A Letter to My Mother

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IMG_6279[1]Dear mom,

It’s been a year since your passing.

I believe you’ve been able to see all the goings-on with your family as they bring joy, and I know there’s no tears in heaven.

Life without you has been very different, and you are very much missed.

My children all have photos of you in his/her respective rooms, something that they asked me to do after you passed, and although I wasn’t ready to look at your beautiful face in those photos, they wanted to do it everyday.

When I tuck them in bed each night it is I who am blessed to be able to look at those photos and recall the wisdom you passed onto me with your love – your unconditional love that I took for granted all the years I got to spend with you.

Thank you for teaching me everything I needed to know to “make it” in this world.

I won’t ever be able to demonstrate love like you and I can only hope to strive to be half the person you were with that gift you had.

There are bits and pieces of memories that flood back to me now and then, and even though I may shed a tear because I am no longer able to share more memories with you, the blessings I receive of memories bring me nothing but smiles, joy and hope.

I praise the Lord that somehow through Him you have been able to whisper things to me, including the fact that you are proud of me that I run and am taking care of myself.

Please continue to plead with the Lord to work on softening my father’s heart, as it has been through so much in the past year.

Thank you for continually praying for me and my brother when you were here.  I have no doubt that it was because of those prayers that I am able to write this letter to you today, and share with my family the wisdom, grace, and love that the Lord blesses me with that you passed onto me.

I will be forever grateful to the Lord that he chose you to be my mother, knowing that only you were the one that could pray for me and watch me do the things that I had to do (including mistakes) in order to be the person I am today.

I know I’ll be seeing you in the future, and as you prayed the same sentiments before me, I continue to pray your prayer that the long life ahead of me be filled with Christ-centered thoughts, love, hope and peace.

I love you and miss you,

D’Andra


Here is my mom’s tribute on You Tube.


2015 Year in Review

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2015 Year In ReviewThis year has brought it’s ups, downs, and everything in between.

Much like a Facebook and their version of a “Year in Review” I tried really hard to post photos and memories of my life in this blog.  It ended up being like one of those generated memes of expectation vs. reality….

My Recap:

Blog Wise ~

I posted seventeen (17) blog posts.

I began (drafted) four (4) blog posts that didn’t get published.

I posted seven (7) Instructables this year.  You can also see these on my Instructables tab.  They are shown from the most recent published.

Family Wise ~

My mother passed away in January.

My father successfully recovered from his open heart surgery in 2014 and was able to take care of his grandchildren once again in late February of this year.

My mother-in-law went through her cancer treatments and beat cancer.

My children began swim lessons this year and my oldest ~almost~ passed the highest level (Level 10.)

We went to Hawaii as a family this year.

Our youngest had the last adorable season of youth-soccer, where they don’t keep score and we’re just out there for fun. <Sigh.>

Kids playing soccer just for fun....

Intellectually ~

I read a total of eleven (11) books this year!  Three of them were non-fiction.  My goal was twelve, and I really wanted to count the Rainbow Magic Fashion Fairies that I completed with my daughter, but I didn’t.

Five books completed from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.

The Horse and His Boy

Prince Caspian

The Voyage of the ‘Dawn Treader’

The Silver Chair

and “The Last Battle

With my oldest I read a fun book called “The Year of Billy Miller” by Kevin Henkes.

We completed “The Hobbit” by J.R.R Tolkien this year, and we started on the Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring in the beginning of December.

As a family, we read “James and the Giant Peach” by Roald Dahl.  That book is VERY DIFFERENT from the movie.

I personally finished the book by Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze called “Smart Money Smart Kids“.

My trainer gave me a book that I enjoyed reading (a health book!) by Dr. Kelly Starrett called “Ready to Run: Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally.”

Lastly, I read a book with fellow believers from our church.  That book was “Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint” by Nadia Bolz-Weber.  It was…interesting and overall, a good read but it’s not for the new Christian in my humble opinion.

Health Wise/Physically ~

The biggest thing that happened this year was that I was able to lose 31 pounds in seven months.  I’ve gained about four of those pounds back, but I’m on the way to getting those holiday pounds off by continuing to run.

