Archive | August 2013

1 out of 365

I heard a date the other night and I know my face flinched as a cloud of dark memories surrounded me. I tried to pretend that it didn’t to everyone around me. I left it unexplained as I often do. There are only 365 days in a year and only one date makes my skin crawl.

September 22nd….

Like a dark looming cloud this date approaches me. This last year I tried to skim by the day, but I knew it was coming in the calmness of the storm that defined so many dark moments for me for the ten years that this cloud had followed me previously.

history

In the fall of 2000, I was a sophomore at Radford University. I was taking full-time classes and living in Bolling Hall on the second floor.  My roommate April and I had picked the room, because it had two large windows that faced the quad that was lined with large magnolia trees. To make ends meet I had applied for a work study at Dalton the closest dining hall. I wore these ridiculous polo style shirts in multiple shades of pastel on different days. Everyones favorite combination was the pink day and a green hat. My friends still joke that I looked like a strawberry. I worked the food line slopping food on serving trays and take out bins.

::slop:: ::slop:: ::slop::

It was a job… a greasy, filthy job, and one that I should have hated but I loved in retrospect. This was a different kind of work study. This job you worked side by side the local blue collar types that were not students. Just your average single moms and the chef that ran the kitchen had a serious power trip. There were cooks and line ladies… I was a line lady and this was where I met one of my dearest friends, Sally. She was tall with long brown hair and a big vibrant smile. We spent hours and hours standing slopping food together. We had a blast popping those trays from the warmer station, that looked like big stainless steel refrigerators, and slamming them into the warming stations. Stirring the contents up with spoons larger than three quarters of my arm. We told all kinds of stories during the slow times leaning up against those large warmers. There were countless hours of gabbing about our nieces and nephews while wiping down the lines and joking about how we were at risk for the recent meningitis outbreak. We chatted about our career hopes and our interest in the deaf community. Also discussing my future husband and her single life. One of the local line ladies, whose name escapes me now, kept telling Sally that Phil, a cook in the back, was “checking her out”. We would giggle like school girls when he would bring us a fresh tray of slop. Eventually, the two of them fell madly in love. I wish I had photographs of these moments, but instead I have warm silly memories of being young and carefree.

steam burns and laughter

It’s funny the things your memory gives you. Sally’s hands were strong and unique. Hands you would want a caretaker to have. Like a nurse with strong and gentle hands she worked diligently with a fun attitude. We worked most of that year together and she was always easy going and she and Phil were so in love. At one point, I remember her coming in with a glum look on her face. I wasn’t sure how to take it… this was very uncharacteristic of her. Her parents had gone on a horseback riding trip to Ireland. Her mother, Patricia, had been in a terrible accident. She took phone calls in the kitchen that night. Over the next few months, Sally was not the same. Her mother was transferred back to the United States and continued her rehabilitation here after surgery to her brain. Slowly, Sally left that semester without any explanation to me, but I knew she was caring for her grandfather and later her mother. I had no number and no e-mail. Nothing, but Phil’s updates. I kept in touch with the line ladies too over time. The following year I was offered a position in work study as an assistant to the Dean of the College Health and Human Services. I spent the summer in silence from Sally.

distance and loneliness

In August of 2001, I was taking European Geography that semester. I was psyched about it. I walked to the building for my first class and there was a little brick circle out front that was filled with flowers. As luck would have it Sally was sitting on the brick circle out front waving at me. We gave each other a big hug and she explained to me that she finished up her courses early and had somethings waved from the previous semester because of her family emergency. She had spent a good amount of time caring for her mother. Who had still been in a mostly vegetative state. The doctors had said she would never talk, walk or much of anything again.  Sally looked more settled than the person I remember seeing before she had left the semester before. She and Phil were doing great. In the weeks that passed she and I would meet out front and walk and talk since by luck her class was next to mine. In the weeks that followed school became very chaotic. This same class that I was going into is the same class that I watched the second plane go into the second tower on September 11, 2001. My memories of this time are blurry. One thing I distinctly remember was standing out on that circle and her interrupting me to take a cell phone call. I knew it was important as she sat pulling it out of her pocket sitting at that same brick circle. She instantly shot up… smiling and crying all at the same time. Then she moved to nervous giggling and pacing. She hung up the phone and hugged me. It was her mother. Her mother had picked up the phone, called and spoke with her all on her own. What great strides Patricia had made….

chill bumps…

In the spring of 2002 we had a class called Teaching Writing together. We traveled to Blacksburg HS and taught a creative writing unit together. We did a lesson on writing poetry with your senses and they ate candy blindfolded and then wrote about different kinds. It was fun. I didn’t have a car so Sally and I road together in her car to go observing and teaching. These half hour trips to another town just filled with endless conversation and lots of laughing. It was a fun year.. she and I. We didn’t do much outside of school related things. I would go to her place and work on lessons or writing. The next summer we lost track a little bit, but by August we were both middle school teaching majors and all of our classes were together. There were seventeen of us in our cohort and two professors. This time riding together was just normal and routine. We’d been friends for two years and were very close in conversation. Although, she went on and on about how she detested Hillary Clinton and I rather like her. Other than Sally’s republican talk and my democratic perspectives our conversations flowed like water and if they didn’t we were still having a blast. Music was always a topic of conversation. This was one of her favorites.

