Thursday, October 16, 2014

To Halloween or not...that used to be the question.

Once upon a time, I was that parent who struggled with the whole Halloween debacle. Do we let our child trick or treat? Carve pumpkins? Bob for apples? As Christians, are we slapping our faith in the face if we choose to allow our child to participate in something that was once a part of our innocent youth? Obviously, we had to figure out what was right for us and our family, and in no way am I implying that we are right, or what works for us is right for anyone else. It didn't take me long to realize that we weren't dropping our beliefs at the door in exchange for a pagan holiday that exalted evil.

I decided early on the Sunshine Girl would not be permitted to dress up as anything "evil." There would be no devils, witches, or anything that remotely could be mistaken for the one name monsters from the cheesy horror flicks of my youth. One, two...Freddie's... if my sister is reading this she will probably smack me the next time I see her. Jason, Freddie and Michael Meyers are out!

Charli has been a butterfly...twice, a clown, and a farmer back when she was going though her Charlotte's Web phase complete with a pig obsession. I think my favorite costume was the year she was Mother Goose. My grandmother made her little dress, and apron...which I still have and treasure more now than ever. With my sister's help, we put nursery rhymes on iron on transfer paper then put them on Charli's little apron. We even hot glued a spider to the apron...after all Little Miss Muffet probably found something more appetizing than curds and whey thanks to that spider. I remember one Halloween, just a few years ago when a few of Charli's friends who we were going trick or treating with, happen to be dressing up as Monster High Dolls but Charli wanted to be an Egyptian Queen. Even when I told her I would buy her a costume so she could "be like the other girls", her response shocked me a little. She said "Mom, I am happy doing my own thing, I don't have to be like everyone else." I thought to myself, from her lips to God's ears and may she keep that mindset as a teenager. Last year, Charli was a Flapper girl and this year she wants to be Marylin Munroe. Sure my life would be "easier" if I didn't have to stretch my creative mind to achieve her far fetched costume ideas but it simply isn't who she is...and I am okay with it.

I also quickly got over my aversion to carving pumpkins. I never carved a pumpkin as a kid, I'm pretty sure I never went to a pumpkin patch either. I thought pumpkins came in a tin can from some woman named Libby. I once read a story about teaching a child about salvation by carving a pumpkin. Now before I go any further, I have many friends from many walks of life. We have different beliefs and it has never been an issue. I embrace them and they embrace me, not because of, or in spite of our differences. We are who we are, and we are accepted and loved. I am a Christian so, this little story helped me to teach my three year old daughter at the time about Jesus. When you cut open a pumpkin and see all the icky stuff inside, it represents a life without God. When you clean out the pumpkin, that is what happens we repent and ask God to forgive us of our sins. When we carve the smile into the face of the pumpkin and put our candle inside it symbolizes what happens when we ask Jesus into our heart to be our savior. His light shines within us. It is a wonderful visual and helped her young mind begin to grasp what were trying to teach her. We retell the story every year when we carve a pumpkin, and I am sure God doesn't hold last years pumpkin against us. The number one and the letter "D" happened to get carved into it instead of our traditional smiley face.

As for the bobbing for apples...that would be a resounding NO. I not only happen to be a bit of a scaredy cat, but I am unapologetically a germaphobe. Happy October and no matter how you celebrate fall, I hope you make wonderful memories with your family and friends.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Love In Stitches

Autumn has arrived. There is a nip in the air, which is a welcome change though I am certain it will be back in the eighties next week. Autumn is my most favorite time of year. The season ushers in wonderful things I enjoy, like pumpkins, craft festivals, homemade soup and thick knitted sweaters. I think of our many trips to the pumpkin patch over the years, but last year is the memory that sticks out most in my mind.

Last year our whole family went to the pumpkin patch together. My cousins and their children, my sister and her children, my mother and father in-law, my mom, my grandma and even my cousin's grand daughter. We took one picture after another, grandma was a little worried about being in every photo and I remember telling grandma she was our prop and she couldn't move until we were done. My cousin Katie told her the same thing. The pumpkin patch we go to is an incredible place and we adore it. There are several photo spots set up and as you can imagine there are one or two that are coveted for family photos. We have a large family so it took us a while to get through all those pictures. There was a niggling thought in the back of my head, though I didn't speak it out loud. I am certain I am not the only one who thought it. I looked at grandma and thought...what if? What if next year... We tried to be considerate of other families, but I have not one regret looking back on it, that we spent so much time taking photos.

