Tuesday, August 31, 2010

back to high school

didn't have one of these in high school...

Last night was back-to-school night at my daughter's new high school.  The past three years, her middle school's back to school nights involved a large meeting of piles of parents together in the gym, where the teachers were introduced, gave brief comments, the principal talked and that was it.

And while it did help me put faces of teachers with their names, it always left me a little wanting.  I begrudgingly accepted that the days of sitting at her little desk and seeing her first week's work proudly displayed on a bulletin board were gone.

Until last night.  Pickle's new school had us travel through their day, according to their schedule for 7 minute classes.  I walked her hallways, climbed the stairs she climbs (up and down over and over I discovered!), sat in the desks she sits in and heard from the teachers that are investing in her life.  I saw the very bright green wall she looks at as she learns French.  I saw the messages the teachers choose to display in their rooms, the boards assignments are written on, and the way the desks are arranged in each room.  I heard each teacher share from their hearts who they are, and what their hopes and dreams for their students are.

Oh, and I learned that they actually use that expensive calculator I had to buy her every day in class--it links up with the teacher's computer and receives assignments.  They do the assignments on the calculator and they upload back to the teacher.  (I'll pause here in case that makes your brain hurt just a little like it does mine...)

I also got to experience what Pickle has these first few weeks in a new school.  I was the one who didn't know anybody, who went to the wrong classroom at one point, and who hardly talked to anyone all night.  Thank God we didn't have lunch! :0)

Back-to-school nights are annual events for us parent-types, to be dutifully attended and in some cases, endured.  But on this Tuesday, I am celebrating this night.  I am celebrating that I can picture Pickle's whole high school thing now.   I didn't just hear about it, but I experienced it.  You can't put a  price on that.

Joining with emily and others at chatting at the sky where we celebrate small things on Tuesdays.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

It's all about me.

Recently, I started reading The Outdoor Wife and she asked her readers to give a short bio for our readers and link up.  So, sure, I'll jump in.

Disclaimer: asking me to be short is close to impossible.  I am one of those who needs to process outside of myself, which turns most often to talking, and less often to writing.  I also overshare.  I can be the epitomy of TMI.  I'm aware of it.  It makes some uncomfortable, but I'm thankful for friends and family who put up with it well.  Some even think my babble is interesting.

With that disclaimer of sorts out of the way, here are the basics:

Growing up.
I grew up on Long Island (that's part of NY) with the blessing of a wonderful, loving family who pointed me to God with their words and example.  I chose to follow Jesus as a child, and I still choose Him everyday.  I am the oldest of three girls, and am a fairly typical firstborn.  I was motivated by achievement in school, and was a good student, a student leader, a cheerleader.  I was very involved at church and my best friends were from my little tiny youth group.

I am still growing up.

Dave and I met at Gordon College--a wonderful christian liberal arts college north of Boston.  We became friends and had a first date as sophomores, but didn't start dating seriously until we were just a few months from graduation.  We got engaged a year later and married a year after that.  God gave us each other because we are perfect for each other.  Not perfect, mind you, but exactly who each other needs to walk this journey called life.  Laughter, acceptance, forgiveness and working hard on communicating are themes of our marriage, and God has sustained us during some seasons where one or both of us came close to sabotaging the whole beautiful thing.  Our relationship continues to be one of the best tools God uses to shape each of us.  I love this man who cracks me up, who knows me, and who loves me in a way that accepts the good and bad of me.  We've been married for 20 years.  I'm so thankful.

God has blessed us with three children.  Our first child, aka Pickle, is our beautiful 14 year old daughter who has just started high school.  God gave us a son the second time around--Aidan.  He was born with multiple birth defects and lived only 4 months.  You can read a bit more about him here.  Our journey as Aidan's parents has changed and shaped us in more ways than I could say.  I have more to write about all of that...but for some reason it's slow in coming.  After a time of grieving, God blessed us a third time, with another son.  "Bubba" is 9 now and in 4th grade.  Being a mom is SO amazing and fun and hard.  I love the relationships I have with these incredible people.  I write about them plenty...so I'll save the babble about them for other posts.

