Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 A Year in Review

I didn’t have the inspiration or my act together well enough this year to include a family letter in with our Christmas card. Of course now they have been sent and inspiration has hit. Go figure.

I didn’t want to write a trite, “Everything is so wonderful” letter when in actuality, although this year has been truly wonderful, it also truly exhausting, difficult, sad, and frustrating too. Few people want to read about that though.

As I type I am sitting in beautiful Estes Park, CO in a quiet condo, watching the Big Thompson flow outside our balcony. The peace and serenity is just what I needed. I know in a few minutes Steve and the kids will burst through the door, back from a walk and life will get loud and goofy again and I love that too! But for now this is the perfect place for me to sit and look back over our year. Well almost perfect – it could use a little snow!

This over-running theme for 2010 has been “Growth.”. I have grown immensely as a wife, mother, friend and even business-woman - something I never pictured myself doing. Our kids have grown into (usually) delightful young people. Zachary has had to learn some hard lessons himself and has matured in ways I was not ready for him to have to experience just yet. Kendall has also grown and become much more in control of herself and her actions, and also learned that sometimes friendships can be fickle and painful. Ellie has become even more independent and confident, and is also learning how to be a good friend and responsible student as she started Kindergarten this year. We are very proud to brag they are all in accelerated math and reading groups and so thankful for a school that lets them grow and explore to their full potential!

During these past 12 months we have had to bear witness to unspeakable pain and heartbreak for too many of our friends and family. We have carried our own burdens and struggles within our family as well. We have had joys and challenges, laughs and tears, and countless memories to carry us on. And through it all, Steve and I have realized God has used these experiences and this year as a whole to teach us to love. We have been able to come together to make the commitment to do as God asks us to and that is simply to {love}. Time and time again I have heard His message that He is in control of everything else beyond that. It has been a very difficult but also very freeing experience! It has brought Steve and me closer together which then makes everything else run so much easier in our small family. Looking back I can now see that God has taken all of these ups and downs and weaved them together into a beautiful picture of His promise to us. It is with that faith we are truly excited to see what God has in store for us this coming year!

We have had many highs this year too. We have been able to travel a lot. Over the 4th of July weekend we celebrated my cousin’s wedding beautiful Eagle, CO and had precious family time. Later in July and into August we went to Oklahoma to see my parents and uncles. During this trip we also went to Arkansas with my parents to dig in a diamond mine which was quite an experience! (And very hot.) From Oklahoma (I still sing while spelling that!) we went to Iowa where we celebrated Steve’s youngest sister’s wedding (to a truly wonderful man) and had some precious time with extended family. It is so wonderful to see our kids playing with their cousins and sitting with their Great-Grandparents! We were also treated to visits from both of Steve’s sisters and their families to Colorado and had a blast doing all sorts of touristy things with them in Denver! In October I went Orlando for a Juice Plus+ Leadership Conference. It was a whirlwind trip and incredibly exciting and uplifting to be with thousands of other people all working to improve people’s health and wellness. A million thanks to my mom who was able to come out and help Steve with the kids while I was gone.

I think in addition to learning to love everyone and let go of the desire to judge or be “right” (but rather righteous,) I have also learned the need for margin in my life. Space to breath, to sit, to just be, or to be able to handle unexpected issues that always seem to come up when life is at its busiest. I have loved my volunteering with my MOPS group and now as a Community Coach with MOPS International, Women to Women (a Bible study group), this kids’ school, my work with Juice Plus+ and at the retirement community, and everything else that keeps me moving, but this holiday season I over extended myself and we all felt the strain of that. I am committing 2011 to be a year of balance and discernment. Soon I will be able to leave my part-time job at the retirement community and focus on my work as a wellness educator. This social butterfly has been craving time at home, secluded from the static of the world and to do that I need to learn how to say no. That is why our time right now in Estes right now is such a blessing.

My prayer for you is that you all find margin, quiet, peace and abundant love in the coming year and beyond!

“Not to us, oh Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.” Psalm 115:1

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why Do I Even Bother?

