October 01, 2006

Choices

One's philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And, the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.

Eleanor Roosevelt

April 19, 2006

To share, or not to share

I have been rethinking this whole blog thing. I've asked myself what is the purpose for keeping a blog? It seems that over the last two years or so, my blog has evolved. At this point, I'm not sure what my purpose is for blogging.

There's the issue of getting too personal. Sharing too much information isn't always a good thing. I do have the tendency to lay everything on the table, because I think being personal allows people to see that I'm a real person, too. Now I'm questioning if this was a good idea or not.

I would never want to do anything that would be detrimental to me or my family or friends. There's a fine line there and there have been times in the recent past when I've thought to myself that I crossed the line in sharing too much, opening too much of myself here.

I wanted to keep it real. Open. Honest. Truth. But when is too much too much?

I'm deciding what to do. I don't want to delete everything. Yet, I am not sure if I've been too open, too revealing here. Once I decide what my purpose for having a blog is, I will determine what to do.

April 18, 2006

Fiction turn-ons and turn-offs

I started reading a book several days ago. This one's been sitting on the shelf for three years, waiting to be read. Yes, three years. I picked it up at a book carnival the summer that I was pregnant with Elijah and never got around to reading it.

I was a few chapters into it and decided to bring it along for the roadtrip. Over the weekend I read through about 3/4 of it. On the way back home I determined to finish it.

I picked up where I'd left off. I had trouble getting into the book from the very beginning. I just didn't "click" with the characters. I kept getting confused about who was whom. And to my dismay, the plot was totally predictable. Not fun.

I want to be surprised. Thrilled. Ecstatic. Breathless. But I wasn't. I kept thinking, Yep, I knew that was coming. I really dislike reading such books. I don't want to be able to figure out what's going to happen next. I want to be stunned. The ending of the book was a surprise, but I didn't feel closure in the way it ended. Another thing I dislike. When I reach the end, I want to feel like it's done.

On a scale of 1-10 (1 being SUPER! 10 being BLECH!), I'd probably rate it about a 4. It had a good premise, but was so predictable that it bored me. The only reason I read it all the way through is because I don't like to start a book and not finish it. I won't give away the title or the author, because I respect her and her work. I just thought it might be an interesting discussion.

What draws you into fiction? What turns you off?

I'm home!

We decided to come back a day early. Emily has TCAP testing, beginning tomorrow. I wanted to make sure she is well-rested for the tests and traveling the day before testing probably wouldn't be a good idea.

We had a really fun weekend. Emily (who has only seen plastic easter eggs) had a ball dying and hunting "real" eggs. I'm so glad we were there this weekend. I felt like she got to experience something I used to love as a kid. Some of my best memories with my maternal grandparents is Easter Sundays. It was nice to share that with my daughter.

I don't have much to say today. It's way too early. For some reason Elijah woke up at the butt-crack of dawn. Just wanted to post a note to say, "Hi!" I hope you had a fun weekend!

April 13, 2006

Long weekend

My family and I are traveling this weekend. I will resume blogging on Wednesday. Have a fun, safe Easter weekend!

April 12, 2006

The big 3-0

In a couple of months I'll turn 30. Just looking at that number feels weird. I feel like I'm moving to a new phase in my life. It's scary, yet exciting.

I've been thinking about all the things I want to do. For some reason, there never seems to be enough hours in my days. Or maybe it's just that I waste too much time.

So I'm making a plan. I have just over two months to do all sorts of things before I turn 30. Yikes. I better get busy!

April 11, 2006

Practice

"It's not necessarily the amount of time you spend at practice that counts; it's what you put into the practice."
- Eric Lindros


I do my best to "practice" writing every day. Some days I write up to 10 pages before I stop. Other, only 2 or 3. But whatever the page count, I write by hand.

While writing my daily practice pages several days ago, I realized something. Most of my pages are blather. Just the daily grind kind of things. I like to write my thoughts or particular occurrences from my daily life, simply because many times I've gone back and found nuggets to use for essays. But I wondered at what point my daily practice become daily blubber.

In high school, I wrote my very first short story in my journal for English class. I quickly bored of the "Today I ..." entries. I decided to just let my imagination run wild on the pages. Oh, what fun! I even wrote an entire entry once in French! (I shudder to think of the errors in that one!)

My point in saying all this is, practice makes perfect. Yes. But, perfect practice makes perfect! I mean, when practice can be perfected on some level--making my writing about more than just daily happenings--it becomes perfect in itself. It teaches me and I learn from it and grow from it. It really doesn't matter if I write for 50 minutes or 10, three pages or twenty. It's what I put into that practice that matters.

What are you practicing that can be perfected?

April 07, 2006

Life goes on

It's been a full week now since all this craziness occurred. I still feel troubled. I feel unsettled. But I'm trusting in God to be in control of all this.

It's been a full three months since Robert's homecoming. Some days I have to remind myself that he was ever gone for so long. Then there are those days when I see that faraway look in his eyes and know that the battle scars are there. I was told that the transitional period of returning to "normal" life would be the same length as however Robert was gone. I thought they were crazy then. I believe them now. War changes people. Soldiers and families alike. Thank God for strength of unity.

So this is my life. For some reason, God has chosen to lead me down a path I never imagined I'd go. I'm walking, sometimes unsteady and unsure, but I'm walking nonetheless. I thank God for allowing me to be the one to go through this. Obviously, He thought me strong enough to handle it, else He wouldn't have given it to me. And I know in the end, I will be wiser, caring, understanding, and empathetic.

April 03, 2006

Prayer request

I can't much here right now, except to ask for your prayers for my family. There's a lot going on and we really need direction from God. As soon as I can talk about what's going on I'll update, but for now please remember us in your prayers. Thanks!