I have an BA in Youth Ministry and a MA in Educational Ministry. I have led youth groups, college students, and women's bible studies as a volunteer.  I have worked as a conference planner for a software company--didn't love that.  I LOVED working in college residence life as a residence director for 7 years (my sweet hubby lived in a dorm with me and 600 college students for that time--he's a saint).  I owned my own home party business for close to 5 years.  I've substitute taught.  And for the last three years I have had the amazing opportunity to be the Children's Ministries Director at my church.  I love it and know it's where God has me for this season.

Things that are true about me, that I wish weren't.
The talking too much thing has made it harder to be a listener.  I'm working on it, but wish listening was my natural bent.

By nature, I'm a perfectionist.  I've painfully given up (mostly) on being the perfect mother, wife, homemaker.  But I still struggle with the "shoulds".    God is helping me recognize those "shoulds" more quickly and let go of them more easily.  I'm a work in progress.

I struggle with depression.  It is managed well with medication.  I wish I didn't deal with it.

I am not a very disciplined person.  Understatement.  I understand completely how to be organized, fit and have a peaceful home.  I just don't follow through regularly.  I have a hard time balancing my laziness with my drivenness.

I am addicted to caffiene.  Diet coke is my drug of choice.  I don't think it's good for me.  I don't care to give it up.  I did for 6 months and I hated it.  I don't think I can stay on this path of DC consumption for too much longer--I actually would like bones and brain cells in my older years--but have no plans to change at this point.  I'm weak.

I have a sarcastic sense of humor.  While I'm thankful for a hubby who shares the sarcasm-gene, and for friends who think I'm funny sometimes, I know that not everyone appreciates sarcasm.  Sometimes I don't figure that out until too late. Yikes.

The way God made me--the parts I'm OK with.  :0)
I am open and real.  People tell me that.  I take no credit, I can't be otherwise.  I like to think overall it makes people comfortable to be around me.

I am a leader. It took me a while to accept this. Being a leader and a woman and a Christian can be interesting to navigate at times, but I'm learning that it is a gift God wants to use.

I love being with people.  People can feel like family to me very easily, and I love sharing life with others.

I am developmental.  I am fascinated with the way people learn and grow and change.  If I get to be a part of that journey for some--incredible.

I'm getting kinda old.  I'm 43.  My body is changing.  My face is changing.  Hair color is my friend.  I need glasses.  Things creak.  I weigh more.  I definitely feel younger on the inside than I look on the outside, but I am starting to accept that  I'm not young.  Or at least I'm working on that.

I write here as a way to process, but also as (hopefully) a way to encourage others to trust God for the Big-G-Good.

That's me.  More than you wanted to know as usual.  :0)

Monday, August 23, 2010

the furry watchman

He keeps watch.  While I sit and let God's Word soak in, while I journal in my favorite spot, He's there.  He is making sure no squirrels sneak up on us.   Making sure the neighborhood kids don't harm us on their way to school.  He looks out on the day.  Takes it all in.  I wonder if he thinks about anything while he performs his daily watch.

I love having this pup around.  He is funny, and loving, and a reminder to our family of God's gifts to us.

Although an ordinary sight for our household, I pause to grab a few photos and enjoy him--in all of his "i'm-so-big-standing-at-the-window-I'll-scare-the-birds-away" kind of way.  And, I must admit I think his tushy is pretty cute when he stands up (not so) big and tall, don't you think? (I just weirded some of you out, huh?)

Celebrating the small things.  That's what we do on tuesdays with emily at chatting at the sky.  Click on over to join the celebration.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Friday, August 20, 2010

Coffee Girl Coffee 8/20

On Fridays I link up with a fun group of bloggers--the company girls--to chat and catch up on our weeks.


Well, it's back to school week around here.  Pickle started with a Freshmen-only day on Tuesday, and then Bubba started on Wednesday.  It's gone well, although Pickle has had her moments of not liking being the "new girl".  It takes time to make real friends, yaknow?

I'm looking forward to settling into routine.  One of these days...

