Be still and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas from Heaven

Christmas was my Mom's favorite time of year. She just loved everything about this season from the decorating, shopping, wrapping ... all of it! The Christmas music of Elvis Presley and the like would start right up after Thanksgiving and play nonstop. She'd start shopping and wrapping and hiding gifts long before the holiday, like a busy little elf.

Plus, she took great pleasure in always writing "From: Santa" on each present and would never, ever fess up to the truth.

Even as adults when we all voted to stop gift exchanges for us & just focus on the kids, she'd protest mightily. It simply brought her great joy trying to find that perfect gift for her loved ones. Gift cards or cash just wouldn't do. She put much thought into each gift ... each person ... trying to find that perfect gift that would light up their face.

Interestingly enough, she was never concerned with what or if she got anything in return. Kind of a 'mom thing' I think. But ... of course! We loved seeing her face light up when someone bought her a new bell to go into her curio cabinet or a new pair of her favorite colored (blue) pajamas.

It didn't take much to bring a smile to her face at this time of year that was always so nice to see.

I miss her more during December than at Mother's Day since her death in 2007.  Maybe it is because her birthday was on the 14th or maybe it is because when I think back over my childhood, my very best & happiest memories were at Christmastime.

Christmas is just different if you've lost a parent(s) to death or otherwise. It feels like there is this big puzzle, and a piece is missing. Because there is something missing. 

There is nothing else that can fill it.

My loss reminds me that there are many others experiencing this same sadness at this time of year. Just a few weeks ago, a fitness instructor at the gym I go to announced her father had passed away from terminal cancer. I ran into her a few days ago and knew the only words I could say were I understand and You aren't alone. With tears in both of our eyes, we connected, in a way, that only those experiencing this type of loss can truly understand.

Amongst all of the fun, happy music, shopping & wrapping, and the baking of cookies ... it reminds me that behind the smiles there are many hurting hearts. That just "maybe" the store clerk's lack of a smile goes beyond just job stress and irritation.

That's when I try to offer a kind hello and a smile. Just because. And most of the time, it does the trick.

Pure, sweet, simple kindness has a way of doing that.

So as we put up our "real" Christmas tree this year, and I pulled out my old familiar picture ornament of my Mom to hang up, I was reminded of this poem that I wanted to share with you. If you are missing a loved one this year, I hope it brings you comfort, too.

Merry Christmas from Heaven
I still hear the songs
I still see the lights
I still feel your love
on cold wintery nights

I still share your hopes
and all your cares
I'll even remind you to please
say your prayers

I just want to tell you
you still make me proud
You stand head and shoulders
above all the crowd

Keep trying each moment
to stay in His grace
I came here before you
to help set your place

You don't have to be
perfect all the time
He forgives you the slip
If you continue
to climb

To my family and friends
please be thankful today
I'm still close beside you
In a new special way

I love you all dearly
now don't shed a tear
Cause I'm spending my Christmas
with Jesus this year.
~John Mooney
Missing you Mom!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Like a Child

Just the other day on the way home from school we were passing a park, and both Megan and Luke said, "Hey, can we play there?" Surprised me as it was obviously for much smaller children & I didn't think they cared about stuff like that anymore at their ages of almost 13 and 8. And the truth be told, I really didn't want to stop and it was cold! I had a long list of things I needed to get done at home, but instead I thought Why not?

I let them out to play and watched from the car as they took in every last slide & swing. They played tag over & over. They laughed and got along (trust me, this isn't an ordinary occurrence!). As I watched them play, tears came to my eyes because of how fast time goes. Wasn't it just yesterday that they were toddlers? Preschoolers?

But more importantly, my tears were for what they were teaching me as I watched them play. I took in their childlike wonder & excitement about Life. Their ability to just drop everything and play. Something that just doesn't come naturally for me. Children have this incredible ability to be in the here and now. They aren't concerned or worried about yesterday or tomorrow or their "to do lists." They look at life from many different eyes than we do as adults.

I then began to wonder: When does it all change? and Why does it need to? and Why is it so hard to get back to that place once we are adults?

What they taught me that day was to not put things off. I've spent the majority of my life dealing with chronic illness. I've told myself many times that once I feel better, I will ... Or once Lyme disease has finally taken a hike, I will ... but honestly what I learned from that day watching them is that there is no time like the present. The things that I think are so important can wait.

What I do know for sure is the next time they want to stop at a park, even if it's in the middle of winter, I am definitely going to get out of our van and go down those slides with them whether I feel like it or not. I will get on that swing next to them and see who can go the highest! I will play tag with them and let them win. And I will probably drag Matthew along just because. :)

I don't want to miss a thing. Those are the moments that will matter at the end of my life.

This park experience reminded me that I wanted to experience this 2011 holiday season, in the same way, as I hope it does for you, too. Take time to slow down during this busy time of year and take in the simple things. The things that really matter. To stop and reflect & remember the true meaning of the season.

Take a moment to pause and take in that pine smell of a real Christmas tree (unless you're allergic!) or stop at that beautifully decorated home all lit up and let it bring joy to your heart. Or maybe make that special person a homemade gift instead of just picking something off the shelf. Or put your "list" aside and instead spend time with your loved ones.

Take some time to get down on bended knee at that manger scene & give Praise and Thanks for Jesus, who is the Gift. Sing that old familiar Christmas song with all of your heart & soul like you mean it.

I write this post on my 17th wedding anniversary to Mark. And even though today's weather doesn't even compare to how it was 17 years ago (it was a beautiful 50 degree day & no snowstorm!), but instead looks like much rain ahead, I think I will ask him to take my hand & take me for a stroll around our neighborhood.

And we will for sure stop and take in all of the Christmas decorations and maybe stop and chat with our neighbors. We will talk about the past 17 years and all that we've been blessed with. And I  will let the rain fall on my face & soak my shoes & I will not complain about it for one second.

Because I have everything I need.


Please take a moment to enjoy this video from Third Day. You'll need to "pause" my music player first. My wish for you this season is that you, also, experience Christmas Like a Child and are able to slow down & take it all in.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Icky ticky

Someone who chose to be "anonymous" in regards to one of my posts about Lyme disease when leaving this comment, "Icky Ticky." I'm sure this person thought it was funny or it would irritate me in someway. Instead, I think it is a great title for this new blog post because,  in fact, I think ticks are "icky." I could come up with much worse words than that because I know what that little bug can do to the human body. What it has done to mine. What it has done to my life and how that has affected my family.

When I began my "research" into Lyme disease years ago, I tried to ignore all of those facts about the disease I didn't want to believe. I refused to believe that it was "incurable," at least for chronic cases like mine. Absolutely refused. Because that meant, I was giving up hope. Then I began talking to way too many people who reported to me that their symptoms did return after treatment stopped.

The truth is, the bacteria know how to "hide" from the medication. It loves to come out of hiding during extreme stress. There is, after all, 300 different strains of this bacteria. I think it's pretty realistic to assume medication/supplements can't get every last one.

So in August when I felt my health going backwards, I knew something was up. Lab tests showed my hormone levels plummeted and that the nasty bacteria was back and wrecking havoc on me, once again.

Not long after that, I was asked to talk to someone who just found out she had Lyme. Her symptoms were debilitating and painful and much worse than mine. I immediately thought, What in the world can I offer this person or anyone else for that matter? Because here I was, once again, in the same boat.

And then I realized that the best thing I could offer her or anyone else was not to list off all of these doctors, treatment protocols, supplements, and books to read. Yes, they are important, but I realized the best thing I could offer her was what others have offered me along the way that have kept me afloat.

