Monthly Archives: October 2015

Parker, PA

Parker Bridge

Since I have a travel category on this blog, I figure I better add some “travel” blog posts.  And, sometimes we don’t travel very far, but the destination turns out to be a bit nicer than we expect.  Parker, PA is one of those travel adventures.

In September, I had the opportunity to visit Parker, Pennsylvania…the “Smallest City in the USA.”  Along the Allegheny River, it sits unassuming and would appear to have nothing to offer as a destination.  But, when you take the time to park the car & get out you realize that there is more than just the road that you drive on as you pass through.

We attended a ceremony as Parker, PA became a Trail Town for the North Country Trails.  A Trail Town is a community that sits along the North Country Trail that supports hikers with services. (aka Food & Bathrooms & signage so you can find said food and bathrooms.)

The ceremony (full details in October 6 issue) which took place along the beautiful river took only about 15 minutes and then attendees had the opportunity to hike the trail at various spots and various challenge levels.  We chose a rather simple hike across the bridge and on the North Country Trail to the Clarion River.  The most challenging part of our hike was crossing the Allegheny River on the historic truss bridge.  This bridge built in 1934 is one of the longest in the area and crosses the river at a wide spot and crosses an abandoned rail line (now know as the North Country Trail.) The bridge has a unique appearance as it has a rather steep grade(slope) of 6.32%…in novice hiker terms means that you may get winded walking across it.  After the up”hill” climb on the bridge, we enjoyed a level walk along the river.  The trail is paved and we were greeted by bicyclist  and other walkers/hikers.

We finished our morning out by having lunch at the Riverstone Lounge & Grille.  A fun surprise to find an extensive menu and good food.  (Right in my own back yard!)

So my point to this post is to tell you to view your activities as if you are on vacation….even if you are only in a neighboring town.  You may find all sorts of treasures if you are open to exploring a little bit.

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The Fellowship of Suffering

Andy Stanley alerted me to this term though the concept has been very familiar to me.  He claims the Fellowship of Suffering is defined in a statement that “There is a natural bond between those who have suffered deeply & similarly.”  I totally agree.  There is nothing worse than a person saying, “I understand” when they obviously don’t.  However, each situation of suffering is different for each person.

I remember when my father died when I was 16 and a junior in high school. Many of my friends paraded through the line at the funeral home and obviously, no teen knows what to say in these situations.  But, Jody did.  I don’t know why, but she just seemed to “know something.”  Had she lost before?  She didn’t chatter, she didn’t even try to say something profound, she just said, “sorry.”  She seemed wise beyond her years.  Having stood in that line at the funeral, I began collecting “sufferings” for my fellowship.  Though I sincerely believe I’ve led a charmed life, I have experienced pains and frustrations too.  I would like to share my Fellowship of Suffering Categories in case you ever need someone to talk to.

Death of my father unexpectedly when I was 16.  He was 50 and died of a heart attack.

Love those who have had traumatic brain injuries and recovered.

Miscarried my second child.

Fostered many children and know the pain of letting them go into unsafe environments.

I have waited up for teenage drivers.

I have received a call from the police to come and pick up said teenage drivers.  (Won’t squeal and tell which one!)

My kids have left home, made choices I didn’t support, gone days without calling & have exhibited risky behaviors at times.

I have known the pain of my adopted children longing for answers.

I deal with mental illness on a daily basis.

I live with the damage of abused children and the effects it has on their lives.

Fortunately, my list doesn’t seem very long to me, unfortunately, I’m sure it will grow as I continue to live and love.  That’s what life is all about.

There truly is a bond between those who have suffered deeply and similarly.  I appreciate every person who experienced my pain prior to me who said, “I understand.”  I now look at events in my life and view them as how I will be able to use them for the good of someone else.  Though it stinks to go through a suffering, it can be redeemed when you are the one giving the hug and saying, “I understand.”

