Mother’s Day has come and gone. I’ve been trying to write a post for the past week, and it’s finally happening… after the day is over. :) That’s okay. There were other things more important than blogging.

Reflecting this year on Mother’s Day…it’s a day of much love and warmth for many people, and also of much sadness for others. There is celebration of what is, and of good times past. Then I think of women who long to be mothers, and are not. Of children who have lost mothers to death. Of sons and daughters who did not have a loving mother. Of mothers who did not want to become mothers, and how unprepared and inadequate they feel for their role.

When we were driving home from church we passed a small cemetery, with several people scattered around, standing before gravestones. This is a day of tears.

This is a bittersweet day for many people.

[a little note from Zoe, helped by a cousin, and fresh flowers picked on a walk together]

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This was my 4th year of being a mother (including the first year when Zoe was still en utero). The morning of Mother’s Day this year was an early one, because of us hosting for lunch, but I had a few moments of quietness before the busy started.

These four years have flown. It seems not long ago that I held new-born Zoe in my arms, after 9 months of carrying her with anticipation and trepidation, a few seconds after her birth, after THE most painful experience I ever encountered in my life… and I fell in LOVE. Instantly.

[Here I go down Memory Lane… Warning: I have baby fever. :) Cute baby picture overload!!]
[Zoe at 10 days old]

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[Zoe at 4 months]

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[Zoe’, at approximately one year]

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[eighteen months]

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[almost two]

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[age two]

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Zoe & Clarita 4

[age three]

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[Zoe today]

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baby blues

[Olivia, soon after birth]

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[two weeks old]

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[fiesty from the start :) ]

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[four months]

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[six months]

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February 2010 140

[eleven months]

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[one year]

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Olivia - age 1, edit 2

July, 2010 402

[eighteen months]

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[Olivia today]

April, 2011 196

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[from long ago]

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What a privilege these four years have been. Incredibly life-altering, forever, because a mother is something I’ll always be.

It’s not just that my external circumstances and duties have changed, that my journals get scribbled in by curious little onlookers who want to write like mommy, that my days now revolve around caring for the needs of miniature little people, and scrubbing pencil marks off doors [like today].

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But WHO I AM has been greatly impacted, bettered, softened, and sharpened. Truly, my children are changing ME and making ME grow up! I’d say in my later teens years and early twenties I thought of myself as a fairly unselfish, patient person (cough). Not perfect, but definitely with strengths in those two areas (cough). Now, four years into mothering, I think I must be one of the most impatient, selfish people around! Children show up the yet-to-be-redeemed areas of my life like a screaming fire engine!

I’ve been thinking so much of a lovely luncheon I was invited to in Pennsylvania by sweet Janelle, hosted by Jeane’. It was so lovely to see Rachel there too! Fan Smucker, a mother of four, who has “gone before us” on this mothering journey, spoke to the 11 women present about being a wife and mother. This was pampering and inspiration that spoke to me in the very depths of my soul! I have rarely had the opportunity to be in the presence of an oldER (not to be confused with ‘old’!) woman in person who is encouraging and inspiring younger women. Online, yes, and that is a huge encouragement as well. But there is something about being in the presence of a godly older woman, and in the presence of other young mothers, who are nothing but life-giving!

Since then I’ve been thinking about Unsung Heroes, my thinking stimulated largely by the luncheon I mentioned above.

The morning spent at the ladies luncheon felt like a Red Letter Day in my career as a mother. Truly, it was inspiring and encouraging beyond what I can even express! There was something that clicked, something I understood about mothering and servanthood like I never have before. I hope I keep having revealing moments like these!

