to some, what I’m about to tell you he did may sound cheesy. And I don’t care.  That’s why he’s the best husband ever.  He IS cheesy, and he IS romantic, and he owns it, and that, Ladies, and Gentlemen, is why you can’t stop reading this particular blog post.  BOOM.

The door opened and it was dark, except for the ga-ZILLION candles.  (Maybe it wasn't a gazillion, but it was a lot – like the way you only see it on soap operas or Lifetime moves)  And Sade's  “This Is No Ordinary Love” softly rang through the house,  just like she was singing directly to to ME.   I looked down at the rose-petal path.  The smell of incense was the perfect touch as I looked at Adrian and he told me to “follow the path".  Around the corner and inside the room we go…straight to the bathroom. Wait.  That doesn't sound romantic.  Let me say it another way.  It led me straight to the Bath Room.  There, a hot bubble bath was waiting, with rose petals sprinkled into it.  On the side of the tub…the pièce de résistance – a glass of wine!! 

You would think it stops there.  But it doesn't.  He washed my hair for me.  He washed my feet for me.  And he cried and told me how blessed he was to have me. And all the while, Sade sang her lungs out.

He had really worked hard for me - for us.

And then (of course) as the story goes…Bowchickabowbow!!  (Now simmer down, Folks.  We married-and-deeply-in-love people tend to do that sometimes.)

Go and enjoy your Valentine’s Day.  If you have a Valentine, whether it's your spouse, your parent, a special person in your life -  take the time to put a little hard work into the relationship.  Trust me when I tell you the hard work will pay off in the long run.

 Thank you for being my Valentine every day, Adrian.  I love you so.

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

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