Friday, July 29, 2011

Life is an amusement park ride...

I know I've said it before, but I absolutely love summer!!  We've been having so much fun!!  It has been packed full as always, but I wouldn't change has been a blast!  I'm realizing that it is coming to an end thought...with soccer tournaments, practices, scrimmages and then games starting this weekend, the school time routine is about to begin:( 

Our last big event of the summer has been a visit from my twin brother and his family...we've had a great time with them as always!!  My stomach muscles are sore from laughing so much and I have definitely eaten more than my share of junk to last for a while:)  We drove up to Sandusky and spent a day at Cedar Point and couple nights at the Kalahari Resort and indoor/outdoor water park, which is an amazing place to stay (in case you want a fun place to take the fam:)!!  We spent the first day at Cedar Point, which is well known for having some of the best roller coasters around.  We got there shortly after it opened and went straight to a roller coaster (the Raptor) as we entered the park.  I was so excited since it'd been a while since I'd ridden one!  We stood in line for over an hour in the hot sun (although I'm not was only in the mid 80's with little to no humidity...sorry to my friends down south:).  For those who don't know me well, I have always struggled with motion sickness.  Although I've never been able to ride things that spin, most of the time I've been able to ride rollercoasters without much trouble.  But it seems now as I'm getting older, that's not so much the case.  We got on the 'Raptor' and I was so's one of those roller coasters where your feet dangle, which is so cool!  The ride started and as soon as we went through the first twist and loop, I realized that I was not feeling so good.  I shut my eyes and just prayed for the ride to hurry and be over so I could get off.  It was a horrible feeling!!  As soon as it was over, I went and sat on a bench in the shade and Scott went to get me some water.  I felt gross for the next couple of hours and decided that it was not worth it, no matter how fun it was, to ride any more rollercoasters.  I rode the antique cars, the ferris wheel and, one of my favorites, the bumper cars:) and that was it....all day!!!  I sat out while everyone else enjoyed all the wild rides.  The crazy thing is, I still had a great time!!  There was something about seeing my family all having fun and laughing that made it all worth it to me!  I loved seeing their faces when they would come off a ride to tell me how incredible it was!!  I couldn't help but have a good time knowing they were having a great day!    

My life has been much like amusement park rides in many ways.  Like my day at Cedar Point, the 'Raptors' of my life, with all the twists, turns and loops, have brought highs and lows...some have been hard to go through and left me feeling bad, but others have brought much happiness and laughter.  Sometimes, my life has been like the bumper cars....aimless, out of control, bumpy and stuck.  Other times, it's been smooth, much like the ferris wheel where I could just sit back and enjoy life and the view from the top.  I realize that sometimes I'm so wrapped up in what's going on in my own life that I fail to recognize the joys and sorrows of others.  I'm so thankful for the people in my life, like my brother and his family, that have helped me to realize that we don't go through life alone!!  In the good times and bad, we have each other...what a true blessing!    

So the second thing in my countdown to 40 that I want to work on:

2.  Enjoying the ride, whether it be mine or others!!  Knowing that life is not always going to be smooth, I want to enjoy the journey by taking in the little things that I sometimes might miss otherwise.  I want to find joy and celebrate with others in the good times and, as well, be sensitive and understanding when others go through hard times.

It was so hard to say goodbye to my family as they left to go back to OKC...It makes me wish that we lived closer so we could see each other more:(  I feel truly blessed to have such amazing people in my life that I can enjoy all the many rides of life with... 



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The time machine...

We had a great visit this past weekend with Scott's sister and family in town!  We ate (too much), talked, played games, and laughed a lot....I love times like that!  On Sunday we watched the USA women's soccer team play Japan in the World Cup game with our nieces, Joy and Gloria, who are 11 and 9.  We were all very into it and, obviously, disappointed at the outcome...there's nothing worse than losing to penalty kicks if you ask me!!  It was so cute though when Gloria (the 9 year old), after Japan scored their second goal in the last few minutes of the game to tie the game said, "I wish I had a time machine so I could go back and change the score so Japan wouldn't have scored that goal."  It was so funny and we had a good laugh, but I actually got to thinking about it later and what she said is sometimes how I feel about my life and my past.   If I had a time machine, there are many things I'd like to go back and change....or would I?

