Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Leave the Light On

Photo Courtesy of Google Images


Every year around Christmas time I feel like there is a new theme God brings to my mind. This year, it has been lights. I love Christmas lights. Adore them. They make me happy. I'm not a good winter, cold weather, gray days kind of person. We don't have many in Florida, but we have enough to make me start feeling a little melancholy. Seeing bright lights at Christmas time always makes the "winter" dreariness a little more bearable.

A few Sundays ago I was trying to think of something new to do with the kids in children's church. I happened to see an extra string of lights laying around and decided to use that to teach them what Jesus said about being a light. 

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." 

~Matthew 5:16

We plugged in the lights and talked about what a difference they made in our sad, dark room. Then, we unplugged the lights and talked about how without the power, there wasn't much to them. That's when we talked about how Jesus is the light that shines in us.

"Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.

~John 8:12

After the events of last Friday, it felt like a darkness fell on our country. It was a devastation that even those of us not closely related couldn't escape. Pain. Despair. Questions. Hurt. Betrayal. 

I've heard people talk about not being able to celebrate Christmas or feeling guilty if they were. I totally understand that sentiment. I was at my work Christmas party when we stopped to watch the breaking news. A room full of women who have devoted their lives and careers to working with and protecting children cried in the midst of cookies, cakes and gifts. 

While I would never even want to imagine what those families are going through, I do understand loss at this time. In fact, although I lost my Daddy on Christmas day,  today, December 19th is the day that he became unresponsive and was taken to the hospital. He never woke up. So, for me this is the day that I feel I lost my Dad. As he left this earth on Christmas Day, people would always comment on how the holidays would never be the same. And, that was the truth. But for me, that loss has caused me to have such a deep appreciation for this time of year. I experienced God's peace in a way that  I never had. As crazy as it sounds, I also feel like because it happened at this time of year, it is almost easier because things are so crazy and busy, I just don't have much time to dwell on it. It doesn't mean it's easy. Just easier.

When news broke Friday, it was overwhelming. I finally had to turn the news off. I just couldn't take it. There would have been a time that I would have wanted to know every detail, follow every new lead that broke. I would have felt that I owed it to those families. God taught me about that when I lost my Dad.

For 2 weeks after he passed I would lay in bed unable to sleep. Scenes from the hospital would replay in my mind constantly. I felt haunted by thoughts of my Dad suffering. I wondered if I would ever sleep again. Finally, one night I asked God, "Do I have to think about this? Is this necessary? Can I heal without replaying these thoughts?" And God brought His Word to my mind.

"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble,whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. "

I decided that I would have to make a choice to not let my mind linger in dark places. I would have to work at thinking on the noble, just, pure and lovely things. Basically, I would have to search for the Light in that situation and focus on Him. He was there and He used so many people to be His arms and feet caring for and ministering to our family. He was the hope. He still is. 

We live in a dark, dark world. The enemy came to "stealand to killand to destroy." (Job 10:10) and he has certainly done that. We have to remember that the enemy does those things, not our Heavenly Father. Jesus said, I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." He is the Light in the darkness.

I've never craved that Light more than I have this Christmas season. Our world needs it more than ever. 

Last night I got home late and was surprised to find that Josh had decorated the outside of our house with Christmas lights. It did more for my heart than I could ever say. I cried. Over Christmas lights, y'all. I felt conflicted. Is it wrong to light up the house and celebrate while others suffer? Others may disagree with me, but I feel that more than ever, we need to celebrate. We need to celebrate the life we have and the people in it. We need to celebrate the Light that God sent to shine in the darkness. And that Light needs to shine in us, as well. 


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Roller Coaster




Motherhood is such a roller coaster, isn't it? My ride this week has felt like one of the ones that makes it onto the list of "Top Most Terrifying Rides" or something to that affect. The highs and lows have been intense and the recovery time in between has been brief. I think I have emotional whiplash from the quick turns.


Some of the highs have been some sweet conversations with my kids, seeing the finished product of a handmade present Eli made for his Daddy and wrapped by himself, and creating a fruit wreathe for Eli's Christmas party at school.

The lows have been hard. Tough conversations with my kids about things they were exposed to that I wish they hadn't been. Feeling very irritable and frustrated because they are excited and want to help with Christmas things, but sometimes I'm not patient enough to let them help. Wading through a house covered in laundry and unfinished projects and constantly feeling like I can't keep up. Am I the only one?

I have always been an overachiever by nature. That's not to say that I have always successfully achieved the things I've strived to, but I can say that there is no doubt that nothing else in life has made me feel more inadequate than motherhood. I can't think of anything I've done in life that would qualify me as "the best", but I also can't think of anything that at times makes me feel like the bottom of the barrel worst. Except for being a mom.

I've come to the realization that a lot of it is control issues. Let's face it, from the moment you bring a baby home you learn very quickly that there are just a lot of things you are no longer in control of. The fact that your bathing schedule revolves around someone who weighs less than 10 pounds and can't talk is your first clue. Then, they get older and it takes 14.5 hours to get everybody ready for school, and you forget to grab the pillow pet for your kindergartner, and you are toting a fruit wreathe and remembering you forgot to write 3 notes so your kids can ride the bus home. Then, you are relieved to see another kid get dropped off late that looks like he literally just rolled out of bed. Wait. Was that just  my morning?

