Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Sherri Steenburgen Gone too Soon..

While Christmas always brings both laughter and tears, this year, this season, there are more tears than usual. Our family lost a dear one. My aunt left us to go home to God.. After battling cancer for several years she slipped away on the 23rd (or as  my daughter calls it Christmas Adam). 

Sherri was way to young to leave us and she left behind not just her brother, my dad, she left behind a daughter, a sister in law and several nieces and nephews, cousins and friends.. we are all grieving. 

When I was five and my parents got married, I got awesome grandparents and a spectacular aunt in the bargain. Sherri was barely ten years older than me, a teenager with an exciting life of her own. But she always had time for me. I can remember visiting my grandparents and bringing my barbies along (I needed to do something) and Sherri would come out on the front porch and play with me, for hours if need be. 

Or when she would babysit us, she would play "bartender" closing the pass through window between my parents kitchen and living room.. then we would knock and she would fling it open and snarl "what do you want?" we would order our drinks and Sherri would whip it up with Seven-Up and food coloring.. 

Simple things but the kind of memories I hold dear. 

Sherri also gave me the most amazing gift, over and over again. Whenever I go home (to California) I spend most of my vacation going from family member to family member.. but Sherri, she would always call, check my schedule and then come to see me. You see, I was that important to her. 

And of course she was never too busy for my kids, she taught them the importance of holding up the roof when going under a bridge (a family tradition I hadn't taught them). She went to amusement parks and family gatherings. She was the Steenburgen representative. And she brought her special joy to them. Teaching them another chapter in what family really is. 

We all have a light that shines within us. Some of us are beacons, a call to the lost. Some are candles, a single light in the darkness. Some are like a flash, bright, stunning and blinding, gone in a moment all too soon. But Sherri, she was a firefly. Flickering and dancing into the gloaming, a magical moment, a joy. Gone too soon but leaving behind a happy, innocent memory. And like the firefly, Sherri could never live caged.  To me Sherri will remain forever young, laughter and joy and forever missed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Veterans Day and Thank You

It's Veterans Day here in the States and I like to make sure I thank all of those who have served and fought for my freedom. ALL. OF. THEM!!

But I also like to honor and thank those of my family and friends who have given me my freedom at the risk of their lives...

John Jensen
Bill Steenburgen
Guy Lile
Kingdom LaBau
Harvey Lemming
Louis Branch
Joseph Busch
John Lill
Gerald Costin
Don Evans III
I know there are many more.. This year the names escape me.. But these are some of the nearest and dearest to my heart. Some were heroes, some were working soldiers, some were cooks, some were officers, some were not... some fought in wars, some served in peace time, Some have passed on and some still live but ALL of them gave of their time and lives.. so I thank them! From World War II to current day!! I am blessed!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Two Songs of 9/11

Once again we choose to take the time to remember what happened on this day thirteen years ago.

It was a day of infamy (to borrow an old phrase), a day of awakening. It was a day when we as Americans discovered that the wars of the world were coming to our front door.

It was a day of tragedy that eventually led us to a triumph of American spirit. It was a day where we stood side by side as Americans bound together and stood tall. We did not blink.

It was also a day that led to the creating of two songs that shared with the essence of the American Spirit. Something that needs to be remembered by friend and foe alike.

SONG ONE: Toby Keith's - Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue 

Toby's song declared our wrath, our pain, our angry and our embarrassment. It showed that yes we were down but we weren't out. That we may grumble and complain, that we may bicker and squabble but when push comes to shove we are one people. We stand tall and together. We will not be pushed around. 

Just try it and see what happens.

SONG TWO: Alan Jackson's - Where We're You ( When the World Stopped Turning) 

Alan's song could be considered the weaker of the two,  it isn't. It's a song of remembrance and a shared grief. It's a song that speaks to the heart. But to me, it's a song that reminds us of who we are. Sure we are a loud, loud boisterous, sometimes arrogant people but we are also a country of compassion and yes, love. We take our hurts to the heart but we don't let them break us. Instead we use them to bring us to triumph. In the end not with revenge but with compassion. We open our arms and our hearts to all, even those who have hurt us. This does not show our weakness as others may think. No, it shows our strength.

