Spring Break Clutches and Scents

Wellllllll….It finally happened. I lost my little PT Cruiser, Muffin, to the car shop again. Something in me said that it wouldn’t be a good idea. But instead I pushed it aside, thinking I could take a quick 30 min trip down the road to the zoo with the kids.

Wait, wait, maybe I should back up.

Pelican statues at the park

I have never had both children for about 120 hours straight. I know that’s a slight exaggeration as between two days I had about 6-8 hours of sleep where the kids mama was home. But after that night, she left early in the morning and I had both children. They were on spring break. Both children. All week. And mama wasn’t due to get back until Saturday night.

The first thing in these kind of new changes is I allow myself to let it settle in my brain slowly. I knew weeks before that mama was going to be out of town, so I would be nannying both children. What didn’t hit me until the week before this was due to happen, was both children would not be able to attend school. I didn’t doubt my ability to care for them. But I did question what we would find to do. For 12 hours I wanted to keep them as occupied as possible without using electronics (TV an Ipad) too much. Thankfully for us, the whole week was beautiful. Full of sunny, blue skies and warm breezes. 70+ degree weather. Every day. But like every good story, this didn’t start on Monday, it started on the weekend before….

03-23-19
Saturday the weekend before their spring break we drove up to the Rickwood Caverns. Noah was telling us all about it and as we made our way into the registration area, my heart sunk at the sign that showed the prices for kids and adults. I paid the small entrance fee before we headed up the way towards the fossil trail. Not even ten minutes into our hike and I had some children chiming for the restroom. We backtracked but before we could make it on the trail again, the kids were asking to play at the park that was set up there. They ran around for a bit, before we headed towards the gift shop, where I had promised to get them a small gift. There were so many small gems and bottles of rocks.

An example of Snail Hopscotch

After that we headed towards home. We grabbed some lunch and played outside. We drew with chalk on the driveway. I taught the kids a game called Snail Hopscotch, which I had learned years ago. Basically you draw a spiral, leaving the middle fairly large. Then you add a line from the end of the spiral towards the middle of the spiral, but stop when you hit the next line. You continue to draw lines throughout the whole spiral until you reach the middle. The end product should look like a snails shell with squares  or rectangles through it. Inside each of these blocks, you write numbers 1-how ever high it goes. The large middle gets to be claimed as HOME. After it’s all drawn, everyone picks their own colored chalk. Then one hops on one foot through all the squares to the middle, home. After reaching home, they could rest a moment before turning around and hopping on one foot all the way back the numbered blocks until they made it out. If they were successful in going the whole way around without putting their other foot down, stepping outside the lines or on the lines, they are then rewarded by writing their name in any of the blocks. When the next person goes to hop though, they are not allowed to step on the square with another person’s initial and color in it. If you come to a square with your color in it, you can just hop in two feet, rest a second, then continue on.
As these are children, I go easy on them. Juliette had to hop on two feet (she liked to try and skip through, and would miss going from square to square) and Noah had to hop on one foot there and back whether he stepped outside the boundaries or not. They both loved it. They did great picking squares and several times we were laughing as I had to hop on one foot farther across the driveway because they had blocked a significant number of squares without me getting my initials in them. We enjoyed ourselves a lot.

 

03-25-19
Monday: the start of spring break! I took the kids to get my phone replaced and after what felt like hours of getting all the information transferred, we headed home for some lunch again and more playing. Later that afternoon I took them to the park where we climbed animal statues, ran away from carpenter bees on the play set and waded in a creek, soaking our rolled up pants. We had so much fun though. I stopped at DQ on the way home and got us ice cream to cool us all down.

03-26-19
Tuesday Lizzy (mama) took off for her job which was two hours away and would stay until Saturday. I got the kids breakfast, dressed and out the door before 9:30 and we headed to the McWayn Science Center. It was full of amazing experiments designed to teach children…well science….We spent over two hours there, discovering new things with each floor (4 of them!) we went to. The last place we went was Magic Kid City (or something like that) where everything is child sized. There’s cars where a kid can use child size drills to take off bolts and fix the wheels. There’s a animal vet area where one can check their stuffed animals. There’s a little grocery shop with pretend cash register, conveyor belt and baskets to put food. Right next to it is a little restaurant to make pretend meals, bake plastic pastries or cook up whatever ones imagination can come up with. And in the back of the this magical city was a wet play area where little yellow, plastic balls flow along water ways, through fountains, up tubes and drop into the water below. I’m not sure how we ended up there, but after they had soaked themselves in happiness, I told my two kiddos it was time to pack up and head home. They were very obedient and we grabbed lunch before getting home for  a short break.
Then Miss Heidi had an appointment at the H&R Block to finish her taxes. I grabbed a couple books and we headed down towards their office. I settled down with the kids and started reading Make Way For Ducklings, one of their favorites. Before long, the receptionist sat herself down on the floor and was listening intently with the kids. It was soon our turn, so I led the kids to the back of the room, and tried to listen to what I was signing while both kids spun around and around in their office chairs. We finally got out of there, and before long we were home and playing outside with chalk again.

03-28-19
Thursday I had nothing planned other then a possible trip to the zoo. My car had been acting louder and I called my grandpa about it. It was not good news. He said he thought the clutch was going. My RPM’s were zooming and acceleration was next to nothing. Once I got into fifth gear, I was usually fine, other then constantly having my RPM’s jump and bounce randomly. After I heard that from my grandpa, I decided that I was going to stay home and maybe get it looked at later the next week. I ended up telling my boss and we had someone test drive it that day. The man was very nice and told me he would fix it for me. He also said I should have enough time to get it to the zoo and back, but it did have to be fixed. I decided we would lay low the rest of that day and just relax at home.

03-29-19
Friday. It was just a few days ago but feels like months. I woke up with aches and pains, headache and feeling tired, plus I felt so nauseous. I was so confused about why I felt that way as I hadn’t do much physical activities on Thursday. I finally crawled out of bed and got the kids some breakfast. I took some medication as my headache was not going away and I was so cold. I asked the kids if they wanted to go to the zoo, but we decided to wait until after lunch. We played outside in the morning and sat enjoying the sunshine on our faces. After lunch, I got the kids in the car and we started down the road. Noah was hesitant as I was beginning to voice my concerns for my car being able to make it to the zoo and back. But we plowed on down the highway and finally made it to the exit for 31, with another 10ish minutes left. As I glided down the runway, I tried to put my car into first and it wouldn’t go. I panicked and turned right instead of left. I found myself in a gas station and by that point I realized if I jammed my stick into gear, it would go. I told the kids we would go to the zoo another day, at that point, I just wanted to get home. I was able to get back to the on ramp and we headed home. Thankfully we made it home safe.
I took my car to the shop, was blessed with a rental and the kids grandfather took them home for the weekend. As soon as I waved goodbye and stepped inside, I was shivering like I lived in a igloo. After calling my mom to see if I should just wait out whatever ailed me or take medication, I took the medicine. I curled up and prayed for God to take whatever was wrong with me away. And eventually, after a late supper, I curled up in bed and fell into a deep sleep.

