Giggle Giggle Toot Roar

Striving to answer the call to motherhood and wifeyhood with joy, Jesus, and crazy dancing.


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Are you Ordinarily Extraordinary?

Stories about amazing people doing amazing things can be so inspiring! We hear often about firefighters or police officers that risk their lives to save people. We hear about couples who have fostered or adopted dozens of older or disabled children, thus changing their lives and building a loving family. We hear about anonymous strangers who drop silver coins into the Salvation Army buckets at Christmas or others who leave extra generous tips for their waitress.

These stories inspire us and hopefully invoke in us a like-spirit of generosity and kindness.

The heroes and do-gooders in the above examples would likely say, “I was just doing my job” or “I just did what anyone else would have done.” Of course we know that isn’t true, not everyone in our sometimes scary world would stick their neck out for someone else.

A humble hero is the best kind. I love hearing about these humble heroes being rewarded and recognized, almost more than hearing about the initial good deed itself.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show does a great job of thanking people who have done great things. She invites them to her show, interviews them, and then surprises them with amazing gifts, everything from family trips, to cars, and money. The heroes never acted the way they did in hopes of getting a car from Ellen. Sometimes the payment seems so material (or immaterial) compared to the amazing act of bravery/kindness the person showed, but it is at least a small, well-deserved recognition and thank you. And, it usually genuinely helps the hero (i.e. huge family gets the van they could never afford; firefighter takes his family on an amazing trip his salary wouldn’t have allowed for, etc.). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying let’s all go out and do amazing things, so we can get on Ellen!

True good deeds are done without thinking about any potential reward or recognition.

To all of the extraordinary, humble heroes out there, thank you for going above and beyond!

Are you ordinarily extraordinaryAfter watching one of those shows, and after I dry my flubbering, blubbering tears, I usually can’t help but think of another huge group of people deserving of thanks. I call these people the “ordinarily extraordinary.” Ordinarily extraordinary people are people who will likely never be recognized for “heroic” deeds, but still, they are making a difference. Likely, someone, somewhere, considers them their hero.

Who is ordinarily extraordinary?

Probably you.

I’m talking about the mom who works all day and then despite her exhaustion, goes home and gives her best self to her children and/or spouse.

I’m talking about the stay-at-home mom who wears herself out all day with domestic duties, but she still manages to make it a priority to laugh and play and read to her children.

I’m talking about the father who worries about the balance between spending time with his family and providing for his family. Sometimes he works late, but more times he “shows up.” He is super-dad.

I’m talking about the friend who is busy raising her own family, but somehow manages to send a card when you’ve had something sad (or happy) happen.

I’m talking about the neighbor that brings you over baked goods, just because.

I’m talking about any parents, that are patient with their children 95% of the time and when they lose patience that 5%, they commit to try better next time and teach their children the power of, “I’m sorry.”

Really, I’m talking about anyone that is striving to be Christ-like.

You are extraordinaryWe are busy; our lives are full. But it is ordinarily extraordinary if while we are wading through the busyness, we aspire to show generosity, love fully, and are thoughtful to the people in our lives.

Who is ordinarily extraordinary?

Probably you.

Probably your mom, dad, spouse, kids, friend, neighbor, random person you meet that treats you with kindness and respect…

Being ordinarily extraordinary doesn’t make someone ordinary; it makes them extraordinary; it makes them a hero, but in quieter, simpler ways than the “normal” heroes we hear about in the news. Being ordinarily extraordinary makes a difference in people’s lives.

You may not be able to thank you ordinarily extraordinary heroes with lavish gifts like Ellen, but let’s challenge ourselves this week to recognize and remember our heroes in smaller ways:

  • Write a grandma or friend a note letting them know how much you appreciate them.
  • Surprise someone with fresh baked cookies or a home-cooked meal.
  • Text or email someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • Leave an extra generous tip at a restaurant.
  • Send a blog friend a note of support.
  • Hold a door, offer a smile, say thank you…just do something ordinarily extraordinary.

You may not be a grand hero as society defines a hero, but know to someone, you are extraordinary. To someone you are a hero.

Love,

Natasha

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As Beautiful Today as the Day I was Born

It’s fun to build a group of gym buddies. You see these people, “gym buddies,” at the gym most mornings of the week. They notice when you’re absent from a class and when you return they ask if everything is okay. You chat casually about life and family with usually little commitment beyond the gym walls. It’s fun!

