I suppose I have something to blog about now….

I want to start this by saying that I wish I had done things differently.

Not that it would have a different outcome – but, who knows? or it would have been discovered sooner. Seriously though – I can’t allow myself but a brief thought to even think of the “what if’s”. I’m not going to sit and cry and get angry and ask, “why me?” because the answer to that is – Why anyone???

I would have to say that my story starts back in 2000. But the fact that we hadn’t used birth control since our son was around 2-2 ½ and he was about 9 at this time – I think it started even earlier. But what I call “period problems” started back in Spring of 2000. I would start my period and the heavy bleeding would happen for about 2 weeks – and it would start again in about 2 ½ weeks. The heaviness didn’t concern me – but the fact that it went on for weeks did (not to mention extremely annoying!)

My ob/gyn was located about 30 minutes away – but it wasn’t the drive that was so difficult – it was getting in to see him – I had tried to make an appointment but it had to be scheduled a month out so I told them I’d see someone locally. Let me interject that I had been very good at getting yearly paps done and none had come back with abnormal results.

I had asked my co-workers about other doctors in town and had a few recommend this woman doctor (no feminist judging – I had just only been to male doctors) I went in – told her the issues I had been having – along with a lot of pain with cramping and back pain. (I wasn’t bleeding at the time) She had me do a pee test and said I had a urinary tract infection, a bladder infection and kidney infection (which was a shock to me since I had NEVER had any of those before!) she prescribed me some meds and said to come back if not better in 10 days.

So I was back in 10 days.

She had me do another pee test – I told her I was still in a lot of pain and she proceeded to tell me that I am only there to seek medication and she’s not going to give it to me. (Unfortunately at that time I was still young and would shut up when people talked down to me so I didn’t speak up or scream back like I wanted to) I told her that I wasn’t – that I didn’t go to the doctor unless I really felt like it was bad and I had to. She told me my white cell count was a little elevated but she wouldn’t give me anything. So I left.

I later made an appointment with my usual doctor – again, having to wait about a month – so the bleeding went on again. By the time I had my appointment it had been happening for at least several months. I told my doctor – who listened to me and showed concern – he ordered a slew of tests – including my first ever transvag ultrasound – xrays – and I don’t even know what lab work. I appreciated that he listened and agreed it wasn’t right and was looking for what was wrong.

He had decided the best route would be a hormone induced d&c – so basically I took about 2-3 months’ worth of birth control pills (within 2 weeks’ time) – followed up by 5 days of hormone pills – he said to be prepared because it would be a massive bleed when I finished with the medications. I wasn’t looking forward to it happening – but I didn’t have to worry about it – because it never did.

Leon urged me to go the doctor since it didn’t happen – but within just a couple week’s we were leaving to take the kids from church on our first trip to church camp – and being a teen girl who went to camp every summer – having your period is not something you want to happen. So I decided to wait until I got back from Texas.

It only took 2 days.

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I had to go to the bathroom – which was right across the hall from our bedroom. I got up – hurting quite a bit – I tried to sit down and realized it wasn’t going to happen. I could barely move. Hunched over in excruciating pain I made it across the hall, flipped on the light and told Leon I needed to go the hospital because I thought I was dying. It was about 3am – by 9 am I was out of emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy. I had lost a baby (that we had tried so desperately to have for so many years as well as my right fallopian tube.

I had the surgery at Bates Hospital here in Bentonville and the doctor who performed the surgery that night became my follow-up doctor for the next year or so. When my period resumed – it was what I would think is what other people’s normal is – but for me, it was less than normal – a lot less blood, clots, pain and lasted only a week. Until the next one – it was back full force like before – I went in to see the doctor and he prescribed some hormone pills (just as I had before) and it made it stop – less than a month later, resuming – so I did this merry-go-round a couple times before Dr Papageorge asked me if we wanted to get pregnant again because it would determine the route that we would take to make all this stop. Of course we told him yes…..we had been praying for a baby girl for so many years.

So he placed me on Clomid – a fertility drug – and I took that for several months – but oh goodness, it really messed with me and I finally had to stop it. A few months later though, we found out that I was pregnant!

After the pregnancy – I had another pap – again, no abnormal results.

And that was my last one until 2008. I had 3 weeks back to back of church camp and although my periods were no longer 2 weeks long and less than what they were – I didn’t want to mess with it at camp. I went in for birth control pills to take for a couple of months so I could skip my period while at camp. Again, no abnormal results.

But……that was the last pap I had until last week.

I don’t even remember how many years between 2008 and 2014 that I have had period problems again – it started out with cramping – and then it got heavier large amount of clots, painful periods – lots of cramping – and back pain. I would say at least 3 years – the past year being the worst pain-wise. If it wasn’t for working at home – I would have probably lost my job because I’ve had days where it hurt to function – I learned that taking a couple of Tylenol or ibuprofen everyday it would make it tolerable. This year, the pain in my lower back was so bad I would have to start taking it about a week before my period started, the week of and then at least several days – if not the week after. So most of the time, I was feeling bloating, pain in the lower back or cramps. It hasn’t been fun.

So – I know what you’re thinking – why didn’t I go back to the doctor??

I don’t know!

Well, I guess I do – I was embarrassed to go to another new doctor – my husband would always tell me it’s not a big deal – but being naked from the waist down, your booty so close to the edge of the table you’re one slight move from being on the floor – and your feet in stirrups and your knees spread eagle – oh, and a spotlight right on you – yeah….not really something to look forward to (and if it is – you have serious issues!) but all kidding aside, I know, it’s a serious thing – and I know, I should have been going. I also didn’t realize just how not normal my normal was – until I opened up about it to some friends both online and in person.

They had urged me to go to the doctor – and I tried to get ahold of Dr Papageorge and found out he was no longer in the area – so then the hunt for a new doctor began. I asked around (leery of my first experience of this!) and was recommend to Dr Amber Sills. I had decided to make an appointment – but I procrastinated and then my husband left his job after almost 24 years – and we no longer had insurance. During the time my husband has been home (since October last year) I think he could see that I was in pain every cycle. He brought me home some Midol Extended Relief one day and I found that it worked pretty well at lessening the blood flow and the pain was easier to handle.

We finally got our insurance back in May, I think – and after talking to my friends again and hearing from my Dad’s sister about my paternal medical history – which also included a lot of woman issues (my mom and sister had problems in the past) From talking about my symptoms they all made me think that maybe I had endometriosis. I finally made an appointment with Dr. Sills in August. I had noticed before – maybe earlier in the year – I really can’t remember – that when I sat with my legs crossed I would have an indention from my other leg on the one it rested on. If I wore short socks – it would leave the mark around the ankle – but my mark would be indented quite a bit and would stay there for several hours. At first I showed Leon and asked him if it looked like I had a dent – I thought maybe it was from having Rickets as a baby….or some weird “hey, look what I can do” thing – I never knew it was not a good sign.

I woke up at the end of July and where my foot had been resting on my shin in my sleep was a large round indention – this was so deeply indented that I realized that this was not some crazy quirk – it was something else. That morning we went to my mom’s and while telling her about it (the indent lasted a couple hours after I woke up) I grabbed my shin to pull my leg up to show her where it was and I left finger marks in my shin – it was like a memory foam leg…..and then I tried it on the other leg – and it did the same thing. She told me that it was something serious – a result of something and I needed to see a doctor. I told her I would since it was concerning me.

