Missing My Grandmother

I sent out Christmas cards last week, and I was blowing and going through the list, hand addressing them (because I wanted to practice my new lettering skills) and I got to my grandmother’s name: Marynell Reece.  She passed away this last July, and seeing her name on my Christmas card list stopped me dead in my tracks.  So I stopped and had myself a good little cry.  She would have loved our Christmas card.  Not because it was well designed or because I had (for once in my life) gotten them out on time, but because she LOVED my daughter.  She really got a kick out of her ‘babydoll’.  And she would have loved this stage where Taylor is feisty and hams it up for people, that is just the sort of personality my grandmother loved.  And I am heartbroken that she doesn’t get to see these stages in Taylor’s life.  She would have laughed so hard at the picture of Taylor in her Halloween costume clearly thrilled at the prospect of candy.  After all… the sweet tooth in our family comes directly from Nannan–the rest of the food in her fridge might be moldy, but you could be guaranteed the Hershey bars on top of the fridge were nice and fresh.

Missing my Grandmother | www.amusingmj.com

Nannan also loved Christmas.  We always had a big to do with the whole family, complete with FAR too much food, too many gifts and a lot of chaos. The more chaos the more my grandmother liked it.  So this first Christmas without her will be especially hard.  Grief is like that… both predictable and unpredictable.  It hits you in the moments you expect in the most… like opening presents on Christmas morning, or in traditions that will fall by the wayside because she isn’t here to make them happen anymore.  But it also hits you in the unexpected moments, like sending out your Christmas cards. Or for me, walking into Allen Fieldhouse for the first game of the season to watch her beloved Jayhawks–in our seats near the band because she always enjoyed watching the drummers. Missing my Grandmother | www.amusingmj.com This is the last photo I have of my grandmother with Taylor.  It was taken just a few weeks before she died, and I love how it shows how much she loved Taylor.  Smitten doesn’t even begin to cover it.

My grandmother was a force to be reckoned with and had a pretty fiery personality.  She taught me a lot about how to be a strong woman and to work for the things I wanted… but also how to enjoy life. She loved her family and was NEVER afraid to speak her mind.  I am so grateful to have had 32 years of my life with her, and been able to create such a strong bond.  I miss her so much, but I’m also so glad that she had a life well lived.  And if I have my choice, I’d like to go out just like her, after a weekend of celebration and family, after 96 years and a long successful marriage, with tons of family.  May we all be so lucky.   Missing my Grandmother | www.amusingmj.com

Life Lately

I’ve been mostly MIA from the blog-o-sphere for 3-5 months, and I’ve had a hard time motivating myself to get back into blogging.  Partially I started this blog to document our homes as we fixed them up… and then we had a baby.  And life became much more about hanging out with her and spending time as a family. Oh and my husband got a new job that moved us to a new town and with that job he is working about 1.5 time the amount he was before.  So now we BOTH have full time jobs (I like to call them full time plus jobs because they are both full time with a little extra required) and a whole lot less free time. And because we knew that going into purchasing our new house, he made me promise we decided not to purchase a fixer upper home.  So my DIY posts have been few and far between.  I’m not doing as many because (see above) and the ones I do, I haven’t necessarily had the time to photograph, write up and post. And although all the blog experts say: pick a theme and stick to it (i.e. DIY or parenting or cooking or lettering or…) in order to be successful, that isn’t really why I started this blog.  I have a full time job.  I don’t need to have a ‘successful’ blog, I write because I love to document or share the things going on in my life lately.

So  with that, I wanted to write this post (that sounds like a bunch of excuses) to sort of head the blog in a new direction.  I am going to write as often as I can fit it in my life, which might be 3x a week or it might be 1x a month. I am going to write about my hobbies and things I’ve been doing lately, some DIY, some parenting, some faith lessons, and who knows what else might be thrown in there.  If you want to follow along on my journey, GREAT (you can follow me on insta, like me on facebook, or subscribe to emails over to the right)! If not… keep on your merry way and find someone else to follow… no hard feelings!

And now onto a life update and what I have been up to lately.

If you follow me on Instagram (@amusingmj), you know my new obsession has been with hand lettering. I am LOVING learning to hand letter in beautiful ways and I am so inspired by some CRAZY talented letterers over on Instagram.  Maybe soon I’ll post a who I follow and why, so you can see some of their amazing work! I am also trying my hand at watercolors too… because I think watercolor flowers are amazing! Here are a few of my pieces that I’m really proud of:

Hand Lettering | www.amusingmj.com
I love that so many of the hand letterers use their skills to write bible verses, so for me it has become a great way to meditate and focus on scripture. Plus how pretty do all these flowers look exploding out from behind the banner of scripture??

Psalm 23 | www.amusingmj.com

Plus I have learned about an amazing thing called embossing (that is the gold, raised, shiny part below) and I am OBSESSED.  Love it!  He comforts us in all our affliction. 2 Corinthians 1:4 | www.amusingmj.com

Secondly, I have started taking piano lessons again.  I took them as a child for several years, but when someone posted on our neighborhood app about teaching children piano lessons, I quickly sent her a message and asked if she was willing to teach adults too.  She is this precious woman who is a retired school music teacher, and my lesson time is smack dab between a 6 year old girl and an 8 year old boy, and I missed out on piano bucks last week because I forgot to write down when I practiced <insert several crying laughing emojis here>. But I am having so much fun getting back into piano and unlike as a child, I actually like practicing the piano (sorry mom!) and I would love to be able to play better! Plus I want Taylor to learn to play when she is older… and I don’t want to have to tell her I quit and can only play  the first half of Oh When the Saints Go Marching In to show for my 6 years of piano lessons as a kid.

