Friday, October 29, 2010

Goodbye Grandma......

We lost Rob's Grandma on October 27, 2010....She was as much a Grandmother to me as I could have ever imagined.....She will be greatly missed.....I will be speaking at the funeral on Sunday...below are the memories that I will share with all of those who were touched by her wonderful Love........
I LOVED seeing Grandma laugh........

Making Christmas Sugar Cookies

One of FAVORITE memories.....Picking Strawberries
and making jam.....I Will Miss Her So Very Much

October 31.......1987.......Rob and I had been dating since March and his parents and brothers had already come to Texas to meet "the new girlfriend". But now Eldon and Lilas Vanbrocklin...also known as Grandma and Grandpa were on their way to McCallen Tx for the Winter and would be stopping in Lubbock. I was a nervous wreck not only because I was meeting his grandparents but making supper. It went beautifully...Grandma raved about my Pork Chops and Rice and has made comments to me even recently about that meal. I often wonder if they were that good or if she was just being kind...We sat around the rest of the evening playing cards and visiting....(I know shocker, huh?)

Grandma and Grandpa would visit again for our wedding the following June and then they were back through again a few months later on their way South. That evening we took them out for supper and then they stayed on our hide a bed in the living room. The plan was that we would get up and have breakfast and they would be off. But when we woke up the next morning they had left a note saying that they couldn't sleep and had already gotten on the road. I remember how sad Rob was that he didn't get to hug them and tell them goodbye.......Fast forward to Feb 11, 1990...The phone rings and Rob answered it..... his dad told him to hand the phone to me....Don instructed me to wrap my arms around Rob and hold him and then give him the phone back. I did as I was told and I could hear the news...Grandpa had passed away......

So for the last 20 years our memories have been filled with Grandma.....and there are many......

*I remember Grandma's Donuts.....and how lucky Kayla always got the Bumblys....
*I remember the boys short sheeting Grandma's bed when we were all up North at Larry's cabin.
*I remember the story that my kids and Grandma always laughed about when they had gotten off the bus at      Grandma's house and she made box mac and cheese and forgot the cheese / the kids said it was the best!
* I remember when Vanessa first learned to use the phone and she called Grandma all the time....even when Scott and Sal didn't know...
*I remember sitting in the living room at the farm and watching Grandma sew Sally's wedding dress
*I remember Jule filling Grandma's house with Anything Lemon.....
*I remember the STEEP stairs in her old house
*I remember how the boys ALWAYS referred to them as Grandma and Grandpa at the farm
*One of my FAVORITE memories....picking strawberries and making jam.....
*I remember how I use to have allergic reactions to Bee stings...so whenever I got stung I would have to drive to her house and sit on her couch so she could watch and see if I Puffed Up....
*No one could ever forget her LOVE for playing cards.....the Hours we all spent playing SOB is priceless
*I remember how she always got irritated with one of the guys in McCallen that said Up North or
Down  South when his score was higher or lower....so of course Rob said it Everytime!!
* I remember the year that we had atleast 5 apple pies in our freezer from Grandma at All times
*I remember her beautiful hair....I often told her that I would stop coloring my hair if only I could have hair like hers.....
*I remember visiting with her and Alene at the Fair when she was Supervisor of the flowers....
*I remember her Love for Reading...and the countless times when I asked her what she was reading it was a book from Janis....or from Sal..... She definetely passed that love to all 3 of her girls...
*I remember her working at Webers Dry Cleaners....
*I remember Alene and Lisa laughing about the fact that every pocket of every item of clothing of Grandma's ALWAYS had a crumpled tissue.....
*I remember when she was in Texas she would never stay on the phone because it cost to much and she wouldn't even say goodbye - she would just hang up....
*I remember Dustin and Allie playing kitchen with Grandma and she would pretend to eat their food....
*I remember everytime we walked into the house Grandma showing us a newspaper clipping of Vanessa and Allison....she was SO proud of them...
*I remember Thanksgivings at her house on the farm with everyone at the Table that stretched into the Living Room and Rob and Scott carving the turkey and Janis sneaking pieces the whole time before we ate...
*I remember mushroom hunting on the hill up behind her house....she knew ALL the Hot Spots....
*And of course I remember "Lilas' Birthday Party" every year.....and how I am so thankful for that time to get to know "the Popanz family"...the time to sit and visit learning about everyone's lives and my children growing up with their cousins....intertwining our families has been so important to me.
*I will NEVER forget the Endless amount of potholders that she knitted for ALL of us every year.....
*And I will never forget the last time I hugged her as she wheeled herself down the hall to watch me get onto the elevator to leave......she told me she was ready.....and I know she was.....
That's what makes this so hard and yet so peaceful....We have had this time with Grandma - to Love on her....for her to Love on all of us.....My sister just asked me if Grandma was worried about dying....I said No - I think she was worried about Living....She was 92 years old....Her mind was as clear as the day we met....and yet her body wasn't as cooperative.....I know she was ready....ready not to have problems with her blood pressure....ready to not be confined to a wheelchair....but most of all ready to see Grandpa....

Thank you Grandma for being the best Grandma we could have asked for.....you will be greatly missed....
 




Wednesday, October 27, 2010

whats' in your toolbox....



It was Windy outside today so I didn't want to go
to the shop to take pictures.....So I used 2 of Becca's.
Thanks Boo!!!!!
 This morning while I was doing my Bible Study one of the sections was on being thankful. It asked us to write down different ways that we are thankful to God...If I had the opportunity I could sit throughout the day and into the night and never be able to write down all that I am thankful for. 

After I wrote for awhile I just sat back and thought about my life. I am not only thankful for the things like a warm home, food to eat, a healthy and loving family...but I started listing things that I never thought I could think of as positive in my life. I know without the struggles and difficult times in my life I wouldn't have the tools in my life that I need today.

In our line of work Rob has ALOT of tools. I can't tell you how much of my life has been spent in the shop while he works on a machine. My main job is fetching the tools he needs....(yeah, I said fetching...lol.) I will be the first to admit that even after all these years no matter how hard Rob has tried to teach me I am no good at knowing my wrenches. Oh sure I can do the 1/2" and the 3/4" stuff okay but you start throwing in all those other numbers and I start to hyperventilate.

Rob has had many of his wrenches for probably 20 years, so alot of them are worn and you can't see the numbers. Well, when Rob has himself in the bowels of a machine and hollers for a 9/16" and I bring him a 3/8" lets just say he's not happy.The fact of the matter is that Rob needs the right tools to fix specific problems. And without the right tools it can either take much longer to get things done or it is just impossible all together.

That is the way it is with my life. I look back and 20 years ago it would have been impossible for me to do some of the things that I do now. Today I love to speak in front of people. How in the WORLD did that happen? I can remember standing at the podium in Mrs. Satterwhite's class reading a poem and trying not to pass out. What got me to the point that one of my greatest goals is to speak in front of thousands of people? It didn't happen all at once. I started doing things like teaching Creative Memories classes and then speaking at the Mother Daughter Banquet at church.  In the last 20 years I have had many opportunities of speaking in front of audience. Just a few weeks ago I even got to do the opening and closing at the Hospital Foundation brunch in front of about 200 people and LOVED it!! But.... if I didn't have those smaller things throughout my life - not always being real excited about it- I wouldn't have the confidence to be where I am today.

As I thought through this I realized that tools serve such a HUGE purpose in our lives. Tools are used to  fix or to improve. If everything is going wonderful you have no need for them. It's when you get into trouble or see the need to make something better that you reach for a tool. I think that I am safe to say that Rob doesn't spend alot of time thinking about his shop full of tools. But when the need arises I know he is beyond grateful they are there and that he knows how to use them.