My husband, my cousin and I have spent the last few months packing up grandma's house, trying to condense two households into one. We have discovered several treasures. My grandma was a quilter. There has been a sewing machine or three in her house for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, she would make us summer shorts, later on she made us nightgowns. She has made quilts and blankets for her great grandchildren. One year, my daughter Charli was Mother Goose for Halloween and Grandma made her dress and apron. It occurred to me the other day as we unearthed more quilt blocks from the abyss of bins, that my Grandma loved us in stitches.

She spent hours over the course of her life bent over a machine. When her hands were young and sure, when her sight was intact until her hands couldn't remember how and she could no longer see well enough to thread the machine, she loved us in stitches. The time and effort she put into cutting, pinning, patching, and stitching material is remarkable. It's funny how you don't think about these things when you are growing up. It never really occurs to you what a sacrifice of time was spent to provide you with warmth. Grandma sewed and she prayed. She stitched fabric together to provide us warmth for our bodies, and she stitched us up in prayer to ensure the wellness of our souls. They say that some women are born to be mothers...if ever there was a woman born to be a grandmother it was her. It has been three months today since God called her home. I don't let myself cry often. There is still so much to do that I can't completely open the floodgates just yet. Writing blog posts like this, it's like letting steam off a pressure cooker. It releases the valve enough to keep me from a cataclysmic emotional spewing.

When I think back to our pumpkin patch trip last year, my first thought isn't that my daughter fell and bumped her head when she tried to jump between two haystacks, or the subsequent attitude adjustment that she needed later on in the day. I remember my Grandma with a smile on her face, laughter in her eyes, loving on her babies. I remember the kids running and playing together, and producing sounds of childhood. It was a great day. Life is short...take a lot of pictures.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Iron Man & Big Girl Panties...Keeping It Real

They say that which does not kill us makes us stronger. I am not really sure of who "they" refers to. If the adage were true, I could be the stunt double for Iron Man. The amount of self-control it takes these days not to unleash the beast is unfathomable. I have bitten my tongue so much in the past several weeks that I am surprised there isn't a mere bloody stub left. My head is so full of noise. I just need all those rampant thoughts to be quiet and the only way I can get the pressure to ease is to purge them. I probably sound like a crazy person. We all have full plates, things we are going through. I am not alone, however I do wish more people would just own it.
I put my big girl panties on and I wear them religiously every single day. I am accountable for the things I do, and say. I would like to believe that I have faced every obstacle with dignity and grace but that simply isn't true. I have moments I am not proud of but I own them. I don't justify them, or make excuses, or even attempt to defend those moments. When I am wrong, I apologize. The older I get the easier it is to let go of the facade. My life is not perfect. I am up to my eyeballs cleaning up chaos that I didn't have a hand in making. I am exhausted and utterly overwhelmed. I take a few deep breaths, shed a few tears, tug those panties up, say a few prayers and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I am a happy person, not a "Debbie Downer." I always have a can do attitude. The person I see in the mirror lately, I don't even recognize. I am not this frazzled, overwhelmed person that stares back at me.
I am always living for someday. Some day I will feel like I am not constantly dropping the mom ball, or the wife ball. Some day my thoughts won't be so focused on making it from one day to the next. Some day I will have the time and calm to finish that book. Some day the situation that I am trying to take care of will be done and I can have that nervous breakdown I so deserve while sipping a fruity little umbrella drink. Hopefully that some day comes before I need to trade the big girl panties for a straightjacket ;-)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Finding the funny...

Before school came to a close for the summer, I had the best laid plans. Random beach trips, a few weekend getaways, perhaps a little jaunt to Georgia to visit my best friend, a book signing with girlfriends; complete with an umbrella drink. The angel choir was singing, while visions of sand and sea danced in my head. Life didn't get the memo regarding my plans, so life happened. Life has a way of hurling curveballs at you so fast, there is little time to process before you are faced with the next incoming curve. Suddenly you realize school starts back in a week.

This blog is called "Laughter For The Journey" for a reason. Life happens to all of us and sometimes we have to search for the humor in it. You have to laugh or you will cry. Life is a series of mountains and valleys. Sometimes you belly crawl through those valleys, but even then if you look up, you will see the sun still shines. Yes, the sun still shines but I find myself searching for some comic relief.