Work at church has been busy as we gear up for fall.  It's exciting, but last week I was feeling a little overwhelmed.  I processed about it here and seemed to hit a nerve with some of my readers.  Click on over if you want to hear my babble and join the discussion.  I'd love to hear if you get overwhelmed and what you do to cope.  My inlaws are visiting, and they are helping me get on top of things at home...so that is helping.  The more I think about it, the more I think that being overwhelmed is just a new chance to be overwhelmed by God's grace and provision rather than by my circumstances.  Hmmm.

And those wonderful inlaws of mine?  They brought super sweet, yummy, peaches.  Heaven with a pit.  Yummm.

And then yesterday I found out I won a blog giveaway to one of my favorite jewelry designers--Lisa Leonard!!  I couldn't be more excited.  Click over here and help me pick!

Happy Friday, bloggies!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I won! I won!

Confession:  I've been coveting.  Coveting Lisa Leonard jewelry.  For a while.  Have you seen her beautiful line of hand stamped silver jewelry?  A. DOR. A. BLE!

I enter every Lisa Leonard giveaway I come across, even when I'm unfamiliar with the blog.

Last week, one of my fav bloggers, Robin at Pensieve had a Blog Hop.  I joined in on the fun by posting as well as entering a few giveaways.  The one I most wanted was the $50 Lisa Leonard credit.  Today Robin announced the winners.  I casually scrolled down her post.

And what do you know, I won!!!  I am SO excited!  Thanks Robin and Lisa!

But now I have a problem.  What should I pick?  Here are some of my favorites:

I would include all five of our names on this family tree necklace.

And the three kids (including Aidan's) initials on this one:

I could choose the "be still" necklace cause God had been teaching me to be quiet more, and listen more, and trust more.  (and cause it has a bird!)

Lisa designed this necklace in honor of Audrey--Angie Smith's precious daughter who has gone to Jesus.  Having a little guy who is in heaven too--I thought I might need this "marked by love" necklace with his name on the back.

And then this one...which is just so super cute.

Are you coveting now too?  I'm sorry.  Pretend you are me and help me pick...please?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

goofy, but he smells good

My boy...

...finds it difficult to take a picture without a silly face or pose.  Hubby took these first day of school pictures, and the one on the top left was the only "normal" one out of many.  What a goof.

...is pretty excited about his first day of 4th grade.  He was up and dressed in no time flat.

...is concerned for others.  As I tried to tame his bedhead, he applied some of his dad's cologne.

  "Gotta smell good for the ladies", he said.

Oh boy.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesdays Unwrapped: a new beginning

Today is the first day of school for Pickle.  Her first day of HIGH SCHOOL.  And while I'm tempted to go down the road of reminiscing--how it's been mere moments since she was heading to PRESCHOOL, I'll save that sentimental blabber for another time.

Instead, I'm choosing to celebrate this new beginning.  It's not just her first day of high school (yikes--I'm still not used to it!), it's also her first day of Christian school.  She is joining her younger brother at the school where her daddy works.  It's going to be a new experience in more ways than one.  There will be new people, new classes, a new school-culture to learn, a new level of learning, and a new place to navigate.  A new beginning.

New beginnings can be scary if we choose to focus on the security of what we have left behind.  We can romanticize the past instead of embracing what lies in front of us.

We are not short on  butterflies over here, naturally...

...yet we celebrate a new beginning, one filled with opportunities for the taking.  Instead of focusing on what has been, I encourage her to enjoy what will be, the fresh start, the new notebooks and the new friendships-to-come.  We get to choose what we focus on.  Today we pick this new beginning.

I love you Pickle, you are going to have a great freshman year!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Be whelmed.

So, I get overwhelmed.  

I don't know if I get overwhelmed more easily than others, but it does seem to happen to me fairly regularly.    I get overwhelmed when there are lots of things to do, and in my mind they all seem really important and urgent.  I can't figure out where to begin, and start to believe there is no way I will ever conquer it all in the time I have.  Stress goes up, productivity goes down and I can get immobilized.  For some reason I can't see my way out.  I feel hope starting to slip through my fingers.