I picture Rob's big tool box - each drawer filled with items that make things easier for him. He has the tools that he Needs....There is a reason he has the items he has in that box. He has encountered problems before that required him to obtain just what he needed to get the job done. And now they are his.......So when something happens it's not that he still isn't having to fix something but .....when he has the right tools it just makes things go smoother and he can get done quicker.

So now I  picture the tool box that God has given me. I didn't "ask" to have the problems arise in my life that I have had. It wasn't enjoyable working through the stuff that I have had to deal with. It wasn't easy to push myself to do better. But through all the struggles I have been through He has been giving me the tools that I need. Not only to "fix" those problems but so later in life when I encounter something similar I have a better idea which drawer to go to for the correct tool.

Today I dream for a few moments to sit and thank God for your struggles and the tools he has given you to overcome them.. Take a good look at your tool box - go through each drawer and remember that even though you didn't Want to have to own those tools they have served you along the way.......

Have a beautiful day my friend.....


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

the wind......

Yes I do realize that this photo does not capture the power of the winds
that are upon us....But what am I suppose to do? If nothing
else you can see some of the trees that I worry will
fall on my house......LOL!!
Today the wind is horrendous....50-60 mph winds...The skies are dark and we keep having rain on and off. Not my favorite kind of weather... at all. I don't consider myself a worrier in most cases but when it comes to weather I make up for it. A while back I blogged about my fear of tornadoes. Growing up in West Texas tornadoes are just part of daily life. So when we moved to Wisconsin I was so happy that I would finally be able to sleep soundly during the months of March through July.....aahhh... Well for the most part we really don't have to deal with them.... except for a few here and there... some of which have been devastating... nothing like when I was in Texas. But I don't think it matters where I am when the wind kicks up my heart always starts to beat a little faster and I get a little jittery.

I now live in the woods so of course the thought goes through my mind of a tree falling on my house in a wind storm...wouldn't it occur to everyone???? What if one hits our room while we are sleeping? What if Rob is pinned and I can't get him out? What if both of us are killed and Dustin is left all alone? Will Becca have to quit school and come home to be with Dustin and give up her dream of being a photographer? Do they know where all of the important papers are if something happens to us? I knew I should have finished my bookwork because now the accountant is going to have to look through my stuff and see what a mess I have and she is really going to be confused....If the house is damaged then where will the kids live while it is getting fixed? Will they want to live in the house where their parents died??? If not how the heck are they going to sell this house with this driveway - I knew we should have blacktopped it!!!

Well you get the idea. Me and bad weather do not go well together. They say to expect the high winds for the next 48 hours....oh boy! My plan for the day is to stay in the basement doing bookwork and ironing...(just in case...lol...) I am trying to find positives in all of this......like hopefully I will burn a few more calories with my elevated heart rate over the next few days...... and now I don't have to take care of those piles of leaves in the yard seeing as how they are now in Yuba!!! Oh and my favorite positive in it....we may have 50-60mph winds but there is NO sand with it, so if I have to go outside it won't feel like my face is being rubbed raw by sandpaper and I won't have to pick grit out of my teeth when I come back inside....(oh....West Texas Sand Storms....)

This had to be a short post today....I know you are probably shocked....but my Internet keeps going on and off so I thought I just needed to get something out so this is what you get...

I tell you what though - trying to figure out a photo to go with the wind is pretty tough.

And one other tidbit of info....I checked Becca's facebook this morning and she said that they are under a tornado watch in Milwaukee.....Oh boy!! That sets off a WHOLE new set of stories in my vivid imagination....

Today I dream for you....beautiful weather!! Sunny skies and warm temperatures....aahhhhh - heavenly....

Have a wonderful day my friend....

Monday, October 25, 2010

a timeline of my life as a reader



When I was a child my favorite time of school was Library time. There was something peaceful and yet exciting about walking through  those doors.....One of my favorite memories of books that I read when I was younger was a collection of  Biographies about famous Americans. I always remember referring to them as the "orange" books. During our fourth grade year I am sure that me, Suzy and Darrell read every single one of them.  What I would give just to hold one of them again....sigh....


I also distinctly remember book reports and SRA's. SRA's always freaked me out!!!! After we were finished with our work we would go into the back of  Mrs. Arp's room and pick a card out of a large box. We would read our card and then do the multiple choice questions. Whenever we finished a color we were able to move ahead to the next and they got harder as they went. That was probably the first time I realized I wasn't quite as fast of a reader as the rest of my classmates. We had markers with our names on them to show where we left off. I remember staring at the box seeing my name so far behind everyone elses...oh, how I wanted to be done with Lime Green.... I tried and tried to read faster but no matter how much I wanted it I could never catch up with my friends.


But it's funny, even though I could never read "as fast" as everyone else I believe that their love for reading encouraged mine. My friends would talk about books that they were enjoying and I really wanted to read them too so I pushed through where I might have given up on reading all together if it were just left to me. So although at the time it may have seemed frustrating witnessing them read book after book so quickly it kept me going.....They were my "Carrot"....LOL...


Next was the stage of teen "love stories".... During that time it was me, Elva and Irene. We would read and share books and talk about characters while sitting in Coach Tonn's Science class. Sometimes I wonder what our mom's were thinking letting us read some of that stuff...

Suzy and I were together again during my next phase....Yep, Stephen King....I know good and well that left on my own I would have NEVER even looked at the cover of a Stephen King novel if it weren't for Suzy. But one by one I began laying in bed at night reading my books in a nervous sweat. I am a self proclaimed  "Fraidy Cat". Even now I have no interest in any kind of shows that are suspenseful or graphic or gory.....Nope, none at all, so don't even try to convince me otherwise!!!..I have never watched an episode of CSI or any of those kinds of shows and I really have 0 bit of interest in doing so. (okay except House...but it was a bonding thing with my kids....) Maybe it's because I still have visions of Pet Cemetery ingrained in my brain.....or I can vividly picture the people inside the grocery store in The Mist...aaarrgghhh.....great....now I will probably have nightmares tonight....dang it.......

Then I would assume that pretty much any girl living in the 80's knew the names Chris and Cathy Dollanganger....The characters in the V.C. Andrew book Flowers in the Attic. I love remembering that book until I think about how twisted the plot was and then I get a little nauseous. I think that is when I realized what a vivid imagination I have. I can still recall the pink color of the twins mom's sweatsuit as she came to the attic to check on the children one evening...my memory is insane sometimes. But I also think that my fond memories of the V.C. Andrews era is because that was the first "series" of books that I ever completed. There were 5 books and we would all go crazy until the next one would come out...

After that I took a break from reading for fun for several years. My next phase was probably parenting books. What To Expect When Your Expecting and all that kind of stuff. And then followed by Dr. Seuss and Brown Bear, Brown Bear....(which is still my favorite!!)

Then I got totally enthralled in the whole Left Behind Phenomenon. That was the series that reignited my whole Love for reading again. After that I began reading everything I could get my hands on. Some of my favorites were The Purpose Driven Life, Experiencing God, God Chasers, anything by Max Lucado and all of Francine Rivers books. During that time is when I finally even read the entire Bible....Something that I had always wanted to do and would love to do again. It felt so good and powerful to expand my mind through books again....

Since that time I don't think there has ever been a time without multiple books on my bedside table. I always have atleast one self help book going along with a fiction book and then usually something on organization of some kind...I can't imagine my life without books...

