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

Monday, May 30, 2011


Because I am a regular fan of the hit television show called Army Wives, I have a whole new appreciation & understanding for this holiday and what it truly signifies for me.

I am thankful for this day ... Memorial Day ... for several reasons.

I love this day because it is a "kick off" to summer and there is a lot of excitement and fun in the air. We, in the Midwest, are desperate for sun and warmth :) The weather has gotten better (a bit 'odd' I might add!), the flowers have popped out of the earth, our neighbors are starting to come out of their winter hibernation ... we are pulling weeds and dropping mulch in the flower beds and getting our summer yard ready for the kids we know are coming~

Yet, this day also brings feelings of sadness for me along with the good.

Army Wives has done a very nice job of blending important issues involved with military families. There is this nice mixture of family, friendship, love, morals, American pride, but then also, the tough issues like death, loss, grief, and PTSD are also bravely addressed.

The real issues facing our military and their families.

The issues that I like to ignore or push aside for another day. The hard stuff of life. The reality of our war. It is why I tend to turn off the radio or news when I hear that yet another one of our soldiers has paid the ultimate price.

I turn away because I don't want to feel sad ... because it is sad. But then our Flag reminds me that I have the right to stand proud.

Unfortunately, I've learned how easily it is for me to take what I have and what I've been given for granted.

With all of my mixed emotions of sadness yet 'fun in the air' feelings, I also feel a whole lot of pride. A good pride.

The pride of being able to say I live in America and I am free.

After all, my dad served in the Navy. Mark served in the Army; he was stationed in Germany. We do have 2 boys who have like this gun 'obsession' and as their mom, my mind & heart do go to that place of What if? when I think of their future choices.

We, also, have dear friends who currently serve and sacrifice and give for our country in some fashion or another. We know of families where this day brings only sadness.

I choose to pause now a moment longer when I see the American flag flying -- the Red, White, & Blue colors -- and I stop to remember what I have and what I've been given and what others gave for me ... for all of us.

What our soldiers sacrifice every single day to keep our freedoms in place. 

War or not.

I pause to Remember

I pause to give Thanks.

I pause to give Honor where it is due. 

For me ... my rights ... my freedoms. 

And, honestly, I have taken it all for granted. 

I have "skipped" voting day because I didn't 'feel' like it or figured I didn't know enough to make the best choice anyway. I figured one vote -- my vote -- didn't matter. Recent elections have taught me that one vote really does matter ... my right to vote.

I have the "right" to go to any single church I want, when I want, and openly speak about what I believe - without fear for my life.

I don't have to "hide" to worship and praise my God or even hide my bible from view ... my freedom of religion.

I had the "right" to start this blog and I have the "right" to continue it and write about anything my heart desires ... my freedom of speech.

I had the "right" to walk into any gun shop of my choosing a few months back; simply fill out a few forms; hand over my driver's license; learn how to use & operate my new firearm. And within 48 hours I was another proud gun owner in America ... my right to keep and bear arms. 

Hmm ... my mind shifts to other countries - to those much, much less fortunate than I. I think about what people are willing to do to get what I have ... my rights ... my freedoms ... the gift of my tomorrows.

The gift of just being able to live in America. To just be standing in the space I stand in.

What was sacrificed for me.

Today, on this Memorial Day, I choose to stand in a place of thankfulness and gratitude.

I will end on this note: Because I am a 'visual learner' and I love 'word pictures,' I just had to copy/paste this e-mail that you see below because pictures really do speak a thousand words. 

My wish for you Today is that you also take it all in ... the fun and sun and cookouts and parades and family time ... and Enjoy! but also to give pause like I am and remember.

To give Honor and Thanks to whom it is due.
Happy Memorial Day!





It is the
not the preacher,
who has given us freedom of religion.
It is
not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.
It is
not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.
It is
not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to assemble.

It is
not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial. 

It is
not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the
salutes the Flag.
It is

who serves
under the Flag.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Who inspires you?

In the spirit of getting more 'comment flow' in that section of my blog, I'm throwing out a question to you, my readers, in the hopes that you will respond! 

So, to encourage some feedback from all of you (I'm getting a little lonely on my end~), I would like to know:

Who inspires you?

