Friday, December 11, 2009

Company Girl Coffee 12/11/09..The Passing of Another Year

I am getting older! (Notice the distinction between getting old- which is just kind of sad and getting older- which is a mark of wisdom, passage and a cause for celebration!)I am happy to say that yesterday I celebrated my 35th birthday!

Oh, Ladies, it was a wonderful birthday! One of the best yet! Full of heartwarming moments, tender hugs, MANY refrains of "Happy Birthday to you!" (sung in wide variety of keys- G, C and Off;), and lots and lots of love....Absolutely wonderful! Not at all my usual- plan a big party, have everyone over and eat lots of cake type birthday, but low key...good morning birthday hugs from my munchkins, breakfast with good friends, coffee and a new book at Borders, lunch with my dear husband, a little shopping, visiting with my business partner and the mini-stirfry, and then dinner with my family. Absolutely beautiful. My heart is overflowing with gratitude.

As for this past two weeks, much has happened.

1) My partner Kim and I are working on a new online project for moms. Look for it to debut in the next couple of weeks.

2) I have been asked to come on as a facilitator for a company called "The Peaceful Woman," which leads spiritual women's retreats in Maui - be in prayer for me about this decision- it is a huge time commitment, and I haven't fully gotten the green light from God on it yet, but am very excited about the possibility!

3) I got the dates for my summer tour with Inspired Girls, Inc. We will be doing Success Summits for young women ages 13-19 in 9 cities around the nation this summer. It is a fabulous program and I am so excited and blessed to be a part of it. Watch for more info on IG Success Summits to come soon!

4) Inspired Girls is taking 15 young women to Rio de Janeiro in July to experience International Life and Leadership Camp. I can't begin to tell you how excited I am to be a part of this camp! We will be serving in a Brazilian orphanage while focusing on several aspects of personal development for the girls. If you know a young lady who would like to apply, check out the website at www.seegirllead.com

5) Last, but not least, Strings Attached Ministries FINALLY has a home! I am so excited to share my heart with you! Please go check it out...roam around and let me know what you think! www.stringsattachedministries.wordpress.com

I love you guys! You have been such fabulous cheerleaders and supporters and I truly look forward our weekly check ins...Thank you so much! Have a great Company Girl Friday! www.homesanctuary.com

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's so hard to say goodbye (NOT)- Xander's saga...the final chapter...


Hello Blogosphere! I am so excited to pass on this latest information on my son...but, first a bit of background. In October of 2007, Xanman was diagnosed with a disease called Eosiniphilic Esophagitis (say that five times fast!) At the time, we knew little about the disease and its treatment and were completely overwhelmed by the diagnosis to say the least. For more information about this disorder, check out www.apfed.org.

Basically, I learned that for five years I had been killing my son with his food. Turns out this sort of revelation does not make one feel particularly good about her mothering skills. We made changes to our diet, began to "eat only" chicken, rice, quinoa, millet, some veggies and some fruits. Everything else (and yes, this is no exaggeration) was off limits. We began a series of quarterly endoscopies with biopsies to check his progress and a heartwrenching back and forth of "he's better/ he's not".

At one point last winter, we were told that his only option for improvement in his condition was more medication, elimination of ALL foods and implantation of a stomach tube for feedings of elemental formula. Charlie and I discussed, and prayed and felt that this course of action, for us, was too extreme. So we took a different course. We discontinued meds, stopped quarterly scopes, started regularly chiropractic treatments and vitamin therapy and continued to follow a strict diet.

Today, I am happy to report that his Pediatric GI released him from further scopes. She said and I quote, "You are doing great...I don't think you need me anymore!" AMEN! I did a jig right there in the office.

Xander still has to follow a very strict diet and understands that his food choices can negatively impact his health, but he knows they are HIS choices to make and that is a powerful distinction. HE controls his health, not a doctor, or a health system, or even *gasp* me!

Thank you all for praying. We still covet those prayers, but are totally claiming this victory for the Lord!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Family and Festivities: My Latest A-ha...

" There are no individuals in this world. Only fragments of families."
Carl Whitaker


So I've talked a lot lately about the lessons my Marriage Champions class is teaching me these days. From "smiling socks" to communication styles, it seems like each week as I am sharing with the group from examples from our marriage that I have an "A-ha" moment that kind of rocks my world. A couple of weeks ago, I go t smacked with an epiphany that really highlighted a giant area of strain in our relationship.

Now don''t get me wrong, we are both well aware of this smoking woodpile about to burst into flame in our relationship, I have just never been able to get over my point of view to take a look through Charlie's window...and really had no idea what to do about it.

What is IT? The little scab that always seems to get infected this time of year? The holidays. Not the holiday itself really, but the way our individual families of origin celebrate them.

So we were talking about our family of origin and how it effects the way we show up in our relationships. I was sharing the story about my first Christmas with Charlie's family and how I cried myself to sleep on Christmas Eve because the way his family conducted their festivities was so foreign to me. I had never spent Christmas away from my family and not only was I terribly homesick, but I had no frame of reference for how to act or what was coming next. Charlie's family was wonderful and gracious, but I was terribly sad.

Charlie's parents divorced when he was young, so Christmas Day is spent in this kind of progressive celebration from house to house. Each celebration was with a small nucleus of the family, maybe 6-7 people and was quiet and intimate. Looking back on it, I probably should have rejoiced in the multiple celebrations and the opportunity to get to know each family on a more personal level, but I was simply too stunned by the stark contrast between our celebrations. My family all descends on one home- aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents - usually about 25-30 people, sometimes more. There is a huge amount of wrapping paper, food, football and uncles and cousins talking in ever louder tones to be heard over one another. It is beautiful chaos.

After 12 years of marriage, I have learned to love Charlie's family's Christmas rituals and have even brought some back to my family (the Kaufman Family Secret Wassail is now a staple in the Welch household- thank you Grandpa Mikey!) However, the celebrations are still intensely different and I still get a little unsettled by it.

As I was telling the story of this first Christmas in Maryland to our class, something occurred to me that I hadn't ever realized before. I realized that when telling the story I had never drawn the contrast before in such a way. Charlie's Christmas- quiet and intimate; mine- beautiful chaos. Hmmmm....

Our argument always centers around two things. When we are in Maryland- I get tired of going, I want to snuggle in, stay put, and argue loudly about politics and football ...and I don't have a place in the kitchen which is where I generally busy myself. I don't really know what to do with myself, so I resort to my defense mechanism: irritability and withdrawal- not exactly great behavior on Christmas. When we are in Arkansas- Charlie gets tired of the noise and same scenery...he wants to get up and go and to talk about life and get caught up with each other....he doesn't have a place on the couch or running errands which is where he usually busies himself. He gets overstimulated and overwhelmed, so he resorts to his defense mechanism: shutdown and withdrawal. I never realized that for every time I have been uncomfortable at his family's celebrations, he has too. I am just more vocal about how I am feeling.

