Monday, October 24, 2011

The Irony of a Sunny Day!

Every morning my 3 year old daughter wakes me up by coming into my room and exclaiming "It's a sunny day!" That's her way of telling me it's light out and it's time to wake up. I usually look outside to confirm or deny her statement, then reluctantly roll out of bed.

Living in Minnesota, the sun may not shine everyday but we tend to be thankful when it does. I love my daughter's enthusiasm at the start of each new day, even though I wish she's sleep in like her twin brother does!

Truthfully, I wish I had her sunny outlook. I wish I didn't struggle with depression. When I am depressed, I can look at something as beautiful as a bright sunny day with not a cloud in the sky and hear everyone around me in awe of the beauty and know I should feel it too, but I don't. It's the same way with anything beautiful or awe inspiring. I know in my hear it must be something great but cannot bring myself to understand. It is as if there is a disconnect somewhere.

October is Depression awareness month and I wanted to write a post to help bring more awareness to the illness of depression. It is suggested that 1 in 20 people are suffering from depression. As a Christian, I often feel guilty for being depressed. I have a father who loves me and the promise of eternal life. I have 6 beautiful children and a wonderful husband. I have more than I need. I have, I have, I have.....depression.

It's now been a 1 1/2 year battle I've had with major depression , though I have had some level of depression since I was in college. I work hard to be healthy most of the time, except when I am the most depressed, then I don't have the energy to do much for myself or anyone else.

Depression is the dark shadow that follows me wherever I go. It's also a cimmerian cloud that looms ever near to me. Try though I might, I cannot escape it. It's like I took a wrong turn somewhere and now I can't find my way back.

For now, I try to live vicariously through other people like my daughter who sees and can appreciate the beauty of a sunny day. I just love her!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mean People



My son Sterling is currently performing in a production called MEAN, which "serves as a powerful tool to raise awareness on the issue of bullying and highlight the harm that it can cause."

Sterling plays a bully, which is ironic because for many years he has been the one being bullied. He changed schools as a result of the constant harassment he endured. His self esteem was greatly diminished from years of being told he was bad, unlovable, not accepted, fat, different and not an athlete. In our local school district in one school year there were 8 suicides linked to having been bullied. This is a serious problem!

October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Through my son, I have gotten to know several of the actors in the play. For some of them their actual experience of being bullied is being told in the play. The stories are heartbreaking. In each performance the actors must relive painful moments in their lives. They are doing this to make an impact on others about the severe ramifications bullying can have on a person's self esteem and life(or death).

Sterling finds it hard to be playing a bully, especially when he can see the type of individual he is bullying sitting in the audience and reacting tearfully to what I think is a shocking portrayal of a bully(in one scene he bullies a Muslim girl by taking off her hijab, which is the head covering worn by Muslim women).

As a parent, when my children are being hurt by others, the mama bear in me wants to come out and protect my cubs. Sadly, we cannot always protect them. As a Christian, I want to figure out why people feel the need to hurt others by their words or deeds. I want to know how to respond appropriately.

Matthew 5:44 says:
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
I read this verse over and over again. It is what is asked of us but that certainly doesn't make it easy. I am feeling committed to pray for those who persecute my children and the children in my community, it may not feel like much but I believe prayer is our best weapon against evil.

I'm proud of my son for using his past hurtful experiences to help make a difference in the lives of other students, teachers and adults. God has given Sterling some really neat friendships with other actors from the play. I try to teach my kids what it says in 2 Corinthians 12:10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Oh What A Beautiful Morning!

The wind is blowing and the leaves are falling. The air is crisp and it feels like a true Autumn day. It's beautiful and comforting. The whirring of the wind coming in through my windows makes me feel as if the earth is singing.

I am reminded of a verse in Isaiah 55:12 "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."

I feel like praising God today for all the little things in my life. I am keenly aware that I am here because he allowed me to live another day, he gave me the very breath that I breathe.

I love the changing of each new season but fall is my favorite. Thank you Lord for this glorious day! I will bask in the beauty that you bestow upon us.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mexican food, Chicken Nuggets and Jail Talk

When I worked as an adoption social worker I was responsible for answering the phone 24 hours a day. My children learned that when my work phone rang in the car or at home, they were to be quiet. The whole family became a part of this ministry in many ways.

I missed my son's 8th birthday because I was at the hospital supporting a mom as she was delivering a baby. I also missed Easter Sunday and voice recitals with my family due to the birth of a baby. You see, I was often the labor coach for the women that I worked with. It was sad that they had little or no support system that I would end up being their support. For me, it was truly an honor to be a part of the birth experience. My very favorite part of that job was working with expectant moms and birthmoms and the long term mentoring of young women who were in difficult situations.

Often times the women I worked with would end up in our home for a Bible study, a place to sleep when they needed to be safe, or just to talk. I liked being able to witness to them through the example of my marriage as well as how we parented our children and how we honored each woman as a daughter of the King. I also wanted our children to be comfortable with people who were different from us. Our children became very comfortable with these young women.

John 13:34-35
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

One evening the agency had been filming a video for our website. I had one young woman with me who lived about 45 minutes away. I needed to drive her home but first I decided we'd meet my family for dinner since I hadn't seen them all day. We ate at a Mexican restaurant in our small town.

Each woman I worked with had a story as to how they came to choose adoption for their child. This particular young woman had spent time in jail. Leave it to my kids ask the good questions! The topic of jail came up, and because she liked to talk about it there were several stories she told. It was her reality. I watched my kids as she told a few stories from jail. They didn't bat an eye. Instead, they asked her "So what was your favorite food while in jail?" She shared it was "clearly chicken nuggets". They were completely at ease with her and the dinner conversation flowed with good conversation and laughter. I think it was amazing to them to hear words like 'lock down" and "jailbird".

At about this time, I look around and notice that a few people had been listening to the conversation. My feeling was that of pride, knowing that my children looked for commonality with her and then built their conversation around that commonality.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 (NIV)
5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.


