In memoriam

The post I originally scheduled for today didn’t seem appropriate based on the last couple of days – so I have rescheduled it. It was supposed to be celebratory, a happy birthday to my best friend, my better half, my husband.

But today is a celebration of sorts – just not one we wanted. On Friday, my husband’s boss and dear friend passed away after lengthy illness. Today, they will celebrate the woman that Cindy was and the legacy she left.

I talked with a friend yesterday, who knew someone else who worked in Cindy’s nonprofit, who said, “We’ll never know how many thousands of lives she touched.” That is so true. Not only did she impact my family strongly, but she has served as a shining light for kids around our state and region who need a voice of advocacy.

She sought to encourage everyone. She was generous and patient. The Artist loved running in her office, because she knew Cindy always had some candy, and, more likely than not, a book, too. When I was wailing about having to potty train The Artist and how she just never seemed to get it, Cindy said, “I know lots of kids who can’t read when they’re 8, but I’ve never seen one who wasn’t potty trained.” #truth

Over the weekend, I’ve read so many touching tributes on Facebook to this wonderful woman. Someone said they always saw her smiling. Others talked about the jokes she made or her love for cooking. But in every mention I saw, it talked about her love for Jesus and how she lived her life in service for others.

This is the CEO of a large nonprofit company, and she was a servant to others. She loved Jesus, and she wanted others to see Him through her. And while this is our loss today, Cindy, as my husband oh-so-delicately put it, is letting Jesus know the correct way to smoke a pork butt. And we will feast in Heaven one day with her and all the others we have lost.

Cindy stood for hope in her life, and now her passing allows us to stand for hope for the future. Christ has conquered death and the grave. Our bodies on this earth are just shells holding an incomprehensible spirit that longs to be free and to worship Jesus.

I always think I sound silly when I say something like this – but I genuinely mean it. If you have questions about eternity or just want to talk to someone who has looked at hard questions herself and doesn’t shy away from those topics, please contact me. I want to tell you all Jesus has done for me, what I have seen and felt and personally experienced. I want to hear your story, too.  All of our stories deserve to be heard, so we all can learn and grow. My heart mourns for the loss of Cindy, but I am so thankful she knew Christ.

“If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” – Romans 14:8

Cindy D. Murray
#isms, Sweet girls

#isms, Volume 1

I love conversations with my kids. Every day is a new adventure. The Artist is 5, and The Engineer is 2, and they make me laugh all the time. Not only are they genuinely funny, but for little kids, they have quite a sassy streak, too.

Therefore, welcome to my first #isms post. I call it #isms because I refer to their quotes as #artistisms or #engineerisms. Enjoy!

Me, referring to a stupid driver in front of me: “What is that dinglehopper doing?”
The Artist: “Where’s a dinglehopper?”
Me: “In front of us.”
The Artist: “That’s not a dinglehopper. A dinglehopper is a fork.”
Me: “My mistake.”

The Artist, “reading” “Green Eggs and Ham” to The Engineer: “Did you hear her? She said ‘Bravo’ because I read to her.”
She did not.

Five minutes after The Engineer pooped and peed on the floor (joys of potty training)
The Artist: “How’s it going, Mama?”

The Engineer frequently tries to escape her car seat…pretty much every day…
The Engineer: “Mama, help.”
Me: “I’m not helping you escape your car seat.”
The Engineer: “Mama, I need help. Call Kyle.”

While playing in the pool…
The Artist: “Don’t fake cry, Mommy. I won’t be gone forever. I have my puddle jumper.”

The Artist: “MAMA! There’s a bug in the car, and it just went under your seat.”
Me (driving): “Are you serious? Are you telling me the truth?”
The Artist: “Yes. It’s a bug. A big bug.”
Me (looking for a place to pull over): “Is it the size of an ant?”
The Artist: “No, it’s a lot bigger.”
Me (basically speeding up and swerving and checking under my feet): “What did it look like?”
The Artist: “It was black and red striped.”
Me (full blown panic): “Are you sure?”
The Artist: “Well, no. I didn’t see its colors. But it’s a bug. A big bug.”
It was a fly.

(after checking the mail and finding an empty mailbox)
The Artist: “When are they going to put something in our mailbox? Like a hippopotamus?”

Me (after reading a book to The Artist about traits): “So where do you get your blue eyes from? Mommy or Daddy?”
The Artist: “Jesus.”



Food, Sweet girls

Favorite summer lunches

Last summer, I nearly lost my mind.

I loved being home with my girls. I did. But I HATED cooking meals three dadgum times a day. WHY ARE YOU SO HUNGRY? Can’t you just eat another banana??? Plus, at the time, The Engineer was a new 1 year old, and she couldn’t eat so well on her own anyway. But I didn’t know what to make those kids for lunch. We basically survived on sandwiches and chicken nuggets.

