Ode to Texas

For the last several years, by this time in August we had already made it back down to Texas and had been in the thick of marching band camp.

For the first time in 4 years we’re not making a second 1900 mile drive to return south.
Whether some believe it or not I have very mixed feelings about it. I’ve had mixed feelings since before we left but it’s definitely seemed clear that God was calling us back to Montana.
It came unexpectedly, and just as we were feeling settled. I had started to feel like Texas was home. I got attached. Texas people became my people. Houston became my city. C.E. King students were our kids, a love for them we didn’t know was possible with kiddos that weren’t our own. Our church was a family and thankfully, our friends. We loved our next door neighbors and loved house and cat sitting for them.
We built new family traditions, and shared in our good friend’s family traditions- adopted into their families. We were honored to be present for engagements, marriages, births, having two kids of our own, and we even started to look for a house to buy. We had favorite grocery stores (and finally got a Costco and a Buffalo Wild Wings near us!), nurses/doctors/pediatricians, movie theaters, ice cream/shaved ice shops, and date night destinations. Driving 25 minutes to get somewhere was nothing, and driving an hour and a half and STILL being in Houston was normal.
The job in Montana coming available rocked our world- because of all we would have to give up, it left us unsure of whether or not that was where we should be. Eric’s job was awesome and we thought we would be there for at least another couple years, if not longer. The Lord just kept turning our hearts to Montana. So we said tearful goodbyes (for now) to

our family, friends and church family. (And in no particular order… Blue Bell, Astros Games, House of Pies, IKEA, Air Conditioning, Kolaches, Shipley, Chuy’s, Date nights, Having a Home, Texas Beer, Cheap Gas, H.E.B., Chick Fil A, Whataburger… the list is literally growing the longer we’re away from it all.) I didn’t say goodbye to y’all though. i do believe that will forever be a part of my vocabulary.
Settling back in has been an adjustment. It almost still feels like we’re on summer vacation and should have gone home a few weeks ago. Nailing down a place to live has been stressful and all the bumps and kinks that come along with that have proven to be challenging, to say the least.  But we’ve finally got a place lined up that we’ll be able to move in next week.
Becoming reacquainted with “small town” life,  has also been challenging.(You can’t argue with me that Missoula isn’t small- when you’ve lived in a city of 6 million for several years-Missoula qualifies.) EVERYWHERE I go I run into someone I know. Like the Walmart greeter, Dave, who just retired a few weeks ago. And when I drive somewhere I over anticipate how long it takes to get across town here…. I’m always early now.
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It’s beauty. Praise the Lord for making Missoula such a beautiful place… it’s unmatched, in my opinion, and always putting on a show. I love that it’s not too hot to ENJOY being outside. The shade is actually shady and the breezes are {usually} cool and refreshing. And the temperature falls as the sun goes down allowing for a break from the heat of the day.
It IS wonderful to be so near my family, great friends and our community. There are a lot of things I’m looking forward to, but this is my Ode to Texas for being so gosh darned missable. (Said in that Texas drawl.)
Thinking of y’all.

That thing you avoid doing….

Friends, this one is going to be all over the place. My brain has been a jumbled mess for the last 2.5 weeks. I’ve found ways to look beyond it. But it’s all come back to this.

God is so good. Amiright? [Yes, that’s one word, because Texas. Deal with it.]

Let me start by saying I’ve seen no shortage of God’s faithfulness and grace in my life. Those of you that know me, know how true that is. He’s made himself known and I’m so thankful to be along for the ride.

That being said, back to my brain jumble:

You know those things you just DON’T want to do? And you put it off and put it off… because, fear….. because, annoyance… whatever your ‘because’, you know what I’m talking about.

Well for me, that thing is my annual ‘lady appointment’.

[Sorry guys, if you’re reading this, it might be a little TMI. Ladies, I can already hear a few “Amens” and I haven’t even posted this yet. I hear you.]

I won’t go into too many details, but the ladies know what I mean when I say I don’t like to dress down into just a drafty, formless gown, sit on a piece of crinkly paper (that NEVER stays put,) on an uncomfortable exam table, in an unreasonably cold room. FOR-EV-ER.

