beautiful, confession, creative, entertainment, family, gratitude, home, journey, Lately, list, parenting, Uncategorized

It’s friday, I’m in love…

Oh it’s that time again- Hello, weekend! These summer weekends are fleeting and I find this bittersweet.

This week was a BUSY one! Some moments I barely had time to compose myself and other ones were a little more intentional. It has been a weekend filled to the brim with stress and disappointment. You guys, parenthood is HARD. Adulting is HARD. Taking responsibility for screw ups is HARD. My week has been Die Hard with a Vengeance, minus the Bruce Willis/entertainment value/special effects/big budget stuff, and just loads of craptastic.

It is nice to take a few minutes to seek out the best bits of sharable…  I LOVED the links and little notes you guys sent last week! The best part of that was finding some new music. My readers have THE BEST taste! :)

Here’s my top five for the week…

1.) August is apparently the month for Random Acts of Kindness. If you know me at all, you know I am a sucker for RAKs! I absolutely LOVE this project and have been enjoying leaving intentionally written letters about my corner of the world.

2.) If you love Zombie movies, i HIGHLY recommend Train To Busan. (yes, it’s Korean, of course it is…) It was amazing, and by far the best Zombie movie we have ever seen! (also, it’s on Netflix, so that’s super cool too.)

3.) Quite awhile ago a friend of mine recommended the podcast Blue Babies Pink. Essentially it is Brett Trapp’s coming out story, told from his perspective as a now adult preacher’s kid, having grown up as a Jesus loving, well-adjusted youth. It is very interesting, very thought-provoking and at 44 (although super short) episodes, I am two-thirds of the way through and am really glad I make the choice to listen!

4.) I must clarify that i DO NOT own these earrings, but I also am publicly stating it right now: I really, really want them.

5.) Lastly, for this week… Coke Zero Sugar. I know, I know… I was just as sad as everyone else about the loss of Coke Zero. To be honest, my biggest worry was What will I drink at the movies now? And again, being honest, I am not certain they will even offer CZS at the theater, but I do like it. We still have plain old regular coke zero and did do a taste comparison. The two taste nothing alike. Chw likes the new better, while I still prefer the original. (likely because I HATE CHANGE!) that being said, I do really like the new. It tastes good by itself. It tastes good with a splash of lime. It tastes super good with a bit of crown. All in all, it’s a win. :)

Happy weekend!

adoption, confession, family, journey, parenting

a PSA…

Our youngest came to live with us when she was four and a half years old. Many of you know that story, about how our little family unit came to be. She’d had a rough go of it, for those first four years. Within the first few days that she lived with us, we took her over to a friend’s house. We were very close with these friends and wanted to share Gen with them, and vice-versa. We weren’t there but half an hour, or so. As we were pulling out, my friend called my cell to tell me she’d seen Gen with an orange golf ball in her pocket. “I’m pretty sure she stole it from my husband’s set, but honestly I don’t know how or when. Just a heads up, you might have a little stealer on your hands.”

She had not come to my friend’s in possession of a golf ball. We waited til we were home to gently broach the topic. Gen was adamant that it was her golf ball, she’d gotten it as a present when she was two from so & so. The story came so honestly, so naturally that had we not be the ones to sort through the very few belongings she’d come with, we might have believed her.

When she was little, she stole a lot. She stole everything from gum, to candy, to food, to stickers, to socks, to receipts. If she wanted it, she believed she deserved to have it. If she was confronted, a lie so believable flowed from her lips and when consequences came, she was so broken that we didn’t believe her and she wasn’t a thief.

The longer this went on, the more defeating it became. All of the well-meaning people who were reassuring us this was kid’s stuff and she’d grow out of it, stopped saying much of anything. We taught and taught and taught her through various degrees, that stealing was WRONG, that lying was WRONG. We were doing everything right, in that regard. She honestly just never cared if it was right or wrong, or if anyone got hurt.

My point here is sometimes things happen. Kids become adults who make their own choices. Sometimes, like with that little girl, they will blame whoever they please, anything to not own the responsibility. But please, when this happens to someone you know, don’t blame the parents for the child/adult child’s choices. Their journey may have been wrought with hell, and defeat and hopelessness may be the hats they wear more than any other. A little love can go a long way…

entertainment, family, journey, parenting

Horror movies for the Christian…

When it comes to horror movies, there are so many perspectives. Some range from super conservative (horror movies are evil) to really obsessive about them. I grew up watching scary 80’s movies on the only semblance of family movie night my childhood home had. At 5/6/7 these movies terrified me, BUT it felt more scary to NOT watch and know it was happening in the other room. (ah, the rationale of a child.)

