Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

"I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the Truth." 3 John 4

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Since August 2010

Today is January 8, 2012, my last posting was August 23,2010. I just ran out of things to say I guess. And then 2011 happened and just kept happening. Before I knew it 2011 was gone and we welcomed 2012. What did I learn in 2011?

My husband went back to work in late 2010 but has kept his pace under control so we would not suffer burn out again.

Andrew and Ellwyn became engaged in Nov. 2010 and had a beautiful ceremony in Athens, GA October 21, 2011.

Aaron and Susan moved to Edmund, OK in Febuary 2011. Both of them accepted very good job offers and they are now living close to Susan's parents.

Alex and Lauren became engaged in late January 2011 and had a very fun and happy wedding celebration September 24, 2011 in Lauren's home town, Dallas.

Amy took a teacher's aide position at Trinity mostly so Berkley and Major could go to school there, after six weeks she realized her priorities have changed and she wants nothing more than to be a wife and mother. She is a very happy stay-at-home Mom and is thankful for the privilege.

Charlie received a very good job offer from Baker Hughes right before Christmas. It became apparant Christmas Eve that they will be moving to Corpus Christi in early 2012.

Adrian went back to live with his Mom December 1, 2011. He lived with us for ten years but at 16 years of age he was ready to go back. He and Mary Kaye are doing fine and it's as it should be.

Mike's Aunt Marlene, his mother's identical twin went to be with the Lord
December 29, 2011. With both his mother and her sister gone it's the end of an era for him.

So now 2012 . . . Where do we go from here?

Andrew and Ellwyn are moving from Dallas to Denver, Colorado this next week. They're excited and I'm happy for them. Andrew has accepted a very good job offer that will advance his career.

Charlie will be starting his job in Corpus January 22. Amy will follow with Berkley and Major about a month later.

I'm a total blank slate and feeling rather lost.

What did I learn in 2011? I'm still trying to figure that out. I hope I'm learning to enjoy every moment because things can change very quickly. I'm learning that we actually have very little control. No matter what happens however, I am confident that the Lord has our best interest at heart and nothing can divert us from His plan for each and every one of us.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Strange But True

It's strange, and it's scary at the same time. It was one thing to go through it myself, it's a whole nother thing to experience one of our children going through it. It's a part of life really, a part of life we sheltered our kids from and think would never happen to us, in our family. The denial mentality, "you may be going through it but it'd never happen to me" arrogance. But it does happen. Death, divorce, remarriage, "your kids", "my kids", trying to be a family, trying to put things back together. Striving for permanence, security.

We all want the same thing really. We want to be loved. We want to be accepted. We want to succeed. We want to have a family, a place and a purpose. People fail, families fail, churches fail, jobs fail. But God never fails. He is the God of second changes, new beginnings, grace and mercy. He loves us all the same and is the Father of us all.

The greatest joy, blessing and freedom is to open our hearts and our arms and extend grace and mercy and love to each other. To love one another and welcome family whether they be yours or mine or theirs. Family's family. First time, second time. Everyday is a brand new day of grace. God the Father "remembers no more", can't we do the same?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

All is Vanity!

When it doesn't matter, than I've arrived. Yes, I know we have to eat and sleep and work but when only the Lord and my relationship to Him and the infiltration of His Word into my being matter than everything else will fall into place and I will be at peace.

I am beginning to grasp what The Preacher was talking about when he writes, "Vanity of vanities! All is vanity."

I am so very touched today by Brian and Lindsey's post on Pleasant Drive.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I Hate It

Do you know what I hate? Not just hate, but detest? I get so upset and down right angry when I realize it's taking over, again. It consumes my thoughts, my mind. The sad part is, I like it. It feels justified, deserved, and safe.

The culprit: selfishness, self-centeredness, self-preservation.

These lead to fear, and loss. Which leads to suspicion, blame, stubbornness, and refusal to budge for fear of loss or change. Then a feeling of being stuck and helpless.

All the while I'm consumed in selfishness, feeling "safe", or justified, I am the one who's losing. I'm losing joy and happiness and fellowship with my family, true fellowship, openness and oneness.

I hate this battle - this internal battle that's always there but magnifies itself especially when I'm in pain, or tired, or worried or stressed. I just made an excuse for it, didn't I? There's no excuses. But I should realize that it's during these life processes that I'm vulverable and will let my guard down in order to protect myself which is also selfishness. So it's actually a vicious cycle.

The only solution is: to renew my mind according to The Word. Continually. It doesn't just happen once. Oh that would be wonderful wouldn't it, "Ok, Renewed." No, it doesn't happen that way. It's an ongoing process, day-by-day, moment-by-moment.

I thank God because He is a God of new beginnings. His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness. It's really true, every day is a brand new day. My prayer for today is that I will be renewed according to His Word one moment at a time. I am so very blessed!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mother's Day

Andrew and Ellwyn sent me this card for Mother's Day. On the inside it says "Only the Strong Survive!" Then he wrote, "I imagine you felt like this once or twice!! Haha"

The sad thing is, it's probably what he remembers.

Andrew had just turned three when Alex was born, Aaron was five and Amy was seven. I was overwhelmed. I love my children, love them all, love them all the same. And I did my best. I am settled with the fact I did not and do not have a career along with motherhood and homemaking. I always looked at those who do however and thought, "What's wrong with me?" I understand now it was a privilege and a blessing to be at home and raise my children.

Now that I have two precious grandbabies I realize that as much as I love being a mother I should have been a grandmother first. All those things I thought were so important as a mother are not important at all. That's the catch-22.

I love my husband and my home. I love my children. I love my grandchildren. They are the love and joy of my life. This is the love and joy of my life, my husband, our home, my children, my grandchildren. It's a little bit of heaven.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

All Roads Lead To . . .

Where? Here? "Oh no! Not again!"

I remember one time when I was in junior high or so a group of us from church were taken to the State Fair in Tulsa. We were so excited to go and after we got there ran from ride to ride. Several of us decided to go into the "House of Mirrors" or mirror maze. My best friend and I stayed right together and the others ran ahead. We went this way and that way and were ecstatic when we found the "exit" only to be told by the ticket people that it was the entrance and we couldn't come out that way. We went back in and finally without bursting into tears, but almost, I might add, found the exit and there waiting patiently, stood the others. How did they get through so fast? And without anxiety or fear, as if they had a secret map?

It seems like life is very much like that. It seems that most people hug the straight line of normal. Get up, go to work, raise their babies, manage this challenge here, sail over that inconvenice there, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, generation after generation.

And then there's me. Why sometimes do I tend to find myself in the same situation over and over again? Say for example it's a situation that I keep winding up in even after years of thinking that situation is totally in the past. Why do I feel our life is a series of one step forward two steps back?

I have to dig deeper and think that it's a lesson the Lord wants me to learn but I never quite learn it. Why sometimes can I feel free to be me, outgoing and in control, someone who makes "it" happen and then something in side me shuts down, feels stifled, afraid, silenced. Personality type? Possibly. Past life situations? Possibly. Just life? I'm not so sure.

I find my answer in knowing that God's ways are not our ways. There's a comfort in knowing that He holds the future, even the future as close as an hour from now. I absolutelly do not know what will happen tomorrow. I do know the Lord will fight for us; we need only to be still.

Me, Myself and I

Have you ever felt just empty? I mean totally empty? Void of thought or information or direction, yet experience an overwhelming peace at the same time? Have you ever known who you are and realized that you are you no matter what? That's where I am right now. I am who I am. It doesn't matter where I live, who my husband is, who my children are, how much education I have or what my vocation is. It doesn't matter who my friends and relatives are or how much money we have or don't have. I am who I am. I was who I am at 2 years old, 17 years old, 32 years old and now at 55 years old. I am who I am.