[Seriously… Do you read a book? make a sandwich? look at your phone? All of the above??? I can think of SO many things I could do with that time spent WAITING in the exam room….]

So you wait FOR-EV-ER… Until a doctor you may have never met before comes in and tells you to spread ’em. And then gropes (<- not the scientific word for it- no they aren’t groping in the wrong way) around ALLLLLL the uncomfortable places. Pokes, prods, swabs. Then leaves you feeling a little violated because, seriously, this is not the ‘turn-and-cough’ experience the guys get.

[PS. Guys, you think you know. You don’t. You. Don’t. Even. Know. So don’t even.]

And a little humor because I get that nervous giggle when I have nothing else to do but think about it:

Annual Appointment

Well that happened a couple weeks ago. Whew. Done for another year!

But the part I have always dreaded, them “finding something.” Well, it happened this time.

It was precautionary, but there was an obvious abnormality felt before and during the breast exam. They tell you not to worry. That it may be nothing. But when it’s you. It’s hard to think of anything but.

I’d like to say I had complete trust that the Lord was going to heal me or that it would be nothing but honestly I didn’t.

I was terrified. Because of my past I knew that no matter what I would be strong with the Lord’s help alone. I knew that he would sustain me through whatever I was going to face. But I was scared.

They ordered a chest x-ray to make sure there was nothing going on with my ribs. I was able to get into that office within a couple days and get that done. It came back clear. Nothing abnormal. But they also ordered a breast ultrasound with the possibility of a full on mammogram in case something was abnormal in the ultrasound.

That appointment, I couldn’t get in for 2 full weeks! 2 weeks of worry. On and off. God says to “cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” [1 Peter 5:7] But like I said. Easier said than done.

Five days ago I got a call from the office where the ultrasound would take place and they let me know that nothing would be covered by insurance but it would go toward my deductible. Seriously… isn’t that what insurance is for?? I’m not going to say how much it was going to cost. But I will say that it didn’t lessen my worry any. In fact, I was ready to cancel my appointment. The chest x-ray had come back clear. Maybe it was nothing. No point in ending up with a HUGE dr bill for no reason, right? [The correct response to that is, ‘wrong.’ FYI.]

A series of phone calls, some anxiety ridden tears and a heartfelt conversation with my husband later. I decided to go ahead with the appointment.

So today I went in. I only had to get half dressed down in a drafty gown, was ushered into a warm waiting room, then into a softly lit exam room by a sweet, soft-spoken, ultrasound tech. She asked a few questions. Explained to me what the procedure was and how she would check me out, then the radiologist would check me out and explain any results. I was shaking like a leaf before that. (The poor gals that had to read my handwriting on all of my paperwork at the front desk… bless their hearts… it was apparently legible enough that they didn’t have any questions.) This tech put me at ease. She took screen shots of places as she was scanning. In my mind, all I could think was, “Dear Lord, give me peace. Whatever the outcome, give me peace only you can give. Give me grace to show these women that are holding the answers to my future.”

Then the radiologist came in to talk to me about the results and do another quick ultrasound scan. She introduced herself and told me what she was going to do, but before that she said, “Everything looks completely normal, I’m just going to take one more look.” BLESS HER! I could breathe again. I even made a joke about how warm their silly gel was when I thought it would be cold.

And just like that, I was fine. I was normal. There was nothing wrong. I don’t have cancer. [That ‘c’ word is a horrible scary word and I wasn’t even ready to say it until I heard that wasn’t it!]

I thanked the Lord right there in that exam room as I got dressed. He knew. He knew I would be okay. even if something had been abnormal before, he chose for it to be normal.

I don’t know why He did that. And this may not be the first time I deal with this situation.

What I do know is this: I know that there are some beautiful, strong, women out there that do not get this news after worrying for so long. And ladies, my heart is weeping for you. It’s breaking into a thousand pieces that there are more of you going through this very thing, even more invasive than this. Those who don’t know yet and are still worried. Those who know and don’t even know what’s about to come. Those who are in the thick of treatment. Those who have had treatment and are waiting a clean bill of health. Those who are facing it again after receiving that clean bill of health and now it’s revisiting. My heart is hurting for each and every one of you. You are and will be in my prayers, daily. Because I don’t know what else to do but to pray faithfully that He gives you the best testimony to His greatness that He can give so we can all shout His praises regardless and in spite of our circumstances.

