Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Mercy



Today is my favorite day of the year...Ash Wednesday!  That may seem a bit odd when most would answer with Christmas, birthday, anniversary or other equally momentous day.  I look forward to Ash Wednesday with the anticipation young children have for Christmas. When I was young, this day didn't even register as a blip on my radar so why is it so significant to me? It's not just today, it's what today represents--the beginning of Lent, 40 days which might not seem like much but those 40 days can be transformational.
Last night moments before 11, I drifted off to sleep flat on my back; when I woke at 4:57 a.m. I was in the same position as was the blanket and pillows.  I hadn't moved.  By some miracle, I was wide awake and felt extremely refreshed. I woke with a clarity that surprised me as I was "zapped" with visions (for lack of a better word) of a family who needs a prayer today and a friend who is having surgery today.  I spent some time praying and listening.  Words began to flood through my mind for this blog entry and I felt compelled to begin writing and reading about Ash Wednesday and Lent trying to come up with the perfect words to relay to you why today is so important to me. I came across this word describing the season of Lent: MERCY! I've always felt that Lent was a time of preparation, self denial, self sacrifice, and reflection for Jesus' ultimate death and resurrection-an almost somber time with great celebration at the end!  But mercy...mercy is what it is really about.  God through his Son showing the most incredible act of compassion and forgiveness~mercy~when it was within His almighty power to punish instead.

For a few months now I've been meeting at FUMC Bentonville on Wednesday evenings with a group of dynamic young ladies.  I've always said I "don't like kids" but these ladies are different.  They talk, share, eagerly listen and seem to absorb information (and text their grandma's) every week!!  While I may be their adult leader it is really they who have taught me.  As they allow me glimpses into their daily lives, friendships and families I have the opportunity to realize just how different life really is for teenagers today. As adults we tend to minimize the struggles teens face and suggest our own teenage years were far more trying.  Until you sit in a room with kids every week and listen to their stories you have no idea!  These kids need Ash Wednesday and Lent!!!!  They need mercy!!! The weight that rests upon these sweet shoulders is more than many adults could carry.  As parents, teachers, leaders and mentors we need to strive to show compassion to the teens in our lives.  When the teens are short with us, tired, frustrated, withdrawn, acting out, etc. maybe instead of punishing them we need to look deeper and look for the real answer.  Grades, bullying, peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, making the team-choir-orchestra, being the best and even living up to OUR expectations are all creating a huge amount of stress on our kids. I know I am guilty.  If God/Jesus/Holy Spirit could show compassion to all of humanity then surely we can show mercy to those we love.
This isn't the first year I've been compelled to blog on Ash Wednesday or about Lent. (You can read them here or here.) My young ladies have no idea how much they are on my heart every day.  We have been learning each week about influential woman from the bible-Deborah and her STRENGTH, Puah & Shiphrah with their BRAVERY, Martha & Mary reminding us while WORK is important it is also vital that we LISTEN & LEARN, Esther who was very QUICK WITTED to save her people, Priscilla who shows us that TACT is an important means of communication, and RUTH-oh sweet Ruth with her LOVE and DEVOTION.  This week we are going to do something just a little bit different, I am writing letters to my young ladies because I am honored each week to be influenced by a modern day Deborah, Puah/Shiphrah, Mary, Martha, Esther, Ruth and Priscilla!  In their honor my Lenten goal for transformation is to be more merciful-to my Handsome husband, my beautiful Angel girls, my parents, my siblings, my extended family, friends and even strangers.







Thursday, February 1, 2018

Your assignment...

"When I look at who I am, I have to look at who you are.   
If you are hurting, I am hurting.  
We are community."
~D. Martin


Facebook sometimes a faithful friend, sometimes a nemesis.  A few weeks ago I saw a post when it was bitterly cold showing pictures of a homeless camp right here in Bentonville! This is the text accompanying the pictures:

Today I am feeling disgust , anger, sadness and fed up. Friends in Bentonville we must demand a change in our community! We have an awesome Salvation Army on I st. Did you know that it must be below 29 degrees for the shelter to open during the day?! Did you know it must be below 34 degrees for the shelter to open the overflow for anyone to stay?! Did you know WE don't have a day shelter in BENTONVILLE?! Did you know the closest bus stop to the shelter is 1.3 miles?! Did you know I have an awesome 78 yr old MOM ?! My mom has two homeless boys she has devoted her life to over the past couple of years. My mom can hardly access our mental health system to get what these boys need. My mom has the flu but took in one of her boys for a few days while he got over a chest cold. She had 4 meetings scheduled for them this week trying to fight for disability, housing and mental health. One lived with her for a year and she fought to get the system to assist him during that time. Craziness!!! Bentonville friends we need a day shelter with mental health and housing social workers. We are a community that is ignoring what people need if they are to be productive! I have attached photos of a BENTONVILLE homeless camp. 


