Thankful for the shattered start


Thanksgiving week started out like this in our house. A shattered back window thanks to a wayward baseball sent us crashing (pun intended) into the holiday season with a tiny bit of shock, and a good amount of laughter.

If you ever need a chance to work on not sweating the small stuff, have your five year old throw a baseball through the car. Works like a charm.

My first thought upon walking outside and seeing the damage was horror. I couldn’t help wonder how much this was going to cost, and as we head into Christmas, unexpected broken windows were not high on my list of “things to throw money at.” As I stood in the driveway, mouth agape, Landon walked up to me, his eyes wide and horrified.

I looked down at him and he broke. “I DID IT!” he wailed. “IT’S ALL MY FAULT!!”

And just like that I realized the window didn’t matter – his fragile five year old heart did. I scooped him up and set him on the back of Lee’s car and hugged hard and tight letting him know that car windows are meaningless and easily repaired. I communicated as much love and forgiveness as I could in that one tight hug, because he needed to feel it. He needed to know that a silly accident would never affect my love for him.

As Lee swept up the broken glass, I comforted my distraught child who felt a world of guilt on his tiny little shoulders, and I was reminded, once again, that my reaction as a mom to these types of accidents has the potential to make or break my children. This is the place where they need to know that they can mess up – they can break windows, kick holes in the wall, knock plates off the table, and stain the carpet, and never be far removed from a hug and the assurance of love.

As we swept up the glass, we showered him with grace. It was an accident. It’s no big deal. We have insurance. All is well. And slowly, we pieced him back together and made him a little more whole.

By the end of the day, the insurance company had come out and replaced the glass at no charge, and the only thing lost was my favorite STL Cardinals sticker. And this one incident sent us into Thanksgiving with grateful, thankful hearts. Thankful for grace, and love and forgiveness. Thankful for a God who lavishes grace on us when we make mistakes, when we accidentally make a mess. Thankful for family and life and children who are healthy enough to throw a ball through a window.

I am so thankful for grace, when it is shown to me, and when I have the wherewithal to slow down and show it. Oddly enough, that broken window set us up for a weekend full of gratitude. Had Landon not shattered that glass, I’m not sure my eyes would have been quite as open to the beauty of a Thanksgiving weekend filled with laughter, with visitors, and with enough grace to cover a lifetime.

I will forever be grateful for that broken window, and for the boy who continually teaches me to love graciously, wholly and fiercely.  

More scenes from Thanksgiving:




Girl cousins

Girl cousins

My aunt and uncle have done missionary work in Jamaica for years. Red is their Jamaican "son," and he fit right in with our crazy crowd.

My aunt and uncle have done missionary work in Jamaica for years. Red is their Jamaican “son,” and he fit right in with our crazy crowd.


Our 2nd Annual Family Kickball Game

Our 2nd Annual Family Kickball Game


The men of the group

The men of the group

The whole crew. 31 family members, plus 5 of our dear friends from St. Louis who recently moved to Boca Raton. How can I not be thankful for this?!

The whole crew. 32 family members, plus 5 of our dear friends from St. Louis who recently moved to Boca Raton. How can I not be thankful for this?!


Day after Thanksgiving. Beach. Perfection.

Day after Thanksgiving. Beach. Perfection.

Pure magic, this boy.

Pure magic, this boy.


Yes, there are.

Yes, there are.

So tell me, friends – How was your Thanksgiving?!


Thanksgiving was for…

























Flirting (ahem…boys!)



























How was your Thanksgiving?

Because we ARE the Griswolds

HEEEEEYYYYY!!!! Welcome to the Griswold Family Thanksgiving!

The turkey is stuffed and in the oven. Lemon cakes are prepped and waiting to be iced. Green Bean Casserole is in the crock pot and there is a dessert in the fridge that involves cut up Granny Smith Apples, frozen snickers chopped in pieces and two tubs of whipped cream.

We’re eating at 1:30 if you’d like to join us.

The house is clean and ready for 31 people to come destroy it, all in the name of family and love, of course. And I? I’m on my seccond cup of coffee.