Come on~ don't be shy! Just list whomever INSPIRES you in some fashion or another ... someone who just makes your heart feel Happy inside when you think of them or their Life or their Story encourages or uplifts you in some way. Maybe it is someone who you really feel has contributed something good to the world in some way.
(Oh!~, and fyi, you can post at the bottom 'anonymously' if you so wish, but it'll still be fun for me and others to see your name in black & white)

Well, since this is my blog, I guess I'll go first ... :)


I really have quite a long list of names of people who Inspire me ... if I had to start listing them, I am sure it would reach the thousands upon thousands.

Who & what comes instantly to my mind and heart is our Luke who participated in the 2nd Grade Living Wax Museum recently, and he chose to be Reggie White.
(Yah, I agree Luke~ ... he had a Story worth telling and you did a fine job of doing that!)

So, in answer to my own question of Who inspires me?, I will start with my Number One, and that being Jesus Christ, because for me, personally, He and His Life and His Story tops the cake as far as Who inspires me the most in my Life.

Secondly, in the spirit of Oprah Winfrey's 25 year 'retirement' next week from her television show, I will list her as someone who Inspires me in a big way ... the Story of her Life.

And so ~ in Honor and Thanksgiving of Her and the Love she has brought & shared with the whole world, but particularly to me, in some fashion or another (I actually went to Chicago to her show in 1998 ~ all thanks to Mark for finally getting me those tickets!!), I would like to speak of what she has taught me personally over the years, as I essentially grew up with her.

I was, after all, only 12 years old when I started watching her show and learning from her about Life.

All the lessons that I learned from either watching her over the years unfold her Story or by listening to someone she had on her show or a book or author she recommended ... on and on I could go.

Her gifts to me, personally, have simply been priceless and too many to list here. And, the great thing is, I know many, many people feel the same as I do.

Oprah just simply Inspires me ... the person that she is and the person she has so graciously and openly shared with the whole world.

Her Story. Her Life. All of it inspires me.

Her Story of coming up and out of a broken home; to surviving the sexual abuse of a relative; to losing her own baby at the tender age of 14; to fighting food addiction, weight issues, health problems, lawsuits ...

What I most love about her, though, is her willingness to just be herself with others and to not be afraid to be real. She is so willing to show people her heart. She is so willing to be open and honest and vulnerable and transparent with people. She is teachable. She just lays her heart right out there for the whole world to see. And yes ~ I've watched people trample all over it throughout the years and have also watched her endure the criticism and heartache, yet she just kept pushing forward and pressing on through it all with grace and dignity.

I like to call that perseverance.

We've seen her cry with people, laugh loud and big when people are overcome by joy and happiness in their own lives (and this is mostly due to her own generosity & thoughtfulness). We've watched her grace people with many, many gifts of material items and much more. She loves to give back. Pay it forward.


It is these kind of people that Inspire me.

I would love to share this you tube video with you that was sent to me in an e-mail from a friend. This person, Carrie Underwood --  well ... let me just say that she, too, also inspires me in a big, big way ... Her Story.

This recording is definitely something worth watching is all I got to say!

To enjoy the full video and music, you will need to hit the "Pause" button on my music player at the bottom of the page, first -- and then hit the "Play" button on the video.
{And for an extra special bonus ;) I am giving you some additional 'hints' of others to add to the list of inspirational people ... like who is also in the video with her, plus the lady that he is married to and even the audience members who give her a standing ovation!}


Now, if you follow the famous television show called American Idol like I have, then I think you will also agree with me that Carrie ... this simple farm girl from Oklahoma! ... is simply inspirational, too.

And for 'dedication' sake in my blog-posting-style of mine, I would like to dedicate this one to someone much more dear to my heart than Oprah or Carrie or Vince or Amy, and that being my very own husband, Mark, because today he turns 41! And, quite honestly, I feel pretty lucky that he came into the world, as I know many of you reading also do.

But, most importantly, Mark Inspires me more so than any other human being on earth ... my Husband and the Father of our kids.

Because, he, too, like all of them ... just simply loves, loves, loves ... {and if you have the pleasure of knowing my guy well - like I do, then I know many of you will be nodding your head in agreement as you read this ~ adults & many kids alike!}

Mark does Pay It Forward. He serves and gives and teaches and continues to remain true and humble to his most important calling on His Life. And that makes me, his Wife, feel very Happy inside, today, and every day, but especially on today ... his Birthday.

So here's a shout out to you, my hubby, Mark ...