It quickly went viral and soon there was a group wanting to know what they could do.  The woman who posted and a few of her friends set up an event to better inform and collect some supplies for the homeless. I was one of the horrified community members who eagerly attended and listened.  I was shocked to learn that so far in this school year over 500 Bentonville kids have experienced homelessness at some point.  I heard stories about actual families who have gone from having homes to being homeless.  I learned about kids and families who "couch hop" sleeping in homes of friends and acquaintances to get by. I was almost overwhelmed thinking there was nothing I could do to help these people and feeling a bit guilty that I didn't feel a huge tug to get in there and work to conquer the homeless situation.  

Debbie, from Havenwood spoke first and last, in her closing she shared a saying she'd heard, "God gives you two things that are unique to you and that no one can take from you.  He gives you your name and your assignment.  Each one is different and unique and no one can do the assignment the way it was designed but you."  She closed by encouraging us to find our assignment regardless of where it is and do it to the best of our ability.

Finding my assignment, well here I am at 48 and other than being a wife and mom I'm not really sure what my assignment is yet.  I took a course on becoming a death doula, while it was great and I'm very encouraged by the work they do, at this point in my life I'm not emotionally capable. I've volunteered in a variety of areas in our community and felt fulfilled but not really passionate.  What is wrong with me?

Before Christmas I ran across something, again in my Facebook newsfeed, I saw this ad:
I went to the site and read about it and promptly went on about my day.  Later it was there in my newsfeed again.  I visited Google and Amazon reading reviews and felt led to buy a copy for me and one for my oldest daughter.  A few weeks ago, I set out to begin the adventure of finding my Wonder Life and I couldn't do it alone.  I noticed that they have online support communities and strongly encourage in person groups so I searched for one here in my town because I really wanted a personal connection.

For some reason I felt led to share a link to this book with a friend.  You know what?  She BOUGHT a copy!  She's going to share it with the ladies at our church so we can have our own little "wonder group!"  I'm really excited and looking forward to finding my crazy blessed assignment!!

"If we all gave people access to our excess, together we could make a huge difference in the world." J. Bachmayer

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Alike

Our youngest daughter shoots competitively...BB guns, .22, shotgun, muzzleloader, etc. Last night was the huge fundraising banquet for the kids.  The people in our club come from all walks of life and they're all good people.  As parents we have the opportunity to be on our feet all evening at different places working to make things run smoothly.   Of course that provides the chance for us to talk and get to know know another a little bit better.  I'm known at the club as the "liberal." The one who voted for Hillary.  It was no surprise that for my shoe choice last night I selected my Pride Chuck Taylor's!  I mean, who really looks at your feet; it's my small way to show my belief.  Last night I had two conversations that really stood out and both reminded me exactly how crazy blessed I am!


The first conversation began very casually because our kids attend a local church youth group together and I understood their family had left the church (that particular congregation has posted the "no guns" signs).  This parent went on to explain that it wasn't just the no guns but it was also the fact that said congregation was too "liberal" in their teaching and beliefs.  They went on to explain all the things they disagreed with.  I stood there listening with the occasional "yeah," "uh-huh," or "that must have been really hard for you."  After finishing, they asked about my church, my response was, "if their church was too liberal for you then you probably shouldn't stop at our church."  I casually stuck out my foot and glanced down at my shoes, he responded with "Oh, I see." I don't think any less of this parent, I simply reserve the right to believe differently.

 The next conversation was a little different.  This parent mentioned that they had been on the road during their Sunday services so they listened to the live stream.  Their pastor had spoken based on a passage in Acts, he told his congregation that, "if we as Christians are better known for what we are against or who we don't like or things we disagree with than who we help or what we do for our community or how we love others there is a problem."  I chuckled in total agreement.  We can raise our children to be positive, Godly people without them being derogatory or hateful to anyone.  We continued to visit about respecting differences and loving all, striving to quietly live so when others see Jesus in us, they'll want the peace, love and joy (shalom even) that we have in our lives.

