Yesterday was Easter.. and we headed out into nature to recharge..
Our family parties were done … the Easter baskets opened.. and my daughter headed back to her campus.
And the sun was shining. We didn’t really need any OTHER invitation.
As we entered the woods, we were reminded that Spring really hasn’t arrived yet.
The landscape was beautiful. Rolling hills… sloping roads… lazy rivers…
But nature is still sleeping here. So everything is brown. So many different shades of brown… but still just brown.
And SO cold!
Then every once in a while, we would go over a hill.. or around a bend… and something would catch my eye.
There amongst the dead leaves and the cold wind? There would be the brightest green moss growing.
I know.. I know…
Moss isn’t really that pretty.. and it isn’t SUPPOSED to be growing on the sides of trees and rocks.
But the bright green of that moss against the shades of the sleeping nature around it? It was so startling. It caught my attention every time.
That moss reminds me of people who show happiness and positively impact the world around them .. every day.
Not just showing their green color when the sun is shining and the warmth is all around. But glowing a bright green when the winds are cold enough to make your nose hurt and cause your lungs to burn. Glowing green when nothing else is even growing.. when there feels like there is no hope of hope.
So today I wonder?
Am I showing a bright green color of hope and love against the dull colors of today?
There are always “dull” things going on around us..
..extra bills… health concerns… raising kids.. car issues… and messes to clean up..
..not to mention world troubles…
…but amongst those shades of “brown”…?
Among the lifeless colors… am I shining some green into the world? Am I handing out genuine smiles.. holding open doors… sharing my resources with the world around me… lending a hand where I can…? Am I looking for hope?
Am I offering to share the small amount of hope that I hold in my hands?
Because that is what I want.. I want my love and my hope to shine brightly against my surroundings.
We went to church yesterday for the first time in awhile. I love attending services.. but churches aren't always the safest places for kids with special needs.
I know.. I know.. I was surprised by this too..
You see? My son has Autism with a side order of Bipolar.. add in the fact that he is also still a kid? It can kind of be a mess at times …
When my son is distressed he quotes movies.. Blue's clues, Dora, Alone in the wilderness, Peter Pan.. you name it.. he quotes it..
…but talking in church is typically frowned on.. even if it's in the back corner of the back row by a cute boy with lots of freckles.
We have gotten a lot of dirty looks.. a lot of stares.. and shushed more than a few times… throughout the years…
The problem is?
The more shushes.. the more glares?? …the more anxious he would get… the more he would quote.. AND the more often we would end up in the lobby listening over the speakers.
So we stopped going to church for a while… choosing to worship at home.. where he was safe..
When we lived in Missouri we found a church that smiled at my son when he quotes randomly in the middle of service. They high fived him in the lobby.. and we went to church regularly…
It was amazing..
But when we moved back to Michigan .. finding a new church was a little daunting and my son was very unstable.. so we kept our services at home again.
Yesterday we attended church with some friends at their invitation. We have attended this church a couple times with these family friends and another family as well. But my son was unstable and it was still uncomfortable for us.
But this year has been a good year for us, and my son is making great strides. So? So we made plans.. marked it on the calendar like it was an appointment.. and we went to church.
We arrived at church .. my daughter in jeans.. my son in his favorite 3 piece suit.. and we were greeted by a handful of people.
ALL of us were greeted.. especially my son.. who was obviously overdressed.
The extra effort that the congregation put into making him feel welcome.. and the extra effort our friends went through ??
It meant that my son sat through the 2 hour service holding my hand … mostly quietly.
To someone who goes to church every week it might not seem like much..
But to a mom who thought church was an impossible task?
A million years ago.. ok.. it was more like 7 years ago.. I stood on my own doorstep letting the tears run down my face..
Someone had asked me how my son’s appointment had gone for his legs..
..it had NOT gone well.. not even close to well… and I could no longer hold my fears in.. or my sorrow ..
I am a cry-er.. I am not a loud cry-er .. ha.. but neither am I a pretty cry-er .. I do think that I have cried enough tears (in my lifetime) to fill Lake Michigan. Tears of disappointment, tears of sadness.. tear of joy .. and worry.. and often anger..
But in that moment?
In that moment.. I felt so many emotions I couldn’t sort them out.