OK so once again I am resorting to this blog as a tool to rant sort out my thoughts. Knowing that read if you wish. If you do read this through I would really appreciate any thoughts, encouragement and ideas. I guess I deserve a little “What were you thinking!?” too so if that is how you feel let that fly too. Gently.

So here is the thing. Without going into specifics, so forgive the vagueness, someone in my family who I loved and trusted hurt an important member of my family who I love dearly. There were some extenuating circumstances that added to the layers of the issue but I would rather not go too far into those. Now at this point you might be wondering “Why are you bringing this up at all?” The answer is simply… I don’t know.

Anyway, as a result of the 1st person’s betrayal and behavior I became angry. Not just mad but like the Incredible Hulk, shirt tearing, irrational, Red Ross angry. I prayed and ask many others to pray for me too because I know the level of anger and hatred I was feeling was not right. The prayers helped but still any time I would hear about or think about this person I would loose control again and felt like I was starting all over. In one of these bad moments I rashly decided to delete this person from my Facebook list without alerting them. At the time in my anger I was thinking “To heck with them,” but now I can see how immature and hurtful I was being.

This has been months now and now the dearly loved family member and the other one are reconciling. Much has been forgiven between them and now I am put in the uncomfortable position of having that person back in my life and I am not too pleased about that. Still there is nothing I can or even should do about it. I have to support those who I love, even if I think they are putting themselves in a situation where they could be harmed again. I think it is always easier to forgive someone who hurts you directly than to forgive someone who hurts those you love. In this case this person did both and while I can forgive the offense to me, I can’t seem to completely move past the rest of it.

I have been praying a LOT for God to help me with this. The sharp edges of my anger have become smoother and the pain in my heart is duller. There is still anger and pain and mistrust there but with God’s help I know I can let that go completely.

Today I attempted to take the first steps in this. I took a somewhat bold move and wrote this person an email. Now the email was the wimpy part – the bold part was that I focused the email on asking for forgiveness from this person. I asked for forgiveness for my immaturity, for not being the friend and family member I know they needed, forgiveness even for the stupid Facebook thing. I remember a speaker at a Weekend To Remember talking about how empowering and freeing it can be to ask for forgiveness even if you were wronged too. It is not my place to point out another’s faults. I can only take care of my own. I am a sinner and I asked someone to forgive me.

Sadly I am also a sinner who is not completely in control of her emotions and I said some things that while honest and true, came across pretty harsh. It was not the right time or the right way and it totally negated all the potential good the rest of the email could have done. I do not regret what I said but rather the how and when. Ugh. It was stupid and prideful and I have no excuse.

I got back a pretty snippy reply and I tried to continue with the communication to clear things up. Sadly this person just continued to get more upset and basically told me I we never had nor will we ever have a relationship. Ouch. That stings. A lot. And not just to my pride. Although I am feeling pretty indignant too. Hey, just being honest.

So now I am torn. On one hand I want to go back again and again until they hear what I was trying to say and agree with me see things from my side. On another hand I want to say “Well forget you and the horse you rode in on. I was fine without you before and I will be fine without you now.” However being they are family, I know that is not really rational. It still feels good to say it out loud. And then on another hand (yeah I know it’s 3 hands. Just go with it.) I sort a wish I would have not even messed with the email and everything could go back to its dysfunctional normal.

What can I say? I am flawed. I like to be right. I am prideful and a sinner. Thank you Jesus I am saved because I surely can’t do this on my own! And I seem to have a need to prove that last point over and over again.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Save the REAL Men

I try to find the positive and humor in everything. Really – life is too short to be cranky and negative even if it is totally justified and feels perversely good at the time. I have been trying to find the right way to word what is on my mind for this post because I do not want to focus on the negative and I think people don’t really want to hear it either.

Last night was my son’s last baseball game for this season. We have had such a great and fun year and were really psyched to end the year with a fun game under the lights. Sadly the other team was headed by two coaches who were so focused on winning they encouraged their boys to manipulate the rules, try to sneak playing with a weighted bat, walked our best hitter when they were already up by 5 runs, benched a boy who was not as athletic as the others, who coached a player to mow down our catcher and injured him for no reason (ball was in the outfield and they were up by 9 runs with 5 minutes left in the game), who laughed about him being injured and continued to run the bases as he rolled on the ground in pain, and then chanted “We’re #1” and sang “We are the Champions” when our coaches decided we were not going to continue to play.

