Chapter 14 maybe? Smile Again…

Standard

I’m not real sure what number this chapter will be, but I’m guessing it will be near the middle. My next book, Smile Again is a letter to myself. Within those pages I will have some very, very  low moments and some very, very high moments. One thing y’all know by now is that it will be raw, real, and honest. Hold on to your hats…this chapter is about to be as real as it gets…

“I’ve found a number of truths over the past ten months. I’ve searched them out and I’ve dug for answers when digging wasn’t easy. I’ve found myself standing still, mouth dropped open, staring at people who had just said something so hurtful and outrageous more times than I can count. I’ve gotten mad, cussed a lot, and thrown quite a few hissy fits. I’ve written things on my computer screen that burned my own eyes and I erased it before it could burn out someone else’s!

I’ve felt sorry for other people who have gone out of their way to run me down and talk about me behind my back. I’ve prayed fire and brimstone on several people’s heads and then kicked myself and crawled to God asking Him for forgiveness. I’ve failed miserably in my daily walk through this life and I’ve cried more tears in ten months than in all of the rest of my life combined.

My hurt, fear, anger, and disappointment with God, Greg, and life in general threatened to consume me at one point. And, I almost let it. Thankfully, I have a Mama and a God who love me despite my awful self. Without them holding me accountable, I don’t know what I might have done to more than one person in my life. I don’t back down easily, especially when I’m angry. However, it literally makes me sick to have to engage in arguments. I don’t handle those situations well at all. I don’t handle disappointing people or letting them down in any way easily either. I truly hate it. I prefer sunshine and rainbows…don’t you?

Too bad that’s not how life works. Man, I wish it were though!! Wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to sail smoothly through life with no worries, problems, losses, or tears? I blame Eve for all of this…a little self-control would have helped us all out girlfriend! Just a little smidge of SELF-CONTROL. Ugh!

Instead, she had to give in and eat that piece of forbidden fruit and the rest of us have to live with her extremely bad decision. It’s so not fair. Deep down inside of me is that really mean Emily that just wants to slap Eve until she turns blue. Ya know? I mean how selfish could she possibly be? One bite and every person ever to be created after her has to suffer. Seriously?!

I look around me today and I see so many people hurting. I have friends and family who are watching their loved ones loose their fight against cancer. I have people who share the pain and agony they are feeling with me now because they lost their spouse also. I am witnessing children who can’t figure out how to move forward without their parent and it breaks my heart. All because one woman didn’t exercise a tiny  bit of self-control.

Does that make anyone else mad? Or is it just me? Maybe I’m just MAD. Sometimes, I truly believe it helps to get rip roaring, guns blazing, sword swinging, chair throwing MAD. Jesus did. He got mad and he cleaned some plows. I believe I know exactly how he felt when he cleaned out that courtyard right about now.

I don’t know for sure, but I’d be willing to bet that those poor souls’ lack of self-control was the final straw for Jesus that day. We already know it was the final straw for Eve. Today, I’m saying it’s the final straw for me, too.

People who do not exercise self-control when it comes to running their mouths about things they know nothing about DRIVE ME INSANE. And, more than that….People who call themselves Christians and tilt their heads like they are holier than thou and talk about other Christians behind their backs make me want to throat punch them. Too bad I know how to exercise self-control in times like these…

I realized today that I truly am feeling emotions again. I haven’t “felt” anything for ten months. I’ve reacted to feelings by smiling, laughing, crying, and listening; but I haven’t FELT them. It’s just so weird. It’s also sad to me that the first thing I truly felt was anger. Why couldn’t it have been happiness? Why did my first feeling have to be anger? Dang you, Eve!

Hump. Well, I guess I have a choice to make. I can either stay MAD and find some tables to throw around…or I can take a deep breath and calm down. Which one will I choose? Probably the one that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg! Haha!

Seriously, I guess I just have to do like God does and forgive the ignorance and the lack of self-control some people have. I guess I’ll just pray for them and ask God to forgive my very, very bad thoughts about them as well. I guess I’ll just let all of the negativity roll off of my back like water off of a duck’s back. I refuse to be bitter. I refuse to be hateful, hurtful, or mean spirited. I refuse to let Satan win. I will run to my Savior and I will beg for him to protect me.

I’m not fighting this battle alone. Thank goodness!! It makes me sad to realize how awful this life can be, but it also makes me happy to know that this isn’t all there is! I’m gonna focus on the end goal. I’m gonna seek out happiness. I’m gonna do whatever it takes to not give in to my sinful self. And, I’m not gonna throw any tables around just yet.  I hope you see me trying, God. It’s so hard, but I am trying.” ~ excerpt from Smile Again, ©2017 by Emily Hubbert

 

Kindred Spirits

Standard
Kindred Spirits

A few weeks ago I was asked to speak at a ladies club meeting to be held at the public library in a local town. I was honored to be asked and excitedly marked the date on my calendar. The lady who contacted me was a very sweet woman with a wonderful Southern accent. We had several telephone conversations and I must say that I was more than a little bit excited to meet her in person.

When I walked into that library today, I honestly felt like I was on the set of Steel Magnolias. Mrs. Pat is one of the most vivacious, happy, outgoing women I have ever had the privilege to meet. She scooped me into a warm hug and introduced me to everyone in the room within minutes of my arrival. She spoke to both of the my girls; asked their names and ages; and then proceeded to introduce them to everyone in the room as well. All three of us were just kind of in awe for a few minutes. Kindness radiated from her very core and it didn’t take long to realize that everyone…young and old absolutely adored her.

Mrs. Pat introduced me to the crowd of about twenty ladies who were all a good bit ummmm…more mature than me. They had all gathered to hear my story and to talk about my book. Local authors, it seems tends to draw quite a crowd and each person wanted to hear about my book. I did not know before I started speaking that every lady seated around the room was a widow…except three or maybe four.

As I began to speak and share my story with the group I could feel God leading me to say some things that I haven’t said before. Now, I understand why. These ladies were kindred spirits. They had all walked the same road I am walking…and each one of them had a story that was just as raw and real as my own.

I talked for about thirty minutes and then the crowd lined up for me to sign their books. I was amazed as each lady told me snippets of her story as she passed through the line. The all had good Southern names like Barbara, Frankie, Joyce, Mary, Chloe, Dorothy, and Sarah. Most of them had children and grandchildren. Some had owned business. Some had been stay-at-home moms before there was such a thing. Some had been married for over 50 years…and one sweet lady had been widowed three times.

