Tuesday, March 22, 2016

When Lasagna Rocks Your World

If you're anything like me, you have a strong tendency to focus on your weaknesses, those inadequacies that glare at you in the mirror or get highlighted by some amazing, capable, got-it-all-together friend who you force yourself to love despite the painful comparisons you make.

No? This isn't you? 
Well, you can stop reading then. 
You don't need me. 

For the rest of you, maybe there is something here 
that God would have you hear. 

Today, the most simple act of kindness rocked my world. But not because of the kindness itself, but because of the brokenness that it put in 
a spot light for me. 

Today, a friend wanted to bless 
us with dinner. 
In a house full of male, teen eaters, with manly appetites, this is ALWAYS a blessing. 


But today was different. 
Today, the amazing meal in question was a lasagna with salad. 
A FROZEN Lasagna- 
With NO instructions. 

So, in my culinary ignorance, I innocently text the person responsible for getting the meal to me and asked how I should cook it. 
She advised 1 hour at 375 degrees, check and uncover till cheese is browned on top. 

Seemed reasonable to me, so I thanked her and added my normal excuse, 
"Tom was the chef in the family"

That was when it happened. 
I crumbled. 
Sitting in the church parking lot waiting for 3 of the boys to finish band class, I absolutely lost it. 
Every single flaw, inadequacy, and bit of brokenness flooded over me in that moment.
I couldn't stop crying.  

I couldn't even cook a stinkin' frozen lasagna without help! 

But, here's the thing. 
It wasn't about the lasagna. 
It was about the painful reminder that I no longer had Tom here to fill in my gaps. 

I never had to cook. I never had to know what temperature to cook a lasagna, or anything else for that matter. 
On those rare occasions that I needed to cook, I could READ THE DIRECTIONS. 

But today, there were no directions. 
There was no Tom. 
There was just me. 

And in that moment, I not only saw my ignorance with cooking, but every other single flaw I possess. 

I saw everything that now was right in front of me, all those things that Tom made better. 

I saw my impatience and my temper. 
I saw my grief and my fatigue. 
I saw my frustration and I realized that there is a reason I have these gaps. 
There is a reason that God lovingly reminded me of them today. 

You see, I don't think that these things, these reminders, are always from the enemy. 
I believe there are times when our loving Father needs us to recognize our weakness so that we have no choice left 
but to cling to him. 

All my type A peeps will testify that 
one of the worst feelings in the world is to feel weak. 
I hate being broken. 
I hate feeling that I'm not enough and will never be enough for my kids. 
I hate feeling that without their father, we are all missing some vital part of our lives that can never be replaced. 

But I know that I am not alone. 
I know that the God who called him home has not left us and that if he needed me to be enough, he would have made it so.
If I needed to be a fabulous cook, 
I would be.  

So for all of you who aren't enough either, 
join me in praising God for your weaknesses. 
Praise Him for being enough, for being sufficient. 

There are many days that I simply cannot fathom why God chose me, of all people, to be a single mom to these children, but I will trust Him. 

I will trust that no matter how broken I may be, that He didn't get this wrong and that He will give me what I need and what they need to fulfill His purposes for their lives. 

So go on and sew that button back on with the wrong colored thread, tell your sons you want to "make a goal" while 
you are shooting hoops, 
admit that you have NO IDEA what the answer to that calculus question is, because it's ok to get it wrong. 
It's ok if you aren't enough. 

What you ARE, is exactly who God intended you to be and the perfect parent for your kids. 

And the lasagna? 
It eventually cooked and it was great! 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Open Letter to Husbands and Fathers from a Widow on Valentine's Day

Well, it's my first Valentine's Day since Tom met the Lord this past summer. He was the great love of my life and I am incredibly grateful for the years that God granted us to love one another.

So here's the thing. I've never been a huge fan of this holiday. I am not a VDay basher, either, just never got all excited about obligatory gifts and junk food. Tom, on the other hand, was a pitiful romantic. He never missed an excuse to show his love for me, whether I expected it or not. He would not allow me to be a grinch about love. 

This holiday has always had mixed reviews, right? Some people look forward to it each year with the anticipation of a 16 year old in love for the first time, while others loathe the commercial aspect of this created holiday and grumble about the implied responsibility of this day.

After all, who wants to feel compelled by social pressure to say, "I love you" or to buy a card, roses and candy? And they jack up the prices so! Shouldn't those things come more than once a year? Shouldn't they be spontaneous? 

