Thursday, December 4, 2014

The big reveal !

After 25 weeks of waiting, I can finally say the wait was worth it! Isn't that how most trials are? So many lessons learned. Some I would rather have not experienced but necessary non the less.  I see now... had I got what I wanted when I wanted, I probably wouldn't have the kitchen that I have today. Christian Roofing and Remodeling did an amazing job! Working with their contractors made this whole transformation a pleasant experience.

I wish I could say the same for our insurance company and mortgage company. On a side note...the mortgage company still hasn't released the remaining funds to our contractor. We finished on November 10, 2014. Many calls and unmet promises. To bad I can't charge them interest for holding onto the money that isn't even theirs.

So what started as a leak at the dishwasher water line,and this very long journey, is now a beautiful space to feed my family. Many weeks of fit pitching fighting with the insurance company. 25 weeks of no mopping...Yuck is right! Jumping through way too many hoops. My sanity tested over and over again.
Now I can finally say......

                              MAMA HAS HER KITCHEN BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The microwave vent hood above...It was a gift! I really wanted one,but spending the extra $ wasn't in our budget. The old vent hood was really needing to be replaced but would have to be reinstalled. A week before the cabinets arrived I received a call from a friend. She wanted to know if I needed a vent hood...a microwave vent hood! She had one that was sitting in her garage and she was needing to move it out. Do I need one?! Yes and Yes!!!! The funny thing is...It was black and the very same name brand as my stove! If you ever doubt that God cares about the little desires of our heart....please stop! He didn't have too but He did. I never really expressed this desire. Just one of those things that I thought would be nice to have. still puts a smile on my face and reminds me how much He loves me! 

We are all enjoying our newly renovated kitchen. Some days I find myself just standing there staring in amazement! Thankful that the renovations were complete just a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. Smiling as I watched our family gather on this day with so much thankfulness for this sweet gift!

Friday, October 31, 2014

What's wrong with me?

I can't help it! My kids do some of the funniest things when they are bored! I have laughed so much at this short video that the laundry has doubled...if you know what I mean girls!? Laughter is good medicine! Please share the laugh with those you love...and even those you don't!

My head is spinning...

These last few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. The months of September and October have been jam - packed with milestones and journey changing events in our family.

In September while juggling wedding planning and kitchen transformation drama, we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. We did sneak away for a couple of days....but not the celebrating we wanted. So we have postponed a much needed anniversary trip until sometime next year.

 After much prayer and fit pitching(I guess this is a southern term for throwing yourself on the floor while kicking and screaming!), On week 23, the gutting of my kitchen began!!!! Our mortgage company took three weeks to process our insurance check before they would release our funds. By the time we had those funds in hand, it was the week before our daughter's wedding. So here we are 23 weeks after the demolition of my kitchen began. The wedding was absolutely beautiful! All of our hard work, in spite of the kitchen drama, turned out better than I had hoped! My sister Kelly and daughter Emily were my saving grace! They did an amazing job with all the details!

We moved from wedding right into kitchen transformation, without taking one breath! Yes...I'm tired!
Yes...I'm beyond done! Yes...God is still good!
Monday morning was met with much fear and trembling excitement! I was never so happy to finally see that work truck in my driveway.
So, once one's kitchen has been gutted...How does one manage to keep her household of 8 fed without the proper tools? Friends...this one was genius! Planned long before our dishwasher decided to start this journey.
You see...My stove was moved to the garage. The only problem is...No stove No cook! I'm smiling at this point...except it is very expensive for a family of 8 to eat out.
When we bought our home 15 years ago, my laundry room was in the basement. My husband having mercy on me, moved it to the space between the kitchen and garage. It is now a laundry/butler's pantry, complete with counter space! As for my needs a special plug. Wouldn't you know there just happens to be this sweet little odd plug that we have never used in our garage. The exact plug needed for our stove.
This my friends is almost like camping! I'm cooking in the garage. I'm washing dishes in the laundry sink. I guess my neighbors (who can see in my garage when they turn into our subdivision) think I have finally gone over the edge. I'm so thankful it has been warm this week.
Along with the stove my garage was filled with old and new cabinets.
The new cabinets are now sitting in my kitchen! I am loving this new look! My favorite is the extra cabinet to the right of my refrigerator. I now have a space that will be a coffee station.
Our walls are prepped and waiting for paint. The counter tops are ready to be installed on Monday. Flooring on Wednesday and then the final touches. Twenty Four weeks of a kitchen journey from Hell. Two weeks of a kitchen transformation with all the inconveniences that try my patience. One big tired family that is ready to have their mom back. One big God who has carried me through with encouragement from family and friends.
When all this is done, I will look back and say....I survived the Kitchen remodel of 2014!
November and December will be the end of this very long year.  A year with much spiritual and personal growth. I have been pushed beyond what I thought I could ever handle. Given an immeasurable amount of endurance. I have seen the hand of God gently hold me and carry me while walking this journey. Providing me with the strength,grace and mercy that I never knew was possible.
 We will end this year with Kelley's 3rd(Hopefully last) ankle surgery. Maybe I need a T shirt that says. " I survived 2014!"


