Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why Did This Have to Happen NOW?

"WHY did this have to happen NOW?" That was the question I was asking myself when I injured my back last Saturday. The timing couldn't have been more wrong (not like there is ever a good time or reason to injure your back). It was so stupid! All I was trying to do was get something out of the dishwasher and SNAP.....just like that. I was so dizzy and nauseous that I thought I was going to pass out. I broke out in a sweat as I struggled to straighten up the best I could and go sit down so I wouldn't FALL down. 

The pain was intense; unlike anything I ever felt before. I used ice and pain reliever and everything I could to try and help myself feel better. It just wasn't doing much. I know I didn't help matters any by continuing on with the plan to go to a charity event that I had committed to, but I did it anyways. I rested up on Sunday and finally got to a chiropractor on Monday. Now, it's Tuesday and I'm happily aligned but still rather sore. I still have much to do this week and am doing the best I can to push through it as I still think about that aggravating question in my mind of "why did this have to happen now?" 

I know I'm not the only one that asks that question. I also know that there are those that are asking it that have bigger problems than a hurt back. Those people would be the ones that I NEED the strong will and a strong back for; the women and babies who I WILL be walking and raising money for this Saturday. As of right now, I have raised $135.00 of my $500.00 minimum goal. I have less than three days to raise at least $365.00 more. The money raised will go to help women who are scared and wondering why a pregnancy had to happen to them now and are terrified about what to do next. Your gift of ANY AMOUNT (if all you have is a dollar, we'll take it!) will help provide pregnancy tests, limited obstetrical ultrasound, adoption information as well as parenting support, baby supplies, and so much more! Click here to visit my family's funding page (yep, my husband and children are walking with me too!) and make your donation! Or, contact me with how much you would like to pledge and you will be sent a collection form in the mail to send in your donation to Heartline Pregnancy Center.

If you haven't read the poem that I wrote a few years ago called "Hearing Their Hearts' Cry", take a moment to read it and prayerfully consider your donation amount. Also, you might remember the testimony of a friend of mine, Saundra, who had an abortion. It was a traumatic and regrettable experience for her. Read her short testimony below and let's help ensure that women get the help they need and won't have to go through this alone: 

Memories of a sunny fall day in early October, sitting in a crowded room of young mothers... How do you force a smile on your face and push down the knots forming in your stomach, knowing that very soon you will walk back out into sunlight with an empty womb, childless. It seemed easy enough for several of the young women, but for me personally I knew it was a death sentence I was carrying out.

As my name and several others were called, we shuffled into a room with a projector to watch 'the movie' that showed us the procedure we would be going through. I got so queasy, I had to leave the room, almost passing out in the hallway. Not once did a counselor say anything about options, and I desperately wanted someone, anyone to talk me out of what I was about to do. Undress, put the gown on, lay on the cold metal table... this will only take a few minutes...that was such a surreal feeling, just going through the motions and struggling to not lose it, not to cry. I remember looking into the nurses face while the extraction was going on, and wishing there was something she could have done to make it easier, but death is death, there is nothing easy about it. I wonder now how many babies she saw die before her heart began to harden to what she was seeing...

Afterwards you are sent to the bathroom to clean up, lay down for a while if you need to compose yourself, and then of course there are cookies and juice to help build up your strength from the loss of fluids. Some of the young women bounced around chatting, relieved and ready to get on with life, and others like myself lingered. I didn't want to walk out those doors, didn't want to live. I didn't think I could ever bring myself to look at a mother and her child without feeling tremendous guilt and pain. I did leave eventually, and then I kept the traumatic events to myself for 6 years, until I married. For 3 years in my marriage, I lived under the lie that God was punishing me, and that I would never have another child because I had so carelessly ended the life of my first born. It didn't matter that the pregnancy came from a traumatic incident on a college campus. It didn't matter that the one adult I came to very quickly advised me to just get rid of 'the problem' because I would lose a full scholarship and risk anger and being cut off from my family. In my mind and heart I didn't deserve another chance, and was headed for hell, condemned for life.

