Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Grace Under Fire...

You know, there are a lot of situations in life that this phrase can apply to.
Today, however, I have been presented with 3 different stories that are just so heart-breaking I can't help but wonder how the family members can go on.
Today, I heard two stories of public servants (one, an off-duty fireman; the second, an on-duty police officer) killed, leaving behind family members just a few days before Christmas.
The third story, I'll link to below, actually occurred a couple of years ago but somehow I never heard this little boy's story before.
I can't help but ask myself?
What would I do? What would I do if my husband never made it home from work tomorrow? What I would do if my husband and one of my children were in a severe accident- he died and my child is clinging to life in ICU? What would I do, if at 13 months old, my child was diagnosed with a terminal disease and not expected to make it until Christmas or his second birthday?
I'd like to think I could handle the situation with grace.  I'd like to think I would Thank God for the wonderful time and memories I'd been given with them.  I'd like to think that despite the initial sadness, I would know there is a greater purpose to it all.
But that's what I'd like to think...
In reality, I think it would be so easy to succumb to your own sadness.  As a mother, I think losing a child could cause a heartache deep enough to kill me if I let it.
It's in times like these, that I stop and pray for these families.  Whether a recent occurrence, or one from two years ago, I imagine the ache of missing a loved one never completely disappears.  It would have to be a combination of God's love, His grace, the prayers of other believers, and my Faith in Him for me to come through such a trial.
Here are some verses I think would be comforting...
Philippians 4:7
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Colossians 2:2
That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.
Romans 8:28
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Ephesians 1:11
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:

How about you?
What verses would comfort you, bring you peace, and help you cope with a hard situation?

Here is little Dax's story:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chew on this!

Ok, so I'm not much on short posts.  I tend to be a little long-winded  wordy (even though I always scored well on writing tests in school, I often got points off for being "verbose.").
So, what? You thought I didn't know this about myself? Come on!
Anyway, I thought it would be fun to write about my least favorite meal as a child.
Let me start by saying, there wasn't a meal EVER served in my Mama's house that I didn't complain about (at least partially).  Not because I was picky; I was no where close to "picky" compared with kids of today.
My biggest issue? Whatever meat Mom was serving.  I couldn't chew it. Seriously.
I went through most of my life NOT eating steak because I "couldn't chew it!"
So Mom use to make a lot of the same things for dinner.  Not like every Tuesday was brussel sprouts and chopped steaks, but the same repertoire of things.  My least favorite?
Fried pork chops and applesauce!
I know, I know! What kid doesn't like fried pork chops? ME! Wanna guess why?
You got it!
In Mom's defense, everyone was super cautious back then about pork, especially.  The food industry had everyone scared about bacteria, making people sick, not cooking pork well enough, etc., etc.
Now we know you can actually stop cooking pork at 150 degrees with no risk of illness whatsoever.
Wish Mom had known it back then!
Pork chops sounds kinda good! Anyone else hungry?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Help a Sister out, would ya?

Well first of all, I know I've been MIA for a real long time, and I'm sorry.  Trust me, I have ALL. KINDS. OF. BLOG. POSTS running through my head constantly but most just never make it to the keyboard, errr screen, errr blog, know what I mean.
So my first question to you, my lovely reader, is this:
How on earth do I fit it all in?
I know a lot of us in bloggy world are Wives and/or Moms; some work full time in addition to those first two jobs, some of us are overrun are overwhelmed have our hands full enough with those first two jobs.  And some, like me, also have other hobbies and income options.  It might be photography or home parties of some sort, or maybe you make your own crafts; whichever it is for you, how do you find time without feeling as if something else is neglected?
I have had the same home based business for 7 1/2 years. The exact same amount of time I have been a Mom, by the way.  So I guess this stressed, panicked mode I go into when I'm up against a deadline is sort of my norm.
I'm not used to it.
I'm not sure I'll ever get used to it.
After all that time, I have a fairly large team to support along with a personal business encompassing at least 1500 past customers and hostesses.  Ya'll? It keeps me really busy!
I mean, really, there is so much more I wish I could be doing to provide these people with excellent customer service and the truth is, I just can't find the time for everything. The whole point of this business for me was flexibility and the ABILITY to put my family and their needs first.
BUT, like any business, we all know if you don't work, you don't get paid :-)

I have tried to organize my time as much as possible.  I really make an effort to NOT be online and working while the kids are here (that one's not going so well for me currently).  I make an effort TO WORK when the kids are sleeping or in school, but since I have a 3 year old who only attends preschool 2 half-days, that's a whopping 6 daytime hours a week!

Short of hiring a maid, which is probably not in my budget right now, I can't see the light at the end of my laundry pile tunnel.

Any advice?

