Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Scarlet Cord of Hope Book Order


My book A Scarlet Cord of Hope is almost here!  A year ago October, God clearly opened the door for me to write a book and share my testimony.  I continue to say, as I have said all along, I am not a writer, but simply a woman with a story.  What a journey it has been for me! As of today, December 12, 2009, we are offering a special pre-order price of $10.00 (plus $3.00 shipping) until December 31, 2009. 
The anticipated arrival of the book is January 15, 2010.  January 1, 2010 the price will go to $15.00 (plus $3.00 shipping).  If you are interested in pre-ordering please email me at sheryl@sherylgriffin.com and I will email you a pre-order form.  If you are reading this after the December 31,2009 deadline, please know you can still order the book, but it will be at the $15.00 price, just email me

My friends please pray for me as I walk through this new season in my life. I confess I have been anxious all day as I have started marketing my book. I know that I know, this is what I was suppossed to do, but it makes me feel very vulnerable.  This has been a journey of faith for me.  Thank you for being here with me!

Let me know if you would like an order form or if you or someone you know would be intersted in receiving a press packet for future speaking engagments.

Thank you for your prayers, support, and encouragments! (*pls. forgive any formatting issues you see-I am still getting use to the new blog format)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Parades


Everybody loves a parade! The only parade I ever recall participating in was an Easter Parade in Hayward, California when I was a child around five years old. My cousin and I wore Easter hats that our mom's made for us from paper plates. I don't really remember much else about that day or the parade. I am sure I have been to other parades in my childhood, but I don't really remember any details.

Recently my son and I were in our second parade. My son is a Boy Scout and with that activity comes the opportunity for many action packed adventures. Last year was our first experience participating in a parade and we had a blast. This year I realized why I love it so much. I enjoy being around people and you have an opportunity to share in a moment, quick as it is, with total strangers. For a brief moment you can share pure joy with someone. It is exhilarating as you ride through the parade route, you have this freedom to wave, smile and shout out MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone AND the wonderful thing is, they are waving, smiling and shouting back at you. Its a moment in time where two strangers can look each other in the eye without the worries of life and smile at one another. It's a moment of peace between two people. I also love when I recognize people in the crowd and you call their name or they call out yours. It's like two long lost friends who are so glad to see each other-even if that person is someone you see regularly. It doesn't seem to matter whether your skin color is black, white, brown, or tan. It doesn't matter if you are old or young. It doesn't matter if you are rich or poor. It doesn't even matter if you speak the same language. A parade brings everyone out and it seems that you are able to put aside the stress of your life for a moment and make eye contact and smile at someone whether you know them or not.

This past experience has really challenged me to make a point to look strangers (and even more so, the people I do know) in the eye as we pass by one another whether its in the grocery store, the doctors office, out on a walk, or in the work place, and smile and say hello in a more meaningful way. The challenge is to take a moment to connect with someone you don't know or even connect deeper with those you do know.
*the photo is of my cousin Stacey and I wearing our homemade Easter bonnets for the parade

Friday, November 20, 2009

Papa










November 18th 2009, would have marked my grandfather's 91st birthday. Some of my best childhood memories are when I would spend weekends at Papa and Gonga's home. Papa was the name we called my grandfather and Gonga was the name we called my grandmother (Gonga came about when my cousin and I tried to say Grandma-somehow it came out as Gonga and it stuck) . They were my dad's parents. Sadly, Papa passed away on October 4, 1997 from Lung Cancer.

I am sure he was not always the perfect husband nor the perfect father, but I do know he was ALWAYS the perfect grandpa! He loved all of us grandkids more than life itself it seemed. I hope to carry on his grandparenting legacy of unconditional love and desire for quality time with my own grandchildren someday.
In honor of his birthday I wanted to tell you a few of my favorite memories or facts about my Papa, Gordon Silvy Tinsley.

1. He worked at US Pipe for 45 years. On an occasional Saturday, when he had to work or check on something, if my cousin and I were spending the weekend, he would take us with him. We loved going with him. He would always make it an fun adventure. US Pipe was on a very large piece of land and there were lots of empty space and wild critters around. He would drive around looking for things to point out. Our favorite was when he pointed to the Jack Rabbits as they would run from den to den as we drove around.

2. He was a hard worker, honest and fair in all areas of his life.

3. He was always friendly to everyone.

4. He loved when my cousins and I would race to greet him at as he got home from work. No matter how much stress was in his day, when he saw us, he left it all behind.

5. Whenever we spent the night we never brought PJ's because we ALWAYS slept in one of Papa's white tee shirts.

6. He always slept with the window open (he loved to hear the sound of the rain splatter against the aluminum patio cover and feel the coolness of the night).

7. He was always very affectionate. Hugs and kisses were freely given for all hello's and goodbye's

8. He loved when my cousin Stacey and I would comb his hair (the few he had) and shave him (with his electric razor).

9. He always took time to ask how you were doing.
10.He affectionately called each grandchild "stinker" or "Knucklehead" from time to time.

11. He loved to eat (and Gonga was a good cook),

12. He loved sweets and always had a drawer full of cookies and junk food "hidden" in the kitchen (every grandchild knew exactly where this drawer was).

13. He was generous. Christmas was one of his favorite holidays. He always made sure my grandmother bought LOTS of gifts for us to unwrap under the Christmas tree. He loved to see us unwrap each and every gift.

14. He liked to camp, fish, and garden.

15. He served in the US Navy.
16. He always made me feel safe and important.

17. He would laugh at all the right times even if what you said was not all that funny.

18. He loved to watch (and read) Old Westerns.

19. Family was important to him.

20. Before his death in 1997 he accepted Christ in his heart. I look forward to someday seeing him in Heaven, and if I know Papa, he is probably sitting down on his favorite heavenly couch (my grandmother is sitting on the other side of the couch and my dad is sitting on the love seat diagonally across) surrounded by lots of children and listening to them tell stories, laughing at their jokes, and letting them comb his hair. He probably has a stash of cookies in a drawer somewhere and a smile on his face as he looks down and sees his daughter, all his grandchildren, his great grandchildren and even his great great grandson born this summer! We love you and miss you Papa!

*the photos: me and Papa 12/68, Papa approx 95/96, my cousin Stacey, Papa, me 08/68*

Monday, November 16, 2009

Keep Moving Forward


As you know by now I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder along with panic/anxiety. I started therapy almost three years ago. I have made a lot of progress in many areas of my life. In fact the book I wrote deals with my PTSD and panic/anxiety issues-why I have them, what I know now, what my life is like since my diagnosis, how everything in my life ties into this, and more importantly where does God fit into all of this.

There are still a few areas that I have not been able to fully deal with head on yet. I am diligently working towards that. I say "fully deal with" because I have dealt with these issues to some degree but to another degree I have not. Part of this means facing a certain person. Not necessarily having a confrontation or finger pointing session but just simply facing this person. My concern is that there will be a day when I have to face this person. It will be at my daughters wedding. A day I am looking forward to and a day I want to truly enjoy with her. This will be her day. A day everyone will put aside everything from the past to see the future in Lauren and Stephen's life together.

Part of my "stress" in realizing the reality of seeing this person face to face after many years, is all that I have been through since our last conversation three and half years ago. I am not the same woman I was then. I am also not willing to follow in certain patterns or paths that we once did before for many years. I have worked very hard to get where I am emotionally and mentally. My faith is strong, stronger than its ever been and I trust in Gods timing and purpose. Without my faith I would be lost and hopeless.

Its interesting to me that I can talk a strong talk and mean it with all my heart and have control of my thoughts and emotions during the day, but then night time comes, and my subconscious mind almost taunts me and I have awoken this past weekend one night with a panic attack and last night with a very vivid and frightening dream. In God's perfect timing of this weekend I had a doctor appointment already set for today. After talking things over with my doctor she helped me see that my subconscious (brain) and my body (via the panic attack) where letting me know that yes, you are still dealing with certain issues, and my brain and body are doing what I need them to do in helping me reprocess (not erase but reprocess) memories, situations, and feelings from the past. She told me this is a good thing. You, see the trigger was that this person is here in town visiting and although I wont see this person at all its the fact of knowing this person is here that triggered my subconscious.

