.....................................................one story may not change the world ~ but your story can change someone's world......................................................
................................................................................your story matters ~ live a page-turner...........................................................................................

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Dear Wildcat,

I'm having trouble sleeping tonight.

Tonight you are a Wildcat. But by this time tomorrow, you will be a Bulldog.

Tomorrow you graduate.

By every measure of the school and state
and even above and beyond both of those,
you meet and exceed the requirements set that say you are a graduate of high school.


I knew this would happen.

Somehow, when you were born and I started to feed you, something inside of me said that you would grow up, drive cars, date girls, excel in school and move on. Great. So feeding you seems to be where I went wrong.....

....if keeping you close was what the goal was.


I guess I knew from even before you were born that I would have to give you away.

You know the story of before you were born. How I thought I was losing you. How I promised to give you to God if He would please let me keep you.

He did. And you entered the world at a whopping 10 1/2 pounds.

thanks God. Not exactly what I meant but, cool. Way unforgettable. Love how you work in those ways....

So since you were such a giant when you were born, it turned out that the doctors were concerned with your brain and your collar bone. One was broken during the whole entrance in to the world. The other was deprived of oxygen for longer than they thought would render you as "normal."

So you are my miracle.

And just so you know, "normal" is a setting in the dryer.

You have been defying "normal settings" ever since....well, before you were born.

And you have been doing this as a Durant Wildcat.

I know you have been moving on and doing extremely great things both in and outside of Durant. Some of those things have been recognized. For example, I can't fall asleep tonight without mentioning how you were named the National Youth Leader of the Year, or that you were one of eleven students in the state that served as a page for the Iowa Senate. Just of those two things, you were ONE in the nation and ONE of ELEVEN in the state. 

Whether recognized locally or not, I think these are truly amazing.

When we wake up tomorrow, you will be preparing to address your classmates as a Wildcat. And when the ceremony is over, you will be a Bulldog.

I don't know what to say.  Other than this:

I am so proud of you.
I am proud of all you have accomplished
And all you have had to overcome.
I am proud of your drive.
Of your willingness to find a new dream
When the one you had was taken away.
I am proud of your dedication to your team,
and to your class.
I am proud of your dedication to the community
And to our State and Country. 
I am proud of your dedication and drive to take the next steps
to follow your dreams
believing that no matter the cost, 
that God has placed a dream on your heart
and you are going after it....
....even without certainty.

So mostly,
I am proud of your 

Because that is what you are operating on right now.
If I can give you any advice it would be this:

God has brought you this far,
You will face more obstacles.
But I don't think He would place these dreams on your heart 
only to let you down now. 

Honor God.
Live Your Dream.
and always know that there is someone on this side of heaven who believes in you.

Love, Mama

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Being Foolish

I love April Fool's Day.

I love jokes. I love it when my kids try to play jokes on me. I love dishing it right back. I'm on to all this April Fool's Day stuff.

Need to take your pregnant friend to the doctor, you say?
Take the bus. And I have always wanted to adopt.

Need me to bail you out of jail, you say?
Enjoy the balogna sandwich. We are out of bread anyway.

Dropping out of school to join the circus, you say?
Not much different than home, except people buy a ticket. Maybe we should start charging admission?

(as a bit of a side-note here, I should probably mention that the day is not over, and I could have a completely different take on today by the time tomorrow hits.)

Anyways, all of this April Fool's stuff actually makes me think of something that I want to say and it could be foolish.

Maybe not so much foolish as it is bold. And being bold may seem foolish. But it is something that I want all of my kids to be.

Want to graduate from college debt free? Do it. Go for it. It is a lofty goal, but what is the worst that could happen if you try?

Want to say that you will make it to state in your sport? Go for it. I'll save up the money for the hotel room so I can watch you meet your goal.

Want to travel this summer? You have saved all year for your DC trip, your missions trip and who says you can't go on that cross country trip? You never know if you don't try.

What are your goals?
Are you willing to be bold enough to seem foolish to achieve them?

I want to write a book. Actually, I want to write two.

It seems silly for me to say this, because I have wanted to write a book for at least a dozen years.

But this is my goal.
Not even joking.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Method to my March Madness

It's time, folks.

I'm sure there are several bracketologists out there just waiting for this blog post.