Of course, the answer is yes to both of those questions. The romantic gestures that express love and appreciation for your spouse and children should be a natural overflow of your acknowledgement that each is a unique and precious gift from God. 

And yes, they should come from your heart any time of year, but before you dismiss Valentine's Day altogether, indulge me a moment. 

As I sit here at my computer on our made up "romantic" holiday, missing my husband, watching all my precious friends loving one another today, I want you to think about this day as a memory rather than today. 

Think about what this day will mean 5, 10, 20 years from now to your spouse or your kids, or their kids... 

One day, you will leave this world. Aside from the Lord coming again, we will all die one day. Once that happens, all your good intentions die with you. Everything you wish you'd said or done are worthless. You have but one sacred life to live on this earth. Your legacy matters. 
And you WILL leave one. 

When you are gone, will your wife be able to feel your words surround her on Valentine's Day? Will she be able to recite your words of love and affirmation from memory? I can. I can hear my husband's words as if he were standing here right now because of all the countless times he spoke them. Will your sons and daughters know from your example what it means to selflessly love another? Will they know how to love their spouses well, after you are no longer here to show them? 

I am so proud of the man I married who not only loved me well, but who taught our 5 boys to love me well too! It is due to his incredible example that I received flowers for Christmas and my Anniversary in his absence. They knew that their Dad would want that. They knew that he would want them to show his love to me since he can no longer do it himself. 

I am confident that one day, when the Lord brings each of them a godly woman to love and serve as husband, that they will know how to love them well too.

I urge you, regardless of what your feelings about this holiday are, to consider embracing each and every excuse to love well. Yes, even if that means celebrating Valentine's Day! Serve one another. Hug your spouse now. Tell them that you are thankful to have them, even if you aren't feeling it at the moment. Life is so short and we are all so guilty of taking one another for granted. 

Men, you have incredible influence in your homes. Use that influence to leave a legacy of love. It can change generations. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Birthdays 2015

So I contemplated a Facebook post, but truly, to share how the Lord showed up for me this year on my birthday was just too much for a single Facebook post, so here I am back on my blog to document this story for posterity. 

As most of my readers know, my beloved husband, Tom, met the Lord this past summer on July 8, 2015, after a short and aggressive battle with Cancer. 

There are no adequate words to describe the hole that has been left in our lives, so I'm not even going to try that right now. 
He was truly the backbone of our family and we miss him desperately. 

We are learning how to move forward; how to function day to day and how to embrace life's special milestones without him here. 

So far, we've celebrated Connor's 16th birthday,

 Colin's 18th birthday, 

both very special milestones, and most recently, my birthday. 

Of course, I did everything in my power to make the boys' days special and to ensure that they had fun with friends and felt loved. That was relatively easy, especially with the help of so many amazing friends. 

But, what does one do for yourself? How do you make your own day a special one? 
Honestly, you don't. 
You can't. 
When the one you love most will never again say, "Happy Birthday Sweetie", what's the point? 

I was fully prepared for this day to come and go with little to no fanfare and to make "my day" something that used to be. 

Well, apparently, this was not the Lord's plan! 

A few weeks prior to my birthday, a dear friend invited the boys and I to her home for dinner. I was somewhat relieved that I at least had some plans for the evening and would be distracted by sweet friends. 

Colin agreed to ask off from work that night so that all my kids could be with me. 

I was happy with that plan. 

But, there was much more going on in the background than I knew. 

First, "dinner" with friends, turned into a wonderful surprise party! 

Not a huge, overwhelming, crazy affair, just enough wonderful friends that I felt loved and was able to spend quality time in conversation with each of them. 

OK, perhaps there was SOME silliness...
Even the boys had some great friends attend and had a ball! 

It was perfect. 

Then, there was the dessert. 
I have to tell you the story of this dessert.

Our oldest, Colin, got it into his head that he was going to create a special birthday "cake" for me. 
By himself. 

With some help from a precious neighbor, he spent two afternoons at their home working diligently on this ice cream cake. 

He spent half of his first paycheck buying all the special ingredients for this cake. 

He created, from "scratch", this frozen treat that had ice cream sandwiches, ice cream (my favorite, Mocha Almond Fudge), blueberries, raspberries, whipped cream.... 

He even learned how to pipe his own words on top! 


Clearly, the ride from house 1 to house 2, in the Charleston heat, did a little something to the overall appearance, but Mom didn't care! 

