EVERYDAY IS A MIRACLE (Happy Birthday Paytun)

It just seems like yesterday when Cory and I were talking about the idea of having another child… Then one day in early September we found out that we were pregnant, December I was put on mandatory bedrest. So, when Paytun was finally born, she entered the world huge for 37 weeks, at over 7 pounds, and crying loudly…we were so relieved!

She has brought such joy to our lives, and it’s hard to believe she is ten! Here are just ten of the reasons why we love her so!

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1. She’s an outgoing extrovert. I joke that I’m a outgoing extrovert and Cory’s an outgoing introvert, but it’s true. Paytun is the best of us both!

2. She is incredibly creative and crafty. I cannot believe the things she comes up with…from a very young age and as recently as last week. Get her together with her friends Hannah & Morgan and they produce all sorts of new inventions.

3. She is such a great little sister, usually. Sometimes she complains about her big sisters being annoying, but most of the time she takes good care of them and includes them in her adventures. She also does a lot of teaching. Taryn adores her (when they are not fighting…). Haha! She also gets along well with Mari–for the most part. Hey–no kid is perfect!

4. She is a truly great friend and daughter. Each year at her birthday party I’m struck by what nice friends she has, and how much they appreciate and enjoy each other. Sh chooses her friends carefully–and I love the fact that she has just as many female friends as male friends. At her birthday party this year we will have girls and boys.

5. She is forgiving, diplomatic, and considerate. If she receives a present she already has, she is tactful and doesn’t blurt out that he already has it. She does not say unkind things to other people (with the occasional exception of her sisters). 🙂 She has a huge heart.
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6. She is confident and daring. She never seems to get stage fright when performing, in fact she loves the limelight, just like his mommie. Like her daddy she loves thrill rides!

7. She is talented–that’s not really why I love her, but it seems like it fits. We’ve been told she has a talent for swim, although she’s just putting in his time at the moment. Her first love is science. Running is just on the side. They seem to come so easily to her, I never had that kind of confidence or poise in front of all those people as a kid!

8. She has pizzazz. That’s what I am told by all her teachers. She is one of those people who has a natural dynamism and energy.
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9. She’s resilient, upbeat, and enthusiastic, which I consider three important traits for happiness. Whenever she gets into a funk (and she does, probably more often than others in the family–she has big feelings), I know she will rebound and recover before much time has passed. She usually goes off to have time by herself and recover. She also embodies one of my favorite quotes, which is:

 “Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success. When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

10. She is sensitive. We cry together at emotional movies. She’s also incredibly affectionate and tells me she loves me every single day. Usually, it’s “I love you more.”

Love this kid, and I’m so proud of her for what she’s already accomplished in her first decade!

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50 THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY

I know that being happy can sometimes feel quite temporary and the little joys can easily get lost when you’ve had a bad day at work or been sat in traffic for two hours, so it’s great to remind ourselves of those little quirks that make us happy every now and again.

Without further ado, here are fifty of the things that make me happy (in no particular order).

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XOXO –

April

The Fight Goes On …

The Way We’re Told It Goes:
Meet The One…

1. Fall In BUTTERFLY Love
2. Have all the Feelings
3. Date
4. Move Into Together: AKA YOU’VE CROSSED THE FINISH LINE! You’re done! Congrats, Cinderella! All that’s left now is: Happily Ever After!!!!!

The Way It Has Worked For Me:
Meet A Special One…

1. Fall in Butterfly Love
2. Have all the feelings
3. Date
4. Move In Together  – AKA Cross the STARTING LINE.

5. You’ve begun. Shit gets real.  Grocery shopping and children and assembling furniture and navigating each other’s families and demons and other confusing, terrifying things keep happening.

6. Slowly understand that relationships are not what you thought it would be and your signicant other is not who you thought he’d be and additionally you are not who you thought you’d be.

7. Notice there are no more butterflies. Panic like bloody hell. Understand with mounting dread that LIFE has killed the butterflies and this must mean you have “fallen out of love.”

8. Look into separation.

9. Start to learn how horribly difficult it will be to separate for you and everyone you love and also – HOLY CRAP IT COSTS A LOT. Try to locate a path of less resistance. Search for some solution that is less emotionally and physically and mentally and financially expensive. It’s often not LOVE that makes us stay – but the expense of leaving. AND THAT’S OKAY.

10. Ask for help. Suggest meeting with experts, talk to wise people, read good books. Mostly, Be still and listen for The Next Right Thing in the quiet.Wait. Keep waiting. Make no decisions except what to do EXACTLY RIGHT NOW. Sit with the pain. Sit with the struggle. Sit with the uncertainty. Resist the relentless urge to deflect the pain, run from the pain, numb the pain with food- booze -work –future tripping- unkindness- false certainty -busyness or any other Wisdom Killer.  Just Be Still and Wait.

11. SLOWLY embrace the truth that a million warriors have discovered before you  – You have not FALLEN OUT OF LOVE. You have fallen out of infatuation AND INTO LOVE.  Like it or NOT- THIS IS IT, SISTER. This is Love. It ain’t the Disney version- it’s the REAL version. The Disney version is easy and shiny and struggle free and happily ever after but the Real Version is about allowing struggle to morph you into a bigger, more spiritual being. Real love is about METAMORPHOSIS, and metamorphosis IS FIFTY SHADES OF PAIN – just ask the butterfly.

12. Start over every freaking morning.

13. Go to sleep every night feeling exhausted and blessed as hell.

Much Love,

April

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Feelings Might Be Overrated

This afternoon I find myself in a very depressed mood. Don’t get me wrong — I am very thankful for my life.    I have every reason to be happy. Thankfulness is essential if you’re ever going to take hold of rest and contentment.  But thankfulness and contentment don’t always mean you’re happy.