I have a tendency to be really hard on myself. I think my most used phrase this week has been "I'm a failure". Not only am I a failure, I'm also a little melodramatic. :)

fail·ure (flyr)
n.
1. The condition or fact of not achieving the desired end or ends: the failure of an experiment.
2. One that fails: a failure at one's career.
3. The condition or fact of being insufficient or falling short: a crop failure.
4. A cessation of proper functioning or performance: a power failure.
5. Nonperformance of what is requested or expected; omission: failure to report a change of address.
6. The act or fact of failing to pass a course, test, or assignment.
7. A decline in strength or effectiveness.
8. The act or fact of becoming bankrupt or insolvent.
On the other hand, the definition of success is:
suc·cess (sk-ss)
n.
1. The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted: attributed their success in business to hard work.
2.
a. The gaining of fame or prosperity: an artist spoiled by success.
b. The extent of such gain.
3. One that is successful: The plan was a success.
4. Obsolete A result or an outcome.
As I look at these I begin to understand why I feel so defeated most of the time. Both of these talk about achieving or not achieving something desired, planned or attempted.  And therein lies the issue. I am a failure at keeping up with my children's socks. I am a failure at always feeding them healthy food. I am a failure at teaching them to pick up after themselves. I have not achieved the desired end results with those things.
But are those the marks of motherhood? Of course they are important things, but do they define motherhood? I guess that is what is so hard. When you leave the hospital with a baby you are given instructions on feeding and bathing that baby. You are told how to care for yourself until you heal. But no one hands you a job description with specific duties and responsibilities. Whether you succeed or fail depends heavily on how you define those terms.
I know people who consider keeping their kids alive and them graduating from high school the highest goal. I know people who micromanage every second of their child's life and consider sending them to school with a hair out of place a failure. Having 3 children and having worked with many children over the last several years, I've realized that a lot of times I feel like I'm on a roller coaster as a mom because I have jumped on somebody else's ride. Instead of learning what my goal for motherhood is, I've tried to latch onto other's ideals for raising children. So with that realization comes the truth that I need to know exactly what it is I am trying to accomplish as a mother.
When I got married, I knew what kind of wife I wanted to be because the Bible told me what kind of wife I should be. (Proverbs 31, Colossians 3:18). As an employee I feel confident in who God wants me to be. (Colossians 3:17) I learned about being a friend, too. (Proverbs 17:17) But it occurred to me that when God handed me one of the most important jobs of my life, I didn't invest much time in seeking what He had to say about it. I think that is because I thought mothering would come naturally. Some parts do. A lot of parts don't. That's because I am an imperfect human with a sinful nature. The human part of me loves being able to dress my kids in cute clothes, cuddle with them and feel the pride when they do something great. The imperfect, sinful part of me gets tired and grumpy and frustrated and is often selfish when I need to be selfless.
Our society has a tendency to see children as tokens or status symbols. We parade them around or relive our childhoods through them. We work hard to give them things and experiences. We run ourselves ragged going to activities and trying to make memories with them. And none of those things are bad, unless those things begin to be more about us than about the kids. Often it seems like we become more concerned with proving what great parents we are and less concerned with actually nurturing the relationships we have with the blessings we have called children.
This has been my struggle. My kids have reached ages where we are dealing with new issues. They are becoming more independent, more exposed to life. I can't always shelter them the way I would like to. They have their own thoughts, personalities, and struggles. They always have, they can just communicate them better now. They are more than faces I put on a Christmas card. They are living, breathing people who need to be mothered. They need love and compassion and guidance. And every now and then, a talking to. I don't always know how to handle every situation. Sometimes I mess it up big time. I question why God thought it was a good idea to give kids to someone as imperfect as me. Did He think that through? Is it fair to these kids? Then, I am reminded as my kids begin to deal with things like feeling like people don't want to be their friend or not undrstanding math, the one thing I have experience with is being human. I don't have all the answers, but I have experience with the struggle.
 We recently received a Christmas card with a picture of Mary holding baby Jesus that says, "Kissing the Face of God". And I began to think about Mary and what it meant that God would choose her to be the mother of His Son. And then I wondered, why isn't there a book in the Bible totally devoted to how Mary raised Jesus? Wouldn't that be great if we had a play by play of what kind of mother she was? Did she read to him every night and bake cookies? Did she let him cry it out or did she rock him to sleep? I don't know why those early years of Jesus' life weren't considered important enough to be included in God's Word, but I'm going to bet that those years were filled with a lot of learning. Mary was human too, and that's what God needed. For God to become Emmanuel "God with us", He needed a human to help Him journey through an earthly existence that would include pain, questions, trials and temptations. And He needed a human who, while not perfect, would depend on and point her children to the One who is.
As I began to search for what God's Word does say about children, the most common thing I read is that we are responsible for teaching our children, not just what we have read about God, but what we have experienced with God.
"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.”
-Deuteronomy 4:9-10
I found these verses and they spoke to me more than any others. Jacob recognized that children moved at a different pace. I always fall in this area. I become the most frustrated and impatient when our life is busy and we are doing too much. I do not always remember or recognize that I need to slow down and that we need to move at "the pace of the children". Their hearts and minds are tender and they need more time to develop and explore. It is my job to keep life manageable and control the stress level. It is also my job to help my children grow at their own pace, not pushing them to be like someone else or pushing them to grow up too fast.
"Then Esau said, “Let us be on our way; I’ll accompany you.”  But Jacob said to him, “My lord knows that the children are tender and that I must care for the ewes and cows that are nursing their young. If they are driven hard just one day, all the animals will die.So let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace of the flocks and herds before me and the pace of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”
-Genesis 33:12-14

It is also my job to encourage my children to praise God. I can do this by taking them to church, but the greatest way I can do this is by them hearing me praise God.
"Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
-Matthew 19:14

"Through the praise of children and infants
you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger."
-Psalm 8:2
"But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant.  “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him.
“Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read,