On Friday I went to my very first Book Club. There was a group of 14 women including myself. We read the  the HELP by Kathryn Stockett. It is set in the early 1960's in Mississippi. It is the stories of different colored women who worked in the homes of white families. It was a wonderful book. We each read it on our own and met on Friday to discuss it. Everyone brought a Southern Dish that was mentioned in the book. We had deviled eggs, fried chicken, black eyed peas, okra, caramel cake and of course if you read the book you realize we had to have Chocolate Pie !!! After supper we gathered in the living room for discussion. It was wonderful!! Having conversations with all of these women that come from all different backgrounds was so enlightening. I had the most wonderful evening! At one point I couldn't help but smile to myself. I looked around and realized that out of all of these women not one of them were from my church. They are all Christian women but are from all different churches in our community. The reason I think it was strange is that very rarely do I do things that don't include someone from my church. I was just proud of myself that my circle of friends is widening....I am loving this stage of my life!!

Now that I just finished The Help....(like Friday afternoon at Noodles in Company during my lunch...lol...I felt like I was cramming for a final - I have resolved myself  to the fact that I will NEVER be a fast runner or reader...oh well) I haven't started a new fiction book yet. We haven't decided on a new book for Book Club so I am on my own but I have about a dozen ideas in my head. I have never had difficulty in finding a book. To this day I have the same feeling that I had when I was a child walking through the library doors. Of course now it is Barnes and Nobles but it is the same feeling. I walk in, take a deep breath and my heart starts to beat a little faster. I walk through each and every isle my eyes scanning the titles and touching the covers of the books that catch my eye.....I could sit in one of their comfy chairs with a caramel frappachino and a book for hours (and I have - many times...and I am sure there are many more to come.....lol..)

Today I dream for you...time to read.....time to sit in a comfy chair with a glass of your favorite beverage by your side and be taken away by words on a page...

Have a fabulous day my friends.....

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I've lost my marbles


Colorful Marbles, originally uploaded by pieceofheaven.
Sometimes I think my husband is sure that I have lost my marbles....LOL

The other night we were at our JMP meeting discussing what we would like to do on our vacation days after working at the orphanage. I quickly piped up and said that I wanted to go parasailing...I have always wanted to do that, to be high above the water and looking down at the beautiful landscape (especially of Jamaica). Doc commented that you know they have spots for 2 people and so I looked at Rob and smiled....He's not quite as "adventurism" as me. Rob is the practical, down to earth....let's just say he's the brains of this couple....LOL!!

He has always been an amazing supporter of the crazy things that I have done throughout our life together....all the little businesses that I started....but never stuck to.....let's see if I can remember them....there was selling Mary Kay (but I hated selling anything because I really just like how organized all the products looked on my shelf). There was the shirt painting...the craft booths...the card making....and the one the lasted the longest....scrapbooking. I taught Creative Memories for several years and I have to say a lot of good did come out of that one...There are probably plenty of other ones that I have blocked out of my memory.

Rob was also very supportive when I began running. During the races he would bring the kids and they would come to different spots along the route to cheer me on. And when I returned to school he was very understanding when it was Semester Final time and they lived off of cereal.....LOL!! He highly agreed that I needed to go help with Hurricane Katrina and now he is supporting me in my writing. Rob has always been my biggest fan in everything I do.

There is one thing that he wasn't supportive of...  In fact he was down right upset with me.
Which is the main reason that I didn't tell him until I had already done it :-/ Summer before last I took my daughter and our exchange daughter to Wisconsin Dells to cross something off of my "bucket list". I went Bungee Jumping!! ...Yep...Crazy! It was about 130' and the only good thing about it was the nice view from up top. I was just looking at some videos of people jumping at the Dells and they were like 2 min long....My video was like 7 min....LOL...I kept thinking I was ready and then.......uummm, wait....Finally what made me do it is that I knew that if I just went back down that it would still be on "my list”. There would be a day that I was going to have to try again…Dang nab it!!! So it was easier just to get it over with so I could cross it off my list...I know...I know....

The worst part, obviously, was telling your brain that it was okay for your body to fall over the side of the ledge into midair. My brain and my legs were not agreeing at all. But of course after the initial drop it was sort of fun....Fun enough that I would ever do it again???.........uuummmmmm .....NO!!!!

When I called and told Rob what I had done he was MAAAAD!! Rob never gets Mad at me...I mean yeah if I don't turn the lights off when I walk out of the room he gets irritated. But he never gets MAD but this time I knew what was coming...."Linda, What were you thinking????" ooohhh and he never calls me Linda....I knew I was in deep trouble….I don't think "Peeps" would have had the same effect....LOL!!! What it came down to, and I knew it, is that he was scared that something would happen to me.....everyone together.........aaaaaawwww, how sweeet.......

It's funny that when we met Rob was the guy in the racecar and I was in a Ford Escort. Maybe that's why I was attracted to him I thought he was adventursm (sure it had nothing to do with he was just plain Gorgeous) but the reality is that he probably bought that car because it was in good shape and at a good price....(Just kidding Rob – you know I Love You )..!!

But the two of us do balance each other out. Without Rob who knows what a mess my life would be. I need someone to tone me down sometimes....Sometimes dreams just need to be that...dreams...And Rob knows that without me he would not have had the adventures and travel that he has had. We talk about all of this often and how blessed we are to have found each other.

So back to the parasailing adventure....well that has yet to be determined....I am giddy excited about it....Rob not so much....He hasn't said no. He just gives me this look with a little grin like...You really aren't going to make me do this are you?....And he knows full well that just about every adventure that I have talked him into he was grateful for afterwards....with exception of the Roller Coasters....I don't think that will ever happen again….:-)

Today I dream for you....an adverture!!!!....Make someone think that you have Lost Your Marbles....LOL!! Life is to short and there is so much to do......If you need ideas let me know – I will share some of mine with you!!

Have a wonderful day friend….

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Why can't I feel God.....


Pololu Vallay Lookout, originally uploaded by pieceofheaven.
As Christians many times it seems that our relationship with God is a roller coaster ride....We have wonderful highs where we see His beauty in everything around us. We are at peace and continuously feel his guidance in our life. A term that is often used is that you are enjoying a "Mountaintop Experience".......And then there are the times in our lives where we feel alone and abandoned. And at times even question His existence. That we are just "going through the motions." These times can be referred to as "being in the valley."

I have been a follower of Christ for most of my life so I have experienced the whole gamete of emotions that come with this relationship. This morning I received an email from a dear friend who is "walking in a valley." For the last year or so she just can't seem to find God anywhere. She misses those feelings that she use to have. The times where she would Sing and Dance and feel engulfed in His Love. But as we all know life gets busy and we get preoccupied and difficulties surround us. Next thing we know we try to find those "feelings" that we had with God and they aren't there. So we try to do the things we were doing before - hoping - praying - that we will feel Him once again. We sing the same songs. We go sit in the same places. We read the same verses. And then when we come up empty we feel abandoned. We start to question ourselves. What am I doing wrong? Why can't I get close to Him? Did I ever even feel Him before or is this just all a big game?......

Personally, the best way for me to think of my relationship with God is to relate it to my marriage.

When I first met Rob we couldn't spend enough time together. We would stay up late talking, learning about each other. I told Everyone about him. I wrote his name on my books..(I was still in High School...lol) And then we got married.....bu bu buuuummm.....And then you enter the “real world”. The times of gazing into each other’s eyes are long gone. There are bills to pay and children to raise and life gets crazy!!....
When I first moved to Wisconsin we had just started our business and I never saw Rob. He would leave the house at 5:30am and get home at 10:00pm to eat supper, sleep and do it all over again the next day….7 days a week…No cell phones, no way to keep connected….I was ALONE! Rob will admit that I basically raised both our children by myself. I was separated from my family by 1200 miles and none of our friends had children. We had "friends". But there was no one to talk to about the things that I was going through. Those years were hard...I remember thinking...What happened? I remember what life use to be like back in Texas. The man that I married was home at 4:30pm and we would sit on the couch and watch Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. We would go to the movies and out to supper. And now I just don't feel what I felt then… It wasn't that I didn't love Rob or that he didn't love me - that was never in question.. It was just that it didn't look the same or feel the same.....Those were definitely valley years for me and for Rob – and for our marriage...Many of you have heard me say...I cried for 6 years and I am not exaggerating..