Well.. what I thought were simple growing pains for my son? Those pains weren’t simple.. and my son needed an emergency surgery. The appointment that I had put off because it wasn’t convenient for my schedule? Putting it off those few days had caused my son to be in prolonged pain..
My 10 year old son’s growth plates were too soft to hold up his weight.. he would need a screw to hold that growth plate in place if he wanted to walk..
.. and me? I had been too busy trying to balance everything in my hectic life to notice…
.. so in that moment?
In that moment.. as I let the tears pour down my cheeks..?
I was so angry .. angry at myself for not seeing how much pain he was in (even if he didn’t complain).. I was so angry that I hadn’t made it a big deal about it when I called the doc for an appointment.. I was so angry that the surgery was going to cause him pain..
.. I was worried because.. well? ..worried because it was a surgery.. and worried because my son did not do well with hospitals …
.. disappointed because nothing in his short life had gone easy ..
.. and .. I was sad…
I was always strong.. I always carried my Faith in God’s plan like a Shield.. I always smiled through my tears .. always cheering others on ..
..but in that moment?
I couldn’t breathe.. I was broken..
..but on the other side of those tears? I picked myself up and trudged through the unknown territory that God had planned for me..for my son.. for our whole family..
I have often heard people say that “God will not give you more than you can handle”… I would often laugh and reply that I wish God didn’t have so much faith in me..
..but I think that statement is a lie…
I think that God absolutely gives us more than we can handle.. but NEVER more than we can handle WITH HIS Strength ..
With God .. All Things are Possible..
.. even with my great Faith in my Heavenly Father.. I often find myself thinking I can plow through problems with my own strength.. I find myself not wanting to trouble God with my “little” problems because of all of the BIG problems that deserve His attention MORE than mine do..
..sometimes it takes me falling to my knees in tears .. sometimes it takes me feeling broken and alone… sometimes it takes “too much” .. to show me that I can’t do it on my own..
.. and then?
Then God fills me with His Strength and His Love.. and All the things I have to do? They all become possible..
While I was pregnant with my first child.. my strong willed daughter.. we could not decide on a name. So my husband and I struck a deal..
When our daughter was born.. If she looked like a “princess” then we would name her “Sabrina” ..
..and if she looked like a “little ruler” we would name her “Ryanne”..
Lol.. Then I prayed to God He would send her into the world boisterous and crying..
When that moment came? The moment I laid eyes on my girl? I had been awake for 40 hours.. And in labor for 28 hours..
FYI .. They call it labor because it is REALLY hard work..
Someone placed that beautiful baby in my arms..
Well? She stared right back at me. Her eyes were wide open .. and so curious. She was taking in the world around her without saying a word.
When her Daddy commented on something? She turned her head toward him and listened. When I laughed at her serious expression..? Well.. then she turned back to me.
The nurse commented that she had never seen such an alert baby.. And our girl turned toward her and listened carefully.
We quickly decided that her serene and graceful personality was more fitting of a “princess”.. And her birth certificate was filled out..
The last 18 years have sped by so quickly.. But she has remained much the same.. Always looking at the world around her with her eyes wide open… Curious and alert.. Learning as much as she could.. Holding her eyes so wide, as if she could soak in knowledge faster that way..
Lol.. But she also learned to express her opinion.. And negotiate..
Soon? Yup.. Her father and I wondered if we should have named her “little ruler”..
Recently I looked up “Ryanne” again.. Wanting to use it in a new book series.. And I realized the technical meaning was “a feminine version of Ryan”.. And Ryan means “little King”..
So Ryanne would mean “little queen”.. A mature and educated ruler..
Hmm.. So my husband had chose to name our daughter EITHER a queen OR a princess? Both of these names mean a natural leader..
And a leader she is.. An educated, empathetic, observant leader..
Maybe we should encourage her to run for President.. We could use more leaders like her..
But my little princess has dreams of her own.. And she will go on being a leader in her own world.. Clearing her own path..
We never saved money for my daughter’s college.. We started to, but then…?
Well.. then life happened.
As I was pulling pictures for my daughter’s open house last week.. I saw snapshots of that life …
First there were gymnastics classes and dance.. To give her socialization skills.
