The end.

I watched my first baby start a new adventure two weeks ago. She walked right into it with the biggest smile on her face. If she was nervous or afraid she did a great job being brave because I sure didn’t see an ounce of trepidation.

Kindergarten.

And I didn’t even cry.

Sure, I could have. Maybe I even wanted to. But when I got in my car to drive away, I felt more proud of that little girl than any of my other feelings combined. So I let that feeling win.

I can’t be sad about her growing up. It’s the way it’s supposed to be, and I’m so lucky to be her mom and her biggest cheerleader. 

  

 She’ll be six soon, which means this blog already turned six. That happened sometime last month. And just like my baby started a new adventure, so have I.

It’s time to officially close up shop here at Girl Grows Up. What a fun and important place this has been for me over the years. But now I’m ready to write my stories for my children and their children and hopefully their children. And I want to do it in my own handwriting. I want them to see that I loved them enough to do it just for them.

I have no idea how you’re supposed to say goodbye to a blog. I’ll probably back up all my writing and watch as the domain name expires. I’m sure I’ll be sad that this chapter is closing, but I’ll also feel grateful for the way this place has helped me process life through writing.

Grateful. Yeah, I think I’ll let that feeling win.

So long, friends. Thank you for sticking around and commenting and sharing and encouraging me. This ol’ blog has helped me make lifelong friends, and you know who you are. Thank you.

And if you’re interested in my new adventure, it’s called Scattering Gold. It’s not a blog. It’s online home is simply a holding place for people to sign up to receive a monthly email from me starting in October. I would love for you to join the small group of us gathering virtually to get super practical about pursuing a life God can use for His glory. Join us?

Thank you for allowing me to grow here for a while. Now, on to that new thing! 

Sunshine, smiles, and thinking about summer.

Our backyard gives testimony that spring had indeed sprung. The sunshine and blue skies are not taken for granted in an April that follows a particularly nasty winter. 

  

I’ve been absent in this space as I spend time writing and editing and living offline. I have to admit, though, that I miss hitting publish. And the words seem to come easier when the weather agrees with me. 

When the sun is warm and the days grow longer, it’s easier for my heart to feel goodness. God’s glory isn’t so hard to find, and life is a little brighter. 

Summer is my season, and it’s coming. I’ve seen glimpses of it in my own backyard. 

Today I’m sharing all about our season over at GraceTable. I hope you’ll click over and spend a little time there.

What do your days look like as April comes to an end? Are you in a season of transition or craving some change? 

The Fringe Hours

I haven’t mentioned any books here for a couple of months, but I’m happy to report that I’m still reading. In fact, I recently devoured the book Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner of the blog The Mom Creative.

I’ve been reading Jessica’s blog for a few years, and I’m always amazed at how much she fits into her schedule as a working mom of (now) three kiddos. She says she wrote the book to answer the question she gets so often: How do you do it all? I may or may not have asked her that in blog comment years ago…

Of course, she doesn’t do it all. Nobody can. But she does do a lot. And her secret is making use of the pockets of time we ALL have in our day. You know…the (twenty)five minutes of mindless Facebook scrolling, the fifteen minutes of waiting in the pickup line after school, the hour after the kids go to bed before you fall into bed yourself.

And here’s what I learned about my own “fringe hours.”  I’m good at wasting them, then feeling guilty about it. Then trying to cram in some “me” time when I should be doing something else. Also? I’m good at dwelling on what I would be doing if I weren’t so busy with all of my responsibilities. In order to actually enjoy the small amount of time I get to myself without guilt, I need to be intentional with ALL of my time.

fringe hours

My favorite practical tip from the book is to know the right way to multitask. The key is to couple the right things together — something mindless that must get done with something enjoyable. Listening to audio books during your commute. Folding laundry while connecting with a friend over the phone.

It’s not about cramming more in.  It’s about making more time for doing what you love. If you think you don’t have enough time for that, I highly recommend Fringe Hours as a jumping off point. And it’s available Tuesday, Feb. 17, so go grab your copy!

What’s your best tip for making time for your hobbies and interests? 

Making Space

“The other women all had little notebooks in their laps and chatted easily with each other, throwing around the names of family members and details about each other’s lives. I’d walked right into the middle of tight-knit group, and my mind began to race.

Had my friend even consulted with them after inviting me? What if they didn’t want another person in this group? Do we have anything in common? What are we going to do for the next hour anyway?”

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I’m honored to share a tiny piece of my story at GraceTable today. You can read the rest here.

Goodbye, diaper. Hello, next thing.

my big kids

It was on a Friday morning, just two weeks after his third birthday, when he decided he was finished wearing diapers. This, after months of indifference toward underwear and being a “big boy” in general.

And four full weeks after his unwavering declaration that he would wear diapers no more, I realized my diaper changing days were over. I had been so relieved that my diaper buying days were done that it took twenty-eight days for the whole picture to become clear.

We are a diaper-less family.

A baby-free home.

We have little kids.

