I'm not her

Just a personal sharing from a difficult space that I'll leave here.

I've spent so much time crafting a life. But now pieces of it, great and small have changed, some have grown into new things and others have fallen away and I look at it and it's so strange to me. I recognize it still. It's familiar in the way you recognize landmarks from your hometown but the hometown is otherwise unrecognizable. It has all the same players, all the same love and everyone else seems completely unaware that everything is different.

I feel a bit like the Pevensie children. As if for 25 years I've been on an incredible magical journey through a wardrobe and now without meaning to I have landed myself right back where I began and life is plain and ordinary. How can that be, I'm not her?

They remember the adventure just as I do, as the most wonderful of times, but they seem to be adjusting just fine to the new normal. They run towards it. Not me. "Yeah, yeah, I'm coming, I'll get there."

I know the healthy perspective is one where I look with excitement toward the future and new adventures and place the past in it's proper perspective. I get it. I could give the appropriate advice to someone saying this and yet that same advice hits a wall and splats unceremoniously to the ground when I try it on my own thoughts.

Our life as a family, homeschooling, traveling and raising children was the very best season of my life. So much better than my childhood, infinitely better than high school and teen years. It was so good, so very good. Reaching a new season, a new chapter whatever you want to call it, has me feeling like, "but why does it have to end?" The minivan mom, going three different directions with supper in the crock pot was the best, but I have to admit now, I'm not her anymore.

Why does it have to end? I get biology. People grow up. It's not a literal question but a philosophical one, and emotional one and it begs the follow up question, what now?

People say it's my time now, but it's not. It's the weirdest of stages. It's not my time at all. I can't do whatever I want yet. I'm needed as much or more as I ever was before, with one married kiddo, one wedding to plan and teenager. It's all the work without the magic of sleeping babies in my arms. It's all the long days without snuggling with a toddler for a nap. It's learning and working without the magnificent discoveries of learning to tie a shoe, or read, or add. It's all work and no play. There is still great joy in this time but it's spaced so differently. It's fleeting and I can't hold it in my hands anymore.

I'm having no small identity crisis I do not mind telling you. Before some feminist interjects that I need a job <rolling my eyes>. I have them, and always have. I have started and operated businesses for years working from home while I raised my family. I have worked and earned and I've always, only done work I was passionate about so step off that argument, it ain't that. Work is never, could never be fulfilling enough, it could never compare to being with those little people all day. It could never compare to the bliss I found in the work of my heart. Sure, I run a wonderful business now alongside my daughter, which I love and that helps believe me, and it's work I enjoy and yet, as I turn in at night something is still missing.

So how do I fill up this time, how do I figure out who this version of me is now? Where do I find her?

Writing is something I love but I've always written about my life as mother, homeschooler, housewife. What is my story now? Do I even want to write about her?

I explored old interests. As if maybe I was meant to go back and pick up on interests I had let go of long ago to make room for more important work. But I don't want to sing in a band anymore and I don't feel like going dancing till 1 am, or playing sand volleyball, or arguing about politics over margaritas. I'm not her.

I have tried transitioning into things that seem to befit my new next stage of life. I should grow tomatoes. So I did this year and peppers. Call me O'uisa (Wheezer) I'm going to grow tomatoes and where a floppy hat now? I am trying flower gardening as well but this is not buttering my bread either, it's nice but how do I parlay that into a will to live? (Clary) I'm not that old and it's not that much fun. Sorry, I'm not her.

A new venture, a website, a new mission? blah. Decorating my house? Painting? blah and blah.

I'll cook new foods, eh. I took up running, ho hum. I volunteer and I like it very much but it barely moves the needle in my brain.

Nothing gives me the sense of purpose and joy that I've known raising my kids. How could anything really? Seriously I'd be really shocked if I gleaned as much personal fulfillment from my new coloring books that I found in caring for my children.

I got a puppy. It's a lot like having a toddler. He leaves a wake of destruction and he is constantly needing attention and even though he is pretty cute, it isn't the same. I thought maybe I could be one of those ladies my age who takes tons of pictures of her dog and calls him her furbaby and buys him presents and makes a Christmas stocking for him. I'm not her either.

Truth is, I expected to still be chasing little ones and I'm not. So is this just it? Is this what I do until I have grandkids? One is married and one is almost married so a few years from now I will be her, but who I am until then?

My husband and I love each other very much. We have a strong and happy marriage. We are exploring our city, dating and I do love it. He has a girl he loves, and I am still her :)

But the days which were once filled with flurries of activity and discovery and littered with pixie dust and magic and a little mayhem are gone.

I tremble with fear at the words I am about to write next.

I have lost my purpose.

And I don't know what to do exactly.

That's all I got right now.

It's okay to have a little Mary, with your Merry Christmas

I can't believe I spent the first half of my Christian journey without a relationship with my Heavenly Mother, Mary. Particularly when I reflect upon our relationship now and the love I feel from and with her.

This time of year, almost all Christians have a statue of her in their homes. I wish they knew the love of this amazing woman in all the other months of the year and kept, both she and the Good Saint Joseph in their homes as reminders to love Jesus, and to be good parents. I wish so much they knew her. She would never ever detract from her Son. She existed and devoted her entire life to Him. She leads us to Him, that is all she does, all she is.

Mary is the first person who knew who He was. Mary was the first disciple. Mary loved Him more than any other person who has ever existed, and who will ever exist, ever could, because she was His Mother.

I cannot think of the birth story without the Easter Story. I cannot because I see the the birth through Mary's eyes.

That popular song (which I don't care for - sorry) about Mary, did you know... um, yeah she knew. Did she know the exact how, the when, the specific why? No. But there is no doubt that she knew too well what awaited her Son. It began for her when an angel visited her and when her betrothed came with his own visitation. She knew who He was. It continued when she met her cousin Elizabeth and then she surely knew when she was only a few days post-partum, after having traveled so far to deliver in an outbuilding. She knew when he was 8 days old and Simeon told her what He was destined to do, and that He was the Messiah. She knew on the 12th days when the Magi arrived and told her that Herod was going to murder all the children under two in attempt to end Him. Yeah, she knew. She knew when he was teaching in the Temple as a child. She knew as she asked Him at Cana to begin His ministry, she knew who He was.

Remember the story of the woman who touched His robe and was healed? What do you think the impact of his body growing within your womb might have on you? Her blood flowed through his veins. He looked like her, he had only her DNA. She was chosen by God. It was Mary, or no one. She had the lineage. It was the appointed time and she said, "yes." She knew.

Oh I love her, for saying yes. She was the Ark of the New Covenant. I love her because He loved her. With all the love of a Son. With all the love of a Father. With all the love that the knowledge of His own fate would mean to her. Think of the compassion and love He had for her as He walked that walk?