Then it was off to preschool .. To give her a headstart in school.. After all, she was already so smart.
Then came trips to museums and zoos.. Nature centers..
As her desire to perform evolved.. We added Performing Arts camps and classes..
Add in piano lessons, Girl Scout camps.. Community college Musical opportunities..
Yup.. Pretty soon her college fund was history..
But that isn’t the end of her pictures..
No sir-ee.. Then comes to the cross country trips that my husband and I took our kids on..
To New York to see family.. And to see Niagara Falls..
To California to see family.. and a quick stop at the Grand Canyon..
As we added each new state to our map of “places”? Yup.. More pictures.. Each picture brought a smile to my face.. Remembering the adventures .. the life lessons.. the laughter and smiles..
Along the way…?
Along the way paying for college became less of a priority.. and preparing her for life took its place.
Now don’t get me wrong.. We have always TALKED about college.. and her future. That part was never a question. With her reading before Kindergarten? It was just a given..
The only thing that changed was our focus on saving money FOR her future.. instead of PREPARING her for that future.
What we didn’t realize in making this subconscious shift?
Our daughter has lived a very full. And she learned to live IN TODAY.. although the while working hard toward her future. She enjoys her life where ever she is.. Whether it’s tutoring.. or creating a set.. babysitting twins.. or swimming in the moonlight.. she always has a smile on her face.
Even (occasionally) she will smile while doing dishes.. (hey.. she is human after all)…
So today when I look at my daughter .. and realize that soon she will have student loans..
..and I know that we (her father & I) can’t prevent that…
I realize that .. with those student loans?
She will also have memories of moonlit kayak rides, kayak adventures to find hidden islands, cousin sleep overs (aka stay up overs), many hide n seek adventures in the dark, science experiments growing what’s in our mouth (yuck), science experiments with coke and Mentos, reading millions of books, watching “books” we have read come ALIVE at the movie theaters, doing chores, earning her own money, getting pets, saying good-bye to pets, taking 30 hour driving trips to see cousins, seeing beautiful landmarks in our country, welcoming exchange sisters into our lives, sharing a room with someone you don’t know LONG enough to know them by heart, having to hug those exchange sisters good-bye at airports, art lessons, piano lessons, acting lessons, voice lessons, summer camps, theatre camps, family camps, swimming in waterfalls, getting leaches, putting band-aids on little ones, having surgeries, playing board games all night, designing her own prom dresses, learning how to eat gluten free, saving money for Disney World, going to Disney World, learning how to drive, making her first solo trip, being center stage in the spot light, being backstage supporting someone else’s spotlight, singing songs on stage, singing her grandpa’s favorite song around the campfire,
As I tried to find the perfect 500 word excerpt from Shadows this morning, I consulted my daughters… They quickly listed off a couple samples.. but I still couldn’t decide…
So I thought I would ask you..
Which section would make YOU more likely to download a copy of Shadows?
!The first Sample!
“I can’t believe my luck. Sure was happy to see ya walk past my horse. I was jest leavin’ town myself. Now I can escort ya home,” the stranger continued happily.
“You’ll hafta excuse me, sir, I must be hurryin’. My Da will be expectin’ me ta have dinner ready soon,” Emma stated.
“Well then, we musn’t keep him waitin’,” he replied. There was a chuckle behind her. The fair haired gentleman smiled in response to his friend’s laughter. “I’ll come along with ya. Ya can introduce me, so I can git permission ta call on ya. Official like. We can git our courtin’ started today.”
“I believe ya misunderstood me, sir,” Emma replied appalled.
“Misunderstood? Na, I think not. I see that ya waited fer me outside of town, so that we could walk together without all those busybodies watchin’ us and interuptin’.” Smiling, the man reached for her arm. Emma stepped back and bumped into the horse behind her. Feeling panic well up within her, she looked around for help and was amazed to see a pair of stormy eyes walking towards her.
From behind, Emma heard the man on the horse cleared his throat in warning. The fair haired gentleman stiffened in irritation as he turned towards the approaching man, demanding, “What do ya want now?”
Emma could not take her eyes off the approaching help, even though she knew it was rude to stare. The gray eyed man did not look away from her as he answered, “When this young lady fergot ta bring me my coffee before she left town, I started in ta worryin’.”
