Our Little Getaway

Have you ever just opened your eyes in the morning and had this overwhelming need and desire to get away for a little while?  With July 4th upon us, we had that very feeling Saturday morning.  Thinking that trail riding with our horses would “scratch that itch,” we loaded up the horse trailer and spent several hours being one with nature.  While that helped, I still felt a strong pull toward something greater that evening.

With my newly graduated daughter starting her “big girl” job at the bank on Monday, I had a desire to throw a few things in a bag and head to the ocean for a celebratory trip for her landing that job!  So, we did!  Our little getaway was a spur of the moment decision to go where we find joy.  I do find the greatest joy in being with my family!

After hours of trail riding fun Saturday, I turned to my husband who was in the driver seat and said, “Let’s go to St. Augustine!”  I’m sure he thought I was nuts, but he did not hesitate.  I called my daughters and asked them to pack their bags, and we would be home to get them.  They were EXCITED, and that thrilled my heart completely.  My 10 year old always wants to go on outings with us, but some times our 18 year old would rather not.  This time, though, she was rearing to go, having herself and her sister ready, as well as having both of their bags packed when we entered the house.

And away we went as a white and black striped lighthouse with a red top was calling my name.  It was none other than the St. Augustine Lighthouse in St. Augustine, Florida.  Ah, yes, I find joy in family time, lighthouses, and beautiful scenery!

I have been following their page on Facebook for a while now, even sharing some of their pictures and quotes from their page.  I actually saw where they “followed” the shared post over to my Light Love Hope Facebook page and “liked” it, too!  I felt a special thrill when I saw that.  Yes, it is the little things that make me happy!

Seeing the newly renovated pictures, I was, indeed, drawn to this beauty.

St. Augustine Lighthouse

 

We knew we would not have long in St. Augustine on this spur of the moment, spontaneous trip.  Yet, we packed as much fun as we could into the time we did have.  I wrote on my Facebook status a few of my favorite things, which are my family, lighthouses, and waking up in St. Augustine to see their lighthouse, and that IS how we began the next morning.

Shortly after the lighthouse opened, we were there to get our tickets for the tour.  There were 219 steps that would take you all the way to the top of the lighthouse, and I walked every single step with great determination.  While the others were panting, taking breaks, and slightly complaining, I was on a mission to get to the top.  I took every step with great pride as I thought of the lighthouse keeper that would carry oil to the very top.  While others complained, the keeper had an important job to do.  There was no time for complaining for him!  I was mindful of this as I made my way to the top.

Stairs inside the lighthouse

I’ve heard that this particular lighthouse is haunted.  There have been several deaths at the lighthouse through the years, and after hour tours are held where you will hear several of those stories.

This lighthouse is just intriguing to me.  It is still a working lighthouse today and has the original lens from 1874.

While we did not encounter any ghosts on our trip, we did enjoy the breathtaking view at the top.  You can see for 25 miles from there, and after hiking up steps equal to that of a 14 story building, the welcomed breeze as we stepped out onto the deck at the top felt marvelous.  One tip, though.  If you are afraid of heights, this would not be a good idea for you to try!  Honestly.  If you just want to say that you did it, just don’t look down when you’re up there.  Look around … look left, right, and out in front of you.  But, do NOT look down!

Our getaway

After our morning at the top of the lighthouse, we wanted to see the view of the historic city from the water!  We set out in search of a cruise but did not have to go far as the marina was maybe 15 minutes away.  We chose the one hour and 15 minute cruise, and we were delighted as we took in all the sights as the tour guide told all about this beautiful city.  We even got to see the draw bridge open up to allow an extremely tall sailboat to go through.  My 10 year old was fascinated by this!

draw bridge

We stopped for lunch and to browse a few shops along the way.  Then we found the oldest house and the oldest schoolhouse, too!

The Oldest House

Oldest School House

We ended our time in St. Augustine at their wax museum.  We saw famous people like Elvis Presley, Britney Spears, characters from Seinfield, and even Maleficent, too.  They had people from history, also, like former Presidents and First Ladies, as well as members of Congress from many, many years ago.  I was very impressed with this exhibit!

Congress

Initially, I wasn’t sure how my children would like the wax museum, but they said they loved it!  Score one for Mom!

After playing around and posing like the statues, a huge thunderstorm rolled in … and we made our way to the car to roll out.  We began our journey back home having enjoyed the holiday weekend together as a family doing things that bring us the greatest joy!

Ah, St. Augustine … with all of your history and beauty, we will see you again soon!

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This post goes perfectly with Karen’s prompt phrase of “I find joy in …”

Visit her each Tuesday for a new prompt phrase/word.

