Thursday, July 12, 2018

Let Freedom Ring

Lots of company lately!  Whew!  It's been busy.  Good busy.  It helps keep my mind busy.  I haven't been good at taking pictures...can you believe it?  But here are a few from Independence Day...

We are putting in a patio under the swing at William's grave.  I got an idea and Michael made it happen.  He's so good to me.  ðŸ˜  It is nearly complete.  We just need to pour the concrete.  Then it has to cure for 30 days before I can dye it.  This waiting thing is for the birds.  Everyone knows I am not a patient person.  But I CAN wait...if I know there's something happening and something worth waiting for.  Hmmm...that makes me think of a story I'll have to tell next week. 😂

I am kind of a sarcastic person. 😳  I love a good joke.  I love to tease.  Sometimes I can take it too far, but the truth is, if I'm messing with a person it's only because I like them.  So if I give you a hard time about something, be honored.  It's when I'm quiet that you have to worry....😏  I also joke about my boys a bit.  About them being wild and untamed, energetic and causing grey hairs.  And they are definitely different than the girls, but the truth is, I love it.  I love how adventurous and busy they are and it really doesn't bother me that things get broken sometimes.  Well, maybe a little...😂

I feel like I used to be good at parenting.  Decent, at least.  Now I'm kind of lost.  I don't really know what the right thing to do is.  I just do the best I can and pray that God will fill in the holes.

I found this list and I think it's excellent.  I see so many young men who don't understand these "old-timey" basics.  It's time to relearn them.  I know just a couple of young men who have most of this list down pat.  I hope my own sons get it.


1. Never shake a man’s hand sitting down.
2. Don’t enter a pool by the stairs. (*this one is strange and I'm not quite sure about it)
3. The man at the BBQ Grill is the closest thing to a king. (*a little goofy, but okay)
4. In a negotiation, never make the first offer.
5. Request the late check-out.
6. When entrusted with a secret, keep it.
7. Hold your heroes to a higher standard.
8. Return a borrowed car with a full tank of gas.
9. Play with passion or not at all…
10. When shaking hands, grip firmly and look them in the eye.
11. Don’t let a wishbone grow where a backbone should be.
12. If you need music on the beach, you’re missing the point.
13. Carry two handkerchiefs. The one in your back pocket is for you. The one in your breast pocket is for her. (*Yes! Always take care of your girl!)
14. You marry the girl, you marry her family. (Absolutely!  So, so true!)
15. Be like a duck. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like crazy underneath.
16. Never be afraid to ask out the girl who is way out of your league. (*Absolutely! Confidence makes a man attractive - but not arrogance.)
17. Never turn down a breath mint.
18. A sport coat is worth 1000 words. (*Yep!!!!!)
19. Try writing your own eulogy. Never stop revising.
20. Thank a veteran. Then make it up to him.
21. Eat lunch with the new kid.
22. After writing an angry email, read it carefully. Then delete it.
23. Ask your mother to play. She won’t let you win. (😂Nope!)
24. Manners maketh the man. (😍)
25. Give credit. Take the blame. (*Yep!)
26. Stand up to bullies. Protect those bullied.
27. Write down your dreams.
28. Always protect your siblings.
29. Be confident and humble at the same time.
30. The healthiest relationships are those where you’re a team; where you respect, protect, and stand up for each other.  Choose people who you can have this type of relationship with.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

I can't even put thoughts together, I miss him so much.  Holidays are hard.  Every day is hard.  He should be here.  It just doesn't seem right for things to go on without him.  I live in a fog.  I can't remember numbers or ages.  I have to concentrate to think about how old he would be or how old anyone else IS.  Time stopped for me that day.  Yet it continues.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Siblings and Grief

Over and over, I hear of parents searching for answers on how to help their grieving children.  I don't have a spectacular "quick fix," other than to say that we have to continue to point them to the Lord.  Even when everyone else fails us, His love never does.  But it doesn't mean it's easy to walk through that valley.

I know the girls have struggled with William's death.  They were more than siblings, they were caregivers.  They were deeply invested in his life.  And they wouldn't have had it any other way.

But after his death, I don't think people really knew what to do with them.  I think most people just expected them to be fine.  Very few people have given them the opportunity to be otherwise.  Of course, the church split which happened right after William's death took up everyone's attention and they were largely forgotten.

We are muddling through.  It's still hard.  Perhaps it always will be.  I don't know.  But I do know it seems like we are starting to come alive again.  They are beginning to reach out and forge relationships again.  Slowly.  It was difficult for them before.  It's nearly impossible now, but at least they are trying.

I read this article on Dr. Christina Hibbert's site entitled "Siblings & Grief: 10 Things Everyone Should Know."  I've posted the article in it's entirety here because I feel it's important to shed light on  forgotten grievers and hopefully someone will find it helpful.  If for nothing else, than to find a place of grace for others...

"I’m an expert on siblings and grief. Not because I’m a psychologist who specializes in grief. No. I am an expert because I have lost two of my sisters.

