My Aunt, My Angel

auntFamily is a huge part of my life. I love all that it stands for and represents. You know when all else fails, family is going to be there for you, no matter what, or at least I’m fortunate to have a family like this!

When I got married, my aunt and her husband took my wedding pictures. This particular aunt loved pictures and volunteered taking pictures for everything. It was such a kind gift, because it takes the entire day taking pictures at a wedding, but she never once complained about it. She was just a magnificent woman.

Sometimes members of a family can also be misunderstood…and this was my aunt. She was different than her other siblings, but different in a good way. She was wise beyond her years and couldn’t care less what people thought of her, or her beliefs. She was very modern in her thinking and coming from a very religious mother, this was sometimes frowned upon.

When I was a teenager I used to love going for walks with her in the fall and look at the beautiful leaves and smell the crisp autumn air as she would share her world views with me…It was something we always did when she came home for a visit. I cherished these walks, her views were so different than what I was used to hearing. She was very liberal in her thinking. So open-minded. It was as refreshing as the fall air!

After my wedding, was my baby shower. A young couple starting out and having their first child, money was tight, and we were looking forward to the generosity of all our kind family and friends and their gifts of love towards our first born child. This particular aunt gave me the strangest baby shower gift. It was a candle holder. Yep…my forward thinking aunt got me a candle holder for my baby shower gift! Can you believe this? Everyone that knew her agreed that she also probably spent a lot of money on this candle holder…I was in awe wondering why she hadn’t of given me something more useful…something more…babyish…I thought this aunt understood me…knew me.

This candle holder wasn’t just any candle holder, it was a beautiful angel sitting down with its wings in full spread, hugging its knees. The angels head was tilted to the side resting in its folded arms. It was all white adorn with a burgundy and gold ribbon and burgundy artificial flowers and white baby’s breath encircled the actual candle. It was very nice, but what was I going to do with it? It didn’t match any of my Noah’s Arc décor in the nursery…it left me mystified.

Two days before I gave birth to our incredible first born son, we got a phone call late one evening. It was my father’s voice on the other end, and as he said just my name in a very shaky voice, and skipped all normal greetings of a casual phone conversation, I knew something was desperately wrong. When he announced that this amazing aunt was hit by a car while driving on her motorcycle with her husband I couldn’t believe the news! How could this be? Why? NO!

Little did I know, that this angel candle holder was going to represent so much to me, then, and even 13 years later as it still sits on my shelf. I haven’t even as much as burnt the original candle that she set in it. It is probably the most special gift anyone has ever given to me…and I know that she is one of the angels watching over me, my family and probably, definitely my son!

Sometimes we don’t understand why things happen the way they do or their reason…just like this gift. Why was she giving me an angel…my forward thinking, cool aunt. Sometimes we have to wait to see the value in certain things…or their meaning. If we are patient we will see the purpose of a situation. It is difficult some times when pain and grief are involved, but like it is said in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

My aunt’s time in her earthly form was over, two days before my son’s body was brought into this world. My forward thinking aunt gave me the most precious baby shower gift I could have ever asked for. A constant reminder that she was such a huge part of my life, and was going to continue to be with me and my family, maybe not in an earthly form but in a spiritual form. At the time of the gift opening I didn’t realize this, but we aren’t going to understand everything that happens to us. We just have to go to God in prayer and ask for strength to get us through our trials. Everything has a purpose, and once you find out why, you will understand his grander plan.

Two years later, my second child, our beautiful daughter, was born. She was almost two week overdue, but to our pleasure, she was born on my late aunt’s birthday!  March 12th. Not only do I have the ceramic angel candle holder as a reminder of this wonderful woman who has had such an impact in my life, but we also get to celebrate her birthday every year with that of our daughter. She might not be here in body, but I am more than certain, she adorns us every day with her spirit. How lucky am I?

