Friday, June 27, 2014

Five-Minute Friday: Lost

 Get lost.

This weekend may you get lost in a good story.

Lose your composure and have a good cry.  A belly laugh.  A jump for joy.

Get lost in the music.  In your thoughts.  In your art.

Lose yourself in watching that sweet baby sleep.

In being thankful for this good, good life.

Take a moment to get lost and let those kids come find you.  Then do it again. 

Take that loved one by the hand and get lost together so you can find one another after all this time.

Just ... get lost this weekend.


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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How I...Forgive

I grew up hearing about forgiveness.  I heard how Jesus forgave me for my sins.  I was taught to forgive when somebody broke my crayons or stepped on my toe.  Children forget and move on so easily.  Playing is more fun than being mad.  Really, forgiveness was a vague concept for me back then.  As an adult, forgiveness has proven to be much more complicated.  How do I know I've really forgiven and moved on, especially when the issue keeps popping it's ugly self up?

I remember that first bowled-over-punched-in-the-gut feeling.  The betrayal knocked the wind right out of me.  What I hated most was that as much as I wanted to hurt that person back, I knew I had to forgive them.  As much as I wanted them to feel the exact shame, stupidity, naivete and betrayal that they made me feel, I had to let go of my right to stay angry.  And trust me - I felt entitled to it.  I had been wronged.  No doubt about it.

It felt so unfair.  Here I was left holding my broken heart in one hand and my anger in the other.  I now had the responsibility of sorting out those feelings and trying to figure out how to forgive and I WAS NOT THE ONE WHO HAD DONE ANYTHING WRONG IN THE FIRST PLACE!  It felt like they got off easy. 

This is what I have learned:

Anger is not a sin.  Uncontrolled anger and a temper are.  There are situations when anger is a correct, normal emotion.  I learned that it is okay to acknowledge my anger and to let myself be angry.   But I can't stop there.  I mean, I guess I could, but I don't want to shrivel up into an angry and bitter person.
Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger...  Ephesians 4:26
Unforgiveness is a sin.  It is not an option for the believer.  We are commanded to forgive, just as Christ has forgiven us.
  If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your sins.  - Matthew 6:14-15
Forgiveness is not sweeping what a person did under the rug.  It does not make what they did okay.  It definitely does not mean that I am a doormat to continue abusing and walking over.  It does not even mean that I have to continue a relationship with that person.  Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation.  Unfortunately, sometimes reconciliation is not possible.

It is not up to me to decide whether a person is truly sorrowful for what they did or just sorry they got caught.  That is between them and God.  My responsibility is for myself.  My heart.  My anger.  My forgiveness.   

How do I forgive?

All at once and then a little bit at a time.

I forgive all at once by intentionally making the decision that I am going to forgive.   But it doesn't stop there.

I may still feel hurt.  And anger.  And betrayal.  That person may not be on my favorites list.  This is when I forgive a little bit at a time.  Every time I am reminded about how I have been wronged, I have to choose again to forgive. 

Wouldn't it be great if we chose once to forgive and that would be the end of it?  That may be the case over spilt milk, but in many situations, forgiveness is a process.  A habit.  Sometimes I must choose forgiveness daily - or moment by moment.  Just like I must choose joy daily.  Just like I have to choose whether or not I am going to exercise today.  Or pray.  Or have a good attitude.  Every. Single. Day.  I have to choose.  Some days I mess it up big time.  I am just too weary ... or lazy, to fight for it.  I spend the day angry and sad and miserable.  I do not want those days to become my every day.

I have found that as time has passed, the wounds have begun to heal.  I find that I am no longer consumed by all the feelings.  The scars remain.  Reminders pop up.  Sometimes I feel some irritation, but as long as I don't pick at it - it subsides.  I continue to choose forgiveness.  Because, although some really sucky things have happened, mostly, really great things have happened to me.  Like Jesus and His forgiveness.  Like a family and a home and friendship.  Like summer and gardens and Christmas and pretty lights.  I have too many good things to live for.  So today, I choose forgiveness because I am worth it.  And so are you.

- Liv

This post is a part of a weekly link-up over at  Click the button below to read more "How I..." posts.  The next link-up is on July 9th and is on "How I ... Listen".  Join in? 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Brown Paper Packages ...

Every now and then a few girlfriends and I will get together for a Pinterest party.  They are full of great ideas, some flops, lots of laughing and of course, food!   This time around I hosted a Favorite Things party.  Oh my!  There are such great ideas out there on Pinterest!  Here's how it went down:

I invited the girls over for coffee and a 'favorite things exchange'.  I stuck with the 'brown paper packages' theme, adding pops of color in the plates, utensils and flowers.

The Invitations

These were fun to make, especially now that we have a Hobby Lobby!  I found the plain brown cards and address labels there.  I hand wrote on the front of the card and printed the details on a Martha Stewart label I bought at Staples.  I finished it off with string I already had around the house.  So simple.  So easy.  My kind of thing! 

