Saturday, August 31, 2013

Day 31: Old, Boring 50: A New #Bucket List

  1. Travel – when I was eighteen, I wrote a bucket list of places I wanted to go in the world - that seemed like a totally unattainable goal. But less than ten years later, had gone almost everywhere on that list (and a lot of places that were not on the list). Here are a few places I still hope to see in my lifetime: New York City, Washington, DC, The Great Wall of China, Japan, Jerusalem, and Mexico.
  2. Publish – get a book published.
  3. Learn – to cook new dishes, dance new dances, paint beautiful pictures, and make quilts. I have a lot of academic knowledge; I’m ready to learn some fun stuff.

Wow – my list is short (but dense!). Any suggestions?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Day 30. A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself.

August 30, 2013

Dear Suzi,

You’re a good mom. You always put your kids’ needs before your own. You’re a good friend and willing to give more than you get (or expect) in return. You love your parents and siblings. You adore and respect your husband. You spend your days helping young adults improve their lives.

You stand up for what’s right. You’re brave.



PS It was difficult to write such a conceited blog post. Please leave a comment about something (or everything) you love about yourself so I don’t feel like such a narcissist!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day 29. Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.

I hope to get more organized (see day #1) so I can live more peacefully and find things when I need them. This was an easy day.

What’s something you want to change about yourself? 


Do you have a handy tip or helpful hint on getting more organized?

Please share…

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Day 28. What if you were #pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?

I would be thrilled if I were pregnant. I’m not expecting to have more children at the ripe old age of 40, but I would welcome one if God blessed our family this way.

I love babies. I love being pregnant. I love nursing and cuddling my babies. I miss those days. So, while it’s nice that my children are all school aged, another one would be fabulous.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 27. What’s the best thing going for you right now? #blessings

I’m gonna blow this by having more than one “best” thing. I can’t help it. Life is good!

I’m very blessed with an amazing family: a loving husband, awesome kids, supportive parents – and that’s just my immediate family! I also appreciate my siblings, nieces, nephews, and grandnephews. So much love!

I’m also very grateful for the new job I started this week as a school reading specialist.  I spent the past two years as an adjunct writing professor – a job I absolutely loved. But the new job brings full time income and health insurance – wow, what a luxury. But the best benefit is that my children attend the same school, so I can help provide for my family without being away from them.

Your turn: life can be full of disappointments and stress – but what is the best thing you’ve got going for you right now?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 26. Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why? #suicide

Never seriously. I have had some dark days – the most pronounced when I experienced two miscarriages in just a few months’ time (I wrote about that experience in May in the blog post titled “Lost Babies”).

I could never consider ending my own life primarily because my children need their mother and I wouldn’t / couldn’t abandon them. Secondarily, and not incidentally, I have a serious and sometimes debilitating fear of Hell, and would expect an expedient and irreversible one-way pass to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks if I were to make that choice. Please understand that I’m not judging others or stating what I think anyone else’s final fates / destination to be. I also wrote about this subject in January in the blog post title “Thou Shalt Not Kill Thyself”.

Have YOU ever considered giving up?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Day 25. The reason you believe you’re still alive today.

I’m often shocked that I AM alive. I’ve taken enough chances to not be. I bungeed jumped at age nineteen – what was I thinking? That was terrifying. I’ve travelled all over four continents ignoring the advice to get inoculated against serious diseases. Twice, I’ve survived an unwanted game of Russian Roulette at a range of about four feet. I’ve ridden on broken-down rickety airplanes and as a passenger with irresponsible drivers. I’ve been in a few serious car crashes (cars were totaled). I’ve nearly been hit by numerous semi-trucks, pickups, etc.  

I believe I’m alive because I have unfinished business. The most pressing of which is raising my children to be successful, god-fearing, productive members of society.

While I’m alive I hope that God will entrust me with meaningful tasks of service, encouragement, etc.

Readers: why do you believe you’re still alive?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Day 24. Make a playlist to someone; #songs for my #daughter

This playlist is dedicated to my daughter.

This One’s For the Girls, by Martina McBride

I chose this song as an encouragement for you as you grow up and go through all the stages of being female. You have a much harder road to navigate as a young lady, but God only gives us what we can handle and you are strong.

You’re Gonna Miss This, by Trace Adkins

Because I already miss you at younger ages and I see you growing up so fast – in such a hurry to be a big girl. And then, someday, you’ll look back and miss the carefree days of childhood, too.

A Mother’s Prayer, by Celine Dion

Because I want you to walk with God and in His protection.

Butterfly Kisses, by Bob Carlisle
I’ll never forget yours. I miss them.

