Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Real Life

If you were to look on my social media pages, you would see lots of pictures of smiling people. People in Disneyland, people with arms wrapped around each other in loving hugs, people gazing into each others eyes with joy. You would see a tidy clean house, food made pretty, a large family gathered around playing games. Is that real life? You bet! Is it ALWAYS real life? Not a chance.

I was sitting on my couch, watching my favorite show. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of a pair of Snow White dress up shoes. On my orange bench. Where they do NOT belong. I seriously considered putting them away. I didn't. What I thought next is that I need to snap a picture and post it. That's REAL life. Toys not put away, folded (at least it's folded) laundry on my dining table. Miscellaneous items strewn about my countertop (which has been re-done...for the official record!) and baby items willy nilly on the floor.

We tend to only post the good. The things that put us in the right light, things that make it seem like life is just peachy. But...what if it's not? What if, at those family game nights, there is a tremendous fight? What if the tidy house picture is taken in the ONLY spot that is clean? What if every other plate of food looks terrible?? We let our moments be defined by what "looks" good. We show those because the alternative is raw, emotional and defenseless.

Real life doesn't happen with roses and sunshine. Real life is in the trenches....when kids fight, the baby won't sleep, when you're threatened by someone else's relationship with someone you love, when money is tight and it seems to be "raining" every day. Real life is hitting the floor with your knees, crying out to God to get you through one more day, please let the baby sleep, please provide, please...please....please. Real life is fighting with your spouse, being sad because you don't have one, crying because you're far from home, being angry because someone let you down. Real life is vulnerable.

Real life is also busy...we really do volunteer at functions, we have been to Disneyland twice in 6 months, we sold fireworks for a week, our girls go to as a counselor. What you don't see is the exhaustion, the long gaps between attending church, the not spending time with each other, the missed snuggles and the fights because we feel distant. Real life is knowing you have this moment...don't waste it. Real life is remembering that people are more important than things...really remembering! Real life is loving others, even when we don't have the "want" to. Real life is a simple touch, a pat on the back, truly listening, laughing at the big and little things. Real life is a quiet night at home or a boisterous game night. Real life is caring when they're sick, holding your tongue and crying when they cry. Real life is.....real.

I'm going to try to be more real. I'm a pretty open book anyway, but I'm going to be more. Maybe if I am, someone else will be too. Maybe if we all are a little more real, we can take strength from each other.

I didn't put the Snow White shoes away. They're still sitting there. Real life is knowing the sweet grandgirl who wears them will be over again soon. Enjoy this life, friends.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Oh What a Wonderful World

Everywhere you look, it seems this world is falling apart. There is constant strife in politics, war breaks out at a moments notice, hunger is still an issue and children are killing children. Yet....babies are born. Breath fills my body. The sun continues to rise. There are adventures to be had at the drop of a hat and joy to be found.

I'm doing a study on 1 John right now. It's based in how God loves us and how we should love others. It's been very convicting and very good. I didn't realize how much I let my own hurts dictate how I love others. I thought I was doing it right, thought I was loving well. It's not that I wasn''s that I was picky on WHO I showed love to.

It's right in His word. "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Matthew 22:39) And guess who my neighbor is! You. The guy across the street. The frustrated mom in the grocery store. That one person that I deem unlovable because of the way they hurt me a while back. The person who has it all together; I figured they didn't need my love as they have it all together!

While I've been studying 1 John, there have been some tragic things to happen in this world. People are divided, arguing over what is right and what isn't. But me...well, I have peace. I know that nothing happens in this world that God isn't aware of. I know that there is an enemy who has been allowed to roam, cause chaos all over. I know that even he has been overcome by the Almighty. I know that, while things may look scary, God truly is in control. And I know He loves me. And I know He loves you.

There are small things that happen every day. My grandson's smile. My husband arriving safely after work and kissing me hello. Our girls enjoying K's company while she's still here...the laughter that rings through the house brings much joy. Sharing movies with the girls that we have memories of from our youth. Going to dinner with his parents, my parents and friends. The sun shining while it snows, the rain sounds my home mini makes, our granddaughters very different personalities. All six girls at home. My small group ladies. My supportive team leader and group. The word of God that never returns void. The love and grace that God so graciously extends...even when I don't extend it myself. Our church family. And SO MUCH MORE.

I'm continuing to work on loving and I'm praying I don't get complacent when this study is over. I want to be the woman God has called me to be. I want to be a bright spot in this wonderful world.

