Changes in the Wind…

There is a new development to my blog site now and I will explain it to you.

While I will continue to use this as a personal blog about life, love, family, Faith, etc., I am also going to be focusing on my life as a writer in an effort to build up my credibility among the social networks on the world wide web.

So here it is. I am beginning a new chapter in life that actually coincides with the other chapters: Mother, Wife, Daughter…

Now I add Chapter – Author

Write now (and yes that was a pun…) I am working on a fantasy story about a fairy tale with a twist. Rather the idea is that fairy tales are definitely off kilter and…oh what the heck. I will just give you the working tagline:

Every girl dreams about being a princess in a fairy tale…Pity this princess never dreamed about a fairy tale like this one.

As I mentioned, it’s a work in progress…make that a very new work in progress so it will be some time before you all see the story behind this tag. But I will be regularly updating my progress on here as soon as I figure out how to do so creatively. Anyone with website-making savvy is welcome to apply. The pay sucks at first (you get nothing other than the satisfaction of helping a poor ignorant; but I promise some of the proceeds once I get a book contract. More details when we get there.

I would love to have you come with me on a journey to Live my dream. After all, that’s what this whole blog is about. Seize the Day and all that! 🙂

Sincerely,

Sarah

Holidays, Hobgoblins, and Heaven

My daughter is a brilliant kid. Which automatically makes her suspect when anything unusual happens around the house. That and the fact that she is the only other one in the house during the day and I tend to be too sluggishly pregnant and adult-like to cause trouble – most of the time…

Bella likes to clean up – any mess and this girl is on it like a moth to a flame. Which may surprise some mothers because I have been told that kids don’t do chores unless they are literally forced to under pain of tears, discipline, and loss of privileges. Seriously though, my daughter is made of special stock and it did not come from me. I am an adult and I hate cleaning…I am good at it…when I get around to it that is. Bella has been known to throw a fit if she cannot for some reason participate in the Keem-up process (and no that is not a misspelling – it’s her word for doing chores.)

In the end, the hobgoblin mischief that she performs seems to cancel out with the nearly OCD tendencies to deal with the resulting messes. Except in her own room; and really, as long as the mess remains contained there, I really don’t care. She really is a brilliant kid – and that does not always mean trouble I have come to discover. She even feeds the dog – by hand because apparently, it is disgraceful for Bear to eat out of her own food bowl. We are still working on that – I am getting kind of tired of tripping over the dog food pieces that Bear missed.

Okay, now that I am done bragging about my beautiful, helpful, wonderful daughter… 🙂

The holidays have always been my favorite time of year for various reasons. The usual being the sights, smells, sounds, and flavors of the season. I would say that my main reason was because it was the season to celebrate gratefulness and the birth of our Savior, but for honesty purposes I will admit that this was not always the case. It is a part of the process, but I definitely focused more on the temporary and material parts of the holidays. This will explain the reason why each year’s holiday ending brought with it a sense of melancholy and disappointment – until the next year’s celebrations began.

This year, I am so excited by a revelation brought about by God’s prompting that I have a feeling the disappointment and melancholy will be absent by the end.

Lately, we have become reawakened to the plight of the poor and the needy. Now we are not rich by any means, but we have our needs and even many wants met and statistically we are in the top 10% of the world’s wealthiest people. That is staggering to me. I always thought of myself as sort of middle-class, but the fact that 90% of the world is poorer than me quite changes my perspective.

So what are we doing with these riches we have been blessed with by an amazing God? Not nearly enough. This will be the goal of our family from here on out. We will use our excess, our resources, to reach out to those in need – no matter how big or small the need. Instead of focusing our Christmas holidays on gift-giving and material accumulation like we have done every other year, we are going to start teaching Bella what we should have been learning ourselves long ago. That everything we have belongs to God and it is to be used – not in selfish gain and greed – for the welfare of others.

Not to say that gift-giving is a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong. I love having glittery, wrapped boxes under the tree waiting to be opened on Christmas morning. But we have lived so long with this concept of spending wildly over the holidays to fulfill a bunch of wants, knowing that within months, we will have forgotten that we wanted it at all. We focus on being fair to everyone, making sure that no one gets more than another – because God forbid, our children learn that nothing in life is fair. We make gift-giving an obligation and a forced habit, taking all of the joy and blessing out of the gifts.

This year, we are starting something new. Now we will be searching for ways to use the stewardship God granted us to bless others whether they be family, friends, or even – maybe especially – strangers. Thus our gifts will truly be given from the heart and will not lose the blessing that they were meant to hold.

