Thursday, December 19, 2013

Today, I almost forgot...

Today, I almost forgot how Crazy Blessed I am.
Today, I almost forgot how Crazy Blessed I am.

Can you believe that?  Me who is always reminding you to find the positive and who encourages you to look for the good in your lives.  I almost forgot how Crazy Blessed I am!!

The snow that fell a little over a week ago must have had something in it that threw some "bad juju" our way.  I'm going to go all the way back to December 13th when the cashier rang up my purchase and I noticed too late she had overcharged me by $20.  Of course I noticed after I had joked with her about my discount amount which was $6.66 and it being Friday the 13th and all.  She asked if I really believed in that stuff and I said of course not...it's been downhill ever since.

I'm not going to bore you with all the mundane things that have happened in the last week and a half because I had a strange epiphany in that same Walmart store today.  Two people were in place to totally change my attitude for the better!

Person number one-I was standing in line at the dreaded service desk to return the smashed gingerbread house (don't even ask because the incident literally made my blood boil last week).  I was standing in the outrageously long line to get my $8.97 back when I saw a familiar face head in the door.  I whistled to get her attention and she smiled and cheerily came to say hello.  Immediately she said, "I'm going to hug you because you're one of my favorite."  Wow-this woman is special to me because Anna was her very first violin student and she used to come to my house weekly to provide instruction.  I've watched her grow, raising her own daughter and now a son and to realize she thinks good things of me just made me step back and think WOW!!!  We enjoyed a quick visit then she was on her way.  I was immediately thankful for the ability to stand in a return line...remembering I'm crazy blessed.

I finished my return and the elderly door greeter offered me a cart, I gave him my best smile and took one because you never know what you might find.  I made my way back to the photo lab where there was joyfully no line!!  The girls began looking for my pictures which were ready yesterday, one remembered seeing a garden pic just this morning.  But alas they were nowhere to be found, I smiled and said you reprint them and I'll do my other shopping.  There is where I ran into...

Person number two-I've known her even longer than person one.  This lovely lady blessed me many years ago when I was a new resident in the area simply by her kind personality and warm welcome to her church.  Through the years we've bumped into each other at the store or some event with our kids she is always quick with a smile on her face.  Just yesterday on Facebook,  she was expressing how blessed she was to be able to serve benevolence at FUMC Bentonville, encouraging people to remember to share and what a difference it makes in the lives of others.  We exchanged some small talk then she asked about my friend who has had a missing daughter for 14 long months...they are still waiting for the final word about remains that were found earlier this week...then my friend said, we are so-so blessed.  I was immediately thankful that my daughters were at home, maybe arguing about what movie to watch but they were home and safe....I am crazy blessed.

As you go about the next six days and packages are late, gifts are wrong, lines are long please take a moment to just step back and count your blessings.  I am confident you will find that you too are crazy blessed and your cup will overflow with joy instead of allowing your frustration to consume you.  A huge, huge Merry Christmas to each of you because you all are one of my many crazy blessings!!!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

I'm not perfect...


Earlier today, I read a blog and as I sometimes do I chose to share it on Facebook so my friends and family could read it to.  The content of the particular blog entry had to do with the trend during the month of November to post each day something you are thankful for and as the blog name "Snarky in the Suburbs" implies it was full of snark about the extraordinary posts that seem too good to be true.  I used to be really hard on myself, I found I was comparing myself to all those perfect people and getting down in the dumps.  After almost a year of visiting a great therapist, I came to be able to believe that although I'm not perfect, I have a great life and so much to be thankful for every day.  I work hard to be positive on Facebook and help my friends recognize their crazy blessings; as such, all year long I post occasional "crazy blessed" statuses on Facebook but I also post real feelings on the days I'd like to enroll my kids in public school,  feel overwhelmed with the responsibilities of life, etc.  In past years I have participated in the November days of thankfulness.  This year on the first of November before I had the opportunity to post my "thankful" post, I went to Walmart.  I know not very exciting and probably not the place where you come away expressing gratitude but this visit was different.

I was in a bit of a hurry, Jess and I were spending a very rare Mommy & daughter day.  We popped into Walmart to pick up a couple of things on our way to the Square where we were excited to go marvel at the Toyland First Friday, enjoy burgers at the Station Cafe and just enjoy our time together.  As we approached the cashier, a lady turned in front of us in her mobility scooter with a FULL cart.  The other line was full and for a brief moment I think some red smoke actually may have come from my ears.  Then I looked at this woman and my heart and mind did a flop-I have a mother who sometimes needs help in the store and someday I will be the elderly grandma in the mobility scooter.  I saw her look of panic as she struggled to lift an item from her cart so I put on my best smile and offered to help.  It turns out I knew her, she once was the deli lady at our Walmart store and her daughter is an amazing woman from the church I used to attend. I put all her items up on the belt and the cashier treated her like a long lost friend and I think it took fifteen minutes to get her checked out...and I was okay with it because I stood there hanging out with my Jessica, and savored the moment.  I had been her thankful moment on November 1st-the relief in her eyes when I offered to help was real.  At that moment, I again realized how crazy blessed I am every day-you all know it!! I don't need to remind you that I love my God, I adore my Handsome, my kids are near perfect and how crazy blessed I am that my parents have moved across the street.  I knew what I needed to do so when I arrived home I posted this:

I'm going to try something new the month of November 2013-you all know my catch phrase of being crazy blessed and we all know I, like you, am thankful for things like my husband, children, patents, etc., etc., etc. So rather than being obviously thankful my goal is to be a blessing to someone each day and help my kids be a blessing to others. Some days, I may share but most will be anonymous! So today, November 1st I'd like to challenge you, my crazy blessed friends to be a blessing every day this month! Are you in?
And then I went about my life, feeling crazy blessed and working to consciously be a blessing for someone every day.  I've seen lots of gratitude posts...day 1, day 2, etc. people thankful for their God, their husbands, their kids, their kids Halloween candy, etc.  Some made me smile, some made me think seriously-I know the truth and you're just blowing smoke.  So when I read the blog by Snarky today, I laughed...I mean really laughed because many years ago, if I had read some of the posts I see about my friends seemingly perfect lives I would have began judging myself and putting myself down.  I didn't have the self-esteem or confidence in myself to realize how crazy blessed I was in spite of _____________ (fill in the blank).  But now, I can see them and NOT compare myself and remember to be thankful, grateful, crazy blessed by the small things.

