being thankful

At this time of year, we often take a look back and see how much God has blessed us in the last year.  In the last year, I have been on an emotional roller coaster but I’m happy to say that God is faithful and I am 100% happier then I was at this time last year!!! 

At the beginning of last year’s holiday season, I was depressed with thinking of facing a holiday season without my Mom.  It was the first time I faced the holidays without her.  It was horrible, I’ll be the first to admit that, but as everything else…life goes on.  Last Thanksgiving, we shared dinner with my Dad, my niece Racheal & her family & my niece Taba stopped by.  We had a good day of food and football and playing games.  But there was a big gaping hole without my Mom.  And while it’s hard…it gets easier…it still hurts badly.  Christmas came and went along with New Years.  My birthday, Jason’s birthday, Jayden’s birthday all came and went without much ado.  Then came April…April Jason & I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary, June we found out I was loosing my job, July my Dad had quadruple bypass surgery & I had shingles, August found me in a job interview in Greenbelt, MD.  September found me employed at my dream job making more money then my last job…and the rest is a blur. 

But I can say that with 100% certainty, God has blessed me 10 fold from where I was one year ago today.  Through out the bad days of this year we never lost anything we feel are “luxuries” and everyone is in good health. 

So this year, I’m thankful for the things below (they are in no particular order):

  • a comfortable home, my Ford Ranger pick-up truck, the 7 computers in my home
  • Kyrah, Anna, Alexia, Alicia, Kiesha, Logan, Corbin & Ethan
  • my purse collection, my cell phone, Crocs
  • Lakota
  • Maggie, DeeDee, Rosary, Kerri, & Heather (and all other long lost friends now found)
  • my health, the air I breathe, being healthier
  • Jason
  • Stac
  • the many pilots who have carried me all over the country safely, Philips Products closing it’s doors, being Technical Coordinator for NFRC
  • Jayden
  • Taba, Racheal & Amanda (aka 2, 3, & 4)
  • Erica
  • the wonderful food Jason will make for me this Thursday, spending Thanksgiving in Ninevah, IN & hanging out with Susan & George
♫ I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart, I will enter His courts with praise, I will say this is day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice for He has made me glad!!! ♫

Adoption Day

it was about 2:30pm on November 22, 1999 when Jason, Jayden & I sat in the judges chambers while he looked over the “decree for adoption” that would say that Jayden was ours for the rest of his life. it took all of about 25 minutes, he signed and out we went. Jayden was born Jayden Nicholas David Housley and in those 25 minutes his name changed to Jayden Nicholas David Padgett. there are no photographic evidence this happened, but only the memories in my mind. there is the adoption decree that i carried in my purse for close to 9 years afraid someone was going to question if he was mine, but nothing photographic. we had been caring for him since the second he was born. i was in the delivery room, cut the cord and was the first one to hold him…while he was icky & gross still. we took him home with temporary legal custody until the adoption was final. and while i knew everything would be ok…having those papers, knowing the judge signed the decree and spending those 25 minutes in the judges chambers truly changed my life. Jayden is my walking talking reminder that God does answer my prayers; that is why his name is Jayden (Jadon is Hebrew for Jehovah has heard)!!! i can truly say i am thankful for the priviledge of being called “Mom”!!!!

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Simply one of the most powerful books I have ever read.  I simply wept at the end, that’s how much this book touched me.  And Stac…never again will one second of my life go by without you in it.  We really are best friends forever!!!

1. One of the first things Tully says to Kate is a lie. Indeed, Tully is quick to lie throughout her life. Do you think this trait is her way of hiding the shames in her past or is it a willful reinterpretation of self? Do these lies and manipulations, big and small, help her ultimately to be more honest about whom she is or do they undermine her ability to face her own shortcomings?  Tully is ashamed of her life and that is why she lies.  She lies to cover up things so people won’t judge her.  She understands who she is at the end of the book…and owns herself and her life when she goes on the air live with no make-up.

2. From her earliest memory, Tully feels abandoned by her mother and father. How does this sense of being unwanted influence her life? How does her troubled relationship with her mother lead to the decisions she makes in her life? Do children have an obligation of some kind to forgive their parents, even in the face of repeated disappointment? How much do you think childhood heartaches make us who we are? Tully was never wanted by her mother, so she needed to be wanted by everyone else, that’s why she chose the career she did.  As adults, we can not change who our parents are.  Either you accept them and love them anyway, or you simply cut them out of your life.  Childhood heartaches mold us into the very people we are.

3. The Kate-Johnny-Tully triangle is one of the fundamental underpinnings of the novel. How does Johnny really feel about Tully? How does Tully feel about him?  Still to the last page of the book, i expected something to happen between them.  I am impressed and awed that Johnny truly stuck his ground and loved only Katie.  Johnny admires Tully, but loves Katie.