By later that night I had this rash all over me – later I’d realize it was not hives like I thought – but I got into chiggers badly at my mom’s. (Literally 75 bites on my waist, groin area!) I decided on Monday I would go to Well Quest here in town.

Last year I had went to Well Quest for blood work for anemia. I have had issues with anemia since I was young – and I have always been able to tell when my iron was low because I’d bruise easy and get cold and not have much energy. I’ve never had to be prescribed iron pills except for when I was pregnant with Natalie since Dr. Papageorge determined I was anemic.

This time, last July – I had no energy. I was always freezing – bruising – I literally could not get enough sleep. I’d go to bed as soon as all my childcare kiddos were gone home and I’d sleep all night and wake up exhausted. It took everything I had to function. I knew that my iron was probably very low. I was right. Leon had prepped me to let them know my history and to find out what was causing me to be so anemic – but I didn’t even get a doctor visit – I had the lab work done, they called and said doctor said that my iron was low and called me in a prescription for iron pills – 3 months supply and to come back for follow up testing. The 3 months ended just the same time as my husband’s job. So I didn’t go back – until this visit with the odd thing with my legs (which was pitting edema) I had also noticed that weekend that I was very bloated. So much that my jeans barely fastened – and were so tight – as well as my shoes – I had to wear flip-flops to church.

I meet with the doctor – who honestly – was nice – at first – but by the end he was blowing me off and I was so upset! I explained what was going on – his response was that “most women have swelling” and “it’s not the worst I’ve seen” and basically told me to take water pills. I mentioned I thought my iron was low again and I should have it checked. He looked at my chart and told me that I was in this time last year for same thing and how I never followed up like I was supposed to. When I told him that we lost our insurance due to my husband leaving his job – he made a sarcastic remark about “we have money for new phones (my phone – almost 3 years old and a shattered screen was sitting on the exam table) and money for this and that – but not to go to the doctor” I wanted to punch him so badly at that moment!! He told me someone would be in for a shot, they would have the blood drawn and then left – didn’t see him again (although I did call and complain about him today!!)

I got the results back later that next week. They said everything looked ok – I was surprised at this because I could tell my body was not happy about something!….not even considering the whole period problems! I brought up the iron – she told me that it was on the low end but not the lowest (37 and that 35 was lowest) and so I was within range. I asked what it was last year – she said 44 – and that it had dropped a few but again, within range – so encouraged me to “eat iron enriched foods” – I asked about the other numbers and she said it all looked good (I knew that they had tested for thyroid also) I asked about the pitting edema – I was told “it’s normal in women” I told her it wasn’t normal for me – and again was told to take some water pills.

I hung up the phone confused. One because my iron was lower than it was before when they prescribed iron therapy – but this time I’m just to eat iron enriched foods…..???? and plus it didn’t answer why my legs were doing this – and why I was so bloated. I didn’t buy the “most women do” theory. Leon made sure that I would ask questions and be open and honest with the ob/gyn when I went to see her. I promised him I would.

I felt like I was being a hypochondriac listing out all these complaints – I just knew she was going to look at me and say ok and brush me off. She didn’t. I went in for my pap – fully expecting the pap but not expecting her to do a uterine biopsy also. That was a first – and painful….and caused several days of back pain and cramps and bleeding (which I was just so happy about since the week before I finally stopped my period) After the biopsy she did a breast exam (I was somewhat expecting but not sure) and she told me that she was scheduling me for an ultrasound and a mammogram. I told her I almost called and canceled the appointment but she told me that she was glad I didn’t and that when I came back for the ultrasound the next week she would have the results back.

So in the meantime, I get to be all nervous. But again, I felt like either she would end up telling me in a few days that it’s all in my head – I have nothing wrong – or that I had endometriosis and worst case scenario – I would ask for a hysterectomy or whatever necessary to make all the pain and heavy periods stop. The nurse had asked me before the biopsy and pap if I was interested in just taking birth control to make the flow lighter – and I told her no – I hate taking medications and I didn’t want to have to remember to take pills – I wanted something to take care of whatever is wrong – not provide a cover for it.

So the wait began……

Me & my family the day after Pap/Biopsy - my 42nd birthday

Me & my family the day after Pap/Biopsy – my 42nd birthday

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It’s Time to Drop the Stones

I’ve had a lot on my mind lately and I’ve thought about coming here to post about it but in true inconsistent form, I’ve let a month slide by first.

One of the things that’s been bothering me the most is this that it seems to be acceptable to verbally and emotionally stone someone in the guise of Sinner and Saint and let all your friends/family/church members join in the process and as long as you can justify it and not let them have a voice to defend themselves, it’s okay. 

Being the subject of this in the past, I can honestly say that it is very damaging to the spirit and soul and it’s makes it hard to trust people – especially those in the church. The church  are the ones that you would have thought would be the ones you could turn to for support and encouragement during a time like this – not the ones picking up the first stones.

I suppose this is why I’ve had several people come to me about their very public stoning. It may have been behind closed doors when it happened, but thanks to the very large circle of influences, it became public quickly.

I remember about a decade ago a conversation between me and a former youth pastor. We were talking about a particular church that had an actual “do not associate” list. How can the people who are supposed to be “the Light of the World”, who were told to “love your neighbor”, “Love one another”, have a list of people that they were not to speak or associate with? That contradicts everything that they profess. This is where the world views the church as hypocrites, and really, that’s where you can’t argue with them, because it becomes true.  

Don’t get me wrong!!! I am NOT church bashing, I am not Christian bashing. I am simply saying, that in my personal opinion (remember, this is MY blog 😉  that you can’t claim to be a Christian and be about loving people and cut down those who don’t fit into your circle….or, decide that someone is no longer worthy of your attention and those around you and (let’s call it what it is) bully everyone else to disregard them from their lives as well. 

***Let me also clarify that it’s not only Christians who do this – it’s just more hurtful and disappointing when it’s from them – you expect it from those in the world.

Not only have I had to deal with this (haven’t we all at some point?) I’ve had this happen so many times here in the last several months – to friends and family members. 

Below is a copy of a facebook post that I wrote back in June on the subject….I had just been at a gathering where I was constantly being told about how terrible a person was (of course they weren’t there to defend themselves) and then the following week I was called and told not to talk to them….this is when the post came about…..several weeks after talking to a good friend who was told they were no longer acceptable and a few months after I was confronted for being a friend to someone else that had been deemed unworthy.

I suppose you can just say that I’m a friend to the end. I’m a deeply loyal person, I’m willing to drop everything and help a friend in need, I’m a shoulder to cry on, a source of laughter and encouragement, or if needed, an ear to just listen (over a cup of coffee is my preference!) I rarely cut a friend off – unless they continually show disrespect/broken trust….to me, that’s the deal breaker, otherwise, it doesn’t matter how much time goes by, a friend in need, is really a friend indeed 🙂   I’m sure some of this below is repetitive but I’ll just copy/paste as is….no need to change anything, my viewpoint is the same. Bottom line, it’s time for us to drop the stones, stoop down off our pedestals, and help those we’ve knocked down get back up, brush off, and show them true love. 

********** REPOST FROM FACEBOOK *************

 

Again today I was asked by someone why I would want to talk to a certain person because everyone else in a particular group aren’t since they don’t like their current behavior. 

Ugh. 
Really? 
I just don’t get it.
It seems like every week someone else has told me about how someone shouldn’t be associated with/talked to/hang out with because of the way they talk/dress/actions/attitude/lifestyle/what they drink/the movies they watch/their choice of drinks/foods/religion/political opinions/parenting style/the way they take their coffee (okay, so I threw the last one in  but you get what I mean, right?) 

