Tag Archive | Challenges

My Granddaddy

I took a photography class back in January and learned a ton of things to help my picture-taking improve.  But the one thing that stands out in my mind today is something my teacher told us over and over again.  She said that you never know when a picture of a loved one will be the last one you take.

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A few weeks ago I posted a tribute to my grandmama and the impact she has had on my life in so many ways but mostly that of a wife.  Each time I took a trip to Tennessee to visit with my “Grands” I always told myself it might be the last time I will see them.

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Last Friday after eating their lunch together,  Grandmama told Granddaddy to go lay down while she cleaned the kitchen.  He laid down and went to sleep and didn’t wake back up.

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Now, while I loved my Granddaddy very much and will miss him in my life, that is not where my sorrow is focused.  He was 91 years old and lived a GREAT life.  He used his talents and abilities for those he loved and never asked anything in return.  He was truly a good and Godly man.

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No, the grief that I feel is for my Grandmama alone.  You see, my Grands were married for 71 years.  A friend who spoke at the funeral said it best when he said that when you are married to someone for that  long, you don’t know anymore where one ends and the other begins.  You are one.

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There are many times in my life when I have felt helpless and this was one time.  I stood by my Grandmama during the funeral and burial praying with all my heart that I could take away a piece of her grief.  Just some of it so that she wouldn’t seem so alone and lost.

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She wrapped her life around his until his wishes and desires were hers and hers were his.  Everyday was spent together as one. She told me later that she doesn’t really know what to do without him.  My heart breaks for her and my prayer each moment is that joy and peace and hope will fill her up again.

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Books that bite and sting you….

I subscribe to a daily writing challenge and this is the first I have accepted.

The challenge started with a quote.

Franz Kafka said, “we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.” What’s the last thing you read that bit and stung you?  http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2012/12/28/daily-prompt-stings/

I am a fan of books that take me away from reality.  Books with the “happily ever after”….But….

Every now and again, I am recommended a book that will slam me against a wall and force me to face my life, my choices and my path.  This post is about one such book.

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My life and marriage changed about 6 years ago.  But I am going to start back a bit farther than that, back when my mom was becoming an adult.

My mom met and married my dad in college in the mid to late 60s.  My dad joined the Air Force and this began a life that taught my mom how to pack, unpack, repack, organize, and assemble a home in just days.  Over the years as my dad was called away to serve, my mom was left at home to run the home and raise us 3 kids alone.  Now all this is perfectly normal and happens all the time then and now but what it taught my mom was something she didn’t realize she passed down to her daughters.

Self reliance is a good thing and a necessary thing for a military wife.  But the message my mom gave my sister and I was that we were not to rely on a man for anything.  The expectation for our lives was that we would go to college, that we would make a career that could support ourselves, that we would learn anything and everything that we need to be self reliant.

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Now, I make no condemnations against my mom.  She was pretty awesome and knew how to do it all.  She could run a home, raise the kids, pay the bills, fix a flat, install a garbage disposal, all while cooking nutritious meals in a home we just moved into the day before.  =)  She seems like SuperWoman to me now. =) But when my parents divorced after my high school graduation, she began to stress the message that I needed to make every guarentee that I could take care of myself alone and provide for any children I was to have someday.

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Now fastforward to the mid to late 90s and I am a woman about to graduate from college walking down the aisle to promise my life to my husband.  I look back now and realize how I consciously let him know that he was not going to be my master.  He was not going to tell me what to do.  He was not going to decide anything for my life.  I purposefully wrote my vows and excluded the whole part about “obeying” him.  In my mind we weren’t one unit, we were two people living together hoping we would last forever but preparing for the time he might leave.  I always knew that if he left, I would be prepared to take care of myself.

