For My Mom~Happy Birthday

Exodus 20:12  New International Version (NIV)
12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Today I am choosing to celebrate my most favorite teacher of all time. She helped to shape and mold me into the woman I am today. Without her in my life and showing me the ropes of life, teaching me about the ups and downs a woman will face throughout her life; understanding the heartaches and pains a mother goes through; I would not be the person I am.

This woman has given selflessly to more than just me. She has mothered many children as her own, many that have adopted her as a second mom, always willing to listen and just be there. No answers for the many problems or challenges that any of us have faced, but offering two simple suggestions:

  1.  Always Be Kind – you never know what others are going through.
  2.  Give it to God – and leave it there. Don’t pick it back up and then give it back. Give your cares and fears and worries to God. Pray and wait for His answer. And while you are praying, I will pray too.

She is always available to listen, no matter how many miles separate us. She taught me how to be self-sufficient and independent. She taught me tact, which wasn’t easy since I have always been the type of person to speak my mind, sometime’s without a filter in place. She taught me anger has a place, but not in the form of raised voices and slamming doors. That anger can be justified if you can use it wisely to learn from or teach with. But to be angry and thoughtless, only causes pain and nothing good or helpful can come from that.

She has taught me to always listen, look at the other’s point of view before speaking and show grace to others. She exemplifies that grace daily. She is the most non-judgemental person I have ever met. She reminded me when my babies were young to hold them, rock them, love them. When they cry, pick them up. They need that sense of security. It will not spoil them. It will help them learn what love feels like. To be loved by another human being is the greatest gift of all, even through tears.

This woman has my heart. She has had my heart since I was in her womb. This woman is my mother. Today is her birthday. I love her with so much love there are not enough words to convey what she means to me and not enough time to share it with you.

I have been very fortunate that I grew up with a mom that chose love over hate. A mother that chose to be and live the way she did regardless of her circumstances before she was a wife and mother. (She had a very hard and abusive childhood the first 8/9 years of her life and at age 10 she was adopted and well cared for and loved and learned what love should be.) She chose to be the parent that would teach and model for her children what she missed out on in her early years. She chose not to let the abuse/neglect she endured to go on with her.

Ours was the home where neighborhood friends came, and she treated them just as she treated her own children. Life wasn’t a bed of roses all the time. There was discipline. There were chores. There were consequences but always seasoned with grace and kindness. Life lessons learned early that have carried my siblings and me all our lives.

She has always been my greatest confidant and as I became an adult and a wife and mother, grandmother, the greatest friend I have. We don’t always see eye to eye but she is always available to chat no matter how far away she lives.

I wish we lived closer than 975 miles from one another, but we don’t. I am thankful for wi-fi and internet, 4G phone services, video conferencing and all the technology that keeps us close when we cannot be together face to face.

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Mom and I visiting daddy on his birthday July 2018

Mom, today I hope that as you celebrate the 75 years you have been on this earth that you will know without a doubt that my love for you grows every day more and more. I long for the day when I can be half the woman you are. There are not enough ways that I can express how much you mean to me and how I wish we could be together to celebrate your special day. I know you will be with friends and I know you know you are loved so very much. I am so very thankful that God blessed me with you as my mom! I am hugging you from afar until the day we can be with one another face to face and I can wrap my arms around you and hug you back.  Happy Birthday, Mom~I Love You!!!

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~~right now~wherever you are!

Jesus can turn any mess into a message and any test into a testimony! #HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings to all~Carlene

 

 

 

 

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Family Time

This past week, we loaded up our Yukon and drove 989 miles in searing heat with no air, except for the wind whipping around in the truck with our windows down. As humid and hot as it was, and all the perspiring going on, we should have melted the pounds away.

When you travel with a child that has special needs and an adult with respiratory problems, you feel like you’re packing the entire house for a weekly excursion. Loading the truck with suitcases, a medicine bag for several people, mobility devices and a bag of toys/books to keep everyone satisfied….checking lists off twice, it’is not as easy as it sounds. It takes almost an hour to load everything and then you pray you didn’t forget anything.

Our family, except for our daughter and fiancee, secured in our seatbelts and car seats made the normal 15-18 hour trip in 21 hours. Longest 21 hours of my life so far.

I love the state of Florida and someday when I’m old and gray, I hope we can call Florida home again. Ok, I’m old and I do have some gray strands peeking through, but Tyson is doing so well in Ohio and is all set up with his therapists and specialists that moving is very daunting. I’m not sure I could talk his mom into leaving her friends in Ohio and I know I couldn’t handle being too far away from him or our other grandchildren.

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Tyson loved the pool and we tried to go every day while there. At first, he was hesitant, but once in, getting him out was almost impossible. His Uncle Mike made it fun, taught him to close his eyes and hold his nose to go under the water. He loved jumping from the steps with his swim vest on and spinning in the water. This was a great way to expend his energy before our nightly dinners and almost always ensured he would drift off to dreamland.

