Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey Stuffing

It is a full day getting our family of five ready for this Thanksgiving.  Laundry to wash, fold, and sort; food to cook; suitcases to fill, sit on, and zip; toys to select for the ride; oodles of baby paraphernalia to bring; cameras, computers, portable DVD players, phones, power cords, and chargers to remember; plants to water and put inside; coolers to pack; car to gas up; mail arrangements to make; cars to load; doors to lock, and let’s not forget the kids.  Finally, the five of us, one six foot two inches tall man, one lady, two growing boys, one baby, and three carseats are carefully arranged in the Bruorton-mobile.  It’s like being crammed inside an overstuffed turkey ready for roasting.  And of course, we too, will have the necessary interruptions to our roasting process because, inevitably, probably at different times, someone will need to be basted….I mean take a pee break.  Let’s not even mention road blocks, detours, parking lots and other unfortunate highway incidents that are common occurrences during holiday travel.
And this is how our Thanksgiving begins.  My husband and I hit the road hoping and praying for patience and a safe trip.  It’s really a true miracle by the time we get where we are going.  Our arrival makes being thankful easy and immediate.  We are all appreciative when our roasting efforts pay off and we are able to sit at the table with a sweet smelling, juicy, golden brown turkey and not a dried out and burned up, unrecognizable, overcooked bird.
Aaaah…no matter what roof is over our heads, we are welcomed by the familiar smells of Thanksgiving favorites (mine, ours, and theirs), the warmth of family and friends, a table covered with way too much food, kids giggling with hunger, and our hearts are overflowing with our own reflections of gratefulness. 
I am thankful for people, experiences, and things seen and unseen, recent and past, things obvious and not so much.  I am thankful for family, for my family of five, for my family that will forever be my roots, for my extended family and my married-into family, and for loved ones who are so much a part of my Thanksgiving even though they are not here with us in body.  I am thankful for friends near and far, old and new, but especially for friends that see me through my ups and downs and love me all the more for them.  You are my family too.  I am thankful for our health, our home, delicious food, and the hands that prepared it.  I am thankful for all I have been through (good, bad, ugly, and scary) in the past year.  I am thankful that I can be living, breathing proof of the man upstairs, His plan, and His never ending love for each of us.  I am thankful that my journey makes me a stronger, more faithful, faith-filled person, even though there are screw ups and bang ups.  I am thankful for being able to enjoy my Thanksgiving in an upright position this year, and I am even more thankful that we have one more beautiful little person at the table with us.  I am thankful for our hopes of what is to come and for our growing family as my little sister gets married in a few months.  I am thankful for strained relationships that are not perfect but on the mend.  Most of all, I am thankful that “all I have is all I need (Simple Abundance, Sara Ban Breathnach).”  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chicken Fried and a Good Cup of Coffee

A good cup of coffee, the big boys are off at school, the baby is asleep, the clothes are washing, the dishwasher is going, some of my favorite music is playing, and I have some quiet time to myself!  It's amazing what a morning carpool can do!  My coffee is just extra yummy today.  I can actually sip and taste it instead inhaling it like an IV drip to wake up my brain before rushing myself out the door.  I am not even sure that thought made sense but it sounded good for dramatic effect!  You get what I am saying.  This is my extraordinary for today.  It's so simple, and I am so thankful.

So I am going to raise my coffee cup to you-  here's to wishing you some pure and simple extraordinariness today!  For Zac Brown, it's chicken fried, for me, a cup of coffee. What is it for you?  Now if you'll excuse me- I am going to go dance like nobody is watching.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


These are the times... wake up time, time to feed the baby, diaper changing time, breakfast, lunch, and dinner times, time for work and school, play time, time for homework, workout time, camp time, pool and beach time, nap time, bath time, bed time, and don't forget time for groceries, shopping, meetings, recreational sporting games (whatever the season may be), yard work, laundry, house cleaning, Sunday school and church time, family time, and you finagle your schedule for weeks to work in some good old fashioned girl/guy time (whichever you desperately need at the time, time)...

