Thursday, September 25, 2014

holding tight to love.

 When I wrote the anniversary blog post a few days ago I was feeling very lovey dovey. Life was good and I was declaring our love. A few short hours later, after the post school craziness and the dinnertime madness, I wasn't feeling a lot of warm fuzzies... particularly towards this man.
After some heated moments Mark joked and asked me if I wanted to rewrite my blog post. I didn't find it as humorous as he did. The truth is I often get tested on the words I write. I was declaring our love for one another and hours later I find myself on the other side of the couch glaring at him wondering where those glowing words were because all I felt was disappointment.
What changed?


I feel like a lot of our fights and frustrations stem from the expectations we carry for each other. These pictures were taken from our vacation this summer where we kept finding ourselves stumbling into arguments about the stupidest things. Halfway through the week we both recognized the expectations we had for each other and were able to apologize and have a great week. But it wasn't after some messy frustrating moments.

We both have high expectations in life and for each other and it is learning to give each other and ourselves grace and lots of it. And also communicating with each other what is going on. That is huge. 

Sometimes we stumble and fight and put expectations on each other. 
And sometimes my chest feels like it could burst with the love I have for this man.

Some days it feels like a roller coaster with all the emotions...

But I think that is love.
And I am glad to be on the ride with him.  

I am holding tight to love.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

twelve years.

"A perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other."

 Last Sunday marked twelve years of marriage...
Twelve years since I donned a dress and veil and walked down the aisle as a bride. Twelve years of saying "I do" over and over. Twelve years of being this guy's girl. Twelve years of love.

 It's been a crazy twelve years with lots of twists and turns. But I am learning all good stories read that way. And I believe we are writing a good story.
 It's far from perfect but that's kind of what makes it good. Like this picture that Sarah is photo bombing. It is not perfect but oh so real life.
 It's crazy how I love this man more and more every year. The struggles and triumphs over the last decade have tested our love and have made it stronger. I really cannot imagine any one else I would want to do life with or raise these crazy kids with.
 Our anniversary fell on a weekend that Mark had double header weddings which didn't leave much time for celebrating. Sunday morning Mark had a few hours before he had to leave for his second wedding. We drank coffee on the porch and looked through old photo albums laughing at how much we looked like babies on our wedding day (we must be getting old!) We talked about how much life has changed and hopes for the future.
As we looked through the pictures I had the random idea to put on my dress, which just hangs in my closet, and take some pictures with the kids. The result is messy, chaotic pictures of just that... me in my wedding dress with the kids. It's not pinterest worthy but real life and perhaps a new tradition.

Everyone was doing everything but looking at the camera and smiling. But this might be one of my favorites.

Dressed in white twelve years ago I would have never imagined all of this. Some days it feels crazy but recently I was reminded that this is exactly what I had hoped for. I was talking to some one about what they wanted to be when they grew up. I stopped to answer the question for myself and already knew the answer. I had some fleeting career aspirations like being a teacher and artist or writer but I always wanted to be a mom and wife. Sometimes in the craziness I can forgot that I am exactly where I always wanted to be and for that I am grateful.

Twelve years, 9 moves, 5 kids, 5 babies in heaven and lots of other twists and turns have added some wrinkles and stretch marks along with some character, wisdom and beauty too. I am continuing to learn to give myself grace and not be my own worst critic.

And these might be my favorites of my Hopey girl wearing my veil and a toothless grin. Oh my can't even imagine this girl walking down the aisle....

 We did eventually get to do a little celebrating with a motorcycle ride through Chester county and an evening out. I like being this guy's date! 

Happy Anniversary Mark! Here's to our perfectly imperfect lives and the love we have for each other. I pray we can celebrate many more years together until we are old and gray! :)

 "Perhaps it is our imperfections that make us so perfect for one another."

~Jane Austen

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Eleven years ago today he made me a mother. With his birth came a whole new world. It soon became obvious that I had a lot to learn. I vacillated between "Oh my word why didn't anyone tell me it would be this hard" to "Oh my word I never knew I could have this much love for someone". 
I still find myself at that place today. 

This summer I could feel that we are on the brink. We have dipped our big toe into the waters of the teenage years. We are in the preteen stage and many days this summer I found myself saying "Oh my word why didn't anyone tell me it would be this hard" and other days watching him build, create, make breakfast or love on his little sister would fill my heart to overflowing with love. 
Eleven years later I am still learning. In the midst of a heated moment this summer I reminded Moses that I have never had an eleven year old before. We are learning and figuring this out together. And we both need to give each other grace for the mistakes that we are going to make along the way. Even though there has been some freak out moments as I think about the new season we are entering into the greater part of me is excited to watch him blossom and grow into the young man that he is becoming.