“‘From the lips of children and infants
you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”
-Matthew 21:15-16
Verse 25 was shared with us when we first went into ministry. But I just recently paid attention to verse 26. It says the righteous (God's Children who have accepted Christ as their Savior) will be generous and their children will be a blessing. I think it is so important that while we live in a culture that teaches us to perform for applause and to take what we can get, what we should really desire is for our children to be a blessing to others. Again, we see that they learn that by observing it in our lives first.
"I was young and now I am old,
yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
 They are always generous and lend freely;
their children will be a blessing."
-Psalm 37:25-26
Discipline is always a hot topic button. I don't want this to cause controversy. I would never pretend to be smart enough to tell you how to discipline your child. In fact, I believe very strongly that every child is different and responds to different forms of discipline. I will say, just make sure you discipline them! Things that are cute when a child is 2 will not be cute when they are 10, I promise. The Bible teaches us that discipline is a way we show we love our children and that we save them from destruction later in life. I hate times when I feel like all I do is get on to my kids. But,  this is a part of motherhood that cannot be ignored.
"Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them."
-Proverbs 13:24
"Discipline your children, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to their death"
Proverbs 19:18
"Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire."
Proverbs 29:17
At the same time, we have to check ourselves that we are not causing issues for our children with our own sinfulness. It is so important that we deal with anger, bitterness, frustration, jealousy, fear, anxiety and a whole host of other issues that affect us all. The greatest gift we can give our children is to allow the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts. Regardless of how we feel about them, if we are hurting because of other issues, it will become their issue. We will end up taking it out on them at some point.
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord."
-Ephesians 6:4
"Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged."
-Colossians 3:21
We have to trust God. That's just all their is to it. His grace and mercy are truly the only way we as human, imperfect parents can raise children in this world. We need His grace to cover our parenting mistakes and our children need His grace to cover the mistakes they will  make. I had the wake-up call this week that my kids, as awesome and perfect as I think they are, are still human. And no matter how I raise them or what I teach them, they will deal with sin and at times they will make bad choices. This hurts my heart. But this verse reminds me that the amazing grace of Jesus is that we get to see how He works in the lives of His people, and sometimes those people are our children.
"When they see among them their children,
the work of my hands,
they will keep my name holy;
they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob,
and will stand in awe of the God of Israel."
-Isaiah 29:23
We need to appreciate and enjoy our children. Society tells us that they are a burden. They cost money. They take our time. They steal our youth. We tell ourselves we're too busy, we're too broke. The truth is that it doesn't matter what God has given us, if we can't learn to enjoy it we may as well not have it. 


"A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he."

-Ecclesiastes 6:3
Our children need love. The real kind. The kind that teaches and disciplines and listens. The kind that wraps arms around them and blesses them with the knowledge that they are cared for. We can't merely speak words of praise to them, we have to show them in our actions.
"And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them."
-Mark 10:16
"Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth."
-1 John 3:18
Ultimately, our job as parents is not to buy the best toys, take our kids to the most activities or cook the healthiest meals. Our job is to teach them how to be more like the Heavenly Father. As we share in the sufferings that are this life and teach them what it means to be co-heirs with Christ. Until that day that we shall be like him!
"Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory."
-Romans 8:17
"Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
-1 John 3:2
"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth."
3 John 1:4
This is the kind of mother I want to be. I'm not there yet. But, having researched and written this out, I feel like even if we're still on a roller coaster, I know where this ride is headed. And truth be told, this is a ride I would wait in line for anytime!

Monday, November 26, 2012

In the Car With Daddy

When I was pregnant with Sarah, I couldn't listen to country music. Made me cry like a baby. There was one song that really made the waterworks flow. Alan Jackson's, "When Daddy Let Me Drive". That song would make me bawl. 

There is something about being in a car that makes me think of my Daddy. So many of my favorite and most memorable moments happened in a vehicle. Today is his birthday and for the past few days those memories  have been front and center in my mind.

My first memory is  when I was about 9. For some reason my Dad had a rental car and he thought it was the perfect size for me to learn to drive in. He let me drive that thing all over the neighborhood, but I don't know how much he thought about his choice of driveways for me to turn around in. My friend's dad just happened to be a highway patrolman and that was the house he picked for me to turn that car around in! Thankfully we went undetected. 

I've shared this memory before. In fact, Josh shared it at my Dad's funeral and I thought I was going to have to crawl under the pew. There was a summer that I went to work with my Dad everyday. Every.single.day. He was a nursing home administrator and I loved going to work with him. I would hang out with the activities director and polish ladies fingernails or play BINGO. Anyway, I was about 10 or 11 that summer and I will never forget the ride to work one morning when my Dad said, "You know, when you have sex, you have babies." I contemplated opening the door and rolling out in James Bond fashion, but I didn't. I just nodded, even thought I'm pretty sure I really did NOT know that and we rode in uncomfortable silence. Thankfully, there would be books at school later that explained things a little more. :)

Most of my memories riding with my Dad happened in middle school. We would listen to talk radio, college football, Pearl Jam and the Beatles. He would act silly and sing, "That's Just My Baby Daddy". It's why I am such a well-rounded person. :)  We would talk about politics and sometimes our opinions differed. Because you know, I knew so much at 13. It was one day that we were riding together that it came on the news that there had been a bombing in Oklahoma City. That was when he told me, "People just make choices."

Before too long it was my turn in the driver's seat. My most memorable moment in Driver's Ed with Roger Strickland happened while I still had my permit. I was driving with my Dad in the front seat. Two of my friends were in the backseat and we were going to a birthday party. The gift was up on the dashboard and somehow, it slid off and fell. Like the seasoned driver that I was, I immediately bent down to pick it up. Bent down, y'all. Like stuck my head down in the floor board. During this time I may have accidentally run us off the road and within an inch of our lives and a telephone pole. My Daddy said some choice words and my friends and I started breathing again. We made it to the party. I never put a gift on the dashboard again.

Just a couple of years later, tragedy would touch our family. I was working as a junior counselor at a girl's camp in North Alabama, 12 hours from home. My Daddy came to pick me up unexpectedly and I learned that my 6 year old cousin had died in an accident. My Dad had driven the 12 hours straight there to get me, and we had to turn right around and make that trip again. Eventually my Dad needed a break. It was my first experience driving on the interstate. I don't know who was more afraid. I'm not sure how much rest my Dad got. It was a long, life changing kind of trip.

Soon it would be time for me to go to college. I drove myself. And Josh, who slept the whole way. I rolled down the windows and sang the Dixie Chick's "Wide Open Spaces" the whole way there. (That was when you could listen to music without choosing a political party. :) My Daddy followed. For a year and a half anytime I made that trip back and forth he would make sure I had gas, the oil was changed and remind me to lock my doors and not pick up hitchhikers. I know it killed him to let me make that 5 hour trip by myself, but I needed to. He will never know the confidence and independence those drives grew in me.