I love these folks, alike. We continued to spend the rest of the evening working, alike. We will journey toward our common goal, alike. We will be good, honest, hardworking people, alike. In the end, it's not about liberal, progressive, conservative, democrat, tea party, republican, black, white, gay, straight, Baptist, Methodist, Muslim, Jew or any other descriptions that emphasize our differences. It is about the fact we are humanity, persons all living together on this planet, finding commonality in our differences and accepting we all have the right to exist...coexist.  If we're here together we should strive to love, even when we don't believe alike.  We are all crazy blessed, alike.

"Our world is like a puzzle, if we don't accept the differences between us...we will never be able to achieve peace."


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Too Much Jesus

I know, I know...you're probably thinking there's no way you can have too much Jesus!  You're probably right.  Just give me a few minutes to explain my phraseology and perhaps then you'll understand.

This weekend I was crazy blessed to attend the memorial services for my cousin, Susie Been. 
Somehow attending her services really drove home to me the fact that I know many of my friends far better than I know most of my relatives.  Some of my relatives I know very well, I'm pretty sure the face they show me is far different than the face their friends see.  I'm left wondering which is the real them....Susie was my friend on Facebook, I saw her a couple of times a year but that's it.  I loved her lots and always thought she was a fabulous, generously loving and genuinely kind individual.  When the pastor opened up for personal eulogies, I was so excited to hear people express sentiments about the exact same Susie that I knew!!  She was an amazing woman and when you looked at her you felt the face of Jesus in her every action and word.  She lived up to the challenge of being His hands and feet here on earth.
 
It seems anymore that "Jesus" is somewhat trendy.  You see crosses on everything from ripped jeans and phone cases to dog leashes and water bottles.  People are wearing Jesus everywhere but somehow I don't see His face in very many of them.  I'm honestly not meaning to judge but let me give you an example of missing his face in spite of 'too much Jesus.'  A few years ago we were on a homeschool field trip with a religious homeschool group (I usually avoid them like the plague).  This particular field trip involved several hundred students from homeschool and public school.  It was a great day and the venue had worked hard establishing the groups and how we would cycle through them.  My kids dipped candles, washed clothes on a washboard, sat in an old fashion one room school room, learned about some time period work trades, etc.  The negative of the day was NOT the public school kids, who all really know how to stand in a line and follow directions, it WAS the one mom from the homschool group with "too much Jesus."  Her ringtone was Our God Is An Awesome God and her ringer was on super loud,  it must've rang a dozen times that day.  Each time it was in her Jesus bling purse and she had to dig for it pretending each time to apologize.  Each time interrupting a speaker or presentation, her circle of friends acted like it was just fine-I was mortified as a homeschool mom and as a christian.

When Jesus roamed this earth, he didn't have a giant "J" bedazzled on his robe or demand lots of rubles for his time .  His followers didn't sport "team Jesus" on their sandals.  After He died for us, they didn't tattoo a cross on their arm or brand one onto their donkeys' ass.  They lived and breathed the message, they were his hands and feet.  They did for others quietly and almost anonymously. 

Back to Susie's services.  The pastor, Brother Been was 97 and has been leading that particular Pentecostal church for 67 years!  Each sentence ended with an amen or a hallelujah; it was a true celebration of life, not preaching her into heaven because she'd done the work herself.  Near the end of his message, in a soft voice he said, "We serve a handicapped God."  I was stunned.  I looked around and there were no strange expressions I thought perhaps no one heard him.  He again repeated, "WE SERVE A HANDICAPPED GOD, AMEN?!?!?!"  The congregation shouts AMEN and he continues "He relies on us to be his hands and feet, we are humans and the biggest handicap of all!!!  Amen....Hallelujah!"  Talk about humbling.  We who he loves so much handicap him because we fail him every day because we don't do the work of his hands and feet.  People look at us and see our bling but does our bling prevent others from seeing his reflection in our hearts.

One more story, once upon a time I wanted a Jesus fish (Ichthus) on my car-everyone was doing it.  You'd see entire fish families.  When I expressed my desire to Handsome his response was simple, "Honey you realize that's a big responsibility."  ????WHAT do you mean?????  "If you have that fish on the car, it's a symbol that you're a Christian-are you willing to drive like a Christian all the time?  No speeding, no cutting people off, no gestures?"  I realized I wasn't worthy of a Jesus fish on my car because I'm human and there is no way I'm capable of representing his love 24/7-I fail him.  I am his handicap.

