Sunday, November 12, 2017

"Rising"


"Rising"

With your words, you tried to kill me, and I lay hurt and wounded for some time.
I had to fight and claw my way back, until strength once again became mine.

You hid in cover behind another; you refused to confront me face to face.
Yet I'm supposed to keep quiet and be sure to stay in my 'proper place.'

The battle lines have been drawn, and you're the one holding the pen.
I will take the high road, yet that doesn't mean that you win.

Everything said in the dark will eventually come to light.
Your words will turn on you; you will lose this fight.

I know who I am, and I do not care what you think.
I am rising now, and I will watch you sink.







Monday, November 6, 2017

When You're Judged as Not "Christian" Enough


"Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure
will be measured out to you.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the
wooden beam in your own eye?
You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see
clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye." -- Matthew 7: 1-5
There appears to be a movement, and I'm on the outskirts. It's not that I want to be a part of this group, anyway. I don't care to sit in judgment of others; I'd rather love them and try to understand their views, even when I don't agree with them. But now this "I'm better than you because I don't do (fill in the blank here) or I don't participate in this thing or I don't allow my kids to do that thing" movement has affected me personally because I have been openly criticized for choosing to do certain things and for allowing my kids to do certain things. Both my parenting and my Christianity have been called into question. And that, my friends, is not okay.

I have to wonder if these same people spend as much time praying for me about my battle with major depressive disorder and suicidal ideation and my challenges in being a mother to a child who is severely mentally insufficient and legally blind as they do in judging me for perceived "sins" in my life. They certainly haven't reached out to offer me any sort of tangible help or encouragement. I recall that Jesus said those who follow Him would be known by their love. I'm not really feeling the love here.

Furthermore, as a person with major depressive disorder and suicidal ideation, life is a balancing act. All it takes to knock me off balance is one push. When people say hurtful things about me, ostracize me, look down their noses at me, or judge me as not quite holy enough, it can trigger a catastrophic episode. All the progress I've made can come to a halt and then spiral and crash back down to rock bottom. This is what happened to me last night as a result of things that people said about me. I was right back in the darkness and irrationality that put me in the psychiatric section of the hospital this past January. I was in the kitchen again, and I had a plan. My husband had to stop me and calm me down. It was scary, and it was ugly. I eventually settled down, though, because I did not want to go back to the hospital. But, see, words hurt. Being judged crushes a person. This is true for all people, too, not just for those of us who are diagnosed with some type of mental illness. Plus, it's not your place to tell someone that he/she shouldn't celebrate a certain holiday or dance or have one glass of wine once a month.

I'm writing this post to make you aware of the damage you can do when you speak critically of others. Your words can have far-reaching consequences that you might not intend for them to have. So, think before you speak. If it's not edifying, then don't say it. If you're not saying it directly to the person you're discussing, then don't say it. Talking behind someone's back is cowardly, and it's also gossip - even if you preface it by saying "Please pray for...negative...judgemental statement...criticizing..." Show love. Extend mercy. Overflow with grace. Live like Jesus.

"Nobody knows what we’re for only what we’re against when we judge the wounded" -- Casting Crowns



Sunday, October 29, 2017

Poe Party

I'd been missing the early days of our homeschooling years, when my children were "little," and school was fun. I longed for the excitement of activities we all looked forward to doing and the memory-making times of the past. Well, thankfully, I discovered that homeschooling high school can also be fun! I want to give a huge thank you and a shoutout to fellow homeschool high school blogger, Nerdy Little Birdie, for inspiring me. She shared a wonderful idea for a poetry party, and it sparked a fire in me. So, I took that desire and combined it with my love for Edgar Allan Poe. We studied his life and poetry throughout the month of October, and then we culminated our studies by having a Poe Party. Here are some of the highlights I'd like to share with you.

I printed out quotes, framed them, and placed them in various places in the dining room. I purchased the candleholders and raven on the pumpkin decor from Target.