This is an excerpt from my journal the morning after:

“My heart cannot stop glowing from the amazing time I was blessed with yesterday morning! Rarely, if ever, have I been in the presence of so many passionate, devoted wives and mothers. I cam away feeling so inspired and empowered, having so much truth spoken into my heart…”

Twelve women, all mothers. Leaving behind almost forty children. But all women that are passionate about being mothers, that love their role as a wife and mother, that embrace their husbands and children, that view their roles as noble and honorable and worthy. That are not ashamed or embarrassed to be “just a stay-at-home-mom”, but rather thrive and flourish in that role. Beautiful women, fashionable, attractive, but with an inner glow that radiated from their faces. Women that first of all loved their Jesus.

[a Mother’s Day lunch Ben and I prepared for his family on Sunday]

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[the red flowers were the seats for the mothers]

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[decor: old records as chargers, burlap runner, pint-sized jars as glasses [because I didn’t have enough normal drinking glasses], and real live magnolias!

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[fresh squeezed strawberry lemonade]

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I suppose I hadn’t realized how inundated I’ve been with negative connotations about mothering. From comments at the grocery store about how busy I must be and how stressful it is to have children to all the undercurrents of feminism and careers and how woman needs to “find herself.”.. These are everywhere, and even in Christian circles mothering is often looked upon as something not as good as _______ [fill in the blank].

Fan Smucker, the speaker (which isn’t an exact term, because it felt more like huge doses of encouragement rather than formal speaking), gave one quote that grabbed me, and has had me thinking on it ever since…

MOTHERHOOD
is a noble calling,
and noble callings always take sacrifice.
But that’s what makes a
HERO!”

[fan smucker]

On the 12-hour trip back to the south I was driving for a few brief moments while Ben and the girls were sleeping.
(We left at 3am, lest I portray some unrealistic picture of my two daughters angelically sleeping the entire trip! Even leaving at that hour doesn’t usually give us normal sleeping time.)

And I was thinking about the Hero quote. Thinking about how different my idea is from God’s idea of a hero

Mine has normally been huge, world-changers – Hudson Taylor, Mother Theresa, Moses, Daniel, David, Ruth, Esther… Amazing people, with amazing roles. And quite frankly, I would have loved a large role to fill too.

[Ben’s Mother’s Day gift to me was several hours at the beach on Saturday as a family! Does he have good taste or what!?]

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[my only picture from the weekend with me and my girls. ’tis very sad. the day was lovely, but too busy for pictures!]

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But I’ve really been rethinking my former ideal of a hero. And I’m beginning to think now that a hero is not necessarily one who plays the Main Role in the world, or even one who is noticed by many people.

Rather, I think a real Hero is one who surrenders unconditionally to the call of God in salvation and in all of life after that, and then lives faithfully and unselfishly in whatever role God has called them to play. Some people will be called to more recognizable places; others will not.

But recognition is not what makes a Hero!

I think of the words ‘faithfully’ and ‘unselfishly’, because for so many of us our roles are not glamorous. Our days consist of much of the same thing, day after day. But if God calls us to it, then that makes it worthy, valuable. So often ambition to be a hero is marked by selfish motives – to be someone who is looked up to and admired, and spoken of as someone who is amazing.

I had wanted to be single for a long time so I could accomplish a lot of great things for God. Big things! Admirable things! And things that some people are called to.

But I was not called to that. I was called to be a wife at age 22 and a mother at 24, and to live my life in poured-out service for my family, primarily though not exclusively. This is something that I’ve found much fulfillment in, but honestly, I still need to fight the voices that argue that careers make a woman more well-rounded, and what about taking time for yourself?!, and the negative connotations about being “just” a stay-at-home mom (just try it for a day and see if you’ll say “just”. I’ve had grown men tell me a full-time job was MUCH easier than taking care of a child for a day!).

Until recently, I hadn’t realized how much negative I’ve heard about children. Could someone please stop me at the grocery store and say how wonderful it is to see two beautiful girls with their mom, instead of the “sure must keep you busy!” comments? ‘Children’ and ‘stressful’ are often used in the same sentence to describe each other. A mother who chooses to stay at home often feels like she has to apologize for not having a “real job.”