I thank God for a group of women, who were powerful intercessors and LOVING pro lifers who chose to hate the sin and love the sinner. Because they cared about the life of the mother as well as the child, I was able to repent and find healing. Isn't that what all pro lifers should be doing? Loving the mother as much as the unborn child? Maybe if you can win the heart of the mother, she will consider other options before she chooses abortion? Maybe we should be praying for the hearts of women who are broken, fallen, all over the world so that maybe they won't have to make these choices? May God bless you all as you endeavor to serve Him with your whole heart!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! Please, donate something....anything! Unplanned pregnancies...they are happening RIGHT NOW. The reasons and whys are varied and often very tragic. We may not be able to offer answers, but we can offer help and hope.....NOW! Please, let's protect the innocent and be the reason that a woman chooses life; for herself and for her baby. God bless you!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kicking Butt in Boy Scouts

"Mom, I hit the man in the BUTT!" This was Casey's triumphant response when I asked him how Boy Scouts was tonight and how he did at dodgeball...not bad for a child who used to to just smile and hug the wall. He was so proud of himself; he hit one of his scout leaders in the butt and got him out lol!

Casey celebrates his victory!! 
I know that most people reading this probably think, "Wow, big deal! I can do that in my sleep!" Well, for a special needs child like Casey, it IS a big deal to him and to us. This is a child who didn't usually like or participate in any kind of sport or very much socialization. Boy Scouts is a HUGE deal to him and it's helping him enjoy himself and feel like he's just like all the other boys out there that don't have to deal with a hearing impairment or autistic hurdles.

If you haven't been following Casey's journey, click here to view the previous posts and catch up. :) We really need all the support we can get and we are not yet close to our ultimate goal, or even our minimum goal. :( Right now, we're STILL at just $200.00 in popcorn sales; which is obviously short of the $600 minimum and the $1600 goal for FREE residence camp. Scouting isn't cheap, so we really need to sell a lot of popcorn so Casey can keep being in Scouts and we don't have to worry about how to pay for all the odds and ends that go with it. So, basically, we need to sell popcorn to about 70 more people. I have TONS of family and friends on Facebook; not to mention whomever may be reading this on the world wide web (so I don't understand why we haven't hit goal already lol. C'mon, folks!).

If you are in any way inspired and touched by my sweet boy who is enjoying the Boy Scouts, anbuy some popcorn from Casey's Dino Raptor Snack Shack (or select the option to gift it to our military if you aren't a popcorn eater). Once again, I know that it's probably one of those things where you look at the goods and the prices and maybe think twice about buying. However, think of what you are investing in. Casey and these kids are the boys that are (and will be) serving their communities in the future. They are the young men that are learning survival skills and character; the kind of good boys that you want dating your daughters or saving your life if an accident happened. When you buy that popcorn, don't think of it as a pricey snack that you're buying. Think of it as a donation to one of this nation's great institutions and the popcorn as a "thank you" gift for doing so. We're buying some too, people lol. I could buy popcorn at any grocery store, but this popcorn is the only popcorn that puts a smile on my son's face, a Scout shirt on his back, and gets him to residence camp where he'll no doubt have a life-changing experience learning new things! I'm happy to be a part of that! Please, join us!
d not letting his own hurdles get him down, then please

Grace and peace to you, my friends! Thank you so much for your support! Please, share this blog and these posts with your friends and on Facebook, Twitter, via my Pinterest posts, etc.! We sure would appreciate it! #caseysdinoraptorsnackshack !! God bless you!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Casey is Hooked on Scouting!

Casey's homemade fishing lures!
"Mom, look what I made!" That's the phrase that every Mom loves to hear no matter how old her child gets! When they're young, it's coloring pages and homemade creations. Now, it's duct tape wallets and fishing lures that they are making in Boy Scouts. I'm so proud of him!

He also told me about how they played dodgeball again. This time, he described to me in great detail about how he "threw a ball at his opponent" lol. He also used the word "rival" (I love his word choices lol). He told me he actually hit someone and got him out! "Did anyone get YOU out?" I asked. He smiled and said, "NOPE!" He also explained to me the rules of the game and I was thrilled to see that he not only understood how it worked now, but he was getting a lot better at it!

He's also made at least one friend as a result of the Boy Scouts. I remember on the first day of school my daughter had come home saying she made five new friends. Casey said that he had tried, but that no one wanted to be his friend. It made me sad, because I know he tries, but he doesn't always socialize in a way where people can connect with him. Now, I ask him if he has any friends and he says, "Yes, Kai is my friend. He's in Boy Scouts with me." You have no idea how HUGE this is! At the dinner last week, we sat with Kai and his Mom. He and Casey seem to really get along well and I'm so glad that Casey has been able to connect with someone! It makes me so happy that I get teared up!

