Tuesday, December 27, 2016

~Aim Small Miss Small~

I'm sitting here at 7:00 in the morning, enjoying the peace and calm that Christmas break affords me.
Kids are sleeping and Brad just left...full day of surgery. He also, as of a few minutes ago, is OFF CALL. ...always a good thing.

I'm sitting here with my coffee, mulling over New Year's Resolutions. Historically, I have had a love/hate relationship with resolutions aligned with a certain day of the year.

The love part is that I'm a firm believer in
fresh starts
new beginnings
and the idea of "keep on keepin' on."

The hate part is that I have this weird fear of commitment combined with a deep rooted loathing of failure. <--See what I mean? It's a bit of a conundrum for me.

That being said, I've got a few things I want to work on,
some new points of focus
some things I want more of
some things I want less of

So...I've decided that 2017 and I are going to have some new agreements, a couple fresh goals.















One of the reasons I love a picture is because it freezes a moment.

It allows me time to memorize expressions, to actually feel the warmth in an ordinary moment.

Ordinary where it's at.

It's not glamorous but it's where the real you is revealed, exposed, and uncovered. Behind closed doors, with your family, with "nobody"watching, that's the real you.

That truth can be exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time, right?

I love it.

"Aim small, miss small."

This is something I've been pondering for a few months.

Something the Lord's been branding on my heart.

The more finely tuned I'm focused, the less likely I am to miss.

The circle of things that really matter to me continues to get smaller and smaller.
There is such freedom and simplicity that comes with
releasing things that aren't important,
eliminating distractions,
and being all in right where you are.

So wherever you find yourself, be all there. Doesn't get any better.
~stacey



Thursday, October 13, 2016

~TurksRecap~

I am chronically behind these days.
("behind" as in not caught up. I am not a chronic "behind" in the noun sense of the word.....at least I hope not..maybe I should ask my family to be sure) :-)


Lately I've felt like every waking hour is spent moving, teaching, emailing, working, thinking, doing...to the point of feeling like I'm accidentally missing parts of life in all the madness.

So. I've become more conscious of stopping for short little bursts throughout the day.

Taking the time to
look at the sky,
to water my mums a little slower,
to watch my kids.
Avery, Emma, and I ate our lunch on the side stoop Wednesday and walked around the neighborhood without.....
wait for it.....
WITHOUT my phone.
You heard it here first. I left my phone on the counter for a 30 minute walk out in the wild.
Though I did text Brad where I was going in the off-chance that someone kidnapped us or we succumbed to a wild dog. It was freeing and not at all dangerous.

Blogging has been an outlet for me, a place to get things off my chest, and a way to record a little of our life for the last 8 years or so. But...as this season would have it, I find myself at my computer less and less.

I have had books made out of a years worth of posts, but guess what?!
I'm like four years behind. Shocking, I know. Will get around to it. maybe.

So, here I am, about to recap our recent family trip to the beautiful Turks and Caicos Islands.

Emma kept saying we were going to England.
TCI being an English territory (God save the queen) was apparently very confusing for her.

Anyway, for what it's worth, I learned a few things.


-) Sometimes last minute plans are the very best plans.

-) A beach trip is the most...and possibly the only truly restful vacation there is.
you go
you sit
you read
you eat
you sit
you sleep
you swim
you smile
you eat
(unless you have little bitty ones, then everything is work no matter where you are...which is why when mine were little bitty, I happily stayed home...no trip could tempt me)


-) An all inclusive ( at least at Beaches Turks and Caicos) is pretty awesome. It exceeded my expectations in every possible way.
Being there in the off season definitely helped....the Walls don't care for crowds, so getting there only to find out that we were there at a time that the resort was only about 25% occupied was an unexpected bonus.


