Embarking On A New Journey

Today is just an ordinary Thursday … until you realize that your daughter graduates TOMORROW!!!

Where has the time gone?

It seems like just yesterday that I was rocking this little 5 lb 15 1/2 oz baby girl in my arms!  Baby Girlan angel sent from heaven

love at first sight

Then I blinked, and she grew into this beautiful young woman that as of tomorrow will be embarking on a new journey.

An Adult

Oh Lord.  Thank you for allowing me to be here with my daughter through all of these years!  Thank you for allowing me to see her grow, learn, and stretch her wings.

Now, I must brag on my daughter a little bit.  You knew that was coming, right?

This soft spoken, often times shy and timid young lady is the President of her Senior Class.  She was also voted by her classmates as the “Class Clown” as well as “Most Talkative.”  Can you believe that?  You would never expect this from HER!  But yes, so it seems that when she warms up to you, you’d better watch out because she’ll talk your ears off while clowning around the entire time!  That made me laugh when I saw it in her year book.

My daughter is also on the National Christian Honors Society, and because of her accomplishments, she has received a partial scholarship at a college of her choice.  She received none other than the Leadership Scholarship, too!

Have I mentioned how very proud I am of my daughter?

Her school days have not been easy for her either as she has been on the receiving end of bullying.  She has faced things in her life that she never should have had to endure, but it has made her the strong young lady that she is today.

I am proud of her academic accomplishments, but I am so proud of her for the morals and values that she has that seem to be lacking in most teenagers and young people these days.  I can say that my daughter walks with integrity and great character while extending love, grace, and compassion to all.

Tomorrow I will try really hard NOT to cry.  I did not think I would cry at the National Honors Society program last year either … but I did.  So, I will have a box of tissue handy, just in case!

Our friend, Greg, just got into town a short while ago.  He came all this way to see my daughter graduate. That says a lot right there that he would take time away from work and go through the long two day drive to be here for this special occasion.

I have prayed over my daughter throughout these past 18 years, and I prayed for my daughter actually before she was ever conceived.  I will continue to pray for her as she goes out into the “real world” now to follow her dreams.

I pray for her future husband as well – although she is not engaged at this point, nor does she have a serious relationship as of yet.  But I pray for what the future will hold and that she will have a beautiful life ahead of her.  I pray for the young man that will win her heart one day.  It is my prayer that he will treat her like the treasure that she is and that he will love her so much and do all things to honor, respect, and uplift her; that he will be faithful to her always and remain true in his heart and mind as well.  Oh yes, I am already praying for this young man, and she hasn’t even met “him” yet.

If I may, I’d like to make a request for any one that reads this post.  Would you please take a minute of your time to pray for my daughter and all of the 2015 graduates?  God has a beautiful plan for all of their lives, and we get the privilege of watching His great plan unfold.

If you’re a parent preparing to watch your son or daughter walk across that stage, you’re in my prayers, too.  Be proud, Mom & Dad.  You did a great job!  Now dry your eyes and celebrate their big day while clinging to Jeremiah 29:11.  Make it personal to your child!  I know without a shadow of a doubt that my God has great plans for my daughter, Nicole.   I trust that they are plans to prosper her and not to harm her.  I have full confidence that they are plans to give Nicole a hope and a future!

Thank you, God.  Thank you.

Brittney Graduation

 

You

By mere chance your light came into my life at a time of darkness. A simple comment revealed that you had the heart of an angel. Numerous jousts of comedic and heartfelt remarks painted a masterpiece of a soul with a heart filled deeply with kindness, compassion and love. A love deeply centered within your world for family, friends and the world around you. A caring soul that will go beyond what most will to encourage and support others in their darkest times.

Yet, these traits were not your only gifts. You have an insight into things most people commonly overlook in their daily lives. Hidden talents abound within you that you tend to keep to yourself yet when you blossom out to the world you show those around what beautiful gifts you have for the written word and a singing voice that makes a melody dance across a light spring breeze.

For most, you are the embodiment of what is and should be a person’s most treasured friend. This is you.

I Am Encouraged

With trouble to the left and right of you, seemingly every where you look … I am encouraged by a friendly smile, a gentle touch, a considerate and thoughtful act.

I am encouraged by those that take the time to show that they care.

There are days when it seems as if NO one cares.  People are so busy with their own lives that they rarely have time to be concerned with yours at all.  And I’m not talking about the nose-in-your-business kind of being concerned.  I could do without those thrill seekers and gossip mongers looking for something to spread all over town, or those that “come to see” at a trying time or at a time when they know you’re struggling … or the world’s worst time to put that into practice is when you’ve lost someone you love more than life itself, and someone comes “just to see.”  I had a coworker that admitted she was one of those types of people.  ~I shudder at the thought!~

Of course, there are going to be long lost people that you haven’t heard from in a while, yet they resurface in your life when they KNOW you’re going through a hard time.  Why do they resurface at times like this?  They aren’t there to encourage you.  They are only there to bring you down, or even to kick you when you’re down.