So why do these two seemingly contradictory songs remain in our hearts and minds? Because they show who we are, both sides of us. And they should remind others that while we want peace. Why we believe that everyone should have a right to exist. We are not weak. We will not be pushed. And if you think you can take us down? Bring it! We will not blink.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

An explanation from the dark

In light of Robin Williams death there has been a lot of people asking what happened? Why did he make that choice? Why didn't he ask for help? How could this happen. 

My answers easily.. it happened because while he asked for help no one listened. When he finally realized that no one was going to help him, he made the only choice he could. I know there was more, I mean I am not part of his family or his intimate circle. But I have lived in that darkness for most of my life.

It's not always a chemical thing, it's an emotional thing. Sure people want to diagnose it and treat it with medication. Of course that is our way. Take a pill, whatever you do, don't take responsibility or reach out and help.. 

It starts early.. A child is born but it's not exactly what you want, it's too sensitive, too emotional, too, brash, too loud, too silly. Too something. Instead of embracing that joy you insist it conforms to your expectations. Lower your voice, don't be so sensitive, stop crying, it's just a movie don't get scared and the list goes on. Their lives are filled with don'ts.. Constructive criticism over and over. 

Eventually they learn, put on a mask and perform. Smile, laugh, be perfect. Don't rebel, don't yell. Take what is tossed at you. Even when they are loved and they know it they still need to conform. In many ways that's worse, if someone who loves you finds fault with you, your very personality. Then it must indeed be you. So the mask gets stronger. Slowly encasing your entire essence. 

Over time you are lost an image in the glass. Not a reflection in the mirror just the image you see out of the side of your eye when passing by a window. Never even close to what is real. But because the mask is so strong no one ever looks beneath it. To see a person who just wants to be loved, to be accepted, to find someone who will fight for them. Someone who wants the real them not the image. 

As it doesn't happen the person becomes a caricature of what they could have been. Always trying to be what they "should" be what they are "supposed" to be. Making a life for everyone else and becoming angry, bitter, lost. Then something will happen and the glass breaks... Now what?

We can't ask for help.. we aren't important enough. No one wants to hear us whine.. so we try to put the pieces back together. But it's hard. We are broken. All we lived for is lost and those who are supposed to love you, the ones you sacrificed all of you for. They are the harshest. They are the angriest. How dare you fall apart? How dare you fail? It upsets them.. Still never looking beneath the mask. 

And your children? They see strength crumble, they see failure, they don't see the person who did everything to make them strong. To believe in themselves, to love themselves. To chase their dreams. Who doesn't judge them even when they make choices that she wishes they wouldn't. They don't see the darkness you live in. Nope they see their strong parent refusing to live. Hiding out in the darkness. 

Resurrecting yourself gets harder and harder. Eventually you have a choice rip off the mask and try.. and try... and try again to find the person beneath the mask or just give up. 

The only guarantee you will have is that you will have to do it yourself. Your friends and family? Most of them will love you from afar (if that) but they can't see what you need. They don't understand how you have been dying inside for years and years. How your very essence has been suffocating.

And one day if you can't rebuild yourself.. you chose to let it all go. There are reasons some insist on nightlights, living in the dark is hard.. now imagine living there all the time.

I've been in the darkness and I will be one of the first to say that suicide is selfish. But sometimes it's because you have spent a lifetime of being selfless and you need to do just one thing for yourself. And if it's permanent, sure your loved ones are suffering but finally you aren't.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Birthday Aunt Margie

Today would have been my Aunt Margie's 104th birthday. She was and probably forever remains the matriarch of our family. An amazing woman who lived a life of grace and joy. 

It's hard for me to really tell Aunt Margie's story because it all came to me filtered through my grandma's eyes. Their story really was one story in so many ways.

Aunt Margie was the oldest of three children born in 1910. Her sister and lifelong best friend was born in 1911 and younger brother (whom I never met) was born in 1912. Having three children so close together wore out my great grandmother and she passed away soon after. Leaving these three to be raised by an absentee father and a series of housekeepers. 

