Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hard fought battle... and an awesome night sky!

O God of my praise, Do not be silent! For they have opened their wicked and deceitful mouth against me; they have spoken against me with a lying tongue. They have also surrounded me with words of hatred, and fought against me without cause. In return for my love they act as my accusers; but I am in prayer. Thus they have repaid me evil for good and hatred for my love. Psalm 109: 1-5
It has sure been one long week.  I feel as though I have been through an emotional wringer repeatedly.  I had years of pent up emotions explode like a volcano of epic proportions.  I know I am supposed to turn a cheek and not get angry, but I am only human and this has been a long time coming... about thirty years.  It took an attack on my children for me to have had ENOUGH!  You automatically assume if someone is family that you have to have them in your life, but there are times when it is necessary to remove toxic relationships, even if it is a family member.  I have realized this week that this is the best course of action in this situation and the only other thing I can do is pray.  I am sad that this person is doing everything possible to distance me from someone who has always been an important part of my life, someone who I love very much but this is another thing I have to put into God's hands.  This week I said many things I should have continued to hold back and had many things said to me that were meant to destroy me.  But the great thing is… I have a relationship with a wonderful, loving, and forgiving Lord and Savior.  He has forgiven me and has given me the strength to withstand this attack against me.  I also have the ability to pray that maybe this person will find God and know the forgiveness, grace, and love He has to offer.  However, I do not have to let this person bring hatred, selfishness, and jealousy into my life.  Hatred, selfishness and jealousy can eat you alive and turn you into something almost monstrous.  Satan loves to use these emotions to sabotage each and every life around.  But God gives me the ability to stand firm against any weapon yielded against me.  Attacks may hurt or wound, but they will not destroy.
Ok, to get off the proverbial soap box and on a lighter note.  Did anyone else see the awesome site of Jupiter in the night sky?  Sitting there with my children, looking at the amazing creation of God… I felt more peace than I thought I could feel.  How blessed we are!  God took such care to create the heavens and the earth for us, just for us and we take it for granted so often.  I am glad I took the time to stop and enjoy it with my children.  I may just make it a new habit!!!
O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
      Your glory is higher than the heavens.
 You have taught children and infants
      to tell of your strength,
   silencing your enemies
      and all who oppose you.
 When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
      the moon and the stars you set in place—
 what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
      human beings that you should care for them?
 Yet you made them only a little lower than God
      and crowned them with glory and honor.
 You gave them charge of everything you made,
      putting all things under their authority—
 the flocks and the herds
      and all the wild animals,
 the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,
      and everything that swims the ocean currents.
 O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
                                                           -Psalm 8:1-9

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Just venting...

