tis the season

Friday, August 31, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Change

Routine can be a mamma's best friend. Our children need it. They crave it. And so do we.

But sometimes, in our habitual routines, we get stuck in the little things. Taking the same route to work. Going to the same places for lunch. Listening to the same radio station. Talking to the same coworker.

The routine things can trap you and, before you realize it, the habits aren't so healthy anymore.

There came a point in my life where I realized this was true for my relationships. I am loyal - to a fault. Growing up with abandonment makes sticking by people a big deal for me. And I've kept people in my life that honestly weren't good for me. I had to change my perception of what loving someone really meant.

I had to change what I was doing and what I was hearing. Because what you hear changes everything. Being good at anything starts with listening. You can better love someone when you listen to what their actions are telling you they really need.

God made you to love and serve others in your own special way. There is a part of who God is that the world only gets to see through you. You can only live out that service when you drown out the noise around you and listen to your heart.

Just like tuning into a different radio station can change the mood of a morning. Turn on the positive. Love the person in your life who always complains or has drama from a distance and surround yourself with encouraging, uplifting people. Find that place where your heart is so fulfilled and the "music" is so right for the moment that you just can't help but sing at the top of your lungs!

Change what you hear and you'll change everything.

It's the best 5 minutes you'll spend today! 
Join us at Lisa-Jo's for 5 Minute Friday where we put write with reckless abandon!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Isaac Left Behind

I've spent the past two days indoors with my kids, and my dogs, and my cat.  That's 48 hours, people... 2880 minutes... 172,800 seconds. Indoors - no going outside to play, a walk around the block, or a quick trip to the store. Just us... all 6 of us... in this 1400 sq ft space.

The Stinson Family... Trouble (yes, he is), Jonathan, Precious (not so much), Sophia, & Bear 

We watched Isaac with anticipation. Where was he going & when was he going to get there? The decisions to declare a state of emergency and close schools was made early on. This could potentially be really bad. And for many, unfortunately, it has been.

It is with tremendous thanks and gratitude that I fill you in on what Isaac brought to our home....

1. Lots of reading & snuggle time by lamp light.

"Splendid Spotted Snake" is one of our favorites. 
We still haven't figured out how the dots change colors!

2. Our favorite foods at any and all hours of the day.

Egg in a hole... a Stinson tradition eaten at 1:00am. Waffle House who?

3. A long-overdue day with Gordon Ramsay.

Yeah, I'm a reality TV junkie. And a sucker for blondes. Especially ones with an accent that can cook. There isn't anything I don't love about this guy! I own it.

4. A dress-up dance party!

Beyonce's version of "Single Ladies" doesn't hold a candle to Sophia! 
She's got the hip action and hair flip down!

5. Captain Crunch treats (way better than Rice Crispies!).

Regular Captain Crunch, Chocolate Captain Crunch & Marshmellow Cream... enough said.

6. Lessons in taking the animals out to relieve themselves in a hurry.

I wasn't quick enough to snap that!

7. Long talks about being nice to each other and finger pointing.

I couldn't get out of being lectured by Sophia to snap this either!

In all seriousness, I am so grateful that everyone I know and love did not sustain any damage (except for feeling "soggy" from all the rain). It is so easy to become complacent and forget just how quickly these marvelous storms can turn into a disaster at our door.

I heard it said from my favorite meteorologist (Alan Sealls, WKRG 5) that we are "misled by technology". In today's instant information culture, we just assume that everything can be accessed and forecated with the greatest of precision and accuracy. The truth is that it just isn't that easy when it comes to predicting the path of a hurricane.

It's a game of hurry up and wait. Hurry up - prepare yourself with necessities and get somewhere safe. Then wait it out. Just like we do with so many of life's other challenges.

Thank you, Lord, for your protection and favor for yet another day.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Gifts That Hurt

I am a word girl - no doubt about it.

Words can hurt and heal. They lift you up and tear you down.

Whoever said "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me," has never been a teenage girl.

And there are some things that are hard to write and hard to say - even for someone who is blessed with the gift of words. That's what I have been struggling with all week.

I am in the middle of a fight. Even those closest to me don't know the extent of what I'm dealing with. I've been asked by legal council to document events & instances that are painful. And I just don't know if I can do it. I have never avoided a writing assignment like I have this one.

