Tuesday, December 18, 2012

This May Be Controversial...

This may be controversial.  I have tried to stay out of the politics blaring about on Facebook, walking around at Target, and even at a church function.  But I am finding it hard to hold my tongue any longer!

We all have opinions on the state of our nation, healthcare, gun control, education, and probably even what colors should never be worn.  It's just that way - we are opinionated human beings!

If we could hold civilized conversations without everyone's emotions flying high, I would feel safe to join in to the debates about how we should best handle the crises that face us each and every day.  The simple fact is that I generally stay out because I don't want to get snapped at by someone I love because my opinions don't match up to theirs.

What spawned this?  Well, most recently it was the tragedy that fell on Friday, December 14; when a man walked into an elementary school and murdered several people.  Most of these individuals were mere babies.  Every time I hear someone ranting about mental health, gun control, stricter laws, the benefits of homeschooling, etc etc etc; I get a thick lump in my throat, tears in my eyes, and I can not help but grieve for all of those still living this tragedy!

Our history is studded with moments of cataclysmic events, where one or more individuals sinful decisions affect so many.  And for a moment in time; emotions flare, debate (and hopefully discussion) begins, and hearts are tenderized to the need for hope.  I have my opinions on ways to prevent events like this, just like most everyone else.  And yes, there is a hugely emotional drive for these opinions.  After all, my "life's work" could be summed up in the simple phrase of loving our littlest ones.  But ultimately this fact remains; we are broken people in a broken world!  Nothing will ever fully shield us from tragedy, heartache, or sin.  But we do have a weapon against the cruelty of this world.

It is God!  

So, by all means, discuss how to prevent such atrocities in the future.  Discuss how to improve access to mental healthcare, how to safeguard our children from violence, how to prepare our educators for rising to the ultimate description of their job - to protect those who can not protect themselves.  But please, please also do this...

PRAY!  Pray for mercy for the disregard we all have for our own sin.  Pray for hope for our children.  Pray for help for the sick.  Pray for wisdom on how to proceed with policies and administration.  And pray for the heartache that has been felt by these families as well as those who have endured the pain of other tragedies.

We must rise up as an army of God!  We must pray.  And we must fall before the throne of God, Most High!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Happy Heart Status

Over the past few months, I have been really struggling with keeping a good attitude.  There have been a lot of things happening around me that have left me feeling a little less than "in control" of my days, weeks, and now months.  My attitude was really starting to suffer.  I constantly found myself complaining about my work, getting irritated by certain people, and feeling a little less than gracious about being asked to constantly go above and beyond.  I have been overwhelmed, impatient, and just a tiny bit cranky.  These are very clearly not the traits that I want to describe me.  So, a couple of weeks ago I decided to start something new.  I decided that (for the time being) each day I am going to put a "Happy Heart Status" on facebook.  It is a very small way that I can take a moment to focus my heart on the blessings, joys, and praises that come about in my day.

I got the idea of having a happy heart because I work with children on pretty much a daily basis.  And I LOVE it, although it comes with it's challenges!  Very often, I find myself reminding the little ones around me to have a happy heart.  I let them know that it is ok to be disappointed, frustrated, and even angry at times.  Those "negative" emotions are natural and it is ok to have them.  But, how we respond is where it gets tricky!  Having a happy heart!  It sounds so easy, but as I am so readily reminded by all of these young friends - it can be very hard.  You have to make the choice.

When I realized my attitude was not so great, I was convicted!  Truly convicted that I was telling all of these children that they needed to have a happy heart, but I didn't.  Wow!  I think the Lord just reached right into my heart and made it twinge a bit.  Then I realized that I needed to do something. 

The Lord has been good to me -- very VERY good to me!  I need to take the time to remember each day just how amazing and good He is!  Therein was birthed "The Happy Heart Status".  

Let's see how it goes!

(BTW This is mis-dated because I forgot to post it when I wrote it at the end of September)  HAHA

I must must MUST get some writing done...

It is a little funny to me when I really think about this, but writing is something that has brought about clarity and healing for me.  However, when life gets busy, overwhelming, and even disappointing, writing is the last thing that I think about doing.  Why is that?  It's like walking out onto a battle field with a sword at my side, but never drawing it even though the enemy is charging at me. I wrestle with this weighty weapon on my side that could make the difference between walking away from the battle relatively unscathed or falling on the ground in weakness and injury.  Writing is a sword.  I must wield it!

