Thursday, July 26, 2012

Saved and Being Saved

This is my contribution to Sarah Bessey's synchroblog on "What is saving your life right now?" 

So many things save me, every day.

11 pounds of unconditional, curled-up-next-to-my-leg-as-tightly-as-possible, love.

A little boy saying, "Ms. Ashley. I like you. I like when you come to my house."

The rise and fall of another little boy's ecstatic giggle when I offer him an Otter Pop.

Novels that wreck me in just the right way and then put me back together in a wholly unexpected fixing.


The people we meet with every Monday evening.

A blogging community that stretches my heart and mind in ways I never thought I would be stretched...ways that are painful, annoying, and beautiful.

Relationships once thought to be lost, but are found again.

Weekends to celebrate with family, adding to family, to look forward to. 

Gilmore Girls.

Friends and family breaking bread together at our table.

Hot coffee out of a mug made especially for me by my Kindred Spirit.

My sister.

Peter, Wendy, Neverland.

Trying a new recipe and declaring it a success.

My bed...and ALL of the life-saving properties contained therein.


The peace that comes from choosing to rest in God's faithfulness even when it seems impossible.

An appointment to have my hair cut.

Moms clamoring to claim a day for me to watch their most precious gifts.

Mostly though, what is saving me right now, is the friendship, trust, loyalty, camaraderie, love, equal partnership, and team that I have in the gift of my Mr. Ford. His quiet strength and leadership and never-ending faith in the Lord's care for US, offers me the equilibrium that I so often need. His deep desire to do what he can to make a way for us to live out our dreams together and the way in which he needs me and my discernment to help make those decisions. His perseverance and hard work in everything he does. The way he notices me, large and small. His servant heart. The way he seeks out the wisdom of those who have gone before him. The faith he has in me and my strengths. His arms wrapped around me and the softness of his kiss. His smile, his blue eyes, his blonde hair. The way he sprawls across the floor or the bed or the couch that says he has not yet lost the little boy inside. The way he doesn't move away from, but rather towards, me and my ugly cry when I am at my weakest. The sound of his laugh when we are totally relaxed and silly. The way he allows himself to be the instrument through which God speaks to me, that right now, I hear best. All of the ways he gives himself to me and humbly and joyfully accepts the ways I give myself to him. 

My husband, my friend, my lover, my partner. 

Right now, HE'S what's saving me. 

What's saving you right now?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Weekend Dates

*Edit: I'm so dumb! I never mentioned what movie we saw. We saw Moonrise Kingdom. Oops!

Since Mr. Ford's work schedule is not a Monday through Friday deal, we have to take our "Saturdays" whenever we can get them...which usually means anytime we have a day off together. This week yesterday was our Saturday and he was off early enough on Thursday that it felt like a Friday night. This is so rare and we took full advantage of it.

Happy to have a summer evening together.
Thursday night, I had a hankering for some yummies from a local food stand called Sunflower. It's a vegetarian place and is probably the best food around. Hands down the best tacos I've ever had, with or without meat. So we hopped in the car with the dog and drove over there. While we were standing in line, we heard live music start up in the park next door. So after we got our order (two die for), we walked over the hill and discovered a summer concert series in full swing. I think all of Fair Oaks and the surrounding area had turned out for it. TONS of people with their picnics and dogs and families. And dancing. Oh, the dancing. The people watching was solid gold. And the summer evening weather was perfection. It was a wonderful impromptu date night. And boy was it impromptu...I was in my sweat pants and had not put on any make-up all day. But a pleasant surprise evening out with my little family. 

Fair Oaks Summer Concert Series
Cute puppy and a nutburger.
Then Friday, we slept in and drank coffee in bed. Then Mr. Ford left to have lunch with a friend while I leisurely got ready for the day. When he came home, we decided to drive up to ELDO because my adorable 6 year old cousin had a lemonade stand and you just cannot deny that. Poor thing was at a slight disadvantage, living in a gated community in the foothills, so I wanted to be sure she had some business. So the whole Ford family hopped in the car and went in search of some lemonade. And cookies. And "decorative straws". Her exact words. 

Me with my decorative straw.
She and her little friend were SO cute and so optimistic about their lack of customers. But can I just say how disappointed I was in the several people that just drove by her and waved. People, what on earth can be so important that you don't have time to stop for 2 minutes and buy some lemonade from a little girl?! Seriously. It'll make their day and more than likely, seeing their smile will make yours too. Don't drive past, this summer, if you see a sweet little girl with a lemonade stand. Take a moment and make a difference in her day. 

Cutest little lemonade stand ever.
After we hung out a little bit and helped her pack up (we were her last customers of the day), we headed back home to drop the dog off and then we drove into downtown Sac for some bookstore roaming. Mr. Ford bought me a used copy of an Ann Patchett novel I've been wanting to read for awhile. Then he surprised me and told me that we were going to have some dinner and see a movie!