4. Kate believes she is Johnny’s second choice for love. How does Johnny contribute to her insecurities? How did Tully? How much of a relationship is set in the beginning and how are changes made as we grow? Johnny contributes by allowing his admiration and adoration of Tully cloud his judgements at times.  Tully secretly wants what Katie has even Johnny.  How much of a relationship is set in the beginning…amazing question…which I have no logical answer.

5. When Chad leaves Tully, she rationalizes away her broken heart by saying,”if really loved me, he would wait for me.” What does this reveal about Tully’s perception of romantic love? How do these perceptions setthe stage for the rest of her life? Do you believe that Tully will ever fall in love?  Until Tully learns to love herself and allows herself to be vulnerable, she will never fall in love.  She was only herself with Katie.

6. Near the end of the novel, when their friend is on the rocks, both women feel wronged. Certainly Kate has ample reason to feel betrayed, but what about Tully’s similar belief? Do you understand why Tully was upset, too? Do you believe that a friend should always reach out, even when great pain has been caused? Or do you believe that true friends would never hurt each other?  I believe a friend should always reach out.  True friends will do their best not to hurt each other, but we are human, and eventually someone’s feelings will be hurt and regardless if it’s a hurt feeling or a great pain, a friend should reach out!!

7. If you could think of one word that personified the seventies, the eighties,the nineties, and the new millennium (so far), what would those words be?  70s – freedom; 80s – awesome; 90s – heartbreaking; 20s – stretching.  Freedom…because I had no cares in the 70s.  Awesome…because i had no idea how much fun i truly had back then.  Heartbreaking….because I suffered many heartaches in the 90s.  Stretching…growing…expanding…these are all things i have done in the new millennium…painful but intoxicating at the same time.

8. At which moment in the novel did you first notice a hint of tension between Tully and Kate? Who do you feel was to blame for this turning point?  When Tully always wanted Katie to work with her as a reporter and Katie wanted to go her own way.

9. Music plays an important role in this novel. What musical memories do you have of your teen years, your twenties, and today? Do you feel, as we get older, that music plays less of a role in our lives? Why do you feel that music so profoundly impacts us when we’re “coming of age?”  Music, regardless of my age, plays an enormous part of my life.  That’s one of the things i loved about this book, the tribute to music!!  Music transcends, takes us back and captures our emotions over and over again.

10. What do you feel Kate was most jealous about with regards to Tully? And what was Tully the most envious of in Kate’s life? Jealousy is often wanting what we cannot have. Do you feel that these characters truly could not have the things they wanted? If not, why not?  Katie was jealous that Johnny wanted Tully first.  Tully was jealous that Katie had love.  Tully could have had love, but she could never let her guard down with anyone but Katie.

11. Under what circumstances do you feel a betrayal is unforgivable? Do you feel that any of these characters crossed that line?  There is nothing unforgivable.

12. What role do you see Tully playing in Mara’s life, after the pages of the novel are closed?  After the pages of the novel are closed, I imagine that Tully tries to help Marah as much as possible.  She will help them all, Johnny, Marah, William & Lucas.  She will never fill the void of Katie, but she will take care of them.  She is loyal to Katie without question.

Sooner friends….found………

I am often amazed and extremely thankful that i have found almost all my friends since i was 4 yrs old.  The internet has a way of connecting people regardless of geographical closeness.  I am very thankful for my dear friends who I have found in the last year on Facebook.

Pre-Kindergarten friends found:  Maggy Daxon, my first friend ever!!!, and DeeDee Artherton.  Both were friends I made while staying at my Manny’s house.  We spent countless hours playing outside, slumber parties and hanging out and being together.  I have found both of them in the last year via Facebook.

K-6 friends found:  Rosary Hernandez, Shellie Stafford & Kerri Pannell.  I have found these three in the last year and all had such an amazing inpact on me growing up.  Shellie and i would spend the night at each other’s house, we were in Girl Scout’s together, she was there for my 10th birthday party.  I have a lasting reminder of my dear friendship with Shellie…a piece of rock in my lip that is still there today…left over from a fall on the playground in 3rd grade where i broke my nose.  Shellie and i were running to the line, obviously she beat me!!  Rosary was my elementary school BFF.  We played countless games of tether ball, talked about all the boys in class and always had each others back.  I don’t know how many secrets of my crush on Jason Lacey I shared with her…great memories that I would never trade.  Kerri and I were great friends until she moved across town and we lost contact.  I can remember standing in the street watching her car drive away and sobbing.  My mom had to explain that across town wasn’t the end of the world.  I’m glad to have re-connected with her!!  I had two other close friends, Staci Toth & Vicki Burwell that i just recently learned are still alive and well in B’ville and i hope to re-connect with them as well.

