I am not a stick in the mud!

I’m picking up speed, courtesy of the decision to lay flat on my back. I’m approaching the bottom at a supersonic speed.  Just enough time to clasp my nose and take a breath.

Splash!

I completely submerge as I feel my bottom bounce off bottom. I break through the surface to see my husband doubled over in laughter.

What the heck? 

“Mom, was it fun? Did you have fun? Are you going again?”, Madi rants as she climbs out of the pool and proceeds back toward the water slide of doom.

“Why are you laughing at me?”, I inquire as I follow her to certain death.

Crickets.

Okay.

We go again.  Faster.  More fun.  More exhilarating than the first time.

 And they’re still laughing at me as I surface!

At this point, I’m insulted.  It’s like they’ve never seen me have fun before.

“You know”, I say with my best pouty voice, “I’m not a stick in the mud.  I do know how to have fun.”

The trouble is, they don’t see me do it very often.

Why is that?

Lets review.

This is the first summer that I can remember in 15 years in which I have not had a child under the sacred height of 36 inches.  To date, I have been confined to the kiddy area only.

At the pool.  Water parks. Amusement parks. The park.  McDonald’s Playland.

Saying things like:

“Don’t splash.”

“Go down the slide, not up it.”

“Brown Alert! Gross.”

“Don’t lick that.”

Herding short people has been my business.  But now my people aren’t so short anymore. And, they’re adrenaline junkies like their dad.

Bigger + Bolder+ Faster = Better

I mean, sometimes, I just want to sit down and read. Take a nap. Make up on some of the sleep I lost when they were babies.  Yet sitting on the sidelines to watch my growing kids have fun is just, well, boring.  Because I want to be a part of it, too!

I’m noting the innate need for parents to be deemed “cool” in the eyes of their kids in this generation.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  I have no desire to dress like my kids, talk like my kids or even be accepted by their friends as part of the “in” crowd.

I am the mom therefore I must be uncool sometimes.  The mom card demands it.

However, I can play with my kids and enjoy the activities they enjoy doing.  Just because I’m used to sitting on the sidelines doesn’t mean I am sentenced there for life.  Even when it does mean I’m going to look a bit silly sometimes.

It means climbing to the top of a ten story slide and bearing the bruises on my knees for the week to follow.

Sometimes, it means tossing a football or a baseball in the front yard.

Standing on the edge of a cliff when I want to retreat to the safety of the trail.

A pick up foot race on the way to the car.

Careening down a water slide while the rest of the party pooping moms are laying in their chairs catching some rays.

Yes, I called you a party pooper. (I still love you & I’m secretly jealous).

Sledding.  In the snow. Down a hill. Voluntarily. (insert smile here)

Playing with my family gives me the chance to show them a well rounded wife and mom.  It requires me to put down the camera and challenge myself physically.  To break out of my comfort zone on the sideline and step into the game, even when it’s terrifying for all who witness the spectacle.

It gives us all something to laugh about at the end of the day.

“Did you see mom when she…” 

I’m rediscovering how to play with my family.

How, today, can you engage yours?

 

 

 

 

 

If I must take a side, I choose Jesus.

I’m watching the coverage unfold with my 12 year old son.  His face bears the same disappointment I am feeling in my heart.

It seems like the battle has officially been lost.  One that I have never really understood in the first place.  We rally on the streets and preach from the pulpits.

With every word and action, the division in this issue has left a gap impossible to bridge. More than anything, I want my son to stand for whom he believes.  However, I want him to do so from a place of dignity and love as opposed to disrespect and judgment.

Because I know behind sin stands a story of brokenness.

And in brokenness, hope can take root and grow.

After posting John 3:16 to my facebook wall, I avoid social media.  The battle still looms.  The words from both sides are strong.  Above all else, I will take a stand.

But to what cost? Who is left to pay the price?