I’ve managed to avoid taking cholesterol medication that the doctor was going to prescribe me.

I’m also grateful that I’m completely recovered from my knee surgery back in August 2014.  The left knee though….  We’ll just have to see what happens next year.

And Career Wise ~

This is where the “adulting” part of life gets tricky.

I am so grateful for the job I have.  It pays well, I get to leave everything at the office and not take work home with me, and I have great co-workers.

The upper management people are …

well, they are …

hard to deal with to say the least.

As this is a public blog, I will put it like this: follow me on Instagram, and you can get an idea of my life on a daily basis.  I used the hashtag #DsLastProject and there’s 19 photos that will show you how much I loved the job I used to have.

As of January 11, 2016, that will be changing permanently and I will be permanently assigned to a desk job in the Special Projects Section of Design.

A government worker at her finest.

Yup.

~ In Summary ~

  • The first part of the year sucked.
  • My mom went to be with the Lord and the best way to describe how I feel is by repeating what someone told me: Grief comes like a thief.  It steals your joy when you least expect it, despite how well you seem to be doing.
  • No truer words have been spoken to me about my mom’s passing.  I am grateful of everything she taught me, and I know where she is but boy does it suck sometimes not having her around.
  • In April 2015 I made the decision to follow whatever my personal trainer told me to do.  My number one goal was to lose as much weight as I could before I went to Hawaii.  I did it.  I think I lost about 25-pounds before we left in August and when we came back, I began running to hit my next year’s goal – running and completing a half-marathon race.
  • We went to Hawaii in August 2015.  What a place.  We will be going back.
  • Children’s birthday’s and the year-end holiday’s have gone off without a hitch.  (Knocking on wood and praising the Lord right now!)
  • My husband and I have written goals down for the upcoming year, and I have lofty goals for 2016.

I say bring it.

I hope you bring it too.

As always, thanks for reading.

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My Bucket List

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bucket list pic 3-2015You know those blog posts that start off with “When I was a little girl…?”

This is one of those blog posts so get ready –

When I was a little girl, I would dream of marrying a rich man.

No kidding.  I knew I would work, I knew I wanted to be a mom of two boys, I knew God and my mom loved me. (And yes, that means I really wasn’t sure about my dad or my brother, but that’s another story.)

I would tell my mom that he would be tall and handsome, and he would be wealthy so I wouldn’t have to worry about money ever again.

Those truly innocent dreams of my 5 through 9 year old self were a reflection of how I envisioned my life to be easier, not to have to worry like my mother, and to have a man who loved me and took care of me.

The last one in that list was an actual thing that I could see my mom struggling with. My father didn’t spend quality time with us the way fathers are supposed to, and I am the classic-text-book case of not having a father that loved his wife, did not take care of his family and was only there part-time because of selfishness and insecurities.

I could have written that textbook of the problems that come from not having a father around, but, as I’ve stated in previous posts, he’s gotten better the older he gets and will do almost anything he can for his grandchildren.

To quickly finish the story, my husband is the man of my dreams.

He and I got married young (19 and 20 years old,) and we first lived in a one bedroom studio apartment with second-hand furniture, a 16-inch black and white television, and a card table that we used to eat on.  Those were some of the greatest memories of my entire life.  I remember eating lots of potatoes, because I am not a great cook and because they were so inexpensive and I remember the love we felt back then between us because we didn’t have anything else.

My husband and I both graduated college, got good jobs, have purchased homes and he does well selling rubber stamps on remarks.rubbermarks.com.  Please feel free to check them out for custom rubber stamps of pretty much anything you could imagine.  We are very proud of that website and they are having a give-away this week with ten (10) ways to enter! Update: The giveaway is over, but check them out anyway! 😉

Remarks GiveawaySo that intro brings you to where I am at now.  When I was little, my bucket list consisted of marrying an amazing man, owning a home, having children and serving the Lord.

What happens when you do all that?

What happens when you try to plan?

What’s next…..