I fell into bed just before midnight last night only to be awoken at 1:30 by the shrillest, loudest brain melting screech you’ve ever heard. I leapt out of bed with a shriek and all sorts of havoc and confusion ensued.



Me: AY YI YI YI YIIIIIIII!!!! (karate chopping the air)


Then it stopped and we wandered the house trying to figure out what just happened. When I went back to our room, the smoke alarm was chirping. The battery needed to be replaced and apparently there was some sort of malfunction? But hey – good to know if there’s ever a fire in the house the smoke alarms give sufficient warning.


We removed the smoke alarm from the wall and disconnected it.

It still chirped.

We took the dead battery out.

It still chirped.

This is the part where I went all Phoebe Buffey and yelled, “WHAT DO YOU WANT WITH ME?!”

I finally found a new battery and we got it taken care of. We crawled back in bed at 2:00, as did our terrified dog who had buried herself under our covers at the base of the bed.

At 3:00, a certain girl child came and crawled in bed with us.

At 6:30 I dragged myself out of bed.

Today what am I thankful for? I am thankful for coffee. And family because they won’t care if I have bags under my eyes or if I start mumbling incoherently around 3:00 this afternoon. They will love me no matter what…and will probably get a kick out of laughing at my jumbled brain.

Here is a video the kids and I made the other night. I wasn’t going to share it with you because I look a hot mess in it. But I decided to keep it real and show you anyway because while I look a bit frightening, the kids are cute and they make up for it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thankful…for a break

My head is spinning and my heart bursting. I have so much I want to share – so much I want to write, but for some reason I can’t seem to get the words from my head to my fingers. So I’m taking this as a sign to step away and just be present in the now.

It’s 70 degrees.

We have 31 people coming over for Thanksgiving.

I want to be present right now, in this moment, while my kids are racing through the yard. They are living life and I don’t want to miss it.

So I’ll be back later, when the words are ready to flow.

Have a lovely, wonderful, beautiful, totally and compeltely present in the now Thanksgiving everyone!

Lazy Monday

I think I’m still in a turkey coma.  Actually, it’s not so much the turkey as it is the stuffing, salad, pies and petit fors that have rendered me all but useless.  My brain has slowly shut down over the weekend.

It’s lovely.

This morning, as the alarm sang in my ear, begging me to leave the warm, plush covers of my bed (which I strongly believe has been sanctified by God Himself as a Holy Place), I found myself thinking over the blessings of this holiday weekend.  Good food combined with amazing family made this weekend my favorite since our move.  A visit from Lee’s parents was the icing on the cake.

Or the whip cream on the pie.

Or the sprinkles on the Petit Fors.

You get my drift.

We topped off a weekend of extreme laughter with a third visit to a church we really like where the message so moved me I found it difficult to breathe most of the day yesterday.  And for the first time, this place we’re in felt like home.  It felt as though we fit here.  As if, perhaps, this thing that we did – moving our family half way across the country – was…right.

Thanksgiving, indeed.  Or perhaps it’s better to say Giving Thanks.  Because this morning that is what I’m doing.

Though my eyelids are heavy and I feel more exhausted than I have in a long, long time, I find myself relishing the fatigue.  It’s only evidence of a weekend filled with laughter, food and love – five days of grace poured over my family.  I am, indeed, Humbly Grateful.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Humbly Grateful or Grumbly Hateful

Utter peace.

As a child sitting in the back seat of my parent’s Cutlass Supreme, I remember belting out the words to this song:

Are you Humbly Grateful or Grumbly Hateful?

What’s your attitude?

Do you grumble and groan,

Or let it be known

You’re grateful for all God’s done for you?

On days when the tasks of life seem overwhelming and my first, natural and selfish tendency is to moan, I still find myself singing this song softly.  And there is no greater time than the holidays to reflect on the attitude of my own heart.  Am I humbly grateful or am I grumbly hateful?

What’s my attitude?

As I walk across the tiles of our home, dirt crunching beneathe each step reminding me of the need for yet another sweep, vaccuum and mop, am I humbly grateful for a tile floor on which to walk?