So what I really want more than anything else this month of November is for you to please, please post the things you are thankful for-the real things if that is what you're inclined to do but remember there are eleven other months of the year-a whopping 335 additional days to express gratitude and be thankful for things.  Are you going to have bad days?  Are you going to want to lock your kids in a closet?  Are you going to want to strangle your husband?  Are you going to want to hide under the covers and spend a day crying?  YES!!!!  I was feeling that exact way last night but after a few short moments surrounded by friends I quickly remembered all the things I do have to be thankful for.  So in that status update, before you hit enter on one that is only meant to make things look perfect to the world, consider being raw and honest and sharing how you really feel--I guarantee your real friends already know you have those kind of days and are more than willing to life you up!!  I also guarantee that the person with the perfect looking life has bumps along the way, too...it's called being a member of the humanity.   As mamma used to say, "you may be able to fool some of the people some of the time but you can't fool all of the people all of the time!"  Don' be fooled, count your crazy blessings because they are there!!!

(When my kids were younger, they adored Laurie Berkner.  She sang a song that we still sing today, it's called "I'm Not Perfect" and I'd like to share it with you today!!)


I'm not perfect, no I'm not
I'm not perfect, but I've got what I've got
I do my very best, I do my very best
I do my very best each day
But I'm not perfect
And I hope you like me that way

We're not perfect…

You're not perfect, not you're not
You're not perfect, but you've got what you've got
You do your very best, you do your very best
You do your very best each day
But you're not perfect
And you know
I love you that way




Thursday, October 31, 2013

...in it not of it {period}!!

Growing up with siblings that were teenagers by the time I have memories, I've always heard my Mom preach the mantra of living "in the word, not of the world." I didn't really get it.  She tried explaining it but that's a difficult concept for a young child or even a teen to understand.  

For more than a month, my kids have been preparing for today-Halloween!  Frick immediately knew she wanted to be a hippie so off to Goodwill we went in search of some retro clothes; of course nothing worked.  So I quickly Googled hippie costumes and found a really cute outfit.
She quickly selected a shirt then sought out "fabric" (other shirts) that coordinated so she could cut it in squares and make her own skirt!  She finished it last week and was thrilled with her accomplishment!
Then there is Frack who had no idea what she wanted to be.  She has such an easy going personality--the last two years, she has simply selected to wear her tap recital costume.  It was a little snug in the shoulders so she had to get creative and we spent lots of time on Pinterest looking for just the right thing.  Most of you know she is an avid gardener so when she saw a garden gnome she knew that was the Halloween look for her! 

I know you're probably thinking what in the world do these adorable Halloween costumes have to do with living in the world?  Let me explain...after much deliberation I made the decision to enroll the girls in a local homeschool coop.  It was really, really difficult for me to join because of a little thing they call "statement of faith."  I've been a card carrying Methodist since before I was born, my grandparents were Methodist, my great-grandparents even gave land so that a Methodist church could be built on their land (the church-where my parents met and later married-is gone but the land still belongs to my parents).  So I have faith, I have beliefs and ordinarily I don't have a problem with things like this but take a look at what I had to "understand"-

1. We believe the Bible is the only infallible, inerrant Word of God and it is the final authority for all matters of faith and life.
2. We believe there is one God--eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
3. We believe in the perfect deity and perfect humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, His sinless life, His miracles, His sacrificial death, His bodily resurrection, His ascension, and His bodily return in power and glory.
4. We believe that man was created in the image of God, but chose to sin and therefore is lost and only those who put their faith in Jesus Christ alone are saved.
5. We believe that salvation is the gift of God brought to man by grace and is received by personal faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, whose death on the cross paid the price for man's sin through His shed blood.
6. We believe that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict man of his sin, indwell, guide, instruct and empower men for godly life and service.
7. We believe in the spiritual unity of believers through our common faith in Jesus Christ.
8.  We believe the family is the basic institution created by God to include members related by birth, legal adoption or guardianship, and/or marriage (one man and one woman).
9.  We believe in a literal six day creation by God, our Creator, as outlined in Genesis.

Number 8 really gets me...that's my beef the clause declaring "one man and one woman" to define marriage.

I don't really have to agree with them all I was told, I simply have to understand that their leadership team is bound by these eight guidelines.  Okay-I'll understand, but if my dear friends L & J from Living Waters ever decide to homeschool their sweet son, I will go to bat for them if they want to participate in this coop!!!! 

So that still doesn't tie together living in the world, does it?  This coop group (I am blessed to belong to because my kids have made some neat friends and learned some cool things) sends out a message this week:

 

XXX has a tradition of not "celebrating" or acknowledging Halloween at XXX functions.  Different families have different ideas about this as a "holiday", but as a group, we do not participate in or sponsor Halloween activities.  However, we do not avoid activities on October 31st either, since every day is the Lord's day.  While you will have an abundance of opportunities to participate in Halloween activities throughout the community over the next week or two if you like, please do not attend XX activities, including coop, field trips and club meetings, dressed in costume, or with other Halloween type props.  In many cases, it would also be unwelcome to spend time at XXX events discussing Halloween activities. 


