December 31, 2005

Together again

I thought I would share a few of our family moments since Robert's homecoming to end out this year of blogging. Have a Happy New Year!

December 28, 2005

My Baby's Home!

I held Robert in my arms once again on Saturday. I was literally shaking as I ran to and then grabbed him around the neck for a long-awaited hug. Relief flooded my soul, just knowing that he was safe back on U.S. soil again. Now we face Round 2 of deployment--re-entry back into our lives. It will be challenging, but everything's going to be OKAY!

The children and I are nestled into a hotel room right now. Robert had to return to Camp Shelby on Monday to begin his de-mob process, and decided at the last minute that he didn't want to leave us again. So I threw some things into bags and here we are with him. We occupy ourselves during the day, and then Robert returns late afternoon and we enjoy our newfound family time together.

I had an amazing experience yesterday that I will share with you later. Let's just say that when total strangers show their support to your [soldier] husband and to you for the sacrifice your family has made, it's an overwhelming and very heartwarming experience.

I hope you all are having a fabulous holiday with your families. I know I am!

December 23, 2005

Merry Christmas!

May your home be filled with
  • family
  • love
  • laughter
  • fun
  • joy
  • good food
  • funny stories
  • memories
  • hugs & kisses



Merry Christmas, everyone!

December 21, 2005

Tending my Garden

Flowers grow out of dark moments.
- Corita Kent


Image hosted by Photobucket.comThis quote makes me smile. As we reach the end of Robert's deployment to Iraq, I find myself reflecting on the last year-and-a-half. Let me tell you, I've had some dark moments.

I have been through more things than I care to go on about here. I've trekked many a mile through some dark, lonely, scary, disheartening nights. I've shed many silent tears. I've shed many tears accompanied by wails of frustration and anger.

2005 almost feels like a blur to me. It certainly didn't feel like it passed quickly. Every day seemed to drag on for years. Especially the tough days, the days when I needed someone--anyone--to be there for me, to help me, to encourage me. Nights, with a fever-ridden, asthmatic child whose breathing was so labored I feared he might actually die in my arms.

Yet, here I am--on the other side. I made it. That statement feels like it should be full of excitement and flare--I MADE IT!--but it just isn't. It's simply a statement. I made it. I've learned so many invaluable lessons this year.

I've learned that I'm much stronger than I ever thought I was. Even in the moments in the wee hours of the night when I thought I would literally snap under the pressure of a screaming boy, I maintained my sanity, somehow. I learned to trust myself, my instincts, and not second-guess myself.

I've learned that true friends are there for you, no matter what. They don't shrink in the background, just because they don't know the right words to say...because true friends realize that sometimes there are no "right" words to say. They're just there. And that makes all the difference in the world. I'm so thankful for my friends. You know who you are. You've helped me through this year, and for that I am so grateful.

I have learned that married couples are not meant to be apart. But when you are, if you work hard, your relationship can grow stronger than it's ever been. When Robert left, I think we both worried about what would happen between us. I can honestly say that these thousands of miles have only brought us closer. I feel closer to him than I think I ever have. I have realized how easy it is to take all the little things for granted, and I never want to do that again. I have the most amazing, best husband in the entire world. God broke the mold when he made Robert. He is my pillar of strength and support.

I have learned that like friends, family shines through in moments of adversity. And I've learned who really cares and who doesn't. Hurts in a way, but in my heart, I always knew.

I've learned that during those anxious moments of worry and fear for the safety of my husband, God really was my source of strength. Prayer can do amazing things, as Robert is a testimony to. There were several instances of "God-incidences", which Robert was kept safe from danger. God's power of grace and mercy will never cease to amaze me.

I think one of the more important lessons I've learned is that the mind is a powerful weapon. If you sharpen it, exercise it daily and keep it well-maintained, you have an ally within yourself. The mind is too great a thing to waste. I've learned that I can do anything, if I just believe in it and put my mind busy to work doing it. With God, all things are possible. He guides me, even through all my imperfections, and He has kept me and brought me through this year. Thank You, Jesus!

December 20, 2005

New essay

My latest essay, Trusting Me, is now up at JustForMom.com.

Lots better

This morning everyone is feeling better, with exception to Elijah, who is still congested and on the verge of wheezing. I think he probably just needs some fresh air. We've been couped up in this house since Thursday evening.

Speaking of which, today is going to be a special day for just me and the children. We are going to go to our favorite (not!) store and purchase posterboard, markers, maybe even some glue and glitter, to make Welcome Home posters for Robert. This will actually be Emily's project, and she's very excited about it. I'm excited about her doing it because it will keep her mind busy for a few hours.

My Baby's on an airplane today!!! Oh yeah!! Doing a snoopy dance!! This has been the longest year-and-a-half of my life. It's just not normal for married people to be apart, especially under such tremendously stressful circumstances. I will be relieved when he calls and tells me his feet are on U.S. soil.

I truly appreciate the prayers and well-wishes from all of you who read my blog. Prayers are truly the rock on which we stand, and without God I know I never could have made it through this year. He has been faithful in keeping me strong, even when feeble; joyful, even when sad; powerful, even when weak. Thank you for upholding me on your end--prayer does work!

December 19, 2005

On the edge...Part 2

And the sick saga continues. Apparantly the horrible bug wasn't finished with its work when it hit both kids, so it attacked me yesterday. I spent half the day and all night last night on the sofa. Well, when I wasn't in the bathroom. Today I feel like I've been hit by a Mack truck.

I planned on getting up and working on the laptop, but I am scratching that. I can barely walk around, so I am going to take it easy today, and hopefully tomorrow we'll all feel lots better!

December 18, 2005

On the edge of insanity

It wasn't enough that Emily was sick with a terrible stomach virus, beginning on Thursday night, through Friday. Oh no, that wasn't enough. On Friday night, Elijah woke up coughing and gagging because of sinus draining down his throat.

But that wasn't enough either. Nope.

Last night Elijah caught the virus, so I have been up all night cleaning puke. The second and third time he puked all over me. Normally I have a strong stomach, but the smell of it all over me nearly did me in.

It was an hourly thing, with me and Elijah dozing in between bouts of vomitting. And because he doesn't feel good, in more ways than one, he has done nothing but whine and scream incessantly.

I've had enough, I tell you. Enough.

December 17, 2005

I Believe in Me

"Don't let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use."
- Earl Nightengale


I was looking for a quote on believing, but when I ran across this one, I decided it would be perfect for my thought today.

With everything that was going on in our family at the end of 2005, I placed writing on the back burner and mostly wrote as a hobby. There was just way too much added to me this year for me to even concentrate on writing.

I've been doing lots of work over the last couple of weeks, in preparation for the new year. I am ready to get back on track. But what track would that be? 2004 was basically my first "official" year as a writer. I created my yearly plan, divided that up into twelve months of work, then broke that down into weekly and daily goals. Every morning I began my day by creating my daily goal list, and I accomplished a lot by following those simple steps.

By the beginning of this month, I felt pretty lost and hopeless. I felt like I didn't have any direction and as hard as I tried, I couldn't seem to get any goals down on paper for 2006. I grew frustrated and wanted to just quit altogether. But I pushed through to the other side.

I realized that I was trying to make it way harder than it has to be. I was so focused on minute details that I couldn't see the big picture. My internal camera's zoom lens was broken!

I've mentioned my creative group of friends here before. We've been burning up the email lines for a few weeks now. It's as if the end of this year is propelling all four of us into fantastic worlds unknown and unexplored. It's exciting--and scary.

For the first time, I am beginning to feel more confidence in my abilities and talents. I am feeling more sure of myself. I'm beginning to (literally and figuratively) stand tall and proud. I am squaring my shoulders, removing the slouch and slump of my neck and shoulders. I am breathing deep, and blowing away doubt, confusion, and fear. Instead of stuffing the questions I want to ask, I'm asking anyway, putting myself on the line regardless of whether the questions seem "stupid" or not.

