Can a Gospel Christian Be Blue?

I was raised in the South.  I’ve lived in Mississippi, the suburbs of Memphis, Texas and Arkansas.

I’ve seen racism first hand.  I’ve seen fear of someone that didn’t look like “White America” first hand.  I’ve seen it all.  I was born in the late sixties….well after the Civil Rights marches…and still…I’ve seen it all. We live in a United States of America where not a single person over the age of 18 should have to “research” a white supremacist group.  We should all be so against the ideology of those groups that we jump to condemn  it.  America, we don’t want to go back to the days of segregation or people singled out due to the color of their skin or religion.  That’s not America.

I’ve seen poverty up close. I’ve seen homeless veterans on the street.  I’ve seen homeless single moms on the street. I’ve been able to see up close those who live in nothing more than a strong cardboard box with a door.  I’ve been a child of poverty and technical homelessness.

I’ve been part of the “poor school.” I’ve been part of the “rich school.”  I’ve been part of heated battles as districts have redrawn lines for attendance, and those arguments almost always are rooted in who parents wanted Joe and Mary to attend school with.  In 2016, we do not have equitable education in America.  I certainly don’t know the solution, but I do know it’s real.

I’ve been a child with no medical insurance.  I’ve been an adult subject to pre-existing clauses…a clause that can jeopardize the life of any American with a pre-existing disease.  Change jobs, no insurance coverage for 6-12 months on that condition.  I can’t agree to go back to that.  A mandate with issues also has some areas that protect our sick, our children, our college children.

I have never lived in a nation where the media was controlled or censored. I heard the threat of that being the case from the leader of the Red. I went back to eight grade Civics where I learned “to silence the media is the first step in silencing us all. ”

I remember the days we said the Pledge of Allegiance in schools.  The days where it seemed all was well in the United States.  We can’t go back.  Frankly, I don’t want to.  I am thrilled to know that we truly are the melting pot of the world.  Whether I like or agree with some of what we have now is irrelevant.  Give us your tired, your weary…..not give us your Baptist, or Methodist or whites.  Unless  you are Native American in heritage, you are a product of immigration.  I’m a product of immigration.  A mut.  I’m not purebred anything.  I’m a mixture of this and that, just like most Americans.

I am a Gospel Christian.  A Southern Baptist by denomination.  I am not like the WBC radicals.  I have to trust that if I can be free to practice my faith and not be associated with the radicals of the WBC, that others who practice a different religion are to be free to do so as well.  I cannot fear what I do not understand.  I cannot judge an entire group of people due to the acts of a radical few.  I would hope the same is said for not judging my faith due to the radical few within the ranks.

I’ve have a vivid memory of the Carter years, the Reagan years, the Clinton years, the Bush 1 and 2 years and now, the Obama years.  I’ve seen our country rise up in times of great trials….and I’ve also seen our country split into little pieces over a determination to “get their way.”  The word compromise has become a four letter word.

I’ve been personally chastised for even possibly considering not voting Republican.  That’s what good Christians do.  Vote Republican.

And. Here I sit today.  In disbelief that what I have been told is the “Christian” party has all but crowned a man that represents none of the values I hold to be true as a Christian.  Seeing remarks such as, “Well, I can’t stand any of his principles, but I’ll vote for him if he is the nominee…I’ll vote my party.”  “We have to take back America.”  From who? From what?  From people that don’t have white skin?  Jesus didn’t have white skin.

I sit here today in disbelief that I’ve seen a quote, “I voted Trump, but I won’t tell my kids.”  I hope there never comes a day that I am embarrassed by who I voted for.

I get people are angry.  It’s ok to be angry, but to vote with that anger.  No.  We have to vote with our values and our principles…or we become just as lost as the lost.  We can’t control who follows us, but if we look around and we are being followed by hate…what does that say about “us” or “I?”  What message are we sending?

So, can a Christian vote blue?  This year, barring a strong third party candidate, I believe it’s possibly the only way I can look into the mirror and have any hope of saying I voted for at least some Christian values and principles. Where “almost right” may have to be enough. The lesser of two evils, so to speak. This past weekend, HRC sounded more Christian than most of the candidates running Red and ten-thousand times more Christian than the Red leader.  I have to vote knowing the protection of the First Amendment is just as important as protecting the Second Amendment.  A silent America is far more devastating to our future generations than gun control.

