Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Interview Shminterview

I recently recorded my first author interview for a publishing company who printed one of my short stories.  The interview basics were explained to me, what they wanted and what questions I should answer. It is considered a self interview, meaning I would film it at home and send it in to the publisher. They would then edit it, and post it with links to my story and promote it on their website and on their YouTube channel. My interview ran for 6 minutes and 13 seconds. A bit longer than other author interviews, (around five minutes normally) but I was pleased with it and sent it in to the publisher. 

I spent a little time viewing other author interviews on the Youtube channel. Some were wonderful with beautiful backgrounds and excellent answers. Others, you could tell the author struggled being in front of the camera and that an interview was the furthest thing from comfortable.  All of the interviews were edited with placards before each question.  My interview was me, filmed by me, sitting on the couch in front living room. No special background or interesting environment in close proximity. 

I received an email a few days later stating my interview was posted, thanking me for the rewrites of my story and requesting my Paypal information for final payment for both.  I was pleased and clicked the link.  My story looked great and I liked the graphics the editor chose. I found my interview at the bottom of the story.  I clicked on the interview and found the unedited version.  I was so confused and slightly flustered. My interview looked nothing like the others. They had stressed the importance of forwarding the interview as soon as possible for editing purposes. But nothing was done to my recording. Nothing. There weren't any graphics or fancy placards at the beginning of each question and answer.  At first, I worried that I hadn't delivered the requested video. And they couldn't edit it so they just left it in its original format. 

I received an email a few days later that said, 

"....Thanks for "Crier". You helped make this issue of The Hickory Stump the best that it could be. We look forward to your next submission. I really liked your comportment and voice on the interview. Not everybody can do that. "

I had to look up the word comportment, but I believed that it was compliment. All that worrying, for nothing.  I had been asked to do something that made me uncomfortable and they were pleased with the final outcome. 

Why is it that self doubt sneaks in at inopportune times? If I have confidence as a writer, why not for an interview about writing? I realized that this was just another case of being my own worst critic.  I was critiquing myself before I even knew that my interview was exactly what they wanted.  I panicked only to find out that my interview was candid, reflective and draws in the the listener and reader alike. 

I will probably struggle again in the future when another author interview comes along. I will second guess my ability to do it. But I will also remind myself that sometimes, when I am my own worst critic, I forget to have fun during the process. And when I really reflect on this first time experience, it was fun. It was a learning experience. And I now have my first interview under my belt. Bring on the next one!


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Hey Mrs. G!

My 12 year old daughter Lily called me from school today. From her classroom. I just got home from the Women's Mission Luncheon at church and was settling in for an afternoon of working from home. The call came on my cell and I promptly answered it realizing it was the phone number of her school.

"Mom, hi, how are you? I love you. I am sorry, I was wrong about the early release on Wednesday. It isn't Wednesday, it is Friday."

I giggled with her about making a simple mistake but was glad she took the time to clarify because I was attempting to make a lab appointment at the doctor's clinic for her for Friday afternoon.  I told her it was a good thing that I didn't think she was correct about the day because if I had set it for tomorrow, she wouldn't be home yet.

"I don't know what I was thinking. But I am glad I get out of school early Friday." She mused.

I told her we all get confused sometimes and make mistakes with dates. I thanked her for the clarification and asked her how her day was going.  I told her she could have told me when she got home from school, but appreciate every little touch point from kids during the school day.

I heard talking in background.  I asked who it was.  "That's Ryiah." I hear Ryiah say hi.  I then hear more hello's in the background.  I asked who that was. "Um, I am in class, that is everyone saying hi to you mom."  (HI! HI! HELLO MRS. GAVIN!  HEY MRS. G!)

I laughed.  "Lily I love you.  Thank you for calling me and for everyone saying hi. I miss you and I will see you when you get home."

"Love you too mom! See you later!"

Could this quite possibly be the best phone call I have ever received? Yes, Lily calls me all the time. But the fact that my 12 year called me from her classroom, from school to clarify information that she knew she had passed on to me and it was wrong. But the best part was she told me she loved me with everyone listening in. She said it not once, but twice. Oh how I treasure the words of love exchanged between my daughter and I.

I adore that even in junior high, she hasn't yet entered that stage where she doesn't think her parents are cool anymore.  She loves when Josh or I stop in for a quick visit at school.  She loves bringing friends for outings on the weekend when her mom and brother are always present.  She loved including me in her fun with her friends last Friday at Trunk or Treat at her school.  She even introduced me to a few new friends that I hadn't met before.

