Lovies and Teddy Bears

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Since she was a newborn we have called my oldest, “Chloe-bear.” Now, she is 9 going on 16. She asked me recently to find her beloved teddy bear that she had as a toddler. I was surprised by the request, because sometimes she just seems so grown up and independent already. Somewhere in the many moves we have had as a family, it must have ended up in storage. When she was two or three, she begged me for this little bear while we were perusing the aisles of Target. It was before I knew the days of having babies at home with me all day would come to an end quicker than I realized. I’m glad I gave in to her cries of needing yet another stuffed animal, because the memories that come with objects of love are priceless.

Along with her “lovie,” the little bear with a heart on it’s chest was what she wanted to take with her on her first day of preschool, as well as her first day of Kindergarten. I told her that anytime she missed me, she could get out her bear and hug it tight and I would be thinking about her, too. I remember the bears head bobbing out of the side backpack pocket when I watched her walk away on those big “first” days.

Neither of us had thought of it until last week, when she vaguely remembered having a bear with a heart on it’s chest and wanted to know where it was. I tore through every storage bin and found it, along with a long forgotten blanket that she had come home wrapped in from the hospital. I left them both on her bed for her to discover when she got home from school that day. She squealed with joy when she saw them and slept with them that night. This morning, I found them both on the kitchen stool… lost treasures from the morning shuffle to get to school.

This growing up thing sucks. I don’t know how to handle it. Days are flying by faster than I can comprehend. In just a few years, I will be the parent of a teenager. It’s a terrifying and humbling thought. It is also a beautiful part of life. The art of letting go has been a running theme throughout this blog. I didn’t plan that, but I think it’s because letting go is a significant part of life and being human. I am stunned that I don’t have babies anymore. They are growing up and figuring out who they are and what they want to be in life. I am honored to be a mommy of two amazing little girls and to get the chance to witness life through the eyes of children.

Chloe’s request for her long-lost bear was a reminder that she will always be my Chloe-bear, my first-born, my baby girl. The bear that sits in my kitchen right now, has reminded me to take things slow and enjoy every second. Though it will be painful, letting go is another journey in life that will be cushioned by strong bonds, love, and family memories.

I’m still not a fan of my girls growing up so fast, but it’s good to know they still need their lovies and teddy bears. One day their objects of love will be unnecessary and forgotten, but for now they are still needed at nighttime and left on my kitchen chair.

Categories: Mommy Musings

Cardinal Nation

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Ten years ago, this Dallas girl got married and moved to St. Louis. Though born and raised in Texas, my husband had been working and living in St. Louis for a couple of years and he loved it. We decided this was an ideal place to continue living and hopefully raise a family someday. Besides a few years of college in Indiana, I had lived in Dallas for almost 15 years – a city that is home to “America’s Team.” I grew up in the thick of “Friday Night Lights,” but it wasn’t a TV show or a movie for me, it was my life. One of my four brothers was a very talented high school football player and in Texas, that means driving every Friday night to a game out in the middle of nowhere to cheer on my team and my brother.

As a child, I believed everyone in the world rooted for the Cowboys, I didn’t know any different. Superbowl games were one big party year after year back in the glory days of Aikman and Emmit, when it seemed like the Cowboys couldn’t lose. I have cherished memories of “Bat Night” at Rangers games with my Dad and  I vividly remember the moment the Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999 when people who didn’t even know each other were hugging and dancing after that remarkable win. And don’t even get me started on the year our Mavericks won the 2011 championship. My husband and I actually cried. We had waited so long. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Texas and their teams and that will never change. My life has sort of revolved around sports, in one way or another and I have always loved that. I understand football plays and basketball stats. I have a competitive spirit and I love a good game – no matter what sport. But baseball was never really a favorite. I enjoyed going to games – the atmosphere of a stadium has always been intoxicating to me, but to be honest I am pretty sure I have never intently watched an entire game of baseball…that is, until I lived here – the home of an 11 time World Series Championship team, second only to the Yankees.

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After the first several years of living in the suburbs of St. Louis, I didn’t really get the Cardinal craziness. The fans go all out here. ALL. OUT. I had never seen anything like it – even for the Cowboys. Dying water fountains red, shooting off fireworks after every win and having about 20 yearly “Cardinal spirit wear” days at school and work are normal things here. I can’t rattle off stats or tell you the players batting averages and Ryan and I have attended less than ten Cardinal games in the last ten years of living in St. Louis, so I think my opinion is pretty unbiased.

