I hear myself say these simple phrases over and over in a day...even if only inside my head.
"Monday mornings are hard sometimes."
"Too bad a Starbucks caramel macchiato isn't good for you."
"Our best requires rest."
"I break into songs at random times throughout the day."
The joy I find in knowing that someone else relates to me on various topics is inspiring.
Just a few simple words of affirmation can speak love and encouragement into my life.
I do think it's wonderful that we have freedom to form our own opinions and share those opinions with others...to be able to disagree with our friends and still BE friends.
I think it's great to have our own thoughts and ideas and judgments.
In fact, I know for certain that I do not agree with every single thing that even my oldest and dearest "best friend forever" thinks and believes.
But sometimes, when we agree on the little things, there's a feeling of support that can carry you through.
And that's the #truth.
Happy New Week from the Farmhouse, friends.
This week, let's focus on finding those things we DO agree on and spread the love.
2017 was a wonderful year in so many ways.
But if I'm being honest, it was also a hard year.
In 2017, my mom lost both of her parents.
Of course, this would be a difficult situation for anybody...losing both parents in one year.
But it was especially difficult for us.
A strained family relationship can make loss seem so much greater.
Mom wasn't only grieving for the loss of her parents, but for the absence of a normal functioning family.
Grieving the loss of the chance at reconciliation and healing.
Someday I will tell her story in it's entirety.
But not today.
Today, I want to recognize some of the difference-makers in her life.
Mom can remember going to Vacation Bible School at a very young age with her Aunt Peggy's mother, Mrs. McIntire.
Mrs. McIntire always made Mom feel like she was thrilled to have her there. Mom still thinks of her when she smells koolaid...all these years later.
Mrs. McIntire was difference-maker.
When Mom was about five, she remembers starting to go with her grandma to her adult Sunday school group.
They met at each others' houses.
Mom has fond memories of spending time with her grandma's friends...serving punch and cake and just visiting with them.
These women were difference-makers.
Mom went to church every week as a child with her Grandma Hannah (great name, huh?).
When she was in second grade, she remembers wanting a Bible with her name on it for Christmas.
She got this gift and remembers reading it every night, loving every minute.
Grandma Hannah was a difference-maker.
When Mom's family moved to Adrian her seventh grade year, the Johnson family took her to church every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday night.
It was during this time that she went on a "Youth for Christ" hayride and committed her life to Christ.
Hal & Fern Johnson were difference-makers.
Throughout Mom's middle school and high school years, her friends' mothers became wonderful mentors to her.
These women helped her get through school.
They taught her about honesty and hard work.
They taught her character traits and Christian principles that continue to serve her well, over thirty years later.
Fern Johnson, Darlene Greenwell, Lila Gunn, Jeanie Brewster, Thelma Six, and countless others were difference-makers.
Mom got married in 1980 to my dear ol' dad.
Dad has supported Mom through many insecurities that came from a difficult past.
Together, they have raised two amazing children, if I do say so myself...ha...just kidding.
Because of the difference-makers in Mom's life, she has an amazing story of grace and generosity and love for others.
She and Dad have adopted another daughter and provided for countless other foster children throughout our lives.
She has a heart for children who have been mistreated.
She has served in the Church for in every way imaginable...for all age groups and many ministries.
She sees a need and meets it.
My mom is a difference-maker.
Despite a painful childhood, filled with neglect and abuse...she is a difference-maker.
Despite anxiety and insecurity that comes from her past...she is a difference-maker.
Despite the odds being seemingly stacked against her...she is a difference-maker.
THAT is the power in kindness and compassion.
THAT is the power in really seeing people.
THAT is the power in serving others.
THAT is the power found in the grace of Jesus Christ.
We CAN make a difference, friends.
Something has happened to me since I delivered our third daughter three years ago.
I get a bit emotional.
I cry when I'm happy...
When I'm sad...
When I'm angry...
When I don't sleep enough...
When I sleep too much...
When I see an old man in overalls.
I cry when one of my daughters says something sweet to her sister...
When a student masters a concept he or she has been struggling with...
When a first-year player on one of the girls' sports teams makes a basket in a basketball game or gets the ball over the net in volleyball...
When one of the girls shows understanding of the blessing that their great-grandparents are...
Usually, this consists of a lump in my throat and my eyes filled with tears with just a few escaping down my cheek.
But not always.
Sometimes, my little "choked-up, tear-running-down-my-face" crying turns into a big ol' ugly-cry.
I can specifically remember a day when our second daughter was just under a year old.
