Friday, August 31, 2007

I do some of my best thinking....

at Starbuck's. I think I should go there more often. Especially now that Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back in season. Mmmmm. For a little over $3, I am full of ideas and smiling today. All due to the simple goodness of a non-fat, extra-hot pumpkin spice latte.
That card reads, "Lattes are the new birthday cake." If that's true, then I have no problem with birthdays...bring 'em on! =)
Hope life offers you a simple joy today. Even if it's a whiff of a hot latte.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

On my mind...

As the days draw closer for school to start, it reminds me again how much I miss Teagan and it makes me wonder each year, just what she might look like, how grown up she would be as she would be anticipating a new beginning. My heart used to ache for the things I missed out on because of her unexpected death.
But this year, as I started imagining her and trying to 'fit her' into our lives based on what her age would be (she would be 10 yrs. old and about to start 5th grade!) I just couldn't. My mind just can't even wrap around my 4 year old being in middle school. As much as that makes my heart hurt and the tears burn in my eyes, it is just as much a blessing in my life. To know that I can't mentally bring her back into the picture of my real-life actually stirs my soul from sadness to one of joy and peace.
For I know that Heaven cannot begin to compare to the experiences that the rest of us go through from day to day. I know that Teagan is in Heaven, and it is a comfort to me like no other. The fact is she DID miss out on a lot of things here on earth. But none of them would be worth coming back to this world for. The things I found myself realizing the past few days is that she is only missing out on the bad, the scary, the nerve-wracking, the hurtful. School can be a wonderful time for kids- and it should be. But when I think back to that time in my life I can also recall tears that I shed over things like "friends" talking behind my back, or having my feelings crushed for whatever the reason may have been. There were times I got picked last for the team, that I forgot my locker combination or that I looked in the mirror and didn't like what I saw and it threatened my self-image and esteem for a long time. I remember the mixed emotions inside me at that time in my life. Sometimes I just wanted to be silly and innocent and free...yet I knew that life was beginning to expect more from me and there were demands and expectations that I knew existed and I just didn't want to let anyone down. Least of all, me.
What I imagine now when I look ahead to the coming days and years is that, yes, I am sad to a certain degree that Teagan isn't here to be a part of our 'memories'. Everyday I find I miss her presence and all she would add to our lives. Yet it makes my heart glad to know that she is not missing out on any goodness, love or grandeur. She is in Heaven- the place we all wish to be someday. Chip and I have laughed together and enjoyed fond memories of her... but some of our sweetest are ones that we never had to actually experience. She never dated the 'wrong guy'. She never had a broken heart. She never had to feel rejected or unloved or insecure or unimportant or uncertain. She lived a life of joy and gladness- more in her 4 short years than some will ever experience in a lifetime.
Just this past weekend it has been 6 years since we had our first memorial service for Teagan. I remember that day so vividly. Chip and I had never fathomed such a day would actually occur in our lives. We couldn't begin to imagine how we would feel, what we would do, or how we would get through such an unimaginable event. Nothing in life prepares you to say a final goodbye to the one you love- especially when just days before Teagan had been the light of our lives, the joy in our hearts and one of the main things that our whole lives centered on from morning til night. She would laugh and dance and run and play and talk and hug and kiss- almost non-stop. And suddenly that was gone.
One moment stands out in my mind as the most difficult and surreal moment of our tragedy and her death. As we prepared to head to the church for her memorial service, we were surrounded by family and friends whose hearts were broken alongside ours. We had lots of family and friends staying with us, and so we drove several vehicles to the church. I was the last to leave our house- along with my mom and dad and my aunt Dorie. I was unable to walk at that time because of the extensive nerve, muscle and tissue damage in my legs as a result of my injuries, and so I had been using a wheelchair, as well as trying to use crutches.
There were three steps to manuever down our front entry way for me to reach my wheelchair. I was deteremined to walk down them on my own- with the aid of my parents at my side. As I stood on that top step, my heart, mind and body literally froze. I could not move. My parents thought at first, that I was just in so much pain and needed to take my time.
But the fact was that I was so heartbroken that I physically couldn't take another step forward. I knew it would be admitting to myself the reality of what faced me- just moments away- the final farewell to my little Teagan and the beginning of my life without her in it. It just didn't seem possible, and I was frozen in that moment not wanting time to move ahead even one more second.
It is that same sense that I feel at times like these- as I watch my other kids grow and transition and look forward to their future in new and exciting ways. It's true, Teagan never got to do some of the things parents dream for their kids from the moment they are born. But it is me who is missing out on such dreams. Not her. She's in Heaven; and I cannot begin to wrap my mind around the beauty that graces her now.
With that, I have to share a quote by Emily Dickinson that was printed inside a card that a close friend of ours gave to us just before Teagan's service. It says,
"This world is not conclusion, a sequel stands beyond,
invisible, as music, but positive, as sound."
One day I know we will write the ending of our stories, together. For all eternity!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Scrappin' and summertime!