03-30-19
Saturday!!!! My best friend was arriving this day. I knew she and her cousin were going to spend the night, so I had frantically started washing sheets and cleaning the house the night before. The next morning I woke up tired and hazy and achy, but after awhile, I got up and got some more laundry done. But it was too much. I collapsed on the sofa again in fits of shivers and confusion. I never got sick. Why was I feeling so poorly? I curled up and snoozed for a good two hours. I didn’t feel much better or worse, but I got up and found some energy to actually shower and get dressed. I put the clean sheets back on the bed, made the beds and did the rest of the dishes. And  fell back onto the sofa in exhaustion. Gritting my

My bestie, Crystal!

teeth, I took another two pills and frowned. I never felt this bad. Finally in mid afternoon, my best friend, Crystal and her cousin Brian arrived. The medicine had finally kicked in by that point, so I was over the moon excited to see them. We hugged, giggled and grabbed some new clothes before heading out towards the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham for Brian to take some pictures and videos of us. He does an amazing job. I wish I had a link towards some of his work, but if you want to see some of it, let me know and I’ll direct you with some social media area’s that he’s got stuff posted. While at the gardens, we walked the flower blooming trails and sniffed tropical scented greenhouse grown rarities. We skipped past stone walls, giggled while dancing through pillars and gazed into a camera lens while tangled on white washed, park bench seats. After nearly three hours of silliness and memory making, we headed for dinner at Hamburger Heaven and then went home to drop to sleep.

03-31-19
Sunday wasn’t too eventful. My friends had to leave early, I went to church and survived the day without medication. Barely. I hadn’t slept well the night before as I kept coughing. And when I thought I would get a quick nap, it never happened. The whole day went differently then planned. Other then being tired though, I felt so much better.

04-01-19
Monday I woke up feeling refreshed and energized. I got the kids to school, came home and worked out, caught up with friends, prayed for my car, ran to the store for some essentials (like cat food for our very pregnant cat) and felt great. I got the kids from school, we played and all of the sudden, my car pulled into the drive! WHAT! I was so confused. I thought it wouldn’t be completely fixed until the end of the week. I ran out and learned it was fixed and running great and nothing else looked like it needed to be completely fixed. What a blessing! The kids and I enjoyed the rest our evening together, had dinner, did homework, played some more and they fell into bed. I sat on my bed and told my friend about a strange pressure in the right side of my face. It went from my top jaw up towards my nose and back towards my ear, making everything tingle. And my whole area next to my nose felt so pressured. She suggested it might be sinus pressure. I ended up taking medication and finally fell into bed. But not asleep as little Juliette decided to wake up and ask me to put her back to bed. I did so quickly and she was soon in snooze land again.

04-02-19
Tuesday I woke up and felt off again. I was sore for doing sumo squats and other workout squats the day before, but it was also that achy feeling all over my body. I got Noah off to school and Juliette and I waved her mother off to work. As soon as she left, I got the chills again and began to shiver. I grabbed my medicine, hating to use it, but not knowing what else to do. I ended up resting on my bed most of the morning and afternoon. I did catch up on some journaling before trying to sleep for a little. Sleep never came so I pulled my favorite blanket on my lap and sat with Juju for a game of Peppa Pig. We played, got her brother from school and then I told them I wanted to sit in the sunshine as it was nice out. Noah suggested Go Fish on the porch, so we grabbed the cards and played. Very often we both get 13 matches, but today our first game he wiped the floor with me as he got 19 and me 7. Two games later and I still had yet to beat him. The kids aunt came to visit and we wrapped the day up with books and the kids passed out quickly.

And that, in a very large nutshell, has been my busy life. After a stressful month, hectic busy week, and longer then usual weekend, I got the blessing of my car back fixed very well and running like a well oiled machine. I’m still fighting through these allergies. Pollen is crazy down here. It coats everything like I’ve never seen. I swept the porch a couple days ago and there were piles lined around the chairs where the wind had blown it. NY, you are blessed at spring time. It’s so bad here. But through it, God has given me strength when I’ve needed it. He’s given me patience to make it through Spring Break and am now blessed with another week to drop both kids off at school and I can take time to help myself mend. And I know in time it will pass. Like winter, spring does not last forever, thankfully.
There are some other things I forgot to highlight, so let me address them while I’m thinking about it. I’m starting a garden in the backyard (well, we are attempting a garden) April 5 is the last frost date. I’m hoping to take the kids to the store and we’ll get some food seeds and plant them by the end of the week. We did get some flower seeds, which will hopefully start popping up in another few days. After planting them, Juliette asked if we could go check and see if they had bloomed yet. I told her it was going to be a couple months before we saw the blooms.

Spring break week is gone, my clutch is fixed and my sinuses will be cleared at some point. God is good!

><>Heidi<><

 

 

 

 

6 Months!!!

Wow, where has the time gone by?!?!? I can’t believe it’s already been six months since I’ve moved to Alabama. I also can’t believe everything I’ve felt, experienced, been blessed with, have learned and am going through in these past six months. God has been so faithful and good and kind as I’ve been trusting him and walking through this awesome life he’s blessed me with.
There’s not much new to share with what’s been going on, but I am just so grateful to be here. It’s crazy how clearly I know, deep in my soul that God wants me here. It’s not easy, and there’s so much I could share on the hardships, but everything I’ve gone through and am going through is worth it. I’m learning so much. I’ve been blessed and put through trials. I’ve wanted to clunk a few heads together and wanted to pour love upon love onto these kids and their family. I always wondered how stay at home moms did it, having their kids 24/7 without a nanny or babysitter. Because I haven’t had my own children, I’ve never had that long term. But I’ve tasted it. You stay-at-home moms, you all are incredible and I admire you. You’re brave and awesome. Don’t ever forget it. I don’t know everything you go through, but I’m learning in little ways what it’s like and am finding that the dreams I had (to have 50+ of my own children) is a little more then crazy as reality kicks in. (Not that I still don’t want 50+ kids…heehee)
BUT! I just wanted to quickly say that walking through life with God these past crazy, six months is so worth it. He’s taken me places I’ve never imagined. When stressful situations arise he is there to hold my hand through the valley or sit and cry with me. He’s the one that tells me to go and tells me to stay. He makes my life full of purpose and destiny. He leads and guides. He dreams big dreams over me and writes a story, better then any book by a human author. He’s the one who makes it all worth it. I am nothing without him. And I’m so grateful to be his Daughter.
Life is not hunky dory all the time. Any mom or woman can tell you that. But that doesn’t stop me from being loving, kind, blessed, joyful or fearful.

I’m so excited to see what God can do in the next six months!