Enjoy Today ... your Birthday! :) We hope you love all of the 'stuff' the kids wanted to get you ... like your big chocolate chip cookie "cake" and your Happy Birthday balloon, the donuts for breakfast, the gifts & cards, seeing the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie on the big screen ... but above all else, we know what you truly treasure & love & adore -- and that is time spent with us! So thank you for all you do and who you are. Love ya' ~

As I end this blog post, I "dare" or ha! -- shall I say "challenge" someone to go next ... or shall I say 'first' ?! in answering my question ... to add to my already started list of favorites as you can already see~

After all,  ... if you know me, Lori, well enough by now from my blog or otherwise, you will know that I am definitely keeping track 'somewhere' of my Favorite's List of the Most Inspirational People! ... there is a recorded version somewhere, but it is definitely on real live paper & using a pen, instead of a key stroke!

{Yes ... you guessed it! Probably in a journal of some kind, somewhere ... you know how I love those things!}

So, here goes ... the 'survey' is now on :)) ... on your mark, get set, go ~

Who inspires YOU?

Happy 41st Birthday! Thank you! We love you!

Monday, May 16, 2011

My gifts

If you didn't get a chance to read my last blog post about what I was really wanting and needing for Mother's Day this year, then read the previous entry to get a 'recap' ... to bring yourself 'up to speed' on what is happenin' in the Grade household ... because the truth be told -- there is definitely not one dull moment at this house! ;)

I am happy to report that my sweet, endearing husband, Mark, did in fact read my blog "in time", as I knew he would, and he gave me much, much more than I asked for.

Our kids came through for me ... they all did, as they always do ~ as they always have.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves~ because ... Yes! -- there are times when I, Lori, am speechless! :)

And I have learned that sometimes there are no words needed -- to be spoken or written.

Hmm ... sort of how some would describe something called Love. At least this is how I like to describe it.

I got exactly what I needed ... much more than I ever wanted ... the gift on the best Mother's Day ever ~ and it wasn't even in any of the stuff.

However, as a friendly reminder to them (in case they might be reading this) ... you'll probably be seeing this beautifully handmade Sign on your Mom's bedroom door much more often ~ and that is not a bad thing!

Because I do come out of my Mom's Den a much, much happier person!

And in the Grade home, we have all found out that there is some definite truth to that age old saying If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy~

Well, if you ask me from looking at this first picture, we all look pretty darn happy ~ and what you cannot see is that the guy behind the camera ... the one takin' the picture is Smilin' bigger than all of us! ;)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

What I really want for Mother's Day

Yesterday a conversation on the radio challenged me to really search my heart for this answer:

What is it I really want for Mother's Day this year?

The discussion was about how Mothers always saying "I don't want anything really ... to "I just want to spend time with my kids and family" or "Just make me a card; that's all I need!" is really not the Truth at all. So they challenged us Mothers out there to simply state what it is that we really, truly do want from our children and/or grandchildren for Mother's Day.

So I challenged myself to ask this question instead:

What is it that I, Lori, really need for Mother's Day this year?

I came up with an answer that I wanted to share here, hoping with the off chance that Mark reads my blog in time to plan and prepare ;) {hint, hint}

This is what I want for Mother's Day this year ... May 8, 2011... and it is most commonly known as this ~

Yes. I am bold enough to say it here. This is what I truly want and need for Mother's Day. We can call it a Woman Cave instead just to be clear whose cave is whose.

Oh ... I say this all in Love, much, much Love ... because as a Mother, I would lay down my very own Life for each one of my children in a heartbeat. Yet, what I've learned is that by not putting myself first hasn't allowed for me to be the kind of Mother I strive to be. The kind of Mother I hope to be in my Life.

By not putting myself first, I am not honoring the highest calling placed on my Life because I am loving them more than loving me.

I've learned that is where my flaw has been all along ... giving, giving, giving ... loving, loving, loving ... all good, needed, and critical, yet somehow, in some way, I, Lori, got lost somewhere in that shuffle of Wife and Mother.

Females just have it in their DNA to care and love others, which is great, wonderful, perfect! But what I've learned about myself being a female now almost 39 years, as well as watching and learning from my own Mother, and also having a Daughter myself now for the past 12, is that girls want to Love on others ... all of the time, in any means possible ... starting out with baby dolls and stuffed animals; then moving onto pets, girlfriends, things, people, our very own babies, husbands ... but it is so easy to get left behind in the Loving. It did for me.

