Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourseles, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ~Marianne Williamson

Friday, February 29, 2008

Hmmm...Didn't You Always Want To Know This...

Ok, I would love to write something witty, amusing or deeply insightful, but after this long week, I'm not sure I have it in me...plus, I have to write a paper for my History of Western Medicine class this weekend and I must save all my "witty, amusing and deeply insightful" comments for that. Believe me, it's going to take all of the ones buried deep in my brain (I have to talk about a common theme of two books...one on Cholera epidemics of the 19th century and the other on the epidemic of childbed fever both before the discovery of germ theory) to write this paper and I can't waste them even for my treasured blog...

I will, however, share some little known facts about me...as some of my readers have only recently met me, this should be very interesting...

Let's start off with something easy...

1. I have lived my whole life in the northwestern US...Oregon and Washington to be exact.

2. As a little girl, I wanted to have 4 children.

3. I have worked as a photographer, a receptionist for a collection agency, a legislative researcher and at a toy store.

4. I worked at a pet shop for 2 weeks but my irrational fear of birds ruined that for me.

5. One of my favorite stories of all time is Charlotte's Web.

6. I volunteered as a breastfeeding counselor and taught breastfeeding classes.

7. I have taken 2 years of college level Spanish but can barely form a sentence about myself...let alone one that uses any verbs.

8. I am not only scared of birds (I like chickens though) but am still afraid of the dark.

9. Both of my children were born via c-section.

10. I have always wanted to learn to quilt.

11. I had no idea what 4H or FFA were until I was an adult. I thought 4H was some branch of the Girl Scouts.

12. I was asked to leave my high school my junior year because of my truancy record. I went on to college.

13. I wanted to be a nurse but could never complete that many math and science classes.

14. I stink at math. Statistics was a living hell.

15. I will have managed to finish my bachelor's degree without ever having taken chemistry or physics or biology in college. In fact, I only took one year of biology in high school.

16. To meet my science requirement for my degree...I took a class called "Women Naturalists in North America."

17. I am a Rhetoric and Media Studies major and NO ONE knows what in the world that is until I explain it...you'll have to e-mail me to find out!

18. Most people look at me as if I said my major was philosophy.

19. I became a rhetoric major because I didn't like people telling me what topics I could write on...in rhetoric, I can critique any piece of discourse in nearly any topic I want to.

20. Many of my topics, prior to Kennedy's illness, were regarding adult corrections and the death penalty.

21. I was a Political Science major and then an International Studies major but it was easy and I wanted more control over my writing.

22. I have some control issues that God is working on...I am still a work in progress.

23. I knew I would marry Keith just 2 weeks after I met him.

24. It took him a little longer to figure it out.

25. When I was in elementary school, the music teacher told me I couldn't be in choir because I couldn't sing...it took nearly 20 years before I sang in a choir again and I haven't had the confidence to do it since.

26. I always wanted to grow up and live in Montana.

27. I wanted to live on a farm or ranch but grew up in the suburbs.

28. As a kid, I couldn't understand why we couldn't have a horse in our suburban backyard.

29. Now that I have horses, I get it.

30. The first time my son rode a steer, I thought I was going to be sick.

31. Now, I still feel like I'm going to get sick...I just hide it better.

32. My absolute favorite color is green and no picture looks complete without it.

33. I'm ok with the fact that I am book smart and not so much common sense smart.

34. Thank God Keith has lots of common sense.

35. I always wanted to homeschool but didn't start until last year.

36. I pray everyday that I don't mess up my kids.

37. Last time I did this (100 things), it was for our whole family and it was a lot easier.

38. I always loved riding on a motorcycle.

39. The things I love about motorcycles are very similar to what I love about riding horses.

40. I have to confess that Keith does most of the work for the horses.

41. I'm lucky that I get to do the fun stuff most of the time.

42. I hate roller coasters.

43. I tried to like them as a teenager, but just never got it.

44. I was so scared of Splash Mountain in Disneyland that I just really wanted off.

45. My favorite Disney villian is the evil queen from Snow White.

46. I was so excited to have my picture taken with her! Kennedy was not thrilled at all with the idea.

47. I actually told Mickey Mouse that I had been waiting over 30 years to see him.

48. I'm sure he thought I was a yahoo.

49. I love sappy historical fiction.

50. I would have been a history major but thought I would never be able to get a job.

51. I LOVE history.

52. I do not like to cook.

53. I'm not a very good cook either.

54. I am not very organized...I have to work at it.

55. My favorite housekeeping chore is vacuuming.

56. I think "vacuum" is spelled weird.

57. I want to learn to speak German.

58. The nationalities I can identify in my family tree are English, German and Scandanvian.

59. My favorite movie is Braveheart.

60. I once wrote a history term paper about William Wallace and had a very difficult time coming to terms with the fact that while he was a great hero, many thought he was a cruel and violent traitor.

