•    24 Days of Sprinkles – Day 22 – The Lanzi’s Little Free Library   

    “Take a bookLittle Free Library, return a book,” is a small portion of what the Little Free Library is all about. It’s fun, free, and downright adorable with its vintage, yet classically rugged appeal. Sharing books is a treasure that passes the test of time – reading never gets old and as the reader ages, her reading list evolves with her. The Lanzi family’s Little Free Library is perched atop a beautiful stone wall on the corner of Leith and St. Paul St in downtown Brighton.

    The Lanzi’s created their Little Free Library to promote literary, a sense of community and a shared passion for books in adults and children. The Little Free Library network is a non-profit organization that is expanding into Asia, Latin America, Africa, as well as cities large and small across the United States – one little free library at a time.

    Taking a book, and leaving a book is just the beginning. Sharing a love of reading and supporting local “habitats for humanities” is part of the bigger picture behind the Little Free Library concept. Today we see God’s spirit of giving and sharing very much alive on the stone wall that proudly holds the Lanzi’s Little Free Library.

    Today as the eastern morning sun greets the corner of Leith Street, we may be found happily borrowing a few more books, and returning those we have had the privilege of sharing in.

  •    24 Days of Sprinkles – Day 21 – Imagine That   

    Imagine That

    Imagination never gets old, it simply gets put to rest.

    Imagination never gets tired, it simply stops seeking.

    Imagination never runs late, or feels overwhelmed.

    Imagination is always alive, but not always invited to join in.

    Imagination is what creates magic out of dancing in a shower of rain with rubber boots and a pink plastic umbrella.

    Imagination is always with us – young or old, rich or poor.

    Our imagination is what gives joy to a game of chase in a maze of corn, or a story around a golden campfire with those we love.

    Our imagination is a treasure that is always ready to wrap us in her arms of wonder and delight, if only we will welcome her in.

  •    24 Days of Sprinkles – Day 20   

    Spoon and Fork Art

    One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

    I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes from finding something on the side of the road, or in a forgotten junk drawer, and creating a brand new piece of art, or quirky trinket. My children love this past time as well and are always eager to stop on a dime to peak at something of interest on garbage day, especially in our favorite subdivisions. We love garage sales, a stroll through the Salvation Army and never can pass up a visit to a great resale store. It’s fun to up-cycle, re-cyle, and re-purpose old things into new things, or things that are just new to us. It rarely costs much, and always promises a glimpse into our inner spirit, a place in our heart that is always alive within us, but is not always awake. Today we celebrate God’s love in our yard full of whimsy and adventure, and the little souls that take pride in our creativity together.

  •    24 Days of Sprinkles – Day 19 – Untethered Adventure   

    The fancyGabriella in the grass free feeling of running in a field of wild flowers and long grass gives a girl a feeling of freedom. There is something about the feeling of fresh air kissing our cheeks, Sandhill cranes in the distance, and the breeze on our back that gives us the exhilarating sense of untethered adventure. I grew up in an old stone house on the side of a dusty dirt road. I had a wonderful childhood filled with lots of time to play and dream. The summers felt long and even lazy as I played in my musty wooden dollhouse that sometimes was overcome by wasps and hornets. It was in that very humble fort that I learned I was not allergic to bees. It was in the long days of summer, that sometimes felt a little boring, that I learned to entertain myself. It was beside my two neighborhood friends that I learned we could ride our bikes to the “party store,” purchase as much licorice as we could afford, without adult supervision, laughing the entire time. It was in my unchartered and unstructured time as a child that my creativity was born, and also through the spirit of my very creative mom, who has always been my supporter.

    Today I see God’s love through the gift of free time and unscheduled life for children. I see it, but I certainly don’t always live it. It is my challenge to myself to share that with my children, and this is not easy. Giving ourselves and our families time to play and time to pretend is difficult – our world is not accommodating or even tolerant of this idea. Our world, if we allow it, keeps us unbelievably busy. I love time laughing with my children and with my husband, but I realize it comes with a price. If we want it, we must plan it, live it and commit to it, even when the computer is calling our name, the phone keeps ringing, and the texts keep coming.

    The pressure to be everything and to please everyone is a big one. I struggle with pressure to fit it all in, and feel the pressure to juggle far too much. Today I choose to step back for a moment, laugh from my belly, breathe in the spirit of God’s love in a field of green grass, and find delight in the wind, and time on a blanket with a family that is better than any gift I could have ever asked for.

  •    24 Days of Sprinkles – Day 18 – Dad   

    Genevieve Birth - July 22, 2013 005

    Today we see God in the gift of Dad.

    Today we give thanks for his hard working spirit and his ability to juggle the roles of daddy, husband, and chief sliver-remover so well.

    Today we smile and see God’s love in our lives and in his heart.