For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten son that whoever should believe in him would not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

In this time of confusion, I still choose Jesus of Nazareth.  Why?

Because I am a sinner.  No one is without sin.  Not one, the bible says. The only person I can change is me.  No matter what I say on facebook.  No matter what I post on this blog, I can only change me.

I believe God is still in the business of healing.  Who paid the price?  His son, Jesus, who was sent to die for my sin before I ever had chance to walk this earth.  No prerequisites.  Merely a choice to believe that I can’t pay the price for sin on my own.

I can’t hold a nonbeliever to the same standards I follow.  Nor can I influence their choices without relationship. Love covers a multitude of sin.

When I lovingly confront one who I build relationship with, they see my heart in place of my hypocrisy.

I know that judgement from the church can bring more pain than promise.

No matter how big the divide, Jesus is bigger.  He came to fill the divide.  He came to bridge the gaps.  Even when it feels like I’m losing the battle, Christ has promised victory in the war.

“I urge ,then, first of all that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in godliness and holiness.

1 Timothy 2: 1-2

I’m expecting God’s best.

“Are you okay mom?”

I smile and give a thumbs up as a tear slips from underneath my sunglasses. My little camper settles into the van ready for a week of fun, adventure and no parents!  I, on the other hand, am an anxious mess.  I have a queasy pit in my stomach.

It’s never easy to say goodbye.

I get into my car and head to work, thankful for the busy Monday ahead.  On my way, I pray for travel mercy.  I pray for peace for the little campers who will be away from home for the week.  I pray for the counselors who will be investing into the lives of these little ones.

We have done all we can to prepare her for a week without us.    I wrote the camp notes.  She has her ice cream cash. My husband packed her bags in day specific rolls.1607111_834186176657715_4690657683349455716_n

We even picked up a cocoa on the way to church.

But now it’s time to hand over the reigns.

I’m not so good at handing over the reigns.

“God, I need your peace in this moment of uncertainty.  I need the strength to trust you.  I feel so out of control.  I know in my head she is going to have a great time. I know in my head you are going to move in her heart this week. Lord, let this truth resonate in my heart.”

Immediately, this thought occurs to me. “You jump on this emotional roller coaster every time I ask you to step out of your comfort zone.” In writing.  In running. In allowing my kids out of my sight for a week to go to church camp, of all places. The emotions are messy yet I’m expecting God to show up in amazing ways.  The words come out choppy and rough but a life is touched.  The race is hard to run but there is the blessing of accomplishment and perseverance waiting at the finish line.

It’s hard to say goodbye but in a few short days she will be returning with a bag full of dirty laundry, new girlfriends and memories that will last a lifetime.11227954_10153492797423060_8715412038757468137_n

In the quiet of this week, I’m embracing the shift of dynamics in our home. It’s been a full 24 hours since I last called the dog Madi.

Progress, right?

I’m dumping the guilt of feeling like I, myself, am on a bit of a vacation.  She is our demanding one.  The girl who demands action and drama at every turn.  I’m enjoying the quiet laid back peace of my evenings knowing she is in the capable hands of her counselor and under the watchful eye of her heavenly father.

Besides, she has already assured me she will only miss her daddy and Zoe the diva wonder dog.

Little monkey.

I’m counting the days until she is home again and our world returns to normal.

I’m expecting God’s best.  Not only in her week, but in mine as well.

 

Misplaced Monday: It all started with the hat

It all started with the hat.

My spunky 7- year- old Madi modeled her t-ball hat with pride.  Just two days until team pictures.

The last ones.

The last season for her.  The last child in t-ball for me.

I should have known it would be a disaster. Pictures were scheduled for a Monday.  Nothing good happens on Monday.  Dieting and workout programs have proven that for decades.

In the meantime, she wore her hat everywhere.

Walmart.  Church.  Playing with her friends. I knew it was a bad idea.

In a flash, the hat was gone. We asked her to pull her uniform together the evening before pictures.  She couldn’t find her hat anywhere.  We backtracked in our minds and came up blank.

