Monday, August 31, 2009

Who's Blowing Out the Candles?

One of the advantages of having children so close together is that they enjoy the same things. Take, for example, birthday gifts. When one of my kids gets a gift, it is usually something they all can enjoy. This great fact rang true over the weekend with Andrew's birthday presents. Here is a list of some of the items Andrew received for his birthday and who actually enjoyed them:
1. The first book in a new series "The 39 Clues"~ Katie grabbed onto that book in the blink of an eye and read it in one day. She is now begging for the second book.
2. A Lego Star Wars model~ Andrew's friend gave that to him when he came over Saturday to spend the day. While they were at the computer, Pete and Nicholas sat at the kitchen table and assembled the whole thing.
3. An Ice Age Wii game~ Nicholas must have thanked Nini and Papa ten times for Andrew's new game.
4. A Mario Brothers Nintendo game~ Katie snuck it into her room and played it while Andrew and Nicholas took turns on the new Wii game.

Of course, being the kind-hearted, giving person he is, Andrew gave permission for the others to test out the new gifts. He got many more cool gifts and had an awesome birthday (except when Nicholas kept blowing out the candle during the "Happy Birthday" song...).

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy Birthday to DREW!

Today is Andrew's 8th birthday. He was my biggest baby, weighing in at a whopping nine pounds and twenty-one inches long. Now he is my skinniest child. Poor thing was so miserable when he was a baby. He cried all the time. We thought he just had colic and suffered through many sleepless nights. Every time we would lay him down he'd start to cry, but when we picked him up he stopped. We eventually took him to a pediatric gastroenterologist who diagnosed Drew with acid reflux and put him on a VERY expensive formula. I had been breast feeding but was willing to give it up if Drew would feel better. The formula (and Prevacid) really made a world of difference. The funny thing is that most babies with acid reflux spit up a lot, but Drew did not. The acid was only coming up in the back of his throat. That is why we had no clue.

I am so grateful for Andrew! He is smart, compassionate, easy-going, kind, considerate, thoughtful, well-adjusted, and the list goes on. Being the middle child, he is the one who never argues to get his way; he simply goes with the flow. He's the one who will agree to go last simply because he wants to avoid conflict with his siblings. So although he was my most difficult baby, Drew is an easy child now. Happy Birthday Andrew!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Chocolate Lab Puppies

A friend of ours just had nine chocolate lab puppies- pure bred. The proud parents are Godiva and Hershey. Don't you love those names? They also have another lab named Whitman. Yummy~ I'm hungry for some chocolate now. The puppies were born on Pete's birthday, August 16. Mike called Pete and told him they were coming that evening, so Pete and Katie drove out to Mike's farm to watch the births. Unfortunately, they stayed for a while and none were born (momma was resting between puppies), but they got to see the few already born and observe a dog in labor (contractions, blood, etc.). Pete and Katie had a great discussion about the birth process, too. Eleven were born that night, but two didn't make it. Overall, it was a wonderful learning experience for Katie!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A life watered by the tears of tragedy and suffering often becomes the most fertile soil for spiritual growth.

I firmly agree with the above statement, for I have experienced tragedy and suffering (deaths of loved ones, broken relationships, sickness and financial problems) firsthand. Each time I encounter a rough spot in my life I am faced with two paths to follow. I can go to the left and follow self-will or I can go to the right and follow God's will. I have found self-will offers no comfort. This is a dangerous self-destructive path for me. But if I choose the right path- God's will- then I will feal peaceful and serene in God's time. I may not feel at peace right away, but eventually I will, if I keep close to God and keep doing the next right thing while I wait. You see, when I am suffering, if I pray more during that time, God will lead me through. Therefore, I am drawn closer to God through prayer. When I make it through to the other side of my pain, I can usually see somewhere along the way, I grew from the experience. When God closes one window, He opens up another. And I am grateful for that.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done...
~Genesis 50:20

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Crazy Pick-Up Lines

If you want to test your patience, get in the carpool line at my children's elementary school. I am really trying hard to do the right thing, but sometimes it can be difficult. As I have stated before, the school is at a new location because they are tearing down the old school and building a new one. So for the next year-and-a-half, the school is a "portable school"- made up of portable buildings connected by covered walkways. The problem is not the school. The kids are happy and love it. All of the wonderful teachers and administration are the same. But the after school pick-up is chaos city. And I knew it would be. The first day, I got there an hour early and sat in the hot car, windows rolled down, sweat dripping all over my body. I had been there about fifteen minutes when the maintenance guy walked to the post where the sign was and started unscrewing the bolts.
"What are you doing?" I asked.
"Moving the sign back some. I didn't think you all would start getting here so early."
So he took the sign for K-1 pick-up and moved it back. I couldn't back up because cars were behind me, so I decided I would just get out of the car when the kids started coming out (Katie and Andrew have to go to the K-1 line because they won't let the little ones go to the big kid line anymore). After I had retrieved all of the kids, we were able to make a quick and easy exit and get home in no time. From what I hear, some people didn't get home for a whole hour due to the heavy traffic. So the second day, I arrived at the school an hour early again, but this time they had changed the order of where we were to pick up the kids. When I drove to where the sign had been moved to the day before, it said 2-5 grade pick-up. I kept on driving to the other side until I found the K-1 line. Again, I was first in line. I worked my crossword puzzle and then read. This time I was prepared. I had my hair in a ponytail and lots of water. Opening the doors makes for a nice breeze throughout the van, I discovered. I was enjoying some quiet, peaceful time. Until the cars started cutting in front of me. It took all I had not to get out of my car and say something, but I stayed in my car staring in amazement. Then, parents started forming a line to the right of me. I was penned in. I took some deep breaths and remained calm. I knew I couldn't change anything, but boy did I want to! I reminded myself that I was there for the kids and waited patiently. Again, we got home in record time. Today was a little better- nobody cut in front of me (I pulled up a little closer). Plus, the kids started coming out ten minutes early so we actually got home at the regular dismissal time. The thoughts of sitting in my car for a whole hour every day this year are overwhelming to me, but one day at a time, I can do it. Wish me luck!
Do not have your concert first and tune your instrument afterward. Begin the day with God.
~J. Hudson Taylor

I love waking up early in the morning. Everything is so peaceful and still. I use this time for quiet prayer and reflection as I enjoy my first cup of coffee.