Today my friend Beth said when that happens, to have your "little freak-out moment" and then you just get on with it all.  My mom always says at those moments, "just do the next thing."  When I'm really overwhelmed, I might even need someone to tell me what the next thing is.  I usually feel pretty pathetic when I get to that point--which just fuels the overwhelmed-ness.

A coworker at church who knows me well, when given the chance to give me constructive criticism on my leadership this week, said, "Be whelmed."  Everyone looked at him a bit funny, but I knew right away what he meant.  And I thought it was pretty telling.  I get overwhelmed too easily, and it can be apparent to others.  It affects those around me.

What the stink is going on?  I am a competent person.  I can solve problems.  I can see the big picture.  I am usually pretty confident.  Why do I find myself overwhelmed over and over again?

I think I'm starting to figure it out.  I am a perfectionist (I hate even admitting that).  I put high standards on myself, and once I put them there I have a hard time letting myself out of them even when circumstances change.  I think, "I should be able to...."  I also think (subconsciously) that there is an ideal way to do things, a certain order that makes the most sense, that is best for me and others involved.  I have a hard time giving up on that ideal, even when it becomes obvious I need to.  Again, I hear in my head "I should be able to..."

Sometimes it is pride rearing it's ugly head (sometimes??), telling me what I should accomplish.  The house should be this clean.  I should get this much done today.  I should be able to handle this or that.  A friend says I "should all over myself".  

I know I'm making myself sound like a basket-case.  I don't think I am.  I think I deal with fairly typical feelings of overwhelmed-ness--common to moms (especially). We have a lot of "realities" pulling at us.  Someone please tell me they understand...

But, even though I think it is fairly common--I don't think overwhelmed is a land I (or any of us) should live in.  We are not free in that land.

So the question before me is...how do I "be whelmed" (not sure that's even a word, but let's go with it).  Here's what I'm learning:

1)  Feeling overwhelmed is very often self-inflicted.  High standards, impossible expectations.  Shoulding all over myself.  I'm SO guilty of that.  Being overwhelmed is rarely due to external things, I need to realize that it's internal for me most of the time.

2)  Gaining the right perspective requires trusting more.  Trusting God with outcomes.  Trusting that He has me in certain roles and will give me everything I need to accomplish His purposes in that role.  Acknowledging that His purposes and my standards may not be the same thing.

3)  I need to recognize pride and confess it.  I will not do things close to perfectly.  I am not superhuman.

4)  It's crucial to listen to God at the overwhelmed moments.  What is He saying to me?  I don't think I will hear Him telling me to get moving or I'll never get it all done!  I don't think He will scold me the way I do myself.  I don't think I'll hear Him listing all of my "shoulds".  I think I will hear Him telling me to be faithful.  To be grateful.  To trust Him.  That He sees me, and He loves me.  I think as I listen to God in those moments, I will be able to release all the self-inflicted feelings and be able to just do the next thing.

Talk to me.  Do you get overwhelmed?  What do you do?  Am I on the right track?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Life in no particular order (sweetened by cuteness)

Monday night I wrote about how I have discovered I love to write.  Tuesday I wrestled with figuring out how to make a Facebook page for my blog, and have the posts find their way there automatically. (If you are on Facebook, feel free to "like" my page there!) Then time to write alluded me the rest of the week.  Even today, I am barely eeking out this post to greet the company girls.  Maybe time to write will come soon.

Here's what's going on in our world (in no particular order):

We've spent some good time holding sweet cuties, which totally sweetened our week.  I took the kids to visit my friend's puppy while she is still pretty tiny.  They fell in love with her as I knew they would.  This little bundle is named Revy.  Isn't she something?

And, whenever we get the chance, we get our hands on my little niece.  I am soaking up the littleness, the floppiness, the newness of her.  I enjoyed the chance to change a poopy diaper,  finagle her wiggly body into different clothes, and burp her.  Tasks that were mundane when mine were little bring great joy now that I realize how fleeting those moments are.  She is precious.

don't you love that little leg hanging out of Pickle's arms??

