Welcome to My Blog

What is there to tell about your life?

I’ll tell you what there is to tell about mine; everything. Please don’t panic and click the back arrow. My intent is not to share every boring or gory detail. Rather, I long to reveal both the mundane and miraculous aspects of my life in which God shows up and reminds me that He is my everything. And, everything He does is worth telling.

Please browse around and join the conversation. I’m excited we can begin this storytelling journey together. I hope you are too.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blissfully Domestic Post - the Elf of the Shelf

I now contribute to Blissfully Domestic, A Smart Girls Guide to Life online magazine.

I'm thrilled to join this exciting forum designed to inspire women to live a life of bliss, even when the world, (or our kitchen and bathroom), is messy place.

You can visit and read my first post about the Elf on the Shelf. I invite you to leave a comment or share your own Elf on the Shelf story.

Blissfully yours,

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Powerful Novel, A Slow Burn, Ignites A Fast Read

A Slow Burn, Mary DeMuth’s second book in the Defiance Texas Trilogy, blazes a trail across the heart of Emory Chance, a grief stricken mother haunted by fear and regret after the murder of her 13 year-old daughter Daisy. In the first chapter, I watched - an innocent bystander to her pain - as she stood in a morgue in Tyler, Texas identifying Daisy’s remains.

“She touched Daisy’s shoulder. So cold. So hard. So unlike Daisy. Yet so much like herself it made Emory shudder.”

Less than twenty four hours later I arrived at the end of the book but not the end of the story. In those hours in Defiance, Texas a miracle occurred in my heart. In the first book, Daisy Chain, I looked at Emory Chance much the same way as a citizen of Defiance. I saw a neglectful, drug addicted mother who ‘deserved’ to lose her daughter. At the end of A Slow Burn my heart softened; I walked in her shoes, sympathized with her pain, I witnessed her transformation and stunned by my own response, I looked to her with hope.

Much like Emory, I hope to find peace and resolution in the third and final book of the Defiance Trilogy. And most of all I want to know who killed Daisy and why, if Ousie Pepper really knows who did it she isn’t telling. Stay tuned for the third and final installment in the spring.

Congratulations Mary! Your words change lives and our friendship enriches mine.

Please visit Mary’s web site to learn more about her and her amazing books www.marydemuth.com

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Coscto Conundrum

The dreaded Costco coupons arrived in my mailbox yesterday. I eagerly perused them in search of great deals; it promised more than $1,300 in saving inside! Wow – $3 off eight boxes of Marie Callendar’s Chicken Pot Pies, $3 off 24 containers of Activia yogurt. They don’t tell you how much the item costs, just how much you are going to save … clearly they employ marketing masterminds to lure folks like me into the buy bulk and save money mantra.

I’m not good at math or comparison shopping so I don’t know if it’s cheaper to buy them in bulk or drive a block to the Neighborhood Wal-Mart Market and buy the two chicken Pot pies and 5 containers of yogurt I need to see me through the week. We don’t have a deep freeze so eight boxes of pot pies is out of the question anyways, never mind that our garage is overflowing with the stacks of paper towels, Kleenex and Charmin we bought using the last coupon book.

Sure I can blame the coupons but I get sucked in by all the samples too and just watch out when they combine coupons with samples – those darn marketing masterminds strike again! The new coupon book has a coupon for $1.40 off Jack’s Special Medium Salsa. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but it’s no coincidence that last time Matthew and I strolled the isles of Costco a kindly lady behind a counter offered us a quick taste Jack’s Special Medium Salsa, of course we had to try it, and of course we had to buy it!

A four year-old doesn’t really contribute much to the cost of shopping at Costco unless you count the year’s supply of granola bars and fruit snacks we have in the pantry and the eight foot Halloween bat he begged me to buy on our last sojourn. I can’t blame him alone, I always seem to find a book I can’t live without and Robb has been known to buy a flat screen TV … or two.

