I'm a redeemed child of God and the momma to four vivacious daughters. I'm passionate about finding hidden blessings in the trials of life, living it out in an honest and open way, while encouraging those around me to believe in better.

10 Dec

joy *is* found in counting! {986-1000}

It started back in January like this:

1. A place to find joy amidst my sorrow.

And I continued counting.

In sorrow.

In pain.

In happy.

In mundane.

When I didn’t feel like it.

When I was drained.

It was in my little green notebook,

I lessened the pain.

It was true Joy I sought.

Slowly. Surely.

Eucharesteo revealed.

Thanks … it’s in the giving.

Joy … it’s in the counting.

And counting I did,

One through one thousand.

Jotting each joy,

turning sorrow to praise.

And thankful,

so very thankful,

He’s filled my heart with such grace.

986. staging
987. advent with my girls
988. party blogging
989. together in ten
990. true life when we’re connected to the source
991. a night out for momma
992. riding lessons for Wynter
993. elf antics – having way too much fun!
994. a Christmas angel
995. more party planning
996. Bibles for Iran
997. stocking sneaking, tippy-toeing
998. voxing with my sis
999. stovetop fragrance

One Thousand!!

5 years; 4 deployments; and my Army Ranger nephew is home for good!

This journey, this counting … has brought me many blessings. But most important, it’s taught me to find blessings hidden in the mess. I’m not gonna lie, there were days I’d have to scrape at the very depths of my soul to find thanks, to find joy, to find blessing.

But every time, if I was willing … with my heart raw and wide open to receive … there it was.

There He was.

There hidden in my ugly, imperfect mess was the teeniest glimmer of joy. Until it became easier and expected, and not so teeny and difficult to find. It was more than a glimmer and easier to see … this joy journey. This road to eucharisteo.

I’ve counted to one thousand. Written down 1,000 joyful blessings. Tonight I will begin again, starting with 1,001.

Join me? It will change you. There is joy to be found everywhere, anywhere … and no better time to start than now. Shall I dare you?

Posted in 1000 gifts, blessed, brett

6 Jun

wordless wednesday :: a visit from my nephew

Posted in brett, wordless wednesday

21 May

a message of gratitude …

I interrupt my regularly scheduled posts of counting joy to bring you this …

My 23 year old nephew was recently deployed for his fourth tour of duty. The last couple of weeks, I was sending urgent messages on Twitter and Facebook asking for prayer for him.

You see, his lung had spontaneously collapsed while he was running and he was in the hospital with tubes helping support his lung so he could breathe.

Then he was flown to Germany.

And then back to the states.

It was decided he’d need surgery to help support and stabilize his lung, and also get rid of any built-up scar tissue. Surgery was last Friday and the Army flew my sister to be with him during surgery and recovery … she ended up with a four hour layover in Charlotte, which meant the girls and I got to spend some time with her!!

Brett’s doing well and will be taking leave for a couple of weeks to go back home to Wisconsin. He’ll be driving home from Georgia, and will pass through our way, so we’ll get to spend a little time with him too!


I’d like to thank everyone for their prayers and well wishes! The power of social media across the globe amazes me! We even had prayers coming in from Indonesia for Brett!! Who says God doesn’t tweet?!

And so …

As a tribute to Brett, to his family, and to the thousands serving everyday, I wanted to post this video I put together when Brett first went off to basic training. He’s since worked his way through Airborne and Rangers training and I couldn’t be prouder of him!

I’ve searched and searched my archives for a more recent photo of Brett and came up empty. The best I could do was this photo from a couple of years ago. Brett has definitely changed from a pale twiggy teenage boy into handsome young man who serves his country.

I love you Brettie and am so incredibly proud to be your auntie!

Posted in brett, family, movie

31 Dec

happy new year’s eve

As I’ve mentioned, we’re down here in Mexico having a great time.  ‘Cept for the one rainy day, we’ve had great weather, great food, great family time!

We’re eating breakfast in the room this morning, so I have a little extra time and thought I’d post some of our Christmas photos.

As you can tell from the lighting … we started our Christmas morning out very early!

The kids get one present from Santa each year … it’s always something special and wrapped in red …

I love these two images.  Hunter was just sitting there looking at the tree and gifts … for me, there’s such wonder in that image.

And the other … love her amongst the wrapping paper and boxes and chaos!  She looks so little and everything around her looks so “big.”

Okay … major kudos to dad!  He was all over the zhu-zhu pet thing … before they were sold out and popular!  He had gotten the girls each one and also some of the fun accouterments.

Only trouble?  In true careless CJ style … he left them all out in his office.  Since I’ve moved to my new office last year, the girls don’t go up to his very often anymore … they’re usually found hanging out in mine … but still!

Hunter wandered up to his office one day looking for him and came down with a couple boxes of zhu-zhu pets.  The girls were beside themselves.  I didn’t realize at that point the “hugeness” of them … or that he’d gotten them for Christmas.  I just told the girls they’d have to wait for dad to get home and ask.

“No.” was his answer.  “They’re for Christmas.”  And tears ensued.

Nice move dad.

Anyway … so this is Wynter kissing her zhu-zhu pet when she opened it.  And little Huntie smothering mothering hers.

