Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I've been missing my blog.  Although my mind races with thoughts, I have not been able to pause and get a single one down.  I've been second guessing myself and my ability to get my thoughts across.  I want to be upbeat about life and encouraging about all circumstances.  Sometimes, I'm just not feeling it.  Truth be told, sometimes I'm just trying to survive.  Not necessarily because something terrible is currently going on, but because I fall victim to the little voice in my head that tells me I have nothing to offer.  It's true my education is limited; my work experience is modest, but I have lived.  I have many life experiences under my belt.  Right now, past experiences are warning me that life is about to get real.  My daughter's going to be a junior.  My oldest son will be a freshman.  My youngest son is starting middle school and my daughters are entering the 2nd grade.  Our relaxing and carefree summer is about to end and in it's place will be early mornings, full schedules, and tired children.  I'm thankful for the time we've had together.  Although we've still been busy doing things, it seems as though things slowed down just enough for us to appreciate the little things.  Mike and I have taken several trips together.  We are being very intentional with our relationship.  Things have changed and for that I am thankful.  My boys have played basketball, run track, gone to camps.  My oldest has worked, gone to camp, and started studying for her 4 upcoming AP classes.  My littles have gone to their first camps also...gymnastics and winshape.  Their little personalities are showing themselves a little more every day (that can be both good and bad).  I think the most important lesson I will take from this summer be intentional.  Things in life don't just happen; schedules don't just open up and time just doesn't magically appear.  We have to put in some type of effort to make things happen...good or bad.  Personally, I'm striving for the good.

Jekyll Island

Lord Huron Concert in Athens, GA

 New Hampshire

Pool Time at Jekyll
Folly Beach in South Carolina

Gam time in South Carolina

Guy time at Jekyll Island

The tooth fairy came to visit Miss Kaitlyn

 This's a real possibility.    
Christian at Mercer Basketball Camp

Ethan, just doing his thing.

All in all, it's been a great summer.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Once Upon A Time

There was once a most handsome young man.  He was a skilled basketball player.  On the court he was calm, decisive, and unafraid.  Off the court he was kind, funny, humble, and had muscles that went on for days.  Their beginning was a simple one.  After ogling him from afar the girl, who had been his cheerleader, decided it was time for them to meet.  Of course she was too shy to just walk up and introduce herself, but not so shy she couldn't recruit the help of a friend to make the introduction.  To her sheer delight the cute guy was also interested.

Their connection was immediate and undeniable.  There were many dates, late night phone calls, and snuggles on the couch.  He was passionate about basketball and his future with the sport.  She was passionate about him.  He wanted 1 maybe 2 children.  She wanted 5.  He loved living up north and all the snow.  She really loved the sunny days of the south.  He wasn't sure what direction he would go after college.  She was sure she wanted to go into the field of psychology.  He was carefree and open to try anything.  She liked to play it safe having some control of potential outcomes.  He was a spender.  She was a saver.  The attraction was impenetrable.

Graduation day came and decisions for the future were imminent.  He decided to join the military.  She...just didn't know what that would mean.  They had fallen in love, but neither knew what was to come of it.  She needed a new car to suit growing needs.  She liked the Focus.  He liked the Taurus. She looked at the affordability.  He looked at the safety.  They decided to test drive them together.  On that ride, the young man looks at the young lady and says, "We should just get married."  With no other thoughts in her mind, the young lady responded with a simple, yet confident "ok."

   * * * * * 

It has been 16 years since I said "ok".  Our romantic journey has had a little bit of everything in it.  It hasn't always been a fairy tale story, but it's our story.  The beauty of relationships is that they're all different and they all have potential.  They have the potential to be whatever we want them to be.  Don't settle and don't give up.  

 The day I said, "ok."

The day I said, "I do."

 The day I said, "I will."


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Gamboling with grief.

It is defined as extreme mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss;
sharp sorrow; painful regret.

Grief has to be one of the most keen emotions a person can feel.  The tremendous pain takes root in your very soul and attaches itself to everything you once thought was safe.  For most of my life, I believed this feeling only happened when a loved one passed away.  I figured an emotion of this magnitude could only be felt in those extreme circumstances.  As it turns out, grief is experienced any time something that is considered a great loss occurs...even if the loss is something you choose to give up (smoking, drinking, etc).