The conundrum lies in the fact that when you go to Costco, list and coupons in hand, you buy more than you need, you buy things you don’t need, but you still think you are saving money. After the eight foot bat buying incident, I no longer hold onto this truth … dare I say, this deception?

Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping there but I feel caught in the Costco conundrum; sucked in by coupons, samples and the allure of buying bulk I think I'm saving money but it sure doesn't feel like it. Please tell me I’m not alone!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Life Goes On

Brandon and Matthew walked hand-in-hand across the parking lot of the Olive Garden restaurant in Fayetteville, Arkansas. We spent the day moving Brandon into his dorm and Matthew held Brandon's hand everywhere he went ... Brandon let him. They both knew good-bye waited around every corner.

“You’re staying one night, correct?” asked the clerk behind the check-in desk at the Holiday Inn.

“Yes, we are heading back to Dallas tomorrow. We dropped off our eldest son at University of Arkansas this morning,” I said.

“Yeah, my brother is living in a dorm now,” Matthew added.

“Are you going to miss him?” she asked, peering over the counter.

“Yeah, but he’s not gone forever,” repeating the words we said to him earlier in the day. “We’ll see him at Easter and Christmas and Halloween,” he counted days on his fingers, holding them up for the clerk to see.

She smiled at me, “He’s so cute.”

“Thanks. He’ll miss his brother,” I said with tears in my eyes.

I held back tears when we dropped Brandon off at the dorm that morning. We spent three days moving him and his roommate – his best friend since grade two – into their dorm. Our families stocked their room with college essentials:

• Three crates of Ramen noodles
• Easy Mac
• Coffee
• Candy
• Energy drinks
• Granola bars
• Cleaning supplies in hopes that they’d actually use them.

After months of college tests and applications, dorm selection, buying school supplies, books and new clothes seeing the results of our efforts come together as the plain dorm room transformed into a personal space full of pictures and comforts from home felt good; a job well done.

“Have fun. You’ll do great.” We left him standing at the sidewalk near his dorm.

Four hours later at the counter of the Holiday Inn it hit me … yes, we’d be together on the big days Matthew counted off on his fingers but the little everyday things were now out of reach. Only the words of Robert Frost did justice to my feelings, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.”

We take no solace in the fact we have to do this all over again in 14 years when Matthew heads off to college. God will prepare our hearts we know but I also know I won’t be able to hold back my tears until I get back to the hotel that night or Lord help that poor girl behind the check-in desk.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Best Is Yet To Come

Happy Birthday Robb!

Friends set us up on a blind date April 4, 2002. I remember the day because that Christmas Robb gave me a shadow box frame; in it he had our initials in painted wood letters and a page from a little calendar, a heart circled April, 4th. We married September 27, 2003. We welcomed son Matthew into the world May 24, 2005.

Dates mark the passage of time; guideposts along the winding roads of the world. What a blessing to walk the road with a husband like Robb. A list of reasons why I love him overflows from my heart but on this day I celebrate his gift to encourage others.

I attended She Speaks this weekend, a writing and speaking conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. I had no worries while I was away; I knew he had everything under control. Text messages and phone calls cheered me on and lifted me up when I felt nervous or discouraged. Meetings with publishers, agents and speaking in front of groups of people played with my emotions. His steadfast belief in me kept me going.

When I arrived home from the conference I walked into our house and saw a bucket of champagne on ice, two lovely glasses and a card. All weekend I thought of ways to thank him for his support yet he greeted me with more.

The card read: You are fabulous, if you ever forget that, please read this again.
He wrote: Welcome Home! You are terrific – wife, mom, friend & writer! Glad to hear you had a great conference. The best is yet to come. Love Robb

Yes, the best is yet to come. In the end, getting published or speaking in front of others pales in comparison to being loved. I may never hold a published book in my hand but if his hand is in mine then indeed, the best has come.

I Love You,

Monday, July 13, 2009

Counting blessings not years!

