December 30, 2004

Pray

Please remember to say a prayer today for the masses of people still fighting for their lives. The number of dead continues to rise and will do so in the coming days and weeks. If you can afford to help in a tangible way, here is a list of relief organizations you can contact.

December 28, 2004

Drip, drip, drip

The last of the ice is finally melting away with the sun's warm rays this morning. I'm glad. I don't like ice. Give me snow any day, just keep the ice to yourself, thank you very much.

Now that the fun and excitement of new toys has faded, we are slowly getting back to our routine. Well, sort of. My personal routine won't return to normal until next week when Emily returns to school.

I'm registered for school! I will start in a couple of weeks. I will do all classes totally online, so I won't have the worry of finding a babysitter for Elijah. I'm looking forward to doing this.

I suppose that's all I know right now. Nothing new going on here. Now I'm off to enjoy my time with Robert!

December 26, 2004

Mass destruction

Christmas is over, now the real fun begins--cleaning.

Our living room is covered with toys. We cleared a path large enough to walk through last night. Of course, there is church this morning and tonight so I'm sure the cleaning will be put off one more day.

Emily's bedroom is tiny, so her Strawberry Shortcake house consumes it. She doesn't care though. She's just happy that she got her Strawberry Shortcake house. Along with her Barbies, Barbie shopping cash register, clothes, boots, coloring books and markers, Strawberry Shortcake radio and cds (along with a lot more that I can't even remember)...she's a happy girl.

Elijah got lots of little trucks, trains, and many other noise-makers. He didn't get to play with much of it last night because he crashed when we got home. I'm sure our house will be filled with lots of bells, whistles and music this morning as he discovers all his new treasures.

I'm happy it's over. It was a nice Christmas, but the tree will come down either today or tomorrow.

I hope you had a fabulous one as well!!

December 23, 2004

Happy Holidays!

Emily couldn't wait, so we had our family Christmas this morning. I was so busy enjoying the "show" that I didn't get many pictures, but here are the few I did manage to snap.


Emily & Elijah
Emily & Elijah


Emily
Emily


Emily, Eli, & Robert
Emily, Elijah & Robert


Robert & Elijah
Robert & Elijah


Robert
Robert


Robert & his toy
Robert & his big boy toy

December 20, 2004

Christmas

What makes Christmas special to you?

It isn't in the gifts,
wrapped in neat packages
with pretty ribbon and bows.

It isn't in the tinsel,
that drips from the evergreen
Or in the lights
that wink from the tips of branches.

It isn't in the carols,
being sung by a choir
Or the marshmallows being roasted
over a blazing fire.

Christmas is
...memories
...happiness
...joy
...family
...health
...togetherness
...home
...peace
...love

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU AND YOURS!!

December 18, 2004

YIPPEE!!

I got an early Christmas present yesterday--home networking with wireless internet access. I suppose I'm behind the times, but we never needed networking up to this point. Now Emily can play on the desktop while I'm writing, reading, blogging online from my favorite chair. :)

December 16, 2004

Self-care Quiz

How good are you at taking care of yourself?

In the December issue of Encouraging Coach's newsletter, there is a terrific article on self-care. This is a gentle reminder to all you women that self-care does not equal to selfishness. Self-care is essential to our health and well being. Many times we cram ourselves down to the bottom of our list of priorities. I invite you to read this article, take her quiz, then apply the action plan she suggests.

Lessons

My troubles turned out all for the best-they forced me to learn from [God's] textbook.
--Psalm 119:71 (The Message)


It is terribly easy to become so enthralled in our problems that we lose sight of lessons to be learned. I believe that everything happens for a reason, which means I can learn something from everything.

I must admit that the latest "trial" I have been going through has been tough. So much so that I resorted to folding my arms across my chest, sticking out my bottom lip, and pouting over it.

I've been hurt that my husband was called to active duty. While I am proud of him for protecting our rights and country, it is difficult to raise two small children alone while waiting for the day he returns home to us. And I've been kicking and screaming ever since he left.

My little sister slapped me back into reality a couple of days ago. I don't think she realized it (still may not), but she did. She relayed an experience that she's been going through to me. She said she realized that she hadn't been acting like a spoiled child. When she said that, my lightbulb came on.

Even in the midst of troubles, God did promise that He will never leave me. Oh, I may pout and throw a temper tantrum, but He's still right there all along. He didn't promise me that this road would be easy. But He did say that I wouldn't have to travel it alone.

Now that my eyes are opened, I can hardly wait to see what lessons I will learn from God's textbook.

December 15, 2004

Joy in the Journey

"We need deliberately to call to mind the joys of our journey."
--George A. Buttrick


During one of my sessions with Lynn, the topic of our conversation was how I view everything as black or white.

"There's no in between with you, Hope," she declared. "Everything is either black or white."

