Thoughts on Nature

Orange Lion King Sunset Caution Everglades Sign Bird Diving Orange Lion King Sunset over water Orange Sunset Road Glades on 1 Side Bird Flying over Everglades  Sunset with Palm Boys on a JeepOrange and Blue Sunset

I am a sucker for nature; pretty much any kind.  Being emerged in the beauty of the outdoors brings me peace and tranquility like nothing else.  As I sit there soaking it all in, I lose track of time and all worries of this world.  Nature is one of the places that I easily connect with God.  I see him everywhere; His majesty and wonder surrounds me. Florida sunsets are simply the best! What a great way to end an awesome weekend.

Advertisements

6 Months

mom smelling roses

6 months. It has been 6 months since our lives were turned upside down and inside out. It has been 6 months since I received the worst and most shocking call of my life and witnessed a moment in time that I hope no one will ever have to experience.

Today marks the 6 month point since my moms tragic car accident. It was a moment in our lives that we will never forget. As I look back on that time, especially the first two weeks, I remember mourning my mother’s death at least 15 times. Yes, I actually mourned her death, not just once but 15 times. Can you imagine? It was a yo-yo experience where we toggled between hope and hopelessness; between thinking she may make it and thinking we would lose her forever. I can’t describe in words what this emotional state truly felt like. It was the worst feeling that I had ever experienced in my entire life.  No one has a picture of what mom looked like when Earl, dad and I walked into that hospital room for the first time on Friday, December 19, 2014. No one but the three of us saw her early on. I’ll be perfectly honest.  It was simply too difficult to see. I will say this though. There are actually three pictures of what those early days looked like; not physical pictures but one picture etched into each of our brains (Earl, dad and me). It is a picture that is as real as any picture you can hold in your hand. I can tell you that this picture is with me all the time no matter where I go. I close my eyes and there it is. But the amazing miracle is that now I can open my eyes and see my sweet and beautiful mama standing right in front of me.

As I sit on this side of that 6 month point, I am in awe, completely wowed and forever grateful. This has been the hardest 6 months of our lives especially dad’s, but by God’s grace, His miraculous works and one answered prayer after another, we are on the road to recovery. Mom has gone through nearly 10 surgeries, 3 months of hospitalization, 6 rooms changes, 1 TB scare, 1 move home, 50 days of rehab (and counting), at least 30 doctor visits, lots of family and friend visits, many miracles and lots of love. As incredibly difficult as this has been, we have seen many blessings. Our family is closer than ever before and we’ve seen God work like never before. For the first time, we have a whole new (and correct) perspective on life. I truly believe that God is far from finished with mom (and dad for that matter). Look how far she’s come in 6 months! She truly is a living miracle! I cannot wait to see what the next 6 months will bring. There are big plans in store and feel incredibly blessed to be a small part of this bigger plan and even bigger story.

(This picture (taken earlier this week) depicts perfectly one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned the last 6 months.  Take one day at at time. Live in the moment. Enjoy the moment. It’s all we are guaranteed. As mom shows it best, take time to stop and smell the roses.) Also, I have learned that my dad is a superhero! I don’t know where we would be without this amazing man.

P.S. A special thank you to those of you who have stuck by us through this journey in love, support and prayer.  We wouldn’t be where we are today without you.  We love each of you!

Lately

I have to apologize upfront for the lengthy post. If you’re bored, read on. (pictures below)

I know I have been MIA from the blog for a while now. Life has been quite crazy lately. To be perfectly honest, 2015 has been a “B”. Life is hard. Life is difficult. And sometimes life just plain sucks but on the flip side there are always bright spots and things to be grateful for.

You always hear that when you are pushed out of your comfort zone and endure many trials, this is when God can do the most work. All I can say is that God must be doing something big. I have no idea what, but something big. Life is hard. Life is tough.   It just is. If we allow ourselves to be swayed by our circumstances, we will most certainly exist on a roller coaster of emotions. I try to reside above my circumstances and see my life from God’s point of view, but I fail miserably all the time. I’m learning and trying to allow God to mold and shape me along this journey; to become the person that He wants me to be. It’s only April but I’ve learned many life lessons this year, and particularly two lessons stand out to me at this moment and time. First, you have to look at your blessings. If you’re busy being thankful for what you have, you have no time for complaints (I fail at this often – just ask my husband). Second, is to rise above your circumstances and view your life from God’s point of view. It’s difficult but when you do this, that issue that seemed like the biggest thing in the world, becomes only a small blip on your map of life.

