The Generous Art of Celebration

If there’s one thing that brings me great satisfaction, it’s checking items off a to-do list. Santa isn’t the only one makin’ a list and checkin’ it twice. I’m doing it any day of the year.

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Making a list isn’t a bad way to keep track of what I need to do, of course, but what is undesirable is my tendency to fly from one task to the next over long stretches of time without pausing to honor progress made along the way. Because celebrating takes time and effort, y’all. So I skip over the celebrating part and move right into the next checking off part.

How very, very sad.

Slowly, but surely, I’m moving to change that–in large and small ways. After all, celebrating isn’t just for birthdays and big days. It’s for the small milestones, too. For myself and those around me, I want to bring back the generous art of celebration.

So when I meet a writing deadline, I head to Starbucks and treat myself to a Valencia orange refresher.

When one of my kids gets over a difficult hurdle, we head to Sonic for a happy hour treat.

When I notice the budding peonies about to make their debut, I snap a picture of them.

When I quit avoiding the laundry and get it folded, I grab a spoonful of peanut butter and chocolate chips.

I don’t bring out the streamers for everything, but I am slowly becoming aware of how I can bring them out for more things. And in doing so, I find these acts of celebration not only show kindness and generosity to myself and my loved ones, they are also a way I invite God to the party. They are a way to say thank you through actions rather than words for his daily attention to me and faithful care of me.

And they are also one beautiful way to add a little carefree attitude to the uptight to-do list.

What big and small things are you generously celebrating this week? This month? This summer? 

The writing will be sparse ’round these parts for the rest of the month while my family vacations *and* my husband and I enjoy a very special celebration of the bigger variety. Join me on instagram to find out first what it is! I hope you have a wonderful start to your summer, dear friends! So much love to you. xo

If You’d Like a Little Company During Your Season of Change

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The other day, my dark haired son sauntered over to me as I scrubbed dirty dishes and said, “Ya know, mama, Ethan and I only have 3 summers left with you before we graduate high school.”

Insert mama here dropping dishes in the sink and standing with her hands mid air, suds dripping, while staring at her boy.

I narrowed my eyes and said to him in mock-severety:

“James, do you really think I’m not already aware of this?”

He smiled country mile wide and slung a lanky arm around my shoulders.

I’m learning to sling my own arm around this changing season of growing kids, to acknowledge the loss change holds but embrace the gifts it brings, too.

Gifts, for example, like an emerging awareness and confidence found in God’s plan for my boy’s life.

Not long ago we dropped him off for a week long cadet leadership program. I watch as he strode confidently after the others, looking every bit the independent man-child he is. I lean toward my husband and say, “Can you believe we used to have such a difficult time getting this child to stay in the church nursery or in Mother’s Day Out? Remember how I would assure him you can do this! but he would cry and cry ’til I picked him up afterwards?”

Now I’m the one crying and my boy is the one assuring me I got this, mama. 

And I’ve got to remember that this child growing and maturing is exactly what’s supposed to happen.

While in this moment change for me looks like a special awareness of growing kids, it has been my constant companion in many forms throughout my grown-up life. I’ve spent much time looking change up and down with squinty eyes and crossed arms because I believed it meant to do me more harm than good. I fought it, whined and complained about it. I’ve loudly longed for the way things used to be rather than quietly embracing the way things are. In truth, however, all change ever asks me to do is hold its hand in trust that even now, God is using it for my best.

“The challenge is to believe that this is also true–and to know God’s presence–in the midst of doubt, depression, anxiety, conflict or failure. The God who is Immanuel is equally in those moments we would never choose as in those we would always gladly choose.” David G. Benner, The Gift of Being Yourself

Every change comes with God’s unchanging promise of presence and grace. And so I find that sometimes, I must give up what I think I want for what God knows I need.

As you may or may not know, I wrote a few words on this subject of change in book form, and that book will release in just three and a half months. Many of you have kindly asked if you can be a part of my launch team for the book, and I would dearly, totally and completely love it if you would apply for that when the time comes. But for now, I wonder if we could still team up to support one another through whatever life changes find us this season? Because while change takes a thousand different forms unique to our own circumstances, we all need the same encouragement to see it through.

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If you are going through a season of change big or small and have a photo that represents this season, would you post it and tag it with #girlmeetschange so we all can see it and encourage you too? Join me on instagram, facebook or twitter with your own pictures of change, and let’s show each other that we aren’t doing it alone. Let’s show each other we can enjoy community and friendship together as we face our unique forms of change.

“There is something about loss that either wakes you up or puts you to sleep. I chose eyes open.”  ~ Joy Williams

I read this quote last night in this article, and I thought the same could be said of change. I want to choose keeping my eyes open to it, to acknowledging it with intentional acceptance rather than overt hostility.

I think it’ll be easier to do that with good people like you.

Much love to you, friends. xo

What I Learned in May

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(Cake by the Cake Whisperer of Colorado Springs: Jamie Little) The month of May is my favorite, and not just because it’s my birthday month. It’s the month that, as poet William Watson says, is ” . . . the dauntless youth of the year.” Even if the “youth” of this particular May brought a rebellious […]

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For the Extraordinary Ones on Memorial Day

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My husband’s dear Grandpa Eddie, a man I wildly adored and respected, served in the European theater during World War II from D-Day Plus 2 until after VE Day. During that time, his division fought in major battles such as the Battle of the Bulge and took part in monumental events, events like the liberation of Dachau concentration camp. According to Grandpa Eddie, at […]

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Fresh Air For Your Friday

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When my kids were little and the end of the school year sped around the bend, I didn’t necessarily greet it with buckets of enthusiasm. After all, it meant the calmer daytime hours were about to be no longer so. Even if we did enjoy more of a laid-back schedule, entertaining and caring for the kids […]

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If Your Anxiety Tries to Boss Your Adventure

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If you have a daughter standing at the threshold of her last preteen birthday, she may decide she doesn’t want a birthday party this year. And if she decides she doesn’t want a party, she’ll probably ask if she can do something a little different instead. And if she’s a girl that is active as a dozen […]

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One Thing to Remember On the Messy Days of Raising Big Kids and Teens

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As we shook hands and greeted those sitting next to us in church last Sunday, one of my dear children accidentally kicked over my husbands full–very full–cup of coffee. Creamy brown liquid dribbled in rivulets  from our seat in the back down to five or six rows ahead. As my husband and kids hurriedly left to grab paper towels, I whispered to the young mama […]

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For All Women Who Mother (Whether They Have Children or Not)

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A baby princess was born last weekend, and her arrival rounded the sharp edges of world news as it made us smile, maybe even exhale at the fresh hope of it all. When the hospital doors swung open and we got our first glimpse of her in all her sleeping perfection, we also glimpsed her lovely Mama in 3 inch heels and the […]

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What I Learned in April

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Since it’s almost time to flip the calendar to a fresh, full-of-possibilities new month, that means it’s also time to reflect on what I learned in April. I love to include a hodgepodge of things–the serious, silly, enthralling and mundane. So without further adieu, here we go! What I Learned in April 1. It’s okay to eat dessert […]

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On Eating Dessert Before Dinner

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After a typical work week, I usually take time on Friday to treat myself to something–a cupcake from the grocery, some flowers from the nursery, a meandering trip through Target with no list in my hand. But in the last several weeks, the work and requirements of Monday-Thursday bled clean through Friday. So my Friday ritual continually got placed […]

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