Weekly Photo Challenge: HaPpY


This gallery contains 12 photos.

Yay! How much do I LOVE this week’s photo challenge?! A LOT! It was tough for me to choose only a few, but I have done it! Are you ready? Here we go. Strings of lights hung above a walkway. … Continue reading

Five Minute Friday: Welcome

I’ve been awake since four and when I finally decided to get up the first thought that came to mind was, “It’s been nine years.” I snuck downstairs and opened my laptop to see what the FMF prompt would be and how it might relate to this anniversary. This is what I found.

I’m a big definitions girl. I like to see a word dissected into smaller words and explained in black and white. When reading the definition of welcome this part caught my eye; used to indicate that one is relieved to be relinquishing the control or possession of something to another. Today, if you ask me what I think of this word as it relates to my relationship with the #1 man in my life, this is what I would say…

Nine years ago today, the man of my dreams vowed to love me forever.
To support me in mind, body and spirit.
To walk with me down whatever path we were led.
To love my daughter as his own.
He welcomed me in a way that no one ever had.
He knew all most of the good, the bad and the ugly.
He saw something that even I could not see.
Maybe I didn’t see it then, but I have gladly relinquished control of my heart into his keeping.
Looking back, I am humbled and delighted at where God has brought us over the last 10 years.
We now have these incredible children. Two of which are boys.
I love seeing Chris with our boys! They try to fill his size 13 footprint, but they are still learning and growing, striving and reaching.
Chris welcomes the challenge of being an exemplary father to our sons.
It is not always easy, but he knows that their feet are quickly catching up to his and one day they will welcome a family of their own.
We welcome this time in our journey when we can watch our children explore and discover.
We welcome another anniversary signaling God’s presence in our lives throughout another year.

Life…with a side of childlike perspective

The verbal and facial expressions seen and heard between my boys are some of the best material. You just can’t make this stuff up. Yesterday was no different.

This is the conversation had between my four and six-year-old while driving home at the end of the work day.

Caden (4 years old): “Ri, how long do brothers take care of each other?”
Ri (6 years old): “What do you mean?”
Caden: “How old will I be when you stop taking care of me? Six?”
Ri: “No, ten. When you’re ten you can do stuff cause you’re grown.”
Caden: “Like what kind of stuff?”
Ri: “You can drive a car…eat what you want…stay up late and get a job.”
Caden: “Oh.”
Me: “Ri, you can’t actually drive a car when you’re ten.”
Ri: “What?! Why not? I’ll be grown by then!”
Me: “You can drive a car when you’re sixteen.”
Ri: “SIXTEEN?! That will be forever!”
Caden: “Bella’s sixteen.”
Me: “No, darling, she’s fourteen.”
Ri: “WHAT?! Isn’t she in college?”
Me: “No, honey. She’s in high school.”
Caden: “Will I still be with you when I’m in college?”
Ri: “Yeah, we can live with mommy and daddy forever.”
Me: “Um…well…it doesn’t really work that way. When you go to college, you usually live on or near campus.”
Ri: “What kind of beds do they have at college? Are there fluffy, comfortable beds?”
Me: “You will probably take your bed when you move.”
Ri: “WHAT?! I’m not big enough to carry my bed!”
Me: “You don’t carry the bed, you pack everything in a truck…never mind. You don’t have to worry about college right now!”
Caden: “How old are you, mommy? Twenty-one?”
Me: “Do I look twenty-one?”
Caden: “No. You look twenty-five.”
Me: “Okay, I’ll take that.”
Me: “Ri, why are you so concerned about growing up fast?”
Ri: “I want to drive my girlfriend around.”
Me: “Who’s your girlfriend?”
Ri: “I haven’t found her yet.”


I’m a hypocrite

Some days… when standing before my reflection stripped of everything… motives, guilt, expectations, past images, I can honestly look at my body and speak the words of Psalm 139 with great certainty.

There are other days when I stand before the mirror and wonder whose body I’m trapped in and when the merger occurred. I look at my curves as too curvy. My hair appears dull. My laugh lines are deep and obvious. My image is distorted.

These are the times when the Father whispers my name, Chosen one. Beloved daughter. I have called you by name. You are mine.

I used to have such a hard time with the phrase, “Beauty is on the inside.” I felt like everyone I heard say it was unattractive and used it to self-soothe. (Mean and judgmental, I know.) Interesting how perspective changes when inner beauty is realized in others and strived for in oneself. It is much more difficult to acquire, maintain and increase than outward beauty. It is the great reminder that this “shell” is temporary. Appearance is fleeting. What’s on the inside will indeed show through…eventually.

I have found it fascinating how the inside begins seeping through the eyes and the smile. The mannerisms and responses. The posture and tone. I know several women over the age of 55 who have a rare beauty that a 20-year-old doesn’t even know to wish for and certainly could not understand. My perception of beauty now differs greatly from when I was 20 or even 26. I don’t think it can adequately be defined. It’s like trying to wrap ones mind around “forever.” It simply cannot be done.

Truth be told, twelve years of abuse to one’s body doesn’t just go away. I know that eating disorders in general are a phenomenon to many. For those of us walking through it, it could not be more real. Some days I wonder if I will ever have a healthy relationship with food. I wonder when I will stop wanting to bend over and vomit every time something passes my lips. I wonder when I will stop trying to force my curves into straight leg jeans. I don’t know?

