Saturday, January 31, 2015

Church Quest | Part 2

I bounced along the road in my little yellow truck and asked myself what in the world I was doing. Why am I going to a strange church all alone? Do I really want to go sit and listen to some guy talk at me for an hour? Am I so desperate for community that I will purposely put myself into a situation that requires small talk with strangers?

Umm, yep.

As I was passing the post office I considered using it's parking lot to turn around and go back home to my comfy couch. No one would ever know. No one at the church expected me or needed me to fulfill a job or Sunday morning task. Why was I doing this to myself?

It is scary to go to a new church by yourself. Hey, it is scary to go to a new church even if you are NOT by yourself!

I have no agenda regarding church denomination at this point. I will go to any flavor of church if they love God and love people. I am doing this to myself because I want to live my life along side other people. I am not a loner. I am a grouper.

But this is hard.

There is a big sign at the entrance to the busy church parking lot…


What? You want me to stand out and be noticed before I even park my truck? Umm no thanks…I want to blend…I want to observe unobserved. Thank you very much.

It did take a while to figure out where I was supposed to park. Probably would have been helpful to turn on my lights and be directed to the visitor parking section nearest the front doors after all. Sigh.

The Greeter at the front door was warm and welcoming, handing me the Sunday Bulletin and opening the glass door for me. The entryway is pretty and I wanted to stop and read the huge wall mural that described the history of the church, but I moved on into the sanctuary where I heard music because I knew I was a little late for the service.

It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the darkness just inside the double doors. Many churches keep the lights low during the musical worship portion of the service and I understand some of the reasoning, but now I am stuck near the door because I am not familiar enough with the building to find my way any farther in. (I don't like the dark sanctuary thing, but it's not a deal-breaker on this "blind" date....See what I did there? Hehe.) I ended up staying in a seat next to the entrance door because the place was packed, as far as I could tell.

I enjoyed the message and the personable pastor. My eyes were drawn to the clever backdrop behind the pastor. On a black wall they had placed white triangles and rectangles, all fitting together like a beautiful mosaic. In the center
was a space left without the white pieces, and it created the shape of a cross. I love the simplicity of such artwork.

It turns out that the name of their coffee shop is MOSAIC and diversity is one of the churches’ important values. According to the historic mural, this Texas church was one of the first to be integrated and refuse to reject anyone of any race to attend. The candid photos on their website were multi-ethnic and multi-generational, this is what made me want to visit. Many of the churches around me are all one color and that just feels creepy.

At the end of the service I exited the sanctuary and opened the door to a crowd of older ladies staring at me. I obviously must have looked a bit surprised to open the door to such a gang, because a voice from the group said, “We must be a pretty scary sight to face the first time!” I love that someone in the group had the great sense of humor enough to say that. I smiled back at them and got out of the way of others leaving the sanctuary behind me.

This is the second church I have visited so far and I may go back. I could see myself here. The first church I visited a few weeks ago is a pretty place very close to my house and I’d been curious about it ever since we moved in. The pastor is a lively lady who won my heart immediately. But the congregation was …I don’t know…just so quiet and sad and old. Call me a hypocrite and shallow, but I am trolling churches for new friends. I know it is wrong to judge groups of people like this, but what else can I do? Set up interviews? Stand outside the churches with a sandwich board reading, “Please be my friend”?

I have so many thoughts and questions regarding church life... yay or nay. A Looong history of AVID church involvement has brought me to a brand new experience...choosing my new community. And even deciding that I do need one after all, is a crazy development in recent months. 

As I am reading over these first two posts about my church quest, I am a little concerned that you may think I am just clinically looking for a new club to join without regard to the spiritual aspect. I hasten to add that God and I are on this journey together. We talk often and intimately. I get the feeling that He is watching me with a smile and He is not at all worried that I will pick the wrong church. He goes where I go, and I go where He it's all good. 

I am thinking that next Sunday I may go see the storefront church that I talked about in Part 1 of this little adventure. I’ll let you know how that goes. 

