Home is Where Your Story Begins

October 9, 2012

Think Beyond Pink

Filed under: Focusing on Others,Life — my3daughters @ 9:28 am

Can you fill in the following blanks?  October is ___________ Cancer Awareness month and the ribbon color for this month is _______________.  September is ___________ Cancer Awareness month and the ribbon color for this month is _______________.

It is now October 9, 2012.  I guarantee you that anyone living not living under a rock was able to fill in the first two blanks by October 2.  Just over a week into the month and the world, at least my world, has seemed to go pink.  Everyone on Facebook is posting pink this & pink that.  I watched the Steeler game on Sunday (duh).  Pink, pink, pink.  I bought some nail polish & hair care stuff at Walgreens using a debit card—before I could enter my pin I had to answer the question, would you like to donate to breast cancer research?  Poor cashier.  She didn’t make that question pop up but boy did she get to hear about it.  “No I absolutely do not!”

Now, understand that I have nothing against breast cancer.  Well, actually I have everything against breast cancer, against all forms of cancer.  I want them all to be GONE GONE GONE.  But seriously, people, why is it that breast cancer has the most awareness?  People who have other kinds of cancer are just as important.

My life is touched by cancer daily.  Someone dear to me works with cancer patients on a daily basis at a local hospital.  There have been long, hectic days lately because their department has so many new patients.  There have been sad days when a patient’s family takes time out of their grief to say “thank you.”  I have three daughters.  The youngest started high school this year and her graduating class was one less because of a young man who passed away from cancer just weeks before school started.  The middle daughter lost a member of her graduating class in May and now has another friend battling cancer.  My oldest graduated in 2009 and just informed me that a friend she went to school with is out of remission.  A friend I know through my girls’ school activities is battling breast cancer.  A friend I went to high school with lost her daughter to cancer less than a year ago.

Do you see the trend?  Do you see what kind of cancer I personally see the most of?  Of the six cases touching our lives right now, only one is breast cancer.  Yet it’s pink pink pink.  And don’t get me started on the fact that the organization that most “pink” fundraisers supports manages their money very poorly.  I have a friend who can also tell you statistics on the links between abortion and breast cancer yet this organization supports other organizations that support abortion.  This makes no sense to me.

But I’m not here to put something else down.  I’m here to raise your awareness of Childhood Cancer even though September is over.  When I see as much awareness for Childhood Cancer and other cancers as I do for Breast Cancer, I’ll shut up.  Until then, I’m going to speak out.

According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization website, “each year in the U.S. there are approximately 13,400 children between the ages of birth and 19 years of age who are diagnosed with cancer. About one in 300 boys and one in 333 girls will develop cancer before their 20th birthday.” Cancer is “the most common cause of death by disease for children and adolescents in America.”    Would you be more passionate about this if your child was the one in 300 or one in 333?

So I’m asking you to please be aware of the fact that breast cancer isn’t the only cancer there is.  Childhood Cancer is my personal passion and it breaks my heart every day.  Raise awareness, yours and others by following the Childhood Cancer Awareness page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/childhoodcancerawareness?ref=ts&fref=ts).  Check out the Get Well Gabby Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/getwellgabby?ref=stream).  Today would be a great day to do that since it would have been Gabby’s 7th birthday.  Read her parents’ posts.  They would melt a heart of stone.  You can also check out www.getwellgabby.org.  Order a special Gabby’s Pedi-“cure” set from piggy paint and 25% of the sales will go to the Get Well Gabby Foundation.  (http://www.piggypaint.com/gift-sets/gabby-s-pedi-cure-set.html)

I wear gold—for Julia, for Cassie, for Peter, for Nick, for Gabby, for kids I don’t even know.  Because every child who battles cancer is one child too many battling cancer.

Until There is a Cure

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August 19, 2012

Get Your God Glasses On

Filed under: Life,Uncategorized — my3daughters @ 12:36 pm

Somewhere along the line I picked up the idea that when I make time for God, He makes time for me.  Now before you get your dander up, yes I understand that God isn’t like that.  He doesn’t require anything from us in order to bless us.  But it just always seemed to me that when I got too busy for God, I didn’t get as many blessings as I did when I attended church and read my Bible on a regular basis.

Also, it always seemed like I had more trials and tribulations when I was too busy for God.  I’d catch myself, think, “This is God’s way of drawing me back to Him.” So I would start attending church and reading my Bible on a regular basis again.  And things would appear to get better.

Well, today as I was coming home from church, I was focusing more on the splinter in someone else’s eye instead of the log in mine.  My thoughts ran along the lines of “they should really be in church more consistently.  Maybe they would have fewer problems if they put God first instead of spending time with Him when there was nothing better to do on a Sunday morning.”

Then it hit me.  It isn’t that God only makes time for me or blesses me when I make time for Him.   It isn’t that life is harder when I’m too busy for God.  Rather, when I make the effort to spend time with God, when I make Him a priority, I am more able to see the blessings and the answers to prayer.  Plus life isn’t necessarily less stressful, it’s just that I have what I need right at hand instead of having to go look for it.

When I get up in the morning, everything is blurry.  Once I put my glasses on, things snap into focus.  Without my glasses on, I can very easily miss something that is right under my nose.  With my glasses on, I can find it easily.  But I also have a tendency to take my glasses off and walk away from them.  Now I can navigate the house without my glasses, but I can’t read a darn thing without them.  So I better have my glasses on when I leave the house or else only be going to the corner store.  And if I want to pop something in the microwave, I have to go search for my glasses to read the instructions.