I continue to be amazed at just how much it means to Casey to be in the Boy Scouts. It's helping him mature and he's enjoying socialization and participation like never before! He reminds me constantly, "Mom, Tuesday is Boy Scouts!" He even writes it in his assignment book with a big exclamation point on every Tuesday entry. That's why it's so important that we continue to get his popcorn sold. Right now, we're at around $200.00 in popcorn sales; which is still short of the $600 minimum and the $1600 goal for FREE residence camp. Scouting isn't cheap, so we really need to sell a lot of popcorn so Casey can keep being in Scouts and we don't have to worry about how to pay for all the odds and ends that go with it. So, basically, we need to sell popcorn to about 70 more people. I have TONS of family and friends on Facebook; not to mention whomever may be reading this on the world wide web (so I don't understand why we haven't hit goal already lol. C'mon, folks!).

If you are in any way inspired and touched by my sweet boy who is enjoying the Boy Scouts, and not letting his own hurdles get him down, then please buy some popcorn from Casey's Dino Raptor Snack Shack (or select the option to gift it to our military if you aren't a popcorn eater). I know that it's probably one of those things where you look at the goods and the prices and maybe think twice about buying. However, think of what you are investing in. Casey and these kids are the boys that are (and will be) serving their communities in the future. They are the young men that are learning survival skills and character; the kind of good boys that you want dating your daughters or saving your life if an accident happened. When you buy that popcorn, don't think of it as a pricey snack that you're buying. Think of it as a donation to one of this nation's great institutions and the popcorn as a "thank you" gift for doing so. We're buying some too, people lol. I could buy popcorn at any grocery store, but this popcorn is the only popcorn that puts a smile on my son's face, a Scout shirt on his back, and gets him to residence camp where he'll no doubt have a life-changing experience learning new things! I'm happy to be a part of that! Please, join us!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! Thank you so much for your support! Please, share this blog and these posts with your friends and on social media! We sure would appreciate it! #caseysdinoraptorsnackshack !! God bless you!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Fishing for Support

Yesterday, we had the privilege of having a tasty meal with the other Boy Scouts and their families. It was to eat and celebrate the boys who had earned badges and advancements in the last few months. We ate some of the most delicious fried chicken and fish we ever tasted (I don't know what the batter was, but it was FANTASTIC!). Everyone also carried in lots of side dishes and desserts; my dessert had no leftovers. ;) It was a wonderful time of fellowship!

Enjoying some tasty fish;
and dreaming about catching
and frying his own!
During that time, Casey asked one of his scout leaders the same question he asks every week, "Are we going to go outside?" He also asks about going fishing. I told him that the Boy Scouts do a lot of outdoor activities (fishing being one of them) so now, he's obsessed with the idea and won't stop talking about it lol. He was told that next week, they were going to make fishing lures. All he heard was "fishing" and he started getting super excited. I signed to him that they were going to be MAKING fishing stuff. He understood, but kept talking about how he needed a fishing pole.

Needless to say, Casey's growing excitement about all things Boy Scouts continues to build. I've never seen him so excited about something like this before! Any parent of a special needs child understands why this is such a big deal. Autism varies from person to person, but in most cases, those with autism don't enjoy a lot of social activity. Combine that with the fact that he's usually in a loud environment (the gym they play in at the church) and you have an ideal situation which would cause most autistic kids to freak out and have a meltdown. Not Casey! He's enjoyed every minute of it! We're amazed and grateful at how he's voluntarily breaking out of his box every day!

As he happily chowed down on his fish yesterday, I kept wondering about how he would do once Scouts got a little bit tougher. What would he do when he had to complete projects for badges and learn how to tie knots? It's challenging enough for the average person, so how would he be able to get through it? Then, I remembered just how committed he has been thus far; how eager and open he has been. I think he'll do just fine. I just hope that he can sell enough popcorn to get all he needs to not only afford a uniform, but to get to that big milestone of earning free Residence Camp. Chris asked if he would even be ready for that and suggested it might be too much for him. I told him that I believed Casey would want to go more than anything when the time comes and that it will be good for him. I'm just so proud of him and to see him maturing and breaking his own barriers!