Life has been crazy; some things good, some things bad, some things horrible and probably everything in between. Here are a few; my mom’s tragic car accident with a roller coaster of life and death moments, the long continual journey to her recovery, my Granny becoming sick twice, my Granny finally passing away, celebrating my daughter turning 18, celebrating my mom’s 59th birthday (which we weren’t sure we’d get to do), planning my daughter’s senior prom, planning for her high school graduation, planning a graduation trip and trying to land a huge 3 year long technology project at work (in which I am leading).

The topic of my mom; where do I even start? It is been miraculous, yet devastating. I have in some ways become a back up caregiver, supporter and mother to her this year and will continue to do so for as long as it takes (probably years). This area can and does easily become a big roller coaster of emotions but I am forever grateful to God for saving her life and slowly brining her back to us. I will say that celebrating her 59th birthday was the most special birthday celebration of all because, honestly, three or four months ago I wouldn’t have thought it would be possible. Then there’s my dad; my poor sweet dad. His life has flipped upside down and inside out. He had to leave his job, sell several properties, fight with insurance (daily), move across the country, take over the rental business, start paying all the bills and biggest of all has had to become the caregiver for my mom. The crazy thing is that he does all of these things simultaneously. He has always been the rock of our family and he still is but my brother and I have been there to help hold him up when he just can’t go anymore. He’s giving it all he has in an extremely difficult situation. As I tell him weekly, “I’m not concerned about mom. She’s coming back. I’m concerned about you.” (posting daily on her CaringBridge site)

My Granny. Oh, my sweet Granny. I’m not ready to talk fully about this yet but when I am, you’ll most likely see a blog post about it. I will state it simply like this. She was more than a granny. I was a daughter to her and she was a mother to me. I meant the world to her. We had a one of a kind special relationship. I have her wedding ring on my finger as I type this post and every time I look at it I cry. There hasn’t been a day that has gone by since Easter that I haven’t cried over losing her. She is by far the closest person to me that I’ve ever lost.

In all of this darkness, there’s the bright spots in my life. I get to watch my little girl turn into an adult, plan prom, pick out a dress, witness all those last moments of her high school career, plan for her upcoming graduation, plan an exciting graduation trip to celebrate, pick a college, pick a major, and plan her future. How exciting this has been. The excitement and joy on her face makes everything better. Yes, there are many difficult things happening this year, but on the flip side of that, there are all these exciting moments that I am so blessed to get to be a part of. This is the biggest, most monumental year Danica has ever had. I am loving every minute of it. These are all lasts to experience and I plan on being there for every one of them. For me personally, it is emotional for yet very exciting at the same time. I can’t think about all if it too hard because I will cry. I can’t believe we have reached this moment in her life. I feel like she should still be that sweet little sassy southern girl with a twang in her voice. I cannot wait to see what her future holds. There is no doubt in my mind that she will do amazing things.

Then there’s work. I never really talk about work on the blog but this year is a big year. My manta last year was that 2015 would be a big year for me (without my mom’s accident happening) due to the launch of this project, Danica graduating high school and going off to college. I work in technology for a local non-profit. This project is three years in the making and it is huge. We are literally replacing the entire technological infrastructure of the organization. God is in this and I am certainly trusting in Him.

When I reflect on everything that my life holds at this moment in time, I can easily get overwhelmed. What I have to remember is that God has a plan. Only He knows the big picture. I’m learning to take each day, one day at a time, which has been a monumental lesson for me as I am a dreamer and a planner. Honestly, for my own sanity, I have no choice but to operate this way and it works. Life is short and fragile. In a moment it can be flipped upside down. The people you love the most won’t be there forever. Your children will grow up fast and move on with their lives. Soak up every moment of this day. Let the ones you love know how much you love them. This may be the only opportunity you have to do so. Enjoy each and every moment with your children because before you know it, they will no longer be living under your roof.