Sometimes, though, my children wake up first. When this happens, I tend to jump out of bed and dive into the day immediately. I forget to start my day with prayer. And guess what? My attitude is different on these days. Luckily I recognize this and stop what I am doing to say my morning prayers~ no matter what time of the day it is. God redirects my thinking and I am soon back on track.

...O Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
~Psalm 88:13

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Nothing is Impossible

I am so grateful to be alive today. I am also sad. The reason I am sad is because someone I knew died unexpectedly Saturday night. Apparently she started getting sick Thursday, throwing up nonstop. Her husband, who had suffered a stroke several years back, and whom she so fondly took care of during that difficult recovery period, brought her to a small hospital close to the ranch they had retired to. Her blood pressure kept on crashing, so they life flighted her to the hospital here in town. She died the next day.
Another story that saddens me involves an outgoing, popular senior girl who was killed in a car accident the same day. She attended my former high school and went to our church. Her life was taken way too soon. I was watching the 10:00 news last night and they showed a memorial service that was at my former Catholic high school. The bishop was there and he said, "We never know when God is going to call us home. The question is not how long we have here on earth, but what we do with our time here."
So, even though I am saddened by these two deaths, I am also empowered to make each day wonderful, as if it was my last. With God as my guide, nothing is impossible.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Day of School

This is how Nicholas wanted to wear his hair to school on his first day of school.
But I convinced him to comb his hair right at least for the first day (and I thought girls were the only ones who worried about their appearances). Despite that minor kink, the first day of school went great. Usually traffic is horrible as parents come out of the woodworks and everyone is trying to find a parking spot so they can walk their children into their new classes on the first day. Pete and I decided to leave a little earlier than usual, since we were going to the new location, which is farther than the old school. Traffic flowed smoothly as policemen directed us into the parking lot (the new school is on a very busy street that is usually 50 mph, but has been reduced to 35 mph by the school, along with the school zone speed limit of 20 mph during peak hours). We eased right into a parking spot and proceeded to drop off each child in their new classes. Of course, Katie didn't want us hanging around too long. She sat right down and got busy. Last night, she had organized all of her supplies in utter joy of a new school year. Andrew walked right in and was glad he could sit by all of his buddies. Since he and Katie are in the gifted and talented classes, they have the same kids in their class every year. Last, but not least, we dropped Nicholas off at his classroom. He walked in with confidence and sat by the prettiest girl. That would be our Nicholas!
When I picked them up this afternoon, things were a little more confusing. I arrived an hour early so as to guarantee I would be one of the first cars when my babies came out of school. I was the first for a while, until people started arriving closer to dismissal and then things went haywire. I was blocked in by another line of cars for kids being let out at another location and ended up having to get out of my car and go and get my children. Nicholas saw me first and ran over to me without telling his teacher goodbye. She looked down and he wasn't there, so she panicked and thought she'd lost him. She went back to the class to look for him and then came back out and saw him standing by me. Bless her heart- I know she nearly had a heart attack by the look on her face! Thankfully, Katie and Andrew had her, too, so we know each other well. Nicholas said the best thing about school was that he met a lot of new friends. Andrew said his day was fine, too, but a little "easy". Katie LOVED her first day. She had a lot of homework that is not due until Friday, but she did it all when we got home.
I am so grateful that I have such a sensible, level-headed husband. When I think of all the time I wasted worrying about the kids going to the new portable school, I feel kind of silly. I was ready to send them to a new school, but Pete kept reassuring me over and over that everything would be fine. And it was. Thank you Pete, and thank you God!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bye-Bye Summer Vacation

The lazy days of summer are now a sweet memory. Tomorrow school begins. Nicholas will be in 1st grade, Andrew in 3rd grade and Katie in 5th grade. I remember when I was struggling to make it through the toddler days, when I had three children under the age of four, everyone would tell me to enjoy each moment.
"They grow up so fast. Before you know it, your kids will be grown and gone," they'd say.
"Hmmpf," I'd grumble in disbelief as I awaited the day they would all be in school.
Now they are all in school and I would give anything to go back to that time when they were little. Time really does fly- I know that now. So I will do my best to relish each day, enjoy every little childhood moment so I won't turn around one day to find them gone. I will live in the moment and enjoy the present, which is a gift from God. School year, here we come...I hope it's a great one.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Some of My Favorite Things
~by Laurie Kolp

A newborn baby swaddled while asleep
Butterfly kisses on my nose or cheek
The hands of my children reaching for me
Praying to God even when I’m not weak.

Thoughtfulness from my husband so dear-
Flowers, dinner or chores done for me.
A card from a friend when I’m full of fear
Helping someone who’s struggling to be free.

Candles, cardinals and puppy dog kisses
Apples, white chocolate and broccoli with cheese;
Peach tea in the hot summer and coffee mixes,
I find pure joy in each of these.

