Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

If you are wondering about the status of my 2010 Christmas letter, rest assured that you didn't miss it. 
Because it doesn't exist. 

I had planned on getting one out in some fashion for 2010. 
But sometimes plans just don't cooperate with reality. 
Somehow, that seemed to be a theme weaved throughout the year 2010 for me. 
And as I look back, I'm thinking that maybe that is okay.

The kids and I started last year out in a new home. 
I had spent the last half of 2009 looking to rent or buy a home in the country that was still within our current school district.  Places we looked at were either not in my price range or not in our district. By November of 2009, my (step)dad had been doing some work for a lady who owns properties in Durant and she had a house coming open in December.  It is not a home in the country; however, it is an old farmhouse on the edge of town.
While this wasn't what I had been planning for, it turns out to be better. We rent a house that was probably a farmhouse when it was first built. It is on a fairly quiet street on the edge of town and I have great GREAT neighbors. We fit well in this house and the kids can ride their bikes or walk over even when they are staying at their dad's house. (this has turned out to be an important plus)
I'm happy that my plans didn't work out.

I started out the year working at a local printing company. 
I did a variety of jobs at Images in Ink.  From basically making copies, to editing to writing ad copy. I really enjoyed some of the behind the scenes work at the printing company as well.  There is an art to working at a place like this.  I liked going to work.

It was sometime in early February when my work there ended.  Unfortunately.
I woke up one morning in excruciating pain.
If you have never felt nerve pain, then let me just tell you that it is the worst physical pain that I have ever felt.
(Not to discount emotional pain and heartache. It's just that now I can say that I've felt the worst of both. As far as God has let me experience.)

The pain I felt was shooting down my right arm. I was weak and could not do anything with it.
My employer would not let me come to work until I had a full release.

The long-story-short is that it took me 7 weeks of jumping through medical insurance hoops to find out what I already knew:  A herniated disk was causing the nerve pain in my arm.

The answer:  surgery.

The last of March I underwent a spinal fusion between C6 and C7 in my neck.

For 6 weeks I wore a neck brace, didn't drive, didn't lift anything over 5 pounds and generally spent my time.....sitting around.
Maybe depressed.
Probably healing.
Definitely worrying.
And not able to physically do anything.

I had a lot of time to spend with myself.
And with God.
And it wasn't the best time I have had in my life.
I had to depend on other people to help me out.

I healed.
Surgery was a success.
No more pain in my arm.

I got a full release from the University of Iowa by the end of June.
I also learned that my job at the printing company no longer existed.
That didn't really fit in with my plans.

I spent the rest of the summer at all of the kids' ball games and looking for jobs.

The ball games part turned out to be great fun!
The job-hunting wasn't so much fun.

As it turned out, a lady that I had reconnected with at the Quad Cities Christian Writers' Conference had introduced me to someone she knew who did a lot of online writing.  I was able to learn how to do this and make some money while writing online. From home. 

Not the "writing" route I thought I would ever take.  But it is turning out to be profitable.
And I did find a local job once the kids went to school working as a cook at a coffee shop in town.
It turns out that I am pretty good at cooking multiple orders and for a crowd.
Who'd a thunk it?

Job wise...I am working as a cook at lunch time and writing articles for online outlets throughout the rest of the week.

It is a good fit for me right now.

Definitely not ANYTHING I had hoped or planned for.....
....but again....
maybe better.

I had an opportunity to become involved with a ministry for women in crisis this last year.  It seemed so right. So perfect. So....exactly what I would have loved to write and speak about.

But the finances were not there.  Meaning.....maybe it wasn't the right thing.

But the opportunity planted a seed.
And it is something that I may be able to do in the future.....but not exactly the way I thought it would work out this summer. 
I have to sort of think that maybe this is part of a bigger plan as well????

I still continue to pursue print publication.  I have had articles published in LA Family Magazine, The Virginia Child Guide and Texas Suburban Parent Magazine. 

So far, this is all about me......
.....and I am just not me without my kids. 

So I gotta talk about them.