Listening to these ladies share their stories and seeing their faces as they talked opened my eyes to the truth of where we are: we are survivors. We are women who have dug deep into ourselves and our Bibles in order to keep on living. We have faced death and we made the decision to keep on going despite it. We face the same struggles, the same fears, the same sadness.

Frankie, who lost her husband just before Christmas kind of laughed through her tears when I quietly asked her if she was sleeping. She responded, “What’s that?”. “Oh, sweet lady,” I said, ” how I understand!”

And, Dorothy who drove from another county just to meet me. She told me our stories were very similar and she just wanted to meet me in person when she saw my article in the newspaper. The handwritten letter she slipped into my hand for me to read later proved that yes, yes our stories are very similar. I hope my eyes shine like hers when I am in my mid-eighties. I hope I seek out opportunities to be a blessing to others like she did for me today.

And, Joyce who was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 6 and lost her husband of over 40 years on June 10. She didn’t get to stop and grieve…she had to keep on going and she did. She’s doing great now. The smile on her face and the squaring of her shoulders proved it.

After each book was signed, Mrs. Pat invited everyone to go over to the local café for lunch. She had already reserved the side room and they were expecting us to be there…so we went. Maggie, Linnie, and I sat in the middle of a long table eating fried chicken, green beans, and chugging sweet tea as these wonderful ladies continued to share more of their lives with us.

We sat mesmerized as Mrs. Pat shared her kayaking adventure this past weekend…and we eagerly shared our own. We listened as tales were told of travels in the years past and plans for more in the future. We sat in awe of the colorful conversation about 3:00 a.m. games of Words with Friends. We listened as they talked about knowing each other was ok if they were up playing that “21st century game” in the wee hours of the morning. We laughed as Frankie smartly said, “I don’t CARE to be involved in the 21st century!” as Mrs. Pat teased her about her lack of knowledge in this area.

I also noticed that each lady had a piece of pie or caramel cake for dessert. I laughed when Linnie saw one lady eating more pie than chicken…Mrs. Pat noticed it too and made a comment about saving dessert for AFTER lunch. The lady smartly replied, “Why? It’s good and I always eat my dessert with my food. It makes everything else taste better”. Linnie shot me a look that clearly said, “SEE…she does it so why can’t I?”. The fact that the lady in trim, healthy, and in her mid-seventies kind of ruled out any reasons as to “why not”.

Maggie watched the ladies with a quietness that I often see her study things around her. She was soaking up everything each woman said and she was committing it to memory. We smiled at each other at one point because we both knew this was a day to remember.

Truvy I will forever treasure this day. Meeting these ladies. Seeing their smiles and hearing their laughter. I will remember them on the days I don’t think I can keep on going…and I will force myself to live each day to the fullest, because I saw them do it. I will continue to seek out the good times and I will let myself be sad over the old times. I will pick myself up and dust off my britches…and I will square my shoulders and keep on going. I believe my girls will also.

Thank you, God for today. Thank you for showing me what it looks like down the road. Thank you for showing me love and for the assurance that one day I will feel that emotion way down deep inside my heart again. I won’t be in survival mode forever…one day I’ll really be living again. I know that now, because of today. And, I am so thankful.

 

Prepare to be Amazed…

Standard
Prepare to be Amazed…

Do you keep a journal? I admit, I am not the most consistent journal keeper…but I have kept one (or more like seven!) over the past few years. This morning I decided to go back and read some of them.

Y’all…I am AMAZED at what I wrote! AMAZED I tell ya!

See, 2005 through 2012 were some really difficult years for me. I was desperate for change in my life and no matter how hard I tried it just seemed to get harder and harder. I wanted OUT of my stress filled life. I was sick of my life in general. I had put myself on auto pilot and was just kind of drifting through life with no real purpose. I guess you could say I was just going through the motions. I wasn’t really living.

On October 10, 2009 (My birthday!) I went to a Beth Moore conference in Memphis, TN with the ladies from my church. Here is what I wrote in my journal when I got home: “What a wonderful weekend! I enjoyed it [conference] so much! God has so much to say and I am trying to learn how I should listen. I tend to get in my own way too often.” Then, I listed my prayer concerns and numbered them.

Here is number 7:

     My dreams:

  1. Get my house back if it is God’s will
  2. Write a book in Your name (God’s name)
  3. Travel far and wide with my family
  4. The dreams You have for me ~ that they will be revealed in Your Time!

On June 23, 2011 I wrote:

 “Today is the first day of the rest of my life! Three years of emotional healing are complete ~ now the physical healing begins. We are moving back home soon. Being back on our land will be very exciting. God says, ‘I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper and heal you~ I believe that! The hard work is about to start, however I know that God has my back! I CAN do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me! My list of long term goals and my bucket list follows. These are the things I want and pray that God allows me to do one day.’

Number One? TRAVEL!!!!

Number Seven? Hike as many mountain trails as possible!

Number Nine? Write a Book!

Number Eleven? Go Ziplining!!!

Do you have goosebumps yet? I know I do!!! As I kept reading I saw several exercises that I did that aligned with some books I was reading at the time. One such exercise came from The Path by Laurie Beth Jones. Here is what I wrote:

“My mission is to Appreciate, Motivate, and Write about Life for my family and other families. I want to travel near and far to reach out to those families. My dream life would look like this: I would be traveling often. I would be talking to many people and enjoying the small things more. I would be making people laugh and I would enjoy working. My kids would travel with me and we would try every new adventure we could find. I would write several books and put a fun spin on the everyday ordinary life – and get paid to write instead of writing for free. People would seek me out and ask me to speak. God, my savior would be glorified through me always”.

Andy Andrews said yesterday (on the CD I was listening to in my car…we are buds…he just hasn’t realized it yet! Ha!!) that we are in control of the path our lives take. We get to choose what happens and we set those things in motion when we write them down and persist without exception. I think he may be on to something there!! LOL

I am sharing this with y’all today because I KNOW that some of you are living on autopilot just like I was in 2009. I know that you are desperate for change and for things to get better. I know how lonely, desperate, and yep…jealous I was during that time in my life. I thought the grass was greener everywhere, but where I was and I wanted an easy way out of my misery….but I was WRONG!

Andy reminded me yesterday that the mountain tops are bare…and cold…and it’s hard to breathe. But, we find trees and flowers and living things in the valleys! Reaching the mountain top is a good goal…but we can’t stay there once we reach the top. We have to go back down and walk through the valleys again to gain the strength we need to climb the next mountain and reach the next goal. Reading my old journals reminded me that I have been walking towards a new mountain for a while now.