Since my initial blog, I have had a couple more people buy popcorn from Casey's Dino Raptor Snack Shack. We are now almost to $150.00 in sales so far, but he is still so very short from the $600.00 goal (to get him the uniform and scouting stuff he needs) and the $1,600.00 DREAM of FREE Residence Camp. We have until about October 21st to make it to goal and we're hoping and praying that there are enough friends and family (and even perfect strangers that this blog might get passed along to or stumbled across) that will want to support the dream of a special child like Casey. If he inspires you, and you'd like to contribute to the memories that will help him grow in character and last a lifetime, please click here to purchase some popcorn; whether for yourself or as a gift to the military men and women of our armed forces. Also, share this blog via email and social media. Let's get #caseysdinoraptorsnackshack to trend on Facebook and Twitter! Wouldn't that be amazing?! :)

Grace and peace to you, my friends! Thank you so much for reading and for supporting Casey! It means the world to him, and to us! God bless you!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Casey's Dino Raptor Snack Shack

"Mom, I want to be in Boy Scouts!" This is what I've heard from Casey on a couple different occasions when he's brought information papers home. Up until now, I had put it off for a variety of different reasons; time, money, and the fact that I didn't really believe Casey would ultimately want to commit to something that required more socialization and outdoor activity time (even though it would be good for him). Casey's mild autism has always caused him to have difficulty with socialization (or even wanting to; he usually likes to be alone). He is also very sensitive to temperatures; particularly heat, so he doesn't always enjoy outdoor activities when it's warm outside. Therefore, I was REALLY surprised that he brought up joining the Boy Scouts again. He had let it go the last time when I explained what it all entailed; as well as a "maybe next year" and "wait until we get married and get settled at your new school." This time, he was NOT letting me forget about my "next time" response. "Next time" was now THIS TIME.

When I took Casey to the introductory meeting, all I could think about was how much he hated other things I tried to involve him in. When he was younger, he played special league t-ball. When he wasn't sitting down in the outfield or playing in the sand, he was covering his eyes and running to first base after hitting the ball. In Upwards basketball, he was flailing around the court (and doing his "raptor walk"). He looked unhappy and like he wished it would all be over (see video playlist lol). So, you can imagine how hesitant I was to give into Casey's insistence that he REALLY wanted to do Boy Scouts (especially when I saw how much a uniform and all that stuff costs). However, the scout leaders said that the $12.00 membership fee covered him from now until January; in other words, a perfect time frame for a trial run! I told Casey that we would give things a go and if he didn't like it, we would opt out when it was time to renew. If he still wanted to stick with it, we would invest in a uniform at that time. I don't know if he truly comprehends the whole concept, but he agreed lol.

Casey learned how to
make a duct tape wallet!
So far, Casey has been enjoying everything they've been doing in weekly meetings. Chris and I have observed him playing dodgeball and we were amazed that he was enjoying it and attempting to participate. Granted, he doesn't know how to throw the ball very well (or very far) but he did try. More often than not, he was just the last boy standing after everyone else has been hit because he just stands by the wall laughing, grinning, and avoiding being clobbered lol. It may not seem like a lot to anyone else, but watching him enjoy it was a pretty big deal to us. It showed a lot of personal growth and maturity and it's so good for him to step out of his box!

He also went on a nature hike where they were identifying plants and bugs. This is right up Casey's alley! He LOVES that stuff! I hope that he will impress the leaders and other scouts with his amazing encyclopedia-type explanations of the different species of spiders, bugs, and such. He reads up on those things all the time! They've met their match with Casey in this area! Everyone else might be able to cream him in dodgeball, but he can memorize nature facts like nobody's business! :)

The other thing that Casey and his troop are starting to do is sell their Boy Scout popcorn. This is something that Casey only vaguely understands. He knows that he needs to sell it (and that earning a certain amount will earn him a prize of a rocket kit that he wants) but he doesn't understand HOW to sell it or WHY it costs what it does. When telling his Mamaw about buying popcorn, he said that he was calling his popcorn selling "Casey's Dino Raptor Snack Shack" and that his popcorn was five dollars. "But this says twenty dollars," Mamaw said. Casey looked surprised and confused. He told her, "Um, no. That's too much money. I say just five dollars." We all had a good laugh about that lol. He doesn't realize that fundraising has preset prices and that no matter what you're raising money for, it's always "too much money" - but the money goes to a good cause!