 

Happy 4th of July

Red, white, and blue flags are flying high with Lee Greenwood’s song ringing in my ears.  Oh yes, I AM proud to be an American!  Right now we are free, and I pray that we will stay that way.  With the recent happenings in our state and the attention being drawn to another flag, the Confederate Flag, we hope that our freedom won’t be taken away much like there is talk of them taking down that particular flag.  Heritage, not hate, is what that flag stands for, but so many view it differently.  It is a source of pain for them.  A reminder of a time when their ancestors didn’t have freedom.  But thank God, we’re all free today!

Freedom.  So many take that for granted.  We have so many privileges here in the United States, so many opportunities.  Let us not forget that we have our freedom due to young men and women who fought and who are currently fighting hard for our great Country.  Take time to remember them today as the vast majority are not able to be home to celebrate Independence Day with their family.

Make memories.  Lots of them!  My daughter’s boyfriend is on his way to the beach tomorrow morning to kick off his 4th of July celebrations.  They will laugh, soak up the sun, and get sand between their toes.  They will come back refreshed, with sun kissed skin, and lots of memories that will carry them through the rest of their lives  They will look back on this Summer and smile.  Precious memories will be made this week with their family, and maybe they’ll remember to take a picture or two along the way to share.  That’s what it’s all about, though. Make memories with your family this 4th of July!

Hold your loved ones close.  My coworker is off this week as well to share time in the mountains with her two adult sons.  This time will be different, though, than vacations in the past.  She’s spoken to me about how this will be a lavish trip.  She will make sure that she spares no expense as she hasn’t been with her sons on vacation in about ten years.  About two years ago, she was told she has Lymphoma.  She went through chemo that made her physically sick and weak.  She suffered through the treatments, lost her hair, and struggled to find her sense of normal again.  After her hair started to grow back, she felt she had a new lease on life.  She was told she needed maintenance chemo, but this would not be the type that she had before.  Thankfully, it wouldn’t make her as sick, and she wouldn’t lose her precious locks this time around.  The treatments are so expensive, though, that she said she is no longer able to continue with them.  In 2016, she has realized that she will not have the money for her maintenance chemo, so she is splurging on this vacation with her sons and is making those memories while she still can.  Hearing this brought tears to my eyes.  The thought that she’s having this extravagant vacation with them because she fears it will be their last.  So, she’s going all out while she can.  I gently reminded her to take those pictures.  She isn’t one for pictures, unlike myself.  I snap pictures all the time, every where, and LOVE it.   But now is the time she truly needs to take the camera out, dust it off, and snap those memories so that her sons will have something to hold in their hands to remember the great time they had together.  I wish that for them all.  That this will be a beautiful time of bonding for Mother and Sons.

What about you?  What will you do this 4th of July to celebrate our freedom?  Whatever you do, make it count.  Don’t let the day go by unnoticed.  Whether you deck all out in your finest American attire showing your American pride, or you kick back at the lake to enjoy the beautiful array of colors that light up the sky, make every second count.  You won’t get a “do over.”  You will not be able to get this day back.  Enjoy it to the fullest.  Do an act of kindness for someone.  Share your smile.  And love.  Show your love for your fellow man.  That might be the only bit of God that some people see is through you.  Shine your light proudly, and if given the chance … when someone notices your happiness and wants to know how they can find that happiness, too … lead them to Jesus.

Happy 4th of July to you all.

 

Making Memories2

 

Bereaved Parents Month

You may associate July with fun in the sun and enjoying Summer days with your children.  We want you to make memories and share in their laughter.  We truly do.  Sadly, though, July has another meaning to many people as it is Bereaved Parents Month.  Will you please stop for a moment and pray for parents everywhere that have lost their children?

About a month ago, a couple in our community lost their precious son who was just over a year old.  They are still very much at a loss as to how to go on when their hearts have been ripped out of their chests after losing their son.  They have been sharing their story and adorable pictures of their son all while encouraging people to draw closer to God.  Their goal right this minute is to bring awareness to Bereaved Parents Month, and we are dedicating this blog post to Remembering Riggs to help with their efforts.

While I do not know the couple personally, I was invited to “like” their Facebook page by one of my friends that does know them.  I did so in order to show my support and offer my prayers at this very difficult time that God will comfort as only He can.  I’ll be honest.  Some of the posts are so heart wrenching, I choke back tears as I read them.  This dear mother is hurting so badly, as all mothers everywhere are that have lost their beloved children.  The fathers are hurting, too.

My parents probably have no idea that this is Bereaved Parents Month, just as I was not aware until Caroline, the mother of Riggs, brought this to our attention in one of her posts on her Facebook page.  My parents lost their oldest daughter on July 9, 2001.  Caroline is so fresh in her grief after just losing Riggs a month ago. It is so raw and hurts right to the very core of her being.  Although some time has passed and time has lessened the overwhelming pain that they once felt, my parents still remember the loss and the waves of grief that swept over and slammed into them just like it was yesterday.  Caroline posted not too long ago about how the pain is so great at times that she doesn’t want to get out of bed, yet she pushes herself to do so.  This truly is a grief like none other that cripples you emotionally.

