Wednesday’s Ode #6

Today, I would like to give my tribute to America. Yes, the land of the free and the home of the brave. I love my home, America.

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There are many in this world who would scoff at those words, many who would sneer at my homeland, believing they would be better off without it. Yet, for those who long for freedom, those held under tight regimental control, where do their hearts long to go? Where do their dreams take them when they think of freedom? Yes, it is AMERICA! This land was chosen to be a place where “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”* This is the land of the free and the brave. This country was founded on freedom, on liberty and on the pursuit of happiness. For those who live in this land and get angry at these words, I truly wonder why they still live here! Why stay in a country that you so clearly hate? However, I digress. This post today is not meant to be a rant. It is meant to be a tribute; so, let me pay honor where honor is due! 😉

I LOVE this land of freedom! I can worship freely. I can go where I please. I can do as I please (within the laws of reason). I can choose to pursue whatever course in life I’d like. I can be whomever I choose to be. If I want to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a construction worker, a CEO, a fireman, a retail salesperson, or even a fast food worker, I can be any of these. If I want to pursue a life long dream of singing or a momentary whim of sailing across the ocean, I can do it. The only things that will stop me is my own limitations of dreaming and my own will power to pursue those dreams. This is the beauty of freedom.

Yes, I know we’ve got our problems. I’m not blind. I know there’s people who don’t appreciate this land nor the people who work hard to make it what it is, but that’s not my point today. Sometimes, you’ve got to step out of the darkness to truly see the light again. Often, we must re-shift our focus when there’s so much turmoil and remember the reason we got in this to begin with. This country was founded for freedom. This country was founded on hard work and pride in a nation of diversity and respect for the pursuit of a dream. These are the things upon which this country was built. Let’s get back to the main thing! Sometimes, I wonder if we’ve forgotten the goodness and wonder in the dream of a better future, because we’ve gotten so entangled in the futuristic dream someone else said we should have… (another thought for another day!)

I LOVE this land of beauty! There is an “old” song, sung by Lee Greenwood, that perfectly sums up my love for the beautiful land called America. He says, “From the lakes of Minnesota, To the hills of Tennessee, Across the plains of Texas, From sea to shining  sea, From Detroit down to Houston, And New York to L.A., Where’s pride in every American heart, And it’s time we stand and say, God Bless the USA!” The beauty of this land is as diverse as the people who live here. If you long for snow, just travel north long enough, and you’ll find it. If the beach is more your style, just travel South, you’ll find it. Maybe green rolling “hills” (this term is relative to what you call a hill or a mountain) and Shenandoah Valleys are more your speed, or maybe you prefer peaks as high as the clouds, and tree as big as a house or maybe it’s beautiful plains that stretch for as far as the eye can see. Well, we’ve got it all, just find a map and start your travels! America is where it’s at! No matter, if you’re looking for the city and the night life or the ranch and the country life. It’s all here in this great big land of opportunity!

So, today, I call myself BLESSED to be an American, and I consider myself blessed to be living here in this wonderful land of the free! These are just a few reasons I love this wonderful place! There’s nowhere else I’d rather be. Who’s with me?? 🙂

*Declaration of Independence (found here)

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Right Where You Are

BIG PICTURE LIVING
while DEALING WITH
the HERE AND NOW…

Sometimes, life isn’t what we dreamt it to be. Do you remember? Those dreams you had as a little child…fairytale lands, sweet candy trees, visions of the prince coming to save you…thoughts of a knight in shining armor riding up, slaying the dragons and whisking you away to the city made of gold, the land where it never rains, and evil is far, far away.

Or maybe you were that little kid whose cape whipped in the wind. You became as tall as a house, had muscles made of steel, and eyes full of fire. No villain or evil thing could come against your universe. You could squash them all in a millisecond! Do you remember those wonderful visions of grandeur?

Time moved on, you grew up, and holding those grand dreams tight within your chest, you faced the world. You were determined to have that extra-human strength to conquer anything, or anyone, who might try to stand in your way. Then, the storms rolled in, the lightening flashed and the winds screamed in your face. The fight became real, and the dreams began to wash away with the rain. The struggle grew harder, and, as you struggled just to breathe, you were thankful just to simply survive. Those dreams were shut away in the archives of childhood, and the giant called LIFE demanded your surrender and your obedience. You succumbed to responsibilities, others’ expectations and failure.

Who told you those boyhood dreams couldn’t be realized? Who told you that little girl could no longer dance on the wind and be rescued by the handsome prince? Those voices you’ve been listening to have LIED to you! If you are reading this, if you are still able to move, and if there is still yet breath in your being, you’re not finished! Your potential here on this earth is not through!

Get back to dreaming! Recall those thoughts of the past! Sure, life is hard. Sure, times change and people change, but that doesn’t mean your dreams have to. It may take hard work. It may take failing a few times. It may even take altering the complete expectations of those dreams a little (yeah, so maybe you don’t wear the cape and tights to work everyday), but you can still be a hero to your wife and kids! You can still be swept off your feet by the man you love simply by opening your eyes to actually see him.