We are so proud of Casey for trying something new; especially something that involves learning good skills, building character, and being part of an honorable and respected organization. Casey has always been a hero in my eyes because no matter what challenges he's had to overcome due to his hearing impairment and autism, he's always come out on top and shown everyone that he's just as smart (if not smarter) and as capable of participating in things just like anyone else!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! Thank you for reading about Casey's story! I will be sure to keep you updated as the fundraising progresses and give you a grand total as well! $600 is what they hope each individual scout will raise and $1600 is the amount they said one needs for free Scout Residence Camp (I'm a newbie, so I don't know what this is, but I'm sure I'll find out lol!). Right now, he has done around $70 in sales (obviously, he has a long ways to go!). Please, feel free to pass this blog post along if he has inspired you as much as he inspires us! Email it, post it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. and use the hash tag #caseysdinoraptorsnackshack . We appreciate your support! If you would like to purchase something from "Casey's Dino Raptor Snack Shack", just click on this link lol. No, Casey's five dollar pricing isn't applicable lol. However, it will go to support his troop as well as get him on his way to earning that rocket kit and purchasing items scouting related. Even if you don't like popcorn, you can buy some and have it sent to our military troops and their families instead! Everybody wins! Thank you for helping to make the dreams of a special needs child come true! God bless you!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

And the Moral of the Story is.....

If ever there was an "I wanna punch Bob Barker" kind of day, this was one of them. I've blogged about that feeling before. Even the tamest of people have their Happy Gilmore type moments where they want to start swinging fists or golf clubs. Today wasn't the worst of the worst, but it definitely ranks up there among the "terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad," days. Now, it's time to do one of the constructive things I had blogged about doing in order to cope with this kind of about it (for my therapy as well as for your entertainment lol).

6:30 ish a.m. : I hear frantic turning of the bathroom doorknob. My husband is trying to talk through the door and is asking me to get a screwdriver. He manages to get the doorknob off and free himself in time to get to work and for me to shower and get ready for a busy day. Something inside tells me that this is only the beginning of a chain of events that are going to happen during the day, but we roll our eyes and laugh it off.

9:00 a.m.: The three children and I arrive at Paige's dental appointment in Elkhart after about an hour drive. Not being the biological parent puts me in a somewhat awkward position to where I can't really fill out any forms completely or sign anything. It bothers me, but in this case, legality counts more than the fact that she's my daughter in my heart. She gets treatment regardless and has to have a return visit for fillings.

10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.: We kill some time shopping before lunch and our next appointment. The kids are mostly behaving, but my diva can always be counted upon for some drama. My phone also decided to misbehave as well; all day it was running oddly and slowly. It also went dead a lot because I had to use it so much for GPS (since I was driving all over creation). The bright spot was, we were all getting to go eat at Panera Bread. Paige loved it; it was her first time there (if my phone hadn't been dead again, I would have taken a picture to commemorate it). We were sitting in a spot where we could see my car from the window and we noticed some young girls stopping to stare at it and look at it as if they were in a used car lot. I was confused but thought maybe they were just being nosy or admiring my Infusion bumper sticker (yes, very wishful thinking lol). I think Gianna pointed out that I had a paper underneath my wiper blade. I thought it had to be a solicitation because it couldn't be a ticket; I hadn't done anything wrong.

We had finished eating when one of the gawkers finally entered the eatery. I spoke up and asked if there was a reason why she was staring at my car. She looked stunned and embarrassed and then admitted that she had hit it. I jumped right up and we went outside to survey the damage. She had hit my already damaged driver's end from where a pole jumped out behind me when I was backing up about a month ago (true story). Hard to tell what her damage really was other than the obvious paint scrape (my Dad had gorilla glued my tail light back together as best as he could and pounded the small dent out lol). It was about that time that the girl's mom showed up to ask what should be done next. The girl had parked her car somewhere else so I told her to bring it back to where my car was so the police could see it because the best thing to do would be to call and file a report. The note under my wiper was from a good Samaritan who left me a license plate number of the car in case it turned out to be a hit and run (thankfully, it didn't have to come to that). We waited a while and the policeman finally got there, took our information, and we parted ways. I was still relatively ok by this point because I had just been laughing everything off and figuring that since the damage was cosmetic, insurance money would actually be a blessing and could be used for something else. No big deal. Oh yeah, and I discovered my favorite sunglasses were broken (they might be able to be superglued, though).

1:30 - 5:30 p.m. - Arrived at the dental clinic for the appointment for the other two. I had originally cancelled it because when we discovered that all three children had ironically been scheduled for appointments the same day, there obviously had to be a rescheduling. However, I found out that my kids' dental clinic had another location which was conveniently close to Paige's dentist as well. So, let's get it all done and over with right? I had rescheduled the appointments for 2:00 and went in to register. The lady said the appointments were somehow made for the 24th. I almost became unglued, but after explaining the day thus far to the receptionist, she assured me that non-appointments can be accommodated and that they could probably still be seen. So, after all the waiting and paperwork, it finally got done (Casey has two cavities and Gianna, the one who usually acts the most rotten, had none. Ironic, isn't it lol?). I also managed to call my insurance agent and fill him in on what happened before my phone died again. In the midst of it all, Paige's flip flops managed to fall apart. Awesome.