-) The people there who took care of us (mostly Islanders, Jamaicans, and Haitians) were incredible.
Lifeguards sang as they walked,
our server at Kimonos danced to the songs the chefs sang
"Roof", the chef at Neptunes, laughed with us as he prepared the best swordfish I've ever eaten
Malissa and I are now facebook friends. She's 17, is absolutely beautiful, smart, and attentive
The jovial security officer insisted that the girls sit on his four wheeler
The scuba instructor was built like Mr. Incredible
Their smiles were easy and I would like to go back just to people watch

Everyone there made us feel like we were at home. I don't know how they did it.

-) Almost 15 year old boys think they are big enough to just take off whenever they get the notion to, and roam the place like they owned it. They don't care if they miss all the photo ops, they prefer it that way, actually. I got to practice letting go a little. ...definitely was a learning experience.

-) Not having to carry beach towels was huge....considering that we used 5, 287 while we were there.

-) I saw a Mom in a pool chair, completely lost in her phone for at least 15 minutes.
Her little ones came up to her twice, and she barely looked up.
Her husband came over with a gentle appeal, "Honey, you've been on that phone forever."
She was a little disgusted as she put it away with a huff.
"I was just reading!" she said.

***DON'T BE THAT PERSON. ***
Whatever you are "reading" is so not worth it and you miss so much.

-) I could've left my big camera at home. I think I used it twice.
Make allowance for some sort of portable, quick, easy, waterproof way to take pictures if you are headed to a water-full getaway. Sometimes blurry 12 megapixels instead of "perfect" 18 megapixels is a better way to document a trip.

-) Snorkeling makes me sea sick. Can you believe that?! I tried for five minutes, thought I was going to loose my lunch, so I headed back to the boat to wait with the big islanders who were keeping an eye on the snorkelers.
Pathetic but true.

-) Wearing Orphan Aid Liberia shirts are great conversation starters. We had no less than 12 people ask us about them. One guy was from Liberia...so cool.
Spreading some LOVE. was fun.

-) Apparently diving is peaceful.
I wouldn't know because I didn't do it.
Jake and Brad are fans, though.

-) Reese had an orthodontic appliance malfunction that resulted in a HUGE ulcer and swollen cheek. Dr. Cline and his staff are awesome. We face timed and they walked Brad through how to fix it. Being in need of medical care and NOT being in the States is an unnerving situation.
We were able to scrounge up some Orajel and she was better in no time flat.
This was one thankful Mama.

-) I was under the impression that hurricanes never hit the Caribbean.
Yeah, well apparently, that's not true.
Was happy to be there and back before Matthew showed up.

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video


...and as I sit here, cozy in my bed, listening to Brad go over physical science with my 9th grader in the kitchen... 
I am SO incredibly thankful I married a math/science guy.
because otherwise, my kids would be hosed in this department.
Thank you, Bradford.

~stacey

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

~BeATruster~

For all you Mamas who think the "witching hour" will cease to exist when your kids pass the age of oh...let's say about four...

yeah, no....hate to be the bearer of bad news but

nope.

do not be deceived

the witching hour never ends, as far as I can tell.

So, gird your loins.

you have YEARS of this fun time of day to excel in.

we, in this household,  are way past the season of "littles" and we aren't fully in the season of "bigs"

 so I have decided we are solidly in the land of the "middles"

past diapers, baby food, and full on tantrums,

but not quite to driver's licenses, boyfriends, or jobs.

Supper tonight with all six of us around the table (what a blessing!) was a conglomerate.

The conversation included, but was not limited to:

test anxiety

cute boys at school

that time when you puked at Dunkin' Donuts

real time gagging while trying to swallow mashed potatoes

a recent lost tooth

an ear ache

having to go back to the hospital

the not wanting to do science tonight

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I just sat there like a bump on a log.

All I could think was how much I loved these people and all their words but at the same time, how ALL that I wanted in the whole wide world at that very moment was to get ear plugs, shove them in my ears as deep as they would go and completely dismiss myself from everything human.

See, I'm an introvert....and I can't recall the last time I was alone for more than 12 minutes. (which is a p.r.o.b.l.e.m.)

I don't often get to the point of loosing my mind but this evening I was there for about 15 minutes.

