Friday, January 31, 2014

Letting your light shine.

I may have shared this story in years past here on Nitty.Gritty. But it's a good one, and this photo recently showed up in my FaceBook feed and so it just seemed fitting to share it and the story that came to my mind right away when I saw it. This picture is of Teagan and her friend, Jess, taken on a  day that they had a playdate at our house. Now, you can probably tell just by looking at this picture that these two little girls loved to play, be loud, laugh and enjoy just being little girls! We knew Jess from our local church. It was one of the places that we made some lifelong friends when we lived in Gaylord. Church was one of the places that practically "felt like home" for us- in part because of the great friendships we did for with so many people there, but also because we spent a lot of time there- besides the usual Sunday morning church services.
Jess and Teagan didn't just love to play and laugh and have fun when they had playdates at home. But they loved to be loud and have fun at church together too. Sometimes that felt appropriate- like during game time in the gym, or while singing and learning funny songs during Vacation Bible School. I loved and appreciated the good times these girls, and lots of other young friends of theirs shared in church.
But one Sunday morning stands out in my mind when I see this picture of Teagan and Jess. The new auditorium had recently been built and was the new worship sanctuary for Sunday mornings and other large events/gatherings. It seats about 1,100 people and let's just say that there was a lot of time and money invested in that big, new auditorium.
This particular Sunday morning the girls had connected at church during Sunday School, and they were still happily hanging out as the morning services ended and the parents gathered their children or just talked and fellowshipped together before it was time to part. The girls chose this Sunday morning to go running up and down the large aisles of the new worship center. But they didn't stop there. They ventured up on stage and were running and laughing and playing behind the big curtain and by the podium as well. When I realized that Teagan was a part of the noise and rambunctious behavior in the auditorium I gave Chip "the look" to go get her immediately and put a stop to her wild antics. I watched the girls run and laugh even more for a minute or two as they realized they were 'caught' and were being called to bring their fun and games to a halt.
Their response to Chip when he ushered them down from the stage was that "they were just playing and having fun!" Of course they were! But I could feel the 'eyes' of other church goers on them and on us as parents that made it feel anything but "fun".
On the ride home from church that day Teagan got a little lecture on "how to act in church". We reminded her that the sanctuary was "God's house" and that she should be careful of how loud and wild she was in that place from now on. She seemed to understand, and yet she was still grinning and told us how much she loved playing with Jess and her others friends at church too.
I could never have imagined on the ride home from church that day that it would only be a matter of months later that I would be standing in that very auditorium honoring and remembering Teagan's life at her memorial service. I remember that day so clearly as well. How my heart was so shattered and how my mind was still trying to come to grips with the reality that I would never see her laugh or run or dance and twirl on this earth ever again. I could hardly believe that we were sharing stories and pictures of her life in remembrance of her- because to me she was still so full of life and joy and I wasn't prepared to let any of that go!
And yet Chip and I stood hand-in-hand with our hearts broken and wounded and clueless as to how it all happened and more so, how God was going to mend the brokenness that we felt to the very core of our hearts. I pictured Teagan running and laughing in the very place that hundreds of flowers now served as a reminder that she was gone. Her smiling picture on the memorial alter made my heart ache more. I wanted to turn back time to the day she ran and laughed so loudly that I sent Chip rushing down the aisle to scoop her up and halt her fun. I wanted to turn back time and do it all over again.
Only this time I would have wanted to hug her and tell her how happy I was that she was simply being who God made her to be. I wanted to turn back the days and watch her twinkle and shine on that stage with her friend, Jess, as only two little girls can in the midst of their play. I wanted to look on their joy and grasp how it was one of the purest forms of worship in that space that day. Their actions may not have been perfectly in line with what other church-goers or Chip or I had in mind for them in that new auditorium. But in retrospect, and certainly in light of the reality we faced at Teagan's service, their actions were in perfect accord to how God wants us to come to Him with our hearts and lives. He wants us to come as little children. Not caring about what others think or even how we see ourselves. He wants us to come to Him in worship, recognizing who He is, and putting all of our self aside. True worship is singing, dancing, praying, sacrificing, embracing all of who GOD is, and truly being humble in spirit and simply being who God created us to be. There is nothing we can bring to His alter that He doesn't already 'own' or have access too...except our hearts. He wants our hearts to be poured out to Him as our love offering. We can come "too loud, too wild, too clueless" as to who He is, and yet He accepts us as we are simply because we come. He just wants our hearts. Plain and simple.
I am so glad to know that Teagan invited Jesus into her heart and life just the day before she died. She knew that Jesus died on the cross for her sin, and truly the most important thing that anyone can do, who understands who God is, is to give their heart to Him by asking forgiveness of their sin and inviting Him into their life. God does the rest. I miss the mark far too often when it comes to living the simple way that God wants us to live. He wants us to shine for Him, lean on Him, shout for Him, share our joys and sorrows and everything in between for Him, and just be who He created us to be. Nothing more. Nothing less. It seems so simple. And it is. Even a child can get it and live out their days letting their life shine for Him. I am so glad I had a front row seat to Teagan's life. Especially on the day she ran through the auditorium in response to just being who God made her to be.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Snowed in. Again!