When your only living parent lives almost a thousand miles away, you cherish the time you have and if you are even a little bit emotional like me, find it hard to say goodbye. I kept my tears inside and thought about how blessed I am to still have our mother here and so very thankful to have spent the 7 days with her. Great memories were made and all of her neighbors doted and loved on Ty. Providing him with toys to use while there and yummy snacks any toddler would love.

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We visited a great Thai rolled ice cream shop in downtown St. Petersburg called Ice Burg. We watched as they made the specialty treats. It was worth the drive downtown just to try it out! Very filling for low prices.

We ventured to a fenced in play area near Gulfport beach in Pinellas County and Ty was able to access a small beach area with sand and shells. For the past few months all he has talked about was going to the beach and building sand castles but as it turned out, that was the only beach he would visit. He didn’t want anymore to do with beaches only the pool. Maybe one day he will relish the sand and surf.

You never realize how much you miss your mom’s home cooking until you are eating it. We ate out twice while there..the rest of the time was savoring the smells wafting in the air as she prepared meals. My mom is an amazing chef!

As we embark on the road trip home, I’m so very thankful to Jesus for keeping us safe. We’ve been on the road for over 8 hours now and thankful my husband and sweetheart is good at driving and navigation; he used to drive for a living.

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The biggest takeaway from this post. Enjoy the time you have with your family. Love one another, laugh and cherish each moment you are blessed to have.

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Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.
Romans 12:9 NLT

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~right now wherever you are!

Blessings~Carlene

#HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessed to be a Mom

Proverbs 6:20-23 The Message (MSG)

20-23 Good friend, follow your father’s good advice;
don’t wander off from your mother’s teachings.
Wrap yourself in them from head to foot;
wear them like a scarf around your neck.
Wherever you walk, they’ll guide you;
whenever you rest, they’ll guard you;
when you wake up, they’ll tell you what’s next.
For sound advice is a beacon,
good teaching is a light,
moral discipline is a life path.

 

Motherhood does not come with a manual, but a plethora of advice from those who have been in the trenches of raising children.  Some advice is not only helpful but lifesaving in moments of chaos and distress. Much of the advice is not helpful because it applies to certain children with special circumstances.  The best advice I ever received was when your child is happy or sad, mad or hurting, love them. Don’t be afraid that rocking them to sleep will spoil them. Children cannot begin to understand what love is if they don’t see it in their own lives. They can learn, but oh to be able to experience it first hand is so much better than being taught what love looks like.

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This beautiful woman is my mother.

My children, who are adults now, used to exasperate me when it came to school projects. I am sure many reading this can relate. They are given an assignment, in which a visual presentation must take place, along with a report or speech. Many times this counts for a large portion of their grade. Educators know that in order for them to complete these projects, they are given ample time to accomplish them. Several weeks time, usually. However, my children would always wait until the very last-minute to spring these projects on me ~ usually one to two days before they were due!  And as they feverishly rushed to finish them, I would comment on how lucky they were to live in this day and age.

“Google” in my day meant making a trip to the library, searching the card catalog for reference materials and books to read and research. We didn’t have the luxury of the internet or typewriters/word processors that had self correction included. If we made a mistake, we had to start over. Long before “white out” was invented or “correction tape” was available. And many times you could tell by the details, the projects were rushed. Long nights of gluing and pasting pictures cut out of magazines or printed materials, with the hopes they would pass their class. Loving them also meant that if they didn’t complete it to the teacher’s satisfaction, it was on them. Learning to realize that there was a solution always in front of them, using their time wisely and not waiting.

It would have been easy for me to do their homework, but they wouldn’t have learned anything by doing that. Life is full of lessons.  Working on school projects and homework helps to prepare them for the real world with a real job and performing many tasks that may seem mundane, but so important.

I wish I would have taught them about why a budget is so very important. If they had money to spend, as a child, the thought of saving it was lost on them until they saw something they wanted and didn’t have the funds to get it and I was a “mean” mom. If they didn’t need it, chances are they weren’t getting it without working for it. I believe it’s important for children to understand that not everything in life is free. Earning funds to pay for something teaches the value of hard work and feeling accomplished in by the success of reaching a goal. Goals are important in life. Creating plans on how to accomplish goals takes perseverance and a willingness to “get it done” attitude. Lofty goals can be accomplished, but you have to be willing to put the work in to get to where you want to be. And there is nothing that can stop you, except the limits you place on yourself.  There is still a sign, hanging in our home that reads “Just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, it means you should just try harder.”  I firmly believe that. I also believe that “giving up is not an option”. Something my parents taught me from a young age.

Mother's Poem

I have tried my best to model love and kindness to my children. To show them that even though they may not have everything they want, they have everything they need. To teach them that they need to exhibit kindness to others and stand up for the downtrodden. Be a friend, offer a hand up, listen, don’t judge someone by their appearance or circumstance. Be thankful for all you have. And if you want more than you have, do what you need to do to make it a reality.

