Friday pray along

Each gumdrop is in its place...
All the presents have been wrapped...

All the Advent doors have been opened...

The Christ Child has completed the Nativity...

Oh yes, the big day is here. For us, Christmas Eve holds almost more magic than Christmas Day. We get together with friends, open presents, eat the same soup I've had every year since I can remember and we go to my favorite mass of the year. There is just something about Christmas Eve mass that feels more peaceful, more joyful, more holy. (Perhaps that explains why everyone who just couldn't make it all year round somehow manages to get to this one amazing service.)

Of course, no mass is holier than another, but taking a moment (or 90 minutes) to pause, reflect upon and celebrate the arrival of Our Lord Incarnate is certainly something special. I love it. I know it is so trite to say it, but sometimes the truth is just that... There is no better gift in the universe than the birth of the world's Savior.

So today, tonight, I will sing my prayer:

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love's pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord at Thy birth

What are you praying for this Christmas Eve? 

Here's how it works: Leave a prayer request in the comments on Friday's posts. It can be anything--something you are thankful for, a friend you are worried about, a desire from your heart... Anything. By leaving a comment you are also committing to pray for others who comment as well. We'll start fresh each week. That's it. You can even be anonymous if you wish.

Christmas card outtakes

Funny how my favorite time of year brought along with it my least favorite task: taking the annual Christmas card photo. All year long Addie smiles at the camera, poses and says, "CHEESE!" any time I ask. But for some reason when it's time to take the important picture, the one that goes out to practically everyone we know, she refuses to cooperate. Add a four-month-old (yes, I said four (HUGE sigh)) into the mix and you've got a total recipe for disaster... Well, depending on your perspective.

At first, Curt and I were getting super frustrated because all of our efforts to create the serene, adorable, isn't our family just perfect and cute? picture was SO not happening. I took a few, then he looked at them and said, "Why don't you let me try?" Then I looked at those and said, "Why don't you let me try again?" This went on for a while until we both realized that it didn't matter who was behind the lens: if the picture ain't there, it just ain't there.

Later on that evening we sat at the computer and viewed all 113 shots. Not a one fit the bill for the most perfect Christmas card. But as we looked, we couldn't stop laughing. Our kids may not have created a super picturesque photograph, but they were pretty darn hilarious. As it turned out, the card itself contained the best of the three outtakes, as all 113 pictures fit that category. Here are a few that didn't make the cut:

Ahhh... Merry Christmas!

Friday pray along

Deep breath in... and slowly breathe out. That has been my mantra ever since I went into heavy labor with Lena. Any time I feel my blood pressure rise, my anxiety grow or my jaw clench in frustration--just breathe.

Thankfully, the past few days have found me using that strategy less and less. Not because I've abandoned my greatest coping skill, but because I have been taking the time to take care of myself. I let the dishwasher sit unloaded with dirty dishes on the counter for an extra day. I walked past the vacuum cleaner over and over, wearing socks so my bare feet didn't have to notice that the floor had lost its squeaky clean feel days ago. I threw a frozen pizza in the oven rather than make dinner on a hectic evening.

Instead I took a few extra minutes to lie down on the couch, I read several blogs that I've missed so much in the last couple weeks, I played with my girls in front of the fireplace at dinner hour, I took long hot showers and ate lunch in front of the television. And you know what? No one died. No one developed a horrible sickness. No one starved. No one gasped in horror when they walked into the living room. Huh. How 'bout that.

In fact, I've actually been feeling a lot better. Oh the headaches are still there and quite annoying at that. But I no longer feel like I'm drowning in chaos or pain. (We also began to move forward with finding the cause of this headache business that has gone on for nearly a month. Answers are starting to come together and it looks like the solution will be relatively easy to deal with.)

All in all, this letting go stuff is finally beginning to sink in and my list of things that have to get done is growing smaller. For a gal like me who had always been a bit on the OCD side, that is a big deal. Whether stress is the root cause of all the drama in the past month, reducing the load can never be a bad thing. Because knowing what it really means to enjoy the time at home with your kids and actually living that life can often be two very different things.

I am still just at the beginning of this road and have so much to learn and overcome. But the last few days have brought me one step closer to becoming the mom I want to be, and that is worth all the headaches in the world. (Amazing what God uses to teach us His great lessons, isn't it?)

And now, lets get to praying...

Here's how it works: Leave a prayer request in the comments on Friday's posts. It can be anything--something you are thankful for, a friend you are worried about, a desire from your heart... Anything. By leaving a comment you are also committing to pray for others who comment as well. We'll start fresh each week. That's it. You can even be anonymous if you wish.

My prayer this week is that we, and all families, can spend less time worrying about the little things and more time focusing on the humility, awe and joy that was the very essence of Christ's arrival on this earth.

What prayer are you holding this last week before Christmas?

slowing down

Man, Friday was a rough day. When I look back at that post, just three days ago, it hurts my heart. It was the climax of a difficult week, with me in tears for most of the afternoon. That evening, I went out to pick up some pizza and called my mom on the way, desperate for some advice and validation. She listened and consoled the way all the best moms do. She told me she remembered feeling the same way I did and that it does get easier. Amazing how a 15 minute phone conversation can soothe the soul and calm the nerves. Thanks, Mom. And thanks to everyone who offered words of support and encouragement, and prayers. They were much needed and deeply felt.

We decided to do our best over the weekend to shake the previous five days off our backs. Saturday Curt and I strategized to divide and conquer, so I took Addie to our favorite place down the road to find our Christmas tree. She loved weaving in and out of the tall evergreens and I loved drinking in that gorgeous smell.

Finally we found "the one" and hauled it home to make its way into our living room. Welcome to our family, dear tree. O tannenbaum, o tannenbaum...

Now that our house is decorated for Christmas, there is a warmth and a calm that has taken over like magic, as it does each year. The drama and craziness of life with an infant and a two-year-old is still very real, but it's smoother around the edges with garlands, nutcrackers and nativities surrounding us.

As we move closer toward the most wonderful time of the year, that has also become the busiest, I must pause for a moment and evaluate how I spend my days. Until this wretched headache issue is resolved, and in order to survive and avoid meltdowns like the one I had on Friday, I am going to have to let a few things go. Just typing that now gives me a little anxiety, as I try to keep things around us just so. But it's the just so things that are slowly eating away at my sanity and tearing me down, one messy floor, dirty load of laundry, unwritten blog and unbathed child at a time.