In this world that we’re living in today, though, I can take heart that not everyone is this way.  Oh thank you GOD that there are still genuine people in this world that just want to love, support, and be there!

The world needs more of that!

That … THAT encourages me more than anything … when someone will push all things aside just to let you know that they care … they love you … value you … and you are so important in their life!

All it takes is a heart-felt gesture.  And it changes everything!

When given the opportunity to be an encouragement by spreading cheer and positive energy every where you go … do you choose this path?

Or how about this?

Do you give your best to those around you in your work day – your co-workers, the secretary, the receptionist at the front desk, the boss … or even those you encounter behind the counter or at restaurants serving you when you’re having a meal.  Do they get more of your kindness and consideration than members of your own family?  Wow, did I just step on some toes?   Are you different around others, yet you turn into Mister or Miss Crabby Pants around your family?   Realize that there are those right in your own house, under your same roof that could use encouragement.  They could use loving kindness, words of affirmation, thoughtful consideration … and respect even.  Plain and simple, the ones in your own home need your love.

If someone had to write an article on you, what would they say?  Would they say that you were an encouragement in their life?  Would they say that you show compassion?  Would they say that your family comes first?

I am encouraged by those that wish to do better, who wish to make a lasting change, and who share the best of themselves with people — but reserve a special part of their heart, their love, their thoughtfulness, and their soul for their spouse.  That should not go without being said.  No one gets that part of you but your spouse!

So think on it … How CAN you be an encouragement to someone today?  How can you make a difference so that someone will say, “I am encouraged by …[insert your name here].”

 

 

You Have To Communicate!

You’ve heard it all before; communication is key.  Yes, this is very true!  You have to communicate!  If a marriage or relationship is going to work … and last … you have to communicate with each other.  This goes beyond halfway listening while waiting to state your case or why you’re right when you feel the other person is wrong.  It is more than listening with your ears while you can’t seem to wait for your turn to interject your comments.  I’m talking about actively listening but also taking time to consider where the person is coming from.

It is so easy to jump to conclusions, make assumptions, attempt to mind read, etc. when the truth of the matter is that you will not ever know what a person is thinking unless you ASK them and they open up and TELL you.  Sure, you could try the guessing game, and maybe you’ll touch on how they are really feeling or what they are thinking.  BUT there is a greater chance of you being wrong.  Just ASK, and you won’t sit and wonder or stew over something when you could get on down the road with working things out!

Here’s what my husband and I discovered this week and some tips we’d like to pass on to you:

1.  Pray over the situation before you begin.  Then, be sure that you do not start the conversation accusing or placing blame.  If you approach someone this way, it will only spiral downhill faster than an avalanche that wipes out all things in its path.  It matters how you approach people.  Be careful how you approach a situation or how you bring up a sensitive subject matter.  No one likes to feel as if someone is picking a fight with them no more than they do when someone tries to heap all of the blame onto their heads.  Ease into the conversation as gracefully as possible with respect for the person that you are attempting to speak to about such a sensitive subject matter.  Let’s face it, any time there’s conflict, it’s better to tip toe into it rather than race in full speed like a bull in a China shop leaving destruction in its path!

2.  Listen with your heart as well as with your ears. Take time to really listen without anticipating when it will be your turn to tell that person off.  You will not ever get any where with that way of thinking.  Listen to every word that is being said.  Take it all in, and then check in with your emotions.  Try to feel the place that the speaker is coming from.  Listen with your heart and try to see things from their perspective, as hard as it may seem at times.

3.  Clamming up or “stonewalling” will never resolve a single thing.  It only makes it worse!  Chances are that if you open up, things can get resolved MUCH faster than if you zip your lips and toss that key behind you.  Open up your heart before you open up your mouth, though.  Come from a place where you are desiring a resolution and peace as you work toward this goal.  When you feel tempted to clam up or take the stonewall approach, instead, put forth more effort and dig deeper into your heart and SHARE it!  I can guarantee you that it will make a huge difference in resolving conflict!  Yes, you make yourself vulnerable in the process, but be reassured that you are with someone that honestly loves you and wants the best for you so you are in good hands.  That should reassure you enough to allow you to let your guard down to share what is in your heart.

4.  Take responsibility for your actions.  IF you caused hurt and pain previously, don’t get defensive about it but instead, accept that your actions caused this and then try with all of your might to make things right.  Arguing about who did what to whom as if you’re trying to see who was more at fault will just not get you any where.  But, if you had a part in the break down of the marriage, admit it.  Take responsibility for it.  Own it!  Then strive to right that wrong and do better in the future so this does not happen again. AND … remember that it is not a sign of weakness to say you’re sorry if you really and truly were in the wrong.  It is a sign of great strength and character to be able to take a long look at yourself and your actions and admit that you were wrong and apologize for them.  Now strive not to make that same mistake or offense again.