Does this make sense to you?  When I have my God glasses on, I’m able to more clearly see the blessings and answers to prayer.  When I have my God glasses on, I can navigate through life easier.  The road may not be any less curvy and hilly but I have a better chance of staying on the road when I have my God glasses on.

 

 

 

So get your God glasses out, put them on and keep them on.

February 5, 2012

Operation One Dollar

Filed under: Focusing on Others,Life,Uncategorized — my3daughters @ 12:27 am

I recently learned of a military family in need.  I understand that there are many families in need today, not just this one.  But God has laid it on my heart to help this is a family.

I’d love to send them a huge check to cover all they require, but I just don’t have the funds to spare.  While I only have a tiny bit of extra money, I have an abundance of something that is even better than money—I have friends!  Now, most of my friends are like me, with very little unused money, but they know lots of people. So I’m sitting here crocheting and talking to God and here’s what we came up with.

All of us have at least One Dollar in change in the bottom of our purse, in the console of our car or between the cushions of our couch.  If everyone we know gave that One Dollar, we’d collect several hundred in a hurry.

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So I am asking each of my friends to become an Operation One Dollar Chairperson.  What this means is that you ask all your friends, co-workers, and neighbors to donate One Dollar to the cause.  Then you as Chairperson would take the collected funds, get a gift card for a national store–Target, Kmart, WalMart, Babies R Us (they are expecting a baby girl in May), etc—and send it to me.  I’ll get the gift cards to the family.

Now, if someone wants to donate more than One Dollar, fantastic!  But all I am asking for is One Dollar.  This is so simple that even the kids I count as friends can do it.  And if someone can only give 50 cents, take it.  It all adds up.

The Good Angel on my shoulder is jumping up and down, excited because she believes that each and every one of my friends will accept the challenge to collect for Operation One Dollar.  The Bad Angel on my other shoulder is sitting there, arms and legs crossed, rolling her eyes and saying, “Are you serious? No one is going to do it.  No one ever does anything unless they benefit from it.”  Who are you going to prove right—the Good Angel or the Bad Angel?

Let’s see how much my friends can raise in the next three weeks.  My band kids stood in the cold for two hours at a time for three days last weekend and collected $4950.43, most of it in change (in other words, One Dollar at a time).  Surely in three weeks we can come up with even a fraction of what they made in three days.  If you can get one person a day to donate One Dollar, you will have $20 by the time Operation One Dollar ends.

Operation One Dollar starts now, Sunday, February 5.  Please have all gift cards in the mail to me by Saturday, February 25.  My address is PO Box 380662, Clinton Township, MI  48038.  (if you are local, you don’t have to mail the gift cards).

I’ve been on the receiving end of the generosity of others and I’ll bet you have been too.  This is our chance to “pay it forward.”  Plus, this isn’t just any family in need; this is a military family in need.  They give of themselves so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we do, so that we can sleep at night without fear.  One Dollar of your money and a little bit of your time—is that too much to ask when they give 365 days of their year and years of their life, and sometimes their life, for you?

Thank you in advance for your generosity and your compassion.

February 2, 2012

Sign Posts

Filed under: Life — my3daughters @ 12:51 pm

Some times it seems to me as if the Bad Guys are winning.  I tried to be a Bad Guy—selfish, self-centered, stomping on others in my quest to get ahead.  But I’m just not made that way.  So I argued with God; I yelled at God; I demanded a sign from God.  I wanted to know that I was on the right road.  This taking it day by day with no map to outline the journey is tough for a planner like me.  So I wanted some sign posts to guide me, damn it, and I wanted them NOW!  And despite the fact that I was being a whiny little brat, God gave me a sign.  In fact, He gave me several.  I can just picture it now:

 God (in an incredulous voice) “You want a sign? I’ll give you a sign!  I’ll give you four signs in less than two weeks.  Do you think you’ll get the message then? Do you?”

THE FIRST SIGN POST

It was Monday evening and I’d just dropped the girls off at their Dad’s after winterguard practice.  I was tired and discouraged and cold and broke.  I just wanted to go home and sleep for forever.  Then I got a message from a friend, “Did you check your mail today? I sent you something.”  This perked me up.  Seriously, who doesn’t like to get presents in the mail?  When I got to the post office, all that was in my box was junk mail.  Darn, maybe it didn’t get here yet.  Then a key fell out of the wad of flyers, a key for a parcel box, parcel box #7, lucky #7!  And what did I find in the parcel box?  A package with the Amazon smile on it.  Inside the package was a Kindle Fire!  My friend, now known as my Fairy Godmother, sent me a Kindle Fire!

I put a Kindle Fire on my Wants List at Thanksgiving time.  But my Needs List items kept taking priority and I knew the Kindle Fire would have to wait, and wait, and wait.

After jumping up and down and yelling “I got a Kindle Fire” in the post office parking lot, I headed home (fortunately no one called the cops on the crazy lady).  I called my youngest (most likely to answer her phone) and got voice mail.  Darn.  I called my middle child (rarely even has the ringer on) and got voice mail.  Darn.  I called my oldest (who answered), and after I woke her up by screaming in her ear “I got a Kindle Fire”, I proceeded to calm down long enough to tell her what my youngest now calls “The Story.” (Notice that, even while highly excited, I did not text and drive.  Texting and driving is wrong.  DO NOT do it.)

