Tuesday, October 25, 2016

tuesday inspiration and flower power

Because it's good to be inspired in the middle of the week, don't you think?

I have the opportunity each week to work with the youth of my church congregation, specifically the sixteen and seventeen year old young women.  This past Sunday I taught a lesson about gratitude and used this talk by Dieter F. Uchtdorf entitled, Gratitude in Any Circumstance.  I love everything about this talk, but I especially like this paragraph,

Perhaps focusing on what we are grateful for is the wrong approach. It is difficult to develop a spirit of gratitude if our thankfulness is only proportional to the number of blessings we can count. True, it is important to frequently “count our blessings”—and anyone who has tried this knows there are many—but I don’t believe the Lord expects us to be less thankful in times of trial than in times of abundance and ease. In fact, most of the scriptural references do not speak of gratitude for things but rather suggest an overall spirit or attitude of gratitude.

At the end of my lesson I gave the girls a challenge to try and take one whole week to only express gratitude in their prayers, and not ask for anything.  Of course, I also took the challenge on myself.  It's been interesting so far.  Yesterday was day one.  I am already very much in the habit of giving thanks to my Heavenly Father on a daily basis, so that part has been easy.  But I also have become aware of how much I ask for from my Heavenly Father every single day.  Focusing my prayers on what I'm grateful has helped me look for the good even when "good" isn't exactly smacking me in the face.  Sometime we have to look at little harder to find the blessings, especially when we're in the middle of really hard challenges.  I am dead center in the middle of a very hard trial right now.  It's there when I wake up, it's there when I go to sleep, and a lot of times it's even there in my dreams.  But, what I've also found that's always there, is my Savior's love and my Heavenly Father's love carrying me from day to day and sometimes just minute to minute. In the middle of all this hard, I've gained a much greater sense of gratitude for all that is so very good in my life.
These are some flower pots on my back porch.
When my life went crazy five months ago, I planted these little Vincas and whispered to them,"You are my new life now.  Grow and bloom and be happy"
I have never, in all the years I've been growing flowers, had more beautiful blooms then these. 
Every day I talk to my flowers and thank them for growing and thank them for making me smile. 

Asking God for what I need each day is something He wants me to do.  I am is daughter and He loves me and knows my heart better than anyone. I also want Him to know that my heart is a heart full of gratitude.  As someone once said, "My cup runneth over, and it is messy!". Isn't that just life, the good and the bad, and all the crazy that comes with it.  Each day I want to be able to not only be thankful for things, but just be thankful to be on this journey itself and all that it encompasses. 
Like these little flowers.
They remind me each and every morning 
to grow 
and bloom 
and be happy.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Monday, October 17, 2016

where I come from

A small midwest town.  The place where I grew up and became me. 

This past week I had the opportunity to return home.  There are so many things I love about Wisconsin. The fall is the most beautiful time to visit, and the leaves were just beginning to be coaxed into their beautiful spread of reds, oranges, and golds. 

 The cheeseheads are die hards and rivaled by no one for their team loyalty.

Especially these guys.

I spent a lot of time walking around my home town.  Walking and thinking. 

I walked to my old elementary school and looked through the windows and saw myself sitting there in Ms. Wennam's second grade class.  I imagined looking out of one those windows so many years earlier, and being so excited to see big round snowflakes cascading down for the season's first snowfall. 

I spent lots of time in my parents yard remembering what it felt like to be little.

I couldn't stop looking up at the big oak tree that faithfully provided leaves each year for my sister and I to make the neighborhood's biggest leaf pile.  When I closed my eyes, the smell of the already fallen leaves made the memory almost tangible and tugged ever so kindly on my heart.

I spent lots of time with my mom and dad and my sister.  These are the people that have known me the longest and loved me the longest. How grateful I am for them.

My sister graciously drove me around downtown and we reminisced about some of the places we used to go. 

The Cozy Inn.  Our family's favorite place to go for dinner.  When we were very young, my sister and I were always amazed and impressed by the large and colorful collection of gum wads placed strategically under the tables.  Taking home a brand new pair of chopsticks was always a bonus novelty.

My little town is situated on a river. 

A happy little river that would become cold and menacing in the winter but happy once again each spring. 

The YMCA was another favorite (sing it with me,  Y. M. C. A.!) Swimming for hours was the best. 

Downtown Janesville.  Remnants of a slower, more simple time.  

And always, these beautiful trees.  
My parents still live in the house I grew up in. It was so good to sleep in my own childhood room, even if I am an adult now.  Sometimes, I just wish I could be little again, you know?

Happy fall my beautiful readers.  
Wishing you peaceful memories of the good things from your "remember when".

Friday, September 23, 2016

the drop off

 Hello dear readers,
         Gosh, it's been awhile. So many thoughts bouncing around in my mind.  Before I could even do this post, I had to deal with google last week and a big old mess in trying to renew my domain, terrasearth.com. For three days in a row I spent a combined total of three plus hours on the phone with different google reps.  Basically, I needed an admin. account on google to renew (but had no idea what that account was) and no one seemed to have any answers.  It was a big fat problem, and in the end, I was the one that found the account.  Isn't that just so life? Sometimes you just have to find your own answers.  But, dear readers, I believe that is another post for another day.

SO..... On September 7th, I did what I said I'd never do again.... the curb drop off at the MTC. I'm not sure if I can tell you it was better or worse than dropping off Sadie.  Maybe a little better, because this time I did NOT promise Drew I wouldn't cry.  I totally did.  And so did he.