5.  Keep in mind that your spouse is NOT the enemy.  The goal here should be to get this disagreement behind you as quickly as possible. I am not suggesting to shove your feelings and emotions down or brush things under the rug.  They will only resurface later, and I can guarantee you that it will be more explosive when it does!  Work together to try to get through this disagreement so you two can go back to being a happy couple enjoying life together.

I’m happy to report that after three nights of late night conversations until 2:30 to 3 a.m., my husband and I finally got it right on the last night!  We tried to resolve the situation much sooner, but we were going at it all wrong.  The third night, however, we both got it right and it worked!  We eased into the conversation, and when it seemed to get a little off from the beginning, we stopped and made an agreement.  We would approach things differently this time and not get all defensive when questions were asked.  Instead, we would calmly discuss things, even unpleasant things, with respect for each other and ourselves by retaining our composure.  It worked like a charm, thank God!!  And the trouble that was brewing for two weeks … was resolved on our third attempt to talk about it.  We were able to put those issues to rest and go on to have a wonderful weekend together!

We hope something we shared here will help you in your relationships when communicating seems a bit tricky.  Take heart!  You’re both on the same team with the goal of resolving this conflict as quickly as possible with both parties moving on toward living happily ever after together!

Jim Brickman’s Soothe: Soothe Yourself with Meditation

Win a copy of Soothe

Chapter six of “Soothe: How to find calm amid everyday chaos” deals with meditation. As I read through the contents of the book, my eyes stopped at this chapter as this topic has a special interest for me. I have been meditating since I was a freshman in high school which puts me at around the 40 year mark for practicing meditation. (Enter our Soothe Contest below)

What I found intriguing in this chapter is that Brickman discusses several ways for a person to get started with meditation. He lists six different types of meditation that anyone, beginner to expert, can use with ease. I loved reading these as it was quite different from what I first read about meditation.

My first exposure on how to mediation was what I think is the standard preconception about meditating. You sit with your legs crossed, straighten your back, have your arms bent with the palms of your hands facing upwards, breathe deeply and chant “om.” Guess what. That didn’t work for me. I can’t be comfortable sitting contorted like a pretzel, trying to breathe from my abdomen while chanting “om.” I didn’t let that discourage me. I just found what worked for me.

Many things I have read about meditation say that you have to clear your mind. For me that is extremely difficult as my mind is working non-stop all the time. I have found my own method that works for me. I recline in a comfortable position. I have a bean bag pillow to support my head and neck. I put headphones on and listen to some soft music. I always start with a short prayer. To try getting my mind away from the flurry of activity thinking about this or that, I run a few affirmations through my mind. Then I just let my mind go and concentrate on the music. When I realize that my mind is wandering to a place I don’t want to go, I bring it back to the music. Sometimes, I will think of a place that is special to me which brings out happy feelings and imagine myself there. At times I will get so into the music that it feels like I am floating upon the notes as the play. My latest favorite music for meditation is the companion CD to the book, “Soothe: Music to quiet your mind and soothe your world.” Other artists that I listen to while meditation are Ryan Farish, Kevin Wood, 2002 and Secret Garden.

For those of you that may be considering meditation for the first time I would like to give you this advice; find what works for you. Everyone is different. What works for me is not going to work for everyone. Try each of the types of meditation mentioned in “Soothe: How to find calm amid everyday chaos.” Make some changes to them if need be to find what works for you. The benefits Brickman lists in the book are valid and I have found them to be true in all my years of meditation.

Start yourself on a new path in life with Soothe.

For more information on Jim Brickman and how to Soothe your life visit jimbrickman.com/SootheOverview.

#SootheYourWorld

Being Real

My oldest daughter graduates next Friday.  It should be one of the happiest days of our lives, to get to share this moment with her.  I thank God that He has allowed me to be here for this moment with my daughter.

And then … I think of my sister that should be here but isn’t.  I pause for a moment, sigh, and then know that she’s here … in her own way, she’s still with us, and she will smile down upon my daughter as she accepts her diploma.

My thoughts swiftly change to other things overshadowing my once cheerful mood and positive outlook.  You see, trouble has reared its ugly head once again in my marriage.  As I talked recently of how thoughts affect your emotions, then your emotions affect your decisions, resulting in your decisions affecting your life … this rings so true in my marriage.

I’m being real here with you all.  As real as I possibly can be.

My husband has had thoughts that have been festering in him since all of the turmoil that our family went through last year.  He is so obsessed with these thoughts that come into his head.  They begin to affect his mood, as obvious by the look on his face, and then his emotions get so out of whack.  Pretty soon, decisions are made that will ultimately not only affect his life but my life and that of our girls.