Years ago there was a movement of WWJD.  WWJD? I can’t begin to know, but I know what he commanded of His followers…..love, spread the good news to the ends of the earth…but the greatest of these commandments was to love.  And that, is what I will do.  I choose love over hate. I choose love over fear.  I choose humanity.  I choose life, not just birth…all of it.

 

 

Fantastic Friday-Emma’s Story

I have been so excited to share about this precious girl.  Emma is a ROCKSTAR!  She’s beautiful and has such tenacity.  Her Mother, Katie, was so kind to share Emma’s story and some amazing pictures for all of us.  This precious girl is the reason the RRP Foundation raised over $5000 in record speed this early fall.  For a rare disease, that’s an amazing feat and Emma is the reason!  She started the campaign! Here’s Emma’s story, as told by her beautiful and brave Mom, Katie.

This is it. It started the campaign.

This is it. It started the campaign.

My beautiful daughter Emma was diagnosed with RRP at the age of 5½. She very suddenly became hoarse and we could not get her voice cleared up. Her family doctor kept insisting that I just needed to give the steroid he had prescribed more time to work, but after 3 weeks and her voice only getting worse, I knew in my heart something was not right. I started to research hoarseness in children online. I found that one of the most common causes of persistent hoarseness in children is RRP. I knew right away that that was exactly what my daughter had. I had just been diagnosed with cervical HPV causing cervical dysplasia about 1½ years after Emma’s birth, so I knew my suspicions were most likely correct.

This Mom....so strong.

This Mom….so strong.

I took it upon myself to set up an appointment with a pediatric ENT for my daughter. I told him of my own HPV history and told him that I was positive my daughter had RRP. He passed a scope down her nose that same day and confirmed that Emma had something growing on her vocal cords. He said that she would have to have surgery so that he could get a better look and biopsy the area. My heart sank because I already knew.

It was confirmed that Emma had RRP on October 20th, 2011. This is easily the worst day of my life. The doctor proceeded to confirm the diagnosis in a public waiting room where I completely fell to my knees and could not be consoled. I was led out of the waiting room by my Mom and Husband to a bathroom where I collapsed to the floor and cried. After several minutes of uncontrollable crying, I pulled it together because I promised my little girl I would be there when she woke up.

Emma.....recovering

Emma…..recovering

This is recovery.

This is recovery.

Today, Emma is 8 years old and she has had 10 surgeries. Her vocal quality is much better than it was after her first two surgeries, but it is still a struggle for her just to speak and endure the many surgeries she must undergo. Since her first doctor knew so very little about RRP (like most doctors who have never even heard of the disease) we were forced to seek out a doctor that was more knowledgeable about RRP. After a few disappointing “second opinion” visits, I finally decided to contact one of the most knowledgeable experts on RRP in the US, Dr. Zeitels in Boston. I was concerned about the distance we would have to travel and the financial burden it would ensue in order to get her quality care, but I was willing to do whatever it took to get my daughter the best care possible. When I called, they were very supportive and told me they understood my frustration of trying to find a doctor that could help my daughter. They said there was actually a doctor a little closer to where we live in Ohio by the name of Dr. De Alarcon. He had worked with Dr. Zeitels and followed very similar protocols. When we met with Dr. De Alarcon we were overcome with relief to finally be  in the hands of a surgeon who knew how to treat our daughter’s rare disease and still manage to give her the best vocal quality possible. He has performed 8 of her 10 surgeries and has given her quality of life back, which is one of the greatest gifts ever. I don’t know if my daughter would even have a voice at all if it weren’t for him. He is certainly my hero.

Even though we have finally found the right surgeon for our daughter, the burden we feel from this awful disease inevitably persists. Traveling every 8 weeks to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Ohio has been physically, emotional and financially burdensome. It is roughly a 4 hour drive one way for us. Sometimes we have to leave as early as 2:00 AM to be there for our surgery times. It doesn’t help that they are in a different time zone than us. Then, by the time surgery is over, we are so emotionally drained, that the 4 hour drive back is a fight to stay awake and make the drive. We have stayed at a hotel for one of the surgeries, but then you have the added cost of the hotel. As it is, we have to pay $4500.00 out of pocket each year before our out of pocket expense is met for insurance to start paying 100% of the medical costs. This is roughly the same amount of money I see many of my friends using yearly to take a nice family vacation. Emma would love to go to Disney World, but instead, our money has to go to paying her medical expenses. We pray and hope that we can eventually save enough extra money to get her there before she is too old to enjoy the innocent magic this childhood favorite has to offer.