Once I put it down on paper then I have to acknowledge it and am responsible for doing something about it. When the pen meets the paper, then it becomes really, really, really real. That is so scary for me.

The process has been like cracking open a door just enough that I see what's inside and having all the junk spill out. The mess that I've tried to keep locked away and out of sight will soon be open for all to see.

It's ironic to me that the very thing God has blessed me with using to encourage others is also the thing that cuts to my soul. For weeks, I haven't understood how this is possible.

Finally today, my "Ah-Ha" moment has come. It's not my words that heal. The words are His. I'm just the vessel. The words of others get beside me because I put such heavy stock in their value.

The words used to hurt me aren't His words. The names and cruel things that have been said aren't who He says I am. So, why do I place value in the hateful spewings of another.

At the end of the day, what matters is who God says I am.... and He says I'm amazing! (and so are you)

Please keep me in your prayers. I have a long, bumpy road ahead.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Isaac's Invitation

A storm is brewing.

It's the price we pay to live in paradise here on Alabama's Gulf Coast.

My neighbors and I are no strangers to this. Year after year we hold our breaths from July to October.

A friend asked me, "What are you going to do when the storm comes?"

As I read the Facebook updates of Walmart craziness and watch the predictions with anticipation, I think of how this literal storm mirrors the other "storms" in life.

You know its coming. It's just a matter of when and what form the storm will take - financial struggles, health problems, heartbreak.

Do what you can to be prepared. Stock up on the batteries, bottled water, and candles. Board up the windows and protect yourself. I am a girl who likes to have a plan. I function much better when I have an idea of how things are going to play out. I like the illusion of being in control.

The reality is that I can't control most things in life any more than I can control where Isaac will move once he hits the warm Gulf of Mexico water.

What I do control is me. I control how I let the anticipation affect me. The storms of life tend to strip away the trappings. So I say, bring on the rain. Let the world do its best.

What am I going to do when the storm comes?

Hit my knees. Stay put. Ride it out. And know that my God will see me through the storm back into the sunlight and calmer seas once again, like He has done so many times before.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Join

You may think that the sidelines are a safe zone, but in reality not so much.

I know I have something to contribute. But I stay sidelined, standing just outside of the circle. No one knows that not being a part of is hard.

Instead of being part of a conversation with others, I am having a familiar one with myself.

Oh, I remember what the sideline zone feels like. Not sure of yourself. Battling with yourself for not being sure. A vicious cycle that keeps you cemented right where you are.

What can you do when that step to join in is hard to take, when you feel like you just can't?

Close your eyes. Lean on the One holding you. And move. Speak.

Join those living their calling, today, in this moment. Don't spend the gift of today dwelling on the regrets of yesterday or trying to make everything right for tomorrow.

Join the conversation. Say what you need to say. God has given you a perspective and words that He means to be shared and only you can do that in your beautiful way.

Don't keep it in - these things your meant to share. Your "art" - food, words, colors, numbers - is unlike anything that anyone else on this earth can share.

Step off of the sidelines and onto the playing field. It's your time for His glory.

We're gathering at the Gypsy Mama's house - come on over!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Being a Mommy

He’s the one who puts the empty tea pitcher back in the refrigerator. He’s the one who always hugs me before he leaves for school. He’s the one who has a stash of chewing gum in his bedside table that he thinks no one knows about.


He’s one of the few men who melt my heart. He’s at least 3 inches taller than me. He’s the child I wasn’t sure I wanted, but God knew I needed. More times than I can count I’ve watched him when he didn’t know I was looking & cried.


I remember him before he came, those months when he grew within and made me green with nausea. I remember laying my head against a cold window in the dark of night telling God I just didn’t think I could, and I didn’t know how a weary & broken girl could become the dwelling place of life.

Being a mother is anything & everything but easy. It is a vocation, a calling.

I came across his baby box while looking for something else tonight. I went through it and, after I had looked at everything several times, I just sat with the memories awhile. I don’t know when I’ll pass this way again. I pick up a worn Power Ranger. How can a dirty, used action figure make a mama hurt for all that time has taken away?

You’ve heard the story of the Velveteen Rabbit? My story as a mother is much like the rabbit's story. Made real by the years. Just the way grace can happen to you. It doesn't happen all at once, but eventually you become. And grace becomes you. Worn and weathered down to exquisite beauty.