><>Heidi<><

The Battle Is Not Mine

I once tried to write a story about a princess that fell in love with a village man, but he got drafted to go to war and she ran away from the castle to find him and proclaim her love to this man who was a near stranger. I never finished it, but I had a battle scene and I had no idea how to write that. I asked a couple of my brothers for help and they gave me a couple paragraphs but even then, it made no sense. Slashing bad guys, swinging swords, bows and arrows, riding and horses and blood and dying people. What can be more boring to write about.
But the point of all that, is that while I didn’t know the right way about how to write about battles and fighting, I can relate in real life. I don’t always fight and battle life the right way. Recently for a couple weeks I was finding myself constantly trying to tell God how I wanted things to go in life. Whether it was related to my job, friends, future desires or my car, I wanted it my way. I constantly kept trying to take the wheel and drive the car. I kept trying to put myself on the throne. I kept picking up my sword, striding towards the war, tipping my chin up and saying, “Stand back, I got this, I know how to take down the enemy.”
And instead of winning the battle I tripped over my feet and got wounded in the process. So after picking myself up from that rough ground and limping away with my shattered pride, it dawned on me that I was being ridiculous trying to fight these issues that were arising. These battles were not mine to fight.
Let me take that back slightly. I’m not to be out on the front lines leading this battle. It hit me hard that while complaining to God, telling him how life had to go, advising him on how to handle the things that were going wrong, I was losing a part of my loving self. I was being judgemental. I was being stressed out. I was getting angry. I wasn’t actually allowing him to work and move because I was in the way.
The past few weeks, our Pastor has talked about seeking the Lord, serving him and following him daily. It’s been hitting me big time and I’ve been trying to make daily life changes to be sure that I’m spending more time with God. In doing that, I’ve had to continue opening the door to letting God take over the battle. Honestly it’s a battle in itself as I still want to advise him in how to handle situations. But I was talking to my mom about it and she reminded me that before Jesus went to the cross, he was praying and basically told God, “Take this cup from me. But not my will, yours be done.” And I’ve been trying to remind myself that I can do the same. After I’ve told God that I don’t like something, I ask him that his will is done. His good and pleasing and perfect will. Because ultimately he knows best.
And that’s where I’m at. Trying to make sure I’m lying my sword down, bending my knee battling with prayer. I’m not perfect and I mess up a lot. But there’s a freedom in praying and releasing the hard stuff to God. It’s been making my faith grow because I have to trust him to work out it, even though it may not look my way or go the direction I think it will. I get to tell God how I feel. I can sob, sing, be angry or just be still and listen. He’s not going anywhere. He’s a big God and can handle my mess of emotions. And he knows my heart better then me. He forgives me constantly for the way I think I’m better then others. He helps me humble myself and serve him.
I’ve had several people recently encourage me by saying that I’m a light. God’s got a plan for my life. And my simple yes of obedience can change the world in ways I can never imagine. I’ve been clinging to God’s word and what he speaks over me. His promises to never leave me or forsake me are holding me up. He’s the rock I stand on daily and honestly He is the only reason I’ve made it this far.
I think it’s hard to explain to people how I’m doing when on the outward appearance I’m doing great. I started to work after a two week break and I love nannying again. Alabama is full of beautiful souls and I’ve been loving meeting new people, especially young women my age. I have been enjoying the weather warming up and flowers that bloom all around us. I’ve been reading non-fiction, fiction, my bible, books for Sunday small group and children’s books to the kids. I get to kick my feet up and watch movies. I spent a night this past weekend making cookies at 2 AM…(You only live once and I’d never made cookies in the middle of the night soooooo…) I’ve been cleaning, cooking, playing with cars in the sunshine, helping Juju learn to ride a bike, hunting down nature with Noah and just loving life. But internally I feel so messed up. I think I understand a little how people can be so depressed but look so happy. I don’t want to give the impression I’m depressed. I’m quite happy and loving life and thankful to be where I’m at. There is just life stress, a little discontentment, frustrations over things I can’t change, people from my other homes that I’ve been missing and other little stuff that I deal with but one would never know unless they could peak into my brain.
But like I keep reminding myself, God is in control of these things. God has a plan. God is using me in ways that I’m not always aware of. And God is gonna bless me through the trials that I persevere through. Whether I see it now or in Heaven one day, he doesn’t forget his children who are faithful and continue to love like him. The truth through? Easier said then done!
I’ve been so thankful for the all that God has been teaching me and helping me through. While I still have days that I’m biting at the bit to charge head first into the problems that arise and take charge or control, I’m learning that I need to stop and allow God to take that part. My job is pray, listen and love. Seek him and his will. I need to step back and kneel. He’s got the rest under control.

Until next time,

><>Heidi<><

The Blessings

A picture Alyssa took after the holidays when I returned home from NY. It’s a lake near her house.

The past couple weeks were so long and hard. BUT I’M FREEEEEEE!!! (Well, for a a little) Lizzy finally finished the job she was on and the next one will start next week. I just got to say, she’s a strong woman to go through the hectic schedule of this past show and come out alive. She deserves the break between films.
I’m also very excited to have some down time. I have no idea what I’m going to do with this new long freedom, but I’m looking forward to getting out and exploring, catching up on phone calls with family and friends, reading books uninterrupted, getting my taxes done (I started that today) and writing in my journal. We’ll see how much I can accomplish during this lazy time.
As to the blessings that God has been giving me, let me take a few steps back and share a few stories. Over the course of several months of attending my church, 7 Mile Ministry, just down the road from me, I got to know a girl, Anna. She leads worship, has a beautiful heart that loves the Lord and a very sweet girl. We finally exchanged numbers, and met up for a late lunch at Moe’s. What I thought would be an hour or so talk turned into close to 3 hours of us talking about life, share stories, and laughing together. We probably would have talked longer, except I had to go. That evening she told me that she has a small group she goes to and invited me to go. Girls my age? Going through a devo book? A safe place to make friends? Learning about God? I was all in.
After we parted way, I drove out to Corner High School and got to see my talented friend, Alyssa, perform in the musical, Willie Wanka. She played Violet (I can’t

Alyssa and me after her play

seem to find the paper for what her last name is) But she was a young cowgirl style girl who loved to chew gum. She put aside the gum long enough to eat the chocolate, and was rewarded with finding a golden ticket to join the tour of Willie Wanka’s candy factory. Inside she turned into a giant blueberry after eating special gum that Mr. Wanka had not yet perfected. Alyssa did a wonderful job, singing clearly and constantly smiling on the stage. I love watching musicals, but knowing people on the stage makes it all the more special.
Then on Sunday, I went to church. Every Sunday I have been so filled. And my constant prayer is that I seek the Lord, worship and learn and grow throughout the week. With being busy, making choices to do other things, or be distracted and forgetful in life, I find myself sometimes putting that quiet time with the Lord to the side. But spirit’s constant nudge is there, reminding me that I need God more then just Sundays. It’s like I have a bucket that Jesus fills on Sunday, but then come Monday, I’m a little more empty and I try to keep as much of the bucket as I can without making more effort to allow God to keep filling it throughout the week. But by Sunday I’m thirsty again and want more and more and more.
Our Pastor spoke this week about living by faith, not by sight. I’ve always viewed myself like Thomas, one of the disciples who followed Jesus. Thomas told the others, that unless he touched the scarred hands and spear pierced sides of Jesus, he wouldn’t believe that He raised from the dead. And Jesus appeared and told them “…have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)  While I do believe without seeing, I have times, a lot of times, where I doubt. But more so recently then ever before in my life, I’ve been finding myself trusting and believing God in ways that I

A random picture I took from an adventure I went on to find a cafe. I got lost, found the place, but didn’t have time to get anything so I walked around the cute cobblestone walks and admired the small stories that lined the road.

