she who loves the sunshine (still & always)...

It's been almost 2 years since I've posted here.  Looking back, the date was 9/4/15 - a post called 'don't miss the rainbow'.  Shortly under a month later I began a journey - a most unexpected one.  October 1, 2015 I was diagnosed with stage 3, Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  Although considered a 'good cancer' (though I shudder to see those words beside each other), it required 6 months/12 treatments of chemotherapy.  I read something recently about the nickname 'chemo'.  About it being way too cruel for a nickname - I believe I concur.  Treatment was hard, more than I could have imagined.  Having cancer was hard.  Having had cancer, it's still hard. 

Over a year out from finishing treatment, I'm healthy and thriving.  I bear the scars with earned pride and accomplishment.  Humbled to have had a 'good kind' when so many aren't afforded that, I confidently say I have a new lease on life.  A new and better perspective for sure.  A tried and true season of learning to be better rather than bitter.  Knowing this is a choice I get to continue to make each and every day - a precious privilege ♥

For needed perspective and catharsis, I wrote throughout my journey and some in this past year.  Aftermath or afterglow - in tandem I suppose.  That is somewhat chronicled, personally and deeply here - https://shewholovesthesunshine.wordpress.com/

Bubba and Lucy are still my 'babies', those 'thundering beats of my heart.'  Bubba is freshly 9 years old and Lucy is short months from being 7.  They too are healthy and thriving - delighting and challenging too.  That part of my heart that started beating outside my body 9 years ago is constantly swelled - in joy, in sorrow, in laughter, in tears, in living each day.  In getting it right and sometimes horribly wrong.  In remembering my Saviour's grace covers the multitude.  Letting that be the banner over it all. 

My latest tattoo (I'm up to 3) says 'made for joy' across the arch of my left foot.  I wanted to bear this chosen scar to remind myself that wherever life may take me, I am the daughter of a King.  Made in His image, created for joy.  Worth remembering. 

When I started B&L in 2012 my mantra/manifesto centered around the idea of 'purveying copacetic living'.  I wrote it down.  'Taking hold of life's greatest joys - to love, to laugh, to feel inspired, to be creative and to find vital time and space to 'just be'.  At the heart of it all, remembering the love of my heavenly father who's love, grace and sense of humor (yes, he has one) help me marinate in life's sweet spot.'

A lot of life has unfolded since 2012.  I believe the sweet spot is sweeter because it's harder won.  It's often fleeting and that helps remind me to 'suck the marrow' when the sun is shining.  To turn my face towards it, to feel it's glow and warmth.  It's also the stay and peace that passes for the days, the weeks, the months where the sun is nowhere to be found.  There is goodness in that space too.  It's where the growing happens.  The stretching, the pulling, the humbling.  What makes the sun brighter when it returns. 

Reminds me of something else.  When my Pappaw died in October of 2012 (what is it with me & Octobers), my Granny asked me to speak at his funeral.  This is an excerpt from what I shared -

“I like the rain...”
is what Bubba said to me this morning when I was talking about today's weather. Defiantly
defending the rain, he said, "I like rain because then we get rainbows."

I spoke of rain being like the sadness we all were feeling with our loss.  I went on to talk and reminisce of treasured memories of my Pappaw.  I closed by saying -

In the days ahead, I pray God will continue to
draw us close to feel His promises...giving us peace that after "the rain", He will faithfully send
his "rainbow."
We don't have to like the rain (like Bubba says), but we can still look forward to the rainbow...

Bubba's 4 year old wisdom and adamant stance on rainbows stuck with me...

My parents were in town this past Sunday to celebrate his 9th birthday and Father's Day - a full heart day to be sure.  We tried to go to the pool later that afternoon.  We stayed a whole 10 minutes.  The rain was upon us moments after loading back up.  A true summer storm.  There was disappointment from everyone, especially Lucy who didn't even get a chance to get wet. 

Once back home, I heard myself saying as the rain came down in sheets, 'It's coming!' of an anticipated rainbow.  I continued to look for it as the storm subsided.  I can't even recall now if I saw one.  What I can know is there was joy in the storm.  Time with family.  Laughter and moments.  Lucy standing in the rain once the thunder passed.  The joy of a child in rain, always something to behold.  Birthday candles were lit.  Wishes were made.  Father's were celebrated.  The sun set brightly later that evening.  And even though I didn't see it, I'm sure a rainbow was there.

I hung the picture that Lucy painted in September 2015 - it was a rainbow.  I see it every day, all the time.  On days where the sun shines, in seasons where the rain is unceasing.  And if only for the needed moment, as predicted, when I see it I, '...feel the nudge to choose the joy when I can...seek peace amidst the 'muck' of the day in the promise of rainbows.  The restoring, hope-giving, this moment - this trial...'it's not in vain' promise the colors hold ♥'

Lucy's Rainbow

Faithfully believing through the 'harder wins', the constant choices to be made, the precious privileges to take hold of, doing the hard things, enduring the rain (even playing in it), and the waiting patiently for the rainbow to be illuminated by the sun's return...therein lies the sweet spot, the copacetic living, the joy found in the journey, in spite or because of.  And if I actually see the rainbow, just an added bonus...