There are things about me that are predetermined and of which I have no control, like birth-order and personality type. Then there are experiences and life-situations. My birth-order and personality type determine my response to these and the effect they have on my life. What I understand and believe spiritually also effects my response to situations that effect my life. But at the core I am who I am.

Some people realize who they are early in life and live all their lives as themselves, totally themselves. Some people never know and spend their entire life searching or being what they think other people expect. Some people know who they are and don't want other people to know so they wear masks and the mask changes for different situations.

I've spent a lifetime wondering, searching, changing, adjusting. But now I know. Now I know who I am. I am who I am. I am happy and at peace with that.

The Lord has blessed my husband and me with a year long sabbatical that has allowed us to rest, rejuvenate, search, replenish and resolve. We are looking forward to tomorrow and each and every day after that. It is our desire that who we are is a blessing and a help to each other and everyone we know. I would like to reach out my hand and impart to everyone peace and blessing. I am who I am, you are who you are. I love you. Peace and Blessings!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cats vs. Dogs

"Cats Rule - Dogs Drool." I can't remember the first time I heard this but it might have been in the movie "Cats and Dogs".

I am a closet cat lover. I say that because we have neither a cat nor a dog and I act rather indifferent to either. When I see a cat however I feel a certain affirmation towards them. A co-worker at a temp job I had once said, "Sandy, you're just like a cat. You walk in here and deliver whatever and I don't even know you came in." I like cats because they can take care of themselves and really don't command a response from people. They're rather stately and regal too. And they are quiet and stealth. Most people like dogs, it seems

A friend of mine several years ago was telling me about the door corsage she ordered for her daughter and newborn baby granddaughter. It sounded beautiful and so elaborate, then she said, "I was going to include a banner that said, 'Girls Rule - Boys Drool' but I decided I better not." We got a chuckle out of the idea.

So there we have it, the age old battle - who's better, not cats or dogs but boys or girls? men or women?

I have observed that men reach their peak at about 28-35 years of age and women reach theirs at about 38-45. Mike first pointed this out to me several years ago and every once in a while I'll see something and realize the truth in it. Men and women actually pass each other at a certain point and almost change roles in a sense. Did you see the movie "Benjamin Button"? Now that was interesting. Think about it.

Women while in their early twenties want to get married, have a home, raise babies. Whereas men in their early twenties are building a career, active in sports, and are adventurous and daring. Women want to settle down, men are not quite to the settling down stage.

Then at about 38 years old, women want to go back to school, advance their career, travel, do something daring and adventurous. Men in their late 30's start getting thick around the middle, slow down, want to stay home. See what I'm saying?

Last Sunday while we were enjoying our usual after church breakfast at Lori's Cafe, I noticed an older retired couple sitting directly across from us. They had just come from church too and were very well dressed. The wife wore a mink jacket and more than one large diamond on her finger. The husband had on a nice dark suit. I happened to glance over their way just as he was starting to say something to her and he said it a bit loud she thought. I didn't think so but she shhhed him. He was embarrassed and put his head down. I noticed his hearing aid and felt sympathy for him. He at one time had obviously been someone very important and had provided very well for her. They were no doubt still living on that provision. I could see the role reversal in this instance, she was still strong and maybe even stronger, he was weakening.

It's not who's stronger, or who's better, or who's more important, or who contributes more. It's each one cherishing the gifting of the other and allowing them to fully operate in their gifting. It's respect and honor and communication and the bottom line of it all is thankfulness.

Dogs can live without cats and vice versa. They don't even come close to needing each other and there will always be a debate between dog lovers and cat lovers about which one is superior. But unlike dogs and cats, God created men and women to be partners and to complement each other and bring out one another's best. He created us to work as a team, a unit and to cherish, protect and care for one another. God did and I couldn't be happier.

"For better, For worse, Richer or Poorer, In sickness and in health, 'Til Death Do Us Part."

Sunday, January 17, 2010

3D - 2D

There have been several 3D movies released in the past couple of years. I love going to the movies but I really didn't like the idea of wearing weird fitting plastic glasses on top of my corrective lenses. Adrian wanted to go to "Toy Story 1 & 2", a 3D double feature for his birthday. Well, wanting to do something special for him, we agreed. We took him to almost 4 hours of 3D kids utopia. I made it through the 4 hours but it got to be a little long to say the least.

At the beginning of November "The Christmas Carol" with Jim Carry was released. We wanted to see the movie because Jim Carry was so exceptional as the Grinch in "The Grinch". We reluctantly resigned to the fact that to see the movie we'd have to see it in 3D. We saw it, but, I did not enjoy looking through the uncomfortable, odd fitting plastic eye apparatus for over 2 hours. We left the movie and agreed that would be our last 3D movie. The kids can have it.

One 3D real life fact that the kids have and we can not escape is the 3-dimensional aspect to our beings. It is becoming more and more apparent to me as I get older (ahem) and life progresses that we as human beings are 3 dimensions, body, soul and spirit. Now that's no secret, but the realization for me is: I am beginning to be able to discern which dimension of my being is dominating at the time.

My sweet niece, Lindsey who inspired me to create this blog and begin posting, is beginning her second bout with cancer. She is 26 years old. Her blog, Pleasant Drive is a chronicle of her life since June 2008 when she and my nephew Brian married. Less than two months after the wedding she found out she had cancer. She also has great faith. She posted a very right on post entitled Fear or Faith? What's It Gonna Be? she states that she believes she is in a spiritual battle first and then a physical battle. And I say, "Right On!"

We as 3-dimensional beings live in a 2-dimensional world. The world we live in is physical but it is also spiritual. What happens happens in the spiritual realm first, then it happens in the physical realm. We live and believe it's the other way around. Does that answer the question "Why do bad things happen to "good" people?" How about the question, "Why are our prayers not answered?" Yes, I believe it does. I believe it answers both seemingly answerless questions.

We, as Christians, are saved, and we live in a physical world. The only difference between our life and an unsaved person's life is salvation. We are both subject to decisions, opportunities, heritage, circumstances, gravity, physics, etc. It is only when we crossover the physical barrier and live in the spiritual dimension that we experience a true, miraculous, unexplained, blessed life.

We crossover the physical realm and live in the spiritual realm by getting to know God, really know Him. That comes from pushing past doctrines and cliche's and "truths". Things we've believed all our lives, and opening our spirit and soul to understanding His Word. When we know His Word, truly know deep in our spirit, we actually begin living more and more in the spiritual realm and that determines what happens in the physical realm.

We, because we're saved Christians living in a physical world and don't know otherwise, pray for healing, safety, prosperity, provision, etc. Things that are provided for in the Word. Asking God to provide for us or keep us safe or heal us is like my Sweet Berkley asking me to take care of her. I would be so hurt if I felt she was genuinely afraid I would not take care of her and kept asking me to do so over and over. Not only would I be hurt but I would not be able to respond because I am already doing what she is asking me to do.

Because we pray for things that are already provided for in The Word, our prayers are merely words of comfort to one another. Then after we've comforted one another we just wait and see what happens and usually the natural course of life takes it course, sometimes good and sometimes not good. Then we explain it by saying, "Well, it must not have been God's will."

To pray according to the Word we need to be thanking and praising God for what He has already provided for. We then need to ask for wisdom, opportunity, and discernment, etc. to make decisions in the physical realm that will be in line with what The Word says (the spiritual realm). We should pray against fear, unbelief, pride, confusion, etc. things in the soul realm that are against the spirit realm. When we, deep in the heart of our being know The Word, then we pray according to The Word, then our prayers are answered according to the Word.

