Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Shameless plug...

Here is a link to the book my story is in on Amazon.com.

My story is entitled Love Lessons (page 116). There is a blog post here from back in May called 'Nine Years Ago Today...' that includes some back story about my dad and I. On Veterans Day he is very much on my mind...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Me...in print!!!

I was so incredibly thrilled the other day when a package arrived for me and it was a copy of a book to be released in November that includes a story written by me!!! How exciting!!!!!
The story I wrote is very close to my heart and I feel so honored that the publishers chose to include it. Writing is such a passion for me, and is an amazing creative outlet. I have a couple of friends who are writers also, and I am in eager anticipation of their work being published as well. One online friend, Christa Parrish, has a book that I have preordered on Amazon entitled "Home Another Way". I can hardly wait until it is released in October! I LOVE to read, and find that I get so lost in the books I read. My husband gets a bit irritated that my booklight shines into the late evening hours, but I just can't pull myself from the story sometimes.
Anyway, this was a happy delivery for me and I have been kind of floating on a cloud. I wanted to share the news. : ) Seeing something so special to me in print is not a joy I can contain...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Finding the Center of the Gray....

Gray areas are so tricky...and life is full of them. As a mother, navigating through it all can be a real challenge. My son is such a little sweetheart. Like all kids, he has his difficult moments, but for the most part he is just a sweet little spirit who looks for ways to bless others. He is a constant source of hilarious silliness, a big help around the house, and a great big brother always (maybe I should say *usually*) willing to lend a hand to his little sister. He is boisterous, has a fun sense of humor and belly laugh to match, and has a wonderful imagination. He is all boy and loves all forms of action heroes but is not above playing dress up if his present company so desires. There is one aspect of his personality however, that is a bit of a mystery to me. When he meets someone new he may talk to them like he's known them for years, or he may clam up tight as a drum and hide behind my leg. The same is true for people he knows and loves. There is no rhyme or reason to it, and no predictor of which way he will lean in any given situation. He may want to talk his grandparent's ears off on the phone, or he may silently and vigorously shake his head no if I suggest he tell them "hello". We went on a walk with an older neighbor boy last night and while we walked my son wouldn't utter a word as the other boy chattered and tried to get a little conversation going with him. We got to a park area and the boy as well as my son and daughter had a ball playing Transformers in a fun-filled battle for the Allspark. My son himself transformed into a different person, exuberant with no sign of the silent child from the trek there. When we left and started back home, he transformed back to silent mode and we couldn't pull more than an occasional one-word answer from him. We could sense his shift so we mainly just allowed him to be comfortable as our silent companion. The same happens when we are with a group of people. I helped in his Vacation Bible School class and watched him grin as he sat in the circle playing "duck-duck-goose". He was enjoying himself just fine until someone proclaimed him "goose", at which point he refused to run, preferring to hold down his spot in the circle and just observe. I was telling his daddy about it and he remembered being very similar as a child. He had hoped that our children would not go through it and was concerned that our son seemed to be following this trait. I asked him what would have helped him get past feeling that way, and he said, nothing...it's just a feeling inside. My heart hurt a little to know our son was feeling this way, and I was powerless to change it. But then it occurred to me that God makes us each unique for a purpose. He made some to be extroverts and others to be introverts just as He made some to have dark hair and some light. We all put our individual fingerprint on this world. So now as a parent, my job is to find that delicate balance between encouraging my son to step out of his comfort zone as we all have to do in this world...and letting him be who he was created to be. It isn't my job to make him into someone he's not. I just have to help him find the center of the gray...

Monday, August 11, 2008

I'm back....