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When a Hypocrite Searches for a Church | Part 1

Today I write to you from my sweet office...Welcome!

Hi My Dears, 
(Ok that sounded like a creepy old lady huh? I have never figured out how to greet you guys…Hi Friends…Good Morning Lovies…Dear Readers…Hey Y’all…They all fit and actually feel natural, but not quite right. Need to work on this.)

I am on a church-shopping quest. I might come home empty-handed, like the other day when I finally went to look for some new clothes after a few years of not buying much of anything. I found out that waiting too long could mess up your shopping abilities in a big way. I walked around the store asking myself who I am, who do I want to be and what does “too young and too old” mean anyway?

In my desire to attend church here in our new state and town I am discovering a few things about myself that are not pretty.

I am shallow.
I am selfish.
I am a snob, an age-snob. (I am at that awkward age; too young for the Seniors Group, but too old for the Young Mother’s Group. At least in my imagination I am too “young” for the Senior Group.)
I am a hypocrite.

The evidence of my shallow-ness appeared at the very beginning of my search for a church. Since I don’t like to drive the Texas freeways, the church must be within 10 miles of my home and easy to get to. This is not a problem here in Texas. There are actually 10 churches within 5 miles of my home…this is Texas. “There are churches on every corner”…is a statement that can almost be taken literally.

In the past, I never would have guessed that distance would have anything at all to do with the choice of a church. What a shallow measurement to use! Wait it gets worse.

I bookmarked a church that I found online because I was impressed with their beautiful website. The photos were multi-ethnic, multi-age and full of life and activity. The web content was up-to-date and friendly. My plan was to go check this church out. So I map-quested the address and could not figure out why it kept showing me a shopping center. Where’s the pretty place in the photos?

This is when I discovered that I am a hypocrite. I have complained about the emphasis on big church buildings and how so many congregations are being pressured to just keep the building maintained financially. I thought it was awful that such a large portion of a congregational offering went to keep the lights on.

But, when I saw that my bookmarked church was in a small storefront, squeezed between the local Safeway and Baskin Robbins, I deleted it. It’s hard enough to walk into a strange sanctuary as a visitor, no way would I be brave enough to walk into a dark and unknown glass door in the local strip mall. (And now I know how to recognize stock-photos!)

The hypocrite in me wants a nice big comfy building with lots of parking and easy access. I want to be able to slip in and out of the sanctuary without being noticed. I want to blend.

But I also want to be noticed.

My entire motivation for this church-quest is to find friends and community. Attend church to worship God, listen to challenging sermons and reach the lost? Those are the HONORABLE AND WORTHY reasons to go to church. But I just want people in my life. I want girlfriends to go to lunch with, laugh with and pray with. Church has always been my built-in friendship circle…all my life.

This is a brand new situation for me. And I am doing it alone because Hubs works every Sunday. Want to go with me?

Part 2 is HERE

5 Minutes for Faith

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Not Everyone Survives the Move From California to Texas...

This is the story of a PLANT called Irving. I've never said his name out-loud, but in my mind I always think "Irving" when I look at him. I don't remember when he joined our family, but here is my earliest photo of him hanging around my ultra-COUNTRY-decorated kitchen about 26 years ago! That is Writer Son who is now a 32 year old Daddy! 

Here is Irving again in 2009. We had one other home in-between these two photos where he was a happy part of our family also.

Irving was part of many fun and silly times in our home. Here he is chuckling
at our good friend Linda, when we scared her with a plastic bug in her Christmas stocking! 

Sweet Irving flourished in our California home for many years! 

I think he really enjoyed his transplant to this cute pitcher in 2013!

Then in mid 2014 Irving was in for a real adventure!

We packed him up and drove him nearly 2,000 miles as we moved from California to Texas! Sharing the back seat with Layla
made the ride so much fun!

