Gratitude

 

Gratitude
Gratitude is a powerful word! Today I would like to inspire you to be grateful! It’s so easy to get caught up in everyday activities and stress that we often forget to stop and be grateful for even the smallest of things. I am home recovering from knee replacement surgery. It’s been a week and yesterday I woke up feeling grumpy and frustrated. As I lay back in my bed after putting ice on for the 100 billionth time in a week, I looked to my left and the sun was shining in so bright and beautiful,  I felt guilty for being so grumpy! I pulled out of it immediately. I remembered despite everything, I had so many things to be grateful for. God puts so many things in our life, we just have to stop and remember! What are you grateful for today?

Snapshot Moments

Life has been moving at breakneck speed around our house since the beginning of September, especially for Eldest. In addition to her twenty plus hour a week competitive marching band schedule and a very challenging course load at school, she has been working on early admissions to colleges.   Some days I feel as if I’m barely keeping all of our heads above water with the day-to-day demands of life.

The other night I was feeling like the day would never end. It had been a long day of work, after-school activities, homework, dinner prep and clean up, lunch making and laundry and I just wanted to sit down when Eldest let us know that we would be needed for proofing her college application essays. The Mister and I exchanged glances and knew that there would be no relaxing on the sofa catching up on our favorite TV shows that evening or probably for the next few nights.

Friends have told me how busy senior year is and that it is over in the blink of an eye and I am beginning to understand what they were talking about. The past two months have disappeared like a vapor and I have hardly had a chance to catch my breath between activities. Back to school nights, school conferences, Homecoming, band performances and more have flown by!

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Last Marching Band Performance at a Football Game

So as we all gathered in the living room together, pouring over her college essays, I realized we had spent more time with Eldest this week working with her on these college applications than we had in a long time. I started getting emotional thinking about the fact that a year from now, she would be gone. In the midst of my weariness and feelings of being overwhelmed with life, I found myself feeling so happy and content in that moment. It was just an ordinary weeknight at home together, but I would cherish the memory of this night. Staring at Eldest, her youth and the excitement of so many wonderful opportunities ahead of her in life, yet still always my little girl, my heart was happy, yet melancholy. I said a silent prayer of thanks to God for the gift of this child no longer a child but a young woman.

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All grown up!

I tried to remember the words of my older, wiser sister Jules who said, don’t be sad when they leave because they come back and give you grand babies one day! I see Jules enjoying that stage of life and realize this isn’t the end, only the beginning of a wonderful life of many “snapshot moments”, these tiny snippets of time with our loved ones that we hold on to and cherish all of our days.

I’m happy to say all college applications were completed this weekend, now we can all breathe and relax a little-oh wait, now I need to start birthday shopping and planning for Little One’s December birthday and Christmas! It’ll be okay; we are just collecting more “snapshot moments” for the memory books!

I wish you a great week and some special “snapshot moments”.

~Blessings,

Jen

The Time Is Now

Jules and I have been trying to plan a girls getaway with our Mom for years! We have never been away together, just the three of us, so this summer we finally did it!  Better late than never!  It was everything we hoped it would be, full of shopping, good food, fun and laughs.

It wasn’t easy to get away, with trying to coordinate schedules, childcare, a dog sitter and spending time researching the perfect destination, but it was worth it to see this smile on my Mom’s face!

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That strange man behind us is not a creeper, he is our brother who joined us on one night to celebrate my Mom’s birthday!  We decided on Mackinac Island as our destination.  As “Michiganders”, we have been there many times, but it never gets old and I always seem to see or learn something new each time I go, not to mention the scenery is stunning and the homemade fudge sold all over the island is worth every decadent calorie!

This post is a little photo heavy, but for those readers who have never been to Mackinac Island, I wanted to give you a glimpse of what a neat place it is!

The Mackinac Bridge connecting the Upper and Lower Peninsulas

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The Grand Hotel

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Arch Rock

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There is a beautiful butterfly garden on the island.