As a teenager and young adult I really loved a good horror movie. Chw could care less either way. Then, one day in around 2001, I read an article about people’s love of scary films being connected to their perspective on life and the horrors/traumas that they had experienced. (I do not remember the specifics about it really, other than the fact that it was really psychologically driven so it spoke my jam.) Strangely enough, after contemplating that, I did not love them so much anymore. Chw, on the other hand, began loving them more.

I pretty much avoid them now,with a few exceptions. At various stages of life my kids have loved them and it has led to dialogue. Some would judge that I am in a precarious position being a Christian and messing with such things. As a Christian I believe that doors in our spirit can be opened (and remain open) when we engage in darker activities. I know this is truth because I did some pretty stupid things as a teenager and it still affects me. There are films out there, of the horror genre, which tell this tale well. And so, as parents, we came to the decision (based on maturity levels of course) to experience some of these movies with older kids, rather than forbidding them, and then having conversations.

We really love the newer films telling the stories of Ed & Lorraine Warren. If you google them you will get an array of things that are not the heart of their story. The more I have learned about them over the years, the more I have been humbled by their life’s journeys. (I would love to have a conversation with Lorraine, face to face over a shared pot of tea. I know this isn’t possible, at least not this side of heaven, but it’s on my list none the less.)

Annabelle: Creation (not to be confused with the last Annabelle made) is one of those scary movies which illustrates to us the dangers of messing with things we don’t understand, as well as the dangers of making extreme choices when dealing with overwhelming emotion. I am sharing an article which I believes articulates what I’m trying to say MUCH better…

Lessons For Christians From Horror Movies

The popularity of horror films continue to grow, especially among teens and young adults, who flock to movie theaters on opening weekend.  This Friday, August 11, for example, the movie “Annabelle: Creation,” about a possessed doll hits theaters nationwide.  It seems difficult to believe that any movie created to frighten and give us nightmares might have a meaningful spiritual lesson for Christians.  And yet, anyone who has been brave enough to watch “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” written by Scott Derrickson, a Christian filmmaker, knows full well that horror movies can serve us with cautionary messages and, might just inspire the audience to head to their nearest church pew.

To be clear, not all horror films are the same. The genre has different versions.  There’s no takeaway from “slasher” or disturbing “torture” movies meant to provide nothing but shock.  However, there are horror movies that depict spiritual warfare (which we know to be real) and the battle between good and evil. These supernatural films, oftentimes written and produced by Christians and based on real-life events, are filled with lessons about something we as people of faith have stopped discussing in an increasingly distracted secular world – that evil is real.

Here are a few other lessons from supernatural horror films:

  1. Exorcisms are also real.  Although incredibly rare, people can get possessed by evil.  “The Exorcist” is based on a real-life possession of a young boy, and “Annabelle: Creation” is about a possessed girl.  
  2. God will always defeat evil.  No matter how powerful the enemy may be, God will always come out on top.  In the Bible, one of the most powerful miracles that Jesus performed was The Miracle of the Gadarene Swine in which Jesus cast unclean spirits out of a man.  In real-life and in all supernatural films that have a faith message including “The Conjuring” and “The Rite,” evil will always be vanquished.
  3. Ouija Boards are a big no.  Perhaps one of the strongest and most valuable lessons to come from supernatural horror movies (which just as true in real life) is that those who become plagued or possessed by evil may have inadvertently invited those spirits or demon to come into their lives.  This is done through certain “gateways” that many priests and Christian leaders warn us about.  Christians, especially Christian parents must teach kids and teens to stay away from Ouija boards, tarot cards, fortune telling, or any sort divination.  These are all means in which evil can take hold of our lives.  In the second “Conjuring” movie the character becomes possessed after playing with a Ouija board.  This was based on a true person and event.