As I write, it is September 8, 2013—20 years to the day that my youngest sister, McLean, or Miki as we called her, died. She died of cancer of the kidneys. She was eight years old. I was eighteen. We buried Miki on September 11, 1993, my mom’s birthday—a date that would forever be marked for my family, a date that would become marked for the United States, and the world, just eight years later.

On October 17, 2007, my closest sister, Shannon, died. Just 16 months apart, we’d grown up together; we knew each other intimately, we were best friends. (You can read a little about both my sisters’ deaths, here, in chapter 3 of my new memoir).

Siblings & Grief

Losing Shannon was even harder for me than losing Miki, and not just because we were closer. For one, I was older when she died–I understood loss better–but even more, because her husband had died just two months prior and she left behind two young sons. My husband and I would raise her sons as our own.

Tragic as it was–hard as it was to suddenly inherit two sons, and as much as I missed her–I still felt sorrier for my parents, for her children, for her close friends, for everyone but me. I’m just the sibling, I thought. How wrong I was. How wrong so many of us are about siblings and grief.

These two experiences have given me unique insight into sibling grief. I’ve experienced how the death of two different siblings, at two different times of my life, and in two unique sets of circumstances has impacted my family and me. These two death experiences were completely different. My understanding and the impact these deaths, based on my age when they died, was completely different. But, both of my sisters’ deaths had a profound impact on my life.

10 Things Everyone Should Know About Siblings & Grief
There are many things people need to learn about siblings and grief. Here are ten I would like everyone to know.

1)   Sibling grief is often misunderstood—by parents, families, friends, and counselors, even by the siblings themselves. So much focus is given to the parents of the lost child, to the children of the lost parent, to the spouse of the lost adult sibling. And, rightly so. But, what about the siblings? What about the ones who, like me, have grown up with the deceased? Who believed they would have a lifetime with their sister or brother? Who now face that lifetime alone?

2)   Sibling grief “has been almost entirely overlooked in the literature on bereavement.”[1] It’s no wonder, therefore, that even mental health providers misunderstand sibling grief. How are families supposed to know how to help siblings through grief if even the research on the subject is lacking?

3)   Common emotions siblings may feel when a brother or sister dies include:
   Loss of Innocence
   Fallout from the Family
   Somatic Symptoms
   Fears and Anxiety

4)   Siblings may feel “trumped” by the grief of other family members. I sure felt this way, and it’s common, since the focus is usually on the parents if a young sibling dies and on the surviving spouse or children if an older sibling dies. This may lead to minimizing a sibling’s own loss.

5)   Young siblings lose innocence when a brother or sister dies, which may lead to fears and anxiety; “Survivor guilt” is also common. Experiencing death as a child becomes a lifelong experience of processing and understanding the loss. Children grow up with grief, understanding more as they get older. Fear of death or dying is common. Anxiety or worry about getting sick may become prevalent. In young siblings, guilt for provocative behavior or for unacceptable feelings (jealousy) is common. Young children may think, before the death, “I wish my brother were dead!” then believe they somehow caused it to happen. Older siblings may wonder, “Why them and not me?” Because siblings are usually similar in age, it can bring up many questions about the sibling’s own life and death, and guilt along with it.

6)   Surviving children do, unfortunately, end up taking the fallout from parents’, siblings’, or other family members’ mistakes, emotional blowups, or neglect. In many ways, siblings often experience a double loss: the loss of their sister or brother, and the loss of their parents (at least for a time, but sometimes, permanently). I know this from experience. Though my parents did the best they could, after my youngest sister died, our entire family was different. My mom retreated into her own grief, staying in her room, depressed and sick for years. My dad retreated into work and anything to take his mind from his pain. Luckily, I was already on my own, in college, at the time; my younger siblings weren’t so lucky. At 9, 11, 14, and 17 years old, they grew up with a completely different set of parents than I had. I tried to step in as a “parent” figure over the years, but the separation from my parents in their time of need profoundly influenced their lives. It profoundly influenced my life. It profoundly changed our family.

7)   Siblings may manifest somatic symptoms of grief, including symptoms that mimic the deceased sibling’s symptoms. Especially in young children, symptoms like stomachaches, headaches, nightmares, body pain, digestive symptoms, and trouble sleeping are common. These should be seen as symptoms of grief, and hopefully, an adult in the family can help siblings work through their feelings and show them how to grieve.

8)   Having someone explain the loss to younger siblings, to be there for them and help them grieve, is ideal. Little children don’t comprehend death in the same way adults do. It is therefore important to have somebody who can walk them through the loss and the grief process, to explain it wasn’t their fault, to validate what they feel. If parents aren’t able to do so, another family member or friend may, and hopefully will, step in.

9)   Even adult siblings will feel the loss deeply. The pain isn’t less simply because you’re older. In fact, in many ways, it’s harder. You understand more. You know what it means to die, and you will feel the pain of the loss in a different way than young children, who still haven’t developed abstract thinking and understanding, will. Grieve your loss. If you’re not sure how, here are some ideas.