My household is definitely run by the "spare the rod, spoil the child" philosophy.  My children are expected to behave and understand there are consequences if they don't.  However, I do know that as children, they will test these boundaries and that sometimes, they will be "kids."  I get around other people and their kids, then I realize my kids are very good for the most part, despite being typical kids, i.e. hyper and loud.  It is when people assume that my kids are not behaving and they take it upon themselves to correct my children (repeatedly) when I am sitting right there, that I have a problem.  I am NOT one of those parents who let their kids run wild and crazy without ever getting onto them. I have been accused at times that I am too hard on them and I need to let them be kids.  It is usually people who have children of walking and talking age that say this.  Those without kids or who have babies, look at my children at times like they are out of the Exorcist and will soon begin to spew pea soup if they simply run in front of the TV or speak a little too loudly.  My kids are not bad kids.  They are actually pretty loving, most of the time respectful, they love God, and they know right from wrong.  No, they do not sit there silently, hands in lap, for hours on end (and at times they say and do things they simply know they shouldn't despite knowing they will get in trouble for it... oh the horrors!).  When you are a parent for a while, you learn to not stress over the small stuff.  Make them mind, but don't sit there watching their every single move waiting for them to mess up just so you can get on to them.  I certainly do not do this to other people's kids and I do not expect someone to do it to mine.  If I ask you, "Will you please watch my child?" then by all means, make them mind.  But if I am right there, I WILL correct them when I feel it neccessary.  If you see them doing something dangerous and I don't see it.. then stop them from getting hurt.  If they are behaving in a way you feel is wrong and I do not see it.. then tell me and I will surely take care of it.  But never, ever think your kids will not act hyper, back talk, do something they are not supposed to, break something in a store, or that you won't ever give in to their wants at times in life.  I promise you, you will regret thinking that.  People always think their kids will never....... but they will. And, point blank and frankly, if you just cannot handle the way I feel about this, then maybe it is time we rethink hanging out together.  My kids are my life. I do not dump my kids off on a sitter just so I can go hang out with people who don't understand life with children.  After hanging out with a great family Friday night, who have kids close to my kid's ages... I realized how relaxing it was not to feel the need to worry constantly that my children would offend an adult with their mere presence.  Not once did these parents find it neccessary to correct my children.  They were dealing with their kids and they let me deal with mine.  I could see how much more relaxed my kids were and they behaved so much better.  I think this is why I enjoy hanging out with my best friend and her family so much. Besides the fact that they love me, for me... they love my children, for themselves.  They are able to play with her kids and feel free to be the kids they are.  I am able to just... breathe.  It is such a great feeling. It deducts from my stress levels instead of adding to them.  I should not have to get so stressed out to go hang out with people just because I know I will have to watch every move my kids make.  It's not fair to me or my kids. I know that there will be times that I and my kids will have to endure this but I will be making it very clear in the future that if someone cannot handle being around my kids, then maybe they should just not be around them... or me.  My children are the biggest blessing of my life and I am so tired of making them uncomfortable by hindering their curiosity and wonderful energy (that I would love to have a 1/4 of) because I am in fear another adult will not understand it.  I know I keep going back to it, but it is just the truth.  My kids don't fit inside the box that people think kids are supposed to fit in.  Be assured, they WILL be made to mind, but I will not rob them of any ounce of their childhood any longer.

Jesus himself said, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children."  Matthew 19:14

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rule #1, Don't use red???

I had an awesome chat today with a good friend, Jemmie.  He is a very talented artist in many ways.  We talked about our high school art classes and how much we have either learned or not learned since then.  Jemmie was able to live a dream of mine, he attended the Art Institute after high school.  I feel fortunate to have been able to take art in high school but there is so much about it that seems so "generic" as I get older (and hopefully much wiser.)  We were expected to conform to the art curriculum laid out for us.  The problem?  Artists, like every other person on this earth, are NOT the same.  We don't all enjoy drawing perfect circles on a piece of paper or a still life "bowl of fruit".  We don't all like to be told... draw this, just like this, with these colors here.  We don't want to be told, "You cannot use red." (Inside joke, Jemmie will understand)  The point is to use the colors that you feel, that express how you see something.  An artist has the ability to let people see what they see through their eyes.  Now some, would look at a piece of artwork and say, 'That is not right! That is not the way it looks. It is not even that color."   I believe God gives us all the ability to see the world in our own colors, to view it in our own unique way.  I just think we are conditoned through life to try to see things in the same colors. Instead of nurturing the uniqueness of an individual, we want to force them to be what we have been brought up to believe is normal and correct.  I love history, I am by no means an expert, but I wonder where this way of thinking came about?  Is it something that goes back to Adam and Eve?  When they saw the world through the eyes of sin, did it cloud their minds of the beautiful colors they saw the world in to start with?  I hear the questions some may be asking right now, "But aren't we supposed to see things the same?  Aren't Christians supposed to change and be like God?"  Well, yes.  But does that mean losing our uniqueness or what makes us... us?  God created each of us, to be like him... yet, He made none of us alike.  If Christ is in us, someone should be able to see that through anything.  Long hair, tattoos, even scars from a past not lived in a walk with God.  If your heart is filled with love for God, no outer appearance or expression of individuality will hide it.  God created the colors of the rainbow and painted the earth with them, so that we, His children, could enjoy all He had created.  And He even used the color red!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Below is an excerpt of a post on Josh's guestbook on from one of his friends in Colorado:

"But the most important memories was how we accepted each other "CHECKMARKED AS IS" ..."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Saying goodbye...

Saying goodbye is never an easy thing to do. Even if it is just temporary and you know that someday you will see that person again, it is difficult to not be sad when someone you care about is gone.