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A little selfie fun on the boat ride to Mackinac Island!

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So blessed!

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I saw a saying recently on-line that said if you are waiting to find the “perfect” time to do something, it will never happen.  There will always be barriers to finding the “perfect” time or a reason why something won’t work.  We waited a lot of years to go on this trip with our Mom and I wish we would have done it long ago.  It was such a special, memorable time and I can’t wait for our next outing!

So if you have been thinking about doing something special with someone you love, whether it be just a girls weekend, a getaway with your Mister or a family vacation, NOW is the time.  We would love to hear about your adventures in the comments below.

~Blessings,

Jen

 

Angels Around Us

For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully. Luke 4:10

Our family spent the 4th of July holiday at one of our country’s famous landmarks, Thomas Jefferson’s home Monticello.  Monticello sits tucked away majestically at the top of a high hill in Charlotesville, Virginia.  This is one of my favorite areas to visit as the scenery is lush, green and stunning and the opportunity to learn about one of our country’s founding fathers is not to be missed.

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As wonderful as our visit was to Monticello, what happened after we left was the real miracle of the day.  We stayed until it closed at 6:00 and then started out on the trip back to Washington DC about 3 hours away.  About 20 mins. in to our trip we decided to stop for dinner, which was when the Mister realized his wallet was missing.  After tearing apart the car and searching high and low, it was nowhere to be found.  He thought maybe he left it on a bench he was sitting on right before we left.  He had taken it out to give Oldest some money for the gift shop and that is the last time he remembered having it.

We realized we needed to quickly head back to Monticello in the hopes that maybe a cleaning crew or someone would still be around.  I tried calling and only reached a voicemail.  It is distressing enough to lose your wallet, but the Mister had some very important ID cards in his wallet which added to the stress. The whole 20 minute drive back to Monticello, I silently prayed that the wallet might be where we left it or a good samaritan found his wallet and turned it in.

We rushed back and to our disappointment discovered the entrance at the bottom of the drive was blocked with orange cones.  Desperate to get the wallet back, the Mister drove around the cones (you didn’t hear it from me!) and we drove up to a large white gate which was closed and locked.  There was a man and a woman standing near the gate looking at us.

The Mister suggested I ask if they worked there although they did not look like they did as they were dressed in casual street clothes.  When I inquired as to whether they worked there, the man said the woman did.  We explained our dilemma and she said we could try calling security to see if they found the wallet during their check of the premises upon closing.  She then proceeded to point out a sign on the gate with a phone number on it.  We would never have noticed the sign with the tiny phone number printed on it if she hadn’t pointed it out to us.

We called the line for the security officer and Praise God, they had his wallet!  Someone had found it and turned it in.  As I was talking to the security officer, out of the corner of my eye I saw the man and the woman linger by the fence for a bit then climb over it and head up the path to Monticello and disappear.  When the security officer opened the gate to have us drive up to get the Mister’s wallet about 3 mins. later they were nowhere to be seen.  With the wallet safely tucked in the Mister’s pocket and thankful hearts, we headed back home.

Later, as I was re-telling the story to my Mom, it struck me as very odd that those two people happened to be standing at the gate right when we pulled up.  The whole place was deserted, not a soul around except that man and woman.  My Mom and I read an awesome series by Karen Kingsbury called “Angels Walking” and it made me stop and wonder if that man and woman might indeed have been angels!  We never would have found that phone number if the woman hadn’t pointed it out and right after they helped us they just climbed over the gate, walked up the path and were gone.

I will never know for sure whether it was just two helpful people or God’s guardian angels sent to assist a family desperate to recover a lost wallet.  Some people might call it a coincidence or “luck”, but I know it was an answered prayer.  So many amazing miracles are all around us every day, we just have to keep our eyes open to look at them.  One thing I do know for sure is that God is always with us, watching over us, caring for us and loving us and I find such comfort in that knowledge.

How about you?  We would love to hear any “angel stories” you might have.

