Friday, May 8, 2015

"Feeling Good"

I woke up this morning, tired. 
There are some things that just are not good - and one of them is a lack of sleep.
But the day wasn't paused or waiting for me to feel rested, so I climbed out of bed to start the morning routine.  Made lunches, Dennis made breakfast, we ate breakfast, made beds, and we all went in different directions.  Seth was off to school with tulips for an amazing teacher.  Dennis was off to work.  Usually I would clean the house, but unfortunately the house was already cleaned.  So....I thought maybe hitting up a few thrift stores might change my attitude.  Ivan and I were off on an adventure to find a treasure - not sure what it would be.  My little one enjoys browsing thrift shops with me.
We stopped at one church thrift store and they had an entire room dedicated to nothing but books...I stayed in that room as long as Ivan would allow - I found Priscilla Shirer books for a quarter.  I also picked up a book about taking your faith further or something like that, but when I opened the front cover - there was a picture of First Baptist Church's Congregation from 1974 and a handwritten quote about loyalty.  I had to buy the book just because of what he wrote in the cover - oh and it was only .50 for a hardback book! I wonder why the postcard was significant and why was it saved?  Could the person who owned this book been in the picture on the postcard?  I felt like I had hit the jackpot with so many good books, at such a great price.
We were headed to the next thrift shop when I noticed a sign by one of the most inspiring churches that has ever graced my path...apparently they have a thrift store that was open today.  I should pause here and give you a bit of a back story on this church.  When I was having orthopedic issues in middle school and high school, the doctor I was seeing was at Nemours downtown. The surgeries that I had were at Wolfson Children's Hospital.  Once a month, sometimes more, sometimes less we would head downtown to see Dr. Hahn.  We always took the same roads, passed the same businesses, felt the anticipation and anxiety of not knowing what the appointment would hold. There was also a church we passed, and every time there would be something inspirational on the marquee in front of the church.  That was one thing that I always looked forward to seeing on our way to those appointments.  It was like a little bit of hope among all that was going on.  Eventually they 'fixed' me - I no longer had to go downtown for the appointments. While I didn't go past that church as much, I still was always encouraged by the sign when I did have an opportunity to drive by it. I had no clue how God would show up and work through this church, in my life, once again....but He did.
We parked and headed in, such a neat little place filled with all kinds of treasures.  Naturally I was drawn to the wall of books.  I was taking it all in the - the smell of old books, the elderly people running the thrift shop and talking about their gardens, the music playing -  "One thing remains" - ok have to pause for more back story to the back story....there have been mornings when I woke up struggling with the affects of depression and anxiety, and the only thing I knew to do was pull the bicycle out and go for a ride.  Ivan enjoyed it - got a seat to put between me and the handle bars and would turn on some music on my phone...every single time that I took the bike out under those circumstances - that song always played.  And that song was playing this morning, on my bad, tired morning from this church that always encouraged me when going through surgeries.  In case you aren't familiar with the song here are the lyrics -
Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing… Remains
 Your love never fails, never gives up
Never runs out on me
On and on and on and on it goes
It overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains
 In death, In life, I’m confident and
covered by the power of Your great love
My debt is paid, there’s nothing that can
separate my heart from Your great love...
So that song was playing as all my senses were taking in this little place when I glanced down and saw the book "Feeling Good The New Mood Therapy" by Dr. David Burns....This marks the third time that this book has been brought up in conversation, suggested, or flat out showed up in front of me!  My dad was going through some classes and they recommended it to him - I went to the extent of checking it out from the library but the size of the book was intimidating and, 'what if it doesn't work' never got read.  Then my new psychiatrist had given me some worksheets and help examine my thinking that were taken from that book and she recommended the book.  She even offered to bring in her personal copy for me to read.  I left that appointment that day and went to books a million where the book was out of stock.  I could have searched it out but I didn't.  Then today, I find it for a quarter from a church that has provided inspiration to me through some difficult times. The fact that this book has been brought to my attention so many times, in so many different ways, from different people, who couldn't possibly be talking to each other --- makes me think that God REALLY wants me to read this book.
I came to this epiphany tonight - this church has been very encouraging and inspiring to me, and I have never stepped foot inside it....I wonder what would happen if I opened the doors and went in.....

 The book and the church....

Monday, May 4, 2015

30th Birthday....

So you only turn 30 once! 
My husband has a way of turning my birthday into a weekend celebration...
Saturday May 2
My mom watched the boys so that Dennis and I could have a day out together.  We went to World of Nations, we enjoyed the time outside looking at what each country had to offer, and eating some good food! We decided to get a caricature done of the two of us!  I wish I would have taken a picture of the guy doing it - he was incredible and had a natural gift for making people laugh.  It was enjoyable even if it felt a bit awkward. We then went to Autobahn for some was different and fun...Dennis beat me!

Since it was just the two of us we decided to go to my favorite thrift shop to browse for some books....always easier to do without the boys....Dennis found a Mr. Bean car....I wish it was for sale - it is being auctioned this coming weekend.