There is this thing going on at our house- that realization that summer is almost over and we need to pack in some major fun! It's not that I haven't had anything to post or write about. On the contrary. But knowing that in just one week life will be back to a routine and schedule that won't allow for such spontaneous fun and freedom has changed the focus and priorities at home just a bit.
Fortunately the weather forecasters must understand and sense such urgency, because the temperatures have been hot the past few days and the sun has been shining. We capitalized on such weather all day yesterday...splashing and playing and taking in all the fun that dollar ring tubes and sidewalk chalk can inspire. =) There were lots of opportunities for picture-taking...although I didn't even get any of the orange push-ups that dripped all over the smiling faces of my kids when it was time to cool off. You see fewer pictures of Wyndham than the other kids, because she prefers to sit in the shade and watch the fun happen from her comfy vantage point. Although as soon as my memory stick was full, she did come out and sat in the kiddie pool and splashed and played with her sisters. Maybe she was just waiting for the right time. =)
Sunday night we had the privilege of enjoying the company of our friends-for-life, the Willetts. Chip made his famous ribs...and we ate and talked and our kids sang and danced to High School Musical cds the whole time.
There is something so special about being in the company of people you love so much, just talking and playing guitar; singing along outdoors and realizing that God has blessed you abundantly with the gift of friendship. I hope they enjoyed their time as much as we did. Even if they didn't have as much fun as us, I know they enjoyed dessert....Chip's Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee. Everyone's ramekin dish was nearly licked was that tasty!
In all my 'free time', I've been doing a bit of scrapping {the peek you see here is in full at my SIS gallery if you click this link...}, lots of cleaning and organizing of my scrap stuff, and feeling grateful that creativity can be something as simple as playing with pictures and scrap products. If you haven't done so yet, and even if you're not a scrapper, I invite you to stop by the SIStv website and just take a peek at what's going on over there. There is so much- from message boards with various topics- many scrap related, but some just sharing favorite recipes or reminiscing about songs from the 70's and 80's. You never know what you might find, or who you might connect with- no matter the time of day. It's a fun, non-threatening, fun place to meet and enjoy 'doing life' with others.
I hope you're summer is wrapping up with lots of energy and excitement. Even if there is stress in your life at such a time, I challenge you to put one or two 'pressing things' on hold...and create a moment of two of joy. Go out for one last ice cream cone. Take a long walk near a park or lake. Grab a camera and snap some random photos of your kids as they ride their bikes or eat watermelon. These are the days to hold on to. The ones that someone is going to look back and remember as childhood memories. Or if they're YOUR memories, you will simply be glad you took the time to breathe, enjoy and soak in. That's what makes life so wonderful. The everyday moments that we elevate to cherished memories become the events that make life worth living. Appreciating them and celebrating them as they happen is a bonus gift along the way!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Doing your part...