Sitting around the beautifully adorned brunch table at Jeane’s home that Friday morning, I felt like I was in the presence of amazing, UNSUNG heroes. Incredible women, all mothers, but more importantly, all life-givers. There is a difference.

There were former musicians, actresses, women involved in politics, teachers.
It was an amazing, dazzling array of talent and giftedness.

[my “flowers” – I tell Ben I’d rather have a Starbucks drink than a bouquet, and he believes me! This makes me very happy. :) ]

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And the incredible thing was these women whole-heartedly and open-heartedly received their husband and children into their lives. They glowed when they spoke of their husbands and families (no mean husband jokes here!), and they adored being a mother. They did not feel inferior about being “just” a mom of 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 children – rather, they flourished in their roles. And I thought to myself how incredibly blessed their families were, to have women in their homes who were so intelligent,so gifted, and so unselfish and loving.

I see this same spirit in the lives of several single women I know; Dani, Krissy, and Beth. This life-giving spirit. Their life focus is not in careers or money, although one in an incredibly brilliant college student, another a web designer, and the third held a good job as well. But they are living their lives as poured out for Jesus by pouring them out for children that no one else takes the time for. They live so unselfishly, so faithfully in the roles God has called them to.

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I think of my mother, who is a mother of six children, who has her own home business, who has a beautiful gardens and grounds, who taught school for more than 20 years in both private and home school settings. She has lived her life poured out for the lives of her husband and children. She is a team player with her husband, and a cheerleader for her children. While I was home for almost 3 weeks we were working together cleaning one day, and she sort of apologized that her walls weren’t always clean and spotless like some people’s walls are. I was flabbergasted that she even thought of such a thing, and responded that as kids we didn’t think about whether the house won Best Housekeeping awards or not, but we knew Mom’s efforts were about raising and loving a family, and we knew that and appreciated that so much. Unsung? Perhaps. But a True Hero.

I think of the Children of Israel who were slaves in Egypt for over 400 years. I’m sure thousands of men would have wanted to be a Moses, and thousands of women would’ve wanted to be his cheering sister, and lead all the slaves to freedom. How would you like it if your life plan included being born a slave, living a slave, and dying a slave? That’s anguish. That’s not easy. But those slaves, during that period of time, were fulfilling God’s will. (these thoughts come from “The Cat & Dog Theology” seminar). H.a.r.d. stuff.

What if fulfilling God’s will means being in an accident so an unbeliever finally surrenders? Or what if God’s will for you means losing your mother at age ten, or your daughter at age two? [disclaimer: I’m not wanting to start an argument about what God wills and what God allows; please follow through with me here.] What if it means packing up your family and moving to the other side of the world (or what feels like the other side of the world), or staying where you’ve always been when you’ve always desperately wanted to do something big? Or having ten children or no children?

How conditional is my surrender? How UNconditional is my surrender? I think a Hero can have so many faces. What makes a Hero in one person will not the same in another person. A true Hero is fully surrendered to God, and to the glory of God, even when the purposes are not fully discloses and understood. It’s not about us; it’s about GOD.

I don’t think a Hero is about doing some big thing, or even about doing the thing you always thought you’d have to do to succeed in life. I think a Hero is about faithfulness, whether we are called to Asia or Canada or a little town in the United States. It’s not about our marital status and how many children we do or do not have ~ it’s about being faithful and poured out for the lives of other people, no matter where God has placed us.

It’s about a heart of surrender to the Lord, a heart that is willing to sacrifice anything – dreams, goals, ideals, plans – in order to follow what is is HE is asking of us.

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So really, what makes a Hero is not so much what a person does (which makes me breathe a sigh of relief!), but who a person is, inside, in their heart of hearts, even when no one sees (and that makes me stagger at the weight and the freedom of that!). And the question I feel God asking my heart is, “Are you willing to be an Unsung Hero? Unsung, but nonetheless a Hero?”