I came home to find that my mom had taken the time to make a cake with the boys for my birthday!  They hand made the heart decorations out of fondant...and Ivan even added a "slithery snake."  This seems to be a tradition my mom is starting with them and they get so excited about making a cake.  I also think it is kind of cool how she is good at cake making and its something she enjoys, and she shares that love with the boys.  They are blessed and so am I!

Sunday May 3, 2015

I woke up to a phone full of felt good to see all the wishes and love shared from the ladies of the Thursday morning bible study group....even though I constantly question my place in that group or if I should continue to go, they have a been somewhat of a constant in my life for about three years now and have helped tremendously with regards to overcoming social anxiety.

Dennis asked the boys where they would like to take me for breakfast and they decided on Waffle House.  They let me sleep in and then we went for breakfast.  Seth found a sign with a heart of syrup on a waffle and was very excited to show it to me.  My boys look for hearts as much as I do!  I found a heart on one of the grilled onions in my hash browns - see if you can find it!

After breakfast we went to one of my favorite places....the Jacksonville Arboretum and Gardens.  The boys wanted to go to the beach but today seemed like a nice day to walk the trails.  On the way there I said to Dennis, "Since today is my birthday I hope the alligator comes out while we are there."  Not only did the one alligator come out, but two did!  It was the first time that I have ever seen two alligators in the lake at the same time!  One looks to be a fair size.  But that wasn't all, we also saw birds, and turtles and snakes, the gopher tortoise and couldn't resist some family pictures!  We also helped a turtle cross the road and found a few hearts too! 


After we walked the trails we met up with my parents and grandparents and brother and sisters at Sweet Frog!  It was nice to have everybody together to celebrate at one of my favorite places! I know how hard it was for my dad to come out, so it really meant a lot to me that he was there.  I've never really been one for 'stuff'...time is so much more valuable to me! Special thanks to the Sweet Frog employee for taking our picture!

Siblings....more about them later!
May 3, 1985 at 4:12 p.m....these two incredible people welcomed me into the we are 30 years later!  May 3, 2015
I feel old at 30...I can't even begin to imagine what it would feel like to have a grandchild who is 30...

We came home and relaxed a bit.  My guys all decided to play some music for me.  Seth played Old MacDonald on the violin.  Ivan played the Kalimba that we had picked up from World of Nations and Dennis played the violin - amazed by how good he is!

 Each of my siblings did something special for me...something special because of the connection we share.  I will start with my younger oldest sister - Rebecca!
Rebecca knows me well!  I love the blue mountain greeting cards, they are amazing and this one was no different.  Her wish for me was "An abundance of happiness. Blessings that warm my life and make me smile. Friends and loved ones by my side....people who will treasure every memory they get to make with me.  Wonderful surprises. Beautiful sunrises. Opportunities. Chances. Goals to be reached. Changes I've been striving to make. A song in my heart. A wish that comes true. And reminders of how much nicer this world is....all because of me."  I think the last one might be one of my biggest struggles as of late - and Rebecca doesn't know that so it kind of made me feel like that might have been a message from God.  She and Uriah each picked out a piece of art in the form of a stone - a heart because, well, hearts are my thing!  And a frog because I love frogs too.  I think the coolest thing was the bookmark with a miniature painting from one of my favorite places.  I have always been a fan of the 'little' things in life - most of which often hold the greatest blessings. The Great Cross and books...perfect match!

And now on to my brother - Vaughn!
My brother and I are a lot alike.  We think alike, we process things the same way.  My boys look up to him.  He is a good male role model in their lives.  Sometimes the best things we can give to somebody, is the impact we have on somebody they love.  I will never be able to express to him how incredible it is that he is there for my boys.  My sisters are there too - but aside from my husband and my dad and grandfather, my brother plays a role in my boys lives.  And I'm glad its such a good one.  He extended my birthday celebration when he showed up at my door today with a cup full of cookie dough.  I love cookie dough - I have been known to go to places that sell this as a topping for frozen yogurt and just get a cup of the topping to add to my ice cream at home.  This is by far the most I have ever gotten at once.  It should hold me for, oh maybe a week or two!  I'm grateful that he took the time to think about something I like and extend my birthday an extra day.  I love those meaningful gifts!
Last, but certainly not baby sister - Vanessa!
Where do I start?  Vanessa and I are 12 years apart.  When you compare our pictures at the same age, we look a lot alike...only difference is eye color and.... attitude!  In that regard we are total opposites.  She has a spirit of adventure - and I think she really wants to find the good in matter how hard she has to search for it.  She made my 30th birthday a memorable one, and added a special memory that we will share forever....she went with me to get a tattoo.  I wanted somebody to go get a heart tattoo with me.  I think I almost had my mom convinced, but she wasn't sure.  Vanessa, didn't have to ask her twice!  We jumped in the car and off we went.  I chose a heart as the palm of an "I love you" sign in sign language.  Anytime that Dennis and I have to leave we always do the "I love you" sign, and the heart as the palm was perfect.  Vanessa thought that was cool but her heart design was the word "Love" written to form a heart.  YES- we got matching heart tattoos on my 30th birthday! 
I am grateful to be the oldest of four children, my brother and sisters are like built in best friends!  We have our moments, but when it comes to being there for each other - the time we have had together is filled with sweet memories! 
Grateful for an amazing 30th birthday weekend!