So what to do with all this new found insight? Well, I don't know what works for you. For us, the solution is around defining our expectations. Both of us, for our holiday. What do we want to see happen, where do we want to fit, what do we need to make this our best year ever? And a lot of it is just understanding and recognizing why it is that we feel we need to withdrawal and work to eliminate that sense of discomfort.

Thanksgiving is upon us...kicking off the whirlwind of activity and celebration that is the Christmas season. It is also generally when we experience a lot of stress. I encourage you married folks to take a look at your spouse and try to remove THIS one piece of stress. Try to set aside your point of view for a moment, and look at it from your spouse's. Is there a place for them in your family's celebration? Can you make one?

I'd love to hear about your celebrations and traditions. What do you do? What are the differences between you and your spouse's families and the way they celebrate the holidays?

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Heart Belongs to the Caribbean....

Ok. Well not really…my heart belongs to Jesus Christ, who entrusted part of it to my earthly husband, Charlie Kaufman…but after that…my heart belongs to the Caribbean.

I have on many occasions said “I am a flower that blooms in the sun.” Never has there been a truer statement than on our trip to Cancun two weeks ago. What a beautiful place. Man, the Mayans totally knew how to pick a location. I have seen God’s glory played out in breathtaking locales before, but something about the whole area around Cancun resonated with me.

We arrived on a Sunday afternoon after a 12 hour day of traveling, but even that couldn’t dampen the wonder and excitement that I felt surrounded by water the color of, well…the color of the Caribbean…Have you ever been there? Been to a place that had colors that could only be described by that place? It is like trying to describe what a tree looks like to a blind man. Anyway, I haven’t the words…so I will include pictures.

The people….ah, the Mexican people. I fell in love with the people. With the language. With the accent of a natural born Mexican speaking my own home language. Beautiful. With the intellect and wit. With the cultural, spiritual and historical knowledge. I know I was in a resort city and that there must be places where everyone is not this way, but it truly doesn’t matter. I fell in love with Cancun. I have decided that there are words that are much easier to say in Spanish than in English, and thus, I brought home my own version of Spanglish (simply because I have a VERY limited Spanish vocabulary) that I hope doesn’t offend any native born speakers, but it honestly is a sign of adoration.

And the food….I miss the homemade pork tacos and hand milled masa tortillas and empanadas…I don’t miss the extra ten pounds I gained, but es no matter. I enjoyed every bite.

I think my biggest take away from the whole experience was the art of a joyful spirit. I am still working on this one. But the single biggest impact this trip had on me was the beauty of the joyful spirit the people around me had. Right down to the woman whose job it was to squigee the marble when it rained to keep it dry (it rained a lot while we were there- perhaps you heard of Hurricane Ida?) This was an endless job and she did it all the while with a joyful spirit. A spirit of gratitude. A person once told me that they had “never met a bitter person that was thankful or a thankful person that was bitter.” How true is this?

So as we enter into Thanksgiving week. Let’s do this: let’s seek out the wonder and awe in our everyday lives. The drudgery…the mundane…the squigee on the marble….I am thankful that I have a dishwasher…and dishes to put in said dishwasher…and food to make said dishes dirty so that I can put them in said dishwasher….wow…I am full….of gratitude. Lord, my cup runneth over…and all I can say is, “Thank you!”

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lessons From the Jewelry Box


I am getting dressed this morning and I decided that I had the perfect necklace for the outfit that I was wearing: a triple chained number with beads and such.

As I am rushing through my morning routine, I move to the jewelry box to retrieve aforementioned necklace. Currently, my jewelry box is actually a heart shaped tin where all of my necklaces live in a jumbled mess all woven together in a crazy puzzle of knotted chains and twisted beads.

Okay. Deep calming breath, center myself. I am going in to the labyrinth, fingers crossed, praying that the necklace I want will be laying easily on top. Crap! The particular necklace I’m after is one of those triple chained things with tiny chains and sporadic beads and it is inextricably tangled with another necklace. Ugh!

Thinking to myself, “Self, I don’t have time for this.” And nervously watching the minutes tick by as I work to free each one of the strands from one another, I make progress, but painfully slowly.

Finally frustrated, I plop down in the floor, legs spread out and begin to really focus on the issue at hand. It is a matter of principle now. I WILL NOT let a cheesy $6 necklace get the best of me! I work and work, but finally get to a point where, as I am looking at the necklaces intertwined as they are, I simply cannot see how to continue to make forward progress. The situation looks totally hopeless. Completely complicated. Far too time consuming.

“Ugh! I give up!” I exclaim to the jumbled knot of chains. Throwing my hands up in exasperation, I let go of the offending tangle. As I did, the long chain slipped easily away from the necklace I was working diligently to free.

Oh! Hmmm….Many times in life we are faced with challenges. Sometimes seemingly insurmountable ones. But we work and work to find a solution, pushing hard to get the situation to submit to our will. But God doesn’t always want us to continue to manipulate our environment until WE stumble unwittingly onto the solution. Sometimes he wants us to trust that He has it all under control….if we just let go.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Company Girl Coffee 11/19/09

!Hola! He echado de menos a todos mucho!

(I THINK that is Spanish for "Hi! I have missed you all so much!" But for my Spanish readers out there, I would love to KNOW that that is what I have started this post with!;)

The past two months have been an absolute whirlwind for me. In a crazy wonderful way, which is exactly how I like it. My friends have taken to calling it my fall tour. I like the sound of that. I think I will call it that as well. My "fall tour" started in October with a trip to Maryland. That trip doubled as both a vacation for my family and work for me. It was a wonderful learning experience. At times both difficult and beautiful, and at times fun and exciting- I came away from that trip a changed person. As did my husband...interestingly enough. He discovered a delight in our children in a new way, and it has transformed him into an even better father and husband than he was. I discovered limitations within myself that I hadn't encountered before, that I am now working to break through to improve both myself and my retreats. I learned an enumerable amount about my Gracious and All Powerful Lord, and about the enemy of my soul and his weaknesses. It was a ten day trip that has changed my life forever as well as the movement of this ministry.

Strings Attached is growing in both recognition and quality. With each retreat, I learn new things, about myself, about the ministry and about the women I work with. I love it, and am daily filled gratitude that I have found my purpose in this life. What a blessing!