At one point my great grandfather met a woman and fell in love with her, married her and then informed her that he had three children. My great grandma was pretty cool but this
Aunt Margie 1976
isn't her story. 

Grandma and Aunt Margie were products of their time and like most tweets and teenagers wanted to go along with latest fashions. They stopped wearing stockings and started wearing knee socks and were whipped. They cut their hair and were called whores (or visa versa)At the tender age of 14 & 15 they moved out of their parents home and moved into the Y (I think the YWCA because it was for women and it was the 1920's). As always they stood together.

I don't know much about Aunt Margie's first marriage with the exception that it produced
Uncle Johnny on the left, Aunt Margie on the right 1994ish
two remarkable men. In Her early to mid thirties she met my Uncle Johnny who wad ten years her junior. If course I don't know much about their courtship but they married and had sixty years together (and three more children)

Now comes the bias from my side of the family. Aunt Margie was sweet and nurturing. Always there for us but she had Uncle Johnny to lean on. She was able to stay home, had an easier life. Grandma on the other hand was wild and free, went through men, three husband's for five children... and even then took care of herself. She held TWO jobs during the depression. And from her late thirties on, did it all on her own. She was strong, she was tough..Get the implications?

Those implications came crashing down in the late 80's Aunt Margie was hospitalized, it was series and my mom was with my grandma when she git the news. My grandma, my tough, strong, do it on her own grandma, crumbled. Fell apart, lost it. Seems Aunt Margie was her rock. My mom was afraid that if Aunt Margie died so would grandma. She was so worried that she visited Aunt Margie while she was still recovering and told her, she had to get better. More than that, she had to make sure and lived long enough so that grandma would go first. It seems grandma wasn't strong enough to survive her sister. We lost grandma in 1992 but Aunt Margie was with us for another 12 years.

Years where each of my children were blessed to meet her, love her and grieve when she left us.

A truly great work.and who brought joy to every single member of her family and More. All because she remained true to who she was. I admired her so very much and loved her more. 


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Power of a Praying Woman, A Review @StormieOmartian

This book was hard for me to review because I don't usually review non fiction. But when I was browsing through Netgalley title really captured my attention. 

When I saw it I assumed it would share with me how my prayers could be answered but I also assumed it was about praying for others. To my delight it was about how a woman of God needed to remember to pray for herself. To stand firm in her faith and allow God to do the heavy lifting. 


Stormie Omartian’s bestselling The Power of a Praying® series (more than 23 million copies sold) is rereleased with fresh new covers and new material to reach a still-growing market of readers eager to discover the power of prayer for their lives.

It may seem easier to pray for your spouse, your children, your friends, and your extended family, but God wants to hear your requests for your life too. He loves it when you come to Him for the things you need and ask Him to help you become the woman you have always longed to be.

The Power of a Praying® Woman is just for you. You’ll find personal illustrations, carefully selected Scriptures, and heartfelt prayers to help you

trust God with deep longings, not just pressing needs cover every area of life with prayer maintain a right heart before God

Each chapter concludes with a prayer you can follow or use as a model for your own prayers. Women of all ages will find hope and purpose for their lives with The Power of a Praying® Woman.

It shared a premise that we, as women of God, needed to pray for ourselves. We aren't being selfish.. God expects it of us. He wants that relationship with us. It got me thinking about interacting with my friends and family. When do I share with them? When do I ask for help? When do I... yeah all the time. I don't limit my conversations with my family to talking about others. No I discuss my life, my hopes, my fears, my struggles and my joys. Stormie Omartian just helped me remember that God wants that too. 

But it did more than point out the obvious, it offered a guideline. Ms Omartian took individual aspects of a woman's life and helped her direct a prayer for it. Helped her focus and give direction to her prayers. 

This book was way more than a self help book or an instruction manual, it is a tool that can help women of all ages connect with God. To strengthen the bond and help ferment a relationship that we all dream of. 

I was thinking this might be a good book instead I found a wealth of information about my relationship with God. 

This is not a one and done read, it will remain on my bookshelf as a tool and reminder for when I am struggling with prayer. 

Thanks Stormie..


This review is based on the ARC of The Power of a Praying Woman, provided by netgalley