They are telling me what I can and cannot discuss? I get being a christian, I get having faith and living my life differently but hiding from Halloween?  How can that be healthy?  Do they really think their kids don't know what it is?  Do they really think they can keep their kids from seeing the pumpkins, witches and goblins?  Do they think Halloween is magically going away and their kids won't have to deal with it when they are adults? What other things of the world do they hide from their kids?  There is plenty I have shielded the girls from until they were of an age to understand but I just don't see how making unwelcome even the discussion of Halloween activities is necessary.

We are a homeschool family-not because we believe schools are a bad place to be, not because we believe in a religious education, not because we're anti-establishment...we homeschool because we have found it to be a good fit for our family and a way our children can learn and receive a very well-rounded education.  Way back when Anna was 14, she participated in her first event at NWACC, by 15 she had enrolled in the Chamber Singers program.  We allowed her to be with this 18 and up crowd-she rode to and from the class with a nice young man who treated her as a little sister.  When the group began to ask her to go to Boston's and sing karaoke, we allowed her to go and you know what she learned?  She learned several important life lessons:

1.  There are three types of people who go to karaoke night at a "bar", those who drink to excess and are horribly offensive, those who have a drink or two in moderation and just have a good time, those who don't drink and just have a good time.

2.  Drink water-it's free and you can always get a new glass because you are never-ever toleave your glass unattended, even with a good friend.  If you get up to sing or go to the bathroom ask for a new drink.  That was my rule and she obeyed, even though she was in a very safe environment.  Now as a college student, she called last week and was expressing how glad she is to have learned that lesson because there have been some girls at her school at parties with local boys who have been slipped things in their drinks.

3.  You can have a really good time singing and being silly without being drunk.  She saw that the kids who got drunk weren't fun anymore-they were crying at the bar about a lost love or how they had been wronged by someone-they were downright annoying!

Imagine if she had never seen or learned these lessons-she could have been the girl with the drugged drink.  She knows how the world is and chooses to live her life with the morals and ideals she was raised with.  She has seen both sides and chosen the good path.

We can shelter our children and hide them from the world...but like the young tree that spends its formative years tied to a pole, it never gains strength and breaks easily when tested.  Talk to your children, let them see the world and live in it but help them to learn that they don't have to do the things of the world.  We are crazy blessed as parents to have our children for a short, short time.  Let's spend those moments building them up, giving them strength because they can't always hide...they must live in the world. 



Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Savor the joy...

Have you ever noticed that the things you love most about someone are the little things.  Like when a person tells you about someone they really enjoy spending time with, it is often hard for them to put their finger on exactly what it is...well, I've got three pretty fabulous kids and I can spend just about all day telling you what makes them special and why I adore them.  But these days, I'm savoring those moments just a little bit more because it is almost that time of year for my A#1 Angel girl to head back to college.  Wow-I just got misty eyed thinking about it.  Whoever warned me that the first summer back from college was miserable you were W-A-Y, way off!!!  I find myself feeling a bit tight around the chest and that huge knot forming in my throat just thinking about next Sunday.

Yesterday, said College girl announced that she needed a pair of tennis shoes...so I told her that our window of opportunity would be this morning.  Because it was overcast, we all felt a little slow and getting out of the house was a little off beat.  We arrived at the shoe store, ready to do battle with the almighty footwear.  Anna was armed with a pair of socks and a complete lack of enthusiasm for any of the shoes on the shelf,  except the exact same pair that I picked out and purchased back in March.  After comically trying on about 50 pairs of shoes, she jumps up and down in the mirror, runs up and down the aisle and proclaims that my shoes are the only ones that will do.  I decide to do the motherly thing and take advantage of the 50% off the second pair and purchase myself a second pair-in the coordinating color.

So we check out with the lovely lady named Brooke.  (Who loves her nose piercing but is currently sad because when washing her face the other day she knocked it out and lost her stud and is now sporting a ring.)  We leave the store with laughter and Anna reverts to her childhood and proceeds to only walk on the paint because the "black part is lava, Mom!!!"  She hops safely into the car!  Thank goodness.

After all the shopping, she is absolutely famished but fortunately her Dad has texted an invite to meet him for lunch-complete with a delicious picture proclaiming there is enough for three.  We quickly drive to the Bentonville Butcher & Deli and indeed he has saved enough for her to enjoy some smoked pulled pork and green beans.  Dads are the best!!

At a stoplight she throws her magic to make the light turn green-a throwback from her childhood.  I shared the secret with her that when she was little I'd watch the cross light count down for her to throw her magic to change my light to green.  When she was small, she'd giggle with delight every time because she believed in herself that she was magic and could do anything!  Wow-I sure wish we all could be empowered to believe in ourselves the way that girl does.

Next we head to pick up Melissa who is hanging out with Sheila & Amelia this morning-she is being a Mother's Helper in preparation for babysitting someday.  We leave their home and are heading down Hiwassee Road when eagle eye Anna spies a snapping turtle.  Nothing would do but she must take a picture.  So the hazards go on and the pictures are "snapped."  We head on our merry way when she begins to whine about how we should have saved the poor turtle and she begs me to turn around...so, I do and she kindly assists the turtle across the road.

Between the silly things we had some really great talks today, talks about what the future holds for her and how it's okay for dreams to shift.  Dream shifting doesn't equal failure or quitting, it simply means you've grown and seen a bigger horizon.

So, what's the purpose of this blog today-absolutely nothing other than savor and enjoy every single moment.  Find joy in the everyday happenings.  Grab yourself a journal or start a blog and record some of these little things that make you crazy blessed for before you know it...they'll be gone.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I've had a Facebook account since Anna was a young teen and wanted to join that scary social network.  My rule was let me get an account, check it out and then if I think it's "safe" then you can have one.  Now through the years, I've experienced all kinds of people on Facebook-I've learned which of my "friends" are real and which are superficial.  I know which posts are true and which are just for looks.  Sometimes, I can even tell when someone is having a bad day just because their status seems "off."