I got lost, me - Lori ... in the Loving of my Husband and Kids. Loving them too much and loving on them too much.

And what I realized is that I learned this 'cave idea' from watching all of the Men in my Life. Past and Present ... what my very own husband, Mark, has shown & taught me how and what to do all of these years, which has made him the kind of Husband and Father that he is ... the kind of Man that he is ... a job well done.

Mark went on a week long fishing trip to Tennessee with his 'guy' friends just recently. He didn't have the need, nor do I even believe the desire to even call home and talk to me or his own kids! This really, really confused me for awhile. I wasn't necessarily mad at him, more like confused. Huh?!@ More of an I just don't get him thought. {That actually happens quite often between us ... you know - that thought & look ;)}

I was just thankful to get a 'text' knowing he was still alive and in a boat, instead of out of it. The funny part most of all,was when I would finally get a text, it was always the same 'type' of text ... fishing good cold dry wet having fun in boat luv u hope for sun ...

So his week away taught him a lot, I think, about himself; it also taught me a lot about myself. Sounds like a pretty good vacation to me! I could've used a little more sun and warmth on my end though~

Just so I am very clear and we have no confusion whatsoever ... I will state it in this way for my dear husband to pass along to our kids for tomorrow: I want and need a Cave, just like you! ~ more than anything! Much more than flowers, beautiful cards, spa treatments, food ordered out or prepared in, love notes, hugs, kisses, cuddle time, my 'mother's ring' repaired, chores done, house perfectly cleaned ...

No! This year what I want and need for Mother's Day is this:

A place to hide! Alone.

And I am talking literally here ... find me a Cave somewhere inside or outside of our home ... have the kids help you build me one for Pete's sake (I know you can!), and if you can't build me one or necessarily find me a 'spot' or get me a lighted up sign from Bryan, then please ... pretty please ... just lock me in our upstairs bathroom with a pretty, beautiful, handmade Sign from our kids hanging on the door handle with this on it:

Do Not Disturb Mom or else! Beware!
P.S. She really, really, really does Love you! Now GO AWAY!

{And one more thing, make sure there is a smiley face on there k?~
I think it will help soften the blow}

See! ... it doesn't take much to please me after all!

I will end on this note to all of the Mothers that I have had so far in my Life ...

I stand in Awe and Praise and Honor and Thanksgiving of all of You!

First and foremost ... my own Mom, Karen ...  my Mother-in-law's, Pat and Laurie ... my Grandmother's, Marcella, Betty, June ... 'Mom Friend/Grandma', Barb Steinle ... my 'Mom Mentor and Friend', Barb Wier ... my past girlfriend's Mother, Marilyn Toczek ... my past best friend's Mother,  Mrs. Buckhalter.

Without you, I wouldn't be the kind of Mother I am to my own Children ... so thank you loving me ... and teaching me ... and growing me ... and showing me the way.

May you be truly blessed this Mother's Day!

Additional "hint" for Mark added 12 hours after the original post ... I realized that I do actually want stuff to make my day happier tomorrow ~ and golly gee! ... don't I deserve it after all? ;) Besides needing to be alone tomorrow to 'regroup', I also would love some of these 'gifts' to be delivered outside of my 'cave' please ... I just think they will make my 'day' that much more Special!
Ok ... here goes my list of wants: A Bible - just pick one!, a notebook and pen, a radio, a cup of coffee in the morning {make sure it has all the 'fixings' of mine} and finally a Pina Colada and chocolate to end the day.
Oh! ... and I may be asking for seconds on the drink and dessert just to forewarn you. ;)

But I am hearing the pitter patter of little feet coming and going ... and that alone will make me Smile big!

Here is why we, Mark & I, do what we do, give what we give, love as much as we do.
My true Mother's day gifts ~ irreplaceable.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Mother's Eulogy

I think that I know and have heard every single song that Elvis Presley wrote or sang. I'm pretty sure that I saw every movie that he was ever in. When I was a teenager, I even read his ex-wife's book to learn about their Story. 

And it was quite a Story, yet so very sad. Sort of like my Mom's Story

Sort of like my very own.

My Mom simply adored this King of Rock n' Roll. 

She just connected with him in some very deep, soul kind of way.