Don’t let the fear of what you don’t know consume you… Its so easy to do.

Don’t let your fear be a reason you wait to get checked out. Don’t wait too long.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Clutter Free in 2015: Week One Recap

Have I told you how much clutter drives me INSANE? It causes anxiety to the point where I shut down.  This week, I almost did that. (If you need a refresher on what I’m talking about please read here first.)

And to think, I am the cause of my own insanity… go figure.

Week one of Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free book launch group has been challenging and convicting… full of failures and successes!!!

I’m going to warn you ahead of time…. there will be messes. There will be junk. And there will be bras. (Not going to lie, and every woman out there can admit that at one point or another she’s taken her bra off in a space that was NOT her room, her closet, or the bathroom.)


Day One

Can I just say I wasn’t exactly excited when I got an email that told me to “Pick the room or area that is causing you to lose your peace.” Doesn’t she know that’s a HARD thing…..??? Aren’t we supposed to EASE into this?? 

No. The answer to that is a resounding No, in case you were wondering.

We are jumping in with both feet. (I am in third person now since I’m having to battle myself, so bear with me.)

There are two rooms that were causing us to lose our peace. (WERE!!!!)

The Kitchen and my “Office Area” (which consequently is the other half of our oddly large bedroom.)

I thought about it. Sat down. Said, “REALLY??” one more time. Almost blacked out… (okay, not really). Almost said, “Screw it!” Then told myself again how much our family needed this peace. End freak out.

Frankly, I just couldn’t stand to stare at the piles of things that had migrated to my office space so I chose that space and started early.

And by early I mean 10am after a recap of chapters we needed to read and a strong cup of coffee.

Husband was wonderful and took Olivia to get donuts at Shipley’s (heaven on earth for donut lovers, btdubbs) and then on to the Museum of Natural Science to see the dinosaurs; her favorite.

This translates to several HOURS of ALONE TIME for a STAY AT HOME MOMMA. I can’t even… You don’t even know.

I cranked my Pandora Hillsong United station, I got my three boxes and two bags, and got to work on THIS:

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Let’s play ‘who can spot the bra first’! I told you there would be bras.

Anyway. I seriously worked ALL day.

I struggled. I got side tracked 8 10 million times. I got sick of Christian radio because it was playing the SLOWEST early 90’s tunes I’ve not heard in years (for a reason)…. and switched to 90’s country instead. Don’t ask. It’s just worked better at getting me to work.

Then Eric and Olivia got home. And I had a moment of, “Crap… it’s too soon! I’m not finished! HowAmIGoingToFinish!?!?!!?!”

And then Eric started cleaning the kitchen without prompt. My other “lose your peace” room…

I’ve got a winner, friends. You can’t have him.

So I snuck off to go back upstairs and I kept going! And when I was done, THIS is what it looked like:

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I could BREATHE.

I can’t explain what it felt like! I did each shelf and the stuff surrounding it, then I tackled my desk. And I could breathe. I could sit at my desk without moving things. I didn’t have to shuffle the piles on the floor to get to anything.

I finally understood why she told us to start with the area that was causing us to lose our peace. Because being finished with it brought great peace. I WANTED to sit there.

So we went to dinner to celebrate!


Day Two

I didn’t think I could top day one. In fact I started referring to me as “we” again.

We were freaking out about needing to continue to perform at that level. Truth is, there wasn’t a need to. I had already dealt with the worst of it.

Then I read my challenge for the day. It was to get a notebook (one that I already had) and write down any future non-food/gas purchases- how the purchase made me feel, and where it was going to go. AND find a buddy to be accountable with and cheer each other on! Done and done!

But I felt the need to keep going…

So I decided to tackle one of my emails.

Yes, I have more than one. I’ve used one for junk emails/signing up for things, and keeping my old emails from my mom. The other main email is my primary account that is only for “important things.” And one for my photography business that has been semi dormant since we’ve moved to Texas.

I started small, with the primary account. I knew I had hundreds (rather than thousands) of emails in my inbox. All read, but kept because “I might need that someday.”