Secondly, I've had a lot of issues come my way recently concerning friendships.  I tend to look at these things, not as coincidences, but rather as a wake up call.  Maybe a "head's up"for something to come or an opportunity to learn a lesson myself or help my kids with one.
As a matter of fact, Sweetpea, had a friend incident at school this week.  Long story short, a little mean girl (I'll call her Justine) from Sweetpea's class last year, had my baby girl in tears when I picked her up from school yesterday.  It seems Justine found a special rock on the playground and wanted to keep it, but when she let Sweetpea hold it, Sweetpea dropped it and it got lost in the mix on the ground.  Obviously, it was an accident and my baby felt terrible about it.  I know she apologized profusely, even though it didn't help her case with Justine.
But that's not the part that bothers me.
What bothers me is Sweetpea was practically begging this girl to still be her friend.  She cried in the car re-telling me the story.  I quote, "Justine is such a good friend when she isn't mad at me."
I told her "Baby, those two things don't match!  A 'good friend' is always your friend even if you have a disagreement; she isn't constantly mad at you for something! You don't need friends like that!"
That's when I heard the tell-tell-impending-doom-movie music in my head. You know the dum-dum-dum ?
If only life and friendship were that black and white, right?
I absolutely want to be that friend; the best one you've ever had.  The one who is forgiving when you said something hurtful; the one who reaches out to you and offers an apology for my part in whatever happened even if I really don't think I did anything wrong.  I want to be the kind of friend, I'd like to have...dependable, honest, inspirational, caring, sacrificial, etc., etc., etc.
Then pride comes into the picture; or at least I think it's pride. Maybe it's self-respect? At any rate, it's confusing...
Where do you draw the line between being that great loving friend, and saying, "enough is enough!"
No one wants to go through life or a relationship feeling as if the whole thing is one-sided; constantly giving but getting nothing in return.  How can you continue to be friends with someone you must walk on eggshells around for fear of offending them yet again? How many times can a friend shove your desire to help back in your face or be blatantly ungrateful for you and what you've done for them in the past?
Please don't get me wrong! I am, in no way, implying there is a "score-card" to friendship! But I think you all know what I mean here.  We've all had that friend who one day seems to forget the relationship works both ways and that it is ideally an equal give and take.
How do you decide?
When do you say "whatever" and move on, even if losing that friend hurts like crazy?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

To do(ne) list...

1.) Last week we wrote about what we have never done…this week write a list of 22 things you HAVE done. (inspired by Sellabit Mom)
2.) Write about the last item you looked for. Why did you need it?
3.) Something that scared the Hell out of you when you were a child. (inspired by Mama Sick)
4.) Describe something you did with your spouse when you dated, but that you’re now “over”. (Inspiredby Scary Mommy)
5.) Do you have little ones dressing up for Halloween? It’s time for a costume share! What are they going to be?

I totally was NOT gonna do this list thing, but as I think about it, it's the prompt I'm most excited about this week (true writer's block, ya think?) I think those of you who know me will find some surprises in there :-)
So here goes!

In my 35 years, I have...

1.) Been robbed at gunpoint TWICE when I worked in banking (had to lead with that one-it's a doozy!)
2.) Loved someone for the wrong reasons.
3.) Loved someone I shouldn't have.
4.) Said things I wasn't proud of, especially when I couldn't take them back.
5.) NOT said things I should've...especially when someone's life was about to be changed.
6.) Had 2 unexpectedly difficult births, both C-sections
7.) Stolen someone's boyfriend
8.) Had a friend who was a boy and thus a "boy-friend" but nothing more
9.) Replaced the roof on a house, shingles and all
10.) Owned at least 9 dogs in my lifetime, but 0 cats (because I used to be HIGHLY allergic)
11.) Loved someone so much it actually did/ does hurt
12.) Read a whole book while at an Atlanta Braves baseball game
13.) Been out of the U.S. only twice in my life, once to Jamaica on my honeymoon and second to The Bahamas a few years later
14.) Been to Vegas and stayed in the big pyramid
15.) been a band nerd, only I didn't play an instrument
16.) been to Disney World 4 times in my life, the most recent (with my kids) was also the most meaningful
17.)  started a fire in my Mom's oven (and my own)
18.) started a fire in a microwave because I nuked some metal (by accident)
19.) been humiliated in church
20.) begged for forgiveness 
21.) been forgiven, more times than I deserved
22.) been blessed beyond belief to be surrounded by friends and family who love me in all my craziness!

Now it's your turn! What 22 things make your list?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Foot in style!

The Prompts:
1.) Follow the template I copied from The Pioneer Woman without her permission and list 22 things you’ve never done.
2.) Tell about a time you accidentally “replied all” or sent an email to the wrong person by mistake.
3.) Describe a meal your spouse actually cooks better than you.
4.) Share the story behind your current Facebook and/or Twitter profile photo.
5.) Write a Haiku for Fall and pair it with a favorite Fall photo you’ve taken this year.
While I would love to make a list of things I've never done, I fear coming up with 22 would either depress me or be incredibly boring to you, or both! I might have better luck listing 22 things I HAVE done which might shock the pants off some people, but no...
My hubby does cook one thing better than me - pancakes! Not enough for a post...
I do have a twitter account, but don't tweet very often.  Don't have a clue what picture is on that profile or my FB one currently, for that matter :-)
AND, much as I love poetry, I never really understood the Haiku...I guess it could rhyme, but isn't it more about the number of syllables or something?
So anywho...
I do regrettably have one of those unfortunate, accidental email incidents. To this day, I feel terrible every time I think about it! It was so innocent and so unfortunate, and made an already bad situation WORSE.
So anyway, way back, oh about 7 years ago, I did a favor for a friend.  It involved childcare and I was totally willing to do it.  The issue arose when we had different ideas about payment.  At this point, I can't tell you what was said about it.  I honestly cannot remember.
Looking back, it was so unimportant.  I guess at the time, I was new to the stay-at-home Mom thing and my hubby was new to the "sole-provider" thing.  We weren't struggling, per se, but we had given up several "comforts" in order to cut down on monthly expenses.
My friend, on the other hand, had recently moved into a new house.  She commuted at least 30 minutes to work.  She was driving her child to me everyday to take care of .  Did I mention I lived in the opposite direction from her job? Oh, and, she also packed a full diaper bag and lunch for the child everyday.
So why I felt the need for payment, I'm not sure.  
Anyway, at the end of the agreed upon time (which had increased by a day during the week), she let me know she couldn't pay me (possibly just for the extra day not the whole week; like I said - long time ago!).  She did offer me payment in the form of gift cards.
Again, looking back, it was a really nice gesture because she thought I would really love these gift cards.
I don't remember all the details, but somehow things got all blown out of proportion and before I knew it, we were at odds.  Not somewhere I wanted to be with this friend.
I know, I know! The email...
A while later, I sent out a blanket email to invite LOTS of people to an event at my home.  Very shortly after, I got an email reply from her saying you would probably attend.
I was shocked because I thought she was too mad at me to even entertain the idea. So what did I do?
I immediately forwarded her response to my husband, adding something like this to the top...
"What should I make of this? I never expected her to respond, much less come! What should I do?"
Clicked "send" and it was off through cyber-space to hubby at work.
I'd actually hit "reply" rather than forward! Yikes!
Know how I found out? She replied back...
"Well I thought you invited me because you wanted me to come, but I guess now I know how you really feel!"
It was a terrible feeling! I really tried my best to explain, I apologized, etc.
It turned out she couldn't come to my party anyway because she had a conflict.
I am happy to say, though, that we are friends again!
No thanks to my mouth!  Well, in this case, no thanks to my typing finger.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Socks, you say?!