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Treat Friday

treatThe school that I work at has a very nice idea that the Wellness Committee started before I started working there, called “Treat Friday”. Every week different individuals bring in different dips, crackers, breads, baked goods, etc., for everyone on staff. It is a very nice idea for the staff to share with each other their favorite things, and who doesn’t love getting a new recipe or idea? It’s also a nice way to boost moral within the staff.

I started doing Treat Friday at home too. After my determination to become a better wife, I thought, why not collect treats over the week when I am out and about shopping for some of my husband’s favorite treats. Some weeks he will even mention items that we haven’t had for a long time, and I will quickly jot that in the notes of my phone for future reference—my brain isn’t as sharp as it used to be.

I gather up these treats and hide them until I come home for lunch on Friday. Then I pack it all into a gift bag and leave it on our kitchen table for him to find when he comes home for his lunch. I was buying a card at first, but that can get expensive, so now, I make homemade cards out of construction paper. I have always loved reading greeting cards, but find them such a waste of money. Now, I find one that I like and take a mental image of it, and create something like it on paper to accompany the gift bag.  Plus, anything homemade is more endearing than something bought, right?

Honestly, this bag is really just things that I would probably purchase for goodies to have on hand anyway, but it is usually his favorite things. Dry roasted peanuts, pistachios, trail mix, black licorice, Swedish Berries, stuffed olives, flavored coffee, Hickory Sticks, and the list goes on. Plus, I might add in a item I know he needs, like squash balls, or socks. Sometimes I might include a bigger item if I stumble across something that I know he needs. Now that winter is over, I’m watching for new summer shirts for him, and those will probably land in his bag.

It is all things that I would be buying anyway, I just gather the items throughout the week and stuff a gift bag on Friday and leave to surprise him. Who doesn’t love getting a gift right? Who doesn’t enjoy seeing what is on the inside of a present. It is an effortless way to brighten anyone’s day!

My children wonder why they don’t get to benefit from Treat Friday, and I explain that I do many things for them all week long, but Dad sometimes gets lost in the business of my life, and I want him to realize that he means the most to me. Without him, our family isn’t complete, and I want him to recognize just how appreciative I am to have a hardworking, family loving husband like him. They are at the age that they understand these points, but still they would love “Treat Friday”.

Since their communication with me about Treat Friday, some days I will leave my children a little treat, but nothing like the big gift bag that I leave their father. I want them to understand that we should treat the people in our family with love and respect, especially their spouse. I want my kids to realize that your spouse should be our top priority, because without your spouse your entire family circle is broken.  I also want to teach them that we have to work at our marriage and make an effort to show the people that we love how much they mean to us.

Again, I am going to site quotes from my favorite book…the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 12:4 is a great one, and I have been very guilty of chipping away at my husband’s bones, “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” Or, another favorite of mine, that I try to remember is, Proverbs 19:14, “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.” Many times, I’ve not been very prudent. Crazy, yes! Judgmental, absolutely! Bitter—my middle name! Nagging is my profession!  Prudent? I definitely missed the mark on that adjective!

I am a work in progress. It’s been over a year that I ventured on this path of becoming a better wife, but I see the transformation in my home, my children, and of course my husband. How many of us take the people we love the most for granted? How many of us talk to our spouses with contempt and resentment, instead of love and adoration? Are you putting your husband or wife on the back burner while your busy life passes you by? I was, but not anymore! He is my top priority. Try making your husband your number one priority and hopefully you will see the differences I have!

Treat Friday is an easy way of shopping and making your husband feel great, all at the same time! It needs little to no planning, and is very cost efficient. You would be buying the items probably, anyway. It just means gathering items and strategically timing their placement in his life to surprise him, wrapped in a pretty gift bag. I even reuse my gift bag every Friday. Then you can enjoy your Friday evening with your husband and his snacks! Have fun and good luck!