Not for long, though. Because if I’ve learned anything in my five years of motherhood, it’s that just as I get used to saying “they’re two and four,” the facts change and we’ve moved on to the next stage.

Soon Kindergarten will be pounding down her door. And even If I could keep her from answering that knock, I wouldn’t. Because it’s the next thing. Oh, how I would love to keep them little forever. Innocent. Naive to the world’s problems. But then the world would miss out, wouldn’t it?

So I’ll put on my brave face when I see the baby fat … and the mispronounced words … and the diapers disappear. I will.

I’ll do my best to always point them in the right direction, to be steadfast in my devotion to their growth, and to be their cheerleader every step of the way. Then, when they discover the darkness and deceitfulness in this world I’ll tell them about the light and salt they’re called to be. Because the world needs more lights to shine in the darkness.

These little lights of mine? I’m gonna let them grow, so eventually I can stand back and watch them shine.

Finish.

For seven years I worked on New Year’s Eve. In college, I had a fun internship planning a New Year’s Eve party for our city. That led to a fun job planning a New Year’s Eve party for our city. I loved that job. I got to be creative and type A and throw a party while earning a paycheck. (Plus, the people I worked with were amazing, which helps.)

I left that job in December of 2007, and I still miss the excitement of ushering in the New Year with tens of thousands of people (and one amazing fireworks display). I now watch glimpses of that past life during local news coverage that breaks in every once in a while as the big ball drops in NYC.

I have to admit, though I look back fondly at those days, I much prefer the generous amount of time that my current job affords me at the end of the year to reflect and plan for the next one. The quieter Decembers have led me to the popular practice of choosing a word for the next year. Have you done this?

This will be the third time I’ve chosen a word for the year ahead. The past two years I skipped goals and resolutions all together. This year, I’m choosing a word and making a few goals, too.

(My past words were freedom (and if you have never read where this word took me, you can take a peek here) and peace. I’m still clinging to both of these in my life. I’m not sure these words ever leave you once you spend a year with them.)

My word for 2015 came to me over the past week loud and clear, and I’m ready for it.

Finish

 

Yep, it’s my year to finish what I start.

There’s a saying in our house that goes like this: When something needs done, you do it.

I assure you that I am not the originator of this no-nonsense mantra. No, I’ve lived my adult life more like this: When something needs done you think about it quite a lot, then you talk about it even more, and by the time you should probably go ahead and do it you’re completely over it.

So, yeah. 2015 is going to be a doozy.

I mentioned recently that I’m writing a book, and that is certainly one of the major things on deck to finish this year. But I’m also talking about laundry (I know I’m not the only one who leaves the folded laundry in the basket until you need the basket for another load, right?) and intentions (replying to texts from friends should seriously not have to be put on a to-do list) and fitness goals and on and on.

It’s the year to make things happen. Because life is short and if I don’t do it now, then when?

*****

I can’t end this post without telling you about a tool I’m super excited to use in 2015. I know it’s going to help me get words down on paper because I’m using it to track the days I actually put work in on the book I’m writing. I’m a big fan of Elise of elisejoy.com and her progress, not perfection tracker is a super fun tool to help you make strides in any 2015 goal. I’d buy a copy for you all if I could!

So tell me, do you have a word for 2015? Or goals? Or resolutions? No matter where you are today, I pray you know that you are loved and your life matters and you have big things yet to be accomplished.

 

Bookshelf, kitchen, archives, and up next.

A super quick update today.

The Bookshelf

The books I read in November had a bit of a theme. This was not on purpose.

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown  — I listened to the audio book, and enjoyed it. My biggest takeaway? This quote that Brown mentions by Theodore Roosevelt…

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Let’s All Be Brave by Annie Downs — I could listen to Annie chat all day (she’s been on several of my favorite podcasts lately), and her book was a delightful, quick read.

The Kitchen

I love to make chocolate candies at Christmastime — white chocolate pretzels, milk chocolate covered rice krispies, Jolly Hocks, and peanut clusters in white chocolate (somehow these taste way more complicated than they are). The thing is, using chocolate in my kitchen has scared me for the last two years. When our little guy was diagnosed with a peanut allergy at age one, the doctor did a sufficient job in scaring the peanuts right out of our house. And that includes anything processed in a facility with peanuts (and tree nuts for that matter).

I was thrilled to stumble upon the Vermont Nut Free company last year, but I didn’t get around to ordering any chocolates. This year I did, though, and it was hands down the easiest melting chocolate I’ve ever used. It melted like a dream in the microwave.

The best part about making chocolates is that it.is.so.easy. Just melt that stuff and cover your favorite sweet or salty treats. This year I made sunflower butter covered chocolates. So good. You can see them on my Instagram feed.

The Archives

I thought about writing a post for Advent, but decided instead to share what I wrote last year.

On that first Christmas, hope came to earth in the form of a baby who would grow to a man to teach us, to free us, to save us. It’s a crazy story, really, and if it makes you uneasy or if it sounds strange or if it’s so familiar to you that you tune it out, then join the club.