I never saw my life being like it is today. I didn’t see the devastating blow that would send me into a tail spin. I didn’t calculate that particular detail into my master plan…but you know what? I’m still moving towards my mountain top. I still have the same core goals that I have always had…I still have dreams of doing great things for God’s kingdom. I didn’t loose those dreams when my world imploded…they grew!

I hope this post encourages someone today. I hope that you see HOPE in your own future. I hope you are not nearly as miserable as I was (and still am some days). I hope you will set your life in motion and start walking towards your life mission. The only person that can start that process is YOU. Best of luck to ya…and remember you are not alone on your journey.

 

Does It Ever End or Get Better?

Standard
Does It Ever End or Get Better?

So, I need to vent for a minute. One year ago today I lost my grandmother. Today, I lost my great-uncle. I am in a never-ending war with my emotions. My anniversary was last weekend. Linnie’s birthday is this coming weekend. My house is not finished. I managed to hurt my back working on the house Saturday. I have four upcoming speaking engagements and YES, I am going back to work at WES in August. My grandfather is not doing well at all (he started radiation today).  I have to move into the house without Greg’s things: which means that I have to actually go through his closet and drawers soon. I have a list of people who need to grow up and get over themselves because their childishness is affecting my children and I won’t play nice much longer where my girls are involved. Basically, I am teetering on the edge of a massive nervous breakdown and all I want to do is go to sleep and forget about all of it. I have been so ill and plain out hateful to some of the kindest people in my life lately…and I could literally chew through nails at the moment. The only question circling through my mind over and over is: Does It Ever End or Get Better?

As I drove home from yet another trip to Lowes this afternoon, I was listening to Andy Andrews on my CD player. I have read The Noticer, The Noticer Returns, and now I am listening to Becoming a Noticer.  I realized in November 2012 that I needed to change some things in my life. A friend suggested that I start reading Andy’s books…and my life literally changed from that point forward. I did not realize how much it had changed until this afternoon!

It hit me as I drove home that I had written down a list of goals in 2012. I had that list tucked away in a cabinet…and I swiftly pulled that baby out as soon as I got home. I had written 122 things that I wanted to “acquire, become, see, get, and do in the next 10 years”. Do you know how many of those things I was able to check off the list today?

70….

Seventy things like: Travel, Granite Countertops, Write a Book, Public Speaking, Smile Often, Meet New People, Have More Friends, Laugh A Lot, Help People, Study My Bible More, Share My Successes, Lead-Not Follow, Go See My Friends in Iowa, Take My Whole Extended Family on a Trip, Buy myself a Red/White Checkered Hand-Made Quilt, See My Girls Saved and Baptized, Love Unconditionally, Take 2 to 3 Week Vacations, Buy a Good Camera, Be Happy, Publish a Book, and Enjoy Everyday…

As I looked over that list of things I deemed important for myself and my family way back in 2012, I realized that on this particular day…I had dropped the ball. I gave in to my hurt…my anger…my pain. I longed for the days that used to be. I grieved for the passing of my loved ones. I got mad about the things I truly cannot do anything about…And, I asked myself over and over again if it will ever end or get better. July 11th  will always be a sad day for me and my family, but so will a whole lot of other days if I CHOOSE to allow them to stay sad.

Did you catch that? Sadness…just like happiness…is a choice. I can choose to stay sad…or I can choose to remember things about my loved ones that make me happy. Emotionally, it is good that I am sad for the losses me and my family have suffered so overwhelmingly lately, because it means that we truly LOVED. Having loved is a gift.

I sit here tonight and I realize that my stinkin’ thinkin’ was in overload today…but I will try again tomorrow.

I am sad…and being sad is OK.

Choosing to stay sad is not OK.

I have to choose to keep on going. Keep on living. Keep on doing the things that make me happy. Keep on fighting for my girls’ happiness. Part of me is really jealous that Me-Maw, Greg, Aunt Martha, and now Uncle Gene are already in Heaven. They don’t have to fight these emotional battles anymore…and that must be very nice. One day…that will be me.

Until then, I guess I’ll just stay here and stay real. Life is no bed of roses. It is HARD. Some days I’m sure you wonder if it will ever end too…right? I’m willing to bet you do!

Even with all of the horrible, tragic, unnecessary things going on in the world today we can all do one thing: We can choose to LOVE one another! We can choose not to give up or give in. We can make the decision every moment of every day to just love the people in our lives…and by doing so we won’t have to worry about when or if life’s misery will ever end. Misery is never going to end in this world, but take heart…Jesus has overcome the world and HE is coming back for His children soon. I, personally can not wait!

Choose to love each other…and yourselves while we are here y’all. Choose it…chase it…express it…and never, ever give up on it. Love until it hurts…and then love some more. Together, we can make it to the finish line!

FREE…like FREE, FREE?!

Standard
FREE…like FREE, FREE?!

Y’all…I don’t even know where to start! Over the past week I have had: my first radio interview, two book signings, a newspaper interview, six hundred (or very near!) text messages, phone calls, and Facebook posts, and who knows how many hugs. I literally cannot even begin to tell y’all how blown away I have been by all of your responses to Burdens!

When God put it on my heart to write this book, I was one more scared person. I had always wanted to write a book, but I never had a story. When God told me that the story I was supposed to write was my own…I didn’t believe that I could do it. Yes, I knew I could write…but I didn’t know I had the courage or the strength to let my life be an open book…literally!!!

The response to the book has been so encouraging…and so overwhelming! Everyday it seems to just get bigger and bigger! It’s fun to me that the ladies at the Post Office know me now…and they have been so very helpful! I love the fact that I have mailed books literally all across the U.S. because someone personally asked me to or because I wanted to say “thank you” to various people who have helped me and the girls over the past nine months.

My small little brain cannot comprehend the fact that so many people have read my story. I am just so humbled by the unbelievable response to my book. Every signing I have on my calendar is there because someone asked me to come to their town and share my story. Every church event, ladies event, and speaking engagement I have been asked to attend is because someone heard my story and was touched by it. That is alllllllllll God y’all!!

If you ask any author how hard it is to sell their books…they can come up with a hundred different reasons that explain how hard selling books can be. They all have a list of rejections…no’s…and excuses as to why their books aren’t selling. 99% of them only want their book to sell so that they can make money. And, making money is a great reason to write books…it’s a great reason to try to push the sale of a book…but that’s not my purpose for writing Burdens.