Recently, I learned that one of my new gym buddies used to be an actress. She spent years in Los Angeles and Las Vegas doing her acting thing for mostly print ads and commercials; she even had some small roles on a popular crime show and soap opera. So cool!

The other day, she brought in a collection of a few of her ads and head shots (at several people’s request). It wasn’t long before a little group of people stood ooo-ing and ahh-ing over her little scrap-book. Everyone was blown away by how beautiful she was “back then.”

You are as beautiful todayIt was fun looking through her photos and reminiscing with her, but something rocked me in the pit of my stomach. I wondered if my gym buddy new how beautiful she was right now.

I said something to her in passing like, “You know you are just as beautiful today as you were in those photos.” She brushed me off saying, “No, I look much older now.” My words felt hollow, but I really did mean them.

Now as gym buddies go, you generally find out the basics of each other’s life, but the connection wouldn’t likely be deep enough for me to stomp my feet, shake her, and scream, “You are gorgeous! Right now!” And she really is, even from the little I know about her. I know she’s a mom. I know she has an awesome sense of humor and a great personality that easily makes “gym buddies.” Really, that’s enough for me to know she’s a beautiful person and that her little girls think she is the most beautiful woman in the world (Anna and Elsa being super close seconds of course).

Do you know someone that needs reminding of how beautiful they are?

Is it you?

Our bodies’ age! We get laugh lines, and stretch marks, and a few extra pounds, and a “distinguished” hair color, and maybe uglier hands (Is that just me? What is up with these dry, gorgeously wrinkled hands?!).

As Martina McBride says in her song, This One’s For the Girls:

“Every last laugh line on your face, made you who you are today.”

For all of us, on the days we feel less beautiful than we did “way back when,” I offer this simple prayer…

Lord,

Please help me remember that I am Your precious child, made in Your image.
Help me remember that to You, I am as beautiful today as the day I was born.

Please help me be patient and gentle with myself, Lord.
Help me remember that the only label I wear that matters is that I am Your beloved.

Amen.

Please pass this on to someone that needs a reminder!

Love,

Natasha


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Forget the Shades of Gray and Snuggle up with Toto

I’m back! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my social media/blog cleanse and as you can tell, it lasted a wee bit longer than a month.

I’ve gotten a lot done in the past month and a half! Nothing earth shattering, but I diy-ed a lovely corner desk for my bedroom (with a TON of my hubby’s help of course) and I’ve enjoyed sipping tea and reading daily in my new beautiful space.

I put together my “2015 must-read” book list or two book lists actually, non-fiction books and children’s/youth literature to read (gotta keep my spirit young!). I finished several books including one I’ve always wanted to read, Frank Baum’s original, Wizard of Oz (more on that later). I’ve organized my recipes, cooked more, cleaned our carpets, and trained and ran a five mile race.

Most importantly, I did a much better job of being fully present to my little boys and had more quiet time to reflect and well, just be quiet.

Now, it’s time to start writing again and while I truly enjoy it, the cold, gray winter is fighting hard to keep me on a forever sabbatical, aka I’m majorly lacking in the motivation area. I’m thankful for the spring-like weather this week!

Whose Your TotoSo, what better way to help catapult me (and maybe you too if you’re feeling the winter blues) out of this rut than a post inspired by The Wizard of Oz. What’s more magical than the glittering Emerald City and Oz’s crew of lovable characters?

If you love the movie and haven’t read the book, do it! It was so much fun to get the back story on all of the characters and there really is so much more to the adventure than time allowed for in the movie. And allow me to blow your mind with my favorite interesting tid-bit: The ruby slippers were SILVER in the book. What!? The theory is that they were changed to red for the movie, because that color was more dramatic in Technicolor.

Okay, now that your mind has been sufficiently blown…

In the first few pages of Baum’s original text, I was particularly struck by his description of Dorothy’s surroundings in Kansas. Sure that part of the movie was in black and white, but I don’t remember the movie evoking the same feeling of “grayness” and frankly depression. Dorothy, are you sure you don’t want to stay in Oz?!