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Ignoring Our Whispers

Did you ever have that feeling like you are invisible? You talk, talk, talk but nobody is listening. Or you try so hard to get through to people and they just don’t learn? I have a classroom with a handful of children like this. Some days I feel like my own children don’t want to listen to me. How many times do you tell your husband a story and he doesn’t listen. I have this one gymnast that I have been working on correcting her sickle feet on beam, and it’s going on 6 years and she still turns her foot in. Is it just me that nobody listens to or does this happen to other people?

I love all of my jobs! There is nothing better than being a mom! I love being a teacher and a gymnastics coach! Even being a wife has its rewards, I am a person who enjoys doting on my husband and children it makes me feel good. Each of these jobs can get very frustrating by times especially when you feel like you are talking to the walls. I know that every one of these people don’t set out in the morning to ignore me. They don’t purposely strive to irritate me, but when you try hard to make a difference, and people don’t seem to listen, it is a frustrating situation.

I’m guilty of being one of these people too. Ask my mom, my coaches and even my husband. I know we all can be guilty of not doing what people ask of us, or what we think others expect us to do. It’s human nature, but out of all the important things that we do, we have to learn to listen to what the Divine is whispering to us.

I know some people don’t think that God is talking to them, but if you listen close enough he talks to everyone of us. Where do you think those thoughts that pop in to your mind come from? Your inner thoughts. Those that you keep thinking over and over again, for no apparent reason. It is our inner souls trying to reach out to us. It’s the Great Divine trying to form our destinies. We can choose to ignore these signals, and thoughts, or we can investigate them and listen to them and see what happens.

We have to be open to these thoughts. Ready to roll with the punches and have trust in what our inner souls are whispering in our thoughts. Sure, we sometimes have those thoughts that aren’t what we should be thinking, things that we know are definitely wrong. We have to ignore those thoughts are listen to the inner self that knows right from wrong.

When our inner soul is trying to connect to us and we are ignoring it, it will even try to come to us in our dreams. You might feel that what has been haunting your thoughts during the day is now haunting your dreams at night. God tries to reach us whatever way he can. As I study Job, I love learning the lessons in this chapter.  Job 33:14-16 tells us, “Although God speaks again and again, no one pays attention to what he says. At night when people are asleep, God speaks in dreams and visions. He makes them listen to what he says and they are frightened at his warnings.”

Has this ever happened to you? That haunting thought that you are being whispered in your mind, then the same thing comes to you in a dream. Listen to it! It is your inner soul trying to reach out to you. Trying to help create your destiny. Trying to form you into the person that you are destine to become. Try listening to it, and see where it takes you. You just might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Nobody likes talking when nobody is listening. God is no different. Don’t make the mistake to ignore what is trying to be taught to you. Take the time to sit alone with your thoughts and see what you hear. It will amaze you just what you are being told to do, and just what you haven’t been listening to for many years!

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Watch Where You’re Running

tagI have been teaching for many years, and I still can say, I LOVE my job! I get to play with other people’s children every day! It’s the best. My favorite part of my job is teaching Kindergarten physical education. These five year olds make my day complete! Their loving spirits lift mine, and they are just precious to the core!

The only lesson that I don’t enjoy is teaching them about personal space, and that they have to watch where they run when playing games in order to prevent banging into one another. They get so involved in their games, and in pursuit of avoiding getting tagged that they have the urge to constantly look behind them to see who is chasing them.

After warm-up, stretch out and teaching a movement pattern, I spend the rest of the time standing repeating into my microphone, “Watch where you are running…OOOOOH! Watch where you are running…REMEMBER! Watch where you are running!” And still, the inevitable collision happens with these adorable little creatures.

As I stand in the gym, watching these cute little munchkins run around, it got me thinking…Adults tend to want to look behind themselves too. Playing the “What-If” game of life. What if I didn’t do this, or what if I had of done that. It’s a game that we all play…admit it! I kind of wish I could stand in people’s minds with my microphone and repeat, “Focus on where you want to go…don’t look at the past!”

