Saturday, February 13, 2016

What's Your Word??

Hi everyone!

This is one Valentine's Day that I couldn't wait to get here!!!  Not because I have any earth shattering news or new love in my life, but because this holiday just seems to totally embody the whole essence of my little cottage.

For years I dreamed of her; for months I wrote of her; and then the pieces of the puzzle all fell into place YEARS sooner than I ever dreamed possible.

As I went about writing my favorite bible verses on the studs of her walls I felt such peace. I wanted this to be a place where when I create I am just wrapped in God's Word.  After I got the tin ceiling home, I also learned that it was approximately 100 years old and came out of a friend's great-grandfather's barn. If that tin could talk, oh the stories it could share with me as I write my own.

So in the middle of the entire process of finishing off the inside I took a break one night to watch Eat, Pray, Love for probably the 20th time.  Hey, what can I say, I love chick flicks!!  However, in the movie they ask Liz what word would she use to represent herself - not what she did for a living, but word embodied her as a person.

For weeks I had been gathering things to go inside my cottage and one of the elements included three little signs that had the saying my kids told me related to love.  I have always collected hearts an signs that say love over the years too. After watch that movie though it hit me - my word is LOVE.

This isn't just romantic love, it's the love I feel toward my children & friends; toward my colleagues & my students;  toward the things I create & the gifts I give to other people.

No, my life has not been easy, but NO matter what is thrown at me, I ALWAYS have LOVE.

So why some singles despise Valentine's Day, I embrace her, cherish her, and use the day to create things of love that I can share with the world.

Until tomorrow...

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Lunch with Leneil

Hi everyone!

It’s not just the sunshine in the sky that can brighten our lives, but the people that bring sunshine into our lives as well.  I have been so abundantly blessed with the most amazing friends & colleagues!  We all have struggles, we all fight to do what is right and walk down the narrow path, but it is through the people that just illuminate in all that He has done in their lives and in doing so help us work on the light in our own lives that makes all the difference.

Last spring our college welcomed a new president, Dr. Rick Brewer.  Now being born a Cajun & Catholic and being raised where music was such a big part to all family gatherings – having a president that could play the piano like Jerry Lee Lewis was a God wink from the get go!  Through the weeks and months our little college community has gotten to witness what a true ray of sunshine that he is to us all. 

In chapel today he spoke of “Looking Back, Moving Forward,” something that I think we all struggle with at times.  Today though, not only is the weather beautiful outside, but the SON was shining as bright as ever inside the auditorium as well.  

How many people go to work each week, counting the days, hours, minutes, and seconds until Friday?  How many people dream of doing something that makes them happy instead of feeling like each day they drive to work is a death march, slowly killing their soul?

On the other hand, how many people get to take an hour out of their Thursday each week to go into an auditorium, lift their voices in worship – not worrying what their neighbor thinks their voice sounds like - and just sing like no one is listening?  How many people get to take an hour out of their Thursday morning and just lay all their struggles & troubles down at a cross – and walk out feeling the weight of the world lifted off their shoulders?  Yes, I know.  I know what an incredible gift and opportunity I have the privilege of being a part of.  

Now I know some people reading this might say, “Wait a minute…you mean you go to church on Sunday & Wednesday AND to chapel on Thursday at work too?  That’s too much Jesus for me.”  But the thing is, I don’t go to church and chapel out of obligation; it doesn’t feel like just another box I need to check in my life so that I have “done the right things” for the week.  I go because I have a relationship with the Lord and I love to sing and hang out with Him and watch for His God winks because I know He has a sense of humor and I know sometimes He winks at me with both eyes and His hands waiving frantically.

Sometimes He has me give God wink books to complete strangers or surprise hurting people with gift baskets that look like they came off of “Oprah’s Favorite Things” list.  Sometimes I struggle and try to reason with Him – “you want me to do what???  For real???”  Because sometimes it makes no sense WHAT SO EVER!!  It use to scare me, but I guess having done this for over 9 years, now when it happens I just tell Him, “Ok, let’s roll with this!”