We are moving forward with our website development and hope to have it up by the end of the year (YAY!) I am working on two books: one a ministry leader's guide to connecting with women in the church and a second that explores friendship through difficult times. The curriculum of Strings Attached is slowly being recorded to DVD format and will hopefully soon be available as a church enrichment program. So needless to say, the past few months have been crazy busy!

The retreat last weekend was wonderful! I led it for my home church, Immanuel Baptist Church in Rogers, Arkansas. Not only was a wonderful weekend with friends, but it was the best Strings Attached retreat yet! You can check out the slide show in the post below.

Before that, Charlie and I went to Cancun, Mexico for his brother's wedding. That trip is a blog post in and of itself (check back on Monday- it's scheduled to post then!)...all I can say is that my heart belongs to the Caribbean! The beautiful blue ocean and white sandy beaches were literally awe-inspiring.

So we come to today. The week before Thanksgiving 2009. I find myself prone to reflection on this crazy wonderful year. So much growth, personally, for me and my husband and my business partners and my family. So much is different, and yet it all feels like such a natural progression that it is not shocking in any way. What an amazing year it has been...and you know what one of the best parts is? I started this blog...finally! After years of saying I would. I did. And as a result, I found you guys- my coffee buddies! So sit with me, have a cup of tea (or coffee if you must), maybe a few of my gluten free scones, and reflect on what we are thankful for this year...I'll go first: I am thankful for you all! Now it's your turn...what are you thankful for?


Thursday, November 19, 2009

IBC Princess Retreat


My Father is the King of kings...and that makes me a Princess!


video

Wow! What a wonderful time we had at the Women's Ministry Retreat for Immanuel Baptist Church in Rogers. Twenty one other women and I drove 55 mins to Sonshine Mountain Retreat Center (http://www.tcwm.org/Sonshine-Mountain-Retreat-Center.html) in Mountainburg, Arkansas. It was a beautiful facility with an even more beautiful view! I highly recommend it for your retreat or family reunion.

Anyway, what a wonderful beginning to the Strings Attached Ministry at our church. Together, we shared our hearts, our minds, our laughter and our quiet moments with our Lord. Thank you, IBC Princesses for fully engaging and for opening up your hearts and minds to all that the Lord had to say. For those Princesses that missed it, I ain't gonna lie, you missed a rowdy, fun time! But rest assured, there will be more! We need you!

You are a vital piece of the puzzle! Without you, our picture is incomplete!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Have a cup of tea (or coffee) and stay a while....


!Bienvenidos!

Hello Ladies! It has been a long time....lots has happened in the last few weeks. First of all, uber-busy....craziness....and I wish that I had time to tell you all that has been going on, but I am preparing to leave to lead a retreat this weekend. I did want to touch base and say hello to you all! I have posted several new posts in the last several week, I would love it if you stayed a while and checked them out...feel free to comment!

By the way....Mexico in November rocks!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day Speech: What the Star Spangled Banner means to me....

By popular request, here is the Veteran's Day speech I gave today at a local middle school. This was the original script and I am positive that I did not stick to it, but since I can't really remember what else I said, this will have to do;)

What the Star Spangled Banner means to me….

I am a soldier. A retired soldier, true, but once an army chick- always an army chick. I have heard this song sung more times than I can count and honestly it doesn’t matter where or when or who sings it, it stops me in my tracks.

Just last week, we were in Cancun, Mexico for a wedding. The resort we were staying at played the World Series every night on the beach (by the way, watching baseball is WAY more enjoyable on the beach!) One night, we were walking out to meet some friends by the pool and heard the National Anthem being played. Call it training, call it conditioning, or, simply call it patriotism. I stopped..middle of the sidewalk, tons of people behind me, put my hand over my heart and sang along. You see, it may be just a song, but to me it represents so much more. It represents the freedoms that our American military fight so hard to protect. It represents a way of life that I thank God for daily. It represents triumph over oppression.

Just in case you don’t know the history behind this song, let me give you the short version. “The Star Spangled Banner” was written by a man named Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812 fought between the British and the Americans (as well as the French and Indians.) There were many causes of this war, but a lot of it boiled down to a desire to uphold national honor for a relatively young nation.

At this point in the war, the Americans weren’t doing so well. We had already lost control of the capital. The White House had been burned and looted and the entire government was on the run. The British had set their sights on the Baltimore harbor, but they had to take Fort McHenry, the point defensive station for the Harbor.

The attack on Fort McHenry began on September 13, 1814 and lasted nearly 25 hours. The British hurled 1500-1800 canonballs at the fort. The Fort repelled two land assaults and on the morning of September 14, 1814, the soldiers at Fort McHenry took down the standard storm flag…torn and shredded by the raging battle and raised a huge 30 ft X 42 ft American flag.

Now a lot of that you may have already known, right? How many of you knew much of this? Good! But did you know that Francis Scott Key was in the harbor on a British ship? No? He was. He was on a mercy mission negotiating the release of an American doctor who was being held as a British prisoner. He was carrying letters from wounded British officers praising the care they had received from this doctor. The British released the doctor, but they had to stay with the British until the attack was over. On the morning of the 14th, Key saw the American flag flying over Fort McHenry, and began writing the verses on the back of one of the letters. It was originally known as a poem called “The Defense of Fort McHenry.”

So now that you know more of the story, let’s look at the words again. Did you know that we traditionally only sing the first verse of the “Star Spangled Banner?” Anyone know how verses there are? There are four. Here is the song in its entirety.

O! say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Every time I hear the words of this poem, I am struck by the sense of total elation that must of come over Key when caught the first gleam of that flag.

Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Can you imagine? The White House has been burned and looted. Washington, DC is completely destroyed and the enemy is marching on our major sea ports. If Baltimore Harbor falls, the entire East Coast is lost. And after an entire day and an entire night of bombs exploding, rockets firing, and people shooting at one another, you are sure all is lost. The country will be retaken by the British.

There is so much smoke from all the cannon fire that you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. You look over the edge of the ship you are on and can barely see the water. You are peering, focusing, straining your eyes, looking for that storm and fire battered flag through the smog and darkness. Over the horizon the sun rises, and in the distance, you see OUR flag waving.

You see in the military world we have guidons. Does anyone know what a guidon is? A guidon is a flag that symbolizes your unit. During battle, it is the rallying point for the troops to fall into formation. The guidon bearer is a soldier selected with the specific duty to carry that flag into battle. Being selected as the guidon bearer is a big deal. It is a position of great honor and responsibility, and the guidon bearer accepts this responsibility to never let the guidon fall, even if he must die to protect it. Because as long as the guidon flies, our unit still exists, still triumphs. THAT is what the American flag is. It is this country’s guidon. Our rallying point, our common shout that despite our differing backgrounds and beliefs, we are blessed to live in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

As long as it flies, it is a symbol that this country is triumphant and strong. The Star Spangled Banner is so much more to me than a song. It is a cry of triumph, a shout of joy, and a roar of pride that our country is great and mighty. It was the same for Francis Scott Key, who was on the verge of losing his country in battle, just as it is the same for us today.