My purpose is to spread HOPE. I want to share with everyone how great God is and how He truly cares for the smallest details in our lives. I want to show the world that no matter how much you mess up or how far away you are from God…He still sees you and He will always love you.

I am so thankful that the book is selling, but it is more important to me that people be able to read it and share it with others. So, I have decided that everyone who wants a copy of my book should have one! Right now there are 150 copies of Burdens floating around for FREE. If you catch one…shoot me a text or email and let me know how you got it!  God is using Burdens to bring people to Christ…and I am so grateful that He called me to write and enjoy this part of the story.

Keep those eyes peeled y’all…because you NEVER know where you might find the next copy lying around! Of course, you can always keep on buying them and send them to all of the people you know all over creation…I’m totally ok with seeing new reviews and tags!  I don’t know and won’t know until sometime in November how many books have sold online for May, June, and July…So…share and share alike people!! To God be the Glory, because this is HIS story after all…I’m just along for the ride!

 

The Roller Coaster Ride

Standard

Hey Y’all!!! I am so sorry it has been so long since my last blog post! My only excuse is I have been BUSY!!! Since we got home from our AMAZING trip across the US I have worked practically non-stop on my house. We are getting soooooooo close to finishing it!! Yay…if we can keep from falling apart from exhaustion we should be finished in a couple of weeks. Pray for that…Please!

Today’s blog post is going to be about this roller coaster ride I have been on here lately with grief. By now you all know that my family loves amusement parks…right? Well, if you didn’t know…now you do! We LOVE them!

During our stop in Branson, we spent a day at Silver Dollar City. It was awesome! We rode every roller coaster there…well Bo and Maggie did! Garrett and I chickened out on one of them called “The Powder Keg”. There’s just something about being shot like a bullet from 0 to 70 mph in three seconds, then dropping straight down only to end the fall in a double loop that just scares me silly. Ya know?

Anyway, Bo and Maggie called us every kind of chicken on earth and then some because we would not ride it with them. We tried…even got in line…then decided we needed to go to the restroom so we lost our spot. That wasn’t intentional or anything…

We watched them shoot out of the little building and were immediately reassured that we did NOT want to get on that coaster. The fear of riding it overshadowed the fun we might experience if we got on it. I was good with giving in to that fear…still am. Bo and Maggie thought it was the best one they had ever ridden. Whatever.

I was sitting here thinking about that roller coaster and God showed me that I am on an even scarier roller coaster ride in real life at the moment. C.S. Lewis wrote in A Greif Observed: “In grief, nothing ‘stays put’. One keeps emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I’m on a spiral? But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?”

I have gone through some major spirals here lately. I thought for a while there that I was making good progress trying to find my feet in life again…and I was! Then, I went tumbling down again and I realized that I still have a long way to go. And, you know what? That is ok!

I have a hard time giving myself permission to grieve. I have a hard time grasping the truth of my life. I was talking to my Mama about all of it the other day and she shared a message her preacher talked about last Sunday. The message was about Jesus when he calmed the storm. (Matthew 8:18, 23-27; Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25).

Like most people when I have read that story in the past I have always thought that the amazing part was that Jesus spoke to the wind and waves and they obeyed him…and that part is amazing. BUT, it is not the part we should focus on!

If you go back to the beginning of the passage you see that Jesus said, “Let us go over to the other side”. So, they all got in the boat and set sail. Jesus was very tired. Like, very, very tired (I know how he felt!) so he laid down and went to sleep. He was calm, cool, and collected. He relaxed and went to sleep. A storm came up “suddenly” yet he still slept. Everyone around him on the boat started freaking out! Yet, Jesus slept. They actually had to wake him up when they got so scared that they didn’t know what else to do.

When Jesus woke up he asked them, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”. See, Jesus had told them what was going to happen before he ever went to sleep. He said, “Let us go over to the other side”. The storm was irrelevant, because He had determined to go to the other side. The storm that caused everyone else on the boat to freak out didn’t mean a thing to Jesus, because He knew it couldn’t kill him…or hurt him…or destroy him. So, he went to sleep with complete confidence that no matter what…he and his shipmates were going to reach the other side. Man! Isn’t that awesome?

So many times lately I have found myself in the middle of the storm. Wringing my hands, crying out for help, and shaking with fear…but God has already shown me how it ends. If you have read my book, Burdens then you know he gave me that answer in Jeremiah 33:10-14.

This roller coaster ride called grief is tough. It is not fun at all, but I am on it and there are no other choices except to ride it out until the end. I don’t know when the end will come, but what I do know is that God has promised me that it will end and I will be restored.

When we love someone or something…it always ends in sadness. Did you know that? I haven’t ever thought about it, but its true. I read a blog this morning and this is part of what it said:

“When we accept the reality of heartbreak, it can open our hearts to love, rather than keep us from it. Here’s why: If we are afraid of getting hurt and insist on arranging our lives to avoid grief, we forfeit the chance to love because, as Lewis stated, grief and pain are always love’s price tags. On the flip side, when we accept the inevitability of heartbreak, we are one step closer to developing the courage it takes to love, no matter the cost.”

I hope this helps someone besides me! It takes courage to keep going when you have a broken heart. It takes courage to let yourself love someone again. It takes courage to say that the pain of loss is worth the risk of letting go and allowing your heart to love again.

And, when I say love again I mean love at all.

Love for yourself.

Love for your kids.

Love for your family.

Love for your friends.

Love for your future spouse.

Allowing love AT ALL takes courage. Just like stepping onto that roller coaster takes courage. Just like crossing the sea in a storm takes courage, choosing to allow love to flow through you after you have been crushed takes courage.

I am praying daily for God to continue to give me courage. I don’t know how long I will live on this Earth, but I do know I want to love again. I want to be happy and I want to live for God, because He loves me more than I will ever realize. He loves you too and wants that for all of us.

As I keep moving along this roller coaster ride, I am looking for fun and trying to let go of fear. It’s not easy. In fact, it is the toughest thing I have ever done! But, God has given me the ending and I may be riding the roller coaster through the storm…but I will be ok. I’m pretty thankful for that knowledge this morning!

Have a happy day y’all! I hope to see y’all again real soon!

