Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Order Of The Big Metal Chicken

There are twists in life that come together like a pot holder made by a kindergartner, messy but beautiful at the same time. This is one of those twists. Hang with me as I relate a string of details to bring you to one of the most hilarious mornings I have ever experienced.

I am friends with two sisters, M & A. We started out as acquaintances, but through the joy of facebook, we have grown to really appreciate and love each other. A couple posts ago, I wrote about my lovely mother (here). After posting the blog on my facebook page, M & A read it, M called A in tears saying that she wished they had a mom like that and A agreed. A really fun string between us started on facebook and the three of us decided that my mom would adopt them, unbeknownst to her. A few days later we attended a Christmas program that our children were in and M asked if "Mom" would be coming. That was the beginning of a very funny evening as I introduced my mom to her new daughters. Mom jumped in just like a trooper and had hugs and giggles for her new girls. We decided to get all the families together for Christmas this coming week and I can't wait for a house full of fun.
Here we are at the concert: T, M, Mom, Me & A

So back to this morning. M had posted on her facebook page a couple weeks ago a blog that sent me into peels of laughter. This woman has a tremendous sense of humor and I felt like I was right there with her. Check it out here, mind the language a bit. Please read it, or the rest of this post won't make a bit of sense.

Things have been a little upside down in my life lately and as I was pulling out of my garage this morning to do some necessary shopping I was greeted by this on my front porch.

I staggered from the van and was laughing so hard the kids could here me inside the house. I'm sure the neighbors thought I was crazy, but who cares when such AWESOMENESS is before you. My sweet sister M took to heart the line from the blog "And when our friends are sad we can leave him at their front door to cheer them up." I have continued to laugh about it all day today.

I am instituting "The Order Of The Big Metal Chicken" and he must circulate between my new sisters, my mom & I. And we will name him at our Christmas party, something ingenious I'm sure.

NOTE: He has been named Felix. Brilliant :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Living in Survival Mode

This is probably going to be a heavy post, so if you're not in the mood you may want to check back another time. I just need to type.

Something awful happened to me as a young person. It stripped away my sense of security. Nothing was safe. Home wasn't safe, school wasn't safe, family wasn't safe, friends weren't safe. And I have come to realize that from that point forward I have been living in a survival mode of some sort. Day to day not knowing what my existence will be, what is around the corner, the constant phrase before me of, "I don't know". To live in a continual state of uncertainty has probably not been the most healthy thing for me. When you live in survival mode, there is a constant need to store or fill. Fill your time, fill your cupboards, fill your face, fill your hands, fill your addiction, fill whatever void is there when your sense of security is threatened in any way. 

There are some really big uncertainties in my life right now. I don't feel like I have any security at all. I feel like I want to stuff everything. Stuff my feelings, stuff my voice, stuff my creativity, stuff my responsibilities. It would be so easy to do that. Throw up that really big wall that helped me cope through those terrible years. I was able to do that back then. No one depended on me. As long as I showed up at school, got good grades, did my homework and kept up with my chores, no one knew that I was a shell.

But being a shell, if even for a time, is hugely inconvenient when you are an employee, wife and mother. You have to be on top of it, you have to make those quick decisions, you have to come up with solutions, you have to be available at a moments notice. And forget about throwing up a wall, there's not time for that. You throw up a wall or shut down and it effects everyone. It effects your work, your marriage and your kids. 

But I realize that this survival mode is self inflicted. No one told me to live this way. It's just further proof that if you don't deal with your junk when it happens, it will creep back up at the most inconvenient times and beg to be processed. And if you're going through something that needs to be survived, chances are you don't have the time or energy to give to going through that process. Yep, it's a vicious cycle.

And survival mode also throws you into irrational thought. If I don't do everything, then I will lose everything. If I don't do every part of my job plus whatever else comes my way, I will lose my job. I need my job. It's security. If I don't do everything to keep my home perfect and be everything to my husband that he needs plus whatever else comes my way, I will lose my husband. I need my husband. He is security. If I am not everything to my kids every moment they are awake, I could damage my kids. I love my kids. I give them security. See... irrational thoughts.

Isn't survival mode what the Israelite nation tried to do when they started wandering in the desert for 40 years? But God took care of them. He gave them manna to eat. And he even told them that if they collected more than they needed for just that day that it would go bad. So they only gathered what they needed and trusted that God would provide what he promised the next day. I would say that after a few days of God following through on that promise that they didn't doubt he would provide. I bet they even went about their day to day business not thinking about what they would need because God kept his promise.

So, here I am, talking about how God provided for them. Do I believe the story? Yes I do. Am I supposed to believe that this story applies to my life as well? Yes. So now I need to do the work of not allowing myself to live in survival mode anymore. That's an almost 30 year habit to break. And if I'm not living in survival mode, what mode am I living in? The whole thing just makes me tired. Which is another part of survival mode.

Ugh, that was ugly. I guess I have work to do on this because there is no "Spunky" in survival mode.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm Too Old

Have you heard this before, "I'm too old to care about being polite"? Or something along those lines.

