Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bring on the Rain

A glance outside showed me that the sky was beginning to darken, and the wind had picked up. I noticed this with relief, because it meant the daily storm was on its way. I love to sit with a mug of something warm or a glass of something cool and watch God's design at work! I was so alarmed by the fierceness of the storms when we first moved here, but now I miss them during the winter and wait for them each day during the summer. What may look lush and green to a visitor can seem dry and brown to a local who knows how greatly our state benefits from this drenching.

You probably know where I'm going with this.

With all the change that has happened in my life these past two years, my heart has darkened and the pace has picked up; instead of saying a storm is coming, I can honestly say that I am in the middle of it. I wish I could also say that I have welcomed it as much as I welcome a summer shower.

Today, I find I'm asking myself, "Why not?"

Every trial I have been through, without fail, has brought positive change. Yet, I don't anticipate them with a smile and relief - far from it! I fight and deny that very dark cloud as it moves closer and closer, until suddenly chaos breaks all around me and I'm running for shelter. The sooner I can recognize God at work in my life, the sooner the peace will come in the middle of it. It's so hard to get to that point, though!

I go through stages where I feel like I am offending everyone around me. I even offended a patient when I used the term "hell week" to describe what our office conversion was like, and she let the office manager know about it later. Anyone who knows me, knows that "hell" is probably the strongest word I use, yet even THAT was offensive. That's when I want to quit. That's when being alone has a more powerful pull than the fear of embarrassment, so I begin to withdraw. Let the record show that I have watch an entire TV series on Netflix in one sitting. Hear ye, hear ye . . . .

Keeping to myself has a much greater appeal than trying to commune with others. This is when a shift at The Park is ideal, believe it or not! I can interact with hundreds, if not thousands, of people in a 6 hour shift. We can laugh, joke, meet a crisis, find a solution, and part the best of friends in that time. I can make their day brighter and better, and they can make a difference in mine. Then, the most beautiful part, is that they leave and I never have to see them again! They never have to know that I had pizza for breakfast and my bathroom is beyond need for cleaning. They never have to know that my laundry is piled high and there's something unrecognizable in the fridge. They never have to know when I say something stupid and people react with embarrassment. They never really have to know ME, and they never have the chance to be offended by something I say or do.

Today, I realized I was quitting.

So here's my resolve: It's time to look beyond my emotions and go back to what I know is TRUE. That's what truth is for - to give us a place to stand or return when all is failing around us.

When a storm is arriving in my state, I stop what I'm doing for a while and simply watch. Scripture reads, "Be still, and know that I am God."

If I'm caught in a downpour while driving, I reduce my speed, pray, and proceed with caution. Scripture reads, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid."

If I happen to be outside and not near shelter (which happens often lately, as my FB page and Instagram can attest), I sigh, bundle my items to protect them as best as I can, put on my resolve, and walk. Scripture reads, "Press on towards the goal."

I'm in the middle of a beautiful mess, but now I know what to do:

Be still.

Be Strong.

Press on.

All in HIS strength, not mine. Trusting and resting in HIM, not in me or others.

No quitting allowed. As Glenna learned at summer camp, change can only happen when I stop trying to keep everything the same; that's why it's called CHANGE.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

It Begins

Last week, we had an appointment at a bridal store to "just look and see." Two of Kelly's bridesmaids met us there. We had so much fun! Our consultant, Caitlin, was GREAT.



We are full-swing into wedding mode and slightly overwhelmed. Last night Kelly was showing photos of bridal hair options and she showed us one that was slightly hideous.

Kelly: What do you think?

Me: Nope.

Glenna: Oh. Ok.

Kelly: Glenna! It was a test! You failed.

Glenna: No! I support you!

Kelly: You have to know where to draw the line!



Because we weren't planning on buying anything that day and were completely comfortable and relaxed, this happened:



Missing you, Jess!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Smile for a While!

In Texas, I was able to catch up with my cousin, Cal, whom I have not seen in many years. I was also able to get to know his son, Alec, whom I have not seen since he was two years old! He apologized for not knowing me, which was sweet. He's actually as hilarious as his father is and sounds EXACTLY LIKE HIM. 

I could not stop laughing!