Knowing that my brain, body and heart are all working together to keep me on the path of healing and wholeness gives me such relief. Once again it shows me Gods hand is on me and His timing is perfect. I am trying to live out my quote...One day at a time. One moment at a time. There is hope!

I wanted to share this blog because I know there are many others who struggle with similar situations and I was almost feeling discouraged by my recent panic attack and dream. I felt like I must be going backwards but my doctor assured me that I am not. Its part of the healing process. Part of moving forward is sometimes having to look back, acknowledging and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Never give up hope! I also chose this photo of two friends walking forward together...because we are never alone!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OsyiGgSlqY (I am technology challenged but here is a link of one of my favorite songs and a great reminder to me this day)

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Woman of Moderation

A few months ago I signed up for a Women's Bible Study group at our church. As I perused the options, I was looking for one that was fairly close to my home, as well as a title that would jump out at me. When I saw the study titled....A Woman of Moderation, I was intrigued and then when I saw it was within a fifteen minute drive from my home, I knew this was the one for me. A few weeks past before it actually started, I was getting excited thinking about the study. Was I finally going to learn the secret to being a woman of moderation in all areas of my life?

I unfortunately missed the first night but as I excitedly came the following week, I realized this study was not exactly what I thought it was. It is in deed about being a woman of moderation but it has a main focus on food. The author, from a very young age, has apparently struggled with food and weight. Her mother forced her to go to a "fat camp" as a teenager and she was only ten pounds over weight. While at the camp she was considered an outcast because she didn't fit in with all of the other girls who were well over a ten pound weight gain. She was miserable and felt ashamed that she let her mother down by being "overweight" so when she came home, she claims she promptly put the ten pounds she had lost back on, plus an additional five! That chapter gave me a bigger glimpse into the authors heart and I began to understand a little more of why she (in my opinion) was so over the top with this book.

In spite of my opinion, the author does have a lot of good points and information, like how easy it is to become consumed with food. Some of us eat out of stress or loneliness, some overeat out of fear or depression. Some of us over eat because that is simply how we were raised, "finish your plate", "here have some more", or fond childhood memories with a family member who indulged us with food treats. Some of us overeat because we just like to eat and it tastes good.

I am determined to find a balance in my own life from this study. My hearts desire is to be a woman of moderation in all areas of my life. From food, to attitude, to TV, music, reading material, computer time, exercise (well, I need to start this first to find my balance of moderation), time spent away from my family, time spent with my family, church commitments, friendships, keeping up with the house and yard, the list can go on and on, but the point is really the same whether it is food or anything else if its not done in moderation, it is not helpful or benefical.

The definition according to Dictionary.com for moderation is

1. The quality of being moderate, restraint, avoidance of extremes or excess.
2. Being within reasonable limits, not excessive or extreme.

My prayer is to honestly examine all areas of my life and make sure I am within a limit or boundary of moderation. I know certain areas will be more challenging than others. Please feel free to share any tips or insight into your own life with areas of struggle or success in being a woman or man of moderation.

*Always remember its about striving for each day and when we fail, we can by Gods grace and mercy get back up and try again!

One day at a time, one moment at a time, there is hope

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fear



Fear is a small word but it can carry a lot of weight. I confess that fear has been a constant companion to me for most of my life. I did not realize how much fear controlled me until I was diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and panic/anxiety almost three years ago. Over the past several years my eyes have gradually opened up to how much fear has been in my heart and mind. Fear can cripple you. Fear can make you waste precious time and energy on unnecessary things. Fear can place you in a position to make a decision that you really dont want to make, but you are to afraid, so you make anyway. Fear can make you into somebody that God did not intend you to be.

Most of the fears I had were fears of disappointing someone, fears of not making the right choice, fears of making someone mad, fear of rejection, fear of what others could do to me or those I care about (emotional or physical harm), fear of the unknown, fear of not being in control, fear of others being out of control, fear of the "what if''s". I am sure I could add a lot more to this list if I kept going. Maybe you can as well.

Over the past several years I have been able to face certain fears and look back into my past and deal with them head on. It has not been easy and at times I did not want to push forward but I am glad, as I look back now, that I did.

As I began to open my eyes to the fears I had I saw patterns in my life. Which led me to question myself and wonder why I made certain choices and decisions in my life. Why did I marry a man who I knew had abusive tendency's and why did I choose to stay. Why did I allow my fear of what others would think or feel dictate things I did or did not do. Why did I feel so helpless to change my circumstances through out my life. Why did I assume so much of other peoples responsibilities. Why did I let fear have so much power over me.

As I began to unravel the tangled ball of fear in my life I started to see some of the answers to my questions. It took a lot of years for my fears to develop and they have not gone away quickly. Slow and steady, one by one, I am facing them. I am still facing some of them to this day. It's a work in progress. I have more hope today than I have ever had in my entire lifetime. I live my life trying to find the balance of wise fear and unhealthy fear. Sometimes that is a challenge but I know that I am not alone.

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit Romans 15:13

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Update....


Well my friends, its official! I signed a contract last night for my book A Scarlet Cord of Hope. I am in awe of what God has done. I had no idea that my journaling would turn into a book. I was trying to find answers to a lot of "why" questions in my life and before I knew it, I had a lot of answers and a manuscript in my hands. It will be approximately six weeks before I have a book ready to sell, so in the mean time can you please join me in praying for the final fine tune touches that need to happen, as well as the ministry opportunity that this has for a message of HOPE .

I will have a special pre-order opportunity for anyone who wants it. I will post information on this in the coming weeks.

Thank you very much for your prayers, support, and encouragement!

God is so good!

Isaiah 41:10 Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
ps the photo is me and Mary Catherine (my publisher) signing the contract!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dear Jaycee, I have been praying for you...

You have probably heard the news reports of the miraculous story of Jaycee Dugard. She was kidnapped at age eleven, she has been found alive and she is now twenty nine years old with two daughters. She was forced to live in unthinkable living conditions and situations.

As I have shared openly on this blog, I have post traumatic stress disorder and panic/anxiety. Because I have these issues I have to be very careful of news, stories, or such that will cause a trigger. I know stories that have to do with abuse especially to women and children trigger me. I will confess though, they are sometimes a magnet. I am drawn to them because I need to hope there is going to be a good outcome. Usually there is not and then I find myself thinking of their situation and my mind fills with thoughts, fears, and anxiety about my own children or me. I try to use those thoughts as prayer pointers. Once they pop in my head instead of dwelling on the situation I pray for that person or their family and force myself to move on from there.

I can clearly remember hearing the news reports about Jaycee's kidnapping eighteen years ago. My heart raced with fear for her. I prayed for months on end for her and her family. My daughter was was two and a half years old at the time of the news, she is now almost twenty one. My heart cries out for Jaycee's mom who has missed her daughter for all these long hard years. My heart cries out for Jaycee for all she has endured. She IS a survivor. She and her daughters will have a long road of recovery.

I know over the past eighteen years her story has "popped in my head" from time to time and each time I would find myself filling with fear and then I would remind myself pray, pray for her and her family and then let it go, otherwise I would truly find myself wanting to live in a bubble with my children. The world at times can be so evil and I will never comprehend what gives another person the idea that it is ok to bring harm, torture or violence to another person. I know we live in a fallen world and there is truly nothing new under the sun- the things going on today are the same things as went on in Bibical times, the only difference is the world now is filled with a lot more people.

There are numerous other families and situations that have come in and out of my mind over the years and with each time I pray and try my best to have hope for their families. Because of my PTSD and panic/anxiety it would be so easy for me to get swallowed up in fear but I know God is bigger. I have to remind myself to let my mind dwell on whatever is pure, lovely, of good repute. I must cling to my faith in those times and pray without ceasing.

If you are anything like me, I encourage you to use your fears and anxiety for "good" and not allow them to control you. As soon as you feel your mind start to wander in the "fear department", pray for whoever or whatever that situation is, journal your thoughts, talk to your spouse or a friend, read your Bible or write out scriptures that will encourage you. While we can not let fear control us, we still must be wise in our choices, and we must pray for those who cross our path whether it is physically, through the media, through an email, or through a prayer request.