So think about this the next time you hear the Star Spangled Banner. Stopping, hand over heart, and standing at attention is not only a sign of your respect for our country, but a way to honor and join in that cry of triumph. Each time you see our flag, try to understand importance of it waving freely over our ballparks and our schools and our homes.

And remember the last verse, my favorite verse, because this poem wasn’t just about that one fateful night, it was about continuing victory of this country.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave because men and women for the last several hundred years have chosen to fight for it. Have given up their blood, sweat and tears for it. So that the guidon doesn’t fall. So that you can still rally here beneath this flag. Take some time today, this Veteran’s Day, to remind yourself how blessed you are because of those sacrifices….and then go out and make it a point to say, “Thank you,” to someone who has or is serving. They deserve it. Thank you for the honor of speaking to you today. God bless America and God bless you!


Below is the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with both the first and last verses. I love this version!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Elkanah- The “You-should-count-your-blessings” Guy

And Elkanah, her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is you r heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” 1 Sam 1:8

Wow! What is Hannah supposed to say to this? Now not only is she mourning her infertility, but she gets to feel guilty because her husband feels he is inadequate to meet her need. In his defense, Elkanah is trying to get Hannah to acknowledge the blessings of her life (namely himself) which certainly, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. In fact, shining a spotlight on the positive in life is often a great way to help someone going through a tough time gain perspective, but it must be done with tact and grace.

I’ll admit that these are two qualities that I don’t currently own in abundance. I am often looked as a Pollyanna. I consistently spin things around to look from an optimistic perspective. It is often, not well received. But as a blogger buddy, Bud Hennekes, of mine (www.aboundlessworld.com) says, “If I were flawless I wouldn’t be qualified to write about personal development.” Amen, brother! We are all works in progress; it is only when we begin to realize our flaws that we can truly grow.



Last night, Alexander was diligently working to solve his first Rubik’s Cube. He read somewhere (in the Guinness Book of World Records, I believe) that a person completed the Cube in just under 8 seconds. (How extraordinary is that? It takes me days to get one side!) He spent about an hour working on it when he, exhausted and deflated, said, “I never should have messed it up. I’ll never get this!”

“Really?” I said. “You’ve almost got the red side finished! That’s awesome!”

Turns out, a pep talk was not what he wanted to hear at that moment. He totally melted down. Shoot, just call me Elkanah. Now I’m not saying that I did exactly the same thing. Elkanah took Hannah’s pain and made it about him- that is a whole other chapter. But we were both in essence saying, “It’s wrong to be frustrated about this- count all of your blessings.”

How often do we do this to our friends, loved ones and even to ourselves? Elkanah was telling Hannah, you don’t need a baby, you have me! I was telling Xander you don’t need to be upset, you are making progress! Neither statement meant harm. In fact, both were well-intended, but both hurt and bruised an already wounded spirit. By failing to first acknowledge and affirm the difficulty and pain of the current situation, we failed to support our loved one and really only ended up making them feel worse.

I think that as a human beings created specifically to walk and talk with God, our most significant need in life is to feel we have been heard.

Xander didn’t want my pep talk. He wanted me to listen, to hear and to acknowledge his remorse for doing something that could not now be undone. Hannah didn’t want Elkinah to remind her of the love she had in her life, she simply wanted him to listen, hear and acknowledge the desperation in her soul.

I watched my husband, Charlie, flawlessly model the behavior that I needed to learn I that moment.

“What’s up Xanman?” he asked, quietly.

In the desperate cry that only a seven year old can muster, he said, “I’ve messed the whole thing up and now there’s yellow here and green there. It’s impossible! I’ll never fix it! I should have never started it!”

“I hear ya. It is sad when you can’t fix things right away. I’m sorry that it is harder than you thought it would be. I was always scared to start these myself when I got them. But, there’s no fun in not trying. Right?”

Sniff. Sniff, “Right,” Xander muttered.

“And you do have the red side almost all finished! That’s awesome! Give me a high-five! I am sure you will figure this all out. It will probably take some time.”

“OK,” said Xander. “Hey Dad?”

“Yes, son?”

“You think Google would know how to do this?”

Simply by acknowledging Xander’s problem, and letting him know that he was heard, Charlie completely diffused the situation, and opened Xander up to exploring a possibility other than giving up. Wow! I am a blessed woman! Of course, now I have an incredibly focused seven year old who won’t put down the Rubik’s cube to brush his teeth this morning, but I suppose this is the price you pay for teaching your children that persistence and perseverance pay off. I wonder if Google really does know how to solve a Rubik’s cube…

Friday, October 23, 2009

Company Girl Coffee10/23/09

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Scones from Karina's Kitchen
www.glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com


I am getting a little bit of a late start on the Company Girl Coffee this morning...so welcome to afternoon tea! I am just beside myself with joy, ok, well, honestly...I was beside myself with joy until I just sat down to right this and realized that it is already 2 in the afternoon...ugh!

Anyway, today we had parent/teacher conferences. I want to take a moment to say how blessed I am that my children are able to go to such a wonderful, Christian school and are taught by such a wonderful Christian woman. My children got glowing reports and I was so pleased! Most wonderfully, Mrs G talked about how responsible they were becoming and how they were always fantastic at being lights for Jesus! My babies are so awesome!

I say that kind of in reminder, because they are home from school today and I realized that I am desperately trying to fit them into MY daily routine. This is NOT working. And I am growing increasingly frustrated with the situation (not to mention I forgot to take my hormones this morning, so Lack of Estrogen Rage is starting to set in. ;) So I am desperately reminding myself that they are blessings and that this is a special day, so it is ok to put my schedule, agenda and routine on hold for today. I think instead of the usual house blessing that I do on Fridays, we are going to go shopping for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. Yep...that's what we are going to do....Thanks for listening to my ramblings and well, sorry to sip tea and kick you out the door (but here's a beautifully decorated bag of gluten free, vegan strawberry choco chip scones for you!) Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Smiling Socks:


I Love You's From the Dresser Drawer...


