Wednesday, October 5, 2011



It sure is the season for it

isn't it?

You'd think that being a Navy wife

I'd embrace change.

And I have.

But I'm not talking about a change of scenery here.

I'm talking about the kind of change

that sneaks up on you.

The one you realized happened

while you were either looking the other way

or living in denial.

This isn't one of those posts that mourne the

inevitable growing up of children.

It's not about regret or trying to hang on to

something that is very surely slipping

through your fingers.

It's a post about change.

Something of which I thought

I had become an expert.

But I'm finding out that

maybe I'm not.

Change is running through my life

like a freight train lately.

And it doesn't even blow a warning horn!

It's the kind of change that

makes you realize that life as you know it

has morphed into something that

although you love and cherish,

you don't really recognize

and you hope that it

morphs into something easier

very, very soon.

I look into the eyes of my son

who will be 20 next month

and I see someone who

except for food and shelter

does not really need me.

But I hope he wants me.

Oh do I hope he wants me.

Right now though,

he neither wants or needs me

most of the time.

He is the main decision maker in his life now

and that scares the heck outa me.

He respects our rules, but really

he is on his own path.

No warning horn.

At almost 18 and soon to be 16,

Michael and Madison are right on Zach's heels.

In just 2 and a half years from now,

we will be the parents of 3 adults and a middle schooler.

Absolutely no warning horn.

At all.

It became evident to us this summer

that we were most assuredly

in the throws of change

when all of the sudden

we became a party of 3

instead of a party of 6.

The older kids were so busy with work,

summer trips with friends

and things that they wanted to do

and we were busy with our own summer

activities centered around

the outdoors with Brendell.

I wish I had known that the summer of 2010

was the last summer we'd spend

doing things that the teenagers

wanted to do with us.

Did you hear a warning horn?

Yeah, me either.

And so this change,

this thing that makes my kids second guess

my advice

and brush off my attempts at

deep conversation.

This thing that has them

saying a quick,

"bye Mom, I love you!"

on the way out to work

or play

This thing that has me watching tail lights

and waiting for headlights,

This thing that has me trying to remember

what being a teenager was like,

This thing that has awarded

them more responsibility

and more choices

This thing that keeps me up at night

hoping that they make good choices

This thing without a warning horn....

I don't like it very much.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Roses and Chicken Nuggets

The impact that a father has on a girl's life

is no secret.

It cannot be over stated,

emphasized enough

or exagerated.

Every girl needs an excellent Dad!

This vital need is more evident today than ever.
With so many broken homes and absent fathers
a large percentage of our little girls are growing up with
scarred hearts.
For these girls,
the precious and fleeting years that should have
been filled with her daddy's
steadfast adoration and heroic protection
are instead filled with the agendas
of selfish adults
or with the confusion that
comes from having such a deep need and no real direction
as to how to fill it.
Our girls are struggling
to realize who they are.

Within the heart of every girl

no matter what her age,

is the desire to be

loved, needed, appreciated, wanted

and cherished.
This need was put within us by our heavenly Father

whose everlasting love can meet

those needs beyond our comprehension.

How we as little girls perceive our

earthy daddies
will mold the way we think of our heavenly Father.
Dads, this makes you just about

the single most influencial player in

our lives!!

For those of you Dads out there

rocking it out as

excellent Fathers,

Thank You!!!

You have no idea the impact you are making

not only on your daughter's life today,

but on all of the lives she will touch as she grows

and also the lives of your grandchildren as well.

Every gentle word,

every prayer you utter on her behalf,

everytime you decide to spend time with her

instead of on something trivial and temporary,

everytime you take a moment to encourage her

you are building a better future for

her and the woman she will become.

You cannot begin to imagine how your efforts today

will pay dividends in the future!

As a mom of two teenage boys,

I pray that the girls they chose to date

have strong, loving Fathers in their lives

to teach them what precious young ladies

they are and to build into them

the ability to confidently know who they are

and what they are worth.

For all of the girls out there who may not have

this kind of Father or none at all,

there is hope!

The same God who created you
is the one who put that need for love inside of you.

He longs to be that Father for you!

Psalm 68:5 says that He is the Father to the Fatherless

and a hero for all times!

Isn't that what we all want girls?

A hero for all times!