Join the club, but don’t become a lifelong member. At Christmas, you get the chance to revisit the story because that’s what you do at Christmas.

You can find the rest here.

Up Next

And finally, here’s what I’m up to next. I’m writing a book. So far it’s been with pen and paper, which means it’s a huge mess and not fit to be read. That may change, but only if I commit the time to putting pen to paper now.

That means, I’m taking an extended break from this blog. I may pop in from time to time, but mostly I’m going to completely check out from the blogging world to focus on this larger project. No, I’m not getting published. I’m just writing a book. Big difference. But an insignificant difference to me. My goal isn’t to be published. My goal is to write what God has given me to write.

Here’s a secret: I’m not great at finishing things. I’m at the point when I usually let something like this fizzle, but not this time. I’m going to finish this one out to see where He takes it. I look forward to sharing more when the time is right!

Merry Christmas, friends! I sure hope you’re finding joy in the season. Tell me what you’ve been reading/baking/writing in the comments!!

Thankful for My Mirrors {And a Winner!}

Thanks to everyone who shared in the comments this week about what you’re most thankful for this Thanksgiving! A common theme, of course, was family, so it looks like I fit in with the crowd this year.

Specifically, I’m so very thankful for my children, which probably comes as no surprise, huh? Yes, they are healthy, happy, and at three- and five-years old they are completely delightful. And yes, that makes me incredibly grateful. But that’s all.

More than any other relationship I have, my kids have a way of revealing my weaknesses (read: selfishness). But I’m also realizing that they help me discover the kind of person I want to be.

You see, I care so deeply about their character. More than their education and their skills and abilities, I care about how they treat themselves and others. I want them to be kind more than I want them to be successful. I want them to show love to friends and enemies alike. I want them to know that God is love and those who love Him show love to others.

And when you want something so much for someone else, it becomes painfully obvious when you’re missing the mark in your own life.

So I’m thankful for the two little mirrors in my life and for the way they point me to Jesus without even knowing it. I love the way they keep me in check and how they show me that even in a hurting world, the choice to be kind is a pretty simple one. You either are or you’re not.

I sure hope you have a couple mirrors in your life, too.

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And now for the winner of one of the beautiful Jenze calendar and the cute note cards! The winner is mdolar313 (Michelle!!) Please send me an email letting me know which calendar you prefer!

I’m so thankful that you allow me to barge into your inboxes and blog reader feeds. It’s quite an honor! I hope your Thanksgiving holiday is full of happiness and joy.

Don’t forget: Everything in Jenze’s shop is 15% off with the code thegirl2015. Go get some Christmas shopping done!

Next week, I’ll give you an update about what I’ve been reading. And I may have a little declaration to make. Just maybe. Until then, love each other well! 

It’s giveaway time!

In honor of Thanksgiving week and the start of the most wonderful time of the year, I have a super fun post for you today!

I’m so grateful that I can work things out through writing and then hit publish and get your immediate feedback and wisdom in the comments. This blog has changed so much over the last five years, but knowing that you’re here helps me keep going. Today’s post is a tiny way to say thank you for sticking around!

If you’ve been reading this blog long, you know you can count on me for one giveaway a year. Today is the day! Jenna of Jenze is once again generously giving one lucky reader his or her choice of 2015 calendar goodness. Plus, because she’s super awesome, we’re throwing in a set of theGIRL notecards inspired by the post where I told you to live the crap out of life.

Check these beautiful calendars out:

The 2015 Bible Verse Calendar is so pretty and encouraging.

Bible verse calendar set

 

And the 2015 Cheerful Calendar is my most favorite Jenze calendar to date!

 

cheerful calendar set jenze

Remember these note cards? They are my favorite to send in all sorts of situations.

Jenze Cards

To enter to win one of these amazing calendars and the note cards, simply leave a comment telling me what you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving.

The contest ends Wednesday at 5 p.m. EST. I’ll announce the randomly selected winner on Wednesday evening when I tell you what I’m most thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Everything in Jenze’s shop makes great gifts, so if you’re ready to do some Christmas shopping you’re in luck! Jenna is so generous that she’s also offering 15% off with the code thegirl2015. Just visit Jenze on Etsy and use the code during check out.

Thanks, Jenna! And thanks to all of you who read and interact with my words. I appreciate you so!

When cooking isn’t your thing

As a twenty-three year old newlywed, I found myself flying solo in the kitchen for the first time in my life. Clueless, yet willing to learn, I recruited Rachael Ray and her 30-minute meals to help me get dinner on the table night after night. I fumbled my way through each recipe, but Rachael made me brave. I made great strides in my cooking skills—even if her 30-minute meals took me 60 minutes to complete.

Then one night my hungry husband sliced into his chicken breast and discovered its still raw center. The confused look on my face caused him to pull back his knife to reveal the pink, jelly-like middle. That evening I got my first lesson in food safety. Turns out, medium rare isn’t an option with poultry.

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I’m over at GraceTable today spilling the beans about what a mess I am in the kitchen. I hope you’ll click over to read the rest of the story