March 31, 2006

The Separation of Church and Hate

Discovered this awesome article through Lisa's blog. A quote from the article:
"We havent even learned how to love the sinner in our midst, much less the one outside. We need to put a face on sin. Homosexuality is easy to condemn, until you come to know and love a gay person. Abortion is easy to march against until you find out your best friend has kept hers from you."

Read it...very interesting!

March 24, 2006

An update

I guess some of you who know me and keep up with me on my website have wondered what's going on with me. Honestly, I didn't want to share here. I wanted to keep it on the down-low and not broadcast my personal issues online. In all truthfullness, I was afraid of what people would think or say about me. After thinking about it for a while, though, I decided to share anyway. People will think what they will, regardless of what I do.

I have been dealing trying to deal with stress, anxiety and mild depressive symptoms on my own. I was on Zoloft after Robert left for Iraq last year but after a few months I stopped taking it (without my doctor's knowledge). Within just a couple of months, my symptoms returned. I have been fighting this, thinking I was strong enough to deal with it and beat it on my own. I was too stubborn to see that it is a physical problem, not mental.

After another recent visit to the doctor though, he asked me a question that opened my eyes. "If you came to us with high blood pressure and we told you that you needed to take medication daily to prevent a heart attack, would you take it?" "Well, yes!" I replied. "This is no different," he told me. "It's a chemical imbalance in your body that needs medication to help regulate it." I never saw it that way. I was always frustrated that I had to take medicine to be "normal." But he explained to me that the pill doesn't put anything foreign in my body. It simply acts as an agent for my body and aids it in releasing the chemical my body needs for me to be me. So I am back on Zoloft and feeling better. It's only been a week, but I am noticing the changes already, so in a couple more weeks I should be feeling tons better.

I was so afraid to share this because it seems like it's one of those topics among Christians that is supposed to be hush-hush. You're not supposed to be sick. You're not supposed to have problems. You're supposed to be "perfect." The fact is--we're human. Our bodies get ill. Thank God for the resources we have today to help make us better!

So anyway, I just wanted to share this, even though I'm still afraid of what you'll think, in case there's someone else out there going through the same thing. You're not alone. And if you know you're not well and don't feel like yourself, get help. Don't put it off. Procrastinating will only prolong your sickness. There's no shame in getting help when you need it.

March 16, 2006

The best love stories

If you want to read a good romance you needn't look on any bookshelves in a book store. Just open your bible and start reading. The bible is full of romance and love stories. There are stories of redeeming love, grace and love, forgiving love, hopeful love.

This morning as I searched for another scripture, I got sidetracked in the book of Ruth. Ruth isn't just another love story though. As I read her story again, I was reminded of how awesome God is, how wondrous His works are. Even through death, the Lord had his hand on Naomi and Ruth. Because of Ruth's faithfulness and honor to Naomi, the Lord blessed her.

Ruth could have left Naomi just as easily as Orpah, but she didn't. Somewhere along the way, a bond had formed between Naomi and her daughter-in-law. Even after Naomi's husband and both sons died, that bond remained. This speaks volumes of Ruth's character.

When Ruth became an alien in a country other than her own, that didn't stop her. She could have turned back then, and returned to her own family. Instead, she figured out a way to take care of her mother-in-law. Unknown to Ruth, she was smack-dab in the center of God's will.

When Boaz noticed Ruth in the field, he couldn't take his eyes off her. He took care of her, without Ruth even knowing it. He made sure she had everything she needed, and more. He ensured her safety from the other men in the fields. And then, instead of taking advantage of the situation when he had a chance to marry her, he did the right thing.

Boaz told Ruth there was a kinsman-redeemer nearer of kin than him. He called him and ten of the elders and informed him of Naomi's return to the city. He advised him that Naomi was selling land and offered that if he didn't want to redeem it, then Boaz himself would. When the nearest kinsman-redeemer found out that Ruth was part of the package deal, he told Boaz he couldn't do it, and told Boaz to buy it.

From this union of Boaz and Ruth, an unlikely love story, came the seed of Jesse, father of David. Wow!

March 11, 2006

Positively Mom

I'm taking a break from blogging here right now, but you can still find me at my mom blog, PositivelyMom.com.

March 08, 2006

New essays

I have some new essays added to my column, A Long Way From Home, over at JustForMom.com. Click here to read them.

March 06, 2006

Time off

I'm taking some time off. I'm not sure how long I'll be away but I won't be blogging here for a little while. See you later!

March 03, 2006

Let's catch up

  • Husband went to the doctor Wednesday for his follow-up from a previous appointment. Found out the nagging "cold" he's had for over a week is actually tonsillitis. Got a shot and is finally beginning to feel better. Went back to work this morning.

  • Was up all night Thursday night with a sick boy.

  • Daughter woke up yesterday morning running fever.

  • Took both kids and myself to the doctor yesterday. (You can read more about that here.) We've all three got meds and hopefully will be lots better soon. Kids already seem like they feel better but I'm keeping Em home from school today, just in case.

  • AC unit went out a week ago. Found out yesterday we're not under warranty and the unit went obsolete pretty soon after it was installed (which is probably why we got it so cheap). You know what this means. We have to buy a whole new unit. Ah well, such is life. Right?


March 02, 2006

Doctor, here we come

No time to chat today. Sick kids, sick husband. Will write more later.

March 01, 2006

Change

"Any time you sincerely want to make a change, the first thing you must do is to raise your standards. When people ask me what really changed my life eight years ago, I tell them that absolutely the most important thing was changing what I demanded of myself. I wrote down all the things I would no longer accept in my life, all the things I would no longer tolerate, and all the things that I aspired to becoming."
- Anthony Robbins


This one says it all!

