Thursday, September 30, 2010

my TOMS........

It's so funny how 95% of the time I have no idea what I am going to blog about when I sit down to actually do it. Today was one of those days. I had just sat down at my laptop and Dustin asked me if I had opened my "package"...oh - I forgot!! While I was in Texas Kiersten Holley, my "adopted" daughter..(okay, not officially) sent me a gift. As I opened it I started to squeal!!! She had sent me a pair of TOMS shoes!!! My first thought was that I have Really little feet...LOL! But then I just kept saying that I couldn't believe that I now owned a pair of TOMS!!

I first heard about TOMS at a leadership conference that I attended. Blake Mycoskie was one of the speakers and told the story of how he began TOMS.

 In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS Shoes, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. One for One. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers.

As of September 2010, TOMS has given over one million pairs of new shoes to children in need through giving partners around the world.

I thought, well, what if you had a situation where you could create a business instead of a charity? Where for every pair of shoes you sold you gave one away. That way, you had something you could continue and sustain. I was really into this idea of sustainability ... that way when the kids' feet grew or the shoe wore out, it would become our way to continue to give them new ones, as well as allow our customers to continue to participate in the movement. So instead of a charity, I started a business encompassing a one-for- one model where you buy a pair and we give a pair. Very simple. Totally transparent.

His whole story was incredible. For me the main thing was that he was so young. He is in his mid 30's and has already started several businesses. But his heart as always been in doing for others. I LOVE THAT!! I kept listening to him and thinking that I wanted that for my kids. I want them to believe that they have the capability to do whatever they want with their lives....I don't ever want them to limit themselves.

One of the other things that I thought was amazing was his humility. He doesn't do this so that he can lift himself up - he does it for the kids. His company doesn't even advertise. It is all done by word of mouth. How cool is that? One of the funniest stories that he shared was one day he was in an airport at a kiosk checking in for his flight. When he looked down at the girl next to him he saw that she was wearing a pair of TOMS. He said it was so weird because this was the first time he had seen anyone besides his family and friends wearing them.... So casually he commented to the lady that he liked her shoes. He said she grabbed him by the shoulders and said...."you don't understand about these shoes...." and then he said she began to tell me my whole life story better than my mom could have done...LOL!!!

This whole thing is contagious...I believe the core of this phenomenon is that people are created to give. Our world has morphed into such a selfish place that when an opportunity comes along to do something for others it is like being able to take a deep breath. So you combine the average person's desire for "fashion" and put it with a chance to do something for others it only makes sense. So when you wear TOMS you have a sort of banner that says "I CARE ABOUT PEOPLE!" It is a good feeling that hopefully spurs you on to look for other ways to do good in the world.

So today I plan on wearing my TOMS and smiling alot! Not just because they are cute but that they were a gift from a Very Very dear friend. I LOVE that she knows me so well that she would know that a gift like this would mean so much to me. It is not only about me enjoying my new pair of shoes but that a child somewhere else will be getting one as well. What a beautiful feeling!!!....sigh....

Today I dream for you a chance to find your inner Blake Mycoskie.....WOW - that is a big dream huh?? I always tell people that when I write the I dream for you part... it is always for me as well as you guys....So sometimes I overwhelm myself...LOL!! So today let's try to think about how we can make a difference in our world. As a parent the best way to start is to raise your children to be aware of others...Raise them to be outwardly focused. The more your family serves others with pure and giving hearts the more joyful all of you will be and the world will be blessed because of it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Glory to God.....

this was in the door of one of the homes
I was photographing
for a builder
 This week as I was visiting my sister's church in Texas our Sunday School lesson was about the word Glory and what it meant to us. Several people threw out words like bright, praise, honor, adoration and my favorite from my niece....with eyes turned upwards and hands up stretched she sings....AHHHHHH!!!..... And then some talked about how Moses asked God to show him His Glory. The teacher talked about how for many years this term had always caused him some confusion and I would have to agree it is a hard concept to wrap your head around. That afternoon I decided to look up the definition and this is a partial list of what I found....

***glo·ry   –   noun

1. very great praise, honor, or distinction bestowed by common consent; renown: to win glory on the field of battle.

2. something that is a source of honor, fame, or admiration; a distinguished ornament or an object of pride: a sonnet that is one of the glories of English poetry.

3. adoring praise or worshipful thanksgiving: Give glory to god.
As I had sat there and listened a conversation entered my head that I have had with my children since they were very young. I have always asked them a question when we were visiting somewhere or they were spending the night at someone else's home...(mainly Grandma and Granpa's)...As we arrived at our destination and they were getting out of the car I would stop them and say..."so, what is your purpose in life??...." and they would quickly respond..."to make you look good...." It has always been said in somewhat of a humorous tone and yet deep down through the years they have realized the true meaning behind my words. In fact if you were to ask either of my children today at ages 18 and 15 the same question they would answer the same way without missing a beat..LOL..
The more we discussed what it means to give glory to God I just kept coming back to this vision in my head. For me there is no greater blessing in being a parent than to be given the opportunity to use that relationship to understand His love for us. Parenting my children gives me a small glimpse into the kind of life that he desires for us...I relate to Him when my children are hurt or sick...when they are disobedient.....angry with me...when I see them thankful for things I do for them or gifts that I give my heart swells when they are using their gifts and talents....or when they are serving others....So many times throughout my life I have watched my children's actions and wonder how I have mimicked those in my relationship to God...the good ones as well as the bad. I have taught my children that their actions are a direct reflection on the parenting that I have given them. They know that when I say those words that in reality I am saying..."what have I taught you?.... now do it..." That means use your manners, be respectful and be helpful and kind.

But as it seems that I am saying it is ultimately about me in reality that is not the case. My ultimate desire is that their life is a strong fulfilled life. While they are young I am their main example. I always picture a momma duck with all of her babies following neatly in a row behind her. She is leading them by example how to live and survive in this world.

So throughout the class I tried to figure out how this related to the topic of glory. I told God that I don't do the things that I do for my kids because I want their praise and adoration....and then I felt Him reply to me...."Do you think that I do?....", I don't think that is why He does it but He does deserve it.....I began to think about the way I am thankful to Him for the gifts that He gives....for the life that He has blessed me with...for the World He created for me....I give Him adoration and praise for who He is and His position in my life. I give Him glory because He is worthy of glory. As a parent my desire is to be worthy of my children's adoration and praise. I don't want them to do what is right out of fear of me...I want it to come from a place of a desire to do what is right. I want them to want to make me proud while in the meantime learn the satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from doing those actions.

God is not physically here on Earth but what the world sees is Him living through us - so how do we allow Him to do that? Do we make Him proud? Just like with our kids - sometimes Yes and sometimes No...but it doesn't change His Love for us and His desire to continue to teach and direct us.

Today I dream for you the chance to give Him Glory today - not for what He has done for you but for who He is to you...If you find it difficult may I suggest that you take a look at His placement in your life...Is He seated in the position that He deserves??? If you can't find it within yourself to give Him adoration or praise than I challenge you to look within your life to see if you are following His lead???

Have a Glorious Day my friends......

Monday, September 27, 2010

take time to remember........

I love remembering....

