Thursday, May 31, 2012

Stepping out of the shadows of isolation.

"Step out of the shadows of isolation and into the healing from the One who gives ‘every good and perfect gift’ (James 1:17).”  This sentence from an article I recently read on, really struck a chord with me.  This last few years for me have been all about stepping out of the shadows of isolation to heal.  God has and continues to bless me abundantly with knowledge and support  through my trials.  I was led to a new church community, given the support and information to begin  healing, and sent to Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) with my persistent, truth speaking, dear friend Emily. (She was persistent by encouraging me to continue with BSF even though I thought I wouldn't have it all together to participate.) Through all these things God has led me the direction I always wanted to go, but didn't know how to.  

May 23rd was the last BSF meeting as well as the date of my husband's and my first date twenty years ago.  It was sharing day where you share how BSF helped you grow spiritually.  I shared about how I learned through Paul's example in Acts and his letters to the churches to find joy in the suffering and to persevere. Paul's story is just an amazing testimony.

My husband and I have been separated now for fourteen months. God has used this time to heal me and grow me spiritually.  He has given me a passionate heart for Jesus and revealed some of my spiritual gifts so I may bless others. The Lord has been teaching me how to trust and depend on Him while he walks with me through this.  No matter how worthless and rejected I feel by people, God loves me and has my best interest at heart.  Though it is tough being a single mom, this time has been a blessing for my relationship with my boys.  I have learned how it feels to love and give like God loves us and blesses us.  God has expectations of a Christian wife and mother that was not aware of.  God has led me away from those who tear me down and surrounded me with my brothers and sisters in Christ who build me up.  God has been my strength and courage as I have gone back to school. I will remember this experience to persevere in future trials.  I am just so glad I stepped out of the shadow to be healed and to learn about the life God wants us to live in Christ.  As hard as it is sometimes not to know what is going to happen, the Lord continues to give me peace.  Looking back, I can see how isolated I felt and now I can't imagine going back to that.  It is so freeing and I really want others to experience this.

Even though you are frustrated because can't see the why or how  the situation could possibly be good, remember to focus on the unseen because God's got it covered.  He has given us the perfect gift in Jesus.  Step out of the shadows and into the healing light. Embrace the full life God has given you. It is better than you can imagine.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Having It All Together

Recently I met a friend for lunch.  She breezed in and we sat down in the booth and she asked me how my day had been.  Without pausing I said, "Well, I've cried my makeup off twice today and my husband and I have been at odds, and altogether, it's not that good of a day."  She heaved a huge sigh and said, "I'm so glad to hear you say that!  I was a little afraid to see you today because you always have it together and I don't, and I had no idea what we were going to talk about!  I'm so relieved!"

I was astounded.  Someone was afraid to see me, to have lunch with me because I have it all TOGETHER??  Boy, did I have some things to think about.  We ended up chatting for two hours and got to know each other better but I walked out of there a changed woman.  In my attempt to be competent, to seem capable, was I really creating a false picture of "having it all together" to the point that women were intimidated by me? Hmmm....

I don't have any grand answers except to say I WANT to have it all together and sometimes strive to have it all together, but usually.....daily....I don't.  I get angry.  I sometimes yell.  I lose things.  I fail to send my kids to school with lunch money or the right forms filled out.  I promise I'll iron shirts for my husband and they hang wrinkled in the closet.  He irons them himself.  I go to the grocery store to buy bananas and spend 100$ but come home without bananas!  I mean to get organized but still can't find those receipts I need or the order form for team pictures. I want to make a healthy meal, but we end up eating sloppy joes and tater tots.  I set out to read my Bible daily, but can't seem to make it happen, despite having umpteen Bibles in the house and apps on my iphone AND ipad.  Most days I'm hopeless, yet my friend saw me as having it all together.  Time to take my mask off, right?

I'm so grateful I serve the Lord who sees me for who I am and loves me despite my cobwebby house.  I'm so thankful He promises to never leave me or forsake me, even if my son is the only kid who doesn't get a yearbook because I forgot to order one.  God sees right through to the heart of me and because of His Son, Jesus Christ, He sees a righteous woman.  The mask is off and I'm who I am...warts and all.  I don't have it all together and I never will, but that's ok.  I'm not scary about you?

Wanna do lunch?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Today's post is by Jennifer Blaschke.
So here it goes-you will hear part of my ugly struggle with forgiveness and how God blessed me through it all.  God was molding me into the mother he wanted me to be, and showing me how to love the mother I have.

My mom left when I was around 7 years old and my brother was around 4.  I remember some of the most horrible details of that time, like the night we were crying for her and my dad took us to her.  We were sitting in the car parked in front of a restaurant and through the glass I saw my mom w/ another man.   We eventually left and went to the man’s house.   I am sure at the time I did not understand what was going on, but a brick had been laid in the wall I would eventually build between my mom and myself.  That wall grew when a few years later I asked to live with her for the 100th time and my dad finally took me to her.  I stood there as she told me she could not take me, but what I heard was that she did not want me.  And the wall continued to grow.  While I was building the wall of hatred towards my mom, I was steadily building a pedestal for my dad to stand on.  I adored him.