I guess I will say it again (as if I didn’t mean it the first time) I may disconnect myself from a friend or family because of abuse, violence, or dramatics but I will not disconnect myself (at the request of someone else) because they are doing something I don’t approve of. Hello…..that’s called love.

Now, (in my opinion) where the issue is here, is that some people get love confused with like – and they think that they have to accept everything in their lives to love them…..and while I’m here, I’ll say that just because you don’t agree with someone it DOES NOT mean that you are intolerant! (I’m personally sick of hearing the word “intolerance” because it really gets misused! Not approving of something about someone is NOT being intolerant or a hater, it means you simply don’t like something….does NOT mean that they don’t love that person!) 

(Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I may love all my friends and family, but I don’t like them all. (no pointing fingers because I’m not naming names!) There’s some that I flat out, absolutely do not agree with something in their life….however, the thing is, I choose to love them anyway. I don’t agree with it, but I don’t see how my choosing to disconnect them from my life will “show them the error of their ways” 

*I’m having flashbacks to being a teenager and my mom punishing me for something I did….yeahhhhh, that ALWAYS made me want to jump up and say “You’re the best mom ever! Thanks for showing me how wrong I am and teaching me a lesson! I have decided I want to do exactly what you tell me to! * Heck no! I would keep my mouth shut and be angry – the last thing I wanted to do was what she wanted me to – In some cases, I’d actually do the opposite of what she said “just to show her I could”. (I know, rebellious teen phase! – sorry Mom!)

My point is (with a little dramatic flair added) I can’t think of a time when telling a friend or family member that I am going to have nothing to do with you and when you decide I know better than you, and you get your life in line with the way I say it should be, I will decide if I deem you acceptable to come back into my circle – has worked. Maybe there’s times it does, but I really can’t vouch for it. The times that I’ve cut someone out of my life has been mostly due to a betrayal of trust….not because I can’t separate love/like. If the acceptable behavior is to cut these people out of our lives….exactly who are they going to turn to when they need help? When they need someone to care for them? When they have no where else to turn? I don’t see them running to the one who turned their back on them. 

I say all this because I’m reminded of the sign on the side of the road in Louisiana Leon and I saw “We do not rent pigs” (another story – but it’s on my blog  ) Basically it was about letting people know what you don’t do. Well, I’ve said it. If you’re a friend or family member, Love you….in all your imperfect ways hahaha!! …trust me….that’s coming from my imperfect self! thanks for being my friend/family! 

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Where to Begin?

Hmph.

t’s been 3 months since I last vomited my thoughts all over this page. I have no excuses but I do have so many thoughts – which is why I felt the need to spill them.

Since my last post there’s been so much happening: the first anniversary of my Grandma’s death, the 4th anniversary of Kristan, Kimberly, Katie, Kaila and Kiya’s going to Heaven, my daughter turning 10 and visiting her middle school for next year, my son moving to Tulsa for an internship this summer, my other Grandma being in the hospital (still there), the Moore, OK tornado, the 2nd anniversary of the Joplin tornado, being healed from the pain and health trouble I’ve been having for a year or more, My husband’s work hours changing, finally being debt free again, talking to my dad more often, the breakup of my friends’ marriage, and the extreme disappointment of the reason why. With all this happening, it’s easy to wobble on the fence of overwhelmingness.

I came here today to just talk – with no real particular thought sticking out more than others, but after just sitting and putting it all down – I come up with the word stability.

Webster Dictionary defines stability/stable as: the strength to stand or endure, firmly established : fixed, steadfast, not changing or fluctuating : unvarying, permanent, enduring, steady in purpose, firm in resolution, not subject to insecurity or emotional illness : sane, rational, placed so as to resist forces tending to cause motion or change of motion : designed so as to develop forces that restore the original condition when disturbed from a condition of equilibrium or steady motion

A few scriptures that stick out to me:

Psalm 1:3 The Message (MSG)

2-3 Instead you thrill to God’s Word, you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month, Never dropping a leaf,
always in blossom.

Jeremiah 17:8

The Message (MSG)

7-8 “But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.

Jude 1:24 The Message (MSG)

24-25 And now to him who can keep you on your feet, standing tall in his bright presence, fresh and celebrating—to our one God, our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master, be glory, majesty, strength, and rule before all time, and now, and to the end of all time. Yes.

I’m not sitting here talking about stability as if it’s something I claimed to have always been. In fact, I can remember being very young and being an unstable, emotional little girl. Full of anger, resentment, and sadness but also full of hope that life wouldn’t always be this way.

I was thinking the other night that my daughter is going to be starting 5th grade this fall. I started to think back to when I was in 5th grade – not a happy time in my life. The anger between my stepdad and I was starting to surface and it was evidenced by my grades, lying and my hair falling out. Yeah, I think you can pretty much confirm that a child is stressed out to the max when their hair falls out and leaves a bald spot about the size of a baseball. It also opens up a whole other door – embarrassment and shame – so on top of all those other feelings I was dealing with – add the laughter and ridicule of my classmates and the low self-esteem of my own to it….oh, and visits to not only the school counselor – but to the office of a professional counselor who wanted to sit back in her chair with his ink pen tapping and ask you to tell him all about your feelings….but you can tell he cares nothing for you….I probably don’t have to say that didn’t end well.

This was also about the time that my mom started sending us to church on the church bus. We were picked up and dropped off at the little Baptist Church in Noel, MO. I remember my first church experience being filled with mixed emotions….the Pastor was a shorter overweight man that screamed a lot – his face would get so red – I just knew he would explode – I’d be paired with a little old lady for the service and I’d try to sneak away from her and lay underneath the pew and close my eyes – wondering what I’d do when the Pastor blew up.

I LOVED the Sunday School and the VBS. They really brought the Bible Stories (something that I never heard before) alive. There was a lesson on the Passover, and we sat in the little thatched roof huts, the teacher, an older man, dressed in robes and carrying a staff, and a whole spread of fruits and juice, water, and bread.  I remember thinking how awesome it was – and how I wanted to teach kids about the Bible when I got older and do it with stuff that they could remember it forever – because I knew that I would. It wasn’t long after this – when we moved to Anderson and my mom started taking us to Lanagan to Honeylake Union Church that she and I both became a Christian – it was Easter Sunday when I made that long walk to the front, crying.

(on a side note: I got the very first item with my name spelled right from the Baptist Church – the older man that taught my class and VBS that if we came each day during VBS he would make us a special surprise – he did leatherwork – and made this little coin purse wallet – it’s engraved with a cross on one side and my name: BOBBIE MITTS on the other….it’s one of my most prized possessions – not because I went to church 5 days in a row for it – but because receiving that gift with my name – was one of the nicest things anyone had ever done for me – and it was at a time in my life when I felt no one cared.)

I was saved in 5th grade. Not just in the spiritual sense – but the physical, the emotional and the mental aspects as well. Having a relationship with a Father in Heaven who loved me provided me the stability I longed for here on Earth but more than that, it provided me the strength to stand, to endure, when it seemed impossible.

Depression has had a stronghold on my family for generations. So many of my family members would have breakdowns and have to spend time in the hospital until they were stable enough to come back home and/or they’ve been on medications to help provide stability in their minds and body. It’s had a real grip on their lives and as a teenager, mine as well. I won’t get into the full story of that at the moment (maybe next post) but if it wasn’t for the stability of God, my life would have been over at this time.