February 28, 2006

Enjoying the weather

The sun's shining and it's 70 degrees today. It's been a beautiful day. Windows are open, kids are playing, all is well. I love these pre-spring days!

February 27, 2006

Friend of mine

I've been sitting here, enjoying my "peas and quiet" while Elijah naps this morning, thinking about what I could blog about. My attention has been diverted for a few weeks now. Sometimes one just needs to step away from the rat race and take a breather.

I've been thinking about my life. Over the last ten years, friends have come and gone. Very few (less than three, in fact) have remained and proven to be true friends. And sometimes I forget what it's even like to have a close friend. Not an acquaintance. A real friend. One whom you can lay your worries on, and who can lay her worries on you. One who is there for the heartaches, to wipe away your tears, hold your hand, and cry with you. One who is there to celebrate the joys and share her joys with you. These friends are precious jewels, and are extremely rare to find.

Then sometimes a true friend comes along unexpectedly. Out of nowhere, she's there. This morning I'm thinking about such a friend. We've never met face-to-face, but we've been friends for over two years now. She has helped me through some terrible times. She's been there to listen, when I needed to call and cry. She is sympathetic, caring, and trustworthy. She's been there for me more times than I could count, when I had nobody else to turn to. She's been like a sister to me, and sometimes I tell her I think we were separated at birth.

I love you, Angela. You are one of my dearest and closest friends. I value your friendship and I thank you for being honest, truthful, and most of all, for your kind heart. I pray that God blesses you and your family!

February 25, 2006

Sorry!

I know I've neglected my blog. It's all good though, I tell you, ALL good! I've been totally consumed in art for the last couple of weeks. It's my release, the one thing that I can do without thinking. It actually helps me not to think--which is a good thing, if you know what I mean!

So anyway, know that I'm here. I'll share more pictures in another day or two. Right now I need to do this for me. It's cheap/free therapy. ;)

Which by the way, what do you do to unwind? How do you relax? Share with me!

February 23, 2006

New batch of ATCs

ATC mosaic


I've been doing artwork for about a week now to refill my well. These are some new ATCs (artist trading cards) I made during this week of art splurging. Most are available for trade. (Click on the mosaic to go to my Flickr page where you can view them individually.)

February 21, 2006

In the mail

Primitive dolls with heart flag, drawn by Hope on 2/23/92
Dated 2/23/92 (I was 15 when I drew this!)

Crystal recently found this and I'm so glad she did. It's probably the only physical piece of my past that I now possess. I smile when I look at it because it reminds me of when I discovered my love for drawing, and how good I really was at it (at the time I thought this was "junk"). A good reminder to never throw anything away, especially if you think it's worthless. Put it away, let it rest, and in due time you'll discover the true piece of art within.

P.S. I've been doing more artwork lately. I'll be scanning some ATCs I've recently completed and will share those pictures in coming days, so stay tuned for that!

I see the light! (I think)

I've been battling a certain problem that I haven't fully disclosed here. I think I've probably briefly touched on some of my symptoms. I don't really like to talk about personal issues here though.

Anyway, I've known something was "off" with me, or more specifically, with my body. I just couldn't place my finger on the what. Then a friend called me one morning and started telling me about an herbal product she's been using and how much it helped her. I could tell just by hearing her voice that something in her had changed.

I was somewhat skeptical. I've always been leery of medicine, period. At this point though, I was ready to try anything, if I thought it might help. Since it was natural and not very expensive, I thought I'd give it a shot. If it didn't work, I'd only lose $20.

Let me sidetrack for just a moment and tell you a few things that was going on with me. I'd been feeling extremely frustrated for a long time (I'm talking years, not days, weeks or months). I'd try to work (write), yet could not focus, regardless of what I tried. My mind would wander in a million directions (literally). I would have very brief moments when I turned out pieces of work, but they were few and far between.

The frustration continued to grow because then I'd become frustrated with myself because I couldn't concentrate. It's been a vicious cycle of ups and downs, highs and lows. I've felt like I've been on a terrible emotional coaster ride for way too long.

What's made it worse is trying to hide it from the public. A couple of weeks ago I divulged to someone close to me that I've been struggling and she said to me, "I don't know how you are sane, after all that you've been through." I looked at her, laughed and said, "I'm not sane, people just don't know what I deal with when I'm alone." (Even typing this now, knowing that people I know will be reading this, I'm scared because I'm opening myself to public scrutiny.)

Along with feeling frustrated all the time, I've been dealing with other things like terrible mood swings, bladder problems, changes in my eating habits, anxiety, and extreme fatigue on a daily basis. The fatigue has really gotten to me lately. In the middle of the day, every day, I become so fatigued and sleepy that I literally cannot hold my eyes open. Anyone who knows me knows I do not like to take naps. I think it's wasteful. But I have been forced to nap every day (for the last couple of months, at least).

At first I thought maybe depression was taking control of me again. But I do not feel that "dark cloud" over my head. I've experienced depression before, and I knew that my symptoms this time, although very similar to depression symptoms, were not pointing to depression.

So back to my friend. When she pointed out that I could have a hormone imbalance, it was like a light bulb went off. I'd never thought of it. Fact is, my body hasn't been the same ever since the birth of my son (2-1/2 years!!!).

She told me to join a certain group, where I would get tons of information on hormone balance and treatment. I did, and after going through tons of messages, and doing even more research, I decided to go ahead and try this alternative treatment.

It's been three days since I started using the cream. I hesitate to speak too fast, but I think I am beginning to see some positive changes. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

February 18, 2006

Something fun

Just popping in for a minute to post this real quick. Got this from Angela, who got it from Java Diva.

Choose 6 words that you think describe me. Then you'll see how I view myself, and others view me.

