Letting Go Is Oh-So Hard To Do

Its been almost six months of processing some heavy stuff I never saw coming at me.  Cancer in my family, a job loss, a new job with more travel (read as: more time as a faux single parent), learning to daily outlast the antics of an almost threenager - you get the idea.  In the midst of it all, writing seemed pointless because well .... priorities.  And just when I felt like things were starting to improve and we could go back on cruise control - I got sideswiped.  

As a kid I remember being asked time and again if my dad was in the military because of how often we moved.  But he was just the world's most upward moving accountant in the late eighties/early nineties. But with each move seemingly came leaving someone behind I truly loved as we headed off to our new home in a car full of heartbreak.  

With move number one, I didn't speak for the 4 hour ride between the old and new house.  For the dramatic five year old that I was, that was a miracle in itself. My parent's have recounted more times than I can tell the story of when I finally broke my silence - an incredibly dramatic outburst of "you took me away from my Grama".  We were tight. I remember those tears like it was yesterday, not three decades ago.

With move number three, I left behind the closest friend from my whole childhood.  One last hug in a Taco Bell parking lot in small-town North Carolina on our last drive out of town. To this day I can't see a cinnamon twist without waxing bittersweet about that day. 

When I headed off to college, I was torn between choosing a campus full of high school friends or one that was a better choice for my career path. Thanks to the practical part of my personality, off I went to another state where I knew not a soul.  I cried like a baby for hours when my parents pulled away that August afternoon.  

Sure in each situation I eventually acclimated to my new normal and made new friends.  But it was never easy.  

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But today it's not me leaving.  It's my friend.  My mom friend. The one who has been by my side after I learned I was pregnant.  Who hugged, encouraged, and prayed with me when we thought we might loose our kiddo at the end of the first trimester.  Who surprised us & showed up with breakfast on a Saturday morning to help paint the nursery.  Whose kids feel like my own.  Who I dared to show my unorganized junk room at its worst.  Who has a listening ear for everything from theology to thoughts on the latest BigBoo Podcast.  Who would give her right arm to serve someone in need.  

Despite my seemingly constant prayers for a road to open up for her family to stay, God has a bigger plan. I've spent too much time the last few weeks selfishly thinking about myself.  You know - how she won't be here to pick blueberries next year, or watch fireworks in July, or attend birthday parties, or share coffee over Bible study. I've thought about me. 

But this week I started to think about things differently.  Sure I'm losing my closest friend to a few hundred miles.  But she's the one entering a stage of constant newness.  Of meeting new friends.  Of figuring out the best grocery store.  Of finding a new church home.  And she will. And I want her too.  Because the years ahead will be full of God ordained moments because she was willing to step away from all that she (& I) held dear.  

So all of this has got me starting to think back to my mom.  All those times we moved - she did too.  But I honestly never really thought about what she gave up each time. Now that I'm a mom, I feel like I can finally comprehend the weight of each move.  She had to pack a whole household.  Learn her way around a new town.  Support three kids in their own transitions.  And she left her friends too.  Mom friends are so important - and sometimes not the easiest to come by.  So hold on tight to the good ones, my friends.

And praise the good Lord for FaceTime & texting!  Keeping long-distance relationships strong is so much easier than they were decades ago for my own mom.  But it all still doesn't make today easier.  By the time she reads this I'll have given that one last hug (for now), waved the Denali and moving truck goodbye, and then certainly have filled a few buckets full of tears. 

Jaci - never did I expect this day to come but as thankful as I am for every memory I have that intertwined with you and your family, I'm pumped for the ones we have yet to make.  Even if they are in Florida!

Searching For Sunshine In The Rain....A Few Favorites

Somehow the days turned to weeks and then months.  I backed away from my writing home because my mind and heart knew it couldn't be a priority in the moment, and before I knew it four months had passed.  So much has been going on personally the last few months that I mentally just couldn't put pen to figurative paper.

And so I stopped writing.