61. I learned a lot about how history is written and about the framing and construction of character.

62. I also wrote an extensive research paper on the possible link between the MMR vaccine and Autism.

63. I was awarded a research grant in 2005 and will be presenting on my paper this April.

64. It is a narrative ananlysis of death row inmate, Christian Longo's sentencing statement.

65. My children's laughter is magical.

66. Having children is one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me.

67. There are no words to describe how I felt when we found out that Kennedy had cancer.

68. It turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to us as a family.

69. I always wanted to learn ballet.

70. I would like to learn how to play the piano.

71. Will Smith is my celebrity soul mate (according to a quiz...those who have seen this will know exactly what I mean.)

72. I would NEVER want to be famous.

73. I hope to travel to Ireland and Scotland someday.

74. Once, my parents and I drove to Texas, stayed one night and drove home.

75. To this day, I still think it was crazy.

76. Although I didn't believe it as a kid when my mom told me it would happen, my sister has become one of my bestest friends.

77. She is the funniest person I know.

78. I have a half brother I have never met.

79. I am terrible at crossword puzzles unless they are about entertainers...think People magazine.

80. I absolutely LOVE Sunset magazine and read it over and over and over even though I'm sure I am not in the target audience.

81. I love the idea of "roughing it" camping but can't stand to do it...it's the no flushing toilets or shower thing.

82. I do not like the cold.

83. Autumn is my favorite time of year.

84. I'm not much of a cat person but love my cat.

85. I really like having a big dog.

86. I wish I could paint as much as I wish I could sing.

87. I love scrapbooking with my family...I like scrapping, but I love hanging with my family more.

88. I am just terrible at returning phone calls.

89. My friends I have had the longest just keep calling till they reach me.

90. I didn't learn to swim until I was 10 or 11.

91. My parents threatened to send me to an all girls' school if I did not pass the 6th grade.

92. I think my teacher passed me because she was afraid I would be in her class again if I was forced to repeat it.

93. I have NEVER liked homework. Ever.

94. I don't like being told what to do.

95. God is working on this as well.

96. I will argue that I am right (even when I know that I'm wrong) because I can't stand admitting I've made a mistake.

97. God is working on this too.

98. I hope to be a published author someday.

99. If I ever find enough time to write.

100. Oh, and I always have to have the last word.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spring is Returning

It's true, it's true...sure signs of spring have returned to our little corner of the world. No, not pretty flowers...nope, no baby animals...no, not even sweetly singing birds...well, there may be some of these things, but they are not necessarily signs for us that the seasons are turning. However, these are...

What is this you ask? Why, it is the big pile of burn...and you are probably wondering why this is a sign of spring. First, it's a sign that the east wind is upon us and branches once heavily laden with snow are now weakened and falling in to our horse paddock (sometimes damaging the fence) and also in all that pile, Papa has begun trimming bushes and trees for spring growth. All signs that spring is just around the corner. And...

this? Well, it is a horse blanket...and what does it have to do with spring here? The fact that it is off is a sign of good things. Notice the caked winter mud...both inside and out. It has seen better days for sure. It is getting warmer...warm enough in fact, to remove the winter blanket from the old pony. All of the horses are beginning to lose their winter coats. While brushing them yesterday, I noticed them shedding and soon they will look like sleeked out beauties instead of the wooly bears they appear to be right now. The pony never completely slicks out but he will be much more comfortable when he doesn't look like he is wearing the coat of a yak!

And another sign of impending springdom? Finally having enough days of no rain to clean up the entire paddock.
By the look on his face you would never know that he has the easy job...driving the little "tractor" around while dad does the actual cleaning. I'm not sure that the scowl on his face has anything to do with his job, but more to do with the fact that mom is out there with a camera! Boy, I remember when he was too small to reach the brake and someone would have to run alongside and stop it for him or he would just stand up and the loss of weight on the seat would kill the engine! He has grown so much and is such a big help to his dad. While my daughter and I enjoy the horses, we really don't do all the work...the boys do. Sure we do feed them and we love to groom and ride them but when it comes to the "crappy" work (ok, pun intended here!) they are the movers and haulers (again, I am SO funny!).