Guess what?

I think the Lord knew and helped me out.

Kids are upstairs and have been silent for 30 minutes or so.

Brad, though I would never wish this on him, had to go back to the hospital.

His job is WAY harder than mine and I just told him before he left that I realize that there are more broken things than he could ever fix and I acknowledge that he is "it on a stick"....because he really is. He never quits.

...as I sit here alone, my fall candles burning, in complete quiet, he is still working. ...thank God for good men.

In stark contrast to a man who just keeps his head down and is a rock,

All day, I've been stewing over the repeated realization that I CAN'T MAKE MY KIDS HAPPY.

That's an easy thought to digest when your kid is five and is mad because he can't have a lollipop.

It's a different matter all together when you're talking about life altering decisions, self esteem, friend groups, dating, abilities, talents, wow.

I've made peace with the reality that this parenting thing is not for the faint of heart

and it just has to be okay if I have to revisit issues from time to time til I'm 70.

The bit about not letting your children's woes completely ruin your day and attitude, yeah....that may be one that I have to come back to over and over again.

This life, this messy, far from perfect crazy life is an absolute blessing.

Things don't always go as planned, some things may not turn out right, and I can't control people around me or events that happen.

BUT!

I can absolutely decide to be a life giver and not a life taker.

I can be a worry wart or I can be a truster.

My sweet grandmother, whom everyone knew her as "Ma", lived to be 103 was such an example of a life giver.

She lived just beyond our pasture and I would often go sit with her just to visit.

She was a mother, and mothers carry anything and everything.

She had children, grands, and greats, scattered everywhere, making all sorts of different choices, none of which she could control...I can hear her now, after she would share a little of her worries:

"Well, I just can't worry about it. It'll all come out in the wash. Some will be a little more wrinkled than others, but it will all come out."

I want to be like Ma.

Live. Smile. Find joy in all the imperfections. Be fully in the present. ...it's a good place to be.





~stacey

p.s. that was a whole lot of rambling about nothing. thank you for indulging me. ...sleep well...I think now I will go finish watching "Count of Monte Cristo" If you haven't seen it, WATCH IT. such a great old movie.









Saturday, October 1, 2016

~Living~

The problem with fall break is that I don't want it to end...

so much so that I'm staying up WAY later than I should tonight in false hope that I can make it stay.

I'm in complete denial that we are in fact...back to reality. (which I love but you know...)

We have one more little shindig planned for tomorrow to cap off a wonderful week of respite. 

Fall break didn't used to be a thing but let me tell you, it is quickly turning into one of our favorite school breaks.

Who am I kidding.....any break from school is my favorite. 

In fact, whichever one is closest is my favorite.

Before a trip, whether big or small, I'm Nervous Nelly. 

Between the planning, the packing for all my people, the cleaning the house before we leave, the pushed down anxiety about what could go wrong, I don't let myself look forward to any part of a vacation. It's weird, I know, but just one of my things. 

As a matter of fact, I've been known to not want to plan anything "big" for fear of something going wrong.   <---That sounds even crazier as I read it typed but it is 100% true. 

But! As God's mercy and my own maturity would have it, somewhere along the way, I've come full circle and decided to not be afraid to plan...trusting that God holds my future...the easy parts and the hard stuff. 

I've made peace with if something terribly unfortunate happens, we'll just have to roll with it. 




Don't let fear stop you from living. 
Worry can't change your past, it is powerless to affect tomorrow's events, and it absolutely, is 
100% guaranteed to thoroughly ruin your present.




"If you've got pain, He's a pain taker.
If you feel lost, He's a way maker.
If you need freedom and saving
He's a prison shaking Savior.
If you've got chains, He's a chain breaker."

-Chain Breaker (my current favorite song that I just can't get enough of)

~stacey



Sunday, June 26, 2016

~Charleston&IsleOfPalmsOnTheiPhone~


So this weekend away with just your spouse concept is actually a pretty good deal. 