I've been a bit MIA lately...so crazy busy with the hustle and bustle of summer. My sister and her girls are here from overseas for the summer, but have to leave on Friday to go back. Boo hiss. We have enjoyed being together, and we both love the same things about the small town we share a few months out of the year while they are on holiday in the states. Taking evening walks we are able to soak up the secure feeling of meandering along the small town streets, meeting the local neighbor cats who run up for belly rubs as we pass, smelling the scent of freshly mown grass, watching the sun set over fields that seem to go on forever and feeling that perfect sensation of the warm evening air on our skin. She dreads going back and missing out on fall here, and I don't blame her. Although I am not fond of the days getting shorter (understatement) and despise when it begins getting dark at 5:30pm as winter approaches, the autumn season has so much beauty and marks the shift of many things. It's a time to dig out those sweaters and jeans, slow the pace a bit, plan outtings to the pumpkin patch and fall festivals, and get those taste buds ready for apple cider and pumkin pie. Thinking on it gives me a warm feeling, but I can't help but feel a bit of grief at the thought of those warm summer evening walks coming to an end in the coming weeks. I try to revel in the days, but they pass by oh so fast...

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Bitter-Sweet Fragrance of Childhood...

Oh how I love to smell my kids. It sounds so strange, but I think most mothers understand what I mean. The smell of their skin, their hair, their clothes, is something I find intoxicating. When I hold them against me I close my eyes and get completely lost in the scent and the feeling of closeness that warms me from my skin straight down to my heart. The love is so intense it is actually painful. My son and I have a little routine where after his bath I hoist him out of the tub all wrapped in his towel, and as I'm drying him off I pull him close, tickle him and tell him in a funny voice, "You little stinker, you stop growing so fast, I mean it you stop that right now!" He tells me in no uncertain terms between giggles and belly laughs that no, he will not stop growing. I know he's right, and the thought creates such a confusing mixture of yearning for past, present and future with a knowledge that as one is gained the other must go never to return. To him it is a fun ritual. He has no idea that as he is lost in the hilarity of the moment I am pulling in the scent of his clean skin as deeply as possible and aching inside to the core of my being. When I cuddle my daughter as close as two can be, I feel that each of us is as lost in the moment as the other one, in complete and utter contentment. We become almost like one, melting into each other, but I know each of us has a completely different set of thoughts swirling through our heads. While she is filled with a sense of security I am struggling with a deep angst at the realization that I cannot stop the hands of time. One day I will not have these moments. True, I will have new and wonderful ones, and for that I am in grateful anticipation. Still, the grief over these moments that keep slipping from my grasp is no less painful. It's all so bitter-sweet....

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nine Years Ago Today...

I was met in the hallway of the Topeka VA hospital by a male nurse whom I had come to know quite well in the weeks prior as I spent every waking moment at my dad's side while he was dying. Every day I would watch his breathing, wondering which would be his last. He was uncomfortable and I knew it, so for his sake I knew the last breath would actually be an act of mercy, but I didn't feel I could emotionally handle seeing the last one and then...no more. I told God and, as always, He heard me. When I got off the elevator that day and began down the hall, there was my nurse friend...I don't recall his name now. He ran to me and said, "He's going now. He just took his last breath." I ran, panicked, into the familiar room with tears already stinging my eyes. There was my sister, beside our mom who was sobbing, "No, I'm not ready! No. No..." I ran to the bedside and grabbed his hand. His chest was still. There was no more waiting with my own breath held until he could catch his. He was gone. I had my CD with me that I had wanted to play and put it into the player the chaplain had brought up a few days prior at my request. I played "This One's With Me" by Newsong. I knew he would be going to Heaven ever since we shared a private moment on the day I found out he was dying. Even though he couldn't hear or speak when I had rushed into that room for the first time and begged the nurse for some way to communicate with him, he did hear me through the device that I held against his temple. He did say yes when I asked him if Jesus was his Savior. He did say yes when I asked if he would see Him soon in Heaven. The days that passed after that were like waves crashing, with him in and out of consciousness and constantly confused. He knew I was there though and wouldn't let anyone but me feed him or help him drink most of the time. After the turbulent relationship we had all my life, let me tell you, that was quite an honor. One night as I was sitting with him he was not responsive and had been sleeping deeply for quite some time that day. I suddenly heard him making noises that at first I couldn't make out. I thought maybe he was coming to again so I rushed to his side. He was looking through me, his eyes open but completely unaware of my presence and I began to make out a pattern to his mumblings. He was humming "Amazing Grace". I still sob when I think of that precious moment, just as I am right now. Just as I do every time I hear that song.
He passed away on May Day, and I remember leaving the hospital with such an emptiness deep inside seeing all the flowers decorating the hallway. Things were so colorful, but all I remember is gray. The sun was shining outside but it felt intrusive in my time of pain and grief. The day of his funeral however it was pouring down rain. That did not stop those gallant young men from marching and sending off a 21 gun salute in my father's honor. It did not hinder them as they perfectly folded our American flag to be presented to my mother "on behalf of a grateful Nation". And it did not stop Jesus from speaking to my aching heart, telling me, "Child, don't weep. This one's with me".