Brave, by Sara Bareilles

You are already a brave little girl. You stand up for what’s right. I just pray that you never let the bullies of this world silence you. Keep doing what is right. Stand up for yourself and others. I know you will.

This list could go on and will continue to grow as you do. xo

Friday, August 23, 2013

Day 23. Something you wish you had done in your life.

I wish I had invested in real estate. Houses were so much more affordable twenty years ago. And it would be great to have the financial security of rental houses now when my kids are growing up and in several years when they will need help funding their college education. It would also be great to be able to give them a starter home as a wedding gift.

Ah, hindsight.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 22. Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life. #regret

“Some people say they wouldn't change a thing but I would.”
Kenny Chesney

I wish I hadn’t made a lot of the mistakes I’ve made. I wish I were smart enough to learn from the mistakes of others. I wasn’t. I pray my children will be wiser than I was. But, since this is just a singular question (something), I will answer it with a single event: I wish I hadn’t quit the full time teaching job I had four years ago. I did it on impulse thinking there were plenty more opportunities for an experienced teacher. Unfortunately, my decision coincided with a bad economy and massive teacher layoffs. So my family lost a lot of income while I worked as a part-time instructor with no benefits.

While it wasn’t the wisest decision, blessings came out of it. I learned a lot. I spent a lot of time volunteering in my children’s classrooms. I picked up another master’s degree (yeah, and a lot more student loan debt – so maybe that wasn’t the best decision either).

Join me in this tough truth challenge, please: what’s something you regret or wish you hadn’t done?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Day 21. Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?

I drive to the hospital praying like crazy. I sit by her bedside holding her hand and pray. If she doesn’t make it, I spend the rest of my life regretting our fight. If she does make, it I spend the rest of my life making sure to be a good friend to her.

Either way, I learn to be kinder, gentler, more loving with people. I try to resolve conflicts calmly and fairly. I am a better person for having gone through so much guilt and sadness.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day 20. Your views on #drugs and #alcohol.

Drugs are bad, don’t do them. Alcohol can become an addiction very easily. Alcohol often gives us license to sin. We blame it on the alcohol. Well, here's a simple solution - don't drink more than you can handle. One drink is plenty. None is better.

If it doesn't cause problems with others (those who are recovering alcoholics or folks who believe any amount of alcohol consumption is sinful), I think an occasional drink, in the safety of your home, is fine as long as it stays occasional.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Day 19. What do you think of #religion ? Or what do you think of #politics ? #Christian #Democrat

I think religion has been misused as a way to control people. I believe in the Bible and I believe in having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I am a born-again Christian. That is my religion.

Politically, I am a Democrat. That doesn’t mean I support abortion (I don’t). It means that I support education and helping people who need it. I want to keep assault weapons out of the general population, because keeping innocent people (children) safe is more important to me than the perceived rights of the NRA.

I also think that religion and politics are too-often intermingled. I have heard people in church loudly support the Republican Party, under the apparent assumption that all Christians are Republicans. That doesn’t compute with me.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day 18. Your views on gay marriage

I believe in separation of church and state. I personally believe that the Bible is true and accurate; however, I do not believe I can or should impose my beliefs on others. It’s a dangerous road to try to mix religion and politics, because the possibility will always exist that someday it won’t be YOUR belief system directing those laws and policies.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day 17. A book you’ve read that changed your views on something. #LeftBehind

The Left Behind Series, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. I know the series is not gospel, but it certainly unpacked the Book of Revelation for me. I had been warned against even reading Revelation as a young adult. Reading the Left Behind series really make the prophesies real for me (and millions of other readers, I’m sure).

How would you answer this question: what book has changed your views on something?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 16. Someone or something you definitely could live without #rejection #shunning

There are plenty of “someones” I can live without. I realized that when I was eighteen years old and nearly 100% of the someones I was “permitted” to associate with really wanted little or nothing to do with me. I discovered it again when, at age twenty-one, I married outside the FOC, and everyone I had known or loved up to that point shunned me.

So, to answer this question, let me just say this: I can live without ANYONE who would shun me or cut me out of their life. That’s it. And guess what? As much as I want people in my life, I’m not going to cry myself to sleep over people who clearly despise and hate me.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Day 15. Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it

Peace: the kind that comes from living a life that aligns with my beliefs. We cannot live at odds with our beliefs. We either change our beliefs or change our actions. Too often, it is the former that is chosen. Or simply trying to sleepwalk through our days without examining how our lives are aligning with our actions.

How would you answer today’s truth challenge? What (or whom) can you just not live without?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Day 14. A hero who has let you down

Michael Jackson. Okay, I know that’s a weird answer, considering that on yesterday’s truth blog I said I didn’t have any favorite artists. But, I had a favorite singer back in fifth grade: MJ. His was the first music video I ever saw (Thriller). I thought he was so cute. I loved watching him perform with his red leather jacket (my mom bought me a vinyl knock off of it that I proudly wore), his single white glove, his moon walk.