A Doctor's Pro

A Doctor’s Pro

Emotionally speaking, this disease has certainly challenged us on many different levels. When Emma was first diagnosed, the guilt I felt was overwhelming. I did not know how I could ever forgive myself and learn to live again. My grief was so dark and I was so unreachable. I often found myself wanting to fast forward my life to see how all of this turns out for her.  I thank God for my wonderful Husband and supportive family who never gave up on me in my darkest moments. I endured extreme grief and depression for almost 2 long years before finally finding an antidepressant that helped me cope. I thought about suicide often, but knowing my daughter needed me was what pulled me through.  She needs me to be there for her through this lifelong journey she now must endure with this awful disease. I will continue to pray for her, for a cure, for everyone affected by this awful disease daily, and will fight to get her the best treatment possible until the day I take my last breathe.

As for Emma, she never fails to amaze me with her strength and amazing courage. She is such a fighter. She is determined to make a difference! She has made her very own challenge in response to the ALS ice bucket challenge. She has challenged 1 million people to donate $1 to the RRP Foundation to help fund research for a cure. Her thinking is quite simple, if 1 million people donate just $1, a large amount of money can be raised without placing financial burden on any one person. I think it’s a beautiful concept and great goal for her to work towards. (Her challenge can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Challengerrpdonation )

This is not to say that Emma has not struggled despite her astounding strength. She is always very nervous for her surgeries. She says she is scared she won’t wake up from the surgery. Hearing this breaks my heart. When she does wake up, she is in so much pain and then must be uncomfortable the whole 4 hour drive home. She can’t talk for at least 5 days after surgery, which is very hard especially when she has to go back to school. She is constantly asked by people what’s wrong with her voice, if she has a cold. She used to tell people about her disease, but she was tired of the funny looks she got from trying to explain. Now she just tells people that’s just her voice, how God made her. Just recently, she has been getting made fun of by a few kids a school. Thank goodness she has some really good friends that stick up for her.

Seriously, how adorable.

Seriously, how adorable.

In all that we have been able to tell Emma about her disease, we have not told her that the disease could one day take her life if it spreads to her lungs. As she gets older and will soon be using the internet, I know this is something she is eventually going to find out. It’s a worry you never want your child to have. Although spread to the lungs is rare, it is something we must never let stray too far from our minds. Staying up on her medical care is critical. We will continue to strive to give our daughter the best medical care possible regardless of the price tag. We just keep holding on to hope that a cure will be found. In the meantime, we take it one day at a time.

While we breathe, we hope.  Two thumbs up!

While we breathe, we hope. Two thumbs up!

In the last 3 years since Emma’s diagnosis we have found grace in the darkness. We have learned to live a “new” reality, to take advantage of every good, surgery free day. While we wait for a cure, we will continue to give Emma the best life possible between surgeries and love her and support her in every dream she has.

Such beauty and bravery

Such beauty and bravery

To close, I am going to ask that we all share this, press this, do whatever we can to help Emma reach her goal. She has shown so many of us the power of one….thanks again to Emma’s Mom for sharing her heart and Emma’s story.

Not Twenty Anymore…..

First, it’s official. I do have a heart!  (This is a joke between Lee and I, due mostly to my complete lack of a romantic heart.)  Again, though, I have a heart. I saw nuclear images of it!

A Heart

A Heart

Now, on to the blog…..I am not twenty anymore and if the current list of doctor appointments isn’t enough to remind me of that, a nuclear stress test was a well-played “gotcha” by those above wishing to remind me of said fact.  (We will leave out the new aches that seem to pop up daily now.)

“Stress Test” sounds simple enough.  No caffeine or chocolate for twenty-four hours and NPO after midnight the night before test…easy.  No other prep required.  No barium to drink, no cleansing process to deal with….piece of cake.  That should have been my first clue-the thought of “piece of cake.”  I’m that patient who can and does experience every side effect ever documented…..toss in what a lifetime of surgery does to your veins…and voila…..here comes my day.