Fast forward many years....at this point in our marriage I will say we are blessed tobe on a mountaintop...when I stand up here I can see things clearly, for what they really are. It was for the very best that I left Texas and came here. I found out who I am. I am stronger than I ever could have been if I would have stayed. I don’t believe I would have been the parent I am if we would have stayed. If I would have other mom’s around me to talk to maybe I wouldn’t have trusted myself enough and invested so much of me into making sure they were well rounded, responsible, loving and respectful children….now young adults…

Does it mean that we get to stay here on the mountain?...You might think it's crazy but honestly - I hope not...You see in the past 22 years Rob and I have have had many mountaintop experiences. But today when I look at them they are tiny hills. But we had to go through those to get to where we are now. Anyone who believes that Rob and I are the couple we are out of luck or because we choose to avoid things and just pretend to be happy on the outside have no idea at the work that we have done along the way...together. We will face new challenges. Maybe it will be our business or our health or any number of things... In fact - I will be honest with you - we both know that we are headed off our mountaintop soon. There are challenges that lie ahead but at least we know this one is coming, unlike the times you feel like someone just pushed you off a cliff. So we grab each other by the hand and vow to be a team in the valley. To remember the mountaintop and know that another one will be ahead but no guarantees as to how far. In the valley we have to make "us" a priority. We have to have dates even if they are talking about the kids or the business. And we know that sometimes it will feel like we are just “going through the motions.” But we HAVE to do it. Sadly there are times when we are in the valley that I whine and complain, “why can't I have now what I had then – it was better back there....I don't want to go any farther...I was satisfied with what we had”....WHY CAN'T I LEARN??????

God never promised us that a relationship with Him would be easy. Just like I was never promised marriage would be. In fact he assures us that it will be just the opposite. But He wants us to understand that those trials that we go through are good for us. We need those difficulties for our relationship to grow deeper. I would be disappointed if my relationship with Rob looked like it did when we first met. At that point there was no way of knowing that marriage could be like this. No one could have ever explained it to me. But to get here we had to go through the work, the tears, the arguments, the all night conversations. That is the way it is with my relationship with God. What if I would have thought that quoting scriptures and knowing every hymn in the red hymn book that set beside my bed was as deep as it got. I was Happy then. I honestly was. But then when I wasn't content with that I began to search for more and at times thinking that I lost Him because nothing felt the same. But then on the next mountaintop it was always better than the last....

 We all get discouraged in the valley. We all get lost and feel alone. Just don’t give up. It is through the valleys we learn the lessons we need to be able to move forward. And then with each mountain top you get closer and closer to Him.

Today I dream for you........I know that you want me to say mountaintops....I know you really do....so okay - I dream for you mountaintops....but not to stay forever - just long enough to get your bearings....to look around at where you came from..to be proud of the rugged terrain that you had to cross. To sit for a time and breath and think clearly. But then to know that there are other valleys that are ahead. And to give thanks for the small mountaintops that brought you higher each step of your journey.....

Have a beautiful beautiful day friend....

And now to share with you my very favorite verse in the Bible is James 1:2-7

2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

a professional photographer


Kitchen, originally uploaded by pieceofheaven.
This morning I am so excited. Last night I received an email from one of my favorite website/blogs....InCourage. They had recently asked me to be a guest writer on their site. But first I had to send a sample story to them to be approved. They did approve it and I will get to be on their site in the near future. I will keep you updated. And thank you all for your support with my blog. You all "encourage" me daily!! I am truly blessed!!

For the next week or so my camera is at the Dr. so I have to be creative with my posts. So I was going through my Flickr photos and I ran across this one. I thought it was a good time to share one of my other adventures that sort of relates to my whole InCourage excitement.

********

My niece Amy is married to a Wonderful Wonderful man. Besides being a loving husband and father he is an Incredible builder. He started in the home building field about 10 years ago and in that short time has made remarkable strides.

Not long ago he flew me to Texas on 2 different occasionsto do some photo shoots at several of the homes that he had built. He was starting up his website and I was beyond excited that he thought my photography was worthy.

As the photographer you get to see every nook and cranny of the house. I probably looked at the details of the construction closer than the inspector did. And through each and every home that I photographed the quality was astounding! I was continuously in awe of the attention to detail in his work.

I can't tell you how many thousands of photos that I shot during the 2 shoots that I was there....(thank the Lord for digital photography) but I never got bored. Chuck seemed very happy with my photography but he knows as well as I do that my preference would be to photograph the plumbing fixtures to the exterior of the house.....LOL!! I LOVE up close photography. But this whole experience has stretched me and I have been so grateful.

A bonus of the photo shoot time was the time that I was able to spend with Chuck. Over the years I have gotten to "know" him..(he, Amy and I share some pretty funny memories). But the time on the road from Dallas to Lubbock and to and from other home sites we had alot of visiting time. It is so fun to listen to his energy and love for what he does. How he understands that the houses that he is building are not just projects but people's homes. He is a unique young man and I am so proud that he is part of our family.

On the opening page of the website there is a photo of a home with a rainbow that extends over the entire house. That rainbow was was not superimposed - it was really there. That was the most incredible day. I thought that the shoot was going to be a bust because it rained the whole way there. As I walked through the home to get a feel for things I could hear the rain beating on the roof. And then as I stood in one of the bedrooms all of the sudden the sun began to shine through the windows.....Bright sunshine! It was Perfect photography lighting. And so I began to start snapping photos like a mad woman desperately afraid that the sun would at any moment slide behind a dark cloud not to be seen again. At one point I stepped outside to do the outside photos overlooking the beautiful lake. As I looked up there was a complete rainbow...end to end!! I ran in and got some rainboots on and trecked through the mud while keeping an eye out for rattle snacks...(yuck) But I had to find the perfect shot. And if you look on the site you will see the breathtaking scene that I got to enjoy that day...although I was able to get this great shot I had some wonderful alone time with God and his creation as well....*(now just so you know when you look at the photo the web designer put the sunburst in and not me...just a little fyi...LOL).

If you would like to see my photography for this project here is the link to the website....be prepared to be blown away by these homes. These are definately not typical homes. The rest of my photos are on each tab and then under Gallery. Enjoy!!
http://www.dawsoncustomhomes.net/index.html
I am very grateful that Chuck gave me this opportunity. Not just to photograph these amazing homes but the whole experience.It was definately one I will never forget...

I hope that you will take a minute to check out the Dawson Custom Homes website...And if you are in need of a Home Builder in the Texas or Oaklahoma areas then Chuck is your man....

Today I dream for you a chance to be challenged in the area of something you enjoy. It's good to be stretched and not just be content where you are.

Well...have a wonderful day my friends....

Monday, October 18, 2010

sharing my blog....

This one is still one of my favorite photos.
It was on the day that Becca got home from Germany.
That was when I knew that she would never be
content to live an average life.....

As many of you know part of the goal for writing my blog is to capture my day to day life and share it with my kids someday. I have long given up asking..."have you read my blog today??" Only to get the same answer..."Mooommm, I'm busy...". So my plan is to periodically put my blog into book form to share with them at some point when they will appreciate it more. So many times in my life I wish that I would have known about my parents lives when they were younger...How did they handle parenting, marriage, conflict?....What were they passionate about?... What were their day to day lives like?.....