I strive to use my Facebook as a tool, allowing it to reflect my beliefs, my pride in my children, my love for my husband and my passion for gardening (or perhaps that should honestly read my passion for my husband and love for gardening)!!  Regardless of which face my status is displaying it is always real.  I never lie about how I feel, what I am doing or about my kids to make them seem more than they are.  Some days the Littles drive me batty and I'm ready to walk out of the house with my hands thrown in the air when Handsome arrives home!

A few years ago, I started this Blog.  It was a way for me to share more in depth things that are on my mind.  It's almost like an occasional ache inside of me and the only way to soothe is by sharing my words here.  Again, my Blog is real-the things I share are my true feelings and emotions.

Yesterday, on Facebook I shared and asked for your support.  The "likes," the comments, the personal messages, texts, and phone calls have overwhelmed me beyond belief.  So today, I wanted to take a moment to say thank you--years ago, Bette Middler sang "The Wind Beneath My Wings" and today, I get it on a whole new level!  I'd like to share a little more about me today...

In 2006, about a year and a half after the birth of Jessica I was tired of being FAT and wanted more than anything to lose weight.  I heard the radio ads and saw the newspaper ads for a place called Metabolic Research Center and went in for a FREE consultation.  They had me hook-line-and sucker!  For over a year, I prescribed to their strict food regimen and drinking their special protein koolaid 5 times a day-their goal was for their clients to lose a minimum of 3 pounds each week.  When you didn't, there was guilt and shame...when you did, there were silly gifts like a bell for every pound lost, a string for your inches, a flower taped to the wall, etc.  I worked their system-hard; I lost just over 100 pounds.  I was happy where I was but not down to their required weight for my height.  I was ready to start exercising (strictly forbidden by them because we all know muscle is heavier and they didn't want us to "gain") and go on maintenance.  They said no so I quit.  I went rogue and began going to the gym, even though I was exercising, I began putting all the wrong foods in my mouth and over the next 18 months gained every pound back-quit the gym, quit on myself.  I was miserable.  I was a failure.

In 2007, some personal events happened in my life and I needed help.  I was totally stressed and felt like I couldn't cope.  I began to see a therapist for a few months...he listened, told me stories and empowered me to be a stronger more confident person regardless of my size, the size of my house, the make & model of my car, etc.  I cannot begin to stress to you that I am a FIRM believer that our brain is another organ and sometimes, it is our worst enemy.  Every one of us could benefit from an impartial listener who doesn't run and tell our thoughts/fears/worries and has tools to help us learn to deal with things.  I am very vocal to those who know me well about the importance of good mental health and am open/honest with my children and husband.  As a matter of fact I encouraged Anna to make use of the College counselors office.  Dealing with her Dad being sick this spring, the diagnosis, sickness and loss of her Papaw James were a bit easier because she had developed a relationship with her counselor.  As such, she applied for and will be a peer listener at Cottey this fall-I am so proud that she has learned the value of caring for her mind as well as her body.

So, back to my body-I had become content.  I didn't care what my scale said-I'd go months without weighing.  I felt good, my bloodwork was good and my overall health was fine.  Whether it was stress or whatever I was miserable in December and reached out to the medical community in hopes of receiving some relief from what I thought must be chronic fatigue syndrome. When the medical community failed to help or even acknowledge my symptoms, I thought I was going crazy and turned to my friends who suggested I look at my diet.  I did.

All I did was change what I ate.
 
All I did was change what I ate.
 
All I did was change what I ate.
 
All I did was change what I ate.
 
 
It was that simple.  The fog began to clear, I began sleeping more soundly, I had more energy, I smiled and laughed more, I began to really enjoy my Husband and kids in a way I haven't in a long, long time.
 
 
A dear friend invited me to a 5K so I started walking, and walking, and walking, and walking.  I noticed my body began to change more and more.  I felt a power from within that I had never known.  I felt amazing!
 
 
Then it happened in June I hit that proverbial plateau.  I was doing all the same things yet the scale was failing to move.  In my mind, I began to mull over all the negatives but decided it was okay I had lost about 50 pounds and if I was happy before with my weight I should just be happy now.  But, I have these wonderful children and this Handsome Husband--I can see the pride in their eyes when they look at me and see how far I've come when all I can see is how far I've left to go.  I enjoy the way I eat and am confident I will never return to a life filled with processed foods, breads/grains, sugar and high fructose corn syrup but I have this urge inside me that I need more...I need to make my body work, I need to make it more efficient.
 
 
So, as my status read:
Okay my awesome friends I've done it! I paid my $50 to the WLFC for their sculpt & tone PEP. Now this includes two scans in the Bod Pod, those of you who watch the Biggest Loser may recognize it-I however had no idea what it was. Needless to say, I'm thankful I've been working hard and losing weight because I wasn't at all pleased with my results. Last night, I felt like I was going to cry bec...ause I was horrified at my percentages however this morning after the rain it was like a cool, refreshing breath of encouragement. I dragged myself back to the Fitness Center for my appointment with Mr. Bod (you know the guy who shaves his head, has muscles on top of muscles on his 20-something perfect body) who took me to the circuit training room-he proceeded to instruct me on using the 10 machines plus a bonus 5 cardio stations-woo-hoo! So starting off with 2 days a week eventually working up to 3, he assigned me to go through each of the machines twice at 15 reps per visit at the maximum possible weight and do two intervals at each of the 5 cardio stations. So this overweight, middle aged housewife is going to learn how to: do 15 body weight squats, scissor kick, plank, jump rope and do step-ups each for a full 60 seconds. When I walked out of the fitness center, I felt like every one could see my thighs quiver....y'all keep up your positive vibes because I'm gonna need them! I'll be training with him again on August 29th and having another Bod Pod scan in 12 weeks, I look forward to seeing positive results!!feeling Crazy Blessed!
 
