Dear Kai

Today’s post is written by my student, Katrina King. As a mother, I can relate to the love and pride she expresses for her daughter in this letter. I hope to write a letter like this to Maggie someday.

Dear Kai

Hey girl, so I got an assignment in my Comp class, and I think it is the best assignment yet, in my opinion of course. We were given an assignment to write a letter telling someone how thankful we are to have them in our life (on the topic of gratitude). I feel really comfortable writing this because I knew  before I finished reading the assignment that I would be writing about you.

kai-daughter-2

Katrina’s daughter, Kai

I know that I am your mother, and we will always have that special bond that so few share and so many others could relate to, but not many know what we have gone through just this fall semester. You had a full course load with 14 hours, me working two jobs, taking my first online course and attending an in-class lecture so I can finally finish school. To say it has been tough is most definitely an understatement.

I appreciate how hard you worked to try to maintain a good GPA in a very unfamiliar territory. I know you have had your struggles; I couldn’t imagine some of the fears you may have faced, especially since you are a deaf child, leaving your mark in a hearing world, a world that does not always understand you. You are doing your best to have your voice heard. You have helped me with getting your brother back and forth to school–practice, tutoring, feeding him–the whole nine, while I work some crazy hours, and you have done it all with a smile and not too many complaints.

Your grace and beauty defines the way a young lady should act and carry herself. I am so proud of you. I am thankful the Lord saw fit to pair us up to do this life together. There will never be enough words to tell you how truly grateful I am to have you as my daughter, and I thank you for being a positive role model to not only your brother but to others who cross your path as well. I pray you continue to strive for greatness; your hard work will not go unnoticed at times when you think you just can not go any further or things start to get rougher than you had hoped. Just know that you have not come this far to turn back.

I love you to the moon and stars and back.

Mom

 

The ticking of the clock

Today’s post is by Debra Dickey, my friend and frequent contributor. 

Lately, I’ve begun to experience an unusual development of emotions that is difficult to describe.  When I tried to put a finger on it, the only thing I could come up with was the ticking of my ‘biological clock’, only in reverse.

With children who are now grown-ups, on their own for the most part, and in their first stages of getting established in jobs and careers and with lives of their own, a healthy marginalization has been aptly carved out.   Yet much more than classic separation has invaded my heart – a sudden perception of inevitable mortality has begun to creep its way into my psyche, lending itself to the reality that my time on earth, and therefore, with my children, is day by day, becoming more limited.

Clock 1The truth is, no matter how long I have, it will never be enough time to spend with my children.  From the very first moments of their lives, I have wanted to be a part of who they are and share in the known quantity of their lives. Because of the extraordinary people they both are, not just my children, our journey together has been one of joy and appreciation.

With the challenges and harsh trajectory that our lives have taken, the three of us had to become a unit.  Knowing what was at stake, I intentionally created a mindful environment to foster family connections that would ultimately lead to the homogenous family nucleus that, hopefully, will endure for the rest of our lives.  I was on the right track — it’s working!   So well that I cannot imagine it any other way and, never want to let it go!

Although I whole-heartedly loved my children the first 20 years of their lives, we were all so busy being  pretty overwhelmed and mostly in survival mode, our relationships were less symbiotic and more parent/child, as they only could have been.  But grown up children are real people–and mine are really wonderful people–people I absolutely love spending time with, am inspired having conversations with, thrill at sharing moments with, have trustingly created equality and affinity with, and simply enjoy laughing and planning and being with.

Petulant, my clock is on a nostalgic countdown.   How many more years can I possibly have with them?  Ten, fifteen??  That is not nearly enough!  Not nearly enough to cram all the love and fun and delight and heart songs that they bring, into my life.  Not nearly enough to make them understand how much they mean to me and how indelibly they have impacted everything that has ever had meaning.  Not nearly enough to see them smile, hear their voices and their laughter, to celebrate their successes, and to know them as they develop all their talents and become even more incredible people than they already are.  I don’t want to miss a thing!

