Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"Cannon Baaaalll!"


Remember when we were eight years old and could spend the whole day in the pool?  The mom's would soak their feet at the edge and talk while we practiced jumping in or diving for those bright colored diving sticks.  I learned to do handstands in between underwater tea parties and games of Marco Polo. Our mom's would have to threaten to get us out of the pool to eat lunch and then torture us by making us wait 30 minutes before getting back in, "or else you'll get a cramp and drown".

Remember that one boy?  He'd taunt us with endless splashing, enjoying the squeals and screams as we covered our faces.  Finally he'd get out of the pool and we'd go back to our giggling and games.  Then you'd hear it.  Running feet.  Mom's calling out to "walk before you slip and fall!".  And then the yell, "cannon baaaalll!", as he plunged into the pool, arms wrapped around his knees, bottom first.  We'd gasp and quickly move away from the tsunami.  The moms would scold as they scurried away from the edge, grabbing towels or hovering over food and babies.  The splash disrupted the entire pool, reaching as far as the picnic table.

2014 was a canon ball.  I was enjoying my time in the pool and the warmth of the sun.  There were celebrations and parties; the Grand Canyon and Utah and Colorado; family and friends and good food.  Calm waters.

The tsunami of 2014 disrupted my pool party and left me kicking and flailing, trying to regain my footing.  Gasping and struggling for air, I was in over my head.  The waves seemed to keep coming, shoving me to and fro.  I couldn't find which way was up and I did not know what to do.  Spent.  Weary.  I was clinging only to what seemed to be a worn thread of a promise: "God is always good and you are never alone".

And then one morning, the sun came up.

Have you ever seen the sunrise after a storm?  After a night of howling wind, pounding thunder, and pulling covers over your head, the morning wakes to stillness.  The earth is mushy; branches and washed up debris litter the ground.  But look up.  Always. Look. Up.  The sky is beautifully painted a mixture of oranges and pinks, promising the arrival of the sun.  Calm. The dark clouds are gone.  You close your eyes.  Birds are singing.  A gentle breeze kisses your face.  Inhale.  The ground smells fresh, ready for new growth.  It smells like hope.  You smile because you are still standing.  There is some rebuilding to do; things may never look the same - they are not supposed to.  It's a new beginning. 

We can't focus on the hurts and mistakes and failures that are behind us. We can only fall forward until suddenly we discover we are running again.  I couldn't be happier to leave 2014 behind.  The waters have washed away the old and the new is coming.  And it is going to be good.
 "...But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."

Monday, December 22, 2014

All Things Christmas

Hi there.

It feels like it's been ages since I've talked to you!  How have you been?  How are we only a few days away from Christmas?!  I sincerely hope all is well and that you are enjoying the Season.  I also hope that you have been able to slow and really soak in the glorious beauty of why we are celebrating!

I have been good.  Really.  I feel that I am ready to walk into what the future holds for our family.  It is going to be a great future.  I am amazed at how God takes our mess and brings joy and blessing and beauty from it.  He is something.  I love Him!

It feels awkward just launching into a blog post that's all seriousness after all this time, so I thought I'd share something light about some of the things I'm loving right now. Warning: lots of pictures!

First off!  Christmas decorating! 

A day spent rearranging furniture and shopping my home for a new look is a lovely one!  Did I ever tell you that I used to take interior design courses?  Yeah.  I just never finished.  Sadness.  I had/have so much to learn.  This book to the rescue:

The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith has so many great pictures and reminders that it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful!  But I'm getting side-tracked.  Back to Christmas decorating!  

I had the most fun with the entry. I added a wintery ribbon to a spring wreath and found the perfect spot for our Jesse Tree!

I hung this branch above the TV. 


At first it seemed kind of silly, but now I think it will stay there for a while.  It's from a tree out back and has been sitting in a corner begging for a purpose all year!  I strung a pom garland from last Christmas and hung adorable gold and white gift tags I found in the dollar section at Target. Love it!

This star was a last moment purchase for $8 bucks at Marshall's. 


It was folded up and I had no idea how enormous it was or how much I was going to like it. So worth it!

The lighting makes the right sight of this photo dark, but ...


... the light streaming in through the window is so lovely!  I love mornings!

I got the idea for this paper wreath from The Nester's blog (Myquillyn Smith) last year:

I found an old Christmas song book at Goodwill and hot glued the pages into cones and then glued them around a round foam floral form (I'm sure you could use cardboard). The burlap flower was just a final touch I added this year. Total cost: about $5!