This week our Marriage Champions discussion group focused a very heavy topic, you ready?….duh-duh-dun….household responsibilities. And while at first, it may seem like small potatoes in the land of marriage enrichment (I mean we are discussing difficult topics like communication, conflict management and sexual intimacy here), what we discovered is that “neglect of home and family” is second only to “mental cruelty” as a stated reason for divorce. That’s right, household responsibilities are no small potatoes in marriage.

I don’t think that revelation came as a surprise to most of the women in the room. I pray that it didn’t come as a big surprise to most of the men. Get this: it is estimated that 86% of all marital conflicts are over division of labor in the household. 86%! More than money, or disciplining kids, or sex- more arguments are over who is going to do the dishes tonight. I knew it was a big deal, but I was kind of floored by the numbers.

As we were sharing about the common stumbling blocks that interfere with a healthy relationship, there were several that caught my attention. But I think my own personal revelation as I was telling a story about socks really drove home what this whole Marriage Champions thing is all about in a nutshell. It’s about how we show love. I know, deep epiphany, right? But hang with me here.

Early on in our relationship, Charlie and I had a huge fight about laundry. This one was a yelling, screaming hissy fit (for my part anyway). Over socks. Yep, I almost walked right out the door of the home that God had made for me….over socks.

It shouldn’t have been a big deal. Charlie approached me very gently with a pair of socks in his hand. A pair of socks I had carefully smoothed, rolled and folded together with the happy little smiling face shining out at him. He said calmly and sweetly, “Hey, Sweetie, do you think that you could not fold my socks like this? It stretches the cuff and they don’t stay up as well.” To Charlie, this was a reasonable request. He was even helping me out by lightening my load a bit…he certainly didn’t expect the total meltdown that ensued.

“I guess the way I fold socks is not good enough for you! Do you know how long it took me to do that!?” The conversation just went downhill from there. Then I proceeded to dredge up all the other recent discussions on laundry we had had in the last few months. (He and I do it very differently, to this day.) Charlie, for his part, reeling in the shock of my explosion, disengaged. Ugh! Not a good move. Disengaging only fed my anger and we began a vicious feedback loop which only went away after a four hour cool down period.

My point to my ramblings is this. None of that was about socks. It was about love.

You see, my Daddy was a navy man. From the time I was a little girl, I had learned to fold socks with little smiley faces (it's a military thing, I suppose...helped me a lot in the Army). It was how he taught me, and how he liked (and still likes) his socks folded. I don’t know if my mom likes to fold socks that way, I just know that she does. Because it is not about socks…It is about love.

When Charlie rejected the way that I folded socks, in my mind, he wasn’t rejecting the socks…he was rejecting me. My love. My service. My smiley faces. He had no idea, to him, it was just a sock that wouldn’t stay up because the cuff was stretched out. To me, it was an act of love. You see, it wasn’t the tip of the iceberg (doing laundry) that sank the Titanic, it was the huge hunk of ice beneath the surface of the water (my emotional attachment to that task) that ripped the hull in two.

Of course, at the time, neither of us understood that the laundry wasn’t the issue. It wasn’t until we went through the Marriage Enrichment training with NWA Healthy Marriages (www.nwamarriages.com) that we were given the tools to identify the real issues behind the seemingly little things that can hurt or build a relationship. Some of you have the opportunity to attend that same training this weekend, October 24, 2009 from 9-4. It is inexpensive ($39) and well worth the investment of time. I have included the link to their website. I invite and encourage you to check it out, you, your spouse and maybe even your socks, will be glad you did!



Friday, October 16, 2009

Company Girl Coffee 10/16/09



Good Morning Ladies! It's been so long and I have missed you all so much! Life has been a whirlwind of activity! The first Strings Attached Retreat was a great success and I learned so much from the ladies that I worked with! Now on to the rest of fall....So here is what I am up to now...please pray that God will be the extra tough superglue that holds all my seams together 'cause wow things are only speeding up!

This weekend marks the last of my downtime until, well until the end of the year really so I am hoping to put on a big pot of chili and rest and relax with my family. Bear with me, this list/schedule is more for my benefit th10/24 an yours, but any commiserating about the craziness hectic-ness that I call my life would be more than welcome :)!

So for the next several weeks I am still leading a Marriage Champions class on Sunday evenings. I love the group of couples and the opportunity to help strengthen marriages in our church, but I have been rewriting the manual each week and that takes a lot of bandwidth. (More than I had bargained for really). I have a marriage conference I am helping with next weekend, a retreat to plan for my home church, a fall festival to attend, two banquets and four volleyball games (that's all next week). My husband and I are leaving for Mexico Oct 31 for a week...I need to plan meals for my son (he has a severe allergic disorder and it is much easier to provide meals than for his caregiver to worry about them the whole week), as soon as I return I speak at a youth leadership conference, a ladies retreat and then travel for the next two weekends! WOOSH! I am tired already!

And guess what? I decided to table the book I am currently working on for a project I feel is more imminent. SO, I need your help to make that happen! Here's the idea:

I am writing a book about how women can help each other through difficult times in healthy ways (non-codependent ways). I realize that my Company Girls probably have some wonderful stories to share that show/tell how you were lifted up and supported through a tough time by your girlfriends. I would love to hear them and possibly share them in my book (which would in turn be your book, too.) In the spirit of the Strings Attached Village, let's write a book together, combining our stories and experiences with good and bad forms of support through difficult times. If you are interested in learning more and contributing, please email me at cari@gps4life.net and I will send you more info including parameters and style and the like.

Happy Coffee Day! Thanks for listening! I can't wait to see what you all are doing this week!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ahhh...to be home again...

Hello Blogosphere! Anyone still out there?

I apologize for my prolonged absence from you and purpose to do much better in the next few days. I have experienced so much in the last 3 weeks that I am not sure where to start it all. Know this...the next few days will be full of posts. I have so much stuff running around in my head that I can't help but write, and I promise to share these thoughts and insights with you. But for now, I am going to take a shower and start some laundry (there are piles 11 days * 4 people *3000 miles= Mount Washmore)...I will be back with stories soon....I promise!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Company Girl Coffee 9/18/09

Wow! I missed a week...want to know what is really sad? I didn't realize it until today! Life has been a whirlwind of activity over the past couple of weeks.

I spoke at a women's retreat last weekend, forged a new friendship with a couple we just met, helped prepare a women's banquet for 160 people (with Michelle Duggar as the guest speaker), oh and debuted my budding business at the Northwest Arkansas Business Women's Conference. All of this while fighting off a pesky cold. I rock!