My boyfriend at the time and I had decided to get married and were ready to have the serious talks with our families. Phil and Sally had decided they were moving in that direction too, but it was very important to Sally that she marry a Catholic man. In her strength and her fathers they brought Phil to their faith and he moved towards a conversion to the Catholicism with Sally’s father as Phil’s mentor. Sally’s father a lawyer was a devote Catholic. Sally said once that her dad had mentioned with all of the struggles that Patricia had gone through that if he lost her he would just move forward with becoming a priest. It was very important to her to have Phil move forward and was just awestruck by her father’s dedication to the man  with which she was so in love. Sally and I were seeing each other every day driving to class and work at Blacksburg Middle. Life was busy, but John and I had decided we were going to take this whole marriage thing to another level and we were prepared to organize our wedding for right after graduation. Sally and I talked about how I was going to tell my parents and worried how that was going to go and my parents were stopping by on the way to West Virginia so I took the opportunity to tell them. They were very excited…. I couldn’t wait to fill Sally in on all the conversation…

my parents… her parents

Sally stopped by afterwards to see my new mice. What possessed me to own pet mice I have no idea, but they had had babies and Sally just had to come see. I remember the baby mice sitting in Sally’s large and gentle hands. We were talking wedding plans and she just gently held the mice smiling. Sally’s connection with animals was amazing especially with horses. Her apartment bedroom was filled with ribbons and awards from her riding events. We talked about many things related to the animals, weddings, family, faith, and teaching too.

his parents

The next hurdle for us was to tell John’s parents we were getting married.  I was nervous, more nervous, about this one. Our families were so different and yet we were so in love. I was leaving for the weekend after my Friday afternoon class. Sally had a big weekend too. It was her mother’s birthday weekend and they were traveling to Fredericksburg. This was a big weekend for their family and she wasn’t about to miss it. See Patricia had made bigger strides than calling Sally on the phone. As a surprise for her family Patricia went to the party to show her friends and relatives she had regained the ability to walk. Sally was so excited as she walked out the door of the class with her hair down and sunglasses on her head as usual. She said, “Good Luck!” and I said, “You too. Have fun. Travel Carefully.” She turned and said while flashing a big smile, “You too!”

sunglasses, smiles, and salutations

Telling his parents went as smoothly as one could anticipate. I was so excited a date was in place and things were coming together. He had his father, his best man, lined up while my sisters and his sister were ready to stand with us. We were ready to pick colors and bridesmaid gowns. We were filled with excitement. I was elated and excited the whole way back home to the apartment. I had to observe in Blacksburg the next day and I was ready to go now that all my plans were in place with my life. I got up that morning and couldn’t wait for Sally to get there to take me the 30 minutes into town. I waited and waited and waited…. she didn’t show. She would never just not show. No call nothing. So I called her cell and got the voicemail… I begged John to drive me to Blacksburg. I was upset I was late, but I wasn’t mad at her. I was worried to pieces. Before I left, I put a note on the front door worried she was just on her way. I left her a voicemail urging her to call me and let me know she was alright.

John rushed me to the school and I felt awful. Showing up late… setting my things down in a hurry when I reached the classroom. The teacher I worked with, Sharon, looked at me oddly and I told her I was frantically worried about my friend. She assured me that it would be fine although it was out of character for my friend. Oddly, the door opened and a lady from the office, looking solemn and displeased, told Sharon that all student teachers were to gather their belongings and come to the conference room. I grabbed my things knowing that there was a cloud. My knees were shaking and I asked the office lady what was wrong and she said she wasn’t sure. I knew right then and should have stopped, but I walked into the storm. When I arrived to the room it was almost empty except the two professors were there. I just looked them in the eyes and said “This is about Sally. Tell me this is not about Sally.” I fell back into a chair as she responded… Yes. They weren’t expecting my meltdown. I should have been alone or the last one to arrive, but they were not anticipating this closeness between Sally and I as they had only known us for a few short weeks. Instead the other fifteen cohort members followed in behind me. I could not hold myself up and I could not cope. They went on to tell us that Sally, Patricia and Sally’s father were traveling home after her big birthday party on Sunday when a drunk driver drove over into their lane plunging into the passenger side. Patricia and Sally died instantly and her father had managed to survive with some scrapes and an injured arm.

Sunday September 22, 2002

sally's note

This is the original. I’m not sure why I kept it, but maybe I was hoping someone would pinch me and I’d wake up.

My mind racing… her voicemail message.. the note.. all the things I couldn’t wait to hear about their trip… all the things I wanted to tell her about my weekend… my friend. not. my. friend. The last time she spoke to me… the travel carefully’s the look over her shoulder the sunglasses the smile. Patricia… this is so unfair… so unfair.