I cannot wait to get started…

Just to get some perspective

I am posting my latest written work in serial form on here, since I have to wait to actually attempt to publish it for real until after January! GAH…anyhoo, I could definitely use some ideas on how to make it better in the meantime…

Today’s post is the prologue and first chapter…and yes, this is definitely my own little beginnings as a self-marketer… 🙂

***

 

Prologue: A Life Truly Lived…

 

It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth — and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up — that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.

– Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

***

There is no one who understands Living better than the dying…every precious moment, every breath of air from their lungs, every morning they open their eyes and see another sunrise. From the day of their death sentence to the day they fall asleep for the last time on this earth, life holds a meaning and a purpose beyond any mortal reckoning. Every moment is savored, knowing that it might be their last.

The oddest thing about the dying is that the closer they get to those black, unknown gates the more they seem to realize that life as they knew it – even fully lived – pales in comparison to what lies beyond. The dying soul seems to reach out instinctively for what hides behind the veil, and if it does not fight its course, it accepts that there is more to life than death.

 

The living do not seem to feel that irrevocable pull, for their souls are too immersed in the here and now. They fear the unknown voice of Death, whose siren song is silenced by the noise and busyness they call life. Morbidly entertained by stories of death and destruction, they cannot bear to truly face their own mortality. The human nature fights against what it cannot see or feel or touch or taste or hear…no one has died and lived to tell about it, although there are some who may have heard the call and been turned back before they actually embraced it in full. The living shudder in terror and fight Death with everything they have.

So how ironic is it that from the moment one takes their first screaming breath in this big, cold world, they are already dying?

If more people were aware they were dying a little more every day, what would their Living look like?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One: Zoe Elizabeth Hamilton

 

Dear God –

Mom says the doctors have to run more tests today. I don’t know what they are looking for anymore since they already know I have cancer. I know the last treatment didn’t get it all. The needles and tests and stuff are more scary than the fact that I am probably not going to make it to my thirteenth birthday. But every time I complain about those things, I think it makes mom and dad more upset. They keep hoping and praying that one day the tests will show I am cancer free.

I don’t tell them that I know better. They might think I am giving up hope altogether. I don’t think I am though. I just get this feeling that YOU might need me with you sooner than they would wish.

It’s okay though God.

– Zoe Elizabeth Hamilton

***

“Zoe, it’s time for your appointment,” The twelve year old sighed heavily and slipped the sheets of paper back into her private box. Making sure that the lock was secure, she grabbed her sweater and a baseball cap and left her bedroom.

“Coming mom,” Zoe called out, knowing that her mother would be storming up the stairs if she didn’t answer in a timely fashion.

A recent bout of seizures had left her parents in a panic each time she left their sight. It had taken all of her willpower to fight their insistence on taking shifts in her room at night when she slept. When she finally offered a compromise in the form of a baby monitor by her bed, they reluctantly backed down. Still, she learned to respond quickly when they called – it was either that or face a hysterical stampede as everyone in the family bolted to her last known location. The first time had been kind of funny to watch actually, until her mother was still crying two hours later.

That was the problem with dying – everyone took her far too seriously now and laughter was almost non-existent. She wanted to hear the joyful sounds that used to happen regularly – before the cancer came.

Her mother fussed over her as she sauntered down the stairs. Zoe didn’t have the heart to tell her to back off – appointment days were always the worst as far as stress levels went, so she gave her family some leeway. Her dad had already left for work that morning – having to sit through several meetings that he couldn’t avoid – and her sisters and brothers were in school, a thought that left Zoe with a tinge of regret.

She had missed so many school days since her diagnosis four years ago, that her mom was now schooling her at home with the help of a state virtual academy. She liked the ability to pace herself and do homework in her favorite recliner, but it hurt to see her friends and siblings enjoying a community of peers she might never be a part of again. Her new set of peers consisted of the patients she met through various hospital-organized cancer events.

Zoe was silent on the car ride, pensive thoughts keeping her from being her usual chatty self. She could tell her mother was worried, but couldn’t bring herself to actually say anything – test days always brought on an apprehensive mood and for the most part her family left her alone until it was over.

The waiting room at the children’s hospital was warm and reassuring, perfect for the children and their frightened families. Unlike some waiting rooms, the patients and families interacted with one another, sharing life stories and successes along with the struggles and losses.