Today we honored the life of a friend who passed away way too soon. There were a lot of tears, but there was an equal amount of laughter. Listening to someone talk about the great times they had with a friend and the memories they made together is very cathartic. Hearing a pastor speak about someone who was living in pain for so long and shares how they gave their heart to God brings a peace that is indescribable. Seeing old friends for the first time in years can make for some great reminiscing sessions that you never want to end. Talking to the parents of another friend who was also taken away too young, can leave you feeling melancholy. Knowing that those two best friends are now reunited in Glory… there are simply no words.

I pray that when my day comes, people will honor me as Josh was honored today. I hope I have touched throughout my life just a fraction of the lives he touched with his wonderful heart and smile.

Don't be dismayed at goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetime, is certain for those who are friends. ~Richard Bach

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11... so much to say...

I can't believe it has been nine years.  Nine years ago, our lives changed forever.  We faced our mortality as we had never done before.  We all felt safe in the cocoon of the United States.  The horror we watched that day was surreal but none of us could turn away from the TV. Do you remember where you were or what you were doing that day?  I, myself, remember that day so vividly.  I was sitting at my desk at work, starting my busy day as usual.  My boss's wife called to tell us to turn the TV on and that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  We turned it on... and it stayed on all day.  We sat in front of it and could not tear ourselves away.  The phones were unusually silent... probably because everyone else was just like us, scared to even breathe.  I remember pointing to the screen, yelling at a co-worker, "There's another plane!"  and then gasping as it hit the second tower.  There was no doubt then that this was not just some accident. Something truly evil had come out from the depths of hell to descend on us.  Smoke, flames and shattered windows were the only things we could see from the comfort of our chairs and couches.  What kind of hell were those people living through? I remember seeing little specks on the screen, not knowing at that point that it was people jumping to their deaths. I look back now and wonder how they could have done that, but then I also wonder just how bad it had to have been inside that building for them to do that.  Then, the towers began to collapse and I remember the sickening feeling of all the people still inside and of all the people on the outside who could not escape the torrent of debris.  Then the reports of other planes being hijacked soon began to come across the news screen.  The plane that crashed into the Pentagon, then the one that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.  We all had that sickening feeling that life as we knew it, would never be quite the same.  The safety net of our Nation, the bubble that we all lived in, had been compromised in the blink of an eye in a way that none of us thought could ever be possible.  We watched our President step to action.  He has been greatly criticized for many things he did during his time as President, but I know he brought me peace with his words during that time.  He called upon the name of God and I felt comfort in that.  There have been many.. way too many lives lost over the last nine years. First, on that fateful morning, and continuing throughout two wars that are still being fought by our brave soldiers today.  All of this because of hatred, anger, and religion.  No, I am not attacking anyone's "religion" by saying this.  But religion is not what we should claim when we live for God.  Religion is a broad term that frankly, is overused.  I don't want to be labeled "religious" because that can mean so many things.  The monsters who stepped on those planes full of innocent people, they claimed to be "religious". No, loving God has nothing to do with religion, it means you are redeemed, forgiven, saved by the blood shed by Jesus Christ on the cross.  Many ask, 'Where was God on September 11?"  "Why did He let this happen?"  God was with each and every person in those buildings and on those planes, as well as with all of us who called upon Him that day.  He was with every fireman who was bravely climbing those steps as others were going down to escape.  He was with every policeman as they tried to help people get out and to safety.  The will of man is not the will of God.  He cried with us that day because this is not what He wanted for us.  Sin brought this upon us, not God.  Could He have stopped it, oh sure.  But man made the choice for free will when he chose to disobey God in the beginning.  The wages of sin is death.  The only hope we have in this evil world we live in, is to give ourselves to God, through Jesus.  Then there will come a time that we will no longer live in fear of evil and we will never shed another tear.  You can live with hope and have the joy in that hope.. or you can live without hope and be sad, miserable and of this cruel world.  I choose hope.  And on this day of remembrance, I hold on to that hope and to my Faith.  I look back on the horror of this day nine years ago and feel remorse for all who were lost, but I also feel a pride for our Nation as it responded to that horror with love and compassion.  I pray that this day reminds us all of that.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Losing touch.. Part 2

