Rivers And Roads {a little on grief}

Last night we so enjoyed our date night.  It was way over do.  Great friends.  Music.  Humidity induced sweat.  No children.  Good food.  I even got to see my cousin Emily and her fiancé Adam…we always run into them at concerts.  It was a good night.  We went to a free concert in Nashville…two artists being Wild Cub and The Head and The Heart.  We love music.  Josh Kelley, you will be shocked to know, can really jam on a bass if he wants too.

Since Mom died sometimes I have these really emotional moments at concerts.  Sounding a little crazy?!?!?  I remember at a NeedToBreathe concert I cried so hard when they played These Hard Time.  Every morning for 8 days when I pulled into the parking garage at whatever hospital Mom was in, I would put my earbuds in, hit play on my iPod and march through the hospital towards her room with this absolutely blaring in my ears.  It was my anthem.  It was my anthem on Mom’s behalf.

“Give me motivation.  Give me all my hearts desires.  Show me something gorgeous.  Show me till my eyes get tired.  Give me all the drums and show me how to play them loud.  Show me how to move when I can’t feel that you’re around.”

I’m just 3 months out from the 3 year mark of her leaving.  It does get better, but it gets hard in weird ways…in ways you never saw coming.  And actual time changes.  Once I thought three years sounded like a long time, but when dealing with grief…time loses a bit of its weight.  Weeks felt like minutes.  Months felt like weeks.  And years shorten up real quick.  You think to yourself “Surely at the one year mark my heart will be healed” and at least for me I found that not the case at all.  Things just changed.  Around the 2 year mark I began to notice the differences in the places I had been in my healing…the points God had brought me through…from point A to B to C to D and so on.  He had been ever so slowly healing and moving me…sometimes me going on my own with His nudges and sometimes He had to just carry me.  It’s a hard journey.  One which is still not easy, but it gets better…more manageable and I’ve learned to dwell in thankfulness for where God has taken me and grown me and healed me, the hope I have in Him, where I’ve seen unmistakable true beauty in the ashes, instead of camping out in the self pity and as if the world owes me something for my heart ache.  I’ve learned gratitude and compassion and empathy and deep thankfulness.  Do I still have bad days?  Yes.  Absolutely yes.  It’s going to happen.

We’ve had a few teary moments lately with sadness about school and changes in our house and missing people.  One night Harper was weepy and I laid beside her in her bottom bunk and asked what was wrong.  She began to cry and tell me, “I don’t remember how to to get to Grammy’s house.  I used to know and now I can’t remember.”  This is the grief territory were in now.  This place where time is passing and now you realize 3 years has gone back to being a long amount of time when someone you love is missing all which is taking place in that time frame.  We’re forgetting and things are becoming foggy and hazy.  I spend more time than I’d like to admit trying to remember exactly what she was like.  In some instances she seems clear as day and in others like a dream, not real.  So we’re working on supporting and loving and reminding.  I laid in Harper’s bed and with my pointer finger in the air drew her the map to Grammy’s house…talking the ride out, noting landmarks along the way and describing her house with the sloped down hill driveway they ran down to reach the Easter eggs she hid in her  backyard the last Easter we spent with her, to the weeping cherry tree beside her front porch with the deep red front door.

Last night when The Head and The Heart started playing their song Rivers and Roads I had one of those moments…those sentimental moments.  In a sea of strangers on a plot of grass in the Tennessee humidity around some of my favorite people I sang in my heart and soaked up the moment.  I listened as the crowd sang and for a moment just closed my eyes tight.

“Rivers and roads, rivers and roads, rivers till I reach you.”

And I thanked God for where he’s brought me…for not leaving me where I was, for where He’s brought our family and how He keeps after us…taking, moving and carrying us from place to place…reaching after us…for healing and reminding and comforting.  I thanked Him for the assurance I will see her face and hug her neck again.  I know another year from now I will look back in gratitude again for how He’s changed me yet again.  He is so good.  And merciful.  And hope-filled.  And love.  And does not leave us where we are.