Fast forward over an hour to when I was finally calm again and getting ready for bed.  In the quiet I heard God tell me, “You asked for a sign.  The Kindle Fire is your sign.  Keep on doing what you are doing; keep on being the way you are.  I promised to provide all your needs according to my riches.  Your needs will be met, so I’ve moved on to your wants.”

THE SECOND SIGN POST

It’s Friday night, a weekend when I had my girls.  I was broke.  I had enough gas to get us where we needed to go for the weekend but what about job hunting next week?  I wasn’t sure exactly what we were going to be eating all weekend, there was no money to buy groceries.  Then a friend gave me three big bags of groceries.  That worry was handled.  A friend pulled me aside, placed folded up money in my hand and said “Don’t argue.  I’m just paying it forward.”  Pride told me to refuse but practicality won out.  Again, God was telling me “I promised to provide all your needs.”

THE THIRD SIGN POST

It’s Wednesday and my car insurance was past due.  I’m sure there’s a grace period in there somewhere but I didn’t even bother to ask how long it was.  I had no money coming in, no prospect of money coming in.  Someone handed me a folded up bill and said “Here’s a little something for you.”  This was the third time I’ve gotten money from this person, someone that I barely know.  Each time the money was the exact amount I needed at the exact time I needed it.  This time it was enough to pay my car insurance.  Before God could say anything, I said “I know, you are providing for my needs.  Thank you.”

THE FOURTH SIGN POST

It’s Thursday and again I just wanted to curl up in my warm cocoon of blankets and sleep.  But I needed to keep up the job search.  I found a free app for my Kindle Fire that gives me another source for jobs.  I also found a free book to download called “The Resume is Dead” by Nelson Wang.  It’s a great how to book on using “new media to land your dream job.”  I’d started reading it but I wasn’t sure that I could be that bold, be that brave.  Then this quote appeared in my Facebook news feed:

 Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.—Thomas Jefferson

Again, I felt that this was God telling me that I am on the right track even though I haven’t really “heard” from Him.  Probably because I got so excited that I started typing this blog and haven’t taken the time to be quiet.  But this fits in with my comment to Him earlier last month when I said “show me a sign that I’m going the right way or at least throw up road blocks if I’m going the wrong way.”

So, yes, I got the signs—all of them.  I got the message.  And now I’m passing the message on to you in case you need to hear it to0.  Your God will supply all your needs.  You just have to trust Him.  You just have to have faith.

January 22, 2012

Not a Rant but a Plea

Filed under: Focusing on Others,Life — my3daughters @ 10:09 pm

Apparently some people are very uncomfortable with the fact that I do not even attempt to hide my financial struggles.  You can’t “catch” poverty just by being around me.  And I’m not trying to whine or get handouts for myself or my children.  If you are truly my friend, you would understand this because you would understand me.  Your comfort, or lack of, is not my concern.  My concern is the shortage of compassion for people in situations similar to mine.

I am very involved in our Band Booster program.  I don’t do it for myself; I do it for the kids.  I love my band kids, past and present.  I want them to be able to have the best band experience they can.  Some of my fondest memories from high school are from band (yes I can really remember back that far).  I want to give these kids the same type of positive memories.

Band isn’t free, and with budget cuts from the state and the school district, we can’t even say it’s cheaper than say football or cheerleading.  Our Band Booster program works hard to make the program as affordable and accessible to as many students as possible.  We provide a number of fundraisers (only one of which is required) to help parents raise money to offset the costs of participating in band.  It’s possible to pay for everything—from lessons to reeds to uniforms—without any of it coming out of pocket.  Don’t believe me?  I have a friend you can talk to who will prove me right.  She has paid for everything for her child, including Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, by fundraising.

The economy is bad everywhere but really bad here in the state of Michigan.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Website, the unemployment rate in Michigan in November 2011 was 9.8%.  Nevada (13%), California (11.3%), Mississippi (10.5%), Rhode Island (10.5%), Florida (10%), Illinois (10%), North Carolina (10%), Georgia (9.9%), and South Carolina (9.9%) were higher but Michigan is still in the top 10 states with the highest unemployment. (November 2011 was the newest information to be had)

Unfortunately this means that families are cutting back on their spending.  And essentials such has housing, heat and food take precedence over activities such as band, sports, dance, etc.  If we don’t actively work to both keep costs down and give parents ways to raise the money, not everyone is going to be able to participate in these programs.  We have to be conscience of adding expenses, especially when these costs are for things not essential to the program.  Yes, these “extras” are nice but they aren’t crucial.  These “extras” need to be optional, not mandatory.  And when they are optional, parents need to feel free to opt no.  Mention it once and be done with it.  Don’t keep asking, sending “reminders” to pay if you can.  If we could, if we wanted to, we would have done so in the first place.

So here I am, a very vocal parent, putting my pride aside and going “hey, look, I’m broke.  I can’t afford that.  Do we seriously need that?  I’m already paying to play.  What’s with all the additional costs?”  This has resulted in gentle rebukes from friends telling me I talk about my situation too much.  Ouch, that hurts.  You say you are my friend yet you think I’m doing this for some selfish reason.

