Just a quick gift collection…thanks to my favorite photography apps, FotoRus, Over, and Instagram…
We never planned to go on spring break, but with all the changes coming down the pike (read: my new job in the fall), we realized that this might be our last chance to go on vacation in early April for quite a while. So, we hit the road to Destin with the Terryns…our friends/neighbors/best buds on a sunny morning, bright eyed and ready for adventure.
Did I say adventure? Oh…we got adventure all right. Maybe not the one we were expecting. Maybe the kind that starts out so bad, all you can do is laugh. Or the kind that deepens a friendship the way that only gallons of Chex mix, broken glass, Hello Kitty playing cards, torrential rains, dance parties on the balcony, and bad Chick-fil-a can. But yes, an adventure.
It’s taken me months to get around to writing this post…the reason why it took so long AND our crazy vacation story is in the long-ish video below…or you can just look at the cute kid pics below…or watch Maggie’s snazzy video vignette of our trip here.
Thinking back on it now, it makes me smile. How did we pull that off, I wonder? And will I ever forget those sweet squeals of delight as the kids ran through the surf?
Or when Fiona said, “It’s the end of the world, Daddy” as she looked out into the ocean…
Or all of the super hero escapades…Little Mermaid performances…and running around like crazy…
Or all the sweet moments that Fiona was able to share with her very best friend, Georgia…
Or my new mantra, “Money in your hand is better than a coupon in your wallet”…Parker wearing his gigantic orange sunglasses and matching hat everywhere…Madi crossing over into grownup world as she read at the beach…and how can we manage going again someday?
I received an email earlier this week inviting me to attend a marketing meeting at Hilger Hammond, and it reminded me that I’m right on the brink of being completely done working at Ben’s firm. Just a few more finishing touches on a final project, and I will be shifting my attention away from creating marketing pieces and orchestrating client gift baskets to studying for the GMAT and prepping my classes for the fall.
It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed the last four years working as a “Special Projects Manager”. In fact, thinking back over my time there, I have so many wonderful memories…and a few embarrassing ones. I remember my first week on the job, I was a little rusty with my “workplace protocol”, and found myself yelling a question to Ben while he was in the bathroom. Yeah, that was awkward. But I quickly found my “seat on the bus” – jumping into projects no one else had the time to do, whether it was boxing up closed files or creating an ad for a charity event. I loved the variety, the opportunity to try new things, and the immediate impact of my actions. Track down an executive desk for an associate on Craig’s List and the next week, it’s in the office. Suggest revisions to the website and they are implemented the next day. It was intensely satisfying.
But one of the best things about working at Hilger Hammond was the lunch dates that Ben and I were able to squeeze in while I was working. They have become more scarce the last six months as Ben’s workload has picked up, but the times we were able to head over to XO for Chinese or take Jimmy John’s to the rooftop table in the summer? Priceless.
I’ll be honest. I think I got the better deal out of the gig. I am leaving with great relationships, more confidence in my ability to re-enter a more traditional workplace, and some solid hours logged hanging out with Ben. What more could I ask for, really? I’m just glad that they let me stick around for so long!
What started out as, “Hey, can you come up and help us get organized?” turned into four years of time that I am truly thankful for.
I feel some responsibility to share the outcome of our “cele-bake” birthday party last month for a couple of reasons. First, I was inspired by Pinterest, and I am compelled to add our adventure to the mix. Secondly, the kids had such a great time celebrating with their friends…and for the very first time, we had the space for them all to run and play without stomping all over each other. Lastly, this may be the last year we can get away with a combined birthday party.
We were ready for the kids to arrive!
After the kids finished their aprons, it was off to play in the basement while we got the next round of activities ready…smoothies and cupcake decorating! All the grownups were a bit skeptical of my idea to make smoothies with 15 kids, but I had all the frozen bananas, berries, and yogurt measured out ahead of time, all three of my Ninja pitcher blenders ready, and lots of little cups so everyone could try each of the three smoothie recipes.
It could have been a giant disaster, but it worked out somehow. Everyone happily ingested some fruit, which was my goal, because the next activity was a free-for-all cupcake decorating extravaganza.
…and after loading on the frosting, sprinkles, and candy, we finally cut them off so that we could sing Happy Birthday and EAT!
The kids loved the party. It was fun to have a gaggle of their friends around and to see them be a little crazy. The grownups were Exhausted with a capital “E”, but it was the good kind of exhausted. The thankful kind of exhausted. The can’t get off the couch kind of exhausted.
I love celebrating my kiddos…and I’m so glad that we were able to do it up well this year.