Maintaining - I still love the sunshine, but I'm learning to love the rain too ♥

living 'in' thanksgiving...

is very much the case . ! ? - ... * < > / / +

No, that's not a over-spaced expletive, it's the flow of any given day, moment, breath.  It's fleeting and changes that fast.  I've longed to 'empty the cup' for a while now but time, space, concise train of thought...everyday life seems to beget none of that.  But for the beauty, the joy, the living 'in' that life requires and seemingly demands - I would have it no other way.

With the holiday season rapidly approaching (encroaching at times), I feel a concerted pause is needed.  A simple recognition that thanksgiving, celebration of our Savior's birth into this world and the glory that longs to be found in the rigamarole of every day - yes, that is worthy of pause, praise and certainly thanksgiving.

There's a quote that greets me every day from the window in my bathroom...

Breathe...When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love  -Marcus Aurelius

There is indeed much 'precious privilege' in my every day.  Choosing to meet that with an intention of thanksgiving through what i say, what i think, how i live, where my heart lies - therein lies the divine sweet spot of the living 'in'.  It's not meant to be saved for a season, a month, a celebrated day...it's certainly meant to circumvent all of that and live within the bounds of all seasons, all days - each & every sacred moment.

living...

'in'...

thanksgivINg ♥

yes, but don't you think it's beautiful...

was the simple plea from Bubba yesterday as he proudly 'presented' his mama with these -

john's plant

In what was likely a hurried mama moment right before that, I gently said, 'but baby, it's a big weed' to which he humbled me with, 'yes, but don't you think it's beautiful?'  A 'slow the hurry pause' from me, and then, 'yes, baby (sigh) it's still beautiful.'

Pause, humility, grace, seeing things a new way - all feel like 'stopgaps' in my day.  Filling a void I often don't realize is perpetually depleting.  I read something this morning that gave me that whole range of void fillers all at once - reminding me why that weed is so beautiful.

...He handpicked your children for you. These are the children He wants us to have, and He uses them to keep us close to Him.
— Courtney Joseph, 'Women Living Well'
bubba's plant on porch

Bubba knows I love plants, he knows green is one of my favorite colors, he knows I will put almost anything that grows in water and proudly adorn a counter top or table with it.  He also knows a kind, sweet, thoughtful gesture will put needed pause in his ol' mama ♥

Like this 'masterpiece' he presented me with following a quiet time over the weekend.  He could have chose from any number of activities/play, but used his time for this...

bubba's art

He presented this with 2, hot pink rubber bracelets (from his prized collection) and the most proud smile I'd ever seen cross his face.  With likenesses only a mother's heart could love, it's one of the most beautiful things I've ever been given. 

That sentiment at the bottom is what's ringing loud this morning - my 5 year old gets it.  My children are handpicked for me and me for them.  And in spite of me sometimes, He uses them to draw me close.  He reminds me that my duty to teach and raise them is going to be superseded time and again by well-placed simple graces, humility and love I can wrap my arms around ♥

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.  1 John 4:16

slow down old world...

Slow down, slow down old world - there's no hurry...

B&L_age3age1

I could almost hear Willie crooning that familiar tune as I flipped through this book this morning.  Made on the cusp of a major life change, it was meant to be an 'anchor' of sorts.  Something I could quickly grab and be bombarded with images of what mattered most.  The intention still stands a couple of years later, although...

B&L

the pictures hit me in a whole new way this morning and that's when I started hearing Willie.  In thinking about the every day, the busyness, the relentless pace, the never-ceasing demands, the questions, the to-do's.  If I could shake a fist at it all - 'slow down old world' would be my plea. 

sae sae_B&L

These pictures of my 'babies' - smaller, slower - in many ways less so, make me ache for what felt like simpler times.  The older I get, the older they get, the more time goes by, the more I feel the weight and certainty of one of life's few unwavering truths - change.  You can't stop time and you can't keep things from changing. 

b&l_waterplay_0414

With that, I'm learning/challenging myself to slow it down any way I can in a life affording less and less room for any of that.  Living more of a 'why not' where time/space allow.  Learning to let go and stop always trying to keep it 'between the lines' (self-drawn, often unrealistic and unforgiving lines at that).  Not pausing too long in the rear view that I miss the view ahead.

waterplay 2_b&l 0414

Letting the ring of unbridled laughter and joy consume the moment and draw me in.  Trying not to fear the fleeting and ride the wave of change as best I can.  Enjoying that 'sweet spot' between where the moment just requires my presence.  Moments like, 'look mama' - and those simple joys that help temper the day's journey. 

showing their animals

Back to the reason for that book, a life-line sentiment I clung to during that unwanted (hindsight needed) life change was 'there are moments in the sun ahead'.  And the more I seek those, take the time to feel them and praise God for giving them - therein will be the measure of my days.

b&l backsteps 0414

Spring's a nice kick-in-the-pants for change resisters like me.  I can't not be amazed and inspired by the new life emerging all around.  Winter-steps get lightened, days get longer, more sun moments keep emerging. 