I could offer a whole lot of prayer. A listening ear. To hear I understand, or You are not alone or How can I help you? To my dearest friends and family saying "You can't give up, I won't let you."

Words of encouragement & support & love sure make a difference. They can make all the difference, trust me.

Although I feel discouraged, confused, and at times, hopeless, I've chosen instead to focus on & to be thankful for how far I have come. I am grateful for all the lessons I have learned that I know I couldn't have learned any other way. I chose to be thankful for what I am able to do and the symptoms that are gone. To give thanks for the people in my life who continue to love & support me through this ongoing trial. I will keep on praising God for all I have been given.

And, as always, I will keep on pressing on and through towards health and well-being.

So hopefully this explains to you, my readers, why there has been a lull in my blogging or why I've been M.I.A. :) Thank you to those of you who have reached out to me in one form, or another. I do greatly appreciate you reading and supporting my blog.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Do it Afraid

We recently went on a "mini" family vacation to Crivitz, WI, which use to be an old favorite neck of the woods for our family. The last time we were there was when Megan was just under a year old, so about 12 years ago.

One day Mark & I decided to take the kids on a hike through the woods in search of a good swimming spot.

What we were after (at least I was!) was like a real-life-nature-type diving board. I remembered how much fun I had as a kid doing that kind of stuff. Exploring. Using our imagination with nature to find fun things to do.

Thankfully, we both remembered the way ... and we came upon a small group of young college-aged kids who were already partaking in the fun, but from a much, much higher spot. Laughing and having a blast.

Living Life.

The kids watched for awhile, taking it all in and then the question came: Well, who is going to go first?

I sure expected Megan or Luke to fight for that spot, but instead our more reserved, oldest child, Matthew, stepped up to the edge. This was after he watched one of the other girls do it and he said, Well, if she can do it, then so can I!
Plus, I think he finally is starting to understand & realize at his age of almost 15 that this was one of those opportunities in Life that you just don't pass up!

And in he went with an impressive splash, followed by Luke, of course! ... and then it was Megan's turn.

And she froze. Didn't move or speak.

Put me into a state of confusion because this is the one child of ours who at 2 years old was climbing as high as humanly possible on our Rainbow play set and stubbornly demanded to do it alone! Many times she had people in our backyard in a state of shock or awe as she climbed, climbed, climbed ... and didn't fall.  

No fear comes to mind when I think back to her toddler years and also when she embraced gymnastics as a preschooler. Years later came cheerleading and the higher she could throw a teammate, the better. Yikes! Plus, she is more than willing to go on every single ride at Great America over and over and over, including the Big Drop. {Yep, she didn't get this last one from me!}

I volunteered to jump in then before her {I was planning on doing this anyway, yes indeed!}, then Mark went in, and yet she still couldn't do it.

The other group actually started cheering her on, like us. Words like, Come on! You can do it! ... and her brothers yelling, Megan it is REALLY fun!

I stayed in figuring I could coax her along in that way, but nothing was working. And I was literally running out of steam treading water & starting to remind her of this ... :)

Yet, I knew how much this daughter of ours would enjoy this experience, but what I also recognized all too familiarly was her fear. She was literally having an anxiety attack of some kind.

I sort of intuitively knew that if I got her talking about it, asking her some questions to talk her through it, that she could possibly work through this. Overcome it if she chose to, in her way. More importantly, I was trying to understand her better. Maybe teach her something in this.

She said, "I can't see the bottom, and I am afraid of heights."{huh? I was thinking ... fear of heights?! Okay...}
 I said, "Megan, I understand. I am right here. I won't let anything happen to you! And just so you know, you can change your mind. It's okay!"

Still a long pause ...

And then my final words that came out of my mouth that gave her the courage & that leap of faith, words that have helped me countless times in my own life were: "Megan, Do it Afraid."

She took a deep breath and jumped! And came up from the water with one big Smile on her face.

Well, after that we couldn't get her or her brothers to stop. I said to Mark something along the lines of "free entertainment is sure nice from time to time, huh?" (well, actually $3 for a day pass... not bad!)

Later we talked about the whole experience, and I shared several things on my Do It Afraid list with them.

One was finally getting on an airplane back in 2008 to San Diego, CA after not being able to for over 20 years. My first experience with such severe turbulence leaving Denver wasn't so pretty and that memory kept me stuck in a place of paralyzing fear for years, unfortunately.

Trust me, everybody along the way (including myself!) tried every which way to convince me and/or talk me out of this fear of mine, but nothing worked. So I sort of gave up the idea of ever traveling anywhere by airplane ever again.

But I came to a point in my Life that I knew it was time to set that one aside ... or face the fear head on is what I like to call it.

I obviously survived~ and a big shout out to my sister, Tracy, who allowed me to cling to her for dear life (I think I may have left some bruises~)

I have since taken several more planes and didn't freak out too badly! But each time I had to Do It Afraid still. Probably always will. {Flying is just not my thing and I don't really see that changing anytime soon!}

I sense the kids took away some good lessons from our little trip away, but what they talk about most is our time at the cliff.

I must say that I agree with them. That sure was some good memory making times, but what I keep closer to my mind & heart is what I think Megan learned about herself through it all. Life lessons she can and will take with her. Learn from. Grow. To help her along the next time.

Lessons like believing in yourself. Having courage even while afraid. Being brave and willing enough to try something new. That it is okay to admit how you are feeling.

But much more importantly I hope what she takes with her much more than the words of Do it Afraid is knowing that she is never alone. In every sense of the word. I hope you do, too.



Megan & Luke
Go Matthew!



Luke looking at getting a good cannonball splash!

Luke
Yeah Megan!

Mark & Megan

Nice job, girl! You did it!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Breoine's Story

I recently had the rare pleasure of "bumping into" some old friends, ones that I hadn't seen in probably 12 years or so. One of them was my childhood friend, who we knew since we were 5, and then we attended the same high school together.

Life had taken us in different directions, as it does, and we simply had lost touch.

It was great "catching up" and reminiscing about the good old days. That sure is fun to do from time to time!

Naturally, my blog came into the conversation and she said she was going to go home & read it ... later she told us that she read the entire thing from start to finish (this info shocked Mark in a big way! ... seriously! until I explained that she's a reader, like me!}, and then he understood. :)

Her question of: Whatever happened to that one boy you helped? plus several e-mails and/or otherwise asking me the exact same thing has sparked this blog post.

But more importantly, it was what happened to me yesterday morning that got my brain (& fingers) into gear!

I was out-and-about earlier than most! :) doing some shopping, and a man in about his mid 30's approached my car just as I pulled into a parking spot and put the car in park. He approached my side window, but instinct had my fingers already rolling up the window and double-checking the lock.

The words I heard were: "I'm wondering if I could have some money to go to get something to eat at McDonalds?!" The image I saw was a man with a broken arm.

That's all I really needed to know.  

If there is something called having a millisecond-type "flashback" then I think I experienced it at that moment.
 
From the day I met Breoine on 12/28/10 until the last time I heard from him back in March ... it all came back ... fast. All of it ... and I knew I had a choice to make, then & there.

To essentially walk it out, is what I like to call it.

Walk out the lessons learned.   

Every single "warning" I had heard from the multiple law enforcement people and/or friends/ family instantly popped into my head, as well as the statements along the way such as, I bet you'll never do that again! to I am so sorry that that happened to you guys to Thank God for answered prayers.

Interestingly enough, we never heard I told you so. (Hmm ... I've often wondered why those 'words' always seem so hard to take?!)

But what I found most interesting was how Mother Teresa's poem called Do Good Anyway sort of took precedence over it all, once again, in my mind and heart ... even after all we had been through.

