Happy Go Stuckey


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I’m Holding On. (FMF)

Yesterday on Facebook, I saw a photo of my nephew sleeping, and I was completely dumbstruck. He’s only eleven but…He didn’t look 11. He looked just like my brother. My 40-year old brother who sports a boyish grin and the same dark curly hair and who gives great hugs, who happens to be his dad– so of course they will look alike, right? But in a completely different way, my nephew looked unlike the little boy who bubbles up with contagious excitement when he finds a warty, slimy frog.. and more like a grown-up version of himself. And it struck me as wonderful and yet it hurt a little bit.

Because every night before going to sleep, I check on my own little ones… who are the beautiful main reasons that “the days are long..” but instead of seeing that “the years are short..” I look into their upturned faces, all relaxed in peaceful dreaming and lightly fluttering eyelashes… and I see my babies. Something happens when they sleep— they lose all sense of bigness and its like their little faces remember what baby looks like and put it on for me to see.

And I know it may not always be so. I am quite certain that for years, that little 11-yr old’s mom has checked on him, and seen her baby. And I wonder when and how it happens that they start to grow up overnight.

But she knows, because when I was an exhausted mom with a 5 day old baby, she called me all the way in North Carolina and said, “Hold her as much as you want. Don’t worry about spoiling her. You cannot hold a baby too much.”

And she was right. Because here I stand, 5 ft. tall with a 6’1″ husband whose children will definitely grow taller than me long before they’re grown.

And the babies that used to fit into little burrito-swaddled bundles, have long lean limbs that just about reach down past my knees when they sit with me. 

And you can’t slow time. Except one moment at a time. And when I check on them at night, I take an extra moment to wonder what they dream. To watch their faces reflect the day. To know that the curves of baby-ness are slowly leaving their faces, and being replaced by the echoes of their future.

And I thank God that they keep right on growing and that I could not stop this train even if I wanted to. Which I don’t. 

 

Linking up for Five Minute Friday here.  Hop over and read more FMF friends!

 


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Hope Rising

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As I sat in my comfy chair, armed with an Iced Coffee and a highlighter, prepared to crack Hope Rising open, I prayed a short but heartfelt prayer. “God, use this book to wake me up and give me hope for the poor. “ Just reading the subtitle, How Christians Can End Extreme Poverty In This Generationand feeling my heart immediately ask that telling question, “End?” “Does it say END extreme poverty?” 

I immediately recognized my problem was that of so many others in my generation. We just don’t think we have it in us. Furthermore and perhaps even more disturbing, we may not even question if God would use us to do something HUGE like ending extreme poverty in our generation. As a middle class, stay at home mom of two kids, I struggled with the age old cop-out, “But what can I do? I am just one.” So I chose this book. And I’m so glad I did. 

What this book is not:

This book, written by Scott C. Todd, the SVP for Global Advocacy for Compassion International is not an emotional strong-arm to sponsor a child. It is not a book full of faceless statistics. It is not a self-righteous treatise on why American Christians are overprivileged brats who could not care less for the world’s poor. The blurb on the back of the book gives a staggering fact that 18,000 children die from preventable causes every day and that we CAN do something about it. Regardless of how small we feel.

What this book is:

Hope Rising is a poignant and you guessed it, HOPE-FILLED look at the facts of poverty and what we CAN do in the name and power of Jesus Christ. Todd identifies and defines what true extreme poverty is and how it can feasibly be ended. Reading Hope Rising graciously challenges our startlingly low expectations and moves us to purposeful actionThis book reads like a coffee shop conversation with an impassioned, well-traveled, close friend. Its brief chapters get right to the point, while not neglecting the beautiful element of story-telling.

Who is it for?

The short answer? YOU. Really, whether you are a mom, a dad, a college student or a grandparent, YOU have a part to play and this book just might give you the push in the right direction you need.

I highly recommend it. And you can pick up your own copy *HERE: Hope Rising: How Christians Can End Extreme Poverty in This Generation (Affliate link, Thanks for supporting HappyGoStuckey.com) 

 

Thank you, Thomas Nelson Books and Book Look Bloggers for the review copy of this book. I chose to read this book for review and am happy to give my very positive opinion, which is all my own.