This week I am in Texas...surrounded by my former life. Surrounded by people and landscapes and momentos that can whisk me back to my 20 years of living in this state. On Friday I joined one of my very best friends at my high school for homecoming. As we walked down the halls I could literally tell you stories about things that happened with every step we took. Mrs. McCormick's room and Alex sticking his paperclip in the outlet during class and the room lighting up. Coach Wallace screaming at poor Lori the second day of History class when she came to class without her book. My locker was # 58  and some not so great memories at that locker  that got me thrown into detention...(long story) Performing my poem with Bobby in front of the class in Mrs. Satterwhite's English class and how he wanted to rip me apart because I wasn't up on my Scottish when pointed to him when it said  Lassie (I was thinking Laddie...) and how I can't believe he is gone from our lives so soon... The Library...oh - the memories there! Doing my research paper on identical twins my Senior year - Suzy and I getting all the information we needed to pass Government...LOL...(love that Mrs. Shannon)...Mr. Holt's Science room... January 28, 1986 - watching the Space Shuttle Challenger diasaster with the rest of the world....And then there was the band hall....Gina and I walked in there and the memories are everywhere. Band was always my favorite thing about school....I played French Horn / Frumpet (yes with a F)...flag corps...and I was Drum Major my Senior year... My Junior year we made it to State and ended up with 6th place. Mrs. Holt was the best!! We had so much fun on that trip!!.... But I look around the band hall and remember things like Suzy, Jill and I eating poptarts in the practice rooms...getting fitted for the brand new uniforms...being in 5th grade and I was the only one who memorized Aura Lee and getting 110 and Mr. Lee took me to the teacher's lounge to get a Coke from the machine....And of course we remembered during our Senior year the band director was horrible - we were so mad that he had Ruined our band! We were his first class after graduating. At one point during a football game he got so mad at us he threw his keys to me, Gina and Suzy and said..."you think you can do better with this band than it's all yours!!!" and then he left....LOL...So after the game we took everyone back to the school and opened it up and put all the instruments away then had to lock up....But later Mr. Lock came to Gina's house and asked if she had Mr. B's keys and said she had to give them back because his house keys were on it...On Friday between the Pep Ralley and the game we had the Junior dinner in the cafeteria and the old gym and of course once again we sat there blurting out things that we remembered... Our school having the most AMAZING food - the smell of homeade rolls when you were crossing the sidewalk from the Elemetary building and of course the gravey....oh my!!!!...the square pizza...the homeade tamales....We were spoiled with our Lunch Ladies...But then we had to question the whole half a pear with mayo in the middle and shredded cheese on top....LOL!!

Okay - did I lie???  I could tell stories about the whole school - actually the whole town - and beyond...My head is reeling right now with memories...Sometimes when I come home I just get overwhelmed because that is what my head does the whole time. Everywhere I look there is a flashback to some point in my life... Most of them are good memories but some of them are't so wonderful...We all have those parts of our lives that we would like to forget....There have been several of those while I was here...Moments when I am caught off guard and it's like I was kicked in the gutt and I try to shake my head to get rid of the visions. Many are made up of actions from other people that break my heart for that young girl but there are my fare share of things that I did that I would like to erase from my mind as well...

I often wish that I would have had someone to help me during those years. To talk me through all the junk that gets thrown at you during your teen years. I had good friends but we were in it together - it was like pulling each other down while we were drowning. Now having kids of my own it breaks my heart when I see others saying mean, vicious things to young kids and they don't have any idea that they are literally scaring them for years to come...Words are very powerful!! As a mom I feel like I am in a constant game of ping kids walk out the door and get hurt and they come back home and I build them back up again only to send them out and have it happen all over again....Many mornings I have closed the door as my kids leave for school and I fall into a heap of tears because I know that their day is going to be filled with "cruel kids"...And yet as I was walking the halls the other day I had a thought...Yes, that stuff happens - all the time - but the one thing that I didn't have when I was a kid was the positive side at home. It was all one sided. So now that I watch my kids I think back...What if, even though I was hearing negative junk all the time, I was also being told daily how those people were wrong...What if I had someone constantly telling me that I was beautiful, talented, smart - every single day....I began to think about the stuff that I did endure throughout my years of growing up. Possibly the one positive thing that came from all that hurt is that it made me stronger - especially as a parent. When Rob is trying to convince me that things are going to be okay when I am in a pit I tell him that he has to be Louder than the negative noise in my head....That's my job as a mom... I have to make sure that My words of encouragement and truth are louder than the words that the world is throwing at my kids.....My prayer is that during these formative years my words become their words of truth.....

I think there is much to be learned from our pasts....I know sometimes it may seem easier to hide the bad stuff away but sadly when you do that you inadvertantly remove the good stuff too. Facing some of the hard memories this week haven't been all that fun but I would do it again and again...because I know that all of this life mixed together have made me who I am.....

Today I dream for you my friend the ability to look at your past....what can you learn from it? Be thankful for what it has taught you....and maybe you would say that you aren't happy with where you are - your past is a great place to start getting the answers as to why....What answers does your past hold and what can it teach you to make your future better???.... Take a little time to remember.......

Thursday, September 23, 2010

being an aunt.....

Lexie and Max <3

McKenna doing her "homework" <3
Yesterday my niece Amy and I had a nice visit. We talked about the fact that while she and my other nieces an nephews around her age were growing up I really never felt like an Aunt. I am not that much older than them so I always felt like more of the big sister. Once I did get older I got married and then MY life began so I sort of missed out on chunks of their lives. When I moved to Wisconsin I attempted to stay close...I tried to send gifts for bithdays and stuff. But if you are my friend on Facebook you will know that I have a Post Office Phobia that I am still working through...LOL... I do remember one particular birthday while I worked at a clothing place called Bostwicks....Amy's birthday was coming up and I kept seeing all these adorable clothes that I was sure she would look amazing in. Finally after changing my mind umpteen times I decided on an outfit, boxed it up and sent it on it's way. It's funny because even after all these years the thought of this makes me want to cringe....LOL...I have wanted to bring it up so many times but I didn't know if I was strong enough to handle what their response was....I always think to myself....Linda, what they heck were you thinking??????...I sent Amy this one piece black full body unitard thing...and surely something else with it but the unitard thingy the main  cause of my anxiety....Honestly Linda???? A Unitard??? I don't know - maybe I was thinking about her love for gymnastics and she would appreciate spandex...I remember the day they arrived at the store, I was helping stage the doors of the dressing rooms. I pulled them out and wondered who in the heck could ever fit into something like that and I remember thinking - Amy!! And then I hung it on a hanger and probably put a sweater around the neck of it - 80's style...When I was looking for a gift my mind just kept coming back to that stupid unitard and in a week moment I caved and that is the gift my teenage niece received...I'm sure after this post we will laugh about it - maybe they won't even remember it....but sadly I have a pretty good feeling that they will.

Well now that the first wave of nieces and nephews are grown and have children of their own I feel like I can finally be an Aunt. But as the before mentioned Post Office Phobia is in full effect I find I do most of my Aunting in person. Which has been great since I have been to Texas so much lately and the fact that I have had multiple visits from them this last year. But not so good those  neices and nephews that don't live in the direct vacinity of my visits....Okay - that is the guilt part - I wish I could be involved and active in all their lives....I truly do!!!! They are all part of me...part of my past...part of who I am....sigh....

But yesterday was good for me in the Aunt department. When it was time to pick Amy's girls up from school I was excited to surprise them. McKenna is 8 and Lexie is 6. (not 7&5 like I posted first - but was corrected by Aunt Debbie - it's a good thing she is here to take care of things while I'm away....whew...) They both share Sept. 11th birtdays and are just as sweet as can be. Carla and I stood outside Lexie's classroom and McKenna and Amy were walking toward us (Amy had taken 2 of their 13 puppies for show and tell - mix of Boxer, Lab and St. Bernard - CUTE) She had her head down and I stepped in front of her and bent down - she SQUEALED and wrapped her arms around my neck..."Aunt Linda - what are you doing here???" Priceless!! Then as Lexie was walking out of her room she looked right at me and held up a tote bag with the name MAX on the side. (Max is a stuffed animal that they get to take turns bringing home)..."Aunt Linda - I get to bring Max Home!!!!!!" and then she gave me a Big hug. I guess it does make me feel good that even though I live in Wisconsin I am around them enough that it is not uncommon to see me. As we left the school I was holding her hand and she looked up and told me..."it's a Great Day!! - I have Max AND Aunt Linda!!" And people would wonder why I would drop things and fly to Texas in a minute...I need this stuff - My cup is filling with every hug!!!!!  Later that evening the girls and I cuddled on the couch to watch Alvin and the Chipmunks - the Squeakwell....McKenna started giving me a massage (which I am not kidding when I say she is REALLY good at and will do it for a LONG time...heaven) and then Lexie came out with the Hair supplies - which is her specialty. So as I lay on the couch getting my massage Lexie is putting tiny ponytails all over my head. I think I ended up with 13 she said. She kept explaining  of all the wonderful braids and things she could do if only my hair wasn't so short...LOL....Next McKenna came out with her tea cart. She had cut of apple slices (no pealings) laid out on a nice plate with chocolate sauce drizzled over them and another small glass bowl for dipping. And then a coffee cup of water...So we all shared our apples and watched the rest of our movie..