In our relationship I relate to her as a mother. He was her son, her baby, and He was her God. How did she manage those two great loves? I struggle with them myself. Do I love God more than my children? She didn't have to chose, but she had to give Him up to suffering. How do you sacrifice your Son for the sake of the world? Christians who do not know her before or during Christ's life, know little about her after.

Where do you think the stories in the bible came from about His birth? Who else was there? Cana? Who remained at the Cross within Him? She was one of three. Who followed Him at every step as He walked carrying that Cross to Calvary? It was her. Mary loved her Son, the way I love my children. Sometimes I think my love for my children is really supernatural. The connection that I feel with them, is as real to me as air. I know Mary felt that devotion and love for Jesus as mother, as disciple. She gets me. She gets the love of a mother like no one else.

I know the disciples knew how special she was to Jesus. I know they loved her, respected her, honored her. I mean, imagine the Apostles or the His disciples uttering a dishonorable breath in her direction, His mother... didn't happen. It would have been a sin for Christ to not honor His mother, and He was without sin. Is it weird for Christ to honor someone? No. it's His Mother. And before you mention where He called her "woman" at Cana. It's a biblical reference to her as the New Eve. Eve brought the fall into the world and Mary brought redemption, He was referencing the New beginning which would start with this miracle she requested. Typology is a wonderful study and shines magnificent light on salvation history.

How did she do it? How did she let her Son go. How great is her Heart?

I am following a family on social media as their precious, beloved child is living his last days in his battle with cancer. I try to lift them up their infinite sorrow. I think of this mother daily. I pray for her. I ask Mary to pray for her and comfort her. Only mothers who have experienced this loss can know her suffering, and Mary knows.

Mary dedicated her entire life to Jesus. If you ever want to have theological discussion about whether she had other children I would be happy to share why I believe what the Church without wavering for 2000 years has always taught. What most Christians on the planet believe, she didn't. Jesus was her whole life. She lived under the care of the Apostle John until her death.

Christmas gives us so many marvelous moments to reflect upon. So much joy, peace, hope. My focus is not only on Mary of course, but it pleases Jesus that I love His mom too. It pleases Him that I get her and I think of her as my mother too. After all some of his last words on earth were about her, giving her to John to care for and to all of us to love.

The birth story is only the beginning of the Greatest Story Ever Told. As a woman, I hear it with the ears of Mary. Oh how I hope to love my children as she loved her Son. How I hope to have the faith of Mary. It's okay, it really is okay, to have a little Mary, with your Merry Christmas. God Bless.

Claim Your Christmas

My home is so quiet this morning. Steve has already left for the hospital and I've decided to let the kids sleep in to soak up a few extra minutes of the peaceful glow of my Christmas trees.

For a brief moment last night I found myself wishing Christmas would just get here and get over so I can get on it with so much I have on my plate.

We have a large production in less than three weeks, end of year accounting for the business, costumes do in 19 days. (It's actually a lot). I have rehearsals to schedule, scripts to get out and daily business to attend. Then there is next semester's homeschool planning that hasn't even begun.

Last night brought to a conclusion a weekend of visiting back in our hometown for Christmas. Returning from traveling, recovering from outrageous stress, late nights, going full speed for a few days put me in bed for the entirety of the day yesterday. I didn't feel completely wiped out but decided it was wiser to rest and recover than to push through and get back to work yesterday. Glad I did.

But as often happens when I am still, I am restless. The worries, the tasks, the to-do lists nagged and called to me and I thought, "Let's get Christmas over with, so I can get back to my life."

Even as that little thought was germinating in my weary brain, my soul cried no! My mind and my heart resisted it. How many more Christmases do we have? We never know. How many more with children at home? Those are definitely numbered. I love Christmas.

It is the work of the enemy of peace to want to rush past the celebration of the giver of peace. It is the work of the enemy trying to knit me to the stress and worries of this world that I might overlook the hope, love and joy of the life everlasting that came to earth to save me.

I felt that tug to be cynical. I feel it every year like everyone else.

The enemy cannot have my Christmas. He cannot have my joy. Sometimes joy is very hard to find, especially at this time of year for many, but it only means we must look harder.

You know the familiar phrase, 

Wise Men Still Seek Him

We are not journeying through deserts, warring nations, across seas and lands to find Him, avoiding bandits and political complexities like the Magi. The long tireless journey we undertake is within our own hearts and minds. Frankly for most of us, a thousand mile journey across a continent would probably be easier.

The enemy wants you to believe Christmas is at risk because of retailers not saying, "Merry Christmas" or an absence of decorations on a coffee cup. Do not be fooled. Christmas is at risk within your own heart, within your own home, your own family.

How do we resist an internal battle? How do we navigate all the baggage, all the worry, all the stress? Where is our Star to follow? The Church gives us Advent to prepare and help us. Following closely in the readings and the teachings helps a great deal. I wish I could say that was the simple answer - easy peasy. Problem solved. It's not.

Donating and giving to others is an important component for me. Keeping spending and obligations in check is important to keep the stress level to a manageable state. Mostly though, I have to fight back. The enemy uses every tool at his disposal to steal away my Christmas. It's a spiritual battle and if I don't fight, I'm surrendering. Mostly the battle is one of dialogue. The random thoughts that knock through your head aren't random at all. They are carefully orchestrated by the enemy of God to play on your fears, your guilt, your sorrow, your anxiety. They come in whispers and they inspire entire conversations that happen in your thoughts.

"Take captive your thoughts." 2 Corinthians 10:5

Say "No". Push back. 

I find myself saying yes it's stressful, it was stressful last year but I question it - was I still reeling from it Dec 29th? Jan. 5th? March 12th? No. It's temporary and it really doesn't matter at all. Everything comes out in the wash. I physically turn my eyes to things that refocus me. Making an extra visit to Church just to sit with Jesus a few minutes and "Adore Him". Having coffee and meditating on the birth as I look upon the Nativity under my tree. Recalling Christmases past as I touch ornaments on the tree placed by the people I love most in the world, and offering prayers of thanksgiving for them, helps.

Regrouping in the morning in this quiet space and walking forward in the day intentionally preparing to do what needs doing, helps. Making time and space for the King of the Kings, for Christmas magic, laughter, traditions, fun, surprises, helps. Filling up my soul and my brain with His good things, helps. Then like a miracle, a Star seems to appear in my heart and the path to Christmas is clear again.

We lose our way at Christmas. We do. We all do. It's okay. I don't know that the Magi didn't have to take a detour, here and there before getting back on course. Beating yourself up about it, is a battle the enemy wants to win. Feeling defeated because you can't find your Christmas spirit is a battle the enemy wants to win. Fight him, even if he wins a battle from time to time, do not allow him to win the war.

Reclaim your Christmas. It's yours, He came down from heaven and gave it to you. Do not allow anything to rob you of it. 