This entire subject is a bit difficult to talk about for me.
At the end of her life, I would often ask my mom the question: “What did you expect?” and that question would come when she and I were at an impasse of how I had to take time off from work to take her to a doctor’s appointment, or to the store late in the evening when I wanted to be at home with all three of my kids and my husband.  I would usually ask her that question after she told me that she was “sorry” I had to take her places.

She never actually answered that question.

I kind of wish she did.  I would have been blessed by the answer to know if she planned to marry another man, if she wanted to get back together with my father, or if she really thought her children would always take care of her.

I would tell her often, “This is the way it’s supposed to be” and I would tell her that because I believed it, and I knew if she heard me say it, it was going to make her feel a little bit better about her need for someone to take care of her.

<Big sigh.> I miss that woman but I’m glad she’s free.

Blessed is the one
who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

Psalm 40:4-5

The bible tells me that the Lord has plans for us, and I truly believe that.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Psalms is my favorite book of the bible because of its wisdom BUT it also has a ton of warnings.

Psalm 94:11New International Version (NIV)

The Lord knows all human plans;
he knows that they are futile.

I think one of the hardest things to do as I have gotten older is to begin dreaming again.

Many times as a believer I’ve been challenged with the choice to do one thing for myself or do something for someone else in need and one of the greatest examples of this for any parent is usually things you do for your children.

And those are the moments for me that the Lord whispers in my ear that he is my parent too.  He wants me to feel the love of a parent sacrificing everything and anything so that I can enjoy this life.  I now know, and feel that it’s okay to dream again.

I’ve gotten better at dreaming and my screen shot above is my proof.  I started a bucket list on my cell phone. (I can’t get the credit for doing it as it was a friends idea first.) 

There’s a few more ideas in my head, including seeing a volcano and lava flow in real life, which our family hopes to accomplish in August in Hawaii.  I also want to start a Pinterest board with my bucket list items, including ones we accomplish.

My understanding of “bucket lists” is to think of things you really want to do before you leave this earth.  There’s a tinge of excitement that I have when I see this list, but with all the cautiousness of a well-trained Christian woman who knows that our time is short and we do not know when the Lord will take it from us.

I’m not writing this blog post for other people to read and have some profound moment of clarity.  I’m writing it for myself and my children, so that they know that if I make it to retirement age and beyond, I did everything I can to 1. serve the Lord, 2. take care of them, and 3. enjoy the life I’ve been given.  Three things my mom taught me and personally lived.

I believe there is a balance and I know the Lord wants us to enjoy his creation (lava flows), what others have done through his/her talents (Michelangelo’s art), and being a steward of the money we earn that is really His to begin with (hence, giving, giving, giving.)

With however much time I have left on this earth I want to live it to the fullest.  I pray and hope continuously that my family and I get the chance to do the things that please the Lord, as He is what it’s all really about anyway.

Is there anything on your bucket list?

Do you or did you have a hard time making a bucket list too?

Have a great week and continue to be and feel blessed friends.


The blog post that never was….

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Hi!

How are you all doing?

Me – I am uh, dealing.

This post is to commemorate “the blog post that never was.”

Here’s a couple screen shots of it.

Blog post that wasn't1 Blog post that wasn't2
The reason it didn’t get finished or published was because my mom passed away in Week Three of January, on January 16, 2015 to be exact.

In that blog post, I explain how emotionally exhausted I am.

I go over my thoughts on how I was terrified when my mom fell for the second time in a week, and wasn’t able to pick herself up off the floor or get to a phone for hours.  I wasn’t even in town to pick her up off the floor myself.

The week was crazy, there’s no doubt about that.

My brother and I were able to be there on Friday morning when my mom passed.  It was – dare I say it in writing – almost beautiful.


See, when you are a believer, there is nothing in this world that can save you.  It’s all from another place.  It’s all from the spiritual world that our souls go to as we pass through this world.  This is what I know and feel with all my being.

I will see my mom again.

Her not here on this planet to suffer any longer is her reward for a lifetime of service to the Most High.  She gets to hang out with her mom, her mother-in-law, her sister, her brothers, and so many others that have come before us who believed in Jesus Christ.