Following dinner, I drove her home. On the 45 minute drive she couldn't stop talking about how much fun she'd had, what nice kids we have and what she found in common with them. You see, she wanted to fit in while my kids wanted to learn about what it means to be in jail and how someone ends up there.

Isn't it true that we all want to feel connected and we all have fears that sometimes keep us from allowing ourselves to feel connected? On that particular evening, both sides learned something about each other making them feel less intimidating. Through good conversation where acceptance was shown, there was a feeling of connectedness.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cultivating Friendship

One of the things I value in my life are the friendships I have. I am blessed to have some wonderful women whom I can call my friends. Friendship is not only something I desire, but something I need.

I believe we were meant to live in community. Women need other women to laugh with, support, grow in faith together, pray for, encourage, share our needs and the desires of our hearts. My friends are the people I can truly be myself with.

In her book, In the Company of Women, Dr. Brenda Hunter writes: "We are relational beings....As a psychologist who works almost exclusively with women, I believe in the power of our female bonds to stave off lonliness, to help us flesh out an identity, and to encourage us in the time-honored task of nurturing the younger generation."

Friendship takes time. You have to cultivate a friendship like you would a garden. Webster defines cultivate as 'to promote or improve the growth of by labor and attention'. My friends are the people who improve me as a person through their love and encouragement and also by their example. Once you cultivate a friendship, it can last a lifetime.

I have to share a story about someone I have become friends with since our move to Minnesota. Her name is Gloria. She's a bit older than I am and I love that. Gloria found my blog when I first started writing it in the middle of my depression. She too had struggled with depression. She was also a patient of my husband. He mentioned something to her about my depression. She put two and two together and realized that the person who's blog she had been reading was me. How interesting is that?

Gloria began to message me words of encouragement and then we started e mailing back and forth. I was on the receiving end of this friendship, not having much to give at the time. It was she who was putting the labor and attention into cultivating our friendship. She would mail me funny cards that lifted my mood. I enjoyed her sense of humor! I knew she was praying for me and her spiritual encouragement was much appreciated. I was overwhelmed that a total stranger would reach out to me and care so much.

Several months into our friendship, I still hadn't met her in person. Then her son Jeff was tragically killed in an airplane crash just 6 days before his wedding. I met Gloria in person for the first time at her son's visitation. It was at that point that our friendship changed. It became a two-sided friendship. I needed to pray for and encourage her. We were both there for each other during very difficult times in our life.

Gloria and I meet at least once a month for supper and talk into the night. I love her compassion for others, passion for life and helping others and her sense of humor!

My son Spencer started helping her with projects around her home and she began to mentor him through her experience as a drug and alcohol counselor, during a time he really needed mentoring. She has become like a grandma to him.

I have been longing for new friends since our move to Minnesota 2 years ago. I found it in the most unexpected way. I marvel at how God knows what I need so much more than I know myself. I am thankful for friends old and new. God bless Gloria, Michelle, Brande, Teresa, Veronica, Heidi, Erica, Faith, Kim, Sarah, Rachel and all the women in my life. I am truly blessed!

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Me I See



Every once and a while I look at my life and think to myself that "this is not the life I had envisioned for myself". Sometimes it's the big things like moving 5 times to different states. Sometimes it's something small like having a child who needs very little sleep; even less than that of the parents.

Then I wonder about the unrealistic nature of my thoughts. What did I think life would be like? I guess I just thought life wouldn't be so tough. The Bible says; John 16:33 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

I remember that this world is not my home, I'm just passing through and I am not suppose to be too comfortable here. Philippians 3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ok so maybe things don't always go as this self proclaimed control freak would have them go. The question that I can't stop thinking about is this: Am I the person I envisioned myself to be? I'm talking in a spiritual sense. The honest answer is that I've got work to do.

Lately I've been feeling convicted to stop focusing on the things I can't change and start looking at changing what I can about myself.

I want to be stronger in my faith, more bold about what I believe, more Christ-like and involved with a community of christian women who challenge me to grow in my faith.

My son who's at Teen Challenge is required to do a certain amount of Bible reading and studying each day. At our last visit, I brought a Bible trivia game and he left us in the dust with all of his knowledge. I started to call him Cliff Claven(remember him from the tv show Cheers?) because of all the random Biblical history he was spouting. Secretly, I was wishing I could do that. I miss my days in Bible College where it wasn't uncommon to stay up late discussing a Biblical topic until late in the night.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to grow. Won't you join me?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Here's the Deal


It's been way too long. This depression thinks it's gotten the best of me and perhaps it was true at one time but I've had it! So much of my day is spent trying to be healthy and if I'm honest, I'm still somewhat depressed. My therapist says I'm functioning at 60%. On one hand, I feel validated that I'm still a long way from good health considering how I feel. On the other hand, I can't believe all the energy I've put into being healthy for just 60%!

I'm no longer willing to put my life on hold for this illness. I'm moving forward with my life. I will continue to eat right, exercise, take medication, go tanning, see my doctor and go to therapy. I just received word from my doctor that my Vitamin D level is abnormally low. This is good news because it can be a contributing factor to my depression! It can be managed with high doses of vitamin D. So I'm moving forward with hope.

In fact, I have decided that I want to continue doing what I am passionate about, and that is working in the field of adoption. I was the director of an adoption agency in Indiana. I want to start my own agency in Minnesota. That's quite an undertaking, I know. I'm going to have a 2 year timeline to start my business, which will be a not for profit. I've secured childcare for 2 half days a week which will allow me to research and begin planning.

I feel so optimistic! School has started for my children and I have high hopes for the year ahead. I'm working on being a better mom, wife and just a better person.

Jesus, help me to be your servant in all I do. Direct the path for my future. Heal me completely. Amen

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Linnea

Zephaniah 3:17
New International Version (NIV)

17 The LORD your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.” This is the verse my husband and I chose several years ago as Linnea's life verse. We feel this verse is such a blessing full of beautiful truth about how God feels about us.
Linnea and her cousin Emma


My sweet Linnea just turned 13. What happened to the sweet 2 year old who called herself "Yinnea Yind" and wore a swimsuit everyday under her clothes in case an opportunity to swim should arise. Where's the girl who talked incessantly about her Barbie bike? She's growing up! She's an avid soccer player. She's one of my biggest helpers with the younger children. She has a sweet personality. Many of her friends consider her to be their 'best' friend because she is just delightful and extremely loyal. She is very literal, which makes it easy for us to lovingly tease her. She's smart, kind, sensitive, funny and dedicated. She loves Jesus and wants to make good choices.