Your all aware that I end most of my blogs with..."Today I dream for you"...I say that I write that for myself as well as you as a reader but also it is for my children.... If there is a day that I can't be there beside them with encouragement and advice I pray that they can read my words and learn and grow from the struggles and joys that I have lived. So as I write out these words I am challenged to live a better life...to live more adventursm...to let go of things...and to dream bigger...because that is the life I want them both to know that I tried my best  to live and it is possible for them as well...I try to be as real with my struggles because I want them to see that we all go through different seasons in our life. And hopefully that will encourage them throughout their own journey.

I write this for both my children but realizing that it will most likely be most beneficial for Becca. Not that Dustin won't be interested. Actually he has been the most supportive of my blog all along. But there is a different bond between a mother and daughter....or so there should be...or should I say there is for us....(But just last night D asked me if I have blogged about him yet..lol... I will write soon about my relationship with him  and share with you the things that make him the amazing son he is....) But this today is directed more towards Becca. I feel like I need to write so much of this stuff down for her...Her life is busy and full....I am so use to her being here and now that she is gone to college we are missing so much of each others lives...

I know there are parents that comment that their children are their "best friends" and I often somewhat cringe when I hear that... Being a best friend with your child puts an awful lot of pressure on them. I want Becca to have the freedom to have her own friends and adventures that don't include me.....I always say that if you do the hard work when your kids are younger then the older they get you truly get to enjoy them....that is where Becca and I are....And Dustin and I are getting very very close (still going through some work with him...lol...) I Adore her, I love EVERYTHING about her...but she is not my best friend. I don't ever want her to feel like she has to take care of me...that my joy and peace is dependent on her. I want her to have the freedom to have her own friends and that I will be okay..

Although I say she isn't my best friend we are very good friends. We are very close! And she has lived in this house so she knows alot about my life. She knows that I have had  rough times but I hope that I have taught her that it is possible to make it through with His guidance. Today's message at church was about God teaching us through struggles. That nowhere in the Bible does it state that God does not give us more than we can handle. It is through cicumstances that we can not handle that finally make us turn to Him. We have all 4 shared alot of stuff that we didn't know what God was trying to teach us. I want to be able to say that the things that I...(we) have gone through have grown me and our whole family.
So since there have been numberous times that Becca has held me while I cried about different things in my life...(She is just as protective of me as I am for her)..I wanted to give her a glimpse into my life at this moment while she is off creating her very own ....

*********

To Becca:

Although when you left for Milwaukee we were in the middle of some hard stuff as a family things are definately on an upswing. I am beyond proud of the life that you are creating for yourself. For your amazing strength and determination to follow your passsion. But most of all that you have Passion and Dreams in your live. I LOVE THAT! Dad and I are loving our life here with Dustin, just the 3 of us. You have been a wonderful big sister to him and an excellent example of a life to aspire to. Every day gets better and better and I am forever thankful for the time you spend with him. Dad misses you so very very much. He has the picture of the 2 of you hugging at graduation beside the bathroom sink and I know he stares at it often. If he ever learns to text it will only because he wants to talk to you more and no other reason...LOL!! And then there's me....I am happy....happier than I have been in a long long time....You know through many tears my prayer has been for a good friend for a long time now.....although things have been hard, this time has allowed Dad and I to begin to be each others Best Friends...the way it should be...the way it always should have been. But you know that I have missed having "friends". I just want to let you know that God is very faithful...I will first start by saying how wonderful our weekend in Milwaukee was at Women of Faith. Me, you and Shari!!! It couldn't have been more of what we all 3 needed. I loved you laying in my lap as they sang and getting to rub your back and play with your hair. And I don't know what my life would be without Shari right now...you know as well as anyone that she and Jamie helped us all through some of the hardest times we have had...all 4 of us....they are such a blessing to our whole family. And then of course there are Bryan, Nichole and Ainsley. They have become such a stable part of our lives and we couldn't be happier. Last night was our weekly Hot Tub hang out night and I got to feed Ainsley while she sat in her high chair. It feels so good to be an Aunt again to a little one....sigh...And then there are all my book club friends, my church friends, my Jamaican Mission friends and so many others (and of course my amazing Texas family!!)....Right now my life is overflowing and I am beyond thankful.

********

I know I say I write this for Becca and for Dustin as well...but I also write this for me. It feels good to write down in words where God has brought me....And to be so very thankful! Who is to say what the future will hold. What next year will be like. I am trying not to worry or even try to look to far ahead and just live in the moment. I tell Rob that I want to enjoy all the people around me now because if God's plan for our future is to place us in a different country working in an orphanage where I don't speak the language I want to be able to know that I didn't waste a moment of this life here and now...You just never know do you?.... But what I do know is that at this very moment as I sit here my heart is Full.....And I thank Him so much for that....

Well today I dream for you a Full Heart....Maybe you are where I am and you are so thankful for where He has you today...But maybe you are going through one of those times where you know that He is giving you more than you can Handle...Life is too hard and you don't know how much more that you can take...Here is a link to the series we are doing entitled Fearless - the one I am speaking of is Fear of Overwhelming Challenges...Excellent message!! http://www.hiddenv.com/resources/393  I want to encourage you to draw closer to Him during this time....Have a wonderful day my friends.........

Friday, October 15, 2010

The importance of "good ice"


Sonic Cherry Lime, originally uploaded by pieceofheaven.
Well it's about time I educate my Northern friends on the importance of GOOD ICE....Now if I was in Texas that would be said with a definate drawl....But if I were here and said it like that you would just laugh at me....

I think Lubbock, TX must be the beverage capital of the world. Whenever I am at home it seems that I constantly have something to drink in my hand. This last time I was there I was awaken by Chuck bringing me a cup of coffee while I got to sit on the couch and watch my neices run around like little bees getting ready for school. And then I got to do one of my favorite things in the whole world. Sit and drink coffee made by my Brother n law Bill (because mine didn't work out so well) while he and I sat in the wing backed chairs in the kitchen talking about God. And then of course there is my sister Carla's iced tea. I make tea all the time but it never tastes as good as hers. I could drink it by the gallon.

But the funniest part is how whenever we are in Lubbock we always stop by somewhere to get something to drink. But it can't be just anywhere. It has to be somewhere with "good ice". So most often it's Sonic but many times we also stop at Taco Villa. And if you aren't in Lubbock and someone is there and headed home they will call you and say...."I'm headed home, would you like a Coke?" ..."Sure, bring me a Cherry Lime...".....LOL...(if you didn't get that, everything in the South is a Coke - don't you dare say Soda or Pop or Heaven forbid - Soda Pop....Everything is Coke...)

But back the ice....The ice that they have at Sonic and Taco Villa is made with Reverse Osmosis....Now I am not even going to try to explain how it works. The only reason I even know the name is because last year when I was in Texas photographing homes for my nephew Chuck he had built a home that had a Reverse Osmosis Ice maker in the outside kitchen by the pool!! I can't even imagine!! If someone were to ask me what is the one appliance that you dream of having - that would be it without a doubt! To have access to "good ice" all the time....Life would be blissful!!

Now although I can't explain the process of how it's made I will try to explain why we love it so much. The ice is made by going through a straw like tube...so when it comes out is in the small pieces. But it is the texture that is the best. It is perfect ice for eating. If Goldylocks had an ice preference this would be the one - because it is not to hard and it's not to soft.....it's "just right"!!