Yes, sadly, we are at this place once again in our marriage, after many, many months of things looking up for us.  When once we did not think restoration was possible, God proved that it was.  He allowed a spirit of forgiveness to come over me.  That is the only way I was able to move forward after things that were revealed last year.  It was God.  Plain and simple.  Yet, here we are … once more.

And after his history, I am having a very hard time letting go of the hurt and pain this time that have come from his bad choices, decisions he made alone, and actions that he took all on his own accord.  It all comes rising back up in me when I notice a change in him.   I attempt to get him to talk about it, but he clams up, as he did before.  And then, it snowballs from there.

Jealousy and insecurity lead to accusations and assumptions, and it all equates to no trust in the marriage.  Yes, after we have pretty much been put through the wringer already.  The devil is back to his old tricks again.

I am as honest as they come.  Sadly, not every one is this way.  I am an open book.

Here ye, here ye …

I REBUKE YOU DEVIL … RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!  IN THE NAME OF JESUS, YOU ARE TO FLEE FROM MY FAMILY!  LEAVE MY FAMILY ALONE!  YOU CAN NOT HAVE THEM!!!!

JESUS IS OUR SHIELD AND OUR PROTECTOR.  MY STRENGTH COMES FROM THE LORD!

GET BEHIND ME, SATAN, YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE!

IN THE NAME OF JESUS, WE CAST YOU OUT.  GO BACK TO HELL WHERE YOU CAME FROM!

YOU CAN NOT HAVE MY FAMILY!

NOW GO … IN THE NAME OF JESUS!

~*~*~*~*~

Isaiah 54:17

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper;

and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.

This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,

and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.

~*~*~*~*~

Psalm 46:10

Be still, and know that I am God!

~*~*~*~*~

Our God is greater than ANYTHING the devil tries to throw our way!

I will rest in the peace and comfort that is found in GOD … and I will celebrate this time in my daughter’s life.  I will smile, and I will hug her closer to me.  I will have joy in my heart as my daughter walks across that stage to receive her diploma.

YES … I WILL!

Her huge accomplishment will NOT be ruined by the devil’s attempts to steal, kill, and destroy.  MY GOD will see to it that the devil does not win.

I am turning my marriage over to YOU, GOD!  Whatever is to come, whatever I am to face … I know that I will not walk alone.  You will be right there by my side through it all.  Thank you, GOD, for Your strength, Your Love, Your hand of protection.

Whatever Your will is here, Lord, have your way in my marriage and allow me to be at peace with whatever is to come.

I turn it all over to You.

I Often Wonder

My sister’s life was cut short.  She passed away at just 33 years old, two weeks after delivering her only child.

Oh, I will never forget the day that my sister came to my place of employment to tell me the news that she was pregnant.

She asked me to walk to her car where she immediately placed a neatly wrapped package in my hands.  The wrapping paper was so pretty and delicate with a little ribbon tied around the square item that I now held in my hands.  I looked at her with this big question mark over my head, I’m sure, as it was not my birthday or any special occasion so I could not understand why she was presenting me with a gift.

I slowly started to unwrap the present as I glanced up at her.  She was standing in front of me with the sweetest smile forming on her lips.  I carefully ripped back the paper to reveal the back of a picture frame.  As I turned it over and feasted my eyes upon the picture that this silver frame held, I could contain my excitement no longer.  Inside the picture frame was an ultrasound picture!   Without saying a word, I KNEW!

After several squeals of delight and wrapping my arms around my sister’s neck to give her the biggest hug ever, I stepped back to examine my little niece or nephew that I would meet in a few months.

Oh no, I will never forget the day or the way she announced her pregnancy to me!  Her way of doing this was extra special.

My sister allowed me to be a part of her pregnancy.  She kept me informed of doctor appointments and the results of testing as well as when other ultrasounds were scheduled.  I had the honor of throwing a baby shower for her, just as she had done for me four years prior when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter.  We shared so much during those months of her pregnancy.  Time that I treasured and wish I could have slowed down a little more to have enjoyed the last months of her life.  I had no idea at that point in time that as much as we were eagerly awaiting the baby’s arrival with the days seeming to crawl by … we now wish they would have gone a little slower so we could have savored more time with her here on this earth with us.

Ah, but there was no way for us to know.

I was allowed to be present for my sister’s delivery.  While I was not in the room, I was standing just outside of her hospital room when my niece took her first breath in to release the sweetest little cry which was music to our ears!  I remember literally jumping up and down in excitement right there in the hall when I heard the beautiful sound of her baby crying.

Within moments, the nurse was coming out of the room to let us know that my sister delivered a little girl.  When the doctor had her ready, I was allowed to take my place by my sister’s bedside as I gushed with pride at the pink, wrinkled bundle of joy that she held in her arms.  What a precious, precious sight to see.  My sister … the one that once tormented me to no end in our childhood days … was now a mother!