June 12* I got up early to go to the gym before work. Life threw a curveball. I was in a car wreck. My car was totaled. I was not at fault. Where is the humor in that? Okay, so it's a stretch to find humor in that but I can find blessings as well as irony. Right before I left, we had just prayed together as a family, something we make a concerted effort to do every morning and every night. We always end our morning prayers with "Lord bring us back safely to each other this evening." Less than 5 minutes after we prayed, I was in a wreck. I survived, my car, the other car and the power pole...not so much.

Blessings: My daughter wasn't with me. I am still here, alive and well. The other driver and her passenger survived intact.

June 25* Grandma had a stroke and passed away later that same evening. There is no funny in that. Nothing but shock, sadness, heartache and gut wrenching loss. A loss so deep and complete that if I let myself dwell on it, the air will be sucked from my lungs and I will crumple to my knees in devastation. We are several weeks out from Grandma's passing, and while we are still going through the emotions of packing up her and grandpa's house, we have relived so many memories. We have unearthed things that were long forgotten. I have learned things about my grandma I never knew.
Awe, Grandma kept everything. That statement is now a little more like this; AHHH! Grandma kept EVERYTHING! For example, we found several vases, the kind flowers are delivered in. There must have been a dozen and a half to start. I was ecstatic when a sweet gentleman and his wife purchased 4 yesterday during the yard sale. I was so confident he would give them a good home, I threw in an extra for free. As things were winding down, my husband climbed atop the new ladder my mom had just purchased and braved the abyss of Grandma's attic to finish cleaning it out. I hear him laugh and I know the smirk that adorns his handsome face even though I can't see him. I can see the laughter that dances in his gorgeous eyes, even though they are hidden from view. "Baby, you aren't going to believe this..." "What?" "I found more vases." With every vase, his smile grows bigger as my eyes keep getting wider. The vases just keep coming, one after another. Mark is about to laugh himself right out of the attic when I pop off with a comment. He laughs even harder because apparently I channeled my Uncle Carl who lives several hundred miles away and I sounded just like him. Uncle Carl is pretty awesome. Seeing all those vases, I am convinced Grandma kept every single vase, every time someone had flowers delivered to her, or bought her during her many hospital stays, throughout her entire life. She kept EVERY one! If Grandma was still living, knowing what I know now, the next person to buy her flowers, would have taken the vase over top of the head. The only thing she had more of than vases was coffee cups. Lord, don't even get me started on the coffee cups.

*July 27 We learned my mom had a stroke. Her vision has been affected. The following day, through an MRI, we found out that not only has she had one stroke, but there is evidence of a second stroke. There was also concern she may have had a heart attack as well, before tests were done to rule it out. There is no humor in the situation. My dad will be gone 8 years in September. In the past 2 years, we buried my cousin who was a year younger than me, last year we lost one of my aunts, and we just lost Grandma. I am only 37 years old and have spent more time sitting around a table helping to plan funerals than one person ever should. I take a deep breath, lean on the people in my life who are my rocks and I go to The Rock that is higher than I. When it rains it pours, so I just pray for a bigger umbrella. God gave me big shoulders. God's got this and He's got me. Mom's vision is extremely spotty in her right eye, and she is blind in her left peripheral. She isn't able to drive. However, she is here and we are prayerful for a full recovery.

We are 2 weeks out from Mom's stroke and I have found a little humor. If I stand on her left side, I can stick my tongue out at her and roll my eyes all day long and she has no clue. Don't judge me, it's not like I am leading her into walls or anything and besides the eyes in the back of her head were unaffected by the stroke. I totally got busted for a face while sitting behind her. I can also get away with pretty much anything now, why just yesterday I threatened to hog tie her and duct tape her to an airplane seat.

You know the old adage "When life hands you lemons make lemonade?"
After this summer, I am going to exchange my lemons for limes and a strawberry or two. Then I am going to get the glass, the big one. I have it on reserve and it's big enough I can fit my whole face in it.
I am thankful. I get it. We had so many curveballs this summer and though things could be better, they could be worse. So we are thankful because even through the stress of the situation and through the loss there is so much to be thankful for and we are counting our blessings. My family, is okay and those of us that aren't we are getting there. We are learning to breathe, to continuously put one foot in front of the other and one day it won't take so much effort. Life doesn't get the memo or care about your best laid plans. Life throws curveballs but hopefully one day you can look back and find laughter for the journey.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ignorance is bliss...

