And the tears, they fell…

Easter is near. But first we must make it to Good Friday. Maundy Thursday was very emotional for me. I would like to tell you that I don’t know why, but I do know. I sat in the first row, on the lectern side of the sanctuary. This put me straight in line with the pastor. I was able to look at her as she spoke about Peter denying Jesus; as she spoke of forgetting a name or denying a relationship.

But more than the message, I was front and center for communion. I watched as young people kneeled for communion and stayed longer than most, praying. I looked at the very young getting excited about getting bread and grape juice. I saw the old kneeling, barely able to get down and then up again.

I specifically had great feelings for a 90+ year old who bowed her head, buried in her arms. She looked so intense in her praying. I thought to myself, what could she be praying? She was so intense. Was she thanking God for her fulfilled life? Was she praying for her husband who is long past? Was she praying for her granddaughter who was kneeling next to her? Maybe none of these things but maybe all of them.

We all have so many reasons to believe in something greater than ourselves. But tonight I felt it. I felt the need to believe in a Savior of the World. I felt the need to cry because he sacrificed everything for me, someone who would not come around until over 1900 years after his death. I felt the need to cry, to let it all out.

It was a very intense service for me. I like to think that God is setting me up for a growth in my faith. I have been asking for it and maybe I will be getting what I asked for in developing a deeper, more intense relationship with my Lord.

As Easter arrives, I hope to feel a sense of jubilance, knowing that Jesus Christ, in deed, did die for my sins. He died for the sins that I had not even committed. I have been forgiven for everything that I will do in my life. It is up to me to ask for forgiveness. It is up to all of us to ask forgiveness. But the great thing is, is if we ask and are sincere, we are forgiven. That is what makes Easter so great, we are forgiven!

May your Good Friday, bring you to Easter! Amen and Amen!

Hearing God in the Wind and the Waves

A totally different world, that is the best way to describe it. Living in the United States, we have no concept of structures that are 500-1000 years old. But there we were, driving through a city in which you can be in a modern office building and walk across the street to a Gothic Cathedral or an ancient Roman wall that was built before the Spanish Inquisition. Imagine seeing a wall still standing that was built-in the 1300’s or a Cathedral that still holds mass and has been standing for 563 years. That would be our life for almost a year as my husband took a job implementing a software system near Barcelona, Spain.

I will never forget the day we left. Our children were 3-years and 5-years old at the time. It was the Saturday before Easter and we were getting ready for the biggest, most daring adventure that we could imagine. We tried to keep everything a normal as possible for the children. We took them to the annual Easter Egg Hunt in our community and then came home for lunch. Our bags were already packed, two per person and our carry-on bags. It was an overnight flight with hopes that the children would sleep through the majority of the trek overseas. The children got a bubble bath with bubbles overflowing and then put in clothes that were comfortable enough to sleep.

We would need to be at the airport by 5:00 pm for our 6:00 pm flight. Needing to leave home by 4:15 pm, my nerves were starting to show and I felt jittery all over. Would we be able to adapt to living in a foreign country? Would I find any friends? Would the children fit in to their new surroundings? I took French in college, would I be able to learn Spanish and communicate well? These were just a few of many questions I had. But there was no way that I would outwardly show my fear. I needed to be strong…

As we drove through the downtown area of Barcelona, tall buildings towering over us (we made a wrong turn and were lost), we drove past statues celebrating, or in memoriam, of someone or something. We would eventually have the time to learn about all of those statues but that night, we just wanted to get to the flat. We had left home 19 hours earlier and we were dealing with a seven hour time difference. As we drove past the Barcelona Zoo, I remember thinking how appropriate it was that this adventure begins on our 12th anniversary, the other great adventure of my life.

Finally we arrived to our flat. It was beautiful, the 5th floor of a six floor apartment building. We would live across the street from a high school on one side, a garden nursery on another side and the Mediterranean Sea was our balcony view. In fact, we were only 200 meters from the sea. In the evening we could sit out and look at the cruise ship lights in the distance and hear the crash of the waves. (This becomes significant in my story.)

Because we knew that our stay in Spain was temporary, we took as much free time as we could to visit the sights, see all we could see. My husband worked long hours and many times he left before the children were awake and home after they were in bed. As we would arrive in the spring, the children and I would have adventures during the day or go to the beach or pool and many trips to the zoo. They would eventually go to an English/Catalan school but the spring/summer was ours.

Searching for my life

I start writing this without a title. In the time that I began blogging I have learned so much and feel so inadequate in what I know. The reason no title? I keep thinking SEO; what should I write in the title to get more people to my site and reading “all the relevance” that I can give to the world? (ok, tongue in cheek!)

There have been so much that has been happening in my life over the last month which is probably why it has been that long since I last wrote. The thoughts in my mind are churning and it seems impossible to somehow organize them into manageable verse. But today I decided to jump in and just write. I hope that through Divine Intervention my words will give inspiration, or insight, to those that read but maybe more to myself.