However, somewhere in the last few years, I became a Cardinal fan. Not just because they are an awesome team, which they are and not because I have served alongside some of the players and know they are the real deal – class act men who practice what they preach, on and off the field – and not just about baseball. The reason I am a Cardinals fan is because this team gave me back the love of the game. In 2011, I started checking baseball scores and paying attention to games with an intensity that brought back feelings of being nine years old again, standing in a baseball stadium for the first time while rooting for the home team with reckless abandon. The city comes together in a way I have never witnessed before. There is a kind of unity that is indescribable. Everything is always awash in a red glow that never fades and a heat that does not dissipate, even after the season is over. It’s a fever that is definitely contagious, regardless of the score. I’ve never seen Card fans boo their guys. Every win and loss is taken personally. The players are talked about like they are part of the family. They can admit if a game was played poorly, but are never disrespectful. The fans are known for their sportsmanship and love of the game. Living here during playoff season is electrifying. It gets into your bones. I guess it has finally found it’s way into mine.

Tonight, during game two of the World Series, I leapt in the air with every Cardinal run. My heart was in my throat when Kozma swiped third base in the 7th inning and I could hardly breathe in the 8th. Since I wasn’t born and raised here, I never really felt much of a loyalty to St. Louis teams. Subconsciously, I guess I still felt like an outsider, even after calling this city my home for ten years. But tonight, I realized that the team I loved was my home team. I love Cardinal baseball. St. Louis is my home and to me, the Cardinals are America’s Team.

But then again, what do I know? I’m just a Texas girl living in Cardinal Nation…

Categories: Random Thoughts, Writing

The Very Best Words

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“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

After leading worship at church last weekend, a friend sent me an encouraging email. She said, “I love how you draw others into worship.  Thank you for giving of yourself when I know you don’t have very much to give. May God continue to give you strength and courage to live with joy and hope.”

Thank you for giving of yourself when I know you don’t have very much to give.

That sentence almost knocked me over. No one has ever said that to me before. It was incredibly powerful and healing. Where I was spiritually and physically in that moment, those were the best words. The. Very. Best. Words. After I read them, I realized just how much I had needed someone to say those exact words to me, but I didn’t know that until they were written out with my name typed out in the recipient line. We may not know what we need, but when it’s sweetly whispered in our ear, “I love you,” or yelled proudly in a big embrace, “You did it! You are so amazing!” or even tearfully sobbed out with shaken breaths, “I’m so sorry.” These are life-giving words and no one is going to hold up a sign telling us to speak these words to our family and our friends, but we must. We are commanded to love one another and speaking life affirming words to another human being is one of the most genuine forms of loving that I know.

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I don’t think we truly understand how much power our words have. We hold the power of life and death on our tongues and to make a difference in the life of another person, can take mere seconds. It doesn’t take much to be an encouragement to others, but I can let days go by without saying or doing anything. The email I received probably took my friend a total of less than five minutes to type out and send to me. And yet, it meant the world to me that she let me know she cared and that she “saw” me. Our words can hurt or heal, wound or soothe, and damage or restore. I want to speak words to my friends and family that are good and true, lovely and hopeful. How easy it is to make someone’s day with something as simple as a sentence.

What “best words” can you write or speak that will make someone’s day? With words, we can speak healing into the pain, joy into the sadness and light into the darkness. Choose your words carefully…

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” Mother Theresa

Categories: Spiritual Reflections, Writing

Busy

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I don’t like being busy. It is stressful and frantic. In our culture, a busy lifestyle seems to be the norm and sometimes it even feels like it’s how we are “supposed” to live. I think it’s highly overrated. It steals the joy out of the day, takes the luster out of our living. It distracts us from what really matters. As Rob Bell says, “Busy is a drug that a lot of people are addicted to.”

But sometimes life just gets busy… or it stays busy and that can be completely overwhelming. This is not the kind of life we are meant to live. I want to live an intentional life, not a “just getting by” life. We will not always be able to do everything that everyone needs us to do or all that we think we “should” do. Our time and energy is limited but if we are intentional with our time, energy, and resources – the best things will get accomplished. Hopefully, those will end up being the most important things.

Our family is currently in a season of busyness. It seems like there is always something. It is crucial that in those busy times, we need to remember to slow down and breathe. We must remember to live fully in the moments. We can’t let the beauty of being alive get lost in a disorganized and un-prioritized life. I’m trying to learn to live well, despite the chaotic bustle of our busy schedule.

If we don’t stop and pay attention in the everyday living, we will forget how to really live. 

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“Jesus Today” and “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young are books that help me to slow down when things get too crazy. I loved this passage today. Read it as if Jesus is speaking just to you…

“This world you inhabit is increasingly complex and confusing. You have more information at your fingertips than you could process in a lifetime.  There are so many demands on you – from the world, the church, other people, yourself. As a result, it’s easy to feel lost and perplexed. To find Peace in this chaotic clutter, you need to set priorities according to my will. It is crucial to make your relationship with Me the top priority – nurturing and strengthening your connection with me… Making Me your highest priority gives focus to your thinking. Other priorities fall in to their proper place when I am first and foremost in your life.”   –Jesus Today

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What are you busy about? Are you fulfilled or fully stressed? Don’t let busyness replace living fully.

Categories: Random Thoughts, Spiritual Reflections, Writing