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Now I know what many of you are thinking.  “What’s wrong with that?  What’s wrong with being prepared?”  The problem with being prepared is that I had allowed the thought of divorce to enter my heart and after you let thoughts fester and grow, they can easily become plans and actions if they are not squashed in the thought stage.  I became an arrogant woman, who let her husband know at every turn that I would not ask his permission or advice to spend money or make decisions.  I was slowly cutting him out of that permanant place in my heart.  I was taking away the reason for him being a man and me being his woman.  I wouldn’t allow him to protect me and comfort me and care for me.  I wouldn’t allow him to be the leader in our home.  I was so full of myself that I couldn’t see that our marriage was slowly slipping through my fingers by my actions and words that let him know loud and clear that he wasn’t needed.  That I had him around because I wanted him there but not because I needed him there.

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About 6 years ago, my sister and I were talking on the phone and she was sharing a book that she and many of her friends were reading.  Created to be his Help Meet by Debi Pearl  had travelled around her group of friends and they were talking nonstop about it.  My curiosity was peaked and a few days later, a copy came to me in the mail from her.  Before I began reading, Dawn asked me to do one thing.  She asked that I pray before reading each chapter.  To pray that God would show me anything that I needed to hear.  You see my sister knew who I had become.  She knew that any book that tried to deliver me a message that tried to break down the walls I had erected around myself, I would squash.  She knew that the message in this book could change me and she knew I didn’t want to be changed.  I told her I would take it one chapter at a time and pray before each chapter and try and allow God to show me where I could make my marriage better.

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Because I believe that the Bible is the inspired book of God, I therefore believe what is said in it.  Before this time, I just would ignore some of the things he said and skip to the ones that suited my purposes.  Created to be his Help Meet is a book that takes a wife back to the beginning of the world.  Back to the creation of man and then woman and from there guides her through what God expects of her.  Debi Pearl poked me and pinched me and made me so uncomfortable that I was looking at the life and marriage that I had created and I was ashamed at who I had become.  I was sad at the havoc that I was wreaking between my husband and myself.  I had pushed him aside so often that he just stayed to the side instead of connected to me.  I saw what my future would be if I continued doing my own thing.  And I did not like what I saw.

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Without going into detail about what the book says, let me just tell you what happened to me as I read through this book.  From the first chapter, my heart was broken.  I realized that my focus had, from the beginning, been on me and my wants and my needs.  I would think of his wants and needs but only after mine.  I began looking for ways and opportunities to do things for him just because it would please him.  I was challenged to make a list of those changes that I could make each day that would cause him to see my love for him.  She challenged me to pay attention to him and see those things that made him feel special and loved and cared for.  I wanted to focus on those things that would let him know I felt blessed to be with him and that my new focus would be him.

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Here is what I learned about my husband.

  • He thrives on organization and he was not comfortable in chaos.  So from that I felt that whatever I could do around our home to keep it organized and chaos free would be well received.
  • He loves to eat.  That would be a given but one that I didn’t take care of enough.  I began preparing dinner and having it cooking when he walked through the door so that his first thought as he inhaled was that a meal was about to be prepared for him.
  • He likes my smiles and laughter.  I had a “pitiful me” attitude that wasn’t working quite like I wanted it to.  At the time I was a stay-at-home mom of 4 children all under the age of 5 and so when he came home I would put on the most pathetic face.  And when he would ask how my day went, I would be so down and launch into how hard my day had been and how tired I was.  Not something that will endear any woman to her man.  I began from that moment on to make sure that the moment he walked in the door, a smile was on my face and anything out of my mouth was focused on the positive blessings of that day.  On bad days, the only positive I could think of was that he walked in the door and I wasn’t alone anymore taking care of 4 kids.  But it was still a blessing and my smile would let him know that I was happy to see him.
  • He thought I was good-looking.  Being an at-home wife, can do a lot of things to your self confidence which in turn leads to not doing much to make yourself look your best.  Sweats and tees were my norm.  I decided to shower, dress and doll up first thing in the morning so that my confidence stayed up for him when he got home.
  • He likes sex.  I know that is a given but when you are so focused on yourself for so long, a woman can forget that her man needs her a lot more than she thinks.  So being the intelligent woman that I am, I consciously chose to not have an excuse anymore.  My dad gave me some advice years earlier that came to my head at this time.  He told me that a man will ask but if he hears “no” enough, he will stop asking and then you are in for a world of heartache.
  • He needed my support.  Being a coach can be a very lonely profession sometimes.  There is no one at the games to cheer the coach on.  When anything goes wrong, the coach is the one blasted by the parents and fans and head coach.  I make sure I am available to hear his frustations as well as be there at his games.  I want him to know that there is someone in the stands there ONLY for him.  I even had shirts made so that everyone knew who we were there for.