Monday September 23, 2002

I had never experienced pain like this… A loss this close….A friend so dear. No matter our conversations or what we talked about or what came of it then I had lost a special person in my life. I was falling apart right there with the cohort and my professors in that conference room. Simply falling apart… To grieve in such a manner in retrospect is almost embarrassing to realize how many people saw me so raw and in the moment of despair.  Nothing had hurt so badly as that moment right there.

One of the cohort members walked me outside for air and loaned me her phone. I called John… all I could say was “Sally’s gone… she’s gone.” He didn’t understand, but he came to get me. We talked in the conference room and the group eventually dispersed and then came back together at Kelly’s house. Kelly was in the cohort and also quite close with Sally, but she was much wiser and experienced in grief than me and held it together. Our professors had agreed we would head back to teaching the next day and although we had all lived through September 11th and the “return quickly to routine” process… there was no way we could. Especially me… it wasn’t going to happen.tartan

My friends were quick to move into action. Sally’s note was taken off the door and ripped into pieces and hidden. They were all there or around ready to take care of me. I remember grieving so badly I couldn’t stand in the shower or walk the distance of the short hall without holding onto a door frame. I had so many family members and friends come to see me and call me. Those first few weeks were the most raw. We attended the visitation, the funeral, and held a memorial service for her. We raised money in her honor and had a display put up at a nearby horseback riding facility with her name on it and bought her a brick on the memorial path at the university. Mostly, I just missed her… the years of conversation… the laughter… the smiles.. raw is the best way to describe it. In the coming months, my professor urged me to seek counseling or a local church. I just wanted my friends and family. My professor said I lacked faith and she was right, but I didn’t realize it at the time. I worked and worked to get through student teaching and pushed myself hard. I planned the wedding and worked as a student teacher full-time. The professor and I were what felt like head to head. She gave me good reviews but she pushed me hard. I have been bitter about that relationship for some time… I think she simply didn’t know how to handle me.

I graduated the following May. We were set to marry in July. So right before graduation… I decided to get a dog. I needed a companion for the upcoming journey I was headed on. It sounds silly, but I wanted a male yellow lab. It was what I had hoped for, but I went from shelter to shelter looking for this new companion. None of the animals we came across were the right fit. We went to a place nearby to look at a dog not meeting the description, but we went anyways. I wasn’t impressed with the dog and found myself very disappointed. The fence rattled and shook behind me with a loud bark. I turned to see a very happy male yellow lab mix standing on his hind legs onto the fence. A one year old guy named Luke. Instantly, he had my heart.

If you know me, you know that Luke is a staple in my life even now, but many don’t know why. As this dark cloud still hovered over me I cried raindrops into Luke’s coat. He was my therapy. The best I had had yet.  In the months that followed from May to our wedding in July, Luke was beside me all the way… I walked him daily, cuddled with him on sofa, and took him almost everywhere. I would just sob and hold him as I finally was able to work through my grief. I was so damaged by my experience and exhausted that I could not teach. I didn’t even know if I wanted to teach anymore. I had lost a lot of strength. Looking back it was a lot of surviver’s guilt mentality.

I graduated. She didn’t. I was in love. She was in love. I was getting married. Phil was alone. Her father was alone. She wanted to teach and I had lost the desire to do it. Patricia had worked so hard to walk and lost everything so quickly. My thoughts overwhelmed me.

By December, with Luke’s help, I was ready to try teaching so I started with substituting. By April, I had a job contract for the following year and the rest of my sulking is in the history books. Luke had managed to pull me out of my depths of despair and I gained confidence and strength. I’m not sure what happened to Phil, but Sally’s dad did just as she said he would and is now a priest in North Carolina. I have been unable to contact him or any of her other family… ever. I just could not do it and still remain unable to own my grief and feel as though I had any inclination as to the pain they must have felt. My professors and I have not spoken since my graduation. I have been unable to get beyond some of my bitterness with that situation.

 photo of sally

Sally is not gone from my mind. I’m certain that when I meet someone named Sally I have a tinge the falls over my face and it takes some time for me to call those persons by name. When I first saw my new principal, Stephanie, at my new job I didn’t see her… I saw Sally… I have to gulp and swallow that down even as I type it… Her vibrant smile and the dark hair. My cousins’ wife- her hands look just like Sally’s. My friend Jenna’s equestrian awards in her guest room reminds me of Sally’s bedroom. When I hear September 22nd… it’s raw emotion… full rawness and I remember myself in that conference room falling apart completely. In the shower unable to stand and countless other memories.

I used to think it was strange when someone remembered a date when someone had passed away. Oh how naive I was… I know that cloud is visible mid conversation when her name is said or the date. Sometimes I can’t even explain why she came into my mind.

Advertisements

What would you do if you suddenly had a million dollars…

As requested by a reader- What would you do with a million dollars?