I pray that there isn't a day when I wear out my welcome with Lily. That she will always tell me what is on her mind, that she will share the weariness of a hard day with me, that she will tell me school is just too hard.  I pray that she always know that my arms are a safe haven and hand is ready to be held.  I pray that she knows that I will never tire of the phone calls from school and the fact that she never forgets to tell me she loves me before she hangs up the phone.

This sweet child who challenges me daily as a parent has thoroughly warmed my heart today.

Monday, October 29, 2018

#togetheragainstantisemitism

My friend Ali has fought for the better part of two weeks to expose an Anti-Semite special education teacher's beliefs.  Janet Arsanian enabled and encouraged her young teen son to dress as Hitler at a Halloween event in Boulder City, Clark County, Nevada.  She laughed at and later supported the behavior of her son when he saluted others and even took on the persona of Hitler.

When Ali exposed this unacceptable behavior, numerous worldwide news outlets picked up the story.   Arsanian continued to cyber stalk Ali when Ali wouldn't let the story die. Showing up on public pages, even stalking her on her own Facebook page, Arsanian continued to attack, not claim any ownership as a parent and refused to acknowledge why her actions as an special education teacher were reprehensible.  (She also speaks publicly about her favorite book being one about children dying by Nazi hands. Is Arsanian someone who should be teaching children with special needs and listening to her spew her support of Nazi actions during WWII?)

Why is this a problem?  There are still people in this world and sometimes entire populations that do not believe that the Holocaust happened. They do not believe that such a huge part of our world history that occurred less than 75 years ago was "big deal".  There are people that will argue death tolls in Russia were far greater and that it "didn't have anything to do with Jewish people."  Those of Jewish descent today, in 2018, still are discriminated against daily.  They are viewed as not equal to, but less.  Isn't that how since the beginning of time the Jews were persecuted and discriminated against? Is it women like Arsanian who believe her son's costume was "fantastic and so real like he walked off a movie set" enable the atmosphere of hate and racism to be fostered?

Just day's ago, 11 people were shot and killed and 6 more wounded in a mass shooting in a Pittsburgh Synagogue.  One of the people who was shot and killed was a 97 year old Holocaust survivor.  A Holocaust survivor was shot a killed in the United States for being Jewish and being in a Synagogue.  A place of worship.  Let that sink in.

Why does this matter to me? A Caucasian, Born Again Christian,  Middle Class American Woman? This is exactly the kinds of things that should matter to everyone.  These are exactly the things that we should speak out against and be angry about because they are still happening today in 2018.  The fact that my friend Ali is a Jewish woman is beside the point.  We as human beings, created in the image of God, all completely equal, need to speak up, need to speak out and need to make sure that our voices are heard.  We need to make sure that women like Arsarian know that there will never be a time in the future where dressing like or acting like Hitler will be commended. There will never be a time when persecution of any people group should be acceptable. There will never be a moment when words and actions do not matter. Because they do. And right now, her words and actions need to have consequences. 


Sunday, October 28, 2018

Carve A Pumpkin With Me, Same Time Next Year


I am horrible at carving pumpkins. Horrible. No, that isn't an exaggeration.  One year, I carved the eyes too close together and the face fell in on itself. Last year,  somehow I carved the top smaller than the opening and I couldn't keep the lid on without the help of toothpicks placed accordingly.  This year, I broke two of the carving utensils and poked my daughter in the arm with the main metal piece I used to carve the eyes.  Needless to say, my daughter carved a Star Wars Storm Trooper, I carved a hot mess of an excuse for a pumpkin.

With all that being said, Lily and I had fun this evening.  We spread the newspaper out on the counter, she washed the pumpkins down with a wet rag out on the front porch. She brought them in and we located our carving utensils. We set out to work on our masterful creations.  Side by side, wearing our aprons tucked under our armpits as not to ruin our clothing, Lily and I stood at the kitchen counter.  She smiled when she realized her creation was actually going to happen. We giggled and visited about what our plans were and what part of the pumpkin we would tackle next.  She told me that she wasn't going to get upset if it didn't look quite like the picture because she was having a good time trying.

A good time trying.  When does a 12 year say something like that?  When she finished, Josh and I made a big deal out of her out of this world pumpkin. No, neither of us will ever win a carving contest. But you know what we did win? We won by spending time together and enjoying each others company. We won as we worked as a team cleaning up the guts of of orange creations. I as Lily's mom won when I approached her from behind and kissed the top of her head as she was washing her hands at the kitchen sink.