 

Ol’ Teddy Roosevelt & Me

Standard

Did you know that there are two national parks dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt? They are located fifty miles apart in the southwestern corner of North Dakota. I didn’t know about them before we set out on our trip, but my aunt and uncle wanted to make sure we saw them, (they have been to most all of the others already!). I was just thrilled to be going to North Dakota, so it didn’t matter to me what we were actually going to see!

We visited the South Park first. The landscape was absolutely beautiful! The deep valleys looked like the Grand Canyon. It’s rocky, steep, colorful, and filled with various trees. Standing on the top edge is just breathtaking! We made the thirty-mile trek around the park and were rewarded with numerous bison, antelope, horse, and prairie dog sightings. The beauty of this place cannot be accurately explained or photographed. One must simply stand there and soak it in to understand how wonderful the land itself truly is.

IMG_6135

When we had finished the loop road we stopped by the visitor’s center to use the restroom. The visitor’s center is packed with great information about Mr. Roosevelt. I had blindly walked past an information board on my way inside, but Uncle Jimmy told me to stop and read it when I came back outside. Boy, am I ever glad he did!

I knew that Teddy Roosevelt was responsible for the National Park system and I also knew that he was a very conservative president. We have access to all of the amazing National Parks across the US today because of his foresight and willingness to go above and beyond to ensure that they will always be available to every American. Honestly, what he did and the lengths he was willing to go to in order to ensure that the land remained untouched and available for everyone to enjoy is awe inspiring in itself. But, do you know why he was so determined to preserve the land?

As I stood there and read the explanation on that board outside the visitor’s center in Medora, ND I had a moment of connection with a man that I will never meet…and it was earth shaking.

IMG_6191

Just behind the visitor’s center stands a small log cabin. I read that this was the cabin Teddy moved in to when he came west. The name of the cabin is “The Maltese Cross Cabin” and it was the first sight he saw as he stepped off of the train from the east.

IMG_6195

Do you know why he came west all those years ago? I didn’t…but now I do.

IMG_6201

Theodore Roosevelt came out west to grieve. He had just lost his wife and his mother. He came west to learn how to live again. He came west to figure out how to start over. I sure did not learn that little piece of information in any of my history classes!

As I read his story, with my hand on Maggie’s shoulder…I realized that God lead me to this place for a reason. Of all of the informational boards I could have read, this one was meant to bring clarity to my mind and…to my heart.

Maggie asked why I was tearing up and so I told her the story in an abbreviated version. This is what I said, “President Roosevelt came here to heal. His wife and his mama had died, so he came here to try to find a way to get past his grief.” Maggie stood there and took a deep breath. Then, (with more maturity and understanding than any ten-year-old should possess) she calmly said, “He was just like us, Mama. He came out here to this beautiful land and he learned how to live again didn’t he? Is that why they named this park after him? Because he learned how to live again?”

Softly, through the huge lump in my throat I said, “Yes, baby. Mr. Roosevelt did learn how to live again and he went on to do some really amazing things with his life. Heck, he became the President of the United States! I would say that he did indeed learn how to live again.” She said, “We are learning how to live again too. I am so glad we came out here. This has been the best trip ever. I love you, Mama.”

And, that my friends is the reason we travel! Maggie would never have learned this lesson inside of a classroom. I know that she will always remember Teddy Roosevelt. I don’t think she will wonder what kind of man he was when she hears his name mentioned in some history class one day.

Today, standing in a National Park with her Mama she learned that even the President of the United States has to start over sometimes. She learned that starting over can’t always happen in the same place where the pain hit. She learned that leaving home doesn’t always mean you will be gone forever. She learned that pain takes time to move beyond. And, she learned that this trip was planned all those months ago to help the three of us heal. She got it…and she loved me for it.

IMG_6282

Next, don’t think for one minute that the fact that the cabin Teddy lived in being named the “Maltese Cross Cabin” was missed by either one of us.

The Maltese cross means a whole lot to me and my girls. (Click to find out why!) It was tattooed on Greg’s back. It reminds us of him every time we see one. The name of that cabin mattered all those years ago to Teddy Roosevelt because he found healing inside of it. It mattered to three girls from Alabama today as they looked inside of it and realized that they are finding healing one day at a time. It is not easy…it is not fast…it is not finished, but it is happening and we are so thankful to be where we are at this moment in time. It has taken a whole lot of prayer, courage, and determination to get to where we are  and there hasn’t been one thing easy about it.

Please take just a moment and read these plaques…

IMG_6199IMG_6196IMG_6197IMG_6200

Do you see what I mean? Amazing isn’t it?!

As I looked into the distance beyond the cabin I realized that if Teddy Roosevelt could come here to heal and find out who he was meant to be; so can we. I am most certain that when he spent all of those long days riding horses and rounding up cattle in the cold winter snow and hot summer sun he never imagined himself becoming the President of the United States one day.

I choked up again as I looked down and saw the announcement for my first book signing on my phone. I had received a message today during lunch about my upcoming event and was overcome with excitement when I saw it. I don’t know what God has planned, but I know that the struggles I am facing are preparing me for a future that I can’t even imagine. And the best part? My girls are realizing that they can’t imagine how amazing their lives are gonna be either!

God is so good! As we pulled into the highway leaving the park, I looked out across the open land and saw this beautiful rainbow. IMG_6432The promise that God sent to Noah so long ago is the same promise He gave me today. He will never destroy His people again. He will make us strong enough to endure whatever this life throws at us. I’m reasonably sure ol’ Teddy saw a few of those rainbows across this beautiful land himself all those years ago. And, I mean he did become THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES y’all!!!!

I will never, ever, ever forget how I felt standing there on the same piece of ground that Mr. Roosevelt stood on all those years ago. I will never, ever, ever forget the feelings I had inside when I knew that my ten-year-old daughter fully understood why we were on this amazing road trip. I will never, ever, ever forget how much God loves us and plans out the smallest details of our lives in advance. Teddy Roosevelt didn’t know me, but I will never forget him or his story.

IMG_6203

Ten Road Trip Rules for 2016

Standard

Road trips are awesome! Like really, really, REALLY awesome! I personally love this type of vacation more than any other type. Mainly because I get bored easily…and because I am an adventure junkie and always looking for the next exciting adventure! Thankfully, I come from a long line of people just like me so we travel well together!

My girls, two aunts, one uncle, one cousin, and myself are all on a three week road trip together right now. This is not our first road trip together and certainly won’t be our last. I would say at this point we collectively have enough knowledge between us for me to write a blog about the ten rules everyone needs to know and follow before setting off on a grand adventure cross country in your car!