Seriously though, the push through the first part of the week seriously drained my physical energy, and I spent Wednesday and Thursday recovering (this is not such a good thing....now my house looks like a trade show exploded in it and I am existing in survival mode with the laundry....are you familiar with the survival mode setting on the washer? It's the one where you HAVE to put a load all the way through so the family will have clean undies in the morning.;)

Today is the first day that I have felt up to par and I am struggling with the overwhelm of all of the chaos. So I am starting with Small Things (thanks so much RachelAnne for your blog and your inspiration) and going from there. I hope you all have had a wonderfully productive week (minus the cold!) and can't wait to see what everyone is up to!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"I will look up..."


"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
"Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
Matthew 14: 28-31

Ever have those moments (I call them “God Breezes”) when you witness- and are able to recognize an event that is a direct application of a Bible teaching? When something in life so closely mirrors what God was trying to teach us through His story that everything just clicks into place? They happen to me often these days, and more and more as I spend daily moments in scripture. I wonder sometimes if that means I am closer to God, or more open to His teachings, or if I can see more because I know more. Or perhaps a combination of all of these things. No matter, I am blessed by the God Breezes that sway through the branches of my life.
One such God breeze came just a few weeks ago when I was ice skating with my children. My son had been begging me all summer to take them ice skating, and I had, regretfully, kept putting it off. But it was (literally) the last day of summer vacation, so I decided to make good on my commitment to take my kids and laced up my skates.
None of us are stellar ice skaters, but I did spend most of my formative years on a pair of roller skates (I could roller skate before I could officially walk), so at some level, ice skating comes naturally. My son has inherited that ability I think. After one time around the rink, holding tightly to the wall, he took a deep breath, let go of the wall, and began skating on his own. “Look, Mom! I’m doing it!” he exclaimed, and was off. My little man…wow, how they grow up so fast.
My six year old daughter was not as brave as her brother and still clung, white knuckled, to the wall and to my hand, not really skating, but more pulling her self along- kind of swinging herself through like she was on crutches. After, Xander’s second time around the rink, her competitive spirit began to overtake her apprehension and she decided it was time to let go of the wall. After a lap around the rink, holding tightly to my hand, she said, “Mom, I want to try to skate to you. Go out to the middle." So, after she adjusted my position several times with a few directions- “a little closer, no too close, no too far…good right there,” she took a deep breath and a step away from the security of the wall. Immediately unsure of herself, she turned back.
Mama Cari went away and Coach Cari immediately stepped in to support her (as I do with my clients when they are trying desperately to forge a new path in their lives.) “Ok Lizzie, I am just five steps away. Keep your eyes on me, push off and skate to me. You can do this! Just keep your eyes on me!” Lizzie took a deep breath, centered herself and pushed away from the wall. One step, two steps- she was completely out of reach of the wall now- three steps- oh I was so proud of my brave soldier- four steps- suddenly, you could see doubt slip in and replace the ecstatic look of accomplishment that had been in her face just seconds before. I saw it and immediately rushed to catch her focus with my words, “Almost here, come on baby…you’re doing it!”
But just as I said it, her doubt overcame her and she looked down, instantly faltering. Her weight, shifted by the motion, threw her forward. As she fell I, leaned forward to catch her just before she landed on the ice. “You made it!” I exclaimed…but she was not as happy with her accomplishment. “No, I didn’t, Mama…I took my eyes off you. I looked down.”
God tapped me on the shoulder, “does this remind you of a Bible story?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied, in a sad small way. “Peter looked down, too. He didn’t have the faith that Jesus would protect him, I guess I didn’t either.”
It’s so true. You know looking back on my life, most of my failures have come when I am so close to victory I can almost touch it, but I take my eyes off Christ for just a split second, and find myself face down on the ice. It is not Christ’s fault. He is still there, cheering me on, holding the space for me…it is mine, I doubt and look down, forget that He won’t let me fall and begin to rely on my own feeble balance to hold me up. And while that is a lesson I continue to learn, and one that my daughter learned that day, I also find a more important lesson in this story.
God will be there to catch us. Even when we doubt Him and try to do it ourselves. He will pick us up, brush us off and send us out to try again. Just like I did for Elizabeth that day. “You did great! You almost made it! I will catch you if you fall…let’s try again!” and she did. It took her three tries to make it to me without falling. Three times she looked down and tripped herself up. On the fourth, she said, “Mom….I will not look down this time…I will look up.” And so she did, and thus achieved her mission.
She is now off and circling the rink with her brother. “Look, Mom! I’m doing it!” she exclaims, and off she goes. Wow, they grow so fast….



Monday, September 7, 2009

Our Labor Day Advenutre Story


Our Labor Day Adventure Story

Wow! It is Labor Day today! September 7, 2009….where has the time gone? It woooshed by in a seemingly endless flash of activities and accomplishments, sometimes marked only by the ever-changing height of my children (and width of my petushky;)...but that is changing as well- for the better…

Yesterday, we spent the afternoon running from odd location to location filming a short feature film about lava monsters and kings and queens. It started innocently enough as a request from my son to climb the rock wall at our local Lewis and Clark store. He is nothing short of a monkey and easily scales the “Easy” wall, but has been struggling to make over a large outcropping of rock that protrudes from the middle of the “Medium” wall. He would go back every day if we let him. Like a dog with a bone that one….laser focused on his goals. I love that about him. Anyway, in the midst of his request, I cried out, “So you would like to go scale the Cliffs of Despair, eh?” My daughter chimes in. “And rescue Queen Rosalina and Princess Rosie from the Lava Monster. He has kidnapped us and taken us to the Pools of Languish.” (Did I mention she’s six…languish, really? Man, her teacher, Mrs. Gartner must be working overtime in the vocabulary lessons!)

The entire story seemed to explode from that point! In a beautiful flurry of imagination and wit, our children began to storyboard what was soon to become a twenty minute short film complete with several props, five locations and a supporting cast that included their Grandmother! It was an amazing adventure and so very interesting to watch and participate in making a fantasy world come to life!

Charlie and I are online gamers in our free time (World of Warcraft mostly)- don’t hate on me, it was a last ditch attempt to understand a hobby of my husband’s and I got sucked in;) But yesterday we didn’t play at all- which is unusual because Sunday afternoon is when we typically meet his sister and brother-in-law online to play for an hour or so. They live cross country from us, so this is a way to stay connected at times. We were busy creating our own fantasy land and having an absolutely blast doing it!