My day began at check-in around 8:30.  I was soon taken to the back to start the IV that would be used to administer the drugs for the day. I was very forthcoming about my fear of IV’s and the scarring in my veins.  I strongly suggested ordering a local to help the process.  Thirty minutes later after an unsuccessful attempt to thread the IV and several tears down my face due to pain,  we stopped the process.  The person placing the IV did a great job-she was in on the first stick….it was me and my scarred veins that presented the issue.  Fast forward to the Cardiology RN being called in and finally the light-bulb going off that “we need a local if this is going to happen today”.  Call made to doctor for order, wait for it to come up to the office, and five minutes later-IV in.  (I cannot express in words the pain that is felt as an IV is thread past scar tissue.  Get a local.  Give a local.) Next she administered radioactive contrast and I began the one hour wait until first set of pictures (resting pictures).  At this point I was able to enjoy some water and wonderful crackers.

Finally!

Finally!

Resting pictures are then taken of your heart while laying on your back (very still) for about fifteen minutes.  Enjoy the little nap.  From there, in my case, it was on to the exercise room where I was given a lovely injection of Lexiscan.  (This was a chemically induced stress test.)  Before the injection, vitals were taken and I was told of the “possible” side effects.  Outside of the sudden cardiac event, I was able to enjoy every single one. (Sarcasm) Imagine running a mountain at full speed, realizing you need to stop for a break and somehow your legs don’t listen and you keep going…..that’s what Lexiscan does.  If that is anything close to what a heart attack feels like, I do not ever want one.  The shortness of breath, the pounding of your heart, the pain in your stomach, the leg cramps, the nausea (yes, I got a blue bag to hold), the room getting so incredibly hot….and then comes the headache.  Not a fan.  The bulk of the “stress” lasts about three minutes.  I felt pretty wiped out the rest of the day and it took a good while for the headache and stomach pain to fully leave.  Again, not a fan.

From there, you are monitored until your vitals return to normal and then you are given some caffeine to drink (and the Angels in Heaven rejoiced) and sent back to wait for about an hour.  At that time, another set of images is taken showing the “stressed heart.”

All said, from start to finish, it’s about a 3 1/2 hour process.

To quote my doctor today-“They let you leave the hospital, so there must not have been anything major seen.”  So, with that reassuring statement, the wait begins for the official report to be compiled by the cardiologist and sent over to my ordering MD.

There’s a strong family history of heart disease in my family tree, so there is a small part of me that does carry some concern, but I am thankful that this test is done and over and we will soon have a pretty good idea of the condition of my heart.  After so many surgeries for RRP, my heart health has been something of conversation before now.  What toll has my heart taken due to surgery?  What toll has a lifetime of strained breathing placed on my heart?  Now, we will have that snapshot.

I’m not a fan of Lexiscan and I hope to never meet her again.  She was not very nice to me!  I am a huge fan of Northwest and I am more than confident in the level of care we have with the Cardiology group there.  It’s nice knowing if something was to be wrong, I don’t have to travel to get a high level of care.

So, that’s my Nuclear Stress Test review and the announcement of the fact that I DO have a heart!!!  Now that heart may never be one that wants candles and flowers and all that romance stuff…but it’s there and it is beating!

(PS-how does one follow up a test to show the health of your heart?  Why with Freddy’s for dinner, of course.)

Friends and Laughs and Celebrations

Friend: a person you like or enjoy being around.

I like to think it’s those folks who make you feel as if your cup runneth over!  

friends jens

Last night, some of my “people” had the honor of attending a “End of Cancer” party for the daughter of one of the gals in our little posse.  As indicated in the picture above, we may have been slightly obsessed with the photo booth. This party was so much fun! This morning, I am awake just in awe of how blessed I am to be surrounded by so many amazing gals.  Not all my “people” are in these pictures, but a good many are.  This post is for anyone in my “people group.”  You know who you are and you are loved to the moon and back!  

