Life's Sweet Journey: June 2014

Thursday, June 26, 2014

TENnessee Thanks for Thursday

At the beginning of this year I started reading through One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It's a book written about her story, God's story for her and her journey of documenting 1,000 gifts. These are meant to be any type of gift God has granted to show life; a sunrise, the soft sound of a babies coo, dirty dishes in the sink that mean a meal has been enjoyed, the life stuff. Well I started out well intentioned, but life kept getting in my way. Meaning, I had totally lost the point!
Even if I may have bypassed the reading a few mornings- or months- in a row, I shouldn't have needed to forgo 'the list'. The list is something that can grow without the writing down, if I only remember to be mindful of thanks. That way I could go through the list, and when able, I could sit and record those thankful things. While in Tennessee, I brought my book and renewed my vow to myself to finish my 1,000 gifts. And so, starting with gift #117 the list below is my...
Ten Gifts from Tennessee
1.) (aka #117)- Tennessee Beauty; God created such a magnificent world for us to take in. 
2.) Sunsets
3.) Cornhole dancing; its an art people, a frivolous, glorious art! 
4.) Lake days 
5.) Bobbing; there is nothing like it and the Tennesseans have perfected it!! 
6) Catching up
7.) Quiet mountain mornings
8.) Cards with cousins 
9.) Side-stitchin' laughter
10.) Rummy rules and "cheating; because according to Babe, if he is not winning somebody must be cheating... let's just say there was a lot of "cheating" going on. 
I love Tennessee. It is the place where my soul goes to find rest. And it surely found some. I left feeling renewed and recharged. Now, to only find a way to keep feeling that way. Alas, reality beckons! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Blueberry Blues!

I have a confession!! I have the blues... the blueberry blues!!
Friends, let me tell you. I have never really been a huge blueberry fan, not since getting sick off of a blueberry muffin my freshman year of high school. That is all a thing of the past!! I am a blueberry freak and this morning finds me lusting after fresh, juicy, ripe, off-the-vine blueberries! Babe and I went by a blueberry farm that a friend and I heard about while picking at a strawberry farm. Well, it was AHHMAZING! 
Acres and acres of endless berries... and they even had honey bees!! I got as close as Babe would let me (dude kinda freaked a little). I was in blueberry heaven!! And after eating blueberries straight from the vine, and being able to be very selective as to the berries I put in my basket, this girl will never be able to buy another thing of blueberries at the store. Alas, blueberry picking season is now over. My little heart is crying! Blue tears! But in the meantime, I will simply dream on that last little bit of blueberry goodness and share with you this recipe that my mom makes every 4th of July! It was the only way I could ever eat blueberries for a while. And it is one of the most delicious things you will ever eat!! 
Apparently it was Gooding's recipe before mom had it, but for the sake of my memories we will call it...
Mama F's Blueberry Cobbler!!
 After acquiring all of the above ingredients the steps go as follows...
1.) Line the bottom of your pan with blueberries and cover with lemon juice. Mom typically uses one large 13X9 pan, but because I was baking with the kiddos I nanny for we used two 8in pans. I had to be able to take one with me!!
2.) In mixing bowl combine flour, sugar and baking powder with your one beaten egg. Use a fork (or your clean hands) to mash all of this together! I like mine pretty crumblie so that it spreads nicely but that is all up to preference. Really it just needs to be mixed so that there is no remaining flour/ sugar not mixed in. **side note- I usually like to add just a tad more flour and sugar (they just need to be equal parts) because the crust is yummmtastic!!
3.) Spread flour/sugar mixture over blueberries. It may not spread over completely as it will settle between berries. **I make more crust because I like mine pretty well covered!
4.) Pour melted butter over crust!
5.) Sprinkle cinnamon and light brown sugar over crust! **Feel free to use a dosh more of this then recipe calls for; I did!