This is one busy guy.
Nathan is in 8th grade.
Summer was spent mowing lawns, playing baseball and golfing.
This fall he was the quaterback of his football team.
After Christmas break, he will be starting his basketball season.
And taking his test to get his drivers' permit.
I'm not sure when or how it exactly happened....but I think it went something like this:
One day, I blinked.
And my baby boy grew up into a handsome young man. 
He takes such good care of his mama and his sisters. 
I do not know what I ever did to deserve such a gift.

Is in 7th grade this year.
Fully enjoying Jr. High.
She was busy playing sports this year too.
ASA softball this summer.
And her 7th grade basketball team just finished their season going undefeated.
She loves (loves loves) to read. Over the summer she would have her nose in a book every spare minute she had.
Marz helps me out a ton with the little girls.
And she is probably my best friend.
I'm not sure exactly when or how it happened....but I think I did something blink my eyes
.....and she went from being my baby girl to a beautiful young lady.
No idea what I ever did to deserve such a precious gift in Marisa.

Something about this girl makes me smile and want to pull my hair out all at the same time.
She is tough, strong willed, smart and beautiful.
She is sort of a comedian....always quick with an off-the-wall one-liner.
She always seems to know what she wants and stops at nothing to get it.
Claire-bear is in 4th grade this year.
She plays basketball and softball and loves being a part of girl scouts.
This girl likes to "hang out" with her friends.
I'm keeping a really close eye on her. Becuase I'm afraid that I am going to do that blinking thing again....
....and my little girl won't be my little girl anymore.
This kid challenges me to be a better mama and a better person.
I am not deserving of such a gift as I have in Claire.

My baby is in 3rd grade.
(I can't believe my baby is in 3rd grade!)
She's all beauty and brains....but she uses her "baby-of-the-family" status to get what she wants.
She was busy with softball this year...and is going to start her first basketball season after Christmas.
Recently she was wondering what someone who is sort of a tomboy but likes to wear earings and nail polish is called.
I don't have a name to describe this other than to say this is what I call "Danielle."
I'm just so sure that my baby girl will always be my baby girl. But just in case....I'm not gonna blink.
I'm a lucky mama to have been given this precious baby girl. 
She's not a baby anymore....but I'm choosing to live a little while longer in denial about this. 

Denial is a gift too. 

I have some new year's resolutions.

But I am hesitant to say what they I've learned my lesson when it comes to plans. 

Needless to say, my resolutions revolve around those I love.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord.
Plans to prosper you and not harm you
Plans to give you hope and a future.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Yeah Me.

'Cuz I got me a new writing gig.
If you can imagine that.
Might be difficult as I tend to, at times here on the blog, ignore some of the more important rules of grammar and style.
(doesn't mean i don't know 'em)


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Comment About Comments

Are you reading this?
Do you visit me here...

Feel free to leave a comment.
I mostly like those.

And if I don't like it, no worries.
I will just delete you.

Monday, December 27, 2010


My 4th grader and I were chatting about new years' resolutions.  She asked questions about what it means when people say "what is your new years' resolution?"

I told her that people like to set goals for themselves for the new year.  Like eating healthier or exercising or some of the more popular ones.

She asked if a new year's resolution could be just as simple as doing something you have always wanted to do or do more of something you enjoy.

"of course," I explain.  "Those are the best kind of resolutions."

She says her new year's resolutions are to take pictures and make scrapbooks.
And to create a rubberband ball....
....'cause she has always wanted to make a rubber band ball and maybe if she makes it a goal, 2011 will be the year she finally accomplishes this task. 

So I ask the other kids if they have new years' resolutions.

I got answers like get better at playing sports, read more books, take more pictures, hang out with my friends, see how much junk food I can eat before I puke....

So I am inspired by these ideas. 

I think in 2011 I resolve to:
Play more
Hang out with people I love
Read things of interest
Eat good food (but not till I puke)
Capture and share moments on camera
Make something I have never made before, just cuz I want to try it.....probably not a rubber band ball...but you never know.

And maybe, just maybe, take a step or two or three out of my comfort zone and towards a dream. 