With Linnea turning 13, I am now the proud mom to 4 teenagers! Pray for me. No really, I love my teenagers. There's never a dull moment, and usually a lot of shocking conversations. I am proud to be Linnea's mom. She is so very special! HAPPY BIRTHDAY LINNEA

A Dream Realized

When I was in Junior high my best friend and I enjoyed singing and performing our own made up shows. We spent hours and hours creating and performing plays. We loved the television show 'Fame', which was a series in the mid 80's. It included a mixture of drama and music. It followed the lives of the students at the fictional New York City High School for the Performing Arts. We watched every episode and we dreamed of the opportunity to attend a school like that. When I entered high school I chose to focus on gymnastics and cheerleading and never did pursue acting. End of story, or so I thought.



Enter my son Sterling, who has had a love of the theatre since he was 3 years old. His first theatrical love was 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat'. We owned the studio produced version with Donny Osmond as Joseph and it was an ever present video for a good year in our home. He would sing the songs and act out the play. He was Pharoah when he wore underwear on his head and there were boxer briefs he wore sideways to look like a loincloth when he was Joseph. We were expected to know the difference. Then, when he was 5 he was cast as a sheep in Joseph put on by our local community theatre. I remember when he was in first grade we took him to see Joseph live. We had front row seats. I sat next to him and he sang every word to every song through the whole show. Watching him enjoy himself was a memory I'll cherish forever! He has been in many different plays since the age of 5.

Sterling is entering high school and will be attending St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. Their mission is to 'provide a world-class professionally guided academic and artistic environment to train aspiring pre-professional performing artists in the areas of instrumental and vocal music, theatre and musical theatre'. It is a wonderful charter school located in the Rice Park area of St. Paul MN and partly sponsored by The Ordway.

Sterling chose to attend this school because of his love for musical theatre. I am amazed at the broad range of opportunities to choose from in the arts at this school. I'm so proud of him for pursuing his passion!

He will also be performing this fall in the production of 'Mean' which is a show about bullying and produced by the Youth Performance Center

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Monkeys in a Gymnasium With Fireworks



My husband and I willingly chose to extend our years of parenting by adopting twins when the youngest of our four children was 9 years old. We have realized that we are now part of secret select group of very tired and emotionally drained parents by getting to manage the enormity of responsibility it takes to be parents to teenagers AND toddlers. Each one with its own benefits and challenges (in the past we also spent time in another secret society known as "we have two minivans and are so far from cool we will never recover").

I remember being a teenager like it was yesterday, and my husband still claims to be 15 (in his head). I can name each and every poor choice I made and I regret them. My children, however, have so many more temptations. Life with teenagers and today's ever emerging and invasive technology is like leaving monkeys in a gymnasium with fireworks. It's scary, out of control, it's dangerous and there is no manual with step by step instructions (which is OK because we would never have time to read it anyway).

I often feel like I'm a watchman on guard in my tower. My eyes dart constantly from toddler to teen and back again. At times I can become weary from being ever vigilant.

God whispers things to me in these moments, 'Be still and know that I am God' Psalm 46:10. It is so good to be reminded of this truth over and over again. I can only do my best and leave the rest to the Lord.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post I remember my teenage years. It was hard enough going through those years myself, but now as a mother it's like reliving some things all over again that I didn't like the first time! The added pain that we feel as parents in these situations is the result of the wisdom we have gained over the years in learning from the misgivings of our youth. If only our children could see some of the life long consequences that can be the result of seemingly small variances in what God wants from us. Comfort comes from the knowledge that we are saved by faith through grace, and that He has a "Ruthless Love" for his children.

The job of watching the 'monkeys in a gymnasium with fireworks' was given to me by God and I have to seek God through prayer to get the strength I need to fulfill His purpose for me in this role of MOM.

Philippians 3:14 'I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus'.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Happy Thursday!


I love this photo because I obviously looked like a young girl in love. While this picture is not an accurate physical representation of either of us today, the love part still rings true!

The love that I felt in this photo is very different from the love that I feel today. Once our love was new, exciting, and full of getting to know each other. Today we are deeply committed, deeply loved and have shared 20+ years of life together.

I'm thankful for the gift of laughter my husband has. He has an uncanny ability to bring humor when it is needed most. It has served us well as a couple to be able to laugh together.

Every once in a while he still surprises me with a 'Happy Thursday' gift, which is a small gift given in honor of whatever day of the week it is, rather than a special occasion. Most recently it was a bouquet of flowers.

I acknowledge that he has a huge responsibility both at work and at home. I appreciate all he does and I probably don't tell him nearly as often as I should.

If there were to be a photo of us today I would hope my eyes would show the love and respect I have for this wonderful man.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mid-Afternoon Uplift


It's mid-afternoon and I've instituted a mandatory rest time for my toddlers today. I can hear the intermittent fussing of children, the clanging of dishes from the teenagers and the whirring of cars as they pass along the highway outside. Each of these things adds to the lack of peace that I feel.

Somebody always needs something. Some days I have so much more to give than others. I worry that I am not good enough.

I sit in my room, the only place that is mine. There is a glass of iced tea beside me as I whisper desperate prayers to God. I hear him whisper in that still small voice that somehow surpasses the volume of all else. I drink in the liquid and bask in the glory of the Lord.

Once again, I am renewed, refreshed.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Holding onto the Buoy


Life is hard and I'm not going to lie, mine is especially difficult at the moment. I feel like problems in life keep hitting me in waves that come crashing with great intensity and frequency. I envision myself holding onto the buoy, wishing I could catch my breath before the next wave hits.