“When Dorothy stood in the doorway and looked around, she could see nothing but the great gray prairie on every side. Not a tree nor a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached the edge of the sky in all directions. The sun had baked the plowed land into a gray mass, with little cracks running through it. Even the grass was not green, for the sun had burned the tops of the long blades until they were the same gray color to be seen everywhere. Once the house had been painted, but the sun blistered the paint and the rains washed it away, and now the house was as dull and gray as everything else.”

Description of Aunt Em:

“The sun and wind had changed her, too. They had taken the sparkle from her eyes and left them a sober gray; they had taken red from her cheeks and lips, and they were gray also.”

Description of Uncle Henry:

“Uncle Henry never laughed. He worked hard from morning till night and did not know what joy was. He was gray also, from his long beard to his rough boots, and he looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke.”

Well, isn’t that all rather bleak and “gray”?

Sometimes life feels a little gray and I’m not just talking about that one weird scraggly piece of gray hair I pulled out of my head a few months ago. I’m talking about how easy it is to find ourselves focusing on the gray, negative, and more challenging areas of life.

Fighting the grayness can be a daily battle. Have you ever let your day melt into something similar to this…

I got up late. It threw my whole day off. I had to rush to get the kids ready, so I was short and snappy with them. I hit every red light on the way to the gym and someone cut me off. There were no open parking spots, so I had to drive around, which made me miss the class I wanted to attend. I forgot my headphones, so my workout was so long and boring without music. The kids were so crabby the rest of the day and didn’t want to nap. I was tired from their crabbiness, so I didn’t feel like making dinner. We had frozen pizza again, so I felt like I failed as a wife and mother, because I didn’t make something better for dinner. I had the worse day ever, so I make sure I let my spouse know it when he gets home and I spend the rest of the night making sure he really knows how bad it was.

Anyone else ever had a day like this?

Always look for bright spotsGrayness can feel like a giant dirty snowball that keeps getting thrown in your face over and over again. Some of that grayness we bring on ourselves. In the above example, there were many chances to change the gray into Technicolor. Sure, we woke up late and it threw our day off schedule, but what if instead we were just plain thankful to be waking up at all!

We need to put up our little positive thought fighters up against the negative thought army that sometimes seems to be lurking around every bend. Thankfully, the above types of issues are only light gray issues (or “first world problems” as it’s trendy to say lately).

There are so many darker gray problems out there; the tough things that happen in life like losing a loved one, a cancer diagnosis, losing a job, struggling with infertility, etc. If you aren’t facing any of these, than today thank God for your “light gray” problems.

And then there are even darker gray issues that we know are out there, but many of us will never have to worry about. Pray for those in the darkest gray.

When dark gray things pile up in life, it’s like a dirty snowball that threatens to plow you over and drag you down the mountain with it. If you aren’t careful, when dark gray things pile up, it’s easy to start assigning blanket statements to your life like:

“We experience nothing but loss in our lives.”

“My life has been so hard.”

“Nothing ever goes right for me.”

Just the other day I was feeling down from a recent string of challenges; I was moping and said to myself, “Another loss, why do we keep experiencing nothing but loss.” Then I looked up at my two beautiful little boys and immediately felt ashamed for even thinking such a thought!

When the grayness sets in and tries to take hold of our lives and steal our sparkle, we have got to focus on the bright spots and all we have to be thankful for. It can sometimes feel like the devil is trying to remind us of every single bad thing that has ever happened to us! In those moments, we remember only the tough, sad, and tragic, so a pity party easily ensues.

In the Wizard of Oz, for Dorothy, Toto was her bright spot.

“It was Toto that made Dorothy laugh, and saved her from growing as gray as her other surroundings. Toto was not gray…”

Yes, we all have “gray stuff” in our lives (of all shades), but there are wonderful bright spots too. We have so much to be thankful for. We need to cling to our bright spots, our Totos, and lean on that deep sense of thankfulness we have for all that is good in our lives.

Forget the shades of gray and snuggle up with your Toto!

Who is your Toto when skies are gray?

What helps you get your sparkle back?

 

 

 


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January Cleanse

I’ve decided to start the new year with a social media/blogging/gaming cleanse. For the month of January, I’m stepping away from social media, my blog, and other time traps (yes, that means you Candy Crush).

My babies are turning three this summer and I need to give them more of my undistracted attention.

