Saturday, December 31, 2011

out with the old, in with the new

2012. Can you imagine?

A new year, a new beginning. People will make resolutions for change. Diet, exercise, give up smoking, etc. This is a good time to look back and look ahead. To see if we like where we are headed or if we need to change our game plan. A new calendar opened up with so many possibilities and adventures that lie ahead.

2011 was a tough year for me, you guys all know why. It was a hard year but God is faithful and saw me through and helped me grow in lots of areas.

In looking at the magnitude of what still needs to be done here, I foresee 2012 being a year of change. I awoke with a feeling of anticipation today, of hope ahead. Have no idea what is in store in the new year but I know God does and I will trust his wisdom and plan and timing.

I'm closing a chapter of my life. First let me say he is perfectly healthy as far as I know and I don't anticipate anything changing in the days ahead. But I'm retiring my blogging buddy, my faithful companion since I started blogging back in 2005. Its time for Koda to take a back seat and for me to embark on new adventures in my writing.

I love to write, I love to read God's word and be inspired by the messages he is teaching there. I like to ponder things as I sit and type or edit those medical reports that I do.

I'm going in a new direction with blogging in 2012. I know that I won't have the time in the months ahead to devote to blogging like I did in previous times but I still feel the need to write and put my words in such a format like a blog for whoever stumbles upon the words I write or chooses to read them.

I started a new blog, A Bench With a View. I'm just going to write there thoughts. No obligation to read, no obligation to comment.

I know these days I look at my Dashboard and read a lot and comment on just a few. I would imagine that will be the pattern in the months ahead. There is so much work here to be done and so much healing and restoring, but God is merciful and faithful and is working miraculously in so many ways.

So read if you want, follow if you want. I'm looking into putting my Fear of the Lord blog into book format for me to save and am looking at the same concept for this blog. It will eventually be deleted or made private. Its been a wild adventure and a great experience writing here, but it is time to move on.

Thank you all who have read this and commented on it and shared this journey with us. Its been a privilege and honor to have you part of it.

If I see you over on Bench With a View, great. Regardless, Happy New Year to one and all. May it truly be a great year for you and your family!

Friday, December 16, 2011

its that time again

Its that time again. Blog break. I would like to say it is because I'm getting ready for Christmas and have so much to do, but sadly, FIL passed away this morning (I know, weren't we just saying goodbye to MIL?) A month ago she passed. Today he joined her. He was 88 years old and honestly I think he died of a broken heart. I think he lost his will to live after she died.

I think this time around hubby is going to need my help with this and that and that and this so I think wisely taking off some time from blogging is a good thing. I will peek in and read as I can.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night..........

(back soon)

Monday, December 12, 2011

almost end of the year look back

First of all, I cannot believe that it is almost 2012. Where did 2011 go? For that matter, where did 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 and so on go? It is absolutely amazing that almost 12 years have happened since Y2K when everyone was in a panic with what the computers would do, etc.

This has been a very difficult year for me. So many of you know that. So many of you have prayed for me and I thank each and every one of you for those prayers. I know God heard each and every one of them and he answered them according to his perfect timing and will.

I have gotten so much support from you all. You are my dearest of friends. I treasure each of you in so many different ways. You make me laugh, you make me cry, you make me think, you make me rejoice. I get sad when I hear of your struggles, I cheer at your achievements,I laugh at your jokes. I keep track of what you are doing, I pray for you, I know your struggles, etc.

We are a community here. We may never meet in person this side of eternity but we are a community here. All connected if just through a computer screen and words written on a keyboard. But we deeply love and we deeply care for each other and for that I am grateful.

In looking back at this year, there have been good things that came out of it.

Koda, by the grace of God, is cancer free. I've said it before, but I really thought we'd be saying goodbye to him. But he is thriving, spunky, spoiled rotten and healthy and for that I am so very grateful. Thank you Lord!

I started doing book reviews for Book Sneeze and recently got accepted by Tyndale to do book reviews for them. This was a big stretch for me to read a book and write a review about it; definitely a growth opportunity.

I dropped at least a pant size if not more. (I have scale issues so I avoid weighing myself) but I'm definitely at least one size of pants down and heading very closely to the next size down. I credit that to a 90-day challenge I did with Take Back Your Temple on emotional eating. I learned so much about myself doing the Bible reading during those 90 days. I would recommend it for anyone that is dealing with things. I went into the challenge not expecting much but came out a pant size smaller and with a better understanding of some things I needed to work on, including bitterness, hardened heart amongst other things.