As I make beds yet again, and strip soiled sheets off of beds just one more time adding to the never ending pile of laundry, am I humbly grateful for the simple luxury of extra bed sheets and a machine that washes the clothes for me?

As I search the refridgerator for food to prepare for dinner only to find that I need to run to the store yet again, am I humbly grateful for the convenience of a store just down the road and the money in the bank to buy more than enough food?

As the three little people gifted to me screech through the house, arguing over invisible pies and other insanity, am I humbly grateful for the gift of my children?  Am I grateful that I have been given not one but three blessings to care for, nourish and guide to adulthood?

Sometimes it is so much easier to be Grumbly Hateful.

Then I read a story like this one about Jonathon.  Alone.  Abandoned in the jungle.  No one to love him.  No hugs, no promise of a next meal.  No washing machine.  No one.  And yet, when presented with a small package of food and gifts his eyes light bright.  Humbly grateful.

This Thanksgiving, as I scrub floors and wash sinks, as I prepare food and make beds, I do so with full knowledge and understanding of just how blessed I am.  Life is easy, it is grand, it is full – not because of, but rather in spite of, all the “stuff.”  Yes, I’m grateful for beds and a roof and a yard and…everything.

But mostly, if I boil it down, I am grateful for Him and all He’s done for me.  Humbly Grateful.  I read this quote by Abraham Lincoln yesterday, taken from his Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1863 when he officially declared the last Thursday in the month of November to be a holiday of Thanks.

“The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God . . . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy”

This often forgotten and overlooked American holiday of Thanksgiving is so full of opportunity to remember, to praise, to thank.  For more information on the history of Thanksgiving, visit the website, Celebrating Holidays.

Thanksgiving is more than just remembering the Pilgrims landing on Earth first gathering and shared meal between the Pilgrims and Indians in 1621.  From our earliest history, Thanksgiving was about acknowledging with grateful hearts the One who has given us far above and beyond all that we could ever ask or imagine.

Today I am Humbly Grateful.

Sleeping in beds with boys

It was early 2002-ish and Lee and I, along with Lee’s brother Eric and his wife Becke’, attended a conference.  It was held…somewhere.  The details are really fuzzy.  Wherever the conference was held required us to get a hotel room.  Because we were young and poor, we decided to share a room and to secure it on Priceline.

It seemed like a really good idea when we got a hotel room just around the corner from the conference for only $50 a night.  Score!  Until…

We got to our room and found that it had only one bed.  What to do?  We couldn’t change the reservation without incurring much higher charges.  So we did what any respectable couples would do in such a situation.

We all piled into bed together.

Eric slept on one end, then Becke’ next to him.  I slept next to Becke’ and Lee laid on the other end.  So as not to make the situation any more weird and awkward than it already was, we all slept fully clothed.  Four people, fully clothed in one bed makes for a hot night’s sleep.  Sometime during the night, Becke’ slipped out of bed, unbeknownst to the rest of us, and attempted to get more sleep on the floor.  The rest of us were not aware of this transition.

When the early morning sunlight mercifully streamed into the room, I slowly opened my eyes.  I looked to my left at Lee and smiled.  He was on his back, straight as a board, arms stiff by his side, snoring.  He looked wildly uncomfortable in his jeans.  Then I looked to my right, expecting to find Becke’.

And there was Eric, sound a sleep.  For a brief moment I was horrified as I laid all snuggled up to my brother in law.  But after a few moments of wondering how on earth I ended up sandwiched between both Stuart men, I started to laugh at the absurdity of the situation.  I sat up and looked down at Becke’ who was curled up on the floor.  She looked up at me and we both laughed.

That’s the only time I have ever slept with my brother in law.

This weekend we went to Arkansas to be with Lee’s parents and brothers and friends.  So much fun.