Slow down old world ends with a line repeating...'Cause my life ain't mine anymore.  Looking past the fear and melancholy that can evoke, trying to see the freedom and grace found in it.

This spring, this life season, it bears repeating...

s l o w . d o w n

s l o w . d o w n . o l d . w o r l d

b&l crawling

eyes that see

On the cusp of Valentine's, there's something especially beautiful about this one...

beary much.jpg

It's not just that cute face smiling through the cut out heart (though that is precious).  It's the 'loving mess' casting so much endearment on it.  It's the purple, glittery heart - which sheds copious amounts of glitter during proud, 'look mama!' moments of presentation.  It's the line of grimace, haste, unsteady hand, etc of expression for the mouth.  The caveat of it, the missing eye - that part makes me smile the most.  Many of bubba & lucy's beautiful projects go partially 'blind' along the road to proud presentation. A collection of lost eyes has begun...

eyes that see - 1.jpg

I smile looking at these faceless eyes too.  They represent hard work, loving lil' hands and mishaps.  I think all of this is a pretty good summation of parenting at times.  Hasty, unsteady, hard-working, proud, smiling, grimacing, partially 'blind' - even a 'loving mess' of purple glitter in moments!

At the doorstep of the 'love' holiday, I'm thinking humbly about the love for and from my children.  In many ways, they're mirrors of the love we give them.  Moreover though, they're beacons of the love our heavenly Father must have for us.  It comes to us in our less than moments, it's beauty amidst our mess, it's pure and joyful at it's core.  It's finding and giving grace in the midst of the mishaps.  Being humbled by the greater beauty and measures of love shining through in spite of. 

hearts.jpg

So here's wishing a happiest of Valentine's to my babies, those 'thundering beats'.  Thank you for humbling me, inspiring me, bringing so much light and joy to my days - thank you most for returning and increasing my love.  My cup truly runneth over and over...

Jesus took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me." Mark 9:36-37

a lil' DIY holiday at home...

I relish the opportunity to create - always have & likely always will ♥  time & space to pull together simple and meaningful nuances.  Those light touches that seamlessly become revered reminders of humble beauty, little joys and tender inspirations all around us in our every day...

Here are some DIY 'touches' I'm enjoying this Christmas season!

magnolia wreath magnolia leaves . grapevine wreath . fabric ribbon . Christmas picks . hot glue gun

magnolia wreath

magnolia leaves . grapevine wreath . fabric ribbon . Christmas picks . hot glue gun

J O Y wooden letters . acrylic paints . ribbon  

J O Y

wooden letters . acrylic paints . ribbon

 

Christmas 'bouquet' backyard clippings . galvanized jug . red fabric ribbon

Christmas 'bouquet'

backyard clippings . galvanized jug . red fabric ribbon

Christmas Story wordle wooden frame . acrylic paint . dotted grosgrain ribbon . printed wordle  

Christmas Story wordle

wooden frame . acrylic paint . dotted grosgrain ribbon . printed wordle
 

pine & burlap tree small Christmas tree . dotted burlap ribbon  

pine & burlap tree

small Christmas tree . dotted burlap ribbon
 

Christmas decoupage 11x14 canvas . magazine clippings . mod podge

Christmas decoupage

11x14 canvas . magazine clippings . mod podge

angel ornament popsicle sticks . glitter cardstock . twine . wooden button *self-imposed DIY - did alongside bubba and lucy at children's christmas party @ church (insert impish grin)

angel ornament

popsicle sticks . glitter cardstock . twine . wooden button

*self-imposed DIY - did alongside bubba and lucy at children's christmas party @ church (insert impish grin)

framed Christmas card cute Christmas card ♥  . 4x6 frame . dotted grosgrain ribbon

framed Christmas card

cute Christmas card ♥  . 4x6 frame . dotted grosgrain ribbon

Lucy's princess tree ♥ small Christmas tree . hot pink satin ribbon . jewel garland . green, beaded garland . sparkly balls . miniature ornaments *I'm not sure who is enjoying this one more

Lucy's princess tree ♥

small Christmas tree . hot pink satin ribbon . jewel garland . green, beaded garland . sparkly balls . miniature ornaments

*I'm not sure who is enjoying this one more

The 'waiting to become'... small ornament photo frame . magazine clippings . thoughts of nearest/dearest ♥  

The 'waiting to become'...

small ornament photo frame . magazine clippings . thoughts of nearest/dearest ♥