The nurses were ready to take the little bundle to the nursery to weigh her and put her cute little baby footprints on the page in the baby book that I had given my sister a month earlier.  Her husband allowed me to be present in the nursery as they did all of the necessary things that are required for a newborn.  There I was, smiling widely as I snapped picture after picture, standing next to my niece anxiously awaiting the moment I would be allowed to hold her for the first time.  That would have to wait, though, as there was business to tend to.

I remember looking through the glass of the nursery and seeing my parents and her inlaws smiling back as they ohh’ed and ahhh’ed over the pink, wrinkled skinned baby girl laying there in all of her glory.  What a precious moment that I was allowed to be a part of.

Later, we returned to my sister’s side with her baby all cleaned up, and then it happened.  I was given the green light to hold my darling niece in my arms!  Finally, I could hold this little angel and look into her sparkling brown eyes while using the lightest touch possible as I stroked my index finger across what little bit of brown hair covered her tiny head.

Two weeks.

That’s all we had with my sister after the delivery of her daughter.  Our happy moments were soon a distant memory as we learned of my sister’s passing.  Death came knocking that scorching hot and humid July day.

I will never forget fearing something was terribly wrong and racing as fast as my Honda Civic would go own the country roads to my sister’s house that day.  I could not get there fast enough. I had such an urgency in my being after not reaching her by phone all morning long.   That day was the first day her husband was returning to work after the delivery of their daughter, and I knew something was wrong when she did not answer the phone despite my practically ringing it off the hook.  I called the doctor’s office as she was supposed to call for an appointment that day, yet, they had not heard from her.  Sharing my concerns with them, they, too, began calling her but were unable to reach her.  When the nurse asked me if I thought my sister might harm herself or the baby, I practically threw the phone on the floor as I raced out of the door at my office and got behind the wheel.  THAT was my biggest fear.  It had now been spoken out into the universe, and I had to get to my sister … right … then!

We knew that my sister was having a little trouble.  She wasn’t sleeping.  We knew she had concerns as to whether she was being a good mother to her newborn daughter.  YES!  She was such a good mother, and it showed in how she gently and tenderly cared for her daughter.  She did not sleep due to standing over her daughter’s crib as she was afraid something was going to happen to her baby.  Sure, we tried to relieve my sister so she could get some sleep, but we saw her shadow across the threshold behind the closed bedroom door, and we knew that sleep had not come after all.  That was why she was making an appointment first thing that Monday morning when the doctor’s office opened up.  And yet … the call was never placed.

Back on the road, my thoughts were consuming me, and the urgency was rising up within me even more so than before. I HAD to get to her.  Speeding down the road, I soon saw a gray car in my rear view mirror.  This car was so close to me with flashing yellow hazard lights behind me.  I just knew it was an unmarked police car.  Regardless, I would not stop. NOT even for the blue light that I was anticipating at any given moment.  Instead of the blue lights, though, the gray car attempted to get beside me.  I stomped the gas pedal even closer to the floor as I thought they might be trying to get around me, and I was NOT stopping for THEIR emergency.  I had an emergency of my own!

I turned the corner and everything seemed to go in slow motion at that point.  I could not believe my eyes.  There was yellow caution, police tape around my sister’s house, and her house was surrounded by police cars.  And then, the gray car pulled in behind me, and as I turned around, I saw my dad rushing to stand before me where he grabbed me … and I knew.  Instantly, I knew … our greatest fear had become a reality.  Without my dad saying a word, I knew that my sister had ended her life.  As his strong arms were wrapped around me as tightly as he could hold me with the palm of his hands on the back of my head, I sobbed deeply into his chest.  There were sounds that day that I could not identity as I had never heard them before – or since – and I pray I never do again.  Those sounds came from me.  Heart wrenching, deep from the core of my being … sobs and wails … as my heart shattered into a million pieces inside of my chest as my daddy held me up in his embrace.

That was – without a doubt – the worst day of my life when I lost my sister.  My only sibling.  The only other person that could identify with childhood memories.  I lost my best friend that day.

Thirteen years have passed now, and I remember this all as if it was yesterday.  When it happened, I did not know how I would make it from one minute to the next.  I had no idea how I could possibly draw my next breath now that she was gone.  This hurt and pain was unlike anything else I had ever felt before in my lifetime.  It was as if someone snatched me up with lightning speed and threw me full force into a brick wall.  I hurt, I ached, I shook.  Sleep would not come for me as nightmares took its place.  While I did not see my sister end her life, I had this horror movie that played on repeat in my brain that I could … not … shut … off!

Post traumatic stress syndrome.  We learned what that was after my sister’s passing.