Yes, unfortunately this space has added to my stress level as of late, being that I feel guilty when I don't have or take the time to write. So please bear with me as I feel my way through the next couple of weeks. I'll still be around and most definitely I'll be here for the Friday pray alongs, I just won't make it every day. My hope is that the time I can spend with you here, however limited, will find me a more refreshed and optimistic mama.

And now a rousing babe is calling me from her swing, so I'm off to steal some snuggles. See you soon...

Friday Pray along

Here I am on Friday with a hungry tummy as I hold my breath, praying that my girls sleep long enough for me to write something that is somewhat coherent. The past two days, that has certainly not been the case. For those who visit this space frequently you know that I rarely miss a day, and certainly not two days in a row, without announcing it first. I suppose that's why, on days when I'm unable to post, I start getting calls from family in the evening, checking on me... "I noticed you didn't post today. Is everything alright?" 

The answer to that question is yes, sort of. Everything is fine--no one is ill or injured. But these last few weeks have certainly been difficult for me. Perhaps it's because I've had a headache since November 22nd, or maybe it's that Addie's nap time has suddenly become half as long as it once was, or it could be that having two young kids at home has finally started to catch up to me. Whatever it is, I am so tired.

I really despise spending time writing rants or using this space to vent about how hard being a stay-at-home-mom sometimes is. All I will say is that these past few weeks, it has been really hard for me. On a deep level I still love it, but the days that I stay in "lounge wear" are growing in number and the pockets of "me time" I try and find throughout the day so I can feel rejuvenated are quickly decreasing.

Yesterday, the girls and I were out and we dropped by Curt's work to bring him lunch. When he got in the car and looked at me, he said something like, "Oh, honey. It's going to be OK." I didn't even have to say a word. I am just so tired, and it shows.

We have so much to be grateful and thankful for. I am healthy. I am able to function normally and engage with my healthy and beautiful girls. My family is together. We love one another. That's all that matters in this world, and I can easily be brought to tears when I stop and think of all the blessings in our lives.

I struggle with thinking that I should spend more time focusing on others because if I give more, then maybe I'll have more love and less anxiety in my heart. And then I think that I need to take the time to focus on my own needs so that I have a full heart that is able to give.   

So here I am at pray along Friday, tummy growling, eyelids drooping, now with a gorgeous baby in my lap, and I am having a hard time asking what to pray for... time to rest? a cure for my headaches? more gratitude in my heart? I'm not sure. Today I will simply ask that you pray for me and all mothers who struggle with finding balance... I think that might be all of us!

One thing I'm not too tired for is prayer. I actually seem to be doing a lot of that lately. So don't hold back--throw a piece of your heart into the pot. We'll hold it close and lift it up...

Here's how it works: Leave a prayer request in the comments on Friday's posts. It can be anything--something you are thankful for, a friend you are worried about, a desire from your heart... Anything. By leaving a comment you are also committing to pray for others who comment as well. We'll start fresh each week. That's it. You can even be anonymous if you wish.

fair trade?

I can't believe I forgot to announce the biggest thing to happen to this family since... well, Lena's birth! Addie is now 100% fully potty trained. Yes, that's right--number one AND number two (most of the time). Over Thanksgiving travels at Papaw's house, she said she had to go potty and wanted Papaw to take her. Then as she sat on the potty she said, "I gotta poop." And then she did. No coercing or bribery, it just happened.

She then got a piece of gum as a reward and since then I have yet to clean out a pair of panties. I cannot tell you how much this has changed my life. I mean, this is big.

It's really funny how sometimes she wants privacy for this new business and sometimes she doesn't. She'll tell Daddy to go away when she's really getting down to it, but when I go and check on her she tells me to, "come on in." And then there's the occasion where she wants me there, but doesn't want me to look at her, and then I'm treated with this:

What a strategically placed shower curtain! Hilarious!

I just wish her peeing was currently as consistent. For instance, today we were laying in her bed reading stories before nap time. I hadn't put her pull-up on yet and she decided our book was way too interesting to take a break, so she peed right then and there. Mommy was not very happy. As I stripped her sheets she kept saying, "Sozzy, Mommy." Hmmm... Cute, but still gross.

I cleaned her up along with her bed, put on a pull-up and we went back to reading. Then, just as it was time to turn out the lights and go to sleep she said, "I gotta poop." Really? Or was this just a ploy to get out of a nap? Either way, it's best to try. It was a good thing I believed her because poop she did. Now why couldn't those two things have just happened simultaneously a few minutes earlier? I swear I'll never understand the logic of a two-year-old.

Now I'm left to ponder the conundrum: is it easier to wash out poopy undies or do a whole load of pee wash? I guess Addie doesn't have to do either so to her it doesn't matter. As far as I know no one goes off to college almost potty trained so eventually she'll realize that all things excrement are better left in the porcelain bowl. Until then, I'm living the saying, life's a trade-off. Pee sheets, here I come. 

The wonder of a blanket tent

This morning I had my annual exam where I got to go and put my feet in the stirrups and such. The silver lining was having a few moments in a car all by myself and seeing my beloved midwife again. Seriously. Love her. When I came home, Addie ran up to me and said, "Look, Mommy! Daddy make a house! Wanna come in?"

I love that she thought I could actually fit in there with her. Daddy was pretty much beaming with pride over his fantastic construction job and the furnishings inside. Just what does an Addie house need?

A car with a mommy, baby and stroller, a CD player equipped with Taylor Swift's latest, a flashlight and an Aquadoodle pad. Of course. Well done, Daddy.

This warmed my heart and reminded me of the fun blanket tents my sisters and I used to make as kids. Under the bunk bed or with the slide on the swing set outside, something about those little troves was absolutely magical. A tiny little space that felt secret and private. A place to put just a few special things--only the essentials--a childhood list of what you'd take to a desert island.

It makes me want to create a new, modern blanket tent of my own. I would fill it with pillows, this month's Real Simple magazine, the sweater I still haven't finished knitting for Lena, a hot cup of cider and Andrea Bocelli's Christmas album.

What would your blanket tent need?

Pray along Friday and a winner!

Ah, the suspense is over. I used the True Random Number Service to determine that #17 is the winner. So Katharine Hahn, congratulations! We will connect via email to determine which style you'd like and I'll get it to you well before Christmas. Thank you everyone for participating. Remember, if you REALLY want one, they are super easy to make--just check out Vanessa's great tutorial.

Now onto some prayers. This week has totally kicked my butt. A serious lack of sleep combined with sick babes, a headache that has lingered on for nearly two weeks and all the drama we had to deal with managed to weaken my heart and turn my brain into a pile of mush. (Did I tell you we had to buy a new car battery as well? I mean, really!)

