Get Your Party Started

On October 11, 2014, my Dad, sisters and I threw a party we should have thrown years prior, but under different circumstances. Life gets busy. We have jobs and spouses and kids and appointments and things to do and budgets and we get tired and the thought of traveling with niños in tow is less than appealing, and so, the seemingly responsible and practical reasons for not doing WHATEVER it is that is very important, but could maybe be put off until our lives slow down a bit or aren’t as crazy, well, those things don’t happen. And then it’s too late, over, after the fact.

There were special milestones we looked forward to acknowledging, but planning for a 70th, 80th, or 90th birthday party or a “remission from cancer” celebration, well, those never happened.

My Mom even said to me before she passed away in June, “Boo Boo, I think I was waiting to get better before I did such and such…”

Every one of us has lives filled with things to do and places to go and sights to see, check lists to complete, errands to run, things, things, things, busy, busy, busy, some of it good, some of it mind-numbing, some of it slowly sucking the life from our bones. But when the day is done, it’s the people with whom we have come in contact with, from the guy at the checkout at the store to the person across the table at dinner, to the person reflected in the mirror, who matter the most…

I’ve sat with death on several occasions. I’ve held those I love, hand in hand, close to my heart as they took their last breath and moved on to the realm of real living, but the realm I’m not welcome in yet, the one I can’t see…the place where much of my heart resides and my mind wanders to, yet my eyes are blinded because I’m meant to live here, right now, fully engaged, beautifully intentional, eyes open to the present, heart wide open, loving and celebrating the gifts (people) of God all around me, on this given day.

And so, though we celebrated our Mom with daily phone calls and family meals and gatherings, trips here and there, hours over the sewing machine, snuggles on the couch soaking in her wisdom, we never threw her a party like the one we did in Arizona just this last weekend. It wasn’t that it was some fantastic venue or even that the food was super yum. This party was one of the most beautiful gatherings I’ve ever attended because the setting was love and the décor was a room full of friends, all people my Mom loved and who loved my Mom. Set in one of the wealthiest and most beautiful cities in the world, I looked around the room and realized with an overwhelming sense of awe that my Mom was one of the richest women who ever walked the planet…her heart had been filled with the gift of friendship, both in the giving and receiving, and everyone else there knew it, too, their presence speaking louder than words.

I think Kid President is onto something…personally, I’m not so much a parade girl…they are kind of long and I’m not a fan of having candy chucked at me from a distance, but, baby, say “party,” dinner party, cocktail party, well-digging party, dance party, charity party, beach party, garden party, wine tasting party, coffee party, fund-raising party, freedom from slavery party, cupcake party, impromptu party, just hanging out party, birthday party, divorce party, because the house is clean party, bad/good day party, anniversary party, because it’s Monday party, hiking party, biking party, whatever the heck kind of party, party,” the key word here is “party” and my heart lights up!

Life is short no matter the timespan. Sometimes waiting for tomorrow, scheduling, or “special occasions” establishes a mindset that TODAY isn’t miraculous enough…

I mean, really. What’s more special than right here, right now, and the people around us?

Forget Pinterest and go break bread and throw someone a party…because you still can!

10 Things I Love About Our House

Our realtor asked me to write a list stating 10 things I love about our house, neighborhood, and community in order to share with potential buyers. I thought I’d share it here because for me it’s so much more than a way to sell our house. Even though my heart is longing and ready for adventure, ready to be free, excited about not keeping or cleaning a house for several months, writing a list reminds me why we have homes and live in community with others in the first place.

1.  Our kitchen/great room area is my favorite place in our home because it’s where laughter and heart to heart conversations and dreams and tears have all been shared, usually over tea or a meal, maybe at the counter, the table, or over on the couch, or even near the fireplace. So much happens in the heart of our home and this space is definitely the heart.

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The Kitchen, the heart of our home, the place where I sip tea, make soup, and greet each family member as they wander down in the mornings. Em and I made that painting with the dark orange doilies in the background, those chairs around the table are from Jason’s grandparents centurion farm, that’s Danielle Walker’s “Against All Grain” always open on the counter, and those are ginormous zucchini’s from our garden.

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The Great Room, curtains sewn with my Mom, leather ottoman found by parents at a garage sale, big “G” $1 at a garage sale, painted blue vases part of one of my spray-painting streaks…

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Front entry way, free gigantor mirror from friends, matching lamps on sale because my Mom always taught me that EVERYTHING goes on sale, ceramic balls from one of Jason’s trips in South America, buffet console just makes me happy…

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Antique sleigh bed, which was mine as a kid, is from lat 1700’s, leaves lend a feeling of snuggling under a tree reading endless stories, and the beautiful quilt was hand made by my friend, Kim Arnold, who included “xoxox” just for Ryan, that little lover you see perusing dinosaurs on the flood….

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Washer and dryer NOT included in sale of home! (Well, at least these aren’t…but the real ones in the laundry room are included!)

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I love this book nook at the top of our stairs. The Nativity scene was carved by my brother-in-law. The shelf I picked up at A Paris Street Market one weekend years ago when my girlfriends and I would meet at the crack of dawn with cash and coffee in hand ready for deals, and the framed pastel portrait is of me circa 1975 when we lived outside San Francisco and had gone into the city for Dim Sum and cable car rides.

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Ahhhhh! This is the beautiful and beloved Honeycrisp Apple tree in our backyard and this year the birds didn’t get to them first! We are so grateful to enjoy the harvest before we pass the baton to the next homeowners. They are the BEST!