"Mom, I am so glad we carved pumpkins tonight. I had a really good time. Maybe next year we can get even more pumpkins!"  Yes, Lily. Let's do it again. Same time, next year.  More pumpkins, more time spent with each other, more smiles and more giggles.  I treasure these moments with Lily. I always will.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Please Stop Asking Me To Smile



Absolutely 100% my worst pet peeve? When someone tells me to smile. Please do not tell me to do this.  If I am told to smile, I immediately shut down.  Why is my smile necessary?  Why must I always be smiling? Why do people think that it is okay to tell someone else to smile? As if the current state of their face is unacceptable.

A few weeks back, my gorgeous sister Angela posted an updated profile picture of herself on Facebook. She looked beautiful. Her dark hair pulled back, her eyes shining, and a content look on her face. Someone liked and commented on the picture that she looked nice, but questioned where her smile was. Wait. What?  Handing out half compliments and then demanding that smile be plastered over her face before ever posting a new picture of herself? No. That isn't okay. And it was another female making this comment.

It really rubbed me the wrong way.  I haven't even talked to my sister about this.  So Ang, here is my notice.  It rubbed me the wrong way.  It does every time it happens to me, and I took offense on your behalf when the half compliment, half telling you what to do comment was left under your picture. Where you looked ridiculously fantastic as usual.  Keep smirking, and don't you dare smile for anyone but yourself.

When I was in Junior High, teachers called me Miss Smiles or Miss Sunshine. I smile frequently. I love life. I find humor in the mundane. And smiling is naturally an act that follows when something fills me with joy.  But they were also quick to note when I wasn't smiling. One male teacher would badger me if I wasn't smiling. As if my smile was necessary for me to fade into the background.  He would say things in front of the class and even make fun of me as he drew every eye to me.  I hated it. I told my mom and asked what I should do.  She told me to call him out publicly, without being rude and without calling names.  I had a plan for the next time he picked on me for not smiling.  He didn't make me wait long to put my plan into action.  The following week he was at it again.

"Kelli, why are you so sad? Where is your smile today?" He smirked as if he liked knowing that all the other kids my class were paying attention to his ridicule.

"I would smile, but you have felt the need to badger me in front of the class this entire quarter. Maybe if you left me alone, and carried on with today's lesson plan, that would make me smile."  And I graced him with only what I can call a snarky Kelli smirk as I stared him down to ensure he caught my drift.  He never pointed out my smile or lack thereof ever again.

In high school, I was doing poorly in a Chemistry class.  The female teacher loved reading scores out loud as she would hand back our papers and tests.  She announced my C- to the class and commented that at least it wasn't a D this time.  I was so embarrassed.  The boy that sat behind me and to my right zeroed in on my discouragement.  He whispered, "Maybe if you smiled more she would be nicer to you."  I dropped out of Chemistry at the end of the semester and took Interior Design class.  For some reason, I smiled all the time in that class.

When I was working for a financial institution in my early 20's, my friend Matt and I would often travel to the cities together to attend meetings.  We were attending one such meeting in Minneapolis and were meeting some of the Department heads. As we walked from floor to floor, I hung close to Matt as he knew most of the people I would be introduced to.  Matt was wonderful at making introductions.  When we got to one the last departments, (Investments and Annuity Sales) Matt introduced me to the supervisor.

"Ah! You are the teller from Excelsior with the most beautiful smile. Make sure you always smile. That will help you sell lots of Annuities." This 60+ year old man telling me to smile made me want to punch him. 

I replied, "Oh don't you worry. My sparkling personality makes up for my lack of knowledge. I promise you I will do well."  I was the youngest annuity contract salesperson for the entire financial institution. I sold more contracts than sometimes entire branches combined. Snarky Kelli. I couldn't help it.

My husband has witnessed people telling me to smile in one way or another.  His eyes get as big as dinner plates, his hands rise in a gesture that means he is out of this one, and he slowly steps away.  He shakes his head in disdain and walks away from any and all snark that I may or may not display. He just can't do it.

Even to this day, when I am closer to 50 than to 30, I hear this often.  Smile! Where's that beautiful smile?  Smile, it will make you happy! --Mind you, never in the history of smiling, have I wanted to smile when someone tells me to smile. Not even for a picture. If I am told to smile and then paid a backhanded compliment, I shut it down. Conversation over. Done.