I spent more time than I'd like to admit growling out of frustration, crying from fatigue and cursing at the major network fall schedules' lack of new shows, thus leaving our DVR empty for late night TV watching. I also wondered where in the heck God was and why He didn't seem to be helping me out of the craziness.

Around the time I started this pray along, I decided I needed to revisit Oswald Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest. I've turned to this book many times in my life to revive inspiration in my soul and lead me toward what is true, right and important. It never fails to make me think and send me to my knees in prayer.

But even though I read the words, sometimes it takes a bit (or a lot) more for them to really sink in. For example, this excerpt from Sunday didn't have quite enough impact, it seems. Apparently I needed to live out the message in order to get it:

The greatest spiritual blessing we receive is when we come to the knowledge that we are destitute. Until we get there, our Lord is powerless. He can do nothing for us as long as we think we are sufficient in and of ourselves. We must enter into His kingdom through the door of destitution. As long as we are "rich," particularly in the area of pride or independence, God can do nothing for us.

Ouch. I guess while I was running around all week like a chicken with its head cut off, trying to do everything alone, begging for God to help me, I didn't really mean it. What I was actually saying was, God I need to you help me so I can figure this out on my own. Instead of what I should have done, which was to say, God I can't do this alone. I surrender my troubles to You. The end.

To really do that and mean it is tough stuff and I struggle with it all the time. I like to fancy myself superwoman, reject help and get to the finish line alone no matter what it takes. Because sometimes, when I'm home by myself with the girls, I feel like there's no other option and that's the mentality I use to survive the hard parts. This week has certainly proven otherwise and shown me that I need to come from a new frame of reference. Surrender, hope and trust.

Please pray for me, that I may live my life truly entrusting my sorrows, troubles and worries to the hands of the Lord. That I may put my confidence in Him alone and that when times get rough, I can let it all go and rest in Him.

What struggles have you worked to overcome this week? Let us pray for you.

Here's how it works: Leave a prayer request in the comments on Friday's posts. It can be anything--something you are thankful for, a friend you are worried about, a desire from your heart... Anything. By leaving a comment you are also committing to pray for others who comment as well. We'll start fresh each week. That's it. You can even be anonymous if you wish.


What I wore yesterday... and the day before

If you read what my week has been like in yesterday's post, then this photo will probably not shock you. No, this is not a homeless person who broke into my bathroom and borrowed my camera... This is me on day two of the madness that was the end of November.

A few things come to mind when I look at this:
1. Those slippers are as comfortable as they look.
2. My husband never ever has to worry about me having an affair with a repair man.
3. Addie doesn't know how lucky she is to have a completely congested nose so that she can escape the scent of a two-day-old mommy... which incidentally smells like coffee, chocolate and a whole lot of Clinical Strength Secret.

Just in case you're crazy enough to wonder, those are Old Navy slippers, drawstring pants and a nursing tank from Target, a J. Crew sweater that's about 9 years old, and a really old bandanna on my head. Sexy, huh?

I suppose the only thing missing was one of these:

Oh, you didn't think I'd miss an opportunity to remind you of your chance to win, did you?
Really, don't forget to enter! Friday is the last day...

...and if you want to see what other folks have been wearing these days, head over to The Pleated Poppy to have a look!

Gentle reminder

The last 24 hours have been quite eventful around here. Yesterday I had a horrible pain running from my ear to my shoulder on my right side. It made me SO cranky--really, I can't remember the last time I was in such a nasty mood. Roll that up with icky weather outside, a refrigerator that kept catching on fire and a kid coming down with a gross cold and you have a recipe for drama and chaos.

Yes, I said a refrigerator that kept catching ON FIRE. Curt and I heard a loud pop sound that came from the kitchen around 10:30 last night. We both jumped up to investigate and sniffed around until we figured out that it was the fridge. Curt pulled it out from the wall and when he took off the back panel at the bottom, we saw flames underneath. FLAMES. When it was unplugged it was fine, but that left all of our perishables in a perishable position.

Long story short, our fabulous neighbors helped us out with our food and the problem with the fridge was fixed for a relatively small amount of money. We are slowly getting things put back together.

In the midst of everything that seemed to go wrong, this little scene took place in our living room on the floor in front of the fireplace:

She fell asleep while looking at herself in the mirror. "Hey, you look pretty tired. I'll go to sleep if you will..."

Precious. Thank you Lena, for reminding us of the beauty that exists even when life feels like it's crumbling down all around us. We just have to look for it.

hoppin' a train... crazy town. My girls are working hard to send me there. So instead of the usual, today I'm going to shamelessly promote my sister's jewelry. Yes, that was me ranting last week about how commercialism is ruining Christmas. And this is me today posting links to my favorite places with cyber Monday deals. To be completely honest, the prospect of a hot shower sounds so amazing that I can't trade it in for computer time this afternoon. Am I selling my soul so you can get a percentage off? Maybe, but just for one day.

First stop--my sister, Kate Kaiser Designs! She's giving a 20% discount off of everything in her Etsy shop for today only. Wouldn't one of these be perfect for Christmas?

Red & Gold Multi-Strand NecklaceRed and White Pearl and Crystal Drop Earrings
Green Pearl and Glass Twisted MultiStrand Necklace

And Lisa Leonard Designs has a fantastic deal today, offered only through her blog. I have one of her necklaces and think any of them make a perfect gift, especially for a new mama. 

Heather at Shivaya Naturals has compiled a much more extensive list of her favorite deals. If you're looking for more ideas, head over there and check out her links. She has found some goodies!

One more thing, please don't forget to enter into MY GIVEAWAY that ends this Friday. This one is FREE, people! What's better than that?

Friday pray along: giving thanks

Rather than fight the obvious I'm just going to give in. What are you thankful for this Friday? And not the big stuff, like faith or family. I want to know the simple day-to-day things that make your life feel special. I'm sure God wouldn't mind hearing about those things as well. Please feel free to also leave requests for anything else that is pressing on your soul. We'll pray for it all!

Here's how it works: Leave a prayer request in the comments on Friday's posts. It can be anything--something you are thankful for, a friend you are worried about, a desire from your heart... Anything. By leaving a comment you are also committing to pray for others who comment as well. We'll start fresh each week. That's it. You can even be anonymous if you wish.