never have in the past. Not because I can see what he’s doing, but because I believe what he’s going to do before I’ve even gotten it. And I feel so blessed from it. After church, I went home, grabbed a book and had lunch at Panara bread. It was a good time to sit back, read, and think about some things in life that I’ve put on the shelf. After that, I came back for a bit, had a nap, then took off for the small group Anna had invited me to. It was not as small as I thought it would be.
The girl’s house was about 15 minutes, so it was a nice drive. Other then being dark and going through unknown back roads. I see myself enjoying the drive in the future when it lightens up more, as it seemed to be more country out that way. (I enjoy seeing the farm lands….especially when they cows)
Anyways, this “small group” ended up being 13 girls, including myself. I was laughing to myself because I hate speaking up with just 5 people in a group, so I wasn’t sure what I would get out with over double that. Not everyone knew each other, which meant I wasn’t suddenly a “new girl” to the group. We went around, told our name, whether we were in school or working or both, and what our favorite scent was. (It’s a girl thing) After that, a girl, Caroline gave each of us a random question that she came up with. I ended up being last (my least favorite place in line) And shared my name and that I was a live-in Nanny. All 13 girls exploded into questions and comments. I nodded to people that I did laundry, that I did the dishes, that I did make meals and that I actually live in the house with the family. I shared a little how I work for a single mom who works on the movie sets here in Birmingham. I went on to tell them that this next film she’s with will be having Chris Evens in it. (The man who plays Captain America). The room exploded again. I just sat there and grinned. I didn’t even get to tell them about the other two famous actors, Robert Pattinson (who played Edward Collins in the Twilight series) and Tom Holland (who acted as Peter Parker in the newest Spiderman movies) Yeah, my boss gets to meet some pretty famous people! I also didn’t get to share my favorite scent, which is nature/outdoor (freshly cut grass, fresh air especially after a rain shower, a field of cow patties, etc)
Anyways, back to the small group. After going around and introducing ourselves Rachel, the leader, explained about the book she wanted to go through. She said that in the past they had done books of the bible, but she had read though this one book and really felt the Lord leading her to go more in depth with the group. The book is called Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst. It’s about living loved when you feel less than, left out and lonely. I was able to get a copy while there and I’m really looking forward to reading it. After that, we had some time of worship then branched off into small groups and just talked about life. (Nothing serious, just that girlie stuff like best places to get nails done, where we worked, more about ourselves and all that jazz)
I left so full. And the whole ride home, I told God how thankful I was for the church I get to attend and be a part of, for the word that is taught and worship that is brought. I’m thankful for the people I’ve gotten to meet in the church, the friend’s I’ve made and now this small group that I’ve gotten to attend. Looking at my life from even just 7 months ago, I felt so lost and confused. I didn’t know where I was headed in life (well I guess I still don’t) But I had no idea where the Lord could lead me. When the doors to Alabama opened I struggled with the peace I felt and the reality of moving again.
I haven’t regretted moving for a second. As soon as I stepped off that plane and into the welcoming hugs of strangers I knew that I was in the place I needed to be. After the first night Lizzy was gone and I cried because I didn’t know what I was doing here, I began to have doubts. But after successfully getting Juliette to sleep the next night, I knew once again, that this was where God was placing me. Not just to help an amazing mama by watching her kiddos, but also because God wanted me to come into people’s lives down here. God wanted to use me to bless others, outside of my job. To be a friend. To join a church. To love those who came into my life.

Flowering bushes along our drive

I’m soooooooooo excited to see where the Lord is going to walk me these next few weeks. I prayed the whole way home from the small group that God would give me Sunday nights off. I wanted to go back so much, but with Lizzy’s job being different from the normal 8 to 5 hour, Monday to Friday schedule, I knew the only way I would be able to make it would be through lots of prayer. And guess what?!?!?! I talked to Lizzy and she said she’s working Monday-Friday, and occasional Saturdays, but she’s *suppose* to have EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY OFF!!!!! WHHHHHHHAAAAAA!!!!! This girl (ME) is sooooooooooooooooooooooo excited!!!!
God has been so good to me. While driving home the other night, I was thinking about how busy I can get, or stressful life can be. But through it, He’s constantly reminding me of all the beautiful blessings he has given me through it all. I’m so grateful. I’m so thankful. I’m so blessed.

I hope that as you go through life, no matter what you go through that is hard, stressful or causing you to feel like you’re sliding backwards, that you’ll see the blessings. No matter how small, they are there. It can be as simple as being thankful for waking up in the morning, or as big as after praying for months to have friends, being blessed with group of 13 to choose from. God’s moving and working and his blessings are always in front of you, don’t ever doubt that!

><>Heidi<><

Alabama Snow Storm

Syracuse family and friend, please sit while you read this. This is gonna shock your socks off. You’re never going to believe the awful snow conditions I had to suffer through this past week. Let me start with Sunday. While I was at church, I was talking to many people and the main subject for that day was “did you hear about the snow we’re suppose to get on Tuesday?” or “You’re getting your wish! It’s going to snow on Tuesday. We are suppose to get quite a few inches!” Everyone I talked to mentioned it at some point.
Monday I got a text message that Jefferson County had already announced the schools were closed for Tuesday because of all this snow we were going to get. Noah was excited for a snow day. I was excited to see snow. Juliette and Noah were both excited to play in the snow.
Tuesday morning I was awoken by Noah at 6:30am, his sun-shining smile lighting up my room. Tiredly, but excitedly, I asked him if it had snowed. He bounced up and joyfully opened the blinds for me. “Look miss Heidi! It did, look out here. It even snowed on the trampoline!” He was so excited and I sat up and glanced out the window.
I nearly cried. They were predicting nearly 2 inches of snow. Below is a picture I took later that morning of the backyard “snowstorm” that we got:

Now here is another picture, the same day, about 4 hours later:

Now to be fair, there was rain before we had the snow, so the roads probably were iced over. And Alabama does not have snow plows. But to close the schools due to a possible snow storm of 2 inches and only get a dusting of snow….that was a huge disappointment. HUGE. I think it was worse that by noon the snow had melted and was beautiful out (other then still being cold). In the depths of my heart, I cried all day.
And that is the story of Heidi’s first Alabama snow day. Thankfully we survived.

On random other news (since I’m writing, I may as well keep going) Life has been a busy good. Here is a recent picture of me in my most natural attire:

Warm sweaters, jeggings (jean leggings), hair up in a messy bun, a mug of tea (usually chia) in one hand, laundry basket (it happened to be empty at this moment, but thirty minutes prior it had been over flowing) and my phone playing country or Bethel tunes on Pandora. I love my comfy self.
For one week, I felt like all I did was laundry and dishes every day. Then the next week I felt like I had so much time on my hands. This week has been a blessed in between.

I have also been enjoying making more creative dinners. I occasionally make “cooking with Heidi” videos for a friend and I happened to capture a picture of me about to cut an onion:

There was no crying in the cutting of that onion. I was making soup. This was the day before our snowstorm. We have a bunch of kale, so I made a sausage, kale, onion and lentil soup after my sister-in-law suggested in. It turned out pretty good. It was the first meal Lizzy ever ate of mine. She’s an amazing cook and after having a bowl she told me it was good. I felt all kinds of happiness.

A couple posts ago I put in a picture of some flower buds that were on the bushes at the end of our driveway. In preparation for our snowstorm, I wanted to bring some of them in, as I was assuming the snow would kill off all the flowers. Here is a picture of the flowers I brought inside to brighten the house:
I’m not sure what kind of flower or bush it is. I tried a mini google search, but couldn’t find anything. They are beautiful, don’t have much of a scent, and have long thin thorns. Some bushes are about waist high and some are nearly as tall as me. I’m not sure what it could be.

And last but not least, my sweet children! Noah is doing awesome in school. Every night he has to do a reading (1 chapter or 14 pages) Recently he picked one of my childhood favorites, Cyrus The Unsinkable Sea Serpent By Bill Peet. Here is a picture of him reading the book:

He and Juliette really enjoyed the book, so we found a few others from the library to read. Before bedtime, I’ll read to the kids and often they pick the books that we laughed or giggled over while previously reading.

Speaking of bedtime, Juju has been learning the difference between real and fake. Recently she’s been more afraid of dark rooms or going places in the house by herself. I think a lot of her imagination has to do with stories she hears from me, Noah or other people. I have to be careful about what I tease her about, as later she’ll come to me and tell me she’s scared of the rats or gingerbread man or ghosts.
The other night, I was putting the kids to bed and after turning the light out, she asked me to lay down with her. I had done it a couple nights ago, but I didn’t want it to become habit. If I can get out of the room, allowing her to teach herself to fall asleep on her own, that’s my goal. I told her I had a friend I wanted to text quick, so I would sit at the end of the bed. She then asked if she could hold my hand. After she fell asleep, I was able to capture this picture before I left the room:

I know I mentioned it before, but her trust to hold my hand or gently touch me makes my heart melt. This child had me second guessing so many times that I would ever get her to love me through physical touch. And now she does and when her soft little hand holds mine, or she crawls in my lap and lays her head on my shoulder, when she shares her fears or stares at me with her beautiful big eyes while we both are giggling together, I get so thankful I am blessed to nanny this girl.
She, as well as Noah, are so creative. She constantly comes up with weird ideas and silly miss Heidi doubts them. Usually thirty minutes later, after I’ve gone along with whatever idea she has, I’m proven wrong again and again that she knew what she was talking about and whatever it was she wanted to make or build turned out really cool. I love her creativity and uniqueness she sees or thinks up.