And as badly as I was hurting, it was magnified for my parents.  My dad, I later learned, had witnessed the aftermath of my sister’s suicide.  He and my brother-in-law were the ones that found her.  My dad had rushed to my sister’s house after I told him I could not get her on the phone.  He heard the baby crying but could not get into the house.  He called her husband at work, and he rushed home to meet my dad.  Together, they went into the house where they found my niece in the bassinet that I had given my sister.  There my niece was laying in the white bassinet, crying.  They made their way down the hallway and into the master bedroom where they found my sister.  I can not begin to imagine the horror that my dad lives with to this very day after what he saw in that room.  While my brother-in-law ran screaming from the room and later fainted on the kitchen floor, my dad stayed in the room crying over his daughter.  Not wishing for anyone else to see my sister this way, my dad took a sheet and covered my sister’s body.

Yes, thirteen years later, and we are the survivors that have had to find a new sense of normal.  We had to learn how to walk around with our hearts shattered now that my sister was gone.  We had to learn how to act again, and how to function with such a big part of us missing.

I often wonder what it would have been like if my sister had reached out for help that day.  Instead of taking matters into her own hands, I wish she would have called me and let me know that she was struggling as she had never struggled before. Oh, how I wish she had given me a little insight into the pain that she kept hidden from us all in those two weeks. Yes, we knew the lack of sleep was an issue, but we did not know the emotional turmoil that she was feeling.  Until it was too late.

We were only allowed to be around my niece a handful of times through these 13 years.  That added to our pain as the only part of my sister we had left, we were not able to be with.  We were not allowed to be an active part of her daughter’s life.  We were not allowed to be there for her, to bond with her, to love her and show her the depths of our love for her.  We were forbidden, for the majority of these years, from interacting with her.

My niece will be 14 years old in July.  I often wonder how things would have been different if her mother had been here all of these years.  I know I would have had a closer relationship with her as my sister would have made sure that all of us saw her more and got to spend quality time with her.

I often wonder what we could have done differently to have prevented my sister’s suicide.  For a long time, we carried so much guilt and shame for not knowing … not seeing … not stopping … this heart breaking, tragic event that took my sister from us all.

Oh yes, I often wonder what life would have been like.  I sure do.

 

 

 

 

 

Honoring Mothers Every Where

Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  It was a day honoring mothers every where.   That includes YOU, dear mother that is reading this that often times feels like everyone else gets honored on “that” day but you.

I have been there.

There was once a time when I felt like I was lost in the shuffle on Mother’s Day.  The festivities fell on my shoulders … to make sure my mom felt special, to make sure my grandmother felt special, too, and let’s not forget that I also had to make sure that my mother-in-law felt special as well.  I was the one that people looked to and expected something to be done to “celebrate” the mothers in the family.  Yet, I was and am a mother myself, so who was supposed to celebrate … ME?

At one time, I felt selfish for these thoughts.  Not any more.

I AM a mother, and I DO deserve to be treated special.  Not just on one day a year, though.  Yes, mothers get special recognition on that day for all that they do.  But, I hope you’re showing your mother or the mother of your children DAILY how special they are and how much you appreciate and love them.  They work long hours with little recognition for all that they DO.  As the saying goes, “A mother’s work is never done.”  It seems like that, doesn’t it with the endless pile of laundry that seems to breed and multiply in the laundry room and clothes hampers!

But, yes, at one point I felt selfish for wondering who was to celebrate me and how long did I have to “mother” to qualify for someone celebrating me.

I finally decided that my husband was perfectly capable of celebrating the woman that brought him into this world and raised him.  I no longer needed to carry the weight of this on my shoulders to do things “just right” to celebrate her.  She wasn’t my mother.  Oh that is not going to come off nice to some of my readers, but I inherited her when I married him.  Whether he celebrated her in years past and how, he did without me then … so if he wishes to celebrate her now, he can still do that without my help.   No, I don’t harbor any ill feelings toward his mother at all.  Please don’t read that into this.  But, she was one of the ones that didn’t really celebrate me.  Finally, she did start mailing me a card, which I appreciate.  It took YEARS for me to “qualify” to be a recipient of a card from her, although I am the mother of her 10 year old granddaughter in addition to her 18 year old step granddaughter.  Yes, I think I more than qualify for someone to celebrate me instead of me always being the one to celebrate everyone else and make sure they feel special on Mother’s Day.

Although my late grandmother would come to Mother’s Day dinner at my house along with my parents, my grandma didn’t celebrate me either.  I always had her a present when she came, and I made sure to recognize her.  I just did not “qualify” to receive recognition from her, I suppose, although I’ve been a mother for the past 18 years.

My parents, though, they ALWAYS celebrated me.  I was recognized by my dad, especially, and I am so thankful for all that he has done in years past and this year included, to recognize me on this day where mothers every where are honored and recognized.