The good news is that I'm not drowning! I have something to hold onto; my faith and my heavenly Father and the promise he made to never leave or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

I feel the need to take stock of all that is good in my life rather than to dwell on what is bad.


**I have six beautiful, incredible children. Each one of them is a precious gift. They make me smile and even laugh out loud. I am truly blessed as a mother!

**I am able to be a stay at home mom in this season of my life. I get to enjoy playing with my children and enjoying all things summer.

**Teenagers and toddlers, what a joy! I'm serious when I say I love both stages of life!

**I have a yard full of beautiful flowers. One of life's simple pleasures!

**I have a wonderful husband who loves me.

**I'm blessed with some beautiful friendships, old and new.

**I am physically healthy.

**I live near almost all of my extended family.

**I am not depressed, I'm not the old me but I'm the best I've been in a few years.

**It may sound strange to say but I love my house. It is homey and I love to decorate and have doing so in the 2 years we have lived here.

Thank you Jesus for the many blessings in my life. Thank you for the opportunity to grow through the trials in life. Thank you that no matter what, you are always here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Toughest Love

It has been an emotional four months for our family as we have learned to adjust to life without Spencer in our home. There is a glaring emptiness that is present at all times reminding us that we are not complete. As a mom, I am happiest when all my kids are safely at home. This is not possible right now.

The toughest thing we have ever done as parents is follow through and send our child to a military style Teen Challenge. We made the choice out of love but it has broken my heart as a mom and forever changed me.

We are working very hard to strengthen our family relationships and not let the sadness outweigh the joy.

This past weekend my husband and I traveled to Florida and took 2 days to ourselves to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. The main purpose of our trip though was to attend parent Visit Weekend at Teen Challenge.

The first time I laid eyes on my son, he was marching onto the football field in his military uniform. It was obvious to me that he was had lost weight. He looked regal in his uniform. The boys marched in impressive formations, looking both well disciplined and hot in the Florida sun.

After what seemed like an eternity, they called the four boys for whom this was their first parent visit to come forward. We were instructed that if this was our child to go ahead and greet him. I couldn't get to him fast enough. My husband had told me he would let me hug him first. That was much appreciated! We all embraced and cried and embraced some more. It was the moment I had been waiting for for many months.

What I noticed about him first was the 40 pound weight loss, the smile on his face and the peace in his countenance. We had the better part of 3 days with him. Right away he brought out his Bible and began turning to scripture, saying "This is my favorite verse and I love what it says right here" as he moved through his Bible with the ease of someone well acquainted with it. I can only say that I was so proud!
Spencer and Kevin

One of my favorite moments from the weekend were watching my husband and son lifting weights, playing basketball and generally goofing around! They played around like a I remember from when Spencer was a little boy!

There were honest and painful moments as well. The kind that hurt at the moment but are healing in the long-run. We were emotionally exhausted when the weekend was over.

The atmosphere at West Florida Teen Challenge was that of discipline and structure. The students know exactly what is expected of them and what the consequences are if they don't follow the rules. It made me yearn for more of that discipline in my own life.

He is 4 months into a 15 month stay and I have to say I was tempted to bring him home because of the huge change in him already. I know God is still working in him and through him. Our whole family is being changed as a result of this decision. I will trade 15 months without my child for a lifetime of freedom for my child!

I have so much hope for his future! I am bursting with pride at how hard I can see Spencer working. One comment he made was about how nice it is for him to be able to laugh out of pure joy and not as a result of a substance.

His story is far from over. Please pray for Spencer that he would continue to grow in his relationship with God and for his overall recovery.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

20 Years

Today my husband and I celebrate 20 years of marriage. I want to publicly state that I am beyond blessed with a wonderful, Godly man who has proven his love through 20 plus years of life with me.

I'm glad he's here by my side. He makes everything good better and everything bad a little easier because he is there.

He teaches me patience, grace and putting others first through his daily example.

I love you Kevin Lind!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dear Depression

Dear Depression,

You are the road I never chose to travel. A choice I did not make. An illness deep and dark like the ocean and I am so very lost in it.

You have stolen from me my time, happiness, clarity, emotions, zest for life, love of other people, desire, and so much more.

I never thought it would come to this but I recently spent time in the hospital fighting you and your terrible disease. This was a first for me to be hospitalized because of you. I have now been privy to the damage you can to do my peers and their lives. I met a lot of very interesting, intelligent people. People who did not meet the stereotype of what I guess I saw as someone with a mental illness. They were people like me who were living life until depression dragged them down and also stole everything from them. I met financial planners, managers, construction workers, music therapists, teachers and more. People who are in no way weak, or without resources.

I was a lifeguard in high school. When I took the training course to be certified, one of the things we practiced doing was jumping off the high dive fully clothed and then attempting to save a drowning person. We were instructed to first take off our shoes and then as much clothing as possible so as to not be weighed down by them. We then met up with a very scared, combative swimmer who was simulating a drowning person. They scratched at us, they pulled us under and they flailed their arms all around. It was my job to ensure that the person made it to safety.

Depression, you are the person in that story who was failing and kicking and biting doing everything in your power to bring me down in an effort to make it to the top yourself. I'm the exhausted rescuer. Statistics show that sometimes the rescuer can become the victim.

I refuse to let you win, exhausted as I am.


I have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, recurrent and severe. When I saw that my doctor had written those words on my chart, I realized just how serious my illness is.

Depression, you are scary and unfair and relentless. But you do not define who I am! This is what defines me:

I love to laugh, love to act a little silly now and then. I love dancing and hope to take ance lessons with Kevin one day so I can dance beautifully when we go to Italy! I believe God has given me the gift of compassion. I enjoy traveling, especially to the beach. I love to be carried away into another time and place through a good book. I love people, they are an essential part of my life. I love to express myself through writing. I love decorating, iced tea, good food, jewelry, shoes, chocolate and parties. I love to help other people. I love Music. My friends and my family make me happy, although thanks to you depression, I am learning that perhaps I don't truly understand what it really feels like to be happy.