It’s the threadbare simplicity, being softened and strengthened by the years. This mother keeps bending her worn knees with prayers that her child may walk straight paths.  And never ceases to pray for her own crooked heart.


Always reminding myself — Train up a child in the way he should go. Be ready to let him go and ready to forgive him. Extending the grace to him that has been given to me so many times.

Many times I forget that becoming the mother I want to be will hurt in a thousand ways. Today, as he left the house in the morning light for his first day of high school, I was reminded again. The weary and the wearing away is the most beautiful part.

These two children have made me sing and sob and they have made me know my sins and weaknesses. Strange, how it hurts and heals all at once.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Stretch

Stretching.... deliberate, intentional lengthening.

I've always meant to give yoga a try. I like quiet time, the focus. Many of my friends that practice yoga swear by it. So why haven't I done it?

Why haven't I done my own stretching.... reaching out of my comfort zone to try something new?

The only honest answer is fear. Fear of judgement. Fear of not fitting in with the group of lean and limber women that I assume will be there. Fear of not being good enough.

Doesn't it always come back to fear? Those things that you find reasons not to do. The words that you can't seem to say. Fear will hold you firmly in place.... but only if you let it.

I could use a good stretch. The burn and satisfaction of knowing I am going beyond what is comfortable.

Intentionally lengthening my reach. Unsure of what you'll think of me. Questioning how I'll be looked at and received. But confident in the One who gives me reach.

The God who spoke me into being is prompting me to reach. Who am I to question this urging?

This lengthening beyond the point where you are comfortable - this stretching - is intentional. The further you reach, the further He reaches through you.

We're linking up at Lisa Jo's place for Five Minute Friday - come on over!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The ABC's of Life

Things I Want To Teach My Daughter:
The ABC's of Life

It's been said by many that you'll learn everything you need to know about life in kindergarten. One of the most important things you'll learn early on is your ABCs. Here is a special version of the ABCs that I hope you'll take to heart.

My wish for my children is that they will always be:

Authentic... There is only one you and that's truer than true.
Brave... Step out and stand up.
Compassionate... Suffering is real. Fundamental love and kindness can change someone's world.
Dependable... Be the rock others can count on. You'll need a place to lean someday.
Edgy... Stay ahead of the curve.
Faithful... Steadfast and unwavering in your love and beliefs - in God Almighty and mankind.
Genuine... Let your actions and words always come from your heart.
Humble... The higher you rise, the harder you'll fall. Keep your feet planted on a solid foundation.
Intentional... Say what you mean & mean what you say. Every word and action has consequences.
Jovial... Your hearty, joyous humor and contagious smile are a light to the world.
Kind... The world has enough judgement & hate. Kindness is rare.
Logical... Cause and effect is a much simpler concept than we make it out to be.
Mysterious...Keep them guessing!
Neighborly... You share this earth with millions of other living creatures. Respect their space.
Objective... Emotions can cloud your judgement. Decide with your head, not your heart.
Patient... Everything will come in time - maybe not your time, but the right time.
Quirky... Your imperfections are perfectly beautiful.
Respectful... The journey of those who came before you deserves acknowledgement.
Selective... "One monkey don't stop no show." You can do without the negative people in your life.
Tactful... Take time to filter your words between your mind and your mouth. Speak with care.
Uplifting... Elevate those around you and you will never be lonely.
Vibrant... Your energy and light will brighten every dark place that it touches.
Willing... Act on the promptings of your heart.
X-pressive... Never let a kind word go unsaid or a good deed undone. Tomorrow may be too late.
Youthful... Hold on to wonder with the tightest grip possible.
Zealous... Pursue your dreams with an unrelenting resolve.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Where the Pieces Fit

I've been involved in a lot of planning lately - in my personal and work lives.

Planning is a good thing. I am a girl who likes to have a plan.

I think of it like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. I want to have a vision for what the big picture looks like - you know, like the picture on the box. It's easier for me to see where the pieces fit that way.

The other side of that coin is that the big picture can be overwhelming.... 1000 pieces is enough to scare me off. I'll just pick a simpler puzzle, thank you very much!

As I find myself in the middle of the week, with a lot yet ahead of me, I Stop. Breathe. Pray.

What is behind me and what lies ahead is in the hands of One that is bigger than I.