This morning, my body feels like the quivering old lady but thanks to each of you I am holding on to all the positive thoughts, prayers, vibes, chants and well wishes.  I am remembering exactly how crazy blessed to have each one of you in my life.  My hope for you is simple-if you are not happy, I mean truly, deeply happy change it.  You are in control of you-you get to decide what direction your life goes-if you choose the negative it will consume and overtake you.  If you ever need a listening ear, a caring heart or a friend who has been crazy blessed beyond belief by you, please don't hesitate to email, call or text.  For like a candle in the dark, one small flame can make a difference and one friend can make a difference.
 
I  love you!
 
Today I'd like to leave you with a little David Bowie-one of my favorites!
 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Come on baby, light my fire...




A few years ago Handsome "had" to have a weed dragon.  You know one of those torch devices that hooks up to your propane tank from the grill.

 "It'll be perfect for me to use around your garden," he said.

Humph!  Famous words...everytime he uses it, I panic!  I get the garden hose and stand at the ready just in case something goes out of control.  Well, this spring the unthinkable happened, he used the dreaded dragon when I wasn't around.  When I returned he sheepishly says, "you may want to check your rose, I think I may have killed it."

 This was what I saw!  I was horrified because this wasn't just any old rose bush, this was a gift I had purchased, planted, nurtured...for our twentieth anniversary.  It was meant to be a symbol of our undying love and affection...a plant that our children and grandchildren would take cuttings from and start their own rosebushes.  I literally cried.  For days whenever I would see its charred branches at the edge of my beloved garden, a knot would form in my throat and I would have to choke back the tears.  I was hurt that his need to burn the grass around the outside of my garden had killed our "rose of love."

Rather than dig it up and toss it in the compost pile, I left it there as a reminder albeit a symbol of how fragile life and love is...how it can be gone in the flash of an eye, or flame of the weed dragon!  Several weeks went by and Handsome came running in the door, "go look at your rose of love...it's coming out!!!"

So I hurried out to find one tiny stalk coming up from the soil right in the midst of the burned bush.  I was skeptical and snorted, "it'll never be the same, it's just a fluke.  You killed my rose!"

But sweetly and full of love, Handsome began to clip away the dead branches.  New life emerged and before I knew it, my rose of love was again full of beautiful leaves and blossoms! 


 
When I was a kid, I can remember my Dad explaining that sometimes a fire is necessary to burn off the old chaff in a field or forest.  He would encourage me to watch as new life would emerge brighter, healthier than it was before.  I am one crazy blessed girl to have learned this beautiful lesson again this spring that no matter what fires may strike, we can bloom again!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Me....

I haven't had
a chance to sleep,
and when I wake,
I wake with your dreams,
I guess my pillow
holds some kind of key
to your peace...
your peace.
Me.
 
 
That crazy day back in February 1994 when I went to the Weatherford, Oklahoma planned parenthood in the basement of some building to take a pregnancy test, I had no idea what I was in for!!!  Back then, pregnancy tests weren't a dime a dozen at your local retailer-they were $25 or $30 or a trip to the doctor which was even more.  Being a young wife (married a year and a half), I didn't want to spend those precious extra dollars and was so thankful there was someplace I could go for a free test. 
 
May and Mother's Day came and went with the usual card to my Mom and Teds...I didn't think much about the baby growing inside me and the significance Mother's Day would come to hold.  You see, being a Mom is a full time job, one that you never get a vacation from.  Sure, you can go away for a weekend or have a Mom's Night Out with your friends but you never cease doing your job-you are constantly thinking of, praying for, anticipating the future of your children.  From the moment you know they're on their way until the moment you take your final breath-you are on duty.

Mother's Day-a day to celebrate Mother's.  Simple, right?  I celebrate my Mother, Mother-in-Law but also my daughters for without them, I wouldn't be a mother and more importantly, I want them to grow up into women that are wonderful Mother's.  So, beginning way back when Anna was a little tot, I bought her a Mother's Day gift-a book and wrote and inscription on the inside font cover.  I wish I could say I have been faithful and done so every year--it hasn't been every year but several--I have purchased books for all three and written to them.  My thought is one day, when they are Mother's they will hold their children and read these books to them.  They will read the inscription and it will bring back memories of a childhood and a Mother who truly was crazy blessed and loved every moment she was on duty!!

I would encourage you if you still have children at home to go buy a book, write a few words, share a memory and express your love for them and give it to them this Mother's Day.  Books have become a special treasure for our girls.  Make sure every time you give them a special book take that minute to write inside of it what the occasion is, it will become a treasured keepsake! (ssshhhh...don't tell Anna but this picture is the book that is on it's way to her for Mother's Day 2013 because she is my hand holder!!  Because darlin' Angel girl, no matter how far away you are I will always hold you in my heart!!)    If you scroll down to the bottom, you'll find the video, you should be able to view on mobile devices, YouTube wouldn't allow it on mobile.  Just some random pictures of my three Angel girls to the song "Me" by Plumb!



I wouldn't trade your love for all the candy
in this great big world
Me
I feel so crazy blessed and oh so lucky
To be the place you go
when you need to feel safe..
When you need a kiss
   it's
....ME!

 
 
video

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Find the good!