Today I lift up prayers of thanks for so many things, but these stand out the most right now... I'm thankful for Lena's milky breath, Addie's love of dance, hot coffee in the morning and a cold beer in the evening, the comfort of my husband sleeping next to me through cold nights, the smoothe texture of pumpkin pie, the sound of my family laughing, road trips, cozy slippers, the smell of cookies baking, Skype, feeling connected, feeling loved, the power of a memory, The Lord's Prayer...

I'll stop there and let you pick up where I left off.


To you and yours...

'tis the season

Having two kids certainly has its pluses and minuses--double the love but double the work. Yesterday was a double the work kind of day. As soon as I had one child settled, the other needed me. It went on and on like that until they both were finally asleep, which didn't officially happen until around 1 AM. Sheesh.

It has taken me a while, but I'm starting to accept that a busy day does not have to equal a bad one. Although I crashed into bed completely exhausted, it was because those endless hours were mostly filled with love, giggles and fun. (I put a glimpse of that fun up for my sisters here. Of course, please feel free to peek into their present.)  

And today it feels like much of the same. Somehow the girls know a holiday is approaching so nap times are shorter and attention spans are more easily diverted in anticipation of the excitement to come. Although we aren't hosting the big day this week, there are preparations to be made so the air is filled with energy. Yes, something is definitely brewing, besides my life-saving coffee.

It's amazing how much we put into making days magical for our kids, isn't it? Orchestrating travel plans, packing the car, unpacking the car, budgeting for gifts and special meals, cross referencing present purchases with grandparents, hunting for semi-matching Christmas outfits, prioritizing what we have time to do and what we must let go of. All to ensure that the most wonderful time of the year is exactly that.

When I was a kid I don't remember my parents going crazy so our Thanksgivings and Christmases could be great. I remember going along for the ride of whatever the plans were that year, having a really good time, and of course, soaking up the joy of Christmas morning and all that it was for us kids. While I don't feel like my parents ever went overboard around the holidays, now I'm old enough to understand that the decision to hold back can be just as stressful and difficult as a decision to go all out. In fact, choosing to be mindful is probably even more stressful than purchasing everything imaginable. How much is too much? Do we buy and choose gifts based on what the kids need, what we can afford, or what we think is reasonable and appropriate? How do we come up with those answers?

The more I see suffering around the world, the more difficult it is for me to feel good about buying a ton of new things for ourselves and our girls when we already have so much. I feel this pull between wanting to give all that we have to others who are less fortunate, like buying a water buffalo for a family in Africa, and desperately wanting to see my kids' faces light up when they see gifts waiting for them under the tree. How do we reconcile the true message of Christmas with the message the rest of the commercialized world spreads much more effectively? (It would seem that Toys R Us has a bigger marketing campaign than all world religions combined.)

This is a battle I have to fight with myself every day as well. I have to make myself delete all of those ads filling my in box telling me that the best deal of the year is for today only, all I have to do is "click here for savings". And I dare anyone to watch Oprah's Favorite Things episode without allowing one shred of envy to creep up into your heart. I know I can't. A pair of Ugg boots, a Coach bag and and iPad sound pretty good, I must say. Sigh.

In a few days, we will gather with family to pause and give thanks for all that we are grateful for in our lives... and to stuff our faces. These days I am finding it easier and easier to make my list of all that I feel truly blessed to have, and very few of those things are material possessions. I suppose that list is what I need to keep in mind as we move forward to Black Friday and the season of Advent.

It's funny that whenever I hear "Black Friday" it always makes me think of Good Friday. Coincidence? Or perhaps is that the answer to my questions?

Friday pray along: selfish prayers

When I began this weekly prayer request two weeks ago, something has been on my mind that I've been trying to find a way to form into words. I'm not a theologian by any stretch of the imagination and I am sadly not as familiar with The Bible as I'd like to be. However, based on what I do know I have some observations about prayer that I think are worth sharing, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on this as well.

There seems to be a sort of pattern I have noticed in any group I've been a part of that does prayer requests: people rarely ask for prayers for themselves or others unless there is a specific illness, catastrophe or difficult period in their lives. There are the occasional prayers of thanks for something wonderful that has happened, but mostly it's intentions for something worrisome or tragic. Don't get me wrong, I think those things are absolutely important and should have as many people as possible lifting them up in their hearts to The Lord.

But I wonder why we don't also ask for prayers for ourselves when there isn't anything sad or hard happening to us or those we love. Is it because we feel like we shouldn't burden others' prayers with things that aren't urgent or seemingly hopeless? Is it because we think someone else out there has it worse than us or those we know so we should sit back and wait for more difficult cases to be brought to our attention?

I think for a long time I felt that way. I think that when I had lulls in my prayer life it was because everything appeared to be pretty good so I didn't have any significant worries. If someone asked me to pray for them I would, but I felt like I didn't need to bother God with any intentions that weren't dramatic. And I certainly didn't ever ask anyone else to pray for me unless I had something deeply pressing on my soul.

The more I think about it, the more I think that this must deeply sadden Our Father, that we only want to come to Him with the most depressing things in life. He created us in His image and wants us to strive to me more like Him in our lives. Shouldn't that include asking for help with the most mundane tasks or that He simply work on our hearts for whatever small gifts we need (such as patience, energy, understanding, etc.)? I think it's easier to ask for such things in our personal prayers, but what about others' prayers for us?

Perhaps we feel too vulnerable opening up to someone else about our deeply personal needs, and even those that aren't so deep. I know that I feel uncomfortable doing so, however I think it is an interesting challenge and one I would like to take on--to be more honest and open with those in my life who ask if there is something I want them to pray for. Sure, please pray for the people I love who are struggling. I will most certainly share those requests (those are the easy ones), but I am also going to try and tack onto the end of my list a little prayer for me, even if it seems selfish. Because if we come to The Lord on our knees with true and pure intentions in our hearts, is there really such a thing as a selfish prayer?        

This week I invite you to tackle this challenge along with me. If you don't yet feel comfortable that's fine, and I still would like to know what prayers you have for troublesome situations that are burdening you. I want this to be a space free from judgement where we can lay down a little piece of ourselves so that others may rejoice with us, cry with us or help carry us along.

Here's how it works: Leave a prayer request in the comments on Friday's posts. It can be anything--something you are thankful for, a friend you are worried about, a desire from your heart... Anything. By leaving a comment you are also committing to pray for others who comment as well. We'll start fresh each week. That's it. You can even be anonymous if you wish.

Today I ask for prayers that my sister Em find success and fulfillment in the venture of her very first booth at a craft fair. It's so hard to start something new and she has taken a leap of faith in so many ways this past year. I pray that she may feel content with her new life and that this may be the start of something wonderful for her future.