Some of you may remember that photo of me and Capt. Dan Rooney from earlier this year when he was recognized at the Mentor West Michigan Sports Awards banquet. His work and passion for the Fallen Heroes Foundation is worthy and inspiring.
This Saturday, Septemeber 1st, is officially declared Patriot Day, and Dan's efforts in dreaming up and following through with his passion and heart for those have given the ultimate sacrifice in service to this country what has brought this day into reality.
There have been several articles and various media attention given to such a worthy cause, this one from Golf Digest. Another commentary is here at GolfWeek and yet another link for more information on how to personally get involved is here, at Play Golf
CBS recently did a special presentation on this upcoming Patriot Day and it was featured during the PGA Championship. You can watch that piece by following this link.
For those who may not know my connection and association with Dan, it is through my husband, Chip. Chip is the General manager/Director of Golf at Grand Haven Golf Club of which Dan and his parents are owners. Dan works closely with Chip in regards to the Club operations and I have had the privilege over the past few years to get to know Dan and his whole family as friends. I have personally been challenged and been filled with pride at times for all that Dan seeks to do in life- personally, professionally and spiritually. He has an intensity and passion for so many things- and this foundation has been one that has come straight from his heart and turned into an amazing opportunity for so many to share their hearts and pride with the families who have lost loved ones in service.
I am happy to be a small part of Dan's efforts and I hope that some of you might take advantage of this upcoming opportunity to do something so small- get your local golf club involved, or personally give to the Fallen Heroes Foundation- as a small way to thank the families whose lives have been changed forever, and who have given so much.
Thank you Dan...thank you service families...thanks to those who have sacrificed their all. It is an honor to recognize and thank each of you today.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Some of my *new best friends*...

Yesterday, before I met these women, I knew only that we were a group of people who had three things in common...we live in Michigan, we have been involved with Scrap In Style TV, and we love scrapbooking. We met up at a scrapbook store...some of them drove several miles to get there and spent ALL DAY at the store. I was able to be there for the afternoon and evening, and it was a blessing in my life.
These girls were more than just women with MI driver's licenses and lots of ribbon in their stash! They were funny, inspiring, encouraging, entertaining, thoughtful, great cooks, and to top it off they all had big hearts. I fell in love with my 'scrapping' and the role it plays in my life even more after my time with this group. They let me talk a mile a minute, they let me scrap at half that speed =); they laughed at my stories, they made me feel like the time I spend doing scrap stuff is so very worth my energy. And sometimes I question it...I really do. I wonder if there is something else that I should bump up in my list of things I could/should do and make scrapping less of a priority.
They assured me in words, thoughts and actions, that it is serving a big purpose in my life. It was an amazing feeling for me to make a spiritual connection between life and scrapping. It may even sound ridiculous to some. But for me, it was nothing short of a blessing- to realize that when I scrap, my heart and soul is in the very place it is meant to be at times.
Hi to any of you girls in the picture here. I hope you know you are now a part of my ever-growing circle of friends. And I couldn't be happier about that. I hope you are too!

Friday, August 24, 2007

The rest of the "happy" story...

