Saturday, August 13, 2011

Grateful Thinking Brings Great Things

Gratitude: A state of being grateful for what you already have, knowing that better times and things are on their way.

I have been writing gratitude lists for almost 9 years now.  Some of these lists have been one liners, entire pages, and others have been in my head tumbling around waiting for the opportunity to exit. 

Writing a gratitude list was not something that I practiced everyday, and quite honestly was only practiced when I was in a very negative mindset and needed a pick me up to get out.  Notice I used the word "very".  In my old ways, I had to be in a lot of pain to motivate me to change.  It was normal for me to have negative thoughts throughout each day and actually stew on them... Why do I have to go through this...  I'm going to show him I'll send him a text/email right back letting him know exactly what I think about his comments...  Why doesn't she like me, what did I do... I wish I would've gotten that job, car, friend, outfit, etc.  I was full of negative thinking without even recognizing it.  When I got honest with a friend about my thinking she suggested that I write a gratitude list.  A what?  Ok, so I knew what it was, but why?  What will that do?  I'm feeling hurt, angry or full of resentment, and she thinks I should write a gratitude list.  It was a crazy thought (or so I thought), but I did it. 

My first gratitude list was written with the letters of the alpabet, and I was to find something for each letter that I was grateful for.  I did it.  I was grateful for my children and food, and that tells me exactly where I was at in my life.  I am very grateful that my mental state of being has changed immensely from this first list, and that I can be grateful for many things around me without much labor.

In an attempt to expand my gratitude list from my children and food, I practiced everyday finding something in my life to be grateful for.  I vividly recall one morning in my car heading to work, and for the first time in my life I saw a "Sundog".  I had no idea what it was or what they were called.  All I knew is that I was grateful that I was able to see it.  It was beautiful!  S = Sundogs  One morning I laid in bed talking to God, and I heard a bird chirping right outside my window.  I felt that God had sent this little birdie to put a smile on my face.  It worked.  B = Birds  I started to include things in nature as a part of my lists.  I was growing, and God was smiling upon me as I began to open my eyes more and more.

Today I have trained my brain to seek things to be grateful for, and that includes within the painful stuff.  Just this morning I woke up with major pain in my back from my back surgery in January.  I could have laid here, and wallowed around in the negative thinking and let it ruin my day, but I choose a different mindset.  I see it as it's a great sign that I am alive!  The pain could be much worse, the outcome could have been much worse, but it's not and I believe that it will get better.  I worked a long day yesterday at work, and missed Friday night family time.  This is rare for me, and I could have gotten upset.  However, I choose to see it as I am grateful that I have a job, and one that I enjoy doing.

If I look at my life around me through these glasses I can always find something to be grateful for, and yes, even in the ick.  It's finding the positives in my life, and stop complaining.  When I complain less I find myself much happier, and my eyes more open to all the great things around me.

If this is true for me it can be true for you.  This is one of the reasons why I started "Daily Gratitude" on Facebook.  I am completely amazed and overwhelmed by the support and gratitude that bursts from this page daily.  I find myself looking at this page first thing in the morning, posting something that I am grateful for, and reading the posts again as the last thing at night.  Even for someone who practices gratitude daily this simple action has made a change in my attitude.

I believe in the Law of Attraction.  I attract myself to whatever I give focus or energy to; Grateful thinking brings great things!  What do I have to lose?  I can choose negative thinking that brings negative things or I can choose grateful thinking that brings great things.  I think I'll have another cup of thankfulness!  What will you choose? 

I challenge you to start a gratitude list today, and continue it daily.  It will change your life!

God Bless,

Thursday, August 4, 2011

My Dad and Me

Today is my dad's day of birth.  I woke up this morning laying in bed thinking about how affected my life has been by this one person, my dad. 

I have very early childhood memories that make me smile when I think of my dad.  I was approximately three and I remember being so proud of being able to finally blow a bubble with gum.  I kept blowing and blowing and popping and popping prancing in front of my dad.  Look at me, Look at me!  We moved to a farmhouse shortly thereafter near a small town named Hawkeye.  It is a rural community where everyone knows your name. 