For the first time, I believe in me. I believe I can do this. I believe I can do anything. Oh yes, it's going to be a bit frightening at times, and there will be times when I am unsure of myself. But that's the fun of it all, isn't it? Not knowing the end result, yet being brave enough to step my foot out on the water and believe.

December 15, 2005

Everybody needs a break

Today was the best day I've had in quite some time. My aunt kept Elijah for me all day. I had tons of errands to run, and even more housecleaning to do. It was nice to do the mundane things without having to lug Elijah in and out of the van all morning.

Emily's class Christmas party was this afternoon. I went early and was able to help Emily's teacher prepare for the party. This was the first time I've had the opportunity to do this, and I loved it! It was so much fun fixing their party plates (sugar mountains) and gifts.

I've been knitting scarves the last couple of weeks for all the kiddies. To be honest, I really didn't expect them to "love" them, because...well, that's just how kids are. To my surprise and delight, they LOVED them! Even the boys all had fits over their striped Bohemian scarves. That made my day.

When I went to get Elijah, I fully expected him to be whiney and cry for me. Instead, the little squirt was running around acting silly and cutting up. Seems to me he enjoyed the time apart from me, too!

Tonight I'm tired--but a good tired. My mind feels refreshed, relaxed, and ready...ready for anything (I think!). I like this feeling. I didn't realize how badly I needed a break.

Give freely

"Give freely without begrudging it, and the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do."
- Deuteronomy 15:10 (New Living Translation)


Recently, a group of artist friends and I had a discussion at great length about putting our work out on the line and getting nothing in return. By nothing, I mean no comments from our readership.

The lack of comments seemed to create this inner "demon" within each of us. We berated ourselves. We felt as though our work wasn't good enough. We beat ourelves up.

Then somehow our thinking slowly evolved. As we laid our thoughts and feelings out on the table, I began to see with new eyes. I realized that I do not write and create for the purpose of receiving a compliment from people who partake of my composition. I write because I am called to write.

My creativity comes from my Creator. He is my ultimate critic. If I do what He wants me to do, then I make Him happy. That's all that matters.

What an awesome lesson I learned. If I give just for the sake of hearing nice words from other people, then I am only a one-woman band, tooting my own horn. I must work and give freely as the Creator gives to me, expecting nothing in return. It is then that I will receive blessings from God.

December 13, 2005

Talking to yourself

I have always been fascinated by the way the mind works. More specifically, how certain dreams speak to us.

Last night I went to bed with a lot on my mind. I almost blogged about it, but I'm glad now I didn't. It really wasn't worth the time or energy. I thought I poured it all out on the page, but obviously I didn't because it came forth in my dreams last night.

After looking up certain important key factors in my dream, I had to chuckle. My mind was speaking to me while I slept. What was it trying to tell me? I'll list the bulleted points here:

  • I must nurture myself. My character needs to be nurtured, comforted, protected.

  • There is a part of me inside that is fighting to be heard. I need to listen to my intuition.

  • I need to acknowledge what is causing conflict in my life, take responsibility for it, then have the initiative to resolve these issues. (I know what they are, I've been avoiding them.)

  • I need to be self-confident in my ability to handle things. I am capable of taking control of the situation.


It's easy sometimes to get wrapped up in all the drama and then you end up forgetting what the core issue is. This morning I know what that is. I am going to take some time this morning to center myself, my thoughts. I am in control. I don't care what anyone else thinks or says. I know what I must do for me.

December 12, 2005

JUST DO IT

Yesterday was an extremely stressful day, to say the least. It actually started out pretty good, but things went downhill quick. I walked out of church crying at the end of the night. The stress and pressure snowballed all at once, overwhelming me, until it burst from within and came out in the form of deep, heavy sobs.

Sometimes that's all you need--a good cry. It's cleansing. It sort of washes away all the ickiness that's inside, and empties you out to make room for something good.

When we got home, I put the kids to bed and sat down, intending to not do anything but sit there and wallow. Instead, I grabbed my trusty journal. 'I need to get all this out, once and for all,' I thought. And that's just what I did.

Twenty minutes and several handwritten pages later, I felt much better. In fact, instead of whining on every page, I ended up actually creating a plan of action for myself. See, I have this rule that, when writing in my "writing practice" book (see Writing Down The Bones) I am only allowed one full page for whining and complaining. After that, no matter if I'm done complaining or not, I have to move on.

This morning I woke up feeling alive, rejuvinated. Yesterday is over and gone. Today is a new day. Today I will do what God calls me to do. Today I will not wallow in yesterday's pain, but move forward--because that's what God would want me to do.

I'm alive in Him, because He lives in me!

December 11, 2005

Drawing from the well

"Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart; a wise person draws from the well within.
Proverbs 20:5 (The Message)


draw from the wellStruggling with the powers of good and evil is a daily confliction. The flesh wages war against the spirit. We each fight our own battles against the lusts of the flesh.

I am watching people struggle and fall continuously lately. Just when I think people can't surprise me, they do. Even people that I would never expect to give in, cave under the pressure. Yet they also seem to continue on, as though everything is okay.

A while back I began thinking to myself that if all these people can turn away from their morals and convictions and be okay with it, then why shouldn't I, too? Then the Lord showed me something.

He showed me that these people are not happy. There is a saddness in their hearts. There is an emptiness and void within that God's spirit used to fill. And the Lord showed me that not only do His people look and feel like this, but so does He.

He is saddened not only by the failures, but by the very fact that once a child of His has fallen, their brothers and sisters in Christ are not extending a hand to help them back up again. Instead, they are watching with a pious and uncaring spirit.

The Lord also pointed out this scripture to me. He opened my eyes. Even in my weakest moments, I must draw from the well deep within. I know what is right and what is wrong. James 4:17 says, "So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin." (Amplified)

Jesus, help us today to be strong in the power of the Lord. Help us to draw from the wells of righteousness. Help us to love our brothers and sisters, and to exhort each other instead of tear each other apart. Fill us with Your love. Make us more like You!

December 09, 2005

I'm grateful for...

I thought I would follow after Toni's lead. She blogged yesterday about what she's grateful for. What better time is there to reflect on such a topic?!

I am grateful for:

  1. My husband. He is the most unselfish, giving, loving, caring person I have ever known.
  2. December 22nd--the day I will (hopefully, if there are no delays) see Robert again. After spending close to one and a half years apart, and him being in Iraq for a year, I will finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief and not constantly worry about his safety and well-being.

  3. My children. They have taught me many lessons in life, and because of them I am nuts have more patience. They have brough much joy to my life, and without them, I would be a shell of the person I am today.

  4. The bare necessities. We have a roof over our heads, clothes on our back, food for our bellies. All the rest is cream and sugar, and I thank You, Jesus for everything we have, little as it may be.

  5. Freedom. This year has taught me that we (Americans) take our freedom for granted. Freedom isn't free. Never has been, never will be. For our freedom, men and women have given their lives. There are wives, children, brothers, sisters, mothers, dads without their loved ones this Christmas, because of their dedication and service to our country. May we never forget that freedom comes with a high price tag. Let us never take it for granted. Remember to say, "Thank you," to a veteran, for their service to our great country, this United States of America.


December 08, 2005

For Immediate Release

Just received this email this morning and couldn't resist posting here. I'm so excited!!




MOBILIZATION CENTER SHELBY (MCS)
PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE
BUILDING T900
CAMP SHELBY, MS 39407


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


December 7, 2005


CAMP SHELBY, MISS-Soldiers from the 155th Brigade Combat Team will start arriving in Gulfport at the Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) Friday morning. After a brief check-in process, the soldiers will be transported to Camp Shelby to continue inprocessing.