Once you think about what you would do with just one million you quickly run out of funds. 

1. I would pay off both mortgages and buy a larger home in the same neighborhood. The other two houses would remain rental property. All in all this would be about 450,000.

2. I would give 200,000 split between some family members to put towards their mortgages.

3. I would give 100,000 to my church to pay towards the mortgage and building fund.

4. I would invest substantial amounts into funds for my children and their college expenses. 

5. I would pay off any other debts that we have… which aren’t much but I’d get them off my mind.

6. I would make sure one of my elderly family members had enough for their general welfare.

 

Our jobs wouldn’t change.

Cars wouldn’t change.

We could use the additional funds from the rental property and not having to pay a mortgage to invest in some new living room furniture…really it would be awesome right now. Those funds would be equivalent of making over 1600 more a month and not paying a mortgage anymore.

Knowing John and I we would invest in more property and make some improvements on the houses we own. We’d just do it slowly over time.

We would increase our retirement savings and put more in our general savings. 

We would reasonably increase our tithes to the church.

To be honest I’d probably get a pedicure more often. 

Lastly, even given our luck, I would take the time to call and thank Dave Ramsey for financial peace along the way.

 

Stop. Think. Pray.

Image

Maggie’s costume I made in the fall of 2010.

For the next 6 months I will be writing once a week on a topic given by my readers. This topic was provided by a friend who is trying to decide whether or not to leave their job that they are just “over” that provides some income and time to spend with the kids and go after something they are passionate about and take a risk in doing so.

The topic provided was – “DISCERNING the difference between the Universe nudging you (or shoving) in a direction vs. wishful thinking to go in said direction vs. the anti-Universe tempting you with things to move you in the wrong direction.”

My answer is…

Stop. Take time to think. Pray.

Image

Apple pie I baked entirely from scratch last fall.

When I was teaching typically there was once a day that I would look at the window of the door to see someone else watching me teach and just smile. The first time this happened I went to the door and asked if everything was okay and they replied, “Yes. Everything is fine just keep teaching. I’m enjoying watching you.” As the time went on, it was all kinds of people, administrators, co-teachers, librarians, parents, all kinds of folks just walking by… One person said to me “You know… I had no idea you had so much energy and charisma until I saw you with the children. Now I understand why you have so few discipline problems, your scores are good and the kids love you.” I poured everything into it and became a leader on my second year teaching and had an observer or student teacher from Virginia Tech every year that followed. My annual observations were great and I was not only scoring high on test scores, but also rapport with students, leadership skills and lesson planning were all high. Some people thought this passion was for history and honestly no… my passion is in teaching. I could be teaching anything and find a way to embrace it and teach it.

Image

Maggie’s 1st birthday cake I was determined to bake entirely from scratch. I did it!

In my personal life, I was pregnant the same year I became a leader and by December of my 2nd year of teaching I could not walk due to my pregnancy. My husband and I worked opposite shifts. We had juggled so much and managed to do so much in a short amount of time. Being a mother was always very important to me. I was very much in love with my son, but still had so much passion for my students. Two years later we struggled to get pregnant with our second child. I stepped down from my leadership at work to try to take out stress and worked on my fertility issues with the doctors. One person even said to me… “Well you know how to do it April.. you have a son. What could be so hard about having a baby?” I was told when I was 17 it would be hard to have children when the time came. Our son was a miraculous gift and blessing without much of a struggle. After months of fertility medicines and lots of stress, in November of 2008, we found out we were pregnant with our daughter. With the problems that I have I have an increased chance of losing babies and with Maggie we had a few scares of that, but she made it and we were truly blessed. Then we had the big scare with the babysitters the following fall after Maggie was born. My focus had gone away from teaching and more on being a Mom.

Image

No formal decorating skills for cakes, but it was fun and cute.

Being a mom was more important than teaching and having something so serious happen with the babysitter was a definite shove from the universe for me to make my decision to leave teaching. When I resigned from teaching I questioned and questioned everything. What if Crystal backed out and quit her job? What if John had to have another surgery? What if we had gotten the money wrong? What if something major happened to the house? What if our cars broke down? What if the insurance was too expensive? What if? What if? What if?

Stop. Take time to think. Pray.

Image

Maggie’s 2nd birthday.

When I was home everything ran smoothly and someone said to me, “What are your hobbies now that you just stay home with the kids?” No offense to all the stay at home moms out there, but I don’t “just” stay at home. Staying at home poses challenges like not having enough money to do fun things and needing to go places because you and your kids need it. I don’t discredit those moms at all, but if you think my kids get that kind of attention you are poorly not aware of the situation here at this house. I run a business- have a business license as well as my teaching license. I have a tax id and pay business property taxes on all of those strollers, beds and toys. Additionally, I pay independently for health insurance and have no covered holidays, sick days or retirement. I also have business insurance that we pay as well. I watch my kids yes, but also 5 others… yes that’s 7 kids a day. Currently, a 5 month old to a 7 year old. My doors to my home open at 7am and close at 6. During the school year, I have kids dropped off right at 7 and picked up right at 6. That is an 11 hour day and I work five days a week. This doesn’t include laundry, dishes, cooking or carpet cleaning that I do during my work and off hours. Once you count how much I make and how much we save from paying out daycare expenses I make just as much as I did when I was teaching. So for those who think I stepped down and took a cut in pay… surprise surprise my friend. It’s a job… a real one. I made it work. I took a risk but I made it work.