February 17, 2006

Immersion

Yesterday I dabbled in my art again. I started by coloring in a Strawberry Shortcake coloring book. It was fun to just let the crayons glide across the page.

Last night I pulled out the altered book I started quite a while back. I stopped working on it because my perfectionism issues got in my way the last time. I always have an image in my mind when I set out on a project like this, but the end results never looked quite right to me. Yesterday I played. I didn't worry about the art being "perfect."

I ended up painting a few pages and starting a collage on two of them. Then I painted several cards, in preparation to make some artist trading cards. I owe several people return cards from last year and I just haven't had time to make any to send out. I feel bad about it, but that's just the way it is. Anyway, I've got some pretty pinks and blues painted and will probably start collaging on them either today or tomorrow.

No pictures today because my card is still full on my camera. I'll try to dump it as well this weekend so I can share some photos of my finished work next week.

I'll see you on Monday! Have a fabulous weekend....and be nice to you.

February 15, 2006

Love grown cold

I have a confession to make. My love for writing has grown cold. I don't know why. It's been an on again, off again relationship for a little while now. I'm wondering if this doesn't have something to do with all the ups and downs I've experienced in the last year-and-a-half.

Whatever the reason, I'm not happy about this. Not at all. It's like a personal relationship that has turned south. It stings. It hurts. I can't figure out why, when, where it all went wrong.

Writing has always been sort of like a love affair for me. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of writing moments. Creative writing contests. I used to love those. I remember one particular year, my first year in fact, of creative writing. All the students participating in creative writing challenges stayed after school some days for "practice." I remember some kids griping about staying late. Me...I loved it.

I remember the thrill of receiving each stapled stack of purple carbon-copied sheets on my desk. Sharpened pencil in hand, I'd study the picture and list of words, intent on using more than the 3-5 required words from the chosen list in my story. It was fun!

Fast forward to high school. I've told you before about my English teacher that required our class to keep a daily journal for a grade. Oh, how I hated that journal at first! I remember how painful it was to write those pages in the beginning. Then I made it fun by drawing and adding color to pages, and later, writing my first short story within those pages.

Somehow I've lost the fun part of writing. I need to find it again, ASAP.

February 14, 2006

Love

LoveIf I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13 (New International Version)

February 09, 2006

Perfection

I woke up this morning thinking about perfection. Some of the things I struggle with mentally are because I am a perfectionist. So I turned to the bible to see what I could find there:
"No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven."
- Philippians 3:13,14

focus on the prizePerfection doesn't mean everything has to be perfect, without flaw. Perfection means taking a good look at myself, take stock. I might not--probably won't--like what I see. In fact, that's usually the point where I stop. I look at myself, see all my flaws and failures, then focus on each and every one of them, until I've beaten myself into a bloody pulp (inside).

While we can look at and recognize our failures, that isn't where our focus should be. I know that I'm not everything I should be, but my mind and energy should be focused ahead. The past is there, in the past. There's nothing I can do about it. I just have to focus my eyes on the goal, which is heaven. Only then will I muster the strength I need to run this race.

Being a perfectionist means I realize my flaws, then press on towards my goal, on a daily basis.

February 08, 2006

Taking Care of Me

After a little "meltdown" Sunday night, Robert suggested I take a few days off. No computer, no internet, no writing, no nothing.

"You have to slow down, Hope," he said. And I knew he was right. "Your brain is on overload. You have to take a break."

While I knew in my head that I needed--desperately needed--a break, it took a physical and mental meltdown and my husband pointing it out to force me to do it. Later I mused to Robert, "I don't understand why I would rather continue suffering and hurting myself, than just step away for a few days. It's like I can't be nice to myself."

Sad, but true. For so long, I've been accustomed to just going and doing and never stopping. Even when I recognized the symptoms (anxiety, panic attacks, changes in sleeping patterns, etc.), I still did not stop and allow myself to heal.

Monday morning I woke up and immediately my mind began working. What could I do, since I was officially off work? Laundry. Cleaning. De-cluttering. And then.....I stopped myself.

Wait a minute, I thought. If I were sick with the flu, I wouldn't be running around trying to catch up on housework or anything else for that matter. I would sit back, snuggle with my favorite blanket and just take care of me.

So that's what I did. And I have to tell you that was the best thing I could have done. I simply took care of me. I was kind to myself, instead of beating myself over the head (mentally) for all the things I didn't get done that day.

I'm not totally "healed" yet. I don't think it's something that can happen in a few days. I liken it to having a serious illness. If you're not careful, if you try to do too much too soon, you'll relapse. So I'm taking it slow.

I'm still working, but am doing a lot of my work offline. So if you email me and I don't reply right away, know that I'm not greeting you with silence. I am re-prioritizing. God didn't intend for me to be a zombie, constantly "on," and never thinking of myself first. I'm cutting back the fat, in order to be a more healthy, productive me.

Oh, yes. One last thought to share before I head out for the day. Pay attention to your dreams. They can be very revealing. (I don't believe every dream means something, but sometimes you have one every now and then that really sticks out and stays with you once you're awake.)

Last night I dreamed something really weird and crazy. After waking, the dream stayed with me. More specifically, throughout the entire dream, two numbers kept being talked about over and over--the numbers seven and ten. Look at what these numbers represent:

Seven signifies mental perfection, healing, completion, music and attainment of high spirituality. Additionally, you are unique and eccentric.

Ten corresponds to closure, great strength, and gains.

Oh yes...I know that I'm on the right path to taking care of myself.

Take care of you today!

February 02, 2006

Blessings

"Reflect upon your present blessings - of which every man has many - no on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some."
- Charles Dickens


Robert and I struggled financially quite a few years. It seemed just when we'd get our footing again, something else would happen to knock us down again.

