Category Archives: Life Experiences

You Never Know How You’re Going To Feel Tomorrow.

I haven’t been looking forward to November getting here, because it means all of the holidays are upon us. Sounds pretty bah humbug, right? I even said to myself that I don’t feel like I’m going to be in the Christmas spirit this year. I just wasn’t feeling like I was going to feel the things I needed to feel, you know? Granted, it’s early to even be thinking in such terms, but let’s face it…..time travels so quickly these days. I found myself thinking about how expensive the season gets, how busy and full our days seem to get blah, blah, blah. You’re like, Dusty, I don’t even know you anymore. I know, right? But I woke up November 1st actually kind of feeling it. I felt that holiday energy I didn’t think I would feel. Maybe, it’s the cold weather outside. Maybe it’s just a new day. Or, maybe it was just I didn’t give myself time.

But, I woke up and just felt different.

I found myself asking Jett what he wanted for Christmas. He said, “I want that poster of Albert Einstein with his tongue sticking out, and I want to put it on the outside of my door!” I laughed, because, who asks for something like this? Jett Takle, of course.

And, I felt what I needed to feel when it was time to feel it.

The point of my story isn’t that suddenly I’m ready for the holidays and in the spirit. The point of my story is something my dad told me 17 years ago around this very time when I was going through a divorce.

“You never know how you’re going to feel tomorrow.”

I remember feeling depressed, heart-broken, wondering if I would ever feel happiness again. I was getting ready to sign divorce papers. I WAS A MESS. One day I was all up in my feelings, and my dad tells me, “You never know how you’re going to feel tomorrow.” I wipe my face and look at him and say, “YES, I DO. EXACTLY HOW I FEEL RIGHT NOW.”

But, I didn’t know.

I remember as clearly as this moment is right now, walking into sign those papers and leaving there feeling like a weight had been lifted.

I woke up the next morning, and I felt different. I felt hopeful. And, I felt happy.

I really didn’t know how I was going to feel tomorrow.

Whatever you are feeling today won’t last. Perhaps you’ve been in a season of feeling a certain way that you don’t like. Maybe you’re grieving something or someone. Maybe, you are feeling like you’re not passionate about something you feel like you should be passionate about. Maybe you feel like you’ll always feel this way. Maybe you’ve been dreading something that is being made worse by simply dreading it. Whatever it is, hold this truth close to your heart when you grow weary of that feeling:

You never know how you’re going to feel tomorrow.

So chin up, friends. His mercies are always new. And, you never know what tomorrow may bring.

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I’m Going Back To School!

I mean, I’m not going to be driving to a campus. But, I have enrolled in an online school to become a certified life coach! The initial certification will be finished before the year’s end. But, I will take additional classes next year that are more specific to the kind of topics and issues in coaching I want to zoom in on. When I initially shared this with my dad, he responded, “I don’t think you need to go to school for this. You are already doing this, and your life speaks loudly enough to validate being a life coach.” SUPER sweet thing for dad to say. But, there is SO much I don’t know as it pertains to ethics in coaching, and there is ALWAYS room for growth and learning. And, it’s something I wanted to my children to watch me do.

When I told my kids I was going back to school, their response was the freaking best. They have been so excited for me and SO supportive. John Henry immediately began thinking of a name for my life coaching endeavor. I’ll share that name at another time. When I told Anna, she responded, “Mom. YES! So much yes! And, I feel like this is going to put you in a position to write more, to minister more….to write your book!” Y’all…..their love and support and belief in me have meant everything. EVERYTHING.

Jett, however, was all like, “WHY DO YOU WANT TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL? WHY WOULD YOU DO THIS TO YOURSELF? HOW OLD ARE YOU?” God love that boy.

Everyone I have shared this with has been so encouraging. Most have said, “You already do this….” And, while that’s true on one level, there is always more. My dad has always said, “The more you do, the more you CAN do.” It’s so true in life. Kind of like when you lay around all day and are SO tired from doing nothing that you don’t want to do anything? But when you have one million things on your list of things to do, adding one more seems like no big deal. Life is funny that way. But, I feel like I’m adding something important to my to do list. I feel like this is the right thing to do and pursue. Actually, I know it is.