"Find a penny pick it up and all the day you'll have good luck!!"
I've made it a habit to always pick up a penny, nickel, dime, or quarter when I find them lay on the pavement or in a store.  (If we're in a store, I give it to the clerk but out in the "world" it goes in my pocket.)  I always look at the date and take a mental stroll down memory lane for that particular year.  I've reached an age that it is rare that I get a coin older than I am!  If the girls are with me, it is an opportunity to share with them a glimpse of time gone by.

Last week, I dashed into a store on my return to my car I noticed a penny by my back drivers side bumper.  Of course I picked it up!  The year was 1978 and a huge smile snuck onto my face as I began to recall a great year from my childhood.  I remember rushing home on Sunday after church to listen to Casey Kasem on American Top 40 countdown with my big sister, going to the drive in movies with my big brother, and who can forget visits to A & W where the carhop would attach the tray to your window with real glass mugs covered in frost and a giant pitcher or root beer?!?!  If you can remember '78, what is your favorite memory?
I snapped a picture of the penny in my hand and texted it to someone who played a significant role in my life-sharing some of the memories I had shared with the girls.  The response I recieved troubled me it was:

"Oh yes, good memories.  ________ and I were talking this morning about how things have changed, especially in the last 5-10 years.  How it seems like it is all turned up-side down.  where evil is glorified and good is accused of doing wrong.  Interesting, huh, how the world has been deceived!  May the blessing of Jehovah literally catch up and overtake you and your family!"

I want to really look at this, especially the part that says "evil is glorified and good accused of doing wrong."  I'm really not sure we're living in the same world because I'm not seeing the glorification of evil.  Sure, there is evil in this world-go back to the Bible and you'll find story after story of evil but more importantly you find stories of hope, promise, forgiveness and fulfillment.  Thinking about how the two of us had grown to look at the world from two very different perspectives-I believing in humanity that our cup is half full and my memory sharer seeing it as half empty-I recalled a story that had been shared with me sometime ago.  I'll share it here, I'm not sure if I can do it justice but I'll do my best.

On the outskirts of a town there was a gas station that was reminisce of days gone by, it still had an attendant who would fill your tank, clean your windshield and check your oil.   Up pulled a moving van filled with a family-dad, mom, and two kids.  Obviously they were moving to the town just up ahead.  As the attendant cleaned their windshield that dad asked about the town and what kind of people he would find, are the schools a good quality? 

The attendant thought a moment and answered with a question, "tell me about the town where you come from."

The Dad replied, "Oh our town was a gem, the people were friendly, the schools top notch, we really hated to leave."

The attendant grinned as he spoke, "I think you'll find our town is just the same, I'm sure you'll be happy here!"

Later in the week another moving van arrived at the pumps.  A similar converstaion was had and the attendant again asked of the Dad, "tell me about the town where you come from."

The Dad scowled as he replied "Oh our town was horrible, the people were rude and the schools were a sorry sight."

The attendant sadly shook his head as he said, "I'm afraid you are in for a disappointment for the people here are just like the people from your hometown."

When I asked why the two different answers, the attendant simply said, "You'll find what you're looking for.  The first folks were seeking the good but the second folks could see only the bad."

So today when you are tempted to dwell on the evil in this world, toss it aside.  Remember the good, choose to accept that you are indeed crazy blessed and revel in it!  It's hard to see the good in people if you're only looking for the bad..find the good!



Monday, March 11, 2013

Normal?!?!?

Exactly what is normal?  If you asked a hundred people you'd get at least a hundred answers!  For me, normal varies on any given day.  Today, normal was mopping up a blue Downy lake in the utility room before my first cup of coffee!! Yesterday normal was going to church, getting Mel to volleyball, helping Jessica with her 4-H talk and having a relaxing evening with the family!  If you want to look at the bigger picture, like maybe our family--I'd say we are a pretty normal family.  Husband, wife, three kids, three cats, one dog, a couple of fish tanks, three vehicles, a mortgage...pretty typical for our area give or take a cat or two!  But Sunday morning, my vision of normal was brought into question.  However in order for Sunday to make sense as normal, I suppose I will have to start with the events from eighteen years ago.
In 1994, Ted was in college and I was a service desk girl at the local Walmart store.  After Anna was born, we had planned to continue our normal-Ted with college and work, me with work.  An amazing boss allowed me to take 12 weeks of maternity (six were unpaid but we made it work).  When I went back to work in February of '95 I had grown used to being at home, fixing meals for my college boy and spending every moment with my #1 Angel girl.  I was miserable at work, I came home crying every day and it didn't help that the lady who was supposed to provide our childcare had a family emergency and was unavailable-we just couldn't find the right person and I refused to put my sweet baby in one of those daycare centers.  Mis-er-able....so after a couple of weeks, my handsome, intelligent husband said the words that would alter the rest of my life,

"QUIT.  We will find a way to make it work."

We did find a way.  The journey was often difficult but we did make it.  In those early days, Ted worked the closing shift almost every night at Braum's.  Being the Mom, I would snuggle into bed in the evenings with Anna, reading her books, telling her stories, playing games of pretend and then falling asleep in her Winnie the Pooh world.  When Ted would arrive home, I would get up and go to our room.  Thus began the world of co-sleeping.  (I didn't know that term in 1995 but came to be familiar with it after the birth of Melissa.)  As Anna grew, she would often toddle into our bed during the night or early in the mornings-she didn't like being in her room alone.  (There were too many wolves there so her young mind thought.)

Sweet Melissa came along seven years later.  I was older, more experienced after all I'd been a Mom for so long surely I was on the right track.  We were excited to welcome another pink bundle to our world.  I quickly set up a bassinet sleeper right next to our bed.  When the time came to put her into a real crib I couldn't bear to be separated so we put her crib in our room, next to the bed.  That was okay for a while but I still felt separated, the night time feedings were unsettling for all three of us.  Something had to change.  So I got the brilliant idea of taking one side off of her baby bed and attached it to our bed.  Perfect!  She had her own space, couldn't roll out into the floor but could comfortably be nursed back to sleep.  Weekend mornings were a favorite time because Anna would wake and join Ted, Melissa and me where we would just hang out in our bed and be a family.  Long after she was weaned, she still continued to sleep in that little crib until she was three when along came Jessica.

