Faith, Hope and 41

I look smug about this birthday, don’t I?

Last October 7th, when I turned 40, I spent the day tending to my youngest, who was recovering from a, not-so-minor, out-patient procedure he had done that morning. While I would not recommend celebrating your own birthday in that way, I have to admit, it absolutely kept me from focusing on myself, and the fact that I had entered my FORTIES.

I’ve never been afraid of forty. But admittedly, it still stuns me, at times, that I am in this decade of my life.

At that time, I considered writing something about turning 40, but I stopped myself, because, let’s admit it, I was no expert on 40. All I knew was based on hearsay, and emotion, not, necessarily, reality. I was a mere baby in terms of what I knew and felt about it.  I suppose I still am, but I feel a bit more qualified to speak on it now that I’m ‘older and wiser’… *cough*. Or something.

The last several years have all been magical for many reasons, but this year, the year from 40 to 41, has helped me solidify my belief that I am stronger than I ever realized. It’s been a long, hard, winding road getting to this point, but I love going along it. Sometimes, I want to run ahead and know what’s around the next bend, other times, I want to straggle behind and linger in the moment. But I’m always – always – thankful for every moment of it.

Because, I know where I’ve been.

The week I turned 30, my baby girl turned one and we closed on our first home. While there were many cracks already showing, my 30s appeared, from the outside, to be off to a picture-perfect start.

Nearly everything changed from 30 to 40. So much was given and so much was taken away. Sometimes, I feel as though I lived 20 lifetimes in that decade. It was a difficult one, on many levels. I wrote about it a lot on this blog, before the bottom fell out (again), but if you were to go back and look for them, you might not know it. I white-washed much of it. I wanted to find meaning in all of the difficulties, and the suffering. I wanted, desperately, for it to have been for a reason. I needed to find that reason and know it. But, it’s not always easy to see or understand. Sometimes, it just takes faith.

My 30s were built on faith. That was all I had. My 40s are being built on hope.

I am realizing what is meant by older and wiser. I wish it came with a few less wrinkles and sags, but I am trying to embrace those as well.

There are countless variables in life, and I know that anything can happen, at any moment. I see it every day. And that is where the lessons of my 30s, those built on faith, become invaluable. If I didn’t have those, I would be living in fear, because I’ve seen too much happen, and I know what can happen.

But I also know the beauty that can come from those very things; when the wounds become scars.

A wound is messy and always susceptible to being reopened or infected. A scar is where it has healed; a reminder of what was and what is. It does not have to be a shameful reminder.

And that is what gives me hope.

Here’s to my forties.

(linked up with JustWrite)

marsala and baby bella mushrooms smell heavenly…

marsala and baby bella mushrooms smell heavenly...

Create Your WishList or Registry from Anywhere With Wishpot

gift

As you peruse the web, how many times have you come across an item for sale and thought “I wish someone would get that for me”? Do you scribble items on paper, or figure you’ll remember them later when someone asks what you want for your birthday… only to lose the crumpled up paper or completely forget what it was?

With the holidays coming, you’ll realize even more how useful Wishpot.com can be. Most people will probably use it as a bridal or baby registry, but why not go ahead and make your own wish list.logo_homepage

The premise of Wishpot is simple: gather a list of all of the gifts you’d like to receive from around the web into one spot. It’s not a shopping site – Wishpot doesn’t sell the items on your list. But it does make the shopping more manageable.

Wishpot offers several different options to make it easy to gather and share your lists:

1) Add the button to your browser to save items you find:

wishpot button

2) Import your Amazon.com wish list

3) Take a photo with your mobile phone, enter the ISBN number and email it to your Wishpot account (you must sign up for your Wishpot email address on the “mobile settings” page under “Account settings”)

Additionally, you can:

  • sign up for price alerts:

“Now, when you add an item to your wish list you can set a price alert. This means that Wishpot will notify you when the item you selected goes on sale or reaches a target price. Click here to see how to add a price alert.”

  • request contributions for a gift:

“Now you have the ability to request contributions for items you add to your wish list or registry. Click here to see how to request a contribution.”

