Monday, August 18, 2014

Missing Pepper

Pepper - Spring 2010

Mitchell and Ty with Pepper - Summer 2013

Pepper and I . . . May 11, 2014

Wayne with the boys and Pepper - May 11, 2014

We lost our dog, Pepper, due to an unfortunate accident at our acreage on May 27, 2014.  I wasn't home when she passed . . . she only lived for about 20 minutes after she was accidentally run over by my husband in his truck . . . he was moving some landscaping ties around in our backyard . . . he didn't see her and he ran over her.  I think that due to Pepper's lack of mobility, her unfamiliarity with a truck driving around in the backyard, and my husband simply not realizing she was there at the time, Pepper met her demise.

You can well imagine the distress we all felt over this tragedy.  Pepper was more than just our family pet.  She was an amazing friend as well, especially to Mitchell.  I believe that the relationship between Mitchell and Pepper helped Mitchell get through some very trying times while he was being bullied in public school.  Pepper was like Mitchell's "best friend doggy", and I can relate, because growing up, I had a dog like that as well.  He was an apricot poodle named Casper (a.k.a. Bubba).  He heard me spill out my heart . . . you know, the stuff you want to say out loud, but you can't really tell another human being . . . that is what Bubba was to me.  He listened without a reply--without trying to give advice, or solve the problem.  He just listened.  And I think Pepper was kind of like that for Mitchell as well.  For Ty, Pepper was his outdoor companion.  Pepper followed the boys on their adventures throughout the yard as they explored, played games, climbed trees, skateboarded, biked, swung on ropes . . . whatever.  Ty was especially connected to her in this way because she was his "audience" as he performed tricks on his skateboard from off our deck.  She would lie on the grass, watching his every move.  If he spoke to her, she'd wag her tail--like she understood what he was saying, her big, "smiley" mouth panting accolades for his efforts.
 
While devastation and grief set in to the hearts of our family over this loss, we also knew that Pepper was done with her suffering.  In November 2012, Pepper had a rough encounter with a coyote.  She had to visit the vet, who treated her for an infected bite wound.  Unfortunately, her front leg directly below her neck where the bite was, became lame.  We believe she suffered nerve damage from the attack, and as a result, she was not as agile as she once was.  Due to her lack of mobility, she gained a lot of weight and was not the same dog she was in her earlier years.  In her mind I think she thought she could do anything--but in reality, she could barely get around, especially through the snow in the winter.  Springtime usually brought out a new level of energy in her, but Pepper was never the same dog after the coyote attack.  I had entertained the thought of "putting her out of her misery" this past winter, but my family would not hear of it.  Obviously you hope for the best---that your lame dog is going to get better over time . . . but she didn't.

This is the first pet we've lost that my boys were super-attached to.  We have lost some other dogs (and a few farm cats) in the history of our life with pets, but nothing compares to the sorrow and grief my boys experienced over losing Pepper.  Honestly, it was one of the most difficult parenting days of my life, and I just wish I could have taken away the emotional pain my boys experienced as a result of Pepper's death.

Two days after Pepper was gone, I began to research the possibility of getting a new puppy.  Not that we could ever replace Pepper--but the boys would not even step outside the house to play . . . they wouldn't go near Wayne's truck . . . they were so consumed with their thoughts of Pepper, and there were just too many painful reminders of a missing dog when they went outside, so it was easier to just stay in.  And when you live on an acreage, an outdoor dog is a very good thing to have.  Pepper was the most excellent protector of our yard, and it's going to be difficult to replace her keen sense of keeping unwanted animal "guests" from crossing our property boundaries.

Even though we adored Pepper's blue heeler/Australian shepherd/Kelpie mix, we decided to stay away from choosing another dog of that breed.  I didn't want us to constantly compare the new puppy with Pepper, and I thought that would be more likely to happen if we had another blue heeler-type dog.  So, I checked-out some on-line advertisements for puppies, and found a dog that I thought would fit-the-bill for what we require on our acreage, but at the same time, help us all (the boys especially) get over our loss of an amazing dog.

When we went to see the puppies I had found, Wayne and I had decided in advance, without the boys' knowledge, that we might very possibly come home with two puppies instead of one.  So, when we were checking the puppies out, we informed the boys that they could each choose one . . . and you should have seen their eyes light up and the excitement in their chatter.  They now each own four-and-a-half-month-old female puppies that are a border collie/German shepherd/black lab mix.  Their names are Vimy Ember and Juno Benelli.  They are a lot of work, but our goal to ease the pain of losing Pepper has been accomplished most days.  Of course we still miss Pepper greatly, but the boys have been able to move ahead and focus on their responsibilities with their new pups.  We are still working out some issues with their behavior, but Vimy and Juno are coming along and we are very grateful to have these precious girls as part of our family.

 Juno (left) and Vimy (right) with me--a few days after we got them.

 Mitchell with Juno - end of July 2014

Vimy and Ty - end of July 2014





Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Homesick

My boys recently attended a Bible camp located about 50 minutes away from where we live.  This is the same camp that my husband attended every year he possibly could when he was a child, and he's been encouraging the boys to go to camp since they reached the appropriate age.  However, their enthusiasm and anticipation of camp has never really reached the same heights as their father's, until last year, when they were able to attend a specialty junior teen camp geared for firearm enthusiasts.  They participated in all the normal camp activities, with the exception of what they did during skill time.  For this particular camp, they spent 3 out of 4 skill times doing firearm safety training, and they both passed the course with flying colors.  Another added bonus was that a very good friend of theirs from church also joined them in this adventure, and it was just an excellent experience for them all.