I had the rare opportunity to watch about 10 minutes of the Oprah Show yesterday. I was outside mowing the grass {I LOVE the smell of earth and fresh cut grass!} while my girls played with chalk and bubbles, and got to a point where it was too hot and humid and we all needed to take a little break. We went inside to the coolest spot in the house...the downstairs family room. I turned on the tv and flipped to the Oprah Show- just to see the topic of the day. It happened to be about I stayed to watch and listen for the last 10 minutes of the show. That is where my thoughts and this post come from today.
I can't say I am an expert on happiness- I haven't written any books on it or done lengthy studies on it- remember, I didn't even see the whole show yesterday. However, I can speak from my own heart and experiences and hopefully offer another perspective- one that if it even touches one soul who needs to hear it differently, will make this worth my time.
I first have to say that I admire Oprah and all her efforts to make this world a better place and to encourage others to 'live their best life'. I think a lot of what she says and does and how she spends her time and money are very honorable and inspiring. She brings out the best in so many people, and her presence seems to lift hearts and souls so often. We need people like this in the world- people willing to seek out good and to make changes where they see needs. I love that about her.
However, at the end of yesterday's show, I couldn't shake the feeling of sadness for some of the people that might have been watching and listening to the thoughts on happiness and how to have it in life. The part I happened to catch was 'feel good' and even inspiring...basically telling people that happiness exists inside of everyone. You just need to let the past go and look inside to find your happiness. Sounds like great advice, right?! I admit, it did sound good and I believe it might even be the best thing for some people to do in their life. But I just couldn't help but wonder if maybe this equation isn't quite the 'one size fits all' answer for everybody.
I thought first about my own life and my past. My situation is extreme compared to some, but still, it made me stop and think. I couldn't help but imagine that there were people in the 'viewing audience' yesterday who might be in the midst of one of life's extreme hurts. No matter if it is self-imposed or not. As in my own case, being happy just by looking 'inward' never would have been enough to pull me through to the point in life where I find myself today- a place of contentment and peace.
My mind raced thinking of the different people whom I have 'met' just through this blog in recent months- all sorts of stories and hurts in life that people are struggling with- from car accidents and deaths of loved ones, to cancer- from babies to adults, to broken marriages and relationships, to devastating losses of jobs and the reality of financial struggles. Others have shared stories of infertility and the ache that never ends in their hearts for the longing of a baby of their own. Then there are some who have written about hurts and mistakes of their past- things that affect the way they see the world every single day. Without even looking beyond those people in my circle of family and friends, and those who email me after reading this blog, I can see that there is a lot of hurt and 'unhappiness' in this world. It made my heart ache a little bit and it just didn't seem as though this "happiness is inside you" solution was enough for the people I imagined hearing it's message yesterday.
It got me thinking. Really thinking, about what IS happiness and where DOES it come from. It seems like such a simple concept- something that the basis of this American nation is founded upon- the idea that everyone has the right to pursue it. Yet we can't deny that there are thousands of unhappy people in this country. Something isn't adding up here.
While I totally support the idea that everyone deserves the opportunity for happiness in life, it seems that it isn't as easy as it sounds. Back when it was actually put in writing I think there were a lot of people with a clear vision and Hope for this nation and its people. Since that time a lot of things have happened...a lot of things have changed.
Define happiness.
I'll bet every person has a slightly different (or even great) definition to happiness. There is a wide spectrum of what it takes/what it means to be happy- each individual determining their baseline on their own experiences and circumstances. Therefore, what makes me happy doesn't necessarily make you happy. So, how do people begin to find something that is based on 'happenings'?
I've written in previous posts here about happiness and contentment and joy. I think there are some important distinctions between these three seemingly similar characteristics. It is far too easy to confuse them at times.
One of the things I have come to learn about happiness in my own life is that it is temporary. It is based on what is happening or going on in life. When things are going well, it's easy to be happy. There are various things that bring happiness- but I have learned to be careful, because things and circumstances can change all too suddenly.
The idea of just 'looking inward' to find happiness is a great concept. But I couldn't help but jump back in time just over 6 years ago to the last meal I shared with my little girl. We were eating Sunday brunch; enjoying a perfectly sunny, summer afternoon. Teagan was eating chocolate chip pancakes, when suddenly, without warning our lives were shattered, her life came to an abrupt end, and our happiness was shattered.