Just when I thought my days of riding with my Daddy were over, he rode with me when Josh and I made the move to Mississippi. Josh and his Dad were in the moving truck, my Dad was with me in the Jeep. I know he thought we were crazy. We've pretty much accepted that everybody we knew at the time thought we were crazy. :) I had just a week earlier graduated from college and gotten a job. We were moving into a house we'd never seen. I don't recommend doing that, by the way. It turned out to be a 100 year old farmhouse and I had serious concerns that Old McDonald's farm of animals may have actually lived inside it. I'll never forget the next day, after all of our stuff was unpacked, Josh and Dandy and my Daddy left. I was going to get the house in order while Josh finished his last week of work. As they pulled away from the house I was determined to be strong and independent. The truth was I had never wanted my Daddy so bad in my life!

The next week I traveled to Jackson, Ms. to take my test to be licensed as a social worker in Ms. I had gotten a job, but I couldn't start it until I had that license. I was only going to be able to take it one time because it was expensive. It was a high stress situation. Of course, I got lost. The test was actually given at the community college my Dad had graduated from. I called him to get directions and he started talking about all the different places and things he had done. As soon as I heard his voice, I was calm and even peaceful as I felt like I was driving through an important part of my Dad's history. 

I am so thankful for these memories and many more. I didn't realize until I wrote them out how many of them were sad or traumatic or hard. I don't think of them that way. I think of them fondly because I had my Daddy during those times. I still miss my Daddy the most when I drive. I still feel the closest to him when I'm behind the wheel. When his favorite songs come on, I don't know if I want to cry or sing along. Sometimes I do both. 

Just about a month ago I got my lunch and went to a little park to sit and eat. I left the radio on so I could listen to Rush Limbaugh and ran my battery down. Josh had to come rescue me. You should have seen the look on his face when I told him what I was listening to. Who would've ever thought listening to Rush Limbaugh would bring someone peace? :) But, that's what I did, in the car with Daddy.


This is how I like to remember my Daddy. Driving and being silly.

Friday, November 23, 2012

For the Fun of It

Back around Halloween I had an epiphany of sorts. I was stressing about costumes, and pumpkin patches and pictures and treats. And all of a sudden it dawned on me-this is supposed to be fun. And so, I decided we would have fun. My kids were going to pick their own costumes and we were just going to have fun. The night of Halloween they got ready and were waiting on Josh and I to get ready. I asked for one pic of them together. They obliged.
Then, they wanted to ride their scooters and stuff. I came so close to saying, "NO! You need to sit on the couch so you don't mess up your costume!", but then I remembered. This is supposed to be fun. So, they rode scooters with capes flying and tutus twirling.



Well, I tried to hang on to my mantra for Thanksgiving. This being my first year working full-time in a while, I knew I was going to have to let some expectations go. I've decided I either need more hours in the day or more energy. Or a maid. Whatever. So, anyway, I did my best stay calm, cool and collected. :)

Wednesday night we loaded up the kids, picked up my mom and went to have supper at Applebee's and catch "Wreck-It Ralph". It's a super cute movie and we had lots of laughs. 

I cooked almost all of the food I was taking for Thanksgiving on Wednesday so that made Thursday much more relaxed. We joined Josh's family at his sister's house. She has lived in Italy the last 3 years and this was our first Thanksgiving with her and her husband since they got married. She played hostess with the mostest to 20 people and rocked it. Just to prove that I have really embraced this whole "just for fun" thing you have to see the only pics I got on Thanksgiving.  I've always been one of those girls who thinks we all need matching clothes and a full family photo shoot on holidays. But, my experience has been, that's not really fun for anyone. :)  This is what I got this year....

Aren't they fabulous? I think I'll use them for our Christmas cards. Oh, who am I kidding, we all know I'll forget to order Christmas cards.....

I hope that you all had a fabulously fun Thanksgiving and were reminded of the many blessings in your life!

P.S. I've gone about 8 months without eating sweets and these last two days I've caved. I got up at 5:00 this morning to go shopping and I am still pinging. Can we say sugar rush???????

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wasted

This week I came across a quote and I can't stop thinking about it. It says, "Grief doesn't change you, it reveals you." (John Green) Anyone who has grieved for any reason may feel differently. At times of loss, whether of a person, a job, an opportunity, or whatever, it is easy to feel as if you are a completely different person. You question, "Who am if I'm no longer the daughter of a Daddy?" "Who am I if I don't hold this position?" You may feel like you don't recognize yourself if you've let go of a dream you held for a long time.

Sometimes the pain of a loss leads to such despair, anger or bitterness that it seems to strangle the personality right out of you. It can seem like everything changes when those emotions begin to spill over to your relationships. But the truth is, it's not a change. It's a revealing.

It reveals how strong our faith is. It reveals who we are when we are tested, deprived, and snatched from our comfort zone. It reveals how we choose to treat people in the midst of chaos and dark days.

This revelation can be insufferable. It may show us things about ourselves we never wanted to see. We may go places spiritually and emotionally we never wanted to go. Often these times reveal to us more than any other time how much we need a Savior. Not just a Savior. A Redeemer.

On my Aunt's FaceBook page this week a lady posted about the day she gave birth to her stillborn child. My Aunt Kay, a nurse, told her, "God never wastes a hurt." She was remembering those words and what they meant to her, and as my eyes came across them, I knew God was speaking that to me, as well.  I know these words to be true. On more than one instance I've watched God take the most terrible, gut wrenching experiences and use them in a person's life to do beautiful things.

Speaking of beautiful things, this morning Josh preached out of Isaiah 61.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

I was sharing with Josh how that has always been one of my favorite passages. The thought of God giving beauty for ashes. I always knew that in Biblical times when a person was grieving they wore sackcloth and covered their heads in ashes. But this morning Josh shared with me that the word "beauty" didn't translate well from the Hebrew and that it actually represents crowns placed on a person's head. That was a visual that took my breath away. The idea of God dusting those ashes of mourning from a person's head and replacing it with a crown.