Except for the sleeping part.  I’ve already told you my kids are systematically trying to ensure I never experience a full night’s sleep again.  They were in full form this weekend.  It all came to a head on Saturday night.  Landon wet the bed (we had run out of pull ups and wouldn’t you know every night before Saturday he woke up dry) around 1:30.  He bolted up and cried, “Mommy, I spilled!  I need a towel!”  I got him cleaned up and back down in time for Sloan to crawl in bed with us.  I woke up around 3:30 to see Tia in bed with us as well.  Around 4:00 Landon crawled into our bed.  I didn’t have the heart to fight him on it so I put him on the end next to me.

And for the second time in my life I found myself sandwiched between two Stuart men boys.  Sloan, being a fitful sleeper, kicked me in the kidneys all night long.  Landon had his face right in mine and breathed on me for a solid two hours.  It solidified my need to do a better job brushing his teeth at night.

Despite the lack of sleep, we had a great time eating, laughing, shopping and being together.  It was, indeed, a Happy Thanksgiving. 

The Stuart clan

The Stuart clan

Photo courtesy of Lulu Photography

Thankful in November

IMGP5673My sister-in-law (who is all kinds of awesome) is doing a month long series in which she details that which she is thankful for.  Imagine that!  Giving thanks in the month of Novemeber…who ever heard of such a thing?

I, personally, love the idea of focusing on that for which I am thankful.  It’s so easy to get bogged down in the negative, in the business and craziness and OMGI’MNOTGONNASURVIVETHIS moments of life that sometimes I have to stop myself and remember the happy.

In general I’m not much of an Eyeore type person.  I’m thankful for that because with some of the heartaches that I have faced in the past, it would be very easy to be an Eyeore.  But then again, it’s that way for all of us, isn’t it?  We’ve all faced pain, heartache, trial, hurt.  We all have the choice to dwell in the pain, live in the past and simmer in the hurt.


We can move on, step forward and let the past fade in the distance.  For some, that’s easy to do.  For others, it’s much harder due to deeper wounds, harsher trials or simply because they are hardwired from conception to stew, analyze and think.

So today I’m focusing on the thankful.  I have been so bogged down lately that I really haven’t had time to stop and think and…thank.

Outside of the obvious (my husband and kids…what kind of wife and mom would I be if I didn’t mention them, right?) I’m thankful for where we are in our lives right now.  We’ve walked a bit of a tightrope in the last few months and it had every potential end in a stomach dropping plunge.  But, instead, the tightrope has slwoly widened and we are once again feeling a bit more secure.  Not comfortable, of course, as we are ever on our guard, but we have definately seen blessing in the last month.

I’m thankful for that.

I’m thankful for the memories I made travelling Europe with my husband where he snapped the above picture on our last day in Italy as I lounged in a park in Bellagio.  I was looking at the mountains across Lake Como and marvelling at God’s majesty, totally in awe of creation.  I’m thankful for that day, for that moment and for the many pictures that are seared into my brain from across the seas.

I’m thankful for the career I’m slowly but surely beginning to develop in writing, editing and social media.  I wasn’t looking for this and it kind of fell in my lap and I just have to say – I’m having the time of my life.  I’m still navigating the waters of what is feasible for me to pursue and what needs to be sacrificed as I also tend to my young brood.  But I’m thankful for opportunity, whatever it might be, that comes my way and I’m totally enjoying the ride.

I’m thankful for Nutella.  It’s just so very, very good.  On everything.  Including pizza crust, on which we slathered an entire can a couple of weeks ago and presented it to the kids as dinner.  Which leads me to the next thing:

I’m thankful that I can still please my kids with a Boboli Pizza crust and a can of Nutella.  I’m thankful that my seven year old still thinks it’s cool when I accompany him on field trips.  I’m thankful that my four year old still wants to hold my hand and sit in my lap.  I’m thankful that my two year old tells me I’m beautiful almost every day and then squints his eyes in a mischevious grin because he knows it melts my heart.

I’m thankful for my soft bed and thick pillows even though I don’t get to enjoy those as much as I would like to.

I’m thankful.

I’m also now craving Nutella.

I’m thankful that Target is only a couple of minutes away and they faithfully stock Nutella on their shelves.

What are you thankful for?