Prior to attending camp last year, we did some spiritual battling and training for our younger son, Ty, who was struggling with the thought of being away from home for a whole week.  Understandably so, given the fact that aside from some overnight sleepovers at his best friend's house, as well as some 2 - 3 day visits to his grandparents' house, he had never really been away from home.  But we were so proud of his attempt to develop strategies to deal with the anxious feelings he was having about being away from home--in particular, being away from me.  We did a lot of praying prior to camp, but for the first two days while the boys were at camp, I was emotionally unstable, which led to a weird sort of paralysis.  Instead of taking advantage of the time I had to myself during the day while Wayne was at work and the boys were absent, I did nothing.  And I mean nothing.  I was so consumed with what was going on at camp (or I should say, what might be going on at camp), and wondering and worrying how the boys were doing, that I wasn't able to get motivated to do anything.  It was a very strange state to be in--one that I should have anticipated was going to happen, but didn't.  Finally, after 2 days of feeling that way, I realized that if they were struggling with homesickness, or anything else for that matter, the camp would call and let me know.  And so, with reluctance, I gave up on worrying so much and was actually able to get some projects accomplished that I had hoped to do in the boys' absence.  I regret to inform you that I neglected to trust God through all of this, and really, that's what I should have been doing instead of wallowing in my own feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.


Guess what?  Mitchell and Ty loved their time at camp, and Ty only had one incident of feeling anxious about being away from home . . . he used the strategies we had suggested to help him through his feelings, and he made it to the end of the week.  He loved the experience and quickly began talking about "next year" . . . which brings us to the current camp season.


Several months ago I registered the boys at the same camp, this time in a teen fanatic camp geared towards paintball.  Unfortunately, their friend from last summer could not join them for the experience this time around, since he had other commitments.  However, due to the age-spacing between my boys, this would likely the last opportunity they'd have to attend camp together as campers.  And since they had already attended camp last summer without incident, I anticipated a successful week, both on their part and mine, in the area of anxiety and homesickness.  That is why I was surprised when Ty expressed feelings of  homesickness the night before he even left for camp.

I was not expecting this at all, so it really caught me off-guard.  Not to mention, I hadn't been praying as much about this whole issue in the weeks leading up to their 2014 camp experience.  For that, I am regretful.


When we dropped the boys off at camp, Mitchell was excited, but Ty was anxious.  He was so anxious that we had to have two pep-talks with him in our vehicle before Wayne and I left the camp premises.  When we left him in the hands of his experienced counselor (for which I was grateful), we knew that Ty would have his older brother there for moral support, should he need it.


That was Sunday night.  By 1:08 p.m. Monday, the camp was already contacting us due to Ty's homesickness.  I had been carrying my phone around with me at all times prior to the phone call.  However, for two brief moments while I was taking my dog outside for a bathroom break, Ty was calling to talk to me, and I missed the call because I forgot to take my phone along with me for those brief moments.  The camp director (whom we know quite well, and trust explicitly) left me a nice message, indicating that Ty just wanted to talk because he was feeling a little bit homesick.  The director instructed me to call around suppertime . . . which was 5 hours later!  Well, you can imagine what was going on in my heart and mind for the next several hours.  I sent Wayne a text at work and asked him to pray. hard. for. his. son.  I spent my afternoon praying that Ty's anxiety would ease, but also, that his dad and I would make the right decision about whether or not to allow him to come home, or make him stick it out.


By the time Wayne got home from work, I had basically concluded that Ty could work this out and finish his week at camp.  For starters, he had done this successfully last year.  Secondly, his brother was with him.  Thirdly, he was in a very safe environment to work out this personal issue, that, in all reality, he had to work out for himself.  And lastly, Wayne and I knew that Ty would regret his decision to leave paintball camp.  He had been talking about this experience for months, and we knew deep down that he would be sorry if he didn't stick it out, especially since his brother was going to return home with amazing stories at the end of the week--and we wanted Ty to be a part of those stories as well.   If we had decided to come to his rescue over this, we felt that it would be detrimental for future situations away from home, because as he gets older, there will be more and more opportunities for Ty to be away from home for an extended period of time.  After praying about it throughout the afternoon, Wayne and I decided that picking him up from camp early was not an option.  Unless he was very sick or had an injury that required our immediate attention, we would not be coming to get him until the end of the week.


Prior to speaking to Ty after supper, I had a chance to speak with the camp director.  He indicated that this scenario was fairly common, and it was our decision as to how to proceed.  We let him know that we would not be coming to get Ty from the camp and he completely understood our reasoning behind the decision.  It was good to know that he was on our side, and after my conversation with Ty to advise him that we weren't going to come get him (one of the hardest things I've ever had to tell Ty), the director chatted with Ty about how his week would ultimately be determined by what kind of attitude he had towards it--he could be miserable and not enjoy himself, or he could take advantage of the opportunity and decide to have fun and make the best of it.  Well, our prayers were answered and Ty became less anxious about being there . . . in the end he did have a good time.  However, the jury is still out as to whether or not he will ever be a camper again . . . and that's okay.  We just wanted him to make it to the end of that particular week.  And, thankfully, he wasn't upset with us for making him stay there.  I think he knew he needed to do this just as much as we did.


