Saturday, December 24, 2016

And A Very Merry Christmas To You!

I used to choose a word of the year and focus on learning more, growing more, settling more on that word and what it means to me...but this year I chose to not do that and to just live life the way it was supposed to be lived.

This was a big year for me...and for my whole houseful of boys.

But this year I didn't choose a word...though if I had, I'd say it would have been 'change'.  Or maybe 'adapt'?  Or maybe  'roll my eyes at every little annoying thing that happens'?

I turned a half century.  That guy that I like so much and I celebrated our pearl anniversary.  Our nest emptied as the youngest shrub went to college and moved into the dorm.

Change seemed to be the theme around here.

And now,  as I sit at my kitchen counter while I wait for the cookies to bake, I can't help but think back on what this year was like for me.  It was a happy year....a fun year.  But quite frankly, I was a mess.

I was quick to anger.  I felt anxious at things I shouldn't have felt anxious about.  I was tired and grumpy and not the best friend or wife or mother.  I just wasn't.  I'm not even sure that others noticed...but I felt it.

But the biggest thing?

I pushed God away.

I stopped making a priority out of my spiritual life.  Everything else took precedence....everything.  I had time to work.  I had time to play.  I had time to cook and clean and watch movies and spend time with my people.  I had time for so many, many things...except Jesus.

I blamed it on sitting alone in church.  Of falling in to that 'no one notices if I'm here anyway' that is easy to have if you have a loved one in church work.  I blamed it on being too busy or too tired or too something or other.

Last night I was awake in the middle of the night and I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I kept focusing on the things that didn't happen and then, while the rain poured down from the sky and the thunder rumbled in the background and I knew...I just knew.  Jesus...He was never far.  I pushed and pushed and pushed Him back and He just stayed put.  Watching and waiting as if to say 'ok, Michele...are you done yet?'

So as I finish out this year,  as I try and end things higher rather than I focus on what a gift a faith in God is and that even when I fall short there are others who are there to hold me up - well, I've decided to once again have a word to focus on for 2017.

My word?


It kind of seems like a strange choice and that's ok.  I'm going to move this year.  Not as in a move houses sort of thing...that's not even on our radar AT ALL unless the Holy Spirit chooses to shove us out of where we're happily at.  But move as in move my body...whether it be out of bed early to spend some quiet time with God or getting myself back out on my hiking trails so that I can center myself and just chill out, or move as in move closer to Jesus.

Move closer to Jesus.

I want to pray more.  Read more.  Write scripture more.  

I want to give Him my best.  My first fruit gift of time and energy.

But first there is Christmas.  The gifts have been wrapped and under the tree for some time now.  The meals are all planned and shopped for and are waiting to be cooked.  The cookies are baking today with the help of my mother-in-law and Emily and our little house smells SO good right now...all cinnamony and chocolatey and sugary.  It rained last night and outside it is green and lush and fresh.

We're only missing one boy, who as a professional trumpet player is in high demand at this time of he'll be arriving home after playing late tonight.  He's playing for a church tomorrow morning, too...and Michael has responsibilities as well, so we'll settle in for Christmas at some point after noon.

But the true gift has already arrived.  He's here, walking among us and as much as we push back, He's not going anywhere.

Merry Christmas, my friends.  Thank you all for playing such an important role in the lives of my family...from your emails and comments to just reading along and praying for us.  It means a lot to me.


I'm ready to sit and enjoy the next few days with all my boys, my houseful of boys, all here under one roof for the next night or two.   There won't be quiet, but there will be life...and right now I'm ready for that.  I might hide out now and then in my bathroom just to grab a bit of peace from football (hello...the Broncos have to play on Christmas Day?  At dinner time???)...but hey,  all moms do better if they grab a few moments of quiet amidst the chaos.  

Can I hear an Amen?

And if you leave your computer unattended while switiching cookie sheets around, you just might find a little note from one boy, who shall remain nameless.


Alex and his two sisters Brian and Matthew would like to wish every a merry christmas. So..........merry christmas!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

And On Earth, Peace

That guy that I like so much asked me to do the devotional before his first big concert...the theme is And On Earth, Peace.   No pictures today...just words.