Sentimental that it is, the ticking of the clock is the beating of my heart, with the message to make every minute count and to focus on the things that matter most – don’t ever take these two amazing gifts for granted.   I won’t.  I just hope that the Good Lord gives me exactly the right amount of time, perfectly synched, full of Grace, for all three of us.

Star-spangled moments

*Today’s post is by my friend Debra Dickey, a frequent contributor to this blog. I’m thankful for Debra’s courage to share her own journey in writing because each time she does, I learn and grow.*

 

1)  A weighty concern regarding the possibility of an expensive vehicle repair — gratefully, did not need to happen.

2)  Frozen, burst water pipes — managed by the appropriate people with no liability to us.  Another Alleluia moment!

3)  A friend’s frozen water issues — easily thawed with an inexpensive heater at minimal inconvenience.  Yay!

4)  My brother, rushed to the hospital with potentially life-threatening symptoms.  Five frightening days of waiting, watching, and wondering.  Again, through the Grace and Power of the Almighty, he was safely carried through the danger, and recovery is imminent.  Praise God!

5)  A dog . . . . a skunk  —  a 10-second imagination-run-wild episode that turned out to be quite comical!

6)  Add to that a treacherous 25-mile drive home on ice-slick roads that can only be described as ‘harrowing’, yet, in its finality, by the Grace of God and one hour later, concluding safely.

7)  And to top off this mere three-week time span, exhausting illness x 2, plus a major health concern of another sort, and a family situation en crises, presently in the hands of God:  starbursts of amethyst and gold — moments in waiting!

FireworksStar-spangled moments.  Decipherable moments of Exquisite Presence.  Moments of gratefulness.  Joyous moments.  Praise-filled moments.  Laughable moments.  Challenging moments.  Gut-wrenching, heart-numbing, fear-gripped  moments.  Humble moments.  Moments of fireworks and awe.  He is in them all.  He answers my prayers, thankfully sometimes even before I know to pray them.

I experience all these kinds of moments and more, almost on a daily basis.  So not only am I grateful for the blessings of things that do happen, I am most often even more grateful for the blessings of things that don’t happen.  Those particularly worrisome events that somehow seem to juuusst barely sideswipe my wee crotchety life as they eek past on their little slippery skates of uncertainty.  Yes, I hear God in the still.  I see God in the small.  And I feel God in each moment.  There is no possible way that I could deflect nor withstand even a fraction of everything that comes at me without Help – I’m not the victor in those wrestling matches – but God is, so it doesn’t matter if I am or not!

My word for 2013 was ‘miracles’, and there have been so many!  What I have come to know is that often before you get to the miracles, that there are a colossal amount of challenges, stumbling blocks, and hurdles — virtual tidal waves of worry, heartache, fear and concern — which require an enormous amount of personal strength, effort, fortitude, and prayer to be able to walk through all the scary situations, the soul-searching days and nights, and the miry swamps of the unknown, before you get to those star-spangled moments, those miracles!!  Those precursors are fiercely and incredibly draining, at times leaving me broken, battered, bruised, and bleeding in the dust.

But because I know that God is the Author of the miracles that I seek, then I also recognize that I must possess strength, courage, and endurance to travel the road that is before me, and to navigate the sometimes perilous journey that will lead to those miracles.  So I shall ever seek His Promises of strength and protection, always by my side in Perfect Love, so that I can get back up and keep going.

His Word assures me:  “He will shelter you with his wings….He will order His angels to protect you…they will hold you up with their hands…  The Lord says I will protect those who trust in My Name.”  Psalm 91:4-12

*I continually pray for God to build a hedge of protection around me and my loved ones, a sphere of God’s glory that carries a vibration of Heaven that will hide us and keep us safe when principalities and powers may threaten our spiritual realm.  Let us commit our lives to God and strive to stay in the center of His Will, so that the enemy will not have access to what has been given to us according to that promise.  Thank You for Your Divine Protection in Jesus’ Name.   Amen.   [missionariesofprayer.org]

I eternally acknowledge the Divine Intervention that is evidenced within the subsistence of my life throughout each moment of my being.  Moments of forever.  Moments of now.  Moments of Grace and Strength and Love.  Small moments, enormous moments, amazing moments, unexpected and surprising moments.  Moments without end.  So many star-spangled moments!