I know as I read this, some of you are thinking what kind of a mom could do that to her children?  Why would she do that?  Let me take ownership of my part in this and then I will hopefully change your view of my mother.  

I began to act out on my every other Sunday visits with my mom.  I was a brat, disrespectful, disobedient, and just down right mean when I was with her.  I would purposefully destroy things and my favorite were things that were important to her new husband.  As I got older it got worse.  I would write horrible nasty letters to her.  My anger at anything and everything in life was fueled towards this one person.  When really all I wanted was that one person a girl needs……..her mom.

My stepmother is an amazing woman, but she had the difficult task of trying to blend two families together.  She could not fill that void for a mother that I had.  She had her two biological children to help navigate all the changes in their lives as well.    As a child, I did not understand that, but as a woman and a mom.  I totally understand that.  I believe this is where my heart for the orphan began.  God had a plan.  I will have to say that of all the mothers God has blessed me with, I think I am the most like my stepmom and for that I am grateful. 

I lived a life of really no boundaries.   By my early 20’s I was an unwed mother and had a minefield of mistakes and bad decisions in my past.   God brought another  woman into my life that filled a portion of the mother longing I had.  She placed boundaries on me, helped me with my daughter, and most importantly introduced me to this amazing man named Jesus.  She literally changed the direction of my life.  I became transformed.  My heart changed and my focus in life changed.  It was not an easy process, because I could not forgive myself for my past and I could not wrap my head around the fact that God would forgive me.  I remember crying out to him one night as I was driving home, just not understanding how he could forgive me for the way I had lived when I could not even forgive myself.  I felt him say…….”I am God, you are not.”  That stopped me in my tracks.   After that, I was finally able to accept that I was indeed forgiven.  My heart was changed, my mind was changed, but I left a little part closed.

Yes, I accepted that forgiveness from God, but was having a really hard time forgiving my mother.  I could feel God nudging me to allow Him to work in all parts of my heart.  I was holding that one enormous wall separate.  I felt I deserved to keep that part, after all she had abandoned me.  Little by little
the wall began to soften.  I can not say exactly when or how it happened.  It was a gradual process. 

When I let the anger blind my view of her, I did not see her as God saw her.  She was an infant whose father left her, a school girl that was given up by her mom, passed on to her grandparents, then on to her aunt and uncle.  She also spent time in an orphanage.   I, being na├»ve and young myself expected her to be mother of the year.

I do not remember her telling me any of this.  I heard it in pieces from my father or her mother.  She never made excuses.  She never ever put down my father, even though years later I found out she could have very easily.  My father, who I adore, did not deserve that pedestal I put him on.  He played just as big a part of her leaving as she did.  She carried all the blame and never once complained. 

God worked in my heart and one day I was able to drop the anger I had been carrying.  Forgiving is so freeing, because the not forgiving someone really affects you way more than it does them.  It creates a void between you and the Father.  How could I keep holding on to her wrongs, when He had so easily threw mine away?  Mark 11:25 ESV “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Forgiveness caused me to open my eyes to someone other than myself. 
I now see my mom in a whole new light.  She is the one that is always there for the birth of my children. 
She is always ready to come stay when we need to go out of town.  She never ever oversteps her bounds as a mom or a mother in law.  She never gives me parenting advice.  This is something I really respect, because the devil could really use this to trip me up.  She always takes care of the sock basket.  I despise matching socks, so we save them all in a basket for when grandma comes.  I really love the new trend of mismatched socks that all the kids are into now.  I love our sushi visits or horrible movie trips.  We have a nack for picking the worst movies together!  I love our photo booth trips.   She is also the person God used to save my life a few years ago.

She called one day before we left NC and asked if she could visit for a few days.  It was very unlike her to be so spontaneous.  We loved having her, so we said of course.  I ended up having horrible back pains the day she came.  I was not too concerned, because I had done some major moving of stuff to prepare for the packers.  It got worse and we ended up going to the hospital later that night.  Military hospital said I had a kidney infection, gave me antibiotics, and sent me home.  The next day my husband was gone for the day and my mom & 3 yr old Lulu were there.  I got progressively worse.  I kept fainting when I got up, my lips were turning grey, my temp was dropping, and I could not stay lucid.  My mom called Joel to take me to the hospital (civilian).  He came home and rushed me to the ER.  They could not get my blood pressure.  Long story short, my organs were starting to shut down.  My blood had gone septic.  If my mom would not have been there that day, I would not be here today.  I will forever be grateful to her, for being there when I needed her most. 

She is an amazing woman.  I am so thankful that God helped me take the plank out of my eye so that I could see her more clearly.   To see her the way He sees her, as a one of His children.   