Wear your cross, put that fish on your car but remember the most important Jesus you have is the one who lives in your heart-the one that others can only see when you show the same unconditional love he shows you, behaving as the good Samaritan and striving to do the work of his hands and feet until he returns.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Community Garden or Townhouses???

***If you have already seen this blog, please scroll to the bottom for an UPDATE***

Today my heart is heavy and it's really my own fault.  There is a strip of land, 2.6 beautiful acres with grass, trees and a drainage "creek" running through it.  I've been coveting it for a long time.  The other day my Handsome husband asked me if I'd started a campaign or shared my vision with anyone...sadly my answer was no.  This is my story, my prayer, my plea.

I've always been a gardener.  Some of my earliest memories are planting seeds and picking fresh veggies from our family garden.  A few years ago I first heard about the concept of community gardens and during the last year I've had the opportunity to visit Tri Cycle Farms in Fayetteville on several occasions for tours and workshops their motto is SHARE 1/3 (with volunteers) GIVE 1/3 (to food pantries) and SELL 1/3 (to sustain the farm).  It is an incredible oasis in the middle of a busy area they are striving to reduce food insecurity for persons within a 2-3 mile circle of their location.  In my heart, I've been praying for that 2.6 acres that run along Highway 72 (2nd Street) and Elm Tree that some how it would be a community garden.  That's where my failure comes in.  I have the faith-praying diligently every day but I failed to implement the other part of Christianity-WORKS.



Food insecurity is a very real problem.  Were you aware that Arkansas has the 2nd highest rate of food insecurity in the United States; 20% of Arkansans don't know where their next meal will come from.  And Northwest Arkansas leads the state in food insecurity in Benton & Washington counties 1 in 4 are food insecure.  What is food insecurity?  It is the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Right here in Benton County there are more than 30 locations you can reach out to if you are in need of food.  Our church in Centerton is home to H2O (Help to Others) Food Pantry which serves on average of 175-200 persons EACH WEEK! Half or more are Senior Citizens or Children! When we had a neighborhood food drive a couple of years ago, I was shocked that many of the residents had no idea there was a food pantry in Centerton, let alone the need for one!

 Last year I attended a meeting held at the Benton County Extension Office hosted by Susan Pickle, she was evaluating how her office serves the community currently and reaching out to the community for suggestions of ways they could better serve them. There were people from a variety of walks of life at this meeting-educators, parents, credit counseling, etc. and I learned that there are many families who do not get the free or reduced lunches because they either don't understand the program or they don't want to share their income information to receive the lunches.

District wide in Bentonville (where the average income is $71,461) the number of children receiving FREE lunches is 3,152 and the number receiving REDUCED cost lunches is 930.  The combined total makes up 25% of the number of children enrolled in the Bentonville School District. The "neighborhood" school for the Orchards Subdivision is Ardis Ann Middle School-home to 5th and 6th graders.  They have 687 students as of today and 146 of them receive free lunch, another 56 receive lunch at a reduced cost. (More than 25% of the school population)  According to the USDA
Any child at a participating school may purchase a meal through the National School Lunch Program. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the poverty level are eligible for free meals. Those with incomes between 130 percent and 185 percent of the poverty level are eligible for reduced‐price meals, for which students can be charged no more than 40 cents. (For the period July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014, 130 percent of the poverty level is $30,615 for a family of four; 185 percent is $43,568 .)
In our community where affluence seems to be the norm we must realize that it isn't!  Tonight I am attending a meeting at the Burnett Real Estate Team office located at 1011 N. Walton Blvd. at 6:00pm. about a companies desire to build townhouses at my coveted corner.  Wouldn't it be nice if this land could remain natural?  Wouldn't it be nice if the children walking home from school could stop in and pick some fresh produce on their way home and pull a few weeds.  Giving them a sense of community, a sense of pride, a feeling of ownership.

I wish I would have gotten busy working to turn this....

This is the property at Hwy 72 & Elm Tree





Into this...
This is TriCycle Farm in Fayetteville located at Garland & Sycamore.

