5:30 - 7:00 ish p.m.: Determined to get our last item of business done before finally making it home, we proceeded to drive to Warsaw so I could get to the BMV before they close and get my new license done. That's what you do when you move and get married, right? You get your name and address changed with Social Security, the BMV, and all that stuff. I had already gotten my Social Security card, so this was the next step and I had everything I believed (and was told) I needed. I got to the BMV at 6:10; after we had made a stop at Dollar General for some cheap flip flops for Paige and a light snack to tide them over until dinner at home. We waited 20 minutes and I presented my request and information to the BMV worker to get my new license. Apparently, it wasn't good enough. Despite presenting my marriage license and USPS change of address papers to them, I guess I was a little short on my "proof".

Yep, this is the part where everything stopped being funny.....

I was thinking about the announcer in Happy Gilmore saying: "Here comes the putter throw!!!" I was trying really hard not to be the kind of BMV customer that everyone dreads and makes fun of; the one that screams, cries, or goes ballistic (or a mixture of it all). I listened as the BMV guy explained that he doesn't make the rules, just enforces them. I heard it, but I still couldn't believe it and scrambled through my bottomless purse (and even went out to my car) to find something, ANYTHING that he could possibly use as "proof" that I live at my new address. Alas, I had nothing that had my name and new address printed on a piece of mail that was good enough for them to accept. He asked me why I even needed to do it now and that I had 60 days. What a stupid question! I got a little annoyed and was like, 'um, because that's what you do when your name and address changes...' Good gosh, I just wanna "get r done" and over with so my identity information is correct! DUH! However, I had to leave the BMV frustrated and agitated....but who doesn't?

I was trying to refocus and maintain composure. Angry tears were boiling up, but I tried hard not to let them give way as I started up the car. Yeah, the tank is nearly empty too; I can't imagine how I've used so much gas today. Looks like I need to take care of that....THEN I can go home. That was easy enough, until I left the gas station to head home and was met by "road closed" signs. I tried to circumvent them in order to still go the way I had planned, but ran into endless one ways and dead ends. I finally just had to backtrack and go a completely different way.

7:30 ish p.m. - now: We finally get home. I'm tired and agitated and my stomach hurts....AND I had to endure that annoying and overplayed "Happy" song on the way home because I found it while channel surfing and the kids love that song (which is the last song anyone wants to hear; especially when they are NOT happy). *Clap, clap, clap...."because I'm happy.".... as I pull into the garage.* Ugh. I opted to take a shower and relax as Chris willingly took the reins and followed through on taking the kids swimming at the neighbor's (even though it was late in the evening and the idea was almost ditched, but the kids had been waiting to go all day....and they'd earned it!).

I am now deep in thought about "the moral of the story" as I wind up this blog. Chris, Ben, and the kids returned from the pool, got their showers, and we read our devotion and prayed before they went to bed. I prayed with a heart of relief and thanks; because no matter how "bad" things may seem, God is still good and just (and there are others going through FAR worse). Each day is a day He has made and I can still rejoice and be glad in it. There are always silver linings.This day was just one of the many ridiculously catastrophic and screwy days we have had since we got married just over two weeks ago. I can't even begin to list and describe the physical, verbal, emotional, mental, and financial attacks we have been assaulted with. However, as Christians, we aren't ignorant of the fact that in this world, we will have trouble (John 16:33). Chris and I fully expected that our marriage vows would be tested quickly and we are happy to find that no matter what stresses we have had, our love and faith have grown even more. We are holding tight to our vows as well as our belief in the second part of the previously mentioned verse in which Jesus assures us that HE has overcome the world! As long as our promises and His promises endure, we WILL continue to persevere. Romans 8:28 assures us that ALL THINGS will work together for GOOD for us because we love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.

Grace and peace to you, my friends! We all have bad days. I know that there has to be someone out there who is reading, nodding, and even laughing along with me/us today. We got to find the humor and purpose in things. After all, this day really wasn't all bad. There were plenty of funny moments and good times today. I enjoyed spending the day with all three of the kids and am happy as pie to finally be home! I am now going to enjoy some "comic relief" TV time with Ben and my husband. Soon, my knight in shinning armor will be going with me to the BMV to provide "proof" that I dwell in his castle so that the fire-breathing government will be satisfied and will granteth me my new title lol. It's all going to be ok. I don't always know how, but it will because God always makes it possible! Amen! God bless you all!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Heart and Soul

Any music artist will tell you that they were compelled to become a musician because of one or more musical influences who first inspired them to love music and cultivate their talent. For me, that person was my grandmother: Gloria Giessler. Her name may not be known worldwide for her talent and impact, but there's no way to know for sure how far the ripple effect of her influence has reached! She has entertained and touched so many as she played the piano and organ for family, friends, and even church congregations. She even patiently encouraged and instructed many students over the years to play as well. I am certain that the many children and adults that took lessons from her are all the richer in character and talent because of her.