I actually have 3 writing assignments awaiting me.  They have been there for the better part of two months, but every time I sit to start writing I feel BLANK!  Two of the things I have been asked to write are a personal purpose statement and a testimony of my faith journey.  This has been overwhelmingly challenging - and I can't even seem to get the first sentence out.  I have thought back to all of the instruction on how to write either of these things, I have read other people's stories, I have even looked up "how to write a personal purpose statement" in Google.  It really didn't help me as much as I hoped it would...meaning Google did not tell me what my purpose statement is.  :)

So, when I get stuck, this is where I come.  I re-read things I have written in hope that somehow my writer's voice will become loud and strong and clear.  Now that I have procrastinated for a while, I really must must MUST get some writing done! 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

What a Whirlwind...

I got back into Austin on Thursday evening, after what has to this point in my life been the most stressful week I have experienced.  A lot of sweet and great things happened in it, but a lot of sadness, fear, and frustration also had to be encountered.

As you know, last week my beloved Paw Paw passed away.  I am still sorting through many emotions, but by far the greatest is that I just wasn't ready to lose him!  There have been two men in my life who I knew that I knew at all times I was just as precious to them as they were to me.  My Paw Paw was one of them.  My Uncle Jerry is the other.

I didn't grow up with a father who doted on his baby girl.  In fact, more often than not, I thought I was a burden who was annoying and in the way.  I didn't feel like I could do much "right" for him or that my efforts were ever recognized as the very best I had to offer.  Our relationship was always strained, and to this day it continues to be.

I mention this, because my Paw Paw was never like that.  As I said, I always knew that he loved me and wanted me.  Even when I was an awkward teenager and he just really didn't know what to do with me, I was still special and loved -- and I knew it!

I last saw my Paw Paw in December.  While my mother and I both had a break from work, we made the 11 hour drive to go see him.  When we left, I said goodbye, but certainly did not expect it to be goodbye!  A few weeks ago, he had an infection that caused him to go to the hospital.  I so wanted to put away everything I was doing and go see him.  But I didn't know or understand the urgency.  I was very busy with work and had a thousand and one "important" things on my plate.  But I didn't know that it would be my last chance to touch my Paw Paw, or hear his sweet voice.  I didn't go.  And I wish I had, because I never got to really say goodbye to him.

My sister, Marcie, and I drove up together for the funeral on Sunday.  She has two babies, 7 month-old Amanda and 24 month-old Emily.  The trip didn't take us the 11 hours I previously mentioned...no, it took us 18 hours!  Yes, you read that right!  The girls did AMAZINGLY well for the first 14 hours.  It was pretty hairy after that!  In the final 1 1/2 hour stretch, I was driving and my sister and the girls were sound asleep.  My sister was so exhausted that she didn't even notice we drove through a thunder storm with hail.  She was sitting in the back of the minivan to be close to the kiddos.  I kept looking back, expecting her to wake in a panic. She never did.  It wasn't until we hit Amarillo and slowed to exit the interstate that she actually woke.  We got lost on the way to the hotel and my cousin had to come meet us to get us to the right place.  We unloaded, did laundry, and made it into bed somewhere around 4:30 am (a full 24 hours since we had last risen out of bed).

On Monday, we woke early and got ready.  While both of my sisters and I were together, we made the trip out to go see my father, his sister, and her husband.  I really wanted to see my aunt and uncle, but honestly I wasn't sure I wanted to see my father.  I didn't know what to expect, and I wasn't sure that I was ready for what may greet me.  It had  been 2 years since Shawna saw him, 8 since Marcie had, and 5 since I had.  He of course had not met his grand-daughters, and it was important to Marcie that he get the chance while we were so close.  We met him and our uncle at a restaurant, ate lunch, and then went to see my aunt who was not feeling well enough to come to lunch.  This experience will have to fill up another blog post.  But in short, the meeting went well.  But I was definitely very stressed by it!  We wrapped up our visit there and headed back to Amarillo to get ready for the viewing.  We were late to the viewing, so I didn't have the chance to go actually see my Paw Paw and say good-bye without masses of people around.  At one point the sanctuary emptied enough that no one was standing next to him having a conversation of any sort and I walked up to his casket.  He didn't look like himself!  He was pale, thin, and so very still.  Even seeing that it was in fact time to say goodbye, I couldn't.  I just wasn't ready!  