What is that really? Too old? So what you're telling me is that you never were polite on the inside, but you were young enough to know better at one point and were only behaving yourself? I find myself being acquainted with a certain person who is aging. I had a deep respect for their business mind, character, and integrity. I would talk with them at length about such dealings and would listen intently. But true to my form, I am an observer of people and life in general. I watch an awful lot. And I have seen a steady decline in the moral fiber of this person of business I once admired.

It seems as if they have reached a point in their life where they would say, "I'm too old to do the right thing or treat people well." So the question I'm asking is this, was it all a farce? Do we spend our lives covering up who we really are inside to only have our true selves revealed in our senior years when we are just too old to care what others think?

Will I be one of those that when they are too old to care about being proper and upright, will be unkind to a care giver because I feel entitled to a certain level of care? Will the internal flaws I deal with now surface in the years when I want people to look at me and say "She's a wise, sweet old lady and I like her spunk." Or will they walk away shaking their head thinking they never knew the real me, call me a hypocrite, see my true colors and wonder why they wasted the time.

Maybe that's why I am so adamant about being authentic, real and a teller of truth. Sharing my struggles (to a degree) with others. I figure if I struggle with something, then maybe someone else may too and my sharing could help them. I'm kind of at a loss in all this. It's come as a blow really.

Maybe when we try to show outwardly who we want to be in our own strength and power we can only keep that up for so long and then the steam runs out. Maybe it's when we surrender those struggles to God with the idea that He's the only one that can work on us to making lasting change that is real instead of change made in our humanity. Or if you allow the work to happen at a younger age, then it just becomes a part of who you are, part of your DNA.

I don't want to ever reach a point in my life where treating people well is something I don't care about. Where having integrity is a chore. I want that to be woven so deeply within me that this won't be something I will have to question. It will just be.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Mom

Picture taken of my mom & my daughter on a "Girls Road Trip" to PA.

It's not Mother's Day, it's not her birthday, but today she made me smile. So I thought I would take a few moments and jot down some of the things I like about my mom.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Nothing But A Suit

I went shopping today. I don't usually shop because I'm the kind of person that, for the most part, only buys what we need. But today I had a purpose... go to Border's. This "theme-park-multi-level-homogenize-the-world-mochaccino-land" has been a dwelling for our family. I have sipped coffee, took my children to story time, thumbed through beautiful cookbooks, purchased Jane Austen novels, bought my daughter her beloved copy of Little Women for Christmas, listened to a budding local singer/song writer, Russell Aldridge, and purchased my carefully selected kitchen calendar each year. Being inside has always made me hold my head higher and walk with my shoulders pulled back upon entering their doors. I felt more informed just being there, like I had entered this society I had always longed to be a part of.

But they are closing their doors. After numerous attempts at bailouts and such, no buyers were interested. The digital age, I'm afraid, has forever dented the need for bookstores. When I walked up today, there were no outside shelves holding discounted books with brightly colored photos on them to greet me, just concrete, brick & glass. When I opened the doors there were signs hanging from every possible space touting "Everything Must Go" in abrasive colors. I looked to my right and the coffee shop and seating area had been replaced with stacked chairs, empty shelves that were "Sold" and the racks that once held magazines were being stocked with the 2012 calendars they had previously ordered and are now 50% off... right out of the box. The Bargain Books section right off of that truly holds books at a bargain now. The journal/stationary/specialty gift/pen section was displayed as best they could and was heavily picked over. The DVD area was sparse to say the least and the discounts there were not deep enough to tempt me. 

And all the while I am wandering around the store, I can't help thinking of the movie "You've Got Mail" with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Tom Hanks opened a mega-book-mart just down the way from Meg Ryan's family owned bookstore and eventually sends her out of business. There is a scene that takes about 45 seconds, but encompassed how I felt for the employees that were left at Border's today as I pillaged through the remains of what was once a comfortable home away from home. 

I wanted to tell them how sorry I was that this place could possibly be a Baby Gap. I wanted them to know that I will miss our random Friday or Saturday nights when we would wander the aisles and phone each other to come look at a new treasure we had found. I'm sure the staff that is left has dealt with the news in their own way. But for my family, it wasn't just a store.

My purchases today:
Persuasion, Jane Austen
The Tenant or Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
The Essential Oils Book: Creating Personal Blends for Mind & Body, Colleen K Dodt
Eat Fat Lose Fat, Dr. Mary Enig & Sally Fallon
Wild Fermentation, Sandor Ellix Katz
More Fast Food My Way, Jacques Pepin

Even now as I type, my children are pawing through the pile of books at my feet. Flipping through the pages of Dickens and Bronte. Giving brief quotes on how to ferment our own cheese from raw milk, and commenting about gently scrambled eggs with coconut oil, rosemary sprigs and finished with goat cheese. 

We are going to miss our store.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Air Smooches

When this photo was taken my son, C was 12. I remember trying to freeze this moment in my memory. He chose the spot and how we would stand. I loved that moment. He's almost 13 now and I could fill a book with all the wonderful qualities this budding young man possesses. You can see it on his face. Strong, confident, secure, loving. What you see is what you get. He wears his emotions and thoughts out there in the open. And at this point in time he's still not tainted enough by the world that he hides who he is. I hope he never loses that.