Bloom Where Planted

I must say the teachers at my children's school have done a wonderful job preparing for this school year, which begins Monday. You see, the old school is being torn down so a new one can be built (thanks to a bond issue that passed). While the new building for the school is being built, the school is being housed in a "portable school" at a different site. Everything is a portable- the classrooms, the office, the nurse, library, art, music, P.E., bathrooms and even the cafeteria. I must admit I was a little skeptic about the whole thing, and I have suffered quite a bit of fear and anxiety because of it. Would my children be safe? Would they still like school? Will they get the education (with all the amenities) they deserve? How would this work?

Yesterday, we had the opportunity to "meet the teachers" Katie, Andrew and Nicholas would have this year at the portable school. Guess what? The kids loved the temporary site and the teachers have gone out of their way to decorate their rooms to make a cozy, safe and comfortable learning environment. All of the buildings are connected by a covered walkway and the students will not be lacking anything (except, perhaps, assemblies or programs~ there is not a portable big enough to house all of the kids at once).

There will be a few kinks to work through, I am sure. For one thing, the P.E. portable is not big enough to house a whole grade level. The coach is very disappointed. Also, lunch will be a challenge. One portable is the serving line and then the kids go to one of several dining halls to eat. The weather could cause some setbacks, too. But despite the challenges, my children are looking forward to school and the teachers are very optimistic. They have "bloomed where planted" and I am grateful for that.

Friday, August 21, 2009

God as My Guide
~Laurie Kolp

He frees me of all inhibitions
Puts creative ideas in my head.
The right words flow so easily
When I ask for His help instead
Of trying to write on my own,
For then I might get stuck on a phrase.
But God always leads and guides me
And has encouraged me from a young age
To write from the heart and when I do
The words are endearing and true.

Snowy & Jake

Snowy and Jake are like fric and frac;
Whenever you see one of them, the other is close by.
They go together like bread and butter,
And together they play and share shut-eye.
Their love is unconditional,
Forever true through thick and thin;
Their lives are plain and simple,
And they will protect us to the end.
Oh, how we love our sweet, cute dogs,
For they are the epitome of true pals.
I wish humans could be more like dogs,
Nonjudgmental and never needing rationale.

~Laurie Kolp

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Profound Poem

"Some of your hurts you have cured,
And the sharpest you've even survived,
But what torments of grief you've endured,
From evils which never arrived."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

What a profound poem this is! I don't know about you, but I can really relate to this. I have been cured of many hurts and pains. I have survived illnesses that can cause death. But I have the tendency to worry about the future. I will "play out scenerios" that usually do not even occur. I have wasted too much time on this unnecessary projecting.

Today I choose to place my future in God's hands. No more worrying and wasting energy on fear of what is to come. Instead, I have faith in God and know He will take care of me- as long as I ask. He is the reason I am alive today and for that, I am truly grateful. Instead of fretting over the future, I will use my energy more productively and focus on simply doing the next right thing. I know God will take care of me now, and all my needs will be His time.
Better Safe Than Blown Away
by Laurie Kolp

Yesterday in my Texas home town,
a fierce tornado came touching down.
While in the checkout line at Wal-Mart,
a friend heard a commotion about to start.
"Tornado- move to the back of the store,"
said the manager in a loud, viscous roar.
So everyone piled in the employee break room,
as glass broke and the roof blew off with a zoom.
When finally allowed to leave in safety,
my friend was amazed at what she did see.
In the parking lot, cars were strewn here and there,
and shopping carts had been mangled while in the air.
"Better safe than blown away," said a child on the roam.
My friend simply nodded as she drove quickly home.
Around the World
by Laurie Kolp

I traveled the oceans far and wide
from sea to shining sea,
swam with the dolphins
surfed big waves
lolled in the sun happily.
I climbed mountains high
in cold and rain
from plateau to snow-capped peak,
skiied up and down
through twists and turns
each experience, bold and unique.
You, too, can journey
this big wide world;
see creatures and vista's nooks,
just find a spot
to relax awhile
and get lost in your favorite book.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tornado Hits!

Today has been quite bizarre around town. A tornado touched down and blew the roof off of the Wal-Mart and Kohl's stores. I have a friend who was checking out in Wal-Mart when the tornado hit. She said that all of a sudden, glass started blowing into the building and the manager made everyone run to the back of the store. Luckily she is okay, but some people got hurt and had to go to the hospital. Cars were piled on top of each other, but again, she was lucky.

I am grateful the kids, Pete and I were at home safe and sound. We were oblivious to the whole thing until my mother called to inform us of the tornado. Our electricity went off for about two minutes and we got some thunder and rain, but other than that it seemed like a normal summer rain. Pete had woken up at 3:00AM this morning to go offshore for a job and was sleeping during the storm.

I think about how in just a split second our lives can be turned upside down and how important it is to enjoy each moment we have. That is exactly what I plan to do.

Monday, August 17, 2009


This picture appears in the the Beaumont Enterprise depicting a fire that engulfed some apartments I lived in for several years before Pete and I married and several months after until we found our house. Luckily no one was hurt.

When I saw this article this morning, I was taken back to 1989. I was student teaching in The Woodlands. George Mitchell, who founded The Woodlands and is also an alumni from Texas A&M would pay for housing of a couple dozen carefully selected graduating seniors while they student taught. I was lucky to have the opportunity to participate in this highly regarded honor, and I also found a permanent teaching job in this Houston suburb.

But some of the student teachers were not as lucky. I remember vividly the night our apartment complex caught on fire. I was sitting on my bed grading papers and my roommate was preparing for a lesson. Four of us shared a two-bedroom unit and the other girls were in their room, too. It must have been between nine and ten o'clock in the evening when we started to smell something burning. Before we knew what had happened, smoke started to fill our apartment and someone was knocking on our door, yelling "FIRE! Get out immediatly!"

