Thursday, June 25, 2015

4H Projects

     I love going to the fair (county fair and state fair both) to see the 4H projects.  I was never in 4H, but it is something I always wanted to do.  Delainey is very lucky to be in an active 4H group.  Her club is a large group of kids from elementary school to high school.  They have monthly meetings that she loves going to each month.  I enjoy watching her interact with the other members during activity times.

     Last year, D did "mini-4H", which is just the way it sounds, mini.  Projects are smaller, there is no paperwork involved, and everyone gets a ribbon.  This is her first year in the big leagues.  She wanted to do four projects...until she realized how much paperwork was involved in the process.  At that point she was already signed up and we decided that she needed to honor that commitment.  So we began to work...and by we, I mean Delainey did the work while we nagged her to do it.  She did a scrapbook project, two photography projects, and a collection of sea shells.

     D started her scrapbook project first.  She got online to find the best ways to make scrapbook pages, looked at different layouts, went shopping for supplies, and actually listened to me (I scrap, but in a very simple way).  It was a very time consuming process for her with a lot of researching before she started working.  Once she started working on her pages, it was even more time consuming because she wanted everything just right.  She started with one plan and ended up in a different direction with her pages, but the end result was really nice!  I see this scrapbook being entered into the fair in future years!

     Her next two projects were a love that she shares with her dad, photography.  She spent several days taking pictures to get just the right shots for her projects.  I have grey hair to show just how hard she worked on those pictures.  We don't have a great editing system and our printer is iffy, so she edited the photos on Shutterfly.  And she hated the process...but she stuck with it, deciding which pictures were fair worthy and which were just okay.  She didn't pick the pictures that Jim and I would have, but we were not the ones doing the projects.  The next step was deciding on her layouts for the posters.  Another long process.  There are only so many ways to put 10 photos on a board along with lettering, but she did finally come up with a solution.  Again, I am proud of how hard she worked to do these two projects.  I think this is an area that Delainey will continue to explore.  I would love to get she and Jim a class that they could take together to learn more about digital photography (note to self...this would be a great Christmas gift for them).

     Her shell collection was by far her least favorite.  She had to research the names of the shells, label each one and then on her sheet, she had to tell where and when the shells were found.  She also had to assign a monetary value to the collection.  I love what she wrote about that....she listed each shell as $0 value, but the total price of the collection was priceless to her.  While she enjoys collecting many things, she didn't enjoy the paperwork aspect of this project at all.  I love the shells and since we love to vacation by the beach (any beach), I know the collection will grow.  I am just not sure if she will continue to show it at the fair.

     I have enjoyed watching the progress of Delainey through these projects.  It was a struggle at times, but Jim and I let D struggle through the projects.  They are her work, done by her, with a little (sometimes more than a little) nagging done by us.  We (Jim and I) are not in 4H, Delainey is. She did the work, she earned the results and the results were pretty impressive to red ribbon, two blue ribbons, and a champion!  We are the proud parents...she is the proud 4H member.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day

      Growing up, I never felt connected to Father's Day.  I grew up without a biological father.  He made a choice to live his life in a way that didn't include me.  The last time that I saw him I was six.  He died when I was in my mid-twenties.  He lost out on knowing me, but it has taken a long time for me to truly know that the loss was his, not mine.  I don't tell the story of my father often, because I am not looking for sympathy, it is just part of my story.  I spent time in my younger days wondering why I wasn't enough, but I know that it was a lacking in him that caused him not to be present in my life, not in me.  I am pretty sure that marrying my ex-husband was in part due to an absent father.  My ex was tall and a little goofy looking, like photos I have seen of my father...and even more, he was emotionally distant, just like my father.  

