one little word, 2013

Have you ever experienced a moment in your life, and known immediately that you were blessed by it? That it was something you would carry with you for the rest of your life? That many other moments would be judged by it?

2013 one little word

My life was filled with transforming moments in 2012, but none more than this…

On the day my grandfather passed away in November, I sat by his hospital bed and held my grandmother’s hand as she told him it was okay to go. That it was time for him to go be with his mama again. That she would be okay. That their children and grandchildren would take care of her and he didn’t need to hold on any longer for her sake.

It was without a doubt the single most unselfish act, love filled act I’ve ever witnessed.

And it gave me a whole new definition of love.

I want 2013 to be the year I focus on love. Loving others. Loving myself. Understanding where it comes from. Studying it. Steeping all I say and do in it.

In 2013, I want love to be at the core of everything.


If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains,but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3




Hark Blackboard SignThis has been a spectacularly un-crafty Christmas for me. I usually try to make a few gifts…or ornaments…or something and this year, it just hasn’t happened.

I’m okay with it – I have been striving for a simplified season, after all. And really, I sort of don’t have time or space to create. We have some changes coming after the beginning of the year…moving Tom’s office to the church and out of the house, starting Caleb at a new private school…and I’m intending to move my craft stuff into the home office.

This morning, the phrase “Hark! I hear the sound of reindeer hooves.” has been stuck in my head. It’s something I remember my grandfather saying every year on Christmas Eve,  just before Santa miraculously arrived at my great-grandparent’s home, always with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Honestly, he might have said it all of once…when I was five or six…but it’s stuck in my memory and something I wanted to share with my kids.

I love the chalkboard trend, and this treasure trove of tutorials and freebies made it easy to put together a simple little sign. I printed out a copy at home so I can put it up now, but I think I’m going to add it to my next batch of photos (because my printer does a horrible job). I added it to a red clipboard frame and it’s perfect.

No stress crafting? I could get used to this!




I want to cry.

I want to wail.

My heart is sick.

I can’t breathe.

I feel as though I am shaken to the very core of my soul.

I want to shake my fist at the sky and scream and ask God, “why?”.

Why, Lord, will there be at least 18 mommies without their little ones to kiss and read bedtime stories to again?

Why will there be more than 18 daddies who will never again be able to chase or tickle or hug their sweet kindergarteners?

And I wonder about those parents, and brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunt and uncles and friends who will feel this loss for the rest of their lives. How will they face tomorrow, when what seems like a bad dream today begins to become reality?

I think of teachers and administrators and school employees – doing their job, as so many of my family and friends who have answered that call.

I think of children, for whom school may never feel like a safe place again.

I think of first responders, who will live with this scene in their memory.

Why, Lord, why?

And I want to know, Lord, what breaks a person’s soul so deeply that destruction on a scale like this becomes a viable option?

No matter how deep our darkness, He is deeper still.”    ~Corrie Ten Boom

There are no easy answers. This story seems to get more distressing with every detail that emerges. There are no words that can bring comfort or even a good explanation.

But I am confident that God hears those that mourn. I know that He will bring a peace and a comfort that passes all understanding. And I know that He is good, even when understanding and sense eludes.

Side note: this message of Lee Strobel’s seems especially appropriate today, especially this thought:

“As that wise man once said to me: God’s ultimate answer to suffering isn’t an explanation; it’s the incarnation. Suffering is a personal problem; it demands a personal response. And God isn’t some distant, detached, and disinterested deity; He entered into our world and personally experienced our pain.”

And in that, I find great peace.

project life: looking forward

Cover Page


I started Project Life last year, full of good intentions…that lasted until about May.

I’ve been doing monthly pages since, and it’s worked out better for me. It’s more sustainable for me when it comes to the time I can give the project, and I honestly just don’t feel the need to document every little thing and scrap of paper that comes into our home. I also don’t have a dedicated scrap space anymore – I’m pushed into a corner of the library at the moment – and that makes a huge difference in what I can get done.

Week 4 Page 2

I love having this album to look back on, even though it’s still a month or two behind. I was peeking through it the other night and it’s even more special considering some of the losses we’ve had this past year (that I still need to document). That peek back also helped me realize I want to really focus more on people and less on stuff.

Week 9 Left Page

For 2013, I’m seriously considering going all digital and having photo books printed for each of the kids and one for us. I was considering a collage photo layout with a journaling layout per month, but I really love ease and framework the templates that are available and the childhood editions too. My tentative plan is to continue with a monthly layout, and possibly add in an extra two page layout for any special events, trips or holidays and maybe an extra one for family members in general.

Have you tackled Project Life this year? What are your plans for next year?

the Christmas I let go

I was reading through some old blogs this morning, and came across my Christmas Manifesto from five years ago.

And I have to say that five years later, I still stand by it.