Ben went and had an MRI of his head last weekend. Frequent stabbing headaches with unexplained triggers will get you an easy pass to the big tube with the metal face mask and the jackhammer melody. It’s the first thing doctors do, my sister told me, to rule out any of the “big stuff”…tumors, aneurisms, and the like. More than likely, it would confirm that he needs to adjust his lifestyle. Less stress, more self care. More accurate eyeglasses prescription and less screen time.
But that night, as I started to drift off to sleep, my confidence faltered. What if there is something seriously wrong? What if we are at the beginning of something impossibly difficult? What if….? I couldn’t finish the thought before hot, silent tears started to drop on my pillow. I tried to stifle my sniffles, because I knew that any comfort from Ben would send me over the edge, and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stop crying.
I slipped off to sleep, dreaming the elusive dreams of the exhausted, and spent the next several days thinking and praying. Wednesday we found out that the MRI came back normal. This was incredible news, even though our hunt for answers isn’t over yet. You can’t just say, “well…it’s nothing immediately life-threatening, so things will just be…better.” We have some more figuring out to do.
But what was more profound to me during those days when we were waiting for the results were the questions that kept running through my head. “Will I trust God to handle this?” “Will I face whatever comes with faith and courage?” “Will I be able to follow Job’s example of accepting what comes, and not blame God?”
Actually, it was less the questions than the answers. Last year, when my Mom was facing possible debilitating back surgery, I asked myself similar questions, and didn’t have very good answers. In fact, I ended up with shingles, partially because I let myself get run down with worry and stress. This time around, my answers were much different. I have spent a significant amount of time over the past year getting into the Word of God and really focusing on solidifying where my beliefs land.
What I believe? I believe God is a compassionate God, and that He has our best in mind. I also believe that sometimes bad things happen, and that while we can’t always comprehend the reason at the time, we can always trust that God’s story will be told through those challenges and that He will bless our trust and obedience.
Easy to say, hard to act on, right? Absolutely. And I totally understand that we sidestepped “the worst” last week. You might ask me how I would have responded if the results had been different. You might ask me how I would respond in five years if his headaches are still unexplained. My answer would be that I pray that I would continue to find that peace that comes from trust in an all-powerful and all-knowing God, and that I would continue to be compassionate and caring to a husband who is hurting.
I go back to a verse that I wrote about in an entirely different context a few days ago on Mom Colored Glasses. This is what I will spend my time meditating on. Truth…beauty…goodness…not paranoia…ugliness…or untruth…
I’m a little behind with my post about Madi’s birthday last week…and the kid’s birthday party…and I’m sure plenty of other things too, but I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to my Madi-cakes. She is the girl who reminds me so much of myself at that age, with her nose in a book and the world sometimes in a haze around her. She is compassionate and kind, worries intensely about others, and can hold her own in a debate around the dinner table. Last year for her birthday, we ended up at Meijer Gardens after school and Parker puked all over the hallway, we were living in the rental house, and it was a bit more low-key, so I was really glad that she had a “fun” birthday this year. She played…
It was a great day…topped off with a pan of ooey-gooey brownies and two big white bookshelves for her room! I love this girl, with big dreams of owning a bakery someday and daily dreams of writing stories, winning her favorite game on the Nook, and every day inching her way towards teenager-dom. Happy Birthday sweet girl…you make every day special!
It is easy to feel inadequate.
A kid, aching ankles from growing pains, and all I can do is say that I’m sorry and give her a capful of Tylenol.
A husband, head pounding from stress, and all I can do is bring a glass of water and close the shades.
A friend, heart breaking from loss and pain, and all I can do is try to murmur the right words and pray the right prayers.
A world, hungry and tired, lost and needing to be found, and whatever I do seems like not enough.
I feel so useless while the struggling world around me feels so irreparably broken. Disease, pain, hurt, discord, misunderstanding, heartache, and loss…
And so I pray the prayer of the small, the weak, and the inadequate.
Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.
Give me Eyes that turn away from myself and see the hurt around me.
Give me Willing Hands to serve without wanting anything in return.
Give me Words to speak for the mute and to speak Truth to the broken.
Give me a platform to stand on and to shout Your words without Fear.
Give me comfort so I can give comfort to others.
My meager offerings are but Loaves and Fish, Prayer and Compassion, but please take them, bless them, and turn them into sweet incense that fills the nostrils of God.
I may be inadequate, but let me not forget that there is nothing too small…nothing too insignificant…that doesn’t add to Your beautiful story of restoration. A simple prayer laid bare the floor of the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross unscathed. A simple prayer sent fire from heaven to consume Elijah’s parched offering. A simple prayer can soften hearts and transform lives.