Living according to the Word and praying according to the Word, causes things to happen in the Spirit realm before they happen in the physical realm.

I won't be attending any more 3D movies but I am excited about being a 3D being in a 2D world. I look forward with anticipation as I through His Word know God more and more and journey spiritually in a physical world.

Disclaimer: I am neither a theologian or a Bible scholar. This is an account of my belief, understanding and experience.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Search is Over

Have you ever noticed that even after you buy something you've been looking at for a long time, like a house or a car or a piece of furniture, an appliance or even a special outfit you have a tendency to keep looking to make sure you made the right choice? Or maybe I'm the only one but I catch myself doing this, or I used to.

When Mike and I met he told his daughter, "I've found someone who shares my same beliefs." And he did. We are so like-minded, mentally, emotionally, spiritally it's almost unbelievable. And maybe that was my problem, unbelief. After we were married he'd comment to me, "You're still searching." I didn't understand what he was talking about. He'd say, "There's nothing out there. You're all I've ever wanted, we have everything." He is all I've ever wanted too and I knew we had everything.

Several months after we were married a family member was driving through town and stopped long enough for an early dinner and a brief visit. We went to a chinese buffet and at the end of the meal, as expected, the server brought each of us a fortune cookie. Mike opened his and it read, "Stop searching forever, happiness is just next to you." I leaned over his shoulder and read along then I smiled and felt good inside. Not knowing what to expect but full of anticipation I opened my cookie. It read, "Stop searching forever, happiness is just next to you." There were four other people at the table and their sayings were all different. It was one of those divine moments.

That was twelve years ago. I can honestly say I am no longer searching. I am sorry it has taken me so long to believe, trust and get settled. The Lord has blessed us with each other, and all the necessities of life. He has blessed us with wonderful capable children who have families and careers and lives of their own. We have grandchildren, (just a little bit of heaven). We have each other. We are of one heart, one mind, one soul, one goal, one intent. We have good health and most of all we have The Word, The Lord God and Jesus Christ who is the glue that holds it all together. We have everything.

It's an awesome state of being to not know the future but to know Who holds the future. There's an extreme sense of peace to no longer search. This is contentment I did not know existed. I am very thankful. We are very blessed.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Very Small Box

I don't know if it's because I'm first born or if it's because I have felt inferior or maybe it's just human nature, but I had a need to be right. Unfortunately, I would debate the minutest detail (usually with my husband) just to have all the facts right, or correct details that really didn't make a difference for the overall content of the story just to feel that everything was absolutely truthful. Everything to me was black and white, right or wrong, only one way. My life was full of "Don't", "Can't", "Not allowed", "Not possible", and "What if?"

When I met Mike I knew I loved him. I knew my life would change forever. I knew he was the fulfillment of everything I had ever wanted and ever prayed for. I had love-sickness and couldn't eat or sleep. One night while I was tossing and turning the Lord assured me I could trust Mike as my husband, my life partner, my head, my provider. The Lord is right. I'm sorry it has taken me so long to relax in Him and trust that through my husband He would provide everything we need and bless us beyond what we could ever ask or think.

My inability to completely trust, my fear, kept me in a very small box. I had to be right in order to feel in control of life. The Lord has brought us to a place where we are completely dependent on Him and I am completely dependent on my husband.

When I gave up total control I noticed that I no longer have to be right. Since I no longer have to be constantly right I feel peace and in love with living. I feel free to make a mistake and I am thankful for correction. I have breathing room. I feel I can listen to my husband and learn. I feel completely myself. I feel I can love, accept and enjoy other people just as they are.

There are essential elements, convictions and truths in life that demand being right about. After those are established most decisions in life are flexible. I've given up control and embraced the joy and freedom of being wrong. Ironically I feel completely in control but actually it's confidence in the Lord, His Word and my husband.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Five Year Plan

It's 2010, a brand new year.

I've been pondering for the past few days, trying to gather some thoughts and ideas and goals, some sort of direction for this new year. I feel like a blank slate. It's as if I've been walking around with a clipboard and a pen listening, thinking, observing, reading, talking, struggling, struggling for something, anything, to write down. You know what? Zilch. Nada. Nothing. I feel completely void of ideas, goals and direction for the future past this very moment.

My Sweet Niece Lindsey posted an honest, and humbling post A New Year...A New Me in which she was asked about her and Brian's Five Year Plan. I don't know what she actually said at the time but in her post she responds with a scripture Isaian 55:8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither your ways my ways declares the Lord."

Like Lindsey I am not against planning and long term goals and financial regulation to make those goals and plans happen. I admire and envy people who can form a plan and make it happen. But for me life is just not that way. I've tried but it's never happened. Not the way I planned and worked toward anyway.

I cling to Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."

I say "I cling" but actually I stray, a lot. I get scared, tired, panicky, frustrated, and feel totally out of control more often than not it seems. Then I get back to trust - Trust in the LORD, trust in my husband, trust in myself, trust that everything will be all right.

My clipboard is no longer a blank slate. It says, "Thank you Lord for the plans, for welfare, for the absence of calamity, for a future and for hope." "Your thoughts are NOT my thoughts (thank God) and my ways are NOT Your ways (thank God again).

Life is a series of one day at a time. Moment by moment. Thank God Again and Again.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year 2010

New Year 2010

"Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!"
I Chronicles 4:9-10

I am looking forward to the new year and I am anticipating everything the Lord has for us this year. My heart and hands are open to receive from Him. We have rested and recuperated and thoroughly enjoyed over a year of sabatical. I am at peace and very thankful.

"Bless us. Enlarge our territory. Keep Your Hand upon us. Keep us from evil. and may I not cause pain.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Wonder of You


When no one else can understand me
When everything I do is wrong
You give me love and consolation
You give me hope to carry on

And you're always there to lend a hand
In everything I do
That's the wonder
The Wonder of You

And when you smile the world is brighter
You touch my hand and I'm a king (queen)
Your kiss to me is worth a fortune
Your love for me is everything

I guess I'll never know the reason why
You love me as you do
That's the wonder
The Wonder of You

Words and Music by Baker Knight
Sung and recorded by Elvis Presley

Sunday, December 27, 2009

One More Week

If I could have one more week with my Dad, I'd make sure every time we passed each other I touched his arm, and each and every time we parted I'd give him a kiss and a hug and tell him I love him. I'd listen to him tell the "Brass Ring" story as many times as he wanted and I'd listen as if it were the first time. I'd listen attentively and ask questions as he showed me his High School Yearbook. I'd look at the picture of his mother and say how beautiful she was. Then on:

SUNDAY - I would sit by him in church and place my hand through his arm while we're standing to sing hymns out of the hymnal. After church I would sit by him at the table as we're enjoying a delicious Sunday dinner prepared by my Mother. I would make sure his iced tea glass stayed full and I'd make him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after or get his desert depending on which one he wanted. I'd watch Nascar with him in the afternoon and Jack Hayford in the evening.

MONDAY - I would go to work with him at the frame shop and work tirelessly shrink wrapping signed and numbered prints so he could add them to his inventory for sale.

TUESDAY - I would walk 5 miles with him at the walking park even if I had to sit on one of the benches along the way and then catch up.

WEDNESDAY - I would watch as many Gaither Homecoming Videos as he wanted and sing along after or before listening to The Statler Brothers.

THURSDAY - I would have him show me one more time how to balance my checkbook in Quicken and how to sign up for online billpay.

FRIDAY - I would help him clean the fish pond and notice all the baby fish and comment on how much the big fish are growing. I would help him weed around all the foliage in the backyard and listen as he told me about each plant.

SATURDAY - I'd sit in the "co-pilot's" chair in the RV, share his bag of licorce Twizzlers with him and help him watch the road.