Image

I made these curtains from scrap fabric last summer for the daycare.

So after I patted down my ruffled feathers on the “just stay at home” comment I answered the hobbies question with right now I don’t have any to really speak of at the moment. I had put the kids first doing this daycare and put myself on the back burner. I have always put these things on back burners. Putting your passion and goals on the back burner is not setting an example for the kids anymore than overworking is and never being home for them… You must take care of yourself. That first fall after teaching I made curtains, Maggie’s Halloween costume, 8 pumpkin pies entirely from scratch, countless loaves of bread and batches of cookies. It felt so good to bake and sew. To have time to do things I loved doing. I gave half of my baked goods away. I painted some signs and frames. These were hobbies I had had for some time, but didn’t humor while I taught. Teaching engulfed all other passions and everything else I was doing and I allowed it to take that away from me. My husband is in an improv troupe and has been for about eight years. He rehearses one night a week almost all year and has a show once a month for 9 months out of the year. My son said to me, “So Daddy goes to rehearsal and has fun with his friends. When do you go out and what do you do for fun?” Um…. I sew, I paint, I bake…. He responds with, “Oh you don’t have fun often then.” Well… no. He says, “Daddy gets to go out once a week. You should too.” Yes. You’re right kiddo. Now I started to listen. I’m blogging, running, and throwing pottery (not very well, but I show up).

I will return to the classroom, but this time I want to be a duckling. I have no desire to be a leader. I want to teach. I want my passion back, but I refuse to lose myself in the job. I am a mom/wife/teacher/business owner/animal rescuer/blogger/painter/runner/baker/somewhat-sewing and clay-mess-making fool.

Image

Sookie the cat we rescued and adopted this spring. Sleeping soundly.

It may seem as though I have digressed a lot from the topic, but not really. To my friend who posed this topic. You can not go through life asking yourself “What ifs” or “I should haves”. I don’t question leaving teaching, I was burnt out and my passions were at a head with each other. I don’t question my business. I quieted the “what ifs” by prayer and trust that God would provide what we needed. I urge you to go after your passion and set a good example for your children by going after your dreams not sitting back waiting for time and life. Get side jobs to pay the bills… use common sense and have a cushion, but truly go after your passion. That alone will help your children grow and blossom by seeing you grow and not stand idle just for them.

Stop. Think. Pray.

I met a mom the other day that has a new empty nest. She left her business job to stay home with the kids and now they are off to college and she’s trying some new hobbies. She said to me, “The only “I should have” that I have is I wished that I had focused on me. Would the kids have thought less of me if I had not been able to afford soccer one year? They now say to me that they wished I had taken more time for myself and I wish that I had.” As much as we try to set good examples, for our children, in being at home and there for them… It is just as bad of an example to set that your needs are not as important as everyone else. It is important that we don’t put ourselves ahead of everyone, but equally important that we don’t put everyone ahead of us either.

Image

The tallest thing I’ve managed at pottery.

Life is too short to be unhappy with your job and situation. So stop. Use your common sense make a plan to pay the bills and go after your passion. Pray and ask God for guidance and be thankful for your blessings.

I truly believe that if we stop, think it through, and pray that we will go the way we need to for us. Our path is unpaved, but if you stop the “what ifs” with common sense thinking and prayer you wont spend anytime saying I should have… You know the decisions you made were right at the time. Have faith that sitting on that bench in the park and taking a break from the path to just stare at the tree tops and be amazed by God’s wonders that when you get up from the bench you will go on the correct path. If you go left, right or straight doesn’t matter if you listened to God in the trees you will take the path you were supposed to for you. Don’t make rash decisions, but stop. think. pray.

For my readers who want to give topics. You may either message me on fb or leave a comment to this post on fb. If you are a wordpress follower and are requesting a topic just post it on the comments to the blog. If you want it private say so 🙂 and I wont post the comment to the blog.

Musical Memory Tour

You don’t think about it until you hear a song, but sometimes when you hear a song it makes you think of someone or something you did. Some people in our lives make us think of special song.

Today’s blog will require headphones if you are sneaking and reading at work (not that any of my readers would do that) – I apologize for the inconvenience.

I have found that music is more therapeutic than I realized and over time it has blessed me with many moments. Some of them are sad, some of them are happy, but all of them are special.

This is a list of songs that remind me of other people… and why.

Our wedding was amazing and I am still moved, but this is the song after we were announced husband and wife.