There’s something so sweet about friendship.  Take a group of folks that are so incredibly different, yet so incredibly alike…toss them together through a series of events such as moves, children, life experiences….and boom!  “Your people.”  Then the sweet spot of getting a little bit older….having those friendships that sometimes cross into your different social groups, and having the friendships that may not and realizing it’s ok!  Those relationships that you can go months without a single word, then one day you talk and it’s as if you see one another daily.  Aaaahhh….the sweet spots of life.

Friends that have known you for thirty-five years, twenty years, fifteen years, one year, or just a few months…..life is fuller because of them.  They each add that little “something” you never knew was missing until they became part of “your people.”  I’ve always been of the mindset if you journey through this life with just one good friend..you are rich.  So, this morning, I am feeling a tad rich…and a whole lot of undeserving….”My people” are amazing and I am grateful for the laughter they bring to my life…and the fun…and the shoulders when life gets cruddy….I am grateful for the time spent over countless lunch dates….but most of all, I am grateful for folks who love me for me and I hope I do the same for them.  

So, if you are in the picture above, thanks for a night of laughs and thanks for NOT laughing at my feeble dancing attempt.  Sherry Clutter Raines, you will be happy to know that has not changed in thirty-five years. Kim can’t groove!  For those I love not in the pic….let’s make sure we get one the next time we are together!  Let’s let the world around us be that funny, crazy, cramped photo booth!

Jen's Party

Peace Out and don’t get stuck in a moment! 

K

Middle-Aged….What! When did this happen?

middle age

“According to Collins Dictionary, this is “… usually considered to occur approximately between the ages of 40 and 60”.[1] The current edition of the Oxford English Dictionary gives a similar definition but with a shorter span: “The period of life between young adulthood and old age, now usually regarded as between about forty-five and sixty.” The US Census lists middle age as including both the age categories 35 to 44 and 45 to 54, while prominent psychologist Erik Erikson saw it ending a little later and defines middle adulthood as between 40 and 65. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the standard diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association, used to define middle age as 40–60, but as of Edition IV (1994) revised the definition upwards to 45–65.” From the most reliable source on the internet-ask.com

Geez….thanks for this little tidbit of information that honestly was better left not defined!  Basically, I am coming to terms with the FACT I have been “middle-aged” for thirteen years, or eight years or three years (depending on the source)…..my fifteen year old self is screaming, “YOU ARE OLD.”  Who am I kidding, my twenty five year old self is screaming it too!  

Let’s be honest….it’s not like the signs weren’t all there.  It’s the tag that feels like a dagger to that inner part of you that is still clinging to that thirty year old self….at least my brain is. (Notice I did NOT say body…that ship has sailed and lost its way back to port!)  Let’s talk about some of the signs you are at the half-way point.

1. Progressives-it slowly sneaks up on you.  One day you are looking at a menu and then the next day you are sitting at the table attempting to be the Incredible Stretch Woman as  you force your arms to extend ten feet so you can read the special of the day.  They should rename your 45th birthday the day of readers!   (And the day you purchase a Bible with larger font.)  

2. Collecting-while some circles might want to call what happens with our change in mindset towards “knick-knacks”  hoarding 101, I prefer to call it “sentimental saving.”  Remember going to your grandparents house and seeing all the “knick-knacks” and you could not begin to understand why anyone would want curio cabinets full of “stuff” that ranged from the finest of china to the latest trinket at the local Cracker Barrel?  Get ready…..it’s coming to your casa too.  Now, some of this is actually a very good thing-it shows your sentimental side, which shows maturity!  You have reached a point where you cherish that odd little “blinged owl” because you remember who bought it, when and where.  It has a story.  See, that’s what we missed in our blazing 20’s and 30’s….some stuff that we viewed as “junk” had a story.  You hit that magic middle button and you crave “stories” around you!  

nick nack

3.  Muffin Tops-no, I am not referring to the delicious muffin top you can grab at Panera in the morning. It seems that every muffin you have eaten from childhood-“middle age day” never really left…..you wake up one morning and voila….muffin top.  You can exercise, you can do 1000 crunches daily…but they are still there.  One collective group.  Embrace it.  Sure, work on the jello aspect of your muffin top, but you earned the right to carry a little dessert around town with you!  