Undoubtedly, I wasn't the only one who developed the passion and talent for music because of all the heart she put into helping me love it! I can't even begin to count all the times she took me to Dave's Music Den so she could buy me music books and sheet music! Then, she told me I could play as long as I wanted when we got back to her house! You would have thought you just told me I was going to Disneyland or something because my heart raced at the thrill of what that meant to me! Getting to learn and play new things until my fingers were tired was such a gift!! All the while, she helped me learn how to do it and always told me how well I was doing (even if I thought I was doing terrible).

Beyond what she accomplished as a music teacher is what she achieved in her roles as a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. She was beloved and cherished for the wonderful heart she had, the wisdom she shared, and the laughter she always brought (I can still hear her iconic laugh in my mind!). She was always so thoughtful, generous, caring, and the kind of woman you would want to make great memories with (I know I have MANY with her!).

We all love and miss such a wonderful lady because of all that she meant to us. We'll always remember her and I know that the world is a better place because of the beautiful sounds that she created in the symphony of her life! Those that she impacted will sing, play, and exhibit kindness to others because she showed us how! Thank you, Grandma! I love you!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! May we all be so blessed to have wonderful friends and family members in our lives to leave such an imprint on us in order that we may be richer in virtue and character! Praise God for those who help create those songs that make up the heart and soul (pun intended!) of our being! God bless you!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

God on the Greenway: Impact, Purpose, and Restoration

Nearly four years ago, I unknowingly composed what would be my last "God on the Greenway" blog post (up until now!). Even as I state that fact, I'm amazed because I'm reflecting on just how much has changed since that stormy day on the Greenway. That day had such deep meaning for me! Re-reading it now, I remember the mixture of emotions I felt because the "personal pain" that I had mentioned was the divorce that was looming in my future. I had no idea what I was in for in the coming months and years ahead. Nothing can ever prepare you for the death of a marriage; even if you mistakenly think (as I had thought) that you're ready for it.

My Greenway walks and runs have been very few since then; I've mainly been doing Team Beachbody programs. I also haven't run any more 5k races since my first initial one. I've returned to the Greenway from time to time, but this most recent visit just happened to be the one that felt special again. I was thinking about the difference between "then" and "now" as I used the Foursquare app on my phone to check-in to the Greenway. I love that app because it tells me cool things like how many times I've been there or how long it has been since I had visited a place. On this occasion, it told me that the last time I had been on the Greenway was last September; which would have been when I participated in the Steps of Faith Walk to raise awareness and collect shoes for those in Africa that don't have the luxury of foot protection (check out the group on Facebook if you would like to know how you can help!). When I saw that little fun fact, I not only remembered the blessing of walking barefoot to empathize, but the fact that I was SO GLAD that I didn't have to do that now lol! What a privilege it is not only to exercise on such a nice day, but to be fortunate enough to have shoes on my feet!

I was soaking it all in and preparing for the four mile round-trip journey; wondering what God might have in store for me because I just had that old feeling I always used to have when these special posts originally came about. I thought that my Greenway posts were a thing of the past, but for some reason I felt like maybe there might be one last one to write. Oddly enough, it was cool and comfortable; and ready to rain at any moment! Once again, I relished at the thought of being caught in a possible downpour! However, there was one huge difference; this was a "dancing in the rain" kind of feeling rather than a "weeping in the rain" kind of feeling. Three of the last four years had been really terrible, but in the last year, things had finally taken a positive turn as my faith rebounded from all the turmoil. Everything was ending back in 2010. Now, in 2014, everything is beginning as I prepare to make a new life with a wonderful Christian man that would soon be my new husband. Finally, a new and happy chapter rather than painfully having to close the book on something! God has rebuilt and restored my life! He is so good!