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Hawaiian Banana Bread

It is no secret I’m a coffee lover. And though I enjoy a good cup from our local chain coffee shop, sometimes you just need a quieter place to sit and soak. We have this little coffee cafe here in town and I have been there more times than I should admit. Last month, while trying to get some writing done, I tried a slice of their Hawaiian Banana Bread and a Coconut Iced Coffee– both were delicious, and I’ve been thinking about how to re-create that banana bread ever since. Last week, I gave it a shot– and we were really happy with the result. Hawaiian Banana Bread is fun because you can really experiment a bit and the added pineapple adds flavor and moisture, allowing you to cut back on the less healthy ingredients. But, it still needed a stick of butter (for 2 loaves.) because, well, BUTTER. Enjoy!

BananaBread

Hawaiian Banana Bread
Preheat Oven to 325′
Makes 2 Loaves

1 stick of unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup of raw sugar (or regular, or brown)
4 eggs
2 cups of AP flour
2/3 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup of regular rolled oats
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup finely chopped pineapple
2/3 cup plus 2 tbs shredded coconut.
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 cup of low-fat buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
4 large ripe bananas, mashed.

Heat oven to 325′ and grease and flour 2 medium loaf pans. In the bowl of an electric mixer- mix together butter, sugar and eggs. Beat well. Whisk together flours, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Add flour mixture alternately with milk and oatmeal to butter-sugar-eggs mixture. Add vanilla, bananas and pineapple. Fold in 2/3 cup of coconut and pecans. Spread batter into loaf pans. Top each loaf with 1 tbs. coconut. Bake loaves for 60-75 minutes. Cool for ten minutes in pans, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

(Store in refrigerator; also freezes well.)


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Ready. (FMF)

(**Psst, maybe consider scrolling down and clicking on the video while you read?)

“I’m not ready for this.” 

As a parent, I’ve said that phrase countless times. My inability to keep up with the rapidly forward- moving pace of life gives insight into my focus. Did you catch it? “I’M NOT READY.”

The trouble is, we rarely think we are ready for change. Where our children are concerned, they are almost 100% more ready than we think we are for whatever next step is next.

Last month, it was Kindergarten. Five days a week. That’s every day but Saturday and Sunday, by the way. That’s a lot of days for a mama and her green-eyed homebody girl. And it hasn’t been easy. But she’s blooming. And she gets in the car and tells how she made friends with a classmate who was “all alone”  I’m smiling now and I remember that HIS hand is guiding her, not my ability to watch her every step.

And at Church she moved up from the Preschool department and I think I might just cry if she stops wanting to wear hair bows. But that first Sunday morning– she stood on the chair next to me and she read the Worship lyrics and she SANG. Of her own accord to my God who I hope she will choose to follow. And I never, just never knew that kind of joy of standing next to my barely grown 5 year old and realizing the capacity that growing creates. She was ready for this. And it readies her for what’s next.

And Oh, I hope I’m growing and growing some more with the same breathless joy. I hope that when God is leading me farther, higher, into more– that I get up and JUST GO. Laughing at the future, not looking back forlornly.

Let’s agree, you and me. No shrinking back, no refusal to be stretched, even when it feels strangely like growing pains. Even when we can NOT see where He will lead us next.

Unknown City. Unknown job. Unknown future. Unknown path. Unknown Whatever.

That restless feeling? It may just be the movement of God as He moves toward you to move you FORWARD.

Let’s just be ready to go. Higher. Deeper.

Because one thing we know, HE GOES BEFORE US.

And this– because well, All Sons and Daughters says it pretty well.

Linking up with the fantastic Flash Mob of Writers over at Kate’s for Five Minute Friday. 


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Dear 17- Year Old Me:

In the midst of the normal every day wonderful-crazy, sometimes I forget that this life, the happy life that means you can always find a baggie of Goldfish in my purse and Barbies in my car, wasn’t always my reality.