Please pray for parents everywhere that have lost their sweet children.  No matter what age they were when they passed, whether it was just a year old like Riggs or 32 years old like my sister when my parents lost her … it still hurts.  It is so incredibly sad and heart breaking to think of how they lost little Riggs at just a year old, and yet, during his short life, he has touched so many far and wide.  He is still touching people’s hearts today through his mother sharing her heartfelt words with the world.

So many precious lives were cut short, and we’ll never know why.  Only God holds those answers … and now He is holding these precious children until the parents are reunited with them in Heaven when God calls them home.

Will you please consider visiting and sharing Caroline’s page, Remembering Riggs? We would like to help her bring awareness to Bereaved Parents Month so people around the globe can pray extra hard for these parents that lost their precious children.  They are hurting so badly, and they need all of the support, love, and prayers they can get.

Bereaved Parents Month

A Time For Everything

I visited the cemetery today.  With all that is going on in the world, I had an overwhelming need to slip away.  Feeling as if things were pulling at me every which way I turned, I knew that no one would pull at me here; the cemetery.  So, I slipped away.

First, I stopped to get a delicious treat, as my sister and I used to always go to lunch together during the week.  This would be different, though.  It has been different for close to 14 years now.   With peanut butter fudge milkshake in hand, I seemed to have tunnel vision all the way to the cemetery.

My gold Tahoe approached the gravel entrance to the cemetery where the American Flag and our State Flags were flapping in the hot breeze that swept across the green grass and headstones.  I came to a complete stop next to an old tree that looks like there isn’t much life left in it.  With no leaves and the branches bare, it just stands there on the corner not even providing a little bit of shade on this hot day.

Sitting in my car for a moment longer soaking up the air conditioning, I drew in a deep breath and made myself get out of the comfort of my Tahoe.  Reaching into the backseat, I claimed the beautiful cross I purchased just yesterday at Michael’s that had such beautiful flowers on the front of the cross.  When I saw it, I knew I had to have it.  And so, with cross in hand, I make my way down the concrete walkway that would take me to my sister’s graveside.

Sighing heavily, it seemed to take forever to reach her grave.  Then there I stood, looking down at the marker with her name on it.  It’s hard to believe that this is our reality.  It has almost been 14 years now, and yet, I remember every single detail just like it was yesterday.  I remember the shock and terror that rushed through my veins that morning as I feared the worst and learned that it was true.  My worst nightmare had become  reality as my sister had taken her life.  Postpartum depression claimed another victim.  My heart and soul, to the core of my being, still mourns the great loss of my sister, my one and only sibling.

What made me go today, of all days?  In this 101 degree heat with high Southern humidity?  The overwhelming need, feeling as if I was literally drawn to their gravesides.  Those of my sister, my great grandparents, as well as my grandparents.

With all of the talk of the deaths lately, with nine people being gunned down in our state a little over a week ago … and with coverage of the mourners … as well as my daughter’s boyfriend still fresh in his grief having lost his grandfather four months ago today … I had to be closer to pay my respects.

The cemetery is not a place I frequent.  I haven’t been out there in a while, and I’m sure my parents and other family members have shaken their head and felt disappointment in me for not going more often.  I Just can’t.  Some people find great comfort there.  It is their loved ones resting place.  They gain some form of comfort by “visiting” with them there.  For me, though, I prefer to just speak to my loved ones no matter where I am or what I’m doing.  I don’t have to visit their grave to do that.  Actually, I feel that I have signs of them visiting me at my home from time to time as little dragon flies, butterflies, and Cardinals appear seemingly right when I need a reminder that they are there and that love remains even if they are no longer physically here on this earth.  Sure, others could argue over these “signs” or “visits” from my loved ones, but I have my own beliefs and will not be swayed.

I’m reminded that there is a time for everything (see  Ecclesiastes 3).

Today was my time to visit, to allow myself to mourn a little, to feel these feelings and cry if I needed to let it out.

Yesterday my niece turned 14 years old.  My niece.  The one that we haven’t been allowed much contact with since my sister’s passing on that hot July day.  Our time to laugh and celebrate on June 25th, when my niece was born, soon turned to a time to mourn and cry just two weeks later on July 9th when my sister took her own life due to the overwhelming emotional pain she felt due to postpartum depression.  And yet, we had no idea how bad it truly was.