  •    24 Days of Sprinkles – Day 17 – Healing   

    Tears fell quickly from my eyes and into my lap. I was overcome with pure joy – a feeling of tranquility and a feeling of deep, peaceful gratitude. I felt as if the air in my lungs was a treasure and that my hands folded neatly around a cobalt blue vase of purple tulips were absolute gifts from God. As my husband and I drove home from the University of Michigan Hospital, where I had spent the last five days, my heart felt heavy with a sense of pure thanks-giving. I had everything in the world to be thankful for and I have never been so filled with such contentment and also a brand new sense of joy-filled responsibility.

    My life as a mom aU of M - 2014 Courtnd a woman had been trucking along, business-as-usual, until one morning I awoke with a large, swollen gland on the right side of my neck. My 3-year-old daughter had just had her tonsils and adenoids removed the day before and my focus was on helping her through her surgery and the stress that comes with coercing a preschooler to eat ice cream and popsicles, after they have just left the operating room. It was odd, other than feeling quite nervous about my daughter, and a little sleep-deprived, I felt completely fine. I had no sore throat, no fever, nothing aside from the mass on the side of my neck.

    The next week was a whirlwind as we focused on keeping our daughter hydrated and rested, and I wore a scarf wrapped around my neck to mask the swollen gland. I had visited several doctors – urgent care and my primary doctor who both said my swollen gland should get better soon on its own. Time started to pass very slowly, days dragged on as my worry intensified and I decided to visit my daughter’s ear nose and throat surgeon. As I waited and prayed for this issue to pass, my swollen gland was appearing larger and her doctor, who graciously treated me, decided we needed more extensive testing.

    I have never felt so close to God as I did during my 70 minute MRI. I underwent this test safely enclosed in a very dark, tight tube with the sounds of a jack hammer banging in my ears, despite the ear plugs. While I was filled with worry and fear, I was also filled with God’s spirit of peace. I laid in the tube, completely still, and the machine took image after image. Very quickly into the test, as I prayed and asked God for his help, I felt a sense of peace come over me that can only be from his love. My mind was filled with fear and ache, yet, God provided me with comfort and reassurance, even in the midst of my angst. My worry never ceased – I was filled to the brim with anxiety as a human, yet I knew God was with me, and that he accepted my fears, and loved me in spite of them.

    Just an hour after my MRI, I received the call to return to my doctor’s office. This was not the call I wanted to get, but with my mom by my side, and my baby in my arms, we waited together. My husband had gone to work because I was simply planning on another office visit, not an MRI and certainly not the beginning of the chapter that followed.

    My heart pounded as I waited for the doctor to open the cold wooden door, knowing whatever words were going to come next were not going to be easy to hear. He entered the room and quickly explained that I needed immediate treatment –  several days of I.V. antibiotics in a hospital setting, or possibly, this could be something more serious. There was a mass in my neck that was severely narrowing my jugular vein. I had no other symptoms. He asked me to select a hospital and he would notify the emergency department that I was on my way. I quickly went home, packed a bag, and said goodbye to my normal routine of breastfeeding, laundry, time with my kids and husband, and my job as a recruiter.

    A few hours later I was checked into the University of Michigan Hospital and was seen by some of the best doctors in the world. As I was admitted, the clerk noted the mass on my neck to be the size of a baseball. I had further tests and every blood culture they could run. Quickly into my stay I met a wonderful, and very young doctor with a Texas accent who told me she did not think this was an infection, but was something more serious, such as lymphoma, thyroid cancer, or some other “crazy cancer.” As I sat in the room alone with this woman, who was several years my junior, and the fluorescent lights illuminated the ache in my heart, I felt a stabbing pain in my gut, but also a reassurance that whatever this was, God was with me. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t begin to cry. This wonderfully kind doctor told me she would see me in the morning for a biopsy and we would come up with a plan.

    The next morning my husband was by my side as we met the same doctor and the attending physician from the Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Cancer department at the hospital. Both were wonderful, even offering to hold my hand during the biopsies. I felt so fortunate to have them as part of my team of physicians. I underwent 3 needle biopsies with a pathology team in the hallway, immediately ready to provide the diagnosis of my tests, robed in their pristine white coats. Each sample was taken and we waited alone in the clinic for the door to open and the news to poor from the mouth of these experts. Both doctors were more than kind to me and truly provided me with the most compassionate level of care that I have ever experienced in a clinical setting.

    All 3 needle biopsies came back non-diagnostic and the next step was a core biopsy, with results from this test taking 4-5 days to be available. It was suggested that we start immediate I.V. antibiotics while we wait for the biopsy results. The next 4 days I spent in room 4227 and this period felt less like days and more like weeks. I missed my children and husband deeply and my heart ached because their world had been turned upside down. They visited each day and those visits were wonderful, but also painful when the visit came to a close. I knew I was where I needed to be and that God was guiding my journey, yet this seemed almost surreal. How could this have all happened so suddenly?