Yes! Socks!
I was playing around on Mama Kat's blog this morning and I looked at her writing inspiration prompts.
When I clicked on "Get your INSPIRATION on" and here's what came up...
"write a funny story about socks."
So you might be thinking, "how funny can socks be?"

Super funny, I tell ya! And I'm gettin' ready to (tell ya, that is)...

Way back in the dinosaur days my junior year of college, I was taking this crazy class for my major (required, no less!) called "Soil Science." I know, I know, 'nuff said, right? But I didn't get to the socks yet, so hang on!

Anyway, I had to take this stupid class and the only other person out of 200 or so that I "knew" was no more than an acquaintance.  As it turns out, I knew him because he dated my roommate Freshman year.  To make a long story short, we got assigned (randomly, by the teacher) to the same study group of 3.  As it happens, our "third" wasn't even interested in coming to class, much less an outside class study group.
So, my one partner and I got together to study and work on our first homework assignment on a Thursday night.  I thought it was BYOB for some reason (like when we were done with the work).

A few drinks in, I was a little giggly and he was laughing too (although I think laughing AT me and not with me).  At some point, I made a wager I definitely couldn't back up...

I said, "I bet I can take my socks off faster than you!" "No hands!"

Turns out, he already had such a routine down to a science and beat me by a landslide. I don't remember the wager, but most likely an additional drink followed my miserable finish in the contest.

I think it was actually his roommate who thought it the funniest...he was trying to sleep in the top bunk, but perked up to watch when I opened my big mouth with the challenge! He has reminded us about that a few times through the years...

AND, if you didn't already know, the study partner and co-sock conspirator is now my husband! That night was our first kiss, first time we held-hands, first time he drove me home (because I couldn't drive, but also couldn't leave my car on campus overnight unless I wanted a ticket!) , first time we spent the night together (although not even hand-holding or kissing was involved; simply sleeping)...good times!

All because of socks...or was it the drinks before the socks?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Falling into a new day...

This morning I awoke to an almost unwelcome chill in the air.  After all, it can be a little disorienting to wake up cold when just yesterday the high temperature was a sweltering 85 degrees!

As I continued my journey toward full awareness, my groggy mind realized how excited I was to be a little cold.


My most favorite time of the year, Fall was such a welcome change! Since I was a child it had been a season of revitalization and anticipation for me. 

A new season! Leaving behind that retched one I’d just been through.  The insane heat of summer, which, in my case, was both physical and psychological.  The agony of a heat that seemed never-ending and the emotional toll of a near-hell on earth.  

Yes! It was time.  Time for a new beginning; a new chapter in my life.

Today was a new day!

Quickly, I forced myself out of bed and into warmer clothes.  I hurried to make the kids breakfast with a side of hot coffee for me. 

I could not wait to take them outside and enjoy the nice, cooler weather of Fall.  I couldn’t wait to show them all the joys of changing colors, falling leaves, and new smells of a new season.

And I, too, was ready now to begin anew.

Today would be my first day…of a new season...a new life... a new ME.  Today I would enter the world of other single parents and widows, but I entered with hope.

Hope for healing, hope for new beginnings, and hope for new joys that my favorite season would bring!

*This post was for a RemembeRED prompt from Write On Edge.  In my case, it is a memoir from the point of view of a yet to be written character.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Put on a Happy Face...

1.) Share a disagreement you’re having with someone and let your readers be the judge!
2.) Tell us about your song.
3.) Share a Halloween craft.
4.) Slow dancing with boys…talk about one of your first school dance experiences.
5.) I have no idea where the following message originated from, but it’s been floating around Facebook for the past week…who does it make you think about?:

Sooooo...I know I haven't written in forever...where does the time go?
I blog in my head ALL. THE. TIME.  It's just that the words in my head never make it to the page screen. I'm trying to do better; I promise! 
This week, I am making myself do a writing prompt, even though I should be sleeping :-) 
I really do feel that writing, and writing for this blog, is therapeutic for me and I enjoy it when I can find the time.
This week, it's almost ironic that that the first prompt is a writing option!
I have a "disagreement" of sorts to run by you...

My whole life, I've had to hear things like, "you're so much prettier when you smile;" or "why do you look so serious all the time?"
I've heard it from strangers, I've heard it from people like my grandmother...
Think about how that makes a child feel.
I mean- REALLY THINK ABOUT IT! How do you think a 6 or 7 year old girl feels when her grandmother says that to her CONSTANTLY?
So anyway, needless to say, I am a very analytical person, always have been, but that does not equate to unhappy.

Recently, I've had some bouts with depression, not feeling good enough, and, in general, not feeling "OK."
BUT the older I get, the more I am able to conceal some things and "put on a happy face."
I mean, really, not every John Doe on the street needs to know my business!  I'm not being fake; I'm just trying to be positive and cheerful in public.
Nobody likes a Debbie Downer, right?