My dad had always raised rabbits and other creatures since my childhood.  I enjoyed jumping into my dad's truck, sitting next to him, and heading to town for feed.  I would run up and down the steps at the grain yard with not a care in the world.  I enjoyed following my dad around like a shadow learning how to feed rabbits, goats, chickens, geese, hogs and our one cow named Bullwinkle.  In fact, I was always so close to my dad that he was mowing one day, and told me to back away from the mower as he was about to mow in an area that was known to have bees.  Well, needless to say, I was stung by several bees that day, and also got to learn about placing mud on a sting to draw the stinger out.  I chuckle as I write this tonight thinking of what my kids would think of me if I told them to put mud on their bee sting.  LOL! 

I learned to be a hard worker by watching him work in the fields and on the farm.  My dad also bartered labor for feed with the neighbors.  There was a true sense of you reap what you sow, and that especially was taught as I watched my dad tend to the garden.  There was always plenty to do, and I'm grateful for the life lessons I learned from living on our little farm.

I eventually moved back to Waterloo around 11 years of age, or 4th grade.  I recall not being happy about this transition at all.  My world was about to be turned upside down as we left my dad behind.  Thankfully, I was reunited with my dad over the next several months or year (As a child it seemed like 100 years). 

My dad worked several jobs to provide for us.  We rarely had more than our needs, but somehow those needs were always met.  I remember starting to realize how much I missed my dad from working many hours.  He worked at a gas station and I would visit him.  He would usually chat with me for a bit and then send me on my way with a frozen pizza to feed me and my brother.  Sometimes he would even throw in a snickers candy bar.  This was a special treat! 

My dad would refinish furniture for people or to sell.  I remember walking in the garage thinking of how awful the varnish smelled, but I never complained as I sat and talked with my dad while he would work.  My dad was very patient, and was always more than willing to show me how to do whatever it was he was doing.  So, when I felt like more than talking he taught me how to strip furniture and paint.  To this day, I love to paint.  It's satisfying to see the fruits of labor almost immediately.

My dad also took me to my grandparents home frequently.  I believe that this is where my dad obtained his desire for gardening, and his patience for kids.  I am forever grateful to my dad for taking me to their home, and allowing them to be active in my life.  I got to watch and listen as my dad and grandparents talked about life.  The screened porch was the setting for this conversation, and me sitting next to my dad in the porch swing was the place for me.  Any worries that I had as a child would disappear as I was untouchable in this moment.

My dad was never critical, and rarely raised his voice.  However, I listened intently when he said "If you...  I will cut your water off!"  I never quite understood as a kid what cutting my water off was, but from the tone and look I knew it couldn't be good.  I never wanted to disappoint my dad, so that was usually good enough for me.  I will confess though that there was a time when we lived on the farm that I was reprimanded.  I was told time and time again not to bring cats into the house.  My dad never liked cats.  Well, I love cats and so I snuck them into the 2-story house and put them in one of the bedrooms upstairs.  I should also mention that I took a rabbit box and brought in a ground squirrel as I was going to "save" him.  (Um, he was already dead.)  Needless to say, this is the only time in my life that I recall being reprimanded. 

This little girl eventually grew up.  I no longer hold my daddy's hand, and the porch swing is gone as are my grandparents.  My dad has lived in Texas for 7 years.  A busy life and many miles keep us from seeing much of each other as often as I would like.  But, nothing keeps me from loving him, and I know that he loves me in return.

I've been focused on gratitude lately, and my dad is definately at the top of my list.  I am incredibly grateful for his active role in my life.  I'm grateful for the good and the bad things.  I'm grateful for his love and affection.  I thank God that he continues to be a support in my life.  It may not always look and feel the way the I would like, but I take what I can get. 

We are not promised tomorrow, so if something were to happen and I not wake, my dad will know that he is a good dad and that I love him very much!

Happy Birthday Dad!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mid-Week Thought

If you knew tomorrow were your last day here on earth, and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting? 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Finding Peace

Ryan shared with me today that he has a high school friend that has a loved one in the hospital fighting for his life.  It sounds like they are not exactly sure what happened to him.  His heart stopped beating and he is now in coma.  When Ryan told me this I felt a sickness in the pit of my stomach, and an immediate need to commence prayers.