An hour before picture time, my hunting hubby discovered the hat in the play kitchen I had asked her to clean the day before.  Picture saved.  Uniform complete.

I get home in time to change and instead find her covered in dirt.  Her legs.  Her shirt.  Her hat.  I cat bathe her quickly and we head to the field, arriving on time.

Woot, Woot!

I precariously balance the picture form as I fill it out with my funky blue pen. Like my driver license, I lie about her weight and glimpse at the number on her shirt.  Write the check.  Seal the envelope. My daughter follows her team in line toward the kiosk.

Mission accomplished.

I see coach dabbing Madi’s leg with the order blank I just filled out!

She’s picked a scab on her leg and has blood everywhere.  Sigh.

The coach looks at me with a mix expectancy and judgement. I am, after all, letting down woman kind.  Was I supposed to have a first aid kit tucked in my spanx?

A new momma with diaper wipes comes to my rescue.  I apply pressure to the bleeding with one hand while cat bathing my kid with the other. Again.  All was well in control until the coach handed me a new order blank with 20 seconds to picture time.

I guess the photo people weren’t excited about having my kid’s D.N.A on their form. Disappointment abounds.

What did I say her weight was? Why don’t I know this?

It’s in the tension of these moments when being mom proves toughest.  The moment of unpreparedness. The stage in life when I am supposed to have it all together, but don’t.  Not even close. Will I ever get it right?

She’s my youngest.  I don’t have too many chances left.

This point in time seems so big in comparison to every other decision I have made correctly.  It highlights every mistake I make and every way I fall short.  I just want to go home and hide.

And speaking of hiding, does photo shop hide dirt and blood?

I need to remember to ask when I turn the form.

As she approaches the camera, I have to remind myself that mothering happens in moments. Embrace the moment- good or bad.  It’s the little kisses.  Inside jokes.  Fishing trips. First time events. Missing hats.  Bloody t-ball pics.

Every. little. thing.

Ironically, the most vivid memories avail when I feel like the biggest mom loser on the planet.  The nuggets of time when I feel alone and judged for my inadequacy.  The very memories I get to share and laugh about with other moms who have stories of their own.

Good or bad, I’m embracing the moments.

And, I’m inventing first aid kits to hide in spanx.

Misplaced Monday’s: Redefining priorities in my marriage!

She caught my attention as she rounded the corner of the bus and walked clean into the passenger side mirror.  I merely took a moment to make sure she was okay and say a silent thanks that it was her and not me.  We boarded the bus and squeezed through coolers, life jackets and long legs taking up room in the aisle.  I settled in next to my husband to wait for the crew to load the kayaks hoping it wouldn’t take long.  The temp was steadily rising, quickly removing the relaxation of the afternoon on the lake. The young couple sat down in the seat in front of us.

 “So, why couldn’t you get in the water,”  her guy asks.

“Because of the baby”, she replies in a voice that indicates her day has not gone the way she anticipated.

“I know, the baby.  But why?” He replies, frustrated.

“You know.  Infection & stuff.”

“Oh.”

Yeah.

Oh.

As I sat there with my husband on our anniversary weekend, I thought of all the ways our men get the boot when kids come along.  Before kids, I attended his every ballgame.  I took lunches to him on my day off.  I made time for him and the things he liked to do.  Then, the beautiful bundles of joy came along and suddenly:

I am exhausted. Doesn’t he know I need my sleep?

My time is stretched thin.

I’ve worked all week.  How can I possibly take more time away from the kids?  I will only have them for a little while.

We can’t afford a sitter.

My house is a mess.

I haven’t combed my hair in months and I don’t even want to discuss baby weight. How can he possibly find me attractive?

And so it goes.  Until the day you wake up to realize that your kids won’t be with you for much longer and you long ago forgot how to have fun with your man.