Monday, September 8, 2014

The Plot thickens...time line continued

Part 2 of the time line...

8/25 Emailed contractor to see how the estimate was coming along.

8/25 Received estimate from our contractor

8/25 Submitted Contractor estimate to State Farm

8/25 Called our claim team to make sure they had received our estimate and was told it would be at least 24 hours before they would receive it.

8/26 Emailed Mr. Rust.. State Farm executive... to inform him of our issues with our kitchen claim and to inquire what we could do to expedite this claim.

8/26 Response to email from Mr. Rust requesting more information about the claim.

8/26 Received a call from Jada at State Farm informing us our estimate was approved.

8/26 Emailed our contractor to inform him of State Farms approval of his estimate and that we were ready to get started with the kitchen.

9/2 Received insurance check from State Farm

9/2-9/3 Spoke with Mortgage company about the claim process.

9/4 Spoke with Pearlie Harris from State Farm in response to my email to Mr. Rust

9/4-9/5 Spoke with mortgage company again about the process of our claim...was told they had mailed us a claim package with instructions from the mortgage company.

9/8..As of today's mail...nothing!

September 1st...I was finally celebrating my Insurance check in hand and then....

September 2nd...My Facebook post...

Nothing is ever easy ! Now to jump through hoops for Green Tree Mortgage! Procedures they say...Send endorsed check along with contractors estimate,w9, and State Farms estimate. 7-10 day processing time. Then they send 1 check to us and contractor 50% of the funds. When job is done then they send an inspector (they want to oversee the job) out before the release of the rest of the funds! All this for a 2 day job! Somebody shoot me!

September 4th...My Facebook  post....

Did you know if you have an insurance claim your mortgage company can take and oversee the funding and the job? I have a kitchen claim that I fought for 14 weeks to get settled and now that I finally have the funds from the insurance company and the go ahead, my mortgage company is seizing the funds and overseeing the job once I submit the endorsed by us check and about 5 other documents they will need from the contractor and insurance company. Once they have the paperwork, they will release 50% of the funds and the remaining 50% once their inspector has approved the completed job. What do they think I'm going to do take the money and run? So my name is on the contractors contract and will be responsible for the charges. There is no guarantee I will even get those funds back.
With one month left until our daughters wedding I see no hope in getting our kitchen completed before hand. As of today it remains in the same condition that it was 15 weeks ago. My emails to our insurance commissioner Ralph Hudgens have gone unanswered ( I didn't put this on the time line but emailed him with questions on 8/14), my insurance company that complicated this whole mess has now passed the baton to our Mortgage company. I am the one left standing saying... Wait a minute!...Don't I have a say in this whole mess?  I really hate that my time, energy and what sanity I have left has been consumed with the last 15 weeks. What should be a time of celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary and our daughters wedding has instead been weeks of regulations, hoop jumping and mental exhaustion. 
Really, the truth of the matter is....
When my kitchen is complete and I can once again walk barefoot on my floor, I will look back and say...GOD WAS AND IS GOOD!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Time lines... A whole new perspective on this journey!

Recently I had a conversation with a very special woman. In that conversation, she made a suggestion of placing a time line in my email to the insurance commissioner. Yes, we have gone that far! Not what I had hoped but where we are at.

As I continue to obtain yet another quote, I am finding this is not as easy as I had hoped. On Monday I did have what I pray will be the last contractor come to our home for measurements and photos in preparation for his quote!  Now we are back to the waiting game. One week for the completed quote and one week for SF's yes or no.

As I wrote out the time line...all 6 pages...I saw this whole ordeal in a different light! Wow...I am a patient woman! My children may not agree with that statement. What I did leave out was my emotions during all least I tried to leave them out. The anger, bitterness, moments of feeling  abandoned, the fatigue due to the hours of searching and sitting with the contractors in order to come up with an accurate quote. Maybe the disruption to our family...the very large family! Plans put on hold because I couldn't have extra people in the house due to the condition of our kitchen. There is a little word called "Liability" that keeps swimming in my head. The time I have been stuck as I walked barefoot on our kitchen floor, the one that is now plywood with vinyl debris. Or the counter top that now just balances on two base cabinets and a dishwasher...leaving the side of that  dishwasher and underneath the sink exposed. Maybe how the contents of those cabinets are now living in my dining room in rubber maid containers and floor.