Philippians 4:6-9 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Introduction chapter to A Scarlet Cord of Hope...my life living with guilt, shame, and fear

I would like to give you a preview of my book. Here is the introduction chapter.

Introduction.

As I sat on the front room couch with a blanket over me, I was watching the 10:00 news. I realized I was more tired than I thought I was. I normally watch the local news and flip through various channels until I feel tired enough for sleep. I suddenly felt more than ready for bed. I turned off the TV and went to my bedroom. I got into my bed, next to my sleeping husband, I laid my head on my pillow; I could feel myself ready for sleep. I woke up a few hours later, at 12:30 a.m., I was feeling very nauseous and disoriented. I felt I was suddenly coming down with the flu. I got up and went to the bathroom. As I stood up, my heart started racing wildly. I felt even more nauseous. I felt very afraid. My body was sweaty and clammy. My head was spinning. My chest was hurting. I slowly made it back to the bed after I realized I was not going to get sick. I thought maybe that I just needed to lie down. I felt relief for only a brief moment. Then all of the sudden waves of nausea hit me, as I have never felt before. I felt a strong heat wave go through my body from my head to my toes. I felt my heart beating so fast that I thought it might beat out of my chest! I felt as if I could barely breathe. I was frantically trying to fill my lungs with air. I was very afraid. I felt like I was dying.

In February 2007, I was diagnosed with Anxiety, Panic, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. At first, I fought this diagnosis. I thought PTSD was only for people who served during wartime or who had some sort of major disaster happen in their life. I also did not believe that I had a panic attack. After my first attack, as I lay in the emergency room, I knew this was MUCH more serious than simply being anxious or worried. On that hospital bed, I knew there was something seriously wrong. I knew I was dying.

From all I have learned over the past few years this diagnosis is much more intricate and PTSD, panic and anxiety can go hand in hand. I realize now my diagnosis was correct. With God’s strength, a supportive loving husband and children, as well as two amazing doctors, I am now on a path learning how to control and deal with my panic and anxiety. I am learning trigger points and how to use “the tools in my basket” to help me when situations come up that trigger my anxious response. I am on a journey! For me I know this will be a life-long journey. I know there are many others who are also on a similar journey. Recognizing this fact has also helped me. It is important that we know we are not alone. Our symptoms, triggers, and story may differ, but the underlining issue is the same.

I have felt like my life experiences have been a series of puzzle pieces. I did not know what the final puzzle would look like, but I knew that I needed to put the pieces together to bring order to my life. The goal of this book is to honestly examine each piece as an individual and with God’s help, put them together.

This is not a book complaining about my childhood, or being a victim. This book is not meant to tell every aspect of my life. The events, situations and experiences I tell about are what I feel propelled me into PTSD, panic and anxiety. It was not one event for me; it was a lifetime of events, circumstances and people. As I look back I can see each of these situations and experiences as threads in my life, threads that are not necessarily strong on their own but woven together they created a cord that hung firmly from my neck. The threads, scarlet in color, signify the guilt and shame I felt over different situation and events in my life.

Some things that I mention are to show the patterns I was in that propelled me towards PTSD. I take full responsibility for the things I chose to do and for the relationships, I chose to pursue and stay in. While I do not blame anyone or anything, you will see I was primed for relationships and situations that would plunge me into PTSD, panic and anxiety. You will see certain patterns emerge very early on for me. Perhaps you will be able to recognize patterns and situations in your life and make corrections earlier than I was able to. My heart’s desire is to help someone who needs to hear my story.

As I began this journey of writing I was not sure why or exactly what would come of it. I just knew that I needed to do it. It was very evident to me, as I got closer to the end that God was showing me clearly He was there from the very beginning to the present time. The picture of this is all of the scriptures woven through each chapter. It was as if God was walking through this with me and very lovingly and gently proving Himself to me repeatedly.
I have also added a section called What I Know Now at the end of each chapter. The concept behind this is give you some perspective into what I have learned since then, or a spiritual truth that helped me along the way as I was searching for hope. There is always hope...
Romans 15:4 For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope”.

Tools In My Basket



Many of you have asked me to tell you what are some of the tools in my basket that I use to help me deal with panic/anxiety. I felt the easiest thing to do was to post a part of the chapter in my book A Scarlet Cord of Hope...my life living with guilt, shame, and fear. This particular chapter has my "tools" listed.

This comes from part of chapter 30 titled Let The Healing Begin

1. Breathing….deep breathes in and out.

2. Remove myself from the situation-even if its around the corner for just a moment-close my eyes and breathe.

3. Peppermint! My symptoms always start in my stomach with nausea. Peppermint is amazing!

4. Ginger tea… I keep ginger tea bags on hand at all times. I breathe in the smell of the tea and slowly sip it, feeling the sensation of the warm tea going down my throat-trying to focus on this sensation rather than my anxiety.

5. Slow down… listen to the sounds around me.

6. Keep hydrated…I always keep a water bottle near me.

7. Take a few moments, when needed, to just sit down in a quite room and close my eyes (even just a few minutes makes a huge difference).

8. Be aware of trigger points…my triggers are movies, books or newspaper articles that deal with mental, verbal or physical abuse. Some things bother me more than others- I just have to be aware of how my mind and body are reacting to it. I have asked my husband to keep me accountable when it comes to what we watch on TV.
9. Prayer and reading the Bible. I also write scriptures on index cards and post them on mirrors or cupboards.

10. Physical touch…a hug or hand squeeze (even texture- a soft blanket, a fluffy pillow).

11. Journal - writing things down has really helped….thoughts, feelings, memories, prayers, etc.

12. Listen to soft instrumental music.

13. Communication….talk things over….don’t let things fester or get pushed under the rug.

14. Acknowledge the choices I have. Maybe I can’t change the situation but I can choose how I handle it, if I stay in it, and what I want to do about it.

15. Medication. This was very helpful for me in the beginning of all of this, but now, it is a very rare moment when I need this anymore.

* there is more in this chapter, this is only the list of tools, but I wanted to skip down to the end and share the What I Know Now with you as well:

What I Know Now:

1. The tools I listed above may or may not work for you. I share these with you to give you an idea of the tools that are in my tool basket.

2. As I have learned more about myself my triggers and how my body responds there have been times when I have tried all of my tools and ended up taking medication to ease the panic attack.

3. I will always have panic and anxiety, but as my husband reminded me , it will never be like it was in the beginning. Dr. Anne once said, "you can never unlearn what you have learned".

4. I believe God can use doctors and medication to help or heal.

5. Isaiah 12:2 "Behold God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation".






Monday, August 3, 2009

When God doesn't answer our prayers the way we want

These past six weeks have been very hard on all of us. My son has been very ill this summer. They are pretty sure he contacted Giardia from a local river while at a day camp earlier this summer. The Giardia has now turned into post infectious irritable bowel. He has been dealing with severe nausea and now constipation. I wont go into all the details because my point on this blog is to focus more on the spiritual side of this experience.

From the very first moment that my son showed signs of illness we began to pray. We have covered him in prayer and have reached out to many family, friends and even strangers to also join us in prayer. At first we just wanted to understand what he had and for him to get well. Then as the weeks progressed my anxiety starting getting the best of me and I was worrying that he wouldn't be able to make a trip that was planned for him and and my husband to go to California for a family wedding. They were also going to catch a Giants game while they were there. That is their favorite team and Doug scored GREAT seats. I was looking forward to the quite time at home to focus on my final edits of the book, as I added a new section to each chapter called, What I Know Now. I was also looking forward to spending some quality time with Lauren. As the day for the trip creeped closer and closer, I knew in my heart he would not be ready. The other factor besides the trip is that he starts school August 10th. It is far more important that he is ready for school. As we continued to seek doctors and pray, others prayed with us and a friend even fasted and prayed for Garic. We asked God to please make it clear...should he go on the trip and also PLEASE LORD HEAL HIS BODY. Obviously we wanted him well enough for the trip and school. Garic kept saying I KNOW I will be well enough for the trip. I have faith.

Over the years as I have grown as a Christan (I am certainly not done yet), I have learned to pray for my needs, wants, etc but I also say, "Lord, your will be done". That means here is the answers I am looking for,but if that is not your will, then I put my will aside, and embrace whatever it is you, Lord, have for me at this time. This is so easy to say but when you actually have to put it into practice that is another story. It is also a hard lesson for a 10 (almost 11) year old boy to learn.

