Joyful Body

I have learned that an important part of my Journey to Joy is taking care of my physical body.  I am a spiritual being, but within a physical frame, and to neglect any part of my being would deny myself of the abundant life that I was designed to have.

I have had a life-long struggle with fatigue and I know all too well how being tired robs you of every day joy.  It affects every part of me.  Being tired means my mind lacks clarity and I have trouble remembering everything.  It’s hard to focus enough to teach, to write, to practice my instruments, and to basically function.  And it’s no secret that tired people are grumpy people.  When I’m tired is when I’m most impatient and most frustrated.  I’ve noticed that when I’m usually having my worst days, I’m the most tired.

So, I’ve started taking measures to have a healthier life and as such, exercise and eating healthy has become very important to me.  I am learning more every day how to do better and be better and, as I’m on my way to a better me, this will be the place that I share all I learn about health and wellness and what it takes to thrive.

Counting It All Joy

Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  ~ James 1:2-4

I am on a journey…a journey to find joy in all things, ALL things.  And on this journey I’m learning that there is joy in the letting go and laying down — in the letting go of  perfection and expectations and in the laying down of busyness and distractions — expectations of who I should be, who my husband should be, who our children should be, and distractions that steal my attention from the truly important things in life.  I’m finding joy in trading the material for the eternal and trading perfection for what’s real.  Because it’s not a full schedule of extracurricular activities and a social agenda that makes a happy life, or a house full of all the latest must-have gadgets and toys.  It’s the rested mommy who has the energy for just one more story.  It’s the undistracted daddy who has time to throw the ball 5 more minutes.  It’s the family who gathers around the dinner table to share their day with their closest companions.  These are what make a happy life.  It’s the little things, the everyday things, the ordinary things, the monotonous things that matter, and it’s the sharing of these seemingly small things that turns a house into a home.  Day in and day out — caring for one another, sharing with one another, loving one another — it’s what makes a family a family.  And it’s what brings warmth to my heart, strength to my frame, and life to my soul.  It brings joy to my journey.

A New Perspective on Messes

I’ve been doing a lot of introspection recently and these are some of the thoughts I’ve been mulling over:

If I want my kids to grow up knowing that they can always come to me for help, should I ever refuse to give them my help now? Like when they have made a mess of their toys, for instance, do I really want to respond with “I didn’t make that mess; you clean it up.  If you made the mess, you can clean it up.”  Do I want them to become unwilling to help others with their messes?  After all, kids learn by example.

And why have I become so disgusted with messes anyways?  There is absolutely nothing wrong with messes.  Messes are good.  They are a sign that living has been going on.  I learned from Rich Mullins the proverb, “Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty, but from the strength of an ox comes abundant harvests.” (Proverbs 14:4)  You know what that means?  Life is messy.  The stall of an ox will get pretty nasty, but without the ox how will you reap your harvest?

And something else about messes…they provide the opportunity for much learning and development to take place.  How will my kids gain the responsibility to clean up after themselves without the mess?  And the bigger the mess, the greater opportunity for patience and perseverance exists.  They will achieve a sense of accomplishment and earn the right to be proud…the blessings of work.  Side note:  Work was not a part of the curse in Genesis; we were always made to work and to produce.  The curse was working laboriously.

So I’m learning to be thankful for all the messes that occupy my day, and that a perfectly clean house is not necessarily the sign of a good mommy; but rather the opposite is true.  The house of a good mommy will have toys scattered about randomly, and a trail of crumbs stemming from the Kitchen table, and perhaps a stopped-up toilet with too much toilet paper in it…all signs that there is living and learning going on.  The soccer balls and bikes might be littering the driveway and back yard, but a good mommy knows that there can be no fun without a little mess happening!

Far too long

It has been far too long since I have written.  I won’t bother with excuses, although I have some great ones.  For now it will suffice just to say that LIFE has been happening.  I’ll elaborate, I’m sure, someday, on the journey I’ve been on this past year, but not now.  I am taking this moment now to renew my commitment to write.  I am going to do my best to overcome all of my perfectionistic tendencies that has hindered the creativity and enjoyment that comes with expressing myself through words.  No more “I don’t have enough time to get it just right.”  I am going to write.  I’m going to write even if my work is less than distinguished.  I’m going to write even if my ideas aren’t completely developed.  I’m going to write even if it shows my shortcomings.  I’m going to forget all the things that are supposed to make a good writer, and  I’m going to ignore my need to be a good writer, and I’m going to just simply write…because I want to…because it’s fun.

Note To Self

Ugh!  Another day gone by I have seemingly accomplished nothing.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me these days but I just can’t seem to pull it together.  I’m not on top of things, I just can’t get caught up, and I’ve been having a hard time remembering.  The more I think that I’m going to get everything organized and put purpose to my actions, the more I find myself spinning my wheels.  But enough is enough!  It’s time to shift gears and get some traction.  So here are some thoughts, reminders of what I already know, but will hopefully get me refocused.

1.  Go to bed on time.  I can’t function without enough sleep – PERIOD.

2.  Start my day with prayer.  There is no other way.

3.  Prioritize my tasks.  At the end of the day what has to be accomplished, and what can wait?

4.  Reevaluate my goals and reorganize my schedule.  Am I spending my time working towards the right things?

5.  Stop and pray.  Never let too much time pass without prayer.

6.  Remember that people are more important that things.  The kids should always come before the laundry.

7.  Am I having fun?  Seems childish, but it’s always a relevant need for everyone.

8.  Pray again.  Gotta stay on track.

9.  Let my motivation be love, and only love.

10.  Pray, pray, and pray some more.

And now I believe it is time for me to pray.