We decorated coffee mugs with black Sharpies and then baked them in the oven to set the designs. Here you see the famous 'Nevermore' quote from Poe's well-known poem "The Raven."

And here, obviously, is a raven.

Another raven.

'Nevermore'

The 11th grader painted this to represent the last stanza of Poe's poem "Annabel Lee."

The 9th grader sketched this and then colored only the couple to convey artistically the meaning of the second stanza of "Annabel Lee."

We had a delicious apple crisp dessert while we took turns reading and discussing quotes of Poe's.

We wore these "masques" so we could be like the revelers in "The Masque of the Red Death." Well, not EXACTLY like them. We're still alive, thankfully!

We had a simple dinner: veggie nuggets, vegetables & ranch, & wine-for those 21 and over only!

More decor on the piano.

Vegetables and ranch for the party.

Cheese & crackers for an appetizer.

Tabletop decor - all purchased at Target.

More decor, printed by me or purchased at Target.

Finally, a coffee mug with the first stanza of "The Raven" printed on it.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A Bitter Truth


Most of us eventually reach a certain place that will never allow us to go back to the place we used to be. We know too much. Our eyes have seen far too many things. Our hearts have been asked to bear more pain than any one human should have to stand. The answers we thought we had suddenly blow up in our faces, leaving us wounded and gasping for air. We look for new answers, but can find none that satisfy.

It's as if a hole has been ripped through our chests. The sorrow is tangible; we feel it in every painful breath we draw and every morning when we open our eyes. We long for our younger days - the days when we thought we knew the answers and could wrap difficult concepts up in neat little packages. But we got older, and the hard things got harder. There is no explanation now. We don't have one. Nobody has one. We're forced into this enigma of pain and cynicism, and there is no escape.

We are locked in this world where so many things don't make sense. This is hard for me to accept, and the older I get, the harder I gets. I can't imagine that it will ever get better. This is where I am now, and I can never go back.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

A Legacy of Love and Faith


This year I've had to bid farewell to the last of my grandparents - my father's mother and father. While I'm sad to see them go, I know that I will one day see them again in my eternal home in Heaven, where they are already rejoicing together. This knowledge brings me both peace and joy.

My grandparents celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary just a few months before my grandfather passed away this past March. How amazing is that? 75 years of love and faithfulness, which included three children, my grandfather's service in World War II, the path to my grandfather's recovery after his stroke, and the countless misadventures that my granddaddy always managed to have. He was stubborn and quite a handful, but my grandmother loved him deeply, just as he loved her. 

Once my grandfather was gone, my grandmother was lost without him. He was truly the light of her life and her best friend. She thrived on the act of taking care of him. It was how she showed love. She served, whether it be through her delicious cooking or through her prayers for her family. She was a strong woman; saying goodbye to her this week was hard, yet we smile at the precious memories that will sustain us as the years go by.

They leave me with big shoes to fill. A marriage like theirs doesn't come along every day. It doesn't just happen. It takes work. It requires endurance. It needs faith. It calls for sacrifice. My grandparents are examples of all of that. Their faith is a testimony to the love and goodness of God. Throughout their lives - in times of joy and sorrow - they clung faithfully to the Father. I am inspired to walk in faith as they did. My grandfather said many things while he was alive, but two things that I will always remember and strive to live in light of are the following:

"If you want to know how much God has blessed me, just go outside and look at the stars at night. That's how many blessings God has given me."

"I know the reason that I made it back safely from the war. It's because Lucille [my grandmother] was on her knees every day praying for me."

This is their legacy. I have been blessed.





Thursday, August 24, 2017

"Fire"


“Fire”

Dark days and even darker nights,
Tired of being in this fight.

Falling, crashing, and hitting the floor,
Yet rising to do battle once more.

From deep within me arises a song,
The darkness will not have victory for long.