All I can say is this.  Live for today. Life is short.

Here are a few pictures of life lately.

Mom and Dad at LaunchDee FAU ShirtMom and Nell at LaunchNell & GrannyMom & Dad on Moms BirthdayGranny RingNell & Dee at the Beach 18 BirthdayCR Beach

Quote of the Day

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

This verse is amazing, comforting and encouraging, but definitely not easy to adhere to especially in those dark and unknown times.  But, God knows best.  He always knows best and His plan is far better and immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine.  So, here we are.  We wait and pray.  And while we wait and pray we put all our eggs in His basket.  He will certainly deliver something perfect and glorious and far better than anything our small meager minds are currently imagining.

Soaring Bird

Impact

“Often people who are not in the limelight in the church feel they are not as important as those up front.  Some even feel they are second class.  The truth is we are all number one, because God has no favorites.  The Bible tells us that God is impartial.  There are no little people, because we are all special to Him.  We all have a congregation and a sermon to live.  The Bible says, ‘Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16).  In our pulpit, the work place, God has people who will never attend a church and He is depending on us to be a living sermon to them” -Power of the Pew Warmer by Charles Pearce

Unfortunately, many times we don’t really see someone’s true value or their true impact on others until they are not around.  This is the point in which you really feel and see their void.  At least, this is what I had always heard, but never really experienced.

My mom has been in ICU for 26 days and I can honestly say that I truly understand this now.  My mom’s reach and impact on others has been deeper and wider than I had ever realized.  She truly lived out the caption above to the fullest degree.  She was out there being a doer of the Word each and everyday.  Being a light to her family, friends and everyone around her.  She was bringing the love of Christ to others.  Quilting for the homeless, crafting for the needy, volunteering for the animals, donating time, donating money, supporting and caring for her children and grandchildren; and this was all above and beyond her regular duties of managing a rental business, caring for her home, renovating a retirement home and caring for her husband.

How often do we get so wrapped up in our busy day-to-day lives and miss out on all the important things?  I know that I do.  I fall into this trap over and over again.  I’m too tired, I’ve had a long day, I don’t feel like stopping, I don’t want to take time to talk to that person; wah, wah, wah….me, me, me.  Not my mom.  She always found the time to do all the important things. To do those things that really matter; the things that have big impacts on individual lives.  The things that change lives.  She invested of herself.  This has been abundantly evident by the outpouring of love, support and prayers that we have received.

A tragic event such as this will put life into perspective.  You realize very quickly the things that matter most; people.  My mom is an inspiration.  She is my inspiration.

Three Generations American Heart Association Walk dogs Hair Donation Christmas Wreath Christmas Angel

Retrospect

There is something about a tragic life event that will make you look in retrospect.  In doing so, I went back to a photo album that my mom had made for me years back that included nothing but old photos from when I was a little girl.  I picked out some of my favorites to share with you.  There were a few things that came to mind when looking at these photos.

  1. My mom is a breathtakingly beautiful woman.
  2. She is incredibly stylish.  I would love to have those clothes today.
  3. My dad looked even more Spanish in his younger years.  (He’s not Spanish at all)
  4. My parents knew how to vacation well.
  5. The 70’s was an awesome era.

* My mom is slowly progressing and healing from her terrible accident.  We had the first glimpse of hope yesterday; she responded to us by shaking her head “yes”.  She continues to be a miracle from God everyday and for that we are incredibly thankful.  Please keep the prayers coming. This will be a very long journey. (Daily updates found HERE)

Mom and Me Tree 800 Mom dad and me cypress gardens 800 Mom and me in chairs 800 Davis and Ehrets 800 Dad and me 800

In an instant…

everything can change.  In an instant your entire world can be turned upside down.  This happened to me and my family 18 days ago (and counting).  I’m not ready to talk about the full story here but the gist of it is that my mom was in a horrible car accident and has been fighting for her life.  The good news is that we see God working miracles everyday.