     One of the first things that attracted me to Jim while we were still getting to know each other, was the importance of his children.  He carried pictures of the boys with him and showed them off frequently.  He told stories about Shane and Dylan all the time.  I knew all sorts of things about them before I ever met them.  Jim has always worked retail, which means long hours, including weekends and evenings.  When the boys were involved in sports and music, it meant that when he wasn't working, we were at those events.  There were times that I wanted my new husband to myself (I know, selfishness), but with his limited free time, we were at the events of the boys.  Honestly, I wouldn't change those days.  I miss the times of sitting at the ballparks all day, every Saturday, rain or shine, hot or cold.  Those are the things that dads do.  

     I know that there are people today who are not looking forward to the day.  There are the people like me who grew up with a father.  How do you spend the day when everyone else is talking about their awesome fathers and you never experienced that?  There are others who had a wonderful father, but are spending the day without him because he is now deceased.  How do you comfort someone who is mourning while others are celebrating?  There are the men that would love to celebrate the day, but have not had the opportunity to be fathers. 

     Today, I will spend time praying for people like me who grew up with an absent father.  I pray that they have a man who was able to fill that role in their lives. I will pray for those who are struggling today.  I know several people who spend this day in sadness, missing the father that they have lost.  For some, it is the first Father's Day without their father, for others it has been years, but the pain is still fresh.  I don't know their pain, but I know that it is a real and true thing for them.  I also pray for the men that would love to be a father, but for whatever reason, have not been given that chance.  

     Today, I will spend time thanking God for the men like Jim...who are good father's to their children.  I will celebrate the men that are step-fathers to children that are theirs through marriage.  Step-fathers are special people who not only marry the woman that they love, but promise to love her children as well.  I will say a pray of thanksgiving for the men who act as fathers to the fatherless.  Those men see a need in a child and willingly add that child to their life.  I was lucky enough to have several men like that in my life.  Those men will be on my prayer list today!

     So on this day that is all about fathers...celebrate what you have.  If you have memories of an awesome father, share them with someone.  If you have men who made an impact in your life, tell them.  If you know someone who is an awesome father, let them know.  If you are struggling, know that I am praying for you today.  

     Happy Father's Day to all those men who are making a positive impact on a child today.  
Today, I celebrate all that you do!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Card Lady

     The Card Lady...we all know one.  That person who seems to always find the exact right card for each person, for each occasion.  Your fish drowned?  She has a card for that.  New house or job?  Yep, card for that as well.  Birthdays and anniversaries are always remembered by the Card Lady...and they are always on time, never late.  Sometimes the Card Lady sends a card just to say hello.  And her cards always bring such smiles when they are received!

     I have always envied the Card Ladies in my life.  I never remember dates.  I remember vaguely when events happen...I mostly know if someone has a birthday in June, but I have no idea what the date could be.  Facebook has made it even worse.  There are dates I should remember, but forget until I see the notification that it is an important birthday.  I am a slacker.  Everyone knows that about me.  I generally send cards late, if at all.  My poor mom got her birthday card late...again.

     The Card Ladies always seem to have a supply of cards at the ready, all the time.  I seem to run out to get a card at the last minute all the time.  And then I have to take what I can find, even if it isn't the "perfect" card!  I have been known to get a card and then forget to send it all together (again, my mom has a Mother's Day card for next year already).  Or, I buy the card and can't find it when it is time to send it.  Or I don't have the address that I need to send a card.

     The Card Ladies are just more organised than me.  I know that I can do better...I know it!  I have a binder with space for cards...I have had it for a long time.  In fact, there are cards in the binder, I just haven't sent them because I forget the dates.  I have a smart phone now...I can put those important dates in my phone.  I can set alarms.  I work at a store that sells cards, how hard can it be to buy cards?  I have stamps at home (yes, they are left over from Christmas, but they still work for cards of any kind).  So I am out of excuses, it's time for me to become one of the Card Ladies that we all love so much!

     Just don't hold your breathe, it might take me a minute or two to get your card in the mail.