Each One Is My Favorite

I don’t have much time to spend on my blog today, but nevertheless, I still have a few thoughts to jot down.  Through all the hustle and bustle and the busy, busy, business of everything I’ve got going on this week, I must not forget the things that really matter…the small things, the seemingly insignificant things, the everyday things, the ordinary things.  Now it might seem that my cousin’s wedding that’s taking place on Saturday (in just 3 days) - the one I’m in charge of making look spectacular – would be the top priority on my agenda, but it, in fact, is not.  My most urgent task, the one of utmost importance, is to spend every moment I can with my children, and to not let them slip away without me relishing the joys of mommyhood.  My goal is to convince each one of my children that they are my favorite…because they are…each one of them is my favorite.

This is a short little video that is well worth your time if you are a mommy.

Minnie’s First Week Home

I’ve been meaning to write this blog for a week now, a long with several others, but it has just been one of those weeks.  Bringing a puppy home is a lot like bringing a newborn baby home – they need constant care and supervision and lots of love and affection.  And while they don’t eat as often as a baby, they do need to be taken out just as often as diapers need to be changed.  But it’s been a good week for all of that.  Allergies and strep throat have visited our house as well, and while in some ways made it a little more difficult, it also gave us plenty of laying around time to bond with our new family member.

So…Minnie is home!  We got to bring her home last Saturday and she is everything that we wanted in a puppy.  She is the typical miniature schnauzer – happy, peppy, friendly, super smart, a quick learner, obedient and eager to please, and a natural with family connections.  She is also affectionate, playful, and a very good cuddler.  She has brought us all the joys that a new puppy does, but for us, even more so.

So without further adieu, here are some snapshots of our first week with Minnie Mia Lulu

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The Newest Addition to the Graham Fam

It’s exciting times for us these days.  We are getting a puppy!  It’s true, and we are bringing her home this Sunday.  Now, this might not seem like that big of a deal to some, but to a mom with 3 small kids, who has listened to her children ask Jesus for a puppy night after night for far too long, it’s an answered prayer – a miracle, even. 


So this is her at 4 weeks.  She was our Valentine gift.  I say “our” because I’ve wanted her just as much as the kids.  With all that we’ve had to let go of recently, a puppy could be just what we need.  I need to see my kids happy and excited again, and I’ve needed to be able to provide that for them.  So much of my heartache hasn’t just been from the loss of my baby, but from the loss of my children’s baby sister.  It’s hard enough to suffer the grief that it brings, but to have to endure your children’s sorrow too, well, it’s just unbearable at times.  So this puppy is a Godsend in more ways than one.

Her name is Minnie…Minnie Mia Lulu, and she is a Miniature Schnauzer, just like the dog I grew up with.  And I am so happy that my kids will get to have all the fun I had making all  the same memories with a dog of their very own.     


This is her at 6 weeks.

A Time For Everything

The devotion from Bella’s Sweet Dreams Princess Bible that I read to her the other night was from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.  The simplicity and realness of the words brought me to tears.

There is a right time for everything.  Everything on earth has its special season.

There is a time to be born and a time to die.

There is a time to plant and a time pull up plants.

There is a time to kill and a time to heal. (This is where my tears began.)

There is a time to destroy and a time to build.

There is a time to cry and a time to laugh.

There is a time to be sad and time to dance.

There is a time to throw away stones and a time to gather them.

There is a time to hug and a time not to hug.

There is a time to look for something and time to stop looking for it.

There is a time to keep things and a time to throw things away.

There is a time to tear apart and time to sew together.

There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.

There is a time to love and a time to hate.

God knows it is time, time for me to reap in laughter what has been sown in tears, and to live the abundant life.


You’re So Pretty

Bella has gotten quite good at handing out “You’re so pretty” compliments.  She says it to me often, but she also shares the same compliment with complete strangers – anyone we may pass in a store or on the playground or at church.  Disclaimer:  She does not get this from me.  She is far more outgoing than I ever was, or still am, for that matter.  Of course it makes me such a proud mother when I see how Bella’s friendly comment makes people smile.  I just have to stop and thank God for the blessing He gave us in that little girl.  She truly is a gem.

Today Bella paid me this particular comment, for the umpteenth time, and the thought occurred to me that she probably says “You’re so pretty” so often to so many different people because she hears it, herself, so often.  And as I realized this, all of a sudden it made sense to me why it’s so important for me to hear the voice of my Father speaking over me “You are beautiful.”  I need to hear Him say this to me, and hear it often, so that I can see others as beautiful.  If the idea of beauty becomes ingrained in my mind, I will be more apt to see it in the world around me.  I will be more likely to see the beauty of the world, and not the ugly.  I will start to see the beauty in others, and not the ugly.  For certain I have never heard Bella ever say that anyone is ugly, but then again, I have never heard anyone say that to her either.  It’s just not in her vocabulary. 

It is important for us to know that our Father does see us as beautiful, just for the sake of knowing how He feels about us.  Could we not even love Him unless He first loved us?  And could we not see Him, or anything else, as beautiful unless He first shows us what beauty is.  It really is true that you can’t love anything else unless you first love yourself, and even that originates with God.  We love ourselves, and love God, and love others in response to His love for us.  Freely we receive, so freely we can give.  Likewise, we can appreciate the beauty of all that God has created because we are already familiar with the concept of beauty.  Seeing comes from believing, believing comes from hearing, and hearing by the Word.  When we hear, when we listen, to Him say “You are beautiful,” and when we start to believe it, our vision for what beautiful really is is expanded.  And when this happens, we can truly have life, and have it abundantly.