At some point over the last few years I noticed something quite shocking. I grew up. And not just a little, but so much so that teenagers and young college girls look really young to me. And I can tell I don’t look so young to them– I can just tell. In the Target restroom, they pretend not to watch as I struggle with the olympic sport of– helping tiny people wash their hands without getting soaked. 

The last time I feverishly ripped open a box of fruit snacks in the grocery store aisle to soothe the past-naptime woes of an assertive 2 1/2 year old, I noticed them. A group of high school girls watching me next to the granola bars. They looked inquisitive. They looked confused, as if to say– “why is that child doing that strange contortion with her body and whining and why does that mom have that HUGE vein popping out of her forehead?”

I resisted the urge to say, “Just wait…” Because, well, why? They aren’t even aware that their future sweet, innocent, precious darlings will one day make veins pop out of their side-swept bang-covered foreheads. Bless their hearts.

I know.

Because I was 17 once.

And I remember what I noticed. And what I thought as I babysat little ones.

Things like, “MY children will never eat frozen pancakes for breakfast.” (They did this morning, by the way.)

“MY children will never wear an abundance of character apparel.” (And whyyestheydo. And we all live to tell about it.)

So I wondered about what I thought then, and what I know now. And if I could go back, this is what I would say…

Dear 17 Year Old Me:

Hi. You may not know me but I’m you 15 years from now. I know. That seems like an eternity, but it’s really not. Regardless of how many times you watch Anne of Green Gables and calculate that she was about your age when she fell in love with Gilbert Blythe, it’s… gonna be awhile. So settle in a little bit. Enjoy what’s right in front of you. And stop thinking you’re going to find the man of your dreams around every corner. In fact, the next few corners you go around, just turn your head and look the other way. Trust me. Not. Him. Definitely Not him. And in a few more years? Not him either. Certainly not. 

But in about seven years— Yes, that’s right… SEVEN years you will meet that guy. And though he won’t propose on a covered bridge outside an an Apple Orchard in early October, you won’t mind. And believe it or not, though his name won’t be Gilbert Blythe, you won’t want diamond sunsets or marble halls either. Just him. Trust me on that one. 

And a few years later, when your college babysitting days are behind you–you’ll find yourself surrounded by those very little girls you’re hoping you have one day. They will be tons of fun and will come ready-made with the highest-pitched screams you’ve ever heard.

You’ll take a deep breath at about 3:00PM every day when your house is momentarily quiet. You’ll look around at the happy fallout of a life well-lived since 7am that morning and wonder if moving out would be easier than cleaning. It’s not.

Hopefully you’ll remember I said this when you get to that day– keep going, Mom. This life you have? It’s amazing. Those sticky maple syrup prints on the kitchen table? They were put there early this morning as two little sister-friends shared giggles and waffles (frozen, by the way) and they mean that those dreams came true. So clean them up with a happy heart, because your table will (God willing) be sticky again tomorrow. 

Love, your Older, Wiser, Life-loving Self. 

 whereeveryouare


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Whisper. Or, Saying No. (FMF)

I think I might have missed Summer. It was busy and fun but not nearly enough sit and soak. 

Ironically, I set out putting a few measures in place, allowing for less do-do-do and more soak-soak-soak. But it backfired and now I sit here in the last few weeks of heat (I certainly hope so.) wondering why I feel so buried in stuff and listening to the garishly loud shout of my To-Do List.

I am doing things differently this Fall.

I’m doing what matters to God. What matters to our little four. What matters to me.

And if I have to say “no” again and again and again… until there is space to breathe and think and be, I will.

Even when it disappoints. I will say No. Unless HE has asked me to say yes. I’m saying “No” when He hasn’t said “Yes.”

Kindly. Genuinely. Graciously. But still, No. Even if I have to whisper it at first. 

I will whisper “No” to those “maybe I should’s…” that rise up in the back of my mind until I’m more confident in my ability to say “No” firmly.

I used to be quite good at saying it.

When I was a working mom, that was it. “I work. I’m a wife and mom. That is just about all I can do. “

But as the job title changed to SAHM, it was like I burned my “get-out-of-over-committment-free card.”

As though because I was allowed to wear yoga pants every day to work than I should always have time for every single thing, every opportunity, every request.