Or just make a rubber band ball. 
Because, random as it may be, it does sound sorta fun...
And it is good to have a goal.
Another thing I didn't get done....the Christmas letter. 
Oh well. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Card

I think I'm gonna post my Christmas letter here to the blog. 

Right after I write it. 


Feeling on top of things right now.....


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Challenge Day, Changes & Chips...

....that sums up my week.....

Challenge day was, in a word, amazing. 
I had the opportunity to be an adult participant in Challenge Day this last week.  And let me just say that I was fully prepared to be there as a volunteer in whatever way was needed.  I was thinking that I was so in to just learning about what Challenge Day was all about, and so why not volunteer.  Maybe I could make somebody else's job easier that day.  Maybe I would get a chance to make a difference in somebody's life.  Maybe I would be able to help somebody out. 


What I wasn't prepared for was how much of an impact that Challenge Day had on me.
How much being around the leaders
and students
would impact me.
For the better.

The day was amazing.
And in such simple ways. 

A big thing that I got out of the day was just how much oppression goes on all. over. the. place.
Just when you thing you might be the only person in the world going through whatever it is in the world you are going through.... are probably wrong.
Our friends and neighbors are going through the same stuff.

And we all probably want to reach out.
To each other.
But maybe don't know how.

I can go on.
and I will.
nother time.

Changing things up.....
So I've had some pretty good success with doing some online writing and reporting.
Gotten some decent writing gigs. 
Paying writing gigs.

And a year ago, this avenue is not the way I would have thought that I would want to pursue writing.

Because real writers have published books.
Impressive bylines.
Signature plantforms.

But life happens.
And priorities cannot always be where the heart is.
I get that.
Cause I'm a grownup. 
(Most of the time.)

So my priority this last year became to produce an income.
While in a neck brace.
While unemployed.
And for some of the time, while I couldn't lift anything over the weight of a gallon of milk, turn my head more than a few degrees one way or the other and not drive my car.

Hmmmm.  that pretty much leaves....
....not much.

So I am thankful for the friend from the Quad Cities Christian Writers' Conference who introduced me to someone who makes her living by writing for online outlets.  She taught me how to do this. 

And even though I don't make a living by writing for the world wide web, I have made enough to make up for some lost income over the year and even to help Santa out a bit. 

I love helping Santa.

And, I have changed the way that I perceive myself.

I'm good at it.
Even the not-so-fun stuff that needs to be written.
Somebody has to write it.
And somebody is gonna read it.

The book deal????
It's on the bucket list.
Along with some other dreams that I am getting a little bit braver about sharing.  And maybe daring. 

This is because I  don't want to pass up trying new things.
Especially when it comes to carbs.
Or something new at Jeff's Market:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

For Emily

The heavens are so lucky tonight
To have a new angel
Whose smile is so bright
I'm sure you are laughing
And dancing along
Some streets of gold
Sharing your song

I wonder
Did Jesus himself reach his hand out to you
And escort you through heaven's gates
Did he mention that he had been waiting for you
To meet with you face to face

I bet there was a choir of heavenly hosts
Welcoming you to the place
That you thought you would know when the time came
To enter into His grace

Was there a huge party?
I bet there was.
With you, their awaited for  guest.
And all of the heavens were ready, on cue...
To show you the best of the best.

I have to say that
Things feel so wrong
When we look at the spot where
we think you belong.

But because of heaven
And because I know
Your heart was there
It was just your time to go

I can say that it's true
that heaven is lucky tonight.
And even though, it doesn't feel right
You are where we all long to be
Even if it isn't clear
for us to see.

You are in our hearts
You are filling them with love
You are with our creator
Jesus, above

The heavens declare the glory of God
And tonight
You are leading the show
Every time
We look up at the stars
And we see their glow
We will see the glory of God
And remember that you sing his praise
You will be in our heart
In our song
In our thoughts
You will remain

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Dear Bad Day,

Dear Bad Day,

You have ticked me off enough for one day.
I think I am going to kick your ass. 


apparently my patience and sanity is being tested everywhere i turn.
okay then.

as soon as i get done having a good cry, i'm gonna put on a better attitude and say:

"Bring it."