Without further ado....A little long but worth what's at the end!

Kitchen Claim 2014...Week 12 and counting!

We contacted our State Farm agent early March of 2014, concerning water damage from a leak at the dishwasher line. An appointment was made with an claim adjuster

The SF adjuster showed up several hours ahead of scheduled time with no warning.

3/11 received first State Farm Claim estimate

Discovered a huge mistake and called SF adjuster to notify him of the mistake...$ for a new refrigerator. We were advised to destroy the check. A new one would be issued.

3/17 received new corrected State Farm estimate

Minus previous mistake

Dated letter 3/23... Received letter from SF home office needing documented repairs by 7/13/14

Dated letter 6/6... Received letter from SF home office
Cancelling our insurance because repairs were not made by 7/13

Dated letter 7/11...Received letter from SF home office stating to disregard previous letters.

**** All claims packages have stated that the homeowner has up to two years to make repairs.

Repairs to the water line were made before we even called our SF agent.

6/9 - 6/12 Repairs began. Plumbing disconnected, dishwasher disconnected and removed, Refrigerator removed, stove moved, counter tops removed, 3 base cabinets removed. Vinyl flooring removed and damaged sink based removed from kitchen. Due to the nature of this claim we returned two base cabinets and placed the countertops to rest on said base cabinets and dishwasher. After several days we realized the nature of this claim could not be completed as per our SF adjusters recommendations, we reconnected the dishwasher and plumbing to the sink and returned the refrigerator and stove to the kitchen until further authorization from State Farm.

Due to the condition of the cabinets and SF's instructions SF was contacted. We were told they would need a letter from a contractor stating that said cabinets couldn't be repaired.

6/18 We received Area Decors letter. We were advised the damaged cabinets could not be repaired. The requested letter stated that the cabinets could not be matched. Unitemized amounts were included in the letter.

6/19 Photos and Area Decor's letter was emailed to our SF claim rep.

6/24 Received a 3rd supplement from SF, to our claim package with a check in the amount of $4243.98. $352.30 less than amounts on Area Decor's letter.

Realizing these figures were well below what was needed, I made a call to the SF claim office to advise them that we weren't in agreement with this contractor concerning his quote and that the letter was only meant to be the requested letter stating that the cabinet could not be repaired. I was never given authorization or instructions to obtain cabinet quotes. SF had only approved for the sink base cabinet to be repaired on three sides up until this point.

From 6/24 to sometime the week of July 14th numerous attempts were made to get clarification of the amounts given on the Area Decor letter. During this time we were advised that until clarification was made from Area Decor we could not proceed with submitting other contractor quotes.

Between 7/11 and 7/15 I proceeded to obtain an accurate kitchen quote in hopes that I could get a clearer picture of the cost. It was during this time SF finally decided to throw out Area Decor's letter. I was then given the ok to proceed with obtaining a cabinet and countertop quote. With no guidance from SF that is what I did.

7/15 Home Depot Cabinet measuring

7/16 Home Depot floor measuring

7/26 Received Final quotes from Home Depot for flooring, cabinets and countertops.

7/29 Final Quotes and builder supplements were emailed to SF claim office

7/31 or 8/1... I called SF to follow up on submitted quotes and spoke with a SF team member. Was told they would forward the information to team leader and would call me.

8/4 Spoke with head claim SF team member and was advised that the submitted bid was too high. I could choose to have the original SF adjuster come back out or proceed to get another quote. During the conversation the SF team member stated that SF had dropped the ball on this claim.

At no time were parameters or directions given from SF in searching for quotes.

8/4 SF team member emailed me a list of contractors in my area. Stating we need an unbiased quote.

8/7 Southeast Restoration came to our home for measuring and gaining information for a quote

8/11 Received an emailed quote from Southeast Restoration. Several mistakes were noticed. I called to advise of the mistakes.

8/12 Noticed major measuring mistakes on the SR quote so I emailed them the measures from the SF claim package to compare.

8/12 I personally found a list of 6-7 contractors for my area. I proceeded to call down the list. 4 of the 5 numbers listed were no longer working numbers.

8/12 - 8/14 Several attempts...2 phone calls and a couple of emails noting the mistakes... were made to get clarification and corrections made on the quote.

8/14 One last email was sent to Southeast Restoration with my concerns of no response to the emails or phone calls.

8/15 I received a corrected quote from Southeast Restoration.

8/18 We had another company come to our home for yet another quote. Was told it would be Friday 8/22 before we would receive their quote

Hmm...I wonder what my whole life would look like in a time line? Would I see my God in a different light? Would I see how He has fought for me and placed just the right people in my life for my good? Would I see how very patient He has been with me? Loving me always even when I didn't deserve it. Waiting for me to get my act together and submit to His will not mine. Would I see that His timing is perfect...never late and never early!? Would I see that no matter how many plans I had for my life, His were always so much better!? That through the pain of life He brought beauty and Joy.

