Thursday, March 31, 2011

The House that Built Me(for MamaKat's Writers Workshop)

Since I am a country music fan, the first thing this prompt made me think of was Miranda Lambert’s song of the same title.  As I thought on it this week, I came to some conclusions about the real house that built me.
In the song, the main character is returning to her childhood home where someone else now lives.  She gets permission to enter and walk through the house, a re-run of memories playing through her mind as she visits each room.
The song has touched me since the first time I heard it.
I guess with age I just get more and more emotional about the family I have and the love that they have always had for me.  The fact that, even when I didn’t want to believe it, I KNEW they only wanted the best for me because they loved me.   In addition, I know they had hard decisions to make as parents.  As a parent myself now, I grow to appreciate my parents, their love, and their sacrifices more everyday. I know now that the hardships we may have experienced as a family and any conflicts we had along the way, have only served to make me a stronger person and give us a stronger bond.
Unlike the singer/ songwriter, I can go back “HOME.” My parents built the house where I was raised and we moved into it when I was 3.  They still live there today with a few minor renovations. 
Also in the song, she talks about a brokenness in herself that needs healing and how she lost herself out in the world.  I think that’s true for all of us.  We all leave home at some point to make our own way.  For me it was leaving for college; knowing full well I would never be back to live in that tiny town permanently again.  It was by my design that I did not return.
Now don’t get me wrong, HOME is still only an hour away.  It’s one of those things like, “so close, but still so far.” Some days I wish home were “down the road a bit” instead of down the road an hour.  At times I wonder if I made a mistake not returning to the town I still think of as HOME.
Maybe. Maybe Not.
That brings me to my conclusions about the house that built me.  See, it wasn’t really a house that built me.  Just like a church isn’t a building; it’s the people and the spirit inside that make it matter.  The people living in the house that built me are what make me matter.
I am so blessed to have known boundaries and discipline.  It made me a better person and a better parent.
I am so grateful to have had parents that taught me to work hard for what I wanted and needed.  They rarely gave anything outright.  I worked part-time to pay insurance and gas on the car they allowed me to drive. I spent my entire 18 to 22 years at home without either a phone or a tv in my bedroom.
AND I’m SO GLAD.  What did I miss? What will my kids miss when I carry through on the same with them?  In this case, it may make my job as a parent a little harder, but for good cause J
I am so grateful that I grew up in a home where my parents kissed, hugged, held hands, said “I Love You,” and even argued in front of us.  I always knew where they stood- with each other and with us.  It showed me what I wanted in a husband and family.  It showed me the reality of a life-long commitment.  It showed me the bumps in the road.  There’s nothing worse than going into something like marriage with unfair and unrealistic expectations!
So the house that built me isn’t.  It isn’t the house- the bricks, the boards, the physical location of the place. If Mom and Dad moved tomorrow, wherever they went would be home.  They built me. They did a good job.  I may not be perfect, but who is?
I spent a lot of my life ”trying to figure out who I was supposed to be.” It feels a lot freer to simply accept that I’ve always been just that.  I know what I am not and unfortunately in life, we sometimes get close up examples of what we don’t want to be or become.  Life is so much easier when you just say, “this is who I am.  This is where I come from.  Yes, those are mistakes I made, but by golly, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today without them.”  Thank you, God, for giving me parents who instilled such great qualities in me, but let me make my own mistakes.

"By the Grace of God I am what I am." 1 Cor 15:10 (NKJV)

Thursday, March 24, 2011


This week, I chose to write a poem about Hope for Mama Kat's writer's workshop.
Hope carries different meanings for all of us, I'm sure.  For me, it has so many meanings and so many purposes I find it hard to put it into words. It's my desire that I've done it justice!

Happy Heart
Offers Cheer
Purely Joyful
Expelling Fear

Honest Heart
Open Wide
Perfect Peace
Endures Inside

Hopeful Heart
Obedient, giving
Professing His Goodness
Eternally Living

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's the little things...

How many time have you heard the question, “What is the meaning of life”?
Do you think it’s some BIG, DEEP purpose that we are supposed to figure out while we’re here?
If so, then how would we LIVE the meaning of life before we die? ‘Cause you know some of us might never figure it out, some might not care, some think they already know and stop looking.