A couple of months ago, I was driving to church and heard in my spirit, “Do the little things. Stop trying to do one HUGE thing.” There are a lot of little things we do and can do that can impact not only our lives, but the lives of the people around us. While this new journey is a big thing, it will be the little things that come out of it that will be what really makes a difference. And I’m pretty excited about it.

Virgin Gorda.JPG

This pic is me doing something I didn’t initially want to do, because the journey there was going to be long and bumpy…..and, I’m not exactly an outdoorsy kind of girl. But I did it and LOVED it, and I have so many ridiculous selfies to prove it. So, here’s to a journey that might be long and get bumpy, but I know will be so worth it!

Also, wondering if this means I get to go back to school shopping?

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I Can’t Wait To Hear Your Music.

It’s been a long minute since I blogged. I woke up this morning wanting to document my thoughts on 2018. And, what I am feeling in this very moment.

Some years seem like challenging years because of loss. Loss of a loved one, loss of a marriage, loss of job, etc. Some years seem challenging because of struggles in health or finances. One thing I’m kind over, though, is defining a year as one thing. “It was a hard year.” “It was a disappointing year.” “It was a challenging year.” It’s not that those words can’t necessarily define a season or experience, but I’ve grown tired of it defining a year. The truth is, life can sometimes be hard. It can be disappointing. It can be challenging. And, life will always be that way. But in the space in between, it can also be amazing. It can be filled with tender moments. It can be filled with moments you laugh so hard until you cry. It can be filled with tiny victories and big victories. And, this is life. Not a year. Life.

I do love the feeling, however, a new year brings. A new chance to be better. A new opportunity to accept things I once struggled with or a new opportunity to embrace the in between moments with more awareness of how precious they are. And, I lean into that feeling with excitement and readiness. And, I lean into it bringing every lesson that 2018 brought me.

2018 has been filled with all of the moments and seasons described above. It’s been challenging at times, disappointing at times, hard at times. It’s been filled with the tenderest moments and some really great victories. It’s been a year of crazy growth. And, I am thankful for every single moment and season.

The disappointing moments taught me to wipe the tears from my face, look up, and look ahead. My year began with a knee injury in January and a back injury in February. And, then in March, I would preach a message that would inspire some and bother others. I got it. I understood both kinds of responses. It kind of shook my internal world for a bit. But, what I learned from it all is that 1) Time does heal the body. Be patient. And, 2) “Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.” – Alan Watts

I stirred way more than necessary, and then I had to wait on the water to clear again. Next time, I’ll be more gentle, but I’ll also accept that not everyone is going to see things the same way as I do, and that’s ok. Accept it, be tolerant, continue to be you, and move on. When you stir things and create muddy water, you are no longer able to see clearly and truth becomes blurred. But if you remain still, and leave whatever that thing/person is that’s causing you turmoil alone, it will all clear. And, what Spirit has been revealing to you will remain in tact. And, it won’t take you near as long to recover from it.

The challenging moments taught me to trust the process, and don’t try to fit the round peg into a square hole. We kept trying to do this with adding on to our house. We ran into road blocks every time we engaged the idea. Kris never had real peace about it, but I wanted what I wanted. Don’t we always? Kris went along for the ride, trusting that I would hear what he heard and saw what he saw. Here, I learned: 1) Don’t force what you see and hear onto someone else. Trust the same Spirit that reveals things to you will reveal things to them. And, sure enough, I finally listened. And, 2) You’ll be so glad you didn’t force that thing that kept working against you. You’ll be glad you flowed with life. We now have a getaway that has already created the best family memories for us instead of an addition that gave me what? More to clean? What I thought was working against me was actually working for me. There are only two ways to view challenging moments: Working for you or working against you. They are always, ALWAYS working for you.

The inspiring moments have taught me that there is always more. Moments of victory, moments around the table, moments where you stir gratitude until you are overwhelmed by it…..hold tightly to them, because the longer you hold onto them, the greater it gets, and only more follows. But the more comes by not just holding onto the good, but digging your heels in and going after it. Getting dirty and rolling back your sleeves in every possible beautiful way and making happen what you want to make happen. We either let life happen to us or we make it happen for us. And, this is how I am rolling into 2019.