Marriages that don’t grow together will most definately fall apart.

It’s what I would tell the new mama to be if I had another chance. I would tell her it starts happening the moment we open What to expect when your expecting. You start experiencing the life growing inside of you and slowly start crowding out the most important member of your team in preparation of your new bundle of joy.  Eventually, your going in your own direction.  He’s doing what he loves to do while your doing what you love to do. But, your not doing it together.  Suddenly, you feel invisible, exhausted and underappreciated. After all, you’re the one holding everything together.  You start to wonder if this is how it’s always going to be.

Is this a taste of what life is going to look like when my kids leave the nest?  Even more important, how do we get back?  How do I draw him back in?  How do I have fun with my man again? Does he even like me anymore?

Please tell me I have not walked through this season alone!

After evaluating these questions closely in prayer, I looked for solid advice.  Which simply means I googled, “How to win my husband back.” When I say “win back”, I do not mean to imply he has strayed.  I was simply looking for a way to catch his eye with my changed heart.

 Even with google, God is good to respond.  I found the blog,  To Love, Honor and Vacuum.  Sheila, the author, apparently walked through a similar season in which she offered this six week formula.  Compliment your husband daily.  Have sex with him often. Which spurred the thought, “Why do I always have to be the one to change?”  God softly responded, “Maybe you’re husband is just waiting on your cue. You’ve spent so much time showing him you’ve got it all under control.  Maybe it’s time to show him that you still need him and want him.”

So, in addition to Sheila’s formula:

I prayed for the wisdom to know what to do right here, right now to win back my husband.

I acted upon the still small voice in my heart. I let go and laid down every “wrong” done to me.

I realized the disconnect was not one sided. Could be he was just following my cues.

I’m actively looking for ways to hang out with my hubby.  With a teen, a tween and a teen wannabe, it’s harder than it looks.  Yet, I know this is a temporary season.  We need to be intentional with the little bits of time we get together now so we know what to do and how to act later.

For the new mama to be, I would just tell her to beg, borrow and steal every opportunity she can to be with her man.  Make the moment by moment choice to accept his advances (or make a few of her own) and know they are the way he shows love for her and receives love from her.  Be straight forward and tell him what she needs. Respect him.  Thank him.  Appreciate him as her partner and her team mate for life.

I don’t come from perfection but from progress.  It’s one shaky foot in front of the other but it’s worth every step.

How to you keep your marriage strong?  Sound off in the comments below as we kick off Misplaced Monday’s!

Have you ever misplaced something?

I think of the meme floating in social media with the overworked mom who is trying to get out the door with one too many bags and a baby on her hip.  She is frantically searching her kitchen table while venting to her friend that she is running behind and  has to find her phone.  The twist?  She’s talking on the phone she is searching for!

I find my walk in Christ reflecting this woman’s struggle.  I let chaos ensue and I miss the most obvious answer to gain peace, perspective and wisdom in my life. 

Join me this month for Misplaced Monday’s!  I hope you, like me, will find that taking a moment to reprioritize will make a difference in misplaced area our our lives.

Memorial Day. A day to remember.

He’s leaving today.

I crack my eyes to let in the predawn light.   My stomach feels nauseous.  I should have gotten up earlier.  We won’t have much time left to spend as a family before he takes off.  Now, where is he going again?  How long will he be gone?

It really doesn’t matter.  The hard part is always saying goodbye as I transition my family into waiting well for his return home.  I hate saying goodbye.  It really should get easier as time goes on.  But it doesn’t.  Now, I find myself going through the stages of grief even when he is just going away for a weekend with his buds.  I don’t tell him though.  I don’t want him to feel guilty.  I don’t want him to carry the weight of a needy wife in the midst of all the other responsibility he faces.

I stretch my arms as the breeze from the window hits my face.  I look over to the alarm.  Shoot, my son has dojo in 45 minutes.  Wait.  Dojo?