Sadness is not a feeling I welcome with open arms.  Instead, I will do everything in my power to avoid it.  I will clean, paint walls, do yard work...anything to busy my mind.  The unfortunate reality is, that sadness it inescapable.  The only way to get to the other side is to trudge through the abyss and allow the natural stages of the pain to happen.

What I have found to be helpful is educating myself on stages of grief.  I realize this could sound hokey to some, but being aware of myself and what's going on has been a key to my survival.  Once I accepted the truth that I would not be first to bypass my sadness, I was (reluctantly) able to move forward.

This is where we will all start. "This can't be true."  "This isn't happening." "I won't accept this."  Those are just three examples of thoughts and declarations that will go through your mind.  We will all entertain fantasies how how we really want/ed things to be and how we see/saw things working out.  It's against our better judgement, but many hours will be spent here.

"Why me?" "Why did God let this happen?"  Many of us are uncomfortable with anger because of preconceived ideas we have about it; it's's unchristian...definitely unbecoming.  But hear me...anger is not a bad thing.  Anger can allow us to feel strong and provide some temporary structure in the midst of our loss.  It may sound strange, but channeling anger gives us something to hold on to; something to own.  The feeling can provide some sense of stability...even if it is only temporary.  Obviously, it can develop a life of it's own, if allowed to go too far.  Here though, I am talking about healthy anger.

This can take on several different faces and it often goes hand in hand with denial.  We can negotiate with God.  We can make deals with those who have hurt us.  We can even accept fault for what is simply not ours to accept.  We want to look for any possible way to escape the situation we're in.  The feels of desperation are more evident than ever.  It is most helpful to have a special someone walk with you through this time.  They are better equipped to recognize what you're doing and help you refocus. 

This is the most hopeless and debilitating stage of all.  Depression can suck any light left right out of you.  It leads us to believe that things will never change.  We will always feel the way we do right now.  It's the pervasive hopelessness that convinces us nothing will ever work out for us.  All I can say, is hold on. 

One day it happens.  The tears will slow.  We can take a deep breath and realize this is our truth.  
This is now a part of my story.  This will/will not define me.  

Accepting where you are can bring comfort, but it can sometimes lead to confusion.  I wish these 5 steps were always in order and once experienced they could be checked off.  Unfortunately that is simply not so.  There are no time limits to grief, nor are there exact rules.  I've heard it be compared to digestion; there is nothing that can be done to hurry it along.  Eventually it will pass.  You will be able to let go and embrace your new normal.  You will be able to live again.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Lord, save me!

 It was high tide at Jekyll.  Mike decided to take the girls down to the beach and show them how high the ocean was.  It was a beautiful sight.  The littles could not believe their eyes.  The way the water rose up to the steps, it looked as if we could just step out onto the waves.  They were amazed, as just the afternoon before there was rocks, shells and plenty of sand to play in!  The beautify of the high tide was amazing.  The thought of the ever-changing tides was even more so.

Peter and the other disciples boarded their boat to cross the sea.  They were no sign of a storm, but shortly after their departure the waves got higher and the skies opened.  They were no doubt afraid, as it was so sudden.  I can only imagine their relief and total awe when they saw Jesus was walking on the waters toward them and the bewilderment when Jesus asked Peter to step out of the boat onto the choppy waters.  I cant fathom the questions and doubt as this sight unfolded before the disciples eyes.  The first steps Peter took, he was totally focused on Jesus.  He had faith.  However, the moment his eyes took in his surroundings he got scared and began to doubt.  Peter lost his focus...he took his eyes off of Christ.  I know as the doubt took hold, the fear and anxiety took over.  With his faith in Christ shaken due to the howling winds, he took his focus off of Jesus.  When we take our eyes off of the only one who can not only calm the storms, but walk us through them, we will inevitably sink.  Those are the moments that this crazy life we live gains control;  when deep sadness, loneliness, desperation, and uncertainty set in.  Thankfully, just as Peter did, we have the opportunity to call out for help.  It's one of the shortest prayers in the Bible, but definitely one of the most powerful.  Peter said in Matthew 14:30, "Lord, save me!"  It is because of faith in Jesus Christ that we are empowered to do the impossible.  Thankfully, Jesus is the perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2).  We just have to ask for it and believe that He will provide it!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Makes perfect sense

 I purchased these bracelets in January.  It was during a much needed shopping break that I came across these.  I loved the compass because it is a reminder to keep my eyes straight ahead and striving to stay on the right path; God's path.  The other one, for some reason I just liked it. I wish I could say it was purchased for some profound reason; that I was "feeling it" at the time, but that's simply not the case.  It was during Sunday morning worship, not long after I got them, that I was reminded of the fact I am to praise God through it all.  I am to "celebrate my path" even if/when it is not the one I chose/wanted to be on.  Eventually, when I would the bracelets would jingle and move I would remind myself to be thankful; although there were many, many times I wasn't "feeling it."