We are wrapping our minds around the fact that school starts next week.  Brand new school for Pickle with new friends to meet.  Bits of paperwork to wrap up, the last few supplies to buy.  I feel less organized and ready than I ever have.

My hubby's parents are arriving today from FL for a few weeks.  They have driven their RV here, and they willingly submit themselves to our busy lives, catching time with us when they can.  The kids will spend the night with them tonight while hubby and I hang with the groupies.

Work is busy and exciting as I prepare for a new school year and new program for the kids at church.  I'm pulling together my team, exploring new materials, and watching the clock move too fast to get it all done.  My pastor (and boss) is an excellent coach, and I am growing as he challenges me.  I don't take that for granted.

And that plan to shred myself?  Yeah...no.  I did six days of it.  Never began to like it.  Then I got sidetracked with a week of waterparks, baby's arriving and a two day conference.  Now I'm dragging my feet about starting again...guess I'll be embracing the flab for a little longer.

I'm sad summer is over.  And yet, as always at this point of the year, I'm craving routine.  I'm ready for the house to stay the way I leave it in the morning all the way until the afternoon.  Not sure I'm ready for the faster pace...but it doesn't matter, here we go!

Monday, August 9, 2010

need to write?

I never minded writing.  School papers, journaling, letters to friends.  I never thought about whether I was any good at it until grad school when I got some good feedback about my writing style from professors I respect.  Still, it wasn't something I pursued--mostly because I didn't think I'd have the discipline to sit down and spend the time to write.  It sounded lonely.  I'm an extrovert-and-then-some.  I could never sit alone and write.

Then I discovered the blog world.  The blog world allows me to write and interact with others at the same time.  Perfect!  So I type out my babble and hit publish.  I do it again.  Some posts just stink.  Some I feel maybe-kinda-good about.  I write about life, and faith, and family.  I take little time to tweak and perfect--I just spew my thoughts through my fingers instead of my mouth.

And, what do you know?  I really like to write.  I might love it.  I think I might even be starting to need it.  Throughout today, my thoughts were many and spinning and jumbled.  I noticed in the midst of mind-spin a yearn to write.  To let the words bring clarity to my thoughts.  To process externally, as I say.  It started small, hardly recognizable.  As I gave the yearning some attention, I found myself looking for an opportunity to sit and let words flow onto the screen.

Finally, after a day of meetings and kid-stuff and grocery shopping, I get my chance to sit.  And I write.  About writing.  Funny.

And while I'm a long way from calling myself a writer, I am acquainting myself with the side of me that likes to put words to paper and screen.  And the way I feel doing it.  It's good.  It's an everyday gift worth celebrating--so I join once again with emily at chatting at the sky and unwrap along with the other gift-noticers there.

And to the real writers out there:  thanks for letting me be a part of your super cool world.  I want to be you when I grow up.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

Friday, August 6, 2010

Coffee Girl Coffee 8/6

Hi company girls!  I just have time for a quick post cause I'm out the door soon to attend my second day of the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit--simulcast here in CO.  Day one was really, really good.  Hope my brain can fit some more good stuff in today.

This has been a wonderful week.  On Monday I went to Waterworld with the youth group.  We had a great time, and yes, I got flushed.  Tuesday was my only day in the church office this week.

Wednesday was the highlight of the week (and Waterworld is hard to beat) because my niece Maisie was born!  She is the cutest little thing!  My sister Kerry lost Sadie almost a year and a half ago--so to have a healthy baby girl in our arms is nothing we take for granted.

Yesterday I joined in a blog-hop with Robin--there is still time to join in if you'd like!

That brings me to the Leadership thingy--which I really need to go to right now!  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blog-Hopping with Robin

Robin at Pensieve is hosting a Blog - Hop party and I decided to hop on in!

Hi bloggies, my name is dawn and I am so glad you hopped by!

I have been married to Dave for 20 years (it sounds long to me too--but it has flown by!) and we have two great kids--a 14 year old daughter I call Pickle, and a 9 year old son I call Bubba.  In real life they have real-people names, but these are their actual nicknames. Dave and I also have had the privilege of having another son--Aidan.  Aidan only lived for four months before he went to be with Jesus.  You can read some of his story here.  I am a Children's Ministry Director for our church.  This is a part-time job that sometimes is more like full-time--but I LOVE it.