I have power that cannot be contained,
I turn a small spark into a fiery flame.

I burn brightly, and I leave my mark,
Unforgettable, I am a shining star.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Beginning of the School Year: 2017-2018


It's hard to believe that another summer break has come and gone, and yet here we are two weeks into our school year already. Things have gone well so far. Other than the usual difficulties that arise as the children and I readjust to waking early, things are going quite smoothly overall. This year is also a bit challenging for me as a homeschooling parent, as I am now teaching two high schoolers. My youngest child is attending our local public elementary school, which has an excellent special needs program, and she has a fabulous teacher.

I am often asked what program I use to teach my children at home. I always laugh when I get asked this question because I am definitely an eclectic homeschooler. I use varying companies and methods with each of my children, depending on individual learning styles and preferences. Some children are visual learners, while others are auditory or kinesthetic learners. Tailoring curriculum to fit my children's needs is one of the advantages that homeschooling offers. For this year's lineup, here is what we are using:

Ninth Grade

Saxon Algebra I
Sonlight Core 100 (U.S. History & Geography)
Literature (Taking at homeschool co-op)
Analytical Grammar
Biology
Greek
Catholic Theology
Physical Education (various sources)
Photography (Taking at homeschool co-op)

Eleventh Grade

Math U See Geometry (She has already completed Algebra 1 and Algebra 2.)
History and Philosophy of the Western World
SAT and ACT Grammar Workbook
Spanish
Chemistry
Literature
Foundations in Personal Finance (Taking at homeschool co-op)
Photography (Taking at homeschool co-op)

Fourth Grade

Attending the local public elementary school; in a special needs classroom.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Beauty Giveaway Winner: Five Fun Fridays Series


Congratulations to Lorna! She is the randomly selected winner of the beauty giveaway. I really enjoyed this blogging series. Be on the lookout for another series soon! Happy weekend to all!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Frozen Silence


“Frozen Silence”

Did you see the leaves
As they fell from the tree?
Did you notice the frost
As it settled and covered the city?

Did you feel the wind
As it blew hard and cold?
Did you hear the secrets whispered
As a new season unfolded?

Did you hear my cry
As I slipped further away?
Did you heed my call
When my thoughts began to decay?

Do you feel secure
In your sheltered little world?
So high above me
Yet one step and you, too, are submerged.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Five Fun Fridays: Week Five (My Secrets)

It's hard to believe we've reached the final Friday of this series, yet here we are! I hope you've had as much fun as I have. This week I promised to dish out some of my secrets. So, without further hesitation, here we go.