What a wonderful day.....(well wonderful until I slipped down 17 wooden steps before bed...OUCH!! That was quite a show though. I am very fortuanate that I wasn't hurt worse than some bruises and a sore body. I am not quite as young as a used to be...LOL!) But it was a wonderful day - even with that - I am laying in bed at my sister Carla's day soon I will blog about my sisters...I have wanted to for so long but I want to do it right...I want you all to know what a blessing they are in my life...But right now I just want to savor moment by moment...I have the ability to get overwhelmed but I don't want to do that. I want to enjoy and savor this week and all the joys it will bring....

Today I dream for you a cup filler....if you don't understand that concept read my previous blog on this...

But find a way to be filled so that you can have the energy to give and serve and not be overwhelmed...

Have a full day my friend!!!

 So I feel like I missed out on all the joys of being an "aunt".

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I love traveling......

I love traveling – in particular flying but honestly I love all kinds of travel….
The planning, the excitement, going to the airport, waiting for my flight, meeting new people…sigh
I was 17 years old the first time I was ever on an airplane. My sister Diane lived in Indiana and over the summer she got me a flight from Texas to visit her for a few weeks. I will never forget the fun we had on that trip…. Riding quad runners, hanging out at the pool but mainly our trip to DisneyWorld. I have so many memories of the drive to Florida and back. Mainly the insane amount of times we listened to her Elton John Cassette and then on our way home trying to find Rob in Florida….yep – she is a good sister!! Rob was in Florida at the same time at a base doing some training. She agreed to hunt down his base with me – knowing I would never get to see him but just to see where he was. Well after almost 2 hours of being in the middle of nowhere in the pitch dark we were back on our way - never even catching a glimpse of the base…LOL…
Disneyworld was wonderful! We had so much fun and it was such an amazing bonding time for the 2 of us. I still think about how generous it was for Diane to want to do that for me considering our tumultuous growing up years. Diane and I share the same Father but different Moms so she didn’t live with us full time. The big blow that I recall was while Diane was living with us when I was probably in 4th or 5th grade. I remember sharing a room with bunk beds – I have great memories of listening to Diane’s 8 track tapes, watching her do her shorthand homework and her taking me and my friends roller skating in Lubbock. But I don’t think her memories are probably as sweet. Now looking back on it I am sure she got the short end of the stick. She was older and more was expected of her and I was “the baby”. My “job” was to make everyone laugh and keep harmony. Well I don’t think my presence was always so harmonious to my teenage big sister. I think the term that she used to describe me was…Brat! And although I don’t remember specifics I won’t deny that her reasons were probably valid. I can picture her last day completely clear. I remember Momma and Daddy standing in our room and the 3 of them arguing (very loudly) while Diane filled a large black garbage bag with all of her belongings. I don’t know where I was during this, except that I was in the room somewhere watching the whole thing, knowing full well that I was the reason she was leaving. That impacted me greatly. I love my sister dearly and the fact that I missed out on time with her has always made me sad. So the trip to see her was very healing for both of us I believe. Since that time we both have our own families and we have visited her and she has visited me. Not nearly as much as I would like but I do hope that she realizes how special she is to me.
Today I find myself sitting in an airport headed Home…I am going back to Texas for Homecoming. I have been the last 2 years and really hadn’t planned on going this time until last Wednesday. This year Ropes is having “Back to your Roots.”  It is a chance for all students from all years to get together….it is going to be crazy I’m sure….My older brothers – Gary and Neil – will both be coming home this time. I am anticipating floods of memories and lots of laughing and leaving smelling like the Ropes Gymnasium but I am excited about it. I always get mixed emotions about going home…I have a tendency to fall back into my comfortable role when I’m around my family (hopefully the brat part is gone…LOL) But I always feel like “the baby”. No matter how much I have accomplished or the things I have done I always feel that I am in the shadows of my big brothers and sisters….But I LOVE being close to them…This morning on the drive to Madison I was caught off guard while listening to a song and I began to weep….I realized that through these last few months I have prayed and prayed for hugs from my sisters….I have needed that more than I ever have….This trip came on so quick I hadn’t even thought about what a blessing it will be to just be with them…I was just overwhelmed at how God had all this planned ahead without me even thinking about it….Who knew the day that Rob and I were stuck here in Memphis TN back in March and got bumped and were given vouchers that I would be using them to go back home right now….perfection…..but should I expect any less from God……..
Today I dream for you an unexpected blessing…..have a blessed week friends

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Desires of My Heart.....

This is my charm from my weekend with some incredible women.
The hearts represent each of us with the One on the stem
being our table leader....That was a life changing weekend...

1. Desiring no more than what one has; satisfied.

The idea of being content is a tricky one...On the surface it seems like it is a noble thing. When you first hear this word your mind is probably drawn to thoughts of material possessions.......Is our home big enough... is our car "new" enough... do we really need a new purse....does my cell phone have enough bells and whistles....As a society it seems as if we are never Content with what we have...The media is always trying to convince us that we need bigger and better.

When you come across people who are just happy with what they "have" sometimes it is just hard to accept. They must be hiding something. And then you dive in a little deeper and you begin to uncover what events have transpired in their lives. What made their priorities shift from material  to relational...They understand that their house and everything in it is just stuff....And stuff doesn't bring you lasting happiness - relationships do....That is no more evident than when we are in Jamaica. A majority of the population have basically very little. And yet they are some of the happiest people I have met. But as you drive along the unpaved roads you constantly see groups of people....Men, Women and Children...playing cards or just sitting together in lawn chairs...My first American instinct honestly is....why aren't they at work trying to make their lives better. But then I think who's definition of Better? I think there is a balance but I know that those people have taught me a tremendous amount about priorities..

So I get that it is a good thing to be content in our materialistic lives but what about other areas. Yesterday I attended a tour of our local hospital. I have been asked to give the Welcoming and Closing speeches for the annual Fundraising Brunch. The CEO of the hospital was speaking to us and he made a simple but profound statement. Basically it was that who they are today will not be who they are in 5, 10 or 15 years....Our hospital was established in 1924 and because of our strong community it has made some incredible advances, especially within the last 15 years. It is not only aesthetically pleasing but the care that is given here has increased 10 fold...He discussed that it would be easy now that they just completed the new Med Surge floor to sit back and we are done. But he said that is that is not good in any area of life. We always need to be searching for how we can be better.

On my way home that  thought just kept playing through my head. I think it is Extremely important for us to take moments to sit and breath and express our gratefulness for where God has us - for the gifts that he gives us. But then our next breath needs to where do I go next??? I began to process that for myself...I am beyond grateful for the "gifts" that God has given me. My home in the woods, my Jeep that cleans up pretty good (even after 145,000 miles), my clothes (even if they are mostly from Walmart)...He has been beyond good to me. And I have also been extremely blessed with relationships. I have sisters that make me laugh so hard I cry and brothers that will always protect me. We have had our share of difficulties and our family tree may not look "normal" but I love each and every one of them all more deeply than anyone could imagine. I have had friendships that have lasted most of my life and I have met some amazing people throughout my life....My husband is the most incredible and loving man I could have ever dreamed of spending my life with and my children make me so proud sometimes it brings me to tears....( marriage has been plagued with difficulties and my children have made many many mistakes....these 3 are not perfect people ..just as I am not....but they are MINE..and we are in this together....and I adore them with all my heart!!!!)