I have to be honest and say that there are just some things that I will not write. I will not write about things that would be embarrassing to my family, immediate, extended, my husband’s family, etc… Although if I did, WOW! You would be amazed! But my grandfather always said, “Don’t share family secrets!” Even if it was a disagreement amongst spouses or children, he felt it was inappropriate to share with “outsiders”. I believe that. I don’t want to write or do anything that would lessen the value that people hold for my family members, whether I am close to them or distant. That doesn’t mean that I won’t speak with my friends concerning family matters; I have to be able to vent. I just can’t do it publicly. NOW ON TO TOPIC.

I have had tremendous highs and lows over the past 31 days. I have learned a great deal about myself and I know that I am not invincible.

In my lows, I realized I do not take rejection well. This rejection took place in personal and professional situations. Maybe because it happened in multiple situations and within a short time period, I was able to learn about myself. While I would not recommend this for anyone, it was very insightful and I now know how I react. Hopefully I will be able to handle situations better in the future. What do I do? I just want to give up, walk away and forget that it even happened. I won’t share family secrets so you won’t hear about my personal rejection but the act is not the point; It is the lesson.

Professionally, I was hired to ghost blog for websites. Website owners hire BlogMutt to write weekly blog posts based on topics that they provide. The customer approves, asks for edits  or rejects the post. There are hundreds of websites out there that are having blogmutt.com write their blogs.

The owner of BlogMutt says that there is about a 10% rejection rate and that you just need to let the rejections roll off your back and move on. Well, my first rejection ticked me off because it was well-written, original and factual. The website owner rejected the post saying that is was “factually wrong and not original”. One rejection lead to another and another. Before long I was over the 10% rejection rate. One rejection even received 5 stars (the most you can receive). How can you like something enough to give it 5 stars and then reject it!!!!

I was very hurt and, even now, it is hard for me to write for fear of rejection. But I weather on. Just like any writer, you must write to get paid. If I did not write and submit posts, I would not be paid. And if I want to get paid, I must write. I realized that this would be a difficult career, as payment is based per blog purchased. And you have no direct comment with the website owner and have to take their criticism and move on. Don’t get me wrong, I do like writing for BlogMutt and hope to continue even when I begin a full-time job.

A high point – I was hired for a full-time position as the Camp Coordinator at Camp Fontanelle, a United Methodist Church Camp in Fontanelle, Nebraska. It is a brand new position so I will learn more of my duties when I begin April 1.  This was also a learning experience for me. My family is very familiar with the camp. We have volunteered there for years; Our children attend camp there (since age 3); My husband was on the board for six years and chairman for five; my son is employed as the laser tag “guy” during the fall when the corn maze is running. So we know camp.

But I don’t know that I was considered when the position was created. Four people interviewed for the job and I was probably twice the age of the other three applicants. What I brought to the table was a great deal of experience. I was a perfect fit for the job but there were some really hard feelings. There was at least one other person who felt they were a perfect fit.  After I interviewed I lost sleep as to whether I would take the position if it was offered me. I worried about the person that felt the position was perfect for him/her. I had just been hired by BlogMutt and I thought that is what I wanted to do full-time. So many things running through my mind.

One day, in my stress, I prayed to God. I said, ‘God, guide me in the direction my life is to go. I want to do Your Will.’ I had decided that if I was offered the camp job, it was meant to be and I would accept it. When I told my husband that, he questioned me as to my reasoning. For a short time, ok, maybe 30 seconds, I wondered if I was wrong to say I would accept the job if it was offered. Was I not being discerning enough? But no, I had given it to God and after I did that, I felt great. I would take the job. (Soon after I had accepted the job, I began receiving post rejections. Maybe a sign confirming I was doing the right thing?)

I know that I have not had a rough life. I have never been without a home, or food, or clothes. I have always had the love and acceptance of friends and family members. (Not every person all the time. But enough to know that I am loved).

I have struggled with trying to find a job. And even this recent venture only took 3 months to find a full-time job. Not bad for a woman who quit working full-time when her now 17-year-old son was born. And not only did I find a full-time career but I have a writing job that will bring in a little extra spending money.

I have had personal failures. I have disappointed people I love and I have been hurt by those same people. There have been times in the last four months that I wasn’t sure that I have made a difference in the world, that I was doing what I was meant to do, or be the person that I could be.

But through all of the highs and lows, I have tried to have faith – faith that it would work out and I would be able to shine. I think I forgot that I don’t need to be in control all of the time. My first step was to give it up to God. While I know that there will still be disappointments and I will disappoint, these last four months have given me some great perspective and maybe patience. It may not seem much to you, but I get to play at camp for my job. There will be long days and hard work in the summer but I know it is what I am to do because I, for once, didn’t need to be in control of my future. I now have the job of taking this gift that was given me and doing my best.

I guess now I am trying to figure out the purpose of this blog. Today was writing just to write; More cathartic than informational or inspirational.  My head is still spinning because my life is taking a new direction. I hope I continue to write this blog and find direction to be meaningful  and worthwhile. Bare with me as I evolve into the new me.