Yet here I was, in like real life ... blind-sided again! ... needing to decide in a moment what to do for this man.

Or not to do.

Say. Or not to say.

I took a very deep breath ...  and then first things first, I loudly told him to please back away from my car and that he needed to give me a minute.

He politely nodded, took a few steps back, and respected my request.

I gathered my stuff ... pulled myself together {prayed big time!} ... and stepped out.

I handed him some cash and gave him a 'vastly reduced readers digest version' of the advice I gave to our neighborhood boy back on my birthday, and probably something along the same lines of what I had also said to Breoine in my time spent with him.

Despite this man's attempt to engage me in his Story (and you know how I love those!), I just kept on walking {pepper spray in hand, yes indeed!}. I did actually 'catch' how he got himself in his predicament (being robbed at gunpoint recently). However, my body language plus my final words of you take care now shut him down, thankfully.

I knew a long time ago that offering  help & extending kindness to a child is a whole lot different than an adult. An adult male at that. Essentially, me alone (at least it felt this way!) in the parking lot in the early morning hours.

So with this incident happening I knew it was time to "update" my readers on how Breoine's Story ended, at least on our end, as I know how much prayer, encouragement, concern, and support was poured out on our family during that time.

The good news to report is that after his last attempt to reach me, and the words that came out of my mouth {I probably shouldn't write them here :)}, I believe made the "money train" stop once and for all.
{Thanks once again to a neighbor's advice who is on the job lending us a hand!}

What started out as an act of kindness turned into a young boy really believing we were going to adopt him, or at least take him in as a foster kid. Understandably so. But not reality. A mistake on our part.

However, this was just something he simply couldn't understand living in his situation, no matter how many times I tried to explain it to him or apologize that the help he wanted from us needed to stop.

After involving two separate police districts plus child protective services, we had come to find out that none of the eight kids living in that house was registered in any school. There was no Dad anywhere to be found ... not ever. The family had been in desperate "need." That the people I had seen at our house that day in a red car was obviously not Breoine.

In it all, I came to realize that he was telling me the truth, in his way. The only way he knew how. His cry for help. Unfortunately, we came to find out that they really didn't get the "help" they truly needed.

As Life just sometimes goes.

We got reimbursed for the fraud against us, but not by them because after his call in March, we found out that the family had once again been evicted.

So ... untraceable since then.

I had to learn to swallow that information and move on. And we have ... The Show Must Go On.

The lessons learned by my chance meeting with that boy are too many to list here, but I'll share a few!

It gave me the courage to go to The Shooter's Shop and ask someone to show me how to operate and purchase my own firearm. I also asked to be educated in every which way about gun safety and children.
{If you are a girl and want to follow my suit, then this is a great place to start with excellent customer service!, plus Tuesdays you can practice for free~}

If you do happen to go into this store, female or not! any one of the employees there were great & helpful, but do please ask for John, who was the one who took me through the whole process from start to finish. He did it all in a very kind, respectful, and compassionate manner, as I told him my reason for purchasing one in the first place. (I never, ever thought I'd be doing this either! Sure hadn't planned on that one coming!)

John is an ex-marine in his 30's, a married Dad of 2 small children, who was in our war and almost died. Living with some pretty bad injuries. His Story is worth listening to, if you've got some time.

The entire experience gave me a whole different perspective and appreciation about our freedoms in America, as well as a more real understanding of the kind of world we live in.

I hope it taught our kids some great lessons too. I sense that it did.

From time to time, they will ask & talk about Breoine. They talk about what they liked about him, what a nice boy he was. How they don't understand how they could've done that to our family. They talk about their concerns about what is going to happen to him. They remember things like how he had gotten no Christmas presents at all. Not one. And remember how much they had gotten. They remember he had only one set of clothes. And that none of the kids were going to school at all.

We talk about how Doing Good Anyway isn't always easy. In fact, it is a very difficult thing to do sometimes.

We talk about a faithful, loving God, and how we can see His fingerprints all over this one!

We talk about all that we have to be thankful for.

Funny how they liken Breoine to our cat, Buddy. He is the one cat of ours that actually purrs if you just look at him :) His name is "Buddy" for a reason.

So all is good in the Grade household, thankfully, as his Story is now told ... through mine.

I know that we will most likely never hear from any of them again, nor this boy. But the thing I pray for most of all for him in this thing called Life, the one thing I hope he remembers me saying that may actually change the course of his life someday is this: God loves you, Breoine, so so much. Never ever forget that. Not ever.

I do understand all too well how hard and difficult that is to actually believe sometimes, for each one of us, especially when Life knocks you down to your knees, time and time again. Or when nothing makes any sense at all. Or when you've lost something called hope.

But what I have learned in my Life, thus far, is this ...

Believe it.

Because it is so true. It really is!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Bucket List

In recent months, I have been renting and/or aiming to watch more and more "funny" type movies or TV shows because I have learned how healing laughter really is, can be.

You know the ones ... laugh-out-loud until your belly hurts! I've had people in recent weeks, including Mark, give me some excellent recommendations to watch like the hit show called The Office, which we've watched together from time to time.

My sister-in-law, Kristin, highly recommended and borrowed to us Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage.
This Pastor sure gets it! He has gotten me laughing so hard I thought I was going to pee my pants ... not kidding!

Or have you seen The Proposal or Hitch?

Just throwing out some ideas if you are looking for some good summer movies to watch! I have a list of books, too, if you are interested.

Recently, I finally got around to renting from the library a movie called The Bucket List. I remembered laughing at the previews. People recommended it to me. It sure seemed like a funny movie, one that I was after. I was also drawn to its deep underlying themes tucked in there ... lessons to take with me.

Mark & I never did get around to actually sitting down and watching it for whatever reason. I realized later after talking to a friend of mine who really knows me, and who understood what I was really looking to watch, actually recommended I not watch it (I am really glad that I listened!). I watched the trailer and realized how right she was ... that I probably wouldn't have found it "funny" in a way I was hoping for. It has the underlying tone of sadness to it, too, of course. I don't mind the sad, but was looking for more of the funny, if you know what I mean.

So when I found this youtube video that tells the Story, communicates the lessons to us so well, I wanted to pass it along to you. I love how it focuses on the good, even in the midst of some of Life's toughest trials.

Ideas like Friendship. Living in the moment. Enjoying your Life ... each day.

Giving back. Paying it forward. Passing love onto others. Cherishing each moment that is given.

Although I had somehow already learned some of these great lessons awhile ago from my Mom, our daughter, Emily, and my dear friend, Lori.

Whom all died way, way too young, but the gifts & nuggets of truth that I took away from their walk and what their "short" lives taught me ... I find worth sharing with all of you.

I, though, don't want this "idea" of having a Bucket List go unnoticed, as sad as it may appear or seem.

It sure doesn't need to be.

I have one. 

Don't you? Who doesn't? Shouldn't we all?

These are the types of questions that I ponder ... thoughts that swirl around in my head ... ones that get stuck in my heart that I feel I need to share with all of you.

Once again, please hit Pause on my music player before watching this youtube video.



What I love most about this trailer is that we pretty much get the "idea" of what they are trying to say or teach us without any of us really needing to watch the entire film.

In writing this post, I am thinking of our Matthew and his best friend, Alex, whom he's known since he was 5. Even though we had switched schools and then returned to HCS, they still had remained friends throughout. And just sort of "picked up" where they left off.

What they have, what I like to call it is a gift. The word blessed comes to my mind & heart. Thankfulness.