Music!  One must listen to Christmas music while decorating!  I love the classics - Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole.  My playlist also includes Michael Buble, Josh Groban and Il Divo.  I also love Zooey Deschanel's "A Very She and Him Christmas."

Books!  Here's what I'm reading:

Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers was on my last reading list.  I am reading it again with Celine.  She doesn't love to read, but doesn't mind taking turns reading aloud.  Whatever it takes!   

The Greatest Gift Advent Devotional by Ann Voskamp has been exactly what this girl has needed during this busy season.  

Celine and I just finished reading Let's All Be Brave by Annie Downs.  I love Annie!  I want to hang out with her and be her friend! 

I also started reading the One-Year chronological Bible.  I know, it's a little late in the year and I'm catching the end of the story, but it's kinda the best part! 

Hot drinks!  We all know I love coffee.  It will always be my first love, but these are also favorites:

Abuelita hot chocolate.  It is so chocolate-ee and cinnamon-ee and perfect!  Something about melting chocolate chunks in hot milk on the stove feels so homey!  Heehee!  I don't know if I can add any more "ee's"! 

Wassail is a yummy cider drink and it makes the house smell so delicious!

Speaking of hot drinks: Alas it is cold season. So far I have managed to stay healthy, but Scotty is home resting as I type this, so I've started drinking Emergen-C twice a day. I also take a mixture of cinnamon and local honey (1 tablespoon of honey and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon) - a spoonful 2-3 times a day. 

Hot tea with lemon and honey is so comforting this time of year and so soothing on a sore throat!

What are your cold remedies?

Making Stuff!  I got the idea for this wreath from the book I mentioned above, The Nesting Place. It's made of plastic spoons!  So easy!  Here's a link to The Nester's blog with the instructions.

This picture frame was a Pinterest project. I painted over the glass of an old picture frame with chalkboard paint and searched Pinterest for what I wanted to write on it.  

I also love making this simmering potpourri, using oranges and apples. You can also use cranberries instead of apples. Slice them and toss in a pot with 2 cinnamon sticks and a few whole cloves. Cover with water and simmer on the stove, adding more water as it evaporates. I've used the same mixture for 2-3 days.   

Products I've discovered!  Well, not invented discovered because I'm not that smart, but found discovered!

I found these Mrs. Meyers Clean Day soy candles on an end cap in the holiday section at Target.  I bought one for all of my friends for Christmas this year.  Shh!  Don't tell!  Celine loves the green one (Iowa Pine), but my favorite is the orange (Orange Clove).  The pink one is cranberry scented. 

Okay, so maybe I've been hiding under a rock and you all know about these already, but have you tried Jamberry nail wraps?  I love them!  Scotty's cousin sent me a sample and it was so easy to put on and lasted for two weeks!  I rarely paint my nails because it chips off so quickly.  I'm thinking this is going to solve all of my problems! Well, probably not all of them, but at least my nails will be cute!

Here are a few pictures of some more of my favorite Christmas-ee things:

I knew the Star Wars guys would be bell-ringing at WalMart, so I took my nephew to put some money in the pot and see some cool characters.

He was in awe of Darth Vador.  He's a pretty cool kid because the sand guy is his uncle.  Connections.

I love going to the Christmas parade with my sisters and plus I have an awesome niece and nephew that I like to watch for. 

The Nutcracker has been a part of our family since Celine was three years old.  We never miss it!

This is the second year for our Jesse tree.  I am so loving this new tradition. 

Spending time with my people is my all time year-round favorite!
At Disney on Ice

A walk with the family

Game night

IHOP with my girl

Getting picture updates of this adorable guy

Hanging out with my love

I know I've done a lot of rambling, but we've had a lot of catching up to do!  I would love to hear from you!  Tell me about some of your Christmas favorites!

Wishing you and your family a lovely Christmas!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

It's a Jungle Out There

The past several months have felt as messy as the flower bed in our front yard had become.  I sighed at the overgrown bed of weeds in the front yard as Scotty and I sipped our coffee on the patio.  The green elephant ears that once stood tall with bright red blooms were now dry and half eaten by pests.  The flower pots that once grew basil and lavender were hidden in a jungle of overgrown wild grass and stickers.  Kinda like life some days.  Sticky.  Dry.  Tired.  Overwhelming.


