Just visiting.

DSCN1027.JPG – Version 3

The pictures in my iPhoto library scrolled in front of my eyes like credits rolling on a screen at the end of a movie. Only faster.

I was feeling a little uneasy in my stomach. Granted, I could have been getting motion sick from the quick movement (No, really. I’m serious. This happened to me once at the library in the 1990’s while looking at microfiche), but the real fact of the matter was that I was nauseous from nostalgia. Sick from sentimentality. Pained from pondering.

You get the idea.

I had to sort through the memories for a reason. All three of my children have had the same woman as their kindergarten teacher. My youngest is now “graduating” from kindergarten, and our tenure in her class is over. Just like that.

This teacher is amazing, and in an effort to make her a gift containing a photo of her with each of my kids when they were in her class, I had to search through approximately 12 billion photos in hopes to find three. Eventually, I did find them, but in the searching, I found many more that pulled on my heart strings.

My now twelve-year-old’s third birthday party with the Thomas the Tank Engine cake that I spent HOURS making.

My now eight-year-old’s first pigtails.

My soon-to-be first grader’s birth. The first time her siblings held her in their arms.

Chubby cheeks.

Little toes.

Birthday parties. First days of schools.

My seven-year-old’s store-bought birthday cake.

The time my girls got their pigtails cut off to donate to children in need of wigs.

The three of them arm in arm at a baseball game.

I found myself lost in a world of memories, yet feeling like these events had happened in my life almost as quickly as the photos on the screen were whizzing past me.

And in a few more minutes, it seems they’ll be more photos in the camera roll.

Graduations.

Weddings.

Grandkids.

Another generation of chubby cheeks and little toes.

More firsts. More lasts.

The knot in my stomach was now fully tied.

The moments of this life are so fleeting. I try to hold on to them. To keep them. To at least make them slow their pace.

I mentally place the events in my bucket as I cross the firsts and lasts off my list. But I must have a hole in my bucket because as fast as they pile higher, they’re gone.

Each moment is only here for a visit. No, they can’t linger for long. The are just passing through.

But regardless, I’m going to keep inviting the moments of life in. I’ll keep putting them in my bucket, my iPhoto library, and my heart.

And I’ll enjoy each visit, for as long as it lasts.


This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are encouraged to write for about 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: VISIT

 

Home Base.

When I was 10 years old, my dad took the position of pastor at Emmanuel Community Church. Six weeks later, my mom died suddenly in our kitchen while sitting at the table. She had been reading a book, and drinking a cup of coffee when she began to collapse.

Needless to say, it was a rough beginning of my tenure at Emmanuel Community Church. But our bond became strong, and we stayed together, and for the past 28 years, I’ve grown up at ECC. And come to think of it, the church has grown up with me too.

Last night I began the “speaking tour” for my book Brownie Crumbs and Other Life Morsels. I will be traveling and sharing the messages of the book at various churches and venues across the country over the next several months.  I hit the road on Friday to speak in Erie, PA, and Buffalo, NY.

Last night I was able to start by speaking at ECC.  Home. What a logical place to step into the batter’s box.

As I stood in front of that room of women, many of whom are close personal friends, I marveled at how God had brought me to that moment.

And even that very spot.

You see, the church has grown and changed over the past three decades. The place where I stood and spoke last night is now called “The Commons,” and it’s a large gathering room with round tables for discussion and a little kitchen window in the corner for snacks. But it used to be our sanctuary. And the very spot where I stood last night is where my dad stood for years when he would preach. Now we have a bigger sanctuary (they say it’s called the ‘Worship Center’…) and the building has been remodeled.

But before the room became “The Commons,” as it is now, it went through some other transitions.

While it was still the main sanctuary, my dad got remarried, to the woman I now call “Mom.” I was her maid of honor, and stood up in that wedding – exactly where I stood last night as I spoke.

That room, in its original form, was where I sat through sermons, performed in children’s musicals, attended VBS weeks, and where I learned to love those people who became my church family.

I attended Sunday school classes behind the sanctuary in a little room with ugly red carpet.

When the room was remodeled to include a second-story loft, I helped with middle school youth group up there and later taught kids about God’s word using my Grow in His Word for Kids curriculum.

At one point, the room was transformed into a hallway with three classrooms on each side. In that hallway, I first walked past a man name Kraig Cabe. I saw him, but he didn’t see me. We didn’t meet for a few month after that, but eventually, we started teaching a Sunday school class together in one of those rooms – just a few feet from where I stood last night – and we eventually fell in love and got married in that big new sanctuary, er… Worship Center.