Most of the time, Zoe was able to shake the doldrums while she caught up with the regulars.

Zoe knew several of the kids from the cancer support groups that she and her family attended on a regular basis. Some of them had started treatment around the same time she had and they tried to engage her in conversation with little success. Knowing well the ups and downs of each day, they didn’t push her.

Glancing around the room, Zoe noticed another quiet kid in the opposite corner. From the looks of his parents, they were first time visitors to the cancer center. She had never seen them in the waiting room before. Her heart instantly went out to them and with a whispered word of explanation to her mother, she headed over to introduce herself.

“Hi. I am Zoe. What’s your name?” She asked quietly, addressing the boy who looked to be around her own age. His head was still covered in a mass of curly red locks and she absently wondered if his mother had to fight to tame the unruly mop.

For a moment, the boy just stared at her as his parents smiled timidly in her direction. The fear in his gray-green eyes was stark, instantly arousing a tender, mothering instinct in Zoe. She wanted to hug him, but knew that it might scare him away before she had a chance to even know his name.

At a less-than-subtle nudge from his mother, he finally broke down and spoke.

“It’s Parker,” He mumbled, flushing as red as his hair. He shuffled uncomfortably as she continued her scrutiny with an easy smile.

“It’s nice to meet you Parker. I have bone cancer; how about you?” The bluntness seemed to throw him again and Zoe flinched, thinking that she had pushed too far. He recovered again, more quickly this time although the flush still colored his pale skin.

“I got a tumor in my brain,” The fear was back in full force and Zoe decided to change tactics, focusing on her own story for a little while.

“I actually started out with a tumor too, but it was on my leg and had already spread a little before the doctors found it,” She began, noticing that Parker’s parents seemed to be listening to the conversation as well. The haunted look in their eyes had given way to curiosity at her precocious introduction. “Used to be in volleyball until my left leg started hurting really bad. I kept getting bruises and wouldn’t remember where they came from. I was eight years old. I’m twelve now. How old are you?”

“Thirteen,” He stated shortly before a curious look entered his eyes. “What was your favorite position?”

“Setter mostly, but Coach Hansen liked to rotate us a lot,” She couldn’t resist the urge to boast. “We won every game one season. Did you play a sport?”

“Yeah. Four years; I played softball until…” His voice drifted off and Zoe noticed that his parents cringed as if struck.

“How did you find out?” She asked gently, knowing that this was sometimes the hardest part of first conversations. Reliving the early days of questions, tests, and more questions was a huge hurdle on the road to acceptance. At least that’s what her mom said.

“Got headaches a lot. They got so bad that I started having eye problems. Couldn’t see the ball sometimes and it smacked me right on the head. Dad says I dropped like a sack of potatoes right there on the field,” Zoe could hear the humiliation in Parker’s voice. “Woke up in a hospital bed and nurses whispering about how bad it looked.”

During the telling, Zoe had moved to sit next to the distraught boy and she cautiously placed a comforting hand on his own doubled up fists. He had been squeezing the life out of a corner of his tee shirt and instantly stilled when he felt her soft touch. He flushed again, but didn’t move away.

“Gonna get surgery?” She asked quietly. “My best friend Allie had a brain tumor and she just got out of surgery a few weeks ago. She’s not here today or I would introduce you both.”

“The doctors said they have to do more tests to see if it’s oper…able,” He struggled with the word that could change his life. “That’s why we are here today.”

“I needed surgery after my first round of chemo. Some of the tumor was still there, but the doctors removed it and they didn’t even have to take off my leg,” She grinned widely at the dumbfounded expressions on the family’s faces.

It didn’t take much to shock the newbies. The trick was in giving them just the right amount of shock treatment – mainly humor – without completely destroying their sensitive emotions. Going too far before they had gotten used to everything could send them into a panic.

There wasn’t time to gauge the extent of their reactions as Zoe’s name was called from the front of the room just then. She hoped she hadn’t pushed them too far.

“I gotta go now, but I’ll probably see you around. If Allie is here next time, I can introduce you. She loves talking about her surgery,” Still in a semi-state of shock, the new family could only nod as she bounced away. Her previous troubled mood had lifted with the reminder that some kids had it worse than she did.

Fire Safety and the Dangers of Late Warnings…

So we just listened to two hours worth of fire safety training in the hopes of getting a $50.00 gas card. No products were sold, but after the information and education we got Jake and I were practically begging the man to come back and sell us better, safer equipment.