I know I can not make time stand still or speed up. I can not go back or skip over. However I can step back and look at my life as a whole and say ...."Yes...My God is good!"

"He knows what's best for me and I will follow!"

Friday, August 15, 2014

Monday, August 11, 2014

This is an Insurance claim that will not end...

I remember several years ago during hurricane season, our friends from Florida evacuated to our home to wait out the storm. Little did we know this storm would be a never ending disruption to Florida life. In an attempt to make light of the situation we began to sing a song. Over and over and over!

As we are now into week 11 of the demolition process of our kitchen, I found myself humming that ole familiar tune. I have a choice...I can scream, I can cry or I can sing! On the verge of loosing my sanity, I chose singing!

"This is a claim that will not end! It goes on and on...My friends! This mama started singing it not knowing how long it was and she will continue singing it forever just because....

It really is a catchy tune!
Well folks...I'm back to getting yet another quote! Each quote takes no less than 1 week to process. With each week my hope in seeing the end of this claim diminishes.

On July 29th I submitted our final bid with all submitted contractor supplements.The call came last Monday from my insurance company that my submitted bid was too high. I really wanted to throw up! My choice...Have the original adjuster come back out or get another bid! Given the options...why would I choose the original adjuster who dropped the ball from the get go? NO THANK YOU!!!!

Can someone tell me how a bid can be too high when they have given me NO direction except to go get cabinet bids? Have you seen the vast array of cabinets? I chose a mid-range cabinet, laminate counter tops and vinyl floors. After spending weeks of waiting on clarification from the first cabinet maker, I wanted to get an accurate itemized bid so this wouldn't have to drag out any longer.

Well...IT AIN'T OVER FOLKS!!!!!!!

I have cried, screamed, posted on FB and I have even resorted to tweeting with Jake from SF. Maybe the insurance commissioner should get in on the party?!  You too are welcome to join me on twitter...

The disruption of our home continues with Plywood floors and kitchen in the same condition it was 11 weeks ago. I'm beginning to get splinters in my feet. No more barefeet in this house! No more sanity either!

Time to click my heels together and wish for home! Wishing for this disruption to end....

Monday, August 4, 2014's making me wait!

Philippians 4:6-7
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.                                               

Anticipation can turn to anxiousness if you let it....

Anticipating the end of the week and the kids will be back in school.

Anticipating the return to structure and routine to our home....hahahaha! One can dream too!

Anticipating all the freedom and quiet I will have when that big yellow bus peaks around the corner....still dreaming!

Anticipating September and we will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary...Yes 30....It is possible!

Anticipating October and my beautiful morning coffee bud will be returning home from her adventure of a lifetime living with her aunt and uncle. Any time with my sister is an adventure!

Anticipating October and our other beautiful daughter will be changing her last name.

Anticipating and praying my kitchen will one day be completed....10 weeks and counting! Jake from SF must be busy!

Anticipating how busy the Holcombe house will be over the next few months! What am I saying ...we are very busy year round!

So many thoughts of future adventures and milestones. Seasons of life changing, right along with the leaves. Oh to make time stand still or reverse itself, as I wait for answers to life's unanswered questions. Unfinished dreams or ignored moments that are forever gone! Only to impact tomorrow's anticipations!

These changes can only help me to take a deeper look at my past and see how my Father in Heaven has continued to mold me into the very image of His beloved. My future is in His hands!

All these anticipations, they pale in comparison to that grand moment of anticipation! That beautiful moment when my Father in Heaven says "Well done thy good and faithful servant!"

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dancing with our Insurance company to the song "I dream of a beautiful kitchen"

(To the tune of White Christmas)
I'm dreaming of beautiful kitchen! Just like the one I used to know!
Where the memories of loved ones laughing
and the lips of my children smacking!
Just to taste the recipes that they know!

Six weeks of a journey unlike the one I had in my head.
Six weeks of trying my patience....or what's left of it.
Six weeks of teaching me to stand my ground.
Six weeks of stretching me beyond what I would say necessary. Stretch Armstrong is eating my dust!

Let me back up a few months....

Back in March I began to notice our dishwasher leaking. Thinking it was coming from the door when we would open it...I run on average two loads a day. Also, we were pushing about 5-6 years on this help mate of mine. Not bad for a family of 11!  Anyways...I would just wipe it up and use this as an opportunity to mop the surrounding floor. Not realizing what was happening in the back part of the cabinet.