The instructions were to bring a favorite thing, $5 or less for each person.  Suggestions were something homemade, lotions, soaps, candles, gift cards, etc.  We kept this gathering small to keep the cost from getting out of hand!

The Decorating

This was my favorite part.  My living room has one couch only, so I brought in pieces of furniture from other rooms to accommodate the seating of more than just 3 bottoms.  I loved the transformation!  I'd keep it this way if it didn't mean empty rooms in other parts of the house!


 The Food

My next favorite thing is NOT cooking.  I kept the menu very simple.  Probably for most, the food would be the main attraction.  You might enjoy preparing a meal for your friends.  SO NOT ME!  Although I would love to eat anything you make!  It may seem unfair, I know, but it's a public service, really.  The only thing I used the oven for was Pillsbury orange-glazed cinnamon rolls.  I managed to burn the second batch.  THIS IS WHY I WOULD RATHER NOT!  

We had cinnamon rolls that weren't burnt, yogurt with berries and granola, coffee mocha almonds, strawberry almonds, coffee and biscotti and strawberry lemonade.


I'm hoping the cute wooden spoons (Hobby Lobby) and french-pressed coffee made up for the lack of culinary creativity!

The Friends 

This was my absolute favorite part!  These girls just laughed with me over the burnt cinnamon rolls and loved me anyway.  We ate.  We cooed over our baby guest.  We caught up on what's been going on in our worlds because no matter how often we try to get together, it's never enough!

The Gifts

Each lady shared what her favorite books, quotes, music, hobbies, etc. are.  A common favorite was the author, Francine Rivers and her Mark of the Lion series and Redeeming Love.  If you haven't read these - YOU MUST!  Of course coffee, chocolate and family were among other common favorites. 

Then we each passed out our gifts.  Here are some of the goodies:

I gave a Dayspring mug because COFFEE and because I love that Dayspring carries (in)courage items
A journal and something pretty to hang on the wall
Fuzzy socks and a Bath and Body Works candle
Melalueca lip balm, a great pen and chocolate
Bath salts and a candy bar that was gone before I could take a picture
An adorable 31 nail file (love their bags!) and lotion
A Pinterest craft: Flip flops that we slip-knotted cording around.  Such a fun activity to end our morning!

Everyone went home with a box full of favorite things!  We had a great time!  I'm not a cook and my home is not perfect, but I can always offer a cup of coffee and a place to sit down together.   I do love brown paper packages tied up with string, but friends are one of my most favorite things!

Have you ever hosted or been to a Pinterest party or a Favorite Things party?  I'd love to hear about it!  Or post a link in the comments if you've blogged about it!

- Liv

Check out this cover of "My Favorite Things" from the Sound of Music!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"Yo Soy Contento": Remembering my Tata

Remembering my Tata always, but especially today.  Wishing I was sitting in his living room listening to him talk and sipping my Nana's iced tea.  He went home to be with his Jesus one year ago.  I am re-posting what I wrote that day:

The smell of corn tortillas warming on a black griddle and Mexican music takes me instantly to my grandparent's house.  We visited them about once a year, growing up.  As soon as we walked in we'd hear, "HEY!  Long time no see!"

My Tata was loud and feisty.  He spoke a little English.  I speak very little Spanish.  Two things he was sure to say several times during our visits were "Noni!", calling my Nana, and "Cierra la puerta!" (close the door!).  He didn't want the cold air to go out the front door with the opening and closing. 

Although I couldn't understand 90% of what he was saying, I enjoyed hearing him talk about politics and Jesus, because he was passionate about both.  And his laughter.  It was the kind that makes you want to laugh too.  He had a singing fish - the kind that is on a wooden plaque that dances when you press the button.  My Tata would laugh every time he heard it.  He also had a stuffed parrot that would repeat everything you said.  It wouldn't take long for us to tire of it, but he never did.  Haha!  The things that gave him joy. 

Jesus also gave him joy.  He loved church.  During worship time he would clap his hands big.  Not loud big, but round big.  He would bring his hands up and together around in circle.  And always off beat.  Although he didn't know the words very well he would sing them loudly.  Mostly they were wrong.  *Smile*

When we last sat in his living room he said many times, "Yo soy contento." (I am happy).  My Nana interpreted as he told us that he was happy for his home and his car and that he had many children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was happy that we were there visiting with him.  He talked about coming to visit us.  We knew that at 94, that would not be possible for him.  We brought him a pastry from the Mexican bakery.  My sister, Ang and I peeked into "our" room to see if the Donald Duck light switch plate we remembered was still there.  It was.  It used to glow in the dark.  We had some of my Nana's iced tea.  Nobody makes it like she does.  We took pictures and after a wonderful time, we hugged goodbye. 