Back in October, I knew I needed a shift. As a matter of fact, I focused so much on the word “shift” that I remembered a movie my mom has begged me to watch for the past two years. TWO YEARS. It’s called “The Shift” with Wayne Dyer. I have yet to escape this quote from that movie: “Don’t die with your music still inside you.” My music isn’t just for me. Your music isn’t just for you. It’s for every person in your life and those who are yet to be in your life. It’s for the people you may or may never meet. You have something to give to this world. We just have to shift our thinking from “What can I get” to “What can I give.” And, then give it.

I’ve seen and read this quote all over the internet: “Your greatest calling may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” I’m with this in theory, and raising my children IS my greatest calling….but I think it eliminates any thought that YOU bring something powerful into this world all by yourself. I cannot expect my children to believe they can achieve greatness and fill the earth with something amazing and impactful if I can’t believe that for myself. My children will become what they see. In every area of their lives. I owe it to them to show up, pay attention, and let my music happen.

So, that’s how I’m entering into 2019. There is a lot of music inside of me. There is a lot of music inside of you. I need your music, and you need mine. We can either let life happen, or we can MAKE music happen. Christmas Eve night, Kris and I went to bed, and he looked at me and said, “Take ownership. Do it. Stop waiting for something to happen, and go after it.” It was the most random, out of the blue affirmation. And, it was just the thing I needed to seal it on my heart.

I hope this seals something in your heart. Take ownership. Do it. Stop waiting for something to happen, and go after it. 2019 has a lot in store for you. Hard moments, disappointing ones, challenging ones, growing ones, fun ones, amazing ones, victorious ones. They are all happening for you. And, I can’t wait to hear your music.

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Sixteen Candles

JH 16

You know from day one that this day will arrive. But, you never imagine how quickly it does. And, believe me moms of littles, time goes by as quickly as people tell you it will. It seems like yesterday that John Henry was a little 4 year old boy coming into my room every morning requesting “toast and syrup.” It seems like yesterday he was putting on his Bob the Builder tool belt ready to fix all the things. It seems like yesterday he was fighting Darth Vader down the hallway with his light saber. So many seasons have come and gone, and every single one feels like we were just living in it. And, as fun and wonderful as every season has been, nothing compares to the one we are in now. And, I have tears hitting my keyboard as I type this….because, I am so proud of the man John Henry is and how amazing the now moments are.

Dear John Henry,

There are no adequate words to tell of your kindness. You are the most aware human I know. You are aware of every person in a room, and you never fail to make sure the people around know they are noticed. You serve your school, your church, your friends, and your family. And, while we are all so proud and thankful for all you do, I am most proud and thankful for who you are. I would like to tell you not to focus on “doing” today, but I know that is pretty hard for you. But, like Pastor Will told you this summer, your word is “be.” You are all together enough and amazing simply by being you. You carry the presence of God everywhere you go, and we are always made better by it. And, because you carry it with such awareness, you have become it.

You get sixteen candles today. So, here are sixteen things I love about you:

1. I love how you say “Momma” when you just want to show me love. (And, when you want something.)

2. I love how you love your little sister and brother. I know there were times when they drove you crazy. But, you’ve become not only tolerant of the hard stuff siblings share, you’ve become an active participant in their lives, and you love spending time with them. John, you are the BEST big brother.

3. I love how you trust your Daddy Kris and will go to him first about anything going on in your life. I’ve become okay not knowing everything…..sort of….but, I’m so proud that you are so open to seek wise counsel. Walk with the wise and become wise. You get this.

4. I love how you love music and the energy and time you put into it. Your passion for playing music is so fun for me to watch and enjoy.

5. I love how sensitive you are to people and how carefully you walk in your relationships with them.

6. I love how you aren’t afraid to confront the hard stuff and have the hard conversations face to face. Real face to face conversations are a rarity these days, but you’ve taught yourself how important they are.

7. I love that you don’t feel the need to conform to other people’s expectations and are comfortable in your own lane. Stay in your lane. This is where you will always be happiest.

8. I love how you consider my friends your friends. Believe me, my friends consider you theirs.

9. I love your humor. I also love that you laugh at me. (You know this is very important. Ha.)

10. I love how you immediately step into the role of man of the house when dad is gone. You think to do things usually before even being asked. Sometimes, you over-parent, but that’s okay. Anna will remind you that you’re not her dad. But, seriously, I know your heart is to make sure everything and everyone is okay.