Forgiveness is freeing.   You should try it!   

Friday, May 25, 2012

She Knows What I Need

Ethan Pope has some sweet word for his mom, Robin.

Mom is always there when I need help in really anything; if I just need to talk, or if I need moral support, or financial support, or just a friendly and loving presence. She always knows when I need that kind of help too. Take one time recently for example, I was feeling kind of down and lonely at the house and Mom surprised me by coming home and taking me out to lunch at Chik-fil-a. It was a simple gesture but it brought my mood up worlds above where it was, especially being able to just sit down and talk with her; she always has godly words of wisdoms from her experience in both life and through Christ.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bringing Baby Home

God is our help and our strength, a very present help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1

The nurse helped us get the baby seat in the car and we left the hospital a family of three.  We posed joyfully by the front door with our newborn son, Evan, and went in to begin our lives as parents.  Then the fun began.

No one told me about the awesome weight of responsibility of raising a child....or maybe they had and I was caught up in the euphoria of pending motherhood and I glossed over that bit.  I think I was more focused on getting the nursery ready and hanging up sweet little outfits to worry much over whether I would be able to cope.  I probably should have payed better attention.

A strange thing began to happen.  Every evening about 4pm, I would start a slow rise to panic.  I had trouble focusing on the tasks at hand, my breathing was a bit more rapid, and I couldn't seem to calm myself.  I tried a hot cup of tea, breathing exercises, mental pep talks, but not much helped.  Day after day this strange feeling would grip me and by the time my husband got home from work, I was a tense mess and he noticed the shaky ground on which I stood.

One day he said to me, "What's wrong that you can't settle down?  Why are you so tense?"  In a rush then, it all came out.  I was a miserable wretch of a mother. I was not going to be able to care for Evan as I should and I knew he would cry in the night and I wouldn't hear him.  I was sure he would stop breathing and again, I would be unaware and he would die.  The tears poured from my eyes as I told my dear husband of my fears and I stood in front of him sure he recognized me now for the fraud I was.  I was not enough.

He gathered me in his arms and said these words.  "You are not alone.  I am here to help you."  The relief that flooded over me at that point was incredible.  To this day, 21 years later, I still remember it and the peace that came from knowing John had my back.

God our Father tells us we are not alone.  He says that nothing is too much for Him to handle and for us to bring our cares to Him because He cares for us.  Whatever we are going through, He's got our backs and we can rest.  Psalm 121:4 says, indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  We can rest knowing the God of the universe is on call and will be our source of strength when we can't do anymore.

What are you worried about today?  Is it your job (or lack of a job)?  Is it your children?  Maybe you're worried about your health and test results that are pending.  Maybe you've been piling so much on your own shoulders that you are reaching the place of panic.  Allow our Father to put his arms around you and listen to Him when he whispers to you, "You are not alone.  I am here to help you."  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Loving Mommy

DJ Leffin is helping his little girls write for their Mommy.

Mommy do you know how much I love. I wanted to fill your bucket so I am helping the church honor you. I really like it when we play in the garden in the back yard. I like to help. Karis isn't very good at it yet but that's OK because you can teach her. It's fun when Karis and I get to stand on the window with Daddy and say good bye to you in the morning, but I really like it when you come back home again at night because I really love you and we play Sparkle Girl and I just really really love that. I love you to the moon and back.


Mama...glabble bacca dropple. Blaggle blabble koo. Mama stroogle toog blaggle. Bye bye love you.


Monday, May 21, 2012

After Heartache, Learning to Laugh Again

Brittany Merriman Floyd is our writer today.

Mother’s Day has taken on a whole new meaning to me now that I myself, am a mom.  Growing up I was always very close with my mom, she has taught me so much about so many things. We are so close in fact that often we are mistaken as sisters! I know she will giggle as she reads this because to her this is one of her most cherished compliments, but to me I think, “Wait a minute, how old do you think I am?”  She’s taught me how to love, how to laugh and how to stand up for and believe in myself. She has always been there for me, no matter how much I had felt like I had failed or felt like giving up. We have a special bond, one that at many times has been tested. Through it all though, we’ve managed to become even closer.

 I’ll never forget the times where I’ve felt like no one could possibly ever love me. I had a child as a teenager and married and divorced as a teenager but through my heart break and, as I’m sure you can only imagine, her heart break my mom was with me, loving me when I thought no one could. Her unconditional love is truly one of things I admire most in my mom. Her ability to assess the situation, stay strong and calm through the storm is truly amazing to me. She built me back up after those trying times in my life and taught me how to love and to laugh again. Her model through those circumstances of what a wife and mom should be has made into the mom and wife that I am today. I don’t think it would ever be possible to thank her enough for all she’s done for me.  Thank you mom!