Let the ones you love know just how deeply you love them.  Don’t delay in getting together with family.  Don’t let your “busy” life get in the way of calling someone you love.  I guarantee you that in the grand scheme of things, that stuff that made you so “busy” won’t matter at all.

I ask you from the bottom of my heart, please pray for my mom, Brenda.  She is still in ICU in critical condition.  Please pray specifically for complete brain healing and function as well as prayer for no infection or illness as she heals.  If you’re interested in keeping up with her story, you can follow it daily on her CaringBridge website HERE. Much love and thanks!

Mom and Nell in front of water
Mom in HImom nad dadmom and nell snorkelingmom and dad luauMom nell earl in cavemom and nell selfie

Purpose Driven Life Book Review

Purpose Drive Life Reivew
I have read through this book three times now, but I seem to get something different from it each time.  I’m guessing that’s because there have been years between each read which means that I am at different places in my life each time I read it. This most recent read-through of the book was a bit different as I read it with my book study group at work and I lead a discussion group based on it. Most of the time when I read through these type of books I have so many highlights, underlines and notes that it looks like a school workbook.  This time was no different.  The one different thing about this book study is that there was one summary statement that stood out and almost seemed to jump off the page.  I love when this happens.  It doesn’t happen often, but there it was.  The statement that almost seemed to be illuminated on the page.  The statement that summed up exactly what hinders me (us) from living the life that God designed me (us) to live.

“Wanting to be like others (envy), and wanting to be liked by others (people-pleasing).  These traps are subtle, but they distract and detour millions of people from the purposes they were created to fulfill.”

While I believe that I do not have an issue with the people-pleasing part necessarily, I most definitely and absolutely have an issue with the envy part.  True envy comes when you compare yourself to someone else and believe that you need their life to be happy. I think this is an area that many females struggle with, young and old alike. When I was a teenager, before the internet and social media, we only had a few neighbors down the street or a few kids at school to compare ourselves to.  For any given female this could mean that you’d have anywhere from 5 – 25 other females to compare yourself to or become envious of.  Today, with the internet and specifically with social media, that pool of females moves from 25 to potentially thousands. This can quickly become self demoralizing and what I’m learning can be a total barrier between me and God.

The big thing we need to do is to stop comparing ourselves to others.  Comparing is the root of all envy.  What matters most is that we are doing what God created each of us to do and that we are making the most of what we have been given in this moment in time.  God made each of us unique and for a very specific purpose.  A purpose that one we can fill.  Envy will lead you to believe that having more or having a different life will make you more happy.  The truth is that happiness is a choice, which means that we are only as happy as we choose to be.

What does this mean for you?  What does this mean for me?  What is the culprit of your comparison; of your envy?  For me I believe that it is social media and the internet.  I am still navigating through this and trying to figure out how to tackle this issue.  My concern is for myself but also for so many other girls and women that face this issue.  I don’t have all the answers but to take it a step further, I highly recommend reading the book, Restless by Jennie Allen. I am almost through this book and it is profoundly amazing!  I will do a review on this sometime in the near future.

What I do know is that we must keep our focus on Him at all times and continue to refocus daily, hourly, or however often it takes.  Take the time to figure out what you’re good at, what your gifts are, what motivate and drives you and ultimately what your purpose is here on this earth.   (The Restless book will walk you through this process – AWESOME!)

July

A photo of my children every month :: July

D and Jake Trey July After Baptism

Dee {17 years and 4 months}:
After having a long distance relationship between Belgium and the U.S. for a full year, Dee’s boyfriend came for a visit.  It was a joy getting to know him.  They spent the two weeks going on dates, hanging out watching tv and going to church camp.

Trey {14 years and 2 months}:
I am so proud of this kid! He went to church camp and recommitted his life to Christ.

Glorious

Baptism Victory Dunked Post Baptism Wave Post Baptism with Mom and Dad
I am one proud mama today.  My son recommitted his life to Christ this week at church camp and got baptized.  My biggest prayer for my children is that they draw close to God and walk with him all their lives.  I am so incredibly thankful for this day, for my son, for the leaders that have poured into him and for this glorious decision. This kid is awesome!  Praise God!

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6