We decided to retire our faithful companion and up grade to a nice shiny model! The day of the switch out we made a discovery...A soaking wet cabinet! Let's just say particle board box cabinets don't repel water to well!  That man of mine made an immediate repair to the line and we kept the dishwasher pulled out so as to allow the cabinet to dry. In the mean time I made the call to our insurance agent. Our faithful insurance company SF,we have had for 30 years. In thirty years this would only be our second claim ever! Six cars, Two houses and a boat....Can you say "Faithful Customer?"

The adjuster they sent out showed up several hours before our scheduled time with no warning. He then proceeds to take measurements and barely pulls out the new dishwasher...which is just slid under the that he can see the damage.  His the cabinet. The side, the back and the bottom. Really? Repair three sides of a four sided cabinet? A manufactured box cabinet that is basically glued and stapled together? I'm advised that if we get everything pulled out and see there is more damage just let them know. I would just need a recommendation from a contractor. We received the first claim a week later but noticed a mistake which was several thousand to our good. Doing the right thing I made the call to the adjuster! Man I would have loved that new refrigerator he added into the claim! However...he was very thankful at our honesty! So we waited another week for the correction to be made.

So as to not disrupt our kids while they are finishing up the end of the year and testing, I decided to wait until school was out to begin this adventure. Being knee deep in wedding planning, daughter graduating from high school and kids prepping to take CRCT test, This was a wise move. Oh and getting ready for another one to leave the country for a few months. No....My plate is not full!

A wise move because we are now into the sixth week of this demolition of my kitchen that began the first part of June.

This would be the cabinet he wanted us to repair.

I must admit I'm beginning to get use to this rustic floor. I have totally eliminated the chore of mopping. The dining room carpet refuses to stay clean because of the plywood floor debris that get tracked in from the kitchen. So vacuuming may be a thing of the past too!

In order to see the complete damage and prove to the insurance company that the cabinet could NOT be repaired, plumbing had to be disconnected and counter tops removed. So this is what I was suppose to be left with before our friendly insurance company would approve further repairs. Can someone tell me how a family of 9 is suppose to function in a kitchen without a sink? This my friends is why I am thankful I had the good sense to wait until school was out! This was the first part of June.

That sweet man of mine had mercy on me and did a temporary reconnect. The damaged cabinet totally removed and the counter is just resting on the two base cabinets and dishwasher. All this until I can get an accurate cost of cabinet replacement. That was over six weeks ago.

Before I can get estimates for replacement, the claims office needed photos of the damaged cabinet and a letter stating that it could not be repaired. In an effort to get the cabinets replaced I went to an authorized dealer of our cabinets. The owner of this company came out and measured. He was kind enough to write me a general letter to submit. However he included in his letter a few figures to replace cabinets. Along with the photos, I submitted his letter. One week later I had a check for a little over $4200. This was even $350 less than this man's figures. Now, that letter was not an actual itemized estimate. No explanation as to what all he had included into his figures. Realizing that this figure seemed below what it should, I went and received a few other estimates. I received not one but several estimates that were several thousand dollars more! I thought this repair was going to be easy! I have challenged the first cabinet makers letter. I have called this man several times to get a clear answer as to what all he included in his figures. I have yet to get a clear answer from this elderly man. Each time I have to remind him of who I am and he never really gives me an answer to my questions. He has yet to return the insurance company's calls. However, until they can get him to explain, they will not accept another estimate. If I do submit them, they will use his letter to challenge the other estimates.

Today I had a contractor come out for accurate measurements of the kitchen and am proceeding to move full force to get my kitchen back into a safe and working order. My family should not have to continue this dance with our faithful insurance company!

Oh and during all this...we receive a letter dated March 23 ( my second corrected claim is dated March 17th) stating we need to make the necessary repairs and send documentation to our agent by July 13th. This is from the first claim that they only approved the replacement of flooring and repair of the cabinet. All that was on hold until we could get approval for cabinet replacement. Demolition and communication with the claims office began the first part of June. By June 6 we received another letter...they decided to cancel our insurance because they haven't received documentation by the requested time of July13th. I say all this to say, on the claim letter that came with our claim package it says we have up to two years to make the necessary repairs. Of course we aren't going to wait two years! The left hand apparently doesn't know what the right hand is doing! I would have had this all done by now, had the adjuster put the claim in correctly to start with. Instead I have had to jump through hoops and been required to submit request or receipts for any additional work that was needed apart from the original claim. I have yet to even cash the first check they sent us. Our agent did get us an extension. So, it's all up to them whether or not they want to keep us!

Every morning that I walk into our kitchen I feel the stress and frustration, maybe a LOT little anger, well up in me! Until I look up and see right there on the side of the kitchen cabinets, a sweet reminder!
In all things to be thankful!
Hopefully this won't turn into a Christmas adventure!
Where is Jake when you need him?!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Dear Generation XYZ....