Since I would know that this night was his last, I'd tell him I love him one last time before he fell asleep and I'd ask him to bless me as his first-born child. Then I'd lie down on the floor in his room and listen to his every breath. When the end was near I'd tell him, "Good-Bye. See you later. I love you."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Joy!

Children. . .

The purity of their wonder as they gaze in anticipation standing in front of the Christmas tree. The house is still dark but the lit tree is illuminating the wrapped presents underneath. They are totally unaware that "Santa" is watching. They are caught up with the wonder. They are pointing, and whispering, "That one's mine." And then comes the delight, the innocence, the excitement and the happiness of each child as they open their gift.

That is Christmas. That is Pure Joy.

We first noticed Pure Joy this Christmas in Jayla's face at my Mom's Christmas party the weekend before Christmas. Grandma (my Mom) had gifts under the tree for the children and the youngest were first to receive theirs, Major, Berkley, Victoria and Jayla. I'll never forget how the three little girls scooted forward in unison full of expectation. I'll always treasure the look on Jayla's face when she was handed her gift. She looked as if she couldn't believe the big box was hers, Oh the wonder of it all! She carefully unwrapped the box even though everyone in the room wanted her to hurry. I'll always remember the "OH!" on her face as she saw the gift inside and then the total peace and contentment as a new baby doll was placed in her arms. She needed nothing else, it was Pure Joy!

Two days before Christmas we took gifts to Stan & Mary's for the kids, as they are so affectionately called (they are blessed with 10 children). We arrived while they were eating dinner which was perfect timing for me. I placed the wrapped gifts under the tree while they were still at the table. One by one they were excused and immediately ran to the tree to check out the presents and discover who's was who's. When everyone was finished eating and the table was cleared the gifts could be opened. Oh the waiting, and questions, "Why was it taking so long?" Finally, when everyone was gathered, I passed out the presents one by one in random order as fast as they could unwrap them. It was total chaos. They were so excited and Oh!the fun!

I will never forget the smile on Marla's face as she thanked me for her sunglasses! Joel hugged me twice and said thank you for the Air Soft gun. The three little boys received a western sheriff set complete with bandanna, rifle, holster & pistol. They were everywhere arresting everyone. Victoria and Jayla were given baby doll strollers and little backpacks full of baby essentials for the baby dolls Grandma had given them. I didn't know little strollers could stroll that fast on hardwood floors. It was pure delight.

Then just as we were leaving and had our hand on the door knob, the doorbell rang, Stan opened it expecting one of the older boys and right on cue, in perfect harmony we heard, "Joy To The World, the Lord is come. . ." and there before our eyes were Mr. and Mrs. Carr and their seven children. They were standing in perfect caroling formation and wore matching wool scarfs. The youngest child, a girl with short curly black hair and fair skin stood right in front looking just like an angel. Her older sister was next to her holding a plate of cookies and hosting a big smile. It was impossible to capture the magic of that moment on camera but it will be remembered as one of those rare surreal happenings that only the Lord can orchestrate.

Last night, the day before Christmas Eve we took presents to my Christmas Joy, Berkley and Major. Berkley squealed with delight as she unwrapped her little school bus. Major tore into his gifts totally thrilled with the sound of ripping paper. I'll never forget the precious innocence of Berkley as she walked as fast as she could across the room and handed Grandpa his present and said, "Merry Chrithmas." Then she repeated the same with my present. I will cherish the memory over and over.

The moment of Pure Joy happened as I helped Berkley into her pj's and we sang Christmas carols to the rhythm of tickling. And then again while I held Major. Major was totally focused on looking into my face. We baby talked and got to laughing.

Pure Joy. There's nothing else this side of heaven. I know now all those things I believed were so important to "make" Christmas and establish traditions are nothing more than a fleeting vapor. The real Christmas and the lasting memory is the love and Pure Joy we share with one another.

Oh Joy! Pure Joy!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Is Aunt Sandy Old?

That's what my nephew, my sweet little 4 year old nephew, Judson, with the permanent smile asked my brother. "Dad, is Aunt Sandy old?"

Yikes! Oh please, not yet!

I arrived at the family Christmas party last night accompanied or supported by a cane. Picture that. It's one of my mom's canes. From my Grandmother's estate she inherited a collection of canes that has been in the family for several generations. I swear (not really) Moses had this one in the wilderness. Anyway it helps. The colder temperatures are aggravating my pinched sciatic nerve and by the end of the day, oh man, walking is a pain. Enter, the cane.

Jeffrey, my nephew who's 6'5" and in the Ninth Grade, picture that, (the basketball team loves him) (we do too), asked me what happened. I said I have a pinched nerve. He asked "How'd it happen?" I said, "It just progressed..." then he said, "Oh" and his eyes kind of glassed over so I didn't go into details. He added, "I'm sorry" which I thought was sweet. He's a really nice young man.

The way I understand it is: the genetic tilt to my pelvis caused the muscles to over-correct and over time the over-correcting curved the spine. My low-iodine levels and chronic malabsorption due to systemic candida eventually degenerated the cushion between the vertebrae therefore putting pressure on the nerve which is aggravated by the cold and there we have it, the perfect storm.

I was blessed and encouraged yesterday by the woman at Natural Food Market who scanned my grocery items. She's about my age, (not old) and as she looked up she said, "How are you?" I replied, "Fine" then I said, "No, actually..." She told me she had been through the same thing and it would eventually heal.

The Lord knew I needed to hear from someone who could totally relate. He also knew I needed to hear that even though it's been a year, it will heal.

I thank Him for his forever and always faithfulness. I ask His forgiveness for doubt, self-pity and selfishness.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Home is Where My Dad Is

Right now I just want to go home. You know the feeling, the desire. Someplace where there is no pain. Someplace safe and secure. A place where everything is taken care of and there are no worries.

That's how I felt when I was a kid growing up. Wherever I was I knew I would go home and my Dad would be there. His presence was always there. Tall, strong, capable, loving, giving, big shoulders, safe, always an answer and a solution to every question or concern.

My Dad made me feel as if I could do anything in the world I chose to do. I was precious to him and I knew it. I knew it in a secure way not an arrogant way.

I missed my Daddy terribly when I moved up North when I was 19. I barely saw him during the next 23 years. He came to my aid in 1995 and helped me start over again. We spent a couple of years together as he and my mom got me on my feet. Five years later he was gone.

He's in heaven with the Lord and he's been there for 7 earthly years. I miss my Dad now more than I ever have. Not that I didn't miss him before, I did, but my logic pushed aside my feelings. Right now, I'm in pain, sciatic pain, and pain has a way of cancelling out logic.

I'm thankful for my Dad, for his love, provision, and guidence in my life. I am blessed by the gift of his legacy. I am humbled by the awareness that not everyone has this legacy. I am quieted and at peace with the assurance that I will be with him again for eternity. Home is where he is.

Thank you Lord. I am Blessed.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Mom and Me

"You're just like your mother." That's what my Dad used to say. When I was a kid it filled me with pride because that's the attitude he said it with. When I was a teen it frustrated me somewhat because I wanted to be my own person. When I was a young mom it seemed impossible, "How did she do this?" But now I'm content and happy and blessed to be like my mom.

My mom and I and her mom and probably her mom before that and hers before that and hers before that, are wives and homemakers. Oh, we're capable of doing it all, have a career and take care of a home and children. But our hearts, the core of our being is for our husbands, our homes, our children and our grandchildren. We're homemakers. And I'm blessed with that, content with that, and consider it my highest calling.