A notice on one of the shelves in the bookstore.
There is an old theater in Sacramento called the Tower Theater that only has 3 screens and shows some of the less mainstream movies. Right next door is the Tower Cafe with a wonderfully sweet outdoor patio. This is where we had dinner and a movie. It is so charming and I love that my town has such a gem like this. I loved sitting under the overgrowth of trees, talking, laughing, and enjoying a meal and some drinks with the love of my life. 

Dinner on the patio.
The movie was perfect. It was sweet, beautiful, and dreamy. And the little boy was SO much like my Mr. Ford (Khaki Scout!) and the little girl was enough like me (yellow suitcase full of books) and the way they spoke to one another and dealt with life was so familiar to us that I told Mr. Ford when we walked out of the movie that I was more in love with him then when we went in. I fell more in love with my husband through the character of Sam. Is that weird? Well, I don't care. It happened. It was just such a delightful little flick and I was in a dreamy, other-worldly haze for the rest of the evening. Even still a little bit today. 

Tower Theater and Cafe
We finished off the evening sharing a slice of tiramisu and a couple of espressos back on the patio of the Tower Cafe, with it all lit up and romantic. We laughed a lot more and reveled in the hazy cocoon that the movie had wrapped us in and just enjoyed each other. There is nothing better than dating my husband and the longer we are together and the more we learn about each other and the deeper in love we fall, the better the dating gets. For as long as I live, I never want to stop dating my husband. Whether the dates are completely impromptu, semi-planned, or planned months and weeks in advance...they all have their place and they are all wonderful. 

LOVE my husband.
Hope your weekend is just as lovely!

Thursday, July 5, 2012


So the weekend of June 22-25 was a weekend of many celebrations and boy, was it exhausting!

My Dad turned 50 back on the 13th but we threw him a surprise party on the 22nd when his sister and her family were in town from Tennessee.

Sidebar: Shout out to the Dibbs! You should come back to Cali more often...or just move back. We all know you want to. I LOVE when they are around. Mine and my sister's relationship with our cousin's Andrew and Morgan can best be summed up like this:

Graphic via here
Anyway, the theme of the party was MarioKart and my mom really went all out and managed to pull it off...he was totally surprised. Had no idea.

We made him "break through" the "finish line".
We had an awesome cake made by a local bakery:

We had cupcakes too with little MarioKart figures on top.
And my mom made cookies to look like the invincibility stars:

Mr. Ford ate a lot of these.
We ordered cakepops to look like the "one-up" mushrooms from Mr. Ford's awesome cousin's cakepop business, Sallyface Cakepops:

CUTE. And yummy.
B-T-Dubs, they ship anywhere in the country. Got your back, Chy. ;)

My Uncle Kirk grilled and smoked so much of his famous Tri-Tip, I don't think he left any for the rest of the state of California. The man is a Tri-Tip wizard. So yum.

And my Dad got to play MarioKart with a lot of his favorite people.

By which I mean his nieces and nephews.
Mostly, it was just a wonderful time spent celebrating an incredible man who has done so much for so many in his 50 years with family and friends who are family.

The next day we spent just chilling at the Miller homestead in Yuba City with family, which is so rare but so lovely. Relaxing, refreshing, and fun. So much fun. The Millers love to laugh and know how to make each other laugh (however inappropriate it may be at times...oops ;) and that's how we spent Saturday. I wish we could have more time like more often.

Cousin Andrew wearing G-pa's hat.

Mr. Ford and I

6 1/2 year old Gilly teaching cousin Andrew how to play a game on her Kindle.
Then Sunday it was time for Ford family celebrations! It was not only Mr. Ford's sister's birthday but also our niece, Giulia's first birthday! So we headed over to Ben and Gina's to celebrate our sweet, sweet, full of personality and life Giulia. 

WIth our niece/Mr. Ford's Goddaughter.
That girl LOVED her cake and is not afraid to get messy...while still looking gorgeous. My kind of girl.

Mr. Ford's sister, Elizabeth, and her son, Logan, as well as my wonderful, Mother-in-Love, Colleen drove up from down south to be with everybody for Weekend 'o' Celebrations, which was a real treat. I love having them around and I got to bond a little more with Logan, which was a major plus. Sunday night we had a quiet dinner at Chevy's to celebrate Elizabeth. Mr. Ford got her a sombrero and she retaliated and got him one too, since his birthday was on Monday! (I told you there were lots of people to celebrate!)