So if anyone would feel the urge to just be "Content" it would be me. And yet it seems that there is a constant knot in my stomach...He is constantly leading my on to a new adventure. A new journey with new people and new surroundings....Lucky for me I love adventure so the excitement makes me giddy....It's the work that is  involved that makes me think twice....I LOVE the going - it is the doing that holds me back...There are so many things in front of me right now...areas where I am praying for direction...I want to make sure they are not my DREAMS but his DESIRES for my heart.

Psalm 37:4-8 (New International Version)

 4 Delight yourself in the LORD
       and he will give you the desires of your heart.
 5 Commit your way to the LORD;
       trust in him and he will do this:
 6 He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
       the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.
 7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
       do not fret when men succeed in their ways,
       when they carry out their wicked schemes.
 8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
       do not fret—it leads only to evil.

This is one of my favorite parts of the Bible. I could sit and dissect it with you for hours. It is FILLED with wisdom. It first came to my attention several years ago while sitting at a table with a group of women in Texas that I had just met. We named our group..."Hearts Desire..." I have went to this passage countless times since that life changing weekend with those ladies. For me Desire is an Action word. Desire means that you want to go Somewhere...I think that is why I am so proud to call myself a dreamer...these are my Desires.....and then I am to DELIGHT in Him and He will give me the DESIRES of my heart.....**Here is the Key** listen close.....the fundamental part is that the closer I am to Him.....are you DESIRES are His DESIRES.....sigh.........But on the flip side - the more distant I am from Him....the more My Desires are strictly my own....and trust me that only causes problems in my life....

Here is just a sample of my Desires from the list that I keep...some He has blessed me with and a few that still haven't happened but I believe they will...The ones that have happened have been surrounded my many many earnest hours of prayer...rarely do Big Dreams just "happen"...they require alot of work and commitment on our part....He does give gifts to those He loves but I believe that He also needs to be assured that the one's He entrusts with those gifts will be good caretakers of them...I pray that the he is proud of how I care for the gifts that He has blessed me with...

To go on a mission trip (Jamaica....)
To help start a church in our community that would impact lives (Hidden Valley Community Church..)
To be an author...
To speak in front of Thousands of people...
For Rob and I to start and care for an orphanage....

So today my Dream (or Desire) for you is to evaluate your Desires...... But what if you have no Desires?....what if life is too busy or you are to overwhelmed...too exhausted to Desire anything....The Bible tells us that God gives good gifts to those who ask.....ASK!!!! DESIRE!!! DREAM!!PRAY!!! He created  an amazing world with amazing people and amazing places....Allow yourself the freedom to Desire!!!!!

Have a Full and Beautiful Day my friends....

Monday, September 20, 2010

my brother Neil.........

I just got off the phone with my brother Neil...(I think it is so funny - that is what I always call him....My Brother Neil)....everybody around here always tells me that now that I have been in Wisconsin for 20 years I can start just calling him Neil because they realize who I am talking about...LOL!

My family is ...well....interesting...I can openly say this because they will all agree with me - we are quite a mixture. Momma always compared us to the Lucielle Ball movie...Yours, Mine and Ours...I am the baby out of 10 kids and Neil is my only Full Blood sibling. He is also the only one that I really grew up the whole time with. Many of the others were in my life..some more than others...but I have many memories of all of them. But memories of me and Neil flood my childhood....Him teaching me to drive a 5 speed...(the little Chevy Love...) Our (yes they were both of ours....and don't let him tell you different...) Muppet Puppets....Climbing trees in the backyard, fighting in the backseat, making slip and slides with HUGE pieces of plastic..and climbing into bed beside him the morning that the coroner came to our house early that rainy morning to pick up Great Grandma after she passed away down the hall.....tons and tons of memories.....

When Neil and I begin talking we could tell stories for hours upon hours. I love that kind of relationship with someone when you  only have to say a word or a phrase and memories come flooding back. And there is useless information that only they could give - what was our Dr.'s name when we were little....(I wonder if possibly Debbie or Carla would remember but I know Momma would...) it was Dr Sauders...and he looked just like Captain Kangaroo. We use to sit in his waiting room reading Highlights magazines and  we got to pick toys out of the treasure chest.

Neil had the most Awesome class..(you see how I threw that 80's word in Our class was 2 years behind him and we idolized them. Probably 2/3 of our class had older siblings in that class so we were all like family. Every morning we would  meet in the library before school started and gather around one of the round tables listening to Tim or Kenneth read Garfield and Calvin and Hobbs out loud. Their class was full of pranksters and comedians....and as little brothers and sisters we were in awe of them....(don't know how funny the teachers thought they were but we enjoyed it....) I am always telling my kids and their friends stories about growing up and the things that we use to do. But it is so funny how many of my stories are things from Neil's class...His memories have become my memories....Sammy (?) sneaking out the window in Coach Tonn's class and and how they locked him out and then him just walking back into class and convincing Coach that he had given him permission to go to the bathroom....Being in Mrs. Ham's class and Neil telling the girls that he was crying because he had Leukemia...(when in reality he had just yawned and it caused his eyes to tear up....) and the girls running to the bathroom crying and his punishment was having to confess to the girls...Neil riding in the trunk of Tamara's car and pretending to be dead when they got to "the house"...their class being the ones that finally talked the school board to allowing us to have a prom....(Footloose.....It could have really been based on our lives....LOL..)

The class of 1986 taught us how to have a sense of humor and how to be adventurism....I wonder what things would have been like without them. What would we have done without Brent.....Brent hung out with Me, Suzy and Gina as much as anybody else.....I so remember riding in his car on graduation night one year out to someone's barn listening to his new cassette of Prince...Not to mention the whole trip to Lubbock to see him when he was working at the mall at the Pretzel Place and my care dying and Steve Rucker just happened to pull up and jump my battery.....LOL....Not mentioning how old I was....If you know that story then we must be close.....LOL!!! I remember Kenneth and his amazing musical talent on his Synthesiser and how he could Pinch you with his toes..LOL...I remember spending many hours at the Satterwhites "waiting" for Neil and Mitchell never getting to be part of the pranks because his dad was Superintendent and his mom was the English teacher..I remember Lucretia living at the end of our road and Pam across the field..I could go on and on.......sigh......

Neil has been a wonderful, wonderful brother....Although you would have never thought I would say that when I was younger...He will probably get upset at me for putting this out there because it is so not him now but he use to beat me up all the time when we were kids. He use to punch me so much that one time he was walking in his sleep and even came and beat me up...But I have to say that the time he threw the ball point pen and hit me in the eye and busted the blood vessels and then put a pillow over my face and begged me to quit crying was not was just my turn on Mad Libs..LOL..but he didn't think Daddy would believe him so I went 2 days without looking at my parents because my eye looked like I was staring in a horror movie and then there was the moment I walked into the school the nurse called Momma to come get me...and then she FREAKED....LOL!!!.But now you would never know that he had a temper...He is the most caring and loving husband and father....And he is the best brother I could have ever asked for. It breaks my heart to be so very far away from him during these years of our lives. Years where we could be there to support and encourage each other. Neil now has 4 children....His daughter Peggy is almost the same age as Becca and has always been brilliant! Noel is brilliant as well but has his challenges...He has muscular dystrophy but that has not stopped him from being an incredible artist....And then he has 2 darling daughters ages 6 and 2...He is currently back in school and wanting to be in education. He has a wonderfully supportive wife that couldn't be a better soul mate for him and that makes me so happy. I am so proud of him and all he has accomplished....and I love hi dearly....