I doubt it will come as a surprise for me to's been a rough year.  It's probably my least favorite for a number of reasons.  It may go down as one of my least favorite years.  I don't know.  Anyhow, with that being said, time is a definite healer.  So I am feeling better and am continuing to gain perspective regarding different things. Yesterday evening, as I was walking in my room, I noticed my Bible was in the middle of my bedroom floor.  It was odd because I definitely didn't put it there, but I figured one of my littles had hopefully been reading it.  they were either reading, or reorganizing my room.  Regardless, it dawned on me that I sure had not read anything that day.  I picked it up and decided to just open it and start reading, with no plan.  I flipped to Roman chapter 5.

"...we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us."
Romans 5:3-5

I could not believe what I was bracelet!  I am a believer that nothing happens by chance.  There is a reason and a purpose for everything.  By finding that bracelet and wearing it religiously, God was very subtly remind me to trust Him; to be thankful for where I was currently was in life.  While there were times I had to think hard and dig deep to be thankful (grief can unfortunately really suck the life and hope right out of you), I would do it.  Now, as I am emerging from the dark clouds that surrounded me for so long, my eyes are wide open and I see it!  I see that gentle reminder God was giving me.  I was to have faith in Him and believe that he would see me through despite where I was at that time.  He is faithful and for that reason alone, I can celebrate my path!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

I love to write.  It helps me sort through the thoughts that swirl around in my head.  It helps me put some of the pieces to my unfinished puzzle together.  Another reason I blog is because I want to be real.  I want someone...anyone to be able to read my words and realize they are not alone.  They are not the only ones who stress over life, who cry over meaningless things, or get overwhelmed to the point they question God's purpose and his capabilities to use everything for good.

Mike and I celebrated our 15th anniversary on Sunday.  That is quite an accomplishment in my mind.  If I allow myself to "go there", sometimes I'm amazed we've made it this far.  Believe me I love my husband very much, but to be honest, I don't always like him.  That's an interesting concept if you actually let yourself marinate on it for a while.   How is it possible to love, but not like at the same time.  I've done a good bit of thinking on that lately and then yesterday while reading in Ecclesiastes chapter 3 the answer was given to me.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,

a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Solomon, while pursuing life's meaning, explains it perfectly.  There are going to be many different seasons of life; some of which we will welcome with a smile and others that we will grit our teeth and bare it.  No one enjoys the hard times.  Who wants to mourn?  Feel like giving up?  Hate?  Those are terrible feeling/situations we all find ourselves in at times.  However, Solomon, while pursuing  the meaning of life, goes on to explain to us something very inspiring:

What do people really get for all their hard work?  I have seen the burden God has placed on us all.  Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.
Ecclesiastes 3:11-13

Keep the faith friends.  God is not finished with us yet.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Always and Never

...two words I try to avoid.

Somewhere a long the way I was taught to avoid thinking in extremes.  Recently that lesson has become more important than ever to me.  I tend to veer in the directions of these "universal quantifiers".  By doing that, I not only limit my thinking, but I unknowingly give myself permission to feel those in extremes.   Life is not only made up of black and white, but of an abundance of colors in between.  However, as with every rule, there will be some exceptions.

1.  Things will always change.  God tells us in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is a season for everything...a time to laugh, a time to cry.  There's a time to grieve, a time to dance.  Based on that scripture alone we know that life changes; jobs, marriage, friendships....  I could go on forever naming them and even then I'm sure there could be more examples that could be added.  Change in and of itself is not a bad thing, but grasping the reality that it is inevitable is absolutely helpful.  Trusting God with your life and constantly holding on to his promises is what will get you through the good times and bad.

