From Light to Deep Sleep Using Essential Oils

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everyday-oils-perfect-fitI have always been a very light sleeper. Anything that sounds out of the ordinary at night and I wake up. It got to be so bad that I would use something like a fan, soft music or ocean wave sounds to help block out the odd sounds that would wake me up at night. That all changed when I was introduced to essential oils.

I had read about oils several years ago, but I never tried them. Then my wonderful massage therapist, Gina Westlake, mentioned that she was selling oils though Young Living. Since Gina has helped me a lot with my neck and shoulder issues, I trusted her recommendation enough to give them a try. So I signed up and bought a kit and a diffuser. It has been one of the best things I have done lately.

I started out using Frankincense in the diffuser while I meditated. I have been meditating for many years. My usual routine is to meditate with some soft music playing, such as Jim Brickman’s Soothe CD ( #soothe ), right before I go to bed to calm my mind in hopes of sleeping better. I set the diffuser near me and the scent of the Frankincense helps me achieve a deep state of relaxation faster and more often than what I would normally. So I decided to experiment a bit and use the diffuser at night while I sleep. I tried a couple of oils like lavender and I did notice a bit of a difference.

Gina made a post in our Facebook group, “Good morning! There are a LOT of oils that will support a good night’s sleep. This trio (Valor, Lavender & Envision) has been my go-to the last few days (a couple drops of each on my feet before bed) and I have been sleeping GREAT. Seriously like knocked-out-great, which is unusual for me. What oils have worked for you?”

One of the members replied that she used a combination of lavender and lemon. Since I had those two, I decided to give it a try. The lavender and lemon combination works great for me. I still wake up one or two times a night, but I am sleeping deep and feeling more rested than I have in a long time. I wish I would have known about this a long time ago.

If you have ever thought about trying essential oils, we would like to give you a chance to try them out. We have put together a little essential oils starter kit giveaway. Our starter kit includes:

A diffuser
A bottle of Young Living Lavender oil
4 oil samplers: Lemon, Peppermint, Peace & Calming, and Thieves
An Essential Oils pocket guide
A Young Living product guide

What Are You Expecting?

Try as we may, we all go into different situations with expectations.  It is hard as human beings NOT to sit in anticipation of what will happen.  Whether we’re expecting a miracle in a situation only God can control such as someone’s health issues, or we’re expecting a raise for all of our hard work, if we’re honest, we’re all sitting in anticipation of something.

For the vast majority of Seniors, they are expecting to walk down the aisle at their graduation ceremony in just a few, short days.  They have no idea that all the years they complained about school will actually be the best days of their lives when they look back on things.  When all you really have to do is go to school, study, and make good grades all while hanging out with your friends, oh yes, these are the best days of your life.  You just haven’t realized it yet.  When you get out into the real world, you will, though.  Whether you go to college to further your education or you go out into the work force, you will soon realize that the world does not revolve around you and your friends.  It can be, and often is, a cruel world out there.  I bet of all the things you’re expecting your adulthood to be, you won’t be expecting the harsh reality of those that occupy the planet with you caring very little about your well being and your success.  Don’t let people, their actions, or their lack of care and concern make you lose sight of your goals in life.  Be the best YOU can be.

There was once a guidance counselor at my husband’s school that discouraged him from going to college.  The guidance counselor said such damaging things like, “You clearly are not college material.”  That stuck with my husband, and honestly, it discouraged him a great deal.  It was, indeed, damaging to hear the guidance counselor, of all people, say this to him when he was looking for … well … guidance … for his future plans. My husband certainly didn’t go into the office that day expecting THAT.  Thankfully, though, he has a spirit of determination, and those words were actually the words he needed to hear.  He didn’t give up like ones would do under those circumstances being told such things.  Instead, he forged ahead, and he went to two technical colleges, and THEN he entered the big university where he graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Mechanical Engineering!

Don’t EVER discourage someone when they come to you seeking advice.  Especially if you’re in a position such as this guidance counselor!  Instead, be a great encouragement to them.  My husband went in there expecting encouragement from the guidance counselor, but instead that was not what he received.  Yet, in the long run, he proved the guidance counselor wrong!  He not only went to two technical colleges where he obtained an Associates Degree, he went on to the big university where he obtained his Bachelor Degree!  Although he’s never gone back to that guidance counselor to show them just how wrong they were about him, I wonder if the thought has ever crossed his mind.

What are you expecting?  Where are you in life and what are you looking forward to, anticipating, or expecting? Are you expecting to go on to bigger and better things?  Who is stopping you then?  Go for it and live your dream!  If there is a way possible for you to embark on the path that will lead you to your destiny, do it!

Live your dream.  Reach for the stars!  You CAN do it!

 

Family Devotional Bible

I remember it all very well.  Looking back on my childhood years, I recall this big shelf of books.  Lots and lots of books!  And there I sat looking through them all to find the one that would keep my attention.  What captivated me was this rather large, beige book that felt like it had a leather cover.  There was a picture of Jesus on the front, and my little eyes marveled at the man before me.  At that age, knee high to a grasshopper, I thought that was truly a picture of Jesus right there on the cover.  I remember staring into His beautiful eyes before running my fingers along the corner of the cover and opening the Good Book.  Page after page was filled with scriptures, of course, but my, oh my, the pictures within this book that almost told the story all by themselves.  I was mesmerized by each and every story with pictures to go along with it!

Fast forward all of these years later, and I am almost reliving the moment. This time, it is through my youngest daughter.

When the mail lady pulled up in our driveway honking the horn, I knew she had a package for us.  The only one I was expecting at that point was the one containing the ESV Family Devotional Bible by Crossway.  I thanked the mail lady, and we had a brief conversation before she pulled away to continue her route.  My daughter sat on the burgundy wrought iron bench in the front of our house looking out over our flowerbed.  We have bird feeders and a bird bath out here, and that is one of our absolute favorite spots in the entire yard!  As I walked toward her, she couldn’t help but see the package in my arms.  Curiosity killed the cat as she asked, “What’s that?!”   We typically always have to play the Close-Your-Eyes-And-Hold-Out-Your-Hand-For-A-Big-Surprise-Game.  As I placed the bible in her hands, she opened her eyes, immediately widened them as she said, “Wow!”  I smiled as she began to thumb through the first few pages.