So that's why I got really defensive today when someone insinuated that "putting on a happy face" is being fake.  This same person, is of a collective group who never fails to voice their "be happy" mantra.

So it seems, this person cannot be pleased.  She doesn't want to be around people who aren't high energy, bubbly, and "up" all the time, yet putting on a cheerful demeanor and smiling to mask the pain,  that's fake!

So what do you think?  Is it a crime to "pretend" to be happy or should we all air our discontent with anyone who asks?

Food for thought...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Where am I?

I am here.
Or, at least, I'm trying to be.

In my journey to discover  choose joy, I have already learned a lot.  One thing I keep going back to, is that joy is a choice.  One of the things that robs me of that choice (or at least makes me feel joy is no longer a choice) is just general day to day life and busy-ness.  I get so caught up in getting from point A to point B and all the things I need to check off my list in-between A and B, that I spend most days hurried, short-tempered, and severely lacking in gratitude, grace for others, and joy.

I am still reading Ann Voskamp's book and her blog whenever possible.  It gives me much to ponder.
One of my favorite parts of the book, she has excerpted on her blog this weekend.  Check it out here.

I feel as if I am making progress.  This weekend I was able to sit at a football game in the rain, and simply enjoy the family experience we were having.  No worries about it being past the kids' bedtime.  No worries about the rain ruining my hair or makeup.  No worries about all the other things I could have been doing in that time.

I saw joy in the face of my son, only 3, totally enraptured with the ball game.  I saw both kids dance, clap, and startle a little when our team scored and they shot off the cannon.  I got to hear such sweet words from the young lips of my baby boy, "I loved the ball game, Dad."  I saw their sweet faces, peaceful in sleep which came before we were even half-way home.

I've always known that enjoying where I am right now rather than pining for the past or yearning for the future could bring joy.  I guess I'm still just trying to figure out how to live in the RIGHT now, right now.
Does that make sense?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

An Award? For Moi?

WOW! Kerry at the signing life has nominated me for the  Versatile Blogger's Award!
And actually, this is the second time I've been nominated...
the first time, I was so new to this blogging thing, that I didn't really know what to do.
I certainly didn't know 15 other blogs to nominate!
Guess what? I still don't, but I'm going to do my best!

To accept this award, the nominee must do the following things:
1) Thank the person who gave the nomination (Thanks again, Kerry!)
2) List 7 interesting facts about him or herself (Yikes!)
3) Pass on the nomination to 15 newly discovered blogs

Here are my seven {cough} interesting facts about myself:       
1. I met my husband in college when we were freshmen; he was dating my roommate at the time.  Later, I dated his roommate before we ended up together :-)

2. Before becoming a Mom and leaving the work force to be with the kids, I worked in banking.  I was robbed twice at gun-point; yep- gun in my face.  Good times!

3. When I was younger, I took ballet for 5 years. I moved to the "en pointe" class a year earlier than everyone else.  I really enjoyed it but never thought I was all that good, so I gave it up.  Definitely wish i hadn't!

4. Somehow with all my interest in dancing, singing, acting, etc.  I ended up in an engineering program in college. I know, right? Obviously, I didn't end up in that field...

5. I was in Air Force ROTC one year in high school.

6. I overheard someone describe her daughter this way today:"if she doesn't really know you, you'll think she's the most quiet and shy girl you've ever met.  Once she gets to know you and starts talking--watch out!"  It's a pretty accurate description for me as well.

7. At 35, I am finally beginning (and learning) to accept who I am right now and not feel the need to apologize.  I am learning that acceptance doesn't have to mean settling.

DUDE! That was hard! 
Now it's time to share the love!

Check out these new blogs I've been reading or have recently discovered! Leave them some comment love!
My nominees for the Versatile Blogger Award are:

Sara@ life's recipe
Stephanie @My Write Side
RedWriter@Life-A Memoir of Existence (who also nominated me a while back for this award; thanks!)
Lynda@my hearts desire
Nicole@Confessions of an Average Housewife
Jennifer @ from the corner of my couch

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shove this!

This post is linked up with...

The Prompts:
1.) Write about a time you shoved someone.
2.) If you were a hoarder, based on your personality…what would you hoard? (better yet, ask someone who knows you well, what they think you would hoard).
3.) First day of school pictures…let’s have’em!
4.) 911 memories.
5.) Your summer recap in a poem and pictures.
Hmmm...a time I shoved someone?

Well I grew up with two younger brothers so I am quite certain I shoved at least one of them more times than I can count (you know who you are :-) Sorry, bro; in my defense, you probably shoved/ hit/held me down me way more than I ever did you so therefore you deserved it, right?)

Any who...
there is this one incident I keep remembering and as I clear away the fog, it wasn't really a shove.