That's strange isn't it? Here I am a woman who has known the love of Jesus my entire life and yet I have major depression. Many Christians would say that if I were stronger in my faith, or if I prayed more or read my Bible more I wouldn't be depressed. That is the saddest thing you can tell me. Just like Cancer is not caused by God, neither is depression. It's a medical condition. You are not welcome in my life and my body. GINA


What is Depression?

"Depression is a "whole-body" illness, involving your body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way you eat and sleep, the way you feel about yourself, and the way you think about things. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.

The symptoms of depression may vary from person to person, and also depend on the severity of the depression. Depression causes changes in thinking, feeling, behavior, and physical well-being.

Changes in Thinking - You may experience problems with concentration and decision making. Some people report difficulty with short term memory, forgetting things all the time. Negative thoughts and thinking are characteristic of depression. Pessimism, poor self-esteem, excessive guilt, and self-criticism are all common. Some people have self-destructive thoughts during a more serious depression.
Changes in Feelings - You may feel sad for no reason at all. Some people report that they no longer enjoy activities that they once found pleasurable. You might lack motivation, and become more apathetic. You might feel "slowed down" and tired all the time. Sometimes irritability is a problem, and you may have more difficulty controlling your temper. In the extreme, depression is characterized by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
Changes in Behavior - Changes in behavior during depression are reflective of the negative emotions being experienced. You might act more apathetic, because that's how you feel. Some people do not feel comfortable with other people, so social withdrawal is common. You may experience a dramatic change in appetite, either eating more or less. Because of the chronic sadness, excessive crying is common. Some people complain about everything, and act out their anger with temper outbursts. Sexual desire may disappear, resulting in lack of sexual activity. In the extreme, people may neglect their personal appearance, even neglecting basic hygiene. Needless to say, someone who is this depressed does not do very much, so work productivity and household responsibilities suffer. Some people even have trouble getting out of bed.
Changes in Physical Well-being - We already talked about the negative emotional feelings experienced during depression, but these are coupled with negative physical emotions as well. Chronic fatigue, despite spending more time sleeping, is common. Some people can't sleep, or don't sleep soundly. These individuals lay awake for hours, or awaken many times during the night, and stare at the ceiling. Others sleep many hours, even most of the day, although they still feel tired. Many people lose their appetite, feel slowed down by depression, and complain of many aches and pains. Others are restless, and can't sit still.
Now imagine these symptoms lasting for weeks or even months. Imagine feeling this way almost all of the time. Depression is present if you experience many of these symptoms for at least several weeks. Of course, it's not a good idea to diagnose yourself. If you think that you might be depressed, see a psychologist as soon as possible. A psychologist can assess whether you are depressed, or just under a lot of stress and feeling sad. Remember, depression is treatable. Instead of worrying about whether you are depressed, do something about it. Even if you don't feel like it right now." Donald J. Franklin, PhD.
This information was obtained from http://www.psychologyinfo.com/depression/description.html
draft

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I Crack Myself Up

It was a rare afternoon for me, I was without children. We were trying out a new babysitter with the hope of me being able to have a break here and there from the ever present parenting needs of my 3 year old twins. Most of the time I get through my days feeling a bit out of control and trying so hard to not let that show on the outside. I have visions of myself looking like this: there is toilet paper hanging out of the back of my pants, my hair looks cute in the front but I didn't realize that I didn't even touch a brush to the back and it's a virtual birds nest. I have dried snot on the front of my shirt, maybe a big white spot of Desitin on one pant leg. My make up is lacking mascara, which is my most important piece of cosmetics due to my very fair skin and long, but almost invisible eyelashes.

I got "cute" as my teenage daughter would say, having planned my entire spring outfit around a specific pair of sandals.

As I put them on I realized that the bottom of one shoe had separated from the rest of the shoe. No problem, that's what super glue is for! Unfortunately for me the super glue was nowhere to be found. There was NO way I was changing my outfit, so I did what any self respecting woman would do and found some clear packing tape and taped my shoe. In my defense, you couldn't tell, but I knew!

I drove rather aimlessly with no apparent agenda. I ended up shopping at one of my favorite stores but not the kind where I can bring the kids. As I left the store, I spotted a newly opened ice cream store and it was 70 in Minnesota, a perfect day for some ice cream! I walked in and ordered my favorite chocolate peanut butter ice cream on a sugar cone.

By now I am feeling pretty awesome! The sun was shining beautifully and my heart was happy. I opened my car door to get in and instead of switching my cone to my empty hand, I pulled my shoulder strap of my purse around my cone, not realizing I had essentially dragged it across my Coach purse. Still in a great mood, I enjoyed my cone in the car. When I was finished, I examined the damages. My purse, my pants AND my blouse. Nothing was going to ruin this afternoon for me so I headed to the Target bathroom and cleaned my purse and myself up. If you were in the restroom and you heard me giggling and thought I was weird, I apologize. It's just that I crack myself up! I try to be this classy lady who kind of knows what she's doing and sometimes it just doesn't happen!

I now head back out to my car because in my hurry to clean the mess I'd made, I had forgotten the real reason I was there which was to match some tops to go with some skirts for my daughter.
I pushed my cart out with me and parked it gently up against my car. The next thing I know my cart with my purse is gone. I notice it is racing down the middle of the parking lot and a car is chasing after it with someone trying to open her door to catch it. Her door wouldn't open because they were driving right next to the cart and from inside I heard someone exclaim "I can't open my door!" Now, I'm not making this stuff up. This really happened! I was laughing hysterically when they caught my cart and walked it over to me. I continued with my shopping still basking in the peace that comes with being alone and doing simple mundae tasks without the aide of children.

As I left Target once again to put away my groceries, I realized that I had left my cell phone inside. So once again I turned around and went in to search for it. Once I found it, I headed home. Keep in mind, that despite these circumstaces, I am having a fabulous day!

STOP: It hit me that this entire experience by myself would have driven my nerves to be totally on edge should I have had my 3 year old twins with me. I sat in my car and it hit me. WIth 2 toddlers, the exact same situation woud have been catastrophic and stessful.