We found a great church family that I am so very happy to be part of, again thank you Lord. I truly believe it is essential for a believer to be part of a church. No church is perfect, every church is made up of flawed people. Some succeed better than others, but I do believe that fellowship with others of similar beliefs is so important in doing life together. I am so thankful God orchestrated that hubby would be walking Koda at that park the same time as the lady from the church for them to make that connection. Honestly, being part of that church has been a life saver in so many ways amongst other things.

Being on a tight budget, I've learned to be creative in the kitchen. Okay, who am I fooling here. I've learned to look for recipes for hubby to be creative in the kitchen. He's the cook in the family; he truly enjoys doing so. I have made it a point to look for different things for us to cook since we aren't going out to restaurants these days and we usually try a new recipe at least three out of four Sundays a month. We've even experimented with eggplant, something I've wanted to do for a bit but never got the nerve up to do so. Found some recipes and cooked them and found they were so delicious.

I helped hubby with one of the hardest things he's ever had to do, grieve the loss of his mom. I am sorry that it did happen but because my mom died first, I knew what he was going through and the emotions he was dealing with. As much as I love my mom and as sad as I am that she is no longer here, but I do know I will see her again, I did tell him I was glad that she died first before his mom because I was able to help him deal with his emotions. One thing that I struggled with before was his not really being there for me after my mom died. We were able to talk this out and help to bring healing about it. He knew that I had intense grief, he just didn't know how to help me or what to say. Thankfully God put someone in my life who had experienced the death of a parent a short six weeks before my mom died that helped me with my grief. And almost five years later I was able to help hubby as he goes down his journey of grief and the new normal he has with his mom not being there.

I did not delete this blog in 2011. That is a first for me! I went on blog breaks but did not delete it. For you faithful readers who have stuck with me through thick and thin, through delete and not delete, that is a major accomplishment, don't you think?

I got to see my sister and her amazing family for the first time in six years and spend time with them this past June. Need to make sure it is not another six years before we get together. I am also closer in location with my brother as well as my niece and her family. Whenever we get together, it is such a blessing. They truly are the best.

I continue to be amazed at how good God has been to me and how he has provided, protected and been there for me. He has never let me down, nor ever will. And for that I am grateful.

So on to 2012. I have no idea what is in store for me and my family. I know God does and I know he will guide me as he deems fit.

And I hope each and everyone of you will continue to be with me as we see what is in store for us. I thank you all for your prayers, your support, your friendship, your comments, your love.

I wish you all an almost happy 2012 and the most joyous of the rest of the Christmas season!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

don't forget

Participating again with Cate for 6WS.  Here's mine for this week:

Remember, do not drink and drive.

Just sick about this. Local story. Man driving home after holiday party. He plows into car going very slow. Causes fiery crash. Two innocent people lose their lives. He walks away. (Gets arrested thankfully). He can't even comprehend what he did because he's too drunk. He tells police all he wanted to do was to get home...........

Holiday season. Just remember, do not drink and drive. Designate a nondrinking driver, call a cab.

If you got kids, drill it into them. Do not drink and drive. Tell them not to get into a car with someone who has been drinking. Tell them to call you any time of day or night and you'll come and get them, no questions asked.

Just so sad. Life is too short as it is to have it end so tragically because of someone's stupid decision. Three lives ruined, families mourning loss of loved ones, hard to do any time, harder at holidays.

To play along or read more entries, click here.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

how old?

Playing along with Cate's 6WS this first Saturday of December.  Here is mine for this week:

Hard to believe, look who's seven!

Koda's birthday was December 1; he's seven years old!! I can't believe it. He'll always be my puppy like I said before.  I remember the day he came to live with us, 02/11/2005.  He came from Alabama, took three planes to get to Montana. Last one off the plane, but worth the wait.

He came from a litter of nine pups. Can you imagine?

They named him Smarty. He has lived up to that, LOL. I said it before and I'll say it again "He's smarter than me".

He helped us find our last three out of four churches. He tied our family together through some terribly tough times when we had nothing in common.

He truly is a blessing and great gift from God.