They say ignorance is bliss and to some degree I believe that is true. It was a Wednesday morning when my phone rang and I heard my mom's voice on the other end of the line. When she said my name, I knew something was wrong. My mother rarely calls me by my name preferring to use some form of affection instead. When I woke up that morning, I was ignorant to the fact, that one phone call was going to change everything. "I think your grandmother has had a stroke". Ignorant...that in a little over fifteen hours our lives would change forever.

My grandmother was a survivor. Cancer, strokes, heart attacks, triple bypass heart surgery, pacemaker,dementia, broken hip, internal bleeding...survivor. She lost the love of her life, buried two children and a grandchild...she was a survivor. There was always one more miracle and just when you didn't know if she could take anymore she would pat your hand and say "Don't worry about me baby, I'll be alright. I might give out, but I don't give up." She was a survivor.

I saw her in the hospital that day before they put her in a regular room. She was getting a regular room so that meant it was going to be alright. I held her hand and told her I loved her while fighting an internal battle to hold it together. She looked so tired...but she was getting a regular room. I went back to work, and then headed up to the hospital after work. My boss asked how she was, friends sent text messages. It didn't look good, but this was grandma. When the eleventh hour was the darkest, her miracle came at 10:30.

My family has always been amazing in a crisis. We pull together, past differences set aside, and we rally around each other. Nobody cries alone and if you need a hug, you are surrounded by open arms. My mom, uncle, sister, two cousins, one cousin's youngest son, another cousin's wife and me found ourselves in the cafeteria. I staked claim on our regular booth. How sad is it that we have a booth? We have gathered in that corner often enough that they should put a sign above it with our names. We have shared many laughs in that booth because in our family sometimes it is how we deal with stressful situations. We trekked back up to Grandma's room. Yes there was a lot of us but this was grandma so of course her entourage was in full force. A plan was made and since it was getting late and I had to work the next day, hugs were given, and I love you's said. I patted grandma's hand and told her I loved her and I would see her the next morning. She hadn't recovered her ability to speak since she had the stroke that morning.

When I got home, my husband Mark asked me how grandma was. I told him the one thing I didn't want to admit to anyone else. Every time grandma had been in the hospital and I sat by her side just before I would leave, I would ask her if she was alright. My face etched with worry and without fail she would take my hand in hers and pat it then she would say "Don't worry about me baby, I'll be alright". The tears rolled down my face as I told Mark that this time...grandma didn't say it.

I got settled in and when I hadn't heard anything by a little after nine I decided to take the medicine I had been prescribed for injuries I sustained in a car wreck two weeks prior. The phone rang around 10:40 and it was my cousin's wife. She asked me if I could come back up to the hospital. Nothing brings you out of a drugged induced sleep like that kind of a phone call. I jumped up grabbed clothes sent a text to a friend, and told Mark I would let him know I made it to the hospital. Charli was sleeping and he couldn't leave her. My dear friend who wasn't feeling well called me and talked to me while I made the 20 minute drive to the hospital, so I wouldn't be alone. I hung up the phone when I pulled into the parking lot. My youngest cousin Michael (who is more like my little brother) and my sister were walking toward my car. My sister didn't say anything, but Michael just shook his head ever so slightly and opened his arms. He wrapped them around me and I fell apart.

Our grandmother was never that grandparent who we only saw once a year and knitted us horrible sweaters. She was such an interictal part of our lives not only as children but as adults as well. She was 87 years old, she lived a full life, she loved well and was well loved. It is unsettling to be in a world where she isn't.

I am no longer ignorant to the amount of emotional strength it takes to pack up a house that once held love so thick it was a presence in itself. If those walls could talk, they would tell the stories of giggling grandchildren, chili seasoned with cinnamon, a huge bug with stalking abilities and of our own super hero...Grandpa the Slayer of Retracting Couches. They would tell the tales of battles fought on knees that were bent in prayer, tears that were shed and laughs that were shared. I feel as though those walls mock me now. The house feels empty without grandma and grandpa to fill it. The nails where pictures used to hang are bare. I think that is one of the hardest things for me. I am beyond grateful for the blessing of two amazing grandparents, who loved us with all that they were. I am thankful for the prayers that were prayed over our lives. We are all struggling and still find it hard to believe that in a few short days grandma will be gone for a month. It is a constant battle as we empty out the house, we don't let the empty swallow us. I know she continues to live in us and through our stories and all her little Grandma-isms. She touched so many lives and not just ours. The world is a better place because she was a part of it. I am certain there are many jewels in her crown. As grandma would say "Lord bless you".