The next time my nephew, the one that asks the questions everyone else only thinks, asks, "Aunt Sandy, what do YOU do to make a living?" I'm going to have an answer for him. It's going to roll off my tongue with confidence, "I'm a Homemaker, just like my Mom." Blessed, Oh so Blessed!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holidays? Who Needs 'Em!

To say I love the holidays is a stretch, a really big stretch. I tolerate the holidays because they exist. I tried both ends of the spectrum, celebrate to the max (well, the max for me) and just barely get by. Neither one gives me that deep sense of satisfaction. I've either done too much and am exhausted or not done enough and feel empty. You see, I'm a worker. I am not a dreamer or a schemer or a thinker. I do not get radically happy and I don't get tremendously sad. I don't think about the past and I'm rarely conscience of the future. I work and I accomplish and I cross things off my "To Do" list and that gives me energy, and makes me feel happy and capable and confident. That's who I am. I am feeling a sense of loss today, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

Exactly one year ago, life as I had known it changed. Totally changed. It's been good and it's been not so good. I nearly lost my mobility, my bending and lifting, twisting and turning, walking. Sciatica. Need I say more. It was just a matter of time really, a sooner or later type thing considering the progression of the genetic tilt to my pelvis and degeneration of the discs in my lower, lower back. It has greatly inhibited my "working", my accomplishing, my getting things done and being energized by it.

However, it does put the holidays, the whole "My family/Your family" tug of war, "gotta have this/gotta have that" hustle and bustle, "get this done/get that done" rush rush into perspective. What's the bottom line? The tugging, hustling, rushing, gotta have it, work, work, does not matter.

What matters is my love. My deep love for my husband. My unconditional love for my children. My thankful love for my parents. My "no strings attached" love for my brothers and their families. And my "as close to heaven as it gets" love for my Grandbabies. That's what matters, and that's what I am thankful for. This is the core of my life: My Lord and my Saviour, Jesus Christ and my love for my family.

I'm Blessed. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Perfect Breakfast

This is not a food blog. However I have posted several posts lately whose main theme is food, but this is not a food blog. Food just happens to be a main interest for me right now. And you know what happened this morning? I made the perfect breakfast. I love biscuits for breakfast and have been trying to make a gluten-free, dairy-free drop biscuit for about a month now. I used a recipe by Linda at The Gluten-Free Homemaker which was changed slightly by Debbie Ross at The Gluten-Free 'Dish' and then I tweeked it a little more because when I stirred up the recipe it was more like pancake batter than drop biscuit batter so I added some of Amy Green's High-Protein Gluten-Free Flour Mix. I scooped and dropped the batter and baked it and they were perfect! Next time I will make them smaller because one thing I have noticed about Gluten-Free is that I eat less and feel more satisfied and nourished longer.

What's the green stuff on my plate? That's Kale.

I grew up in the 60's in suburbia. It was a time when homemakers were moving away from the country farm and home gardens and into convenience. My mother's food budget did not allow for foods we may not like so I never had Kale growing up and I did the same thing with my children. A couple of days ago I went to the store to buy Kale because I am intrigued by Amy Green's recipe for Kale Chips. I had to search the labels on the different greens because I didn't know which one was which. This morning when I took the twisty-tie off the bunch of Kale and looked at the leaf I realized it's the dark green stuff framing the ice on a salad bar separating the salads. I was impressed with how dark green the leaf is and how dense it felt. I had read a recipe by Gluten-Free Gidget which used steamed Kale so I steamed it and I kept tasting it so I'd know how to season it but it was so good, kind of a cross between brocolli and cabbage, that I just drizzled a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil on it. I scramble two eggs in my seasoned cast iron skillet. I put it all together with a cup of hot tea and voilla! The Perfect Breakfast!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I've Got My Groove Back

Well finally!

When we were closer to 40 than to 30 Mike and I respectively lost everything. Twelve years ago we joined our hearts and our lives and started re-building again. There were setbacks and obstacles and re-starts and a lot of times it felt like two steps forward three steps back.

This past year has been our best in so many ways, and the, lets just say, most challenging in so many ways. For Mike and for Me and for Us. Mike has been off work for a year. Oil Field. He's a consultant so if the phone doesn't ring, he doesn't work. But the Lord provided enough work in the previous 6 years to pay for those six, do a whole lot of other things we wanted plus have enough for this year. Doesn't that sound like the Year of Jubilee?! It's been miraculous really! Me? I've been battling my sciatic nerve for a year now. I'm just thankful I can walk, let's just put it that way. Plus all the changes that go with "The Change" have finally settled in and believe me, it is a CHANGE. Sometimes I feel like the butterfly that metamorphosized into the worm. Oh, excuse me, caterpillar.

But now, at this point, I feel as if I'm gettin' my groove back.

One of the main things to getting my groove back has been finding an answer to the issue of what to eat and how to prepare it. We were going through so much and everything seemed so much like "Fruit Basket Turn Over" all the time that I could never get it together food/meal wise. The most uncomplicated, agreeable, constant thing we could do was go to Rosa's, or Whataburger, or Chili's. So we did, for the better part of twelve years.

I've come to realize however that we are missing a very integral part of home. I was saddened by that and decided that it is time we grounded our own style and preferences and likes and dislikes, patterns and traditions. It's time and way past time.

So now after 14 1/2 years I am cooking again. I am inspired by a very dear young woman in Dallas who is becoming my friend. Her food blog Simply Sugar and Gluten Free and the many blogs she links to are keeping me on track and enthused and excited about cooking. I am able to blend my needs and preferences with Mike's needs and preferences and prepare and present meals that are becoming our own. Not my past or his past but now our past, our present and our future. Thank you Amy Green, you are blessing my life!

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Did It!

Well, I did it! I made Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free Banana Pudding and it is delicious! You see, I love banana pudding and even though Banana Pudding is not a traditional holiday desert I always think of it as something special to have for the holidays. Ususally it's Easter but for some reason I am wanting it this year as we're planning for Thanksgiving. Maybe it's because I haven't had it in about 10 years! Here's to success!

Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free Vanilla Pudding

2 1/2 c. unsweetened plain almond milk
4 large egg yolks
1/3 c. light agave
1/4 t. salt
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 T. vanilla extract

1. In a small dish, stir together cornstarch and 3-4 T. almond milk until well blended.
2. In a small saucepan, whisk together remaining almond milk, egg yolks, agave and salt.
3. Add dissolved cornstarch mixture to almond milk mixture in saucepan and stir.
4. Keep stirring over medium to low heat until mixture thickens and begins to boil.
5. Turn heat to low and continue stirring and cooking for about 1 minute more.
6. Remove from stove and pour into a heatproof dish. Add vanilla extract.
7. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding and chill for at least 2 hours.
8. Serve with sliced bananas and whipped topping. Enjoy!

This post is linked to Amy Green's Simply Sugar and Gluten Free

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fixing Versus Creating

Mike and I have issues. Food issues. I think the perfect meal is Sugar-free, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, vegetables, and for real perfection 85% raw, 15% cooked. His perfect meal is 1/3 pound hamburger meat, fried, served on bread with mustard. He prefers food fixed, I prefer food created. Not invented but created. I get much enjoyment out of searching for recipes and than creating them in my kitchen. I love to bake. He doesn't care much about baked goods and is just as happy with Vanilla Wafers and Oreo's.

I tried fixing food the way he likes it, but I loathe frying and I truly did not get that deep satisfaction that comes from creating. He'll eat vegetables and he says they're good and he doesn't mind an all vegetable meal as long as he can have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after.

For 12 years we have "solved" our dilemma by going out to eat. Really I was only avoiding the frustration, and missing out on a very big part of house and home. Homemaking is my calling and my highest joy and contentment second only to my grandchildren.

