Finding the blessings in our pain

Recently there has been quite a bit of pain introduced into my life.  Not necessarily my own, but that of my grandfather, who is dying from stage 4 lung and bone cancer, and from my new foster son who is dealing with emotional issues no one at his age should have to encounter.  Of course, I do have my own enduring pains, including the depression my entire family struggles with and the health problems that have plagued me for years, mostly due to my faulty immune system.

With all of this on my mind in recent days, I found myself in need of comfort.  While shopping the aisles of my local library, I picked up a book entitled “Why Me, Why This, Why Now”, written by Robin Norwood, a well-known therapist and author.  I could tell that Robin was approaching life from a spiritual point of view rather than a scientific one, so I was hoping I would find more than just medical jargon within the pages.  Luckily, I found more than I even expected, including the following thoughtful affirmation:

“I didn’t yet understand that God is always unknowable and that as we move closer to Him, God moves farther away, drawing us higher and higher as we seek and search and try to follow.”

I must admit the above quotation threw me a bit at first.  After all, I had always been told that when me move closer to God, he moves closer to us.  As the Bible verse says, “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you”.  However, I can see the truth in the author’s opinion.  If God always met us where we are, we would fail to advance upon our path of spiritual growth.  By being slightly elusive, God keeps us following him, thirsting for more.  In no way do I want to give the impression that God is cold and uncaring by turning his back on us and walking away.  He is more like the parent who encourages their child’s first steps by standing out of reach and then calling for their child to follow.

The other thoughts the author shared that really hit home were actually part of a list explaining the purpose and reality of human suffering.  Here is the list as Robin Norwood gave it:

1. Deep healing always involves a change of heart and therefore an expansion of consciousness.

2. The cure of a physical condition or illness does not necessarily imply that meaningful healing has taken place.

3. The continuation of a physical condition or illness, even if death eventuates, does not necessarily imply that meaningful healing has not taken place.

4. In the emotional realm, the greater the trauma, the greater the potential for meaningful healing.

5. At the level of thought, the greater the distortion in the belief system, the greater the healing, should that distortion be corrected.

6. The healing of the individual affects the healing of the entire body of humanity; the healing of the body of humanity affects the healing of the entire planet.

Although the above list is fairly self-explanatory, I can’t even begin to tell you how it freed me from untold pain and anguish.  Instead of fighting against the inevitable, making myself and everyone around me miserable in the process, I could allow life to happen, help where I can and leave the rest of it in the hands of someone who knows better than I.  I have always believed that everything, all the good, as well as the bad, happens for a reason, but when you are in the midst of turmoil, it is easy to forget what you have always known to be true.  This helpful book reaffirmed my belief in life and the purpose we are all here to fulfill.  Life is a classroom, and we are all here to learn.  So let us never forget that pain is one of our greatest teachers, and like a diamond, we will only be more beautiful and pure once we are refined.

What’s going on…

Cue the Marvin Gaye song.  Just thought I would write a list of stuff that has been going on in my life lately.  Feel free to comment or even share what is going on in your life!

*The biggest news, at least recently, is that I am now involved in a lawsuit 😦 I can’t really say much more than that at this point, but let me say that it is the first time I have ever been sued for ANYTHING and it has not been a pleasant experience.  For a worrywart like me is feels like some class action lawsuit Xarelto we all heard of.  I do want to specify that this has absolutely nothing to do with my writing career…so don’t worry about that.  It’s just one of the personal inconveniences that is life.

*On a more positive note, my picture book, “Ode to Icky” is going to the printers within the next couple weeks!  It should be available before the holiday season, so keep it in mind for a great gift!  I also have another children’s ebook entitled “Weezie, the Elephant with Allergies” that is almost ready for publication.  I plan to publish it in October, so keep a look out!  It will be available on Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes and Noble (just like my last ebook “In Memory of Dad”).

*We just celebrated our one month anniversary with our new foster son who is 9 years old.  He has been a great kid so far, even if he is an EXTREMELY picky eater.  Hopefully he will grow out of that.  He recently joined the Boy Scouts which has been as much fun for us as it has for him.  At the last den meeting we even played dodgeball, parents vs the kids.  The parents won, although my foster son did manage to get my husband out of the game.  I survived till the bitter end though, even if I did it by hiding behind the men 🙂

Well, I think that’s everything that is important for now.  Please drop me a line and tell me how your life is going.  Would love any advice on how to deal with lawsuit headaches and picky eaters as well!!!

Some Cool Updates

It’s been awhile since I posted a personal blog post, so I wanted to take this opportunity to share a few cool updates about my writing career and stuff in my life.