But almost as important as the ice would be the styrofoam cups. (lol...you never believed that anyone's life would be crazy enough to think that blogging about ice and styrofoam cups would be entertaining did you...LOL) But honestly without those cups it just wouldn't be the same. The styrofoam holds the cold in so your drink/ice will last for hours....Or until you hit the next Sonic. But it would have to hold the cold seeing as how I don't think I have ever even seen a small cup in Texas. They are HUGE!!! But it is Texas ya know...

I have a theory about Lubbock's obsession with "good ice" and styrofoam cups and beverages all together.. I say that it is because for most of the year it is so unbelievably hot that an ice cold Vanilla Dr. Pepper from Sonic or a Pink Panther from the Dixie Dog just hits the spot. And if you have to drink that much liquid to stay cool then it might as well be an "Event".

Now I know that I will get slack from my other friends all over that will whine and complain that I am biased about this being a Lubbock thing. I realize that we aren't the only ones that are insane about our beverages....But I would think it would be safe to say that many of my readers did live in or around Lubbock at one time or another and that probably led to your beverage addiction....LOL...

Well, today I dream for you the chance to appreciate "good ice"....If only I were so lucky to enjoy it today..sigh.....My closest Sonic is an hour away....which is better that the 5 hours that it was....progress..LOL..Have a good day friend....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

the white line


In 2005 I began what would be a short running career. By the end of 2007 I had run 3 half marathons and countless other 5 and 10k’s. Although I never even considered running before. I learned to love everything about it. The alone time with God. The way my body was beginning to tone up. The feeling of accomplishment after a race. But in the Fall of 2007 I decided to return to school after 19 years and thus my running shoes would begin to gather dust.
As I ran my races I began to notice that I was a creature of habit. As the race began and the crowd dispersed I was usually left behind. My body never believed me when I tried to convince it that we were runners. I would find my rythym and take my place on the white line at the side of the road. As I would run (using that term loosely) I began to think about the symbolism of that line and relate it to my journey with God.
I would think about how God’s plan for my life is like that line. It is there to protect and guide me. But along the way there are obstacles that will try to interfere with my goal. If I just keep my eyes on the line then I won’t lose my way. Along the way I come across curves and intersections…mud puddles and potholes...accidents in my path that bring me to a complete halt… And more times that I care to admit I get so confident that I believe I can do this on my own. I take my eyes off the line and look to the crowds around me to show me the way. But while the crowd begins to encompass me and I lose sight of my safe white line I get nervous and I look down to find that without even noticing I am now standing on a  yellow dotted line and I panic. It is easy to follow the yellow line with a crowd around you for safety but what about when I am all alone? What if this yellow line becomes my normal? I know people that choose the yellow line. They seem to be constantly weaving and ducking and ultimately getting injured only to crawl their way ahead to get up and do it again. I begin to yearn for my white line.
God has created us to draw near to Him. When we are closest to Him we feel safe and secure. We feel encouraged and hopeful. It is much too easy to follow the groups around us that lead us into sin. But He tells us to throw all of that off. Because when we are free of all that junk than we can RUN the race He marked out for us. There have actually been times during my “running career” where I felt like I was running. When I didn’t worry about how I looked or the people around me. Those are the times that I am the most at peace as a runner. That is the life that I long for. I want to know that He is guiding my steps. And we know that the medal at the end will be better than anything imaginable.
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw
 off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with
perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12: 1-2

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Morning Person

I think it's funny that I actually say this but I really love mornings. The reason I think it's funny is because I also really love sleep and I could set up camp in my bed for days. I think enjoying mornings has alot to do with my husband. He is without a question a morning person. He is able to get up at 5 am with a smile on his face and excited for the day. Someday I will have to blog about Rob's routines - hilarious!! But maybe that is why he is so happy. He's not stressed about what he's going to wear or eat for breakfast or any of that silly stuff.  Every morning he comes into our room and kisses me goodbye before he leaves....Did you notice - I am still in bed and have not gotten up to pack his lunch - Love That Part!!  I guess that is one reason my day starts off good. It's usually good until I have to pull D out of his bed to make sure he gets to the bus on time. But then it's back to being pretty good. Right now as we have discussed I am trying to get back into a routine. So I have started a new morning devotional that I do while I sit at the table drinking my Protein Shake (with Vanilla Almond Milk and Strawberries that I picked and froze this Spring...Yummy)

The devotional that I am using is a book that I got at the Women of Faith conference. It is by Patsy Clairmont who is one of my favorite authors and speakers. I can  relate to Patsy in so many ways. The obvious is her lack of height. I think she is a little less that 5' and I am only 5'2" so when she tells stories about living in a world not made for short people I feel a kind of sisterhood...LOL....The book is called Kaleidoscope and is about the book of Proverbs. She talks about how Proverbs basically has everything you need to know about life in it. But you may not ever see it until you need it. One day you may read something one way and a few years later when you combine it with events in your life it fits in a different way.....Just Beautiful!!

I am loving my morning devotional time again. I find myself drawing closer and closer to Him and it is such a good feeling. I am in a book club with some friends and we are reading the book "The Help". In the book one of the ladies talks quite a bit about writing out her prayers. She comments that writing them down allows her to connect with God more. I must agree but sometimes it's hard to write things out. It's like when you write it out than you really have to mean it. There are things in my life that I just don't want to deal with and I want to pretend they aren't affecting me. So when I pray, it is easy to throw up a Please Be With....... and then go onto the next thing. But when you write it out then it twists at your insides. It's like you have to confront it. Honestly it's not fun but it is the only way I know how to be real with God.

I say that this is my morning routine and yet already I was thrown off...This morning Rob needed a ride to town at 7:00 am to get the semi and so by the time I took him there while drinking my Protein shake, got back home, decorated my house with my Fall stuff (does that surprise you?) straightened up a little and now doing my blog my day is already messed up. It seems like it's a constant struggle with me...Routine...Consistency....hhmmm

Well, I had better wrap it up so I can get some things done around here. Today I dream for you Happy Mornings.....Are you a morning person.?....or are you one of those people that can't say a word until they have had their coffee?.... LOL...Well, no matter which one you are I am happy to have spent this time with you. Have a beautiful day friend....
 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Living Guilt Free


Life has been so busy lately. Whenever I think it is going to slow down I am usually wrong. In the last month I spent the week in Texas with my family. While I was there I also had the opportunity to sit at the hospital with one of my best friends growing up. Her grandson had just been born and ultimately would not make it..(so emotional) - got home for 1 day and then left for Milwaukee for the Women of Faith conference for 3 days with one of my best friends and some quality time with Becca - a few days later I spoke at the Hospital Foundation Brunch and then that evening I had a wonderful time with friends at the Overture Center seeing Wicked ...but didn't get home until 1 am...(yawn...) - next day was filled with feeding Remedy Drive and 2 other bands and then worshiping...I didn't leave the High School until after 11:00.....so on Saturday I finally hit a wall. I never even left the house. I just sat on the couch and watched movies and worked on the computer...which was a mixture of joy and alot of guilt....There were things that I should have been doing that day. I missed a birthday party for a friend and I didn't go help clean the church for our Big Sunday. But honestly I just couldn't find it within myself to do Anything!!!


Guilt probably robs me of more of my life than anything else. Whenever I am doing one thing I feel like I should be doing something else...so instead of being in the moment my mind wanders to what I feel that I should be doing. While I was in Texas I felt guilty that I wasn't here at home... While I was in Madison with my friends I felt that I shouldn't have spent the money....At the Foundation Brunch I felt guilty that I didn't invite more people....Guilt...Guilt...Guilt....Just like right now...I feel guilty that I haven't exercised yet, that I plan on exercising before I do bookwork, that I didn't do bookwork yesterday, that I am blogging when I have other stuff to do...ahhhhhh....it's exhausting.