We hadn't taken our eyes off of our immediate state of happiness. We did nothing to deserve such unsettling, life-altering circumstances...yet they touched us in an ugly way and altered our lives forever.
It is out of such experinces that I have learned that while, yes, it is a nice theory, that happiness is just inside of us, the truth is that we are ALL broken people who live in a broken and fallen world. Our happiness is limited to the actions and courses of others who cross our paths, or simple the fallen state of this broken world in which we live. Which, at any given time can cause hurt, destruction, pain and shatter our happiness without warning. I am thinking just in the past few weeks of the MN bridge collapse which touched so many people are caused hurt and grief...I think of the deaths of the troops in a helicopter crash, or of my new friend Christine- whose young husband has brain cancer, or of the tornadoes and flooding in the midwest, the hurricanes and earth quakes. All sorts of 'acts of nature' or tragic accidents that struck without warning, innocent- maybe happy even, people.
{Okay. This is getting really if you're still reading, I thank you for staying with my thoughts and ideas here!}
I guess what I felt after watching those few moments of Oprah is that I can support the idea of everyone deserving happiness in life...and even support people trying to find it. But to think that it is something that simply comes from within us just didn't seem fair for me to accept as truth. So I write here, at Nitty.Gritty. to tell the rest of the story- to offer my perspective and insight. Because I think there are too many people that need to hear that there IS more to happiness than just looking inside.
For me, as I've mentioned before, there is the idea and reality of Joy and contentment. These two concepts are very different than happiness, but I would argue are worth seeking, far more than simple happiness because they have lasting impact. Happiness is often short-lived. It is a feeling we get when things go our way, or when something happens to create a sense of well-being, it is based on our immediate circumstances- whether they are affected by person, places, or things. I like to think that it is infinitely more important to have a sense of contentment and Joy inside- which I believe only comes through faith- because life really can't create happiness and bliss and euphoria for all of us all the time. It's not reality- as I have said, we live in a broken world. We can't control everything that comes our way.
But, we can determine to rise above situations and circumstances that threaten to steal our happiness, our joy, our peace...and in so doing, I think we find strength and it is this 'freedom' then, that we can live no matter what may befall us in this world- good or bad. {I wrote about this earlier this week.}
I hope that after all this, that something here makes sense- if even to one person who is seeking to understand happiness, contentment, joy and peace. Without faith, and looking to something beyond myself- something bigger than me- I know I wouldn't be living the life I have today. Teagan didn't sacrifice her life and happiness simply because she failed to look inside herself. No. I don't believe that for a second. But I do believe that her life has meaning and that her soul lives beyond what I can see in this world. To me, that brings comfort, joy and peace. My happiness has been affected- sometimes more than I ever imagined it could be...but my faith and Joy have not been shaken. I have looked deep inside, and I know that is a big part of finding real Joy. I have learned that I am one small being...but by leaning on God and handing Him the hurts of my life, I have learned therein lies the strength I have needed to live with happiness and joy. Not just on the good days. But everyday.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Yesterday my definition of bravery was tied closely to the idea of stupidity. It was a fine line. Here's what happened.
I decided to try online photo processing and spent much of the afternoon waiting for LOTS of pictures to get uploaded and then I placed an order to be picked up at my local Walgreens. Easy. That part was easy.
The part where it took some bravery was when I had to load up 4 young dinnertime...and tote them to the store and into said store to pick up my finished photos. I could have waited for Chip to pick them up for me on his way home from work. But that wouldn't have required much bravery or challenge on my part. The other factor here is that I am now a real-life obsessive scrapper at times. Pictures will make me do crazy things. Brave things. Not always the smartest get the picture. =)
I was actually fairly impressed with my young brood as we walked through our Walgreens. They did want to add some candy lipsticks and remote controls to my photo purchase...but I held my ground and stuck with the pics and a buy one, get one free hair color. Just the necessities.
To reward their good behavior, and to justify a trip to Walgreens for pictures at dinnertime, I took them all to Wendy's. Now THAT was brave. And if nothing else, I hope that it inspires some of you parents with fewer children than I, to go on brave outings in your own life. The chocolate frostys were worth it to me. By that part of our trip, my kids all thought I was "the best mom ever". =) I guess it's not a bad thing to be brave from time to time. The only thing I didn't get from that memorable outing was a picture of all of us. Being brave together!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Just a trial gig...