So this is not some deep post where I tell you I KNOW the meaning of life…to the contrary.  I have no idea what THE meaning of life is, or even if there is just one meaning or purpose or whatever.
I do know, it’s the little things, not the big things, that GIVE LIFE MEANING.
It’s my baby boy, not really a baby anymore, who still says, “hold me, Mommy!”
It’s his insanely long eyelashes brushing my cheek and neck as he snuggles into me.
It’s how he gives me Eskimo kisses and says, “nosey, nosey, nosey” as he does.
It’s the love notes my daughter writes me…the rainbows she draws me.
The times when either of the kids laughs out loud in their sleep.
The times my husband makes me so mad I just want to knock him out, but when I turn to look at him, he makes me laugh instead.

And I am so incredibly grateful for and blessed by these little things.  They happen every day and many days get taken for granted.  How dare I tell my baby I can’t hold him right now because I have work to do?? How much longer will he ask??
I should really take more pictures right? Because I just can’t help but preserve that sweet angelic face looking up at me!  And I want to give more hugs and kisses to all my family members, Eskimo or otherwise.  I want to wrap my kids up so tight, they can’t get any bigger (and I do tell them this often).  
I wish I would bottle my husband’s smile! It is truly the greatest smile in the world and I really think if the sun went out tomorrow, his smile could light my world!
Only God could know how much I needed this in a mate and send him right to me.

I am grateful, so grateful for today and all the yesterdays and all the tomorrows I am privileged to share with them.
Who and what are you grateful for?

Monday, March 21, 2011

is grace measured by fear?

Is my personal level of grace measured by my personal level of fear? Or is fear measured by grace?
2 Tim. 1:7 tells us, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (KJV)
That means a spirit of fear comes from un-Godly sources, and in my opinion, Satan.  I know I shouldn't be fearful.  I know I should trust God for the best outcome, even if it isn't what I WANT to be the outcome.
But still, I am scared. I am TERRIFIED!
I am scared of all the unknowns.  I'm hopeful the Doctors are wrong, but I'm scared that they're right.  I'm scared they are wrong but in a bad way and that Mom has less time than they say, not more. I'm scared of losing my Mom.  I'm scared my kids will not have their Grandmother around for all the milestones they'll want to share with her later in life. I'm scared that if they aren't even teens when she leaves us, that they might forget her a few years after she's gone.
I realize that many of these feelings are borderline irrational. And all of them are selfish! I don't want to be selfish and I don't want to be afraid.  In fact, I HATE fear, and I hate being fearful.  Hate is a strong emotion and a strong word and I don't use it lightly~that's what I tell my kids, too.
I want to be hopeful, I want to be prayerful.  I want to be filled with God's perfect peace.  I want to be full of grace, which ultimately comes from Him.
And since that was my original purpose for starting this blog, I'm guessing you guys are going to see a journey towards grace that none of us expected! So maybe this is an opportunity: at least an opportunity for personal growth, and at best, an opportunity for achieving grace.
And for that, I am grateful.
I am grateful that God gave me the parents I have to love and be loved by for as long as we are all here on earth.  I am grateful that we all believe and look forward to eternity together with God.  I am grateful for a Mom who taught me so many things, not the least of which is how to find the good in every situation (though sometimes we find it in hindsight, far removed from the struggle).   I am grateful.
I strive to be more grateful everyday.
Thank you for reading and please know I value your feedback.  Words of wisdom, hope, prayers, all are welcome in my comments section.
Thanks for stopping by and go with grace~