This One's With Me
by Newsong

I was dreaming about Heaven.
Dreamed I was standing
at the pearly gates.
We were all there
and I was so scared,
standing in the presence
of One so great.

I felt so very unworthy,
I felt like running away
I bowed my head
and I turned to go,
when I heard someone say;

Father, this one's with Me,
part of the family,
one of the reasons
I died on Calvary.
Father welcome him in,
I paid the price for him.
Father, oh Father
this one's with me.

I was dreaming about Heaven.
When I looked up
the gates were open wide;
And in the distance I saw Jesus.
Our eyes met and I began to cry.
Angels robed in their beauty
were there to show me the way.
And all of Heaven was singing
when I heard His voice say,

Father this one's with me,
part of the family,
one of the reasons
I died on Calvary.
Father welcome him in,
I paid the price for him.
Father, oh Father
this one's with me.

Finally we were there face to face,
and He placed on me
Heaven's crown;
And I fell down on my knees
placed the crown at His feet
then He said tenderly,

Father this one's with me,
part of the family,
one of the reasons
I died on Calvary.
Father welcome him in,
I paid the price for him
Father, oh Father
this one's with me.

Romans 10:9 says "if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

John 3: 16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Simple Pleasures...

I cannot begin to express how much I adore spring! Everything seems enriched to me this time of year. Today I took my kids to our small-town local library, then we headed to our neighboring little town for a lunch of home-made fried chicken at the Corner Cafe and a trip to the antique and consignment stores. We had so much fun just taking our leisurly time meandering here and there, enjoying the spring air. We chatted with the locals a bit and met a few friendly people who happened to cross paths with. My son showed everyone who would listen his Spiderman web-shooter, and my little toddler daughter kept saying "hi" to everyone we met. She carried around a little plastic Goofy money bank at the anique store repeating "Goof! Goof!" as proud as can be. My son exclaimed, "Look momma! A squisher thing" when he found a bin of old wooden rolling pins. It was one of those days where you just enjoy *being*, revelling in your surroundings and in the pleasure of the company you are blessed to be accompanied by. I have determined to make more moments like these a part of my life's journey. We have to purpose to make the most of the time we've been given. After all...we may never pass this way again.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Favorite...

Don't we all love to list our favorite things? I know I do. There's just something about claiming what your favorite things are that feels like you're staking your claim on your identity. Lavender and pink are my favorite colors. I think we've all established ladybugs are a favorite of mine. Contemporary Christian music is my favorite. Romantic comedies are my favorite movies. Even if you don't know me in real life, from that listing you can get a little insight into what makes me tick. Having "favorites" is a fun way of proclaiming who we are. But there is a bad side to having favorites, especially if that information leaches itself out, either directly or indirectly. Certain favorites equal a great big "ouch". You may wonder what on earth I'm talking about at this point...