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The book challenged me to be a better wife to him.  I began the book wanting to change who I had become.  I didn’t want to plan for divorce as an eventuality in my marriage.  I wanted to fight for a good marriage.

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What I had not planned on when I started this book were the changes that would occur in my husband.  When I began to think of him before myself and do those extra things during my days that would let him know that he was on my mind and in  my heart, I didn’t realize that he would be changed too.  That he would be more affectionate, more helpful, more considerate, more fun and more confident.  Our marriage, my life, was changed because I put aside my pride and decided that I wanted a great marriage with my husband.

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A month or so back, I was having lunch with a good friend of mine, LuLu.  LuLu asked me if I had ever considered mentoring a young wife and if I would consider it now.  After letting her know that I would be honored to meet with her each week I knew the book that I wanted us to read together.  I had wondered over the past few years what parts of the book would stick out to me now.  I also knew that even back then, with an attitude for change, that I still ignored some things that were too hard for me to consider.  I wondered if now as I have matured and taken on a less selfish attitude that I wouldn’t get more out of the book on a second reading.

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The answer is yes, I have found more gems of wisdom and more understanding of how much my marriage and life can be blessed by thinking much less of myself and much more of him.  Each week that LuLu and I get together, she tells me that this book is challenging her and already after only a few weeks into it, she is already seeing changes in her husband and marriage because of a change in her focus and attitude.

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This book is not for the faint of heart.  This book is for the wife who wants more out of each day with her husband.  Who wants to protect her marriage so that it will last through the happily ever after.  I can attest that after 17 years with my husband, we have the best marriage today than we have ever had.  He is my closest friend, my biggest support and greatest admirer.  I know it can still get better and I know that we are on the path to help it be just that.

a challenge was issued

A friend issued a challenge to me a few months back…. okay more like almost six months ago…  I was hoping she would have forgotten…

She challenged me to take pictures of myself and get over this hangup I have about being in a picture by myself.  Just posting that first picture, my heartrate has hit the roof.

But she, being the sweet friend that she is, nagged and nagged and taunted and teased until yesterday I finally succumbed to her torment and grabbed my camera.  (I love you, Sarah.)

What got me through my anxiety was that I knew I could play around and edit them when I was finished and I would choose what got here.

I cropped a lot!

I think now I wore my glasses to hide behind cause rarely do I wear them when hanging out around the house, unless my face is in a book.

It is torture, pure and simple, mental torture.

Okay, now I can hide behind my camera.  The End.. and I don’t think I will ever do this again.  My heartrate is horrendous right about now!

The Suburban Snake Wrangler

A new tv show I am thinking about pitching to Animal Planet. Starring me! =)
What do you think? You think anyone would watch it? J/K
I stepped out of my sister-in-law, Amy’s house yesterday with my youngest when she starts hyperventilating and squealing in almost a whisper. I jerk around and am amazed at what I casually passed by, so caught up in my own thoughts that I miss this creature.