These are the best days of my life!  So then, why is it that my days are filled with all the "times" in the world, and I still feel like I have no time at all?  I am an exhausted and often overwhelmed crazy woman on the run.  How are you? 

This blog is a perfect example of what I am talking about.  I love blogging.  It grounds me.  It helps me celebrate the extraordinary in my ordinary life.  Each day I put it on my "to-do" list, and each night I am frustrated because I didn't even have time to check my email, much less work on my blog.  And so, I put it on my list for tomorrow.  If I keep going like this, my tomorrows just keep flying by so fast that even a Boeing 747 can't help me keep up.

Timeout is hard work!
After making the decision to stick his tongue out at his momma and contort his face in a very unattractive frozen state, this little boy earned himself some time in the chair.  What was not at all funny at the time makes me smile now as I look at the picture.  I know how he feels.  Sometimes when life gets crazy, I can't think straight or make the best of decisions.  The result is days gone by wondering what it is I'm doing and why I haven't done what I meant to do.  Timeout, if only for four minutes, like my son's, is just what I need.  It is a deliberate chance to stop, think, regroup, apologize for mistakes made, and move forward making better "choices," as we say in our house. 

That is my struggle right now.  I admit it.  I have been fighting a losing battle, sticking my tongue out at my forever ticking clock, not looking all that graceful in the process.  What I need is some good, consistent discipline for my out- of -line self.  No more getting swept away at the speed of light.  Timeout for me.  Granted, I may have to take my computer and go lock myself in a closet to get four minutes of quiet to myself, but I will take what I can get.

I know this is the time of my life!  I mean this literally and figuratively.  I wish I could bottle up my time now, the sounds of my family laughing together, the sights of my kids playing without a self-conscious care in the world, the smells of our wide open hugs, the pure sweetness of our kisses, and the soft touches of our snuggles.  I would save all of it for days when my children, my babies, are grown and on their own, and my husband and I are old and gray aching for a dose of the "good ole' days."   

The time is now.  As much as I'd love to stop time or bottle it up for a rainy day, I can't.  So, I just have to make sure I am living in the here and now each second of each day.  My "to-do" list is getting me in trouble.  I have it all wrong.  My numbers one, two, and three everyday are, most often, not things that I will remember when I am aching for days gone by (i.e. doing laundry, calling the repair man to fix our very loud washing machine, cleaning the bathrooms).  Yes, I HAVE to do these things, but they are things that will get done eventually because of their physical and natural necessity (i.e. before we run out of clean clothes, the washing machine takes off or blows up, there's not a pee-free spot for me to sit on the toilet).  In other words, these things do not need to be on the top of my list because they will force their way into my agenda without much help. 

My "to-do" list needs to be turned upside down.  It's the things I NEED to do that should be at the top of my list.  Ah-ha moment coming...what do I really NEED to do each day?  I, personally, need to start EVERY day with spiritual guidance, some quiet, alone time with God to help me go in the right direction.  That's my number one.  Number two on my list, give my husband some undivided attention and affection.  Number three, play with my children, and be a part of their carefree laughter.  These things are precious to me, and they are extremely vulnerable to being pushed to the bottom of my list on the busiest of days because I do not HAVE to do them even though the consequences will run deep (i.e. God will not fuss at me for skipping my morning devotional, my husband will not end my marriage just because I forget to sit down with him, and my children will play happily even if I am doing other things).  The problem is that I NEED these things to have a happy and full life.