Have you or anyone you've cared about been a favorite child? Or much worse...NOT been that favorite child? I know I have been on the receiving end of this equation in my life. I have had people I care about share their experience with it as well. My husband and I were having a conversation about our life experiences recently, and it really got me thinking about how this effects who we are and who we become. More than that it made me realize how I never ever want my children to experience this in any way by any person in their lives. It just plain hurts. It stinks. I can understand feeling closer to one person than another...that's just the nature of relationships. But for one child to feel like they are not as good as another because of different characteristics they possess, that's simply heartbreaking. Whether a child is told that another is the favorite, or whether he/she perceives it based on the attitudes and treatment received by the favorite child, this dynamic changes the shape of who we are. It can damage how we see ourselves. It causes a pain, shame and resentment on the inside that is difficult to heal.

We are all created differently for a reason. We are individuals, crafted by God Himself. He gives us the characteristics we will need for our individual journey. While He gives one person a calm disposition, He may give another a boisterous personality. While one seems born to be patient and even-tempered, another may come into this world with a strong voice to assure their needs are made well known. None of these traits are "good" or "bad"...they just are what they are. They were given to each person for a reason known by the One who created them. Being a parent, you quickly learn that children are not formed with cookie cutters. What works with one child may not work with another. And while some children take more energy and seem more challenging to raise, they are not in any way "worse" than the children who some may dub the "good" ones who cooperate and make less waves. Looking at the more challenging children, I see God giving them characteristics that will serve them well later in life. Traits designed to help the parent grow and mature. When the parent can look at that child and see the potential inside them, they can help that child to flourish in unimaginable ways. If the same parent sees that child in a less desirable light, they can squelch the very things that, if nurtured, could have become greatness. They may be missing out on a valuable opportunity to hone their own character as well as that of the child's. They could be damaging the foundation of what could have been a beautifully strong relationship. How unfortunate.

My heart's desire is to parent my children creatively, with each one's individual traits and personality in mind. God blessed me with two very unique, special little people and the responsibility to shape them and help them grow to the best of my abilities. Every decision their father and I make effects them in one way or another. Every situation I expose them to has the potential to change who they will become. What an awesome responsibility! The enormity of it is overwhelming sometimes. Without God to help me I can't fathom how I could manage, but with Him to guide me I have what I need to help them find their wings in this world. What an amazing thing to be a part of! I am so blessed that God gave me two little miracles He specifically created just for my husband and I. When I asked Him for children He gave me exactly who I was supposed to have. It doesn't get much better than that. And I will let you in on a little secret...they are both my favorites.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

If Only....

How many times do we let these little words steal our joy. I know I do it more than I'd like to admit. If only I were thinner, if only I were smarter, if only we had more money, if only I were more like this person or that person, if only I could do what so and so does, if only.............
It's easy to let these thoughts pop into our heads, and it takes quite an effort to get them out. This seems to be the case with anything worthwhile. It's easy to gain weight and difficult to lose. It's easy to envy others belongings, accomplishments, abilities, but takes more effort to consentrate on our own blessings. It's easy to be critical, but can be hard sometimes to extend grace to others as well as ourselves. The list goes on and on.
One thing I am trying to focus on is being in the moment...my moment, and to let God help me through if that particular moment is getting me down. One thing I've learned is that God never let's me down. Why then, should I ever wish I was something other than what He made me to be? I can improve what He gave me to work with, but I can never become something or someone I'm not. When I stop and think about it, I really don't want to be anyone else but me. Joyce Meyer, my "Spiritual Momma", once said that we should never wish to be someone else because we may not really want to do what they did to get where they are. So true. We never truly know what other people's struggles are, what they've been through, what they're going through. They may look like they have it all together and be falling apart on the inside. They may have tremendous success, but the road it took to get there may have been long and hard. They may have lots of money, but terrible relationships or incredible lonliness.
On the flip side we see examples of people who make the most with what they have and find true happiness. They aren't successful by the world's standards but do their part to make their world a better place and are a blessing to those around them. They may not have a fancy house but they have a home filled with laughter and love. You have to ask yourself what truly makes one *rich* in life? We all want better for ourselves and our children, and there's nothing wrong with that, but if our focus is on what we don't have we miss out on the richness we already possess. For me, having a Christ-centered life and being a wife and mother to a loving family I adore is the deepest treasure of my heart. I know God has wonderful things in store for us. As long as I keep moving in His plan for me, I will experience more than I could ever hope for. And when the "if onlys" try to creep there way in when I'm sifting through bills, preparing my mom's tax return and realizing that once again I forgot to pick up a new printer cartridge while friends and family are vacationing in exotic locales, I will look down at my kids smiling, yogurt covered faces and remind myself that truly, there is no where else I'd rather be.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Definition of Insanity...