Maybe I should have kept going for my own sanity.  But for now at least the fog has started to clear and I'm ready to get back at it in my corner of the internet. 

And what better way than to share a few of my favorite things that have brought sparks of laughter and joy through some overly cloudy months?

*As always I'll include links to make it easy to find my favorites - some may be affiliate links that support the blog, at no extra cost to you*

TopShop Clear Panel Mom Jeans 

These reviews (which Nordstrom has since taken off their website) are side-splitting. I guess the designer must have been tired of showing off the same old skin on the runway, so why not be an exhibitionist of knees?  This is seriously a must read - just set your drink down first!  I thought for sure these were a joke, but nope! You can find them on Nordstrom's website....so clearly someone is buying them!  Except think they are probably model fashionistas.  That aren't moms.  And what a bargain at only $95 - a steal!

Poldark

Somehow I missed the first season of Poldark when it hit the US scene on PBS a few years ago.  It has been on my list of shows to watch one day, since I've never met a BBC production I didn't like.  But I could never find it streaming -  such a first world crisis.  So my solution?  Buy both of the seasons as a Valentine's gift for my better half (as built in at-home TV watching date nights)......which may have been just a tad for myself (I'm selfish..what can I say)?  But in all seriousness, it's a much more manly than the Bronte or Austen adaptations I usually lean towards.

AND WE GOT HOOKED.  We watched both seasons in two weeks - I haven't stayed up so late since I was in college, but it was just so addicting.  I've made it my personal mission to recommend this to everyone because it is the best TV I may have ever seen....as in it has bypassed my true movie love, the 1995 BBC Pride & Prejudice......and that's saying something!  I've been stalking for when PBS will air season 3, but alas we keep waiting for more Ross & Demelza.  My Dad even bought the first book in the series of novels that was the basis for the show, so you know I'll be borrowing that ASAP!

*Head's up - Aidan Turner is in the running to be the next James Bond against Tom Huddleston.  Fingers crossed Huddleston gets it or the Poldark legacy may end after Season 3!!

SheReadsTruth Bible

SheReadsTruth (SRT) had been hinting on Instragram over the last few months about having developed a Bible. I preordered it last week & it came today from Amazon....I've not been so excited to check the mail in years.  It is so beautiful!  The illustrations are so well done, but more importantly they chose a quality translation (the new CSB) which is meant to be a readable text that is translated from the original languages (not a translation of a translation).  You can check out their website for a few videos to show you more about the inside of the Bible & the translation itself. Or you can see a bunch of close ups I took on my Instagram feed today (@thehomemadefig).

How beautiful is the embossing on the gold embossing?!?

How beautiful is the embossing on the gold embossing?!?

I ordered the SRT Poppy Linen Bible, but there are multiple other cover options (apparently the leather they chose feels like the best of leather handbags!).  Plus there is the option to get an indexed version (the finger indentions that help you find each book of the Bible).  

Sure I love my Ryrie Study Bible handed down from my mom, but I'm excited to start using this one too in my Bible Study as a different translation for comparison.

I promise a more beautiful Bible has never been made.  The beauty only accentuates the perfection that is God's word. 

I promise a more beautiful Bible has never been made.  The beauty only accentuates the perfection that is God's word. 

Cascara Latte's

Most of the new drinks these days at Starbucks are just too sweet for my black coffee taste.  But the "mascara latte" as we call it around these parts has become my go to on our Sunday morning pre-church coffee stops.  Except I need an extra espresso shot - mandatory to mellow the sugar for my tastebuds.  I know this has gotten mixed reviews overall but I'm hoping it sticks around.

Red Sea Road by Ellie Holcomb

I've been in a podcast listening routine lately but was getting tired of princess music during all my car rides with my little one.  I'd heard good things about Ellie's new album, and those reviews were spot on.  Such a great album - my favorite track by far is 'Find You Here'.