This was no ordinary ice cream cake! 
It was made with a lot of love and was, until the next day anyway, my absolute favorite present!
(I'll get to that later)

Tom would have been so incredibly proud of him for sacrificing so much time and money to do this for his mom. 

We took silly pictures, played a fun game and just laughed a lot. Tom most certainly would have approved. 

What came next though, the following day, was the biggest surprise of all.

I had received a text from Tom's daughter a few days ago letting me know that I would be receiving a small package. I honestly didn't give it much thought except that she wanted me to call her before I opened it. 
I thought perhaps she had found some photos that she wanted to share with me. I never in a million years would have guessed what was actually behind this package.

Saturday afternoon, she called and asked me to open the envelope. I saw a Stella & Dot box inside. 

Before I opened that, Krisha began to share with me a story about the first night she spent the night with Tom after he became ill. It was toward the end of June and I remember it clearly as it was the first night in almost a month that I slept in my own bed instead of the sofa or a hospital chair. She stayed with him all night and I slept through the night for the first time in weeks. 

She went on to share that Tom was restless that night and was watching TV around 2 am. She was flipping through her new Stella and Dot catalog to pass the time. 

It was then that Tom told his daughter that he was going to die in July. He knew that it wouldn't be much longer. He was trying to prepare her. He also shared his regret that he wouldn't be able to celebrate all the family milestones that were right around the corner, most notably, our birthdays. 

Krisha handed her Dad the jewelry catalog and told him that if he chose a special birthday gift for me that she would make sure that I received it. Of course, hearing this from her first hand, there were tears streaming down my face. 

It was then that she invited me to open the box. 

Inside, was a necklace with three small charms. 
The Letter 'T', which she explained stood for Tom and Tommy.

The Letter 'C' which was to remind me of Christ and our 4 "C" boys: 
Colin, Connor, Cameron and Cooper. 

Lastly, the pendent in the middle with the word "blessed" inscribed. 

This birthday gift, sent with love from my dear husband, could not have been any more perfect. And there is no way to really thank Krisha for her willingness to honor her father in doing this for him. I know that he is so proud of her and smiling down from heaven knowing that she was making all of this happen. 

He knew it would be a hard day to be alone. 

He knew that I would not be expecting anything.

And he wanted me to know that he still loves me. 

And this man, while he was good at many, many things, first and foremost knew how to love others well. 

Whether you were his wife, his child, a lifelong friend, or a passing acquaintance, you were special to him and he made sure you knew it. 

Leave it to Tom to take my breath away even after he is gone. 

Thank you both!
Krisha and her Dad

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Master Bathroom

So, when we first moved into our new home back in September of 2012, this is what our master bath looked like:

Nothing special, right? It had a nasty wallpaper border around the middle of the wall which we immediately removed, but beyond that, all the other decor emergencies on the first floor took precedence, so... that is why we are only NOW getting to our bedroom/bathroom after over 18 months in this house. 

The paint color in the master suite was putrid. Seriously, gross. I can't even tell you if it was some sort of yellow, or a nasty light shade of green. How's that for bad? 

But, we lived with it for awhile as we focused on other, more pressing rooms. Many of those posts are here if you haven't seen any of our before/afters. 

As much as I want to personally rip out that worthless garden tub and expand our shower, it isn't in the budget right now and I am not 100% sure what I want there, so the left side of the bathroom will have to remain as is for now, aside from a new coat of paint and a new towel rack. 

This remodel focused more on the right side of the room, where the vanities are located.

I spent lots of time perusing pinterest to see what caught my eye and pinned and pinned until I had a plan!


Yep, I decided to tackle a beadboard wall above my vanities. But, first, those nasty hollywood light fixtures and wall sized cheap-o mirrors had to GO!

and while we're at it, I don't much like that medicine cabinet either. 

As I scoured the internet for the perfect mirror, I found this one!

And I fell in love. 

In fact, this one purchase was soon to enhance and inform several other key decorating decisions. 

So, the first thing I attacked was the large, glass wall to wall builder grade mirror and down it went. 

Then that ugly light fixture!
and lastly, the equally ugly medicine cabinet.

Demo is really cathartic, y'all! 

We kept with the same basic color pallete we used in the master bedroom. 

these are our colors from Sherwin Williams, though we ended up going a bit lighter and more coral with the orange shades. 

We used Watery for our blue/turquoise color and Snowbound for the trim. 