Sunday, May 11, 2014

For all the Moms...

Motherhood is a blessing. It is a miracle. It is a privilege but it is not a right. Every year on Mother's Day, I am reminded of all those Mother's Days before I became a mom...the tears, the heartache, the "maybe next year". Most ordinary days, when I catch a glimpse of my daughter, there is a moment that I am reminded of what a precious gift she is...and in those moments, I whisper a thank you to God. When Mother's Day rolls around, I am especially thankful to celebrate this day.

It truly is impossible to comprehend, the love a mother feels for her child until you become a mother yourself. I carried around this little being in my body for 9 months. We were united, just the two of us. The moment she was born, my heart began beating outside of my body. Having your heart beat outside of your body is a nerve-wracking experience but we wouldn't have it any other way.

For my daughter who is the reason I celebrate this day: I love you so much. It blows my mind that a person can have the capacity to love another person as much as I love you. You make me laugh, smile, and cry. Sometimes, they are happy tears, and sometimes they are not. You occasionally make me want to rip my hair out (it happens a little more the older you get), test my patience, and drive me to the very brink of sanity...but there isn't a single moment that I don't love being your mom. You are my magnum opus and I love you to the moon and back again, plus all the stars in the sky.

For my mom: Thank you for all the moments, you laid awake at night wondering if you were doing everything right. Thank you for cleaning up puke, paying for braces, waiting up until we were home safe, and hand-sewing all those beads on my wedding veil (which explains why you have carpel tunnel syndrome). For all those times I forgot to say it...thank you. I know it's not enough, but when you're a's enough. I love you.

For my mother-in-law: Thank you for all the endless time you invested in raising the little boy, who grew into the man, I am blessed to call my husband. Thank you for welcoming me into the family with open arms are treating me as though I was your own. I know that when it comes to mother-in-laws, I hit the jackpot. I love you.

For my grandma: You are the living, breathing example of love. Thank you for all the days leading up to Christmas spent in your kitchen, teaching me to make your peanut butter fudge. Thank you for all those days you spent in chaos with 5 lively grand daughters shrieking through your house. Thank you for teaching us how to pray (even if it was to Ernest)and thank you for being the grandma other kids wished for.

Last but not least, to my "Mommy Friends" (my sister and cousins included): Thank you for being there to laugh at my stories, to share in the madness of motherhood, and to remind me not to "feed the monster". We are surviving the hazards of Google, the questions that come from inquisitive minds, and the knowledge that we are all in this together. It is good to know that I am not the only "dream crusher" among us and that we can probably get a group discount on therapy our children may or may not require in the future. Regardless if we are working moms (aren't we all) or stay at home moms (umm...y'all are never home), whether we have one child or multiple, boys or girls, or some of each, THANK YOU for reminding me we are all in this together.

To all the moms reading this...being a mom is the hardest gig there is...but the most rewarding. Some would say that it's a thankless job but it really isn't. Our thanks may never come by way of mansions on Malibu, trips to Hawaii or a life time supply of chocolate. One day, all those sleepless nights, moments spent cleaning up bodily fluid, last minute trips to the store because they forgot about the project that was due tomorrow, shopping for the perfect outfit, wishing they would use better judgment, biting our tongue, all the "but Moms", that's not fair, eye rolling, stomping feet, slamming doors, and every moment in will be worth it. Our thanks comes in the form of the character our children develop. When they do what's right, even when nobody is watching. Being a mother requires complete selflessness, but when we see the fruits of our labor come to fruition, can't put a price on that. Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A love letter...

For my husband...

It is almost unbelievable to me how I could possibly love you more than the day we said "I Do" all those years ago. I know I tell you that I love you every day, but somehow it doesn't even begin to scratch the surface. When I was a little girl, I would dream of my Prince Charming. I was optimistic enough to dream but pessimistic enough to doubt you would come true...yet here you are.

I am not sure what I did to deserve the love of a man like you. I am passionate and tenacious but you have never attempted to break my spirit. I am the storm, but you are the calming peace that follows. You make me feel safe, and you are one of the few people on the planet who understands why that is such a big deal for me. I feel so cherished by you. I don't need diamonds, or roses to make me feel loved. You show me every day in the little things you do and after 16 years, those little things are the big things. Your love shines through when I catch you watching me while I am cooking dinner, or when I am engrossed in a book. I feel it in the whisper of your lips, when you kiss me good morning...trying not to wake me up, but willing to risk it because walking out the door without that kiss is such a preposterous notion.