See the bigger picture. If you’re not where you long to be, just start right where you are. Start with the here and now. Your big picture can never be realized if you bust up the frame before the details are done. You’ve got to begin right now, right here.

If you dream of someday owning your own business, start researching now how to accomplish it. If you dream of one day writing a book, start journaling and keeping notes today. If you long to go back to college, but don’t see a way, since you’re now working two jobs and have four kids, talk it over with your spouse, make plans, fill out the applications, and apply for financial aid. Was that a teacher, preacher, doctor or contractor dream you had? Then take the steps today to begin realizing those dreams, even if they do seem tiny in the grand scheme of things! You can never begin on the journey if you don’t pack your bag and chart your course. You can do this!

You’ll never get to the big picture, if you can’t start putting the puzzle of life together right now, one piece at a time. If things are just awful, the bucket has holes, and the water is pouring out faster than you can stop it, just start with the one hole. Pick up your hammer and nails, or your spatula and putty, and patch it up. Don’t freak out over all the holes at once. Focus on one or two; then, once those are repaired, start on the next set.

When you successfully jump that first hurdle, and then the next, you’ll be amazed at the energy it will give you to set your eyes ahead to face the next one! That’s called momentum. Get you some! You’ll begin to not only survive, you’ll begin to thrive. When you thrive, nothing can hinder you from accomplishing that big dream, reaching that big goal, and seeing that big picture. Do it! Start today…right here and right now! 🙂

2014 in review

I’m a little late in posting this, but I thought it’d be fun to share anyway. Guess it’s not too bad for a 5-month (July-Dec) journey of learning, ‘growing’ and developing this blog. 😉

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,300 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 55 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.
Thanks to all who helped to make my first attempts at blogging both fun and inspiring! I hope you will join me as we journey through 2015. 😉

Answer to Friday’s Angle #4

Were you able to get that one yesterday?? I tried to make it a little more tricky for intrigue. It is the inside of a water bottle…

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Friday’s New Angle #4

It’s Friday, and you know what that means! Yes, another new angle! 😉

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Clarity

A MOMENT OF VISION

IS WORTH A LIFETIME

OF SIGHT

…Think about it…

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“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” Proverbs 29:18

Wednesday’s Ode #5

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Today, I’d like to give tribute to sweets. I LOVE sweets! I love cheesecake (of almost any kind!) and key lime pie and apple pie. I love cookies, brownies and just about anything covered in caramel. I love sweets!
In actuality, however, it’s not like I eat them in excess, really. Well, I have to amend that, because I’m sure that is completely relative to whose perspective we’re talking about. From the perspective of someone who doesn’t eat many sweets and someone who may be very health conscious, I am probably considered a sweets fanatic. However, to someone who eats sweets all day long or someone who can sit down and eat a whole box of Girl Scout cookies, I may be thought of a lite or moderate sweets person. Either way, I definitely like my fair share of the confections!
Some of my favorites would be warm apple pie, lemon meringue, key lime pie and almost anything cheesecake. I love to have dessert in the middle of the day or even sneak a little cookie at breakfast. *Shhh….. I promise, I don’t do this very often, and I definitely don’t want my boys to follow in my footsteps, but I have to be honest that my self control isn’t very strong when it comes to the sweet stuff. It doesn’t have to be a whole piece of pie, and it doesn’t have to be a half dozen cookies; sometimes, just a little chocolate after-dinner mint will do! …well, maybe two. 😉

All these wonderful treats go just wonderfully with one of my other “loves” that I talked about here

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Thankful for friends

I am currently working on my list of “Gifts of a Thousand” in following the example given by the book, One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. You can read and find out more here. Making a list of 1,000 things of which you’re thankful is not such an easy task. Sometimes, I feel I am making great progress; then, at other times, I wonder if my heart is even grateful.

The other night, I was at a restaurant with about 30 ladies from our church, enjoying a Girls Night Out, and this time of fellowship, coupled with thoughts of those who couldn’t be there that evening, inspired quite a few notes on my ‘thankful list.’ I thought it might be fun to share a little of this list with you today, and maybe it could even inspire you to start making your own ‘grateful’ list…

205. Watching someone be surprised when their meal is paid for
206. Hearing nice, decent men tell a group of ladies, “Have a nice evening, ladies!”
207. One waiter serve 30 women their meals both joyfully and graciously
208. A young mother smile through tears; even though, the doctor has said, “no more babies.”
209. A young wife testify, “The name of the Lord is great!” even after two miscarriages and no promise of a single child
210. An recent widow enjoying time out with friends even while she’s still grieving
211. An elderly widow enjoying time with the girls even though she has a tough time hearing while in big crowds
212. An ethnic friend sharing about challenges she’s facing, trusting God is in control
213. A mom to young girls, whose past could offend, but whose faith in God and surrender to His ways will change the greatest scoffer
214. A young grandmother, new to the event, comes on her own just to meet new friends
215. Young college girls being tight friends through thick and thin
216. A seasoned mom/grandmother whose words of wisdom is a cherished treasure
217. A grandmother whose grown children have gone through various tragedies and trials, yet her faith in God cannot be shaken
218. A vibrant grandmother whose young son lost his fight with cancer, yet through her grief, she’s learned to laugh again
219. A mother to three youngsters, all under the age of five, lead women with grace, compassion and poise
220. A grandmother who has a mother in a nursing home, just lost her daughter-in-law to organ rejection and is less than a year removed from her husband having a heart attack, share exciting news of an upcoming cruise
221. A mom of two teenagers who longed to ‘get with the girls’ and couldn’t due to illness, but sends a text of love and “I’ll miss you!”
222. A mom of three youth, who still grieves the loss of her momma, yet has learned to smile again in spite of the pain