And then he just got weird with all his plastic surgery and the accusations of child sex abuse. I don’t know if those accusations were true, but I do remember seeing him in an interview talking about having sleepovers with other people’s children (same bed). He was just really odd.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Day 13. A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough days #music #hardtimes

As I wrote yesterday, I was born without musical talent. I do enjoy both kinds of music (country and western), and Christian worship music (both the old hymns and contemporary worship music). That being said, I don’t really have a “music saved my life/soul/etc.” type of story to tell.

The closest I can come to answering this question is to say that when I am in a bad mood: feeling down, overwhelmed, etc. I have regularly been uplifted by listening to worship music at home while doing chores, or in my car while stuck in traffic.

Okay, readers: I’ll bet you can all give a better answer than mine! What band or artist has helped you through tough times?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Day 12. Something you never get compliments on #cantsing #tonedeaf

Oh, thank goodness. A chance to be light-hearted!

I never get compliments on my voice. I sang to my oldest child daily when he was a baby. And then, when he was about three years old, I was belting one out in the car when I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw him holding his pudgy little hands over his ears. Uh, oh. The kid had a better sense of tone than I did. Now, if either of my children hear me singing, they beg: “Mommy, please stop!”

My dad was always singing when I was growing up – he still does it sometimes. I loved hearing his voice and I still remember the words to the old songs he would sing to us.

My parents put me through private piano and violin lessons as a child, but I could never accurately tune my violin. The only way I could play semi-accurately was by using guide stickers for my fingers. I just have no musical abilities or talent.

Your turn: Is there something you NEVER get compliments on?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Day 11. Something people seem to compliment you the most on

I get complimented on my outgoing disposition. People say I’m fearless. I think this is cool, because I used to be very introverted. I remember a teacher talking to me in the hallway at school when I was in fifth grade, and I was so mortified to be put on the spot that I ran into the bathroom in tears.

When I left the FOC and started trying out new churches, I was afraid of people talking to me. I certainly didn’t start conversations.

The first time I had to give a speech in college? I stood in front of the class shaking and speechless. Now, and for the past ten years, I lecture and speak to groups of people on a regular basis.

Regular exposure, practice, and determination have changed my previous awkward wallflower personality into a person who loves public speaking, meeting new people, and trying new things.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Day 10. Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know

Wow – this truth challenge is harsh! There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “People come into your life for a reason or a season.” Another version is: “You’re either a lesson or a blessin’.” Both sentiments ring true for my experience. Yes, I know some difficult people – I’d be willing to bet someone out there considers me one of their “difficult people.” But, each person who has been or currently is in my life has taught me something, helped me grow, or just plain been a blessing. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Day 09. Someone you didn’t want to let go of

This is something very unique for a person of my age (and background): I have not lost any close relatives. My grandparents all died when I was young – my dad’s parents before I was old enough to remember them. I knew my maternal grandmother just a little bit; and, I only met my maternal grandfather once before he died.

So, to make this authentic, I will change the question to future tense: I don’t want to let go of my parents.  I think it’s scary and sad and vulgar to even think of them dying. I love living near them and that my kids get to spend time with their grandparents on a regular basis. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Day 08. Someone who made your life difficult.

This is quite the truth challenge. It’s easier to be truthful about myself than write about other people – particularly those who have hurt me.


See also day four: besides severe emotional damage, the person stole from me. And the time I had to spend working to make up for the stolen money has taken precious time and energy from my family.


Will I survive? Yep, I always do. Did this person win by “getting away” with all the damages and thievery? Seems like it at times, but I won’t dwell on negative people.


Has someone made your life difficult? (no names please!).

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Day 07. Someone Who Has Made Your Life Worth Living For

Jesus. Jesus gives me hope and a future and a mission in life.  

Without Jesus, I would be living in fear of Hell. Every day I wake up and walk under the umbrella of grace provided by a perfect savior. 

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life though Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 6:23

Do you know Him?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Day 06. Something You Hope You Never Have to Do

I hope (and pray) I never have to bury a child. I cannot imagine the grief of those who go through this, whether their child is four years old, twenty-four, or forty. I just cannot imagine. My heart goes out to every parent who has had to do this, or will have to do so in the future.

 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
John 14:1-2

Monday, August 5, 2013

Day 05. Something You Hope to Do in Your Life

The longest-lasting desire of my life (that is yet unaccomplished) is to become a published author. Maybe not my memoir, though: I’m having second thoughts about going public with what I’ve written. Though I suppose I will eventually get it in the condition to publish. I am working on a new book – a work of fiction.