Our morning started early with the two of us catching a 6:00 a.m. flight to  Salt Lake.  It was a short night the night before as friends and family came to say goodbye to Drew for two years.  I think the most tender goodbye happened in our kitchen the morning of our flight as I watched Drew give Sierra and Gentry big bear hugs and say, "Don't forget to email me okay?" and "I'm going to miss you."  There were enough tears and love in that room to warm and break a heart in the very same moment.

My very sweet friend and her son (who just returned from his mission) offered to drive us to the airport so we wouldn't have to park and shuttle.  It was kind of surreal driving there.  And once again, I had to come back to my faith and everything I believe in to find some composure and peace. Drew slept most of the short flight. I couldn't help looking at my man child every few minutes and smiling and crying, and just trying to take in the last little bit of time we had together.

We rented a car when we arrived in Salt Lake and started the hour long drive to Provo.  Drew was nervous.  Like more nervous than I have ever seen the most relaxed, easy going kid I've ever met.  He mentioned a couple of times, "I just hope maybe I'll see someone I know in the MTC".  I told him that I thought the odds were pretty good considering the high Mormon population in our city of Gilbert.

When we got to Provo, we met up with Sadie and Andy and headed to Drew's very favorite Provo restaurant, Brick Oven.  Our waitress came up and asked what the occasion was.  When we told her Drew was going into the MTC that afternoon, she responded, "That's what I thought, your meal is on the house today!" (Gotta love Provo). Drew, who could usually eat the Man vs. Food guy under the table, barely ate anything.  I started looking around the restaurant and laughed as I noticed several other families with young men in white shirts and ties.  I commented to Drew, "Lot's of other missionaries getting ready to go in today too".  It really is kind of an interesting phenomena.

Soon, it was time.  Time to say goodbye.  I had Sadie and Andy sit in the front of our car so Andy could drive us.  By this time, Drew and I were both kind of starting to lose it.  I had made a point of telling Sadie and Andy that I didn't want any pictures when we actually said goodbye so I could really just be present and not living through social medial or anything else.  We stopped just before the MTC to get these pics.  When I was hugging Drew in this picture, his heart was absolutely racing.

And then, it was really, really time.  As we pulled up to the curb and I looked at Drew's face, I started to worry.  He was sweating and pale and I thought, "Oh my gosh, is he going to be able to do this?!"  But just at that moment, something wonderful happened.  Drew was looking out the window as we pulled up to the curb, and suddenly started yelling , "Hey...HEY, I know that kid!!"  And he hoped out of the car and ran around the back as I watched an escort missionary approaching us. Then, the escort and Drew gave each other this huge guy hug, complete with back slapping and a round of "Hey man, how are you!?" And suddenly, I knew everything was going to be okay as I watched the look on Drew's face melt from panic to excitement, resolve, and determination.   The escort that met us at the curb just happened to play on Drew's lacrosse team a couple of years ago.   I guess some people would say it was just a lucky coincidence. But, I know it was just a very tender and specific blessing from a loving Heavenly Father that knew exactly what Drew needed in that moment.

So, Sadie and Andy gave their hugs, and then it was my turn.  It was one of those hugs that just says "I love you" in a way that sometimes words can't.  Then Drew looked at us and said, "Okay, it's a quick two!".  (This has become a familiar saying with Drew's outgoing missionary friends).  Then I laughed, and gave my boy one more kiss on his check between both of our tears, and with that, he was off.  As I watched him walk away, I decided he was still feeling a little nervous  (since he let his escort carry both of his bags).  And all of the sudden I decided I did want a picture.  So I started yelling, "Andy! Hurry, get a picture!!" (Have I mentioned how much I love my sweet son-in-law?) And Andy was on it.

Then we gave one more shout out..."Drew, give us a wave" ...
and he did.  

As Andy drove away, I just let myself cry.  Big old round, fat tears, and it felt good to not hold it in.  I've be doing that for too long.  

When I composed myself, I started my solo drive in the rental car back to the airport.  It was a quiet drive as I tried to process what had just happened. I arrived at the airport and checked my bags. As I moved through security and started down the corridor, I saw a missionary coming toward me, heading the other direction.  A missionary coming home.  Then I smiled to myself and said,
 "Quick two Terra, quick two." 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

MTC bound (again)

It's a familiar site, although this time it's colorful socks, ties, and suits instead of skirts and dresses. In just over a week I will be flying to Utah with Drew to take him to the MTC.  It was almost exactly three years ago in September that we took Sadie there.  You can read about that experience here if you're new to my blog. I decided after taking Sadie to the curb drop off of the MTC three years ago, that I would never, ever do that scene again.  For months I've been telling Drew I would say good-bye to him at the Phoenix airport.  But, circumstances and situations change, and in the end, I decided I needed, to be able to have some closure and peace, do that curb scene one more time.    

It's been a beautiful couple of weeks as Drew had prepared himself to serve his mission in Jackson, Mississippi.  

We have been supported by amazing family and friends, for which we are tremendously grateful.  

Last weekend we got to have a quick visit from Sadie and Andy. 

Last Sunday we also had our last family dinner together for two years.  I made all of Drew's favorites, roast beef, mashed potatoes, corn, and orange rolls.  Bitter-sweet, but I keep remembering how much Sadie loved her mission to Houston,  and how it helped her grow and love and develop her relationship with her Heavenly Father in a way that she could not have gained through any other experience. 
So, just like I promised Sadie, I will also send Drew off with a smile.  I am so incredibly proud of this young man.  He is amazingly kind, and patient, and funny, and most of all, he knows how to love unconditionally.  He makes me want to be a better person.  Thank you Drewby.  Nothing brings me more joy in this world than being a mom to you and your sisters. 
I know you will bless many, many lives as you have the great privilege of serving the people of Jackson, Mississippi.