That was all it took.  She was hooked!  Just like I was as a little girl when I discovered our family bible with illustrations!

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I wondered if she would just look through the bible that day and put it aside, but much to my delight, she didn’t!  When we went on a trip the next week, she carried this bible with her!  As we drove along, she would read the stories out of the bible, look at the pictures, and then quiz us on the story line.  Some of the stories from the bibles we could remember well while others would take some brushing up on our end to recall all that happened.  She was so happy to take the opportunity to  refresh our memory as she read aloud parts of the stories to us.

This Family Devotional Bible has become a favorite in our household with our little girl.  If you have little ones yourself, we encourage you to enter our giveaway below!

Special thanks to FlyBy Productions/Propeller for allowing us to participate in this giveaway.  I did receive a free sample of this product, but the opinions expressed are mine and were not influenced by this opportunity to review the bible.

The Winds of Change

As Winter slowly fades and flowers emerge indicating Spring has arrived, the winds of change blow in our lives in other ways as well.

Sometimes things happen that we do not understand.  Maybe we’re not meant to understand each and every thing but are to, instead, trust that God has a plan for our lives.  Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us of this!

There are times when we’re left with our head spinning questioning motives behind individuals that seemed to have made a sudden change in their lives.  They say or do things seemingly out of characteristic for them, but then we ask ourselves if we ever really knew the true person that they were on the inside.  People are so good at faking it to get what they want, and often times, they take advantage of innocent souls that just want to love and be loved in this life.

Have you encountered a wolf in sheep’s clothing that has come into your life?  I think if we’re honest, we all have at one point or another, and this encounter has left us shaking our heads.  How can a person proclaim to be one way, yet their actions scream that they are the complete opposite?  It is true that actions speak louder than words.

Some may say that we’re the fool for allowing this person back into our lives, but who wouldn’t want a second chance if they screwed up royally the first time?  God forgives us, so shouldn’t we also extend that forgiveness to others?  What is tricky here is trying to determine who is genuine and true, and who is trying to pull the wool over your eyes.  We don’t always know the answer to this until the truth is revealed later down the road.  Yet, we still aren’t the fools because of our forgiving nature.  They are because they continue on in their foolish ways.  One day it will all catch up with them.  God doesn’t like ugly, and evil will not EVER win!  God will make sure of it!

Ah, but we live and learn.  We aren’t sorry for the chances that we gave, we just feel sorry for the individuals who blow it time and time again not realizing what they are losing in the process.  Not only are they missing out on an awesome individual that would have done anything in the world for them, but they are letting the entire world know with their actions alone that they are not trustworthy, lack morals, values, and aren’t a person of integrity or good character.  Honestly, in the end, we feel sorry for them.  After all, you are only as good as your word.  We remember when, in the good ole days, your word was your bond.  Now, it seems to be all lip service, and they could care less who they use or step on along the way.

Rise up, Children of God, and put on your armor; the armor of God.  In the world we’re living in today, we truly need it!  When lives are not valued any longer and individuals seem to sink to lower levels, we scratch our heads and wonder what will happen with this generation that feels they are “entitled” and no one can touch them.  They say and do things yet aren’t accountable for their actions.  The parents that should be disciplining them are the ones teaching them by their bad example.  The children grow up seeing parents lie and cheat on each other, often time being their alibi or covering for their parent’s indiscretions.  Is it truly any wonder that they turn out the way they do then?   Or what about the teens drinking, doing drugs, “vaping,” having sex in the backseat of their cars on the side of the road?  Parents don’t seem to think their kids can do any wrong, and if you point it out to them, oh they’ll just cover for the little brats anyway.  Right is right and WRONG is wrong!

It’s a sad world we’re living in.  And I ask that you join me in prayer for this entire nation!  We need God – not just on Sunday mornings when one occasionally wishes to step foot into a church or when they are in trouble and only then think to pray to God.  We need God in our daily lives and heart.  We need Him in the homes with Godly parents teaching and raising up Godly children who will be our leaders one day.  We need people with high morals and values leading the way.  Not what we have today with moral decay.  It is scary to think of the graduating class this May with some so called “adults” that lack morals, values, integrity and have the character of a lowly snake in the grass.

We need God in the schools – in the classrooms – and we need God in the White House running this Nation!!  What happened to “One Nation Under God?!”

God has been taken out of so many things, and yet we wonder why the world is in the shape that it’s in today.  Plain and simple, we need more of God and less of the worldly influence.

Rise up, Parents, and raise children that will lead us all straight to the foot of the cross; to Jesus!

He is the only one that can truly save us all.

 

Mental Health Month

The entire month of May is Mental Health Month.  This is a great opportunity to remind everyone that it is okay not to be okay!

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As I thought about this topic, I did a little research as to when it first originated.  Much to my surprise, I discovered that May has been observed as National Mental Health Awareness Month since 1949.  I had NO idea!  Did you?

During this month, advocates and activists seek to draw attention and awareness to the mental health issues that touch people’s lives all across this nation.

Did you realize that as many as one in five Americans are affected by mental illness?  Neither did I!

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I’d say it’s time for us to wake up and realize that people are hurting.  Some hide it so well behind the many masks that they wear, but deep down inside, they are in great turmoil!  The vast majority are suffering in silence, afraid to speak out for fear of the stigma attached to those with mental illnesses.

When a mental illness is left untreated, the person soon begins to have suicidal thoughts.  They are consumed with feelings of hopelessness.  This is when we need to be screaming from the roof tops that HELP IS AVAILABLE!!

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Sadly, there is a large number that do not seek treatment.  The harsh realization is that more people die by suicide than automobile accidents!  Does that not shock you and shake you to your very core?  It’s time to CHANGE that!

It breaks my heart to think of those suffering in silence, plagued with darkness, feeling as if the only way out is to take their own lives.  They’re so afraid of the shame and humiliation they will feel or their family members will feel if they seek help.  Yet, asking for help is the bravest thing they could possibly do!!