We did learn a few things:

1) Our children are far better actors than we are! Chas and I are so cheesy….of course that adds to the fun of the film, I suppose.
2) My arms are very long and don’t look nearly as graceful as I think they do when I am flailing them about….no wonder people laugh at me when I get really excited!
3) We have an inability to quit….even if we should. We don’t know how to stop until something is finished. You know I am a Welch by birth and our surname motto is “Ne cede arduis” – do not give in to difficulties- so true that a motto written hundreds of years before me fits me to such an extent. This trait seems on the outside to be a good thing, but we have a tendency to take EVERYTHING to extremes, so it can get a little out of control.
4) My kids and husband are like the coolest people ever!
So the short story is that it was a fantastic adventure…not just an imaginary one, but a real one as well! We had a blast and truly worked well together as a production crew. I hope to post the video below, but it turned out to be about 20 min long, so I am not terribly sure if I will be able to…that is, of course, once Charlie finishes editing it and adding the soundtrack (his favorite part).

Now the children are up and rearing to go, so I must close….I am excited to discover our adventure for today! What’s your adventure? Do you feel like you are living in a dramatic trajedy instead of an action/adventure? As my son says, “The great thing about making up our own stories is that we CHOOSE how they will be….” And that piece of wisdom, my friends, doesn’t just apply to feature films, but to everyday life! So choose adventure and let’s go have some fun!

Friday, September 4, 2009

9/4/09 Company Girl Coffee

Wow! Another week? What? I am rushing out the door to buy some Xander safe "ice cream" (Rice Dream) for a school function and don't have much time...but I wanted to take a moment to say thank you to all the gals who stopped by last week and commented on "Strings Attached."

I am currently working hard at the HOW Strings Attached is going to look and operate. I am trusting that God will take care of that (he has so far) and kind of trying to keep my preconceived notions out of the way.

I will be posting more about it soon....but I just wanted to say thanks to all of you who took an interest and expressed your support....you guys rock!

Check back soon! I promise more is to come!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Company Girl Coffee 8.28.09


Well, the first full week of school is almost finished, and it has been a great time for me to get back into the swing of a full work week. My book is flying along (3 chapters complete and one in the works). I have finished putting the final touches on a the Women's Retreats I am leading in October and November and am gathering up the supplies I need for my booth at the Northwest Arkansas Business Women's Conference which is just around the corner. Woo! No wonder I am dragging a bit today!

I want to take a minute to tell you guys about my latest brain child, though, because I am soooooo excited about it! It's called "Strings Attached." And much like the story behind the meaning of Company Girl, it is all about developing deep, lasting relationships with one another. One thing that I have noticed in the churches and groups that I have spoken to over the last year is that their is a great disconnect. People spend a lot of time connecting online and through FB and Twitter, but have stopped taking the time to form deep, meaningful connections face to face. We are relational beings and are, whether we realize it or not, seeking ways to connect to one another. I believe this is the driving force behind our need to be involved in activities. We are trying to connect, but because we don't get deep with our connections, we continue to feel incomplete and say yes to more activities. I believe that developing trusting and intimate relationships with the women in the pew next to us can help to break the "I'm to busy to breathe" cycle. I know it seems counterintuitive. I promise it works. I have seen it turn churches around!

Ask me about "Strings Attached: An Adventure in Connecting, Communicating and Conquering." I would be happy to share it with you. For more information about it, comment here or send me an email at cari@gps4life.net.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunrise


I wrote this on July 12, 2007. So much has happened in those two years, but the sentiment remains the same. I hope you enjoy this post.

Not long ago, I had the chance to sing one of my favorite songs, "Sunrise," by Nichole Nordeman. When I first heard this song I was simply captivated by it. It spoke to me on such a personal level (as so much of Nichole's music does), that I felt compelled to share it with my church.

So the lyrics to the first verse go something like this:

If I had the chance to go back again,
Take a different road, bear a lighter load,
Tell and easy story,
I would walk away with my yesterdays,
And I would not trade what is broken for beauty only.
Cause every valley, every bitter chill,
Made me ready to climb back up the hill.
And find that, You are sunrise.
You are blue skies.
And how could I know the morning, if I knew not midnight?...

Those lyrics are so true for me. I haven't walked the darkest of paths or known desperate loss or sorrow. I would never look back on my life to date and term it hard. I have the best Mom and Dad in the world, who are still happily married to each other after 35 years. I have two stunningly beautiful sisters whom I deeply love and cherish. I have a husband who is my absolute soul mate and best friend. I have two awesome children who daily remind me that God is good. I grew up in a fantastic town, had the best public school education a girl could get, gained fantastic experiences serving in the military with some of this country's finest men and women, and now I get to work in a place where I daily make a difference in the lives of others. I would not term my life hard. I am richly blessed, but it isn't always easy either. And sometimes I have to work hard at reminding myself that happiness is choice we make, not a gift that is given to us. I can truly say, though, that I am comfortable with the road that my decisions have brought me down. And, while I would not choose that same path for my children or for those that I love, I wouldn't change it either. It has shaped me into the woman I am today.

So as I was preparing to sing this song, I had an opportunity to spend some time with my 12 year old cousin. She is a beautiful young lady. Two years ago, we celebrated Christmas with her family and I can remember the light in her eyes when we pulled up with our two munchkins. She took my 2 year old daughter in her arms and my 3 year old son by the hand and they were off to play. That light is dim now. Her father (my Uncle Justin) was killed in a car accident the following January. She was a Daddy's girl, and she is lost without him. It broke my heart to sit across from her, and watch her eyes well up at the mention of his name. And I had to think, if I were in her shoes, would I honestly be able to sing those lyrics? Or would I be forever wishing for "a lighter load?"

My Daddy is not well. Those of you that know me well, know that this is a constant prayer on my heart. Daily, I pray that the Lord will heal his broken heart. Daily, I pray for a cure for his cancer. Daily, I pray that the Lord will make him whole again. I am forever laying down the burden of the fear I feel each time his hand shakes too much, or his face goes a little pale, or he forgets something I just said...But I am forever picking it back up again. I am driven by the impulse for my children to spend every moment they have with him, so that they can learn from the man that taught me such wisdom. But through all of that, I daily thank God for the tragic experiences that have brought us to this place. Without them, I would cherish each sunrise a little less. Each smile, each memory would have a little less meaning. Each day, I think, would be a little harder to make the choice to be happy..
I often wonder, will my cousin feel that her journey was, at least somewhat, worth it? That the experiences and the steeliness of spirit, and the resourcefulness of character were, in the end, of some benefit to her? Will that spark ever grow bright in her eyes again?

What about you? Would you go back? Would you trade your testimonies, your hardships, your unhappy moments for an easy lifetime? Would you still be the same person you are today without them? Or do you cherish the sunrise a little more because of them?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Company Girl Coffee 8.21.09


Hola, Ladies!