Once they arrive at Camp Shelby they will turn in weapons, receive a mandatory briefing and afterward be allowed to socialize with their families and friends.

The majority of the soldiers arriving the next few days are members of the 2/114th Field Artillery headquartered in Starkville. However, the rest of the flights will be mixture of different units. Family members are encouraged to greet their loved-ones at Camp Shelby.

Units are expected to arrive periodically starting Friday and continue through the middle of January 2006. Media who wish to cover the arrival should contact the MCS PAO at Camp Shelby at 601-558-2835.

--30--

December 07, 2005

Ready or not

They're talking sleet and snow here over the next day or two. I'm not thrilled at all! Emily, on the other hand, is praying for the snow to come. I went this morning and purchased a few necessary items, just in case. I'm hoping we won't get it, but it sure is cloudy! I bought a pair of gloves for both Emily and I also, because if it does snow, she will have to play in it. Oh joy!

My Reading List

I am a book fanatic. I love to read book. I love to collect books. I love to give books as gifts. I love to receive books as gifts.

Here's my reading list, just from books that are on my desk (this doesn't count all the unread ones hanging out on my bookcase):

  1. Double Vision by Randy Ingermanson

  2. Footsteps by DiAnn Mills

  3. What a Girl Wants by Kristen Billerbeck

  4. Private Justice by Terri Blackstock

  5. Shadow of Doubt by Terri Blackstock

  6. Getting Into Character by Brandilyn Collins

  7. Becoming a Woman of Beauty & Strength by Elizabeth George

  8. Life Principles from the Women of the Bible (Book Two) by various authors

And this, my friends, is only what's sitting on my desk. I have much, more more waiting on the bookcase to be read. And I still want more books. LOL!

What's on your reading list?

December 06, 2005

Baby steps

Have you ever felt like you know what you want and you can see the prize at the end of the race, but you don't know how in the world you're going to get from Point A to Point Z? Well, that's how I've felt lately. I know where I want to be with my writing and I know where I am now, but I'm not sure how to get from here to there.

Thankfully, I belong to a private group of four creative women in total, including myself. Sometimes we're chatty, sometimes we're not. But the purpose of our being in a "protected" environment is so that we can share our troubles and rejoice in our victories.

This week we've been super chatty, discussing important matters from all four ends of the spectrum. I made this statement:
"See, the "established professional writers" part tells me that it's
probably not for me. I don't think I'm established. I've only had a
few articles published, and they were for SMALL or online markets."

This has been my point of view since forever. It's always been easier for me to point out and focus on the flaws that I see in myself, instead of honing in on my skills and talents and concentrate on the good things about myself. But then Toni replied saying:
"But the commitment was there. I think that's the key difference, not necessarily where you've been published. I think it's more important to know where you are, which is what you seem to be doing,"

Thank you Toni! Until she made this profound statement to me, I never saw this! And probably never would have. I focus so much on what I haven't done, that I'm discounting all the things I have done. Regardless of whether I consider them to be big or small, they are accomplishments.

It's wonderful to be a part of a group of like-minded women who are able to point out the things I can't see!

December 05, 2005

Trusting in the process

I have struggled for weeks to set my goals for 2006. Last week I hit a particular "low" when I really buckled down and attempted to focus myself for an entire day on what I needed and wanted to do with my writing, so that I could compile my list.

Saturday I called my little sister and had a brainstorming session with her. She made some good points and directed my attention to things I'd never considered. I hung up feeling even more frustrated than ever, though. I couldn't understand why in the world it was so difficult for me to just sit down and write out some solid goals.

I've been praying, more than ever before, for God to lead and guide me in this process of goal-setting. I've been studying and seeking His face for direction. And it has felt as though I've been met with silence on the matter.

Yesterday morning I finally got my answer during morning worship service. The first Sunday of each month is Children's Sunday at church. It was one of those Sundays were kids were up and down, people were trotting in and out the whole time. To be honest with you, there was so much going on that it was hard to concentrate on the preacher, so I didn't get much out of the first half of his sermon. But something he said right at the end was like DING! -- a thousand beautiful bells went off and it was like God was saying, "Hello? You listening? I'm talking to YOU right now!"

Pastor was talking about how it's great and wonderful for us to raise our children and teach them the importance of going to college and getting an education and working, BUT--(here's the clincher...) we shouldn't teach them to put more value in working or money, than God.

And how does this tie into writing? Glad you asked. :)

That is exactly what I've been doing--attempting to work writing into a way for me to make money. I've been thinking and planning....meanwhile, placing more value in writing to earn money, than in God to do what He wants to with it, through me.

Make any sense? Well, it makes perfect sense to me anyways. And I think this is also probably why I have not been able to get my goals made out for 2006. I've been looking at the "money" aspect of goal-setting and that's it. I haven't had an even balance.

Then last night we arrived at church a little early and got in on the tail-end of choir practice. I like going early enough to get some of the choir practice. Music has always been a special form of communicating with God for me, so hearing it calms my spirit and helps me to get focused on God before church starts.

So anyway, the song they were practicing is an older song, but I had forgotten all about it. The words were absolutely perfect for me yesterday, and is the perfect prayer that my heart is singing today:
"Order my steps in Your word, dear Lord
Lead me, guide me every day
Send Your annointing, Father I pray
Order my steps in Your word
Please order my steps in Your word."

I don't ever want to get so caught up in my own desires and dreams that I forget to turn to the One who has placed the dream in my heart. I need His direction, His guidance. I need Him to show me what He has planned for my life. I don't want to go off on my own. I want His hand on everything I say and do. Without Him, I simply can't do it.

I'm that now I will be able to transform my thinking and write my goals during the next week or two.

Have you made your goals for 2006 yet?

December 04, 2005

It's going around

These memes are like a bad flu bug--one person catches it and sneezes on another and before you know it, we've all got it! I wonder if it isn't like the gossip game--by the time you get to about the 30th person down the line, the meme you're doing isn't the one it started out to be. If someone knows where this one originated, leave me a comment. It might be fun to see if we're still on track here. LOL!

Christa tagged me for this one, where I am to list 15 facts and personal preferences about books and then tag 3 more people. Here goes:


  1. I love books. Always have.

  2. I collect books. I usually have an enormous stack on-hand that need to be read, and yet will buy another one if it looks good.

  3. I am loyal to authors I know on a personal level. Even if I don't particularly care for their genre of writing, I support them by purchasing their new releases.

  4. My favorite series as a teen were: Nancy Drew (the original) and Sweet Valley High.

  5. The first book I remember falling in love with: The Secret Garden. The second: Charlotte's Web.

  6. I never have cared much for murder-mystery books. They scare me. I once read one of James Patterson's books while I was home alone at night, and I was afraid to go to sleep. Later, I watched the movie, and was afraid to go to sleep.

  7. I don't care for hardcover books. I'll read them--I just prefer soft covers.

  8. One of my favorite things to do with my daughter is go to the library.

  9. Emily loves books as much as I. We recently visited Goodwill and she brought home nearly 20 books--I kid you not. The one that she read all the way home? A huge, hardcover children's dictionary. I'm not kidding.

  10. I love getting books for Christmas. (hint, hint)

  11. The majority of what I read is Christian fiction.

  12. I don't like curse words in books I read. Once I read one, it flusters me and I rarely enjoy the rest of the book (if it's Christian fiction).

  13. I love Heartsong Presents books. I've been a member of their monthly book club for more years than I can remember. They are light romances that can be read very quickly.

  14. When I was younger (pre-marriage, pre-kids), I would stay up until 2 or 3 in the morning just to finish a book.

  15. I am a writer. I have several works of fiction in progress.


There you have it. Now who can I tag? Angela, Kelly & Toni, YOU'RE IT! (I won't blame you if you don't do it.)