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Will you join me in breaking the silence?  Will you join in support for tearing down all the negatives that society has some how placed on those with a mental illness?

No one asks to be mentally ill.  NO ONE!

Here at Light Love Hope, we have such compassion for each and every person that has ever struggled with mental health issues.

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Please, if you or someone you know is struggling, reach out for help.  We need you to know that help is available, and there are proven methods in dealing with mental illness.  You do not have to fear being judged any longer.  Help is available, and we encourage you to find a mental healthcare professional in your area to discuss options that are available for you.

If you, a loved one, or a valued friend are feeling suicidal, please reach out for support.  You can start here, if you feel you cannot ask for help from those around you.  Please go the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention where help is available now!

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Your life matters!

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Once a movie, now the theme of our lives since January 1, 2016:  A Series of Unfortunate Events.  Honestly, that is the first thing that popped into my mind to describe the past four months.

There was a series of unfortunate events that spiraled out of control for a bit.  It left such heartache and pain in its path, and after the mass destruction, it was hard to pick up the pieces of my daughter’s shattered heart.  I’ll never forget her running into the living room crying hysterically as she fell into my arms sobbing deep, uncontrollable sobs.  Her heart shattered right there on the floor all around us.  I’ve never felt more helpless in all of my life.  My daughter was hurting, and I couldn’t fix it.  In the past, I could always kiss it and make it better when she scraped her knee or fell off of her bike.  This time was way different, and I knew all I could do was hold her and pray for God to help us in this situation.

For months, we prayed.  We knew that this was bigger than all of us, and only God could change hardened hearts.  While we wished, prayed, and hoped for an answer in January, it just simply does not happen in our timing.  When God seems silent, just know that He is working in the background.  We just may not ever know it at the time, but if you’re patient and continue to have faith, God will reveal all in HIS timing.

And … He has.

Friday, my daughter called once more in tears. I could barely understand a word she was saying through her sobs.  As she cried, I started crying, too.  Finally, I grasped what my daughter was trying to say.  An apology had been extended to her, out of the blue!  We were both taken back by this, and she asked what she should do.  Knowing she was about to be late going into work at that point, I told her to just breathe … and set the message aside until after work.  She and I would pray about it and decide how to respond.

God … You truly WERE listening when we prayed, and You WERE at work the entire time!

That evening, she responded to the message through tears and nervousness.  Hoping, waiting, wanting … And then a message popped up addressed to me.  A very humble, respectful apology that I believe was heart felt.  We hugged and cried together for God surely answered our prayers.

My daughter cried once more, but this time it was different.  Her tears fell out of pure happiness over an opportunity for redemption.  For a love she thought she’d lost forever has now returned asking forgiveness and vowing to prove that he is a changed man.

While others may not understand why anyone should receive a second chance after the series of unfortunate events, we know that God has forgiven us ALL for things we’ve done in our lives that were unpleasing to Him.  If God forgives us, so shouldn’t we also extend our forgiveness to those that are humble and sincere?  I believe we shall take this chance and allow this young man to prove himself.  If we didn’t offer another chance, we would always wonder what could have been.  And so we go, with God on our side, seeking His guidance and asking for His protection over their hearts and lives.

We know things won’t be roses and rainbows all the time.  We also know that there is a lot of work that has to be done here for him to pick up the shattered pieces of my daughter’s heart and put them back together again to make her whole.  I believe he is capable, if he invites God into his relationship.

No outside interference from non-supporting friends or family will be tolerated either.  If people cannot genuinely support these two, then they need to keep their negative thoughts to themselves.

I believe that people can change if they truly want to.  When their heart has been heavy and hurting for so long, they have to make a decision to continue living the way they have been OR to make a lasting change for the better.

I believe out of the ashes and the pain, a beautiful love will emerge stronger than ever.

 

God Is For Us, In Us, With Us

As you’re going about your day, do you feel as if negative energy is trying to pull you down?  Maybe you’re feeling some kind of way, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.  Your thoughts are invaded with things from the past which still seem to haunt you in the present.

Or, maybe you’ve battled with an addiction previously, conquered it with the help of God, and yet here comes temptation flaunting itself in your face once more.  Recently we had a friend pull out a can of snuff.  In conversation, he reached in his pocket, then offered the can to my husband and I.  He stopped what he was talking about long enough to say that his mama always told him it was rude to partake of something in front of others without asking if they’d like some first so he was offering his chewing tobacco to us.   He laughed as he extended it in my direction knowing that I surely would not ever take it.   That’s when I laughed, declined the offer, but politely told him that not too long ago this innocent offer would have been troublesome for us.  He stared back at me as I finished by saying that thankfully my husband kicked the habit a few years ago and no longer chews tobacco.  This guy’s face dropped, and he let his arm, which was previously extended out in front of him with the can firmly in his grasp, drop with it.  He stumbled over his words for a second before saying, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know …”  We were smiling when we told him that it was no big deal now, but he insisted that it was.  He said he did not want to be the temptation of his brothern and that he did not want to do anything that might cause my husband to be weak.  My husband spoke up then and said it was a hard demon to slay back then, but he did it.  He went on to say that he’s at a place now where the sight, smell, nor seeing someone dip no longer bothers him.

Maybe it isn’t something as simple as a can of chewing tobacco that someone offers to you.  Perhaps you were once an alcoholic who tried to drown your sorrows in the bottle of whiskey, and yet when you’re out with friends now, they order drinks from the bar.  Would you have enough willpower not to order one, too, knowing the affects alcohol has had on you and your life previously?

Temptation is all around, even in the form of what we place before our eyes.  Whether it’s in magazines, on television, in movies, or even on our smart phones in the search engines or social media.  Temptation abounds.   You have to constantly guard your heart, mind, and soul in all areas.