I think back again to my daughter – soon-to-be-5th grader – and how different her life is than mine was and I’m so thankful for that. I’m thankful that I have a peace, that I have an anchor, that I know how to stand and be steadfast, unwavering. It’s not in my own strength – I had proven long ago that in my own strength, I’m nothing…..just a scared, angry little girl with a bald spot, clenched fist and grinding teeth.

I wish that I could share that peace with everyone I come in contact with – that they could experience it like I have – that it could literally change their life…provide stability – so that their emotions aren’t a roller coaster ride – up one day and down the next never knowing which turn will throw them a loop or turn them upside down at 80mph. I feel bad for people who live this way – but I don’t know who I feel worse for – the ones who have never experienced the peace of God, or the ones who have and choose to still leave life out of their emotions and in a constant state of instability.

As I think again about all the things that I’ve been living with the last few months – all I can say is “It is well, with my soul” My mind, will, and emotions could very easily be thrown into overdrive with all the emotional happenings, but I refuse to let it. I will stand strong and declare that I will come through this with peace – without dropping a leaf, and in full blossom.

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Wilted Flowers should be put into a Vase

Friendship is like a vase of flowers. Look plain but the vase

Friendship is like a vase of flowers. Look plain but the vase holds the love between them

vase2

It means that Friends may not look like friends but the Vase (represents Jesus) holds the love (Jesus holds us and He holds the love)

My daughter and I are so much alike….give us a box of markers, some glue, scissors and paper and we’ll keep busy all day. We’re also very selective with our friends – and have had the same ones for several years. But, thankfully, I don’t think she is as guarded as I am when it comes to friendships.

I know, I know, who hasn’t been through a difficult situation(s) and not come out of it with “trust issues”? Just about everyone I know has a sad story of drama, crisis, deceit, and betrayal that has left an impact on their life in some way or another. I’m no different. No, don’t worry, I’m not going to air it all out on a public blog – but I am going to talk a little about it. After all, this is my blog – the place I come to express my feelings and thoughts and share them in a place that I mistakenly believed wasn’t made public (after I realized the first post was live I figured might as well leave it).

I think it’s honest to say that I’ve only really had a small handful of friends in my life that I would consider “Best Friends”.  It never failed, as a kid I’d have found that friend and we’d be as close as possible and then we’d pack up and move out of town..to be fair, when I was old enough, I did the same, I packed up and moved out of state – leaving my one closest friend behind and losing touch. All the moving and the severing of relationships really hurt me – just about every relationship in my life has suffered a great loss through abandonment, crisis, or betrayal….and it’s affected me greatly. (before you order the cake for my pity party, keep in mind that it’s a two-way street here that I’m talking of…I wasn’t completely innocent but regardless, it made an impact on my life)

See, I’m sure if you’ve read any of my other posts, you can tell I like to talk. A LOT. I once had someone quote me a Bible verse and tell me that it was unscriptural for me to talk so much (can you tell that I believed that was taken out of context??!!) Anyway, I talk a lot…I share a lot….except for the inner most thoughts and feelings – and those are rarely shared -with anyone. Honestly, as much as I love(d) my closest friends, I just couldn’t. Something has always held me back.

And then there’s the people that I couldn’t shake away – and not from lack of trying!! I remember several times before some uber-spiritual persons telling me that God puts people in your life who will irritate you to teach you a lesson and if you keep running into the same type of person that you haven’t passed his test yet and you have to keep having to deal with those type of people until you get it right. I had 2 issues with this way of thinking….

(1) God made the Israelites have to spend 40 years in the desert because of their constant whining and complaining – I hardly doubt that He would make me (or anyone else) have to put up with the same type of person over and over until I dealt with them acceptably in His sight. (unless of course it’s the reverse and He’s making THEM have to put up with me over and over until THEY get it right – but I refuse to accept that way of thinking!)

2) The Book of Proverbs talks A LOT about these types of people – and none of it is good…..and God wants only good for His people, correct??? So there’s no way He would dump that kind of junk on me purposely! (right?!)

Several years ago I had a friend – the closest friend I’d ever had. We were so close that I had a leader over me tell me that our friendship was unhealthy and it bothered them that nothing or no one could break through it – that they had others try and were unsuccessful. I don’t know, call me crazy, but I would consider that  a healthy relationship! I suppose it wasn’t as indestructible as I thought because that person was able to finally find a weak spot and crush it. Since that moment, things haven’t been the same – not with our friendship, and not with other’s I have had since. I’m not sure that our relationship will ever be even close to what it was.

Before I get a comment about how I need to repent for unforgiveness, that’s not the issue. I don’t harbor any. I just have a difficult time making new friends…..I’m not talking about the casual “Hi, how are you doing?” friendship, I’m talking about a genuine friend.  I have made some amazing friends and I am so thankful for them…there’s just not the connection that I had before and I really miss that. Sometimes I wonder why I can’t be more like my husband – who really prefers not to have friends past the casual stage. I wish I could be like that….and I’ve tried and end up feeling worse than before.  I’m at a point now that I feel so disconnected from most of the people I am in physical contact with that I’m becoming content to put that smile on my face and as my blog title says – just say “fine” to their question of “how are you?” and continue walking because I know that they really don’t care to hear anything more in response. I have a couple of friends I can talk to about most personal things and I have an amazing group of girls online from across the country that I’ve been friends with for almost 2 years that I can talk to – but there’s nothing like being able to sit down and enjoy one another’s company in person and being able to connect with them at a more deeper level and that’s what I really miss the most…having someone that just knows you and knows what you’re going through without having to speak the words.

Sigh…..and then I think that maybe I am struggling so much in this area is that I need to remember who the Friend I have that does stick closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24) That God is always there for me when I need Him, and even if I feel I don’t – that I can always trust Him with my thoughts, my feelings – my hopes and my fears. That maybe it’s HIM that He wants me to run to when I have something on my heart, when it’s happy, and when it’s heavy….that maybe it’s His place that I’ve been filling with other people and I need to do some cleaning out, move Him in to stay and hang up the NO VACANCY sign….and when that takes place, maybe there will be more rooms created to move others in as well…under the new Management, of course.

….and to think all this came from looking at a picture of artwork my daughter made last year for her best friend’s birthday……..

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One down, Eleven to go…

January 31st.

I know that I say it all the time, and I hear others say it – but gosh, time is flying by so quickly. Life just seems to go by in a blur nowadays….and suddenly, 31 days after 2013 began you sit and wonder, “where did it go?”

When I was a kid one of my favorite places to be was in Neosho, MO at my Great-Grandma Garnet Williams’ house. Her house was like my Grandma Doris’…always smelled like she was cooking something…and everything in its perfect place…except for a set of kissing figurines that she had on her table – my mom would always switch their places and make it look like they were mad at each other. (sorry, random memory pop-up) Anyway, we would go see my Great Grandma only once a year – maybe…we’d jump in the car, drive from our house and go to the little Wal-Mart store in town. Mom would buy us a Barbie doll (our incentives to spend the afternoon occupied outside while the grown-ups talked) and then we’d stop at the McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. Eating out was not common at our house growing up – actually, except for the trips to Neosho, I don’t remember us ever eating out until I started working at Wendy’s as a teenager.