I’ve also had angry rants posted on Facebook and received nasty emails and text messages.  I’ve been told I’m immature, crazy and bipolar.  I’ve been told to shut up or I’ll regret it.  I’ve been cursed up one side and down the other and called a witch on a broom (well, actually the other word but I won’t use that here).  I’ve had it thrown in my face that I expect handouts, that I don’t pay my children’s dues and that everyone else has to carry me.  These actions don’t hurt but they do make me angry.  I do pay my children’s dues and if I’m going to be late, I let the appropriate people know.  I have NEVER asked for a handout for my children and have ALWAYS paid their way—for the mandatory costs and any of the optional items I am able to afford.  Not only do I not expect everyone else to carry me, I do a heck of a lot more than most people realize.  I do what I do for the program behind the scenes.  You may not realize I am doing it but you’d notice if I wasn’t doing it.  And trust me, I’m not the only one.  There’s a lot of hard work going on that you are not aware of when you come to see your child perform.  For every person up front gathering kudos and thanks, you have many more who never get recognition.  We don’t do it for the recognition.

I’m not going to stop being vocal about my situation.  I was raised to be considerate and caring about other people.  I was taught to look at things from another person’s point of view and not just my own.  And I was told that God puts us is tough situations, not only to test us and help us to grow, but so that we can honestly say “I understand.”  I’m not going to hide the situation God has put me in as if I’m embarrassed about it.  I’m going to use it to glorify Him and to help others.  I know what it’s like to feel as if you are completely alone.  I don’t want others to feel that way.

Let me explain one more thing—this is not a rant about our Band Boosters, a group I respect greatly.  I just use them as an example because, even though everyone intends the best, you get a few people who can’t see the big picture.  I have seen this happen in sports teams, dance teams, even youth groups.  The people responsible for making the decisions make them based on their income, not even considering what others might be able to afford.  And since most families with low incomes have both parents working (sometimes more than one job) or are single parent families (still sometimes with more than one job), those with larger incomes end up being the ones in charge.  They’re the ones who have the time and the energy to volunteer.  This is not a rant against those people either.  This is a plea to them to have compassion, to look beyond themselves and see as others see.  I know this is possible because I observe it daily in the lives of many outstanding parent volunteers.  Unfortunately, it’s the self-centered minority who stand out.

So if you ever find yourself in the position of making a decision on the cost of something for a group, take time to consider those you are representing.  It may be a little more work, take a little more effort, but it can be done.

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October 28, 2011

I will not say “I am a Christian”

Filed under: Life — my3daughters @ 1:38 pm

You can debate Biblical issues and mysteries until you are blue in the face. Heck, you can do it in the original Greek for all I care. You can occupy a pew every time the church doors are open. You can memorize the entire Prayer Book, or even the entire Bible. BUT, if your daily actions don’t mirror Christ, in my opinion you are an epic failure.

I’ve stopped telling people I’m a Christian. Instead I say that I have a faith that sustains me. Because if I have a negative view of the term “Christian” because of the actions of others, imagine how a non-believer feels. It’s a total turn off. I was raised in the church, there every time the doors were open. I went to Sunday School, Youth Group, Youth Camp, Church Camp, VBS and Bible College. Yet, until I learned to look at God instead of “Christians”, I wasn’t interested. I walked away from God because I was so disgusted. I considered Buddhism, I tried witchcraft. Fortunately, while I had walked away from God, He had not walked away from me. He brought me to a church of good people, most of whom do their best to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. It was a different denomination than I was raised in and I have had “good Christians” turn their back on me because of that. Instead of being happy that I was again walking with God, they were angry that I wasn’t attending an “approved” church. GAG

I am a very simple person. I live by the motto, “God said it, I believe it, and that’s good enough for me.” God tells me not to worry so I try not to worry. God tells me to love my neighbor, so I try to love my neighbor. I can’t do these things on my own. It is God working through me. And I fail as often as I succeed. But, as Paul told the Philippians, “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6, New American Standard Bible). So I’m going to keep on trying.

Life is hard, my life is hard. There are days when I am so lonely I ache. There are days when I just don’t want to go on. But I get through it because I tell myself that God is in control. Recently I told someone that I wasn’t worried because God is in control. Their reply was that “the apostles believed that and look where it got them.” No, this wasn’t a non-believer. This was a Christian, a leader in their church. I know this person considers themselves a good Christian and a wise scholar. I have never, in all my years of reading and studying the Bible, ever gotten the impression that the apostles were miserable and unhappy with their lot in life. Besides, look where that got them—eternity with Christ. Darn, wish I would have thought of that when this was said to me.

I recently got a new job. My boss is a Christian. I haven’t interacted with him much but he seems to truly walk the walk and not just talk the talk. I mentioned to someone that I was happy to have a Christian boss. They told me that’s not necessarily a good thing. Then they proceeded to give me examples of “Christian” businesses with less than Christian like practices. “Well, then they aren’t truly Christians” I replied. I was told that Christian bosses are usually tightwads, not wanting to give their employees more pay, more benefits, etc. Does being a Christian make you stupid? Even if you are a Christian, you are running a business, not a charity. You got into that business to make a profit. As long as you aren’t making that profit by immoral or illegal means, you have a right to make a profit. But too many people, even those who call themselves Christians, think that Christian businesses shouldn’t worry about a profit. “Money is the root of all evil” they say. First off, you are misquoting I Timothy 6:10. It’s the LOVE of money that is the root of “all sorts of evil” (NASB). And if money is so evil, why are you upset that your Christian employer isn’t paying you enough? Oh, because it’s evil when they want it but not when you do. Can you say “double standard” and “hypocrite”?