Just added a title – not very SEO – but SEO was not the purpose of this blog, come to find out!

Be Outrageous! Be Courageous!

I do not get to the movies very often. While I know that there are many great movies out there, I either can’t find the time or justify the cost to see a movie at the movie theater.

Courageous (film)

Courageous (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I also am not one to rent movies much anymore. With the advent of Netflix online, for $8.00 a month, I can fill my time with old movies; or I can watch the many channels that are offered through our cable company. What I am trying to say is that I am going to be writing about a movie that came out in theaters in September of 2011 and was released on DVD more than a year ago.

The reason I am writing about this movie now, is that it has had and will continue to have an impact on my family. It caused my small family of four to talk about expectations, about God, about being who God has meant us to be. It caused me to look at what I have been given and to be grateful every day; not just think about being grateful but let those people in my life know I am grateful.

That movie is “Courageous”. I had heard about it, seen trailers for it and thought it would be a good movie to watch. But after two people from our church, decided to put together a showing and bring in one of the actors to speak afterwards, did I take the time to experience its message. http://www.courageousthemovie.com

It was actually my husband who got our family involved. Volunteers were needed in various capacities for the movie that was to be held at our high school. Kent thought it would be good if the four of us did something to help. Frankly, I was surprised but jumped right in and volunteered our family to be ticket takers. My daughter took time out of her social time with friends to come to the movie, volunteer her time and watch the movie. Even one of her friends joined us for the showing.

The gist of the movie is that men need to be involved in the lives of their children. The story is told through the life experiences of five different men. Four of these men are law enforcement officers. The fifth man is a laborer who is having a hard time finding permanent work. Each of them has a different family dynamic.  But the common factor is that they all have children. Each is involved (or not involved) in different degrees with their children. A tragic accident causes one of the fathers to look differently at his family and enlists the other four to make him accountable for his actions. It is a very powerful film and I would recommend it to everyone who has a child/children or who wants to have children.

Studies show that there is a greater incidence of suicide and violence amongst children who do not have a father involved in their life. A child is more likely to join a gang if there is not that male figure to influence them. During the movie, one of the characters stated that 87% of youth in juvenile detention do not have a father in their life. The actor that spoke afterwards, re-iterated this in his dynamic speech.

Even the federal government has studies that show the impact of the father in the raising of children. He is not just a second adult in the household. He counts and does have influence. http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/fatherhood/chaptertwo.cfm A father can show his son how to respect a young lady by the relationship he has with their mother. A father can show a child how to work hard and how to be a good influence.

My children are lucky. They have a mother and father in their life. They have a mother and father who love each other. They have a mother and father who have taken on the responsibility of being a parent and guiding them in a way that teaches consequences, commitment, consideration and yes, courage.

Too many parents out there think that a child is a trophy (look what I have) or a burden (I have to haul them all over the place) or an inconvenience. I cringe every time I hear a pregnant woman complain about her pregnancy. We struggled so much to bring biological children into our family. We were blessed with two children. I wanted more but God had other plans. So when I see women “belly ache” about their pregnancy, I just want to say to them, “Be grateful that you have been given this blessing. There are so many out there that have not been as lucky.”

The movie made me cry more than once. It made me proud of my family. I was certainly proud of the family that felt compelled to bring this movie, and everything that went with the movie, to our community. On a beautiful, warm, Saturday, over 250 people took time out of their day to experience “Courageous”.

After the movie, we were invited to join the family that organized the event, some of their family and friends, our pastor and Robert Amaya for dinner. Robert played Javier Martinez in the movie. He was the man struggling to find work to provide for his family when he was befriended by Adam (main character) purely by accident. http://premierespeakers.com/christian/robert_amaya. Robert is a very powerful speaker and was a perfect fit for this movie.

Kent, my husband, was lucky enough to sit by Robert at the dinner table and they had a wonderful conversation. Kent learned that Robert tries to live his life as a man of courage. It was very evident in his speech after the movie. He quoted the Bible a lot in showing that God has a plan for fathers, a plan for men in this world.

Part of the plan is to work hard. God called Adam to work in the garden (Genesis 2:37). Work is not a sin or punishment. It is what man is to do. A man is also to be a father and teach his children the ways of God. I think Kent was inspired to continue his duty as a father to our two children and teach them Godly Ways.

I know that there are a lot of single parent households out there. I know that there are children out there that do not seem to have love. I wish that every father, and every mother, could see this movie and really hear the message that it is trying to deliver.

We wonder how to make our world a better place? We do so by being better parents, by being a better spouse. We do so by taking our responsibilities seriously and thinking through the consequences of our actions.

I know that I am a better person because of this movie. I know that I am inspired by Robert Amaya. Even though I am a woman, I know that I can be more supportive of my husband as the father of my children. I know that I do not always honor him the way I should. By me being a better wife, he can be a better father.