Here’s Hunt with a webkinz and Taylor with her Santa gift … a new Macbook.  She wasn’t expecting much for Christmas this year.  I mean, yeah … she’s on the naughty list and all {kidding … sorta} … but here’s the story …

She’s been asking to get her bedroom remodeled.  I’ve been putting her off and putting her off, but finally thought it might be a good Christmas gift for her, so started getting bids.

Well … after meeting with the contractor one afternoon and reviewing the space, I thought we were all set and would pull off the surprise swimmingly!  They were even going to draw up some 3D images that I would give her as a present.

That is until she comes downstairs later that night holding the plans in her hand asking, “what’s this about?”

Crumb!  Are you kidding me?!?

I had to spill it all …

Anyway … she got a new Macbook … and yes, I’m deducting it from the contractor’s bill!  {kidding … sorta}

And a few other random images.  But can I just mention … see Hunter with that xylophone?  That thing was impossible to get!  Impossible!

I didn’t want just any toy xylophone and this one was a nice cross between both worlds.  Around $30ish bucks and oh so pretty!  But it was out of stock at every site I found.

Finally!  Bingo!  Found one in stock and ordered it.  Wait … hold up!  The phone rings and it’s the company apologizing, but she was at the store til 10pm the night before and shipped out her last xylophone.  Can you believe it?

I finally found one online at Saks.  Seriously.  A xylophone from Saks.

But the Christmas present of all presents?  My nephew Brett returned home from Iraq for the holidays!!

Posted in brett, christmas, family photos

11 Sep

nine.eleven & a boy grows up {repost}

I wrote the following post almost a year and a half ago.  I think today is the perfect day to remember our heros all over this world that are serving our country.  And to also remember the families that are sacrificing their family members for us.

You’ll read the following, so this is out of order, but I’ll give you the follow-up first.

This boy … my nephew, went on to graduate from the Airborne Unit and Ranger training.  He’s 20 years old and deployed just a couple of weeks ago.

There are men and women like him all over the country.  Families, fathers, mothers … like my sister … who have said good-bye and are left to wait for a call, an email, a Facebook message. :)  And to pray.

Let’s remember to pray for these people, our heros, today.

If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share a bit about Brett.  He’s my first nephew, of my only sister, my only sibling.  Brett has a younger brother, my other nephew.  I have two.  I also have a step-nephew.  But I guess I’m stressing the fact that I don’t have umpteen nieces and nephews.

Basically, these two boys that I’ve felt were like my own.

Brett is the most loving, giving spirit … ever since he was little.  He remembers birthdays, mother’s day, special occasions … and would always make sure he had something to give.

Taylor is enamored by him.  Always has been.

I especially would like to share this … I have a hard time ‘witnessing’ to other people.  Sharing my faith, my beliefs.  But before Brett left, God was telling me to talk to him.  Tell him.  And as hard as this is to say … the very real risk is, that I may never have a chance again.  And I was very honest when I talked to Brett about it.  If anything happened to him, I’d never forgive myself for not sharing what God laid on my heart.

Don’t get me wrong.  Brett’s heard it all before … he’s even made an altar call or two.  He’s said the “sinner’s prayer” … he understands.

But he’s also a kid.  When I was 20 … God was kinda the furtherest thing from my mind.  I had my own agenda to fill.  That is, of course, until I needed him.  Anyone get that?

So when we had our going away party for Brett, I waited til the very end {pure nerves was the reason}, and asked Brett if I could talk to him privately.  He thought he was in trouble.  :)

I told him, explained to him … what God laid on my heart for him.  He patiently listened.  Said he got it.  Thanked me for talking to him.

Honestly, I couldn’t read him.  Didn’t know if he really ‘got it.’  But prayed.  Everyday.

And then I got this Facebook message from him yesterday:

“hey auntie i just wanted you to know that im thinking of you and your always in my prayers. love you so much and thank you for that talk we had in your house. it really made me think and have a new out look on things”


Today … we should pray.  Remember, listen {to that still small voice inside of us}, and pray.

And now to the original post:


This image brings tears to my eyes.  This is a mom who spent the last 19 years devoted to this boy, this man.  This is a mom who’s spent the last three or four years completely torn up over who this boy would become.  This is a mom who spent the last six weeks sleepless, lonely, and full of wondering.  This is a mom who is ecstatic to finally see her son, her soldier.  This mom is my sister.  The boy?  My hero.

Brett graduated from his Army basic training on Thursday, June 5 at Fort Knox, KY.  On Friday morning, he took a bus {with many other soldiers} to Aberdeen, MD where he’ll sped the next 11 weeks being trained in Utilities Repair.  At this point, we don’t know where he’ll go after that, but he does have a three year commitment.

We flew out at 4:15 am, for his ceremony in Kentucky at 8:00.  Then we had the whole day to spend with him.  We went to lunch, shopping, a movie.  We hung out.  We visited the Patton Military museum.

I can’t explain the overwhelming feelings of joy and pride I had while watching this boy I knew, suddenly become a man.  A well mannered, polite and loving man.

Trish?  You’ve done good.  Your perseverance with this teenage boy paid off.  Your unconditional love paid off.  Your faith in this boy you call son, paid off.  Your sleepless nights, paid off.  Years of worry, paid off.  You have much to be proud of.  I have no doubt Brett will do great things.

Posted in brett, inspiration