I was in the 7th grade, which at the time, in my town/ school system was part of middle school.  There was a separate school for Jr. High and another for High School and yet another for K thru 6.  I know! Confusing, right?
There was this girl bully who obviously had some home issues.  EVERYONE was scared of her; truthfully, so was I.  She was rough; got suspended, started fights (or finished them, depending on your perspective), AND there were lots of rumors about her family.  In fact, everyone in town with THAT last name, was "known" to be wealthy from a less-than-respectable business. 
For some reason, one day Bobbi (not her real name), started a conversation about whose a** she could kick.    
Like it was 20 questions or something...
she would throw out a name and I was supposed to say yes or no.  So most of my answers were "I don't know" accompanied by shoulder shrugs.
Eventually, we got to the million dollar question, "What about you? Do you think I can kick your a**?"
Determined to not show fear and perhaps psych her out a little, my response, "I don't know, but if you think you're so bad, why don't you come on?!"
Where that came from, I'll never know! I guess I figured someone had to stand up to her eventually.
So anyway, she jumps out of her seat and proceeds to stand over me.
Again in an effort to remain in control and not let her intimidate me, I chose to remain seated.
She wrapped her hand around the front of my neck, so I proceeded to do the same.  As we each held the other at arm's length with one hand, she taunted me to go ahead and hit her.  I was smarter than that!
I was waiting for her to make the first move, take the first punch- whatever!
She finally did hit me; more of a slap really and I immediately repeated the motion against her face.  Only with her, she saw it coming and moved/ ducked so I sort of hit her on the head instead.  As soon as I did that, she dropped her hands and sat back down.
Honestly, I don't think she thought I would do it.  I doubt anybody, other than another member of her rough and tumble family, had EVER stood up to her before.
Of course in the weeks and months to come, anyone who had witnessed it told it very differently.
My not standing up? That was because I was a coward, not because I refused to let her intimidate me.
My slap? Completely non-existent.  I became known as "the girl Bobbi slapped."

It was hard to swallow then (not that I was ever a popular kid anyway), but looking back I don't regret the way I handled the situation.
OK! So maybe sometimes I wish I'd really beat the snot out of her! BUT looking back, it wouldn't have changed anything.

And I came across a great quote today that I can apply here:

"Remove those 'I want you to like me' stickers from your forehead and, instead, place them where they truly will do the most good - on your mirror!" -Susan Jeffers

Because, really, at the end of every day isn't it much more important that I like me than who else does?
Isn't it far more meaningful what I think of my thoughts and actions than speculating what others think?

Isn't it best, that I can be proud of who I am and hold my head high for the choices I made?

I say "YES, YES, YES!"

*photo credit:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Digging out...

I realize I haven't been a very good friend lately...
or a very good wife...
or a very good Mom...

Ok, I think you get the point!

I let myself sink into this funk I just couldn't pull myself out of.  Instead of concentrating on what I was doing well and what was going right, I just couldn't see past the mountain of difficulties.  It became this cycle of me beating myself up over not being the wife or mother or friend or person I wanted to be.
I was exhausted all the time (still haven't quite fixed that one) and just didn't want to do anything.

Well a couple of days ago, I discovered "an out."
If I couldn't make the negative talk get out of my head, not yet, at least, I would put something better in my head to counteract it.
I became very intentional about thinking of things that make me happy and bring me joy.
I came up with a great list! It includes, of course, my kids.  Every day they do something adorable or hilarious and I really do like to laugh.  It does do the soul good and probably the physical body as well.
I thought about dating my husband and all the fun things we did in college...the first time he told me he loved me (just as I was about to give up and think he didn't feel the same way)...and this one time when he came to visit me at my apartment.

We were separated for the summer.
He'd moved back home to work with his Dad in construction. His days started before sunrise and he usually went to bed before dark.
Back in college town, I was attending summer school every morning and then going to one or both of my two part time jobs at the mall.  Fun times {sarcasm}!

Anyway, we LIVED for the weekends when we were able to see each other but since we were living 3 hours apart, it wasn't every weekend.  One weekend when he was supposed to visit, my younger brother and his friends were in town for a Dave Matthews concert.  I left to run an errand for them and when I came back, my roommate said, "Your boy's here."

When I walked into my room, he was sitting on the floor leaning against my bed.  Heavy construction boots still on his feet, caked with dried mud and concrete.
He was a mess! Practically covered from head to toe in mud and concrete and just general grime! I even remember finding mud on his ear!

But all I remember about seeing him like that, was that I thought he's never looked better!

It meant so much to me that he'd hopped in the car and come straight to me rather than going home for a shower.  It made me feel so special that he wanted to see me that badly.  It assured me that even if he hadn't said it in so many words, he did feel the same way about me as I felt about him.  It made me feel so loved; like nothing else mattered besides how we felt about each other.

...not the distance...
...not the rocky start we got because some people didn't approve of "us"...

It is one of my greatest memories of our relationship.  It always makes me smile; I hope it made some of you smile too!

In addition, I do want to apologize to all my friends; my online friends, as well as my real life friends.  I have been conspicuously absent for a while now and I'm truly sorry.  I am pulling myself out of this funk and I will be back in touch soon, I promise!

AND, just in case you haven't ever checked her out...Texan Mama wrote a post about acceptance that just really hit home for me.  It's almost like she climbed inside my head and wrote down my thoughts!
Go check it out here.

Thanks for stopping by Gleaning Grace!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I need my Mommy...

Almost 5 months ago to the day, I blogged about my Mom and a new diagnosis she'd received in response to some health issues she'd been having.  If you missed it, read it about it here.

Well Mom went to the Mayo clinic in Minnesota recently to get a second opinion.
In fact, she spent a week there.  They ran and re-ran all the same tests that her doctors in her hometown ran before giving her the diagnosis of Pulmonary Hypertension.

And in the words of a Mayo doctor, "there is absolutely NOT enough evidence to diagnose" her "with pulmonary hypertension!"
Yay! Sort of...
So it is good news I guess that Mom doesn't have this terrible thing we thought she had.

The thing is, even Mayo couldn't tell her what she does have.  Why her blood pressure spikes and dips erratically and she gets tired so easily without much exertion.  They have recommended some other minor things for her to monitor (like sleep patterns and possibly a form of sleep apnea) but nothing to explain all her symptoms.

So while I am excited at the possibility that Mom's doctors were wrong in the beginning, the bottom line is, I just want Mom to feel better.  I want her to feel like her old self again.  Selfishly, I want her to BE her old self again and ACT like her old self again.