For the last week I have been doing my Sidetracked Home Executive cards. It has helped me in so many ways. This morning I was talking to my sister Debbie about our cards. I was saying how they have spurred me on to organize other areas of my life. And then she was saying that she believed that the reason it helps us so much is because it gives us focus...Thus the name Sidetracked Home Executives....When I am left to do things on my own I walk into one room to clean and then see something that belongs somewhere else and so I take it to where it belongs...and then an hour later I am sitting in the middle of a mess that I never intended on conquering that day. I need focus in my life...It has helped me get my health/weight loss back on track...my finances....and it has helped my relationship with God in countless ways. Like I said earlier I am prone to guilt. And when I feel guilt I hide from God. I feel that I am disappointing Him and others around me. But when I don't give Satan the satisfaction of using guilt in my life I am free to spend time being real with God.


Today is going to be a good day...are there reasons that it shouldn't be...Absolutely! Do alot of those reasons have to do with guilt? Yep, most of them do....I should have gotten Becca's package in the mail already, and  then there is the B-day card on the counter that will probably be late, and there is the call that I should really make to my mom, there is the freezer that needs defrosted so the Locker will quit calling me to come pick up our beef, guilt that I haven't sent in my article for the blog that is looking for me to be a guest writer.....lots of stuff.....But I have to choose that it will be a good day because if I don't then I will just go into a heap and be no good for anyone....including myself...


Today I dream for you a day free of guilt....A day to live in each moment fully encompassing everything that you do...enjoy in for what it is and savor each and every moment....Live your day believing that Guilt is not of God....and that a day free of Guilt is a day closer to Him....


Have a blessed day my friends...


1 Peter 5: 6-11


Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. 11 To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Autumn in Wisconsin.....



What a wonderful day!!! It was a perfect Wisconsin Fall day....I tried my hardest not to think of the fact that days like this only mean that we are all that closer to Wisconsin Winter. Autumn is by far my favorite season since I have moved here. One of my biggest joys is standing in my kitchen with a glass of iced tea, the smell of fresh baking cookies in the oven and my favorite music filling every room. And looking out my open windows at the vibrant colors of browns, oranges and yellows...How can one help but smile??...  

Yesterday as I was driving back to my house from town and I was taken back to my first few years of living in Richland County.  I was driving Paul out to my house so that he could use my Jeep for awhile. He is one of the band members of Remedy Drive, a Christian Rock group that was performing for our community.  He was going to take his wife and their little girl  to do some sightseeing around the area.  Then they would pick me up later before the concert. It was so fun listening to all the comments that they made at how beautiful the area is. He and his wife both commented that they could see themselves living here.....What makes me sad is how easy it is to forget to look around and be appreciative for the gifts that God gives. Sometimes it takes seeing things through someone else's eyes to  remind us.

I am so very thankful for where I grew up. West Texas has it's own unique beauty. Sometimes you have to use more of your imagination but it is there nonetheless...LOL... There are the most incredible sunsets with such an assortment of colors. And you have not witnessed a exquisite starry night until you have layed on a the roof of a car in the middle of a cotton field in the darkness. Breathtaking!! You are literally surrounded by tiny sparkling lights. You can't help but smile and take a deep breath and ultimately feel closer to God. Then of course there are the West Texas storms. Although they are my least favorite things about West Texas, there is a definite beauty in being able to watch an oncoming storm for miles and miles away. And then the smell of the dirt mixed with rain and the crispness in the air as it closes in.....

I have traveled my fare share in my 40 years and I must say everywhere that I have been offered a unique beauty....God never ceases to amaze me at His creativity. It is impossible for me to pick a favorite. The mountains in Oregon were incredible. Swimming in the Mineral Springs in California were like nothing else I have experienced. But some of my favorite things have been star gazing on a mountain top in Hawaii and with my uncle in Pennsylvania on our way home from our day in New York City...Florida was more difficult to see God's work in the landscape but the people were wonderful. And of course there is Jamaica......That is where I am closest to God. So it is impossible to pick one area where I am more impressed with His awesome work while I am on the island. So much of that is because I am more relaxed while I am there.

LOL....as I write this I just can't help but think about the fact that yes it is absolutely God's beauty that warms my soul. But as I look back to every place that I have I have visited the beauty is actually a backdrop to the people that I am with....Sven and Deanna in Oregon... Scott and Kim in Michigan... all my family in Texas... Uncle Lynn in Pennsylvania...Florida with Carla and Bill... Bryan and Nichole and all my kids at the orphanage in Jamaica....Becca, Dustin, Rob, Nadine, Kurt and Andi in Hawaii...and then sharing the beauty of Richland County with all of my wonderful friends on a daily basis.....oh my I could go on and on....I am not only blessed to have seen so much of His creation but I have been so blessed to have shared it with some of the most wonderful people...sigh.....

Wow....that was fun visiting all those places in my mind....remembering how blessed I am at the incredible people that I am surrounded by....I know I didn't mention everyone that I have shared traveling memories with but I promise you that I know they are all special....I would love to hear some of your memories of times we shared together that you recall as well.....fun!!!

Well so let's see....I guess I dream for you the chance to stop and notice His creativity.....in the landscape that surrounds you....in the people that He places in your life....in the simple joy of a pumpkin spice cookie and a glass of iced tea....He is an Incredible God!!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

For Good.......Wicked

Last night I went to see Wicked with a group of women. It was such a good night with great conversation and so relaxing. I had actually seen the performance in Chicago a few years ago with my acting class and was very excited to get to see it again. My kids and I love the music. I had the CD and over time I have no idea where it ended up so I had to pick up a new one last night. I was telling my friend Destiny that one of favorite songs is Popular...mainly because there is nothing like walking into your 15 yr old son's room and listening to him belt it out with a pair of headphones on....Adorable!!! And of course there is Defying Gravity. One of these days I really want to blog on that song and how it impacted my life when I heard it for the first time. But last night the song that hit me the hardest was For Good....I was listening and tears were streaming from my face....It just hit me hard and made me go to a place in my heart that continues to follow me. I could go through it all and disect it but I think for one thing it's okay that it stays in my head(I know shocking huh?)....and for another thing I am out the door for a day of running around (imagine that?) Today Remedy Drive and 2 other bands are in town to raise money for our SOUL kitchen (Serving Others with Unconditional Love) So I am in charge of Lunch and Supper so I really have to go but just wanted to get this posted....

Well I hope that you enjoy this song...and if you get a moment to look up the other ones to I am sure that you will enjoy them too.

Today I have a dream for myself............... that others would say that because they knew me that there lives were changed for good.........sigh....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SmAPhy7WaQs&feature=related
(Elphaba):
Im limited
Just look at me - Im limited
And just look at you
You can do all I couldn't do, Glinda
So now it's up to you
For both of us - now it's up to you...

(Glinda):
I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

(Elphaba):
It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you

(Glinda):
Because I knew you

(Both):
I have been changed for good

(Elphaba):
And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness
For the things I've done you blame me for

(Glinda):
But then, I guess we know
There's blame to share

(Both):
And none of it seems to matter anymore
(Both):
And none of it seems to matter anymore

(Glinda):
Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood

(Elphaba):
Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a bird in the wood

(Both):
Who can say if I've been
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better

(Glinda):
And because I knew you...

(Elphaba):
Because I knew you...

(Both):
Because I knew you...
I have been changed for good...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What I didn't do today.....