God calls us his children

dearly loved,


united with the Lord

and one with him in spirit,

bought with a price,

set apart,

adopted as His child,

redeemed and forgiven,

His workmanship,

free from condemnation

and unable to be separated from His love!

Just ask Him and He will be there

never leaving or forsaking you!

He will fill that nagging need inside of you

that the enemy would wish you to fill

with temporary and distructive things.

For all of you girls with awesome Dads...

don't let another day go by without

letting them know how

thankful you are for their

positive influence in your lives!

An excellent father is a rare and beautiful thing!

Those doing it well

need to be honored.

For all of you Dads who haven't been so awesome lately,

it's not too late.

Plan a date night,

write a note,

give a hug

hold a conversation

say something positive and affirming

to your little lady

(or not so little one)
I bet you will see the spark of forgiveness

and delight begin to shine in her eyes!

Don't give up...

after all, you are

our hero
and heros fight for the love of their ladies!


(Thanks Chick-Fil-A for creating an enviornment

of affirmation for daughters and daddies everywhere

with your daddy daughter date nights!)


Monday, May 30, 2011

A hero on the pool deck....

I met Brian and Rachael a few weeks ago

on a Caribbean cruise I took with my mom.

Before I even noticed Brian's leg,

I was struck by the obvious adoration between this couple.

Rachael just glowed in Brian’s presence

and seemed to have a protective nature about her.

Brian definitely looked like a man in love,

but there was also a certain sadness and hesitation about him.

They were both settled into sun chairs on the pool deck

when I first saw them.

A few minutes later when he moved his beach towel

I saw Brian’s leg.

It was a curious contraption of metal and sockets

with a brown sandal fixed to a plastic bare foot.

Mom and I happened to be sitting pool side

a few chairs from Brian’s when the cruise director announced

a "Mr. Sexy Legs" competition.

I had no sooner turned to my mom to tell her that I hoped Brian would enter

when I saw Rachael encouraging him to put his name on the list.

He kept shaking it off,

but mom and I supported Rachel with a “thumbs up”

and vigorous motioning for him to get up.

Reluctantly, Brian put his name on the list and got in line.

We watched several men strut their stuff down the deck.

Some were funny,

some were embarrassing,

but none of them had the impact that Brian did when he his walk began.

At well over six feet tall

I imagine that Brian probably wasn’t very graceful on two legs,

but as he made his way down the deck

with his newly learned gait,

he became more beautiful with each stride.

Almost everyone on the pool deck stood and cheered for him

and people were lined up against the upper deck railing

most of them with their hands in the air clapping for Brian!

At that moment

Brian was our friend,

our son,

our brother,

our husband.

He was every soldier who didn’t come home

and every soldier who was still there fighting.

We all wiped away tears

as he made his way over to where Rachael was sitting

and gave her a big kiss before getting back in line

to await the judge’s decision.

I spoke with Rachael as we were waiting

and she told me that Brian had lost his leg only seven months ago

and that he was still insecure about learning how to move around

in his prosthetic leg

which he got for Christmas.

This cruise was her way of celebrating how far he'd come

and to lift his spirits.

What we originally thought would be good for Brian,

turned out to be an amazing lesson for all of us watching.

We saw a hero whose bravery had remained strong

through the physical battlefield of Iraq

and through the emotional battlefield

of recovery.

His heroism inspired in us

a new appreciation for the price of freedom.

We shed tears as this American hero

took several steps toward healing himself,

but what we didn’t count on

was that with each step he took,

something in all of our hearts began to heal as well.

Many of us were brought face to face

with the silliness of our own insecurities

as we watched this soldier face his in a big way.

After what we saw on that day

how could any of us ever again say

that we can’t do something out of fear

or because of the risk of embarrassment?

Courage inspires courage.

Many men in the audience were veterans of past wars.

Their bodies bore the scars that told the stories

of the price of freedom in their own lives.

Grey headed wives stood beside these men,

their scars of worry were better concealed

but still as painful.

Like so many intangibles

the bond between people who have gone through similar tragedies

is as evident when they talk to each other

as it would be if they were tied together by a big unbreakable rope.

When you witness people with this kind of bond,

it is undeniable.

It is also essential to our emotional well- being

to relate to other people on the deep level of shared experiences.

Hearing “I’ve been there son”

from war veterans must have soothed a part of Brian

like nothing else could.