It feels a little odd at 35 to count on your Mom so much, but I definitely do.  I've missed spending time with her and I know my kids have as well.

So once again, I am praying for answers.  I realize that they may only come in God's time and his agenda may not match mine; but still, I pray for a solution for Mom.

And on another note...
I got really excited today because we've had a little cool down in the weather here.

I could actually breathe when I went outside and it wasn't so hot and muggy I thought I might suffocate :-)
This excites me not just for current comfort levels outdoors; it excites me because I can FEEL FALL!
I LOVE Fall; it is my MOST special time of the year.

I am excited about Sweetpea going back to school and all the activities that will bring; but more than that, for me Fall is all about anticipation!  I truly LOVE the colors of Fall, when the leaves start to change.  I know some people think Fall is a season of dying, but I actually see it sort of as a re-birth (or at least the resting to prepare for the re-birth).  Every being deserves a break, right? I think it's kind of cool that the trees and plants have qualities that lie dormant in the winter and return come Spring.

I truly LOVE the smells of Fall! Around here, people burn their lawn trash and dead leaves...I realize that doesn't sound appealing but it is a very distinctive smell.  For me, it reminds me of my Dad and of home since we had to help him rake and burn THOUSANDS of leaves every Fall.

I truly LOVE the feel of Fall!  On the weekends in the Fall we travel often so that hubby can hunt with his Dad.  It gives all of us time to enjoy a change of scenery and some wildlife. I love the crispness of the air in the Fall especially after the sun goes down; how it's just perfectly warm by daylight, but cool enough to need a sweater or blanket at night.  AND, while I'm not much of a sports enthusiast, I do like Football.  THERE. I. SAID. IT!
Just don't tell my husband, 'k?

So, I am patiently awaiting the actual arrival of Fall.  How refreshing to have felt it today! Almost like a teaser, but very timely for my summer weary soul. As if to say, "hold on! I'm right around the corner!"

Fall is coming and I am excited!
How about you? What are you excited about?

Friday, August 12, 2011

I can't believe I'm asking for this...

...but can someone please knock some sense into me?

(and yes, the all caps and extra punctuation are to show you just how adamant I am!)

I've been having a lot of days lately where I just want to pick myself up by the shoulders and shake me, all the while yelling, "what is your problem?!"

I'm so frustrated with myself, I don't blame people for not wanting to talk to me or be around me - heck! I DON'T WANT TO BE AROUND ME!

I really think if I didn't have to get up and function for the kids everyday, I just wouldn't .  I would stay in bed, cover my head with the sheet and quilt and hide.

What really stinks is, I think I'm hiding from me.  I don't like how I've been acting to myself or to my family.  There is a Bible Verse I keep remembering...Luke 6:45b...for out of the heart, the mouth speaks (paraphrased from NKJV).  And I honestly find myself wondering how ugly my heart must be, based on my temper and the things I scream, yell, say.

I realize what it boils down to.  I'm not happy.  I'm disappointed with myself.  I'm scared...
...of disappointing others...of just about everything.
I'm scared to "put myself out there;" I'm scared to make a mistake; I'm scared to be right; I'm scared I don't have all the answers (and obviously I don't); I'm scared of making a wrong choice that will adversely affect my kids or my husband...

the list could go on and on...

I also have some issues that go back to childhood that I've never dealt with.

Most days, I just really don't even know where to begin.  The feeling of dread that assaults me before the day even starts, is just hugely overwhelming.

I'm not a pessimistic person.  I've never been the eternal optimist either; just realistic...a good balance.

So many people say happiness is a choice..."choose joy."  It doesn't feel like an easy choice.  I want to be happy, I want to experience joy; I really do! I mean, who wants to be unhappy all the time?

I just can't seem to do one single thing without berating myself!
I wrote about this before; I can't even attend a wedding without making it about me.  I just feel so guilty and so overridden with feelings of inadequacy.  I'm not the wife I promised I would be.  I'm certainly not honoring and cherishing my husband with my words or actions.
When I work at home, I worry about neglecting my kids.  When I stop working to play with the kids or take them somewhere fun, I think about "what I should be doing" the whole time.

My mind is definitely one of my worst enemies.  I have a great memory that is totally a gift from God.  I'm always had it and rarely does it fail me.  But it's a blessing and, sometimes, a curse.  I remember every unintelligent choice I've ever made...every word I've ever uttered in haste...every friend whose feelings I ever of whom I never had the chance to apologize to before she was unexpectedly gone from this world.

And for some reason, I've been thinking about her a lot lately.  I had a friend in middle school all the way through senior year...I'll call her Anna for the purpose of this post.  Anna was a very sweet person - almost too sweet.  Senior year, she started to grate my nerves a little; when she asked if I wanted to room together in college, I fed her a lie and it all but ruined our friendship.
Just a few weeks before graduation, she was killed in a car accident and I never had the chance to make things right. It has just dawned on me this past week, how guilty I feel about what I did when I lied to her.  I have been telling myself over and over again, that I am not responsible for her death.  That's a no-brainer, obviously, because I was nowhere near her one car accident.  The thing is, only a person who feels really guilty has to tell herself she's not.

With Anna and a lot of other things in my life, I haven't forgiven myself, and I'm not sure I know how.
I wrote about being proud of myself and how difficult it can be to admit and accept.  I now think, forgiving myself may be harder.

I've really gotta work on this...
I can't be a coach to my team-members or an example to my kids in the condition I'm in now.

I think I'll start by going to bed!
Thanks for listening and I promise to get Debby Downer out of my head sooner, rather than later!

Friday, August 5, 2011


Let me start off by saying, pouting is unbecoming; it's one of my least favorite emotions or sentiments-EVER.
But, I'm pouting.  As much as I want to stop, I'm having a very difficult time. AND? I'm angry...pretty seriously angry and I know I have to resolve it or it will only get worse.