He will sort out the pieces of this puzzle - the corners and edges that make up the framework.

He will direct my path and answer my questions in His perfect timing.

I don't know all of the plans being made around me, how pieces fit together -

And that is okay, even for this girl that finds so much comfort in knowing.

Because, while I may not know the details of the plan,

I know the end result for me is a beautiful picture of blessings.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The World Needs You

Things I Want to Teach My Daughter:
The World Needs Your Point of View

My darling princess,

There is only one you.

Only you can see the world in the way you do.

And there is a part of who God is

That the world only gets to see through you.

As you travel down life's road

You'll see many things in different ways at different times - 

Relationships, circumstances, decisions and behavior.

When you get to one point in the road, 

You'll look back at where you last stood 

And find the landscape has completely changed looking at it from your new perspective.

And that's ok... actually that is a very good thing.

It means your growing and moving and learning.

Don't be afraid to share your point of view with world.

No one else can see it from the angle you can.

Be true to you and believe in yourself -  

Just as your heavenly Father and earthly mother believe in you!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Connect

I love the way we connect in this online space.

What a blessing and exciting opportunity to reach out to people without the limitations of physical distance to keep us apart. People that share your story. People that see your heart through your words. How miraculous!

It fascinates me how God, in all of His infinite wisdom, put us here together. He truly is bigger and beyond anything we can imagine. I sit here and type words on a keyboard and almost instantly you are reading them hundreds of miles away. It's really awe inspiring when you think about it.

My story is my own, as is yours. But there is a common thread. Another kind of connection...

In the story of every woman, there are threads of insecurity, hurt and fear woven into the fabric. Regardless of age, where we are in life today or where we have been. There is a connection.

If I told you about my messy house and how I feel guilty that I don't make more of an effort to keep it tidy during the week, you'd understand. When I say I lost my temper and snapped at my son, you will relate. As I tell you about my fears of not being good enough for one reason or another, you empathize.

Connection.... it's something we share and something we do.

And I'm so thankful that God has put us on this journey together and given us the tools to reach out and connect.

We're linking up at Lisa-Jo's site for 5 minute Friday... 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mean Girls

We're talking about things we want to teach our daughters... jump over here to start from the beginning.

Things I Want To Teach My Daughter: 
There Will Always Be Mean Girls

I think the one thing that breaks my heart more than anything is seeing women tear each other down.

Probably because it touches a nerve that runs deep. I remember all too well how mean girls can be and it seems that we just get taller and use bigger, sharper words with age.

My dear, sweet princess, girls that you care about and love are going to hurt you. Girls that you long to be accepted by are going to shun you. You will be snickered at and talked about. They'll laugh and point. They'll roll their eyes and talk under their breath.

And the reason is complexly simple - people who are hurting, hurt other people.

There is no easy way to navigate these situations. And there is no guarantee that it will get easier with age and experience. But one thing is certain, you will be stronger because of it. Don't let the pain harden your heart. The walls you build to protect yourself will become your prison. Love and forgive - over and over and over again.

And when you think you just can't - He'll help you do it again.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the heavens. 

You are uniquely and intentionally planted in this great big world for a purpose.

You are the joy of His heart and the apple of His eye.

There is a part of Him that the world only sees through you.

The God that flung the stars into the sky thinks you are astoundingly incredible.

And so do I!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Things I Want to Teach My Daughter

She is laying so peacefully beside me. This beautiful princess of mine.

Being a girl is hard. Being a woman is even harder. And having a daughter changes everything.

She doesn't know this yet. She doesn't know that other girls will tear her down just for the fun of it. She doesn't know that she'll be bombarded with images of what the world thinks is beautiful. She doesn't know that her heart is going to be broken or that love hurts.

She's trusting and spunky. Creative and eager. Smart and compassionate.

I want her to stay this way. And the question becomes what do I teach her so that her journey as a woman is easier than mine? What tools can I give her so that she is prepared?

This post is the beginning of a series - an idea I got from a fellow blogger. (Thanks, Lisa-Jo!) I've enlisted the help of other women and asked what messages they would impart to young girls. I am looking forward to sharing their wisdom...

Things I Want to Teach My Daughter: 
Beauty Is a State of Mind, Not Body

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
"Beauty is only skin deep."
"It's what is on the inside, not the outside, that makes you beautiful."