I will share with you a couple things on My Bucket List ... and please feel free to share back. One of them is to go to the Grand Canyon for sure. Because I've been told that that is worth seeing. I do not doubt that for one second. And I will walk on their bridge that has like no bottom! even though I am afraid of heights.

Getting to Hawaii at some point would sure be nice.

However, I'd also love to learn how to ride a motorcycle ... take a photography class ... be able to do some serious pull-ups like some men that I've seen! Do a triathlon. Or a duathlon. Continue my education. Teach.

Or maybe get another tattoo. A family missionary trip to a third world country.

One day at a time.

But you will not catch me skydiving. Just not my thing! But then again, I've been known to change my mind in a flash!

I could go on and on with my list, which can and probably will change as time goes on, but I think we all know that it isn't really in the doing or the getting or achieving that matters at the end of each and every one of our lives.

At least this is what I've learned through it all. 

This is one inspirational quote that I will leave you with that always helps me regroup, as I like to call it ...

"Life isn't about the number of breaths we take, but the moments that take our breath away."
My hope is that you enjoy today! And take it all in.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Forgive thyself

I have been known to talk too much, or too loud. But then again, I've also been told that people feel comfortable around me & talking to me. I've been told that when I say aloud to people that I know I do actually talk loud & fast ... that I really am just coming across as passionate and fun.

I've spent some time processing both angles.

I've learned recently during my "life review" how important it truly is to not worry so much about what other people think, say, or do. It is a hard, hard thing to work on and master.

I am always a work in progress.

I am sure that I not alone in this endeavor.

I've, also, been called an "interviewer", as well as an "interrogator".

I must admit that I know that I've been both, in good & bad ways. I've messed up more times than I like to think about. Foot-in-the-mouth type thing. Or lacking something called a "filter" when communicating to others.

I like to think of myself more along the terms of interested and curious.

So therefore, I tend to ask a lot of questions.

It is just my natural way, the way I was designed and made to function in the world.

I am truly listening and interested. Really!

Words like curiosity, intrigue, compassion, understanding, mercy, and love come to mind as I listen to others tell their Stories to me. I work really hard at not going to a place of judgment with everyone I meet.

But, of course I do at times - as I am only human after all.

I believe that everyone has a Story.

And that every Story is worth telling because I've learned that there are always lessons (some majorly profound!) to be learned from each & every single day of your Life. In every encounter, or event, or person whom who just "randomly" bump into.

The lessons just will never run out.

They are always for everyone present I truly believe. And although going through things can be pure torture while we go through them, it sure seems that in the end, it does all work out for the good of all.

Somehow, in some way.

If you've been following My Story along, as well as Ours, or if you know us on a more personal level, then I think you will know which neighborhood boys I am talking about, which Family.

For privacy reasons & out of my sense of loyalty, I'd prefer not to use any names.

As I've thought through the past few days and watched as this simple Story unfolded, words such as symbolism, metaphors, and analogies all have come to my mind & heart, but at this moment in time, I am not at a really good place of actually appreciating these words that I love so much.

I've learned through and because of my own Life experiences that I will eventually get there, in my own way, in my own timing.

For some of us, it just takes us a little bit longer to get there.

A few days ago, I woke up from a well-needed nap (I am playing "catch up" from Lyme disease messing with my melatonin levels!) to these 3 boys, plus our Luke, taking care of 2 baby birds that they found without their Mom (this is what I was told anyway).

Of course, I instantly knew what that meant, what it really meant; however, I just woke up & was still a little foggy from my nap.

I asked a bunch of questions, of course! Gave the appropriate advice to at least call the Humane Society, among other things.

The oldest boy nodded. I went about my Domestic Engineering chores , and just wasn't paying close enough attention to what was literally going on at my kitchen table.

Understandably so, I know, but still ...

The boys had realized that their new "friends", whom they had named, were very hungry & thirsty.

Naturally, of course.

Right underneath my nose, I essentially allowed them to feed the baby birds little pieces of bologna and water using a turkey baster.

Yes, this is called distraction and trying to multi-task (not very well I might add!) and dealing with other stressors.

As boys are, especially at these ages, all under the sweet age of 12 did was ... as any kid probably naturally would do ... was to sort of "overdo" it a little bit.

But that little mistake was not good by any means.

They, essentially, started giving them drops of water straight into their open, waiting, flapping beaks ... slowly - at first.

Until I heard, "What is wrong with him. I think he's dead?!" did I 'snap to' & go into my immediate, almost all-too-familiar, emergency-survival mode and realized the water had come out way too fast and they were drenched and shivering to death.

Literally.

I knew what the death of these birds could very possibly do to these kids, who were essentially, just redirecting their hurt & anger in a good way onto these poor birds, but was most interesting was how much it was actually paralleling their own lives, almost exactly.

The day prior, these boys' Mom had actually moved out of their home into her own apartment.

Well, my "first aid" training & skills kicked into gear.

Did I tell you that this was the day when it was in the 90's & we had our A/C on full blast?

Got them OUTSIDE fast ... I directed fast ... told 1 to get their nest that they had made, another to get a warm towel, put them close together. (Oh my!)

As anyone would've naturally done, I know.

But more importantly, I told them that they needed to talk to them because the birds recognized their Voices, and not mine. I knew that this would bring them comfort, all of us.

I did what came naturally to me, too, and that was to first pray inside over & over & over, especially when they kept saying, "Please don't die on us, please!"

I also grabbed my camera (to keep myself busy), as I love images to always go along with the Story being told.

Finally, both birds "perked" up from being in their natural environment.

I gave Thanks and moved on, however, I knew all too well, personally, about things like stress and the biology of trauma to know that this Story wasn't going to end well.

They were teeny tiny birds after all.

Plus, I knew that sometimes God does answer our most heartfelt prayers with a No, as soft and gently as it may come.

The boys took them home and got back to playing as kids do.

I went about my day. Life moves on. It just does.

The Show Must Go On, even when we really don't want it to or don't know how that will even look.

It just does. Has to. Will.

This afternoon I was informed by them that the 2nd bird had, also, finally died.

It didn't really surprise or shock me, as this is the exact same thing that happened to Matthew's first real pet of his very own, a bird, although we had Cally our black lab at the time. Unfortunately, Megan, who was 1 thought it would be a good idea to put brother's birdy into one of her barbie's dresser drawers because she figured he'd like it and have some fun! I'm sure his bizarre noises made her finally let him out ... to fly away for capture from us.

The next morning Matthew went into something called shock when he went to greet his friend & his friend wouldn't wake up.

He was 3 years old.

That was his first experience with death. And a funeral & burial.

As Life is and goes, as it always will.

It is called The Circle of Life.

Then years later, Jimmy - our cat - accidentally killed a different bird of ours. {Yeah, I didn't learn my lesson apparently!}

Accidents happen. Mistakes too.

As well as personal failures. Broken promises.

However, although this may not seem like that big of a deal to some, for me, Lori, I just can't help feeling awful about the whole darn thing even happening in the first place, all under my watch.

Especially, and most particularly, when they keep saying its "their" fault their birds died. One said, "I gave him too much bologna." Then the other, "No, it was my fault, not yours!" (Yikes, gulp!)

Yet, no matter how much I tell them where their friends are, or what good caretakers they were, or how it truly is my fault; not theirs, I don't think that this simple truth is sinking in. Not yet anyway.

Grief takes some time. It just does.

They will get there ... I know ... and so will I.

Forgiving oneself for simple mistakes that are made every day. Sometimes day after day after day.

One step forward, two steps back ... some days.

I've learned awhile ago to no longer "apologize" per se for who I am, or how I feel, or how I think to others because I learned that that never got me or anyone else to a good place at the end of the day.