Today I dream for you the opportunity to reflect on someone in your life....what do they mean to you? Think of memories that you share.....take the time to talk to them and let them know how they have impacted you.
Have a wonderful day my friends....

Friday, September 17, 2010

How Jamaican Mission Program Began...

The original group that went to Jamaica in 2008

The following are a few  exerpts from our website explaining how our organization began ...

The Jamaican Mission Program was formed in 2008 by a group of 13 people interested in encouraging and supporting mission work in Jamaica.  The roots of the organization began when Bryan and Nichole Myers first visited Jamaica in 2003. During this vacation they noticed the beauty of the island and the kindness and generosity of the people.  They also noted the disparity between the wealth on the resorts and the poverty of the island.  They first returned to preform mission work in 2005.  These initial trips involved running a free medical clinic in Montego Bay and assisting at Westhaven and The Place of Safety.  They wanted to spread the personal rewards they received by working in Jamaica with others.  In 2008, they encouraged a group of 13 people from Richland Center, Wisconsin to come along and volunteer.  This group, pictured above, saw the same poverty but also witnessed the help and joy that a few volunteers can provide.  As a result, this organization was began to increase and support future interest in Jamaican Mission work. In 2009, the first JMP group consisted of 17 people who worked on multiple projects at Westhaven.

Information on Westhaven Orphanage

Westhaven Children’s Home is an orphanage for handicapped children in
. It was started in 1986 by a group who saw the need for a residential
facility to assist children with disabilities to reach their full potential.
The first cottage opened December 17, 1991, two more were opened in 1993,
and the fourth cottage was opened in 2003. There are currently four fully
operational cottages housing up to eighty children, ages three to twenty
seven years old, with a wide variety of abilities.  This varies from children
with mild cerebral palsy, Downs Syndrome, and mental retardation to children
with more profound handicaps.  Full time care givers at Westhaven provide all
necessary care including physical therapy and education. 

The home is located on a former sugar plantation in the city of Copse. Copse
is a small mountainous village outside of Montego Bay.  The drive from the
hotel takes about 45 minutes through some of the most beautiful scenery in
.  This former sugar plantation is also home to the

Copse Place
of Safety.

The ongoing operational costs of the home are supported, in part, by the
Jamaican Ministry of Health. However, the largest daily support comes from
continuing donations from local and overseas individuals and groups.
Sample Projects:

1) Daily cares:

Every morning, Westhaven staff must assist with bathing, dressing, and feeding all of the children.  This daily work involves up to 80 children with various disabilities.  Any help is appreciated.  Volunteers can help with bathing, dressing, feeding, caring for and loving these disabled orphans, aged 2 to 27.  Others may decide to spend time with the children; talking, playing, walking with, and listening are all great ways to help brighten up a child’s day.  Other volunteers will assist the Jamaican physical therapist in exercise programs for the children.  Volunteers with classroom skills can organize classroom teaching and learning activities. A schoolroom is available for the about fifteen children from Westhaven that regularly attend school.

2) Fifth cottage:
Volunteers began the construction of a 3,600 square foot fifth cottage in 2004. This long term project is designed for the older children at Westhaven and has been coordinated through The Westhaven Board of Director’s Building Committee. Over the last 4 years, volunteers from various organizations have dug and poured the foundation, built block walls, and started framing the roof.  In 2009, the JMP volunteers framed and paneled the interior walls of this cottage.

3) General maintenance:
As one can imagine, housing up to 80 children in a topical location with yearly hurricanes requires regular maintenance to the property.  This has recently included; roofing repairs, painting, replacing floor tiles, and other general repairs. In 2009, Rob Wanless repaired a dangerous metal gate and Micah Piasecki reframed new locking doors for the school.

4) Water tank:
With extra time in 2009, we built a 3 feet platform for the water storage tank to get it off the ground. The tank had been placed o the ground and since the washing machines are gravity fed, this obvious didn't work real well. We finished this project and were able to autograph the concrete slab.

I realize I could have written my own information about JMP but I think this sums things up so very well. There is more information on our website including our next trip date and approximate prices.  Also you will see that we use the term Vacation With A Purpose.  The week that we spend in Jamaica is not all spent at the orphage. We have 2 sight seeing days which is beneficial to  Jamaican tourism....not to mention that we have a wonderful time seeing some of the most breathtaking partsof the island. Feel free to spend some time on our site....we would love to hear what you think....

Today I feel silly so.....I dream for you the chance that somebody has already done the work for you so you can take time to play....just like Bryan and Nichole keeping up our website so I could just copy and paste.....thank you both for all you do and for including us in this journey!! Have a wonderful weekend friends.....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Kerry Ann...(3rd post of JMP)

Kerry Ann wearing My Jamaica ended up staying with her...LOL!
So today I get to share with you stories about My Kerry Ann. I'm not even sure how we even first started getting close. I suppose it was just from pushing her wheelchair up and down the bumpy yard singing songs. That is probably what sticks out most in my mind is her singing. At some point I had a video of her singing and somewhere along the way it has been misplaced. But I can tell you it is probably the most precious sound you could ever imagine. The first time I heard her we were sitting under the shelter in the middle of the property and I asked her to sing something to me and I asked her if she knew the song - Open the Eyes of My Heart.......Oh My...That was probably when we connected. I sat at watched this girl sing these words to God and truly speak to Him. This is a girl who has been confined to a wheelchair her entire life with Spinal Bifida. Has been through pain like I can never even imagine. One day I watched as Njoki lifted her tiny mostly limp body into her wheelchair one morning and I cringed as she winced in pain until she got adjusted. And then to be left in an orphanage to be raised by others because her family doesn't have the ability or finances to take care of her. If anyone should be in a pit it is this young girl. And yet on that morning when I saw her connect to God I knew I wanted to be in her presence. And so now she is "my girl.." and it is mostly selfishness on my part. I push her wheelchair and sit and hold her one good hand and rub her face. And then I tell her that she is SPOILED and she does her laugh where she lifts her body and looks up and away like she is embarrassed.

Goodbye Hugs are always the hardest...

The first time I ever told her that it was just adorable. We were sitting in the "dining area" and she reached into her little purse and pulled out some J (Jamaican money) and handed some to one of the boys. She said something in the language I dont' think I'll ever learn and off he went. I didn't really pay attention until awhile later the boy came back with a grape soda. I looked at her and I said.."is that what you told go get you a soda..." - "yes" - "and then he just runs and does what you say..." - she just sort of giggled....And so I told her "Kerry Ann, you are you know what that means?.." She said that she didn't know the word...So I explained it means....Everybody Loves Kerry Ann and so Everybody does anything that Kerry Ann Wants...and I said it to her in a sing songy voice...and so that is our little joke now...Every time I say it to her she just giggles and giggles....

My second year at the orphanage was probably the most difficult. Kerry Ann and I spent alot of time together and on the last day of working there she was acting very upset. One day we were in the school room and I was holding her hand and loving on her. She wouldn't color or do anything like the other children. I kept asking her if she didn't feel well and she would just look away. Finally all of the sudden she just burst into tears. The teacher came over and was talking  to her in Patwa and so I had no idea what was going on. She was so good with her and was comforting her but my stomach was in a knot because I had no idea what the problem was. One of the girls pushed her wheelchair out of the room and the teacher and her went to
the side of the building so she could calm her down. Finally the teacher came over and explained to me that she didn't want me to leave...That just broke my heart...So the rest of the day we just spent time alone and I tried to explain that I would be back the next day to take her to church.