I couldn’t possibly end my post without sharing a funny thought, since after all we are talking about Mother’s Day and I truly have one of the best and most fun moms in town. So I’ll close with a picture. As a kid my mom and I would often be caught in front of a mirror making silly faces at each other. Yes, you can still catch us doing this today! On one occasion we just happened to be in front of a camera…!
I love you mom and Happy Mother’s Day!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Honoring a Friend

I'm stepping away from the mom topic for today.  My heart is elsewhere so I'm going to write a bit about it.

Today I received news that a childhood friend had lost his very brave battle with cancer.  His name was Kenny and he was one of the few people in my life that I remember with no negatives.  He was funny and charming, loved to laugh and make others laugh and he was so kind.  He sat behind me in 10th grade geometry and when I felt like giving in, he would cheer me up by showing me his grades which were often challenging mine for lowest in the class.  He never let it get him down and he spurred me on to try harder.

There was a time when he and I had to pick up a few German exchange students from Dulles....or so we thought.  We arrived at Dulles only to find that we were at the wrong airport and had to go to National.  I was a scared baby because that meant we had to go to DC! We were small town kids from Southern Virginia! Oh, the horrors!  Kenny never wavered.  He started driving and soon we were in crazy traffic and zooming down the parkway.  He was as cool as a cucumber and so I decided I would not tell him how petrified I was.  His courage and determination gave me courage.

We were blessed to be part of a group who spent 5 weeks in Europe and the adventures we had were made even better by the funny antics Kenny and the boys would get up to.  At Lake Lungern in Switzerland, we walked from our hostel to the edge of the lake and the boys challenged each other....and the dive into that frigid water.  We girls managed to wade in as far as our shins, but for Kenny that wasn't enough.  With a big yell, he dove right in, the others following, and came bursting out of that water with another yell that echoed around the mountains.  Two local fisherman floating in a boat out a little ways, applauded and called their congratulations.  Apparently, they were unaccustomed to seeing people actually swimming in water that had come straight from the Alps!  Looking a challenge in the face and doing his best to overcome it, Kenny taught me to persevere.

My heart is heavy for Kenny's family and for this road they must walk.  It won't be easy and there will be days they feel like giving in, but I'm sure that living with him as husband and father, they have learned what I learned from him so many years ago.  Don't let it get you down, try harder, be determined, be courageous, and lessons from a wonderful man.

Kenny, you will be missed.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mom, Daughter, Granddaughter

Kay and Joy
Joy Kelly and Kristy Lamper are our writers today.

My Mom, Kay Ham, is a BEAUTIFUL blessing!  I am so thankful God made her my Mom.  Not only is she a great Mom but a wonderful Grandma to my girls and an amazing GeeGee to her great grandkids!!!  She is still ALWAYS willing to help out even being 81 years old.  Truly she is one of my best friends.  She's beautiful inside and out!!  I can call her anytime of day.  She listens with her heart and is always there when I need her.  Whether on a mission to help my brother or just girls out having fun, she makes me laugh.  She has made my life richer because she is in it.  She is a wonderful inspiration to me.  And I hope when I get to her age the remembrance of her beautiful legacy will live on.  Happy Mother's Day MOM!!!  Love, Joy 

Katie, Joy, Kristy and Roger:)

" On this Mother's Day, I want YOU to know how much it means to not only be able to call YOU my Mom... but to also call YOU my best friend. I love sharing life with YOU. Our everyday talks, our laughter, our struggles, our victories... all made more special because of YOU. God gave me an incredible gift of relationship with YOU and the best part just keeps getting better!! I love YOU MOM... Happy Mother's Day to YOU!!!" ~ Kristy

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Part Of My Heart

Today's post is for Consuelo and Luz Prada by their dear niece, Adriana.

I am 100% convinced that you don't need to have children (biologically or adopted) to be a mom and my two aunts are living proof of that.  Even though they have never had any children of their own I consider them to be amazing mother figures my life.  They epitomize Galatians 5:22-23 because their love and dedication show me what it means to be a woman of faith and be filled with the Spirit! They have been through many difficult situations and I just admire how resilient they are and how in spite of what they have been through they continue to strengthen their relationship with Christ because they live their lives knowing that they serve a God of purpose. 

Adriana and Aunt Luz (Tia Nikia)
Back in October 2004 when I got pregnant with my first born everyone thought that my life was over; and more importantly that I was never going to finish school.  Even though my family was devastated they continued supporting me; my aunts would always be willing to watch my girls so I could study, they even helped me pay for books when I didn't have money for them. Fast-forward 8 years and I stand with them at my College Graduation.  I can honestly say I have no idea where I would be if it wasn't for their amazing influence in my life so I have some special words for them:

To my Aunt Luz (Tia Nikia) I love you so much, more that I could ever express in words! YOU are an incredible woman of faith because you allow the negative things that happen in your life to not tear you away from God but to bring you closer to Him. I am so thankful for you and everything you do for me! Samantha and Leah love you so much and I feel so honored and blessed that my daughters get to have to opportunity to be influenced by you!