11. I love how you aren’t careless with your words. Because of this, when you speak, people listen.

12. I love how you constantly look for the good in others, and as a result, you always find it. Even when it may be hard for others to see, you know that everyone deserves to be defended. Thank you for teaching me that.

13. I love how you appreciate a good half-zip, pull-over sweater. It’s so fun to shop for you.

14. I love how you still love Marvel, and you don’t care who knows it.

15. I love how sensitive you are to the Spirit and honest you are with yourself and others. You are the most humble, real, honest person I know. “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.….” (Psalm 139:23-24) John, THIS is the position you always take, and it blows us away.

16. I love that you are also my friend. My bud. I LOVE hanging out with you.

The best part of my life began September 24, 2002. Every day, every season gets better and better with you. Whoever said raising a teenager was hell doesn’t know John Henry Landreth. You make raising a teenager so much fun….so freaking amazing.

I love you, JH. Thank you for making me a mom. And, thank you for driving SO SAFELY AND CAUTIOUSLY AND FOR STILL LETTING ME DRIVE YOU PLACES SOMETIMES, BECAUSE, I’M GOING TO NEED TO SOMETIMES, AND BECAUSE I CAN’T EVEN WITH THIS, YET I’M SO EXCITED FOR YOU AND FOR ME AT THE SAME TIME. And thanks for getting it. And for getting me.

Text me when you arrive safely at every single place, but NOT WHILE YOU’RE DRIVING. K?

Happy 16th Birthday, bud. You make us all so very proud.

Love,
Mom

JH 16 3

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Don’t Kill the Wonder.

Wonder

I receive these texts every morning with some sort of positive affirmation or healthy advice for the day. Today, the text read, “Unapologetically seek bliss today.” The text link led me to an article called “‘Ikagai’ is Japan’s Secret to Living a Long, Happy Life.” The author writes that ikagai is “the happiness of always being busy, but it doesn’t mean a schedule packed with mindless errands and activities. Rather, the thing that makes you want to get up in the morning, makes you want to work hard, and colors your life with purpose.” She further writes, “When you follow through on things you enjoy and limit the things you don’t, you’re taking steps towards pursuing what’s important to you.” (Anna Meyer)

This came at such a perfect time as my dad and I were discussing yesterday how so many lose their wonder in life. The truth is, we kill it. Or someone else kills it for us. We kill it in our children completely unaware that we are doing it. When we seek after the things that fill us with joy, we inspire that wonder. When we stop, so does the wonder.

We tell our kids things like, “You can’t always get what you want.” We tell them, “Life isn’t always one big party.” I’ve done it. I’m sure you have. I know our hearts behind it aren’t wrong. We think we are teaching them responsibility. And, that lesson is important. We think we are teaching them to be realistic with their wants and goals. Now, THAT lesson isn’t so much. We think if our little ones want too many things, then they aren’t thankful for what they already have. So, we squelch or diminish the importance or value in them wanting something. We kill their wonder.

It’s not that we never use the word “no.” It IS that we become facilitators, teaching them how to create their world. Teaching them that life IS meant to be full of wonder. Teaching them it’s okay to seek happiness. A couple of years ago I read a book by Shefali Tsabary called “Out of Control.” She is also the author of the “The Conscious Parent,” which may be more familiar to you. One chapter was titled, “How to Say ‘Yes’ or ‘No” Effectively.” My conversation with dad prompted me to pull this book back off the shelf. I’m glad I did. I began reading again about how we kill their wonder when we don’t value what they desire. Tsabary writes that we “deliver messages such as, ‘You are being so greedy, you should be ashamed of yourself. Don’t you know that money doesn’t grow on trees? You seem to think we are made of money.’ Shaming our children for their honest desires in this way, we dishonor their feelings. A practical matter has become a personal issue, with the parent feeling frustrated and the child rejected. Our children have every right to want things – this is normal and healthy. It indicates they have a connection to their lives.”

You see our purpose isn’t to run out and buy those things for them. I’m not arguing you can’t. Sometimes, the joy of parenting is saying, “Yes. Let’s go get this.” BUT, the beauty for us as parents is to facilitate their dreams. To teach them to have goals. To help them create ways to work for these things and attain them. To let them know that we are for them and will partner with them. “Our children learn they are active co-creators in their universe, able to actualize their dreams through action. Such children grow up to make good decisions in life.”