*A symbol of healing. The grief has passed.

*A sign of achievement. By His Spirit, you have not only survived, but grown through a time you thought might crush you.

*A sign of responsibility. God never wastes a hurt. Your story is one that no one else can tell. It is a great responsibility to share with others. Someone is waiting for the hope that only you can offer.

To top off the two quotes and this sermon, Josh and his sister, Leah, sang a song this morning that speaks beautifully of the redemption we are offered. There is no worse feeling than to think that something has been wasted. Our money. Our investment in a relationship. Our time. Thankfully, God is a God who redeems even those things that feel wasted. God never wastes a hurt.



Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cocooning



Photo courtesy of Google Images


A few weeks back I was reading the kids a bedtime story, and it has stuck with me since. We were reading the story of Hermie, a caterpillar who feels very ordinary and doesn't understand why he doesn't have pretty spots like the ladybug or a cool "house" like the snail. God reassures Hermie that He is not finished with him yet, and sure enough Hermie eventually becomes a beautiful butterfly.

The part that I keep thinking about is the part when Hermie goes into his cocoon. For the first time I started wondering what that process is like. I read that the cocoon stage can last from 2 weeks to an entire season. And during that time the insect becomes an adult. The cocoon is often camouflaged so it will be safe.

Why on earth am I talking about cocoons? Well, I think I've been in one. I haven't blogged much lately, and I would blame it on being busy or tired, because I have been both. But really, I just haven't known what to blog. I just haven't felt able to write. And that is hard for me because writing is my "thing". It is my therapy, my hobby, my release. 

My friend, Melanie, wrote this blog, I Wear Many Hats and I felt like she was expressing what I have been dealing with. The truth is that I sometimes feel so overwhelmed by the hats that I wear and trying to figure out who the "real" Emily is. I have "Mom Emily", "Wife Emily", "Preacher's Wife Emily", "Wish I Could Be a Better Friend Emily", "Working Emily", and the list goes on. Some days I am serious and discuss politics and deep spiritual issues and some days I sing 80's hits at the top of my lungs and dance around the kitchen. I want to care for orphaned children and minister to young moms and visit with the members of our church. I also want to lay on the couch and watch Hallmark movies. And sometimes it's all so overwhelming to me that I just want to sit in the corner and stare at the wall.

That's where the cocooning comes in. I have felt at times that I am isolating myself or not doing enough of the things I should be doing, but I reached the conclusion that at times, God has to cocoon us. He has to grow us. The cocooning process is an inactive one. The insect has to create it's own cocoon, just like we have to choose to want to let God work on us, but once the cocoon is built, God does the work. In the way that an insect turns into a fully functioning adult during that time, God turns us into mature believers. Sometimes He just needs us to be still and quiet for Him to do that.

I'm cocooning y'all. I don't know how long this process will take for me. Writing this may open up the writing floodgates and I'll be posting everyday. Or, it may not. God has a lot of work to do, but I am positive that the end result will be worth it.  Maybe the next time I see you I will be a butterfly. :)

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." 

2 Corinthians 5:17

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pictures With Pumpkins

One of my most favorite activities every year when we lived in Mississippi was going to the Pumpkin Patch. The year Sarah was in kindergarten I got to go on a field trip with her and take the church kids. TWO trips to the pumpkin patch! I was a happy camper. I have yet to find a pumpkin patch near us that lives up to the Sunflower Maze, hayride, and totally cool playground "our" pumpkin patch had. Every year I bemoan this fact as I see others post pics from their awesome pumpkin patches. I still haven't found a great one, but we found a roadside one sponsored by a church and we made do. :)

I just have to share my pictures. Because each of my kids found a pumpkin and came straight to me to pose for a picture. And I realized, after many years, I have them trained. :)












I've got the cutest pumpkins in the patch! Hope you are enjoying your fall and all things PUMPKIN!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

In His Arms

A while back I wrote about my relationship with Josh and how I felt like I knew he was the one for me because I felt safe with him. I realize that just does not sound romantic at all, but for some reason that is the first thing that comes to me when I think of the first time we "embraced". It was our junior prom and I was on the planning committee and had spent the whole day running like a crazy woman decorating and getting stuff ready. I was exhausted by the time I actually got to the dance. (That would become a theme for me. :) K-Ci and JoJo's "All My Life" started blaring through the speakers and we awkwardly made our way to the dance floor. I had made it known to anyone who would listen that I was not interested in a relationship. Josh and I were at prom strictly as *friends*. But, the music started and tired as I was I found myself laying my head on his chest as we danced. And I felt safe. And while it would be several months before we would officially become more than friends, I knew that there was something there that I had never experienced before.

I was thinking about this because my sister recently took some family pics for us, and two of my favorites are candids of me and Josh. We tried really, really hard to pose "romantically", but I just couldn't get it together. She wanted us to put our noses together and stare into each others eyes lovingly. I got the giggles. She got this.



I showed this picture to the person who has been training me at work. She has never met Josh and knows next to nothing about us. The first thing she said was, "He looks like a protector."

My other favorite is one that we didn't even know she was taking. We thought she was taking a pic of the kids, but she snapped one of us.
This may be my most favorite picture of us ever.  Besides the fact that she has awesome editing software that removed my wrinkles :), this picture perfectly symbolizes how our relationship makes me feel. Like I'm wrapped in big arms that take care of me. That care about me. That love me in a way I still haven't quite wrapped my brain around.

The greatest thing I realized looking at this picture is that from the first time those arms wrapped around me, I have felt safe because those arms belong to someone who has wanted nothing but good for me. Even in times when what made me happy was hard for him. Even in times when I gave him every reason to be very angry and wish bad things for me. Even in times when I didn't care enough about myself to want good, he wanted it for me.

I am so blessed to have this person who keeps me safe in his arms. But, I am even more blessed to have a Heavenly Father with even bigger arms. Everlasting arms. A Heavenly Father that genuinely wants good for me and who wraps me in those arms through the not so good times. "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7:11. 