Aunt Consuelo (Tia Coti) and Adriana
To my Aunt Consuelo (Tia Coti) I love you with all of my life! I have never met someone who loves God and loves people as much as you do. I can't imagine my life without you because you are part of my heart! From the moment we meet (almost 28 years ago) we have had such a special bond that goes beyond aunt and niece but transcends into friendship. We laugh together, we cry together, we fight together but most importantly we love the Lord together and I am so grateful for your spiritual influence!  

So to both of my beautiful aunts THANK YOU and HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Remarkable Woman

Today's post is written by Kristina Willis Lama, Zach Willis and Julianna Willis.  

Maria and Kristina
From Kristina........
"Mom, thank you so much for being here for me during my pregnancy. I can't wait until Madison is here so she can see what an awesome grandma she has! I love you and happy Mother’s Day

Zach and Maria

From Zach......
My mom. Wow, where do I even begin? Haha, my mom is, in my mind, the ideal mother. In no way could I change anything about her to make her a better mom than what she's been for my sisters and I throughout my childhood and even still today. One of her most noticeable traits as a mom has been her dedication to mine and my sisters' activities, academics, and our lives in general over the years. She has always been there at almost every sporting event of mine, always pushed me to achieve academic excellence, and instilled in me the morals that every boy should acquire to become a mature man as well as a gentlemen. All of the good qualities that one may attribute to me I do not accredit to my own doing, but to her and the life lessons she has given me. Among all of that, the greatest teachings she has given my sisters and I have been on the importance of a God-centered life and she has lived a perfect example of that while raising us. 

 From Julianna......
Julianna and Maria
One of the reasons that I know that I am incredibly, constantly, incomparably loved by our Lord is His gift of making Maria Willis my mother. 

She has always been there for me. Not only at my countless sports games or play practices, but even during my struggles, trials, and mistakes. She doesn't think twice when she stays up until the early hours of the morning to catch up with me when I've had a busy day or just talk through things with me. And she has taught me to always look to the Lord, look in His word, and remember the amazing promises that He has made. 

She makes me feel dearly loved and missed when I am not there to see her, and she makes me feel treasured and prized when she makes the long drive to visit me. 

She is the example of a godly woman. She has shown me what giving with a joyful heart looks life; she has shown me what a Proverbs 31 woman looks like; and she has shown me that our lives can do amazing things for the glory of the Lord, if we give Him that authority in our lives.

She is a remarkable woman and words cannot express my gratitude for having her as my mother. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Beautiful Inside and Out

Kathleen Corder writes about her mother, Vicki.

The past year has been one big roller coaster for our family. My mom lost two of the people she loves most in the world. I remember back in September right before things started going downhill that I knew my mom always had it all under control. I was amazed at the way she took such good care of my grandma and my dad! I've always had such a comfort knowing that I was learning some pretty important life lessons from such an amazing woman who I would one day grow up to be like. I always want to find something to do for my mom to let her know she's always loved and appreciated, but I always find the gifts keep pouring out of her through her love and care for not only my siblings and me, but for everyone around her. 

People always knew my dad as such a giving and caring man and everyone loved him very much. But even as he is gone now I still see all of those traits in my mom. She may not see it in herself but her beauty shows not only on the outside, but on the inside in every way. The thing I love most about my mom is her unending love for God. Through every struggle she seems to never give up on Him and I admire that more than anything. This Mother's Day I want to honor my mom. Her strength is incredible and I hope one day I can learn from her in everything she does. 

She Will Drop Anything For Me

It took me a while to sit down and write this ... I mean, when Jeanne Whitman is your mom where exactly do you start?  I could say that my mom is selfless, but that would be a drastic understatement.  I could say that my mom has a servants heart, but that doesn't even scratch the surface!  I could tell you that my mom will do ANYTHING for ANYONE at ANY TIME, and you couldn't possibly understand how true that statement really is.  She quite literally never has her own interests in mind, and never asks for or expects anything in return for what she does.  That's just my mom :-)
I can remember the week I got married and was getting ready to move out of the house.  I suddenly got this feeling in my gut and thought ... what am I going to do now??  Who is going to take care of me when I'm sick?  Okay, if I wake up with the flu Joe is supposed to know what to do?  She was the kind of mom growing up that if you woke up with a tummy bug in the middle of the night, it was like she was already waiting up for you.  Bowl and washcloth in hand, ready to take care of you like only a mom could :-)  She would drop everything to bring your forgotten homework to you at school.  She might even let you stay at home "sick" every once in a while because you forgot to study for that big test ;-)  She was as involved as a mom very well could be, and always believed the best in all four of us (even when we didn't deserve it).   I really could go on and on ... but I have to send this!!
Mom, I love you SO VERY MUCH and I am so thankful that (according to my siblings) you chose to adopt me from that trash can in Africa ;-)  You're the best mom a girl could ask for ... Thank you mom - I love you!!

