Tuesday, September 27

A New Chapter: Here's to the Future

Today was the perfect day for the first fire of the season. I pulled on my boots and went out for a load of firewood, treading over orange and yellow leaves as I went, and catching a few in my hair as they blew across the pasture. Sitting here now, taking deep breaths and trying to build up the courage I need to share today's post, I can hear the cracking of the wood as it burns. The smell of it brings so many sweet and distant memories to my mind, but I'm ready for new memories now, new sweet moments, new smiles for myself and my little children. I'm ready for the next chapter, the next part in the story of the 25-year-old mom of five, who lost her sweet husband after a long hard battle with terminal cancer. The last 18 months have changed us profoundly, but after so many prayers on our behalf, and so much hope for us to find happiness and joy, I'm ready to move forward with more faith, to let go of fear, and I'm ready to share some news that I've been keeping to myself for the last little while. I'm ready to introduce you to Richard.
The cliff-notes version: We met over 10 years ago while we were both in high school. We started writing letters to eachother, and kept it up for several years. We became incredibly close and helped one another through some tough years. When I became engaged to Martin, Richard and I parted ways as friends. We didn't reconnect until very recently, and things started moving fast between us. We had grown so close all those years ago, and were very much able pick up where we'd left off.
Having Richard around felt so easy and natural, and there was a turning point early on when we both saw clearly where we were headed. We felt like our lives were pieces of the same puzzle, and saw so many signs from different places that we were moving in the right direction. After much prayer and peaceful confirmation, we made the choice to be married. We did so in a small private ceremony on top of a mountain, and it was simple and perfect. (wedding photos coming soon:))
There is so much hope in our lives now, so much love and peace. Seeing the kids dog-pile him on the floor while I cook dinner, or lining up for piggy-back rides has been so heart-warming. He holds them when they cry and reads to them when they're sick. There is so much more laughter from them, so much excitement for each day, and having a partner to share in everything I've carried on my back for so long is such a blessing. Martin and I talked many times about my future after he was gone, about our five little ones, and I can't help but feel like he has played a large part in how things have worked out. I know he is as grateful as I am for this wonderful man who has come to love and take care of his family.

I know to my core that everything happens for a reason and that Richard was sent to mend our hearts and heal our home when we needed him the most. His life experiences have prepared him in many ways for our families' unique situation, and he recognizes what he's taking on.  Incredibly, he understands how much we love and miss Martin, and his desire to help keep Martins' memory alive is obvious.  We all feel so incredibly blessed to have him.

I look forward to sharing more about my history with Richard and how our unique and beautiful story has unfolded. I also feel strong desires to open up more about parts of Martin's story between his diagnosis and passing.  There are many lessons that I've learned and would like to convey for those who may benefit, myself included. I feel that I want to express more of that part of my life here in the coming months, as well as sharing the beginning of this new chapter.

As I'm wrapping this up and the coals in the fire glow gently, I'm more grateful for your kindness and love than ever before, as it is still so needed. Though this is a wonderful time for us with many happy changes, our hearts are still tender and healing.  I have truly felt the effects of so many many prayers on our behalf, and the outreach of love through comments and emails, etc. I wish I could express how much they mean to me, and I hope you all realize how much they have helped carry me through the storm.

More coming soon, 

Thursday, September 15

Merci beaucoup

 Hey loves, thanks for being here:) Seeing as it's National Thank You Day, I really wanted to try and share what a hugely positive role that thankfulness has played in my life this last year and a half, as well as some little tips for expressing it more. I wanted to include something special with this post as well, so I've partnered with Merci® to help show how easy and fulfilling it is to say 'Thank You' through heartfelt expressions of gratitude.
To get right into it, every day since Martin was diagnosed 18 months ago, I have been so incredibly blessed and humbled and overwhelmed by the love sent our way. I've said it before, but I know that at the core of my happiness and positivity through the last 18 months has been the neverending support and encouragement from so many of you. I've tried and failed over and over to express my thanks for every caring gesture, every timely comment, every prayer offered, every batch of cookies, every dollar donated, every tender thought, but there are simply no words or ways to repay so much goodness and generosity. You guys are too good to us.

It has been so humbling, as I said, first to realize just how much people cared, that the world was such a beautiful place full of such giving people, and then to realize that I was no longer the independent and strong woman that I used to be and that I really needed the help.

One day last year I sat with a friend and expressed how much I wanted to give each of you sweethearts a big bear hug, and that I wished there was something that I could do in return for helping hold up my little struggling family. Her advice was to simply pay it forward once I got my footing again. She said that all we can do is to take those feelings of gratitude and put them back out into the world whenever possible, so that's what we started doing.