One more sign of spring in our little neck of the woods? Check this out! This is a sign of warmer, longer days...

the outside toys are in their proper place...the yard! When the kids start tearing these out, I know spring is just around the corner.
Finally, sorry I don't have a picture, the fillies are frolicking all over the pasture. Running, kicking, bucking and playing...let's just say they are feeling more frisky and soon we will be very thankful our boys are geldings!
Here's to happy spring days and warmer nights...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Grace for Our Situation

God is amazing. It amazes me that He has time for all of us. Really, this is beyond my scope of understanding. I barely have enough time somedays for the people just in my household...let alone the whole world for all that has come and all that is coming. Not only does He have time for us, He truly knows us. I can't tell you how many times I have said (or heard my friends say) that I wish someone (usually spouses) really knew me...knew who I was deep inside. He does. Our spouses can "know" us to a certain extent but there are always places we don't let people in...He is there. Do you want to know what is so amazing about Him knowing you? It is that He can give us an amazing grace we can find no where else for our very life situation. I didn't get this. Not at all. When others said that His grace was sufficient I saw grace as being more like just forgiveness and couldn't really understand how it could cover a situation. It was like the grace we give our children...we don't kill them for making sometimes horrible choices instead we just hold them. It is the thing that keeps us from beating them senseless somedays. I can only imagine how incredibly frustrating it must be for God, since we have free will and all, to watch us make the same bad choice over and over and over and over with no real desire to change. Good thing His grace covers a multitude of sins, huh?

That is all I thought grace was. Grace is so much more. Grace is also giving us what we need for our own life's journey. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, "And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." There fore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me." When we come before Him in weakness, it is by His strength that we are able to not only endure a situation but actually rejoice in our suffering. Please, let me put this in to some context so that you may see how I finally came to have this understanding of grace.

Before my daughter was diagnosed with cancer, I was in awe of others who could endure hardship. The family that lost their house to a fire. The husband and young children who watched their wife/mother succumb to cancer. Missionaries who endured unspeakable torture. And not just catastrophes such as these but the homeschooler mother, the mother with a large family, grandmothers raising their grandchildren, foster parents, etc. You can see where I am going. Those who had bigger, tougher or just different situations than mine. I would always say, "wow, I could never do that." or "Thank God I was never expected to do that." Well, be very careful making statements to God about what you can and cannot endure or live through/with.

What we don't get is that we are incapable of nearly everything without God. Ok, really...everything. Sometimes, I think He just lets us handle some things on our own. You know...I can pick up dirty clothes and I know I am capable...hmmm...now that I have said that if it wasn't for God giving me the body I have and the mental facilities, that may not be possible... but you get the idea. There are lots of activies we do everyday without thinking about whether or not God helps us do them. We simply do not think. But what about when He asks us to do something bigger than ourselves? You know...those tasks when we feel like Moses at the burning bush and we just keep giving God reasons why we are not the right one for the job. He knows that...that we are incapable without Him...that is the point.

Let me let you all in on a little secret about me...I am not a great mom. Especially before all of this. I am selfish, disorganized and not always attentive. I was very focused on my life. I was also the kind of mom who could barely keep things straight. I rarely made my kids finish their antibiotics because I wasn't organized enough to remember to give all of them. And I didn't always pay attention...I was selfish. I was NOT a good candidate for the mother of a cancer child. Not to mention that I am very emotional. Not going to be good. So, what on earth was God thinking???? I couldn't remember to let the dog out in time or get dinner on the table before 7:30pm (thank the Lord I had my mom!).

God had so much to show me. I needed a multitude of grace...I mean grace upon grace upon grace...and He knew that. But HIS grace was sufficient. He gave me exactly what I needed for MY situation. Not for my neighbor's or friend's or someone in my family...but what HE knew I needed. Amazing.

Only through God did I begin to focus on something other than myself. Only through God did I develop a system for keeping track of appoinments, feeding and medicines. Only by the GRACE OF GOD. It was God who changed me...not me, not my situation...I could have remained the same person...I would have sucked as a mom and wife to Austin, Kennedy and Keith through all of this, but He changed me. He taught me, molded me, melted me in the Refiner's fire in to the person I needed to be for my situation. Kennedy's cancer was just the vessel through which He worked. Sadly, because of who I had chosen to become, it had to be this. I had to be brought to a place of complete brokenness (now there is an oxymoron, huh?), absolute submission before He could begin. Nothing until this had done it.

Ok, so my point...back to the beginning...His grace is sufficent to our individual situation...to us individually. Now isn't that amazing? He didn't give me the "universal grace" for "mother's with children who have cancer." He didn't even give me the "universal grace" for "a 32 year old mother of 2 with a 4 year old child with high risk, slow responding ALL." Nope, He gave me the grace necessary for Melenie. Just me and it was designed to meet my exact need. Not for anyone else. And even better? He gave Kennedy her own grace designed exclusively for her to complete her journey and Austin his own grace to be the sibling and Keith his own grace to be the father. No two graces (is that even a word??) are alike. They can be as big or small or bright or smooth as that individual needs for that individual situation. Amazing.

