A Summer of Boom and Bust

If there was ever a season to challenge my ability to make the best of a trying time, this summer ranks high.

When summer began, we were off to such a great start with kite flying and the promise of days filled with sun, relaxation and lots of outdoor fun. Instead we got rain. Lots of it! We also got four weeks of unexpected sickness that put a kink in my high hopes of a summer with no difficulties. Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

It seems that when I wasn’t nursing someone back to health, we were heading to the doctor. As a bonus to try our patience as parents, we got a trip to the emergency room and Jessa had her highest fever ever! All of this in just eight weeks. Really?

It’s been quite a summer.

But even with all the sick days and rain, our summer wasn’t a total bust. Juliana mastered walking up and down the stairs by herself and Jessa had her first experience with summer camp.

As I do every summer, I read Simple Living for You, by Inspirio.

Reading this book reminds me to slow down and keep my life simple. This was especially important this summer. Well really, it’s important for me all year long.

Since school will be starting on Monday, we had our official “closing-out-summer-celebrating-Jessa’s birthday-trek” to what I call the fake beach. That’s where we are in the pic above. It’s really the lake, but when the girls hit the water and sand, they don’t care where we are. Smiles and squeals of joy filled our beautiful, perfect weather day. I got a moment to close my eyes, sit still and soak up some sun while the girls played.

As we rode home, I forgot all about doctor visits and sick kids. I filled my heart with the memories of our day and reminded myself that we won’t get these moments forever.

Summer #5 has come and gone and when I look back, I won’t remember the rain and bouts of illness. Instead, I’ll have visions of Lamar coaching Juliana up and down the stairs and Jessa practicing her summer reading after an exhausting but satisfying day at camp.

Was your summer all that you hoped? If not, remember that’s perfectly okay. You had some good things in there; you did. Hold on to those. Will you join me in my quest to see the beauty of things even when they don’t go as planned?

The clock is ticking. For me, and for you too. So, I’m choosing to walk away from the summer of 2017 with the good memories. The ones that will make me smile at the close of this summer and the summers that are yet to come.

What are We Doing with Our Dreams?

No, I am not getting a new car, or hoping to become a sports car designer.

Today, I’m planting seeds of hope and contemplation not just for my dreams, but for yours too.

The quote and car above go hand in hand with what’s on my mind today. I am always looking for inspiration and motivation everywhere, and last week I found them in my Sunday morning paper and through the Sunday morning guest speaker at my church.

Seemingly not connected in any way, Lyn Slater and Jeremy Cowart’s stories remind me of the possibilities that we often forget—the importance of not giving up on our dreams.

You may already know about Lyn Slater. She is making headlines and history as the 63-year old professor turned fashion blogger, turned model. After being mistaken by paparazzi in New York as a celebrity, Slater started the blog Accidental Icon where she writes about life, community and her love of fashion.

I like to look nice when I’m out and about, but high/haute couture is not a priority in my suburban life of carpools and daily lunch packing. It must have been the striking photo of Lyn in this Atlanta Journal Constitution article that made me pause to read about her.

I was immediately caught up in her story not because of her fashion sense, but because as this woman ages, she has decided to live by her own standards. She’s having a wonderful time pursuing her interests and what makes her happy. Her dreams.

Fast forward a few hours and I’m connected with Jeremy Cowart online as he is speaking at our church. It was not a traditional message by any means. Jeremy just stood and told his story through this amazing and graphically beautiful video. Cowart describes himself as a guy who was not so smart in school and struggled until he discovered art and later graphic design and photography.

Today, he is an accomplished celebrity photography who has been named “The Most Influential Photographer on the Internet” by Huffington Post. Not too shabby. Though Cowart has become quite successful, he continues to pursue idea after idea, and dream after dream to do and be more.

I find that so inspiring.

What is it about getting older or accomplishing a thing or two that makes us give up on our dreams? And don’t say or think that you don’t have any because we all do. Yes, dreams change and some of the unrealistic and childish ones (like my 5-year old’s current one of having wings) rightfully fall away as we grow older.

I’m talking about those dreams that bring joy, change lives and just make things better and better. Today, I’m planting seeds of hope and contemplation not just for my dreams, but for yours too. The ones you may have forgotten about as life changed. The ones that seem financially impossible. The simple ones too.

Let’s be intentional about remembering our dreams and doing all that we can to make them happen.

These Flowers Bloom for My Appreciation

“Give people flowers while they are still here.”

These are the wise words of my childhood pastor that have stayed with me a lifetime. I can’t remember the context or the message that brought about this statement. But they have stayed with me. Essentially, my pastor was encouraging us to tell the people that we appreciate how much they mean to us. So, this post has a two-part purpose–flowers to those who help us on our journey; flowers to those who recently helped us get “restored.”

Last week, Lamar and I were able to have a much-needed weekend getaway. Thanks to Restore Place, (a non-profit organization that provides respite for parents of special needs children) we have been fortunate to receive this getaway gift two years in a row. The getaway is the easy part; reading by the pool, sleeping late and eating junk food. The challenging part is getting to the getaway.

Parents leaving small children for a weekend away is no easy feat. Last Friday, in full prep mode, I swore I heard that silly, clownish song (the one you hear with the trumpets in the background of comedic scenes when someone is tripping over themselves, bumping into doors and having things fall onto them) as I got food prepped and stored, laid out clothes and penned a VERY long list of instructions for the caregivers. “This is crazy. So much work for a quick getaway,” I mumbled to myself with each added task.

Exhausted from the day of prep, we finally made it to our hotel room really late. Again, I thought, “So much work for a quick getaway.” But the mumbling stopped when I received the beautiful bouquet of flowers that you see above. Again, a sweet gift from our friends at Restore Place. The flowers made the mumbling stop. And I began to appreciate the moment and just kept thinking, “Flowers. Flowers.”

I’m throwing up a big fist pump that we pulled off the weekend even after our first childcare option fell through. It took a mountain of planning and prep, but we had our getaway. Yay us! But all the fun things we got to do on our trip would not have been possible without our friends and family who gave their time and read my long this-is-how-you-watch-our-kids-memo to take care of our kiddos.

I’m giving flowers to them all today. And just in case I don’t do it enough, I’m giving extra flowers to those who support us in all that we do. Watching our kids, encouraging us, donating to the Angelman Syndrome Foundation, running Juliana’s race and loving my blog!

You know who you are…and you are very much appreciated.