In the past, I have used an unconventional way of choosing teams for my bracket. You can read a little about it here:  MY MARCH MADNESS 

This year I just did not have enough time to take all of these steps to study and choose my teams.

So I worked backwards and forwards based entirely on the team MASCOT.

If, during the team choosing process in the bracket, I did not understand what your mascot was without looking it up, or if you just didn't sound as tough as the other team...then you lose.

If you were a Wildcat or a Bulldog...then you automatically advanced. Because I am partial to those. EXCEPT in the case of the first round Iowa vs Davidson game....I love my Herkey the Hawkeye.

But even Herkey loses to a Bulldog.

In the end, it's all a big dog and cat fight.

And the Wildcats Win!

Because I am especially partial to Wildcats!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

So What religion are you?

“So what religion are you?”

If you are asking if I am a Christian, the answer is yes.

If you are asking me what I am religious about, well that is a completely different topic. 

And tonight, it is one that is close to my heart, especially when one of my cubs is feeling attacked from those on the outside. About “religion.”

I’m not a good one to answer the question…”what religion are you?”

I grew up near a baptist church. Raised my hand and asked Jesus in my heart there. Was baptized, took communion, and went to my first youth group class there. 

And spent every other weekend at an evangelical free church with my dad and step-mom.

After a few years, my mom and step-dad felt like the little baptist church in stockton lacked a certain appeal for high school youth when it was obvious that WE were the high school youth. So every other Sunday, they packed us in to the Chrysler Labaron and we drove 30 minutes to my Aunt Bitsy’s church. Can’t remember what it was called. But it was a Pentecostal church and had a pretty good reputation for their youth program. 

At 15 years of age,  I missed my Stockton Baptist (Boring). It was home. At least every other weekend it was.

So as a young adult, if you asked me what religion I was, I would say “draw a card.” I was a baptist, an e-free, a pentecostal, and I married in to a catholic family. If you asked me where my church home was, it was at Calvary, a church that has baptist roots, but I would compare them more with non-denominational.

But religion is more than just church.  I know people who are very religious and have never set foot in a church building. You can be just as or even more religious about your job or your favorite sport than you ever are about Christ. Can I get an amen? You know what I mean.

And if I were to actually follow the example of Jesus himself, He didn’t really even hang out with the “religious” types.  He associated with tax collectors, lepers, thieves, those of ill-repute, and, well…you get it. I don’t know how else to say this, but he didn't preach to the choir. Plus, he was Jewish. So, bam. 

I’d like to say this about “religion”: I’m pretty sure when the day of our judgement comes and we are standing at the gates of heaven, God isn’t going to say, “What was the name on the outside of the building that you went to church to.”

In other words, He isn’t going to say, “What religion are you?” 

Obviously I don’t know this for sure, but I’m guessing that at the gates of heaven, God is going to be a little more concerned with this: “Who is my Son, Jesus, to you?” 

He is going to look on the inside of every minute of our hearts, not the outside of the buildings we spent one hour a week in. 

I am 41 years old. I have been a christian for much of my life. But if you ask me what religion I am, if you are looking for a denominational answer, I am not sure I can answer that. 

And I don’t even know if Jesus would want me to. 

(and I am almost 42. I feel I should say that should lighting strike)

So to my dear, sweet child who is feeling attacked about religion: I can see your heart. But more importantly, God can see your heart. And that matters more than the name of the church you went to today. 

Matthew 22:36-40New International Version (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Saturday, February 14, 2015

And that's how we role: the wedding edition

It’s been a fun weekend so far.

Last night we took Claire and Tookie to see the movie “Old Fashioned” and out for supper.

Today had a list of things that needed to get done: pick up some groceries, go to the bank, get some cat food, stop by Radio Shack, bake brownies for the church thing, gas up the car for our trip to see Nathan in Des Moines, elope, go around and tell everybody about it, give the dog a bath, feed the kids, eat, drink and be merry.

So you know, a completely normal day. Except I have a new name. 

In case you missed it, that was a wedding announcement. 

We got the piece of paper.

We have been planning a wedding for a long time. The problem is that I am a horrible planner. And I am kind of cheap. And we have been trying and trying (3 times in the last two years to be exact) to get everyone together and throw a small, surprise wedding. Plans just didn’t work. Life just didn’t cooperate. The excitement of planning a wedding started to be not so exciting. 

I didn’t wanted my wedding day to not be exciting. As it turns out, I didn’t really need all of the hoopla to make it great for me. 