My first thought is that it can’t be real. Snakes don’t grow that big in our neighborhood. They are born and usually get squashed by cars or run over by lawnmowers or bashed in with shovels. So I literally look around thinking someone put a fake snake on the porch.
Then I come to my senses and realize that no one is going to believe me and grab my camera. Amy is trying to figure out in her hysteria what in the heck she is going to do. So, I turn to her and tell her to get me some work gloves that there is no problem, I can catch that snake.
We have many baby snakes in our yard and my husband has taught me and my kids what characteristics to look for when trying to figure out if a snake is venomous or not. I went through the check list. #1 – Is the end of his head rounded or pointy? Ok – really round. #2 – Are his eyes shaped like a cat; slanting out or are they ovals? Ok – oval. So my snake is not venomous. He has teeth and he can bite but I won’t die from venom, just from a heart attack from being freaked out of my wits.
I am really not sure what came over me but as long as I have been a mother there really isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to protect my children and this just proved it to me.
Amy came back out with work gloves and a huge shovel.
“Amy, what is that for?”
“You are going to kill it! I killed a baby one last week with this shovel.”
“Amy, I’m not going to kill the snake, I’m going to capture it and release it away from here. He is a big dude and will eat up rats and rodents and little snakes and whatever cause I am not killing it. I don’t think I can.”
So I put on the gloves and make my way to the other side of the porch where his tail is wrapped around the post. Amy grabs my youngest and pulls him inside and holds on for dear life to him with the door cacked open. He is squirming wanting to be outside with me but Amy refuses to let him go saying that he might not need protection but she needs to hold on to someone cause she is scared to death.
So I gently grab his tail and unwind his body from the post and banister and pull him to the concrete so that he will stretch straight out. In my mind I’m thinking he needs to be tryng to go the other way so I can come up behind him and grab his head so I can clamp his mouth shut so he can’t sink his teeth into me.
He is a wiggly sucker and I am working as quickly as I can trying to decide if I will be fast enough to grab his head or if he will just turn around and strike when I am moving.
So I add one more step to my plan. I step on his neck right under his head so he can’t turn around and then I grab his head and clamp his mouth shut.

My boy wiggles out of Amy’s arms and comes over asking if he can feel it while Amy goes looking for a bag to put it in and comes out with a Walmart bag but then realizes that using something so small, she might have to help me so she goes back in and comes out with a large kitchen trash bag and loops it over the rocking chair and steps back inside.

“Sorry, Tara, but I am not helping you put that in the bag.”

I drop the tail into the bag and then quickly release the head while twisting the bag around and around.  Well, the snake did not necessarily enjoy this and starts striking the bag and my first thought and I guess Amy’s at the same time is that he is going to get out and he is going to be a little peeved at us.  So she goes and gets a second trash bag and actually helps me put the first inside the second and I twist and tie it up.

“Wow, Amy.  Can you believe I just did that?  I have never in my life done anything like that before!”

“WHAT!?!  I THOUGHT YOU’VE DONE THIS BEFORE.  WHAT IN THE WORLD WERE YOU THINKING TO GRAB IT?”

“I’ve seen it done on tv and it seemed pretty straightforward and easy to do so I just did it.”

My thoughts then turn to; where in the world am I going to take this snake.  Maybe I should just kill it because we live in a big neighborhood filled with little kids and what if he finds his way back to another house?

While holding the snake out the window on my drive one street over to my house, I am still contemplating what I should do with the snake.  I still don’t think I personally can kill it but I can find a big burly man to do it for me.  I pull into my driveway and my next door neighbor is coming home for lunch so I call him over to make the decision for me.

Upon describing the snake, he tells me that it sounds like a black snake and if he is as large as I claim, he is doing really well eating rodents and other snakes around the area and we really don’t want to kill him.  Okay, fine.  Decision made for me.  Now what.

He gets the bag and I follow him over to the pond a few houses down and we walk around to the backside away from the houses and he untwists the two bags and shakes the bag to get the snake out.  The snake calmly slithers away into the tall grass and as he is disappearing into his new home I ask, “How long do you think that snake is?”

“Easily 3 feet if not more.  A big snake.”

“Thank you for confirming that because nobody is going to believe it when I tell them.  My husband especially will think that me being a female, and probably hysterical at the time, exaggerated the length.  But you are my witness that my mind did not turn a worm wrangling into a giant snake wrangling out of fear.”

It was hours later and my hands were still shaking and I am still asking myself one question.  “What in the world were you thinking, Tara?!”