I dare say, such children grow up to never lose their wonder for life. Because, we as parents have taught them what it means to truly be created in God’s image – Elohim – creators. Creators are always inspired. And, that inspiration always comes from wonder. So, everyday, they get up and unapologetically seek bliss by actively fulfilling their life’s purpose.

Finally, I would say that this is not selfish. It sounds self-fulfilling. Partially, it is. But, as each one fulfills his or her purpose, the rest of the world benefits. We all gain from each other’s gifts. Am I trying to create a world filled with magic and love and peace and hope and bliss? Am I THAT crazy to think it’s possible? You better believe I am. Now, YOU. Go seek bliss today.

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The Pause Is Everything.

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One of my mentors always reminds me that “hurry up” is not a quality of the fruit of the spirit. The fruit of the spirit is actually quite the opposite…..specifically qualities like patience and self-control. I know this. Yet, I forget this often. And, self-control is the key to slowing down.

Self-control is the key to the pause.

And, the pause is everything. I mean EVERYTHING.

The other day I had to pick up some papers that were set outside an office building for me. They were being held up by a large 2×4. In my hastiness, I grabbed the papers and knocked the 2×4 on my foot. Every explicative went through my head, and I left there angry at the 2×4 and the people who thought putting it there was a good idea. The reality is I rushed as I do everything. Not paying attention to my steps or my surroundings. I just acted and reacted without giving it any thought. Without a pause. So, the universe simply responded to my actions. Gravity, like it always does, did its job, and the 2×4 came crashing down on my foot. Had I slowed down and taken notice of the moment, I suspect I could have prevented the entire incident.

The spirit has also been speaking to me about the power of the pause in how I take care of my body. I grab a snack bar for breakfast, albeit “gluten free”, because I don’t want to pause an entire 5 minutes to fry an egg. When the egg offers me much more good for my body…..and in those five minutes of pausing, my thoughts slow down. In those 5 minutes, I notice my thoughts aren’t just on the egg itself. But, my thoughts quiet for a moment to hear what my Spirit is saying. To listen. To be still. In those 5 minutes, my entire being benefits: body, soul, and spirit. That’s the power of the pause. Again, I say, the pause is everything.

Abandoning the pause can affect everything in our lives. And, often times, we don’t acknowledge our condition as a failure to pause. When in reality, our condition is often the effect of our haste. We make a bad decision, because we do not pause. We respond with anger or hurtful words, because we do not pause. We hurt ourselves, because we do not pause. We hurt others, because we do not pause.

We miss moments with our children, because we do not pause. We fail to see the goodness in our partner’s eyes, because we do not pause. We miss God in the moment when we are with other people when we do not pause.

But, when we DO pause. We just don’t save ourselves and others from our hasty reactions…..but, we absorb life itself in all of its goodness. We see God in all things and in all people. We walk like barefoot priests careful of where we step, careful of the direction we take, tender with the words we speak. We pause, and we ABSORB LIFE. We absorb His presence, because, His presence is in the pause. We hear Him speak, and we make better choices. We zoom out, and don’t just see the one tree, but we see the entire forest. Instead of looking at one date on my calendar I see an entire week, month, year, life.

The pause makes us thankful, because it becomes impossible to not think of something good when we slow down. That gratitude moves us and motivates us to lead our day with eyes that see and ears that ear what we need to see and hear. The more we pause, the more grateful we become. The more grateful we become, the more good things we see and attract to our lives….simply because we are expanding in our thankfulness for life.

But, it cannot happen without the pause.

I have a cousin named Mark. He is, no doubt, one of the greatest beings walking this planet. He is never in a hurry yet nothing in his world is ever left undone. Easter Sunday, he lingered after church and talked to me for a long time. I had a brief thought of surely he has to get to his family lunch….surely, I have to get to my family lunch. But, I abandoned that thought immediately and paused. There have been moments I have thought Mark paused, because HE needed that pause. The truth is, I needed it. In the moments I have thought I was giving to him, he is the one who has been giving to me. That’s the power of the pause. It’s not just for ourselves.