Of course, life is never easy. But when I get to sit back and look back at the way I’ve come along, and about how far I’ve grown through the past 4 months, how much I’ve been learning, how the kids and I get along and what we’ve shared over the months, I know I’m right where I need to be. God is so faithful. For him to lead me to Alabama and allow me to help a mother by watching her two precious children is such a blessing. God is so good all the time.

This last picture is a sunset we saw a week or so ago. We were pretending our stuffed animals were visiting another country (I believe it was Tucker’s Town on the Bermuda island) and they sat on a hill (a bed) watching the sunset. While we were sitting there, waiting for the light to fade, I was suddenly aware of how beautiful the colors were and had to run outside to capture it quick. I love sunsets:

Life always holds blessings, whether it’s glancing at myself in a mirror and laughing at how cute I look wile I’m running around like a busy ant or making a meal from scratch. There’s blessings whether in the book reading snuggles or tear stained faces that snuggle in my lap. There’s blessings in nature, whether it be simple flowers or a orange sunset.

And sometimes, there’s a blessing in a Alabama Snowstorm. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

><>Heidi<><

Learning to Love Love

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” Proverbs 25:21-22 ESV

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corth. 13:4-7 ESV

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers…Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth…Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” 1 John 3:16, 18, 4:11-12 ESV

The past couple months I’ve been seeking the Lord about how to love loving those around me. Not just children who test my patience, but those people who seem to drop out of my life. Those people who I hurt. And those people who hurt me. Those last people are the hardest.
While I’ve been diving into the bible more about how God calls us to love those around us, I also have been looking at how God himself loves us. When I look at my life through his eyes, there is no reason for him to love me. I’m a sinner. I put Christ on the cross because of those sins. And yet, it was because of love that he bore my sin. He took that, and through his blood and death and resurrection, I gained a hope and life forever. I gained a Friend, Father and God who will love me for eternity.
Then I twist it and look at how I love those around me. I get upset and angry. I can be selfish and self centered. Impatience and unkindness flow through my words and actions. And if one could hear my thoughts, you’d see how off the charts they would be in regards to unlovely.
But I try not to focus on my mess ups. I’m flawed and make mistakes like my next door neighbors. But I’ve been trying to focus on how to love loving people. And it’s not easy. I’ve only been processing this idea of love just for a little while, so it’s all still new. Not just loving people. That’s kind of natural. It’s the learning to love loving. Not just because I have to. But because I want to.
Example? I hit a valley awhile ago, a hard spot that left me feeling depressed, upset and unsure. And angry. Bitter. Resentful. And that’s what spurred this thought, of loving to love. To love despite the hurt I was facing. And I was so torn. I hated to think that God would actually want me to still love through this rock and tight spot. I didn’t have answers or knew what I was suppose to do.
But while I was praying about my options, I told the Lord that I would not build a wall. If I built a wall against loving, especially those ‘enemy’s’ that hurt me, I would become a bitter, angry person and that would destroy me. I would become someone I would never want to be. But on the other hand, I told God I couldn’t handle being hurt. My heart is tender and soft. I cried because I didn’t know what way to turn.
That next Sunday I was so blessed by the church service. The Spirit has been speaking to me in so many ways through Pastor Red at the church I go to. This week though, another man, Josh, asked if he could share something God had placed on his heart, so Pastor handed a mic to him and stepped off the stage.
Josh took us to 2 Corth. 4:8-18. He refreshed our memories, that Paul had been through shipwrecks, nakedness, he was beat and stoned. Yet he never gave up on hope. And he never gave up on loving those around him. Satan applies pressure to Christians, but the Spirit inside of us says “Keep going. You’re gonna make it, keep going. Keep loving.”
Then Josh said something that made me pause. He said, “We need to love like we’ve never been hurt.” And I lost all track of what he was saying and began asking God how anyone could love like they’ve never been hurt. I didn’t understand how to do that, because I only saw these two directions of either putting up walls to stop pain from getting in, or keeping it internal and slowly losing myself.
At the end of the service, Pastor Red got up and shared an analogy. He said that things don’t always go right in life. A child might have a balloon or lollipop. And accidentally they let go of the balloon or the lollipop drops from their hands. Now to an adult, that’s not a big deal. It’s just candy. It’s just a plastic bag with air. We want to tell the kid to get over it and keep living. Most likely, three months from now, maybe even sooner, that child will not even remember that balloon they lost.
But that is exactly how some people (me) look at their problems. I suffer a loss, or have pain in life and I get upset. It makes me want to shut down, shut out and shut up. I want to cross my arms and pout or cry or whine. I had such a good thing taken or lost from me and it’s not fair. But then God is looking down and saying in that voice that sounds so much like my own, “Heidi, you are being so silly. It’s not that big of a deal and you need to stop focusing on the lost balloon. You can still live life and love despite being hurt. Moving on will be worth it. Loving to love despite XYZ will be worth it. I make it worth it. No walls, no distance or hardening. You can love loving people. And you can love them well.”
Well long story short, I’m still trying to figure this loving thing out. I sometimes feel like I made fifteen steps forward to scoot back ten. I mentally work myself up over the fallen lollipop that I begin to lay down bricks. Then I realize what I’m doing and I have to begin to tear them down again. I begin to distance myself and pull back and fear grips my heart that I’m going to be hurt. Then I realize that I’m overreacting and have to stop running backwards.
For me, loving to love makes me my joyful. It’s makes me free of the walls, bitterness and hurt. I’m not saying I’m free from suffering, but I don’t need to allow it to build up or allow myself to build around it. Loving love makes me want to dance. It makes me want to spin around, giggle and continue loving in life. And it’s not easy, but it’s a process, a daily step by step.
I don’t know if any of this made sense. But I guess as encouragement out there, if a little country girl can learn to love in a big scary world, no matter where you are, who you are or what you’ve done, you can learn it to love deeply and well. Yes, people need to put up walls or need to avoid that bad company. Boundaries are healthy and good. But don’t withhold love that God has poured over you to share with others. If you’ve got love to share, do it with open hands and willing heart. You’ll probably lose a balloon or drop the lollipop a couple times. But don’t get upset. Don’t let it stop you from loving those around you. Dance, spin and giggle. Heap those coals on the enemy’s head. Love beyond reason. Christ is love and if He is in us, we can learn the way He loves.
Love because you want to love love.