Yes, this timeout is just what I needed.  Putting the things I really NEED at the top of my "to-do" list turns  my ordinary, hectic day into an extraordinary day full of time well spent.  Is your "to-do" list getting you in trouble?  If your answer is yes, GO TO TIMEOUT! 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Grace You Can Hold

april 23, 2011
8 lbs 3 oz

So glad to be blogging again....I have been a little preoccupied for the past month. Today, my precious little miracle hosed me with pee three times.  I think he even got to taste some of it!  You'd think I'd learn.  Still, I have never been so thankful...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cranky Pants

I AM CRANKY.  I am so tired.  I haven't slept in nights, so I have officially entered delirium from sleep deprivation.  My body aches in places I didn't even know existed.  I can't see my feet.  My maternity clothes are barely covering my very ready-to-explode belly.  Who knew you could out grow maternity clothes of all things?  Going out in public is sure to draw unwarranted comments and second and third glances.  No, really I just get all out, obvious stares these days.  I have to pee every 20 minutes, and I am sure this baby is going to fall out any second.

I am 38 weeks pregnant, and I was not prepared to be pregnant this long.  The doctors told me I would probably not make it to term with this baby, and here I am, CRANKY and WAITING.  In five days, we are scheduled to meet this amazingly self-resilient baby boy.  For 36 weeks, I did everything I could to help this baby stay in.  Now at full-term, I have tried every possible homeopathic method around to make myself go into labor.  Nothing has worked, and all my efforts have made me uncomfortable and crazy.  This baby is as happy as a clam right where he is.  I am a nervous wreck.  Today, five days seems like an eternity.

Let me just go ahead and tell you, there is no sugar coating my current state these days, physically or mentally.  It is what it is, and I have to face up to it.  Sometimes life just doesn't feel sugar coatable, but I know one thing.  I am part of a bigger picture that goes way beyond the past nine months, and every baby is a true miracle.  So, today I am thankful for my CRANKY pants.  They may not be the most comfortable pants in the world (or the most fashionable), but that's the price you have to pay sometimes, right?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Graciousness for the Soul

"Mom, so many people have been so nice to us.  We should give them all thank you cards."       -A recent, out of the blue observation made by my seven year old son.
We are just an ordinary family of four, but my seven year old is right.  There is nothing ordinary about the showers of thoughtfulness we have experienced in the past few months.  From total strangers, to church members, to acquaintances, to close friends, to family near and far, so many have given of themselves just to make our days a little bit brighter and a little bit easier.  Now I know, first hand, the true meaning of grace. 

All of this graciousness, has me thinking...  Without a doubt, at some point(s) in our lives, we face times that force us to "acknowledge the limits of our abilities and the fragility of our soul (from Going a Little Farther, Hobbs pg.108)."  Life just happens beyond our control.  When our reality overwhelms us, there is no better medicine than grace in action.  So, how do we take intentions and thoughtfulness and use them to reach out to others in ways that are most meaningful?  Simply finding ourselves desperately needing prayers, support, and help can be stressful for some (not calling myself out or anything) in and of itself.  It leaves me that much more inspired to pay all this grace forward.

Like I mentioned earlier, we have experienced graciousness from all directions- strangers, acquaintances, friends, nearest and dearest friends, and family.  In the past, I have found myself holding back from reaching out to strangers and acquaintances for fear that I am being too intrusive.  I have learned from experience, though, there are things strangers and acquaintances can do that can be every bit as inspiring and supportive as the those acts that come from the nearest and dearest of friends.  I have also realized that the relationship we have with those in need determines how we are called to reach out with our acts of grace.   The more intimate and established our relationships with others , the more immediate, committed, and involved our acts of grace need to be in order to have the most impact on aching, troubled souls. 

I just want to share some thoughts about the graciousness that has uplifted our hearts and souls the past few months in hopes that it will inspire you in some way to pass it on...

