Monday, August 25, 2014

Play Fair!

They gave us the practice schedule months ago.  I looked at it and compared it to the other ten thousand things that she wanted to do.  We might have had to make some adjustments or choices about activities due to her preferences. because we just can't simply do it all.  She was selected for a team, and we were thrilled that it worked out with our schedule.  Had it not, she would have had to given up something else; because this was her first choice.  We were told that kids were placed on teams according to what the instructors thought was the "best suited" for them, and lucky for us; she got on the team we were hoping she would.  She worked hard all summer as did many, but sadly some did not make a team....not the one they wanted or any at all....because they couldn't find a good fit for them.  Disappointment like that is so hard on mothers and kids. lessons.  So when the teams were announced and one player realized there is a conflict with another activity he/she had, is it okay to ask to be put on another team?  After the try-outs?  After the teams were formed?  After there were some very disappointed kids who weren't chosen?  After they were specifically placed on this team, because it was "best suited" for them?  After they had known the practice schedule for the last few months?  After someone else lost out on the opportunity to be on a team, but now there is this spot?  Will they fill it or not?  If they fill it, that child will always know he/she was the runner up.  For some kids, that wouldn't matter at all; and they would be grateful.  For some, it will always haunt them.  As a person who tries very hard to be sensitive to others' feelings and who works diligently on making schedules to accommodate our family and who would make her child choose one thing over another, and make them stick to their choice when it was discovered there was a conflict; I find this whole scenario annoying.  I'll step down from my soapbox now.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Just Like That....They're Off!

And just like that....they're off to another school year.  Summer has come to an end, and it is bittersweet.  Remind me not to wait so late to go on vacation next summer.  We were getting very antsy, cranky and a little tired of each other before we went; and then we came back and is starting.  I feel like I should have another month off.  We did have a great vacation.  Oh how I love the ocean! SIGH!  For the first time since I can remember, I am ready for school to start.  I think that's because I can see much needed down time and a lot of needed organizational time in my future.  For the first time in over 20 years, I am truly a stay home mom.  I have been so fortunate to be able to work part-time for the majority of the last 17 years, but I have never truly been a stay home mom.  NPayne has worked hard and diligently, so that I was able to work part-time...spending a majority of my time at home.  I am thankful.  This past January, he mentioned that he thought I should "do something else".  "Like what?" I asked.  He suggested I work on my photography business.  I thought that sounded awesome, but not having a steady income scared me.  I prayed about it a lot, and I could hear God telling me "DO IT".  I thought it would be nice to spend more time with my mom, volunteer at the kids' schools, keep the house tidy, organize so much stuff,  and work on this; but I ignored God.  I signed my teaching contract with plan of returning in August.  Then my mom got very sick and died unexpectedly in May, and it has been soooo hard.  I have found myself battling those demons of depression once again.  I am also easily overwhelmed by busyness, and we are slowly starting a remodel/renovation.  Then there's the fact that my oldest is a senior, and I've heard the senior year is a part-time job for parents.  Plus she has senior release every day....I kind of have this sugary vision of us window shopping, having coffee and going for long walks a few days/week.  If she reads this, she will probably think I'm crazy.  One day in June, I woke up and clearly heard God's voice tell me again "DO IT".  I resigned from my job, decided to focus on my photography business, this, my kids, my house and myself.  Maybe that sounds selfish to some or exciting to some or extravagant to some, and maybe it is; but I'm also nervous and a little unsure.  I've already filled my calendar with "To Do's" and chores, so that I won't end up sitting on the couch, drinking coffee pinning my life away.  Don't get me wrong, I will have days when I do that; but I want to be productive and stick with my vision of promoting my business, volunteering, eating lunch with my kids, Bible Study....lots of it, working on our remodel, making myself better for my family.  I've already been thinking that this will probably be the only year that I take off, but you never know.  And I've already been thinking that this may take up lots of my time, but again you never know.  We'll see, but for now; I'm ready for tomorrow.  I am not, however, ready for the alarm clock, paperwork, taxi driving and GRADUATION! And I wish I was spending every Wednesday morning and more with my mom.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bad Food, Back to Reality!

