Friday, October 21, 2011

Brings Tears to my Eyes....

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Constantly my blogs are something about relationships and the many complexities that affect them in some way or another (whether bad or good!) and today will be no different, I'm afraid.  So now's your chance to run, if you need to! 

What has prompted me to write this morning is the birth of a baby.  Some friends of ours had their first grandbaby.  Their oldest son and his wife delivered a beautiful baby boy.  Their celebration is huge!  But there is also some sadness in the midst of it all, because the grandparents are here in NC and the new baby and parents live in Hawaii.  It will be another week before they are able to travel out to visit their first grandchild - the firstborn of their oldest son.  

My own son is engaged to a very sweet girl.  We absolutely fell madly in love with her as soon as we met her.  As a woman, I know my desire to always stay within a safe distance to my own Mother... and I only live about 2 1/2 - 3 hours from her (which until I was 30 I never lived more than 30 minutes from her!)  But now that one of my kids is getting ready to get married, my heart aches thinking of how far he will likely always live from me.  Thinking that everyone else will meet my grandchildren first when they are born one day, and see them more than I'll ever be able hurts me more than I could ever express.  Honestly, it brings tears  to my eyes (and an occasional sob) just thinking about it!  I didn't think about this part when I had my children... when they were handed to me as newborns.  It never crossed my mind that one day they would grow up and not be right with me any longer.  

Once again, I think of Josh and Nicole who just had their new son.  And I think of how they are feeling.  And for them I can only feel elated.  I remember that moment of meeting my newborn baby whom I had waited so many months for (in a way it felt like years with the first one, because I had dreamed of having my first child since I was a child myself!)  And I pray that they soak up these feelings.  That they write them down and remember them for the rest of their lives.  On a bad day they can read the words and remember how awesome God is - that He gives us a love for our children that is so special we cannot even find words to describe it adequately.  I always think in some way it's a small inkling of God's love for us.  But for us to fully understand how much God loves us would be more powerful than our human minds and bodies could handle.  

It's a day to celebrate for a new baby, new parents, new grandparents, new aunts and uncles.  A new generation begins with the birth of this baby boy.  And I am here with tears in my eyes with the anticipation that one day it will be me feeling what my friend is feeling as the new grandmother... and hoping I'm strong enough to be who I'm supposed to be at that time.  

I hope you have a GREAT weekend!! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Military Man's Promise

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The following is something my future daughter-in-law sent to my son.  They are engaged to be married in October of 2012.  My son has been in the US Navy for 5+ years now, and is currently stationed 8-10 hours away from his fiancee, and 11-12 hours from his home here in NC.  There aren't words to express how much this Mom's heart aches from missing him -- but I raised him to be independent, to do his best, and to give back.  And I could not be prouder of the man he has grown up to be.  I served as a military wife for 4 years, and I can tell you there is a lot of sacrifice expected as a military spouse.  The words "I'm being deployed and will be gone for x-months" is NEVER easy to hear - but they come with the territory.  But I can also attest that there is no way to explain the extreme patriotism that I felt, and some of that I didn't even realize fully until we were away from the military.  As hard as it was for me to adjust to, it was even harder to adjust to being away from it.  Please read these words, and then I ask you to consider whether you could settle for this kind of promise.  But that is what is required of our soldiers.  And I beg you to find a new level of respect for what they do - and the sacrifice that is required of not only them, but of their families. 
A Military Man's Promise... I cannot promise you every night of my life. I cannot promise to be beside you for every difficult moment, every trial, and every hardship. In truth, I can promise you that I will not be with you for most. I will leave you at inconvenient times. Any special date to us may be tainted with the anniversary of the death of one of my friends. I will ask you to take over whatever life we have built together for months and years at a time. And will then crash back into that life that you have used your sweat, your tears and your heartache to keep together, and try to take it back as I knew it before. I will shut you out at times because it will be the best way for me to hold it together at that moment. I will lie to you. I will tell you I don't know things when I do. I will not always tell you where I am going, when I will be back, or who I am with. I may not call you for weeks and months and you will not be able to call me. You will ask questions that I won't answer. You will know answers to questions that you will hope you never need. I will share things with my brothers that you will never understand. They will know things about me that you never will. They will be a support to me in some things that you cannot be. I will miss birthdays. I will miss anniversaries. I may need time to process things that seem natural to everyone else. It will seem that someone - or something - will always take precedence over you. You may lose me long before you ever thought possible. I will uproot you and ask you to re-establish our family anywhere in the world, in any season, at any time -over and over again. Sand and mud will be tracked through your halls from the boots I am too tired to take off. I will leave you when you beg me not to. I will stand at attention while you cry beside me. I will not turn my head and I will walk away. I will knowingly break your heart. And I will do it again - and again. I cannot promise you all of me. I cannot promise you much of anything. But if you will have me, I can promise that as I march away from you, it is not without sharing your heartache. I promise you that every time I break your heart I will be breaking mine. Every time that I cannot answer you I will be protecting you. Whenever you want to call and you have no number to dial, I will be wanting to do the same. I will protect everything that we have created together with every fiber of my being while you do the same back at home. I will honor you in everything -every moment that we are apart and every moment that I am with you. I will fight harder and push further knowing that I do so for you. And I will carry you with me in everything, until my sandy boots once again sit just inside our door...A military relationship/marriage is one of the strongest and hardest I know!! and this about sums it up!