This year, I’m continuing my search for simplicity and sustainability. Shopping is done, though I keep having this niggling thought that there’s one more gift I need. The house is decorated…mostly. That mantle still isn’t totally done and it might not ever be. We’ll survive.  I have a few plans for baking. Friday night, when Tom and the kids head to Fresno, I’m having a wrapping party with myself. The only big thing left to tackle is cards.

Right now, there’s a Pooh bear as an angel with my Grammy’s Nativity and a Matchbox monster truck near baby Jesus.

I’m going with it.

I never thought I’d call the holidays relaxing, but somehow they are this year. Even with 19 people eating Thanksgiving dinner at our house, it was easy. Christmas seems to be following suit.

And I am taking a deep breath, letting go and enjoying the season.

There will be some hectic days – two Christmas services at two churches in two days – but this is a very good place to be.

Pooh bear angel and all.

wordless wednesday (with words)…11.28.12

Somehow, Thanksgiving in our family has become somewhat synonymous with gaming.

It started with LAN parties and a bank of computers networked in Mom and Dad’s living room so many years ago I can’t even remember the game, with wires running everywhere. Headsets came along, and so did high fives.

Now, it’s a new generation and an XBOX, with Minecraft being the game of choice. And a little Halo 4, of course.

Some things don’t change.

I still had to work hard to shoo them outside and get the table set.

What funny unexpected traditions does your family enjoy?

somehow, Christmas

Somehow, we’re already counting down to Christmas.

It’s going to be different this year. Favorite faces are no longer with us, and that’s already painful. Tom is serving at two churches…which means two Christmas Eve services…which means I don’t know what Christmas Eve will look like for us. The kids are attending different schools, which means somewhat different breaks.

Somehow, the Christmas card is ready to print.

I’m in shock about that one. I decided to make it easier on myself and go with individual shots of the kids, rather than trying to force a family or just-the-kids shoot. Costco had the perfect card to put them on – almost like it was designed just for the photos I wanted to use. I just need to print and send, and it’s not even December yet. I’m feeling rather awesome about that.

Somehow, the shopping was easy.

Even on Black Friday. I’ve made notes all year long, drew up my list and budget and so far…it’s been pleasant. The best holiday decision I ever made was the one a few years ago to limit the kids to three gifts each. I still need an idea or two for them, but everything else – parents, nieces and nephews, even Tom – is done.

Somehow, the house got decorated.

Mostly. I have a couple of areas I just can’t get a handle on this year and I think a trip to Hobby Lobby might be necessary. Hanna was a huge help this year. Next year, I may just let her go with it.

Somehow, I know that Christmas spirit will be felt and even the different will be good.

a Christmas prayer

I was looking for something else this morning, and stumbled across this prayer for those who are living with the loss of loved ones this holiday season. We’ve seen so much loss this year – in our family and amongst our church – and it’s been on my heart this week as we transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I’ll be praying it often this year, for myself and for those around me, knowing that only Christ can give the peace, understanding and comfort that’s desired.

God of compassion, there is such a hole in my heart! Today should be a day of joy, but I feel only emptiness and loss. While the world celebrates around me, I remember Christmas celebrations of the past and I long to have my loved one with me. I bring my sorrows to you, Lord, like some odd gift of the magi and dump them at your feet. In my blind tears I wonder if anyone can possibly understand the depth of my sadness.

I know, you can. You sent your son to be with us in our deepest sorrows and I know that even though I might not feel it now, you are here with me, grieving with me, caring for me in my sadness. Dearest lord, help me to turn to the one I miss so much today and speak. Help me heal the loss of our parting and help me not to regret the things I didn’t say. Sorrow tears at my heart, but today I ask that my loss soften my heart and make me more compassionate with everyone I meet, so that my loss may become a gift to others.

~source unknown

Sunday: hope in God

Stumbled across this and it spoke to me…

Hope in God, for God will free you from your burdens or give you the strength to bear them. When we have faith in God, we are shielded from our enemies and the terrors of the night. To say “I believe in God” is to say we do not trust in our own strength but in the strength of God. It is most certain that God exercises a tender care for us when we abandon all our anxieties and fears to Divine Providence. Yet God desires that we do all that lies in our power to accomplish our tasks. Go ahead filled with courage, but go in simplicity. God wants us to use all the ordinary means to attain hope and trust.

-St. Francis de Sales

November 15: in my own skin

For so many years, I’ve been uncomfortable in my own skin. I’ve been the one behind the camera, behind the scenes, hiding.

This year, more than I can ever remember, I’ve found myself handing the camera to someone else…getting in the picture…feeling confident in my clothes and in myself. I’ve even posted a few self portraits. Full body self portraits that are unposed, unplanned and unedited. It’s crazy.

I know it has a lot to do with my weight-loss, but I believe it also has a lot to do with my paleo diet. I’ve lost weight before, but never felt this comfortable with my body and my emotions. I’ve had struggles, especially with the emotional losses I’ve endured these past few months, but I’ve also been able to find tools to help and to turn it around more quickly.

This is a very good place to be, and I’m so thankful to have finally make it here.