I love you bud. 

Happy Birthday! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

new beginnings and a fresh start.

"There is a time for everything and a season for every purpose under heaven."

~Ecclesiastes 3:1

The smell of new sneakers. Sharpened pencils. Empty tablets of lined paper waiting to be filled. Unused crayons and bright colored scissors in clean pencil boxes. Fresh beginnings. 
And a brand new start.

As a kid I loved back to school. I was always sad that summer was over but I looked forward to being with my friends and learning new things. I loved back to school shopping and picking out my first day of school outfit, laying it out on the floor beside my bed. I loved organizing my back pack, putting everything just so, my anticipation mounting for all the new things ahead.

As a mom I am now watching my kids take part in these very things. Today was the first day of school for four of my children. Moses started 6th grade, Sarah 4th, Silas 2nd and Hope afternoon kindergarten. Four kids at the same school. Four excited, nervous, happy kids ready for a new adventure.
My emotions however felt all over the place. Every start to the school year means my children are getting one year older and each year it seems I am adding one more kid to the flock that is leaving the nest. Sure last week I was pulling out my hair calling Mark in utter frustration that the children were fighting, yelling, making messes, hurting each other, back talking (fill in the blank) but now I am a mess that they are gone and the house is quiet. Did we make the most of the summer? Did I seize the opportunities to connect with them? 

 The kids were all smiles and I was too as we took their first day of school photos in their brand new sneakers and filled backpacks. But as we waved good bye at the bus stop I broke down into tears. I felt guilty, sad, and relieved all at once. I was looking forward to having space to think my own thoughts again, to connect with the two little girls and excited for the three oldest to go off and experience new things. But I also felt guilty and plagued with doubts. As I unraveled my mess of emotions (with the help of my sister-in-law, mom and husband) I came to the conclusion that I am normal. Every mom goes through this range of emotions that sometimes feels like a roller coaster. 
It is a journey of letting go.

 I am recognizing how much pressure I put on myself to get it perfect but this mothering thing, it's a journey. There were days, hours, moments this summer that I loved being a mom and having my kids home. There were days, hours, moments where I screamed and shouted and wondered why in the world I have five kids.  
There were days we got to each others hearts in real connection and days we got on each other's nerves.
There were hours of quiet peaceful play and times I was counting down the hours to bedtime.
There were moments of laughter and moments of tears.

This is normal. This is motherhood. 
 But I pray as we say good bye to summer and welcome a new season they will remember the fun memories of summer, the imperfect moments that make us family. 
I pray they will know they are loved. 

 And maybe I don't get a new backpack and sneakers and sharpened pencils but it is a fresh start for me too. And beneath the tears is anticipation for this new season. I am looking forward to quiet afternoons to write, think, and breathe. I am excited to spend time with the two little girls especially Hope as this is her last year of being home in the mornings. I also look forward to getting back to the gym. And I am hoping that some space apart for everyone will bring the kids closer together.

 I feel anticipation for the new beginnings that come with the change of season.
 Here's to fresh starts...

So long summer. Hello school year! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Break Up

Our relationship started a little over two years ago when Mark surprised me with an iphone. I had always protested against such things but soon surprised myself by how much I liked having it. What I liked most was having a camera at my disposal at all times and the second thing I really enjoyed having was Instagram. I liked Instagram because it was a creative outlet for me as stay at home mom and also another way to document our lives. I would often scroll down through my feed reminding myself that the days are long but the years are short and the memories are sweet. Instagram was also a fun way to stay connected with friends and peer into other peoples lives. As a life long people watcher, Instagram feed my curiosity and love of hearing others stories. 

However over the last little while I have noticed a shift for me. I have found myself coming away from "catching up" on Istagram feeling restless. Subtly I will find myself comparing myself to the lives of those on those little squares. I also have noticed myself feeling more distracted which then makes me more irritable. I find myself feeling the need to check in throughout the day. I have felt like my brain has been on overload at times with all the information that is coming at me. I love the creativity and the photography aspect of instagram but I notice that if I post on instagram then I often do not blog. I saw someone write on their profile "instagram ate my blog" and it is true. If I Instagram it satisfies just enough of that itch to express myself but only just scratches the surface as far as photography and writing go.