1 What time did you get up this morning? I woke up around 7:30 this morning.
2. What is your favorite wine? White - Pinot Grigio; Red - Cabernet Sauvignon
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Guardians of the Galaxy 2
4. What is your favorite TV show? The Walking Dead, The Office, Forensic Files, Once Upon A Time, Impractical Jokers
5. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Washington State
6. What did you have for breakfast today? Smoothie (ketogenic and vegan)
7. What is your favorite cuisine? Mexican
8. What foods do you dislike? Beets
9. Favorite Place to Eat? Local favorites, not the standard chain restaurants
10. Favorite salad dressing? Homemade dairy free ranch
11.What kind of vehicle do you drive? Dodge Caravan (And, yes, I rock that minivan!)
12. What are your favorite clothes? Yoga pants
13. Where would you visit if you had the chance? Ireland
14. Cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full? 1/2 empty
15. Where would you want to retire? Washington State
16. Favorite time of day? Mid-morning
17. Where were you born? Jackson, MS
18. What is your favorite sport to watch? Football.
22. Bird watcher? Yes. Watching birds is peaceful and calming for me.
23. Are you a morning person or a night person? Neither. I don't like waking up too early, and I don't enjoy staying up too late. I like mid-mornings, so I suppose you could call me a mid-morning person.
24. Do you have any pets? Yes, one dog.
25. Do you have any children? Yes, four.
26. What did you want to be when you were little? A singer. (Sadly, my voice had other plans.)
27. What is your best childhood memory? Playing with my younger sister, Christmas, church
28. Are you a cat or dog person? Dog, but cats are cool, too.
29. Are you married? Yes. This December will make 20 years. ❤️
30. Always wear your seat belt? Yes.
31. Secret talent? Yes. I can recite the alphabet backwards.
32. Any pet peeves? Arrogance, racism, sexism, basically people who think they're better than other people, unsolicited advice, platitudes
33. Favorite Pizza Topping? spinach, mushrooms, black olives
34. Favorite Flower? Roses, because I always hope to get some on Valentine's Day.
35. Favorite song? "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen
36. Favorite movie? Grease
37. Celebrity Crush? Jason Momoa, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Henry Cavill, Adam Levine
38. From whom did you get your last email? Etsy
39. Which store would you choose to max out your card? Ulta
40. Do anything spontaneous lately? Yes, every day. I'm keeping some secrets, though, so I'm not answering this one any further.
41. Like your job? Usually.
42. Broccoli? Yes, especially sauteed in coconut oil and seasoned with garlic, pink sea salt, and pepper.
43. What was your favorite vacation? Hawaii
44. Last person you went out to dinner with? My family.
45. What are you listening to right now? The Twilight Movie Soundtrack
46. What is your favorite color? Green
47. How many tattoos do you have? Five
48. How many piercings? Three: both ears, daith
49. Favorite book? To Kill A Mockingbird
50. Coffee drinker? Decaf

So, there you have it! Those are some of my hidden secrets. Is there anything else you'd like to know? Just ask in the comments. I'd also love to see your answers to these questions. Let me know if you decide to do a "Top Secret" post on your blog. Now, on to the final week of the giveaway. It will end one week from today - on Friday, August 4. Want to see what's included in this giveaway? Head on over to the other posts in this series and check out all the wonderful items that are included. For your chance to win, do one or any combination of the following:


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Friday, July 21, 2017

Five Fun Fridays: Week Four (Hobbies)

Welcome to Week Four of the Fun Series! This week I'll be blogging about my hobbies and also things I like to do when I have free time. I'll also be writing about some of the items I enjoy using during these times, and you'll see some of these in the giveaway, too! Let's get started.

First, I like to write. I have notebooks in almost every room of my house. When inspiration strikes, I want to make sure that I immediately write down my thoughts. If not, I'll forget, and it might be lost forever. I even keep a small notebook in my purse. I am NEVER without a notebook. Writing is both enjoyable and cathartic for me. Plus, not only is writing a hobby, it's my job. You can see some of my work here and here.  The written word is powerful, and we can often convey our thoughts better through writing. I'm going to give you that opportunity if you win the giveaway; a beautiful hard-covered notebook is one of the items featured in the set!

I also like to read. Currently, I'm reading books about other people's battles with depression and other mental health issues. Although I am diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and have my own experience, I want to read about this struggle from others' points of view. I consider this to be research and preparation for the novel that I am going to write. I just finished reading Girl, Interrupted, and I am currently reading Darkness Visible. This is definitely heavy reading. When I need to read something more light-hearted, I like Anne of Green Gables (hello, my redheaded sister!) and The Twilight Series (don't judge!) or magazines. Some of my favorite magazines are Redbook, Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire (one of these issues is included in the giveaway) and Living (one of these issues is also included in the giveaway.) Also, I just bought a subscription to the poetry magazine Rattle, and I'm looking forward to receiving my first issue! What are your favorite books and magazines?