 I’d like to encourage you with a few scriptures today, one which speaks of taking a stand against the devil’s schemes.  We have to be aware at all times that he lurks trying to destroy our lives.  I had someone just today talking about how when they are happy and are enjoying an outing with their family, it seems like something is going to happen that will cause them to lose their temper or get anxious.  They questioned why this seems to always happen when they’re all out there just trying to have fun.  Why?  My theory is that the devil cannot stand to see you happy.  He prefers that you are miserable, and he will do everything to ensure that you live a miserable existence.  When we’re living for God, the devil gets angry and attacks us.  Notice how when you’re living in sin, it doesn’t seem like you’re bothered.  That’s because the devil has you right where he wants you, in a world full of sinful ways.  But, the moment that you try to redeem yourself and get back on the straight and narrow with God’s help, the devil begins to launch his attacks against you.  Just know this.  GOD is stronger than any temptation that the devil tries to put in front of you.  GOD will not allow the devil to win.  Evil will NOT prevail.  God has the final say, and I want you to know that God Is For Us, In Us, With Us – and isn’t that a reassuring truth?!  You do not ever have to feel like you’re in this alone.  God is ALWAYS there.  He is our biggest fan!  And if you ask Him into your heart, there He will stay!  AND, what’s more is that God is with us no matter where we may go or what we may face.  He’s there fighting with us and often times FOR us.

Be encouraged today and allow God to help you replace those negative thoughts with good, wholesome thoughts.  If you’re replaying a difficult situation over in your mind with the shoulda-coulda-woulda thought process – STOP!   Literally, say STOP out loud if you have to in order to redirect your thoughts.  Or, try this.  Wear a rubber band around your wrist, and every time you start going down that same ole destructive path with those thoughts, POP the rubber band on your wrist.  OUCH!  This is a reminder because it HURTS … physically, yes it does.  Not only that, though, it HURTS us when we start hearing the beep … beep … beep of backing up and going in the past over a situation that is already over with!  There is no going back.  There is no changing what happened or the outcome.  What’s done is done.  Stop going back over the situation in your mind rehearsing it 14 different ways.  STOP the madness.  Just like the physical pain you feel when you snap that rubber band, you’re causing yourself mental anguish by allowing the thoughts to continue!

Try this.

For every negative that comes into your head, replace it with a positive thought.  Praise God for things that you are grateful for.  If you have gratitude in your heart and mind, your thoughts will follow.  If the devil tries to get on your shoulder and whisper negatives in your ear, stop him in his tracks and start thinking GOOD thoughts.  Think of how beautiful your children are when they are just standing on a white sandy beach looking out at the rolling waves as they crash against the rocks.  Let your mind be consumed by the laughter that fills the air when your child runs toward you as the waves lick the shore.  Shift your mind and shift your focus!  You must take control of those thoughts that try to run free.  You wouldn’t let your horse buck, kick, and bolt off if you were on it, now would you?  NO!  So don’t let such a thing happen in your mind!  Just as you would attempt to regain control over your horse, regain control over your thoughts.  Ask God to help you, and I assure you that HE WILL!!

The verses I mentioned earlier are as follows.  Think on these things and go forth to enjoy this beautiful day that the Lord has given us!

Ephesians 6:11,

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

John 10:10,

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:

I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Inspiration Abounds

Monday, we meet again.

I know, it’s so hard to drag yourself out from under the plush comforter where you’ve been all nestled in your warm bed all night!  With the blare of the alarm clock, it signals that Monday is here once again, and you peel your eyes open just in time to hit the snooze button.

Just 10 more minutes.

And those 10 minutes are more precious than GOLD!

With the alarm blaring once more, you sling the covers over to the side as you plant your feet on the floor.  Yawning and stretching, you make your way to the coffee pot where you try to figure out how to get this week going in the right direction.

Who couldn’t use a little extra motivation, right?

Well, you’re in luck because ChristianQuotes.Info  provides that and more!

I have been a long time fan of inspirational quotes, and believe me when I tell you that inspiration abounds on this website!

As I’ve gone through their website, I have found many quotes that have spoken right to my heart or that have been a great reminder of how we should start and end the day.  Such an example can be found here where it says:

Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night.

~George Herbert

While other sites just provide the quote, ChristianQuotes.Info goes a step further.  If you scroll through their site and find a quote that you enjoy, be sure to click on it to find hidden treasures!  On this particular quote I mentioned above, once you click on the actual quote, it takes you to a page where there is an article written on Avoiding Temptation, Avoiding Anxiety, and Avoiding Darkness.  They sum it all up with a Conclusion as well to tie it all together.  I was very pleased when I discovered that this wasn’t just another site with neat inspirational quotes. No, they went a step further, and I’m so glad they did!   There is even a place below all that I’ve mentioned where you can add your thoughts by replying to the author.

Here’s another of my favorites as I’ve gone through the site.

I’m a little pencil in the hand of a writing God,

who is sending a love letter to the world.

Mother Teresa

Once I found this quote that spoke to me, I clicked on it to find more hidden gems!  I enjoyed reading the author’s thoughts on Loving With Words, Loving With Deeds, and Loving Our Enemies.  Boy, that last one can be tough at times!

If you’re having trouble getting motivated on this Monday, take a few minutes to browse the many inspirational quotes found on ChristianQuotes.Info.  It is sure to get ANY day off to a great start!

Here’s wishing you a bright, beautiful day!  Be blessed and be a blessing!

 

And The Doves Cry

A music icon from my teenage years has passed away.  Earlier today we heard the news.   Although I didn’t want to believe it, shortly thereafter, it was confirmed by his publicist.  Prince passed away at the age of 57 years old.

That is SO incredibly young!!

I’m sure Prince had plans, just like you and I … and yet, he will never get the opportunity to act on those plans he had for the coming days, weeks, and months of 2016.  I’m sure he did not ring in the new year on January 1st with the knowledge that his days would be short in the new year.

We all think we have so much time on our hands, and yet, we could be called home to be with the Lord at any given moment.  Is your heart right?  If today was your last day, would you be ready to meet your maker?

The news brought such sadness deep within my heart.  Although the world has lost other music icons in the past, I was not affected by this as much as I was today by Prince’s passing.  As much as I loved Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston, I did not cry when they passed.  I was sad, don’t get me wrong.  However, today when I heard the news about Prince, I was overcome with such sadness that literally brought me to tears.  While I didn’t sob deep, heart wrenching sobs, the tears stung my eyes for the passing of this man.  I remember vividly turning up the volume as my friend and I danced wildly under her garage to his songs.  We made up all sorts of dance moves, and we danced our hearts out to songs like “When Doves Cry,” “Little Red Corvette,” “Purple Rain,” etc.   And now, he is gone, but his music and memory will live on.