****UPDATE****

Yesterday I received this note from a neighbor whose property backs up to the strip mentioned above:

Great blog Dana!! Currently the property is zoned A1 agricultural. The small clump of trees directly behind our home contains an original apple tree from the late 1800's early 1900's. The tree is in distress due to overgrowth surrounding it plus a rumor that the previous property owner tried to destroy it. If the tree could be salvaged it would make a fantastic focal point for your community garden idea.
Last night at the meeting with the developer, Tim-White Rock Investments and Cody Burnett we learned they are seeking to put 24 townhomes on that tiny property with two entrances on to busy Highway 72!  If you are inclined to keep this zoned A1-Agriculture rather than R3-Medium Density Residential, please consider one of the following:
1.  Attending the rezoning meeting on March 21st at 5:00pm held at 305 SW "A" Street, Bentonville
2.  Express your opinion in writing to the Planning Commission.  You may mail or deliver to the City of Bentonville Planning Department, 305 SW "A" Street, Bentonville, AR   72712
3.  Use the form (picture below or I can send to you as a .pdf) to express your opinion by checking the appropriate box.  (This may be delivered or mailed to the above address.)
For more information from the City you may call the Planning Department at (479) 271-3122

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Lent: Spiritual Spring Cleaning

This morning, as I was preparing to work  on my blog, I could actually hear Teyve singing "Tradition" in my head!  I may have smiled remembering a certain Angel Girl who danced behind a scrim in a land far away during a run of Fiddler on the Roof.  I love his words, "How did this tradition get started?  I don't know.  But it's a tradition and because of our tradition everyone of us know who he is and what God expects him to do. Without tradition our lives would be as shaky as a fiddler on the roof!" If you know me very well you know Lent is my favorite season of the Christian year and the traditions of Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter are so powerful and meaningful in my life.  A few years ago, I wrote a Lent blog-to this day is is the most read of all my entries.  But this year I felt a tugging on my heart to write another.

1.  I'm Sorry is going to become a phrase of the past.  When I spend more time than I planned instead of saying I'm sorry to my kids I'm going to turn it around and say, "thank you for allowing me to spend the time I needed to caring for ___________."  When I can't join a friend for coffee instead of saying I'm sorry saying "thank you so much for inviting me to join you, I'd love to join you _____ when I've got a free afternoon to enjoy our time."  Saying I'm sorry always makes me feel so guilty when I don't need to, for the next 40 days I'm focusing on GREATER POSITIVITY.

2.  Did you realize that every time you get a receipt from a store, doctor or restaurant there is a phone number on it?  You may have used it when a clerk was rude or you got poor service to call the manager and complain.  How many times have you used it to compliment?  For the next 40 days every time I receive a receipt from a business I am going to find something positive about my visit and call the manager and let them know how much I appreciate their business, an employee who was helpful or nice, how clean their bathroom was, how fresh and hot the food was or maybe you noticed a plaque or certificate for something they have done or given to the community, more thank you's might encourage them to help even more next time.  For the next 40 days I'm expressing GRATITUDE more often.

3.  A wise young lady reminded me yesterday that you can't pour from an empty pitcher.  Unfortunately I spend much of my life pouring from myself and I forget to take time for a refill.  When I do that, I take from the energy, love and time I need to spend on myself.  I wind up feeling emotionally and mentally exhausted often taking out the feelings of frustration on those I love the most-my Handsome and my Angel Girls.  For the next 40 days I'm being more GENTLE to myself and keeping my pitcher full by taking my time to recharge.  Thanks Brittany!

Together let's take the next 40 days-use them to their fullest-the true sense of the tradition of Lent which is to be a season of fasting, self-denial, spiritual growth, conversion and simplicity.  Lent comes from the Teutonic word for springtime and can be viewed as a spiritual spring cleaning: a time for taking spiritual inventory and then cleaning out the things which hinder our relationship with Jesus Christ and our service to him. ( Thank you Church Year for this great explanation.)

A while back I was a little stressed and during the night, I woke up with this prayer running through my head:  For the next 40 days, this prayer will be my plea as I seek to do a little spiritual spring cleaning and focus on the areas above reminding myself every day that I AM crazy blessed!!!!


Saturday, December 31, 2016

The good, the bad and the....joy?

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...but through it all I found joy.