Much love,
><>Heidi<><

Chugging Along

Have you ever read that book called The Little Engine That Could? That’s how I feel my life is going sometimes. One day, I’m the train, stuck on a track not moving and unsure of how to get to the other side of the mountain. It looks too big and I’m hopeless to do anything. And then there are days I’m the little blue engine, taking the load and with a deep breath I slowly start up that mountain. It takes encouragement, it takes one pull at a time and though it may be slow, I am slowly moving forward.
Since returning to Alabama, I’ve been a busy little train. Noah had school off until the 7. That weekend before, Lizzy had some props she needed to find for the

Swinging at a park

current movie job she’s on, so I had both kids for three days. Thankfully that weekend it was beautiful weather, so we took a lot of trips outside to play at parks and jumped on the trampoline. I’m already looking forward to warmer weather, but it also gave me courage for this coming summer when I’ll most likely have both children constantly.
The past ten days have been me getting back into the rhythm and routine of life. Lizzy had to leave early in the morning and wouldn’t be back until after the kids were in bed. Back in October/November, when I worked this much, I was always feeling like bedtime was the part I dreaded the most. I hated putting the kids down because they wanted their mama to put them down, so they fought sleep, said anything to get out going to bed and on and on. Since returning, I haven’t had anything to deal with. But now I’m starting to deal with dinner complains.
I don’t cook very well. Ask my family that. I’ve had a few mistakes in the past that did not boost my confidence and I’ve been getting anxious as the clock slowly rolls around 5pm and I still have no idea what I’m going to whip up for dinner. Last week I felt like nearly every night I tried to cook something I thought the kids would like, they turned up their nose and informed me that they could not eat it. “Miss Heidi, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I don’t like brussel sprouts.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Three or four nights in a row it was like that. Sweet potatoes, some weird dumpling things, potatoes or carrots, there’s been a food that one or the other has not liked. It leaves me feeling even more like a failure to make a good meal and unsure about my future homemaking skills for that poor man who blessed with marriage to a unskilled cook. (Don’t worry man,whoever you are, I’m getting better!)
Thankfully I don’t stay in my mini fountains of sadness forever. Saturday I had to unexpectedly work. We were low on groceries and I was just feeling very down about cooking. The weather was gray, rainy, and didn’t add any cheer to my depressed feeling. Thankfully I had a car so I took the kids to Chick-Fil-A where we all ate well, ate

I don’t have a picture of me feeding the kids. So here is me in August feeding a giraffe.

happy and afterwards were able to play in the little indoor playset they have there. It was a good ending to a long day. (Side note, I was talking to some people while there and I heard this southern’ twang coming out in my voice. And what makes it worse is I didn’t know how to stop it!)
Lizzy restocked the fridge and freezer Sunday, so Monday I took a peek around, deciding what to make with all the new goodies. I noticed that we had ground beef we hadn’t used in awhile. I called my mom about making chili. After getting a list of several other ingredients, I noticed there was a bag of frozen sweet potato fries. I knew Noah liked them, plus the kids loved the fish nuggets and we had several left over. They also liked cucumbers. It was a weird combo, but I was confident they would enjoy it. More or less, I got the “I’m sorry miss Heidi, I don’t like this meal.” And it left me already dreading the next 4 or five days I would have to cook up something for dinner. (HA HA, no pun intended)
That brings me to Tuesday. I found this frozen meal of hot dogs tucked in rolls. (Similar to pigs in a blanket) and decided to be a little daring and make some roasted potatoes(?) (The baby potatoes halved, covered in a oil and spices and baked) While those were in the oven, Noah, Juliette and I took some stuffed animals and went around the world, visiting new counties. We were in Lexembourg (A small county in Europe tucked between Germany, France and Belgium) when the timer went off and I had to get dinner onto plates. As I was pulling everything out, Noah came up behind me and he suddenly squealed. Fear gripped my heart that once again I would get his speech about how much he was sorry that he didn’t like something I had prepared. Instead he pointed towards the potatoes and hot dog rolls and shouted, “I love those foods! You are the best nanny every!” And he scurried off, leaving me with the biggest smile ever. I’m awful at preparing meals, I don’t always know what to do or how to cook food to make it taste good. But in that moment, I knew I was doing something right. And the kids loved it the meal.
Wednesday we went to dinner with family, then Thursday I put all my ingredients into a slow cooker, and at the end of the day we had delicious bowls of chili with biscuits. I got a thumbs up from both kids, and even a good old southern’ compliment from Juju “It’s so good I could slap my nanny.” It made me laugh so hard when she did.

Waterfall near the grandparent’s house

I live for these little moments. Those compliments are what keep me moving along. Slowly and surely I see myself moving a little farther up that mountain. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m slowly getting closer to that goal. While I was eating with the kids the night we had Noah’s favorite meal, I was telling them about the chili I wanted to make. They both chimed in that they loved chili. And it made me all the more eager to make it, as they both claimed they’ll eat it. And they did! My cooking hasn’t always been successful, but I’m learning how to make it easier in the future as I learn to make meals.  To skip the pizza, or fast food and actually make something from scratch, like biscuits or baked potatoes or chili helps me gain confidence and go a little farther up that mountain.
Apart from meal making, a new change I’ve begun to notice is Juliette. Three

Climbing on the animal statues at the children’s park

months ago I remember writing to my friends, begging them to pray for me because I thought the little girl hated me. Her attitude could explode in a second and I had to walk on eggshells so as to keep it from being triggered. She was physically reserved and I had no way of giving comfort if she hurt herself.  While she’s learning to lower her voice when she’s angry, she’s more blunt, honest and open about how she feels then I’ve ever seen in a little girl before. She is a fighter, which to me is a rare beauty. She’s like her mama, strong, brave and independent. But unlike her mama, this little firecracker of a girl did not like me. I laugh now as I think about the way she would growl at me, or give me looks like she was planning on kicking me out onto the curb.
Anyways, this little girl has been surprising me so much more since I’ve returned to my Alabama home after the holidays. While she never told me she missed me, she did tell me she missed playing with me. Where she use to be stand offish, she now crawls onto my lap randomly while we are playing. She allows me to pat her back or brush her hair with my hand when she’s hurt herself. Recently we were watching a movie and she fell asleep on me. Not next to me, but curled up on my arm and chest, making me feel all sorts of joy. And just this past Sunday, I got my first hug from her, that was not promoted by encouragement from someone. She just ran up and gave me a hug and told me goodnight with a smile. After that, my

Trees in the front yard

little train was full steam ahead and heart was full of happiness. When I get little blessings like that, I soar as high as the clouds. I have never felt so thankful before about this job.
I always have moments of doubts and unsure moments of shaking my head wondering what I am suppose to do because I have no words to calm down unhappy children. But these little memories of compliments and hugs help me move along a little longer, a little faster and up that mountain a little more. I’m not stuck in the same place anymore, I am still moving and headed the right direction, though I don’t always feel like it.
A few fun things that we have done recently has been

In Noah’s fort with Chicky-Chick

building blanket forts. Juju and I made one recently and our cat, Tiger Lily ran into the corner. We tried to wiggle past her and she playfully tried to attack our toes or swat our hair as we went by. Juliette and I both just laughed and giggled the whole time. A couple days later, Noah built a fort. He does not like the cat and actually put blankets, pillows and random coverings all the way around so as to keep the cat completely out. It worked and we played that it was always dark in the little cave where our stuffed animals lived. They did not like the light, as it hurt their eyes.
We also have been playing with hot wheel cars on and off. We have had a couple, Rescue and Doc Sarah who

The wedding of Rescue and Sarah

worked together in a ‘hospital’ (like a car ER/macanic shop) got engaged. They got married about fifteen minutes later. It only took that long because we had to line up all the cars. And then a few days later, another couple, Tow-dow (Not sure how

The cars meeting Walt Disney at Disney World. We all helped in drawing him on a cardboard tube.