I thank God for Robert Amaya, Sherwood Pictures for bringing this story to the big screen and the Kendrick brother’s, Stephen and Alex, for writing this inspiring story. Sherwood Pictures and the Kendrick brother’s have written and made other inspiring movies. They are “Facing the Giants“, “Fireproof” and “FlyWheel“.

While I have not seen their other movies, I do believe that they are on my “to watch” list.

Robert Amaya, from the movie "Courageous" with me, my husband and son.

Robert Amaya, from the movie “Courageous” with me, my husband and son.

Please find time to see this movie if you have not already. I hope that you too, are inspired to be a better parent, a better partner to the one you love.

May God Bless and give you the COURAGE, to be the best you can be to Honor Him!

Facing the Giants

Facing the Giants (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Flywheel (film)

Flywheel (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sherwood Pictures

Sherwood Pictures (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“To thine own self be true”

The words of Shakespeare are as relevant today as they were for Polonius during Act 1 of “Hamlet”. And they will be as relevant tomorrow and well into the future. Be true to yourself; what do you like; where do your talents lie; who should you avoid; when do you just walk away; why do certain things drive you crazy? Even at the age of 8, I was beginning to answer those questions. And sadly, as all lessons do, it came at a price.

It was Labor Day Week end in Council Bluffs, Iowa. I was thrilled to death because the Dr. Sanguinary Carnival was set up at the Rolla-Rena, four blocks from my home. I was old enough now that I could go to the carnival by myself and I was rarin’ to go.

Now Dr. Sanguinary was a local celebrity. He had a Saturday night show called “Creature Feature”. It was after the ten p.m. news and aired old “B” horror movies.  He told bad jokes and if you were old enough to stay up, you never wanted to miss it. http://www.drsanguinary.com/main/2/drsanguinaryorg_ad.swf

Doctor Sanguinary had a passion for children and would make many hospital visits to see those sick children throughout the year. Because of this, he sponsored carnivals during Labor Day Week end all across the Omaha area to support the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. He was our local “Jerry Lewis” and was on-air pushing for those pledges and raising money.

My parents knew I was very excited about going to the carnival and decided to give me some money to spend. They gave me $5.00. Now that may not seem like much in today’s world; it won’t even purchase popcorn and a soda at the movies, but for an 8-year old, it was a lot. (I checked it would be the equivalent of almost $30.00 in today’s market.)

The carnival was small, mostly games, a dunk-tank, maybe a simple ride AND pinball machines. I am pretty sure I ran the four blocks to the carnival and went immediately to the “money-changer” and changed the $5.00 bill to quarters.  I remember as if it was yesterday. The day was warm and sunny and the carnival was set up in the parking lot of the Rolla-Rena. I went straight to the pinball machines which were located near the south wall of the building. I picked one pinball machine and began plugging in the quarters. Before long, all of the quarters were gone. I stood at that machine and one put in one-quarter after another – 20 times.

I don’t know how long I was there but I know that it took no time at all and I was out of money. It wasn’t until that last ball fell down the drain and was lost did I realize what I had just done. While I knew the money went to a good cause, I felt empty. I had gotten trapped in that machine; I couldn’t stop plugging in those quarters. I didn’t go home with any cheesy toys or prizes. I didn’t hang out with any of my friends. I was obsessed with that machine.

As I walked home, slowly with my head down staring at the sidewalk, I realized that I could never gamble. I knew that I would be a candidate for Gamblers Anonymous if I were to gamble. I was being true to myself and learning, even at the age of eight what restrictions/limitations I needed to make in my future.

I did avoid pinball machines for many years but then the table games came out – Pac-Man. I went through a period in my life that if I had enough loose change, it went into the Pac-Man table. Then came the video games; they weren’t on the computer but in the pinball-type machines. I found Dungeons and Dragons and the Legend of Zelda. It was during one of my Legend of Zelda games that it all came back to me, “Jane, you must stop, and now!” And that was the end of it. I have truly avoided any game like that. I do not play computer games. When I play the Wii, it is for exercise only and there is absolutely no on-line gaming. I do not gamble at the casinos. I may go with my husband, but I go only as an observer.

When I was in my obsessive mode, it was at times when I was too young to have money, a college student and had no money and no credit cards, or just out of college and had to budget even purchasing a 10 cent newspaper. It came at a good time when my obsession did not impact others. I am far past the time that I will let this take control of me because I remember how I felt as an 8-year old child, coming home empty-handed and thinking how disappointed my parents would be with my actions.

When my grandmother knew she was dying, she began to open up and share things with me. Towards the end of her life I found out how much she and I were truly alike. I was raised and am still a Methodist. When my grandma was younger, part of being Methodist was abstinence from alcohol. She and my grandfather never drank and I always thought it was because they were ol’ time Methodists. She admitted to me (I remember the conversation so well, sitting in her kitchen) that the reason she didn’t drink was because she was afraid she would like it too much. My grandma was being true to herself. She knew that she needed to have the control to say “No” because she was afraid of losing that control.