Friday, March 18, 2011

A (Different) Love Story

Well I had no intentions of waiting this long to blog again and here it is Thursday!? How did it get to be Thursday March 17th?
Anyway, I read and reread Mama Kat's writing prompts over and over again and none struck me as a "must write"- until today.
So this is going to be my unconventional Love Story (at least as far as most interpretations of the prompt) because it's about my Mom.
My Mom is someone I have admired for most of my life, although most of my adolescent years I would never have admitted it to anyone! FOR. ANY. REASON! I mean parents aren't cool, right! I never had a "BFF" relationship with my Mom either; looking back, I'm great with that.  Now that I'm a Mom I realize, God didn't give them to me to friend, He gave them to me to parent!
But back to my point about admiring my Mom...she has always been a hard worker, a perfectionist, the one going the extra mile to get it right.  She married young, never planning to attend college, but then put herself through undergrad and a Masters degree.  By the time she graduated undergrad, there were three of us and she was about 30.
But Mom didn't stop there, she kept going for the higher degrees- for the credentials that would help her do what she loved. Often working a part-time job in addition to taking care of us and taking classes. She got her Master's in English and used that to teach both high school and college, but she really wanted her Master's in Spanish.
Mom is a fluent Spanish speaker.  Might not seem like a big deal until you see her/ us.  We are as white as white can be, from a very small town in NC (my hubby calls us hicks).  Mom didn't take much, if any, foreign language in high school, but most of it in college.  AFTER SHE WAS A MOM. After she was older than all the other students in her classes. When it was probably much harder to learn because we all know, the older you get, the more challenging some things are.
But again, Mom didn't stop there; she is primarily responsible for an entire Hispanic ministry at our small hometown church.  Before there were any Spanish speaking Pastors (or staff) she was the Hispanic Sunday School teacher and pastor.  She even translated sermons into headphones the Hispanic congregation could wear during worship.  Of the cuff, most of the time; on the spot translating! If it came out of the preacher's mouth, she was spitting it out of hers a few nano-seconds later, only in Spanish.

Mom really did show me that you are never too old to chase and catch a dream.  She taught me about overcoming excuses (either the ones we place on ourselves, or those we get handed). She always tried to teach me that what other people think doesn't matter, but when someone hurt my feelings, she often cried too.
This is just the tip of the iceberg with my Mom.  I do admire her a lot. Despite most of us not wanting to become our Mother, I hope in a lot of ways I can grow to be more like her.

But this week I found out my time is very limited with Mom.  There's a lot of history to it, but on Monday, Mom was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension.  If you haven't heard of it, you aren't alone; google it and you'll know why most of the family are freaking out.  It's not good- it's terminal and incurable.  Treatments are available, but in many cases only serve to prolong the inevitable and make the patient comfortable. They rate it in stages, 1, 2, 3, and 4 much like cancer and other terminal illnesses.  Based on her symptoms, Mom is most likely stage 3.    AND she most likely has PRIMARY Pulmonary Hypertension, of which the cause is unknown. Only 2 in a million patients are diagnosed with this annually.

My Mom is 54.  Statistically, she may not be here for her 59th birthday. She may not be here to see her grandkids grow up.  She may not ever see my baby brother get married.  She may not be around if he ever has kids.

Selfishly, I am screaming internally, "Mom, please don't leave me! It's not time yet! I can't do life without you!" But in a few short years, I may have to do just that.

So, I think a NEW LOVE STORY starts for us now.  I have a whole lot of loving to do before she leaves.
I love you, Mom!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Random Tuesday Thoughts? Not so much!