This world isn't perfect. It hasn't been since the fall so many years ago. But there is hope. And promises. If you know Him, I encourage you to read His word. Take heart and comfort in knowing this world is overcome. If you don't know Him, I pray you will come to know Him. He is for you.

Take care, friends. Find the small things and enjoy them!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Happy New Year

It's a New Year. A blank canvas for God to paint on. Last year is in the rear view mirror, fading fast. While there are things that happened that won't be forgotten, this whole New Year stretches out before us, waiting to unfold.

We capped off our "experience" year with a trip to Disneyland. It was magical, traumatic, fun and (at times) full of irritation. Harley got sick, I had one break down and, thank goodness, Matt did great! Overall, it was a wonderful trip. We rode all the rides, ate all the food and just enjoyed the time with our girls. It was a perfect ending to our not so perfect year.

It's funny, right, how you start off a New Year with a "Plan"? Last year, we planned our "experience" year. Ha! While we did a lot of the things, some of them were done without Matt. We certainly didn't "Plan" TWO back surgeries. We didn't plan on PTO/ESL running out. We didn't plan Matt sitting at our kitchen table for two months. We didn't plan on buying a new car. We didn't even plan the trip to Disneyland! That was a BONUS!!

Our plans for last year....torn up and tossed away. We learned to take the moments as they came. We learned to roll with the punches. We learned that, while it might not look like what we wanted, it was exactly what God had planned. We learned to trust and lean on Him fully. We learned that Matt is special...4% special. We learned that we are stronger together than we thought. We learned that our girls are stronger than we knew. We learned that time doesn't wait.

Grasp this time, friends. It may not look like what you thought it would, but it's YOURS. Slow down, sit a while and soak up those around you. It's so easy to be overwhelmed by what is happening...we often forget to enjoy the moments.

This is a whole New Year. A giant, empty slate. This Year....every day a new day. Every day a blessing from God, even if it doesn't "feel" like it. Every day, surrounded by a Father who loves more than I ever could.

We have tentatively planned this year to be our "Explore Idaho" year. We'll see.

Grasp God, friends. His hand is outstretched. He loves you.

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 4, 2017

It's Already Christmas??!

Wow! For a year that seemed to drag on, I can't believe it's Christmas time!

Last Saturday, we decided to go cut down our own Christmas tree. It was an experience, let me tell you! After driving completely the WRONG way, we found a tree. It's a pretty great tree, but very poky. After we cut down said tree, we followed the map. Which led us to the BACKSIDE of all things main road. We traveled a dirt, pot-hole filled road for what seemed like EVER. And after we finally hit pavement again....our tree decided to kamikaze half way off our car! It was an adventure, for sure.

After that start to our Christmas season, I thought I'd write this blog. Ha!

We set out to make this the "Experience" year. Little did we know what kind of things were coming!

I'll give a quick re-cap:

Harley: Going to a small alternative school. She really likes it. Her artistic talent is growing and we are constantly amazed by what she can do. She continues to tell others about God, even when it makes them uncomfortable. This is her first time in a main stream high school. It can be nerve wracking. She went on the mission trip to Washington this year; lives are changed through those! We are excited to see how God continues to write her story. She's a blessing and a joy!

Savannah: What can I say about this girl??! She chose to spend her 17th birthday volunteering at a concert. The band booth she volunteered at sang "Happy Birthday" to her. That was fun! She's doing well in her online schooling and is taking college courses. She went on the mission trip to Washington and, as always, enjoyed it. Right now, she wants to travel with the christian bands after she graduates in 2018. We're praying that happens. She still wants to run a christian camp; she's making connections and showing so much growth! It's an honor to be her parents!!

Kaily: Here while T isn't. They moved to Italy in the beginning of this year. She misses Germany. Her and T came to visit this summer. It was a fun time! (shadowed by Matt's back issues; more on that later) We got to know T better and that was good. She is happy to be here, but would rather be with him! Of course, she'd love to have all her people in one space. Someday, I'm sure that will happen! I'm happy she's's nice to have all 6 girls around for Christmas!

Chellsei: She had a BABY! He's a sweet little one! Cody is working at a great job with benefits. They're now trying to figure out married life AND parenthood. Can not wait to see the adventures God is writing for this little family!

Emily: Working at the hospital. She works nights and weekends...lots of differential there. She moved into her place and promptly received my parents cats. Homer is a bit of a rascal and Waffles likes to be tucked into bed. Emily is still figuring out single, adult life. I wonder if any of us "adults" really have it figured out??!