Irving even got to meet his cousin Basil, when we spent 3 weeks living with my son and his wife before moving into our own home! They seemed to get along wonderfully!
At last it was time to move Irving into our own home in Texas! He loved the pretty and spacious kitchen.

He also loved to spend time by the swimming pool!

But soon after the big move, Irving began to show signs that he missed his California home. His edges turned brown and sad.

Today after over 26 years of happiness, Irving appears to be ready to leave us.
 We are so unhappy about this! Maybe we should have left Irving in California!

Will fake sunshine help Irving pull out of the winter doldrums? I'm not ready to say "Good-bye"
to Irving since he's been with us for so long.....

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I Still Cannot Believe What I Did in 2014!!

Susie's 2014 by Slidely Slideshow


I hope you enjoyed my little 2014 slide show. Isn't the music wonderful? The song is called "You Are Beautiful" and it was written and recorded by my good friend Stephanie Carlson! (Thanks for allowing me to use it Stephanie.)

On the last day of 2014 I am sitting in a beautiful home looking out my windows at a grey and cloudy sky. My scented candles make me feel cosy and contented. I look back at 2014 and wonder how it all happened! I could easily let the slide show speak for itself. You will see photos of our year of packing up our California home and moving to this upgrade of a home in Texas. It could appear to have been a faith-filled and confident journey full of joy and careful planning.

It was not any of those things.

The years immediately preceding 2014 were tough ones. As I look back on my blog posts in 2011...2012...2013...2014...I can see the desperation, fear and anger that fueled my writing. But I also see God there with me. Admittedly, there were fewer posts published during that time because I refused to write a blog full of complaining and I wrote nothing during those seasons. 

BUT NOW, I marvel at what a miracle 2014 really was for us!! 

The song on the slide show mentions hearing the "rush of angels wings" and I am reminded of a quirky character in a great fiction book I just finished reading, "Drenched In Light" by my newest favorite author, Lisa Wingate. The side-character has a habit of reaching into the air and symbolically picking up a tiny guardian angel and placing it on the shoulders of her grandchildren as they head out the door to walk through their dangerous neighborhood to school each day. 

I am convinced that Hubs and I had guardian angels on our shoulders all through 2014. They were whispering good advice about some very big and hasty decisions that we made for our futures. Our former strong faith in divine direction had become a bit fragile in recent years. I know that we had each asked God to help us know what to do, but they were prayers that sounded more like, "HELP!!" than anything full of faith and confidence.

Last January we entered 2014 knowing that we wanted to move from California to Texas to live near our married son and his wife. But that was all we knew. Our home of 20 years needed many serious repairs and we had no money to bring it up to selling level. You get used to doors that don't stay open without a teddy bear propping it in place. The back fence was falling down and covered in "temporary" patches that embarrassed both of us. After every high wind Hubs climbed the roof to replace loose shingles.

But I began to sort closets; donating, selling and packing as I went. I also became obsessed with Texas real estate websites and created a Pinterest board that quickly became full of possible new homes. My interest was noticed by a few agents who emailed and offered to set up appointments to tour the homes I was looking at online. I had to let them know that I was just "window shopping" and still lived 2,000 miles away. 

Then came the happy news that we were going to be grandparents toward the end of 2014 and our goal to get to Texas was intensified 100%! 

My journal records our desires for our new home...No yard-work...Room for our dog Layla...Walking distance to a swimming pool...Plenty of sunshine. So these requirements led me to senior living communities, condominiums and duplexes. They fit the requirements and I saved them on my Pinterest board and looked for the bright-side of each place. I wasn't sad about these places at all, just excited to start over in a completely different way of life! 

On May 1st I went to the emergency room with a mini-stroke. A few days later my doctor told me to "take it easy" for the next few weeks and reduce stress in my life. Hubs and I laughed and told her that we planned to move out of state within the next few months! 

Here is where the fun part begins. On May 6, 2014 Hubs is offered a job in Texas...IF we can be there by the end of JUNE!!!