I felt full of energy and anticipation as I journeyed through the first two miles. I saw many different people as I walked and ran. I happened to notice an older gentleman who was wearing a "Navy" shirt and a veteran's hat. I smiled as I went by, and then wished I had given him a better acknowledgement after I had passed. After I had turned around to finish the last two miles, I saw him again. This time, I smiled once more and said, "Thank you for your service!" He promptly said with noticeable pride (as well as gratitude for my thanks) "Oh, you're welcome!" Something about his response made me tear up as I continued to trek down the Greenway. I thought about the willingness that he and countless others have had to serve our country; to knowingly put their lives on the line for the sake of EVERYONE in this great nation! For most civilians, we don't remember their sacrifices often enough or even comprehend it. That's when it made me think of how Jesus willingly laid down His life for all of US and how we sometimes don't give that a second thought either. Maybe some find it hard to truly grasp Jesus' sacrifice for us, but the men and women who are our parents, grandparents, siblings, spouses, friends, etc. should be able to make us appreciate that kind of sacrifice MUCH MORE! It amazes me and always deepens my gratitude and appreciation!

The blessing of a perfect stranger would have been grand enough to share. However, there is one more person I met that blessed me even more. That person was Tony Garton. For those that live in this area, you probably already know who I'm talking about and WHY it was so nice to run into him. He truly needs no introduction and he is well-known for his service to the community (that link will make you cry lol!). For the benefit of those who aren't fortunate enough to know him, I'll simply tell you that he is a kind-hearted, giving, and friendly person. He is admired for his service as a school teacher as well as his faith and guest speaking in area churches. I'm sure I don't even know the half of what all he has done, but all I know is how much I enjoy seeing him around town, on the Greenway, and when he used to speak at the church that I went to when I was growing up. My grandma Sauers also greatly appreciated him, and I think that's what made him stop and and say "hi" to me as I was finishing up the last of my walk. I had seen him earlier as he was riding his bike and I smiled and and gave a quick "Hi, Tony! How are you?" He reciprocated equally and we both kept going at the time but now, he stopped his bicycle and we gave each other a hug (yes, even after the sweat and rain lol!). I told him I had just been thinking of him the other day because I had remembered the time he was encouraging some of us women at a Mother's Day banquet to write letters of encouragement to each other. He had said it was my Grandma who inspired him to suggest it because she ALWAYS wrote him an appreciative and encouraging letter every time he came to speak. When I told him that, he smiled and told me that he still had EVERY letter she wrote to him and that it always meant so much. He also mentioned that if she was driving by the Greenway and saw him, she would pull over so she could say "hello" to him and he would come over to the car and she would give him a peck on the cheek. That was so like Grandma! She was always so sweet and loving to everyone! I don't think she realized just how often she made someone's day; just by being "her"! We both expressed how much we missed her and he said that she was a "special lady."

As Tony and I began to part ways, I thanked him and told him how much I appreciated his preaching. He insisted he wasn't a preacher, just a teacher. I told him he was both and that we're all called to preach the gospel and that he has touched a lot of hearts. He thanked me for my words (and for the hug) and pedaled off.

I unsuccessfuly fought off tears as I finished my walk. People like him, my Grandma, and even those I didn't really know (like the Navy veteran) had touched my heart. My life and my character is enriched because of them. Whether they know it or not, they MATTER! We ALL matter! We were all created on purpose and FOR a purpose (Ephesians 2:10). NO ONE is an accident! God meant for each and every one of us to be here and to make an impact on this world! Writing letters and giving hugs makes a difference. Teaching and preaching to the young and old makes a difference too. Serving your country and sacrificing a normal life (or maybe even your life itself); that also makes a difference! Nothing is too big or too small. IT ALL MATTERS!

When I got back to my car, I felt a little tired in body, but very refreshed in spirit! I was a mess from the rain
and sweat; just as I was the last time I had gotten caught in it. The big difference this time was that instead of feeling hurt and broken, I was feeling thankful and blessed. I was reminded that God (and the people who had blessed and touched my life) had helped me become a better "me". I became a better person because of the fact that God (and many others) never gave up on me; even when I wanted to give up on myself. I had almost stopped believing that God would rebuild and restore my life the way he did for people like Joseph and Job. Thankfully, He came through! He always does! Now, my life is better and more blessed than I ever thought it could be and once again, I am finally LIVING life again instead of just existing! I'm living life on purpose and WITH purpose again! Amen!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! Remember that God is always with you in every season of your life! He's there in the calm and in the storm. He works through you, and others, no matter who you are or what your gifts may be! It all works together for good (Romans 8:28); the big AND little things. EVERYTHING leaves an make it a GOOD one! It's all going to work out! God bless you!