Your past is your past! We can’t change it…we can only change our future! We have to realize that guilt is a wasted emotion. Instead of feeling guilty for something that you did, after you apologize to yourself, the other person involved and God, then move forward. Stop looking behind you. Past behavior cannot be rectified by guilt. Let those feelings go, change the way you think and develop new feelings.

Guilt is just one of the negative emotions that come with past mistakes. Self-doubt, panic, contempt, frustrations, disappointment, and the list goes on. Why put yourself through all of this? Focus your energy on the things you can change, that being your thoughts, your choices and your future! You have to look forward and stop thinking about what you did, or what you don’t have.

Once you change your thinking and shift your focus on what you want, or what you already have and be grateful for it, then you are running in the right direction. What you think about expands and if you have all these negative feelings that you are dwelling on…do you really want them to expand? No! Move forward and think positive, thoughts that you want to have. Change yourself and your thinking so that you can have what you want. Learn from the past, but don’t stay there! Keep running forward!

Did you notice that God developed armor only for the front side of the body? He also wants you to move forward, and not look behind…you don’t need to arm yourself for the past, you need to protect yourself for the future. Stop yourself from looking behind you! I repeat! Stop looking behind you!

Arm yourself with God’s armor, as is told to us in Ephesians 6:13-17, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Do you want happiness? Do you want prosperity? Do you want abundance? Well, it isn’t in your past, it is in your future! Use your belt of truth and realize you are the only one in control of your thoughts and feelings! Get rid of your negative feelings. Looking behind you is only going to get you in a collision with yourself! Put on the helmet of salvation, and save yourself from yourself! Run hard, and don’t look back! Watch your life change in ways you never thought it could. And hold on tight to the word of God, he will make you realize what you’ve been missing out on all these years!

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Are You a Whiner or a Winner?

If you’ve been following my blog at all, you know that I enjoy running. Not to set any records, or even personal bests. I’ve reached my “sport” goals in life when I was in high school through gymnastics, and really don’t have the urge to push myself in my 40s to prove that I am still young and fit. No desire what-so-ever actually! I just want to be healthy, happy and stress-free. That is my goal for this 40-something chick!

I do still love lacing up my sneakers and pound the pavement. My teammate from Canada Games was visiting the other day and her doctor told her she shouldn’t run because of the constant pounding and being a gymnast for many years, her body has already experience excessive pounding. He advised her to avoid running to save her joints. She expressed her concern with my running, but I feel wonderful when I run. I experience no pain.

The other day I decided to go out for a run during a Cold Warning. It was issued by the Weather Network that my city was reaching extremely cold temperatures and advised that people didn’t go outside due to the extreme temperature. I only have Tuesday and Thursday evenings off from coaching gymnastics so I have to run when my schedule permits—warnings or no warnings. I chose to ignore another warning and suited up to run in the cold.

From reading these two paragraphs you might think I am a rebel—but it is far from the truth. I’m very reserved actually. I just know what my body can handle and a bit of pounding and a bit of cold is safe for me. The doctor might be right and someday I might suffer from all the running and gymnastics pounding that I’ve put my body through, but I will wait until I have a sign that my body has too much before I stop something that I find so relieving. The same with the cold warning. My opinion is if you dress for the weather, nothing is too cold…my eyelashes freeze from moisture in my hot breath and the condensation settles as ice on my eyelashes, but I survive.

We all ignore warnings and do what we want to do. Very much so with our lives. Maybe we are getting a warning that our finances are out of control, or that a relationship is about to fail. Work is getting to stressful, or your children are hanging out with the wrong crowd. We all see signs, and it is what we choose to do with those signs that make us winners or whiners.

We can whine that our finances are crashing, or we can take charge and do something about it. We can whine that our marriage is on the rocks and our spouse is insensitive to our needs, or we can be winners and do something about it. Work is starting to get to you? Be a winner and step up and do something about it. Stop whining about what is going wrong and start making things happen for yourself.

Studying the book of Numbers 11:1 really struck me. “And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes, and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.” We all experience misfortune, it’s a part of life. You are not alone. It’s what you do with that misfortune that determines your destiny.