**I think about how different my life would be if I hadn't lost my mom when I was 12 years old.  What if I had stayed home that Valentine's night 26 years ago?  How would my life look today and how would it have had an affect on the woman I've become?  I know my mom would have loved being a grandma!  She loved children and I know she would have been so proud!  I see friends of mine and the relationship they have with their moms and I can't help but wish I had that too.  There are so many reasons I'd love to have my mom back.... BUT, on the other hand, going through a tragic loss has helped me to have compassion and understanding for other's going through tough's helped me to learn to weather the storms of life and know that God won't give me anything that I can't's helped me to find amazing women along the way that I've been able to look up to as a wife and mother....out of a bad situation, much good has come!

**I think about choices I've made in the past that I'd like to go back and change.  I've done some things I'm not proud of and I know at times I can beat myself up by some poor choices with words and actions that I can never get back....BUT, on the other hand,  I've learned so many lessons from the mistakes I've made in my life and I've grown from them too....they've helped me to be less judgmental of others as we're only human and will fall down at times....I've learned that getting back up and dusting myself off and moving forward is what I have to do....I've learned to lean on God and to accept His grace and forgiveness in my life....out of some bad choices I've made, I can see the good I've learned from it!

**I think about how much more money we'd have saved by now if I'd have made some better financial decisions and didn't like to shop and spend so much:)....BUT,  on the other hand, I've learned that money and "stuff" can't buy happiness and that the people in my life who I love and love me is what really matters....I've learned (and am learning) about being content with what I have (this is tough for me:)....I've learned that having and making more money is not all about what it can do for me, but how I can use what I've been blessed with to help others....out of some bad financial decisions, I can see the good things that have come out of it!

The list could go on with things I might have done differently looking back, but the reality is that there are so many things that, if I went back and changed, might have kept me from learning all that I have!  I have so much to be thankful for TODAY...I don't want to waste time wishing I could change things that I never can....I'd rather focus on what I can do today and from here on out.  So, in my countdown to 40,  the second thing I've learned from the past that can help me in the future...

2.  I've learned that even through the bad things that have happened and mistakes I've made in the past, I can find the good that's come out of it and make better choices in the future.

Although a time machine sounds good in theory, if I were to change my past, I wouldn't be where I am today.  That's not to say if I were to go back I would do things the same way or want tragic things to happen, but I am happy to be where I am today and want to enjoy each new day that lies before me.  Thank you God for today...make it a great one!!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

What Am I Living For?

I absolutely love summertime!!  I love my kids being home, no crazy schedule to keep, spending time by the pool with friends, traveling, and much more.  It always seems to be over way too fast for me.  I just got home last night after being gone for over a week to OKC and Louisville, KY.  Scott and I were in Kentucky for part of the Nazarene Youth Conference last week...this is a week set aside every four years for high schoolers from all over to come together and have fun, meet new people, do work projects, and be challenged in their walk with the Lord and grow spiritually.   It was great to see people we haven't seen for a long time and catch up, but I have to say that my favorite part of being there was looking across the arena during the services and seeing my boys standing with their hands lifted high worshipping the brought tears to my eyes!  It is amazing to see them taking on their own faith and living out a relationship with the Lord!  Like so many, we've raised our kids in the church and talked to them about faith and how it should impact our lives and the way we live, but now I'm seeing them own their own faith and it is so neat!!  By no means have I been the perfect example to my boys...I've made so many mistakes and have struggled in my own faith over the last several years, but God has been so faithful and patient as I've been humbled and broken before Him....I'm so thankful for His love and grace in my life!!  

One of the nights we were there, Francis Chan spoke and it was great!!  He gave an illustration that has really stuck with me and forever will.  He challenged me to not just live for the now and what happens in this lifetime, but to live with eternity in!!  We hear that all the time, but the video below is a great illustration of it. 