Christmas is hope. We were lost and then a baby was born, and He was the hope of the whole world. Guard your hope. Guard your Christmas.

Come Lord

I am more keenly aware this morning of challenge of time to my faith than perhaps I have ever been. The "wearing out of a soul" as Screwtape calls it, is the real challenge to our faith. The enemy seeks to "unravel" our souls. 

Time. Pressure. It builds mountains and it tears them down. 

My heart is weary, my body weak and tired. But my soul was knitted together by the King of Kings and His blood holds me together. When my heart is weary my only instinct is to fall upon my knees and wait for Him. He comes. He renews me and we go on.

Come Lord Jesus.

- an excerpt from Chapter 28 of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis 
(from Screwtape to Wormwood)

I know it seems strange that your chief aim at the moment should be the very same thing for which the patient's lover and his mother are praying - namely his bodily safety. But so it is; you should be guarding him like the apple of your eye. If he dies now, you lose him. If he survives the war, there is always hope. The Enemy has guarded him from you through the first great wave of temptations. But, if only he can be kept alive, you have time itself for your ally. The long, dull monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather. You see, it is so hard for these creatures to persevere. The routine of adversity, the gradual decay of youthful loves and youthful hopes, the quiet despair (hardly felt as pain) of ever overcoming the chronic temptations with which we have again and again defeated them, the drabness which we create in their lives and the inarticulate resentment with which we teach them to respond to it - all this provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul by attrition. If, on the other hand, the middle years prove prosperous, our position is even stronger. Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is "finding his place in it", while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home in earth which is just what we want. You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.

The truth is that the Enemy, having oddly destined these mere animals to life in His own eternal world, has guarded them pretty effectively from the danger of feeling at home anywhere else. That is why we must often wish long life to our patients; seventy years is not a day too much for the difficult task of unravelling their souls from Heaven and building up a firm attachment to the earth. While they are young we find them always shooting off at a tangent. Even if we contrive to keep them ignorant of explicit religion, the incalculable winds of fantasy and music and poetry - the mere face of a girl, the song of a bird, or the sight of a horizon - are always blowing our whole structure away. They will not apply themselves steadily to worldly advancement, prudent connections, and the policy of safety first. So inveterate is their appetite for Heaven that our best method, at this stage, of attaching them to earth is to make them believe that earth can be turned into Heaven at some future date by politics or eugenics or "science" or psychology, or what not. Real worldliness is a work of time - assisted, of course, by pride, for we teach them to describe the creeping death as good sense or Maturity or Experience. Experience, in the peculiar sense we teach them to give it, is, by the bye, a most useful word. A great human philosopher nearly let our secret out when he said that where Virtue is concerned "Experience is the mother of illusion"; but thanks to a change in Fashion, and also, of course, to the Historical Point of View, we have largely rendered his book innocuous.

How valuable time is to us may be gauged by the fact that the Enemy allows us so little of it. The majority of the human race dies in infancy; of the survivors, a good many die in youth. It is obvious that to Him human birth is important chiefly as the qualification for human death, and death solely as the gate to that other kind of life. We are allowed to work only on a selected minority of the race, for what humans call a "normal life" is the exception. Apparently He wants some - but only a very few - of the human animals with which He is peopling Heaven to have had the experience of resisting us through an earthly life of sixty or seventy years. Well, there is our opportunity. The smaller it is, the better we must use it. Whatever you do, keep your patient as safe as you possibly can,

Your affectionate uncle


A new hat

The wedding of my oldest son, Corey to his beautiful wife Logan, was the highlight of our year this past July. The day was perfect, the wedding and reception were lovely and went off without any hitches, aside of course from the "getting hitched".

The wedding was a celebration of life and love. It was a Sacrament celebrated in the heart of our parish and witnessed by family and friends. My cup was running over and spilling onto the floor!

So began a new chapter of my life, and a new hat, mother-in-law!

I've thought, even dreamed about the day I would become a mother-in-law. How would it be? What kind of relationship would we have? Would it be warm? Would it be loving? Would my daughters and son in laws trust me? confide in me? turn to me?

Oh I hope so. It's not necessary to call me mom (but I would welcome it of course) what matters is what defines the relationship, not the name we give it. I want mostly for them to know they are loved. Truly, deeply loved. And not only in a love that's a "feeling" sort of way but in the kind of love that is a verb. A love that is an action, a behavior.

I take you into my family and I'm a little like the Godfather. Seriously. Never take sides with anyone against the family! leave the gun, take the cannoli! We're going to the mattresses! She is one of my cubs now and I will protect her, defend, and love her, always.

Having been on the other side of this equation, I made some decisions very early on, before an engagement was even impending, before the right girl had even been given to us. I decided that it is my job to make her feel welcomed. It's my job to earn her trust, her confidence. It's our job as a family to open our family up to her. She will never have to stand at the door waiting to be accepted. She will never doubt her place, she will always know and will continue to embrace it over time I pray, that she is family. I know it takes time, but this is my commitment.

I take that word so seriously. It means more to me than DNA. In truth of the matter, DNA has often proven the least effective means of creating family in my experience. Family is who chooses to be part of your life. Who stands with you in the hurricane, who holds you when the diagnosis is bad, who you trust with all things. We have a big beautiful family, pieced together like a quilt. Not a seamless garment we were born into but a warm piece of art that God designed and we stitched together across time.

Words are weak and empty, actions, tell stories. My only prayer, my great hope is that my actions convey the joy, love and commitment in my heart to this precious new daughter of mine.

I will fail. I've told her that, but I will crawl on broken glass to apologize, repair and atone when I fail her. My love is bigger than my pride. My family is more important than being right. She has my permission to call me on that commitment.

My son, I am so proud of him. He is brave and strong and good. His potential is without limits. His heart is as kind and giving as they have ever been made and one day he will accept that he is just one of the good guys. He's funny, and quirky, and he has been with me longer than anyone else, except my own mother. I was just 19 when I had him and he was my everything then. My inspiration.

Seeing him standing before God making this covenant, I held my breath. I didn't cry at the ceremony, well a tear or two were certainly shed but I never lost it and sobbed as everyone feared! ha! Should've taken those bets!  Nope, I lost it about 173 times in the months leading up to the ceremony though. Lost it because time had gone too fast. Lost it because I felt like I had finished a marathon. Lost it because I wanted to go back just a little bit, for a visit to the time when he was just my little man, chattering my ear off, being my constant companion, and making me smile all day, everyday. Back to the time when I was his best friend, the funniest, prettiest girl he knew, and when he never wanted to be away from me. I'm so grateful, so honored to be his mother.

All the emotions were well worked through in advance of the ceremony, so it was pure joy for me. Imagine if I hadn't worked through all that! yikes. My false eyelashes would never had stood a chance!