He still comes to me for hugs every morning. He'll even reach over and put his hand on my shoulder when we're driving somewhere. He comes up behind me when I'm cooking and wraps those long arms around my waist for a quick squeeze. When I'm keeping score for his baseball team, he'll walk over to the fence, lace his fingers through the chain link on top of mine and ask me the score or what inning we're in. Even walking through parking lots, he'll sidle up beside me and grab my hand. He definitely shows his love openly.

This morning when I was dropping him off at school he saw one of his buddies. "Look mom, there's Mikah!", he said excitedly. As I came to a stop he whipped out of the van, flung his back pack on, slammed the door and jogged away toward his friend. When I was about to pull away I heard him yell, "MOM!" I looked back just as he sent me an air smooch "... LOVE YOU!"

Awww C... I love you too buddy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Differences of Opinion

I went to bed last night right after the kids went down. Migraines are such an inconvenience. As I pulled up my browser this morning to check the weather I was unexpectedly greeted by a barrage of facebook messages that stated Osama Bin Laden was dead. This was news in itself, but what I noticed most was the variance in the responses of my friends. This is nothing more than a copy and paste session so that I don't forget the internal conflict of the day.

  • Osama Bid Laden is dead.
  • It only took 10 years, but Osama Bin Laden is finally dead!
  • Well it took long enough.
  • CNN Fox News MSNBC and all the networks are covering Bin Laden, but Headline News is going w/ Joy Behar's Royal Wedding coverage. Priorities.
  • Ole G.W.B was right...we will find O.S.B., dead or alive!! And Pres. Obama is going to try to take credit but we all know that if he had his way then as he stated during his election campaign, "This is all for nothing, bring our boys home" we wouldn't of had this outcome.
  • Osama Bin Laden was killed in a Mansion in Pakistan one week ago!
  • Can we add whoever killed osama to the list of real life MARVEL heroes? yes please!
  • In all of this we need to be aware that Al Qaeda will desire to prove that they are still to be feared.
  • Obama: "Thanks to the tireless efforts of our military!" but I still want to freeze your pay and housing allowance for the next three years.
  • All I am hearing is... "ME ME ME... vote for me in 2012....ME ME ME... oh yeah, thanks troops...ME ME ME"
  • Thank you, General Petraeus and the U.S. military!!
  • Ok so Bin Laden is dead, but who got fired off Apprentice? LOL
  • Actualy, i take back my last post!! Osama.. you met our boys personsly! Hahaha HOOAH!
  • Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel? Ezek 33:11
  • ‎"Trying to keep in mind that how I respond to the death of my enemies says as much about me as it does about my enemies."
  • Curious to what the world reaction is to this, would love to see the reaction in London, Paris, Sydney etc.
  • Celebrations being shown disturbingly reminiscent of demonstrations from Middle East w/burning effigies you know the ones we call disgusting.
  • Finding some of the response embarrassing, some of the college students being interviewed don't grasp the reality of this excuse to party.
  • Americans can forever remember today ,May Second, Two Thousand and Eleven, as the day that our soldiers finally captured the terrorist Osama Bin Laden!!!! For everyone that said we should've pulled out of these wars, please go to H***. At least I said please. This is the biggest day of victory that most of us have ever seen.
  • I just want to send a out a Big Thank You to all of our troops who fight to keep us safe! Also to all of their family members who deal with the daily worries of their loved ones. God Bless America!
  • Really hope he rots in h***!!!!!!!!
  • Just ... relief.
  • As a professional who's worked with children for over 11 years, please be careful today with what your children hear you say or catch on 11 year.old already asked me who Osama Bin Laden was, and why people were celebrating his murder...I for one am proud of our troops, but think we need to be careful how our children, especially our young children, will interperate today.
  • I hate when the President interrupts my shows, and it is sad when people die, but last night I welcomed the news from the President that the wicked, evil Osama Bin Laden is dead! Thank you US troops for never giving up! God Bless America!
  • Now I lay me down to sleep, one less terrorist this world does keep, with all my heart I give my thanks, to those in uniform regardless of ranks, you serve our country and serve it well, with humble hearts your stories tell,so as I rest my weary eyes, while freedom rings our flag still give your all, do what you must...with God we live and God we trust. THANK YOU ALL WHO SERVE IN OUR WONDERFUL MILITARY !
  • ding dong the "witch" is dead!! We have the brains, the heart, the courage...USA
  • When people ask, "if there is a God, how could He let so many horrible things happen in the world?", I'm still trying to understand how it is that He could love me so much despite all of the mistakes I've made and all of my imperfections (and they are many! lol). Thankful for a God who loves fiercely, unconditionally, and with no holds barred.
  • American Pride overfloweth! Thank you President G.W. Bush and President Obama for staying the course! America is safer today than it was yesterday. Extend a hand of gratitude to a soldier and thank them for their unending sacrifice and to the families whose sons & daughters who have paid the ultimate price for OUR freedom. God Bless the U.S.A.
  • Hip up to date... we killed osama I am cool...
  • While I am proud and thankful for our armed forces, I can not bring myself to rejoice in the death of someone who God created and loves passionately. Even though his sins were terrible and great, mine are equal.
  • Osama Bin Ladins's death may change some things, but only one mans death truly changed everything: Jesus Christ.
  • While we savor the bittersweet taste of this victory, let us remember those three thousand souls that were lost on September 11, 2001 and the thousands of service members who, since then, have sacrificed life and limb for the sake of protecting our citizens and our freedom.
  • "In the face of a man’s death, a Christian never rejoices, but reflects on the serious responsibilities of each person before God and before men, and hopes and works so that every event may be the occasion for the further growth of peace and not of hatred." - Vatican Statement on the Death of Bin Laden
  • Our bombs are smarter than the average high school student. At least they can find Kuwait.