I think its so easy to forget who God really is. He is not a magician, nor a jolly old (fat) man, nor is He our own personal genie, that we can make requests and poof we have it. On the other side we are not puppets or robots. How do you reconcile a prayer request knowing God loves you, wants the best for you, has plans to prosper you and not harm you, but you think you know the right way or right answer, so that is what you are praying for (as well as saying, "your will be done") but then it turns out as you pray and ask God to make it clear (God is not a God of confusion), that when you receive the answer it is different than what you wanted. Does this mean God is mean. Does this mean God didn't quite hear you. Does it mean that you were not good enough. Does this mean God is busy with bigger and more meaningful requests. The answer to all of these (and possibly other questions in your mind) is...are you ready?...NO Just as I told my son, yes God heard you, yes God loves you, you (no one) can ever be good enough (we are saved by grace NOT works), God is not mean, but He is just. God is so incredible and more than any human being can fathom. He can multi task thousands upon thousands of things at one time, so the thought that He could ever be to busy is unrealistic. That is why God IS God and we are not.

I know God heard our prayers. I also know He IS healing Garic. I confess, its a slower process than I like or wanted BUT ultimately I am praying for Gods will to be done. My faith is still growing but it is strong enough to say, ok Lord, I surrender now that its clear as crystal that my son is not to go on this trip, but please Lord, let him be well enough for school. My faith has to be just as unwavering if August 10th rolls around and Garic is still dealing with nausea and intestinal issues. I will cry. I will be sad. I may even be mad. And that is ok. We are not expected to be robots and suppress our emotions. The Bible clearly says don't sin in your anger. Anger in itself is not a sin, its what you choose to do with it. I wont sin in my anger but I will still question WHY? and I may never know why, but that is where my faith MUST come in.

We are still praying that God will heal Garic and he will be more than ready for school on August 10th. If he is not then we will be continue to pray, seek medical help and trust that Gods will is being done for His purposes. He loves Garic more than we do. He knows what Garic needs.

I encourage you if you have been disappointed, mad or sad at a prayer request that was not answered the way you wanted, remember we are not God, we may never understand why, but God is sovereign and good. Our faith should not be simply because we get what we want.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Re-set


I hope this blog makes sense, you see my mind is running in high gear the last several days. Just one of the many symptoms I get when I have a panic/anxiety flare up.

I was diagnosed in February 2007 with anxiety, panic and post traumatic stress disorder. It has been over a year since I last had a panic attack. In my naivety I thought that since it had been so long, I have been in therapy, and I have my "basket of tools", that I would always be able to fend them off quickly and without medication. That is not true. Some I can and some will get the best of me but alas, only for a short time. I will have panic and anxiety the rest of my life. But that does not mean I have to live in fear and have a woe is me attitude. This last episode has shown me how well I can read my body and how quickly I can get help.

I know my trigger points and I do my best to stay away from them. Sometimes I have no control over my trigger points though. I was recently in a situation that I had no control over...my son is sick. Very sick. For over three weeks he has battled nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and dehydration. He was admitted into the hospital for an overnight stay because of dehydration and his blood pressure dropped.

The doctors suspect Giardia. He may have picked this up while playing in a local river at a day camp, Of course there is also a chance it is a (nasty) virus or something completely different and unexpected. They decided to treat him as if he has Giardia with a strong antibiotic. Giarida is hard to diagnosis but because all of his symptoms lined up the doctors felt it would be best go ahead and treat. After seven days of antibiotic, he showed slight improvements but still nausea and diarrhea have plagued him.

My husband and I have been doing everything we can possibly do to take care of him, cheer him up, and most of all pray for him. I could feel myself teetering on the verge of a panic attack so I made sure to keep myself hydrated, I ate healthy, I went for walks, I prayed, I journaled, I kept peppermints and ginger tea close by at all times. I tried to remember my breathing exercises. All of the sudden I began to feel extreme nausea (*my panic/anxiety always manifests itself with nausea first), then rapid heart beat, heat waves, a sick panicky feeling. I checked my drawer where I kept my medication. It was expired! I panicked even more! I kept trying to use the tools listed above but nothing was working it was only getting worse. It was Friday July 3rd and I knew the likelihood of connecting with my doctor was going to be slim. Once my symptoms cross this point I have never been able to calm down without taking medication. The symptoms continued for hours and by God's grace I was able to get an appointment with my general practitioner who was able to identify my symptoms and gave me a small prescription and within 20 minutes of taking the medication I was feeling better and my symptoms began to leave me. WHEW!
Once I connected with my psychiatrist she told me it was normal for me to have a panic attack considering the situation with my son's lingering symptoms and health concerns. She said it is as simple as a "re-set". She used the example of how sometimes when you plug in your hair dryer and it doesn't work you need to press the re-set button and then it works. Well, that is what happened with me. I needed to hit my re-set button. I set an appointment with her and have continued to reach into my "basket of tools" as needed. I was scared that I was going to go backwards in all of my success and healing I have had with PTSD, panic and anxiety, but as my wise husband reminded me it will never be like it was in the beginning because we did not know what was going on, I did not have the tools, or if needed medications, to work through the panic/anxiety.

I want to encourage anyone who has anxiety, panic or PTSD that there may come a time when you need to hit your re-set button and if you do its ok. You are not going backwards. I also know that God never left me during that moment and God will never leave you either!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I am From...


I went to a writers workshop today by Minton Sparks. It was one of the best workshops I have ever been to. Minton Sparks is an author and performer. She is much more "artsy" than me, but she intrigued me none the less. I was drawn in by everything she had to say. Another aspect I enjoyed was the rest of the participants. All women (except for Minton's assistant who brought her boyfriend). There were approximately 30 women of all ages, races and backgrounds. We all had opportunities to share bits and pieces of who we are at different times through out the workshop. There is something about that kind of environment that invigorates me. I love to share my story and hear about other life experiences and story's. It never ceases to amaze me how we all really do have a story and more of us are alike in our life experience than we realize. There is something powerful, beautiful and freeing by sharing with others.

Minton gave us four different writing lessons but the one I want to share with you is from a poem she gave us by George Ella Lyon called Where I am From
(go to http://www.georgeellalyon.com/where.html if you want to read it). The point of the lesson was to write brief descriptions of where you are from. There is no right or wrong way to do this and it can change day to day. You can also focus on one area of your life or a person in your life. I wanted to share what I wrote with you. ( I would love to hear your story via this poem expression...feel free to email it to me at sheryl@sherylgriffin.com)

Where I am from...

I am from a duplex in a cul de sac

where large bushes grow

that form purple and blue flowers

and sidewalks never seem to end

I am from fighting, arguing, sadness, divorce, tears and grief

I am from new life, new family

keep it all in-don't let it out

lots of chores and young children to help watch

the smell of cigarettes and stale beer

I am from desires, yearnings, and longings that go unmet

wishful dreams and fairy tales in my head

I am from guilt, shame, and fear

I am from two very different families
one of control on the outside but chaos on the inside and the other of despair, and don't talk about things, head held up, don't let your guard down, and a never ending list of responsibilities

I am from NOW...freedom, peace, forgiveness and looking back with eyes wide open

I am from wholeness in Christ with His arms open wide, a loving husband and two wonderful gifts...my children-together we are from NOW.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Forgiveness

We had a guest speaker this week at church, Debbie French. Debbie is part of our church family. Her husband Steve is one of the church elders. Whenever Debbie speaks I am always listening with both ears and all of my heart. She is a simple yet elegant woman who has her heart and life centered securely on Christ. I could listen to her for hours. She said a lot of powerful things but the one that stuck in my mind the most was on unforgiveness she said, "its like you drinking a bottle of poison and then expecting the other person to die". Wow! Let that soak into your mind and heart just for a minute.

Forgiveness is a powerful word. It is also a simple but yet complex word. It can be easy to say or it can be very hard to say. It can be easy to accept or it can be very challenging to accept.