But much more importantly, I no longer apologize to myself for these things about me. I learned this most recently how much this doesn't serve me. It hasn't been easy by any means.

I am still in a place of sadness, feeling sort of "bummed out". I just am a very emotional, sensitive person who wears my heart on my sleeve. I feel much more sad for them, more so than the birds.

For all of what they are going through in their lives ... more than the death of their bird friends.

I would "add" the pictures, but I'd rather not (too much negative energy! :), but instead I'd like this "video", "lyrics", "artist" to help me along in telling the story. I hope you get the deeper meaning behind it all.

Please remember to click the "Pause" button on my playlist before you hit play.

Thank you for reading along and especially for those of you 'out there' I know who have been praying not just for me, but also for this Family, these kids. I am deeply grateful and appreciative.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Our gifts ... In Honor of

As promised from a recent blog post of mine, I have finally sorted through some very weird technical issues on my end so that I am now able to share the images and music that tell Our Story.

What I have learned about myself recently is that although I have a "way with words" and that I best express myself in writing, and even out loud, that there are many times when I don't really know what I mean so I don't know what to say.

Or I feel liked I've attempted to explain myself in every which way I can, but I still often feel misunderstood.

That is where "images" and "music" and "lyrics" and "inspirational people" and other people's words in blog format come into play. Sort of to help me along in my journey through Life.

I am so very thankful for these gifts. That is what I like to call them, in any case.

Tomorrow marks the ten year birth & death of our daughter, Emily Rose Grade, who never took one breath here on earth. She was "due" July 9th. No cause of death was ever found. We never got an answer to our question of Why?

I've come to realize in the past year that I  don't even need or want an "answer" anymore. 

And although her life was very, very "short," she also has a Story worth telling. 

Please click here to read this beautiful tribute to our baby written from the loving, compassionate, thoughtful heart of a friend.

And then also please click here to read what another Mom has learned through her own loss and suffering, but has so graciously been able to put into words much better than I ever could have; what it is I've been trying to say all of this time. 

I, essentially, am the only one who really got to know Emily, as it was my body that God used as a vessel to bring forth her Life and Death.

What I find most interesting is just how many lessons I learned from her, in her "short" life, in her life in my womb.

A life that never lived one day on this earth. A life that never breathed one breath of air.

But the impact of a life that has changed the course of the next generation leaves me in a place of awe.

Emily's life taught me irreplaceable, life lessons that have shaped me, her Mother, into who I am today.

Who I know I wouldn't be if never got to know her like I did.

The lessons that continue to grow me and teach me into who I am meant to be, strive to be.

The biggest, most important lesson of all, though, is something I know is very important to share with all of you ~ one we all so easily take for granted and miss. The moments just fly on by, sometimes without us even noticing.

Please take with you from me this important nugget of truth that I have learned. I hope you tuck it close to your heart and remember.

Every single moment of Your Life matters.

It really, really does.

But more importantly, it is learning how not to take any one of those moments for granted.

Or waste them.

Nor one day. Nor one person in your Life. Nor one opportunity to make a difference in the world. Nor one moment to make a wrong into a right.

Don't put off until tomorrow what needs to be done today.

Don't put off until tomorrow telling those you love them that you do.

Don't put off until tomorrow forgiving those whom you need to forgive.

Don't put off until tomorrow living & enjoying your life ... the gift that it is to the world.

For the past nine years every time I see the red, white, & blue colors and seeing Our Flag flying high, I would always feel that old familiar "sting" to my wounded, scarred heart although at the same time I understood the meaning of it all - my freedoms and my thankfulness very present within.

But the reality of it all is that it has also been a reminder to me of what was lost.

Not just a child. Not just a sibling for our children. But the dream.

So this year as that "date" comes again, as it always will ... Tomorrow! ~ July 4th Independence Day ~ I learned and realized that the "energy did change" to this good place of Honoring Her ... Emily Rose.

Her Life. Her Story.

All told through mine ... Ours.

Her Day - the day she met Jesus. The day she went to her eternal Home was and is a day worth Celebrating!

And I just can't help feeling something called Joy this year, instead of only sadness and gut-wrenching pain because I fully know & accept that there will always be hurt, but I am at this place of something called bittersweet when I think of our baby.

But this year, I am feeling so much more of the sweet {Thanks Oprah!}

And that is a really good thing.

It is called faith. The real kind. The kind that truly knows & believes that all is truly well and good, without any doubt and without the need to ask any more questions.

What better time than now, as this decade comes to a close for us, as we move onto the next Season of our Lives, but especially for me, Lori, to finally! be at this really good place of looking at The Flag and The Colors ... all of these signs and reminders and wonders from God ... and Smile! big inside and out because they also, much more importantly, remind me of something much much grander and oh-so-good ~

That is something called Love.

God's Love for me

With humble gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation for the gift I was given ... Emily's life ... my time spent with her, and for the good that God brought out of it all, I will not be looking down anymore, but rather I will be looking Up! and lifting my hands even higher to the One who deserves all the Honor and Glory and Praise.

Thank you, as always, for reading my blog and for always passing along the love, support, prayer, encouragement, friendship and kindness to me, Mark, our family, especially at this time of year.

My hope is that in reading my blog, listening to the music and viewing the pictures that you also will take away some lessons all taught through a beautiful, precious, perfect little dark brown haired girl named Emily Rose. She came very softly and quietly into our lives, and left us in the same way. She left something behind called a Legacy that will always live on through us.

Thank you for remembering our Emily each year amongst your July 4th holiday plans ~ dear friends and family ~ because we do know that you haven't forgotten. That she still is and always will be remembered and honored by so many of you.

To watch and enjoy this video sung by Selah called I Will Carry You, please hit "pause" of my music player first.

{I dedicate this one to you, Emily Rose Grade, dear Daughter of ours in Heaven,
In Honor of You. Your Story. Your Life. 
~Thank you~
Love always; until we meet again, your Momma}



Our niece, Elizabeth Aurelia Edwards

Mark's promotion to Fire Captain


Luke & Grandpa John
St. John's Military Academy

Megan & I at her cheerleading competition

Jimmy ... my curious blue-eyed boy ... always into mischief


Matthew & I ~ 8th Grade graduation

Jonathan & Luke ... cousins & friends


Daisy May just after she was at the groomers, looking pretty darn happy!
Family
Love & Friendship

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer is here & so are the ticks

I think that if you've been following my Story along through my blog or otherwise that you've realized I am very passionate about the subject of Lyme disease. Most importantly, I am all about prevention. This disease is a serious problem and it isn't just a "small" one confined to a select few states in the Midwest. It is essentially everywhere, all over the world. It is an epidemic in the United States and thought to be the fastest growing infectious disease in this country. It is also one of the most complicated diseases to diagnose, test, and treat. Thousands of cases are improperly diagnosed or missed altogether.

After a recent dentist visit and the questions that arose about my medical history and Lyme disease, I realized that it was time for me to write about a very important topic to me. The safe removal of a tick and early detection.

Because that is where it all begins really.

With summer finally arriving!!, so have the deer ticks, unfortunately. They are what transmit to humans and animals the spirochetal bacteria infection of Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdoferi, when they bite & burrow their head into our skin. Plus, there are over three hundred species of borrelia that are known to exist worldwide. If you have Lyme disease, you also have to contend with coinfections.

They are now finding out that flees, mosquitoes, and mites also carry the infection.

It is a blood-borne infection that is transmitted like any other one, including ones like HIV and Hepatitis. That means it is sexually transmitted, as well as passed along through pregnancy and breastfeeding. They don't filter through donated blood at Blood Centers for Lyme disease before it is transfused.