We grew tired. Weary. Frustrated.

Between me and you, I got downright irritated. I kept asking God Why? Why does this keep happening? Why can't we get a break?

It was difficult to see past the bad things. They were too large, too consuming in my life. It seemed like only bad things happened to me.

I couldn't see the blessings--healthy children, food on our plates, clothes on our backs, shoes on our feet, car to drive.

Every one of us, whether we are well-off financially or not, are blessed beyond measure. Sometimes I think we forget just how bad it really could get. When Robert returned from Iraq, he told stories of children begging for water and money. He said they'd beg for you to give them anything. We truly are a blessed nation--a blessed people.

Don't look back at your past misfortunes. We all have those. Count the blessings that's in your hands today.

February 01, 2006

Shhhh....

"Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand."
- Karl Menninger

I am blessed with three fabulous, creative friends who listen to me and all my whining from time to time. The last few days I've done quite a bit of it, too. They listen, and then give me the swift kick in the rear (in love) that is much needed.

ListenI think this is why I love writing, too. Writing allows me to "talk" to the page. And the page listens. No interruptions. It doesn't roll its eyes at me, or pop its tongue and shake its head in disgust. The page listens.

Writing gives me a voice.

At one time, I didn't have a voice. Even when I tried to speak, my cries for help went unheard by those who should have listened. Now, I look back and see how my Inner Critic, that voice that stifles my writing at times, comes from my past. Inside, that Voice yells at me, letting me know how stupid I am, how ridiculous my ideas are, how nobody will care, and everybody will laugh at me.

The Inner Critic is that little girl I once was. The little girl I left behind so long ago. Her mouth was taped shut because it had to be. Her words were cut off, and made unimportant. Sometimes that little girl wriggles free from the rope that binds her hands, and rips the tape off her mouth. She kicks and screams and yells. She's scared. Scared of being right. Scared of being wrong.

I am learning to nurture that sweet little girl. She didn't feel a lot of love at one time. That's why she's stuck in the past, stuck being a little girl. She can't help it.

Today I will put that Inner Critic in her place. I will hug her and then sternly tell her to be quiet. Today that lost little girl will be the woman that she is, strong in her own power. That woman, that little girl, is me.

January 31, 2006

Catapult

Be a Catapult todayMany thanks to a good friend (you know who you are) who helped me through a bad day yesterday. Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for listening to me vent my creative and personal frustrations. Thank you for pointing out the obvious, even though I refused to see it. Thank you for understanding. Thank you for being the catapult yesterday that launched me into action last night (I have an article idea fleshed out--because of you). Thank you for helping me see past myself. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!





"We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It's easy to say 'It's not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.' Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes."
- Fred McFeely Rogers

I'd always heard that you never know who your true friends are until you actually need a friend. I'm not sure I ever believed that until recently when I learned the cold, hard reality of it.

My thoughts today are simple. I will be plain, and straight to the point. If you see a need, RESPOND. Don't wait for someone else to jump into action. Be the catapult! YOU make the choice to react to the need. What if there are many others waiting for someone else to act before they react? Become a catapult.

previously published May 2004

January 30, 2006

Goalposts


"In life, as in football, you won't go far unless you know where the goalposts are."
- Arnold H. Glasgow




I purposefully stayed away from this topic on my blog, mostly because I've been afraid of what everyone might think of me if I spoke it. Then I got to thinking and realized that I am not going through anything that someone else hasn't already experienced. So I will share.

I thought I didn't know where my goalposts are. But I do. I just am not very sure about how to get there from here. Ever felt like that?

I can see my prize before me. I see it very clearly in my mind. Yet, I am frustrated because I feel like I don't have direction. I see the flag waving in the wind. I see the place where I'm going to be. But I don't know how to get there.

The path before me looks fuzzy and unclear. It's as though I'm looking through someone else's eyeglasses. The path is distorted. I can't see where the twists and turns are. I squint my eyes, thinking that will help me focus, but it doesn't.

I don't mean to be cryptic here. I just really need some direction. I feel like I am throwing things out, left and right, not knowing where they will land, or if they will land somewhere at all. I feel scattered. And I don't like that feeling.

January 27, 2006

Today

"In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently."
- Anthony Robbins


Last year I worked hard at releasing some of the many pounds I've gained over the last few years. I needed a change, to get healthier, to make better food choices, to live healthier. I found lots of inspiration in The Biggest Loser.

I was skeptical about this show when it originally came out. But with each episode, I gained some morself of hope, realization, understanding, inspiration, for my own journey. Watching people who were just like me, seeing their transformation, was amazing. When you see someone else struggling, climbing the same mountain you've been on a while, and you watch them work through their issues (the same ones you face, too), it gives you hope to keep moving forward.

The Biggest Loser is going into its third season. Right now they are airing a special edition, where families are going in together as a team to lose weight. When I watched the opening of the episode this week, something clicked inside me. It had nothing to do with the contestants. Nothing to do with weight-loss. The theme song they play at the beginning and end is what grabbed me:
"What have you done today to make you feel proud?"

That simple, single question within the song has gripped my heart and won't let go.

It is so easy--SO EASY!--to allow an entire day to slip by without being productive. I've been busy working a lot since the beginning of this year. Last week, though, we were all sick and I was miserable and lost a lot of time just because I didn't feel good.

Hearing that song the other night made me stop and think. And I've been asking myself that very question every day since: What have I done today to make me feel proud? Am I going to let each hour slip by without doing something that will make me feel proud of me today? What can I do? How can I make a difference?

Tell me, what have you done today to make you feel proud?