Time with Him is like having lunch with my friend Leneil.  She is such a ray of sunshine – even when she does take me to THE scariest places in town to see a house she thinks “I should buy.”  Leniel makes me laugh until I cry and she is one of those rays of sunshine that makes you want to roll down the windows of the car and let the Christian radio station play for all of the world to hear.  

I laughed on our adventure today and I also had to remind her that she HAS to  be a character in my book – there is just no way around that.  As she drove me to see my “dream” house by the cemetery I couldn’t help but laugh, since she is also the school counselor – “Leniel, Dr. Brewer said leave the past behind.  No more cemetery angel pictures or homes anywhere need a cemetery!!”  

I think when we can reach the point that we find humor in the sorrow we have truly left it behind.  I think that when we have a relationship with the Lord that let's us honestly just tell Him, "you know...I messed up today.  But on the bright side it was a better day than yesterday," it puts a peace and a freedom into our lives that money cannot buy.

No one is perfect, my own kids aren't perfect - and even when they mess up I wouldn't trade them for the world.  So just think about it for a minute.  Yes, there are times when my kids could make a preacher cuss, but it would not stop me from loving them.  If I can love these 3 kids so very much and laugh and joke with them - then just think - God sent His ONLY Son to die for our sins.  

He didn't have 3 kids like me - He had ONE, but He loved me; He loved you; He loved my kids, and everyone else in this world SO much that He was willing to sacrifice His only child for all of us.

No matter what you have been through in your life, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS remember that their is an AMAZING God out there who can bring sunshine into your soul everyday of the week AND who loves us all to the point of giving His only son for us.  

With a father like that, with a sacrifice like that - it doesn't make you want to get too far off of the narrow road.

Until tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Love What You Do

Hi everyone!

After a 4 day weekend I was soooo ready to get back to work.  I know that might sound strange to some, but it’s not just a job for me – it is truly an adventure!!  

I have been very blessed to have now been on this journey for 14 years.  Yes, I know my friends in industry make a lot more money than me.  Yes, I know that they say “those that can do – those that can’t teach,” but I look at this from a little bit different perspective.  

For me it isn’t just a paycheck, it’s a calling.  The way I see it, I get to come to a job I love, help young people find themselves and learn that technology can be used to accentuate any career.  I have the privilege of getting to show them how they can combine creativity with technology and make incredible things!!  I have colleagues that are like my family and they are like aunts & uncles to my kids.  

My boys literally learned to walk within the halls of Cavanaugh – and now, 14 years later my Samuel wants to sit down with Dr. Warren and talk about what it would take to become a cardiologist.  Going to college is just second nature for my kids and it is never something that they even questioned because they literally grew up here.

When I moved in my office I wanted it to be a place where the kids would feel like it was home.  I know that this was a bit different from the usual “standard office decor,” but most would agree I am pretty much not the "usual."  I wanted to create a space so that when my students walked into my office they would feel like they were at home.

Teaching at a Christian college gives me the freedom to tell my students about God winks, to show them through my life and by example how blessed I am.  My stories of my Curiosity Cottage lets me also show them by example how they can take a degree and live outside the box.  

What I always encourage them to do is take the time to find their gifts and talents that God has given them - yes, and put down the technology so that they can really grasp what it is for them - combine their talents with their degree, and do what they love, then God will provide for their needs.  It’s not about the money.  If you are using your life in a way that lets people see His light in you, then He will provide. 

I may live in a humble little abode with a writing cottage in the woods, but I am able to go home at the end of my day and enjoy life.  My kids and I decided years ago that they would rather have me at home when they got off the bus in the afternoon then for me to be bringing in big bucks.  They know if they need me, no matter how old they get, that mom will be there.  

So as I go back to the hustle and bustle of the semester I can't help but count my blessings - each and every one that walks through the door of my classroom.

Until tomorrow...