I am sad today for what I’ve witnessed on Facebook from my 14 year old niece.  As much as I wish, want, and would have preferred things to be different, I had no say in this.  It was out of my hands and has been this entire time.  My sister would not have stood for her daughter to have grown up the way she has, and yet, she was not here to see to it that she grew up any differently.  I am sad for how this 14 year old has been motherless all of these years and how we were really not allowed to be a part of her life for the majority of her 14 years.  She went to live with her other grandparents, and my former brother-in-law pretty much has not been a father to her all of these years either (she said this once to my parents about him).  He pulled away, and he once blamed her for his wife’s death saying that had his daughter not been born, his wife would still be here.  NO … it was wrong to blame the innocent child that did not ask to be born.  It is extremely sad what has happened, but we can’t blame her.  She was innocent in this all, and yet, he withdrew pretty much from her all the while not allowing our side of the family to be with her much at all.  Visits here and there were briefly allowed before he took her right back from us.  I stopped counting after four times of him snatching this baby from me.  Yes, I was allowed to have her briefly when she was a baby, then she was taken from me again until she was a toddler.  Then I was allowed a little time only for her to be taken back from us once more.  As she grew into a child, I had brief encounters with her, but her behavior was so extreme, violent, and just out of control that we could not get her on a regular basis even if they would have allowed it at that point.

Today I allowed the feelings.

Tomorrow I will be better.

There is a time for everything.

A time for everything

United We Stand

It’s been all over the news that a white man walked into a church last Wednesday, sat with the African American people for an hour, and then opened fire on them.  Also reported is that the man desired to start a “race war.”  In the face of this tragic event and precious lives that were lost, Charleston and the surrounding area has joined together, hand in hand, arm in arm … heart to heart.  I’ve never been more proud to be from the state of South Carolina than I am right this very minute due to this.

While the nation has watched to see what South Carolina’s response is going to be to the attack on the most historic AME church in Charleston, they didn’t see riots.  They didn’t see torching businesses.  And, they didn’t see looting.  Instead, they saw a community come together.  They witnessed whites and blacks hugging on the streets and walking hand in hand across the bridge in Charleston on Sunday to show that we ARE united.

Praise God – UNITED WE STAND!!!

If what the media says is true and this white man wished to start a race war, he LOST because if anything, this tragedy has united people from different backgrounds, cultures, and races.  We stand together as one race – the human race!

The victim’s families have said, “I forgive you.”

Can you imagine losing your loved ones in this way, and yet, you forgive the shooter?  Would you be so quick to have those words pass through your lips?  Think about it.  If your family member had been gunned down, would you be able to say to the person that took their life that you forgive them … and would you honestly mean it?  THAT is a tough one.  But, that is what we, as Christians, are to do.  We cannot harbor ill feelings or hatred in our hearts.

This tragedy has brought up other debates such as the argument that we need to ban all guns now.  It has also brought up the debate on whether the confederate flag should be removed from our state house.  There are varying opinions on both of these issues.  Guns don’t kill people – people kill people.  While this young man was given a gun for his birthday a few short months ago, I’m sure his father had NO idea that his son was going to carry out such an evil plan.  He had no way of knowing unless his son verbalized it, and if he did, I’m sure the father didn’t say, “Atta boy!”  This man, I believe, truly had NO idea what he was doing by placing this gun into his son’s hand.  He had NO idea that a few short months later, his son would claim the lives of nine innocent people as they sat inside their church worshipping God.

Yes, this man did have pictures that have come out in the media now where he was bearing the confederate flag.  I have seen pictures of him holding the gun with the flag in the picture nearby.  So, yes, the flag is up for debate once more.

It is sad that the confederate flag is supposed to be a symbol of our history, and yet, to so many African Americans, it is offense due to what, in their mind, it represents.  One thought is, if it is that offensive, why NOT take it down?  Honestly.  If it is causing that much of a problem, just take it down.  If it is a constant reminder of slavery, although my family didn’t own any slaves to the best of my knowledge, then take it down.  Why keep a constant reminder for things to continue to be stirred up?  If this will end racism, TAKE THE FLAG DOWN!  Sadly, though, no matter if the flag remains or if the flag is taken down, racism will not be eliminated.  It will still surface and rear it’s ugly head in other ways.  If there was a sure fire way to end racism, I would be the first in line … sign me up!

Oh how I wish racism didn’t exist.

We haven’t seen the end of it yet, and I’m sure the shooting last Wednesday will continue to be a topic of conversation for quite a while to come.  Right along with banning guns and removing the flag from the state house.

In the mist of all of this, I will choose to focus on the group of 9,000 that stood along the bridge in Charleston hand in hand on Sunday.  I will also turn my attention to the church bells that were ringing all over Charleston in memory of the nine that lost their lives last Wednesday.

I will choose to focus on South Carolina being united, standing together in love … sweet love.

 

Father’s Day

This morning we got up super early for a Sunday.  We loaded the boat with our rod and reels and headed off to fish for our supper.  It’s a good thing we had a back up plan as no fish were biting today in this heat despite the variety of crickets and worms we offered them.

We returned home soaked in sweat, but we weren’t bitter about “wasting” the morning.  It wasn’t wasted at all because we were together, my husband and I.  The children wanted to sleep in, so we went together to share one of the many things we love and have in common.

My parents arrived not too terribly long after we returned from our fishing trip as we were having a cook out for Father’s Day.  The meal was delicious as we feasted on hamburgers and hot dogs, which is my dad’s favorite.  We laughed, we swapped stories, and we enjoyed our time together.