Hillary: Raising those 2 girls! Reyasunshine just turned 5! and Sweet Piper just turned 3. Jeremy has a job in the healthcare industry and seems to really enjoy it. They are pet-less. Except for a fish Savannah bought R on an Aunt Ti-Ti date. Yes, Hillary LOVED that....HA!

I've recently started volunteering at Proverbs 31 ministries and I LOVE it. It's been amazing how God has used the studies that I lead to speak to my heart. I've met some amazing women and can't wait to continue in this exciting venture!

Matt is doing amazingly better. I still watch him carefully, but we both feel he is well on his way to complete recovery. Our marriage has been strengthened and we are more committed to each other than ever!

We've gone to multiple concerts, explored different back roads (not on purpose), went to the fair and just enjoyed each other. We've cried, we've laughed, we've yelled and just lived. We've learned, given more of ourselves than we thought possible and just mindlessly moved through our days. We've leaned on one another, pushed away from each other and truly, just loved.

God is so good all the time. I know nothing has unfolded without His hand holding us.

As we go into this final season of 2017, I encourage you to enjoy the adventure God has written for you. Regardless what may come your way, He loves you and is holding you. You are His great adventure; He delights in you.

Merry Christmas, friends....much love.

Monday, November 20, 2017

SO Thankful

This Thanksgiving week, I have a lot to be thankful for. If you had asked me this summer, I might've had a different thought. It's sometimes hard to be thankful in the middle of life happening. it is! My thankful blog...and the top 10 (or so) things!

Things I'm thankful for:

1) My husband. The way he can walk. The way he takes care of us. The way he loves me.

2) Daughters et all.

3) Grandchildren: Reya, Piper and Quintinius. They bring such joy to this Nanie's heart!

4) A warm house

5) A car that runs

6) Disneyland

7) Sons-in-law

8) Spider killing spray

9) A new fence


11) Friends who texted encouraging words during Matt's recovery...every week.

12) P31 ministries

And God. Always God. Without Him, there would be no survival. He is so good all the time!

Enjoy your holiday, friends. He loves you.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Falling after Summer

The summer is finally over. And I am so very glad. It was a heck of a summer.

Matt went down about June. As he sat at our dining table or leaned on our counter, I found myself alone. I did things with the girls, alone. I cleaned house, picked up his "chores"...alone. I slept alone. As his pain increased and his movement decreased, my heart hardened. I got angry. Not at him, at the situation and all the ways I couldn't make it better. We had visitors from far away lands and,still, I was alone.

I prayed. I believed and expected a miracle. I cried. I yelled and whispered. I took care of everyone. And it seemed like no one took care of me. Matt got worse, I got more "wall" like. I couldn't talk about any of it...I had to be strong for those around me. Me time was a thing of the past. It was hard to see my strong husband so weak. And it was hard for him to be weak. It was hard for him to see me so alone, to stay home as we went out and about and did things he couldn't be a part of. He was alone.

Then Matt had his first surgery. He rebounded well. Life began to look normal. And didn't. He went down again. And this time, I did get mad at him. I knew it wasn't his fault; I was just angry. My birthday came and went; the trip we planned was taken without him. People told me to remember the miracle God had already worked...I did remember. That didn't make this setback easier!

Matt had his second surgery and I am happy to report, as we head into fall, that he is much better. I look him over every day, almost expecting the "other shoe" to drop. I think this time, it's different. I am praying consistently for whole healing.

I recently had the honor of leading an online bible study small group and I tell was much needed! Every word I read was as if it were written for me. And guess what! The next study I get the honor of leading is about anxiety. It always amazes me how God taps into my heart.

I know (and knew) that God has Matt. I know His hand touched Him and healed him. I know He continues to bring him healing....I know He has a plan for Matt that is beyond what we can see. I am so very thankful that his job is waiting for him and thankful that God has placed people in our lives that helped with heavy lifting while Matt was/is healing. I am thankful that I had friends I could say things to and have them bounce them back at me. I'm very thankful for steady surgeon hands. I am thankful for sweet texts from a sweet, encouraging friend. They came regularly and always when I needed them most.

Things are returning to normal. They're slowly heading back into "usual". Chellsei's baby is due in November, right around the corner. Kaily is visiting for a bit. Our sweet Reyasunshine is having a birthday next week. And come December, we are visiting the Mouse House.

It seems like this year has lasted a lifetime. Looking back over the summer, I can see where God answered prayer. Where His hand touched us and took care. I can see where He held back and see where He bottled my tears.

Looking back, I was never really alone.

The birthday trip: time with my dad I would never have had.