Next, I like to listen to music. My taste has a wide range. One look at my iPod will tell you that! If I'm in the mood for classical music, I choose Vivaldi. In the contemporary Christian genre, I like Casting Crowns and Mercy Me. As a child of the 80's, this decade is probably my favorite for music; my top artists from that era are Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Poison, and Def Leppard. Now, of course, these artists span other decades as well, but to me, they will always epitomize the glory days of my youth. Moving into the 90's, my favorite artists from that time are Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, and Stone Temple Pilots. Enter 2000 and forward, and my top artist from this era is Linkin Park. (I am, of course, deeply saddened by the tragic death of lead singer Chester Bennington.) I also like Disturbed, Imagine Dragons, Seether, and an occasional old-school Elvis tune. I'd love to hear from you about your favorite artists. Let me know in the comments.

Coloring is something else that brings me pleasure. I have several really nice "grown-up" coloring books and gel pens. It's like therapy at home! It's especially nice when done in combination with listening to my favorite music. And, guess what? The lucky winner of the giveaway will receive one coloring book and a set of gel pens!

When I just want to veg out, I watch Netflix. Currently, my obsessions are The Office, Forensic Files, and (nostalgia) Cheers. It's a nice way to relax and allow myself to escape for a little while. What shows are your favorites right now? 

Another thing I enjoy is exercise. I alternate between step aerobics, yoga, and strength training. When the weather is cool, I like to take walks. Staying fit is important for both my physical and my mental health. What do you do for exercise?

This concludes the hobbies portion of the Fun Series. For your chance to win, follow the instructions below:

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Friday, July 14, 2017

Five Fun Fridays: Week Three (Fashion)

I hope you're as excited as I am about Week Three in this series. This week, I'll be blogging about my fashion and style sense. If you missed the first two weeks of the series, you can read about my makeup and skincare routine here and my hair (care, cut, color, style, products, etc.) here. You'll also get a glimpse in those posts of some of the incredible items that I'll be giving away at the end of this series. Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win! Now, on to one of my favorite subjects: clothes! In the above picture, I'm wearing a black shirt, a printed maxi skirt, and black flats. I completed the look with a denim jacket. This is nice enough for church, yet also casual enough for a day spent shopping.

As you can tell, I like skirts. This one is shorter, so I wear it on date nights or when going out with friends. I pair it with a colorful shirt and comfy flip-flops, which are a must when the temperature and the humidity start rising during summers on the Gulf Coast.


I wanted to give you guys an up-close photo of these super-cute shoes. I found them at that large, well-known chain store that has pretty much taken over the world. I fell in love with these shoes the minute I laid eyes on them! I already had this shirt, so this was a match made in heaven. Yes, when I'm feeling a bit wild and daring, I like to wear my animal prints. I pair this shirt with black shorts (as seen in this picture) or black leggings.


If you haven't already figured out this little piece of information, I am, indeed, a "Free Spirit," just as this shirt reads. I pair this shirt with white shorts and gray and white tennis shoes. I usually wear outfits like this if I'm headed to a casual lunch or coffee date with a friend. (And, yes, I am AWARE of how white my legs are. I'm redheaded, and I'm fair-skinned. Guess what? I like it that way.)

We were headed to my husband's grandfather's birthday party when we took this picture. "Paw Paw" celebrated his 89th birthday this year! Wow, what a blessing! I chose to wear a white tunic and printed leggings of varying shades of blue. Again, my footwear is a pair of flip-flops, this time in white. For parties, I often choose a flowy tunic or dress and a pair of leggings.


This is the outfit I wore to my therapy session this past week. I also did some shopping after my appointment was done. I chose something that is both cute and comfortable: a short-sleeved black shirt with a red spaghetti-strap shirt over it, black leggings, the beloved flip-flops, and a favorite bracelet in black and silver.

I suppose my summer look is feminine and comfy, with a bit of casual thrown in there, too. I plan to do another Fashion Post in the autumn/winter. My look is a little different when the weather is cooler. Meanwhile, I'd love to hear about your favorite styles. Post a comment and let me know what kinds of clothes you like. Are you more dressy? Casual? Somewhere in between? Also, don't forget; the more you post and share, the greater your chance of winning the giveaway. For a list of some of the items featured in the giveaway, see Weeks One and Two of this series. Ready to enter? Just follow these instructions:

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Descent


Slipping, deeper and deeper into the abyss.
The harder I fight, the lower I descend.
Trying to claw my way back into the light,
Growing weary from this endless fight.