Despite all this, I have to admit one of the most humorous posts appeared just one hour prior to the presidential address. A friend on facebook posted the link to Jeff Dunham's, Achmed the Dead Terrorist. Language aside, I love this mans comedy and thought it highly ironic as I scrolled backward through last nights post. "I Kill You" :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This One's For The Ladies

I have made an observation.

Did you know that they have very specific people that "stage" stores? Grocery Stores, Convenience Stores, Drug Stores, Mega Marts, etc. Stagers are employees specifically hired because they know a lot about marketing. Each store is carefully mapped out according to shopping strategies and is made to lure you from one aisle to the next. They also love to target impulse buyers. End caps are a specialty. They laugh their little fannies off when they walk in their stores and see the end caps have been picked over. It's a job well done.

But I am convinced within myself that the majority of stagers are of the male persuasion. One reason alone has brought me to this scientific conclusion. Feminine Hygiene Products. When shopping for feminine hygiene products there is little allure. It's a get in, get what you need and get out mentality.

If you were to ask a women to design her perfect aisle at that time of the month, the hygiene items would be in the center of the aisle, the concoctions to ease pain, discomfort and irritability would be to the left and to the right she would be greeted by an entire section filled with Twix Bars, Chocolate Covered Pretzels, and Dark Chocolate M&M's. That's right. Our necessary products would be flanked by meds on one side and candy on the other. And to make us feel even better, they could have fresh flowers, like daisies or lavender in lovely vases.

And the bonus... when you walked up to pay for your necessities at the counter, the clerk would see the items that had been carefully picked from the aisle made just for you, look at you sympathetically, tilt her head and say "Would you like a cappuccino on us? Here's your complimentary Starbuck's gift card Miss, you deserve it."

Just as a side note:
Did you know that back in biblical times they had what was called the red tent? Believe it. It was a tent designated to women on their cycle. They entered the tent because they were considered unclean and needed to be away from other people. This is BRILLIANT! They sat on piles of hay and drank wine all while being attended to by older women who were past this stage of life. Can you imagine? An entire week where you sat around without husband, children or duties. You could chat with your girls about anything and everything, take naps, have a cocktail. This is something we should seriously look at bringing back into fashion. Who's with me? :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


I recently took a 3 day trip to Las Vegas. I had been there before with my husband, but this time I went with my bff. It's great to just get away with your best friend no matter where you go, but the electric energy of Vegas kept us going and we had a really great time together. Below are just some random thoughts from different points in my trip.

  • People on planes who take up their seat plus 2/3 of yours should be required to pay for 2 seats or my massage the following day to unlock my "S" shaped spine from sitting like a contortionist for an hour and a half.
  • Four hours strapped in a seat requires more than an all natural stress reliever. Sedate Me!!
  • Flying by myself makes me feel like singing Elton John's Rocket Man.
  • You don't need to be in an accident to get whiplash. Just watch the people around you sleeping on the plane.
  • Flight attendants asking me if I want cookies or pretzels with my water makes me feel like I'm back in pre-school. And that makes me smile.
  • Breathing Basil Oil* on a plane is frowned upon by some. "Sir, I promise you, this is not an illegal substance."
  • When staying in Vegas, a 24-hour bus pass is worth its weight in gold.
  • When shopping on vacation, be sure to ask the people who know you best if you are making a heinous mistake when purchasing a hat. By the way... I'm still loving mine :)
  • $900 for a scarf is unacceptable.
  • I must have an accent. People kept asking me if I was Canadian.
  • "Bring me something fun" is a great way to order a drink. By the time dinner was served, there were 8 more "something funs" peppered down the length of the table and I was deemed brilliant. Brilliant but sober, I didn't even make a dent in it.
  • There's always one of these in each group- the obnoxious person who drinks excessively and becomes monumentally obnoxious. Then there's the one who drinks too much and throws up down the front of her dress while waiting for the show to start but is too drunk to realize she should leave so the rest of us don't have to smell her nastiness. Sorry... was that last one too specific.
  • People in Vegas don't stare at my hair. There's more entertaining things to look at.
  • Sitting, drinking coffee, and watching life is a delectable way to spend a morning.
  • I saw an elderly woman with spunky hair, a great top and black leather pants sitting in the same open air cafe as me. When she stood up to throw away her trash, she had white velcro athletic shoes, oxygen tubes and a walker. This is a possible glimpse of me in 40 years- minus the oxygen :)
  • Sitting at a vanity to apply make-up makes me feel pampered.
  • A lighted, magnifying  facial mirror should not be made available to people over the age of 35. BAD!
  • P.F. Chang's Kung Pao Shrimp is still a good idea at 3:00am.
  • Making people in the service industry smile is an art form best left to those people who have charm, not those who are naturally offensive.
  • I love that human creation can bring me to tears by the sheer beauty.
  • BFF's don't require a lot to have the time of their lives.
  • I appreciate more fully the relationship that has grown over the years between my husband and I. Love, respect, understanding, honesty & transparency.
It was a wonderful trip with amazing sites and awesome times of interaction. I made new friends and reconnected with old ones. I missed my husband and my kids and was greeted with hugs, kisses and flowers. I'm still catching up on sleep and getting back in the swing of things a little more slowly than I anticipated. I guess that's what it's all about in Vegas... go till your legs fall off and you can't keep your eyes open. You can always sleep at home. I am presently signing off to take a delicious nap :)