Rob pushing Kerry Ann up the hill to church...and of course she was Singing

So the next day at church we found a place over by the window. The children in wheelchairs take up the outside isle and then people sit on a small bench beside them. So we found our spot in the middle of several other wheelchairs and began to listen to the woman sing and Pastor Douglas began to preach. His sermon that day was powerful just like every other time we have been there. But this sermon was about healing. He told the story about the men that brought their sick friend to see Jesus. They couldn't get inside so they climbed up on the roof and lowered him down through the ceiling and asked Jesus to heal him. I looked around at all these children scattered among the local people. Children that couldn't speak or were deformed from birth. Did they understand what he was saying? Did they pray for that? Did they lay in bed at night and asked to be healed? And then my eyes rested on Kerry Ann. I was holding her hand and she was staring directly into my eyes. What were her eyes saying to me? Did she want me to pray that for her? What if I were strong enough spiritually to believe that God could heal her right there. Was this God testing my faith right there? Did he give me the gift of this girl to be able to witness a miracle if only I had the faith...And in my soul I felt myself say.."no"...I couldn't..literally within seconds Kerry Ann began to weep - uncontrollably weep..There was no where to go - we were jammed in like sardines and it wouldn't have mattered anyway. The church is on a Steep hill and Kerry Ann has to be carried up by several strong men. So there we were. I rubbed her face and put my head close to her ear and just began to speak softly and try to comfort her. Letting her know that I would be back to see her and that I would call and talk to her...which I do but not near as often as I should....Gradually she began to calm down...Services were over and we took the children back to the orphanage and said our goodbyes. It was very difficult but Njoki promised me she would take good care of her....We drove away and I began to weep. I realize that my group thought it was because of leaving Kerry Ann and it was in part. But at that point my soul was breaking. I knew that morning was a turning point. It had to be....That evening I sat out by the water where it was quiet and I talked to God. Why would He do that to me? How could I be put in that position? Was He really asking me to do something so bold or was it my vivid imagination. And what if he was and my response had now changed this girls future and my obedience could have dramatically changed the direction of the faith of the people I was with and all those people in that room and people I would never know.....What if I would have said Yes???? I don't know...I honestly don't....Maybe I think much to highly of myself to think that God would have used me in that way....Honestly - Who Am I???? And so I switch from It could have happened if I would have only obeyed to thinking that I am crazy.....

So as my JMP friends read this I really have no idea what they may think....possibly yes that Linda is a little Wacky but we have come to expect that...but I do think that we have all had some pretty bonding experiences now that they know my heart...It has been a joy to have shared these special times with each of these people. If any of you have ever been part of something like this you will fully understand the impact that it makes on you if you invest in it fully. The people you serve with are connected to you forever...They have seen the faces...They have pried on shoes with you that were to small to fit the feet....They have cleaned and painted the walls of bathrooms covered in stuff you don't want to identify....It is a bonding experience and we are now like a family. We may argue or get irritated because of lack of sleep but each of us understands why we do what we do.....For the Kids....For Us....For the lives back home that will benefit from our changed lives and I am beyond blessed to have this incredible family called Jamaican Mission Program...

Today I dream for you the opportunity to truly serve from the depths of your heart...for you to impact and be impacted...for opportunities for God to speak to you...I have tried to let go of the guilt of saying No and live in the truth that He speaks if only we listen...I have to believe that He knew my answer before He asked so He was not surprised or dissapointed...He just needed me to be aware so when the opportunity arises in which I would give Him a Yes I will hear his voice....Have a blessed day my friends....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Njoki......(2nd Post of JMP)

Njoki preparing breakfast.....
On my first trip there were 2 girls that just grabbed my heart. Kerry Ann and Njoki are about the same age. By now they are probably 28 years old. But it's hard to think of them like that. They seem so young and fit in with all of the children in the orphanage. Even though they play and sing right along with everyone else they both are very good at "mothering" the younger ones.

Njoki has Downs Syndrome and has recently been diagnosed with Diabetes which is not making her happy. She is on a special diet and everytime I talk to Ms. Grant - the administrator - she says that Njoki is sad because of the food she has to eat. The orphanage is set up wonderfully in the fact that it is basically a home. All those who are capable have responsibilities that they have to take care of. But from what I see Njoki has alot of responsibilities and sometimes I just go and wrap my arms around her because I know the feeling of exhaustion of being the caregiver.

One of my first experiences with Njoki was probably one of my most difficult. Ms. Curry yelled at her...(they always yell - no one just talks..LOL...) "Njoki....go feed Mooni....." They say that Njoki is the only one that can feed Mooni. So Njoki takes me by the hand and leads me into the small kitchen in her cottage. She grabs a bottle that honestly looked 20 years old and began to pour some kind of thick yellow mush kind of liquid into it. She then screwed a nipple on that had the tip cut off that would allow the thick liquid to come out. She once again takes my hand and pulls me into one of the rooms. The room had about 8 beds but only one was occupied. Here lay a girl, probably in her late teens - her legs were bowed and her arms and hands were clenched and bent and she had the largest brown eyes I had ever seen. Njoki went over to the cupboard that held clothes. Clothes that belong to all the just take out whatever fits and that's what they wear. Well, Njoki reaches up and grabs a dress shirt that is made of a Satin like material. She puts the shirt across Moonies chest and under her chin to use as a bib. She proceeds to stick the bottle in Moonie's mouth and Squeeeze.... and Squeeeze....and she would turn and look at me and just smile and rub my arm while she worked. As she squeezed the yellow liquid covered Moonie's face and down her chin and cheeks...all over the bed and filled the "bib"....Njoki would take the satin bib and try to wipe Moonie but the fabric would just spread it everywhere. I just sat and watched the interaction. The more Njoki tried the worse it got and then I watched Moonie....she had the biggest smile on her face and laughter in her eyes. Njoki got done and patted Moonie, who was now a complete mess, and then grabbed my hand and pulled me out the door.

Njoki feeding Mooni.....(this wasn't the day with the purple satin bib though...LOL...)

Just sitting here thinking about her makes me laugh. She is very protective of the visitors. Especially when some of the boys come around. She knows that Franky may pinch or hit and so when he comes close you can see her just eyeing him....She knows Tony is just a flirt and always wants to be by the girls. She knows at any moment Beannie Mon might just drop his pants whenever he wants and so it's nothing to see her smack him upside the head.

Njoki protecting Joey from Tony...this is just typical Njoki....Love It!

This last time she was just hilarious. On the last day of working at Westhaven they always throw us a party with cake and ice cream. Which is a great treat for the kids as well. Kerry Ann always sings us a song and it always makes me cry....But this last time the kids had some music going and they were dancing like crazy. I just wish that you could see Njoki dance.....She just smiles and goes to town....It makes me laugh just thinking about it.

This last trip I didn't spend as much time with Njoki as the other 2 times. I realize that Kerry Ann is very jealous and gets upset if I am paying attention to Njoki. Last time I tried to juggle time with both and it exhausted me. While Kerry Ann was eating I would go for a walk with Njoki. Or when Kerry Ann was occupied with someone else I would hug on her....But this last time I realized that Njoki makes friends easy. It's not hard to find some other visitor that wants to spend time with her. So my main focus was Kerry Ann but I never passed up a chance to get hugs from her....

Njoki hugging on Kathy....Love that smile....

So there is my girl Njoki....Sometimes I just watch her while she works...I watch her talk to the other children in their own language...or maybe just give a look - just like a mom would...I watch her laugh and I see her sit and lean her head against a post and close her eyes just to catch a moments rest....She is remarkable and I am so blessed to know her.

Have you ever seen someone that you were just in awe of. Someone that you just sat back and watched how they move....Maybe it was a nurse that was caring for a loved one.....Maybe it was a mother with their child....Moments that just make you take pause and want to take in what is happening. I LOVE when that happens......Today I dream for you the chance to encounter someone worth "watching". Someone that you can learn from or just be in awe of.....Have an amazing day my friends.....

