Overcoming Fear…

Today my post is much more serious than usual. Recently there have been some things happening where I live that have me living in fear. Graffiti seems to be popping up on every corner. Gangs tend to be increasing in our city, and I am not certain my neighborhood is exempt. Last night a lady was mugged while coming home. I am terrified for my children to roam around unsupervised, even though children play safely in our streets every day. Tonight, the fear came in so fiercely that I finally broke down crying uncontrollably. I do not like what this is doing to me. It is causing me to suspect and not trust others living around me.

In addition, the fear is causing extreme dislike to creep into my heart. I do not want to become a bitter or prejudiced person because of the fear I’m living in that is brought on by ungodly people and ungodly behavior. I want to be the kind of person who boldly stands against things that are wrong, but fear prevents me from being this kind of person.

Tonight I am just meditating on what God says about fear. Psalm 27 says it best:
1 The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.

10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.

12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

That last verse: Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. That is what I am doing. To all my Christian friends out there: Please pray for my family’s safety, for my children, my husband, and me. Pray for the safety of others in my neighborhood. Pray that violence does not creep in. Pray for our law enforcement, that they will be guided in the right direction so that they are able to zone in on the right people. And pray that I remain strong, take heart, and wait on the Lord. I know He has it all worked out. I just have to have faith.

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Published in: on June 17, 2008 at 8:41 am  Comments (2)  

Kindred Spirits

Isn’t amazing how God always surrounds us with others who we can connect to? The move to Duluth was HUGE for me. I was so worried about leaving my close friends and family behind. However, God has blessed me with some pretty awesome new friends, and that has helped with the homesickness. I am not completely cured, but my new kindred spirits have caught on to when I might need cheering up, especially one in particular.

Recently I received some rather unsettling news that caught me off guard, it seemed my children were turning against me, I was stressed out from starting graduate school, and I was anxious concerning an upcoming trip. (What can I say, I’m wound a little too tight.) I went in to work, and someone had laid a bag stuffed full of goodies on my desk. Inside it was the latest Country Home magazine, a huge chocolate bar with a note attached, a copy of the Juno soundtrack, and a list of conversation starters. Only one person here would know to get me that magazine, my new good friend Carrie. Of course she tried to deny it, but who else besides my husband would come up with something as special and random as that? Yeah, God is good…

And thanks to Carrie, if you’re stuck and don’t know what to say, I picked out a few of the best for you:
-What if the Hokey Pokey is what it’s all about?
-Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?
-Can a cross-eyed teacher control his pupils?
-If you only have one eye, are you blinking or winking?
-If you have a gun and you ask, “Can I ask you a question?” and they say “Fire away!” should you shoot them?
-Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant?

Maddie is fascinated with two of these. The one eyed question and the glue question. She can’t stop talking about them:)

Published in: on May 18, 2008 at 6:02 am  Leave a Comment  

A Happy Mother’s Day!

Things haven’t been the best in the ol’ motherhood department lately. Whether out of guilt, or out of just plain old love, my children gave me the best Mother’s Day of my life! I came home after hearing a sermon about Hannah, and the dining room table was filled with goodies! There was a purse I had been eyeing at the Eddie Bauer outlet. There was a vase full of flowers from my daughter’s best friend Jessica whom I’ve sort of adopted. Inside the purse were goodies from Bath and Body Works, a huge card made out of poster board from Maddie and Jessica, a card from Noah and a sweet letter from Maddie. While I was out doing a little shopping with the kids, Chris grilled out rib eye steaks (my favorite!), shrimp, and baked some potatoes. He even baked brownies and served them hot on top of a bowl of ice cream. Yum!! Yeah, I’d say overall it was a good Mother’s Day!

My birthday is later this week. I wonder what they’ve got planned so that they can outdo today:) O.K. O.K. I’ll stop being greedy!!

Published in: on May 12, 2008 at 4:16 am  Comments (2)  

The Unexplainable Teens…

I have noticed that there are no good books that give good, practical parenting advice on the teen years. Like, what do you do when you catch your child cursing? What is the appropriate punishment for that? What do you do when your child acts as if he/she hates you? How do you react? Do you ignore or reach out to them more? So many things pop up during this trying stage of life, and I notice the gray hairs on my head are quickly multiplying. When my kids were little, every thing came to me so naturally. Now that they are independent thinkers my hands are full and I’m at a loss on what to do. Why do kids not come with handbooks? I need a handbook, darn it!!