Why do we usually wait until something bad or tragic happens to ‘count our blessings’? What if we counted them in the good times too?

Today I celebrate my birthday and I’m pretty sure it’s the last year I want to be counting in years so, I’ve decided to start counting my birthday in blessings. I know my list has more blessings than years and I hope that will make me feel younger, (I’d consider it a birthday bonus if it makes me look younger too but I’m not sure blessings can reverse the signs of aging; I think that falls under the miracle category!).

So, where do my blessings begin?
1. For a start, I woke up this morning. The first words I heard were my husband saying, “Happy Birthday!”
2. My Facebook page is quickly filling up with birthday wishes and the phone is ringing with the voices of friends near and far.
3. What about the big stuff? Health and happiness … I have those in full measure.
4. To love and be loved in return … I do, I am.

I know my list is much longer but if I keep sharing I’m afraid you’d discern my age!

My birthday wish is for everyday to start like this day … counting my blessings instead of the items on my ‘to do’ list. Now I have to go blow out my candles so my wish can come true.

Sweet blessings to you too,

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Amazing Grace

Today I had the privilege of seeing Grace in action. My dear friend Rola lost her husband Mike to a sudden illness last week and today family and friends gathered at a memorial service to honor him and celebrate his life. People shared stories of Mike; testified to his integrity, strength of character, humor and his love and devotion to Rola and their two children Nicholas,6, and Nicole,1.

My husband sat to my left, my close friends to my right; throughout the service crumpled, tear-soaked tissues littered our laps. In the front row, Nicholas to her left, family to her right, Rola lifted her face, she even smiled as people spoke of Mike, and she rose to hug the soloist. Amazing Grace.

After the service we went to her, offering comfort.

“I’m so sorry,” I said hugging her.

“It’s OK Kristin he’s in a better place now.” By the look in her eyes, I knew she meant it. Amazing Grace.

Then she touched Robb’s shoulder, looked at me and said, “You are so lucky to have him, tell him you love him every second of everyday.” She looked at him and said, “You’re lucky to have her too, tell her every chance you get.” Amazing Grace.

During the service Mike’s brother-in-law led the congregation in the hymn Amazing Grace. Before we sang he said they included the often omitted 5th verse, explaining that this verse provided hope.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound …

Rola, you are living testimony to the Amazing Grace of God. We love you and honor Mike’s memory today and always.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go!

– Dr. Seuss

Congratulations on your Graduation Brandon, we are so proud of you.

Love Mom & Dad

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Happy Birthday Letter

Yesterday our baby turned four. On his first birthday I wrote him a Happy Birthday letter. I’ve written one every birthday since and will continue the tradition.

Whenever I read that first letter the tenderness of my words touch me. The letters I write now are all about his accomplishments; how big he is, the funny things he says and does, but the first letter is all about how much our hearts grew when he came into our lives.

It’s my joy to share that first birthday letter with you; I hope it encourages you to write Happy Birthday letters to your children too.

Happy Birthday Matthew,

A year ago we were anxiously waiting for you to make your entrance into this world. We imagined what you would be like…who you would look like…how big you would be…how cute you would be. Brandon talked about teaching you how to play hockey and go dirt bike riding and your Dad was busy thinking about all the things he would do to look after us. And, your mom just wanted to hear your first cry, see your sweet face and know that you were healthy and happy to be in the world…happy to join the Early family.

If you only know one thing for sure in this world, know that you are loved! Know that we prayed for you…we hoped for you…we loved you even before we knew we were going to have you. While your dad and I were dating we talked about having a baby…we talked about how much fun it would be to give Brandon a little brother and we thought about how much love a baby would bring into our family.

Your big brother started asking for you the day after your dad and I got married!!! It’s true, he couldn’t wait for you. He asked me almost every day if I was pregnant yet and when I finally answered ‘yes’ he didn’t believe me…I had to show him the pregnancy test.