My revelation came at age eight,  “To thine own self be true”; words to live by and constantly evaluate so I can be the best I can be, at all times. Not even a pinball machine or Pac-Man table can get in my way.

 

 

 

Always editing my life

I am amazed at how many times I look at something I have written, think it looks fine, publish it, only to find out that I have typos, or grammatical errors or misspellings. Just when I think it is ready to go…there it is, something I did not see before.

Like the last post I had, I looked at it numerous times, thought it looked and flowed nicely. I publish, only to go back less than an hour later and find two, yes two, errors that were so obvious, and yet I missed them. Even the auto-correct had missed them. And this now is the second time I have written this. I originally had it as a draft, incomplete. When I came back to my writing, I hit publish and put something out there not completed. I don’t know what I was thinking; I was thinking it wouldn’t publish? I don’t know. I needed to send it to trash and start over so someone would not go to my page and read something that was not finished. WOW, what a life.

How many times do we walk through life and wish that we could have a re-do, or have an auto-correct? If only we had an editor walking by our side, or in our head, that would make the correction before the words came out of our mouth! Wow, what a concept that would be!

I think we do have an auto-correct in our brain for words that come out of our mouth. I think it is a better system than anything that we have for the written word. It is called a conscience. And nicely so, we don’t have to spell words when they come out of our mouth. As I am getting older, gaining wisdom, and growing in maturity, I try to be more aware of what I say and how I say it.

While I know that we are in a world where instant messaging is rampant and we want everyone to know what we are doing, every minute of the day, we still need to think; we need to think about what we say and how we say it. We need to realize that everyone does not need to know every detail of our life.

I made the mistake years ago of having my emails sent out as soon as I hit the “send” button. I wanted to get those emails out straight away! That is fine until you write something in the heat of the moment. You are writing from raw emotion and not necessarily thinking about those words and how they can impact someone else. Because of that incident, my emails sit in my outbox for a while, just in case I need to edit (or delete) those words.

It was a Friday night, my husband was out-of-town and the children and I were watching a movie, theatre-style (which meant with all of the lights out). That Friday night was also the deadline for Girl Scout leaders to get their cookie orders input into the on-line computer program. They had until midnight. You see, I was the Girl Scout Product Sales Coordinator for the county where I live and it was my responsibility to make sure that all of the orders were entered and looked correct. I hoped that everything would go smoothly and there would be very few problems. What do they say about Murphy’s Law? Well Murphy was present that night.

Too make a long story shorter, a leader phoned me and asked if she could have an extension on the entry deadline. I had to tell her no because I had deadlines. I asked her what I could do to help. She hung up on me as she did not like my answer. She then called back and said that her internet was down and she had phoned someone to come fix it (after 8:00 pm Friday night) and that she also was having a birthday party for her child and that I needed to be reasonable and give her more time. (I think the comment about bringing in a repairman was to guilt me into acquiescing) Numerous times I offered to input the information for her and she would not have that. She spent ten minutes yelling at me (and I have to admit, I started yelling back) when in those ten minutes, I could have had all of her information input.

Well, by the time I got off the phone with her (she had hung up on me again), I was very frustrated. This leader sent me an email which was not very kind. I wrote an email to my boss (BTW, I was a volunteer in that position) and used words that you would use when you are frustrated. I hit the send button and the email was sent immediately.

That was all well and good BUT instead of hitting the “forward” button, I hit the “reply” button. This ranting email, that was meant for my eyes and the eyes of my boss, was sent directly to the person of which I was ranting! I was devastated!!!!

So now not only did I need to phone my boss and explain what I had just done (at 10:00 at night), I needed to apologize to the volunteer for my inappropriate words. After I made those phone calls, I immediately went to my email settings and changed how my emails were sent. I would never allow my words written in frustration to go out straight away. I would take the time to mull over what I had written and make sure that it represents who I am.

I will not say that I am perfect in what I say or write. But I will say that I was greatly humbled by what transpired that night.

I do make sure that if I say words in anger, they are not words I will regret at a later date. I make sure that what I write represents who I am. I make sure that what I say in confidence is something which does not shame me if that confidence is broken.

I do believe in freedom of speech. But I also believe that just because you have that right, it does not mean you should say anything you want. I do believe you have to take others into consideration. It is so important that I “do unto others…” I truly wish there were more people out there that thought of the consequences of their words and the way they are used.

There are two things that stick in my mind about my mother: 1) I have never heard her swear, not even a “gosh” or “golly” and 2) I have never heard my mom raise her voice or say an argumentative word towards or about my father. She always said that she doesn’t swear because she has too much respect for herself-that her language represents who she is and she does not want foul language to be that representation. WOW, such wisdom.

I want my words to represent who I am. While I regret, terribly, that Friday night when I wrote such wrong things, I wouldn’t change that night for the world because it helped make me a better person. How I wish I could have learned that without the controversy but that is not how it happened.