Tonight, 2016 heads off the calendar and we turn a fresh page on a new year.  I have seen so many complaints about what a horrible year 2016 has been, people glad to see it go so they can have a much better year next year.  Let me tell you, I've learned a thing or two about anticipating the future...it's never what you envision it to be.
In our lives it seems we are busy.  Not the "busy" that one is to keep up with the status quo but the busy that comes from being a real family, busy that comes from caring for others.  In the fall, Jessica was wanting us to do something, I can't even remember what it was and her comment was "maybe when it slows down next week..."  Next week never came.

If you think I'm going to continue down the path with what a horrible year it's been and how I'm longing for a better year ahead you are W-R-O-N-G!  Have bad things happened in 2016, yes.  Have friends and family gone on from this life, yes.  Have I had disappointment in 2016, yes.  Have I cried more tears this year than I ever imagined, yes.  Have I seen my kids hurt, yes.  There have been horrible things happen in 2016 but there have been even more joys!

I choose joy.

I choose joy.

I choose to focus on all the good in my life.  

Me-I'm a year older and a year wiser.  I have learned to trust an entire tribe of women, we share our
ups and our downs.  One of these ladies shared yesterday that "a concern or trouble shared is DIVIDED and a joy shared is MULTIPLIED."  This came about because she wanted to buy me a cuppa coffee on my birthday and I accepted.  I know it sounds crazy but it was the first time I had ever done that; I'm usually the giver.  Alzheimer's and Vascular Dementia have both reared their ugly heads in my family and I often feel alone, very-very alone.  Dementia is a real disease but it's a mental disease so society deems it ugly and we're not allowed to talk about it until the person is so far gone they'll never know or they're dead.  The people caring for them are stressed out, often isolated and and losing their loved ones one puzzle piece at a time until they become unrecognizable.  Sounds horrible, doesn't it?  But you know what, I got to spend another year honoring them, loving them and walking with them as they journey toward the end.  I was given a refresher course in F-U-N this year when the above mentioned tribe of women invited me to an evening of crafting.  I wanted something outside the box, an anchor for HOPE. Rob (the husband who cut all our shapes) went above and beyond by drawing & cutting a beautiful wooden anchor for
me to paint, his wife bought some rope to use in the bow and Sis made me a lovely bow.  When I see my anchor I feel the strength and love of my tribe, they have no idea but they make my days a little easier knowing they are there.
Handsome-he is my rock.  He has more pain than any person deserves to endure with a degenerative back disease but he always puts me first and does so much without a complaint.  I have watched him take my Dad to OSU football games when he really should have been icing his back and taking it easy on his day off.  I see his gentle softness when he takes my Mom's arm and walks her down the aisle to communion on Sunday.   I watch him do things with the girls, making things for their rooms or taking them to a movie they want to see that he couldn't care less about.  Going to see Megan Trainor with them so I could stay in the hospital with my Mom. He's grown a tribe of his own, a great group of men who build one another up.  They work on their trucks, do things for others, build things and smoke some of the best meat I've ever had!  He listens to me when I'm hurting and holds me up when I'm feeling defeated.  Crazy blessed doesn't even begin to cover how he makes me feel!

The girls-or should I say ladies?  Have we had sass and attitude, yes.  Have we had arguments, disagreements and disobedience, yes.  Have they not done chores, assignments and things they were asked to do, yes!  But you know what, I've been blessed to watch them mature another year.  I've seen kindness to others-friends, family and strangers.  I've seen sweet Jessica go from no birthday party because I didn't know who to invite to having a hotel room full of little girls who have become "sisters."  I have watched Melissa have the best year in volleyball and be mature enough to decide to walk away so she could be more active in church and 4H.  I saw Anna graduate from college, get a job (actually 3) in the real world as she has blossomed into an incredible adult.

I choose joy.

I was disappointed with so many things in 2016-the election, actors and musicians who passed, violence in the world, construction on the highway.....but all of that is nothing when compared to the joy in my life.

What was your joy in 2016?  I bet you are crazy blessed, too!

PS A special shout out of thanks to my dear, dear friend Angie Klohn-Stieferman who has influenced me to choose joy this year.  We have been friends since the 7th grade at Etta Dale Junior High, like all friendships we've had ups and downs, good and bad but we choose joy, we choose to remember the good and consider the rest "lessons in growing up".  In 2016, she was diagnosed with Stage IV kidney cancer and she IS fighting the good fight.  Her attitude and faith are a shining beacon for me each and every day.  Her strength, her faith, her love and concern for others as she battles while #kickenfesterout is a prime example of exactly all that was good in 2016.