Leap of faith, part two

*Today is the second part of “Leap of Faith” by my friend LaTresha Woodruff-Johnson about her God-led journey. Check out this piece about LaTresha which appeared recently in Sync magazine. LaTresha celebrates her three-year anniversary with the Conway Police Department on January 31.*

LaTresha at work

LaTresha at work

I committed a leap of faith when I left my television news reporter job, the only job I had ever known and loved.  I didn’t have a clue what I was going to do from there; I just knew God had a plan for my career and my life.  After all of the job opportunities I had been chasing got caught by someone else (my way of saying I did not get the job), I devised a plan.  I got up each morning, spent time in the presence of my heavenly father through meditation, prayer and studying His Word, and then I searched the internet for jobs for a couple of hours.  When that was complete I called somebody, heck anybody, who could spare a little time for a housewife, to meet for lunch.  I also volunteered and dabbled in cooking just a little, enough to satisfy my husband. 

My days of worrying about what God’s next step would be were over; I made the conscious decision to bask in the fact that, “He could do anything but fail” and that God was simply preparing me for what he had in store. He was about to enlarge my territory both spiritually and in my career.  I wore this new attitude well.  Even my husband noticed a change in me, and he liked it!  We all know a “happy wife means a happy life.”   Men, if you don’t know that, I have just solved all of your problems. 

In November of 2010 my wonderful husband read an article in the local newspaper announcing a job fair at a local college.  I reluctantly went thinking, “You don’t get the kind of job I am looking for at a college job fair.”  I got to campus, and I could not find a parking spot and annoyingly stated out loud that I was going home NOW!  Well that didn’t work, because I could hear the still quiet voice in my head saying, “I am in control of all things,” and suddenly a spot became open.  Once over that hurdle along came another.  It was pouring rain, and my umbrella was nearly taken away by the wind. I started to turn back, but the voice of God wouldn’t let me. 

I forged on, and when I reached the building, I was drenched, but I put on my face on and went inside thinking I will just pick up items to prove to my husband I had in fact gone to the job fair.   I went in, stopped at the first table and got stuff so my job there was done, so I thought.   Besides the trinkets like pens and stress balls, I had really nothing to show for my little visit.  Then I saw a familiar face, a police officer I had worked with for several years.  He was the Public Information officer for the police department, and I interviewed him often about cases being interviewed by the department.  He informed me that he had gotten a promotion.  I congratulated him, and the light bulb went off in my head. 

Before I knew it, I asked, “So who is going to be the public information officer now?”  He said he wasn’t sure, but he believed they were considering a particular officer.  I then proceeded to tell him that I would be their next PIO, to which he replied that they do not hire civilians; their PIOs have always been police officers.  I thought well, that may be, but it’s about to change.   We took a picture, hugged and I set about my mission to be the Public Information Officer/Spokesperson for the police Department.  I got into my car and called a Lieutenant at the PD and told him when he had coffee with the Chief the next morning to tell him he needed to hire LaTresha as the PIO.  He seemed to like the idea and agreed to do so.  Meanwhile I went to a friend’s house and told her I would no longer be a housewife and that I was about to start working as the PIO/Spokesperson for the police department.  She was excited and said I never mentioned that I had an interview and I informed her that I had not had an interview, but I knew this was what the Lord had for me.  She gave me a strange look,  but God would not be denied. While I was there I got a call back from the Lieutenant saying he tried to sit still and wait until tomorrow, but he decided to go ahead and talk to the Chief, and he felt the Chief would call me next week. (This is where I will start to insert the phrase “But God.”) 