Back to reality and even worse....back to the end of summer. I had good intentions regarding eating healthy while we where gone, but I failed miserably. Now I must regain control and bid farewell to the following: half priced shakes and sweet raspberry tea from Sonic, mac and cheese, sweet potatoe fries, fancy and sugary coffee drinks, Nutella by the spoonful, grilled cheese sandwiches made like my mama use to make them (cooked in lots of butter and with mayo in the inside), grilled hot dogs, cheese nips, gallons of crunchy peanut butter, spaghetti out of a can, pancakes, bread with butter, Mexican food. Starting my clean eating on Sunday, so excuse me while I drink my coconut cream pie milkshake.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

So there is this thing going on called the ice bucket challenge to help raise money and awareness for ALS. Honestly because I don't watch the news or read the paper, I was a little late in the game hearing about this. I am big into social media, so it was inevitable that I would eventually hear about it. When I read about how much money it has raised vs. money raised in the past, I got curious. I'm all about a cause and how people are effective in raising money. Apparently there is some controversy around this....go figure....there always seems to be controversy about everything. There are thoughts that people are participating in the ice bucket challenge because they are narcissistic and doing it to gain attention. I hadn't thought about it that way and honestly don't really care, as long as they are raising money. I would guess, I do not know for certain, that whoever started this challenge did it for someone they love; and not because of narcissism. What people do with it after that is out of his/her control. I'll be honest when I say that I didn't know that much about ALS except that Michael J Fox has it, and it's also called the Lou Gehrig's disease. I have come across some interesting articles and thoughts regarding this challenge, and I think I stand with this one. If I am raising awareness or money for a cause, that I firmly believe in, or for something that my loved one needs; I don't care if people who are giving the money are narcissistic, self centered, egotistical or not. As long  as nobody is being hurt physically, emotionally, or spiritually; I'm a-ok with it. After all, it's their choice to  participate. As far as the clean wasted water being used, that bothers me to the core. My favorite challenge I've seen thus far was my Facebook friend, Ellen, who dumped the bucket of money she is donating on her head instead of ice. For those who still don't know what ALS is, all I can say about that is....that too is your choice. There are plenty of articles out there especially now. If you want to know, you will. If you don't, you won't. It's that simple.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Heaven Is For Real

We recently did a study on the book Heaven Is For Real in my Sunday School class.  I read the book when it first came out, but I had not seen the movie.  After the first lesson, I realized that I might not should be going to Sunday School for this one; but I went anyway.  It wasn't that I had all the answers or that I ever wondered if heaven is for real that made me wonder if I should be participating in this study, it was that I didn't have all the questions.  I like to consider myself a deep thinker, and I am detail oriented in many areas of my life; but for some....I am just not.  I'm a christian and have been my entire life, and I have never doubted that heaven is for real.  During the study, there were very detailed questions that were presented and many people in my class shared additional detailed questions that they had about heaven.  I, however, did not have those questions.  To be honest without sounding overly confident or completely ignorant, I don't think that much about heaven in that detailed oriented way.  Questions like....When does a soul go to heaven?  What do you think you look like in heaven?  Will we know each other in heaven?  What will we do in heaven?  Who goes to heaven?  Those types of questions have really never entered my thoughts.  It's not that I don't have a picture of heaven, because I do; but it's that when I really think about it....I truly cannot imagine it in its glory.  If I am going to be completely honest, the only reason I have really even imagined heaven and what it might be like, is because I have loved ones who have gone.  My thoughts of them in heaven are beautiful ones, and I don't see a reason to imagine it any other way or question if that's what it is really like.  I sort of imagine it as a gazillion times better than what I think it will be.  You know those bits of heaven on earth?  I imagine it like that only so much more joyful.  As for the other details....When we go?  What do you look like?  Will we know each other?  Who goes?  I think we will have those questions answered when we get there, but then we won't have the urge to ask.  As for now, I am okay with "I don't know" as my answer.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

