Tuesday, November 21, 2006
In no particular order after the first one,
1. I am thankful and grateful to God for giving me the hope of eternal life. Without His hope, nothing else would be as sweet.
2. I am thankful for my family. I realize more and more as I grow older and hopefully wiser, that I have been blessed with a wonderful family. I not only love and respect my own family, but I love and actually enjoy my in-laws as well, and I know that they love me as their own. It may seem trite, but in today's society where the dysfunctional family is glorified and rampant, I know what a gift my family is.
3. I am thankful for a healthy mind and body. I'm thankful that I can do everything a "normal" person can do without thinking...like breathing and seeing and hearing and smelling and speaking. I will never take them for granted.
4. I am thankful for my husband who loves me as I am and sees in me something special and worthy of his love.
5. I'm thankful for my beautiful little girl who is such a blessing and has taught me so much. I know firsthand what a miracle she is.
6. I am thankful for true friends...for friends who know when I need a few hours out over a quiet dinner. I am thankful for those friends who know when to call and chat and when to sit and listen...and when to say, "I don't know how you feel, but I'll pray for you" and they mean it.
7. I'm thankful for my home and the ability to work and provide for ourselves. The job may not be perfect, but we are not out on the streets, we are comfortable and we have what we need and want.
8. I'm thankful for the sun, the seasons, and the beauty of this imperfect world as well as the knowledge that something even more amazing is waiting for me someday.
9. I'm thankful for my freedom and those who fight tirelessly to defend, even when their efforts are not popular. Somehow a simple "thank you" doesn't seem like enough.
10. I'm thankful for the struggles that I face because I know that, in the end, if I allow God to work through them, I will be a better person, and that I am a better person person because of the things I have already experienced. (Of course, this is still a hard one to feel thankful for, but I AM thankful anyway.)
Well, this is only a partial list. There is so much more...far too much to list, but it's a start. Take some time this Thanksgiving to do more than celebrate a holiday...take some time to give thanks.
Friday, November 17, 2006
I always thought I was a fairly nice person, a decent person, a person who cared about others. I still think I was, but now I know I am better, and I have my daughter to thank for it.
When I was trying (and trying and trying) to get pregnant, I began with a rosy outlook and the assumption that I wouldn't have any real problems doing what it seems like everyone else I've ever known could do. I had no reason to believe that getting pregnant would be a problem for me. But it was. I was worried and felt alone because infertility is not something that is widely talked about in public. It wasn't something I just wanted to bring up over dinner with friends...even really good ones. So, out of a need for more information about treatment options and a general sense of alone-ness, I moved out of my comfort zone and joined an internet message board for women who were going through the same thing. Throughout my journey to get pregnant, I was able to share the ups and downs, the heartaches and the joys, the fears and the worries with others. But almost more importantly, I gained a new sense of empathy for those who suffer in silence, waiting and wondering and feeling alone, even though they really aren't. That was the first lesson my daughter taught me, even before she was born.
The second lesson came after she was born. She was absolutely wonderful and healthy, but she was anything but content. She had HORRIBLE colic for a solid 4 months, and quite honestly, she was about 7 months old before I felt like I truly enjoyed more moments with her than not. She was, and still is, extremely strong-willed, making those infant colicky months something I can truthfully say I am thankful are behind us. When most mothers were telling me, "Oh, someday when she's 16, you'll look back at this infant stage and long for these days again..." I was feeling like Emily couldn't grow out of that stage fast enough. Even now, 2 years later, I still feel that way. When she's 16, I'm certain I'll miss some of the baby stages, but not the colicky infant stage.
Needless to say, I once again felt like the odd-ball, the only one who felt the way I did. But once again, I stepped out of my comfort zone and began to be very open and honest with people about what I was going through with Emily. Through that honesty, I was able to make at least one really great friend. She too, had a strong-willed little girl who was just starting with colic about the time that Emily was beginning to grow out of it. As a result of my honesty with this mom and a new sense of empathy for moms whose children were a little "more" of everything, a strong and wonderful friendship began to grow. I was there for her to lean on when colic was at it worst, and she has since been there for me, as we face current challenges. Once again, Emily taught me a valuable lesson in empathy and understanding.