Sell, pack and move in 7 weeks??!! We decided to go for it. (Thanks guardian angel!)

Our local WONDERFUL realtor, Samuel Vera looked over our home and told us not to do any of the painting or big repairs we thought we needed to do. COULD HAVE KISSED HIM! He said the house was great and would sell as is. Yay!...And he was totally right! It sold above asking price to the first couple who looked at it, after only 2 days on the market! (There were some bumps along the way, but they got it and that made us happy.)

We still had no place to move TO, but we ordered the moving van to come take away all of our belongings on June 24. Our kids in TX offered to house us until we found a new home. Hubs and I decided that we would stay with them for one month and if it took longer, we would rent a place while house-shopping. 

The job offer was in a town 1 hour away from the kids, so we literally drew a line on a map from the job-town to the kids-town and started looking for homes half-way in-between the two so that the commute would not be too long either direction. All of the towns were complete mysteries to us. Our one and only visit to Texas was for our son's wedding, for 3 days, 4 years ago. 

The sale of our house prompted Hubs to start showing me homes online that were NOTHING like the condos I had saved on my Pinterest board. Suddenly he is talking about granite counters, hardwood floors and asking me if I want to have MY OWN swimming pool!! WHAT??? (Some heavy guardian angel whispering must have been happening!) I was flabber-gasted! That is the only word that truly works for this crazy turn-about in plans. 

Then as if that was not enough to knock my socks off...he actually wanted to make an OFFER on a house the kids had walked through for us and we all loved. Make an offer? Without ever seeing it for ourselves? Really? (Thank you BJ Fish for being an awesome TX realtor for us!) 

That particular offer did not go through, but it opened the door to the next great house that was even better...AND WE GOT IT! The gorgeous home, with granite counters, hardwood floors and a pool with a WATERFALL is mine now.

Divine guidance HAD to be happening. We bought this home on June 20th...the moving van took away our belongings on June 24...we left California on June 25...and saw our new home for the FIRST TIME on July 2nd! We stayed with Writer Son and Sassy Bride for about 3 weeks and moved into our new home one day before the movers arrived on July 19th! 

Five months later we are still in marvel-mode as we drive around this new hometown of ours. The kids were not at all familiar with this city so we really "lucked out" at landing blindly in a place that we already love and enjoy so much! We are 30 minutes from them and 30 minutes from Hub's new job. (He may be transferred to a store about 5 minutes from our house this year!) 

My want list for 2014 has been fulfilled above and beyond my desires. I have an adorable new grandson, a huge home with a pool (within walking distance!) AND a WATERFALL! The yards are very low-maintenance and neighborhood is gorgeous. The house is not sunshiny, I have to turn on lights all day...but I have a SWIMMING POOL! who cares about a few lights burning in the daytime? 

We began this year with very low faith. I knew that I was loved by God...but that was ALL I knew for sure. It was enough. He loved me through the yuck-times and He led us into the good-times.  He led us quietly...almost silently. We never heard any big direction from God about this move or during any of the million small decisions that were involved. 

Looking back, we can see that God's hand was on our year...but we did not know it at the time. If FELT blind and very stumbly. I begged for clear direction, but He chose to just let the tiny guardian angels whisper little urgings here and there as we tripped over our own feet on this journey. It was scary. It was not faith-filled. 

I am wondering if you are in a stumbly, scary place right now? You have yelled out to God for help and only heard silence as your answer. Can I tell you that He does hear you and He does love you and care about your situation? This I know. I do not know why He chooses to lead us with whispers when we would obviously prefer grand declarations from Him. I am hoping that my story of 2014 will remind you that the crazy-goodness COULD be just around the corner. 

Please know that you are loved by God...and that is enough. Listen for the tiny whispers, they might hold your answers. It has just now occurred to me that my One Word chosen for 2014 was LISTEN. I never made the connection until this instant as I finish this post. I am plucking a little guardian angel out of the air right now and placing it securely on your shoulder. Listen to the positive whispers of one of God's messengers. You are loved by God. 