My sister in law is reading a devotional on how to become more healthy in how you perceive things and how you let them get to you. There is an example of being a person who is constantly running from one thing to another to being someone who floats along the river in a relaxed setting allowing both mind and body to rejuvenate. One paragraph in Webster's Dictionary defines the world perspective as a view or prospector.

On this day I choose to be thankful for free time away from my children to allow me to float figuratively in a boat peace momentarily on the river relaxing. I'm thankful for the laughter of that day and for and for my ability to see it as such.

Lamentations 3:22-23 -
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

From the Heart

I'm usually pretty open with my feelings but feel like this particular subject has been especially hard to share. Please bear with me as I work through and share what it has been like so far having a child gone from home of our own choosing.

Our son is at Teen Challenge in Florida, which is a military-style, Christian based ranch for drug addicted teens.

I struggle with a mixture of relief, sorrow, anger and worry.

The relief I felt was short-lived. There is peace in our home that had previously been absent, but now there is a huge void. Someone very important and special in my life is missing. I can sometimes hear him laugh in my minds eye. My younger son can often, out of the corner of my eye look like Spencer and I get this flutter of excitement in my stomach for a brief moment until I am hit once again with reality.

There is a sorrow I feel that feels similar to a death. When we brought Spencer to Teen Challenge, he arrived with a suitcase full of only basic necessities; t shirts, underwear, socks, deodorant, soap, shampoo, toothpaste and shaving needs all to last for the next 15 months. No clothes, because he would be wearing a program issued uniform. As we drove onto the Ranch, a staff Sergeant approached our car and spoke to Spencer briefly saying where he was, why and for how long. Then they allowed him to say good-bye and then they took him away.

We stayed for a brief orientation of the program with student testimonies and what to expect. It is such a blur to me. Partly because I couldn't see through all the tears that were falling and partly because I was still in disbelief that this is what it had come to. As we were walking to our car to leave, someone brought us our son's suitcase containing only the clothes he had been wearing when we last saw him. It's interesting what that straw can be for each of us, the one that 'breaks the camels back'. For me that was it. In my bitterness, I wondered why they hadn't included all of his beautiful hair they had just shaved off as well.

I cried all day off and on. Sometimes it was the loud, ugly kind and other times the tears just fell continuously, without my being able to control them. We were traveling and I know looked like a mess. When we would stop to eat, people felt so bad for me, they kept giving me free food! I didn't even try to hide my sorrow, it was not possible.

It has now been six weeks that Spencer has been gone. The honest truth is that my sorrow continues. Some days I am ok but there are many days when something like looking at a family photo or hearing the twins talk about missing him will make me sad. I miss him everyday. This past Sunday my daughter and I returned from Spring Break. We went out from brunch after being picked up from the airport. I had been so excited to see my family but as we were sitting around the table the absence of Spencer's presence was too much for me. So there I sat at The Cheesecake Factory once again crying. This time I didn't get any free food.

Isn't is just like God to give us hope when we are hopeless? I opened my e mail upon returning home to find this photo and it did my heart good! It is the first picture I have seen of him since we were on the beach in Florida before he left.
A friend wrote this upon seeing his picture; "Interesting that he is wearing the BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) as he is going to battle against Satan. That is why I like the Book of Revelation... God wins!" So true and so encouraging!

In our home, there's a new normal. It's neither good or bad, it just is. We can't talk with Spencer until he's been there for 8 weeks, which is now only 2 weeks away! We do get a weekly phone call from his counselor with an update as to how he's doing. They live stream their Wednesday night Chapel and Sunday morning church service and we can see Spencer as he worships and hear the same sermons he's hearing. He laughs and I can hear him and it does my heart good! I can tell by his body language what he's feeling. He seems to be doing well.

I'm angry that he chose to use drugs. I'm angry that we couldn't "fix" him. The anger is nothing compared to the sorrow though.

I also worry about him. I worry about whether we made the right decision. I worry about what the future holds. Spencer's favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 29:11 - 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, ' plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' I am hopeful for the future and know that God has entrusted Spencer to us but that ultimately he belongs to Him.

I have to give all my fears to God and trust that 'being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus'. Philippians 1:6

Thursday, February 17, 2011

There is a Time



Ecclesiastes 3

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.


What season are you in? In our family, we are mourning, healing, planting, mending, embracing and weeping.

I love this verse because it's comforting to hear that we're normal and that what we're going through has a beginning and an end. It's a part of the circle of life.

As a family we are mourning that one of us is gone from home. We can't speak to him for 2 more weeks and we're missing him terribly. I guess we're also mourning the fact that it even came to this. It's not exactly on the list of things we dream about for our children but healing is! The good news is that following mourning is dancing! I'm looking forward to that!

Our entire family is healing, which is a process. In the long run, we will be much stronger for it.

We up rooted our lives 18 months ago when we moved to MN from IN. Now we are planting new seeds of friendship, church membership, and traditions. We are also planting seeds of forgiveness, trust, hope and love.

Our hearts are mending from the pain brought about by living in constant chaos and fear of what could happen next. We are also mending relationships with each other.

We are learning to be more appreciative of one another. We are remembering to embrace more, to say I love you often. We're embracing the new "normal" and the ability for God to do a mighty work in all of us.

We've been doing a lot of weeping. In fact, this morning out of the blue, my youngest daughter who is almost 3, started to cry and said she "really loves her brother Spencer and really misses him". Ouch! It is strange the things that will bring us to tears right now, but soon, there will be a time for laughing!

It is in times of great suffering and pain that we ultimately know what dependency on God really looks like. No matter how much we don't like to be hurting, it is really that pain that can bring us to the feet of Jesus.

We can feel the arms of Jesus holding us.

Jesus, you are so awesome! Thank you for loving us, for carrying us, for teaching us, for guiding us and for giving the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Sign in the Yard


My sweet toe-headed baby boy was by far my easiest baby. As a mom with 3 boys and 3 girls I have found that I have a unique relationship with my sons, and that is especially true with my son Spencer. When he hit his toddler years, his strong will and determination began to reveal themselves. We looked at parenting him as a challenge we would gladly accept. Many times over the years I wondered why when God gives us a child, they don't come with a manuel specific to that particular child. It would be so much easier that way. Sometimes the Bible, prayer and patience aren't enough. That's a tough realization. That's because of our children's abiity to make their own choices and the world in which we currently live.