I was always so “busy” getting the Mother’s Day gifts in order as well as preparing the Mother’s Day meal … it wasn’t a day off for me AT ALL … instead, it seemed to be a day that I worked even harder, without any recognition at all for ME being a mother, too.  I worked, I did, I bought, I cooked, I made, I recognized, I honored.  Everyone let me do it, too.  My mother, my grandmother, my mother-in-law, my husband, etc.

Finally I had a melt down one year.  I said WHO is going to celebrate ME?

Well, I did NOT have that complaint this year AT ALL …

As to the answer to the question “Who is going to celebrate ME?”  My daughter … my 18 year old daughter that is graduating at the end of the month … took HER graduation money that she has received from people thus far and went shopping for me.  I did not know this at the time, but it was revealed to me this past weekend.  My darling daughter took her money that was given to her and used it to purchase presents to honor and celebrate me.  She could have (and really should have) taken that money to use on something for herself … and yet, she sacrificed so that I would be honored and celebrated on Mother’s Day.

It all started Friday when my girls announced that they would do whatever I wanted the entire weekend since it was Mother’s Day weekend.  YEA!!!!

We took off to Charleston on Friday to Magnolia Plantation and Gardens.  Oh my goodness!  If you have never been … it is a must see if you are ever in South Carolina!

Magnolia

From the historic house, to the beautiful grounds, there is so much history within the old rice fields alongside of this plantation.  We strolled through the gardens, visited the petting zoo, and enjoyed looking at the miniature horses and donkey as well.  Then, we went up to the house and played on a tree that my now 18 year old daughter played on when we visited this site many years ago.   We took pictures with the beautiful white bridge that is in a lot of people’s wedding photographs from the low country.  We were one with nature as we saw alligators in the ponds and swamps, and that was plenty close enough for me!

Magnolia Bridge

We had a wonderful day together, and then we went to the mall.  :)  Doesn’t everyone after they’ve taken a walk back into time?

Saturday my daughter went out for a bit and returned with flowers … a dozen of the most beautiful white roses I’ve ever seen before!  I can imagine these once tiny white buds slowly opening up into these fist sized roses to share all of their beauty with us.  I placed them in a vase and then gave them a home right in the very center of our dinning room table to enjoy as we had our dinner together as a family.

Mother's Day Roses

We spent Saturday with me transferring 12k pictures from my computer onto an external hard drive for safe keeping, and then we were off to dinner at a local restaurant with my parents. Tomatoes and rice were calling my name!    If you’re Southern, you’ll understand.  If not, don’t ask.

Sunday morning I awoke to beautiful gifts from my darling daughter.  As I mentioned earlier in this post, she took her graduation money and purchase gifts for me.  She has a heart as big as Texas!    Not wishing for her sister or step dad to feel bad for not having any gifts to give me themselves, my daughter shared the presents that she purchased for me with them so that everyone would have something to give me that morning on Mother’s Day.  That was so incredibly sweet of her, and it truly touched my heart.  Later, she and I had a conversation together where she shared that although it was from her and she had this overwhelming feeling to tell me that morning, she didn’t because she didn’t want to take away from her sister and step dad presenting me with the gifts.  I told her that although she never said a word at that time, she didn’t have to because I KNEW … I knew who celebrated me.  I knew who those gifts were from.  Deep in my heart, I knew that my 18 year old daughter was the one that took it upon herself to recognize, celebrate and honor me on Mother’s Day.  Yes, my day had come … someone recognized me due to their kind and thoughtful heart without me saying a word.  No prodding, no comments, no subtle hints even.  She did this all on her own.  And my heart was overflowing with joy.

Mother's Day Gifts

After that, I reminded my daughters that they said they would do anything I wanted for Mother’s Day weekend.  Can you guess what I chose to do?  TRAIL RIDING!!!

My 10 year old daughter goes trail riding with us every chance she gets.  She loves it so much and enjoys being with her horse.  My oldest daughter, however, isn’t as thrilled to get on the back of a horse these days.  She will if I beg … but this day, Mother’s Day, all I had to do was smile sweetly as we loaded the horse trailer, packed a lunch, snacks, and drinks, and headed out on the trail.  All four of us got to go together trail riding, which thrilled my heart completely!  That was the greatest gift that money could never buy, the gift of having my family together – all of us – including our fur babies.

Mother's Day Ride

Mother's Day

After a few hours of trail riding, we returned home where shortly thereafter my parents arrived to have dinner with us.  We grilled out and had an enjoyable evening laughing, talking, and just enjoying each other’s company.

My mom was funny, though, as when she entered my house, she was talking.  I was listening to her with the biggest smile on my face as she had walked right past the dinning room table where a bouquet of flowers sat on the table.  Flowers we purchased for her on Mother’s Day.  We also had a little crystal whatnot (or as she calls them, dust collectors) sitting right beside it that said, “Love You Forever.”   I had to point at the flowers before she looked in that direction, and even then she had no idea that they were for HER … I had to tell her, and then she melted right there on the spot.