I am in my early 40s and am experiencing all that goes with that--including getting bifocals this year (yikes!).  I like to say I feel younger on the inside than I look on the outside.  I love my family, diet coke over ice, eating out, living in Colorado, talking, colored pens, a good laugh, and the rare extended moments of quiet.  I love Jesus the most.

I call this blog theGoodlife because although God has allowed some trying days for us throughout the years--He redeems everything and makes it Big-G-Good.  You can read more about theGoodlife here.  I write about life--sometimes I'm serious, sometimes I'm silly.  I strive to be real and authentic--even with some of the yucky stuff.

I hope you'll hop back again and we can be blog-friends.  And live happily every after.  The end.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

She's here!

For those of you checking in to see if my niece has arrived safely I thought I better update!

Maisie Jane is here and adorable.  She arrived at 12:50 pm by planned C-section.  She was 8 lbs, 3 oz and 20.5 inches.  She has lots of dark hair (for now at least) and is just sweet as can be.  Kerry is doing well and is very happy of course.

My whole family is just smitten with this little one.  Let me share with you some favorite moments (and of course some pictures too!):

*  Jeff smiling as he walked toward my mom and I from the operating room on his way to the nursery.  He was carrying his girl--and he said, "She's perfect."  The nurse snapped this pic of us--our faces say it all.

*Seeing Mom's tears of joy and thankfulness when it sunk in that both Maisie and Kerry were well.  She said,  "I'm so happy."

* Watching through the nursery window the way Jeff was beaming with his eyes glued to Maisie as they did all the baby-nursery-stuff to her.  He looked as happy as he did on his wedding day.

*Seeing big brother Caleb contentedly hold Maisie for the first time, checking out every part of her and kissing her.  We asked this very active guy a few times if he was done and he said, "I want to keep holding her."

*Kerry so proud of Caleb as he assumed the big brother role.

*Caleb asking Pickle if she would like to "pet" Maisie.  Ha!

* When I asked Caleb what his favorite part of Maisie was--he snuggled her and said, "I just love her."  Precious.

* Watching Bubba totally fall in love with his little cousin as he held her.  I approached him and he whispered, " She's beautiful. "  He was in awe.

* Laughing when Caleb's second time holding his sister included pulling her upper lip up and declaring that she had no teeth!

*Observing how grown up and beautiful Pickle looked with a baby in her arms.  Be still my heart.

* And of course, the relief and joy of realizing Maisie is here, Kerry is well, and that our family's hearts have expanded to love another precious gift.

Thanks for letting me share our joy.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


At the risk of mentioning a cultural reference that half of you are too young to get...I have a catsup jingle stuck in my head.  "An-tic-i-pa-tion.  An-tic-i-pa-ay-tion. Is making me wait.  It's keeping me way-ay-ay-ay-ting."  Okay, hubby reminds me that is actually a Carly Simon song they used for heinz commercial.  If you can't sing along with the lyrics I typed--look up the song online.  Go ahead, I'll wait.

Now that you are singing along, you should know why we are anticipa-ay-ay-ting over here.  My sweet sister Kerry is in major countdown mode.  Baby Maisie is scheduled to be born via c-section on Wednesday!  Tomorrow!  Kerry could potentially go into labor sooner...and then little fingers and toes and lips would be here sooner too.

Pickle and I are feeling the anticipation--not in the too-hot, too-big, can't-get-comfortable way my sister is...but in the goosebumps-cause-she's-coming-soon way.  We are excited for Kerry and Jeff and Caleb, and excited for ourselves too.  It is beyond cool to hold a newborn you've already loved for months.

Anticipating something good is a luxurious rush.  I'm unwrapping the gift of the anticipation we feel today...and will be back with good news soon!

What are you anticipa-ay-ay-ting??

Read more everyday gifts unwrapped at chatting at the sky.

tuesdays unwrapped at cats

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