The years went by and he continued to try us at every turn. Our saying was that he's like a super hero who is just learning what his "powers" are and sometimes things get broken and damage occurs. He will learn to identify these skill sets and if he chooses, can do wonderous things with them both in his own life and for others through his faith.

By 7th grade he verbalized his desire to hurt himself. As a social worker, I had taught my children that if you say those words, we would immediately act on it. We took him to the hospital and he was admitted to a psychiatric unit. I remember doing the 'ugly cry' which felt as though it was coming from my toes.

About that same time there was a boy in our small town with the same name as my child, who was diagnosed with cancer. It was customary to place a sign in your yard in support of someone who was sick. There were signs everywhere that said 'Pray for Spencer'. They didn't mean my child. Depression and mental illness is a health issue that many families suffer with in silence. My heart hurt to know that we were fighting for the life of my child but very few people knew and most people just conisidered him a 'problem child.'

Fast forward to 2010. When we moved to Minnesota, Spencer got in with the wrong crowd but they were the ones who readily accepted him. He began using drugs at school during the school day. We noticed changes in his behavior. There was a lack of peace in our home.

Spencer went into a drug treatmemnt facility in June of 2010. He completed a 30 day program and when he returned home things were good....for a while.

Slowly he began reverting back to his old behaviors. It's hard to be uncomfortable in your own home. It has taken a toll on the whole family. The choas and discord in our home has become unbearable.

Our hearts are breaking. I love my son more that I can put into words. I love adjectives but there aren't any that can properly express the depth of my love for him. My husband and I have tried to teach him, lead by example and given him so many chances.

Kevin and I, in partnership with God are doing our best to provide for our children a foundation on which to build their faith. We acknowledge that we are not perfect and that being a teenager is just plain tough. There is so much temptaion around our kids each and every day.

We are now in a situation where we are truly fighting for the life of our child.

For this reason we have chosen to send Spencer to a Teen Challenge military-style boys ranch in another state. This is a 15 month program.

I am already missing Spencer, but in truth, I have been missing him for quite some time. The Spencer I know is fun, sensitive, talented, intelligent, and has a heart of gold.

I left my son in the care of many Godly people today and I trust God to protect him. I am hurting in a way I have never before experienced. I know it is the right decision for him in the long run. Right now it feels like I'm going to die, and that "ugly cry" has returned. It's a good thing I'm a long way from home and no one knows me!

Today, there's a virtual 'sign in my yard'. I'm asking you, my friends, to please 'Pray for Spencer'. I can't wait to see what God will do in his life in the next 15 months and beyond!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Mama Bear and Trust


I sat in a twin sized hospital bed next to my daughter who had RSV (Respiratory Sensitial Virus) and held her close to keep her warm as she was shivering from fever. I listened to her every sound and the whirring of machines as they aided my sick child in breathing, hydration and monitoring of all things medical. Whenever my kids are sick or hurting, my strong 'mama bear' instincts to protect come out. I will do whatever I need to do for them.

Later when she was feeling up to it, I sat in a chair in the corner of the room and watched her color. I literally let myself relax for a few minutes. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the bed shaking back and forth. I sat up and looked at Rya and saw that she had curled into a fetal position deep under the covers and was shivering! I said "What's the matter honey" and she said "I so very feezing!" That was the beginning of a scary couple of hours. 'Mama bear' went to work advocating for and protecting my sick babe.


Her fever was up and medication was administered. I crawled back into bed with her, using my body to keep her warm. 45 minutes later her temperature had risen higher despite the tylenol so the doctor was called and more medication was given. They needed to turn up her oxygen. I began to lose that comfort I had in knowing I was in the hospital. and not 30 more minutes went by and now she was like a rag doll moaning and breathing very fast. It took 14 minutes(yes, I counted) to get a nurse to heed my call for help. Wouldn't you know it was shift change! The mean mama bear in me wanted to come out but the Christ follower in me woudn't let it. This time her fever was at an all time high and she could conceivably have a seizure at any time.

Amidst my panic, I had this moment of clarity. I felt a peace because she really isn't mine, she's on loan to me from my heavenly father. He loves her infinately more than I could ever fathom. I felt like God was asking me if I trust Him.

It took some time but they were able to get things under control. I don't know about you, but I don't do very well when my kids are sick or hurting.

There's been a lot of that at our house lately and I feel like God's been asking me the question about trusting him a lot lately. I'll be sharing more in the days and weeks to come about that.

I'm a visual person and as I ponder this issue and all that I am struggling with related to my children, I can invision myself laying all of these things at the feet of Jesus, knowing he's more protective of His children than any mama bear could be. Now I just have to remember not to take them back!

Thank you Lord that you have blessed and entrusted me with 6 children. Help me each day to be more like you. Give me wisdom and patience when it comes to being a mom. Draw my family closer to you and to each other. Help me Lord to trust you more.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Celebrate!


Life is flying by in what seems like fast forward! My third born child, Sterling, is turning 14 years old today.

It truly feels like yesterday when he was in love with the musical 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat'. We owned a video of the play starring Donnie Osmond. Sterling was 3 and he knew every word to every song. He would act it out wearing a homemade loin cloth and his pajama pants on his head for an Egyptian head dress. At the age of 5 he had his first ever theater roll as a sheep in the play 'Joseph'. He has been regularly performing in theater since that time.

I am always a proud mom watching Sterling transform himself into the newest character for the next play. I love attending the performances and love hearing the stories of the fun he has back stage almost as much!

Ever since Sterling started school he has reminded me of Norm from the television show "Cheers". Whenever he walks into a room, without fail, multiple people yell "Sterling!". Unfortunately, he doesn''t know who Norm is. I recently was watching him in a choir performance involving many choirs. As Stering's group walked on stage, I told my husband "Wait for it..." and then the familiar "Sterling!" came from the crowd.