As a former athlete, a mom, and just a caring human being the entire evening was so wrong on so many levels that I am still sick to my stomach. I ache for the boys on that team who think that is what baseball is all about. My heart breaks for the boy who was not encouraged to do his best and to try to improve, but rather that the only thing he could offer his teammates was to do the least damage possible. I am baffled by the parents of that team who allowed their sons to be on a team like that. I am worried about what those men must be like at home and the kind of men they are raising their sons to be. I am worried about the boy who was hurt. I am sad for our team who had to end the year with such a scary experience. I am angry that my son had to be exposed to such ugliness at such a young age and in an environment that is supposed to be a happy and safe place for him. I am still in shock and horror of the viciousness of the hit and seeing that child rolling in pain as his father (one of the assistant coaches) sat at his side trying to figure out how badly he was hurt with a full range of emotions etched on his face.

It is hard to let all of this go but I have to. I choose to. I want to focus on all the great things I saw last night in the midst of such disgusting behavior. First of all we have the best. coaches. EVER! Our coaches and boys handled themselves impeccably throughout the game and afterwards. The boys did their best to stay focused and not let the ickiness affect them. When their teammate was injured they all ran towards home plate to see if he was ok. One boy called for them to take a knee and they all did. During the game several of our boys were seen talking and being friendly with the boys on the other team. While the other team taunted our team, they ignored it. While the parents cried out our complaints, our coaches had the presence of mind to keep the boys focused on the game. While the other team pulled out all the stops, including cheating to try to win, our coaches focused on playing fair and having fun. We could have stacked the line-up, had our best pitchers on the mound and benched a couple players in an effort to score more points. We didn’t though and for that I am so thankful. When our player was injured our coaches could have yelled and swore and placed blame, but none of that would have spoken as loudly as the statement “We’re done,” did was they gathered their players to leave the field. Our boys learned a great lesson in character and regardless of the score I feel we won. I pray our coaches return next year because I want my son to have as much access to great men like these as possible. And sadly I fear they are a dying breed.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Warning - Grouchy Mommy Ahead

I should be wrapped in CAUTION tape. Ever have one of those days where everything is irritating? Even air is super annoying? Not wind, just air. And local news "personalities" (if obnoxious is a personality). And Facebook Mobile. And a things touching me - like my shirt. I am in a horrible, foul, rancid mood and I am not entirely sure why (although miserable allergies and lack of sleep are suspects.) I am not sure how to fix it. I really have no point other than I somehow hope that giving words to my angst will help lessen it. And to hope someone will pray for my kids because they are stuck with my grumpy butt all day.

I highly suspect PMS - actually I seriously hope it is PMS because if not there is something seriously wrong with me which means I have to see the doctor. I hate going to the doctor. The very idea logistically drains me and makes me even more grouchy. I am one of those people that thinks I can diagnose myself as well as they can and therefore I should be able to just call in my prescriptions or whatever and cut out all those middle men/women like doctors and nurses. It may be result of being part of a huge HMO for the last 11 years which makes me talk to about 5 people and about 24 automated menus just to refill a prescription.

I am going to be doing my best to isolate myself and spare humanity from having to put up with me. But this is hard because I am a mom and I am ALWAYS surrounded by people and these people need me to be around for things like food and to remind them not to run with scissors or sit on their sister's head. I also should do this all without causing psychological scars. Plus they can't drive themselves which means I have to because we have things like swim lessons and swim team and doctor's appointments and grocery shopping. I can see why moms turn to pills - not that I condone it or want to make light of addiction at all - but let's just say the thought may have crossed my mind once or twice this morning and I can see where they may be coming from.