~Blessings,

Jen

A Mother’s Care

Happy Summer! I am officially on summer break this week so hopefully you will see a lot more action on this blog!  Jules and I still continue to battle some health issues, her recent being pneumonia and I am four weeks post-surgery for my foot injury.  We thank you for your patience at the sparse posts but we hope to be back with lots of fun and inspiring ideas to share with you!  Just a teaser-Jules has been working on some pretty inspiring fairy gardens so stay tuned for pictures and directions for an enchanting project!

I’m happy to say the surgery for my foot injury is behind me (for more details on the injury click here).  Hopefully I will be done with the walking boot in a couple of weeks and can move on to physical therapy and be as good as new.  I’m trying to see beyond the temporary inconvenience of this injury and look ahead to days of health and healing but it has been hard to be patient.

I have learned many things through this challenge, one of the biggest being how  important encouraging words and acts of care are to someone under the weather.  I think I knew this on some level but until I actually experienced it first hand, I don’t think I really “got” how important and meaningful it is.  The encouraging e-mails, messages, visits and prayers I received before and after my surgery really helped brighten my day, made me smile and brought me so much comfort.

I realize now how much this means and I want to be better about doing this for others.  It only takes a second to send a message or make a phone call and it can really help to offer hope and cheer to someone who is feeling down.

Were you wondering when I was going to get to the point of the title?  Due to circumstances of the Mister’s work, he couldn’t be with me during my surgery.  My brother and Mom were able to be with me and then my Mom stayed to care for me afterward.  We have mentioned before about my Mom’s health issues, so I think she was feeling pretty good that she was on the caring end of things this time.  I was so thankful for Mom being here and the time we spent together.  There is just nothing like a Mother’s care and I was so comforted by her presence and help following my surgery.  She knew what I needed before I even had to ask.  We spent the days of recouperation talking, watching Hallmark movies and just hanging out.  I thank God daily for my Mom and the time we are able to spend together, as I get older, I realize deeply what a blessing this is. Here she is with Little One.  Thanks Mom for all of your help!

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I apologize for this post being a bit rambly!  I hope these words might inspire you to reach out to someone you know who is going through a health issue.  Even if you can’t be a caregiver like my Mom was to me,  taking the time to send a message, card or pick up the phone to say hi will surely brighten their day.

~Blessings,

Jen

Just Do It Anyway

Hi All,

It has been a while.  Jules and I continue to deal with our own unique health problems which has taken up much of our spare time lately.  We appreciate you not giving up on us!  I have been thinking about this blog post for a while and I have been wanting to write about one of the most inspirational people I know in my life, my Aunt Mary.  Aunt Mary turned 90 last year and you would never know it.  Here she is taking her new birthday present for a spin-yes she cuts her own grass, changes the oil in her car, does more yard work than Jules and I put together just to name a few things.

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She is truly an amazing woman!  She has been on her own for many years after losing the love of her life, my Uncle Henry, when she was quite young.  The fact that she has more energy than most people much younger is impressive, but what I find truly inspiring is how she uses that energy.  She regularly visits many elderly folks in her community and drives a friend who cannot drive to church and takes her grocery shopping.  She also faithfully visited and brought dinner to my Uncle Claude who we recently lost this winter.  I remember talking to her about this at his funeral and she said, “You know, it wasn’t always easy to visit and make conversation with him because he was so quiet, but I did it anyway.”

This really resonated with me because I realize how often I shy away from doing things, or visiting people because it might be hard or slightly uncomfortable.  I know those visits meant the world to my Uncle Claude and I’m sure he appreciated the time she took to just sit with him and chat.  Her spirit of “doing something even if it is hard”, is something I want to imitate in my own life.  Thank you Aunt Mary for being such an inspiration!

How about you?  Do you shy away from doing things that are hard or uncomfortable?  What is something you have wanted to do but avoided?  We would love to hear from you!

~Blessings,

Jen