But I find it interesting. I added a little counter on the sidebar of my blog listing by city where some of you are reading from.
Brock is probably going to get into this new feature more than I am. It's probably a good thing for us to all start gearing our minds toward things like simple geography lessons, as school is just around the corner. Now if only I could get a counter to keep track of the number of loads of laundry I do per week at my house. Chip would see I'm not as big of a slacker mom as it sometimes appears that I am around here. =)
Good thing I don't keep log of minutes I spend blogging. It can't be all that much more than the number of loads of laundry I do. Or can it? =)
Have fun seeing your city/country scroll by!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The lazy days of summer...

I did some more {quick!!} scrapping today, as well as baking and just hanging out with my kids today. The summer is soon coming to an end and we're just having fun filling our time with simple, good memories. I know I'm going to miss the long, leisure mornings. There's just something in me and all my kids that loves staying in 'loungeware' for most of the day. =) But I also have to admit I love the thought of jeans and sweatshirts and fall flavors.

So we pulled out a recipe just to get us in the mood for crisp. Mmmmm. Ava was totally into it. Sweet memories indeed.

Flashback...old school.

I told you I was looking through 'old photos' this past weekend. I actually scrapped a couple of my senior pictures as I played with the latest goodies pictured here from the SIS Sonora High Class of '79 Collection. It's a whole bunch of really fun stuff, and I made a mini book so far. You can see all the pages here, if you like. Of course I had to make an owl too. =)
I was having flashbacks- good and bad memories all rolled together. That's what high school and growing up was for me. I really had some times that I wish I could change...yet I see how they have helped me become who I am now.
Good and bad.
The past really means so much more to me now.
It makes me stop and think. And reflect and choose direction for my present and my future.
I love that I have 'control' over the choices I make each day.
I love that each day is a new day. My friends- the SIS Fashionistas- and I were talking about this in some messages recently.
I spent time talking with my mom and dad when I was with them in Minnesota just a week or so ago too.
I think it is one of my passions in life. To live intentionally. To live with purpose. To live simply and yet to live a life of meaning.
I think it's what most of us would say we want in the end- to have lived a life that meant something. To someone or to something. To dedicate our lives, not to getting more stuff; to accumulating wealth and stauts....but to live a life that enhances the life of people and places we touch along the way. Whether it is a good cause that affects a lot of people, or whether we quietly encourage or mentor those in our small circles of life.
I fell asleep last night content. Content and with the understanding that good and bad happens. Good and bad touches all of us. Good and bad has shaped and will continue to influence my life. But I can choose to live in this moment- with Purpose. What an amazing, yet simple concept.
It's strange and almost out-of-body in a sense the way I 'see life' sometimes. There are days I live and enjoy the moment- almost as if the present is a 'flashback'. Losing Teagan has affected my perspective so deeply and it has shaped my present so profoundly. I miss the past at times, but because of that the present is such a gift to me. Her death, in some odd sense, has allowed me to 'glimpse my future'. I know that my kids are young for a short time and that one day, what I have right now- this moment- willl be just a memory. Thus, I live today almost as if it is my past....I am sensatized to my present in new ways. I live for each moment. Good and bad.
I have glimpsed my future and it has heightened the awareness of the present, and allows me to appreciate my past.
Good and bad.