So You See…

Tonight Josh Kelley and I have this thing called a date night which we haven’t been on in what seems like forever because of this other thing called life and a whole little quiver of small wild humans, so I’m pretty dang excited.  While making my to-do list for today I thought of some random things I would like to share with you.  They may seem deep and really knowledgeable and if you feel intimated by our family’s grandeur just embrace it :)

*I’ve decided I should get myself a new notepad.  More times than I would like to admit I awake and have my hand reminder tattooed directly on my face.  Yesterday my taxes were do.  Got it!  It’s also incredibly awkward taking such a close up selfie of yourself.  I chose not to make eye contact.

*One day this week for lunch I may have combined 3 sets of leftovers into one bowl for my meal.  And it was delicious.  Some of these were also leftovers from last week, but I feel like we really under estimate the shelf life of leftovers.  Plus I microwaved the crap out of it and feel confident that killed anything living I did not want to consume…no mold and no funky smell = you can totally still eat it.  I told Josh this last night and it kind of grossed him out.  Pansy.  I even made him guess which three leftovers I combined…like a fun game.

*This morning as Solomon put his shoes on for school we had this conversation:

Sol: Mom, you are never going to believe what this kid did at school?

Me: (thinking the worst) What?  You gotta tell me if I’m not going to believe it.

Sol:  While we were eating lunch he threw up.

Me:  That is so gross.  Poor kid.  What did you do?

Sol:  Well I didn’t even notice, but I was wondering “What’s that all over his chicken?”

I die.  Kids are gross.  Puke is even grosser.

*I want to make these Texas Sheet Cake Cupcakes like right about now.  I am a lush for some chocolate cake and these look crazy good.  Might try to pull these off this weekend.

(picture source)

*Speech therapy is the bomb.  I’ll be honest in saying I kind of hate doing it twice a week, but we love our therapists and Amon works so hard and it is paying off.  It makes me so teary how far he has come and how he’s just making these leaps and bounds.  Two nights ago I leaned into his bed and gave him his goodnight kiss and said “I love you Amon” just like I do every night, but this time he said “I yuh you” back and I absolutely cried.  Right there, my head pressed against his head, those were the words my heart has been longing to hear from this child.  He had used the potty right before bed so he got a chocolate chip and in my tears I said, “You smell like chocolate.”  And he just nodded his head “yes”.  A moment forever engraved in my mind and heart.  Early intervention and therapists of all shapes and sizes are the BEST!!!

*To follow up that sweet sappy note, next week Amon starts Mother’s Day Out and you guys it will be the first time in 7 years I will be alone…in our house…in the middle of the week…for the day.  No kids at all.  I am dying.  The possibilities are endless.

(Sometimes we eat our lunch in the kitchen floor just because we can.)

*And solely for housekeeping reasons:  If you’ve sent me an email or message using the “Contact Laura” button at the top and I did not reply please know I did not get your message.  I reply to all emails I receive…sometimes it takes me a few days, but I do reply.  I have been having some issues with the button, so please try re-sending it or just email me at pitterpatterart at gmail dot com.

You guys rock.  Thank you for stopping by.  Thank you for reading.  Hope your day is the best.

Happy Thursday!

And So We Bake

If you’ve visited my blog only a handful of times you probably still know how madly in love I am with sweets and particularly baking.  I’ve always loved sweet things…I have a killer sweet tooth, but have not always been a baker.  I was talking to my cousin Rebecca a while back and she made the statement that she thought my baking was a coping mechanism.  And I think she is absolutely right.  I started baking after Mom died.  It was this weird quirky coping mechanism and like a strange form of therapy.  I also quickly realized I could not keep all these baked goods around because I would indeed eat them all, so we gave them away.  I decided baked goods could change the world.  Who doesn’t like a surprise cookie?!?!?