    On the 4th day the sweet young doctor with a Texas accent returned to my room before she was leaving for the night. She had the news. My biopsy was not cancer. I could not begin to find the words to express my feelings at that moment – grateful, relieved, awestruck. I was given the best outcome possible. I was blessed beyond words and blessed beyond counting. The plan was to continue the I.V. antibiotics at home to complete a 21-day course, and that would be followed by a 30-day course of oral antibiotics.Dr Shuman - Court (2)

    The biopsy showed this mass was non-cancerous, and it was determined that it was some type of deep tissue infection. The specific type of infection is not known and is a bit of a mystery. My doctors believe it was likely caused by a strep bacteria that started in my throat a week or two prior to the swollen area developing. They also think that if left alone this could have developed into Lemierre’s desease. I was released from the hospital after 5 days and felt like a brand new being, fresh with a spirit of new life and more gratitude than ever in my heart. Before leaving I had a PICC line inserted that would allow my husband and I to administer the I.V. antibiotics every 8 hours at home.

    Today I see God’s healing arms wrapped around my life. I have completed my 7-week course of antibiotics and have made a complete recovery. I am thankful for the experience he guided me through and truly feel I was made better through it – not because of my own wisdom or strength, but because of his ability to teach me. God’s spirit led me through the fear and the pain and gave me people who held my hand and supported me every step of the way. I am blessed and know my life was made richer by this chapter. Today as the dishes pile up in my sink and my counters are cluttered, I give thanks for a family together to make such wonderful messes.

  •    24 Days of Sprinkles – Day 16 – Happy Birthday, Roy Boy!   

    August 2013 148 (3)The Thing Of It Is - Poppa


    Today is Roy’s birthday, and if he were still here on earth, he could have been found in his backyard tending to his red geraniums, telling stories from his seat on his old fashioned, two-person rocker, and of course, drinking a cold beer from his old plastic cup. He was a man of many words and one who never shied away from offering you his opinion. “The thing of it is,” always came before a story, a tall tale, or his thoughts on politics, the price of gas or how things were “at corporate.”

    He is a man who enjoyed grilling hot dogs at school on field day, offered a smile and a joke to his loyal friends at VG’s, and who loved spending time with his family.

    Today we are reminded of Roy’s spirit and spunk and this weekend we will sit around his old fashioned rocker, amidst his favorite flowers, and raise a glass of his favorite beer in his honor. Just because. Just for him.

     

    Happy birthday, Roy Boy – Happy birthday, Poppa!

  •    24 Days of Sprinkles – Day 15 – A Time to Keep   

    Today our daughter went from being known as a three-year-old, to a four-year-old. Only a day passed – one cycle of 24 hours, but she is less of a toddler and more of a preschooler. The world expects much more of her now, and so do we.

    As we age and progress through the journey called life, more is expected of us. We must be more responsible, more studious, more polite, and more successful. Life has a way of happening – days pass, weeks pass and suddenly we are no longer children, but are adults. We have mortgages to pay, lawns to mow, children to feed, and jobs to get to every morning. We have things to accomplish.

    We each have 24 hours in a day. We each have hopes and dreams. We each were once a three-year-old child who turned one day older and awoke as a four-year-old child. If we were fortunate, we enjoyed our childhood with an innocent wonder and a curiosity that lived behind the fresh lenses of protection and love from our parents.

    Today I see God in the miracle of the passage of time. The world keeps moving. Seasons continuously change and there is a time for each of us to shine and then a time to rest. There is a time for each of us to share, to grow, and to give. There is also a time when we may be in need.

    Today I am blessed to experience the shifting of life through the passing of time in my own life. I have learned to love the book, A Time to Keep, by Tasha Tudor, which is written for children, but with a very grown-up sense of nostalgia. In this book, complete with delicate watercolors and holiday memories, Tasha walks us through a year of adventures and customs to honor the passing of the seasons. As I read this book, alone or with my children, my breathing becomes slower and the desire to linger in the gift of the present, becomes larger. It is through savoring the gift of today, the present moment, that we can experience gratitude for what it is – not what it has been or what it could be.

    “To everything there is a season,

    and a time to every purpose under heaven:

    …a time to keep.”

    -Ecclesiastes

    A Time to Keep

  •    24 Days of Sprinkles – Day 14 – Poetry in our Garden   

    Robert Frost
    Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.

    Robert Frost
    The magic of poetry in our garden intertwined with plastic picnic tables, old shoes enjoying new life as planters, and red geraniums, gives our backyard the feeling of home to us. Our lawn is filled with ferns, toys, herbs and a blanket that is picnic-ready on the steps.
    As Robert Frost so eloquently stated, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Today I give thanks for the paths I have taken – many with great success and others not so much, but always with the opportunity to get up and start anew.  I give thanks for the paths I have worked hard for, and for those that have been freely given to me through grace.  I also see the beauty in being able to choose the less-traveled path when God calls us to do so. For me, that has made all the difference as well.
  •    24 Days of Sprinkles – Day 13 – Little Ladies who Love to Create   

    Mom Painting - 1st grade - 2013 Gab

    Big Clouds

    written by Gabriella, age 8

    Big clouds

    Windy night

    Tuck the windows tight

    Rain then falls

    Pitter-patter, pitter-patter

    Thunder

    Booms

    Lightening flashes

    on a misty, stormy night