Look at this family. I am the richest woman in the world. Oh and yeah, they're gorgeous!

A Time to Grieve

I have been lost at sea in a storm of grief for many weeks. My words will fail as I attempt to give these feelings a voice.

I have lost 6 children in pregnancy, given them life in heaven, or miscarried them, which is not my favorite way to describe it. I lost them. They were here and now they are there. They were with me and now they are with Him. The most recent this past spring.

For reasons I will never understand, the grief I experience in this loss is not understood by others. The ridiculous, insensitive and ignorant things people say in a failed attempt to relate after you lose a child in pregnancy, boggles the mind. The bizarre words, which I grant you, are probably offered in an effort to say something even if it's wrong to show compassion, are more often salt in a gaping open wound.

If you are attempting to comfort someone who has lost a child in pregnancy I recommend this litmus test. Would you say this to a woman who had lost a 2 yr old child? Probably not? Then don't say it. Relate to them in the same way you would relate to any woman who has lost a child. Don't say, "you can have another one" or "better now than later, when you were attached". Yeah, people say that and so much worse.

This is the month, according to social media for infant loss awareness.  It's a nice sentiment I suppose, I am aware of my loss everyday.

Most recently my life turned a page and I began a new chapter. My oldest son married in July to my everlasting joy. We celebrated and rejoiced at the celebration of this Sacrament. 2 months later my daughter received a proposal and was engaged. My youngest is 14 and so far as I know not getting married any time soon but these changes began to settle into my soul a couple months ago and the reality hit me very hard.

My nest is hardly empty, my daughter and youngest still live at home. My son and his wife are here every week and my childrens' friends are treasures, like children to me and here all the time. But there is so much missing still.

So much missing that I never ever talk about. So much grief and I cannot contain it another moment. I think, all the time, about how old my lost children would be. What they'd be doing, how they would look. Clare would have been a flower girl, John Paul a ring bearer, the older ones in the wedding. I always imagined I would be the mother planning a child's wedding and nursing a baby. That was the life I was prepared to live. I didn't come to that openness to life easily. It was very hard, then to have that not be the reality was like an unexpected ice bucket challenge, a challenge I'm afraid I am failing in.

I think of how blue their eyes would be, and how busy my home and life would be. I long for it sometimes. I shouldn't be at the end of this journey of parenting, I should be smack dab in the middle. That's where I want to be at least.

I love my life. I truly do. I'm plenty active, running a business, volunteering, my life is full of love and laughter. My marriage is strong and I am more deeply in love with my beloved than I could have dreamed. Yet, none of these truths diminish the love and loss of my other children.

As my attempts to grieve privately have been failing recently I've had to explain to my husband and children why I am melancholy, or why I am crying over my morning coffee. They have such compassion for me, and love. Their comfort is like cool water on a sunburn. And yet, they do not understand. They can't completely. Perhaps my daughter understands more than others as she prepares and contemplates marriage this reality of mine, tinges the corners of her mind and she can imagine my pain.

In my prayers this morning I played this song which equally breaks me and comforts me. It is called Little Light by Audrey Assaad. I imagine it is sang over many sleeping, precious babies in nurseries often. But I sing to my children in heaven, who are being entertained my angels and bringing light and joy to Christ every day.

I imagine what they look like and I long to be with them again.

For my children and my husband who will read this... I know how sad my grief makes you. I know how you are tortured to see me cry. I am so sorry. I promise I am okay. I am not depressed, and I will be fine. You know how much I love you. I have devoted every day of my life to your care, your upbringing, your happiness and your education. You, my family are my whole world. Nothing can separate this family as we are united in Christ for all time. I just miss your brothers and sisters. Imagine if I lost you? I would go on, I would have to, but the grief would never leave me, because it is rooted in the depths of my soul in the love we share. I grew you within me. You were mine before you were the worlds, you were God's before you were mine and so we are intimately, intricately connected, you, me and God. What I feel is great love and great loss. I wouldn't give up either of them.

Someday you will have your own children, and I pray you are the kind of parent that loves so deeply, so unconditionally, so powerfully and unabashedly that it changes your life. I hope it grows your heart a thousand times, and stretches you and fills you up the way it has me. There is no joy that will ever compare if you allow God to grow this heart of love for your children. The catch is, with that kind of love, loss is felt in an equal proportion. Such is life little ones, but it is good.

Mom is okay. I'm going to wash my face, start supper, finish the painting project in the garage, listen to music, curl my hair and watch a movie with you later. Life goes on. Love goes on. My heart goes on but I will always grieve in a place in my heart until we are all together again. And that is ok.

Thanks be to God, my husband and my children for making me a mother, it is the only thing in my life that endures, the only work that matters. It is the source of all my happiness and joy.


Unleash the mob (again)

When I first saw this story of the Litigating Auntie I thought immediately here they go again. The media spins facts and ignores the truth. Facts and the truth are not the same thing. Having worked as an agent with State Farm I knew the deal and that the headline was clickbait. 

This aunt, as you probably know was injured when her beloved nephew jumped on her at his birthday party and broke her wrist. She was injured - there were bills, lots of them for surgeries etc.

Most likely the parents turned it in on their homeowners insurance. The insurer may have paid some of the bills, or maybe not, but ultimately they offered $1 to compensate her.

When the company wouldn't pay she had two choices - sue the company or pay $150,000 in bills. You can't sue someone else's insurance company that's not how it works. You have to sure the person and the company has to defend them or pay. Since the father and (now deceased) mother didn't cause the injury and state law says they can't be held liable for the negligent actions of a minor child she had to sue him personally, and he was defended, as an insured resident of the home.

This happens a lot in fact. Often people want and expect their insurance to pay for injuries to friends or family on their property but the company refuses and they have to sue. Oftentimes the insured is very helpful in the case. It happens in vehicle accidents too when a passenger is injured.
The issue isn't the case for me. My problem is how this case got spun and this is why we MUST STOP this mob rule/ mob justice thing people do now on social media. They get a whiff of something and go to war, most of the time having only read the baiting headline!

I'm glad the full story has come out, but most people again will not bother to read the details, they'll just shrug it off as the family trying to protect her.
$150,000 in medical bills is no joke. That can ruin you. Hope this woman can move forward now.