So I was going to try my hand at random Tuesday Thoughts, because let's face it, my life is pretty random! Well I don't know about you, but I think it's really cool when there seems to be an interlocking theme to things, sort of by accident (although I don't really believe in those). Here's some sort of random things from today and then you'll see where I'm going with this.
I have a weight problem.  To make a long story short, I'm a very busy Mom of a 6 year old soccer player and a 2 year old son who currently climbs the walls at home with me (quite literally some days).  In addition, I have a weekly Bible Study and voice lessons that I attend for myself.  I also have a home based business which I work very hard to succeed at, and, if I do say so myself, it's going quite well for someone who never saw herself as the "pushy home-party lady" (and thank God I am not that person).  But that comment right there in parentheses brings me to part of my point: we all form those snap judgements about others and it really isn't fair, is it?
So anyway, the other part of my point here is that my "busy-ness" has long been an excuse for my weight.  And really, obesity, is a better word because that's what I am.  I am more than 30 pounds overweight, more likely at least 50 pounds overweight.  BUT I'M REALLY BUSY! I am not lazy, but I don't turn every movement into an exercise either! Chasing my 2 year old son around the house should count, but alas, for me and my tortoise-paced-metabolism, it is not enough.  I have always hated that stigma about overweight people being lazy, but I admit I have been guilty of that thought in the past. Even my husband pretty much thinks that all overweight people can be thin with exercise (don't even get me started on that one!).
Really, the bigger issue than what I eat, how much I eat, and how much I do or do not exercise, is HOW I eat (or at least how I ate until about 4 weeks ago).  Since I became a Mom, I learned that as much as I LOVE my kids, I don't love jumping up and down 50 times during my meal.  I learned whether I work hard to prepare a meal or someone prepares it for me, I want to enjoy it while it's hot.  I have learned my least favorite words to hear when that meal is in front of me and hot, are "MOOOM! I have to go to the bathroom!" OR, "MOOOM! I need more milk." OR "MOOOM! I dropped my spoon!"
Somewhere along the way, I just started shoving it in as fast as I could so that I would actually get to eat.  Forget slowing down to taste it, slowing down to let my stomach realize it's been fed, slowing down to think about whether what I just ate was one serving or two! I am changing this but it's a slow process...
In addition to already being overweight, eating in public is fodder for serious self-consciousness! I really worry about what people think when they see me eating.  Are they analyzing my food choices? Does the waitress have an internal dialog going about whether or not I should or shouldn't be eating what I've ordered?
BUT you know what? I'm with Jen over at mommamadeitlookeasy.  No matter what, IT IS NOT OK to make fun of, make jokes about, or make mean comments or assumptions about ANYONE, ANYTIME, EVER! It's not fair!
Because I am not my weight! I am not just some fat lady assumed to be lazy!
Get to know me! You'll see a loyal, kind-hearted person who loves helping others and wears her heart on her sleeve.  You'll see a wife and a mother who tries really hard to please the people I love all the time.  You'll see that I over-commit myself and sign myself up for way more than one person can reasonably do in a day, but I do it for good reason- I do it out of love.  
Today, if you had seen me with my wild animals children in Staples, you might not have seen the me that's kind! I mean, really, I wanted to hurt them! It was insane! My kids were so bad and I was so embarrassed, that I cried on the way home.  Sweetpea knew it was because of them. She asked me why I was crying but then whispered to her little brother, "we made Mommy cry."
But there it is again: I was embarrassed because I knew what other customers were thinking.  I knew they were rushing to judgement about the kind of person and Mother I am.  Some were likely thinking I needed more patience with my kids, because they were just being kids (those people didn't know how many of my buttons had been pushed before Staples). I felt like a bad Mama.
BUT HERE'S MY POINT: WE HAVE TO STOP THIS! We all have to stop this.  We have to stop allowing ourselves to even think those kind of things about another person.  We have to stop saying them to that person or anyone else. AND JUST BECAUSE YOU TRY TO MAKE IT FUNNY, DOESN'T MEAN IT'S A JOKE! Our kids learn from us! I want to my kids to learn how to be kind, uplifting individuals who stand up for what's right! I want them to stand up for others who don't, won't, or can't stand up for themselves.
This isn't just about bullying, it's about compassion.  Because what I feel when someone gives me "that look" that says I shouldn't be eating THAT, is a terrible feeling! I would never want to inflict that pain on someone else- would you?
Really- think about it.
I'm going to practice more compassion for people I don't know- how about you?
(and, YES, I really want you to answer :-))

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A hard thing to say to yourself...