Visitors from afar: realizing how we truly have become family.

Picking up his chores: appreciating how much he really does for us

His second surgery: answered prayer. I had asked God that if he was going to have another surgery, that it would be known and done quickly. It was.

God, in His infinite wisdom, has grown me. He has given moments to cry over. Moments to laugh over and moments to learn from. He has blessed me with memories specific to this year, things that will stick and things we can hold onto. I am more for it.

It was difficult being a single parent, the "banker", the heavy and trying to make sure Matt was ok. It was a long, hard summer. But summer is over.

Welcome, Fall. Let's be friends.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Six Leasure Girls

Good Morning! I write to you fresh off the 4th of July firework selling madness! It was a looooong 10 days; I'm still not fully recovered.

Yesterday, I was overjoyed to take C to her sonogram appointment. I got to see our sweet grandbaby, all it's sweet, knit by God, parts. It's amazing to me how God does that. Also, we found out the gender. That is their story to on the lookout!

What joy it is to see your baby, look at the 4 chambers of the heart, the curve of the spine. That quick peek to know if you're buying pink or blue. (I'm traditional, what can I say?) When I was pregnant with Hillary, technology wasn't the same as today. In fact, I don't even think I knew she was a girl until she was born. All subsequent pregnancies, I found out the gender. My mom had told me that whatever my first baby was, that was the only gender I would have. She was right.

In conversation, people often ask how many children we have. When they find out, the next question is boys, girls or both? When they find out it's all girls, they sigh. What follows is "I feel so bad for your husband!" or "Were you trying for a boy?" or worse yet, "Hopefully your next one is a boy!". I always laugh it off and Matty always follows with an explanation that he grew up with all sisters, he loves having all girls. But, sometimes, it leaves me with a nagging thought that I failed.

Boys are so celebrated. There is a thought that after having girls and finally having a boy, you have somehow succeeded. You have somehow risen above and FINALLY gotten the gold. If your first child is a boy, there seems to be a consensus that your life is complete. Someone to carry on the family name, someone to "take over the farm". There is a thought that boys should have a different set of rules. There is a misconception that girls are less than. I beg to differ.

Let me clear up a few things:

-There is NOT more drama in our house....we are a family. All families have drama. It is not increased because of the gender of the majority.

-Our girls can out eat boys. Our grocery bill isn't less because we don't have boys.

-I wouldn't know if boys are easier. I've never had one. That's like asking if I wish I had octopus tentacles. Plus, I don't really care that you think boys are easier.

-No, we weren't trying for a boy. After our 4th child, a boy wasn't on the radar and honestly...I WOULDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH ONE!

-Our bathroom is probably cleaner than one with a boy. But sometimes, it might be the same.

-Our girls are strong.

-We watch all kinds of movies. Just because we're girl heavy doesn't mean we're all rom-com over here.

-Our girls were knit together by the Almighty. Knit by His mighty hand with His purpose for their lives intact. Why are you sorry they're here??

-Our girls enjoy sports, mud and some even like bugs.

-Matty is honored to be their father. He gets to dance with each one at their wedding; he loves being their Daddy.

-No, he doesn't sit on the porch with a shot gun. We have raised God loving/honoring girls. We trust them. Plus, we're vigilant about who they're with and what they're doing. If you have a boy, do you sit on the porch until he gets home? No? Good.

-Not all of our girls like shoes, clothes, make up. And that's ok.

Don't be sorry they're all girls, celebrate with me that we get to be a part of their raising. Cry with me when they wander, rejoice with me when they return. Pray with me for their future and the stories that God is unfolding. Love with me when the great things happen....and when the sad things overtake. God has created each one, just like our grandbaby. He knit them together in my womb, knew them before the beginning of time and (this is important) PLANNED them! He knew their names....He planned for them to be born. Who am I to question His plan?? I don't...I just love them.

I am excited for Chellsei and Cody to become parents. Excited to watch our sweet grandbaby grow and learn and love. I'm excited for Reya and Piper to be cousins. I'm excited for T & K to eventually have kiddos. Excited to watch Emily, S and Harley's stories unfurl as God intended. Whether we have all grandgirls or some grandsons sprinkled in, what an honor to get to be involved. What joy to know that they were planned and created by a loving God!

My name is Erin. I'm 44 years old. I'm the wife of Matty, mother of 6 Leasure girls. Grandmother to 3. Mother to 3 sweet son-in-loves. The daughter of the One, true King!

Enjoy your day, friends. Hug your children and love your adventures!