6.) Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until you notice the top is starting to turn crisp and brown! *Bake time will be shorter for convection ovens. And of course it never hurts to open the oven up to take a whiff and a peek! Amp up the anticipation!!
 7.) Enjoy! So good we had to dig into that puppy before we even got the camera out!!
 Yummm!! Blueberry Beauty!!
 *** This is a great recipe to make with kids! The little girl I nanny for requested a baking day and this was perfect! It allowed her to be hands on with every step. I basically just supervised and snapped pictures with her sweet heart baked the afternoon (or 15 minutes at least) away! I love afternoons with her!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Wedding Weekend Peekin'

My brother got married this past weekend! It was a beautiful (early) sunrise wedding. It was simple and elegant and sweet. It was also Father's Day. A day to celebrate the fabulous fathers and father figures in our lives and to remember those who couldn't be with us. It made for a wonderful weekend. Here's just a little peek at the festivities. 
1.)  My baby brother is a married man! This is crazy to me. He was just this scrawny little kids the other day, right?!
 2.)  Oh my family! Bless them; myself included! But mostly, bless the sweet, docile girl kissing my brother. She may have some idea what she is has gotten herself into, but probably not all that is in-store. Welcome to the crazy clan Katie!!
  3.)  Oh, this picture and how we tried to get one with all smiling children! I guess this is more fitting anyways. It may be note worthy to know that we never got the smiling picture, but just one “make a crazy face” picture and we were set! It’s just how we roll.
4.)  My daddy! God love him! I couldn’t be more honored to be this man’s daughter. He inspires me, believes in me and taught me how to be loved. I am quite fond oh him! I am proud of his strength, his vulnerability and his drive. 
5.)  Beach weddings- I think they are great! Especially with children involved. The day went so smoothly. And while we are not typically an early morning family, we were all up and there and not in our pjs (I must say I was a tad worried) in time for a sunrise wedding.
I mean, really?! It doesn't get much better for a flower girl when you can attend the rehearsal wrapped up in a beach towel and get to draw on the windows with water and a mulch paintbrush during the reception! 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Letting it Change

To say I have ever welcomed change would be the furthest thing from the truth. I have often feared change above all else, often gripping far too tightly to things, even ones that I knew were not the things God wanted for me. Even when things were going terribly I would often cling to what was known simply for the fact that it was comfortable. But recently, I have felt this itching for something that needed to be moved. It was me; it has been me. And yesterday, while sitting in a staff meeting it was all too clear to me. A wonderful leader at our church spoke on the subject of change; change in the way it relates to grief and to healing. He talked of the healing process in the physical sense. That sometimes, after a bad fall or an accident that leaves one injured, there is a period of unmoving. 

You have to be still to heal. 

You have to let the world move around you and you have to allow your body the time it needs to repair itself. It is the same for emotional wounds as well. The ones that often seem, at least to me, harder to face. We don’t have to look at them. We cover the bags under our eyes with makeup or fill our bodies with caffeine to keep us going. We bury ourselves in busy so that our emotions can remain at rest. Laid docile so that they don’t drown us. But eventually, as with a physical injury, there comes a time when we have to get back in the game. There comes a time where we have to welcome change, start some physical therapy and put the body back to the work it was purposed for. That’s where I am now. I have felt it coming because I have felt the grip on my heart, the hand around my throat that means I am trying to keep feelings at bay. I knew it was coming because when my schedule opened up more during the summer, due to one job being out from break, I panicked. I had been looking forward to the freedom, the chance to just sit, be and breathe. That was until I really thought about what that extra time meant, exactly what that sitting, being and breathing would bring about. 
It would mean less tasks to occupy my time; less "have to get dones" and more time for the "you need to address this". Getting back to blogging was another pinpoint sign that I needed to let it change. I needed to let some of that pain back in to fully keep moving. I stopped blogging because it was too hard to find words, it was hard to make words make sense. The things I did write during that time (simply because the words had to come out some how) are not words that I am sure I will ever share. They are hard. They are raw and they are void of much hope.

