Posted in Faith, Spirituality

Water-Walking in the Storm

 

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WHOOSH.
The sound of the wind being sucked from our sails. The rug being pulled from under our feet. The breath knocked from our lungs.

It happens. This life has a way of sometimes catching us off guard. Sometimes it’s when we’re rocking along, with everything going our way, and then WHOOSH. Or maybe it’s when things have just started to look up, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and then WHOOSH. That new job has come along, or that tax refund just hit the mailbox, or that relationship has blossomed into promise. Then WHOOSH. Without warning we’re blindsided.

Blindsided by the whoosh. The bad news. The unexpected turn of events. The loss of something we inevitably were taking for granted.  No one is immune from the storms and trials our existence on planet Earth delivers. If you are a human being and breathing air, you are going to feel the whoosh of life. It certainly doesn’t take anyone long for that realization to sink in. Storms come. They come in all sizes. From the small drizzle to the devastation of a tsunami.

I am a glass half full girl. I believe in hope. I see the Promise land. Deliverance from the desert. Rest for the weary. Rainbows after storms. Resurrection after death. Promises fulfilled.  We don’t have to stay stuck in our storms. One thing I know, storms are temporary.

My desire is to be a water-walker. I want to be like Peter, who when in the midst, (IN THE MIDST, not when facing it or after it was over, but in the smackdab middle) of his storm, put his eyes on Jesus and walked on water. While the waves beat and the wind howled and while his robe and beard blew in the gust and the water splashed upward and crashed into his face, while the rain stung his eyes, while all that was happening—  he kept his gaze on Jesus Christ and walked on the water toward him.

Are you going through a storm? A trial? Has the wind been sucked from your sails? Has the rug been pulled out from under your feet? Are you gasping for breath?

There’s only one thing to do.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Do not focus on the problems. Focus on the provider. He will make a way when there seems to be no way.
What happened when Peter noticed the wind all around and put his focus on the storm? He began to sink. But immediately Jesus was there to save him. Our savior is here. Walking toward us in our storms. Take comfort in that.

Nothing catches him by surprise. Jesus doesn’t feel the Whoosh of life. Just as He knew the storm would come and he sent the disciples out  anyway, he also knew they would make it to the other side. He knows the storm that surrounds you. He sees you straining. He sees your toil. He is walking toward you, ready to assist you. He knows you will make it to the other side.

Look up. Lift your chin. Keep your eyes on Jesus. He who is the master of the storms. He who walks on water. He who braves all the storms and comes toward us when we are afraid.

He will rescue us when we cry out to him.

Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble; He saved them out of their distresses. Psalm 107:19

 

 

 

 

Posted in Animals

9 lives-1 life= a heart attack

Today I had a heart attack. It’s only an expression; thank goodness I did not have a literal heart attack. If you’re old enough to remember Sanford and Son you’ll know what I mean when I say  I thought it was “the big one”. My heart was beating so fast and fear had me in its claws so deep that I thought my heart was going to beat plumb out of my chest.

Before I began my tale, I should say this blog post needs to be filed in the “things I find under my hood” category—if only I had such a category. After today, I’m beginning to think I might need to create such a category. Usually the things found under a hood are mechanical in nature and not really worth talking about. Unless you’re me of course. Previously you might remember when I found the Rat Bastard and his nest under my hood with all his special possessions he’d hauled under there. Who knew I’d have 2 of these blog posts in as little as 3 months?!??? Well let’s get on with it, shall we?

About mid morning, I left our house with EK in tow in the back seat. She wanted to visit her Grandy across town.  We were driving along, eating gummy worms, talking about colors that match the seasons and looking for budding fruit trees. Our car was filled with smacking and conversation so I don’t know how long the noise had been happening before I actually heard it. By the time it reached my ears, it was of such magnitude and intensity it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It wasn’t the clankety clank of saddle straps being flapped around put there by a dirty Rat Bastard, but rather it was an ear splitting screech. A SCRAWWWWWLLLLLL. The screams of a mountain lion couldn’t compare to the noise. The sound of a woman being murdered in the woods couldn’t compare.

