Saturday, June 25, 2011

My baby sister

A little over 19 years ago, four year old Miranda got down on her knees, pleading with God for a sibling. Weeks later, my sweet mother told me that she was pregnant, and in pure childlike innocence and faith, I simply replied, "I know.  I talked to God about it, and it's going to be a girl."   I don't remember what happened or why I was so confident... but I do remember being assured deep within my soul that God was sending me a little sister.

And exactly 19 years ago, my beautiful baby sister Lee Ann came into the world.

I still remember the feelings of adoration when I gazed into that tiny face... and I often still feel that way when I look at her, seeing the baby face that used to be, hidden in the gorgeous young woman that she has become.

Of course, I also adore her for different reasons now, other than her insufferable baby cuteness. :) She is the most loyal person I know, not to mention passionate without restraint.  When she feels something, she feels it fully, and when she cares about someone or something, she cares more deeply than I can even describe.  And although I often try to take care of her in my irritating big-sister-who-tries-to-mother-her way,  she tends to take care of me, too, in the way that only a little sister can.  Even though she may be the first to "pick on me" in true sibling form, she is also the first person to jump to my defense, even when it is unwarranted or she is at risk of getting in trouble.  I can think of SO many times throughout my life that she has unabashedly stood her ground in order to protect me.

Lee Ann is gifted beyond belief... she is an incredibly smart girl, with the voice of an angel and the eye of a creator.  And have I mentioned that she is an absolute hoot?  HILARIOUS!  No one makes me laugh like she does.  And I love how when I see her for the first time after months apart, she hardly says anything but squeezes me so tight that it leaves no doubts as to whether or not I am missed or loved.

My little sister knows me better than anyone.  Our personalities may be night and day, but we are similar in the ways that matter... and I think the similarities found despite the differences make us better sisters to one another, cherishing each other even more.

The best role that I have been given is being a sister to Lee Ann.  I'm thankful for our silliness and dance parties, "hardcore sister lovin'" and Lord of the Rings marathons.  I love sharing our dreams and loves while encouraging each other on this journey.  We are far from perfect, but we grow and learn together how to be better sisters, friends, daughters, and women of God.

God knew what he was doing when He gave me this strong, determined, vivacious girl for a sister, and He knew we would need each other during certain trials.  I'm so grateful He knows better than I do what we need, and as much as I want to always take care of her, He loves her more than I can possibly fathom and will be there for her throughout this life in ways that I can't.

Precious Lee Ann, 
I am now glad that 19 years ago I wasn't allowed to name you... Swanhilda just doesn't fit.  :)  You came into our lives when we needed you most, and you have been the most precious gift God has ever given me.  God has huge plans for you, little one, and don't ever doubt it.  This year has been tough, but I am so thankful that I will always have you walking through the storms by my side.  I hope we can continue to love and serve each other in the sunshine and the thunderstorms in a way that glorifies God and reflects the unfathomable love He has for us.  
I am so honored and blessed everyday to be your big sister.  
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, sister x3!  
You are the greatest prayer ever answered!!! 
 I can't wait to hug you soon!!!!!!
I love you more than all the stars in all the sky,

Friday, June 24, 2011

A life update list with a side of painting.

Somehow, my days have gotten crazier lately, which means very little blogging... and I'm totally and completely blaming it on the fast paced, rigorous, work days of summer school.... and I'm praying with all my heart that the blame is adequately placed because I am very much ready for a slower pace after my final on Monday (woohoo!).

So here's a list of some randomness... because let's face it.  Nothing organizes randomness better than a numbered list.  Can I get an Amen?  :)

1...  A couple of weeks ago, I planted a "garden."  And by garden, I mean I put a flower box on my balcony and some plants on my doorstep (if only I had a little piece of land  for a real garden!!).

Darcy helped, of course... well, actually she tried to eat the flowers... which is what she was doing before she looked at the camera in the picture with her face in the flowers.  Such a silly girl....

2...  My wonderful former practicum supervisor, Dr. Mills, asked me to paint some canvases for a her little baby Emily (who will hopefully come into the world next Tuesday).  She sent me a picture of the bedding.....  (And this is not the actual nursery.  This is a picture from the website.)