And we want to have a second batch of youngsters. Can I raise them for the first 9 or so years and then send them to a camp for the next 9? Now that’s an idea…

Published in: on May 11, 2008 at 2:20 am  Leave a Comment  

There’s No Place Like Home…

I feel as if I haven’t posted in about 10 years. Though it hasn’t been that long, there has been enough happening lately that could easily span over the course of ten years. Some of these things I can blog about, most I cannot because they don’t involve just me, so they’re not my stories to publicly tell. I do wish I could blog about them because I have been doing a lot of research lately, and would love to share what I’ve learned online. Maybe someday…

Things are finally beginning to feel settled. Chris and I will have our one year anniversary next month, and I would say I do all over again! Our home is beginning to feel “finished” and like a home to me. There are still many things we plan on doing to the house over time, but things are falling into place.

Work is the same: it’s beginning to feel normal as well. The change was tough at first, but now I feel adjusted. It’s funny that it has taken about a year for all this to happen.

I am hoping that by this time next year things feel even more like home. That will be a wonderful feeling to have, because to me, there’s no place like home…

Published in: on April 19, 2008 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

I’m getting married!!

Well, I’m back and ready to reveal the second reason I’ve been too busy to post. And the reason is…. I’m engaged!! I haven’t been able to publish this news on the web, because we had not told Chris’s family. He wanted to tell them in person when we went to Birmingham to visit for Thanksgiving. His family is excited. My family is excited. Heck, we’re all excited! I’ve waited so long to meet someone that I’m so happy with. I’ve been busy making some early preparations, and so far I’ve been very blessed. It’s not easy planning a wedding on a single mom/educator’s salary. I have already found the perfect wedding and bridesmaid gowns at better than perfect prices. My flower girl dress is purchased, my headpiece and jewelry is purchased. Everything seems to falling right into place.

The proposal was nothing fancy. Chris spent an entire weekend catering around my favorites: he took me to favorite restaurants for dinners and breakfasts, watched Anne of Green Gables with me, took me to see a movie in the theatre, sent me to a fancy spa with my best friend for an afternoon, and made reservations at the restaurant we were supposed to eat at on our first date but couldn’t find (This is where he intended to propose.) He had even asked the restaurant to play our favorite romance music overhead while we ate.

We had an hour to kill Sunday afternoon between our movie and dinner reservations. We decided to grab a cup of coffee at Starbucks, which happened to be where we first met. The moment felt right to him, so he pulled out the ring and asked me while we were sipping our coffee outside of the coffee shop. It was perfect! I got to say yes to becoming his wife right where I first saw and met him.

It is so true that when God closes a door, he opens a window. I feel like the luckiest woman in the world!

Chris also announced our engagement on his website. It is well-worth checking out.

Published in: on November 28, 2006 at 3:32 pm  Comments (5)  

“The Tweenager Years”

Maddie will be 12 this Sunday. For some reason, this has felt like a milestone. She will celebrate the last of her “tweenager” years.

In an attempt to understand the “New Maddie” that’s been developing the last year or so, I’ve tried to remember back to when I was her age. Oddly enough, I don’t even remember turning 12. The only way I can remember being her age is by reflecting to the sixth grade and seventh grades. What thoughts did I have then? Who were my friends? Where did my interests lie?

Basically, my memories sum up to this: Friends were a big thing to me. The more hip they were, the better. Although I don’t know where any of them live now or what they do for a living, at the time my world revolved around them.

We didn’t have razor phones, ipods, Hollister hoodies, Abercrombie jeans, or Nike Shox, but there were Swatch watches, Coca-Cola shirts, Guess blue jeans, and Converse high-tops. Countless morning bus rides were spent oooohing and aaaahing over each other’s new items.

And of course there were boys. We were just beginning to notice that the male species wasn’t created just for aggravating the snot out of us. We had crushes on many, and the comments we would make about them make me blush as an adult. We were beginning to experiment with sexual jargon and profanity even though the meanings were unclear.

As I monitor my daughter’s internet usage and try my best to stay connected with what’s going on in her life, things are really not that much different. We didn’t have computers and the internet, so we were a bit more “sheltered” to the outside world, but the dangers were still out there. Kids were having sex and getting in trouble for things like vandalism and drug usage. These are not new issues. Perhaps they’re just more publicized today.

So, the next time you’re tempted to say, “When I was a kid, we didn’t…”, stop and think about it. Are you for certain that things really were all that different? Or is it just our memory that’s changed? 

A Weekend in Paradise…

This weekend I was supposed to fly out to Jamaica for my brother’s wedding. However, my flight dates had been changed, and the resort I was supposed to stay at neglected to pass this information along. Their negligence made it no longer feasible for me to go.