I also had a “good Christian” tell me they were cynical like that’s a good thing. The word cynical isn’t even in the New American Standard Bible. I know. I just did a search for it on Bible Gateway. To me, someone who is cynical doubts. James 1:6 tells me that “the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” I don’t want to be like that. I want to be stand firm on the foundation of the hope of what God has promised me.

According to Microsoft Word’s built in thesaurus, you can substitute pessimistic, mocking, skeptical, sarcastic, distrustful, suspicious, contemptuous, or disparaging for cynical. Um, yeah, I checked and none of these are fruits of the spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23, NASB)

My friend Judy says that we should “preach the gospel daily. When necessary, use words.” I am so glad that I have finally learned to look to God as my example. If I look at many of those who label themselves as Christians, I wouldn’t be one. I hope no one says that about me.

I recently had a discussion with a young woman who is doubting her faith. She has a “Christian” boyfriend from a “Christian” family who attend a different denomination than she was raised in. She now attends church with him since that’s what he and his family expect from her. He has refused to attend her church because it’s the “wrong” denomination. From the sound of things (having never attended his church I can’t say for sure) they spend a lot of time at his church talking about how wrong other religions and denominations are. Wow, that’s loving, NOT. She isn’t comfortable with that—good for her. I explained to her that no relationship will work long term unless God is at the center. And if her boyfriend is unwilling to work with her to find a church that they are both comfortable in then she needs to get a new boyfriend.

I know church leaders, even ordained ministers, who make me want to say “if that’s a Christian, I don’t want to be one.” I don’t ever want anyone to look at me and say that. I can’t change others but I can change myself. So when I see behavior that isn’t appealing, I look at my life and see if that’s something I need to fix. And if even one person reads this and says “I need to be more Christ-like in my actions” then this was worth it.

May 7, 2011

Moms Come in All Shapes and Sizes

Filed under: Life,Parenting — my3daughters @ 9:36 am

“An excellent woman, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels”  Proverbs 31:10

Moms come in all shapes and sizes—tall, short, thin, pleasingly plump.  They have every color of hair, eyes and skin under the sun.  There are rich Moms and poor Moms, Moms from every religion and some who do not practice a religion.  Some Moms are good Moms, some aren’t.  But I don’t want to focus on the negative on such a beautiful day so I’m just going to talk about good Moms.  It is my prayer that every child has at least one of the following types of Moms in his/her life.

SAHM (Stay-at-Home Mom):  Yes folks, she works, she just doesn’t work outside the home.  Taking care of a family is a full-time job.  It’s 24/7.  And in my opinion, it’s the most important job in the world, bar none (sorry Mr President).

Working Mom:  Yes, yes, I know, every Mom is working Mom (didn’t I just say that?).  In this instance I am talking about Moms who earn an income (since Professional Parent is only an occupation in JD Robb books so far).  This type of Mom may work because she wants to or because she has to.  No matter what the reason, she still finds time to be with her children, sacrificing personal time or sleep (or both) to ensure that they aren’t neglected.

Single Parent Moms:  For whatever reason—death, dismemberment, divorce, distance, disinterest—Dad just isn’t in the picture.  This Mom has to know it all and do it all.  She has to cook, clean, do the laundry, cut the grass, fix the leaky faucet, help with the school project  . . . the list goes on and on.  I suggest that if you know a Single Parent Mom, you do what you can to help ease her load.

Military Spouse Moms:  A lot of times Military Spouse Moms are also Single Parent Moms because Dad is off protecting our country.  Not only is she doing it all, she’s doing it all while missing a part of her heart, while worrying about her husband’s safety.

Military Moms:   Military Moms fall into one of two subcategories, Blue Star Moms and Gold Star Moms.  A Blue Star Mom has a son or daughter (and sometimes more than one) serving in our military.  A Gold Star Mom has made the ultimate sacrifice.  Her son or daughter (and sometimes more than one) gave their life to protect our country.  To the Gold Star Moms I say “Thank you for your sacrifice.  My heart aches with you for your loss.”  It is my hope and prayer that the Blue Star Moms will never have to change that Blue Star flag in their window to a Gold Star flag.

Step-Moms:  This group of Moms has gotten a lot of bad press in the past.  However, there are good Step-Moms out there, really.  These women put the needs of the children before their own needs.  They don’t try to replace their step-children’s Mom.  Instead they are an extra maternal presence.  If you are blessed enough to have one of these types of Step-Moms for your children, make sure you thank her often.

Mom-in-Laws:  This is another group that has gotten a lot of bad press.  Not all MILs are bad.  I myself have a wonderful MIL, actually an ex-MIL.  I want to be just like her when I grow up.  Donna Buffa is a warm and caring Mom.   I know I can count on her to be there for me even though I divorced her son 20 years ago.  I love you, Mum.  Thank you for everything.