So, we’d have our Barbies and Happy Meals and we’d be content playing outside – our cousins Eric and Becky would come over and play with us – and at some point my mom would come outside and we’d pose for the camera.  Every once in awhile we’d decide we had enough and want to come inside – we’d beg at the screen door to come in to go to the bathroom (which was code for I plan on taking my sweet time while I’m in here and you’ll have to kick me back out!) I’d go in the bathroom and look around at all the fancy decorative soaps, smell all the lotions and play with the big powder puff that sit on the back of the toilet…it had the biggest pouf I’d ever seen (not that I’d seen many!) but it smelled like roses…and I’d use it a couple times – being careful not to make a mess and when my mom would ask me if I’ve fallen in, and what’s taking me so long, I’d hurry and clean up any evidence that I’d been in it…totally not realizing that the smell of roses was thick in the air so they knew I’d been in it! (Which also explains how Great Grandma knew that we’d like our own powder sets for Christmas for several years! haha)

Once I’d cleaned up the powder and dried off the flower soaps that I had tried (every time I’d think I could use them without it being noticeable…hey, I was 8-11 years old!) I’d make my way to the kitchen – because I was so thirsty…just “dying of thirst”  Someone would get me a drink of water and I’d make it last as long as I could….while I tried to figure out what she had cookingin the crock pot…it was almost always a roast….sometimes we’d get a little bite (so good!) I’d also play with the little magnets on the fridge and just when my mom’s patience was wearing thin, my Great Grandma would come in, open up her cabinet, and get this dark Chocolate Hershey’s bar out – she’d break off a piece and eat it and offer me a piece. It was heavenly. It was also the only time I ever ate dark chocolate until I was an adult…and even now, when I have some, it reminds me of those days.  I was always sad when it was time to go but I’d get those big hugs and kisses on the cheek from her – her skin was always super soft. Even all wrinkly, it was super soft….probably from all the little soaps, lotions and powders!  but it’s something I remember distinctively about the touch of my Great Grandma.

Being a teenager and living back in Neosho was probably one of my happiest times….my mom spent a lot of time over at my Great Grandma’s and we’d go visit often.

so much fun at her house!

so much fun at her house!

My Great Grandma Garnet passed away in 1990. Not too long after I graduated. I still have  the card, wrapping paper, and necklace she gave me. It’s one of my most special items. I remember being a teenager and having my own car and for the first time I made the drive from Neosho to Anderson where we’d lived for several years. It only took me 20-30 minutes. I truly felt at that moment that I was jipped. That the only thing in my childhood that I felt I missed out on – was spending more time at my Great Grandma’s house because “it was too far to drive”.  Granted, I know being a parent now, and working around work schedules and appointments and everything else life throws in your path, you get busy and when your kids want to go somewhere – you tell them we can’t because it’s too far or we’re too busy….I get that…I’m guilty of that. But when I was 17 and my Great Grandma had died and I felt like I was robbed of time from her – I felt sad and angry, not in the least understanding.

Now, believe me, this isn’t the direction I had planned this post to go – I hadn’t planned on talking about my Great Grandma at all – But I guess it must be the reaction I get from thinking of time wasted. About letting it get away so fast and neglecting or putting off the things that matter the most – like spending time with your family. Really, it’s not the big things that we remember the most – it’s the little things like decorative rose and flower soaps and big poufy powder puffs, Happy Meals, playing with cousins and jumping off the big rock in the backyard, it’s sneaking a piece of chocolate and playing with the magnets on the fridge (which actually, now hang on my bulletin board in my dining room!) It’s taking time to enjoy the things in life that make life enjoyable.

I think back now and realize that I’ve really been too busy to let my kids make memories like I did with my Grandparents…and that’s one of the many things that I want to change this year…taking time for family. So….in the past 31 days, I’d say that although we haven’t held a family reunion, we are making baby steps and it’s been sweet and memorable…and I can’t wait to make more memories. One month down, Eleven more to go!

Nathan and Natalie during one of our game times - a now regular occurrence in the Fletcher House.  Brother doesn't get to be here often, but it's so sweet when he is.

Nathan and Natalie during one of our game times – a now regular occurrence in the Fletcher House. Brother doesn’t get to be here often, but it’s so sweet when he is.

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We Do Not Rent Pigs

The last portion of this post I had posted on facebook last week but thought I’d post here as well…it’s been on my mind a lot lately and I’ve had more people ask about it so thought I’d expound on my thoughts a little more here. 

 

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Leon and I traveled to Layfayette/Abbeyville,  Louisanna to meet his Mom, Grandma and family (after not seeing her for over 2o+ years)  when Nathan was about a two years old (which makes it about 1994).  It was July, I was about 21 years old and practically lived on Benedryl for allergies. It was so humid, and so miserable. The visit was awkward but it was good to get to know his mother and her family – and it helped Leon fill in gaps in his childhood. Nathan was a little cranky back-seat passenger and it was a long drive but we enjoyed the scenery. The buildings, the graveyards, the old farm houses – everything had a different look to it than here in the Ozarks where we’ve both lived most all our lives.

While driving we came across this sign – at first we laughed about it and tried to guess what it meant. Since we found it so humorous, we decided to take a picture of it…and we laughed again when the pictures were developed and we pulled it out of the envelope.  One day, after looking through the album, I decided to call the number on the sign and ask them what the sign meant. Our best guess was that they might be pig farmers. Why someone would want to borrow their pigs, we had no idea.

So, I call the number….I tell the man that we were through there years before, saw the sign, got a good laugh and took a picture but always wondered what it meant. He responded “well, we think that if you aren’t going to do something, it’s best to let it be known…..and we don’t rent pigs.”  Hmmm…..that’s it? No, he’s not a pig farmer, not a farmer at all – and he doesn’t rent pigs.

I suppose it’s because I was talking last week about what I believe – and what I feel is important – and the beliefs of others, that I kept thinking about this sign. I actually dug through 3 boxes of pictures and 2 albums to find this picture at the bottom of the pile (of the last box, of course!) People know what I stand for, what I do, but do I make it clear what I don’t do? I would hope that when people see me they see that “I do not compromise”.  That’s the sign I want to hang up for all to see. It doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks, what everyone else does, I won’t compromise what I believe is right – what I believe is truth, what I stand for, what I don’t stand for.   There’s a word for people who do that – it’s called hypocrite.

When a person decides to become a Christian, they are (usually) saying that they are choosing to follow the requests the Christ asked of them in the Bible. It makes no sense to claim a life of Christianity if you aren’t.

If your going to truly live your life accordingly, one of the attributes is that you are the same person at church as you are at home, out in public, and in your workplace. That’s where non-Christians come out with the word hypocrite – because they see people who claim to be Christians act in a way that is un-Christ-like – whether it be at work, at play or in private…that they claim to be one way, but their actions, their words, their behavior, their practices or dealings with others are another.

I am a professed Christian. I opened my own home daycare 2 years ago, I based it upon Christian beliefs – and I am upfront with families when they come to me to inquire about doing business with me that I will be promoting those beliefs while their child is in my care. At that point, the parents have a choice to make. To go ahead and move forward, allowing me that opportunity, or decide that is not what they want, and to take their business elsewhere. I don’t force it, they have a choice. But I can say, I would never change my business practices because it made someone else uncomfortable. I would tell them that I’m sorry, I’m not going to compromise what I believe to be truth and if that’s a problem, they can go somewhere else, I’ll understand and have no hard feelings.