So please, stop focusing on what people do or don't do. Women especially. Believe it or not, someones suggestion to smile makes for one uncomfortable conversation.  And life is uncomfortable enough without people trying to tell others what to do.


Sidenote: Is it weird that when someone tells me to smile, I want to revert to saying...You are not the boss of me!  ?

*Thanks to Jen Mann for the perfect picture for this post.
*And Ang,  thank you for letting me write about my beautiful sister.



Friday, October 26, 2018

Professional Organizer By Day, Blogger Hack By Night


Today was a challenging day at work. The piles seemed to stay the same height the entire day.  I had my work cut out for me and I only accomplished about half of what I wanted to today.  As a Professional Organizer working in people's homes each day, every day is completely different. Some of my clients need help with de-cluttering and organizing. Some need assistance throwing things away and deciding what to sell or donate. And most need help with all the paperwork. Insurance, Banking, Investments, Taxes, Correspondence, Purchases and Returns and Calendars and Schedule Keeping.  Some of my client's struggle with focusing and getting things done. Some aren't able to see anymore in their later years and need a second set of eyes to make sure that everything is completed correctly. And still some, need someone to motivate them to get things done on their own. Someone to be accountable to. I am often referred to as the decision maker, the gauntlet and the boss.  Clients acknowledge their need for help and make the decision to contact me to help them make changes in the way they manage their home.

I love my clients. Some of them I have been with for over 10 years.  I love seeing some of them weekly and others every other week.  Some of them I see multiple times a week when the need arises. I love figuring out what each homeowner needs and coming up with a plan to solve problem areas or issues.  I enjoy seeing a reaction from clients when realize that there is a solution and that they aren't alone.  I often stick with clients longer than necessary as needs change and evolve. When life gets in the way, (illness, extended travel, big life changes) many of my clients need different kinds of help.  And I treasure the relationships that I have formed with many of my clients.

There are clients that struggle welcoming me in into their home. They want to do it all themselves but then realize it isn't possible.  They usually call me in duress.  I spend time during the first couple appointments reassuring the home owner that they did the right thing calling me and explaining that things will improve and we will do it together. Reassuring them that progress is possible often makes each homeowner relax and they begin to get ready to work.

Today was a solo day. Where I work in a home without the homeowner being present. Tucked away in the back office, there I was able to conquer a ton of work. Emails, filing bills and statements, filing donation and contribution receipts for taxes and then moving on to past years work. I pulled old statements for shredding, labeled ones that would be needed for taxes and created a punch list for the homeowner with 7 accounts that should be closed as they are no longer being used.  I created a breeze thru pile. A breeze thru pile is one of a bunch of miscellaneous notes and papers that she will be  able to look at and sort quickly as most will be thrown away. I made an additional list of tax items needed for past year taxes to make sure she doesn't throw them away in my absence and an additional list to remind me what else I need to accomplish in a timely manner when I am at her house next time.

When the homeowner is home, we often work side by side. These are times when we get a ton accomplished.  My questions are answered immediately and the homeowner feels motivated to make decisions quickly because of my presence.  These can also be some of the most challenging times. Side by side work days, I limit to four hours a day with a client. That is so we are productive, but also so I don't overwhelm the homeowner with too many decisions in one day.

The best days are when clients feel a sense of relief. There is less to do, less paper, less mail, less stuff to deal with, less clutter to look at.  That sense of relief is why I do what I do. It isn't always easy. It involves different personalities and often people who are very stressed out. I try to lead by example, keep a level head, show them the progress that has been made and compliment the homeowner on their efforts. I often talk about us being a good team.  Two sets of hands are better than one.

I love what I do. I love that this job was a natural transition after spending years in banking, investment and insurance. I love that my job is progress driven and results oriented. And I love that I am able to be home almost every day when my kids get off the bus from school.  Even at 12 and 15, they need me. They need me to be home and available.  Another reason why I am forever thankful for my job as a Professional Organizer.

And when I get home each and every day, I clean the kitchen and the bathrooms.  I do laundry and pack backs. I edit the book I have completed.  And I blog. I love to blog. I love to share glimpses of daily life with readers such as you.  And today, I have shared a bit of how I am a Professional Organizer By Day, and a Blogger Hack By Night. :)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Do It Afraid


 I was struggling with fear today.  More than just fear. I was terrified. I was at the doctor and needed to have some tests done. These tests could make the calmest person panic.  I couldn't catch my breath, I blotted the tears escaping from my eyes. I couldn't relax.  I asked for a minute.  I cried it out.  I prayed and asked God to help me hold every thought captive.  The fear was still there. Then I cried some more.  I had to have these tests done. It was a necessity.  I had to do it.  I was filled with fear. and the fear was not subsiding. I had to choose to move forward and have the tests done even though I was so very afraid.