Ah, sweet moments like this will be engraved in my memory forever!

All in all, it was a perfect weekend spent with my family.  I celebrated my mom, of course.  But, my daughter celebrated ME!

My husband did take me shopping Friday at the mall, and I picked up some blouses … so that was his Mother’s Day gift to me, which I greatly appreciate.  But, knowing that my daughter used her money that was given to her as a graduation gift to purchase my Mother’s Day … there is a twinge of guilt there, but I know that she sacrificed for me.  My darling daughter thought of me … honored me … and celebrated ME.

That was a great feeling!

Just as I wrote on a Facebook status this weekend … Life is good … God is GREAT … I am blessed and so grateful to God above!

There will never be enough words to adequately express my heartfelt appreciation for what my daughter did for me this past weekend.  She’s really special.  I have known that for quite some time, but this … a completely selfless act, sacrificing for her mother … there are no words to tell you how that feels deep down in my soul.

If you are reading this and might have bombed this Mother’s Day on not recognizing the mother of your children or your own mother, take heart.  There is always next year OR the next “special occasion.”  BUT, why wait?  You can create your very own special occasion … just pick a day that you’d like to do something for them out of the blue.  You know what?  It might mean MORE to them if you do something on a day that it isn’t “expected.”  Whether you buy a gift, make one, take them out to dinner, or just sit and spent quality time with them …  you will light up their entire world with your efforts.

Take time to show the people in your life that they matter.

 

Jim Brickman: Soothe Your World

Win a copy of Soothe

We all feel stress. Many of us experience it on a daily basis. We know stress is bad. But do we really do anything about it or do we just live with? Jim Brickman, world renowned solo piano artist who has lived many years with a hectic stressful schedule, has compiled a wonderful collection of ideas and exercises to help everyone relieve the stress of daily life in an aptly named book: Soothe – How to Find Calm Amid Everyday Chaos.

Brickman brings together experts in various fields that share their insights into how each of us can soothe the stress in our lives. In a delightful narration, Brickman intertwines these ideas and exercises with his own personal experiences as he had worked to soothe the stress in his own life. The narrative is lively and entertaining with sections set aside throughout the book showcasing brief detailed descriptions of techniques and exercises we can use every day from his collection of experts.

As I read through the book, I could relate to so many of the things he touched upon which gave the book a more personal touch for me. I can relate to being a worrier. I can relate to getting stressed when I am late. I can relate to having my mind constantly working thinking about one thing or another; even to the point that it can affect my sleep. Some days it seems like all I am is a big ball of stress. Most of which I cause all by myself.

To accompany his book, Soothe – How to Find Calm Amid Everyday Chaos, Brickman has released a companion CD, Soothe – Music to quiet your mind & soothe your world, of beautiful stress relieving songs that incorporate the classic Brickman style arranged with peaceful sounds of nature. I have found the CD so captivating with the relaxing moods that emanate from each song that I have begun to use it during my daily meditation as well as playing it at my desk at work.

I highly recommend this book and CD for those of you that would like to try to soothe some of the stress and anxiety in your life. Brickman brings together an excellent variety of thought and examples that are easily integrated into your own schedule. Going through the book you might feel a bit overwhelmed at all the information. Don’t be. Start out slow and pick what you think will be easy for you to work into your day. You don’t have to do everything suggested in the book to see results.

Several of the techniques Brickman mentions in Soothe I have known about for some time. A couple of them I have already included in my daily schedule. Over the next several days, I would like to expand a bit on those things he writes about in Soothe – How to Find Calm Amid Everyday Chaos and give you some of my own experiences with trying to live a less stressful and more enjoyable life.

Start yourself on a new path in life with Soothe.
For more information on Jim Brickman and how to Soothe your life visit:
jimbrickman.com/SootheOverview.
#SootheYourWorld

National Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer. I come to you not with some big, long, extravagant post but a short and simple request.

Would you please join me around the nation today to pray?

The world we are living in is so completely troubled, and we need God more than ever! Sadly, He is being taken out of a lot of things in life when we need Him the most.

Will you please join me in prayer?

Matthew 18:19-20
19″Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask,

it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.

20″For where two or three have gathered together in My name,

I am there in their midst.”

He’s in our mists!  He hears every prayer.  Whether you speak it out loud from your lips or whether you silently speak it from your heart to His, HE HEARS US ALL.

Pray for the nation. Pray for the leaders.  Pray for those who will decide the future of our country.

Pray for your neighbors, coworkers, family, and friends.

Pray over your health and that of your family.

Pray about anything and everything that is on your heart.

Pray as hard as you can.

Even pray for your enemies, as hard as that might be.  That one is still very important.  Pray for those who curse you.

God hears us … every single one!