There’s several places in town that I don’t agree how they run their business/organizations…by both Christian and non-Christians owners. But here’s the thing – Although I don’t agree with them, I don’t bash them….I just simply don’t patronize their businesses/organizations. It would be wrong of me to go and tell them that they must change how they operate just because me or anyone else has a problem with it – and I would think that if the people working for/with them had an issue, it would be their decision as to remain a partner with them, or to go elsewhere.

See, I don’t care where a person works – who they work for – what they do in their spare time – Where they go to church – or what their personal beliefs are……

I have friends and family who are unemployed, who have their own business, who work for large – and small companies, who work for non-profits – who are on disability and don’t work…who make barely enough money to pay bills and put food in the fridge, those who can’t without government assistance, and those who have more than enough.

I have friends and family who are Christians, who are Catholic, Church of Christ, Baptist, Methodists, Lutherans, Mormons, Buddhist, Charismatic, and those who are just plain freaky, flaky and weird (who attend church and don’t!)

I have friends and family who drink, who smoke, how do drugs, who watch porn, who are gay, who live with a boyfriend/girlfriend and aren’t married and I have those who have never smoked a cigarette, done drugs, own a tv or computer, have never even kissed someone of the opposite sex until married – or until their wedding day.

I have friends and family who are divorced, separated, single, living with someone, who are married.

I have friends and family who buy only designer clothes, who shop at the GAP, shop at Walmart, shop at Goodwill and who make their own clothes….

….the thing is, I know and love people of all walks of life – I don’t agree with the decisions that they all make in life and they don’t agree with mine – and I don’t expect us to….but what I do expect – and makes me respect them – is that they are the same person – that they are genuine – that when I see them in their home, at the grocery store, in church, or online that they don’t pretend to be something else for my benefit.

I know this has been a long post (thanks to anyone who’s actually read it all!) but when companies like JC Penny or McDonald’s or someone else has supported an organization that supports something that “the church” don’t like and that they’ve called for a boycott, people throw a huge fit about the Christian community rising against it…it’s like the people I know who refused and called for anyone else – to watch any movies featuring any actors or actresses because they were gay or because of their personal beliefs….therefore any project that they’ve been involved in should not be watched or supported. I think it’s kind of ridiculous. Take Anderson Cooper for example – I have admired AC’s reporting skills for decades. He’s personable, he does his job well. Do I stop having respect for his work ethic and practices because I don’t agree with his lifestyle? no. I still think he’s a highly respectable reporter and interviewer.

But it works the same way – as Christian-owned companies, I expect Chick-fil-a and Hobby Lobby to carry their business in a manner that reflects their beliefs. It’s not bringing “religion” into it, it’s called living in integrity with who you claim to be. I would no longer have respect for the owners if they conducted their business any other way…because they profess to be Christians. Jesus said you will know His disciples by their fruit. If their fruit isn’t reflecting Christ, they aren’t His disciples and should be called out on it. To make a decision for their company based on their Christian beliefs, shouldn’t be surprise to those who work for or know the companies and personally, I have greater respect for them for standing up and not compromising their beliefs and values. I would hope that people would do the same for me.

What started all this thinking?? First there was the whole Chick-fil-a buzz and now it’s Hobby Lobby. People standing up for what they believe.   Before I go on to the post, I’ll just say, I see nothing wrong with birth control. Believe me, there are some people that absolutely should be using it!! And I remember when my son was just born, birth control was my best friend (not because he was a fussy baby – that one would come later! he was a supereasy baby – but I was 20 and another baby was not in my plan for a couple years).  I would get SO mad because I would have to pay for the pills every month since insurance didn’t cover them and thought that it was unfair that it did. With that said, I still believe that insurance companies should cover the cost.  When my sweet boy was a couple years old and we wanted to have another baby, we couldn’t…tried for years and years and years (took about 8 before our precious little girl arrived!) but in between this time we resorted to fertility help (after a failed foster-to-adopt through DHS). Did insurance pay for that? not really….during that time I racked up some good bills at the pharmacy and doctor’s office. Do I think insurance should cover the cost? ABSOLUTELY! I think that any type of fertility assistance (including ovulation kits – those suckers are expensive when you’re buying them so often!) should be covered just as much as birth control. Since Natalie has been born, there’s been a few times I’ve had to run out and by a pee-test and nope, not pregnant and we breathed a sigh of relief since we didn’t really want more children. Do I think that insurance should cover the cost of a pill to take in case we did get pregnant that would prevent the pregnancy from progressing or for a procedure to be done to terminate it? No, I really don’t.

…..and I can’t blame the owners of Hobby Lobby for standing up and saying “We Do Not Rent Pigs”…..that we believe in life and we don’t want to see it terminated regardless of what it costs – customers, employees, business deals, new stores, or fines from the government.  I think it’s their right to say what they don’t do.

People generally know what you stand for – but do they know what you don’t do? What’s your sign say?

 

 

 

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Res-o-lu-tion

The state or quality of being resolute, firm determination.

A resolving to do something.

A course of action determined or decided on.

 

Hmmm…..what is my resolutions for this New Year? What do I have firm determination, a resolving to do?  I, like most people have made many resolutions over the years only to quickly forget about them within a few weeks. But looking at the definition, it makes the word much more serious than just a quick thought that easily slips away unnoticed.

So my resolutions for 2013 have so much more meaning than in the past. Sure, I still have “lose weight” on the list – but this time I have more determination to actually do it. Although I will admit, that I only made it to 8:00pm before I gave in and did a run to the gas station for a Pepsi.

I want to pray more, to grow deeper in my relationship with God. To serve Him and other more.

I want to spend more time with my kids and my husband.

I want to be a better teacher for my daycare kids.

I want to be organized (this one will require probably more determination than losing the weight!)

I want to spend my time more wisely.

I want to keep my blog updated.

There’s so many things that I want to do – but when it comes down to it – it’s going to depend on my determination, my focus, my wanting to put action behind the words I speak….and I pray that I can do all these things. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂

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Bye-Bye, Two Thousand Twelve….Welcome, 2013!

2012.  It’s really hard to believe it’s only a couple hours from being over. I’m not one to wish time back or live in the past – I’m always happy to see what the future holds – so I’m expecting great things for the New Year.  But I wanted to take just a moment to remember what this past year brought….

January – I was re-connected with my best friend of 9 years. I was once told that our friendship was unbreakable, that we were too close and it was too hard to come between us. Ironically (or not) it was the same person who’s words and actions caused our friendship to break – and we didn’t really speak for a couple years. Last January, that changed – and although our relationship isn’t what it used to be before the break – it’s not where it was after…and who knows? maybe this year will bring us closer.

Meredith and I - during Christmas season in 2008

Meredith and I – during Christmas season in 2008

February – Natalie turned 9 – she also earned her AWANA shirt (and later completed her first book – earning all her bars and an award!)

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March – My Grandma Doris went to Heaven.  As a little girl there are 2 things that I held close to my heart. One was going to church camp every summer and the other was either going to see my Grandma & Grandpa Epperson (the only Grandparents I grew up with) or Grandpa dropping Grandma off at our house to spend the summer while he went to Branson and then back home.  I was the first grandchild – and as you can guess, I was a little spoiled by my Grandma. It broke my heart to see her so sick for so long. I know she’s no longer hurting – but I miss her still.