“Ugh.  I just had a dream that you had to leave for guard today.” I say as I roll over to cuddle into him.

“I do.  Just don’t trip over the bags when you get outta bed.” He replies.

I poke him in the ribs.  Hard. He has it coming.  He has been out for nearly a year but the emotions are still very real.

It’s Memorial Day.

I take a moment to count my blessings that I have my husband to joke with today because this is not the story for so many.

Somewhere, a woman rolled over this morning to reach for her husband and he wasn’t there.  Or, he was, but emotionally, he is still fighting a battle in a land she will never know, nor never visit.  A place in the life of her soldier will that will remain detached from her reality.  He fights a darkness that she cannot begin to understand.  She is hopeless to intercede.  But she loves him anyway.

Through outbursts of unexplained anger.  Night terrors.  Paranoid and cynical behavior.  She knows he’s healing. She wonders if there are any other steps she should take.  She prays for a glimpse of the man her soldier was before war.

She wonders when he is going to stop taking chances with his life to drive the adrenaline he has become addicted too.

She wonders when she will be enough to fill the void his life is missing.

Days like today are hard. They drudge up memories long buried .  They revive emotions that are impossible to understand for those who have not gone and seen realities of war because we chose to stay at home.  But, we’re here now.

What can we do with all of this?

Pray.  For those whose soldier aren’t returning home.  For peace, protection and provision in their road ahead.  Pray for the soldier who is still trying to find his way, even in the safety of home.  For resolution. For peace.  For an encounter with the love, grace and mercy of a mighty God.

Be a willing listener, but don’t push for answers. Be available to listen without judgement.  I don’t know what you’ve seen and  I don’t know what you’ve done but I’m here and I care for you.  Nothing you can say will change that.

Keep it confidential.  It’s not your story to share.

Love unconditionally.  There is a price for freedom.  The number one goal of our soldiers is to bring everyone home alive.  Sometimes that happens at the expense of a soldiers moral code. Sometimes, lives are lost.  Regardless, the price is high.  Too high for some, even when they return home.  The number of soldiers taking their own lives after returning home is at an epidemic high. And unnecessary. It’s something we can no longer ignore.

Today, let’s not forget.  Let’s check in.  Let us shower those who have lost their soldier with love and support.  Let’s remind soldiers who are still fighting the battle that they are not alone.

 

If you know a military family in need of support, check out military one source .

 PTSD is taking our soldiers at an alarming rate. 1 military service member and 22 veterans per day.   Please consider joining my friend’s battle for awareness at  Valhalla can wait. You’re likes and shares will send the message to our troops that they are not alone.

 

 

Helicopter Momma, it really is out of our control!

I’m freaking out.

Not had too much coffee before breakfast, freaking out.  More like box of Miss Clairol in one hand with a handy dandy brown paper baggie in the other.

I’m sending my 15 year old to Mexico on a mission trip.  With responsible, god loving adults who are not me.

I’m sending my 7 year old to church camp.  For a week.  With responsible, god loving adults who are not me.

I’ve always allowed myself to believe that I am a laid back momma.  My goal has always been to raise my kids well balanced in the tension of this world.  I work hard to make my home a safe place for them to land.  A place for them to take comfort.  A place of unconditional love and acceptance.

My kids know Jesus. They have had first hand experience of his peace and presence in their lives.  They know how to serve others in their community and they enjoy doing so.  They are learning how to construct healthy boundaries.

But one day, they will leave.

It might be to go down the street to play with a friend, or an overnight trip to grandma’s. It might be to summer camp or a mission trip.  It might be in a car with a driver license that just came hot off the press or off to college to pursue the hopes and dreams of their heart.  It might be to serve our country in the military.

But one day, they will leave.

It’s irrational, but I often times trust my kids more than I trust other people.  I just don’t ever want them to stray too far away.  I mean, what if they come across negative influences.  What if they are exposed to drugs, alcohol or pornography?