When have you had to do something afraid? Filled with fear? When have you had to do something so challenging that you thought you needed to flee immediately? No matter the instance, we all experience fear. Sometimes it is something you have to do, or a conversation that needs to take place, or decision that needs to be made.  Today, my fear manifested itself in tears and me not being able to breathe.

I realized that I was anticipating pain, but I was more afraid of the outcome. Of what the doctor would say. When Josh entered the room to join me for the doctor's review and communication of the medical treatment plan, I felt a sense of relief, but I knew what would happen next. I would hear a confirmation of what is wrong with me.  The confirmation is what I was fearful of.  It made it real.  Hearing it said out loud by a medical specialist made me realize that I can't deny it anymore. But all of this turmoil today and what lead up to today, also showed me that what I am feeling is completely legitimate, real, and normal.

The plan is to try to avoid having surgery. One, because of my youngish age, two, because it is invasive and doesn't always work.  I will be seeking treatments through a specialist in hopes of enabling my body to heal a bit on its own.  Will it work? I do not know. But I will do everything the specialists say.  I will go to every doctor's appointment. I will follow every plan.  I may still be filled with fear, but I will do it afraid.  These next 12 weeks I know what I will be doing. I will be praying. I will be asking the Lord to lead me and walk with me daily.  I will pray and ask for this fear to subside. I will praise Him as I go through this process. I will rely on His strength. Sometimes, when we do it afraid, our trust increases. Our faith increases. My need for Jesus is ever present. God can be glorified in my dependence in Him. He can be glorified in my weakness.  His faithfulness and goodness to me is what I will continue to boast in.

Isaiah 41:10
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalm 46:1-3
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.

Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified , for the Lord your God goes before you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.





Wednesday, October 24, 2018

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

My Grandma Re couldn't sing. Neither could my Grandma Charlotte. But this fact never kept either of them from singing. They hummed. They sung loudly. And they praised their Lord and Savior whenever they were given the chance. 

My Grandma Charlotte and I were driving down West 7th Street in Saint Paul one bright morning when I was a young teen. She was humming under her breath.  I didn't have a clue what song it was, but she seemed to be enjoying herself. She observed me watching her, and said, "Sing with me Kelli!"  I busted out laughing and told her I sure would if I could actually tell what she was singing.  We laughed together. We laughed until we cried. Driving down West 7th street in her strange, brown, somewhat pink shiny car. We laughed all the way back to her home in Little Canada. 

My Grandma Re, was quite possibly the worst singer in the history of bad singers.  This is not an exaggeration. When she sang, she sang with gusto. I remember once sitting at the dinning room table with my Grandpa Kelley playing a game, and hearing her in the kitchen. I glanced in to see her standing in front of the kitchen sink with with hands held high. She had taken a minute out of her rush to put dinner on the table and given glory to her King.  Her out of tune profession of her Love for her Savior wasn't refused. God didn't care what she sounded like. It might have been sweet to His ears as she was singing from her heart.  

Not once, have I ever been able to hear or sing the song What A Friend We Have In Jesus without thinking about both of my grandmothers. I loved them both dearly and miss them.  But I have memories such as these that I will always hold dear. Especially singing this beautiful hymn. 

What a Friend we have in Jesus, 
all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry 
everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, 
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry 
everything to God in prayer. 

Have we trials and temptations? 
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; 
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful 
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; 
take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, 
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, 
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? 
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; 
you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised 
Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to 
Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there 
will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship 
will be our sweet portion there.