Me and My Grandma <3

Me and My Grandma ❤

Me and My family at the funeral (instead of wearing black, I wore brighter colors and I wore my red wedges - since red was her favorite color)

Me and My family at the funeral (instead of wearing black, I wore brighter colors and I wore my red wedges – since red was her favorite color)

April – I saw my Dad for the first time in 36 years….and if that wasn’t enough – I had flown to Phoenix and stayed with my Grandma Marilyn (his mother) and visited with my Uncle Rick, Aunt Debbie & Uncle Fred – all relatives that I haven’t seen since I was 2-4 years old.  Understandably, it was awkward, but also unforgettable (and I’m not just talking about the “old people” karaoke bar my Uncle took me to! haha) We celebrated my Grandma Marilyn’s 80th and my Dad’s 60th birthday. We talked and began restoration of our relationships.

my dad, me and my uncle

my dad, me and my uncle

May – We finally visited the Crystal Bridges Art Museum….and we found the tile on the wall of the Tate Building downtown on the square that Natalie made – the wall is full of tiles that kids from Bentonville schools made – took us awhile to locate Nat’s!

looking and looking and looking....

looking and looking and looking….

Finally found it at the bottom!

Finally found it at the bottom!

Me and my kids in May <3

Me and my kids in May ❤

The side of the building covered in tiles about Respect, Service and Responsibility

The side of the building covered in tiles about Respect, Service and Responsibility

June – I became the mother of a 20 year old! Nathan turned 20 on the 30th. I think I had a harder time with him becoming an adult than I did turning 40! But I’m so incredibly proud of him. He’s so focused, determined, funny, God-loving and serving, giving to others, and an all-around good, Godly man.

Nathan - all grown up

Nathan – all grown up

July – Got hooked on Swagbucks and bought a new swimming pool with the $100 gift card I got from my first redemption! Swagbucks is highly addictive, but very rewarding!

fun in the pool

fun in the pool

she's such a silly girl - and LOVES the water!

she’s such a silly girl – and LOVES the water!

August – I’m 40!! Please, please tell me I don’t look like I am only 10 years away from 50!!! Seriously, I used to dread getting older but I’ve discovered life actually gets better as the years go by! (but 41 can be slow in it’s arrival! haha)

yes, there are 40 candles on that cake!

yes, there are 40 candles on that cake!

September – We met Amy – the girl who just might become our daughter-in-law in the future.

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Nathan and Amy (at her house on Thanksgiving)

Amy, Nathan and Natalie after the Aquarium & lunch

Amy, Nathan and Natalie after the Aquarium & lunch

October – We took Natalie to the Apple Glen Elementary Apple Fest – that was our 10th – and last – Apple Fest 😦  Next year our girl will be in middle school. AGE has been one of our favorite schools!  I also got to meet my cousin Uriah (My Uncle Rick’s son) and his kids (Uncle Rick is my dad’s brother) They came down from KC for a skate event for Uriah Jr to participate in (The Self Destruct Biscuit Jam) he took 2nd place in his division!

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Uriah & his son - 2nd place winner!

Uriah & his son – 2nd place winner!

My cousin's Uriah's kids

My cousin’s Uriah’s kids

November – I celebrated my 2 year Anniversary of having my own home daycare. It’s always a good thing to follow God’s direction. When He directs your steps – you’re sure to succeed and be blessed.  I’m so thankful for the training, for the steps that He lead me to and through to open up my own business at home. I love being home at the end of the school day for when Natalie comes home, to be home for the breaks when Nathan is home from college and to be home when my husband walks in through the door after a long day at work.

They keep me busy...but I love them!

They keep me busy…but I love them!

December – Leon and I celebrated our 19th Wedding Anniversary on the 8th, we celebrated Christmas early with Nathan and Amy and her family at the Dry Gulch Christmas Train in Oklahoma and then Natalie, Leon and I went to Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO (and bought season passes for 2013 to ensure we get away more often as a family!) Christmas Day marked our 22nd Christmas together. Leon proposed to me 22 years ago – in Neosho, MO – on the way to my mom’s house. It wasn’t the proposal he’d planned, but it looks like it stuck, huh?

My kids at Christmas

My kids at Christmas

At Silver Dollar City

At Silver Dollar City

at the Christmas Train

at the Christmas Train

I’m sure 2013 will be an amazingly blessed year – and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us!

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Pardon me, Mr. Dickens, may I add something?

I am a lover of Christmas movies. I’ll watch them over and over – year after year – from the animated, the comedical, the dramatic, and the super-cheesy…I’ll watch them all. One of my least favorite though, has always been Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  How ironic that it’s the one movie that has been on my mind the last few weeks.

I’m thinking that it might be because I realize how different Christmas last year and Christmas this year has been and how next year is sure to be even more so. My emotions have caused me to go through more tissues than a Lifetime Channel Christmas Movie Marathon.

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a Christmas movie centerpiece I made last year

I think back to my Christmases Past and I think of all the sweet memories…taking my kids’ picture in front of the tree – Creating floats for the town’s Christmas Parade – hanging the lights, decorating the tree – opening up those “1 gift” on Christmas Eve (even though everyone knew it would be pajamas – since that’s what I always got!) looking for those gifts at the top of my kids’ wish list and watching their faces when they opened them. Avoiding Santa at all costs because my daughter didn’t want “that Christmas Clown” at her house and definitely didn’t want to sit on his lap! 

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hanging of the lights last Christmas

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My Babies – Nathan and Natalie about 18 months & 20 months

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13 & 2

 

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14 & 3

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18 & 7

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19 & 8

 

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we were so young!

I even got engaged on Christmas Day in 1991! I was 18 and when my son turned 18 I realized why my mom was not as thrilled as I was that I would be getting married! If he had come home and told me he was getting married, I would have went crazy (to say the least!) But even with all these wonderful memories – there was one that I kept thinking about over and over….

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Me and My Grandma

Last Christmas Day was the last time I saw my Grandma. She had been in the hospital (again) and had just came back home the day before. When we stopped by the house and walked inside, she sat back down in her chair and started to fall back to sleep. At that moment I had already wished we hadn’t come and wanted to leave. Not because we were interrupting her nap, but she looked so terrible….swollen, bruised, jaundiced, and exhausted. It wasn’t a way I wanted to see her – or for my kids to see her. 

Over the next couple months I wanted to come back and see her again, I think I knew in my heart, in my spirit that her time here was coming to an end, but she was in & out of the hospitals again and my mom would tell me that she looked worse than before – and I just couldn’t handle seeing her that way – and I never did. She went to Heaven in March. I sometimes feel so guilty that although I spoke with her on the phone and on facebook, I never went to see her again but then I know that she knew how much I loved her and I know that she wouldn’t think bad of me for not coming.  

 

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me, Gma, my kids and nephews/niece in November 2011

Because I know that I can’t dwell on the past, I try to just shed the tears, wipe them away and remember what’s important….loving your family NOW. Not waiting until they’re gone and realizing it’s too late – but to enjoy and love them right now – we never know when the last moment together will be. This was Leon and my 22nd Christmas together. 22! Can you believe that? It doesn’t seem like that many! It was also the first Christmas we spent without Nathan home with us (we celebrated the holiday the week before) He went to Oklahoma to spend Christmas with his girlfriend Amy and her family (which you can imagine was difficult for us to accept) we had decided to just take the week off from work and travel to Colorado but then as it got closer and Leon hurt his back, we decided we would stay closer to home. We began a couple of new traditions this year…we went to Oklahoma with Nathan, Amy and her family to the Dry Gulch Christmas Train (which is pretty awesome!) and then the next day we went to Branson to Silver Dollar City (which is also pretty amazing!) We decided we should make them both a yearly event. We also realized that Christmas doesn’t have to be celebrated on the 25th to be Christmas…and it doesn’t have to be reserved for 1 day. We have celebrated for the past week and it’s been so much fun. 