Needless to say, a trip that I had been planning and excited about for months, was cancelled practically overnight. I was bummed, to say the least, but the chaos the resort put me and others through diminished my desire to go.

However, despite all the disappointment, my weekend turned out to be more wonderful than any trip to Jamaica could have ever proven to be.

I came in very late Friday night after putting in a late day at work. (The hours I had spent making arrangements to be out of work had taken its toll on me.)

Chris was coming to visit and had called and asked me to pick up a few items on my way home because he too was running late. He beat me to the house, and as I approached the front door, I heard Jamaican music coming from inside. I knocked, and after he didn’t answer, I went on in.

What I saw took my breath and brought tears to my eyes! My livingroom had been turned into a tropical island. On the chair laid a silk Hawaiian shirt, a grass skirt, and a silk lei. My house was cleaned up, and on top of the coffee table were two stuffed animals completely surrounded by a mound of Hawaiian flowers. I noticed when his dogs ran up to greet me, that they had tiny leis wrapped around their necks.

Then, out of my kitchen, through a newly-constructed grass door, came Chris already dressed in island attire. He slid the items he had laid out for me on top of what I was already wearing, reached out and grabbed me, kissed me and just held me tight for a few minutes. He then began to dance with me. Even as I type this, the tears resurface. It was the most beautiful thing anyone has ever done for me!

We danced many times throughout the night, made ourselves margaritas from scratch, chatted, and just enjoyed the evening to ourselves. It was a perfect way to end a stressful and disappointing week.

There was nowhere else, or with anyone else I would have rather spent that time with. Thank you, Chris, for making it possible for me to spend my weekend in paradise!

Published in: on October 9, 2006 at 1:20 am  Leave a Comment  

Love and Marriage…

This weekend I was fortunate enough to attend a bachelor/bachelorette party for two very special people. My brother and best friend. It’s not every day that your brother and best friend get married. Despite the fact that each have been an important part of my life for so long, they had not met one another until earlier this year. However, when they did meet, it was love at first sight! I instantly knew that my best friend would eventually be my sister-in-law. I have watched their relationship grow throughout this past year, and it was a joy to celebrate their soon-to-be union. I wanted to tell the story of the night, but I do not believe it’s possible for me to capture the moment better than my beloved Christopher did. I only hope Kisha knows what she’s getting into. She is marrying into no ordinary family…

http://chris.sheppard.name/index.php/archives/21

Published in: on October 3, 2006 at 12:21 am  Leave a Comment  

Sitcom Parenting…

I had one of those “t.v.” mornings while getting the kids to school this morning. Maddie beginning middle school has complicated our mornings, especially now that she has to catch the bus.  When I say it’s time to leave “right now”, she automatically assumes it’s O.K. to add five or so minutes.  The problem? Her bus has never been late. Early, yes, but late, no.

 As the school year progresses, so does the number of times she has missed the bus. She has been relying on a friend as her back-up plan. If she is cutting it close, she calls her to pick her up. 

As the bus pulls off, her friend calls because she can’t pick her up. Maddie is usually in charge of finding her own way to school in these situations. However, she has learned the right people to call when she is in a bind.  This is preventing me from successfully enforcing the “leave right now” concept.  

So, I pulled my own strings. I arranged for her to ride to school with the person of my choice. You should of seen the  look on her face as she left!

The drama didn’t begin or end with her. Noah decided as we were pulling in to the parking lot that he needed to stay home. He informed me the previous evening at bedtime that he felt as if he were dying and would probably be unable to go to school. He was curious if I could find a sub at the last minute. I informed him that he could go to the nurse if he felt that bad. He went into the spill about how that wasn’t going to do him any good because he didn’t have a fever, wasn’t throwing up, and didn’t have diarrhea. (Aren’t these the requirements for staying home?)

 I appeased him by telling him I would write his teacher a note informing her of his condition. When he came back to my room to get his bookbag, I told him there was no need for me to do so because I ran into her in the mailroom. I updated her of his condition and stated out loud to him (in front of all my students) that she would allow him to go to the bathroom anytime he needed to go. He darted out of my room, head ducked, cheeks red as a beet mumbling, “That’s gross!”

Satisfaction rendered as I watched both go on their way. I felt I had provided each with just enough humiliation for lessons to be learned. And who said parenting wasn’t fun?

P.S. Noah made it through the day without having to go to the nurse or bathroom…

Published in: on September 25, 2006 at 10:32 pm  Leave a Comment