4.  Face Prep-it now takes you longer to prep your face than it does to apply makeup.  Product A-Exfoliate.  Product B-Cleanse.  Product C-Serum.  Product D-Moisture.  Product E-Skin Corrector.  Product F-Eye Cream. Product G-Primer…..are we there yet?  Repeat at night, but add in another step-Makeup Removal.  What everyone tries to tell you in the blazing 20’s and 30’s is the importance of sunscreen, good skin care, etc…but really….your skin was rockin’!  Why bother with so many steps, so much money when you see a reflection looking back of firm, even, bright skin with that beautiful, youthful glow????  Here it is-you hit this magic middle button and boom….sun spots, wrinkles around your eyes, smile lines, skin that looks like it  might have been baked at a slow 250 in the oven….and…your cheeks suddenly have decided to migrate south!  FACELIFT please!  

05 986 003

5.  Spanx-all I am going to say about this is they are an amazing invention that I’ve grown to love, but in that same thought process they are a curse to women……You see that woman walking past you in her cute little outfit and she just seems to not have a jiggle in the world?  Spanx.  Yes.  I learned just this year, the world is walking around in Spanx and no one is telling anyone!  Buy them now.  Allow twenty minutes extra to get dressed as you work to pull them on…but just know…everyone has them on.  

6.  Grace-this is the sweet stuff of getting “middle aged.”  Maybe it’s because of your life experiences or a greater understanding of life and your Christian walk…but you will have so much grace that you are so willing to give to others.  Granted, it’s not really “our grace”, but His through us…but you get the point.  Compassion, empathy….it seems like it’s easier to give.  

7. Oh this one is good!  You don’t care what others think! – Act crazy, wave the warms in the air during worship, wear something a little out there, run to the store with no makeup…..you have earned this sweet reward of the middle button-you no longer care what others think of you. You have finally gotten that lightbulb moment of “be you”….people will say what they are going to say no matter what you do…so “be you!”  

8.  And then comes the sweetest of sweetest signs you have reached the middle button of life….grandchildren.  Play, dream, imagine, spoil…..all those things you maybe didn’t have time for in your 30’s due to work or juggling three or four or five toddlers/elementary schedules/etc….now….time is your friend and you can just sit and enjoy.  

grandchildren

Middle-Age.  The physical pitfalls are real…and things will sag, droop, drop, wrinkle….but in the journey you appreciate the quirks of your own grandparents so much more and well, maybe we will all realize this stage is really the sweet spot of the journey.  After-all, we do have a built in muffin top now….

PS-remember thinking how dusty  your grandparents house was sometimes?  Here’s the scoop-YOU CAN’T SEE THE DUST!  It’s a beautiful thing! 🙂  

Dreams, Goals and the word “Happy”

lennon quote

 

My husband began his final leg of his senior year of college yesterday.  Two years of work towards completion of a journey started long ago is almost finished.  My son began his junior year of college a week ago.  Several friends have children starting their first year of grade school, high school, college this year and all of these Instagram pictures and Facebook status updates regarding these events and updates regarding fighting this or that life obstacle has brought me to today…..Goals, Dreams and the word “Happy.”

Did John Lennon have it right?  That “when I grow up” should simply be the word “happy?”  I hear the words coming out of my almost four year old granddaughter, and not a single word about her life or dreams has anything to do with money or material items-it’s simply “will you read to me, will you play with me, let’s go outside, etc…” No goal is too big, no dream too wild as our children enter the world of education ready to learn and simply have “good days.”  Happy days.  Where in the journey do dreams/goals get crushed, or do we become so focused on the paycheck or what others may think of our goal/dream that we forget to focus on “happy?”  Where does the phrase “you can’t do that” take hold?  

Back to the personal journey taking place here at Kim’s Casa.  Our family has always been one where you are told to dream….set goals so big that the world will think you have gone crazy.  Yes, you do have to be realistic based upon the talents you have been given by God and the work ethic that was instilled and somewhat genetically wired into you…but dream!  Find your passion and your gifts and let go of the worry of how big your paycheck will be down the road….life is about being happy-finding your joy so that God’s light shines through you.  Find what you love and figure out a way to create a living out of that!  So, here’s this fifty year old man getting ready to take that college diploma in his hand…..here’s this awesome kiddo working hard to carve his niche in the classical percussion world…dreaming big….not focused on all the “what ifs” but on the “Why Not!”  

success_and_happiness

You can scroll through Facebook on any given day and see post after post about “I can’t” or how this or that has “prevented” a dream or goal……and maybe it’s true…but it doesn’t have to remain that way.  We will not all travel to our dream/goal in the same manner and we will all certainly have detours that take us off that road and then we have to find our way back….but that’s just it….find your way back.  Don’t let life and it’s adversity keep you from finding your “happy.”  And don’t let another person define what your “happy” is.  