So, what does grace look like in our daily lives?  We have felt its warmth in the most unexpected ways.  Grace is in the kind of hug that only mom can give when she drops everything to be there when you need her the most.  Grace is a heartfelt prayer spoken aloud over the phone by a long distance friend.  Grace is a spa-worthy pedicure at your bedside done with tender, loving care by your very own sister.  Grace is the family who holds your hands and bends over backwards at all hours so you don't have to go it alone.  Grace is a nanny whom you know was sent from above and brings sunshine with her each day.  Grace is a dear aunt's weekly phone calls, full of compassion, celebration and hope that come from her deep-seeded faith.  Grace is texts from your sister-in-law to celebrate all of your milestones.  Grace is cards of encouragement from complete strangers.  Grace is in delicious meals you do not have to cook.  Grace is in emails to let you know others are thinking of you.  Grace is in some of your favorite music put together on homemade cds from those who know you best.  Grace is a basket left on your front porch filled with fun distractions for all five senses.  Grace is a group of people who come together just to meet some of your needs.  Grace is a marathon mile someone runs in your honor.  Grace is play dates for your children, whose world has been turned topsy-turvy.  Grace is a busy mom who finds time to clean your bathroom and do some of your Christmas shopping to help save your sanity.  Grace is casual visits to catch up with long time buddies.  Grace is good news, despite the odds.  Our list goes on beyond the most carefully chosen words...

Grace is love beyond anything we could ever deserve or possibly repay.  Grace just shines in and makes reality a little bit easier to handle.  Grace is a person who walks in your shoes, if only for a minute, to anticipate your needs before you can even process them.  Grace is not in the emptiness of spoken words but the fullness of acting on thoughtfulness.  On that note, grace is not asking what you can do, but in just making the time to do what God calls you to do.  Grace is a steady rainbow of prayers and action near and far, providing peace and strength in the middle of a storm.

On a side note...It will be no surprise to you, now, to know why we have decided to name our bundle of heavenly joy, Gracen.  He is not even here yet, and he has strengthened our faith, refreshed our spirits, and inspired us to be active vessels of God's grace.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Good News!

"Mommy, when I grow up, I'll get bigger like you, right?  My butt will grow bigger like your butt has grown bigger, right?"  
--Straight from the mouth of one of my precious children, who shall remain nameless, after noticing my belly isn't the only expanding body part since I became pregnant.
Day #120, now on modified bed rest...I just have to share the good news.  The doctors are amazed at my healing and progress, and I can now move around the house for an hour, total, a day.  Some would call this a small progression from bed rest to house arrest.  I call it a giant step towards freedom and Independence.  Who knew that could be so exhilarating?  The baby is hanging in there and putting up with me.  We could not be more grateful at our house!   Go, baby, go!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bed Rest Top 10

"Do you miss the bups Mommy?  I miss the bups."    -Recent words out of the mouth of my three year old.
Children have such a way with words, don't they?  My little boy's words are so simple, but so full of love and meaning.  For those of you who are wondering what "bups" are, that is what my little boy says when he wants me to pick him up and hold him.  He came into my bathroom the other day while I was putting on my makeup, snuggling his favorite bear to his face.  He looked up at me with those big brown, long-lashed eyes, and let me know what was on his mind.  Clearly, it is the simplest things he misses the most since I have been put on strict bed rest.  And, I don't think he could have said it better.  He's right.  "Bups" are the kinds of things that should matter the most, all the time.  It is just way too easy to take the jewels of simplicity for granted when we have them sparkling in front of us every day.

I think God must have decided I really needed a break or a wake up call to stop and smell the roses.  Today is day #103 on bed rest, and I still have 13 weeks to go before our precious bun in the oven will be considered fully cooked.  Bed rest for a girl like me, who has never been good at sitting still, can be a much dreaded nightmare.  After crying, worrying, and protesting, it occurred to me that I am living a once in a lifetime opportunity.  These are my doctors' orders.  I have been told to do nothing.  How many people are lucky enough to get to do nothing, guilt free, AND still have their health in tact? 

That brings me to thinking about my top 10 bed resting blessings...

10.  A bed staycation.  Basically, I get an inarguable excuse to be lazy on purpose.  It's an art, really, and no one can be mad at me for it.  I am just following doctors' orders.  In fact, some people even feel sorry for me, which can have many advantages, especially when it comes to my husband. 