After my parents left this evening, my daughter turned to me and said, “Happy Father’s Day, Mom.”  She said these words to me and then elaborated on why she chose to celebrate me today, also.  Yes, I was both Mother and Father to her for all of these years after her father left when she was just a year old.  I had to be there for her in every way, and I stepped up when he stepped out.  I never hesitated.  She was my responsibility, and I wrapped my arms tightly around her and vowed to do everything within my power to help this precious little girl succeed and embrace life.  I taught her about God, how to be polite and use your manners, the facts of life, as well as all of the things in between.  And she has grown into a beautiful young woman.  My heart is so completely proud of her.

A few years after my divorce, I started dating a man that is now her step-dad.  He knew when we started talking that I had a daughter, but I would not allow him to meet her until I knew for a fact that he would be around for a long time to be a part of her life.  I did not want her to get attached to any man again just to have them leave.  Our hearts could not take it.  When I was sure, though, I introduced them.  Later we married when she was four years old, and he has helped to fill the role of the father figure.

I realize that Father’s Day is hard on a lot of people for various reasons.  Either they are bitter because their father wasn’t that good to them growing up and they never had the father figure they had always longed for, or maybe their father passed when they were little and they’ve had to live their lives without their father.  It’s just a hard day for so many.  Then, there are Mothers who had dual roles in their children’s lives just as I have.  Maybe they divorced when the child was real young as I did, or maybe the father wasn’t in the picture at all from the moment they found out they were pregnant.  Whatever the case, the mother had to do and be both to their child – Mother and Father.  I applaud all ladies who have been there in this capacity and thank you for not caving under the tremendous pressure, but, instead, embracing it and excelling for your children’s sake.  Moms, you ROCK!

Here’s to Father’s every where.  Whether you’re the father that has been there every step of the way giving all you’ve got for your family (like my father), or whether you’re a step father that truly stepped into the picture and loved these children with your whole heart and made them your very own (like my husband) … or single or divorced mothers that never skipped a beat as they lived, loved, and saw it as their sole purpose in life to nurture and care for their babies in every possible way (like I have).

We celebrate you all!

 

Continue To Pray For Charleston

This morning I stumbled out of bed and left the covers wadded up as my 10 year old crawled into bed with me early this morning and was still sound asleep.   Walking into the kitchen, I opened the black refrigerator doors and reached inside for an ice cold Coke Zero.  That is my “pick me up” instead of traditional coffee that everyone else must have in the morning.  With Coke in hand, I flipped open my lap top and logged into Facebook.  I sat with my little two pound teacup Yorkie by my side as I scrolled through Facebook in the stillness and quiet of the morning.

Purposely, I did NOT turn on the television, yet I still could not escape the reality of what happened Wednesday night in Charleston, South Carolina.  There it was, all over the news feeds again on Facebook.

I sighed as I began to scroll through when something caught my eye.  A friend, who can some times be controversial, posted about how he was tired of hearing about the Charleston shooting “crap” (his words) due to what it has become now with the mention of gun control laws.  My friend stated that the gun was given to the shooter as a gift, and I could tell by the tone in his status update that he was just fed up that one thing lead to another, and now we’re back here talking about racism and gun control laws.  Right underneath, a string of comments started with a few people trying to put him in his place.

Why is this happening?

I tried to see things from all sides as I read through the comments.  I could see his point, and I could see their point, too.  For a moment, I considered scrolling on past it, not taking this on at all, and yet, I felt compelled the next minute to respond, to defend him in a way.

The next thing I knew, I had written the following:

I think I understand what you’re saying. The media is sensationalizing what happened and focusing on a hate crime, bringing up the race issue all over again, and now it’s leading to the gun control issue once more. Thus, your term “crap” used in the above status. There were nine precious lives lost Wednesday night when all they did was gather together for prayer meeting. We don’t know why this happened, what the shooter was thinking, but what we CAN do right this minute is pray for our nation – not go at each other over a difference of opinion or even a word used where others wish it had not been used or perhaps even misunderstood. We need prayer now more than EVER before. We need God to heal this land, the people, and we need to all come together regardless of what race we are – God made us all; red, yellow, black,and white, we are ALL precious in His sight. I have just as many, if not more, black friends as I do white friends, and my heart is broken that this happened at all. That this is our reality. I love you like a brother, Billy. That’ll never change no matter what words you use or how you state your opinion.

Almost immediately, my comment was met with a young black man wishing to argue that the media was not doing this but instead the hating people are.  He said they were only doing their job, and that I needed to stop living in denial because it is what it is and there IS racism. He stated that the shooter wanted to start a race war.  I carefully considered what he wrote to me where he intentionally tagged my name in his comment, and I wrote the following in my response:

I’m not in denial, hon. If he wanted to start a race war, the worst thing we can do is feed into that. I love ALL regardless of color. It is a very sad situation, and my heart hurts for those nine precious people, their families,and friends. I have a friend that is going to Charleston to minister Saturday night at a prayer vigil. She’s white but married to a black man and they have bi-racial children, and you know what? I love them ALL.

