Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Christmas Spirit; What do YOU choose?

Christmas has been on my mind a lot recently. Since the end of October the stores have begun to line the shelves with red and green baubles and candies. Pictures of Santa smile down at customers as they wander through the back aisles of Target and Walmart. The Christmas dressed aisles brought a grumble from my sweetheart just before Halloween. He remembers all to vividly the pain and agony of the retail life, stocking shelves months in advance and being forced to listen to the most bouncy, cheerful, commercial Christmas music over and over again eight hours a night, five nights a week. I have a large amount of sympathy for his feelings of the commercial retail holiday spirit. I know there are a lot of others out there who feel the same way about the Holiday season for various reasons. It has become too commercial or too politically correct. Personally I don't share these feelings. I hum along cheerfully with the jingle of bells and the carols about snowmen and reindeer. I grow nostalgic and can't help but smile when I see an evergreen tree shining in the store with lights all twinkling. I have been in choir for many years and always have looked forward to singing Christmas music as early as possible because it brings me such joy.
Now I am certainly not calling those who grumble about the crazy unnecessary madness about the holidays Grinches or scrooges or anything negative. I can appreciate the desire to keep the Christmas season simple and close to Christian and moral values of giving and love. However there is absolutely no way in capitalist america that retailers will ever get their money grubbing claws out of Christmas. Cars will always go on sale. Phone retailers will always try to talk you into buying that "perfect" electronic leash for your loved ones, There will always be songs on the radio and jingles reminding you that you just might want to be the receiver of some spectacular toy. So here is my Christmas loving philosophy; take it or leave it as you will.
 The first question you must ask yourself is What does Christmas mean to you (or whatever you may or may not celebrate at this time of the year)? I am a devout Christian. The birth of Christ, my Lord, my Savior and my Redeemer brings tender and sacred feelings directly to my heart. Sure, I enjoy the Santa stuff, and the gift giving (and receiving), but the true meaning of Christmas, my very personal meaning of Christmas is why I REALLY love this time of the year. To me every smiley Santa Claus popcorn tin and twinkling Christmas tree is a personal reminder of why Christmas makes me happy. In my mind each roll of snowy wrapping paper and candy cane is a reminder of the gift of God's son. Everything I see becomes decorations for a grand celebration of his birth. So here is my challenge for you; the next time you feel overwhelmed by the big bold advertisements for the latest and greatest gadget you must have take a second to ask yourself why am I even celebrating at all?  Make an effort to put out of your mind that each store's merry trimmings are probably just about making money this quarter of the fiscal year and remind yourself of the things that are the most important to you. You'll probably find that they are well worth celebrating (although you will probably thank yourself later for walking AROUND the advertisement to a more frugal choice in holiday spending).  Re-frame this dazzling picture of worldly merriment in your mind and turn it into a dazzling spiritual celebration. Make every strand of tinsel and every bough of holly part of your personal celebration. Allow the spirit of Love or Family or giving or Christ to be the center of everything you see and hear. My sincere hope is that it will bring a smile to your face. You might even find yourself humming along to a silly song about a reindeer with a shiny nose.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


For all you writer's out there

I want to write a story
to change the world I see
but right now all that I can think is
"Boy am I hungry."

I want to write a story
perhaps about birds or trees
but if I don't get socks on now
my feet will likely freeze

I want to write a story
something that will impress
but if I don't get laundry done
I will have to stay undressed

I want to write a story
It will be wonderful and great
but this poem's all I got today
I guess it'll have to wait

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


The streetlights flew by in a blur as the car raced through the night towards the Hospital. We were expecting our very first lovely baby girl. My excitement was quickly turning to fear however because she wasn't supposed to be here until December, it was October. Pains in my abdomen had me curled up in as much of a little ball that my expanding belly and shoulder belt would allow. We entered the hospital through the emergency entrance and were quickly ushered to the maternity ward. The first thing that they did was strap a monitor to me and check to make sure she was okay. I heard the most beautiful sound in the world, the sound of her little heart beating at a rapid but normal pace. I felt tears of gratitude come to my eyes to know that despite my pain she was still with us. It turned out to be kidney stones; a frustrating and agonizing thing to deal with whether or not you are pregnant. I was able to receive the care I needed. We were blessed with a beautiful baby girl just a couple months later. She is growing into a sweet, loving, fantastic girl.