We have this stupid belief in America that if we’re not happy, we must not be “doing it right.”   Life, I mean.  Sometimes we really aren’t doing it right, and we are never doing anything completely right. But happiness is not a consistent measure of this.  Oftentimes we do very good things that make us sad, or do very wrong things that make us happy.

I think that, more often than not, our feelings are overrated.  That is not to say that they are useless or bad.  They are important.  But what I am saying is that we give them too much credit to dictate our lives.  When we’re happy, it’s harder to challenge ourselves to love God and serve others more.  And when we’re sad, it’s easy to become a little vacuum to try to suck life from any old source we can find.

And more often than not, moods don’t direct us to satisfying things.  They are more related to how much sleep we got last night, or how many vegetables we had, or our genetic composition, than whether we are making upright choices in life.  Moods are self-preserving mechanisms that try to persuade us to meet our own needs.  If we let emotions control us, it can be dangerous and unhelpful, not only for the people around us, but ourselves as well.

Emotions are confusing,  some say God is our lamp to navigate through our chaotic or dissatisfying lives.

I’m reminding myself today that I have everything I need already therefore i am fully equipped to fight the good fight.

When we’re unhappy, it’s easy to think, “Maybe I just need ____.”   But when we run after anything in this world, it will always disappoint us.

When I considered all that I have accomplished and what I had labored to achieve, I find I’m quite strong.

When I used to put puzzles together as a kid, I would get frustrated when pieces wouldn’t fit.  To relieve my frustration, I would try using a hammer.  Although this would force the pieces into place, these pieces were not made for each other, and I would find at the end that the picture was neither beautiful nor satisfying.  I knew I would have to submit to the reality of the puzzle instead of merely relieving my frustration.

Yet I still find myself wanting it both ways.  I want the puzzle to be complete and I want it done now.  I want Jesus to be the head of my life and I want to be in control and have everything go my way.  And I want to be happy all the time.  I want Jesus to get the glory He deserves, and I want to steal a little for myself.

I am glad that the choices I make in my life are not the fatalistic result of my feelings at any given moment. I am free to make choices because of my consistent resolve to live to the fullest purposes.

Much Love Always,

April

Enjoy Life Slowly

During a conversation with a dear friend a couple of days ago, she mentioned that she works more now than she ever did in the past and is missing out on life’s little pleasures…

Whether you’re single, married, or in a relationship, the demands of life and the expectations of those nearest and dearest to your heart can make finding time for yourself a huge challenge. Between dedicating time to parents, children, partners, siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews, friends, colleagues, and work, it’s hard to even dream of stealing a little time for yourself.

Couple that with the guilt that many people, especially women,  experience when they manage to find a few moments of time for themselves, and it becomes clear why so many people feel that finding time for themselves isn’t worth the effort. But worth the effort it is, and not only because of the personal benefits you’ll reap. Alone time has interpersonal benefits as well.

Taking time for yourself gives your brain a chance to reboot, improves concentration, increases productivity, helps you discover (or rediscover) your own voice, gives you a chance to think deeply, and helps you problem solve more effectively. It also gives you a better sense of balance and self-awareness that can lead to a better understanding of yourself–what drives you, what inspires you, what excites you. This, in turn, can have a positive effect not only on the quality of your relationship with yourself, but also on the quality of your relationships with others.
I leave you with this …

“When we take some time to solely think about ourselves, and not have to consider our impact on others, we begin the process of true self-awareness. It can be a little daunting at first, but the result of this awareness is that you learn what drives you, what excites you, and what motivates you. This new-found self-awareness is a beautiful thing and it can have a dramatically positive effect on your life and relationships.” – Marty Herald
X❤X❤, April

Pick Your Partner Well…

Being called hurtful names in a relationship is probably one of the most hurtful things a person can hear. This is particularly true when we are involved in a romantic relationship and the person you are attached to makes this kind nasty comment. Your hurt may only intensify if your man or woman said something like this to you in the presence of other people. If you are sitting with a bunch of feelings right now and wondering why “My boyfriend called me fat” “My girlfriend called me a douche-bag” “My boyfriend calls me stupid” “ugly“, there is a good chance that right now, you are highly pissed off. Here’s the deal – you should be!

Sometimes people in personal romantic relationships say things out of a place of anger. Other times, remarks are made because somebody made a bad attempt at trying to be funny. To keep it real, all of us say things we later come to regret. But there are some things that really should never be said, regardless of what prompted the comment. Specifically, we are talking about your significant other calling you fat, ugly or stupid.

You should tell them two things:
1. That their comments hurt your feelings.
2. They need to cut that shit out right now.

What he/she thinks does not matter. What you feel does matter. You have the right to feel loved and supported in a relationship. If their comments undermine that feeling then, then you should demand the comments stop. And if he/she does not stop, then find a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Life is too short to argue with people who deny that their behavior is hurtful.

I know I’m not what society would consider “hot” or “gorgeous.” I don’t have an amazing figure or a flat stomach. I’m far from being considered a model, but I’m me! I eat food, I have curves, I have scars, I have a history. I have done good and I have done bad. I think everyone is beautiful in his or her own way.

XOXO April

Baby we can talk all night
But that ain’t getting us nowhere
I told you everything I possibly can
There’s nothing left inside of here…

I poured it on and I poured it out
I tried to show you just how much I care
I’m tired of words and I’m too hoarse to shout
But you’ve been cold to me so long
I’m crying icicles instead of tears…

And all I can do is keep on telling you
I want you
I need you
But there ain’t no way
I’m ever gonna love you
Now don’t be sad
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad
Now don’t be sad
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad….

Baby we can talk all night
But that ain’t getting us nowhere!

-Meatloaf

April McManus