I’ve heard that many writers will finish a first book and move on to the second (which I’m personally finding much easier to write) and then later go back and revisit / edit the first. That’s my current plan because inspiration has hit and I’m enjoying the honeymoon phase of writing this new story.

I’ve wanted to be an author since I was seven years old, and that drive has not left me.

I’d love to hear your answer to this question: what is something YOU hope to do in your life?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Day 04. Something You Have to Forgive Someone For

I really cannot say much. This person has done a lot of damage to me and my family, but writing about it could make it worse. Because it’s in the person’s character to seek damages, get revenge, whatever.

But, I do try to forgive. I’ve been trying to forgive for years. It’s not easy. If someone wrongs me, I can forgive them and move on. But when someone hurts those I love (my family), forgiveness is much more difficult.

It would be easier if the person would own their actions (apologize, ask forgiveness, make amends). That will probably never happen.

I think about God’s sacrifice of his only son, Jesus Christ. God forgives us sinners for whom his son had to die. There’s nothing I shouldn’t be able to forgive. I am trying.

But if ye forgive not men for their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Matthew 6:15
I am trying.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Day 03. Something You Have to Forgive Yourself For

Well, this up my alley since guilt is my primary emotion. It's also my secondary emotion. Add motherhood to that tendency and the list of things I have to forgive myself for is constantly adding up.

The first big parenting mistake I made still haunts me.
When I became pregnant with my oldest child, at age 28, I was determined to do everything right. I was older than average for a first-time mom, and I had had some time to observe those around me. I had traveled the world, earned two college degrees, and accomplished a fair amount of professional success. I was ready to be a mom.

Of course, I planned to breastfeed my child for a year at least. I didn’t have any bottles or formula on hand because I had no intention of needing them. When my baby was born (twelve days after the due date), a lactation consultant came into my room and taught me how to properly nurse my baby. The next day, we went home. And he cried all night.

He wouldn’t nurse. He wouldn’t sleep. And he just didn’t look right. His fontanel was sunken. He just screamed and screamed. And I was completely exhausted and terrified. It didn’t occur to me that he would be starving yet. My brain was running on empty.

The next day, around noon, a nurse called to check on us. I told her the baby wasn’t eating or sleeping and she told me to bring him to the emergency room. It was good that she called. I had been waiting for my mom to come (she was planning to come over that evening) and it might’ve been too late if I had waited.

My baby, who was born at 8 pounds, 14 ounces, weighed just 7 pounds, 8 ounces at three days old. The inside of his mouth was dry. And my milk wasn’t in. It broke my heart to see him latch right onto a bottle and drink thirstily. He was contentedly asleep in minutes.

My milk came in a few days later, but my baby was by then accustomed to the bottle. For the next few months, I pumped breast milk around the clock and to feed to my baby. When he was four months old, he finally began to nurse and continued to do so until after his first birthday. Breastfeeding that baby was the best accomplishment of my life.

But, when I think of the first few days of his life, I cringe. He is a bright kid, who struggles with a condition called Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism. The cause of Asperger’s is not known. Whether it is biological or environmental, or a mixture of the two, is not fully known. I tend to think it’s mostly biology, since my son has relatives with the condition.

But I do wonder about the rough start he had.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Day 02. Something You Love About Yourself

I love that I am tenacious. When I decide to do something, I do it. If I’m told that I can’t do something, it makes me want to prove the nay-sayer wrong.

As I look through things I wrote in journals as a child, I saw my life as very narrowly limited. And yet, I dreamed of becoming a writer. There was a voice inside me from as far back as I can remember screaming, “I will not be limited.”

I have faced challenges that most people have not, and I am stronger for having walked through them. I’m not just talking about being born and raised in the FOC, though that was certainly a strange and challenging way to start my life. I’m talking about the things I’ve walked through since I left.

I will not give up trying to make a better life for myself and my family.

I will not be beaten down.

I will not be limited.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Day 01. Something You Hate About Yourself

I hate that I am disorganized. I spend far too much time trying to “get organized” and never seem to get there. I also waste far too much time looking for lost items (and often having to replace those items, only to locate them as soon as it’s too late).

Recently, in a teacher training meeting, the facilitator asked the group of 60+ teachers what the top qualities of a good teacher were. Near the top of every list was this: organization. I do have organizational systems in place, but I just often get inundated with stacks of disorganized papers and only 3.5 seconds between tasks. I find myself stuffing these papers into manila folders (at random), only to have to spend the majority of my grading/prep time organizing papers into classes and assignments.

I have a sign up at home that says, “A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place.” The sign is supposed to encourage me to finally get organized. It has been hanging there for over a year. I feel guilty when I walk by it. I wish I had time to finally get organized.