It was only a few weeks ago that I was on my knees praying daily for my niece who was fighting for her life.  Then my thoughts fled to only a few short months ago, and how I was on my knees praying for God to grant mercy on me and my life. 

One thing I have learned in walking through the trials of my health issues is to trust that God is right there with me.  I can remember feeling emotions of fear running through my body when I was notified that something was severely wrong with my back.  Only natural when you get a phone call at work from a doctor who tells you to get to the Emergency Room immediately, and that I would probably have back surgery later that day.  I don't remember much of the car ride as I was on the phone notifying close family members and crying out loud to God for the strength to carry me through whatever I was about to learn.  (Thanks to Darla for driving me.)  I repeatedly took deep breaths and followed the doctor's orders and listened intently on his comments.  Surgery didn't happen that day.  More tests and appointments followed with surgery scheduled two weeks later.  This afforded plenty of opportunities to carry my worry, stress and fret to God.

I kept telling myself that whatever was in my back was there, surgery was inevitable, so this whole situation was completely out of my control.  If something is out of my control and I choose to focus on the "what if's", that is time wasted and exhaustion would set in.  I had established that no amount of my worry or stressing over this health issue would change anything.  The only thing I had control over was how I reacted to my daily living not knowing what the future would hold for me.  I made the decision to turn all of my worries and concerns over to God.  I had to trust that He had a plan for me.  I no longer felt the need to know the end result, and focused on living one day at a time.  I call this my daily footwork.  What is it that I needed to be doing today? 

I felt moments of fear the night before my surgery.  I remember quieting my mind by asking God to fill my mind, heart and body with His perfect love and peace for the night.   I focused on that very moment.  Where I was at, what my body felt like, and all the blessings in my life.  My relationship with God blossomed that night. I felt His presence and I slept peacefully.

I woke up calm and with an attitude of positive thinking.  I recall my mind wanting to think about my children and what would happen to them if something happened to me.  Also, concern for the fear they must be having about this day and the future.  Each time my mind would try and go there I felt a calmness, and a little voice that said, I am here with you.  Give me your worries.  Trust me! 

I tried worrying about the snow that was sputtering as we drove to Des Moines at 4AM, but that too was squashed in my mind with a voice saying, Yes, I know.  I have this worry of yours too. 

All of these things, and many more were completely out of my control.  I could have chose to worry, be angry and think negatively about everything that was happening.  However, I've found that by remaining positive, even when I don't feel like it, provides a more peaceful, happy me. 

Many of us find ourselves facing health issues, or other challenges in life that are completely out of our control. Is there something in your life that you are holding on to?  Are you allowing it to steal your serenity?  Here is a simple, but powerful prayer that I say daily:

God, I pray for your will in my life and the knowledge, courage and strength to carry that out.  Amen.

God Bless,

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Looking Straight Ahead

Something tugged on my heart to finally go through my emails from the early period of my back surgery recovery in January.  I hadn't even thought about it until last night. 

I owe an apology to those of you that had emailed me, and received no response.  The first three weeks of my recovery are quite the blur.  I have very limited memories from the two weeks in the hospital, and the first week of being home, and even after that for several weeks especially while my pain medications were jostled I have hazy memories.  It appears that I had started to communicate a bit on Facebook, but thank goodness my comments were short and sweet as from what I'm seeing they didn't make much sense most of the time.  As I sit here and write this, I question whether Ryan had made the status updates that made sense on my page on my behalf. LOL!  Well, the pain narcotics served their purpose (most of the time), and for that I'm incredibly grateful.  To those that had communicated with me with no response, I'm sorry. 

As I read through my emails last night the tears began to flow.  This journey is a daily reminder for me.  I still have moments of abnormalities.  Bending down, standing up from sitting, or sitting in uncomfortable chairs may cause random jolts of pain.  Hmm, however, as I write this I am thinking I don't remember the last time that I complained about potholes in the road.  Woo Hoo!  My can do list is by far greater than any can't do list!  Thank you Jesus!  One day at a time, and look where I'm at now. 