Mr. Ford can be such a goober...but he's my goober. :)
And Monday was my Mr. Ford's birthday. Oh my, do I love that man. We had a nice quiet morning, drinking coffee and I read all of his Facebook birthday wishes out loud to him, emphasizing when there were all caps and the number of exclamation points used. He really loved that. ;)

Then Mr. Ford got cooking. What he wanted most to do for his birthday was to cook a fabulous meal for some of the people he loved (which turned out to be, as he put it, "the women in his life"). He has always loved to cook and to be adventurous in the kitchen, but since starting back to school full-time while working full-time, he hasn't been able to cook much of anything at all, much less get adventurous. So that's what he wanted to do. And boy was it phenomenal! It reminded me of why I fell in love with him and married him.

He made a 3 course meal, plus an aperitif course and a dessert course. For the aperitif he made what were basically gruyere cheese-its...holy cow. They were so good! They were gobbled up so fast. OMG, yum.

Then he made a chilled melon soup that was so refreshing and perfect for summer.

Then there was a FABULOUS roasted, chopped beet and red onion salad. You cannot go wrong with roasted beets. Just ask me.

THEN. Oh, then...he made duck confit. MY man made duck confit. I have died and gone to heaven. Duck confit is the food of the gods...and also the French. Oh, my word. I love duck confit...probably one of my favorite foods and the singular reason I go to France. ;) Just kidding...kind of. And my man NAILED IT. It was unbelievable. No words. I may go so far as to say it was the best of my life. Sorry, Frenchies. But it was really that good. Woo! Cloud nine.

It doesn't look like much, but TRUST ME.
 And then we had a tart tatin, which is basically on upside-down, open-faced apple pie and also very French. Yum, yum. Even though it made a GIANT mess in my oven. But whatever. I'm over it.

I was very proud of my table setting too. :)
And other than oohing and ahhing over my husband's chops in the kitchen, we just had a lovely evening chatting and being together. And watching Logan run back and forth and play with toys. Man, do I love that kid.

Love this kid. Also our Godson. We collect them, apparently. :)
My husband is truly my best friend and equal and perfect yin to my yang in every way. I love him forever and am so grateful to have been able to celebrate another year of his life, because his life has changed mine in radical and unexpected ways. If you've ever met him, count yourself blessed and enriched. The fact that he chose to cook for others on HIS birthday speaks volumes of his character and his servant heart. I love you to the moon and back, Mr. Ford.

And Tuesday I got to spend a quiet day at home with my sister-in-love, Elizabeth, chatting on the couch for hours on end. That was a true blessing. I am so grateful to have her and her precious son in my life as well.

It was a crazy, busy, long, exhausting weekend but a weekend we'll always remember. Full of celebrations of the ones we love. That is always a joy.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Showing Up

Graphic via here

I must beg forgiveness for my lack of showing up here.

Which is ironic because God has been stretching me much farther than ever before in certain areas and He's been teaching me that no matter what, no matter how hard (or easy) it may be, you must always show up for yourself and show up for the people in your life. 

I don't ever want to stop showing up for the people I love. I want them to know they can count on me. 

But sometimes I am literally at the end of my ability to do so; at the end of my grace bucket and I have stretched the rope it is attached to as far as I can possibly stretch it to reach those who need me to show up and I simply cannot do it. 

This is where the brutal/beautiful - or "brutiful" as my friend (by which I mean blogger I follow on whom I have a total friend crush), Glennon, over at Momastery says - work of God in my life takes over. When I get to the bottom of that bucket that's at the end of that rope, it leaves me no choice but to allow God not to just fill up the bucket, but to literally continue to pour out the grace from that - what my faulty, sinful, human eyes can only see as empty - bucket and to extend the rope as far as it needs to go to reach whoever it is that needs reaching. The only requirement of me is to show up.

And so I'll continue to show up. And I'll continue to let God stretch me and pour out His grace through me and my bucket...even when it's empty. It's not always going to look perfect. I've realized, it's often going to be brutiful. But God doesn't ask us to be perfect vessels through which to work. All He asks of us is to show up with our matter how empty, ugly, cracked, or messy it might be.

And if I fail to show up for you or if it looks a little messy when I do...just know I'm trying. Forgive me when I fail because showing up is a hard thing. But as one of my dear mommas, Momma D, who knows a thing or two about hard things, reminded me, "I CAN do ALL things through Christ Jesus". Even the hard things. Like showing up. Even THAT I have to let Him do through me...He shows up through me. There's no two ways around it. The only way to make it in this life is to realize and embrace the fact that you must WHOLLY and COMPLETELY rely on God for EVERY possible move you make. And THAT is truly brutiful.

We - God and me and you - can do hard things. (Another Momastery mantra.)

PS - We had a whole lot of celebrations going on last weekend and I promise to show up tomorrow to tell you all about them! ;)