Our kids have a 50% chance of having it.




Most ticks don't carry diseases, and most bites don't cause serious health problems, but it is important to be knowledgeable and aware of how to remove a tick as soon as you find it to help you avoid contacting Lyme disease in the first place.

It is much more easily treatable if it is caught early. I cannot stress this enough. I had it for so many years before I got properly diagnosed that it has become chronic for me. Incurable, essentially. It has created such havoc on my body that I, also, have three autoimmune diseases that have come along with it.

There are many "ideas" about the best way to remove a tick, one of the most common tricks being to light it up with a match! (I understand ~... trust me! ... you are thinking: "Burn that sucker!" right? They are pretty creepy!) However, even being married to a Firefighter for the past 16 years, I would strongly suggest NOT using this method. The truth is, this can and probably will only increase your chance for infection because you could end up releasing the icky fluid right into your body! Exactly what you do not want to do.

Same goes for "smothering" the tick with petroleum jelly, nail polish, rubbing alcohol or the like.

When you return home from areas where ticks might live, carefully examine your skin and scalp for ticks. Check your pet & kids, too, especially babies. Be diligent about looking at hard to reach places where one wouldn't commonly notice a bite. Ticks can be so small that it is even hard to see them. In fact, they can be as small as the size of a sesame seed! This makes it very hard to tell if you even removed its head or not.

So here is my list of "steps" of removing a tick:
  1. Use a fine pointed tweezers and grab the tick's head firmly as close to the skin as possible where the bite is. Remember to wear latex gloves when doing this. Don't grab it around its body. If you don't have a tweezers, then put on gloves or cover your hands with tissue paper, then use your fingers. Do not handle the tick with bare hands ever.
  2. Gently pull the tick straight out until its mouth lets go of your skin. Do not twist or "unscrew" the tick. This may separate the tick's head from its body and leave parts of its mouth in your skin.
  3. It is critical to NOT squeeze the tick body at any time -- this can inject more potential pathogens into you.
  4. Look at the tick in your tweezers to ensure all feet, body and head are in place. 
  5. Cleanse the skin with mild soap and water.You can then apply antibiotic ointment if you wish.
  6. Put the tick in a jar of alcohol or a ziplock bag for later identification if necessary.
After you've done all of this, the more important thing to pay extremely close attention to is how you are feeling physically in the next few weeks because the early "symptoms" of Lyme disease can be mild and easily overlooked. The high majority of people don't even remember the famous "bull's-eye rash" or even getting bit! (yes, that's me!)

Symptoms of infection may include:
  • Pain, swelling, redness, or warmth around the area.
  • Red streaks leading from the area.
  • Pus draining from the area.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin.
  • Fever or chills.
If you have a rash, headache, joint pain, fever, or flu-like symptoms, this could mean you have an something going on related to a tick bite. If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor.

The usual treatment is a round of antibiotics initially for a few weeks. Unfortunately, most times the antibiotic isn't used long enough, or it isn't the right one. Or like for me, they didn't help at all.

The bacteria can go dormant, traveling from your blood to your organs and tissues. Not good.

If you or someone you know experiences a tick bite, I would be happy to pass along some recommendations I have of health care practitioners that I feel are knowledgeable and well-trained in diagnosing, testing & treating Lyme disease. It is a very complicated and complex disease, even for practitioners.

I hope this information only helps you have a fun and safe summer, and doesn't scare you to death of ticks, mosquitoes, and creepy-crawly things or even Lyme disease! :)

P.S: {added 7/10/11} Please click here to read an article that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had in their paper, which I found very interesting and helpful to pass along my readers, especially if you live in Wisconsin!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

His gifts

I have been a little "late" with my blog posts (which is really a good thing for me!) but this one, although late, is dedicated to all of the Fathers out there who I personally know and appreciate and am thankful to have in my Life. Here is a shout out to you for a job well done! For doing the very best you can.

Better late than never right?

I,  recently, have had the rare pleasure of having some really good heart-to-heart conversations with more than a few of human being "male" persons, instead of my usual females in all "communication" forms.

I must say, it has been quite interesting, intriguing, and fun!

At one point last week, I was actually the only female standing out in our backyard among 8 males. I decided to have a seat and just observe. It was quite interesting I must tell you!

The many laugh out loud belly laughs I had were good. Really, really good for me.

I've chatted with males from all walks of Life ... kids in the neighborhood ... peers of my children ... my own sons ... family members ... a widower ... single guys and divorced ... dating ... looking to date ... single Fathers ... those married with children and those without ... and of course, to my very own husband, Mark.
{I sure have been quite busy huh? Actually, I've been doing a lot more listening than anything else ... REALLY! ... no writing~}

I even got to sit down for a few hours with a married Father who was beyond ready to leave his Wife and wanted my advice. {yikes ... what to say? gulp~}

I sort of knew that all he really wanted me to do was just listen. I realized he wasn't really asking me what he should do, per se, but rather I think he just wanted someone to understand what he was going through. To know that he wasn't alone in the world. To know that there is such a thing as Hope.

After all, he was in the deepest, darkest valley of his Life sitting there at our back patio table.

And looking for answers to some of life's hardest questions.

Mark was there, too, plus all of the kids flying around here & there. He, also, was doing pretty much the same thing as I. Nodding. Asking a few questions from time to time.

Listening. Just being there. Present.  

I have been pleasantly surprised at how much  "information" that I have been able to gather by just being still.

There is so much that I did not know!, or quite "get", and I have 3 right underneath my nose! {Well, if counting the animals then we have a total of 5!} I've even "observed" their behavior. So strange ... the "same" thing happens between my cats ~ all this "wrestling" going on all of the time in every room of our house. Huh?!

And it always leads to some very strange, bizarre noises! From males and cats alike. Essentially, a fight. Always.

But, apparently, I learned this is how males show affection?! Yah, I don't quite "get" that one really ~ ;)

Plus, I grew up with a Dad and a younger brother that I learned so much from.

Mark & I had been doing a type of "study" together in recent months. He was reading "For Men Only" and I was reading "For Women Only" by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn .... just to sort of help us understand each other better to move onto the next Season of our Lives.

A few weeks back in my cleaning and organizing, I came across his book laying around and decided to read it, just for curiosity sake. 

I figured that maybe I would learn something about myself. More about him.

Us.

And I sure did. But more importantly, I learned that we really have more similarities than differences, in the big scheme of things.

I learned that that book "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" only holds so much weight.

I just always assumed that men lived on a different "planet" than I. I'm sure for a fact that Mark has thought the same thing about me! Probably more so! I honestly believe males do go to a different planet sometimes (they are called caves or dens or whatever), but I learned that going to their planet isn't such a bad thing after all. 

Necessary. Critical. Needed.

They are just "wired" differently ... designed by a perfect God. With a perfect plan. A perfect Design.

What I do know for sure is that after reading the two books and processing all of my time spent with various males, is that they, also, just want what everybody wants.

To feel loved. Known and loved anyway.

The best thing of all, though, is to believe in it whole-heartedly. Without a doubt. None.

That's called Trust. The real kind.

I say Yes! to that.

Of course, I needed to add the "visuals" to complete the story. Without them, the pictures taken and the music, the Story just doesn't feel complete.

However, due to "technical" issues {always and of course! and NOT my fault!}, I am unable to share any of those with you just yet. So, please stay tuned!

All in due time.

What I will share with you now in closing is that what I see from behind the camera is one very happy guy! ... and kids! ... but what he doesn't see (I don't think?!) and quite realize is just how happy the girl is, also, ... his Wife ... who is takin' the picture of all of them because of the gift she got first.