All that to say,  I have felt at war at times recently with loving it yet also hating it. Over the weekend I felt like maybe me and instagram needed to take a break from each other. A break up, if you will. 
As I thought about saying good bye I got a little bit anxious. How will I keep in the loop? How will I stay connected with so and so? What if I miss a good yard sale or a baby being born or someone getting married? What if I miss something really important that only is posted on Instagram?!!

Silly? Maybe... but all very real thoughts running through my head. So I was back and forth all weekend on whether or not to delete instagram off my phone. The fact that it was even a battle should say something but I enjoy it and didn't want to do something just out of a religious heaviness.

Saturday afternoon I came across this quote,

"This summer put your phone away for a few days. Make some memories that no one knows about. Make some memories that are just yours."

okay that was loud.

And then yesterday in my email inbox came an article from Ann Voskamp, 
"How to Focus in an age of Distraction"...all about getting distracted by technology.

So after reading it I pulled the trigger and said good bye. I broke up with Instagram. Sorry Instagram...It's me, not you. I am thinking it is just a "we need our space for the summer" thing  but we shall see... :)

This morning I found myself going for that familiar icon on my phone only for it not to be there. It reminded me how much I need this break, this space to just breathe and be present.

I am hoping to learn to use a real camera as in not just on automatic, something that I haven't done because Mark takes all the pictures. I am wanting to write more on the blog. But mostly want to be less distracted. 

Here's to summer and making memories...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Sing so everybody can hear...

I stood at the sink and looked up from the dishes. Out the window I could see her in the garden, pen and paper in hand writing down the stories in her head. Seeing her out there, sitting under the arch, pushed on something inside of me. It made me feel happy and free. I ran outside and snapped a picture.

As I walked back to the house I pondered why it had struck me so deeply. It dawned on me that she was reminding me of myself. Pictures of me propped up in a tree reading and writing came to mind. It brought back those carefree feelings of being a third grader. When I was in third grade I wanted to be either an artist or a writer, the same professions my daughter aspires to be. My parents even signed me up for a writing class when I was nine and I can still remember sitting at a desk in the dusty attic typing stories on the typewriter, imagining my name in print on my very own book. 

But time has a way of stealing some of those aspirations away. And seeing her there in the garden, young and free, reminded me of who I was called to be. She awakened longings in my heart. She made me want to climb a tree and write or create some art. She reminded me of the importance of doing those things that make my heart feel alive.

Days later I found this poem sitting on her desk, challenging me again to write and create. 
Thanks Sarah for being who you are!

Sing So Everybody Can Hear, by Sarah Buckwalter

What is that sound, so peaceful, quiet and soft.
Whatever that is, don't stop playing,
That's the sound of music.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

choose adventure.

"An adventurous life does not necessarily mean climbing mountains, swimming with sharks or jumping off cliffs. It means risking yourself by leaving a little piece of you behind in all those you meet along the way."


I woke up to the noise of pots and pans clanging from downstairs in the kitchen. I rolled over to see my husband laying beside me. It dawned on me then that it was mother's day and the kids were probably downstairs unattended making me breakfast. This could be interesting. Mark and I laid in bed talking for a few more minutes before I ventured downstairs to check on the progress. The menu was eggs, bacon and homemade donuts, a very ambitious menu to say the least. They were mixing up some gooey looking batter for the donuts, a recipe they had found online that not even I would tackle.  In that moment I had a choice. I could choose to freak out over a messy kitchen or embrace the chaos and the adventure of my children making me mother's day breakfast. We did end up of vetoing the donuts and Mark helped them finish the eggs and bacon but I was blessed with the breakfast they made me, mess and all.

As I was helping to clean up my mother's day feast we were talking about what we should do that day. The weather forecast was warm and sunny, a glorious day.  Out of the blue Mark suggested a spontaneous beach trip to Ocean City, New Jersey. My heart leaped at the idea. That would be fun. I love the beach! But then my practical mom mode kicked in and I started to calculate the amount of work, money and time it would cost me to do this day trip. The voices inside my head were at war with each other, the adventurous Heather versus the practical responsible mother. I was able to push past my head to my heart and choose adventure and had one of the best mother's day ever. It was seriously a great day with those that I love.