Happy Camper

     Last Sunday, Delainey went to camp.  This is her second year at the camp, so she wasn't afraid of the unknown.  She was looking forward to seeing fellow campers and directors.  She was looking forward to climbing the rock wall and swimming.  She talked nonstop about canoeing and crafts.  She was excited!
     As we drove to the camp, she cried....all the way there.  Jim and I were ready to turn the car around and go home to keep our baby from crying.  It wasn't big sobbing type of cry, it was the silent, tears rolling down her face type of cry.  It was the type of cry that breaks my heart when I see my baby cry like that.  We tried to talk through her tears, but they kept coming.  It wasn't so much that she didn't want to go to camp, it was that she was going to miss us.

     It's no secret that Jim, Delainey, and I are close.  We don't have family near us, so we rely on each other pretty heavily.  We spend most of our free time together.  I understand how she feels about missing us, because I knew that we will miss her as well.  But, we all need time away...time to grow, explore, relax, be with friends.  And as D grows, there will be more time away from us...and there will be a time that we miss her more than she misses us, which is how things should be in life.

     So, we didn't turn around.  We kept driving to camp.  And she kept crying.  We would reach around and hold her hand...and she would squeeze.  I know that Jim's heart was week is hard on him.  Then we pulled into camp.  We were met at the gate by some of the counselors, waving and smiling.  And the tears stopped.  We looked back and our baby was smiling, a big smile with her entire face!

     We went to registration, and I felt like my baby was Norm on the tv show Cheers.  Everyone was saying her name, hugging her and welcoming her to camp.  She took her popsicle, got her hugs, and the tears were forgotten.  When it was time for her to go off with the rest of the campers, she was ready.  Jim and I got hugs and she happily went off.  That was when I was ready to grab her and take her home with me, because my tears were ready to start.

     Jim and I took a tour of the camp and got to see her cabin (which was different than last year).  It is a lovely camp, cared for by people who care about the camp and the campers.  It is the type of camp I would love to have gone to as a child.  Our tour ended and we walked back to our car.  Then we heard a sound that made us smile...a belly laugh from our girl.  She saw us, gave us a little wave, and then went back to her game.  All would be well for the week!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Share Your Story!

     "Tell it to your children,
and let your children tell it their children,
and their children to the next generation."
Joel 1:3

     A few weeks ago, I attended the 2015 Indiana Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church as a representative of my church.  The theme for the conference was "Share Your Story".  Several people shared their stories with everyone.  Stories of new churches starting, stories of ordination of new pastors, stories of retiring pastors, stories of why we were at Conference.  We were all encouraged to share our stories with each other.  We got stickers to wear that say "I have a story to tell".  Of course, if you had that sticker on, it meant the someone might ask you what's your story!

     I overheard several people saying the same thing that I was thinking.  Do I have a story?  

     Jim and I  have been watching the TV miniseries called AD and are attending a Bible study based on the show. One of the featured people is Saul.  Saul has a story.  He once persecuted the early Christians.  One the way to Damascus, he spoke with Jesus and was blinded.  After three days, his sight was restored and he become filled with the Holy Spirit.  Saul spread the story of Jesus throughout many places.  Thar's a story!  Another "big" story is the one that Lazarus had to tell.  Lazarus died.  Jesus wept at the death of Lazarus.  And then Jesus raised him from the dead.  What a story!  Those men, they had BIG stories to tell.  

     The Bible is filled with people who have stories, really big stories.  But there are also small stories that are just as important.  People who lived their lives doing what God wanted them to do.  Sharing the ordinary day to day things just like we do now.  There are moments in life that we can look at and say, yep, that was all God.  It's those God-moments that are part of our story that we need to share.Those moments that you don't think are a big deal, but might be a big deal to someone else.

     I have a friend who shares of abuse that she suffered as a child.  Another who shares her story of addiction.  Another friend who shares her journey to find wellness in her life.  Another who shares his struggle through the loss of a loved one.  Another who shares the story of having a special needs child. Those people share their stories so that others will know they are not alone.  They share their stories to inspire others.  They share their stories to inform others.  They share their stories to connect with others. They share their stories to help them heal.  