The gentleman wrote back that he loves all races, too, but that his point was that while it may not be me, racism does exist.  He further stated that we can’t get mad at the media or people for talking about it.

My final response was this:

I understand what you’re saying. It is just sad all the way around. That this happened. That there is racism. That we live in fear. We need God. Plain and simple. And the best thing we can all do is turn our energy toward praying for our nation.

This once seemingly argumentative man then wrote back, “You are so correct.”

Now that situation that could have been explosive at one point was diffused by my carefully considering my words and sharing my heart with this individual.  Yes, he is black, and I am very much a white woman living in the South.  It could have gone down differently, but thankfully it did not.  Instead, in the end, we agreed … and that is what I want us to focus on today.  It isn’t about who is right or wrong or who stated what opinion or even HOW they stated it.  What is important is that we finally agreed to focus our energies on PRAYING FOR OUR NATION!!  That is the absolute best thing we CAN do right this minute.

Something horrible has happened in Charleston, South Carolina.  There are injustices every single day that are being done across this nation.  Maybe it isn’t as simple as people want to make it out to be; about racism.  Maybe the bigger thing to consider is Christians being executed for their faith!  Does that give you a different feel toward the situation when I word it that way?  Does it get you to thinking?  Regardless of the race, those people were gunned down IN THEIR CHURCH!  They gathered there that night to worship God, to hold their weekly prayer meeting.  I’m sure they felt the safest at their church, and yet, their lives ended right where they gathered to worship.

It could have been you …. it could have been me … it could have been my children!  That is what scares me the most.  The world that we are living in today SCARES me.  We are not safe in our homes, businesses, cars, or even our churches now.  The sad reality is that we live in FEAR.  We may not think about it every minute of every day, because if we did, we would never leave our houses.  We would stay curled up in a fetal position in a corner some where in our house and never face the world again.  We can’t live that way, though.  The best thing we CAN do is pray.  Pray for one another.  Pray for our Nation.  Pray for GOD to heal our land.  We need Him now more than ever.

Please … today … tomorrow … next week, continue to pray for Charleston.  Go beyond that sweet Southern city with so much charm and pray for our NATION as a whole.

God bless you every one.

 

 

 

The Charleston Massacre

When the alarm started blaring country music, the only station that will come in properly on that tiny outdated box that sits on my night stand, I struggled to open my eyes as I reached to turn that noise off.  As soon as my feet hit the floor, I walked around the bed as I tugged on the corners, flipped the covers, and smoothed out the comforter as I made the bed.  As I reached the other side of the king sized bed, I reached for the silver button on the big stereo in my bedroom and pressed it to usher in welcomed music from my most favorite radio station.   Turning to walk away and go about my usual morning routine, I heard the DJ announce a shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.  I froze right where I stood as waves of disbelief washed over me.  A shooting?  At a church?  In CHARLESTON?

Fear rose up inside of me as I thought of the Christians that were gathered in their place of worship last night for their normal Wednesday night prayer meeting.  Then sorrow filled my heart as I processed the news that they were gunned down in their church.

Oh dear Lord.  What is happening to us?  We need you now more than ever before, God.

The DJ returned to the music selection, and I tried to return to my usual routine of getting ready for work.  I drove into the office still in somewhat of a daze, hoping I had heard the DJ wrong.  Surely it can’t be OUR Charleston that she spoke of; the Holy City.

As I went about my day, sure enough, it was indeed our beloved Charleston that was making headlines worldwide.  Some were calling it The Charleston Massacre.

Fear remained throughout a good portion of the morning as the suspect wanted in the shooting was still at large.  There was video footage so there was no way to deny what the shooter looked like.  It was on every news station and even flashed all over Facebook.

Charleston made the news … but in a horrible, horrible way.

Why do things like this have to happen?  We will never know this side of Heaven.

And now … people are calling this a hate crime … and once again the race card is pulled out.  People are talking about how the white man will get away with killing nine innocent black people, but they are saying that if it was a black man that shot all the white folks, it would have gone down so much differently.  I do not like hearing that.  It was a tragic situation that never should have happened.  The individual obviously has some serious problems if he sat in a church for over an hour before opening fire on those in the church.  It is unfortunate that he happened to be a white person and the victims were black.  But I’m not here to talk about the color of people’s skin.  It is my hope that we can see past the colors and see that they are all human beings … they were all made by God’s own hands.  Red or yellow, black or white, we are ALL precious in His sight!   What gets me more than anything is that nine lives seemed to not be valued … they were snuffed out when all they did was gather in a church for worship that evening.

Lord, please help us.  We need you.

My heart is heavy burdened tonight as I write these words to you.  Please, if you are reading this, let’s not focus on the color of the skin but instead that precious lives were lost last night when this all happened.