“What is that noise?” I asked out loud. EK quietened her incessant chatter just a beat or two for us to tune our ears. The sound was so loud. It was terrifying. It was obviously an animal in much distress. Not just any animal but a cat. As loud as it was, it was still a far off muffled sound of pain and agony. But it made no sense to me. Why would I be hearing a cat in distress while driving 30 mph down Duncan street? Then the realization hit me.

It was under the hood. There was a cat under my hood. I had driven at least 7 blocks with a cat under my hood. In the  2.78957856748 seconds it took me to pull over and put the car in park, my mind was a racing mess of scenarios. I popped the hood and stepped out of the car. The screech and the scrawl and the screams were so intensely crazy I was struck with a fear of what I was going to discover. I moved as quickly as I could, but of course when you are in the throes of panic and rushing to rescue something that needs rescuing, it seems to take forever. I put my hand under the hood, desperately searching for the latch that releases the hood. From the left to the right more to the left more to the right.  The whole while fearful of what I am about to discover. Will this by my cat Rocky Muffin? Is this a neighborhood cat? The cat obviously was still alive but in what kind of condition? Will it be mangled? Will it be limbless? Will there be blood spattered all over the roof of the hood of my yellow vehicle? Was I going to be able to stomach what I was about to discover?

I’m not mechanically minded a bit, but I’ve heard the stories of people who get caught up in tractors and lose their legs or those awful stories of kittens that spin around in the motors for a few seconds before there’s a thump and a wump and that’s the end of them.  Let’s just say, I was expecting nothing less.

My heart raced for forever, but I finally managed to find the hood release. I opened the hood to find, yes indeed, my very own Rocky Muffin squeezed between the hood and the black tubes and tangles of the underneath of the hood. Her fur was matted and wet on her back. I reached for her and she began to calm some. I took hold and pulled but couldn’t pull her out. Her foot seemed stuck in something, but after careful observation and a little more tugging, she had just deeply imbedded her claws into something holding on for dear life I assume. If I spring a leak later I’ll know she got a good puncture in some hose or some sort. She had all four limbs and a tail in tact, and the wet fur on her back must’ve been from the sweat and fear that had soaked through her skin. I’m sure I looked a bit odd to the passersby pulling a black cat out from under my hood. One truck began to slow, I’m uncertain as to why. Maybe to help out a damsel in distress or maybe to take a second look to see if his eyes were playing tricks on him.

I put RM in the car and she quietened down, hid under the seat, and rode to Grandy’s house in relieved silence. After depositing EK, I got RM back home where she received special treatment after such a traumatizing experience. She curled up on the bed and bathed and licked every bit of axle grease that may have touched her until she is a fine black sheen again. My teenage niece doesn’t even take baths as long as this cat bathed herself. I guess she found herself deserving of quite the pampering.

I’m not sure how many of her lives Rocky Muffin has squandered thus far, but today she certainly used up one of her nine.

And took a few years of my own along with it! Whew, isn’t life a fun adventure?

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Posted in Children, Family, life, Uncategorized

4 year old My Little Pony/Rainbow Party

Okay, here we go. I must start this blog with a disclaimer.

  1. There are bloggers who make money blogging. I’m not one of them (although that’d be swell).
  2. There are bloggers who have perfect pictures of projects that people pin on Pinterest. I’m not one of them. I don’t even know how to put a P on my pictures so that people could pin them on Pinterest (although that’d be swell).
  3. I’m just a mom, who happens to blog, who is trying to celebrate my kid’s birthday in a fun way using ideas from Pinterest that I’ve stolen from other people who make money with their blogs.
  4. You will not find anything original here. Or anything perfect. You might even see messy. Or real. And that’s my life. Judge not (that’d be swell).