I am so proud, excited and honored to be doing their engagement photo session this next weekend, as they are traveling to NC just for me to do this for them!  So stay tuned for those beautiful pictures... and feel free to leave them a message as a comment at the end of this blog.  I'll make sure they get them!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Time to Let Go

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 "There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:
 a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
 a time to search and a time to give up,
   a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 a time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
 a time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace."
~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

And there is a time that you have to let go.  That's a very hard statement for me.  Most anyone who has known me for any amount of time would attest that I am a very diligent person.  I do not give up easily on anyone.  In fact, I was usually the girl that got broken up with by my boyfriends even if I knew long beforehand that it was not a good relationship or had no future.  I always had hope that something could change - that I could make things different.  I never wanted to just give up on someone.  Needless to say, my heart has been broken many times in my 4+ decades of life!  But don't go feeling sorry for me, because I don't have regrets for my diligence.  I have learned many valuable lessons.  We all know hindsight is 20/20... and I can say looking back at some things in life that I held on a lot longer than I should have.  Whether it was to a job, a relationship, or even a pair of worn out shoes... I wanted to give each one more day to get better, stronger, improve, a chance to be different.  But I also have fewer regrets of wondering if I let go before there was a chance for something to get better.  This is a day of instant gratification, and people too easily walk away without putting any real effort into things.  They have a bad day at a job, and they quit or start looking for another job.  They have a disagreement with a friend, and the friendship ends.  Saddest of all, some people face those times of complacency that are to be expected in any long-term relationship (especially marriage), and they are out the door - either looking for another relationship before they even get out of the one they're in or just checking out altogether.  There is something to be said for sticking in there - fighting for something or someone. BUT then there is a time that you have to finally realize that it's time to let go.  And there are times that I do look back and see that I caused some extra damage (either to myself or those around me...including my children) because I was too persistent to hang on rather than let go of something that needed to be gone.

My Mom asked me one time when I was really being hurt by someone "What will it take for you to finally walk away?" and my response was, "When I know that it's the best choice to make all the way around, and that I will not have regrets on my side."  So what does that look like?  It's when I finally feel someone has crossed boundaries to a point that the damage is irreparable.  But an even quicker way for me to reach that point is for it to be adversely affecting someone else that I love.  Namely, my children.  (My blog before this one was about making a difference in someone's life... especially a child's life - and if you haven't read it, I'd love for you to go back and read it. )   Sometimes there should be no greater reason to actually let go of something (or someone) than the proof before you that it is damaging the life of a child to have that person around - and especially when it is your own child.  Yes - it will hurt to let go.  But it won't hurt as much, or as long, as having them around to continue to hurt you and to bring hurt on someone who deserves so much more.  

This morning I was in my car, and I was thinking about what I had written in this blog when Steven Curtis Chapman's song came on the radio.  The first verse and the chorus really struck me, almost as they did when the song first came out:

"She spins and she sways
To whatever song plays
Without a care in the world
And I'm sitting here wearing
The weight of the world on my shoulders

It's been a long day
And there's still work to do
She's pulling at me
Saying "Dad, I need you

There's a ball at the castle
And I've been invited
And I need to practice my dancing
Oh, please, Daddy, please?"

So I will dance with Cinderella
While she is here in my arms
'Cause I know something the prince never knew
Oh, I will dance with Cinderella
I don't want to miss even one song
'Cause all too soon the clock will strike midnight
And she'll be gone..."

I saw Steven Curtis Chapman perform this song just a few months after his little girl was killed in a tragic accident... and his heart was so clearly broken.  But he had learned before it was too late to let go of things he had to let go of and take care of what was precious.  That's a lesson I hope I've learned... and one I wish I could share with others so they don't find out too late. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Making a Difference....