These are the women, and many more, who make up my life. Some of them have been friends for years, some I had just met that night, but I still call myself blessed to be surrounded by them. They are women of strength, women of tears and women of God. They are each a piece of this wonderful tapestry called life, and for each of them, I am eternally grateful. 🙂

Time Stands Still

Last week had a pretty full agenda, usual routine things, several added appointments for me, and several added items for the boys, but all that changed around 4am Wednesday morning…

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JMan came in the bedroom, tapped me on the shoulder and told me he had just thrown up. My brain, still groggy from sleep, didn’t immediately register what he was telling me; so, I said, “Okay, go back and lay down. I’ll be there in just a second.” As I heard him leave the room, my brain and my “mom instincts” kicked in. I got up, went and got blankets to make a pallet in the guest room (I always “quarantine” the sick, hoping to contain the germs), retrieved my own pillows, and told little man to come with me.

I proceeded to make him a pallet, set up water bottles, towels and a night light. We were “set” for a night of sickness, or so I thought, knowing that the boys’ usual course is about 6-8 hrs., and they’re done. At noon that day, after following him to help in the restroom every 30 minutes since 4am, I began to wonder if this was going to be the normal run of sickness. Five hours later, I was convinced this was one nasty stomach bug that wasn’t going to let go so easily.

Everything stopped that day. I cancelled my dentist appointment to get a crown, which I have to say, I wasn’t too upset about. I put off plans to cook for the week (I had had plans to cook several days’ worth of meals), and we ordered out for lunch. My husband took JGrizz back and forth to church with him, as I’m usually the chauffeur, allowing my husband to prepare for his Wednesday night class. I asked someone else to record JGrizz in a drama performance; since, I couldn’t be there, and I called the choir director to notify him of my absence. Joey then chauffeured JGrizz back and forth to school the next two days, as well as, helped him to study for tests and confirmed homework was done, and he taxied him to other events and church for the weekend, all the things which I am very accustomed to doing in my day to day routine.

All day Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I was totally focused on taking care of JMan, tending to his needs, praying, refilling water bottles and cleaning up behind him, all the while, hoping and praying no one else would get sick. (This was a very nasty bug!!) My routine became matched with his, sleeping when he slept and waking when he awoke; otherwise, I stumbled around trying to catch up on the lost sleep, which, I basically did anyway during those hours. It’s never easy sleeping when you’re baby’s sick! I stayed huddled up with him in that guest room for four days. Nothing else mattered except getting him well.

Due to both my boys and my husband depending on me for different things day to day, I had to fight internally with my own mother and wife instincts throughout that time. I felt obligated and needed to tend to JMan’s needs, while I also battled guilt over not being able to be there for our oldest son’s youth competitions that weekend and leaving all the burden on my husband to make sure they were both taken care of and arrived at all the places at which they needed to be for the total of five days (by the time JMan really got well).

It made me think of families whose babies have gone through trauma, are experiencing a terminal illness, or even have a long-term sickness that maybe can’t be diagnosed. How do they function over time? How do they manage their homes, their lives, their personal needs? This realization came to me: they find a “new normal.” Yes, that’s the only thing you can do when your loved one is sick, and they need you. All the other things in life, those things which you thought were of such importance, just seem to fade away. The focus becomes crystal clear: the well being of your child.

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Those days gave me a new perspective. A perspective that, I’m sure, was really always there. It wasn’t the first time our little man had been sick; however, it was the first time he’d been this sick. It was, also, the first time in a long time, I suppose, I stood back and thought of more than just getting through the moments of sickness and maybe thought of more than just the sickness of my own child. It reminded me that time seems to stand still when you least expect it. It reminded me, as I often encourage others to do, to make sure I’m living life to the fullest, and cherishing those with whom I’m living and sharing this life. For, none of us know what tomorrow might bring, and what a pitiful state we will be in if we only realize tomorrow what we missed out on today!

So, can I encourage you today? Take time for those you love, not just in the tough moments, but in the good moments as well. Step back and see those you love in the moments right where they are. Cherish them. Hold them. Love them. Step back and take a look around. Take notice of who is there, where you are, and where you are going together. When we’re able to step back and see the bigger picture, we’re apt to learn so much more!

Answer to Friday’s Angle #3

If you guessed a rhinestone button on jeans, you guessed right! 😉

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