Sometimes a mama just needs to vent.....

You are spoiled brats!!! We as your parents have done you all a disservice. We have allowed you all to live in a fantasy world, afraid to see you fall or make a mistake. Wiping your little bottoms for you when the choices you have made leave behind your unmet dreams. Your dreams of entitlement need to end! You poor thing!

We have shoved you in a corner for a little timeout when really what you needed is a good swat on the behind! We have stood in the way and fought your battles for you, not allowing you to fight them for yourself! We have not only sanitized your hands from germs, we have sanitized your life so much that you have no idea how it feels to experience the joy of  really living. Feeling what it's like to  accomplish goals on your own.

Honoring your father and mother do you even know what that means? God never said stop when you reach a certain age!

Today I came home to two sinks of dirty dishes. This is not the first time either! Mind you .....I have been away for a few days. So, How long have they been sitting? The youngest three were with me. Leaving four adult children living under my roof. I provide food along with my chef services, shelter and even car insurance! I ask nothing from any of them in return! Maybe it's time to start?!

A couple of years ago when my husband injured his ankle I was left to juggle most ...ALL....of the household affairs. I remember standing in my yard with a gas weed eater hanging around my neck, red faced and killing myself.  One of my dear children walks up to me. Never once saying mom let me do that. This young adult was too busy. Headed to a family event of a friend. All I did was stand there and say I need help around here. The response I got was "I help" he/she walked away. A few months later I see a sweet note of thank you to this child of mine for helping someone by doing their yard work for them. REALLY! Mind you ...I'm killing myself while allowing them to live here rent free and paying their car insurance too. Don't I feel special! Don't I feel honored! Don't I feel loved! Not really....

I love my kids but sometimes I really don't like being their mom! I have poured every ounce of my being into this calling and sacrifice. Boy have I sacrificed! My sanity that is!  All for what? To lead by example? To show them the unconditional love that is instilled in my heart?

They just don't get it! What does a mom have to do to get a message to them? Hang a big sign around my neck saying...I will no longer be taken advantage of. I quit! Well I really can't stop being their mama! I don't want to either. All I want is for them to take up their own responsibilities. Contribute somehow to the household. Clean your room!!!!!! Do the damn dishes! ( I rarely cuss so maybe this will get their attention!) After all they are adults! Right?

If anyone needs me I'll be in my front yard holding a picket sign! So much for the time away to decompress from the stress! I think I just picked it back up!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The electronic divide...a challenge for the summer!

With a few strokes of the keys, one can breathe life...or death... into the lives of those that surf the never ending wall of photos, quotes and just plain 'look at what I'm doing today' post. My how life has become so complicated, so self absorbed since the introduction of the world wide web. Social media. Information overload. At a moment's notice you can diagnose an illness or discover a long lost friend...or enemy. Instantly finding out who's hating who or who is loving who. Causing a great divide among friends and families. Secrets exposed. Thoughtless words written on a wall for all to see. Boldness behind words that would otherwise be thought about before they were ever spoken. If spoken at all. With a click of a "Like" button, a view of a heart exposed. Often finding myself gasping rather than cheering with excitement.

Before social media, friendships had real meaning. Real friendships include spending real time together, doing real events, making real connections. Investing ones self with time and attention. Now you can have hundreds of friends and never spend one second with any of them. What kind of friendship is that? Have we replaced meaningful friendships with superficial ones? I think I would rather have a few friends I can invest my time in rather than hundreds who all I do is sit and glimpse into their daily grind of life. Never really investing myself into that friendship. In fact, I'm hearing many young people questioning who their "REAL" friends are. Hearing them say... " I have no friends." Has social media distorted their definition of true friendship? Time wasted punching keys instead of investing ourselves into the lives of those we call Time with handheld devices in front of our faces instead of eye to eye contact while having a meaningful conversation. Will our children even know what a real conversation looks like? Feels like?

Social media has replaced friendships and email has replaced handwritten letters. What was suppose to make life easier has really complicated and cluttered our lives. Our children will never know the beauty of a handwritten letter from a long lost friend. Do you even remember what it felt like to receive a handwritten letter? The uncomplicated  moment of a true friendship.  The embrace of an old friend whom they haven't seen in years while spending time catching up on life with them without the electronic screen in front of them. Hearing a friend's voice instead of reading their words.

My how life has changed! Oh for the days of electronic silence just to hear the laughter of our children as they run and play. Summertime friendships with mason jars and chasing fire flies. .lightening bugs. Running in the sprinklers. Laying on quilts at night as they gaze up at the stars. Riding bikes until dark...or the street lights come on.