*Basil Oil- Basil essential oil is a natural antibacterial. Take a folded tissue and tap out some of the oil on the tissue. Put it in a snack size zip top plastic storage bag. When you are on the plane, pull it out and inhale deeply through your nose, hold the breath as long as you can and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Do this as often as you like. The essence of the oil will cleanse your nasal passages and the air in your lungs. This is also a good idea to do each time you return to your hotel room from being in large crowds. This practice has kept me from getting sick on any trip that has required plane travel where you are forced to breathe recycled air.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Punch Bug

Have you ever played the game Punch Bug? It can also be called Slug Bug. The basic premise is that while you are riding in the car, you look for Volkswagen Bug cars. When you see one, you punch the person next to you and yell out PUNCH BUG and the color of the car. This is great fun and keeps the kids interacting with you on long trips. As a child, I believe it was the goal of my brother and I to see who could hit each other harder without crying. It kind of defeated the fun of the game as we came out bruised and beaten, but it was still a novelty from time to time.

The game has morphed a little in our home to encompass all Volkswagen cars so there is a better chance of seeing more and we have dropped the Punch Bug and just say "blue one" or "yellow one". Through playing this game we have realized that our son needs glasses :( But I digress...

Recently we had driven from our home in Ohio to pick up our children at the Pittsburgh International Airport. They were lucky enough to spend spring break with their grandparents in Florida for a week. Don't get me wrong... we were lucky too :) The time away did all of us good. What a wonderful reunion when we saw them coming off the plane. After hugs, kisses and baggage claim, we headed off to a favorite diner about 20 minutes from the airport for raspberry french toast and then back to Ohio.

As we waited at a stoplight, the two of them were in the backseat chatting happily about their adventures in Florida, when my daughter starts wailing on our son "blue one, red one, tan one" Wham! Wham! Wham! What in the world! My husband and I are feverishly looking for all these Volkswagen's... "green one, black one, yellow one" Wham! Wham! Wham! My son is just stunned, sitting there with his jaw dropped open. None of us know what hit us until she points across the street and I figure it out. It was a Volkswagen dealership. We laughed so hard my husband almost had to pull the car over. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Restored Beauty

So I was re-reading tonight some bits of the bible that I had touched on a few days ago. For those of you who read the bible, you will understand the idea that you can read a passage and have it mean something to you that time and then read that same passage another time and it can speak to you in a completely different way. 

And that is where I am finding myself. 

This certain section of Isaiah meant nothing out of the ordinary to me 36 hours ago, but today, after the internal struggles I've been through, this passage is larger than life.
"O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted,
I will build you with stones of turquoise,
your foundations with sapphires.
I will make your battlements of rubies,
your gates of sparkling jewels,
and all your walls of precious stones."
-Isaiah 54:11-12
What could this possibly do for me?  How could this archaic ramble be relevant in my day to day?

I have had some storms. Some big storms. Where I didn't feel comforted in the slightest. I felt completely alone. I felt I had no one to turn to. And when I did reach out for help, I was dismissed, pushed aside, not valued. I was afflicted. I was distressed with mental pain and greatly troubled. Damage was done. Deep.

But this... this tells me that He will rebuild ALL that was destroyed and make it beautiful. He will rebuild my self-esteem and make me feel majestic. He will fix the cracks in my heart and my love will be exquisite. Those harsh words I speak to myself because they were spoken to me, He will replace them with words that are loving and divine. The body that I have been given and wreaked havoc on, not respected, not loved, pushed aside... somehow, He will make it beautiful and precious.

And maybe God has already done some of these things in me. I believe He has started the work of rebuilding some of what was destroyed. I can see where he is bringing beauty from the ashes. But I think the bigger step for me is to stop looking at myself through the scars and start looking at myself through His eyes. Because He loves me. He sees me through the eyes of Jesus who IS love. I want to see what God sees. And maybe if I see what God sees, then maybe... just maybe, I will value the creation he calls Reena.