By the grace of God he is doing well after being treated for lymphoma this year.

Happy Belated Birthday Koda!!

(and yes, he did get a birthday treat or two or three or four.........)

to check out more entries or play along, click here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree

I am participating in Virtual Advent Tour; here is a little about it:

Virtual Advent tour first started when we pondered why should the kids get all the fun of opening a box on the advent calendar and finding a treat in there, and how could we have some blogging fun with a similar concept? So the Virtual Advent tour was born.

Each day anyone who wants to participate takes turns sharing a treat with our friends here in blogland. For example it could be something about your family traditions, recipes, your country's holiday traditions, or a favourite Christmas memory, movie, book, song...anything you like. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas we would like to hear about what your family does during the holiday season, whether it be celebrating Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or whatever it is that you do during this time.

To read more about it, click here, or to check out other entries from now until Christmas Eve.

I signed up a few weeks ago and got assigned December 1st.  I wasn't sure what to write, lots of memories I could write about, lots of traditions but nothing really stuck with me until last night. And it will make sense if you stick with me through the post, you know me, I can never tell a short story.

My mom was born in 1921 and her Christmases were so different than our Christmases. They never got store bought gifts, in fact rarely got gifts other than fruit or nuts or special treats her mom would make and they never had a Christmas tree. So when she started working and had more of a disposable income so to speak, she wanted a Christmas tree. She went out with the help of some of my uncles, bought a Christmas tree, the decorations, lights, etc. Put up the Christmas tree. But forgot to "balance" the tree. They put all the ornaments on the front of the tree and it was top heavy so to speak, so it fell over in the middle of the night, causing a ruckus with the noise. Lots of glass ornaments were broken. However, she just picked it up, cleaned up the mess, bought new ornaments, learned her lesson and redecorated the tree.

I never forgot her lesson when decorating trees over the years to balance it out and make sure ornaments were all over the tree.

Growing up as a child, the highlight of the holiday season was getting the Christmas tree and decorating it. My birthday is very close to Christmas. My mom was very sensitive to the fact that my birthday did not get "lost" in the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas. Never had my gifts wrapped in Christmas wrapping paper. Always had a cake. In our early years, she wouldn't even put up the Christmas tree until after my birthday.

As I got older and realized what she was doing, I asked if we could have the tree up earlier than just a short period before Christmas so our tradition as a family was to put the tree up two weekends before Christmas. My mom was a widow, raising three kids on her own, without a car in Southern California. We were fortunate to be able to walk to the store, school, church, etc. She was fiercely independent and would rarely ask for help of others, though others readily wanted to help her and offer help. Neighbors or family friends would offer to take us to get a Christmas tree when December rolled around. Some years she would accept their help, but one year she didn't want to so one night she, my brother and me went to a Christmas tree lot about 10 blocks from where we lived and purchased our tree for the season. We walked home carrying the tree between my brother and me; he in the front, me in the back, and then we would rotate positions. I still remember that night with fondness, the gaiety of carrying a six foot tree between two elementary school kids, just excited to get home and put it up.

As it happens, we grew up and we all got married and started our own traditions with our families. I went from live trees to artificial trees and really liked the artificial trees with lights already on it. Got into the habit of putting the tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving and taking it down before New Year's Day, usually around December 28. The kids would always be excited to decorate and I would impress upon them to decorate the entire tree, front and back, but often found myself decorating those back branches. When they were finished decorating the tree, I was finished too. Some years there were lots of ornaments, some years sparingly decorated, but it was always "the best decorated tree ever".

Then 2006 happened. My mom died 12/13 of that year. We had relocated that year from Montana that I loved to Laguna Niguel California (close to Laguna Beach) that I was having a hard time adjusting to. Son got into some trouble with the law and things were very tense at home. I absolutely could not celebrate Christmas that year. The thought of putting up a tree literally had me sick, so we didn't put up a tree that year. Son was not happy about it, but I was barely hanging on and I felt bad but I just could not even think of putting up a tree. My mom had made so many of our ornaments from felt kits or beaded kits. Each ornament would have been filled with so many memories. That was a very tough Christmas indeed.