What I do know is that when I stand up in front of your daughters and mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives and friends and tell them that God made them with a purpose in mind and we should embrace the body he has created for us, I better be living what I’m speaking.

Some days I do. There are days when I have too much confidence. Those who know me well would attest to that. On the days when I’m not appreciating my laugh lines, the curve of my hips or the scar on my belly (that provided a safe delivery for our son) I remember the verse that I have given out to so many women and girls. “I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!” Psalm 139:14

I am not the crease in my brow or the lines encompassing my eyes. I am not the stomach lacking definition or the thighs that will never fit into a size 4 again. I am not the arms that hide from sleeveless shirts or the boobs chest that is, at times, less than manageable. I am not the chin that is no longer well-defined or the insipid, brown hair on my head. The fact that more things jiggle when I walk than I would like, does not decrease my value or deflect me from my purpose. All of these things make up my physique, but they no longer define me.

I am a child of God. Made in his image. Created with great purpose and craftsmanship. I am his masterpiece. Dearly beloved. Beautiful in his sight. Purchased with his blood. Worth dying for.

And darling, so are you.


Watching the rain

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
~ Umberto Eco

Just like that, a Mother is born

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.
She never existed before.
The woman existed, but the mother, never.
A mother is something absolutely new.”

I remember that moment when the first cries were heard and the rush of tasks began to care for a newly born baby. The room seemed to spin around the delivery table where I was still lying. Life would never be the same.

The part one might not know about “giving birth” more than once is that the experience is never like that of the other. I went in feeling as if I had never done it before with each of my children. It’s the strangest and most wonderful thing.

We then take the baby home and do the best we can with what we have to 1. Keep them alive 2. Shower more than once a week and 3. Resemble some semblance of sanity.

As they begin to grow we encourage them to start talking by sounding out words and making ridiculous faces. We motivate them to walk by dangling things just beyond their reach. We urge them to hold a spoon in their chubby little hand and feed themselves, all the while entertained by the fact that more of it is on their face and the surrounding area than in their mouth.

And then the day comes, I can’t tell you exactly when, we start shhh-ing them and telling them to “be still.” We scold them for smacking, avoiding their napkin and dropping food on the floor while not “leaning over their plate.” Weird, right?

Maybe not? If you think about it, it’s just how life evolves. In recovery we compare many of our milestones to that of a child. And we celebrate when we reach them as if celebrating a child’s firsts. It’s crucial for our continued momentum.

Today, Andy Stanley is wrapping up a series called Future Family. I have to be honest, I’m rather sad about it. Each week I have walked away with something applicable that I could start doing. Each week at the close of his message I have desired to be a better wife and mother. Each week I have gained knowledge that I will pass on to my children and hopefully their children. Do you know how huge that is?!

For this girl, who was a mother before I had even figured out how to solely take care of myself and who has made more mistakes than I care to mention, to have someone come alongside me and “teach” instead of condemning me is HUGE.

I’m the girl who learns by trial and error so to find something that works without making a lot of messes beforehand is invaluable to me.

Being a mother is hard. It’s wonderful too, but let’s be honest, that perspective usually comes (especially in the early years) when our little one is sleeping. I depend far too heavily on caffeine most days. Not a day goes by that I don’t have to ask one or more of my children to “please forgive me.” I raise my voice too much, I loathe dusting, I don’t “play” enough, at times I feed my children cereal for dinner, I am completely unorganized and I am incredibly selfish. BUT, if you ask my children if I love them, they would say “Yes.” If you ask them if they know who God is, they would say “Yes.” If you ask them if their mommy and daddy love each other, they would say “Yes.” Those three truths are of the utmost importance to me.

So when I have a conversation with my 14-year-old about some really hard “stuff” that I, personally do not think she should have to worry about yet and I hang up the phone feeling like I know nothing at all. I can ask myself, “Does she know that I love her?” Yes. “Does she know that I want what’s best for her?” Yes. “Does she have her own personal relationship with the God of her understanding?” Yes. “Does He have a plan and a purpose for her life?” Yes.

I don’t know why this topic is on the forefront of my mind? If for no other reason, maybe it’s to encourage you, as a parent, to cut yourself some slack. If you’re a total slacker, maybe it’s to tell you to step it up. What I know for sure is that, my children are a gift and that it’s okay that it’s difficult.

Sandra Stanley said something in the message last week (when accompanying Andy on stage) that I will never forget as it refreshed my perspective on parenting. She said, “The days feel long but the years are short.” Realizing that for me, right now, there is no job on earth more important than being a parent is the mother in me being born and coming to life.

What do you think? Do you love every aspect of being a mother/parent? Is it as difficult for you at times as it is for me?

Looking for great parenting material?
Check these mamas out…
Courtney Defeo blogs at Lil Light O’ Mine She uses truth and humor, grace and love, to navigate her way through motherhood. Check out her site, but be prepared to spend some time as you will keep finding material that you love!

Leanne Penny blogs at Leanne Penny She shares her experience, strength and hope to find joy in the journey. She has an incredible story and you will be better after reading her heart.

Lisa~Jo Baker blogs at The Gypsy Mama She has an extraordinary amount of wisdom that pours out on every page. Her life is not perfect, but she has a unique way of turning trials into triumphs.

Red lippy kisses

“Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together.” 
~Pearl S. Buck

…and some mothers wear red lippy so that their kisses last longer and cannot be easily wiped off with a cotton sleeve.