My little brother, Patrick, got married this weekend and it was a glorious, beautiful morning of celebrating new love and new potential. But things were missing, people were missing. A father was missing his eldest son and a daughter wasn’t able to kiss her daddy on Father’s Day. Instead, she kissed a balloon and sent it up to heaven. Makaylin was confused. Her eyes saw a balloon, but her demeanor said she didn't understand the meaning of the moment. What do you do in the situation? So I took some time to explain it to her, to let her know she was sending the balloon to her daddy. She still didn't seem to understand why everyone was circled around her or why they were watching her so intently, but she kissed it and she let it go. Then she grabbed her cousins hand and they ran, as fast their little legs could carry them, so that they could dip their toes in the water. And while on one hand she is young, there is a side that stands to reason that maybe we haven’t (maybe I haven’t) done enough to continue the story for her. John Wayne’s story has been continued in the life of the recovery community and shared to help others. But have we done the job needed to help her understand his story as her father? We add him to our prayers at night but outside of that it has been hard to mention his name outside of bigger events. Hard because when she asks questions or smiles and tells us her daddy is in her heart it brings it all back, it makes things fresh. That’s where I am now, at the road between wanting to avoid having to face things I was never prepared for and knowing that it is time. 
It is time to figure out the future from here. It is time to forge a new beginning and the bright possibilities that holds, while still remembering the past and all the good and bad images it contains. It is time to let change happen. To let God change me into the person he has been molding and will continue to mold for the rest of my time here on earth. It is time to get up, time to move forward. The tears that I fought hard against as I listened to the words of a wise man during a monthly staff meeting told me so. The tug on my heart that says, “this will be hard, but it will be worth it” reminds me of it every time I want to curl up in a ball on the couch and shut it all out. The breathing may seem hard right now, but it will get lighter. It will get lighter as I give it over, as I let go of the controlled face I have worked hard to put on and as I let go of the "strings" so that my hands are open to embrace the change.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Carrying the Story

I do not know much about what it means to be on the road to recovery from substance abuse other than my own, often bitter, sad or jaded feelings on the subject. I have watched what it can do to someone, I have seen how it can push at families to the point of breaking and I have seen what it means when someone doesn't reach the end of that road on this side of Heaven. What I have come to realize though is that we are all, in some sense, on a recovery road of our own. We are all broken and we all fall and we all stumble. We all go down that road in some fashion; battered hand over battered foot, pulling ourselves up rocks that seem too immense to climb. And that is just speaking of my own everyday struggle. I have never known what it means to fight an uphill battle with the weight of substance abuse trying to pull me back down. I saw my brother take that road time and again. For many years it was mostly at the prompting of those who loved him. And in the end it was his own wish, his own drive that kept him clean for over a year. I know what that hope feels like, I know because I felt it myself. I have heard the words that a father uses when he shares his story and the pride he has in his son as he hands him his year medallion. I have watched that same father break just months after, break into a million pieces that will never fully heal on this earth, as he comes to the realization that the redemption story didn't end the way he hoped it would.  And I have watched, most often in awe and envy, at the way he chose to carry on. It did break him, the fact the story wouldn't be redeemed the way he had hoped, with his son here on Earth. But he also realized that it didn't mean the redemption ended, it didn't mean that the story was over. Sometimes the redemption story is given to the broken left behind. God entrusts those of us that know what its like and have seen what substance abuse can do, to reach out to those struggling and share the story of a life that can still go on. It goes on through the loved ones still here. It goes on through my brothers daughter and through my dad and through those who won't give up sharing his story and trying to reach people who need help.
They are just men; your common everyday dads, sons, friends, brothers and husbands. They wear no visible capes. But to me they are warriors, warriors on surf boards. Men who took a passion and are using it to share the story of a lost son, of a friend, so that hopefully another family won't have to know what it is like to continue on with just the story. So that hopefully the redemption can be seen through the beauty of a life lived out, clean and fully and free. My hope now is that this message and these videos will reach you where you need them most. 

Maybe like me you are a sister struggling to understand what it means to be the sibling of an addict. 
Maybe like my parents you are at war about the best way to help your child, to keep them and the rest of your family from going under. 
Or maybe you are the child, the spouse, the parent, the friend, the one struggling to figure out how to keep your own head above water. 
My hope is that you find a "board" or whatever it may be that drives you and that you let it take you as far away from drugs (in whatever form that may be) as it can. 
My hope is that if you need help you reach out; to those who love you, to those who want to help or even to someone who you know is simply willing to lend a listening ear.
It matters. Your life matters. The things you leave behind matter. Your story matters. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Summer in a bucket!

Summer!! Summer is here, the sun is here. Florida feels as hot as Hades and it only gets hotter from here. I have one week left of work at j.o.b #1 and while I don't have the summer off from the other, a more flexible schedule is definitely high on my list of summer perks! And with all that a little bit of free time I finally have time to check off tons of these 5 big plans! 
5 on Friday: 
Top 5 Summer Bucket List Plans! 