I'm not gonna lie - I first heard of Ellie a few years ago when she performed with her husband (Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors) when he opened up for NeedToBreathe in Charlottesville.  And I thought she was straight up crazy.  Thinking back it was probably just her being super passionate about her music & that she was just ALL. IN.  {I'm talking running around and slinging her hair around more than at a Rolling Stones concert}.  So it took me a while to build up enough nerve to take a listen & get past my preconceived ideas of her music, but I'm so glad I did!  

LIVE PD

Looking back, I'm not sure at what point I started watching COPS with my dad.  Probably too young.  But I loved doing things with my Dad and I've been known to be a bit headstrong.  While vacationing with my parents recently, he turned on LivePD, and I should probably be ashamed to say I'm hooked.  Basically it's COPS, but aired live every Friday & Saturday night on A&E.

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Last week viewers noticed someone throwing drugs out of the driver's window, so the officer was able to go back to the exact spot, find the drugs, & charge the guy.  THANKS TO TWITTER.  Boom.  Take that social media. Proof you really can be used for good. 

Guys.  Tell me all the things.  What are you reading? Watching? Eating? Listening to? Bring on what's bringing sunshine on your tough days - I need all the sunshine I can get!

Fun Ways to Introduce Advent to Toddlers

I love Christmas & everything about it.  The Hallmark movies.  The lights.  Even the crowded checkout lines - I'm weird like that.  And I want to help my 2 year old love it all as much as I do - and it's not hard to really with all the music, presents, & reindeer everywhere we turn.  

But I want to be sure I am introducing the real reason for Christmas in an age appropriate way.  I've searched the internet high & low and decided on three different methods to start in the coming weeks to help keep our eyes & hearts focused on our Savior this season.

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First up is the advent calendar from Sugar House Shop on Etsy that I introduced a few weeks back.  I've barely started constructing my nativity themed magnetic ornament advent calendar, but I know the last minute push will be worth it!  I loved opening the boxes in the single-use chocolate containing ones we begged for as kids - and hopefully this will help build up some excitement without the sugar rush!

Next is Truth in The Tinsel by Amanda White.  The blogger ohamanda developed this curriculum a few years ago & released an e-book full of coordinating scriptures, crafts, and even printable ornaments to decorate that you can adjust based on the age & interests of your kids.  I've tweaked her plan from a daily advent activity to something will keep the attention span of my little one can tolerate just a few times each week. I'll share my adjustments & activity ideas for a non-scissor using kiddo later this week - be on the lookout!

I'm pretty sure that our new Shepherd on the Search from Dayspring though is going to my daughter's favorite.  Clearly the 'Elf on the Shelf' idea has been a hit since it hit it big years ago. There are girl versions, boy versions, outfits to dress them in, and Pinterest pages full of creative things for him to do.  But you know what I don't want?  A kid who thinks a troublemaking elf is fun.  Or that she should copy his antics.  Nor do I want to scare my child into good behavior.

Maybe I'm taking it too seriously, but my daughter doesn't miss anything.  And I don't want her to start dragging toilet paper through the house because an elf did.  The story that goes along with Dayspring's 'The Shepherd on The Search' is that the angels tell the shepherd of Jesus' birth & he sets off to find baby Jesus in the manger.  He can move around every day letting the kids find him - giving us the opportunity as parents to discuss where he's heading & why it matters after we find his hiding spot each day.  Then on Christmas morning, he wakes up in the manger scene that comes inside the box.

I love that this involves so little effort & planning each day...... plus there's no mom punishment if we forget to move the shepherd one day!  

Shepherd on the Search is $29.99 on Dayspring's website, and until 12/31 you can use the code SHINEHISLIGHT for $20 off of a $60 purchase  - and there are a ton of other amazing gift ideas to wrap up your shopping in one fell swoop! (Plus shipping is free over $50!).

There are a number of activities & resources Dayspring developed to go along with your advent celebration that you can find on their website here.   

From one busy mom to another - I hope at least one of these ideas is something you feel like you can try out with your own family this Christmas season!

* Some affiliate links are included in this post to help you head straight to the resources I've shared - I get a small fee for sharing these, but know I'm only sharing things I use & love!