What will their childhood memories be like? Will they care that every little bleep of their lives are recorded for all to see? What stories will they tell their children? Have we given our children a life worth relishing in when they grow old? How will the investments we make today pay out in our children's tomorrow?

Memories we make today will be the stories our children speak of tomorrow.....

 I want to challenge you all! This summer take a 1 week break from ALL electronic devices. No Internet, NO TV. Just 1 week! This will take much planning but so worth it. Oh the silence! The first few days will be hard but the reward will be amazing! Take the time to give your full attention to a friend or family member. Go chase fire flies! Lay on a quilt at night and gaze up at the stars....I did this with my grandmother. It's one of my most favorite memories! Read a real book. Call an old friend and make a lunch date. Have a family sit down at the same table meal, at the same time. Listen to your kids voices. Their laughter. Play a real board game. Look your spouse in the eye and see what color their eyes are. Remind them of why they married you in the first place....way before the Internet! These are just some suggestions.  Please share if you have others! I'm going to try and document my week and hope to share it with you here. Now... to challenge my family! SO...the challenge is starting with me. Hopefully they will follow.  Have fun and let me know how you do! Oh, If you flop one day....don't get discouraged! Get back up and start again! The reward is in the trying!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Sticks and Stones...Words that Hurt

  Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me!

 I remember chanting these words as a child. Often as a response when a friend or sibling was hurt by someone's unthoughtfulness. But they do hurt! Those words. Often they catch you off guard during a moment when you least expect it.

Let's face it girls...Most of us will never have our prebaby bodies back! Never! The stretchmarks and the leftover baby bulge will forever be a part of the woman that you have become! The medal you have earned! So...wear it proud!

This 48 year old body has carried nine beautiful babies! I can honestly say I have cherished each 9 month journey that I took! In my head I am still that petite 100lb woman who chose to take this journey. My 5'3 frame of a body just hasn't got the message!

I have carefully tried not to ever compare myself to any photoshopped image on a page or screen. Mostly for my daughters...and for my own well being. However, Once you cross that compare line it's very difficult to reverse the damage that has been done. Walking this road will leave you frustrated and feeling defeated.

I do however think I have failed in the area of taking care of me. Thirty years of working on the inside but neglecting the outerpart. Exercise is very important...especially when you are a mom. Me...My time and energy is very limited. My energy reserves are very depleted. But that is all about to change!

Ladies....there is one rule you never break! NEVER NEVER NEVER ask a woman when they are due! Especially if you don't even know they are expecting! If you don't even know them personally!  I have had this happen a few times ...some from perfect strangers. I have a very meek and mild personality. I usually  laugh it off while dying on the inside. However, as this southern girl has aged that has all changed. Life has shown me that I don't have to always be quiet or polite when others fail at respect or common courtesy.

Today it happened again!  My first response was...Excuse me? She said it again....the girl at the check out counter in the Christian bookstore. "When are you due?" As I stood there feeling embarrassed and  very angry that someone that I didn't even know had just invaded my world. These words flew.

"I am not expecting"
"That was very rude"
"No 48 year old woman should be having a baby"
"I never thought I would leave crying from a Christian Book store"

all she could say was sorry...Is sorry enough?

Enough for the humiliation and embarrassment that I felt?
Enough for the tears that fell upon my face?
Enough for the way I allowed these words to tear at the woman that I am?
Enough for the way I allowed my insecurity to overwhelm and devour the woman that God says I am?

Me...I'm OK. I guess I should send her a thank you note for the motivation she gave me today. I can allow this to overwhelm me or I can take a good long look in the mirror and make some changes.

I think I'll take the changes....Changes for the good!

If you need me....I'll be that 48 year old pregnant looking lady walking the track!

Monday, February 17, 2014

My Father...He did it again

Be careful what you pray.
Out of my desire to know His heart and know Him completely I asked....

When you ask God to take you deeper... He will.
He will reach into those deepest places of your heart and pull out all the dark rotted matter that rest upon your soul.
He will take you on a journey like no-other.
He will take you to a place that leads straight to His heart...the pure one.
He will mold and fill those empty spaces that keep you from fully knowing Him...knowing Him completely.
He...your Father will show you an unconditional love that no man(human) can ever show.

Yes my very own heart surgeon has done it again. He dug deep and pulled me close to His heart. He reached in and took another piece that I have been hanging on too. Tearing away that dark rotted matter. The things that keep Him from fully having my heart. The things that steal the joy. The peace. The freedom.

Freedom in knowing Him completely.

There is nothing more beautiful than the moment when my Father pulls me close to His heart and says rest. Stay a while. I've got this. Trust me. Lay it at my feet.

and leave it here.

