Capturing our weekend

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I was determined to put my phone down more this weekend and pick up my camera to capture what was going on.  I figured if I blogged about it, I better make it happen.

Friday started with a fun visit from my parents and then oh yeah no big deal, my husband decides to rip up the floor in the bathroom and retile it.  I mean why not?  We woke up Saturday morning to our first real snow, and the kids were so excited about getting out there.  They actually stayed out for a while because it wasn’t super cold.

Whenever I asked Leah to smile for me, she either shoved snow in her mouth or made these ridiculous faces for me.  She is our little ham and she knows it.  She cracks me up.

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After being inspired at Craft Weekend, I am determined to bring my sewing machine out more, and staying home all day in our jammies was the perfect excuse!  Gracie was thrilled to use a real machine for the first time.  She made an adorable felt heart garland for our lack of Valentine’s day decor!

We ended our day with making some home made pizza, as some of us didn’t even end up showering till right before dinner.

As usual Leah hated something about dinner, and while the kids pizza was quite boring and plain, we went all out.  Disclaimer if you have never had Argula on top of your pizza you need to try it NOW.  Its amazing, just put some olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper on the argula, mix it up, and be over gracious with your amount you layer on.  Best part is that my friend Meg taught me this and since she has moved away, everytime I make it — I think about her and how crazy I thought she was when she first put lettuce on her pizza!!  My sincerest apologies girl, you were so right.

Sunday is a little to crazy for pictures but I managed to take some before we ate up our late night dinner once the kids went to bed.  We both agree that we can make sushi way better than we can buy it anywhere.  Helps that when you make it you can stuff it with tons of goodness.  Homemade sushi night and SNL is the perfect end to our weekend!

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Whatever Craft Weekend

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I am still in shock that I flew to KANSAS and got to sleep at the craft house!!!  It was everything I had hoped it would be and more!  There is still part of me that wishes I walked a little slower through the house and let myself really soak up how beautiful every detail was.

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We seriously sewed and crafted till 2 in the morning each night.  We ate the most beautiful and mouth watering food you could imagine (Kimberlee makes a cheesecake that ALONE was worth the whole trip)!!  We made new friends and shared stories about life and family.

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Right away I realized how fast this Jersey girl talks and how programmed I am to want to do everything so quickly.  I literally kept waiting for a schedule to be passed out, when in reality there was one rule  ** You were not allowed to clear your plate, ever**.  At one point I realized we were all still sewing our aprons when we were supposed to be getting ready to leave to go shopping.  Looking around the table, I realized no one cared.  No one was in a rush.  Everyone was perfectly content just sitting and crafting.

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I felt God reminding me, in so many ways, to SLOW down, and to enjoy the freedom to be creative, to chat, and to just linger a little longer.  It’s so hard sometimes to really linger.  To let the schedule disappear, forget about the demands of life, and get lost in a project.  To tap into a side of your brain that often gets passed by because we don’t have “enough time” or “enough energy” to really let our creative juices flow.

 

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My greatest take away from the weekend was realizing that I can make this kind of time a priority in my normal life, away from the magical craft house.  As beautiful as this craft house is, and as endearing as Meg is as she empowers us to tap into our creative juices; the weekend really just gave us freedom to make being creative a priority.

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I don’t want to think anymore that I don’t deserve that freedom, or that I can’t have it.  Being creative is so fulfilling for me, it fills a cup I forget is even empty to begin with.

The value of that lesson is priceless, friends.

Now go right now, and get your name on that list for Craft Weekend!  Right now people, I mean it!

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And yes we had to leave some “Lovely Mosaic” swag for Meg while we were there!

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I could write about how I have neglected this blog.

I could write about how life was busy and we worked hard the past two months, like really hard.

But really….

I don’t want to focus on that right now.  My desire this year is to seek out the joy that this life has and let it overflow my heart with gratitude.

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Life is teaching me that there is joy to be found everywhere – in every broken crack in my shiny not so perfect life – in every major stress that presses on our hearts – all around the chaos that three kids, a puppy, and a hubby in ministry bring.

There is joy.

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If I seek it – it is there to remind me that God is good.  His goodness and His joy are laced through every place of my life.  Most days it seems that my eyes are on auto focus, trained to focus on the stress; focus on how hard things are.  It has become my default setting – constantly consumed with how hard things are and constantly talking about how stressful life is right now.