December 03, 2005

That chill, that thrill

Last night Emily and I vegged out to watch a Christmas program on tv after Elijah went to bed. Being the multi-tasker I am, I couldn't sit still and do nothing, so I turned my laptop on.

I decided to go through some old writing files--maybe I'd glean a bit of inspiration to add to my goals for 2006. All week I have really been focused on creating my goals for next year, but still have gotten nowhere. So I needed something to jog my brain.

I opened a folder that contains several files of children's stories I wrote a couple of years ago. They were the catalyst for the first children's book I wrote. I figured that was as good a place to start reading as any.

I'd forgotten how good the stories are! As I read I thought, 'I wonder what Emily would think about these?' Now let me tell you, this was nerve-wracking. I mean, sending your work to editors and agents is difficult enough. Turning your "babies" out into the world to be eaten alive by red pens and rejections is tough stuff--but reading them to your children is even tougher!

"Would you like for me to read you a story?" I asked Emily.

"Yeah!" She's always up for a good read.

Emily sat through the first story I read, listening intently. When I finished, I looked up and her eyebrows were doing this funny wrinkled thing. Uh-oh.

"What did you think about that?"

"I like it," was all she said.

"Would you like to hear another?" I got a little braver.

I have about four or five of these, as my idea back then was to create a series of children's book, based on the same character.

"Sure!" Emily replied. Here we go again.

I read a second story. This time though, while I read, Emily began acting out each scene as I read it. I couldn't help but smile as I watched her from the corner of my eye while reading. My heart's wings fluttered.

By the end of the last story, she asked for more. I had to tell her that was it, because we'd come to the end of my "stash."

"Do you have a Christmas one?" she asked.

There's nothing like a good dose of support and encouragement that comes from a child, who doesn't even know that all the stories I just read to her were written by me, her mother.

December 01, 2005

Starting Over again

Okay, so I can't stay away. *grin* You knew I'd be back soon, didn't you?

When I visited Angela's blog this morning, I groaned in agony. I knew this topic would be popping up soon on blogs everywhere, but I didn't think it would be this soon. It's the pink elephant in the middle of my room that I've been avoiding.

Usually, around this time every year I'm like a happy pup. Tongue hanging out panting, tail wagging, all happy about the new year. This year is different.

After reading Angela's entry about goals, I started wading sifting through files and old blog entries to see what goals I set for myself at the end of 2004. Guess what? I can't find any! I'm sure I did because I am very much a goal-oriented person, but if I did, they're nowhere to be found. This could be a good indication of why I don't feel like I have accomplished very much this year.

As most of you know, this has been a stressful and eventful year. With Robert in Iraq, I have had a huge amount of responsibility on my shoulders. I'm not complaining about this at all. It's just one of those things that had to be done, regardless. With the added pressures, though, I guess I just let the one thing that's important to me--writing--slip to the side.

Something old
The one good thing I did do this year for myself was go back to school. I was able to do it all totally online, which was a huge plus for me. I'm not finished yet, but I'm nearing the end of this journey, which is an enormous accomplishment for me, considering I've started school many times and never managed to complete it.

I took this year (time alone) to focus on school. It was important to me that I finish something and have something to show for this time while Robert was away. I wanted him to come home and see and know that I did something positive and productive with my time.

Most of all, I wanted to accomplish this for me. On some level, I needed to prove to myself that I could do it, I could finish what I started.

Only a handful of people even knew that I had started my classes again. I kept it a secret mostly because I didn't want outside influence. This was something I needed to do on my own, and I didn't want to rely on others for support. I needed to support myself, and do it on my own.

Something new
I'm sure I'll still be pondering this the rest of this month. But I think the main thing I want to do next year that would be "new" is to truly become a "home maker." This has been on my mind for a couple of months, and I really don't know why because it's not something that I have ever given much thought to. Well, I guess I do know why--it's pretty evident that God has placed this on my heart.

I've been a stay-at-home-mom for nearly seven years now. I've worked a couple of part-time jobs several times, to help out, but they never lasted. I think the biggest reason is because I was fighting my calling for now--to be at home.

I want to learn how to truly make our house a home. It is now, but I want to make it even more so. I want our home to be a "soft place to land" (in Dr. Phil's words) for my husband and our children. I want it to be a safe-haven for our family. I desire for our home to be godly, a place where, when others enter, they feel God's presence and love.

So there you have it--my something old and something new. What's yours?

November 29, 2005

Time off

Happy HolidaysIn light of many things which have happened over the last several days, I'm taking some much needed time off, indefinitely. I have already limited my time on the internet for about a week now.

My blogging will be at a minimum. I will post updates now and again, but I won't blog daily like I've been doing the last couple of years. If you get too bored, just browse through my archives. There's some good stuff there. ;)

Robert will be home from Iraq in a few weeks. This has been a long, stressful year and I have much to do in the coming weeks before his homecoming. I know you will understand, and I look forward to posting updates and photos in a couple of months.

I will respond to all comments left here, so feel free to drop me a line or two.

Until we meet again, be blessed and have a wonderful holiday. Celebrate with your family and friends and make the most of every moment together.

November 27, 2005

Rocks

When a friend emailed me late Friday and told me my websites were down, I panicked. I clicked from one to another, and sure enough, every single website I'd done (including my clients' sites) were down because of a hosting issue.

Great! I thought. What in the world is going on, and what am I going to do about this?

My initial reaction to conflict is panic. My heart races, my breathing speeds to a near-hyperventilation state. I start to feel helpless. It's one of those times when those negative inner voices started jumping out and yelling, "Boo!"

After checking each website, I swallowed hard and took a deep, cleansing breath. It's just a website, I told myself. It can be fixed.

Sure, this is more than a small matter. I have clients to take care of, even though what is going on with the hosting isn't my fault. But getting angry and frustrated will only add to the problem, not help it.

To be honest with you, I'm amazing myself right now. The calmness I feel inside is something new, different. And I like it. I am learning that if I turn to God and ask for direction, He never fails to lead me down the right path.

"though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand."
- Psalm 37:24

Something's Up

As you've noticed, I'm having hosting issues on my website. I apologize for all the mess, but am working on it. For now, I'm redirecting my website to my blog on Blogger.

More later!

October 10, 2005

Give me Jesus

Give me JesusAs I read my scripture passage for today, I feel so encouraged by God. And it's really just another confirmation of what Pastor preached last night. The title of his sermon was, "How Long is the Night?" The title of his sermon yesterday morning was, "The Miracle is in Your Mouth." Get the idea? We really are in control of how long the darkness surrounds us.

A few months ago I went through an extremely difficult trial; in my family, which affected my spirit. I felt beaten down and broken. Hopeless. Angry. How, after all, could a loving God allow such a bad thing to happen?!

Once I finally overcame my own flesh, I was able to take a step back and realize a couple of things. One, just because something happens (good or bad), that doesn't mean God allowed it to. And secondly, most of the "bad" things bring good in the end.

I was so focused and fixed on the negatives of the situation that I couldn't see any good coming from it. Oh, but it did! God taught me a valuable lesson. Trust. Faith. And praising Him, in good times and bad.

Without God in my life, I know I would be a basket case right now. And believe me...I don't say those words lightly. My closest friends can attest to that fact. They've seen me at my lowest and weakest. But through God, and with God, I can do all things!

Jesus is my source of strength. He is a very present help in time of need. Sometimes those words sound redundant and rote, but if you chew them for a while, you will taste the sweet, savory flavors of their truth.

Let the world have their vane gods, but give me Jesus!

October 08, 2005

Changes...again!

I have been working on a top-secret mission. Well, okay...it wasn't really top-secret. I am revamping my entire website. Ah, yes, I hear all the sighs and sarcastic rolling of eyes out there. I know, I know. Why, you ask? Well, sit back and I'll tell you why.