Birth Moms:  Your Birth Mom is the woman who carried you in her body, under her heart for nine months (give or take).  This is the woman who gave your life.  This also gives her the right to say, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out.”  (not that she ever would, but she has the right to say it)  Some Birth Moms, for whatever reason, give their child up for adoption.  I have a Birth Mom out there somewhere.  If by some strange chance you are reading this, thank you for giving me life.

Adoptive Moms:  If you are lucky, when your Birth Mom gives you up for adoption, you get an Adoptive Mom.  With Adoptive Moms, you never have to worry about having been a “mistake” because you were chosen.  My Mom, Phyllis Lindey Hickey, took me into her heart and life as a newborn baby.  She loved me until the day she died.  Twelve years later I can still feel her presence and her influence in my life.  Thanks, Mom.  You may not have given me life but you gave me a life.  I love you and miss you.

Moms of the Heart:  Another term for this would be Second Mom.  This is usually a female relative, family friend or neighbor that you form a close bond with.  My Mom of the Heart is my Mom’s sister, my Aunty, Olive Lindey Cope.  She passed away a year and a half ago.  I still want to call her just to talk.  Unfortunately, Verizon doesn’t include heaven in their coverage area.

Foster Moms: This has to be the toughest kind of Mom to be.  These children come into your home, you open your heart to them, loving them even as a part of you knows that they may not be around for long.  The other women I’ve mentioned by name are my Moms.  I have a dear friend who is a Foster Mom, Sharon Nifong of David’s House Ministries.  Please keep Sharon in your prayers as she opens her heart to the children God sends her way.

Band Moms:  Okay, so maybe this should be Choir Moms or Friend’s Moms but I’m a Band Mom so I’m calling it Band Moms.  This is the Mom you know from Band (or Choir or your friend’s house).  She cares about you, will listen to you, encourage you, yell at you when you get out of line.  Thanks to all the Band Kids, past and present, who have allowed me into their lives.  I love you all bunches and bunches.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms I know.  May you be blessed and appreciated, not only on Mother’s Day but every day.

April 22, 2011

Let Me Serve

Filed under: Life,Uncategorized — my3daughters @ 11:13 am

I love being Anglican  I love celebrating the different seasons of the church year.  It’s the same Bible I grew up with, the same stories, but brought to life in such an awesome way.  As Father Terry said last night, we take the events of the past and don’t just remember them, we bring them forward into the present and live them again.

Last night’s Maundy Thursday service was all about The Last Supper.  How many times have I heard that story?  Yet I saw it as if it was something completely new.  Never before did it occur to me that Jesus sat down and broke bread with friends that he KNEW would basically stab Him in the back before the sun rose the next morning.  He KNEW Judas was going to betray Him.  He KNEW Peter was going to deny Him, not once but three times.  He KNEW that He would be standing all alone, that the rest would desert Him and hide behind locked doors.

And not only did He eat with them, He SERVED them.  He washed their feet, a very humbling act.  Part of our Maundy Thursday service is a Foot Washing.  While the foot washing is going on, we sing The Servant Song by Richard Gillard.  (click on the link to see a video of him singing the song)

Brother, let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I may have the grace
To let you be my servant, too

We are pilgrims on a journey
We are brothers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load

I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the night-time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the peace you long to hear

I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh I’ll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through

The words in bold italics are the ones that really jumped out at me last night.  I have a lot going on in my life right now.  Its hard to focus on the needs of others when my own needs overwhelm me.  But I don’t have more going on that Jesus did that night.  He knew what was going to happen, and it was not pleasant.  Yet He served.  Far be it from me to be above serving.

April 20, 2011

Peace in the Shelter of His Wings

Filed under: Life — my3daughters @ 10:31 pm

W hen my heart is aching, when I feel I can’t go on, I run to the shelter of His wings . . . . . . . and there I find peace.

Tonight was our Tenebrae Service for Holy Week. (Tenebrae is the Latin word for “darkness” or “shadows”)  I arrived at church with a heavy heart, tears flowing from frustration, hurt and anger.  By the time service started, the peace of God’s home had begun to sooth me.  The service lifted my spirits and gave me hope and joy.  Following are my reflections and notes of various things that really touched me.  If you would like to read the service in its entirety, please let me know and I will see that you get a copy.  Note that there were fifteen candles on the altar at the beginning of the service.  After each Antiphon, an acolyte (in this case Nathaniel who is too cute) extinguished a candle.

Antiphon 1 was Psalm 69:1-23.  I felt as if I could have written this Psalm.  It was comforting to read it and know that I am not the first person to have felt like this.

1  Save me, O God, for the waters have risen up to my neck.

2  I am sinking in deep mire, and there is no firm ground for my feet

3  I have come into deep waters, and the torrent washes over me.

4  I have grown weary with my crying; my throat is inflamed; my eyes have failed from looking for my   God.

5  Those who hate me without cause are more than the hairs of my head; my lying foes who would destroy me are mighty.  Must I then give back what I never stole?

6  O God, You know my foolishness, and my faults are not hidden from You.

7  Let not those who hope in You be put to shame through me, Lord God of hosts; let not those who seek You be disgraced because of me, O God of Israel.

14  But as for me, this is my prayer to You, at the time You have set, O Lord;

15   “In Your great mercy, O God, answer me with Your unfailing help.