I used some of the different patterns in the blanket as backgrounds for the letters of her name.

I was able to see the finished product in the nursery, and I think it turned out well!  I was a little nervous that Dr. Mills wouldn't like the paintings... but she loved them! 

In the next week, I will be finishing up a few more paintings that I can't wait to show you.  In the meantime, I'm linking up with Studio JRU for "Sneak Peek Friday".  So hop on over there and see what other people have going on in the studio this week! :)

3...  I'm going home soon, and I. can't. wait.  I'm going to have dance parties with my little sister, squeeze my mama really tight, eat chocolate chip pancakes with my best friend, have tons of fun with the Rutherford bunch, and visit all my Alabama friends that I love oh-so-much.  

Not to mention, it's in the 50's in Chicagoland today, and I'm desperate for the Mississippi heat and humidity.  This is NOT summer, no matter what they say about the North (or Midwest?) having definite seasons  (sorry dear Rachel.... I love your home, but my Southern blood has been frozen far too long... and I need to come visit you, JM and AnnaBelle because my heart hurts from going so long without seeing you!).

4... I adore birthday cake ice cream.  Just thought you should know.

   5... My very first dog, Danke, turned 14 years old last Sunday.  When I was 10, I saved up my money for months so that I could get a dog... and she was the perfect dog for me.  She used to look like this....

But now, she looks like this....

She may be white-muzzled and 14, but she is just as spunky as ever.  And I can't wait to cuddle her soon.

6... Baby sister's birthday is tomorrow.... She says she turns 19, but I don't believe her.  She is still my little baby.

7... I have a packed weekend ahead, and I will probably have tons of pictures to share soon.  I also have several blog posts in the works about some different thoughts that have been on my heart, and I can't wait to be back on a more regular blogging schedule (I just have to make it past my final on Monday!).  
So expect to hear from me soon, my dear friends.  
Until then... happy Friday, lovely ones!!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

5 minute Friday... Home

Today I'm joining the Gypsy Mama for five minutes of pure, unadulterated writing... 5 minutes of unedited thoughts on....


A small word with a big meaning.  They say “home is where the heart is,” and I lost my heart to my home long ago.

My heart is on a farm far south of this Chicagoland, nestled in a log house in the midst of pine trees that spread out as far as the eye can see.

My heart is in deep south Mississippi, with the sweet tea and smiles and humidity and “y’all.”

My heart is in Alabama, too, with my dear friends who are more like family.

My heart is with my best friend, eating chocolate chip pancakes and putting together puzzles.

My heart is with my aunts, uncles, and cousins, playing Balderdash and “silly walking” across a room.

My heart is with my sweet mama and dear little sister, swimming in the pool and watching movies and laughing and dancing and hugging.

And my heart is with Christ, always and forever.  He makes his home in my heart even while I find my home in His.  No matter where I am, I have the best home in His loving embrace.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The unexpected thunderstorms

Sometimes, I forget to remember God's promises.  I become so focused on the pain, the trial, or the hurt.  I lose perspective because that's all I see...  I fill my heart and mind with the thunderstorm, but I can't see beyond that.

And then God sends me a reminder... my own personal "rainbow" of promise, love, and hope.

Last Saturday morning I found out that my dear Uncle David had a malignant tumor in his colon.  I was shocked, upset, afraid, and really needing to be home in Mississippi with my family.

Blanket spread out under me, flowers surrounding me, and clear azure sky above me, I listened to Uncle David on the phone, courage and hope filling his voice even as I sat with salty tear drops filling and overflowing from my eyes.  The beauty of the day seemed in stark contrast to the news, my heart feeling mocked.  While both the beauty around me and the voice in the phone spoke of peace and contentment and goodness, all I could think about was the battle to come... my dark fears casting shadows on the day. 

Unexpectedly, blue sky darkened......  The earth shook with the sound of thunder, and my eyes were blinded by the flashes of lightning... so blinded that the beauty witnessed only seconds earlier was a distant memory.  The cloudless blue sky seemed lost to the tempest that darkened the door unawares.