McKinney-Vento Act

I registered my kiddos for school last week....all five of them online.  I have completed residency verification for the two youngest....the other three are this week.  While registering them, there is much to fill out.  When I get to the part that inquires about living conditions....if there is a place to live, running water, heart aches.  It's hard to imagine kids, in my neighborhood, who are homeless or don't have running water or electricity; but they are here. The main thing that I've gained from reading Interrupted the first time and the second is that we are called to serve.  It's not like I haven't known that for years and years, and it's not like I don't serve.  We are a serving family, but there are ALWAYS ALWAYS more opportunities and people to serve.  Sometimes it overwhelms me, and I sit and try to figure it out; but then God will say...."MOVE!"  One of the main things I want my kids to learn is that we are here to glorify God, and one of the ways we do that is through service. I remember a few years ago, a good friend told me that she asked people what they thought of the word "servant".  Many of them thought of it as a in a slave or someone forced to serve people.  It was so odd to me, because I had never ever associated of the word "servant" with anything but positive.  Maybe because my parents were very good servants as well.  They weren't big church goers, as you have read in past posts long ago; but they were good servants...among other things.  When I was young, we didn't have a lot; but I never really realized that.  And when I think about it, I know now that we had plenty; but my parents were generous and served others well.  As I grew and my parents became more successful....mainly my mom....we had an abundance.  I never went without anything, and they were more generous and served well.   I didn't really realize that there might be kids that I knew who didn't have a home or electricity.  It wasn't until I was an older teen or young adult when those realizations were in my face....especially when I met my better half.  NPayne and his family did without a lot....they did have a place to live, but not always running water or electricity.  He worked hard as a young teen to help his family, and he still works hard to help his family.  He has one of the biggest giving hearts of anyone I know, and it has made me want to serve that much more.  It has made our kids want to serve.  It has made many want to serve.  The McKinney-Vento Act has been designed to help children who are homeless through their school districts.  It may be hard to imagine kids, in your neighborhood who go to school with your kids, who don't have a place to live; but they wouldn't have this act if there weren't.  This year instead of letting my heart ache and then moving on,  I am going to do something to help.  I am not sure what that will look like yet, but God knows.  Want to join me?

Friday, August 8, 2014 I appreciate you.

I just read this story on the Autism Speaks website, and it reminds me a lot of Cal.  He didn't speak until he was 3 1/2, and then he used only echolalia.  I remember being so thankful that he was talking, but that is how I also knew things were different for him.  Although he was verbal, he did not comprehend much of language....written, spoken or otherwise.  This is still a struggle for him.  On the flip side, he "gets" some things like humor that we were told he would not ever relate to.  My boy, like many with autism, repeats the same things over and over and over....literally hundreds of times in a day.  He will get fixated on something (right now it's our upcoming vacation) and ask the same questions hundreds of times....."What is on August 16th?  Why is Galveston our vacation?  Why is Galveston a beach?  Why is Galveston so far away?"  I think it's his way of reassuring himself that we are in fact going on a vacation on August 16th to Galveston the beach and are not planning to spring a change of plans on him.  He is not a fan of uncertainty.  He thrives on routine and schedule.  Last year Bryna played on a basketball team with a sweet little girl who also had a brother with autism.  Her brother, and Cal, had a lot in common and a lot not in common.  Her brother would eat anything....literally anything.  Cal has a very restricted diet (by his own choosing), which is getting better with lots of therapy; but still very restricted.  Her brother couldn't stand the sound of the buzzer at the basketball games, and his mom would oftentimes take him out of the gym when it was going to go off.  Cal cannot stand the sound of the buzzer either, and when he was younger; he wouldn't have been able to stay in the gym without screaming in frustration when it went off.  Now he watches the clock methodically and covers his ears at just the right time...he's coping...yea Cal!  Her brother was completely non-verbal.  Cal has many words and uses them often....sometimes I have to give him the hand which means....quiet for a moment please.  Of course I have to do this to my typical 10 year old and 13 year old too.  Cal asks questions all day long....I mean literally ALL DAY LONG!  After I have answered his question completely, I will usually respond with "Asked/Answered".   He knows this means you've already asked me that question, and  I've already answered that question; and he will walk away.  Sometimes I simply don't reply, and again he will walk away.  Neither of these stop him from asking, they just prolong the time in between the questions.  Last year Cal attempted to play basketball for special olympics.  While at a practice, Neil recognized the brother and mother (mentioned above) from Bryna's basketball team.  And she recognized them too.  They began to talk and share things about their boys....both on the spectrum.   While talking to her, he was explaining how Cal needs to constantly be reassured, so he asks you the same questions over and over and over all day long.  He was telling her that Cal still uses a lot of echolalia from TV shows or situations that he is reliving, and that it doesn't usually make sense to anyone who is not aware.  He explained how it can sometimes be annoying to others...and from time to time annoying to even us.   She listened and then she quietly said, "What I wouldn't give to hear echolalia".   It was a sweet reminder that we need to be grateful always for every milestone in his life, and we are....believe me we are.  Like with all of our children, sometimes we need a reminder to be grateful for what they can do and not focus on what they cannot.  Having Cal has taught us so much about life, mainly about living it to the fullest and appreciating every little thing, especially things that can easily be taken for granted.  Simple things bring him happiness, and that helps all of us to remember that joy can be found in the ordinary.  There are many things that Cal doesn't do that I long for, but there are many things that he does do that I would have never dreamed he would. I am thankful.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