16  Save me from the mire; do not let me sink; let me be rescued from those who hate me and out of the deep waters.

18  Answer me, O Lord, for Your love is kind; in Your great compassion, turn to me.

19  Hide not Your face from Your servant; be swift and answer me, for I am in distress.

20  Draw near to me and redeem me; because of my enemies deliver me.

21   You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor; my adversaries are all in Your sight.”

22  Reproach has broken my heart, and it cannot be healed; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I could find no one.

Antiphon 2 was Psalm 70.  Again, I could totally relate.

1   Be please, O God, to deliver me; O Lord, make haste to help me.

2  Let those who seek my life be ashamed and altogether dismayed; let those who take pleasure in my misfortune draw back and be disgraced.

5  But as for me, I am poor and needy; come to me speedily, O God.

6  You are my Helper and my Deliverer; O Lord do not tarry.

Antiphon 3 was Psalm 74.  Verse 20 reads “Let not the oppressed turn away ashamed; let the poor and needy praise Your Name.”  Yeap, I’m the oppressed, the poor, the needy.  I don’t want to turn away ashamed so I need to praise His Name.

Lessons 1-3 were a reading from the Lamentations of Jeremiah the Prophet (1:1-14).  Jeremiah’s descriptions sounded as if they were describing me.  “She weeps bitterly in the night, tears run down her cheeks; . . . Judah has gone into the misery of exile and of hard servitude; she dwells now among the nations, but finds no resting place; . . . Jerusalem remembers in the days of her affliction and bitterness all the precious things that were hers from the days of old; “.  At the end of each Lesson was the line “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, return to the Lord your God.”  I personalized it to be “Dawn, Dawn, return to the Lord your God.” (not out loud of course, especially since I was the reader for these lessons)

Antiphon 4 was Psalm 2.  I liked the last verse.  It gave me hope.  “Happy are they all who take refuge in Him!” (v 13)  Although I am not one to put stock in happiness, which is fleeting, I am claiming this verse as my own.  I’m just changing it to “Joyful are they . . .” since joy is lasting.

Antiphon 5 was Psalm 22:1-21.  Could anything describe my feelings better?

1  My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? And are so far from my cry and from the words of my distress?

2  O my God, I cry in the daytime, but you do not answer; by night as well, but I find no rest.

10  I have been entrusted to You ever since I was born; You were my God when I was still in my mother’s womb.

11  Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.

Antiphon 6 was Psalm 27, one of my favorite Psalms.

1  The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom then shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?

7  For in the day of trouble He shall keep me safe in His shelter, He shall hide me in the secrecy of His dwelling and set me high upon a rock. (those of you familiar with Jan Karon’s Mitford series may recognize this as Olivia’s Life Verse)

8  Even now He lifts up my head above my enemies round about me. (to me that was an immediate victory—even now in the midst of my misery He is lifting up my head through this service)

Lessons 4-6 were a reading from the Treatise of Saint Augustine the Bishop on the Psalms.  It started out with a cry that I could readily apply to my life.  “Hear my prayer, O God; do not hide Yourself from my petition.  Listen to me and answer me.  I mourn in my trial and am troubled.”

Saint Augustine said that “Every wicked person lives either that he may be corrected, or that through him the righteous may be tried and tested.”  When I heard that I thought “I’m being tried and tested.”  A little further on Saint Augustine reminded me that “most of the time, when you think you are hating your enemy, you are hating your brother without knowing it.”  My response—Ouch.

Lesson 6 talked about the glory of the cross.  I love the line “He has conquered the world, not by steel, but by wood.”  Many times I’ve heard that the pen is mightier than the sword.  In the great game of eternal rock/paper/scissors, wood conquers all.

Antiphon 7, Psalm 54, began and ended with the entire congregation saying “God is my helper; it is the Lord who sustains my life.”

Antiphon 8 was Psalm 76.  Verse 11 told me to “Make a vow to the Lord your God and keep it; let all around Him bring gifts to Him who is worthy to be feared.”  I vow to tithe 10% and then back off when things get tight.  I vow to have daily devotions and then get distracted.  It’s time for me to make the vow and keep it.

Antiphon 9, Psalm 88, was a perfect description of where I was at when I walked into church tonight.  Literally, I felt like I’ve been crying out constantly for help and not being heard.  Many times I have thought of ending my life.  Thankfully I have friends who always seem to pop up to encourage me when I need them most.  And not just local friends who can see on my face, in my demeanor, that I am hurting.  My most supportive friends are miles away in other states and even in other countries.  I thank God that they are sensitive to the leading of His Spirit and reach out to me.

1  O Lord, my God, my Savior, by day and night I cry to you.

2  Let my prayer enter into Your presence; incline Your ear to my lamentation.

3  For I am full of trouble; my life is at the brink of the grave.

Lessons 7-9 were from the Letter to the Hebrews (4:15-5:10; 9:11-15a).  This was exactly what I was learning as I participated in tonight’s service.  “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning.  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Antiphon 10 was Psalm 63:1-8.  “O God, You are my God; eagerly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh faints for You, as in a barren and dry land where there is no water.” (v 1)  This does not describe me at the moment but it’s where I need to be.  I want to be able to say, “My soul clings to You; Your right hand holds me fast.” (v 8)  (I know there’s something significant in that it’s the right hand but I can’t remember what it is.  If you’ve read this far and know the answer, please post in the comments, thanks)

Antiphon 11 was Psalm 90:1-12.  Nothing really spoke to my heart from this one but I didn’t want you to wonder why I skipped from Antiphon 10 to Antiphon 12.