Maybe I will care about what I put in my body the same way I care about what my kids eat. Maybe I will care that I am active enough so that my body is working in a healthy way, the same way I care for my kids activity levels. Maybe I will speak encouraging words to my heart.

I want to see what God sees. Yeah, that's what I want. Because when He looks at me, he shakes his head, smiles and says "Man, I love that extraordinary woman." That's what I want to see.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On The Watch...

I'm feeling the need to share a few things that God has been impressing on my heart.

I enjoy movies. Not to the point where I have to see them as soon as they come out, but I like things that take me out of my life and submerge me in another place. A place where I can feel what the characters are feeling, see what they are seeing, experience their emotions. And then there are those movies that have legendary quotes that will stick out and be repeated over and over in years to come.
"I'm your Huckleberry" - Tombstone

"Feeling lucky, Punk" - Dirty Harry

"I feel the need, the need for speed" - Top Gun

"You've got mail" - You've Got Mail

"Tomorrow is another day" - Gone With The Wind
One of my favorite movies is Little Women, if you are a guy stick with me. For me, this movie has many quotes that apply to my life today. But two quotes seem to keep rolling about in my head lately.The main character, Jo, is a young woman who is unsettled in the stage of life she is in. During a discussion with one of her sisters she's trying to figure out where she fits into the scheme of things within her family, her circle of friends, her community, and she says,
“I want to do something different. I don't know what it is yet, but I’m on the watch for it.” 
And at another point in the movie she is having a discussion with her mother regarding what she should do because she again feels unsettled.
"I love our home but I'm so fitful and I can't stand being here. I'm sorry, I want to change, but I can't and I feel like I'll never fit in anywhere." To which her mother responds “You have so many extraordinary gifts, how can you expect to lead an ordinary life.”  
She’s not at peace with herself, she feels like she is on the cusp of something big but she doesn't know what yet.

I feel so deeply within myself that this is where we are as a church. We are on the cusp of something big and we love our home and we feel unsettled at the same time and we want to move forward but at times we feel stalled. But while we are in God’s holding pattern, we should be “on the watch”  for anything and everything God shows us. I think we should show up on Sunday mornings and start each service saying “We don’t know what’s going to happen today, but we are going to open this place up to any miracles God wants to perform no matter how unsettled or fitful that makes us. We are going to move forward today with the expectation that the ordinary is not going to happen. We are giving God full permission to show us the extraordinary!”

Through a course I have taken on Spiritualities (a.k.a. Spiritual Gifts) the past couple months, I have learned that there’s more to me than what I do in the everyday. And if God took the time to give me these Spiritualities and mirrors of himself in me… how can I expect to lead an ordinary life. We were made for more than just the mundane. We were made to be extraordinary people. I can’t stand the idea of looking at myself and thinking… is this as good as it gets? Is this all I was brought in this world to do?

I am in that fitful spot, where I am unsettled and teetering on the cusp of something big, but I don't know what it all looks like yet. I have been given so many extraordinary gifts, to waste them on a life lived in an ordinary way would be such a disappointment. And so I am on the watch for God and looking to see how he might use me in ways that aren't ordinary. I will look for those extraordinary things during the day to day, be they little or big, and celebrate each one. 

I hope that this has encouraged you, or caused you to think or maybe see the church through a different lens.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tree of Irritation

Pretend there's a tree in my front yard.

This tree has been here since before I owned the house. In fact, when I moved in, the previous owner told me that the tree had been there since he bought the house and that was a full 40 years. This tree has been around a good while. But there's a problem. It doesn't grow. It never gets any taller or thicker. It does not leaf out in the spring, it does not exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen and it does not produce any kind of fruit. It doesn't perform any of the tasks a tree is supposed to perform. And yet... it remains in my yard, highly visible for all to see.

Each day I leave my house, I see this tree that does not live up to its potential and I find myself starting the day irritated. There must be something this tree needs so that it can grow, thrive, flourish. I need this tree to see in itself what its possibilities are. So I decide to make a concerted effort to talk to the tree, invest time in it by pulling weeds, making sure the soil is just right, giving it living rain water instead of chemically treated water, researching exactly the right kind of food it needs to really take off. I have set aside my irritation with the idea that if I work with this tree, it will begin to function as a working part of my yard. I will give it the love and time it needs so that it will see that I value it and that it can be a part of a really great yard that others will want to visit and maybe grow in the same way.

Everything is lined up. I have crossed every "T" and dotted every "I" so this tree has the best chance of not only growing, leafing out, exchanging gases and producing fruit, but becoming beautiful as well. But as I spend time with the tree, giving it everything it needs I notice that it's still not growing, still not changing. It is still irritating me that the conditions are optimal for growth and it's not happening.