I scanned the room quickly for something to take with me and ended up grabbing my teaching materials. I gathered outside with the rest of the student teachers, some of them wearing nightgowns and crying hysterically. The fire department was already working on the four-alarm blaze. When the fire had been finally put out, it was clear that half of the girls had lost everything inside. We were some of the lucky ones. Our apartment had smoke damage that ruined most of the furniture, but we were very fortunate. Some of the girls lost treasured items, like engagement rings or family memorabilia, and many left their teaching assignments incomplete to go home. They would have to start all over the following semester and graduate late.

I found it hard to go back to that apartment. My roommate decided to stay with her fiance and commute an hour each way daily. I had already gotten my teaching job and was being paid as a full-time sub until I graduated, so I rented a little efficiency apartment. The horror of that night stayed with me for a very long time, and the fear of fire always lurked when I was living in apartments. The cause of our fire was faulty wiring, and the cause of the fire Sunday in my old apartments is undetermined as of now. I pray for all the victims, though~ I know what they've been through.

A Sunny Day

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.
~Helen Keller

Do you see the cup as half empty of half full? I must admit that for a while, I saw the cup as half empty. My outlook on life had changed. Once happy, joyous and free; I suddenly felt sad, depressed and miserable. Life was happening and it was not good, or so I thought. Small tasks started to overwhelm me and I was not motivated to do much of anything except sit and sulk. I began to isolate and push away family and friends who were concerned about me. I felt trapped in a life of despair.

Someone once told me when I was struggling, "Well, if I had been through the things you have- the car wreck, hurricanes Rita and Ike, the unexpected suicide of a close friend, sickness within the family, and lack of money- I'd be depressed, too."

I appreciated the kind words at the time because they gave me permission to waddle in my sorrows. I soon became sick and tired of being sick and tired, so I took some time off. During my month-long sabbatical, I was able to recharge my soul and rethink my thinking. I was able to deal with the issues that had been blocking me off from the sunlight of the spirit and reconnect with God. I was able to have closure on that part of my life and accept everything (good and bad) as God's will so I could move forward with a new attitude. And guess what? I feel happy, joyous and free again. I am happy to be alive each day I wake up and want to live life to the fullest. I am joyous because I have a new outlook and no longer carry a fifty pound backpack of burdens on my shoulders. I am free to live each day doing God's will. I am free because I give all my problems over to God each day. I am no longer a slave to negativity when I replace those bad thoughts with positive thoughts of God. Every new day is a gift from God and I am grateful for that. I have learned that as long as I stay connected to God, I will know peace. Only HE can change the way I feel and I am letting Him.

There is no shadow, Lord, if I place myself directly in the sunshine of Your presence. Thank You. Amen. ~Unknown

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Snowy's Accident and Pete's Birthday

Today is Pete's birthday. Happy Birthday, Pete! I love you! The best present we have ever given my dear husband is our lovable dog Snowy (pictured above). He adores her, and she loves him. Watching Pete and Snowy interact is so sweet. Jake, my dog, loves Snowy too, and spying on them as they play can be hilarious at times. But in the backyard, Snowy loves to dig and get into everything. In case you don't remember, or are just beginning to read this blog, we adopted Snowy from the Humane Society and gave her to Pete for Christmas. The day we picked her up was the day it snowed here in Southeast Texas- hence the name Snowy (plus she has some white on her belly).
Well, yesterday Pete was grilling dinner outside when he came in suddenly and in a panic cried out, "Snowy has lost her eye!"
Katie started crying immediately, as any preteen girl would do, and I tried to remain calm.

"Are you saying her eyeball fell out?" I asked, unable to imagine what Pete meant.

Pete was rummaging through the phonebook to find the animal hospital that is open on the weekends.

"Her left eye is swollen shut and her eyeball is pushed back. The clear coating on the outside is gone. She might be blind now," Pete answered.

He called the emergency vet and immediately took Snowy in, as the rest of us sat and waited. Jake sat by the garage door, visibly concerned about his hurt buddy. Time seemed to pass very slowly as we tried to eat. Would Snowy need surgery? Would she be permanently unable to see from that eye? Would she die? All of these questions were scenarios floating through my head as I tried to swallow my dinner.

Pete finally called and I could hear the relief in his much calmer voice. Her eye was okay. She hurt it somehow, with a stick perhaps, and the eye naturally overreacts and swells shut so as to protect itself. They would be home soon, with eye drops, ointment and antibiotics for Snowy. The whole incident cost $125.00.

So today, on Pete's birthday, we have so much to be grateful for- Snowy will be okay, and so will Pete!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Finding the Right Time to Write

I love to write, always have. When the kids are in school, I sit at the computer for hours on end and type away. In fact, my handwriting has suffered due to lack of use; I type almost everything. I love it when the words flow easily and hours pass that seem like minutes. I take advantage of those prime writing days.
But sometimes the words don't come as easily...especially in the summer. That is one of the reasons I took a sabbatical in July~ I needed an attitude adjustment and I simply did not have time to write. I did use the time for contemplative reflection and am empowered with a fresh idea for a novel. I cannot wait to begin writing the book. Once the kids start school in nine days, I will (hopefully) be able to dive right in. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Humility vs. Humiliation

It is one thing to go through a crisis grandly, but another thing to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, no one paying the remotest attention to us.
~Oswald Chambers

Wow- those are such powerful words. What stands out to me from the above quote -is HUMILITY, and I strive for that each day. Humility is often times confused with humiliation, but they are two very different entities. Webster's Dictionary defines humility as "the act of being humble." Humble is "marked by modesty or meekness, lowly or unpretentious." Humiliate is "to injure the dignity or pride of."