I've realized that I can not make him eat the way I feel is best just because it's best for me and it seems only logical that's it's best for him. That may be logical but it's not necessarily true. So now I am at peace with doing both, fixing and creating. We are blessed and just one step closer to A Little Bit of Heaven.

Friday, October 16, 2009

52 Card Pick-Up

I remember the first time I played 52 Card Pick-Up, my cousin grabbed a deck of cards and said, "Have you ever played 52 Card Pick-Up?" I said, "No", anticipating a fun game. She promptly tossed the entire deck high into the air and then watched with delight as I scrambled over the entire room picking up the cards. I'm sure I returned the favor to some other trusting younger child at some point. That's how I've felt the past 14 years, like I'm playing 52 Card Pick-Up. That and "One step forward two steps back". Mike too only he's played several times. You know what? We've won.

It seems like some people have never played. Those who've never played don't seem to know how to truly relate to those who have. I'm thankful not everyone has to experience the dishevel, the frustration, the hurt, the confusion, the fight-for-your-life experience. I'm thankful we have. And I'm thankful for the grace, mercy and strength of the Lord. I want to tell everyone and shout out loud, "We WON!"

We live in a little bit of heaven most of the time but we went through a little bit of you know where to get here. And we've been through nothing compared to what some people go through. It's all relative I guess.

We are Blessed!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Grandmothers and Granddaughters

For the most part we don't understand the vital relationship of a grandmother. Especially to a granddaughter and then even more so to a first born granddaughter. I am a first born granddaughter. My heart swells and my eyes tear when I think about my Grandmother and then I struggle to find words to express how life giving her love was for me.

When I was with my Grandmother it felt like she and I were the only two people in the world and like we had nothing to do except what I could think of. When I was little I played quietly, securely surrounded by her love and total acceptance. As I grew I colored and cut-out paper dolls and played Barbies and make-believe. I slept in the twin bed in the same room as hers and woke up to pancakes with Karo syrup. She let me write the grocery list even though she had to spell everything for me. She made me a beautiful aqua blue taffeta dress out of someone's worn once bridesmaid's dress. She let me wear my Sunday shoes and tap dance on the back porch. She shared the receiver with me and let me listen in on her church friend's phone conversation. I'll never forget her ParkerHouse Rolls, fried chicken, cooked carrots and brown sugar frosting and walking to the market.

When I was 10 years old we moved to Oklahoma, a thousand miles away from my Grandma and life changed forever. She and I wrote letters and she came to visit and we went to visit but it was never the same. I'll never forget when I was 17 pulling out of her driveway and I started crying and I couldn't stop. I didn't know why. I didn't know that was the last time I would see my Grandma when she actually knew who I was.

Life is so short. Life is so fleeting. I'll see my Grandma in heaven when we're all with the Lord. Sometimes I just can't wait!

Strong Conquering Babies

Men are big babies. They're so strong and capable and can go out and conquer the world but when they get sick, they're babies. My strong, capable, conquering husband is never sick. He works 24/7/365 and brings home the bacon. Last November there was no more bacon to be brought home so we've been on an extended vacation. He knew it would happen so we prepared because at some point the bacon will be there again. This past week he started sneezing, than coughing, than blowing his nose. He's positive he's got H1N1 but in reality he's having a histamine reaction to spraying paint and sanding paint, without a mask. Adrian told him to wear a mask, I didn't bother 'cause I knew he wouldn't. If I hear one more groan, one more sniff, one more "I can't taste. I can't smell." I don't know what I'm going to do - go shopping I guess. This too shall pass and we are blessed!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Family

This link, My Family , goes to an album of pictures of my family.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Celebrate Fall? YES!

I really hadn't noticed before now, but this year I became aware that I wasn't celebrating Fall anymore, or any season for that matter. Partly because we live in West Texas and in West Texas we have one season, Hot, dotted with cold now and then, sprinkled with a little rain once in a blue moon. But mostly because 15 years ago I lost all reason to celebrate. Twelve years ago I got all reasons back but we've been so consumed with getting everything else back that seasons have not been a priority. That was until Amy Green introduced me to:Now I'm thinking about it and noticing the Fall flowers, pumpkins and gourds, corn stalks and scarecrows, enjoying the somewhat cooler temperatures, shorter days and I'm looking at the trees but so far... nada, no change. They'll change maybe by Thanksgiving.

Amy's Simply Sugar and Gluten Free has been a springboard for me. Not only has she stimulated my thinking about seasons and celebrating she has enlightened me with her 8-part series, Finding Balance with Food. Her recipes and the many links she recommends has filled my notebook with recipes to try, now that I realized it is gluten and sugar that make me sick, and so far all of her recipes that I have tried have worked for me. Not only do they work, they are delicious and a lot of fun to create. My husband is incorporating vegetables and is agreeable to trying the gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, almost vegan meals I have been preparing. He loved her Pantry Tomato Soup.

Amy and several of her blog friends are hosting Fall Festival 2009 . Their celebrating and enthusiasm is contagious. Fall always was my favorite season. So far this year I have cooked apples with cinnamon, and made pumpkin bars, all gluten-free-sugar-free-dairy-free. Thank you Amy for being a part of my living normal life again. You are a Blessing!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

I've Met Someone

I've met someone. Not just anyone, but a very special young woman from Ohio who now calls Dallas her home. I say young because she is, she's a year older than my Amy so that makes me old enough to be her mother. I haven't actually met her per se but I am getting to know her through her blog. I found her blog from a post she left on another food blog. I've searched many many blogs over the past 3 months in my quest to eat right to keep my body from getting sick but Amy Green's Simply Sugar and Gluten Free is the one I keep coming back to and refer to several times a day. Something about it just keeps bringing me back.

It is true that her recipes are everything she says they are and more. It is true she amazes me with her energy, her creativity, her insight and her wisdom. She is wise way beyond her years regarding the relationship between our body, our mind, our emotions and our food. What keeps bringing me back, is her kindness, her humbleness and most of all her gratitude.

She has a very insightful 8 part series on Finding Balance with Food which I hope will be a book someday. Every single recipe of hers that I have tried has been over the top, way more than I expected considering they are sugar-free, gluten-free. Even my meat-and-potatoes, (preferably fried), -Oreo-cookie-Lays-potato-chip husband says they are good, really good and he's joining me in healthier eating. Thank you Amy for all you are doing and "You Go Girl!"

Saturday, September 19, 2009

First Born Syndrome

I've always felt so responsible for everyone. Maybe because I'm a first born, I don't know, but I've always felt I should fix, and provide and take care of and prevent, and determine outcomes.
I had a revelation this week however that saddens me but also brings me freedom. I realized that no matter what I know from knowledge or experience, no matter what makes sense and is right, no matter what I believe, I can not change someone else or make another person believe what I believe is right, and than some things are just unexplainable.

No matter how much I prayed, studied, talked to nutritionists and naturalpaths, resisted, and cried I could not change the fact that my dad suffered with a brain tumor and died after a year of agony for himself and the family.

No matter how much Mike prayed and talked and tried to convince his mother, aunt, sister and niece to not agree to radiate his mother's lung so we could take her to a clinic in Houston for a very successful treatment for lung cancer, she died 10 days after the diagnosis. She was scared and signed to radiate her lung. The radiation blew out her heart where she had had a graft 13 years previous.

Not even two years had passed since my mother-in-law's unexpected death and Mike was getting better with the grief, it was a terrible thing this grief, and his daughter, the love of his life, called out of the blue and said she was divorcing her husband and basically separating the two little boys. Mike couldn't stop it, no amount of prayer, counsel, anger, warning, etc. It'd be different if the husband deserved it and it was justified. She just wanted to live her own life, her way. It was a terrible time of anguish for him and for us. We did everything we could do and then we just stood there aching.