So my heart has been pulled and worried and overwhelmed and straight up sad lately and in turn we bake.  The big kids love to help, but yesterday it was just me and Amon.  He has always had a thing for my kitchen aid mixer and might have been busted swiping a taste test from around the upper edge.

We tried two new recipes:  Mini Berry Tarts and Oreo Cheesecake Cookies and both are awesome.  Totally ones I will make again and again.  You should make them both.  Like right now.  Josh Kelley is not a big sweets guy, but he kind of gushed over these.  Made my day that he liked them so much.

After school we bought some cheap tupperware at Dollar General and packaged up treats.  Then we did some delivering…neighbors, friends and even today our Wednesday speech therapist is getting a little extra “Hey, thank you for your hard work.”

Side Note:  While making a delivery to one of our neighbors Hudson decided to stay inside with Amon while Sol, Harper and I ran across the street.  As I was standing on our neighbors porch knocking on their door I saw Amon emerge from the house onto our front porch.  Before I get emails about what an irresponsible Mom I am :) Amon was still on our porch and he would have had to come down all the stairs and through our yard before reaching the street and I was watching him.  But as I am standing there I did yell at the top of my lungs, “Amon!  Amon get back in that house.” (imagine with a southern accent because I have one)  And our neighbors never answered the door.  So maybe don’t yell like a crazy person at your toddler across the street while standing on your neighbors front porch trying to deliver baked goods.  Sorry Zandrea if I scared you and sounded completely insane.  End Side Note

Now go and bake.  Or even buy some baked goods.  And then share them.  Or just write someone a note.  Tell someone you appreciate them or their hard work.  Keep your eyes open and look for those people who could use a pick me up.  Just this morning in the car rider line at school I thought, “Bless these teachers who do car rider line every.single.day.  They are easily earning more jewels for their crown.  They need a cookie.”

Happy Wednesday!

Feels Like Too Much

I didn’t really want to blog yesterday and even as I sit here I don’t really want to write today.  My mind and heart have been crazy overwhelmed.  I don’t know how to type my thoughts and feelings out through these keys.  I know Satan loves to get in my mind and a hold of my emotions…convince me the world is too much…too hard, too sad, too overwhelming, too difficult for my heart to grasp and my mind to navigate.  Right now I feel that.  It’s heavy and weighted and the words just fail me.

I rarely am up to date on the news, but with all that’s going on in our world right now how could I not be.  The cries are too loud and the voices are too personal.  I think about how we have the freedom to worship as we wish.  Never have I ever feared worshipping Jesus.  The thought is so far removed from my mind.  What a privilege we have and how I absolutely take this for granted.  The world can feel too dark sometimes.

I think about raising my children…two who are dark brown skinned Ethiopians…and how I feel so ill equipped sometimes to be their momma.  I sat on our couch last night and just stared at Josh and cried.  Sometimes the wrong voices in the this world try and drown us out.  How do we do this in the world we are living in?  How do we teach all of our children differently than what the world wants to teach them?  How do we show them everyone should be loved and cared for and cherished despite color of skin, background, where they live, where they’ve been, what they’ve done or where they’re headed.  No margins.  Jesus came for everyone and created each of us in His image.  Each beautifully made.  The end.

I don’t pin myself as a worrier.  My mom was a huge worrier.  Oh how she worried.  Some lessons you wish you didn’t learn from your parents, but this is one my mom “taught” me well.  I saw the worry and anxiety she had and she hated it.  She fought Satan against it.  I’ve even got a sparrow tattooed on my forearm for this very reason.  His eye in on the sparrow…”Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?”  Matthew 6:26

My heart has been overwhelmed with worry and anxiety and sadness lately.  This morning my Bible reading was on Mathew 6…the whole Do Not Worry section.  I’ve honestly read this a lot through out my life.  I remember my mom reciting it.  Today I took hold of the very end…what we are to do instead of worrying…”But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.”  His love, His commandments, His heart, His desires.  Go after the things of God over this world.  This is so hard on certain days and when things just absolutely crush your heart and the world seems too big and hard and unfair…like Satan is winning.  Today I am pushing towards seeking His kingdom and His righteousness.  Begging God to do His thing and teach me how He can use me and you and us together.