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

a compromised immune system.....

photo of Rob holding my hand while we wait for my results of my biopsy....thanking God there was no Cancer but not understanding what it would mean for my future dealing with Hoshimotos......
 I remember when Becca got back from her trip to Germany a few years ago she came down with Mono. It completely wiped her out. Rob and I ended up sleeping downstairs and giving her our room that got more sunshine and she could have the windows open to get fresh air. As a mom it was terribly hard to see my poor girl so very sick. Since that time we have had to be very careful not to let her get to exhausted. Whenever she overdoes it she pays for it later. I can almost guarantee that after something major she will get some kind of sickness. In fact right now - after just starting college a few weeks ago - she is going to the clinic today with strep. Her mono was intense and it did a number on her immune system. So as a mom it is difficult for me to sit by and watch and wait for what might happen next. The sicknesses that she usually gets aren't major - but they are enough to shift her world.....

I was thinking about this today because of what I am going through in my life lately. I have had some big things happen in my life the last several years. Things that turned my life upside down and left me questioning alot of things - including God. I can remember one day standing in the shower sobbing just saying over and over that I don't think I believed that He was real anymore....That time in my life was the deepest of all my pits. There have been many throughout my life but none affected me the way that this one did...Two years later I finally was able to pull myself out of my pit and start to live again. But even though I was living it was like my "immune system" had been compromised. Things would come along that normally I could handle and yet I found myself slipping back into that pit....all I wanted to do was sleep and forget about the world....So for the past several years that has been my life. A majority of the time I am fine..I Love Life - everything about it....and then something happens....something that shakes my foundation. That has been my last several months. I feel like I can't get my footing. Every time I think I am doing okay my world shifts and I feel myself falling again. In the last few months I have lost a wonderful friendship, listened to my mom tell me she had another stroke and lost her eyesight in one eye, sent my beautiful daughter  to college, watched my son go through things that no child should have to go through, held another part of my family as they dealt with things that broke every bit of my heart - I never want to see a mother cry from the depths like that again, had to have gallbladder surgery and attempted to deal with another relationship that has taken every bit of strengh out of me and has brought out sides of myself that I don't like feeling. The list could go on and on and on..........

And then I have weekends like this weekend....most of it was good stuff - honestly. I loved working at the JMP tent and talking with people and visiting with my friends. And at the same time knowing that the money we are raising goes towards some amazing kids....good stuff....and yet - The long hours and stress and responsiblities of setting up and tearing down every day, days of preparing the food, decorating, serving, having company & staying up until 3:00 am because I knew it was the only real time I would get with them, not feeling guilty leaving the others alone at the tent to watch Rob in a skid steer competition, and the same problem with going to watch D's band play, the final day of tear down while completely exhausted, and then still looking around my kitchen at the piles of things that need taken care of....I just feel Overwhelmed....I feel myself falling back into my pit and I am having a hard time talking myself out of it.

All of this and then the fact that not long ago I was diagnosed with Hoshimoto Disease which is an auto immune disease that affects my thyroid.You throw on top of that my nervousness from my ADD and I just about drive myself crazy. I am always shaking and on edge. And so that is what makes me think of Becca. In the same way I am protective of her I have to be protective of me. I am my biggest advocate. Most of what happens to me in the world is out of my control. But I can have control of how I handle it. I take alot of deep breaths, talk to God ALOT and have great Dr.'s who take good care of me. I make it a priority that in the calm times I surround myself with positivity. I make sure my house is as clean and organized as it can if I am out of sorts for a few days my house won't overwhelm me so much...I try to make sure I make good connections with people that are positive and honest with that when I can't see the truth I know that these people will speak truth into my life....I lead a life that is as clean and pure and encouraging as I can so that when Satan tries to convince me I'm unworthy I can look back on my past and see the positives in my life...

I could dwell on the negative parts of my life....some seem to think that I have had this picture perfect life and if they only knew the trials that I have gone through they would wonder how I even stand. Happiness is a is not a right.....sometimes I have to make that choice several times a day...or even an hour....I don't LIKE the pit...No matter how much Satan tries to convince me that life is better's comfortable to live in the midst of your pain - it allows you to defend your friend and I use to joke that we were in our pit so often that we have it decorated and should have our mail forwarded there......I don't Want that.....I want JOY...I want those around my to be Joyful....and honestly most people want to be around Joyful people.....negative people attract negative people....I CAN'T stand negativity...honestly I can't  - I don't mind hurting fact it brings me great joy to help someone with their hurt....but I can not surround myself with is not good for is not good for my family and those around me.....So if you are around me any amount of time you will hear me say the phrase...."Satan - you will not steal my JOY..." and I have to live by that....

So.....well.....hhmmm.....I guess this was one of those posts where I just needed to sort some stuff out in my head. I don't know what else to say.....maybe you can relate....maybe you have had trials that have put you in a pit....maybe you have people in your life that just insist on living in their negativity and you just want to run from it.....well, then I guess  today I dream for you a healthy immune system....I know amazing Dr.'s but most of our problems are things that they cannot cure...What a difference our life is when we go directly to the one that created us....He knows us best....He knows how to make us joyful.....So today - choose to be JOYFUL!!!

How did Rob and I get to Jamaica......(post 1 of JMP)

Rob with Petagay - she adores Rob!!
Well since I had such high demand for this topic (okay, it was Tiffany B....LOL) I am finally getting around to writing about our Jamaican Mission Program. Maybe I will do this in several posts. I don't know if you have realized this yet but my posts have a tendency to get rather lengthy.

In 2008 Rob and I were beginning to plan what we would like to do for our 20th anniversary. I have always wanted to go to Hawaii. But the more we looked into it the more we realized the prices were insane. One day Becca had a Dr. appt with a new Dr. in town. When we walked into his office I see photos on his wall of beautiful beaches. When I asked him where they were taken he told me it was Jamaica. He then proceeded to tell me that he had a group of people going to Jamaica in January to help with some medical missions. I laughed and explained that my husband and I were far from in the medical field. He said that there were other things to do, such as go to work at an orphanage for disabled children up in the mountains. I was very interested but knew the hard part was going to be convincing Rob. Well to my complete surprise Rob thought it sounded like something he would like to do and so we booked our tickets.

I could do a whole post just on the adventures of our trip but I will give you the condensed version. When we arrived in Montego Bay we went to get our luggage. Well.....No Luggage - not for any of us. And half of our luggage was filled with medical supplies for the work that part of the team was going to do. The story goes that we were the last ones to arrive at the airport that morning and so our luggage was the last to go on the plane. It was horribly cold that morning in Chicago and they weren't able to get one of the luggage compartment doors opened. So our luggage got left behind. So now here is the whole group of us walking along the beach once we arrived at the hotel with our blue jeans and long sleeve shirts on. Well, except Doc and Nichole, they were the smart ones and had a change of clothes. Doc spent most of his time trying to talk to the airport to get our luggage back to us. Now it seemed that once it arrived there were questions about the paperwork for all the medical supplies. FINALLY while we were sitting in the Lounge area watching the most amazing football game between the Packers and New York - Doc arrives with our Luggage - minus the little purple suitcase that had all the liquid medicine that had Exploded because of the cold in Chicago and was oozing out the sides - Doc left that with the people at the Airport...LOL!!