Fire is never something to mess with. It’s beautiful and absolutely devastating in its untamed fury. As a nature element, created by God, it gives light and warmth when stewarded well. However, it can easily turn into a raging inferno of death and destruction.

Did you know that $1 Billion a year goes to pay for rehabilitation after injuries sustained during and after a fire. Smoke inhalation, burns, suffocation; these are just the beginnings of the long term suffering fire survivors have to endure. A fire starts every 12 seconds somewhere in the US. Hundreds and thousands of lives are lost to the flames every year.

Have you ever heard an overflow of information that sends you just to the edge of panic and you know that if you think too long and hard about it, you will lose your mind with worry and fear?

This is where trust in the Lord comes in; there are hundreds and thousands of ways a human being could lose their life or suffer excruciating pain and injury. Thinking about that concept, I can see why fear is such a motivational factor in the Devil’s ploy to keep us separated from the God of Salvation.

The Lord is my light and my salvation;

Whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the defense of my life;

Whom shall I dread?

~ Psalm 27:1

This is not to say we should not be watchful and do everything in our power to prevent the fire from consuming us. No matter what, we must be alert to the things in our lives that can be the cause of careless accidents; or in stronger terms, we must guard against those things that can spark sin in our lives. Those ‘lint traps’ and ‘faulty wirings’ can sway us straight into the fire and before we know it, we have been permanently damaged or even killed by the consequences of not keeping our lives clean and protected.

One method does not work on every type of fire either. It is best done in steps and on guard for the different ways it can creep up on us. We can get a really good watchdog that will faithfully sit by the front door and scare off all unwanted intruders; however, if the dumb dog doesn’t also guard the other entrances to the home we are going to find that intruder sneaking in the back door instead.

Life is completely unpredictable and filled with dangers. We can either panic and hide ourselves away completely, or we can stand watch over what God has given us to steward and trust that the Lord is and always will be ultimately in control of the whole picture.

And I got all this from a fire safety demonstration…

This Good Day

This Good Day

Sunshine and the crisp, welcoming scents of fall in the cold air…I really cannot say I have a more favorite time of year than right now.

I am making another pot of chili (hoping my family does not get tired of my favorite autumn dish anytime soon) and listening to the sounds of worship as my daughter breathes quietly in her crib for her afternoon nap. Honestly, it doesn’t take much to knock her out – she could probably sleep through the Apocalypse if we let her… 🙂

Living in a one room apartment has given me interesting perspective on how many people around the world live. I really cannot say that I have handled it all that well. The cramped space gives me a feeling of claustrophobia – and I am not claustrophobic at all. I can barely fit in the tiny shower, let alone getting Bump in there as well…

But even with the shorter tempers (mostly on my part) and fear of tight spaces that I have suddenly developed, I am coming to appreciate how truly blessed I am to even have a roof over my head right now. It was seriously a providential find at the last minute and it gave us a chance to stay together while Jake adjusted to his new job and we wait to close on our very own house.

We are so close to that goal as well by the way. I am praying for this weekend – it would be great to be in our new home on Bella’s birthday. I am so excited to be a homeowner even though that concept was so foreign to me just about two months ago. Jake and I already have huge dreams about what we are going to do to make it ours – to make it welcoming to others and to use it to bless everyone who enters it’s front door. (and garage door and back door etc…)

Have you ever had just an irrational surge of emotion that is directed completely at a situation or circumstance, and you know that if you speak it out loud you are going to lose every semblance of calm you have managed to hold together? That and probably destroy the first person who asks you ‘what’s wrong?’

That happened to me the other night and while I could lay blame on a host of things and probably be justified (humanly of course, because pregnancy hormones really do do a number on you) I realized that I was trying to handle my life on my own. Hence the rather obvious panic attack…I was just so thankful that God got a hold of my first before I lashed out at Jake or Bella. Sometimes staying silent hurts others, but it would have hurt a whole lot more if I had exploded. And thank God it did not last that long…

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

~ Psalm 46:10

Honor and Submission

Like most independent human beings, I really hate that word – Submission, I mean.

What man or woman really wants to be under the thumb of another as the word connotes in this day and age. To be constantly at someone else’s beck and call and to have to surrender our own wants and desires in place of another’s.

Submission sucks. So does meekness and humility…all words used in relation to one another.

I have been married for four years and I still balk at submitting meekly to my husband. Especially when I am absolutely sure he is in the wrong. And before anyone asks, yes this musing is taking place after a massive argument that I am stubbornly refusing to deal with right now. Even knowing that the man who never says he is sorry (or when he does it has to do with something completely out of his control) actually apologized to me first.