I was looking through my work emails yesterday, searching out a problem that needed to be dealt with.  My computer was running super slow...probably as a result of xboxes and playstations and cell phones and the dishwasher and the wind and that cotton pickin' cloud that looms overhead and stores every detail of every move I make.

I don't pretend to understand that cloud.

Yet the sun was shining.  All three of my boys are doing well in this moment in their respective areas of life.  The dog has finally stopped barking at every dog that walks by his precious tree outside and only barks at the little ones now...a vast improvement.  A big pot of meatballs and 'gravy' was simmering on the stove and the whole house smelled like heaven.

But the internet was slow and that's all I could focus on.



There wasn't peace at the beginning of his life.  He was conceived in a way that is so hard to understand.    His mother and father had to endure a lot, face a lot of questions, hold their heads high, stick together.  And then people needed to be counted and everyone was in a rush to return to where they'd come from and this girl...this young, very pregnant girl had to travel far.



And then to arrive and have no place to sleep.  To labor in the darkness of a barn to deliver a baby on prickly hay.



We delivered a baby who came too early...his due date was Christmas Day and yet it was only November.  It was snowing and he came fast and with a whole lot of excitement...and not necessarliy the good kind.  You'd never know by looking at him now but he was the kid who stumped doctors and kept the surprises coming.



There were times in our young married life where there seemed to always be choices that needed to be made.  Electricity...or food.  College tuition (for ourselves)...or cable tv.  Gas for the car...or quarters for the laundry.  We were so poor in the beginning...but rich in love or whatever that saying is which makes it sound a whole lot better than what it was because really, it was just hard.  There were times when God felt far.



Fast forward to now.  A washing machine that caused a flood this week.  A friendship that feels not as close and confusion as to how to fix it.  Parents who are struggling with their health,  a car with a check engine light that won't go off,  an election that has caused more divide that anything any of us have seen.



There wasn't peace at the end of his life either.  He was alone, hurt, burdened.  He had a purpose and there was only one way to fulfill it.  It involved nails and a cross and a crown of thorns...a parade through town where he was spit on.  His friends just watched.  His mother just watched.  His fathers, both the earthly and the heavenly,  just watched.



 In Isaiah 57,  God says 'that I live in the high and holy places, but also with the low-spirited, the spirit crushed, and what I do is put a new spirit in them.''s a promise to us.  A promise that we are not alone.  A promise of an eternal life so pure and simple and free from dollars and cents and from pain and from check engine lights.  A place where the internet is never, ever slow.

But first, we need to live here.  On earth.  We need to search for the peace, for the common ground and for me,  that peace comes when I sit in a pew and listen to a choir sing.  You all know what it's like to work hard to put this whole concert together but for us in the audience, it just feels easy.  The music quiets us and for a few short hours, there is nothing but peace.  To close my eyes and truly hear the words that remind me of what is to come empower me to go out and spread joy, share love, stop complaining about the 'no's' and to focus on the good.  When I watch and listen to a group of people...all of different backgrounds and church denominations and skin colors and political beliefs - that's when it becomes real to me.  To listen to all your voices...all your different voices from all different walks of life become one in glorious song?

On earth, that's peace.

(Ok...just one photo.  Our fig tree, which only blooms in the summer, is blooming right December.)


Sunday, November 27, 2016


I'm worn out.

Thanksgiving has come and gone and with it, all my oompf has gone with it.   Between the cooking, and the cooking, and the cooking some more, and the house being full 24/7 with boys and their friends, and having to spend time worrying about the easy child who decided to not be so easy, and the broken washing machine and the two (not one...but TWO) broken down cars, and the lack of exercising and taking care of myself...well, I'm just plum tired.

But at the same time, I'm go figure.

Women are allowed to be complicated.


So much is going through my head and it's not even worth trying to spell it all out here...and really, I just think I'm tired and feeling a bit like God is preparing me for something.  I'm not sure that even makes sense, but I'm feeling unsettled and I'm not sure why.

