Love Notes

I’ve always been a girl who loves receiving cards and letters through the mail. Yes, snail mail…good old fashioned post office…takes several days to get from your house to mine…subject to weather delays…mis-routing…whatever. We live in such an instant gratification society of text messages and email, that to actually get a handwritten letter is a bit of a novelty.
Over the past few years as my grandmother was drifting away with dementia I wanted to meet her at her own level…and so I started writing her letters and cards and sending them every couple of weeks. She loved getting them and would re read them many times until the next one arrived. As I continued on the journey of writing to her,  I found a few special cards and a few special card makers too. I would buy several dozen handmade cards every time I found them. Since I spend a fair amount of time at craft shows selling my soaps, I often find a fellow artist willing to trade.
I also began sending cards to MRKH sisters around the world…as pen pals. What a joy it is to receive a sweet card from a treasured friend somewhere in the world.
This spring I decided that since my sweet Gram was no longer of this earth, and I still had quite a stash built up of cards…I should be better about writing to my friends.  I also wanted to participate in the Lenten season in a way that would empower and encourage women…and especially the women who have had an impact in my life. So I started a list of women who are important and special in my life. Just making the list was a powerful affirmation of the caliber of fine women in my life.  My aim was to fulfill the 40 days of the Lenten season by writing a quick note each day to one woman on my list.
I armed myself with stamps and spent an hour or so cutting up index cards and writing a woman’s name from my list onto each piece. I tucked them into a coffee cup in my desk drawer, and each day I reached in and blindly drew out a name. Then I picked out a card for this special woman and started to write. I made a rule to not chatter along…but to limit myself to just a couple sentences to show my gratitude for the impact they have made in my life. Simple love notes. I quietly wrote them and dropped them into the mailbox each day.  This simple gesture of love and gratitude really warmed my spirit and heart each day – allowing me to focus on the blessings of wonderful women in my life.
And thats when the magic really happened…as these women received their love notes. Some posted pictures of the card and a public thank you for the card on Facebook. Some sent me private messages letting me know that I brightened their day.  Some are women I see in person regularly and so I got a few thank you hugs. Some confessed they cried when they got it…that they soooo needed it the day it arrived.  Some have never acknowledged them, and that’s ok too. I wasn’t sending them for some publicity stunt…I was purely and simply sharing love and joy.
It is past Easter now, but I didnt make it through my whole list…so I will continue sending out love notes. And I seem to keep adding to my list as well…there are a lot of wonderful people in my life!!! If you would like to be added to my list…send me your address and I’ll drop your name in the coffee cup too!
We serve Christ best when we are serving others. 

Girl Time

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve begun to accept that I can’t get through this life without my girlfriends.  They are there for me time and time again, even when I think I don’t need them…I really do!  And in the last few months in particular, I have made a conscious effort to make girl time a priority.  And my SOUL appreciates it!  No really, it is more important…vital…than I ever expected it to.  I need to laugh, I need to talk, I need to listen, I need to connect on a level that no one quite gets – except my girlfriends.   And you know what, my girlfriends need this too.

This past weekend I did my annual first craft show of the year.  Stress, long hours, hard work, a booth neighbor with migraine inducing lights shining RIGHT IN MY FACE, and hours and hours of talking with the public.  But at the end of the day, I got some much needed girl time with my dear friend Yvonne.  We got caught up on our lives, we talked about snow and spouses, we talked about firewood and flooding, and we laughed and cried a little, drank some wine and had some really good long hugs!

Also last weekend, my best friend on the planet, Eileen sent me a text – Hi Honey, how are you?  Are you ok?  My BFF-ESP kicked in….  Awww…how does she always know???  Because she knows me so well, and we really are connected soul-deep.  I assured her I was fine, told her about the craft show, the lights, and the girl time.  We set a phone call date for Tuesday.  On Tuesday we laughed and got caught up on the last week or so, talked about spouses and work obligations, summer plans, we laughed and cried a little, we talked about priorities and standing up for myself.  We made plans to talk again next week.

And also last weekend, we had Girls Night In at church.  Its our new women’s ministry group where we host a monthly get together for ourselves and women in the community.  We laugh and play crazy games.  We spend some time in the sanctuary talking about God and the role of women in the bible, and in our lives.  We eat fabulous food, and we laugh and talk and pray.  This month we also planted flowers to celebrate spring, and talked about some options for service projects – and you know what came out as the favorite idea?  Working with organizations to support disadvantaged women and children in our area.  Not sure what that will look like exactly – but I’m sure some “drive” of some sort to collect things women and children need – diapers, clothes, feminine hygiene products, toys, blankets, and the like.  I’m excited to work with my friends over the next few months to make a difference in some local lives.   Working on projects together brings us all closer – to each other, and to God.   When we are serving others, we are serving God.