Suddenly it dawned on me. While I lived this daily, hearing the words come from someone else was an eye-opener.

The perfectionist in me only allowed me to view every stage of my life as either a failure or a success. And in that bleary way of reasoning, I believed that most of my life was a failure.

"You have to see these things in a different way," Lynn admonished me. "These are not failures, but rather journeys. Your life is a journey. So what you didn't finish college! What did you learn from that?"

I couldn't see the forest for the trees. My life, which should have been a celebration of joy, had only been a lists of all the things I'd done wrong or things I'd never completed.

I never once stopped to recognize the fact that I was brave enough to try all these things and go through the wonderful experiences. Instead, I chose to focus on the negative aspect and berate myself for it.

In everything we do, we should never lose focus of the joy in it. Life is not a destination, but rather a journey. Our journey is filled with ups and downs. In the end, we should reflect and smile, knowing that we lived joyfully through the journey.

December 13, 2004

You just never know...

Emily stayed at church yesterday afternoon to practice for the children's Christmas play next Sunday night. After returning home, she immediately kicked off her shoes then proceeded to dance around the living room while singing songs from the play.

At first, I wasn't really paying attention. Singing and dancing (dramatically) is quite normal for her every day. Suddenly though, I was yanked to full attention when I heard her sing:

"Something's up down in Bethlehem,
Something's up down in Bethlehem,
What the h*ll is going on?"


WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!

When I finally recovered from shock and was able to lift my jaw from the floor, I couldn't stop laughing. Of course, not knowing what she was singing but thinking that she was delightfully funny because I was laughing at her, Emily continued in this little ballad.

Needless to say, we immediately went to one of the ladies in charge as soon as we got to church last night to correct the somewhat misconstrued line. Hopefully she'll be able to remember the correct words next Sunday night!!

December 12, 2004

Must Read

Every now and again I happen upon a blog entry elsewhere that touches my heart in a special way. This is one of these. When you have a few minutes today, please go visit Fallible.com and read her latest entry entitled, "Angel Eyes". You'll see why it warmed my heart once you've read it.
Warning: Tissue may be required!

December 11, 2004

Busy Bee

Things have been so crazy around here that I haven't found time to blog. So I'm taking that moment now. My blogging may be scarce the next couple of weeks. But then, I'm sure you will probably be a busy little bee, too!

I've been doing a lot of reading lately. I have a ton of books to be read that have been multiplying like rabbits. I have been making time for myself each day for reading. Great relaxing time!

I'm also thinking of introducing my daughter, Emily, to journaling very soon. She's very creative and has always loved to write and draw. I'll take her shopping for her own special journal, then explain to her what a "journal" is. Then I think it would be wonderful for us to journal together every evening after Elijah goes to bed. That would be our own special time together. I think she would love it, and I know I would!

December 09, 2004

I Dare You!

I have always suffered with low self-esteem. Around the time I turned 19, I had finally worked myself out of the negative thought patterns and turned myself into a courageous, self-assured young lady who wasn't afraid to say or do anything. Somehow over the last six or seven years, though, I managed to lose myself in the process of getting married and having a family.

Over this past year, I worked hard at regaining my self-identity. I struggled long and hard with redefining myself as a woman, not just a wife and mother. I have dreams and desires, just as my husband and children do. Yet, I had been stuck in a thought process that told me I didn't deserve to have any part of that happiness or fulfillment until my children are grown.

It amazes me at how many other women feel this very same way. Many of us put our lives on the back burner for others. And then we wonder why we struggle with feelings of unworthiness, self-doubt and fear. Somewhere, somehow, we must stop this cycle of self-abuse.

The fact of the matter is nobody but you or I can do it. We cannot sit around and wait for external acceptance. That will never satisfy us.

Dare to go deep within yourself. Find that inner peace. Rediscover love and acceptance for yourself. Allow yourself to live in the moment without feeling the burden of what someone may (or may not) say, think or feel about you. It's your life--just BE!

December 08, 2004

Changes comin' real soon

After lots of pondering and such, I have decided to make more changes to my website. These changes will most likely take place in January. I have revamped the entire website to reflect my writing abilities. My blog isn't going anywhere. I'm just going to add my clips, more free articles, etc.

I have already revamped all pages and everything is ready to go, but I like my Santa Claus that's up right now, so he will stay until after Christmas. I will probably play around with my blog and change just this page from time to time, but the rest of my website will stay the same when the new layout arrives. :)

December 07, 2004

"10 Things BETWEEN You and a Great Life"

By Kathy Gates, Professional Life Coach

1. Unfinished business: Free yourself from the past by identifying and cleaning up your unfinished business. Call an end to whatever you started - a project, a diet, a feud, a commitment - by dumping it, delegating it, or doing it.