As I write this post, I'm writing from a rented computer.  You see the brand new MacBook Pro I bought in February? FRIED!
A water bottle with a loose cap was knocked over into the keyboard last week and a few ounces of bottled water spilled right over the track pad and keyboard.
I wasn't in the room; I'd left my computer and my water bottle to go and change sheets on my son's toddler bed (the kind that is actually a convertible crib; if you've ever had the pleasure, you're echoing my groan right now :-))
Anyway, the OTHER parent was in the room with two children who were throwing a frisbee.  Two children who have repeatedly been told not to throw ANYTHING in the house (by me of course).  One of them threw it and knocked over the water.
Of course since it was MY water, the entire situation was MY fault, right?
I immediately (ok, within a few minutes) started trying to drain the water out of the computer.  I turned it upside down, blotted the keyboard area with towels, and eventually turned it over on top of a grocery bag filled with rice overnight.  The idea being that the rice would pull most of the moisture out.

First thing the next day, I called Apple and talked with them about what happened and my options.  Since the computer was so new, it was still under the one year warranty, but that didn't cover spills.  I was eventually told that even if we'd had Apple's extended care coverage, it would not have covered spills.  So anyway, long story short, I was told bottled water, especially only a few ounces, should be easy to recover from. I was given the number of the local Apple store (who were a bunch of jerks, by the way) and a third party Apple repair dealer.  I chose the latter, and they have been nothing but helpful.  The technician working on my machine has been very patient with me, answering all my questions, explaining technical things I didn't understand, even being honest with me and saying I didn't need an Apple product external hard drive when I recovered from this because a cheaper brand would fit my needs.

After all this and a week of working on it, it turns out I am one in a million! Not only is the computer completely out of commission, the Hard Drive is completely unrecoverable! Which I told was a less than 10% chance.

SO-tomorrow I go to buy a new Mac AND an external HD because it's tax-free weekend here.
And then, on some things, at least, I get to start over.
Anything I hadn't backed up recently, is gone-for good.

It might not sound like such a big deal to some people, but this is the third computer we've lost in 15 months.  First it was the desktop, but I had warning and backed up almost everything.  At the time we had a PC laptop so I moved everything, including my home-based business, to that.  Then this past February, without warning, the HD on my 4 year old Gateway laptop died.
AGAIN, I lost data.  Some stuff was backed-up, but only a few weeks earlier, so I lost everything in between.

NOW- I hate woe is me kind of stuff, because often we recover and doesn't seem like a big deal.  Sometimes, within days, we can look back and wonder what the big deal was.  But I've really been doing a lot of "what did I do to deserve this" kind of questioning to myself.  This was sort of the straw that broke the camel's back.

In June, a family member called me 3 hours before my sons birthday party to see if she could change the menu (which we'd pre-ordered from a restaurant 2 days earlier).  She also invited 2 other people to come along and wanted to know if it was ok.
Well, NO; it's not ok! I planned a nice birthday/ Father's Day celebration for my husband, our two Dad's, and my son. And because I had been crazy busy with work related stuff, I straightened up the house, but didn't really clean it the way I would for non-family (or extended family who never visit) to come over.
Don't get me wrong! These people would have been welcome to come had I know far enough in advance; I think it's very rude, however, to NOT RSVP for a party whether you plan to attend or not.  RSVP, means "respond please" (I don't know French so I can't write the literal acronym).  That doesn't mean, only respond if you are coming; it doesn't mean only respond if you aren't coming.  It means RESPOND! If the invite says, "regrets only" then you should only call if you can't attend.
I'm not sure where our society lost this meaning but no one seems to know it anymore!

Anyhow, back on track, the day felt like a colossal disaster.  Not only did these two show up uninvited, they brought their pet - into my house! AND my younger brother showed up after he'd blessed me out on Facebook a few weeks earlier.  All I could think was, "What terrible thing did I do to deserve this?!" For me there is nothing more stressful than unannounced guests, or guests I am unprepared for.  I mean, I live in a house with a large dog and two kids, and a husband, who at times (love him though I do), could be grouped with either of the other two categories :-)

In July, another incident with someone taking care of my kids and completely undermining my role as their parent.

Do you see the theme? I just feel dumped on!

Last night though, as I lay in bed, I had an epiphany.


I asked God to make me a woman of grace.  Didn't I? Didn't I start this blog to figure out how to deal with difficult people and situations with grace?

I did!

Wouldn't you know, my Bible study this morning? It focused on grace.  Here is what I wanted to share with you and felt led to explain in reference to my recent experiences.

Grace is favor; benefit.  Grace is free; something you receive even when you haven't earned it.  Grace is available because of God and HIS ultimate Graciousness.
The speaker today said (paraphrased): Whatever your past, God knows what you did; He has grace to cover it! He wants to use you anyway.  If He has forgiven your past (and He HAS) then LET. IT. GO!

She also said Grace is power (2 Cor 12:7-10); which reminded me of another phrase I've heard, "to err is human, to forgive - divine."

Those may not be related to you but here is how they connect for me.  I can't earn Grace, but I can give it.  I can't know Grace or be Grace-ful without learning it and without being Grace-less first.

I have to extend Grace to these people who have hurt me no matter how hard the circumstances.  Forgiving others and extending grace to others who may not have earned it, is powerful for me and them.  It releases me from that evil angry hold.  AND, if I truly believe He has a plan and a purpose for me (Jer 29:11) and I DO, then I have to Thank Him and praise Him in everything.  Not just when things are going well.