A few years ago the director at the school that I work at was talking about classroom management and discipline. As I was sharing about a particular situation with two children she told me that it was important that the one who offended asks forgiveness when they understand and are ready but more importantly the one who was offended is not encouraged to say "its ok", but instead simply say, "I forgive you". It took me a while to fully understand and accept this because for my entire life I have been unofficially trained to accept and say "its ok" when someone did something to offend or hurt me. Its not "ok". There is a difference in it being ok and that of forgiving someone. Forgiving someone is not saying that whatever was done or said was "ok" a.k.a acceptable. Saying its ok is like giving permission but by saying I forgive you, that is saying, yes it hurt and it was not ok, but I will release the pain, hurt, disappointment, etc and move forward (in other words I wont drink the poison).

I wish that forgiveness came with an eraser but it doesn't. Sometimes you may have to work a little harder or face something you don't want to, but in the big picture of life when you forgive you are drinking in life and refreshment to your soul not the big bottle of poison that comes attached with unforgiveness. Forgiveness is not offering a free pass to hurt others. Forgiveness is actually a gift to yourself. Freedom to let it go. Unforgiveness holds you in bondage to that person. Somethings are easier to forgive than others. Deep wounds, physical wounds and emotional wounds do hurt and forgiveness doesn't always ease the pain right away but it does help you move forward towards healing. It keeps you from being in bondage to that person.
If we can remember that unforgiveness is like drinking poison while we wait for the other person to die, then maybe just maybe, that will move us towards forgiveness and that will lift the heaviness from our shoulders and our heart. Remember its one day at a time. One moment at a time and as always...there is hope! Make the choice to forgive today.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Best Day


The title of my blog is taken from a song by Taylor Swift. I have recently started bike riding (after looking at my bike in the garage for eight years!) and I knew if I was going to ride for more than five minutes I would need to listen to something. I found my husbands CD player, ear buds and I picked up the Taylor Swift CD. For a few moments as I was pedaling my bike through the neighborhood, I allowed myself the freedom to feel young again. I felt good. I was smiling and even found myself enjoying the challenge of the (slight) uphill inclines as I pushed my legs harder and harder and my breathing became more labored, Taylor continued to sing and this seemed to give me the boost I needed. A few times I found myself wanting to sing out loud as I pedaled on and on. For anyone who knows me that is very unusual. I don't sing. I especially don't enjoy singing out loud for other people to hear me.

As I continued biking around the neighborhood a song that I had not heard before began to play. I tend to be attracted to the music before the words (although the words are very important- that is what sticks in your head and I am firm believer in garbage in-garbage out). The music to this song caught my attention and as I listened to the words I was hooked. I hit the repeat button and played it over and over. If you have not heard this song before I encourage you to listen to it. The song is about a mother and daughter At one point as I was riding and listening I found myself getting emotional and for some odd reason this made me want to pedal harder and faster (note to self...always listen to emotionally powerful songs when exercising). I felt as if this song was meant for me and my daughter. If you have been following my blog you know that my daughter is dating a wonderful young man who has asked us for our blessing to ask her to marry him. There is a plan in place that she knows nothing about (although she knows its coming, she doesn't know when or how). I go back and forth with her because she knows its coming but she doesn't have that ring on her finger quite yet, so when she starts talking about wedding plans or future plans I say..."wait, you don't have a ring on your finger yet"....then there are times that I catch myself doing exactly what I tell her not to do! I comment or day dream about the wedding and her life with her future husband. I am excited for her. When you pray for someone for over twenty years and you have hopes and dreams for your own baby and you can see it unfold right before your eyes...yes, it's hard to have patience, but it will be worth it.

As I listen to this song I day dream about her wedding day and having a mother daughter dance to this song (I know that is not traditional and may sound weird-but we had a mother daughter dance at my wedding and I cherish the memory of her and I dancing together in our white dresses and her sweet little seven year old face beaming love to me as we danced together). I find myself getting sucked into the song as the words play over and over. I can clearly picture my daughter as the five year old putting on her pink coat, smiling, running and exhausted at the end of the day falling asleep on my lap. I find myself emotional because this represents innocence and security. Something I didn't feel as a child and I know that is something my mother never felt as a child. But it is something by God's grace that my daughter did feel. As the song continues she sings about being thirteen and having a fallout with her friends and in the song the mom recognizes this and takes time to love her through it by taking her for a drive and talking with her....I find myself recalling a time when my daughter came home very hurt and upset by friends at school. I didn't take her for a drive outside of town but I did pray with her and teach her to "stomp on the devil" (jump up and down very deliberate and scream loud...."devil you are not going to get this day from me...I am loved, I am beautiful, and you are stinky mean" (well I am not sure those were the exact words its been so long now but I know it was along those lines). As we sat on her bed, she hugged me, we laughed, and she told me she loved me. I know my mom never did this for me and I don't blame her because I know she was never loved the way a child should be. She also never had a sense of security as a child. I know my mom wanted to do the things that I felt I missed out on and now as an adult I can see that, and it moves me towards compassion for her.

As the song goes on she tells of having an excellent father....that is something we all have. I am not talking about a biological father but our excellent father in Heaven who loves us unconditionally. The last two parts of the song are about her reminiscing as she watches a video from her childhood back in the days of princesses and pirate ships and the seven dwarfs. This brings a huge smile to my face as my daughter loved dress up and she loved Snow White and the Seven DORF's (she called them this for years). She goes on to sing about realizing her mom was on her side even when she was wrong. This has me reflecting on my daughters journey the past few years and all she has been through and where she is today (praise God).

This song brings good memories and feelings but I also find myself feeling sad. I am sad for my childhood. I am sad for my mom and her life. I believe its ok to feel this. Its a part of my healing and moving forward. When you have the things in your life that I have dealt with, in order to move forward you need to look back and know that its ok to grieve and be sad. This has helped me tremendously in my journey towards hope.


Its never to late. Today is a new day. One day at a time. One moment at a time. There is hope.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Taking The Mask Off

We all wear masks at different times in our life. These masks are to protect us from the things we perceive that others may judge us by, or somehow make us unacceptable in others eyes, or protect us from pain, or we put them on to make others comfortable around us. There are also other reasons we put our masks on but these are the reasons that speak the loudest to me. I am in a season of life where I have flung my mask off and I never want to wear it again. Its scary. Its hard. It makes me feel vulnerable. I have found the more real I am with those around me they either open up to me and understand or they move away from me. I spent my entire life putting things under the rug and wearing a mask. Trying to be perfect in others eyes. Trying to be everything to everyone. Making other feel comfortable even when I was not. The mask also acted as a shield-shielding others from seeing all of the guilt and shame I carried around on the scarlet cord that invisibly sat firmly around my neck. I think my mind got so tired and the rug got so full that my mind and body finally had enough and that is when I had my first panic attack. I have come a long way since that day in January 2007.

Part of taking off my mask is that I have learned its ok to be real with others. Its ok to say no. Its important for me to understand that I am not responsible for other people's choices or behaviours. I have also learned how to speak up when I am uncomfortable or when I feel that something is not right. That is huge for me.

I realized how far I have come today when we were at Trader Joe's (I love Trader Joe's). One of my favorite items there is the TJ French Roast coffee. I had placed a full container of beans inside the coffee grinder and pushed the button anticipating the smell of fresh coffee beans wafting up to my nose. I noticed the grinder sounded different. I looked in the container and it only had a few inches of coffee inside then I opened the lid to the grinder and using the lid for the container I pushed some of the beans down a little more. I pushed the start button again...nothing but a whirring noise. I found a woman who was pushing a cart of boxes and told her of the dilemma, as she wiped the sweat from her forehead with her hand she said she would be right over to help me. She was over in my aisle within a minute or so. She immediately opened the grinder lid and starting pushing the beans down with her hands. Now I will tell you I am not a germ a phob but I am a firm believer in hand washing or at least use gloves if you are touching someones food (or coffee grinds). She continued to dig her hands around and push the grinds down. I knew in that moment I did not want those coffee grinds any more. I felt myself starting to get uncomfortable. I didn't want to offend her. I spoke up and said, "I appreciate your help but I will just grab another container of coffee beans and use the other grinder-no worries". She said she had it under control and continued to put her hands in the grinder and continued grinding the beans slowly for me. I felt even more uncomfortable and for a moment I thought I would just let her do it and pretend to take the container she gave me and then when she left the aisle I would put that one on the counter and get a fresh container and use the other grinder that was working. I quickly decided that would not be a good option-someone may pick it up and buy it. I knew I needed to "confront" her. I gently touched her arm and said, "I don't mean to be rude but I would prefer a new container of beans, you have put your hands inside the grinder and the beans and while I am sure your hands are clean, I would feel better if I could please get a new container". Her face turned red and she continued moving the beans in the grinder and said, "well my hands are clean I just got back from lunch". I said, "I am sure they are clean but really I want a new container and I will just use this other grinder, I appreciate your help though". She looked at me and shrugged her shoulders and I grabbed another container of beans and used the other grinder. She finished grinding the beans and took the container with her. I finished grinding and went over to tell Doug about our exchange and he said he was proud of me! He knows this was huge for me.