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"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs... Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails." ~1 Corinthians 13:4-8
This picture holds a very sweet story.  We were visiting Lynn and Roger so they could meet B on Saturday.  Roger picked up B, and was singing to her as he was slow dancing with her.  At first she had a rather puzzled look on her face, but quickly that changed to almost a look of enchantment.  He continued to sing and dance (something slow and very worthy of Sinatra) as she gazed adoringly at him.  When he finished singing and stopped dancing it was quiet... and then in the quietest little voice, B said "yay" and clapped ever so sweetly.  My heart melted, and in my mind I thought "I hope she always knows that she is a princess - and that she always insists on being treated as such!" 

Almost every young girl dreams of her "knight in shining armor" at some time growing up.  But every child is born with a need to feel loved, safe and special.  My life has not been perfect... there have been disappointments and a multitude of hurts along the way.  More importantly, though, there have been those people who have loved me - and made sure that I always felt that love.  That is who I want to be for others when God puts them into my life.  Raising my own children, who are now all in their 20's, it was always my desire to make sure that no matter what they did (or didn't do) that they were assured my love for them was unconditional.  When they made mistakes (sometimes big ones!) the first thing I would always remind them is that nothing they could ever do could make me love them less.  And even now that they are grown, I remind them often that I may get upset or angry or disappointed - but my love for them will never end.  

Growing up is a very hard thing to do.  In the most perfect of situations, it is tough.  But some kids don't get anything near a perfect situation to grow up in.  That stacks a lot against them early on.  Sadly, it's almost accepted by society for people (parents - adults) to make excuses for their own mistakes and blame them on their own parents, upbringing or anything that keeps them from having to take responsibility for their own choices and actions. That is something so hard to understand.  

My life often crosses those families where children are stuck in some awful situations.  Mom's leaving, Dad's leaving, SOMEONE not doing their job as a parent.  And the kids are hurt, without words to even know how to express what they are feeling.  Without knowing how to ask for it, they are starved for love, attention and assurance.  My hearts desire is that I would be whatever I could be to help someone else.  I know what it feels like to be hurt - to be disappointed - to be afraid to trust.  But I also know that is it possible to choose not to repeat the behavior that caused those feelings in me.  It's not an easy road - but it is possible.  

Isn't he the most adorable little guy?  He is crazy about Spider-Man, so we'll just refer to him as Spidey -- I think it's his biggest hero.  Except for his Poppi.... 

This little girl tore my heart out... she was crying and hurt.  Here T is getting a kiss from her Grammy.  

Life can be really tough, and there are things that go on in the grown-up world that should just never touch a child's life.  Too much is often brought into their lives at such young ages. Somewhere it is forgotten that children learn from what they see patterned before them - they learn trust, respect, honor, honestly, and so many other important lessons.  On the other hand, if they live with the opposite, that it what is instilled in them instead. When bad things go on in the grown-up world around them, the reality is that the work needs to be done to reassure them they are loved no matter what.  They need to be reminded that they are not responsible for the selfish decisions of someone who is supposed to put them first in life, even though they are having to pay the penalty for those choices.  Most of all, they need to know that they can be better than those bad decisions.  They don't have to grow up and use that hurt as excuse to repeat them in their own grown-up lives.  

Here's my little babygirl again... she's with Roger and Spidey.  Whenever music would play she would jump up and dance.  I love to see the happiness in her face - and know that she KNOWS she is loved so very much.

We all touch someone's life in some way.  Who is it for you?  If it is a child, are you giving them hope for a future that includes respect, honesty, unconditional love, safety & security?  And if you are thinking "you have no clue how much hurt I had in my own childhood" then what I would respond is this: then you should want to make sure you instill something different to a child than what left you hurt and possibly damaged in some way.  Choose to be better - and not to repeat what is destructive.  Make a difference in someone's life.  I do believe you will be rewarded for it.

I tell my kids all the time "Your life is always a testimony... you choose whether it is a good one or a bad one."  And that is how I try to live each day of my own life.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's a FREE Organic Bloom mini-frame!! PLUS a surprise for the winner!

Photography by DonnaKay: Organic Bloom...YOU can win a FREE ornament mini-frame?

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I posted this blog a few days ago - a giveaway that takes just a couple of minutes to enter with a great possibility of winning a FREE Organics Bloom mini-frame (holds a 3x3) -- and have very little response. So, I'm moving the date up to October 16 - that will be the date that a winner is chosen.

So ENTER!! I've only had a few enter so far - so chances of winning are looking great right now!!