My normal course of action is to lace up my shoes and hike my trail and talk it out with my heavenly father, but today He sent rain...much needed rain for the ground but not for my mental state.  And so I did what most everyone else in America is doing this weekend....weeped my way through the four new Gilmore Girls movies.

A hike would have probably been better but it felt good to be lazy today too.

Our Thanksgiving was really nice and thanks to the fact that almost the whole meal can be made in advance,  the weather was close to 80 which meant we could eat in the garden and that every person who walked through our door could be put in the 'easy' was just a super fun day.  

The cousins spent hours playing corn hole and football, we ate around 3:30pm, hung out for a few hours outside because it was so beautiful and then the annual family viewing of the movie Elf...and half way through the movie everyone tackled, and demolished, the leftovers.

No one went hungry.


The night before Thanksgiving we celebrated Kenan's birthday...he and Alex have been best friends since kindergarten.  They're all grown up now and have the best group of friends....I'm not sure if they have more fun or if the parents do.  




Thanksgiving night and early into the morning, grown up cousins sat around the table playing board games.  Big kids are just fun...super fun.  

Fun, yes...but not always easy.  Lots of lecturing and frustration go along with the fun parts and I finally retreated one afternoon to my bed to watch the hallmark channel for a bit with my sweet, never talks back, kitty.

Sometimes moms just need to hide.  


That guy that I like so much spent hours on the roof hanging Christmas lights but inside we are still firmly planted in Fall.  I guess I'll get to decorating the inside this week at some point but in all honesty,  I was just too tired to even think about it today.

It'll get done at some point.

In happy news, our boy in the middle is working as an electrical apprentice and saved us a ton of money by diagnosing our electrical issue...and then fixing it.  I now need one son to become a plumber and another to become a mechanic and we'll be all set.

The Bronco's are playing tonight, supper will be pasta amatriciana, and I'm thinking it'll be a quiet night.  Brian is settled back in his dorm room and Matthew's been down for the weekend but is heading home soon.  I do like having them all home, sleeping under our little roof on our little street...they're a loud crew but I like them all a whole lot.  But tomorrow is back to school and work for all of us and I guess I'm ready for the routine to start again too.  And I"m praying for a small window of time to hike...I'm really needing that time.

Oh...and I did the majority of my christmas shopping online and it feels super good to be ahead of the game.   Poor,  but done!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanksgiving Week

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven...

This season...this new for me season, is keeping me busy.  This season where my housefulofboys is no longer a house full of boys.  This season where my work life has taken a step forward and yet it has me questioning.  This season where I am feeling both lead and held back, where I've been feeling both joy and sadness.

I guess I'm just turning and turning and turning.  Just like a washing machine should...yet mine is not.  Again.

The annual christmas fruitcake has been made...candied fruits and dried fruits and toasted nuts, all baked together in the most delicious simple batter and then gently wrapped in rum soaked cheesecloth and stored in the back of the fridge for the next month.  

It's hard to not sneak a taste but it's so worth the wait.


Our little house on our little street got a fresh coat of paint.  

Happy, happy paint.

The one thing I wasn't prepared for...well, I guess a better way to say it is that I had never really thought about it much in the busyness of raising boys, was how much I would like them as grown ups.  These boys are just so fun to be with.  Each of their personalities is so different from each other yet so much alike and I just love hanging out with them, talking about what's up, watching them  work hard and become adults.

It's super fun and I'm glad I didn't rush the ealry messy stages thinking about them becoming adults...but I'm just enjoying them all so much.

Mainly because they are all quirky.


Middle borns are never, ever dull.

Thank goodness.


This little house has become a weekend refuge for many.  It's pretty normal now to have the garden full on a Friday night not just with our guests, but our boys friends too.   They like to 'pre-game' with us and then head out to whatever awaits 20-something year olds on weekends...and then they all make it back to sleep.  

It's just....well, fun.  

Quiet is overrated.

That guy that I like so much and I went out to dinner to Houston's the other night...he's been working crazy hours and we just needed a night out where someone else did the dishes.

And sometimes you just need their hot fudge's probably one of the best things you'll ever eat.  I have no idea why it's so good but it is...just trust me.