2. Ignoring the Present: Today is a result of all the Today’s that came before it. A well lived present will naturally produce wonderful future. Save a dollar today, and you’ll have a dollar tomorrow. Eat 500 calories less today, and you’ll lose weight tomorrow. Only what you do TODAY can affect tomorrow.

3. No Priorities: Never trade what you want at the moment for what you want most. If you just react to the next thing that gets your attention, you’ll never have enough time for what is important. Don’t schedule your time around your priorities. Schedule your priorities around your time.

4. Betraying yourself: Telling lies to yourself is the most hurtful form of disrespect. Write out the ways in which you have been untruthful to yourself, and how you can change that. “I will no longer pretend that what I put into my mouth doesn’t matter.” “I will no longer pretend that overspending my budget is ok.”

5. People Pleasing: If you always say yes even when you want to say no, you will find yourself unhappily going through the motions of living, giving control of your time, energy, and spirit to anyone who asks for it. Free yourself by learning to quietly assert your boundaries.

6. Accepting Energy Drainers: Everyday crisis and problems ARE NOT “just the way it is”. Choose to put life on your schedule. Make a conscious choice to simplify your tasks, organize your environment, and set up your life to support how you want to live.

7. Complaining Instead Of Asking: You will only get as much as you ask for. Complaining is passive, not active. Choose to consciously educate people on what you need by making a request instead of complaining.

8. Low Reserves: Without reserves to back you up, you will make decisions based on your LACK…lack of money, lack of time, lack of energy. And that will cause you to make mistakes, and miss opportunities. Systematically eliminate things from your life until you have a built-in reserve of time and money; then build from there.

9. Hiding your weakness: Let your weakness help you be more truthful. Educate people. “I’m really impatient; please let me know if I skip over something you don’t understand.” “I’m not good with secrets; please don’t tell me anything that you don’t want me to repeat.”

10. Wishing Instead of Planning: START! Do something! If you just sit around *wishing* that things would be better, it’s not likely that they ever will be. As my mother used to say, “wish in one hand, pour peas in the other…see which fills up faster.” Create a plan, and get into action.


Life Coach Kathy Gates specializes in helping people who are ready to create a simpler, less stressful, more joyful and meaningful lifestyle. Visit www.reallifecoach.com to learn more.

Reflection

It's that time of year again. Time for reflecting on what I accomplished in 2004. I have certainly come a long way, and yet have so much farther to go. While I did accomplish some of the goals I set for myself this year, I don't feel that I worked hard enough on the major ones that really matter to me.

Over the next two weeks, I will be concentrating on wrapping up lots of loose ends. My desire is to begin the new year with a fresh perspective and clean slate. While I have many physical goals that I will be working on in 2005, one of my main personal goals is to say, "No" more often. I have always had this terrible leech on my back that made me say, "Yes" even when I didn't want to. I'm tired of being a People Pleaser.

I have a feeling that once I begin being me some of my friends and family aren't going to know what to think. I think some of them may get mad at me. Some may stop talking to me. Regardless of what happens, it's time to get my house in order. I'm tired of living under this cloud of guilt and self-doubt.

Good riddance to the me that lives to please everyone else! Hello to the new me, the real me!

December 05, 2004

O Christmas Tree

We decorated the tree tonight. Emily did most of it all by herself. As you can see in the pictures, she's proud of her work. And she should be. She did an excellent job.

We strung little army men and put them on the tree, too, but you can't see them because they're blending in with the tree. I should have bought bigger men. Anyway, this is our special "Daddy tree" this year. Green and gold.

Emily decorates the tree

Em decorates

Em's pretty tree

December 03, 2004

Weekend getaway and other thoughts

I'm going to go see Robert this weekend! Yay! Actually, I'm leaving today. I'm so excited! I will get an entire weekend with my sweetie pie, minus two kiddies (one of which will be very mad at me if she finds out!). I have earned this break from the children and with my husband. I'm going to live it up to the fullest!!




I have a hero. I just realized this morning. I absolutely adore Shirley Jump. Not only does she write fun books, but she is just as much a down-to-earth person as you and I.

In the few years I've known her, I watched as she became a published author of several books. I was there the second her first book hit the shelf, grabbing it up and announcing to everyone in the store, "I know this lady!" And then for the second and the third....

I have a binder filled to overflowing with valuable information from Shirley on writing. I print out a lot of her emails from Mom Writers because they are filled with such nuggets of gold that I fear I will not remember it all if I don't save it somewhere. This slowly turned into my "Shirley's Writing Advice" book that I keep handy as a reference.

She is an encouragement and inspiration to me. She makes me see and believe that I can do anything I want, if I just keep persisting and never give up. She's my hero! :)

December 01, 2004

Winter Shop

My scarves shop is open and ready for business!! I finally figured a way around my camera problems. I have 7 scarves ready to warm some necks! Here's the link: http://www.hopewilbanks.com/scarves/

I will update and add more as I get them done.