It's summer, and I love summer; but I don't love the end of summer.  Our bad habits will soon be catching up with us and rearing their ugly heads in full force.  I have made asked my children to start getting up early...10:00 or so...yes that is early in our house on a day when you can sleep as late as you want.  We are sleepers people.  NPayne use to ask them to get up at school time about a week or so before school started, and I put a stop to that immediately.  He thought it was a good idea to have them get back into the school morning routine, but I DID NOT!  They are going to be cranky for a good solid week when they have to start getting up at school time, and I don't want any part of that.  Unfortunately they live with me, so I will be forced to take part when that occurs.  My reasoning is as follows:  they are going to be cranky and whiny, so why would I want them to be cranky and whiny when they are home with me all day long right before school starts?  That is plain ludicrous.  NPayne is at work, so he doesn't deal.  Instead we just go cold turkey, and the first time they get up at school time is on the first day of school.  I know some of you think I'm crazy and are appalled that I let my kids sleep until 10:00 until the first day of school (except on church days), but that is how I like it.  We are sleepers people and that includes me!  At least when they are cranky and whiny, most of that behavior will be at school (which doesn't happen, believe me, they save it for home).  Then I only have to deal with cranky and whiny in the afternoons and evenings, and they will be sooooo tired they want to go to bed early.  WIN WIN FOR ALL!  After a week or two, the routine will set in; and we will be one big happy family again.  But for those first few weeks, I wouldn't advise stopping by for a visit; or you might be greeted with gnawing and gnashing of teeth, weeping and some yelling.  I love my people, we are just unfriendly without sleep. That's just how we roll.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What would you give up for Jesus?

I am honored to be reading Interrupted again, and again I love it and am irritated by it.  I have been asking myself this question for quite some time now:
What would I struggle to give up if Jesus wanted to use my life to make a difference in the world?
Coincidentally that is the same question that Jen proposed we post for discussion regarding her book, but it reads this way:
What would YOU struggle to give up if Jesus wanted to use YOUR life to make a difference in the world?

Luke 18:20-28New International Version (NIV)

20 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’[a]
21 “All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
26 Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”
27 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
The first time I read this scripture, I remember wondering how this would apply to me; because I am not wealthy.  As the years have gone by, and I have listened, learned and researched; I have discovered that my family is very more ways than one...but for this post, I am specifically referring to monetary wealth and "stuff".  According to Jen's research, if you make $35,000/year; you are in the top 4 percent of the wealthiest people in the world.  If you make $50,000/year, you are in the top 1 percent of the wealthiest people in the world.  1.2 billion people live on 23 cents/day, that is $83.95/year.  My family spends that or more monthly on dance class, eating out, gasoline, clothing items, and the list goes on.  I remember thinking what do we spend our money on, and why don't we have any leftover?  We are not blowers and goers, and I don't consider my family frivolous; but we definitely are in some areas.  My kids don't ask for a lot, they just don't; but there are times when (one in particular) will suggest we eat out, or get some ice cream, or a frappuccino.  I'm not saying those things are bad, and we have some wonderful family time together doing those things together.  What I am saying is that I want my children and myself to never take those things for granted.  I find myself often irritated at our children's, but mostly my own...and I do admittedly say "there are starving people in the world", but I don't say it lightly.  I want them to know it's true and when I say "NO" to something, I want them to understand that they NEVER do without.  I have explained the stats to them.  I can't tell you how many times I've said, "for the price of one happy meal, we can feed a starving child for a month".  Needless to say, we never eat happy meals anymore.  If we spent $5.00/day on frappuccions, that would be $1,825/year.  We could sponsor 7.6 Aids orphans each year, through our church, for the price of one cold coffee drink per day.  Imagine how many starving children we could feed.  I'm not trying to guilt anyone into giving up their coffee, believe me I love my coffee.  I am just trying to make myself, my kids and others aware of how we spend and often take these things for granted.  On a side note, when I use the term "we"; it is generalized.  There are many people who do a lot, and I am not judging anyone on how they choose to spend their money.  I am grateful that we are able to choose.  So think about it, what would you struggle to give up for Jesus?  Would it be "stuff", money, status, relationships?  Would you give up your life?  I would struggle to give up a lot, some things that I would willingly talk about and some that I am too embarrassed to mention.  I like my "stuff", and giving it up would not be easy peasy.  However I have started to embrace the "struggle" over the last 8 years or so and have started doing more and giving more, and I have realized that one person can make a difference.....ONE PERSON!  But just when I start feeling like I'm doing good and patting myself on the back, I read something like this:
"He laid down His own life at the appointed time-not under coercion or constraint, not because His reckless message finally caught up with Him.  Jesus assured us that every time it seemed He was being forced against His will, He wasn't.  He was choosing that.  Embracing that moment, the culmination of God's redemptive plan for mankind.  All of heaven waited with baited breath as the King became the Lamb and humanity was finally rescued."  (page 55)   Dang it Jen Hatmaker.....thanks!  Thanks a lot!  I am talking about giving up cold coffees, and Jesus chooses His life.  I pray that I will listen to where He leads me, and embrace what He tells me....especially if it means giving up everything.