I also ask for prayers that I may find joy in the little things I do around the house. Sometimes (OK, a lot of times) I feel bitter and annoyed when I'm doing the laundry or washing the dishes, thinking that I never get enough of a break. I pray that God would send down His Holy Spirit to enter my heart and fill me with love and understanding that whatever I do to take care of those around me, I am also doing to the glory of God.

What is on your heart this week?

300th post and a giveaway

I noticed the other day that I was beginning to approach the 300th post mark and was quite surprised. Did I really have 300 things to say? Well I guess so, and it would seem that there is also more to talk about. Cheers to that!

I was thinking last night about my new life as a stay-at-home-mom, because these two things go hand in hand. Even though I've been home full time for 15 months now, it still feels so new. I don't know what I'm doing half the time, I am constantly trying to figure out our best routine, I struggle with the solitude and the isolation of being home (especially now that I have an infant as well), and I miss financially contributing to the family.

Some days I'm miserable and fantasize about grabbing my passport and a wad of cash and running for the border--doesn't matter which one. Other days I'm happier than I've ever been and feel like this is the best decision I've ever made in my life. Most days find me somewhere in the middle, with quick flashes of the extremes scattered all around.

One of the things I'm most grateful for is that in the adventure of choosing to stay home with my girl, and now girlS, I have had the room to discover that I adore writing and all that this mode of creativity can give. It has allowed me to feel connected to people, even as I'm often the only adult around most days. It has also gifted me with an opportunity to find other like-minded moms out there--miles, states, even countries away.

Writing in this space initially felt like something silly or like I was talking to a void. But slowly it has evolved to become my saving grace. When I feel like I'm a crappy mom I can share bits of that here and learn that I'm not alone. I can sit down and reflect upon our day and realize that even though it felt really tough, there were moments of perfection and bliss. And, I can focus on those precious snippets and document them here for us to look back on and remember.

This has become such a part of me and I am beyond grateful to anyone that has stopped to dip their toes in this water to see if it's for them. For those of you who decided to jump in the pool and stay a while, you will never know how much I appreciate and rely on you day-to-day. Consider these words your giant bear-sized virtual hug.

How many more posts will make it from my mommy mind out into the interwebs? I have no idea. But I'm going to keep on counting and hoping that you stick around with me to find out.

And now, on to the fun part--it's giveaway time!!!

OK, this is only the second time I've done this, and it's a first for something I've made myself, so please bear with me. I hope you remember these posts I did a few weeks ago: Fabric Flower Ring and I can't stop

In celebration of my 300th post, I believe it's time for me to part with one of these beauties!

The ring bases are nickel free and in a silver finish. So far, I just have the three fabric flower colors, but I can work with the winner to do something different should she (or he) desire.

They wear quite well and are adjustable (I have squeezed a few bases tighter for my small size 5 fingers, but they can go up several sizes as well). I love how they add a splash of fun to my hand and aren't overly dramatic.
Yeah, you want one, don't you?

Here's how you can enter:
  • Leave a comment simply letting me know you want to win.
  • Become a follower of Mommy Honesty and leave a second comment (or leave a comment to say you're already a follower).
  • Link to this giveaway on your blog AND/OR put this up on Facebook, and you can enter seperate comments for each. 
That's up to four entries, baby! (Please be sure and remember to leave a separate comment on this post for each entry.)

I will announce the winner on Friday, December 3rd so you have plenty of time to enter and spread the word to all your closest friends. I mean, wouldn't this make a perfect stocking stuffer?

If you'd like to make a few of these yourself, check out the tutorial HERE.

a click away

Today has been a little hectic so I'm just doing one post over at Sisters Away. Hope to see you there!

Tumble time

One of my absolute favorite things in the whole world is watching Addie play with her dad. There's just something about how daddies interact with their little girls that is so adorable and endearing. Now, don't get me wrong, I also love tumbling all over the floor with Addie, but there are just some things that only Daddy can do. After all of that donut eating Saturday morning, there was quite a lot of energy to burn.

There were many flip-sa-doodles...

Jumps that were impressively high...

And next to it all was this little bear. She's learned far too early that if you want to keep your toy, you'd better hold onto it for dear life--even when you're sleeping.

Saturday morning perfection.

That book again

After a brief haitus from baking my own bread, I decided to go at it again with a new recipe from my favorite bread baking book. Yes, the Oh how I love Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day rants are back! (I put a link in my sidebar if you are interested in having a deeper look for yourself. Hopefully I'll be adding some more faves in the next few days as well.)

This time I made the Pumpkin Pie Brioche dough and used it to create these lovelies on Saturday morning.

That's right--donuts, baby! Indian Spiced Whole Grain Doughnuts, to be exact. LOVE.

I would have taken pics of us devouring these fantastic treats, but I had way too much sugary goodness on my hands to even think about touching our camera. Just trust me. They are good.

Pray along

Last Friday I started what I hope will be an ongoing tradition in this space. I was extremely touched to see what was on people's hearts and it gave me a boost to hold others' intentions along with my own throughout the past seven days.

Here's how it works: Leave a prayer request in the comments on Friday's posts. It can be anything--something you are thankful for, a friend you are worried about, a desire from your heart... Anything. By leaving a comment you are also committing to pray for others who comment as well. We'll start fresh each week. That's it. You can even be anonymous if you wish.

This week I am offering up prayers of thanksgiving for the health of my children. I know we are incredibly blessed that up to this point, most doctor's visits are for well child exams and anything beyond that has never amounted to more than a simple diagnosis that was easily fixed. Thank you, God, for giving my girls healthy bodies. Most days we take this gift completely for granted.
Won't you take a moment to open up and ponder a prayer for myself and others to hold as well?

Bubble bath magic

Don't bubbles make any bath better? I think so. Apparently, so does Addie. The other night we indulged her by filling up Mama's garden tub with lots of warm water and bubbles bubbles everywhere. When I told Addie she and I were taking a bath in the big tub, her eyes lit up and she said, "Oooo--I swim like a fish!"

It's going to be a long winter away from the pool for this kiddo, but hopefully this will come in as a close second. Swim yourself clean, my little fishy!

Wednesday Knit Along

I am playing along with Ginny today to share what I'm knitting and reading these days. This photo captures my bedside table--I didn't move a thing to take it. 

I can't believe it's already been several months since I wrote this post about knitting for Lena. This was supposed to be an end of summer sweater for her, but it's looking like its debut will come in the dead of winter. I supposed I overestimated how much time I would be able to spend with those needles in hand. When Addie is in bed and Lena is resting on my chest, and I hear her sweet breath going in and out, it's so hard to put her down and pick up a project.