January 26, 2006

Whirlwind

This week has been a whirlwind--I can hardly believe it's Thursday! I've been pretty busy all week. Starting a new career is challenging, at best, and you really have to keep your nose to the grind if you're going to get somewhere, especially in this career.

Pardon me now, while I blow the dust off my blog...

January 24, 2006

The boy

"Certain thoughts are prayers. There are moments when, whatever be the attitude of the body, the soul is on its knees."
- Victor Hugo


"Do I have to pray out loud?" the boy asked his grandfather.

"No," the grandfather replied. "God hears you just the same if you pray inside your heart, as He does if you say your prayer aloud."

The boy chewed on this thought for a while. Then came time for family prayer. Each member took their turn, saying their prayer aloud. Last, came the boy. The family waited, expecting the air to remain silent.

You see, the boy, suffering through a traumatic situation, was broken inside. Beaten, bruised, battered. No, not physically. But then, rarely do people see the bruises on the inside, do they?

The boy was fragile, hanging on by a mere thread, grappling for some sign of hope in the middle of his awful situation. He needed God--wanted God--in his life, yet he couldn't understand why God would allow so many bad things to happen to him and his family. How could a God that was supposed to love him let this happen?

The family waited, each one silently praying in their own heart for the boy, for God to somehow help him through this trial that they all suffered through.

And then, somehow, somewhere deep inside, the boy found his words. "God, please help *Charlie. And please help me, God. Help me to be a good son..."



*Name changed

January 23, 2006

Busy week

I have lots to do this week. I'm hoping to hear from the editor at Super-Secret-Magazine today.In the event of a rejection, I'm forming another idea to send back to her. How exciting--the waiting!




(Warning: Rant forthcoming.)

Since Robert's homecoming, I have decompressed tremendously. The stress and pressure of worry and fear has been removed. And I will even admit that I stopped obsessively watching and reading news about the war in Iraq, simply because I didn't "have" to.

But there is something that sincerely disturbs me.

The entire world by now knows all about the "Brangelina" story (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie). The entertainment society is thrilled breathless about Brad and Angelina expecting their first child.

First of all, is it not disturbing to anyone else but me that Pitt blatantly had an extramarital affair with Jolie?? Secondly, and most importantly, how can the world get so consumed and excited about such a story, when there are much more important issues at hand? I know that we can't be serious all the time. But give me a break.

Pardon me while I scratch my head in wonder.

January 20, 2006

Book review: Leave It to Claire

Leave It to Claire is the best book I've read in a long time! I could not put down this book until I was finished.

Claire, a divorced, single mom of four, is a successfully published author of Christian romance novels. When the doctor breaks the news to her that she has carpel tunnel and must have surgery on both hands, Claire's world starts unravelling, one kid at a time.

Her mother moves away just before the surgery, leaving Claire to fend for herself (something she hasn't had to do in a while). Her children are distant, and her ex-husband's wife wants to become her best friend. It's all too much for Claire. Sitting at her desk, Claire grabs the closest piece of paper she can find (a Wal-Mart receipt) and creates a list--6 steps to a better life plan.

Claire is an unforgettable character. I related to her attitude and thoughts in many ways (and some in ways I didn't like). I felt as though I were Claire's closest girlfriend, as she related her story to me. I empathized, sympathized, disagreed, disliked, fought for, cheered for, shook my head at, and fell in love with Claire. Her snarky nature is funny and hard to resist. I can't wait for the next Claire book!

Tracey Bateman...YOU ROCK! Thank you for giving us this unforgettable character!

January 19, 2006

I hab a code

I feel so cruddy today. We have passed this horrible cold back and forth and it's come back to me now for the second time in 2 weeks. Only it's worse this time. So no wonderful words of wisdom or powerful prose today. No siree. This gal needs her R&R today.

January 18, 2006

Good

"I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become. Become the change you want to see - those are words I live by."
- Oprah Winfrey

Create your own destinyMy thoughts used to be filled with negative energy. I looked at every situation with an antagonistic approach. If it looked as though something good was going to happen to me, I'd think to myself, 'This is too good to be true,' or 'This would be great...but it will never happen.'

And it wouldn't.

Then I thought, 'See? I knew it would never happen for me!'

I lived like this for years. I couldn't see that I sabotaged myself with my negative thinking.

2005 changed me--in so many ways. I realize I keep saying that, but's it's so true. And this is just one of the many ways that I was changed. I realized that my thoughts created what was to become! When I finally came to this realization, it wasn't easy to stop this bad habit. I had to make a conscious effort to think positively about each situation.

Thinking positive is simply living by faith! I never made that correlation until last year. Living with negative thought processes, I lived contrary to the word of God. Even though I had great faith, I didn't truly live by it because I allowed the negative thoughts to control me.

Here are some scriptures, if you'd like to study this more:

  • Live by faith: Romans 1:17: "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."
  • Faith brings peace: Romans 5:1: "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ"
  • Confidence and joy: Romans 5:2: "Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of highest privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God's glory."
  • Live by faith: 2 Corinthians 5:7: "For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance."

What's even more amazing, and strengthens me when I feel my own faith waivering, is the faith of men and women of old:

  • By faith, Able offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. (Hebrews 11:4)

  • By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5)

  • By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

  • By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. (Hebrews 11:8)

  • By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: (Hebrews 11:9)

  • By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, (Hebrews 11:17)

  • By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. (Hebrews 11:20)

  • By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. (Hebrews 11:21)

  • By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. (Hebrews 11:22)

  • By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment. (Hebrews 11:23)

  • By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; (Hebrews 11:24)

  • By faith he [Moses] forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. (Hebrews 11:27)

  • By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. (Hebrews 11:29)

  • By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days. (Hebrews 11:30)

  • By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace. (Hebrews 11:31)


Live by faith today. Dwell on what is good. Today you have stand at a cross-road. The sign is blank. Fill it with faith. Pave your path with positive thoughts. Believe that which is good--for yourself and others.

