What a week!  Sometimes I get to Saturday and think “Can I just push pause for a couple of days?”   This week I was reminded of how precious life is and why I need to take the time to celebrate each day of my life as a gift from God.      

 I began the week celebrating love and life.  First I hosted a Valentine’s  tea party for my daughter and three of her friends. Then my parent’s came for a visit, and we ventured to Incredible Pizza to celebrate my son’s seventh birthday a little early.      

  But by the end of the week I was pondering the reality of death and was finding it more difficult to celebrate after two heavy-hearted conversations. One with my BFF since kindergarten, whose mother is battling breast cancer.  And the other with my sweet sister-in-law who is battling fear in her last trimester of her pregnancy.  Just 18 months ago, my brother and his wife lost their daughter (my sweet niece Daisy) only weeks before we were hoping to welcome her into the world and into the crazy Higle family!      

 Don’t take this wrong, but I just have to be honest on this dreary rainy day.  .  . sometimes life here on earth stinks.  As I look at the rain outside the window, it can be difficult to trust that there will be sunshine after the rain.  I often have a difficult time finding the silver lining on the clouds.    

Some people like to give the impression that when you come to know Jesus, you will live a life  only filled with joy and blessing.  That is a lie.  Jesus himself said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33, NIV) I had hoped this would be a light-hearted and fun-filled post, but I promised to keep it honest.  And honestly, I have a heavy heart today.  Today I have so much to celebrate in life, but there is still so much that causes my heart pain.  Today has been a day I have been trying to ‘take heart’ like Jesus told me to do in that verse.     

 As I told my BFF, what in the world would I do without Jesus?  What in the world would I do without friends who I can Facebook to ask for prayer when I awake at 4:30 am with tears running down my face because my heart is so heavy for those I love?       

 My prayer for every person who is reading this is that you too will find the sunshine in the rain.  That tears will only be for a moment.  And that above all else you can find encouragement as I have in the Word of God.  I know that Jesus has overcome the world and that,  as I always do, I will ‘take heart,’ in knowing that promise.     

 Just today I had a dear friend send me this verse and she told me she was praying this verse for my family as we await the birth of our new family member….”May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:15      

 I told you I have some incredible friends didn’t I????  Thanks Mom for praying friends into my life who help me press on through the tough days and encourage me to focus my mind on things above.  “Take heart!”  That’s what this ponytail must do to face another week of life’s troubles here on earth.      

 Enough of that serious stuff…here’s some pictures to make you smile (remember you can laugh at me…I can take it!!!) On days my heart hurts, I love to look at pictures of the blessings and joys in my life…here are some of my blessings and joys this week!     

no romantic date for Valentine's Day...but I think that this dinner was much more fun!


no steak or fancy veggies for this ponytail princess on Valentine's Day...instead I enjoyed a kid picked menu of Aunt Monta's Oat & Nut Pancakes with bananas, grapes, and oranges on the side!


my Valentine date...notice that somehow my entryway is once again impassable!


Best double date ever!


Take a guess...what do you think my kids liked most about the gifts they got in the mail from Joe's mom.... (I really wanted to cut myself out of this pic but I thought you might enjoy seeing my fav orange toed socks!)


note to self, "when I am a grandmother, all I need to send in the mail is a box filled with peanuts...no gift required for them to love it!" (my closest friends know me well enough to know I will likely do it...why spend all that money on a gift???)


Valentine tea party for my daughter and some of her friends..on Feb. 15th....better late than never!


failure...brand new bottle of vanilla spilled while making a heart pan cookie at the tea party


failure..using raspberry lemonade in a cracked teapot on a white table cloth!


success..clearance Valentine chocolate candy chopped for the cookie...another great reason to procrastinate...cheap candy!


Our beloved preschool (aka Target starbucks)


Local Starbuck's baristas remember my cup...not me. so what if the handle broke off and it's older than my son! (best part...my fav Starbucks fills it up for 55 cents...do you think they just feel sorry for me?)


my mother the gaming addict...good thing we don't let her drink or gamble...


My dad who can't even let young boys beat him in a race...


Of course they got the 1st place ribbon!