My pile of laundry that needs ironed....
This morning I ran across a blog that I am sure will become a favorite. http://smalltownsimplicity.blogspot.com/2010/10/authenticity-what-i-didnt-do-today.html
Lydia posted that as bloggers it is easy for us to write about the positive moments in our lives. The ones where things are going wonderful. The perfect meals that we make or the accomplishments of our kids. She challenged us to write today about AUTHENTICITY: What I didn't do today.....I Love the idea!! Not because I don't already do that. In fact if you have been around me at all you will notice that I am the first to put my faults out there. The one to tell you about how I frequently get lost or can not, no matter how hard I try, remember my children's times of birth or birth weight....LOL...

I think it is very healthy to laugh at the silly parts of our lives. But this article made me think about a short conversation that I had with my Great Niece while she was here this summer. She has always been "funny". She loves to make people laugh. But at one point I told her that it is fine to tell things about yourself that make people laugh. But I cautioned her to never put herself in a position to make herself seem "dumb". We all make mistakes and do silly things. And it is wonderful if you can use that stuff in a story that will make others relate and laugh. But it is a totally different thing to use those things in a way that degrade yourself and make yourself seem "lower" than the person you are talking to.

Part of me thinks that I would love to live a perfect life. Where there wasn't a mountain of laundry in my laundry room. Where I balanced my checkbook more than once a year. Where there wasn't spots of dog urine covering my whole living room carpet....But in reality I Love my life!! I am not lying when I say that there are many times where I literally laugh out loud about parts of my life...okay maybe not the dog urine, but most things I really do laugh about.

So I thought I would share a few of them with you from just the past few days to give you a taste of my day to day life...enjoy....

  • I slept through my alarm clock yesterday morning. That meant that I didn't make sure my 15 year old was out of bed and ready for school. I was awoken by the slamming of the door as he ran outside to get into the Jeep  and take it down the hill only to see the bus driving away. So he followed the bus to the next stop which was about a mile and a half and left the Jeep in a friend's driveway...Then called me to tell me what had happened and we decided it was best for both of us not to inform Dad about this whole scenario....(yes, my 15 year old was driving down the road unaccompanied with no license.....do you see why he would call me and not his dad....LOL!! - I'll blog more on the significance of  that when my kids are a little older...LOL!!)
  • I didn't blog yesterday. After shutting my tv off for 6 months I finally turned it back on so I was like a little kid. There were so many things that I had forgotten about (like how to turn it on - so I had to call Dish and have them talk me through it ...I really miss my teenagers being around). 
  • I didn't stick to my eating plan....at all!!!..When I was in Texas my sister Debbie and I  bought blue jeans that were to small for us. Our goal is to be able to fit into them by Christmas. In my head I have great plans and really want to get fit again. I was doing so good before my surgery but since then I have just lost all momentum. So yesterday I finished off a bag of chocolates that my friend Shari had gotten me, a piece of pumpkin pie and a multitude of other "non healthy" foods.
  • I didn't clean the woodstove even though it was on my list of things to do. Someone had misplaced the handle to our woodstove. I have looked for it for months. Finally yesterday I called to order a new one. After explaining the whole thing to the gentleman that works there...(who just happens to be my cousin that I thought was a customer there and got on the phone to mess with me. It seems that somehow along the way I didn't realize that he had worked there since the beginning of the summer....aaarrghhh...oh my silly head....) He told me he would look up the info and call me back. As soon as I hung up the phone I walked into the Family Room and moved the recliner to find it lying there on the floor. I quickly called him back and explained my joy and apologized for the inconvenience! I then walked over to the woodstove to carefully open it up. You see my daughter had been telling us for weeks that she had been hearing something living inside there. As I opened it I see a bat lying in the ashes - luckily not moving...EEKKKK! Quickly closed the door and left that job for the hubby.

Honestly I could go on and on and on and on......LOL... But I want to encourage you to live in your Authenticity.... Absolutely be proud when you cross things off your list.... Sing praises about your spouse and your children and your accomplishments....Take a dozen pictures of that 4 layer chocolate caramel cake...(and then send me a piece...lol..) Thank God for the blessings He gives. But be honest about your iimperfections. There has to be a balance in your life. If you can laugh at your mistakes then others will be able to find you relatable. If you are only one way or the other people will shy away. As much as it is difficult to be around people that believe they are perfect it is just as hard to be around people that you feel like you have to "take care of". That their life is one crisis after another....Balance....

So today my friend I dream for you a chance to laugh at yourself. As you sit in you pj's and it's 2 in the afternoon remember that no one is perfect. Or if it means you mess up and have to order a candy bokay to say your sorry for something that you did it is really okay. Life goes on....Look around at the blessings you have and remember that He has not left His throne....Have a Wonderful day!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sidetracked Home Executives....





Monday......hmmmm.....poor Monday takes on alot of pressure from me...Not to mention that it is the first Monday of the month. My life has been a whirlwind for months now and I feel like everything is all over the place and I am constantly grabbing at things trying to get some kind of control. I have this image of being one of those people in a clear booth with hundred dollar bills all around my feet and a huge fan is turned on. Their job is to catch and hold on to as many as they can....Their adrenaline is pumping and they are reaching and grabbing and coming up with new ways to get everything they can in a short amount of time...In the meantime anyone watching from the outside sees how utterly  absurd they look but it does provide some comic relief....

My latest form of organization is my Sidetracked Home Executive (SHE) card system. I have spent Days redoing them in hopes that I can finally stick to it. I think I have been attempting this for about 22 years now with my sister Debbie and is actually my favorite organizational tool. The SHE system requires me to put EVERY job in my home on a 3x5 index card....loading the DW, cleaning my toilet, making my bed, cleaning my garage....Then I put on each card the approximate time it should take to complete it...Mini Jobs are 5 min or less...All jobs are color coded from Daily, Every other Day, Weekly, Every other Week, Monthly, Every other Month, Seasonally and Yearly. Then I have dividers for each month and days 1-31. I spread out all days of the month and begin to sort of the jobs that I plan to do on those days....I have also planned my weeks according to the time I have available....small cleaning days, large cleaning days, no cleaning days, town days, bookwork days.....So as I am filling up the days with jobs I know which ones I can put more and which I should put less.

What I love about the system is that it gives me closure. Anyone knows that taking care of your home is endless. There is Always something to do. But with SHE there are endings. When I have all my cards done for the day I am DONE. I am free to do other things without guilt. I may know that the coat closet needs cleaned but I know that I will get to it next week sometime and it causes me less stress.

I also am adding other things to my file. I have a card at the beginning of each month with a list of birthdays and so I have a day where I make out cards all at once for the month. Each morning as I lay out all my cards on the counter I also have another ongoing list. Things that don't need to be on cards but need to get done...calls I need to make or appts not to forget....

Another area that I am adding this time is a health section...I am making 3x5 cards for each meal I make and putting the nutritional info on the back so that when I go to journal my food everything is already there. While I increase my number of cards it will also help with meal planning. In the morning I can just grab the cards I want for the day and know how many calories I will have. I also have always made sure that I have cards for Exercise, Bible Study, Vitamins.....anything that I struggle with getting time to fit in or just not making a priority....when I see them there day after day I finally get into the habit of Just getting them done so they aren't staring at me all day...

It takes awhile to fully get into the swing of things and work out the kinks. Everyones lives are different so you have to make it work for you and your family. I am really going to work on making this a real part of my life and staying with it. My life is so much less chaotic when I follow this system....If you have any questions about any of this just let me know. I am also thinking about teaching a class on how to set this system up. I would like to know if anyone would be interested in learning more about it....

Well my friends today I dream for you a day of getting things accomplished in a non chaotic manner. I dream that your evening would be spent sitting at the dinner table with your family in surrounded by a clean home and no guilt......sigh.........sounds like Heaven doesn't it......Okay - well, I have to get off of my computer and finish making my cards so I can sort them and finally get something accomplished....because that life sounds Wonderful to me....Have a wonderful day friends....