I've gotten far enough in that I have to finish it soon or the sizing won't be right (i.e. it's too late to make it any bigger without starting over completely). That would likely be the biggest bummer ever--to finally complete my first sweater only to have it be too small. The front is almost done, and then there are three pieces left to go. I hope I can make it--in more ways than one!

The book on top there is Ninth Ward and it the selection for my book club next week. I am so grateful that our hostess this month chose a young adult novel as I am counting on being able to fly through this one in a night or two. That already makes it a good read as far as I'm concerned.  

little me

What happens when you leave a 2 1/2 year old alone with an ear thermometer?

I SO would have done that if those were around when I was a kid.

I'm pretty sure those little covers aren't cheap, but this cracks me up so much, I can't even be a little bit mad.

Plus it kept her busy for a good 20 minutes. That kind of entertainment can't be bought, my friends.

Bad sister

I just realized that I owe my littlest sister a bit of an apology. Just over a week ago I wrote this post and linked to some of my favorite blogs, which were my sisters', including Kate's jewelry blog. Well, I totally forgot that Em started a crafting space of her own and it's FAB.

So, today I want to feature her latest venture in the hopes that you'll pay her a visit and marvel at her creations. (And to kiss her cute island butt just a little. Forgiven yet, Em?)

Click HERE to go there.

Here's a taste of some of her super cute lovelies:

The soft clutch:

 The bangband/headband:

And pressed flower pins:

She has more, folks, and in a wide variety of fabrics, many found on the island. Here's the trouble--this girl is creating all of this gorgeous stuff in a third world country, which means shipping to the US is ridiculous. So unfortunately she is only making and selling these items locally... for now. Won't you send her some love and let her know that we adore her stuff here in the good ol' USA and would pay a visit to an Etsy shop should she ever desire to open one?  

Oh, and she's doing her first booth ever at a craft fair coming up in a few weeks. Rock on, island sister! Love you and all your hard work. It is going to pay off, I'm sure of it!

...yeah, I think I'm forgiven.

Say your prayers

Several weeks ago I made an unfulfilled promise that I would be doing something different in this space on Fridays. October turned out to be so emotionally draining that I just couldn't get to a place where it felt right to try something new. But really there's a much deeper reason for why I put it off...

My sister and I have been talking for months about how we can best use our time and talent to share our faith life with others. Neither of us are working at conventional jobs at the moment and we both felt like there had to be a way to shift wasteful time spent online into something more meaningful. Coincidentally, I had been feeling for a while that What Keeps Me Going Fridays was losing its luster and I was ready for a change.

After some consideration I decided to do a prayer request Friday to feed my spiritual need and offer a way for people to connect through the simple power of prayer. Then my friend suddenly passed away and I was left feeling completely broken.

Unfortunately I am no stranger to losing a loved one long before her time. Another very good friend of mine lost her battle with cancer two days after her 21st birthday. That grief was like no other I had ever experienced and it took one year, some anti-depressants, my relationship and so much more to make it through. Something I had forgotten was how much that experience impacted my faith as well.

I completely forgot that after Adrienne died, for a time I could not pray. I would try and try and sit with my heart aching, longing for something to come to me--any words that would find their way up to heaven. Nothing. The only place I felt like I could really convey my pain to God was in a church. For months I cried in my pew every single Sunday. Silently, but with tears streaming down my cheeks, I sat with hundreds of people around me singing, reading and listening to powerful words. I cried.

Very quickly after learning that Lisa had left this world, I was reminded of that very feeling. How strange that the time when I needed to cling to God the most, I felt like I had nothing at all to say to Him. It wasn't because I was angry at Him, because I don't feel like death is ever His fault. I think that in those times I felt such incredible pain, sadness and shock that I was totally focused on my loss. I was too busy looking in at the wretched ache inside me that I could not look up.

But in a space of worship, surrounded by those who were able to feel joy and the presence of Our Lord, I could not turn away. The overwhelming warmth and embrace that came over me in that space was truly incredible--it only brought tears. I think that in that time God showed me that I really didn't need to say anything at all. When I was in the deepest pain I had ever known, He knew.

Even now, my eyes are wet with that understanding. When I had no words to pray, it was still OK because He knew my heart and all the things I wanted to say and ask for, but somehow couldn't. The first Sunday I attended Mass after Lisa's passing I knew what to expect and it played out just as I thought it would. Not long before we went up to receive The Eucharist, it hit me. I held Lena in my arms and let the tears flow.

When Mass was over, I went to light candles for Lisa and her son, Thomas. I desperately wanted to pray for Lisa; that she be welcomed into heaven so she could feel no more pain. I wanted to pray for her 10-month-old son: his well-being, the life he has ahead of him without his mother and that he be wrapped in so much love that he may understand how much his mom truly loved him. Where were my words? While kneeling before Our Holy Mother, I saw a prayer card with words I had never seen before.

At the end of the prayer it said, "Sweet Mother, I place this cause in your hands." How fitting that the very issues I was holding so close were relating to motherhood and the mothering of a child who had just lost his. In the belief that Mary is our greatest intercessor to God, I clung to those words and my intentions were brought up from the void in my gut to my sore heart and lifted from me. In that moment, I felt a huge weight was taken from my soul. I rose up from my knees and walked away to find my family, feeling an overwhelming sense of peace.

Since then, I have had no trouble going back to my normal prayer life. My hiatus from talking with God didn't last nearly as long as it had years ago. There are so many reasons for why I think that is, but I'm not ready to explore them just yet.

All of this leads me to today and what I hope will be a deep, yet simple weekly connection for anyone who wishes to participate.

Here's how it works: Leave a prayer request in the comments on Friday's posts. It can be anything--something you are thankful for, a friend you are worried about, a desire from your heart... Anything. By leaving a comment you are also committing to pray for others who comment as well. We'll start fresh each week. That's it. You can even be anonymous if you wish.

My prayer this week is for this to serve as a way for us to connect with one another and with God. I pray that this will extend beyond our faith bases and allow us to find community and peace knowing that so many others are holding our causes for us as well.

Eventually I'd like to come up with a snazzy title for these Fridays and maybe create a cute icon that you can post to encourage others to join us in this venture. Someday. But I didn't want to wait for that creative bug in order to get this ball rolling. Stay tuned...

Snuggle time

Because I can't resist this...

I'm caving in to join her for a little bit of this...