Swallowed up by the darkness there,
Suffocating from the lack of air.
Wrapped in feelings of nothingness,
I have ceased to even care.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Five Fun Fridays: Week Two (Hair)



Thank you to all who joined me for Week One! If you missed that post in which I discussed my makeup and skincare routine, you can catch up here. Okay, so, this week I'm talking (or I guess I should say writing) about hair. Let me start by directing you to a tutorial that I wrote recently. Here I give details about how I style and care for my pixie, and I also discuss which products I use. Go there first; then come back here.

Now that you're back, we'll get into some more details. As I'm getting older, I am starting to deal with some white hairs appearing every now and then. Say what?!?! Well, I'm not quite ready for that to happen, so I'm dealing with it by coloring my hair. I do it myself. I use a variety of brands, but my favorites are Madison ReedL'Oreal Superior Preference, and this, which is included in the giveaway! So, yes, if  you win, you get a chance to try out being an auburn-haired beauty. FIRST, though, you MUST be sure to perform the allergy test! That's very important. The directions are included in the box. Read everything COMPLETELY AND CAREFULLY, and then follow ALL instructions exactly as written.

Now, moving on. In addition to the shampoo & conditioner that I mentioned in my tutorial -which, by the way, are included in the giveaway- I also use a color-depositing shampoo & conditioner set sometimes as well. I like this brand. My red hair stays vibrant longer with these products, so I don't have to color as often, which is nice. That takes care of color, so let's go on to my cut & style.

You may suffer from the delusion that a pixie cut is boring. Well, let me put that misconception to rest. There are so many different ways to wear a pixie cut. You can find some inspiration here, or you can just keep reading to see some of the different things that I do with my pixie.



The three above pictures feature my pixie in a slightly messy style.


The two above pictures feature my pixie in a wavy, wild style.

Sometimes I accessorize with a hat.


Beaded black headbands are fun.


A flower adds a pretty, feminine touch.


Lacy headbands are delicate and flirty, and there are two in the giveaway set!!! 

As I mentioned in the tutorial, I use some volumizing products for my hair, and a travel-sized mousse and volumizing foam from Nexxus is included as part of the giveaway! It's just one of many truly awesome products that I am giving away. You don't want to miss a minute of this series! Come back next Friday to read about my preferences in fashion and my style and to increase your chances of winning the giveaway. The more you comment and share, the greater your chances are of winning! In order to win, you can do any one or combination of the following:

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Drowning



“Drowning”

The ache and the pain will tear a hole in my chest.
How can I escape the emptiness within myself?

Morning breaks through, yet it’s all the same.
Nothing changes; only darkness remains.

Seeing nothing but gray all around,
Looking for some way to get out.

Weighed down by heaviness and loss,
Wandering, totally and completely lost.

People all around, oblivious to my silent screams.
If I voiced my despair, would anyone even hear?

Storms raging inside my soul, threatening my very life,
Yet I keep to myself, and continue to fight this fight.

I look in the mirror and don’t even know who I see.
I want to live the life of someone who is free.

I want to go back to some other place in time,
Find a better version of myself; just hit rewind.

I wonder if I could figure out exactly when
This broken version of myself began.

Could I change who I’ve come to be?
Or would I still be left with what I see?

How much of what I am currently
Is because of decisions made by me?

And how much of what I face is due
To the experiences life has put me through?

All these questions and no answers to be found,
Colliding thoughts and storms, and I might drown.


"Rising"

"Rising" With your words, you tried to kill me, and I lay hurt and wounded for some time. I had to fight and claw my way b...