one would spell it….) and Valerie got engaged and once again we had a car wedding. The cars took a trip to Disney World in Florida and got to meet Walt Disney in person. We tried to get creative with him. We’ve had a lot of fun playing together, exploring the world and seeing what creative imaginations we can come up with as we play and have fun.
A goal I have for myself is to find new places outside of my usual 5 miles that I drive. Wanting to find an easier way to the zoo, I went down route 31 S with Juliette buckled in the back. (For family in NY, 31 is similar to route 11, how it follows 81. Here 31 follows 65 in the same way.) We found the zoo, but didn’t have much time to go in, so we toured a few cute shops. After that, she asked if we could go to the donut shop that was near the zoo. I found Yo Yo Donuts on my gps and after taking the wrong turn, I turned around in a sketchy road before we found the little shop. It was a special treat, to spend time together and get something sweet in the end. I’m hoping to find more little places in the future.
For myself, I’ve recently taken a break from social media and apps that make me stay up late at night. Or that keep me from getting out of my warm bed in the morning. For how long it will last, I have no idea, but the past two days have been hard. But a good hard at the same time. I finally finished a journal that I’d been writing in since October 2017 and I got to start a new one. I’ve got a goal to read 24 books this year. It’s hard to read when I’m constantly working, as I don’t always prioritize it like I could. But 24 will make me have to read two a month and if I go over, I can always challenge myself to 36. Right now I’m reading He Fell In Love With His Wife. It took awhile to figure out what I was reading as it’s that old English style, but 100 pages in and I’m glad I’ve stuck with it. I look forward to finding time during the day to read. I’ve also been drinking more tea. Chia is a new favorite. I’ve been working out with a new set of hand weights I got from my brother and sister-in-law. My arms or legs are sore the next day, but it leaves me feeling stronger, healthier and excited for the next time I get to use them. I’m branching out of my comfortzone and actually spoke up at Sunday School this past week. There are a constant 4-5 other people, not including the teacher, and so for me to actually say something for the first time in about four weeks, I felt everyone look at me like I suddenly appeared in the room.
I love when Lizzy is busy, because it means I’m busy. I enjoy when she’s home because I can read and relax more, not have to worry about dinner or putting the kids to bed. But I know that I’m also thankful for these long days. It’s preparing me for the future in ways I can’t imagine. I’m learning a lot, I’m growing and slowly I’m chugging that hill. When I’m busy, it keeps me from becoming bored and restless. And with goals to accomplish for this new year, I’ve got a lot that I’m looking forward to as the year goes on.

Until next time,

><>Heidi<><

Reflections

Devotions while in Florida

As the new year crept up on me, I’ve been in reflection on this past year and all the crazy adventures that happened. From leaving Virginia from nannying for a

March: Florida Sunrise

Belizian family for a year, to packing to move to Florida. In FL I had adventures at the beach while friends came to visit, and then there was trouble finding a car and job. I went on fun dates, did window shopping and finally got blessed with a challenging, but amazing job at a Preschool. Then there was returning home for my best friend’s wedding where I got to be her maid of honor. On the way to my FL home there was a scary episode of me hitting a deer, which led to praying about

June: Best friend’s wedding. First time being a maid of honor!

leaving Florida and feeling like my world and life was out of control. After only having lived four months in FL, I returned to NY and began to figure out what to do with my life. I had a ton of questions and doubts and unknowns. Stress constantly weighed on my shoulders and I found that loving life despite what was happening helped me get through the days. In August there was an awesome opprotunity to travel to Belize for two weeks to nanny. And while I was there, I was told about (what seemed to be a farfetched, near impossible,

July, after returning to NY from FL. Trying to get lost in God’s creation while figuring out what I was doing with life.

never to happen) nanny job in Alabama. Only to my surprise, realizing it was right where God wanted me and moving within a month later. October was busy with learning new routine’s, a new place to live and new life. November was full of struggles and frustration, sadness and grief as family member after family member went through heartache, pain and lost of love ones. In December, I hit a low point and after two weeks of reading books because I had nothing much more to do,  I made the choice to drive home, verses flying, and managed to accomplish a 12 hour drive to my grandparents in 12 and 1/2 hours. And before returning to my AL home, I got to visit with my Belizian family (I nannied for) while they were in the states for the holidays. And now here I am today, sitting in my Alabama home and feeling overwhelmed by all that happened this year. And it’s a grateful and thankful overwhelmed feeling.

 

This year has not gone the directions I thought it would. But looking back there’s

September: Checking Alabama out and discovering I love it here!

a beauty in that. There’s a thankfulness that I’m not in control of my life, as much as I think I want to be. This year has held a lot of doubt, uncertainty, fear, worries, stress, unknowns and hardships. But through that flowered trust, happiness, peace, clarity, grace, faithfulness, joy and love despite all that I went through.

Literally how I felt with all the driving I’ve done over the past couple months.

Through 2018, God has been opening my eyes to his promises. He is faithful. He will never leave me. He will be a friend and father when I’m alone and need comfort. He will be my strength when I don’t want to get out of bed. He will be my rock when life is spiraling out of control. He will be the one who will take my hand and help me step out of my comfortzone. He’ll be the one who will point towards the risky valley and ask if I want to dance with him through it. He is the one who redeems me, claiming me as his, even when I mess up again. The best part, he

December: Grateful and thankful for the little things, finding joy and loving life despite what 2018 brought

promises to keep his promises.

As I look at 2019, I have begun to ask myself questions regarding who I am and where I’m headed in life. I’ve questioned God in who he is and where he is taking me. I’ve wrestled and rolled but also have also started seeing small doors open to my questions. The Lord says to ask, seek and knock and those doors will open. I’m hoping that with this new year, even more doors will open and I’ll experience God’s love and guidance in stronger ways then before.

“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

Happy New Year!

><>Heidi<><

Tired Strength

It was yesterday. It started out like any other morning. Until 6:30 AM when Noah came bounding into my room. But instead of curling up with me like he normally would, he came to inform me that he had an accident in his pants. He claimed his stomach hurt, he assumed he had diarrhea and started crying because he didn’t want to die before seeing his mama (who has been out of town). I calmed him down and told him he probably was hungry and needed food in his tummy.

I got oatmeal for the kids and Juliette danced to the table and ate heartily while Noah didn’t move from the couch. I gave him some orange juice and called the kids grandparents to see whether they thought I should keep Noah from school. In all seriousness, I thought he was joking and really just wanted to skip out of school. I was informed that the kids aunt (who was over with us on Sunday) was also sick and Noah should probably stay home from school. Literally thirty seconds after hanging up the phone, Noah’s orange juice came back up.

And so our day began.

I cleaned the carpet, using 4 different cleaning solution bottles I found in the cupboard and absentmindedly tried to play with Juju while trying to figure out what to do with her. I didn’t want her to catch whatever Noah had. Thirty minutes later I managed to whisk her off to school and get Noah back home before the diarrhea kicked in again. He was a trooper through the whole thing, never once complaining. He changed into 4 different pants in about 2-3 hours. After rinsing the clothes out in the tub, I tossed the whole mess of dirty clothes, towels, a bath mat and a couch cushion into the washer.

By the time I washed my hands for the twentieth time, Noah perked up from the couch and ask “Can we play, miss Heidi?” I told him he had to rest a bit, that his body was still feeling sick. And sadly, minutes later my point was proven again. We spent most of the morning on the couch, watching movies and changing clothes. I cleaned the tub, put the dirty dishes in the dish washer to be cleaned, and called his grandma to see when I should start giving Noah food and water.

Around 11 AM, I gave him some saltine crackers with water. About thirty minutes after that he got half a banana. Still nothing came up, so I turned on a movie and after we watched, I gave him half a bagel, hoping that I wouldn’t fill his tummy up too much and have it erupt everywhere. He got to talk to his parents on the phone, I got to switch the wash to the dryer, I stripped his bed, he played games on an ipad, I put his sheets in the washer, and somehow we manged two hours without any incidents.