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

When You Wish Upon A Star

Hi everyone!
Tonight, as I went outside to write several things came to mind.  Sometimes it isn't that we find ourselves at the wrong place on life's journey - it's more a matter of changing our perspective. 

For example, at first I put my new Adirondack chairs facing my cottage, which was fine because I love how my little porch turned out, but when I turned them around to face the creek & woods - WOW!!! The majestic magnolias and delicate pines are just breath taking. 

As the patio lights start to twinkle, as I wait for the stars so we can dance, I notice all the pine cones beginning to dance with the trees in the crisp wind. Sometimes we are so busy waiting to wish upon a shooting star we miss other beautiful things that are often hidden from the night sky. 

For example, tonight as I sat on my little deck waiting for the stars to make their appearance, for the first time in my life I actually got to witness watching as the squirrels made their way to their nest before dark. There is a time at dusk when we no longer see the pine cones or squirrels, when we can listen to the wind serenade us as it moves through the trees, but when we have to look to the heavens and trust that the stars will appear. 

It's in these times, the times that seems to last forever, though really it is just a moment in the big scheme of things, that we have to trust. I wear a mustard seed pendent so that in times when I find the waiting tough I have something to hold on to. 

But if we hold on to the mustard seed, if we let ourselves relax and breath, if we savor every minute of both daylight & dark, both the good & bad times, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS - slowly but surely the stars will appear. One by one, minute by minute, they appear. We are NEVER too old to wish upon a star or two, to sing a song or two, and embrace the night - forever thanking God for this very moment in time.

In order to see these things, in order to appreciate these things, we have to stop from the whirlwind of life in which we often find ourselves. I have been told that I don't know how to pace myself...guilty as charged I am afraid. Queen of Multitasking, and one of those people who tends to do their best work under pressure. I also have a bad habit of working until I crash, though I have to say I am getting better at pacing myself and paying attention when my body screams at me, but WOW it is so hard to be a creative and stop sometimes. 

And I know if you are a creative you completely get this - the struggle is real!! My little cottage is helping me with this. Even my friends that helped me bring this to fruition all remarked at how peaceful my little corner of the world is - they got it too!!! 

They could see and feel my vision and I have to tell you, as a creative there is NO greater feeling on this earth then to have people GET the vision that you have held in your heart for years.

Yes it is a bit nippy out, but hey, that is why there are blankets. The night is too beautiful to miss a thing & who knows, maybe, just maybe I'll see a shooting star.

Until tomorrow...

Monday, February 8, 2016

It's the Little Things

Hi everyone!

I have had a very busy day working with kids from the community - turning them into little makers.  Their enthusiasm and their hunger to learn to become computer programmers is just such a blessing.

We coded, we laughed, we sang.  Yes, our little group of boys and girls...and their teacher had a ball singing Adele's Hello.  Yes, we will sing tomorrow as we code.  Creating and learning should be fun!!  You should LOVE what you do.

What a morning spent with these kids reminded me of once more is that it is the little things in life that are the biggest blessings.

This may be children or pets or wild name it - but for me, it also means my little Curiosity Cottage.

For me, my little cottage facing my woods is the greatest creative accomplishment that I have ever envisioned and then brought into being.  It is my place to enjoy quiet time, watch the stars as I listen to great music, and write what I feel is being laid upon my heart.  

I have enjoyed the outdoors and going to the woods since I was a little girl.  I am just blessed enough to have my own little corner of the world in the woods.

So tonight I don't have a lot that I want to say in words.  Instead I want to give you a little glimpse into my greatest pride and to my kids.

A window to my world if you will.

Until tomorrow...

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Celebrating Sunday

Hi everyone!

What a day!  As countless Americans all over the world are spending their evening watching the biggest game of the year I couldn't help but be drawn to write.  This topic, these words hit me this morning when I woke up and continued to come to life for me as I worshiped at church, but I had to take time, had to be still, so that I could write them out for the world.  For me writing isn't about just getting something published out on the web for our 100 Days of Making - writing for me is about sharing my life experiences and God winks with the world in the hopes that if my words can help brighten just one person's day, then I have achieved what I set out to accomplish.