Here are what we believe to be the 10 most important rules everyone must follow on a road trip:

Rule #1: Love who you travel with! Being locked up in a vehicle with anyone for three weeks is hard no matter how much you love and adore said person(s). It really does help if you have a great relationship prior to setting off on your adventure. Humor goes a long way in this type of environment as well!

Rule #2: Be flexible!! I cannot stress this one enough! When you are on a road trip you may not make it to the destination that you thought you would make it to when you looked at the map originally. You may not be able to eat at the same time that you normally would eat each day. The people you love may not want to eat the same foods that you are craving at the moment. There may be things that the other folks want to do or see that simply bore you to tears…but guess what? The same goes for the things YOU like or want to do! Just be willing to roll with the flow and everyone will have a good time.

If the group has ONE person who is mostly in charge…who is THE MOST flexible…who will be willing to set a course that MOST will enjoy and be willing to change direction mid-stream if that’s what the majority seems to want…then you will be golden! Our leader on this trip is my Uncle Jimbo. He planned our original route and has readjusted the route several times to accommodate all of the women traveling with him. He’s a good, good man! Always take an “Uncle Jimbo” with you when you go on road trips!

Rule #3: Pack light! Road trips mean just that…you are on the road a lot! So, you don’t want to drag a whole bunch of stuff in and out of hotels/motels/cabins/cottages/tents every single night! Just take a few essential items and leave the rest at home. Odds are…you will bring home a lot of junk anyway. Don’t drag it all with you in the beginning! (Why oh WHY did I not write this blog before we headed out? I always pack ENTIRELY too much JUNK! Ugh…)

Rule #4: Wear comfy clothes in layers! Road trips usually carry you into unfamiliar places. Those places generally have different climates, weather patterns, and elevations. If you have on layers (or if you pack layers) you will be able to add to or take off clothing so that you remain comfortable. Road trips are NOT the place for dressy clothing, heels, or lots of accessories. Just gather the basics and be prepared to wash your clothes somewhere along the way. Trust me…I saw a lady in her mid-sixties walking around in Keystone, SD with heels on. She not only looked miserable…she made me miserable watching her because it was raining and 43 degrees. That is NOT high heel weather in a mountain town!

Secondly, you will be sitting and riding a lot. Don’t wear tight or binding clothing (especially girls!) because those long stretches between potty-breaks may lead to unwanted infections or irritations. Go comfy or stay home. Being healthy is more important than being cute when you are thousands of miles away from home. Besides, you are on vacation…nobody knows you anyway! Ha!

Rule #5: Take your kids! Yes, really. Take your kids with you hit the open road! There are so many fun experiences out there…and kids can have the best learning experiences ever just by going on cool road trip vacations. Classrooms, books, and computers can’t teach kids what traveling can. There is no better teacher than the open road.

Quick traveling tips for kids:

  1. Take along the movies and electronics for long stretches on the road, but take them away when the car stops. The only exception is for taking pictures…and NOT just selfies! Don’t allow those gadgets during short trips or for less than an hour of travel time. Kids tend to zone out…which is not what road trips are about! Fully engage your child in the activity you are participating in at the moment…and be excited about it! Excitement is contagious!
  2. Pack LOTS and LOTS of snacks! Believe me…you will be glad you have them on hand and readily available!
  3. Stop and look at cool things often. Getting out of the car to see a historical marker or never heard of monument provides movement and photo ops. Everyone needs this, but kids really need it about every two hours or so.
  4. Take ‘hands on’ things to do in the car (like coloring books, games, cards, or whatever) to keep their hands (and minds) moving!
  5. Use the travel time to talk, sing, laugh, and enjoy each others company. Quality time is so easy to stock up on when there’s nothing happening but tires humming on the asphalt!

Rule #6: Use the resources you have near you at the moment to find the coolest stuff! With technology these days, finding cool stuff to see and do on the road has never been easier. Just download good travel apps (my go to is TripAdvisor); google your current town/location; or stop and ask a local where the best things to do and/or eat are in the area. I love asking the locals’ opinion! They haven’t let me down but a handful of times over the years. Go for it!

Rule #7: Make sure to get plenty of rest. Generally speaking, riding in a car usually doesn’t make you very tired…unless you are doing it for 4-9 hours a day for several consecutive days! Driving, riding, getting in and out, seeing so many new things, eating different foods, walking around cool sites, hauling luggage in and out of lodging, and taking a cazillion pictures tends to wear people out.

Pace yourself! No matter how well intentioned a person might be….they will never be able to do or see it all. Never! So, give yourself some grace and time to rest if you feel yourself getting bone weary. Spend two nights in one place instead of one. Slow down and don’t try to drive as far as you thought you could originally. Be flexible!! Remember…it is a vacation after all. You don’t have to be going ninety to nothing if you are tired. That’s just for when you are at home! LOL

Rule #8: Take Pictures! I mean take thousands of pictures! You can always delete them later, but you can’t take them after you miss the moment. We are on Day 6 of 20 and I have taken over 2,500 pictures on my camera alone. That does not count the ones on my phone and my kids’ iPads.

Pictures can never do justice to how beautiful and vast our country’s scenery truly is, but if you take pictures you will at least be able to go back in your mind and recall how you felt standing on the edge of a cliff; or in the middle of a wide open prairie when you are telling people about your trip one day. Think of pictures as the notes you take in class. They will serve as great reminders of things you forgot you had experienced.

Rule #9: Share your experiences on social media! We live in a digital world. Everyone has a social media account of some sort. It is so easy to leave feedback for everything from food to lodging these days. That feedback helps other people who dare to try new adventures themselves. So…check-in, tweet, tag, post, and rate every part of your road trip journey. You will be surprised how many things you discover because someone else suggested a site or place that you had no clue existed. I have been so thankful for my friends’ suggestions and advice!  You never know what might become your most favorite memory of all.

Rule #10: Road trips do not have to cost a fortune! 2016 happens to be the centennial year for our National Park service. Every 4th grader in America qualifies for a free voucher…meaning everyone in the car with that 4th grader (or senior adult!) gets in FREE! Ah…who doesn’t love FREE?!

The U.S. has so many neat and amazing things to do and see in our national parks. Just look up “Every Kid in a Park”, fill out the online form, PRINT IT OUT, and hit the road. Easy-peasy!