So my little daughter EK turned 4 and she requested a My Little Pony party. My town (consisting of Walmart and 14 dollar stores) had absolutely nothing in the way of My Little Pony party supplies. So we stole the idea of using Rainbow Dash pony as our Lead Horse and combining rainbows with My Little Ponies, but mostly just rainbows. When I say we, I mean me. Because rainbow parties are cool. Rainbows are cool. She’s 4. And if I put a few ponies out and about on the tables, that’d work, right? (Secret: I don’t even think I had a Rainbow Dash pony out anywhere!)

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Parties can get a bit out of hand these days. It seems like  moms keep pushing the envelope. How big can they possibly get?  I really really really really strive to have a simple party. But then suddenly it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. And then I look around and I’ve got ponies and rainbows and icing up to my elbows. And you know what else? I don’t even like parties! But I will tell you, that when my little girl walked into the room and saw the decorations, her little face lit up. She jumped up and down clapping. Ran over and hugged me around the legs. She kept saying how excited she was and it was right there in that moment, I realized that I may not like parties but my little girl will only turn 4 once and even if no one else came to help us celebrate, we will celebrate. It is her life.  The day she came into our world and changed it forever. She is worth celebrating! The party may not have been picture perfect, but we had a great time and here it is.
I didn’t have time to get a great invitation together because at almost the last-minute, something came up and we had to move the party up a weekend. So I just did what we did in the “olden days” and bought invitations at one of the 14 dollar stores in town and handwrote the Who, What, When, and Where on the blanks ha!

Decorations:

Doing a rainbow theme is easy when it comes to decorations, because you can find the colors of the rainbow anywhere and everywhere. The backdrop in the following picture is made out of plastic tablecloths that are hung in the colors of the rainbow and the poufs and balloons are supposed to be clouds. I used some old banner and tablecloths from her 2nd birthday Sesame Street themed party and added them to save money.

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Food

Because our party was from 4-6, we served some hotdogs and chips. I also threw together a veggie platter, trying my derndest to use the colors of the rainbow, but really other than orange bell peppers and eggplant, some veggies just don’t come in the colors of the rainbow. Also a fruit platter, that when you look real closely may, in just the right light, maybe with one eye shut and your head tilted at a 30 degree angle, might look like a rainbow with some marshmallow clouds.

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Our cake was a 5 layer rainbow cake following the colors of the rainbow. At first, I was going to make the batter and use food coloring to color different batches of dough, but at the store, I found already colored pouches of cake mix. It was still a booger to make (lots of dirty dishes) and cutting it was a chore, but it turned out fun. We added skittles to the outside for a little extra rainbow flair. J-Dub of course helped me with the cake as I was about in a near tizzy when it came to icing it and a full-blown tizzy at cutting that tall sucker. It started to look like the leaning tower of Piza. It was taking both of us to try to hold it up and cut it without making a total mess. I can’t say we succeeded on not making a total mess. It’s just a good thing kids don’t care!

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For fun, we dipped some Oreos in white chocolate and sprinkled them with rainbow sprinkles. EK really enjoyed helping with this. Now, this isn’t as easy as it looks, there’s a couple of tricks to getting the stick to stay put without breaking the Oreo into fragments.  You get to eat a lot of broken Oreos while you’re doing this! Well, you do if you’re me.

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I baked a few cupcakes and since there wasn’t too much chocolate and I personally prefer chocolate, I put some chocolate icing on these which turned our reminding me a little bit of hot mess of dog poop sitting on top of a cupcake, but if anybody else thought so, at least they didn’t say anything. Again, kids don’t care.

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Activities/Games

I always worry about the activities and games. I think it’s the school teacher in me. I have learned from a schoolroom full of kids that when their time isn’t filled with  structured activities, they will find a way to fill it, and it may not be what you want them to do. So I always overplan on this part and they usually  just end up playing their own games instead of mine. Maybe one day I’ll learn to relax and trust the process a little.