Sleep, oh why Doth Thou Evade Thee

I'm sharing some thoughts for the mommies so entrenched in sleep concerns, battles and worries. I hope it is encouraging, it is meant to be. I see so many young moms struggling in this area.
Last night I was up twice. At one point I was up for about 30 minutes before I could fall asleep again.
My 14 yr old told me the other day he couldn't sleep at all the night before.
My 20 yr old daughter doesn't fall asleep until very late every night, since she was born.
My 25 yr old son is an early riser, every morning since he was born.
My mother hasn't had a solid 6-8 stretch of sleep in 34 yrs.
I share this because I'm afraid as moms we forget that babies are just little people. And people do not sleep the same way, every night. That's ok.
Think about you. Sometimes your brain is just too busy to fall asleep. Sometimes you're overtired. Sometimes your stomach is rumbling. Sometimes you want a midnight snack or drink. Sometimes you have a headache. Sometimes for no reason at all, you wake up and can't go back to sleep. Sometimes your clothes are itchy, sometimes, there's a sound you can't ignore or sometimes it's too quiet. Sometimes your nose is stuffy, or you have a little ache, sometimes you want a fan, sometimes you're cold. Sometimes you're hot.
Why do you not sleep perfectly? Are you not sleep trained? Of course you are, but you are also human and a hundred things effect us everyday and impact our sleep differently every day.
Babies are exactly the same only they have no way to tell you what it is that is waking them or bothering them. They can only cry for you to come and try to help.
If you have a baby who sleeps great, doesn't sleep great, was sleeping great then stopped sleeping great, it may or may not have anything to do with you. Cut yourself and your baby some slack.
I know sleep training is a thing now, and if it works for you, I encourage you to give it a go. As parents we try out lots of things to find a good fit. But if your baby isn't sleeping great it is NOT your failure. It's just not.
I had never even heard of sleep regression until this board. I suppose it's when a child was sleeping well and then doesn't for a spell? All my kids, my husband and myself experience sleep regression every month. One late movie, one night with pizza too late and it takes me a week or two to get back into a rhythm. Or a vacation, yikes.
What I'm saying is, moms, just relax. It's not you. You are NOT doing something wrong, there isn't anything wrong with your kid and you can't spoil a baby under age 1.
Things go along great until they don't. Then you regroup, try something else and keep going. This is parenting, whatever the issue, it's exactly like this.
I encourage you to give yourself a break on the sleep thing. Give your baby a break, he's just a little person with every single experience I mentioned above on any given day just like you.
You have kids, you knew when you started and you know even more now, sleep is an elusive companion. It will be for awhile but it gets better.
Be careful not to get buried on information overload. Books, techniques, and all of it can be great, I have some I love too. But sometimes we get so focused on the goals and taking in information, we forget to enjoy the journey. And this journey is so brief, so very brief. Don't miss it.
One last thing,
Comparison is the thief of joy.
It doesn't matter how your sister-in-law's baby sleeps. There are 10,000 factors that are completely different than your babies experience and yours. Don't allow yourself to succumb to the comparison game at this or any age with your child. It will rob of you of the joy that you are entitled to in these years.
Take what is useful, leave the rest. You are doing your very best, and that is good enough.

yeah, it's me, I'm back, but I'm not staying

Here I am again, in a familiar place.

I've been so restless for the last few weeks. I've been working too much, been doing too many things which are not my first things. Whenever I stray at all from my vocation too many things begin to feel disordered.

Many years ago I learned to recognize discontent for what it really is and to get to the heart of it. I don't blame anyone for it, least of all the man who loves me more than anything. I know that the discontent is God's way of trying to encourage to correct our course.

I worked this morning and after a morning that was sliding sideways fast, I regrouped, and refocused and put my shoulder to the plow of my real work. My husband, my home, my children, my faith, family and love. In a few hours I felt the fog lift and the world returned to a sharper focus.

Do you suppose drifting is necessary to appreciate more fully the distinction between the lifestyles? I really wish I could avoid it, I really do. Because I hate it. I hate feeling stressed and in the wrong place, even if it is just a couple weeks.

I cannot imagine a life lived in the wrong place. What a tragedy.


My heart ached a little tonight. In the midst of a group of new friends, nice folks, fun folks, I felt a stab and took a pause. Oh no one said anything intentionally hurtful. No one noticed a misstep or recognized the forced smile on my face, or the way I dropped out of the conversation for a bit. Not even Steve.

Discussing children and couples were sharing their unplanned pregnancies from a few years ago, and how upset, sad, even angry and frightened they were to learn they were expecting before they resigned to it and got happy. And I just missed my babies. I thought of all the years spent in secondary infertility and praying for more children, only to conceive and miscarry. Life is such a burden in our culture -if you weren't planning it, it's received with all sorts of negative emotions. We so take for granted the gift of life.

They don't know me, they don't know my longing for children, or my loss. Most people don't. I don't need anyone to be sensitive to my feelings, or alter anything to protect me, I'm not that fragile.

I just wanted to shake my head again and ask God why He gave so many children to women who don't even see the precious gifts they've been offered.

Oh I know whys and what ifs are futile, even destructive don't worry, I don't indulge in them but I won't pretend like it doesn't cross my mind, because it does. I'm a good mother, why are bad mothers so able to conceive? ugh. Just a maddening reality.

But for a miracle, a surprise, a shocking, miracle of biblical proportions my days of pregnancy are over and that will never stop making me sad. never.

Teeter Tottering

There has always been so much that I have loved doing. I've always enjoyed working. Always. I love challenges and earning money for extra things for our family. I get bored, it's like I've always needed some new adventure.

Our new business venture has been fabulously successful and I truly love it but just as with everything else, I've ever done and loved, I find my life slipping out of balance. I love the work of my home and work always interferes with my home management.

I don't know why anyone would even want to have it all? Seriously even IF you have it all, you're too tired to enjoy it.

Walking my commitments back is certainly a possibility, but it never lasts long. I end up teeter tottering, focusing here and focusing there. All in here, then all in there. I try to balance in the middle and I manage it for brief periods but never for long.

I don't know if I will keep waging this battle of balancing, or if I will surrender to it's reality. I don't see how I can walk away, and I know it wouldn't make me happy anyway.

Mostly I keep thinking there is some key ingredient that I am missing. Some way of thinking, some energy, some system of organization or some combination of them all that if I could master then these feelings would go away but they don't.

I am pretty organized, I manage my energy, and I'm about one of the healthiest mentally strong people I know, so yeah I doubt I'm missing any magic beans.

So then what?

We finally made it to the happiest place on earth...oh and we went to Disney

We made it.

For 17 years of marriage and homeschooling we thought about, honestly dreamed about a Disney vacation. We're fans. We love this stuff more than I can describe to you. But as parents you make the hard decisions and our priorities were always very clear. I would be a stay at home mom, a housewife, a homemaker, a homeschooler, and though I worked from home almost the entire time in one way or another my husband was the sole provider. This meant choices about how we used our resources.

Frugal living is not without it's sacrifices. Oh how I would cringe when people would say, "you're lucky to stay home, or not have to work" etc. 

We were military, if you haven't heard that is not a get rich quick scheme. 