That room, that very spot where I stood and spoke last evening, has great significance for me. And I was so blessed to begin my speaking tour right there. It was the perfect launching ground. And as I shared about these things with the ladies and told them some stories from my life (old news to many of them!) they laughed and cried along with me.

And they served brownies. What more could you ask for?

After I finished, these friends of mine lined up to get my autograph in their books. I laughed. “Really?” I said, “It’s just ME!” They hugged me and supported me and got their picture taken with me. And I laughed all the more.

Because who would have thought this dream would become a reality. That God would redeem my life – my story – and use it for His glory through a book with a brownie on the cover and an imperfect girl-turned-woman who is willing to share.

That room, that spot where I stood last night, has been repurposed, reshaped, and put to the best use for each season.

Sounds a lot like me.

And for this season of my life, God has given me the opportunity to share my story. I’m thrilled, and nervous, and excited, and hopeful.

Because God has proven faithful through every season thus far.

And I have no doubt He’ll direct me, around each stop along the way, until I get back home.

————————————————–

For more about my speaking schedule, or to have me consider speaking at your venue, click on Speaking or Contact in the menu.

13 Things I Learned During the Christmas Season of 2013.

DSC_0699

The cookie tray is down to a few sugar cookies that could possibly break your teeth. There are also a variety of rogue sprinkles on the tray reminding me of all that’s been created and enjoyed. It feels to me like the Christmas season has gone by extra fast this year. I love Christmas and I’m sad to see it go, but I spent some time reflecting today on all we’ve done and what I’ve learned these past 4 weeks. And so I give you, my second annual post-Christmas ponderings.

13 Things I Learned During the Christmas Season of 2013:

13. You can never have too many sprinkles or too much icing on a sugar cookie.

DSC_0761

12. If you take your observant five-year-old daughter to the Nutcracker to see her first ballet, you may need to be prepared to do a quick anatomy lesson after seeing a man in tights. Of course this is depending on how well the Sugar Plum Fairy does at staying directly between your daughter and the said man in tights. But let’s face it, ballerinas spin around a lot. What can you do?

11. I might have a green thumb after all. I actually kept the amaryllis that my sister-in-law gave me alive over Christmas, and it actually bloomed. It’s a Christmas miracle.

10. WDSC_0717hat’s the deal with these colorful rubber-band bracelets?! We were a little “late to this party” because our nine-year-old has been claiming for awhile that these bracelets are silly because they are just little rubber bands hooked together. But then suddenly, he changed his tune and he wanted a loom for Christmas so that he could make these bracelets. This requires finding 887 tiny rubber bands all over your house as well as seeing enough rubber bracelets on your child’s arms that I’m pretty sure he’d be buoyant in a pool of water, even while wearing his snow boots.

9. Peanut Butter Balls, Buckeyes, call them what you will, but I could not stop eating them. And if you made me ones with crunchy peanut butter that was absolutely irresistible, you are forbidden to ever make me those again because I can’t say no to them and I’ll eat myself sick. (You know who you are.)

8. Costco doesn’t take credit cards and if you dare to try to pay with a Debit Card and you don’t remember your pin number, well then, you’re OUT OF LUCK! Even if you’ve been shopping with one of your children for over an hour and have a heaping cart full of food and gifts your cart will be whisked away in Seinfield Soup Nazi fashion (‘No Groceries For You!’) and you will leave the store with nothing but the feeling of utter defeat. And though one of you will want to go home and pout, your child will encourage you to go to another store and buy everything on the list… again.

7. Christmas song lyrics are sometimes confusing to small children, but this does not stop small children from singing Christmas songs with “amended” lyrics. For instance, my three-year-old continues to belt out her version of a verse from Joy to the World with these words, “He rules the world with tooth and gum.” 9 out of 10 dentists agree.

6.DSC_0701 If you have two daughters that love clothes and those two daughters have two baby dolls that receive doll outfits that match your daughter’s clothes, then you will spend approximately 64% of your Christmas day changing a plastic dolls clothing and shoes as well as helping your actual child change clothes. Again. And again.

5. If you’re playing a game of “Steal the Gift BINGO” with your family members and you want your little brother to take the gift you opened, a measly 99¢, so that you can snag the more valuable $5 McDonald’s gift card,  you can present the less valuable 99¢ as a “free iphone app” and your little brother will go for it. Well played, Kordy.