The next few years I made the effort to put up a tree but my heart never was into it. Son and his friend helped put the tree up in 2007, in 2008 we had a small tree that fit on a table so it was easy to put just a few ornaments on it. In 2009 we had son's girlfriend at the time living with us and she was very excited about Christmas so she and son put up the tree. In 2010 another girlfriend and son put up the tree. When we moved in January of this year, I told son he could have the tree this Christmas; I would keep it until he was ready in December and then give it to him with ornaments to decorate it. I didn't have any plans to put up a tree again.

This past Monday son came down for MIL's funeral. I gave him the Christmas tree. He said "are you going to put up a tree?" I said "probably not". He said "you have to have a tree" and offered to come back down to help put up another tree or to keep this tree and he would take the small tree. I told him to take the big tree and to enjoy it.

Last night I got a text message with a picture of a beautifully decorated Christmas tree tucked in the corner of a 2-bedroom apartment, lit and glowing. It looked perfect decorated there. It belonged there. The text came from my son's girlfriend. The relationship is on a bit of rocky ground and I'm not sure it is going to survive much past Christmas, but for right now, for this brief holiday season it is helping to provide Christmas joy. And I smiled, remembering previous years of Christmas joy when the tree went up, past ones with my mom as a young woman, not knowing where life would take her, us as young children excited to carry a tree home, me raising my kids with the excitement of the lights of the tree, the grief of losing a mother so close to the holidays, and now sharing what we had to bring joy, even though briefly, to a young couple.

Christmas trees are such a special part of the holiday season and filled with many traditions and memories. Some go to the forest and cut one down. Some string popcorn to put on it. Some put their trees up before Thanksgiving, some keep them up past New Year's Day.

One day I might put up another tree, but for now I'll enjoy my memories of years past and enjoy the pictures I see posted in blogs as I read them. Treasure your family, treasure your parents if they are still alive. Treasure the memories you are making.

It all goes by so fast!

Monday, November 28, 2011

leave the dog alone

Fact: Koda is one cute dog and friendly to people.

Fact: Koda does not like any other dog. No other dog. Got that? Not friendly to any other canine (or feline either).

Fact:  We live in a city where there is a leash law.

Fact: Some people choose to disregard or disobey the law.

Fact: Knowing Koda's dislike of other dogs, we go out of our way to keep him away from other dogs. Step off the beaten path, take different walking trails, etc.

Fact: Other people think they can use our dog to help socialize their dog or just to socialize with their dog.

I am sooooo tired of this (last fact). Case in point, last evening walking Koda down at the marina where we like to walk him, especially since it is dark in the evenings now and there is a bit more light down there.

Two people walking towards us, two dogs. One on a leash. One not.

The one not on the leash comes running over to Koda (it is a small dog, three times smaller than Koda or more).

Hubby calls out "this one is not friendly". Can he be more clearer in what he is saying? Do we need to draw a picture too?

Gentleman says "don't worry, she's okay".

Hubby repeats "he's not".

Meanwhile said little dog is right by Koda and what does Koda do? Bark and growl at it.

Gentleman said "why are you barking at my dog??" (maybe because you didn't listen when we warned you that he's not friendly?)

He comes closer to us (still not calling his dog back) and asks what the name of our dog is. We tell him Koda. We have to tell him two times (by now I'm thinking the guy might have had a bit to drink some place). He says Koda's a beautiful dog (we agree).

He says as Koda continues to bark and growl at his dog "just let the dogs be dogs" (and perhaps bite your dog???? is that what you want????)

We try to get past them and do. As he is walking away he is saying "know what the dogs are talking about??"

Hubby says "what?"

Gentleman said "he's just upset because he's not small and he can't be off leash roaming where he wants to be". (GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR)

Hubby wishes them a good night and we walk away.

I say "what a jerk" (sorry but he was, not hubby, the other man). Obnoxious. Totally.

When we saw them on the way back we walked WAY out of their way to avoid running into them again.

But how much more clearer can we make it? And what gives other dog owners the right to let their dog approach Koda and assume he is friendly? He's on a leash, we warn them, we go out of our way to avoid them if possible. And no, no amount of socialization is going to change how he feels about other dogs. He's gotten a bit better in that we can actually walk 10 feet closer to another dog (in the past we would have to cross the street if approaching another dog) but he is not that "I'll let you sniff me" kind of dog.

Why don't people listen?????

So leave the dog alone. Keep your dog on a leash. Pick up after your dog.

That's all we ask. is that too much to ask and expect of others?