Also, if you travel in groups there are tons of discounts available. In our case, we share hotel rooms as much as possible. If we stay on the current average my 20 day road trip will cost me less than ONE WEEK at the Beach!! Yes, you read that correctly! And, we have not stayed in a sleazy hotel yet! In fact, we have had extremely nice accommodations the whole time.

One more way to save major bucks is to eat breakfast for FREE at your hotel and then eat again mid-afternoon. This saves you lots of money by not eating the higher priced meals late in the evening and if you pack your own snacks or sandwich foods from home you can stop anywhere and enjoy a picnic as you travel. Those are the best meals…and kids LOVE it! By saving daily on meals, you can afford to splurge when you find really neat, fun places along your way!

Great road trips are filled with long stretches without food, spotty to no cell/internet service, miles of pavement, and boring moments when no one really has anything to say, but guess what? THAT IS OK!!!

Boredom is an emotion that we need to learn to cope with just like anger, gladness, and even sadness. Boredom is a part of life and we all need to learn to cope with it. Just like anything else in life the only way to get better at something is to exercise. I tell my kids all the time that it is perfectly ok to be bored…as long as we know how to act when we are bored! I gotta say, they are pretty awesome at occupying themselves these days.

I hope these ten rules help…and I hope that I have inspired someone else to hit the road one day. Road trips are so much fun, but so many times people are afraid to go on an unconventional vacation. If you are scared…start small. Try a long weekend somewhere new and see how it goes.

You never know…you might just end up becoming a road trip king or queen like us!

Happy and Safe Trails Y’all!

Family Forever

Standard

I am amazed that the 2016-17 school year will mark the 20th year since I graduated high school. I’m not real sure if anyone else feels the same as me….but that’s just CRAZINESS!!! There is no way that it’s been 20 years since I graduated high school!

Today, I was reminded that yep…it has in fact been that long. Ugh. Sigh. Weep. Wail.

I went to school at a small…and I do mean small…high school in Millport, Alabama. There were 42 people in my graduating class. It was the kind of place where everyone knew everyone and NO ONE got away with anything. If you drove through town too fast it was reported to your Mama by somebody else’s Mama who was pumping gas and saw you before you got home. Y’all know that’s true! We…mostly me….could not get away with anything if we wanted to.

I guess you could say that for the most part, everyone at my school was close. We really didn’t have a choice. It was be close or leave town…either way you still saw the same people in every class and at lunch everyday. New kids didn’t stay new long around that joint. The lunchroom ladies take it as a personal offense if they can’t call each kid by name as they come through the line. And, not only do they know each kid…they know which team the kid pulls for. Alabama, Auburn, or Mississippi State. That’s the only choices a kid has around those parts. We don’t really acknowledge any other teams. Sorry (well…not sorry).

Anyway, our school counselor set up a student exchange program with a school in Fredericksburg, IA a few years before my senior year. The program was designed to show us small town rednecks from the South how small town rednecks from the North lived and vice versa. The program took place every other year so that Juniors and Seniors could participate if they met the requirements. Basically, half of our high school left town every other year to live with assigned families in a small, frozen Iowa town during the middle of January. Then, in April those poor frozen kids from up North came down South to thaw out. It. Was. AWESOME!

I remember meeting Carrie at the airport in Cedar Rapids. She was surrounded by all of the other Iowa kids and didn’t seem real sure about this country girl who loved fishing and hunting!! LOL…she just knew they had given her the wrong person as her “match”. Little did she (or I) know how much we would come to love one another!

I spent a week living in her home with her mom (Lorraine), dad (Ray), and brother (Kyle). 12670483_10153453897145770_5805361144476444923_nWe had so much fun! The whole experience was fantastic and I hated to leave when they told us to load up for the trip home.

Carrie is a crier…like major crier. Bless her heart…she bawled her eyes out that day! Honestly, we all did! I had promised her and the rest of her family that I would come back to visit one day. Twenty years later I made good on that promise!

I was so happy to know that I was going to get to spend some time with her today. When we planned our road trip last fall, I told Uncle Jimmy that if we crossed the Iowa state line at any point on the trip I had to see Carrie. He planned it so that we passed right by her house on our way North. My Uncle Jimbo is pretty awesome!

When we arrived, Carrie and her boyfriend Dewand had fixed us a great lunch of grilled burgers, brats, and hotdogs. We also had grilled potatoes, baked beans, and her grandmother’s cookies!!!! Oh yeah…food fit for a king! 20160521_130749

I wasn’t sure, but I had hoped that the rest of the family might be there as well…and they were!! It was so much fun introducing my girls to my Iowa family and remembering the great times we had all those years ago. We played corn hole, took pictures from every direction, and laughed a whole lot. Ray is the Fire Chief in Fredericksburg and he brought us patches and coozies to take home. Yes, I love that little “coincidence”. The whole family also brought me Alabama balloons from the National Championship game in January. Yes…they are just that awesome!!

Carrie has made the trip South several times over the years, but the last time I saw her was two weeks before my wedding…which would have been the end of  June, 1999. I had forgotten exactly when it was that she and Natalie (another exchange student friend) came to visit the last time. That was 17 years ago! I am telling you one thing…time flies people. Time….FLIES!!!

 IMG_3680

One thing I learned today…no matter how much times passes between visits…family is always family and friends are always friends. I loved my Iowa experience and I continue to love my Iowa family. I refuse to let twenty years pass by before our next visit and that’s a fact!

Day 2 of the 2016 road trip was wonderful and definitely a day we won’t forget anytime soon! There is just no telling what Day 3 will bring! One thing I do know…I LOVE having friends scattered all over the country!! If I have friends in South Dakota…I’d love to hear from you! I’ll be in your neck of the woods soon!

Oh No…I Blinked!

Standard

You know the saying “a day late and a dollar short”? Well, this post is a day late, but no amount of money would cover how special it is!

Yesterday, my sweet Maggs turned 10.I honestly have no idea how that is even possible; but she has assured me numerous times that it is…for a FACT…true. I mean where did all of that time go?! When you are young ten years seems like an eternity! When you are a mom…it’s feels like a nanosecond! People always tell you not to blink…but we don’t usually listen. I shoulda listened!!!

Ten years ago today, I was 27 years old. I had just finished my first year of teaching; the Saturday before we had moved into our house that we  built ourselves; and on this day both Maggie and I were fighting for our lives in the hospital.