A couple years after the kidney stone incident. We were again rushing a pregnant me to the Hospital in A LOT of pain. This time it was for appendicitis. After it was determined that an appendectomy was the best course of action, they began to inform me of what the next few hours would entail. I honestly don't remember much of that conversation. My mind was hazy from a morphine iv to keep the pain at bay. I do however remember quite clearly the feeling of panic when they told me that at 18 weeks pregnant my sweet baby was not yet viable, meaning that if anything happened to the baby they would not even try to rescue him/her. I loved that baby already. I had just begun to feel her tiny movements and could only vaguely imagine the pain of what it would be like to lose her at that moment. I also remember thinking it was probably a good thing I was drugged at the time because it subdued the vicious mama bear raging on the inside.  The surgery went according to plan and I woke up dazed and confused in a recovery room with strangers. When my foggy mind finally cleared enough to get a rational thought my first thought was for my baby. Once again my little ones heartbeat was checked, heard, and brought me instant relief. Several months later a second daughter was born, as gorgeous as the last. She is now a rambunctious two-year-old who smiles easily and laughs often.

On to baby three. Now I know what you are thinking, "what else could she possibly go through?" This time it was bronchitis. I entered the emergency room without even enough breath to tell them who I was or that I was pregnant. I was frightened not only for my own life, but for the lack of oxygen to my growing baby. I was also scared that they may have to pump me full of drugs that could harm my developing little one. We got through that one too, my baby and me. As they frantically tried to get my oxygen level up and my heart rate down an ultra sound showed us that the baby was doing just fine, with a strong and steady heartbeat. The doctors and nurses did their best to heal me, and I came out on top. However, this story does not have the same happy ending or perhaps I should say beginning yet. We are still happily awaiting number three, who seems healthy despite several of my health issues, and we are crossing our fingers for a healthy little man come next spring.

I am not telling these stories to say "oh poor little me". Yes, it IS crappy to have had to go through these things EVERY SINGLE TIME I have been pregnant, I am hoping there won't be too much more drama for my current pregnancy. I have optimism that future pregnancies won't be so rough (I mean you can only have your appendix removed so many times right?) I tell these stories to express my deep gratitude for my two and a half little ones. It is an amazing miracle to me that they are even here. I am so blessed, and I know it with all my heart. I have loved each and everyone of them the second that I knew they were on their way. It is an amazing, powerful love that I still don't fully understand. It's so big that there aren't words to convey it. I am grateful that God sent me here at this time. A time where I can receive the care I need to be a healthier mama; so I can deliver and enjoy these precious little ones,  and I am so blessed to come to earth in a time when technology gives a fearful mother-to-be a very precious gift, to be comforted by the sight and sound of those tiny unwavering heartbeats.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Gratitude: The Empty Seat

Bus rides are interesting things. They can make, or break, a trip. It had been a fun week touring with the choir in Mexico. It was always good to go home though. On the bus we were enjoying each other's company, playing games and singing songs. A game of "name that tune" started gathering the attention of many on the bus. That was when I saw him.

If I had used one word to describe him it might have been geek. He had black plastic square glasses and unkempt hair. His khaki pants were wrinkled as was his shirt, although the shirt was also too big. He got into the game and I silently hoped he would not see the empty seat next to me. Of course he did. I sighed on the inside a little and told him that I want the aisle seat. So I stood and let him pass. The game died soon after that and the only sounds were of people talking quietly to one another.

"Hi," I said feeling just a little awkward "I'm Rachel"

"Chris." he replied with a smile. I did notice that he smiled very easily.

"So-" I trailed off not really sure what to talk about.

He raised his eyebrows at me "So, um do you like movies."

I relaxed a little. Movies were something I could talk about. I watch way to many movies.

"Yeah what kind do you like?"

"Well mostly science fiction." It was another point in his favor.

So we talked about movies; Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and several others. When that topic ran out we moved on to books and music as well. The conversation was nice and the bus ride went quickly.

We said goodbye as the slowed into the school parking lot. He moved back to where he had originally been sitting to get his stuff, and I didn't really think any more of the conversation with the geek.

As fate would have it we were soon assigned to sit next to each other in choir. It didn't leave a lot of time for talking, but he always gave me this half grin and a French greeting of which I could only make out bonjour to mean hello. I didn't understand the rest of it at the time because at the time I was not a big fan of french. Spanish in my mind was the most romantic language.

Just a few weeks later I found myself on another bus; same choir , same geeky boy. I didn't sit by him right away, but he caught my attention when he asked me to swing dance in the hallway while the jazz band played on stage. I laughed and had a great time. After that I did sit by him. We found more to talk about. We even held hands. By the end of the trip most of my girlfriends were swearing that we were made for each other and that we were destined to get married. I laughed. How could I really be in love with the geeky boy with the wrinkled clothes and the very sweet sideways smile?

We began spending all of our free time together. We went on a few dates. And soon I was asking God "Could I really be in love with this geeky boy with the sweet smile?"
We got engaged, and then six months later we were married. We had known each other for less than a year.