I am recognizing one of my biggest hurdles to choosing adventure is counting the cost. I too often stop and calculate how much work, how much money or how tiring something will be and then talk myself out of it. This is a joy stealer and an adventure killer. Yes, I am a mother of five and yes going anywhere requires a lot in this season but was the trip worth the mounds of sandy towels and bathing suits and clean up I had to do the next day? I would say yes! It was worth it for the look on Eden's face of pure delight as she ate an icecream cone on the boardwalk. It was worth it watching the boys dig up and count thirty sand crabs and seeing Sarah and Hope come to life in the ocean (the very frigid and cold ocean). It was worth it to drive three hours with the man I love listening to music, holding hands and talking about life. It was worth it to put my feet in the sand, sit overlooking the vast ocean and inhale deep breathes. It was worth the time, the energy and the money. It was worth it for the pictures and memories and moments spent together.

Not counting the cost is something I want to get better at because adventure is not just a spontaneous beach trip. I tend to think of adventure as traveling or doing something crazy. But in this season of life adventure might look different than traveling the world. Adventure might be letting the kids try that hard sounding donut recipe, embracing the mess and chaos in the kitchen (this is harder than it sounds). Adventure is going to that class at the gym that pushes me out of my comfort zone every.single.time and still going back because the feeling at the end is awesome (minus the couple of times I cried).  Adventure is letting the kids build a fort in the backyard however hill billy it might look. Adventure is getting on the back of the motorcycle again even though I am scared to death. Adventure is striking up that conversation with a stranger at the gym. Adventure is doing something new not knowing if I am going to fail or not.

I want more adventure in my life. 

Writing this is scary because I know I will be challenged on it. That's the way it goes. 
Saying yes to the adventure will be saying yes to the mess and chaos and letting go of what it will cost me (my time, my pride, my money, my ideals). But I know adventure is worth it. 

"Life is either a daring adventure of nothing at all."
~Helen Keller

"Adventure may hurt you but monotony will kill you"

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didnt' do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
 Explore. Dream. Discover." 
~Mark Twain

Monday, May 5, 2014

best sisters.

these two. they make my heart happy. i love watching them be sisters and friends or as hopey calls them "best sisters forever".

"A sister is a forever friend".

the day i confronted my fear.

When the Lord puts his finger on something in my life it starts surfacing everywhere...on the radio, in a book, through my children and even on a date night.
Mark and I had planned a much needed date night last Saturday. I was looking forward to getting a break from the children and spending some alone time with my man. So when he got out his motorcycle Saturday morning and started cleaning it I was confused. The truth is I have posed smiling on the bike for a photo shoot and have ridden once around the block in the almost six years he has owned it. I have always had some good excuse while I could not ride, like "I'm pregnant" or "we don't have a sitter" but truth be told I was terrified of the thing.
So when Mark told me that he wanted to go for a ride as part of a date I did what any one who has been wrestling with fear does. Recognize it as God's method of dealing with fear in my life? No! I threw a temper tantrum that would have made a two year old jealous. 
"I am not riding and you cannot make me" foot stomp and tears to emphasize my point.
Mark gently reminded me that my children were watching me.

I didn't care. I knew I was being irrational and I knew God had been confronting fear at every turn. I even wanted to ride just get over my fear but yet it felt easier to just watch from the sidelines rather than get on the bike and ride.
After some time to think it over and some encouragement from my friend Amber whose husband also has a triumph motorcycle and was going to ride with us, I decided to go for it.

As the time for our ride got closer I had butterflies in my stomach as if I was getting ready to go on a first date! We met up with Tyler and Amber and set off for a ride through the country. When I let go of the fear of dying and falling right off the back of the bike I started to relax a little and enjoy the view. I was still afraid of turning my head too far for fear of throwing something off but it was a different way of looking at the landscape than I was accustomed to and I was on an adventure outside of my comfort zone. It was strangely freeing.

There were times on the ride like when we we briefly rode on the highway and riding home in the dark where I literally needed to confront my fears out loud by screaming "Jesus" and singing "you make me brave"loudly into my helmet to drown out the clatter of my thoughts. But as I stopped focusing on the fear I could actually enjoy the ride I was on. (I am sure there is a ton of parallels to life in that sentence).

I did it and I am proud of myself. I confronted my fear. I tried something new. And I may even ride again. 

"You make me brave. You call me out beyond the shore into the waves. You make me brave. No fear can hinder now the love that made a way.

-Bethel Music
"Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway."
-John Wayne