I was super excited; this was shaping up to be the best Wednesday EVER!  I didn’t think it could get any better, but it did, “But God.”   While I was still at my friend’s house, I got a call from the Police Chief himself!  I said to him, “So you got my message,” his reply was, “Yes along with emails, phone calls and a picture.”   We set a meeting for Friday. He wanted Thursday, but remember I got rained on, and my hair was a dreadful mess so I needed to get myself to a salon so I could pull it all together.

That Friday meeting changed my life and probably the Police Chief’s life.  I went to meet him full of confidence and ideas.  We shook hands, and I proceeded to talk for probably the next 45 minutes about how I could do a more effective job than a police officer because I was the media, and I knew how to deal with the media.  I know what they need before they get there and can move the process along faster.  I truly believed that Officers were trained to serve and protect and that while the previous PIO’s did a great job, they were better at being police officers. 

So I implored him to allow them to do what they were trained to do and bring me on to do what I was trained to do.  Because I knew lots of people from my reporting days and people knew and liked me, I felt I could launch outreach programs to help really endear the police department more to the community.  By the end of my speech I asked him, “Do you have any questions?”  He seemed stunned, I didn’t know if he was stunned by how much I talked or stunned by my knowledge and confidence  (I later learned it was all three).  The Chief admitted he had had reservations about changing the position but added after listening to me he believed it was a great idea and wanted to see it happen. It did after all the red tape of city government.  I started working as the Public Information Officer/Spokesperson on January 31, 2011.  

I am a testimony to the fact that you should never give up on God because He will not give up on you.  Just when you think you have no options, like He did for Abraham in the book of Genesis Chapter 22, the Lord will provide a ram in the bush!

13Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. 14Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide, as it is said to this day, “In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.”…

In those times when the battle made me weary, and I felt I couldn’t hear God, I stopped and listened for his voice.  (Psalm 46:10)

Be still, and know that I am God:

When I look back over this experience I realize that when we are still, and we listen to God and really live out His will for our lives, it works out just as he planned.  You see if I had left my reporting job in 2008, if I had moved on my own and not waited for my answer for from the Lord, I am confident that I would not be where I am today.  This job was not open in 2008 when I wanted to leave the news business.  God was creating this opportunity just for me.  If I had moved on my own, who knows where I would be.  “But God”   Because I waited on the Lord I am in a wonderful place spiritually, personally and professionally.  I love my job, I am not micromanaged, my boss trusts my judgment, I am allowed to be my creative self, and I have the respect of my colleagues and my community.  And they all know I love the Lord and am driven by the fact that I am His child and that He wants the best for me. 

I encourage you to pray about whatever situation you are facing and be ready to listen for God’s voice and to follow His will for your life.  My Leap of Faith not only allowed me to land in a great place to work, but I am also always resting comfortably in the arms of my Lord and Savior!   

 

Day 11–Five thankful people

*Special thanks to Mary Agrusa for writing today’s post for our “28 days of love” project. Be sure to check out her blog as well.*

 

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1

Photo courtesy of Phoopla Photography & Design

Photo courtesy of Phoopla Photography & Design

Five categories of people who should give thanks to God are listed in Psalm 107. Which one(s) are you?

Verses 1-3 state that anyone who is redeemed should thank God because He is good and His love never ceases.

Verses 4-9 describe those who were lost, wandered aimlessly and had no hope. Hungry and thirsty, they cried out to God for help. He heard them, led them to safety and cared for them. They’re to thank God not only for His unfailing love, but also for supplying their needs.

Verses 10-15 refer to those in prison literally or figuratively of their own making. Their bad choices produced severe consequences. They’re instructed to give thanks because God set them free from their incarceration.

Verses 17-22 cover those who as a result of their rebellious actions suffer serious physical and psychological illness. Their lives spiraled downhill toward the grave. They cried out to God, He heard them and sent His word that healed and rescued them. They’re to give thanks to God publicly and sing songs of their deliverance.