10)  My best advice for siblings in grief: Feel the loss as long as you need to, and give yourself time to heal. Because sibling loss is so misunderstood, you may receive messages that make you feel like you should be “over it by now.” They don’t know sibling loss. Now, you do. It takes time. Lots of time. It’s not about “getting over” the loss of a sibling. You don’t get over it. You create your life and move on, when you’re ready. But you will always remember your brother or sister—the missing piece of your life. 

I once heard someone say, “When a parent dies, you lose the past. When a child dies, you lose the future. When a sibling dies, you lose the past and the future.” That is the grief of a sibling—grief for what was past, and grief for what should have been the future. Just remember these things, my friends. Remember to be there for siblings in grief. You can be the difference in helping them create a bright future, even if they now must do so without their beloved sibling."

Thursday, June 28, 2018

For the Love of the Children...

I feel like it's been busier than usual.  Sarah and Abby have both had some major events this past week.

Abby's was on Saturday.  She attended her first rated Working Equitation show.  The shows she's been attending have been schooling shows and she has had the opportunity to learn even while competing.  She has really taken those things she's learned and applied them.  She's always scored well in Ease of Handling (EOH).  Dressage has been her difficult test.  But each time she's competed her personal score has been higher than the time before.

This was an exciting show.  Dressage is always first.  I knew when they came out that they did excellent.  They ended up placing 1st in Dressage!

EOH was next.  I was a little concerned here.  Obi's best obstacle is typically the gate.  They excel at this point.  But he did not do well this time.  Okay, he did well, but not what he is capable of.  They still looked great throughout the entire test, but I knew it wasn't their personal best.  They placed 2nd in EOH!

Their combined scores were high enough that they placed 1st overall!  Wow!  What an exciting first rated show!  Abby was pretty elated...

Later that day we headed over to help Sarah with her campaigning.  And Monday.  And Tuesday.  ðŸ˜œ  The girls had already been helping prior to this final week, but this was "crunch time" and required all of us!

Of course, Sarah's big event was the primary on Tuesday.  I am certainly glad that the primary is over.  And that Sarah comes home today!  ðŸ˜

So Sarah will not be going to DC.  I must admit, there's a little relief there.  I wasn't really looking forward to it but I would have been happy for her if it had worked out.  There are still many plans ahead and I have a feeling she won't sit still for long.  All in the Lord's timing and plan...  However, Abby found out this week that she was accepted as an intern at a facility in New Mexico!  Aargh!  I think they are racing to see who can put the most gray hairs on my head the fastest!  ðŸ˜

Last Saturday, Michael and I headed over to Nichols Hills to help campaign as well.  During the course of our door knocking, we met many interesting people.  One lady I met was astounded at the number of children we have.  Our conversation has been heavy on my mind.

She regrets the way she raised her 3 children.  She said that she raised them in fear of what was going on around us.  Now two them have remained single and one is married with one child.  She is in her 80s.  She said, "I wish more Christians weren't afraid to bring children into this world."

It made me think of how much we let fear control our lives.  Fear of the unknown.  Fear of the known.  Fear of trouble.  Fear of heartache.

But the truth is, God calls us.  He doesn't call us to a life of ease and luxury.  He calls us to duty.  The plan He has laid out for us is to marry and replenish the earth.  We were meant to do this.  Our work is all secondary.  He never told us to have children only when they would face no hardship.  Look at the Christian's of Nero's day.  I wonder how many of them would have intentionally chosen not to have children to keep them from Nero's wickedness.

It is definitely hard.  I fear for the things my children will face in future years.  I fear for what their children will face.  But that fear cannot prevent us from doing God's will, fulfilling His plan.

However, it does do 2 things: it keeps me ever on my knees and it's what keeps me active in our government, fighting for freedoms.  I fight to do my best to prevent my children from having to face what I fear is coming.  When it does come, I pray for God's sustaining hand over them.

Thursday, June 21, 2018


Words are important.

I've always known that.  Words have an impact and they make a statement about who you are.

Long ago, Michael and I decided that we wanted to raise our children to be people who showed honor to others.  We have always required them to use "complete" words (like "yes," instead of "yeah").  It has always been a pet peeve of mine.  They have always done well with it.  I notice it in others.  When a person replies to me with a "yes," instead of "yeah," it tells me something about their character and who they are.  Especially when they don't give a one-word reply ("yes, thank you" or "yes, m'am" instead).

But we have gotten lax.  Severely.

You see, William never said yes.  He couldn't.  He always had a hard time with 's'.  We worked on it, but it was only at the very end of his life that he began to be able to say 's,' sometimes.  Somehow, his signature word became "YEP!"  (I'm really glad it wasn't "yeah," although I don't know how that happened).

As a family, we kind of played with him with "yep," responding to him in like manner.  It was just the cutest thing.  I loved his "yep!"  I miss that sound terribly.

But I've noticed that we've also gotten very lax regarding our speech.  Michael and I don't even notice when our children use words like "yeah" now.  But we're starting to move out of that fog and remember things again.

Training has begun.  ðŸ˜‰

So if you notice any of us using a shortened form of "yes" or "no," by all means, correct us.  Please.  Unless it's "yep."  We're going to hang on to that one.