I have definitely been humiliated in my life, and I don't like it. Once when I was in junior high, my parents stopped by a convenient store before they were to drop me off at a friend's house to spend the night. They stayed in the car while I ran inside to buy some candy (probably Red Hots and bubblegum). Well, when I came out of the store, I was preoccupied with getting the sticky gum out of the wrapper and I proceeded to get into the car without looking up. When I did look up, I was in the wrong car, and a lady was looking at me as if I was crazy. THAT is humiliation! I got out of the stranger's car and got into my parent's car, which was right next to the other car. They were laughing. I have never lived that down.

Whereas humiliation is something no one likes or wants, humility is something to strive for. When I get down on my knees, I am being humble. When I keep my mouth shut, even if I think I am right, that is humility. Having peace inside~ knowing God is my guide~ and not getting irritated or vexed when someone is sore at me makes me humble. A good example for me is not retaliating. I must admit, I had a moment of weakness the other night and found myself cutting and pasting all the correspondence I had with that colleague who ousted me from our editing project without talking to me first. I was going to gather up the proof that I worked hard on this, and show the president of the guild how she treated me. I spent hours going through old e-mails and working on this. By golly, I wanted some justice. I deserved it. I found myself getting angrier as I hit the buttons with vim and vigor. The thoughts going through my head were...not good. Then, a thought from nowhere came to me. Is this necessary? Is this what God wants me to do? Let it go. Guess what? That is what I did. I let it go, and prayed for her instead. Pete pointed out to me (after I had told him what I'd been working on for so long) that I sure did waste a lot of time and energy on that. Isn't that the truth? I went to bed that night exhausted and asked God to handle that problem. I'm aiming for humility, but am still learning.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

Random Acts of Kindness
~by Laurie Kolp

A smile for a stranger,
a hug for a friend.
Ears that have no limits
and will listen to the end.
Doing something that
nobody knows about.
Returning the shopping cart
instead of leaving it out.
Being truthful and honest
to yourself and family.
Helping someone out
who is lost and lonely.
These random acts of kindness
will make you feel happy.
So try to do these suggestions;
you will feel God's love completely.

Through the Years

Here is a picture of my nephew Matt and son Drew. Matt just graduated from Texas A&M in May, and is headed over to the rival (Texas University) where he will persue his Master's degree. Time really flies~not too long ago, I was the one graduating from A&M. I was the one in college, living on my own. I was the one enjoying all that college life has to offer. (Ahem, yes- I did have too much fun at times). So when I got the card from the Association of Former Students informing me that our twenty year reunion celebration would be on Labor Day, I was flabbergasted, to say the least. I quickly did the math, and found that, yes-they are correct.
Am I that old? I certainly don't feel it; I feel just as young as I did back then.
(Picture of me with Katie, her friend and Nini's two dogs.)
But I have mellowed out since then. I no longer party or stay up all night (unless it's with the kids). I am a proud mother of three who put my career on hold so I could be here for my children. I am a wife to the man of my dreams. I am truly happy with my role in life now. Guess what? I was not happy in college. Not down deep, within myself. I felt lost, unloved and confused and searched for other people or things to fill that hole. I did not know God yet.

The past twenty years have been quite a ride. My journey through life has not been lacking of adventure. In fact, the ride has been like a roller-coaster; full of ups and downs, twists and turns. But I have stayed on that ride and don't ever want to get off. God is in control, and He has big plans for me. I can't wait!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

My Thoughts on Prayer

Everything begins with prayer, spending a little time on our knees...If the world's rulers and leaders would spend a little time on their knees before God, I believe we would have a better world.
~Mother Teresa of Calcutta

I must admit I don't always get on my knees to pray (sometimes I just sit); but when I do, I feel closer to God- more humble before His eyes. Pete got me a birdfeeder with a cardinal at the top and placed it right outside our big front window. Most of you, if you read my other blog, Conversations With A Cardinal, know that when I spot a cardinal, I feel a great connection to my Higher Power, who I choose to call God. When I see a cardinal, I ALWAYS get down on my knees and say a prayer of thanks. Did you know that prayer doesn't have to be some formal recitation of a church prayer? Prayer can be a simple conversation with God.

I have several different ways to pray throughout the day. In the morning, I thank Him for the new day and ask Him to guide me through the day. I ask God to help me know His will for me and give me the power to carry it out. Then, as the day goes on, if I get irritated or feel resentment cropping up, I give the problem to God and say, "God is love. I am a child of God and He loves me." Sometimes I say the Serenity Prayer- God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Sometimes I simply say, "God is." Then, at night, I thank Him for the day. This works for me- I invite you to try this. Let me know how it works!

A Morning to Remember

Breathe in, breathe out... I'm still trying to recover from the heart attack I almost had this morning. I had to go get blood work at 8:00. On the way, I was feeling weak from no breakfast, missing my coffee and thanking God I didn't always have to get out during rush hour traffic when a car pulled out right in front of me. He was turning left going from his subdivision onto the four-lane highway to travel south. I was in the left lane going north cruising at 50 mph (the speed limit). The car in the right lane was turning right on the same street the guy was pulling out from. Well, I must have been hidden from the other car because before I know it there is a car right in front of my van trying to cross our lanes to get to his. Boy did I wake up! I swerved while I honked nearly hitting the car turning right. Thankfully I made it through with no dents or bruises, but my adreneline sure did kick in. I was close to the doctor's office and all of the sudden I didn't miss my coffee and breakfast was the farthest thing from my mind. I thanked God for watching over me and took some deep breaths to try and calm down.