So, why do I share this story?  (By the way, I applaud you for making it this far into the post--I know the story probably seemed long).  Well, I was thinking that I can relate to Ty on so many levels of homesickness.  But I am not homesick for my earthly home.  I am homesick for a home that I can read about in the Bible . . . a home that I've never actually seen . . . but a home that I long for, nevertheless.  This home is Heaven.  And there are many, many moments, hours, days, months even, that I ache to leave this earth so that I can live in my eternal home with my Father in heaven.  But as much as I long for that perfect home, I know that I have things to do here first.  Just like Ty needed to be "the camper" for a week, I need to be the Lord's Servant for the amount of time He chooses to give me here on earth.   Ephesians 2:10 (NIV) says it best:  "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."  I love that God has a plan for me to do good in this world.  Whether that is doing laundry for my family, staying late after work to lend a listening ear when my co-worker needs to talk about life issues, sending encouragement notes to the women with whom I do ministry, using my height advantage to help the little old lady at the grocery store who cannot reach the item she needs on the top shelf, or helping the single mom who needs me to transport her kids to Air Cadets because she has a night class that creates a scheduling conflict . . . these are all good works that God prepared for me to do in advance.  Every day of our lives is full of opportunities--opportunities to bless and encourage others.  It might be something simple.  It might be something grand.  But there is always some good work that God has prepared in advance for us to do.


And just like it was uncomfortable for Ty at times to make it through some moments of the day at camp, it can be uncomfortable for us to live our life on earth.  But I believe it is often these moments of discomfort in which we grow the most--the time in which we have to trust the most--our faith is made stronger by times of discomfort.  And focusing on the end--eternity--is what can get us through those uncomfortable times.  Holding on to the hope of Heaven and knowing that this earthly life and a hole in the ground is not our final destination--that is what helps me through the anxious moments of my "Heaven Homesickness".


I leave you with some encouragement from Hebrews chapter 11, paraphrased by Eugene Peterson in The Message.  I love this passage . . . especially verses 13 - 16 (emphasis mine):


Faith in What We Don’t See

11 1-2 The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.
By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see.
By an act of faith, Abel brought a better sacrifice to God than Cain. It was what he believed, not what he brought, that made the difference. That’s what God noticed and approved as righteous. After all these centuries, that belief continues to catch our notice.
5-6 By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. “They looked all over and couldn’t find him because God had taken him.” We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken “he pleased God.” It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.
By faith, Noah built a ship in the middle of dry land. He was warned about something he couldn’t see, and acted on what he was told. The result? His family was saved. His act of faith drew a sharp line between the evil of the unbelieving world and the rightness of the believing world. As a result, Noah became intimate with God.
8-10 By an act of faith, Abraham said yes to God’s call to travel to an unknown place that would become his home. When he left he had no idea where he was going. By an act of faith he lived in the country promised him, lived as a stranger camping in tents. Isaac and Jacob did the same, living under the same promise. Abraham did it by keeping his eye on an unseen city with real, eternal foundations—the City designed and built by God.
11-12 By faith, barren Sarah was able to become pregnant, old woman as she was at the time, because she believed the One who made a promise would do what he said. That’s how it happened that from one man’s dead and shriveled loins there are now people numbering into the millions.
13-16 Each one of these people of faith died not yet having in hand what was promised, but still believing. How did they do it? They saw it way off in the distance, waved their greeting, and accepted the fact that they were transients in this world. People who live this way make it plain that they are looking for their true home. If they were homesick for the old country, they could have gone back any time they wanted. But they were after a far better country than that—heaven country. You can see why God is so proud of them, and has a City waiting for them.
17-19 By faith, Abraham, at the time of testing, offered Isaac back to God. Acting in faith, he was as ready to return the promised son, his only son, as he had been to receive him—and this after he had already been told, “Your descendants shall come from Isaac.” Abraham figured that if God wanted to, he could raise the dead. In a sense, that’s what happened when he received Isaac back, alive from off the altar.
20 By an act of faith, Isaac reached into the future as he blessed Jacob and Esau.
21 By an act of faith, Jacob on his deathbed blessed each of Joseph’s sons in turn, blessing them with God’s blessing, not his own—as he bowed worshipfully upon his staff.
22 By an act of faith, Joseph, while dying, prophesied the exodus of Israel, and made arrangements for his own burial.
23 By an act of faith, Moses’ parents hid him away for three months after his birth. They saw the child’s beauty, and they braved the king’s decree.
24-28 By faith, Moses, when grown, refused the privileges of the Egyptian royal house. He chose a hard life with God’s people rather than an opportunistic soft life of sin with the oppressors. He valued suffering in the Messiah’s camp far greater than Egyptian wealth because he was looking ahead, anticipating the payoff. By an act of faith, he turned his heel on Egypt, indifferent to the king’s blind rage. He had his eye on the One no eye can see, and kept right on going. By an act of faith, he kept the Passover Feast and sprinkled Passover blood on each house so that the destroyer of the firstborn wouldn’t touch them.
29 By an act of faith, Israel walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. The Egyptians tried it and drowned.
30 By faith, the Israelites marched around the walls of Jericho for seven days, and the walls fell flat.
31 By an act of faith, Rahab, the Jericho harlot, welcomed the spies and escaped the destruction that came on those who refused to trust God.
32-38 I could go on and on, but I’ve run out of time. There are so many more—Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets. . . . Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead. There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection. Others braved abuse and whips, and, yes, chains and dungeons. We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless—the world didn’t deserve them!—making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world.
39-40 Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I'm Back . . . with Sistrunk Procedure Post-Op Photos!