Deciding what to write in this post about my mom has been somewhat challenging.  There are too many things that I love about her to write in one blog J

My mom is Jeanne Whitman, who many of you know.  And, as many of you also know, she’s pretty darn awesome.  I’ve had the great joy of having her as my mom and wouldn’t trade her for the world.  I know God gave her to me for a special reason, the same reasons he made me a mom of two precious girls.  She taught me many things growing up – one of my earliest recollections was the difference between “screaming” and “SCREAMING!!!” (lol, I know she’ll laugh when she sees that!) I have already used that one on mine when accused of screaming J.

I was privileged to grow up in a very loving, Christian home – with parents who love God and love each other, and love their family.  When asked what I am most thankful for in my life, that is my response – I can’t imagine growing up and not knowing that Jesus died on the cross for ME, what a privilege.

My mom is one of the most amazing women that I know – and not just because she’s my mom.  I talk to her every day and sometimes more than once.  She knows everything about me (sometimes too much…) I can tell her anything and not be judged – although I will still get a “motherly” talk out of it (which I wouldn’t trade).  I know that I sometimes take for granted that she is here and I can talk to her anytime I want and see her anytime I want.  I know friends that rarely get to see their mom’s and I find it a privilege to have her so close.  She’s awesome for a multitude of reasons – she’s ALWAYS there for me, no matter what she’s doing or where she is – she’d drop anything she was doing if I needed her.  And, the more amazing thing is that she does it for anyone, not just me.  She was and still is everything a mom should be, love and grace.  And, many times showing grace when I don’t think I deserved it J.

Winner Of Our 2nd Giveaway!!

We had lots of folks commenting on the blog this last week, but the name drawn from the pot is none other than Karen Emkes.  She is the winner of the muffin cookbook and with three little boys, I'm sure it will come in handy.  Congratulations to you, Karen!!  

Our next giveaway is the book by Mary Beth Chapman, Choosing to See.  (Synopsis)Grief is a journey many of us take at one time or another. For the Chapman family their journey began with the accidental death of their 5 year old daughter, Maria Sue, whom they adopted from China. In Choosing to SEE, Mary Beth Chapman shares her struggles with the tragic loss of Maria Sue, her journey to heal, and the unexpected path God has placed her on. Even as difficult as life can be, Mary Beth and the Chapmans choose to see with faith and hope. 

Write your comments on the blog and we'll have a drawing next Monday morning.

God bless on this rainy Monday.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Best Friend

 Hannah Montgomery shares her thoughts on her mother, Terri Perdue.

Many times in my life I have thought about how much I would love to have a “Best Friend.” You know, that friend you’ve known for ages. The one that knows everything about you and has been with you through the ups and downs. The one you know you will never lose touch with because you are so connected and close that the idea of ever not being friends is just heart breaking. I mean, I have had some great friends at different times in my life. But none that I feel I have stayed connected with because of different paths that life took us on.
It seems to be something that always bothers me. I want it so bad! I search for it… I try to change to make it happen… I get upset when I find that this just isn’t the right person to label “Best Friend.” I mean, they are not easy to find! I got married right out of school instead of going to college so I lost touch with those school friends. I married someone a bit older than me so finding the right age group to hang out with is hard. Then I had a baby so that made me even older (though having a child does help you to connect with other young moms J who I hope will become those forever friends!) 
How exhausting to work so hard at finding a “Best Friend!” Then I got to thinking about those qualities in a best friend… Loving, always there for you, fun to hang out with, trustworthy, a shoulder to cry on, common interests, honest, supportive, accepting, etc. Now, who in my life has those qualities… wait… sounds familiar… I know there is someone…
Oh yeah! My MOM!
That’s one of those moments where you feel so stupid and you smack yourself in the head. How silly to have been searching for so long and trying so hard when it was right in front of me all along! I could find no better person to label “Best Friend” then my mother. She fits every requirement and then some! You may say, well she is your mom… she is kind of obligated to love you. Not true! There are people out there who do not have the kind of relationship with their mom that I do. People that may not have a relationship with their mom at all. She didn’t really choose me as a daughter…God did that for her… but she did choose to be my friend.
When I go shopping the first person I want to go with is mom. Hair cut, doctor’s appointment, weekend away, movies… my mom. The first person I call when I don’t feel good or I have a question about something Alexis is doing… my mom. The first person I go to when I am upset and really just need to vent and let out frustration… my mom. The first person to give me wisdom when there is a hard choice to be made… my mom. The one who makes me mad sometimes by letting me make mistakes and learn the hard way… my mom. The one I yell at, disrespect and hurt who quickly accepts the apology and moves on… my mom.
I have always known that my mom and I are close. But I did not truly understand a mother’s love until I had Alexis. To finally understand that my mom loves me that much is insane. I did not know that type of love was possible until I could feel it for my own daughter. It’s refreshing and spectacular and scary and exhausting all at once! I feel blessed to have a mother who has that love for me and who has chosen to be not only an amazing mother but a Best Friend as well. I just hope that I can follow her example when raising Alexis and any other future children there may be.
Mom, I love you so much and I thank you for making the choice to have me… to love me… to take care of me… to show me how to be a wife and a mother… and to be my best friend.