This I know.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Embracing My Age...As Odd As It Is

Saying Good-Night to our Christmas tree last night before bed. 

I open a kitchen cupboard and notice a large package of cinnamon gummy bears hidden on a high shelf and I smile as I bring it down to the counter. My sons are on the couch, talking about movies as usual and I know they will love these!

In the same moment, as my arm lowers to the counter with the prize, I have a flashback of my own mom pulling one treat after another out of her overcrowded cupboards when the house was full of us at Christmas time. 

I am rewarded by a big smile from one son and a loud "YES! Cinnamon bears!" from the other. 

Some of this post is not going to resonate with my younger readers. Even those who are only 10 years younger than I. Forty-nine is not the same experience as fifty-nine. It just isn't. 

My mom has been gone for three years and with each passing day I find her in myself. The good and the bad. It's an odd feeling, but not altogether good or bad. It just is. Christmas magnifies her presence/absence because she was an over-the-top holiday celebrator. We felt her presence this year and had an impromptu little "remember the time she..." conversation with all the family here this year. It was sweet and comforting. 

But to see and feel myself doing and saying what she would say is really puzzling and somewhat dizzying. Did she experience this ache to know her kids better? Did she want desperately to fix every little thing in our lives? Did she lose sleep over our choices  and wonder if a word spoken here or there would help or hurt? 

The puzzling part is that she and I definitely had our differences over the years. It often felt like we were never on the same page at the same time. We honestly frustrated one another more than once. How odd to find myself walking in her shoes and realizing what was behind some of her actions and words. I am learning to respond differently sometimes, weighing what she would do and what I want to do. I would hope that my children would do the same. We can use the past to make the future a better place. 

So here I am in the last few months of my 59th year and I am sort of enjoying the thought of turning 60 soon. It still sounds ridiculously old to my ears, but I am embracing my age and this stage of life. After all, I became a GRANDMA this year and that is a totally good and positive thing! 

I love being a mother-in-law, a grandmother, and a mother to grown-up kids. When I was a young mom I dreaded these days. I had no idea how fun and joyful it would be when the "kids" and their loves are here with us. I kept grabbing my sons and just holding them tight, trying to transfer the love I was feeling back into them. How can they know what I feel? There are no words...even for a major word-aholic like me! 

As I reached into the cupboard for those cinnamon bears, I knew the joy of providing joy for my kids. I know that my own mom was feeling the same thing...even though her cupboards held trays and trays of home-made fudge, cinnamon rolls, orange peel candy and did I say AMAZING FUDGE? 

Gonna need to get busy earlier next year. 

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A personal encounter with the supernatural will move you from a spectator to a participant....

Since hearing those words, “What made them bow before a toddler?” I have been turning it over and over in my mind and heart and my only answer is that the famous shepherds and the royal wise men must have had some kind of major encounter that caused them to bow before a baby, a toddler who looked like any other in the world.....
READ MORE at 5 Minutes for Faith.
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Friday, December 5, 2014

Happy Journaling!!! Random Journal Day Featured Writer!!

I tried, I really did, I promise. It is Random Journal Day and even though I am honored to be the Featured Writer this month over at Enthusiastically Dawn, I am not posting a randomly chosen journal entry today. Nothing resonated with me as I kept opening one journal after another to use as inspiration for a post. (Hop on over there and read my piece, ok?)

So I am going to cheat and will just continue with my observations of the impact that journaling has had on my life. 

My habit of journal keeping has turned into a pretty accurate and colorful chronicle of my life so far. I never meant for it to be that. I was just doing my best to capture my every day life with words instead of photos. But I did realize that the important moments of our lives are very often the bland and ordinary moments. The phases of life that move from single to married to chasing little ones around to badgering teenagers and then into the odd years of empty nest and now the beginnings of grand-parenting. (Wow, there's a whole life in one sentence! Sheesh!)