The reason we do not understand how someone is able to endure their life's journey is because it is not ours. It is not our cross to bear or enjoy, depending on what it is. We do not understand because God has not given us their grace.

Countless people (families, friends, strangers) have asked us how we could endure or how we survived and it is ONLY by God's grace. Without it I would have crumpled in to a ball and would be probably living out the rest of my days in an asylum somewhere. I am NOT strong, nor do I claim to be, but I don't need my own strength...I have His. I have His grace. He provides every single thing I have needed and will need to get through every moment. So, the mother who is enduring the 3rd cancer round (relapse now of original cancer) in 3 years has sufficient grace. The grace given to me for my journey would NOT be sufficient for her and I won't pretend otherwise. The mother whose child breezed through treatment and is having absolutely no long term effects...the grace God gave her...won't work for me. That isn't my journey.

Next time you are presented with a situation in which you think, "Oh, I could never do that" or think "What can I do to bear their burden, " remember that God is way ahead of the game. What can you do? Pray, pray and listen to God for what you are to do. Sometimes your part is just to pray and that is fantastic. Sometimes you will have a bigger role, but He will let you know. Don't try to play God to someone else...been there, doesn't work but that is for another entry!

May you always seek God first.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Runaway Horses

Yes, you read that right! We had 3 runaway horses tonight...in the dark, mind you!

As many of you know, especially if you have horses, they are VERY dependent animals. Ours seem to be more so as we have a "dry" paddock which means we have no pasture (just mud in the winter) and it is necessary for us to provide everything they eat. This means twice a day (or more often) someone (usually/always an adult) must be available to trudge through the sticky, sloppy, mucky mess (well, the entire thing isn't that bad, just where they love to stand all day such as the water troughs, around the stalls and around the hay buckets) that our horses have created, with the help of rain, to clean up stalls and standing areas, feed and water and just give lots of attention. This is NOT my favorite thing about having horses. In fact, every day I whine to dear hubby about how much I dislike it and how if I was only working we could afford to have someone else do our job for us. Of course, I would miss the daily love and affection I get from all of them and truly have no intention of handing this job over.

So, it is my job to do it all in the morning and check on them again in the afternoon. It's bad enough that on several occasions I have stepped right out of my boot and barefoot in to the mud (my sock often slides down and off in to my boot leaving me barefoot) or been so stuck that my son has had to get the shovel to get my boot and foot out. On a few occasions I have even landed in the mud but thankfully missed burying my face. Really, I could share TONS of very funny stories concerning me and the mud. For those of you who know me and what a germ-a-phobe I am this would be even more amusing! Anyway, back to my job...in the evening, it is generally hubby's job to clean and feed and water and pick feet although he often talks me in to mucking the stalls while he gets everything else done. Tonight I did not help.

Now, we have one older Arab (Chazz), one old but lovable Icelandic pony (Champ) and two mischevious and sometimes wild baby American Indian Appaloosas (Hope and Running Deer). Chazz, Hope and Running Deer are all EXTREMELY creative and excellent problem solvers. As you can imagine, this makes things very interesting. They know how to open not only the feed room but every single grain bin so now there is a pallet to keep the door from opening much when pushed in and a lock on the handle so they can't open it in the first place. Now the door has a handle that must be lifted 90 degrees and then while held in that position slid open to the left and dropped and all have managed to pick that one up (hence the need for the lock). Thankfully we figured out how to stop them before anyone over indulged and died of colic (absolutely deadly in horses if untreated-for those who are not horse people). This creativity has also allowed them to figure out how to open the stall, untie ropes and string, undue bungy cords and they have been working on getting the gate open. Now, if we hooked the chain for the gate around a nail...they would get away for sure...if there was a push latch...again, goodbye horses...so, we have a heavy duty carabeener that is nearly impossible to open unless you have opposable thumbs...I'll state the obvious here...horses do not. Let's say, however, that it is completely ineffective if you don't lock it!

Dear hubby just threw the chain through the gate while he pulled the hay out of the shed and filled the buckets but had full intentions of going back in through the gate and therefore left it. BUT, he did NOT go back through and the gate stayed just like that. We are not sure if it was the wind or just curious horses (I said before they have been working on the gate) but they managed to get it wide open and off the three of them went in to la-la heaven...the land of fresh grass. Champ was not so lucky as he gets locked in a stall at meal time to prevent everyone else from stealing his prize meals of beet pulp and orchard grass hay pellets (he only has one back tooth after all). Thank heaven Champ remained at home!