I've sweetened the deal just a bit... but that part is a surprise! -- If you want to enter (AND THIS IS A GIVEAWAY THAT WOULD MAKE ANY FAN HAPPY -- CLIENTS, FRIENDS OR OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS) then click on the Title above, which is a link to the Giveaway blog with instructions and Enter today!

Thanks!! Have a GREAT day!!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Those "faux pas" moments in life....

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Quickly - think of your most embarrassing moment.  What is the first thought that comes to your mind?  Please tell me that we all have those moments in our lives where we want to climb under the nearest chair or dig a hole to hide in, right?  I'm sure if my kids could share with you they would tell you things that would make you fall over with laughter.  No doubt about it, I'm a faux pas waiting to happen!  As a younger person (I don't say "child" because I'm sure I had a tough time with this in my 20's too) I would often feel like no one would ever forget my embarrassing moment, or that I would just die from the embarrassment....but as I've matured (let's face it, I'm passing the mid-40 mark very soon!) one of the best lessons I've learned is to just laugh at myself.  Truthfully I was probably an embarrassment to my parents long before I learned to be embarrassed for myself!  When I was very young my parents had company over for dinner one evening... the pastor and his wife.  Sometime before or after dinner (that part I don't remember) I took it upon myself to show them my skills as a frog and proceeded to stoop down and start leaping like a frog... but better, it came with sound effects.  Leap... ribbit....leap....ribbit... on and on.  Seriously... on and on.  I simply would not stop!  I can only imagine my parents wanted to stuff me in a hole somewhere!  But no problem... it was only the beginning of the embarrassing moments I would endure.  When I was around 14 or 15 my family was on vacation at Myrtle Beach.  We were staying in a 2-story rented beach house.  We had the upper level - and there was another family on the lower level.  There was a girl about my age in the lower level and she and I became friends right away (we even remained pen pals for a year or two after that)... but the part that sticks in my head the most was her uncle.  He was way too old for me, but boy, did I have a crush on him!  My friend and I would take numerous walks on the beach every day, and of course if her uncle came out I would suggest that we walk with him (lucky guy - you KNOW he really wanted to be at the beach with two 14/15-yr-olds tagging along everywhere!)  Well, this one particular afternoon we took a walk with him down to the pier and then out to the end of the pier.  We were walking and he was talking and I was hanging on his every word, staring into his eyes with my complete attention... and then BAM - I was laying straight across the top of a trash can!  Just as straight as a board laying across that trash can!  I can remember wishing that the earth would open and swallow me up - but oh, NO - he was there saying "are you ok... let me help you!" and my friend was laughing herself silly!  After that my "crush" came to an end because I felt like such an idiot around him.  Ugh... sadly that was only the beginning of the embarrassing situations I would come upon in life.   Life is full of so many of these situations.  Embarrassments, hurts, excitements, heart-breaks, broken dreams...but they are exactly that - moments.  They pass.  And life may be different after some of those moments...but most often we get to choose whether we will grow from the experience and become stronger, or whether we will let it tear us down.  It's an important lesson to learn that we really don't want a moment to define us... but it's also important to remember that a bad choice in a moment can have a consequence that can last a lifetime or change your life forever.  That's much worse than an embarrassing moment.  

Now that I'm into the mature-40's I really can't tell you that I have fewer embarrassing moments than I did when I was younger.  Sometimes they are just a bit more embarrassing.  Here's my last "share" and then I'd love to hear about some of your embarrassing moments!   

.....A few years ago we had to have some major work done in our house.  At that time two of my kids were still living at home.  I believe my daughter may have been a Senior in high school - so my middle son would have been in his first year of college.  Texting was still a newer thing for me, but it was a great way to stay in touch with the kids, so I was willing to learn anything if it kept me closer to them.  One night during all of this work going on in our house I was getting ready for bed and it was really late - so I texted my son (who was still up) and said "honey, you need to get to bed.  I love you!" (something thereabouts) and then I went to bed.  The next morning I had a text from the guy who was doing some work in my kitchen "I think this was meant for someone else" and then I saw that I had sent HIM that text message - NOT my son!!  What can I say??  I still think his wife doesn't care much for me - and I'm still too embarrassed to say "oh my goodness - I was NOT telling your husband I loved him!!"  

Ok -- so now YOU share with me!!  Come on.... I'm NOT the only one who has these faux pas "moments"!!   

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays...