For those of you checking back with me now and then, thanks for your patience!  I'm not sure what happened . . . my ability to write here diminished dramatically this spring, and now that my summer holidays are almost half over, I thought I should try to do some writing on my blog.

Before I get to anything new and exciting about my life, I wanted to let all of my Sistrunk Procedure and/or Thyroglossal Duct Cyst Removal readers about a new section I have added to my blog, which you will find by clicking on the tab near the top of this page, entitled "Surgery Photos".  I will warn you, though, some of the photos are not pretty to look at, but they might help you understand the process in which you find yourself, or the procedure you are about to undergo.

And for those of you who are just curious about what I looked like immediately following the surgery, and how my healing has progressed, feel free to peruse the pictures.

On that note, I will comment that the above photo was taken 7 months post-op, and from the angle this particular picture was taken, you can't even see the mess that my neck/throat area was once in! I'm grateful for how the incision site is healing, but I will always have a scar there.  This scar is my reminder of God's goodness, faithfulness and love, so I "wear" it with pride most days, with the exception of the days that I find strangers gawking at my neck--likely dying to ask why I have a scar there, but too shy to say anything about it, so they quickly look away when I make eye contact with them.

Anyway . . . I've got lots to share on these blog pages, so hopefully in the next few weeks I'll be more consistent in my posting and you'll get a reasonable update on my life.

Take care.  I've missed you.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Post-Op Update from January 26, 2014

I finally had the time to write my two-month post-op post . . . you can read it here, in case you're interested.  I realize three months plus a week have really gone by since my surgery, but I've had quite a few visitors checking out my blog due to their interest in a "personal experience" story about the Sistrunk Procedure.  I'm glad that others are benefitting from my posts.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Quadruplet Surprise

I think this story is pretty amazing.  I just had to share it on here . . .
From: News Limited Network        1 day ago February 18, 2014 1:23AM
Expecting triplets, Kimberly Fugate surprised
to deliver a rare set of quads          
      





Baby bonus ... Kimberly Fugate was surprised to deliver a fourth identical baby girl.
Baby bonus ... Kimberly Fugate was surprised to deliver a fourth identical baby girl.          

A MOTHER who thought she was having triplets got the surprise of a lifetime when doctors discovered a rare fourth baby during delivery.
“There are more feet,” a physician told Kimberly Fugate after she had delivered the first three.
The four babies, all girls, were born at the University of Mississippi Medical Center on Saturday, just shy of 13 weeks premature.
The Clarion Ledger reports that the fourth baby had somehow managed to hide during the numerous ultrasounds Ms Fugate, 42, underwent during her pregnancy.

Fugate four ... baby Kelsey was hidden by sisters Kenleigh, Kristen and Kayleigh. 
Fugate four ... baby Kelsey was hidden by sisters Kenleigh, Kristen and Kayleigh.

Ms Fugate told the newspaper her husband, Craig, only learned of the last-minute addition when he visited her in the recovery room, where she held up her arm adorned with four plastic identification bracelets and told him to count.
Dr James Bofill, UMMC’s director of maternal-foetal medicine, said discovering a fourth baby during the delivery was a first in his 27-year career.
“I was very embarrassed, obviously,” he said. “The news was sent to me by one of my fellows. I thought she was kidding.”

Count ‘em ... Craig Fugate only learned of the fourth baby when he saw an extra identific    
Count ‘em ... Craig Fugate only learned of the fourth baby when he saw an extra identification tag on his wife’s wrist.    

Dr Bofill said the odds of spontaneous quadruplets were 1 in 729,000. But in Ms Fugates’ case, the odds were even smaller because their girls split from a single egg, meaning the siblings are identical.
“Those odds are incalculable,” he said.
The Fugate four — Kenleigh, Kristen, Kaleigh and the bonus, Kelsey — will join big sister Katelyn, who is 10.

’This. Is. It’ ... a happy Kimberly Fugate says she’s now done having babies.
This. Is. It’ ... a happy Kimberly Fugate says she’s now done having babies.    

Asked by the Ledger if she plans on having more children, Ms Fugate was resolute.
“This. Is. It,” the smiling mum said.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Go Away Sickness!

I had such big plans for this past weekend . . . and into this week as well.  However, my husband and I are both suffering from a nasty flu-cold-yuckiness bug, and it just doesn't want to seem to leave our household.  Wayne had to forfeit a downhill ski day with the boys on Saturday, and has spent almost the entire weekend in bed.  None of us were in church yesterday due to how we've been feeling.  I have the next week off from work, but I'm not sure how many of my goals will be accomplished between now and next weekend due to how I'm feeling.  I really dislike being sick.  :(

Sunday, February 16, 2014

10 Truths About a Woman's Worth (written by a man)

Follow the link below to read Jarrid Wilson's thoughts on 10 Truths About A Woman's Worth.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Real World



Harry Hook / Stone / Getty Images


One of my nieces recently posted the link below on her Facebook page.  I'm so glad she did.  It's definitely worth checking out . . . it made me so happy.  After you look at the 44 photos, you'll understand what I mean when I say that I connected many women I know personally to the women portrayed in these photos.  This is what being a beautiful woman is like in the real world.  Click on the link below to view.


http://www.buzzfeed.com/ashleyperez/stock-photos-that-hope-to-change-the-way-we-look-at-women?utm_term=P3Q9L289OGhxeWpiazBqYg%3D%3D&fb_ref=P3Q9L289OGhxeWpiazBqYg%3D%3D#P3Q9L289OGhxeWpiazBqYg==

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine's Schmalentine's

I love the concept of the day.  Showing love extravagantly.  Showing the ones you love how much they mean to you and how much you care about them.  But I sort of think this is something that should happen on a regular basis, not just one day a year.