Words: Joseph Scriven (1857)

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Can't Imagine a Day

Can’t Imagine a Day


Can’t imagine a day when I don’t experience His grace
Can’t imagine a day when I don’t find His mercy
Can’t imagine a day when I do not need more of Him
Can’t imagine a day when I do not need less of me
Can’t imagine a day when His word doesn’t fill me
Can’t imagine a day when I don’t crave for more
Can’t imagine a day when my praises would ever cease
Can’t imagine a day when every knee bows with me
Can’t imagine a day when the rocks will cry out
Can’t imagine a day when all pain is gone
Can’t imagine a day when I hear angels sing

Can’t imagine a day without Him

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Josh's 7 Month Update

Josh's 7 Month Update





Vestibular Neuritis
Vestibular Dysfunction with Complet Vestibular Failure
Anxiety Disorder due to Vestibular Neuritis and Dysfunction
Hyperacusis
Tinnitus
Loss of Energy
Extreme Cognitive Fatigue

These are the conditions that Josh, my husband has been diagnosed with in the past 7 months.  Josh struggled with dizziness and balance issues starting back in March of this year, and his condition only continued to worsen. He continues to struggle daily with all of the above ailments.  Some days are better than others, some days he struggles significantly. These conditions are ones that will probably be with Josh for the years to come, as once Vestibular Complete Loss is present, it doesn't return. We are so thankful for the accommodations that have been made at work and the ones we are able to put in place in his daily life to make things easier for him.

Our continued thanks to everyone who has stepped in to the fill the gap in the last 7 months. Thank you for your acts of service, your apples and cereal and groceries, meals, and constant prayers. Thank you for chocolate bars and bunny visits for my kids, for coffee and restaurant gift cards. Thank you for hugs and handkerchiefs. Thank you for your love, your candor and being able to walk with us on this uncomfortable uncharted road. Thank you for loving our family when we are so messy and needy!

Praises to report:
Josh is able to care for both kids in my absence!
Josh can drive a car!
Josh has returned to work!
Josh's employer found him an amazing job in Corporate Recruiting!
Josh can lead a men's bible study!
Josh can attend the sermon portion of each Sunday morning service!
Josh can read again and watch sermons again for short periods of time!
Josh is encouraged so much when the dizziness is less and the acusis is unnoticeable!
Josh is encouraged by hugs and text messages! (let me know if you want his number!)
Josh has now mowed our grass two times this year!  Woohoo!
Josh can shop in a store with only the assistance of a cart to hold on to!
Josh is now able to go out to eat for short periods of time!
Josh is now able to help a bit around the house when he has the energy!

See all of these amazing praises!  In seven months, Josh has gone from not being able to stand up straight and having to use the wall to guide him, to working and being upright most of the day! We are thankful to God each and every day. God has time and time again shown us His faithfulness and love. We are eternally thankful for His daily presence in our lives.

One of my favorite verses is from Psalm 34, verse 1.
I will praise the Lord no matter what happens; I will constantly sing of His Glories and Grace.
or-
I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be on my lips.

No matter what happens. At all times.  Constantly Sing. Continually. His Glories and Grace. These words are not only true, but words of encouragement! We can still praise the Lord, when times are amazing and in times of great need. In joy and in suffering, we can constantly sing His praises.

Thank you dear friends and family. We will never be able to say it enough.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Rush

Sometimes it is good to be rushed.


Rush


Please rush me
If you don’t
I never will
Make me
Do it
Make me move
Make me start
Make me want more
Please rush me
If you don’t

I never will

Friday, October 19, 2018

Above It All

You’ve been elevated
Above it all
You have been placed
In a position
Above it all
The rest doesn’t matter
It is just background noise
I may have placed you there
To protect you
To make sure no one else
Could ever touch you
Hurt You
Take you
From Me
Above It all
Stay there
You’ve been elevated
Above it all

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Gift of Second Chances



Today I failed. Failed as a mom. Failed miserably.  It involved yelling. And crying. From both my daughter and myself.  I couldn't do it.  It was too much.  The day became so challenging. I gave up, my heart hurt and I had to walk away.  I think of all the days that I have failed as a mom. There have been many.  It usually involves disobedience, lying, rudeness, sassiness and a whole lot kids trying to make mom cry. No. They really aren't trying to make me cry.  But sometimes it feels like it.

I am a tenderhearted girl. Words matter. And they seem to matter most when they are words delivered from a child to a parent in hopes of hurting them.  After all is said and done, I may have said something like, "Well done. You did it.  I am completely defeated.  Anything else you want to say? Go for it. Get it out of your system."  That is when I had to walk away.  My broken mom heart on my sleeve.  I had to turn and walk away before verbally wounding the child that just wounded me.

Nope, I am not over it. I feel like this day has merited a couple days of hurt, but only a couple.  I was concerned after my baby girl came to me and apologized and we talked a bit. I was worried I wouldn't be able to turn the day around. I couldn't just pick up where we left off.  We had a wonderful morning filled by a dreadful afternoon.  So I fled. We fled. I packed up the kids and bonus child and we fled to the Carver Wildlife Refuge.  The warm Minnesota Fall day was what we all needed. The sun on our faces, the breeze at our backs,  the water rippling as if to welcome us.