Brian received a metal that day for winning the "Mr. Sexy Leg" contest,

but his biggest gift was being embraced by an audience

whose appreciation was evident in their glistening eyes,

their standing ovations,

their hugs and handshakes.

In the middle of the Caribbean Sea

amidst steel drum bands

and umbrella drinks,

I watched a broken man be put back together

one "thank you" at a time

and I watched a hero

make better Americans of us all.

The change in Brian was immediately noticeable.

Over the next few days I rarely saw him alone.

He was always greeted with handshakes

and engaged in conversation.

That hesitancy that I had seen in him before

was replaced by a broad smile,

a head held high

and what looked like pride to me.

Later that week

on the very same pool deck that he had introduced himself

to a ship full of strangers,

Brian got down on one knee

and proposed to Rachael.

She said yes!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

both sides of the coin....

The first stop on our Caribbean cruise was San Juan, Puerto Rico.

I was so excited to visit my first island.

We found a great spot to watch us dock.

My first impression of San Juan

was that it was very congested and

kind of dirty. I could not believe how many cars

were packed onto one narrow street!

I did really like the colorful buildings though.

The balconys on many of them

reminded me alot of New Orleans.

It was dreadfully hot on the day we were there, even at 5:00 pm.

Mom and I walked the streets for a bit

and visited some local shops.

Because we docked on Mother's Day

which is a big day in Puerto Rico,

alot of the attractions were closed.

So after getting our fill of

what was accessible by foot,

we went back to the ship before dark

and enjoyed a party under the stars on the pool deck

that evening.

Stop #2 was a beach day!

We docked in St. Thomas which I thought was

stunningly beautiful!

The water was a gorgeous turquoise and

the beaches were almost as sugar white

as Pensacola's beaches are.

I would love to spend more time on this island.

I was surprised at the prices of the homes
there. Even the ones with fabulous views

were listed at around $600,000!

We took a tour with a guide who dropped us off at

a local beach. But first she drove like a maniac to the top of a mountain!

In St. Thomas they drive on the other side of the street

but they have American cars so their steering wheels

are in the same place as ours.

It would take some serious getting used to

if I had to drive there!

After the gorgeous views on the mountain,

we descended into a slummy looking neighborhood.

It definitely didn't look like a place tourists would go.

Our guide told us that the best beaches to visit were the local ones and

Coki beach was definitely local!

As soon as we rounded a corner,

we were relieved to see that

it was indeed a beautiful beach

and there were other cruisers there as well.

Mom and I ordered fruity rum drinks and

a fish dish that is common on the island.

I'm not sure wha thte fish was called,

but it was soooo good!

We snorkled and enjoyed the water at Coki beach.

They gave us a dog biscuit to break up under water

as we snorkled

so that we could see the fish close up.

On the surface, I didn't think we'd see much

because even though the water was pretty clear,

there didn't seem to be much fish action.

As soon as I went underwater though,

I was greeted by dozens of yellow and blue fish

who apparently loved dog biscuits!

Our third stop was Samana, Dominican Republic.

We were given a tour through typical neighborhoods

in Samana. Our guide kept telling us that we would see other people

from our boat on the tour.

The deeper we got into the back roads

the more he told us that.

We were beginning to think that he was

just telling us that to keep us calm

so they could eat us!

I was even starting to size the guide and driver up

to determine whether I or another tour mate could take them,

but alas, we saw lots of other cruisers

and our fears subsided.

Tourism is the only industry in Samana

and the people struggle for everything they get.

I saw the skinniest dogs I have ever seen there

and lots of children eating fruit off of the trees in their yards.

There were children everywhere

and all of them wanted gum or lolli pops

from us.

Mom brought a bag full to give away.

Local helpers assisted us across creeks

as we walked through the "jungle" to

see a waterfall.

The locals walk beside you the whole way

ready to assist you if you need help navigating the rocky part of the path.

They had hopes of getting a tip for their guidance.

I think my helper was in training

because I had a 13 year old boy hold my hand the entire way.

At the beginning a woman said something to him in spanish

and he grabbed my hand and didn't let go.

Mom and her helper Naomi walked in front of us

and Naomi often looked back and laughed at

my helper who was holding my hand even on long stretches

of flat ground.

I'm sure that woman told him, "Grab her hand and stay with her

so you can get a tip" or something like that!

I did tip my funny escort.

The shacks that the people of Samana live in

are in stark contrast to the beauty around them.