There are so many goals I could have for this year; be a more present mom, a better wife, have a more healthy lifestyle, exercise more.  All of which are good, like really good.

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But more importantly, I want to be training my eyes to switch off of auto, and manually start focusing on the joy around me.  Begin to really start each day with gratitude, and remember that no matter what God places in our lives this year or this very day – we will remain joyful in knowing that He will keep carrying us.  Through the pain, through the tears, pointing us towards the immeasurable joy that will flood our hearts and fill us with gratitude.

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He has given me so much to be thankful for.  Why let another year go by focused on the stresses of life instead of the joy?

Follow me this year on instagram, @tgowesky and use #focusonjoy, as we start 2015 together with the right focus.

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“in between”

Last weekend I was struck by how big my kids are.  Even though I call them my littles, they aren’t so little anymore.

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Looking at this shot, I realized that – there is no pause button on this crazy train of life.  No matter how hard I try I cannot slow it down.  These kids keep growing and we are basically holding our breath trying to hang on through each new stage.  The diapers and the diaper bags have left the house, the crib has been disassembled, and finally we have freedom from the sippy cups that loved to hide under the van seats.

Life has taken a new turn, around the corner from 3 and under, and headed down the street towards “mom all my friends have iPod touches”. We are in the “in between” stage, where my kids are not quite preteens – and the scariness that comes with middle school is a only couple short years away.

Babies and toddlers are so darn hard and so deeply exhausting at times.  Most of the time it feels like the mothering never stops.  Never.  Ever.  The nights are long with the rocking and soothing.  The days are sometimes longer with 5 page books on repeat, wiping of the runny-nose-faucet, changing of the diapers  and round the clock snack service.  Its amazing the strength we have as mothers to accomplish all of these things not only daily but on “freaky friday” repeat day in and day out.  Thank goodness they are so cute!!

Whether or not I want to embrace it, I am on the other side now.  The side where you wonder how many more times your “not so baby boy” will embrace you with a hug and a occasional kiss on the blacktop before school.  The side where you have to explain to your kids that you don’t know why people are mean and why some don’t include you.  The side where your mothering gets tested in such an intense emotional way that you would give anything to go back to the physically intense part of mothering where your 14 month old having a stuffy nose was the worst part of your week.

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When I hold my 3 month old niece, it is as if my uterus is contracting, trying to tell me– I need and want to go back.  But I am slowly realizing it’s ok to not go back.  We put the hours in and thank the Lord- he has filled my mind with a magic filter that allows me to look back and see that it was all worth it – and it was all good.

The long nights that taught me I was the mother they needed.  The longer days showed me how important my job was.  And the bouts of toddler tantrums reminded me I did have enough patience.

Life is funny how you can’t always see the goodness shine through until you take a couple steps back and wait for the fog to lift.  The welcome sign is lit for the next stage of life, and I will walk forward, contracting uterus and all.

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I love a good list

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Lists are my friends.

I make a list every morning before the day starts.  Every day people!  Sometimes I think its a good thing and sometimes I wish my brain could just shut off for a day.  I’m so scheduled that if I want to have rest or a day off I have to actually schedule it and prepare for it.  My planner is always out so I know what has to be done in the next couple of days.

The desire for a list can often consume me with feeling like if I make the list and it gets accomplished than I succeeded.  I did what I was supposed to do, and somewhere someone is applauding me and recognizing all of my completed tasks.  It doesn’t matter if I complained or had a bad attitude, the job got done.

Thankfully God doesn’t keep a list, he doesn’t keep track of what we have done.  (Lets be honest here, that would super stressful for me!)  He doesn’t have our weekly planners uploaded to His server, double checking if we have accomplished everything He intended for us.  He simply just wants our hearts – He wants our hearts to love Him and to love others.  No pressures to cross off the lists.  No pressure to be “doing” every day of every week.

I often confuse the two and think that if I just do more – than God is happy with how much I am “doing” for Him.  I start believing that I can keep God satisfied if the “God” box is continually checked off.  I served, task completed, God is pleased.

Every day I have to remind myself that its not about me.  It’s not about what I do.  It’s not about what I can accomplish for God.  It’s not about what other people see me doing.  Its more about my heart.