*My ebook, “In Memory of Dad” is now available on Smashwords, Amazon and Barnes and Noble!  Even better, it is listed as one of the bestsellers on the Smashwords page for the children’s books category!  The book has received several outstanding reviews as well, and is available right now for only a $.99 download in any format!

*My picture book “Ode to Icky” is now finished illustration-wise and will be coming out soon after a final edit!

*Our 9-year-old foster son celebrated his birthday with us today!  He had a great day, between opening his gifts, going roller skating, going to dinner and setting up for a mini B-day party with the kids at church tomorrow.  He told my husband and I that we were his “best friends”…an admission I am sure he will deny in a couple years, but still sweet to hear.

The stuff that is life (or what I thought would never happen to me, but did anyway)

Do you ever wonder how in the world your life ended up where it is now?  I must admit, sometimes I look back on the past and scratch my head in puzzlement.  Ten years ago (when I was 18) I was sure I would never marry, never have kids and I figured I would grow up to be an old cat lady.  I didn’t really have much in the way of ambitions…I had always wanted to be a writer, but felt like that dream was unrealistic and that I should face reality and get on with life.

Now, at the age of 28, I have been married for 8 years to the greatest man I have ever known…and have actually been happy!  I always thought I was far too independent, opinionated and moody for any man to put up with me longterm, but my husband actually seems to enjoy living with me.  Truly, wonders never cease.

When I was 18, I was also convinced that I didn’t like children.  Some of you who know me now may be shocked by that fact, but I really thought I couldn’t stand the little buggers.  Of course, now I think that was simply because I was the baby of the family and was rarely around younger children.  Plus, I often found that my own peer groups were full of dunderheads and nutters.  Now I actually go out of my way to spend time with kids.  Between fostering, working with the kids at church, substitute teaching and writing for kids, I pretty much eat, sleep and breathe kids.  In fact, I am actually looking forward to the thought of adopting a couple of my own!

As for my work life, I thought I would live out my life working at a bookstore or some other retail joint.  An unexpected foot injury when I was 19 derailed those plans, but it actually turned out to be a good thing.  Because of that foot injury, I was forced to get office jobs (which I hated enough, that I became determined to make my dream of becoming a writer a reality).  Now I have two books on the way, have met some of the coolest writers, editors and book lovers around, have pulled in a decent amount of extra income and LOVE my day job.  Of course, I realize that if we get into another financial bind, or if the economy falls too far I will likely have to work again, but at least I know now that I can make my dreams come true (with a lot of help from above)!

So what is the point of this post?  First of all, I am SOOOOOOOO thankful that my life didn’t turn out the way I had planned!  And second of all, never give up on your dreams!  It’s ok to let your childhood fantasies evolve into reachable goals, but never give up on dreaming entirely.  You will miss out on so much if you do.

Learning to love change

Change is a fact of life.  No matter who you are or where you live, your life is bound to go through many, many changes before you leave this earth for the next life.  Some people fight tooth and nail against each change that comes their way, but that only makes you more miserable in the long run.  After all, what is more frustrating than fighting against the inevitable?

Recently our lives have gone through ALOT of change.  Yesterday, my husband and I had a foster son who had been living with us for two and a half years go home for good.  I also have two books that are soon to be published that will bring both happy and scary changes into my life.  Plus, my husband is working towards his Master’s degree in special education so that he can get a different job.  Add to those major adjustments the daily ups and downs of life and you get quite a roller coaster ride.

Sometimes all of this upheaval can be overwhelming.  During those times, I try to find inspiration from others who have been there.  Here are a few of the quotes that have helped me keep perspective while I deal with everything going on around me.  I hope they will comfort and cheer you as well!

“For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.” – Flora Whittemore

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” – Keri Russell

“There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction.” – Winston Churchill

“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” – Arnold Bennett

“We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.” – Charles R. Swindoll

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” – Anatole France

“Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” – Unknown

What’s going on right now…

Watching right now:  “Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole”

Eating right now:  Honey Nut Cheerios and apple juice.

Collecting right now:  Strawberry Shortcake toys from McDonald’s.

Thinking right now:  I hope I’m not boring you to death.

Listening to right now:  Our kitten Po Poe Mao whining because he got locked up for bad behavior.

Wish I had right now:  Some blueberry pie and vanilla ice cream.

Should be doing right now:  Exercising or editing.  Maybe writing my new picture book.

4th of July, Sinus Infections, Sick Kittens and Diarrhea Duty

My husband with Po Poe Mao. See what I mean about the crazy eye whiskers?