With that in mind, one of my little journal habits was what I called "Klein Shots". I would open my journal and then literally look around me and describe what I saw in that moment.Today I honestly treasure those journal entries so much, because they are so clear and precise at grabbing whatever the current phase of life I was in at the moment. (Keep in mind, this was in the days before, long before, today's instant iPhone photo-capturing a million times a day!) 

For instance, one of those Klein Shots included these words..."Three neat stacks of white athletic socks on the kitchen table, tiny-medium-large....A green dinosaur is hiding behind the bananas in our fruit bowl...Sesame Street is blaring in the other room...There are Cheerios squished between the cushions of this chair."

Another captured moment a few years later..."Son #1 is hunched over the computer, writing A Day in the Life of Me...Son #2 is across the street arranging action figures on his buddy's woodpile next to the house...Hubs is due home any minute."

These random moments captured-in-words reveal the ever changing shape of our lives. If I were to write a Klein Shot right now it would look like this..."My feet are on our chicken crate coffee table while I blog on my beloved Mac....Layla is snoring as her warm doggy snout rests against me....Hubs is on the other end of the couch playing a game on his computer as the TV news tells us abut Texas weather....Son #1 is in his home caring for his wife and our first grandson, Max...Son #2 is 2,000 miles away on a Friday night, really don't want to imagine what he is doing! But can't wait to see him in only 8 more days!!:) "

I am thankful for the moments caught in my journals. They take me back to my mood and life-style when written. I'll admit that on some Random Journal Days I open a journal and the words I see pull me into an unhappy time. I have to be careful not to dwell there and allow myself to keep reading until my current happiness is lost in past sadness. But this is why keeping a journal is so helpful and empowering. It reveals that the difficult times never last forever. There is always another page a little farther on that records a happy time and changes that moved me from despair to contentment or overwhelming joy. 

My message at the end of this wandering post is to encourage you to scribble your thoughts, hopes, dreams and doubts in a journal. Writing can bring great clarity and self-revelation just by bringing your inner-most thoughts out and onto paper. You will find like I have that sometimes you do not even know what you really think until you read what you wrote! :) Hmm, that's kinda tweetable!

Happy Journaling!
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Friday, November 28, 2014

Using Tinsel Without Ruining your Vacuum Cleaner...You Are Welcome

I seem to express more creativity when I know what I want and cannot find or afford it. Today that manifested in this glorious idea. I have a bigger Christmas tree this year than I have ever had before. So instead of a 5 foot tree smothered in lights and ornaments, I have a 7 foot tree that looks a little sparse.

I already have gold balls so I wanted to add silver to make it look even prettier. I walked all over our local store and the only christmas balls they had in boxes of just silver with no other colors were plastic non-breakable ones. I wanted the old fashioned fragile glass balls in a box of only silver. I came home disappointed and empty handed.

But then BRILLIANCE arrived! There on the table right in front of me was a pile of tinsel I did not plan to use this year and my empty clear glass balls that sometimes hold strands of red or green ribbon. I simply stuffed each glass ball with tinsel and now I am strutting around feeling like a Christmas genius!

I really LOVE how they sparkle next to the tree lights! And best of all? NO evil GLITTER involved at all! 

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I can legally wish you a very Merry Christmas and may your creativity over flow this year!
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Do Not Look to Me for Gallant Bravery

I WILL NEVER BE ONE OF THOSE HEROIC SICK PEOPLE who inspire everyone with their lofty goals and cheerful outlook. You know the ones I mean. After a terrible health scare they live life to the fullest and begin to take more risks because YOLO and all that. They take up surfing and high mountain skiing and jump from airplanes. 

On May 1st of this year I spent a few hours in an emergency room following a Mini Stroke or TIA-Transient Ischemic Attack. I then went home and read everything I could find online about this fun episode I had experienced. We do need to do our own research in this day of questionable medical procedures and such, but it can also be extremely scary and overwhelming to read online medical information. 