Its about me understanding that God is first pleased when my heart and mind align, and the purest form of love is passed to everyone around me.  My “being with God” needs to be right before my “doing” pleases Him.

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5 Fall fashion must haves

That title is a mouthful – but I am so eager to move out of my summer clothes and into my fall wardrobe.  I’m convinced I love fall & winter clothes much more, who doesn’t love layers and chunky scarves and boots!

Instead of just buying whatever I see on sale, I am trying each season to come up with five things that I think are must haves that I will be on the look out for over the next couple of months.

1. Plaid scarf

Love how a simple plaid really changes a whole outfit and love the little prep feel it adds.

2.  Plaid Button Up Shirt

Totally obsessed with plaid this year – going to give my hubs 5 seconds before he calls me a lumberjack – but I don’t care!! Love how comfy they look.

3. Low Booties

Lets just say don’t try searching “Flat Booties” on pinterest- I saw a lot more than just ankle high boots!  Saw this trend 2 years ago– and kinda hated it.  Last year I saw it wasn’t leaving – and couldn’t figure out if I could pull it off.  Now I am actually starting to like them.  I don’t really wear a heel so I am sure it will take me another three years to find the perfect pair—- and the trend will be long over!

4. Military jacket

Love the laid back look of these.  This will have to be something I only get if its a good deal.  Seeing that it will be hard to convince my husband that I NEED another jacket!

 

5. Chunky headband

Loving these headbands for winter, it may also help that all these girls have amazing hair.  So really any type of rag on their head would look cute!  Found this adorable etsy shop, Three Bird Nest, I am in love with all of them!

Bonus Pick – Nail Polish

Loving the new Essie color Mochachino

 

Enjoy your day!
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Courage

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Courage to share your whole heart- be who you really are.

Courage isn’t something that comes naturally to me, actually not at all.  Growing up I was not someone who acted like – who I really was.  I was constantly trying to morph into who I thought people would want me to be.  I think deep in my heart I knew who I was but struggled with the confidence to be that person.  I watched this ruin some long years of my life when I was a teenager.

I often wonder if I could go back and just be myself, how differently situations would have panned out.  I remember getting to college and I finally could act like myself thinking I had overcome my confidence issue.  It probably helped that I was around more people who were like me, and had the same values as me.  But sometimes our struggles have a way of hiding for a season, and creep up on us when we least expect it.

After having kids, when I thought my self confidence would be stable, I quickly discovered it began to crumble again.  I was easily persuaded by people with how they choose to raise their kids or even how they dressed, or how they lived.  Consistently feeling that if I changed one more thing about myself or the way I lived, then finally I would feel complete.  Like the thing I had searched for all of my life – suddenly would be found.256272e24a8be61d0fdec20843f3c872

Over the years, the lack of self confidence literally bled itself throughout my life.  Ever since I can remember I always felt like my brain was constantly thinking about new ideas, always desiring to be creative in some format or another.  Creativity though requires courage – and for years that was just something I didn’t allow myself.  Without even knowing it I had become chained by my own fears, held back by my lack of courage.  Things I would think of doing, would instantly be shot down by myself.   In the back of my head was the haunting thought, “what would people think?”

 

Wouldn’t it be great if I could say, I never think that anymore., but I do.  That I don’t really care what people think, that I don’t let it consume me.  It usually creeps up right before my best work comes out.  Right before I allow myself permission to just be me.

4fcea79892142cc1f76510d0a765acc2It is then I am forced to look at myself & truly accept the flaws and the cracks and remember that God loves this broken vessel that I am.  He is the glue that holds all these pieces together.  He is the reason that I have confidence.  He is greater than my fear, and He is the gentle push that reminds me that He created me to have freedom. Freedom to be who I am–at every second of every day.

 

 

 

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Our Little Porch

Let me introduce you to my favorite room in my house—- the porch.

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I figure its the right time to shine a light on her, because September is one of her favorite months.  She is a simple room, a little brisk air is when she breathes easiest.

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When my husband and I walked through our house before we put an offer on it, we didn’t think much of it.  I don’t even remember talking about it.  Little did we know that she would become one of the most used spaces in our home.

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Tons of conversations have been had here — roaring laughter that could be heard around the corner, goodbyes that have been hard to swallow.  Most importantly its a place where people feel comfortable to sit and linger.