I’m not sure I was emotional due to any type of real attachment other than growing up listening to his music.  I think deep down I was so emotional due to the reminder that any moment it could be you or I that is called home.  Time is short.  Each day that passes we are losing people – some that are very near and dear to our hearts, while others are merely people we heard of whether they were in the public eye or a friend of a friend.  Each life is precious!

I’m reminded of my age and the uncertainty of what lies ahead.  I don’t want to leave my family.  I want to stay right here with my two daughters, my husband, and my parents living, loving, and enjoying life!  I’m sure Prince and all of the others gone before him wanted to remain with their families also, and yet, their time was cut short.

I realize that people are living longer lives these days.  I just heard of a woman celebrating her 100th birthday recently.  She is in pretty good health considering her age, although she does have a touch of dementia.  She recognizes her loved ones as family, but occasionally, she will not be able to call them by name.  But, she made it to 100 years old!  I hope I make it to 100 years old and am still in good health as well.

I have said for years that I want to be a very old woman rocking my great-great-grandchildren in my lap on my front porch.  I pray that God will grant me my heart’s desire.

It is such a sad, sad thought of having to leave my family one day.  I hope that God will allow me to live a lot longer than Prince, and yet I realize I am not guaranteed that gift.  No one is!

At the time of this writing, I am knocking on the door of 45.  I will be 45 years old this September.  The older I get, the more I realize that time truly does fly by.  I can’t seem to comprehend how, when I was younger, time seemed to crawl … and now it seems a year is gone in the blink of an eye.

I sit back and watch all of the “memories” that pop up on Facebook, and I just sit there at times staring at the screen.  It is so hard to believe that much time has gone by … two years … four years … the other day, a memory from six years ago popped up!  I was taken aback by it!  It did not seem like six years had passed since that moment in time, and yet … it had.

My point in all of this is to get busy LIVING while you still can.  Get out there and enjoy life.  Do what makes you happy and what brings you joy!  Spend time doing things that soothe your heart and soul.  Enjoy every moment possible with your family.  Don’t bury your head in your phone in their presence.  BE PRESENT for them and with them!

My parents are going to be 69 years old this year.  My mom’s birthday is just 10 days away.  I thank GOD for my parents and for allowing them to be on this earth for 69 years.  I pray that He allows them to have 30 more years here in good health, but I fear each and every day that something will happen to them.  I don’t want to ever lose my parents!  They were here just today visiting with me, and I thank God for each and every moment that I get to talk to them, hug them, and tell them that I love them.

I wish we could all live forever!  I know that when Jesus died on the cross, He gave us the gift of eternal life through Him if we only believe and ask Him into our hearts.  It’s losing people this side of heaven, though, that is so extremely heart wrenching.  When they join the angels in song up in Heaven, we are left behind mourning and grieving.  One sweet day, we will be reunited with them.  Until then, it is hard living our lives here on Earth without them.  From losing my sister, my granddaddy, my best friend in the whole world, it never gets easier when we lose someone we love.  It brings some comfort knowing that if we all have our hearts right, we will be reunited in Heaven … one sweet day.

Today, Prince’s family, friends, and fans are left behind to remember this music icon.  We put his songs on repeat and soak in every musical chord he played on his guitar, every note he sang, and we marvel at this music legend taken too soon.

And the doves cry.

 

 

The Best of Friends

I never knew what I would encounter on any given day as I walked through the halls of my high school.

On the first day of my Freshmen year, I remember feeling self conscious and unsure of myself as I looked for my first class.  It didn’t help matters any when one of the Seniors, thinking he was being cute, yelled out for all to hear, “Hey, little girl … Kindergarten is over there …” as he pointed across campus.

Laughter followed by those that overheard his remarks, and there was even some finger pointing as well.  They acted as if they had never seen a short person before.  I just kept right on walking, looking down so as not to make eye contact with anyone, especially those that were making fun of me.

As the school year progressed, I stayed mainly to myself.  It was an awkward time in my life.  I wanted so badly to “fit in” but couldn’t have stood out more!

Then, one day between classes, I saw a girl about the same height as me with long brown hair.  She appeared to be new at the school, and she walked with that all familiar look just as I had on my very first day of high school.  With her head down, trying not to be noticed, she’d glance up ever so often to see if anyone was watching.

I can’t remember who spoke first, but the “short” girl with long brown hair became my very best friend in the whole world!  Her name was Robin.

When Robin entered my life, it didn’t matter that I no longer seemed to “fit in” with anyone else because I fit in with her!  

We seemed to always be together.  If I wasn’t at her house, she was at mine.  We even got our very first job together in high school at a fast food restaurant.  We did everything together!

I had never felt so accepted before or so much a part of something as I did when Robin and I became best friends.  We could tell each other anything!  We’d laugh at the silliest of things, even getting the case of the giggles just by looking at each other.

Ah, yes … I have fond memories of Robin.

We seemed inseparable … up until the point where she got her first really serious, steady boyfriend.  We tried to still hang out and even double date, but Howard claimed the majority of her time.  I was understanding, yet admittedly sad that it seemed I was losing my very best friend in the entire world … while she was gaining a relationship she poured her whole being into.

As time and circumstances would have it, we slowly drifted further apart.  And, I returned to no longer fitting in with others.

After graduation, I received a phone call that I will never forget.  The person on the other end of the line called to tell me that Robin was dead.  She died in a car accident.  I remember holding the phone but being completely frozen, unable to move.  I managed to breathe, although I still am not sure how at that point in time.  I listened to the words coming through the phone and into my ears, and yet, I was having trouble comprehending what the person was saying.

My best friend from high school was … gone.