January 16, 2006

Landon Snow and the Auctor's Riddle

The first few pages of this book took me back to my childhood. The public library that we used to frequent seemed huge and almost overwhelming to me, as a chid. It was filled with heads of wild game. The eyes of the huge moose head that hung at one end of the library seemed to watch every step I took.

Landon Snow is an inquisitive boy, full of life and loves adventure. Such fun it was to follow him in his magical adventure! Randy K. Mortenson delivers a wild and exciting venture into faith. You can be sure your children's minds are safe in this book.

Inspired

I had one of my infamous "aha!" moments during church last night. A friend, who serves on the mission field on the island of Tonga, has been home for a couple of weeks and was giving a presentation about her experiences. It was awesome just to hear her speaking, because her burden for the people on the island is so evident. And then it hit me.

Crystal always talked about going on the mission field. We've been friends for many years, and I can remember her talking about it from day one. I think a lot of people didn't believe she ever would (although I'm not really sure why). But when God places a call on your life, nobody can stop it or dispute it.

So as I listened to Crystal speak of revival, and her burden for young people, I was amazed at her strength. As a single woman, she deals with loneliness on many fronts. I am sure it is challenging to live in a foreign land when you have a mate with you. But being alone--well, I can only imagine. Yet, she perserveres, depending on God for strength and support.

The second thing that hit me is that she knew what her calling was, and the desire of her heart, and she never lost sight of that. It took years for her dream to come to fruition, but she never lost sight of it. And now, because of her obedience to God, she is living her dream--and the will of God.

In that moment, as I sat in church seeing this tranformed Crystal talk, I felt empowered. I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. If I trust and believe in Him, nothing shall be impossible, because with Him, all things are possible.

January 14, 2006

Muscles

"Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for power equal to your tasks."
- Phillips Brooks


2005 was an extremely stressful year for me, to say the least. There were moments when I felt defeated. There were days I cried so much that my body felt completely drained and void of energy. I made it through long, sleepless nights with sick kids. And through other sleepless nights when I stayed up worrying and praying for Robert's safety.

I can't tell you how many times I felt weak. I felt so weak. I remember one particular Sunday morning when I broke down in the lady's restroom at church. A friend hugged me and held me while I poured my tears on her shoulders. When I told her I was weary and tired, she said foreign words to my ears, "You are so strong, Hope."

"No, I'm not," Snot dripped from my nose onto her pretty blouse.

"Yes, you are. You just don't know how strong you are. God knew you could handle this...that's why He's allowing you to go through this experience and not one of us."

She was so right. I couldn't see it then because I felt weak. But every one of those moments, those bone-crushing, heart-breaking, spirit-fracturing moments caused me to flex my muscles. It hurt. Oh, but did it ever hurt! But those moments forced me to flex my muscles. I was building strength and didn't even realize it.

Sometimes all we can pray is God help me through this trial. That's a powerful pray! Without saying it in so many words, you're actually asking God to help you build your muscles--not take the problem away. You're asking for help through, not around.

Building muscles is not easy. Exercise must be done over a period of time to create strong muscles. Just as this is so physically, it is in every other aspect of your life (spiritually, emotionally, etc.). If you don't use (exercise) your muscles, they become weak and flabby. Your "leg" gives out and you suddenly notice that you can't stand up without grabbing a chair for support.

Remember when you face a challenge that you have an opportunity to use your muscles. It will hurt. But you are creating a greater strength within yourself--strength you never had before. One day those muscles will bulge, and you'll flex them and feel no pain.

January 13, 2006

Praise Day

"Praise God, everybody! Applaud God, all people!
His love has taken over our lives; God's faithful
ways are eternal. Hallelujah!"

- Psalms 117:1-2 (The Message)


I just made an executive decision! Friday will be Praise Day here from now on. I receive a daily scripture via email, and when this one landed, it made me smile.

When was the last time you stopped and praised God like this? I must admit that there have been times when days, even months (gasp, choke) passed without a word of praise falling off my lips. It's so human to get wrapped up in the problems, instead of the praise, isn't it?!

I recently saw a sentence on the marquee of a nearby church and it has resonated in my mind ever since. It said:
Don't tell God how big your problems are: tell your problems how big your God is!


But we usually get wrapped up fussing at God, don't we? Soon after reading that sign, I faced a situation that troubled me. My first reaction, of course, was, 'Why, God?' But that thought came to a screeching halt when I remembered the church sign.

You know what I did? I stopped right were I was, stopped what I was doing and spoke aloud to my problem. Actually, I sang:
"My God is more than enough,
He can supply all my needs,
He is my El Shadi,
He always looks after me
Jehova Jirra,
He is my God!"


I sang myself right out of that problem.

And now, with every day that passes, even when the smallest of problems arise, I remind myself to boast of my God, and not the other way around. I am learning to flex my praise muscles!

Get your praise on--leave your praise in the comments!

January 12, 2006

Suckered

I attended my very first ever PTO meeting Tuesday night. The first graders put on a special little presentation around the "100" theme. It was the 100th day of school, and they talked about how things were 100 years ago. All the kids dressed like 100-year-old people. It was cute to see the little boogers walking around with canes, glasses on the tips of their noses, and powder sprinkled in their hair. That was the highlight of the meeting, of course. I never have enjoyed "clubs" per se. The whole, "Let's come to order" and "Is there any new business" thing never has appealed to me. I guess I'm a bad moma for saying so, but there you have it. ;)

January 10, 2006

Prayer

I found this and thought I'd share:
Printable Prayer Planner

January 09, 2006

Procrastination

"Every calling is great when greatly pursued."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.