No amount of help on my part could keep my precious Amy from experiencing anxiety-panic attacks when she was transitioning from full-time career to full time homemaker and mom.

The clincher, the part when I gave up and realized I really have no control, came for me this past Wednesday when Mike and I went to his New Patient Appointment at the VA Health Center. The doctor called with the results of his blood work and I panicked and felt I was going to be a widow any second. I plunged full speed into "let's fix this" mode and decided that we should go immediately on the Hallelujah Diet, the testimonies are phenomenal and I believe it would cure anything, and along with that start walking 20 minutes daily. He did fine until he got hungry then he said he wasn't going to do it. I said I was going to increase the life insurance. Then I cried. Then I relinquished control and felt a tremendous peace.

We are changing our diet a little daily and it's better on both of us and we'll be all right. I care and want to help and fix my loved ones hurts but there's only so much I can actually control and even that is not a guarantee. That realization brings peace.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Journey With Food

I grew up in the sixties. My mother was and still is a very good cook, she could make something out of nothing and a lot of times that's exactly what she had to work with. She cooked Standard American Diet meals and used canned and processed food. We had lots of white sugar, white flour, white bread, white rice, noodles, macaroni, and milk. The only thing I can remember making from scratch is cookies and the only fresh vegetable I can remember is iceberg lettuce and tomatoes and carrot sticks but I didn't really like them, I couldn't see the point of eating raw and crunchy when you could eat cooked and mushy. As children we had colds, sinus infections, ear aches, bronchitis and stomach aches.

I got married when I was 19 in the mid-seventies and repeated the only thing I knew; lots of sugar, white flour, white rice, canned and processed, etc., I was a good cook too (if you think that is good). I could follow a recipe as well as the next person. There were always fresh homemade cookies in the cookie jar, more often than not chocolate chip.

In the eighties there was a movement for healthier eating, also I was raising my children so wanting to do the very best for them I became as health conscious as possible at the time. I followed the basic four food groups, and used whole wheat flour, honey, minimal or no salt and carob, I can still hear my kids, "Oh Mom, not carob!" Poor dears. I tried to use less canned and processed food and made everything from scratch. I still had frequent colds, sinus infections, bronchitis and stomach aches. I was in an oppressive dysfunctional marriage and by the mid-eighties was suffering depression. Sugar, and chocolate became my friend, comfort, motivation and reward.

I left the marriage in 1995 desperate to get myself and my then teenage children out of an unhealthy situation. I was totally broken and beat down. I moved back into my parents home and partook of my mother's wonderful familar cooking. My parents took care of me and through their nuturing love and support I began to live life again.

The Lord brought a wonderful man into my life, we married and I felt as if I were 19 again. I did notice before we were married that he did not eat vegetables and salad. After we were married and I tried to cook and prepare meals I quickly learned that he only liked hamburgers and meat and potatoes preferably fried. I tried to cook for him but I couldn't cook that way. I knew enough to know that a diet like that was detrimental to ones health. We have eaten in restaurants for the biggest part of 12 years. Either hamburgers or Mexican.

By the late 1990's I was sick! Candida, parasites, food allergies, seasonal allergies, inflammation, I had all the symptoms,systemic. One morning I woke up and I felt extremely terrible and I said to my wonderful husband, "I think food makes me sick." That was the turning point.

We've studied and been to Naturepath's and taken lots of food supplements and done cleanses, etc. All of it has been a necessary stepping stone. The hardest thing to change however has been our diet. I can change drastically for as long as it takes to get feeling better than gradually I have a little sugar here and then a little sugar there and on and on. My blog friend Amy Green at
Simply Sugar and Gluten Free has a series about finding balance with food and the emotional attachment that we have to and with food. Her blog, recipes and the many links she introduces have given me a life changing direction toward food and eating. My wonderful meat and potatoes only husband is joining me and we are slowly but surely this time changing to food that builds, repairs, restores and nourishes our bodies. I for the first time, actually feel good and I haven't had a sinus infection in who knows how long, at least several months. That's progress! I'm thankful and I'm blessed!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

We Took a Trip

Well, we did it! We took a trip, not just any trip, but a vacation and it was wonderful! We were gone 8 days, traveled 1000 miles one way to Memphis and Nashville, Tennesse, than 1000 miles home. We toured Graceland, saw a Broadway Musical, went on a dinner country music cruise, sat on the front row at the Grand Ole' Opry, spent the night at Gayord Opryland Resort, and The Peabody and Union Station Hotels, shopped at Opry Mills and Whole Foods Market and had lunch at Pei Wei, my favorite restaurant. These are just the highlights of a fabulous trip.

A year ago, I decided that this year on our anniversary we would take a trip, do something special - since we'd never done that, not even a honeymoon. We've just been so caught up in working and living and taking care of everyone else that we've never taken the time or spent the money. So last year I started saving and a couple of months ago I started planning. Now we've gone and come home again.

We found out a couple of things about ourselves, (which we already knew but it's nice to confirm) first we found out that we get along incredibly well. Mike allows me to walk in my gifting and I hope I allow him to walk in his. Second we confirmed that we like, I mean really like nice hotel rooms, I mean really nice like 5-Star. And for this trip they were worth it. We also confirmed that I am directionally challenged.

There were countless special moments but there were two that cinched the entire week for me. The first one was on our anniversary, we stayed at The Peabody in Memphis and after dinner at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse the valet knocked on the door and said he had a delivery for Mike Gillett. He brought in a dozen very beautiful red, white and yellow roses which I had ordered the week before we left. The brief expression on Mike's face was worth the entire trip and all the effort. It was a soft expression of a tremendous depth of love and of being touched by the kindness of another. I really can't explain it. But it was a very special moment for both of us. The other was when Mike bought me a chocolate chocolate chip muffin and a bottle of water at 10 o'clock at night when I was searching for chocolate cake and we couldn't find any. I felt so cared for when he stepped up to the counter and ordered, "A chocolate chocolate chip muffin and a bottle of water." Two relatively small instances amongst eight days of one special happening after another but they are two priceless moments which captured something much deeper and significant.

I am so thankful we could do this. With Mike's work schedule it may be our one and only trip, but I hope not. We just don't know what our future holds but we know Who holds our future. We are so very blessed.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Love of His Life

This is Michele. This picture was taken at her 15th birthday party. Michele is Mike's daughter, the love of his life. Mike married her mother and was thrilled when they found out they were expecting. It was his dream come true, a family! Michele is his Princess, his Baby, the entire room lights up for him when she walks in. He loves her, he cherishes her, and he would do anything on this earth for her.

The marriage didn't turn out as hoped however. They stayed together for Michele and for the sake of family for 5 or 6 years. Then she left, taking Michele with her and Mike was devastated. The very thing he never wanted and tried desperately to prevent had happened.

A couple of years later Mike became a Catholic, thinking if they were the same religion they could make it. Mike and Michele's mother remarried and Mike lead them seriously into Catholicism. The problem was the "same religion" thing didn't make the marriage. He returned to faith in Jesus Christ through the Blood of the Lamb (not the church), and tried to lead the family too. They rejected him and The Word. When Michele was around 11 or 12 years old, Michele's mother left again, again separating Mike from his daughter. At this same time the oilfield was bust. He lost everything, family, job, and he gave all the possessions, to Michele and her mother. It was the lowest point of his life.

Mike was faithful to the Lord, to Michele and to her mother. He sought the Lord to restore his family. He stayed in San Angelo or as close as possible to be near Michele giving up career opportunities. He prayed. He fasted. He spent as much time with Michele as possible, talking to her several times a day and he sent her mother support. He's not perfect but he did all he could do.