How can I or how can others in this world get out that message? How do we educate others to believe that their language represents who they are? How do we make the world a better place through OUR words? I hope that maybe my words and my actions could bring people to action. There are so many people out there that say, ‘if this can change the life of just one person…’ well I don’t want that; I want this to impact more than one person.

I WANT TO IMPACT THE WORLD!!!!! I want people to realize that words have the power to uplift or to destroy. My grandfather always said, “Do not raise yourself up by bringing others down.” Once again, such wisdom. I want to be a person who raises others up and in return, makes me a better person, a person that makes my mom proud.

I hope and pray that I have the chance to change the world, one little (but powerful) word at a time.

(Oh and BTW, there was only one suggested change to this blog when I hit the “publish” button)

Lessons from the past

Council Bluffs, IA. 1931

Council Bluffs, IA. 1931

“The more things change, the more they stay the same”, I do not know who said that, but the more I delve into the past, the more I realize the truthfulness in those words.

I have been saying for years that it is going to  be hard to take all of the bad that has been happening in the world and make our world a more innocent place. I keep hoping that somehow, someway, future generations will not have to be faced with so much, in-your-face, death, destruction and promiscuity. Sometimes I see the light of hope but for the most part, I think that the future has a lot to be desired. And then….I see something from the past that makes me think, “The more things change…”

Eighty-two years ago this year, my grandmother graduated from high school. The year was 1931 and the United States was in a depression. Thomas Edison died, and Pearl Buck‘s “The Good Earth” was the best-seller of the year. While times were not easy, I often think that things were much simpler and the world didn’t have near the problems of today. Maybe I should say that I thought things were much easier until I started going through my grandmother’s things.

When she died twenty years ago, I was the recipient of all of her cookbooks (probably 500) and when my grandfather died seven years ago, I received all of the photographs to archive and any other papers, books,  and magazines of interest.Scan10066

One of the things that I just recently reviewed was my grandmother’s graduation journal. There wasn’t much in it, a few names, a couple of photos and a couple of newspaper articles. I found out that her class colors were red and gold. The class flower was the American Beauty Rose and the class motto was: “They conquer who believe they can.” There was nothing on the pages for ‘dances and parties’ or ‘clubs and societies’. So that will remain a mystery to me.

One of the articles was about the Baccalaureate ceremony that was held in her town of Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Sunday, May 31. Grandma wrote that Martha Klotz was her partner for walking down the aisle to be seated for the address. The headline of the newspaper article was “COOPER PREACHES TO A.L. SENIORS” Under the headline, the drop-headline read, “DECLARES WORLD IS CALLING FOR PURITY, CONSECRATION, SACRIFICE.” Below that headline there was a third headline “CITES BIBLE EXAMPLES”.

(As a clarification in case you do not know, a baccalaureate address is a church service for the graduating seniors and their families. When I graduated our baccalaureate was for the four high schools in my community. I do know that my community, where I live now, does not offer a baccalaureate address. I do not know if it is held in any communities anymore with all of this political correctness and separating schools and churches.)

“The world is calling for separation, purity, consecration and sacrifice as portrayed by Abraham, Joseph, Saul of Tarsus and Jesus, more loudly than it did in biblical times, Rev. Francis E Cooper, pastor of the First Baptist church told members of the Abraham Lincoln high school graduating class at the baccalaureate services held at the Broadway theater Sunday morning.

‘Our worth in life will be measured not by our personal happiness but by our personal service, he said.'”

Rev. Cooper went on to compare the above mentioned men of the Bible to the character traits also mentioned above: Abraham with separation, Joseph with purity, Saul (Apostle Paul) consecrated to service and Jesus to sacrifice.

The end of the article has Cooper urging students, “You students are going out in the world with your soul in your hands. Remember the law of Christ.”

While I understand that we are not a world of Christians, I think we can all agree that there are lessons that come from a faith/religion that apply to all people’s no matter what their faith. Can we all agree that the premise of the Ten Commandments is good? Do we not want to teach our children not to lie, not to steal, not to kill, etc…? I think if we look passed the fact that the laws came from Moses, who received them from God, we should be able to agree that they are good rules in which to live.

Reverend Cooper did not go into details as to why he felt he needed to deliver the words that he did. I can only imagine that he felt that there was too much promiscuity and too many other things happening that broke the Laws of Moses. I have to think that he felt our world was “going to hell in a hand basket”.

I wish I would have seen this book when my grandmother was alive so I would have had the chance to ask her about it. I wish I would have taken the time to get to know more about her when she was in high school; what was her life like? What challenges did her generation face? Sadly, all of the members of my family from that generation are dead. There is so much that I will never know.

While I still wonder what life is going to be like in the future. While I still worry that we have taken so many steps towards a life without following the Ten Commandments. I can rest assured that Rev. Cooper probably felt the same way that I felt. Because of this, I have hope.