My mom even had a room in her final earthly home "dedicated" to him ... pictures and memorabilia ... all her collectibles of him and his Life; we called it The Elvis Room and still do.
My sister and I "take turns" sleeping in that room. It brings me comfort and peace sleeping in there, as I suspect it does for her too.

Sadly, my Mom never got to see the one place in the entire world that I know would've made her the happiest, and that being Graceland. 

As a child our home was constantly filled with Elvis music and many other "oldies but goodies" blasting from the record player or tape deck ... music just filled up our home ... and many, many times I'd catch my mom singin' right along ... while she took care of her Home, and all of us ... her Family.

And she was doing it all in the best way she knew how ... in the only way she knew how ... in the only way she was shown and learned herself.

Now that I am so much "older and wiser" ... the Wife of Mark for the past 16 years ... a few bumps under my belt ... plus the privilege of being called Mom myself, I have a whole new understanding and appreciation for what she was trying  to teach me so long ago ~

I can now see all of the sacrifices she made of herself for us, especially to my Dad. She loved him with her whole being. She served him in some way, in some fashion right up until her death. But more importantly, I can now appreciate the sacrifices she made for me ...
her Daughter

The one child of hers that she knew she hurt the most, and so did I. 
I was the one child of their "4" that she knew that she wounded in the deepest possible way, and so did I. 
I was the one child out of her living 3 that she felt she had fallen too far for me to love or forgive.

I was so angry at her when I sat on her death bed; I looked her straight in the eyes; I asked her boldly if she had any regrets. The silence was long and hard for me to bare because in my heart I knew what I wanted to hear, but sort of already knew what was coming. 

Her answer of No.

That wasn't at all what I was hoping to hear by any means. I didn't get the answer I was needing or hoping for or wanting; neither did she. I held back and so did she. We both felt it. We both knew. We both shut down.

Words didn't need to be spoken at all.

All I wanted to hear, all I needed to hear ... she didn't say.

She just couldn't get the words out; and neither could I. 
She probably couldn't after what cancer and its treatments did to her physical body, plus what the battle of alcoholism raging in her body did to her mind, heart, and soul.  

She wasn't a healthy woman by any means. And neither was I.

But on a much deeper level, my Mom just couldn't say those words I needed to hear so desperately because she needed to hear them, too, from me, her middle Child ... her Daughter

I can now see and appreciate how much I was truly loved and accepted by her. 

I now know what we both needed that day to be said; the words that were left unsaid. 

The words that would've freed us both then, but instead, I got freed two years later. 

She had gotten freed immediately when she took her final breath.

And I know for sure that if I had a chance for a re-do with her, knowing what I know now, living through what I have lived through since her death, that I definitely would have done it in this way instead ... sort of in an "Elvis kind of way" ~

I would've grabbed hold of that woman, my Mother, all 80 pounds of her ... and I would've clung to that empty shell of a human being. And then I would've looked straight into her big beautiful blue eyes, eyes that held so much misunderstood sadness & pain, and I would've said loudly and clearly in my loud, fast talkin', passionate kind of way ... these words that we both needed to say and hear to Heal ...

It is okay ... I am going to be okay ... just go! Be free!

I couldn't say these words to her back then on her death bed, nor at her Memorial Service because my heart wasn't in the right place, but it is now. 

This really good place of being able to Honor and Celebrate Her Life.

So today when I think of my Mom who is in Heaven, I have a 'word picture' now of her that I choose to focus on ... to treasure ... to cherish that memory, instead of all of the old ones. 

I've let those go a long time ago.

I have this "image" of her smiling, happy, boisterous self ... singin' right along with this Elvis' tune and of course! ...  this just has to be added in ... after all, I am talkin' about Karen Edwards here ... 

She is definitely shakin' her hips, drinkin' her beer & smokin' those darn cigarettes!

But most importantly, the thing that stands out the most for me in that image
is the  
Light in her eyes and the Smile on her face!

Now that is a good picture I chose to keep close to my heart until we meet again.
If you happened to have been in my Mom's Life in some way then you were given a very rare precious gift to be treasured forever. 

She was one very special Lady that is truly missed each day.

So in Honor of Her, this Day, in Celebration of her Life ... I will end this post ... my Eulogy to my Mom, Karen Aurelia Edwards, with these words ~

Thank You!
Happy Mother's Day!

In Loving Memory of Karen Aurelia Edwards 12/14/46 - 5/4/07

To read the full obituary please click here.