The main sentences that I saw several times jumped out at me as if highlighted in bright yellow;
  • Average annual incidence of MI (Full Heart Attack) after TIA (Mini stroke) was 0.95%.

  • The average length of time between a first TIA and an MI was 5 years.

  • The risk of having MI after TIA was double compared to the general population (Relative Risk RR was 2.09, with 95% confidence 
The internet was telling me that I was a ticking time bomb!! Did I decide to live life to the fullest and "get out there" and make the most of what I had left? NO, I hunkered down and just wanted to hide under my covers and "never leave my house again." I could see a terrible follow-up heart attack in every day ahead of me. I printed out the address of the hospital I should be taken to and posted it on my refrigerator for future paramedics and family to see. I included important phone numbers and insurance details. (I am good, the "big one" has not happened and most likely will not ever happen. I am fine!)

Not exactly plans to climb Mt. Everest.

Always smiling!
Green antiseptic.
 I do not have the inner optimisms and strength that I saw so clearly in Rocker Son in 2011 when he had to have a steel rod placed in his femur after a terrible motorcycle accident.

He was amazing! He turned his hospital room into a big old party. He joked about having room service, sponge baths and drugs any time he wanted them!

I would have been a blubbering mess.

I KNOW THIS BECAUSE after a few weeks of a bad cough, I am a blubbering, weeping mess who cannot see any light at the end of this cough drop-lemon water-honey tea-Nyquil tunnel daze of days. I am angry at no insurance or doctor. I am grumpy and snarly to my dear Hubs. To top it off, I have not seen my new grandson since November 3rd because I don't want him to get my germs.

Do not look to me for gallant bravery and lofty goals when I get sick. You will not find a broad smile and can-do spirit. You will find a tissue strewn couch and a pity party in full force. You are not invited to this party, you would not like it. Don't feel sorry for me please. That is one thing I CAN-DO on my own.


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Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Scared!

My amazing haul today!!!

Have you ever had a real roller-coaster day? The kind of day when your stomach swirls from a quick adrenaline surge of sheer happy-happy-joy-joy and then an equally deep adrenaline surge in the negative direction? And then up and down once again? 

That is my TODAY and it is only 4:45 pm! 

At this moment, my dog, Layla and I are barricaded in my bedroom...and we just might be staying here until the Hubs gets home around 9:30 tonight. I've got water, my laptop, cell phone and a TV...I'm good. (Thankfully my 5-day flu seems to be finished at this point. Yay!)

The coaster ups and downs that brought us to this predicament began with a morning on the couch trying to write an article while ignoring some left-over flu symptoms. I went outside to take a picture of our color-changing trees for my article and I noticed that there seemed to be more wasps than usual.

We fought them off all summer, always checking for them every time we went outside. In recent weeks they've been gone and I thought that maybe we would not see them again until next summer. It was so nice to be able to truly relax in our backyard. 

So now I was wondering why they were back and I googled the question. Yowza! That is as bad as googling a medical symptom! By they time I found the information, my skin was crawling with the heebie-jeebies and my eyes were darting every which way. 

I learned that the FALL is actually their strongest and most aggressive time of year! These are RED WASPS if you want look it up and join me in my freakidom. Horrible creatures!!

While I am reading this info, Layla jumps after a RED WASP IN MY HOUSE! She ran away and rubbed her nose on the floor, but there is still no swelling so she may be fine. I battled the thing, which is not easy with just a flimsy broom. They are big and strong and AGGRESSIVE. I thought I killed it and bragged about it on Facebook. It was smashed between the runners of the sliding glass door, for pete's sake. 

So there's the BAD part of the roller-coaster. (Though in reality, for me, there is no good part of a roller-coaster.) My heart was pounding and I was hugging the dog, looking for any sign of injury. 

I had set up an appointment the other day to go see a fake Christmas tree that someone was selling, so the next plan was to keep that appointment even though I wasn't feeling like leaving the house today at all. I made myself do it though.