4. If your Carbon Monoxide Detector starts beeping and says you need to seek fresh air immediately, you’d better do so as well as call 911. When you do so, the nice firemen will come in their huge firetruck and will help you. And even if you’re miles away in a store when this happens and your husband calls you and tells you what is going on, you may begin to feel symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning… until your husband calls you and tells you it was just a faulty detector and everything is fine. And then you feel better.

3. It doesn’t matter if I’ve checked my list twice or twenty times, at least 2 Christmas cards that I mail will come back to me due to a wrong address.

2.If you’re at a bowling alley with your family and friends and your bowling ball gets stuck in the ball return and if the guy who comes over to help you happens to bring up the fact that he recently took a bullet to the elbow (because this naturally ties in with losing your bowling ball) and he asks you if you want to see the wound, it really doesn’t matter what your answer is or the fact that there are small children all around, he’s gonna roll up his sleeve. I’m just saying.

1. Having the privilege to teach a group of preschoolers at church (including my own daughters) all about the true story of Christmas is simply the best. And even though we had a little confusion about the angel’s name being Gary instead of Gabriel and the Wise Men bringing Frankenstein to baby Jesus, I think I got the main idea across to their sweet little hearts. There’s just nothing better than watching their eyes grow large as we talked about the best Christmas gift EVER being Jesus. It just doesn’t get any better than that.DSC_0703

Extreme Makeover: Dollhouse Edition

I think Ty Pennington would be proud. You know, the host of the show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Though the show is off of the air now, Ty and his team spent several years knocking down old homes and replacing them with beautiful new ones. The show is filled with celebrity appearances, as well as generous donations from Sears and various other companies. It’s always touching to watch the deserving families see their new home for the first time.

And who doesn’t enjoy a good before and after shot!

I had a makeover project of my own this Christmas season. Sears didn’t donate any appliances, but after Grandma, Pappy, and Santa pitched in for some furniture I think things turned out quite lovely.

I greatly enjoyed refinishing my old dollhouse for my little girls.

When I was a little girl my Dad built me this dollhouse. You may wonder if this was to make up for the candle he dropped (see: The Passing of the Candle.) But regardless, he built me a dollhouse and I LOVED it! I spent hours playing with my little dolls and Barbies. I had one particular friend who enjoyed imagination and Barbies as much as I did and I’d love to know how many hours we logged in front of that dollhouse. We had a Barbie car, shower, and even a hot dog stand. We’d even throw Barbie weddings and send invitations to my Mom and brother. They’d show up too! My Mom came to the Barbie weddings because that’s just what Moms do. My brother would come because we’d serve Hostess Cupcakes as the wedding cake. We still have actual developed rolls of film full of Barbie ceremonial wedding bliss. Ahhh… the memories.

The dollhouse still stands. My Dad wasn’t joking around when he built it. In fact, I think it would possibly weather a tornado better than our actual house! However, when Kraig and I pulled it down from the attic in early December we realized it was slightly behind the times. And by slightly I mean the carpet and wallpaper were at least 2 decades old, possibly 3.

Let the makeover begin!

I painted, hung wallpaper, carpeted, laid vinyl and hardwood. I also added some finishing touches to the exterior of the house and my Dad did some re-wiring for the tiny inside lights.

I was happy with the results and what made me even more happy was watching our little girls play with my old dollhouse. What a joy!

And, did I take before and after pictures, you ask? You bet I did! Enjoy the gallery below.

Exreme Makeover: Dollhouse Edition… with NO commercial breaks!

Before:

The team, looking good as always, began the work.

We did have a few celebrity appearances. Peyton Manning showed up to do some exterior work and gardening. This was really kind of him considering he’s a little busy right now.

And Terry Bradshaw worked on the plumbing.

Not to be outdone by Ty Pennigton and his team we even had a revealing like on the show. We parked a bus in front of the finished house just like they do and made the family stand nervously behind it…waiting to see their new home!

Our bus was driven by Mr. Incredible. He’s always happy to help out. He is a super hero, you know.


The family waited. The suspense was thick. Everyone seemed to be holding their breath and standing as still as statues.

And then it was time for the big reveal!

“BUS DRIVER! MOVE THAT BUS!!”

Touching. Isn’t it?!

Well, like Ty Pennington says… There’s only one thing left to say.

Welcome home Plastic family! Welcome Home.