The last week has been kind of crazy.  We took home two abandoned kittens and tried to nurse them back to health.  The sickest one didn’t make it despite our best efforts, but the healthier one is now a part of the family.

We named the new little one Po Poe Mao (after Po from Kung Fu Panda, Edgar Allan Poe and the Chinese dictator Mao).  I know the name sounds a little like a Chinese dish, but he looks kind of Asian with his weird white whiskers against his black face.  He has white whiskers not only around his mouth, but also above his eyes, so it gives him a unique look.  He is a tuxedo cat which made me happy because I have always loved those and wanted one.

Besides nursing Mao back to health (and cleaning up a bunch of diarrhea along the way), we have also been busy with our normal foster care duties, July 4th festivities and work.  I came down with a sinus and ear infection too, so it’s just been one heck of a good time this week.

We did go to the fireworks last night, but it wasn’t the same without our foster son who has been with us for over two years.  He is now getting weekend visits with his family, so he doesn’t get to do much fun stuff with us.  It’s amazing how attached you can get to someone in two years, even if you are complete strangers at first.

I am also working on revisions for another picture book that may or may not be published soon, and am working out the plot to a new story in my head.  Sometimes the story just writes itself if I let it simmer awhile.  I need to do some book reviews, but probably won’t get around to that until Tuesday at least.  Tomorrow is a holiday, so I’m taking the day off and going to the zoo!!!

To Keep or Not to Keep…That is the Question

Tonight at church we found a couple kittens who had been abandoned in the parking lot.  They were inside a cardboard box, but other than that, hadn’t been left with any necessities.  We don’t know how long they had been there, but they could have been there since Sunday.  The little guys were starving, but more than that, one of them was obviously ill.  We took them home, gave them a bath, fed them and then tucked them in for the night.

Originally the plan was to drop them off at a shelter tomorrow, but now it’s getting harder to do that.  I told myself I WOULD NOT GET ATTACHED, but then we gave them names and took care of them and snuggled up to them…I worry that it won’t be that easy to part with them now.  We need to make a decision soon, after all, one of them really needs medical care, but should we pay for a vet visit or just take it to the shelter and let the vets there heal it?

Now that I think about it, we probably shouldn’t have given them names, because it will only make it MUCH harder to consider giving them up…but on the other hand, we already have three cats…do we really want five?

Here are some photos of these kittens after their bath.  The first two photos are of Ichabod.  He (or she) looks pretty healthy and is a very loving butterball.  The last two photos are of the sick kitty.  He (or she) is severely underweight, and I figure it probably has worms.  This one is tentatively named Mao…but make sure you say it right…like a cat would.

My Day in a Nutshell

Woke up…went back to sleep.

Woke up again…tempted to go to sleep, but had to potty so figured I might as well get up.

Ate some Brownie Crunch cereal (very good by the way) and then showered, where I had a vicious run-in with a spider.

Went shopping.  Realized everything is way too expensive.  Stopped by PetSmart to see the kitties up for adoption, almost took one home that was on death row.  If she’s still there tomorrow, might have to take her home.  They are so desperate to get rid of her that they are willing to take any amount of money to adopt her AND are giving away a large bag of cat food for free to whoever buys her.

Went home, sat down to do some coloring.  It relaxes me…love the Animal Planet coloring book I bought “for the kids”.

Took our foster son to therapy, listened to a preteen scream and throw a tantrum in the waiting room for the entire hour we were there.

Came home, read some, watched some Sesame Street and wrote a book review.

Took some Tylenol.

Ate an Oreo brownie (those things are GOOD!!!)

And that brings us to this very moment, where I am sharing my mundane life with you. 🙂

So how was your day?

Interview with Jennifer, foster and adoptive mother

For my second personal interview, I have chosen Jennifer, a devoted  mom who has fostered over 40 children in the past six years, and ended  up adopting 5 of those kids.  Though she has been through a lot,  Jennifer keeps a positive outlook and has been able to help many kids by  offering her home and heart to them.

Q: How did you become involved with adoption/foster care?

A: I had always been interested in these children that needed help. A  couple from church fostered and adopted and I always looked up to them. As an  adult, all I wanted was to be a mom. When I found out I would never have  biological children I knew it was just meant for us to help these kids. We  called our local DCS and began classes almost immediately…

Continue reading on Examiner.com Personal Interview #2 with Jennifer, a foster and adoptive mother from Indiana – Dayton Adoptive Families | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/adoptive-families-in-dayton/personal-interview-2-with-jennifer-a-foster-and-adoptive-mother-from-indiana#ixzz1NK0xel4Z