It can be adjusted to fit any budget, schedule, or season of life and is one of those things that really should fall in the "marriage maintenance" category. 

Fundamentally, I don't believe in "I gotta' get mine" or 
"Look out for the big #1" 
or "I'm going to do whatever makes my happy". 
Selfishness is a lose lose scenario for life in general.
However, a little team selfishness 
when it comes to you and your spouse is a good thing. 
There should be a FIERCE PROTECTION OF and a
CONSISTENT INVESTMENT IN your marriage. 
Protection indicates attitudes and choices…
investment indicates time, priority, and care. 

As it relates to marriages or child-rearing, well meaning people who want to salve their consciences, boast that quality time is the critical issue. When in reality, as my parents have said for as long as I can remember, 
~YOU MUST HAVE SUFFICIENT QUANTITY IN ORDER TO HAVE REAL QUALITY~

This idea is what dictated how much time we spent in extra-curriculars growing up because my parents were committed to having enough quantity because they so desired strong quality.

I suppose to some degree quantity is relative, and how much is enough will vary but I would venture to say that if your quality is lacking, you might should take a look at whether or not you are giving adequate time, energy, and effort to the relationship in question.

So on to our three day sneak away to Charleston and Isle of Palms. We decided we were going somewhere a couple weeks ago and only booked it two days before we left. 
Weird but true.
I love this charming town because it is rich in history, there are hundreds of great restaurants, it's absolutely quaint, it's on the ocean, the natural beauty is endless, old plantations with huge live oaks are everywhere, and a lot of The Notebook was filmed here….what's not to love?!
Everyone should go if at all possible. 




This is my bridge. Mine in the sense that it is my favorite that my eyes have seen for themselves so far. So, technically, I guess "favorite" is subject to change. 
It absolutely amazes me that someone 
has the know-how to build 
something of this magnitude IN the water 
that will not fall over 
when ships go under it, 
thousands of vehicles go over it, 
and storms go through it. 
Blows my mind. 






Conservative estimates have this oak at 500 years old. 
This picture doesn't do it justice. 
It looks like something out of a fairy tale. 








USS Yorktown. 
Anything like this just about makes me cry. 
The sacrifices made for our freedom become tangible when you walk through the belly of a ship that held the men who faithfully manned their posts and were willing to die in order to defend our country against any enemy. 
~Sobering~










~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I had absolutely worn the man out with pictures and selfies. He is a "live in the moment" kind of guy and I am a "I want to have pictures to look back on so I can reminisce" kind of girl. 
He had stopped, smiled, set the timer, and held the phone all that he could stand. It got to be a joke as it always does…until finally, this last one. 
I'm like a kid in Toyland in this town.
We were headed to the truck to leave when we came up on this street. I gasped.
"Brad! Look at those cobble stones! I wonder how long this street has been here?! Look at those buildings! Hang on, just one more picture of just the street…not us, just the street, then we'll go."
Because he knows my "perfect 10" is history and pictures, and because he is sweet, he happily stops, acts like he is equally enamored with the pretty street, 
grabs the phone and tells me to stand there, because "pictures are better with people in them".
Then I laugh because I'm so awkward standing alone while holding the t-shirt I just bought behind my back so he, being sweet, says,
"Come on, let's get a selfie…I know you want one."
and we both laugh because it's ridiculous but it's not.
It's the dance of compromise.
A dance that every marriage should know.










Every alley in Charleston looks like the Magic Garden. 
You really want to open the gate and take a deeper look but you're scared you'll encounter a dog or get arrested, 
so you don't.

…because everyone needs a weird selfie where you get tickled because his hair is so long and is blowing so badly  in the wind that it takes you to hold it down 
with your apparently non feminine, NBA sized hand.







…so the moral of the story is…
make the best of what you've got
invest in the ones closest to you
try like heck to get away alone with your person every once in a while...even if it's just for 48-72 hours
try to be a giver not a taker 
in your marriage
in your friendships
Oh. and go to Charleston.


~stacey