 

  1. Prayer is the most powerful thing in the world.  Prayers protect and deliver us from evil.  In horror movies, those who are plagued by evil must often turn to a person of great faith or priest to help them.  That Christian leader is always portrayed as someone who believes prayer to be of utmost importance and is shown onscreen praying to God throughout the film.
  2. Faith is the most important thing in the world.  Believing in God and being baptized in the Christian community protects and strengthens us.  It is a natural defense again evil.  In times of weakness, we must lean on our faith and turn to God.  The upcoming movie, “Annabelle: Creation,” is a cautionary tale that depicts what happens when one turns away from God and succumbs to temptation during a period of grief and weakness as opposed to leaning on God for grace and healing.  

All movies, including horror movies tell stories.  In the last century, before we had television and films, parents told stories and tales that were meant to alarm and even frighten children and youth from a certain place or course of action.

Now these stories, meant to be lessons, are brought to life onscreen, complete with sound effects and make-up.  They are terrifying and they should be – evil is something to stay away from.  But for Christians, there is a stronger message, one that should always comfort and strengthen us – that we have a savior and that he will always come to protect and fight for those of us in need.

confession, family, friendship, gratitude, home, journey, marriage, parenting

The truth ship…

These days there is an easiness which has settled in around us. We have grown in to something which the past few years had impaired. Most days we simply just be, him Chw and me, well- me. Routines fall in to place and there are moments, I will admit, when I question why it had felt so difficult before. It doesn’t take long before I remember. It wasn’t anyone’s fault but ours, really, but only in the ways that we allowed other people to take precedence over us. This happens so subtly that we don’t always realize that is what happens, especially when the couple transitions into a family.

I remember I was at a luncheon last fall and there was a discussion amongst the women at our table. All virtual strangers, there for a cause, one woman spoke up about how her youngest child was a junior in high school and she was terrified of what would become of her once he graduated and left the house. She was currently the team mom on his very heavy sports schedule. She was on the PTA. She ran each semester’s rather large fundraiser. She had made sure that in the high school careers of each of her three children, she had been ALL in. She was that mom. She admitted that she lived vicariously through the high school lives of her kids, attending every single function and never missing a moment. She loved it. She also admitted she was never home in the evenings or on weekends because her children deserved for everything to be about them.

What about your husband? I asked.

“Oh him? I don’t know. We have not had an actual conversation that wasn’t in passing about one of the kids sporting needs for well over a decade. I mean isn’t that what parenthood is? We will spend time together when it’s over.”

I was sad for her. When prodded a little, by another luncher, this woman briefly admitted that she had no idea who she even was outside of her kids high school lives. By this point I was really very sad for her. So sad in fact, that here we are months later and I think of this woman often. I am sad for her and her marriage. I am sad that she does not realize the couple part of her family equation, the foundation that began her family, may not really exist anymore. I was sad for both the man and the woman- the man who became invisible and unimportant to the woman he loved, and the woman who became those same things to herself.

I think that is the biggest marital advice I would ever have for anyone. In the way that we keep our eyes on the horizon so we don’t get car sick on the road- keep your eyes on your spouse. Never stop seeing them. I am not naive enough to think that hard seasons are done for us. We are approaching a heavy travel season where we won’t connect much, and honestly because our really ugly and painful bits aren’t that far in the past, this makes me nervous. What I do know however is that these current days of ease and being feel like all I have ever wanted, and I would not want to have them with anyone else. We have been together for twenty-four years, in various ways. He knows me, what I’ll like and not like, when I need to be close and when I don’t. He understands, without back story, the complications in relationships and who I truly value and trust. He knows the daughter, the mother and the friend I have been even better than myself. It is in those things, and the memories, moments and experiences with which the ease is founded. It took a lot of work to get to this place where the inside jokes of a lifetime ago still make us belly laugh until tears crest our eyes. This is what marriage becomes, but we have to allow it. We cannot allow our job, our children, family members or friends to come before this core part of our journey. There for a while we forgot that and allowed all of those things to take precedence, and our ship crashed hard.

What is it they say? If we learn from our mistakes then they weren’t failures after all? That feels true.

I have been thinking so much about that woman lately. Sadly, I would not recognize her if I crossed paths with her again, but I am hoping and praying she gets it and that it isn’t too late. During that meal and meeting, those months ago, the more she unlayered, the lonelier she sounded. Her drug for masking the feeling was her over-involvement with her kids. Once her kids move on to their next chapters though, I fear the insurmountable amount of pain she will likely slam into.