Now, Emily is teaching me yet another lesson. She is teaching me how to empathize with those who struggle to do what others take for granted. As I've mentioned before, Emily is having trouble talking. We've moved from just assuming that she was a late talker, to having her involved in speech therapy to help nudge her in the right direction, to being quite concerned that she may have an actual speech disorder. This is still very hard for me to accept and to wrap my mind around. How can my perfect, beautiful little baby girl, who I know is so smart and funny and wonderful and stubborn and empathetic have a disorder that may prevent her from being perceived as "normal" by the average person? It hasn't yet been too bad, but as she gets older, her lack of speech becomes more and more obvious. I've already had my share of "She's not talking yet and she's 2? My child was talking when he was a year old," or the even more popular, "Well, my uncle's son's friend had a little girl who didn't talk until she was 4 and then she started talking in complete sentences with perfect pronunciation..." or my personal favorite, "Well, just wait until she does start talking...you'll wish you could go back to these days." Somehow, I have my doubts about that. I just want her to be able to say "I love you, mama" or "I want some juice." Heck, I'll even settle for single words.
You see, Emily is over 2, with the receptive language skills of a 2+ year old, yet her expressive language skills are currently those of a 1 year old. In plain English, she thinks at or above her age. She understands most of what we say. She even knows what she wants to or should say, however she can't say it. The things she can actually say are typical of a 1 year old. I've been frustrated by her lack of ability to communicate, but I can't even begin to imagine how frustrated she must be. I often wonder if she hears me asking her the same question 5 times and just thinks to herself, "Why doesn't my mama get that I know what she's asking...I just can't tell her. I'm doing the best that I can." And that literally breaks my heart, because in my impatience, I am guilty of forgetting how hard she's probably trying. And if I'm guilty of this, as her mom who knows everything about her, how much more so is the average person she will meet?
It's really hard for me to think of the road ahead of Emily. She may need speech therapy well into her school years. She may appear to be well behind her peers simply because her brain has trouble sending a message to the muscles in her mouth. She may struggle with making friends, my beautifully enthusiastic, loving, empathetic little girl. She may feel stupid, or be made to feel that way, by those who do not understand. She may struggle with school, something that neither her daddy or mommy will really be able to understand. Yet it will be our job to make sure that she knows that she is perfect in our eyes and in God's eyes. It will be my job to make sure that she feels loved and accepted and has confidence in herself. And it is likely to continue breaking my heart, and my own prejudices and stereotypes and make me more loving and understanding and empathetic in the process.
So far, I think Emily has taught me a lot more than I have taught her.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
1. Cashiers who pick up a ringing telephone and take care of
that caller before attending to a live,
standing-there-in-person, waited-patiently-in- line customer.
2. Cashiers who, after mutely ringing up your purchases, turn the cash register display with your total to you, then as you are paying with a check, mutely hold out their hand for your license. This may seem insignificant, but a friendly, "Hi, how are you today?" and "Your total is..." and "May I please see your license?" is not too much to ask. I think the next time some cashier gives me the silent, impatient treatment when expecting my license, I'm going to say, "Oh, did you need my license? I didn't hear you ask for it."
3. The people who crowd the check-out area at the supermarket who, immediately after you have paid, think that they can stand virtually on top of you, regardless of how many bags you still need to pack in your cart. Space people...Space!
4. Telemarketers. Need I say more? But, especially the ones who are selling something that I would possibly support, just not over the phone. Take for instance, the Christian video company who has called twice now. How they got my number (I'm on the FABULOUS do-not-call list) I'll never know. Now, I'd love to support them someday, just not right now. However, when I've patiently listened to the salespitch and then politely said that I am not interested in paying a one-time price of $39.95, that should be the end of it. But it never, ever, ever ends there. My personal favorite line is the one the goes a little something like this..."I understand, Mrs. H., but let me ask you this...are Christian videos with good family values something you would like to support? Yes? If so, how about a one-time payment of $19.95? Surely good family values are worth $19.95 to you." Well, sir, if you really understood my first answer of "no", then you wouldn't still be trying to sell me this video, now would you? (I finally had to say, "Sir, I'm not trying to be rude, but I already said no to the same question. Goodbye.") AAAGGHHH~!
5. People who walk, slowly with no purpose, down the middle of a parking lot aisle. How do they not realize that there is a line of cars behind them? This just makes me shake my head.