is doing the same things over and over expecting different results. It's just not gonna happen. Whether it has to do with a relationship, a health issue, a physical issue or what have you, change just won't take place without...well, change.
My issue on and off my whole life has been my weight. I say on and off, but truthfully it has been mostly *on*. Even when I was wearing size 3's and 5's I thought I was fat. Now in my thirties and two kids later I look back and wonder what on earth I was complaining about. My scale has jumped up and down many a time since then, and more recently I have started to get back in a more reasonable range. I hit a slump at the holidays and put some back on, hearing that familiar whine in the back of my head...'whyyy can't I just keeep the weight offfff'...sniff sniff'.' Ugh...what a weary cycle. So I started exercising my little tail off, eating less, getting on the scale and...no change. What?!?! All that work for nothing?!?!
No, not nothing. I know that somewhere inside me towards the left side of my chest my little heart is thanking me. My blood vessels are probably plugging along a bit more smoothly. My internal systems I'm sure are shouting, "You go girl!". So with that knowledge I have what I need to not throw in the towel. My hard work isn't for nothing. I took a week off from my workouts because we had things going on where I just didn't have time. Once our schedule went back to normal my mind tried to fight me from getting back to my workout routine, but today I made myself do it. And you know what? It felt great! So I'll keep pressing on towards my goal knowing that good changes are happening whether I can see them or not. As a mom I think my perspective has matured a bit. I know my body will never look like it did back in the day...I mean face it, you can't grow human beings inside your body without some alterations in tone and texture. And as much as I want a smaller jean size, tighter buns and smoother thighs as much as the next woman, I guess as long as I'm becoming a healthier mom I'm doing what really counts.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

If I Could...

This song is gorgeous, and rarely can I hear it without crying...have a listen if you'd like.

For my beautiful children...please stop growing so fast my sweet babies.

If I Could by Celine Dion

If I Could
I'd protect you from the sadness in your eyes
give you courage in a world of compromise
yes, I would

If I could
I would teach you all the things I never learned
and I'd help you cross the bridges that I've burned
yes, I would

If I could
I would try to shield your innocence from time
but the part of life I gave you isn't mine
I've watched you grow so I could let you go

If I could
I would help you make it through the hungry years
but I know I could never cry your tears
but I would
if I could

Yes, if I live
in a time and place that you don't want to be
you don't have to walk along this road with me
my yesterday won't have to be your way

If I knew
I would try to change the world I brought you to
and there isn't very much that I could do
but I would
if I could

Oh baby
I just want to protect you
and help my baby through the hungry years
'cause you're part of me
and if you ever ever ever need
I said a shoulder to cry on
or just someone to talk to
I'll be there, I'll be there

I didn't change your world
but I would
if I could

Monday, April 7, 2008

I Am Not Ashamed...