What if they find themselves in a position needing my protection and I am not there?

What if they think little Annie’s mom is more fun than me? It might be true, but I don’t want my kids to know that!

What if my teenager makes a choice that goes against what we have taught her in faith?

One day, my kids will leave my cocoon of protection.  Whatever is a mom to do?

Helicopter momma, here’s the thing.  My kids are only mine for a little while.  But, they belong to God forever.  At some point, I have to let them leave my influence so they can grow to fulfill the purpose that God handcrafted them for.

In the meantime:

I can build them up in his word.

I can teach them how to live their faith in a broken world with broken people.

I can help them build a community of like minded people that they can fall back on.

I can allow them the possibility of exposure- in small doses.

I can let God work in their lives without getting in the way.

I can pray, everyday, for my kids to know a personal relationship with their savior.  No matter what.

I can’t raise my kids in a “what if” mentality.

I know they will make bad choices.  I know that they will crash and burn.  I know that God, and I, will love them unconditionally.   I know that I will always be their safe place to land.  Their safe place to receive coaching, instruction, and preparation to get back into the game of life.

But I also know that they will make good, God honoring choices.  They will experience success.  And then?  I will be their place to celebrate and praise God for the amazing work he is doing in their lives.

For now, I will catch and release.  I will make the commitment to let go in small doses.  Allow them to make choices, good & bad.  Draw them back in. Coach them.  Teach them.  Love them.  Point them to God and release once more.

Helicopter momma,  I don’t believe raising kids is the hardest part of being a parent.  I truly believe it is the fine art of letting go and knowing that God is in control.

I’m praying for you.  Pray for me, will you?

 

www.compeltraining.com

#Compeltip:  I have been working to tighten my writing as well as reduce redundancy. Behind the scenes, I have been applying the 5-f’s from tired, typical writing. For more tips like these, visit www.compeltraining.com!

 

Sometimes, cheaters win

#Deflategate

The national icon of Superbowl 49 starring a quarterback who is said to be the best the NFL has ever seen.  A quarterback who is now accused of cheating for gain.

A dilemma to moms everywhere.

As  a mom, I constantly reinforce, “Do the right thing and you will get the right result”, to my kids.  I tell them to persevere. Even when failure seems to be lurking at every corner, a breakthrough will happen.  But, you have to work to make it happen.  Just don’t quit.  Don’t even dream of taking the easy way out.

I know I’m not alone here. We all want our kids to succeed, but we want them to do so with character.  Which means no easy road exists.  Hard work and perseverance always pay off.

So when Tom Brady was allowed to win his 6th Superbowl ring in the midst of and undecided scandal, I wont lie when I say I was deeply disappointed.

He didn’t once deny that he had given the directive to have the ball deflated.  He presented himself, polished as a politician, and gave vague answers as he sat in the hot seat of national media.  Moments of awkward silence as he likely thought of his coached answers.  The whole interview was uncomfortable to watch. The most uncomfortable part?  Trying to reconcile how to explain that sometimes cheaters win to my kids whom I am working to raise with integrity.

The thing about cheating is that it can be done easily.  Some times without recognition of the people who live and work the closest around you.  A well placed secret between you and God that allows you to advance and appear to be someone you are not.  Sometimes people catch on.  Sometimes they don’t.  But at the core of cheating is the heart of a liar.  One who covers weakness to make others believe in a façade.

And as a mom, I do not want to participate in, nor imply that this behavior is ever okay to the little eyes that may be watching.

We live in a world that is fallen. It’s ruled by a prince who came to steal, kill and destroy.  We are witness to this evidence of destruction everyday.  The good news I that we await a king who will return to bring life and life in abundance.  Peace in the midst of conflict.  Hope in situations that seem hopeless.

Tom Brady may have his fancy new ring and a little slap on the hand for a bad decision.  My beloved Michigan Wolverines may be able to brag about producing champion quality quarterbacks. But the truth will always be revealed.