January CleanseI need more time to read, learn, and be creative.

I need more time to digest everything that happened in 2014 and to make plans for a fulfilling 2015!

Thank you to everyone who has been following my blog. Thank you for your patience during my little break.

I’m hoping to return in February, refreshed and focused.

Wishing you a blessed beginning to your 2015.

Love,

Natasha


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5 Reasons Adults Need to Climb Trees

You have probably heard this story from the Bible found in Luke 19:3-5. Jesus was passing through the city of Jericho and a large crowd had gathered.

Zacchaeus, a tax collector could not see Jesus through the crowd, so he climbed a nearby tree for a better view. Zacchaeus “was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house. And he came down quickly and received him with joy.” -Luke 19:3-5

PicsArt_1417215605808When I was a little girl, I used to disappear for hours up in a tree on the side of our house. In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the safest climbing or lounging around tree. It was an old pine tree planted snuggly between two houses with scraggly branches that were of questionable width to hold a child of my size. Most days I’d only climb up a few branches, just high enough to hide from my parents and more importantly my little sister. I guess I needed my alone time even back then!

Some days I’d just sit there and revel in my “me time,” sometimes I’d bring a book, sometimes I’d pray or people watch, and sometimes I’d use my fingernails to carve my initials, a heart and the initials of my latest crush into the tree trunk. Other days I’d climb that tree much higher than I should have (high enough to see into my bedroom windows on our second floor). I’d have a heart attack if I found my kids up in a tree that high (sorry mom and dad)!

While I’m not necessarily recommending everyone runs into their backyard to literally climb your trees, I do believe we can learn something from the story of Zacchaeus and childhood tree climbing.

1.) Climbing trees gives us a better view.
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, so he climbed a tree for a better view! This seems like an obvious solution to the problem, but he was the ONLY one that figured it out. He had a problem: the crowd was thick and he wouldn’t be able to see Jesus when he passed by. He could have just stayed in the crowd contently, but he found a solution!

Do you ever find yourself bogged down in your problems (large or small) and that’s where it ends (you are frustrated and sulky)?

Climb a tree and find a solution to your problem!

Recently one of my little guys had been waking up every morning in a puddle of pee. As I entered his room every morning, I was greeted by “all wet mommy.” This led to me not only washing his bed sheets and mattress protector daily, but also the two blankets and slew of stuffed animal buddies he insists on sleeping with. One day, I was telling a friend about our potty issues and she said, “have you tried those overnight diapers.” I was like, “huh, nope.” Well, we ran out and got those magic overnight diapers and sure enough, no more “all wet” issues.

This is a small example of “stuff” in our lives; I was so bogged down in the problem and what I thought was the solution (loads of laundry) that I never really took time to consider a better solution. I needed to climb a tree on that one!

2.) Climbing trees gives us a fresh perspective.
I was standing in line a few weeks ago waiting for a voting booth to open up. There were dozens of people in front of me in line patiently waiting and from my angle I could clearly see there were at least five voting booths open at the very end. Everyone was just standing there, waiting for a safe booth to open up near them. I ended up motioning to people the entire time I was standing in line, letting them know when the booths at the end opened up.

How many times do we unintentionally and blindly follow the crowd?

You always hear that “when God closes a door, He opens a window.” Well, I’ll add that sometimes you might need to climb a tree to be able to see that open window.

Climb a Tree

3.) Climbing trees gives us time to reflect.
A few nights ago, I was sitting at our table eating dinner with my lovely little family. The radio was on in the background, the boys were jabbering (probably whining) and my husband was talking with me about our days. I had a moment of sensory overload! Suddenly everything just seems so loud, even the lights seemed to be yelling at me. Does that ever happen to you? Let’s just say I had to excuse myself and regroup in my tree (dark bedroom) for a few minutes.

We live fast-paced, loud, constant ON, ON, ON lives!

Sometimes we need to climb our tree for a little regroup, alone time.

It helps to get some quiet (even if it is a few seconds). Sometimes I’ll sneak sock-footed into our freezing cold garage just for 10 seconds of quiet. I can still hear the boys screaming behind the door, but it does seem like quiet comparatively. I’ll send up a quick prayer, eat a piece of chocolate and re-enter the house as super mom.