I heard from so many on my note "Losing Touch..." that I decided to write a second part. My heart is extremely heavy, because Josh passed away. I went to the hospital to see him on Tuesday afternoon but he had already been moved to CCU and I could not see him. I talked to his mom and awkwardly tried to express how I felt. I really hope she understands that although I came across as the "weird girl Josh went to school with"... I really had much to say that I could not even begin to express in the correct way. I seem to have a way with words, written that is. But as most of you know about me when it comes to talking in person, my nerves cause my mouth to go into overdrive and I never know what I will say. I can think it in the most perfect way, but once it hits my mouth... it is just a hot mess. I wanted so much for her to know how Josh had touched my life and what a special person he was. But then, I felt so out of place. Who was I to be there when I hadn't even kept in touch with him over the years? There were so many who deserved to be there and I surely did not. I felt the pull to go see him from the moment I found out he was sick, if for nothing more than to tell him thanks for being a good friend in high school, but I kept telling myself that I should not impose on the time his family and close friends had left with him. The pull continued all afternoon until I finally followed my heart to go. By then, he had been moved into CCU and I could not see him. He stayed on my mind and my heart all night. I called to check on him and see if there was anything his mom needed. I know there is nothing I could do or say that would ever ease her pain, but I just wanted to help in some way. The reports after that were good and he seemed to be improving. Someone even mentioned he might get put back in a regular room and I was thrilled for him. I was praying continuously for Josh, and I wanted so much for him to be healed. I was talking to a friend and telling her that he was improving and doing well. Then I got the message from Brad.... "Josh is gone". I know those had to be the hardest three words for Brad to type. He lost his best friend and I could feel his agony in those three words. Josh was so young.. way too young to be gone. He will be missed tremendously and I am so ashamed of myself that I let so much time go by. How do we allow ourselves to walk away from our graduations and leave behind those who we called friends? I know life is full and it is so hard to find the time for those even closest to us. I, myself, want to make an effort to reach out to those who meant so much to me in my life. If you get a message from me that just says "Thank You"... well, you know that I am just trying to show my gratitude for some kindness you showed me that meant something in my life. However small, that kindness was one piece that helped me toward completing the puzzle that is my life.

I hope to someday tell Josh that I was thankful that he taught me to laugh and that he always had a smile to brighten my day . In the meantime he is acting a fool and cutting up with our friend, Jacob, who was there to greet him as he passed from this life into the next. I am sure Jesus is getting a good laugh. I can't wait to see them someday and tell them both what they meant to my life. Then they will be cracking me up. Wow, laughter through tears. As I said in Part 1.. laughter heals. Tears cleanse the wound and then laughter heals it. I hope all of you can stop and remember Josh with maybe a tear... and then a smile. It is even ok if that smile turns into laughter!! Rest In Peace Josh Darden! You will never be forgotten!!!

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: ......A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

Thursday, September 9, 2010

In the Beginning...

I am beginning this blog because a friend suggested I write what was on my mind so that I could clear my mind.  I hope that I am able to do that, however, my mind has so many swirling, whirling thoughts that I just don't know it will work.  It never hurts to write how you feel, so even if no one ever reads this blog, it will help me to get things out and maybe will help me sleep a little better at night.  I may write just about anything, so do not come here prepared for one certain topic.  I may end up all over the map.  If you venture here, I hope you enjoy or at least get a laugh.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Losing touch...

We live in a time of Facebook and MySpace so many of us don't even understand the concept of "losing touch" anymore. I was reminded today that it is still possible to face the repercussions of losing touch with people.