Grades 7 – 10 friends found:  Heather Smith, Virginia Campbell & Marla McGee.  Heather and I became fast friends via choir.  She and i would talk about anything & everything.  Boys, classes, religion…you name it, we talked about it.  She is my BFF from Junior High.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I had a friend request on Facebook from her…I had only been looking for her for almost 2 years!!!  I remember having several classes with Virginia and her and i always laughing in class.  We weren’t good friends, but she made a lasting impression on me…and I’m so excited she is now my sister in Christ.  I have a million and one memories of Marla McGee…and most of them take place at Municiple Stadium when it was probably 101 degrees.  I remember her and I being the only girls in a big group of boys who seemed to be at every home  baseball game the Doenges Ford Injuns had.  Hanging out with Marla always made my life a little more fun and i cherish those memories even today. 

* insert a life changing move to another entire state, losing contact with most every friend i had ever made *

i can’t even begin to describe the deep sense of gratitude i have in finding these important people in my life.  so many times we don’t realize the impact we have on those around us and these girls probably don’t know what their friendship has always meant to me.  so for the memories, the laughs, the secrets shared, the countless hours of shared kindred spirits…i say thank you to my dear friends.  thank you for allowing me to see into your lives now, even if it is from a Facebook status or a blog entry.

Amanda

My family is odd and complex. I was the baby of a woman who had me late in life with her new husband. I am my Dad’s only child. My mom had two other children: a daughter 13 yrs older than me (Dinah, God rest her soul) and a son 11 yrs older than me (Bubba). I have been the ‘World Greatest Aunt’ since I was 6.

My sister had 7 children: Julie (33), Racheal (28), Molly (27), Josh (25), Katy (23), Daniel (21) & Willie (19). Julie lives in Oklahoma with her 3 children: Jessica, Dannyelle & Joey. Racheal lives in South Carolina with her 3 girls: Alexia, Kyrah & Ryannah. Molly lives in Missouri with her 4 children: Justice, Dre, Aliyah & Dominick. Josh lives in Missouri with his 2 girls: Ty & JC. Katy lives in Oklahoma with her 3 children: Zoe, Gary & Zandra. Daniel & Willie both live in Missouri.
My brother had 6 children: Tabatha (30), Amanda (27), Savannah (23), Danielle (23), Ben (19), Cody (18). Taba lives in Elkhart with her 3 children: Kiesha, Logan & Alicia. Amanda lives in Texas with her 2 boys: Ethan & Corbin. Savannah lives in Elkhart with her daughter Madison. Danielle lives in Indiana with her daughter Kahlan. Ben is in the Marines and lives in California. Cody is finishing up high school and lives in Elkhart.
As I am sure I will do over the course of this blog is blog about my nieces and nephews since they have always been such a big part of my life. Some though not until recently when we’ve all grown up and became more like sisters instead of aunt/nieces. I can remember, for example, babysitting Taba & Rae for my entire summer while my mom & sister worked. I can remember being in the hospital the night Molly was born. I can remember Taba living with me for 4 years and being “my little sister”. So many great memories that I can and will share but today my blog is about Amanda. I never really had much contact with Amanda until they moved here and she was in junior high or beginning high school. She always had a special bond with my mom. I remember one birthday that I took her out for lunch then went shopping, just us. It was a great memory for me. I remember the night I shocked everyone and went out with them for “Girls Night Out.” She still has the picture of me holding a beer and being in shock. Now, I have another great memory with this past weekend in San Antonio. Amanda welcomed me into her home and showed me a great time while I was there. I am honored to be the first one in our family to have visited her. I will always be the one who visited her first!! I know she is lonesome down there without family so I was glad I could spend some time with her and her boys. I had so much fun it was hard to leave them at the airport without breaking down and crying!! Her little boys just stole my heart…Ethan especially!! I am so thankful for the internet and the technology to keep in touch…Facebook & texting provide instantaneous communication with our loved ones far away. So Amanda, thank you for another great memory to add to the million other memories that make me thankful to be the ‘World’s Greatest Aunt’!!! Love you much!!!

sisters

One of my earliest memories is waking up on the floor on spring morning. I remember crying, I remember pain. I remember my sister coming in to check on me and helping me get to my grandma (Manny’s) house. My sister trying to do everything to get me to be ok, worried about me and taking care of me. I was maybe 4 yrs old and she got me up every morning and took me to my Manny’s house because my mom worked nights at the ER. Manny & Dinah finally called my mom where I was rushed to the ER with a broken collar bone. I had fallen from my bunk bed and landed wrong and it snapped.

Another early memory of my childhood was lying in bed with my sister. She was always so warm and when I could be cold I would always want to snuggle with her. I know there is more than one picture floating around of us sleeping together. She would always sing to me; to this day I can’t hear the song, The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, without thinking of her.
I was 5 when my next memory comes in. I was sick as a dog as I slept through most of my sister’s graduation and the party afterwards. A few months later, I remember going into a room and seeing my sister all dressed up and I had no idea what was going on, but as my sister walked down the aisle of the church and my mom squeezing my hand, I knew it was pretty profound. I didn’t understand why she wasn’t staying in my room anymore but Mom quickly changed the room around so I didn’t have too much time to miss her. It would be a little over a year later that my first niece, Julie, was born.