2.  I love the decor in our home, because as I look around almost every piece has a story behind it, especially as it relates to someone special in my life, like a friend or family member who helped me paint something or found me a great piece at a garage sale or helped me sew or design a nook or corner. It brings my heart joy to know many hearts and minds have worked together to make this space comfortable and beautiful.

3.  The backyard of our home has been a haven for us.  It has been the scene for many games of tag, a ton of birthday parties and other family gatherings, the site for several seasons’ worth of zucchini, lettuce, and kale, quiet mornings with hot tea and reading, a place to talk over the fence to neighbors now friends, as well as the best campsite in town where stargazing and time with friends lasts into the late night. I love our backyard! It’s been a labor of a lot of love, blood, sweat, and even tears.

4.  This neighborhood has been good to us. We were among some of the first families in the neighborhood so it has been neat to see it fill in and meet new people in the process. We all have our stories and it’s been an honor learning some of the stories of the people right around us who call this place “home”, too.

5.  Two specific features I appreciate about our neighborhood are the quiet, low-trafficked streets and the park just 10 houses down on the left. My kids have grown up at the neighborhood park, taking their friends there, us talking to the other parents as the kids play and wear themselves out. It’s a great draw in building the community of our neighborhood.

6.  We live in The Meadows, a great master-planned community with ample sidewalks, parks, open space, hiking and biking trails, and HOA’s which keep the up the pride of residency. We are so excited to see what the town of Castle Rock has in store for the town center of The Meadows as it will really add to the “small town” feel west of the highway. And, we are only 10 mins from one of the most beautiful hikes at Dawson’s Butte, my new favorite serene spot. The views are spectacular wherever you go in The Meadows.

7.  Back to our house…I just have to say, the basement is another favorite spot because it’s always been a place for guests, short and long-term, as well as the setting for my creative heart. It’s where I’ve sewn for hours on end, designed and repurposed vintage jewelry, and spent time snuggled with my kids doing homeschool. It’s also been the place where I meet the yoga mat in the quiet of the morning or walk or run off stress in the workout room.

8.  We used to live in Denver, and though it was fun and close to many things, I’m so grateful we made the move to Castle Rock. This place has a small hometown feel without the hustle and bustle of a big city, but is close to downtown Denver or Colorado Springs for major events. I rarely leave here, though, because it has plenty to offer, including our local coffee shops, Lost Coffee and Crowfoot Valley, the best antiques and window shopping around at The Barn, as well as our fantastic local date night hot spot, Uniscali where my husband and I pretend we are in Spain having tapas for happy hour, or where I meet my sister and girlfriends for a glass of wine once in a while.

9.  Having been here 7 years, it’s been fun to meet local shop owners and business people, exchanging names and stories, feeling more like a part of a small supportive community than just a number in a big city. This has also helped us develop trusting relationships in order to know where to have our car serviced or where to get natural health care or where to get our hair cut. It’s also fun to have the folks at Sprouts or Natural Grocers greet me and my kids when we run in for the 5th time in a week because I’ve forgotten something.

10.  Wow! 7 years seems like a long time and we’ve built many memories in this home! We hope and pray this home will be a blessing to the next family who lives in it, making their own memories, celebrating milestones together, and inviting others in, as we have over the years, to break bread and further build the community.

“The Other Woman”

The other day I babysat 5 kids ages 5 and under. I know, it’s grounds for sainthood, but that’s not the point of this post. And, technically, I only “babysat” 4 since one of them was my kid. Details. Anyway, one of the sweeties came over to me and said that so and so had told […]

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An Alien, A Professor, and a Womanizing Motorcyclist

photo courtesy of:

(*I’m not a celebrity stalker, but the death of Robin Williams so close to my Mom’s makes it all raw and real and I’m moved to share…) We moved from Ohio to Arizona in 1978 and shortly thereafter I became a “latch-key” kid. Part of the transition included my Mom going to work once we got […]

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On Weddings and Funerals

These miniature Calle Lilies were so gorgeous, I couldn't pass them up! We did almost all of the flowers ourselves except for a few beautiful bouquets friends and family sent to the church.

In preparation for my Mom’s memorial (funeral) service, I wrote out more than a dozen pieces, trying to figure out just what to say. Once it was determined I was the one who would be sharing the message, I prayed and pondered how to sum up 42 years of MY memories with a woman who […]

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Time: My Love Language

6/15/14, taken by Vanessa Kruse Photography

My number one love language is time…and I think that’s why this grief is so incredibly profound. My Mom was too young to be as old as she was when she died. She wasn’t an “old” soul. She was wise and discerning beyond her years, basically with enough God-discernment to qualify for a lifetime, but […]

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A Matter of Obedience

Here’s what obedience looks like…

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Bedside with Bebe, Literally

This is a hand I've held for 42 years...

(*I started writing this the morning of June 19th) It’s all surreal, carpet burns on my knees as I position myself to be helpful to my Mom, rubbing her back while playing worship songs in her ears, reading Scripture over her, telling her how very grateful I am that she would call me her own, […]

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Why Wait?

“I’ll run a marathon when I lose 50 lbs.” “We’ll travel when the kids are out of the house.” “I’ll go back to school once my kids are through school.” “When I’m feeling better I’ll do such and such…” “When I have more money I’ll be able to do (whatever ‘it’ is…)” You and I could sit […]

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How do I Pray?

Sometimes I pray like this: (*closing my eyes as I type so it’s prayer and not prose…excuse typos…) Father, I love you! You are good and holy and lovely! You are BIG and I’m NOT! I’m grateful for Your grace each day, thankful for Your love, in awe of Your mercies, humbled by Your constant […]

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