We never owned a boat, we never went on vacations (we went on trips definitely but the kind where mom makes sandwiches and brings the crock pot for suppers- serious frugal living, intentional and with great purpose) and much of the time we made having one car work, or two cars for three drivers. (Even typing this I am fighting the stabbing of guilt that pierces my reality as I ponder the concept of having ONLY two cars is a sacrifice in America. wow.)

There were more sacrifices than I could even describe to you but they were sacrifices we would gladly make a thousand times to raise our children the way we saw fit, and to knit our family together.

Last year we saw both the kids graduate their respective college programs and we settled in to a new normal. weird. new and kind of wonderful.

Steve and I celebrated our anniversary, our 17th (albeit a couple weeks later) in the park. But we were celebrating so much more. We celebrated having stayed true to our goals, even when plenty of family disagreed, or didn't understand our choices. We stayed the course when it was hard, like really hard. We held on to the true North that is God's plan for our family when the waters were choppy. We knew keeping me at home and homeschooling was right for us, and for our family and we did. We did and we are pretty happy with the results.

William will begin his high school homeschool program this fall. We are in the homestretch. Corey is getting married to a great girl this summer, our family is growing! Lindsey is growing into a successful, hardworking young woman of character (and also as a character;) and Steve and I are more in love and more committed to one another and our family than we ever imagined. 

This trip was a celebration of so much for us. 

It was really awesome to pay cash for it, to not put a dime on a credit card, come home with zero debt on the entire vacation and have wonderful memories to get us to next year where my husband has determined we shall spend all our anniversaries from now on :) He's a fan, you guys. I should have known in high school when he had that goofy shirt on... no literally it was a shirt covered in Goofy faces.  

While in the park we made an offer on a new home. It's as close to the feeling we had moving to Biloxi as we've ever known since Katrina. The house feels like our home already. It's us. Standing in Tomorrowland I received the call that the offer was accepted and our new home was officially under contract. wow... no double wow. 

We finally made it to the happiest place on earth... oh and we went to Disney

my heart :)

Oh my heart is warm sitting here with William and my beautiful "nephews"I laid claim to at church. G and C, 3 and 1 they make me so happy. They are playing kitchen with William watching him take the lead, doing with them, what I've done with him makes me want to cry. He is gentle and teaching. He pretends and is so loving and imaginative. Like Taylor and Corey.

My memory, which I thought was growing dusty is flooded with snapshots of the little world I created with them in our home.

How I miss those days. I was meant for this work. We need play sets or leapfrogpadlearning devices. We played together. We talked constantly, and I listened intently. God's grace poured out on me. I didn't know how to be a good mother, but it was my heart's desire and my prayer. God grew it in me.

I came up with new things to do, new ways to learn, every single day. We were so blessed. Watching them grow was all my joy.

Instead of a fancy expensive play set they were more content with a box decorated to look like a stove and fridge, they preferred a table cloth over the coffee table as a professional kitchen. Tarp and a baby pool was swim time inside during the winter.

The crazy person in charge

I decided to enjoy some crafting this afternoon. So when I was sitting in the window, painting a birdhouse and watching the birds out the window it occurred to me...isn't that what they do in a sanitarium when someone has a nervous breakdown??!! bwhahahahha How funny is that?!

Now I know why I was so relaxed and calm.

It's true the lunatic is running the asylum.


My serious musician

After a year of pleading with me to allow him to take violin...at last! He is thrilled. He is using a 1/2 violin, meaning it is one one half the size of a full. Shannon has a 1/10, and 1/4 they were adorable these tiny little delicate things!

We are blessed to have an instructor and homeschool graduate down the street! She has a special affinity for Celtic and Bluegrass - yeah!

I love when the home is filled with music, even the constant drumming.

He walks with me in the garden

Our Lady of Guadalupe
This statue is the center piece in my prayer garden in the back yard. It is so lovely. Our Lady of Guadalupe reminds me that God comes to meet us where we are. She reminds me that God works miracles. She helps me focus on my vocation as a wife and mother. She also reminds me of course that if even she, the Mother of God, needs Jesus' saving grace so certainly then do I.

In the front of the house we have our statue of Our Lord and a cross. I love having these physical reminders to always help me stay the course.

Below is some brief information about Our Lady of Guadalupe. The full story is amazing.

Our Lady of Guadalupe
Feast day: December 12
Patron of the Americas
Missionaries who first came to Mexico with the conquistadors had little success in the beginning. After nearly a generation, only a few hundred Native Mexicans had converted to the Christian faith. Whether they simply did not understand what the missionaries had to offer or whether they resented these people who made them slaves, Christianity was not popular among the native people. Then in 1531 miracles began to happen. Jesus' own mother appeared to humble Juan Diego. The signs -- of the roses, of the uncle miraculously cured of a deadly illness, and especially of her beautiful image on Juan's mantle -- convinced the people there was something to be considered in Christianity. Within a short time, six million Native Mexicans had themselves baptized as Christians. The first lesson is that God has chosen Mary to lead us to Jesus. No matter what critics may say of the devotion of Mexicans (and Mexican descendants) to Our Lady of Guadalupe, they owe their Christianity to her influence. If it were not for her, they would not know her Son, and so they are eternally grateful. The second lesson we take from Mary herself. Mary appeared to Juan Diego not as a European madonna but as a beautiful Aztec princess speaking to him in his own Aztec language. If we want to help someone appreciate the gospel we bring, we must appreciate the culture and the mentality in which they live their lives. By understanding them, we can help them to understand and know Christ. Our Lady of Guadalupe is patron of the Americas.

(resource www. catholic.org)

Swimming pools, movie stars...except no movie stars

It was the summer that swimming pools became a thing. Looking back now I don't remember who got theirs first. But for a couple summers we all had them. Oh, not the fancy pants, in ground pools, the folks in Oak Park had, um no. These were above ground.

It went something like this...

Someone got a pool. That person was immediately the most popular kid in our world. I say they got a pool but I say that knowing now as an adult that the kid, didn't actually purchase the pool. It really didn't matter, because the adults were pretty inconsequential to us. Now what fun is it to have something cool and amazing if you can't prevent other people from enjoying it too?

Oh wait, you thought I was going to say, 'what fun is it having something cool and amazing if you can't share it?' Silly, foolish child! You must have grown up in an alternate universe.

Perhaps you don't know the bliss of being the only kid on the block with a new friend magnet? Well it's sweet. Or so I hear. I was never the kid on the street with a shiny new magnet. I was the other kid. The one kissing up to the kid with the new toy.

On our street cliques changed like the forecast in the Ohio Valley. If you don't like the weather, wait a minute. Best friend and arch rival were relationships statuses separated by the narrowest of degrees, subject to change and volatile. The real truth was that we were all as thick as thieves. No literally we stole things, well, just the car, the one time but I digress. We all loved each other almost as much as we loved our own families. We would have done anything at all for anyone else, but at the same time we bickered and argued like siblings, without ceasing.