I love to just keep taking photos on my phone, because it takes a few to get one good one (what did we ever do with film cameras? Oh yeah. . . lived with missed shots and cut off heads in our photos).  I finally talked Alec into taking a selfie with me, which was continually photo-bombed by my cousin. 


Here he is telling me not to put it on Facebook and no, he was not going to smile.




Not going to do it. No smiling.


He's breaking!


Gotcha!



Thursday, May 29, 2014

Quiz Up and Stuff

 I'm addicted to the app, Quiz Up.  I have played this game with strangers from around the world (from all inhabited continents, in fact!) and against my own family members. This is especially fun when we're sitting on the couch together and laughing at questions like this one from the Bible category:


 Ok, and this was a fun time. Our Brown-Eyed Girl came with us to find a graduation dress for Glenna. First, she HAD to pick out a fun outfit:
Did you go back for these pants, Jess? I still think they're kinda cute!

Then, I found these great leggings and plopped them over the top of Glenna's dressing room. Her response was "uh, NO." Jessie's response?

"Oooh! Ok!"





Tomorrow's going to be a very, very busy day. I'll probably start off by sleeping in; this way, I can carefully coordinate my errands with THE LAST MINUTE, which we all know is the only time things get done.

Lastly, Himself brought these to my office on separate occasions. 
They hide behind my monitor and protect me from evil villains. Also, they entertain young patients who are waiting for a sibling. I always make sure to get them back! I had one little girl exclaim, "You like BOY toys?"

Heh.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Day So Sweet

The cat's out of the bag now - my Kelly and her Paul are getting married! If you want the details, you'll have to ask them, but here's the way it went down from my end! 

After kind of a rough start, I let them in to Epcot and then gave the, "OK I LOVE YOU BUH BYE!" We said we would meet up for dinner at 7 at the Bier Garten in Germany. But first, a photo:



Since I knew what was happening and Kelly didn't (though she highly suspected!), I wondered where I could go until 7pm and NOT run into them?


I realized the perfect "hiding place" would be where my family NEVER wants to go: Character Meet and Greets! I made it my goal to take selfies with my favorites!
The Boss! Mickey! He's my Pal.

Goofy! I asked him not to put my eye out with his whiskers.

Minnie! She gives the BEST hugs!

 Here in Future World, this lady zoomed past me on this cart. I knew I had to capture a photo and trotted to catch up, phone at the ready. She probably could have had me arrested had she known I was tailing her, but PUH-LEASE! Her HAIR!

It was BRAIDED INTO A HAT!!!


I had my sunflower umbrella with me that my cousin, Richard, bought when we were there with them. It's so perfect to have shade wherever you go on a hot, Florida day.
 While I was standing in line for the next Character meet, this little boy from England couldn't resist touching my umbrella. We had a fun conversation about weather in England vs. weather in California. Cute kid!

Dale!

Chip!!!
 Since I was fighting a headache (and trying not to think about what was possibly happening RIGHT THEN, somewhere in the WORLD), I stopped at this cart for an espresso, which does WONDERS to fight migraines. I asked the cast member if I could have a frozen cappuccino (because it was so hot out) but with a shot of espresso because I was fighting a headache. She said, "Oh, of COURSE!" and proceeded to charge me for BOTH DRINKS. Total came to nine dollars. NINE. I just gave her a look and paid.

BUT OH. . . . then this wonderful thing happened. As she was making my espresso, the cast member with her exploded the chocolate syrup and got it all over her. I couldn't help it. I whipped out my camera and took pictures with a big smile on my face.
Here it is on her face.

Click on the photo - see her in the background with it all over her leg? Hee hee!

Suddenly, this tasted so much sweeter. 

I was texting like crazy with Kelly's best friend, Kate, and with Paul's Mom, and with my Jessie. I decided to hide out in Mexico.

I finally found a Hidden Mickey on the Gran Fiesta ride! See it?

Waiting for Donald.

I had the camera facing the wrong way and told him I didn't know how to do it right because I was a mom, and he tickled my back in response!

Finally, I started walking toward Germany. Before I got there, my phone rang! Two very happy, very giddy people were calling me from ITALY, telling me the deed was done and they are getting married. I immediately blew kisses to them and told them I'd see them in Germany. They spent the next hour contacting family and friends!