Just like my earthly relationship with Josh, I haven't done a single thing to earn or deserve the love God shows me. I can't understand or explain why He is so good or why He chooses to be my protector. But, I'm thankful to be able to share that He offers the same love and protection to you.

"The eternal God is your refuge, And underneath are the everlasting arms; He will thrust out the enemy from before you, And will say, ‘Destroy!’" Deuteronomy 33:27

Monday, October 8, 2012

Everybody's Workin' for the Weekend....

Hey y'all! Just wanted to check in and let you know that I am loving my new job. LOVING it. For real. Let me tell you why: 1. There are babies. I am working with 2 centers and 39 kids all under the age of 3. I can go sit in the baby room, hold and rock babies until my heart's content, then, if they start spewing and pooping, I say, "Oh, I've got some paperwork to do." And I leave. 2. I have my own office with a window and a bathroom. After a job where my office was my vehicle, this is like the holy grail. 3. I'm working in the cutest little town with little shops and restaurants just waiting to fill my lunch hour. 4. The people are precious. 5. I feel like a difference is really being made in these little people's lives. And that is important to me.

So, while I am loving my new job, I am also loving the weekends! The weekend before last we had the opportunity to go out of town for a wedding. Not just any wedding, but the wedding of our ring bearer from OUR wedding. How old are we? Old. We dropped the kids off with T and Josh and I had 2 kid free nights. The groom's parents had offered to get us a hotel room or to let us stay in their friend's camper. I couldn't pass up the camper. That's pretty much a bucket list thing for me. I wasn't exactly sure what this camper was going to look like, but we were pleasantly surprised.
Our home away from home. :)


We so enjoyed spending time with the wedding party and family. My favorite member of the wedding party was the ring bearer. He is 4. His parents actually own the camper we stayed in and he came over to give us a tour. Josh left to head back to the main house and asked if he wanted to go wtih him. He said no, he wanted to hang out with me. :) I was getting ready for the wedding and he was getting bored. I kept asking him if he wanted to go back and he kept saying no, that he wanted to stay with me. Bless his soul. It's a lengthy process when I have to put my face on. But he was patient. And he asked for my phone number. I'm not usually in the habit of giving out my number to boys (okay, so maybe I can't even remember the last time a boy asked for my phone number), but he was just too cute. Josh understood. I think. :)

The place where the wedding and reception took place was gorgeous. Josh performed the wedding and it was a surreal moment watching our ring bearer repeat after him, "I do." Yes, maybe I teared up a little.
Josh and Ra- June 2001
Josh and Robert- September 2012



 After the wedding I got the preacher all to myself. Kind of. Actually I shared him with the phone as he checked the football score throughout the reception. I told Robert that he should feel VERY loved that Josh agreed to marry him at the exact same time as the FSU kick-off. We did get a chance to slow dance, but I had to laugh. By the time we got up to dance there was a bridesmaid dancing with a baby on her hip and then some cousins dancing with each other. How romantic. :)

We need more practice with these self-portraits  lol



It was just a special day and so much fun to be a part of. And Josh and I totally want a camper now.

This weekend was fun, too. Okay, I have to be honest. Friday night would probably not rank high on anybody's scale of fun. I won't lie, going back to work full-time has been an adjustment and I have been sooo tired. I didn't make it past 11:00 one night last week and anybody who knows me knows that is a big deal. Friday night was no different. I totally stayed up as late as I did because I had to wait on my laundry to come out of the dryer. For real. I actually fell asleep on the couch watching Dateline. Brought back memories of my Friday nights in high school before Josh came along. :)

Saturday I subbed at the dance studio. It was fun to be back in dance teacher mode for a few hours. It was also a good wake-up call that I really need to start exercising again. :)  That night my sister and her babies and my mom came over. My sister has started a photography business and she is fabulous! My brother and his girlfriend were going to meet her to have pictures made, but they were running a little late. We were not planning to have family pics done, because even though I have been dying for Jenny to do some, I did not feel like I had had the time to do proper pre-picture preparations like fixing my 3 week overdue highlights or buying matching clothes. (You all know that is a big deal to me.)  But, Jenny said we could find something we already had in our closets so we went searching for things that would match me, because I was so lazy I didn't even change. :)  We had the best time with those pictures even if my baby child was wearing a hand me down shirt with a stain. Jenny promised she could edit it out. I'm counting on her editing a lot!!!! We laughed a lot and she got some pics of kids falling and my niece and nephew were in the background of a few of them and I know those are the ones I will really treasure.

Later we ate bbq, boiled peanuts and watched the FSU game. She finished Philip and Kayleigh's pics and I got to look through all of them. I also got to play cars and puppies with my niece, Lyla and watch Luke have a big time with my kids. I just realized I don't have any pics from that. After having a pro take pics my phone camera just doesn't seem to cut it. :)  I didn't last long that night either. Again I fell asleep on the couch, so I found out the next day we lost. I told Josh I was sorry I couldn't be there for him. He told Eli he had to give him some bad news and Eli informed us he already knew. He had checked online.

Yesterday was a great day at church. One of our church members told Eli to tell his Daddy that he is a hero. I agree. And it makes my heart swell with all kinds of happy when other people realize how amazing he is.  By last night I had a sore throat and was feeling achy. I wasn't surprised. I did start work at a place with 39 kids who all seemed to have runny noses. My person training me had also gone home sick last week. And I had to go to the health department to get my physical. I told Josh I could've gone out and licked the sidewalk and it would have been the same germ count as what I've been exposed to. :) So, I stayed home from church last night and watched Hallmark movies and drank hot green tea.

Today, I am thankful that I look forward to my weekdays as much as the weekends!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Story I've (kind of) Been Waiting to Tell

So, if you've read my blog in the last, oh, 6 months or so, then you know that I've been looking for a job. It has been a discouraging, fingernail biting time for me, but I am proud to announce: I have a job! I believe there is probably only .5% of people on the earth who have not heard this news, as I've made sure to let everyone I come into contact with know. :) I say that this is the story I've been waiting to tell, because I knew during the whole time that God was at work and I couldn't wait to share the story of how He worked things out. And I was right, He did have a plan He was working the whole time, but I have to confess, it was NOT the plan I thought it was.