" 'If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory...' " ~Luke 9:26

Call me a Jesus freak, a religious fanatic, a Bible thumper, etc...it's ok, I don't mind. I'm not sure how or why being a born again Christian with a close relationship with the Savior started being painted in such a negative light. As frustrating as that is to me, it's sad, really. So many people would rather shun the One who created them than have a relationship with Him. I often wonder why, but I think they just don't know what they are missing. I grew up attending a church where I really wasn't learning much, I just went to put in my dutiful hour a week...until I became old enough to decide I didn't want to feel quite so obligated. At that point I became what my current pastor jokingly refers to as a CEO (Christmas and Easter Only) Christian. I had a concept of God, but not a relationship with Him. I prayed sometimes (mostly out of need or desperation), and I knew *about* God but I didn't *know* Him. Fortunately however...He knew me. He sent a friend into my life who He had destined to be my prayer warrior pretty much from the time of my birth (she was born three months after me and lived across the street from my family). She grew up knowing her place in God from the get go. She did her best to help me find that path, but I was unable to grasp my true need for a Savior until I had tasted just a bit of the wilder side of life. Then a friend invited me to a church that was unlike any other I had heard of. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but after I agreed to go back a second time I felt something stirring in my heart that I had never felt. It is not something that can be explained in words, I just suddenly felt like I had found something I never knew was missing until that moment. There was an invitation to make Jesus the Lord of my life at the end of service, and I felt so unworthy and scared of what changes that may entail that I didn't go up front. Instead I cried in my seat and told my friend that I wanted to know Jesus the way they had invited me too, but I felt like there was no way I could change to the point that I would ever be truly acceptable to Him. We went up afterwards and I was able to share my feelings with the associate pastor, a man who helped change my life in countless ways. He told me Jesus wanted me, that I didn't have to clean myself up on the inside before I invited Him into my heart. Inviting Him in was the point at which the slate was wiped clean. From that point all I had to do was focus on getting to know Him better and allow Him to help me be the person He created me to be. Pastor helped me pray a simple prayer after giving me the encouragement I needed to have faith and believe. "Lord, I know I am a sinner. I believe that Jesus died on a cross and rose again to pay the price for me. Come into my heart, make me a new person, help me to know You. From this point forward, I'll never be the same, in Jesus name. ~Amen." My life was changed that day, and little by little He has helped me lose my desire for things that aren't His best for my life. Do I mess up? Oh...yes. But I can come to Him and tell Him when I do, and know that I am forgiven. I get to start fresh and try again. He is someone I can talk to about anything, someone I know is working on my behalf behind the scenes because my trust is in Him. Without Him I am certain I my life would be going in a far less desirable direction. It's difficult to experience that and not want it to happen for everyone you know. It hurts when people scoff and think it's just weird, silly and over the top. I pray that those who feel that way would somehow come to really know Him before they miss their chance. I am so grateful to Him and I love Him with all my heart...I am not ashamed.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly Away Home...

So, here I am. Finally taking the plunge into the blogging world after admiring and reading my friends blogs for so long. It's mildly intimidating for some reason, but I've decided I needed a place to log the miles on my journey...where I'm going, where I've been, and how I came to be who I am. It's been a long road, and yet it's only just begun. I'm still deciding if this will be for my eyes only, or if I want to open myself up enough to make it's existence known. If you are reading this right now it's because I've taken a big step...feel free to congratulate me ; )
I'm a people pleaser...always have been. I hide the parts of me that I think others will disapprove of, disagree with, be disappointed in. I'm kind of a chameleon in that way, preferring to just blend in with my current surroundings. Most people who know me, know I love ladybugs. They are so sweet just flitting around, not hurting anyone, tending to the gardens they come across and simply being all they were created to be. What's not to love about that? They may be tiny, but they don't blend in. Bright red, black spots, there for all the world to see in whatever tiny space they are taking up at the moment. I'm always one to look for a deeper meaning, and I'm wondering if maybe there's something to be said for being more like a ladybug than a chameleon. Now, face to face I'm sure my chameleon side will continue to surface...old habits are hard to break. But in the world of the written word something makes me feel free to spread my ladybug wings and fly...