Has anyone ever felt that wicked desire to make someone suffer just a little while longer for some wrong they have committed against you? Yeah, that’s me right now. I just want to twist the knife in a little further before I remove it completely.

The truly agonizing thing about this whole situation is that we were both right in our own way, but we both went about it in the absolutely wrong way. Bitterness is a hard pill to swallow and it’s even worse in its liquid form. I bitterly regret how I handled the situation, while at the same time feeling that my argument had merit. Not in the “it’s my right to feel this” way but in truly being hurt by the selfishness and imperfections of the man I married.

Unfortunately, the opposite holds true in that I actually did hurt him – in roughly the same way – and while his handling of it was bitter and childish, he was making an honest observation about my character flaws.

It’s too bad our own logs got in the way…

What must it be like for the perfect, unconditional God to be in relationship with such imperfect, sinful people? I have a hard enough time maintaining a relationship with someone just as imperfect as I am.

Furthermore, why on earth or in heaven would such a perfect, unconditional God actually shed His blood for us when I have a hard enough time making coffee in the morning for my imperfect, sinful husband? Or ironing his pants for that matter…

Alright, it’s laughable to compare apples and oranges especially regarding an earthly and a heavenly husband. They cannot compare no matter how much I try. And believe me, I do try. Often.

Hence the expectations for his behavior and character that reach to the heavens while he stumbles around on earth, trying to defy gravity for me.

Maybe the question I should be asking is this: Why on earth would an imperfect, sinful man want to do anything to please an equally imperfect, sinful woman? Shouldn’t I be ecstatic that he even wants anything to do with me at all and does the best he can with the broken wings he is wearing?

I am still royally ticked off and I want so much to wallow in my own anger toward him.

You know how they say that if you don’t take care of a situation before you part, you may bitterly regret the last words that were said? Like, he might get into an accident and I will never have the chance to offer and receive forgiveness or I may not be able to ever tell him ‘I love you’ again.

Suffice it to say, I really ignored that concept for the last few days…

I don’t want to submit to him, darn it. I don’t want to honor and love him regardless of his imperfections and the insensitivity that led to this whole desperate situation. I don’t want to imitate Christ and be the better person in the situation. I don’t want to forgive him. I want to be as imperfect – or more imperfect if I am being honest with myself – as he is so that I can feel justified in despising him.

It’s so true that love is not a feeling, because right now, warm fuzzies and sweet nothings are the furthest from my mind…I was even wishing for another bed last night, angry enough to not even want his touch.

But I can’t continue acting like I am the good one (self-righteous in human terms)  in this relationship…because you see, it’s a three-way relationship and two of us are most definitely not good.

I’ll give you one guess as to which one of the three actually is…

Oh God, I really hate it when you show up in my ramblings and force me to see all my own ugliness. Soul surgery is absolute agony especially during times like this when I am resisting the blade.

Fall Days and Sunshine

My daughter is picking up words left and right and her imitation of EVERYTHING we do definitely gives me pause before I act or speak. She is a sponge, soaking up life experiences with abandon and curiosity.

I adore her for everything that she is and cannot believe that anyone could love her more. And yet, during my human moments – when the “old man” takes over for a time – I wish that I could love her better than I do.

At five months along in my second pregnancy, I am reevaluating everything we are doing to parent our firstborn. I know that being a very human parent, I cannot hope to completely avoid ruining my children in some way, shape, or form. What I can hope and pray to do – with God on my side and working through me – is minimize the damage that my own human nature can do, so she sees Christ more than me.

Baby Luke (or Bump as we affectionately call our second child) has been kicking up a storm, but every time I try to feel him move the little stinker ends up stopping. I am trying to figure out if it is because my touch is so soothing to him or if he just wants to play hide and seek…like I don’t know he’s there. (silly rabbit)

We are settling for the first time since we got married and boy does it feel good. It is ironic that just before Jake’s back injury and my pregnancy, I had been saying that our traveling days were pretty indefinite. We had already planned to travel until God told us to stay. It is amazing what He does to work out the change in our lives while giving us peace and contentment. It helps to be open and flexible, which had never been a strong point of mine until we started traveling. He does work in mysterious ways.

Despite the trials and struggles we have been through in the last few months, life has been good and God has been so much more than we could ask or expect! I am filled with the joy of the Lord…