Antiphon 12, Psalm 143, was again something that could have been written from my own heart.  I really don’t understand why people feel they are holier if they have “original” prayers.  Why improve on the perfection that is the Bible?

1   Lord, hear my prayer, and in Your faithfulness heed my supplications; answer me in Your righteousness.

3  For my enemy has sought my life; he has crushed me to the ground; he has made me live in dark places like those who are long dead.

4  My spirit faints within me; my heart within me is desolate;

5  I remember the time past; I muse upon all your deeds; I consider the works of your hands. (I’m counting my blessings, or at least trying to)

6  I spread out my hands to you; my soul gasps to you like a thirsty land.

8  Let me hear of Your loving-kindness in the morning, for I put my trust in you; show me the road that I must walk, for I lift up my soul to You. (and if that could be tomorrow  morning, Lord, it would be extra great, thanks)

10 Teach me to do what pleases you, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.  (please, oh please, give me some direction.  I am so lost)

Antiphon 13 was The Song of Hezekiah (Isaiah 38:10-20).  You were expecting another Psalm weren’t you?  Verse 7 is my prayer—“My weary eyes look up to you; Lord be my refuge in my affliction.”

Antiphon 14 brought us back to the Psalms with Psalm 150, the last Psalm.  It ended with “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” (v 6)

Remember, we had been extinguishing one candle of the fifteen on the altar after each Antiphon.  If you’ve been paying attention you will see that there was one candle left.  Remember also that this was evening in Michigan (service started at 7:00 pm) so the entire nave was lit by one solitary candle.  Actually, the lights were on very low because we still had one more Antiphon to go, Canticle 16:  Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel.  At the end of this Antiphon, the entire congregation said “Now the women sitting at the tomb made lamentation, weeping for the Lord.”  Then the remaining candle was taken from the altar and removed from sight (and the lights were turned out).

We said the Christus factus est—“Christ for us became obedient unto death, even death on a cross; therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the Name which is above every name.”  After a brief silence was observed, we quietly said Psalm 51.  (the rubric says to read it quietly but I think part of the quiet was because it was hard to see the words in the dark).  I like verse 9 “Make me hear of joy and gladness, that the body you have broken may rejoice.”

Deacon Bob concluded with a Collect.  In the silence that followed a noise was made (Joseph:  “What was that noise?), the fifteenth candle was brought back in and everyone departed in silence.

Hanging on by a Very Thin Thread

Filed under: Life — my3daughters @ 6:01 pm

I’ve been doing everything in my power to stay in Michigan so that I can be involved in my children’s lives.  I have no job, no vehicle and no home.  Contrary to popular belief, I am not laying around all day playing Facebook and mooching off others.  I have applied for every job opening that I am even remotely qualified for, followed up on every job lead that someone has told me about and gone on every interview I have been asked to participate in.

Until I get a job, I cannot even think about trying to find a place to live. Unemployment doesn’t pay me enough even before they take half of it to give my 6 figure a year ex-husband his court ordered child support.  And before you ask, not that it’s any of your business, but I have to pay him child support because, although we have joint custody, his residence is listed as the primary one.  And no, I cannot ask for a reduction in child support because I’m on unemployment.  Michigan Friend of the Court will not even consider changing a court ordered amount while I am on unemployment.

“Surely there must be some sort of help,” you say.  “Have you gone to the Department of Human Services?  Have you applied for Section 8 Housing?”  Again, not that it’s any of your business, but yes I have.

I have commitments here in Michigan until May 22.  I had set this as my “deadline.”  The plan was that if I hadn’t found a job by then, I was going to have to leave my children and move back to Pennsylvania.  First off, I am not one of those people who had children just to say I did so.  I had children because I wanted them, because I wanted to be involved in their lives.  So moving 300+ miles away is not my idea of a good time.  Secondly, note that I did not say I was moving back to Fayette City.  Apparently, moving back home is not an option.  I can’t say for certain because I haven’t been able to get a response to my calls, emails or text messages.   I’m just assuming I’m not welcome.  Fortunately, I do have friends willing to welcome me into their home.

I honestly don’t know if I can make it another day in Michigan, much less another month.  Continuing to pick myself up, dust myself off and continue the fight is getting too difficult.  And it doesn’t help that there are so many people who seem to delight in kicking me when I’m down.  For those who look down on me because I “spend too much time on Facebook” let me say this—“Be glad that I do spend so much time on Facebook.  I have friends on there who support me and encourage me.  If it wasn’t for my constant contact with them, you would be walking around with the guilt of knowing that you were part of the reason I blew my brains out.”  Of course, you are so self-centered that you would never dream that it was your fault.  Plus you would probably agree with the family member who told me that I deserve all the misery I get, that I asked for it and that if my friends knew the true me that they wouldn’t support me (this family member has spent about 2 days with me in the past 20 years so I’m not sure how they think they know the real me).

To each and every one of my friends who has helped me keep going by encouraging me, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  If you have someone in your life who blesses you even a tiny bit as much as you have blessed me, you will be blessed indeed.

To each and every one of you who have looked down your nose at me, kicked me when I was down and basically helped to make my life even more of a living hell than it already is, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  While the right thing for me to do would be to never wish this or any misery on you, what I really wish is that you will eventually get as good as you gave.

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