I had no idea any of this was going on last night as I sat up until 11:30 p.m. contemplating how to write an email to a Christian lady that seemed to be pushing “church” on us.  We are Christians, and at one time, we were going to church every time the doors were opened.  We were involved in so much at the church, from the GROW committee, to singing in the choir, to the buildings and grounds committee, to director over the interpretive moment team.  I even kept children in the nursery a few times as well as helping in Vacation Bible School.  I know what it means to belong to a small church, as I did growing up, and I also know what it is like to belong to a huge church, as I did just a few short years ago when we were heavily involved.  Things happened in the church, feelings were hurt, and things transpired that should not have … thus leaving us to make a tough decision to leave the place we had grown so fond of through the years; our place of worship.  Yes, we did try to find a new “church home,” yet, every church is going to have their own individual set of troubles.  Why?  Because they are all run by people … and people want to be in charge.  I heard a saying once that there were too many chiefs and not enough Indians.  Regardless, we left the church scene, but understand that we did NOT leave Christ nor our belief and faith in Him.  We still have a relationship with Jesus, although our shadow does not fall upon the threshold of a church any longer.  We prefer, instead, to be one with God out in the great outdoors on the back of our horses.  We feel closer to Him there than we do in any building.  However, we felt lectured and pushed to find a “church home” by, I’m sure, a well meaning Christian lady of an equestrian ministries group we got involved with a few months back.  And there I sat last night at 11:30 p.m. trying to compose an email that would speak our hearts without offending or hurting the feelings of the recipient.   Little did I know that while I spoke of not wishing to go to a church building at this point in time, people had just been gunned down at their church in Charleston.

I do think that Christians are under attack.  I think that bad things happen to good people, and I also think that there are twisted people in this world that delight in evil.  While I have no way of knowing what was going through this young man’s mind when he opened fire in that church building, I do know that he is a child of God.  I am not sure what his beliefs are or why he chose to do what he did, but God created him and gave him free will.  While we – the Nation – mourn, I believe that God is mourning also for the loss of those nine lives.  Will we ever make sense of this or any other “hate crime?”  No.

I would like to urge you all to join me in prayer for our Nation as a whole.  This world seems to have gone crazy, and it is very scary to think of our children growing up with this type of thing happening more and more frequently.  Now it’s at our backdoor, and it does not feel too good to turn on every single news channel and hear of The Charleston Massacre.  A lot of focus has been placed on the man that did this – the white male.  I’d like to focus on the victims and their families, friends, and loved ones.  I’m choosing NOT to focus on the color of their skin.  Yes, they were African American … but they are so much more than just the color of their skin.  They are precious lives that we have lost, no matter WHAT their skin color was.  People lost their lives last night as they were gathered in their church to worship God.  It saddens me greatly that people are not even safe in church any more.  It hurts my heart to know that people that had so much living to do, so many plans for the future, will never be able to see those through due to this senseless act of violence on innocent people.

Please pray that people will begin to value other people’s lives again so that shootings will STOP taking place.  Each and every life is important and should be valued no matter what their skin color is.

Please join us in prayer for Charleston, South Carolina, as the Holy City mourns.

Old Fashioned

Back in February, Old Fashioned came out in theaters the same exact weekend that Fifty Shades of Grey entered on the scene.  When it seemed that people every where couldn’t get to the theaters fast enough to see Fifty Shades, my husband and I went in search of a good, wholesome movie to see instead.   We got just that in Old Fashioned!

To be honest, I read Fifty Shades when everyone started talking about the books long before there was ever any mention of a movie being made.  Curiosity killed the cat so to speak, and I wanted to see what people were in an uproar about.  Some were raving about how much they loved it and how it spiced up their love lives, while others were so set against it and all the books stood for.  Once my curiosity was satisfied with the books, I had no desire to see the movie when it came out.  I’m not a prude by any means, but I did not need to take it any further beyond the books.  While it may be exciting to role play and do other “scenes” in the bedroom at times, there is a lot to be said about what others on the Dominant/submissive scene refer to as “vanilla.”  That may sound boring to some.  For me, an old fashioned way of courting and falling in love should be the foundation of your relationship.  The romance and passion that comes along with it will be enough to knock your socks off to where one won’t need an erotic book or movie to help enhance things in the bedroom.