You see, the tree has existed all these years in the same state. It grew to a certain point and then stopped. It was content with being small. It had no reason to get bigger. It had no desire to entertain the new idea of leafing and producing fruit. It had no desire to learn how to take a gas that can suffocate and turn it into life giving air for those around it. In fact, the tree took more time and energy than it ever gave back.

There comes a time in life when it can become necessary to yank out this life-sucking, time-sucking, non-fruit-producing, irritating tree. Give it the freedom to find another yard to be stagnant and toxic in. My energy is better spent with the trees and plants that want to grow, that are open to new ways of growing and readily entertain the idea that how they've always been shown to grow may have worked in the past, but time brings new intelligence, new understanding and if my plants are open to me helping them, they have the ability to reach their full potential along with all the other plants.

I need to do some time investing and pruning and plucking and nourishing and talking and loving. I need to make sure that the things in my life, regardless of how long they've been there, are the things that will help me reach my full potential and hopefully I'll bring others who are willing along with me.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Journey From Hate to Health - Part 2

Drugs & Perspective

The only night I can remember spent in that much pain was the day I heard my dad had died. That kind of emotional pain can at times feel physical. But at least there is an ebb and flow, good memories are mixed in with the despair. And with childbirth, there is an ebb and flow as well, there is rest between contractions, and the knowing that it won't hurt forever gave me the wherewithal to plow through. But there was no respite this night.

I was up early out of bed, showered and ready to make an appointment with my general practitioner. I needed something to make the pain go away. Just give me drugs. Make it stop hurting. When they heard I had been in an accident, they agreed to see me right away. After a brief discussion of what happened, he wrote me a script and I was on my way to being pain free. I may have even cracked a smile feeling the anticipation of being normal again. Only, I didn't feel normal. The drugs didn't really take away the pain, they just made me stupid. I was numb all over. The pain was there, but I didn't care. That was about the extent of it... the meds took away my ability to care... Oh yeah, and to speak in complete sentences. My staff... the people I managed at work, laughed at me for two days straight before they said enough was enough. Not only should I not be working, but I shouldn't be driving while taking the drugs either. I went home early that night and went straight to bed.

The following morning I attended a weekly bible study where we broke up into small groups and shared our answers to questions that we had worked on the previous week. The group leader asked me to answer a question. I began with an apology and a chuckle that explained the events of the week and that my answers probably wouldn't make much sense due to my drug induced state. After our group time, one of the ladies came up to me and asked if I had ever considered chiropractic care. She felt that her husband would be able to help me and offered to make the appointment right then. Within minutes I had an appointment scheduled right after our study time. To be honest, the only things I had ever heard about chiropractors were they were quacks and that whatever they did, you had to keep coming back to have it done. It was a never ending cycle. You see that's how they make their money, or so I had been told.

I made my way to the office, handled paperwork, answered questions and waited. Not for long though, apparently I had an "in" and I was ushered to the back part of the office where they did a scan on my spine, x-rays and I answered more questions. I finally met the doctor and he asked me more questions. My GP never asked me any of this stuff. I had never met a doctor like this. He didn't speak. He thought. He contemplated. He mulled. He processed. After what seemed an amazing amount of silence, I was about ready to ask him if HE was alright when he finally spoke. As the appointment progressed, he started to educate me on why the medicine wasn't helping me improve. The medicine wasn't designed to fix what was wrong, it was designed to target the pain and make what hurt, seem like it didn't hurt. It was like taking a massive ibuprofen for a pulled muscle. The muscle is still injured, the ibuprofen just makes the brain think it doesn't hurt so you can keep doing what you want to do without much interference (in a nutshell & in my verbiage). The injury is still there, you just don't think about it as much. He had described my experience exactly. He also explained that if any part of your spine is not in perfect alignment, it  can block the nervous system from functioning properly and that can have adverse effects on any number of things depending on where you are out of alignment. That explained a lot of other weirdness I was experiencing besides the drug induced stupidity.

He conveyed his plan to me on how he was going to proceed with treatment. At that point, I didn't much care what he did as long as "pain free" was in my near future. I can't remember everything he did that day, but I did leave his office with a new perspective on how the body worked and that meds really weren't the answer for anything I was going through. I quit taking the medicine (I threw it away actually) and followed his orders on how to manage my pain. I remember laying in bed a few days later in just as much agony as I had the night of the accident. I picked up the phone to see if I could get an appointment before their office closed. But when they answered all I could get out was my name and I just started crying. They had told me not to worry about a thing. The doctor was getting ready to leave for the day and would stop by my house in a few minutes. WHAT?! I almost laughed. A house call in 2002. Did they still do that? You betcha.

This was the kind of care I was given on a consistent basis. But with him, it was never just about fixing what was wrong or out of alignment, he wanted me to understand and learn through this process. I just couldn't believe I had never questioned the whole "health care" thing before. What he was teaching me made so much sense and what I had been doing most of my adult life didn't. Take care of the root of the problem, don't just treat the symptoms. It's so simple. It is a shift in perspective. It is a whole different thought process that in American society does not come naturally. This is not second nature to our generation.