The answer is simple, really. For a long time, I've felt as though my personal website contained a whole lotta nothing. There, I said it. Plain and simple. And to be quite frank with you, it was actually a reflection of me. A whole lotta nothing going on.

So I got to thinking. And I thought, 'Self, what should we do?' And you do you know myself said? She looked me square in the eye and said, "You should get serious!" So that's what I'm doing.

My revamped website will reflect my writing ambitions. I once heard that if you want to be successful, think successfully. I've also heard you are what you think. Oh yeah, same thing. Okay, well anyway! You get my drift.

I am so thrilled about the new look, new layout, new logo, new everything. I can't wait until you see it. Oh yeah, I will be redirecting my blog to the home page, so if you link to me, you can go ahead and change your link to http://www.hopewilbanks.com/ since this is where my blog will be located in the very near future.

I honestly believe that I am moving forward in my life, mostly personally. I have been through a tremendous amount of stress and pressure throughout this year. BUT I have persevered through these difficult times as well. I have/am accomplishing something that I never thought I would--I'm finishing a course I started several years ago! I should be done in April 2006, which works out perfectly since Robert will be back then.

While I have experienced many more valleys than peaks this year, I count it all for joy. Without the pressure of living alone and raising two children alone and the stress and worry about Robert being in Iraq, I would probably have never realized my own inner strength. Day by day, step by step, I have rediscovered me, and that is nothing short of wonderful and amazing, in my book.

So....! Stay tuned, keep watching and don't forget to bookmark if you haven't already. I think you'll like the new look and feel, too.

October 05, 2005

Reach Higher

ReachA good friend and I engaged in an interesting discussion today. We are very much alike in many ways. We don't trust ourself enough. We doubt and questions ourself, even when we know what our own truth is. We do the opposite of what we think we should at times, and then later regret following after someone else's advice, instead of trusting our own instincts.

Speaking for myself, I think a lot of this has to do with the way I have always viewed myself. Because of my past, I learned to never trust myself and to always--ALWAYS--doubt myself, and never, ever believe in myself.

When I finally learned that my past cannot hold me captive, but that I have to allow myself to be encaptured by its chains, I realized that I have to create new habits, new ways of thinking. One of those new habits is to recognize and be proud of my own accomplishments. This may sound simple and silly to some of you, but for those of you who understand what I'm talking about, you know this is a GIGANTIC step towards personal freedom.

To know who you are and embrace yourself, flaws and all, is a major key in gaining self-confidence and freedom. I know now that as a recovering "people-pleaser," it is of utmost importance for me to take a step back at times and remind myself that I am in control of me--no one else can make me do anything I don't want to do, and I don't have to do something just because someone suggests for me to do it.

What "bad" habit prevents you from being you? Create a new, "good" habit for yourself. Practice speaking positively to and about yourself. Try it, and see for yourself what effects you will experience!

October 04, 2005

Today's Blossoms

From my rose bush in the front yard this summer.I walked to the kitchen to pour my first cup of coffee for the day. I opened the cabinet door and reached for a mug. Rote actions. Then I stopped; lifted the mug back up to eye level and read the quote on it:
"Each day is like a garden path--we look around to find the blossoms even sweeter than the ones we left behind."
- Julie Campbell

That gave me the wake-up jolt I needed from the coffee I was about to pour inside the mug.

What blossoms have I left behind? What contribution did I make to this world yesterday? To my children? To my own life?

I want to begin anew today. I want to breathe deeply and inhale the scents as I trod along my garden path today. I want to pluck beautiful, sweet-smelling blossoms, to gather into a magnificent bouquet. I want to make today the day to grasp what is mine, no matter what it looks like, and turn it into something of grand beauty.

"He hath made everything beautiful in His time."
- Ecclesiastes 3:11

October 03, 2005

Secrets

The cats are out of the bag! I have been secretly attending school, totally online, since January. I decided I wanted to show Robert that I have been productive while he's been away, and the best way to do that was to finish something I started many years ago.

Anyway, I purposefully kept this to myself...for several reasons. One of the main reasons was because I needed to prove to myself that I could do this on my own. I don't need recognition or encouragement from others. I needed to prove to myself that this could be done, and that I could finish it for me. Thus, I didn't want any outside influences, so I kept this tidbit of info to myself, only sharing with a few choice people.

I am nearing the end of this amazing journey, so I have begun telling more people what I'm doing. I think I will be done in April, but after that, I plan on going further in my studies. More to come on that in the future.

The second secret I have been keeping mum from Robert. I started back at Weight Watchers a few weeks ago. I didn't want Robert to know though because I wanted to surprise him when he returns home in December. Buuuuuuuuut...I can't keep a secret from my husband. Never have been able to. I ended up telling him Saturday. He was happy for me, and of course supports me in this. I miss my snuggle-bunny! ;)

September 27, 2005

Looking for Hope

I will post the remaining photos from Iraq later, but for now I need to write.

To be honest, I decided to post a photo a day for 30 days because I felt quite uninspired at the time to write anything. And rather than post a series of blah-blah, depressing posts, I thought the pictures might be best. But here I am now.

Once again, life has become a mish-mosh of stress and sadness intertwined with school, children, etc. The last few weeks have been a great struggle for me. And for the most part, I have kept my feelings masked. Well, except for one Sunday morning when I broke down in the bathroom at church on someone's shoulder. It's funny how when you hit rock bottom and just need someone, anyone, to be there, the one who is there is not who you might expect it to be. I digress...

I once sent an email to a writing group, asking how does an inspirational writer find inspiration for herself. Most of the replies back to me consisted of something along these lines, "I can't believe that a person who is named, 'Hope' could possibly ever feel uninspired!" Well guess what? I am, and I have!

I received a quote this morning that made me pause and think a moment:
"Life is mostly froth and bubble, but two things stand like stone, kindness in another's trouble and courage in your own."
- Princess Diana 1961-1997


Losing hope is an overwhelmingly powerful thing that is nowhere near being a good thing. Hope is the substance of optimism. It drives us when we feel like we couldn't possibly go another mile. Somewhere in the last couple of months, I felt like I had lost my hope and courage to keep fighting through my trouble.

I turned to the bible. I needed strength. Encouragement. Hope. What better place to go to find these things than the word of God? I searched to find a story of lost hope. I wanted--no, needed--to know that when hope is lost, it can be restored again. I needed to know that the battle could be fought and won.

Sometimes the familiar bible stories that we grew up on kind of grow stale because of the redunancy in which they were taught. But it is one of those very stories that gives me strength--the story of Goliath.

1 Samuel 17 places us smack-dab in the center of war. The Philistines gathered their troops and were ready for battle. They were spread far and wide, and the Israelites were scared to death. Saul and the Israelites camped at Oak Valley and spread their troops, preparing for the battle with with Philistines. The Philistines were on one hill, the Israelites on the other, and the valley lay between them (1 Samuel 17:3).

Out steps Goliath, a giant nearly ten feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head and was dressed in armor. His armor weighed a whopping 126 pounds! He wore bronze shin guards and carried a bronze sword. His spear was like a fence rail, with the tip alone weighing over fifteen pounds. And wouldn't you know...even as massive as this giant, Goliath, was, his shield bearer walked ahead of him. (That poses a funny picture in my mind!)

And the battle was on.

Goliath taunted the Israelited army. "Am I not Philistine enough for you? Pick your best fighter and pit him against me." Oh, okay. This is going to be a fair fight. R-i-i-i-i-i-i-ght

The Goliath upped the ante. "If your best fighter kills me, the Philistines will all become your slaves. If I win, you'll all become our slaves and serve us. I challenge the Israel troops today. Give me a man. Let us fight it out together!"