So sorry to have missed our coffee last week, but I was off inspiring future company girls! :)

This time last week I was in Huntsville, Alabama speaking with an organization called Inspired Girls. Check them (well, I mean us now, I think...long story) out at www.inspiredgirlsevents.com. What a wonderful opportunity and blessing it was to be able to share my story, testimony and life learnings to bring teenage girls into a closer relationship with God and with each other! And, they loved me (which always helps!) I came away from the experience with the joyful exhaustion that comes from doing that which you are called to do, and doing it well.

This week has been a whirlwind of activity. I returned home only to be hurled back into the realization that my life did not wait for me while I was off fulfilling my dreams. My sweet babies have returned to school (1st and 2nd grade) and we are now shuffling through homework and PE clothes and tired munchkins every night. But all in all it has been a fantastic week for me. One of renewed vision and purpose (check back soon, I will be blogging about it shortly! ) and crystal clear focus on my dreams and mission in life. I am so excited! I can't hardly wait!

What about ya'll? What has this week held for you?

Let me add this final thought for you this week...I found this quote when I was looking for something to close with in my last presentation. It has been crucial to my being open to the new direction my life is taking. Perhaps it will help you too!

"We should always pray for help, but we should always listen for inspiration and impression to proceed in ways different from those we may have thought of."

John H. Groberg

Friday, August 7, 2009

Company Girl Coffee 8/7/09

Good Morning, Company Girls! (And all my other friends that follow me....)

Today is my first morning with the Company Girls, and I must say I am excited!

But I am a little sad...Charlie's sister and brother in law have been visiting for the last week. It has been a wonderful and unexpected stay-cation, and I am just not ready for it to end. Nevertheless, they are heading home today. We will see them again in October, when I head to Maryland to lead a women's retreat for Burtonsville Baptist Church. It was so lovely to get to spend time with them and to watch them with the kids. It is just a little bittersweet to see them go.

So I am gonna keep this short and go have coffee with my OTHER guests. Have a wonderful Friday!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Thank You for the Morning Glories


The cool summer here and loads of rain have been optimal weather for the wild morning glories that grow in my flower bed. They are a riot of blue blooms this morning and I thought, in honor of their beautiful smiling faces I would repost this story I wrote 3 years ago when we found out that my son has a chronic allergic disorder that makes him very ill. I hope you enjoy it.




Have you ever tried to get rid of a morning glory? It is not easy. Just when you think that you have weeded them out, here sprouts a new one, weaving it's vines all over your favorite flower and letting you know just how not in control of your environment you are.


Life is like that too, isn't it? There are just some things in life that keep coming back to you until you finally stop fighting them and embrace them. Sometimes, you have to stop trying to weed out the things you don't want to be there and be thankful for the experiences.


Take this week for example. Tuesday morning, my son woke up about 4:30 am throwing up. I thought, "great...stomach virus...not what I need today." I was scheduled to teach dissection to the 5-8th graders at his school at 1, Charlie was on pager, work was piled high on my desk and I had just come back from a three day trip with the kids to Sheridan. What I did not need was a sick child to try to work around. So, as I am running around, trying to come up with some antidote to his illness, trying to work out in my mind some way to get it all done, Xander goes running past me to the bathroom again, and again...and again....by the fourth trip to the bathroom in less than an hour, all that worrying about how I was going to fit everything else into my day was replaced with how do I keep fluids down my son. 


By 7 am, I had passed worry and anxiety to plain ole scared. By 830, we were at the doctor's (still vomiting every 15 min, and at this point having to be wheeled around in a wheelchair because he was too weak to walk). By 915, we were admitted to the hospital with no idea what was wrong. After a night in the hospital on IV fluids, Xander is doing much better, but we are still home from school.


I guess the point is, I did not want this little trip to the hospital or the 4 days off work, or the 4 days stuck at home, inside with a stir crazy boy and an even more stir crazy me. But it has made me slow down and appreciate some things a little more. I am really thankful for my son and his improved health. I am thankful for our health insurance (even though I am always complaining about how crappy it is). I am thankful for our house (even thought right now I feel trapped inside it). I am thankful for my job that keeps me from being trapped inside the house (even though I have been complaining about never having enough time).


But, I am especially thankful for the morning glories that greeted me and my son with their unassuming blue smiles when we came home from the hospital (even though they are climbing all over my hibiscus and petunias).....
Alexander said, "Mom, look God made these new flowers grow here. I like them, they are my favorte color. Aren't they pretty?"


Thank You, God, for those morning glories! I think they may just be my new favorite flower.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Day at the Pool


I love the pool! For a sun-worshipping (with sunblock these days, of course) fish like me, the pool has always been sort of Mecca.

Sadly, since I have had kids, I have developed an unnatural fear of the public pool. Something about the high numbers of virtually unsupervised, unobservant, and relatively ill behaved children mixed with the imminent danger of drowning has kept me far away from the swimming pool for the last 7 years. Now, that’s not to say that we haven’t gone to our friends private pools, but nothing says summer quite like a day at the city pool. As I re-read this paragraph, I think it is all really sad that I let this obsessive thought process get the best of me.

Anyway, empowered by 2 weeks of Red Cross swimming lessons and the desire to get out of the house and away from the computer, TV and mountain of laundry, the kids and I spent our first day at the public pool yesterday. You know I learned a few things about myself and about life.

1) You CAN go back.

In the right frame, it is possible to recapture some of that uncomplicated joy that you had when you were a kid. Part of this is vicarious. It is nearly impossible not to embrace the joy your kids feel in that moment….when your six year old comes running from the slide and says, “Sometimes, it’s so fun, that you just HAVE to SCRREAMMMM!” And in that moment, just for a second, be a kid again. It was a beautiful and poignant moment, and I was so blessed to be able to both observe and experience it at the same time.

2) In order to experience this you have to stop being an observer and start actively participating!

This was really hard for me! I am the sideline mom…I have a tendency to sit back and watch my husband play with my munchkins, watching them interact and play is a really joyful thing for me, but there are times when I long to get in the game. Today I did, and I was richly rewarded for it!

So I went home again…to my childhood….sunny days spent with friends playing in the water, getting out to soak in the sun and then, as soon as the cool droplets of water have dried, heading back into the pool again. Eating crazy snack combinations like dill pickles and blue sno cones and just relaxing with no agenda, no schedule and no worries. Absolute bliss! There is nothing like that exhausted, toasty warm, and absolutely starving feeling you have after a day at the pool!

Hmmm…now I’m hungry…I’m gonna go eat some watermelon and have a seed spitting contest with my son (I have to up my game, he’s gotten really good!)….So long for the weekend…..but maybe, just maybe next week, I’ll see YOU at the pool?!

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