In one day, I went to see the man who never valued me for who I am - living his life without me being a part of it.  And I saw a man who treasured me as a valuable that could never be replaced - still and laying in a casket.  It doesn't seem fair!

That night, my sister Marcie and I were both beyond the point of exhaustion and stress-able-ness.  We had an argument and the only thing I could do was just walk away.  I did not have the resolve to push through the argument to the solution.  I just couldn't.  I was saddened by our interaction and feared that because of the rocky road we have always traveled, there was no hope that we would ever get past it and walk on a smooth and straight road with each other. When I came back to the room, Marcie had gotten in bed and I followed suit.

Early Tuesday, my aunt got admitted to the ICU.  We weren't sure if Uncle Jerry would make it to the funeral, but he did.  That morning, we all worked together as a family (Shawna, Carl, Marcie, Mom, Me) to get Emily and Amanda ready, so Marcie could get everything gathered that would be needed for the day.  We did well!  We got out of the hotel and made it to the funeral on-time!  Emmie sat between me and Car-Car (Uncle Carl) all through the service and she did great -- she knows "church" and so we told her we were at church and she needed to stay quiet.  I was so proud of how well she did.  I was paying attention, but felt a little numb; almost as if I couldn't process what was actually happening.  At the very end, when they carried the closed casket out to the hurse, a piece of me just wanted to run up and stop them to say, "You can't take him away yet!  I'm still not ready!" Don't worry, I didn't.  We proceeded to the grave sight, where he was buried right between my grandmother and my cousin Marlena who passed away my junior year in college.  Somehow, the fact that his body would rest right there - between two other people in his life that loved and adored him just as much as I did - it seemed ok.  Everything that happened after that is a bit of a blur.

One thing about that day that stands out to me as a wonderful and amazing thing was a conversation that Marcie and I had Tuesday afternoon.  We talked through our argument from the previous night and how it related to so many other arguments that we had.  It was a good conversation - and Emily and Amanda slept through most of it, so we actually got to pay attention to each other without distraction!  In this conversation, hope was restored that Marcie and I really can have more in our relationship.  We both expressed our desire, prayers, and hopes for so much more -- and I think that the fact that we both want it so much will keep our relationship improving!

On Wednesday, we drove back as far as Abilene. We decided that staying there and having a change to play a little and get a good nights sleep would really help out with the rest of the drive.  We still only got 5 hours of sleep, but that was between 2 and 4 hours more than we had for the previous 4 days!

We finished the drive on Thursday.  It was a good drive!  We talked some more about things that were important to both of us.  And for me, one of the best parts was that Marcie was asking me about MY life.  She genuinely wanted to know about my work, theories on education, and my own personal experiences that have led me in the direction of who I am today.  It was as if 30 years of walls had begun crumbling and falling down!  

After dropping Marcie and the girls off in Fredericksburg, I gathered my things and headed back to Austin.  I had work things that needed to be addressed, a doctors appointment for my neck, and my small group meeting.  I pushed through (and enjoyed) these things and then came home and CRASHED!!!!  Friday I didn't have to be anywhere, and it was a good thing.  My body was so exhausted that I pretty much just laid around all day.  A friend of mine scheduled to have two housekeepers come clean my house on Friday afternoon, and it was the biggest blessing!  I have a work party at my house tonight and having someone else come in to clean and help me get my house together was HUGE!!

I think this is probably the longest thing I have ever posted.  In reality it is probably at least three different posts, but I just needed to spill it all out.  If you have actually stuck through reading this whole thing, bless you!  I am impressed!

Friday, April 27, 2012

My Beloved Paw Paw...

This afternoon, at the age of 91, my beloved Paw Paw left this world to go be with the Lord.  

My earliest memory of my grandfather is being on the farm and going out into the wheat fields on his "big green tractor".  He would take me out, let me sit on his lap and "drive" the green machine.  We would look into the massive panhandle sky and discuss the important stuff in life - like what shape the clouds made in the sky and how to know if it was going to rain anytime in the next few days.  I remember thinking, "this must be what heaven is like".  I remember going out with him when I was three, when I was six, when I was ten, when I was twelve.  This was our special time together!