I will never forget the strong love and support that was provided by all of you.  Through my faith and trust in God, as well as, all of you "clogging the frequency" (taken from a friends post) to God with your prayer requests; I was granted peace, serenity, and a positive outcome of my surgery. 

I also read my devotional again for the morning of my surgery on the 7th of January.  I am continuously amazed at how God's timing is perfect in every way.  I remember reading this and thinking I can do this.  Take a look...

What are you looking at today? Not in the natural, but with your spiritual eyes. In other words, what is in the forefront of your mind and in your heart? Are you constantly dwelling on your problems or things that have happened in your past? In the natural, you will move in the direction that your eyes are looking. In the spiritual, it works the same way. Whatever you focus your mind and heart on, you will move toward. That’s why today’s verse tells us to look straight ahead. If you are constantly dwelling on your problems or things in your past, wondering “what if,” then you will stay right where you are.

I talked very little, prayed a lot, and listened to God on my way to the hospital.  I was "looking straight ahead" believing all good things for me and my recovery.  I didn't play any "what if" games with God.  Nope, not even focused on the problem in my back.  I shared with Him that I trusted that His will would be done in my life.  I felt at peace knowing that there is a reason for everything.  I also knew that I had no control over what was about to happen in my life for the next several days, so I wasn't about to expend my energy in that arena either.

Today, I am still focusing my mind and heart on all the positive things in my life. Yes, I do continue with pains from my back surgery, but I choose not to focus on them.  I allow my body to feel the pain, and then I move on.  I acknowledge the pain, but I never dwell on it.  That is how I live my life too.  I have a relationship in my life that is causing me pain, so I do what I can to be the best person I can be and then I let the results be in God's hands.  I never dwell on it.  I found an item in my inbox from this person last night, and it was a treasure to find.  I don't know if this is why I was lead to read through my emails, but this action sure has given me a gift. 

My hope is that by my writing this blog, you will "look straight ahead" and find the gifts in your life.  I challenge you to focus on what is in your mind and heart.  Ask God to direct your heart on the path of life that He has in store for you.

God Bless,

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Daily Gratitude

Today, there is a celebration in honor of my niece, Isabel, who has recently recovered from an incident of choking on a grape, a 34 day hospital stay, fighting for her life and coming out the other side with no long-term effects.  The doctors and nurses call her a miracle child.  Her story is amazing, and I am incredibily grateful for God's mercy and grace. 

This past year has forced me to stop and ponder the need to slow down and enjoy family and friends.  I can easily find myself very busy, and I tend to push aside the important things in my life.  I do this unconsciously as I go through the motions of life. 

I was afforded several blessings through Isabel's incident.  One of them was spending one on one time with my dad.  My dad had travelled back to Iowa from Texas and asked that I go with him to visit family in our hometown, Waterloo.  I initially said no, I have to work.  However, I believe that God places things heavy on my heart to get me to go where His will is for my life.  Needless to say, I woke up the next morning and told my dad that I would like to join him on his travels for the day, if the invite were still there.  Just my dad and I, and off we go. 

It had been years since I spent any time alone with my dad.  This trip allowed us time to enjoy each other's company and to catch up on life.  I miss my dad greatly, and to have this special time was very meaningful to me. I almost missed this opportunity because I almost thought work was more important.

We arrived in Waterloo at my Aunt Janice's home where we stopped for a bit while my dad and her caught up.  It was getting close to lunch, and Janice had made surprise plans with my great aunt Grace to have her birthday lunch.  The surprise being my dad and I attending this lunch.  We jumped into Janice's vehicle and off we were to pick up Grace.  We arrived at Grace's assisted living apartment.  Grace is legally blind, but can see outlines of people.  Janice walked in and said she had visitors. I spoke to her and gave her a clue as to who I was, and my dad spoke.  Yep, she was surprised and elated!  I hadn't seen Grace since my grandmother passed away three years ago.