After 2 PM, we were in the clear. He felt much better, we got to play with cars, had a little more food, play games and we just relaxed. By that time the items I had placed in the dryer that morning were still damp. The machine was running, but the clothes were cold, not warm when I checked them. I later found out the heating unit was broken. Thankfully Lizzy has a drying rack and floor vent heaters. I brought the rack upstairs, tossed one of the bedsheets over top and left it to dry. (Dear mom and dad: While living at home I rarely used the racks in the winter to dry my clothes over the heater, I’m thankful you showed me what to do in the event there is no dryer. You are a inspiration and I look up to you both in many ways through life)

The rest of the day was much more relaxed. Aftr putting away clean dishes and clothes, I cleaned the tub again and found Noah asleep. I took the opportunity to sit for a moment and read. It was glorious. Eventually Juliette arrived home with her grandparents, we swapped stories, I played with the kids and before long it was time for bed. The kids put up their usual begging to stay up longer (especially since their mom was coming home that night) I read a small section of a bird book we got from the library and tucked them in.

I was so tired. The backs of my hands were looking red and dry from the million times I had washed my hands. The top of my head to my tailbone all ached because of the busy day we had. I was ready for bed.

As I sat with the kids in their room, waiting for them to go to sleep, I thought back through my day. It had been so hard. But it was one of those days, that despite the puke and diarrhea, despite how many loads of laundry I had to do, or how many times I had to pull out chemical bottles to clean a floor or tub or toilet, I had survived it. And I felt so good. My head hurt, I was tired, my hands felt like they were rubbing raw, I was not happy it was 9:15 pm and the kids still were not asleep. But I could see God’s hand had been with us the whole day.

I had started the day facing a giant of sickness and God brought him down before the day was over. And he protected Juliette and myself from that sickness. I was so thankful. It was gross and not something I’d like to have to go through again. But it was over. The sickness was gone and we had survived! I just sat on the kids bed, thanking God for His strength in getting through the day.

I remember when I would live at home on the farm and have to work with my dad on Saturdays. We would have to stack firewood or fix fences. We would move cows, weed gardens, stack hay bales, or other random jobs that involved a lot of physical strength. But at the end of those days, while I was so tired and ached, I felt so good. While my muscles wailed in pain, I knew I would get stronger, the work we had done had been worth it.

Yesterday felt the same way. I got to go to sleep smiling, because while my body ached, I knew what I just went through had been worth it. I learned a lot through yesterdays adventures. The more I live here in Alabama, the more I am finding the tired strength many women find in life. There’s sickness days, long hard days, dirty dishes and laundry days, no showers and feeling like a mud puddle days. There’s complaining children, hungry children, angry children and sick children days. And yet through it, somehow mothers all across the world find their way to still live life despite the tired they feel.

I am getting a small taste of that. And while in the moment I  will ask God to send me clean pants for a child because I’m nearly out and the dryer is broken, I can look forward knowing when it’s all over, I’ll be stronger. These tired days are hard. But they bring strength that is so worth it and I’m thankful for all that I have gotten to learn, feel, see and experience through them.

><>Heidi<><

Expecting The Unexpected

This month has not gone the direction I thought it would. I had so many expectations, hopes and plans and very few to none of them came through the way I thought they would. Not that this month has been a complete mess of nothing good and all bad, but in the perspective of my expectations, it was lousy. I could write a list of all the things I expected (including not having to work on my birthday, getting to visit my best friend in Florida, spending Thanksgiving with my whole family, etc…) But it turned out that none of those happened. But on the other hand, I’m learning lessons through the dashed hopes of expectations.
I have been finding that while I’m flexible, and love spontaneous adventures, I like to plan. Let me write the date down on my calendar with the time in case I forget. I love getting together. But if it’s not planned in advance, it may never happen. I like to know what my schedule will look like for a day before it comes. If I’m honest, I would like God to tell my his future plans for my life in advance. If he could tell me what he’s got in store for me in another year or two, I would be able to plan accordingly and know what to expect.
And yet, as this past month showed me, life doesn’t always look that way. Some days there’s unexpected turns and twists that leave me frustrated because my plans and hopes for the day, week or month didn’t go the way I had hoped. Not even close. And yet again, this past month has showed me that life can still be okay, despite how messed up my plans were.
This past month I  made plans to go see my best friend who has been in Florida visiting her family. I really, really, really, really (REALLY) wanted to visit her. From where I live to where she’s staying, I’m about a 8+ hour drive away. In one day I could see her. I had told her that I would probably get to come the second week of this month. Then I was on call to work. So I told her I wouldn’t make it. The week went by and I wasn’t needed to work (I did a little bit, but not as much as I had thought) So then I thought if the next week my boss would be off, I would be able to spend a week or so with her before heading north for the holidays. I told her and we talked about what we were going to do and how much fun we would have going on our walks and talking. And then much to my sadness, I found out I was needed that whole week to watch Noah. And then I thought I would leave that weekend for a quick visit before going to my brother’s for Thanksgiving. I had another unexpected plan dropped from thin air and I had to cancel that plan to attend a funeral. In four days, this month will be over and I’ll still have no gotten to see my best friend. And it really sucks and I’m really disappointed.
The point of that story is how much I put my hope in the expectations. As I’ve been thinking about how God has given me a life to plan and hope and dream, I’ve been realizing that I should not base my hopes and dreams on the  expectations of how life is going to go. Because when I do base my hopes on those expectations, I found out that I will have a nasty internal attitude. It really makes me disappointed, sad and part of me wants to get upset with God, when he hasn’t done anything. I put it on myself. I let myself put my hope in what tomorrow would bring.
I always thought that I was pretty good at putting my hope in Christ. And I guess this is showing me that it doesn’t just mean saying it. Or that because I saying it, means I’m doing it. When my hope is grounded in the blessings that Christ can give me for the future, when my hope is based on the love that he wants to show me and the things he wants to teach me and the ways he wants to lead me, my attitude in life will be radically different. I won’t just say that he’s my hope, he will be, no matter what happens in life. I can look at the situations that I come across in life (like not getting to go to Florida, or not getting to spend Thanksgiving with my whole family) and I can either look at it and get bummed, moody, sulky and bitter. Or I can look at it and see the blessings of getting to spend more time reading books, more time with other friends, more time with two adorable children and more time thanking God for the opportunity to live for him in that moment of unexpected plans.
I want so bad to plan my life. I want to know what to expect, plan accordingly and have it happen that way. It’s like being able to walk through throne bushes without getting my wool sweater getting snagged. But that’s impossible. Life is going to snag us up and we’ll have to either pull the vines out of the way, or find another path. This month has been both for me. But mostly finding another path because the vines I was trying to walk through were getting thicker and thicker.
I’m still going to plan and be excited for those plans to happen. (I hope to come home for Christmas, hope to see my best friends while home, hope to see church family, etc…) But I know it may not happen the way I expect. I’m still probably going to hope that dreams and desires for my future will happen. (Travel the world, marry a farmer, go to Africa and love on babies, raise a family of 50+ children, grow old and die a martyr for Christ) But as the past couple years have shown me, God doesn’t always work in the way we expect. I want to get better at not allowing myself to hope in the expectations. I want to allow God to throw in his own plans and expectations for my life without me getting upset or frustrated that they are different from mine. I want to allow myself grace in the future when the unexpected comes and things get spun in directions I never saw come. I want to build a future hope on Christ, that no matter what, He will see me through the plans that never get to happen. He will be the one who is praised and worshiped in the unexpected storms that come up. He’s the one who gave me hope in the past to have hope in the present and future. It’s a day at a time. It’s not coming to me over night. But I hope to get better at this.

There is much to be thankful for, much that I have been blessed with, and much to expect for the future as this holiday season comes upon us again. But most importantly we have much to hope in Christ for all that he has done for us and through us.

><>Heidi<><