It took awhile but the emails I truly needed to keep found a home. I put them into their own respective folders and deleted what was unnecessary. I’ll go over that organizational process in a future post.

Can I ask you guys a question? Have you ever had an email box that wasn’t brand new that said “No Mail?”

If you haven’t, you really need to try it sometime, because THIS:

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Feels SO good.


Day Three

Once you’ve gone through and accomplised one empty email inbox, you need to do it with ALL of your emails. (If you have more than one.)

And I did. And it was good:

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I conquered all 5,000+ emails in my second email inbox plus all the emails in my photography inbox. Things from the beginning of my email. Hard emails, like ones from my mom, who is no longer alive. (You can read about that here, later.)

That being said, I ignored Day Three email from Kathi (forgive me?) with the exception of getting rid of thousands of emails (That counts toward the 2,000 things i’m getting rid of this year, right? Can I be done now?) And I didn’t go through a Kitchen drawer since that technically had already been gone through-ish because husband cleaned and reorganized the kitchen:

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Just to remind you, this is what it looked like before:

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I just love him.

I still plan to go through and get rid of things, because he didn’t do that (probably fear of death or dismemberment via wife.)

More on that later.


Day Four & Day Five

Day four was ignored, partially because of the New Year holiday and spending time with friends, and partially because it said to go through a drawer in my bedroom and believe it or not, we have no drawers other than my desk in our bedroom. So TECHNICALLY it was already done.

Day five I blatantly ignored. She wanted me to go through my purse.

This isn’t totally off subject, but I HATE having a large purse…. I used to carry a wallet sized pouch/purse if I went anywhere requiring identification or money.

Then I had a kid and it was replaced by a diaper bag.

Then my kid got older and I was so sick of carrying a diaper bag around that I HAD to get SOMETHING that didn’t look like a diaper bag but still fit my needs for this diaper-changing-drink-and-snack-carrying time of my life. So I bought a big purse.

Now it’s a black hole. Crayons. Receipts (because I MUST have that control of checking prices after I’ve purchased and/or might-possibly-at-some-point-but-most-likely-never-will return an item.) Diapers. Wipes. Deodorant. Hairspray. Face Lotion. Chapstick. Wallet. Highliter. etc… It holds a lot. Even after all the things I’ve mentioned, I can still fit my Bible, sermon notebook, and a book in there on Sunday’s for church.

So when Ms. Kathi told me she wanted me to go through my purse I pretty much just said no.

This is a developing story. I will give in. There will be photos to document. But for now, just… no.

Sorry, Kathi.


So that’s the recap. I hope it wasn’t too long for you to follow! Mostly I hope that you can see my struggles, and what I’m overcoming and realize that you can get through your own clutter!

It’s not too late to join Kathi’s 21 Day Clutter Free Challenge! If you do, let me know and I will add you to my group I’ve created on Facebook to share encouragement and cheer each other on during this journey!

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I seriously pray that you can at least take some inspiration away from this and find a way to breathe! There is life after clutter and it’s glorious!

Until next week!

Clutter

clut·ter
ˈklədər/
noun
noun: clutter
1. a collection of things lying about in an untidy mass.
“the attic is full of clutter”

The above word is the reason behind my nickname and thus the namesake of this blog. (I knew I would get around to this eventually…)

This one word describes 75% of my home. It fills up spaces that should be empty and it overwhelms most hidden spaces with disarray.

It’s my visual chaos.

While it may not seem like it to the infrequent visitor, or the Instagram viewer, my home is begging for attention. For organization. For peace.

I don’t have a problem with throwing things away.

And I do have a problem with throwing things away.

The thought, ‘but I might need this for something, sometime’ often goes through my mind when I silently ask myself what an object’s fate should be. And while that may seem absurd to the outsider, when it doesn’t actually come out of my mouth, it makes perfect sense to my messy brain.

So begins my journey with Ms. Kathi Lipp. This author and blogger has bravely accepted me along with a large handful of other social media-ites to help her launch her new book, Clutter Free. She’s taken us under her wing, as a clutter survivor, and through her book and several challenges she is helping us embark on our own clutter free journey!