When Michele was 16 her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Mike asked her to come back and he would take care of her and Michele. She said, " No." Mike realized that as much as he did not want Michele in a broken home he needed to move on with his life.

The desire of his heart did not go away. He desired a righteous, God-honoring, Christian home. He began seeking the Lord for a wife, a helpmate, a like-minded partner. That's where I come in, and I'm not perfect, but we are like-minded.

We've been married twelve years this Wednesday, September 2,2009. The Lord has truly restored what the locust had eaten in both of our lives.

The pain in Mike's heart though is Michele. She insists on living her life the way she wants to live it, which normally would be fine except her lifestyle is breaking her Daddy's heart. He mourns for her and what she is doing to herself, her husband and her boys. He prays for her constantly.

Michele is still the love of his life, his Princess, his Baby, the light in his eye and isn't that the way love is? Love is our greatest joy and our greatest sorrow.

The Lord says, "Weeping may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning."

Forsaking All Others

Now that's easy. At the altar anyway. Remember the scene, you're standing at the altar, in front of the preacher, facing the most wonderful, most perfect person in the whole world and you vow before God and family and friends to forsake all others. Then you walk down the aisle as husband and wife and the journey begins. The journey to become one. The first thing we think of when we vow to forsake all others is other men/women. But what about the grey area? The thought life. And what about the other relationships of our life? Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, friends, co-workers, teachers, bosses? Did I vow to forsake them? Yes I did. How about sports, committees, hobbies, Girls Night Out, Guys Night Out? Did I vow to forsake those? Yes I did. People, places, things? Yes, these are all within the "forsake all others" definition. To what extent do I forsake? Whatever the relationship requires. Whatever is required to become one - one heart, one mind, one flesh. Whatever it takes.
Then the wonder is; we get it all back, every relationship in our life is doubled because our two lifes have blended into one and it's just twice - twice the joy, twice the sorrow. As a union we are more than we ever were as an individual.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

When Time Stood Still

It was one of those light bulb moments. You know, when a "light" flashes in your spirit, the earth stands still, life halts for a very brief nano second and you know that you know that you know that something momumentous, something life changing, totally life changing, 360* life changing has happened. Life events happen in the spirit before they happen in the physical and sometimes it takes a long time for what happened in the spirit to come to pass in the physical and sometimes not.

Such was the case when I heard Mike speak during the discussion in the Single-Adult Bible Study Class. I didn't see his face, he was in the back of the room, but I heard his voice reveal what was in his heart and I heard what he believes. It resonated with my spirit and it was one of those less than nano second moments that you know that you know that you know and nothing after that is ever the same.

A couple of months later we actually spoke face to face. We conversed a little, he paid for my lunch without me knowing. Later I said, "Thank you" and we've been talking every since.

We started talking in July and got married in September. I bought a new dress and shoes, we informed our family, invited a few friends, our friend made New York Cheesecake, my Mom made coffee, Mike brought me roses ( the most beautiful roses I have ever seen), my brother officiated and we were husband and wife. Mike went back to work, I went back to work. Alex had school. Life continued. That was 12 years ago and it's been continuing every since.

We attended the wedding of our neighbors daughter just a couple of weeks ago. The minister made very true and very pertinent statements during the ceremony. Two of the statements that stand out the most are truths Mike and I have discussed and experienced. He said, "Any two people can have a wedding but a marriage is a journey" the journey is the journey to become one and we have found out that it begins the moment, the very moment you say "I Do". A key component of this happening is "giving up your singlehood". One of Amy's observations early on was that we "stick together like glue". We've had to or life would tear us apart. We gave up everything and had to totally empty ourselves, bind together, and start all over. The Lord is now bringing everthing back to us infinitely better than we could ever ask or think.

We didn't take a honeymoon back then, 12 years ago. So now as a celcbration to the Lord's faithfulness and our life together we're spending our next anniversary, September 2, 2009, at Graceland then we're headed to Nashville. We don't travel much, it may be our one and only trip, but who really knows except the Lord. We just take life one day at a time, enjoy the process, experience the journey and we're thankful. We are tremendously Blessed!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Different But the Same

My children grew up in the "you're so special" generation. "You're unique" "There's only one you", "You can be anything you want to be".
I believed it for them. I spoke it to them and I tried to make sure they believed it too.

I grew up in a Christian home. A very religious Christian home. A very religious and legalistic Christian home. Religion says "do this and this, don't do this and this". Legalism says "do this only this way". I felt unique and special but I felt I was different from other people because I didn't "do that". I did everything "right" and didn't do anything "wrong". I was stunned when life slapped me up the side of my head. That was the turning point. The turning point to freedom. When life happened to me I realized doing everything right did not protect me and I was no more unique or special or different than anyone else.

We're all the same on the heart level. We were all born with a sinful heart and needing salvation. And it doesn't matter whether we sin an itty-bitty little sin or a great big whopper. It's all the same. All part of the cess pool of sin. I am unable to even begin to describe the freedom that comes with accepting "All have sinned" as meaning me. And to realize that my very thoughts are sinful, my words are sinful, my motives are sinful and that I am in need of continual forgiveness. Continual confession brings forgiveness, and forgiveness purifies and brings freedom. Freedom to do anything I want to do, be anything I want to be, go anywhere I want to go, say anything I want to say. I am free because my will has become purified and it desires to choose only what is honorable, holy and acceptable to God. Through confession the Holy Spirit leads me in knowing what that is. Freedom feels so free I just don't want to mess it up.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

We Started Over

Mike loves this picture. I have it on my desk and the more I look at it, the more I love it too. This was taken in 1997, Amy was 20 yrs. old and I was almost 43. But I felt 19. You see, in 1995 I started over. I had spent the previous 23 years married to a man who was consumed with self-centeredness and greed. I raised 4 children and was committed "till death do us part". The Lord in His mercy and grace released me from the "before God and these witnesses", "til death do us part" commitment because I believe I was dying. Emotionally I had shut down years before, and at the time I was begining to shut down physically. I believe I was to "get myself and my children out of this situation". I left very quickly with my two youngest children. I still weep inside at the thought of my two oldest, Amy and Aaron, standing beside the driveway thinking I would be back. They were 18 and 16 years old at the time and needed to make their own choice. Amy joined me a year later and Aaron finished high school, put himself through college and has soared on his own.

Mike loves this picture because this is how I looked when he first saw me. He'd been through his own grief and loss several years before this and was ready to start over himself. He saw me and prayed for me for over a year before he spoke to me. I heard him speak in Bible Study several times before I ever saw his face (he sat in the back, I sat in the front) and when he spoke, he spoke the Truth about The Word and it resonated in my spirit. I felt like we were the only two people in the world who understood. We started talking and found out we were soulmates, spiritmates. Before long I had lovesickness - I couldn't eat or sleep and lost 8 lbs. in 10 days. I tripped over things and ran into sign posts and all kinds of crazy things. Instead of going to a Single Adult Retreat on Labor Day Weekend in 1997 we canceled our reservations and got married. It made some of the family mad (my side) (they were just afraid for me) and the kids were confused and going through all the emotions, thoughts and feelings that go along with divorce, remarriage and making it on your own, feeling abandoned, etc. But we've made it, we have, they have, the family has.

So, now, I love this picture too. Not because of who I was, but because of who I am. And because it's a picture of my precious daughter who left her entire childhood and all things familiar to be near me and start all over too. It's a reminder of all the healing and restoration that has taken place in all of our lives the past 12 years. It's a forgeting what lies behind pressing on to what lies ahead picture. It's a reminder of the grace and mercy of the Lord. He never changes. He is new every morning. Great is His faithfulness!!

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