We told her that we had arrived to celebrate her birthday with her.  She loves Culver's which is not that far from her home, so off we went.  I sat in the booth basking in the sun as I listened ever so carefully to the words Grace spoke.  She reminded me so much of my grandmother.  Since the day my grandma passed away I have been grieving the loss.  The opportunity to spend the afternoon with her sister was exactly what my heart needed to heal.  The joy of spending time with Grace, Janice and my dad was so much that I started to cry right there in Culver's.  These tears were of joy and sadness.  Joy that I didn't go to work and miss this opportunity.  Joy that Grace were still alive for me to sit in her presence and allow God to heal my heart that was grieving immensely as the anniversary of my grandmother's passing was ever so near.  Sad that my family is scattered and these types of gatherings don't happen more frequently.  I didn't focus too long on the sad as I knew that I was right where I was suppose to be, and that God wouldn't want me to waste any effort on the "what if's" in life, but rather enjoy the moment I was in.  I was truly in awe of how God had worked in my life for this moment to happen.

We later visited the location where a bench was placed in memory of my grandma and grandpa.  I didn't know this existed, and it was a beautiful day to sit and enjoy memories of grandma and grandpa.  My grandpa loved to fish, and there was a red bobber laying next to a lilly pad right in front of the bench where I was sitting. This day is a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life!  A true blessing!  And to think, I almost went to work!

In my quest to slow down, I try to focus on all of the blessings around me.  These blessings may come in the form of a person, hummingbird, sunset, rainbow, rain, kind word, hug, card or flowers.  My list can go on, but it is the act of focusing on where I am at for that moment, and making a gratitude list. 

I challenge you to make a gratitude list.  If you are struggling with finding something to be grateful for do as I did years ago and start with the alphabet.  A was for Austin, B was for Breanna, C was for Clarissa, D was for Ding Dongs (No, not people. The hostess treat kind), E was for Elephant ears (the kind found at the Iowa State Fair), etc.  As you can see I've always been incredibly grateful for my children and food.  My list has evolved immensely over the years as my relationship with God has grown.  I encourage you to make a list that you can reflect upon in later years.  Go ahead, just open your heart and mind, and start writing.

I'm off to prepare for Isabel's celebration.  I wish you a beautiful day full of God's wonder and amazement!

God Bless,

Physical Therapy Graduation, Wahoo!

There I was planking on an exercise ball in the middle of physical therapy when I heard the question and then statement, “Do you think you are ready to graduate physical therapy?  Yeah, you’re graduating physical therapy!”  Yes!  Wait, What?  Graduating?  I have to keep speaking these words because I still can’t believe it.  This was my next major hurdle in my recovery and now I am on the other side of it.  WAHOO!  (Insert in your mind me dancing a little jig) 
I had been going to physical therapy once a week the past 5 weeks.  It may not seem like much, but it was a blessing to have Paul pounding in my head, “you’re not going to break anything, and you can do it”.  The massages on my back were also priceless.  I had been trying to push my recovery, and I over did it about a month ago when I lightly jogged two miles and walked two.  Since then I’ve had a bit of fear and frustration, so exercising has been cumbersome.  However, Paul continued to encourage me and I’m back.  I feel confident that I have what it takes to continue to move forward in my recovery.  I have been released to do weight training, and he showed me some aerobic moves that do not compromise my spinal column.  He suggested that I continue my core strength training.  The same training that I had been doing which was helpful in my ability to maintain my lifestyle prior to surgery. 

Now ready to graduate?  I recall my first session of physical therapy.  I literally was hunched over unable to stand upright. I shuffled myself into the building having to walk past the physical therapy office having feelings of frustration for having to walk an additional 20’ to the business office only to turn around and go back to the therapy room.  I started to sit down which was quite the chore when Paul arrived and introduced himself and said let’s go back to our meet and greet room.  I looked up and this room appeared to be a mile away.  Instantly, I’m thinking I can’t walk that far.  Meanwile, Paul had taken off for the room, Ryan had grabbed my hand and purse, and somehow I did manage the journey.  After we shared my story, measurements were taken.  I could NOT even touch my knees, and I was too afraid to bend from side to side so I only bent an inch or so. 
I’ve been climbing the road to recovery, and it feels great!  I’ve not had to take any pain medications for months, I’ve gone back to work full-time, I can get in and out of bed, I am able to touch the floor, and I’m even able to do all of my household chores (shh, don’t tell as I haven’t admitted to Ryan yet that I have been released to vacuum).  This is spectacular considering just a few months ago I questioned whether I would ever be capable of getting out of bed, showers and potty time were a nightmare, and my hair looked like a birds nest as the act of combing my hair was impossible!