The celebrations here in town today ranged from the annual Mardi Gras parade to Super Bowl parties.  Most people aren't too fond of Sunday because it means they have to go back to work on Monday, but for me it is my FAVORITE day of the week!!  It is my day to celebrate and truly take in all of the many blessings that God has bestowed upon me.

Now don't get me wrong, I do not look at any of my life experiences in a Polly Anna type fashion; yet I think that ALL experiences, both good and bad can be used in a positive way if we let them.  I am a "glass is half full" kind of woman and I can't imagine life any other way.

In the last several days I have done something that I have never really been comfortable doing and that is taking photos of myself.  Yes, believe it or not, I am one of the women that can only wear the earrings that she had from high school and in a world the likes to look at the outside before they get to know the inside, this can be tough at times.  However, loosing my mom at such a young age and missing her yesterday made me realize just how few photos that we did take together.  So yesterday at Eli's baby shower I thought, what the heck - let's go for it!!  Which was particularly funny when Sarah started telling the world about one of my funny adventures.

My point is this - I want my kids to have memories of me and have photos to capture those memories.  They aren't going to care if I look like I did in high school, they will only care if they do not have photos when I am gone.  This really hit home for me today when I received a text message while I was in church telling me that one of my cousins had passed away.  She was 3 years younger than me.  We just never, never know.

Yes, there are things I could have done differently with my life.  Yes, there are mistakes that I made, but I will tell you this - for the past two Sundays I have had both my teenage boys go with me to church - both embrace what God is doing in our lives, lifting their voices and hands to sing to Him along with their crazy momma.  When I went down for prayer today, my Samuel, without me knowing, came up behind me to lay his hands on my shoulders as Dennis prayed with me.

I have to tell you, without a doubt - having teenage boys who are not afraid to worship the Lord, to have three beautiful children who love the Lord and look for the God winks because they have heard me talk about them in my own life so much - if I never loose one ounce, that is not what is important.  I have done the MOST important thing - my children have watched me walk through quite a few not so pleasant trials in my life, but they have never doubted that I knew God had my back.  They have watched Him provide for me a penny and a miracle at a time.  My kids know that for me it is not about religion, it is about my relationship with Him.

So tonight, while some are cheering on their favorite team, while some are celebrating the day, I too am celebrating because it is Sunday and because I had the privilege of being able to witness what my own walk of faith has done in the lives of my precious, precious children.

Until tomorrow...

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Mardi Gras, Momma & Making Memories

Hi everyone!

It is the end of a very busy and eventful day.  My first grand baby is due on March 22nd and today we celebrated the occasion in true Louisiana style with a Baby Gras shower theme.

During times like this I miss my mom terrible because two of the things she loved the most were my Sarah Katharine & Mardi Gras.

So the fact that we used a Mardi Gras theme would have thrilled her to no end.  To honor her memory we even used her Mardi Gras masks as part of our decorations.

What is funny is that I missed out on this when I was pregnant with Sarah.  We lived in Geibelstadt, Germany at the time so family was no where in site.  That didn't stop them though - the families had a baby shower, videoed the entire event, including unwrapping the gifts to show us, then they boxed the gifts up and mailed them to Germany.

I would not have traded my time of living abroad for anything, but it is so nice to have Sarah & Jacob close to home. :)

Sarah is surrounded by the love of not only me, but of her stepmom & her mother-in-law too.  Where her Memaw left off when she left this earth so soon, she has been blessed double with her stepmom and mother-in-law.

So while it was a bitter sweet time with my mom not being here, we are now making new memories and bringing our families even closer together as we get ready to welcome this precious baby boy into the world.

I have no doubt that she is looking down on us tonight with a smile on her face and a gleam in her eyes saying, "Good Girl!"

This tired Meme will close for tonight.  See you tomorrow.


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