And because I always feel like other people say things way better than I ever could…3 good reads.

The Stanley Clan: Reframing

Flower Patch Farmgirl:  I Know A Boy

Jamie Ivey: Let Us Be Light

I Listed, I Conquered

This type of day never happens.  Never I say.  Never.  I made a list last night and as I type with the click of “publish” I will mark the last item off my To Do list with authority and a black blunt Sharpie marker.  Listed in no particular order.

Unload/Load Dishwasher.  Check.

Devotional.  Check.

Cook chicken.  Check.

Make dinner…5 ingredient white chicken chili thank you very much. (I do only 4 cups of chicken stock and add a can of black beans.)  Check.

Speech therapy.  Check.

Amazon order.  Check.

Package orders.  Check.

Post office.  Check.

Workout.  Check.

Podcast with Jamie Ivey.  Check.  (I may have made myself sound like a crazy OCD lunatic…and cried a tish.  But more on that later.)

Shower.  Awesomely checked.

Blog.  About to check.

Tomorrow I’ll probably fall flat on my face and is sure to be a giant let down. :)  Until then, it’s time to get started on orders.  The creative work which fills my mind and takes over my thoughts far too many times during the day.  Time to pop those creative knuckles.  And I could not be more excited about it.

Hope you enjoyed your weekend.  Happy Monday!

Friday’s Ramble

Amon and I just got home from dropping the big kids off at school.  So far we are loving our new school home.  God keeps confirming in our hearts this is in fact the place for us at this time.  We did have one minor set back in a not so kind worded lady in the lunchroom, but that’s life, so we’re all working through the drama.  A firm reminder to all of us how important our words are…once they have left our mouths we cannot take them back so will we choose to build people up or tear people down?!?!  A good reminder for all of us…children and parents alike.

With the absence of the big kids during our days the house is so quiet.  And honestly Amon is a little lonely.  He spends the first 10 minutes of our return home just wandering around asking where Harper, Hudson and Solomon are.  It’s adorable and pitiful all smashed together.

This morning I get to blog like this:

He misses them.

On the blog agenda for today is simply instagram pictures.  My mind is a little all over the place with a million and one thoughts, so I’m going mindless and simple for today.  Do you have instagram?  Want to follow along?  You can find me at pitterpatterart.

Side Note:   In the time I wrote the above paragraph Amon asked 10 times over, “Dat?” pointing to his own picture.  I replied answering each time the same, “That’s Amon.”  To which he replied with, “Ohhhhhhhh.”  Shocker.  End Side Note.

Okay, back to the task at hand.  Have you guys heard of ACuppaKim‘s mug swap?  If not, you’re missing out.  I didn’t sign up in time last year, so this year I was on it and made it in.  So excited.  I got my mug purchased along with some fun goodies to go with it, packaged and all mailed off this week.  Crossing all fingers and toes my mug makes it in one piece.  I bubble wrapped and added crinkle paper and wrote “fragile” 8 times around the box.  I’m a bit hopeful.

We’re a game family.  Our top games currently are Jenga, Uno, Mancala and Mr. Mouth.  Josh Kelley and myself may be accidentally passing on our competitive nature.

Anytime we have the opportunity to get together with our friends to celebrate anything with no children around is kind of a great night.  I love our kids and I love our friends kids, but I love when we get to talk and connect just us adults…even better as couples.  Last weekend we celebrated the soon arrival of baby Olive with a little couples dinner party.  Adults only.  It was straight up divine.  And our friends Jason and Jessica’s house is amazing!

Tall trees.  Comfy oversized quilt.  Ice cream cones.  And school talk.  Perfection of an afternoon.

These two are killing my heart lately with all their grown-upness.  They are my two most favorite 5-year-olds in all the world.