I can't think of a better way to spend an hour (I hope) on a cold and rainy Wednesday.

Is this a test?

For some reason, I have had quite a challenging last few days home with the kiddo's. When one child constantly wants to be held, the other can't seem to get enough attention and acts out. These behaviors only feed each other and the result is a mommy that has had very little time to herself and is about to lose her mind.

Two nights ago I fell asleep with Addie while laying in her bed trying to get her down for the night. Last night Curt and I both cashed in early after a late trip out to buy essential groceries and a super hectic afternoon. Just to give you a taste, here is an exchange I had with Addie yesterday evening:

Addie: I want a taco.

Me: Well I'm changing Lena's diaper right now so you'll have to wait.

Addie: Mommy, I want a taco now.

Me: Addie, I have poop on my hands so if I get you a taco right now there will be poop all over it. Do you want to eat poop?

Addie: No.

Me: Alright, then.

(a few seconds pass)

Addie: Mommy, I want a taco.

Seriously, I did not change one word of that conversation. What these days have taught me is that I shouldn't be posting promises on this blog, as it seems I can rarely keep them. I said there would be pictures of Addie in her Halloween costume posted yesterday, but I couldn't get my butt to this computer to save my life or that of my littles. So here is my apology and her photograph. A day late and however many dollars short.  

Even though this was perhaps the cheapest costume ever created, she still managed to make it look cute. Next year, barring all potential disaster, I'm going homemade. No promises...

Waited too long

The girls and I are enjoying some time these next few days at my parents' house. They are currently still at work and I am working it out at home with my littles while I wait for them to return. I finally sat down to write a lil' something for today, but it seems that I didn't crank it out fast enough. I spent too much time catching up on some of my favorite blogs that I hadn't visited in a while. Oops. Now I'm being summoned by my little non-napper. (Screaming from the office/guest room, "Moooommmmy--I love you!!!!" Alright kiddo, you got me.

So, won't you take this time to do the same and scroll down to see my favorite reads? There are some goodies out there, I promise. Of course, this one, this one and this one are at the absolute top of my list. Enjoy your halloween weekend--pictures of my "Horton" will be posted on Monday. ;)

I can't stop

I think everyone with young children (and perhaps older ones too, but for now, this is all I have to go on) can relate to the concept of pockets of time. Very rarely do I have a great chunk of minutes, or heaven help me--hours, in which I can accomplish whatever I'd like. Nope, instead I have tiny little pockets. A few moments here and there when both the girls are content at the same time and I am free to run and complete a small little task super quick, before a hole rips in the pocket and it's all gone.

Usually I find myself running to brush my teeth, get dressed, empty the dishwasher, fix a quick snack (for me, not them), send a chat message on Skype or simply go to the freakin' bathroom. But now that I have discovered these darling little gems, I can't help myself from staying in my pajamas until the next pocket comes along just so I can make another one...

Sniff, sniff... I smell a giveaway in the near future.

Tasty time saver

Up until recently I thought quiches were among the more difficult things to make as far as brunch dishes go. Flaky crust, fluffy center, yummy ingredients... sound hard, right? As it turns out, I was so very wrong. At my friend Rebecca's baby shower several weeks ago, she clued me into the easiness of quiche making and since then I have never looked back.

These days I throw a quiche together on Monday morning, and then enjoy a slice each day for breakfast with my cup of coffee. 50 seconds in the microwave and I have a delicious meal that fills me up until lunch.

The trick is to use store bought pie crust. Put whatever stuff you like on top of the crust, dump in 5 eggs combined with 1/3 cup of milk, bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Done.

This one had about 1/2 cup of spinach (it came from the freezer, and measured about that much after I thawed it and drained all the water), 1 tsp or so of minced garlic, around 4 oz of crumbled feta cheese, salt & pepper. Oh, and the egg/milk mixture of course. That's it! Spanakopita on a crust. Divine. Now go make one!

Fabric flower ring

These finally arrived from Hong Kong yesterday...

Which means I can finally make these...

Love, love, LOVE!!!

I mean, who knew that 5 minutes with a rotary cutter and a glue gun could yield such fantastic results?!
(You can find the tutorial for these lovelies right here.)

Saying goodbye; not forever, but for now

Yesterday held an afternoon filled with laughter, tears, remembering, hugging, dancing, celebrating. A small group of friends gathered to share what we loved best about our dear friend and we said goodbye. While we all felt sadness, there was such a sense of comfort and love floating around that room. So many stories were told and memories were jogged while we shook our heads in bittersweet recognition with wet eyes and smiles on our faces.

Instead of a guest book, we had a scrapbooking table to offer meaningful space for sharing memories.

I wanted to share the words I wrote about Lisa and what she meant to me so those who couldn't make it can get a small sense of what yesterday was, and to share with those who didn't know her a tiny bit of her spirit. 

Friends, I stand before you as a person whose world feels shattered at the loss of our shining light, Lisa. I am devastated to face the reality that she is gone, yet there is a part of me that whenever I think of her, wants to laugh and truly celebrate the woman that she was to me and so many others. The past two weeks I have been in awe of how many people Lisa impacted, yet I'm not at all surprised that so many were touched by her in small and grand ways. It never took long for anyone in Lisa's presence to recognize that she was someone special--a genuine soul who really saw people, a woman who handed herself with incredible confidence and grace.

It's funny though, I think "grace" is probably one of the last words Lisa would have used to describe herself. I believe she was quite possibly the only person I have ever known who would spill coffee all down the front of her shirt, and then giggle while she wiped it up. That is a profound lesson she taught me: it's so important to be able to laugh at yourself. And man, we did. So often we would wind up in hysterics with tears running down our faces because of something awkward one of us did. By the time we got ahold of ourselves, we wouldn't even remember what it was that got us started in the first place. That's another amazing thing about being in Lisa's presence. I'm pretty sure we can all agree that she never ever laughed alone. Her giggle that shifted into a contagious cackle had a way of turning up even the most pronounced grimace. Really, it was almost frustrating--there was no way you could stay irritated or angry when Lisa made up her mind to crack up.

Wildly contagious laughter was only one of Lisa's incredible gifts. With her deep and profound insight, she truly found her calling working with women as a therapist. Which brings me to lesson #2: sometimes silence is the best way to ask a question. Even in the simplest of situations, Lisa had a way of just looking at you with such a sense of inquiry. It could be something as bland as why you ordered something different from the usual at Starbucks. "Pumpkin spice latte. Huh... (stares...) OK." "WHAT?" (stares... smiles...) "Nothing. It's just not what you usually drink." And then before you know it, you're spilling your guts about your latest heartache you didn't even know you had... Right there in the middle of Starbucks, before her favorite girl crush barista has even finished steaming the milk.

