Friday, August 28, 2015

The Loss of Grandpa

Being a Grown-Up Can Suck. Don’t get me wrong there are some perks of growing up like getting married, having you own place (that’s kind of a double edged sword) and having smaller versions of yourself running around. Unfortunately, though, when you get older that means your parents get older too and their parents get older, as well. And really can I  say that all just kind of sucks? 

In my dream world we would all just grow to adults and then we would have long adult relationships with our grandparents (and our parents). In my dream world people do not die. Ha! I sound like I am three, probably because I talk to a three year old all day. 

Yesterday, we were faced with one of those moments that just plain sucks as an adult. I got an emotional phone call from my husband during the early afternoon (man, it can bring you to your knees when the strong leader of your house gets emotional). Matt called to tell me that we had lost his grandfather. 



It’s a death that really is just so unexpected that it has kind of rocked our family, but we are rejoicing because Grandpa knew his Savior and is with Him now. We spent last night together as a family, gathered around pizza, sharing stories of this wonderful man.  And this morning, now that I have actually typed this, and looked again at these pictures, it's become very real. It's just as hard losing him as it was losing my own grandparents - probably because I have lived through the loss before and I know the kick in the gut reality that as we approach birthday season in our house we will be missing our cards from Grandpa. Meh. That just sucks (and I know that's not the greatest word to use while honoring someone's life, but yesterday I learned that I kind of say inappropriate things during grief). 

Please keep our family in your prayers, especially my mother in-law, Diane,  - I can’t even imagine facing the loss of my parents. Also pray for Matt’s aunts, Debbie and Gail, along with Grandpa's grandchildren and his great grandchildren. 

A Great Grandfather and Great Grand Daughter - the first meeting!



My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:26

My comfort in my suffering is this:
    Your promise preserves my life.
Psalm 119:50




Thursday, August 27, 2015

Paying Homage to a Beautiful Backyard

For the past two days my in-laws have posted almost identical pictures on Facebook of their backyard.


Yesterday, they closed on this house where they have lived for 10 plus years and are headed to a new home. Don't worry they are still really close by (like 8 miles from their current house).

It dawned on me this morning that I should pay homage  to this backyard that has been the backdrop of so many pictures of my family as we have grown and is also where so many of my favorite pictures have been taken. So, sit back and get ready to be bombarded with pictures!


Our very first picture in the backyard - our engagement picture. 


Our first "family" picture (or soon to be family picture)


December 2011 - a really small baby Bekah with Grandad


December 2011 - My Sweet Shelby (before braces)


Not exactly sure when this was taken, but here is Baby Bekah in hammock


Easter 2012


My "Sweet" Girls - Easter 2012


Flash Forward Some - My Littles with Gram


Bekah "fishing" with a pine needle


This is from Christmas 2013 - Gram & her grandkids


Christmas 2013 Christmas Card Picture


Easter 2014


My Girls - Easter 2014


My Girls in the Hammock - 2014


Father's Day 2014


2014 - Girls with Grandad

Wow, those kind of choked me up a bit. Seeing how it all started, watching my girls grow, and knowing there were so many other memories made in that backyard before me. (I might be crying right now) (I blame hormones)

I never imagined when I took that first engagement picture how many more family pictures would take place in that backyard and how our family would grow.  

Thank you Backyard for providing us with so many memories. You will be missed! (oh yeah I did just do that - pretty cheesy, huh?)

So, here is to a new beginnings and new memories to be made! 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What’s Up Wednesday: Link-Up



So, I am trying something new today and linking up with Mel, Shaeffer & Shay this morning for What’s Up Wednesday! 



I really wish I was more prepared this month, but I feel like if I don’t bite the bullet then I will never do this, so here we go. Can I also say that, yes, I know I have a wonder cannon camera? Yes, I need to use it more, but I really have hardly any pictures to go with this post - sorry for the boredom this may cause you. 

What We’re Eating This Week

I am happy to report that I am back to meal planning! Shelby requested a special meal Sunday night before school: Barbecue Sausage, Macaroni & Cheese and Mashed Potatoes…I did throw in an actual vegetable so that I wasn’t a completely terrible mom. 