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Filed under family, Inspirational, Life, Trauma-mama

Love Dare #10

What did you do today?  Well, many things, but the thing that I’m most proud of is what I did for my husband.  A friend and I are working through The Love Dare, a 40 day Love Journey (Based on the book The Love Dare by Alex Kendrick.)  It is an intentional journey where each day you do one thing different for your spouse (without pointing it out to them.)  So, the goal is that you change….even if your spouse doesn’t.  It definitely puts things in a different perspective.

I originally did this dare in 2009, a year after the book came out.  It amazed me that I had been married 21 years and hadn’t thought of some of these things!  The premise is that each day you read a scripture, and then do a dare. In the book there is an actual box that you can check off once you’ve completed the task (dare.)  I used to joke that I wondered how many people had to drop out of the Love Dare Challenge.  Day #1 was difficult for me.  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. –Ephesians 4:2.  The dare is what the book calls, “fairly simple,” but demonstrating patience by “saying nothing negative to your spouse at all” was extremely difficult for me to accomplish.  What?!  Not say anything negative? So, how am I supposed to report that someone left the milk out, the garbage disposal is broken again AND that I had to pick up a kid at soccer because he was late coming home?!  So, that particular challenge took me more than one day, but I did get by it.  I’m pleased to say that 6 years later, I have been able to tame my tongue and completed that dare in a single day.  However, along comes #10 – Love is unconditional. God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us — Romans 5:8; Today’s Dare? Do something out of the ordinary for your spouse –something that proves (to you and to them) that your love is based on your choice and nothing else.

The first time through, I decided to make my spouse’s coffee in the morning.  I’m a tea drinker, so i never bothered preparing his pot.  In 27 years of marriage I can honestly say that this single act has had the greatest positive reward for the least amount of effort.  It begins the day on a good note and is one simple act that shows I care.  I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before.  So, round two, what should I do?  I read this dare two days ago and thought of something, but it took until today for me to muster up the inner strength to accomplish it.

What did I do today?  I cleaned up dried chicken poop off of the garage floor.  Yes, our chickens came into our garage when the door was left open and they pooped.  They pooped on the floor, but the lace to my husband’s work boot was right in the midst of the puddle.  I have learned from experience that wet chicken poop may be even harder to clean up than dried chicken poop (after the chickens got into my family room in the basement and were left unattended for several hours but that’s a subject of another blog some day!)  So I waited.  I walked past that mess more than once as I entered the house and thought I should clean it up.  But, the garage is husband territory, so I walked by….more than once….more than several times…you get the idea.  Do something that proves my love? I cleaned the poop AND scrubbed it off his laces for him.  True love for sure!  But, wait.  I didn’t stop there.  While in the garage I saw a mousetrap that had been triggered but no mouse was visible. (No matter how much I love that man, there is no way I would touch a mousetrap if a mouse were in it!) I made the decision to bait the trap again for him.  I have never set a mousetrap before.  This is not my domain, that is his job!  But, it’s a dare and I chose to take it.  I reset the mousetrap and topped it off with a dollop of Peanut Butter.  Done. Hands washed (more than once) and I’ve completed the dare.  YAY!

Does this prove my love is unconditional?  Did I demonstrate the sheer joy of being his partner in marriage?  I am certain that I did something that proved my love is based on my choice and nothing else.  I’m not sure if he will even notice (unless of course, my trap catches a mouse and I will definitely let him know!)  I do love my spouse and I am excited to have done a dare to attempt to prove my love. Though it took days to resolve to do it, it really only took a few minutes and a couple of pitches on the finger to accomplish it.

I dare you to give the Love Dare a try!

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Filed under family, Inspirational, Scriptures

In Case You Forget

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We all have people in our lives who are sometimes difficult to get along with.  Some of us have people who are chronically hard to get along with and sometimes we actually live with these people!  We know there is good inside of them, but for whatever reason, it is difficult for them to show it.  It may be mental illness, severe depression or in our case Reactive Attachment Disorder.  We love our son, but let’s be honest…he is very difficult to live with.