Monday, August 20, 2007


This is Chip after he had been in the hospital for nearly a week after our incident in July '01. I was looking through some photos this weekend ("old photos"...the ones we have actually printed out from our film camera days) =) and that same day I got an email from Chip. It was short and sweet; really simple.
But the combination of that note and this picture struck me in a profound way and made me realize that I needed a reminder. Maybe you need the same one, which is why I am posting it here. That reminder is how often I miss opportunities to tell people around me how much I love and appreciate them in my life. Or even simply forget to look at how fortunate I am from day to day.
I feel like I do a pretty good job of loving my life and the people around me- but then again I know there is always room for improvement. It takes little effort to compose a three word email saying, "I love you" or "I miss you" or "I care alot"- and even less effort to hit 'send'. Yet I go days at a time without sending little notes or being thoughtful and sometimes I am even critical to people around me. {No lie...I'm not perfect and sometimes I gripe and complain and say hurtful things to people I care about!}
This picture is a reminder to me that although Chip's scars have healed really well and time has gone on since then, that there was a moment in time when things weren't so rosy and we nearly lost each other. We have stepped it up in that we love and care for each other deeply and we have been through a lot. But we sometimes still need little reminders such as this- taking those opportunities that come- or creating opportunities when it's been awhile (like going out on a date, giving your loved one a special card, or flowers for no reason other than you can...and you care) just to show in reality what is truly in your heart.
I remember how much pain consumed our lives and hearts when this picture was taken. What I see now when I look at this picture is how much I really cared. I care even more, years later. Looking back. Remembering. Being grateful and appreciating each moment.
Little things sometimes get lost in the hustle of life.
But it's often the littlest things that mean the most.
I love you, Chip.
In case you needed reminding today.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

How to look younger...get a haircut. =)

He wasn't thrilled to get his haircut...but school is coming and we had to do it. We're all getting used to it. And it's starting to grow on us. Pun totally intended. =)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Commercial break.

This is what we did during one of the commercial breaks last night in the middle of "High School Muscial 2"...a self-timer photo shoot in the masterbath. The light is best in there at night. In addition we could listen to hear when the show was about to come back on. So we didn't miss a thing.
Good times.
I am dreading the back-to-school bedtimes already.
This late-night "party-ing" is just so much fun!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Totally fun...

My kids and I are watching this right now. We were listening and dancing to the music of the first one off and on this afternoon. I don't know what age you're supposed to be to see this...but we're all laughing and having fun no matter.
That Disney. They know how to bring families together. One way or another. =)

So ordinary, yet...

My sister, Steph, already knows I'm the crazy sister, so she shouldn't be surprised that I am posting the picture of us in our wax lips. I just love that family time in my family involves lots of smiles, always good food, simple times- like swimming, going to a local zoo, shopping together and just doing ordinary things. I love that we can be ourselves and make memories at the same time.
I have been looking through a ton of pictures that I took while we were home in Minnesota, and I have to say, we are just an ordinary family...but I am so happy that 'ordinary' still adds up to such a great time for us. We don't have fancy cars or boats or glamorous homes or private beaches or big porches with giant swings to curl up in and enjoy the breeze, but I have to say, I love that we still enjoy life and appreciate the little, important things.
Things like being together.
Laughing at ourselves, our memories, our latest achievements, and loving the present moment.
Here's to simple things in life.
Simple things that make each day a treasure to behold.
I love that my sister Steph went along with my wax lips and posed with me this day...just to document one of these simple moments in life. She never would have done this on her it makes me happy that she did something fun for me and with me. A silly memory that will last a long time.
What are some simple things that make you happy in your own ordinary life? I'd love to hear some of your favorite moments- big or small. =) Happy Friday...happy making ordinary, fond memories!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

All or nothing.