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2009

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Silver Dollar City

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Ready to board the Christmas Train

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waiting for a show to begin

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Christmas 2012 – 20 & 9

So what does the Christmas Future have in store? I really don’t know – I have a feeling in the not-so-distant future, probably a daughter-in-law and in-laws…and having to be content with the time allotted to us so that they can celebrate with her family. I’m sure it will have more pictures, the lights, the smells of cookies and fudge, tree lighting ceremonies, train rides, gift exchanges, hot cocoa and movies, candy canes, santa hats, telling of the Savior’s birth, and spending invaluable time with the people I love….not knowing if it’s the last Christmas we’ll have together or if there’s many more to come. 

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What Christmas is all about…..LOVE
(Nat in 2009 – telling the Nativity story to one of our foster kid’s – who had never heard it before)

 

 

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What am I saying here?

It’s finally December!

I’m like a little kid when it comes to Christmas…I like and I want it ALL. The lights, the Nativity, candy canes, presents wrapped with a big red bow on top, the ornaments – both the new and the old, the Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks, the carols and hymns, and  of course, the Christmas tree.

I loved when it was time to bring the tree out of the garage or attic and start decorating (my little sister would coat it in the shiny string icicles which would drive me crazy!) I remember as a teenager my mom had decided – because of the verses in the Old Testament in Jeremiah 10 where it talks about cutting down a tree to put up in your home and decorating with silver and gold – that she was not going to put up the Christmas tree again. Not going to lie, I was a little heartbroken. Putting up the tree was one of my favorite things to do at Christmas. That year, in my rebellion I made a tree out of cardboard and paper and garland and put on my wall. (I know, such a rebel, huh?) My mom eventually went back to putting up the tree – and the first year I was moved out of the house she actually bought me a tree so I could put it up in my house. (That scripture, btw, is in reference to idol worship not in decor)

So I suppose you can say my staunchness about having a tree – the perfect tree – and all my favorite ornaments perfectly placed on its branches began at an early age. When I got married I would talk my husband into letting me purchase a new tree each year – just so it would be “fluffy” – because that first time using it – it’s so full and fluffed – but then as it sits in the hot storage all summer, it’s just not the same the next year – so I’d give it away and get a new one. One year my husband surprised me with a trip to Sears and let me pick out the biggest tree I’d ever had…I kept it for maybe 5 years before I gave it away.

When it comes to decorating, I’m a sucker for Nativity and angel ornaments. I once made a marketplace vendor in Juarez, Mexico so irritated because all I would buy from him was 1 Angel ornament – instead of the “deal” he was trying to make with a donkey (which looked more like a pinata with the yarn it was made out of) and an object I’m still not able to figure out. That was about 15 years ago and it still hangs on my tree each year. I have another angel that I received when I was about 8-9 years old – her legs and wings have been broken off and glued back several times. I have a collection of picture frame ornaments which display my kids – and then the ornaments I’ve bought for my kids engraved with their name and year since they were born. Of course, when it’s that time of the year and I bring out the box, my son and daughter have always wanted to help me deck the tree (my son stopped when he was a teenager – but I’m still not sure if that’s due to age or my obsessive behavior during the process!) and I won’t lie – many of the ornaments that they would so carefully place on the tree I’d later move to another spot when they weren’t looking.

always hanging close to the top of the tree

always hanging close to the top of the tree

The vendor should be happy to know it's always on my tree

The vendor should be happy to know it’s still on my tree

I had been seeing all the pictures my friends have been posting of their trees – all so beautiful – some look like they’ve been professionally decorated – with the glass ornaments, the gorgeous ribbons curled and looped throughout – and the twinkling lights. I was getting so anxious to put up ours and post my proud pictures. This weekend was the moment we’ve been looking forward to…Christmas Tree Day. Several years ago we started using real trees  – which I LOVELOVELOVE the smell and the fluffiness and I almost always buy a tree much larger than our ceiling so in addition to having the salesperson trim off several inches at the trunk, I’m having to get the hedge clippers out and docking 4-6 inches off the top just to have room for the star on top (and even then the star is tightly wedged against the ceiling)

My daughter and I arrive at the store and decide to get new lights first since I despise having to mess with untangling them and the weekend I put up the lights on the house there’s a small patch that won’t light, so I wasn’t about to do it again on the tree! I start to grab the clear lights that I always put up and Natalie objects….she wants to have colorful lights instead.

Sigh.

A change in decorating…..ok, I guess I can handle letting her have colored lights instead of the usual clear. So at her insistence, we grab a box of 300 bright colored lights. Now for the tree…

I head over to the size trees I’ve been purchasing and call out to her to follow me and she’s stopping at several trees along the way asking “what about this one, Mom?” “This one would work” “Look at this one!” When I go back to retrieve her she tells me that she wants to pick it out.

Sigh.

Okay – sure – come on….but then she tells me that she doesn’t want a big tall tree, she wants a tree that is shorter – one that she can stand on a chair and put the star on top herself.

Sigh.

Let me think about it.

Sigh.

..and then the thinking begins.  But it’s not about whether I should let her get the tree she wants instead of the tree I want. Or what the pictures of a short, colorful lit tree would like in the place I normally have a big beautiful tree, or the fact that I won’t be able to have all my keepsake ornaments on the tree this year because my daycare kids might break them. No. The thoughts going through my mind was “What am I saying here?” What message am I sending to my daughter. We’re a Christian family, we put God first in what we do, we don’t focus on Santa at Christmas (not because of religious beliefs – Natalie didn’t want “the Christmas Clown” at her house when she was little – she was scared of Santa – and didn’t want to be around him, even more, didn’t want him to be in her house…we could live with that!) We keep the focus on Jesus during Christmas – the Love that God has for us to give His Son, Jesus for us – and the love that we have for one another. So what the heck am I saying to my daughter if I’m more concerned about what everyone else will think about a small, oddly shaped tree? What am I saying to her when I won’t let her put color lights on instead of white? What am I saying to her if I insist on putting up the star instead of letting her have the honor? What am I saying to her when I move each ornament that she so carefully and deliberately places on the branches?

Sigh.

…..What am I saying here? I’m telling her that cutting down a tree, putting it up in the house and decorating it with silver and gold is more important than worshiping the Creator. The Savior, The Reason for the Season. Yes, I know December 25th is not Jesus’ actual birthday – but it is when Christians celebrate his birth. For me to care so much about a tree – it no longer is “just a tree or holiday decor” it’s an idol….and in that sense, that scripture reference in Jeremiah absolutely applies! It was a sudden rush of revelation as I stood right there in that moment as my daughter was repeating, “Mom, Mom, Mom, what about this one?” She picked out her tree, one that she could be able to reach with her chair to put the star on top – she helped me string the lights and she placed the ornaments on the tree as I watched with a smile.

The chosen one

The chosen one

Adding her finishing touches.  My contribution - the 2 pictures of my kids
Adding her finishing touches.
One of my contributions – the 2 pictures of my kids

A reminder of what Christmas is really about
This card was wrapped & decorated for my husband & I from bus kids – a group of 9 siblings that we poured our hearts and love into for years. They gave it to us in ’99 and it has sat at the top of all our trees to help us remember that the smallest acts of love make a huge difference in the lives of others.

it's easy to lose focus on what's really important

it’s easy to lose focus on what’s really important

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