Back track a couple of hours and I was groggily, but serenely checking my e-mail when I heard a small quiet chirp outside my front window. The curtains were drawn, so I opened them slowly, and lo and behold, a beautiful cardinal was sitting on the windowsill. He then flew to the birdfeeder that is right in front of our big window and started eating. I knelt down and said a prayer of thanks and asked God to direct my life today. I also asked to know His will for me and to have the power to carry it out. I felt peace and warmth come over me. A few days ago, I had been reading and the same thing happened- I heard a quiet chirp and was drawn to the window. Again, there had been a cardinal. I truly feel that when I see a cardinal, it's a sign from God that He is with me. Nothing can take the comfortable feeling I get from that away...except a reckless driver. Oh well, I'm not perfect.

In every part of every day, I thank You for walking beside me. Thank You for the joy that your closeness brings. Amen

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Thoughts...on love

When two people love each other deeply...they share countless private memories unknown to the rest of the world.
~Dr. James Dobson, "Love For A Lifetime"

Pete and I keep God in the center of our marriage. We do this for several reasons. First, we know that God put us together. If we had not straightened out our lives and turned our wills over to God, we probably would not have even met. Second, with God in the center of our union, we are constantly reminded that WE are not in charge of our relationship; rather, God is. We are not in charge of our lives; He is. Every morning and every night, Pete and I pray together. This allows us to remember daily the vows we took eleven years ago.

Life has not always been easy since we married. We have had our ups and downs. Pete's car wreck and the four years that followed wrapped up in pain, agony, loss of work, litigation and surgeries were not easy by any means. Yet, we continued to keep God in the center, and we prevailed (there is justice done when a distracted teenager is changing his radio station and barrels into the back of Pete's car when he had our three children with him). I have had my difficulties, too, with depression following childbirth, and the loss of a dear friend by suicide. Plus, I have had a few other setbacks. But Pete and God, stuck by me, and we made it through the darkness.

Of course, we have had a lot of good times, too. The births of our three children and raising them stand out as some of the best. And, yes, we put God in the center of their lives, too. There have been fun times at the beach, our vacation to Disney World, special holiday events, school activities and programs, and sporting activities that have been truly memorable; and there will be many more! As long as God is driving "our car of life," what can go wrong? Not a thing, for absolutely nothing happen's in God's world by mistake.
Your love is more delightful than wine...Your name is like perfume poured out.
~Song of Songs 1:2,3

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Hero
by Laurie Kolp

My hero is my husband
Let me tell you why-
He spent time in the Marines,
And is such a super guy.

Pete has been known
To give a stranger his coat,
Someone under a bridge
Whose life was in a tote.

My great hero Pete,
Panama did he invade
To overtake Noriega
And imprison this renegade.

My husband is the kindest man
That you could ever meet,
And through all his experience
He has become wise and complete.

Poor thing lost his mother at fourteen;
Leukemia was her destiny.
So he had to help his father
Raise the younger family.

Then his father became ill
And died from pancreatic cancer.
When Pete was in his twenties,
He was searching for some answers.

The military helped give Pete guidance
And with benefits, he finished college.
Soon he felt the time was right to settle down,
He married me and now he shares his knowledge.

( be continued).

Happy birthday, to my first born!

Happy Birthday, Katie! Ten years ago today, I was writhing with labor pains. You see, Katie was breech- and she wasn't about to budge (believe me, the doctor painfully tried to turn her). So we had scheduled the c-section for August 10th. I was to check into the hospital at 10:00 AM. But the night before, my water broke after we had gone to bed.

I remember waking up Pete, who groggily said, "It's okay. Go back to sleep!"

Well, that retort did not suffice me, so I eagerly called the doctor, who said, "Don't worry unless the labor pains get to be five minutes apart. Try to get some sleep."

Sleep I did not get that night. I stayed up the whole night with my sweet cat, George, by my side. It was the longest, lonliest night! I tried to occupy my time by playing Solitaire and other sundry things. The pains were about fifteen minutes apart. When Pete finally woke up, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I felt worn out, yet my adreneline was keeping me going. The time finally arrived to go to the hospital and Katie was born at 12:22 PM via c-section (she still hadn't turned). She weighed six pounds, nine ounces and was nineteen inches long. Our healthy baby girl had a head full of jet black hair. I guess what they say is true- if you have heartburn and acid reflux while pregnant, the baby will have a head of hair!

Ten years have gone by so fast. Katie is the epitome of a Leo (just like her dad). She can be strong-willed and loves attention. She is very independent- I could rely on her to cook a fabulous meal for the family. She loves to read, dance, swim, cook and her ultimate dream is to ride horses. I love you, Katie!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Sunday Thought

Stop thinking about the difficulty, whatever it is, and think about God instead.
~ Emmet Fox

What a powerful statement from the profound author of a simple book, "The Golden Key," in which Fox gives a thoughtful answer to all of life's difficulties. Whatever may arise- rather it be ill health, financial crisis, a problem with the law, or a quarrel with a friend or loved one- replace the worry/ obsession with thoughts of God instead. I choose to say, "God is love. I am His child and He loves me," but anything would suffice. Even just "God is" works. Try this simple remedy and hopefully your worries will go away. This has really helped me. Let me know how it works for you.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

"Been There, Done That"