Happy Mother’s Day, Best Friend! J

Life Lessons

Daniel Porter writes about his mom, Hyechong.

 My mother is one of the two most influential people in my life. She is always there for me whether I want it or not and sticks by my side when I'm starting to fall down. 
She is an awesome cook, cooking dishes from all over the world: anywhere from Korean dishes to Mexican dishes, and the occasional American dish. 
As well, she is easily one of the most knowledgeable people when it comes to the handling of kids. I have learned all that I know from her and more and still there is more that she knows. It really helps know that my sister Hannah and I are going to be heading the teaching of Sunday School rather than them. 
A nice thing, though, is that she knows how to be strict with us when necessary and won't let us off easily. A lot of my life lessons have been taught by her and I continue to follow them to this day. 
My mother is just a great person and I am so lucky that God has blessed me with a kind and loving mother like her.

Sharing Funny Moments

Nicole Smith writes about her mother, Elaine.

My mom and I have a relationship that most teenagers wouldn’t even think of having with their mothers. When we are together, it is a guaranteed great time whether it’s jammin’ to Christian music or laughing until we start crying. I don’t know where I’d be without her. Sure, we both have our blonde moments, but that’s what makes our relationship so great!
As an example, one night after I was watching a Washington Redskins game at my grandparent’s house, I rode home with my mom and started discussing this catch that Anthony Armstrong made for a game winning touchdown. I said, “Man, I don’t know how Armstrong caught that ball!” Without any hesitation, my mom says, “Because he’s arm, strong!” Something as simple as that brought tears to my eyes from laughing. This is just one of many stories that show why I love my mom so very much!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Final Words

I learned the sign for the word "independent" yesterday from my friend Karen Emkes.  She was using it in regards to her youngest, Micah, but I filed it away in my mind for myself.  I was born an independent little thing and it proved to be somewhat of a wedge between my mother and me.  She had longed for a little girl to spoil and dress in frilly things, and what she got was me.  Don't touch me, let me play in the dirt, and I'm perfectly fine on my own.  Broke her heart, I think.  But, she forged on and throughout my life we battled over her desire to hug and contain and my desire to do my own thing....go my own way.  We loved each other, but it wasn't always pretty....there were intense moments of angry voices, tears, and it was often a sheer battle of wills, but still we loved each other.

Two years ago, my mother passed away at the age of 87.  She had been quite healthy her entire life, but cancer  is that awful thief that creeps into the bodies of our loved ones and snatches the life from them.  She fought a good fight, but it was not meant for her to live longer, and the Lord called her home.  She had been unconscious for days as we sat by her bed stroking her hands and wetting her lips, singing her favorite hymns and waiting for the inevitable.  She died on a Monday, but that last Sunday was God's gift to me.

For a few months, Mom had been out of her head, talking all sorts of rambling thoughts and not recognizing us. She had wild moments where she imagined herself somewhere else and nothing would calm her, no words would soothe.  Her last full day on earth was different. She woke up and knew people.  My niece Erica had spent the night by her side and when we arrived in the morning, Mom was awake and the two of them were deep in "conversation", Erica talking and mom doing her best to talk back.  Amazed is the only way to describe how we felt as she stayed awake for the day.  Her 94 year old sister came and they sang hymns bittersweet to see Aunt Irby, the older one, saying goodbye to her baby sister.

I made my way over to Mom.  She had not known me for months, not really.  I leaned over her bed, wet her lips and gazed down on the woman I had battled over the years...the one who had longed for hugs and got  Miss Independent instead.  With her filmy eyes, she looked up at me, and said, "Paula, I love you!"   SHE KNEW ME and at the end of her days, her very last full day, she told me in those 4 words what had always been in her heart.

I miss my mother with everything that is in me.  I would love to sit on the porch swing with her and let her hold my hand...the one thing she often wanted to do, but the one thing that was so hard for me to let her do.  I would love to apologize for the many times I spoke angry words to her, but you know something?  She told me with her dying words how she felt.....She Loves Me.....and I know all is forgiven.

If you still have your mother, hug her today and tomorrow and every day she is with you.  Hold her hand and let her play with your hair.  Give her the time she desires and treasure up the moments while you can.  Don't wait, please don't wait.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Travel Buddies

In some ways my mom and I are very different from each other. She has blue eyes and blond hair (well, it used to be blond… now it’s more… um, never mind). I have brown hair and hazel eyes. She, obviously, got married and had a child. I’m trying to avoid both. She doesn’t really like my cat (though she tries hard and pretends well, which is one reason I love her). I think my cat is pretty cool. She can’t be sarcastic to save her life. Sarcasm is my main form of communication – if we ever blog about fathers, I can talk more about that.