  • request cash gifts:

Click here to see how to request a cash gift

  • create lists for various friends and family members to save gift ideas for each (there is no limit to the number of lists you can create, so list your little heart out)

In my opinion, nothing beats the ease of shopping online. I’d rather sit in the comfort of my home, in my pajamas than fight the crowds and lines at the mall. And the fact that Wishpot makes it even easier? Priceless.

Sound off: How often do you shop online?

photo credit

There is a time to avert your eyes. And a time to take notice.

(*this post was originally posted November 19, 2007)

This past weekend I had several errands to run, so Saturday I loaded up the kids and we headed to the stores.

We first went to lunch, because frankly, it was like Old Mother Hubbard’s house around here. The cupboard’s were bare, short of a bag of leftover Halloween candy. That would have been a viable option for me, except that I had already eaten all of the candy that I like…

After lunch we hit some of the local stores. I knew exactly where I wanted to go and what I needed to get.

When we lived in Wisconsin, this would have been no quick trip. We lived in a very rural town and had to travel 2 hours to the nearest mall and 45 minutes to the nearest Wal-Mart. (but no walking barefoot through the snow uphill both ways…) Any shopping had to be planned or done online.

The lovely part of this was that I learned to be content with what I had. Honestly, there’s not much I can think of buying that a 2 hour trip in a car with kids won’t cure me of. I did most of my clothes shopping online.

When we moved to Maryland, I stayed away from the malls because we didn’t have the money to get by each week, let alone do any extra shopping.

But recently, I’ve had to go into REAL stores, with real items I can touch! and smell! and they are displayed so lovely. And the desire for “things” has had to be stuffed aside repeatedly. I was amazed at the things that I began to think that I “needed”… things that before Saturday, I didn’t even know I could buy. I went into BabiesRUs to use a gift certificate that we received for Declan’s birth. I knew just what I wanted… but walking to the right aisle led me past digital baby scales for making sure your baby is the perfect weight in between doctor’s visits. Sterilization kits. Gadgets for increasing your baby’s IQ in utero. Luxury strollers. I had to keep my eyes averted just to keep from passing out from the panting.

Even our local Wal-Mart is fancy, with its wooden floors and track lighting. Shopping at Wal-Mart is hard enough without having to deal with every thing screaming from the racks for you to take it home.

It is hard to be content.

There is so much that we think we must have.

That we think will make us happy.

That will fill a void.

That we think will make us popular and well-thought of.

If only we had could have it.

Then life would be be complete.

But that’s not how its supposed to be. Not when there are people who have to do without basic necessities each and every day. When people are suffering from diseases that are treatable.

I love beautiful things. And don’t believe there is anything inherently wrong with beautiful things. But there is when we ignore the suffering of others while we bask in “OUR” things.

My prayer for each of us is that we will be content with the things we’ve been blessed with and that we will remember and help take care of those who have been blessed with little.

Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.
~ Deuteronomy 15:11

Family Management Tools – Using Cozi

If you are anything like me, you’ve got lists all over the place. Lists for groceries, lists of activities on a calendar, lists of memories that you may one day (but probably will never) scrapbook… And they probably are covering your fridge.

It’s hard keeping track of everything that goes on around a home – field trips, meetings, sports practices.

Cozi is a site where you can manage your family’s calendar, make lists (groceries, to do) and even post photos and journal.

And it is super simple to figure out. Better yet – it’s free!

Your home page will look something like this (but not with that super cute baby – he’s mine):

(click photos to enlarge for more detail)

cozi home screenshot

You will immediately have access to your journal, calendar and shopping lists.

When you choose your calendar and set it up, you can assign a different color for each family member. Then when you view your calendar, choose to view all members or individuals:

family calendar screen shot

Access your lists – create new ones, print them, even search for recipes (!):

Cozi grocery list screenshot

And be sure to use the journal to jot down things you don’t want to forget, such as cute babies in a vest and tie:

family journal screenshot

See – simple. You are sure to find something about Cozi that will help you manage your family better, and allow you to see your fridge again.

photo: striatic; screenshots: mine