Back in May, I started actively looking for a job once the dance recital was over. The dance recital was actually held in a town that is 20 minutes from us and when we were driving back from rehearsal I noticed that there was a place that was hiring.I made a mental note to apply there. Then, the next night I was working in the concession stand with a lady who does HR for the nursing home and asked if the had any openings for a social worker. She said they had just hired one that.very.day. Bummer. But then she told me about a position at the hospital and I went straight home that night and spent 25 hours some time working on the application for that job. A few days later I took a resume to the hospital and was told that they were pretty sure that I missed the deadline for that job, but they would fax it to another office just in case and keep my resume on file for the future. Again, I was bummed, but I left there and headed to the other place to apply for a family advocate position. When I got there I was sent upstairs to speak to a lady and when I told her I wanted to leave a resume for the family advocate position she said, "That's what I do." Awkward. We finally figured out that the company was hiring teachers for this location, but the family advocate position was in Panama City. She told me who to call about that position, but as we talked and I told her where I lived she mentioned that actually lived in Panama City and hoped to transfer to that location. I secretly hoped that was what would happen because I DID NOT want to have to drive to Panama City (we're in different time zones). But, after leaving a message for the lady I was told to call, I never heard anything.

Fast forward a few weeks and another job comes open at the hospital. It's not the one I really wanted, but I thought it would help me get my foot in the door. The day that I went to apply for that one, I felt so strongly that God told me to wait on the hospital. Well, wait is what I did. Soon I found out that I was actually in consideration for the first job I had applied for, the one I wanted so bad. I just knew, it had to be the one. I had a phone interview and felt so good about it. The lady I spoke with was so positive and really gave me a lot of hope. I waited for the next interview. And waited. At the end of August my grandmother was put in the hospital and not doing well at all. I went to Mississippi to be with her and my family and thought the whole time how grateful I was that I had not just started a job that I would be unable to take time off from. She passed away  and the day after we got home from her funeral, I found out I didn't get the hospital job. I won't lie. I was devastated. I really needed that job. For many reasons. The first being that I had convinced myself if I couldn't get that job (all of my professional experience is in healthcare), then I couldn't get any job.

I was still emotional and exhausted from losing my Mamaw, and I was tempted to use that as an excuse to  lay around and do nothing for a month, but I just couldn't. I do better when I'm busy. Monday, I let myself lay around and watch TV. Tuesday, I applied for another family advocate job. The listing didn't have the company name, so I didn't realize I was applying for that same job I had inquired about back in May. Wednesday, a ministry friend of ours came over to discuss some events and to have prayer with us. Before she left she said told me she would be praying about my job situation and she said, "I think you will hear about a job sooner than you think." I didn't know if that was just her being encouraging, but I sure hoped she was right! The next day I went to breakfast with some ladies and one of them works at the workforce center. I left with her and filled out more applications and she gave me a referral. I went that day to take it and my resume and Friday, I got a call for an interview! Monday of the next week I had my interview. I found out that the other family advocate I had spoken with was transferring and I would be taking her place. Wednesday was my birthday, and I got the best present when I heard from my friends I had listed as references and learned that they had been contacted! Friday, I got fingerprinted and a few days later I was offered the job!

When I didn't get the job at the hospital, I was so confused as to why I felt so strongly that I was supposed to wait on that job. I took that waiting thing seriously, I hadn't even applied for another job. But, then I realized that it was just a matter of timing and God moving the other lady so her position would be open. I didn't think I would be excited about another job, but I really am. I will be working with children, newborn to 3 years old and their families, making sure the children are cared for, receive proper medical care, and that all of their needs are met.  When I first started talking about going back to work, I said that I didn't think I could work with kids. In fact, several months ago, I didn't know if I was emotionally ready to do social work again at all. I am so thankful that over the months of job searching God has reminded me of the blessings and rewards that come with this type of work. And I'm thankful that He has taught me to be so dependent on Him, because I know I will need to be. And I'm thankful that He has truly sparked a passion in me living in  the community that we do to work with children and their parents in hopes of happier futures for them. And mostly, I am thankful that I serve a God who is the BEST author and gets the plot just perfect every time!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

B.Y.O.B

Today, I am 32 years old. It's a fairly boring number, with no life changing significance to it. Except that it is another year, another opportunity for learning and growing and making memories. I often wondered growing up if I would ever reach an age where birthdays wouldn't be a big deal. When it wouldn't matter to me that I got the presents I wanted or had a big party. I think I am there. I am so blessed with loving family and friends who give me great gifts. And our sweet church family gave me a surprise party tonight. And those things were so fun. But the truth is that I truly feel so blessed that those things were just icing on the cake. I feel like this last year of my life brought with it a peace and an acceptance I hadn't known before. Peace with myself and who I'm becoming. Acceptance of hard things and extra appreciation for the good things.

Last night as Josh and I sat in the living room completely exhausted I told him I felt like I should be doing something memorable on my last night of being 31.  And then I decided my last meal as a 31 year old was memorable enough.

I made turkey meatloaf, corn on the cob and brussel sprouts. My meatloaf was so spicy we all had smoke coming out of ears, we kept squirting corn on the cob juice and the brussel sprouts....well, let's just say they didn't go over so well.......

In case you are wondering, yes, that is a bag just in case my child needed to spit out his food. Is that classy or what? Earlier in the night we had realized we were out of paper towels and napkins which was very bad since we were eating corn on the cob. Eli had grabbed a dishcloth to use (that's a big improvement, usually his shirt does just fine :), and during this exact moment that Eli was doing this Sarah says, "Will you hand me the napkin?" And for some reason that caused me to burst out in hysterical laughter.  Because here we were, eating food that caused my child to bring his own barf bag to the table and my daughter is asking for a dishcloth that at some point became a group napkin. And we just laughed. And ate brussel sprouts and spicy meatloaf. And made a memory. And I realized that somewhere along life's journey sharing a meal and some laughs with some of my favorite people is just about all I need to be  happy. Barf bags and all.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Monkey Bars

Have you ever been discouraged? Feel it in your bones, see it in your face discouraged? I've been there. I've been there for several months now. Back in January or February of last year Josh and I decided I needed to go back to work full-time. For me to stay at home has always been an intentional, sacrificial choice. God has continually blessed us and provided for us, but with Kate starting school I knew that it only made sense for me to return to work. At the time I was still teaching dance and theater part-time and loved doing both. Those were more than jobs to me, they were an opportunity to revive a part of me that I had forgotten existed. I had grown attached to the kids God had placed in my life with each of those endeavors, and for months I dreaded having to tell them that I would not be returning after the year was up.