I have RRP….and it has altered what I probably had in mind for my life course…..but in that rollercoaster…there are still goals, dreams and my personal “happy.”  So, don’t let life or the world around you stop you!  If a fifty year old man who made C’s and D’s back in the day on his first college journey can be looking at graduating today with honors….if a kid who has taken a love of music and figured out how to make that his life path can find happy……if that kid who is told of all the things that they can’t do because of a certain disability or disease can go on to run a major company or become a doctor…..what’s stopping you or me other than you or me?  

Let’s get out there and dream big!  God’s that big…so why not dream that big!

matthew west.

Peace out for today…..and cotton candy grape post is coming!

Don’t get stuck in a moment….Kim

 

 

Empty Nest…it’s for the birds.

Four cups of coffee so far today and I could still crawl back in bed for a long summer nap…..but alas….I can never sleep during the day (Unless near death from the latest plague I picked up from the grands-AKA walking petri dishes….. or the shopping cart at the grocery store….).  So, today we are going to chat about the empty nest….because that empty nest is the reason for this fatigue today…or maybe it’s the food choices made while traveling ….but who doesn’t need a candy bar or two or three on a road trip????  We moved our son back into college this weekend…year three.  

Empty Nest is that season of life where all the birdies are flown off to college/life and you are left with empty rooms, quiet spaces and a much smaller grocery bill.  You know. that season you begged for as they were kiddos who couldn’t make it to the bathroom when they had a stomach bug, or the days they were screaming for no reason other than to hear the sound of their voice?  Maybe it was the day you begged for graduation to come quickly so you could take a bath in peace again….no matter the outcome…we have all been there done that on wishing time away during those super hard days of parenting.  And then it comes.  That day.  

I have to say that the first year was probably the easiest for this nest.  You get so caught up in their excitement over the entire process, you honestly don’t realize what’s barreling down the tracks at warp speed.  Every box, tote, shopping list is another adventure…a new experience to share.  The day comes to load the cars and off you go.  (In our case, the first year was a college 23 hours away…so most of it was loaded into boxes for Fed Ex or purchased upon arrival.) You arrive and it’s still honestly ok.  Your chick is kinda starting to freak out over the whole…wait a minute…this is happening and looks to you for those moments of assurance and confidence only the owner of the nest can provide at that time.  Life is still pretty rosy in the nest.  Unpack, set up, attend various parent events for first year students and then off to the house you go while the student begins year one.  Still ok….because for the masses, most of the kiddos are less than two to three hours away…easy to visit on weekends and such.  It’s like they are at camp.  (A very expensive camp!)  We had that version with kiddo one, but kiddo two was off to far away lands…..

And this is where my nest begins……prior to our last kiddo loading up boxes to begin their adventure outside of our nest, we had already experienced two summers of this kiddo being gone.  Far, far away…..he had played with BUTI in western MA and it meant sending him off on a plane for six weeks, with maybe one visit by us all summer.  Freshman year off to Boston University this kiddo went.  Home for the holidays was it….and maybe one parent visit up to Boston during the semester.  Hard.  For the sophomore year, a transfer to Nashville to Belmont was in order.  Boston, the city, was amazing.  It treated my kiddo well and in return my kiddo fell in love with all it offers.  A transfer was still the right thing in this season for him.  So, we go from a plane ride away to a nine hour drive away…..I was giddy thinking how much better this would be for this Momma Bird.  Fail.  It’s still hard.  And today, we start year three of the empty nest…..with our kiddo being gone all summer playing in the Aspen Music Festival, we honestly had about 48 hours with him in the past nine weeks…and then it was goodbye again.  I dislike goodbyes.  