4.) Climbing trees allows you to be uniquely you!
We wait in an agonizingly long bathroom line at a sporting event or theater show only to find out there have been 5 stalls open the entire time. Look for feet people! Or everyone snails through one open door in a long line instead of opening a few more doors and starting new paths into the building. All of the doors work people!

It isn’t always that we want to blend in (although sometimes we do); we are just going about our lives doing what people do. It’s easy to slip into the habit of thinking the right thing to do is the thing that everyone else is doing.

Can we really be the best versions of ourselves if we ALWAYS play it safe by keeping our feet firmly on the ground and by neatly following the person ahead of us in line?

I don’t think so. I think we are being called to do more. Zacchaeus wasn’t afraid of what other people were going to say or think about him when he climbed that tree, he just did it.

What is holding you back in life from being YOU?!

I had a pedicure recently with a dear friend. She had a wedding to go to and she was agonizing over what shade of nail polish to pick. She didn’t want people to judge her or comment on her toe nails if the shade of pink didn’t perfectly match her dress. I didn’t know what to say, because I’m pretty sure I was getting mine painted dark blue or purple! Anyway, this is just a small example of how much power we let other people have over our decisions and lives.

Back on toes, if you love the color mauve on your toes (Mom), then rock out mauve every time. BUT don’t choose the safe choice because of fear. Don’t let others keep you from being uniquely you. Climb that tree and paint your nails up there!

5.) Climbing trees helps us be goofy.
We are way too serious! I heard recently that adults laugh fewer than 15-20 times a day (compared to a child who laughs about 400 times a day). How sad is that! I’ve been talking about climbing figurative trees in our lives, well, if you have a good climbing tree…climb it literally too. Or do something else child-like and do it until you…giggle, giggle, toot.

Side Note: I feel like I should put something lawyer-y in here about tree climbing. So, if you climb a tree and hurt yourself, Natasha and Giggle Giggle Toot Roar will not be held responsible for any injury or consequences resulting in your tree climbing/falling.

Love,

Natasha        


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This Year I’m Doing Advent

I’ve always loved the season of Advent. It feels so joyful and it leads up to many people’s favorite holiday of all, Christmas! Every year I have the best intentions to “do” Advent. Every year I plan in my head how I’m going to spend a little time reflecting on the readings of the day or say a little prayer as I light the candles on an Advent wreath. And every year, I realize that it is already December 23rd and I’ve let another Advent slip away from me without doing anything special to prepare for Christmas. Then by December 25th I feel a little more exhausted and stressed than I should be and wouldn’t be had I taken the time to really do Advent right.

This year I'm doing Advent

“If you’re sick of Christmas by December 25, you haven’t done Advent correctly.” -The Editors at Busted Halo

Advent is all about waiting, but not the kind of eye-rolling, foot tapping waiting we do when the grocery store has only one lane open on its busiest day. It’s more of the butterflies in our stomach, I can’t sit still, I’m so excited I need a hug kind of waiting.

What are we waiting for? What are we preparing for?

Advent is a two-fold waiting and preparing for Jesus’ birth and for Jesus’ return in the future. Advent is also a good time to recall that while we are waiting for our Savior’s birth and preparing for his return to earth someday, we don’t have to wait to have him in our daily lives. He is here with us always.

Check out this great video by Busted Halo: Advent in Two Minutes.

Try an Advent wreath, Advent calendar, or Advent chain.

This year I’m doing Advent and I invite you to join me!

Let’s pray that we do Advent right this year!

Busy People Advent Prayer:

Lord, the trees are bare, the ground is cold, it gets dark so early, and oh the snow! I’m not feeling very joyful, Lord. Please help me find warmth, light, and joy in the season of Advent.

Lord, we are so busy; there is so much to do and so much to check off our list. In this season of Advent, please help us prioritize you at the top of that list.

Lord, there was no room for Jesus at the Inn in Bethlehem. Please calm our minds and help us clear a prominent spot for you in our hearts.

Lord, in this season of Advent, help us wait with expectant joy for your birth and peacefully prepare for your second coming.

Lord, in the midst of all the waiting for you, help us remember that you are with us now too.

Please warm us with your light, renew us with your joy, and give us the strength to make this season of Advent a meaningful one, so that we will be prepared for the wonder of Christmas.

Amen.

Love,

Natasha