It took Greg and I seven years to get pregnant with Maggie. We fought every battle you could fight trying to get pregnant and our infertility road was long and hard. After six years we decided to go to the specialist in Birmingham to see if we had a chance of ever having a baby “of our own”. Dr. Long and his staff gave us encouraging news and a plan to follow. Six months later we found out we were expecting our miracle.

I went to Birmingham once a week for fourteen weeks in the beginning of my pregnancy. I had lost two previous babies and we were not taking any chances with this one. Seeing that little blob grow each week was wonderful for me. I loved watching that baby grow and change and would show anyone breathing the sonogram pics after each appointment. 20160518_174046 Most folks would think it was a no brainer that I would want to know the gender of my sweet miracle since I had so many sonograms already right? Wrong!

When the time came to find out the sex of our child, I did not want to know what “it” was. There are so few real surprises in life and I really wanted to be surprised with this one. Greg on the other hand did not!

So, we made a deal that he could find out what we were having, but he could NOT tell a soul and ruin the surprise for me! Let me tell you…that man had a GREAT time keeping our families and friends guessing! He would tell one person it was a boy and the next it was a girl. They all thought they had it figured out…only they really didn’t! Our mothers HATED it! LOL!!

Anyway, I went in to be induced at 38 weeks and everyone was over the moon excited. I had to stay on blood thinners throughout my entire pregnancy so I had a few high risk problems that we needed to watch carefully during labor and delivery. After three failed epidurals, twenty-seven hours of labor, fifteen hours of my water being broken, and three and a half-hours of pushing I was begging for someone to knock me out and do a C-section. Thankfully, that’s just what Dr. Jim decided to do.

I was put under general anesthesia and Greg was not allowed to be in the operating room. The waiting room was filled with all of our worn out families and friends. Greg stood at the end of the hallway (in sight of our families) and waited for them to bring the baby out. 20160518_174848Only, when they brought the baby out it was by a team of NICU doctors and nurses who were working to stabilize the baby as they ran past him in the hallway. There was no big celebration or excitement like we had planned. There was only quiet and a whole lot of tears.

Finally, after about ten minutes my mother asked Greg what the baby was (we had names for a boy and girl) so that they could pray for him/her by name. He quietly said it was a girl and so she told everyone to pray for Maggie…and they did.

That was the first of many prayers said on her behalf. We spent the next twenty-two days inside the hospital.

We didn’t know it at the time, but I had tested negative on my group B strep test and it was a false negative. So, those fifteen hours Maggie spent inside of me after my water had been broken she had been exposed to the virus. Group B is only a problem during labor and delivery. I spent the next five days fighting a 105 degree fever and talking out of my head while Maggie was hooked up to all kinds of machines and having spinal tap after spinal tap in order to check for meningitis. We both had a hard fight on our hands to just stay alive.

On the fifth day, my fever broke. That’s the day they finally told me that my baby was a girl.

I remember seeing her for the first time. One of the NICU nurses brought her to my room (secretly!) on her way to get yet another spinal tap. My mother had told them that I needed to see my baby. I was convinced that my baby had died and that everyone was lying to me. I cried buckets when I saw her sweet face for the first time.

20160518_173532                 20160518_173712

Later that afternoon, they took me to the NICU in a wheelchair so that I could see her for a few minutes. That was the first of MANY trips to that NICU for me! Over the course of the next twenty-two days I only left the hospital twice. Once to go get a breast pump so I could give her breastmilk and once to go eat supper just to get out of those hospital walls. We stayed in the medical tower and I walked back and forth all day and night taking my milk to them for each feeding and just to see for myself that she was alive. I lived in fear every minute that she wasn’t going to make it.

The day we came home was happy and very, very scary! I was so not ready to be alone with this baby! I was so used to buzzers and beepers and people who knew way more than me about what to do if there was a problem. Yet, they all assured me that we would be fine…and they told me that I had didn’t have to go home, but I couldn’t stay there anymore! Somehow Greg and I managed to take that sweet baby home and keep her alive despite ourselves…and our fears!

I have said many prayers of thankfulness over the past ten years. Maggie didn’t have any lingering effects from being so sick (which is a MIRACLE). She is perfectly healthy and didn’t suffer any type of disabilities like they had told us she would. Even now, I am tearing up when I think about how blessed we are to have such a healthy, happy girl. Things could have been so very different, but God heard our prayers and for some reason He granted our requests. I am still extremely thankful that He did.

I never thought that we would celebrate Maggie’s tenth birthday without her daddy. The curves in life just can’t be seen or anticipated…and that’s a good thing. I see Greg in Maggie everyday. I know how very proud he was of her and how much he loved her. She knows it too. My one hope is that the nine years she did have with him will be enough for her to remember those things in the future.

She didn’t cry yesterday. She didn’t choose to be sad. She didn’t want to go to the cemetery. She just wanted to be a ten year old kid like every other ten year old kid.

So, she had a fun day filled with two performances of her 4th grade play, her 4th grade graduation reception, riding the golf-cart with her brothers (the 3G’s), fishing at the pond, eating Mexican food with our friends and family, and eating strawberry cake made just for her by her Aunt Diana. It was a good day to turn ten I would say!

IMG_3359IMG_3563IMG_3575

We talked about her daddy a lot. She laughed when she remembered a funny thing he said and she smiled when she talked about the things he did with her on her birthday over the years. She grinned when she was asked about what he would think about her already being the big 1-0. Those smiles and grins said a whole lot on this first birthday without him here.

Looking back I can’t believe how fast those ten years flew by. I can’t believe how much our lives have changed and I can’t believe that God has allowed us to stay happy through all of it. That is a good thing to be able to say. Maggie is happy. Our family is happy. Our life is happy. IMG_3577We made the choice to be happy in December..and we have kept making that choice over and over again every day since. That doesn’t mean it always works out…but even on the not so happy days we know we can still choose to be happy again the next time.

Life passes by in the blink of an eye. Why spend it being miserable? Looking at my ten year old daughter’s face, I can see that choosing happy…even when it’s hard is the best choice for us. We don’t have it all figured out….we don’t have wonderful joy filled days every day. What we do have is a saving grace that surrounds us and reminds us that we can try again tomorrow. We know that we are loved and we know that we will see our loved ones again one day. Until then, we will enjoy as much of our time together as possible and look for joy and happiness over and over again on the special days as well as the ordinary days.

Like this day. These two girls have been friends since the beginning…and I hope they will always be friends who are happy to see each other no matter how long it’s been!

20160518_173950               20160518_191119