Jessica only stayed in our room about six months, Melissa alone in her room was anxious for her little sister to join her so we obliged.  However our weekend morning family time continued...

Now these weekend morning cuddles didn't happen every weekend but when they did, they were magic.  Kids laughing, talking about all the important things in their lives, watching a funny movie or the Food Network so we'd have new recipes to try that day...or sometimes, just being close and listening to one another breathe (or fart)!!  As the kids have gotten older and our lives have become busier, the opportunities for family cuddle time have been few and far between.  Some weekends, I wish I had a magic wand I could wave to make those leisurely mornings happen more often.  But alas, I can't.  Even when Anna is home, the cuddle isn't something that can be forced-it just is.

So, yesterday morning I was feeling particularly lazy.  Handsome husband had received a wee-hours-of-the-morning call from work which coupled with the time change made for a morning of an almost altered state of reality.  After completing his call, he crawled back into bed...after cooking breakfast, I headed for the shower and the urge to join him was irresistible...then Anna comes through our room, looking for a hair dryer and joins in....next Jessica comes running in to tell me something and realizes what is happening.  We quickly begin calling for Melissa and the magic is complete.  As we're laying there all talking, laughing and occasionally farting,  Anna breaks the moment and tells us that we are "weird" that no one else has cuddle time!  It seems one day she was talking to her more sophisticated college friends and mentioned cuddle time-her friends were taken back and wanted to know what she was talking about.  She explained and they were all "oo-o-o-h....that's strange."  We then continued to discuss whether it was strange or not--we reached a unanimous decision that it isn't strange, it's our normal.

I am crazy blessed to be the Mother of his children...to spend my days educating them, cleaning up after them, washing their laundry and establishing a life that we consider normal.  I hope and pray that one day when the girls are grown and have families of their own they each will find a normal-whether it's family movie night, Friday night dinners or even the strange weekend cuddles I want them to experience what I have, the ultimate happiness that can only be felt when you stop and realize how crazy blessed you are!  Go find your NORMAL!!

 
 
(The foot picture above is not my work-even though I have a thing for feet, this image was borrowed from Stefanie Pace.)




Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ready to share...

My close friends and family know that the last four months have been very hectic and full of many changes in my life.  I hit an extreme low and by low, I mean the absolute pits which are really lower than low.  I was tired and exhausted all the time.  Not just ho-hum, I could use a nap tired but the tired that you can feel everywhere in your body.  (My kids lovingly told me the other day that I sounded like a commercial for depression when I described how horrible I was feeling.)  I didn't nap, I wasn't even sleeping more than normal because I was afraid if I let myself slow down I'd never get up again.  I wasn't enjoying anything because all I could think about was how tired I was.  I felt like I was in a brain fog...kind of like this polar bear. 
 


Flashback to last year when I invited some of my favorite Mom friends to join me at Crystal Bridges for a night out.  We met at the Mellow Mushroom and had dinner.  I quietly listened as two women who I really respect began telling about their lifestyle changes-one was her personal journey and the other had included her entire family in the changes.  Something called Paleo/Primal.  Now I had seen the changes in these ladies, their bodies had become more shapely but their minds, their minds had changed also.  One is a mother of four who has returned to college-she is doing fantastic in a field that is heavily competitive.  The other told stories not just of her changes but those in her children-I could see the changes in them, too.  I just hadn't put it together with a way of eating.  That was my first glimpse that what I eat could really affect my energy and mental status.

More recently a dear friend from church shared with me that she and her husband had modified their family eating to Paleo and what a difference it was making.  Changes in their body-mental and emotional states as well.  I was slightly intrigued but not enough to jump on yet another "fad" regime that would only wind up disappointing me in the end.

Early January, I made a call to ChurchLady and asked her about my fatigue/exhaustion.  I was wondering if she felt different with her way of eating.  She began to flow about how much better she and her husband were.  Telling tale about waking up faster in the morning, feeling full, enjoying real food and changes she saw in her childrens behavior.  Hmmm, maybe just maybe this might be worth a try.

So, on January 4, 2013 I woke up and began a new life-a life without sugar or grains.  A life eating food as close to the source as possible, more organic, more grass fed and hopefully more nutritious.  I made this decision not to lose weight but to feel better.  With moving my parents closer, having a terminal family member in Oklahoma, a daughter in college, two very active daughters at home, a husband who was about to experience more health issues in two months than he had in 20 years of marriage--I had to do something.  My doctor had done a full blood work up in December and all my levels were "perfect" there was nothing medically wrong with me. After all, what did I have to lose?  I've kept pretty quiet about it because I was afraid that I would just fail again.

In one short week, I was absolutely amazed at how much better I was feeling.  Sleeping well all night and waking up feeling refreshed not sluggish.  I wondered could this really be due to what I'm eating?  Then I had a crazy day-you all know exactly what I'm talking about-one of those days where you are the person in the Village who is lending a hand to a friend in need?!?!?!  Worth every moment because I'd do anything for my friends but this day was a little more hectic because of my own schedule so I slacked on food-I ate some breaded stuff.  That night my stomach cramped and the next morning I felt like a troll-a grumpy troll who didn't want to get up!  Wow-what an eye opener.  I'm not doing that again.