Brian and I have been together for a long time. We didn’t necessarily need to go out and get the piece of paper to make it official. But we wanted to. We wanted to make a statement about our relationship that honors God. We wanted to show our friends and family that even though we have done a few things backwards, this was still important to us. 

That it is never too late to take the opportunity to do what is right in your heart.

And we couldn’t wait for the perfect time. With 7 kids between the two of us, we have learned over and over again that the perfect time to get everyone in the same place at the same time and on the same page doesn’t actually exist. There is no perfect time. But there is the right thing.

So today is the day that our commitment became official. We visited with our pastor and we got married. Tucked in between all of the other things. Because that is us. That’s just how we roll.

Tucking our marriage vows in between a couple of days of work with nothing too special leading up to it or after it may not make for an exciting, storybook wedding day. But it is our story. 

I love our story. I love our day. 

On the outside, tomorrow may look absolutely no different than yesterday. But because of today, we are different. We are Mr. and Mrs. Brian Grunder. 

So if we had invited everyone to the wedding, what you would have witnessed:

On the day of the big event, the bride was adorned in what she will now refer to as her “wedding jeans.” Slightly faded and in a boot-cut style, they complimented the bride’s made-for-comfort sweater perfectly. Both can be viewed at the next choir or band concert. Or ballgame. 

The groom was looking dapper in his very own “wedding jeans,” formerly known to the couple as the “best deal at Farm and Fleet.” His chosen shirt was a black thermal which did not clash at all with the sweater worn by the bride. 

While this official statement about their wedding may appear to be somewhat unorthodox, rest assured that their wedding vows toed the line of unconventional as well. 

In their vows, the couple recognized each other’s proven commitment to each other in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, and the bride read a statement kind of like this:

Dear Brian,

You have been there for me when all is well:  the good days of parenting, the exciting times, days when I am feeling on top of my game and on top of the world.

You have been there for me on days of nothing special:  the days of going through the motions, we eat, work, sleep and wake up and do it all again the next day. 

You have been there for me in times of trial:  when good health wasn’t a guarantee, when kids veer from what we think is best, when money in the bank doesn’t exist, when motives have been attacked by those on the outside.

You have been there for me even when you weren’t sure you understood me:  you listen to my off-the-wall way of making sense of things, you show me grace when my mouth doesn’t take the time to filter through things that should have stayed in my head.

The last few years have been full of life and everything that it means.  Fun, games, humor. Happy tears, sad tears, trials of many varieties.  Kids…mine and yours. 

The writer in me knows that every good story worth immersing yourself in takes the reader through ups and downs, with love, action, mystery and even conflict. A good story is one in which the reader feels connected with the words on the page.  Our story has not been the perfect fairy tale.  But it is a story that I am connected to on a soul-level, and one that is still being written.  I love our story. My only regret is that it has taken us a while to get this part right. Today is way more than just getting that piece of paper. That piece of paper is a statement about honoring God in our relationship. That piece of paper is the first page of a new chapter in our story.

As your wife, I will proudly walk with you through each chapter of the rest of our lives.

The couple regrets not being able to have everyone they love share in this special day, but do hope to celebrate their wedding sometime this summer when all of their family can be present. 

I’m guessing it won’t be a formal event. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

I remember it like it was yesterday...

It was yesterday 
that I found out that I was expecting my first child.
That I was panicked because the situation wasn't ideal.
Definitely not perfect.
A day that I resolved that I would try to do better.
To be better.
For my child.

It was yesterday
that I was starting to show.
That I first knew the meaning of true love.
A love that would do anything to save the life that I thought I was going to lose
The one closest to my heart
In my womb.
A love that was revealed by your footprint through
my skin.

It was yesterday
that I begged God to please let me have you
to not lose you
And I promised to raise you
To love and know HIM.
If He let me have you,
I promised to give you back to Him.

It was yesterday
that you were born
In such a traumatic way
That I was told it was a miracle
That you survived.

It was yesterday
that the first glimpse of you I had
Was from across a crowded room
I saw your fat little thigh
Through a bunch of white coats
And heard nothing but garbled voices
Until one
Finally broke through.
Your cry.

It was yesterday
That I walked around a small apartment
Carrying you in my arms
Singing to you
Because you hated it
When I sat down.