Now here's the clincher verse:
"When Saul and his troops heard the Philistine's challenge, they were terrified and lost all hope." (1 Samuel 17:11)


The Israelites, the ones who knew God and His power, lost hope. When the lion roared, they were deathly afraid and lost hope. Even though they had God on their side.

Wow.

I can understand their position, because that is precisely where I've been. Staring at the face of the 'enemy' and hearing him taunt me endlessly, daring me to rise up against him so he can destroy me. And just like the Israelites, I was terrified and lost all hope.

Thank God the story doesn't end there. Truth be told, if I were in Saul's army, I probably would have turned in my resignation right then and there, too. I mean, what person in their sane mind would volunteer to go in battle against a giant?? Not me! But there was a boy, by the name of David, that was not inhibited by fear.

For forty days and nights, Goliath gave his speech. The Israelites were surely shaking in their shoes. What will we do? What can we do? There's no way to win this!

Jesse, whose three older sons had followed Saul to war, sent David, his youngest, to tend to Saul each day. One day he said to David, "Take this sack of cracked wheat and bread to your brother in the camp. Take these ten wedges of cheese to the captain of their division. Check in on your brothers and let me know how they are."

David arranged for someone to tend to his flock of sheep and headed to the battle zone at the crack of dawn. As he arrived, the army was moving into battle formation, shouting the war cry. The Israelites and Philisitines faced each other, ready for a head-on battle.

David left the food bundles in care of a sentry and ran to the troops who were deployed, to greet his brothers. While they were talking, Goliath stepped out from the front lines of the Philistines to give his challenge once again. Yet again, the Israelites trembled in fear and fell back the moment they saw Goliath. This time though, David heard him.

"Can you believe this man openly chanllenging Israel?" The scared troops weren't too afraid to banter. "The man who kills this giant will have it made. The king will give him a huge reward and offer his daughter as a bride. His entire family will have a free ride."

Now if you ask me, these men had been conditioned to their fear for so long (40 days and nights, remember?) that they had grown accustomed to it. Now their fear had turned into complacency.

David, who was talking to the men standing around him asked, "Who does this man think he is--this uncircumcised Philistine, taunting the armies of God?"

Eliab, David's older brother, heard David fraternizing with the men and lost his temper. "What are you doing here? You should mind your own business and go tend to that scrawny flock of sheep! I know what you're up to. You've come down here to see the sights, hoping for a ringside seat at a bloody battle!"

"All I did was ask a question," replied David. Ignoring his brother, he turned to someone else, asking the same question, and got the same answer as before. The things David was saying were picked up and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.

"Don't give up hope," David encouraged Saul. "I'm ready to go. I'm ready to fight this Philistine."

And what was Saul's response to this? "You can't go fight this Philistine. You're too young. Too inexperienced. He's been fighting since before you were born."

But David was determined. He was relentless. And finally, Saul said, "Go. And God help you!" Oh, Saul, if only you knew!

Sault outfitted David in armor as a soldier. But when David tried to walk, he could hardly budge. "I can't even move with all this stuff on me," he told Saul. And he took it all off.

David took his shepherd's staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the pocket of his shepherd's pack. Sling in hand, he approached the giant, Goliath.

What a sight that must have been!

Goliath paced back and forth. He noticed David and sneered at him. "Am I a dog that you come after me with a stick?" Goliath cursed David by his gods. "Come on. I'll make roadkill of you for the buzzards. I'll turn you into a tasty morsel for the field mice."

I suppose Goliath thought David would turn and run, being the small person he was. Boy, was he wrong!

David looked Goliath square in the eye and said, "You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of GOD, the God of Israel's troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me. I'm about to kill you, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes. The whole earth will know that there's an extraordinary God in Israel. And everything gathered here will learn that God doesn't save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to GOD--he's handing you to us on a platter!"

What a speech! What a magnificent display of faith and hope. David had what all the armies of Israel had not--hope in God. He didn't just walk out and kill Goliath. He walked up to him and told him what he was going to do before it actually happened. If that isn't faith, I don't know what is!

David's show of faith angered Goliath, of course, and he started toward David. David took off from the front line running toward Goliath. David reached in his pocket for a stone and slung it. The stone made impact with Goliath, hard on the forehead. The stone hit so hard it embedded into Goliath's forehead! Goliath fell, facedown into the earth.

As David predicted, he finished the job by cutting off Goliath's head. When the Philistines saw that their great champion was dead, they scattered, running for their lives.

Oh, how great is OUR God!

This story gives me strength and courage. David faced a literal giant and won with great victory. If he could have such great faith to face a giant and never once doubt that he would win, how much more should I be full of faith and courage to face my own giants!

(Scripture from 1 Samuel 17, The Message version.)

September 12, 2005

Iraq in Pictures - Day 12

Sorry about the late post. I have a sick girl on my hands and this has been a long day!



August 31, 2005

30 days of Iraq

Starting tomorrow, I will post a picture every day, throughout the entire month of September. These pictures will give you a look at Iraq, as our guys see it every day. I hope you enjoy, and please remember to say a pray for our troops.

August 29, 2005

Amazing

Every now and then you stumble upon something, or someone truly amazing. My friend is in the process of writing her memoir. Hers is a powerful, thought-provoking story of a teen mom.

She sends me each chapter as it is written, and I am so enthralled in her story that I am drawn to the computer each hour to see if another chapter awaits. I am amazed at the strength and tenacity of this woman after reading her life's story.

Growing up, I knew many girls who became mothers at a young age. I never understood their position. I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea of being a mother at the ripe age of 14. Angela's story is opening my eyes to all the questions and pre-conceived ideas I had about teenage mothers. I am gaining a greater understanding to this issue.

If you are interested in Angela's story, be sure to visit and bookmark her blog, The Life & Times of Me... I feel confident that she will be publishing in the very near future, and this book is going to be a good one!

August 26, 2005

All's well

For now, all is well with Robert. He called this morning and talked with me for a bit. I was pleasantly surprised in finding his photo on the army's website.

CLICK HERE TO SEE

(The caption says, "Soldiers from the 198th Armor, 155th Brigade Combat Team, chat with patrons of an Iraqi convenience shop during a patrol in Najaf." If you don't see it on the original load, hit refresh a few times until you get it. There are several pictures that rotate at random on each page load.)

August 25, 2005

A call to prayer

Please pray for Robert this evening, around 6 pm CST. Thanks! (Update later)

August 23, 2005

True friends

"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up."
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10


True friends are blessings. Most of the time, they come wrapped up in odd shaped packages and are so unexpected that you nearly overlook them.

Life has a way of weeding out friends from the true friends. Haven't you found that to be true?

When I look back at my life over the last decade, I immediately recognize two people who have been there with me through thick and thin. I'm here to tell you that the three of us have been through some major things together. Yet through it all, we remain friends. That is the mark of a true friend.

Together, we have been through boyfriends, break-ups, marriage, miscarriages, birth, death, heartache, joy, heartbreak. I don't think there is anything we haven't experienced together as friends.

True friends are a valuable treasure. Here are some tell-tale signs that you have a true friend:
  • Tears and snot drop to their shoulder while they're wearing a new, dry-clean-only dress and they never notice

  • You get mad about something and they give you your space until you cool off, then forgive you for acting like a jerk

  • You experience terrible labor pains and call at the last minute and they come to the hospital

  • You are alone, your baby is hospitalized, and they are the first person to call or come by to see if you are okay or need anything

  • You're struggling spiritually and have a rotten attitude and they are the first to set you straight and tell you that you have a rotten attitude

  • You know that it doesn't matter what time of the day or night, you can call and they will be there for you

Thank God for true friends!