Alright it is 10am so I think that is late enough to dive face-first into the chocolate chips with my head in the freezer so that my kids don't see what I am doing. I still have to set a good example. Or at least try.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Why I NEED this chocolate

Today was going to be a busy day. I had cancelled 2 things and still it was going to be a busy day. Because of this I planned my day accordingly:
7am - wake up and shower.
730am - get Happy up and dressed to go to work with me
745am - out the door with breakfast in hand (or maybe grab something a cute local coffee shop if I am in a good mood and we are on time.)
8am - arrive at work and be uber productive while everyone oohs and ahhs over my super sweet and well-behaved offspring (What? It could happen.)
1115am - leave work to swing by Target to buy the perfect gift (which will be on sale) and
then get to the 7 year old birthday party
12 - arrive at birthday party, help out, enjoy some time with grown ups while enjoying laughs over our adorable children who manage to have a ball playing inside and out without trashing the house, mussing up their clothes, or getting into fights or hurt.
3pm - leave party, swing by store to pick up some last minute items for dinner
4pm - arrive home to my lovely family, clean house and enjoy a quiet afternoon

Yeah. Weeeeeell - that didn't exactly happen. Here is how my day really went.

9am - wake up to screeching somewhere in my house. With blood-pressure verging on causing an aneurysm I fly into the shower half dressed while yelling at kids to stop yelling (yes I see the irony, thanks) and telling Happy to hurry up and get dressed and no I do not have time to
explain why or what to wear but that please for the love of all that is holy will you just do what I tell you just this once without 20 questions? (And the Mother of the Year award goes to....)
930am - have huge fight with husband (not epic, but pretty big)
10:00am - fly out door without breakfast, hair wet and clothes half on (for both of us)
10:15am - arrive at work (fully dressed thankyouverymuch) and proceed to attempt to salvage my morning with my sweet daughter 1 on 1 by printing out some fun coloring sheet and finding other fun things for her to do while with me at work after the sweet folk-singer is done entertaining us and the adoring residents who are sweetly singing along. Small boy finds slug on fireplace. Steps on other slug while trying to get someone to remove first slug.
10:30am - call IT guy on cell as he is spending quality time with his grandson to explain how my computer is vomiting virus and spyware warnings in-between popping up XXX images and porn advertisements and other like minded filth.
1040-11am - try not to cry. Fail. But manage to do so hiding in fax room so not to worry sweet daughter who is currently coloring on my desk with a Marks-A-Lot.
12:15pm - FLY out to birthday party which began 15 minutes ago and is 30 minutes away. Awesome.
12:45pm - arrive at party, yay! Realize we never bought a gift. To borrow a phrase from a blog I love, crap-crappity-crap-crap. Sweet gracious mom of bday boy reassures me it is OK. Darling daughter quietly freaks out, whispering frantically in my ear that she is so. totally. embarrassed.
Yeah. Me too.
1:15pm - arrive back at work to attempt to fix my demented computer. Find more slugs and worms that met an untimely demise and attempt to get Nepalese housekeepers to help. Give up and do it myself while trying not to puke. Cannot get a hold of IT guy who has stopped answering
his cellphone. Also cannot stop vile images from popping up on my screen WHICH by the way, is in full view of the front doors and lobby which is busier than Mother's Day for some unknown reason.
2:30pm - flee my computer and its nastiness to race out and buy pathetic gift from Rite Aid, load it with candy to try to make up for it, and race across town.
3:15pm - arrive late to pick up very happy and sugar high'd daughter wearing half the outfit she began with and hair all disheveled (Helen Keller pre-Anne Sullivan comes to mind.)
Luckily the sisterhood of mothers is strong and good and my sisters surround me and make me laugh without having to explain why half of my hair is sticking up, there are post-its on my elbow, and I look like I have been rode hard and put away wet and more like Helen Keller than my daughter. Or maybe Lord of the Flies or something. I am pretty sure the only reason why they let me leave with my child is because I did not smell like alcohol.
4:00pm - arrive at home, haul in a years worth of bags, papers, tissue paper, goodie bags and wrappers while Happy races in the house, slamming the door behind her. Once inside I am greeted by soggy floors (dh shampooed carpets following fight in the morning. Nice thought at least...), rain soaked dog shaking and drying himself on my newly washed carpets, and everyone asking what is for dinner.