On Monday we tried this:





It was a big hit and has been put on the “repeat” list. 

What I am reminiscing about?

That’s easy. I am reminiscing about this girl and how fast we’ve gone from kindergarten to being a Freshman in High School. I wrote a good tear jerker about it on Monday: http://danaraeb.blogspot.com/2015/08/believe-moms-when-they-say.html 



What am I Loving?

Periscope! 

I have had this app for awhile now, but have only done one sad periscope myself on the way to College Station with Shelby. I am loving seeing people like Jon Acuff on periscope. I always make sure to have paper and pen close by to jot down tidbits of knowledge since I am in the process (kind of) of putting my story into book form. 



I am also loving the scopes that Edie Wadsworth (lifeingrace) has been doing! Yesterday, she took us through her favorites books (again, note taking like crazy). 




What We’ve Been Up To

Well, last Friday our 4-hour (2-hours each way) trip that we normally take to drop Shelby off halfway to North Texas turned into a 25-hour trip after a blow-out somewhere between College Station and Reagan, TX. Just imagine open country road, no cellphone service and the closest living thing was a pasture of cows. Thank goodness Matt was with me, but we had to hobble to Waco for the night since my donut (hate those things - the tire, not the food) had a crack. One good thing, though: you can’t got to Waco without visiting Magnolia Market! I rushed in, grabbed what I needed and rushed out because, hello, I had no make-up or hair products with me and looked like a serious hot mess!  



What I’m Dreading

I hate to say I am kind of dreading the busy season that is coming up. School has started, Bekah has started dance, Matt and I start leading Bible Study on Sunday and we are about to get into Birthday Season at our house. 

What I’m Working On

As I mentioned early I am starting the thinking process of putting my writing into a book or manuscript. It’s nerve wracking and I’ve been battling the negative feelings that I am really not talented enough for this. I spent yesterday researching writing guidelines and deadlines to submit articles/essays because I think that is my first step. With all of this, I’ve done a ton of praying. 

What I am Excited About

Bekah and I started planning her birthday party - A Super Hero Party! I am so excited! I have to say she is excited about the idea of presents and runs in while I am writing to say “Can you put (blank) on my list?” She means her amazon wish list that is growing by the day - hey, it’s better than her asking me to buy them now - which is what she was doing last week. 

What I am Watching/Reading

While on our little adventure in the hotel overnight there was hardly anything child friendly television, so we watched Animal Planet and I have to say that I have fallen in love with Treehouse Masters (but still do not know what it has to do with animals). Have you seen it?




Last night I watch Miss Potter for the first time and fell in love. I have adored Beatrix Potter’s work since my great aunt Mary gave me one of her books when I was very young. I am not sure why I had not know about this movie before. I love anything from the late 1800’s/early 1900’s and this movie did not disappoint. The set and costume design were amazing! 





This week I was sent a copy of It’s Good to Be Queen by Liz Curtis Higgs to review*. I absolutely adore Liz and so far this book is displays her typical writing. She does an amazing job describing characters and settings, so much so that you feel like you are on the camel with the Queen of Sheba. Did you know that camels only walk as fast as humans do, so really it was just a place to sit, they didn’t get you to your destination any faster?



What I’m Listening To

I am a pandora fanatic and mainly listen to a Hillsong Worship channel. This song came on as I was writing this post. 


What I am Wearing

Yikes, Yoga pants and t-shirts still. I know, I know, I will eventually get back into actually getting dressed. 

What I am Doing This Weekend

Absolutely nothing if I can help it! I know we need to pick up some new school supplies and my in-laws are moving into their new home, so we will be leaving the house some. After last week, though, we really need some serious down time. 

What I’m Look Forward to Next Month 

September starts our birthday season. Matt’s birthday is on the 9th and Shelby will be 14 on the 13th (cry). 

What Else is New


This girl started High School this Week! Have I mentioned that? That I have a high schooler? At least I still have my two toddlers, so I can still pretended that I am in my 20s, right?