The weather in SoCal has changed and suddenly there are times of day when I just can't seem to get warm.  I do like the shorter days...they remind me to unplug a bit.  To cook meals and spend a little longer at the table with a glass (or two) of wine.

I'm missing the's still there but is beginning to enter it's 'sleepy' phase.  It'll be back in all it's glory soon...and I'm already looking forward to spring because of it.


Thanksgiving is this week and I'm ready.  The shopping is done, the cooking will begin tomorrow and on Thursday we'll fill the garden with a bunch of hungry people.  All the boys will be here and I'm's been a few years since we could swing that.


I have been getting my fill of Hllmark Christmas movies and am thinking of starting the christmas cookie baking this next week.  I've got another cross country work trip coming up and so I've got to plan things out a bit more than usual.

Plus Brian is home from college this week...he's busy spending time with his friends who are home too, but we're squeezing in some lunches out together too.  It's fun to spoil him a bit but I've got to admit, his schedule is doing me in...he heads out late and comes in early and it's so hard ot not worry.

Growing pains.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Last Few Weeks

I've been travelling....yet another whirlwind east coast trip.  They're exhausting and challenging and i'm glad to be back home...for a few weeks at least.

But before I went...the middle born boy got a 2nd degree propane burn at work and I'll spare you the picture of what it looks like unwrapped.  But let's just say that he fainted and I almost did too...and I've handled A LOT of injuries with my houseful of boys.  But this was bad.

It's healed now and he's clear to go back to work tomorrow morning.  

I am so blessed by my people.  I was tired one night and just needed something...anything.  One quick text message later and I found myself at my girlfriends house with wine and cheese and a listening ear...just what I needed.


Fall is my very favorite season, hands down.  The colors and the smells and the sounds and the dark that settles in earlier in the day...I love all of it.  

And yeah, home is where there is a football on the floor.  Make that two footballs.


We've had a few evenings with quiet...the kind of quiet where turning on some music, mixing up a cocktail and playing a game or two of cribbage are the perfect ending to the day.  Oh...and Trader Joe's blue cheese/pecan dip is the best thing ever ever ever.

Our little stripey cat is fierce.  When she wants to be.

My work week was spent in south Florida...this time in Key Biscayne.  There are definitely worse places I could be sent but this was a hard one...not enough hours in the day and more work than I could physically do in the time I was there...which meant my trip kept getting extended.   How many times can one person change their flight home???  Only 3 this time!

But there were blessings, flying into St Louis at the peak of Autumn.  

That box?  50 lbs.  FIFTY POUNDS.  That suitcase?  50 lbs.

All work supplies.

My little carry on suitcase weighed 21 lbs because I was only supposed to be there 2 days.  

I like what I do though...most of the time at least.


I had a few free hours on a rainy day and the thought of sitting in a hotel room bummed me out, so I popped into a local museum with the most beautiful gardens.  If you're ever in south Miami, visit's super pretty.

Oh...and the empanadas in that part of the country are perfect in every way.  I know, because I ate them for every lunch and dinner.  On purpose.  Because I could.

And then I came home and all was right in my world.  Sent boy #2 for chicago pizzas and opened some wine and invited the neighbors to the garden.  I love home.  A lot.

Some people thrive on travel and I do love it...but that whole coming home thing is so perfect.  I was in bed by 8:45pm and slept straight thru until 8:45am...and thankfully woke up feeling human again.

And then the next night I made a big pot of beef stew and set the table in the garden.  Boys wandered in.  Friends wandered in.  Music and heaters were turned on.  Wine was poured.  The conversations were heavy in that the election is right around the corner but the laughter was loud.  

I needed a weekend so badly....and I got one.


This morning we were at two separate churches and met afterwards for brunch.  With a super yummy coffee cake, lemon butter and rhubarb preserves.  And prosecco!  It was so simple yet so decadent...yum!

This whole weekend has felt like a God breathed weekend.  I was so tired and am struggling with a work email that needs to be sent, but one that I am having trouble phrasing correctly.   I'm ready for the week to begin...there's work to be done - laundry and a house to clean and a dog who needs a bath so badly.  This early darkness has me ready to climb into bed early....sounds good to me.

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