There isn’t a ceremony to commemorate the graduation, but I will never forget this day!
I can see God’s grace, mercy and many blessings that have blossomed from this journey.  I have learned a lot along the way.  Trust, faith and communication with God were my everyday lifelines along with the wonderful support of my family and friends.

Thank you for your continued love and support!

God Bless,

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hurt people, hurt people.

Hurt causes people to become bitter, resentful, vengeful, angry.  This hurt may be formed by abuse, divorce, neglect, betrayal.  Hurt has no boundaries and can sneak in at anytime.  This hurt can begin in childhood and continue throughout your adult years if left untreated.  Hurt can cause behavior that is not healthy, and hurt those closest to us. We not only push people away who care, but we treat them very harsh, even to the point where we ruin relationships because of our behavior and attitude.  As long as we continue to hurt and not seek healthy actions to change the hurt we will have wounded relationships with family, friends, in our marriage, with neighbors, or co-workers.

I am responsible for my own well-being, and if I am hurting it is important to seek recovery and begin to make positive, healthy changes so that I do not continue to hurt others.

Dealing with hurt can be painful and scary.  The hurt didn't begin overnight, so it will not disappear in one day.  However, taking positive actions one step at a time instead of continuing the negative actions will eventually result in less hurt.  Dealing with hurt can be difficult, but you don't have to do it alone.  This quest requires seeking help.  God already knows that you are suffering, and is waiting for you to ask for help to overcome this hurt.  Be faithful, and trust that as you open your heart and mind to him, you will begin to see change.  Little by little you will stop spreading your pain as you begin to be filled with peace and serenity.  You begin to let these hurts no longer control your thoughts and attitude.

I have hurt others in the past intentionally, and not intentionally.  Today, I never hurt people intentionally.  Even though it is not intentional I am sure that I have hurt people.  I find that when I am focused on what others are doing or not doing this is when I am most vulnerable to hurt.  Today, I know that I can choose to focus on me and what I am doing.  I try to keep my thoughts and actions positive, and I have set healthy boundaries to help me not continue to get hurt.  Notice I said "healthy" boundaries?  Early in my recovery I recall setting a boundary, but I later discovered that this boundary was established only to be hurtful.  I have to constantly look at my actions and behaviors and truthfully seek my motivations.  Am I being kind, loving and respectful to everyone around me?  If that answer is yes, I find less hurt and I can peacefully lay my head down at night.

If you are dealing with hurt I want to encourage you to take healthy actions to begin your healing process.  If you take positive actions, you will have positive results.  It will not be easy especially for those of you that have been dealing with hurts from your childhood, or for long periods of time.  However, you don't have to do this alone and I guarantee you that it will be worth the journey.  You will begin to experience healed relationships, and you can go to bed at night thanking God for the peace and serenity in your head and in your life.

There is so much hurt in this world.  Are my actions going to be kind, loving and respectful today, or do I choose to continue to be hurtful?

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change (other people),
courage to change the things I can (me),
and the wisdom to know the difference (seeking God).

God Bless,

Friday, July 1, 2011

Laughter... It does a body good. Pass it on!

It's Summer and all three of our kids had friends over last week.  I am enjoying my evening watching the kids interact with each other.  The kids are outdoor children, so I grab a chair and a smile as I sit on the driveway and watch several of them play basketball, Clarissa pitching her softball, and there is sidewalk chalk being colored on the drive.  There is a lot of activity tonight.  I decide that we should all load up in the car and get some ice cream.  It took one mention and we had Ryan's car packed with Clarissa and her friends, Austin took Bre and their friends and off we went.  The laughter continued at Dairy Queen as we sat on the bench, and watched Austin in full action with his comedy tonight.  He is such a hoot!  There are loud laughs, silly laughs, snorts... well, let's say there was a lot of noise.  We finish our ice cream and head for home.  We have a vehicle full of 9 year olds, so the whole way home the loud noises continue from the back seats.  We pull into the driveway and I ask Ryan to stop.  He looks at me, and I say ok, girls you can get out.  They jump out and off they are running around again.  I turn to Ryan and say, Do you hear that?  He says, No.  I say, exactly it's called silence.  We both chuckle.  I say, I know there will come a day when I long for the sound of our children and their friends, but for now just give me a moment.  We both smile.  I jump out as I see Austin and Breanna arrive home with their friends.  Ryan begins playing basketball with the kids, and I am on the sidelines watching and feeling my heart swell with another cherished moment.