Love.

Don't you just love that word? I sure do!

Simple & sweet.

God is good and faithful ... all of the time.
{You'll just have to trust me on that one ok? ;)}

I hope you made some really good Father's Day memories, ones that you will keep close to your heart for always.

I know I did.

Thank you, first and foremost, to my Dad for a better than job well done. And for all of the advice, spoken or not, inadvertently passed onto me or through someone else ... I was always watching, listening and learning. :) Still am. Probably always will. There is just this "thing" about girls and their Dad's. :)

Probably all females. We really, truly, do remember (& keep track of) everything!! Some, like me, actually write it all down.

And, then, of course, to the Father of my own children, Mark ... my Husband.

Thank you~ - those two simple words - for all that you've done for me, us, our family just don't seem quite adequate enough for all that needs to be said.

Some things are better felt with the heart.

And yes! all of it leaves me quite speechless. And that's a good thing!
{But, only sometimes! ... I can't stay quiet for long!} ;)

Thank you for reading my blog and for following Our Story.

I hope you "stay tuned." :)

Because, by now I think you can all agree with us~ ... that there is never a dull moment at the Grade's!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The best birthday ever!

Yesterday at 4:05 p.m. I, Lori Ann Edwards Grade, turned 39 years old! I had always thought I was born around "noonish" until I pulled out my very, very detailed baby book that my Mom so graciously filled out for each one of her children. Wow! What a gift, a treasure!

Priceless.

I guess in having my own babies & focusing on filling out their baby books and scrapbooking every single picture of their lives, I had forgotten about me. About what time I was born. Or what I even weighed. {4 lbs. 14 oz. for those curious minds like mine!}

So easy for us Wives and Mothers out there to do. So, so easy.

Everybody really.

I have been in the middle of what I like to call a "life review." A very, very good thing I might add, and I would suggest highly as a healing "tool." Learned this after reading Jane Fonda's book called My Life So Far.

Doing it especially around or near your birthday is quite healing.

Thankfully, luckily, I wrote down every single thought, feeling, event ... everything! in my Life from the time I was age 15 up until the present moment, literally. {I guess I got this from my mom after all~}

In my cleaning out of closets and "nesting", I came across all of my past journals. I decided to put them in chronological order and then decided to just sit down and read them ... all 40 of them. Just for fun, "old times sake." To fill up my 'midnight wanderings'.

I never quite realized how much writing was and is therapy for me. Words. Spoken and written.

My way of communicating the best way for me. My love language.

Without it, this 'form' of communication of mine, to and from others ... I don't think I would've made it to my 39th birthday.

Seriously. Honestly. Literally.

Yet, I also read through everyone else's notes, cards, poetry & journals in return to me.

It sure was a lot to process, I must tell you.

But oh-so-necessary and the perfect timing. As it always is.

I could, then, begin to see & feel it from a different perspective. Of course, not my own anymore. I had just read through 40 journals of mine and had already done that. I 'got' me. I was trying to understand others and the way the "pieces" all fit together.

Of my Life.

So after a very fun-filled, laugh out loud morning with just Meggie & I {we got our toes 'painted' and shopped and talked}, plus a nap! and a nice family dinner ... singing, cheesecake ... flowers {of course!} plus! ... all of the gifts/cards/facebook messages/well wishes of all kinds~ Thank you for remembering me on my day!

After all, everyone likes to be remembered. Especially on their birthday, in some form or another.

Nothing ever goes unnoticed by me. Never. Trust me~ ;) And yes! I do write it all down.

But, before I left for my "Friends Only" night out to the Safe House {Secret ... shhh! I cannot tell anyone who I met up with ~ The Story ~ not yet, anyways -- I sense another blog post stirring & pics coming too~}, I think I "got" the best birthday gift of them all before I even got to my car door!

All out of the mouth, His question of Why?, of a 12-year old neighbor boy whose Life is in the darkest of valleys. He is in the worst pit of his Life right now. And he had no one else to talk to, but me.

I, literally, had my arms overloaded (like all of the time!) with stuff about to drop, trying to get open the gate, hold my keys ... blah, blah, blah :) and there he was.

I don't believe in anything anymore as just being a coincidence.

Nope. No such thing. Nor luck, either.

I needed to get to my "party" and was running late (oh no! internal panic for Lori!), but I decided to give this boy a moment of my time. Just a moment. That's all it took, really.

And, funny how Life works, how it always seems to come back around full circle.

The advice I gave him is the advice I needed to hear myself by the end of my day ... My Birthday ... and I am sure at the end of his, as well. I hope I answered his question. I did it in the best way I knew how. I sense that I did.

I hope he slept as peacefully as I did last night, finally.

What I learned in my Life is that the best birthday gifts of all sometimes aren't always in the things, or gifts, or time spent with people even.

But in the lessons learned & taught. Those are the best gifts, I must say.

The lessons are the gifts.

And gifts are meant to be shared with others. Always. Passed on. To help others along in their journey.

To be learned from. In order to grow. Evolve. In order to close Chapters of our lives. Move on. Forward. To what Good is coming next.

The "advice" (couldn't help it~ ... went into 'Teacher mode') I gave this young boy, really a "kid" just trying to find his way in Life, just like all of us ... after his question of: Mrs.Grade, but how do I believe in a God who I feel is doing all of this to punish me; to get back at me? was one I knew I needed to hear then myself, and later again, and will have to probably remind myself of up until the day I take my final breath is this:

No, no, no honey!!! ... You have to stop believing all of those lies in your head. God is NOT doing this to you. God loves YOU so, so, so much that He is right there next to you all of the time. Your very best friend in the best of times and the worst of times. Just talk to Him because He, particularly, loves to hear & answer the prayers of His children! He is always listening even when others aren't. God is good. You just have to trust me on that one ok? Because I've, also, walked a very, very similar road to you, almost exactly like you, and I understand. I really, really do. You are not alone. Never forget that. Never.

He nodded his head, his beautiful blue eyes {Ray Liota in the making ;) girls watch out!} connected with mine, off he went on his scooter, off I went to my final birthday "surprise."

To my gifts.

Everyone likes to be ... needs to be ~ heard, seen, and known.

All is well, as it always is, as it always has been, as it always will be.

A very good birthday indeed! ;)

Probably my Best.

I must say a very good way to start my next year, my next Chapter, my next Season of Life, wouldn't you say?

My next Journal.

Maybe I'll go out and buy myself a brand new one and pretty pen~ TODAY! with some of that birthday money I got in the mail! {Thanks Dad!} But first, I will put on my new t-shirt that says Life is good on it & then fill up my Life is good coffee mug all covered in pink hearts with some good stuff! {Thanks Deb!} and head out.

But first, before I go ... I definitely will stop and smell my roses. And give thanks.

And I think I will definitely start my next journal off with the advice that I gave & got back in return to that sweet child ... write it down ... (and probably every one from now on) , as a "reminder" to me to never forget the gift I was given in return on my 39th Birthday ... that flew right out of my own mouth! Ha!

Priceless. Ironic, in a "funny" way. A good way ;)

I will share another lesson with you, in closing, that I learned & believed in a long, long time ago that I truly believe in still to this day . Whole-heartedly. I hope it "gets you thinking" & "processing" ~

"There are 3 things that are never meant to be broken: hearts, toys & promises."

That is just the simple Truth of it all; I love the simple things.

Thank you!, my Readers, my Friends~ for reading my blog first off! but then, also, for your Love & Friendship that you showed me on My day. Thank you for using 1 of your spoons on me.

I am so grateful. Blessed.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The dentist is a good guy ... really!