Third, I am starting a new workout class at a local gym, I’m going to start with a 28 day fitness challenge that includes nutrition and bootcamp classes, so I am hoping to start getting back into good shape.  Say a little prayer that I can survive jumping back in to working out… starting is the hard part right?!?

So, that is where my time has been spent lately, and check back later this week for Taylor’s One year update… 3 months late.


If: Plano

If:Plano recap | www.amusingmj.com So this weekend my awesome sister-in-law (and some other rockstar ladies) put on a women’s conference called If:Plano.  There was a huge women’s conference in Austin called the If: Gathering.  It is put on some women who have an amazing heart for God and wanted to ask the question If God is real what does that mean for our lives?  But then all across the world other churches are putting on programs called If:Local.  So ours was If:Plano, but there were TONS of others around the US and the world.  Anyway, last year, my sister in law went to Austin and really felt God calling her to put on an If:Local event at our church, so this past year she has been working so hard to bring this even to St Andrew and I was so happy to have been able to be a part of it.  And because I feel like all great events like this need a little decompression and recap, I thought I would share some of my favorite tidbits from the weekend.  And also, they did such an amazing job of making all of the tiny little details beautiful and I wanted to share them with you all! (ps one of my good friends made ALL of those cookies for our gathering! Talk about a labor of love!! She is amazing!)

If: Plano recap | www.amusingmj.com

The event is centered around streaming these talks from the Austin conference and some of them were truly amazing.  I had 4 favorites: Jo Saxton, Eugene Cho, Bianca Olthoff and an Indian woman who spoke about her experience as an abused woman. I’ll talk a little bit more about why I liked them, but one of the things that I realized is that they said some great things, but none of them were so profound that I had never thought of them or been told similar things, but rather that it gave me some time to take a breath, refocus and think about my life, my faith and where God really wants me to be.  It was more a time of allowing myself to Be Still, which lets be honest DOESN’T HAPPEN often enough.  I think it was a God thing that the If:Gathering was this weekend, there was something very powerful about all my worldly possessions being on a truck and out of my reach while I was listening to people talk about how to live a more faithful life.

If: Plano recap | www.amusingmj.com

Alright, some of my favorite thoughts from the weekend (and yes I’m paraphrasing all of these, so apologies if these were just my interpretations of what they said!).

From Jo:

  • Learn to let go of the perfection and need to live up to other people’s standards. Jesus wasn’t insecure.
  • When God is moving, IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE.
  • God doesn’t look at us and say Come on… Get it together, he is instead interested in the renewal of all things
  • Take the resurrection personally. What you see as broken, he sees as beloved.

From Eugene Cho:

  • Sometimes we are more in love with the idea of following Jesus rather than to actually follow in his steps.
  • The world is cacophonous and drowns out the fact that we are the image of God.
  • If you believe that someone is outside of God’s redemptive power of Grace, you need a refresher course on his grace.
  • If you think the grass is greener on the other side, maybe the spirit is telling you to water your own grass!

Bianca: I mostly found Bianca highly entertaining and enjoyed her perspective on the story of Lazarus… and now I will never hear that story without thinking of Martha as a fiery Puerto Rican woman.

The woman in a Sari (someone told me we weren’t supposed to put her name out on the internet… so I’m not calling her by name):

  • Her story as an abused Indian woman was POWERFUL and her work to end slavery across the globe is inspiring.  I want to learn more about IJM and their work.
  • “Sometimes we are willing to let the wound rot instead of being willing to open up to our shame.
  • What we really need is for people to JUST SHOW UP.  If:Plano recap | www.amusingmj.com

It was sort of amazing that the speakers that I expected to be blown away by, I was actually underwhelmed with their talks; but the people I had never heard about were very POWERFUL.  I think there is a lesson in that! We talk about loving the least and the lost, but then our society idolizes certain people and makes us believe that their word, their story is more important than someone else’s.  And I’m definitely not saying their story and their knowledge isn’t important, I just think I sometimes need to be reminded that there is a lot to be learned from EVERYONE in every walk of life.

I think one of my favorite parts of the weekend was the worship music.  We had our local church’s contemporary band play, led by  Shana Saint who has a PHENOMENAL voice.  I LOVE the music from The Well and that band did NOT disappoint.  Listening to a group of women singing “It is well with my soul” and “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free”, sometimes as a declaration, sometimes as a plea, is one of the more amazing experiences.  And it is well with my soul.  If: Plano recap | www.amusingmj.com

The If:Gathering also is a big supporter of Noonday Jewelry and my sister-in-law got to share about how amazing this jewelry is and the marketplace it creates for women in third world countries who are provided a living wage because of the jewelry that is sold through this program… and it is beautiful, fantastic jewelry to boot!

If: Plano recap | www.amusingmj.com

I feel like I have a lot of other thoughts from the weekend as well, but I really appreciated the opportunity to take a break from the busy-ness of my current life and refocus.  One of the things Reese and I have talked about in this moving process is being intentional about our lives in Wichita.  We want to take time to really invest in our family, invest in our new church and invest in some sort of service to the community (yet to be determined).

This weekend also gave me the opportunity to say goodbye (for now) to quite a few of the friends and people from the church who have influenced my husband and I over the past few years.  There was more than one tearful goodbye and the If: Plano felt like the perfect way to close this chapter and start a new one.  I especially loved getting to share the weekend with Becky and my mom! (my twin brother also helped prep/serve during the weekend too, even though it was a women’s conference) I have the best family… church and family family!

If: Plano recap | www.amusingmj.com