He's the class clown, big hearted, witty, hard working, and very capable with his younger siblings. There's never a dull moment with Sterling around!

He has always been very affectionate towards me. When he was little he would give me compliments like; "You are the most beautiful mommy in the world" or "That shirt is very pretty on you!". Today, I have to work a little harder to get a compliment out of him but it is very obvious that he loves me.

I had several very scary complications during my pregnancy and the birth of Sterling. I often look at him and am so thankful that I have him in my life. Phillipians 1:3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.

His effervescent and exuberant personality occasionally needs to be reined in, but you really can't help but catch his zest for life if you are around him.

Happy Birthday Sterling, you make me smile and I love you for everything you are. ~Mom
Luke 12:7 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Experience


I really try to be a good mom. Sometimes I am focused an all the things I "have to" do and forget to have fun. Every once and a while I'll let my kids help me cook. Today I let 2 almost 3 year olds help me make chocolate chip cookies. It was a bit crazy in my opinion, but certainly not in theirs! They cracked eggs on the counter, they started the mixer while I was on the phone, and they made a total MESS! They were having a ball.

Roman has this certain giggle he does when he's especially happy and I heard it several times today. I just melt when he does that! Rya was singing 'I am beautiful' by Christina Agulera. Hannah taught it to her and she sings those three words over and over. I love that she sings all the time and that she is confident in herself!

I actually let them put the ingredients in the bowl for me. I would normally get flustered by the chaos and the mess. Today I felt like I was gifting them with a great memory. I let them eat the cookies fresh out of the oven and they managed to get chocolate all over their face and clothes. They didn't have room for lunch because of all the cookies they'd eaten and I didn't feel one bit guilty, after all I was making memories!

They went off to play, dirty faces and all while I cleaned up the mess feeling happy and fulfilled as a mom.

I'm going to have to do that more often.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Time keeps On Slipping..

It's true what they say about how quickly time flies. 18 years ago I became a mom, and in what seems like the blink of an eye she is an adult!

I remember everything about my labor and delivery with all my children. I love how when women get together they like to share their stories in what sometimes can be a contest to out do each other. "Oh yeah, well I pushed for 2 1/2 hours and then I had a 3rd degree tear". True story and I apologize to any men who are reading this. It's like our badge of honor. We have to talk about it.

When she was born we thought every move she made and every breath she took was awesome! When she started talking, her high pitched voice was so sweet. She was so tiny and started talking early, people started calling her 'the baby that talks'.

From the time she was little she has been fun and full of drama. She is the person in our family who can make us laugh even in the worst of times. She knows how to laugh at herself, which is great. She is compassionate and wonderful with children. In many ways she reminds me of myself but then in other ways, she possesses qualities that I can only dream of having.

I wanted to write to Hannah from what I wish I knew when I was younger. Some things I've learned by my own mistakes and some I've learned through other people. She has given me permission to share it with you.


Dear Hannah,
I can remember being 18 like it was yesterday. It was fun being somehwat independent and scary trying to make choices for my future. It was also scary being on my own at school without my parents. My college years were some of the funnest times in my life!

I love that we can talk openly about things but I wanted to write and tell you a few things. Right now you have a million different options for your future. We want you to choose wisely. Do something that you love as far as a career. Do NOT chose based on what you think we may want you to do. Our only desire is that you find something that is fulfilling for you.

When you are looking for a potential life mate, there are a few very important things to remember. Look at his family because they will be your family too. Watch how he treats his parents, especially his mom as this is a good indicator of how he will treat you. Choose a Godly man and one who is spiritually as strong or stronger than you. It's good to have someone who makes you laugh. Life is hard and laughter is good medicine.

If he is mean to you now, it will only get worse in the future. Walk away. If he even dabbles in pornography, RUN fast!

Don't be in a hurry to have children. Make sure you and your husband have time together as a couple first. As you know, my parents taught me the value of having frequent "date nights". It has been such a good thing for us. I hope you can do that too.

Ask another couple who have been married longer to mentor you and your husband. Do not be afraid to seek wise counsel when needed.

Work hard, and play hard. Both are important. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Make Jesus your first priority always. Seek ways to learn and grow in your faith. Make good Christian friends who challenge you in your faith.

I'd like to say don't move far away for selfish reasons but honestly, it was the best thing for your dad and I as we didn't have anyone else to rely on but each other. It is one reason why I think we have a strong marriage.

I love you and look forward to watching you bloom as a young woman. I'm very proud to call you my daughter. Love and hugs, Mom

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Gift of Today

One of my fellow bloggers Joanne at The Simple Wife http://www.thesimplewife.typepad.com/ is fighting for her life as I write this. Her husband has taken over writing her blog(very beautiful and touching) so the rest of us can be kept informed of her condition. In her last post, she is laughing at herself for forgetting to open the flue on the fireplace and setting off the fire alarm. I can relate as it's something I would do! It was just a normal day and little did she know what tomorrow would hold.

None of us knows what tomorrow holds. I'm sitting here with my twin two year olds as they are playing. There are huge snowflakes falling from the sky and there is a fire in the fireplace. There are a dozen things I should be doing, yet I feel the need to bask in the beauty of the moment.

It makes me think about what my legacy would be if today were my last day here on earth. I'm not satisfied that I've loved enough, taken advantage of every growth opportunity or truly enjoyed every moment. I want to be more passionate and purposeful in living.

I can get caught up in the little stresses of daily life rather than the gifts of ech new day. It's all in how you look at it. My toddlers make me laugh hundreds of times each day. My husband still thinks I'm beautiful. My teenagers actually like me. Do you know what a gift that is?

I'm praying for my sister in Christ, Joanne and everyone who loves her. I'm thankful for the gift of her words and her example through her blog.

My teenage daughter came home and asked if I would drink diet Pepsi, eat soup and watch crime shows with her this afternoon. I think I'll add some peanut butter M and M's to the mix and call it a perfect afternoon!

Thanks Lord for the gift of today. Help me to embrace each day and to live my life fully for you.