Now I would like to fast forward from that moment to six years later. Six years later I am even more in love with him. Six years later we have two and almost a half children and he is an AMAZING father. He is a loving man; an honorable man. So today, on this first day in November I am grateful beyond words for one empty seat and one geeky incredible boy who filled it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Heart of Stone

Everyone goes through hard times. Everyone says the wrong thing on occasion. I feel like I have been doing that a lot lately. It's funny how when life's little (and BIG) stresses get in the way we lose our cool and slam doors and find ourselves hurting more than before. Sometime I have thought that life would be so much easier to be able to turn those feelings off; to have your emotions be like a radio station  that only plays songs you like. Anyway as I pondered these feelings some words came into my head and I had to grab a computer and jot them down before I forgot them. 

I wish I had a heart of stone
to be stronger and never feel alone
to brave the world without a fear
of falling, nor of shedding tears
I wish I had a heart of stone

but if we get down to brass tacks
does stone feel it when it cracks
does rock that’s shaped by wind and rain
ever find itself whole again?

Perhaps not a heart of stone

Then maybe a heart of steel
to keep me from the pain we feel
to stand up firm and tall and straight
and make me all immune to hate
maybe a heart of steel

but a sword of steel may end up breaking
it all depends upon its making
a careless hand is all it takes
for rust to corrupt and the steel to break

Perhaps not a heart of steel

Than maybe just my heart alone
despite the loneliness I’ve known
despite the worry and the fears
and the many dozens of tears
perhaps my heart alone

For God made my heart and in the end
he also taught me it could mend
no stone in the mountain nor sword of steel
can match my heart, for it can heal

Thursday, October 17, 2013

An Introduction, and a Rant About Politics

    This blog is going to be all about what I am thinking. I guess most blogs are, but I just felt the need for a space to get out some of my thoughts and ideas that clutter up my brain space. I sometimes drive myself crazy thinking about the world and its problems. If no one ever reads these thoughts I guess I won't be too sad, but the thought will be out there. that is much better, I think, than to have it trapped inside my head , clanging to be released.
    Okay so enough for introductions. Today I have some very mixed feelings over what has been happening in our country. I am grateful that Congress finally stopped behaving like children long enough to put an end to the shutdown, however the way that they did it also fills me with dread. Are we going to just go through this again in January? Are they going to put it off again? Is this going to become a quarterly issue? 
I generally say I am a Republican, although the party lines tend to make me feel that I have a toe in each and I am being forced to stretch uncomfortably between them. I don't like the idea of Obamacare, but at the same time I don't believe that forcing a government shutdown is the way to stop it. I blame both sides and the president for the problems we have face in recent weeks.
    One of our biggest issues as a country is that we are SO divided on issues. We get so caught up in getting something out of everything that we have forgotten the basic principle of compromise. You have to give to get. I am not an expert, by any means, on politics, economy, or government, but when I see what is happening in this country it makes me feel a little like I am in a car being driven towards the edge of a cliff. The lines between the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches of our government have seemed blurry lately. Is Obama REALLY supposed to be so involved in creating policy, because I could have sworn that job was supposed to belong to Congress. The purpose for having three distinct branches of government is to keep the balance; to prevent one from becoming more powerful than the others. What I saw over the last couple of weeks was a President who was negotiating legislation with congress. That just doesn't seem completely right to me. 
    The idea of affordable health care is a lovely fantasy. I know there are people who just don't have money for insurance. I have been in that category before. I was forced to rely on state insurance and food stamps. I filled out the paperwork and waited in painfully long lines for short interviews, but my husband and I together also made a plan to get us away from that life. I fear in this country that there are too many who believe that they are entitled to government care. They don't see welfare as a leg up. People have forgotten that there is joy to be found in working, and paying bills on time, and doing your best to be the best person you can be. I know that there are people who have to rely on government programs on a more permanent basis. My heart goes out to those people who wish for physical and financial independence and are unable for whatever reason to attain those goals. I also do not pretend to judge who is actually in that situation and who abuses the system.  Those who abuse the system make it harder for everyone. 
    As far as Obamacare is concerned, this system does nothing to help the precarious financial situation in our country. The start up on something like this is an insane amount of money. Besides the money issues (which I feel they will surely try to solve by taking it from the pockets of American citizens) it has not been thoroughly hammered out and thought through. The Affordable care act seems to me to only be half of a plan. There are a lot of problems that could have been solved if it had just spent more time on a drawing board.  My third issue with Obamacare is that people say "we voted for Obama therefore we voted for Obamacare".  Personally, I didn't vote for Obama, neither did 47% of American voters. That is nearly sixty-one million people who did not vote for Obama, or his health care plan. Now all of these people are being forced to deal with the unwanted ACA and it's problems.
    I hope that not every post on this new blog will be a political statement, but I am passionate in my love of country, and I feel fiercely protective of the values that it was founded on. I am an American. I am proud of it. I know that my power is limited as a stay-at-home mother, but someday I want my children to know that I care for this country and I care for it's well being. Someday I hope that they have that same love, and I hope that the United States will continue to be worthy of that love.