Favorite Back to School Tradition

I really wish we had a really neat one, but really our tradition is just cookies after the first day and this year we swapped that for Red Velvet Cake which is sitting, barely eaten, in my kitchen. Maybe, next year. 


*Liz Curtis Higgs books was received through http://www.bloggingforbooks.com/


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ten Things I Want My Daughter to Know

As you know I sent my oldest daughter off to high school yesterday. I am happy to report that she was actually excited to go back again this morning. The years are flying by and during the Summer I got the idea to write this (it was originally going to be a video) since Shelby will be 14 next month. And if you’ve been following my story then you know that 14 is really when my life got off track. I am in constant prayer for Shelby during this time and I believe I’ve made it perfectly clear what life looks like when you stray from God’s plan. I pray she learns from my mistakes and doesn’t venture out to make her own (yes, I know it’s good for her to make mistakes - just not the ones that I made - and we both know I’ve got most of the major ones covered for her). 

So, without further ado…


Dear Shelby - 

As I approach 40 (still have a few years, but’s it’s over there snickering at me) I have really realized some of the things that I have missed out on in life and I thought why not give you some of those tidbits. Now, this is only ten things because I don’t want to overwhelm you, but know that I will be giving you more. Like the ten things you need to know about boys, about getting married, about prom - girl I have at least ten opinions about everything! (that should be no shock to you)

1. God Comes First

Let me just use the lingo you cool kids are using right now and say God is BAE - Before Anyone (and anything) Else. That pretty much sums Him up. If something feels off or not right then you can be 90% sure that in someway God is not being first. And Shelby Elizabeth, please trust your mother when I say a life with God First is so much more amazing than anything this world can provide. 



Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways follow him and he will keep your path straight.

2. Always Be Honest

You and I both know that honesty is the BEST POLICY. You’ve seen this in the past month, how being honest with yourself and others builds trust and relationships. Be honest in everything! If the woman at Target missed a shirt at checkout then say, “Hey, you missed that one.” She will appreciate it, you will feel better, and God will smile (your mom will, too). 

3. Life is Short

Oh man, I pray that when you are my age you can only count on one hand how many people you grew up with who are no longer with us. I hope you are spared the heartache of funerals in your 20s of dear friends. Your mother, unfortunately, attended her first funeral for a friend at the age of 17 and I feel like they just haven’t stopped. I’ve lost acquaintances, old boy friends and my very best friend. God only guarantees one thing in life and that is death. And he doesn’t tell you when, so live your life full. Full of goodness and grace (to yourself and others). Be careful of your surroundings and please for the love of Kermit, DO NOT driving if you’ve been drinking and  do not get in the car with a driver who has been drinking. I could go on and on…look both ways before you cross the street…know your limits (and don’t push them - that never really turns out great)…DO NOT smoke…and many many more! My grandmothers lived till their 90s and that wouldn’t have happened if they out bar hoping until 2 am (just saying!). 

4. Don’t Grow Up Too Fast

Mortgages (buying a house) and car payments can wait - remain young as long as you can. Don’t drop out of college to work full-time - go to college, experience it all - live on campus, go to class, learn! Use your late teens and early twenties to live as unattached young person. Develop the skills to live independently, but do not get sucked into the need to have a nice car or become a home owner - those will come soon and then my next advice will be so hard to do. 

5. Travel!

Listen to your World Geography teacher who says that his class is more important than any others. (because you seriously do not use algebra again, but you sill need to learn it now - that’s life) Travel when you are young and don’t have the above mentioned mortgage, children, electricity bill, car payment, HOA Dues - the list in endless once you become “an adult.” Take every chance you can to travel. Do a semester abroad, eat the food, learn the language and breathe in every tidbit of that country. The furthest I have been out the county is Matamoros, Mexica. Go further than I did and really, don’t go there, please! You, you may want to avoid most of Mexico - just trust me. 

Jerusalem by Grandad


6. Weird is Rad!

Now, this is very important! The things you do now that you think “are weird” will actually help you to be creative later and creative people make it further in life. So embrace your weird! Be passionate about it and wave that weird flag high! Many, many people struggle with being creative and that’s because they lost that weird spark early in life - don’t lose your weird!