A few weeks before my friend Sally died we discussed how we love John Prine- especially Angel From Montgomery and his version of the song is the best. She was very special to me in college and was tragically killed by a drunk driver. A blog for her will be in the future, but I’m just not ready yet.

My aunt Peggy who was taken from us far too soon was more like a cousin because she was so much younger than her siblings. She spent a lot of time with the cousins instead of her siblings and because of that we have some special memories of her. In my young preteen to teen years.. of early to late 90s, Peggy would visit and she was that cool older kid that could drive you places. So in the summer we would roll down the windows and crank up the Metallica. Most people remember her as being a Grateful Dead fan, but my memory will always be filled with her when Metallica comes on.

My mom went to Liberty University and sang in their chorus. She still loves to sing and all kinds of songs that make me think of her. The Carpenters, Toni Braxton, Shania Twain, numerous hymns… the list goes on…

The entire Sound of Music movie! Ha – here is one for my Mom. This reminds me of rainy days and car trips…

For my friend Jenna- Poppin’ Tags!

This one reminds me of John’s mom. Whenever she starts talking about the good ole days she starts singing this song.

and this one too

Granny Bryant’s favorite song- She always asked John to play it when we visited. So he’d bring his acoustic guitar and strum away for her singing and playing this several times every visit. It never got old to see someone so pleased by her grandson playing her favorite tune.

My Dad- We went to see Rush with my Dad. It was one of the best concerts we’ve ever been to, but my dad loves music too. You could include Metallica, Queen, Marc Cohn, again the list goes on…. he loves music.

For my friend April- There are so many songs that remind me of her, but this reminds me of our friendship.

For my friend Ingrid- This was like the anthem of our senior year of high school. Ingrid and I spent lots of time together that year. When I hear it I think of her. Miss you muah!

John’s Dad. Now this isn’t his favorite song, but at our wedding we didn’t have our car and John’s dad had his. My mom forgot the music for our wedding. We only had the songs for during the ceremony and John’s dad only had the Best of James Taylor in the car…. so we had a lot of James Taylor playing at our wedding. This is my favorite James Taylor song. Because of this every time we hear James Taylor it reminds us of our wedding. Best mess up ever 🙂

This could very well be my father in laws song… all the Hokies understand.

For my friend Tonya- Sorry to out you like this but I can’t help but remember you wearing pajama pants in college with a hairbrush as a microphone… good times singing Britney Spears.

This is just a “short” list and one that I’ve always wanted to write down so I didn’t forget them. I love music and this doesn’t even touch on my own personal favorites. I hope you enjoyed it especially those included in it. In the comment section or on fb list any songs that when you hear them make you think of me and return the favor. 🙂

Be part of the blog… What do you want to know?

Our pastor urged us to do something new for the next 6 months. I laughed when he mentioned an example of not running the dishwasher and hand washing one load of dishes by hand a week. I couldn’t help but laugh. I run the dishwasher once a day sometimes twice and always seem to have something to do by hand. I couldn’t help but laugh. I think he thought I was laughing at the idea of taking the time to do that, but really I found it amusing. He is going to be calling three people a day and asking them what they need prayers for and then he will spend the next day praying for them. I think it is an awesome idea. John and I have been struggling with even choosing what we will do for the next 6 months. We immediately thought we should purge our house. There is just so much stuff and it is smothering. So we’ve decided on that one to do as a couple, but I couldn’t for the life of me think of what to do for my personal assignment. 

I can’t help but focus on this change and what I am to do with it. I’m already doing so much different than I was 6 months before this… I’m blogging, running, taking time for myself, taking a pottery class (yeah with a wheel), letting go of people I am not enough for anymore, talking to new doctors and dealing with new things… so what can I do to switch it up more? In this upheaval of change I have already created, it is hard to say what will need to happen and for me that is what makes it hard. I have already signed myself up to do so many things for me. 

So I’ve decided I’m going to blog one topic a week with a topic provided by my regular readers.  I have some readers about 30 that are reading every single blog post… this is mostly for them. The I wish she would write one about…. You can pick from the following topics~ marriage~ faith ~ motherhood/parenting ~ running ~ owning your own business~ finances ~ health ~ gumption ~ teaching. So if you’ve had something you wish someone was a little more honest about, advice or just wanted to pick my brain but didn’t have time to bring it. For example one that I hear often is- John is hilarious. I mean how do you live with him at home… you must laugh all the time? (many are serious they want an honest answer- awkward)  Another I hear often is- How did you potty train 3 girls at once? Another~ Give me a day in the life of while you are working… what do you really do? How do you get it all done? 

Image

If you cant think of one now that’s fine I’ve got 6 months to do this.

They can be personal but be careful what you post in public…. I screen all my comments on here so you can comment and say you don’t want it posted to everyone or otherwise it will be posted as a comment anyone can read. If you are a FB follower you can comment to the link on my page to this or you can message me in private. Nothing uncouth please since my former students, family, church family, and colleagues read these and are on FB. 

I’m looking forward to it. Make it fun and informative.