When they found me, we laughed and cried and hugged and all the strangers around us were laughing and smiling, too! Here's Kelly, finally able to talk to her sister, who FINALLY got her break from work:

She's laughing and crying at the same time. Glenna was so excited that Kelly couldn't understand a word she was saying!





Best selfie of the day!


After dinner, I went home and left them there. We're all still smiling and very, very thankful. We love Paul and can't wait to call him our own!


Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Quiet Conclusion

The day that has be steadily counting down on my blog for years has finally arrived. Today, I mailed my last report and last check to our home school umbrella school.



Sixteen years and DONE.
I went to the nearest Publix during my lunch hour and bought myself a lemon tart to celebrate. It was delicious, but the moment was bittersweet!

I want to show you something. Here's a photo of what we looked like the year I began home schooling (1998). I sat and fussed with the scanner and never got it to work, so I did my best by holding it up to the camera on my computer.


Trying to get closer so you can see the 90's perm.

Wait. Is this working?


The main thing is the hair. Do you see the hair? I had just begun experimenting with color rinses, but it's mostly my own hair color. And my hair color NOW?

This is all me!
So I ask you - for whom has home schooling been the most difficult? The kids? Let's see . . .








Or parents?










It's the hardest thing I've ever decided to do.

It's also the best thing I've ever decided to do.

Well, ONE of the best things. 

A lifetime of memories to store in my heart, and hopefully in their hearts, too. I'm so thankful I didn't miss any of it. But, then again, there's this one:


When she was much younger, I would have to tell her that she couldn't do all of the things that her brother and sister could do. I would gently remind her that when THEY were six, eight, etc, I wouldn't let THEM do the things they could now do at eleven, sixteen, and so on. It's so difficult to be the youngest, especially when siblings are four and seven years older!

But when Glenna turned thirteen, I asked her to do something that I never dreamed of asking her siblings to do when they were thirteen; I asked Glenna to be at home without me.




The hardest thing I had ever done was leave that girl at home. I had been home with my children for 21 years up to that point, but with two kids in college, school money had to come from somewhere. We were unable to save for college during the 21 years on a single, blue-collar income. I started part-time at the Park and then started working at the dentist office, also part-time. I would get off at 1:00 and try to help with her school as much as I could. Her freshman year was a total bomb. 

I knew I needed help and enrolled her in a college prep school specifically designed for home school, where she took classes one day per week and did her home work at home the other four days. It was a good, but difficult time. She thrived academically but struggled with so many other areas, and I was a basket case with all the many responsibilities of work, home, and school. By the grace of God and help of loving mentors, my Glenna triumphed over depression and loneliness. Bless her, bless her, bless her.

And bless this guy and his faithful service every Monday night, speaking the truth of God's love into her life for four years. Monday nights would end with Glenna sharing lessons of God's steadfast passion for His children. She would share every word until she saw her exhausted Mom fading into sleep, then she would kiss me and tuck me in for the night. Roles reversed.

Now my girl is fiercely independent - so much so that I have to remind her that she still has parents to make major decisions on her behalf, and we would be happy to help take care of things! Paul spoke well when he said, "Youngest borns have zero expectations of others." She has had to grow up too quickly! I know God is sovereign over this. I know God's plan was to grow her and help her and He has! It's just not without pain in my heart. My beautiful Baby Girl, I love you so . . . 


With each of my children, when they graduated high school and I was no longer solely responsible for their educations, we were able to restore our relationships that had been strained by this accountability. Josh reminded me of the time I told him how thankful I was for my relationship with my son post-home school, and again with my Kelly. He told me at Glenna's graduation that I now had that to look forward to with her as well. With Glenna, however, she had to shoulder her school burden more than I did and was accountable to other teachers, so the strain wasn't as great as with the others (but there was strain! Don't get me wrong!). Still, I'm so looking forward to having the stress of school lifted completely as it is with Ty and Kelly! I love being with my kids more than anyone else in the world. I'm happy just to sit in a corner and bask in their friendships and laughter . . . what joy they bring to my heart!

So today I mark a milestone with thankfulness. I am so thankful I home schooled and wouldn't trade a single day of it. We are blessed to live where we have the freedom to choose this option and become better because of it. 

We are blessed.

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