Where was I? Oh the pool. The parents assisted in torturing us less fortunate kids with their ridiculous grown up logic like, only 2 friends in the pool at a time. Oh that's going to help you win friends and influence people whilst simultaneously getting your kid on hit list. Or my favorite it's for the grown ups, or grown up swim time. As if. They don't even swim right. They don't swim at all, they float. That's all they ever did, they floated. I never saw one of them swim, and the moms never even got their hair wet. I never saw them play Marco Polo, which is like required swim play. Sharks and Minnows? Not once. Did they make whirlpools, belly flops, dive contests or splash wars? no, no, no and oh hell no. Pools were wasted on adults.

Tell me right now in 2 seconds what is the big deal if you have grass on your feet? You know they are going to spend 2 hours the next day fishing beetles and mosquitos out of it, what's a little grass? And for the record if you didn't make us take breaks we wouldn't be running around in the yard barefoot getting grassy feet. I still mark as one of my life's greatest betrayals, learning "You can't swim for 30 minutes after eating" was a myth. Evil.

One kid got a pool and then another kid got a pool because the first kid wouldn't let the other kid swim in it. And on and on it went, until almost everyone had a pool. Except me. We had an 18 inch kiddie pool. Everyone else had 3 ft, 4 ft, and 5 ft pools. I had a kiddie pool and a baby brother I had to keep in it with me. A child who actually lost the power of vision when regular tap water touched his eyes. He was blinded apparently when he got wet anywhere on his facial surface. My mom kept a towel by the, eh hem, pool for him. I was always in trouble because it was great fun dunking the towel when no one was watching and then accidentally splashing my brother so he'd run to the sopping wet towel for comfort and aid, only to shriek in horror when the instrument to rescue him from all the wet, was really just more wet. Ah good times. My mother tripping up the steps because she was hosed in baby oil trying to tan, spilling her iced on the deck in a pitiful effort to fetch a dry towel and restore vision to her younger favored child.

The worst part, was that I couldn't have any friends over. There are a multitude of obvious reasons beginning with the unparalleled lameness of my glorified bath tub. None of which were helped by the screaming banshee who lost his mind when the water he was standing in coincidentally touched him, but those reasons, well they all pale in comparison to my greatest shame. The life vest. My mother had given up forcing me to wear it because let's face it I'm difficult. But my brother was powerless against her madness. I wore a full size, boating style life vest to many a pool party as a child, until I learned to repeat things in public (that I ought not repeat I was told) after hearing my mom say them on the phone to my grandma or her friend Nancy. Knowledge is power kids, it's taken me far. I still cannot however, swim. My brother was not as strong willed as I, and thus he succumbed to her stories of children having drown in a teaspoon of water and he surrendered his childhood frolicking in water to her fear of being in the emergency room with everyone thinking she was a bad mother. His aversion to teaspoons is a story for another day.

Kids didn't want to hang out in my "pool" because we were supervised every minute, we had to halt play every 37 seconds for a towel break, and because there was my little brother not getting wet, and wearing a life vest. Our exploits in pool ownership didn't last a season but others did and I learned to be nicer to people. Be nicer because they have a pool and if you make them mad at you, they won't let you swim. I've worked very hard to impart these essential truths to my own kids. Or not.

The Familial Artery

What if you had supper together every night? I know it's not the norm for a lot of folks. It is my favorite thing.

We have allowed busyness to rob of us of the things that matter? Those people who live in our home, the one we married, the children we brought into the world. Ask anyone what their priorities are and we say the same things. But, if we look at the ledger of our time would it reflect our priorities or reveal them?

Breaking bread is at the center of all Christendom.

We contemplate social issues, the brokenness of the family, the disconnect between kids and their folks. We wonder how do we restore the culture?

I suggest we had an excellent means of keeping it together and we let it fall away. Meals. Meals work miracles. Miracles.

Marriages do not just fall apart, they drift. Children do not magically morph into strangers at 14. There is a progression, a slow deterioration, a slow fade. Meals are an anchor. Food lovingly prepared, meals cooperatively prepared, cleaning and clearing as a family, sharing the labor builds bonds. These are anchors that will hold us all together when the waters rage. Shared family meal time must be sacred. No activity is more important.

Children and men, have a route, a powerful direct link to their hearts through their stomachs. It's called the Familial Artery. Okay well I call it the Familial Artery. It is not found in x-rays, or MRI's, but it's evident in close families. Whereas hungry people are grumpy, short-tempered and easily irritated, well nourished people are more forgiving, more relaxed and happier. Protecting and utilizing the Familial Artery is critical. As mothers we can knit our family together by connecting their hearts via the Familial Artery around a pleasant meal. It's powerful, direct and it will keep the heart open and loving for a lifetime if you feed it well.

Conversations happen over good meals.
Celebrations happen over good meals. Dates, holidays, memories, joys, sadness all happen around meals. Use the meal to stay connected. Feed them well, nourish their bodies and you nourish their souls. Teach them gratitude and service in this meal. Teach them to communicate across the table.

If shared meals are not the norm, you might have some work ahead of you. Take heart though, habits are formed and so new habits can replace old habits. Start with the ground rules, no television on anywhere and no phones at the table. Play some music, dinner music is brilliant.

Don't get angry if they resist, or don't respond, especially if they are older. Sometimes the Familial Artery is blocked. It takes a steady consistent diet of family meals to clear it. Stay the course.

Change it up and keep them engaged.

Try using a game, building traditions into the time

"What if?" 
There are several card games sold in retail stores like this. What if you had to choose between no electricity or no plumbing? What if you had to choose between running super fast or flying? What if you had a band, what would you call it?

Highs and Lows 
Take turns sharing the highs and lows of your day. 
Doesn't have to be just one thing, but it can be. 

Eye Spied Good Today 
Share something good, or nice you witnessed. After a couple days, you all begin to look for good things to have something to share. Suddenly there just seems to be a lot more good in the world.


Whoppers are fun exaggerated stories of what happened to us for the day. Each person trying to top the other persons unbelievable whopper.

Best Thing About... 

Every person takes turns saying best things, sweet, funny, kind. It's a great way to start weeding out sarcasm. To warm up you can start with simple things like - cars or refrigerators. It helps us all see how thankful we are about things we mostly just take for granted. Then begin to add in people, in your family, and in your life. 

Start with supper but I challenge you, do not stop there. Breakfast together is great blessing to everyone and lunches whenever possible are luxurious treats of time and attention between a husband and wife or a parent and a child.

Change their hearts and change your family through the Familial Artery.

Good Steward?