They live with so little which is such an eye-opener

to us Americans who have been blessed with so much.

I would love for my kids to experience something like this

and see first hand how other cultures live with so much less

than we do.

In St. Thomas, I felt like I was in shopping heaven

and I found so many things that I wanted to buy.

In Samana all I could think of was what I wanted to give.

Samana was my favorite port.

It was so meaningful to me to see both sides of the coin.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2 mommas and a cruise ship!

For Mother's Day this year my mom and I went on a 9 day

cruise to the Caribbean!

It was so fun getting to spend so much time with her.

We stayed up late at night talking

and laughing like girlfriends do.

Being able to just relax and have a good time

was such a blessing for both of us.

Before we even hit our first island,

I knew that this was going to be

a week of fun.

On our second day at sea

mom decided to judge the

"Mr. Sexy Legs" competition for a reason I will

share in an upcoming story.

It was hilarious watching all of the guys

strut their stuff,

or whatever stuff they thought they had,

and it was even more hysterical watching

my mom's reaction!

She was having a great time

even though she was way out of her comfort zone!

She was responsible for picking
the most athletic legs winner
and had one of four votes to decide the overall winner.

The over all winner is part of a story I am going to tell
for Memorial Day,
so I won't spoil it by adding
any photos of him yet.

Now judging is one thing....
competing is a whole other ball game!
Before she knew it, mom was in a line up
for the "Best Biceps" women's competition!
Because she has been a judge, she and her fellow judges
were automatically entered into this contest.

I know when she woke up that morning.
the last thing she thought she would be doing
was dancing down the pool deck
in front of a cheering audience and four judges!

But she turned on that charm of hers
and did it anyway.
I am so proud of her!
(and I'm super happy
that I have the photos to prove this!)

Telling the stories of our cruise is far too involved for one post, so
I will break it up by island/day
and will post the photos and details all this week and next week.

Until then,
blue skies and umbrella drinks for everyone
and a little steel drum music too!

Monday, March 21, 2011

the avocado tree

We were first introduced to avocados
during our time in southern California
almost 9 years ago.
There were rows and rows of them growing
in the orchards we would pass
when we were out in town.
They quickly became one of my favorite sandwhich toppings
and fresh guacamole was a staple at our house.

Since then, I've been buying them whenever
we have a mexican themed dinner
and to add to my turkey sandwhiches.

It wasn't until we moved here to
Maryland that we attempted
the classic avocado seed experiment.

Last Fall my mom and Brendell
rigged up an avocado seed with toothpicks
and placed it in a jar of water.
Within a few weeks we had sprouts.
Those sprouts got bigger and bigger
and before we knew it we had
big green leaves!

It has been fascinating to watch this thing grow!
It is almost twice as tall now as it was
in these photos and it sits
in the window above our sink
where we all comment from time to time
about how well it's doing.

But this little plant will never produce fruit.
Even if we put it in soil and take care of it properly.
If it does produce fruit, it will take 7 to 15 years
and it will not be the same kind of fruit produced
by it's parent plant
and that fruit will not be edible.

Strange that something that appears to be so vibrant
and so healthy and something that we have watched grow
from a seed
will never do what it was created to do.

But there is hope.

This plant can be grafted into a high producing
well established tree.
Grafting is the process of combining the root system
of a new plant with a branch from a hearty producing tree.

Grafting is the only means of achieving
edible avocados in plants grown from seeds
because plants that are grown from seeds
like our little experiment plant
are hybrids and their fruit
if they produce any at all
is inedible
unless merged with a producing tree.

It is almost impossible for me to hear
of this process and not think of the Bible passage found in
John 15:1-8.
Unless we are grafted into the True Vine,
we will not produce effective fruit.
No matter how much sunlight or water we get,
no matter how straight and strong our stem seems to be,
no matter how green our leaves,
no matter how many admirers are standing around
talking about how great we are,
no matter how far we've come from
that little seed.....
there will be no effective fruit without
the merging of ourselves with
the one who is our source!
So the next time I see an avocado,
just seconds before I think of
guacamole and orchards full of trees
loaded with green fruit that tastes
like a vegetable,
I will think of what a wonderful picture
that odd shaped fruit is
of my utter uselessness apart
from God who is the source of my life.....
and then I will pick a nice soft ripe one
and grab the tortillas chips!