August 22, 2005

Strength

"It is said that our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength."
- Charles Haddon Spurgeon


Synchronicity is a wonderful friend. :) This quote arrived in my Inbox at the very moment I typed and sent the following to a friend:
"Robert said yesterday was a hard day and this was going to be a rough week. We had special prayer for him at church last night. I would never wish this worry or stress on ANYONE."

Something I have learned this year is that anxiety and stress really don't help the situation. If anything, it adds to the pressure.

One definition of stress is "to test the limits thereof." I can say without hesitation that I have been tested and tried at all points this year. I have been pushed to more limits than I realized I had. And yet, I have endured.

I realize that I can spend every minute today worrying about what's happening with Robert. Or I can summons every ounce of faith and strength within me and make every moment counts towards something wonderful and beautiful that will encourage myself and my family.

I choose strength.

August 21, 2005

For Your Information

While doing research for my current book, I uncovered a valuable source of first-hand personal accounts of the war in Iraq. I am going to share some of these links with you, in hopes that you will also be further enlightened.


And for those who think our soldiers are doing no good...

August 20, 2005

Baby quilt

I wanted to share this a couple of weeks ago, but had to wait until after the Baby Shower, so as not to ruin the surprise, just in case Jennifer reads my blog. ;)

I made this cute baby quilt for my cousins' new baby boy, due to arrive in September. It turned out so cute!

Baby quilt

August 19, 2005

War

Scouts OutMy thoughts this morning are with my husband. I have been following this story since it began a couple of weeks ago. It stirs emotions in me, but not feelings of sympathy.

I totally understand people who have the viewpoint that the war is senseless. I agree. BUT...

Our troops are fighting this war, whether we like it or not. They need our support. They need us rallying for them.

When Robert first re-enlisted a few years ago, I was distraught. It caused quite a rift in our relationship. I didn't want him to sign up. Sure, it was only one weekend out of the month. I just hated the idea of him being in the "Army."

Last year when we learned that he would most likely be activated, and then when he was mobilized, a stark realization struck me. The reason why my husband signed his name on a piece of paper. He did it because of his love for our country.

The men and women who serve in armed forces for the United States of America do it because they want to. They are passionate about their jobs.

When I read stories of how our servicemen were spit on and ridiculed during earlier wars, it breaks my heart. Why weren't they supported? They were simply doing their jobs.

I think what some people fail to realize is that my husband is fighting this war so that we don't have to deal with it in our own back yards. Didn't 9-11 teach America anything??

As I stated in my opening, I understand the position of those who oppose the war. But what are you doing to support our troops until they return home??

August 18, 2005

Sharing

I don't have anything to say today, so I thought I would just share some of my school stuff with you.

This quarter I'm taking Advanced Graphics, which consists of learning how to use Adobe Photoshop CS. I am having so much fun! Here are some of the projects I've worked on over the last few weeks. I'm still a beginner, but I'm learning! ;)


Attitude


Sample Compositing

Rubberband

August 16, 2005

Wonderful works of God


"Open my eyes so I can see what you show me of your miracle-wonders."
- Psalms 119:18

Clouds outside Hope's home



August 14, 2005

Beautiful Rocks

"A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


What "rock pile" exists in your life? Look at it. What do you see?

Do you see just a pile of rocks? Or can you envision what can be made of those rocks?

Each of us are dealt a "pile of rocks" in our life. It's what we do with them that matters.

Can you see? Can you envision in your mind the beautiful, wondrous work of art that will come from your pile of rocks?

August 12, 2005

Courage

"Success is never final and failure never fatal. It's courage that counts."
-George F. Tiltonood


Ah, success. Sweet, isn't it? Oh, wait--what is your definition of success?

My entire adult life felt like a failure. Yes, I said failure.

I am an artist at heart. I love creating things. For some reason, I think this makes me a bit more "flighty" than the average Jane.

When the word "success" was spoken in my presence I froze. Successful? Me? No. I'm just a stay-at-home-mom. No person on this earth considers that a success. Right?

You see, over the years, I had begun many things. School. At home jobs. Yet none of these ever seemed to have a conclusion. An ending.

These loose strings hanging made me like a total and complete failure. I told myself I was a loser. A wanna-be. Stupid.

Once that ball starts rolling, it's hard to stop it.

Why do we focus on our "failures" instead of the positives?

Then one day, God placed a lady in my path that stopped the madness. After probing, Lynn asked me why I considered those things from my past as unsuccessful.

"Did you learn something from them?" she asked me.

"Yes."

"Then why do you look at it as failure? You tried something, it didn't work. So you tried something else. Look at the knowledge you have."

Whoa. It never occurred to me to look at my "failures" as successes.

As I looked through each situation where I counted myself as a failure, I began listing out points of why it was, instead, a success.

I had earned many life lessons. I couldn't see that, though, because I was too wrapped up in what I didn't do.

Success isn't a final judgement, a red stamp, at the top of your page. Success is trying as hard as you can to see if you are capable of whatever it is you are doing. Success is having the courage to try.

August 11, 2005

I'm Still Kickin'!

I have been so busy this week that I just realized I forgot to blog!

This was Emily's first week back to school--a new school. She seems to be adjusting well. I think next week she will be more relaxed and it will start to get easier. It's hard to make a transition like that, when you've already gone through as many changes as the poor child has seen in the past year.

On other fronts, you should see my desk. Oh, wait...no, I'm glad you can't see my desk. It's a mess! Folders, papers, notepads, school books--it's just one big mass confusion. I think my first order of business this morning is to clean my desk. I need a clean slate before I start working today!

Speaking of school, it is going well. I am in my third quarter now. I am enjoying the three classes I'm taking this time around. That always makes it easier. I look forward to the diploma I will receive in a few months. It will have been well-earned!

It certainly has been quiet in Comment Land lately. What are you up to? What's going on at your end of the woods?

August 07, 2005

Is it just me?

I keep seeing a commercial play that really sends me over the edge. The commercial is for a weight-loss company. You know, one of the big-named ones that sends you pre-packaged food for every day of the week. All you do is eat their food and PRESTO! the pounds melt off.

So this YOUNG lady pops onto the screen, all smiles. She looks REALLY thin, so I'm expecting her weight-loss story to be a good one. You know, the kind where she says, "I lost 200 pounds in only three months!" *wink*

Instead, she says (while flashing that brilliant smile, I might add), "I went from a size 10 to a size 4!"

HUH?!

She went from skinny to...SKINNY?!?!

SAY WHAT??!!

What is this teaching the young people of our day? Being thin isn't good enough, people--let's go for being ANOREXIC!

GET REAL!

Look, let's face it. I need to lose weight. Desperately. I have really packed on the pounds since having Elijah. But this really makes me sick. Which makes me wonder about this young woman's frame of mind.

While I am at my heaviest weight (even heavier than I was both times I was pregnant--YEAH, tell me about it!), I have never been more comfortable in my own skin. Yes, it's true.

See, it isn't about how much you weigh, or what dress size you're in. If you are happy with you, that's all that matters!

Size 10 to size 4?! GIVE ME A BREAK! If that company helped--encouraged even!--this lady to lose weight, I don't think I would want their help! What kind of people do things like that????

August 06, 2005

I am a...

I thought this would be fun to do. The results aren't what I thought they would be...but good nonetheless. :)





You Are a Plain Ole Cup of Joe


But don't think plain - instead think, uncomplicated

You're a low maintenance kind of girl... who can hang with the guys

Down to earth, easy going, and fun! Yup, that's you: the friend everyone invites.

And your dependable too. Both for a laugh and a sympathetic ear.




What Kind Of Coffee Are You? Take This Quiz :-)




Find the Love of Your Life
(and More Love Quizzes) at Your New Romance.