A true Hero is one who lives a life os complete abandonment to the Lord; regardless of role differences, regardless of public or private or no recognition. A Hero may be sung or unsung, but the unsung are no less of a Hero than the sung. Perhaps they are even more of a Hero, because it’s harder to be unsung.

Today, the challenge of God to my heart is to be one who is fully surrendered, who is consumed with the glory of Jesus, and not the status of my own life… And not just be surrendered, but to embrace the life that He has called me to…

UNSUNG HEROES.

I am honored to be one of the many.
And yes, there are many sung and unsung heroes that I am so privileged to journey with in life! If I’d name names the list would be endless! Thank you, beautiful women.

~clarita

 

29 thoughts on “Unsung Heroes

  1. grace_to_be

    where to begin?? so i’ll start with the one word resonating over and over in my heart..
    beautiful.beautiful.beautiful.
    and OHMYWORD!! if we all didn’t have baby fever before now, we do now! and i just had one. ;)
    your littles are too precious and you can SEE their sweetness through the pics~
    sweetness i know comes from their equally so mama!

    the luncheon sounds wonderful..
    i would have loved to be sitting right there with you listening, learning from those women.
    so grateful for those God brings across our path to do life with us and help us through~

    your mother’s day table is amazing!
    and great thoughts at the end..
    “recognition is not what makes a Hero!”
    how true that God’s economy runs differently than ours in what He deems valuable.
    thanks for this encouragement here that our roles, though often unnoticed, are critical and eternal!
    it’s not about us. it’s about Him. amen!

    just wish i could sit down and share one of those tall “flowers” with you and talk over all this some more.. :)

    love~

  2. JakeandJanelle

    I’m sitting here, it’s late, but I had a carmael frap at 4pm to get me through the dinner prep and serving time!  Such a tired Monday!  The dinner dishes are still in the sink, (turning to crust no doubt) and I’m enjoying some “me” time.  Thank you for sharing so beautifully about that day we had together.  It was SUCH A GIFT.  A very real and meaningful gift.  I love you dearly Clarita, despite our distance and time spent apart.  You feel a kindred soul to me. 

    You are lovely in so many ways.

    xoxo.

  3. down_onthefarm

     loved all the pics of your darling little girls! i didn’t know ya back then so it was a great little catch up for me.
    and this sentence, “Children show up the yet-to-be-redeemed areas of my life like a screaming fire engine!”
    hand raised here. that would be my kids and me. so…

    thanks for a fresh breeze of encouragement to EmBracE our individual calling. here’s to singing for the unsung…

  4. TheAmisFamily

    Now that I have dried my tears—there are many days when I’m home that I prefer to be “at work” because it’s not as exhausting as keeping up with Bugga – but – there isn’t a morning that goes by that I don’t pray for the opportunity to “just be a mom”. Being home on spring break showed me my purpose – it was amazing how different things were around the house, in our relationship & in our family. I am hoping summer will be the same way. I cry every Tuesday morning because Riley is asleep when I leave and will probably be asleep when I come home – a whole day I’ve missed. Just smile at all the “negative nannies” and say, “I’m sorry you feel that way” – it takes a stronger woman to stay at home, take care of and rear children in the way of the Lord, and love and support your husband and family the way you do. Plus, if you had a “real job” (in the lightest sense of the word), you wouldn’t be able to take off and go to PA for 3 weeks or Colorado for 10 and stay together as a family. I think it’s amazing…and think of the experiences you are providing for the girls!

    It’s crazy to think it’s been almost a year since I met you! I’m thankful for your inspiration, friendship and generosity. I love looking across the “meadow” to see the glow of lights and to see what activities y’all are up to – if it’s a hammock, a clothes line, painting a picket fence, making mud pies, cleaning cars…or hosting a mother’s day luncheon (which looked fabulous)…God blessed us when y’all moved in.