Shortly thereafter, I received a phone call from Robin’s sister confirming the news.  She was so much younger than us, yet she reached out to let me know what happened and of the funeral arrangements.  Her family even offered to allow me to ride with them several hours away to where Robin would be laid to rest.  I seriously contemplated but later denied their offer.  I preferred to keep the memories of Robin alive from happier times, not to see her in a casket.  It wasn’t long after this phone conversation with her sister that I received another phone call from a “friend” asking if I was going to the funeral.  When I said, “No …” I received such judgment in return with the “How COULD you even think of not going to the funeral?  You were her BEST FRIEND!”   Oh yes, judgement is surely what I needed at a time like that!   Even still, I was firm in my decision.  To this day, I have not regretted it either.

A few weeks ago, Robin’s sister found me on Facebook!  She sent me a message followed by a friend request.  Tears welled up in my eyes as I read her message.  She was only seven years old when I first met Robin and started going to her house.  Little Charity would follow us around as she wanted to be included.  I never had a younger sister – but an older one – so I thought it was cute having her follow us around.  Robin was not entirely amused by it, though.

Charity and I talked in messages, and we shared memories of Robin.  She and I both cried a little during our conversation.

One thing that Charity and I have in common now, and oh how I wish we didn’t, is the fact that both of us have lost our one and only sibling – our older sisters!   I’d like to think that our sisters found each other in Heaven and are friends keeping each other company until we get there.  My sister had a problem with fitting in as well, and I’d like to think that Robin helped her feel at ease and welcome in her presence just as I felt when we became fast friends years ago.

I never had a friend like Robin before, and I doubt I ever will again.  I didn’t have very many female friends that I hung around because it seemed that drama followed.  Imagine that – drama and teenage girls – yep, it is still that way today as I’ve watched my own daughter struggle to fit in and to escape the drama that other girls bring with them.  During the better part of our friendship, though, it wasn’t like that with Robin at all.  We truly were best friends!

As a forty-something year old adult woman, I still have feelings of not fitting in, and I doubt I’ll ever feel so at ease and have such peace within a friendship again as I had with Robin.  Just when I started to feel sad about this again, I stumbled across a message that said, “I never intended for you to fit in.  ~God”  Wow.  God really does know what you need, right when you need it.  I feel like He honestly sent that message to me right when I needed it most today.  Maybe I truly am not meant to fit in with others, for “fitting in” might mean going the way of the world instead of following Him.  I’d rather NOT fit in then, instead, I’d rather stand out or just be a loner.  At least with being a loner, there isn’t quite so much drama to deal with.  At other times, I think it would be nice to have a friend to have lunch with or get together for some girl talk occasionally.  I know deep in the back of my mind, though, that no one will ever fill the void that came about with losing my very best friend in the whole world.

Today has been filled with memories and a few tears.  As I reflect, I am thankful for the “short” girl with long brown hair that allowed me to fit in with her during those rough high school years.   We were, indeed, the best of friends, and oh the memories I will forever hold close to my heart!

In loving memory:

Robin

 

 

 

I Am Not Ashamed

On April 7, 2016, we would like to see #IAmNotAshamed trending all over social media.  Why?  Because, we would like to raise awareness for mental illness and suicide prevention.  This is for any one that HAS a mental illness or has a friend or family member that they love with all of their heart that has a mental illness.  This is also for any survivors of suicide loss.  It is for anyone that has ever contemplated suicide, and it is to encourage others to reach out.  You do NOT have to be silent any longer.

There was once a time when people were so ashamed if they were diagnosed with a mental illness.  They felt as if society would shun them, and often times, they did due to not understanding mental illnesses.  People were uneducated about them and afraid of what they did not understand.  I have a friend right now who has been battling with her Bi-Polar diagnosis for YEARS.  I’m talking 30 plus years.  She knew early on that something wasn’t quite right, but she could not put her finger on it.  After years of being misdiagnosed, often times being told that it was “all in her head” as if she were making it all up, she felt so much shame over what she was going through.  When she was officially diagnosed and began treatment, she had a mixture of great relief tied in once more with a tremendous amount of shame.  Yet, no one asks to be mentally ill no more than anyone asks to be Diabetic. Why, then, is it more acceptable in the world to be Diabetic, yet people who are suffering from mental illness hang their head low and are eat up with guilt and shame?  No one ASKS for this.  It is a hand that has been dealt to them, and they are trying to cope the best way they know how.  It would help if society did not label them, shun them, or act as if they need to be locked away from the rest of the world forever.  In some cases, there are individuals that do need supervision thus the need for special inpatient care.  However, others are extremely high functioning individuals, just as my friend I was talking about earlier.  She holds herself together quite well in public to the point that you would never even imagine that she has a mental illness.  She is highly educated, having earned her Masters Degree, and she presents herself in a polite and dignified manner.  Yet, inside, it is a constant struggle each and every day to get out of bed and simply function.  WHY should she walk around full of shame over her diagnosis?  She sought HELP, and that is the most important thing right there.  Yes, she has a mental illness, but she sought help!  AND she is on medicine now that they finally got her diagnosis right AND have the right combination of medicines in her system to help.   She has to take medicine for the rest of her life, but she should not have to feel ashamed no more than a person taking medicine to maintain and help their diabetes.

A few years ago, a young lady that is very near and dear to my heart reached out for help!  She was struggling with depression, and it took a LOT for her to admit this.  I’ll never forget us driving down the road just randomly talking about anything and everything when she suddenly fell silent. I noticed her voice began to shake when she finally started to speak as she asked, “Does depression run in families?”  I knew exactly why she asked this as her grandmother and aunt suffered with depression.  I realized the seriousness of the situation and that she wouldn’t have just randomly asked this question.  I eased into this subject matter, and soon she revealed her struggles.  Little by little, she opened up.  As she shared, I knew she needed to be seen by a medical professional immediately.  I did not want to push her or scare her away, so I listened as she began opening up more and more.  We talked for a long time, and finally I asked if she would be open to speaking to a healthcare professional.  Thankfully, she was, and we made an appointment the very next day.  I told her I’d go with her to the appointment, and I did.  The doctor started her on anti depressants and referred her to a counselor.  I went with her to the counselor’s appointment as well for moral support.  She began taking the medicine daily and talking with the counselor on a weekly basis.  She was so brave for admitting that she was struggling!  She took such a courageous step in getting the help she needed!  Today she is thriving and enjoying life to the fullest, and I couldn’t be more proud of her!