This summer, I swore to get my act together and only eat sandwiches and chicken nuggets once a month. Because, as they are not Chick-fil-A nuggets, I can only eat dino-shaped chicken nuggets so many times (Chick-fil-A nuggets, however, I could live on).

First, I got paper plates. LIFESAVER. Yeah, it’s not so good for the environment, but it’s good FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH. I love being able to basically scoop everything up with one hand and toss it all in the trash.

Secondly, I made a deal with myself that we would go out to eat for lunch once a week, at least by Wednesday. I wanted to say Friday, because what better way to celebrate making it to the end of the week than a greasy hamburger and fries (or Chick-fil-A??)? But that’s the thing – if it’s Friday, hooray!! I’ve made it! But Wednesday – that’s not a great day anyway. Why not make it a little better by going out to eat fast food?

Lastly, before summer started, I made a list of non-sandwich and non-chicken nugget lunch ideas. Now, let me remind you – I have a 5 year old and 2 year old, and if The Engineer even thinks we’re making food, she is underfoot, trying to climb on the stove, and crying for food. I promise, we do feed the kids. She just has zero patience. Z.E.R.O.

So my list – don’t judge it based on health. Judge it based on cheap, easy, and fast. I can whip any of these together quickly (and I mean in 5 min or less prep work – 20 minutes ain’t cutting it in our household), and the kids and I will all be satisfied with what’s on our plates – ahem, our paper plates.

Lunch ideas (main course)
* Quesadillas and salsa (customizable and easily cooked!)
* Mac and cheese and deli meat
* Frozen pizza
* Turkey and cheese crescent rolls (could also transform into tortilla roll ups)
* Taco salad (basic: meat, cheese, tomatoes, tortilla chips)
* Pigs in a blanket
* Hummus and pita bread (I LOVE hummus, because most MDO’s/daycares don’t allow peanut butter due to allergies, and this offers a lot of protein. Plus, The Engineer LOVES to dip things, so this gives her a healthy dip.)
* Rotisserie chicken and rice
* Frito pie (can of chili and fritos – what’s easier?)
* Ramen noodles (old college fav introduced early)
* Spaghetti-os
* Lunchables (What is it about lunchables that kids love?? The Artist always thinks she’s being spoiled when I pick one up for her)
* Hot pockets

I also have a list of sides that aren’t chips or French fries (we’re SO healthy over here…) because my kids want a solid three-course meal at nearly every sitting. Because, you know, spoiled.

* Fruit salad
* Salad with ranch (the only thing that makes my kids eat salads)
* Jell-O cups
* Box pasta salad
* Broccoli with cheese
* Avocado
* Pretzel sticks with peanut butter
* Corn on the cob
* Nuts (not that my kids eat nuts, but make yours do)
* Hash browns
* Canned veggies
* Apples with PB

I know summer is basically half over now, but maybe this will help you survive the rest of summer, too!


Prayer and action

Some days I feel utterly helpless.

I look at the pain and sorrow in this world, and I want to HELP. I want to stand up, take up arms, and FIGHT.

My little corner of the world has gotten so political, and it hurts my heart. Why can’t we look at things through the lens of what is kind, good, and right? I’m not even talking religious, because too many people (and I’m not just talking politicians) use religion for their own personal gain.

Let me be clear here before I move on: My Christianity is a relationship. My Christianity is not a list of dos and don’ts that I think that by following, I’ll receive an eternal reward. My Christianity is a relationship with Christ that brings me joy and peace. Christ has offered me eternity in heaven, and I have accepted that free gift that I am unworthy to take. It is a lifelong study, reading His word, reading commentaries, having hearty discussions with friends. It involves prayer and contemplation and application. It involves love.

Prayer changes hearts and minds. I firmly believe that. I have personally experienced that over the years. When I looked back at my June prayer guide and saw all the answered prayers God gave me, I was overly grateful. I had so many things to be thankful for, so many prayers that had been physically answered. Prayer has changed me and continues to change me. I pray for my family, for my friends, for various world issues that clutch my heart.

And sometimes – that is all I can do.

I cannot heal sick babies, nor can I change the minds of those heading down destructive paths. I cannot end war, and I cannot turn off social media, though some days I so want to do so.

But I can bring food to people. I can offer up my home as a haven. I can send gifts and aid to those in war-torn areas. I can choose what I post online.

I can choose what my family does and how my family reacts to heartbreaking situations. I pray – may we always be in continual prayer – but most of the time, God offers us opportunities to act as well.