I think the day has been made into something that perhaps, it was not originally intended to be.  I think that consumerism is fueling Valentine's Day, as well as expectations placed on couples, which might not even be realistic.

I used to be an all-out "Valentiner" . . . before I was married.  I would loathe the fact that I was single, longing for what I thought would be such a perfect day, if only I were in love.  Or if someone else were in love with me.

Those days are long gone.  When you've been with your spouse for 17 years, you know that there is an ebb and flow that exists within the marital relationship, and sometimes February 14th is a "bad marriage day".  What do you do with that?

Well, first of all, I bathe my marriage in prayer.  I ask that God works in my heart first, and that the Holy Spirit will convict my husband of what he needs to change, not what I hope will change.  Secondly, I face the day with no expectations.  This was a hard lesson for me to learn, and let me tell you, many a Valentine's Days have passed where my feelings towards my husband were more hateful than loving, because I had placed this ideal "Valentine's Day" expectation on the table, and in all reality, it wasn't necessary for my husband to act on that ideal just to prove that he loves me.   Everyone has a different way of expressing love, and that's fine.  Actually, as time goes on, I think it is safe to say, and okay to say, that our "romancing" has become more purposefully comfortable in recent years than it has been for the purpose of alluring my spouse in the more traditional sense of the word "romancing".  I'm not sure how my readers will take that, but for us, it's okay.  I am okay with the fact that I am more comfortable in my marriage with Wayne now--more than I was yesterday, or the day we married, or two months ago.  I think that's growth.

Don't get me wrong.  I still enjoy dating.  As far as I'm concerned, dates are necessary for us.  Dates are a time for us to reconnect without the distractions of our responsibilities at home, our children, our jobs, our friends, etc.  It's time for us to just be us.  While these dates are not always traditional in the sense of a date, there are many days that I am just as happy to have a stay-at-home-date than I am to have a dress-up-and-go-out-date.  Truly, it's more about making a connection than it is about where the date takes place.

Outside of marriage, I think there is also a place to show love to others on a daily basis.  There are hurting people all around us, and I think that any time we show an expression of love to another human being, because of the fact that God loves us and we love God, a greater purpose is accomplished.  I love the lyrics in the Newsboys song, "That's How You Change the World" . . .


All my life I had big dreams . . . to do big things and make a change
And all the while, I just passed by . . . the simple needs right here next to me

'Cause there's a breaking heart . . .That's fallin' apart
And tear filled eyes lookin' back at me . . . God, won't you help me to see

It's the prayer in an empty room . . . little things we do when nobody's around
A hand reaching out to a heart in doubt . . . it's the smallest spark that can light the dark


That's how you change the world . . .

A million little drops of rain . . . can be enough to cause a tidal wave
A flood of Your love . . . that no one can contain

'Cause there's an empty soul . . .that wants to be known
Around me now, that I can lead to You . . . revealing love that won't refuse

It's the kind words . . . A simple smile . . . More than showin' up . . . Going the extra mile
It's giving everything . . . When you've got nothin' left . . .
Sharin' a little hope . . .With a single breath

That's how you change the world


So, wherever this Valentine's Day is going to find you, remember this:  Love God, Love Others.  And Change Your World!


Follow the link to hear the song . . .













Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

He is With Us

This is one of my favourite songs right now . . . I really want this band's complete album someday . . . Love and the Outcome . . . "He is With Us".



Monday, February 10, 2014

Revive, Empower and Champion




For more thoughts from Ann Voskamp on this, follow this link to her post entitled, "Why You Really Matter:  An Anthem for Women" . . . http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/02/why-you-really-matter-an-anthem-for-women/

Her post (like so many others), brought me to tears.

(I also think it's really cool that she used the term "Champion" in the post . . . further to my post a couple of weeks back about my son's Youth Pastor Intern encouraging the youth group to "champion" others.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.”
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison~

Saturday, February 8, 2014

"Do not try to make the Bible relevant. Its relevance is axiomatic. Do not defend God's word, but testify to it. Trust to the Word. It is a ship loaded to the very limits of its capacity."
~Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together~

Friday, February 7, 2014

Light and Rainbows

photo compliments of sharenator.com

“You can be the most beautiful person in the world and everybody sees light and rainbows when they look at you, but if you yourself don't know it, all of that doesn't even matter. Every second that you spend on doubting your worth, every moment that you use to criticize yourself; is a second of your life wasted, is a moment of your life thrown away. It's not like you have forever, so don't waste any of your seconds, don't throw even one of your moments away.”
C. JoyBell C.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Supernova


“I think that we are like stars. Something happens to burst us open; but when we burst open and think we are dying; we’re actually turning into a supernova. And then when we look at ourselves again, we see that we’re suddenly more beautiful than we ever were before!”
~C. JoyBell C.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Look Instead For What God Can Do

Walking down the street, Jesus saw a blind man from birth.  His disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned:  this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?"

Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines.  When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

John 9:1-5 (The Message)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Beauty in Marriage

    
     Our church is currently doing a sermon series on marriage, and it's just what my husband and I need right now in order to re-charge our marriage batteries.  This year we will celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary, and in some ways the time has gone by quickly, and in other ways, it has dragged.  I am sure many married people feel that way . . . the better years have zoomed by and the challenging years have progressed at a turtle's pace.  Whatever the case, I'm so glad to be "parked" on this theme for a while at church, and so far the sermons have been excellent.
     Without either one of us verbalizing our intentions at the turn of the New Year, we both had made a personal commitment to do a better job at being a husband/wife to our spouse in 2014.  This was before we knew that our church was going to engage us each Sunday for the next two months on the very thing we both wanted to grow in and get better at.
     I allowed a couple of weeks to pass before I actually confronted my husband about some of the changes I was seeing in him with regards to our marriage.  Perhaps "confronted" is the wrong word to use, because that word usually implies something negative is needing to be dealt with.  On the contrary, I believe the Holy Spirit was working in both Wayne and I, pointing out areas that needed some changes to how we were living out our marriage.  Although the changes were/are likely subtle to the outsider, my boys even noticed a different "tone" in the house, so maybe the changes weren't so subtle after all.  We're still working on things, and there's lots to be done; but it's progress, and we'll both take it.
     When you live with someone, they see the truest you that no other human being will ever know---the good, the bad and the ugly.  That's a hard pill to swallow if you enter marriage with unrealistic expectations, and a hope to change the other person into somebody they couldn't possibly become.  For the record, I did not enter my marriage in that way entirely, but until you are actually married, you don't really know what you've gotten yourself into.  You have to trust that you've made the right decision and move forward, whether or not the expectations are fulfilled, and whether or not your spouse does in fact, change. 
     In all reality, my husband and I have changed.  We've changed together.  When life has thrown challenges our way, we've changed.  When life has given us responsibilities and experiences that we would've rather avoided, we've changed.  When prosperity and joy have existed for periods of time within our marriage, we've changed.   But we haven't changed as two separate parts--we've changed as one couple, even though we are two different people, experiencing the same thing at the same time . . . our reaction and response will be different, but the experiences will still change us.  What happens to my husband will ultimately have an affect on me, and vice-versa.  But I believe that staying strong, being grounded in our faith and supporting each other through the changes is what has kept us together.  That, and the grace of God.  Actually, it is only the grace of God has kept us together.
     Our marriage has gone through many seasons, as any marriage will.  I know there were skeptics out there about us, naysayers who claimed we would never make it, and our marriage wouldn't last.  And in some ways we have failed because of how our family fell apart when my stepson had to be removed from our home by Social Services.  I have spent nine years grieving the fact that, while our marriage has managed to stay together, and admittedly, only by a thread at times, we were not able to keep our family unit whole.  This is one part of our story that is scary, and ugly, and messy.  I'm not proud of it, and there are still days that it is all surreal to me.  However, in the midst of those very trying years, we've been able to re-establish a foundation to build on so that we can implement restoration for our family unit.  It isn't going to look like it used to, but I believe that God can take (and is taking) ruin, and attempting to build something beautiful.  Our story isn't over yet, and it won't be until we pass on from this life into eternity.** 
     A few months ago I watched the movie, Eat Pray Love, which is based on a book by Elizabeth Gilbert.  In the movie, there is a quote that struck a chord in me, and it is this:  "Ruin is a gift.  Ruin is the road to transformation."  I think these words resonated with me so deeply because I have felt like much of my married life, and more specifically in the role of being a stepmother, has been spent in a state of ruin.  It hasn't always been fun and there is still rubble that I trip and stumble on because of the ruin.  But I believe it is this ruin that has been an integral part in creating me into who I am today.  It's like the refiners fire that burns away the impurities so that the true beauty of the precious metal can be revealed.  The ruin truly has been leading me to transformation.  I'm not fully transformed . . . I won't be until my physical body dies . . . but there is something comforting in knowing that the ruin has a purpose, and it is as I find this purpose, that God will keep transforming me into who He intended me to be.
Some times it’s hard to grow when ever body is watching.
To have your heart pruned by the One who knows best
Although I am bare and cold I know my season’s coming
And I will spring up in….in this faithfulness.

CHORUS:
With my roots deep in you
I will grow the branch that bares the fruit
And though I’m small I still will be standing in the storm.
Cause I am planted by the river
By your streams of living water
And I will grow up strong and beautiful all for your splendor Lord.

So with my arms stretched out I am swaying to your heartbeat.
I am growing with the sound of your voice calling
You are bringing out the beauty that you had put in me
For your joy and for your glory falling.

Read more at http://www.lyrics.com/for-your-splendor-lyrics-christy-nockels.html#47vOL44retp8Ecvi.99


"Sometimes it's hard to grow when ever body is watching.
To have your heart pruned by the One who knows best
Although I am bare and cold I know my season's coming
And I will spring up in... in this faithfulness.