As parents, we don't just love our children when they behave and then stop when they act up! Even when we discipline them, we love them greatly and the same as before! God does the same with us! His love is unconditional for His children, but do we love Him unconditionally in return?

I hate to admit, I don't.  Because if I did, I wouldn't be saying "woe is me; why me? What did I do to deserve this" during such a rough patch.  Instead, I should be saying, "Thank you, God! You are wonderful and good in all things! I KNOW you have something better in store for me."

And again, if you haven't read Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts"please do.  This is the Hard Eucharisteo she talks about.

Grace and peace to you~

Monday, July 25, 2011

Reflecting Pool...

My daughter has this Disney princess CD that I bought her not long before school got out.  She listens to it every night, through the night, while she sleeps. 
She's memorized most of the songs and so have I :-)
There's this one song on there...well, stay with me! I'll get back to that I promise!

I've been in voice lessons now for about 6 months.  A friend asked me a few weeks ago why I was taking them.
The thing is, I used to sing all the time.  In fact, my first song (according to my Mom) was Crystal Gayle's "Don't It Make my Brown Eyes Blue" which I learned from the radio.  I would walk around the house singing it, Mom says.  Pretty comical I would think, since I've always had blue eyes...AND I was all of 18 months old! Seriously!
I sang in church and always loved the singing time.  For some reason, I sang in the youth choir, but it wasn't until I was about 13 that I decided I wanted to sing solos too.  I'm not sure if it was fear, or maybe I just felt there wasn't a place for me.  We attended a church with LOTS of talent so there was never a search for someone to do the "special" music on Sunday mornings.  
BUT in a youth choir production when I was 13, I requested to sing part of a song by myself.  I got so many compliments and so many "I had no idea you could sing!" comments that I wanted to pursue it.
I signed up for Choir at the Jr. High for the following year and had a great time with it (as I faded into the background).
The next year, my world got turned a little upside down - my parents moved us to a church across town.
I was devastated! While there were school friends there I knew, my church friends, my church family (did I mention my parents joined that other church before I was born?), were all at the other place.  I missed them and was convinced I would never survive the move.
One of the best things that came from the move, was the new youth choir.
It was small; like TINY! 
No one there really wanted to sing the solos.
So this was it for me! My time to shine! To be someone I wasn't before! Not the shy, keep-to herself girl I'd been known as for 14 years of my life at that other church.
So I went with it! 
I sang in church choir, association-wide church productions, the Spring musical every year at school, choir every year through my sophomore year.  I actually even made Honor's Choir my sophomore year, but then wasn't able to attend.
After I graduated, I went on to college, but spent my whole Freshman year NOT singing (other than the occasional song at my home church when I went back for a visit).
The next year, I signed up for women's choir.  And so it went, until I graduated college.
A little over a year later, I was getting married and so were our best friends.
She was my Maid of Honor; I sang at her wedding.

THAT WAS OVER 11 YEARS AGO and my last public performance.
I don't really know why.  Nothing particular happened.

Just life...

So now I am on a journey to find my voice again.
I'm getting there, but I'm not quite back to where it was.
Things have changed.
I'm a Mom now. My voice has deepened with age (something that happens to most people; have you heard Stevie Nicks lately?), the techniques ~particularly breathing properly~ has become more difficult, not to mention other nuisances like acid reflux which can damage your vocal cords.
My music academy?
Mostly kids! I am one of a handful of adult students in any instrument class.  We'll see how that goes come recital time! Ought to be interesting, huh?

So I'm getting my voice back and I can't help but see how much of a metaphor it is for my life.
I just got though telling someone how much marriage and motherhood changed me.  In some ways, for the better, but in other ways, I think I lost myself.  
Slowly, and very recently, I think I am crawling my way back.  I'm unearthing the woman I was before I took someone else's name... before I become "Sweetpea's Mom." AND I'm not exactly the same.
My prayer is that I can have a wise and discerning heart ( from a verse that I read about King Soloman; 1 Kings 3; 6-12) in order to know which parts to keep and which to "trade up" for better ones.  
I think that God wants us to accept ourselves for who we are; never intended to be perfect creations, just intended to Love and be Loved by Him.
BUT He is still working on me, and the more I learn to trust Him, the more His creation I become.  I believe He can take the Worldly things out of me, to let more of Him in; I just have to be willing to bend and perhaps even break a little.
Another of my favorite verses Malachi 3:3 says: "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."   It refers to the way a silversmith knows the item is pure...when he can see himself in it.  So when I feel like I've been "in the fire" for a long time, I think about two things: first, God will pull me out and when He does, I'll be more like Him than when I went in the fire; second, the silversmith never takes his eyes off the silver - not even for a second until it's finished.  He sits there really close to the fire himself, watching me the entire time.

So back to the way I started this post...
the one song that always gets me is this one:

REFLECTION (from Disney's Mulan)

Look at me
I will never pass for a perfect bride
Or a perfect daughter
Can it be
I'm not meant to play this part?
Now I see
That if I were truly to be myself
I would break my fam'ly's heart

Who is that girl I see
Staring straight
Back at me?
Why is my reflection someone
I don't know?
Somehow I cannot hide
Who I am
Though I've tried
When will my reflection show
Who I am inside?
When will my reflection show
Who I am inside?

I think a lot of women feel this way; I've felt this way most of my life.  
remember being surprised in college to realize my age hadn't really changed my perspective all that much.  There were times when I felt just as much the scared, shy little girl as I had at 6.
But I know, somewhere, under all the "LIFE HAPPENINGS" I'm clothed in, is the real me - His Creation.  The one He will see His reflection in someday.  The one He will welcome home; call by name; say "well done, my good and faithful servant" to.  
I just have to keep reminding myself that no matter how bumpy the journey, the 
reward of the destination is more than worth it!