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So here it goes. It all starts with admitting I have a problem and whoa boy, do I. While I’ve never considered myself a tidy person, I don’t think I’ve ever actually said, “I’m a mess” without there being some excuse behind it, like, “We’re getting ready to move,” or “we just moved in,” or “We’re going through things to purge.”

So here’s a snapshot of my mess. We’re not moving. We didn’t just move in. I wasn’t planning to purge before this challenge started. So there you have it:

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So, I’m a mess. No excuses. I’m not lazy, I just have too much stuff and most of it has no real home. So I’m downsizing. I’m making a place for what really belongs here and I’m evicting, without further notice, the things that DON’T deserve a place in our house. It’s time for everything that doesn’t give peace to our lives to leave!

That was seriously hard… In my mind I wanted to say, “Except for this, this and this…” My anxiety levels go through the roof when I think about all that needs to be done and a huge part of me and wants to say, I’m over it already. But you know what? My mind wouldn’t feel that way in a home that didn’t overwhelm it. My family would have more space to live, serve and love. And that’s why I won’t give up.

So stay tuned. I’ll be covering all the difficult things at least once a week, if not more, and sharing all the gory details right here!

If you read through this and said, “oh my gosh, that’s me!” at any point, please join me on this journey! Kathi has created a free 21-Day Clutter Free Challenge, and you can sign up right here! If you do, be sure to let me know so we can help each other through this!

What is one thing you just can’t seem to get a hold on and always seems cluttered? (It can be physical, mental, emotional etc!) Leave a comment letting me know!

Letters to My Family {Dear Husband}

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Dear Husband,

This week is almost coming to a close (praise the Lord!!) and while it may be overshadowed by how crazy busy our lives have become I wanted to stop and thank you. This week in history for us has been incredibly eventful and I wanted to look back and remember all of those wonderful times we’ve shared.

Thank you for taking me on a crazy 4200 mile road trip 6 years ago (over land of ice and snow, and land of heat and sticker burrs) with you and your brother to meet ALL of your family in Texas for the first time.

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Thank you for asking me to marry you almost a year later, on December 19th, in the presence of my momma and brother- which would become one of the final sweet memories I have of her and her insane excitement for us to get married and finally “give her grandbabies.”

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Thank you for giving me an insane amount of support as we faced our first Christmas as a married couple, and my first Christmas without my mom, three years ago. Through the tears and the hugs and the prayers (and the champagne and marathon of Prison Break we watched over New Year’s Eve/day) we defied the worldly odds of what should have torn us apart, and any mediocre marriage, not anchored in God, would have been torn apart.

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Thank you for showing me what I didn’t even know was possible; to love you even deeper than I ever dreamed could be reality. Two years ago, I witnessed you be strong for me as I panicked while going into an emergency c-section surgery. And defying that depth of love even more, I fell for you further, in those first 24 hours after being introduced to our beautiful little O. And again as you comforted me when I was falling to pieces because we were so far away from my family. That day, we would come to realize, was exactly two years from the day you’d proposed.

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Thank you for showing me a whole new side to the beauty of marriage as we rang in our daughters first birthday, a year ago. The wonder in your eyes and the fullness of your smile at what God so graciously blessed us with is beyond explanation. You showed me that there is life for me outside of my box of comfort and that we can survive whatever is thrown at us because we have the Lord on our side and it’s his road map we’re following, not our own.

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Thank you for working so hard for us. Every last ounce of energy you have, is saved for us when you get home, even if it’s late. And we still get the best of you, even after you’ve been working since late July when most teachers don’t even start until late August and get to go home before 8 or 9 at night.

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Thank you for your perseverance. For your leadership. Your prayer. Your playfulness. Your love. Most importantly, you chase after God and encourage me to do the same. You instruct and shepherd our little family and you’re constantly looking for ways to improve that which I have nothing to complain about. Thank you for being a Godly husband and father.

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As we welcome our little O into her second birthday. I can’t help but thank the Lord for all he’s blessed us with. Everything I’ve mentioned here, he worked into our lives as his plan for us to prosper in him alone. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love you, my sweet.

❤️ Wifey

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[photo copyright: S2Studio]