Well I want that little card back. 

For the sake of my sanity.

For the sake of my often neglected quiet time.

For the sake of my over-extended self that snaps at the people I’m here to serve in the first place.

For the sake of my enjoyment of the ministries that GOD actually has inserted into my life.

Because the mathematical truth of saying “YES” is this: Saying yes to one thing, is absolutely saying no to another. That other thing far too often becomes my family or my health.

Our fear of man looks a lot like overcommitment sometimes, but it’s often just plain idolatry.

We cannot sacrifice those things we KNOW God has given us to do on the altar of what everyone else thinks we SHOULD be doing. 

No = Margin. Whether you whisper it or say it confidently, if you don’t know for certain that you should be saying yes– say No.

And then revel in the space you have when God gives you a “yes.”

 

Linking up with Five Minute Friday– my favorite community of writers– over here! 


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What I learned in August.

Happy September!!! The official month when we pretty much call summer quits and we slowly start welcoming all the pumpkin and cinnamon back into our lives. Today, I am sharing what I learned in August and linking up with Emily Freeman over at Chatting at the Sky.

August was a knowledge-heavy month for me– it was also a whirlwind of activity leaving me with an average of a little more than one post a week… so there’s that.

1. I learned the JOY that comes in being someone else’s champion. This summer I’ve been able to take part in someone else’s dream. A close friend and confidante of mine is writing an amazing book, and asked me to help.  Months of emails, texts and randomly timed phone calls led us to a nearly finished manuscript and a book proposal. I read Michael Hyatt’s book on writing a book proposal and then actually wrote my first book proposal. It was scary for sure, but exciting.  One day I hope to write a book proposal of my own… but until then, this was so fun. There’s something really heart-filling about being someone else’s cheerleader– especially when you don’t have to wear a polyester uniform and royal blue bloomers.

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2.  I learned that I do not understand the hype with Cold Brew Coffee. I am an Iced Coffee Fanatic. I really only have one coffee a day, and it is almost always iced. Usually my husband brews a pot of extra strong coffee in his Chemex* and then we chill it. I have tried the Cold-Brew method several different times and I always end up with coffee grounds galore. I recently tried the Pioneer Woman’s version, taking every careful step to be sure I wasn’t doing something wrong. I strained it a second and even a third time with the cheesecloth, and still I got this:IMG_0685Not to mention a huge mess. I’m just not sure it’s a better method than what we are doing…  but people rave about Cold Brew Iced Coffee. Anyone have any tips? I will happily try it again.

3. I learned that heat makes people cranky. This past weekend our downstairs AC went out, the temps topped 99 and we had the added holiday to delay getting it fixed– so we spent about three days without Air Conditioning. In Georgia. In the summer. Oh. My. We really did make the best of it, and we survived. We ate ice cream as often as possible and we introduced our kids to one very important thing– Magic Shell Ice Cream Topping. They also learned the joy of sitting in front of a box fan and talking into it for hours. Ha! Some things are just awesome no matter what generation you’re born in. I learned that when the internal temperature of a home is 86 degrees, butter softens very quickly and coconut oil remains at a liquid state.

As much as those things might be culinarily convenient, when one’s home feels somewhere around the temperature of, OH, I don’t know–standing-on-the-surface-of-the-Sun Hot, one tends to notice a change in their attitude. It’s amazing how something as simple as being perpetually hot and sweaty can make you cranky– but at some point, we did notice that we ALL were in fact… ILL with one another.

But most importantly, this all taught me how I sort of… appreciate a few days of frustration and NOT having something we tend to take for granted, because it gives me a good reminder– of all the amazing blessings we live with every day. Not having Air Conditioning for three days sounds so paltry, but it caused me to realize how much we DO take for granted. And THAT is a lesson worth learning. 

4. In August, we celebrated our 7th Wedding Anniversary. In seven years, we’ve shared three addresses.

Two daughters. Two states. We have shared a little more than 2, 556 days as a family.

I learned that Seven years isn’t long enough to spend with your very best friend and that I’m quite sure 67 years won’t be long enough either. IMG_0399

 

 

Your Turn! What did you learn in August????

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