High school, well, let's just say it was a difficult time for most of us. As I told an old friend today, it is not really like High School Musical, now is it? In real life, well, it is much more “real.” I was a transplant student my 9th grade year and had not been in school my whole life with these people as most in my class had. I was an awkward teenager, well most folks are, but I felt like a foreigner in a new country. As we all do; I made mistakes, made friends, made enemies, said things I should have, said things I shouldn’t have, and acted like an idiot at times... but then there were the times of laughter, fun, and the moments that made high school bearable. There are people who stick out in my mind as the ones who made me miserable (though as I get older these people seem so miniscule), but there are the ones who made a difference in my life, even if neither of us realized it at the moment. Even if it was just a smile in the hallway, making me laugh when I felt like crying, singing acapella in class (over and over because I begged and pleaded), standing by my side in a good debate in English class, calling me your little sister (and we are not even remotely blood related), consoling me when my boyfriend was a jerk (which was most of the time), piling 20 people in your VW bug and making it 21 just because I was in need of a ride home, listening to the same song over and over for weeks on cassette single going to school each morning, or just hanging out in the break area during lunch (or the freezing cold in the mornings beside the Science building). People can touch our hearts with the slightest of kindness or they can further enlarge a wound in our hearts with cruelty. I am sure I was at times on each end of both of these. I wish I had known then what I know now... isn't that the old saying?

We have lost several classmates over the years. Some I did not really know, others I knew well. Seeing old friends at a funeral home you say, "We should stay in touch." But then life gets back on track and time slips away. These days with Facebook, we know more about where our friends live, what their kids are doing, who makes them mad each day, and even when all of their birthdays are (I never knew this in high school LOL). But, in truth… is this "keeping in touch?” I, for one, enjoy reaching out to old friends. Getting together to laugh and giggle over the old days and look at yearbooks (which induces more giggles and laughter). I did this not too long ago with a small group who I was particularly close to in high school. It was so much fun and probably the most relaxing thing I have done in a while. It helped relieve stresses and worries that adult life inevitably burdens us with. It was better than any day at the spa. Laughter is such a great healer, and folks you cannot get that from Facebook, I assure you. Being someone who did not grow up with my classmates, and who dated someone outside of my school, I never felt like I fit in anywhere in particular in high school. I had many great friends at school, do not get me wrong. But for the most part they were like me, just happy to have a laugh and good conversation with whoever was close by and willing to talk. They didn’t care if someone had money, a nice car, expensive clothes, or what clique they belonged to or didn’t belong to. I look back and I am proud to say I had a diverse collection of friends. I have those friends who have remained a constant in my life. Oh of course, we had times where we lost touch but we have always been able to find each other again. A good friend is someone you can pick up a conversation with, right where you left off 10 hours, days, weeks, months, or even years ago.

Now, you are probably asking… is she ever going to get to the point? Well, I am. I found out today that a classmate from high school is very, very sick. I have not seen Josh since high school. But I will tell you… he was one of the good guys. You are thinking, people always say that about someone who is sick or who is gone, right? Well, with Josh, it is true. We never hung out outside of school, but he always made me smile and laugh when he was around. One example in particular… my senior year there was a girl who made me completely miserable. I always came to Art class complaining and fussing about this girl. He would crack a joke and make me laugh until I completely forgot what I was mad about. This situation became a running joke between us, and to this day he would probably ask me if I am still mad at the girl with the huge, gigantic, planet sized nose. I will tell you truthfully, Art Class was the highlight of my meager existence at Dothan High School (well, that and the awesome group I ate lunch with in the break area every day). It was what got me through each day. One, because I love drawing and painting and only feel complete and whole when I do it… but mostly, the people I sat with that year were the best! They all overlooked my flair for the drama (ok, so I never outgrew THAT) and they never made me feel insecure about being me. I guess that is just what us artsy, right-brained folks are like when we get together. But after graduation, time and distance got between us all. As it is sometimes, we forget those who have touched our lives in a positive way until it is too late. Sadly, it seems to take something like this to trigger the memory of those moments we should be so thankful for. I am ashamed that I have never thanked Josh, or many of the other people who helped me survive high school in one way or another. There are many, most of you know who you are by the few examples I shared above. I hope and pray I get the chance to thank you all before it takes something like this to trigger it. I hope that somehow I did something to make someone’s life better, if even just for a moment, as you all did for me, as Josh did for many. I don’t deserve it, because I have not seen Josh in so long, but I plan to go by to see him in the hospital to show my respect and to tell him thanks, especially for for helping me learn to laugh through my anger (even with the girl with the huge, gigantic, planet sized nose.) :)

"Everyone leaves footprints in your memory, but the ones that leave footprints in your heart are the ones you will truly remember." -Nicholas Sperling