It  worked out that since we lived in the country and EK’s daddy had a horse available, we were able to offer pony rides to go along with the theme of My Little Pony. We also asked a friend from church to come out and give each child their own “cutie mark” with face paint. EK wanted a piñata, and so a few kids got in on that, but we were running almost out of time and many guests left before this. Unfortunately, during all the hustle and bustle, I wasn’t able to get  pictures of any of these activities.

I had also bought a little photo booth kit, you know one of those funny faces photo booths? I thought the kids would love this, but they didn’t. I practically had to drag kids into it to participate. For this age of guests, I think I should have put up a mirror near it, so they could at least see what the looked like before the picture was snapped. I did have a few willing participants. That’s EK in the cat eye glasses and a few of her cute friends.

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Emma had a lot of fun with her friends and family and it turned out to be a great time. As soon as it was over, she said “I can’t wait to turn five!” She’s already planning her next birthday! Thankfully I have a year to rest!

Posted in Children, Family, parenting

A Letter to EK on her 4th Birthday

imageMy Dearest Emma Kate,

Happy Birthday dear one! Goodness. I just can’t believe it. My heart overflows with love and gratitude for the absolute blessing you are in all of our lives. My words are truly inadequate to express my feelings and emotions. As I sit here, I try to think of what to say to you—and about you, and there’s not enough paper in all the world to sum up the little soul that you are.

You are good.
You are smart.
You are tender.
You are stubborn.
You are independent.
You are a bit melodramatic, and I honestly don’t have a clue how to deal with that.
You are a deep thinker.

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Sometimes you’re even silly.

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You are sensible, logical, and reasonable beyond your years. I seriously believe at age 4 you have more common sense than most grown-ups.

Your mind is an astonishing part of you. I know a lot of moms worry about their kids and the choices and impulses they act on, but I really don’t worry too much about you because you are so level headed and you make the right decisions  even as a small child. You are the one telling the older ones what they need to be doing and not doing. You are the one keeping people in line and listening to instructions. Dear One, please always listen to others who lead you in the path of righteousness and not astray. Do not get caught up in this world and its enticements. Proverbs 1:8 says “Listen, my son (daughter), to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Be wise always Emma Kate. And know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. You, my dear child, have the ability and the capability to do anything in this world, and I mean ANYTHING you put your mind and heart to, so please carry wisdom and discernment with you while you chase your dreams in this world.image

 

I know you will make a difference. I know that because you already have. You have made a difference in my life. You have taught me to be better. You have shown me what is important and what is just fluff in this life. There have been days you alone have been my reason for being. My reason to wake, to rise, to live. I know that I am an example to you in all I say and do. Please know that I’m doing the absolute best I can.

 

 

This year has been one of transition for us. You and I have gone from spending every single waking moment of every single day together to learning how to be apart. You have become a school girl now and I have returned to being a working mama. Most of our days are spent in separate places, but let me tell you what we share.

Every morning you wake up after me. I usually have already gotten most of my stuff together so that I can pour you a cup of milk. You sit in my lap in the recliner and drink your milk and we have several minutes together to just snuggle. Your milk always makes you cold, so I wrap you in a blanket and hold you. You lay your head on my shoulder and we rock. We talk about the day and the events to come. You have a solid grasp on the days of the week and your schedule. You know that Friday is our day together and you usually can tell me how many more days until we don’t have to set an alarm.

Every evening, you and I still have story time. Two books. This is some of my favorite time with you and always has been. Gosh, we’ve read a thousand books together probably. You are already beginning to read and make sense of letters, sounds, words. We read our books and sometimes you laugh and sometimes you even cry. You are so tender and empathetic to the sweet characters. Like in the Library Lion when he isn’t allowed to come back to the Library because he broke a rule or in City Dog, Country Frog when the Frog is no longer there to meet his friend, you rub the tears away from your beautiful brown eyes and say “This part makes me sad”. After stories we pray, we sing, I rub your back or face until you sleep. Sometimes I’m grumpy and angry because I’m so tired and you are flopping around like a fish and won’t sleep. Of course I never did follow the parenting advice for getting your child to sleep so this is our routine. This is what works for us. And you know what, it’s okay. Because you’re only four and as I look back on the past four years, it has absolutely flown by and I wouldn’t trade those times I’ve spent with you in the quiet darkness as the day is ending for anything else in this world. This time is fleeting and no parenting book in the world will make me regret the moments we’ve snuggled.