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Life is pretty doggone tough sometimes.  I'm sure I can't be the only one who feels that way.  There are those wonderful periods in life where you are going along and everything seems to just be working out great... you can practically hear birds singing when you wake up and you want to sing "Zippity-doo-dah" as you go about your day.  Okay... so maybe that's taking it a bit far...but you've got the idea of what I'm talking about, don't you? But lets be serious here - do those times come along that often for you in your life?  Because if so, I'm going to be very depressed that I MUST be doing a lot wrong -- because more often than not my life seems to be running into roadblocks, hazard signs, detours and all of those other irritating hindrances that keep it from rolling along smoothly.  For each of us I'm sure those hindrances are different things, whether they are certain people in our lives, marriage, children, job, finances or whatever.  What I'm thinking about right now is not WHAT the hindrances are, but HOW to deal with them - ACCEPT what IS and press on with life moving forward.  Think what you would like, but I KNOW I'm not the only one who struggles this way.  

Last week was a horrible week for me.  It was just like a bad Monday every day of the week, making it a very long week to get through.  There wasn't one thing I could point at and say "if this would change then things would be better."  Rather, it was one of those weeks where things that hadn't bothered me for a long time were suddenly right there in the present - and they along with just the tough things we deal with in life got together and decided to give me a party like no other.  MY way of joining the party was to want to hibernate away from the world, and when I did finally come out it was to sit with a dear friend, pour my heart out and cry pitifully.  And there are not words - nor any amount of money - to tell you what being able to do that was worth to me.  

Often I will associate what's going on around me with a song (of course, it's usually a song from the past!) and today it was the Carpenters "Rainy Days and Mondays"... and honestly it kind of made me laugh.  I was just glad to look back on the last week, see how it hadn't been the greatest but here I am still standing - still pressing forward.  Guess God has given me more strength than I realize.  

Here I am blogging again on this Monday.  It is dreary outside and I've decided I'll choose the song I want for the remainder of this day.  So I'm making a choice to press on.  To remember that God has given me so many blessings in my life.  Sometimes I am surprised just WHO rises up and proves to be a true friend.  I am thankful to those people for who they are in my life.  And here are the words from the song I will go through the remainder of this Monday with....

When the valley is deep
When the mountain is steep
When the body is weary
When we stumble and fall
When the choices are hard

When we're battered and scarred
When we've spent our resources
When we've given our all

In Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on
 ~"Press On" by Selah
I do hope you've had a good Monday...and that you have a great week.  And if you HAVEN'T had the day you would have liked, make tomorrow better.  Reach out and do something for someone else - even if it is a kind word of encouragement.  It will surely return some sunshine into your own life. 
"Continue to wait in hope...although the promise may linger, it will never come too late." C. Spurgeon {Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed. Uphold me, and I will be delivered. ~Ps. 119:116-117}

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Within a picture lies a million emotions

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It's amazing how quickly time passes.  I'm sure I am not the only one who has those moments where I stop for some reason and look around and realize how much has changed in the time that's gone by.  This weekend in my home we've been reorganizing.  I'm restructuring some of the places in my home that are dedicated to my photography business - moving my office into another room, setting up a viewing and meeting area to have for clients.  In this process there has been much cleaning out and throwing out... weeding through choosing whether certain things make the cut and get to stay with me or leave to Goodwill, someone I know that could use it or even the trash.  One of the biggest things getting cleaned out is the movie area -- finding a new area to store DVD's and deciding what to do with VHS (keep - or get rid of.)  In all of this cleaning and rearranging shelves (movies, books, etc) we found some old VHS tapes.  Sat down to see what was on one and it was my boys in Christmas of 89 and Feb 90 (Tyler's 1st birthday) - and I was pregnant w Chelsea (only in the Christmas video I didn't know that yet!).  Technology wasn't too awesome back then, but it was good enough that it recorded this time in my life -- this very important time in my life!!  I can't stop crying - all of the memories (GOOD ONES!) that flood back just hearing their voices -- and seeing my Grandmother and hearing her voice!!  It's amazing!  My Grandmother was killed in a car accident back in 2002, and there has remained an emptiness in me that she filled since up to that time.  Today, for just a few minutes, I was able to see her and hear her voice, and that emptiness felt full...  My oldest son is engaged to be married in a year, and my other two kids are in their 20's - but today I was able to look at him when he was 2 1/2 - hear his little voice and see how much he really never changed... he's always been the same little boy who has just grown up.  And my middle son... he's 10-mos-old in the first part of the video, ball-headed and gorgeous...always clinging to me, in my lap, not more than a few inches from me.  My little "bug"... oh, my goodness.  My heart is so tender at this moment.  There are not words to express how much it means to know that a picture can produce so much emotion.  And then I remember I am SO blessed to be able to take a photo for someone - and give them the ability to have this same emotion one day.  Never underestimate the power of recording memories. 

I hope you are having a wonderful Sunday!