Snow Day Love

IMG_1267

My sister-in-law sent me this today and I thought it was such an incredibly cool picture, I needed to share it with you!  A perfectly shaped leaf heart laying gently in the snow!  We have been hit here in Michigan this week with a big snowstorm that left us with two very much appreciated snow days home from work and school.

There is just something about the feeling of anticipation of a snowstorm coming and the possibility of a snow day!  I am a teacher and the workplace atmosphere on Wednesday was nothing short of kids on Christmas Eve as we all discussed the possibility of a snow day!  People checking their messages, waiting for the call-would they call it the day before or wait until the morning?  Peeking out the window watching the snow blow by and seeing the cars creeping by on the road-a sense of excitement mixed with anxiety over the worsening weather conditions.  Parents picking up their kids early from school to get home before the storm worsened. Sneaking a peek at the weather channel on our lunch breaks.  If we knew the night before that school was cancelled -we could turn off our alarms and blissfully sleep in to our heart’s content!  I could hear the whoops and screaming from my desk before I even saw the message!  School was canceled!

We just needed to brave the trip home, as we dreamed of jumping into our pjs and staying in them the whole next day, curled up on the sofa with tea and hot chocolate, catching up on TV shows, reading and watching movies (as a type A person who can’t sit still that long, I have to admit I got all of my laundry done and cleaned the house-not exactly a dreamy snow day but I felt great about getting caught up-since we actually got two snow days!)

So when my sister-in-law sent this picture to me I thought it was a perfect symbol of what a snow day means to those of us in the north!  A small, perfect reward for enduring the long, cold days of winter, a mini-vacation, a chance to be cozy and snuggle with our loved ones!  Snow day love!

I hear there might be another storm brewing for next week!  Is it to early (or greedy) to start dreaming of another snow day?

~Blessings,

Jen

Christmas Moments to Treasure

Hi All,

It has been a busy month with Christmas preparations and the celebration of Little One’s 9th birthday.  I can’t believe it is Christmas Eve already!  As I was laying awake early this morning and thinking of all of the things I had to do today, the idea for this blog post came to me.

I was thinking how every year I wait and every year it happens, that special Christmas feeling!  Sometimes it comes earlier than others, but it always comes, that special moment when it really feels like Christmas!  For me this year, it was yesterday.  I had a mile long list of things to do and at the top of the list was baking and preparing treats for our Christmas parties.  My Mom arrived yesterday to stay with us and I was so happy to have her here with us.  She dug in and got right to work helping me and Little One bake up a storm!  Oldest, unfortunately had her wisdom teeth out and wasn’t up for baking this year.

In the middle of the baking mess, I was starting to feel  little stressed that I was running out of time and energy when I glanced back and saw this:

IMG_3479

And that is when it hit me, the Christmas feeling!  I realized it didn’t matter if I didn’t finish any of the baking or how it all turned out.  It was this time together with my Mom and my daughter that was the cherished outcome of this day!  I took a minute to soak in the feeling, how thankful I was to have my Mom here with me baking when just a year ago she was enduring some major medical struggles.  To have Oldest recovering and doing well.   To have my family with me, whole and healthy and happy, I am so thankful.  That special, wondrous feeling washed over me and I could feel the Christmas Spirit come alive!

So this Christmas Eve, I write to you with a full and grateful heart for all of the blessings in my life and reflecting on the biggest gift of all, the miracle of the Baby Jesus, born to us this night.  May all of you have an abundance of the  Christmas “feeling” this year and I wish you a Christmas filled with peace and love.

~Merry Christmas,

Jen

State Championship Moments

IMG_2938

The happy couple!

 

IMG_3001Our brother during the “Father-Daughter” Dance

A few weeks ago, my niece got married on a spectacular, fall day.  It was a day filled with celebration, love, fun and family.  At the reception, our brother surprised us all with a very poignant speech for the bride and groom with the theme of “State Championship moments”.  It was an amazing speech and he so graciously agreed to be be a guest writer for us and let us share his inspirational words with you!  I hope you enjoy this message as much as we did and it inspires you to look and be thankful for your own “State Championship moments” in life!

 

“…Now for a moment, I want to take you back in time to early fall 1979.  Myself and some of my friends  that are here tonight sat in our high school gym before our season opener and listened to our football coach tell us we had the talent to go all the way to a State Championship.  It was an awesome feeling to hear that.  To envision what that joy would be like was amazing.  Could it be?  Could it really happen?  We had some really great players but could we make it all the way to the Silver Dome?

Well as my friends will tell you… that was not to be.   I won’t bore you with the details but we ended up that season 0-9 -yes- ouch.  Potential State Champions 0-9.  One crushing loss after another.  Needless to say it was very disappointing.

Fast forward to 2009 and Katy introduces us to Scotty.  We found out Scotty went to the same high school as Katy  and played football there.  Not only that, but he was on the 2003  football State Championship team.   Of course, I am not thinking about whether this young man is suited to date my daughter or not.  I ‘m thinking WOW.  He experienced a state championship! HOW COOL! He experienced a State championship moment!  How lucky to experience that euphoria at one defining moment in your life.

Now as great as that experience would have been for my friends and I, I have come to realize that State Championship moments don’t always have to happen on the playing field.  I think back over my life and although I wasn’t  able to achieve the elation Scotty and his teammates had that day on the field, our family has had many State Championship like moments.

Of course there was a moment something like tonight back in 1988 when I married my wife.  It seems like just yesterday and it was a State Championship moment!