Our culture is full of sayings that send the message that we value a girl's heart more than her wardrobe. That her worth is not tied to a number on a scale or candles on a cake. But do we, females young and old, really believe this? Do we really live it and not just say it?

I'll lay truth on the line and own up to the fact that I have let myself go in the past few years. For one reason or another I have found myself in a place where I question if what's on the inside is any good. And my disarray on the inside has manifested itself on the outside. It all ties back to what I believe my worth to be. So this girl in the mirror and I have had a lot to talk about. We're in a better place and on the right track.

Then there is this little girl that looks at me with unconditional love for guidance and validation. She is beautiful - the very definition of it in any language. It breaks my heart to think that she could ever question her worth. That she would ever search for acceptance and love in the wrong places. That she would ever look in the mirror and wish to be something other than the imperfectly unique person she is.

And doesn't our heavenly Father feel that same heartache for us? Believing we must conform to what the world's idea of beauty is. Believing that we must be "less than" because we are single. Believing that our value and worth is somehow tied to a numeric symbol on a machine or a tag.

Oh, sweet girl, YOU are beautiful.

I am beautiful.

WE are beautiful!

"There could never be a more beautiful you
Don't buy the lies, disguises and hoops, they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do..."
(Jonny Diaz, "More Beautiful You")

Friday, August 3, 2012

Did I Miss Something?

The world can really wear you down. As I'm typing these words on a Friday night, I look back at the week gone by and shake my head.

Missed opportunities.... that has been a common theme in my life this week. I see them everywhere.

The one that sticks with me the most surrounds this Chick-fil-A drama. And it isn't my missed opportunity, it is that of the church and Christians everywhere. {yeah, I'm going to go there...}

I believe in equal rights for all - men, women, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, gay, lesbian, straight, etc. I believe in loving my fellow man. I believe in free speech, and I am grateful for the right to exercise it at even this very moment. I believe in God and walk closer to Him today than I ever have at any other point in my life. I know of His grace and mercy.

I watched Wednesday as millions of people lined up to spend their money funding hate and intolerance. The average Joe didn't know that is what he did and that wasn't why he went there. But that is what the end result is. {I encourage you to do some research on the organizations Chick-fil-A funnels your money to. I think you'd be as shocked as I was.}

Now I know that the large majority of those people weren't there in protest against homosexuals or gay rights. In fact, I feel certain that most were there in support of an issue or a cause - freedom of speech, traditional family values, or whatever soap box you stand on. And that issue became more important than showing God's love and kindness to our fellow man.

"Nobody knows what we're for only what we're against when we judge... What if we put down our signs, crossed over the lines and loved like You did?"... my favorite lines from a Casting Crowns song couldn't be more fitting. People on both sides of this issue spewing venom at one another is what I saw this week.

"Hate the sin, love the sinner" is preached behind pulpits every week. My observation is that the church is putting more energy into "hating the sin" than it is "loving the sinner" and yesterday was a perfect example of that. I don't know one homosexual person that felt the love on Wednesday. People were so quick and eager to jump on the band wagon, that they missed an opportunity to show God's love to the world. 

When issues and causes become more important than reaching people's hearts, something is terribly wrong.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Here

Here is where my heart is.

Right here....

In a house that mimics the disarray of my heart.

Among the carefully disguised and purposefully placed messes. I wouldn't want anyone to see them.

Surrounded with the sound of a little girl's feet stomping around as I search for the focus to write these sentences.

Being here - present in this moment - is what matters most. I can't dwell on a past I can not change. I can only do so much to impact the future. So the here & now is where I'll stay.

And, if you really think about it, the present is the most difficult and uncomfortable place to be. It is safe to dwell on yesterday because there is no risk. You know how this turns out. Tomorrow has not arrived yet and that makes it easier to lie to yourself about it and make it in your mind what you truly want it to be.

But the here and now is staring you in the face. The here and now is where the change of tomorrow happens (or not) and we are accountable for what we do with this gift of time.

I will never get this moment, this here and now, back again. So, I'll spend it focusing on how to make the next one better.

I will read that story book one more time. I will sing and dance with reckless abandon. I will love and give to others. I will trust and let go.

Here - in this moment - is where I will live.

We're linking up for 5 Minute Friday at Lisa-Jo's place... won't you join us!