Well I guess there are lots of hard things to say to oneself since it is most difficult sometimes to be honest with ourselves, but my title here refers to the words, "I'm Proud of You!"
It's not something I think or say to myself often, but in an effort to think more positively I've thought about it a lot lately.
One of MamaKat's writing prompts a week or so ago was titled, "lesson learned." So I have spent some time thinking on that, even though I didn't write on it. There is also a Carrie Underwood song called Lessons Learned. I am grateful that in most cases I learn a lesson from a rough experience and try not to repeat it.  So that leads me to my story...
Some of you know I have a home based party business.  In a lot of ways, it's changed my life and it's changed me for the better.  I have experienced so much personal growth through the experience that I cannot imagine ever NOT doing it.  It helps me feel fulfilled on top of all the other things I have going on as a wife, mother, soccer mom, student, daughter, sister, friend.
A few years ago a new representative moved into the area and began attending the same monthly meetings I went to.  The first time I met her we immediately hit it off and became fast friends.  We started talking daily, our kids were playing together, and we just hung out A LOT! It was a new experience for me since I rarely have that gal-pal that I refer to as a "best friend."  You've heard me say (or read where I've said) I'm that chick who has one or two good friends, but never this huge pool of confidants.
As I started to get to know this girl, I'll call her Kasey, I began to realize she wasn't as perfect as I thought.  For example, she really treated her husband very poorly.  I mean just totally did and said everything a wife shouldn't say if she wants the hubby to stick around!  In addition to that, I started to realize Kasey was very self-centered; everything, I mean EVERYTHING, was about her.  She could take something someone said and turn it into something about her when anyone else could plainly see otherwise.
Instead of dwelling on this, I really tried to be a good friend; I tried to help her.  I sort of took her under my wing business-wise, treating her like a new member of my team.  I spent time giving her business advice, training her, and giving her the same attention a new rep. on my team would get from me, only there was really no benefit to me.  BUT there was.  It felt good to help someone else and have them come back and say, "I tried what you said and it worked!" That was it- my only motivation and the fact that she was my friend and I wanted her to be successful. She was also very grateful and complimented me often on the way I conducted my business.  She told me I was a hard-worker and that I deserved all the good that came my way, plus some.
So anyway, time goes by, our friendship surpassed the year mark.  Kasey told me one day that she was going to have to put her youngest child into daycare and seek full time employment.  She seemed pretty upbeat about it, but concerned about some debt she and her husband had to pay off.  Her words were something to the effect that she felt lucky to have been a stay-at-home Mom for 18 months, but now her family needed her to work.  I asked her where that would leave her party business and her reply was that she would still continue it.
One day shortly after this,  I had to call Kasey with an uncomfortable topic of conversation.  At a recent party of my own, I had met a new party host.  For two weeks or more, I planned this new host's party with her; I gave her the usual tips and asked the usual questions.  About a week before her planned party, she called to say she was ready to sign up- she wanted to join my team.  I continued to help her plan for a successful party and in a few more days she confessed to me she knew another rep. from my company.  What do you know- it was Kasey!? It turns out Kasey met this host at a vendor fair a few months earlier and knew she might want to host a party.  So Kasey proceeded to call this lady EVERY day, or almost everyday trying to get her to schedule.  I'm not sure why Kasey did this because I don't conduct my business so that I bug the heck out of anyone and I never suggest to any of my team members that they do that either!
But anyway, this host didn't schedule a party with Kasey because she felt pushed.  I legitimately met her at a party she attended with a friend and she decided to host because she really wanted a product on sale for hosts the next month.
When I told Kasey about this host, I held back the part where the host said she felt pushed because I didn't want to hurt Kasey's feelings.   I was very honest otherwise.  I told her exactly when I met this person, how long we'd been planning the party, and that the host waited until the previous day to tell me she knew Kasey.
I'm sure you can guess what came next...Kasey went nuts! She told me I was conniving and that it was obvious I would do anything to get ahead in this business including stepping on others!
So here's what I'm proud of about the way I handled this:

When we hung up, I never reached out to her again.  I think she knew she was one of few good friends for me.  I think she thought I would apologize and "beg her back" even though I hadn't done anything wrong.  But I didn't, and I'm proud of that.
A week or two later, there was a message on my voicemail with an apology from her accepting full responsibility for what happened. I'm not sure I believed her.  She had plenty of friends, she didn't need me, and to be honest, I didn't want to reconvene our friendship constantly wondering when it would happen again.
While I lost a friend, I learned some valuable lessons.  It might have been my first lesson in what grace really means when extended from one person to another.  I did extend her grace, though she didn't deserve it.  I don't say that to brag, but I am proud.  I'm proud that I did what was right even when she tried to make it wrong.  I'm proud that I didn't sacrifice myself to return to a toxic friendship.  I'm proud that I treated her kindly when I could have yelled back.
Part of the definition of grace includes the word "undeserved." God extended it to us through his son and I really want to better extend it to everyone I come into contact with.  Mostly, I want to show grace to my loved ones everyday, because they DO deserve it!