1.) Read- This may not sound huge to some, but in my world time to sit with a book and not feel like I have to stop after just one chapter seems like utter perfection! I keep adding to my book list but I don't ever seem to be able to check anything off.  I am currently working my way through the Beautiful Creatures series and so far I am loving it. 
2.) Get Outta' Town- I can't wait to kiss the Orlando city limit sign good-bye. I can't wait to spend hours in the car, with nothing to do but drive. I am even looking forward to one of those drives done with 3 children filled with "are we there yets?" in tow. I love road trips! Always have. And right now nothing seems better than uninterrupted road leading me onwards to my peaceful place (TN) and our kid-filled-week-of-fun that closes out each summer (Big Canoe, GA).

3.) Soak in the sunshine- Beach, lake, pool... on a boat, on a float, in a chair, not a care; vitamin D, need I say more? 
4.) Disney Days- I am looking forward to more flexibility to use our passes. While I have a feeling that the majority of those extra days will be spent at the water parks, I am just excited to have more time to go. 
5.) Projects galore- I am excited for time to check off projects I have been wanting to get done. I really want to use an old broken crib and make a outdoor swinging day bed. Other projects on the horizon: another book wreath, make a farm house table, pallet patio furniture, paint our corn hole boards all cute (Babe may argue this point), and finally get more pictures hung around the house.

Maybe not the most superb bucket list in the world, but this summer I am looking for simple; simple and rejuvenating and flexible! 

What about your summer plans? Any good books on your reading recommendation list? And while your at it how about try this one out? 

I am not usually a time period reader and I figured I would share it with someone who was. It is up for grabs for one lucky reader. 
Just enter below and it could find its way to you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Maleficent?! Magnificent!

I admit, after reviews from both critics and peers alike I was nervous about seeing Maleficent. To start I am not a huge fan of Angelina Jolie and I didn't want to see a Disney classic butchered. However, there have not been many movies I had wanted to see in theaters lately and this was one I had originally been excited about. When we decided to go I was still skeptical, but on the way I caught an instagram from a blog friend whose judgement I trusted and said she loved it... I couldn't agree more. BUT, it may not be for the reasons one may assume.
*** This is the point where I encourage you to stop reading if you don't want slight spoiler alerts***
Maleficent was more a change of story than it was a second view point and it was a story I found more believable than the original Sleeping Beauty story line.

1.) Maleficent was less good vs. evil and more about the struggle within each of us that pulls us closer to one path over the other. We were brought up to believe that Maleficent is an evil fairy, born that way and set in wicked ways. I find it harder to believe that one is simply born evil. There is usually something, some event, that hardens a heart and turns it cold. That is where Maleficent's story begins. She has been hurt, defeated and scorned by the one person she trusted more than anything.

2.) The innocence of a child is enough to warm any heart. Even when one has been scorned to the point where the world may think there is no return  I believe that there is a bit of that light that lingers, tucked deep inside the cobwebbed corners. A child comes along and dusts those corners with each smile, each small and trusting gesture. Something sparks in the heart of an adult that wants to protect that innocence; to nurture it in the hope that somehow the next generation can "get it right."

3.) True loves kiss... True loves kiss, the kind that will wake a soul, will NEVER be one from a lingering feeling of a one chance meeting; that is true lusts kiss. While I love Disney movies, that's where there have usually seemed to get it wrong. True loves kiss is the kiss that lingers on a cheek after 50 years weathered together. It is a kiss on a forehead of a fevered child being tucked in bed. It is a kiss on a temple as tears of all the mistakes made that brought about pain and hurt roll down the side of a face that would do anything to change the story, to rewrite the past and take back words said out of anger. That is the true, true loves kiss.

4.) Pride will always come before the fall and it was the ultimate downfall in this movie. It began the original struggle between the humans and the Moor people. It took the life from a man who wanted nothing more than title of king. He sought the crown and gave up everything to keep it. King Stephan didn't wish to save his daughter. Had he stopped for one second to see past his pride he would have realized that redemption and forgiveness has already saved her. He couldn't see past his own pride and that led to his ultimate destruction. When we put our pride before everything else we miss out on the ultimate story God has waiting for us.

Ultimately I thought Maleficent made for a wonderful movie experience; one that left we liking change for a minute and that usually does not happen.

What are your thoughts on Maleficent? Like it, love it, just so/so?