~ April~

 

I am enough. You are Enough. We are Enough.

The sermon this week was from Matthew 6:25-34. I love the Sermon on the Mount. Just love it, but this part talks about Jesus urging us to not fret about having enough in life- enough clothes, food, shelter etc.

Mark Loring, a writer full of soul, came to speak at church on Sunday. He was sharing his poems and reflections and providing the stories that brought some of them about in his book The Soul’s Collection: An Intimate Awakening. My favorite piece out of the entire book was part of the sermon on Sunday.

“It is with grace that I arrived

The universe knew of my coming

I shall rest in the belief that I am enough”

To feel as though you are not enough is a hard thing to cope with and we have stressed and fretted about being enough or having enough in some way or another. I assure you that I will not feel, as a Christian, as though I am ever DONE or enough. There isn’t a time where a Christian should kick off their shoes and prop up their feet in assurance that they are done… you are never done and with God it is never enough. I’m okay with that because we continue to sin… whether it be lying or coveting. Maybe you never committed adultery, murdered someone or denied God, but regardless you are a sinner. The cloth of sin covers all of us and none are free of it.

I have been a victim of being judged in the last few weeks so the writing from Mark Loring struck me and has stuck with me this week. It has been hard because when someone speaks poorly of you it is your knee jerk reaction to respond negatively of them in return. I lost self control and it is best for me to walk away from these situations and cool my jets. I wasn’t the first to throw hateful words, but the sermon on the mount has something for these folks too. Matthew 7:1-5 “

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

It was said behind my back and to my face that I am not enough. I am not enough of a friend or enough of a Christian. Your knee jerk reaction is to exclaim that the person judging you is not enough as a friend or not enough Christian coming from the Christian. One Christian to another we must stop telling each other that we are not enough to God as of yet. This behavior pushes so many away from being a Christian and really we have no good place to say it. I am enough of a Christian to call myself a Christian…. I promise you without persecuting others to earn that. We already know that we are to continue to strive towards being enough in God’s eyes. More importantly, it is important to tell each other that we are enough as a person for each other. We are all under the cloth of sin, none are free from this.

If you have been treating others an not enough, be prepared for being told the same and treated the same and judged as you have judged. Pull the plank out of your eye and view ever more clearly the imperfections of yourself before you treat others as less. Could they not say the same of you as you have of them?

~If I haven’t said it or said it enough~

For my family- You are enough.

For my children- You are enough.

For my husband- You are enough. 

For my friends- You are enough. 

My husband and I are being blessed with a gift this week from generous persons who saw a need of ours. We don’t ask for much you see. We may ask for a ride. We may ask for someone to watch the kids for a bit. We may ask for a loan if we’re buying something like a house, but really we don’t ask for much more than a listening ear or a prayer. We’re more likely to be the person to pay your way, lend out the money or share our belongings to help you. I was telling my friend that we feel so blessed by this generous gift and words don’t really fall into place on it yet. She said, “Take the gift… good things come to good people”. I said, “I wish that were always true.” She said, “Well in this case it is.” She was telling me that I am enough…. not in such poetic words as Mark Loring, but that is what she was saying.

We don’t say it enough …to each other ….that we are enough.

Give it a try.

Say it to someone who needs to hear it.

And mean it.

Moments of Discernment: It’s time I should Testify Part II.

When I talk of discernment with my friends I speak from the heart. Most of the time when I hear someone say, “I felt led by God to do —–” I don’t buy it. They are typically noisy faithfuls- the ones that talk so much about their faith I’m certain the holy spirit never got a word in, but I bite my lip and pray that God is moving something through them. To me I don’t hear God… it’s a feeling sometimes like in my last blog post where you just know you are doing the right thing. Sometimes the choices you make fall apart and you aren’t sure why and maybe it’s because you weren’t listening closely to God’s call. God has the reasoning for you to listen ever more closely. It’s a lesson and a message in the mix up. When you get it right that is when God winks.

Image

On August 10, 2009, my precious daughter Maggie was born a beautiful healthy ginger baby. She was perfect and everything went perfectly during the delivery and hospital stay. At home everything was just smooth… other than projectile vomit. I had eight weeks off to regain my strength and ability to walk before I returned to the classroom. I knew it was going to be a hard year, because having someone else start my classroom off for the year was going to make it challenging. We had signed my kids up for a brand new daycare, but it suddenly closed right before I was to go back to work. Finding good daycare is extremely important and I was panicked. I called or e-mailed local friends for their sitter recommendations- everyone was full. Finally, I started responding to sitter adds. Image

Well we eventually found one that we liked at the right price. It was a weird set up where full time lady didn’t live there but part time lady did. They seemed reliable. The house was set up nice, the daycare area looked safe. While on our interview Maggie needed to nurse and the home owner was incredibly offended even though I was draped. I should have known right then… but I didn’t. My husband and I called ALL of the references and we talked about it and eventually went with this duo pair. We were cautiously confident about it and just rolled with it.