On Sunday (while we were still w/out our luggage) we took our first trip to the orphanage to take a group of the children to church. As the bus pulled up to the gates my stomach dropped a little. I didn't really know what to expect. We pulled through and children began to run up to greet us. Now I know it was Franky saying..."come on, come on..." and waving us in while touching his finger to his lips... along with Beanny Mon and Tony and so many others that I have now fallen in love with. I remember stepping off the bus and being surrounded by children - hanging on to me and pulling me around to show me things. We were the first mission group to arrive for the season. So the children were overly excited to see "white people.." As I walked along I did okay for the most part until I saw one child laying on the concrete of her cottage. As she lay there the flies were swarming her and she just looked at me with her big brown eyes. I smiled at her and I can clearly remember telling God...."okay, God, I can do alot of things - but I can not do that...I can't let me heart go out to a child like that..." I know that sounds mean or rough but I just didn't know how to process the things that I was seeing. So we took some of the children to church and it was Incredible!! Pastor Douglas is On Fire For God!!! I just loved the people! One of the most moving things for me at church was when a lady in front of me let me borrow her Bible when she heard me tell Rob that mine was still in my luggage somewhere between Jamaica in Chicago.  As I looked at that Bible I was speechless. Now I write in my Bible alot..I make notes and put dates and places where I heard someone speak about a verse. But this...This was Amazing. The Bible was years and years old. And I am not exaggerating when I tell you that every open spot in that Bible was filled. All different colors of pens, verses underlined and circled. I just sat staring in awe. When I talked about it later I realize that these people are dependent on God in a way that we here in America don't have to be. All they have is God. We have Ourselves, Our Gov't, The Bank....all kinds of places to turn before we have to go to God. They have none of that and so He is their strength. That was life changing for me.

The next 3 days we returned to the orphanage...(finally wearing our own clothes) I started by doing some laundry and working with some of the women caregivers. Their lives are inspiring. Slowly I began to spend more time with the children and began to "make friends". I worked in the school room helping them color and then I would help in the dining hall and help feed children. I became extremely close to 2 girls. Njoki was in her mid 20's at the time and has Down's Syndrome. She is the mother to the mind is flooding with memories but maybe I will do individual posts about them individually later.....Kerry Ann is the same age and has spinal bifida and is confined to a wheelchair. As I worked with the kids Rob and some others worked on the construction of a new cottage. The days were hard and long and took much more emotional energy than I ever imagined.

The second day while working at the orphanage I was walking into one of the cottages and the little girl that I had seen on the first visit was sitting propped up against the gate. I took a deep breath and walked over to her and knelt down. I began to see closer her misformed feet and the way she moved her head from side to side. I reached down to stroke her soft warm skin and next thing I knew she leaped into my arms and wrapped her arms around my neck and laid her head on my shoulder.....uumm - okay I began to walk around the grounds just singing to her and patting her back. Finally after awhile I was walking by one of the workers and she said in that wonderful Patwa dialect...."Monic - wat you doin up on her?" then she began to explain that for most of her life Monic was unable to walk and she was only carried. But since the therapist has been working with her she has gotten much better at walking. But anytime she gets the chance she hops on someone so she can get a "free ride". She said she thinks it makes her remember when she was younger - sort of comforts her. So now when I'm there walking with some of the kids many times you can find Monic attached to me and I have a smile on my face.

Monic's feet

These are My Girls!!! Njoki and Kerry Ann.............<3
There are so many stories I could share and like I said maybe that is what I will do this week is just fill you in on what we do while we are there and some of the children and their stories. And then share with you some about our Jamaican Mission Program and how we actually started our own local organization.

Well, today my friends....Is there something that is difficult for you to look there something that you keep telling God that he's wrong and "that just isn't for you..." What does he keep putting in front of you that needs your attention and you just feel too overwhelmed to do anything about it....It doesn't have to be something as big as helping a child in an orphanage - it could be something right in your own home, or school, or community....just listen....and when you finally give in and do what he is asking you to do I guarantee you will be glad you did....YOU get the rewards when you obey......Today I dream for you the reward from obedience...........have a blessed day my friend..........

Monday, September 13, 2010

Jamaican Mission Fair Fundraiser

Our Jamaican Mission Project Tent for the Fair

Last week was just a whirlwind of activity. It was insanely busy but I did truly enjoy myself. Our Jamaican Mission Program had a booth at the fair to raise money for a construction project we will do in January. I realize I haven't done a post yet about JMP and how we are involved but I will do that in the near future. But I just want to blog about this while it is fresh in my mind.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I got together with Bryan and Nichole to make marinade for our Jerk Pork. The marinade has about 19 ingredients - most of them fresh..(thyme, habeneros, banana peppers, onions, shallots, garlic, lime juice, soy sauce...and other things...)It was a very long process but the end product was worth it.

Working on the marinade for the Jerk Pork

On Thursday we got to the fairgrounds around noon to set up and began serving at 5 pm. We only had a few minor glitches with the electrical but it all worked out. We had plates of Jerk Pork, Pumpkin Rice and a roll - Jerk Pork on a Skewer - Jerk Pork Sliders - tons of homemade desserts and freshly made caramel apples and .50 cent soda. We were pretty steady on that night. After cleaning up we got home about midnight.

On Friday and Saturday we got much busier. I loved visiting with people and I guess word around the grounds was that we were the happening place. We had our music going and pretty much had people there a good part of the time. We had some incredible customers. Gary K ended up there 6 times atleast and one of the police officers had to be there just as much. Closing times were always fun. The officer and Thad (our cousin - who is now the fair coordinator) would come hang out with us - so much fun. Friday was a crazy long day. I had to be at the grounds at 9 am to help with the photography judging and then we started serving at 11 am. We got home that night at about 11 pm but I didn't get to bed until 3 am. We had 2 friends coming to visit and they didn't get in until midnight. So Dustin and I and the 2 girls stayed up talking and telling stories about "the old days" until we knew we had to get some sleep.

Back at the grounds at 9 am on Saturday trying to find some energy. We didn't have as much help that day so it made it Extra Long. Rob was competing in the Skid Steer competition at 3. Bryan and I both wanted to go but that left Nichole all alone so Lisa (my sister in law) filled in for me which was very sweet. At 5:30 Dustin's band, Feedback, performed. That caused another problem because it was rush time and we were short handed. Finally they just made Rob and I leave and relax for a bit. It was so very nice and I was so proud of those boys - they did an amazing job. We sold out of pork and so that night so we started cleaning up at about 9:30 pm. We got out of there at about 10:30...totally Exhausted.

Dustin (L), Ryan (M), Colton(R) and Steven(drums) - Feedback

Sunday morning we went to church and out to lunch with the Holley girls. It was nice to finally get to sit and visit. It was nice but it made me miss their family even more. Kiersten and Sam came to surprise D. They wanted to watch his band. They are such wonderful girls. So after lunch the girls headed back to college and the 3 of us finally got to spend some time looking around at the fair for a couple of hours. At 4pm we met Bryan and Nichole and Dave at the tent to "tear down". Let's just say it wasn't as much fun taking down as putting up. It took several hours and our lack of sleep was showing. After we were all done Rob and I went back to B and N's to help unload the trailer. Finally we sat out on the deck and had some supper and just relaxed. Even spent some time in the hot tub. A very nice ending to the weekend.

Dustin, Kiersten and Samantha

Today...well it's still not over. I have nescos to scrub and caramel apple stuff to clean up. Aprons and Flags to rewash. Tons of stuff that has to get put away. Figure out how I am getting Terry's trailblazer back to his house (and talk myself out of wanting one because I have Really loved driving it) get my Jeep from the Fairgrounds - the leftover buns to the soup kitchen (***I need to talk to you about that Sue, to see if you could use them. so if you read this contact me..LOL ***)All this and the stuff I need to be getting done at my house since I have neglected it for a week....

So there you go - A wrap-up of my week. I either bored you, overwhelmed you or just made you shake your head.... But today I dream for you the chance to "overwhelm" yourself. Dive in to something!! It might exhaust you and overwhelm you but you will make memories in the meantime. But I also dream for you the ability to focus on the positives and not the negatives (because there WILL be negatives)...Life is much to short not to flood it with memories.... Have a beautiful day my friends!!