Looking down into her basket, Emma realized that she had indeed purchased the tin of coffee the man had intended only as a distraction. “I fergot,” she said weakly, trying to figure out why he would want the coffee she accidentally purchased.
Coming to stop a few steps from Emma, the gray eyed man smiled at her. “Ya steal a man’s heart and then ya steal his coffee, darlin’?” He winked at her. “Ya go too far.” The smile that touched his mouth, did not reach his stormy eyes. They tried to convey a meaning to her. A meaning that Emma could not quite grasp. “Ya shoulda waited fer me ta walk with ya. I’ve been wantin’ ta speak with yer Pa,” he paused briefly before continuing, “before the weddin’.”
Gasping as his plan dawned on her, Emma ducked around the fair haired gentleman and reached for her rescuer’s arm. He weaved her hand around his tense elbow and held it there. Wanting to look convincing in her new role, she desperately tried to remember how Abigail had looked at her David all those months while they were courting. Opening her eyes wide, she batted her eyelashes. “Oh do forgive me darling,” she said, attempting to mimic Abigail’s sugary tone. She hoped no one would notice how her voice quivered.
!!The second Sample!!
By the time she walked back from the field and made it to the hill by the creek, she had convinced herself that Thane would have left by now. When she arrived, it was indeed vacant. Emma sat down in disappointment, but intent on looking carefree. “Well Mama, it looks as if I brought ya a sandwich.”
“Ya’ve already given my sandwich away?” asked a voice that made her jump guiltily.
“Ah—No, of course not,” Emma replied, willing her heart to slow down. “But I almost dropped it in the water, ya scared me so,” she scolded. Thane sat down a couple paces from Emma. She handed him a sandwich, wrapped in a towel.
Thane took a bite of the sandwich. Looking thoughtful, he asked, “Ya gonna introduce me ta yer Mama?”
Emma looked up at him. She couldn’t decide if he was making fun of her. Finding no hint of teasing in his face, she replied, “Mr. Hawkins meet my Mama, Lilliana Wells. Lily, to those that loved her. Mama, this is Mr. Hawkins.. He’s taken ta savin’ me lately. Even promised ta marry me ta protect me from an ugly mess,” she ended with a smile.
“Pleasure ta meet ya ma’am. Please call me Thane.”
“Mama wants ta know where ya come from that we shouldna know ya already? We thought we knew everyone here in the valley,” Emma asked innocently.
“Well ma’am, I live in those hills,” nodding his head across the creek, “tucked in a valley. I come this way a couple times a year but spend most my time on the trail huntin’ and trappin’.”
“So yer a trapper?” Emma asked between bites.
“Call me Emma –,” she reminded him.
“Beggin yer pardon, ma’am, I thought I was talkin’ ta yer Mama,” he said with a lopsided smile.
She chose to ignore his teasing and looked toward the hills.
“Yer mama seems ta belong in this spot,” Thane observed.
“She does,” she stated simply. “A fever took her and my baby sister ta heaven a few years back.” Her final words were barely above a whisper.
“I’m sorry,” Thane said softly.
Emma blinked back a tear before she looked at him.
“Where is yer sister’s stone?” he asked.
“Isn’t one. She was so small, I couldna bear fer her ta be put by herself. Mama had wanted her so. And Da– well he couldna bear ta name her. So she sleeps in Mama’s arms, here in Mama’s favorite spot.” She waved her arm to indicate the hill top overlooking the little creek. “Da brought this rock here. When he dug it up outta the cornfield – he decided ta roll it here so Mama wouldna have grass stains on all her skirts. She always was sittin’ in the grass. She tried ta make them stop before they hurt themselves. But Da had jest teased how “embarrassed” he was ta have a wife with green dresses. She finally relented then …but wouldna come down here fer weeks,” Emma laughed sadly. “But when she did, she sat on the rock.” She paused, remembering. “She kept one skirt with an especially bad grass mark though. She hung it right in their room. It’s hangin’ there still. Da won’t even let me wash it.” She didn’t notice the tears on her cheeks until Thane handed her his towel.