6. People who talk loudly on their cell phones in the middle of a restaurant, theater, mall, etc....I don't want to hear their conversation.
7. The salespeople at those little kiosks in the mall who try to stop you and get you to try their "one-of-a-kind, can't-live-without-it
nail buffing product. Why is it that they can only speak passable English? The one time I got suckered in, the salesman said something like, "You like product? You buy product, yes?" Ummm...No. (By the way, you can get the same nail-buffed effect with a little buffing stone for about $3 at Walmart.)
8. Having to go sit in the bar in order to get a gift certificate to some of my favorite restaurants. I don't want to sit at a smoky bar with a bunch of loud drunks....especially if my 2-year old is with me.
9. Junk mail. Especially credit card offers. However, I just got a shredder and there is something oddly cathartic about grinding up those credit card offers piece by piece....
10. Women who rummage through piles of clothing on store shelves during a sale and leave such a mess behind that it is pointless to even look. Didn't their mothers teach them any manners?
11. People with no manners!
Okay, so this is just a partial list, but I thought I'd get some of that off my chest. I've encountered it all during this week alone, but now I feel better. Feel free to add your own "AAAGGGHHHs" if it will help!
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
I sort of feel like the Pollyanna in me has been kicked around like a football lately. It's hard to feel optimistic when one thing after the other piles up. Honestly, it's not much fun, and it's not a feeling with which I am accustomed.
I've always considered myself a glass-half-full kind of gal. I still am. I know this, but lately I've been feeling like a glass-empty kind of person. Yesterday's election results are not helping. Emily's clingy, nothing-and-no-one-can-make-me-happy kind of day has not helped. The fact that I'm a year older doesn't particularly bother me, but considering that I am in the absolute worst shape of my life, with a new haircut I'm still unsure about, the desperate need to exercise but no energy with which to mount that effort (plus, at this point, it may pose more health risks...okay, I know that's not true, but still...) and everything about me needs a make-over makes me feel a little less than optimistic.
Then again, tomorrow has to be better...right?
But this is not really a poor-pitiful-me post, despite how it sounds. I'm down right now, in a lower place than I prefer. I hope I am steadily climbing my way back up. I'm trying to gain some better perspective. I'm finding that it's tough to see things in the proper perspective when I'm too close, though. Maybe I just have to keep plugging away, enduring life's little down time (and it is truly little) until I can look back, from a good distance and see things in the right perspective. So for the time being, that is my focus. One day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time, and so on. The Pollyanna in me will resurface. I hope it's soon, but for now, she's a little tired.
I suspect however, that this is how God gets my attention. I'm sure He's trying to teach me yet another lesson in love or patience or maybe simply endurance. I don't know what that lesson is yet, but I must be quite the slow learner. This one's taking me quite a while to grasp. I do know that once again, my own troubles have been put into perspective a little bit though. I stumbled across the blogs of some old college friends and acquaintances. It was a small Christian college and several of those people probably wouldn't remember or know me, but I knew them a little. It's been fun to sort of catch myself up on their lives. We're all married, most with kids and jobs and blogs about our kids and spouses and jobs.
I've been struck though, by how many of those acquaintances have endured some pretty tough times. One couple lost their 3-month old in a home accident last year. Their blog has been really, really tough to read as a mom, but also incredibly inspiring. Another couple has lost 3 pregnancies and are still trying. Yet another couple had triplets that were born very prematurely. They lost one just hours after birth and the other two are still in the hospital (seperate ones until today) and have had one ordeal after the other. Again, the faith these families have shown has been inspiring.
These stories have made me realize that my struggles could be much worse, but they've also caused me to consider that Satan works really hard to bring down Christians. He throws his best (or worst) at us and hopes that it will tear us down. God allows it, just as He did with Job. Sometimes, I wonder what God thinks as He looks at me. Is He testing me to see how I will respond? Is He frustrated with me for not having enough faith? Is He working in me to strengthen me? I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does and that is what will guide me through. And that is enough for now. And that is enough to give me hope once again.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
So far today, I have received two phone messages reminding me to vote today, one before I left home and one while I was out voting and grocery shopping. I will be keeping count of how many more I receive. I expect more, if the pattern of calls leading up to the election are any indication. I have also been invited to watch the election results in person with Congressman Chocola (R.-IN.) I won't be there, but it was nice to be invited.