With my roots deep in you
I will grow the branch that bares the fruit
And though I'm small I still will be standing in the storm.
Cause I am planted by the river
By your streams of living water
And I will grow up strong and beautiful all for your splendor Lord.

So with my arms stretched out I am swaying to your heartbeat.
I am growing with the sound of your voice calling
You are bringing out the beauty that you had put in me
For your joy and for your glory falling."

~lyrics from "For Your Splendor" by Christy Nockels~


**(I have only touched on the story about my stepson, and if you know us personally or have been following my blog for several years, you'll know what I'm referring to; it is too long of a story to get into now, but if you want to learn more about that part of my life, leave me a comment and I might share more in a personal message).
Some times it’s hard to grow when ever body is watching.
To have your heart pruned by the One who knows best
Although I am bare and cold I know my season’s coming
And I will spring up in….in this faithfulness.

CHORUS:
With my roots deep in you
I will grow the branch that bares the fruit
And though I’m small I still will be standing in the storm.
Cause I am planted by the river
By your streams of living water
And I will grow up strong and beautiful all for your splendor Lord.

So with my arms stretched out I am swaying to your heartbeat.
I am growing with the sound of your voice calling
You are bringing out the beauty that you had put in me
For your joy and for your glory falling.

Read more at http://www.lyrics.com/for-your-splendor-lyrics-christy-nockels.html#47vOL44retp8Ecvi.99
Some times it’s hard to grow when ever body is watching.
To have your heart pruned by the One who knows best
Although I am bare and cold I know my season’s coming
And I will spring up in….in this faithfulness.

CHORUS:
With my roots deep in you
I will grow the branch that bares the fruit
And though I’m small I still will be standing in the storm.
Cause I am planted by the river
By your streams of living water
And I will grow up strong and beautiful all for your splendor Lord.

So with my arms stretched out I am swaying to your heartbeat.
I am growing with the sound of your voice calling
You are bringing out the beauty that you had put in me
For your joy and for your glory falling.

Read more at http://www.lyrics.com/for-your-splendor-lyrics-christy-nockels.html#47vOL44retp8Ecvi.99

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

Linking to "The New Church Lady"

I'm going to link you to a blog post that was shared by a friend of mine on Facebook today . . . I think the words of this woman speak volumes . . . check it out for yourself here.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Champion"-ing

     Last night I was sharing with my boys, some of the experiences I've been having with people lately.  I told them about how I've been trying to look past my first-impressions and potential judgement, choosing to focus on the beauty that I see in people . . . new people I meet, as well as people that I've had a struggle with in the past.
     There is one person in particular, who has been mutually
"ugly" (for lack of a better term, and honestly, that is how I viewed her) to our entire family.  Although we rarely, if ever, see this person, she is someone that, whether intentionally or not, caused much grief and sorrow for us when we first moved into the community that we currently live in.  I recently met someone who reminds me of this "ugly" person, but I'm finding the new person to be quite beautiful. 
     This made me begin to question whether or not I could actually see any beauty in the "ugly" person, and yes, I can.  There is something attractive about her personality, and while I fought against seeing it in the past, I now see it.  I haven't actually encountered her for at least two years.  However, up until this week, I would've probably winced upon hearing her name in conversation, or if I saw her somewhere out in the world, I likely would have left the scene so that I didn't have to acknowledge her.  I know this all sounds awful, but I think most people have someone in their lives that rub them the wrong way, so maybe you can relate, even just a little bit.  In the past, while I was watching everyone else around me answering to her beck-and-call, almost worshipping the ground she and her family walked on, it didn't sit well with me.  I couldn't stand it, actually.  This week I've realized that I have been envious of her place in the community.  I have fought hard to even been noticed here, and it has been difficult to witness someone else make it look so easy to fit in and be liked.  She didn't welcome me into her fold when we first arrived here, and I think that quickly burned out my self-confidence as I attempted to build friendships with other women in the community.  Not to mention, she made it known to others that she didn't really care for me or my boys, and I always felt like her opinion of us affected our chances of actually fitting in with anyone else.
     I don't know if and when I'll see her again, but I really feel like I've come to a place where I can accept the good . . . the beauty . . . in this person.  While she and I may never become best friends, I can at least say with good conscience that I have resolved my feelings of dislike in my heart towards her, and I will face her confidently the next time I see her.
     Sharing this story with my boys brought out some really good dialogue regarding people that they have struggled to see the "beauty" in as well.  Mitchell shared about how their youth intern pastor recently had a talk with them about "Champion-ing" people.  I thought that was a good way to put it, especially for a male teenager to understand.  Mitchell views this "champion-ing" the same way as I view "inner beauty".  Whatever term works . . . we'll be using those terms inter-changeably in our home from now on.
     "Champion-ing", by Mitchell's definition, is looking for the good in people and focussing on those qualities, rather than dwelling on their short-comings.  The youth pastor encouraged the kids to "Champion" people they already know, as well as people they'll meet in the future.  I like this concept and I think it fits perfectly with what I'm trying to do in my own life.  I love how the Holy Spirit brought the conversation about, and how my own children are pursuing this adventure as well, in their own teenage-boy way. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Burn Brightly