The Gospel reading from last Sunday was the parable of the servants and the talents. It has been my contemplation all week. The Master (God) gave to each according to their ability.
He gave to them based on his expectations. He didn't expect much of one, expected a mediocre return from another, and expected much from the third. 
While this parable causes us to contemplate many aspects of our life - our spiritual gifts, or tangible gifts, and our hearts, it is speaking of money, and the behavior as it relates to money is a frequent Gospel theme. 
I know in my own life, especially in my 20's, I felt like I was being punished in times of poverty or less. There have been times I felt like the lack of resources was the devil trying to come against me. There have even been times I questioned why some were given so much and some so little. 
When I discovered Dave Ramsey 18 yrs ago (Financial Peace University) I went to his seminar. In it he said something that began a change in me. He said, if we took all the money from the wealthy and gave it to the poor, then walked away, in two years the poor would be poor again and the wealthy would be returned to wealth. He spoke about this parable. People who are just bad stewards, typically remain bad stewards. People who are good stewards, increase. 
I've heard that echoed many times since then, in Conservative Business, Financial reports and I see it borne out in my own life. 
The parable has hope though. 
Even though, God expects the servants to do what they have always done, He gives them a chance to do differently. So to it has been in my own life. Many, many, chances. 
I can say that I have gone from being the "wicked lazy servant" to the one in the middle, to whom God gave two talents. But God desires to place all confidence in me. I need to root out the errors in my own discipline and habits and be the servant to whom God entrusts with the most. 
Not there yet. 
I know people get all fidgety when you talk about God and money. I still do a little. There is still a part of me that wants to make excuses. Our life savings was wiped out in Katrina. I have a chronic illness and many other life lessons. I'm resisting the impulse now to blame outside forces. Outside things are GOING to happen. How foolish to assume otherwise? I must live a life that accepts the reality of life events, hard times, and prepare. I am supposed to store up for those days. I am supposed to live below my means so that when those days come my house is built on rock not sand and washed away in the flood. 
It's hard. So what. I am done making excuses. 
This parable says something else. There is still time. You see right now, the Master is away. But the Master will return. When He does how will He find me? 
The First Reading last Sunday was Proverbs 31 (I love how my church structures the readings and cycles. It's perfection) 
This is why I work. The Proverbs 31 woman works without ceasing to enrich her family, to provide for the poor, to increase their holdings, to help her husband. I know I am also called to be at home, to homeschool, and to be a wife first. So was the Proverbs woman. In the last 15 years finding this balance has been my life's work. It's been so very good. 
I know that God is telling me, His expectations of me have changed. He expects much more from me, and He desires to give me much more. To whom much is given, much is expected is true in reverse as well. 
No more excuses. No more poor decisions which prevent me from being prepared for reality. My lamp will be on all night and when the Master returns, He will accept all that I have done with what He has given me and He will say, "Well done my good and faithful servant."
Here are the readings from last week btw

The Green Eyed Beast of Jealousy

A sister in Christ shared something on a forum that spoke to me. She was suffering a physical ailment and battling finances on a ship that is sinking. When she sees a family in her church seemingly wealthy and perfect she is pained and finding herself battling jealousy. Aware of it and knowing it is wrong she was seeking prayer. She certainly has my prayers. 

I wanted to share my own journey in this. Because I share things on a blog titled A Housewife Extraordinaire. People often get their knickers in a twist and well, they hate on me. Photos of projects, pretty things, happy kids, a great husband makes some people's blood boil. 

What a difficult area to navigate. I have been where you are, in poverty, in suffering. I learned more about Christ in those times than in any other of my life. I am blessed by suffering, truly. Pride and jealousy is a cancer. 

For me, in those times, I had to question my own thoughts. Why do we need to believe these things when we see happiness, joy, or abundance in the lives of others? 

"They must be in debt up to their eyeballs."
"They must have a terrible marriage."
"They aren't really happy."

There is no grace in these thoughts. No mercy. No Jesus. 

We met a couple 15 yrs ago. Financially secure. Beautiful home, happy, great family. Vacations. Good Stewards. Faithful. Loving. Admired. Respected. God had worked on me to that point in my life by then and for the first time I wasn't jealous. I wasn't threatened. I wasn't embarrassed, or anything negative. I was drawn to them. I wanted to know them. 

They became our dearest friends. They become our mentors in faith, our role models. They modeled how to get where we wanted to be in life - marriage, faith, family and prosperity. They are treasures. They're story is not one without sorrow, and pain. But it's a story of triumph.

The truth was, we had made some decisions that made every minor crisis a major one AND we also had some difficult cards dealt to us in health problems but everybody does really. It's rarely all or none.

Now we are financially in a better place and we are still growing and recovering from setbacks, but we are on a good path. Our family is healthy, strong. My home is beautiful and life is very good. Overwhelmingly good. Not perfect, by many standards, but I've learned to view everything through a very different lens and so it feels pretty perfect to me.

The truth is, it was always good, even in the hard times, I was so blessed, and despite those moments of jealousy that pricked my peace I knew it then too. Now, I walk in that truth daily. Life altering slaying that green eyed beast.

People sometimes look at the things I share and think similar unkind things about me I'm sure. I do interior design, and custom furniture and decor and I am pretty good at lots of things.

If they didn't assume, but instead took the time to get to know me, they would learn my story. I was raised in poverty, abuse and addiction. My family is broken and irreparable. I married at 17 was divorced twice by the age of 24 with two children, a working single mom. I was raised in no faith at all. I have been born with a heart condition and had by age 24 $100,000 in medical debt from heart surgery and treatment. I filed bankruptcy then. 

Enter grace and mercy and a fervent desire to change my life and my family tree.

An old friend from high school entered into my life and this time I was open to God's plans and not my own. A deep and powerful, lifelong conversion began in y soul. A marriage I had never even witnessed in my life began 17 yrs ago and thrives to this very day. A close, amazing family grew in us. Faith, homeschooling, and building a financial plan for our provision. Education. Hard work. Perseverance.

Cake walk? no. My husband was deployed into War. We lost babies in miscarriage. We lost everything we owned in Hurricane Katrina and relocated with almost nothing. I was diagnosed with MS. My son has epilepsy, my daughter shares my congenital heart condition. 

 Jealousy and those thoughts which flow from it are not bringing peace. They are robbing you and they are lying to you. 

"Comparison is the thief of joy." -Theodore Roosevelt.

It is terribly unhealthy to comfort ourselves by assuming those we see in a good place must secretly be miserable, in debt, bad people, instead of considering God has in fact blessed them because of their faithfulness in storms or the measure of their own commitment.

Perhaps we could look upon the grace in the lives of others and in place of jealousy, find hope. Hope that God is faithful. Hope that God will provide and that we can improve our behaviors and choices to lend a hand in our own prosperity too.

I would not trade my Cross for anyone's. It is mine to carry, and I count it all joy.