You can whine about your situation, or you can start making changes and come out a winner. Like I said, I reached my sport goals in high school and that was a very fulfilling time in my life. I learned how to set a goal and reach it. I learned how to take direction, make changes and correction to make things work for me. I have no desire to continue trying to prove myself in this area, but there are many areas I still have to focus on. There are things that still trouble me, and scare me, make me anxious; my marriage, my finances, my children, my work…my life! I try no to let them take a hold of me, I try to kick the negative out of my mind and focus on the positive. Put my energy and thoughts on what I want to multiply. I try to be thankful for what I have, not what I don’t have.

There is no doubt that life is hard. We have many warnings that we ignore, and things go wrong. We can whine and give up or we can make changes and come out winners. Reaching my goal in gymnastics was easy compared to reaching goals that I set for myself in life. A successful marriage is the hardest job I’ve ever done. Keeping my finances in order is still a work in progress, raising children—WOW! They definitely should come with a warning label! I have to listen to the warnings and make adjustments in my life as a wife and mother as I go.

We are all winners, we just have to stop whining and make the necessary changes to get us to where we want to be! Sometimes you might have listen to the warnings and stop ignoring the signals, not what we feel is best, but what the warnings are showing us.  Do you have a warning that you are ignoring?  Make today the day that you start making the necessary changes to come out the winner that you know you are!

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Angry Little Wormies

When you spend as much time around children as I do, you kind of develop silly little things to help you keep your sanity. I teach all day, and then some nights coach gymnastics for four hours after my workday. I deal with more juvenile behavior in a week than I think most normal people do in a life time. As a coping mechanism, I come up with crazy little ways to try and talk to these children in a way they can relate. My latest crazy antic is the “Angry Little Wormies”.

I’m trying to teach my students, my own children and my gymnasts that we all have things in our lives that make us upset and angry. I explain to them that we all get those Angry Little Wormies that flare up in our stomachs (I have a great action that accompanies the phrase that I do with my fingers for visual entertainment purposes only). It is how we deal with these little critters that make us or break us. We can smother the angry worms by closing our mouths and controlling our angry thoughts, not letting out our anger, or we can let these ugly buggers show through our words. I’m trying to convince these children that the first option is the best path to follow.

Sometimes, however, it comes back to bite me! The other day, after a long day of teaching, I was at the gym and all my gymnasts were not being very productive, which, on a good day frustrates me. I was giving them the option that if they weren’t going to show me more effort than I would give them some conditioning in their area of need to help make them a better gymnast.

My daughter, who struggles with those angry worms on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, piped up and tormented, “Mom, are you getting those Angry Little Wormies?” She had the hands in action mimicking me to a tee. “You know you should smother those before you let them come out.” She is so much like her father. I had to laugh at her using my tone of voice and body language, it was like looking into a mirror. It definitely lightened the mood of my frustration.

We all get those Angry Wormies. Whether it is your spouse frustrating you because they don’t see the mess that they leave laying around, or it could be with your children trying to push your buttons. The workplace is always a place for those worms to rear their nasty heads, because you aren’t getting along with your boss, or your coworkers are annoying you. We can choose to let these nasty creatures out of our mouths or we can try and choose to have happy thoughts and convince ourselves of what really matter in life.

When you look at the big picture, the grand scheme of things in life, doesn’t it really matter if your husband keeps forgetting to put the towel in the hamper, or leaves his clothes on the bedroom floor? No! Is the world going to fall apart because your child isn’t quite turning out the way you envisioned in your dreams for them? No, they have to live out their dreams, and if they have to learn the hard way, let them. Is it that big of a deal if that coworker is gossiping again? No, remove yourself from that situation, sure you might be lonely but it’s better than getting yourself all worked up over their behavior.