 

You love to play dolls, princesses, and Barbies. You still play imagination and good vs. evil. Good wins. Always.  Remember that.

You are watching entirely too much TV these days and are being totally brain washed by commercials! I’ve already had to have a little mini-lesson on advertisements and their schemes with you because you think we need to buy every item on the commercials, that Lysol kills the most germs, and that we need to send money to help poor kids get more books and save elephants from being poached for their ivory. Oh your sweet heart. Bless you my dear. I hope you are always so touched by life.

This morning your daddy and I woke you with a happy birthday song. You got to wear your new Birthday Girl t-shirt to school and took some cupcakes to share with your friends. Tonight we’ll celebrate with a presents, cupcakes, and a meal out. You’ve requested McDonalds (big surprise) and you want a sausage biscuit. I think that is pretty doable.

I love you Emma. You are more than I could ever imagine. Just always be you. You–complete in your perfect, imperfect self. Because there is nothing more you ever need to be. You are loved. You are loved. You are loved. Especially by your mama!

XOXO,

Mama

Posted in Animals, Family, life

Remembering Drew Miller

imageWe had to say good-bye to one of the finest dogs there was.

Our Drew Miller.

Our Drewby Dooby Doo.

He was somewhere around 11 years old. Give or take a year. He was named after a preschool classmate of Ashlynn’s. He was her second puppy after her first Drew Miller met an unfortunate end under a car tire. So when asked what to call the new puppy, he was Drew Miller too. Or Drew Miller #2. I guess technically he was Drew Miller #3 if you count the classmate.

He had the manner of a cat, not giving a flip if you pet him or not. or if you liked him or not. He was not a man’s dog. He was not a companion dog. He was a dog’s dog.  Unlike most dogs that eagerly run to greet you, if he was feeling generous he might raise his eyebrows and thump his massive tail no more than four times on the ground in greeting.  That was as good as it got. He wasn’t one to be bought or tricked or persuaded.  Not even with steak.

He was a large fellow, narrow through the hips and broad in the chest. Built like a Marine but with an awkward gait that showed something wasn’t quite right in his hips. He never allowed that to stop him on our outings and he would run as far and as fast as he could before slowing to a crawl and lagging far behind. Tongue lolling. Then when you least expected it, here he’d come blasting past with renewed energy. He was rescued from the humane society and was labeled part border collie, which couldn’t have been the farthest from the truth. Part beaver and part killing machine was more accurate.

 

He was a wood chewer and loved a good stick to chew although fetching one was out of the question. He practically ate our house down to the shingles as a puppy. “You can’t fault him for being a dog,” my dad replied after my complaints

He loved to be outdoors in any weather and often had to be dragged inside with a leash on a frigid night.

imageHe had the heart of a warrior, fighting anything that threatened his territory.  Porcupines, badgers, skunks, possums, and rats. He was proud of his kills and laid beside them until we took notice and patted him on the head. He alerted us to snakes and strangers; yet was gentle around all things important: chickens, cats, and kids. His tail was a weapon in itself if he ever whacked you alongside the thigh on his way to chase a rabbit.image

 

He was a country dog to the core. He lived a good life on many adventures with J-dub and me from the prairies of Texas to the mountains of New Mexico. He spent his golden years running, chasing, and occasionally catching out in the open range. The wind in his face. Untethered. Just being a dog.

He will be missed.