Friday, August 1, 2014

I am not a fashion expert!

I like clothes and SHOES....A LOT....especially boots!  I love fashion, but I am definitely no expert.
I just recently got a manicure and a salon....not in my bathroom.
I have no idea what gel nails are.
I cut and color my own hair.
I don't iron....EVER!
None of my clothes require dry cleaning.
I buy most of my clothes and all of my beauty products the same place I buy dog food, protein bars and toilet paper.
I am horrible at applying make up, but I do it anyway.
If I like it, I can afford it, and it looks decent; I buy it and figure out how to wear it later.
I can't refer you to a salon, because I don't go to one.
If it's suppose to "go" together, I probably won't wear it together.
I don't really buy into the "that look is too young/old for you" adage...if you like it, wear it!
If it's funky, it will probably end up in my closet.
So....I love fashion, but I am no expert...but that doesn't stop me!


I've withdrawn....I HATE (which I think is such a harsh word, but very appropriate here)....I HATE to admit it, but I've withdrawn.  I have struggles...many of which are unspoken, have never been spoken, seem small to most, and I often think are just silly....but still they are there.  One thing I've realized over the last year is that struggles are going to happen, some are worse than others, some can be resolved while some gnaw at your inner most being.  I have sought refuge in God for most of my adult life when it came to struggles.  I have done exactly what many claim....leaned in hard, been a seeker when things were difficult, grown closer to Jesus; but since my mom died....I have withdrawn from my family, my friends, my Jesus. I have come to realize this over the last few months, and I don't necessarily think it was intentional.  I found myself going a few days and realizing that I had not read my Bible.  I found myself resistant to pick it up, to reach out to Him or anyone else.   I know that Jesus is there, and I have felt Him more than a dozen times; but still I have withdrawn.  It wasn't until today while reading these words in Jesus Calling that I think I've figured out why....
"In the midst of adverse circumstances, people tend to feel that love has been withdrawn and they have been forsaken.  This feeling of abandonment is often worse than the adversity itself.  Be assured that I never abandon any of My children, not even temporarily.  'I will never leave you or forsake you!'  My Presence watches over you continually. 'I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.'"  I have never felt unloved, but I have definitely felt abandoned.  In a world full of people who love me, I have felt as alone as I ever have before.  It's a feeling I can't explain, but one that exists for many.  As I pondered these words and felt a wave of relief when I read them, I think I know now why I have withdrawn.  I thought my feelings of abandonment, loneliness, brokenness were not relatable to most who are around me.  If I share this with anyone, they will think I should have moved on, this is silly, isn't the grieving period over for you?,  this is a burden to them.  This is a burden to Him.  There are people, that I know personally, who have and are suffering so much more than I; and I don't need to burden anyone with this right now.  So what should I do....just keep it to myself.  They don't want to hear about this.  These are all things I've thought over the last few months, and what I was reminded of today when I read Jesus Calling is struggles are mine, nobody else's, nobody really knows what I'm feeling, not to minimalize my feelings....because they are important to Jesus.  I am important to Jesus, and HE will never abandon me but will always comfort me.  There are always going to be situations that are worse than mine and maybe yours, but it is important to deal with your grief, feelings, situation knowing Jesus is holding your hand.  Turn to those who love you and let them hold your hand too!  AMEN!