One of my least favorite sayings is, "Been there, done that!" I feel as if my circumstance is somewhat belittled when someone says that to me; as if they think they are better than me. Let me give you an example. I was working on a writing project with a colleague, but it was the end of the school year and I had obligations for my children's events. I suggested to my colleague that she meet me at the park, where Nicholas (my youngest of three) was having a picnic and then free play. I thought we could sit in the shade at a picnic table and do our work. Her reply was, "Been there, done that- no thanks." She has only one child who is grown now. In reality, she didn't want to be around screaming five-year-olds. So now she is complaining about having to do the brunt of the work. I am powerless over her reactions. This once friend has cut me out of her life completely, and guess what? It hurts. Before I left for my sabbatical, she started lashing out at me through e-mails, citicizing my blog posts on Conversations With A Cardinal. I was writing a lot about my family heritage. My great great (etc.) grandfather, Charles Carroll signed The Declaration of Independence. My great grandmother wrote a book about growing up on a plantation that is in the Library of Congress. I am proud of those things and chose to write about them around Flag Day. Yet, she depreciated my efforts of trying something new. That hurt. When I got back this month, she had cut all ties with me. If she wants to be that way, I'll continue to pray for her. I've been there, done that with people like her.

A Good/Bad Deed

Okay- so I mowed the backyard yesterday. I hadn't done that since last summer after Pete had his neck surgery. Then I mowed EVERY week and quickly grew tired of the tedious task. But yesterday I tackled the heat so I could relieve my hard-working husband of the responsibility when he got home from work. I donned my bikini top, shorts, visor and tennis shoes. What I had forgotten was that we now have a different lawn mower. I quickly learned it blew grass everywhere, and when I was finished, pieces of grass and dirt clung to my sweaty body.

I learned some good and bad lessons from my mowing debacle. First, I am still strong and able to do the job. But most importantly, I woke up dizzy-free (thanks to a double dose of allergy meds). Last summer every time I mowed the lawn, I had some of my dizzy problems the next day, but so far, so good. The bad news is I woke up sore. I have a blister on my hand between my thumb and pointer. The knuckles on that hand (the right) are swollen (palm side) and they hurt. Plus I have a dull headache that won't go away. Oh well- these negative consequences will not keep me from helping out again; rather, they will be used as lessons learned. Next time, I will dress appropriately and mow in the opposite direction (Pete said that prevents the grass from blowing up on you). I will wear garden gloves to protect my hands. Last, but not least, I will not wait until the grass is as long as it was. Then maybe I will feel better the next day. Have you done anything lately to help someone out?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Thanks to Anonymous

An anonymous reader made a comment on one of my posts. This is what he/she shared:

Know God / know peace.
No God / no peace.

I love that so much! Thanks to whomever wrote that. I will cherish that thought forever.

A Simple Life

Remember, no matter where you go…there you are. (~Mary Engelbreit)

I used to try and run from myself. How, might you ask, could I do such a thing? Well, for me it was easy. I wrapped myself up in other people's problems, forever trying to be the hero and save them. In doing that, I didn't need to look at myself and what was bothering me. Instead, I focused on THEM- my children, my husband, my mother and my friends. Part of wanting to help others is just my nature, and it is a good thing to do; but I have found that I must first seek MY peace and happiness before I can truly help someone else. That is what I am doing today. And guess what? I am happy with myself- truly and honestly happy. My life is simple now, and I plan to keep it that way. No more over-committing myself or saying "yes" before thinking things through. I now can say "no" and give no reason. I don't worry about people-pleasing or wonder what they will think of me. I answer only to God now and I know He won't let me down. So even though someone took my name off a project I worked hard on, I am okay with it because God knows the truth. (Plus, I am still praying for this person, and it works).

So my question to you is- how do you simplify your life?

Everyone Matters

To have one's individuality completely ignored is like being pushed quite out of life. Like being blown out as one blows out a light.
~Evelyn Scott

I love this quote. What it means to me is that everyone matters, and we all want to feel important, or needed. When we give attention to other people in our lives, then we will get attention, too. Take, for instance, blogs. Whenever I visit a blog and leave a comment, chances are high that the writer of that blog will visit mine. If I become a follower on their blog, then they, too, might follow mine. I was gone for a month-long sabbatical and when I got back, I was truly dismayed to find a colleague, who was also a friend, had completely obliterated me from her life. She took my name off her followers, and my other blog off her list. We are in a writing group on-line together that automatically sends e-mails to everyone on the list, and she invariably leaves me out. How does this make me feel? Horrible. Unloved. Small.

God, ourselves and the other person are blessed when another person respectfully recognizes our presence. Compliments help us grow. Being shunned makes us wither up. Does God want us to act that way to a fellow human being? I think not. So, as difficult as it may seem, I am doing the only thing I know to do (after, of course, I retaliated and removed her as a follower and took her blog off my blog list)- I am praying for her. Guess what? I no longer feel that ball of anger and resentment growing in the pit of my stomach. I no longer feel hurt and belittled. I will not let anyone blow out my candle today. And when I see this woman at the next writer's guild meeting, I will give her a sincere compliment.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Brand New Day

...whatever is true...whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely...think about such things...put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
~Philippians 4:8-9

I have peace today. My peace doesn't come from material things, like a big mansion or fancy car. It does not come from a show I might put on to impress people. Rather, my peace comes from within. Knowing that God is in control of my life, living for the moment instead of ruing over the past or fretting about the future- these are all tools I use to find inner peace. I am so grateful for my serenity. People might try to break my peace, but I remind myself that humans are all fallible. Only God is perfect. So if I feel vexed at some point in the day, I simply pause and ask for God's will to be done and say the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Try this simple prayer in your daily struggles. It really does work. May you have peace and joy within today. It's a brand new day- let's make it a great one!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Love Everyone, and Pray For Those Who Hurt You