So many people have made the comment about how lucky I am to be married to a man like you. Luck really has nothing to do with it at all. Falling in love was and is magical and wonderful but it isn't luck. Marriage...especially one that withstands time, has nothing to do with luck. Marriage is about putting in the hard work, putting our love into action, making a daily decision to put someone's needs before our own. Luck doesn't hold your hand through three surgeries, countless negative pregnancy tests, or car accidents that you were blessed to walk away from. Luck doesn't dry your tears when you are curled into the fetal position because you body is wracked with pain...and luck certainly does not wrap you in a protective embrace and walk you through some of the darkest moments of your life. does that.

No, I'm not lucky but I am blessed. I know what it means to be loved beyond all reason, to be protected, and adored. Mark, my cup runneth over. I thank the God we serve every day for your presence in my life and that a boy like you fell in love with a girl like me. I just want to say to those who still think I am lucky to be married to you...well, you didn't do so bad yourself. I will love you with all of my heart, for all of my life, until I take my last breath...and even then...I will love you still. Happy anniversary honey and I look forward to sharing many, many more.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


I am sitting here pecking away at the keys on my keyboard, listening to the slow rain outside my window and the faint sounds of my 11 year old daughter, in the other room playing with our dog Marley. A simple moment of normalcy that we often take for granted. The smallest moments of every day life that could change in the blink of an eye, in a heart beat. Moments that drift by unnoticed, unappreciated, seemingly blending together because there are a million of them in a lifetime...or so we think.

As we welcome in a brand new year, most of us ponder what changes we would like to make in a never ending quest to be a better version of ourselves because somewhere along the way, we have come to the conclusion that we aren't good enough in our current state. We tend to seek acceptance, and I am no different. I'm not certain at what point in my life I began to be a people pleaser, maybe I always have been to some degree, and I didn't even notice it until it had gone to the extreme. Being a people pleaser was beginning to come at a cost. I was losing sleep, having health issues, and getting so mentally drained from always trying to be who and what so many other people needed me to be, that I didn't have much left over for me or my precious little family. The cost was too great, and I had to take a step back and reevaluate. 2013 brought about a season of change for me. Sometimes you have to release the things that you cling to double-fisted... you have to give yourself permission to let go.

In 2014 I resolve to...

* Let go...of my superwoman cape. I am a wife, mother, aspiring writer, small business owner, and full time employee working outside the home. (No, this doesn't mean I work harder than my stay at home mommy counter parts because I do not know a single one who stays at home, eating bon bons all day while watching The View). The world isn't going to come to end if my cookies are store bought, or if I don't make favor bags for a party. God rested on the 7th day and Martha Stewart has "people". The "Real" Housewives are not reality.

* Accept...that no, is a complete sentence. There is no need to justify myself. I can't always fit it all in, and the thing that gives shouldn't be my mental well being, in an attempt to be a people pleaser. Accept... that some people are in my life for a season and if they choose to walk out of it, then perhaps I am not supposed to chase after them. Accept...that I need to weigh my words before I speak them or type them. Words are precious and powerful. Words can be uplifting and life-giving, or they can break a spirit.

* Keep it in perspective... whether the glass is half empty or half full, I have a glass. I saw that on a poster somewhere, and it fits.

*Appreciate... my family and the little moments. Appreciate that my daughter talks to me almost nonstop because the day will come when it is like pulling teeth to get anything out of her. Appreciate the time we spend praying together as a family, every morning and every night and strive to not let it lose it's meaning because it's such a part of our routine. Appreciate the moments that blend together, making up our lives and realize we need to be present in these moments.

*Write...and write and write. I resolve to finish my novel this year so I can work on the other two ideas that are floating around in my head. I have dreamed of writing since I was 12 years old, and I need to write like I need to breathe. It feeds my soul. I owe it to that one teacher who made such a difference for me. I owe it to my husband who is my biggest cheerleader. I owe it to my daughter to help her believe that no dream, however far fetched, is unattainable. I owe it to my friends who have encouraged me and believed in me. I owe it to myself, and more than that, I owe it the God I serve to use the talent, I have been blessed with.

I wish each and every one of you a healthy and prosperous 2014. I encourage you to keep it in perspective. Perfection is an ideal, not a reality.