I also know someone that has a lot of anxiety.  I used to be JUST like that, eat up with it at times.  There was a time when I was ashamed of how out of control my anxiety would get, but then I realized that I had to get to the source of what was making me feel so anxious.  The root cause was that I was in an unhealthy, toxic environment at work that was not helping.  Actually, that is when the anxiety surfaced and grew worse.  When I wasn’t working, I did not have the anxiety or panic attacks.  But going into work each and every day to coworkers that took great pride in throwing things across my desk, placing things over what I was currently writing when I was on the phone with a client, and barging into my office unannounced making demands on me when I was working on payroll and confidential information … just to name a few of the things that I had to put up with on a daily basis … added to my anxiety to the point that I started to dread going into work because of what I knew I would face that day.  I understand that counselors say that I was causing my own anxiety within myself when I would think of these situations or would be put in these types of situations.  It was my thoughts about the situations that caused my anxiety, yet WHY did the people doing this NOT respect me enough to treat me BETTER?  That is what I could not understand.  I would never treat someone like this, and yet here I was subjected to it every … single … day!  Monday through Friday of EVERY week!  I thought I would give the people the benefit of the doubt as maybe, just maybe, they didn’t realize what they were doing or how they were coming across.  Maybe they were just stressed and it was coming out in this way without their knowledge.  However, when I spoke to them about it, they let me know that they were aware of how they were coming across yet did not care because their actions toward me were NOT going to change.  So I was expected to continue to put up with this behavior?  Ah, I think NOT!  I tried to deal with it the best way I knew how because I LOVED my job.  I did not enjoy being mistreated by my coworkers, but I enjoyed the work that I did.   I had a counselor that I worked with tell me that if I can’t change the situation, I needed to change the way I viewed the situation.  While it was true that I could not change my coworker’s actions and behavior toward me, I did have the power to change the situation.  When you’re in an unhealthy, toxic environment that isn’t going to change – even after attempting to talk to management over it – the only choice you have is to stay and put up with it or LEAVE … and can you guess which one I chose to do? I LEFT!  I took control of the situation when the individuals would not change, and I LEFT!  I removed myself from that toxic environment.  It took a lot for me to finally throw in the towel and say that I just would not subject myself to this treatment each and every day.  BUT it has been one of the best things I could have done!   It was only after watching Julie Robert’s movie, “Eat, Love, Pray,” that I came to realize that things needed to change in my life … and change they DID!!   Why continue to go into a job where they treat you this way?  The question of the century is:  WHY wouldn’t management do anything about it?  I have no idea, but that is why the bullies get worse!  They are allowed to continue with their mistreatment of others because the “higher ups” won’t do a darn thing about it.  I was once eat up with anxiety, taking anti-anxiety pills like they were candy to try to cope with the mistreatment from others.  However, when I left that job, I NO LONGER had to take those pills!  The anxiety seemed to fade away, and it was confirmation that what I did by quitting that job was the best thing for me and my family!  There was once a time when I was ashamed that I had issues with anxiety, and I was told I was “too sensitive.”  But, NO MORE!  I speak freely of the anxiety that filled my body so that others will know that they can speak freely themselves!  You do not have to remain a prisoner!   I encourage you to reach out for help if you feel that you have an overwhelming amount of anxiety in your life.  IF you need help coping, so be it!  ASK for it!   Even if you only have to take the medicine for a short amount of time, that is what it is there for!!  You don’t have to worry about becoming dependent upon it.  It can be used short term, and then you can taper off of it when it is no longer needed.  I just praise God that I left that toxic work environment four years ago, and PRAISE GOD I haven’t taken an anti-anxiety pill since!

I also want to speak to you from the standpoint of being a survivor of suicide loss.  My sister took her own life after suffering with Postpartum Depression.  I feel that if my sister had been in her right mind, this never would have happened.  She wouldn’t have intentionally inflicted this pain upon our family.  She would not have left her two week old daughter without a mother.  Had she been in her right mind, she would still be here.  I believe that to this very day!  My sister suffered – in silence – as most people do that have Postpartum Depression.  They are so consumed with guilt and shame as this is supposed to be the happiest time in their lives when they have a little baby!  Yet, they are truly struggling and are afraid to reach out for help.  Oh how I wish my sister had reached out.  I wish she had let us know before it had gotten to the point to where she felt helpless in her struggle.  I wish she had let us get her help before she took matters into her own hands.  If I could turn back the hands of time, she would still be here with us as I would have moved Heaven and Earth to get her help … if she had only reached out at that critical moment when she felt all hope was lost.  I imagine she felt ashamed that when she should have been so overcome with joy, she was consumed with grief.  Postpartum Depression is hard to understand, for the person going through it and the person watching their loved ones suffer.  But, please know that you don’t have to be ashamed … if Postpartum Depression has touched your life, you don’t have to sit in silence.  You don’t have to be a statistic.  You don’t have to take matters into your hands.  Help is available!  Please talk to someone and let them know how you are truly struggling so you can get the help you need.  IF you are a family member of someone that has just had a baby, please watch them carefully and be there … just be there with them and for them as much as possible.  IF you notice ANYTHING out of the ordinary, don’t wait – get them help immediately.  Be there for them and let them know that they do not need to be ashamed to ask for help.

That’s the point I want to make in this post today.  It takes a very strong and courageous person to admit that they need help!   There is NO shame … NONE whatsoever!  HELP IS AVAILABLE!  You do not have to suffer in silence.  Please, reach out and get the help you need.  Take that step!  I did with my anxiety, and my friend did with her mental illness.  Now, I encourage you to as well.

Will you join me and many others today?  Stand up and say, “I am not ashamed!”  In doing so, you just might be the encouragement that others need to prompt them to reach out for help!  Get to talking about mental illness.  Talk about anxiety and depression.  Let’s also talk about Postpartum Depression.  Let’s bring awareness to suicide prevention!

If you, yourself, are struggling, talk to a friend or loved one – ask for prayer from your pastor – and call your doctor to make an appointment.  HELP IS AVAILABLE!   Please, reach out!

#IAmNotAshamed

 

 

 

The Blues

Today I had the case of the blues.  We had so much fun on Spring Break this past week that it was bound to happen, I suppose.