She hadn't been sleeping well and I was having "one of those days".
You know what I'm talking about...right, moms?
One of those days where I was barely holding it together through the school day.
I hadn't slept a full night in several weeks, my students were enjoying the last week before spring break as if it were already spring break, and I felt like I was living in a fog with a toddler and an infant.
My teaching partner casually made a comment in the teacher's lounge full of our colleagues giving me a hard time about the fact that I had mentioned taking a nap before I went home after school.
He meant NOTHING by his comment.
On a normal day, I would have just laughed.
But bless his poor heart...this wasn't a normal day...
I laughed at first and said, "I know..." and then the tears started coming, "...isn't it ridiculous?"
All the other women in the room immediately started trying to make me feel better and my poor teaching partner apologized.
But it wasn't his comment at all. He felt bad that he was the one that tipped the emotions from laughter to tears. But at some point or another, we've all been there.
I think sometimes you just need a good cry.
There is something about it that's cleansing to the soul and spirit.
In fact, that afternoon, after my ugly-cry, I was already laughing about the whole situation.
One morning, shortly after my grandpa had passed away, I walked into Casey's to find all of his coffee-drinking buddies there.
I said my "hellos" and went about my business.
As I walked out the door, an older man I didn't know met me there...in his Key overalls...just like Grandpa's.
And as I walked to my car (and all the way to work), I ugly-cried.
Sometimes, it's just necessary.
So this is your permission.
If you need to ugly-cry...just let it out.
Whether it's because of grief,
or pure joy.
Just let it out.
An ugly-cry every once in a while can be a beautiful thing.
And if you're still a bit unsure of letting the waterworks loose, I'm not just an ugly-crier...I'm a contagious-crier, too.
So if you need an ugly-cry partner...I'm your girl.
June 5th, 2004...the day that I married my high school sweetheart.
Mr. Farmhouse and I had been together for almost four years by that point, and I knew that June 5th was the beginning of our "happily ever after".
Then along came some other important dates.
December 30th. April 6th. June 11th.
The three most important dates in our married lives...the day our sweet girls made their debuts into our family.
My friend, Crystal, at Photography by Crystal captured these amazing images (and several others!) of my girlies this past summer.
Sidenote: I can't wait to share with you some more of her work when my wall art comes in next week!
I have looked through these images over and over and over again.
How is my Harlee-girl almost eleven years old?
When did my Claire-bear become old enough to want to change school districts this year and move away from her mama?
How is it that my Mattie-moo is sleeping in her own bed all night, speaking in complete sentences, and pulling up her favorite song on YouTube all by herself?
These pictures have really reminded me that my babies aren't babies any longer.
The older girls have already had a few "friendship struggles" in the last few years.
Those moments where you want to just rescue your child and tell them exactly what to say and how to handle specific situations when they get their feelings hurt.
Those moments where you are so worried that they are going to or have already hurt someone else's feelings.
Those moments where you just want them to choose the right thing...to say the right thing...
We've all had these moments in parenting, right?
Moments spent praying that they will be a light in a dark world.
That the world won't dim their lights.
That they will shine, even when life gets hard.
I'm not alone in this...this time spent worrying and fretting and praying over my children, right?
As I looked through these photos of my girls Saturday afternoon, I started to subconsciously make a list of my hopes and dreams for them.
1. That they would be kind and encouraging to others.
I want them to be good students and to try hard in their respective activities. I want them to work to be the best athletes they can be and to get good grades, I want them to practice their musical instruments and contribute to keeping our household run smoothly.
But more than that...I want them to be kind. I want them to be a good teammate, to show good sportsmanship. I want them to be includers, not excluders. I want them to see a need in a friend and meet that need. I want them to smile and to encourage and to give of themselves to help others to find good in the world.
2. That they would learn contentment and joy in everyday life.
I want my babies to understand that "stuff" is not important and people are. I want them to be content living in a hundred-year-old farmhouse the same as they would be content if we had built a brand new home.
I want them to know that sometimes playing outside all evening is a better option than saying yes to every single extracurricular activity out there.
I want them to understand that we can find joy in a sunrise or a sunset or laughter spent with sisters.
3. That they would find a passion and pursue it.
At one of the teaching conferences I went to last week, I saw an amazing speaker named Tara Brown speak about educators and parents being a Spark Champion for our children.
I want my girls to find their own sparks and pursue them. What drives them? What are they passionate about? What purpose do they feel they have in the world?
I want them to find these things and to work hard to learn more about them and to use these passions for good.