I realized that I would have never done that before. I would have felt obligated to take the coffee beans that she had her hands all over or I would have waited till she was gone and changed it out. I would have put my mask on to make her comfortable. I think you can find a balance of confronting someone or even taking off your mask without being rude. I know I made her uncomfortable because the redness in her face gave it away. My intention was not to embarrass her but to state the truth as it was. Its hard to find the balance sometimes but when you do, oh it feels so good. It also feels good to take off my mask!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

White Lies...Big Lies

Lies seem to come in a variety of sizes and color. For instance we all know the phrase "little white lie". It is supposed to mean its a lie, but not necessarily a BIG or "harmful" lie, but none the less, still a lie. Is it ever ok to tell a white lie? I am certainly not going to point any fingers because I think we are all guilty at some point in our lifetime of telling a "white lie, whether it was to get out of trouble, not hurt someones feelings or just because we don't want to deal with the conversation or situation at the time. Sometimes we tell white lies because we want a particular response from a person. Whatever the reason you can usually convince yourself it was "ok", even though it isn't.

Then there are the BIG lies. These lies are sometimes unbelievable and sometimes very believable. Sometimes these lies hurt you more than the lie itself. It can ruin relationships and trust. Usually you can't justify these, but some how they still come out. I think there is usually an underlining reason for these lies. In all honesty I think there is even a reason for the "white lies"....you are covering up something that you are either ashamed of or you feel the need to make yourself look better in someones eyes. Sometimes people don't want to deal with the issue. Its harder to dig deep and deal with things head on, but lying only puts it under the rug. Its still there. It hasn't gone away. The truth is still there underneath the lie.

A lie no matter the color or the size is sin. The Bible doe not have a measure of which sin is worse the liar, murderer,the stealer, or the gossiper. Sin is sin. We are all sinners (but we have grace, mercy and forgiveness of God at our finger tips) The real point of lies is that whether it is a white lie, big lie or the in between lie, lies hinder you from getting to the real heart of the matter. I encourage you the next time you hear yourself trying to justify a white lie- stop and just be honest with yourself. Ask yourself why? what am I hiding from? how is this really going to help the situation? What do I really need to deal with? and if you find yourself in the unfortunate scenario of a big lie...admit your lie and ask forgiveness directly from the person you lied to and then ask yourself the bigger questions....what do I need to deal with within myself. You will find freedom in honesty. Freedom sometimes comes at a cost but it is worth it.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Asking For A Blessing To Marry




A few weeks ago my daughter's boyfriend asked if he could take my husband and I out to dinner. We already knew why, but we enjoyed the formality of it all. This is also a once in a lifetime moment, so I want to soak in every aspect I can. We set May 13th as the day and it was a moment in time I will treasure forever. After small talk and eating a delicious meal together, he sat nervously across from us and told us his feelings for our daughter and how he would like to have our blessing to ask her to marry him. Since we knew their relationship was heading in this direction we had already discussed questions we wanted to ask, as well as topics we wanted to talk about.
It was important to us to know why he feels Lauren is the one for him. As my husband likes to say..."does she check all of his boxes". What makes her so special to him. Why does he want to spend the rest of his life with her. Does he really want to spend the rest of his life with her? is divorce ever an option for him. Both my husband and I have been previously married. We married without really knowing who we were as individuals nor what we really wanted in a spouse. We also married the first time for all the wrong reasons. (this topic is for another time & our story is in my book....A Scarlet Cord Of Hope...soon to be published summer 2009)

We asked him to tell us what marriage means to him. We asked him personal questions that clearly were none of our business and we gave him an "out" telling him sincerely that he could feel free to tell us, I am not comfortable going there with you or I prefer not to answer that. He remained very open with us answering and commenting on everything we put out on the table. We also asked him to tell us how he views the role of husband as well as the wife and what his feelings and lifestyle choices reflect in the financial area. I wanted to make sure he understood that we support God's ideal for marriage and the leave to cleave part but that we are still connected as a family. The same goes for his family. We have an incrediable opportunity here to not only gain a son in law but also a whole other family connection. The same goes for him.

We also asked Lauren these same questions at different times over the past months. Once you walk in the shoes that we have, you don't want your children to make the same mistakes, this is why it was so important to us to hear their answers and hearts. It was also meant to cause them to think.

We have had many opportunity's to get to know Stephen (and we have watched and listened ALOT), and we have a pretty good idea how he would handle certain aspects like conflicts and anger (fair & Biblical) and do his actions speak louder than his words (yes), is he a man of his word?(yes) is he a man of integrity?(yes) is he capable of taking care of our daughter and future grandchildren (yes), is he a man who will honor God and lead his family by his example (yes). We still talked about these areas though. We shared openly with him about parts of our own testimony as well as where we are now (for the past 13 years).

While I don't want to divulge much more information because somethings do need to stay within the family limits, I will say that I was very impressed with how he thoughtfully answered each question no matter the topic. He was also very good at letting us know he heard our hearts- he understood and respected us. One thing I will share is one of his reasons to our question...what attracted him to Lauren and why does he think she is the one...he answered that he of course was attracted to her, they also shared similar values and morals, but more than that, as he got to know her he saw that family was important to her and he loved the fact that she has a close relationship with us. This was important to him.

Our conversation went from light and easy to deep and emotional. I feel like we each opened our hearts and we also heard each others heart as well. He has made it clear that Lauren checks all his boxes (and he checks all hers as well). We ended dinner with a hand shake and hug! (the hand shake was more in fun but the hug was real!). Welcome to the family Stephen (and I look forward to the day that I can officially call you my future son in law.
Stay posted for the actual engagement...Lauren doesn't know when, how, or where, but we do and my lips are sealed until then

* my soon to be future son in law is in the medical field but his passion is in music. He is a very talented musician and song writer and he has written a special song for Lauren you can hear it at
http://www.myspace.com/stephenbelk

Friday, May 8, 2009

A 28 Mile Walk and the lessons I learned


My son will be graduating from elementary school. He will move on to intermediate school. For the past 17 years, the school he attends has given the 4th graders a rite of passage as they leave elementary school a 28 mile- two day walk. Every student at this school looks forward to this. Every year as the 4th graders triumphantly return the entire school is outside (kindergarten-3rd grade) waving signs and cheering. The 3rd graders look longingly at the 4th graders and dream of their own triumphant entry next year, as the lead teacher smiles and shouts to them "this can be YOU next year"!
In an attempt to prepare the children for the two day event they have walk practice four days a week. They walk three miles in approximately 45 minutes, with the exception of Fridays, each Friday you walk an additional 15 minutes. The last Friday you walk 2 hours. I assumed if I participated in these practices I would be more than ready. The first two practices were very eye opening to me. I assumed "walk" meant like how I walk in the neighborhood with the dog. I was wrong. Walk practices were fast paced and intentional. I knew it would important to go to as many practices as possible, and I did, although I would soon realize these practices would not fully prepare for me for what lay ahead.