Some of my other wonderful memories include sitting at the kitchen table and waiting for him to come in long after my bed time to eat a bowl of cereal together.  He had the gross looking fiber-pellet cereal and I got Kix.  We also enjoyed time sitting in the living room watching the news.  He sat in his sheet-covered mechanical chair and I sat on the round orange ottoman right at his feet.  I never much liked watching the news with anyone else, but when it was with my Paw Paw I was doing important business!  

The big yellow farm house signified many great things in my childhood, but by far the very best was spending time with my Paw Paw!  I don't know that there has been another single human in my life that I have adored quite as much!

As I grew older, there was a window of awkwardness that came.  Somehow, I didn't feel like I was quite as special to him because I wasn't a hard working man or an even harder working woman - quite yet.  I was just a teenage girl and I think he just didn't quite know what to do with me.  But even still, my adoration for him never faded.

As all children (and grand-children) do, I grew.  When it came time to pick a college to go to, I chose a school in Abilene.  My grandparents lived there and I felt safe living close to them.  My freshman year, my grandmother got very ill and my grandfather got into a car accident.  I remember feeling the sting of realizing that my grandparents were aging and health was not a guarantee.  Before my grandparents moved back up to Amarillo to live closer to a lot of our family, I had a conversation with my grandfather.  He said, "Sis.  You have always been a special one."  I nearly fell apart in tears in that moment - just as I am in this one.  I realized that despite my growing up, I was still his little grand-daughter.  

In the following years, I made many trips from Abilene to Amarillo to see my grandparents.  My grandmother's health was very frail during those years and I wanted to spend time with her.  But even then, when my grandmother would go lie down for a rest I would sit and watch the news with my Paw Paw.  It was time, that for some strange reason was just precious to me - almost sacred.  

I have not seen my grandfather much in the past few years.  I saw him just twice in the past 13 months - for his 90th birthday and for Christmas.  His mind was becoming cloudy and his strength was diminished.  Yet I still saw the strong man who would play with me in the wheat fields.  Just last night in my "I can't sleep" awake hours, it occurred to me that my grandfather was not immortal and that at some point he would pass away from this world.  I did NOT expect it to be today, but maybe Holy Spirit was just helping me prepare for the road that would be today.  

I know that many will say that he is now in a better place where pain, fatigue, and earthly sorrow can no longer hinder him.  For this I am thankful.  But for the fact that I will never again get to sit and watch the news with my Paw Paw, I am grieved!  

I will miss him like no other that I have ever lost!
Tonight is one of those times that I have so much swirling in my head that I can't seem to still the noise long enough to allow myself to enter the blissful place of sleep.  So I write.  

I am definitely overwhelmed at the moment.  

I am trying to prove myself worthy to a new boss, all while also trying to close out a semester and 5 groups that I manage.  This involves about 20 caregivers and close to 100 children.  I have been at this job for 9 months, so I still have to remind myself that I am encountering "firsts" and that they can be hard. 

I am not only working this job, I am also working as a nanny a few days a week.  I LOVE the family and have known them since their first baby was well, a baby!  He is now 3!  But I find myself feeling overwhelmed by certain things here too.  

My house (that I lease) just got sold.  Well, it isn't sold just yet, but it is in contract.  The closing is set for May 11.  We have to be out my June 5th.  I HATE moving.  I know that most people do.  I just happen to traditionally feel inordinately insecure when it comes to moving.  For some reason, it stirs up chaos in me that I don't even understand.  Some people look forward to the next adventure.  For me, I just feel like my foundation is being pulled out from underneath me.  I liken it to those movie scenes you see where someone tries to pull a table-cloth out from underneath stacks of china dishes.  I feel like the china dishes.  And although the Lord has never aloud me to come crashing to the floor, the rattling and shaking makes me fear I will somehow get broken beyond repair.  

Even with all of these things that overwhelm me, I can see the love and mercy of God.  Yet still, I stir.  I strive.  I fret.  Why?  Why can't I just seem to lie down and close my eyes and allow the peace of my Lord to wash over me?  I don't know why it is so hard for me to just live through transition without feeling so alone.  Why is making life decisions so frightening?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Today I am once again reminded of the reality of living with auto-immune issues. I am not complaining...at least I'm trying not to.