    It’s getting late – and tomorrow’s my long day. Hope we can get together soon. Much Love & Many Blessings ~Lauren

  5. im_so_blessed

    Clarita, i wanted you to know your beautifully written words ministered to my heart and spirit so deeply this morning- i needed that!. It brought tears to my eyes, and such encouragement to my heart! God bless your day today…

  6. rachi882

    Thank you for sharing this. I NEEDED to hear it! The pictures are so precious. I especially love that last one of Zoe holding the magnolia! You have encouraged me to keep loving and caring for my children.

  7. appalolly

    Your heart and spirit coming through in this post is just beautiful. I think of YOU as one of those Mothers…one who enjoys her calling and even though it is tough at times, is embracing it for all it is worth.

    You encourage me in so many ways.

    I had to think about what you wrote about all of the negative connotations in our culture in regards to staying at home and in regards to children in general. You are so right.  You hear it all the time. And I am ashamed to say that I have contributed to that negative vibe myself sometimes.

    I think this is part of what I have struggled with…Was I called to be a Mom or did I run ahead of God because I WANTED to be a Mom? I know that either way, now I am a Mom, so I am called to it, but I sometimes second guess the fact that I am even here. You seem so sure that you were CALLED to be a Mom at age 22.

    Beautiful, beautiful pictures of you and your girls. Your Mother’s Day sounds lovely.  And…loved your thoughts about unsung hereos.  The truth in what you wrote struck me.  Surrender, surrender, surrender. That’s really what its all about.

  8. FOREVERLANE

    Loved looking back through the photo archives with you! Those baby girls are saweeet as honey!! I like how you put your thoughts into words for the rest of us to read and enjoy and ponder too. Blessings on your life today! (Oh, and I love your creativity with the records & pint jars on the dinner table.)

  9. deansgal

    What beautiful thoughts on motherhood. Your lady’s luncheon/speaker sounds like a breath of fresh air to me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on total surrender, embracing motherhood, sacrifice – all things I’ve been thinking so much about and struggling with lately. Blessings to you today. -Kendra

  10. lifeisadance

    @appalolly – I’m not sure if I felt “called” to be a mom so much as looking at it as God’s Sovereignty, knowing He’s the one that opened my womb, the ability to bring a child into the world. Not so much like, “THIS is the will of God for me” as much as wanting to embrace the different places I find myself in life. Does that make sense?

  11. lifeisadance

    @deansgal – I’m right there in the struggle too! This was NOT written from a place of perfection!! :) We are not alone in this journey, and I’m so thankful for encouraging people who have spoken so powerfully into my life! Blessings on you as well!

  12. grandpas_gurl

    Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous….girlies, house, thoughts, and did i mention how stunning YOU always are??!!!! ;O) Hardly have time to be online but i drink in the beauty of your posts when i can!!

  13. druett

    This was so beautifully written and I LOVED every word…I love the part about being conditional, such a challenge to be a servant an be poured out for God no matter where we are or what our circumstances are!! Our pastor shared on Sunday that we very well might be raising a missionary, a minister, on an on the list could go, I so want to grab tight to that vision, that everything I invest in my children has an eternal effect, blows my mind, It IS a tremendous blessing!

  14. mytoesareblue

    oh my goodness, Clarita. there is SO much goodness in this that i’m not sure I can even describe what hooked my heart. first of all your girls are gorgeous…wow, it was soo beautiful to see their growth ;)

    i remember reading about one of the other women who went to this gathering of women and how blessed she was as well. i love the idea of what a hero is that you’ve been challenged by …and you asked some really challenging questions that I need to think on. thank you so much.

    i loved your ideas for the table…especially for the table settings. little things that just make it so special ;) i also like the time at the beach…such a wonderful time I’m sure.

  15. Elizabethmarie_1

    Wow.  Clarita, that is one of THE best blog post I have ever read!  It was BEAUTIFUL!
    I don’t even know where to start……

    I agree with Amber….I think we all have baby fever now. =)
    You are such a gorgeous Mommy, and your girls are following in your footsteps!
     