9.  Catch up time for living, life, and culture.  I have all of this new found time...time to soak in movies, books, blogs, and other forms of social media and networking.  I even have time for all those phone calls I've been meaning to make but haven't gotten around to just yet.  Oh, and did I mention that I have played, and gotten quite good at, some of my son's favorite video games?  Yes, it feels good to be a kid sometimes!

8.  Same shoes, new feet.  My husband has been forced to fit his big daddy, bread-winning feet in my little, stay at home mommy shoes day in and day out and take off running.  He now knows that it's no cake walk in my shoes, and my shoes come with many "hats."  On top of his daddy duties, my husband is learning to be a nurse, a babysitter, a maid, a teacher, a disciplinarian, a mediator, a house manager, a taxi driver, a cook, a social coordinator, and a personal shopper just to name few.  With new shoes, it would be easy for him to run away, but he's jumping in and stepping up.  I love him for that.     

7.  Simple abundance.  I appreciate my life.  Instead of sweating the small stuff like errand running, clothes washing, and house cleaning, to name a few of my many smalls stuffs, I am loving the big stuff.  Not only that, I realize that the small stuff is circumstantial and inconsequential to being happy at the end of the day.  The big stuff, ironically coming in packages of all sizes, is certain and unshakable under all of life's possible circumstances.   

6.  Help.  I have been forced to learn to graciously accept help.  For me that means letting go of the self-reliant stubbornness that I usually find myself holding onto so tightly.  The truth is, allowing others to help, opens a door for letting down my guard and being vulnerable and humble. 

5.  True friends and fabulous family.  My true friends and fabulous family shine through in their random, but deliberate and thoughtful acts of kindness.  They hurt, struggle, cry, smile, laugh, and celebrate with me, making these uncertain days a little less scary and a lot more comfortable.  Our relationships are stronger because we are sharing in this experience. 

4.  The still perspective.  Instead of being a part of the rat race, I am forced to sit still as the world around me keeps going.  Things look differently when you are still and everything else is moving.  I have an invitation to make "stillness" a part of my everyday life, even when I am not confined to the bed. Granted, I am getting it in rather large doses right now, but I think making time to be still is a necessity if I really want to hear and know what The Man Upstairs has in store for me.

3.  Prayer power.  I am living proof of the power of prayer.  I have always been an extremely private person, not one to share much about my personal life.  This is all part of my obsession to be self-sufficient.  This pregnancy has changed all of that.  First we were told that the baby might not make it through the night, and he did.  Next, we were told that he might not make it through the next few weeks, and he did.  Then, we were told that even if the baby makes it, he and I are at risk for serious health issues.  I did not know how to sleep at night with that uncertainty constantly looming over me.  But, guess what?  I did sleep.  I am sleeping because I asked everyone I know and even people I don't know to pray for us.  And here I am at 24 weeks pregnant, 103 days of bed rest, and the baby is looking good and so am I.  That's not to say we are out of the woods, but we have defied our doctors' logic to this point.  That's the power of prayer.  So if you are one of those prayer warriors that have helped us along the way, THANK YOU!  You are keeping us going. 

2.  The Takeover.  There is nothing scarier to a parent than hearing that your baby's life and health are at risk.  I am in the middle of one of those life situations that proves I am not in control here.  I could worry myself sick each day, but that is not healthy, nor will it make the situation better.  When things in life get so overwhelming, the only thing we can do is let go, and just trust God to completely take over.  It is almost counter intuitive, but it's true.  God is in charge anyway.  No matter how things turn out, I believe God is good and full of love.  Whatever happens will be full of purpose and part of the hand-painted, big picture God is creating for me.

1.  My little miracle.  No matter how you look at it, every child in this world is a miracle.  So many things have to happen just right for a child to end up in the hands of his parents.  I have said so many times that there really is no better gift in life than holding your baby for the first time, made by the hands of God and entrusted to you.  It is truly divine.  So, I can do bed rest for as long as I need to in the hopes of getting to hold my new, precious, thriving miracle at the end of this journey.  It will be so worth it.