This has been quite a winter all over the nation and world, I believe. We are in the midst of another 'arctic blast' here in Michigan and on our 3rd consecutive snow day...with a weekend in between. So the days all sort of blur together, but we are cozy, warm and we love staying in jammies all day long. Last week's days off were added fun since Grandma Genie {my  mom} was in town staying with the kids and I while Chip was in Orlando for the PGA merchandise show. The unexpected time the kids got to spend with her and the low-key schedule compared to getting ready and doing school drop-offs and pick-ups was nice for all of us! We played games, had Ava's room painted {pale pink}, baked and ate good food, sang songs and hymns, watched funny DIY shows and a couple of movies, ate popcorn and just all-around had a great time enjoying Grandma at our house. We were sad to see her go, but happy for my dad, since we know how much he was missing having her around too!
I didn't get much scrapping time in, and had actually planned to do quite a bit while she was here. But the time spent doing other stuff just filled up my craft free time. Still, I am so excited to share peeks of the layouts I made with the next Cocoa Daisy kit for February...called Color Swatch! It is one of my favorites! I received the paper add-on as well as the Paint Chip add-on kit and it is a wonderful mix of items for crafting. I have plans to make some Valentine's a am hoping to make a couple of other little projects too. The pinks and fun watercolor/paint patterns and designs add some charm and whimsy to each project. Tomorrow night is the big reveal for this kit, so join us over at the message board and see for yourself! If you sign up for a subscription there is a special 40% discount for your first kit right now. And trust me, when you get snowed in with a box of Cocoa Daisy goodies, it's a wonderful thing! Stay warm and safe everyone, and have fun crafting!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Not always "out with the old".


Hello to 2014 and a whole new year ahead of us, right?! As much as I don't like getting older, I do love the fresh start of a new year. Yes, I know that every morning is another new day, but a whole new year just feels big and the way it gets celebrated is a big deal sometimes too. It is nice to be able to look ahead and feel like there are endless possibilities, new dreams, adventures and joys to be discovered. I am ready for all of that and more.
Having just turned 41 a week and a half ago I am fully aware that there are things that need to be changed in me, moments that need to be grasped and savored, and some things that simply need to be accepted. I titled this not always out with the old, because the truth is old and used and the past can all be truly wonderful things too! I find that some of my quirks and old habits aren't so bad...they are simply "who I am", including things like embracing a trend like loving antlers and not letting that fade even after a year or more. My "birthday moose" arrived in the mail and it was the perfect timing for me to scrap a page about it with the first Cocoa Daisy kit of the year~ Blueprint. I loved everything about this kit and had so much fun making my pages and little mini book to be filled in as this month goes on. This kit and add-ons are now available for purchase and I can tell you that if you have thought about getting a monthly subscription, Cocoa Daisy is the place to get yours. The kits seem to get better and better, and I'm not even sure how that can happen! I just know I love to get my box of goodies in the mail and have never been disappointed, ever!
I am hoping to 'celebrate' the everyday even more than I have done in the past. Somedays it is easy to do that, and some days it is quite a chore! Last night, for New Year's Eve I was ready to sit home with our 6 kids as Chip worked the event hosted at his golf club. I knew if I went I would have to scramble to do extra things at home so that I could safely and happily leave the kids together while I tried to sneak away for a couple of hours. {Brock is 14 now and once the littlest guys were in jammies and tucked in bed I knew it wouldn't be too hard a job for him to hang out.} I knew Chip would be busy making sure everything was going smoothly and so I would end up 'alone' at times and honestly I don't know too many members of the club all that well yet. I also haven't had any reason to dress up and so I was dragging my feet about going to the party for all those reasons and more. I am the queen of making excuses to stay home. Just ask Chip. =)
Instead, at about 9pm I decided I was going to make it happen and at least go to the party for a short while. I had 2 choices of dresses and put this one on first. I figured it would be better to be overdressed than underdressed for a New Year's party. I was just surprised and happy that the dress still fit! I wore it twice back in 2001. For those who have followed this blog forever, you know that that was 4 babies ago for it's practically a miracle that this dress still fits me! I could have used some different shoes, and I actually ended up shoveling snow in this dress and heels. But the night turned out to be a fun escape from my usual nightly routine and even though my feet are a bit sore from late-night dancing, it was good to spend time together with Chip- even if he was "working".
Between antlers and scrapping and wearing an old dress, I am feeling good about what this new year holds. We went through so much change the past few years that it feels exciting to just settle down a bit more and see what a year can hold when there {hopefully} won't be changes and transitions in houses and schools and jobs. I have to say there is something wonderful about things staying the same too. Especially when you realize how good it is. Here's to 2014 and everything it holds- old, new and maybe another night out dancing before the year's end too! =)