I didn't know that it would be our last goodbye.  Today, my Tata went home to be with his Jesus.  Although I am sad, I smile as I imagine him singing and dancing and clapping that big round clap.  Offbeat.  He's laughing and saying "yo soy contento".  I'll see him again.  When I do I'm going to give him a big hug and say, "Long time no see!".  And we will be contento.  Muy contento.

I love you, Tata.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Five Minute Friday: Messenger

I got this text message from my son the other morning:


Oh, my heart.

Although we will see him later this summer, I'm jelly that my sister and nephew are spending a week with him AND I'M NOT THERE.

It's been six months.  Six months since a piece of my heart jumped on a bus and headed out of state to have his own adventures.  Six months since I've wrapped my arms around him, as he towers over me.  For over six months we have had milk and cheese in the fridge.  I haven't heard my daughter say, "Who ate all the...".  I haven't told him to do his laundry, or that his clothes are too wrinkly or to put his dishes in the sink.  (I'm not sayin' it hasn't crossed my mind...) It has been SIX MONTHS TOO LONG.

This boy makes me laugh.  And exasperates me.  He was born with a smile and a sense of humor.  This is the little boy who clung to me every time the scary garbage truck came by; the little guy who refused to ride the ferris wheel.  He still does.  He has brought such joy and laughter; some battles and tears.  Through it all, it is so good to know that he loves his momma. So so much.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

How I Write

I love blogging.  I think often about you and what I want to say to you.  I wish I could write here more frequently because I like you so much!

I started blogging for two reasons:

1) I have always enjoyed writing, but like many things we love in life - I rarely made time for it.  I wanted to have a reason to force myself to slow down and just do it.  And you are a great reason!  I love writing to you!

I've kept a journal for as long as I can remember.  When we were assigned book reports in grade school, I secretly did a happy dance while the rest of the class moaned.  I wondered why everyone dreaded it so much - I just wrote what came into my mind and it sounded like how I think.  It came so much easier to me than math.  Writing allows me to sort my thoughts so I can say exactly what I mean.  I feel like you really get to know a person by how and what they write.  It's so personal.  If I have something important to say to you I am going to write it, because when I say it out loud, it doesn't seem to come out right.

2) I wanted to create a space for encouragement.  Being a wife, mommy, daughter, sister, friend and human in general can be hard and we need each other!

At this point I don't keep a schedule.  If something is on my mind, I write it.  In anything I write, I am preaching to myself.  If I write a post encouraging you to see your value, it is because I am feeling inadequate myself.  It takes me anywhere from a few hours to several days to write a post.  No matter how long it takes - I can't concentrate on anything else until I've hit publish!  I become obsessed!  I have a writing room, which I love to use because it's pretty and smells nice, but my favorite spot is in between the sheets with a cup of something and my thoughts.  I do my best thinking in the morning after a good nights sleep.  I'm a morning person fer shur.

As with anything, I have plentiful seasons and I have dry seasons.  I keep quiet during the scarce times because I never want to write empty words just to fill space.  Ain't nobody got time for that!  It's during these times that I most appreciate link-ups and prompts, because I really do want to talk to you!   I have met some of my biggest encouragers and the sweetest people through link-ups.  I am blessed to have come across such wonderful blogging communities!

And that is basically it.  Simple.  Very un-perfect.  I just ... write.  Because I love it.  And because I like you.  So  per chance somebody wanted my advice it would be this:

Just do it.  There is no perfect formula.  We have to start somewhere.  If I had waited until I had more time, or more experiences or did more research, I would never have begun.  Just take the first step.  And besides, it's cheap therapy!
 "Forget all the rules.  Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate  writing." - Melinda Haynes
- Liv 
  Click the "How I..." button to join the link-up or to read more posts

Monday, June 9, 2014

The "How I..." Community

I think I love link-ups!  I am joining the "How I..." community!

Elise Hurd over at The Giving Place recognizes that...
"We need each other’s wisdom, perspectives, and life experiences.
I have days where I am desperate for another approach to try, for a fresh perspective, for the words to say, for the prayer to pray, for a resource to try.
And I have experiences I would like to share without them coming across as a prescription for your circumstances." (Elise Hurd)
We all like to share what works for us in a myriad of situations and I appreciate all the help I can get from others.  But if you're like me, I'd much rather hear "this is how I do/did it" rather than "you should do this or that".  The first gives you the option to evaluate whatever bit of advice is being given and choose if it will work for your particular situation.  I would rather hear and learn from your story than be told what to do.

This is why Elise created the "How I..." community.  Each week she will post a prompt.  We will have an opportunity to share our experiences or perspective on the given prompt on our blogs or in the comments.

The first link-up goes live this Wednesday, June 11th.  The prompt is:

How I...Write

If you have a blog, you can head on over here to link up, or come back to LivGrace on Wednesday and join in on the comments or on Facebook.

Yay for learning from each others stories!