I know that my husband and I are raising our children to follow the Ten Commandments and grow to be great adults, just like my grandparents raised my parents and the way my parents raised me. I pray that my children do the same, so that there is hope in this world, that in the end, goodness wins out.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” There are challenges in every generation to test the character of individuals. And while there are some that fail, it is obvious that over three generations of my family history, goodness has won and we walk in the confidence that we are living our lives with personal service in mind, which gives us great happiness.

While she was not Baptist, I think Rev. Cooper would have been pleased with how Jessie Fogle (maiden name) lived her life and taught service to the future generations of her family.

The Power of a Day

I am amazed how certain days bring about certain feelings; how giddy I am, to this day, when my birthday comes around; how happy I am on my anniversary; or how January 1st makes me think about starting anew.

Years ago, I swore off making New Year’s Resolutions. The theory behind it was that I should try to improve throughout the year and it shouldn’t begin one time a year.

When I decided to lose weight, it began on September 20th. When I accepted Jesus Christ into my life, it was in the fall, not at the beginning of the year. I was engaged on April 1st and married on April 15th. So you see, there have been no major changes in my life that began on January 1st.

So even though I do not make New Year’s Resolutions, I can’t help to think that the beginning of a new year is special. It may not be a resolution, but it is a change.

My change this year has to do with where I spend my time writing. It is a wonderful change but did not come about because I felt I needed a change but because I was being selfish. And maybe selfish is not the correct word, but maybe the correct word will come to me by the end.

I have a family of hunters. I am not a hunter but everyone else in the family is either using a rifle or a bow to help provide food for the family. And that is totally serious; anything that is shot is eaten. (That was another adjustment I needed to make when I became married as I did not grow up with hunting. Getting used to eating and, more importantly, cooking game meat, was a challenge for me.) But I digress!

About November 1st all of the hunting clothes come out and take over my bedroom. They are in storage tubs and stay there until the end of January. While I have gotten used to, and enjoy, game meat, I do not like my bedroom filled with camouflage clothing. I do not like having to look at it from November 1st until February 1st. I needed to find a solution.

My office/craft room was the room next to my husband’s office. It also doubles as the guest room. It is a large room and should have been a great place for an office/craft room because I could have my quilt project out and not have it interfere with my desk. But it never quite felt right. It seemed cold and not conducive to creativity.

I made the decision to give up my nice, spacious, office so the hunters could have a place to store all of their gear in one spot, out of my way. This meant that I needed to find a new spot for me.

It did not take me long to realize I needed to move back to the spot where I felt creative and safe and secure, the attic. I had used this space as my sewing room for quite some time. But when I lost my office due to a remodel, I moved both rooms together. Now I was putting the rooms back together, but in a much more “homey” spot.

My father made my little room about ten years ago. He finished about 25% of the attic by adding a wall and then insulating and paneling the walls and ceiling. This gave me a dressing room which then turned into my sewing room. Years ago, that room was where I went when I was sad. It turned into my sewing room and is a nice get-a-way spot. When I moved to another part of the house. It was a nice room but it was not quite the same.

Now I am back to my small room with its low ceiling (6 1/2 foot). Being short, having a short ceiling is not a problem. Maybe the “dog” in me is coming out. It is said that dogs feel safe and secure in small enclosed spaces. I feel safe and secure in this space and I am glad to be back.

While I do not make New Year’s Resolutions, I am glad that I decided I needed to make a change in my life. I am glad that I have moved back to a place that feels safe and I can get those creative juices flowing. I hope that everyone has a chance to feel that safeness and security, if only because of a room, that I feel now.

Happy Teens, Happy Family, Happy Life

Note: I do inter-change “I” and “we” when I am writing about parenting. In parenting, sometimes it is a joint effort and other times not. So, because of that, I include my husband when it is appropriate and sometimes it is things that I have done individually.

When I woke up this morning in the new year, I thought to myself, ‘What made me most proud in 2012?’ It did not take me long at all to realize that I am most proud of the relationship that I have with my teenage children.

My newly turned 17-year old son and soon to be 15-year old daughter still like being around their parents. We joke; we talk; we shop; we still do most all of the things that we did ten years ago. I know that amongst the friends of my children, I, and my husband, are a rare breed.

Do I have any thoughts as to why this is the case? Of course, I do; we joke; we talk; we shop. That has not changed in my 17 years of parenting. While I say this so confidently, it is not easy. There is a fine line that you walk from being a friend, to a tyrant, to a pushover. And believe-it-or-not, each of those characterizations are just a step away.

My parents were not poor parents; but they also were not very good communicators. To this day, my mom has never spoken with me about sex, or even menstruation. I don’t know if it was just my mom or if it was the times but my sex education was not controlled at all by my parents. Even as a child, I knew that I wanted a different relationship with my children.