Ah yes... A girl crush. Lisa introduced me to this concept in the most unlikely of circumstances. Don't worry, it isn't what it sounds like. One winter, I contracted the flu and was sicker than I had ever been in my adult life. I was living in a very old apartment and the only source of heat was from a grate in the floor in the front room. I was sleeping with a knit cap on my head to stay warm and was too weak to come up with a reasonable solution to the problem. Lisa came over to check on me and when she saw what was going on she said, "Sara, you're going to die in here!" She packed me up and drove me to her apartment, just after an emergency run to the grocery to buy soup and other items essential for flu recovery. The rest of the week, I lived on her couch as her patient. When she left for class one morning she told me to watch The L Word on demand. "It will change your life," she said. Umm... yes. She and I both developed this crazy girl crush on one sexy character, and we often joked about how if Shane ever walked into a room, we would get into a scrappy fight to see who could get to her first. But I don't know... Seeing as my friend single handedly just nursed me back to health, I probably would have had to give her that one. Lesson #3: you can be straight and still have girl crushes--really, it's ok.

The acceptance of girl crushes is actually a complete side note of that story. The actual point worth noting is that Lisa would drop anything and everything to help out a friend. She could have brought me soup, driven back to her apartment and gone about her day. That would have been a sweet gesture and that's what most friends would do. Not our Lisa. She possessed a rare selfless generosity that anyone in her presence experienced. Whether it was offering a cigarette, picking up the bar tab with no strings attached, or giving up a greatly anticipated quiet evening alone to listen to your love life struggles, Lisa gave whatever she could to anyone she cared about.

And she gave whatever she could to perfect strangers. As we all know, Lisa’s life work was to empower women. She worshiped Gloria Steinem. She was the very definition of feminism. Up until the point when I knew Lisa, I had a very different idea of what feminism was. Lesson #4: this is a true feminist… Someone who listens with her whole soul to the entirety of a woman’s story, not just the parts required for an intake form. Someone who can lift up men as well as women, and believes that men can be true allies. Someone who seeks to understand not just the struggle itself, but why it exists and work to eliminate its cause. Someone who accepts each woman for who she is without trying to change or smooth out her rough spots. Someone who walks beside you down a path of difficulty, not holding your hand or pushing you faster than you’re ready to go, but offering a gentle presence of support to ensure you are not alone.

All of those qualities were at the core of how Lisa functioned as an advocate. She never resisted an opportunity to give her clients everything they deserved and she never compromised her integrity in offering whatever services they needed. She fought the good fight, for them, for all of us and for herself.

During Lisa’s last year in Lexington, she and I became inseparable. For all practical purposes, we were both single, living alone, and we took full advantage of our freedom. We spent countless hours together sipping coffee or cocktails, smoking cigarettes, talking about important matters, solving the world’s problems or gossiping about the latest celebrity fluff. When I really try to stop and think back on specific memories, I am saddened to find that it’s hard to pinpoint particular anecdotes. Were we really always that drunk? Perhaps we were, but probably not. I think the essence of our friendship was that we effortlessly clicked, and the simplicity of most of our interactions lent itself to more of a feeling of closeness than a calendar of events.

After Lisa moved back to Philadelphia, the frequency of our phone calls grew farther apart, but the closeness of our hearts did not. As life unfolded and we built our families, we simply became busy. Although we only spoke every few months, we probably called one another at least every other week. The messages we left each other sounded something like this: Hey, I was just trying to catch you and wanted to hear your voice. I hope everything is going OK. Give me a call when you get the chance. No big deal, I know you’re busy--just whenever you get a minute. OK, honey. Love you. Bye. (And weren’t we all Lisa’s honey?)

I found this passage from SARK’s Fabulous Friendship Festival that really captures the essence of a conversation Lisa and I had months ago about this very subject:

“Let’s get together and catch up:” Let’s not.

Sometimes I don’t call or contact friends because of this concept of “catching up”. If I haven’t spoken with a friend for many months or even years, it just feels like too much work to “catch up”. It feels like we’ll need to communicate for countless hours just to get caught up to where we are now!

I understand that it’s just a phrase, and the intention behind it is good, but it causes me to sometimes not connect with friends if it’s been a while.

I propose that we drop this phrase and concept, and just realize that if we communicate with our friend, we’ll just naturally find out how they are, and what’s been going on with them.

I’m going to release myself from any pressure to “catch up,” and call those friends I’ve been avoiding and suggest that we just start from how we are now and go backwards from there if we want to.

Also, “catching up” implies that we have fallen behind somehow, and I don’t believe that time is that linear. It isn’t just about a progression of events along a certain timeline, but a multi-layered affair, with telepathic awarenesses thrown in.

What we or our friends have been doing in the time we didn’t communicate is less important than our being or essence, and that you can only discover through being present with a friend.

This leaves me with a 5th lesson, a final legacy from our girl that stands to resonate in my heart forever: never ever take time on this earth with your friends for granted. Oh, how I have. I never once assumed that a time would come when Lisa would not be there. I always thought we would have the luxury of each other’s friendship. Even though our contact was not as often as we would have liked, I knew that miles away I had a kindred spirit whose love and support never wavered. I take comfort in knowing that I still do, it’s just that instead of driving around “the city of brotherly love,” she is sailing above us all in heaven.

I know we all feel a deep sadness in knowing that we can no longer pick up the phone or plan a trip to connect with Lisa. We can’t have a tangible experience where we can hold her or hear her voice. But the beauty that laces the sweet bitterness of death is that we no longer have to do those things to feel Lisa’s presence. She has moved on, but she most certainly isn’t gone. As is evident here today, she truly is alive in us all, in the memories we share and in the stillness of our hearts.

Clinging as closely as I can to all the times Lisa and I shared, and the close friendship we nurtured over the years allows me to share my tears and to laugh as we celebrate our girl today. As we move forward from this space I am confident that the joy from knowing Lisa will resonate in our interactions with those who knew her and those who didn’t. Because she truly left her footprint on all of us and in some way shaped the people we are now. We are all better having known her, even for the short while she was graced time on this earth.

Lisa, my dear friend; I love you. I miss you like crazy already, but I hold you close in my heart, and promise to do so always. Know that I, and all of your friends here today, will honor your life and our experience of it, and share your spirit with your babe, Thomas. Fly in peace.

There is a long road ahead, but the healing has begun.