I know, for me, that I spend a lot of time thinking about and dreaming about what I'm going to do during this lifetime....not really thinking about how short this life really is....even though I do recognize how precious life is and how in a moment everything, in what seems to be a "perfect" world, can be taken away....I've been there.  As  a 12 year old, on Feb. 14, 1985, my life was changed forever when my mom was home one day when I got home from school, in a coma a few hours later, and 4 days later gone from this world forever...I have to say, my little world was shattered in an instant and what happened back then has shaped much of who I am today, 26 years later.  What and Who am I living for today??  I may not have tomorrow so I want today to count.  I don't want to miss out on a chance to tell my boys how much I love them and how proud I am of them.  I don't want to miss out on the chance to make a difference in the life of someone who doesn't know that there is more to this short time here on earth.  I want to make each day count!!

So, as I stood in the Louisville, KY airport last week, on my way to OKC, I was reminded of what I heard the night before from Francis Chan.  I stood behind a lady who was complaining about the line being so long to get through the security checkpoint and how they needed to have more people working, bla, bla, bla:)  I just smiled at her, asked her if she was running late to catch her flight, which she wasn't, told her that maybe they were shorthanded because someone had called in sick, and just tried to be positive (even though my shoulder and back were tired from my heavy backpack and I was ready to get through the checkpoint too:).  She just looked at me and continued to pace and grumble.  I don't know what she'd been through that morning or the day before or what her life was like, but I do hope that in that few moments in line she was able to see, not me, but Him shining through me.  This life is short...just a small red mark on a rope...but I want to live with eternity in mind.

So, the first thing I'm going to work on in my "countdown to 40" is...
1.  Being positive, even when those around me are being negative.  This kind of piggybacks what I talked about in my last post about things I've learned from my past....learning to focus on the positive things from my past and not the negative things.  I want to be someone who is positive and encouraging in a sometimes very negative and discouraging world.  I love being around positive people...they are uplifting and fun to be around....I hope I can be that to others around me, even those I only come in contact one time in my lifetime.  God, help me to live my life in such a way that others see You through me. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Remembering what once was...

Home where my dad's grandparents retired on Poplar St...
Home where my grandmother grew up on High St...

My dad came to visit this past weekend and we had a great time!  One of the things we did was drive about an hour and a half Southwest to the small town of Nelsonville, Ohio where my dad's mother grew up.  My dad hadn't been back there since his grandfather passed away...he and my mom were engaged so it was back in the late 60's.  It was interesting how 40 years later, as we drove into town, all of a sudden memories came flooding back to my dad.  As he found the house his mother was raised in and the one his grandparents has retired in, the stories started flowing.  He talked of remembering his grandfather sitting on the porch swing watching the world go by, working in the garden to the side of the house, a chicken coup to the back of the house, and on and on.  His grandfather had been the town grocer and had done well back in his day and my dad remembers a big white house with pillars up on a hill and a clean and pristine yard, but the houses were now old and dilapidated....falling apart with overgrown shrubbery...and, by todays standards, not big at all....obviously not the houses or place he remembered from his youth.  As we were driving out of Nelsonville to head back to Mount Vernon, my dad made the comment that has stuck with me...."I'm just glad that I can remember what it used to look like...those are the memories I have and want to remember."  

I began to think of how we remember things from the past, both good and bad, and how they help to shape the person that we are today.  My dad was obviously greatly influenced by his grandfather Frances and respected him very much.  I felt like I kind of knew him after listening to my dad tell stories about him.  It makes me wonder how I'm going to be remembered and talked about 3 generations from now...I can only hope that my grandchildren can talk about me the way that my dad talked about his grandfather.  He did talk about some of the negative things too...that's a part of life...but the positive overshadowed those things.  This little journey we took down memory lane couldn't have come at a better time than at the beginning of my countdown to 40.  I want to remember my past and the legacy of those who've gone before me...oh, it's not all positive that's for sure.  I know when I go back and revisit some things from my upbringing (and I've done this a lot in recent years), I have found many things were not as I remembered them to be or how I would have wanted or dreamed for them to be, but I'm so thankful that I have the choice to focus on the good things.  

So in my countdown to 40 things I've learned from the past that I want to learn from and grow from....
1.  I've learned that I have the choice to focus more on the positive things and not the negative things that have happened in my life and my dad helped me to see this in spending this past weekend with him.  He chooses to see the best in the people that have been and are in his life as well as the things that have happened in his life,  both in his control and out of his control.  Although my dad and I may not see eye to eye on everything, I respect him as my father and love him dearly.  Thank you God for my dad and the legacy of those that have gone before me!!