And while I wasn’t able to participate because of my craft show, this past weekend was also another fabulous gathering of girlfriends in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was MRKH Day  – A day of Education, Sharing, and Support for people with MRKH.  This special day is sponsored by the OB/GYN department, Gynecology division of Michigan Medicine In cooperation with Beautiful You MRKH Foundation.  A full day of MRKH information and support…for those of us with MRKH and our parents and partners.  The full day conference event is followed by an evening social – you know, the after party!  I haven’t had a chance to attend an MRKH conference yet, but from all the reports of those who attend…they are incredible.  While we all enjoy the online support groups, Facebook friends, and the incredible opportunities for “instant support” we can find on the internet – nothing quite compares to meeting another MRKH woman in person – and a whole house full of them….MIND.BLOWN.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I LOVE my local girlfriends…wine, chocolate, giggles, tears, talks, phone calls, texts, the whole shebang…but when you have something in your life like MRKH…well, you’re always just a little detached from all the other women in the room.  You can’t quite relate to the period talk, or the parenthood talk, or the grandchild stories – and how in the world can they truly relate to us?  They try…with valiant effort…they ask thoughtful questions and try to understand my perspective…but they don’t quite get it.

The first time I got to meet another MRKH woman face to face, 3 of us got together for dinner.  It was effortless – we instantly connected and could relate to each other just like life long friends.  We laughed, talked about diagnosis and treatment, life choices and having our choices taken away.  It’s been close to 3 years since that encounter….I’ll let Jen tell it, as I think she summed it up perfectly!  I’ve met up with others since then a handful of times.  And each time it’s the same kind of instant connection.  And each time I spend some girl time with MRKH women, I heal just a little bit more.

That’s what girl time is about I think – it’s restorative.  It’s a chance to look at life from different angles….share the heavy burdens….get some insight from trusted friends.  While I love my husband and family dearly, and love to spend time with them – nothing quite compares to girl time.

I’ll leave you with this song by the incomparable Reba McEntire – it’s a new favorite!




Spring is a busy time of year in my world, and so there are lots of potential stressers that rear their ugly heads.  Whether it is in my work life, my home life, my farm life, my business life…when spring rolls around, my stress notches up.  And let’s face it, most of us don’t do “stress” well.  Spring is the season for renewal, rebirth, life starting back up again after a cold dark winter.  It should be bright, happy, clean and fresh…but often, that’s not the case either.  Spring on the farm is mud.  Beneath the melting mountains of snow is several months worth of:

  • trash the dog has scattered
  • broken branches from trees
  • poop – lots of poop!
    • Dogs
    • Ducks
    • Goats
  • mud

And it all gets tracked into the house right?  But let’s talk about the house for minute, too.  We burn wood for heat – it’s the only heat in our home.  We don’t have a furnace, we don’t have baseboards, we have a stove…that burns wood and heats out house quite well….but wood heat is MESSY.  First, you have to haul it in from the woodshed, so you track in snow, mud, and muck.  Then you drop the arm load of firewood – and you get bark, splinters, leaves, dirt, and pitch.  Then, you open up the stove and a cough of ash comes out…  Wood heat is messy heat, but it’s still hard to beat!  We have fans that run 24 hours a day to circulate the heat from the wood stove, but that also means that any lingering smoke and ash gets blown through the whole house.  And we have indoor dogs and cats…so there is hair everywhere, and cat boxes, and muddy dog foot prints – my house is a mess!  And I’m not great neat freak…nor is my husband.  We are both busy and tend to walk in the door and dump whatever is in our hands on the nearest flat surface…so we have clutter…in a small house, with furry friends who aren’t neat freaks either.  I try and make time to sweep up the dog hair, vacuum the hallway and bedroom, and gather up the recycling every week – but it doesn’t always get done….laundry and dishes take priority….usually.  I don’t make the bed when I get up – because it’s usually still occupied.  I scrub up the basics in the bathroom every couple of weeks – and do a thorough clean when I know company is coming.  I keep up on the laundry in the hamper, because if it overflows the cat pees on it.  I do the dishes every couple of days, and when I run out of counter space because the clutter is encroaching….then I spend the time and do a deeper clean and declutter.  My home is well loved, and lived in.  We rarely have visitors, since most of our life happens away from our house – so we don’t spend much any time making sure we are ready for a better homes and gardens photo shoot.  Now, don’t freak out on me…we aren’t candidates for a spot on Hoarding, buried alive…I take my trash out when it’s stinky or on trash day.  There are clean dishes put away in the cupboards, and I wipe down my food prep areas with clorox on a regular basis – but I don’t bother to dust, and I don’t wipe my stove down after every meal.  There is probably a half empty coffee cup somewhere in the house, and there may be a plate or bowl on the floor the dog licked off.  My mirror has toothpaste splatter, and the floor needs to be swept.