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Posted in Animals, life

The Mystery of the Clankety Clank Under My Hood

 

In the panhandle of Texas the weather is notorious for being unpredictable. Last month, in November, we had four tornadoes come through our area. And over Thanksgiving just a few days after the tornadoes, we had a major ice storm. And today, two weeks before Santa Claus takes flight, it’s predicted to be 72 degrees.  One might say Mother Nature definitely has some mood swings around these parts.

I didn’t drive my little yellow vehicle La-La during Thanksgiving break, the ice storm, or several days afterward. It sat in the nice, warm garage and took a break while I drove a different vehicle that traverses better on our roads. Icy roads that in time turn into slushy roads, that in time turn into muddy roads that go to and from our house.

Now La-La is a good vehicle. She was penned La-La last year by EK after a short stent with the dreaded Tele-Tubbies. La-La being the yellow Tele-Tubby. My vehicle is almost 15 years old, has nearly 200,000 miles on her, and has journeyed with me many miles and memories.

So when I decided to crank her over the other day, I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear a  noise. Something like a clankety clank, GRRRRRR, RAWRRRRR, clack-clack, PHHHHTHTTTTHTTT. I immediately thought our cat Rocky muffin, who lives mostly in the garage,  was toast. I knew she must’ve gotten under the hood and that was the end of her. But since there wasn’t any blood and guts hitting the windshield I dismissed that idea and replaced it with the possibility of a broken belt (being an under-the-hood expert and all). I checked the clock, noted I was running late, and put her in reverse and left anyway. I’d worry about the broken belt when I found myself on the side of the road, but as long as La La rolls, then roll we shall.

The next time I cranked La-La over, the racket was gone and I didn’t notice it again until the next day when I got out of my car to check the mailbox that sits beside the highway about a mile away from the house. This time she released a long series of clack-clacks.

I arrived home and got out of the car and noticed a leather strap lying on the ground where she had been parked. I thought this had probably come from under my hood, although I’ve never seen brown leather automotive belts (being an under-the-hood expert and all).

Nevertheless, I had a mystery on my hands. The case of the clankety clank, GRRRRR, RAWRRRRRR, clack-clack, PHHHHTHTHTTTTTHTT noise under the hood. When J-Dub came home, we put our sleuths hats on and popped the hood. What we discovered  wasn’t Rocky Muffin in bits and pieces. Nor was it a broken belt.

It was a rat’s nest.

A literal rat’s nest.

A gigantic, well constructed, literal rat’s nest perching right up on the intake manifold or something (being an under-the-hood expert and all).

 

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After the initial shock and further inspection, I assume this was a pack rat, because of the plethora of packings that had also been carted under my  hood. Namely, lots of leather straps. Leather straps that made the clankety clank, GRRRRR, RAWRRRRRR, clack-clack, PHHHHTHTHTTTTTHTT noise under the hood. Leather straps that we soon discovered had been chewed right off J-Dub’s saddles that are also stored in the garage. Tie strings, stirrup hobbles,  pretty laces that hold saddle conchos in place. Chewed right off by a sorry no good piece of dirt shyster.

 

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Plus there was at least a cup full of  bird seed and cat food that he’s storing for his long, cold winter. Not to mention a very big stick. Most likely the one he used to fight off the cat Rocky Muffin, who apparently is not doing her job AT ALL. I’ve decided she must have just made peace with this large rat,sat back and watched him as he carried off her salmon flavored kibble.

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Now J-Dub has an expression he uses when talking about any body or anything who is a  sorry no good piece of dirt shyster. Anybody or anything that chews up his saddles.

A Rat Bastard.

In this case, it is very fitting. After discovering his chewed up saddle, J-Dub has declared war against the Rat Bastard.

The Rat Bastard is as good as dead.

We’re still debating what to do about the cat. For now, her salmon flavored rations have been cut until her work performance improves. Living with rats is not acceptable behavior for sure.

The only good news is that the clankety clank, GRRRRR, RAWRRRRRR, clack-clack, PHHHHTHTHTTTTTHTT mystery is solved and La La is purring like a kitten once again.