The road was flooded and the gates were closed so we parked and walked into the park reserve.  I could feel my heart rate calming as soon as we came to top of the first hill.  The gravel felt great under our feet. I shouted out an announcement to the kids each time I saw something amazing.  The hollowed out tree, the snake on the side of the path, the stick that looked like a crutch.  They then started to do the same.  They pointed out the beautiful yellow leaves, showed me how to throw the rocks into the water and were amazed that the water got so deep so fast. We all stopped to revel at the sound of the water rushing quickly where the Minnesota River stopped us in our tracks as it covered our chosen path through the woods. We stood there in awe. The leaves, the branches, the downed trees. Even the old relics of days gone by. A huge metal gas can, a broken trap.

This was how we reclaimed the day. How our day was redeemed. We walked away from the mess that happened at our home and dove into all the joys that nature provides.  This over 70 degree fall Minnesota day was balm for my weary soul. It enabled me to want to speak kind words to the child that had hurt me so. The exercise and hills enabled me to place my worries behind me. How thankful I am that I was able to find solace in God's amazingly beautiful creation today.  The Carver Wildlife Refuge has done this before.  All of God's Glory in creation is completely on display in that beautiful place.

This day ended so much more peaceful than it had begun. I was able to be thankful to the Creator for His Creation. I was able to admit when I was wrong. I was able to let past hurt and defeat go.  I was able to enjoy being with my kids on this beautiful day.

Tomorrow I will get another chance.  A new day will be granted to me. It will probably involve another outing. It will probably involve a lot of, "Oh Look at that!"  I am going to make an effort to love on my kids. To kiss them.  To hug them. To tell them I love them and that I am so glad that I am their mom.  I am so thankful for second chances.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Even So

A friend and I recently talked about the crumbling marriages we see all around us. Where one partner works at the relationship and the other puts in little to no effort. Breaks my heart. Praying today for marriages. Praying for unspoken heart hurts. Praying for those that feel so alone. Reach out and ask for help. Work at saving your relationship. Even when it is hard. Especially when it is difficult.

Even So

Even so
I will stay
I will smile
I will embrace
I will love


Even so
I won’t go
I won’t change
I won’t worry
I won’t regret


Even so
I will walk
I will run
I will thrive
I will embark


Even so
You will turn
You will go
You will leave
You will regret

You will crumble

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Impact

Impact

When you brace for the impact
You don’t experience the whole effect
Your muscles tighten and eyes squint
Hands balled into fists
Feet press down on invisible breaks
You hurt yourself more than anything
Maybe you should embrace the impact
Fully take it all in wanted or not
Accept every last bit coming your way
Take a hold of the good and the bad
Release what isn’t needed
The impact will come sooner or later

Choose to embrace rather than brace

Monday, October 15, 2018

Wanisha

I met a woman today named Wanisha. She was at the register at the check out lane at the Dollar Store in Hopkins. I went in looking for Lily's favorite pretzel sticks and Zach's favorite rice cakes. I found the rice cakes right away but circled back a few times unable to find the pretzel sticks. Wanisha observed my meandering and called out, "Can I help you find anything?"  I told her what I was looking for, and she replies and points, "That aisle there and about a 1/3 of the way down on bottom on the right."  I found it immediately and shouted a thank you to her over my shoulder. "Anytime hon!"

I finished grabbing a few things and went to her check out lane. As she was ringing up my items a woman came up behind me and shouted at Wanisha.  "DO YOU HAVE MORE OF THESE?!" 
Wanisha was kind and said no ma'am, but my manager is down that aisle and she can help you.  The woman turned on a dime a strutted off down to find the manager. I turned back to Wanisha and she had tears in eyes. 

"Oh goodness. I am sorry that happened. I am sorry she was so snippy."  Wanisha went on to explain the woman had just insulted her and actually told her she was stupid for not knowing what inventory the store had just before I had entered into her check out lane.  I must have stood mouth agape.  What?  She told me again. The woman wanted exactly 13 of an item from an unopened box.  Wanisha explained that isn't how it worked. They can't sell unopened boxes and the boxes of that item come in 24.  She explained that the woman could make a special order from her manager if she would like. That explanation wasn't good enough and Wanisha was told that she was stupid. 