It's Wednesday night, and I hear the sound of children talking, laughing and giggling.  For a split second I think about shutting it down as it is late, and I am in bed.  However, after my recent exposure to incidents involving children I decide that I will lay back and enjoy the sounds.  I am incredibly grateful that I can hear my children, and soon the muffled noises become soothing.  One child arrives in another child's room.  They are creating new hairstyles, drawing beautiful pictures, organizing their space and laying back on the bed talking of their hopes and dreams for tomorrow.  Soon, I fall asleep when I get a gentle tap on my shoulder and a little voice that whispers, will you please tuck me in.  I peek one eye, smile and say, of course I will.  I get up to tuck Clarissa into bed.  On my way back to my room I see that Austin has already fizzled out, and Bre's lights are now out too.  I am aware that my heart is full of joy!

I've always considered myself fortunate to be a mother of three beautiful and healthy children. I know I'm not a perfect parent, and I know I've made mistakes, but I do the best that I can at the time.  My eyes have truly been opened to see the precious gifts around me each and every day.  My children are a gift to me from God.  As my children grow older I sometimes question my qualifications at being their Mother, but I find that if I turn toward God and ask for His guidance He is always there.

I know the reality that any of us could be called to Heaven at any given moment, but I think prior to this past year I've always felt the odds of this happening before the age of 90 were slim. (Insert wink.) As I walked through my journey and watched others walk through their journeys this past year, I acknowledge that none of us know when our time here on earth will expire and the blessing of Heaven will begin.  With this in mind, I want to be sure to make wonderful family memories, tell those close to me that I love them, share plenty of hugs and smiles and laugh along the way.

Much gratitude,

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Rainbows through Clouds

I didn't get to sleep until after 1:30AM last night as my heart was very heavy with the thought of Megan leaving earth and going to be with Jesus.  Megan is a young lady that arrived in ICU two days after my niece had arrived.  At 18 years of age and a recent graduate, Megan was fighting for her life against a serious illness.  Her family was inspirational, and shared their journey as we watched them walk by faith through their journal on Caringbridge. 

For the past month, I've been going to bed every night and waking in the morning reading her journal and praying for her and her family.  Megan has been on my prayer list right along side my niece who is now preparing to go home on Friday.  Last night as I read her dad's journal my heart sank.  I started drafting words of comfort and strength.  I had writer's block.  My mind was racing.  I prayed and prayed.  Finally,  there they were... simple but from my heart. 

I learned this morning that at 1:37AM Megan's father posted that indeed Megan has left us to be with our Heavenly Father.  I laid on my bed and cried.  How painful for her family.  As a mother of three my heart ached.  I can't even begin to understand what it would be like to watch your child walk this journey.  It was hard enough for me to watch my niece, brother and sister in law walk their journey, and I ooze with gratitude at Isabel's outcome. 

I am grateful for the promise of Heaven, and eternal life.  What a delight that Heaven is the blessing not our lives here on earth.  I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that each of us has a purpose here on earth. 

As I look at my life and all that has happened in the past years I can see many blessings in the trials and tribulations.  This is only what I can see from my eyes.  How exciting to think of what is happening around me that I can't see or don't even know about as a direct result of my journeys.  Am I fulfilling my purpose here on earth?  I pray for God's will, and the strength, courage and wisdom to carry it out.  I enjoy my time with God.  My conversations have evolved over time, and I continue to grow in His presence. 

Today I try to see the rainbows through the storm clouds. 

"When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us."

With gratitude,

Monday, June 27, 2011

It's Double Punch Monday!