Cheaters may sometimes win but the victory will be hollow and temporary.  One day, we will have to give an account for our actions.

When we make the choice to live with integrity, even when no one is looking, then we can then walk with confidence.  Never worried about something that can slip us up.

We can speak with boldness when we aren’t worried about covering our tracks or keeping our story straight.

Never give up.  Do what is right.  Confidently expect that right will win in the end.  This is the message I will continue to reinforce to my kids, even when cheaters win.

 

 

 

 

The bravest hearts come in small packages

We pull in to the K-Mart parking lot in Freeport, just outside of Applebee’s.  I can feel the tears burning my eyes. I’m trying to be strong but failing miserably.  I take off my seatbelt as I glance in the rearview mirror.  My Chloe, then third grader, was folded over crying silently.  I look over at my husband as he gets out of our magic van.  He pops open the side door as I walk around to take the driver seat.

This is where we say goodbye. I wish I had a fast forward button I could push.  I’m really not ready for this.

“Dad”, our 5 year old Lucas says, “Chloe is just afraid that this is the last time she is going to see you before you die.  But I know that Jesus is going with you and he is going to kick the bad guys butts.”

I will live and die to claim that these are and will be the hardest words I will ever heard one my kids say.  The hardest moment I have ever had to move through. We were prepared physically. In the last few weeks, we had attended every family meeting the national guard had offered.  We got our financial affairs in order.  Arranged for activities to keep the kids busy.  My work schedule altered to accommodate my new single mom status.

We planned for the worst while expecting the best.  But no one told me how to walk away. To leave my man behind to go and fight a war while I proceeded forward with my regularly scheduled life.

Yet, in that moment of brokenness, sheer wisdom came from the mouth of our kindergartener.

You’re not going alone. 

Jesus is with you.  

Jesus has your back.

When our greatest fears threaten to paralyze us, we have to stand on the fact that the power of God will fuel us with exactly the thing we need to move us toward his purpose, even when all evidence says we can’t.

He gave a stuttering murderer the power to part the red sea with his staff.

He projected a rock from the sling of a small boy to the exact coordinates needed to slay a giant.

He arranged a marriage for a pregnant, unwed teen mom that her reputation & future would be restored so she could fulfill her “yes” to him.

He granted his son the power to defeat a sinners death on the cross that all who believed could live in relationship with him.

He granted peace of mind to a 5 year old boy and his family that was separating for deployment.

What is paralyzing you today?

What is that thing you are facing that leaves your palms sweating?

What is the thing that leaves your stomach in knots of anxiety?

God is there.  He has gone before you.  He is with you now.

He has already kicked bad guy butt.

Allow his mighty power to move on your behalf today.

Dear Grams

Grams,
I just received word that you went home to be well with the Lord tonight.  To be honest, I feel as though you had been taken from us long before now.  I laid in bed tonight, overwhelmed with the memories of who you were and how you touched my life in so many ways.  Yet, had I told you, I don’t know that you would have understood in your final days here.

When I was little, I couldn’t imagine life without you.  The traditions you worked hard to create.  Your home always felt like my respite from the storm.  Even as an adult, I looked forward to just stopping in to spend the day.  It always brought me back to a simpler time.

I remember the excitement about spending the week with Grandma St. Germain.  Meeting in Champaign to eat at Bob Evans.  Singing Jesus Loves me in the car along with all of the other crazy fun kid songs you had.  The collection was endless.  Walking to the restaurant for pancakes in the morning with your daycare kids.   You always let me have soda while everyone else had to stick to milk or juice.  I remember putting money in my Moola Moola savings account.  Sitting at the drug store and munching on penny candy while you caught up with Ruth at the counter. You introduced me to everyone you knew.  “This is Sam.  Can you believe how big she has gotten?”  I remember driving by the whiskey barrels in Kankakee, shopping at the farmers market and rooting on Jim McMahon and the Bears on their way to the Superbowl.  Darla and I had the Superbowl Shuffle down.  And when Grandpa would fall asleep watching TV, it was always so fun to turn it off on him and hear him proclaim, “Hey, I was watching that!”  It was the thing to do, every evening just after the 10 o’clock news.   You would snooze on the sofa and I would camp out in my sleeping bag on the floor.  And the summer you taught us to stand and walk on a rolling trash barrel down the hill.  Yep, I still can’t believe I came away from that unscathed.  We both know how graceful I am.