It was yesterday
That I walked you in to your first day of school.
Your sister cried.
She didn't know what to do without you.
And I cried too.

It was yesterday
That a teacher and principal called me in to the school
Because they didn't know what to do with you.
You were acting up
And out.
I blamed myself.
But I understood that you needed
to walk when you talked.

It was yesterday
that you taught yourself how to ride your bike.
You waited and waited for me to be done taking care of your sisters
And I looked out the window
And you were getting ready to balance on your bike
And you yelled at God
to stop the wind....so you could ride your bike.
And you rode your bike while
yelling at God.

It was yesterday
that I sat through a parent-teacher conference
And your teacher told me how they loved
having you in their classroom
But you tended to
I was reminded of your first days of you being way more calm when I walked and talked with you in my arms.

It was yesterday
That I thought I was losing you
A rare blood disorder
That mimicked
Threatened my every dream.
Until you proved it wrong.

It was yesterday
That I thought I lost you again
When a police officer showed up at my door
Explaining that there was a roll-over car accident
They thought you were involved in
But had not located you yet.

It was yesterday
That you decided to not let any bad circumstances
Dictate what you did with your life.
You went from QB on the high school football team
To Kicker
Because that was your only option
And you
Made it work.
Because that was the team you wanted to be on.

It was yesterday
That you started to apply for scholarships
And leadership conferences.
You won a local position
You went on to the national conference
And it was yesterday 
that you won the highest honor at that national level.

It was yesterday 
That you applied for a position at our State's Capitol.
And you got it.

It was yesterday
That I prayed for you
And prayed for you
Through all of your days.
Days before you were born
And every day since.
Days that I thought I would lose you
And days that I saw you thrive
Days that I held on to you
And days that I knew I had to let you go.

It is today
That I know that I have to let you go
for real.
The Day
that I knew that no matter what
I had to give you back
to God
and to the world
to do what God has planned for you.

You are a leader.
You are an encourager.
You are who God made you to be.
The person I prayed for before I ever saw your face.
The person who has already overcome so many odds.
The person who has already inspired so many others.

The Bible says that Children are a heritage from the Lord. A gift.

You are the first of THE GREATEST gifts
I have ever known.
You have been and continue to be
Big Brother.
And a son....
You are a "heritage from the Lord."

And it feels like it was
Just yesterday
that we just met.

And now it is like practically tomorrow 
that I have to let you go.

I really don't want to.
But I know
Just yesterday
I promised to give you back.

And I do so
that you have the tools
stand strong
and be courageous
and live each day
With the purpose
That God has had for your life
Since before you were born.

When if feels like people are against you
Remember that nothing is impossible
When you have God on your side.

When it feels like you are not enough,
Remember that God is. 

Remember that God Hand-Picked you 
You were chosen
By Him
to live with purpose and passion. 
Live it like an adventure.
Acts 26:16
Isaiah 41:10

And it is okay if you don't always get it.
For real.

I did not know everything when I first knew of you.
But intuitively
I knew
That one of the greatest things in this world that I would ever do
Wouldn't be something that I did myself
But be in the
People I raised.


I have loved you with my life.
And my heart.
And my soul.

It is not because you are an adult that I let you go.
And I really do not even let you go.

I give you back.
To God
To Bless the World
To leave your footprint on the world
The same way you left your footprint on my skin
From the inside

To go
And Make Your Mark
On this world that you 
Live in
A world that is better
Because you are here.

I thank God for all of these yesterdays.
And I pray for every day
And every tomorrow
That God will continue to bless
Through you.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Mama Math

So math isn't something I love. Not something I am good at. As a matter of fact, it is officially documented as to how un-good I am when it comes to math.

I had to take a compass test before I enrolled in college courses some 20-ish (see, I can't come up with the number) years after I would be considered a traditional college student.

As it turns out, I am pretty good when it comes to words, grammar and style.

But when it comes to math, I have to take a math course in order to get in to a math course.

But there is some math that I totally get. And specific equations seem to make perfect sense.

For example, there are:

13 days until Nathan turns 18,
21 days until he starts his first day as a senate page

And that adds up to:

6,570 days that I have cared for him
6,840 days that I have prayed for him

I'm not for certain if this is called inverse proportion, but it seems to work that way.

The less days I have with these kids adds up to that many more days that I have prayed for and loved them.

That's what I call, Mama Math.