Carefully writing out the directions, I went to get some cash first and then made my way to the lady's house not too far from here. We had a lovely chat and I loved the 7 1/2 foot tree that came with white lights and tiny pine cones. She was moving out of state and her garage was full of other Christmas decorations that she did not want to pack. My eyes lit up and I asked what she wanted for the two GRAPEVINE wreaths (with lights) and an artificial wreath and long garland. (Original price of the tree alone: $400.00!!)

Oh me oh my! I packed it all into the back of my sweet yellow truck for $35!!! When I got home I was literally singing to Layla about my great deal as I looked it all over. Definitely an upswing adrenaline rush was happening. The GOOD.

Then I heard Layla whine again. That stupid wasp had resurrected!! The broom is really useless against it, so I sprayed it with some bad stuff and now Layla and I are waiting it out in the bedroom for who knows how long. The BAD IS BACK! 

So here I am, hiding in my bedroom. 

I do not like roller-coasters. Did I already say that? The first (and last) time I rode one, I did it to impress my crush. I sat on my purse to keep it from falling out, not realizing that when the coaster takes a steep drop downward, my body would go upward and my purse would fly to the ground far below. Everything spilled out and I had to watch a guy get a golf cart down into the steep terrain to find all of my silly belongings and bring them back to my very embarrassed little self. (My crush married me, so that's a definite upswing on the GOOD side.)

Still hiding in my bedroom. Hubs just called and said to get some shoes on and stomp on it.   Kind of hard to do while it is bonking itself against the ceiling. When I get my nerve up again, Layla and I will venture out of this room and hunt the intruder down. 

At some point.

UPDATE: After hiding in my room for about 1 1/2 hours, writing this post, Layla and I started to get hungry. So at 6:30pm I tucked my sweatpants into my socks, put on some shoes and a long sleeve shirt and went out to do battle with the stupid Red Wasp. We found it shriveled up, dead, near the back door and I stomped on it to be sure it would not rise again.

Yay! Now let's get off this roller coaster, ok? 

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Random Journal Day | 1988, Power And Love Are a Great Combo

My son and his son.

(I am linking up with the world famous Random Journal Day movement that is sweeping the Internet lately. Haven't heard of it? Well,'s a BIG DEAL! :) Go here to get the details, then jump right in ok?)

My oldest son was five years old and we were all basking in the fun that is being five! The journal page written in early 1988 has hearts on it and a funny story about something he said that made us all laugh. 

The journal entry just before that one ends with a prayer that will be familiar to many parents...

"Again my Lord, I give my Benjamin to you. I've done that many times, but you always give his care and nurturing and molding back to me! So I say Lord, please HELP me with this priceless gift. Don't let me break it or abuse it. I am unable to shape this sweet life without you.
Together Lord, we will raise this little one. Together we will point him to God the Father. Thank you for Benjamin
and for your power and love that came with him."

Today that goofy little five year old is over 30 and probably whispering a very similar prayer about his own newborn son. 

My eyes keep going back to the final words of that journal page..."your power and love that came with him."

I remember being overwhelmed with the magnitude of love that washed over me while holding my babies. The journal entry also talks about how surprised I was at my ability to sacrifice my needs for his. I no longer saw myself as a selfish person because he was bringing out the best in me. Being a mom revealed the worst in me at times too. That is why the prayer was important. 

The power to shape a new life is daunting and scary. But the love that came with it is the real gift. Power without love is the stuff of a true-life horror movie. Again, that is why the prayer is important.

CLICK to see more RJD writers!

The funny story across the page? 

""Hubs" and I were getting ready to go out to Graziano's for dinner. I told "Writer Son" that Daddy and I were going out on a date because we love each other. He said, "I hate that!".

I asked him why he hated that and he replied that "Going on a date, it's SO romantic!" and he made a terrible face.

We laughed so hard at him that he then added, "Well, I never thought YOU GUYS would do THAT!" 

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