-There was another on April 15, 1990 when we welcomed Katy into this world.  It seems like just yesterday, that I was being scolded for eating in the delivery room while Sue was in labor.  But oh what a feeling to bring that beautiful baby girl into our life.!   Of course these moments were repeated by the birth of our two sons….For our youngest, I was scolded for watching the Bulls win the championship on TV while my Sue was in labor….a bit of a pattern there but  All State Championship moments!

Sometimes these State Championship moments aren’t momentous like weddings and births though. Sometimes they can be little things like our family get togethers on Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas, a family Christmas Celebration in Charleston where we all got to spend time with Grandpa,  before we lost him the next year.  Things like spending time with close, lifelong friends …just hanging out and enjoying each others company and sharing each others joys and concerns.  The importance of these friendships is something I learned from my father, spending many Saturday mornings at Kenny’s restaurant with him and his buddies having coffee.  Spending Quality one on one time with your daughter having lunch together over the years. Seeing your kids turn into amazing adults and making you proud beyond your imagination and just spending time with those you love and who matter the most to you.  These are all State Championship moments.

Katy and Scott, I want you both to have many of these moments in your life. Tonight is one for sure, more will follow.   Enjoy them all, both large and small.   Faith, Family, Friends, and your love for each other are the most important things.  Pay attention to those things and they will all be State Championship moments.

I’d like to raise a toast to Katy and Scott wishing them health, happiness, and many State Championship moments in the future.”

Well done big brother and thanks for sharing!!!

~Blessings,

Jen

 

Are You a Helper??

helper

Are you a helper?? You know what I mean right? You are the one that is always there for those in need. You selflessly give your time and energy to your family, your friends or anyone you see in need! That’s a good thing right? Helping can help us feel good about ourselves. It makes us feel needed, wanted, loved. While all these things are true, and I often tell people the best way to feel better about your problems is to go help someone, just being a helper is not always a good thing.

Recently it seems I keep encountering (mainly women) who are such great helpers, that they can’t seem to stop to let people help them, even when they really need it. I’m here to tell you, it is OKAY to let others help you, even if you are a helper. As a reformed “helper only” I learned this lesson a long time ago from a good friend. You see, I too never wanted to let anyone help me. It didn’t matter if I was sick, overwhelmed, or just plain needed something. I was the fixer, the helper, the “needed one!” My friend asked me this question one day. “Do you know how good you feel helping others?” “Yes,” I replied, wondering just what she was getting at. “Well, she said. Every time you DON’T let someone help you, you are robbing them of the joy of the feeling of helping others.” Hmmm…wow. Now that was something to ponder. Over the years I have gotten a lot better at it. I can admit when I’m in over my head and I need help. It is not a weakness to need help!

As a mental health therapist I am coming across this a lot. People with debilitating illnesses that feel guilty that they have to ask their families for help. People who will just shut down and suffer because they don’t feel they have the right to ask for help. They are helpers, not helpless, which is how a lot of people feel when they have to ask for help. So I would like you to ponder on this. Are you only a helper? Or do you also let people have the joy of helping you? By all means, being helpful is a wonderful thing, but it is equally as important to let people help you when you need it with no strings attached! People help out of love. Don’t forget that sometimes you just need to let others do the loving!

Have a great weekend!

Julie

Through The Lens of Love

lens mug

 

“He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Luke 10:27

The school where I teach has embarked on a leadership program entitled “The Leader In Me”, based on Steven Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. As we plan and implement this program, one of the statements made was that we need to look at everything we do through the lens of leadership. This would be the focus that guides us.

I thought about the idea of looking through a lens to bring things into focus. Sometimes I feel so scattered and stressed and I tend to lose focus. I also find myself judging and feeling frustrated with people from time to time. If I had to pick a lens to focus my life on, I think it would be to try to see things through a lens of love. When I focus on loving and serving God and others, it brings everything into focus. If I look at difficult situations through a lens of love rather than impatience and frustration, it changes my perspective. Who knows why that sales clerk was grumpy or that co-worker snapped at you. Could they be privately dealing with loss or heartbreak? Responding in love could just be the thing that turns their day around. I challenge you to try to see things through “The Lens of Love” and see if it changes your day for the better.

~Blessings,
Jen

 

Love

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I hope you are able to celebrate today with all of the sweeties in your life!  Last week, the Mister and I celebrated early by attending a show called Shen Yun, a Chinese classical dance performance.  The show had great reviews and the advertisement displayed graceful dancers in colorful costumes.  When I brought up the idea to my Mister, he was not all that thrilled about going.  Then, one night, I found him on-line ordering tickets.  Now that folks, is love!  My Mister would much rather be watching sports or pretty much doing anything else other than watching classical dance, but he is the type of person that puts the needs of others before his own and that is one of the reasons I love him so much.  So as I was wondering what to write today, this self-sacrificing love came to mind.

IMG_3916

 Here we are at the show.

I really enjoyed the show and even learned some new things about Chinese history and culture.  When the show was finished, I asked the Mister what he thought.  He said, “I have to be honest…” and I thought maybe he was going to say that he actually liked the show or had a revelation about Chinese dance…ummm no!  He proceeded to tell me that the show made him really hungry for Chinese food!  I had to laugh at that comment and he was over the top excited when I agreed to stop for Chinese food on the way home!  I have to admit, the Chinese food was extra good that night!

I am so blessed to have such a loving husband and I thank God for him every day!  In thinking of self-sacrificial love, I am also reminded of the greatest gift of love ever given to all of us, which is expressed in this verse:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Whether you have a  loved one to share this Valentine’s Day with or not, we can all find immense comfort and hope in these words.  You are loved!

Wishing you much love and hopefully some chocolate this Valentine’s Day!

~Blessings,

Jen