We’ve all done it: hide from our hurts/fears/failures in something else. It is the heart of addiction, adultery… It is the seed which grows the disasters of so many things. I know many lives, on this very day, of people I love and/or respect where this is happening. This is why we, as women, keep ourselves over busy. Let’s stop. Let’s let go of expectations and perceived expectations. Let’s take an honest look at the people we share our lives with, and ourselves, and then lets just kick back and be. Do I need to lose 50 lbs? yeah, I do. Should I go wash the handful of dishes in the sink? Absolutely. But hows my heart? Am I present in this moment? Am I feeling grounded? How’s my marriage? It isn’t that the superficial things are not important, but they are not the MOST important.

chronic illness, confession, depression, family, fibro, gratitude, home, journey, Lately

Shoeboxes…

Several years ago, when we were sorting through our  attic stuff to move to Michigan, we came across the Orange shoebox. Just seeing the shoebox will cause us to give pause. Makaila, our beloved golden retriever and Genny’s childhood best friend, was diagnosed with bladder cancer. As her health deteriorated we, as a family, gave her the best week ever. The week was filled with her favorite things and foods. Our Idaho vet has a cool program where you can have your dog cremated and scattered at a local Christmas tree farm. It was beautiful and fitting. 

This shoebox has become this heavy thing which we carry through life, but cannot part with, nor would we want to. This shoebox seemed like such a solitary life weight, until last August anyway. After five years alone, we had to add another shoebox. My beautiful dog Paisley hid her cancer so well that when we realized she was sick, she had such a short amount of time left. We did not have the time to afford her best week so we settled for a really awesome best day. Both of our girls had loved peanut butter pancakes, soft serve vanilla ice cream and car rides, so we said tear-filled-smiling adventures with those.

The loss of Paisley hit me so hard and I was left with a gaping hole. Seven months later I stumbled upon a listing for a litter of puppies in southern Illinois. I’d wanted a beagle for as long as I could remember. I knew that, as I approached this new chapter of life, the companionship of a dog would really make the difference.

I fell in love with the last of these little puppies. He, my Mr. Knightley, was instantly smitten with me. He loved me almost immediately and though he wasn’t quite Paisley shaped, he was Knightley shaped and come to find out- I needed that hole filled too. It was early on that we learned his beginnings had been less than ideal. He was so young and required a lot of attention and love. The first five-week that he was mine found me with very little sleep. Most nights he snuggled into my neck and chest while I just held him tight and soaked his puppy goodness into my soul. It seemed as though my little snuggle puppy could not get close enough, and I was all too happy to comply.

As time passed it become clear that our Mr. Knightley- my Mr. Knightley– was going to have a bit of a tough time. About 5 weeks ago he had a traumatic experience with growing pains in his back left leg. The ordeal left both Gen and I pretty severely bitten and him very shaken up. We forged through it though, and fell even more in love with him. About two weeks ago it seemed the growing pains were at it again. He received a soft diagnosis of Panosteitis and an appointment to follow-up was scheduled for two this past Tuesday. We were encouraged to keep his movement limited, and just love on him and as comfortable as we could.

Tuesday did not go well. A full blood panel was done and Wednesday  morning found me sobbing on the phone, with the results. His kidneys were not working. His other organs were compromised. The kidney thing wasn’t new, they’d likely always been damaged. We were encouraged to not let any time pass, as he was suffering immensely.

My adorable little blue-tick beagle Knightley, with the black heart on his left side, did not get the luxury of a best-week-ever, or even a best day. He got to lay on my chest, breathing turned shallow over night, content to just be with me. We were at a loss with how to love him in special ways as he wasn’t eating and we’d only had three months with him, and many days within those months had been struggles. We weren’t sure what his best things ever would even be, except one… The boy loved his puppacinos. For eleven minutes of that forever-long car ride, that sweet little puppy was beside himself with joy.

His heart and body gave out as they injected the sedative, prior to euthanization. One moment he whimpered, staring into my love filled eyes, and the next he was running free and playing somewhere far more heavenly. This afternoon I gathered his tiny collar and his favorite chew toys into a shoebox. Another shoebox, another hole. An empty home and painfully empty arms. For three months and seven days I was deeply connected to this sweet little baby boy, and now I am not.

Goodbye sweet boy.