Cheerfulness is the atmosphere in which all things thrive.
~ Jean Paul Richter

I am quite disheartened that a colleague of mine has completely obliterated me from her life. Why~ I do not know. All I know is that I came back from my sabbatical and she had erased herself as a follower on my blog, and had erased my blog from her list of blogs that she reads. She has excluded me from her life. It saddens me that this once good friend has abandoned me for a reason I am oblivious to. The old me wants to butt my way in and try to find out what's up, but the new me will just sit back and let it be. It is what it is, and today I don't have to fret over other people's reactions. All I can do is pray for her- and I am. Acceptance is the word here. If I can ACCEPT that not all people will like me, and that I have no control of their perceptions or reactions, then I will remain at peace. And, for me, peace is the key to my serenity~ to my cheerfulness. Even though this has happened, I am extremely happy and I owe that to God.
Have any of you read the book The Shack, by Wm. Paul Young? I am reading it now and cannot put it down. A man who has lost a child gets to spend the weekend with God. This man was mad at God for what had happened to his daughter (she was abducted and murdered when they were on a camping trip). He learns to ACCEPT God's will in his life and finds that God is love. This man also learns to forgive. God loves each and every person no matter what. So, I am going to try and love this person who has hurt my feelings and pray for her. Experience has shown me this works. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Honest Scrap Award

Nancy, at Voice Over nominated me for this gracious award.
The rules of the Honest Scrap Award are to reveal Eight Honest Things about yourself. Here is what I came up with:

1. When I was a little girl, whenever we went to visit my grandparents in San Antonio, the very first thing I would do when I arrived was get the Pledge out, smell the clean fresh scent and dust their furniture. I loved to dust Nonna and Pawpaw's baby grand piano and other antiques, even though they were already spotless. Ironically, now I hate to dust and would give anything to have someone come and dust my furniture!
2. My nickname was "Goldilocks" when I was little. Then, when I began experiencing the vertigo, my Uncle Bill, who was a pediatrician nicknamed me "Dizzy Blond." I would much rather be Goldilocks!
3. I graduated from Kelly High School with honors and was on the Literary Magazine publishing committee. I loved to write even then. Upon graduation, I got a nursing scholarship to Lamar and went there for a year, but wanted to get away from home, so transferred to Texas A&M. Unfortunately, A&M did not have a nursing program then, so I chose to become a teacher, and graduated, again, with honors. Sometimes I wish I had become a nurse.
4. I student taught in The Woodlands during the fall semester and became a full-fledged teacher by Halloween- before I even graduated in December. I proceeded to teach second grade for six years and then became the district dyslexia specialist for Lumberton ISD for another six years. I thought it was the seven-year-itch! I guess for me, it's six years!
5. I love to run. I would much rather run than walk (walking takes too long). Being outside is therapeutic for me- I feel so close to God when I am outside exercising.
6. Pete (my husband of eleven years) and I had our first date on my thirtieth birthday. We were married the next year and had Katie the following year after that. Then we had Andrew and Nicholas soon after. When Nick was born, I had three children under the age of four.
7. I am shy and quiet, which is one of the reasons I love to write. I am also very sensitive and sentimental. I used to be a people-pleaser, but thanks to a friend named Beth, I now have BALLS (and boy do they feel good).
8. Last, but not least, I am living each day to the fullest, enjoying the present as I pursue my life-long dream of writing. I have a contract with a book out this October ("Christmas Miracles") and have been published elsewhere. Life is good and I am grateful for all of you!

Now, to pass this award on, I'd like to nominate Jeni, Susan and Holli. Keep writing, my friends!

An Attitude of Gratitude

One joy scatters a hundred griefs. ~ Chinese Proverb

I am so grateful today! I have discovered that an attitude of gratitude makes life much easier to deal with. Here are some of the things I am thankful for:

1. My family- Three healthy, smart, talented children who are not one bit spoiled; my wonderful, loving, supportive husband who loves me unconditionally.
2. Two sweet, adorable dogs Snowie and Jake.
3. Parents and a sister who live so close and are always supportive and helpful.
4. Wonderful friends who love me even when I don't love myself- who are supportive, caring and understanding. I am so grateful to know they will ALWAYS be here for me~ thanks, my friends!
5. My modest house- it may not be a mansion, or worth a lot, but it's home and I love it. My children were born into this house and they love it, too. There have been many memories made here.
6. Writing, writing, writing (and my writing peers).
AND LAST, BUT NOT LEAST- GOD. Through Him anything is possible!

What are you grateful for today? Please share!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Love to Forgive

"All that is necessary to make this world a better place to live is to love-to love as Christ loved, as Buddha loved." ~Isadora Duncan

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone tried to live by this principle? We would try to see how we could help each other instead of selfishly worrying about our own motives. Life would take on a new meaning as we focused on love for everyone, rather than competition or getting even. We wouldn't hold grudges over past mistakes, rather we would shower the person with unconditional love. Forgiveness would be our creed.

You might be asking yourself how to forgive and love someone who has done you harm. The answer is simple, and it really does work. Pray for that person daily for three to four weeks. Halfway through, your grudge will be gone. Try this yourself and let me know how you do. Remember to pray for that person to have peace, love and happiness, just as you would want for yourself. I'll be anxious to hear from you. I am praying for a certain person, too. Remember "All we need is love," (The Beatles).

Sunday, August 2, 2009

No Place Like Home

"There's no place home,"
or so says Dorothy,
and when you come
back from vacation
this is so very true.
Home welcomes you
with all of the familiar
smells and comfortable
beds; everything seems
new and fresh, and even
though the trip was nice,
home is now even better.