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Its not because she’s perfectly decorated or has the best furniture.  Her old wicker seating and rough outside carpet has seen better days.  We love her despite her worn edges and painted screens.  We love this porch so much because it is our respite; our oasis, our space.

It is the place we go to recharge and reflect.  We go to there for solice.  When we shut her door – the noise of life becomes a little quieter and we feel like this 12×10 space gives us the space we need to feel alive again.

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In my mind, plays an ongoing movie reel of all of the people that have sat here and all of the conversations that has been had.

The magical thing about this porch is when you go out at dusk and get to witness the transformation that happens as dark approaches.  She begins to twinkle— I tend to think the porch prefers to be nocturnal.  Two simple strands of lights hide her imperfections and create an atmosphere for lingering.

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DSC_0619I want to make sure we always have a space, that reminds us that is it okay to linger.  It is ok to stay up way too late, to have the best conversation of the week, to forget about the busyness of life and embrace the place where time ceases to exist.

That place for me right now is this little porch.

 

Ten on Ten

As you might have read here, the hubby and I just celebrated ten years of marriage a couple of weeks ago!  Even though it has felt like forever, I can easily in a second transport back to that day ten years ago, where we were just two young kids joining our lives together.

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We came up with a cute idea a couple days ago, to think of ten things we wanted to do together this year to celebrate a decade of togetherness.  (Really its just a great reason to keep the celebration going!!)  Truthfully I didn’t want to just remember and thank God for these ten years just on the day of our anniversary.  I felt like we needed to have the year be one of reflecting and intentionally growing close together through some fun activities.

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We sat down the other night and came up with ten ideas to do this year to remember —to remember that day back on August 7h, 2004 and everything that has happened from then up until now.

1. Spend 48 hrs with our feet in the sand minus the kiddos
2. Find a cooking class to do together
3. Visit a local brewery
4.  Run a 5K
5.  Take a picture in front of all the places we have lived (which is 9 by the way!)
6.  Go to a paint studio together and do an art class
7.  Try and get tickets to see Wicked on broadway
8.  Go for a day hike (the hubs is pushing to make this an overnight hike- and I’m not quite sure this girl is up for that much adventure)
9.  Take the family to Central Park & have a picnic lunch
10. ??

We still have one more to think of, if anyone has any suggestions!!!  Its fun thinking and planning some dates nights for this year!  I will be super happy if we get even half of these done, but I am shooting for them all by next August!

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Hopefully I will post about our 10 on 10 adventures here, if not just for the accountability that we actually do them!!

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Floating in His Grace

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If you were to tell me that you are having a hard time right now, and life just seems to be caving in on you I’d encourage you to be still and remember that God is there and that He is in control.  If you were being hard on yourself, I would encourage you to give yourself grace.  When people hurt me or say something hurtful about my husband to me, I try really hard to give them grace.

Yet, after thirty one years I can’t figure out how to give myself grace.

Instead of giving myself grace I let my mind wander and create expectations that aren’t real.  I fabricate judgements that don’t exist and certainly do not define me.  Sometimes the feelings I feel, usually self imposed, weigh heavier on me than the truth.

When you don’t give yourself enough grace, you can allow your thoughts to weigh you down.  Weight of worry and overanalyzing can be suffocating.  It can cause you put up barriers.  It can paralyze you from fully living your own life.  It can stop you from pursuing the dream God has given you in your heart, because what if I fail?

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Daily God is teaching me that He doesn’t want us weighed down by worry or fear.  His desire is for us to be floating in grace—-His GRACE.  His weightless freeing grace which doesn’t just cover our shortcomings, but frees us from the self imposed barriers we put up.  Grace frees us from the pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect; to have it all together.  The pressure to please everyone and constantly comparing ourselves to all the “perfect” around us.

When I can’t remember the last time I made the kids beds, I need to give myself more grace.

When I put work out clothes on for the day, only to never fit in a workout, I need to give myself more grace.

When I have to cancel on friends because I just can’t do another thing for one more person, I need to give myself more grace.

If my life isn’t as pretty and perfect as it looks on instagram, I need to give myself more grace.

When I am feeling disapointed in how I responded or how I reacted, I need to give myself more grace.

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His weightless grace removes all the heaviness of the world around us and gives us the space to be filled with His love.  This is the love I want my kids to grow up longing for, the love I want to show my husband, and the love I want those around me to understand.

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