But here’s the thing…I’m obsessive about food safety – keeping things refrigerated, eat your leftovers within 3 days, bleach after raw meat, and keeping surfaces that touch food very clean.  Especially if I’m cooking for other people!  And if I’m doing any sort of bath & body production work (making soap, lotion, lip balm or whatever) you can bet that my work area is SPOTLESS – decluttered, scrubbed up, wiped down with bleach  – everything to ensure that there is no “organic contamination”.

Sheesh…see, here in lies the problem…I have the tendency to OBSESS about things.  Maybe overthink things is a better term…or not.  Or maybe it’s both things…but I get into a cycle of thinking of one thing that is bothering me…pretty soon I’m unable to concentrate on any ONE thing because there are 47 other things I’m thinking about too!

In the past couple of years, I have learned to manage my runaway freight train of thoughts by writing.  Writing helps me find the answers that are in clear sight if I would just open my eyes.  But I can’t…because I’m too obsessed with the micro thoughts.  Just ask Chel…I am out of control when I need to write for clarity.  I told her a week ago I felt the need to write about obsessions, and confessed to her again this morning that I still hadn’t done it….and my world is just kind of spiraling into the chaos vacuum right now.  Her advice to me…Write your obsessions! then organize them if need be….AFTER you get them down.  Right…I gotta Write….

So…things I’m obsessing about in no particular order:  flooding, mud, barn cleaning, flood clean up, hay, broken branches, recycling, oil changes, clean sheets, clean eating, chocolate, coffee, bills, book keeping, craft shows, tablecloths, lip balm, beeswax, lotion containers, nitrogen tank, a new couch, a new mattress, new pillows, vegetables, breakfast options, hemming pants, dresses, shoes that go with dresses, recall training, JESUS, time with girlfriends, time to read, pedicures, spa days, upcoming meetings, taxes, end of semester paperwork, edTPA scores, MRKH conferences, making soap, reunions, relationships, humility, pridefulness, devotionals, love notes, being a mentor, and bread.

Ok…let’s see if I can make some sense out of that:  Lot’s of spring cleaning types of things – making time and taking the time to do them.  These are things I have to either have cooperation and help from the hubs to get done, or I just need to tell him “today I’m staying home to do this:______”.  I know I can also spend a little time each evening before it gets dark to do some of it.

Craft show stress – it’s an anxiety thing, do I have enough product, will I remember everything, etc.  What tends to happen is I get to the day of and realize there is no more time, and it is what it is…take a deep breath and just do it.  (probably good advice for everything…)

Work stress – that mellows itself out as I work through projects and deadlines – so again just take a deep breath and let it go.

Self care – this one is harder for me – but when I’m “on point” with it, all the other stuff seems to take care of itself.  I work best on the self care things when I have a plan.  When I don’t have a plan, I tend to grab whatever is in front of me in that moment….and I use food as a balm for my stressed out emotional self.    But that just starts a downward spiral of negativity and self pity.  I need to work to find the balance and think through a plan that I can and will stick to.  A balance of healthy eating, and healthy spirit too.

As I’ve been obsessing about writing this post for the past week, and trying to determine what direction I wanted to take it, I’ve purposely taken some time to think about options on those big stress categories and what direction I want to go.  I’ve got a few CDs that I cycle through during my commute, and right now a couple of contemporary Christian CDs are in the mix.  I couple of lyrics have really struck a cord with me this past week, and I’m trying to put them into practice a bit more.

This lyric is from Breathe by Jonny Diaz:

Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe

And then this one from Rest by Matthew West:

Rest in the light of My grace
You can rest here while I put all your pieces back in place
Just come unto Me all who are weary and I will give you rest
Shut out the world
Be still and know
That I am Your God
And I won’t let you go

It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist (or me) to allow you to see that the message I CLEARLY need to hear is to just relax, breathe, and trust that God has a plan, and I should trust the plan.  (you can roll your eyes here…I certainly did!)  Recently I also saw a Facebook meme that read, “When you think you are hitting rock bottom, you are just landing in the palm of God’s hand.”  Ok…and now the song we sing each week as we collect the offering – (which is also playing RIGHT NOW on my Pandora) –

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

For the things on earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor and timing – and perfect delivery???  Have a blessed and peaceful week friends!