     We all have a story to what's your story?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

12 Years

     Twelve years ago today, I began a new chapter in my life once again.  I was getting ready to get married.  I really never thought that I would get married a second time.  I believe that marriage is forever.  My first marriage ended...I tried to "fix" it, but marriage takes two, one person can't fix a broken marriage.  I decided at that point, I was done with marriage.  I truly believe that everyone should be married once, but that was my limit.   And then I met Jim....

     I met Jim at work.  It wasn't love at first sight...although I can remember our first conversation (not romantic at all, he asked me to help him get carts from the parking lot).  He was truly a nice guy.  We talked and got to know each other.  I respected the importance that he placed on his family.  He showed me pictures of his boys.  He was respectful when he spoke of his ex-wife.  He was a hard worker.  I began to look forward to our conversations.  And then one day we went to lunch together.

     Our lunch wasn't at a romantic location...seriously, Wendy's.  We each had a jr bacon cheeseburger (he had two), fries, and a coke.  But that lunch changed the course of our friendship.  We both knew that there was more to come.  We began to talk more, share more of our lives together, spend more time together.  And less than a year after that first lunch, we went to a little wedding chapel in Greenfield and got married.  We vowed before God, our family, and our friends to love each other through all that life brings us.

     Our marriage hasn't always been easy.  We have had ups and downs, times where we weren't sure that we would be together, but we have fought through those times.  We have been through a huge location change that was so hard on me...I am sure that it was really rough on Jim dealing with me during that time.  We have been through Jim's cancer.  We have the blessing of a daughter.  We are watching the boys grow into young men starting their own adventures in life.  We have the simple moments each day.

     The last twelve years have been a partnership of two people committed to making a life together.  It is a journey each day.  Our marriage is a choice that we made then, a choice that we make now, every single day.  It is not perfect...but there is no one that I would rather be imperfect with than Jim!  I am looking forward to each new day of our journey together.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

50---My Way

     Yesterday I turned 50.  I have been setting such high expectations for this milestone birthday.  My other milestone birthdays have just been like any other days.  When I turned 21, I didn't have any friends nearby to go to bars.  Instead, my best friend's parents fixed me dinner and took me out to the local watering hole for my first legal drink.  30 was just plain awful.  I literally could not say the word, instead I turned 20-10.  Seriously...and that's all I have to say about that.  40 was better than 30 (it would have to be), but I was still mentally and emotionally recovering from a miscarriage earlier in the year.  I have no idea what I did that day.  40 turned out to be a pretty good year for me as that was the year that Delainey was born.  In my mind, I deserved to have an memorable 50th.

     I started comparing my turning 50 to other people turning 50.  I know people who had huge parties, others who went to fancy events, and still others who went on grand vacations to celebrate.  I thought that was what I wanted.  But then I realised, that truly isn't me.  I don't want a party where I am the center of attention.  I am not a fancy person...I would have to buy a new outfit for a fancy occasion.  And a grand vacation isn't in our budget this year.  And that's when I realised that the important thing for me about turning 50 was to be able to spend time with my family.  So that's what we did.

     I had a marvelous day!  I woke up and did some laundry.  I fixed breakfast for my family.  And then like a herd of turtles, we were off!  We spent the day at Lincoln State Park.  We stopped and bought some groceries for the day...ham, cheese, fruit, snacks, and drinks.  As we stopped by the picnic area, we spotted a doe and her fawn, just watching from the edge of the woods.   Then we headed out for our hike.  It wasn't a long or hard hike, just under 2 miles, but this out of shape family enjoyed the walk.  Jim decided to climb to the top of the fire tower while D and I cheered him on from the bench.  By the time we got back to the car, we decided to take a drive around the park with the AC on to cool off.