7. Ask Yourself “Would I do this in front of Grandad?”

Now, this is a great exercise to keep you in line. Before you go anywhere new, that maybe a friends wants you to go to, think “Would Grandad want to come with me here?” Before you get dressed, “Would I be embarrassed wearing this around Grandad?” We both know that Grandad is awesome, but he is also a great meter to determine your actions with. He will always be proud of you, but really do you think you want to do that in front of Grandad? 



8. Be Yourself Especially with Your Friends

Being yourself builds trust and trust forms bonds and as you grow up and navigate this world you are going to need those friends. Get real with them now - show them how amazing you are and they will show you how amazing true friendship can be. Trust that they love you just the way you are and if they don’t then they aren’t your friends. Dump the fake friends now - trust me. 




9. Love Your Sisters

In the end they are all you have (that includes all your siblings). One day I will no longer be here and your sisters will be what you have left of our family. Take number eight (above) and apply it here as well. Work to develop strong relationships with them. I know that isn’t easy now since they are three and two, but still love them as you would want to be loved now. I haven’t succeed in this area with your aunt and I really really want you three to not face the struggles that we have. Remember to get together as much as possible, spend holidays together after I am gone, love their babies as your own and be a solid friend (a safe place for them to go). But do not gang up with your sisters against me, I will not stand for it. (giggles)




10. I am Here No Matter What

I hope this point is so clear to you. All the others are important, but Shelby Lou I want you to know that NO MATTER WHAT I am here. NO MATTER WHAT I will always love you! I get the amazing privilege to be your mother. I will be there when you are sad, when you are happy and when you feel lost. Please, please remember I am a safe place to rest your thoughts. My plan is to be a place of grace to you. Know that you are my first baby, I am learning how to love you just as you are learning how to live in this world. There will be hiccups, but I love you more than you will ever know!  (take that back - have your first child (many many years from now) and then you will know) And trust in the fact that my love for you will never change, just like God’s love for you my sweet child. 



Love Always, 

Your Crazy (now crying) Mom


Monday, August 24, 2015

Believe Moms When They Say




Today I sent this young lady off to her first day in High School, then I sat on my stairs and cried. It all happened so fast, just the other day she was starting kindergarten with her little uniform on (picture below), now she is headed into her last four years of school. 

Believe moms when they say time flies.

I always heard, “enjoy this while you can because pretty soon she will be (insert a scary phase of life).” I didn’t really believe it, I know that time passes and I should have known how quickly since it feels like I just graduated from high school the other day. To be honest I have been in denial and really don’t think it truly hit me until she jumped in her friend’s car and left. At that point the tears just did not stop. 

Bekah wandered down stairs and sat beside me. I hugged her and said, “don’t grow up Bekah, stay with mommy forever.” To which she responded, “I am growing up, momma! I am big and I am going to school with Shelby.” 

My fellow moms of toddlers: cherish those babies, take an extra minute for a hug or an hour to read more books. Because before you know it they will be off to brave, the sometimes cruel, world of High School, then college. Then, if you are so fortunate, you will get to read books to a new generation - grandchildren. I have heard it is a pretty sweet deal. Just about all the perks of parenting except less diaper duty and more sleep. 

I found this awhile back and thought what I great way to start the school year, praying for your kids. 



Now, if you are anything like me, you probably won’t look up the verses (because aren’t we are just busy!), so I have given them to you:

S - Self Control: 1 Peter 5:8 - Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

C - Courage: Joshua 1:9 - Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

H - Help from the Holy Spirit: John 7:38-39a - Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. 

O - Opportunities to Do Good: Galatians 6:10 - Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

O - Overcome Evil: Romans 12:21 - Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

L - Love God and Others: Matthew 22:37-39 - Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

Of course, a back to school post would not be complete without a little trip down memory lane! 

Kindergarten

First Grade

Second Grade

Third Grade

Fourth Grade

Fifth Grade

Sixth Grade

Seventh Grade

Eighth Grade

Freshman



Now, I if you need me I will be in my closet crying because time will stop moving if I sit in my closet, right?