Faith. It has been the one thing in my life that is both the hardest and easiest thing to understand. It has been the most challenging thing to put into practice, and yet it has been the one source of constant security too.
I believe in the Bible as God's Word to us, as people living in a sinful, fallen world. Many times people have asked Chip and I how we 'do it'...meaning how do we live with hurt and grief and have such peace and happiness in life. We have one answer- our faith in God and the commands and promises we claim through God's word.
Forgiveness toward the one who claimed Teagan's and Peggy's lives and altered so many others that tragic day in July '01 isn't easy. But it is a command throughout Scriptures...Jesus said, "love your enemies"...."forgive as I have forgiven you"..."be kind and compassionate to one another". There are more verses like these. Words that are hard to live out- to put into practice sometimes, but true nonetheless.
Our faith gives us hope and comfort and promises us a future where all our trials will make sense. It is this Hope of Heaven and eternity with God that makes the pains of our life bearable. One of the things that has been a driving force in our lives is the reality that we CAN trust God in ALL things.
I know it seems hard to believe, but I fully trust that God is who He claims to be- the Creator of this world; the Way, the Truth and the Life. He has promised that in this world "there will be suffering, but fear not, I have overcome this world". Even death. It is a choice to believe His words and it is a blessing to feel the peace and comfort that comes as a result of trusting in Him.
As Chip and I marked our 12th annivesary and were surrounded by family and friends and memories of where our lives began (including the yard where we were married, and some of the fondest final memories we have with Teagan in our lives) it was a reminder that we have grown and changed and become different people through the years. Life was good and full and held such promise for us. It was easy to live a life of faith that was hardly touched on any given day.
What we knew about God at that time....that He IS love, that He IS goodness, that He died to save us from our sinless state and offer us salvation and the promise of eternal life in Heaven with Him, was true then, but also is true today. We believed in His promises when life was going well. We have chosen to believe them in the hard times too.
While life has handed us circumstances that have been nearly overwhelming, they haven't changed God's love for us. They have made it hard to understand at times, but the choice to believe and trust is still there for us each day. I know from the outside some people have been amazed at the strength of our faith and the choices we have made and continue to make. To love God and to go on in life and seek happiness and joy in spite of heartache hasn't been easy. And yet it has. It's hard to explain, but really it is the one thing that sees us through. The good and the bad. The hurts and the blessings.
My faith is simple really. I see it as believing in God in everything or in nothing. Either He is who He says He is- or He's not. If He's not who He claims to be...if there is nothing more to this life than all we can see- well then life is a cruel and painful joke to our family. However, we have seen far too many 'coincidences' and felt an overwhelming sense of peace in our hearts, and the blessings that have come from our pain just keep flowing out of the choices we make. It seems to me that there IS more to this world than we can see. That's what faith is.
Believing in what we cannot see.
Even when it's hard.
Even when it doesn't make sense.
Even when the questions outnumber the answers.
Even when the future is unclear.
There is One who continues to make Himself known to us time and time again. It blows me away. It is humbling. It is amazing. It is unbelievable...and yet we believe.
To take credit for such faith and grace in life would be unfair. That's why I love to tell others about God and all He has done and continues to do in our lives. It is only because of Him that we are who we are. My hope and desire is that everyone who looks at us can see that. And hopefully it will inspire others to place their trust fully in Him. All or nothing. That's the best way I can explain my faith.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007 the Flower Girl~

This is just a sampling of the pictures I took at the wedding on Saturday. What a special and memorable day that was. In true Ferlaak family wedding style, the weather was a major factor, and was responsible for power outages and added a bit of stress to the day. But by mid-morning, things were going smoothly and Wyndham was in the beauty shop hair getting her curls done. She sat so nicely and watched part of Madagascar movie during the process. I recommend Kid's Hair in Woodbury to any parents that dread taking their kids for a new hairdo. The glitter spray that Wyndham had spritzed in her hair was the perfect touch. =)
As soon as she slipped into the dress and got her shoes and flowers, Wyndham just seemed to know that she was up to something pretty special. She pranced around and smiled almost nonstop the whole day. She definitely was enjoying everything about being a flower girl. The heat and humidity were the only things that added a little stress to the afternoon and evening. It was 90's and sticky outside....the wedding ceremony was outdoors on the golf course. Thankfully the airconditioning was going strong just inside the clubhouse.
These pictures sort of speak for themselves. Click on any one of them to see it see the smiles even brighter. =) It was a happy day. It was a fun day. It was amazing to see Wyndham hold up so well and to enjoy herself in such a busy environment. We could hardly tear her or Ava off the dance floor- even at 11:00 at night! They just didn't want the fun to end. The sugar from the cake and soda pop they had helped to keep them going, I think.
I have to admit I had some concerns going into the day. I wondered how Wyndham would do. I shouldn't have lost a moment's sleep. She held up like a pro. I only wished Teagan could have been physically there with us too. It would have made it one of the most perfect days ever.