At Christmas, I remember Santa delivering my gift.  He would stop to smile for the camera before coming in the front door, a quick pose in the front picture window.  And I remember us running into him at Santa’s Village when I was around 12. It was just as I had stopped believing that we walked into Santa’s house and he called us all by name.  What a funny moment of surprise that was.  He became the National Lampoons Santa.  And he used one of your pictures on his resume.  Yep, that is still my favorite Christmas movie.

At Easter, you hid baskets for kids and adults alike.  I remember wandering through your yard and the neighbors, looking for our Easter treasures.  And then, of course the hunt for the last few eggs that we always hid so well.  But more than anything, I loved to hear the stories around the table. Easter could not pass by without Jello Eggs from Liz or Sugar Cookies from Darla.

Have I mentioned the cousin’s pictures yet?  Yep, those were a hoot.  You decided to do those shortly after I was married.  It was a bit awkward being the only adult in the cousin’s pic.  I never told you this, but it is next to impossible to find bib overalls for an adult.   My absolute favorite picture is the one we got for free.  No one was posed for the camera, so we all had our relaxed faces on and we were looking in different directions.  That picture hung proudly on my wall for years. Mostly because it is the only one in which I was smiling AND having a good hair day all at the same time.

I loved that you loved my husband.  I still cherish our corner cabinet and cradle that Gramps made. What pressure you put on David, to get that cabinet home safe.  He has never driven slower on the interstate.  The day you told us about our handmade cradles, I had just started to suspect I was pregnant with Chloe.  I remember telling you a week or so later and you giving me such a hard time about holding back important news.  You felt so guilty about not coming down the day she was born.  Yet, we passed you on the way home in the hospital parking lot.  You and mom had already been by our house and decorated with yard signs and pink balloons.  You were there when I laid Chloe in the cradle for the first time.  And when Lucas was born, you were right there to cradle him on as soon as you could.  He was the first grandson in the family, after all.  I love that you would remind me that I was a good mom.  That David and I were raising our children right.  That God would honor the decisions we were making in regard to our family.

When David went to the guard, and particularly when he was deployed, you were always faithful to check in.  You prayed.  You made sure he got his birthday and Christmas gifts all the way overseas. You sent him a used cellphone because you heard the troops had a way of being able to use them to call back home.  We never actually figured out what that program was, but he brought the phone back home because it had a picture of grandpa on it and he didn’t think you would want to get rid of that quite so easily.  We probably still have the phone tucked away in a drawer somewhere.  I never could bring myself to talk you out of the ideas you had, especially if you thought they were helping the greater good.

The hard part is that this is just the touch of the iceberg of the memories you have left behind.  I remember you showing me the family bible.  The playhouse in the backyard.  Snuggles, Lokie, Sable and Bailey.  I remember mom and I dognapping Lillie after your mastectomy.  She is doing well, but now has a little sibling rivalry going on with her new brother, Gus.

You have left a legacy of strong women behind.  Daughters,  Granddaughters and a Grandson that will carry on to make a difference in this generation and the one to come.   We will make you proud, I have no doubt.

I love you and miss you.  You took a little part of my heart with you today as you said your final goodbye on this side of Earth.  I am thankful you are healthy and at peace now.  That you have reunited with those whom you have loved so dearly.  I will never forget how you have impacted my life.  Thank you for everything.