I’m actually kind-of jealous, but I know I have work here to do and I certainly don’t want my time to come yet.

But you know what else –

It’s really sucks to not have her here too.

My brother and I can agree on that every time we see each other.

I wanted to start to blog again.  I spoke with the doctor yesterday and he said the more times I tell my story, the easier it will get to move on.

With that, I’d like to say that I’m back.  Not to normal, because that’s not possible anymore, but hopefully I’ll get used to my new normal.

I’ll be seeing you. <Big virtual hug.>


Pregnancy and Loss Remembrance Day

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So, I’m on Instagram.

I follow chels819 and she’s the author of a blog called Starbucks, Peace and the Pursuit of a baby.

Her blog on the title of this post is here:

TrialsBringPeace.com

 She posted an Instagram post this morning that really tugged at my heart strings. October 15 - pregnancy loss awareness day

Here is her notes about the post –

Today is set aside to join together for ‘Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day’ – a day where people can find support in community, sharing and giving love despite the fact that all our circumstances may be very different. We offer support to those who understand what we have gone through by loss and we receive support from those who simply love and embrace us as observers in our story. We are so thankful for you all. My #blog has been updated with a special post about this day and the link is in the profile. To be clear, today isn’t about looking for pity or sad eyes or making anyone uncomfortable. It’s about embracing the love we have to give and share and remembering these little lives that were cut short and now get to spend time in heaven with their Creator. Too many suffer from this pain quietly. I’m here if you ever want to talk … or just have someone listen. You’re not alone and your lost little ones were so loved. I ask that today, between 7-8pm in your timezone, that you light a candle in your home and join in a world wide “wave of light” as we remember little ones lost from our own family or in honor of the families who have suffered. What a beautiful wave this creates across the globe and is incredibly touching. (DM me a picture of yours if you’d like, I would love to join in with a prayer and heart of gratitude as I remember our 2 miscarriages and 7 lost transferred embryos. Or if your profile is set to public, you’re welcome to tag me in it). Help us celebrate this special day … Give these babies and infants the honor they deserve and the love their families need.

#miscarriages #miscarriage #pregnancyloss #infantdeath #october15 #waveoflight #awareness #tearsandremembrance

I think the thing about my miscarriages that I want to get across to everyone that reads this post is this: I am not looking for sympathy or to make anyone uncomfortable.  That is so not me.

I would rather tell you something that is hard for me to fathom on most days.

Despite my miscarriages, I was blessed with three healthy, beautiful, perfect (to me) children.

Me.

I was blessed. pregnancy & loss awareness day

I remember when I was pregnant with my fifth child, my living daughter, I told my husband that I was done having children, especially if this one didn’t make it.  Thankfully she made it to full term and is now turning five really soon.

And then we were blessed with our third precious child whom I usually refer to as #mybaby or E.  He is our gift and still is.  I know the Lord has great things planned for him, as he does with my other children of course, but he is such a gift.

My posted picture on Instagram was planned in my head all day, taken by my husband.  I had a miscarriage before I had my oldest son, represented by the first candle.

My oldest son was 22-months old when I had a DNC for my third child, one whom I got to see the heartbeat and one that I will always hold in my heart.  That loss hurts the most.

The fourth baby was ectopic but thankfully I was spared from another surgery.  I was put on medication for almost four months before my body finally dispelled the pregnancy hormones in its entirety.  Those months were awful mentally and that miscarriage was the reason I didn’t want to keep trying.

As we took this photo, my children didn’t understand why we were taking it.  I told them I wanted to and they went with it.  Did I mention they were perfect?

My story: My life is full.

I have so much to be thankful for.  And yet, I will never forget my losses. 

You have hope. There is always hope.  My hope lies in Christ alone and I pray you know him and the joy he brings.

I look at those faces and will always believe with every fiber of my being there is a God and he loves me more than I love those children.

As I write this blog, mostly for my children to understand me when they are older, I pray my words will help others know that you are not alone.


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