At least once a week for the past little while, the kids and I will pick up a small token of appreciation and deliver it to a special someone. It's become one of our favorite family traditions:) We love the Merci® boxes of European chocolates because they're beautiful and so delicious, they're very inexpensive and easy to find, and the intent is written right on the packaging! (Merci is french for "thank you":)). We like to wrap the boxes in a pretty ribbon before making the delivery, and they always remember who's turn it is to hold the box this time around. :)

Denis Waitley said "Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every moment with grace, love, and gratitude." I really believe that focusing part of each day on what and who we have to be grateful for, even in the midst of terrible trials, that we can see the hope in each day we're blessed to be alive. Life is really a series of thousands of little miracles if we take the time to notice them. There is always something or someone to be grateful for. Always.
Today will never come again, so be a friend, be a blessing, encourage someone, choose to be happy, choose to be excited, take the time to care, let your words heal instead of wound, and simply say Thank You! We lift ourselves and others when we live with gratitude, and express it as often as possible. *steps off soapbox*

What are some ways that you like to express gratitude or teach your children about being thankful? This is the perfect time of year to work on ideas, so please share!

 This post was sponsored by Merci. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the partnerships that support The Freckled Fox!

Monday, September 12

For those who listen

I saw a quote the other day by Will Shakespeare that read "The Earth has music for those who listen." 
This inspired what I wanted to touch on today. My first post back after such a long silence here.
image via

I'm happy to say that in time that's passed since I posted that list of goals, my little family and I were able to do everything I wrote on that list, at least once:) One thing that I've been focusing a lot on however that was not on the list, is more listening. 
Listening to the silence, 
listening to my children, 
listening to the breeze, 
listening to my heartbeat,
listening for guidance,
listening to my friends,
and lets be honest, listening to lots of tantrums and timer beeps and the whirring of laundry machines.

As I took time every day lately to stop and listen, to take a couple deep breaths, and to center myself, I began to see my days in a different light. I've felt for the first time in a while that I am actually contributing to my friendships again, that I'm able to be a more understanding and patient mother, that I've been able to better control my anxiety, and that I've been able to see a loving hand in my every-day life. I'm challenging you guys for this week to make a conscious effort to listen more. Pause, breath, and listen, and then come back and let me know if you saw any positive effects that might not have happened otherwise:)

We have had so many moments of happiness in the last little while, and I've done so much soul-searching and self-discovery, and so much has changed and happened that I can't wait to share with you all! So many of you have commented or messaged or sent mail and care-packages during that time, letting me know that we were still being lifted up by happy thoughts and prayers, and I can't thank you enough. 

Be back soon, I promise

Monday, August 1

Flowers yet to grow

Today was the ultimate fresh start. A new month, beginning on a Monday morning. You know how much of a sucker I am for days like this. I woke up this morning and breathed in little goals and dreams like air. Lately, I have adopted so many different rituals and routines to help me feel in control even a tiny bit, and the kids have loved picking new traditions and having some structure in our day-to-day, a little at a time. I know that keeping my mind and body as active as I can since his passing has helped and is helping keep me grounded and distracted all at once, and the way I see it the more things I can fit into our life right now that does that, and that brings us closer together and make us all happier, the better.

So today I'm trying to begin, if even a tiny bit. New beliefs in myself and my abilities, new patterns of thought, new little lists of projects and activities. As I've said before, at the end of the day I still have to keep going for my little kiddies. I literally am forced to get out of bed every day by 5 voices calling for me, for breakfast, or help getting their shirt on, etc. This month though, today, I took lots of deep breaths and thought about all the things we have ahead. There is still so much more ahead. So if I can help it, our August will be full of much more.

More evening bike rides after dinner,
more baking together in the kitchen,
more reading on the hammock,
more road trips together,
more blanket forts,
more dress-up,
more writing,
more roasting hotdogs,
more cartoon snuggles on moms bed,
more singing Adele at the top of our lungs,
more sunsets on the roof (just me:)),
more running in the garage(also just me),
more hikes in the woods,
more adventures,
more creating,
more exploring,
more dreaming,
more healing,
more hoping,
more love.

There's a quote by Gaby Compr├ęs that I shared on my Instagram that says:
"There are stars you haven't seen and loves you haven't loved. There's light you haven't felt and sunrises yet to dawn. There are dreams you haven't dreamt, and days you haven't lived, and nights you won't forget, and flowers yet to grow. And there is more to you that you have yet to know."

I do feel hopeful today, so I'm writing this while that feeling lasts.
I feel like our future is brighter than the darkness that follows me constantly. I wish I could explain what a huge role you play in that hope, and that such a large part of my often positive attitude is always attributed to the constant encouragement flowing my way from you friends, truly. I need you to know that.

In wrapping up tonight I have to apologize for how jumbled I feel all of my thoughts are lately, I just have so much on my mind and it's hard to find the right words. I look forward to sharing the new traditions, routines and things that have been working well for myself and the kiddies here with you sometime.