The house was too quiet with my husband returning to work, my oldest daughter returning to college and my youngest returning to school.  I was left with just my doggies, who really are tremendous companions during the day, and my thoughts.

Thoughts are funny little creatures.  I’d like to know what happens to send signals for the different thoughts that run through our heads on any given day.  Why can’t we funnel in only good thoughts while not allowing bad thoughts to creep into the crevices of our minds and linger there?

For some reason today, my thoughts lingered to my sister and the day we lost her.  She is never truly too far from my thoughts.  I have pictures of her displayed proudly in my bedroom as well as in other areas of the house, so she is constantly “with” me.

I have a portrait of the two of us together right by my vanity.  As I’m putting my makeup on in the mornings, I can glance over at the two of us pictured together in 1996.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined how the next five years would turn out.  While smiling and laughing on a day that my parents requested we go for family portraits since we were adults, to heart breaking, life shattering pain that would follow just a few short years later.

I know for me, my life seemed to be in a whirlwind during that time period.  I wonder some times if that is why I did not have a clue what was truly going on with my sister toward the end.  For a time, I seemed consumed by the troubles in my life not realizing that her life wasn’t as picture perfect as it appeared on the outside.

One of the absolute happiest days of my life was the day I had my first child.  Oh, 1997 was so amazingly beautiful as I welcomed my blonde haired, blue eyed darling into this world.  The year of “firsts” was magical, and I enjoyed all things having to do with mother and child.  I was basking in the happiness of motherhood as I rocked my little darling in my arms, singing to her as I smiled so proudly and thanked God for her.

The year 1998 brought about a divorce that I did not see coming, and the next two years seemed to drag on forever as we went through a long, drawn out court case.  It was really supposed to be a “simple” divorce, but bitterness grew from my ex and it was anything but simple at that point.  After swearing off men forever during this two year period, my divorce was finalized in 2000.  Slowly, I allowed love to persuade me to give it another chance, and I soon began dating my now husband.

I felt like I was emerging after a horrible nightmare.  The monsters chased me and tried to take me down over those two years, but in the end, evil did not win.  I actually remember praying before going into the courtroom for the final hearing, “God, please do not let evil win.”  And … He did not allow evilness to prevail.  God saw me through that ordeal, and I knew that He would walk beside me no matter what I had to face in this life.  Little did I know of what was on the horizon …

After feeling like a prisoner that had been held captive all of that time against her will, I was finally free …

Free at last, free at last … thank God, Almighty, I’m free at last!  Yes, I did actually quote those words that went down in history from the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

One of my fondest memories is of the day my sister pulled into the parking lot at my workplace in her black Firebird.  As I went out to greet her, she stood by her car like the cat that ate the canary.  She handed me an item wrapped ever so nicely that I felt a tad bit guilty as I ripped open the paper.  In her special way, she let me know she was pregnant by the silver baby picture frame I now held in my hands.  Excitement came over me as I squealed loudly and then hugged her around her neck, holding her there for a few minutes as I smiled from ear to ear as we celebrated together.

She allowed me to be there for this very special moment in her life.  The entire time she was pregnant, I got to be there as she told of the doctor appointments, the ultrasounds, and right up until she delivered my beautiful niece on a hot summer day in June of 2001.

And then … our world shattered two weeks later in July as my sister took her own life.  Postpartum depression took it’s toll all too quickly and claimed another life.  She had more than just a case of the blues, but no one truly knew how bad it was … until that day … when it was too late to do anything to save her.

I often wonder if I was too consumed in my own “stuff.”  Guilt tries to creep in, and shame tries to take me down.  Was I that self absorbed that I didn’t even notice?  Or, did she truly just hide it that well.  Honestly, not to let myself off the hook too easily (believe me, it has taken a LOT to get me to this place today as I did blame myself so much in the beginning), but when someone is planning, they are good at keeping that part hidden well.  We never had a clue that she would ever do anything like this.  Not in our worse nightmares would we ever have thought this of her.  She was too brilliant, too full of love, and she had so much to live for!

I’m reminded that there is no condemnation in Christ.  NONE. So when the devil tries to whisper in my ear all of these “shoulda – coulda – woulda’s” as my husband calls them … I have to squash every single one of those thoughts.  I have to take each one and slay them as they try to enter in.  I … can’t … I just can’t.  After almost 15 years, I have managed to handle those thoughts as they assault me.   There is no greater blaming than what a “survivor” does after they lose someone to suicide.  I’m what is known as a survivor of suicide, one of the loved ones that was left behind.  I “survived” while she did not.  And there is a question as to why there, too.  Why am I still here while she’s not?  Then I am reminded that God has a purpose for my life.

There is purpose in the pain also.

It may be hard to understand why anyone has to go through losing a member of their family this way.  But, if you can tell your story without it crippling you and bringing you to your knees, you know you have healed. This is me, telling my story.

Almost 15 years later, it hasn’t completely gone away, and it never will.  I am not the same person I was back in 1998-2000 when I went through my horrible divorce, nor when I lost my sister to suicide in 2001.  I have changed, I have grown, and I have had to learn to cope the best way I know how.  God has carried me through each and every difficult, heart breaking, life shattering moment, too.  This I know for certain.

Why did these thoughts all but consume me today?  Coming off of a week of wonderful highs with my family, enjoying myself tremendously with my youngest daughter … the only thing I can think of is that my sister isn’t here to enjoy Spring Break with her daughter.  She can’t do all of the fun things with her daughter that I have the pleasure of doing with mine, and that saddens me greatly.

I know that my niece wasn’t raised in the manner my sister would have wanted her raised in, and she has turned out differently than we envisioned.  We love her, and we treasure the time that we do get to spend with her now.  She’s quickly approaching 15 years of age, and she will have new freedom, too.  She will be getting her driver’s permit, and she has plans to visit us when she does.  Perhaps we will see her more often, and that will be a welcomed change!

All of these thoughts … and now I put them all to rest for the night.  Tomorrow will be a new day, and I will focus on the good memories and let everything else go.

Bye bye, Blues.Angel of Hope Pamela

 

 

 

 

 

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