Fast forward hours later and hubby goes out to let the pony out for the night and check on the ya-hoos and the gate is wide open! Of course, they didn't hang around, given they were now in the land of opportunity, but headed off in to fresh grass bliss. In a panic, hubby came charging through the door yelling for me to help. Frantically I through on my dirty jeans and in to the night we went.

Now, we are newbies in the horse thing. I assumed they had run for the hills to once again return to the land of the wild mustang where days are filled with frolicking, eating and more frolicking with their massive herds. No, they simply ran across the street to visit the neighboring horse herd. Now, we did not know this initially...we trudged back to the feed room for halters, lead ropes and the ever powerful bucket-o-grain to bribe them. We went to the front yard and began shaking the grain...then we heard the unmistakable holler of Chazz calling to Champ. Our neighbor, thank God we are surrounded by sensible horse people, had lured them in to his pasture (remember they wanted to see their "neigh"bors-too good to resist) and locked them up.

They were in a panic though as they could not figure out how to get home and part of their herd was still here. After reassuring them that we were there to help, not punish, everyone behaved and got their halters on and were led without incident back across the road and home to the safety and security of their very own mud pit.

Not the kind of excitement I enjoy late at night in the pouring down rain!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Momma Questionaire

Typical time of wake-up: I've been getting up around 7am but I would prefer to sleep until 8!

How long you have been a momma: nearly 12 years

How old were you when you became a mom (is this to personal?): 23

Favorite Kids show: Sesame Street

Least Favorite Kids show: Life with Derek, Zoey 101, SpongeBob

Favorite chore: Vacuum-I love to have my floor dog hair free!

Least favorite chore: Cleaning the bathrooms, I hate the smell of bleach!

Meal you cook most often: When I cook? The meal we eat most often is spaghetti

Kids favorite meal: Definitely, their dad's spaghetti

5 things that make you smile when you are being a mom: 1. The kids laughing together. 2. Homeschooling and watching my kids have that "ah-ha!" moment when they learn something new. 3. Reading to my kids from stories I loved when I was young. 4. When my kids push themselves beyond their comfort zones and succeed. 5. Lots of daily hugs and kisses.

Favorite thing your husband does with your kids: Rides horses and helps with rodeo...Keith NEVER misses spending time with them and helping them at the rodeos. He is always right there to comfort and coach them and does an excellent job knowing how to balance between the two.

Last time you went out with no kids: When Keith and I went to see "I am Legend" in December...hmmm...sounds like we need to go out again soon!

If you could take your kids anywhere where would it be: Disneyland for sure! That was the best family vacation ever...everyone had such a fabulous time and we went from sun up to sun down. I have never seen my husband laugh and smile so much.

Favorite pastime/activity with kids: Rodeo and riding horses but I also love homeschooling, camping, reading to them, attending sports events such as baseball and rodeo, exploring, hiking, going to the zoo or OMSI, cooking...boy, I could just go on and on and on...we love hanging out with the kids.

1 thing you said you would never do when you were a mom: I would never give the explanation "Because I said so!" but sadly...I do say it on rare occasions.

If you had an afternoon to yourself what would you do? Read, ride horses or scrapbook

1 thing you do that your mom did & now you do: Read to my kids...nothing fostered my love of reading or learning better than having lots of books read to me as a child.

Favourite quality of your own mom: Her ability to persevere through even the toughest situations and the fact that she always has plenty of hugs no matter how old I get.

Favorite kids book: Oh, I have so many!! I LOVE reading Dr. Seuss books to my kids...I REALLY get in to it and seem to get louder and louder as the story goes on.

Best advice for a new mom: Just remember with every phase...this, too, shall pass. When I was in the throws of difficult phases, this kept my sanity and in the wonderful ones, I held on to every moment. Also, what you kids want more than anything is time...not toys or expensive games or lavish vacations...they just want to play with you.

Scariest or most heartbreaking moment as a mom: When Kennedy was diagnosed with cancer. It was as heartbreaking to walk through it with her as it was to see the sadness in my son's eyes when we had to be apart.

Most joyful moment as a mom: Watching Kennedy kick the crap out of cancer and seeing my son tame the wild beasts of rodeo.

Last time your child told you they love you: this morning

Last time you said I love you to your kid(s):this morning

Now go tell your kids how great they are give them a big hug & kiss! I think you are all the best moms ever, and are doing a heck of a job!And I now tag anyone who wants to do this!