“What about yer Ma?” Emma asked, trying to lighten the mood as she dried her cheeks. “Will I know her if she’s in town? Or will I have ta wait `til the weddin’?”
Thane looked back towards the hills. “Awhile beyond that, I expect,” he answered softly. “My Ma died when I was young. We went out trappin’ and when we returned.. she was gone.”
“Oh,” Emma replied, not knowing what to say. “How old were ya?”
“Not sure really. Probably 9 winters ago.”
“Ya don’t know how old ya are?” Emma asked incredulously.
Thane shrugged his shoulders. “Pa doesn’t keep track of such things-says they’re nonsense. I stopped askin’.”
Wiping her eyes again, she cleared her throat. “Maybe we should jest start plannin’ our weddin’ before I start cryin’ again.”
**Please Vote in the comments below**
… if you haven’t downloaded Shadows yet.. you should… It’s a bargain at 99 cents..
Once upon a time.. About 13 1/2 years ago.. a little girl (with lots of curls) headed off to her first day of kindergarten.
And like EVERYthing in her life? Yup! She wanted to do it on her own.
She did NOT want me to drive her to school that first day.
She did NOT want me to walk her into her class and help her get settled.
She wanted to ride the bus like EVERYone did..
She wouldn’t even let me hold her hand..
I was a little hurt I guess.. I do make plans in my head.. You know those plans, right? Plans on how to be the best mom..
But neither me nor my husband were suprised that she simply announced she would have none of my plans..
Why? Well you see.. Everything in her life until that point had been the same..
When she was 3 weeks old? She simply refused to let me rock her to sleep anymore. She wanted to be put in her crib so she could go to sleep ON HER OWN..
At 6 months? She clamped her mouth shut.. Refusing to be fed anymore. She wanted to do it ON HER OWN.
Doing puzzles? She would gently move my hand away.. She didn’t want any help.
Now this “on her own” attitude did get her in trouble.. Because it often slipped into.. “Let me do it my way”…
Lol.. Once that attitude had her preschool teacher telling me she’s be better off with younger kids.. My beautiful, smart, strong willed girl…. was demoted to a younger class..
.. and well? Let’s just say her ballet teacher was so relieved when we moved to Missouri before recital.. I guess having my girl “co-teach” the class (only when she felt the teacher was being boring) wasn’t as fun as it sounded..
Sigh.. Honestly I knew how the dance teacher felt.. I wondered often why my daughter couldn’t just do it my way FOR ONCE..
Last night my daughter gave a speech at graduation.. as Valedictorian. That same stubborn pride.. The same frustrating determination to do things her own way.. ??
It would keep my daughter up until the WEE hours of the morning doing homework after a long night of Musical practice.
It would have my daughter going the extra distance to do a project the way she wanted.. Which was often more than her teacher had asked for.
Yes .. My daughter’s determination to do things ON HER OWN and in her OWN WAY.. is the very reason she made it to the top of her class ..
So even when I retell stories of her childhood around the fire.. Tales of her stubbornness and the frustration I had endured… And laughing until I have tears in my eyes..
.. Even when I act like it was awful.. I am actually so very proud of the young lady she has become…
.. and I don’t really worry about her future.. I know she will get there ON HER OWN timing and in her own way..
Luckily I have God in our corner.. Watching out for her along the way.. because it’s going to be great.
I don’t write about my daughter a lot.. Probably because I prefer to tell her tales of “terror” around the campfire … Where we can all laugh until we cry..
You see? The “legal adult” you all see before you? The beautiful, polite, smart, sweet, politically correct, top scholar? She was once a beautiful, smart, sassy, stubborn, strong willed, test-every-rule kind of girl…
I was so glad she out grew that Last year…
All kidding aside? She has always been a great kid to raise.. (Except that time when she accused a kind old gentleman of trying to kidnap her.. Or the time she tipped the bookshelf over.. Sigh.. Or the time she screamed in the store bathroom that the dinosaurs were going to eat her.. Sigh.. Or the time she dumped all the shampoo, conditioner and body soap into the bathwater as an “experiment”… )
Ok .. Ok.. There were times that I questioned my ability to parent this child successfully..
And I think THAT is one of the reasons I don’t write about my daughter as much as my son..
I made a ton of mistakes..