As a writer, persistence is of utmost importance to me. It's way too easy to get wrapped up in procrastination. And let me tell you folks, procrastination is ugly, ugly, UGLY! Because when I postpone or delay things needlessly, I get lazy.

Procrastination makes my writing stale and stinky. Actually, procrastination causes me to not form any words at all; so it would be safe to say procrastination prevents me from writing, period.

I know what I've been called to do. But as the quote above states, my calling is only great when greatly pursued. If I'm filled with laziness and refuse to get up and move daily, how great is my calling then? It's not...because it's just sitting there, waiting to be used.

I said all that to say...2006 is going to be the year of NO PROCRASTINATING. There's no time to waste. No time to allow fear to control me.

And speaking of fear, I heard/read something the other day that has resonated within me ever since: Fear is the opposite of love. So let us keep this in mind the next time we begin to feel fear. Let's love ourselves out of the hole of fear, back into the arms of reality.

Here's to a most fabulous, productive, loving week for the both of us!

January 07, 2006

Promising future

My first week of the year was excellent--how about yours?

While I didn't work hardly as much as I'd planned, I spent lots of good, quality time with my family. You can't beat that with a stick.

Emily returned to school on Wednesday. Elijah walked around like a lost little puppy dog. He didn't know what to do with himself. Between you and me, I am enjoying the quiet time (no fussing between kids about him being in her room and why he shouldn't be and what he's doing and why can't I get him out?)

Robert decided to return to work on Monday morning. He said he's getting bored just sitting around the house. I can understand. My husband is not one to sit and do nothing. I had my doubts when he originally told me he wanted to go back to work on February 1st. I didn't think he'd sit around here that long doing "nothing." *wink* That's one thing you can say about Robert--he's a hard worker. He won't let his family go without. Nobody can accuse him of being lazy.

Since Rob decided it's back to the grind Monday, I am determined to get back on a work schedule myself. I have lots to do and I am resolute in building a solid foundation for my freelancing. My first week was a good one, but if I work hard each week--each day--I will get this ball rolling much quicker. So this weekend I'm going to set some goals for next week, flesh out an idea or two, and get ready to start marketing on Monday.

January 05, 2006

Trusting in Him

Robert and I are doing something we've never done before, at least not this way. (I'm not trying to be secretive, but I won't share the details just yet. Once we're past the process I'll give more info.) This process is scary, yet exciting. It's nerve-wracking, yet causes us to be hopeful and look to the future.

It's so much simpler to trust God in the good times, isn't it?! When it comes right down to it though, you have to have a relationship with God.

God isn't a last resort. He is our pillar of strength, through all of life's circumstances--good and bad. If we can't rely on Him and praise Him through the good times, can we, or should we, really expect Him to hold us up during the bad? Yet He does.

We must trust in God. Regardless.

I feel like my faith muscles have been exercised tremendously over the last year-and-a-half. They're not bulging yet, but I've got some pretty strong muscles. I feel like I have been tested and tried at every point. And while I felt weak and helpless then, I know I have come through the fire stronger than ever.

So now I test my faith in God. I have hope. I believe what He promised. And I know that no matter the end result, God's hand is on my life. And that is my greatest desire. To know Him. To follow Him. To trust Him. No matter what.

"What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see."
- Hebrews 11:1

January 04, 2006

Hope

"Hope is wanting something so eagerly that--in spite of all the evidence that you're not going to get it--you go right on wanting it."
- Norman Vincent Peale


What a beautiful quote! How often and easily do we lose all hope? Watch a child who wants a snazzy new toy. She hopes beyond all hope for it. She talks incessantly about it. She will drive her parents crazy hoping for it.

Where does that hope go? How do we, as adults, lose that hope?

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Aha! Faith is the heart and soul, the very essence of hope. When our faith begins to dwindle, we lose hope!

Faith is the assurance, of the things we hope for. It's the invisible deed to the things we hope for. Faith is the proof of the things we can't see. Faith gives us conviction, or strong belief, of the reality of those things we hope for, but cannot see. Faith causes our senses to become aware of those things that we don't see, and believe them, as though they were.

Without faith, we can't hope.

With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. (Mark 10:27)

January 03, 2006

First Acceptance of the year

I just received my first letter of acceptance for 2006. I'm gonna frame this baby. *wink*

It couldn't have arrived at a more perfect time, either. I needed this today. I had planned on a BANG start yesterday, but that didn't happen. I woke up feeling horrible with sinus/allergy crud and ended up sleeping the last part of the day after taking meds.

Anyway, back to the acceptance. I am taking this as a good sign. I have told Robert a hudnred times that I truly believe in my heart that 2006 is the year for us. What a way to start it off!!

Go ME!

January 01, 2006

January 1, 2006

"So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don't sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we've satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late."
- Lido Anthony Iacocca


Wow! I sit in awe of how quickly 2005 passed. In some ways it felt like this year would never come to an end. And now that it has, I wonder where the time went. Isn't life funny that way?!

I look forward to this year. I have a good feeling deep, down inside. I don't know how to explain this feeling, except to say that I feel like 2006 is going to be a really great year for me, and for my family. I believe with all my heart that things are going to go up from here.

To be brutally honest, Robert and I have struggled through financial woes for about 7 years now. For the first time in a long time I feel positive, hopeful, peaceful about our future.

I laid a foundation for myself in 2005 without even realizing it. Today, January 1st, I reflect on 2005 with a smile. I learned so much, grew tremendously, and came into my own. I rediscovered myself and found an inner strength I never knew I possessed.

This is the first year I can look back and candidly say that I have no regrets. What a wonderful feeling this is! 2006 can only get better!