...and this is why I NEED this chocolate. And ice cream. And 2 maybe 3 glasses of wine.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Mother's Day Revelation

About a week ago a wonderful woman I know announced a contest of sorts through her organization Xylem Family Resource. All one had to do was write a note about their favorite part of being a mom. I have been thinking about it a lot since then because I honestly could not pin down what my favorite part was. Well this morning I think I got it, even though it is too late for the contest. So I will share it here because, honestly, it is pretty awesome!

I guess in my heart and soul I have always known my favorite part of being a mom, but today is when the words came to express that. Well at least as well as words can.

I am immensely blessed when it comes to Mothers. See I have one wonderful mother, the one who I was formed in, who grew me and brought me into this world. This mother I have never met because shortly after my birth she relinquished me so that I could have a better life than what she could offer me. You see, although she came from a large, loving and supportive family, she was a student and was single. She knew the life she wanted for me was more than she could give, and that there were families out there praying for the baby she carried, who would be able to give her child everything she hoped for. That kind of love leaves a mark on someone.

And then there is my mom. The most amazing, smart, loving, funny, beautiful, faithful, God loving, wise, and kind woman I have ever known. She is the one who told me about boys, braided my hair, and taught me how to cook and how to apply mascara. She is the one my kids call Grandma and who I call when I forget a recipe or just need to talk. She grounds me and loves me exactly as I am. That kind of love changes a person.

Growing up I never felt unwanted or abandoned. My mom and dad did an amazing job telling me what little we know about my birth parents, and always told me it was out of self-sacrificing love that my birth mom gave me up. I always felt as much a part of the family as my by-birth relatives. I always felt like a gift, a miracle, and that security gave me wings.

One thing I did miss growing up was having people who looked like me. Sure my parents and brother and I have similar features, (to the point in high school I lost friends because they thought I was lying about being adopted,) but nothing like having my mother’s nose or grandpa’s chin or dad’s eyes. So when my first was born I so hoped and prayed he would look just like me. He didn’t. In truth he is nearly identical to his dad. Identical except for one thing. When Z was about a week old I noticed it. He has my hands. Wrapped around my finger was the most perfect and identical miniature version of me. I burst into tears, quickly wiping them away so I could continue to gaze at them. I think I stared at his hands for hours a day. I still marvel at them. (And my other 2 kids have my hands too!)

So what’s the point, you may be asking. Here it is. The thing I realized this morning, what is my most favorite part of being a mother, is that I get to pass on the most wonderful aspects of my mothers. From physical characteristics that may be from my birth mom, to the importance of God in my life from my mom – these are the gifts I am honored to give to my children. The immensity of my love for my children is funneled down to them from the immense love I have been given by my earthly mothers. I know what it is like to be unconditionally, intensely and unceasingly loved by women of strength and character. I pray I can live up to their example and let my kids experience that too.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I Just Want You To Like Me!

Everyday on the way to and from my kids' school I drive past 2 houses that house 2 people that I don't like. I won't get into the "whys" because they do not matter. What does matter is that twice a day everyday I have to face the fact that they are there, and the uncomfortable emotions that well up inside of me. You see I used to like these 2 families. Quite a lot actually. But then something happened that tore apart those relationships and I am having a hard time getting past that. I have spent a lot of time praying that I could just get over it, forgive what needs to be forgiven, and to move on being able to genuinely wish them the best. I have made great progress in these areas and really do not miss having either of these people in my life. Still I drive past and cannot stop that bubbling up from my stomach and chest that is a strange mix of sadness and anger and something else. Self righteousness? Remorse? Shame? I can't put my finger on it. I know I don't like it though.

Today as I was returning home from the kids' school I passed house #1 and the emotions began to well up. I got frustrated with myself and began to pray for the first time that God show me why am I feeling this way? God is so good and so faithful. I finally get it. I am bothered by the fact that these people do not like me, but more so that they believe things about me that are absolutely untrue and there is nothing I can do about it!!! Eureka! Being able to finally identify it I can begin to move on.

Now I have no desire what so ever to have these people back into my life so I will not be approaching them or anything like that. No, this is something I have to do for myself and within myself. I cannot control how others think and feel about me or anything else. I have to accept that some people will just not *gasp* like me. [Deep breath, Deann. You'll be OK.]