I have been running myself pretty hard lately, and the true reality is that going at light speed will catch up with anyone. It just happens to catch up to me in the form of being a lethargic slug who winces at the thought of movement. And, it doesn't usually hit at the most convenient of times - as anyone who deals with auto-immune disorders can tell you. In fact, it tends to be that the times we are reminded that we do in fact have limits that need to be respected are the very same moments that we anticipate needing all of our faculties in top-order.

I have just come off of working three very long weeks in preparation for Holy Week children's services. I think I have logged in somewhere very close to 80 hours of work each of those three weeks. This weekend, I spend Saturday and the majority of Sunday in bed trying to refill the energy tank. Yesterday I felt fairly restored and headed into a 11 hour work day with an additional 3 hours of play. I had a wonderful day. I slept fairly well last night and got a good 7 hours of sleep. But, this morning when I tried to rise out of bed I felt it. Every last joint in my body seemed to be screaming out in fire. And today, as I have been trying to press hard through work, I seem to be so completely fatigued that I can't even muster up the energy to go refill my water bottle. If only I could just go home, but alas I can't. There are still 7 very long hours left in this work day for me!

I just pray for the peace and grace of the Lord. And, that He would meet me and carry me through the rest of this day. This is also a reminder to me to pray for my many friends who are dealing with similar things. I pray for strength, rest, and super-natural energy for each of them. You know who you are! ;)

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Cool Kid is Sitting at MY Table...

Have you ever encountered those people in your life that as soon as you meet them you can just see the Lord oozing out of them? They don't think, "Oh, I have to choose my words so carefully so that this person can see Christ in this." No. They just speak and anyone around will notice that they carry a confidence, a security, a love that is rarely seen. Those of us who know the Lord, know exactly what that air about them is...it is HIM!

Well, I have one of these people in my life. I don't know her that well yet, but I would love for our friendship to grow deeper. We have a several common friends. We go to the same church. We have on occasion sat and talked or prayed about some of the less superficial things of life. But we aren't Bosom Buddies or anything; not yet at least. But we do share something pretty awesome...Jesus! We are both utterly smitten by the overwhelming love of Jesus!

When I first met her, I was instantly interested in getting to know her! But, I was uber-intimidated to even ask her if she would like to grab a coffee sometime because...yes I did say this...I had that high-school fear that I was asking to sit at the cool-kid table and I was afraid I wouldn't be welcome. Because let's face it, I'm not exactly one of the cool kids! I actually admitted this fear - out loud - to her. She laughed at me! I have since come to realized that although she definitely is one of the cool kids, she welcomes me to sit at her table - and she doesn't seem to think any less of me even though I don't rack up as many cool-points as she does.

Well tonight, to my great joy, I got to invite her to sit at my table. She is about to leave for Africa for six months and she actually took a night out of her very busy schedule to come over and eat dinner with me. How special I felt! Before she left my house I got to pray for her. Here I am, praying for this person who oozes the love of Jesus. And you know what? It was fabulous!

There are moments in my life when I know that I am in exactly the right place at the right moment and I am doing the right thing. That happened tonight. The Lord was so precious and so sweet to show me ways to pray for her and love her. And in return, I felt that overwhelming ooze of the Lord -- coming out of me! It was just so precious that I had to record it.

And I must also admit that it feels a little fun to have the cool-kid come over to my house!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I don't know if I am the only one who does this, but I doubt that I am...

I love to write. In fact, I love to tell stories. I really like to tell stories about me. I have a blog; this written story that is all about me. So far, this sounds like a plan that could work out. Right? However, I quite often go for very long windows of time where I neglect to write stories about myself on my blog.

I think about writing. I even visit my own blog and read things that I have previously written to remember all of the fun stories I have about myself. And then, I leave my page without writing anything new.

It has been over a year since I wrote on my blog. Wow. I feel terrible about this. Apparently feeling bad doesn't seem to stimulate much change,though

So, tonight (or this morning as the case is) I remedy my one-year hiatus with a senseless post about how infrequently I now write on my blog. It really hasn't always been this neglected! I promise. What I don't promise is this...I don't promise that I will start writing on a regular basis again. I wish I could make that promise, but I think I would be at great risk of making a liar out of myself.