August 04, 2005

It's that time again

Yesterday we went to register Emily for first grade. She is thrilled and can hardly wait to get started in her new class. Moma, on the other hand is kind of nervous. Emily will be attending a different school entirely, from the one she went to last year. This means she will be making new friends--all faces will be new to her.

Of course, I am worried about how she will be treated. Will she be accepted by the kids in her class? Being a "new kid" can be tough sometimes. However, Emily does have an outgoing personality, so I am trusting that everything will be okay. I felt a greater sense of peace about it after we left the school yesterday. All I can do is pray and leave it in God's hands. I know He'll look out for my baby!

August 02, 2005

Sponsor a good cause!

My good friend, Angela, will be blogging all night to raise money for Bartow County Foster Children.

The blogging begins on August 6th. Angela will blog every thirty minutes for 24 hours in an effort to raise money and awareness. All proceeds go solely to BCFC.

I am starting a $1 sponsorship drive. Come on, I know you have ONE BUCK!! Let's help Angela raise money for the Bartow County Foster Children.

Go pledge your $1 donation, then pass the word on to all your online friends!!

Just Do It!

One day a man arrived from Baal Shalishah. He brought the man of God twenty loaves of fresh baked bread from the early harvest, along with a few apples from the orchard.

Elisha said, "Pass it around to the people to eat."

His servant said, "For a hundred men? There's not nearly enough!"

Elisha said, "Just go ahead and do it. GOD says there's plenty."

And sure enough, there was. He passed around what he had--they not only ate, but had leftovers.
- 2 Kings 4:42-44 (The Message)


Have you ever argued with God? Sure, you have. We all have argued with God at some point over whether or not we should do what He tells us to do.

God works in mysterious ways. His thoughts are higher than ours (Psalms 139:17).

I cannot tell you how many times I have questioned God. In recent months, I have been pelted with so many situations that just felt simply unbearable. I questioned God:

Why? Why me? What have I done wrong? Why are You allowing this?

Now that I am on the "other" side of the storms, I can look back and, with assuredness, know that God had His hand on my life through it all.

We can never understand God's ways. There are things He does that seems so odd, so off-base. But when we can trust Him and just let Him do what He wants to do, everything works out for the best in the end.

We are His children (Psalms 103:13). He wants the best for us. But we have to be open and ready to accept it...whatever it may be.

The next time God speaks to you, just do it!

August 01, 2005

Who are you?

"When you're in your 90s and looking back, it's not going to be how much money you made or how many awards you've won. It's really "What did you stand for? Did you make a positive difference for people?"
- Elizabeth Dole


This is such a powerful quote. Lately I have been on some sort of quest for truth in my life. I am tired of secrets, deception, dishonesty. I would much rather the truth with a grain of salt than a sugar-coated lie to spare my feelings.

Which brings me to the thought spurred by this quote. At the end of my life on earth, will I be able to look back and be proud of my life? Will I know deep in my heart that I lived my life to its fullest?

Will I have experienced the sorrows of life with a measure of faith? Will I be able to say that I stood firm in my beliefs and never once backed down?

Will my children be proud to call me 'Mother'? Will they laugh and remember days gone by with great fondness?

Will my husband know that I was forever faithful to him? Will he rest in knowing that his faith and trust in me was a valued entity?

Will my friends know that I respected their ideals and opinions? Will they know that I believed in their dreams and appreciated their talents?

Will I have made a difference when my life comes to an end?

July 31, 2005

I'm done...I think

Pshew! It's been a whirlwind of changes around here, hasn't it?! I finally redesigned my entire website, which was what I was trying to prevent. At any rate, I am loving my website now--thank goodness! LOL! I hope you enjoy it, too.

I am interviewing inspirational people and will be updating those as the interviews are completed. I am also included a new section of reviews, including books, music, etc.

Come back soon!

July 10, 2005

Thank You, Jesus!

Tonight I am sitting here thinking about all the things Jesus does for me. He lifts me up when my spirit is sad. He gives me wings to sore above the clouds of sorrow. He gives me hope when it seems like everything is crumbling around me.

He comforts me and takes me into His loving arms when I need grace. He is my loving Father. He knows all and sees all, yet loves me anyway. He died for me--for ME--so that I could be saved. Oh what a blessed Savior is He!

He knows my heartache. He feels my pain. He brings rest and peace to a wearied mind and heart. His love is everlasting. It never ends; it never fails.

Blessed be the name of the Lord, Jesus, forever! His mercy is everlasting. His grace and goodness abound.

Long were the days of my sorrow. Tears seared my face until His nail-scarred hands wiped them dry.

He suffered for me. He took stripes upon his back so that I could receive healing from all infirmity. My gentle, loving Savior bore it all for me. Sweet Jesus, You are my King!

Thank You, Jesus. Thank You for everything. Thank You for caring so much for me, even when I didn't care for myself. Thank You for loving me, even when I didn't love myself. Thank You for giving me life and freedom and liberty in the spirit.

Thank You, Jesus!!

July 06, 2005

Sweetness

I have been so focused on problems and "stuff" lately. It all becomes to overwhelming at times that I feel like I can't even take another breath.

Today I am reminded to enjoy the sweetness of life. Trials and tribulations are bound to come and go. But the sweet things in life are always there, right under our noses if we only stop for a moment to enjoy them.

Here is the sweentness in my life:
  • Baby boy playing "grown-up"

  • Daughter playing school and pretending to be "Ella"

  • Husband honoring our family by defending, protecting, and upholding our American rights


Sweetness abounds. It simply chooses to show up in different forms for different people.

What is your sweetness?

July 04, 2005

Blah

Sorry folks. I know many of you click frequently to check for posts. I am just really bumfuzzled right now. Have been for months now. I can't think straight, much less write anything of any value. If you are a praying person, please remember me in your prayers. I need them right now!

June 30, 2005

Character

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition aspired, and success achieved."
- Helen Keller


I have often wondered over the last several months why my surroundings seem to be filled with chaos. It feels like the things that I once could count on for stability and support are the very things that cause me to feel as though I could crumble at any given moment.

Life is that way. People and circumstances change every day. I am so thankful that my God is never changing! He is and always has been a constant source of love and support to me. No matter what stormy winds blow through my life, Jesus is right there, sheltering me with His scarred hand. He protects me from the winds that blow and the rain that pelts down upon me.

This quote gives me hope. To hear this profound statement that came from a woman who overcame such surrmounting odds gives me comfort. I can expect my character development through all the chaos and trouble that I have made my way through. I anxiously await my soul to be strengthened, my vision cleared, my ambition aspired, and my success achieved. What a thought!

June 23, 2005

People Pleasers

Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them.
-- Matthew 7:12 (The Message)


This scripture grabbed me when I read it. I was a people pleaser. I always had been. I believe it stemmed from childhood. Nevertheless, being a people pleaser is tiring and a never-ending job.

Every waking thought has always been about others, not myself. Worry has always been prevalent in my mind. Fretting over what someone will think if I do this. Worrying about what others will say about me if I do that. Constant worry, worry, worry.

The realization hit me recently that others do not live this way. Well, only people pleasers do.

People pleasers (hereto referred to as PP) are easily taken advantage of. Others can sense that a PP lives and feeds on the need to take care of others. It might not be intentional, but it does happen. A PP ends up feeling used and abused, which is exactly what is happening.

One of my biggest peeves is a "user" that makes the PP feel as though they (the PP) are doing that person a favor. I have seen that happen many times.

One PP I know told me once that she felt all used up. She told me that she knew she was being used because the people that were using her knew she would not say "no" to doing the dirty work. It's a crying shame that a person would go to that extreme of using another human being. This eventually led to the PP moving entirely to another state.

I guess with all my rambling what I mean to say is that we should do for others what we would like for them to do for us. If you know a People Pleaser, why don't you go out of your way today to do something extra special just for them. Help a PP to refill her/his well.