However, in other ways, my mom and I are pretty similar, sharing much more between us than a few strands of DNA. We were born in the same month. We can both be very shy with people we don’t know. We have similar tastes in music and movies and television. We both love to read and take pictures.

When I was young, my mom did what all great moms do – loved me and took care of me. How moms do that for their children varies, so my mom probably did things differently than your mom, but they worked for us. Now that I’m older, she still loves me and takes care of me, it’s just different. Now she’s still “mom” when I need “mom,” but she’s also one of my best friends. I know some mothers and daughters can have difficult relationships with each other, but I think my mom and I are lucky in that those differences and similarities somehow mesh well and have allowed us to enjoy being together.

I could list a thousand things that I love about my mom and our relationship, but to spare you, I want to focus on specific thing that I think helped define our relationship when I was younger and continues to grow our relationship now: our Mother/Daughter Trips.

I can’t remember exactly when they started – I think I was about 10 – but since then, every year my mom and I go on a trip together. Depending on financial situations and availability, sometimes it’s a quick weekend at Hershey or Shenandoah, and other times we’ve splurged for a longer trip like a week in South Dakota. These trips started as an opportunity for mom and I to spend quality time together, have “the talk,” discuss things that girls need to know about growing up and being godly women, my attitude problems, or just anything else that came to mind. Sometimes it was awkward, but it really showed my mom’s love for me. And adding in a cool roller coaster or something helped ease the pain. As I’ve gotten older, we still talk. We have discussions about problems and struggles or goals and ideas... my attitude problems... or just the nice scenery we’re passing.  But we talk more as equals now. It’s like the discussions I have with my friends, but with little motherly touches, which is good; just because we're more like friends now, doesn't mean I'd ever want her to stop being my mom.

For each trip we took, my mom would search and find a charm to buy. On my 30th birthday, she gave them to me. The original plan was to put them all on charm bracelet as a reminder of our trips together, but I don’t really wear jewelry, so we’re looking for some way to make a nice display with them, so I can always be reminded of the times we had together on those trips. Just opening the present, I took each charm out and one-by-one we remembered each trip.

This isn’t to say that going on vacation together is the only way to spend time together. We also go shopping together, hang out with friends, or even just watch TV. Sometimes she shows up at my door just to give me a hug after I’ve had a horrible day. But I think these trips have helped us forge a special bond with each other, and I thank God that she took the time and energy to do them with me.

And by the way, this year’s trip is Tennessee! Woohoo!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Always Around

Mystique Ro loves how her mother Nicole is there when she needs her.

My mother is always around just at the moment I need her

she watched me get hosed down by my brothers on the deck
she marveled at me as I flipped a bike over my head and crashed on the pavement
she bandaged my elbow when I scraped it on the sidewalk
she made soup for me when I got my braces and couldn't chew

My mother is always around at the moment I need her

she laughed with me when we saw funny videos
she hugged me when I was feeling really low
she talked to me when I needed wise words
she encouraged me when I doubted myself.

My mother is always around at the moment I need her because she always supported me 
when I felt like I was alone, and she always will.

Adoptive Love

        Being a mom involves your whole heart.  Our children are among the most precious gifts that God has given to us .   We love our kids with all we have and with that love comes sacrifice and vulnerability.   Adopting mommies are no exception.   God grows a love in our hearts for children who were not born from us, but capture our whole hearts just the same.  At the beginning it is just the idea of them that we love.  And then we get to that spectacular, long awaited moment where we receive a picture and a description of that special one who is to be ours.  A moment that takes our breath away and that we will never forget.   Then a truly agonizing wait begins as we are forced to watch this beautiful child,  OUR beautiful child,  grow and hit milestones from afar as we work and wait for the day when we get to take them in our arms forever and bring them home.
 A dear friend and a wonderful mommy in our church, Jennifer Blaschke, is experiencing this right now.  She is to be the mommy of 4 soon.  3 are home but 1 is very far away.  A sweet baby boy in Uganda is waiting for his mommy to come and take him home.    And his mommy is waiting, waiting, her heart so full and ready, to go and get him.

The Blaschke family is having a fundraiser this Saturday, May 12th, at the Chick-fil-A on Rt. 28 (Sowder Village Square next to Red Robin and Target) to help raise money for their adoption process.   From 7:30am - 2pm there will be a large yard sale in the parking lot with all kinds of great items available.  You can also help by eating inside from 11-2 and they will get a portion of the proceeds if you grab a coupon flyer on the counter and give it to the cashier.   Please come out and help support this awesome family!!  This Mother's Day weekend every one of us can be a part of this beautiful story that God is writing.