It took a while for me to heal. I did physical therapy to strengthen and build my muscles back up. When I was done with my appointments, I remember hugging my doctor. For those of you who know me well, I'm not a hugger. Not. But this was a time of celebration, and gratefulness. I left with a new hope and new purpose. I wanted to change the way I looked at our health. I wasn't going to blindly take what was given to me anymore. I was going to make the choices that were best for our family.

A friend of mine, Rob Hill, posted this the other day...
"Don't let unforgiveness keep you from the healing and restoration God has for you. Besides forgiving others and yourself, check to see if you need to remove any hurt, blame, anger or hardness of heart you feel towards God. If you are mad at God confess it to Him and release it."

I don't hate that young man anymore. In fact, I hope that he didn't have problems because of the accident. I'm not mad at God either for allowing me to get hurt. It is evident to me that God has a plan for my life. If I had never had that accident I believe I would have blindly moved forward and that our family would be among the masses of Americans that are on the road to poor health. My perspective would never have changed.

I still wake up each morning in pain. There are some days that my shoulder muscles never release. There are days I wake up and can tell that at some point in my day I will have a migraine because that one specific vertebrae is out of alignment again. And most times if I just keep moving, at some point the muscles may relax on their own and I'll have a good day. Other days, not so much. And so each morning I have to put myself into a state of gratefulness that I am where I am on this journey. It doesn't always feel good, but it sure is a whole lot better than where I was.

And so the next few blogs will be me sharing briefly what I have learned along the way these past eight years. I'll share why we do what we do as a family with the resources so you can search it out on your own if you're interested.

Please know this... this is a path we have chosen for our family. We don't always get it right. We don't expect what we choose as a family to be what is best for everyone. We don't judge others for making different choices and we don't offer our opinions or share what we've learned unless someone asks. If you are reading this, consider yourself asking :) This is what's best for us right now. And what's best for us right now may change in the future based on further education.

It's a journey and I welcome you to join me as I learn and grow in my understanding.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Journey From Hate to Health - Part 1

The Accident

It was 2002, I was a mother of a 4 year old and a 2 year old. I was a stay at home mom during the day and worked at a family business in the evenings. Life was good and easy. It worked for us. We were happy. 

A typical afternoon found me driving north on I-77 to work when I spotted flashing blue & red lights ahead on the right. Traffic was congested, but not horrible. I moved into the left lane figuring it was an accident or someone caught speeding. Traffic had slowed considerably as people looked to see what going on. In my mind I kept hearing my dad repeat over and over "assured clear distance". I had a good 30 yards between myself and the car in front of me when I passed the police car that was sitting on the side of the expressway all by itself. A quick glance told me that whatever had happened was over and he was merely finishing his report. Traffic came to a stop. I still had 30 yards between my van and the car in front of me, that is until the guy behind me plowed into me and pushed my stopped vehicle into the car in front of me.

I was thrown forward and then flew back with such force that it laid my seat back. The entire back of my van was crushed to the rear tires, the front was damaged to the point that my electrical system was disabled. Stunned, I unbuckled my seat belt, stumbled from my van into the median strip and sat down in the grass. The guy from in front of me came over to see if I was alright. His first question was "How in the world did you hit me? You were so far away!" The guy that obliterated my van came over and said "It was my fault, I was looking at the cop car and didn't know traffic had stopped. When I looked back it was to late to stop. My foot never hit the brake. I don't think I hit you that hard though, I was only going 25 mph."

The other driver and I looked at each other with a "yeah right" glance and then we noticed a very irritated Highway Patrolman walking toward us. There was no disputing what had happened. By this time the young man's dad had shown up... and he was an insurance salesman. Enough said. He proceeded to try and convince me that this was nothing compared to other accidents he had seen and that surely my vehicle was drivable. "He knocked out the electrical, it won't even start. Not to mention that my rear bumper is making my tire look like a balloon. Are you serious? You consider this drivable?"

The police officer stated that due to the fact there was so much room between myself and the car in front of me that I would not be cited for his damage. Everything fell on the young guy. I assured the officer that I did not need an ambulance, that I was shaken up and had a headache & very minor neck pain, but nothing that warranted a visit to the hospital. My husband showed up, the van was towed (later it was deemed "totaled") and I went home.

That evening when I went to bed I was moaning and rocking in pain. My neck hurt so bad. I am not a wimp. I delivered two children, both natural, with NO DRUGS! I have a very high pain tolerance. This pain was unbearable. 

As I laid in bed, I hated that kid. I hated him for not paying attention, I hated him for gawking, I hated him for lying about his speed, I hated him because he was the reason I was in so much pain, I hated him because I couldn't sleep, I hated him because I couldn't make the pain stop, I hated his dad for treating me the way he did, I hated the fact that daddy showed up to bail him out. It was obvious that he was the kind of kid that got rescued from his mistakes and daddy made it all go away. I bet he got a new SUV out of it, because unlike mine, his vehicle was not drivable. Stupid insurance salesman.

I was not in a good place and I had no intention of stopping my thought process. Somehow, he needed to feel as bad as I did to pay for what he had done. And if my thoughts could will it... well then, so be it. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

To be continued...