I put my headphones on and spent the morning watering the ground to soften the dirt.  It was just me, my thoughts and my music.  Sometimes you have to shut out all the noise and water the dry, thirsty soil of your heart.  I spent the time praying and drenching myself in music that reminded me that God is always good and I am never forsaken.  A few hours later, the flower bed looked clean and fresh and my heart was a little lighter.

The circumstances I have found myself in have humbled me deeply and have brought me to my knees.  Sometimes life doesn't turn out as expected and we are forced to adjust our sails.  There have been hard-getting-out-of-bed days and I-can't/don't-want-to-do-it-anymore days.  Then there have been days that I have found myself so deeply grateful for the people God has placed in my life during this season.  I want those days to happen more often.  It is a choice, you know.



It hasn't been all bad.  In the middle of stormy waters some pretty awesome things have happened, like a vacation and seeing our son and an amazing gift for my mom.

When you have a blog about faith and grace and encouragement, what do you do when you're the one needing the grace and encouragement?  When what you write is about what's happening in your life but what is happening is all consuming and exhausting, and you are not quite ready to write about it yet ... what then?

That's when I step back and stay quiet.  But here's the thing - I miss you.  I miss writing.  So here I am popping in to tell you that although there is a lot going on - I'm okay.  Really.  I know where my hope is.  I know that joy is just around the corner.  I'll write more later.  Promise.

The words may be few in the coming months, but I'll be popping in here and there - maybe for a five-minute Friday or when I have a burst of thought that I can't keep in.  Let's keep our hearts and eyes and ears open.  There are so many who are going through a difficult time.  Let's be kind and lift one another up in prayer, okay?

Love ya!

- Liv

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Five-Minute Friday: Because

It has been a difficult season and I haven't always handled it the best.  I would like to be a woman who wears her circumstances well, but there have been days I have snapped at my family or had a melt down over something small.  Stress has ached across my shoulders and too many times I have focused on my own lack of strength and despaired because of my inadequacy.  But then there are those moments when God lifts my chin and lovingly reminds me that He is my strength and He is carrying me.  He reminds me to watch as He works everything out.

Today I am in a comfortable rented condo with my mom as she recovers from her kidney transplant.  And she is doing so well!  This mornings bacon is lingering in the air.  Although it still feels like summer outside in Tucson, an apple crisp is baking in the oven, and it smells like Thanksgiving.  Mmmm.  Scotty and Cel are sitting together on the couch watching a movie, and I am feeling so grateful because even though sometimes life is hard, God is always good.

I am grateful because my mom has received an amazing gift.  Because I have a loving husband who  rubs the ache in my shoulders.  Because I have four siblings who are my best friends.  Because I have incredible friends who love, pray and offer their support.  Because God is in control and His grace is sufficient.  I don't have to have it all together.  What a relief! 

Bad days will come and go. They are the exception, not the rule.  Better days are coming.  There will be more gifts.  More joy.  No matter the circumstances there is one constant: God and His goodness.

I know it's Saturday, but that's what I love about Five-Minute Friday!  It's all about just writing raw.  The ladies who write over at FMF don't care about mistakes or if it's a day late!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

An Incredible Gift

In pre-op

After 5 1/2 years of dialysis treatments, 3 times a week; 3 hours at a time - my beautiful momma has a new kidney! The surgery went well.  Besides a couple of rough nights and fever due to her new medication (one out of what seems like a hundred!), she has been doing great!  Thank you for your prayers!  Keep 'em coming!

We could hardly believe it when we received the news that a kidney had come available for her.  We are so grateful for this gift, knowing that while we are rejoicing, another family is mourning.  Please lift them up in prayer.  Although we don't know who they are, we will forever owe them a debt of gratitude for changing my mom's life.

You can read more of my mom's story over at www.recovery4rae.com. My sister and her husband did a wonderful job setting up the website - please check it out! 

Speaking of my sisters.  I don't know what I would do without them and my brother. 

The past week and a half has been manic, to say the least.  Between setting up accounts, traveling 70 miles to and from the hospital, trying to figure out insurance stuff, making arrangements for her 24 hour care for the next 4-6 weeks and managing our own personal and work schedules - we all have carried one another.  Scotty and Celine also deserve a major award for putting up with the crazy lady (me) who has moved into our home!

Mr. Parker - A Christmas Story (Photo) 

Please continue to pray for my mom as she adjusts to new medications and the health challenges that come along with organ transplantation.  She is just at the beginning of her recovery journey.  Please pray that all will go well, without complications and that she will be home soon, enjoying her new life!

Thank you for your friendship!  I love having this space to share life together with you!

- Liv