My mom and my sister would often time play jokes on me. They both looked A LOT alike and sounded alike as well. I remember one summer day that my mom stuck her head out the window and told me to come inside. I thought this was odd because she just sent me outside!! When low and behold it was Dinah telling me to come in and see her and baby Julie. I would call home later in my life and Dinah would be home and pretend to be mom or Mom would answer and I would demand to talk to Mom, thinking it was Dinah.
When I was 11, Dinah named her second child after me. Racheal & I share the same middle name and thus forged the bond between sisters even more. Dinah would often spoil me, buying me things Mom would say was too expensive or unnecessary. I was 12 when my sister bought me a waterbed, much to my Mom’s dismay.
When I was 12 I was finally allowed to go to the hospital while Dinah had a baby! It was so boring!! I had to sit in the waiting room with my brother in law, Joey, and wait. Here I thought I was going to see something exciting and all I did was sleep. But at least I was there when Molly was born. For Josh, Katy & Daniel I was the babysitter while everyone else went to the hospital and for Willie I was in a different state.

Times past, choices made and we drifted apart but there was still that bond there that only those with sisters will ever understand. Shared memories, shared blood, shared secrets always brought us back into each other’s confidence. She would always give me very wise counsel from our Manny, “Listen to what everyone has to say, then do what you feel is best.” Something I have tried hard to live by. We had just found each other again when it was time for her to go and every day that goes by, I miss her. She left me with a great responsibility, being world’s greatest aunt to 7 wonderful kids. While I love them all equally, some of them are less close then others. Some are more like sisters then nieces and for that I will always thank Dinah for…I have all these little pieces of her left. So today on her 53rd birthday I celebrate. I celebrate her life and know that her and my Mom & my Manny (and other family members) are celebrating together. Here’s to you Dinah, my big sis…thanks for all you gave to me and continue to give me everyday!!

friends

Do you ever notice how many different “kinds” of friends you have??  You have the casual aquaintenance friend, the family friend, the co-worker friend, the long lost friend, the guy friend, the “BFF” friend, the new friend.  How these all make the tapestry that is our lives is a phenomenon that I find very interesting. 


The casual aquaintenance is that one who’s always ready to go out and hang out with you, have a laugh and it’s always a good time.  There might be some personal information exchanged, but not anything too deep.  This one is the good time person and it’s very fun to hang out with this person because it’s easy to be friends with them, it’s low maintenance.  It’s easy and fun.


The family friend is the person that you’ve known half of forever and have lots of memories with and always have a great time with when you hang out.  These friends are the ones you’ll share a holiday with, they are considered family and they know your entire life history and you know theirs but there may or may not be lots of secrets exchanged. Regardless they are part of the strings that make our lives beautiful.


The co-worker friend is the one that you have at work and perhaps not anywhere else.  While both work at the same place, the friendship thrives and is good, but should one or both of their employments change, the friendship dwindles and there is no real core to the friendship.  Don’t mistake their importance in our lives, though.  They make life at work worth living.


The long lost friend is the friend who may or may not want to be found.  If they are happy to be found, there will be hours and hours of catching up and you’ll quickly remember why you were friends in the first place.  Shared memories, shared mutual friends and new found interests are quickly found and the friendship is once again solidified.  If they are NOT happy to be found, they will try and avoid you while they say the would like to catch up and hurt you all over again.  Either way, the long lost friends are a thread that can not be replaced in our lives.


The guy friend is the friend who most of the time you forget what gender they are and take into confidence despite what others think.  This is also the “gal friend” of the males.  They can talk sports, fashion, music, movies and a friendship quickly forms.  Many confuse this with a flirtation, while really it is a true friendship.  They can provide a very vivid stripe of color in the tapestry of our lives.


The new friend is the one who you’re drawn too but you can’t quite trust and bring into your confidence yet.  They are fun and interesting and “new”!!  For those who have issues with trust, it may take a while before you know you can befriend them or not, but in the mean time they are great to hang out with.


The BFF friend is the one person who knows every little thing about you, knows ALL your secrets, keeps ALL your secrets and loves you anwayws.  You may not see this person every day, but you know that no matter what that person is there for you.  These BFF’s know that what they have is special, as not everyone has one, but they also know it’s something to be treasured, protected and honored.  These friends have more then one string, more then one thread, more then one color in the tapestry of our lives.  They are essential for our survival. 


Regardless of the stripe, color, thread or string these people bring to your lives, remember to respect and honor their place in your lives because without friends, our lives truly would be destitute and lonely!!!