     Jim brought his fishing gear, so he set off for a little quiet time to find a good fishing hole!  Jim loves to fish and doesn't do it nearly often enough.  D and I changed into our swimsuits and went to the beach area for some swim time.  D loved it.  She had a chance to practice some of her new moves that she has been learning at swim lessons.  The water was cool, but after our hike, it felt heavenly.  I am more of a wader in lake water, so that's what I did.  D and I found some small shells to add to our family collection of shells. After a quick shower and change, we found Jim and decided to visit the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial.

     The Memorial was a nice place.  We went in backwards and were tired, so it didn't seem cohesive to us.  After visiting the actual visitor center last, what we saw made more sense.  The state park has a very cool plaza that would, in my mind, fit in better at the national memorial, but who I am to judge!  D did get sworn in as a junior ranger after she completed an activity booklet about Lincoln.  It was a quick trip for us, but had we not been tired, would have been more interesting.

     We had dinner in Santa Claus, IN (Frosty's...good food and free mini-golf) and headed for home...the Predmore way, off the beaten path.  Jim programed our GPS for the shortest distance, which always takes us the winding, interesting way.  We drove through Ferdinand, which has a monastery and some pretty cool architecture.  We have decided that it could be worth a visit some day.  We continued down country roads that twisted and turned, all the while watching to be sure no critters ran into the car (we missed a fox that ran out in front of us).  We laughed and unwound from our day.

     I turned 50 yesterday, and I did it my way.  I didn't think about how other people celebrated.  I didn't worry about what others would think.  That's how I hope to live out the next year.  I want to spend my time not worrying what others think.  I want to enjoy my family not comparing us to other families.  And above all else, I want to live my life pleasing God.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Celebration Week!

     It is Celebration Week at our house.  We are celebrating very differently than what has become our norm.  This is usually the week we reserve for our "big" vacation of the year.  Last year, we went to Maine, a few years ago we celebrated our week in Disney, one year a cabin in Wisconsin.  This year, we are not on vacation this week.  I am not sure that I like being home for Celebration Week, but the celebrations will happen where ever we are!
     The first event we celebrate is Jim's birthday.  This year, we both worked on his birthday.  I feel bad about that.  There wasn't much of a party...just a homemade meal (Mexican) with some beer, cupcakes, and a few gifts.  Jim is such an awesome man and he deserves a huge celebration of his birth.  He works hard to support his family in a demanding job.  There aren't words to say that could ever express how much I love and appreciate him.  If everyone who loved and respected Jim all gathered together on his birthday, June 3 would be one of the biggest party days ever.

     The second event in our week long celebration is June 5, which is my birthday.  Normally, I am pretty low key about my birthday, but this year I have been pretty demanding.  I have wanted my 50th (yes, 50) to be special.  And yesterday, I realized that what I want most is just to spend the day with Jim and Delainey doing the normal things we always do together.  We are heading to a new to us state park for a day of hiking, picnicking and just being together.  I am looking forward to the quiet of nature, our relaxing together, and sweating (okay, maybe not sweating).

     The last event that we will celebrate happens Sunday, which is our 12th anniversary.  It's hard to believe that twelve years ago, we made our vows before God, family, and friends.  Things haven't always been easy, we have been through more than I ever thought possible, but we are still here, still together, and stronger than ever.  We haven't made any plans other than attending church Sunday morning, and that's okay.  Sunday is usually a day that we relax at home and get ready for the upcoming week.  I am hoping we can get something special from the farmer's market Saturday to fix for our anniversary meal Sunday.  As long as I can spend the day with Jim, it's all good!

     Jim and I as individuals are far from perfect.  Our marriage, wonderful as it is, is far from perfect.  We are happy, healthy, and glad to have made it through another year, older, wiser, and still standing.  Celebration Week this year looks different than usual, but there is still plenty to celebrate!