In my perfect world, I'd have removed all that popcorn, and I did on one small section of "shelf" ceiling above the vanities, but I just didn't have it in me to fool with the valted ceiling popcorn removal right now. 

Colin couldn't resist getting up on that high ladder despite the fact that there wasn't a job for him just yet. (All that know him well know just how hard it is for Colin not to "help"!)

Tom cut the first section of beadboard for me and I decided to get the first coat of paint on it before getting it on the wall. 
Since it was now time for installation, Colin and Tom stepped in to help get things lined up just so. 

I put a good bit of liquid nails on the wall to help the board adhere well and then we placed some small finishing nails in strategic places to reinforce. (Is it just me, or do I kind of sound like I know what I'm talking about?)

The next job was to get rid of that horrible cabinet color. (Can you tell there really wasn't much that I DID like about this room?)
The first job was to slap a coat of primer on them. Some folks spend the extra time to sand them down first, but I didn't bother. In fact, I even let Tommy do the second cabinet because accuracy wasn't important on the primer and he really wanted to help. 

In looking at color swatches, we found one called Dustblu from Sherwin Williams that matched our new mirrors almost perfectly. 

I got new hardware at Hobby Lobby.
(They go on sale for 50% off almost every other week, 
so if you are shopping for hardware, just be patient!)
I couldn't be more pleased with these cabinets. 

The light fixture was from Lowe's. 
I even hung it myself! 
I tell ya, you can find easy tutorials for any job on pinterest. 

Also from Lowe's, this cool rug!
Ok, true story...
See how the pattern of the rug matches the shape of my mirror? 
Well, as much as I'd like to say that was on purpose, it wasn't until someone saw one of my pics on facebook and mentioned that did I even notice! Happy coincidence. 

The old towel rack had to go too. One, because it was flimsy and cheap and also because it was too narrow to properly hang two side by side towels. 

I found this really nice one at Marshalls Home Goods, along with those great coral towels.
(This was my one serious, I really never pay that much for stuff, kind of splurge.) 

I had to wait a few weeks for all this to move from step to step since Tom and I are both working during the week and the weekends were our most productive times, but it has been worth the wait.

Now, we are on to the left side...

once the beadboard was all installed and the trim put up, it was time to caulk. 
This was something else to add to the list of things that I've never done! 
I saw a post on pinterest that had some great tips on taping before you caulk and while it is tedious, it was so worth the effort. 

It should be noted that I seriously hate to tape. I don't tape anymore when I paint. Frankly, I have a very steady hand and I don't normally need to. I get better lines free handing things than I do when I waste all that time and money taping. But, that being said, when it comes to caulk lines, it was very worthwhile. 

See how clean this looks? 

Next job?
Replacing that icky medicine cabinet with a nicer, open, in wall box.
I decided to extend the beadboard in white as the back of the box. 

Then, Tom found some scrap board in the garage and cut my border sides. 
They weren't primed, so I slathered a quick coat if primer, and then two coats of white trim paint. 

I also painted two coats of trim paint on the box trim. Even though it was already primed, it always looks better with two full coats of paint. 

It's already starting to look better and I haven't even added the trim.

After getting Tom's help to measure and cut the trim, I painted each piece and used my hairdryer to speed up the process. (Come on, don't act like you're surprised that I was rushing things. I certainly have to wait on the Lord sometimes, but I don't have to wait for paint to dry, so I'm NOT GOING TO!) 
After the second coat, I put the trim up.

As you can tell, the trim isn't completely flush since the wall wasn't perfectly square, so...
enter the magic of caulk!

I definitely wanted a clean line around this, so I taped. 


Not bad, eh?

I certainly prefer it to this:

I love that we did this job ourselves and I love how it turned out. If I had known just how good I would feel updating this personal space, I'd have done it long ago! 

So below is the toilet room and while it has been freshly painted and we got a new floor rug, it is still bare walled and needs some love. 

I'm hoping to find some nice wicker baskets (think window boxes of sorts) to hang on the wall above the toilet as a nice storage area.

Here is the finished look from the doorway.
What do you think?

The final touch came tonight as I was putting Tommy and Cooper down for bed. 
I was looking at this painting that Tommy did of a flower and vase (like when he was 6!) and realized that it would be the PERFECT touch above the tub!
So, yes, I promptly stole it right off his bedroom wall and hung it! #dontjudge!

You have to admit, it's perfect!