So here I am 61 days later and my kids asked me last week if I would be eating like this forever.  My response was "as long as I am feeling as good as I do right now-I'm eating like this!!"  I used to think people were crazy when they talked about foods poisoning their bodies but now, I'm a believer.  My body feels younger, I have a new energy and clarity that has been missing for far too long.  I want to do things I've never done before-can you believe that in April I am doing a 5K?  Crazy huh?  I know I won't be able to run it-I've got a ways to go before I can run-but I will make it every step of the way and who knows next year I might just be running a 5K.


I'm not telling you that you should go Paleo or change your way of eating.  I'm just sharing with you how crazy blessed I am to have discovered that a few changes could drastically alter my entire life.  The last three weeks have been hard-gallbladder surgery for Ted, biopsy for me-just got the all clear YAY, trips to Oklahoma, losing a great friend in a tragic accident...things that probably would have been far more difficult to handle 62 days ago.  So when you see me and I'm happily munching on an apple or dried okra and passing on the cake-please don't ask me if I feel deprived or if I miss those things because quite frankly I'm not deprived I'm enjoying foods in a way I never imagined and more importantly, I am enjoying things with my family that I had been missing because I was eating things that were causing me to be in a fog.  As an added bonus, 28 pounds have gone missing...I hope I never find them!

A few weeks ago, a friend had this as her Facebook status:

"I know this is cheesy, but it's true. In July of 2011, my GAP long and lean jeans were a size 12, and I wore Spanx under them. Today, my GAP long and lean jeans are a 6, and they're loose in the waist. I see and hear people complain all the time about their weight and the way their bodies look. Either make peace with it, or do something real about it. A year goes by fast, but a lot can change."

Thanks Trisha for the reminder-a lot can change if we're willing to take that first step.  Doesn't matter if it's losing weight, having more energy, cleaning our house, building our confidence or whatever...we're all crazy blessed now get started!!  Today IS the day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lent...it's not just in your belly button!


Lent-no it's not a typo.  Lint is in your belly button or dryer but Lent is in your soul.  Lent begins today-Ash Wednesday.

As a kid, I remember lots of holidays but mostly the biggies.  You know the ones that involved candy (Halloween, Easter, Valentine's Day) or gifts (Christmas or birthdays).  I was raised going to church every Sunday-I think we had our own pew at the First United Methodist Church up on the hill in Weatherford, Oklahoma and your bottom better be in it every Sunday unless you were dead or dying!  But somehow I missed that there was a liturgical calendar full or rich religious seasons that were just waiting to be explored.  Here are a few-in no particular order:

Pentecost-is a time of my favorite color-RED!!  It is symbolic of the Holy Spirit descending.  I asked our faithful Padre to sum up Pentecost and this is what he sent, "50 days after Easter...pente = 50...the fulfilment of the promise, holy spirit."



Epiphany-O Come Let Us Adore Him--also known as Kings Day when the magi came bearing gifts to baby Jesus.  A few years ago, there was an episode of Dora the Explorer where she made Kings Day hot chocolate.  This recipe has become a favorite in our house, it is a little more labor intensive than the instant package because it requires grating the chocolate and heating milk!  But the end result is so yummy!!!  Some religions and cultures do not exchange Christmas gifts until Kings Day.


Advent-the season of anticipating the arrival of Jesus.  Back on Kingsway Drive, we had an advent wreath each year.  I loved this season because I was the youngest and usually got to light the candles.  Now days, kids have stuffed animals with pockets, calendars and other means of counting down the 24 days leading to Christmas.  We had the advent wreath and each week one brand new candle was lit-the anticipation of lighting that candle was HUGE!  Each candle has a significant meaning in the Christmas story.  I used to think this was my favorite season but growing up has changed me a bit.  Now I find myself longing for the time and the self sacrifice that we experience during...Lent

Lent lasts for 40 days.  I remember when Blake (our padre) was deployed for 40 weeks--before he left and upon his return he spoke of the significance of 40.  Not only in the bible but in life.  We were all a product of a pregnancy with an expected gestation of 40 weeks.  Now just how long did it rain on poor Noah?  40 days.  How long was Jesus in the wilderness?  40 days.  How long did Israel eat manna?  40 years.  Moses was with God on the mount for how long?  You guessed it, 40 days!  It seems to me that this number 40 which we get to go through every year should be significant.  We should put it at a place of prominence in our lives and remember exactly what we are heading for...we are heading for death, resurrection, and eternal life.

Since Anna was a small girl, we have encouraged her to "give something up" for the season of Lent to remind her of what Jesus sacrificed for her.  It is a tradition we have carried on in our family; Melissa and Jessica are always eager to give up something.  Generally, it's been Dr. Pepper, chocolate or ice cream.  But this year I want them to dig a little deeper.  I want them to actually make a sacrifice not just give something up willy-nilly that they will simply replace with another junk item.  I want them to understand that there are so many sacrifices that have been made for them-not just by Jesus but by so many in their lives.  Yesterday, a link came across my Facebook wall, 20 weird ideas for Lent and I loved it!!  It was exactly what I was looking for to encourage my girls to search deeper this Lent season.  I have chosen to blend several of these ideas into my own personal Lent journey.  Would you like to join me? 

I will:
  • Park at the back of the parking lot
  • Get to know my neighbors-every 5 days (8 times) I will bake something and deliver to a neighbor
  • Stop complaining or being negative
  • Every day take a picture of something I am grateful for.  At the end of the month, I'll print and create a collage for a wall in my home 
The thing is, whether you are christian or not it doesn't really matter, you could probably use a little Lent in your life.  Why?   Because you are crazy blessed and someone-somewhere-somehow has made a sacrifice that made you the person you are today!  So I would challenge you over the next 40 days  to make some sacrifices in your life as a remembrance of someone who cared enough for you!!(To ensure your Lent finishes on Easter Sunday,  you only count Monday-Saturday, Sundays are days of celebration.)