2.  Your decisions will always affect those around you.  If an adult decides to skip work for the day...fellow coworkers will probably have to work harder to make up for it.  If a youth decides they'd rather not do their section of a school project...the entire groups will suffer the consequences of that zero.  It doesn't matter what the decision at hand is.  The rewards and/or consequences have a way of trickling to others, whether it's fair or not.

3.  There are always things to be grateful for.  Even in the darkest of days there are things we can choose to be thankful for.  It could be that you're healthy, that your children are healthy.  You could be grateful for the beautiful sunrise or the restful sleep you had.  Our gratitude does not have to be felt over the big things.  For me, it's more often than not over the small, simple things.  No matter what your blessings are, gratitude is always a choice that only you can make.

 4.  There is always hope.  Depending on our age and maturity level, we will all hope for different things.  Whether it is a student hoping for straight A's or an adult hoping for the next promotion, it's there.  Discouragement, pessimism, depression, and anger are all killers of hope.  They are brought forth by the enemy.  Optimism, encouragement, and hope all come from our Savior.  By embracing those thoughts is the same as proclaiming there is no Savior.  He is the one who provides us with hope and because He does exist there will always be hope for you.

It is a light within us that pierces the darkness of doubt and discouragement and taps into the light
(hope) hope of all creation - even the Savior.
John H Groburg.

5.  Always, always forgive.  I have been under the impression for as long as I can remember that forgiveness is a feeling.  If you don't feel it, then you don't give it.  I have been terribly wrong.  Forgiveness is a decision.  It requires very little of us, but the choice to give it is such a wonderful blessing.  It frees us from the snares of anger and bitterness.  It releases us into the freedom of knowing that we are trusting our God.  He knows the pain we experience and every tear that falls from our eyes.  He will deal with any and every *** that comes our way.  His presence changes things.  When we embrace Him and allow him to take over, our love will grow deeper and the anger we feel evaporates and gives way to forgiveness.

1.  Never assume someone knows how you feel.  I am notorious for doing this.  I simply assume Mike knows that I love him...that I respect him.  Regardless if he knows or simply assumes, he needs to hear it from me.  I can not simply assume that my children know how much I love them and how I cherish each one of them.  They need to hear it.  Don't ever let a day go by where you fail to express your emotions.  Whether it's love, appreciations, frustration, or disappointment.

2.  Never get so comfortable that you become complacent.  Complacency happens when we get so accustomed to our routine that we stop growing as people.  We stop working on our marriage.  We stop working on our friendships.  We become too satisfied.  I realize that may sound a bit peculiar, because we want to be satisfied and many of us thrive on routines.  The problem develops when we stop trying to become better people.  We settle with average.  We settle with the, "that's it?" mentality.  Complacency encourages doing the absolute minimum.  There is a time for everything, so this type of mentality may be helpful for a season, but not for a lifestyle.  We need to continue setting goals and reaching them, only to have another goal lined up after that.

3.  Never forget that you too are flawed.  We are all fallible and fantastically human.  We will all make mistakes that we will have to atone for.  The mistakes and bad judgement calls are not so much the problem.  The problem comes in when we begin thinking we are better than those around us. Only after that is when pride settles in.  Our lives are a process.  Through every painful and humiliating decision and every hurtful and heartbreaking interaction, we are growing.  Our mistakes are what help us gain wisdom and craft our lives.  Everything that happens to us, good or bad, provides us with the strength, knowledge, and even confidence to live the life we are meant to live.

4.  Never stop trying to improve yourself.  Every day presents a new opportunity for growth.  Just as the flowers reach for the heaves, we should to.  The closer we get to the Father, the more we will desire to be like Him.  Will we ever be perfect?  Absolutely not.  However, Ephesians 4:25 says that we were created to be more like God, truly righteous and holy.  Not "holier than thou" but honest, committed, and morally pure.

5.  Never give up.  The thought of giving up is one that I have all too often.  I tend to get tunnel vision and am unable to see the big picture which is this, life is precious.  Satan does his very best to convince us that we are worthless and that things/situations/circumstances will never get better.  That is why he is knows as the king of lies.  His primary job is to kill, steal, and destroy.  If we are not careful and allow ourselves to become ensnared in his lies, he will kill our dreams, steal our joy, and destroy our happiness.  As long as there is air in your lungs, do not give up the fight.


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