I don’t know if I value my children more than other parents. I know that about 22-years ago, my gynecologist told me that I would probably never have any biological children. After buckets of tears and thinking about our options, we decided to pursue an answer as to why we weren’t getting pregnant. Our investigation resulted in me having surgery for endometriosis and being put into menopause at age 32. (That is a whole other writing!) And as I wrote above, 17-years ago, we were blessed with our son. After a miscarriage, God blessed again and we had our daughter.

So you see why I wanted to make sure that I always would have a good relationship with our children. We went from being told we would be childless to being blessed with not one, but two children. I am sure all parents wish for a great relationship with their children. I worked from the time they were born to have the relationship we have today.

How did I do it? I think first of all, I was conscious of what I wanted and I have worked for it. From the beginning, I have always been open in our discussions. When they were younger we did not speak with them as if they were babies; we spoke to them in normal voices and used words, adult words – a penis was a penis; a vagina was a vagina. If I was uncomfortable using words, how could I speak with them about those things? I was determined to be open and honest.

The car was a great place to talk. We drove a lot, so instead of zoning out on music or movies, we would spend the time talking. Because we spoke with each other from the beginning, it was natural that it continued as the kids got older.

We are a family that cussing is not allowed. But the rule is that if you have a question about anything, that rule does not apply. I never wanted my children to think that they could not come to me about anything. We have had wonderful conversations that, I am sure, many parents have not had with their children because they have not been open to anything and everything.

I think we have done a good job in teaching our children to respect authority. It has taken a little bit but we have tried to emphasize that the way they speak with their friends is not the way they speak with us or other adults. We have taught them that there is a level of respect that needs to be given. And even though we want a good relationship with our son and daughter, we have taught them that we are still the adult, still the parent and what we say goes.

I think one of the hardest things that I have had to face is that my daughter’s friends do not want to have any type of relationship with me. After six years of homeschooling, our daughter went back to  public school in 8th grade. While she had church friends, homeschool friends and Girl Scout friends (which by the way, I had relationships with) these new friends wanted/want nothing to do with me.  I think it was shocking for me because I have such a good relationship with her. My guess is that the relationship I have with my daughter is different from the relationship they have with their parents.

Some of her friends think I am the “cool” parent. They also know that we have rules and while they think I am “cool” they also think I am strict. Thankfully our children don’t think we are strict; they think it is just the way it is.

In a nutshell, I believe we have happy teens, a happy family and a happy life because we communicate and we set rules and expectations. We come from a position of love and respect but ultimately, our children know that we are in charge; they do not have carte blanche on their life. We have taught them to be grateful for what they have and always be thankful to God, who gives all.

Happy New Year and I hope that you have a great relationship with the people whom you love!

 

Signs of aging?

We are all aging. We have no other option. Well… the only option that exists is not acceptable to healthy, active individuals – death.  I will never say that death is not an option when there are people out there that are terminal and their time is drawing near. I know that, 20 years ago, when my grandmother was dying from ovarian cancer, I prayed that she die and be at peace and whole again in heaven. BUT, I digress.

forgetfulness, that is my issue right now. It is not the, ‘Oh, I came into this room, what is it that I wanted?’ For me, it seems I am misplacing things or having something in my hand one minute and then absent-mindedly putting it down and then not knowing what I did with the item. And it seems to happening more. And it is driving me crazy because I can’t imagine what my life will be like in five or 10 or 20 years if I am failing this quickly.

Am I getting old or is it that I have too much running through my brain, too much going on in my life that my brain cannot, or refuses to keep it all organized? I would like to think that is my problem not that my brain is going to mush. I like to think that I, as well as many Americans, have taken on too many things and that my mind can’t do all of that multi-tasking. I am pretty sure that things that I am doing are going into short-term memory and shorter term memory and so when I hop from one thing to another, it gets lost.

Years ago, I stopped making New Year’s resolutions. I took on the responsibility of trying to be a better person because that is the right thing to do, not because I resolved to do it on New Year’s Day. It just so happens that at this time of the year, I have been misplacing things more often. In trying to get ready for Christmas, my son’s birthday, going on a winter vacation, I have had a few problems with being absent-minded. I believe it is just not thinking, not that I am getting old, senile, or Alzheimer’s. I have had way too much on my mind.

So, I have decided that I need to be in the moment and not elsewhere at whatever I am doing. That way, when I am organizing my basement and put down my coffee cup, I don’t forget where I put it. And btw, that is what happened on Wednesday, I put down my 24 oz. coffee mug, a very large mug, and it took me ten minutes to find it on my pantry shelf in the basement. I am going to start making lists again, which is how I lived my life before children. So I guess if you call that a resolution, since it is close to the first of the year, I am making a resolution.

“I resolve, to be in the moment and to slow my brain down. I resolve to be better organized through list-making. I plan to make better use of my time which will not make me feel like I need to rush from thing to another. While I may be busy, I resolve to make it manageable through organization. If I find that I am still losing things, I will either #1  work on cutting back what I do or #2 see if there is something physiologically wrong with me.”

Signs of aging, I hope not; I hope it is signs of disorganization and too much multi-tasking.