In non-local election news, ACORN (Association of Community Organizations For Reform Now) or as I prefer to think of them, the "Voter Fraud Nuts", are once again in deep doo-doo. In their most recently detected scheme, ACORN is accused of fraudulently registering thousands of voters in Delaware County, PA. But this is nothing new for ACORN. Take a look at their record, according to this report, filed today by Terrence Scanlon of The Examiner:
"Last Thursday a federal grand jury in Kansas City indicted four persons working for the group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, accusing them of submitting more than 15,000 voter registration forms with fictitious names, phony signatures and bogus addresses."
Scanlon continues writing about the many fraudulent activities associated with ACORN:
"For instance, The Wall Street Journal reported that an Ohio ACORN worker was given crack cocaine in exchange for fraudulent voter registration cards. Many of the newly registered voters were deceased, underage or were named Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy or Jive Turkey....
In Minnesota, authorities founds hundreds of voter registration cards in the trunk of a car owned by a former ACORN worker suspected of registering voters twice so he could double his fees...
In Colorado, one woman admitted to a local television station that she was forging names on voter registration cards in order to help her now-convicted boyfriend collect a $50 bounty for newly registered voters. These incidents were widely reported in the 2004 presidential campaign."
Oh, did I mention that ACORN is a liberal group?
So there you have it. It seems to me that if the Democrats truly have such a fantastic lead in all the key races, then there would be no need to commit voter fraud, would there?
Oh and one more gem for the day...After voting Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) told reporters, "I voted for change...just not for me." Yeah, that sounds about right, don't you think? (I might be slightly misquoting there. I read it, then couldn't find it again. Either way, it's close and it says it all.)
Update: I received yet another call urging me to vote around 4:00. The caller mentioned that she had a "record" that indicated that neither Andrew nor I had voted yet. I informed her that we both had, several hours earlier. That seemed to confuse her. I hope that's not a bad sign!
Monday, November 06, 2006
So here's what I think will happen when all the votes are counted. I think the Republicans will maintain the majority, likely by a slim margin, in both houses. There will not be a huge Democrat victory. In fact, I have a feeling the Democrats will find themselves shocked at how few seats they actually win. After all, they've already measured for drapes and selected fabric swatches for "their" rightful offices in the House and Senate. The interior decorator has been hired, the champagne purchased, the cute young interns pre-selected, the shrimp cocktail thawing for tomorrow night's victory celebration...everything is in place except for the actual votes. You know, I bet a few of them are in place already too.
I wonder if all that stuff is refundable?
Yes, I'm aware that I'm predicting something that is not being said much of anywhere else, but I'm still optimistic despite the biased media's all out doom-and-gloom-for-America, thank-goodness-the-Democrats-are- about-to-win-blitz.
I believe that the Republican base will get out and vote (as history has proven time and again), despite all the negative campaigning, despite all the disgust they may feel towards the current crop of congressmen/women, despite wishing they had better options because in the end, Republicans by and large, understand what their party believes, why they believe it and why the party platform is so absolutely important. Not only do the Republicans know what their party stands for, but they themselves know where they stand on the issues and why it is important to stand strong even through the difficult times. We are not the cut and run party. We are not the party of indecision. We are not the party of despair and short-sightedness. We are not the party out of ideas with nothing to offer.
We are the party who stand strong and support our president and military until the job is done and the world is safer. We are the party who work to strengthen the economy to record levels despite the challenges of an inherited recession, the unspeakable terror of 9/11, and the tragedy of Katrina. We are the party who know what we believe, say what we mean the first time and stand by it, even when that opinion is unpopular. We are the party who offers hope and optimism when everyone else cries doom and gloom. We are the party of ideas, of idealism and of long-term plans. We are the backbone of America, we are the people who still believe that America is great, that is should not apologize for being great and that it can be greater still by electing men and women of honor, integrity and intelligence.
That's why I predict what I predict. The media and the pollsters can say what they will, they can ignore the wonderful men and women in the "fly-over" states all they want, but our votes will be cast tomorrow and counted and they will make a difference.
So, instead of feeling down and depressed about what you hear on TV, remember what is at stake, remember who you are and what you believe, and remember that your vote does matter. And then...go vote!