There was speculation that the walk may be postponed due to the severe rain we had the past several days. The morning of the walk it was not raining and it was decided we would go ahead with the plans. We started off at a nice pace walking on the road. My husband and I were walking along side our son and enjoying our time together. We walked several hours and then we stopped for lunch. After lunch the group ventured off the road and into the trails. At first it was wonderful. The views were breath taking. The colors, fresh air, the scenery and even the colorful insects....but somewhere all of that stopped. We had to leave the trail because of flooding. We were now in areas that were filled with gooey mud and very narrow "paths". We had to climb uphill in the mud and rocks. Our group got way behind the main group because of the challenge of climbing over dead trees, going down hill in steep mud and complete inexperience (us as well as the most of the children). Before I knew it the teachers who were behind our group were now directly behind us telling us we had to move even faster to catch up! I asked them to please tell the lead teacher to slow down and wait for us...their reply was that we have to push and keep moving faster. While I understood that we needed to be out of the woods before it got dark, I did not understand why the sudden turn of events. How did we get so off track. We apparently needed to make up time and the only way to do that was to move faster. We were already moving as fast as we could. Our eyes stayed fixated on the mud as we looked for the safest best place to step, trying to move FAST, trying to stay safe, all the while going up and down hills in mud. At this point it was no longer enjoyable. Eventually one of the experienced dads realized we were very far back and he came back on his own to lead us to the group. I felt like we were in boot camp. No sympathy, no stopping, no enjoyment, just push through until the end. We continued to climb and slosh in the mud walking in areas that I am sure were never intended for 100 people to walk through. Eighteen miles later and we finally made it to the destination. I have never been so relieved to see a road and waiting vehicles. We were driven to the school that we were staying overnight in. Everyone was exhausted and sore. My right leg was very sore. Even though I was tired, sore, and the day did not at all meet my expectation of what I thought it would be like, I was proud of myself, my husband and our son, we made it....we walked 18 miles, surely the next day with only 10 miles would be a piece of cake compared to today.

After a good nights sleep we were ready for day two. The reality of the last ten miles was that they were far worse than the first eighteen. Extremely narrow "paths" were filled with more mud and there were more steep inclines. Maybe it just seemed worse because I was so sore from the day before. If I ever climb another hillside sideways in the mud it will be to soon! This is also the day that I received the only injury in the family. As we were sloshing through thick mud on a narrow path that was filled with jagged rocks I lost my balance and fell forward onto my right shin. I sat down on a rock and wanted to cry. I said to my husband, " I am done!", but I had to get up and keep going there was no way out except to move forward. I kept reminding myself once we make it to the lunch destination the rest of the "walk" is on the roadway. It will be easier. We made it to lunch and then we started out on the road towards Heart Break Ridge a very steep incline that leads to a road stop where you can see a spectacular water fall. Our group was second and I was determined not to fall back. It was only a matter of minutes (ok seconds) that I realized I didn't have the energy to push hard any more. My leg was very sore by now and before I realized it other groups were passing us. We kept encouraging each other....we can do this! we can do this! but 3/4 of the way up the hill my leg was hurting so bad I was almost in tears. It was then that I knew I needed to stop, after all this was not the Sheryl Griffin walk! it was the 4th grade walk!. There is no shame in stopping. None of the teachers are even going to notice if I make it or not and what good will it do for me to really damage my body....all for what? so I told my husband and son I surrender, but please go on and make it for me! I got into the car that was tracking us and drove the rest of the way up hill into the falls area. My husband and son made it and went to see the falls. I knew it would not be a good idea for me to try to go down there, so I sat and rested my leg and dreamed about a hot shower, ibuprofen, and my pillow!

Apparently according to a few teachers who have done this walk many times, this year was the hardest most challenging walk they have ever had. Now that it has been a few days and I am rested and no longer limping around, I am so proud of our accomplishment and I am grateful that my husband and I were there to experience this with our son. It truly was one of the hardest things I have ever done but I am glad we did it.


Lessons I have learned:

1. Its important to always be prepared....taking this on a spiritual level....this is why it's important to keep your armour on and keep it well maintained-you never know what kind of condition/challenges you may run into

2. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself but also know when to stop

3. Its ok to say that I am not an outdoors adventurous person (and I am glad my husband isn't either- God put us together for a reason!) :) I don't have to be all things to anyone nor do I have to be what someone else is or thinks I should be

4. Life will always be easier if you stay on the path you are supposed to be on (and if you have to take a detour-that is ok-just get back on as soon as possible)

5. If you have faith the size of a mustard seed you will tell this mountain move from here to there and it will move, nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20 (*I wish I would have remembered this verse then! but in all seriousness...this is a verse that speaks volumes to me...two times I wanted to sit down, cry and just go home....but I pushed on and prayed that God would give me the strength and stamina to make it, at that moment, I felt like my faith was the size of a mustard seed and still God heard my prayer!)

6. Sometimes a walk really means a hike...be prepared

7. Never give up on the goal before you

8. I am stronger than I thought I was

9. It is important to take care of our body's (and our spiritual and emotional self as well)

10. Sometimes its ok that you don't know the exact way things will actually happen- if I had known this walk was going to be the way it turned out to be, I would have never agreed to go-at least not both days- I would have clearly missed out on the experience (even as hard as it was) with my son and husband-the end result was... we made it!

I will end with one of my favorite scriptures...this walk was not nearly as extreme as this verse but it is a reminder of His promise to all of us!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you: And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. Isaiah 43:2

Friday, May 1, 2009

Healthy Boundaries


I want to put a disclaimer out....I am not a professional and I am only sharing from my own experiences, opinions and from my heart. It has been a process for me. I had to learn new behaviours and attitudes in regards to healthy boundaries. Its a work in progress. I have not figured it all out. Its one day at a time. One situation at a time.

For me, it was important that I learned to recognize and acknowledge certain things in my life:
A. happened

B. I made choices (good, bad or indifferent)

C. I was not/am not responsible for other peoples choices, actions, feelings or expectations (unless of course I have done something-that is a whole other topic-asking forgiveness and forgiving)

D. I have a choice

E. Its ok NOT to put things under the rug (I am not a confrontational person so this has been hard for me-my nature wants to ignore "it" but my mind and heart say, no wait a minute this is not right, or that hurt my feelings-you will find as you get stronger in this, it may offend people but it is better to be direct as long as you go about it in a firm but gentle way-the goal is not to become over bearing or self righteous-again its that balance)

F. Take responsibility for choices and actions I make/made

G. I don't have to allow other peoples issues, drama or problems, to become mine (there is a balance for being compassionate, helpful and loving-finding that balance is sometimes hard but when you find it you will know in your heart)

H. Create a plan of action and stick to it (if you don't then the person you are creating these boundaries with will get mixed signals and it wont be helpful to you or them)

I. I am powerless to change anyone except myself (although I can continue to pray for that person!)

I admit it is sometimes hard to find that line of being Christ like, but not a door mat. Or compassionate but not taken advantage of. Or even loving but firm. Its a balance.
When I first began to realize it was ok to have healthy boundaries I felt guilty. I had been conditioned my entire life to take on other peoples issues, to serve and protect them, to put my own feelings and choices aside, I took responsibility for things that had nothing to do with me at all. I had to learn it was ok to acknowledge the situation but as I said before I don't have to dance the dance with that person.
I chose the photo of a leopard in a cage because as a visual learner I loved the visual concept this gave me....the cage is a healthy boundary- healthy because if I choose to visit a Zoo the cage keeps me safe from a wild animal and it keeps the tiger safe from those who would want to harm it. The boundary benefits us both. Its the same way when we create boundaries in relationships. The definetion of a boundary (according to Webster) is something that marks or fixes a limit.

If you are struggling with putting up healthy boundaries I want to encourage you that it is ok and it is possible. Remember it's one day at a time and one situation at a time.
Isaiah 41:10, 13 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Mom part 2







My last blog about my mom was the first time that I didn't "publicize" my blog on my facebook or email my friends to say, "I have posted a new blog". I ask myself why this one is so different. I think its because I feel vulnerable for some reason. Its also because this is a piece of my life that is not settled. This is one relationship in my life that I am not sure that laying all the cards on the table (i.e. expressing yourself and bringing up things that need to be brought up in order to have some sense of closure or peace) would be helpful.. In fact I have done that a few times in years past, with my mom and the result is always the same. She is angry. She is a victim. She is hateful. She can make the situation a lot worse than it was in the first place. I have been there, done that and have way to many tee-shirts.