Years ago my father said that many people have more friends when they are dead than when they were alive.  He meant that many times people visit a funeral home and didn’t visit the individual.  He shared this when a “friend” of my cousin had died at the age of 14.  He said that many people became that boy’s “friend” the day he died.  The same is true of what we say about the dead.  What we remember.  We stop saying all the things that bugged us about the individual and we start sharing all the great memories and fun, kind things the person did.  I was reading a description of a mother’s son that the mother wrote after she lost him in a car accident.  Though her child wasn’t a difficult child, I think there is still some things she left unsaid.  Maybe we should try to do that with our living children….even the difficult ones.  That said, let me introduce you to Paul, only the good stuff.

Paul will be 17 years old soon and was born to a different set of parents than he has today. He is a remarkable young man who has overcome many obstacles.  He suffers some physical and mental limitations but has defied the professionals’ opinions in many cases.  He can ride a bike, visit a store alone, count money & is very technically apt contrary to what they thought. He is a loving and compassionate guy who sincerely prays for and encourages others in their time of need.  He spends countless hours visiting the sick and the elderly and befriends people who aren’t even aware that they are in need of a new friend.  He leaves a lasting impression with everyone he meets.  Everyone knows Paul and calls him by name.

He speaks his mind without a filter which is at times the most important thing to do.  When a friend of ours was battling brain cancer, he saw me standing at the kitchen sink and said, “Are you praying for Nicholas?”  When I responded that I wasn’t, he said, “Well maybe you should.” 

On another occasion a friend shared a story about something she witnessed at the local grocery store.  When she pulled into the parking lot, she saw Paul sitting on a display of potting soil stacked in the front of the store.  He appeared to just be greeting each person who entered.  Then she noticed a big, burly man in a beat up truck pull in and park in the handicapped spot.  She noticed the truck was in the inappropriate spot, but she said nothing.  The man exited his vehicle, threw his burning cigarette into the lot and walked toward the store.  Paul calmly mentioned, “Hey, maybe you weren’t aware of it, but you parked in a handicapped spot.”  The man shrugged his shoulders, grumbled a swear word and returned to his truck and moved it.  Upon entering the store again he looked at Paul and said, “Thanks man.”  Paul never shared these events.  They weren’t big deals to him, they just were.  They represent who Paul truly is.

We have a summer home along the Allegheny river and Paul is known as the “Mayor of Rimer.”  I know the neighbors two doors to our left and two doors to our right, but Paul knows everyone along the 1.1 miles worth of road and their friends and families.  He makes a point of greeting them and asking them about something he knows they are interested in.  When I introduce myself, it’s easier (& more advantageous for me) to refer to myself as “Paul’s Mom.”  No other explanation is needed and I am welcomed to any picnic or party along the river.

He is polite and courteous and what he lacks in intellect, he makes up for in his incredible ability to ask others for help.  He gets what he needs and he blesses others by allowing them to utilize their God given desire to serve others.  It takes a village to raise Paul and the village is a better place because of him. 

So when dealing with difficult people, in case you forget, there is goodness in them.  It may be helpful to write it down & refer to it often. Play the good things the individual does through your mind as often as you replay the bad things they have done. Also, in case you forget, you just might be the difficult person in someone else’s life and you may want them to do the same thing!

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Filed under Adoptive, family, Inspirational, Life, Parenting, Trauma-mama

If You Can’t Say Anything Nice…

DON’T SAY ANYTHING AT ALL.  Wise words my mom used to tell me often.  “If you can’t say anything nice…don’t say anything at all.”  She used this saying as a response to bickering between my brother and I but today I realized that there is a much bigger application that this can be used in.

It can also be spoken as “if you can’t be positive, be quiet.”  I like that.  I pride (Pride is a key word here!) myself in my positive attitude.  Sometimes I have even been referred to as a Pollyanna. It is said that being a Pollyanna is usually considered a put-down for being naive and unrealistic about things but Pollyanna always made a game of finding “something to be glad about.”  Is that a bad thing?