I’ve heard people chat about how much they love this phase of their life.  I just feel unemployed.  My job was raising my kiddos….and that job, for the most part, is now over.  I think about what is truly missing in our nest now…and it’s those day to day interactions.  Hearing about this or that event….being a connected part to their world.  I am so thankful for Facebook, Face time and texting.  The world does seem a tad bit smaller than I am sure it did to parents twenty years ago….but it’s still an empty nest.  The bedrooms are empty.  The chair is vacant at dinner.  Your heart feels bigger and fuller for all that you see them accomplishing, but it also feels a tad bit empty over that piece not being there to say good-night to in person.  Empty nest-it’s for the birds…….

Don’t misunderstand me….I am beyond thrilled at this journey my kiddos are on in life.  I am so thankful that no dream was too big to go after….and that my last kiddo was so full of confidence and adventure that no distance was too far in order to make his dreams come true.  I cheer that part of the empty nest.  I just wish the other part didn’t go by so quickly.  In the blink of an eye…it was over.  

So, today, I sit here in full understanding of being told to “number their days” as they are few.  Then they are off to tackle the world in their own incredible individual way.  It’s just quiet.  I miss Spongebob blaring from the TV. I miss the unmade bed.  I miss cooking for my baby birds.  I miss all of it.  Being their Mom was truly the greatest gift God ever gave to me…and that was my sole job for over twenty years…..and that job is completed.  Contract fulfilled.  Year three has started and before I blink again, it will be time to pack up this last kiddo and make the move to graduate school…in a town far, far away again.  

Raising kiddos is hard.  There are days you dream of the nest being empty and all the freedom you will have.  The empty nest comes…..and you realize that those moments of insanity were some of the most joyous days of your life.  The days of what matters…..life…the stuff that makes up life and the memories you store inside your heart.  

So, embrace that third cup of spilled milk on the new carpet…..cherish those fights between siblings that even the UN could not mediate….breathe in…breathe out….and know that the days are numbered and the last one comes before you are ready….and then it’s done.  

To my Megzie and my own Harry Potter….you are loved to the moon and back and back again…..and I am so proud of you having such strong wings!  

My Harry Potter…

facebook hug josh and me

What In The World Have I Started!

The lightbulb moment when you realize you have so much to say, but are often limited in what you do say due to limitations both physically and well….socially.  Not to say this isn’t a bad thing, as keeping my mouth closed and ears open probably serves me far greater of a purpose than letting everything flow out of my mouth.  Yet, I do know that for some crazy reason that I do not understand, I have been led (after months of saying, no God, I don’t think so) to sit here typing my first entry.  Maybe there’s one person sitting somewhere out there that I am to reach….probably will be the only follower I have, but hey, what’s that they say about if you have just one friend you are richly blessed???  Before I go any further, let me add that if you are a member of the grammar police, please take off your badge when reading anything I may type.  I will likely type the way the words are running around in my brain, which let me tell ya, can be a very scattered place most days!  

So, just what pushed me over that edge to enter the world of blogging that I so don’t understand and honestly, avoid at all costs most days?  Was it a weekend at Women of Faith?  Was it a Facebook post on the RRP Support page by someone feeling so incredibly lost and angry at a God that would do this to her?  Was it sitting in a room full of people secretly wishing my voice could be heard?  Was it eating a tasty dish that I wanted to share with the world?  Was it my Mommy ego that wanted to post a picture of my amazing kiddos, cause well, they are…or was it the Mimi in me who had something to share about empty nest life, life with grandchildren and life with a child still in college?  I have no idea!!!  

My story is winding and ever changing……but it’s my story and my journey and if you find it to be something worthwhile in your crazy schedule, welcome!  I’m not going to sell you anything.  I may brag about a book or event or something that I find to be to good not to share, but this will not be a self-promotion site where you have to scroll through three paragraphs of sales to get to what’s happening on a given day.  That’s great for some folks, but just not my cup of tea.  

So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and let’s see where this thing goes.  For today, this is it.  Just creating this is such a leap of faith for me……………and I’m not that tall, so any leap is huge. 

I’ll try to do this a couple times a week, but it may be more..it may be less….whatever I feel led to do.  It’s not about me…it’s about Him and what He wants me to use this for.  So, that’s all for today.  I think we may go to my RRP story first, but I need much more coffee to start that one….and well, it’s only been a one cup morning!  

K

“Don’t get stuck in a moment.”