I never had to wonder if my mom loved me. I was lucky. I am still blessed. I made many choices my mother did not agree with and I know many times she was disappointed, but never once did I have to wonder if she loved me. Never. I pray that my children will always be able to say that with confidence and mean it.

I am not blind to the fact that there are many people in this world that did not have a mother that loved unconditionally or even cared what was happening in their lives. And that breaks my heart. My response to those who haven’t had a  life where they had a mom or had a mother that loved them in spite of their faults, remember this no matter the type of parent she was-she loved you enough to give you life. And I imagine that may seem a cliché thing to say, but it is a fact. If you are reading this, then at some point, a woman decided you were worth it. Even if you were given up at birth, you were worth the love of being allowed to be born. Jesus will always love you, even when you feel unworthy of love.

I also think of the women that don’t have children, the ones that would give anything to have a child, to hear the words “I love you mommy.” And, I don’t know why God allows some women to have children that aren’t wanted and those who want them, for whatever reason, can’t conceive. But know this, there are many motherless children in the world that need your love. If you have a deep need to be a mom, and can’t do it naturally, please look into adopting or fostering a child. God will always make a way.

If you have played a role in a child’s life, through mentoring, teaching and making them feel special, regardless if you are their mom or not, you have shown love.

It is my prayer that if you are mother that you have a very blessed Mother’s Day this weekend. If you have lost a child, please accept my condolences. I too have a child in Heaven and I think about her every single day. One day we will be reunited.

May you know how much Jesus Loves You~every single moment of every day!

#HopeAlwaysHaveFaith

Blessings~Carlene

 

 

 

 

Love Is A Choice

My mother’s life started out rocky, but she learned that love is a choice. My grandparents adopted my mother at the age of 10. They chose to love her and I am so thankful they did.

My mom had her own family, 2 sisters, 1 half-sister and 2 half- brothers, and she was the oldest of them all. Their life was hard and very tumultuous and scary. The details are hers to share with those she chooses. It was not the type of life anyone would want a loved one to be in, but it was her life. And she was the luckiest of all her siblings because although she did not grow up with her siblings and her mom and stepfather, she did grow up in a home of love, laughter, and joy.

She grew up in a home with parents that loved and honored the Lord. She learned about Jesus and forgiveness and she learned about being loved. She learned that life is full of choices and every choice has a consequence. She learned that she was free to make mistakes and with mistakes came lessons that would guide her along the way in her life.

She often wondered about her sisters and brothers and what happened to them and even her mother. She was able to connect with her siblings later in life and build lasting relationships. As I said she was the lucky one. My heart breaks for my aunts and uncles and the hardships they endured, and I continue to love them as if they have always been a part of my life. They are family.

Fast forward 10 years to my parents tying the knot with their own dreams of having a home and starting a family. My parents were blessed with four children. Myself, a sister two years later, another sister four years later and just when they thought they were done with diapers, my brother appeared 8 years later. He was definitely a surprise.

The story could stop there.  It could be they had four children and lived happily ever after. Well, they did have a great life. They remained married and in love with one another until my father passed in 2015-51 years with each other.  That fact alone would be enough to inspire you.

My mother is more than a daughter, sister, mother, wife, grandmother or aunt. She taught me what selfless love is all about. My sister, born two years after me has a hearing impairment.  There were no support groups or local organizations to reach out to for a special needs child. She helped to form a local group for parents of deaf children. She took my sister to weekly speech therapy appointments, while still raising 3 other children and running a home, plus being a volunteer fire dispatcher (before 911 existed) and being the chief cook, laundress, bottle washer, and confidante.

As we became older, she shuttled all of us to our various extracurricular activities, made sure we had hot meals and lots of love.  And she instilled in us a kindness and compassion for others that came from her life as a child. To love others is a choice. A family is family and family is first. It doesn’t matter if you have been thick as thieves with your cousins all your life or if you just laid eyes on them as a teenager. The love is the same.

She worked for child service agencies to help protect children from the horrors of the world because she understood that better than anyone what is was like to be hungry, hurting and alone.

She chose to not live as a victim. She chose to live a life of love and she shows that love every day to her friends, family, and total strangers. She embodies the heart of Jesus. She shows grace in all situations. She prays daily and gives her worries and concerns to the Lord. She is my hero because her heart always has room for compassion and kindness like I have never seen.

She has mended many of my broken heart moments, she has given advice that has carried me far in my life and although there have been many times, that I have hurt her heart and been less than stellar as a daughter, she hasn’t loved me any less.

She is the rock in our family.  She is the glue that keeps us all connected when we lose touch with one another. The sad part is she lives thousands of miles from all of us, but she is only a text, video chat or call away. It’s not the same as being with her in person, but it’s the next best thing.

I only pray that someday, I can be half the mother she has been to me and my siblings. I strive daily. She isn’t just my mom, she is my hero.

Mom, I just want to thank you so much for choosing love. Thank you for choosing to love others unconditionally and to always show grace under pressure. Your forgiving heart and spirit have taught me more than I could ever express. I am very honored that God chose you to be my mother. I love you so very much! Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

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Our Mom