Regardless, our words have power and even though I can remember to not say anything at all if I don’t have something nice to say to others, I often forget to stay positive when I am alone in my room or in my thoughts.

For example, today something happened and I immediately started saying, “There is no way we can fix this.  This is so bad, how will I figure this out?  There is no way I’m going to make this right.”  Is that nice?  Should I say it?  Even to myself?  And, it definitely isn’t positive. It certainly affected my mood and the mood of those around me.

The minute I stopped saying anything.  Just stopped, I was able to re-frame the situation and recognize that I will be able to do something about it.  Will it be all right? Maybe not, but it will be my best.  I will start talking positively to myself and to others and I think the effort and results will show.  Instead of speaking defeat, I will strive for success.

There’s a story in the Bible (2 Kings 4:8) about a woman whose son had died.  She was running for help and when someone asked her “Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?” she replied, “Everything is all right.” (2 Kings 4:26) Are you kidding me?  Her son was dead!  BUT, what good would it have done for her to lament about her problems.  She was going for help.  Should she stop to complain about the situation?  She said, “Everything is all right” and kept going for help.

What a good example.  I’m going to try to be positive or be quiet.  I will do as I was told and not saying anything if I can’t say anything nice and I bet my day and my attitude will be better for it!

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8      (AUTHOR NOTE: Think about such things? Probably includes talk about such things too!)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.           Ephesians 4:29 
(AUTHOR NOTE: Even if the “other” is you!)

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Lord, Be With…

Pray without ceasing.  –1 Thessalonians 5:17

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.                                             —Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

I just laid down to try to take a nap.  I was up all night tossing and turning and praying and today I can barely accomplish the necessary tasks because my mind is racing and my heart is aching for so many people.  I just keep praying. Trying to fight fear with faith and stand in the gap for so many.  I’m sure I’m not unlike others who go about their day working and praying.

Today I prayed for all of the folks at the funeral home that were attending to view a man in his 30’s who died of a motorcycle accident, his young widow who he married last year, his parents, her parents, his siblings, their friends who try to support them during this time, the wait staff at the restaurant his dad owns as they serve people tonight after the funeral.  I prayed for my safety in the rain as I drove to and fro.  I prayed for my sister in law’s family as her dad had an unexpected complication and is in the hospital.  Wisdom for the nurses, doctors, and all others who care for him.  Peace for his kids, his wife, him.  For all the peple who know them, who reach out to them, who want to help and don’t know how.

Yesterday I lifted Jean up.  A clerk at a grocery store.  I don’t know her but I’ve seen her face there for years. I asked Him to go before my note to the teacher, to allow me to rest, and for comfort for a family who lost their son a couple of weeks ago.  I asked him to direct my daughter’s path, to help her in an interview, to keep my daughter safe while climbing, to encourage my son to do his best, to heal my pesky cold, to make my phone ring with awaited news. For healing for a friend in the Netherland’s mother, for him to know God, and thanks for us knowing this family at all. Prayers for a heroine addict who has gone into a treatment facility and for her family who struggles with her addiction. I begged the Lord to heal broken marriages and strengthen all the marriages of my friends & family. I asked for blessings for a man on the street, a man at a mailbox and a lady who appeared frustrated in a car.

I had the opportunity to tell the widow last night that “Strangers are praying for you.”  Isn’t that the truth?  Don’t we pray when we hear a siren, see a fire truck or a crying child.  Don’t we ask for prayers for tragedies we see on the news or over hear in the grocery store?  It is quite a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer and to not need to be “anxious for anything.”  Praying as I do also makes me wonder how many others are praying for me?  I know I am uplifted in prayer.  I can feel it.  I know on certain days, people hear a quiver in my voice and pray for my strength, the hear my scratchy throat and pray for my health.  They see my frustration with my kids and pray for my patience.  I appreciate it.

May you all be included in my prayers.  Dear Lord, be with anyone who reads this post.  Let them remember to always turn to you and to pray without ceasing. Thank you for all the prayers they will pray for me. Amen

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