    You are a girl after my own heart…Starbucks AND the beach! Perfect day!
    What a husand you have.
    You brunch was so lovely, your table was set beautifully.  I’m sure his family appreciated it!

    All that you wrote was so touching. So true.  I just enjoyed every word. You are such a wise young Mom!
    Your girls and your husband are Blessed to have you around. You have been a great encouragement to me! Thank you. =)

    Hope you are having a good week.

  16. redladybug18

    beautiful post girl! You mothers out there really are hero’s in my eye. You just rock the world in a different way then most…those who rock the cradle rule the world. :) oh and the pictures of the girls are so cute. such beautiful shots!

  17. smilesbymiles

    I read this slowly, trying to take it all into my heart. Wishing it were all true inside of me instead of something I am constantly trying to become. I love being a mom. I adore my boys. But inside there are still days when I fight that war so hard … the war of selfishness that so. badly. misses my job. I loved it long before I knew I’d have two boys. I miss seeing things happen. I struggle discouragement when I get up and do the same thing all over again the next day. Explain the same concepts. Read the same stories. Settle the same fights. Clean up the similar food mess. And it feels as though all I do is spin my tires and at the end of the day I wonder if I really accomplished anything at all in the bigger picture of life? I know all the right answers. And sometimes, I feel it. Like last night when I ran into an old friend from my college English class. She works at Ann Taylor (and looks it) and teaches barn dancing. And in my still-smell-like-my-morning-workout with two grungy boys who were supposed to have gotten picked up by their dad who is late state, I did not envy her one iota. Because I was in love with my life with the boys. Yet the day before I’d been pacing the kitchen with that familiar restlessness, wishing that I would really feel the meaning in what I was doing. I think I will fight this battle forever.

    I loved your sentence about the screaming fire engine! :D So, so true!

  18. Anonymous

    I just finished journaling about being a mom to my two young boys. Reading this post clarified and confirmed what I’ve been wrestling with. You are right, people have so many negative words for mothers that act as a curse if they aren’t rejected! The other day as I walked with my sons a stranger saw me coming and said loudly, “What a nice family!” Thanks to the power of his blessing, I reveled in my boys and position as a SAHM for the rest of the day.

  19. SherriMonCheri

    Wow.  These words have blessed me today!  Thank-you!  You have been such an encouragement to me through your devotion to your family and to God…May He contine to bless you as you serve Him!

  20. lifeisadance

    @smilesbymiles – Yes, I have days like that too. I DO. And I think it will be a battle for me for always as well. This was written on a day when I was not in the heat of the battle :) and I felt truth so clearly in my heart (not just my head). Not everyday is like that. But I want to be reminded of Truth just the same… Thanks for your honesty, I really like that about you!

  21. dannysgal05

    aww..i miss you. this post was just what i needed. . with just moving and trying to get settled in again. There’s adjustments for all of us and its easy for me to get frustrated rite now with my boys cause i’m trying to get the house in shape yet they need my time and attention too!  I’ve felt the selfish side of my kickin in so much rite now….thank you thank you for the encouragement! luv ya

  22. deansgal

    me again. question for ya. i’ve had many thoughts about getting a lady’s luncheon together for my friends and hearing about yours made me think even harder. do you know if your speaker accepts other speaking engagements? maybe you all knew her well??? if you have any info. about her i’d love to have it….my email is dreambig@dejazzd.com thanks so much.

  23. lifeisadance

    @deansgal – Hi! Your ladies’ luncheon idea sounds wonderful!! You should do it! And I’m pretty sure that Fan Smucker accepts speaking engagements! I linked to her blog up above, so you could contact her through a comment – I don’t have any other information (phone number, etc) other than her blog. But checking that out will help you learn to “know” her a bit more too. She’s actually my mom’s first cousin, so I know her a bit through that, but my mom has over a hundred first cousins :) so I don’t know her extended family well. But I have high respect for her and her family! Would love to hear if you engage her!

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