My heart, already filled with shadows, sunk deeper still, firmly believing that the flowers, freshly planted and hanging at my window, could not possibly last through such a horrific storm.  So I waited.... believing damage would be discovered after the storm disappeared... and also firmly believing that with skies so dark, the storm would most assuredly last the whole day.

Then, as quickly as the black clouds came, they disappeared, revealing the same cloudless bright blue that had reigned earlier.  
No, not the same... better.  Deeper and more vibrant.

The flowers stood taller, strengthened and renewed by the storm.

And I stood taller, strengthened and renewed by the storm. 

In that moment I was struck by the reminder of God's promises and presence.  My focus shifted from the darkness of my fears to the beauty that came after the storm, the deep and vibrant and renewed beauty.  And I felt hope.  Because God made a sacred promise to never test us beyond what we can handle.  He promised to provide meaning in the trials, for He alone makes all things good.  He promised rainbows to remind us to have hope in the storm.

I'm holding on to His promises.  I'm clinging to His hope.  
My dear uncle is being used by God, especially in this trial, and I'm so thankful for the light he is shining for Christ.  He is hope-filled and God-glorifying, focusing not on the fear or trials ahead, but on the God-given meaning amidst the trials.
In that, pain finds a purpose, and a life with pain is not hopeless.

The storm only lasts so long, Beloved... the sun will shine again.  And if we cling to the promise and meaning that God gives to the pain, we will be refined, strengthened, and renewed by the trials... standing taller with a deeper, more vibrant beauty than before.

"Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning." 
~Psalm 30:5b~

 "I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds,  I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.  Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”
~Genesis 9:13-16~

Friday, June 3, 2011

Wet curls

Today was bath day for a particular Scottie....
Which means it was chase-your-wet-dog-all-over-the-apartment day for me... So we took Darcy's "zoomie" drying off rituals outside...

A dry apartment and some good photos for me, and good quality outside zoomie time for Darcy. 
We are content. 
Happy Friday!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Smooth criminal...

Yep.  That's the look.  The intent flirtatious gaze, round eyes begging for attention...

Well, don't let it fool you for a second.  Those puppy eyes belong to Lady Darcy of Pemberley, the hardened criminal.

That's right... you read correctly.  Today, June 2, 2011, she used her powers for evil.  Sweet little Darcy used those big brown eyes and that immense cuteness to flirt her way through PetSmart (it gets better...).  She was the recipient of at least 6 treats from every PetSmart worker she met.  All it took was one touch of the large nose to a leg, a wiggly behind that she lovingly allowed everyone to scratch, and then a precious little "plop" onto the ground in her most adorable sitting position, head cocked and mouth ready for her reward.  She waved, high fived, and even danced... anything to get treats.  But that's not all.... 

Little did I know, she had a bigger plans for our outing.... As I loaded up the car with our dog food and new bottle of shampoo (after spending ample time with the cashier so that Darcy could flirt her way into a few more treats for the road...), I looked into our shopping cart (or buggy, as I would say down South) to find a large bag of treats.......

that we did NOT pay for.....

(and the plot thickens.)

We are criminals.
**this is me shrinking in shame** 

Sooooo... as soon as I realized what we had done, I rushed back inside, Darcy prancing closely at my side (excited, no doubt, to get a few more treats and rubs from whosoever would look her way), and I nervously laughed as I handed the bag to the cashier... mumbling things like "I'm so so so sooo sorry" or "I can't believe I stole something" or "we are such criminals" or "I think Darcy did it, not me." 

Fortunately, the cashier just laughed and thanked us for returning.  We paid for the bag, did a few more tricks for treats (well, Darcy did anyway), and walked back out to the car probably looking guilty and ashamed.... I know my tail was between my legs  (because yes... I admit it.  I put the treats in the cart..... but I was distracted by Darcy's cuteness, too, okay??  Do you know how hard it is to live with someone so popular and fun and adorable?  So really, she is still responsible, right???).

 This wink is very suspicious, don't you think?