In all honesty I don't even know who my mom is anymore. I am not sure I ever really did. Its not that I want to blame her or accuse her or even that I am mad or hurt by her. I have forgiven her. I have moved forward in my life. Who she has chosen to be in the past five years, is nothing at all like the mom that I even thought I knew. Its very complicated. I love her and respect her as my mother but I have had to learn how to put up healthy boundary's, forgive, let go and move forward. It has not been a easy journey, but it has given me hope.
I am in awe that God has placed my brother, his father and their family, in my life. To have these puzzle pieces (photos and memories) about her past has helped me in many ways. I realize there are always two sides to every story and I am not saying that my mom was the "bad guy" in each relationship. I am sure there is more in each of her relationships that I know nothing about. I am grateful to have the little pieces that I have now.
From all that I have learned over the past two years with my own therapy, I recognize that my mom's wounds go deep. Probably deeper than I even want to think about. That has given me compassion for her. I had to come to a place in life where I needed to recognize the line of someone else's responsibility and choices and that of my own. Its not my job to make everyone happy nor is it my fault if someone I love makes a decision or a choice that I disagree with or if it brings about negative or destructive consequences. I can still love my mom, forgive her, and have compassion for her, but I have learned that I do not have to dance the dance with her.

I want to encourage you if you have a relationship with someone who is struggling with addictions, anger, or mental illness, it is ok to have healthy boundary's. I feel like I could go on and on with this topic and maybe I will on another blog, but for now I want to end with the word....Hope (the photo is of my mom and me- I was 4 months old...the other is a photo of my mom and me the last time I saw her)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Mom...part 1


My mom has been on my mind lately and I don't know why. I thought if I blogged my thoughts it would help me figure it out. We have a very unusual relationship. We live several states away and it has been four or five years since I last saw her. The last few years we have only talked on the phone on birthdays or holidays. This has a lot to do with the boundaries I had to put up. I struggle with what I want to say because I have said so much already in my book. I also have things on my mind that I did not talk about in my book. As I finished writing my book I was given a giant puzzle piece that involves my mom.

Some of you know this and some may not, a few months ago I found my half brother. I had not seen nor heard from in 30 yrs. We have the same mother but different fathers. The way it came about was, in my eyes, a miracle. I had been quietly searching for him for at least 20 yrs. I say quietly because we never talk about things in our family especially things that have to do with the past or confrontations. Things get put under the rug and never get dealt with or resolved.
On a whim I asked a very wise and helpful friend if he knew how I could try to locate my brother through the high school alumni site he helps maintain and oversee. Within hours he and another wonderful wise friend found information for me to contact my brother and informed me that I had been mispelling his last name, all these years by one letter. (*Thank you Larry and Shirley, I will forever be grateful)

My brother is three years older than me. My mom and his dad married when my mom was 15 and she had my brother when she was 16 yrs old. Two years later she left her husband and my brother and met my dad. She became pregnant with me almost as soon as they started dating. They decided to get married July 1965. I was born March 1966. My mom was 18 years old.
Without saying everything that I cover in my book, in a quick nutshell....she and my dad divorced when I was five years old. Although they had a rough start to their marriage they were both committed to one another, in love and were looking forward to being a family. The end of their five year marriage was a different picture, it was filled with adultery, accusations, alcoholism, deception, anger and sadness.

As I mentioned, I have a half brother that I knew nothing about until I was around the age of eight. One day I was feeling very sad and missing my mom (my dad had physical custody of me and I was only allowed to see my mom twice a year, at this time in my life), my dad tried to comfort me but when he recognized it was not working he decided to tell me my mom was not the great mom that I thought she was...according to him she had abandoned me just like she had my brother....I looked at him very confused and then he said, "its time you know....your momma was married before she married me and she had a baby boy. She left him. She abandoned him". I remember feeling angry at my dad because I just knew he was lying. He swore it was true. Fast forward two years and I am visiting my mom and step dad (she married for a 3rd time right after her divorce from my dad was final) for my usual summer two week visit. That is a visit that is etched in my mind forever. That is when my mom told me I did have a older brother. He had located her and wanted to meet her. They arranged it so that I could also meet him.

I dealt with a lot of guilt for not believing my dad in the first place. I also dealt with a lot of other emotions as I realized my mom may not be the mom I thought she was. I will fast forward this to tell you we had contact with my brother for a little over year or so and then as quickly as it started it just ended. No one said why or what happened and I never asked, I some how knew not to.

I was overjoyed when I recently connected with my brother. I have felt he was a missing puzzle piece in my life. We continue to talk and email back and forth as we slowly get to know one another.

An unexpected gift in this, is that I have now become friends with my brothers father. I would have never guessed this in a million years. I know he would not have either. Through his stories, memories and the many photos he has shared with me I have pieced together more of who my mom is or at least who she was.

Some of the things I have realized about her are that the three men in her life who she was married to-they all loved her deeply. They all three fell hard for her. They thought she was beautiful. I also think they all wanted to make her world better. She came from a very hard background and her family life was very sad. All three relationships had lots of drama but they each have kept parts of her i.e photos and memories of the good times. They all have said at different times that she was a hard worker, not afraid to do what needed to be done. She was a good cook. She was clean and neat and orderly. She loved to laugh. She was beautiful. She loved to be around people. She loved to have a good time. She could be kind and generous. There are other things as well, she was very jealous and always suspicious. She accused each of them of infidelity. According to two she cheated on them while she accused them of cheating on her. Drinking and arguments seemed to be very prevalent in each relationship. The end of all three relationships were filled with anger, accusations, deceit, and a lot of sadness.

Over the years my mom has shared bits and pieces of each relationship, some of her stories match up with each of the theirs but most do not. There seems to me, to be enough consistency and patterns in all three relationships that I lean towards not believing her story's. I do not think my mom is lying or making things up, I think she really believes all of the things she has said over the years. It took me years to figure this out. I am still trying to figure some things out and find out who my mom really is. What I do know is that the things that are mentioned about her are all true and exactly how I know her to be as well. TO BE CONTINUED...... (the photo is of my mom and dad in 1965 right before she became pregant with me)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Promise


As a child the word promise did not have a lot of meaning because if you wanted to lie on a promise all you had to do was cross your finger's behind your back and that somehow took away the fact that you just lied. That sounds so foolish now, but I know, as a child, there was a time or two that I took advantage of that concept. Later on in life, as a teenager, when I moved from my dad's home into my moms home, there was the ultimate understanding that you can never ever lie on a promise. If you did the consequences would be severe. Which is kind of interesting when you see the full picture of my relationship with my mom and all that has unfolded over the years. Even with all that has taken place within my life, especially regarding my mom, I have incorporated this concept of making the word promise be the ultimate word. I have told both of my children its always better to tell the truth and risk getting in a little trouble, versus tell a lie and get into A LOT of trouble. In our home if you want to get directly to the bottom of a matter, all you have to do is ask the person, do you promise. As far as I know no one has ever broken a promise in our family. There has been a time or two when there has been some definite hesitation and tears being faced with the word. While, I have never said there would be a severe consequence for a broken promise, I have talked about letting your yes be yes and your no be no, and about being a person of character and integrity. The draw back to this family value is that my children have learned the hard way a lot kids (and even some adults) do not support or practice this in their own life.
My daughter has recently received a promise ring. It has been interesting to hear some of the comments from friends and family. Several people have asked what does a promise ring mean? To my husband and me, it means this is a young man of integrity, character and one who desires to do the right thing by God, Lauren, her family, and his parents. According to Lauren this is the next official step in their relationship. It is a promise for engagement. We all know they are looking towards engagement and marriage but they both want him to officially ask our permission before he places an engagement ring on her finger. While this may seem old fashioned or maybe to much for some, for me this is a prayer and a dream come true. I am thrilled she has a promise ring, especially because of what we value the word promise to mean in our family.

One last thought...I have a little book called God's Promises for Women. Its a reference book that has hundreds and hundreds of Bible verses that tell of promises that God has made to us. I have used this book so much that some of the pages are loose. One of my favorite promises is Hebrews 10:23 "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful". I realize we are all human and at some point in our life we may faced broken promises or maybe we have even broken promises, while there is always forgiveness, we can hold tightly to the fact that God never crosses His fingers, he is incapable of lying... "He who promised is faithful".