No, I'm not talking violence.  Coldstone Creamery has double punch Mondays!  I really enjoy the ice cream (maybe it's more about the mixins), and I have a family that enjoys it as well.  It would be helpful to my waistline if I were the only one that liked it, so I could say I want Coldstone and the family would say No, it's not good.  For a split second I'd consider it anyway, but truly would then walk away.  Instead it goes a little something like this.  Me:  Hey, let's go to Coldstone.  Family:  Sounds GREAT! 

For me, it's like anything else that tastes super delicious.  It tastes so good going down, and then a few minutes or hours later you start to question why you ate it.  I was plenty full before we made the decision to grace the front door of Coldstone.  Oh well, I did it, and I guarantee I will do it again.  How could I walk away from double punch Mondays? 

The ice cream was a nice follow up to the fish fry from the freshly caught bluegills by Ryan.  He has been successful the past two trips.  There's something about the taste of fresh fish caught by my hubby, breaded with shore lunch and fried by me.  Yummy! 

"Sweet" Dreams!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Walk

After a lengthy argument in my head on whether I should bother with a walk today (you know it could rain), the better portion of my brain won, on went the tennis shoes and out the door I went.  I compromised by telling myself that I should only do a 1 mile walk because if I went any further I may get drenched.  Yes, I know I'm not sugar.  Although I tried talking myself out of it I'm so glad that I went.  Have you ever taken an action, and your mind followed?  It was the perfect temperature for a stroll, and it was just what I needed. 

I enjoy the peace and quiet of the outdoors, as well as, I've come to find myself intrigued by the flower garden of the neighbor down the street.  It seems like she is constantly adding or moving flowers or decorations in her yard.  It is beautiful, and reminds me a lot of my grandma and grandpa.  We also have a pond in our neighborhood that is the home to several flocks of geese.  They've had babies in the past couple of months that are adorable with their half-grown feathers.  As I'm dodging the land mines left on the bike path along this pond, Daddy gives me the eye to imply that I had better not come any closer.  I look away as if I don't want to start any trouble, and I continue walking as quickly as possible on down the way.  This reminds me of a story of when I lived on a farm.

My brother was a young little guy barely able to walk when we lived on a farm.  He enjoyed helping our dad feed the animals.  We had chickens, rabbits, geese, sheep, quail, hogs and one cow.  My brother at this young age didn't understand that we were to get the chicken eggs out of the coup not the geese eggs.  Needless to say, I still vividly recall him holding a goose egg in his hands while attempting to take it to my dad when momma or daddy goose grabbed a hold of his diaper and started hissing and snapping at his little bottom.  My frightened brother took off for the entry out of the fence, and shortly thereafter he was rescued from our dad.  I can't recall if he learned his lesson, but I know this memory has always stuck with me and I don't mess with geese even to this day.

My walk continued with focusing on the Oriole birds, green grass and flowers.  By the time I arrived home the sun had started to peek and it was looking to be a beautiful day.  I'm grateful that I didn't talk myself out of going for this walk.  As I sit here and write this post I think about all of the fun and loving family memories this one walk brought to me.  I also think about all of the reasons I can find to not do something if I truly don't want to do it.  Not enough time, no energy, not feeling well, it's raining has been a good excuse lately.  However, if I take the positive action in my life my mind follows, and I feel so much better. 

Much gratitude,

Welcome to the Incouragement Room!

Here I go!  I've decided to start a blog site to share my thoughts, and somewhere along the way I am hopeful that there will be words of encouragement.

The past year has been a journey, and through this my faith and relationship with God has grown immensely.  I am no longer afraid to pray for God's will as I truly believe that I have a purpose, and as long as I'm living this purpose it is in my best interest.  I've learned to not only pray to God unceasingly for other people, but to also listen to what God wants me to hear.  In my quest to follow God's will for my life I need to write.  I've choosen to begin this new journey in my life by writing in my blog.

I have several ideas to blog about, but I also believe that living life on life's terms is surely going to provide me with numerous topics.  My life is full of happiness and serenity, but I've also learned over the past several years that no matter how hard I try to maintain this lifestyle there will always be ups and downs.  I know that it's not what happens to me, but rather how I react to it.  Say what?  

I hope that you will join me in my journey, and that you will gain encouragement at some point during your stay.

Thank you for stopping by, and I hope to see you again soon!