I can raise up little girls who gracefully question everything, who want to ask hard questions because they want to learn – not because they want to buck the system, but because – why do we even have a system? Why do we follow this tradition? Who is it hurting and who is it helping? What can we do to be world changers?

I often fear that we are too cozy in our little place, with a nice house, cars with A/C, with Netflix on demand, with too much food in our fridge. We think we deserve these things because we worked hard and because we earned them – but we didn’t. Lots of people work harder and have much less.

For those of us who have been blessed with much, we can do much. We can visit those who are sick and in prison. We can send gifts to children separated from their parents. We can volunteer. We can slowly rearrange our lives so we don’t focus so much on us but on others – and by doing so, we can raise up a generation that will not be focused on how much money is in their bank accounts, but how many people they serve daily.

It’s hard – I know it’s hard. I am tired at the end of the day, when the kids go to bed. I want them to have an epic childhood, full of museums and zoos and water parks and snow cones. But it’s more important for them to understand the meaning of servanthood and kindness. And that’s something I need to remember.

After all, if I want to see the world change, I have to start with my own little corner.


Parenting, Sweet girls

It gets better

I remember the nights when I would pace our bedroom, back and forth, back and forth, bouncing The Engineer in my arms. For hours. HOURS. I did it throughout the day, too, but it was hardest between that 8-10 p.m. hours. Kyle and I would take 10-minute rotations.

I remember thinking how much I needed her to be on a solid sleep schedule but letting her sleep on in the mornings because I just needed a little extra time to myself. To pray. To read. To drink coffee. To just hear silence and not have to be in charge for a moment.

I remember clinging to The Artist, bawling my eyes out before she was even a month old, because now I was always, always responsible for this human being. There would never come a time when I didn’t worry about this person. And I couldn’t protect her from the world, and I cried, because I knew that the world is not always a great place.

I remember when The Artist was placed in NICU and I wondered what I did wrong. Did I run too much? Did I eat raw sushi? What had I done that caused her to go in NICU? When The Engineer was born, I was terrified she would be placed in NICU, too. But we had other issues with her, later on. I remember taking my five-week-old baby to the ER in the middle of a night storm, because she was running more than 100.4-degree fever. It was the first time I had ever been in our ER because of my immediate family. I looked down at my daughter, sleeping in her car seat, and I wondered, “How did we get here?”

As a parent, we have terrifying, fearful moments. And we have hard moments, when we are tired, cranky, hungry. No one is at her best then.

I saw a new mom at our city’s summer festival last month, and I could tell she was a new mom. I’m not sure how we, as moms, recognize when one of our kind has just one newborn, but we know. This girl was young, probably 18-22, and the baby was so small, probably not even two months old. And she had that anxious, pained look on her face of a mom who is worried about too much at once.

“Is this your first?” I asked, my two own kids sitting politely (for once) in the stroller eating ice cream.

She nodded.

I smiled. “Are you getting any sleep?”

“A little,” she said. “It’s hard because my husband works off.”

God bless her. Parenting is hard enough with two parents who work normal hours. Those of you who are single parents or whose spouse works odd hours or away from home – that can make it harder.

“It gets better,” I said, nodding to The Engineer and The Artist. Again, they were being quite well behaved, and I wanted her to know – it does get better.

Because even in trials, there is beauty.

I remember when The Engineer busted her head open at the library (only my daughter could do that), and we scrambled to the doctor’s office, because the injury was not swelling out. I was – again – crying, The Engineer was screaming, and The Artist was leaning over, holding her sister’s hand, and singing, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Jesus Loves You” to her.

I remember when my dad passed away, and I was distraught. The Artist came up to me, patted my shoulder, and said, “It’s okay, Mama. I’m happy.” I laughed because I couldn’t help myself. She was 4 at the time.

I remember those long, oh, so long, nights feeding The Engineer in her room. I remember being so tired, but looking at her – and even looking at The Artist when I fed her during the 1 a.m. feedings – that made it all worthwhile. Holding those sweet baby hands. Cuddling the baby close. Kissing the baby hairs on top of their heads.

I remember drinking my coffee – after my children awoke. They are still so curious about my coffee because I won’t let them drink it. The Engineer pretends to lap it like a dog. The Artist, for the longest time, didn’t know what a coffee cup was. When someone showed her a picture of one, she said, “Coffee.” Because coffee went in there, and she just assumed the entire thing was coffee.

They are funny, vivacious, exhausting, sassy, and mine. They belong to me and Kyle, and every day is a new adventure.

It may be hard now, Mama. Or you may be in a stage where things are settling down for a spell. Either way, as my kids have just gotten older, I have discovered something oh so wonderful: it just keeps getting better.