** Technical 'info' and update: you will now need to manually "click" on the Play button of my music playlist in order for the song to start playing. They have eliminated the option for us bloggers to choose the setting **

Just recently I got into a conversation with my "new" dentist about Lyme disease. {Stay tuned for another post about that conversation~}. I became quite friendly with him and his assistant as they've seen me & have gotten to know me more personally over the past several months.

We were all about repairing what was damaged, on all levels.

I just completed some long standing 'unfinished' teeth business that I needed to finally take care of, once and for all. I just kept putting it off for a better time, a better place ... waiting for the right time.

Until Mark finally gave me the answer I needed to hear to move forward, that wise advice of Just get it over with Lori! did I finally put myself in motion.

Intuitively I knew it needed to get done & finished in order for me to get me over my last health "hurdle",  if you will.

In it all, through it all, I learned how intricately connected our teeth are with our overall health in general - in a big, big way. Sort of like puzzle pieces guiding us to answers about ourselves.

In my years of battling so many various "diseases", but ultimately Lyme disease in the end, I have seen many, many doctors - of all kinds, of all titles, of all specialties.
{Stay tuned for a future posting on that topic}

While going through that whole process, I was also visiting many, many dentists at the same time as well.

Same thing ... all kinds, types, and specialists.

Unfortunately, many that were not so good.

Many who scared the living daylights out of me! Ones who disrespected me in the worst possible way, in the worst possible manner. Ones who made me never, ever want to return to a dentist chair again.

After all, how can you speak up for yourself when you are literally rendered speechless? Particularly when you are a child? Even as an adult?

But, of course! there were some along the way that really made the whole process go so, so much easier for me.

My dental history is also a long tale to tell, unfortunately, but I believe it is worth telling.

I think I've had it all done (well, probably not literally!)... it started when my front tooth got accidentally knocked out (chipped actually) when I was 7 years old. It fell right into the palm of my hand. At the time I thought that was a good thing, as if I saved it and the dentist could easily just glue it back on. Yah~ ... it doesn't work that way, I learned.

That led to multiple root canals, crowns - on & off again, 4 years of braces, "head gear & retainers"{I'm sorry but that was just awful, especially wearing it to grade school!} ... and along with it all also came the name calling from my peers.

And we all know that there really is no truth in that saying "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

Words do hurt and stick and damage. They just do.

I had a lot of "damage" to get fixed. Still do.

I sucked my thumb up until the 4th grade after all. That definitely didn't help things along. My parents (and grandparents) literally "tried" everything in their human power to get me to stop. I still can remember the smells and tastes of all of those weird topical things.

The truth is ... I also was trying everything in my own power to stop, too.

Nothing worked.

I just couldn't stop. It helped me fall asleep and get back to sleep.

I was only able to finally stop because I was forced to. The orthodontist literally put this thing in the roof of my mouth so my thumb wouldn't fit all the way in!

Well, it worked! I am not secretly sucking my thumb now as an adult woman! :) {Really!}

So majorly "buck teeth" and jaw misalignment not allowing me to chew properly finally came to a head when I was in the 4th grade and all the repair work started, even though it had essentially already began 2 years prior.

And then thankfully, it got finished in a good, good way.

But then as an adult, I found myself again having to face the dentist when at age 18 I got my very first cavities, unbeknownst to me. Interestingly enough. No big deal ... just fill them.

Fast forward to all of my 20's, most of my 30's, and the stresses of my life finally taking its toll on me, plus the various chronic infections raging in my body ... finally, my "2" cavity filled molars simply gave out; gave up. Quit.

Sort of like me.

That led to more root canals, more dental visits, more money thrown in the garbage. All to no success.

Extraction was the only option - for both teeth - 6 months apart from each other.

Yes. More stress on top of an already overloaded stressed out person! More trauma piled on top of already existing traumas.
 
I've learned that our first early experiences as children with dentists does make a huge impact on us, sometimes for the rest of our lives. Keeping some from ever going back to any dentist.

And I've learned that that is not a good thing. I've learned that that can also be overcome.

All of it.

I also learned that there are dentists out there who really truly do care. Who really do practice good patient care. Who really honor and respect their patients voices, no matter what age.

I have learned that the best ones aren't always the ones with the fancy "titles" or "years of experience under their belt", or "age" or "maturity" or whatever.

Through it all ... the pain and office visits and time & energy wasted ... I am so thankful.

I am thankful that my parents understood the importance of nice looking teeth & a pretty smile; they were willing to sacrifice of themselves so I could have that.

I am thankful for the lessons learned. The ones I needed to learn.

That is why I have been so diligent about taking care of my own teeth and teaching my kids the importance of good dental hygiene. The point is to not go back to the dentist, right?
{It's really not anything personal! :)}

Of course, when I find a "good" one, I am very happily and readily wanting to pass that information onto my readers.

Because in this day and age with all of us experiencing poor customer or patient service on some level, I like to pass along the good customer service when I come across it.

I purposely waited to get my final 2 bridges done until I could find the right place, the right dentist and the right assistant. {Can you tell that I am a very thorough researcher? :)}

I do only have a limited amount of spoons.

I wasn't going to settle anymore for anything less.

The thing is, though, I wasn't really too concerned about actually getting the work done itself. That wasn't the hard part for me anymore.

No, what they did for me was help me get over my paralyzing fear of getting back in that dentist chair again.

And they did it all with kindness, compassion, patience, and exemplary patient care.

As I am all about passing along my helpful healing "tools" from my toolbox to you my readers, I know that I've found a good "resource" for you if you are looking for a new dentist for yourself or your family. But especially if you or someone you know is simply petrified about going to the dentist, like I was and have been up until just a few months ago!

It is a good place to start anyway.

I also have a separate list of some other "good" ones out there, and also the ones to watch out for :) Contact me if you'd also like that list.

I told Dr.Tanty and his assistant, Denise, from Forward Dental that I'd be more than happy to be their "free" advertisement sign. I also got to work with his brother, who is also a dentist, in 2010 ... interestingly enough, but at a different location.

I, also, only have great things to say about him as well.

As I got to know my other "team members" on a more personal level {Yes ... I still can get my questions out with my mouth in that state! Ha!}, I learned that something called good ole' laughter and lightheartedness about the simple, silly things of Life are also very important &  necessary "tools" in healing from tooth issues.

Every issue. 

As I also now understand on a whole new level the other side of dental problems, that being - the financial side - the simple reality of high cost dental care being unaffordable to most people is sad for me.

I also am reminded now of how I should never, ever take for granted the dental insurance we are offered through Mark's employer.

The quality and health of our teeth is important. It just is.

Good insurance definitely will help things along, but only so much. And sometimes it is barely even worth getting it in the first place. I also have additional "resources" and "ideas" in that regard as well if you need further information.

In the big scheme of things, though, aren't we all after the same thing?

A beautiful Smile?

A happy, contented, peaceful, whole, complete ... fully loved heart behind that smile?

I've learned in my life, through my experiences that sometimes the way the person's teeth look from the outside really doesn't tell us much about a person anyway.

It is what is on the inside that matters.

And how and in what means that is shared with others is what matters.

Lending a hand, lending a smile, sharing love.

I like to call that Walking in Love.

I would like to leave you all with this small, but oh-so-profound 'nugget of Truth' that I learned from someone very special to my heart for her service and good to me. A life changing truth. I hope it is for you, too. I am thankful for this person's willingness to love me enough to speak this Truth to me so I could finally jump over my last hurdle {I hope you know who you are!}:

Here goes: Your body always knows the truth. The answer is inside of you. Just trust the answer you are given. "The body always knows."