Whatever it is that causes the Angry Wormies, change it. Find the good in things. I tell my gymnasts to change their attitudes because Angry Wormies just make life negative and horrible, and nobody profits being in that state of mind. Who wants to live like that? Don’t get me wrong—I get Angry Wormies too, and my daughter will call me out every time, but I appreciate that, because it makes me reevaluate why I am upset. It’s not my gymnasts’ fault that I had a rough day at work, and if they have one unproductive practice once in a while, does that really hurt anything? No!

Proverbs is one of my favorite books of the Bible. There are many great words to live by, but since we are talking about dealing with our anger, take Proverbs 14:29, “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” Or, Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” What about Proverbs 16:32, “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” And Proverbs 19:11, “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” Must I go on? Aren’t these brilliant?

Angry Wormies are in every one of us, we can feed them or starve them. Let them out of us, or smother them. Let them fester inside our heads and ruin our day, or exterminate them and live a worm free life. These nasty worms can rob us of our happiness. We are all in control of our own happiness, and our happiness comes from our thoughts, and we control our thoughts. We can’t control what happens to us, how people treat us, or what we find frustrating, but we can control what we decide to do with these Angry Wormies. Call the exterminator and get rid of yours today!

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Parlez à la Plante

Are you a lover of houseplants? I really love them! They add such a nice touch of color to a home, and make it more attractive and inviting. Don’t you find? My mother-in-law has the most inviting home. She has such a gift for home décor, and plant rearing. She can bring any plant back to life with ease…trust me, she’s saved my own.

Over the years of trying to have plants in my home, I am finally getting the hang of keeping these green little buggers alive, but I’m still struggling with the balance of water, plant food, and TLC. I am aiming to have this art mastered eventually, but I have to admit, I really should do more research…or maybe even talk to them. They say that talking to a plant like they are human promotes their growth…but don’t you find that a bit farfetched? Talking to an object that is growing out of dirt…really?

I definitely have gullible tendencies, but this is one thing I can’t wrap my head around. Having a conversation with a heap of dirt and green leaves isn’t on the top of my list of sanity, neither do I feel that it is worth the bother.

Many non-believers, or non-spiritual people would probably think of praying in this manner. Why would people pray? Why would people meditate? Why would people waste time reading an ancient book where people do crazy things, like being swallowed by a whale for three days and survive? Or a man being able to part a sea so people can cross to the other side…really? The best one I saw lately was on Facebook. A post comparing Noah’s Ark to the RMS Titanic, and demonstrating the difference in the dimensions, the amount on board, amount of food for the year, etc. It floors me to see such dubious people. Don’t they understand what they are messing around with here?

There is scientific evidence that they found Noah’s Ark. It is very fascinating and sure the skeptics can say what they want, but the evidence is chilling! The same dimensions, the same material, the same structural characteristics and even found close to where it was said it landed. I find it marvelous to study, but again, some might frown upon my naïve nature.

Think what you want about my naïve nature, or gullibility, but I have witness the power of prayer. I have witnessed the benefits of meditating daily. I know that my life has changed since I have engulf myself in the word of God. Just like these plants might benefit from the odd conversation with a person. Who knows for sure? All I know is how I benefit from making time every morning, and throughout my day, for our Divine Creator!

It is written in 2 Corinthians 4:4, “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Are you being kept in the dark by the evil god of this world? Are you too grand in your own mind, letting your own EGO control your thoughts that you aren’t seeing the light? Are you afraid you might be the “W” word…WRONG?
It takes many to make this incredible world go around. We have our skeptics with everything. Even within Christianity, there are differences of opinions. I’m not here to frown upon anyone, not even the skeptics that feel that God doesn’t exist. That is their choice. My theory is, what would it hurt to talk to plants? If it helps them grow, feel better, why not? The same goes for believing in God, what does it hurt to believe?
What scares me is the thought of not believing! This is your soul you are playing around with…your eternity you are gambling here. Are you ready to venture that away? This girl will talk to plants, fast, pray, meditate, or do whatever else is asked of me! I know the reward is going to be incredible!

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