4. That they would build lasting relationships with a small group of friends.
Some of my very best friends are the girls that I spent my elementary years with. We have connected on facebook, text often, and sometimes don't see each other but a few times a year.
I want this for my girls. I want them to connect on a deep level with a group of girls that they can grow up with. I want them to band together with these girls and share kindness in the public school system. I want them to push each other to work hard and to be their very best.
They are both blessed to already be forming these friendships in their classrooms, in their school, at in our church. I'm so very thankful for this and I pray that these relationships continue to grow through the next several years.
5. That they would meet a faithful & generous man someday who will complement them in marriage the way that their daddy has done for me.
Yep. I'm already praying for their future husbands.
I know that God is preparing someone for each of them.
Someone who will complement their gifts and talents and fill in the gaps where they are lacking.
Someone who will encourage them to love on others and to give of themselves in a dark world.
Someone who will be a daddy to my grandbabies and a helpmate to each of my sweet girls.
I pray daily for my girls.
For the decisions they will have to make on this day.
For their friends.
For their teachers.
For their future husbands.
For their hearts and their minds and their physical protection.
I know that we will fail them miserably sometimes as parents and I just pray that God can move us both through these times and help us grow through all of our mistakes and mishaps.
I hope that when my girls grow up, they can see that we tried our hardest as parents.
I hope that they realize that they have a built-in best friend in each other and that there is no love like a sibling's love.
And I hope they can see that the best way to live is to love God and to love people.
Yesterday, my bestie and I went out to do some shopping for our classrooms.
She teachers fourth.
I teach third.
We both are heading back to school soon and decided to hit the teacher sale at Mardel.
I believe that I'm heading into the school year that has snuck up on me faster than any year before.
This summer, through the home selling and buying process and the moving situation, we just haven't felt very "settled" in the farmhouse until the last few weeks.
And now that we FINALLY feel like this is home, BOOM...it's time to go back to school.
I meandered around and found some great items for the farmhouse.
My three favorite purchases were a clearance "you & me" sign for the master bedroom, a sign that says "Be Kind...it's that easy.", and a sign for my classroom that said "It's a good day to have a good day."
I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in our circumstances that we struggle to find the positive side of life.
I see it every day on social media.
There are some people on my Facebook Newsfeed who seem to struggle to find anything good to say about their day...every single day.
My heart is filled with sadness for these people, as they can't find any good in their circumstances.
I also see the opposite side of the spectrum on my Facebook and Instagram feed.
People who are struggling through really big life hurdles...chronic illness, a cancer diagnosis, the loss of a close family member. And yet, their words are encouraging and inspiring and uplifting.
I want my students to know when they walk into our classroom that EVERY day is a good day to have a good day.
Yes, we will have struggles.
A house sale or purchase doesn't go as planned.
The air conditioning goes out in your Yukon.
The car you purchased to save you money is having transmission problems.
Your three-year-old has decided that she doesn't like sleep anymore.
(These are all hypothetical situations, of course.)
But even when life seems to hit, we have a choice in how we deal with it all.
We can smile and persevere.
Or we can frown and complain.
We can show kindness to family, friends, and strangers.
Or we can be cranky and negative.
Let's just try over the next few weeks, no matter what road we are walking on right now in our personal lives...to have a good day.
To find the good in the world.
To BE the good in the world.
Happy Weekend, friends.
Make it a good one. ❤️🏡❤️
There's a Hobby Lobby right beside Mardel, so of course we had to run in there to see what we could find.
I can't believe I found more items to buy, but this great "Gather Together" sign was in the new fall line.
The "Fresh Eggs" sign and the beef cuts plate were in the new farmhouse line and fit perfectly in our kitchen, as we eat our own farm fresh eggs and butcher our own beef.
The farmhouse rug looks great in front of our kitchen sink...even though I didn't think about how dirty a white rug would get on the farm.
I also got a new-to-me window that my mom purchased for our dining room. I had another window on the piano that I decided would fit better in our bedroom, so I needed to fill the spot. Mom delivered, as usual!
One thing that we try to really impress upon our girls' hearts is that it is always important to be kind.
Harlee and my niece Riley are at basketball church camp this week.
When we dropped them off, I made sure to have my teacher-y moment with them about how to treat other people.
"Girls, you're very lucky to have each other here, but not everyone will have a friend. Include those people. Invite them into your group. Be kind to them."
Kids just want to be seen.
Adults just want to be seen.
People just want to be seen. And heard. And loved.
Friends, we have a great opportunity to "be the good" in this broken and scary world.