"You answered her question and gave her a solution.  There is never a reason for rudeness."  I told her. Wanisha asked if I could tell the mean woman that. She wiped her single stray tear and we giggled together a bit.  Right in front of me I saw this beautiful young woman, maybe 20 years old, with gorgeous hair and a funky pair of hexagonal gold framed glasses. Every time I have seen her in the past, she was always being helpful and had a smile on her face.  I went out of my way to use her name on her name tag.  "Wanisha, you are great job.  Use this as a reminder when you get older to never act like that woman. You are doing a great job. And thank you for your help today."

That is when my heart broke a bit. She looked at me for a such an uncomfortable long period of time. She squinted her eyes and tried to take me all in.  I don't think Wanisha has ever heard two words of kindness in all of her days in retail stores. Never has someone complimented her or told her thank you. I think she was still a bit distressed and continued to just look at me without saying anything.  "Have a good day Wanisha, thank you!" I gathered my three small bags and turned for the door.

My husband has worked in a retail setting for the majority of his life since he was 15 years of age. The stories he tells me are atrocious. People are horrible. He has even been made fun of for being deaf and not understanding what a customer was saying to him while his back was turned.  He has had to intervene when customers were yelling and screaming at his employees.  He has offered many a tissues to his employees as they shed tears in break rooms because of how horrible people treat one another.

I have always used these examples as how to not to treat people in stores.  Today was a perfect example. We need to say thank you. We need to compliment.  We need to make someone enjoy their job even if for only a moment.  We need to smile at each other and address people by name when possible.  I need to remember not to rush through each day so that I can move on to the next thing. If I had been rushing today, I would have missed out my time with Wanisha.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Breathe

Breathe

I was told it was easy
To put one foot in front of the other
That is not easy
That is the most difficult thing to do
I can’t even catch my breath
I can’t vocalize a coherent thought
Put one foot in front of the other
That takes effort and energy
Both of which I do not possess
It takes hunger and drive
Of which I have never had
I will focus on breathing
Lungs expanding
Then contracting
They said it was natural
We do it without being aware
I am aware of every pain
Of every pull
Of every tug
Breathing
First I need to learn to breathe
Then we will work on my feet

Saturday, October 13, 2018

She Smiled

A short poem about the last time I saw my mom smile.

She smiled more near the end
Not sure if she was aware
Was she smiling because
She didn’t know what to say
Or because she was listening
Her words became few
Her breathing became labored
Her smiles became fewer
Her eyelashes fluttered
She knew we were there
Her eyes didn’t open,
But she would hold my hand
When I said goodbye
One final time
I saw the corners
Of her lips turn upward
One final smile
Extended to me
How thankful I am
That she smiled near the end

Friday, October 12, 2018

Encourage



Everyone seems to have something to say. And it is usually negative.  People critique, judge, scoff, insult, and decimate others with words alone.  Why do we do that to other people? Why to do we open our mouth with the intent to hurt others? When you love a friend or a family member, shouldn't words of adoration and kindness be spoken.

I have joked about the statement, Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself.  But isn't that an accurate saying? The words that tear down are the words that destroy, maim, wound to the core.  Not only do we hurt others when our tongue goes unrestrained, we hurt ourselves. We mar the image of those that we insult. In our own eyes and others.  Why? Does it feel good? No. And if it does, the condition of a persons heart needs to be evaluated. We wreck relationships with the words we choose to communicate to others.

We are called to love. Called to be kind. Called to build each other up. We are called to encourage. Speak words that we would want spoken in return. We want to point out all of the amazing things we see in others. Never the faults. Grab a mirror and look back at your reflection. You have flaws just like everyone else. No one wants them to be pointed out over and over again. No one wants to be viewed as a failure.

Today I challenge you. If words that hurt and scar seem to leave your lips more often than words that encourage, flip the script. Make a choice to notice when those critical remarks seem to bear their ugly head to draw them back in. They are never needed. Bit by bit, word by word, throw them into the miry pit. Never to be used again.

Start being honest. Start noticing other people. Begin with simple complements and by thanking other people. Show appreciation.
I like your smile. 
Thank you for your help.
I appreciate you.

When someone is struggling, offer kindness.
I see this is challenging for you.
I like seeing you try.
If you would like any help, please ask. 

When someone succeeds.
Congratulations on your success.
I am so happy that your hard work and effort has paid off.

When someone fails, build them up.
I am so sorry. 
I know how it feels to not succeed.
What can I do to help you?

These simple words, these simple words of kindness help more than you will ever know.  Always remember to be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already.

Going Back

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