After dance and theater ended I began actively seeking full-time employment. I look back now and realize how incredibly arrogant I was as I expected to quickly find a job. I just expected that I would finish dance classes one week and start a new job the next. That did not happen. 

I didn't get the first job I interviewed for. I completed several lengthy, time consuming applications only to never even hear from anyone. I drove to offices and repeated applications I had already filled out online, hoping to get to talk to someone in real life. The one time I met a person in real life I found out she had the job I wanted and she was totally confused about why I was there. I started feeling desperate. Started wondering if I was even supposed to do social work anymore. Had I chosen the wrong major? Was I still cut out for social work? What was I cut out for? What is the meaning of life? Am I 17 again? No, too many wrinkles to be 17. :) As I worked through this life crisis, a friend told me about an opening at her company for a financial auditor. Feel free to laugh here. I did. For anyone who doesn't know, I don't do numbers. The only financially auditing I've done is when Josh and I looked at our finances and decided I should go back to work. :) Anyway, my friend convinced me that no experience was required, they would train me. I tried to psyche myself up. I filled out the extensive applications online that the company sent me. One was a psychological inventory. I thought for sure that would do me in, but they called for an interview. I went and met Bob. He was the HR hiring manager, but he really could have a successful counseling practice. We began the interview and soon I felt like I was in therapy. Several other people had to interview me and while we would wait for their arrival he would ask me, "Are you sure you would be happy here? All the work you've done is so interactive and here it would just be you and a computer screen."  The more we talked, the more I questioned what I was doing there. And not in a bad way. He never made me feel crazy for being there, he just seemed to recognize my personality, education and strengths and that I probably would not be happy there. By the end of the interview when he asked me what I would say if he offered me a job, I had to be honest and tell him I just didn't know. 

That interview led me to do some soul searching, and while I still wasn't sure what I was supposed to do, I knew that job wasn't it. A month or so before I interviewed for that job, I had applied online for a position at the hospital. I thought it was the perfect position for me. All of my experience is in healthcare and I decided that job was just created for me. I was discouraged to learn that 140 people applied for that job and even more discouraged when it was quickly gone from the website. Someone told me about another job at the hospital, and although it wasn't the one I originally wanted, I applied for it. During the course of applying for that job, I learned that my resume was actually still under review and that original job was still open. Hope. I had prayed and felt that God told me to wait on that job. So, I did. A month went by. I ended up teaching dance the whole month of June, which was a blessing. Another month came, and I was discouraged again. Again, I began questioning if I was really supposed to go back to work. Josh and I had a serious heart to heart. That night I got a phone call. It was a lady from the hospital and she wanted to do a phone interview! There are no words for how excited I was. We did the phone interview and I was even more excited about the job. She told me there would be a peer interview process and she would let me know in a couple of weeks if I made it to that part. 

Three weeks went by. But who was counting, right? :)  I finally e-mailed her to check in and let her know I was still interested. She let me know that she had been really busy, but that my resume had been forwarded to the peer interview process. I could breathe. She told me it would be another 2-3 weeks  before that could be arranged. I was fine with that as long as I had the hope that I still had a chance. 

Two or three weeks came and went and no word. I went to Mississippi for a week to be with my grandmother who was in the hospital and eventually passed away. I told myself that it was God's timing. That if I had already gotten a job it would have been too soon for me to take any time off and I would have missed that opportunity that I so needed, to be with her. The day after I got home, I checked the webpage, the one that had told me my resume was "Under Review" for five whole months. And that day it said, "Applicant Not Selected".

It may as well have said, "Your life is over", "You are a total failure", or "There is no hope for you". That was how I felt. I allowed myself a day of pajama wearing and moping and by that night, I was tired of myself. I hadn't seen a single job in the classifieds for me, but then a friend who has been on the job search journey with me told me about a website where I quickly found a job to apply for.  A few days later another friend invited me to breakfast and one of the girls there just happened to work at the workforce center and knew about the job I was applying for. She wrote a referral for me and that very day I took it and my resume to the office. The next day, I got a call for an interview! On Monday I will put on my skirt and high heels and walk up in that place like I know what I'm doing. Because I have hope.

My hope is not necessarily that I will get that job. I am so over trying to figure that out. My hope is that God is still in control and has a plan. He always has, He always will. I still haven't figured it out. His plan has not lined up with mine. My plan was that I would have started a job back in June, we would have taken a longer vacation, and be halfway to our goal for a down payment on a new vehicle. But, there have been other plans. There have been other things I've needed to be available for. I've needed some time to think and to stare at walls. There have been lessons I've needed to learn along the way. I've needed to learn that my value as a person is not dependent on the job title I hold. I've needed to learn that real friends care about you, not the position you hold. I've needed to remember some of my experiences and regain my confidence in myself. I've needed to remember that God is the ultimate provider. I've needed to remember how to trust Him again. 

Today it hit me that my job search has been a lot like climbing on the monkey bars. At times I feel like I'm dangling by one arm, about to fall and then before I know it, God has put another rung there for me to grab onto. Each time I have started to get discouraged, there has been a new opportunity to grab hold of. If nothing else, to give me hope to keep trying. Tomorrow, I might be interviewing for "The Job" or it might just be "a job" I don't get. Either way, it has given me hope to hold on.  I'll keep swingin'.....

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, But when the desire comes, it is a tree of life."

~Proverbs 13:12