     In an attempt to "see" the inner beauty of others, I'm enjoying my encounters with people more and more.  I've always enjoyed people, but I'm finding this new focus in my own life translating into how I perceive others, throwing away first-impressions as soon as I possibly can.
     For example, tonight one of my boys participated in a Flag Party Ceremony for the singing of O Canada at a WHL hockey game; I found myself very intrigued by the other moms, and even a great-grandmother, who had brought their kids/great-grand kids to the hockey arena to participate in the Flag Party.  Surface-opinions quickly diminished as I got to see a tiny bit of the beautiful heart of these women, and the sacrifices that they, in particular, made this evening, so that the Cadet they brought would be on time and in best form for their duties, supporting them in the process.
     I know my encounter with all of these women was brief in light of eternity, but I am grateful for what God revealed to me about each one of them in less than an hour's time.  Now that some ice has been broken with these women, I hope to engage in more conversation with them at future Cadet-related events.
     There is beauty all around us . . . in every person we meet.  I encourage you to find beauty in others and to allow your own inner-beauty to burn brightly.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

HOPE

hope-painting
Hope Painting

I love to feel hopeful.  Hope gives meaning to the mysteries of life.  Hope defines my relationship with God, because with God, all things are possible, and without Him, all things seem hopeless--the hopeless situation . . . the hopeless relationship . . . the hopeless world we live in . . . hopelessness can be re-defined by a HOPE that only God can provide through his son, Jesus Christ.  My hope is an eternal hope, for which I am grateful.

Romans 8:24-25 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Hebrews 11:1  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

The following is a commentary to accompany the above painting, which I found at:  http://www.daydaypaint.com/blog/tag/famous-portrait-paintings

This painting is named Hope. Hope is one of the most mysterious and arresting paintings from any age – a blindfolded woman astride a globe, plucking at a remaining single string, when all the others have snapped – an image once seen, never forgotten. Whilst its composition is simple and iconic, its atmosphere is heavy with emotive meaning. It was reputedly painted at a moment of anguish, when the daughter of G. F. Watts’s adopted daughter Blanche died.
This mood is not entirely absent in the painting and G. K. Chesterton wrote that the first thought on anyone seeing it is that it should be called Despair. But the title given it by the artist suggests something quite different; it suggests optimism. It is, in fact, Hope in Despair. An evocation of the human condition; the ability of people, at their lowest point to sense and feel a strand, a single string of hope that keeps them going, when all around is failing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

C.S. Lewis Quote . . .



“Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.

“At present we are on the outside… the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the pleasures we see. But all the pages of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get “in”… We will put on glory… that greater glory of which Nature is only the first sketch.

We do not want to merely “see” beauty–though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words–to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.

~C.S. Lewis~

Sunday, January 26, 2014

POST-OP Two-Month Update

So here's an update on my surgery--two months after it has taken place.

Overall, I would say that I am physically healing quite well.  My incision is smoother than it was a month ago, and the line is diminishing little by little.  If I don't keep the scar plus the area surrounding the scar super-moisturized (either with Vitamin E cream or Aloe-Vera gel), at all times, it gets very dry, wrinkly and pink in colour.  However, I see it each time I look in the mirror, and I suppose I always will.  But I have chosen to use the scar to be a reminder to me about God's faithfulness and healing in my life, in more ways than just the surgery itself.  The scar reminds me that my outer appearance doesn't matter--it truly is what's inside that counts.  I guess that's why my husband repeatedly tells me (by repeatedly, I mean, every time I bring up the scar), that he doesn't notice my scar.  Until I remind him of it.  But yet, he tells me I'm beautiful--he doesn't see the scar because he knows that I am more than a permanently-damaged physical body--he sees beyond that and I do not take that for granted.  I appreciate his ability to see past the physical and love me for all parts--the good and even the not-so-good.  And I'm not talking the physical not-so-good . . . I mean the inner ugliness that he is able to overlook despite my shortcomings. 

Since I last wrote I've had to make a decision that was a difficult one for me, and that is a decision surrounding my voice.  Prior to the surgery, I was an active participant in our church's worship teams, and I sang on a monthly basis.  However, since the surgery, I've tried that once, and it did not go well.  I can still sing (although, I don't think my voice sounds as good as it used to--not that I ever thought I had a great voice . . . it's just not good at all now.)  I have lost the ability to endure a 45 minute practice, followed by two church services of singing the same songs again, which makes a total of singing 18 "songs" on the Sundays that I'm on a worship team.  On the Sunday that I did attempt to sing, by the time the pre-service practice was over, my voice was toast. 

I remember back to when I found out that I needed surgery . . . I shared my fears with my husband about my voice potentially changing as a result of what was about to happen to my body . . . of course it would've been ridiculous for me to avoid the surgery in order to save my voice; however, I'm sad about this turn of events and I hope that one day my voice will return to it's "regular-strength" self.  Thankfully, I am still able to sing as a participant during our Sunday-morning worship time--I just can't do it three times in one morning.


Aside from my destroyed singing voice, the only other significant things that I'm experiencing, which I have my surgery to thank for, is super-dry hair, and super-itchy skin at the incision site.  My hairdresser informed me that anaesthetic can do strange things to hair--even two months later.  I keep moisturizing and conditioning my hair, but to me it always looks like a dried-up bird's nest due to split ends.  And I think my incision-site is itchy because I'm healing from the inside-out.  As per my surgeon, it is going to take about a year for my body to completely heal.  I just need to be patient.



Saturday, January 25, 2014