I wish I could be the type of person who is who she is and doesn't get bothered by what others think about her. But that is not how God made me. I am bothered by being unliked and misunderstood. Not sure what to do with this revelation, but I am sure glad I have had it! And I trust as I grow in God that I will begin to focus more on Who does like me and not worry so much about everyone else. :)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I am obsessed. My thoughts and emotions are consumed by my heartbreak. Too dramatic? Perhaps, but also far too true. To be honest it is difficult to find words to explain what I am thinking and feeling because I cannot even get them organized in my own head. I am scattered and distracted but also convicted that I have to do what small I can to make a positive influence. My thoughts and therefore my writing is going to be scattered and may be hard to follow. I apologize in advance.

Let me back up first. For those of you who have noticed my recent Facebook activity you probably can gather where my thoughts are. For those of you who have not, let me explain. About two weeks ago a lovely 8 year old girl, Lydia, died as a result of serious abuse from her parents, Kevin and Elizabeth Schatz. Her younger sister was hospitalized in critical condition because of the same session. I say session because through the other 7 children in the house (9 total, 6 biological, 3 adopted), we know that these beatings were a regular occurrence. The parents followed the “teachings” of the No Greater Joy “Ministries” and the founders Michael and Debi Pearl. I will not go into depth here what these two teach, but the Schatzes followed their teachings and took to beating their children with a length of plumbing tubing as a way to train their children to be sinless, which is only part of the heinous ideas the Pearls encourage. If you want to know the story in better detail I encourage you to read the blogs I have been reading, which are written by and husband and wife that knew the Schatz family – Laurie & Paul.

** Side note - I think that it is important to know all I can about things like this but I refuse to sully this blog by linking to the Pearls’ website. They are denying all responsibility for this death, for the explosion within this family and their community. It is also important to know this is not the first child to die as a result of their teachings. However, that is your choice and I will not force those evils upon you.

This story has touched me on such a deep level that I simply must act. It is like breathing – if I do not do it I will most certainly die. I have always been a tender person, sensitive, compassionate, quick to cry, and deeply feeling. I used to think this was in a flaw of mine. I would be teased by friends, family and schoolmates for crying at the drop of a hat, frequently over pains that did not directly effect me, or effected my beyond what was considered appropriate. I now know that God made me this way and that these traits are actually gifts He has given me to use to glorify Him.

But how? What am I supposed to do? As I struggle to get my thoughts organized I write. I welcome you to hear what I am thinking and offer any opinions, thoughts or whatever.

First it begins at the “teachings” from the Pearls and the churches that support their beliefs. I know that I know that I know that the idea of sinless human is an impossible and foolish idea. However there are teachers and pastors and denominations that vehemently believe and teach this – that there is some way we can earn heaven, earn God’s favor and grace by our actions and performance. The Bible plainly says otherwise again and again. “No one can come to the Father except through Me,” ring any bells? (John 14:6)

These hate filled teachings (if you can even call them that), are in my opinion born from the deepest pits of hell, are disguised as God’s plan for us and lead people to believe that our God is an angry, abusive, hateful God just waiting fo rus to mess up so he can lay into us. The exact opposite is true! He loves us! He made us just so he could love us! We are His pride, His treasure, His masterpieces! He loves us with a fierceness we cannot imagine! And my heart breaks for all the poor souls, even the Pearls, who believe otherwise.
(For proof see Romans 5:5, 8, and 8:38, 2Timothy 1:7, 1John 4:7 just to name a few.)

So I sit here, furiously typing and thinking (frustrated that I cannot match the two better,) and praying that God will reveal to me why He made me the way He did, and how He wishes me to use my gifts of tears and a servant’s-heart to His glory. I am so sad for the family, the children, their friends, and even so sad for the parents. More I am so angry at the parents, their church, the Pearls and anyone else who spreads this brand of fear, hate and lies. And in my anger I cling to these words:

" Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is born of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God--for God is love. God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us. And God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us. . . And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we are like Christ here in this world. Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that his love has not been perfected in us. "
1 John 4: 7-13, 17-18