The real beauty of laying it down and finally finding the rest in knowing Him.

 .....and all I did was ask Him to take me deeper!

Monday, February 3, 2014

The dance.....with my Father!

There is something so sweet and beautiful about watching a young bride as she dances with her father on her special day. Soon our very own daughter will be lovingly embraced by the love of my life. I look forward to watching this sweet moment. I must admit this is the part that gets me everytime. A little jealous I guess. But nonetheless a very sweet moment that I get lost in. Usually fighting back the tears.

My own dad passed away when I was thirteen. At the time of my wedding we didn't even have music or dancing at our reception. This was probably a wise move that saved me a lot of emotional heartache.  Although my sweet step-dad would have more than filled the void that rest in my soul, had I thought to include this into the ceremony.

Many of you may think I'm crazy....maybe I am! I really am not much into visions...however I think God does work at times in this area. Sometimes He has to get our attention in ways we least expect it. Even times that we least expect. Caution in this area is always wise.

A few weeks ago I received a sweet gift that was so unexpected. It caught me off guard! That's just how  our heavenly Father works. The funny thing is, I can't even remember the worship song that was being played. While standing in church my heart was grasped by my Father. As He took my hand He began to swirl me around and smile with the biggest smile I have ever seen. I remember dancing and  laughing as  He...My Father....gave me the sweetest most unexpected gift....My daddy daughter dance! With tears in my eyes I felt His great love fill a void that I had forgotten was there. A dance that I will never forget! Me a beautiful bride dancing with her father. Thirty years later but in the most perfect time.

I am so amazed at how my Father knows me so well. He knows those deepest places in my soul. The ones no one ever sees. In His time He fills. He heals. He loves. He smiles. He dances with his girl! He fills those broken places that only He can. How amazing is that?!  Me....I just had to be that willing vessel. The empty one with those broken places.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dear young mother....there will be days!

Here I am 30 years into this marriage and mothering thing and I still don't have a clue! I sometimes wonder if I was even paying attention in class. Was I listening to all those wise words of wisdom from wives and mothers who have walked before me? Was I listening to the countless messages brought before me as I sat in the pew? Was I listening to His still small voice when He said..."I've got this!"? Did or do I trust Him? After all that I know....Would I do it all again? If I could go back and warn that young mother.....What would I say?

Dear young mother....
There will be days when your breath is all you have. Why? Because you have poured every once of your being into the world that surrounds you.
There will be days when serving such selfish people will seem like a waste. But hang on! It's not!
There will be days when you feel invisible...God sees you!
There will be days when you ask..."There has to be something more...right?".....There is!
There will be days when all you want is 5 minutes of quiet to sustain will come.
There will be days when that man you married will become a man you may not like or know....Love him anyway! He does love you!
There will be days when your grown children will pull and tug on you as though they are 5. It's because of that unconditional love you have poured into them. You will always be their biggest fan!
There will be days when you beg God for a change....He will! In His time!
There will be days when you are just so overwhelmed that even your breath is fighting against you! Lean into Him!
 There will be days when after wishing they would just give you a few moments of quiet that they may not speak to you for days....This dear mother is heart breaking but you will get through it!
There will be days when waiting up just to hear them come in becomes your night-time routine...they may not come in and it will be hard! Know that God is working!

Dear young mother....I'm sure there will be many hard days and long ones too! Days wondering if all you have poured into them has even made an impact....It has! You may not see it now but God does have a plan!

Dear young mother if I could tell you anything of value to help you walk this road ahead, it would be one word...Jesus! It's at His name that everything changes. Everything becomes new. Everything becomes right! I may not have all the right answers at the moment but I know the man who does. He has been my life sustaining voice during this whole journey. My rock! He has carried me through the good times and the bad. He is the reason I am on this journey of motherhood. A ministry that I was chosen to do. Many days I feel so inadequate . Are you sure God I am the best person for this job? Every time the answer is YES!

Let's face it dear mother....Life is hard! It's not going to be all that you thought it would be. It's not always going to be what you would have liked.  That's the mystery of Life! The unknown! If someone had told me about all the hard days ahead ,Would I have still continued? I can honestly say YES!!!!! Yes, because all the good that God has done outweighs all those hard days. The hard days have molded me into the woman that God meant for me to be. I don't always like that woman! She could always do better. But God loves her! He trust her with the life she has been given. He thinks she is the best woman for the job!

So dear mother you have been warned! Are you listening? That fairy tale life you thought you should have, it doesn't even compare to the one God is writing! So go now and snuggle with those babies....they grow quickly! Go and love the man you have been given...he will grow old! All those chores and bills that consume your will be there later! Go and do life and keep doing life!

Because if I could....I would do it all again!