Pause. Observe. Absorb. You will see more clearly. You will make better decisions. Others won’t taste your haste in word or action. 2x4s won’t make you want to shout explicatives. Practice it. Write it on your hand until it’s written on your heart. Just slow down in every single way possible.

The pause everything.

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Make Space For the Season.

blog-space

The other day, I sat in mom and dad’s living room and began recalling my childhood Christmases. The subject came up when I told Anna about the time each of my parents thought the other was buying my presents. We call it “the Christmas my parents forgot me.” Their only child. Just one. Me. It’s actually one of my dad’s favorite Christmas stories to tell. Well, besides the one when dad asked me when I was a little girl to tell him if the lights on the tree were working. “Now they are. Now they aren’t. Now they are. Now they aren’t.” I didn’t realize they were blinking lights. My mom, however, hates the story of forgetting me. She was a flight attendant then, and her schedule was crazy. But, dad and I have laughed about that Christmas so many times. I was older, and I got it. I wasn’t hurt or disappointed. But, I laughed. (And, I caught my dad later that day writing a check to stick inside my stocking.) I wasn’t disappointed, because everything I ever could have needed or wanted from my parents I received. I’m not talking about the things. I’m talking about the relationships. The love. The real stuff that doesn’t get old or break or fade.

After I told Anna that story, I began remembering all of my Christmases when I was a little girl. I remembered the Christmas morning I got Dolly Pops. I had wanted those for a solid year. I remember the Christmas where Ken and Barbie were sitting on their Barbie horses, and another Barbie was taking a dip in her pool that mom filled with water. I remembered the Christmas I opened up a my burgundy velvet blazer and navy blue tie. I guess I was channelling my inner Diane Keaton that year. I began to tell my parents and my own children that while I knew my Christmases weren’t “big” by most standards, they always felt big. Dad was pastoring a small church on a very modest income. They couldn’t do the big. But, I told them, “It always felt big. They were the best Christmases.”

I watched tears stream down my mom’s face. Did she not know that they always felt big and were so perfect to me? Did she not know that I never felt slighted growing up but, instead, only loved every part of what the season brought our family? The peace, the smiles, the joys, the laughs, the hugs, the thank-yous, the blinking lights?

Last night, I sat in my own living room with my two oldest children who are hardly children anymore. John Henry looks at me and says, “Mom, can you give my big presents to another kid this year or is that not an option?” Later Anna says, “Mom, last Christmas was great. Don’t get me wrong. Everyone loves presents. But, I don’t want so many gifts taking up our time together.” Then, in her hilarious Donald Trump voice she said, “I’m going to build a wall around the tree and gifts.” (Seriously, her Trump impression rivals only that of Alec Baldwin.)

“I want to make space between the gifts and this,” she said, stretching her arms toward John Henry and me. “There is nothing I need. I just want this.”

Did I not know that my kids simply loved every part of what the season brought our family? The peace, the joys, the laughs, the hugs, the thank-yous, the lights that do not blink? Not the things that get old or break or fade. The relationships. The love. The real stuff.

In all of your hectic shopping, your worry over if you have bought enough, done enough, given enough….Pause, stop, breathe. Your kids will have more than they need or want because of YOU. Because, you laugh in the kitchen together while making Chex-mix. Because, you put away your phones and look them in the eyes and listen to them. Because, you take a break from homework and laundry and cry together watching This Is Us. (Have mercy, that show is everything right now.) Because, they watch you say something encouraging to their dad. Because, they watch their dad bring their mom coffee. Because, they see stockings for John Henry’s dad and step-mom hung at my parents’ house. Because, they see what love looks like. How it walks, how it talks, how it moves, how it pauses, how it gives.

Make space between the gifts and this. Fill that space with everything you are. Fill that space absorbing everything your children are. That’s what a big Christmas looks like. Make space for the season. Make space for the real stuff that doesn’t break. But for the stuff that gets you through your hardest seasons. The stuff that assures you that God is always for you and will not fail you. The stuff that reminds you to always make space for forgiveness, for gratitude, and for loving well. The stuff that reminds you that YOU ARE ENOUGH and you are amazing and you are INSANELY loved. Make space for that stuff. Nothing else matters. It’s all about your relationships. I can assure you of that.

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