Have you seen the new Noonday fall line?  Wowzers.  Love it.  I now have a long list of purchases I will be needing to make.  If you want to order something head over to my best friend Ashley’s page and check out the new collection.  She is one rockin’ Noonday ambassador.

Also I’m having a Noonday party in September.  More details to come, but it’s going to be awesome.  Ashley’s driving in from Florida to host my party and is also hosting some more parties for other ladies while she’s in town.  If you’re a local Nashvillian and want to host a party where woman can purchase amazing goods to help empower woman around the world Ashley will be here the 2nd week in September.  Ashley is your girl.  The sweetest.  The nicest.  The most fun and sincere.  The best.  Or if you are a Floridian and want to host a party (depending on where you live in Florida) Ashley is your girl too.  The sweetest.  The nicest.  The most fun and sincere.  The best.  Do you feel the love I have for this lady?!?!?  Do you feel the love I have for this company?!?!?  They are both the real deal, super legit, total world changers.  Shoot her an email at ashleymills.noonday at gmail dot com if you are interested.

And oh the home changes and prep we have been doing around the Kelley casa.  We’re sitting tight, loving on our house and being open to whatever God has planned for us…all 6 of us.  I have had the greatest peace and assurance and have been frequenting Home Depot.  It’s my current home prep jam and the Kelley kids dig it too.

Hope everyone has a crazy good Friday and a wonderful weekend.  Enjoy it.  Peace out!

Every Last One

I’m slightly…and by slightly I mean totally…stuck on Hillsong United’s Zion acoustic album and maybe because A) It takes my mind and heart right back to Nicaragua…the people, the place, our team, Terry & Denise, the whole shebang and B) It tears my heart into shreds, in a good way.

Today I’m stuck right here on the above lyric (and I didn’t have the heart to erase Harper’s message).  He is fighting and fought for us…each heart…every last one…so we could see.  No more darkness, but sight and light and love and acceptance.  Everyone counts.  Everyone matters.  There are no outsiders.  The margins are wiped away.  No fear of the unfamiliar.  And God reigns supreme.  Choosing this today.  To believe it and hold it tight.  And to take God at His promises.

Happy Thursday!

7 Things

Let’s discuss:

1.  Last night I saw this shirt pinned on Pinterest and laughed so hard I cried.  I think it’s because I can relate.  Totally.

2.  While on the subject of Pinterest, my friend Miranda sent me this recipe she found and come on now…chocolate chip cookies and salty potato chips…hold up.  I had to try them.  They were decent, but not my fave.  I mean, there’s not many chocolate chip cookies I’d pass up anyways and I wouldn’t pass these up either, but I had super high hopes, so in the end they were a little disappointing.

3.  Sticking with the theme…I found these Greek Yogurt Zucchini Pancakes last night as well and now I must try them.  Seriously.  Zucchini in our pancakes…we shall see.  I really hope they are deliciously wonderful.

(picture source)

4.  A little bit of work completed.  12×24 Olive canvas and a 4×12 Isaiah 46:4 canvas.  I have some name pillows and buntings to complete this week…if only I could get my back to stop hurting.  Dang you hurt back!  I’m still taking orders, so shoot me a message HERE if you are interested.

5.  You guys this devotional is rocking my world.  LOVE IT…like BIG TIME.  Thanks Meg!

6.  When Harper asks me to craft with her I hate to tell her no, so we usually end up looking around via the internet for easy ideas.  This was one we found and voila…easy craftiness for my crafty, artistic loving child.  So easy.  So cute.  She made a gazillion pictures.

And 7.  Amon had a cardiologist appointment this week and there is nothing quite better than a good report, especially when your cardiologist momentarily scares the crap out of you and they have to do some extra testing only to reveal everything is a-okay after all.  Yah for thorough doctors and good appointments and 5 Guys to celebrate afterwards.  #wordup

7 things.  Boom.

Happy Wednesday!