Image

Things started off great. The kids were well fed, the house clean and full of activities. It seemed fun and the kids were all happy there. Then things started getting weird. The first thing was when she dropped an entire bottle of breast milk- all the mothers who ever nursed just gasped.. we all heard you. Honestly, for me it wasn’t that she spilt it, but how she acted about it. It was weird, her reaction, and there was more to that story I will never know. Then John forgot to tell the sitter he would be returning mid day once to pick up Maggie to take her to the doctor. When he arrived someone else we had never met was there taking care of Maggie. This breaks so many protocols I can’t even begin to tell you… I mean John could have been a stranger taking my child. Who knows who this person was doing this unbeknownst to us and how many times had this occurred since she didn’t let us know. So we talked to the sitter, she apologized and we moved on. Part time lady at this point just lives in the house… we never see her. Then the sitter takes them to parks and such not a problem. We leave the car seats and everything is fine. She’s now calling daily to take them somewhere to do something. Then it hits the fan. My mom runs into her at a local mall. My son- not properly restrained in the car. My daughter- where is my daughter? Again with a friend back at the house. I’M DONE!!!!!

Image

She pleads with me over the phone and apologizes repeatedly to say she was sorry and proceeds to tell me all the other things she did while they were in her care. Apparently, it was ‘what you see isn’t nearly the half of it’. She took Maggie out to urgent care with her daughter… a tiny baby to urgent care with her sickly daughter instead of closing and left our son with??? See a lot of parents do this they walk in with the baby in the carseat carrier… I never once thought you just left them with the freedom to drive your baby legally. She says part-time lady is an alcoholic and she didn’t want them around the children. She confesses that she left my son in part-time ladies care and took my daughter, my little baby girl, into a local housing project to “visit a friend”. This was around the same time that a 2 year old had gone missing and was later found murdered from this same housing project. The list went on and on and on… and I lost my nerve… my stomach… my mind.

In my panic I called Bridget. I figured out a way to get both kids there with her sitter for at least a temporary fix. Miss Julie the fabulous sitter saved the day and it was nothing but a blessing for us. Alden eventually had to go to daycare across town. Part time alcoholic lady lost her house to my knowledge and pretty much disappeared. Full time lady left the state and was eventually audited for her business. The door was closed and I moved on with it.

All the while my husband is working… I am teaching the kids I didn’t have at the beginning of the year. I still had trouble walking. I was exhausted… mentally, physically, and emotionally. When the news came about my sitter in December and January… I really had had enough. It’s hard enough being a mom and a teacher. It’s hard being a new mom. It was hard to walk. It was just hard and I needed to perform to a certain standard with my students and my own children. John has his emergency appendectomy in March following this. I was a ticking time bomb of distress… who in the world wouldn’t be? As you can see I wasn’t listening to God in the quiet still of my prayers. Life had gotten so loud that I couldn’t hear. I decided it was time to regroup and listen. I thought and I prayed, but there was too much of a mix up for me to be doing what I needed to be doing and be on my right path. It took a while for me to realize my motherly and professional obligations were going head to head and I wasn’t about to stop being a mother.

Around the same time, my friend Crystal found out she was pregnant. She had helped me so much during my pregnancies and recovery with walking. Learning about my babysitter problems was hard on her being pregnant. Hearing this and watching me go through this struggle was so hard for her to listen to, but it wasn’t something I could really avoid or protect her from. When she had her first ultrasound I was waiting anticipating her call. When it rang after school one day, I answered with a quick- “How did it go?” She responded with, “Well, we heard the heartbeat and it was amazing and then we heard the second heartbeat.” —– This is where I flipped out interrupted her and seriously ridiculously flipped out with excitement… nervousness… completely elated. We still chuckle wishing that we had it recorded. Too bad neither one of us have a good memory anymore or I might be able to give you more detail… but mostly I just said, “You’re kidding. No really. You have to be kidding!” She wasn’t.

The message in the mix up was that I needed to step down from the job I loved and stay home with my children and Crystals. So I started my own business watching both of our kids with others to make ends meet. I promised to keep her girls until they were in preschool. When you get the message things begin to run smoothly, calmly and with ease. I addressed my emotions and wrote my resignation letter and began to move on. The twins were due in a few weeks and I was closing out the school year. You know when God closes a door he surely opens a window… well I like to tell people in this moment of discernment God closed the front door and opened the side door because in this case there was no window.

June 11, 2010 was the last day in the classroom and John had taken the day off to help me clean out my classroom. He knew this would be hard for me to leave, because I love being an educator. I was saying my emotional goodbyes and loading everything into the car from my years of professionalism. I went into my classroom one last time and finished out my time on the clock when my phone rang. I was being invited to the hospital to visit two precious little girls that were born that same morning. We turned off the lights and closed the door on my classroom and rode the short distance to the hospital. Literally closing one chapter of my life and opening the next. This is when you know you have it all right and you get to see God wink.Image