One of the worst was the day my daughter told me she KNEW she wasn’t pretty..
Frustrated I asked her how she could KNOW that she wasn’t..
She stated (very matter-of-factly).. “Because YOU have never told me that I was pretty. Everyone knows that mothers ALWAYS think their children are beautiful no MATTER what .. So if my own mother doesn’t tell me I’m pretty.. Then I must be pretty ugly.”
I remember my world froze in that moment..
After a moment of silence, my daughter shrugged her shoulders like the whole thing was no big deal..
… it WAS a big deal to me..
But it was also true..
Why wouldn’t I tell my daughter she was beautiful?
Well… This world is so hung up on our girls BEING beautiful.. That I wanted to emphasize everything that was below the surface with my girl.. Her intelligence.. Her kindness.. Her empathic heart.. Her natural leadership .. Her imagination…
I wanted her to like who she WAS on the inside no matter what her outside looked like..
I was too intent on keeping her confident, humble and successful… And kind..
But in that moment I knew I had failed..
Every child likes to feel cherished by their mother.. And I had not given that need a thought..
So with tears in my heart (and in my eyes), I told her I thought she was the most beautiful girl .. And that I also thought she was beautiful for the girl she IS on the inside.. I explained that I hadn’t told her she was beautiful because I didn’t want her to think Beauty was the most important thing..
I told her I made a mistake.. That I should have told her both..
And then I hugged that beautiful girl to me..
I don’t know why God trusted me with this strong willed, stubborn, beautiful girl to raise..
At Easter we find ourselves celebrating with Eggs..
Colorful delicious Easter Eggs.. And sometimes chocolate eggs..
What do eggs REALLY have to do with God sending His Son to die for our sins? To pay for our pride, our envy.. Our jealousies.. Our gossips.. Our judging.. And our other sins we hope no one knows about..??
Well the Egg represents the New Life we find in Jesus .. WHEN we accept that sacrifice He made for us..
We make them colorful to represent that Blessings can make our lives so colorful .. WHEN we follow Jesus…
And chocolate eggs represent.?? That life can be so sweet.. WHEN we have Jesus..
So this weekend as you see Easter Eggs everywhere you go? Let us remember that they represent New Life with Jesus…
Happy Easter All.. And may God’s Love fill you this celebrated weekend..
I love to walk through my yard after a snow storm blows through. I know that you’ll agree that it’s always the prettiest when the snow is fresh and the sun shining bright. But I am not always looking up to see the beauty.
Where else would I look (you ask)??
I am usually looking down.
You see.. while we are all bundled up inside our houses? All warm and safe? The world outside isn’t always as quiet as we think.
The first time I took water and food to my chickens.. right after a snow storm?? I stopped in surprise. All around me were paw prints and tracks through the snow. Trails going in all directions. I saw squirrel tracks… and rabbit… deer trails by the dozens.. and coyote tracks on more than a few occasions.
Why would I find it cool to find coyote tracks in my backyard??
Well? Honestly they didn’t bother anything.. so why not?
The house that my husband works hard to provide for us.. and the protection that God gives us .. keeps us safe at night. So sometimes I find it interesting to see what dangers may have pass us by, in the night.
I sometimes think of my Faith as a type of house.
We sit inside of houses of Faith.. all safe and warm.. and blissfully unaware of the dangers that God directs around us. And unless we go outside our houses? Well unless we go out in our backyards.. we wouldn’t even know what dangers passed us right on by.
So why doesn’t God show us the dangers He protects us from? It certainly would scare more people into having Faith. But God says He wants us to come to Him willingly and freely. So He keeps those tracks hidden.
Now you are probably thinking.. What about the bad things that happen to those with Faith? Does that mean their Faith failed them?
I don’t have the answers to that.
I have had my share of troubles in this world. Bad experiences, medical emergencies, scares… I could go on.. and on… So does that mean that I lacked Faith and God kept His protection to Himself?
I felt protection. I was overwhelmed.. but felt protected.
The Bible promises us that “Everything will Be Beautiful in its time.” But until that time? Until the moment that I realize why bad things happen to the Faithful?
Until then, I will count the number of trails that go away from my house.. and be thankful for them.
Everything sounds better with the echo of a still small voice.