There really is no comparing the two movies because I will always lean toward love and romance first.  What was noticeably different is how the characters were drawn to each other.  In Fifty Shades, he sees her, wants her, and due to all of his wealth and money, he gets her.  However, in Old Fashioned, the woman is more modern and worldly it seems at first glance, while the man is more standoffish.  He will not even be in the same room with her alone.  He prefers, instead, to stand outside her door to speak with her, or if he has to go inside her apartment to make repairs, he has her stand outside the door while he’s inside the apartment.  He does not want there to be an opportunity for temptation or for things to look bad either.  Yes, it is an old fashioned approach, but it is something that we need to consider now in this day and age, too. Think about it.  How common is it for a male and a female coworker to be together looking over plans, proposals, bids, or discussing something else on the job? One may not see anything wrong with stepping inside the office and closing the door with a member of the opposite sex or even going out for a “working lunch” with a coworker of the opposite sex either, BUT, they should!   Quite frankly, males and females should not be in the same room or car alone.  Period.  If they are married, their spouses won’t like it one bit, but not only that, it introduces an opportunity for temptation to enter or inappropriate things to start happening.  Does it always?  NO.  But, why take the chance?   There is a lot to be said about not giving the wrong impression or the “appearance of evil” either.

One significant difference in the two movies is that Grey and his subject had an agreement, yet he still did things that seemed to violate her trust in him.  She quickly recovered and went back for more, but this has been seen by a lot of people as abuse.  Some argue that if they had an agreement and they were both consenting adults that this wasn’t abuse, just something that happened when they were living out one of their “scenes.”  The main character in Old Fashioned had a life changing moment where he realized that he did not want to continue on the path that he was on, and ended up turning his life around.  He began reading a bible that he was given and allowed it to speak to his heart.  As he did, he realized he wanted things to be different in his life and his relationships.  He went back to the old fashioned way of life, which, to me, is quite refreshing.

Earlier this morning my husband had to take our vehicle to the repair shop.  As he waited inside, he overheard a woman talking about how she was so “over” hearing about Fifty Shades.  My husband took that opportunity to share with her that when everyone was talking about this movie, we went to see Old Fashioned.  He told her a little of what it was about, and the lady said she thought she may have read the book a few years ago.  My husband expounded on it saying that now there is the book, the movie, AND a devotional type book as well.  He encouraged her to check it out, and she said she might actually do that.  We encourage our readers to do the same.  You won’t be sorry!  And actually, we have all three, and we plan to pass these along to our 18 year old daughter and her boyfriend.  They just started dating, and while he has been respectful and has shown, thus far, that he is a gentleman, we don’t think it will hurt to introduce this concept to ensure that they take this path instead of the worldly way.

If any of our readers are on the dating scene themselves or has teenagers/young adults that are dating as well, please enter our giveaway and share the Old Fashioned concept with them, too!   I’d love to see more couples reverting back to this way of courting and having a meaningful, Christ-centered relationship than what this world has resorted to today.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.  Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Trip of A Lifetime

Last year we were anxiously awaiting the date to arrive when friends from all over the United States would meet up IN PERSON for the very first time.  Having met online 17 years ago, we never dreamed that we would actually get the chance to meet in person, yet finally we did.  Sadly, it was due to one vital member of our little online community being struck with breast cancer.  We wanted to rally around her and offer our support, love, and prayers … in person.

One of our Lifetime friends from New Zealand tried desperately to make it before our dear friend, Debbie, passed away in November of 2014.  In the mist of making travel arrangements to go around the world to be at Debbie’s side, she faded away.  Our hearts were shattered the day we lost our precious friend.

Feeling this great loss, we tried to pick up the pieces and go on, yet everything was a reminder of Debbie.  Then, one day, our Kiwi friend, as Debbie so affectionately referred to him, announced that he was coming to see us after all.  He had a great desire to go to Debbie’s final resting place to speak his heart, and after much planning and preparing, the time has come for us to meet Vaughan at last!  Ah, yes, our little Kiwi has landed after traveling literally all week to get here.  He is resting up in a hotel and will be bombarded with giggly women come Friday afternoon when Sylvia and I will hunt him down to give him a hug of a Lifetime!!

Vaughan as kept us informed of all of the details of his flights.  He would “check in” at every hotel and update his status so we’d know exactly where he was and when we would need to run for the nearest hill.  Just kidding.  We are all anxiously awaiting our meeting Friday afternoon, and you KNOW I’ll be back to share all about it.  I can’t wait to hear his accent in person, too!

This post is entitled Trip of A Lifetime, as that is what Vaughan has been calling it.  We are BLESSED to have the Kiwi among us, in our online community as well as now, life and in person!  We are thankful that he sacrificed so much to make this dream a reality, and soon … very, very soon, we will be meeting in person!  God is so good to have allowed us to meet!   Who would have ever thought that he, all the way over in New Zealand, would be coming here to meet us?!   Ah yes, a Trip of A Lifetime – for Friends of A Lifetime!

We are blessed and so grateful.

Our friends truly have become our family.  We have claimed them a long time ago.  We have shared so many things through these past 17 years.  The great and wonderful things that have happened in our lives, as well as the heartache and pain.  None of us had to go through any of our troubles or trials alone for we had each other through it all.

My heart is overjoyed, and I wait in great anticipation!

Hold your friends close to your heart and let them know every day how much they mean to you.  Life is too short.  Make your dreams come true, just as Vaughan has for himself as well as for Sylvia and I, too!

Blessings to you and all of your online friendships!