Verses 23-32 tell of those caught in a ferocious storm. Violent winds and crashing waves tossed them about mercilessly. They cried out to God, Who with a whisper, stilled the storm and guided them to safety. They’re to thank God for His love and praise Him in the assembly of people.

Where ever you find yourself in these groups the end result is the same. Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and His love never fails.

 

What will be on your gratitude list in 2013?

*Special thanks to Henry Petty for serving as today’s guest contributor, AGAIN! He’s such a huge help to me in keeping this blog going during times when I’m busier. I am so thankful for him and for other friends who have stepped up and written posts for the blog. As you read this post, contemplate what your gratitude list will look like at the end of 2013. Remember, gratitude’s a choice. I hope you choose it today!*

Henry’s 2013 gratitude list

ImageI will focus on being grateful in 2013 for opportunities.  I will come up on my 5 year anniversary where I work, and that will open a lot of doors to positions that I really didn’t get a shot at before.  I think it’s time to move on from what I’ve been doing the past 5 years, and if the Lord allows me to and it’s in His plan, I will pursue that and show off my other talents.

I will focus on being grateful for a new and improved Henry.  I am bringing back the old Henry that I grew to love so much, yet grew so far apart from.  I have learned about “being a man”, but this year I am going to take control of it.  It’s taken me a while to realize what works and doesn’t work in this world.  Let’s just say – I replaced the super Mario bros keychain with a Swiss army knife.  No, I’m not going all “mountain man” on you, but I am maturing into a more resourceful and scrappy dude.

I will focus for being grateful for what I have, and grateful for the things I cannot change that bring harm or good to me – for those things exist for an unexplained reason.

I will focus on being grateful for the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  The idea that the almighty God our creator is willing to just put Himself out there right in front of us, humbled, as the Priest hands us the unleavened bread at Communion is…. breathtakingly awesome. 

For more from Henry, check out his blog!

Pair-ables

*Special thanks to Debra Dickey-Liang for stepping in as today’s guest writer.*

Speaking in Pair-ables  

(aka, the Perpetual state of “we”)

Photo courtesy of Phoopla Photography

I do! I speak in ‘pair-ables’!  I have become aware that when writing, thinking or speaking about my life experiences and my life journeys, I most often use the pronoun “we.” It just comes out automatically!  From childhood, I do not remember a time when I have not been a part of a “we,” and in that one respect, I am very lucky!  But also since childhood, I cannot remember a time that I was not expected to be, or when I chose to be, responsible for or in charge of, another human or creature other than myself — a “we” situation!  I have no recollection of ever feeling as if I were an “I.”

Being the oldest child, and growing up on a farm, responsibility was as natural as breathing! In my life, I realize with unadulterated gratitude, what fortunate circumstances I grew up in.  We were not well off by any stretch of the imagination, but I had a Mom and a Dad who made it their business to see that we were a family.  We ate at the table together, we worked in the field together, we did chores together – we cared about each other.  Our family was always all about “we” — an inherent and remarkable part of my being, solidifying and defining who I am.

Would I have chosen a different direction if given the opportunity?  Would I have struck out to catapult myself into the life of an “I?”  I’ll never know, because becoming a Mom established me forever as a “we.”  More “we” (sometimes ‘wheee!’) than you could ever imagine, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!  I have realized that I have no comprehension of a different kind of life, or a cognizance of a life that does not include a sidekick or two, whether they be human or creature.  “We!”  And forever on my journeys and in my life, I think in terms of my roots, and I realize that my actions and reactions continue to be invariably colored by the knowledge that I instinctively consider and take into account a responsibility for the safety and well-being of those lives that are given me by God to care for and watch over, and my stories expand proportionately with telling to involve all participants in order to embrace the invaluable contributions that they make in my life.

So for better or worse, I am in the habit of talking in plurals. I am a “pair” with whoever is tagging along at the moment, even if it is just walking the dog!  I think that is comical.  We!  In Matthew 28:20, even the Word of the Lord assures us . . . ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’  We!  Isn’t it grand?