So little one, know this for sure…you were a wish all our hearts made, you were a prayer all our lips spoke and you were loved by all of us then, now, forever and for always.

Happy first birthday to our precious little boy!

Mom, Dad & Brandon

Monday, May 18, 2009

Celebration of Life

“Good morning sweetie,” I said. “Time to get up, today is your celebration of life birthday party at school.” I tickled his toes and asked, “Did you grow overnight?” I think he did.

The Celebration of Life ceremony is a Montessori school tradition to honor a child’s birthday and mark the passage of time.

Yesterday we made a poster with pictures from each year of his life. We picked a sweet one from the day he was born and underneath we wrote his birthday: May 24, 2005. We had fun looking through our favorite pictures and chose a few for each year: his first haircut, riding the Thomas train we rented for his 2nd birthday and a collage of all the sports he learned at three … soccer, swimming, skating and riding his bike.

We brought the poster and some snacks with him to school. The teacher asked all the children to sit in a circle and the celebration began. She lit a candle and placed it in the middle of the circle. Matthew sat beside her on a mat. In front of them were four additional candles, one for each year of his life. She handed him a globe and asked him to walk to the centre of the circle; this represents the passage of time as the earth revolves around the sun.

As he walked around the candle, the children sang a celebration song to the tune of “Here we go round the mulberry bush" …

“Here we go around the sun, around the sun, around the sun. Here we go around the sun until the year is done.”

During the ceremony the teacher asked me how big he was and how much he weighed when he was born. We talked about what he was like when he was a baby. Then he walked around the circle with his poster showing each of his friends his baby picture. He sat back down by his teacher and they looked at the pictures from when he was one. Everyone liked the picture of him getting his first haircut. They repeated the birthday walk around the candle for each year of his life. When he finished his four year walk they sang happy birthday and he blew out the candles. All of his friends gave him a hug as he walked around the circle one last time.

Then they all enjoyed the snack we prepared. Matthew wanted me to sit beside him, a place of honor I knew I wouldn’t always have when he grows older. Tomorrow morning, I’ll walk in his room and say, “Good morning sweetie, time to get up.” I’ll tickle his toes and ask, “Did you grow again?” I already know the answer; it’s the same answer I’ll get every morning as I watch my baby grow into a boy overnight.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Our First Mother's Day

Sheepishly, he pushed the pink piece of construction paper folded like a card across the table. I opened it and read the words scrawled across the page in red marker:

Roses r red
Vilotes are blue
Sugar and you are sweet
And mama I love you!

Mama. He usually called me Kristin. When his dad and I got engaged Brandon said he’d call me mom but after the wedding he said it was too hard because he was used to calling me Kristin. I understood; his dad and I dated for more than a year before we were married. I could see how a 13 year-old would find the shift difficult. But deep down I wondered … was it just a change in vocabulary that was too hard? Would we truly develop a mother – child bond? These questions rolled around in my heart on this, my first Mother’s Day.

The waiter came to the table and took our order. The restaurant was the white table cloth kind, a treat after church to celebrate the day. I opened the card again, read the words and smiled. Then all of a sudden Brandon outstretched his hand, in it he held a small grey box.

“Here” he said. “Open it. And when someone asks you where you got it, tell them your son gave it to you.”

The treasure inside was a sweet, silver heart with a small cross in the center. All those fears rumbling in my heart quieted and I realized this wasn’t just my first Mother’s Day; it was our first Mother’s Day.

Today, six years after I received my first Mother’s Day Heart Necklace, I received another. A beautiful silver heart on which four colored birthstone’s hang, one for each of us: Robb, Kristin, Brandon & Matthew.

When Brandon asked me why I wasn’t wearing the necklace he gave me many years ago I told him my heart and our family had grown bigger since our first mother’s day. But the fact that he asked reminded me that on our first Mother’s Day, he gave me more than a necklace, he gave me a piece of his heart.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms’s who carry a piece of their children’s heart in their own.